give of yourself.

April 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

When you think you’ve done enough, do more.

It’s all worth it.

the bataan project.

March 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

On random Wednesday or Thursday nights, my mother’s house in New Jersey booms with the sounds of familiar voices, the smells of delicious Filipino dishes, and this indescribable, but truly palpable feeling of warmth. For as long as I can remember, mom has been hosting meetings for the Bataan Association, an organization of Filipino-Americans who emigrated from the historic province of Bataan to the Tri-State area. An academic would call them a diaspora community, a group of people from one land – now in another – keeping their ties alive in their new home.

I grew up calling these people, many of my mother’s closest friends and confidants, “tita” or “tito” — tagalog for “auntie” or “uncle.” Through the years, they have cared for me, showed me unconditional support and affection, and, without even realizing it, these amazing men and women have taught me so much about what it means to be Filipino, to be American, and to be a responsible citizen of this world.

Through action, my mother, titas, and titos showed me that true citizenship is not demonstrated simply by providing and caring for your family, working hard, abiding by law, paying taxes and voting. It’s not enough to just move along through life as if it were a self-containing bubble. You’ve got to utilize your powers, talents, abilities to affect change, to help those in need, to leave this world better than when you first came.

I have never been able to separate what I do in life from this responsibility. I yearn to be part of something larger than myself. That’s what the men and women of the Bataan Association and Foundation stand for. They instilled these values, this passion for contributing, in me. I want to help because, to them, helping has never been an option. It is necessity. It is duty.

I’m so proud to be part of the Bataan Association and Foundation, and I can’t wait to help realize the potential that this charity undoubtedly has to change lives in the Philippines. I want to start preparing the Foundation for success in applying for large grants. I want to visit the Bataan scholars we send to college and share their stories with our donors. I want to meet with the regional hospital administrators to assess any major needs. I want to host a yearly medical mission for primary and dental care. I want to create a memorial scholarship in the name of our late founder to send a student from Bataan to medical school.

There is so much we can do. It’s been a slow start, but I’m ready to give more. It’s overwhelming, and I hardly have the time now, but I can’t sit by with all of these ideas, and let the opportunity to do something — anything — slip by. I’ve got to act.

the truth about physics.

September 14, 2010 § Leave a comment

“Solving problems of any kind, whether physics or social, requires practice.”

Tell it like it is, physics textbook. Tell it like it is.


state of the union

June 10, 2010 § 2 Comments

Remember what Yeats said when Ireland was coming apart in the beginning of the 20th century:  “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are filled with passionate intensity.”

words from an unknown wise man

May 13, 2010 § Leave a comment

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go and do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

— From a friend of a good friend.


April 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

get off your ass.


be bold.

March 28, 2010 § 1 Comment

I know what I want.  I won’t pretend like I’ve got my career figured out, but I do know what certain parts of my life equation can be.

For one, I want to always write.  I realize that I can always write.  It’s something that has been mine since forever, and I will never lose my passion for it.  I can pen my thoughts and hope someone listens, but I will never stop — no matter what I end up doing in life.  And whether I quit my day job as a writer, my quill will still be the lens by which I view the world for all my time.

Secondly, I am going to heal people.  I say this with a new sense of vigor and authority, because I am on the road now.  I may have taken just a tiny first step in a long and winding path, but that first step is momentous.  That first step is an act of true boldness and defiance of the status quo.  And for the first time in a long time, I am nothing close to complacent; I am dynamic.

Until now, my dreams were just dreams; in this moment, they are also goals. They are tangible — it’s like, if I could reach far enough, I could touch these dreams.  They are mine to mold, and shape and reshape again.  And, in the beauty of all that is going to happen, the most satisfying part of all this right now is that I’m doing something about those dreams.

I am building my own world now, and I am in love with the future.


March 14, 2010 § Leave a comment

There is nothing great about limbo.

I am in between worlds right now, struggling to get out of one and into another, and I can’t seem to find a place for myself to rest peacefully in purgatory.  So, I do all that I can do: wait.

I know a lot of you know what this feels like.  So many of us are in a dynamic time of our lives.  A time when we question where we are and a time when we forge paths for our tomorrows.  But once we do all we can to prepare the road for walking, we’ve got to wait until we hear that fateful decision. On a piece of paper. In the mail. Which is slow.

It’s enough to go insane.  Thankfully, I’ve been spending most of this month away from home because my mother is in the Philippines.  While I miss my mother terribly, it’s worked out pretty well.  Staying in New York all month has forced me to keep busy and to stay away from constantly checking my mailbox for answers, for relief, for the green light on all the plans I’ve thought up.

Until then, this waiting period seems so stagnant, and I loathe that feeling.  It’s as if I’m at the edge of a precipice, and I’ve got my parachute ready to go.  I’m basically leaning over the cliff, ready to fly, but I’ve got a cord stuck on something behind me. Well, that’s exactly it I guess.  I’m stuck on something that I’ve already moved beyond, and I’m just waiting for the right time to press forward and free myself.

All the while, the complacency feels like betrayal to me. It feels wrong. It feels dirty.  It’s like walking through mud or seeing with dirty eyeglasses. It’s like stifling heat.  It’s uncomfortable for me, but I just have to wait out the pain.  Do the best that I can in purgatory.  And work hard to make myself worthy of leaving it.

Because change is coming.


December 14, 2009 § Leave a comment

I’m trying to translate the future into words. I’m trying to say, within a painful 500-word limitation, what I’ve learned about myself in the last 23 years, and how those experiences have transformed how I see the next 23.

I can’t exactly pinpoint the moment I knew I wanted to be a doctor, but I want to tell you why I do.  I want to tell you why I would be great at it. But I’m hesitant to commit to any one message because I could miss another point, and I’m so afraid of saying it all out loud, of putting it into words.  For me, the action of turning thoughts into words has always been a method of realization — in this case, of making something real. Now, before me, there is this question, and I am not ready to give a final answer, because writing “it” makes it real, and I don’t yet know what “it” will be.  And I might never fully know why I want and why I could.  I just know that I want this and I can do this.

I don’t mean to say that I’m afraid of jumping in and making this my reality. I am taking the leap of faith, but I feel so weighed down when I try to qualify my wants and my possible contributions to this field. I feel that, with every word, I might miss the real point.  I might fall one sentence short of illustrating who I am and what I’m capable of.  And I don’t want to make this real without doing it right, without doing myself justice.

As I grow older, I might change the way I do things; I might feel differently about medicine; and I might contribute in a way I had not foreseen.  But I do know that I want to contribute, and I know that my impact on individual lives can be immense as a doctor.  I know that my life’s calling is to serve others, to leave this world better, to do my mother proud.  And I would try every day.  I’d never forget what civic duty means to me, I’d never give less than what people deserve, and I’d demonstrate commitment and compassion in everything I do.  I will be a great doctor.

In my life, I have always felt pressured by the words I lay in ink, because making it real is like making a promise.  But this time, the promise has already been made.  This time, I am pressured to create words that will live up to my name and to the person I will someday become. This time, the words have to be good enough for me.

a reason to do good.

December 11, 2009 § Leave a comment

“The only real nation is humanity.”

— Dr. Paul Farmer

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