Great Takeaways from 2015

8:37:00 PM

1. Short-Term Laboratory Internship in Osaka, Japan

I (with my MD-PhD batchmates) had the opportunity to go to Osaka, Japan and train under Itaru Yanagihara sensei of the Department of Developmental Medicine, Osaka Medical Center, Research Institute for Maternal and Child Health. The whole internship was sponsored by the Japan Science and Technology Agency. It was a 10-day internship at Osaka Medical Center, Osaka University Hospital and the Research Institute for Microbial Diseases. I learned a lot of laboratory skills from this short internship. It was my first time to sequence DNA by my own, first time to see and use mass spectrometers (LC-MS/MS, MALDI-TOF etc), first time to transfect a mammalian cell with a bacterial pathogen, first time to see electron microscope, first time to do RFLP analysis and so much more.We gained a lot of friends and networks with the professors from Osaka Medical Center and Osaka University. 

MD-PhD Batch 5 with Our Senseis at Osakal Medical Center

2. Received a Research Grant from UPM National Institutes of Health

I really love doing research. I guess it's a habit that was developed during my undergraduate years in the Institute of Biology in UP Diliman. I already started my research in environmental surveillance of leptospirosis but then I still want to do another study related to natural products research. I did my literature search and I decided to work with mushrooms because they are understudied in the Philippines. There are only few scientific publications on mushrooms. I talked with Sir Jasper Obico about the research topic that I had in mind and he agreed to work with me. We applied for research grant in the NIH. And to make the long story short, our proposal was accepted and we received a 300,000 grant to work on functional bioactivity screening of Philippine indigenous mushrooms. I am now working with Prof. Elena Ragrario because Sir Obico has to leave to finish his PhD. It was also because of this research project that I was given the opportunity to mentor thesis students from Biology program of UP Manila. I was happy to share the few things that I know in research to our thesis students.

Preliminary Field Work at Ayta Community in Payangan, Dinalupihan, Bataan

3. Four Scientific Publications in 2015

I am so blessed this 2015 because I was able to publish four of my researches when I was still in UP Diliman. I was inspired to publish my researches because I saw other upperclassmen of MD-PhD published their works. I said to myself that if they can publish, I can also do it. I started with our special project in Plant Physiology. We studied the effects of commercial pesticides to the seedling vigour and viablity of corn and wheatgrass seeds. It was accepted for publication in the International Journal of Current Research in Biosciences and Plant Biology. Then we were able to publish our special project in Phycology under Ms. Kamela Charmaine Ng. The study was about the antimicrobial activity of an endemic seaweed against fish pathogens. It was published in International Journal of Biosciences. Then the last two publications were part of my undergraduate thesis under Dr. Sonia D. Jacinto. I studied endemic seaweeds and terrestrial plants and tested their extracts against human cancer cell lines. We published our work in the International Journal of Biosciences and Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine.

My Research Publication for 2015

4. First Semester in Medical School (2nd Year in MD-PhD Program)

First semester in medical school was very challenging. It really tested me to my limits. There are times that no matter how hard I study, I still do not get good grades. It was so much different from graduate school. It has its own different challenges and difficulties. I gained a lot of new friends since we are 164 in the class. I learned a lot of interesting things in the class. The professors are really good in teaching. But I will tell lies if I say that all of our professors are really good in teaching. I know they are really great doctors but some (quite a few) are not really effective in teaching. I may be wrong. Maybe their teaching style was not effective for me. But it's fascinating to study the human body especially when you see it live with the cadavers. Med school taught me a lot of things. I guess this deserves a blog post of its own.

UPCM Class 2020 (c) UPCM Class 2020 Facebook Page

5. Falling in Love with Filipino Children's Literature

I love reading Filipino children's books. I am a late bloomer in this field. I accidentally fell in love with it because I was creating a reading program for our students at The Learning Hub (a tutorial center that I started in Bataan). I bought several books from Adarna and Hiyas. I started reading all of them to make sure that the books will be appropriate for our students. After reading several books, I fell in love with them. And I realized that we have a very rich Philippine children's literature. I started collecting children's books from then on. I have two boxes full of children's and young adult books in my condo in Manila. I also participated in the National Children's Book Day2015. I also get to know a lot of Filipino authors personally. Some of my favorite authors were Tito Dok, Tita Grace Chong and Sir Egay Samar.

Me with Tita Grace Chong during NCBD Book Fair in Rizal Libary AMDU

6. Research Poster Presentation in Chulalongkorn University, Thailand

Our (MD-PhD Batch 5) research project in Biochem 205 class was accepted for poster presentation in 20th Biological Sciences Graduate Congress in Chulalongkorn University. We presented our research on the barcoding of Philippine medicinal plants. We also met a lot of graduate students during the congress. We also went around the city to experience the culture and tradition of Thailand. We went to different temples, weekend markets, malls, we ate a lot of street food, made our own tied-dye handkerchief and experienced the authentic Thai massage.

MD-PhD Batch 5 During the Banquet Night, 20th BSGC, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand (c) Inah Aquino

7. Mt. Pico De Loro Hike with Anatomates

We (Anatomy Table 24 otherwise known as 24ever) decided to climb Mt. Pico de Loro during the APEC holiday. I enjoyed climbing Pico de Loro with my anatomates although it was very tiring. The mountain trail is very steep and it was really difficult to reach the peak. The slope near the peak was almost 70 to 80 degrees. I was not able to reach the top of the monolith because I was a afraid but my anatomates climbed the monolith. It took us a whole day to finish the ascent and descent of Mt. Pico de Loro. After the climb, we went to Pico de Loro Country Club to spend the rest of the night. The place was very cozy! Thanks to Randell because his family was a member of the country club that is why we were allowed to stay in the hotel. I enjoyed this trip because it was a great break from all the pressures of academics in med school.

24ever at the Peak of Mt. Pico de Loro (c) Randell Tan

8. International Publication Award from University of the Philippines

I was so thankful to the Lord and to my adviser Dr. Sonia Jacinto for this publication award. This award recognizes students and faculty of the university who were able to publish their research work in an ISI- or Scopus-listed journal. I was able to publish three researches in ISI-listed journals. I was overflowing with joy when I attended the awarding ceremony because I saw some of the scientists that I really admire. I was inspired to do more researches in the future. We are still way behind our neighboring countries when it comes to research. The new breed of scientists have to turn the tides by engaging in more researches with great impacts to the community and society. I learned during the speech of Dr. Gisela Concepcion that students must always exceed the achievements of their teachers!

Awarding of International Publication Award 2014-2015 (c) Sir Bot Jocano

9. Started Blogging (Doktor Doktor Lads)

I started blogging last July 2015. I wanted to write book reviews of Philippine children's books and help promote it to the people I know. Then I started writing personal experiences from medical school. Then I also started writing poems. And latest addition was health information and tips. I enjoy blogging. When I have time, I use it to write blog posts. Right now I am focusing on writing health education posts. I was influenced by doctors from #healthxp who are champions in healthcare social media. They are advocates of using the power of social media in health education and promotion.

Logo of Doktor Doktor Lads

10. Reviewer of Philippine BIOTA Journal

I was blessed to be one of the reviewers of a cytotoxicity research submitted to the Philippine BIOTA journal. The editor of the journal was my undergraduate thesis adviser Dr. Sonia D. Jacinto. She asked me to review the paper. At first I was hesitant to accept the invitation because I felt inadequate for the job. But then Maam Sonia affirmed that I was the author of two major publications on cytotoxicity in two ISI-listed journals and she said that there's every reason to trust me. I was in tears when Maam Sonia said that to me.

11. Good to Be Back in Ministry

I praise God for my UP Agape family for helping me grow in my spiritual life. I gained a lot of Ates and Kuyas from the fellowship. I also started again leading Bible studies with my classmates in medical school. Some of the most memorable activities in Agape were the story telling and Gospel sharing at the Pediatrics ward and the Agape NCR Heartbeat for Christ. I thank God because He is using my passion in children's books and telling stories to children to reach out to the lost souls in PGH. I was also challenged to participate more in the furtherance of God's kingdom in UPCM and beyond during the Agape NCR Heartbeat. I also gained new Christian friends from other medical schools in Manila. It was amazing to know that the Lord is at work in all medical schools in Manila and the whole country.

Agape NCR Heartbeat for Christ 2015 Participants (c) Jill Ponio

12. First Year Anniversary of The Learning Hub

I started The Learning Hub last April 2014. It was a small summer tutorial center in our house in Palihan, Hermosa, Bataan. I started with almost 10 students and I was the only one teaching then. I was in a four-month break because UP changed its academic calendar and classes started August. I also wanted to earn money for medical school that is why I decided to teach. I used my savings to renovate a room in our house. I bought an aircon, school materials and chairs for the tutorial. When the classes of our elementary and high school students started, our students increased to almost 15 students. I cannot handle the students so I decided to hire two more teachers from Bataan Peninsula State University. Long story short, the tutorial continued until now. We have less than 30 students with seven teachers. We were able to build a new room for the tutorial. We bought two more aircon, computer set, printer, more books, more chairs and table for the tutorial center. It was also our joy to see our students excel in their academics. I praise God for sustaining this tutorial center because it is a great help to our family finances, a great help to our teachers because they earn and at the same time have an avenue to practice their teaching skills and to our students and parents.

The Learning Hub Promotional Material

Before I end my 2015. Let me say a little prayer to my Father in Heaven.
I give back all the praise and glory to God. Thank you Lord for being with me this 2015 and for pouring out countless blessings. Thank you for sustaining my family. We do not have much when it comes to finances but we are very rich with love and blessings. Thank you Lord because Kuya is now working in Smart Communications. I am 2nd year in MD-PhD program in UP College of Medicine and my little sister is graduating in BS Nutrition and Dietetics from Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Sta. Mesa. I can see a very bright future for our family. Thank you for seeing us through Father.

There are lots of ups and downs. There are a lot of times that I failed You but I still thank You for loving me unconditionally despite my shortcomings. I pray that I will learn to love You more, be grounded in Your word and be satisfied in You love this 2016. Use me for Your glory this 2016. Break all the worldly temples in my heart, crush the unholy places in my mind and create in me a pure heart and mind and mold me according to Your will. Protect my family and my loved ones God. I pray that they will know you more and have a deeper relationship with You. Thank you God.

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