Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hari ng Sablay

Recently I was tasked to do the closing remarks at our Case Presentation at the Center for Behavioral Sciences in Cebu and as usual, I had another case of the all too familiar nervousness. Well, it was minor this time- my hands had slight tremors (like some side-effect of an anti-psychotic drug haha!!) as I read the names of the guests, but the whole speech itself was not a complete disaster. I doubt though, if most of the audience noticed since it was near lunch and I gather, we were all hypoglycemic.

I've never been much of a public speaker (I wonder why they keep asking me to do that. Is it because I am among the oldest in my batch? hehe), especially if the audience is new to me or somehow their numbers exceed a hundred.

Some people are perhaps born with a certain gift- an inclination for the arts, a knack for mathematics and spatial perception, or a natural skill of a wordsmith. I was not among those fortunate, in fact I was among another bunch: the "trying hard" category. In the process of "trying hard"- to be a designer or writer or manager or public speaker or adventurer or nurse for that matter- I think I've had more bloopers than the average person.

Doing something one is terrified of can be quite unsettling to say the least, but I do it anyway. Charge it to experience and never mind saving face. Humor helps a lot when I look back at all those things- forgetting lines in front of a thousand people, or turning red as a tomato as you feel prying eyes on you, shamelessly approaching editors and real-life writers, or carelessly assisting a delivery...

I'd like to think one day I'll outgrow all that. But for now, how many more blunders to go? I say, bring it on! ; )

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


There are certain things one has to remember when being in the Psych ward, such as: number one, sharpen your peripheral vision- you never know whether your once-calm patient would suddenly have the irresistible urge to pull your hair or perhaps throw feces at you (excuse me for those eating at the moment). Number two, treat your patients with respect you would give to a fellow human being- so when someone bites you don't bite back (kidding), just maintain control and restrain your patient. You are the sane one, remember? Number three, stay calm. When chaos erupts don't run for the nearest exit, it's your job to make sure patients don't hurt others- or themselves.

With these in mind, around fifty of us tiptoed through the double-locked (from the inside and from the outside) iron gate to finally meet with our patients for the first time. Being fidgety amateurs must give off some kind of potent pheromones because even catatonic patients rolled their eyes, as if they could sense the fear permeating from our pristine white uniforms.

Though I cannot divulge certain information or descriptions, I can say as much that I'm thankful my patient was neither too unruly nor violent. But of course, either due to fear, inexperience, or the language barrier (my first language is Waray, while patients are Cebuano- and though we tried to improve our Cebuano speak the past months, it was simply impossible to be fluent in a short period of time), blunders are unavoidable. For example:

Female Psych Patient: "Gwapo, hampa hampa ta!" ("Handsome, let's f*ck")

Granting that I knew only a few Cebuano words, I uttered the first Cebuano word that flew to my mind: "Unya, unya!" (Later, later!)

I was supposed to say "Dili pwede" (No, that's forbidden!)

I kept scribbling on my little notebook (praying I'd be able to decipher my notes later) during the history-taking and kept jumbling names calling one patient "Sheena" when her name was Shiela, or "Myra" when her name was Myrna. No wonder they all had puzzled looks on their faces. I must have confused them further.

Towards the end of the shift, I somehow found myself with my back against the steel gate. My only task was to open and close the gate for the food and medication deliveries. Temporarily, I suppose, with the few minutes of little to no interaction with the patients, I found myself more useful than a nuissance.

Another day approaches, with the hope that I get to be more efficient than a human padlock.

Monday, April 6, 2009

"Mr. Ugly"

As I started to doze off to NGC (my regular lullaby) I heard a voice say: "We are looking for Mr. Ugly, a man with traditional Chinese features like chinky eyes, a small chin, and a small nose, so we can transform him to a modern day Adonis that conforms to the Global standards of beauty."

The feature was on the recent plastic surgery craze in China, a country who once abhorred vanity and excess. Apparently at present, dime-a-dozen clinics sprouted out of nowhere to cater to the surge in the demand for these enhancements.

A gorgeous Chinese woman was being interviewed. She was the first "Man-made beauty" who, after numerous surgeries ranging from rhinoplasty, to eyelid enhancement, to breast augmentation, achieved celebrity status. But something was wrong with the picture- she was no longer chinky-eyed; her nose looked finer and thinner, her lips fuller, her face somewhat angular. Then I saw a cosmetic ad featuring supermodel Linda Evangelista just behind her and suddenly understood. That kind of beauty was what they were trying to copy.

"In exchange for thousands of dollars worth of free surgeries, she gets to enjoy fame and adulation as a 'walking advertisement' for plastic surgery. Our business has tripled because of her." Beamed the plastic surgeon, of his creation.

Nowadays we are bombarded by media of all sorts, predominantly showing one type of beauty- Caucasian. People started to think the ONLY way to look beautiful and feel good about themselves is to emulate THE look. But what of dusky Pinoy beauty or the chinky, sweet Chinese features? Whats wrong with being petite, or having brown skin of a typical Malay? Are Tisoys and Tisays the new and only standards of beauty?

It was surprising, to say the least, to see men and women in the segment,voluntarily enduring pain and going to great lengths to try to be more attractive in today's unrealistic standards. Would you suffer through local anesthesia as the plastic surgeon chisels your facial bones while you swallow blood, so later you'd look like George Clooney's (Asian) clone? I know of a man who did that, and he went on to host the first-ever "artificial beauty pageant" in China.

Botched surgeries and horror stories of deformities from the not-so-lucky who went to substandard clinics barely even dampen people's appetite. Maybe we've also become so caught up with appearances and forgot that substance matters more than form.

Judgement aside, looking at the gorgeous "artificial beauties" against the glare of spotlights and the constant popping of flashbulbs, I could not help but think- maybe all they needed was a mere change of perspective.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Out of the Frying Pan, into the Fire

Middle earth? It's just UP Dil.
Hidden Valley.
Melchor Hall- where the College of Architecture used to be (before we had our own building).
Last duty at NICU, before the Cebu affiliation.
Snippets of my week in photos- a short breather after the finale of a tumultuous third year and the impending Psychiatric ward duty. A few hours from now I'll be dragging my obese suitcase to school for the assembly.

I've got butterflies thinking of the next two weeks- no internet access (prohibited, besides I don't think we'll have time), no nights out, new dorm, new patients... But it's a good scare- the kind that challenges one to adapt to new situations shake one out of complacency.

Bring it on! Haha, just please don't give me a violent patient ;-) Thanks for the visit, in the meantime I hope the archives can entertain you for a while. Carpe diem, my friend!


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