The Lukan Siblings
by Joanna Santiago and Karen Tangonan
Sugar, spice and everything nice. And with professor Utonium adding chemical X, voila! The heroes of Townsville are born and ready to save the world – the powerpuff girls! Fighting Mojo Jojo and Gang Green Gang, together, they can save the day. But imagine the scenario if professor Utonium did not accidentally add chemical X. And to be regarded as superheroes, they had to be trained. To fight Mojo Jojo and Gang Green Gang, they had to study anatomy, work hard to know the pathophysiology, and train real hard to be competent clinically. Can they survive? But at least they have each other, right? Would the training ground and academy matter?
Med school is a training ground for heroes who wake up early to join the field, read Guyton or Harrisons and work hard, pushing themselves to the limit. It may be a tough journey but in the Blossom had Buttercup and Bubbles to count on, sisters who had her back. Life is hard but having someone, not just close to your heart but whom you share blood with training with you is a story on its own. Would it actually be helpful? Would it be more fun? Would the journey become easier? Or would it be the other way around?
The answer lies with the case of the Rabang sisters, Lim twins, and Decano brothers– the sibling pairs of the Lukan Community who are conquering med school together.
The Rabang Sisters
Shaira and Maika Rabang are one of the known siblings of St. Luke’s College of Medicine Medical Center William H. Quasha Memorial. With the influence of their parents, relatives, and recommendation from former professors, they pursued medicine after graduating from their pre-medicine courses and continuously studying hard to be the first soon-to-be heroes in white coat of their family.
“I attended the Open House before applying and it was then that I saw how close the Lukan community is and that impressed me. I felt like I would thrive in such an environment,” Shaira says. She was the first one to enter med school in SLCMMC. In awe of the Lukan culture, she joined the community and later on also influenced her younger sister, Maika. The scholarship opportunity also attracted her the school.
Studying in the same school is not a new experience for the two of them since they also went to the same elementary school. However, it was a long time ago and necessary adjustments had to be made. This time, in med school, having an “Ate” allowed Maika to meet more people, especially her Ate’s circle of friends. Academically, she’s able to have an overview on the blocks to come and some tips – most of which would even come from her Ate’s batchmates.
They both lived together in a condominium near the school and this is where they bond most of the time given busy schedules. However, siblings living together have its own perks and consequences. And in their case, it’s the issue on who will wash the dishes! Also, because it was years ago since they shared a unit, Shaira explained that she had to make necessary adjustments on her routine such as taking a bath earlier than before and adjusting her study habits.
“Ate doesn’t pressure me to study up to the point of breaking down kasi sabi niya yun yung isang medyo regret niya na grade conscious na siya since 1st year … Kaya supportive siya sa saktong aral, saktong chill study habit ko here in medschool. She always tells me not to be too hard on myself. “
Aside from the academic and social support, another advantage of having a sibling studying with you in the same school is the luxury of emotional support. Life advices from someone who underwent what another was about to go through can save one from making the same mistakes.
Being compared to one another is yet another consequence dealt by each of them. To be compared in the other’s achievements and to deal with other’s expectations are obstacles they both face. However, this doesn’t seem to bother them at all, as they claimed that having each other makes med school more bearable. And if asked also, if they could have made it through med school alone, still they said they could survive. Because as Maika said, “Our parents did not raise quitters!”
The Lim Twins
Sugar, spice and everything nice! But this time after the explosion, not silhouettes of three was seen but only two. There were no signs of long hair and a boy-cut hair, however, two two-sided ponytails were traced molding the smoke, and voila! Two beautiful bubbly Bubbles were born!
And yes, they are twins.
Antonie Kyna and Antonie Kyla are the famous twin bubbly Bubbles of this hero-training camp in SLMCCM, fighting hard to gain the white cape, a symbol of both glory and responsibility; just like the one that their mother has. And no, it was not an escapade to clone oneself and do two tasks at the same time and nope, it was not my-toe-sis (mitosis) that resulted one from the other. They are two separate individuals doing their best in med school and creating their own hero identity. But seemingly unfair, they can indeed do two tasks at the same time like printing while still making another paper, but that’s simply because they help each other out. Another “I got your back” story, indeed!
“ Mas masaya kasi may katabi na ako matulog at tutulong sa paggising kahit minsan di effective kasi both kami tulog. Pero better than dati na mag-isa lang ako sa room.” [Kyna]
Kyna is currently a third year student while Kyla is in the second year. The reason as to why they’re not in the same batch is that Kyna graduated from college first. It was quite a change from the usual, as they went to the same school since nursery. Aside from that, everything is still the same. They still live in the same unit and so they can still get along at home and because of the different active organizations of SLMCCM they both joined like Agape and Athletics’ guild, they are able to bond with each other along with the St. Luke’s community! (Fun Fact: Kyna and Kyla are the founders of the Women’s Basketball team that joins the inter-med competitions such as Palarong Medisina.)
Comparisons between siblings especially when they are in the same school is inevitable and what more, if one has a twin. Because it is inevitable, our twins accepted this truth and focused more on building a bond and much stronger than what other may say. Competitiveness, on the other hand, occurs between them sometimes but it is limited only to inter-batch and inter-house competitions.
“We’re not competitive with each other. Actually we support each other in everything we do.” [Kyla]
“I recommended SLMCCM to her. I told her about the environment and the people in St. Luke’s. I told her about how less toxic it felt because the professors were more understanding especially when we were in our first years. The upperclassmen are especially helpful. We have a lot of extracurricular activities that serves as an outlet for our stress.” [Kyna]
Although, St. Luke’s was not their first choice of school, it has become a home for the two of them. When asked about what they think is the Lukan Brand, they said it was, “Intimate – small population, pero PaLaban Lukan!”
Academic-wise, Kyla shared that it was truly an advantage to have a sibling within the same school. Kyna’s notes and tips was very much appreciated by Kyla. They were both able to have a bigger circle of friends. In terms living arrangements, both of them claimed that things become better when they are together. And when asked, if they could’ve made it through med school alone, “Maybe I would be striving but it would be lonelier. I can’t imagine med life without my twin.”
The Decano Brothers
Five among close relatives. Four within the Decano household. Two in the making. One less to a dozen, but still, eleven physicians around the table may be enough to crack your medical mystery and pull you off your medical miseries. Those who plan to create a stronghold of doctors can take lessons from the Decano family. To cut to the chase, it basically needs an essential element, which is harnessing bonds. As medical students we need such, if we are to achieve perfect concord for patient’s sake. This harnessing of bond, we shall learn by magnifying the bond harnessed by the last two Decano kids, Raynon and Ivan, who walked through same academic institutions from elementary to their current medical education.
For all Decano children, the first school had always been Colegio de San Pascual Baylon. From thereon, whatever school Raynon goes, Ivan follows after two years. How they both ended up in St. Luke’s is not to establish the pattern, but partly an overlap of interest, and partly a work of fate, as Raynon has described. Like most of us, the which-medical-school dilemma has also plagued the minds of Raynon and Ivan, despite the testimonies of licensed physicians around them. Raynon had initially considered UP, since one of his older siblings have gone through it. Ivan got accepted in UST, though he felt he belonged to another. As doubts and the anxiety kept them unstill, the universe mailed the acceptance letter from St. Luke’s, to Raynon – as a calling, and to Ivan, as a surprise.
Thanks to the work of fate, the Lukan community can enjoy the vivaciousness of SLCM Chorale. It is mostly through this chorale that the Decano brothers bond within the school, and it is also through the chorale that they were able to expand their social circle. Through their leadership, the chorale has taken home not only awards but thunderous adorations during performances.
As we’ve all seen the world class artist out of them in the orchestra, it begs the question whether they have been trapped in that career crossroad. Forget about being a physician when you can appease the people with your musical talent, right? Raynon thought of being an actor, which was further steamed up by his parents’ testaments of the challenging medical academe. Eventually, this dream succumbed to a realization of “there was nothing else I could imagine myself doing.” And so, Raynon’s career plan synced with Ivan’s, whom unlike Raynon, was fascinated with the thought of becoming a physician since he was a child.
When Raynon and Ivan are not being artists and pre-doctors, they harness the bond as dorm-mates with their sister, Lara, who is currently a resident of Internal Medicine. Netflix is a peaceful holy ground for all, but maintaining cleanliness is the combat zone. Indeed, adjustments on living arrangements was a compromise for Lara, when she has to live with Raynon, and a compromise for all of them when Ivan moved in as well. For all it’s worth, this has brought no trouble and instead has brought them closer instead.
Other than bickering over whose turn it was to wash the dishes, no serious competitions have ever breed rivalry among the siblings. Grades could be a fairground for comparison, considering that they are going through the same school and evaluated by the same academic standards, but this competition is mainly for motivational purposes. And truly, academics is the most untouchable aspect of their lives. Ivan can take advantage of the tips from Raynon, who can do the same from his older siblings, but in the end the ‘I’ll-do-it-my-way’ attitude come into play.
They used this brotherly love, not only to just survive but to emerge out strong and prepared for the next challenges. However, the guiding role of their parents, Dr. & and Dra. Decano — two of the stars of Lukan faculty, cannot be highlighted enough. Raynon joked at the discomfort of knowing that his parents would see his grades before he does, but that was just a phase, and gratefully, it’s over. Indeed, there are weird, scary, and troublesome challenges facing physicians in his profession alone. How many times does the burden multiply, when family matters overlap? Four kids in medical school?! How? Ivan spilled one hint, when he said “while we may not have been given exactly the same amount of favor, our parents provided us with what they can and with what we wanted and needed at that [particular] time.” To become a physician was what they wanted. And maybe, this is a positive feedback to the parents because what could be more inspiring for parents to work hard than to see their children chasing the dream patterned on their footsteps?
The bonds between the Decano siblings and their parents are just few of the bonds that make up the Lukan culture. It is but a small community of a supportive administration, warm people, and hospitable organizations, built on a core of social engagement
Brotherhood and sisterhood is not necessarily something that only blood-kins can share. You can build it with your seatmate, your teacher, the staffs, your seniors and your orgmates. Worse than anomalies and pathologies are mistakes, but as long you have brothers and sisters to fall back on, you can make it through.