SEVEN DEADLY “MEDICAL” SINS

The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things

The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him:  haughty eyes,  a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood,  a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.”

–  Proverbs 6:16-19

Yes, the seven deadly sins are truly deadly for physicians.

It is essential to ponder on life and the need for repentance.  In the process of saving lives, health care professionals may fall into traps that can lead to the inability to fulfill one’s full potential.  The seven deadly sins are real – and we need divine intervention to triumph over their enticements.

If you want to grow both spiritually and in your chosen career, avoid these fatal transgressions:

1.  Pride: “Pride leads to destruction, and arrogance to downfall.” (Proverbs 16:18)

An excessive belief in one’s own ability in the face of success is common among physicians.  Never forget that a healer is just an instrument of God’s infinite kindness.  Thank the Lord today for giving you the privilege to touch other people’s lives.  Maintain your humility, and watch people flock towards you and provide you with your needs.

2.  Envy : “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.” (1 Peter 2:1-2)

There is nothing wrong with the desire to have what others have.  But if this is accompanied with hope for the other person’s downfall or demise, it becomes sinful.  Never be covetous.  Being a professional, you already have more than what most people have.  Show love to every patient and colleague you encounter each day.

3.  Lust : “But now I tell you: Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28)

When you have so many things, you become more alluring to others.  Bridle all your passions, and channel them to actions that are more constructive.  It’s normal to be attracted to others, so practice self-control.  You may lose your status just because of one little secret affair.

4.  Wrath:  “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)

Some doctors and nurses can be cruel at times.  The inherent stress of the medical environment may lead to conflicts that spawn turmoil.  Be patient and kind in the face of other people’s limitations.  You were also ignorant and limited once upon a time.

5.  Gluttony: “Drunkards and gluttons will be reduced to poverty.  If all you do is eat and sleep, you will soon be wearing rags.” (Proverbs 23:21)

Want to spend your earnings in a casino while sipping a Dom Perignon?  Want to have sponsored free dinner buffets everyday?  While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to live it up, there’s something wrong with wanting to have so much more than what you actually need.  Be more generous and donate your excesses to people who must have it.

6.  Greed: “They have lost all feeling of shame; they give themselves over to vice and do all sorts of indecent things without restraint.” (Ephesians 4:19)

Related to gluttony, greed has been the downfall of many.  This is about more than money.  It could signify taking undeserved credit or praise – hogging the limelight instead of others. It could also relate to doing good but expecting something in return. Greed is the longing to want something more than what is fair and just – including professional fees.

7.  Sloth: “The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns, but the path of the upright is a highway.” (Proverbs 15:19)

Health care is a lot of work.  But it must be done.  If one has the habit of passing on the job to others, remember that the commander still retains accountability and responsibility.  Having the zeal to respond to valid orders is part and parcel of being a true professional.

Are you surprised that the seven deadly sins are also the seven deadly medical sins?

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JEREMY LIN AND THE KEYS TO PERSEVERANCE

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“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

–  Calvin Coolidge

It’s the story of the season.  Jeremy Lin, the undrafted Taiwanese-American who was cut and neglected by at least 2 other NBA teams, has taken the New York Knicks to new heights.  Never offered an athletic scholarship, Lin studied Economics at Harvard, but he never gave up on his dream of playing professional basketball.  Today he is “Linsanity”, leading the lowly Knicks to respectability despite the absence of its established superstars.  The Media circus surrounding his meteoric rise has spread to Asia, with the audience watching NBA games in Taiwan reaching record proportions.

What are the keys to perseverance?  In a nutshell, persistence can be spelled out as JEREMY LIN.

J – Just Do it.  Take action even when presented with obstacles.  Not all lights will be green, but just keep moving.  Lin moved from one team to another, until he found the New York Knicks.

E – Endure to the end.  Remember that nothing worth achieving comes easy.  And Jeremy was probably thinking of ending his dream for good.  Lin was nearly cut by the Knicks too, but due to injuries to its starters, he got his chance.  The break was all he needed to show his wares.

R – Realistic.  If you have a seemingly insurmountable goal, break it down into smaller, more attainable targets.  Lin toiled with Harvard when Stanford University gave him a cold shoulder.  He played in the NBA developmental league.  He warmed the bench.  But he knew that all of these were stepping stones.  He decided to take it once step at a time, because realistically, he did not have the outstanding credentials to become an instant success.

E – End in Mind.  Keep your eye on the prize.  All Lin wanted  was to play in the NBA.  He got more than he wanted – and he is now slated to be a permanent fixture in New York’s roster.

M – Master your craft.  Keep getting better.  Lin was academically smart, but he needed to improve his basketball IQ.  Until now he is learning – he is prone to commit turnovers, but because of his gutsy play, he is never afraid to make mistakes.  That’s the mark of a great player.

Y – Yield when needed.  Sometimes you need to take the backseat for the sake of your team.  When the superstars returned, Lin was more than willing to play with them and churn out more victories.  Never think that the world revolves around you.  Getting over the hump is easier when the burden is shared with others.

L – Live by the day.  Enjoy the ride, cherish the journey.  Don’t deprive yourself of life’s simple pleasures on the road to success.  Jeremy is enjoying the limelight.  He seems so natural in interviews.  But he knows that ultimately he has a goal to fulfill.

I – Inspire yourself.  Look up to others.  Be inspired and motivate yourself everyday.  Yao Ming, the Chinese basketball great, has surely been an inspiration for Lin.  It’s great to have a model to follow – a framework to reach a destination.  Yao has paved the way, and Jeremy has followed.

N – Never give up.  You will get cut.  You will be rejected.  You will warm the bench.  But if it’s worth the wait, never, never give up.

So where will Jeremy Lin go from here?  It’s all up to him.  And it’s all up to you to decide to follow JEREMY LIN.

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE A C.H.A.M.P.I.O.N. ?

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“You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.”

Zig Ziglar

I just attended the opening ceremonies of the Philippine Academy of Family Physicians (PAFP) Annual Convention.  This year’s theme, “The Family Physician: C.H.A.M.P.I.O.N. of Filipino Families”, aptly describes the mission of the academy.  In a nutshell, the acronym  C.H.A.M.P.I.O.N. signifies doctors who share Common values  whose Collaborative efforts result in the creation of Health Policies that benefit others in an atmosphere of Academic  Excellence.  Family doctors must also Manage health care resources as Primary gatekeepers practicing cost-effective care without compromising Patient Safety.  Information Technology is also utilized to deliver Overall holistic care, with New knowledge being generated through research studies.

While the mission is full of idealism and passion for the healing art, the question still remains:  Can Health And Medicine Persevere Inspite Of Negativity?  Are our dreams of a better country hopeless in the face of the brain drain that still prevails, luring the best and the brightest doctors of the land to practice outside the Philippines?

In my opinion, here are the steps that must be taken to truly upgrade our health care system.

1.  COMPENSATION for physicians must improve.  Our doctors only earn an average of Php 20,000 ($450) a month.  And I say AVERAGE, which means some earn even less on a monthly basis.  Call center agents earn even more than some physicians.

2.  HMOs must bring their act together.  Our health maintenance organizations have policies that leave much to be desired – late payments, low coverage amounts for members, and too much meddling on the private practices of doctors.  Hopefully, HMOs can become more accessible to the general public, and be more physician-friendly.

3.  ACADEMIC overhaul.  The Philippine Medical Act of 1959 is now outdated.  We must start rethinking policies on Medical Education, Physician licensure, and the practice of medicine in the country.

4.  MEDICINES and drugs must be closely monitored.  The Cheaper Medicines Act needs some rethinking.  A lot of the generics drug out in the market are sadly lacking in bioequivalence studies.  The Food and Drug Administraion must look out for companies producing substandard drugs.

5.  PARTNERSHIPS must be strengthened.  The government and private sector must work hand in hand to improve the health care referral system.  Doctors must also learn the art and science of relating to fellow doctors, government institutions, and political leaders.

6.  INSTITUTIONS offering health care must be provided the attention it deserves through better funding.  The national budget allocates a mere 3% for health care.  It is not enough to keep our government hospitals and health centers clean, safe, and efficient.

7.  OVERCOME OBSTACLES in preventive care.  Immunization is just one aspect of disease prevention.  More important is patient education.  A major obstacle to progress is lack of knowledge.  We must empower communities to be responsible for keeping their constituents in the pink of health.

8.  NATIONALISM must be strengthened.  We must love our country and its people.  In particular, if the government subsidizes a doctor’s education, it is but right for the doctor to give back to the community.  Our patriotic duty to this country must be balanced with our need to progress and prosper.

In the final analysis, to be a champion, we must not just plan.  We must act.  Our plans may not be perfect, but action beats inaction.  After all, champions are crafted once they step into the field of battle to gain experience, not when they are asked to sit back and watch.

WHITNEY HOUSTON

The Greatest Love of All

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If I should stay, 
I would only be in your way. 
So I’ll go, but I know 
I’ll think of you ev’ry step of the way. 
Bittersweet memories 
that is all I’m taking with me. 
So, goodbye. Please, don’t cry. 
I will always love you. 

–  Excerpt from Whitney Houston’s monster hit, “I Will Always Love You”

Another vanishing-point talent has left us.  Just like the late Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston was an extremely gifted singer who transcended racial limitations.  While I was not a big fan of hers, I am still in awe of her musical accomplishments.  It is only rightful that we look back at Whitney and her amazing career.

W – Wide vocal range.  At her best, no one could beat Whitney’s mezzo-soprano.  Her highest note was recorded at C6, B-b5 (In her song ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’), with her lowest note at C3, E3.  Her vocal range spans 5 octaves.

H – Honored and revered.  Her list of awards include two Emmy Awards, six Grammy Awards, 30 Billboard Music Awards, and 22 American Music Awards.  She carries a rich family tradition of excellence, being the daughter of gospel singer Cissy Houston and cousin of one of the biggest hitmakers of the rock and roll era, Dionne Warwick.

I – Inspirational.    Artists who claim to have been influenced and inspired by Whitney’s exploits include Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, Toni Braxton, Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson, Britney Spears, Jennifer Hudson, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Regine Velasquez, and Charice Pempengco.

T – Trailblazer.  Whitney broke down the color barrier for black female artists, just like Michael Jackson did with MTV.  Janet Jackson and Anita Baker then followed her lead.

N – Number one hitmaker.  Whitney’s debut album, “Whitney Houston, is the first album by a female artist and new artist to yield three No. 1 singles―”Saving All My Love For You”, “How Will I Know”, and “Greatest Love of All”.

When the fourth single “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” from her second album “Whitney, reached the top of the charts on April 23, 1988, Houston became the first female artist to achieve four No. 1 singles from one album, and also the first and only artist in pop history to have seven consecutive No. 1 hits.  Her second album’s number ones also include  “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”, “Didn’t We Almost Have It All”,  and “So Emotional”.  To top it all, “I Will Always Love You” topped the Hot 100 for fourteen consecutive weeks from November 28, 1992 to February 27, 1993, making it the longest-running number one single ever by a female solo artist.

E – Ecumenical.  Whitney’s universal appeal transcends races, generations, and musical genres, particularly among females.  At the height of her popularity, no amateur singing contest was complete without a rendition of her songs.

Y – Yodeler.  Whitney can easily transition from a normal voice to a falsetto, and back again.  This ability was clearly exhibited in her rendition of “I Will Always Love You”.  While this does not sit well for some critics, it still distinguishes her voice from other artists, even if the likes of Christina Aguilera later followed suit.

It’s hard to say goodbye to a great artist.  But Whitney’s hits live on and are now part of our history.  While she may not have lived a perfect life, she will serve as an icon for aspiring singers in the years to come.

Thanks for the music, Whitney Houston.

FACEBOOK AND DELAYED GRATIFICATION

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“Done is better than perfect.”

Mark Zuckerberg

As Facebook goes public with its IPO, an unknown graffiti artist stands to earn a huge payout.   He wisely took Facebook stock instead of cash for painting the walls of the social network’s first headquarters. The stock is expected to be worth upward of $200 million when it trades publicly later this year.

Jealous?  Who wouldn’t be?  But then again, we can learn a lot from this story.  It really pays to delay gratification.  Toil hard today, and reap the benefits tomorrow.

I had this Facebook-like idea when I was still a resident in training around 10 years ago.  Back then, I was thinking of a dating website, where individuals could interact with others, share photos and ideas, and keep posted on each other’s activities.  This was at a time when social networking was still relatively unknown.  However, as I was not web-savvy, and because I was deep into my training as a Family Physician, the idea was just that – an idea.  Without the necessary action to bring the idea to fruition, nothing happened.

Do you have an idea today?  Do you think the idea has flaws?  I’d say act on it anyway.  On the walls of Facebook’s office is written the words “Done is better than perfect”.  The idea for Facebook was not without glitches, but Mark Zuckerberg acted on the ideas.  He now stands to earn 28.4 billion dollars from the selling of Facebook shares to the public.  If you’re the type who would only start the engine when all the green lights are on, think again.  Only action can bring realization to your dreams.

Never regret doing the hard, dirty work today to reach your goals.  Persevere and always remain positive.  And learn to postpone comforts today so you can have a better tomorrow.  If you are in training today and thinking of quitting, rethink your strategy.  Talk it out with a mentor.  Chances are, you may be making a drastic decision while in an emotional state.  Never decide on your future when you are angry, disappointed, or disgusted.

The Facebook story is inspiring because it could happen to anyone.  Huge payoffs often start with a simple idea that was acted upon.  The idea need not be completely original – it could be adopted from others with just a little twist.  Improving on the products and services of others may be all it takes.  So just do it, and remain patient.

Facebook was successful, because it Found A Creative, Efficient, Brilliant, Out-of the Box, Opportunity to spread Knowledge.  And I know, my dear reader, that you can do that too!

IMPEACHMENT AND THE NEED FOR STRATEGY

strategy

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All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved.
–  Sun Tzu

The Corona Trial is underway.  The prosecutors and defendants are locked in the heat of battle.  On the prosecutor side, the strategy is to highlight the Chief Justice‘s lack of moral leadership.  For the defense, having in its fold a former supreme court justice gives them the edge in terms of legal intellect.  It seems as if this is a debate between students and professors, of high energy youngsters against grizzled veterans of the courtroom.  Let’s see which side takes advantage of their strengths and pounces on the weakness of the opponent.

So why do both sides need to strategize?  The reason is obvious.  In any battle, a good strategic plan will carry you towards your desired endpoint.  Whether in sports, business, or in this game called life, beginning with the end in mind (as pointed out by Steven Covey) is already half the battle won.

What are the characteristics of a good strategy?  Let’s make its elements easy to remember.

S – A good strategy must be able to STEER us towards the right course of action.

T – A strategic plan must be TIME-BOUND so we can set a deadline for the accomplishment of essential tasks.

R – We must identify the RESOURCES available to us in carrying out the plan.

A – Realize what your ADVANTAGE is.  Focus on your strengths instead of your weaknesses, and use these strengths to offset threats.

T – Pick out the key people on your side and work in synchrony.  TEAMWORK is vital.

E – EXPLOIT opportunities.  This means your strategy could change depending on the situation you face.

G – Have a clear-cut GOAL.  Avoid distractions that can lead you astray.

Y –  Finally, your strategy must be YOURS.  Never let others dictate upon it.

So who emerges on top?  Prosecution or defense?  Let the senators be the judge, while we watch on the sidelines.  But remember to be involved – this trial is crucial for our country’s democracy.

IMPEACHMENT

THE BUSINESS OF SERVICE

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The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.
–  SOCRATES

Kodak is gone.  The once mighty company that produces photographic films has filed for bankruptcy.  Kodak moments will now be a thing of the past as the world embraces the emergence of digital technology to capture cherished memories.

Yes, technology continues to evolve in dramatic ways.  Established companies like Kodak may disappear, new products like digital cameras emerge, and competition in the world of business is more ferocious and ruthless.

However, as technology evolves, so does the service business.  Most new jobs today are generated by services.  And contrary to what is popularly perceived, service positions are well-paid and require highly specialized skills.  The health care industry, for instance, demands significant training, and its employees are well-compensated.

Unfortunately, a number of health care professionals see themselves as overworked and underpaid.  This translates to poor customer service and declining patient satisfaction outcomes.  Even non-health care service professionals need to be reoriented as to the nature of their profession.  This is because, as is frequently mentioned in customer service training, “If you make customers happy, they might each tell a couple of friends.  If you make customers unhappy, they might each tell  20 friends and acquaintances. 

So what does it take to succeed in the service business?  In a nutshell, the essential characteristics of a service professional can be summarized by S.E.R.V.I.C.E.

S – Smart.  A smart person has the academic competency in the chosen service field.  He or she must show an ability to make good decisions.  Education in the classroom is handy, but even more important is real-life experience.  A true service professional learns to utilize both education and experience to provide world-class service.

E – Energetic.  Intrinsic motivation is essential.  It would be difficult to relate to someone who seems lethargic.  How would you feel if someone communicates with you, but is noticeably tired or just desires to see you off?  You might as well talk to a computer terminal if you are served by a stone-faced human.

R – Reliable.  Service professionals must be dependable, and they must deliver more than is expected.  When they promise to finish at a certain time, they must do so.  When a customer has a problem, they must exhibit a sincere interest to find a solution.

V – Values-driven.  God-fearing and ethical employees are a gem.  They will always act in accordance to their religious beliefs, and will consider their God as their Boss.  This would translate to a service experience that is respectful and caring.

I – Innovative.  Effective frontline service providers can adapt to difficult situations even under pressure.  For employers, this means that employees must be given free reign to decide how to resolve conflicts.  Creativity in customer service is severely limited by company policies that are too restrictive.  Don’t be too quick in punishing an employee who means well.

C – Courteous.  A pleasant demeanor is always welcoming.  Calls are answered politely, and there is an air of friendliness in every engagement.

E – Empathic.  A real professional empathizes with the customer’s needs and sees himself or herself in the position of the customer to meet the customer’s needs.  Personalized attention is provided, and the firm ensures that operating hours and service areas are convenient for every customer and employee.

So don’t be a grouch.  Master the art of interpersonal relations.  It can be the key to success in your chosen career – no matter what industry you’re in.  After all, you wouldn’t want to end up unemployed or bankrupt because you didn’t evolve.  Just ask Eastman Kodak.

STO. NINO AND THE MIND OF A CHILD

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“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 18:3-4

While listening to today’s homily on the Feast of the Sto. Nino, I was reminded by the Parish Priest of a very important principle: be childlike, but not childish.  One is positive and one is negative.  A childlike demeanor is manifested as innocence, while a childish attitude shows immaturity.  And the truth is age is not a good predictor for having a childish attitude.

As a tribute to children, here is a mnemonic of their characteristics that we adults must have:

C – Courageousness.  Notice how a child not not seem to fear getting hurt while at play.  A child throws caution to the wind and exhibits a gung-ho attitude towards tasks.  And once a child falls, he or she cries momentarily, but soon forgets about the pain and tries again.  That’s childlike courage.

H – Happiness.  Be content with small things.  In today’s mass, the priest gave away lollipops to children.  How happy they were!  They were so grateful, and you could see wide  smiles on their faces.  Can we still find happiness in the little blessings we receive everyday?

I – Inquisitiveness.  A child is naturally curious about the world.  They are so eager to learn, in ways that are unique.  It may not always be classroom learning that they enjoy, but they love to pursue knowledge through trial and error.  They ask questions, which lead to even more questions needing simple answers.  Perhaps this is the reason why Albert Einstein, the most prolific intellectual in modern history, loves children.  So remain inquisitive.  Keep learning.  And share knowledge with others.

L – Liveliness.  They just seem to move on and on, never stopping.  Their energy seems limitless.  Just give them time to rest, and when they recharge, watch out!  It’s a joy to be with children because of their infectious liveliness.  If only adults can sustain this kind of energy to fuel their work, relationships, and pursuits.  The human race would accomplish more if only they do not lose the desire to live life to the fullest.

D – Devotedness.  They love their parents and guardians – those who provide them with their everyday needs.  Children are extremely loyal to those who love them unconditionally.  And this unconditional love is the reason why Jesus Christ loves children.  Their uncorrupted minds do not harbor any hidden agendas.  So devote yourself to your faith, and blessings will come.

May we adults learn from children.  And may we remain childlike in the eyes of our Creator.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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It’s the start of the year.  Here are my wishes for you and your loved ones:

H – Health.  May you have it in you so that you can fulfill your mission and vision for the year.

A – Ability.  May you develop the skill to reach your dreams.

P – Prosperity.  May the Good Lord bless you and shower you financially.

P – Peace. May you nurture your relationship with others and bridge communication gaps with friends and family.

Y – Yearning.  May you never run out of reasons to do what is right and just.

N – Nobility.  May you protect your good name and leave a good legacy.

E – Endurance.  May you have the staying power to endure all the hardships and challenges that come your way.

W – Willingness.  May you have pleasure in following the authority figures in your life who lead you and your organization.

Y – Yes.  May you limit the times when you reject others who want to extend help, and to give help in return.

E – Enthusiasm.  May you always be inspired with divine wisdom and positive thoughts.

A – Altruism.  May you have unselfish concern and compassion for the people you deal with everyday.

R – Reward.  Hope for the best.  Ask and you shall receive.  Seek and you shall find.  Knock and the doors of heaven will be opened up to you.

Happy New Year everyone!

TWENTY ELEVEN

T – Tsunami.  A powerful earthquake hit the Northern Coast of Japan on March 11, causing a huge tsunami.  The massive 8.9 earthquake happened at rush hour, and was seen live by millions around the world as it happened.  The tsunami also caused a meltdown of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, the largest nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl disaster of 1986.

W – William.  The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, married longtime girlfriend Catherine Middeleton.  The wedding took place on April 29 in Westminster Abbey, London.    Around two billion people worldwide watched the ceremony.

E – Egypt.  The country underwent a revolution in 2011, where President Hosni Mubarak stepped down after nearly 30 years in power.  Last February 11, Vice President Omar Suleiman announced that Mubarak had resigned as president and transferred authority to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.

N – Novak Djokovic.  The Serbian professional tennis player finally wrested the world number one ranking last July 4.  He also won the Australian Open, Wimbledon, and US Open Championships,  becoming the sixth male player in the open era to win three Majors in a calendar year.

T – Tagle.  Imus Bishop Luis Antonio Tagle, a former member of a theological body once headed by Pope Benedict XVI before he became Pontiff, was installed as the 32nd archbishop of Manila on December 12.  He is also the youngest Manila archbishop after the Irish-born James Michael O’Doherty, who was appointed in 1916.

Y – Yao Ming.  The NBA superstar announced  his retirement from professional basketball last July 20.  He is one of China’s best-known athletes, and is responsible for basketball’s growing popularity in Asia.

E – Electronics.  The electronics industry suffered a big blow when Steve Jobs passed away on October 5.  Still, consumer electronic sales continue to rise, and could reach as much as 1 trillion dollars for this year.

L – Libya.  Longtime Egyptian leader Muammar Gaddafi was beaten and killed by the Libyan National Liberation Army on October 20, 2011.  This ended his 34-year-reign as Libya’s head of state.

E – Edward Cullen.  The telepathic vampire of the Twilight series played by Robert Pattinson falls in love with, marries, and has a child with Bella Swan.  Twilight: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 premiered last November 18, and had one of the best openings in box-office history by debuting to $139.5 million.  It was the fifth-best opening weekend ever, behind “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2,” “The Dark Knight,” “Spider-Man 3,” and “The Twilight Saga: New Moon“.

V – Voldemort.  The main antagonist of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series was finally defeated at the conclusion of the saga last July.  In 2011 Lord Voldemort was voted one of the best screen villains on earth, behind The Joker and Darth Vader.  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 is the highest grossing film of 2011, the third highest grossing film of all time,  the highest grossing film in the Harry Potter series, and the ninth film ever to gross over $1 billion.

E – Environment issues.  Flooding, the energy crisis, and climate change have surfaced in today’s times as a result of years of massive destruction and abuse of our fragile eco-system.  Some of the disasters that were thought to be due to environmental abuse include the flooding of Cagayan de Oro, Iligan City, Bulacan, and parts of Bangkok, Thailand.  Oil prices continue to rise, together with global temperatures.

N – NBA lockout.  The 2011 NBA lockout was the fourth lockout, and the second longest, in the history of the National Basketball Association. The main issues dividing the owners and the players were the division of revenue and the structure of the salary cap and luxury tax.  On November 26, the players and owners reached a tentative deal, including a 66-game regular season, with games commencing on December 25.