Sunday, August 29, 2010

"Sandali na lang, maaari bang pagbigyan
Aalis na nga, maari bang hawakan ang iyong mga kamay
Sana ay maabot ang langit, ang iyong mga ngiti
Sana ay masilip..."

There's something about Original Pinoy Music that just hits closer to home. And although I loathe Regine Velasquez's vocal range (especially the higher ones that she keeps showing off) and repetitive ballads that the industry is so keen on producing, I am quite fond of local bands who write and perform their own music and don't feel compelled to put on inhuman high notes on their songs.

That said, Torete is a song about love that can't be expressed nor spoken about. The lyrics are vague at best but what I like about this song is it's simple melody and the chill out air it gives off. Since the song is best played using a guitar, I think it's quite interesting and fortunate that I was able to transfer those strums to the keyboard. I certainly did not expect to finish the whole thing.

I tried to stay faithful to the original tone of the song and didn't romanticize it with arpeggios and extra notes. I hope to be able to transcribe other songs as well, mostly singles which are not made for the piano. 

Sorry for the weird camera angle and static-y audio, I'll try to work those out with upcoming recordings. :)

The release of the 3rd installment of the fantastic The Hunger Games trilogy brought me back to my Deathly Hallows days where I even had the book pre-ordered in our local bookstore. The anticipation was almost tangible in the air and I must say I was really lucky to be able to acquire a copy so easily, without charge. :)

The beginning to about three-quarters of the book was pure brilliance. Again, as a Harry Potter fan, I am aware of the expectations and hype surrounding the last installment of a series. This book certainly did not disappoint. The plot was even reminiscent of Deathly Hallows as the author was not afraid to kill of major characters and and write surprising twists. I loved how the book isn't as black and white as it seemed. It was not the traditional good vs. evil. The shades of gray became more apparent and more interesting as I drank up every page and chapter.

I have this own criteria on what defines a good book and it is when I can read scenes where there is not much happening and yet they are as interesting as the action-packed ones. Like with Harry Potter, I am as contented reading chapters were Ron, Hermione and Harry are just hanging out at the common room as I am with duel scenes. As with The Hunger Games trilogy, the world just absorbs me and I relish every moment I spend in it.

The book was almost perfect if not for the last few chapters, unfortunately.

The ending was a little unsettling for me. I expected a strong climactic finale, probably where Katniss will be having her awaited for battle with President Snow or something similar, because the first two books were definitely building up to one. Instead, it was a disappointment for the action to end abruptly and then followed by chapters of gloom, depression and internal conflict. I mean, I know it's essential to character development but did it have to end so overcast and gray?

I also thought that, since this is a series finale and not just a simple ending of a novel, it was not wrapped up well. It was like the author was itching to end the book, so that she will not miss her deadline, that the entire relationship between three characters were resolved in just a couple of sentences. I didn't think it was fair to develop all these relationships throughout hundreds of pages and yet end/establish them without a proper scene or even a substantial dialogue between the characters. There was hardly any closure, hardly any sense that the these characters who have grown in us are well and is living happily ever after, like they should. I think this is one of the major disappointments of the book, if not the series.

Even with these drawbacks, I am still a fan of the series. I love how it portrays a strong female protagonist even though she kind of went loopy at the end. It was apparent that writing romantic scenes is not one of the author's strong points but her knack of conjuring up a magnificent post-apocalyptic world and orchestrating sudden turns and leaps within the plot makes up for it.

That said, I am waiting for this series to be the next Twilight Saga, especially with the movie coming up soon. At least, unlike Twilight, this is a hype I can definitely put up with.

Friday, August 27, 2010

A sort of memento for the first contemporary piece I've learned since I started my lessons more than 10 years ago. Valentine, composed by Jim Brickman and sung by Martina McBride, is melodic as it is romantic.

I used a music sheet I found in National Bookstore arranged by someone with Priscilla included in her name. Sorry, I cannot give complete credit as I have already lost the copy and was playing from memory. (The sheet music on the keyboard is a different piece.)

I've been meaning to record my piano pieces since forever and now that I have a decent digicam and some spare time on my hands I've actually managed to do just that. So expect more to come. :)

I may not know how you feel but I can empathize with the hundreds of thousands of exam takers who didn't see their names in the list of passers of this year's NLE. It's an endless cycle, twice a year thousands of new nurses rejoice, put RNs after their names and happily wait for their PRC cards while tens of thousands more cry and feel the bitter stab of jealousy and disappointment.

And I know from experience that it's not just personal disappointment that is so painful to endure. It's the expectations and hopes of people around us that can eat us up inside and make us feel utterly worthless. They've helped us get to where we are and offered us unending support. This is the only thing we can do to repay such debts and yet we cannot even manage to succeed in such a trivial task of passing an exam.

But things happen and they do for a reason. Remember, challenges come our way to be hurdled and defeated.

One thing I know is that passing or failing the board exam doesn't define who you are. The board exam is just a written test, designed to measure one's coginitive skills, guessing prowess and shading abilities. It doesn't asses one's nursing skills, how one deal with patients and colleagues and how one strives under pressure. It's a one sided exam, and failing it doesn't mean that you are good for nothing just because you weren't able to guess correctly the appropriate intervention for DOB.

Don't lose hope, don't surrender. Stand up and try to soar again. And if nursing isn't for you, then fine. Passing the exam isn't as hyped up to be anyways. If you think that the mere fact that you have a PRC license that says "Nurse" at the front will open up a world of opportunities and bring in endless flow of cash, then you're dead wrong. Thousands are still unemployed (including me) and half of the nursing population are at call centers answering call from strangers and/or contacting one to pitch in a product.

Nonetheless, it's great being a nurse. There can never be too much of people who are well-trained to care for the sick and the dying. It's a noble job, to have all the work yet little of the glory. The doctors come and go but we nurses are the ones who stay.

So if you really want to pursue the profession then stay. Stay motivated, stay strong and persevere. This is not the end of the world. There are unlimited number of chances you could take. That license could still be yours.

A failure is not always a mistake, it may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Morning Shift (6AM - 2PM)
  • Must wake up at 4 in the morning. Ugh.
  • No traffic to work. Yay.
  • Feeling of being in one with the rest of the country's working class hours. Yay.
  • Morning Care. Ugh.
  • Change of linens. Ugh.
  • Twice the meds. (OD meds are most commonly given at 8AM) Ugh/Yay depending on nurse's preferences on duty toxicity.
  • Doctor's rounds, carry out orders. Ugh/Yay, still depends on RN's preference. More experience for students/trainees, more work for staff.
  • OPD hours. Too many people in clinics. Ugh.
  • Less visitors before lunch. Yay.
  • High frequency of student nurses in wards doing Vital Signs. YAY.
  • Humid trip back home. Ugh.
  • Plenty of remaining hours after shift to do whatever. YAY.

Afternoon Shift (2PM - 10PM)
  • Get to wake up late in the day, no sleep deprivation issues. Double Yay.
  • Humid trip to work plus traffic. Ugh.
  • More visitors in the afternoon. Ugh.
  • Discharge papers, instructions, nagging relatives all in one shift. Ugh.
  • Late night commute plus high chance of hold-upper being in the same jeep/bus/FX as you are. SCARY.
  • Change clothes, sleep 'till whatever hour the next day. Heaven.

Evening Shift (10PM - 6AM)
  • Cool and breezy commute to work. Yay.
  • Calm and serene ward. Patients are asleep. Yay.
  • Very few to no visitors. Yay.
  • Night life is hospital life. Ugh.
  • Inevitable retelling of hospital ghost stories. Scary.
  • Probable actual ghost encounter. Scarier.
  • Shift can feel like forever if the area is not busy.
  • Staying up while the majority of people you know is asleep. Ugh.
  • Sleeping in while the majority of people you know is hard at work. Yay.

Okay, so I'm biased. I'm a night person, I hate waking up early in the morning. I like my sleep long and uninterrupted by annoying alarm clocks. So, my verdict: Afternoon Shift 2am-10pm.

Yes, evil wallet/cellphone-taking people lurk during the wee hours of the night but from experience, commuting at 10PM isn't as scary as it seem. Plenty of people are still out and sometimes it's even hard getting a ride. Granted, this shift only works for people who live near the hospital they are working at. The best thing about it is (for me at least) that I've proven that this is a great weight loss shift as long as you sleep right after getting home. Lost a couple of pounds with no food restrictions after a week in this shift. All I can say is Major Major YAY.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

It's not Wordless Wednesday nor Food Friday but I can't help it! It just looks (and tastes) so good.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Cheers to my first Filipino movie review. Everyone knows I'm not fond of local movies, mainly because most of them share the same predictable plot line, generic eccentric characters and goofy sense of humor.  However, it turns out that once in a blue moon, the Philippine cinema can produce a top notch romantic comedy without the usual boy-meets-girl fluff we are all sick of.

It's a breath of fresh air that One More Chance centers around non-stereotypical characters who are neither abnormally wacky or depressingly serious. They are characters you can relate to battling conflicts that could happen to everyone. Maybe this is why this film is one of the best loved romantic movies of the generation. A lot of flicks have come and disappeared without a trace but this one managed to solidify its mark in the Philippine cinema.

Another thing I liked about this movie is that its plot did not follow the usual Pinoy routine of having the would-be couple take on 'hilarious' mini-fights before getting together, have this predicatable break-up in the middle of the movie and extravagant (read: unrealistic) proposals of undying love just before the credits roll. The story is original as it is lifelike and it did not need common shenanigans to appeal to the masses. The story and the characters are enough to hold the movie together and leave its impression on its audience.

All in all, although the film centers around a theme not considered as serious as poverty or drug addiction, I can honestly say that this movie is something the local community can be proud of and will be loved by many in the years to come.

Unfortunately, like all local movies, the trailer gives the ENTIRE plot away that you only have to watch the ending to know what happened. But for those who still want to watch the 1 hour and a half version and are looking for a link where they can watch the whole movie online, I've found what you are looking for.

Let the tears and tissues roll...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Our sophomore week was supposed to be spent monitoring Vital Signs, I & O, doing bedside care, sample chartings etc. But instead, in a twist of fate I still cannot explain but am eternally grateful for, we were thrust into the world of stage productions for an inter-department competition for the 57th Anniversary of QMMC. So instead of spending 8 hours in the ward in our clinical uniforms, our practices served as our duty hours and we were allowed to show up in civilian clothes to sing and dance all day long complete with free lunch and snacks. How fantastic was that?

Friday the 13th was the big day and although we didn't win and there were more than a few mishaps along the way, I still consider that day one of the best I've spent in the hospital. After the program, there were free food and a mini party people celebration thing in store for the employees and some lucky nursing students but we already left because we got a celebration of our own to do somewhere else. Two weeks in and I already got unforgettable moments locked up inside my brain and in Facebook albums. Wonderful.

Let me wrap this post up before this sounds like a reflection paper for a clinical rotation. Just one more thing, if somebody is doing an amateur production of Rent or Spring Awakening and is in need of extras or whatever, call me! I think I'm discovering a hidden passion for theatre arts.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

So I decided I'm not going to keep my current life as a trainee nurse a secret but instead, ironically like all other things, I'm going to blog about it. Let's just say I'm training in a tertiary government hospital in Metro Manila (okay FINE, I'm talking about QMMC) and is assigned in the OB Ward which consist of 3 parts, OB Main Ward, OB Extension and Lying-In. We, the trainees, are called PNTPs and I am a part of the 12 trainees of our batch.

Our schedule in our first two weeks of stay is strictly 6am-2pm Monday to Friday but we were told that afterward we will have our own rotational schedules and 2 off days. We 12 were split into 3 groups and were assigned to one of the sub-wards.

Overcrowded maternity ward in a Metro Manila hospital. (Not actual picture, but close)

First stop was Lying-In. In this area, our patients mostly consist of post NSD women carrying newborns and looking for a comfortable place to sit on because there are 3 mothers and 3 babies in one bed in a normal, good and non-toxic day. 5-6 mothers (times 2 because of the babies) in busy seasons. It was surreal for me at first but we learned to adjust that on the 2nd day, it's normal for us to ask "Ilan po kayo sa kama?" when looking for a place for a newcomer.

Our tasks consist of taking the vital signs of both mother and child, trying to keep the ward clean and orderly despite the overcrowding and the choir of crying babies, logging in names in different lists and logbooks, charting (but we're not allowed yet because we're officially newbies), injecting contraceptives in the afternoon to willing mothers and answering questions of relatives regarding billing procedures, birth certificates and so on.

There are no IV medications to prepare, only oral drugs to instruct. Occasionally, a patient will arrive with an IV but it's always for discontinuation so we get to do that also. The climax of the day is always the intramuscular injection of the contraceptive DMPA every afternoon. This definitely makes up for the lack of needlework within the shift.

In general, I think this is a good warm up for our 2 month duty in the ward. I look forward to the time I will get to roam around the place with absolute familiarity with the comings and goings of the institution like the way those senior trainees do. Imagine, they got to learn so much in such a short span of time.

I will too.

Friday, August 6, 2010

10. Xerox copy of all important documents including Diploma, TOR, PRC License, Board Certificate, Board Rating, Certificates of Seminars/Trainings attended and resume.

9. White clinical uniform of your own choice. See: Uniform Designs for Nurses

8. ID pictures of all shapes, sizes and background colors. Whether it's 1x1, 2x2, passport size, 2x2 with green background, 1x1 with white background, corporate or casual attire, Matured Experienced Nurse or Enthusiastic Fresh Graduate look. You need them all.

7. Umbrella. The freak show that is our weather is certainly unpredictable. Whether you are avoiding the sun or trying hard not to get soaked, an umbrella is your best buddy while commuting. And let's face it, majority of nurses don't have their own cars. With non-existent salary, we can't afford one.

6. Your own personalized stamp bearing your Full Name, R.N and Lic. No.  Personal choices are Shiny Stamps and Trodat Stamps available in leading National Bookstore nationwide (P.S. Am not getting paid to advertise ff. brands. Although I should.)

5. Dedication. If you are lucky enough to use the stamp that you have just requested to be custom made, it probably means you are offering your services for free. Nobody will survive a week working in a hospital minus the proper compensation without a fairly high amount of dedication coursing through their selfless humanitarian veins.

4. Lightweight, non-tormenting shoes. Yes, they look butt ugly. But 'lo and behold, you will worship their hidden powers of comfort. Especially when you're working in a busy ward where sitting without doing anything is considered a mortal sin and there is a shortage in monoblock chairs. Cheap imitations are not only acceptable but v. wise buys indeed.

3. Hospital backers. It's not what you know but who you know. It's the absolute truth. Learn it, love it, live it. If you can.

2. Tons of trainings and seminars if unpaid work experience is not your thing. Fret not, young Florence Nightingales. There might be a non-existent demand for nurses in the country but there are endless opportunities in the land of Trainings and Seminars! From First Aid to BLS, ACLS, BST, ECG, PALS, ETC, WTF... You name it, they have it.

and the No. 1 Must-Have for a Newly Registered Nurse is..

1. SALARY. Twenty years and counting of being dependent on allowance given by parents. Is this ever going to end? Unfortunately, if you are a nurse, only time will tell.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Being a famous lead actor (with multiple Emmy nominations) in a worldwide phenomenon of a show is inspiring. Being able to portray a character so repulsive yet managing to make the whole world fall in love with such character is remarkable. Being able to play the keyboard and guitar in a band is awesome. Having the intelligence and wit to write a spy novel and have it published before being internationally famous is absolutely brilliant. But having the characteristics of all of these while maintaining a typically low profile (at least in Hollywood's standards) is exemplary.

The Gun Seller is Hugh Laurie's first novel. Published in 1996, he first submitted the manuscript under a different name for fear of being another 'celebrity novelist', only revealing his identity after it had been accepted for publication and agreeing to use his real name in the books for publicity's sake after being persuaded by his publicist.

I admit that, even though I adore Hugh Laurie as Dr. House and was thrilled to find out he has written a novel, the book isn't the best spy novel I've read. The plot began to get fuzzy in the middle and there were times I didn't know what was going on. But the thing that made me finish the whole book and still want to write a review praising its pages is none other than, the writing.

There are many books which have superb plots and endearing characters, but few, I think, have pages after pages filled with witty observations about ordinary life presented in such a way that you won't even care about the plot as long as you get to read those amusing quips about everyday existence.

"...the sweat was pouring off me and I was praying for him to hail a taxi... I caught another one an agonizing twenty seconds later. Well, obviously it was another one. Even the amateur follower knows that you don't get into the same taxi as the one you're following."

"The meter said six pounds, so I passed a ten pound note through the window and watched a fifteen-second production of 'I'm Not Sure I've Got Change For That', starring licensed cab driver 99102, before getting out and heading back down the street."

"I was shown into a room. A red room. Red wallpaper, red curtains, red carpet. They said it was a sitting-room, but I don't know why they'd decided to confine its purpose just to sitting. Obviously, sitting was one of the things you could do in a room this size; but you could also stage operas, hold cycling races, and have and absolutely cracking game of frisbee, all at the same time without having to move any furniture."

"When the driver told me how much money he wanted, I had to spend a few minutes explaining that I didn't actually want to buy the cab, I just wanted to settle up for the fifteen minutes I'd spent in it."

"...and then we were back to CNN's main agenda: telling people who are watching CNN that what they really ought to be doing is watching CNN. Preferable in a different fine hotel to the one they're in."
This is exactly the kind of Writing Brain I would like to develop in the future. Sarcasm and wit at its finest.

Reading the novel, I can find similarities between Thomas Lang, the former Scott's Guard officer protagonist who gets swept up in international arms scandals and terrorism conspiracies, and Dr. House, the arrogant but brilliant diagnostician who knows no bedside manners.

They are both geniuses in their own right, have the same sharp tongue, similar twisted psyche and they even have the same love for fast motorcycles. Which led me to believe that Thomas Lang may be rooted in Hugh Laurie's own personality and in turn, so is Dr. House. 

Now, isn't that interesting.
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