Sunday, June 17, 2018

Rizal - My Hero

Dedicated to Dr Jose P Rizal on his 157th birth anniversary, June 19, 2018
"The three greatest treasures of mankind are liberty, fraternity and equality - guard them with your life."

Dr Abe V Rotor

Author poses before the historical marker, Arch of the Centuries, University of Santo Tomas, Manila, Author is an alumnus (Ph.D. 1986) and professor in the UST Graduate School, and Faculty of Arts and Letters. (1986-2016).  Photo below:The Arch of the Centuries 

Since childhood I have always looked up to our national hero, Dr Jose P Rizal, as my personal hero. Here is a list of lessons I gathered from my readings about his life and works.
  1. Don't allow yourself to fall into vices and bad habits.
  2. Seek the truth, how difficult and painful it may cause you.
  3. Tap your talents, develop them to the fullest and use them for a cause.
  4. Work hard, aim high, and realize your dreams.
  5. Never associate yourself with people who can destroy your values and principles.
  6. Fight for your rights, and the rights of others, seek for and stand by the truth.
  7. Always be ready to help people, particularly those who are less fortunate than you are.
  8. Love your country, there is no better place in the whole world.
  9. Love your people, they are your pride, dedicate your life to them.
  10. Freedom is the first and ultimate right of any individual.
  11. Never forget to recognize God' wisdom and goodness in the midst on man's evil ways.
  12. Be fair, be objective, be sincere in seeking justice.
  13. The meaning of life is its consecration to a great idea - even if its time has not come.
  14. In death there is light even before freedom for which you fought has not dawned.
  15. Goodness will always triumph over evil; never evil over evil.
  16. Look back at tradition, preserve and be proud of it; it is the foundation of values in life.
  17. Remember your ancestors and those who died for your country and people.
  18. Fight for the cause of social justice; you have all reasons to gain for your people and country - even if you lose.
  19. The three greatest treasures of mankind are liberty, fraternity and equality - guard them with your life.
  20. Martyrdom is the greatest credential that shall earn you a place to be with your Creator.
Add to the list other lessons this great man has influenced you, the Filipino people, and the world. ~

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Noli Me Tangere's Introduction in Rizal's Handwriting

Dedicated to Dr Jose P Rizal on his 157th birth anniversary, June 19, 2018
Researched by Dr Abe V Rotor

"What? Does no Caesar, does no Achilles appear on your stage now,
Not an Andromache e'en, not an Orestes, my friend?"
"No! there is naught to be seen there but parsons, and syndics of commerce,
Secretaries perchance, ensigns, and majors of horse."
"But, my good friend, pray tell me, what can such people e'er meet with
That can be truly great? - what that is great can they do?"

- Friedrich Schiller, "Shakespeare's Ghost," translated by John Bowring



Recorded in the history of human suffering are cancers of such malignant character that even minor contact aggravates them, endangering overwhelming pain. How often, in the midst of modern civilizations have I wanted to bring you into the discussion, sometimes to recall these memories, sometimes to compare you to other countries, so often that your beloved image became to me like a social cancer.

Therefore, because I desire your good health, which is indeed all of ours, and because I seek better stewardship for you, I will do with you what the ancients did with their infirmed: they placed them on the steps of their temples so that each in his own way could invoke a divinity that might offer a cure.

With that in mind, I will try to reproduce your current condition faithfully, without prejudice; I will lift the veil hiding your ills, and sacrifice everything to truth, even my own pride, since, as your son, I, too, suffer your defects and shortcomings.~

Friday, June 8, 2018

Therapeutic Effect of Violin and Nature

Dr Abe V Rotor
Violin and Nature is an experimental approach to music

Therapeutic effect of music to aquarium fish and workshop participants. A trio - violin and flute accompanied by a keyboard.

Music must be elevated from the level of entertainment and expression of skills to one that brings the listener to a state of catharsis, relieving him of the stresses and tensions of daily living. Music therapy is now recognized as part of alternative medicine. There are musical compositions that bring about the so-called Mozart Effect, named after Amadeus Mozart whose compositions are acclaimed by scientists to be the most therapeutic of all musical compositions, even among his contemporaries in the classical and romantic schools.

This article is the result of a research conducted by the author with his class at the UST Graduate School as respondents to the hypothesis that the combination of Violin and Nature sounds has therapeutic effects to the listener. And if so, how? What aspects of our body physiology, mind, psyche, and spirit are affected? In what ways, and how do we measure such effects?
Cover of tape, later copied into CD. Shorter versions are available: Violin and Birds, Violin and Waves
Can auditory art be developed by converting word to music, and re-create the sound of nature to accompany it? The idea is to find a compatible blend of science - the prosaic and formal, with humanities - the entertaining, cultural, and the sounds of nature, definitely a rare   experience that takes place in the inner vision of the mind. Violin and Nature is a CD recording or 32 extemporaneous popular and semi-classical compositions played on the violin by the author with accompaniment of birds, insects, wind, waterfall and running stream.

People say, “ Relaks lang” or “just do it” as part of daily conversation. Either it is taken as advice or compliment, the message is clear: life today is growing tenser. “ Take it easy” has a reassuring note that everybody must learn to live in a stressful world.

Both the poor and rich are subject to different forms of stress, so with the city and village dweller. Ironically, stress does not spare growing affluence. In fact, it persists invariably throughout life, virtually from womb to tomb.

The idea of dealing with tension or stress is how one is able to reduce it effectively so as to enjoy life and get rid of its complications from headaches to various psychosomatic symptoms- and eventual health problems, if it is not checked on time.

One proposal is the use of therapeutic effects of music and nature, thus the rationale of this experiment that employs the combined soothing sound of the violin, and the harmony of nature.

Music is well known to reduce tension. Pipe-in music increases work efficiency in corporate offices, takes out boredom in otherwise monotonous assignments, and fosters proper attitude and disposition, when correctly applied. In fact, scientists have established the biological basis of music by being able to increase the production efficiency in poultry and livestock with the use of background music. The key is the reduction of stress in the animal. The same result has yet to be established in plants.

A stressful life builds tension in the body. Headache, wakefulness, palpitation, indigestion, trembling and many other symptoms, which wear away the life force, accompany tension. Tired nerves need rest and quiet, as nature needs time to recuperate her exhausted energies.

What is tension? It is the effort that is manifested in the shortening of muscle fibers. Physiologists compare muscle tension with “neuromuscular relaxation” to differentiate popular interpretation of relaxation as amusement, recreation, or hobbies. To be relaxed is the direct physiology opposite of being excited or disturbed.

Neurosis and psychoneurosis are at the same time physiological disturbance, for they are forms of tension disorders. Therefore, the key to treatment lies in relaxation.

Who are victims of tension? Everybody is a candidate. These are models of tensed individuals: the “burnt out” housewife, the tagasalo in the family, the gifted child, the dominant lola, the authoritative patriarch. These persons themselves are not only victims of tension; they spread tension among people around them.

Multitudes long for a better life, but they lack courage and resolution to break away from the power of habit. On the other hand, many escape from the harsh realities of life by taking alcohol and drugs.

The whole idea of relaxation is in disciplining the body to budget life’s energies, and to immerse oneself to relaxing moods. Music and nature are a great inexhaustible source. Plato and Confucius looked at music as a department of ethics. They saw the correspondence between character of man and music. Great music, they believed, is in harmony with the universe, restoring order to the physical world. Aristotle on the other hand, the greatest naturalist of the ancient world supported the platonic view, which through the Renaissance to the present dominate the concept of great composition. Great music has always been associated with God’s creation.

Nature on the other hand, produces calming effects to the nerve. Sightseeing, picnic and camping are a good break to prosaic city life. Different from ordinary amusements in the park or theater, the countryside is one arena of peace and quiet. Features on TV and print media provide but an alternative scenario. Today “canned” Nature is being introduced in many forms such as traveling planetarium, CD-ROM Nature Series, Ecology Village, and the like, to illustrate the growing concern of people to experience the positive effects of Nature in an urban setting characterized by a stressful modern life.

This experiment is based on the premise that the combined effects of music and Nature help reduce tension in daily living, particularly among working students in the city.

Conceptual Framework
A- Tension tends to dominate the body to relax, resulting in tension build-up in the muscles;
B- Music (violin solos) and Nature’s sounds( birds, running stream etc.) make a composition which provides a rare listening experience in varying intensity; and
C- The experience enhances relaxation, reduces tension and its physiologic effects in the individual.

The Violin and Nature recorded in compact disc (CD) was then presented for evaluation to students in Research Methodology at the UST Graduate School on two aspects, namely, the content of the tape and the perception of the respondents. Physiologic response was determined by measuring the pulse rate before and after listening to eight sample compositions from the tape for thirty minutes.

These are as follows:

1. Serenade by Toselli (semi- classical)
2. Meditation, from the Thais by Massenet (classical)
3. Lara’s Theme (sound track of the movie, Dr. Zhivago)
4. Beyond the Sunset (ballad)
5. Paper Roses (popular)
6. A Certain Smile (popular)
7. Fascination (popular dance music)
8. Home on the Range (country song)

Respondents Profile

This is the profile of the 42 respondents, which made up one class in research methodology. They are predominantly female students (81%), employed (86%), with ages from 21 to 29 years old (76%).

Content Analysis
The respondents counted eight tunes or pieces, of which 5 are familiar to them. They identified three non-living sounds (running stream, wind, and waterfall, aside from the violin), and two living sounds (mainly birds).

Physiologic Response
The average pulse rates before and after listening to the tape are 79.47 and 73.29 per minute, respectively, or a difference of 6.18. Statistically, the difference is significant, thus confirming the relaxing effects to the respondents after listening to the CD.

The ten criteria used in rating the perception of the respondents are ranked as follows, adopting the Likert Scale. Note: A scale of 1 to 5 was used, where 1 is very poor, 2 poor, 3 fair, 4 good, and 5 very good.

Criteria Rating Rank
1. One has the feeling of being
transported to a Nature/Wildlife scene. 4.48 1

2. Listening to the tape creates an aura
of peace and serenity. 4.39 2

3. The composition is soothing to hear,
Has calming effect on the nerves. 4.24 3

4. The composition creates a meditative
mood. 3.95 4

5. It brings reminiscence to the
listener of a past experience. 3.64 5

6. It helps one in trying to
forget his problems. 3.59 6

7. One has the felling of being
transported heavenward, to Cloud 9. 3.55 7

8. There is tendency to sleep while
listening to the composition. 3.52 8

9. It brings about a nostalgic feeling. 3.19 9

10. The composition makes one
sad and melancholic. 2.55 10

Analysis and Interpretation
The means the first three criteria fall between good and very good, while the others, except the 10th, are between fair and good. This finding supports the positive relaxing effects of Violin and Nature.

Conclusion and Recommendation
Listening to Violin and Nature slows down pulse rate significantly, thus reducing tension, and brings the listener closer to a state of relaxation. The effects are measured as based on ten criteria. Topping the scores which are classified Very Good are:

1. One has the feeling of being transported to a Nature /Wildlife Scene;
2. Listening to the tape creates an aura of peace and serenity; and
3. The composition is soothing to hear, and has calming effect on the nerves.

There are six other parameters that support the hypothesis that the CD is relaxing. This is different from its effect of bringing nostalgia, sadness and melancholy that received the lowest scores and rankings.

However, there is need to improve the quality of the compositions, and their recording. It is also recommended that similar evaluation be conducted on other age groups and people of different walks of life who are similarly subject to stressful life and environment. ~

Glowing Caterpillars

Painting and Poem by Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog
Glowing Caterpillars in acrylic on mounted canvas (21.5” x 22”) AVR 2014

Wondered I as a child seeing you glow in the dark,
     passing  the day in slumber with your host;
your fire is myth, but what philosophy does it make,  
     of your presence exacting a heavy cost?

As I grew up, I learned phosphorescence everywhere:
      plankton of endless number and variety;
the woods and fields studded with watchful eyes,          
      and you, you make a glowing crown of a tree.

I’ve seen wild mushrooms, jellyfish in the deep, glow,
      sulfur bacteria in boiling caldera shining;
and in old age a myriad fireflies mingling with the stars,
     that link us all to a Supreme Being. ~       

Friday, June 1, 2018

Can we compress love of a lifetime?

How would you express love to your spouse or child diagnosed of a terminal disease and has but a short time to live? On the other hand, how does one reciprocate by denying fear and pain while patiently waiting for the final hour?  

Dr Abe V Rotor
I wrote this article a long time ago. I thought I would not come across it again. But there it popped out from my old files. By coincidence the issue of Dengvaxia stormed media and caused deep grief and anxiety to the guardians of 800,000 - perhaps a million - school children (and adults as well}, who were vaccinated with this controversial anti-Dengue vaccine.  

The whole nation was shocked while the whole world stood on its toes.The issue is recurrent, and the wound does not heal easily.  

I wish to share in this article my experience during the dark hours I had gone through.  It is however incomparable to the indescribable agony my fellow guardians and their loved ones are suffering.  More so, those mourning for the untimely death of their loved ones. 

I am aware of the universal essence of humanity, that of sharing pain and sorrow on the other side of love and joy.  And that I firmly believe in the redeeming power of a Higher Principle.     

All of us in one way or the other has experienced fear of losing a loved one because of a disease or extreme risk in profession.

It may come as a shock and there's so little time to compress so to speak, the opportunity to express a whole life's love. No wonder wakes are extremely emotional, regrets often come as apologies, and dirges the saddest personal expressions. We find ourselves unprepared to face the dark hours of our lives.

I remember auntie Nathaniel, a religious sister (SPC) called me on the phone one Sunday morning. 

"I'm here in a hospital, Abe. Can you play the violin for me?" She had pneumonia. 

"Gladly, Auntie, I'll be on my way."  

"Can you play now?" 

My wife held the handset as I played Meditation by Massenet, On Wings of Song by Mendelsohn, and  O Naraniag a Bulan (Oh, Bright Moon), a popular Ilocano serenade.  We come from the same hometown, San Vicente, near Vigan.  

"Thank you Abe, I'm going to sleep now."

I visited her the next day in the hospital. She was no longer there. She died soon after I had played, and after I had bid her,  "Have a good rest, Auntie. We all love you."  
(Sister Nathaniel, together with her sister, Sister Mamerta, and a cousin of mine Sister Trinidad, guided me back to continue my schooling during my stormy life as a teenager.) 
My dad at 78 was rushed from our hometown to Manila on a helicopter. He was suffering of a complicated case of diabetes. It was his first time he ever left home since he returned from the US before WWII, and after the death of my mother. 

After undergoing a major operation, he stayed with us in the city.  It was the most fulfilling moment of our lives as a family, and as father and son, in particular. It was also during this time my wife gave birth to our second child.  I saw Dad's face glow as he held baby Marlo in his arms. Three months after, he died peacefully.

y eldest son, who was a forceps baby, died a year after Dad left us. During his brief life I read for him chapter by chapter the life of the great Dr Albert Schweitzer.  Pao did not become a doctor as we dreamed of. Memory of our beloved Pao inspires us during difficult and trying times, It has also a humbling effect when things seem to go so well.

Here is a story of The Christmas Tree, one of the most moving movies I ever watched. It is as fresh in my memory as it was forty years ago.

The Christmas Tree, the movie 1969 (Synopsis)
Laurent, a widowed French-American millionaire, and his 10-year-old son, Pascal, are fishing near a desolate Corsican beach when a plane carrying an atomic weapon explodes overhead. Because Laurent is swimming underwater at the time, he suffers no harmful effects, but Pascal is exposed to radiation and develops leukemia.

The Christmas Tree is a story of a father and son trapped in a dilemma: Can you compress love of a lifetime?

Upon learning that his son has only a few months to live, Laurent stops working and takes Pascal to his country chateau. With the aid of his fiancĂ©e, Catherine, an art director for Paris Match, his wartime friend Verdun, who works as a caretaker at the chateau, and Verdun's wife, Marinette, Laurent tries to indulge the child's every whim. It soon becomes apparent that Pascal is aware of his fatal illness and calmly accepts the approach of death. 

Pascal loves his surroundings, and his father buys him a blue tractor and trailer to drive around the chateau grounds. Because the boy shows an interest in wolves, Laurent and Verdun break into a Paris zoo and steal two of the animals so that Pascal may train them as pets. After one of the wolves is rescued from a fall into a well, the boy nurses the animal. Later, a wild stallion colt attacks Pascal while he plays, and the wolves come to his rescue. 

On Christmas Eve, while Verdun is dressing for dinner and Laurent and Catherine are out doing last-minute shopping, Pascal begins to weaken. Upon returning to the chateau, Laurent discovers that his son has died at the foot of the Christmas tree, surrounded by his opened presents and guarded by his two howling pet wolves. Pascal's last gift to his father is a hand-carved wooden plaque wishing him and his friends good luck. ~

Acknowledgement: Internet Photos 

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Creative Writing in Photography-Poetry

Lesson in Literary and Music Composition 
A Wild Orchid and the Sun
Dr Abe V Rotor


A good friend taught me this approach to composition.  I might as well share with you. It's a wonderful experience:
  • Study the three related photos.  
  • Compose a poem of three stanzas in traditional or contemporary style, for each photo. 
  • Read your poem aloud while intently looking at the photos. 
  • Try humming a melody that fits the scene.  
  • Transpose the wordings into lyrics.  
  • Sing out your composition. Try on the piano, flute or violin.
  • Present your work to friends. Later, to critics.
  • Back to the "drawing board". Revise, modify.
  • Present in class or gathering.
It takes time, practice and a number of revisions until you come up with the final output.  Isn't beautiful, rewarding, fulfilling? ~

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

ASSIGNMENT: Indigenous Means of Transport (Article in Progress)

Dr Abe V Rotor

     1. Paragos (sled) – no wheel, no frame
2. Partigo (kariton without sidings) PHOTO
3. Kariton (wheel and frame w sidings and roof)
4. Taculi (boat sled)
5. Balsa (bamboo raft) PHOTO

6. Kasko (banca with curve roof)
7. Kangga (pair of sled with elevated flooring)
8. Dugout boat or canoe
9. Kayak version 
    10. Kalesa