Friday, January 31, 2014

And For More Culture...

Back in high school we would get these required monthly subscriptions of magazines and comic books our parents paid for at the start of the year. One such thing is Gospel Komiks, with stories on how the gospels for that month can be applied in real life. The stories in Gospel are fun, except that the conflicts are always resolved the same way: the kontrabida would overhear the bida praying out loud how the kontrabida is making her miserable and asking for providence and guidance on how to deal with this nefarious bitch, making the kontrabida feel kunsensya eventually change her evil evil ways. This never worked in real life. I once prayed out loud for a Mitsubishi Family Computer for my parents to overhear, and come Christmas time they got me a pair of Hanford briefs.

There was this another monthly religious magazine which we did not read as much, and Namtab Pots and I would always skip to the poetry column of someone named Tito Leo. In his column he publishes a couple of poems sent by his readers. He then critiques each poem, more often than not ripping them to shreds. The religious theme and touchy-feely feel of the entire magazine did not stop him from being the critic from hell. It was the only fun portion of that magazine.

Sort of inspired by that column, and having edited the school paper (being able to publish a record-breaking... 4 issues in my editorship), I tried my hand in poetry. In college I would write a lot, scribbling them in a sort of journal, which makes me want to vomeeeeet now. After that short stint in college I've reverted back to prose writing, and since there were no blogs then I only had one reader other than myself: Mrs. Therese. Her comments are usually funnier than my actual stories, but I think my prose have aged well as I can still read them and not cringe. I've recently tried reading one of my college poems, and it made me want to dunk my head in the toilet bowl in pure infernal kahihiyan.

Recently our oncology chair in PGH has decided to put together a sort of literary publication, with the over-arching theme, of course, being... cancer. She asked me to write one, and not having written a poem since 1998 I had my reservations--do I want to put out yet another evidence of juvenile cheesiness with which I could be blackmailed ten years hence? I've relented, so here... in its poet-poetan glory (yes you've been reading one long segue)... is my poem called "The Rarest".

The Rarest
Wilfredo L. Liangco

I guess I shouldn’t have played
In Scrabble
Twenty years ago
(10 points, not even a double).
Because nothing else
Would explain
Why I’m growing a new lung
In my liver
Or is it a new liver
In my lung
Or a new brain
In my calves
Or a new bone
Nothing else
Would explain
Why it’s not the vagrant druggie
Or the recidivist
Or the rave partyist
Or the faux-religionist-moneyist-terrorist sin trifecta
But you still say
It’s not my fault.

Explain away,
Why my body is revolting
Against itself
And your drugs.
Explain away why don’t you,
How you can look
At my scans
And swoon
What an extraordinary scan it is!
How I’m rare
And special
And a mutant
The mutantest among twenty million people.
Patronize away,
How you would write me
In a case report
And showcase in New Zealand
Because I’m rare.
I guess all I can say,
Is gee thanks,
Glad to be of service
In muscling up your travels.

Maybe then I should be
The president
Of a support group of mutants
Being rare
The rarest
And we’ll share stories
Of disenchantment
And the regret
Of not having puffed that puff
Twenty years ago
For a healthy lifestyle.
We’ll gather around
All in a room
Except in six months
We might need new members
A new president
A new muse
A new song
New platitudes
Or how about a new treatment
How about that.

O di ba. I've wanted to end on a positive/cheery note, but all I could think of was to write a perfunctory "AHOY!" as the last line, which did not exactly fit. Wow, how much more cultured could I get, I've watched a fantastic musical AND attempted to write poetry in the same month! AHAHAHAHAHAH!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Getting Cultured

Many months ago my friend from high school Ruth Marx (not his real name; I've christened him Ruth Marx because he was the only one who knows who Ruth Marx is) bought two tickets for the musical Wicked. Then he learned that his supposed date couldn't get a leave from work and told me that if his next options wouldn't make it he would take me. I'm not into stage plays and musicals as I've fallen asleep in the few I've seen (ie, Wizard of Oz where Smoketh and Frichmond had to wake me up repeatedly in Greenbelt many years ago). Last week Ruth has confirmed that there was no one else to take, so I jumped at the chance. I always jump at the chance to get free stuff, a skill I've honed in fellowship training.

Being a person with no culture and breeding, I know only two things about Wicked: it has Defying Gravity as sung in Glee, and that it's a prequel of The Wizard of Oz. As expected I've seen a lot of PGH people in the area. While waiting near the fountain area who should run zipping past me but someone who looked like... Frichmond. She whizzed by so fast (expert jogger na) so I decided to wait until she got back up in the circular track before I scream "Frichmond!" Frichmond-look-alike did not return, and as it turned out Frichmond-look-alike was indeed Frichmond. Whenever I see Frichmond I taste cold beer in my mouth. This is learned behavior as Frichmond has been my only drinking buddy in the past two years in Whore House. During the twenty-minute break I saw Bubble, but was not able to call her as she was running to the ladies' room, and I was also running to the men's room. I also saw M.Q.M, but I think he was conversing intently with a date so I've decided not to bother them. I also saw Fungelya, but we hated him back in residency so there was no point in being perfunctory.

There were so many wealthy-/cultured-/bourgeois-looking people in the waiting area, and whenever I'm surrounded by these sorts of people I get the urge to ask loudly, "San po ang kubeta?" As we were waiting for the show to start inside the theater I continued looking around the audience asking Ruth, "Ay, bakit walang artista o sikat na tao? Bakit walang Kapuso? Ajejejejeje." I now can't tell if I'm being earnest or just making fun of jeje-ness.

"Ayun o, si Justice Secretary Leila de Lima," Ruth said. I got thrilled at the prospect of seeing a famous person but when I turned around, it was not Justice Secretary Leila de Lima. Kamukha lang.

The show finally started and I was amazed at the entire look of the musical--the props, costumes, etc. We were five rows away from the stage so we got to see a lot of details. In my head, stage play props always consist of crepe paper, cartolina, sequins from National Bookstore, and painted styrofoam, but this was not the case. It pays to be inosente (in the derogatory sense)--the feeling of amazement and wonder is thrilling, something I haven't felt since those elementary field trips to the Planetarium and UP Diliman. And the voices, I didn't think people could sing that high. By the time it was Defying Gravity I was completely won over, and I now understand those people I've longed thought of as O.A. who travel to Singapore just to watch this musical.

There was a bit of down time after the break, but things started to pick up again quickly. During one of the most poignant performances, the one where the two witches were singing change for good, you could feel the audience getting drawn in, some were sobbing. The air was thick with emotion until, a few seats from me, there was a sudden loud CRASH!--a chair collapsed from the weight of a huge guy in the audience. Everyone got distracted for two seconds and glanced at the source of the infernal sound, but quickly focused their attention back at the stage. For a few minutes the humongous, corpulent guy sitting on it couldn't move--he got stuck in the crashed chair.

Crashing sound from a broken chair due to high BMI aside, Wicked was one bad-ass motherfucker. Magaling, Alfalfa and Belinda, magaling.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Isang Sakong Pasensya Cookies

Nakaka-apat na buwan na ako dito sa isteyj ng buhay na tinatawag na "private practice". Hindi naman ako nag-eexpect na winner agad ang practice, at pinrepare ko na rin naman ang sarili ko sa often-cited phase na "pagbibilang ng butiki sa kisame" o "pagbibilang ng crack sa pader" o "pagmamarathon ng Law and Order SVU" sa clinic, ie, zero patients, or more appropriately, THERO patients. Ganunpaman, nakakairita pa rin. AHAHAHAHAHA. Parang hindi sulit ang pag-aaral at pagte-train ng maraming, maraming taon all for this. Sana kirarir ko na lang ang pagsusulat, o kaya ay nagpaganda ng katawan para makagawa ng home-made porn. Ang mga buwan na nakalipas ay mas pinahirapan pa ng mga preparasyon, ie, mga kapapelan at kagastusan.

Matapos naming makadaan sa butas ng karayon na medical oncology boards ay nag klinik-klinik na ako sa mga maliliit na primary care clinics. Nagreserba ako ng isang weekday para mag-asikaso ng mga bagay-bagay, ie, ADULT STUFF. Hindi na ako nag-hire ng accountant dahil wala naman syang i-aaccount, kaya ako na lang mismo ang pumunta sa BIR para mag-register. Umabot ito ng apat na oras. Pero hindi pa syempre doon natapos ang registration, kailangan ko pa intayin ang ilang linggo para makuha ang mga booklet ng resibo.

TAPOS, kailangan din pala mag-ayos ng Philhealth na nagkakahalaga ng lampas sampung libo. PERO, requirement pala dito ang makakuha ng certificate of good standing sa PMA at sa local chapter nito ATSAKA sa specialty societies, na syempre ay may kaakibat din ng mga KABAYARAN. Inabot ako ng DALAWANG buwan para makuha ang mga leklat na cerficates of good standing, umikot pa kasi sa buong LUZON ang mga papeles para mapirmahan ng iba't ibang doktor. Na-sense na siguro ng local chapter officer ang aking pagkabagot ng sinabi kong "PWEDE PO BANG AKO NA LANG ANG MAG-IIKOT AT MAGHAHAGILAP NG TAO PARA MAGPAPIRMA?" AHAHAHAHAHA. Syempre ang sabi nya, "HINDI!"

So finally nakapag-file na ako ng Philhealth gamit ang perang pinangutang ko pa (dahil 1,000 na lang ang laman ng bank account ko by that time AHAHAHAHAHAHA). Sabi ko, finally makakapag-admit na ako ng patients at kikita-kita na kahit papaano. BUT! TWO MONTHS pa ang inintay para magkaroon ng accreditation number. Tama si Renrerenrenren na isa nang ganap na pulmonologist (congrats!)-- kailangan ng isang sakong PASENCIA COOKIES sa pag-aayos ng requirements. Pwede ko namang ayusin na ang lahat ng ito kahit nagte-training pa lang ako, pero syempre, as usual, rate limiting ang pera at oras sa pagpunta-punta kung saan-saan.

Ganunpaman, hindi rin naman kikita from admissions dahil syempre, kailangan ng ospital na pag-aadmitan, at karamihan sa mga ospital ngayon ay nag-rerequire na ng mga stocks, right to practice, privilege to practice, privilege to hold clinics, hospital development fund, or kung anu-ano pang tawag basta ang gist ay magbayad ka sa ospital ng P150,000 to P450,000 para maging active status ka. May option namang hindi magbayad at maging visiting physician na lang, PERO, para makapag-admit ay syempre kailangan ng... PASYENTE! Na wala. AHAHAHAHHA.

No wonder, at this stage ni Thymes a few months back, ay nagdecide syang bumili ng plane ticket, magsuot ng burqa, at pumunta sa Mindanao kung saan wala syang kakilala para doon mag-practice. Ito pala ang tinatawag FUCK IT stage. Or for more drama, FUCK EEEEEEEEEEET stage.

All together now: FUCK EEEEEEEEET (or kung maganda na practice mo, good for you, hindi kailangang sumabay).