March Blessing Rounds – Filipinos, Medicine, & Culture

This past month for me has been a barrage of lessons God is teaching me on health and identity. I’ve been given an astonishing amount of time to meditate on purpose and meaning in my life (maybe less of a solicitation and more of a strong arming from God in spite of my stubbornness).

Most of my daily gratitude has been informed by this incredible book I’m reading: Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home by Richard J. Foster. I’m not done yet, but will post a book review in time. All in all, I’m grateful in so many ways.


  • “Caregiver of life” – Ants Canada Youtube channel
    • Mikey Bustos is a Filipino singer, comedian, and professional ant-keeper. He encapsulates the passionate, creative, eclectic, quirkiness that I see in so many Filipinos! I am obsessed with his youtube videos about his ant colonies. They are like Netflix documentaries, well-written, and dramatic!
    • Filipinos are often kitschy yet have this uncanny and sincere eloquence to them! In the video I linked, he describes that ant-keeping has taught him what it means to be a “caregiver of life.” His wonder and awe of nature and life reminded me of the book of Genesis: “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.”
    • He states “I realized you can’t recreate the wild and only take the beautiful. You must also be willing to take the ugly because both are inseparable in nature… there are positive sides to death even though humans may not be able to appreciate the whole picture enough to see it, but nature can show us through death that her rules are nonnegotiable, what we may be doing wrong, and why we must work within her parameters, lest we see your plans for the future falter.”
  • I Will Never Be As Brave As My Mother – by Elizabeth Ann Quirino
    • In light of International Women’s Day, Quirino describes her mother, Lourdes “Lulu” Reyes Besa, and the Medal of Freedom awarded to her mother for aiding American and Filipino POWs (Prisoners of War).
    • Quirino states of her mother: “she learned how to turn the darkest hour into the moment with the most brilliant light shining through with her faith, family and unwavering optimism.”
  • Filipinos in Dubai
    • We recently visited Dubai. It is my wife’s first visit and my second time. While the high-tech city, modern aesthetics, regal and bougie culture are touristy reasons to visit; it’s the mashup of Middle Eastern, South Indian, and Filipino cultures that fascinate me.
    • Filipinos are known to move overseas to find a job and to send money back home. In Dubai, an overwhelming number of the taxi drivers, store clerks, tour guides, waiters, we talked to were Filipino! I later read that 450,000 Filipinos live in Dubai— and in fact, form 21.3% of the population. In 2007, Filipinos in the UAE sent more than US$500 million in remittances back to the Philippines.
    • This youtube video is so touching because it shows how a young man sends most of his money to home to his family. Coming from a farming family, he takes care of plants at home to fight homesickness. This is a common story we saw in the people we met in Dubai. In particular I remember talking to a nail salonist who has lived there for six years and sends money home to her 10-year old son.
  • Astig Vegan
    • I’ve always enjoyed This Filipino American Life podcast. Recently I’ve been blessed by a recent episode about Astig Vegan, a website by RG Enriquez, a vegan Filipina who “believes that Filipino food can be vegan, healthy, and delicious, without losing its soul.”
    • Filipinos in America tend to know our mostly meat-heavy dishes. However, it was refreshing to realize that Filipinos in the Philippines traditionally in the past have not had abundant access to meat, and thus many traditional dishes are in fact very vegetarian!
    • “Astig” is a Tagalog slang term for tough, unique, or gutsy. Checkout her recipes on sisig, kare-kare, dinuguan, and longanisa! They are truly kick-ass!


  • Practice Changing UpDates
    • Uptodate is a resource a majority of doctors use to learn medicine and keep up to date on new guidelines and advances. There are topics and articles, but some really interesting resources that people often are unaware of such as this collection of highlights that are practice changing.
  • Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes—2019
    • The American Diabetes Association (ADA) released the 2019 Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes, its annual update of clinical practice recommendations.
    • It discusses the use of sodium glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists, with and without heart failure. A new recommendation discusses benefits of SGLT2 inhibitors and GLP-1 receptor agonists for patients with chronic kidney disease.
    • Insulin is no longer the first injectable recommended in T2D. The ADA now recommends that most patients start with a GLP-1 receptor agonist; if more glycemic control is still needed, patients with T2D can add insulin.
  • AHA Guideline on the Management of Blood Cholesterol – 2018
    • In medical school we were taught to treat hyperlipidemia with specific number targets. Then in residency, I relearned to treat hyperlipidemia using the ASCVD risk calculator. Now, we are heading back towards number targets!
    • I recommend reading the whole document, but I’ve summed it up in easy notes located here. In essence, use the table to decide if you are assessing for primary or secondary prevention of ASCVD, calculate the 10-y ASCVD risk score and risk factors, then check the table about which dose of statin you want to use and if there is a corresponding goal LDL reduction.
    • The AAFP has endorsed this paper (with some qualifications). Medicine is a pendulum!

Art & Culture

  • This Cultural Moment
    • A collaboration of Bridgetown Church in Portland, USA and Red Church in Melbourne, Australia, this is an incredibly insightful podcast about following Jesus in the post-christian world. This particular podcast really looked at Western culture, our anxiety-filled generation, and the lack of meaning juxtaposed to living out Jesus’s message of dying to one’s self: “true individuality is found in dying to self.”
    • “We need a balance of freedom, community, and meaning. The American system has an overflowing freedom tank but a meaning tank that is bone-dry… this creates a cultural sense of anxiety”
    • Western supremacy is the West’s pushing of it’s idea of individuality, sexuality, community, and anti-authoritarianism over all others: “The Western system is trying to do progress without ‘presence.’ God’s presence is the input that you need and out of that flows freedom (freedom in Christ), community (as in fellowship, not for your sake, but under God’s stewardship), and the deepest sense of meaning which comes from walking with God.”
  • “Never Be Ourselves” – By Savannah Conley
    • I am a fan of Mazzy Star and wanted more of that hypnotic, mellow, warm hum again. This artist was found on Spotify and I fell in love!
    • “Ooh, Does it always end up like this? Nobody wants to know your weakness”

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