This article written by Cary Amiel G. Villanueva (UPCM Class 2017) was originally published via UP Medics.
Long before Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were around, there were blogs.
Blogging has been in existence for over a decade. Originally online repositories of personal thoughts and experiences, blogs have evolved to cover a range of topics from news and reviews to guides and how-to’s. There’s a blog for nearly every topic there is.
Medicine is no exception. Last month, the college’s Medical Informatics Unit chief Dr. Iris Thiele Isip-Tan was recognized in Bloggys 2015 for her blog “The Endocrine Witch” (http://www.endocrine-witch.net). She won Best Blog Post for “Why does self-diagnosis annoy doctors?” in addition to the People’s Choice Award in the Health and Fitness Category.
MEDICS spoke with some UP Medicine students on the blogosphere to give you a rounds of their online spaces.
Vincen Gregory Y. Yu (Class 2016)
Vincen Without a T – http://vincengregorii.blogspot.com
Like many who have been bitten by the “blogging bug” in the mid-2000s, Vincen started his in 2008 during his senior year in high school. “The blog was just a diary back then, to document the remainder of my high school experience. I was talking about my teachers using code names. You can still read those entries in my archives.”
A Palanca awardee for Kabataan Sanaysay, Vincen considers writing to be “second nature”. “I’d be a journalist if I weren’t a doctor,” he says. While his writing experience includes fiction and poetry (with some poems being included in publications abroad), nowadays his blog posts are largely movie and theater reviews.
“Not a lot of that diary stuff since clerkship started. I guess my blog is now more of a theater and film blog, with some bits of med school in it,” explains Vincen who is a Philippine Daily Inquirer theater critic since 2012.
Ahmad Sampang Musahari (Class 2017)
Ahmad Hajiri (formerly Anakiluh, MD) – http://www.ahmadhajiri.blogspot.com
Hailing proudly from Jolo, Sulu, Ahmad has been blogging in 2009. “It started as an online journal after winning a university wide essay contest,” he shares. His blog features personal stories, facts about his hometown as well as experiences in medical school.
Being written from the perspective of a young Muslim medical student makes Ahmad’s posts an interesting read. Every now and then he explains Islamic practices and beliefs such as Ramadan and Eidul Adha for non-Muslims. He also writes tutorials on Bahasa Sug, the Tausug language, on Tausug 101 (http://www.tausug101.blogspot.com).
Ahmad aspires to become a renowned writer in the future. “I consider blogging as my training ground for my bigger career [sic]”. Apart from writing, he is also into photography.
Ourlad Alzeus “Lads” G. Tantengco (Class 2020)
Doktor Doktor Lads – http://doktordoktorlads.blogspot.com
Lads was inspired to write while taking a course on Malikhaing Pagsusulat (creative writing) during his pre-med years. “Naisip ko na mas mainam kung maibabahagi ko ang aking mga akda kaya ako lumikha ng blog.” (I thought it would be good to share my works so I decided to make a blog.)
Aside from his med school experiences, Lads writes largely about his passion for children’s books by Filipino authors. “Ginagawa ko ito upang makahikayat ng mga magulang at mga bata na magbasa [nang] magbasa. Tulong na rin upang malaman ng iba ang mayaman na panitikang pamabata ng Pilipinas.” (I do this to encourage parents at children to read. It also helps others to know about the richness of Philippine children’s literature.) He has written his own children’s stories as well as poems in Tagalog.
“Kapag walang professors sa klase madalas ay nagsusulat ako. Kapag wala na akong maintindihan sa mga lectures, madalas ay nakapagsusulat ako ng tula” (When the professor’s not around for class, I often get to write. When I don’t understanding from the lectures, I write poems), the MD-PhD student shares. “Mainam din kasi itong pangtanggal ng pagod mula sa pag-aaral.” (It’s also a good way of relaxing from studying.)
Lads also wants to use blogging to promote health education among Filipinos. “Gusto kong gamitin ang wikang Filipino sa pagsusulat ng tungkol sa mga benepisyong medikal ng mga prutas o gulay o kaya naman ay mga karaniwang sakit.” (I want to use Filipino in writing about the health benefits of fruits and vegetables as well as common diseases.)
Karla Mae A. Cruzado (Class 2018)
Medical School Road Trip – http://medicalschoolroadtrip.blogspot.com
Writing things down helps us not to forget. “I was thinking about how I did not want my time in medical school to merely pass. I tried to think of a way to record my journey so that in the future I’ll have something to look back to.” That was how Karla decided to put up a blog in the months before she entered medical school.
The title of her blog reflects what you’ll find on her site. Aside from documenting her experiences, she also writes guides such as for taking the National Medical Admission Test (NMAT) and applying for medical school. “I try to think about what other medical students or pre-med students would like to read.”
Karla has taken inspiration from other medical students and physicians who blog. “For me [blogging is] also a way to practice communication through writing, and an outlet of creativity,” she says.
Mary Amie Gelina “Angeli” E. Dumatol (Class 2017)
the angel takes flight || spread those wings – https://theangeltakesflight.wordpress.com
A novelist currently interested in the young adult genre, Angeli has been blogging as early as grade school. She shares her motivation: “The idea of having some part of cyberspace to call my own was what initially attracted me to blogging, and I’ve been enjoying the perks of having such ever since then.”
Her present blog features both her personal stories as well as her literary work – poetry, short stories, flash fiction and essays. “I write about memorable life experiences. I write about overwhelming thoughts, feelings and realizations. I write about things that made an impact on me (and may potentially make an impact on other people too),” the former MEDICS Editor-in-Chief explains.
An aspiring surgeon, Angeli hopes her writing can help future medical students. “I’ve always thought that the life and times of a doctor-to-be deserve all the chronicling it can get. Putting it all up on a blog makes it so other medical students would be able to read and through such posts, maybe they’ll realize that they’re not so alone in this difficult journey.”
Already having published three novels, she is working on her fourth (the first to be written in Filipino) among other things. And she has no plans of stopping. “At this point, writing has become such an essential part of my life and a part of my person that I cannot see myself not writing any time soon, be it in the form of a blog, a novel, a story, a poem, or an essay.”
Ella Mae I. Masamayor (Class 2018)
Thought Process: When Life Gets You Thinking – https://ellathinksaloud.wordpress.com/
At the age of 6 or 7, Ella was already writing in a journal or diary. Her medium changed in her sophomore year of high school when she started a blog like her classmates. “I am a strong believer in storytelling and sharing ideas,” she says. “I believe some stories just need to be told and shouldn’t be hidden away or forgotten forever.”
One will find on her blog many verses about love and relationships as well as thoughts on life experiences. “I write a lot about my thoughts and emotions, realizations I gather from my own life. I don’t mean to, but I tend to write a lot about love/romance, career, med school life, reaching for your dreams,” she shares.
For Ella, blogging is not only a means of self-expression but also of reflection. “Blogging also allows me to introspect on my own life and [it] keeps me grounded on where I am.”
Marianne Adrielle Tiongson (Class 2019)
med school panacea – https://medschoolpanacea.wordpress.com/
While many have been blogging for quite some time already, newcomers are not missing. “I’ve been dreaming of blogging for years now but I never seem to have the courage to publish one,” shares Marianne who finally made this a reality early this semester.
“I write about striking moments like encounters with patients, the perspective of a med school student on different events, and random moments that leave a lasting mark on me as a medical student,” the debater from Mindanao explains.
Marianne recognizes the “cathartic effects of self-expression” that comes with writing. Aside from posting online, she often finds herself scribbling poems “even unconsciously on trances and paper napkins of coffee shops”. Writing for her serves as “an outlet for every single thing you have to take in… [Writing] is what keeps me sane.”
So what brings so many medical students to blog? The bloggers MEDICS spoke with all share a desire to write and to share their stories. Writing serves many purposes for these young authors and versifiers, journalists and fictionists: It allows them to channel creativity and find rest, and also helps others to learn from their experiences.
What about those interested in following suit? “[Write] about what you love and write in the way that only you can,” Angeli advises. “Don’t write to gain online popularity. Don’t write for the likes/favorites/shares. Those things will follow eventually,” she adds.
“I advise you keep your blogs to a particular theme,” says Ahmad referring to how many blogs tend to address certain “niches”. Karla also suggests learning a bit about blogging as a first step. “Googling ‘How to start a blog’ might help.”
How will blogging fit in the life of a medical student? “Your time is what you make of it,” says Vincen who is an intern at the Philippine General Hospital. “There’s a time to study and play doctor, and a time to write, and a time to see great films, and a time to go the theater. Be a doctor who’s not just a doctor – that, I believe, is the UP doctor.”
Excerpts of the interview with the writers behind these medical student blogs are found here.