Wednesday, July 26, 2017


Dr Abe V Rotor

                                                     Mayon Volcano, Albay.   

Tranquility reigns on her face,
      rage in her breast,
If beauty exudes best
      from a spring of force,
I do not wonder at the shyness
      of a crest,
And the power of a single rose.

Wouldn’t a temper make up
     for its want?
That white is whiter
     beside an ugly stain?
Beauty, oh beauty, I am thy 
     willing servant,
With mine eyes, thoughts,
     fears, sans sane. ~

Living Earth in my Palm (Lesson on Imagery in Literature)

 Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog 

                                                                                 Guimaras in my palm

To see the world in a grain of sand,
      And a heaven in a wild flower;
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand ,
      And eternity in an hour.

                            - William Blake (Auguries of Innocence)

I have just finished a manuscript, a sequel to Living with Nature series.  I have chosen for its title, Living Earth in my Palm, because the palm is the seat of human thought, emotion, and spirituality. It is the seat of truth when we take an oath, seat of execution after a decision. In this particular case, it is in the palm where an idea comes as a snap, where creativity is born and nurtured.  Where dreams can be realized, we are known, and finally, we are received by God.  

One can surmise the depth of Rodin’s Thinker in the palm of a clenched fist, more than his pensive mood. I can imagine Helen Keller, born blind, cup the face of a person to express love, or to photograph the person in her mind. We gauge cleanliness by the palm; we appraise the value of articles, examining their details and hidden secrets.

What could be a higher level of expression of respect to the flag than a palm placed on the breast, and an open palm to pledge loyalty?   And is there a deeper sense of contrition than cupping both hands and drawing them close to a bowed head? The faithful raise their hands with open palms in praise and exultation, building a spiritual bridge that unites humanity and God, the world and the Creator.   

And among the grassroots, the farmer gathers a handful of grain in the field, examines it to know if it is ready for harvest - and not so much for its bounty, expresses thanksgiving to Mother Earth. It is also in the palm of the Man with a Hoe, made rough by hard work, that the soil is known of its readiness and suitability to a crop he is going to plant.  The young Lincoln would brush dirt and wipe his palm as if to release some burdens of the day’s work, while looking far into the railroad he was building.

We extend our arms of welcome and reconciliation with open palms. Genuine handshake is felt by the palm. Cold and sweaty palm is a barometer of our emotion.  The warmth of our palm has a deep source in the core of our being. It is a thermometer of our anger or calmness.  And to believers, the map of our lives and fate.

On my palm is a living earth, the microcosm of nature and culture. It is in the palm that we ponder over Rodin’s sculpture, feel Helen Keller’s love and kindness, hear a schoolchild sing before the flag, the faithful whisper a prayer, feel the soil, know the grain when it has turned golden.  Of the young worker brush dirt and look into the horizon.  It is in the palm that we can hold the world, live a life of eternity, find heaven in simple beauty, and infinity in our short sojourn on this earth. ~                  

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Nylon Butterflies

Dr Abe V Rotor

Nylon butterflies, decor of a resort in Pansol, Laguna 

Paper roses, nylon butterflies,
glass bottom gems,
plastic beads, wax figurines,,
lovers and friends.

Nylon butterflies, decor of a resort in Pansol Laguna 

Paper roses, nylon butterflies,
glass bottom gems,
plastic beads, wax figurines,
lovers and friends.

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Lamp of Knowledge

Dr Abe V Rotor

Socrates, father of Philosophy, on his deathbed. He was condemned to die by drinking hemlock, a  poison, for corrupting the minds of the youth. The Lamp of Knowledge

Teaching is an art. It is an art of the masters - Aristotle, Plato, Christ, and many great teachers of the Renaissance that brought the world out of the Dark Ages. While we have developed modern techniques in teaching, it is important to look back into the past.

It is looking back at the lamp that enabled our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, to write his last masterpiece, the lamp Florence Nightingale held over her patients at the warfront, the lamp that made Scheherazade’s “one thousand and one nights” stories, the lamp a Greek philosopher held high at daylight “searching for an honest man.” Or the lamp fireflies make and glow with the spirit of joy and adventure to a child. 

But why do we look back and ponder on a tiny light when the world basks in the sunshine of progress and development, of huge networks of learning, of high technologies in practically all fields of endeavor? I’ll tell you why – and why we teachers must.

But first let me tell a story of a computer enthusiast, who like the modern student today relies greatly on this electronic gadget, doing his school work so conveniently like downloading data for his assignment. So one day he worked on his assigned topic – love. 

He printed the word and set the computer to define for him L-O-V-E. Pronto the computer came up with a hundred definitions and in different languages. Remembering his teacher’s instruction to ask, “How does it feel to be in love?” again he set the computer to respond. And you know what?

After several attempts, the computer printed on its screen in big letters, “I can not feel.”

Where is that main ingredient of human relations – feeling – today?

• Where is the true feeling between teacher and student?
• Where is the feeling of joy at the end of a teaching day, in spite of how hard the day had been?
• Where is that tingling feeling of the student for having recited well in class? 
• Where is that feeling in singing the National Anthem, the school hymn?
• Where is that feeling Rizal felt when a moth circled the lamp in his prison cell while he wrote, Mi Ultimo Adios? 
• Where is that burning desire that drove Michaelangelo to finish single-handedly the huge murals of the Sistine Chapel?
• That drove Vincent Van Gogh to madness – madness the world learned a new movement in the art – expressionism - years after?
• That kept Florence Nightingale, the founder of the nursing profession, make her rounds in the hospital in the wee hours of the morning?
• The lamp that strengthened Plato’s resolve to change the way people should think in the light of truth and justice.

Feeling. There is a song Feelin, and the lyrics ask a lot of questions about human nature changing with the times. I do not think human nature has changed. It is as stable as Nature herself and the natural laws that govern the universe. 

What we are saying is that our ways are changing. The conformity of our actions is more with the rules we set rather than the philosophies on which they are founded. It is our quest for want above our needs that has blinded us and benumbed our feelings, that has taken us to the so-called fast lane so that we no longer see objects as they are, but abstracts, that has made us half-humans in the sense that we spend half of our lives dealing with machines – who have no feelings. 

What then is modern man? I am afraid we have to review some of our references on the Janus-like character of man, like - 

• Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
• The Prince and the Pauper
• The Princess and the Frog
• The movies - Mask, Superman, Batman, Spiderman 
• Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter
• Cartoons and animated movies 

The doubling of characters in man has led him away from permanence. Today, the biggest crisis in man is his impermanence. Impermanence in his domicile, nay, his nationality, political party. Affiliation in business and social organizations, and most disturbingly, with his marriage and family.

When was the last time we said to ourselves – or experienced - the following. 

• It’s a weekday for my family and nothing else.
• How I wish I can help my child of his math assignment.
• I’ll teach only this year and will find a more rewarding job after.
• I think it’s time to settle down.
• I want to go to a concert and enjoy the fine art of music.
• Can’t I put all my ideas in a book?
• It’s always meeting – can’t we just talk?
• This dizziness, it must be the pressure of my work.
• Maybe I can concentrate on my thesis this time.
• I have not finished reading “Da Vinci Code”. 
• This summer I’ll be with my parents.

Here are ways by which we can brighten up our lamp amidst the factors that test our dedication of our profession as teachers. 

1. Be yourself. Be natural. 
2. Keep on learning 
3. Be a model of your family and community
4. Relax
5. Use you faculties fully and wisely 

Be Natural

Naturalness is a key to teaching. I saw a film, Natural with then young award-winning Robert Redford as the principal actor. It is a story of a baseball player who became famous. The central theme of his success is his naturalness. Naturalness in pitching, batting - in the sport itself, above all, in his relationship with his team and fans. 

Our students can easily sense our sincerity. They shun from us if we are not. They cannot fully express themselves, unless we show our genuine love and care for them. Develop that aura that attracts them, that keeps relationship easy to adapt or adjust.

“Who dares to teach must never cease to learn.”
- John Cotton Dana 
Be a Model

Florence Nightingale  Lady with the Lamp - founder of the nursing profession 

A teacher must have more time for himself and for his family. Teaching is an extension of family life. And this is the primordial stimulus that makes your family a model family and you as a model teacher – because you cause the light of the lamp to radiate to others. And it is not only the school that you bring in the light. It is the community because you are also lighting the lamp of others, including the tiny glow in your young students. When they get home, when they interact with their community in whatever capacity they can, even only among their playmates, relatives and neighbors, they are in effect sharing that light which is also the light of understanding and unity. 


Great achievements are usually products of relaxed minds. Relaxation allows the incubation of thoughts and ideas. Churchill found time to paint during the Second World War. In his relaxed mind he made great decisions that saved Great Britain and countless lives. Or take Einstein for instance. His formula which explains the relationship of energy and matter in E=mc2 was drawn out from casually observing moving objects - train, heavenly bodies, marbles. Galileo watched a huge chandelier in a church sway with the breeze and later came up with the principles of pendulum movement. 

Darwin studied biology around the world as if he were on a leisure cruise, and summed up his findings that founded the most controversial Theory of Evolution by means of natural selection. An apple fell on Newton’s head when everything was still. Examine closely the parables of Christ. How relaxed the Great Teacher was in telling these stories to the faithful. The lamp shines the brightest when there is no wind. When held high with steady hands and given time to examine things around, views become clearer, and the more certain we are along our way. 

Use Your Faculties Fully and Wisely

Our brain is made up of the left hemisphere, the thinking and reasoning part, and the right hemisphere, the seat of creativity and imagination. Together they reveal an enormous capacity of intelligence, which are pictured in eight realms. These are 

1. Logic 
2. Languages
3. Music 
4. Spatial
5. Interpersonal
6. Intrapersonal 
7. Kinesthetics 
8. Naturalism 

From these realms the teacher draws out his best qualities. He explores, decides, adapts, entertains, leads, and stands courageously to lead the young. 

Here he sows the seed of knowledge. And in the young the seed grows, and grows, which the educator Henry Adams expresses in this line.

“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”

Color of Hydrangea flower indicates acidity or alkalinity of soil

Dr Abe V Rotor 

Hydrangea macrophylla.  The color of the flower indicates the relative acidity of the soil. An acidic soil (pH below 6) produces flower color closer to blue (top photo), whereas an alkaline soil (pH above 6) will produce flowers more pink (middle photo). This is caused by a color change of the flower pigment in the presence of  aluminum ions accumulated in the plants. Lowermost photo indicates slightly alkaline soil, and possibly of another cultivar.  

Sunday, July 23, 2017

A Shade of Venice

 Flooded streets in Manila caused by intensified monsoon, 2012 
                                         (Photo Credit: Mariam San Andres)

Venice - classical, ugly, beautiful,
 romantic, home of poet, fool. 

Photography: Journalism and Creative Art

Matthew Marlo R Rotor
Living with Nature - School on Blog

A night owl is hidden among the leaves of a narra tree. It is motionless, but it is aware of the movement of its prey, small mouse playing on the ground below. The photographer had just set up his special infrared camera with automatic electronic flash. He himself is hidden in camouflage. The owl stirs, then swoops down on its victim, its powerful claws clamped in a deadly squeeze. The shutter releases: one. two, three shots in succession. The flask makes detail images of the bird's plumage and watchful eyes, and the victim's writhing in hopeless struggle. You could almost hear the piteous cry of the prey. Result: these three photographs are among the final entries in a national photo art contest on nature.

A photographer suspects four men who entered a bank one afternoon to be robbers. Using a telephoto, he trains the lens at the scene. Just as he had made a good position where he cannot be seen, the photographer waits for action. The robbers move. There is pandemonium, shots ring, people run for their lives. Policemen arrive and exchange fire. The photographer gathers courage. Result: six photographs documented the daring bank robbery. These photos were published in the newspapers, and helped the police apprehend the culprits.

These are two dramatic cases whereby photography is used to capture and present subjects and events which are of special human interest. The events however, are contrasting in emotional appeal and theme, even if the common subject is conflict. Here conflict is shown as biological and social phenomena. One spells survival, the other depicts irrational social struggle.

Setting aside the philosophical aspects of these two sets of photographs, I wish to convey the message that photography is a tool, one for the arts, and the other, for documentation. Photography is used to express the creativity of a person behind the lens. Creativity is the very essence of art. The night owl photos are an expression of that creativity. On the other hand the bank robbery photos are documents, and they have no direct value as work of art in spite of their significant and practical importance.

What then make photography an art? Like a painting, a photograph may be considered an art if it possesses the following attributes:

1. Subject - What is it about? What particular topic does it show? Convey? This leads us to the theme.

2. Theme - What does the photo mean? What is its underlying meaning? What is the interpretation of the viewer? In short, what is the message.

3. Message - With the subject and theme provided, what does the artist wish to convey? Does it tell a story, or just present a situation or scene? Is the message concrete or is it abstract?

4. Perspective - The eye moves and searches. Where is the focal point? Where do the lines converge? Is the vantage point at the foreground or background? Is the perspective
diagonal, inverted V-shape, X-shape, parallel? To fully appreciate the perspective, take note of contrast - light and shadow, and contrast among colors.

5. Contrast - Here light and shadow show contrast. So with cool and warm colors. If the lines are bold the figures appear distinct. Are the lines parallel and repetitious? Or, do they cross? What time of the day was the photo taken?

6. Colors - The use of colors in today's photography is important. Seldom is black-and-white used now. As a rule, the clearer and distinct the colors are, the better is the photograph. But there should be harmony.

7. Harmony - This means unity of parts. Every part is integral to the whole photo. As a result the photo exudes - like music - a fine tune of colors and lines, shade and light, and finally, balance.

8. Balance - Be sure the photo is not heavy or light at any side. The eye is not trained at a particular part. Symmetry is the key. Even asymmetrical subjects can show balance. Imagine an enlarged amoeba, a shapeless one-celled creature.

Photography sessions under an expert are a must for those who engage in photography as a hobby. Workshop with modern photography tools and equipment are likewise a must. It taps talent and hones it with the touch of art. In the process he becomes trained as an artist-photographer - and subsequently, and artist himself.

Art lies in the person behind the camera - not the camera per se even how modern and sophisticated it may be. State-of-the-art in photography still lies on the person.

Today, film cameras are very seldom used. They have been replaced by digital cameras. And the uses of the camera have tremendously expanded from micro-photography for microorganisms, scanning electron microscopy, nano photography, to satellite imaging, heat-sensitive imaging. Telezoom cameras are a thousand times more sensitive than they were a decade before. Hidden cameras are everywhere. And anyone today can operate a camera. Just point-and-shoot, then edit the photo with the computer. And the computer is equipped with scanner, enlarger, and transmitter to any desired destination through the Internet.

In spite of all these developments, the basic rules of creative photography remain the same. ~