June 2003 Vol. 3 Issue 7

An Internet Newsletter publication for all CIM Alumni and friends.

    Clem S. Estrera, Jr., M.D.

    Ma. Belen Rosales, M.D.
        Associate Editor

     Ray Castillejo, M.D.
    Binisaya Section Editor

Newsletter Contributors :

Clem S. Estrera, Jr.
    Class 1972

Ma. Belen F. Rosales
     Class 1970

Hector Vamenta
    Class 1972

Fathers are fantastic!

Happy Fathers' Day!

Editor's Column

       "Time is like a river made of events that happen....as soon as a thing has appeared it is carried away, and another comes in its place..." ---Marcus Aurelius

Let's Unwind

Clem 1972

Once again, the journey
     One of the main reasons why I love to see every one in our alumni reunion is because it's a clear indication that we value ourselves not just as individual members, but as an alumni association - a group of human beings who love to spend our time together more than miss each other for the time we are apart. I believe that to most if not all of us, just by being together in our reunion is worth it. It gives us the feeling that we deserve to live to have some fun - that despite the struggling and the striving, work, work and more work for the rest of the year, life is worth living for.

     Our reunion gives us something besides ourselves to think about, reminds us that there is love for life in every one of us, that despite our differences, it is our nature to come, celebrate, share and have some fun together. We value our friendship and fellowship more than our petty pride and differences. We haven't allowed whatever rift or conflict and whatever misunderstanding that may have penetrated and punctured our ego, to build its nest in our subconscious and keep us away from our yearly gathering.

     Even if perhaps the lingering unpleasant effect of our disagreement and disappointment in the past still disturbs us, we don't allow it to stand in our way. Nevertheless to be a part of our alumni celebration is too strong a force to resist. It simply draws us together like a magnet to a nail. For our reunion gives us a sense of pride and elation of our alumni identity, a sense of belonging, like going back to our roots - to a journey of promise and joy - a journey toward recreating those days when there was so much life that has not been lived yet - toward reclaiming the feeling as though we are stepping into the twilight of the distant past when life was not taken seriously, and mischief and mistakes were routine sources of daily laugh - toward recovering our inner youth that we have lost along the way to our maturity - in order to learn to live again. Aah, Those Were The Days, My Friend, We Thought They'd Never End....

Life, shaken and stirred
     Life is an endless list of problems, plans, priorities and responsibilities. Believe me. It is fruitless to try to keep pace with such list. To do so, your speed of living will only be accelerating. And life doesn't stop for anyone of us to give us time to ponder over our problems, to moan over our postponed plans, to agonize over our mistakes and misfortunes, or to lick our wounds. We grow older every minute, every hour, everyday, every year. Times that make us feel happy are often fleeting. The warm glow and laughter we share and the lightness we feel with each other in our alumni reunion would pass by like any other event in our life. They are not like a match that struck to an eternal flame. But still, they give us something to cherish, something to help us unwind and slow down our life's acceleration.

     Tomorrow Never Dies, but nothing lasts forever. We can either let our problems, plans and priorities beat The Living Daylight out of us and kill us with bleeding ulcer, stroke, and heart attack, or we slow down, take a time-out, and have some fun in San Diego with our friends and fellow alumni, and maybe Die Another Day. No matter how hard we work to achieve all our desires, and no matter how convinced we are that Diamonds Are Forever and thus include them in our jewelry collection, if we continue to feel as if we never have enough, then The World Is Not Enough. So, For Your Eyes Only, take heed and Live And Let Die those disappointments and frustrations of not being able to keep pace with the demands of life. It's like playing poker and losing to Goldfinger. If you don't let go your disappointments and frustrations with him, you'd only get yourself killed. At the very least, they'll keep you awake and jolt you from your sleep like a Thunderball.

     Life itself doesn't last, and sometimes it's good for nothing. We work our ass out, or break our back simply living and meeting our family's needs particularly the demands of the conspiracy between kids and mortgages. But if we keep our focus on fulfilling our desires and therefore work and struggle all the time, we are likely to lose sight of the rest of our life. Whatever we do, whatever we have, whatever we want, it's usually not enough for us. Indeed it's never easy to bring balance into our lives. There are many events in our lives that intermittently send us to a whirlwind of tension and anxiety like being pursued by The Man With A Golden Gun. Often when the day is over, our batteries have run down. We come home exhausted. Then we make ourselves comfortable on our sofa, switch on the TV news channel only to have another dose of frustration seeing the stock market is being clobbered again. And the only ones getting rich are those suckers in Wall Street. Talk about frustrations.

     But life doesn't have to be a struggle. We don't have to suffer to be happy. So let's raise the Golden Eye and cast it toward San Diego, toward the prospect of the excitement of just being together with each other in order to delight in our shared laughter and relax on the ease of our casual chatter, and to recharge our batteries.

The name is Clem
     I don't know about you, but to me, our alumni reunion is like an enjoyable experience of riding your bicycle, exerting effort to climb a steep hill or a mountain so you can earn the refreshing breeze and relaxation as you descend. That's what I call - unwind! It's like having reached the top to have A View To A Kill. It gives me a high as if I'm piloting the Moonraker with The Spy Who Loved Me as my co-pilot and the sexy Octopussy is serving coffee. The passengers at the back are relaxing; some are closing their eyes listening to the song From Russia With Love, while others are enjoying the movie You Only Live Twice. I get a kick out of it. Don't you?

     So come on! Unshackle yourself from the busy schedules just for few days. Unload those excess baggage of worries, anxieties, anger, frustrations, etc. They are like blocks of cement tied to your ankles. The only difference is that, it's not the Mafia that does that to you. It's yourself. And the only consolation is that - you're not in the water yet! So, let's unwind and "Let's Get Wild in San Diego!"

     If you're one of those who got disappointed or disillusioned with our reunion or with our association itself in the past and swore never to attend our reunion again, why not attend this time? Just one time. That's all it takes. Our association is under a new management. We, the leaders, will not promise you a rose garden as the saying goes, but speaking for myself, I'm willing to bet that after attending our reunion this time, you are going to promise yourself by saying, "I'll Never Say Never Again!"

     By the way, I'm not On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Yes, I'm a doctor and I guess I have the License To Kill. But no, I'm not Dr. No. I'm Clem.

See you all in San Diego! July 16-20, 2003



Hector Vamenta, Class 1972

     Karong tuiga 2003, pagahimo-on ang tinuig nga panagtapok tali sa mga gradwado sa CIM adto sa San Diego, CA sa Hulyo 16-20. Mga gradwado nga maglangkob sa tanang klase sa nahisgutang tulungha-an mag-abot aron sa pagbag-o sa panaghigala-ay sa mga kanhi kauban sa klase nga sulod sa dugayng katuigan wa na magkakita, ug aron sad paghatag ug kahigayonan sa padayon nga pagbansay bansay sa natad sa siencia aron maka-angkon ug puntos ang mga mananambal alang sa pagpabag-o sa ilang mga licensya sa pagpanambal. Gawas ni-ini adunay mga gilaraw nga mga kalihukan sa paugnat sa kusog ug sosyal sama pananglit sa sangka sa dula nga golf, tennis, ug pag sayaw sa mga kanhi ug moderno nga mga sayaw nga pagahimo-on sa adlawng Sabado human sa formal nga salo-salo.

     Gipa-abot sa dakong kahinam sa mga gradwado sa CIM kining ma-ong hitabo tungod kay ma-o man lang kini ang bugtong pa-agi aron ang tanan makiglambigit sa mga kauban sa klase kanhi, aron paghandum ug paghanduraw sa mga nangaging panahon sa kabatan-on samtang nagtu-on pa pagkananambal ubos sa landong sa CIM. Nanghinaut ang mga tigpasiugda ni-ining ma-ong kalihukan nga ang matag tuig sa saring pagatambongan ug ubay-ubay nga mga sakop ni-ini isip ilang representante alang sa pagdugang sa kamaya sa kasaulogan.

    Giawhag ang bu-ot makighimamat sa isig ka gradwado sa CIM sa pag-adto sa San Diego aron matagamtam nila ang mainitong pagpakiglambigit sa usag usa. Way duda nga kining maong panagtipon makadalit ug tumang kalipay sa mga tumatambong, tungod sa labihan ka kadaghan nga gilaraw nga mga kalihukan. Mga pangutana kabahin ni-ini ipadangat ngadto kang Cle Estrera, Doming Ong ug Maida Antigua sulod sa CIM Website.


Lessons from the Iraq War

     "Islam is a religion in which God requires you to send your son to die for Him. Christianity is a faith in which God sent his Son to die for you." ---John Ashcroft interviewed by Cal Thomas

     If you're like me, you must have been awed by the American military might that toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in such a short period of time. By the way, my interest in this post war period is mainly in the important lessons we can learn from this war. How did the U.S., British and few Australian soldiers end this war so fast and so soon defied every conventional wisdom and pre-war predictions and analysis.

     If you were watching the war on TV, you must have noticed that the Air Force, Marine, Army, Navy and the British and the Australian soldiers were acting together in concert. It's like an orchestra. They played the same music and tune in rhyme, rhythm and harmony with each other. Anyhow, the fast advance of the coalition troops on the ground depended mainly on what is called close air support. With forward air controllers traveling with units on the ground, light armored divisions were able to take out heavier resistance more quickly and more effectively than in any previous war or conflict. This had answered the critics who thought more armored divisions would be necessary to make the advance on Baghdad.

    The war was indeed a "shock and awe." It was not just the journalists and installed retired military generals on TV that were surprised with the effectiveness of the U.S. war plan. Vladimir Putin from Russia was reported to be irate that his intelligence service was so completely wrong in its prediction of a prolonged war with heavy civilian casualties. During the initial days of the war, almost 90% of the Russians chose Iraq to win the war. The Russians predicted that the Americans would rely on a long bombing campaign in order to avoid combat casualties and thus would cause heavy civilian casualties. Then the world would have massive demonstrations everywhere against the U.S. and Britain. That did not happen to the disappointment of the Russians as well as those in many other countries like in the U.S. that thought the way the Russians did. Somehow many of the people all over the world seemed to fear and at the same time be wishing for Iraq to become another Vietnam for the U.S.

     The Israelis were awed that with the U.S. Air Force essentially acting as air born artillery, the Army's 3rd Infantry Division and 1st Marine Expeditionary Force were able to move faster, with much more lethality than anyone ever expected. Major General Dan Harel of the Israelis' military was quoted saying that the U.S. has "advanced in areas that we were leading in only a few years ago. They have the ability to put everything together in comand and control. Our navy and air force have systems, but we have to integrate them."

     Have you ever wondered how was it possible for the U.S. military to move and act in concert? It's made possible with what is called Wi-Fi, a wireless technology that allows mobile units to communicate to each other without the cumbersome wires. In fact, the only fully wired armored division in the U.S. Army didn't see any major combat.

     The 4th Infantry Division, based on Fort Hood Texas, is the Army's premiere technologically enabled fighting force. Wi-Fi is the backbone of this division. Using wireless technology, the entire 4th Infantry Division, from battle tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles to Humvees and helicopters is wired. That means every soldier about 30,000 of them and every piece of equipment about 14,000 pieces can be seen in a graphic real time picture on the monitors of what's going on the battlefield. There is no way the enemy can mount an attack and inflict heavy damage. In fact, the U.S. military were not only using precision-guided weapons, they were also using precision-guided insults. Pentagon officials told Newsweek that as American armored columns moved through Baghdad, Humvees with 400-watt speakers would occasionally blare out the messages that Iraqi men were impotent, at which point the irregulars abandoned well-defined positions or human shields. They ended up in a newly exposed position and got blasted. Ironically, they were saying that sticks and stones would break their bones, but words would never hurt them. They were wrong. Many of these Iraqi irregulars drove their pick-up trucks and cars, and rammed them into an Abram tank only to kill themselves, leaving the tank unscathed. They were like fleas trying to eat a dog.

    If there is something for us civilians to learn from this war, it is that this wireless technology is the way to go in the near future for every one, not just for the military. In fact, New York City has already put one or two of its reacreational parks with this kind of technology. Visitors can go to the park with a laptop computer and connect wireless to use the Internet. But at present, connecting Internet wireless is still limited to a certain distance, unlike cell phones in which you can connect global. Anyway, unless cable and phone companies develop or apply this technology for its Internet users, they are going to lose business.

     Another lesson to learn from this war was the psychological aspect. When we allow emotion to triumph over reason, and act on that emotion, we either hurt someone or hurt ourselves, or even get killed. Acting on emotions is like playing with thunderstorms, we'll only get hit by lightning. The Iraqi irregulars were upset of the insults hurled at them, and so, they acted on their anger and abandoned their well-defined position. They were struck not by lightning, but by bombs. Indeed word doesn't hurt you, but your reaction to it does. It is important for us to think, and not simply react.


    "A complete revaluation takes place in your physical and mental being when you've laughed and had some fun." ---Catherine Ponder

     A young married couple enjoyed a full sex life and she became accustomed to rewarding him between the sheets for any act of kindness. But he wanted to prove to her that he wanted her for more than just sex and so one day, on the spur of the moment, he bought her a huge bouquet of flowers.
     "They're lovely," she said before adding suspiciously, "I suppose now you'll expect me to spend the weekend on my back with my legs apart?"
    "Why?" said the husband, puzzled. "Haven't we got a vase?"


     A man adored baked beans but when he got married, he agreed to give them up because they gave him such terrible gas. However on his way home from work one evening, he caught the smell of baked beans wafting from a café and gave in to temptation. He ate three platefuls but was confident that he could get rid of all the gas on the 20-minute walk home.
    He arrived home, buttocks clenched, to find his wife waiting for him. "Darling, I've got a surprise for you tonight," she said. And with that, she put a blindfold on him, led him to his chair at the head of the dinner table and made him promise not to look. Just then the phone rang, and she went into the hallway to answer it.
    Sat on the chair, he couldn't hold his gas any longer. He could hear his wife's voice in the hallway, so he figured it was safe to let a few rip. He leaned on one way and then the other and released them like machine gun fire. They were loud and they stank. Then he lifted his right cheek up and released a veritable torpedo. The smell was so bad even he felt faint. He tried to wave the stench away with his hands and prayed that it would be gone by the time his wife returned. Finally she came back into the room, removed his blindfold and said "Surprise!" He opened his eyes to see 12 dinner guests seated around the table.


     A guy walked into a bar with a pet monkey. The monkey immediately snatched handfuls of olives, limes and peanuts and started eating them. Then it grabbed the cue ball from the pool table, stuck it in his mouth and swallowed it whole.
    The bartender complained about the monkey's behavior, but the owner said: "There's nothing much I can do about him. He'll eat anything in sight."
    Two weeks later, the man and the monkey were back in the same bar. The monkey immediately snatched a maraschino cherry from the bar, stuck it up his ass, pulled it out and ate it.
    "Did you see what your monkey did?" said the bartender. "It put a cherry up its ass, pulled it out and then ate it. That's disgusting."
    "I know," said the owner. "You see, he still eats anything in sight but ever since he ate that cue ball, he measures everything first."


    "When action grows unprofitable, gather information; when information grows unprofitable, sleep." ---Ursula K. Leguin

     What do you do to get out of a bad mood? Answer from the 88 years old Jack LaLane, known as the "Godfather of Fitness:" I count my blessings. I'm still here. I have a great wife and family. I love what I do. I'm living in the greatest country in the world.
     Most people have more to be grateful for than they realize. If people complain that they're not wealthy, I ask them if they'd give up their right arm for $1 million. Just about anyone would say, "No way." I remind them that if they've got two good arms, they're wealthy. Our bodies are our most valuable possessions. We'd better take care of them.

     What's the best advice you ever have received? From actor Danny Aiello: When I first started in show business, I worried about forgetting my lines or saying the wrong thing. My mother always said, "They're only words, not bullets." I thought to myself, Ma is right. I'm not going to kill anyone if I say the wrong line. From then on, whenever I got nervous, I heard my mother's voice and it calmed me down.

    What's your secret for dealing with unpleasant people? From Louis Rukeyser, the host of Wall Street Week for 32 years in public television: My mother used to say, "Nineteen out of 20 people are very nice. Don't let the occasional SOB you meet make you forget that." I have found that, as I have with just about everything my mother told me, to be absolutely accurate. When I meet that occasional SOB, I don't get angry or upset. Instead, I try to focus on the next 19 people I will meet, who are likely to be pretty nice.

    What's the best advice a parent ever gave you? From 72 years old William Shatner, Captain James T. Kirk in the Star Trek TV series and movies: My father told me that nobody really knows anything. And the longer I live, the more I see that this is true. We're all just guessing. Of course, my father also told me I'd never make a living as an actor.

     From Oprah Winfrey: "When I was growing up in Mississippi, I never believed what people told me about being poor or black or female. I believed I was God's child, therefore I could do anything. One day, when I was four, I watched my grandmother hanging clothes on a line. She said, 'Pay attention girl, you're going to have to do this some day.' Inside I said, 'No, I won't.'
    "In kindergarten I told my teacher, 'I don't belong here, because I can read and I know big words like elephant and hippopotamus.' The next day I was promoted to the first grade. What I couldn't articulate then, but knew deep inside, was that I could do better - and that knowledge has been a constant in my life."

The Darwin Awards
    Stephen J. Gould said: "Humans are not the end result of predictable evolutionary progress, but rather a fortuitous cosmic afterthought, a tiny little twig on the enormously arborescent bush of life, which if replanted from seed, would … not grow this twig again." Upon hearing about Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species, the alarmed wife of the Bishop of Worcester exclaimed: "Descended from the apes! My dear, let us hope that it is not true, but if it is, let us pray that it will not become generally known."

     Have your heard of the Darwin Awards? Named in honor of Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, the Darwin Awards commemorate those who improve our gene pool by removing themselves from it. In other words, the Darwin Awards salute the improvement of the human genome by honoring those who accidentally kill themselves in really stupid ways. Obviously, the honor is usually bestowed posthumously. Here are few of my personal favorites: A man named Gerald in Colorado was pulled over for erratic driving but he decided to flee on foot, and fire a gun wildly over his shoulder at the police pursuit. His aim was no better than his driving. He shot himself in the head with his own weapon, bringing the chase - and his life - to a sudden conclusion. Millennia after an evolving human species descended from the trees, 30-year-old Joshua in Hawaii reversed the process and removed himself from the gene pool while perched in the tree, stealing a branch from an expensive hardwood. To his credit, he didn't make the mistake of cutting the branch supporting him. Instead, he cut the branch directly above his head… A drifter in Florida sneaked into a whale pool at Sea World in Orlando. Unfortunately, he didn't pick the right pool. Instead of taking a swim with Shamu, Dan ended up swimming with the untamed Tillikun, the largest killer whale in captivity - an 11,000 pounds stud that has sired four whales and killed before a trainer in Vancouver. In the spirit of our time, the drifter's estranged family sued Sea World for negligence. For more awardees, check out the web site of the Darwin Awards - www.darwinawards.com


     "A successful life with continuing personal growth can only come from legitimate suffering that must be experienced through four tools of discipline: delaying of gratification, acceptance of responsibility, dedication to truth, and balancing. For they are tools with which pain is confronted rather than avoided, and if one seeks to avoid legitimate suffering, then one will avoid the use of these tools." ---M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled

View at the Top

by:marie belen c. flores-rosales, md mphcim ‘70

    The climb was long and difficult… we went slowly, patiently,  step by step, no shortcuts… taking deep breaths in between as well as exhaling that brought great relief. We did not rush the climb.

     “It’s beautiful, it’s awesome” were the first words that came out of my mouth, when my husband and I reached the peak of the snow-covered mountain at Big Bear, 4000 ft above the ground. Both of us were gasping for breath, but the climb itself was a big reward because the view at the top was truly magnificent… literally breath-taking. “I can stay here forever”, I said, as I begin to savor the beauty of the world around me, and feel a sense of peace looking at the lake below that soothe my soul. Only to be disappointed three hours later because we had to start our descent, to go back to the realities of day-to-day living.

    At a refugee conference in Sacramento recently, the life story of a refugee from Sudan was put on the big screen. It is a story of a woman’s struggles in life and the mountains she had climbed. Her name is Koniya and she told us her story. She was eight years old when she left Sudan by foot with a group of other orphans. This group of young children ended up in a refugee camp in Kenya where they lived for 11 years.  In 1994, with a group of Sudanese refugees, she got re-settled to the USA through the efforts of the United Nations High Commissioner for refugees. She was going to New York, she was 19 years old, life would be nice and rosy, and she would have the time of her life… that’s what she thought. But life in New York was never nice and rosy… She did not have the time of her life. She was discriminated, she was physically abused, she was sexually molested, she was virtually held prisoner in the household of the people who were supposedly her benefactors. She was convinced she made the biggest mistake of her life coming to America. Life at the refugee camp in Kenya was heaven.

    At a time when Koniya reached a seeming dead-end in New York, an opportunity presented itself. She took a long bus ride to San Diego to start life anew. She attended ESL classes to learn English, took job skills training and job development courses, and became computer proficient. At age 28, Koniya finished high school, and is well on her way to college.

    At the end of her speech, she said, ”People tell me that I have finally reached the top of my mountain. I say, that I am only resting at this mountain. My climb was long and labored - but there are and there will be more mountains to climb. I may or I may not reach the top of each mountain, but I will not stop.   I will enjoy and learn from each climb, one mountain at a time.”

    So beautiful… so true.

    I have been on a series of mountain climbs all my life, as all of us humans do. There were times when I reached the top of the mountain with ease, and I wanted to stay there forever. For most of the time, however, the climbs were tiresome and disheartening, and I became resentful. In each of those climbs, I learned to travel light and rid myself of unnecessary attachments that I didn’t need in life. I learned from it. I learned to let go of obsessive worldly desires to seek perfection, possession and position. Instead I looked at the treasures that I have banked in my heart. 

    When one is on a climb, and one reaches the top, one has not reached the end… because as we journey in life, the mountaintop is only a bend where one’s tired soul seeks refuge. 

    As the saying goes, “One can not stay at the top forever. One has to go down, sooner or later,  and go back to one’s realities”.


The Pillars And Frailties Of Life

by: Clem S. Estrera, Jr., Class 1972

    "If money could make us happy, millionaires would rest complete. If sex could fulfill us, those who enter relationships of marriages would roam no further. If power were the source of peace, heads of the state would be the happiest people in the world. But persons with much money, sex or power are not always the happiest; in fact they are often the most unhappy." --Alan Cohen

The color of money
    Everytime I think of the power of money, I am often reminded by a story that is attributed to George Bernard Shaw, an English dramatist in the 1880s - 1890s. At the gathering of London's upper class society, Bernard Shaw's eyes fell upon a gorgeous young dame sitting at the table next to his. "My dear," he asked, plunking himself down in a chair alongside her, "if I were to give you one million pounds, would you go to bed with me?" "A million pounds!" sputtered the gorgeous lass. "Why, for that much, I suppose I would go to bed with you." Shaw nodded his approval and leaned toward her. "My dear," he cooed, "if I were to give you one pound, would you go to bed with me?" The dame half rose out of her chair taking offense. "Why, sir, just what do you think I am?" "We've already established that," Shaw replied, "and all we're doing now is negotiating the price."

    In every society particularly in these days and age, achievement means very little, or nothing at all, if there is not much money that comes along with it. The major yardstick of success is the color of money. An author is not a success until he has a best seller, a salesman is not a success until he lands a big account. A doctor is not a success until he drives a Mercedes Benz, a lawyer is not a success until he sues a doctor for malpractice and wins. Job satisfaction, self-fulfillment, and the love and laughter we share with our friends and family as well as the joy from doing our best in whatever things we do pale in color and are put way into the periphery of our consciousness like miscellaneous items with very little chance of elbowing themselves into the center of attention. Is it any wonder that the number one best-selling group of drugs is the anti-depressant? Is it any wonder that many executives have manipulated their company's stock share price or have cheated on their own company to make more money? Is it any wonder that America is infested with lawsuits as people focus mainly on grabbing a bigger piece of the American dream?

    If we are doctors and we don't have the prestigious medical practice, or we work as nurses, physician assistants, medical technologists, salesmen, computer programmers and other jobs not related to or lower than our supposed profession; our pride, prestige and self-respect would seem to burn away like a flash of hot desire just by thinking about our classmates, colleagues and friends who, we believe, are a lot more "successful" and "happier" than we are. We feel small and insignificant in their presence simply because we believe we are not doing that well professionally, or not doing as good as they are. We shrink with our feeling of inadequacy because we put them high above us. Thus we unwittingly often assume or imagine that our fellow alumni would look down on us like we are some part of nature the sun forgot to shine on, because they are more accomplished and sophisticated than we are.

Pastimes we can live without
    Assumptions, like prejudices, are nothing more than making conclusions without facts or logical basis. The problem is that once we make up our mind on what we assume to be, we often readily lose our awareness of other possibilities and ignore what others have to say. Instead of evaluating our assumption and belief whether they are making any sense, we focus on rationalizing them or on justifying our feelings and actions. As a result, we often end up being wounded by our own indifference, or get stuck in an awfully tight crack of our own suspiciousness and cynicism. Negative assumptions in particular, make us self-conscious and uncomfortable in the presence of our fellow alumni for example, who, we believe or imagine, are looking down on us. Whatever pride, courage and confidence left in us would seem to disappear like pebbles dropped down a well.

     Of course, you may be right on your assumption, but if you have enough respect on yourself, then why give a damn if others look down on you? Heck, why make them more important than yourself? Are they worth the discomfort? Is it necessary to measure up to them so you can look them in the eye and not blink? By constantly clinging to a negative assumption, you may only turn your spiritual angina into a full-fledged infarction. You deserve a lot more than the negative things you believe others think about you. And you definitely deserve to come, join and have fun with us in San Diego. Being one of the alumni, you owe yourself that much.

    The principle of assumption is basically the same as that of gossip. In gossip, the trouble is not so much that words are spoken as an intended lie, but it's heard as an absolute truth. It demeans someone, the object of gossip. In assumption, it's not so much that you believe your rationalization of your situation is true, but it is that you act as if you're absolutely right. You either hate someone who is innocent, or you shy away from him or her for no good reason and perhaps indulge yourself on self-pity. The only difference is that gossip moves fast because it becomes a perverse source of pleasure. Gossip is repeated over and over for many others to hear. Gossipers sometimes remind you of a yard of chickens, cackling to one another as if they thought they understood the Kreb Cycle! Assumption, on the other hand, stays with you because it involves yourself. There is no pleasure in talking about justifying your feelings or your action of shying away from others. Anyway, if anything, it is always better to know the truth than to believe in a lie, even if it hurts.

     One of the inventors of earthmoving equipment was a man named G. LeTourneau who made his fortune manufacturing this equipment. One of his inventions was a scraper known as "The Model G." Everyone thought that "G" was named after his name initial and so no one bothered to ask. One day, a curious salesman finally did ask him what "G" stood for. The quick-witted Tourneau replied, "Gossip - because it can move a lot of dirt, and move fast!"

Dealing with unfriendly ghosts
    It is important for us to realize that all human beings; doctors, lawyers, politicians, CEOs, etc., are subject to defeat, distress and despair. Behind titles or profession, people are just people - courageous and fearful, lazy and hardworking, compassionate and indifferent. Some people may live under different and favorable economic or financial condition, but they laugh and cry for the same reasons we all do. They maybe sitting on a gold-plated toilet seat, but they wipe their asses with the same toilet paper we buy in the grocery store. They get constipated too, and they are probably using Preparation H for the itching and the burning. Hell, considering that, many of us are a lot better off!

    So, much of the distance we perceive between ourselves and our fellow alumni in particular is nothing more than the negative product of our imagination. It's our toxic thoughts and behavior that poison us and people around us. The shapes of our wicked thoughts are the ghosts of our minds.

    Nothing works better in dealing with negativism than our respect for reason and logic, not assumptions and prejudices; our acceptance and appreciation of truth, facts and reality, not its denial and outright dismissal; and our attraction to knowledge and intellectual ideas and information, not our cynicism and indifference toward them. For they have a way of keeping our mind open, and of making us take every now and then an MRI - Mental Resources Inventory. They enlighten us, and such enlightenment chases away the ghosts of our minds the way the light of a new day chases away the shadows of the night. Indeed there will always be greater and lesser persons than ourselves, but what count most are our healthy self-esteem and strong self-respect - whether we are comfortable or contented with what we are, what little we have, and what we do.

Discovering what life has in store....
    When we all first started in our endeavor to pursue a course of becoming M.D.s, many of us graduated and ended up with different sets of circumstances. Some of our fellow alumni had unfavorable circumstances that had given them no better choice. Thus in order to have a better chance for an adventure in other countries and have a shot at a better life, many of these alumni decided to take another course or shift to another career like nursing. At least these alumni made their choice and pursue it with determination and courage rather than gave up in doubt and fear, or sulked away in a feeling of shame and self-pity. Making a choice even if it turns out to be the wrong choice, is better than making no choice. What is important is the courage to go forward. When you stand on the fork road, unable to pick, you will never get anywhere.

     I can imagine how hard it was for these fellow alumni to go through the emotional struggle; to deal with the unwanted negative thoughts of what others might say about them, to face the questioning looks of their parents, families, friends and classmates, and to ignore the jokes if not ridicule from some misguided individuals that hit them below their belt. I doubt very much if I myself would be able to go through what they had gone through.

     In a profession, the easier thing to do is to go up the ladder and reach further. The most difficult is to accept your fate thrust into you by your circumstances and then willingly and enthusiastically choose to go down the ladder and make the best of it. Not too many people are willing to be subjected to such a humbling experience. Many would succumb to paralyzing emotions of shame, embarrassment, fear, worry, or doubt, and thus not make a choice, let alone move on, unable to deal with their dashed hopes and desires. But our fellow alumni have found out and accepted the reality that life doesn't always give you what you want. So instead of simply settling with what life had given that they didn't want, they went on and strived to discover what life could give that they would want. If anything, these fellow alumni deserve an admiration.

Acquiring wisdom
     Wisdom is nothing more than good sense, learned mainly by trial and error. Thus it comes mainly from our humbling experiences and from understanding the consequences of our choices. Often it's the consequences of our choices that challenge our resolve, our guts to go against the grain, our ability to roll with the life's punches and to get up despite the big bumps and bruises. They humble us down and make us learn to understand that life is not an interminable series of tests to be passed or failed, but a continuous process of learning and acquiring knowledge that often leads to wisdom.

     Wisdom is not acquired by regrets and self-pity, but by self-acceptance and self-respect. It's not developed by using the tools of blames and denials, but by the ability to recognize and appreciate the reality that our feelings and actions have both pleasant and unpleasant consequences, and that we can control our thoughts and choose how we feel. Once acquired, wisdom allows us to look beyond fear and frustration, shame and embarrassment, disappointment and discouragement, to be able to move on and achieve or accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. It enhances our optimistic attitude and anticipation, and increases our chances of success in unraveling the complexities of life.

    As plants need sunlight to grow, we need the continuous flow of knowledge and wisdom to survive not just physically which is relatively easy, but also emotionally and spiritually which somehow is always difficult. For the challenges of the present can no longer be answered with the solutions of the past. And the attitude and behavioral response or reaction we've learned and grown up with are no longer effective, if they ever were, in minimizing, let alone in controlling, the stress and distress we are subjected to in today's world. Otherwise we get stuck under the tyranny of fear, doubt, anger and indecision, or saddled with the same principle of "screaming before seeing." The fact of the matter is, the fruit was already plucked from the tree of knowledge, and the way back to Eden is barred forever. We are left on our own to learn from each other and to acquire knowledge and wisdom as much as we can so we can move beyond the difficulty of handling hot emotions, and effectively deal with the pathology of this pitiless world with cool rationality.

To be or not to be
     Whatever you are, or whatever your job is, be a nurse, computer technician, salesman, physician assistant, etc., and whatever gathering you want to attend, or wherever you are, you've got to learn to hold your head up high, remove the veil of self-pity, throw away the dark glasses of comparison, and look beyond your irritating shyness. Believe me. Others will look at you with respect only if you look at yourself that way. They will treat you chiefly according to how you treat yourself. For others to treat you well, you've got to send out the message that says: "I'm not competing with you. I'm just fine the way I am."

    I'm talking about having the inner strength that shines through so that you walk into a room with pride and confidence making at least some people whisper to each other and ask, "Who's he, or she?" I'm talking about presenting your self-image based on your strengths, not on your weaknesses. I'm not talking about having an appearance that is stunning that turns everyone's head, or some kind of magnetism that would draw others to you, nor am I talking about arrogance being confused as pride. I am talking about just being yourself, having a healthy self-esteem - the feeling that you deserve to feel good about yourself, to be what you are, and who you are.

     Finally, don’t hesitate to dazzle everyone with your million-kilowatt smile and your killer dimples. Don’t let anyone take them away from you by shutting them off out of shyness, doubt, or fear. They are no good to you if you hide them.



    "I left England because I knew there was very little chance of becoming a king. Little did I know I could go across the channel to Denmark and become a queen." ---Bob Hope


This proud Cebuano father and his children were featured in the ZEE magazine, Feb-March 2003 issue, one of the most elegant magazines I have come across from the Philippines. If you want to view more pictures and want to know this family, click on BZ

CIM proud parents. To view more family pictures, click on NGE


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