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Monday, November 19, 2012

Urgent Financial Help Needed for Kidney Transplant

Many say that compared to other countries, the cost of kidney transplantation in the Philippines is cheaper. But for me, it is still very expensive. As early as the screening phase, the cost of the tests is like that of having one major surgery.

Tissue typing, Panel reactive antibody and tests for CMV and EBV is already very heavy on the pocket. That is why I thank my cash donors for their generosity as their donations really helped. There are still other tests to be done. And there are also tests for the donor like tissue typing and crossmatching among many others.

PHILHEALTH will really be a ray of sunshine for patients like me though. One thing I have to share is that there is this P600,000 Z package of Philhealth which can be availed for the meantime in only selected government hospitals. In Cebu, one can avail of this package at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center. Included in the said package are payment for hospital services such as hospital room and board meds and laboratory exams, operating room and professional fees for the entire course of treatment, including mandatory and other services required per illness. But one must qualify for the said package and I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Despite Philhealth, the cost still is very high since the Z package is good only for 1 year of posttransplant medications. I have to think of the anti-rejection meds. And I will have a nephrectomy prior to the transplant which will cost me even more.

The usual kidney transplant in the country based on my research is about 3 million pesos. Unfortunately, my salary as a teacher is not enough. 

And so now I humbly appeal to my Facebook friends, colleagues, former students, online and offline friends to help me have a second chance in life. I wish to continue molding future medical doctors. I wish to continue educating through my blogs. I want to see my students graduate and become successful physicians. I still want to see my dog wagging his tail with excitement when he sees me. I still want to come home to my wife. 

My creatinine is already too high and the sooner I have the surgery, the better the chances of success. My family just can't raise 3 million without others' help. 

1) You may send your cash donations to:
Account name: IVY MATA TAPIA
BPI Savings Account: 1026 9288 02
General Maxilom Avenue, Cebu City branch


2) Donate securely through Doc Buboy's fundraiser at

or you can

3) Send funds securely online via Paypal and address your donation to:

or you can find the DONATE button via Paypal in this blog on the left sidebar.

Thank you very much.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Thankful and hopeful

With the schedule of AV fistula creation nearing (with stress balls in hand), I thought to myself, "This is it. This will be the start of a new journey...beginning with a series of hemodialysis in the upcoming months." I know it will not be an easy one. For one, I saw my mother and my relatives before me go to this difficult process. Number 2, I know management of PKD is an expensive one, especially dialysis, transplant and post-transplant.

Because of the anticipated expenses, me and my wife has started a kidney transplant fund anchored on a Transplant Fund Facebook Page, and a Youcaring fundraising website. Instructions on the ways to donate as well as the form for contributions are found in this Google document.

God is so good to me.

I have one possible kidney donor so far and tests are to be done.

I can feel the support of friends and family and their support has kept me going. I am very grateful for their facebook shares also.

My creatinine is really high but at least I can still be functional with no edema or difficulty in breathing although I was already admitted for pancreatitis which was a very painful experience.

I have a wife who is always there for me even through these tough times. I don't know if I can bear all these without her.

Because of the support of God, family and friends, I have high hopes of the days ahead...that I have many years ahead of me doing what I love: mentoring future physicians, medical technologists, and researchers. Hanging out with the "unlikeliest" of buddies-- my blogger friends during events, speaking in front of a young crowd, singing my compositions, having a nice walk with my dog and enjoying the company of my wife.

Please do continue to be with me in this journey.
P.S. Thanks to my medical school classmates abroad...Karen, Evelyn, Steffan and Lizette, Rhea and my batchmates here in the Philippines particularly those based in CIM and in Cebu; my blogger friends (can't name them all), JP, MD who were among the first who responded to the online fundraiser. I can't thank all who agve me support this week.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Preparing for the Inevitable

It's kinda tough when the kidneys start failing. Different blood tests have to be monitored as some of them may go up and down. Uric acid, creatinine, sodium, potassium, calcium, albumin, etc.

I just had my regular checkup and blood tests and my nephrologist noted that I am noticeably getting thinner even though my appetite is still good. Ultrasound revealed the biggest cysts have gone really bigger. My PKD is in "full bloom" I suppose.

But hey, I am still continuing with my advocacies. Last week I had a talk with some youth leaders regarding responsible use of social media and this Saturday, I plan to attend a bloggers' meetup this weekend. I don't expect though to be as active as before in my blogger activities in the coming days.

I am preparing to undergo a procedure to have vascular access for expected hemodialysis to clean up my system. I have started reading about AV fistula or vascular access for hemodialysis. Prior to the expected procedure, my prothrombin time will be checked. Just to be sure I have enough vitamin K especially with me on prophylactic antibiotics, I was prescribed menadione tablets. Of course, there's the usual medications like iron, calcium supplements, bicarbonate, antihypertensive meds. I will being seeing a surgeon for this procedure in the days to come. As you well know, I am also looking for a living kidney donor.

I really hope that despite of the procedures I will go through, I can still pursue my passion for educating the youth regarding social media and health through blogging and speaking engagements in the same way as before. I am also hopeful that I can still finish my other masters degree with the help of an open university.

As I enter into the difficult parts of my condition, I appreciate prayers and support.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Searching for a Living Kidney Donor

With my creatinine already at its highest in years, the point has come when I was advised for hemodialysis and kidney transplant. Kidney transplant appears to be the best choice at a relatively young age of 39 and in the absence of stroke and cardiovascular problems. The transplant will most likely be done in Cebu, Philippines.

And so my search for a living kidney donor has started. I cannot already count on my relatives on the mother's side since polycystic kidney disease came from the genes of my mother. To recall I have Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease. That leaves me with my relatives from my father's side as the best choice of living related donors (related by blood within the fourth degree of consangunity.) By the way, my blood type is B+.

The Philippine DOH Administrative Order 2010-0018 also allows for directed voluntary donors (-Those who are not related by blood to the recipient but bear close emotional ties with the recipient. (e.g., spouses, relatives by affinity, friends, employers/employees of long standing, Colleagues, fiancĂ© /fiancĂ©e and adoptive parents or children) when it is found to be voluntary and truly altruistic.

So yes, those within the Philippines other than my relatives may also donate.

Of course potential donors shall be without health problems like high blood pressure, diabetes, substance abuse, heart disease, psychiatric illness, lung disease, cancer, impaired kidney function, hepatitis B or C infection and HIV. Donor must also be a non-smoker. He or she must be above age 18.

I understand it is not an easy decision for donors and many feel uncomfortable with this. Some of the questions potential donors ask are the following (with answers):

  • Will donation affect future pregnancy or fathering a child? The answer is NO based on literature.
  • Is a donor more likely to develop kidney disease? The answer again is NO. They are no different than the general population. Of course donors should have a healthy lifestyle eating the proper diet, exercising among others. From what I know, he or she should refrain from contact sports like karate, football and boxing, etc.
  • There is no change in life expectancy for a kidney donor based on current research.
  • The risk of donating kidneys is similar to those undergoing major surgery.
I am hoping that all will go well and the search will not last long. This blog has a contact page should you wish to contact me. 

I thank those who are praying for me and supporting me in any way they can. May God bless them hundredfold.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Day I experienced Pancreatitis for myself

Last night, I wasn't able to sleep because of abdominal pain. It was steady, dull, unrelenting. This persisted in the morning even with me taking Tramadol orally. I can't help but shout in pain as I was in the ER.

IV tramadol was given and from a pain score of 10, I was able to tolerate the pain. Lab tests were taken. Ultrasound, xray, ECG too. A few hours later, results came out revealing that I may have pancreatitis. "So this is how pancreatitis is!"

Good thing I went to the ER. I was contemplating on staying at home only. I thank God, he helped me decide to go to the ER. Now I take nothing orally. Mediations are coursed through the IV line.

Now i have several crosses to bear including PKD and now pancreatitis.

Father, If It Is Your Will, Take This Cup Away From Me; Nevertheless Not My Will, But Yours, Be Done." (Luke 22:42)

I take comfort in the fact that many friends and relatives wished that I get well soon. Thank you and continue to pray for me.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

31 years, still hoping for a PKD cure

Exactly 31 years ago, I was with my mom when she breathed her last in a hospital. It was a day after Mama Mary's birthday. She was 39 years old then. I was a kid then who did not fully understand what happened to her. What I know was that she was extremely sick and she had bad kidneys. "Sakit sa bato" was what the family knew then.

Fast forward to the present. Now I know what my mom had was polycystic kidney disease. I am now 39 years old. My family and I went through many challenges, but I am not losing hope.

There is the PKD Foundation "promoting programs of research, advocacy, education, support and awareness in order to discover treatments and a cure for Polycystic Kidney Disease..."  Researches and clinical trials are underway or are ongoing. Tolvaptan, Everolimus, Bosutinib and even water are some of the agents being studied. Many people are becoming aware about PKD although not so much in my country.

So like what my blog's name says, "Even with PKD, Life Goes On". I go on with my life. I am finishing a research undertaking (not related to PKD), I continue to be a teacher to my students and I blog. I continue to do the things I love to do just as my mom did when she was still able. My mom served as my inspiration. Correction. She still continues to be an inspiration even 31 years after her early demise.

Even when she was already losing weight and weak, she was personally present in my sister's graduation. She continued to be a hands-on mother to us all even when she was not feeling well. She made sure she was there to supervise my homework, joined me in fieldtrips, fetch me from school, prepared my baon. She loved what she does and she did not let PKD stop her.

PKD won't stop me either. I know there is hope for a cure. It's out there. And even if I may not be able to avail it, I just hope I can inspire others with PKD as my mom did more than 31 years ago.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

How Google can help students (and teachers)

This generation is what is known as the Net Generation. Gadgets and the internet are commonplace. Even toddlers know how to use the tablet, the desktop, laptops and the netbooks.

Learning nowadays involves more of collaboration, critical thinking, communication, analyzing information, problem solving, creativity and innovation unlike in the past when the trend was listening to lectures.

There are still some who express concern over the use by the youth of technology in education. But with the changes in how this generation makes use of technology in learning, eventually they will still get their hands on the gadgets and on the internet. And so for me, it's better instead to teach than to ban. Technology can really be useful you know. And one common tool that probably every student sees every time he logs in the net that can be used in education but perhaps does not realize it yet is...GOOGLE.

Here are some of the ways Google can help a student with his studies:

  1. Google mail - for communication purposes, it is student-friendly as emails of the same topic are grouped together so one can really follow the conversation. Attached documents can be converted to Google Docs.
  2. Google Docs - perfect for collaboration. Students working as a group on a project and research paper can edit their documents in realtime, insert comments, and talk about their project thru chat. Online survey forms can also be made as well as databases for brainstorming. Teachers can also be part of the conversation, making corrections and comments without the need for downloading documents or files that stays in one computer. Of course Google Docs comes with enough storage for these uploaded files.
  3. Google plus - if one is not satisfied with chatting, Google plus can host hangouts where up to ten people can join including the host. Or one can decide to do hangout on air and let many others tune in to the conversation, lecture or discussion. Participants can see each other through the camera and may also have view of presentation or files by the host which can be shared by share screen feature. Meetings within school organizations for planning activities can be made online also in case it will hard to be physically present in a certain venue on a certain day. Google plus can also be used as a showcase of one's portfolio or credentials via the profile page which may be useful later when applying for a job.
  4. Of course, there are many others like Google Calendar and Youtube which may also be useful for students as a reminder for activities and for visual learning.  Teachers can use Youtube as a teaching tool too by making their own teaching videos and uploading them to their channels..
You belong to the Net generation, right? Then explore these online tools now and head on to your Google accounts and learn by discovery.

And oh by the way, all of these are free.

You can also opt to go to Google in Education and know more about what Google can do for students and even teachers. They also have tutorials there on how to use these tools.

And while you are there, include me in your circles.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Trans Cebu or BRT Cebu, the Future of Transport iin Cebu

Everyday in the streets, one cannot help but get annoyed at undisciplined drivers loading and disembarking passengers in pedestrian crossings or just about anywhere.

Some public utility vehicles or jeepneys take too long in taking in passengers. Some would wait for the seats to be filled. When one is in a hurry, one could lose patience experiencing this.

There are also too many vehicles in the streets of Cebu City already. I learned that BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) might help provide a solution.

I got the chance to listen to an orientation regarding BRT by consultant Colin Brader in relation to my city's transport system and the buses in Singapore come to mind. Like the buses there, the mode of payment will be a card pre-loaded with a certain amount. The card will be tapped to a sensor that will charge the amount of the fare which by 2015  is estimated to be around nine pesos.

The bus loads and unloads passengers in a station located in the middle of the street. The station may be reached through what I call "staggered" pedestrian lanes. Let me show pictures.

See the pedestrian walkways?

This design is believed to be optimal so as not to obstruct the path of other vehicles and with this adjustments would have to be made with the lanes and which lanes certain vehicles will be in.

The buses will stop for about 30 minutes for loading and unloading then takes off. No more waiting for the bus to be filled to capacity and travel time will be reduced.

The routes will be mainly within Cebu City.
BRT is also being implemented in Jakarta, Bogota and Guangzhou, China.

With an estimated vehicle fleet of 180, some jeepney drivers may be displaced from their jobs as the jeepneys will be replaced by BRT. But BRT is said to provide employment opportunities to some of them as jobs aside from driving will be generated. These jobs, including driving the buses will be like the regular-paying jobs which offer benefits and regular salaries.

The BRT will be known as Trans Cebu once it is put in place and it will involve computerization as traffic and the routes will be monitored. Expect street modifications if this is to be implemented.

For example, one side of Fuente Osmena will be freed from the usual public utility vehicles as the other side will only be used. This will allow people on the "free" side to safely cross the street towards the center park across Rajah Park Hotel.

So what do you think of BRT Cebu or TransCebu?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

June Aspin Day 2012: Dogs' Day Out in the Plaza

The Aspins or Asong Pinoy or our home-grown dogs got a special day of their own today in the form of the June Aspin Day, thanks to Island Rescue Organizaton (IRO) and its partner organizations, groups as well as the City Veterinary Office.

Many proud dog stewards or owners brought their Aspins, big and small, to Plaza Independencia earlier this Sunday morning (June 24) to have their pets registered, checked up, vaccinated, dewormed, receive treats as well as interact with other aspins. Some of the dogs get to show their tricks, their costumes and their good looks.

IRO booth with some of their officers
It was great to see man's best friend enjoy the park with their masters. Unfortunately though the grass area of the park was off limits to both man and dogs following the plaza's guideline.

The Aspins included IRO's rescued dogs Otap and JY.

Otap was enjoying his day out in the park while JY was kind of stressed but slowly warmed up as time passed. This is already a big achievement for both of them especially JY who was badly injured after being hit by a vehicle prior to his rescue.

They may be Aspins but the dogs were all beautiful and well taken cared of.

It was difficult to pick the best looking dog among these. I would say that all the owners should be given medals for taking good care of their pets.

I commend the organizers for putting up this event. It raises awareness of responsible pet ownership, the importance of rabies vaccination and in a way, it pays tribute to our very loyal companions including the aspins who really deserve to be pampered and showered with love.

I hope June Aspin Day will continue to be celebrated and I am also hoping that more organizations and companies will support this as well as the initiatives and other activities of IRO.

IRO is nonprofit animal rescue organization based in the province of Cebu. For more info visit their website at

Saturday, May 19, 2012

My Fit Fil Cebu Camp Experience (So Far)

Last time, I mentioned I joined the Fit Filipino or Fit Fil Cebu camp of Coach Joe Saret in Ayala Center Cebu. I was told that it was unlike the usual fitness camps but I had to see or experience it for myself.

Attending 2 sessions so far, I could say this: Guys, all that was said about the camp is true.

It is really unique. Imagine, just 4-minute workouts! Sounds easy, right? Nah!

The camp is like a scene coming straight from a soldier movie. It is like one is being trained to be a soldier. It brought memories of past CAT or ROTC trainings. The feeling is just like that. "Dah! Ngano ni enter?" "Bakit ako?" "Lord, ano nagawa ko?" "Ayoko na!" People are saying this things...laughing! It is one activity that you complain too much but you do not want to actually miss. Many complain of soreness and yet they are willing to subject themselves to the challenging exercises. That's Fit Fil.

We, Cebuanos are really lucky to experience this first.

So what exactly do we do during the camp?

Well, one is the 4-minute workout composed of cycles of 10 counts jumping jack, 10 counts squats, another 10 for push-ups and another 10 for lunges which are repeated until 4 minutes is reached. Believe me, as time passes, execution becomes more difficult. However, one can feel the different muscle groups at work, becoming sore afterwards.

There is also the Cabinta workout in Day 2 with the most difficult part for me personally, being the planking which effects can really be felt in the abdominal muscles.

The camp is complete with nutritionists to give advice and plan a participant's individual diet and a drinking station. There is also circuit training where groups shift from one activity to another in sequence.

It is a fun workout and I believe the camp uses the right strategy motivating its participants. It really helps to have a team that trains with you, a coach that constantly reminds and motivates its members and varying activities that counter boredom. The camp really gives one the feel of being part of a Biggest Loser show.

I am lucky also to gain new friends and be part of the CeBOOM Hazelers Team under Big Loser Philippines alumnus Hazel Chua's wing. The team is serious in sustaining the initial steps in this camp that it came up with a Facebook group even to act as a support group hopefully even after the camp.

For Fit Fil Cebu CeBOOM Hazelers team, just visit this CeBOOM Hazelers Facebook Group then join the group.

Special thanks to Ayala Center Cebu and Nestle Wellness along with the other sponsors. Oops! I forgot....I have to sleep for not less than 7 hours. I have to stop writing this post already.

See you for the weigh-in!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The success that was Startup Weekend Cebu 2012

I was there. I am proud I was in the midst of it all. I participated in the recently concluded Startup Weekend Cebu last May 11 to 13 at The UP Cebu. Yeah!

Coming to the Startup Weekend, I have little idea what actually happens in a startup weekend. I attended Pre Startup Bootcamps, made some mock pitches and listened to the experts. But it is really different to experience the real thing and I was glad to experience it, not as a media observer but as a participant myself.

Well, I shed one thousand pesos but what I got back was way beyond that particular value.
The organizers

There were several interesting pitches. "WaitNoMore" aims to eliminate having to go through long lines waiting for your number to be called.  "", an app that will tell you what you can cook based on the ingredients you have on your kitchen pantry. "DeadOpen", a way to attain closure of your digital life because it emails your chosen loved one your various passwords upon your death.

And of course the team where I eventually joined, the "MyEatinerary", an app that will tell you what and where to eat with the budget that you have.

The participants then gave selected their favorite pitches represented by the name of the planned app or website pasted on the Idea Board.

There were so many participants looking for teams. Team leaders shouting their need for developers, designers, etc. Teams were formed and plan for action made. Our group was divided into a subteam. I became head of the Content Team, being a blogger.

The next day, teams were so busy doing their own assignments. It was so nice seeing everyone working together for a common goal. You can feel the team spirit, the competitive edge, the creativity, the meeting of minds, the sharing of talents, the brotherhood. It was so amazing to watch it unfold before your very eyes.

So this is how it feels to be in a startup weekend. Computer programmers in action, conferring with teammates. Apps slowly taking shape. While we in the non-tech side provide the content with some design inputs.

Day 2 was tiring but fun. Teams are preparing for possible launch of their respective apps the next day. I did not realize an app prototype can be made in such a short time. Suspense was in the air. Mentors were going around giving very useful advice and these are people who are actually the icons of technology and business.

The final day... Team leaders are now starting to prepare for their presentations. They were rehearsing their pitches. The other members were putting the final touches into their prototype. I made our team's Facebook page and blog post and monitoring the views and likes. This is it!

By midday, a lot of the prototypes were going live already, including ours. Amazing what a true team passionate about something can do in such a short time! I am finally a part of a team that created an app! Never in my dreams did I imagine that.

Towards the evening, the final pitches were made and it was nice to see the finished products. Good job to all the teams!

Team WaitNoMore won 1st place and the idea belonged to a student of my college alma mater.

Our team did not win but I did not feel sad. Why? Because at the end of the event, we are going to continue what we started. We are now a real Startup!

Here is a screenshot of our app!
And more importantly, I won new friends -- Drew Shobbrook, Steven Lava (MyEatinerary was his idea), Faey Szew Abella, Ryzza Mancio, Ardee Aram, sisters Yen and Charisse Dirain, Dan Mortalla, Nico Enego, Kevin de Jesus, Junix Villacorta, Giovanni Hermoso and Jun Rey Beduya.

Now that's what you call SUCCESS!

Cheers to the Startup Weekend Cebu organizers!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Celebrating World Bloggers' Day: Why it's more fun in blogging and social media

It's true. It's more fun in blogging and social media.

When I just learned about my polycystic kidney disease (PKD) -- when I was just newly-diagnosed, I was often depressed. But blogging and social media changed that.

When I joined blogging, I met new friends outside my usual circle. They were not medically-oriented people. They were mostly younger than me. And they turned out to be friends worth keeping. It's ironic that an online activity such as blogging has led me to having more friends offline. Money opportunities came. Learning opportunities as well.

I learned more of social media thru blogging. I was able to use Facebook and Twitter for my advocacies. Socil media has helped manage my class. With blogging and social media, I was able to attend events I was not able to attend when I was not yet a blogger.

I became more familiar with the places to go, the nice food to eat, the hotels to stay on, the nice cell phones. The experience was indeed fun yet educational. Heck I was forgetting already that I have this PKD.

Together with maintenance medications and lifestyle modifications, my venture into blogging and social media coincided with the period that I have relative lesser complaints regarding my PKD.

So, yes it's more fun in blogging and social media.

And even if blogging and social media can be made into an alternative source of income, I make it a point to remember not to lose the fun part of blogging and social media.

As the world celebrates World Bloggers' Day 2012, let's have fun. Let us celebrate being a blogger. For once, let us forget the serious stuff even for a day and enjoy the moment.

We at Cebu Bloggers Society will be celebrating this day culminated by a General Assembly on May 5 at the a Cebu business hotel where we will rekindle friendship and camaraderie with other members and meet new ones. This will be followed by an afterparty at the Amnezia Super Club for a night of dancing and singing.

Join us online on May 2. Share, tweet, pin and show the world why there's more fun in blogging and social media. Drop by and say hi in the World Bloggers Day Official Fan Page, tweet at the Cebu Bloggers Society Twitter Page and make your online presence felt.

And to show your appreciation to your favorite blogs, nominate your favorite blogs NOW at Tatt Awards!

Happy World Bloggers' Day!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Thank you, Mom by Procter and Gamble

In a previous article, I gave a tribute to my mom. Incidentally, my brother was also involved in a nice project which also gave tribute to moms. It is in the form of a touching tribute to moms of Olympic athletes. As many of us know, the Olympics is near. These Olympic athletes have their moms to thank for.

Below is the said video. If you like it, kindly share the video or send a message of thanks to

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Reminder for Doctors during the Oath Taking of New Physicians April 2012

The following is the content of the response made during the Oath Taking of New Physicians (last April 1, 2012) by one of the incoming batch of physicians from Cebu who happens to be also a priest and a good friend of mine....Rev. Fr. and now Dr. Alfonso Suico, CSsR. 

One day, Peter and John went to the temple area to pray. There they were met by a crippled man who was begging. Peter said to the man, “Look at us.” The crippled beggar then raised his hand hoping to get alms. But Peter said, “We neither have gold nor silver but this do we have. In the name of Jesus Christ stand up and walk.” The beggar then stood up and walked.

To the distinguished members of the Board of Medicine, headed by Dr. Jose Cueto Jr., representatives from the PRC, officers of the PMA and CMS, parents and families of the new doctors, administrators and deans of the different medical institutions, our mentors from school and the review centers (esp. CDB), my confreres in the Redemptorists, my colleagues in the medical profession, friends, good evening.

It is with joy that we gather this evening for this oath taking ceremony. As what they say, this marks the end of a long and challenging education to the medical profession as it also marks the beginning of our lives as physicians. I stand here not on my own, but in the name of everyone who took the recent medical board exam in February 2012. For those who successfully passed the exam and those of our friends who tried and gave their very best but are not here. They too deserve our salutes for the best efforts they have shown. In a special way, we congratulate Dr. Jon Karl Velasco who successfully made it to the Top 2. To me he is a batch mate, a colleague and a friend. My sincerest congratulations to us all, especially after that difficult exam.

The task asked of me was to give a response. As I reflected on what I will share with you, I am reminded of that biblical pericope or passage I’ve mentioned earlier: the visit of Peter and John to the temple. You see, John and Peter came to the temple to pray. Both have been filled with the gifts of the Spirit yet coming to the temple now, they were met by a crippled man, a sick man. Having no gold nor silver, they shared the only thing they have – the gift to heal. Like Peter and John, we may not have gold nor silver but we have been given the capacity – the gift to heal. And it is this that we must share to others.

I often hear during graduation ceremonies and other occasions where there are speakers who would encourage their young listeners to go and achieve much in life. Go as high as you can. Excel in your careers. I believe that they are right of course. But to me, you can go as high and achieve and excel as much as you can but never must you compromise your moral principles. Medicine is not only a career, it’s not only a profession. First and foremost it is a vocation to serve. And to serve those who are in most need of care: the sick, the dying, the handicapped, the poor. It is a vocation to do our share in healing a broken world.

Many of us would watch TV shows about doctors: House, Grey’s Anatomy Nip/ Tuck, ER, Scrubs, when I was a kid there was Doogie Howser MD… but my earliest recollection of what a doctor is like was my mother. Before she had a stroke she was a physician. Instead of pursuing sub-specializations, she decided to go into government service. Even before she did so, I could still remember how we would be waken-up late at night because our neighbour’s child is sick, or somebody was terribly ill, she wouldn’t complain instead would get up and attend to their needs, even doing house calls at 3 o’clock in the morning to our neighbors who couldn’t afford even to buy paracetamol. Ever since I was a child, that was already the image of a physician that has stayed with me.

Each one of us may have his or her own image of what a doctor is like. Yet, regardless of what it is, let us always be reminded that we are there to serve others not just ourselves. As physicians we are called to heal persons not merely curing diseases. And I speak not only to us, new doctors, but I speak to all doctors who are here. 

This is the pledge that we are making today. This pledge which we say is not a mere formality, it is a promise and we do it knowing we have the capacity to do so in responding to its demands. Years from now, when many will have become specialists and successful in their own right, I pray that you will always bring this reminder with you. 

Lastly, our love and gratitude must be expressed to the persons who have helped us through medical school, internship and the board exams. To our parents and families, friends and sponsors, our schools, hospitals, residents, consultants, nurses, staff, friends in school and everyone we express our innermost, heartfelt gratitude. 

Personally I would like to thank my confreres, my alma mater – CIM and my friend and mentor Dr. Toom and my CDB family, as I dedicate this achievement to my family who are far away especially my sick mother who for me is the best doctor in the world. 

We may not have gold nor silver, but we have something we can share with others: our time, our talents, our abilities, ourselves. That way we may truly become instruments of healing a broken world.

Alfonso P. Suico, Jr. MD

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Trying to learn the Running Essentials with Skechers

Getting many invites for running events has inspired me to really engage myself into the running sport with my wife. Around three times a week, me and my wife run either in the Abellana Sports Complex oval or at the Fuente Osmena circle. Now I am beginning to really enjoy it. It is a good bonding moment for me and my wife and it is a good exercise that burns calories.

My next target now is to gradually increase my endurance so I could run at relatively longer distances. This March 25, we will be joining the Globe Run4Home, a run for charity and to prepare for that and future runs, I plan to attend a running "seminar" of sorts. You should, too.

This coming March 24, 2012, Skechers will be bringing over multi-awarded runner/ultra-marathoner Michelle Estuar to the Ayala Center Cebu Activity Center from 4::00 to 7:00 PM to teach aspiring runners in Cebu the RUNNING ESSENTIALS to improve the way newbie runners train to prepare for a run.

RUNNING ESSENTIALS, I was told, is part of Skechers Fitness' advocacy to promote Mid-Foot Strike, proper running techniques, and a healthy lifestyle. It will cover topics such as Stretching, Leg & Foot Technique, Hydration & Nutrition, and more. These are exactly the things me and my wife should learn about running.

Interested to join? Register now at 0905-3905883. This is for FREE

Come in your Running Attire and wear your running shoes. During the following day at the Globe Run4Home event, look for the Skechers booth because I think they will be offering something interesting that day.

I can't wait!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Greatness Starts @Home Indeed: A Tribute to Mom

I believe that experiences during childhood at home have a great impact in what one will become someday.

My mom died 30 years ago at a young age due to kidney failure when I was eight years old but she has a great influence on me until now.
My mom
She had Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD), a genetic disorder characterized by numerous cysts in both kidneys which may cause hematuria (blood in the urine) episodes of back pain, flank pain and abdominal pain. 
Polycystic Kidney (Figure courtesy of  NIDDK).

I was told by my father that when I was born, my mom had only one kidney left (after an operation removing the other one) which also had cysts. She frequently had fever and pain perhaps because of recurrent urinary tract infection. But despite the difficult condition she is in, all I can remember is her love and dedication to teaching her children, without any complaints.

Despite the pain and the stress she might be in, knowing she had "bad" kidneys, she was a hands-on mother to me. She accompanied me in field trips, brought me to school, sat me in her lap as she taught me the ABCs and the DoReMi's while assisting me in my homework. We also enjoyed watching Ernie and Bert at Sesame Street together.

Her efforts were not wasted. I was a consistent honor student during her time and even way past her demise, I was high school valedictorian and medical school scholar.

The image of her always by my side as a mother and a teacher at home lingered on.

Fast forward to the present...

I now have a Masters Degree in Health Professions Education which made me better equipped in my teaching profession.
UP Manila Chancellor Arcadio handing me my diploma for my Masters

Yes, I am now myself an educator and it all started at home. 

Following my mother who never got tired of teaching me at home, I became a medical doctor who loves to  guide future medical students despite also having PKD myself. 

I also educate my readers online spreading PKD and public health awareness as a blogger from the comforts of home.

Thanks to my mom, I appreciated the value of teaching early. Thanks to her, I got to love teaching.

And thanks to my mom, I now get to enjoy my greatest moment of achievement  --- witnessing the beginning of greatness of others, my former students as they become successful doctors.

And it all started with the greatness of someone at home --- MY MOM.

If you have a story to share regarding your greatest moment of achievement, then write a blog post about it and submit the link as a comment to the Greatness Starts@Home Blogging Contest Page by Globe Tattoo and get the chance to win great prizes including Samsung Champ phones and Samsung Galaxy Tabs. On the same page, details regarding the contest as well as the criteria for judging are indicated. Stories will be featured on the official Globe Tattoo Facebook page the day after submission. Contest will run from February 25 to March 17, 2012.  

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Search for Happiest Pinoy 2012 Goes to Cebu

What is very admirable about many Filipinos is that they still manage to smile despite adversity, calamities like Typhoon Sendong and earthquakes. These people remain to be optimistic despite trials. This cheerful, optimistic trait is what Polycystic kidney patients like me should possess.

It came as good news to me that a Filipino company promotes a unique advocacy of spreading a "Happy-demic".

Cebuana Lhullier Insurance Solutions, Inc. (CLIS) launched the Happiest Pinoy search which "seeks and recognizes the country's most optimistic and passionate Filipino who overcame difficulties and exhibited resilience amidst life's challenges without losing their cheerful attitude."

It is bringing this nationwide search to Cebu to give chance to Cebuanos to nominate also.

Any Filipino residing in the Philippines, of legal age and good moral character may be nominated.

Any Filipino of legal age may nominate. Any organization or group registered by the Securities and Exchange Commission may also nominate.

Nominations are still open until May 30, 2012.

There are online nomination forms which can be downloaded, accomplished then uploaded back to

Accomplished forms may also be sent to Cebuana Lhullier Insurance Solutions Head Office, 821A Spring corner J. P. Rizal Streets, Makati City.

Criteria for selecting the Happiest Pinoy include:

  • A constantly cheerful face and optimistic outlook
  • Proven ability to rise above life's challenges.
  • Positive impact on the lives of others.
The grand winner will receive P250,000 tax-free and a trophy. The nine runners-up will receive P25,000 (tax-free) each aside from a trophy.

For more information, follow Happiest Pinoy in Facebook, Twitter, and in their website and submit your nominations.

Spread the Happy-demic. And smile despite the challenges of having PKD!

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Gift of Time

by Henry L. Yu, M.D.

One of the things that we are equal with any Pepe or Pilar or Nena is the Gift of Time - a time to be born, to grow, to make friends, to be happy, to get hurt, to love, to give life, to serve, to have a family, to be old, gray, weary and sickly, and a time to come back home to our Creator one day. Someday. As one author would put it, "To live is to go on a journey, to die is to come back home."
In our lifetime, we travel through life's many journeys, either alone or in the company of friends and loved ones. Some journeys may be smooth sailing, with less air pocket as we fly high, while other roads may be too rough thus making us stumble and fall.
As human beings, we have our own stories to tell and our personal histories to share - our past and our present. Each to his own. We know our past because we've been there. We have lived it. We know our present because we are living in it now. But the future is something we are not familiar with it as it is yet to come. What it will bring, we don't know exactly. Only God has the key and the answers. In His Time.
Yesterday... Everybody was rejoicing and welcoming a newborn baby that was us. We were given a name. We went to school and made friends out of the many classmates we have. We learned our lessons. We graduated. Then we applied for work and got employed. We worked, earned, and saved. We got married and have a family of our own.
Today... We have become parents who have to work, earn, and save for our children's basic needs (food, clothing, shelter, education, among others), the same things our very own parents went through when we were young. Today, we have friends who readily stand for and by us through thick and thin. We have neighbors who share with us life's agony and ecstasy so much so that they have become like family to us.
Tomorrow... We have yet to know. It is the future that will still have to come and to happen. Will it be as wonderful as yesterday or as beautiful as today? Will tomorrow be filled with sorrow? Will it be raining in our hearts?
Come what may, no matter what, the fact remains: Life continues as we travel its many journeys, along with the many lessons to learn from, people to meet, adventures to experience, challenges to face, and the many more things to do in a lifetime.
Yesterday was a time. Today is. Tomorrow will be. All these are God's gifts to us. Let us rejoice and be glad for the gift of time.

Friday, January 20, 2012

New home soon for the elderly in Missionaries of the Poor Pasil

Last December, me and my wife together with other members of the Cebu Bloggers Society visited the Missionaries of the Poor (MOP) in Sawang Calero, Pasil, Cebu City where children with special needs and some elderly where housed. The MOP Center dubbed as the Little Lamb Center originally was for the said kids but with many homeless elderly also coming in, the MOP also started to accommodate them in a make-shift home.

Well, good news.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Skechers Go Run Running Shoe introduced to Cebu

Skechers Philippines is currently one of the sponsors of the Cebu City Marathon. In connection to this, they recently introduce to Cebu their latest fitness shoe product for running, the GoRun Minimalist Running shoe. Check the slideshow below for the trendy look.

I got to try the shoes for myself and they were really light weight, with enough space for toes to be able to move with running. It looks durable and you won't really feel like your wearing a shoe at all.  The design of the shoe makes the wearer run properly in a mid-foot strike. It is said to be perfect for long runs and is used by Meb Keflezighi, Elite Marathon Runner, known as the fastest American in the NYC Marathon.

Check their website for more details.


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