Post-Med School Gallery
Here we were finally, after med school. We were ready like weeks-old hatchlings taking flight from the nest. With a collective sigh of relief followed by an expectant deep breath, the rotten apples faced the world armed only with the letters MD newly appended to our names, our PRC licenses and a pocketful of dreams.
We took different paths to write each of our stories: some crossed the Pacific ocean to train in the US. Even more stayed in the Philippines, doing various specializations mostly in our alma mater. There was a smattering of rotten apples who temporarily deferred formal residency training and worked as community physicians or moonlighters. And there were those who chose administrative work or research in the world of pharmaceuticals.
Apart from our careers, we also did some adulting. We found (or maintained) partners and started families. We delved into business and politics. We envisioned different goals that necessitated divergent roads. We moved on.
But we still kept in touch. We called or e-mailed, we found each other on social media and we had reunions of whatever size at whatever place throughout the years. The friendships created from years of sleepless nights, canteen meals and toxic duties together could not be forgotten. Being a rotten apple would never be forgotten.
So here are the memories we made since…savor them until the next chapter:
Kita-Kita sa 2020
Kita-kita: to see each other. In the case of some of us, to see each other again after graduating from med school 25 years ago. An event we were looking forward to, with many scheduling leaves, checking their children’s school calendars and making travel plans months before.
Kita-kita: a contraction of “Nakita kita.” We will be saying this after the homecoming. Nakita kita uli. Nagkita-kita tayo!
Our kita-kita will now be through computer screens and the cables and routers of our internet connections. The first virtual homecoming belongs to Class ’95.
Let’s peek through joined thumbs, forefingers, and middle fingers, with our ring and little fingers outstretched, a gesture reminiscent of a masquerade mask. Kita-kita!
Of Pandemics and Masks
Like the rest of the world, COVID-19 caught us by surprise. We had been out of med school and training for almost two decades, and had never experienced anything like the pandemic before. SARS was but a blip in our distant memory.
Suddenly, it seemed like we were back in med school, learning something new and alien to us. We had to learn how to breathe in N95 masks, and how to work while wearing gowns or coveralls that made our middle-aged bodies sweat and suffer. Suddenly, our patients couldn’t see our faces. Suddenly, we worried about bringing contagion home to our families.
We could just have stayed away from the patients and let our younger colleagues face the threat. But we did not. We heeded the call of duty. We may call ourselves the “rotten apples”, but the pandemic has showed that the strength of our cores remains intact.
Homecoming is a time of remembering. But remembering certain classmates is particularly difficult. They were with us one day; then the next day gone. All unbearably too soon. Looking back, we are reminded how blessed we are that we knew them, that they walked among us, and that we stood witness to their fleeting passage.
Why The Sablay?
The Sablay is the official academic costume of the University of the Philippines.
The Sablay symbolizes our nationalism and the importance we put upon our indigenous culture, which are among the values learned from the University. The word “Sablay” refers to an indigenous loose garment that, simple yet elegant, is used traditionally used for formal occasions. As a verb (isablay), it also means to put a precious object like a piece of cloth or garment upon one’s shoulder, as a way of giving value and respect to this selfsame object.
The University’s acronym, UP appears as a symbol on the Sablay. This symbol is based on the baybayin for U and P.
The Sablay is the official academic costume of the University, replacing upon its introduction in 1990 and its official adoption in 2000, the traditional mortarboard (cap) and toga.
Source: University of the Philippines website https://www.up.edu.ph/