Twenty-five.

In the future I might look back to my 25th year of life, and I will always remember: I spent more than half of it in quarantine. Not the seclusion of the sick or the studious, but the quarantine of a government defined by inaction and deliberate negligence.

I will remember months of becoming intimately familiar with the four corners of my bedroom. This place was my safe space from 36-hour duties and long days of medical school. These days, this room is my everything.

Contrasts and dreams

When I celebrated my 24th birthday, and even when we stepped down from our New Years’ trip in Japan, I remember having many hopes for 2020. What an auspicious-sounding year.

I wanted to prepare for my future. I had a planner I was still figuring out (now gathering dust). My medical school career was nearing its end. I wanted to take better care of my family and of myself, especially after getting seriously sick earlier this year. I wanted to visit more art museums. I wanted to finally go back to Hotel Jen, or to visit my friends in other provinces, and to bring my mom and sister to Sip and Gogh. My family had a flight booked to Thailand for April.

Instead, I learned many other things. How to connect to the world with only just the Internet, how to bake bread, how to cook breakfasts, how to exercise for days on end and how to not exercise for weeks more. How to physically touch only the same three people. How to swallow everything the government is failing to do. How to celebrate my birthday online.

When you think about it, birthdays are really just regular days. We assign special meaning to it to celebrate people and relationships. Without this pandemic, I probably wouldn’t have thought much about it. But the lack of options chafed. It’s a contrast. How do we go from celebrating with dinner parties, or trips abroad, or staycations, to celebrating with only takeout food and zoom?

Silver linings

I have the privilege to write this post today because our classes got cancelled. So I also have the privilege of going to a school that understands the burden of typhoon Ulysses (we still don’t have access to water as I write this, but at least the electricity came back early).

I’m writing this to remember a milestone I hope will never be repeated. Somehow next year will be a lot better. It has to be. And I’m also writing this post to be thankful for the ways we’ve learned to adapt and survive. It is never ideal, but it is heartening. Despite everything, my birthday was fun.

Someday, a bored gen Z student or enterprising journalist or tired historian will write down everything wrong that went down in 2020 –the eruption of Taal, the overt corruption of the health system, the stranded seafarers and muddled quarantine rules, the fucking Dolomite beach, and the several city-flooding, home-wrecking typhoons arriving in quick succession. But just for this one moment, I’ll write about something good.


First of all, the wonders of Shopee PH will never cease to amaze. Before the quarantine, our source of affordable party balloons used to be divisoria. Now I can just add to cart. Also, my mom is a gracious goddess for waving away the things I (justifiably) buy. Finally — as I said, a birthday is just a day. But it can be a very happy day.
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My sister’s first gift!! (I really asked for a Tefal non-stick pan, but it hasn’t arrived… or been ordered… I’m not really sure). I spent 8 months without eating anything from Jollibee (unbelievable, I know).
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And because we’re interns, there’s no such thing as a free day or a free weekend. We got off very lightly though, thanks to luck of the rotation schedule. I also had the pleasure of spending it with these precious people. (Being groupmates with them this rotation is really interesting. It’s the first time I’ve ever properly talked to … almost all of them. Haha.) Bonus! Doc Reza is one of the best and most understanding teaching consultants in ASMPH.
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You can still send good vibes and experience hilarious intergenerational hijinks through a zoom call. Fact.
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Lunch was almost a bit of a miss because I under-ordered food (I was way too conscious of the price of Japanese food, even though my mom was obviously paying for everything). But it was delicious and still filling, and that’s what counts! Also it was good Japanese. Thanks Omakase.
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As a casual fan of the original Transformers live action trilogy (or whatever you call it), I can’t believe I never watched Bumblebee until last weekend! It was a good movie. The visual effects were seamless, the acting was great, and Bumblebee was an absolute BABY. Apparently this movie has a 91% rating on RT. Deserved!
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After probably more than month (I’ve lost track of time), we finally saw our bro and big sis again!!! They came all the way from Taguig and risked infection (or something) by actually dining with us this time. No more curfew. They brought my fave cheesecake to top off the delicious dinner prepared by my mom and Ate Risa (garlic and shrimp aglio olio, crispy pata, some leftover rolled veggies, etc).
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It was just a really good day. And yes, I am wearing a top crocheted by mom.
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As you might have noticed, all these photos came directly from my Instagram stories. I’m still part of the masses enjoying that shopping and microinfluencer-infested site. Follow me there. Or something.

Twenty-five. This makes me a proper adult now, right? (Even in a conservative Asian setting). Back in high school a lot of my teachers were aged 25 or so… Time is weird. I feel more or less an adult, more or less a doctor. Still a student.

I’ll write about my experiences through the different online rotations someday soon (maybe later). Until then, stay as safe as humanly possible! 💖

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Monch Weller says:

    Belated Happy Birthday! 😀

    1. jari m says:

      Thank you so much 💖

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