January 13, 2018

Words for 2017

This came quite late for my annual blog tradition where I describe my past year with two words. I was caught up with pre-residency and eventually residency that I had little time to sit down and write. So much for the introductory words. 2017 was my worst year. Ever. All the terrible things that could happen in probably 5 years were squeezed in a single year for me. What better way to describe it than LOSS and DEFEAT.


What happened in Marawi is one for the books, it will be marked in our history for the rest of our lives. The story will be passed down from one generation to the next after us. We lost our most prized possession—our homeland, including the properties which were product of our parents’ and grandparents’ sweat and blood. Almost all our family’s properties along Lilod Madaya---those of my grandmother, my grandaunts and granduncles, my uncles and aunts, my cousins’—were lost to the war paved by young men claiming to purge Marawi from its sins. It’s been eight months since the siege and I still cannot get over it. I cannot even bring myself to watch documentaries showing the massive destruction in our land. 

In relation to the siege, I lost someone very close to my heart. Someone I consider a sister. She was blinded by a false ideology thinking that she can somehow save her family and her land by joining the war. I shall respect whatever reasons she had for what she did will never change how I saw her as one of the most kind, innocent and adorable person I have ever met. She will never hurt even a fly. Her soft voice and laughter will forever be remembered. 

In the midst of the siege, I lost one of the most important persons in my life---my grandmother. She was very healthy at mid-80s, but one fine afternoon, as she was about to pray for salaatul-‘asr, she fell while sitting on her bed and was declared DOA at the hospital. I went home to Lanao del Sur, but not in Marawi. My heart was breaking when I was there not being able to smell the fresh air of MSU or even take a glimpse of Marawi because of the ongoing Martial Law. It pains me to see and to know that my relatives, people I grew up with, were scattered all over Mindanao.

At around that time, there were many reports about missing men in Iligan and my brother-in-law was one of them. He was abducted for almost 6 weeks, we initially thought it was a kidnap-for-ransom case but we never heard from the abductors. My in-laws searched the entire Lanao but to no avail. We’ve exhausted all the possible means but everything turned out negative. We’ve only clung to our unrelenting faith in Allah that he’ll be back to us safe and sound. True enough, when we’ve almost lost hope, he unexpectedly appeared at the doorstep of their place in Iligan. I will not dwell on the details of his abduction but up to now he has no idea who his abductors were as he was blindfolded the whole time. What he knows is that they were Visayan-speaking men. Alhamdulillah for the second chance at life given to my brother-in-law. I pray those men won’t bother him again.


2017 was the best time for my clinical career to get back on track. I applied for residency training at the most prestigious Department of Internal Medicine at the Philippine General Hospital. Out of 100+ exam takers, I was one of the 48 passers who qualified for pre-residency. I was ecstatic when I passed the exam. Knowing how rusty my brain has become after almost 3 years of not practicing, it came as a surprise that some medical concepts were still retained in my memory. From the 48 pre-residents, only 36 of us made it at the end of the pre-res. The rest didn’t continue while some quit in the middle. From 36, only 21 qualified for residency training. I wasn’t one of them. I didn’t make it. It kinda broke my heart a bit because I prepared and worked hard for it but somehow I was thankful because in the middle of pre-res I kept asking myself if I really want to pursue it there. For the entire 2 weeks, I barely see my kids and I lost track of the household that I manage. I left everything under the care of Jabar and the household help.

I wasn’t ready to give up my dream of becoming an internist yet. I looked for an open pre-res in other hospitals. I tried Manila Doctors Hospital. They allowed me to go on pre-res for a week along with 9 others but only 4 remaining slots were open. I gave my best shot for that week. I was very competitive, always ready for an answer, even the chief resident was rooting for me. I was kinda sure I will get in. For the second time, I was defeated. Apparently, the chairman was doubting my commitment because of Jabar’s nomadic nature of work. He was afraid I might quit in the middle of residency. I cried buckets. I felt like I lost all the chance of getting into residency. I’m getting old and the medical concepts I know are becoming obsolete by the day. I need to refresh my brain.


2017 taught me that with every loss and defeat, there’s always a chance to rise above the challenges. Loss and defeat are both a state of the mind. Meranaos have lost Marawi but our consciousness will forever be connected to our beloved Ranao. Our Meranao-ness will never be lost. We and our children will still speak our language, we will still wear our malong, we will still cook and eat pindialokan a manok , and palapa will still be our staple spice wherever in this world we will be. This government may have succeeded in bombing our homes and driving us away, but Meranaos will thrive and we will even become better people, in shaa Allah. With our hands, blood and sweat, we will rebuild Marawi.

(Pause. I’m crying profusely now)

I may not have continued Internal Medicine and I may have felt defeated after two attempts at IM residency but I found my niche now with Family Medicine (FM). Alhamdulillah. Family Medicine is a highly clinical branch but offers a lot more benign schedule. Residency training in FM allows me to indulge in deep clinical learning and at the same time take care of my children and of the household. It allows me to take care of my own health and well-being. Alhamdulillah. Allah’s mercy is indeed never-ending. I do not regret those time I went into IM pre-residency because I met wonderful people and maybe that’s Allah’s way of not making me regret my decisions. He made me experience what it is to become an IM resident but did not bring me there because He knows it will not do me good.

Alhamdulillah, alhamdulillah, alhamdulillah. All Praise Is For the Lord of the Universe whose love and mercy is boundless.

January 2, 2018

Day 1. Year 1. #resAidency2018 #WeAreFamily

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December 31, 2017

December 24, 2017

Best friends forever, ok? πŸ’• #sisters #AminaMariam #AmreenNurlailah

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December 3, 2017

'Tis the season to be jolly.. 🎢🎡🎢 #AminaMariam

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November 24, 2017

November 22, 2017


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November 13, 2017

DFA-DCC UN Day Celebration

The United Nations Day was commemorated early in the DFA-Day Care Center. The actual UN Day falls on October 24 but the Day Care opted to celebrate it earlier to allow the children to rest for the Trick or Treat on the last week of the month. Our family chose to represent Malaysia for convenience. The kids have their mukna custom-made already and both Jabar and I have clothes that make us look Malaysians. Back when we were in Bangkok, we were always mistaken for being either Malays or Indonesians. The Thais were always surprised when I say I'm a Filipino. They're always like: "Philippine? Muslim?". "Yeah, yeah", I told them "we compose a miniscule number in the Catholic nation called the Philippines". 

L-R: Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Italy, South Korea, USA (Hawaii), Spain, Japan, Turkey, Malaysia and UK. 

Faux Malaysian family. LOL.

She's posing, guys. Her posing hands are hidden behind her mukna though. This funny little kid. :D  The little boy on the left, Ezel, is half-Turkish. The one on the right, Elijah, is well, Filipino. Hahaha! They're about to leave for China as his mom will be posted there.  

May you be the best of friends forever. Ameen. :) 

The Stage Mom.

The kids look sooooo adorably cute in their costumes! And the parents, except us, made an extraordinary effort for their children's costumes. Alright, in fairness to me, I was preparing for the pre-residency training so I didn't have time to even think about the UN Day. I mean, we didn't celebrate the UN Day back when I was in grade school! Haha! All I remember were the FRESH fruits and veggies that my Mom used to painstakingly tie on my clothes during Nutrition Month Parade! I remember the lanzones that falls from my clothes and a classmate behind me picks it up as we were parading around the campus. Haha! 

Celebration of the UN Day is a great introduction to the children about the culture of other nations and one major way of boosting their social skills. Kudos to the DFA-DCC for the successful event! 

November 7, 2017