A Day at KidZania Manila

When Mikaela’s Ninong Jun asked what would be a good present for the kids last Christmas, I suggested an ‘experience gift’ instead of the usual toys/ clothes/ books.  He chose to buy tickets at Kidzania Manila, a kids’ entertainment facility based on role play, and we set the date for our visit.

We had to be in BGC at 9AM, so I made sure that my little owls turned in early the night before. It can be challenging to put two kids to bed early, wake them up and then get them both ready early in the morning, so I wanted to give them a heads up. I showed them the Kidzania website and let them decide on which establishments they wanted to visit.  I also oriented them a bit about the general rules, which were a bit different from the other amusement centers that they were used to.

They have a real-world setup where each kid is given a check upon entry for 50 Kidzos (Kidzania currency), which they would have to encash at the bank (BPI).  Kids can then use their money to avail of services at the salon, department store, driving lessons, etc.  They also earn cash for working at places like the gas station (Shell), bottling plant (Coca Cola), fire station, etc. If they run out of money, Mom and Dad can’t bail them out by buying extra money — they will have to find work to earn some more. Pretty neat, huh? 😉

When we discussed the earning and spending part, Mikaela had this thoughtful look and then a flash of realization.  She said, “Is that why you work every day?” and I said “Yes, work is what I do to earn money, which we use to pay for things that we want or need.”  She nodded carefully and said, “Okay, I promise not to distract you anymore when you work.”  Riiiiiight…let’s see if she can keep that promise. 😛 They were in bed at 9PM but couldn’t fall asleep right away because of their excitement. :))

We went there with Jun and his twin nieces Caitlin and Ashley. The twins have been there thrice before, but we adults were blown away when we first walked in.  The place was AMAZING! The photos in the website were nice, but they don’t quite capture the actual experience of being there.

The check-in area is built like an airport terminal and there’s a passport issuing counter where kids can acquire passports to enjoy extra perks for an additional fee.


Kidzania’s corporate partners provide the activities for the kids and services for the adults, with excellently planned layouts of each space.  For example, there was a pizza making activity for the kids sponsored by Yellow Cab Pizza on one end of their space, an oven in the center, and an extension on the other end that functions as a small store for the hungry parents waiting outside.


Another house rule is that parents are not allowed to fall in line for their kids or go inside the establishments. That’s a plus for me, even though we had to keep reminding the girls to stay in line and had to keep telling them how many more minutes they had to wait — it’s a good exercise to teach them (and us!) about patience.  One time, Katie was in line for the next shift at the operating room but then she left the queue because she had to poop :)) Oh well, surgery cancelled due to a personal emergency. :))

One of the highlights of our visit was when they girls wanted to be doctors. The hospital setup was sponsored by St. Luke’s Medical Center and seeing the operating room setup gave me and Karlo the ultimate feels. :))  There were 3 options for medical training, they can either go to the ER, OR or NICU.  I asked each girl what kind of doctor they wanted to be, the one that rides an ambulance, operates on people, or takes care of tiny babies.  They kept changing their minds and changing lines (much like us during internship when trying to decide which specialty to pursue, haha!) but Mikaela finally settled for the OR because it’s Daddy’s work and Katie…well, Katie ended up pooping. :))

To make Katie feel better about missing her shift, I brought her around to see what else she can do while waiting for Mikaela.  We ended up at the gas station and she was an excellent (and very cute!!) gas attendant, courteously asking her customer which gas he needed and wiping down the car.

Karlo sent me a photo of Mikaela “scrubbed in” with a proud Daddy caption, “Kakay is first assist!” She was so adorable in her green SLMC scrubs, OR cap and mask, consciously holding her hands up to keep them “sterile”.

I like how Kidzania and their corporate partners made everything child-sized but realistic, from the machines, the props and the uniforms — there was even a plane setup c/o Cebu Pacific where kids can choose to undergo Cabin Crew training or have Aviation lessons using a flight simulator.


Mikaela’s favorite was the OR because she got to be a doctor like Mom and Dad, while Katie’s favorite was the Magnolia ice cream facility.  My little foodie had a happy little dance of triumph when she finally came out of the place with her cup of ice cream…AND she got paid 5 Kidzos for her work too. Total win!

Funny thing is, they came out of Kidzania with more money than they initially had because they weren’t so keen on services like shopping or getting pampered at the salon.  They said, “But we already do that, it’s boring!” :)) O sige ha, pwede pati sa totoong buhay?

More than the realistic props and costumes, what I like about Kidzania is that it initiates social awareness in kids at an age when they are used to having people do things for them. Unlike places that offer freestyle play, they get to experience the actual work that goes into service-based jobs and get acquainted with real-world rules.  They get to see how their food is made and then get to enjoy the product of their labor afterwards.  The best part is seeing them come out of each establishment looking so accomplished, beaming with pride and saying things like “Did you see me work, Momma? I helped put out the fire!” or “I saved that patient!”.

We were all so very tired afterwards and I still had cataplexy episodes despite having doubled my prednisone dose that day, but it was definitely worth the effort.  The girls kept remembering that they didn’t get to try a lot of the activities on our original itinerary, so I promised them that we will schedule another visit.  For now, I think I need to put my feet up and recover from a whole day of walking and standing.



The Freedom to Give

*Disclaimer: This post is not meant to guilt-trip anyone into doing the same thing.  I just wanted to share my motivation for giving in the hopes that it would help someone get a fresh perspective on finances.


Money is a sensitive topic to breach.  Everyone has a different personal view on finances that may or may not be reflected by his or her actual spending habits. My personal view of finances have changed a LOT from when I was a poor-as-a-rat student who was completely dependent on my weekly (usually delayed) allowance.  Let me share how it has changed over the years by starting my weird (?) penchant for giving money away.


Let’s just get one thing straight: I am far from being rich. I hope no one envisions a version of me rolling around piles of money falling down from heaven, because as much as I would love to try that, I simply don’t have piles of cash to roll in.


I give to others as an offering of love and remembrance to the Lord. Every time I give any amount, I tell God that I have not forgotten how it felt to be in the same situation of need; that I have not forgotten how it felt to be millions in debt despite being very careful and frugal with whatever salary I had; that I have not forgotten that it was not my hard work or effort or financial wisdom that got my family out of that  debt; that it was Him who moved people’s hearts and caused them to feel compassion towards us.  I tell Him that I have not stopped believing that He is a faithful God who knows all my present and future needs (Philippians 4:19); that I know that I am precious to Him (Matthew 10:29-31) and that He will never leave me in the dust to fend for myself (Jeremiah 29:11).


My desire to give was what actually what made me accept my current job. At that time, I felt like my family’s finances were stable enough to allow me to remain at home to look after my sisters and kids. I had quit my previous part-time job a few months back to straighten up some family stuff when my Dad had a stroke and subsequently passed away. My husband reassured me that being a sole breadwinner was fine with him, but I have been seeing news/ social media posts of various people in need that I really wanted to help but could not. A few times, I discussed donating with my husband and he graciously provided but I felt a bit guilty that I was giving away something that was not mine. Is that weird? I mean I know the meaning of conjugal property and all that, but I just had this NEED to give something that I had, something that I worked for.


I landed a job purely by accident when one of my closest friends referred me to her sister who was looking for doctors who were interested in a pharma-based, non-clinic, work-from-home kind of job.  I was hesitant to apply at first because I was worried that I might not have time to be hands on with my kids, etc. I remember praying, “Lord, I will go ahead and apply for the job, but if You think this is a bad idea, please let them turn down my application. No hard feelings. I know You know what’s best for me and my family.”  :))  Long story short, I did get that job and I’m currently working from home. It’s been crazy but mostly manageable.  The best part that I remember about being employed again was when my first salary came in and I gleefully withdrew a portion and dropped it into the tithe box of my church.  I remember silently praying a million thanks and thinking that my tithe was so small compared to what God has provided for us, but that I will continue to share this blessing not as repayment but as an offering of thanksgiving.


Giving to others reminds me that I have a job, not because I’m so hardworking or talented or smart.  I have a job because God made it happen the way He did and whatever funds I have all came from Him.  My money is HIS money and I want to use it to carry out His purposes; I don’t want to hoard His blessings for myself or my family, I want it to work for Him. I try to keep Proverbs 30:8-9 (NIV) close to my heart: “Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.”


For the past two or three days, I’ve been listing down people’s names – those whose stories of need I’ve read and have made me remember my promise to the Lord.  I was working on moving my funds around trying to see what amount I could give away to each of them and all my transactions were completed on Valentine’s Day, of all days.  So on Valentine’s Day, my heart was full.  On Valentine’s Day, God found a way to reawaken my compassion for others, which I honestly thought had already shriveled away for good.


Everyone has monetary needs, but knowing Who fulfills those needs gives me the freedom to give.



*In case you have been moved to give as well, please click on each person’s name to view their stories (came across their stories on Facebook):

Loida Bauto – A 26-year-old mother who has continuing financial needs due to ruptured arteriovenous malformation (AVM) and its complications

Aarone Jamora – A 7-year-old boy who suffered extensive burns when he tried to save his two younger siblings in a fire

Connie Almaria – battling uterine cancer



A Revival


The third day of the mid-year Prayer and Fasting week was on a Friday and I was really excited to attend the service instead of just watching the live stream at home.  I took the option of going on a partial fast, which means I was sticking to soup and water (and coffee!) until the end of the P+F week.  I’ve always wanted to go on a full fast (and maybe I’ll be able to do that in the future) but for now, my steroid intake is just not compatible with fasting. If you’ve ever been on steroids, you’ll know how challenging it is to even go on a partial fast :))

Anyway, the point of fasting is to scale down on things that keep you from having more time with God.  So for this week, I was also absent from yoga classes and social media (Facebook, Instagram).  Instead of letting these things take up my time, I tried to read the Scripture and my devotionals.  Of course I couldn’t take time away from work or mothering, so my grumbling stomach served as my cue to take a break from whatever it was I was doing to read and pray for a few minutes.

Despite all these, I still felt like I haven’t really gotten into it, no breakthroughs of any sort.  I don’t know, maybe I was being mechanical about it.  So on the third day, I planned to attend the nightly service at CCF.  Friday, no work the next day, perfect timing.

The second song was “I Lift My Hands” by Chris Tomlin and I was caught off guard with how much the words brought up a jumbled mix of emotions.  The chorus goes, “I lift my hands to believe again,” and people starting lifting their hands in worship and I strained so hard not to start bawling like a baby (without much success, to be honest).  I was overwhelmed with guilt as I realized that I had strayed, that I have fallen back into my old mundane patterns of self-reliance, pride and relegating Scripture back to head knowledge.  I have stopped taking time during the day to pray sincerely and listen for Abba’s answers.

But it wasn’t just guilt that I felt; there was a powerful touch of gratitude underscoring that guilt because I knew that He would always welcome me back, to resume my walk with Him.  I remember one night, when everyone was asleep and my mind was aimlessly wandering.  I was playing worship songs on my phone, because my kids love having “Jesus song” as a lullaby.  I found myself praying before I fell asleep and I ended with “I miss you, Abba. Will You come back?” and almost immediately, I felt Him gently answer, “I have always been here.  Where have you been?” I cried myself to sleep that night.

So anyway, back to the third service of the P+F week.  For some reason, I thought the topic was on provision and I was surprised when it turned out to be on healing.  The message and testimony made me think back on the health rollercoaster I’ve been on for the past year.  This time last year, I had just gotten out of the hospital after being confined for almost a month.  That was the first of four hospitalizations; I was in and out of the hospital as we (me , my husband and fellow doctors) tried to figure out how to get my cataplexy and adrenal insufficiency under control.

After being discharged for the fourth time, I was really fed up with the back and forth situation and I made a bargain with God as I prayed for healing.  I promised to give up smoking in exchange for complete healing.  I still haven’t kept my promise, but being the faithful God that He is, Abba already started answering my prayer.  I couldn’t wrap my head around it when I started realizing that I was getting better and that my prayer is being answered.  I think it was partly because I humanized God in a way, thinking that He will withhold His promise until I kept mine.  I had forgotten that because of His unconditional love, He can and will do this for me because He still loves me even when I falter and repeatedly make excuses.  Again, guilt underscored by so much gratitude.

It’s been a year and yes, I have experienced His miracles.  They’re very personal and small in the sense that it only affects one person (me).  It’s not a let’s-publish-a-paper, sound-the-alarm kind of thing.  What counts as a miracle for me? The simple things:

  • Being able to enjoy a long, cold shower when I used to bathe sitting on a chair as a precaution against falls and because I couldn’t stand up for more than a few minutes (adrenal insufficiency and cataplexy at their finest :P).
  • Being able to wrestle, tackle then carry both my kids AT THE SAME TIME. A year ago, I had to plead with my younger daughter whenever she wanted me to carry her because I just couldn’t.  The few attempts a few weeks after coming home from the hospital were scary because of the cataplexy.
  • Being able to go back to yoga! I never thought I’d be able to do anything physically challenging because regular sedentary life was already an actual physical challenge a year ago. And now here I am, working my way back into my arm balances and inversions (VERY slow progress with inversions).

I still have full-body cataplexy from time to time (had one just last week), but it’s not as bad as before.  I’m still on steroids and thyroid meds, but I’ve been doing well without the other medications that I used to take.  Will I ever be completely off meds? The doctor in me says no.  Will I ever be able to say I’m completely healed? I honestly don’t know.  All I know is that it’s time to keep my promise.


You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.Jeremiah 29:13

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.Deuteronomy 31:6


2A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”

3Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy.Matthew 8:2-3


#1 Addiction

Now that the intro has been written, it’s time for my first entry in the Confession Box.  This is a lot tougher than I anticipated, but here we go. *cue nervous laughter*

The topic during our Dgroup meeting last Friday was “Addictions Destroy – Replace Them” from the 4W’s series of CCF.  In summary, we talked about what addiction is (anything that shows itself to be a master over our lives other than Jesus, which also makes it an idol), its cost, how it hinders us from fulfilling God’s purposes for our lives, its cause (sin) and its cure (Jesus).

Then the kicker – we had to identify our individual addictions and pray for ways to overcome them.  Mine is a very obvious one, actually.  I’ve been a smoker for 15 years, not counting the brief times in between that I’ve stopped. My cigarette consumption in those 15 years varied, being much, much higher when I was younger, peaking during college and medical school.  Seems ironic, doesn’t it? At that time, I would consume around 1.5-2 packs per day (PER DAY!) especially during exam week.  It was mostly for jumpstarting my insanely early mornings and for staying awake.  While on duty in the hospital, I would sneak out, take off my intern’s blazer and fold it so that no one (patients or hospital visitors, at least) would realize that I was a doctor in training. In the past 5 years or so, I’ve cut back to a little over half a pack a day and rested on the thought that at least the problem is not as bad as it used to be.  That’s just something that I used to tell myself because, well, smoking is smoking.  As long as the exposure is there, the health risks are still very much applicable.

And then I decided to follow Jesus.  For a while, I thought, “Hey, Jesus accepts every flaw, I’ll just make it up in some other way” and I wasn’t really bothered about my habit.  But I kept coming across this verse:

19Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Ouch. I literally imagined the Holy Spirit coughing up a storm in my smoke-filled lungs. After giving up on the thought of quitting smoking (I quit quitting, yeah.) for several years, I wanted to give it a try again.  So last year, I enrolled in the smoking cessation program of St. Luke’s Medical Center because well, I’ve tried quitting on my own and thought that maybe I needed something else like meds to give me a little help.  It was a little (okay no, a LOT) embarrassing to sit in front of fellow doctors to discuss the health hazards of smoking because they knew I was a doctor, and I already knew these things, but I was still smoking.  Well that’s the thing about addiction, right? You know you’re being shortchanged by that particular thing but you keep buying its false promises anyway.

For me, I was buying the false promises of higher productivity, but guess how productive I was when I ended up in the hospital for 3 weeks? Yep, a year ago today, I was hospitalized when my adrenals gave out.  Although smoking was not the sole cause of that, smoking certainly takes a toll on the adrenal glands.  And at that particularly stressful time, I was back to 2 packs a day.  In any case, being confined made me stop smoking cold turkey, which I tried to keep up after being discharged…and I did keep it up — for a grand total of 8 weeks. *sheepish grin*

So yes, here we are again, back to square one. I’ve been mostly recovered from that adrenal scenario, taking prednisone for hormone replacement.  I’m down to 1 cataplexy attack in the past month. I’ve been able to go out for errands, can drive for short distances, can carry both kids at the same time (!) and go to yoga twice a week. One year has made a lot of difference and I am truly grateful for that…but I still have this nasty habit.

Sometimes when I smoke, I get that familiar sinking feeling that I get before a cataplectic episode and it reminds me that my continuing to smoke is not okay.  My count is down to about 6-9 cigarettes per day, but I will work on cutting back further until I quit completely.  Seriously, I envy people who can quit smoking just like that and have not gone back without so much as a backward glance.

I will stop smoking.  This will happen.  And as Pia (our Mother Hen 🙂 ) reminded our group, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit” (Zechariah 4:6).


I have been thinking about adding a section in my somewhat stagnant blog that deals about the things that I’ve said or done that I have since regretted.  With encouragement from my Dgroup (discipleship group) sisters, I opened a tab called “Confession Box” so I can write and reflect about my own shortcomings.  It may sound a little weird and I’m not sure how it’ll turn out, but the idea came from this Bible verse:

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:19 (NIV)

Forgiveness and purification are just what anyone harboring a hidden sin needs.  Honestly, I’m after the purification part because I’ve been trying to kick an ugly habit that I’ve had for years and I think I’ve tried everything, but I still haven’t gotten over it.

Everyone has something that needs to be confessed; it’s just that we’re human, and we’re flawed like that.  But being human and flawed is not an excuse to stop trying to do better and BE better, or to aim for a higher standard.  Even during the times when I think I’ve been on my best behavior, pride would slowly creep back into my heart in a manner so inconspicuous that I’ll only be able to spot it on hindsight.  That made me realize that hidden sins are the most dangerous ones because they can wreak havoc in our lives long before we’re even aware of what’s happening. (Titanic, iceberg, yes?) I take comfort in including this Bible verse in my prayers:

12But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults. 13Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me.  Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression.” – Psalm 19:12-13

Which kind of reminds me of a line from “Restore My Soul” (Vertical Church Band): “Reveal to me what sin remains, then lead me to the Cross again.”

Finally, I came across the devotional written by Max Lucado called “The Power of a Simple Prayer” and was inspired by his insights on confession (Day 3: Take Your Sins to Christ):

  • Give God your guilt. Give it to Jesus with this request: “Will you take this away?”. Do this as often as needed. One time, two times, ten times a day? By all means, hold nothing back.
  • Healing happens when the wound is exposed to the atmosphere of grace.
  • Confession is not a punishment for sin; it is an isolation of sin so it can be exposed and extracted.

I feel like that’s just what I need. The Confession Box is not for judgement because Jesus already accomplished that on the Cross (Romans 8:1); I’m doing this for accountability (mostly to my Dgroup sisters, but why not enlarge the circle, right?) and for introspection (ie. revealing my hidden sins to myself).  I’m also doing this in the hopes that I would find the moral support and also be able to offer the same to anyone who might be having the same difficulties (1 Peter 5:9), but most of all, to glorify God and to serve as a testimony of His faithfulness.

The Confession Box is open for guest posts, for anyone else willing to share their own experiences.  Just send me a message if you’re interested. Have a blessed Sunday! 🙂



Without Saying a Word

For some reason, I was reminded today about the time I had to work on filing the claim for one of my dad’s life insurance policies.  It was one of those start-from-scratch moments where I didn’t know where to go, who to ask help from, or even where to begin.  The financial adviser in charge of my dad’s account had passed away years before he did, so I really had no clue and couldn’t make any sense of the folder of papers that I found in his filing cabinet.  I wasn’t even sure if there was anything left to claim, since the unopened letters from the company were mostly about unpaid principal amounts.  I’ve found that in such situations, the best place to start is good ol’ Google.


(image from: @AG_US twitter page)

With a short prayer and a huge sigh, I Googled the nearest branch of the insurance policy where I could inquire.  Turns out, there was a branch in Libis and I decided to bring all the possibly relevant papers there to ask about the policy.  I went there on a weekday, a little before lunch time and I was surprised to find an empty office space.  Puzzled, I looked around for someone to ask directions from.  A janitor approached me, pointed to another office and said that someone was expecting me.  I was even more confused but I went to that office anyway.

A man was sitting alone, working on his computer.  He looked up and said, “Hi, what can I do for you?” I told him I was there to inquire about a policy.  And he said, “Oh…I’m the manager of this office and our branch is actually not yet operational… I only came in today because I was supposed to meet with an investor.  But you know what? I don’t believe in coincidences.  The fact that you came in today, the only day that I had to come here, I think I’m meant to help you and so I will.  Here, have a seat and tell me your concerns.”

In my head, I was thanking God over and over.  I was smiling and a little tearful (but exerted full effort in holding it in, haha) when I recounted what happened over the past months to explain why I knew so little about the policy.  He gave me his full attention and was very sympathetic.  He even asked the person he was supposed to meet to wait a little while (yikes!), as he was advising me on what to do.  At the end of our conversation, he gave me his personal number and his secretary’s number, and told menot to hesitate to contact either of them if I had any difficulties with the requirements that I needed to come up with to file the claim.

I found his humble and helpful attitude a little curious, and what he said about not believing in coincidences reminded me of something I heard in church service one time.  When I got home, I looked him up on Facebook (a.k.a. person Google) and his profile was full of Bible quotes and Christian messages.  Kaya naman pala.  For me, it was a solid lesson on what it’s like to be a true follower of Christ.  He didn’t have to say anything but his attitude and actions spoke volumes of his faith.


james 1-27

(image from: standingbeside.com/meet-dan-and-tina)

More importantly, he didn’t know that I am a Christian too.  He didn’t help me out just because he felt some sort of obligation or kinship that some of us Christians might operate under.  His attitude and walk of faith is one that would draw in Christians and unbelievers alike.  I hope to grow more and be like him, choosing to serve everyone freely through Christ and maintaining the same humility that Jesus demonstrated. I want God’s love to be evident in how I relate to people without having to say a word.  I definitely have a LONG way to go, but everything starts with setting your heart on your goal.


Morning Mercies

I have this bad habit of nagging myself about the things that I have to accomplish each day, documented on a personal planner, a calendar posted on the wall, and a chalkboard to-do list.  My phone alarm is set to go off at 6AM on weekdays, even though I work from home and practically never leave the house.  Working on international time zones usually means that there’s a bunch of e-mails waiting in my inbox long before I even wake up.  Depending on the previous night’s events, I might wake up with a groan and drag myself out of bed or fully energized and ready to pounce on the day’s work.  Today’s morning reaction was the latter but as I was sipping my coffee in the cool outdoor breeze with a view of the rising sun, I suddenly felt like I wanted to just sit and pause for a while.


It’s morning, it’s the start of a new day! How many people out there never wake up from their sleep? There’s nothing particularly special about this one except that it’s another 24 hours given by God to accomplish His plans in my life, and in the lives of others whom I interact with.  Skipping my usual morning reading plans (devotionals, books and whatnot), I took the time to pray quietly, thanking Abba for blessing me with more time, a good night’s sleep (which is surprising, given that I went to bed late), and renewed energy for the day’s work.  Whenever thoughts of pending tasks creeped into my mind, I had to remind myself that as long as I let God direct my day, it’ll turn out okay.  Like that immunology work that I can’t seem to wrap my head around – Lord, patulong po! J


More than just a ritualistic exercise of self-discipline, morning prayer fills my personal need for peace and order in preparation for another chaotic day.  It’s also a reassuring reminder that whatever happens during the day, there is a loving God who is in control and that everything happens according to His plans.



22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning;  great is your faithfulness.Lamentations 3:22-23


The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9



The sun comes up

It’s a new day dawning

It’s time to sing Your song again

Whatever may pass

And whatever lies before me

Let me be singing

    When the evening comes

– 10,000 Reasons (Matt Redman)

Working with Narcolepsy

In the Narcolepsy Network Facebook group, there are posts from different people echoing my thoughts and emotions when I was first diagnosed with narcolepsy and cataplexy – disbelief that there is an actual clinical condition that makes you want to sleep all the time; an ounce of validation in the yay-I’m-not-just-being-lazy-after-all sense; confusion over what cataplexy was; and mostly frustration over the assortment of medications I needed, and the lifestyle changes that it entailed.

I recently came across posts asking the members of the group if there are any “successful” narcoleptics out there.  I’m not sure how “success” is defined in this manner, whether it means just being able to carry out normal everyday tasks without difficulty or a more ambitious sense of flourishing in all aspects of life.  I personally think “success” is very relative, but in the hopes of encouraging someone else with unusual conditions, I felt like sharing my own story.


All things considered, I shouldn’t even have a job right now.

Back in September of 2014, I was working part-time as one of the company physicians of St. Luke’s Medical Center Global City (SLMC-GC).   Although the workload was heavy at 30-40 patients per shift, the salary was pretty good compared to what I usually earned as a freelance general practitioner.  Being a large tertiary hospital in an upscale area, the environment was a vast improvement from my previous workplaces.  Plus there were a lot of perks care of our hard-working clinic manager – free Vinyasa yoga and Zumba sessions every week, discounted membership at a nearby gym, etc.  A typical workday would usually end with a dinner date with my husband (Karlo) in one of the many interesting restaurants in GC.  I thought I had it pretty good.

Then came February.  What an, um, eventful month.  I was set to go on leave for 2 weeks to be able to spend time with my in-laws who were visiting from the US.  I had arranged for a reliever and meticulously went over my endorsements, to make sure that things would go smoothly while I was away.  On my last day, I carefully packed away my things and made some space in the cabinet so my reliever will have a place for her things during clinic hours.

Day 1 of my leave consisted mostly of airport pickups.  Day 2 was our errands day, spent on buying stuff we needed from the grocery store, people getting haircuts, mani pedis and other pampering treatments, etc.  At the end of the day, I was cranky-tired from walking around with my two kids, because my younger daughter was still in the stage where she preferred being carried around even though she can walk already.  Then came that call from Karlo.

At first I thought he was just checking in to let me know what time he’d be able to join us, because his case extended unexpectedly (he’s an anesthesiologist in SLMC Quezon City), but from the tone of his voice, I immediately knew something was wrong.  With a shaky voice, he told me that my youngest sister had just called him to say that my dad collapsed at home and that his words were slurred when he told her to call Karlo.  I cried and panicked and couldn’t sort my thoughts.  Thankfully, my mother-in-law swooped in and started praying while hugging me tightly, and my father-in-law immediately made plans to drop everyone else off and drive me to QC.  After the nerve-wracking 3-hour drive to QC, my worst thoughts were confirmed – Daddy had a stroke.  He was in critical condition for 3 weeks before he passed away at the end of February.

While my dad was still in the hospital, I faced some pretty tough decisions.  I had to extend my leave from the clinic for two main reasons – 1) my kids’ nannies took the weekend off as we have previously agreed on, but did not come back without any word;  2) my 3 other sisters were still in school and had classes every day so no one else can stay with my dad  (Mommy passed away 16 years ago).

The first thought of resigning from work came when I had difficulties looking for another reliever because truth be told, a lot of freelancing GPs are really just after the money and will bolt at the first sign that the offered work was tougher than it looked.  But every time I thought about drafting my resignation letter, I kept worrying about my dad’s growing hospital bill which was already past the P 1M mark at the time.  Every time I posted job details in a freelance GP page, I limited the duration to 2 weeks at a time, hoping that I would somehow find a way to go back to work and earn a little to be able to start paying off the debt.

Our situation seemed so hopeless back then though because as long as I hired a reliever, my entire salary went to that doctor.  So I was essentially just stressing myself out with looking for a reliever every 2 weeks and still had nothing to contribute to our family’s expenses.  I ended up asking for financial assistance in every way I could think of, including reaching out to family and my dad’s friends for help.  Every morning started with hopeful prayers for provision and every night ended in physical and emotional exhaustion, asking God for guidance and tearful pleas to move people’s hearts to share the financial burden that had already ballooned to P3M in 3 weeks’ time.

It was so easy to panic and worry and give in to despairing thoughts, but God was gracious enough to send reassuring words through Bible study, Bible reading plans/ devotionals, Sunday services, and other means.  These were the verses that were always ran through my mind whenever I was tempted to feel overwhelmed:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. – Jeremiah 29:11

The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still. – Exodus 14:14

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9

This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. – 2 Chronicles 20:15

They were comforting, but I knew that these words would only hold true under one condition – that I was obeying and surrendering to my Lord’s will.  Should I resign? If this is God’s plan for me, is it according to His timeline?

The answer came a few weeks later, when I was contacted by our clinic manager, asking for updates because my contract was due for renewal.  I was still on the fence about it, so I asked her to give me a day to decide.  Thankfully, she is a fellow Christian, so she didn’t pressure me when I asked for time to pray about it. In the end, I did resign after realizing that I needed to make myself available to take care of my kids, sort out the paperwork concerning my dad’s recent passing, and generally taking over the responsibilities of running our large, blended household.  Even though I had several misgivings about our financial situation, I continued to hold on to God’s promise of provision.

Two months later, a friend asked me if I was interested in a home-based work.  The company that her sister works for was expanding their Manila office and was looking for more doctors to be part of their growing team.  I asked for the details but couldn’t commit outright because I wasn’t sure if I was ready to take on a real job since I still had a lot of responsibilities at home.  After praying about it, I decided to give it a try  since there was a trial freelance period anyway.  I was given two projects to work on which I carried out as best as I can, but admittedly I wasn’t sure if I did it well enough.  Afterwards, I was offered a regular contract much sooner than I expected and I was thrilled beyond words!  I was going through a really rough situation at that time and I needed something good to keep me busy…but apparently, I had a surprise waiting for me.

A week after signing my contract, I was hospitalized and was later on diagnosed to have narcolepsy with cataplexy and adrenal insufficiency.  The timing was so inconvenient as I had just been assigned to a new project and I really thought that I’d lose the job that I had just signed on for.  Thankfully, my superiors were very understanding about the whole matter and made adjustments to my workload until I was able to recover and really start working.

The first few months were very unpredictable because I was in and out of the hospital while my doctors and I were trying to figure out the right combination of medications that would allow me to function well.  During the next few hospital admissions, I brought my work computer with me and insisted on continuing my projects since I was bored to death in the hospital, having nothing else to do while waiting for lab results and doctors’ rounds.  I think it sort of paid off, since I became more familiar with this new type of work that I never knew existed while I was in med school.

In hindsight, I really felt Abba’s hand in providing this opportunity because of how perfectly it fit my situation – it’s such a big deal to have a medically related home-based job because given my health conditions, residency training and clinical practice were no longer feasible options for me.  Right now I’m on my 6th month as a medical writer and I’m enjoying every minute of it! The topics are all so very interesting and waaaaaay beyond what I’ve learned in med school.   Sometimes I get so excited about my given topic that I end up having a cataplectic episode.  :)) Seriously. :))

With all that has happened, I can truly attest that there is a loving, sovereign God who cares deeply enough to pay attention to the little quirky details of my life and sets up beautiful plans to take care of His children and for that, I am simply overwhelmed with gratitude. 🙂

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.Proverbs 16:9 (ESV)


Plus a recent bonus ^_^ :



I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

Do You Say “Millennial” with a Fist Up in the Air or with a Sneer on Your Face? Read up.

Mil·len·nial (miˈlenēəl) noun. A person reaching young adulthood around the year 2000; a Generation Y-er.

In the recent days, social media has been teeming with news concerning the recent burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.  There have been statements from government officials, church figures, rallies and demonstrations on major streets, and of course, personal rants on Facebook, Twitter and blogs.

Differing opinions have been voiced in varying tones ranging from being vehemently nationalistic to being cynically apathetic.  And in the middle of all this complex web of issues, this set of photos caught my attention:


I’m appalled that people choose to express themselves this way nowadays.  How will you be able to initiate change if you’re just aiming for low blows that’ll piss people of instead of making them want to listen to you?

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. – Proverbs 15:1

Some who have reshared this link might have also come across other articles on how Millennials have been caught in the cross-fire of politics.   Older people may have some pretty condescending opinions:  Millennials know nothing about history.  Millennials are socially irrelevant.  Millennials only care about the shallow temporal things like food, photos and travel.  Others are more hopeful:  Millennials are starting to care.  It’s good to see young people out on the streets again.

Millennials this, Millennials that.  Quite frankly, I’m sick of the word that lumps together our youth into a category that does not fairly represent their individuality.  And by the way, some of us who utter the word with disdain fall into the same group by age or year of birth.  So yeah, be careful with what you say because when you point one finger at someone, three of your own fingers are pointing back at you 😉

Now, about all this “millennial” talk… instead of nitpicking and outright dismissal, how about we aim to gently correct what we can?  One of our responsibilities is to make sure that the information they receive is accurate.  That involves fighting for the truth, not just in our history books, but also in the current news.  One way is to sign this petition here.  And now the trickier part – we need to train our youth on how to process the available information, how to express themselves with self-control, and how to conduct themselves with dignity.  Don’t attack them, teach them to THINK.  And while you’re at it, teach them HOW to think, not WHAT to think.  Forming an opinion is everyone’s personal homework.


To be able to address the real issues at hand, we need to clear out the cobwebs one by one.  Can we get over this age divide? Can we quit drawing a line between the “us” and “them”?  Can we quit thumping our chests while sneering at the people who will have to deal with this dysfunctional world long after we’re gone? Can we try to recognize our own contribution to the apathy and misinformation that is so rampant in society nowadays?  That is the only way we can ever hope to raise a more discerning generation.

Focus on the individual person.  Focus on YOUR own young individual person.



PS: By the way, I’m 32 years old, so technically I am a Millennial but then that’s not part of the issue here since I’m not aiming to side with, or defend whichever part of the age divide.  Just wanted to clarify that bit.

Education Starts at Home

A few days ago, my husband and I were talking about our daughter’s upcoming Parent-Teacher Conference and wondered if it would be the typical PTC where the focus would be on the child’s academic development.  But considering the fact that she is just in preschool, I have to admit “academic development” sounds too overreaching.

We fondly ran through some of the things that we’ve noticed about her ever since she started going to preschool – her expanding vocabulary, her budding love for singing and dancing (it amuses me to no end when she suddenly bursts into a song and tries to teach the words to her younger sister), and most of all, her attitude.

Whenever I pick her up from school, she is not allowed to simply hop up and run off with me – her teachers always patiently remind her to pack away the toys she played with while waiting, erase the scribbles she made on the blackboard, and to throw her trash in the bin, before she is allowed to get her things from her cubby and put on her backpack without assistance.  Whenever she struggled with any of those tasks, her teacher would gently say, “Kaya mo yan.” (“You can do it.”) with an encouraging nod.

Then Karlo said, “You know what they should be teaching in schools nowadays? Manners.  Before anything else, kids should learn manners.” And my reply was, “I don’t think so. Kids should learn manners even earlier, before they get to start formal schooling.  Values and manners are taught here at home, by us parents.  That’s OUR job.”

Sending our kids to school does not relieve us parents from our responsibility of educating them at home.  Them reaching a certain age does not excuse us from exerting the effort of continuing to shape their minds.  “They are too old to listen to me” is a lazy catch phrase for giving up, and giving up on anyone you truly love is unthinkable.


Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. – Proverbs 22:6

3Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. 4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. 5 Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court. – Psalm 127:3-5

See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. – Matthew 18:10

If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. – Matthew 18:6

36 He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.” – Mark 9:36-37