Broken paddle inventures..

in Medicine/Social Media by

“Why do you blog?” A friend asked. “A way of screaming out loud ideas in this world?” He continued. “Popularity?”

“Will it put food on the table? Will your essays and discourses put people into action?” He goes further . ” Will it even be beneficial to anyone or even  to yourself?”

I was silent, concocting some answers. “Have you told anyone about your story?” I shot back at him. “My what, story?!  Well yes, partly but I thinks it’s not even worth telling!” He jokingly answered. “Even telling yourself about your story?” I replied back, half jokingly. “Why would I tell my story to myself ? Thats dumb!”.

Silence. But I got him into thinking.

“My friend. If your story is not even worth telling to others or even yourself, you haven’t live your life enough yet to write about yourself”…

In a sense who you are has always been a story that you told to yourself. Now your self is a story that you tell to others. -Geoff Ryman-Author, Paradise Tales and Other Stories

In all the years I’ve been writing online (and before that, on yellow paper) I rarely bothered analyzing the  “driving force” behind my compulsion to write and in recent years, blog. I probably wouldn’t find a comfortable answer. Or maybe, I just don’t care. For me, whatever it is, for as long as I’m writing, I am happy. Until a recent experience brought me to terms with myself.

Let me share a story, my story, to wangle answers.

In one recent adventure, I  was asked to paddle and maneuver an out triggered canoe, in and out of a mangrove forest, to an island where a 360 view deck of mangrove (Bakhaw in the local dialect) forest awaits.  I’m with a fisherman co-pilot with me, serving as a guide as I traverse the vast mangrove forest.

Mangroves are various types of trees up to medium height and shrubs that grow in saline coastal sediment habitats in the tropics and subtropics – mainly between latitudes 25° N and 25° S. The word is used in at least three senses: (1) most broadly to refer to the habitat and entire plant assemblage or mangal, for which the terms mangrove forest biome, mangrove swamp and mangrove forest are also used, (2) to refer to all trees and large shrubs in the mangrove swamp, and (3) narrowly to refer to the mangrove family of plants, the Rhizophoraceae, or even more specifically just to mangrove trees of the genus Rhizophora.

I’m fairly good at swimming, but I paddled a banca alone only several times in the past. I had a traumatic, near death experience with paddling an out triggered, small sized banca in the past. Our boat capsized and my two companions almost drowned in the middle of a channel. Over all though, I’m comfortable in these types of outdoor challenges, having survived a few other more dangerous situations as a result of my wanton risk- taking habit.

So on with this adventure challenge…

After just ten meters of paddling from the launch site, my paddle snapped, breaking into pieces with the handle bar – shaft severed from the blade. Despite it being newly built from a kiln dried tree, the paddle broke at the junction of the outer cambium layer and the hardwood.

I’ll be damned! I was already picturing out me idiotically paddling out into the mangroves in a dreamy- idyllic fashion. Then the snap. The boat slowed, I stopped paddling, my copilot stopped paddling. He was observing me. I was observing myself. The flight or fight adrenaline pumped in and I began to figure out scenarios and survival plans. I vividly remember the boating-turned-survival swimming that me and friends went into many years ago.

My first reaction is to curse at my dreadful luck. Drowning from a broken paddle is a long shot, but paddling with a broken paddle exhausting!

Then came the posit of trivial dichotomies. What shall I do? What if?  Shall I proceed or shall I turn back and ask for help. Questions, in which the only true answer is the one you chose. You only get to experience your choice or answer.

Survival experts have taught us to be calm first and then assess your situation next.  So I tried composing myself and assessed the “environment” with this dumb question.

“Na-a bay bu-aya dinhi sa bakhawan nong?” (Are there crocodiles in these mangrove?) I asked the boatman in the local dialect. “Wala uy!?” (No there’s none!),  he half jokingly retorted.

I laughed, more to relax myself and the other,  to befit my seemingly idiotic predicament. Panicking, just because you broke your paddle is seriously idiotic for a self professed outdoor guy like me.  So I laughed.

Another banca have overtaken us. “Can you continue paddling with that blade alone?” Asked the boatman. “Sure!” I said. Reassuring myself than the boatman. I started paddling with a paddle blade alone, without knowing how long can I sustain moving the boat forward. On the way I asked fishermen if they have extra paddles I can borrow. None. Fishermen rarely bring an extra paddle I thought.

Their extra paddle is themselves.

I continued paddling to my destination while laboriously figuring out escape plans in the event of emergencies. This preoccupation to surviving, of figuring out ways to survive in case something happens (even if there’s 99.9% chance of it not happening) turned me away to what I’m supposed to be doing inside this “forest”. I forgot to slow down. I forgot to “listen”. Heck, I forgot to even take pictures. I crammed my mind to surviving but never really gave my self a chance of discovering itself.

What did I miss? Where was it in that forest? Was I too late?

When I saw the end of the ride, I began to slow down and loosen my uptight stance.  I realized what I missed. I was too preoccupied with surviving I never really listened to my inner self. I could have enjoyed the ride, take pictures, wrote poems (even if I’m terrible with words) or just even draw strength from the past experiences I survived! I could have enjoyed a whole new ride.


Standing on the 360 view deck and tracing my route within that mangrove forest, I can only sigh at my experience. Nevertheless, it was all part of a journey, some sort of an inventure. You lose some, you learn something about yourself.

This is  my blogging story.

In the past, I have been tunneled into ‘surviving’ my blog, drawing plans to adapt at the handicap of doing poorly in grammar and spelling difficulties (even up to the present actually 🙂  ).  I forgot to enjoy it, the writing for pure adventure into myself.

Am I late to learn something new? Perhaps not. I am a late bloomer. I have qualities within me that I never really accepted before for fear being adjudged as pretentious. I am in fact drawing strength from these qualities now.

Today, blogging is my journey inward as much as it is outward. It is a journey to self realization.  I blog for my advocacies, to fuel my chosen work, to inspire people, to paddle my life. It is an  inventure into my soul now rather than an adventure to obscurity.

*inventure (invention+adventure) – an adventure of mind, creative and engaging intellectual action. (Urban Dictionary)

The Orthopedic Logbook- Best Business, Finance and Career Blog 2013 Award
The Orthopedic Logbook- Best Business, Finance and Career Blog 2013 Award

(When I  started to write this piece, I received the news that this blog won the Best Career, Business and Finance Blog 2013 in the recently concluded Mindanao Blog AwardsI was not in the podium to received my awards trophy during the awards night. I was in Baguio City at the exact night conferring with like minded doctors (ULF-Bakhawans) on various advocacies and projects we’ve started. I was teary-eyed happy when the news reached me. There’s no shortage of congratulatory hugs and handshakes from fellow bakhawans.  Messages of congratulations beat the cold Baguio weather. Tweets and facebook greetings from my Sox Blogger family flooded my wall as well.

MBAI’m honored. I’m truly inspired. It’s one heaven of a feeling to know people appreciate your work. I was blogging because it is an adventure for me.  Then I realized, it was really an inventure that touched my life and a few others . That is more than an award to me.

Thank you Mindanao Blog Awards, organizers, judges, sponsors, supporters. Thank you my SOCCSARSKGEN BLOGGERS family and my social media friends.

I’m very thankful to my supportive family, from whom I draw strength and the stories of my life.

I thank the nameless patients who taught me the value of listening to their voices, so I may listen to my inner voice too. I couldn’t have learned those from any academic institution.

To my readers, who I believe is just holding their horses at my dastardly grammar and spelling, you all are my inspiration. This blog is all about you and me. You taught me to listen and tell others too,  my very stories.)


Dr. Remo-tito Aguilar co-founded #HealthXPh. A board certified orthopedic surgeon, he is Chief of Clinics at General Santos Medical Center and Medical Specialist II Orthopedics at the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City. Dr. Aguilar is a healthcare social media evangelist and writes his medical musings at The Cast & Curious (