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Before yesterdayAggie's Amygdala

The 2021 Year-End Survey

6 February 2022 at 09:19
By: Aggie

It’s time for the customary year-end survey. In the pretext of regular blog postings. Haha. And also for posterity, past ponderings, and proof of life..

What did you do in 2021 that you’d never done before? Contract Covid. It finally caught up with us. So got swabbed, quarantined, and all that jazz that comes with having Corona. Otherwise, 2021 was just a protracted 2020. Although I re-discovered playing the piano and learning the Korean language, but they do not really qualify as something “new” since I have been at them for years.

Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Last year, I asked for “Strength”–strength of body, mind, spirit to just go through life and get out of this pandemic unscathed. But apparently, RESILIENCY IS A FARCE! I needed grit. Yeah, that will probably be my word for 2022.

Did anyone close to you…
Get married? Annalyn and Wyndell
Give birth? Anna to baby boy Andreu
Passed away? Rodel. 😦 Also, a colleague’s husband, and a chef acquaintance.

What would you like to have in 2022 that you lacked in 2021? Grit. Defined as passion and perseverance toward a goal despite being confronted by significant obstacles and distractions.

What date(s) from 2021 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? No noteworthy dates. 2021 just passed me by, the days melding into each other.

What was your biggest achievement of the year? Living through 2021. -_-

What was your biggest failure? Barely living through it. 😦

Did you suffer illness or injury? Covid.

What was the best thing you bought? Emma sleep mattress. I first learned about this product on a friend‘s blog. I’ve been looking for a good mattress to support my bad back, but shipping is always pricey. 😮 Availed of the Father’s Day promo plus influencer add-on, to warrant a very reasonable discount–essentially offsetting my shipping expenses 😉 It arrived on our birth month, but didn’t get to unbox it until after our Covid ordeal. My radiculopathy hasn’t acted up ever since. Thought I wish it would also help my sleep. I have very bad sleeping habits!!!!

Whose behavior merited celebration? My husband.

Where did most of your money go? Healthcare. 😦 And online shopping! 😛

What did you get really, really, really excited about? Was actually looking forward to Hospital Playlist Season 2. And while it’s still good, I preferred Season 1. With no third season in the foreseeable future, they had to tie up all the loose ends, esp the couples’ arcs, so it felt rushed. 😮 Ah, but Hometown Cha Cha Cha was such a delight! And gave me something to look forward to during weekend nights. ♥♥♥♥

What song(s) will always remind you of 2021? Shalalalalalalalala Romantic Sunday…. Hometown Cha Cha Cha’s OST. ♥♥

Compared to this time last year, are you…
Happier or sadder? Sadder. 😦
Thinner or fatter? Thinner. I lost 3 kg during our Covid illness, though gained the 2 kg back. Still, that’s a net loss of 1 kg. What I wasn’t able to achieve through proper diet and exercise 😛 , took FORCE MAJEUR to achieve!
Richer or poorer? Poorer, in wealth and spirit. 😦

What do you wish you’d done more of? Hope. Pray. Love.

What do you wish you’d done less of? Mindless Internet scrolling.

How did you spend Christmas? Early noche buena at home, with family.

What was your favorite TV program? Hometown Cha Cha Cha!!!! ♥ Hospital Playlist Season 2, Vincenzo. And Move to Heaven! ♥

What was the best book you read? Talk to Me in Korean 🙂

What were your greatest musical discoveries? Hometown Cha Cha Cha OST 🙂

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2021? White Coat Manila scrubs and pink Native shoes were my uniforms. Saved a lot of time and energy on deciding what to wear. Hindi naman pwedeng mag-dress/skirt when you have to don a PPE. 😮

What did you want and get? Emma sleep mattress, Coza Home bed sheets, Backjoy, and weight loss. 😛

What did you want and not get? Good health. Hope. Joy.

What was your favorite film of this year? None.

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? Got swabbed. 😛

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Passion? Hope? Joy? I was just plodding through 2021, getting through each day, doing perfunctory tasks.

What kept you sane? K-dramas!!!! And God’s daily mercies.

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Kim Seon Ho ♥

What political issue stirred you the most? Kim Seon Ho’s scandal 😦

Who was the best new person you met? Lee Je Hoon of Move to Heaven fame. 😛 Didn’t get to meet a lot of actual people.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2021. God alone is our safe place.


Staycation @ Sitio Remedios

17 November 2021 at 03:03
By: Aggie

We spent the weekend at Sitio Remedios. It was a long-overdue staycation, initially plannned for our birthday. But local Covid cases were on the rise (we even got Covid ourselves😦 ), and then came the typhoons and Elmo’s exams. Thankfully, local Covid numbers started going down and so we were finally able to get away for the weekend.

Sitio Remedios is a quaint heritage seashore village (갯마을!) in Currimao. 🙂 It’s not our first time to visit the place, having previously attended weddings and work-related events there. But it was our first time to stay there as a family. We didn’t bring the toddler Elmo then lest he crash into the decades-old relics; we doubted he’d also appreciate the old world charm. But now that he’s older, he’d know better to steer clear of the antiques.

We arrived in the afternoon of Saturday, and were greeted by their signature “Welcome” message made up of flower petals.

We initially booked the smaller Balai Pasuquin as it was the cheapest; it also has an outdoor—but private—bath and I was curious about doing my uhm shower meditation under the stars. 😛 But there were ongoing paint works to the place so we got upgraded to the Balai Bacarra, also a one-bedroom bungalow but with a wide receiving area, a small nook and a banggerahan. It was also nearer the plaza/resto/pool/beach.

We had freshly squized dalandan juice for welcome drinks. After which, we wasted no time in exploring the beach. Elmo had so much fun in the water! He also tried to bury himself in the sand. Couldn’t swim though coz the waves were high, as NDRRMC very conveniently reminded us every so often! @_@

We had early dinner at the Abrao, with a majestic view of the setting sun. 🙂

We practically had the whole place to our selves! There was steamed talakitok (fresh catch of the day), rabong, KBL to go with the bagnet, pinakbet and sotanghon chicken. At first I thought it was too much for our little party of 3, but I ended up going for seconds, thirds and even fourths. Wasak ang diet! 😛 I especially liked the pinakbet. It had lots of real tomatoes instead of commercial tomato sauce, so one can appreciate the different vegetables’ flavors. The rabong (bamboo shoots) was also sweet and tangy. Elmo ate the sotanghon chicken with much gusto!

We woke up early the next day for a morning stroll by the beach, and to catch the sunrise.

I was still recovering from last night’s dinner, so I didn’t have a lot for breakfast. There was Ilocano longganisa, danggit (a local produce) , sunny side up, pan de sal, coffee of course and dragon fruit for dessert.

More swimming in the pool for the little one.

Moonset 🙂

Morning coffee under the trees. 🙂

Spotted: Oscar the Grouch

Strolled around to free up some gastric space in time for lunch. We had freshly caught salmon tinuno, kalabasa and patola sa gata, kangkong, pork adobo and suam (pinapaitan na kambing).

We were allowed late checkout, and left the place shortly before 3. We still had time for an afternoon siesta when we got home. 🙂

Sitio Remedios is actually just a 30-minute leisure drive from our house. 😛 But the break in routine and change in surroundings was a much much needed respite. 🙂


Shalalalalalalalala Beautiful Sunday….

3 October 2021 at 02:05
By: Aggie

Local cases going down. Now that border restrictions have lifted, the first order of the day is to bring Elmo out. Discounting those drive thru swab tests, it’ll be his first time to be out in 3 months!!!! He’s still holding up pretty well though, with school and books and youtube! 😛 But sometimes he gets restless and bored, and he definitely misses his friends.

We had lunch at Kamarinn Cafe in Paoay. They recently reopened, closing in solidarity with the healthcare workers who called for #timeoutilocosnorte. We tried their latest offering–balballusa, a native mini eggplant dish in garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and bagoong. We also had our usual favorites: ukoy, okra friend rice, nalengta nga ikan (fresh catch of the day 😉 ), and of course, crepes and coffee! No food pictures, sorry. 😛 Still not automatic for me to take pictures.

With a refreshing view of Paoay Lake 🙂

We then drove to the Pangil rock formations in Currimao. The sea just screams Gongjin! Ahaha. If you’re watching Hometown Chachacha, you know what I mean. 😉 (I’m so in love with this drama. Still reeling from last night’s confession and lovey-dovey scenes and the villagers’ trolling! 😛 Will definitely write more lengthily about it in a separate post once the drama concludes.)

Would have stayed longer to watch the sunset, but then it started to drizzle. We’ll definitely be back; prob book an overnight stay in one of the nearby resorts.

Ah, but it was just refreshing to be out in the open again. 🙂


Because Christ Over Viruses, Illnesses and Death

1 September 2021 at 00:50
By: Aggie

And just like that, it’s September already!

If it weren’t for those Jose Mari Chan memes populating my newsfeeds, I wouldn’t have any bit of thought or feel that it is the start of one of the longest Christmas celebrations in the world. 😮

“The year went by so fast!” My son remarked over breakfast this morning. “The days are shorter.” 🙂

You know what they say that time flies when you’re having fun. Seems like this pandemic still hasn’t gotten to him, though he sure does miss his friends, and is already making travel plans for “someday when we are allowed to go out again.”

Good for him. 👍

“Yeah, the days just blend into each other.” That’s me on the opposite end of both the table and the optimism spectrum.

Admittedly, I was happy at the start of the lockdown. But the duration of it has tested the limits of my introversion.

The past several months have been a never ending cycle of Work, Home, Work from Home, webinars, household chores, ADLs, etc., with the occasional errand or grocery run once a month.

No travels to break the monotony of everyday.
Not even a weekend getaway.
No school and summer breaks.
No holidays and celebrations.
Nor coffee catchups just for a quick respite.

2020 had been tough: losing Mom, parents of friends, colleagues; Taal’s heightened activity, the perennial typhoons and flooding, climate change, political and civil unrest, and then Corona! Our lives have been upended, and things were never the same again. Living with the virus was called the “New Normal.” But nothing feels normal anymore. 😦

Couldn’t wait for 2020 to end, as if the tick of a clock at midnight would magically reset things. But how certain were we that 2021 would a better year than 2020?

We weren’t.

And 2021 certainly ain’t looking any better than the previous.

Sure, we now have a better understanding of what once was mysterious disease.
We have more drugs and treatment options.

And yet despite all the advancements, we are registering worse stats than last year. The virus is mutating and affecting even younger people with stronger immune systems. Kids who used to be just unwitting carriers are now manifesting with more severe symptoms and complications.

Covid has claimed the lives of more people, many close to home.

It has even hit home. 😦 Yeah we got Covid… on our birthday month of all times! Elmo first, then me, then the hubby.

But even in our period of isolation, there were little graces. Because facilities were full, we got to be quarantined together at home–with all its creature comforts. Friends brought so much food that we had to decline a few who asked beforehand what they could send over. At one point, we had 84 eggs (I counted!) and countless fruits from different people.

Our symptoms remained mild. Though they didn’t feel mild. 😮 There was cough, fever, easy fatigability, malaise, myalgia, anosmia and dysgeusia. But at least they didn’t progress to severe disease warranting hospitalization. Thanks to “the best vaccine is the one that is available”! 🙂

On our first day of freedom from quarantine, there was a slight drizzle, and we were greeted by this sight.

“I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.Genesis 9:13 NIV

I know this post might come off as proselytizing. But I am writing this, if only to assure myself.

That in the midst of the rains and the flood, earthquakes, volcanoes, famine, war, anger, strife, worry, fear, suffering, illnesses, Covid and even Death… God alone is our safe place.

So as this day heralds the start of the holiday season, “Let’s sing Merry Christmas….”


Hospital Playlist {h}Waiting!

11 June 2021 at 10:44
By: Aggie

These slumbook type of questions have been making the {rounds} of Hospital Playlist forums. So in anticipation of the drama’s premiere on June 17–and for lack of blog fodder–let me just answer them too. 🙂

  1. What made you decide to see Hospital Playlist? Netflix recommendations. 😉
  2. Who is your favorite character? Song Hwa. She’s perfect! 🙂
  3. Who is the character you identify with? Joon Wan. He is easily the most relatable of the 5.
  4. What is your favorite song? Can’t decide. I luv their OST!!!! From Jo Jung Seok’s “Aloha” to Jeon Mi Do’s “I Knew I Love”. And their rock version “Canon” of course! But if I were to pick one, it would be “Noe E Ge Nan, Na E Ge Non.” (Me To You, You To Me). Because it’s a CLASSIC. 😉

  5. Who is your favorite couple of the main cast? Song Hwa… and Ahn Jeong Won (Flower Garden).
  6. Who is your favorite couple of the secondary cast? Rosa and Jong Soo
  7. Which character would you like to play? I really wish I can be Song Hwa IRL.
  8. What is your preferred scene or gesture? When the boys started checking up on Song Hwa after her biopsy results came out. ^_^
  9. What is your favorite comic scene? Carpool interrogation of Joon Wan about his mystery girlfriend.

  10. Who is your favorite non-romantic duo? Joon Wan and Jeong Won’s bromance. 😛
  11. What is your favorite phrase/dialogue?
    “My time is too precious for that. I want to live doing the things I like, and the things I want to do now.” – Yang Seok Hyung
    “Doctors must take responsibility for their words, so we must be careful. There’s only one thing we, as doctors, can tell our patients with certainty, ‘We will our best’.” – Ahn Jeong Won
  12. What scene made you cry the most? Yoon Bok missing her Mom so much. Had a sense of foreboding for this. 😦
  13. Who would you like to see in cameos?
    Sun Woo and Bora. 🙂 Or Sun Woo and Trash as visiting consultants, or colleagues which they’ll interact with in a doctors’ convention. Also Han Ji Pyeong in a poignant moment with Grandma Rosa.
  14. What unpopular opinion do you have about the show? Does shipping for Song Hwa and Jeong Won count as an unpopular opinion? 😛
  15. What scene didn’t you like? Elevator scene of Song Hwa, Ik Joon and Chi Hong. -_-
  16. What song would you like to hear in Season 2?
    I don’t know too many Korean songs, but it would be nice to hear the band’s own versions of the few that I loved and enjoyed.
    “Perhaps Love” from “Goong” OST.
    And “Please Forget Me”, “Fairy Tale” both from “A Moment to Remember” OST, sung by Gummy, Jo Jung Seok’s wife IRL.
  17. What you don’t see in the same way after HP? Flower Garden. Ahaha!
  18. What new character would you like to see in the next season? Seok Hyung’s ex wife. Song Hwa’s 3 brothers. And cameos by Sun Woo and Bora/Kang Sol. 😀
  19. What are your theories for next season? Flower Garden endgame! 😛
  20. What do you want or expect more from Season 2? Flashback to the evolution of their friendship, i.e. how Joon Wan who was childhood friends with Ik Joon became closer to Jeong Won. What happened in Hawaii? And a surprise musical number from Rosa & Jong Soo. Saw them in a BTS where she played a classical tune on the keyboards and he rocked the guitar.


The 2020 Year-End Survey

5 June 2021 at 05:33
By: Aggie

Was doing some digital decluttering, when I came across this unfinished post in my “Drafts” folder.

We’re already midway into the year.

Obviously, this post is most delayed.

It has been the most difficult to write. 😦

Kung pwede lang sana ibaon sa limot ang nakaraang taon.

But let me just write about it. As I’ve said, I do not fancy myself to be a writer. But I write to sort through the nebulous haze in my mind. In doing so, perhaps I can find some clarity… and enlightenment.

What did you do in 2020 that you’d never done before? Lose a parent. Live through a pandemic. Homeschool.

Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I’ve been doing the One Word drill for the past few years now, and I started 2020 claiming “Joy.” Well, you know what became of that. 😦
I don’t know what to ask for in 2021. Strength, perhaps? Strength of body, strength of mind, strength of spirit to go through life.

Did anyone close to you…
Get married? Trina & Lyndon, in July.
Give birth? Dej to twins Enrico & Felicia. Monica to baby boy Simon. Anne to baby boy River. Jill to baby girl Justine. Maan to baby girl Elle. Marvie to baby boy Alab.
Passed away? Mom. 😦 Karen. And several mentors, colleagues, friends of friends, parents of friends…. Just too many to mention.

What would you like to have in 2021 that you lacked in 2020? Hope.

What date(s) from 2020 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? August 11, 2020

What was your biggest achievement of the year? Living through it. -_-

What was your biggest failure? Barely living through it.

Did you suffer illness or injury? The perennial atopy. Low back pain. Anxiety and depression.

What was the best thing you bought?
My iPhone 11, in red! Coz Elmo hijacked my old iPhone–it was 5 years old and beginning to break down anyway. (As of this update, it has finally succumbed.) WiFi fiber upgrade–something we’ve been putting off for the longest time.
A 59s UV sterilizer box. It was quite the splurge, but we’ve been using it for over a year now so sulit naman.

Whose behavior merited celebration? My husband.

Where did most of your money go? Hospital bills, medicines, and PPEs.

What did you get really, really, really excited about? Was actually excited during the start of the lockdown coz I finally found time to putter around the house and catch up on Korean dramas on Netflix.

What song(s) will always remind you of 2020? Hospital Playlist OST. 🙂

Compared to this time last year, are you…
Happier or sadder? Sadder 😦
Thinner or fatter? Fatter
Richer or poorer? Poorer, in wealth and spirit.

What do you wish you’d done more of? Hope. Pray.

What do you wish you’d done less of? Mindless Internet surfing. Overthink existentialist questions.

How did you spend Christmas? Early noche buena at home, with family.

What was your favorite TV program? K-dramas on Netflix: “Crash Landing On You” (of course!) Hospital Playlist, Reply 1988 (I know this is an old one, but I just discovered it during the lockdown)

What was the best book you read? The Bible Story, by Arthur Maxwell. It became a nightly ritual, and tided our family throughout these challenging times.

What were your greatest musical discoveries? Mido & Falasol 🙂 Watched BTS videos of their practices, and apparently, only Jo Jung Seok was skilled with this instrument. Yoo Yeon Seok was a bit acquainted with the drums. But the other 3 had to start from scratch. It’s just commendable how much work they put into their craft. 🙂 Props esp to Jeon Mido for learning the bass guitar quickly including the slapping technique, and for having a very beautiful voice IRL.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2020? Utilitarian clothes, face masks, face shields, PPEs!

What did you want and get? Closure with Mom. ♥

What did you want and not get? CA remission and longer life for Mom. 😦

What was your favorite film of this year? Was looking forward to Mulan, the live action remake, but cinemas were obviously closed during this pandemic year.

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? Die. Contrary to the saying that life begins at 40, a part of me died during this milestone year. 😦

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? CA remission for Mom.

What kept you sane? Hope. Daily mercies. My family.

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Hyun Bin & Son Ye Jin ♥

What political issue stirred you the most? Public health. Because health is political.

Who was the best new person you met? My parents’ attending physicians and medical team. Friends. And strangers.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2020.


On This Day, October 19

19 October 2020 at 03:16
By: Aggie

October 19 is supposed to be a happy day. It is after all the day when my then-crush-now-husband first asked me out. Even after weathering Typhoon Lawin, it was still a date I look back to with fondness.

But October 19, 2019 changed all that. We arrived in Baguio the night before for a regional meeting. Terci left early that morning for La Union; so it was just Elmo and me in the hotel room. We had plans of exploring the city later in the day, and then perhaps celebrating later that night when Terci comes back. Was lounging in bed when I received an email from my brother. It was Mom’s abdominal ultrasound results revealing a liver mass, prob inflammatory vs neoplastic.

Being a pessimistic person, I instantly jumped to the conclusion that it was the latter. Of course, it required further workups. Ultrasound is not very conclusive and tissue diagnosis is still the gold standard. I tried to hold on to whatever hope there was. And even if it turned out to be The Big C, there are now more treatment options these days. Prayed for more years: 5, 3, kahit 2 years man lang, as is the average overall survival for patients with intermediate stage liver cancer.

But in less than a year, she’s dead. ☹

I really thought we had more time.

I miss her so much.


Hello from Heaven

15 August 2020 at 10:36
By: Aggie

Mom’s passing leaves a bittersweet feeling in her wake (put not intentional 😮 ).

On one hand, I will definitely miss her–she who understood me the most, who knew me the most. Perhaps because we’re alike in many ways. 🙂

But on the other hand, I’m glad that she is not in pain anymore. The past few months have seen her reduced to a dependent and bedridden state, far from the strong, independent and feisty woman that she is.

Above all, she is now in Heaven. Of this I am assured. 🙂

We buried her today, at 8 AM; we already had the mass last night. There was a small brunch after, but we didn’t join anymore so as to not add to the headcount in compliance with MGCQ standards. We also have a PTA meeting at 9 AM in preparation for the upcoming school year. (Because yeah, life goes on….)

We have just barely settled at home when Terci saw a butterfly hovering over our vertical garden. It got him all excited because our tomato plants are in dire need(!!!!) of pollinators. It was not the usual small yellow and white garden variety that we see. This one was huge, and red and black! I looked it up online and this is what I found.

This is a scarlet mormon swallowtail butterfly (Scientific name: Papilio rumanzovia). According to Google, it is endemic in the Philippines, though it’s my first time to see one today. 🙂

This video was taken from behind a screen door, hence the grainy quality. But on the left, you can see just how big the butterfly is.

I am not superstitious, but local pamahiin say that butterflies are a form of After-Death Communication (ADC). And Mom believed that stuff. No harm in believing in the symbolism, anyway. The Greek the word for butterfly is “psyche” which means “soul.” Its life cycle–from a caterpillar to chrysalis to a full-winged butterly–is metaphorical for life, death and resurrection. 🙂



11 August 2020 at 23:19
By: Aggie

My mother passed on last night after months of battling liver cancer. The pandemic may have complicated matters by discouraging travel, but God’s Grace has allowed us to be together in her final moments. She died at home, surrounded by her husband, daughter, son, grandson and son-in-law. ❤

Her remains lie in state at St. Peter Chapels. Visiting hours: 9 AM – 7 PM. #MGCQ#curfew Interment on Saturday morning.

The family would like to thank everyone who stood by us during these very difficult times, in thoughts, prayers, kindness and generosity. Specifically, we would like to extend our greatest gratitude to her attending doctors for all that they have done for her. We would also like to thank her nurses and the wonderful staff of AFPMC V. Luna Hospital, MMMHMC, LCGH, as well as the cathlab crew of ManilaMed.

This post has been modified from the original FB PSA. In lieu of condolences, I actually asked for encouraging words or a good memory of my mother to be shared in the comments. Because this post will repeat itself every year, On This Day, and I would want to be reminded of something wonderful when I look back.


Navigating the New Normal

24 June 2020 at 08:44
By: Aggie

And no, I don’t mean the post-Covid world.

We have just brought Mom home from the hospital. She sustained a subtrochacteric fracture on the left after wrongly sitting on her butt. 😥 Her platelet is low so the Ortho wouldn’t operate on her anymore; she is only on skin traction to stabilize the bone.

So while most are preparing their homes for work from home setups and online learning, we are preparing ours for long-term care. We have acquired a hospital bed and egg crate mattress. Also stocking up on meds, adult diapers and other medical needs.

We are looking for dedicated caregivers, but for now we have coordinated our schedules in such a way that there is always someone at home to be with Mom. This pandemic’s a b*tch. We cannot call on relatives to come over and even my brother cannot readily travel from Manila.

Good thing, Elmo’s still on summer vacation so we don’t have to worry about his school schedule… yet. We bring him everyday to my parents’ place, his mere presence being a source of joy for all.


Hospital Playlist

2 June 2020 at 12:41
By: Aggie

Korean dramas are so creative that even the most nuanced can be very engaging. Currently watching Hospital Playlist, and compared to past medical K-dramas I’ve seen, this one’s light and refreshing. 😊

The series revolves around the lives of 5 doctors at the Yulje Hospital whose friendship dates back to med school. In the midst of their respective specialties’ toxicities, they try to get together every so often–quick catchups over coffee, or dinners that can be abruptly interrupted by emergency calls. But when their schedules allow more time to be together, they jam at their friend’s apartment. 

They all belong to the surgical specialties. Because apparently, operating room scenes make for more compelling visuals (all that blood and gore!) than say, localization in Neurology, homeostasis in Nephrology and arthritic knees in Rheumatology. (Oh, but Oncology is also an effective emotional plot point!)

There’s Ik Joon, a hepatobiliary surgeon and a “single” dad. He graduated top of their class, but is not the stereotypical nerd. Rather, he spent school nights clubbing (but would still ace his exams the next day). He plays the lead guitar and is the real vocalist of their band, dubbed “Mido and the Falasol.”

Seok Hyeong just returned to South Korea from his fellowship training. He is a painfully shy and socially awkward Mama’s boy, but a thoughtful OB-Gyn. He is the band’s keyboardist.

Jeong Won is the overly caring and sensitive pediatrician, but who is also a philanthropist who secretly funds his patients’ procedures. His hobbies include running the marathon, hiking, skiing and playing the drums.

Joon Wan is a highly skilled cardiovascular surgeon. He is stern and exacting, but can be sympathetic as well. He is actually my favorite among the 5 friends. 😉 Perhaps because he is the most relatable, while the others are perfect, ideal, aspirational. He plays the second/rhythm guitar.

Rounding up their group is the lone female, Song Hwa. She is kind and conscientious as a neurosurgeon. She is a frustrated vocalist :-P, but is really the bassist of the band.

It is essentially a barkada show: think TGIS or Gimik, but without the landian. 😛 Instead, we have 40-ish junior consultants living through the highs and lows of hospital life, with their fair share of good days and bad, successes, suffering, miracles and death. Each also has his own personal issues, but nothing too dramatic, and are dealt with as swiftly and matter-of-factly as expected of mature people.

Props to the writer for doing his medical research. Even if I do not understand Korean, I appreciate the annotations they put in the bottom of the screen explaining a medical term. And hand hygiene is so emphasized!

Hospital Playlist officially makes it to my list of favorite K-dramas. It comes at a most relatable time in my life. 😊 I suddenly miss my friends. I wonder when we could get together again even just for coffee.

I like their rock version of Pachelbel’s Canon in D. 😎

Flashback to karaoke night during their med school days. 🙂

Their cover of “Me to You, You to Me”, one of my favorite Korean songs (made famous by the movie “The Classic” 😉 ).


Our Little Pluviophile

24 May 2020 at 07:46
By: Aggie

Rainy days are here. I don’t have to worry about watering the plants these days. “Because Nature already takes care of it.” Elmo quipped. 🙂

I absolutely adore this polka-dot umbrella from Daiso. When dry, the spots are white.


But when wet, they take on bright colors. ^_^


Another version of the color-shifting umbrella, this time in raindrops pattern.


He really loves the rain; his only regret is not being able to bike in this weather. 😮





SUUper Balm to the Rescue!

22 May 2020 at 06:55
By: Aggie

This is not a sponsored post. I wish it were though so that I can have more of this little wonder in a tube. 😛

I’ve been having bad eczema flares on my hands these past few weeks. Despite my attempts at having a zen lifestyle and eating healthy during this quarantine period, I think the stress over the pandemic is manifesting in my skin breakouts. There’s also the frequent handwashing with soaps, disinfecting with alcohol and constant cleaning with commercial cleaners that is contributing to my eczema. X_x


I’ve been applying steroid cream, but the relief is only temporary. I would still be waking up in the middle of the night with a bad pruritic attack. I could take antihistamines and oral steroids to give me a good night’s sleep, but I don’t want it to be nightly habit. My nailbeds have darkened from the constant scratching, and have shined/thinned out from frequent steroid application.

Someone brought samples of Suu balm to our office. It read “moisturising” on the label, so after washing my hands with soap for the Nth time, I applied some. And voila! The burning and itchy sensation on my fingers have disappeared.

Suu balm was developed by Dr. Tey Hong Liang who helms the Itch Clinic at the National Skin Centre in Singapore. I looked up its mechanism of action. #nerdalert 😛 And learned that just like how a massage alleviates pain by stimulating the mechanoreceptors and the dorsal column-medial lemniscal pathway, rather than the nociceptors of the spinothalamic tract, so too the ingredients of Suu balm trigger the cool receptors on the skin and not the free nerve endings that subserve itch. ;-)The cooling sensation is a tad bit stinging, but is much much more pleasant that the burning itch. It also has moisturizing ceramides and filaggrin to help repair the skin. At the least, it breaks the itch-scratch cycle. I have to keep re-applying throughout the day coz I wash my hands frequently. But just one application before going to bed gives me a good night’s sleep, sans the steroids. ^_^


Achievements Unlocked

9 May 2020 at 21:09
By: Aggie

Elmo’s school concluded with their online exams last Wednesday. Couldn’t help but listen in on his conversation with his teacher. He was so excited to see his teacher again and was all chatty, I thought mauubos oras nya kakadaldal. 😛 It was 30 minutes of recitation, and he did alright. 😉

He would have been graduating from Kindergarten right now. Unfortunately, large public gatherings have been canceled due to the pandemic. 😮

So he is now officially on summer vacation. And the First Order of the day is to be indoctrinated in the ways of The Force, aka watch Star Wars movies. 😛

With his Lego Star Wars spaceships for more effect. 😛 Excuse my desktop clutter.

He has also finally learned to bike. We bought his bike when he was 4; it’s red and Lighting McQueen-themed, him having a fascination for “Cars 3” the movie at the time of purchase. 😛 We only removed the training wheels–“stabUlizers” as he calls them–sometime during this quarantine period. And as with all things novel, he was apprehensive in the beginning. But he (can I say WE? 😛 ) persevered. And today, he confidently rode his bike for the first time.

Elmo bike
Look Ma! No more trainers! 🙂

Pwede nang utusang bumili ng pan de sal sa kanto. 😛 At may pambato na ang pamilya namin sa Iron Man. 😎



Elmo bike

Covid Cogitations

4 May 2020 at 08:35
By: Aggie

So much for saying I am back to blogging regularly. Was in low spirits the past few days owing to Mom’s surveillance CT results. Her repeat abdominal imaging showed the liver mass was unchanged from its previous size. I actually hoped for it to become smaller, though apparently it’s still a good thing that it did not grow. Her attending Oncologist says it’s stable disease; my other Onco friend seconded the pronouncement. The Interventional Radiologist said there is no need to perform a 3rd round of TACE on her. But ever the pessimist, and always seeing the glass half-empty, I couldn’t help but dwell on the incidental finding of an adrenal mass, as well as the hepatic nodules. 😮

Under ordinary circumstances, we would have gone to Manila; she is really due for PET scan after this repeat CT. But these are extraordinary times, and I feel helpless about her current situation. It seemed pointless knowing all these treatment options and yet unable to pursue them. 😦

Been trying to be objective about it. She may die from cancer in several months (Father God, pwedeng po bang years pa? 🙏) but I can at least give her a decent burial. If we push through with going to Manila at this time and she contracts Covid, she will only last for days. I will not even be able to hold her until she has been cremated and placed in an urn.

Anyway, enough of the morbid stuff. I’m better now, good enough to blog at least.

Continuing through Arthur Maxwell’s The Bible Story with Elmo. We have finished reading the saga of Joseph. We saw how Joseph’s Faith has sustained him from pit, to prison, and eventually second in command to Pharaoh over all of Egypt.

“So what is the moral of the story?” I asked Elmo after we concluded the chapter. 😛

“That God can make good things out of the bad….”

“Yes, that’s correct.”

He was thoughtful for a moment, “But Mommy, what is the good in Covid?”

“Uh… well… we get to go home early and have more time together. Is that good enough for you?”

“Yes, it’s good. I like it. I also like that we don’t have school. And summer break is long!” 😀

And so because of recent events, let me just write down what is the good—any good—that has come out of this pandemic.

We don’t have any traumatic brain injuries from DUIs

We really do get to go home early. And have more family quality time. 🙂

• Our house is cleaner and tidier than ever! It’s still far from the minimalist muji-scandi I aspire for, but at least we’re nearer there than ever before. 😉

• We’re eating healthier and even cheaper! Our province is primarily agricultural and since the ECQ, several small stalls have opened along the highways, selling fresh produce from the backyard. Hindi nga lang gourmet, but we’ve been having grilled vegetables everyday for breakfast, and ginisang gulay for dinner. Yep, definitely healthier!

• Gas is cheap!

• No traffic.

• Fresher air and cleaner waters.

• Simpler living. 🙂


Lazy Lockdown Days

5 April 2020 at 09:59
By: Aggie

Elmo’s school just concluded with their 3rd quarterly exams when the Luzon-wide lockdown was declared. With still a quarter left in the academic year, their school has been sending us the remaining modules every week. So we’re learning the multiplication table by 2s, 5s and 10s, telling the time in the hour and half/quarter pasts, consonant blends, action words (verbs/pandiwa) and describing words (adjectives/pang-uri), with some crafting on the side. 😉

This is probably what it means to homeschool. It’s a novelty, but I can say it’s not really meant for us. Elmo’s smart and quick-to-learn. He is capable of accomplishing the modules right away, but gets bored easily. Although he complies, I feel that he finds them restricting. Outside of homeschooling, he’s learned alphabetization by using the dictionary, telling the time to the minute, Sudoku, anatomy and disease (feat. Covid-19 @_@ ), some geography (again because of Covid, he has become interested in Italy, Spain, the USA), Archimedes’ principle, capillary action & surface tension properties of water, the water cycle, the ecosystem and food web, dinosaurs of course! And his most recent interest… “entEmology.” He is curious about the life cycle of a mosquito and wants to set up stagnant water for the larvae to breed. (Anak, baka ma-dengue naman tayo nyan! 😛 )

It’s only the 3rd week of this ECQ, and things are starting to become a CHORE…. literally! Our daily household routine includes: watering the plants, meal preps, washing the dishes, surface cleaning and disinfecting the car. Every other day, we would bleach-mop the floors (I so luv our tornado mop! 🙂 ) And in between, would cycle through: sunning shoes, mats, rugs and stuff, organizing Elmo’s things, throwing out stuff, doing the laundry. Wash, rinse, repeat.

There’s still so much to do though, i.e. declutter & organize digital files, declutter paper pile, organize my little library and closet), but I’m just SOOOO LAZY these past few days. I guess it all started when I hurt my back doing household work. All those pushing and heavy lifting. 😦

Also having eczema attacks. And developed allergies to the face masks. @_@

I’ve re-watched “Crash Landing On You“, this time focusing more on the secondary characters. Ang gwapo den ni 1st Lt. Park Kwang Beom ah! His story arc’s quite underrated vs. the others. But for me, he is Capt. Ri’s most reliable and trusted aide as well as his heir apparent. It was him who Capt. Ri first called to detonate the bomb, whom Ri brings with him on special missions, who drove Ri and Seri to the airport, and whom Ri entrusts with his plans. I wish there would be a spin-off special focusing on them Ducklings + Man Bok, of course with a cameo from our RiRi couple. 🙂


Started a new drama, “Sky Castle.” The setting is an upscale neighborhood which houses professionals: the husbands are doctors, lawyers, professors and the like, while the wives keep house, wait on their husbands and look after their kids. They are frenemies all, secretly envious of the other, one-upping each other professionally and competitively pushing their children to excel in school. When one of the enviable mothers suddenly takes her own life, their neighborhood’s secrets are suddenly brought to light.

The drama does not need a romance angle to buoy up the audience’s interest. The narrative alone is compelling. You know the story is good when it affects you personally, and this drama actually scared me. @_@ I understand how the mothers just have their kids’ best interests at heart, and they only love their kids–but with a love that is both fierce and flawed. The acting was also superb! The kids are without any exception most brilliant in their respective roles: from the stuckup Ye Seo to the spunky Ye Bin, sensitive Su Han, sweet Woo Joo, deranged Hye Na and in between, the Cha siblings who were the most normal and well-rounded of the bunch! Their mom is actually my favorite among the ladies.

Tried to brush up on my Korean. I can actually read and write, and have figured out their grammar rules. But my vocabulary is very limited, so I cannot really carry out a decent conversation. 😛

I hope to be able to get my mojo back. The President has extended the ECQ for a couple more weeks and I hope to finally do the things I’ve been longing to do but never found the time. At the least, I’ve been blogging more often than usual. 😉



Semana Santa Feels

29 March 2020 at 03:33
By: Aggie

It’s now the second week of the Luzon-wide Community Quarantine. Without traffic to contend with, it was a peaceful drive to work. 🙂 In recent years, our province has seen a boom in tourists peaking during the summer months. But these days are a stark contrast, reminiscent of the Holy Week in 1980s–this was the pre-cable/Internet era, and there wasn’t much to do.

Interestingly, quarantine derives from the *Italian* word “quarantina” meaning “forty.” (Italy, the country which is now being ravaged by the COVID-19 disease.) Forty is the prescribed number of days for a ship to dock before letting out any passengers to make sure they do not bring any diseases with them. It rained for forty days and forty nights during Noah’s time. Jesus was tempted in the desert for forty days. Forty days is the Lenten Season. Another 40 days from Easter to Pentecost.

How timely that this pandemic had to happen right smack in the middle of Lent, being a period of reflection, repentance and reconciliation. Locked down in our homes, we are forced to live on only the basic necessities. We realize what is important and essential, away from the allure of travel, shopping and consumerism. And that beyond cursory connections and shallow socializations, it is still home and family that is our refuge in times of crises.

I would like to believe that God in His infinite wisdom and goodness allowed this pandemic to happen. He will do whatever He wishes, and His purpose will stand (Isaiah 46:10). I cannot make sense of all the death and suffering around the world, nor will I even attempt to understand. For my thoughts are lower than His, my ways are not His’ (Isaiah 55:8). But I hold on to this hope, that no matter how grave the situation is right now, all things will work out for good, for those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).


Inside Noah’s Ark

30 March 2020 at 01:28
By: Aggie

Reading Arthur Maxwell’s The Bible Story with Elmo. I’ve read that book a lot as a kid, but it also still resonates with me as an adult. Perhaps because we are also in a similar situation now, as Noah and his family were inside the ark.

Noah’s family were in LOCKDOWN FOR A YEAR!!!! It wasn’t the most comfortable experience being inside the ark. It was dark and dingy what with all the animals. Dizzying too as they rode the tides and sailed through the tempests. And they must have had their own doubts, worries and fears.

But they were SAFE, PROTECTED and PROVIDED FOR. Inside the ark which God prepared for them. ^_^

I pray that this lockdown will not take as long. But just the same, may we also be safe and protected, provided even, inside our own little arks. 🙏


Beautiful Sunday At Home

22 March 2020 at 00:38
By: Aggie

It’s been a week since the President declared a Luzon-wide lockdown, with our Governor following suit. If only the reasons weren’t so dire, I actually appreciate this period of peace and quiet–hopefully it’s not the calm before the storm. We get to finish our days early and sleep early and thus, start our days early too. 😉 We don’t have to rush through the mornings. Breakfasts are slow, cheaper, yet healthier. And I finally get to clean the house and putter around the garden. 🙂

Elmo especially enjoys watering the plants. We recently had grass planted in our little yard. (It’s a long overdue project actually, something which we always put off for the rainy season so we don’t have to water every day. But when the rains come, our priorities change to dealing with class suspensions, drying the laundry, evacuation if need be. 😛 ) Suddenly, we have time to water the grass everyday, twice a day even. Goodluck na lang sa water bill! 😛


Sorted through my old digital files, and re-discovered the OST of “Once On This Island”. Introduced Elmo to it, but IDK if he can comprehend the sacrificial kind of love Ti Moune had for Daniel. I gave “The Little Mermaid” as a similar illustration, but apparently the version that he knows is the Disney-fied one where they all live happily ever after in the end. He likes “We Dance” and “Mama Will Provide” because they are happy dance-y tunes.

Elmo is trying his hand (pun intended) at origami. He has been folding paper into different kinds of airplanes, but realized for himself that the simplest design is still the most aerodynamically stable.

He has also already learned Sudoku.


At times, we play “Organ Attack”, a medically-themed card game inspired by the popular “Heart & Brain” comics by Nick Seluk. It’s his Ninong’s gift for the little boy, but we all enjoy it as a family, nerds that we are! 🙂 It’s a nice card game for teaching the basics of anatomy and disease, though you still have to differentiate which is fact from fun or fiction. Because “Love” is an affliction that can only affect the Heart, but automatically kills the Brain. 😛


We’ve begun reading Arthur Maxwell’s The Bible Story. There are a few loose pages and some torn ones which have been taped, but on the whole our copy has been well preserved for over 3 decades; I was just a couple of years older than Elmo when I first read it. Our goal is to finish at least the Old Testament during this quarantine period, and then the New Testament in the summer.


I pray these measures undertaken by the National Government will be sufficient to “flatten the curve” so to speak. I cannot imagine what will happen to our country, to our region and province should this scourge finally befall us.

Our little Jedi-in-training. 🙂 He’s imagining fighting the coronavirus.