Life lately, plus tips on getting into a dermatology residency program

This time last year, I was so anxious about the physician licensure exam and dermatology residency applications. Now, I’m already a first year resident, and our section is now accepting applicants for the new batch of dermatology residents for next year. Where did the time go?! The answer is here — less blogging, but more of case presentations, a lot of patient interaction, research preparation, staff meetings, medical missions, fund-raising activities, post-graduate courses, and learning sessions with our consultants. I’m surprised how listing all these things I’ve done in less than a year of training makes me feel quite accomplished already. Still, there’s still SO MUCH to learn.


I’m thankful to friends who have shared with me tips on dermatology residency when I was still an applicant and I thought it would be nice to share a few tips from my experience to pay it forward. So, here they are:

1. SUBMIT your application requirements EARLY.

It’s important that you’re chill and only focused on studying a few days before your entrance exam in each institution.

2. Study HARD, study SMART

I applied in UERMMMCI and EAMC and the exams were definitely harder than the PLE! It’s impossible to study everything on Andrews’ or Fitzpatrick’s dermatology books exspecially if you are a fresh board exam taker and only have a few days or weeks to study all about the skin, hair, and nails. It pays to have reviewed dermatology stuff while you are still in clerkship and internship. Ask your dermatologist friends on what topics to focus on before trying to memorize everything. Trust me on this!

3. The MORE, the MERRIER

Dermatology is a very competitive field and more people are applying year after year. Most people would apply to more than one institution, and it’s actually the smartest thing to do if you want to get in. Don’t put all your eggs in just one basket. You also have to save some cash. Each institution has an application fee (1500 to 3000 pesos, usually).

4. Focus on YOURSELF

Just like in everything else, DO NOT compare yourself to other applicants. You may have the tendency to think that you have a slimmer chance at getting in because one applicant is smarter, has a higher GWA or board rating, is more beautiful, etc. Don’t let insecurities get in the way of getting what you want. Just do your best to get that spot.


During the interview, they will ask you so many things. Some questions would be much harder to answer than the others — “Which institution is your first choice?” You have to be honest because consultants (who may be active in more than one institution) talk to each other about their applicants. If you lie, chances are they would know.


I’ve always been an optimistic person and this really helped me in times of great amount of stress. After my UERMMMCI interview, and after seeing the other nine interviewees with me, I was so sure that applying to only two institutions is not enough. I would always tell myself that I’ll be a dermatology resident, in which institution, I was not sure, but I’ll be a derm resident.

On the day that I was supposed to go to Ospital ng Maynila and Philippine General Hospital to hand my application requirements, I got a call from Dr. Baclagan (UERMMMCI Dermatology chief resident at that time), she told me that I got in — “Rach, tanggap ka na.” I said, “For pre-residency, ma’am?” and she replied with, “Hindi, tanggap ka na.” It was one of the happiest days of my life — I was way happier when I learned I’m already a derm resident than when I knew that I passed the board exam. TRUE STORY. Iba yung kilig, and I saved some cash kasi hindi na ako nag-apply sa OM and PGH. HEHEHE.



Healthy Summer Tips NOT About Sunscreen

Hi, guys! My fourth month at the UERM Hospital as a dermatology resident is about to end but the hot summer days are definitely here to stay. Intense! Am I now just more aware of the harmful effects of the sun (wrinkles, sun spots, burns, cancer) or is the summer heat really becoming worse each day? It seems like just a minute under the sun is enough to cause a sunburn!


Sunset at La Union (March 31, 2018)

Actually, segue ko ‘yan. Haha. I asked some residents in the hospital a few months ago to send me personal anecdotes on their experiences with patients or in the hospital that could provide useful information for the people who may be reading this humble blog. You may think that doctors like it when people get sick, so that there would be more patients in our clinic. FALSE. We want people to be healthy, and we want you to be more aware of ways that you could take good care of yourself. Out of all the residents I have asked, it is only Dr. Christian Lim aka Budoy aka my favorite neurology resident, who gave me a piece to post. Maybe it’s because some of the residents I contacted were too busy to write something like this or they don’t like to be published on a blog. Hehe. Below is a piece perfect for summer from Dr. Lim. Thanks, Budoy!

During summer, many patients feel dizzy, they may simply dismiss it as a result or the body’s response to heat. While this may be true, this may also herald a life threatening illness.

In the Philippines, the local term for dizziness – hilo; connotes more meaning than one. To some it is light headedness, spinning, swaying, even a headache. Thus it is important to differentiate one from the other as this would have great impact on their health – and life. Nonetheless, dizziness is an indication to go to the emergency room. If you have illnesses such as diabetes, and hypertension this may be due to a stroke in the base of your brain. A stroke in this area is life threatening, and early intervention is needed. To others this may be a result of an increase in their blood pressure, or their blood sugar levels have gone haywire! Or perhaps just a low blood pressure due to dehydration.

This summer, keep healthy by avoiding too much heat, hydrate, and take your medications. The summer heat is best enjoyed in the beach, not the hospital.

Keep safe and healthy.


If I have something to add, yes, it would be that you wear your sunscreen! Haha! SPF50 or higher is now recommended. Also, don’t forget your umbrella, shades, and wide-brimmed hats. See you on the beach! I’ll be in Batangas this Labor Day weekend. Hehe.



All smiles here because it was already past 5PM, and I didn’t forget to wear my sunscreen. Hahaha #preach



PS: The blog has already turned 3 years old last February. Yay! I’ll be having a giveaway soon!

Sagada Photo Diary: The Coffee Heritage House

Blog Featured Photos

I got a totally different experience when I visited Sagada for the second time, not only because I went there alone, but also because I chose to skip most of the tourist destinations and stayed at a hostel far from the town center.


Just like my very first solo trip to Cebu, this visit to Sagada was also a decision made on a whim. I never thought I’d travel solo again but I did, and I think I am getting good at it. HAHA

This post is entirely about the Coffee Heritage House and my visit to one of their coffee farm partners. Unlike the other hotels in Sagada, staying here is already an extraordinary experience by itself. It will make you feel closer to nature since it is literally at the mountain top, surrounded by pine trees.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.



You have to be familiar with the jeepney schedules at the town first. From the poblacion (center), ride a jeep going to Bangaan and tell the driver that you’re going to CHH. You’ll get dropped off at an elementary school. Ask the locals where the trail is and just follow it. It will take you less than 10 minutes to get to the hotel.

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I booked my trip through Agoda for around 600 pesos per night which supposedly comes with a continental breakfast. However, I wanted I wanted to try the danggit and their special adobo so I had to pay an additional 200 pesos for each meal — worth it.



Nothing beats the experience of enjoying a nice cup of tea or arabica coffee while looking out the window!




During my last night in Sagada, I had dinner with the staff and the two other guests. We had adobo and Japanese curry with my now favorite black rice.

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We had Bugnay wine right after. Thanks, Hana!

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I’d like to say that I was the one who set the fire but it was actually Ryan. HAHA

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Such a cozy evening!



Manang Mary’s farm was a few minutes walk from the hostel. I was fortunate enough to come with Tito John (one of the owners) to visit her farm. While walking with Tito John, I learned about the different types of coffee, how coffee is planted, and how they are working with farmers and scientists to produce more and better organic arabica coffee in Sagada.


I was so lucky because I got to stay inside Manang Mary’s house to have coffee, which she prepared the traditional way. We also had a tour inside her vegetable greenhouse. I wish I could have a green thumb as well!


It is best to bring a car if you’ll be staying here, otherwise you’ll have to take note of the jeepney trip schedule and be ready to pay an additional 500 pesos every time you book a tour since they would have to fetch you very early in the morning.

My stay at the CHH was definitely one for the books, and I wish that I could go back someday with my family and friends. I’ll write about my Sagada Poblacion adventure next. Stay tuned!



Internship 101: Things to Accomplish During Your Fifth Year in Medical School

Internship 101

Before planning on how to study during the two-month period for board review, I believe it is a must for a medical intern to maximize one whole year as a preparation for the future. Below are tips on how to make your internship a lot more meaningful, and useful for your future career.

1. Find the RIGHT review materials for the physician licensure exam (PLE).

Ask your friends from the upper batch (especially those who just recently passed the boards) on what to study for each subject. Consider your study style when picking the materials. For now, skip hoarding and try to focus on finding that one best material for each subject.  I’ll write a separate entry for this matter, stay tuned!

2. READ at least one review material for each subject.


Community Med rotation — The library was our second home. Char.

You have one whole year to study so you certainly don’t have an excuse. The truth is, from July to December 2016, I was only able to read on OB-GYN, Community Medicine, and bits of Internal Medicine. When 2017 came, I felt that pressure of the upcoming board exams. I regret not being able to read on Microbiology and Legal Medicine. I got my 2nd and 3rd highest marks on these subjects on the board exams, but imagine if I have studied these during internship; I could have gotten a higher score on each, or could have had more time on other subjects. So my advice is to read on each subject. Remember, all 12 subjects have an equal percentage on the PLE. Each subject matters!

3. Write your curriculum vitae.

If you are to apply for a residency program or a certain job after the board exam, you’ll be asked to submit your CV. Some application forms also follow the usual format of a CV, so if you already have one ready, it would be easy for you to recall and write down your accomplishments.

4. Secure documents from your medical school and government offices.

Some residency programs set an early deadline for submission of requirements. If you’re going to acquire your documents just after the board exams, you might find it difficult to squeeze in a time for studying for the entrance exam (just in case the program requires you to take a certain test), or worse, you might not be able to apply due to lack of papers. About a month before your internship ends, you might want to secure two copies (or more) of the following:

  • Original and certified true copies of your transcript of records (TOR)
  • Certified true copy of your MD diploma
  • Certificate of good moral character
  • Certificate of GWA and class rank
  • Certificate of Internship (this may be available soon after your last day of internship)

Note that you need your TOR, MD diploma, ID pictures (secure 2×2 and passport-sized copies), cedula, certificate of internship, and NSO birth certificate to register for the PLE.

5. Enroll in a review center, or don’t.

Again, all you have to do is ask people from the upper batch. I’d say that majority of the people in my batch enrolled in Topnotch. There were two programs offered, Premium and Essentials. I enrolled in the Essentials program because I am used to studying and reading on my own. I don’t enjoy sitting on lectures, but just in case you also enrolled in Topnotch, make sure to attend Dr Baticulon’s Biochemistry lecture. I think the bulk of my payment to Topnotch is actually worth it because Dr Baticulon is a genius teacher. I’ll talk about my review center experience in my PLE 101 entry soon.

Again, to enroll or not to enroll depends on your confidence and study habit. Before the registration for Topnotch started, I was actually thinking of just studying on my own. Here’s the thought process behind my decision:  If I enroll, I could pick the lectures I’d attend and just study on my own if I’m not really in the mood to sit in class. If I’d just study on my own and totally ditch the whole review center thing, I might pass, but would I think that I would have gotten a higher score if I enrolled in a review center? So, I enrolled in Topnotch. HAHA.

After taking the exams, I’d say that most of my answers were actually NOT from my two-month review, but from my past readings in med school and experiences in the hospital. However, what the review center provided for me, aside from that amazing Biochem lecture series, was confidence that what most people know, I also know, because we basically just read the same review materials. I’m not telling you to choose Topnotch, you can ask people who enrolled in Cracking D’ Boards, or those who studied on their own to know what’s best for you. However, based on the number of students, I think Topnotch is the best option if you’re going to enroll in a review center.

6. Plan for the near future.

I’m not saying that during internship, you should change yourself into a Type A person, if you aren’t already. I think it just helps that you know what your next step would be after the PLE. If you’ve already decided to take a year off, good for you. You’ll have the opportunity to earn money, travel, and do non-medical activities that you’ve been dying to try for so long. If you want to apply for residency but you’re not yet sure on which to choose between Programs A and B, it’s fine. Maybe right after the board exams, you’ll know the answer. It’s still best if you have your papers ready (go back to #3 and #4).

If you are sure on which program to pursue, you better draft a letter of intent already. You may also want to check the institutions you want to apply to on their social media pages. Follow them so you would get an idea on their requirements for application (it could be based on the previous year) and be aware of their deadlines. For example, UERM Dermatology required an NBI clearance. Some programs required a TIN, while the majority asked for recommendation letters. If you want it, go for it! Be prepared!

The future can look scary but you have the power to lead your life into the direction that would make you happy. Always think of your purpose and your goals.

7. Ask for advice. Talk to resident doctors and consultants.


Taken during one of my favorite rotations — OB-GYN. This is Maam Sittie, the interns’ coordinator for our batch. Not only did she share some lessons for the board exams, but also important ones about life (and love life HAHA).

Talk to people who have been through what you’re about to experience. You’ll be surprised with the wisdom they could impart. Listen to the pieces of advice they are very willing to share. You’ll never know, the consultant who would recommend you to your future residency program may be that same doctor you were assisting in the OR, or the consultant you were just leisurely chatting with at the cafeteria. Do not be afraid to ask questions and again, listen.

8.  Maximize your learning potential.


With our clerks who are now interns!


Emergency Room duties could feel lighter when you’re with bubbly clerks, co-interns, and residents. PS: Beat my photo editing skill. LOL

Internship is an opportunity to learn not only from your residents and consultants, but also from your patients and of course, your clinical clerks. You may not always know the answer to every question, but you can always read on it and discuss it with them later. If you encounter a drug on the chart that is unfamiliar to you, it’s your chance to learn about it while you’re still curious. If the patient has a rare disease that you can’t remember from your books or transcriptions, now is the best time to know more about it.


I am glad that I had the chance to work with these wonderful people in UERM. See you again in the next three years! 😀

9. Relax and have fun!

Enjoy your days off with your friends, family, and of course, your co-interns! Your community medicine rotation is the best time to plan for that getaway with your duty-mates!


First ever duty-mates in internship


Family for life: Andrew and the three titas, established during Community Medicine rotation.

If you have questions, do not hesitate to leave a comment below. Hope this post is helpful!


PS: You can join the blog’s first ever Beauty Kit Giveaway (prizes include amazing beauty products, and a winner would be randomly selected by the end of October 2017). Click here to learn more. If you’re a guy, you can share the link with your girl friends. Good luck!

Road to 1K: A beauty kit giveaway [CLOSED]


Beauty Kit Giveaway final

September 2017 has been the most wonderful month. I passed the physician licensure exam AND I got accepted into a Dermatology residency program! I felt overflowing joy when I passed the board exams, but I cried (due to extreme happiness!) when I found out that I really am on my way to being a Philippine Dermatological Society (PDS)-certified dermatologist.

Hard work pays off but I have a lot of people to be grateful for, and that includes the readers of this humble blog, which I consider to be my lifetime project. Thank you so much and I hope my blog posts entertain and in a way, inspire you to become a healthier person.

As promised, to extend my gratitude, here is a beauty giveaway for everyone! The main goal is for my Facebook page to reach 1000 likes (or more haha), so that you can get updates whenever I have a new post on the site.

Everyone has a chance to win the following (see mechanics at the end of this post):



Tony Moly Pearl Mask Sheets


Simple moisturizer – for all skin types!


Burt’s Bees Essential Kit: cleansing cream, hand salve, body lotion, lip balm, and foot cream


Clinique eye shadow and blush palette


This cute pouch from The Happy Project. Did you know that their products are made by persons with disability?


And this box containing everything!

To join, just follow these three simple steps:

1: Like In Full Bloom on Facebook

2: Tag two friends on the comment section of this post on my Facebook page (click this link).

3: Follow me on Instagram: @rachelleramilo

You must be residing in the Philippines for your entries to be valid.

That’s it! Easy, right? I’ll randomly pick one winner by the end of the month. Good luck!


Say hello to your licensed doctor!



Sulit pag may sorority kasi may ganito pag pasado ka sa board exam. HAHA! Babaw!

Hola, mis amigas! Just a quick update — I PASSED THE PHYSICIAN LICENSURE EXAM! The results were released last Friday. Thank you to everyone who prayed for me, iba talaga si Lord!

I promise to hold a giveaway very soon. It’s just that dermatology residency applications already started and I’m still very busy with the paperwork and studying (AGAIN HAHA hindi na ito matatapos). Not that I am complaining, it feels really good to be a step closer to my dream!

For those who will be taking the board exams soon, I will be writing a blog entry on how to study smart for the PLE, etc. Can’t wait to share the experience with all of you!




Wish Me Luck!

Hello, guys! Just so you know, I am still alive. I was on hiatus for a while because internship got a little toxic. Yesterday was our graduation (my 7th graduation, grabe!) hence I have so much feels right now but then today’s my first day for board exam review so I’ll just have to set aside the kaartehan for now.

Okay, isang kaartehan lang please.


Friends since Day 1 of med school!

Andrew and the contra-titas

My constants during internship

Just wanted to say thank you for staying with me through clerkship until internship. Kasama ko parin sana kayo kapag licensed MD na ako this September. So, wish me luck! I smell a beauty kit giveaway soon!


Trying to keep the sanity,

Rach 💛

PS: Please, please include me and my friends in your prayers. Thank you, loves!

La Union: Second Time’s The Charm

They say that second time’s the charm, and in case of La Union, it is true!
The first time I went to La Union was almost four years ago, during the sem break of my first year in med school. My friends and I stayed at Urbiz Garden Plage, the one featured in I’m Drunk, I Love You (you’ll get this if you’re into Pinoy movies like me hehe). It was a memorable trip since it’s when I first tried surfing. Also, bonfire by the beach never fails. Ever.
On this travel diary, I’ll share how my friends and I literally just chilled in San Juan, La Union.

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Travel Diary: Two Girls Plus Baler

I realized that one way to enjoy a trip is to always lower your expectations. I never thought I would have such a blast in Baler, Aurora, considering that I’ve only tried surfing once prior to that trip (with a coach, of course haha) and that I am more of a hiking/sight-seeing type of traveller than a beach lover. I learned that Baler is so much more than its big waves and happy surfers!

If you only have a night and a bit short of two days to spend for an out-of-town trip, I definitely suggest going to Baler in Aurora. Here’s a photo diary of what happens when you set two extroverted girls on a trip up north!

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Before February, the best month ever, officially ends, I would like to thank everyone who has been a part of this blog. You may be a friend or a relative of mine who is sometimes obliged to like and occasionally share my posts on Facebook (hehe), a colleague in the hospital, or we may be perfect strangers (just like the song diba hahaha), basta whoever you are, I am always grateful for the time you spend reading my entries. I do hope that you learn from what I write or are entertained by my musings.

Two nights ago, before sleeping, I followed an advice from the self-help books that I’ve read, and started writing a list of things I was grateful for. I was about to write the 30th entry (of course, this blog and all the readers are part of the list!), when I realized that the list may reach up to a hundred or more. I was not in the mood to write that much so I decided to stop, and just write a list on a weekly basis, every Sunday (kasi ambisyosa naman na magawa ko to without fail every night, #realtalk). I slept with a happy heart, and woke up with a very big smile on my face (not kidding, sobrang gaan ng pakiramdam ko the following morning). So guys, I guess it’s just normal for people like us to yearn for things (or people, char) we don’t have yet, but the most important part is that while we long and work hard for these things, we appreciate the people and experiences that we have/had in our lives. So there, thank you from the bottom of my heart, and happy second anniversary to us!

Here’s to more years of blogging, learning, and living!



My morning skin care regimen plus the moisturizers and sunscreens that I love

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.

I recently posted about the importance of knowing your skin type in order to follow an appropriate skin care regimen. In this post, I am going to share with you the few products I use every morning and the best moisturizers and sunscreens that I have tried so far. Here’s the truth — the key to a good skin is consistency, dedication, and discipline (naks, parang fitness lang haha). In short, there is no such thing as “a magical cream” to achieve a clear, healthy skin with just a single application!

My morning skin care regimen is so basic that I don’t have a hard time doing it every single day. Note that my skin is innately dry. However, I would still talk about options for those with an oily skin type. Here’s my regimen, including product reviews:

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On PMS and happiness

If there is one thing I am certain about in this world, it would be the fact that LIFE ISN’T FAIR. Why? Because women get premenstrual syndrome (PMS) every month while men do not have to deal with the effects of hormones on their mental stability. Well, except for those who have girlfriends with the worst PMS. They do have to deal with it, too; they have no choice. Haha!

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Skin Care Basics: Know Your Skin Type

Two years ago, I was completely lost on how to start a skin care regimen. I was clueless on which type of cleanser to use or whether or not I should buy a toner. I didn’t even know what a toner was for. Is it for cleaning the face or already a medication in itself? Moisturizer — do I really need that?

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Simple Ways to Take Good Care of Our Parents

When I think about how my parents show their love for our family, I get an immediate feeling of gratitude. I just could not ask for a better mom and dad. But then, there’s also this sense of anxiety that kicks in. They never ask for anything in return but I wonder if I could ever repay them.

On internship and wearing the white coat

Hi, world! It’s been two months since my last post and this is a sign that this blog and its author are still alive!

What’s up with life lately? Well, post-graduate internship has started! I’m an intern now, meaning I am in my fifth (and last!) year on the road to becoming a licensed doctor.

All of us were really excited to wear our coats (lakas maka-aura!) but the tropical climate proves to be a challenge. For my group, first stop was two months in OB-GYN, which is already coming to an end in about a week.

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How My Dad Quit Smoking

June is National No Smoking Month and I just wanted to share with you how my father successfully quit smoking. He has not smoked a cigarette for 19 years now. Imagine that!

Growing up, I have known that Tatay (how I call my dad) was a smoker. He usually smoked Hope cigarettes but I remember that he occasionally puffed Marlboro reds, too. He never smoked in front of the family (me, my mom, and my older brother) but I sometimes saw him holding a box while getting out of the house. He used to smoke about one to two packs per day, and it started when he was only 17 years old.

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On travelling solo and discovering the beauty of Bantayan Island

I have always wanted to experience travelling alone at least once. I never thought I would do it sooner and almost unplanned. When I was presented with the opportunity to go to Cebu with a very cheap airfare, there was no time to hesitate and so, I just took the plunge. It would be my first time to go to Cebu. I originally wanted to visit the southern part of the province. However, being a broke, unemployed girl in the middle of her summer break, going to Bantayan Island proved to be a lot cheaper than swimming with the whale sharks in Oslob and canyoneering at Kawasan Falls.

This trip was filled with a lot of firsts for me, making it so precious and memorable. Basically, it was my first time to:

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Sexually Transmitted Infections: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

If you’ve beenfollowing me on Instagram or Facebook, you may have seen my post about a Post-Graduate Course in Dermatology that I attended a few weeks ago. It was actually a lecture series covering various topics — one of which I think is a very relevant issue, the infamous sexually transmitted infection. We know that Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach is an advocate of HIV-AIDS awareness, hence writing this blog post makes me feel like a legit beauty queen as well. Haha! You know I had that pageant stint when I was a kid, right? I was a chubby girl and I won the crown, how about that? Haha

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Travel Diary: Mui Ne, Vietnam


I learned about this town only a few days before going to Vietnam, when my friends and I were planning for the itinerary. This photo diary has long been overdue (translation: two years!). Nonetheless, I am sure the spots we visited are still top tourist destinations today because they were nothing short of beautiful.

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On scholarships, graduations, and finally getting a medical degree



When I decided to take that long and winding road to becoming a doctor, I had no idea about how much money and tears it would cost me (mostly tears for me) and my family.

First and foremost, I have always been my Lola’s (grandmother) scholar. She sent me, along with my brother and cousins to private schools in elementary and high school (except for me). I attended a public high school (with an outstanding science program) but she still supported all of us financially. Note that she was more than 70 years old at that time, but she still worked to help us achieve our goals. I was not pressured to study hard by anyone. Maybe I did my best to at least return the favor to my hard-working Lola and parents.


Meet the best lola in the world, my wonder woman, Lola Dim


Elementary graduation — yes, I am that chubby girl at the center (read about how I lost weight here). I was the Class Valedictorian.

During college in University of the Philippines Manila, I had a scholarship grant from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) so I did not pay for tuition fees throughout those four years of education. I was lucky that my high school encouraged us students to apply for this particular scholarship because it really helped me. My Lola still supported us financially.


During the UP Manila graduation (left) and College of Arts and Sciences recognition day (right) – I graduated with honors (cum laude). I can’t seem to find a high school graduation photo but I am proud to say that I was the Class Salutatorian.

Going into med school was a different story. After not being accepted by UP-PGH, I had to choose between University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center Inc. (UERMMMCI) and Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynia (PLM). The former is a private school while the latter is government-subsidized. Going into PLM would mean less fees to pay for by my family but I just knew I would be happier in UERM. I was really selfish but I do not really regret this decision.

I was a University Entrance Scholar in UERM, meaning I did not have to pay for the tuition and miscellaneous fees for my freshman year. We literally saved about 250,000 pesos that year. The problem was that I overestimated my capabilities and underestimated the study of medicine. The effort I exerted during freshman year was so much more than how I studied from first grade to college combined. I did not understand why I just could not have an average of 88 (1.75 GPA) after all the late-night studying, missed day out with friends, and missed celebrations at home in the province. I would often call my parents in the middle of the night or past midnight just to cry and tell them how I was having a hard time meeting the required grade. If I won’t get a 1.75 GPA (1 being the highest), I would lose my full scholarship. To make things worse, we were having a financial crisis that year.

One night, I called my parents crying and my mom asked, “Gusto mo bang tumigil muna?” I know she only wanted what was best for me and the whole family but it really broke my heart. The thought of not being able to reach my dream despite all my hard work was killing me. I never thought poverty or not having too much money could actually hinder me from becoming a doctor. I felt hopeless; I thought that was the end for me. “Sana mayaman na lang kami,” I said to myself. There were so many questions in my head like, “Akala ko ba kapag masipag ka, walang imposible?”

Just when I thought everything was over, I had a call from my parents telling me that everything was going to be alright. During second year, I was a partial academic scholar (my average was 1.78 for first year, sayang talaga). It means I got a 50% discount on tuition fee. On top of that, the UERM Scholarship Committee gave me an additional grant which further decreased the amount we had to pay for. Lola Dim still supported me financially, and some of my aunts and uncles also helped. The same thing happened for my third year. That’s when I learned not to be hard on myself. I knew I did the best that I could and a partial academic scholarship was still a great help. I am very thankful for the financial and moral support I have received.

The transition from third year to fourth year was the hardest. I was really nervous because third year was the most difficult. I was not able to get an academic scholarship for the following year. But the transition was so hard to bear because Lola Dim passed away during my last month in third year. She was 89 years old. I always dreamed of the day she would see me graduate. I was devastated to hear the news that she would not be able to witness the fruit of all her hard work and selflessness.

Not having an academic scholarship was a great obstacle. But you know, there were a lot of people who were willing to help and give overflowing encouragements — the doctors from the scholarship committee, my sisters from the Sigma Beta Sorority, my brothers from the Beta Sigma Fraternity, friends, and of course, my parents, my family.

Today, I am writing this as Rachelle Carmona Ramilo, MD. I will forever be grateful to the institutions that helped me, and the people who have always believed in me. From saying “Sana mayaman na lang kami,” I now say “Sana makatulong rin ako sa iba sa hinaharap.


I really wish Lola Dim was there with me, Tatay, and Mami on the stage when I got my diploma (our diploma). I hope I made you proud, Lola. Maraming maraming salamat po.


THE READING LIST: On slowing down the aging process, exercising with a busy schedule, and the ideal image of beauty


I am writing this blog entry in my hometown, Laguna. I’ve been here since last week and it’s really amazing to be surrounded by family! I am going to keep this short since my aunt and I are very busy stuffing our mouths with food (I am guilty of not being healthy this week) in between exchanging stories. I wish I have more friends who are a lot wiser and have had several colorful life experiences. It’s great listening to their anecdotes!

*For the new readers, The Reading List is a collection of articles about health, fitness, skin care or beauty that I find to be worth our precious time, posted every two weeks here on the blog. Enjoy!

How Busy Women Make Their Workouts Happen (via Well + Good)

If these women can, so can we!

No Approved Therapeutic Claims (via Endocrine Witch)

This is a good and brief read for both patients and doctors. Patients should always ask their doctors about their medications if they have doubts before taking them, while doctors have the responsibility to educate their patients regarding their disease and their medicine.

Six Lessons on Aging from a Scientist Dedicated to Slowing It Down (via Well + Good)

Genes, food, and exercise — all of these matter.

Looks aren’t everything, believe me, I’m a model. (via Ted)

Here is something for the soul, especially for the young girls and women. It’s hard to reverse decades of brainwashing by the media about the ideal image of beauty but here’s something to ponder on before we get too caught up in making our skin look whiter or our bodies thinner (for the wrong reasons). You can read the interactive script but the video is much better for there were images being flashed by the speaker.

If you have a nice article to share, please feel free to leave the link below!


Things I Learned From My Patients

Hello, world! I am no longer a slave! JUST KIDDING. Clerkship (4th year of medical school) has been a year full of learning and extraordinary experiences. I gained a lot of practical knowledge and I can’t wait for the next chapter of this career that I chose.


But before I completely move forward, I want to share with you what some of my patients taught me. Akala ko drama lang yung sinasabi nila na you learn from your patients pero totoo pala. You can learn about tuberculosis more effectively by actually seeing a patient with this disease and then reading about it on your textbook or journal articles. The patients won’t tell you about the technicality of their disease, obviously, but what I learned from them are lessons that are deeper than the things you could read in a medical book.

So, these are the things I learned from my patients, in chronological order of my rotation as a clinical clerk.


During our rotation in Amang Rodriguez Hospital (Marikina), a woman stabbed by her husband was brought to the ER. I definitely learned to stitch the scalp (yes, she was stabbed on the head!!!). But most importantly, I will always keep in mind to marry a keeper. Girls, stay away from criminals, and criminals in the making. Katakot!


Trying to make sense of the CT scan plates…


This was taken in UERM Hospital during a surgical procedure.


I had a very lovable elderly patient who was obese, with heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Whenever I see him, I couldn’t help but associate him with Santa Claus! If only he stopped smoking a long time ago, started living a healthy lifestyle, and became proactive in taking good care of himself, he may have been living a comfortable life without fear of whether or not he would be hospitalized again in the near future.


Patients in a mental ward are still human beings, with emotions and an innate kindness in them. One time, we taught them how to make pastilles during one of their occupational therapies. They were so sweet, they even gave us some of their finished products.


My mom had a cataract operation in UERM (thanks to Dr Felarca and the whole department!). I’ll never forget how happy she was to be able to see the smallest details again, for example, a tiny dirt on my dress. Let’s appreciate the small things in life. How lucky are we that we can send text messages, appreciate Instagram photos, and read wonderful novels?

Otorhinolaryngology & Head and Neck Surgery

There are bad people everywhere. Some may even break into your house at night and stab you in the face if you try to stop them. Keep your house and neighborhood safer. Again, katakot!


Equipped to look inside your ears. There was one patient with a cockroach stuck inside his ear. I KNOW.



Looking back, I actually learned the most in this rotation. The most unforgettable is the five-year old boy who had Cerebral Palsy, a neurologic disorder. While he was still in the womb, his mother was advised that it was likely for the child to have a disorder (based on the ultrasound). She still chose to continue with the pregnancy and to give birth to him even if she had the chance to terminate it (at that stage it was still an option). I would say this kind of love is definitely unconditional. The mother was doing everything she can to provide the child with a comfortable life.


Cute babies make work so much easier! (Photo taken and posted with permission from the mother)

Obstetrics and Gynecology

For me, the most memorable part of this rotation is when I was coaching mothers during labor. I’ll never forget this line we kept on telling them — “Hingang malalim, pigil, and push!” It must be really hard and painful for mothers to give birth. Dugo, pawis, at marami pa ang pinuhunan nila. Thanks, Mami, for pushing me out of your uterus, to be a part of this amazing planet.


Delivery room — where babies are born (East Avenue Medical Center)


We had the option to choose two elective programs for one week each and I chose Dermatology twice. You may think this specialty is shallow and easy but it’s the complete opposite. Skin lesions usually look the same and you have to read a lot (and see a lot of patients) to be able to distinguish one disease from another. I interviewed one patient who had Psoriasis, and his whole body was covered in thick crusts. He was a hard-working man but his condition was preventing him from going to work (kasi nakakahiya raw). Diseases affecting the skin not only affect productivity but the mental health as well. Everybody deserves to be confident in his or her own skin (I swear this is not a sponsored post, haha).


During my first day in the ward, there was this one patient who was always grumpy. I’ve never seen her smile the entire day. But then, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor so I completely understood. The following day, she was visited by friends and family. She was smiling the whole time they were there, even long after they were gone. She had a brain tumor and nobody in the entire hospital (or the entire world) was sure of what would exactly happen to her after her operation; but she seemed happy and hopeful. So, what are the key ingredients for a happy life? I guess family, friends, and optimism.

Community Medicine

While teaching barangay health workers in a health center in Rizal, one of them asked if drinking pineapple juice can decrease blood pressure. You see, most people in the province believe that if one is having symptoms due to increased blood pressure, he only needs a can of Del Monte pineapple juice to alleviate the symptoms and normalize his BP. There are so many misconceptions about health and medicine that hinder us from preventing common diseases. I think kids should be taught in school about the important things they should know about healthcare. Let’s debunk the myths at their level.


Our group with the receptive barangay health workers

This would be longer if I’ll continue to talk about the changes I would like to be implemented in our healthcare and education systems so I’ll stop right here. I’m not an expert and I know  the people in charge are doing their best (well, hopefully).

And no, drinking pineapple juice is not enough to decrease one’s blood pressure. A healthy, active lifestyle can, with the aid of medications (depending on the individual).

There you have it, a preview of 12 months worth of education. Thank you, dear patients! In a few months, I will be starting with my post-graduate internship which for sure, would be another year full of learning and meaningful stories.

Take good care of your health because I don’t want to see you in the hospital!


THE READING LIST: On dietary supplements you actually need, the real deal about moderate drinking, and the importance of vaccination


I am a firm believer of the internet being a great tool for health education hence the birth of this blog segment. I originally wanted to post a new list every week but let’s just say every two weeks is more feasible. Click the link (title) to be directed to the full article.

Here it is, Volume 2 of The Reading List! 🙂

The Truth Behind the Top 10 Dietary Supplements (via WebMD)

Multivitamins and other dietary supplements are so “in” since God knows when, but should we really take them? Some people i.e. nursing mothers, pregnant women, strict vegetarians, people with allergies and food intolerance, and senior citizens definitely need specific food supplements. How about a young adult with no known illness, or those trying to lose weight and build muscles? Promise me to read this article so you wouldn’t waste your money (or your parents’) on the non-essential stuff. Also, too much of anything is bad. If you’re taking supplements, make sure you are consuming the right amount. Most are NOT like Vitamin C, whose excess amount you get to easily excrete in your urine.

Is moderate drinking really good for you? Jury’s still out. (via Science Daily)

Many people believe a glass of wine with dinner will help them live longer and healthier — but the scientific evidence is shaky at best, according to a new research analysis.” A glass of red wine may be good for you, but unlikely because of the alcohol content. Claims of alcohol being beneficial to our health should be taken with skepticism.

Hygiene practices affect contact lens case contamination (via Science Daily)

I’m guilty of not always observing proper hygiene habits with respect to my contact lenses. So, here’s a summary for you (and me, LOL): 1) Wash hands with soap and water before handling them; 2) Disinfecting solutions and cases should be of the same brand or manufacturer as your lenses’ and 3) Air-dry your cases face down after cleaning them. We don’t want eye infections, do we?

Five Ways to Eat Less Without Thinking About It (via Eat Clean)

We’ve surely read about these tips several times before from different sources. These five tricks for eating less really work for me, especially this — drinking water before each meal. However,  I sometimes forget about them. So, here’s a reminder! Let’s get that beach body ready!

The Power of Herd Immunity (via Ted)

Know that when getting vaccinated, you don’t only protect yourself, but also others. By “others,” I refer to the people around you, and in turn, the people around them. The link actually directs to a video (make sure to turn the subtitle on). You may want to view the interactive script if you prefer to read.

Note that the published article about MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine being linked to autism in children was proven to be FRAUDULENT hence retracted by the journal responsible for the publication. Of course, vaccines have potential complications but these are mostly mild and temporary (i.e. fever) and the benefits of being vaccinated definitely outweigh the possibility of complications. Now is the time to consult your doctor about the vaccine boosters you need, fit for your age and current health condition.


Here’s a picture of me after my second shot (out of three) of HPV vaccine. On another blog post, I’ll tell you more about why I got this vaccine, and why you should, too.


Informative Pages You Should Be Following On Facebook


A lot of people would agree with the idea of Facebook and other social media apps being a waste of our precious time. Boy, I couldn’t keep track of the total hours I spent on Facebook when I should be on a “study break.” Most of the time, those study breaks were longer than the actual studying. But then, why not make Facebook a tool to learn new things, and also to share some ideas to other people?

With that, I leave you these Facebook pages that I highly suggest you follow (mostly health-related and for Filipinos). These will make the minutes spent on scrolling your newsfeed definitely worthwhile. Now you don’t only rely on your doctor, whom you only see once in a blue moon, for health tips and advice.

Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM)

They usually post infographics regarding timely infectious diseases.

Department of Health

It helps to have a daily reminder to keep a healthy lifestyle!


World Health Organization

They share relevant tips about healthcare, of course.


Sometimes, we forget that we are part of a bigger picture. It feels good to be a part of a greater cause i.e. caring for the environment.



TIME usually posts articles on how one could be happier, and less stressed in work and in life. It also highlights entries on success. It’s a fact that a person’s mental and emotional health has a great impact on the physical being as well.



Philippine Dermatological Society

Make sure to see their older posts for more tips and information about common skin diseases.


Washing your face helps remove dirt and oil from your face, but don’t overdo it! Frequent washing can lead to dryness and irritation and can cause more breakouts. Yikes! As a general rule, it is enough to wash your face twice a day using mild soap and water. Then, gently pat your face dry once you’re done.

And last, but definitely not the least, IN FULL BLOOM! Duh! Shameless, I know. Haha!


You have the option to make these pages a priority in your newsfeed, actually. If you click “see first,” every new post would automatically show up at the beginning of your feed once you log in. Nice, right?

What are your favorite informative Facebook pages?

THE READING LIST: On exercising when you’re such a lazy bum, the many uses of laser for the skin, and your grocery cart must-haves


How are you, guys? I’m a bit nostalgic since clerkship year would officially end in nine days. We actually had our last practical exam yesterday. My batchmates and I would get our medical degree during our graduation ceremony next month. I COULD NOT BELIEVE IT. Four years has passed by swiftly!

Meanwhile, note that every Tuesday, the blog would be posting a list of articles from the web, all about health and beauty. I was inspired by the blog Summer Tomato to do this, actually. There are just so many stories and news out there that are worth sharing. Here’s the first one!

Happy reading! Feel free to share your favorite articles this week on the comment section below.



Do you breakout ’cause of make-up?


Sometimes, I wonder if the make-up products I’m using are the ones causing my acne breakout once in a while, aside from the monthly surge of hormones or stress from hospital work. My curiosity made me take a look at the products I use on my face and research if these are comedogenic (read: acne-causing, scroll down to learn more). I always thought that once a product is labelled as “non-comedogenic,” there is a guarantee that it wouldn’t be a culprit of acne eruption.

As it turns out, I was wrong.


Here are some of the products I use whenever I need to look made up.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.

Comedones are simply known to us as whiteheads and blackheads, which are the result of clogging of pores. These are tiny “bombs” that would eventually transform into acne. Hence, once a product is labeled “non-comedogenic,” it would seem like the neatly packaged facial cream or foundation would cause no “harm” (read: pimple eruption). But then, I learned that it doesn’t always hold true, given that this label is not actually regulated. There isn’t a universal standard on how a product could pass a comedogenicity test. Also, one ingredient may cause pore clogging in one person but not in another.

Meanwhile, there are studies that showed how certain substances caused comedone eruption on rats’ ears. Listed below (in alphabetical order) are the chemicals that tested positive for comedogenicity (from studies I had access to). You may want to check the ingredient list of the products you are using (instead of just trusting their claims of non-comedogenicity right away). Check their boxes, or the internet if you’ve already thrown them out.

  • butyl stearate
  • cocoa butter
  • decyl oleate
  • isocetyl stearate
  • isopropyl isostearate
  • isopropyl myristate
  • isopropyl palmitate
  • isostearyl neopentanoate
  • lanolin*
  • myristyl myristate
  • octyl palmitate
  • octyl stearate
  • sodium lauryl sulfate
  • squalene monohydroperoxide

*This is usually found in blushers, i.e. xanthene, monoazoanilinines, fluorans, and indigoids.

**You may want to take a screencap of the list using your smartphone and use it when buying cosmetic products at the mall.

After checking the ingredients of the cosmetic products I use, I came to the conclusion that I have been using products that are likely non-comedogenic. Again, I put the blame on the monthly surge of hormones for my acne breakouts. But then, what works for me may not work for you (and vice versa), so the products I’ve posted here may not be suited for everyone.

One study actually remarked that the problem of acne caused by comedogenic ingredients in cosmetics today is almost negligible. This is why I really look up to people doing research; they make the world a better place (read: pimple-free, hehe).


I would say this sunscreen I’ve been using daily for almost a year is non-comedogenic. Click here for the list of ingredients.

Meanwhile, the following chemicals may contribute to a decrease in acne:

  • nicotinamide
  • lactic acid
  • triethyl acetate
  • triethyl ethyllineolate
  • prebiotic plant extracts (more details here)

I have been using this moisturizer twice daily. Despite having lanolin alcohol (on the list aof comedogenic chemicals above), it has prebiotic extracts (barley and cucumber). They may have been balancing the effects of each other since I don’t think my occasional breakout would have been caused by this. Nonetheless, I really love this moisturizer.

Aside from choosing the right products, there are two more things we should do.

  1. Always remove make-up before going to sleep.
  2. Regularly clean make-up brushes and sponges to avoid growth of acne-causing bacteria that would later on invade our pores.

Here’s a confession, I can’t remember the last time I cleaned my brushes either. Ooops. So, goodbye for now as I have to look for hydrogen peroxide to clean my brushes.



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On nearing the quarter life, and the joy of doing what you love

You may not know this, but I just turned 24 a few days ago. I used to associate this age to being old but now, ironically, I feel young. Although I have to admit, I fear turning 25 next year. I think by then there would be more pressure to act like a real adult. But you know what, before I even turn 25, I think I already experienced that quarter life crisis. Or maybe there’s another inner struggle about to happen in the future? Oh, God.

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When In Saigon

Saigon (aka Ho Chi Minh City) is a place I did not expect to like, but ended up loving very much. If you were brought up in Asia just like me, the place would offer you a sense of familiarity. But then, there are certain things that make it different in a good way. Perhaps it is because of the history of the entire country, which includes being colonized by the French, and having fought the US during the Vietnam War. Nonetheless, I bet anyone would enjoy and find comfort in this beautiful city.

I went here in the month of May, which was perfect since there were no rainfalls at all. I was used to the humidity in Manila so there was no adjustment necessary. If you have two full days to spend in the city, here are some of the things that you can do. Consider this as a sample itinerary and a travel diary at the same time. Enjoy!

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Is sugar-free good for you?

Before we welcomed 2016, I bet most of us have formulated resolutions already. I even wrote them down para mas mukhang legit. Of course, one of my resolutions (more like goals) is to have a healthier lifestyle. For sure you’ve read a lot of articles on how to live a healthy life or achieve one’s goal weight. We could agree that it’s best to avoid sugar (candies, syrup, etc) as much as we could, right?

The problem with avoiding sugar is that it’s so hard, mas mahirap pa ata kesa sa pagmu-move on mo mula sa gago* mong ex. Dessert after a meal? Yes, please! Ice cream to cure your PMS? Yes, please! Chocolate para makalimutan ang masalimuot mong lovelife? YES, PLEASE! Wait lang, hindi pa Valentine’s Day! Bakit ang-bitter? Haha

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Tips for your future hike to Hulugan Falls

I have been seeing a lot of photos taken at various mountain peaks and waterfalls on Facebook and Instagram. One time, there was a friend who posted a photo of Hulugan Falls in Luisiana, Laguna. Since it was close to our hometown, my high school friends and I went on a day trip to see the beauty about two weeks ago. IT WAS AWESOME.


What a beautiful sight! #nofilter

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Laguna Road Trip

If you have a day off, and happen to be just living in Metro Manila or Region IV-A (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, and Quezon), you may want to have a little adventure in an inner area in Laguna.

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Life in the Time of Diarrhea: Why I Got a Health Insurance

Hello, guys! Are you still there? Well, I’m still here, back from an unexpected hiatus from blogging. I became suddenly drawn to hospital work and group exercises at Gold’s gym, and realized how medical clerkship (4th year in med school) can be actually fun and enjoyable. Why am I suddenly going to talk about health insurance, you may ask? I have “diarrhea” to thank for this blog entry, actually!

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Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar: A Reason to Go All the Way to Bataan

I have been contemplating if I would share travel posts with you, guys. My original plan was to share only skin care and wellness tips to readers. However, I realized that keeping a healthy body also involves having a sound and happy mind, and what better way to keep one’s spirits up than to experience what life has to offer (aka travelling)! Also, the truth is, I miss the adventures now that I’ve been working as an intern in the hospital for five months now. In a way, sharing tips and photos from other places would be an escape for me. So now, I would like to share with you why Bataan (a province in Luzon, Philippines) should be marked on your maps.

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Getting Your Dream Body: Expectations vs Reality

They say that in order to win, you should know how to deal with your enemy. But what would you do when your enemy is yourself? Like when you’re trying to achieve that dream body of yours, nobody actually tells you that you should not do it. I consider myself a victor after leaving my obese self behind a few years back. However, I find it hard to get my dream body (read: fit and toned, thigh gap unnecessary). But why is it so hard? I’ve always tried but then I can’t seem to finish what I have started every single f**king time! Continue reading

MUST KNOW: Non-Laser Hair Removal

I am not sure at which point in the history of women’s vanity did girls start caring about their underarm hair (and hair elsewhere). But when I hit adolescence, I automatically had the notion, as I have observed my mom over the years, that I had to keep my underarms hair-free. Well, it is the norm until now, although I am aware that there has been a number of movements for girls to embrace their armpit hair. There are so many revolutions at this time that it gets hard to keep myself updated. Now, look at what I just found… Continue reading

Healthy Eating Made Easy (Part 2)

Hi, guys! I just finished my two-month Internal Medicine rotation; I didn’t realize eight weeks could fly so fast! I definitely acquired a lot of wisdom but still, there are so much more to learn. I’ve come to know how true what our mentors always tell us, that the art and science of medicine requires continuous reading and education. There’s no escaping the big books and journal articles!

Most of the patients I have seen, out-patient basis or admitted, have either hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, hypercholesterolemia (having too much cholesterol in the blood) or were obese. For sure, you already know how having a balanced diet could prevent the complications of these conditions, if not totally prevent their occurrence. It is never too late to change what and how you eat!

This is the second part of the ultimate guide to healthy eating that I’ve been working on. Read the first part here. Enjoy! 🙂

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Healthy Eating Made Easy (Part 1)

You may think maintaining a healthy lifestyle takes a lot of work. Well, I would say it takes a lot of getting used to. It’s as easy as falling in love with Chris Pine, or Ryan Gosling, or Adam Levine… need I say more? It’s also not as expensive as I thought it would be, you’ll see. I’ve been doing this for years now so let me share with you some useful tips to start eating healthy, and actually stick to it this time. Continue reading

The Cetaphil Experience: When ASEAN Girls Unite at The Farm

It was my dermatologist when I was in high school who introduced me to the Cetaphil product I first used, which was the Gentle Skin Cleanser. I have become a Cetaphil fan since then so it is no surprise that I immediately followed their Facebook page. A few months ago, they posted a Continue reading

Renewed Confidence — Goodbye, Acne!

A few weeks ago, I talked about how I have been having a hard time posting blog entries (about skin care) due to recent breakout on the face and how Continue reading

Yoga to try it!

Just so you know, it took me hours to come up with that title. Haha

It was three years ago when I first tried yoga. During that time, I was a first year medical student occasionally usually being burnt out by all the readings and stress. I also noticed that I have gained some weight due to months of drinking unlimited cups of coffee and mindless eating.

I wanted an exercise that would help me lose weight, build and tone my muscles, and at the same time, would only take away a bit of my time. I found (and really like!) two exercises — Power Yoga (aka Vinyasa) and Jillian Michaels 30-Day Shred.

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How I Bid Farewell to Obesity

As a child, I super (AS IN SUPER) enjoyed eating. I loved rice with savory viand (sometimes, even for snack!), bread, chocolates, junk food, you name it! I was not always hungry but I liked tasting food ALL THE TIME. Okay, you have my permission to judge me. Haha. I  did not really care about my food choices because, duh, I was just a child! And why does junk food have to taste so good?! My parents also did not stop me from eating. They did warn me from time to time that I’m getting heavier, but they never hid food from me, never let me starve just to lose weight. I’ve never really posted a picture of me being overweight obese before. 

I was the biggest kid during the 2nd grade…

 …in the 3rd grade…

and in the 4th grade as well. O diba, undefeated! Haha

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The Long and Winding Road to M.D.

I’d lie if I tell you that not once during med school have I thought of why I am here, or questioned myself if I made the right decision. Because I did, more than once, to be honest. Despite these few moments of doubt, I always seem to get back on track and continue with what I have started. But, looking back to my old self eight years ago, I wish someone had told me what it really takes for one to get that “MD” on his name.

I am done with the second month (out of twelve) of clerkship aka 4th year med school aka “being at the bottom of the food chain.” But before I tell you how I feel as a clinical clerk, you may want to be enlightened how I got here. So here it goes…


1. Finish a pre-med course.

It was during the application period for universities when I thought I cannot be a Civil Engineer, said to myself that I did not want to be an accountant (although I was a “Mathlete” throughout high school… Okay, don’t start laughing! It was actually cool to be good with numbers! Haha), and decided that I wanted to become a doctor.

My parents are not doctors so I asked around and a lot of reliable people told me that BIOLOGY IS THE BEST pre-med course. So I took their advice like a good child. But what the heck, it is not the best pre-med course! You know what the actual best option is? NURSING! But maybe, there is no such thing as the best pre-med course because each one has its own pros and cons. However, if I am going to send my children to medical school in the future (don’t worry, I will not force them), I would definitely suggest BS Nursing. Nurses have a good grasp of the basics in the hospital setting. They know some things about the patients’ medications, and they are familiar with a lot of diseases.

Throwback to April 2012 during the University and College of Arts & Sciences graduation ceremonies. 

Then, you ask me, “What if you have a college degree not related to life sciences at all?” If that’s the case, then you can still become a doctor. I know of med students who are Engineering, Business Administration, Fine Arts, and Clothing Technology graduates. Some med schools may just require them to take some classes in Chemistry and Biology before they consider their application. The bottom line is, if you want to become a doctor, go get a college degree!

2. Take the National Medical Admission Test aka NMAT.

All medical schools require this for admission. I knew I was going to med school so I took the exam during college, around 3rd year – December 2010. This test can be taken during April or December each year. Know more about NMAT here.

NOTE: If one happens to be admitted to an Intarmed program (UP-PGH, for example), then he won’t need a college degree. It’s a program where only two years of pre-medical education (versus the usual four years) is required. But I do think intarmed students are still required to take the NMAT to be eligible to continue with med school proper.

3. Apply to medical schools, of course.

I sent application forms to three schools — UP-PGH, UERMMMCI, and PLM. I got interviewed in PGH but was not included in the final list. I got in to both UERM and PLM. Why I chose UERM, maybe this deserves a different blog entry or you may just ask me personally if you’re about to apply or in the process of choosing. This is a very crucial step because each med school has a different culture and approach on teaching students. As for me, since first year, I’ve always felt that going to UERM is one of the best decisions in my life!


While some of my high school friends were moving in to a new place for work, I was moving to Quezon City where UERM was located. Four years of Biology? Check! Now on to a new adventure; I was so excited! Then that summer before med school started, I went home to the province, people found out I would be taking Medicine, and the follow-up question was…

About the time: How many more years would it take until you become a doctor?

The simple answer to this question is FIVE YEARS. The slightly complicated version? The first two years was devoted to reading, lectures, and some group discussions. In third year, we got to see and interview patients, and examine them with consent. The fourth year is spent in the hospital as clinical clerks. For 365 days as clinical clerks, we have the opportunity to learn as much as we can about the patients, their diseases, diagnosis, and the appropriate management. After the 4th year, we’ll get our “Doctor of Medicine” aka MD diploma. However, in the Philippines, before you can legally practice as a physician, you need to have a one-year internship experience and then pass the board exam. So technically, you are a doctor after 5 years of hard work and a passing board exam score.

So you’ve got the time to spare for medical school. You’re fine if you don’t see your parents, friends, or lover regularly. But you ask, why won’t you get to spend time with them? Because you have to study! I didn’t know this was a legitimate reason to skip parties and meetings with friends until I became a medical student… But, aside from the time, what else do you need?

You have got to give a lot more than five years worth of your life.

About the right attitude: One has got to have the desire and determination to become a doctor. Or if you have parents who will drag you into medical school. Or both. Those who do it for themselves may find it easier to just swallow the things they’ve got to do or the materials they’ve got to read. Kasi nga, it was your choice. If anything goes wrong like failing an exam or the whole semester, you can’t blame it on your parents or other people. Just please, don’t do it for the pogi points.

After one of our small group discussions…

Med school becomes more fun when spent with crazy groupmates!

About the money: In contrast to Jesse J’s Price Tag, it IS about the money. To send someone to medical school is an investment, an expensive one. I did not come from a rich family, so imagine the horror when I found out that one semester costs 120K to 130K pesos. And that’s only for the tuition! It was a good thing that my school is generous enough to offer scholarship programs (academic and financial aid) to qualified students. Other medical schools in the Philippines also offer scholarship programs but maybe not as generous as UERM. Meanwhile, med students in UP-PGH only pay about 50K per sem while those in Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) pay between 10K to 70K per sem, depending on the student classification (based on academic standing and place of residency).

However, even with scholarship grants, med school still doesn’t come close to being cheap. You’d spend a lot of money for the gallons of coffee you’d drink, a hundred pieces of highlighter, stacks of bond papers, and liters of ink for printing. Add lodging and utility fees if you are not from Manila, just like me. Medicine really is an expensive path, no wonder why one consultation lasting for at least 10 minutes would cost about 500 pesos, or more!

I’m the type who can study in my room all day, with the help of instant or brewed coffee. But there are times, especially during exam week, when I can’t concentrate in my room anymore. So, I go out and it means spending so much on coffee!

I think this is the longest blog entry I have written so far. A lot has happened since I chose this path about seven or eight years ago. Medical school may have taken a lot from me — money, time, effort, and tears, but it is worth all of these sacrifices. I gained a lot of knowledge, experience, friends, and memories that money can’t buy. Also, I may be in my 4th year, but I know that I have a looong way to go. After board exam comes residency (three years for dermatology, five years for general surgery). So, how do I feel after two months of clerkship have passed? Grateful, that I have parents and family who are with me on this journey; and hopeful, that I may not get tired of the routine and continue to do and give my best in everything that I do.

So, who wants to be a doctor?

That acne, your self esteem, and the other things in between

Hola! Some of my friends have been wondering why I haven’t posted in a while. It’s a shame to admit this but I haven’t written a post these past few weeks because I’ve been breaking out since the start of clerkship. It’s like I have a pimple after another. The worst part is that each pimple tends to become pustular (read: kadiri, having pus or “nana”). I thought “nakakahiya naman” to write about skin care tips when I couldn’t even take good care of my own skin, or when my regimen doesn’t work for me anymore. I have the gene for instant pimple activation whenever I do not get enough sleep or during/near that time of the month. However, this is the first time for me to get this much acne and it’s actually been giving me some sort of stress.

So the thought about self esteem came to me, and I realized how physical appearance Continue reading

The truth about SPF

Whenever I had to buy sunscreen for the beach, I always found myself lost in translation. All I saw were bottles with different numbers on them — SPF 20, SPF 30, SPF 50, and so on. I just want my skin to be protected, why is everything so complicated?!

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How to maximize your visit to the dermatologist

Some people may go to their dermatologist regularly, but there are a lot who only visit their skin doctor whenever they are having an acne breakout, i.e. when the good old anti-acne cream is not working anymore. I actually consult a dermatologist only once or twice in a year!

In reality, the key to make the most out of your visit (and money!) to your doctor would be to ASK QUESTIONS! Your doctor is always there to answer your questions with the best of her/his ability. The challenge for a patient might be to think of the right questions to ask. This post is here to help you! I listed some pointers to help you formulate the right things to ask your “derma” on your next visit. You’re welcome!

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