Frustrations and questions: my MINT9 experience

For some people, the 9th Manila Intervarsity was like any other debate tournament. It may have been slower than most, and there may have been some delays, but when haven’t there been delays? They’re part and parcel of the local tournament experience.

Not so, if you’re behind the scenes and seeing how things actually fuck up monumentally. Since this is a safe space –though naturally nothing in the Internet is safe, I plead to your humanity to reserve judgement on me–, I’d like to vent and hypothetically cry.

Disclaimer: I carry part of the blame.

And for my readers out there who don’t understand what I’m saying or who don’t know how collegiate debate works, skip this post. I’ve got happier things to post about in the future. Or maybe treat this post as an extended, unanswered MBA case.

MINT OrgComm
the mint9 fam! minus people who went to lb/thesis work/etc

Frustration #1. The Basics of Adjudicating.

I’ve always wanted to be an adjudicator. Not gonna lie, it was a dream of mine to enter a debate room, Starbucks in hand, ready to pass rational judgment on the hopes of would-be champions. Naturally, my Starbucks had already melted by the time Round 1 of MINT began, but the rest could have still applied without any trouble. I was excited. It took me literal years before UPMDC trusted me with decision-making (joke lang pls).

But I think my positive valuation of the “adj career” or “adj track” is rarer than I’d like. I feel like people put more premium on being a debater, as if there’s a clear hierarchy to the myriad of ways humanity can express complex thought. And this perception has led to a less-than-competitive adj pool.

When we, as the Adj Core, first saw the CVs of the people judging the tournament, we were vaguely worried. There were only 22 or so people with solid resumes to their names. The rest were functional novices. We said, okay. Let’s have a short adj briefing to get everyone acclimatized. A good and competitive adj pool makes a tournament healthy.

During the two-hour delay to the start of Day 1, we had enough time to give an adj briefing and ask for any questions. Naturally, we only got one or two questions and not much else.

Rules of collegiate debating that should have been cemented in people’s minds include:

  • Giving a speaker score within the range of 67 to 83
  • Giving a reply speaker score within the range of 33.5 to 41.5
  • Not giving low-point wins
  • Averaging the score of the panel, excluding the scores of the minority
  • If there was a 2-man panel, the score of the Chair would be doubled
  • Voting as a panel, instead of giving a consensus
  • It’s okay to use a calculator and scratch paper

It is sombering to note that all of these mistakes were evident in Round 1, and some (like the speaker range) extended up to Round 3. By Round 2, reports were coming in of judges having a consensus. And sometimes, it’s not even about clearcut mistakes. How is it possible that a single speaker, seen through the eyes of three different adjudicators in the same round, get such drastically different scores, ranging from a 74 to an 80? Where’s the credibility in that?

Is it possible that our current adjudicators have different rules when they train, and that’s why our tournament rules were so hard to follow? Isn’t it necessarily standardized by the national tournaments in every season?

Problems like these could be fixed if people would just ask. But apparently there were reports that both runners and the tab team would demand for the minority score (apparently it is needed by the system, though it is really irrelevant to the grand scheme of things), confusing the ballot even further.

Would simple communication have solved this better?

Looking back, I think that’s where I failed. I should have included everyone, including the Tab Team, into the adj briefing, instead of assuming that everyone would follow the standard tournament rules. I should have also thought of a contingency. But as someone whose last experience in organizing a tournament was the 8th MINT, I quite forgot that such errors could even exist.

Frustration #2. No Checks.

In the busy scheme of things, as an individual, it’s easy to overlook one thing over the other. When it’s a team of people, however, you’d expect someone to speak out when something’s obviously wrong.

But there wasn’t anything of the sort. The reason why we dropped the tab system mid-tournament, and later the reason why the Adj Core manually backtabbed the tournament Saturday night, was because of persisting irregularities in the existing tab.

After we announced the adj breaks in front of everyone –at 9 or 10PM– we looked at the team breaks and had to stop after announcing the first breaking team. There was a 130 point difference between the total speaker scores of the first breaking team and the second. No matter how you slice it, that wasn’t possible.

We eventually found the final team ranks to be different from their initial ranking, at literally every point.

And I remember wondering why no one bothered to correct the input of grades beyond the 67 to 83 range. I looked at the current tab and saw that some formulas didn’t include the reply speeches. I was so mad. How could anyone accept these scores as legitimate? Now we had to scramble to correct before the announcement of breaks.

I wondered, hysterically laughing, why it became my responsibility to call up judges at 12AM Saturday night, asking what they meant by a reply speaker score of 32. I wondered why we had to call up Chairs and panelists, asking for an explanation to their mistakes. Thank god there was pizza.

It was also only during this backtabbing that we belatedly found that some teams gave ‘1’ to their adjudicators, raising a conflict. I had to thank the stars no one received a judge they already conflicted the round before, by sheer luck and happenstance.

And was it even possible to catch some mistakes? Recently a team raised a concern –they were supposed to have won the third round, since that was what everyone in the room, debaters and adjudicators alike, knew. Everyone, that is, except the ballot, which they incorrectly filled out by switching the team and speaker names between Aff and Neg. How can a mistake like this happen? Did both teams fill it out, realizing nothing was wrong? Did the judges not notice at all? Was this a mistake I could have caught? Anyone?

What’s frustrating is that even with my background in editing and spreadsheets, I’m not a machine, and neither are the rest of the Adj Core or Jeca. It feels like a cop out to say that I was neither trained nor prepared for manual tabbing. But it was past midnight after a long day. This meant that there would be mistakes, and even up to my third backtabbing I might still find an error (see Disclaimer). And I’m so, so sorry to everyone that were disenfranchised by my mistakes.

I’m trying to look for a silver lining.

Good Things #1. The Adj Core.

But I can safely say that this Adj Core –Andrei, Gino, Jason and Reine– is the best Adj Core I’ve ever been with. Naturally, it’s my first time being part of an Adj Core. I thought we were doing so well when we finished all motion sets two days in advance of the tournament.

There’s also something to be said about trying to rationalize mistakes in the dead of the night that just breaks all the ice. They’re like new friends! Who I’ve known before! I think.

Good Things #2. The OrgComm.

There were so many constraints to the competition, the first being the giant sinkhole in UP Manila. I’m incredibly proud of the OrgComm for pushing through, though there were necessary risks and costs. Bless us that there weren’t any more serious traffic accidents.

Thank you for the cake. I’ve been comforting myself with Mary Grace ever since.

And naturally thank you to my friends –Maryan, Jeca, Mort– who aren’t necessarily part of the OrgComm, but who were there when it counted. Specifically in The Shitstorm version ???.

Good Things #3. The Rounds and the People.

I did like the motions (duh). And more importantly, I’m heartened by the people who say that the motion sets were good. I sincerely hope you lot weren’t just paying us lip service.

Congratulations, naturally, to the winners and top contenders of this tournament. Every year, the novices get better and better. (Seriously, during my MINT novice year, I wasn’t anywhere near their caliber.)

In the end, the Manila Intervarsity had always been envisioned as a tournament that would bridge the gap between older and younger generations. Whatever the case, I feel like we did accomplish that in many respects. There’s nothing like trial by fire and injustice to light the passion and keep it burning.

how am i in the same category as these people rip


I look forward to more efforts to generate more efficient tournaments on the parts of everyone. Maybe this would mean a community which values adjudicators and tournament briefings, debaters who would more carefully wield their power to score judges and who would be more careful in filling out ballots, judges who would stay within the range and calculate responsibly, and tab teams that would more closely align with the tournament and would come prepared with contingency plans.

For now, I’m looking forward to tomorrow, this weekend, and this summer. And also to the baby I’ll be greeting tomorrow in the labour room (assuming I wake up on time!)

Is this the most condescending, self-affirming post you’ve ever seen? Unfortunately I am tired enough to be unapologetic.

Officially signing out until some other error crops up,



This has been a scheduled post.

ArtLit, Blog

Art Exhibit: Figura Filipina

February 25 – March 5. When you don’t have time to go to art exhibits, the art exhibits go to you.

Distinct art styles showcased by three figurative artists of the Philippines: MananQuil, Santiago and Miranda

I was surprised to find a small open exhibit in the activity area of Robinsons Galleria a few days ago. The paintings were focused on showcasing Filipino women in various contexts. Three artists were featured: Romi MananQuil, Nemi Miranda and August Santiago.

The thematic focus on Filipino women is very timely. We are celebrating International Women’s month, the passage of the extended maternity leave bill, and the progression of the Anti-Discrimination Bill. In the same breath, we are still fighting for equal and rational basic human rights. 

I wrote a short poetic reinterpretation on the struggles of Filipinos and women few days ago. 

“Figura Filipina”, an Art Exhibition for the benefit of the Art Association of Malabon

Many of the paintings were painted very recently (i.e. signed 2017). What’s great about the pieces of art is that they highlight the unique merits of each artist’s style. I also had a bit of time to review the exhibit itself.

I do regret not being able to properly label my photos with the title of the works. Miranda’s work in the first photo, for example, had a title that alluded to “The First Sin” or something similar. The title and other external elements like framing really do affect one’s interpretation of the work. Maybe you’ll catch this exhibit near you some time and you’ll be able to fully experience the art yourself.

Continue reading “Art Exhibit: Figura Filipina”

ArtLit, Blog, Essays

“Kasumpa-sumpa ang maging Pilipino sa panahong ito…”

In the library of Philippine feminist works, there is a poem that reads:

ang maging babae sa panahong ito:
Depinisyong pamana
ng nakaraa’t kasalukuyan…
Anong pag-ibig o pagpapakasakit?
Anong paglilingkod o pagtitiis?
Ikaw ang pundiya ng karsonilyo,
ang kurbata, maging ang burda sa panyo’t kamiseta.
Susukatin ang ganda mo sa kama,
ang talino sa pagkita ng pera.
Kumikita ang beer at sine,
nagdidildil ka ng pills…

Ruth E. S. Mabanglo’s “Ang Maging Babae” captures the frustrations of an oppressed identity. And in times like these –with an administration that boasts of crucifying the opposition, a legislature that’s scrambling to legalize discrimination, and a people that prefers alternative facts to reason– it is easy to replace “woman” with “Filipino”.

ang maging Pilipino sa panahong ito:
Depinisyong pamana
ng nakaraa’t kasalukuyan…

Continue reading ““Kasumpa-sumpa ang maging Pilipino sa panahong ito…””


Tutorial 28: how to remember the branches of the internal iliac artery

“A final note, added in revision: some sources refer to two trunks or divisions of the internal iliac artery: a posterior trunk that gives rise to the iliolumbar, lateral sacral, and superior gluteal arteries, and an anterior trunk that gives rise to everything else. If that’s what your professor tells you, smile and nod and keep your heretical thoughts to yourself. Personally, I regard the notion of trunks of the internal iliac artery alongside phlogiston, luminiferous aether, and snorkeling sauropods, as romantic nonsense at best.” HAHA! True!

Sauropod Vertebra Picture of the Week

Internal Iliac Arteries - MJW 2011

Here’s a thing I put together to help my students understand the many branches of the internal iliac artery in humans. In the image above, we’re looking in superomedial view into the right half of the sacrum and pelvis. Bones are white, ligaments blue, the piriformis muscle sort of meat-colored, and arteries red (for a tour of the pelvis identifying all of this stuff, see my pelvic foramina slideshow). At the top is a big inverted Y-shape: the common iliac arteries branching from the abdominal aorta, which continues on, much reduced, as the median sacral artery. The right common iliac artery is shown bifurcating into the external iliac artery, which continues on out of the pelvis to become the femoral artery, and the internal iliac artery, source of much fear and doubt.

The first thing to understand is that any particular branching pattern of the internal iliac arteries, whether…

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ArtLit, Blog


Another year of art, wine and life. A dump of my favorite picks. (Favorites from last year and from some other time.)

Art x Politics

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Textures and Colours

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(things that remind me of med school)

Continue reading “#ArtFairPH2017”


Newt’s Suitcase! (Stationery Set)

No nifflers were harmed in the making of this post.

I was going through my things a couple of days ago* and I found this gem:


It’s Newt Scamander’s Suitcase (of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them fame)! My brother gave me this stationery set last Christmas –thank you, bro. I have something to write about.

Newt Scamander: Deluxe Stationery Set was released by Insight Editions. The same publisher also came out with other Harry Potter-themed stationery: HP journals (Slytherin, Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hogwarts and Deathly Hallows), FBAWTFT journals (Newt Scamander, Obliviate, City Skyline, MACUSA), and Deluxe Stationery Sets (Gryffindor, Hogwarts and Slytherin).**

I can’t believe they don’t offer Hufflepuff-themed stationery??? What a shame.

Honestly, I’d say the best thing about the set is the box. Yes. The whole thing comes in this sweet magnet-flap leatheresque box with a cute “muggle-worthy” detail.


Continue reading “Newt’s Suitcase! (Stationery Set)”


In Pictures: And Here We Have 87 Glittering National Costumes of Miss Universe!

Miss Universe has been entertaining me the last few days. I still haven’t watched the National Costumes Event on YT, but it’s queued up! (Why am I not studying?)

Best costumes imo, in alphabetical order:
(Best = unique, eye-catching, representative)
1. Argentina
2. British Virgin Islands
3. Czech Republic
4. Dominican Republic!!
5. Ecaudor
6. India
7. Indonesia
8. Myanmar
9. Panama
10. Philippines
11. Thailand
12. Singapore
13. Sri Lanka
14. Venezuela
15. Vietnam!!
I am South East Asian trash! Haha.
And I feel like I need to comment on the costumes of Austria, Canada, Israel, Germany, Malaysia, Netherlands, Sweden… they took the word “costume” to heart.

The Kaleidoscope of Pageantry

Miss Universe 2016: National Costume Round

Every country has a glorious past and stories untold, and to bring those untold stories in a glorified way is the task of the beauty queen when she is representing her country in the most accomplished platform of the world, the Miss Universe pageant.

After a power packed swimsuit and evening gown preliminary competition, the eighty seven delegates competing for the ultimate title of Miss Universe showcased their country’s rich ethnicity and culture via their grand and uniquely carved national costumes. So what are we waiting for, let’s have a look at the beautiful National Costumes-

Miss Universe 2016 will be the 65th edition of Miss Universe pageant. Miss Universe 2016 is slated to take place on January 30, 2017 in Manila, Philippines. This year more than 80 countries will compete for the title of Miss Universe 2016, hoping to be crowned by Pia…

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ArtLit, Blog

basket of angry and mute kittens

silence speaks nothing --

To be consumed by words until they come stumbling out, 
arranged and resonant, 
unwilling to bow to the closure of strict lips. What is that? Where is it-- 
I've written copies, and rallies, and letters YET none of the words 
that reside in me have my heart, and I'm---


I've never known fear like 
the fear that I have of the words inside me. I don't know what they look like. 
Amorphous, greedy, vicious things
I fear that if I write, if I speak, if in another sentence I play out a new stanza, 
If I dare
I fear the truth will come out. WHAT DO I LOOK LIKE HONEST good lord

I fear the truth of --loneliness?-- frustration, listlessness. A cacophony of longing 
that has no name and no purpose; I can feel everything raging under my skin 
like a quiet storm, a knot in a maze in a forest
woosh woosh woosh 
Outside the wild listlessness 
fades into a practiced nonchalance. Words can't unravel if the words 
are too honest, and all my letters are honest. I keep them in.

Through a mirror: I am indifferent, and silent, and sleepy. whispers

I fear that the who that I built outside will be consumed by the monsters 
that are growing in the peripheries! 
shades drawn, battle lines marked 
fighting myself by burning the war
suffocate drown and asphyxiate my self

Another lie, another half-truth. statement
I fear what I have in me; I fear that there is nothing in me at all. 

What if I can't write or paint or speak because there are 
no monsters in the deep?
No colors in the wind, no female mysteries, no hysteric soliloquies 
A new model! An automaton of motions, everything but nothing at the same time
Outrageous for the price of fun:
number not available!!!

Motions upon motions
Unfeigned confusion
"           "
relaxation, elevation, escalation

In what scenario will I start to write the entries that define my meaning:
Denial death dusk depressed
by myself

Shut up! Stop! Speaking! BE SILENT be silent be silent be silent 
until the silence starts screaming
without me


This isn’t a cry for help. It’s a………………n exercise in trying to write again OTL. And I wrote this earlier while eating in Market Basket! Good shrimp and good salmon!

In other news, my sister’s in Korea (and I gave her a cool list of things to buy for me). I’m still here, not studying for my GIN exam on Tuesday. :o

I want to write about so many other things: how much I’m following Miss Universe, how I loved our graded physical examination earlier this week, how I’ve got secrets piled upon secrets. Some other time.




Intraperitoneal organs and Retroperitoneal organs

Confessions of a Medical Student

For the Intraperitoneal organs remember SALTD SPRSS (Pronounced Salted Spursss):

S = Stomach

A = Appendix

L = Liver

T = Transverse colon

D = duodenum (only the 1st part, though)

S = Small intestines

P = Pancreas (only the tail though)

R = Rectum (only the upper 3rd)

S = Sigmoid colon

S = Spleen

For retroperitoneal, just remember SADPUCKER:

S = suprarenal glands

A = Aorta and IVC

D = Duodenum (all but the 1st part)

P = Pancreas (all but the tail)

U = Ureter and bladder

C = Colon (ascending and descending)

K = Kidneys

E = Esophagus

R = Rectum (Lower two-thirds)

For secondarily retroperitoneal remember ‘Pussy Cat Dolls“:

P = Pancreas

C = Colon (only ascending and descending)

D = Duodenum (only parts 2-4)

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ArtLit, Blog

I’m now a figure skating fan (thanks to anime)

My holiday break could be defined simply: unproductive, probably fattening, and also consumed by this groundbreaking popular anime called Yuri!!! On Ice.


Plot summary After suffering a crushing defeat during the Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final and other failed showings at other skating competitions, Yuri Katsuki develops mixed feelings about ice skating and puts his career on hiatus, going to college in Detroit and later returning to his hometown of Hasetsu in Kyushu. He visits his childhood friend Yuko at an ice rink known as “Ice Castle Hasetsu” and perfectly mimics an advanced skating routine performed by famous Russian figure skater Victor Nikiforov, who is Yuri’s idol. When secretly recorded footage of Yuri’s performance is uploaded to the internet, it catches the attention of Victor, who travels to Kyushu and offers to coach Yuri and restart his figure skating career. Together with Victor, Yuri aims to win the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating series as he battles against his rival, Yuri Plisetsky, a 15-year-old rising star skater from Russia.

In my humble opinion, this anime has taken the figure skating world by storm. Famous figure skaters like Evgenia Medvedeva and our very own Michael Martinez have professed to being fans; and now droves of figure skating newbies like me are following the sport as it goes. And for good reason.

It’s hard to define what makes Yuri!! On Ice so special. It’s well-written, true, and the animation of the key skating routines is breathtaking. Maybe it’s in the characters and their relationships (which, to be fair, is the heart of almost any anime). Maybe it’s in the showcase of both racial and sexual diversity.

Yuri!!! On Ice is a story of how people can gain confidence and love for themselves in the face of crippling anxiety and self-doubt. It’s a story of how success can sometimes drive depression and isolation, and how relationships can bloom through adversity. It’s a story of life and love.

how YOI kind of changed my life, aka I am now following this sport

Continue reading “I’m now a figure skating fan (thanks to anime)”