Gloria Arroyo and Renato Corona

Gloria Arroyo and Renato Corona (Photo credit: Piercing Pens)

Sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can change your life forever.

– Keri Russell

Tomorrow, May 29, 2012, will be a big day in Philippine history.  Chief Justice Renato Corona will be handed a verdict by the Senate that can result in his ouster.  Five months of dramatic debates has come to this moment.  The decision will have a lasting effect on President Benigno Aquino’s goal of altering the image of the Judiciary in particular, and Philippine politicians in general.

But the question remains: will removing the Chief Justice from power result in sustainable changes that will lead to economic development?

Let’s see by looking at the important elements of lasting C.H.A.N.G.E.

C – Commitment.  People have a strong desire to do what is right.  But they must focus on the ultimate goal.  While the removal of the Chief Justice from office may be a start, it does not end there.  There is no magic pill that acts instantly – change, like any other medical treatment, takes time.

H –  Hurdle.  It is painstaking to make changes.  Obstacles must be hurdled.  Undesirable effects will arise, but everyone needs to believe in the system.  A country must surpass the limits of its patience.  If the change would result in a stronger democracy, let us accept the minor setbacks along the way.

A – Associate.  One man is not enough to make changes.  While one can exert influence and trigger change, social support is necessary.  A divided nation with people acting on their own interests will not get the job done.  We started the concept of People Power – let us, as Filipinos, keep its spirit alive.

N – Numbers.  Democracy, like it or not, is ruled by the majority.  Its premise is that the voice of the people is the voice of God.  A limited few cannot constitute the majority that builds a snowball effect.  When people flooded the streets in great numbers in EDSA 26 years ago, the seemingly impossible change became possible.  Now, more than ever, we need to demand our leaders to be accountable for their actions.  And with great numbers, no leader worth his salt can afford to ignore the mob.

G – Genuine goodness.  Be an honest citizen.  Abide by the laws.  Never circumvent the process and hide through technicalities.  Not a single drop of dishonesty must pass through your veins.  It’s high time to get out of ourselves, and think of the welfare of all.

E – Environment.  Take care of mother nature.  Be wary of short-term gains at the expense of the long-term effect on the environment.  The world we live in is crucial, because if it is altered beyond repair, we will no longer have the resources to sustain us.

Will the Corona impeachment create sustainable change?  It’s not up to the senators.  Ultimately, it’s all up to us.



A map of Mindanao color-coded by regions. ARMM...

Image via Wikipedia

God does not force us to believe in him, though he could. Instead, he has provided sufficient proof of his existence for us to willingly respond to him. 

– Marilyn Adamson

Another disaster has struck our country.   As of last count, a total of 976 people have been confirmed killed and 46 remained missing from the onslaught of tropical storm Sendong in seven regions in Mindanao and Visayas.  A national calamity has been declared, and various groups have started organized efforts for relief and rehabilitation.

It is easy to blame other people when we experience difficulties.  Our government officials are now doing this.  Every time something like this happens, it’s sad that no one likes to assume responsibility.  I have yet to see a leader in this country who assumes the burden of accepting blame, even if he or she is not directly responsible for the events leading to a crisis.  Hopefully, the leader who knows what true leadership is about is within our midst, waiting for a chance to be identified and elected.

Victims also tend to question the existence of God when disaster strikes.  I hope this does not happen.  For those in doubt, I have read a very good article to prove the existence of a supreme being.  Never lose hope in the face of adversity – I know that there is a God who will carry us through no matter who we are and no matter what situation we are in.  And while God cannot be with us physically, let us remember that He can use each one of us as an instrument of His unlimited kindness and generosity.

National leaders, religious leaders, and psychiatrists hog the limelight during media interviews, offering help, suggestions, and future plans for prevention.  The bottom line in all this lies in finding ways to truly be of service to those in need of assistance.

So what can we do now?  The least we can do is to help.  Donate to charities, or simply provide manpower and assistance to your community’s efforts to extend a helping hand.  Let us all make the world know again how much the Filipino people‘s spirit of BAYANIHAN can overcome any obstacles.  We owe it to our God, to our country, and to our fellowmen.

Does God Exist? –

Sendong aftermath photos:


Former basketball player Michael Jordan

Image via Wikipedia

They say that “Winning isn’t everything – it’s the only thing.”  In sports, that was the battle cry of Vince Lombardi‘s Green Bay Packers football team in the 60’s.  As a sports fan, I can relate to this motivational quote to push athletes to win at all costs.  Just yesterday, in the Miss Universe beauty pageant, this “win at all cost” mindset was again highlighted by the dissenting opinion of some Filipinos regarding Shamcey Supsup’s 4th place finish.  We are naturally inclined to to compete, and when we end up on the short end of the stick, there is a certain tendency to justify the underachievement.  Hurt and frustration follow a loss, particularly when success seems to be within reach.  When it comes to medical management, is this is also the case for physicians?  Am I considered a failure if a patient dies under my watch?

When I was a young physician in training, I had this notion that I must keep all my patients alive at all costs.  I could not let my patients die – it simply was not acceptable.  If my patient dies, I would be subjected to a top-to-bottom scrutiny by my superiors.  This created in me a feeling that the good doctors before me had superhuman abilities, for whatever I did, some patients still passed when I was on duty.  Dealing with heart attacks, bleeding disorders, cancers, traumatic injuries – I had to rack my brains to find ways to prolong life.  And so what I thought  about all the time was to cover my tracks.  I needed to make sure that I never committed any glaring mistakes in managing my patients.  My perception back then was, in the medical profession, there was no room for error.

One book, however, helped me to  accept failure as part of life.  In Failing Forward by leadership expert John C. Maxwell, he mentioned a very important quote that had a significant impact on my future as a physician.  According to Dr. Maxwell, “The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of and response to failure.”  This meant that having patients die was inevitable, but what matters are the lessons that one takes away from the experience of managing a dying patient.  From that point on, I learned to see tenets of wisdom in my errors.   While I still exert maximum effort in ensuring the best care for my patients, I no longer kick myself for not saving a patient’s life.

It must be emphasized that in sports, losing pushes athletes to strive even harder.  A Michael Jordan commercial on failure says that he missed so many shots in his career, but those misses pushed him to perfect his game.  One thing that is noteworthy about Michael Jordan’s basketball career is that he was never considered a winner when he started.  In fact, he was ridiculed by some basketball analysts for having a messianic complex.  But he learned the concept of team effort, and eventually, at the end of his career, he learned to accept losing even though he hated it.  People asked him why he came back as an aging playing after having initially retired – after all he retired as a champion.  But he was just willing to go through the process again, win or lose, because he simply loved the game and its challenges.

In medicine, this is also the case.  Patients die, no matter how much effort is exerted to prolong life.  But it must not discourage physicians to continue to care, even when cure is no longer possible.  Shamcey may have lost the Miss Universe title, but she earned so much respect for her reply during the crucial Q and A stage of the pageant.  Even the year before, Venus Raj was considered a “failure” for her “Major, major” answer.  Who would have thought that she would now have a regular newspaper column entitled “Major, major”.  There is a point of wisdom here – as emphasized by Dr. Maxwell – that in the midst of mistakes and supposed errors in life, we can always rise up and shine even brighter through a positive mental attitude.

There are things that are out of our control.  No matter how skilled and talented we are, adverse events happen.  Perhaps what is important is our desire to keep doing the right thing – to keep doing what is best – and to let our Creator take care of the rest.  After all, in the art of healing, winning the heart of a patient simply entails an unwavering effort to be the best physician you can be.


Life Is...

Image by sirwiseowl via Flickr

What if you were told by your doctor today that you will be experiencing pain and severe disability for the rest of your life?

One of the most difficult things to accept is being told that there is nothing more that the medicine can do to cure one’s illness. A normal reaction would be to deny the fact and produce an emotional release that may precipitate to violence and harsh words towards others. This could be followed by “Leave me alone” requests, until the sick person panics when physical symptoms of distress arise. Only after some time will one be able to accept the situation and adjust to reality.

During these moments, the presence of family and friends will be most valued. Studies show that a sick person’s quality of life is higher with better social support. There is a tendency for loved ones to leave sick relatives alone for prolonged periods of time because they also feel pain and anguish. However, as caring individuals, we must remain strong and show our love, support, and understanding during these trying times.

One of the most tragic situations I see in my practice as a family physician is visiting a sick parent at home whose children are away because they are too busy with other matters. Left with caregivers whom they hardly know, these parents experience more emotional pain rather than physical symptoms. I feel sad when I get to know how they feel before they can relay it to their children. Perhaps we really are starting to acquire attitudes that used to be unheard of among Filipinos – shunning away from taking care of sick parents and preferring that they be institutionalized or left to be cared for by professional caregivers.

While I understand the need to earn a living, there is no reason to avoid interacting with our parents when they reach the end of their lives. Let me tell you that I have personally learned so much about love and life listening to a dying person. I don’t remember morbid memories – I remember invaluable life lessons from their experiences that I can pass on to others.

Do you have a loved one with terminal illness today? Hug him or her today, hold hands, and say the words I love you, I am sorry, and I forgive you. Doing this today could change your perspective about life and make you learn more things about your existence. After all, wouldn’t we want to avoid having regrets in the end when things are already too late? Never avoid your sick relatives and make them feel alone. As far as I know, those who take care of their loved ones receive so many blessings in the end.