No Buko, No Pie

Counting Down 2013

What defined my year? Career. But I’d rather define my year with the little moments that made me skip, smile, and feel like a little girl…at least sometimes.

Sail away, 2013! You've been good.

Sail away, 2013! You’ve been good.

CAN’T GET OVER MOMENT. “The Red Wedding” from Game of Thrones S03 E09. Despite the spoiler that sprouted from my FB news feed, nothing prepared me for what went on in that behemoth of an episode. My GOT friends on FB sympathized with me and kept posting GOT-related posts on my timeline. My male colleagues got the brunt of this grief,¬† and I didn’t spare them the spoilers. When it was their turn to take in the shock, these men flocked to my corner and sought refuge, proof that you just cannot get over something like that easily. Runner-up: “The National Anthem,” Black Mirror S01 E01.

SONG OF THE YEAR. “Just Friends (Sunny)” by Musiq Soulchild. Not a new song, but it gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling, like Christmas on a summer’s day . Runners-up: Clarity, Blurred Lines, Love on Top.

MOVIE OF THE YEAR. Given that this was mostly a year of TV series, I guess I would say “Frozen,” because it brought back the classic Disney magic when it came to story-telling, while at the same time being “anti-Disney.”

ICONIC MOMENT OF THE YEAR. The moment I found out I passed my specialty board exams and the events that lead up to that. It was only slightly reminiscent of my first board exams years ago, except this meant the culmination of years of finding my true path. That was how monumental those exams were. Back in January, when I realized that none of what I was reading was penetrating the deepest recesses of my sulci, I resorted to the more pricey way of studying for the board exams – cafes the whole day everyday. On Feb 15, I was a weekend warrior on a bus en route to three beaches in Quezon, when Luke Skywalker called me up. He couldn’t stand not knowing whether or not I passed, so he called the Secretariat at 8 am on a Saturday to pester her on my results. It was Luke who first knew that I am officially a specialist. And what iconic way of knowing than with a weekend adventure that usually defined my profession.


Dampalitan Beach in Quezon is one of those few beaches with pine trees instead of coconuts.


Bouldering in Borawan. Just so we’re clear, Paolo was acting as my spotter, thus, ensuring my safety.


Puting Buhangin with its white sand, crystal blue waters, beautiful cave, and sea urchins that attack. At least that’s how I recall it.

BREAKAWAY MOMENT. Hosting an event for the first time. I can talk in front of a team, I can deliver oral reports, but I have never hosted. I have observed up close how professionals do it. And so with a double dose of bibo, I went in front of that crowd and co-hosted with a friend. I would seriously do it again.

BIGGEST REVELATION. How much people believed in me and my potential.

MOST HEARTWARMING MOMENT. I gained a fan in the person of Potpot, a 3-year-old girl. She knew who I was when she saw me and excitedly called my attention, kept talking to me, kept talking about me to anyone afterwards, and demanded her mom to invite me to her birthday party.

EVIL GENIUS MOMENT. When I convinced three people to…let’s just say, sell their souls to me. It was something that had to happen, and we have since maintained our friendship, which still bewilders me. It’s as if none of them still suspect that I was really the one that formulated that scheme, or that they actually “sold their souls” to me. It may appear like a evil genius move, but it was truly more for my survival.

ADVICE OF THE YEAR. Came from my young associate whom I fondly call “Bunso.” She said, “Doc, we gotta have G, as in game. Dahil kung walang G, ang PAG-ASA ay nagiging PAASA.

FONDEST “PANG-UUTO.” My bosses wanted me to give out a fun activity, hence, I organized an Amazing Race for the whole team. They went absolutely wild!!! My favorite challenge was when I asked them to go to a convenience store and build a 5-tiered sundae cone. Which reminds me…

BEST BABAW ACCOMPLISHMENT. To build a 5-tiered sundae cone with one take. I did this to dry run the challenge.

IMG_8990BEST SPUR OF THE MOMENT TRIP. Bringing 2 Indian friends and a young associate to Liliw, Laguna to go shoe shopping. Maddy went crazy and nipped 9 pairs in just one hour. She later told me, “I’m so happy! I feel like I’m in heaven!!” Awww! And I was so glad I was able to do that for her.

BEST IMPULSIVE DECISION. Signing up for the Activities Committee of Mensa. Did it without thinking. Which brings me to…

EPIPHANY OF THE YEAR. I can be an events organizer if I wanted to. The people at work believe I know the best adventures, the best restaurants, the best bars…I’m not really sure why.

SWEETEST REUNIONS. Re-connecting with Slipknot after 11 years. Being with Sailor Moon after a year, but this time with her dream role – being a mommy. And a surprise call from K-pop.

MOST MEMORABLE WTF MOMENT. I was already passed out in my friend’s bed one night. Johnny Bravo, my buddy of the year last year, picked me up because he was saying goodbye. I am used to saying goodbye to him with a hug and kiss. This time, though, I got a kiss on my lips. WTF?! A nanosecond later, I thought I was too drunk to care, so I went back to sleep.

MOST “UN-MEMORABLE” WTF MOMENT. Joaquin Bordado (a mutual friend with Johnny Bravo), thought I was at least 8 years younger than my real age. I didn’t realize that despite the years of friendship, he still doesn’t know that we have a 12-year age gap. He kept guessing and was astonished with each wrong guess. What’s even more dumbfounding to me was that we had this same conversation twice – on the eve of my birthday, and 3 months later on the eve of his birthday – and he clearly has no recollection of it.

BEST LESSON. Something I’ve known all along, but I had to re-learn the hard way – follow your passion and happiness will follow.

SOUL CONNECTION OF THE YEAR. Havarti, hands down.

It’s been 12 years.

Moody has been driving for what seemed like hours. The image of Hope with another man has scarred him. Better this way, he thinks. This is the beginning of the end of an addiction.

But that was 12 years ago.

Moody can’t let go. “I got it right the first time,” he says. And he let it define him.

Moody wants to break free, but can’t seem to. There is comfort with all his ghosts. “Let go of them all,” says Faith. “It’s time for you to check out.”

“You are afraid of me because I am no ghost. Accept that I am real. Accept that I make you defenseless. Accept that you have been waiting for that all these years.”

Grab it. Don’t think twice. You can’t say no.


Do you know what the inspiration was for the Sydney Opera House? It was the simple act of peeling an orange: the 14 shells, when combined, will form a perfect sphere.

It’s amazing how something as simple as an orange can pave the way for some of the more complex geometries of modern architecture. Its design techniques and its construction involved a lot of firsts in architecture and engineering. In 2007, The Sydney Opera House was made into a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

I guess this is something good to think about the next time you think your idea is simple and maybe insignificant. Or maybe the next time you think the odds are against you, because with a little more courage you might be onto something big.

I’m a big girl now

I saw them from afar – this married couple who are both physicians and both my colleagues in a former company. The fact that they know my face and my whole name says a lot about social media and possibly how much they have been talking about me. I’ve never talked to them, except for the wife who interviewed me years ago.

“Hello! Who is with you?”

That was a startling question for me. Do people really need to always be with somebody?

“It’s just me!” I said it with a smile and confidence.

“Are you shopping?”

For furniture, but I didn’t want to explain. “Yes, I am! Are you?”

And then they started cramming in what they were shopping for and why; that they were flooded in, and something about a leather jacket I didn’t comprehend – all within what’s left of the escalator ride.

With that, we parted ways and I proceeded to hunt for my book shelf.

I usually shop the way most strategic women do – check out the scene before you make a decision on what to buy. But for that night, I was a man. I went straight for the shelves, and when I found one that fits my loft, fits my price, and would be easy to transport, I bought it immediately.

Didn’t mind that I had to assemble everything myself. I was actually looking forward to the project. I had screw drivers and determination. Sales guy asked if I had a hammer – now that was something I had to find out. Nonetheless, I didn’t buy one. I figured I can just borrow from my neighbors and make a new friend.

Most Filipinos are a little co-dependent. I’m glad I’m not anymore. Why should I plan my day around another person’s schedule? Why should that be a deterrent to going to the gym, shopping, or going to a place you’ve always wanted to see? If you don’t do it now, you’re most likely never going to do it.

So I’m not bothered if I shop alone. I’m becoming a seasoned shopper because being alone allows me to deliberate, to plan my course of action, and to sprint (if that’s what it takes).

I sometimes travel alone so I don’t have to be bothered if the other person is at all interested with my impulsive decision to climb a wall because I saw it in the cab on the way to a museum, or even having the geeky thought of going to the museum in the first place.

In my rare alone time, I am secure enough to dine by myself. Why should it be an issue?

I have a sense of achievement for being decisive on home improvement, cause there’s no one there now to decide on how to fix the faucet, or make sure something sticks to the wall, or – on this particular night – how to build a bookshelf.

As soon as I arrived home, I searched for my screw drivers and some other tools. Found all of them. But I also found a 2-year-old unused hammer mingling with the others. I did forget that I have it.

I smiled with the memory of who got me the hammer in the first place.



Before 2013 started, I came up with this list of best from 2012. I guess I didn’t post it because of #1; that’s how shy I can be.

It’s the first of June and I realized that not much has happened to me compared to last year. I better start making my moves…


1. BEST FIRST TIME EXPERIENCE: Kissing in an open parking lot. To have allowed it was actually an amazing feat for me, being that I shy away from PDA.

2. BEST SPUR OF THE MOMENT TRAVEL DECISION: Going to Cebu in September. Despite the suddenness, I got a promo flight, booked into a good hotel, and my travel plans around the city went as planned despite the busy convention schedule.

3. BEST UNPLANNED LAST MINUTE CHANGE: Pinatubo and Cebu in two back-to-back weekends last summer.

4. BEST COUCH POTATO MOMENT: A night in a hotel that was way over budget to get over a sadness.

5. BEST REALIZATION: That when I really want a project, the universe really would align for it.

6. BEST LESSON: Practice what you preach. It wasn’t something that happened to me, but it happened to someone whom I used to look up to.

7. BEST SPUR OF THE MOMENT RENDEZVOUS: When I ran into a friend I haven’t seen in 10 years. Worth mentioning – said friend and I have a lot of unfinished business. Runner-up: Pioneer, cause it was with a friend whom I haven’t spoken to in some time, and we were both bored on a night when the metro was practically a ghost town.

8. ICONIC MOMENT OF THE YEAR: To be called to do Bourne without even applying for it.

9. FAVORITE VICTORY: To topple down someone whom we thought we couldn’t, and to do so without that person suspecting that I had a role in it.

10. MOST HEART-WARMING FAREWELL: Sailor Moon. As I was getting inside the car, tears were welling up , and I felt like a mom wiping the tears and telling her, “Don’t cry.” Runner-up: K-pop, cause I didn’t think he was capable of initiating an emo moment when we were drinking before he left for Shanghai.

11. THEME SONG OF THE YEAR: In This Life. Runner-up: Sexy and I Know It. I get a kick out of it.

12. MOST MEMORABLE WTF MOMENT: Drinking Ocho – 8 shots of espresso – without even knowing it. Hollywood thought it was a thoughtful gesture when he learned I hadn’t had enough sleep. Ironically, I wanted to doze off even for just 2 hours. He never heard the last of it that day.

13. FAVORITE NEW CONNECTION: Mucho Lucho. He found me through LinkedIn. And what made this a favorite connection was that – he wasn’t a freak, not a geek, and is totally cool. It also helped that he was majorly good looking.

14. MOST INDEPENDENT MOMENT: To win a contract for another TV show without the help of our former mentors.

15. BEST ANIMAL ENCOUNTER: Whale sharks, hands down.

16. NEW FAVORITE FOOD: Death by Tablea. Runner-up: Indian food, Persian food

17. BUDDY OF THE YEAR: Johnny Bravo, even if I only saw him once this year. He never fails to give sensible advice. That said advice changed my life towards the end of the year.

18. GUY OF THE YEAR: Try two. Some days, I’d say Hollywood; some days, it’s Snowboarder.


Green Tea Latte

Sometimes you get accustomed to a certain type of coffee that you can’t imagine having anything else. You take in a lot of variations of it – hot, cold, ice blended, flavored, brewed – but you just stay with coffee.

After a while, coffee becomes your reality.

And so when a nice hot green tea latte first landed my taste buds, I couldn’t imagine why I have limited my choices to just coffee.

But of course, I’m not talking about coffee nor tea. And I may or may not be talking about you.




“If I didn’t take that flight, I think our story will be different. I think we will go on.”

But I didn’t think so. I think the romanticism will settle and reality will kick in. And then it will just be the same story as anybody’s.

“At least you and I have a strong foundation because we started off as long time friends. We would have handled any situation better.”

Maybe. But I think breaking up was with reason – I eventually found myself and you have daughters.

Maybe all that has been happening is so overwhelming, you’d like to believe there is something there. Look, you left 12 years ago. We broke up a year later. You got married a month after. Eleven years later, you realize are not happy, so it’s quite natural that you would think that the relationship before that would probably have been better. When you begin to wonder what may have happened, that will open up a lot of romantic ideas. And since none of it is coming to life, then that only fuels your assumptions that ours may have been blissful.

The period after our break up was the darkest time in my professional life and it reflected in my personal life. I wouldn’t have made a good wife and mother. I think that would eventually have broken us. If we really were meant to be together, that certainly wasn’t our time.

And now you are with me, the first time in 11 years. Everything is so surreal. The last time we sat together was during a time when people around us were happy that we were holding hands and were seemingly inseparable. Now, we’re just sitting side by side in front of an empty garden at 1 am.

Pardon me for being a cynic. I think I was once a romantic, and with each relationship a part of that has died. I’m too scared to get to that point when things get real. Perhaps that’s the reason why I am too afraid to settle down. I like the thrill of getting to know the person and loving each second of their company, and dread the day when there is nothing left.

Does that make me someone who is not meant to be with somebody for a lifetime?

I worry about that sometimes.

As our moment in that time warp was nearing its end, I suddenly had an uneasy feeling in my gut. What may have happened if he hadn’t left? What could happen if I ask him to stay? Since we both have our own lives now that we have to face, we agreed to leave each other be. If there is a next time for us, then it shall come.

I am loving my life now, but why do I think this was one of our greatest nights since that night we first met on the beach seventeen years ago?

Maybe I am still a romantic after all…

Day 47: Two Guys


A year ago today, I did a house call on a sick guy at The Mandarin. He was starting to feel better, and so it was the first time he was in good spirits to thank me for the effort I have done for him for 3 straight nights. He was especially grateful because he was here working on Bourne Legacy and have no family around. He felt the “sacrifice” I made for him on the night of Feb 14 was noble.

The truth was – I never celebrate Feb 14. In fact, I turned down a date with a really nice guy that night. I’d rather check on these patients and made sure they were better. I proudly wear that choice on my sleeve.

As for really nice guy, we eventually went out, but that’s a different story and a different day.

Day 114: Butandings

butanding 2_optAnd this was how close I got.

Chieko and I hopped on our second adventure to fly to Cebu. My dive master friend, Louie, recommended the area rather than Donsol because of its clearer waters and smaller crowds. It was still considered a bit of a secret in April, as seen by a yet undeveloped beach resort. Not that we were complaining.

Once in Cebu City, we went to South Terminal to catch a bus to Oslob. An aircon bus (they call the line Ceres) leaves every 15mins. When you enter the terminal, you have to pay P5, and then proceed to Gate 15 where the bus to Oslob is parked. Tell the conductor that you’re going to Oslob or Tanaw-an, Oslob and they easily can detect you are going for the butanding and they know where to drop you off. After 2.5 hours, the conductor was waking us up as we had just pulled over in front of the resort.

We immediately got ourselves prepared for the butanding experience. If you plan to stay in the boat, you pay them, P300; if you plan to swim with them, that’s P500 even if you brought your own mask + snorkel, like in my case. (These were the rates in April 2012. It may have increased by now.)

They said that they accommodate 10 people in a boat and we made friends with them. After  a little orientation, we were on a boat with a group of cousins and Sylvia, a French traveler. The experience was said to be just strictly 30 minutes, and I had an issue with that. After some cutesy negotiating, the boatmen were considerate and allowed us to be there for an hour.

Phase 1: Excitement. Riding with a group of equally excited adventurers.

Phase 1: Excitement. Riding with a group of equally excited adventurers.

The waters were clear and in no time a flock of butandings started to approach us. The whole experience will make you experience a whole spectrum of emotions akin to my experience in Jellyfish Lake. At first, a great anticipation, followed by bewilderment, a sense of peace and tranquility, and finally panic when they finally become too comfortable with your presence and start coming close to you.

Phase 2: "Wooooowwwww!"

Phase 2: “Wooooowwwww!”

It was so serene and they were so majestic. At some point when there was no one surrounding me, it really felt so special that these whale sharks would just come really close to you, sometimes even 2 at a time.

Phase 3: Peaceful and feeling like time has stopped.

Phase 3: Peaceful and feeling like time has stopped.

Like Jaws, except it isn't.

Like Jaws, except it isn’t.

But as the staff said, be mindful of the following: no flash photography, keep a distance of 3 meters from their body, 4 meters from their tail, and do not ever touch nor feed them.

Phase 4: After a while, when the whale sharks got soooo close - screw serene - we were screaming cause "HOMAYGAWD!! THE TAIL! THE TAIIIIIIILLLLLL!!!"

Phase 4: After a while, when the whale sharks got soooo close – screw serene – we were screaming cause “HOMAYGAWD!! THE TAIL! THE TAIIIIIIILLLLLL!!!”

So that was me pulling up my knees when a butanding suddenly emerged from under me. While we were oriented well and had every intention following these guidelines, the whale sharks sorely needed their own orientation.

Noticeable there were fishermen feeding these whale sharks. They think they are doing them a favor, but it is altering their natural behavior. Later, I was able to chat with the resort owner who proudly told me the whale sharks come all year round because they feed them. That was sad.

Feed me, pare.

Feed me, pare.

All-in-all, we had >15 sightings of butandings, but they could very well be just 5 of them that just came back again and again. Not a minute would pass without an encounter with them, sometimes 2 to 5 at a time. Best animal encounter ever? Maybe not for me. However, it’s certainly tied up with jelly fish lake and reef sharks for top position. (Butandings would claim top spot depending on my mood). But Oslob’s clear waters and sure sightings did not disappoint. Plus, it did not take much paddling to reach the area where these butandings come out.

I didn’t notice the time much, but I knew it was long and was probably an hour anyway. The experience was well worth it!

After some photo-ops and a quick shower (as there were still limited shower rooms at that time), Chieko and I waited for the bus that will take us to Bato, Cebu where we would be boarding another bus to Moalboal.

View from across the resort. Now you have contact details. (This photo taken in April 2012)

View from across the resort. It says to contact Marilyn (+6390685693895, or +639335835736). This photo was taken in April 2012.


Right across the resort is Sumilon Island. HERE’S A TIPID TIP: Netnet, the manager that day, said that she can arrange for a boat good for 15 for P3,000 so you can swim and snorkel for an UNLIMITED number of hours around Sumilon. Then, if you plan to spend the night, you can just check in her resort.

The island across this resort is Sumilon, Cebu, another great island resort, I've read. It has white beaches, a lagoon, and a lot more scenic spots. Chieko and I would have gone had we not had plans on snorkeling and beachineering in Moalboal.

The island across this resort is Sumilon, Cebu, another great island resort, I’ve read. It has white beaches, a lagoon, and a lot more scenic spots. Chieko and I would have gone had we not had plans on snorkeling and beachineering in Moalboal.

Relationship Advice for my Guy Friends

My Facebook status at 11:45pm:

Nabo-bore ako. Magtanong naman kayo sa akin ng problema sa relationship. Di ko nga lang pinapangako ang matinong payo…

Pwede ring hindi matino ang tanong nyo.


Maybe I was just really sleep-deprived at this point…so were my guy friends,


Doc mahal kaya niya ako? Hahaha – Cocoy


1. Is she real?

2. Does she know you exist?

3. Nag-uusap kayo?

Kung ang sagot sa tatlo ay yes, then may posibilidad na mahal ka nya kung hindi pa. Ang payo ko sa ‘yo: kumuha ka ng sample ng buhok nya (masipag ka naman e) at ilagay sa ilalim ng unan mo para mapanaginipan ka nya. Pag gising nya, mahal ka na nya. Works 8 out of 10 times.


Doc, saan ba nakakabili ng washing machine na pambabae lang? Sawang sawa na ako maglaba ng damit naming mag asawa eh. – Geoff

Geoff, it does not exist. Pang-lalake lang talaga. Pero parang hindi ito pang-relationship advice. BUT dahil kaibigan kita, ito ang payo ko: bigyan mo sya ng isang dosenang brand new hangers. Tapos lagyan mo ng message na “I MISS HANGING OUT WITH YOU.”

Di ka man makakuha ng washing machine na pang-babae, sabay naman kayong maglalaba. Sorry, maglalaba ka pa rin. Works 9 out of 10 times.


May problema ako sa relationship ko sa bacon, pano ko sya ititigil? Nasisira na diet ko… – Pao

Maging ako ay ganyan. May bagong sundae sa Mc Donald’s na kahit isang buwan kong binabalikbalikan ay di ko pa rin matandaan ang pangalan. Parang choco dipped sundae na oreo-filled. Kung di ko maalala ang pangalan pero binabalikan ko sya kahit pasado hatinggabi, then it must be true love.

So don’t let that bacon go. True love happens once in a lifetime, but bacon can happen 3 times a day. Or even more. Then it must be greater than true love.

…oh, and bacon will stay in your heart forever.