It’s been two and a half years since I was diagnosed with Clinical Depression. No therapy seem to have worked enough to keep me afloat, until I discovered writing. Well, “discover” isn’t the most accurate word of course. I’ve been journalling since I was eight. Blogging my journey through this despairing diagnosis had bought new meaning in to my life. I met new friends who were like me, and that somehow made things a bit more manageable.

In my blogs to come, I will share thoughts, and insights about life through the eyes of a clinically depressed, how I see my days as they come and how I continued my practice as a medical specialists, and a critical care physician in one of the busiest hospital in my country. There’d be times when I’ll be writing about giving up, and ending it all. I have always been considered as a dark writer, a deviant in the world of the written art.But it will not be in my darkness that I’d want my readers to dwell, but on the flicker of light, the undying hope that always persist amidst my darkest, coldest struggles.


Time would still move amidst the existence of tragedies, and I learned that even in my slow motion moments, I had to keep phase with the world. I also learned that isolation is not protection. We have to reach out amidst the fog, and the stories we share to humanity still counts as wisdom. It is my quest that my stories would touch hearts. That it would somehow educate the world that depression has a face and a story to tell, lessons to share. And inspite of the haze and dark clouds that perpetually shadow us, we are just like you, wounded, broken, but by no means stricken out of the game.


Nice People

“Nice people don’t swear”. I don’t give a fucking fuck. I’m not nice. I am real.

I hated hypocrisy just as much as I hated Metro Art, an overly orchestrated facade to hide the rut behind it. Just like a botox faced matron, or an overly done teenager trying desperately to hide imperfections.

Nice people go to church everyday. Then they go home and give a blow job, behind close doors of course, because the meaning of decency had long morphed into something superficial. A thing to wear on the outside, while the inside reek with foul indiscretion and malignant hate.

Nice people have nice friends, who also have nice friends, from nice families, with well scrubbed, finely dressed, and well behaved kids, and yes, with supportive, “ nice” spouses. Miss one and you are out of the nice people’s league.

Nice people don’t have tattoos on them, don’t smoke, don’t go to therapies, don’t take Prozac, Lexapro or Rivotril. They sleep well at night, don’t get nightmares, are not seized by gripping fear. They do not stay awake all night listening to the blackness wail. They look up and see stars, not a crashing, burning sky.

Nice people walk life relying solely on the goodness of the universe, with faith, hope and glee, worn brilliantly on their sleeves, without the need of a crudely drawn map, on bleeding skin.

I am not nice, and because of that I see an unfiltered world, unmade, scarred, bleeding and in pain. I see what the “nice people” choose not to see, and I do not feel the least bit ungrateful, just honest. I see imperfections amidst the facade of colours and forced glee. I see reality.

The Crime

The Crime

It had been years since she last came back to this place. The vegetations now greener, more vast. The foliage thicker, like a canopy that hides a whole new world below. A world she knew she should not be visiting.

Places change, just like people do. But there will always be the marks of the past as subtle reminders, like the worn out paths of the woods, now concealed by overgrowth and fallen branches. Hidden, but there, — if one knows where to look.

She carefully followed the winding path, stumbling every now and then. Low growing branches scraping her. Mosquitos feasted on her exposed skin.

After an hour and deep into the woods, she emerged into a clearing. Except for the empty beer bottles, cigarette butts, and an old camp fire on the side of the big boulder, everything is just as she remembers it. Tears welled up from her eyes, uninvited — offensive.

It still hurts to remember. Even after years of perfecting her armour, of crafting a future that knows no uncertainties, after years of erecting walls, the past could come with such force and her carefully constructed safe haven becomes a mere delusion.

The big boulder, — her special rock, stood untouched by the years. But just like her, it had grown old. The rock that witnessed horror, concealed secrets, and bore the scars of a broken life. She came closer, and carefully inspected it. She knew were it is, — on the underside to the left, low enough for her to reach if she stands on her tippy toe and stretch her arms real high. Scratched into the rock was a phrase she understood too well, — Jill was here.

It’s been 15 years.

Mr. Aguilar was a good teacher. He had been teaching Chemistry in The Calahan School for 6 years, and he had taken on young Jill under his wings, presumably because he had seen huge potential in her. She wanted to be a chemist and Mr. Aguilar did everything to fuel her dream.

Unlike other girls her age back in the 80’s, Jill had very little interest in frills. She’d come to school excited to learn, not to be fashionably bored. She’d spend a lot of time in the library, or assisting Mr. Aguilar in the lab. In spite of her young age, Jill is very perceptive, and intelligence has a way of making her look more mature, a mirage among many others.

Jill showed keen interest in chemistry, and paid particular attention to organic chemical changes. She also showed enthusiasm in the biosciences, in fact, she was the first to memorize the anatomy of the frog including the origin, insertions, and functions of its muscles long before her class had even reached the topic.

Jill is an only child. They live in the big house. Her Dad works as municipal auditor while her Mom stays home. Her father however is over his head in debt, forcing them to live under the graces and shadow of her Grandmother, who controls everything from the food they eat to what school Jill will be enrolled in. She owns the very air they breath. Everyone thought they were living the good life. What they don’t know need not be told.

Mrs. Anissa Toledo, Inherited a fortune from her father, the late Ernest Toledo, who cultivated and made millions out of his tobacco plantation. Anissa, just like Jill’s Mom, Elise, is an only child.

Everyone knew that Anissa does not approve of her daughter’s marriage to Dante Reyes, but when Elise came home one day, pregnant and sobbing, Anissa pulled strings to make sure her only daughter is wed before it becomes apparent that she is carrying., and so Elise, her new husband, and their infant daughter all lived in the big house, seemingly shackled to the walls and old beams, to the satisfaction and grand entertainment of the matriarch.

Jill never met her grandfather. Elise never talked about him, and there had been no picture of him in the big house. Jill learned not to pursue the topic.Secrets have their reasons to stay hidden. She knew that her family made many mistakes. Her Grandmother had always reminded Elise how marrying Dante was a no brainer. Maybe, her grandmother too made the same mistake with her grandfather. “ Well, I’ll change history for them”, Jill thought. “ I’ will not make a mistake of marrying the wrong man”. She knew that was a huge promise to make, since she too was just a mistake.

Jill discovered the clearing by accident, while she was collecting cones and ferns for her botany project. she was amazed by the size of the boulder which she could climb by stepping on some smaller rocks. “ It’s nice to be up high”, she thought. From then on, the clearing became her hiding place and the boulder her throne, away from the shadows that dominate her home.

During the summer, Jill volunteers in the district hospital. Normally, hospitals don’t allow kids who are not patients within its vicinity, but San Rafael District hospital is undermanned, and it needs all the help it could get.

Jill finds the hospital an opportunity for learning and a plausible excuse to be out of the house most hours of the day, most days of the week, until school resumes in June. Her work is pretty much straight forward. She organizes the charts in alphabetical order and stack the galenicals and medicines that are delivered every Wednesday to a small nook beside the nurses’ station. She is also tasked to run to the small parish near the hospital to get the priest when patients and or relatives request for the Last Rite.

It was one late summer afternoon when the sky looked like a newly formed bruise that Mr. Aguilar, the science teacher, approached Jill and asked her if she knew of a place where they can try a new science experiment, — a place where the noise will not disturb people. Of course she knew of such a place, and she took Mr. Aguilar to the clearing.

While Mr. Aguilar sets up his experiment, Jill found a broken branch and started scratching on the left under belly of the huge rock, “ Jill was here”. She was stretched out finishing her message when she sensed Mr. Aguilar standing very close to her. It was too late when the scent of danger finally registered. She was pinned down. By the boulder. While the sun sets.

Jill was consumed body and soul, forever corrupted and destroyed. As if to highlight the crime, —- it rained.

She was found dazed, bruised, and dirty the next day, sitting on the curve of a road near San Rafael District Hospital. The crime was apparent, even before doctors confirmed it. But Jill wouldn’t talk, in fact, she stopped talking altogether for two straight months. No one, not, her parents, nor her rich grandmother wanted to pursue. Jill knows it. In a small village such as San Rafael, no one wants to be tied up to rape.

In a backward society, the victims of rape are just as guilty as the perpetrators of the crime. They are socially shunned, humiliated, and unfairly judged. The crime of rape often goes unpunished. The victims simply learned to pick up on where their lives had been fragmented.

It was raining when the remains of Mr. Aguilar was laid to rest, in a family plot on the outskirt of town. The funeral service was a grand one, with orchestrated processions. They said he had a heart attack. He was found slumped on his desk one afternoon inside the shadowy chemistry lab of the school. He was declared DOA.

A full week after, Mrs. Anissa Toledo was found dead in her room, with her eyes open and her face twisted into a harrowing death mask. She too was said to have suffered a heart attack. She was buried without the same frills Mr. Aguilar had been given. When you fail to love in life, love should not be expected in death.

Anissa and Mr. Aguilar were buried in different graves, and in different ways, with their crimes forever hidden from everyone else except to their victims, just like the tiny puncture mark on their bodies, where Jill injected the needle and pushed the plunger giving them both the lethal dose of Succinylcholine.

Their deaths were never considered suspicious, so autopsy was not mandated. But Jill knew that even if post mortem investigation had been performed, nothing would be proven. Succinylcholine acts fast and metabolized fast into Succinate, a naturally occurring substance in the human body. A correct dose of Succinylcholine however causes sudden paralysis of the muscles of respiration, often fatal in a matter of minutes.

Jill thanked her job in the hospital dispensary for the unaccounted drug.

The sun is setting in the horizon. The breeze had become cold. Jill gave the clearing one last look before she traced back her steps towards the path leading out of the woods.

Baguio 2017 Day 2

As promised, the day started early, atleast with Ken, my daughter and my nephew. By 6am, all 3 are ready for a stroll in Burnham Park. My youngest and I chose to sleep a bit more. After a hearty breakfast of Danggit, Vigan Longanisa, garlic rice, eggs, brewed coffee and hot cocoa for the kids, we began our day. It’s a nice 15°C out so we decided to drive with our windows down for a better view of the scenic mountains. We made a quick stop to the usual tourist spots like The Mansion, the Wrights Park, Mine’s View and Camp John Hay, but it was the drive to the isolated high places that actually took our breaths away. There are still a few spots in Baguio that have not yet been touched by commerce. Such places usually do not have famous names. Just a short detour off road, and one can enjoy the sweetest scent of pines and fresh mountain air. There is also a spot over Sto. Tomas where one can enjoy a view of the sky, where the famous La Preza TV series had been filmed years ago. It’s now down to its usual simple self which we prefered. Here we came upon a place called the Sky Cafe where the best brewed coffee is being served with local delicacies. The drive back to city proper is another matter though. Vehicles exiting La Trinidad from the famous Strawberry Farm merge into the small road we are also taking, together with delivery trucks carrying vegetables and fruits to be sold in the markets of Baguio and other areas add to the congestion. It usually takes 2 hours from the town proper to get to Sto. Tomas, but the traffic and bad road condition adds an additional 2 hours travel time. So, our advice is to start early. 7am is already very late. Places to go to for spiritual enrichment includes The Lourdes Shrine, The Baguio Cathedral and The Pink Sisters Convent, all in close proximity with each other. Again, they have not been immune to the lure of commerce. A huge part of these churches have been converted to souvenir stores and tourists visit this place mostly to take photos and to buy strawberry jams, a few containers of peanut brittle, and bottles of strawberry wine. If the purpose of one’s visit is to pray, better drive down to Manaoag. Places away from the crowded metro is what we wish to experience in Baguio. Many years back, this place provided reprieve from the noise of the city. Unfortunately, the need to promote tourism had mutated the image of this beautiful city into a replica of a common metropolis. Overcrowding had compromised security, and the tranquility that had once made Baguio a destination of choice for those who wish to heal had been lost. The weather in Baguio is fair all year round nevertheless, and the color is still as vibrant as ever. There are no more kids risking their lives to run after coins thrown into the deep ravines of Mine’s View, thank God. But the city itself, especially those visited often by tourists are strewn with litters in every corner. A sad contrast to the beautiful flowers in bloom especially this time of the year. I remember that once upon a time, Burnham Park had been such a beautiful place. The center of important activities, and a place so attractive that people merge in this area to take a breather. That is no longer the case today. Burnham Park is so crowded, chaotic and so disorganized that it’s easy to lose small children among the throng of people. It is also very poorly lighted at night that walking in the far ends of the park after dark is strongly discouraged. The Ukay Ukay shops once lining the Session road no longer offer “authentic” second-hand branded items that once made them different from the common “ukay-ukay” shops in Manila. The Session road itself is a chaotic mess of people, and noisy vehicles. The sidewalks are lined with shops and partially obstructed by storeless vendors. The overpass is packed with people any time of the day. There is nothing safe walking it especially after dark. I also noticed that sidewalks are not wheelchair nor stroller friendly. So are most establishments. Discovering and revisiting places is the goal of our adventures and seeing the good and the bad face of a new city is part of our travel. Overall, the experience is educational, though tiring. The people are very hospitable and warm, eager to help with anything. That, amidst everything else makes any place a good destination.

Driving To Baguio

Going to Baguio City had always been a part of our adventure list, but driving to the City Of Pines using only a 1.4 AT AUV, not following a convoy, and without an alternate driver is a first. ☺ It took me 7 hours to make the drive from our home in QC to Baguio proper, and an additional 30 minutes to get to our hotel due to traffic congestions in session and Kisad road. We started pretty late so the travel time is not unexpected. We left our home in Quezon City at 8am and reached Shell NLEX by 8:30am. We had our breakfast in Starbucks, a gas refill and a quick fluid check since it’s the first time for me to drive an automatic transmission car up to Baguio with a humble 1.4L engine, with 5 passengers, 3 of which are kids and a 3 days worth of luggage. The drive from NLEX Balintawak to SCTEX was straight forward. Traffic was light in spite of the mid morning rush. By 10am, we are navigating the straight and quiet highway of TPLEX. I noticed that if it were night time, the road would have been very poorly lighted. We exited TPLEX via Urdaneta by 10:30 am, and here is where the crawl started. From Urdaneta City proper to Binalongan Pangasinan, until we reached Rosario La Union, vehicles were in a slow moving line due to road widening repairs. We broke out of the terrible traffic exiting Rosario, just about 2 km before our steep ascent via Marcos Highway. Being a manual driver for the longest time, I kept reminding myself that all I could really do manually when using an AT car to help it with the climb was to remember to use the overdrive, but I hardly needed to do so really. The car could climb just as easily as my manual transmission cars, and very fuel efficient too ☺ On the way up, there were a number of slow moving trucks, but since the road had a lot of sharp curves, overtaking should be properly timed. It is also very important to remember to slow down before entering a curve because a tailspin is a definite risk in this kind of drive. Upon reaching Pugu, the highway was almost in zero visibility. In a sharply winding narrow road with only one descending and one ascending lane, all covered in heavy fog,— the asphalt bordered only from the ravine by small cement barriers, even the most confident driver begins to pray. This is the most dangerous part either going up or going down Baguio City. We arrived in our hotel at 4pm, the kids cranky, hungry and cold. But we were lucky though. We got a nice room without a reservation in a very accessible spot in the heart of Kisad Road, with Burnham Park fronting our room. The famous park is literary just across the road ☺. After a hearty late afternoon meal, the kids wanted to go straight to the park, but I am too tired. We promised them an early morning stroll and a frisby game after breakfast tomorrow. That seem to settle them. ☺ Baguio isn’t really a new experience for us, but the drive was, and we are grateful to have pushed through with the trip in spite of the erratic December weather. More stories about the trip on tomorrow’s entry ☺

To Create

I woke up at 3am. Darkness is in its purest, most glorious state. A time when silence makes the most noise.

This early I am left with not much to do so I started to scroll on my Tumblr entries. Writings made in the ripe womb of the night deserves a trigger warning.

To write is to create something that has part of yourself in it, like conceiving another being and giving it life. It is assembled in ways like its creator, a bit haunted, a bit tormented, somehow lost in the labyrinth that invites both the past and the present to intertwine in a lurid, sickening embrace.

It’s a little after 3am. I find my thoughts in avalanche. It’s the moment writers and artists alike wait for. The moment of unmasking, — the ritual of emerging from our hiding places, in order to create, to put life into words, into lines and shades, — allowing a parallel universe to exist and to transcend beyond pages, beyond mediums and canvases, to invoke powerful emotions, and convey empathy.

We are all hidden behind masks. It’s what’s acceptable. It’s the norm of a civilized breed. We wear clothes, we wear our status, we wear our smile.

And we hide our hearts and souls.

To walk bare amidst the fully dressed is a huge deviation to what is conceived as the social norm.

The night allows disrobing. It allows nakedness. It opens the gate to ideas suppressed by daylight, and thus the creation of writings with the element of fire and blackness; with the spitle of truth and the stale breath of a soul forcefully induced into sedated slumber, it could trigger emotions and memories that could invoke a past long dead to resurrect and to haunt the present.

Words have the power of an army’s arsenal.

I curled into a duvet on the porch and waited for the first glimpse of sunrise. The night is retreating, and daylight is about to take over. A cacophony of sound has replaced the monologue of silence. A new day is about to begin.

I stood up to begin the tedious process of covering up.

Racing Thoughts

Racing Thoughts

They said I need to keep on writing, even if I have nothing more to write.

I need a subject, but it defeats the purpose of putting my thoughts on paper. Thoughts that are usually jumbled up and random. Thoughts that are senseless even to me –especially to me.

My pain talks, but in tongues – or in a language long dead. It’s like putting together an entire book shredded into bits and pieces. Still, I need to try.

I’ll start with a dream I had last night. I was running from something I can not see. I was terrified. I felt I needed to get away, but I was moving in slow-mo, like running under water. I woke up very tired.

If what I feel and what my mind fires up along the way is analyzable, then I won’t be sitting with a shrink every so often. If the fog emits clues as to why I have been chosen among so many others to be tethered to depression, I would have untangled the mystery of me by now. But there were no giveaways, no hidden answers -only broken, indecipherable thoughts running like race horses without a race track.

I hate the rain.

It’s not personal though. I just hated the way it hides the sun. I hated its familiarity, like meeting someone from a long forgotten past. I hate what it represents, how much it reminds me – of me.

I am the rain.

I’ve always been the rain…

I am that sudden cold draft; that muddy puddle on the imperfect sidewalk; that grey cloud that hovers too close to everything nice casting ugly shadows; that blinding downpour that overwhelms…drowns… consumes…

I fear the night

Not because of its darkness… but because of its innocence.

I fear its trust. I cringe from its warm embrace. My soul is unworthy to rest on its bosom – simply because of my restlessness. I taint its purity by being a shadow – disturbing the sanctity of sleep, my nightmares breaking its holy silence.

Do you think I’m crazy?

Do you think you are not?

If there is a line demarcating the normal from the insane, where do you think you’ll be standing? I have no idea where I should belong to.

What I do know is the imperfection of that line. I know how liquid the parameters are, often encroaching upon each other than people wish to see. Sanity is relative.

And so is being normal.

Fake It Until You Make It

Fake it until you make it used to be my mantra. It’s what I used to tell myself when giving up wasn’t an option. I did not become a doctor because I am smart. Mental strength plays only a partial role in the journey every doctor needs to go through. It’s the will to survive that provides the greatest thrust of all. How much do you want it? How many times can you fake strength until it becomes real?

The pull of grief is unmistakably strong. It swallows a person all at once, not little by little. I’ve been into that dark hole many times over. I managed to crawl out each time not because I am unconquerable, but because I refuse to be cheated out of the game too easily. Pride makes it easier to choose which way to go. I chose to stay. I chose to walk my path like I am not lost. I chose to smile like nothing is hurting. I chose to present myself as if nothing is broken, like I am all together even if chunks of who I used to be have broken off like pieces of an old chugging train long forgotten. I chose to live as if I have not yet died.

Courage is the ability to keep an eye on the runway amidst the inevitability of a crash. It is untarnished hope, and the undaunted will to keep on going, even if it meant taking optimism too far; even if you are leaning on a mirage of strength, until what was once a mere illusion becomes real.