Sunday, December 29, 2013

Rizal's "My Last Farewell" speaks of Nature and Nurture on the highest level

In commemoration of Rizal's 216th Death Anniversary December 30, 2013.  "My Last Farewell" - Jose Rizal’s Valedictory Poem
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Execution by musketry of Dr Jose P Rizal, Philippine National Hero, on December 30, 1896, at Bagumbayan, now Rizal Park ( Luneta), Manila .

By Nick Joaquin
Translated from the Spanish

Notes on Rizal’s Farewell Poem

A few days before his execution, Rizal wrote this touching poem in Spanish. He wrote it with no trembling hands; no erasures. The hero wrote on a commercial blue-lined paper measuring 9.5 cm wide and 15.5 cm long. The poem is untitled, undated and unsigned. Rizal hid it inside an alcohol stove he was using. In the afternoon of December 29, 1896, Rizal gave this alcohol stove as a gift to his younger sister Trinidad and whispered: “There is something inside.”

After the hero’s execution, Josephine Bracken got hold of the poem and brought it with her to Hong Kong. She sold it to an American who brought it to the US. In 1908, the US War Department informed the Philippine Gov. Gen. James Smith who instructed the Philippine Government to buy it back. The poem has been translated into practically all major languages of the world, and in many dialects.

Land that I love: farewell: O land the sun loves:
Pearl of the sea of the Orient: Eden lost to your brood!
Gaily go I to present you this hapless hopeless life;
Were it more brilliant: had it more freshness, more bloom:
Still for you would I give it: would give it for your good!

In barricades embattled, fighting in delirium,
Others give you their lives without doubts, without gloom.
The site nought matters: cypress, laurel or lily:
Gibbet or open field: combat or cruel martyrdom
Are equal if demanded by country and home.

I am to die when I see the heavens go vivid,
announcing the day at last behind the dead night.
If you need color – color to stain that dawn with,
Let spill my blood: scatter it in good hour:
And drench in its gold one beam of the newborn light.

My dream when a lad, when scarcely adolescent:
My dreams when a young man, now with vigor inflamed:
Were to behold you one day: Jewel of eastern waters:
Griefless the dusky eyes: lofty the upright brow:
Unclouded, unfurrowed, unblemished and unashamed!

Enchantment of my life: my ardent avid obsession:
To your health! Cries the soul, so soon to take the last leap:
To your health! O lovely: how lovely: to fall that you may rise!
To perish that you may live! To die beneath you skies!
And upon your enchanted ground the eternities to sleep!

Should you find some day somewhere on my gravemound, fluttering
Among tall grasses, a flower of simple fame:
Caress it with your lips and you kiss my soul:
I shall feel on my face across the cold tombstone:
Of your tenderness, the breath; of your breath, the flame.

Suffer the moon to keep watch, tranquil and suave, over me:
Suffer the dawn its flying lights to release:
Suffer the wind to lament in murmurous and grave manner:
And should a bird drift down and alight on my cross,
Suffer the bird to intone its canticle of peace.

Suffer the rains to dissolve in the fiery sunlight
And purified reascending heavenward bear my cause:
Suffer a friend to grieve I perished so soon:
And on fine evenings, when prays in my memory,
Pray also – O my land! – that in God I repose.

Pray for all who have fallen befriended by not fate:
For all who braved the bearing of torments all bearing past:
To our poor mothers piteously breathing in bitterness:
For widows and orphans: for those in tortured captivity
and yourself: pray to behold your redemption at last.

And when in dark night shrouded obscurely the graveyard lies
And only, only the dead keep vigil the night through:
Keep holy the place: keep holy the mystery.
Strains, perhaps, you will hear – of zither, or of psalter:
It is I – O land I love! – it is I, singing to you!

And when my grave is wholly unremembered
And unlocated (no cross upon it, no stone there plain):
Let the site be wracked by the plow and cracked by the spade
And let my ashes, before they vanish to nothing,
As dust be formed a part of your carpet again.

Nothing then will it matter to place me in oblivion!
Across your air, your space, your valleys shall pass my wraith!
A pure chord, strong and resonant, shall I be in your ears:
Fragrance, light and color: whispers, lyric and sigh:
Constantly repeating the essence of my faith!

Land that I idolized: prime sorrow among my sorrows:
Beloved Filipinas, hear me the farewell word:
I bequeath you everything – my family, my affections:
I go where no slaves are – nor butchers: nor oppressors:
Where faith cannot kill: where God’s the sovereign lord!

Farewell, my parents, my brothers – fragments of my soul:
Friends of old and playmates in childhood’s vanished house:
Offer thanks that I rest from the restless day!
Farewell, sweet foreigner – my darling, my delight!
Creatures I love, farewell! To die is to repose. ~

 Rizal's Last Farewell in Pilipino

Acknowledgment: Rizal and Josephine, by Gene Cabrera, courtesy of Philip Cabrera.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

10 CNN Heroes of 2013 - the everyday heroes of humanity. .

The everyday heroes of humanity   
Comments by Dr Abe V Rotor 
Chad Pregracke, CNN Hero of the year  
Philippine Environmentalists 
Pregracke, 38, grew up in East Moline, Illinois, where the Mississippi River was in his backyard. As a teenager, he worked as a commercial shell diver and began to notice the heaps of debris in the fabled waterway, which supplies drinking water to 18 million people in more than 50 U.S. cities.
"I saw thousands of barrels, thousands of tires, cars, trucks and tops of school buses. ... I got sick of seeing it and just wanted to do something about it," said Pregracke, whom some have called "the rivers' garbageman."
For nine months out of the year, Pregracke lives on a barge with members of his 12-person crew. They go around the country with a fleet of boats, and they try to make cleanup fun for the volunteers who show up in each city.
They use skits, music and mock motivational speeches to get the volunteers amped up, and sometimes they even do a little karaoke. Teams also compete to see who can find the "best" garbage.
"We do everything in our power to get people excited about it," Pregracke said. "We want people to leave feeling good about what they did so they'll come back."
Close to 90% of what they recover is recycled; Pregracke said the rest gets disposed of properly.
In addition to the river cleanup, Pregracke has launched a floating classroom barge where his staff educates high school students and teachers about the damages of pollution on river ecosystems. In 2007, his nonprofit implemented a program to plant 1 million trees along river shorelines to protect and restore the natural environment. The group is halfway to its goal.
Pregracke says his nonprofit has already held more than 700 cleanups on 23 rivers, but he says he's just getting started. He views his work as a different kind of service to the country.
"A lot of people call me a conservationist or an environmentalist, but the thing is I'm no different than anybody else," he said. "I just want to be known (as) a hardworking American."

Cleaning up the heavily polluted Pasig River complex is a nightmare. Although there are remarkable developments, the campaign is gaining more sponsors and supporters. Takbo para sa Pasig, a fun run was participated by thousands of citizens. But the real impact is the start of removing illegal settlers along the river's bank.  Filipinos are becoming more and more environmental conscious. Antonio Orosa Jr won the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2009 as environmental lawyer, Noel Cabagon sings about the environment, Chin Chin Gutierrez is an environmentalist through the arts, Von Hernandez is the action man in marginal settlements. The honoree and hero, Chad Pregracke has set the example of an environmentalist in the real essence.  

Here are the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2013, in alphabetical order: 

1. Dale Beatty: Making life easier for disabled veterans 
After Dale Beatty lost his legs in the Iraq war, his community thanked him for his service by helping him build a home. To pay it forward, Beatty co-founded Purple Heart Homes, which has helped build or modify homes for dozens of disabled U.S. veterans. "We wouldn't leave someone behind on the battlefield," Beatty said. "Why would we do it at home?"

 Infirmity is no excuse for not leading a normal life. In fact, among the greatest men and women in the world are on wheelchairs, directing the affairs of the state, introducing legislation in congress, and defending the constitution. They fought war and won.  It's the spirit in a frail body that made them victorious, the power of the mind and heart. 

2. Georges Bwelle: Bringing health care to the jungle
For decades, Georges Bwelle watched his father suffer, unable to get the medical attention he needed. Now a doctor, Bwelle travels into the jungles of his native Cameroon nearly every weekend, providing free medical care for those who don't have access to good health care. "To make people laugh, to reduce the pain, that's why I'm doing this," he said.
Barefoot doctors, they are sometimes called because they leave behind the amenities of comfortable living, as well as their sophisticated tools in hospitals, reminiscent of Dr Juan Flavier's "Doctor to the Barrio." More than health that they attend to the village doctor is often believed by the people as a know-all. The test of rural service is the extension of ones profession to the many facets of village life.  I remember there was once a book "Where there is no doctor" in English and Pilipino.  It was extremely useful where really there is no doctor around.  
3. Robin Emmons: Creating an oasis in a 'food desert'
More than 72,000 people in Charlotte, North Carolina, lack access to fresh produce. When Robin Emmons discovered this problem, she took action. "I decided to rip up my whole backyard and make it all a garden for people in need," she said. Since 2008, Emmons has grown more than 26,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables for area residents. 

One of the topics dicussed on Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School on Air) which Ms Melly C Tenorio and I have been conducting for a number of years now, focuses on home gardening that is applicable in both rural and urban areas by offering easy-to-follow models - virtually from A to Z. Here the models make a variety of plants to grow, from vegetables to orchard, herbals to ornamentals.  The key is to augment everyday needs in the kitchen, medicine as home remedies, as well as simple aesthetics for the home, healthful leisure notwithstanding. The whole concept centers on the principle of Bahay Kubo as an institution. 

4. Danielle Gletow: Granting wishes for foster kids
Foster children don't often get the things other children do, but Danielle Gletow is trying to help change that. She posts their wishes online so the public can help grant them. "I'm here to be the mom to all these kids who might not feel like they have one," she said. Since 2008, her group has helped grant more than 6,500 wishes in 42 states.

I appreciate Hollywood actor Brad Pitt and Angelina Jollie of their humanitarian project. It's heart warming to know orphans of different parentage given foster parent, home, and most importantly, future. Adoption is not uncommon, it is practiced in all societies with different policies, but the common denominator is, humanity must be whole and intact. An English poet beautiful put it, "when somebody dies, a part of each one of us also dies." When somebody triumphs a part in each member of humanity also triumphs.  Sp with healing, so with love. D Gletow must have the biggest heart of a mother. 

5. Tawanda Jones: Giving kids a way off deadly streets
Tawanda Jones is using dance to empower the youth of Camden, New Jersey, one of the poorest cities in the country. Through Jones' drill team program, at least 4,000 children have learned discipline, respect and community service -- and all of them have graduated high school. "We need to take back our city and, most importantly, take back our youth," Jones said. 

"New York, New York" has versions at Tondo notorious district, on dumpsite communities and prison camps. There was a band and dance troupe at the Bilibid Prison (Camp Sampaguita) in Muntinlupa which was part of the prison's rehabilitation. The key is in the success of T Jones ability to instill discipline in children to discipline themselves, a self renewal with continuing and lasting effect on character formation as they aim for bright future.   

6. Richard Nares: Helping sick kids get to chemo
For many children fighting cancer, it can be extremely tough to make it to their chemotherapy appointments. But Richard Nares started a group that gives them transportation and support. "No child should miss their cancer treatment due to lack of transportation," said Nares, who lost his son to leukemia in 2000.

Victims of cancer are becoming not only more in number but younger, these include very young children -  not to mention other major diseases like damaged kidney and diabetes. Indeed, the very young patients are pathetic to imagine the lost opportunity of their youth, maybe even to imagine a lost generation where epidemic may build up. R Nares may be able to cure, but as Mother Teresa put it, she gives comfort and dignity in the sick and dying, in their uphill climb and uncertain future.    

7. Kakenya Ntaiya: Educating girls for the first time
Kakenya Ntaiya is inspiring change in her native Kenyan village. After becoming the first woman in the village to attend college in the United States, she returned to open the village's first primary school for girls. "Our work is about empowering the girls," Ntaiya said. "They are dreaming of becoming lawyers, teachers, doctors."

What happens when one finishes college in the city - will he or she go back to his humble place of birth and serve.  Which reminds us of Plato's famous allegory about shadows seen in the darkness of a cave, and when a member of the group freed himself and traced the origin of the shadows, he never went back to "enlighten" his colleagues. Enlightenment is principal to learning, to K Ntaiya's empowerment. How many schools on the other hand were put up by enterprising educators for the motive of profit?  
8. Chad Pregracke: Cleaning up American rivers
Chad Pregracke has made it his life's work to clean up the Mississippi River and other American waterways. Since 1998, about 70,000 volunteers have helped Pregracke remove more than 7 million pounds of garbage from 22 rivers across the country. "Picking up garbage, it's tough, miserable and hot," Pregracke said. "We try to make it fun."

9. Estella Pyfrom: Bringing computers to kids in need
Estella Pyfrom used her life savings to create "Estella's Brilliant Bus," a mobile computer lab that provides tutoring for thousands of low-income students in Palm Beach County, Florida. "It's not just a bus, it's a movement," Pyfrom said. "And we're going to keep making a difference."

Bill and Melinda Gates, put up a foundation financed largely by their multi-billion wealth. Rationale: In spite of the fact that the world is "wired" by cyberspace technology, half of the population has so little to have for decent living - literacy, health, housing, longevity and the like - while the other half simply has too much affluence. Translated, the poor don't have the opportunity to build themselves up to have the capacity to rise above their present plight. Our own CNN hero Ka Efren PeƱaflorida's push part school brings school to the people; conventionally it is people going to school - in which case there are so few who can afford it. E Pyfrom works of this principle: reach out, take the school to the people, touch their lives. 
10. Laura Stachel: Lighting the way for safe childbirths
Laura Stachel created a special "solar suitcase" to help health care workers deliver babies in more than 20 developing countries. "I really want a world where women can deliver babies safely and with dignity," Stachel said. 

 CNN's Kathleen Toner and Erika Clarke contributed to the above report.
I remember our own Dr Fe Del Mundo, whom Ka Melly and I called as local Florence Nightingale, devised an incubator for the nursery, simple yet efficient, the design was adopted in hospitals and clinics. Innovations are key to easy operation and application at the grassroots.  Which made L Stahcel's contribution to health outstanding. Imagine 20 developing countries benefiting from her invention and its practical application.   

 (Acknowledgement: CNN Internet, TV broadcast, December 25, 2013)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Season Offering: Mother Teresa Nobel Peace Prize Lecture on LOVE. "We have been created in Christ's image to love and be loved,"

Selected parts of Mother Teresa's lecture on peace

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Nobel Lecture by Mother Teresa
Oslo, Norway - December 11th 1979

xxx "We have been created in his (Christ) image. We have been created to love and be loved, and then he has become man to make it possible for us to love as he loved us. He makes himself the hungry one- the naked one - the homeless one- the sick one- the one in prison- the lonely one - the unwanted one- and he says: You did it to me. Hungry for our love, and this is the hunger of our poor people. This is the hunger that you and I must find, it may be in our own home.

I never forget an opportunity I had in visiting a home where they had all these old parents of sons and daughters who had just put them in an institution and forgotten maybe. And I went there, and I saw in that home they had everything, beautiful things, but everybody was looking towards the door. And I did not see a single one with their smile on their face. And I turned to the Sister and I asked: How is that? How is it that the people they have everything here, why are they all looking towards the door, why are they not smiling? I am so used to see the smile on our people, even the dying one smile, and she said: This is nearly every day, they are expecting, they are hoping that a son or daughter will come to visit them. They are hurt because they are forgotten, and see- this is where love comes. That poverty comes right there in our own home, even neglect of love. Maybe in our own family we have somebody who is feeling lonely, who is feeling sick, who is feeling worried, and these are difficult days for everybody. Are we there, are we there to receive them, is the mother there to receive the child?

I was surprised in the West to see so many young boys and girls given into drugs, and I tried to find out why- why it is like that, and the answer was: Because there is no one in the family to receive them. Father and mother are so busy they have no time. Young parents are in some institution and the child takes back to the street and gets involved in something. We are talking of peace. These are things that break peace, but I feel the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a direct war, a direct killing- direct murder by the mother herself. And we read in the Scripture, for God says very clearly: Even if a mother could forget her child- I will not forget you - I have carved you in the palm of my hand. We are carved in the palm of His hand, so close to Him that unborn child has been carved in the hand of God. And that is what strikes me most, the beginning of that sentence, that even if a mother could forget something impossible - but even if she could forget - I will not forget you. 

And today the greatest means - the greatest destroyer of peace is abortion. And we who are standing here - our parents wanted us. We would not be here if our parents would do that to us. Our children, we want them, we love them, but what of the millions. Many people are very, very concerned with the children in India, with the children in Africa where quite a number die, maybe of malnutrition, of hunger and so on, but millions are dying deliberately by the will of the mother. And this is what is the greatest destroyer of peace today. Because if a mother can kill her own child- what is left for me to kill you and you kill me- there is nothing between. 

And this I appeal in India, I appeal everywhere: Let us bring the child back, and this year being the child's year: What have we done for the child? At the beginning of the year I told, I spoke everywhere and I said: Let us make this year that we make every single child born, and unborn, wanted. And today is the end of the year, have we really made the children wanted? I will give you something terrifying. We are fighting abortion by adoption, we have saved thousands of lives, we have sent words to all the clinics, to the hospitals, police stations - please don't destroy the child, we will take the child. So every hour of the day and night it is always somebody, we have quite a number of unwedded mothers- tell them come, we will take care of you, we will take the child from you, and we will get a home for the child. And we have a tremendous demand from families who have no children, that is the blessing of God for us. And also, we are doing another thing which is very beautiful- we are teaching our beggars, our leprosy patients, our slum dwellers, our people of the street, natural family planning.

And in Calcutta alone in six years- it is all in Calcutta- we have had 61,273 babies less from the families who would have had, but because they practise this natural way of abstaining, of self-control, out of love for each other. We teach them the temperature meter which is very beautiful, very simple, and our poor people understand. And you know what they have told me? Our family is healthy, our family is united, and we can have a baby whenever we want. So clear- those people in the street, those beggars- and I think that if our people can do like that how much more you and all the others who can know the ways and means without destroying the life that God has created in us.

The poor people are very great people. They can teach us so many beautiful things. The other day one of them came to thank and said: You people who have vowed chastity you are the best people to teach us family planning. Because it is nothing more than self-control out of love for each other. And I think they said a beautiful sentence. And these are people who maybe have nothing to eat, maybe they have not a home where to live, but they are great people. The poor are very wonderful people. One evening we went out and we picked up four people from the street. And one of them was in a most terrible condition- and I told the Sisters: You take care of the other three, I take of this one that looked worse. So I did for her all that my love can do. I put her in bed, and there was such a beautiful smile on her face. She took hold of my hand, as she said one word only: Thank you - and she died.

I could not help but examine my conscience before her, and I asked what would I say if I was in her place. And my answer was very simple. I would have tried to draw a little attention to myself, I would have said I am hungry, that I am dying, I am cold, I am in pain, or something, but she gave me much more - she gave me her grateful love. And she died with a smile on her face. As that man whom we picked up from the drain, half eaten with worms, and we brought him to the home. I have lived like an animal in the street, but I am going to die like an angel, loved and cared for. And it was so wonderful to see the greatness of that man who could speak like that, who could die like that without blaming anybody, without cursing anybody, without comparing anything. Like an angel- this is the greatness of our people. And that is why we believe what Jesus had said: I was hungry- I was naked - I was homeless - I was unwanted, unloved, uncared for - and you did it to me.

I believe that we are not real social workers. We may be doing social work in the eyes of the people, but we are really contemplatives in the heart of the world. For we are touching the Body Of Christ 24 hours. We have 24 hours in this presence, and so you and I. You too try to bring that presence of God in your family, for the family that prays together stays together. And I think that we in our family don't need bombs and guns, to destroy to bring peace - just get together, love one another, bring that peace, that joy, that strength of presence of each other in the home. And we will be able to overcome all the evil that is in the world.

There is so much suffering, so much hatred, so much misery, and we with our prayer, with our sacrifice are beginning at home. Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do, but how much love we put in the action that we do. It is to God Almighty- how much we do it does not matter, because He is infinite, but how much love we put in that action. How much we do to Him in the person that we are serving.

Some time ago in Calcutta we had great difficulty in getting sugar, and I don't know how the word got around to the children, and a little boy of four years old, Hindu boy, went home and told his parents: I will not eat sugar for three days, I will give my sugar to Mother Teresa for her children. After three days his father and mother brought him to our home. I had never met them before, and this little one could scarcely pronounce my name, but he knew exactly what he had come to do. He knew that he wanted to share his love. xxx

And so here I am talking with you- I want you to find the poor here, right in your own home first. And begin love there. Be that good news to your own people. And find out about your next-door-neighbor - do you know who they are? I had the most extraordinary experience with a Hindu family who had eight children. A gentleman came to our house and said: Mother Teresa, there is a family with eight children, they had not eaten for so long - do something. So I took some rice and I went there immediately. And I saw the children - their eyes shining with hunger - I don't know if you have ever seen hunger. But I have seen it very often. And she took the rice, she divided the rice, and she went out. When she came back I asked her - where did you go, what did you do? And she gave me a very simple answer: They are hungry also. What struck me most was that she knew - and who are they, a Muslim family - and she knew. I didn't bring more rice that evening because I wanted them to enjoy the joy of sharing. But there were those children, radiating joy, sharing the joy with their mother because she had the love to give. And you see this is where love begins - at home. And I want you- and I am very grateful for what I have received. It has been a tremendous experience and I go back to India- I will be back by next week, the 15th I hope - and I will be able to bring your love.

And I know well that you have not given from your abundance, but you have given until it has hurt you. Today the little children they have- I was so surprised - there is so much joy for the children that are hungry. That the children like themselves will need love and care and tenderness, like they get so much from their parents. So let us thank God that we have had this opportunity to come to know each other, and this knowledge of each other has brought us very close. And we will be able to help not only the children of India and Africa, but will be able to help the children of the whole world, because as you know our Sisters are all over the world. And with this prize that I have received as a prize of peace, I am going to try to make the home for many people that have no home. Because I believe that love begins at home, and if we can create a home for the poor- I think that more and more love will spread. And we will be able through this understanding love to bring peace, be good news to the poor. The poor in our own family first, in our country and in the world. 

xxx Around the world, not only in the poor countries, but I found the poverty of the West so much more difficult to remove. When I pick up a person from the street, hungry, I give him a plate of rice, a piece of bread, I have satisfied. I have removed that hunger. But a person that is shut out, that feels unwanted, unloved, terrified, the person that has been thrown out from society - that poverty is so hurtable and so much, and I find that very difficult. Our Sisters are working amongst that kind of people in the West. So you must pray for us that we may be able to be that good news, but we cannot do that without you, you have to do that here in your country. You must come to know the poor, maybe our people here have material things, everything, but I think that if we all look into our own homes, how difficult we find it sometimes to smile at each other, and that the smile is the beginning of love.

And so let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love, and once we begin to love each other naturally we want to do something. So you pray for our Sisters and for me and for our Brothers, and for our Co-Workers that are around the world. That we may remain faithful to the gift of God, to love Him and serve Him in the poor together with you. What we have done we should not have been able to do if you did not share with your prayers, with your gifts, this continual giving. But I don't want you to give me from your abundance, I want that you give me until it hurts.

The other day I received 15 dollars from a man who has been on his back for twenty years, and the only part that he can move is his right hand. And the only companion that he enjoys is smoking. And he said to me: I do not smoke for one week, and I send you this money. It must have been a terrible sacrifice for him, but see how beautiful, how he shared, and with that money I bought bread and I gave to those who are hungry with a joy on both sides, he was giving and the poor were receiving. This is something that you and I - it is a gift of God to us to be able to share our love with others.

 And let it be as it was for Jesus. Let us love one another as he loved us. Let us love Him with undivided love. And the joy of loving Him and each other- let us give now - that Christmas is coming so close. Let us keep that joy of loving Jesus in our hearts. And share that joy with all that we come in touch with. And that radiating joy is real, for we have no reason not to be happy because we have no Christ with us. Christ in our hearts, Christ in the poor that we meet, Christ in the smile that we give and the smile that we receive. Let us make that one point: That no child will be unwanted, and also that we meet each other always with a smile, especially when it is difficult to smile.

I never forget some time ago about fourteen professors came from the United States from different universities. And they came to Calcutta to our house. Then we were talking about that they had been to the home for the dying. We have a home for the dying in Calcutta, where we have picked up more than 36,000 people only from the streets of Calcutta, and out of that big number more than 18,000 have died a beautiful death. They have just gone home to God; and they came to our house and we talked of love, of compassion, and then one of them asked me: Say, Mother, please tell us something that we will remember, and I said to them: Smile at each other, make time for each other in your family. Smile at each other. 

And then another one asked me: Are you married, and I said: Yes, and I find it sometimes very difficult to smile at Jesus because he can be very demanding sometimes. This is really something true, and there is where love comes - when it is demanding, and yet we can give it to Him with joy. Just as I have said today, I have said that if I don't go to Heaven for anything else I will be going to Heaven for all the publicity because it has purified me and sacrificed me and made me really ready to go to Heaven. I think that this is something, that we must live life beautifully, we have Jesus with us and He loves us. If we could only remember that God loves me, and I have an opportunity to love others as he loves me, not in big things, but in small things with great love, then Norway becomes a nest of love. xxx

Mother Teresa Speech (Nobel Lecture Speech, Internet)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Movies on Parade at UST: Movies Fill Our Lives

 Movies on Parade at UST
Movies Fill Our Lives
Dr Abe V Rotor
Of pirates and witches...

Fantasy comes down to earth alive
in flesh walking: ghosts, fairies,
creatures of sea and land they thrive
in human laughter and tears

that fill empty lives e’en just a while
and give the world a break
in the idleness of time passing by
cares and worries at stake  

where friends and foes hold hands,
monsters tame and meek;
stories sad and happy cater to fans,
all for freedom they seek

from doctrinaire and conventions;
for it’s imagination that rules
and dictates all human institutions
with technology its tools;

movies – books visual, by audition,
in make believe and reality,
man’s gift to himself, his own  invention,   
his passport to liberty. ~

Wizard of Oz and fairytales
Of forest deities and kingdoms 
Finding Nemo, the friendly fish

Of old cultures and postmodern

And adventure with the imagination …

Monday, December 9, 2013

12 Functions of Toys

12 Functions of Toys
Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature - School on Blog
Lesson: Building toys is indeed a manifestation of intelligence and revelation of a hidden talent. With changing time and life becoming more and more difficult, what are toys for? After reading this lesson, write an essay on Functional Toys – A Revolution in Toys 

When I saw a film about suspending Christmas in America during the First World War, I thought that the idea was good. For how can a nation at war afford to manufacture toys, celebrate Christmas at home when thousands of its citizens are out there in the battlefield? So the 
A boy's version of a football, Jakarta, Indonesia
campaign was – No Christmas, No Toys. At least temporarily until the war is over. So toy companies went into manufacturing arms and war materiel, people were told to buy bonds, not toys. Logical isn't?
Little horse on wheels, ancient Greek child's toy. Miniature of the Trojan Horse in Homer's Iliad. From a tomb dating 950-900 BCE, Kerameikos Archaeological Museum, Athens
Until the president of one of America’s biggest toymaker AC rallied against the campaign and before the US Congress closed for the Christmas, he convinced the body to re-consider the campaign. So convincing was his approach by showing toy models that the President himself lifted the No Christmas, No Toys Campaign that very Christmas.

What was AC’s selling point? First, he rode on the foundation of American culture that gives importance to important events and celebrations. But the key was his revolutionary concept of toys.  Toy models that stir the mind of the young to associate themselves with issues, to stir imagination and invention: learning toys.

Let's consider the functions of toys.

1. Toys can help children to learn – learn positively and functionally, meaning toys that have applied value; toys that can increase functional literacy.

2. Toys can tap inventive skills - Not toys that merely stimulate curiosity. By so doing, toys are dismantled and eventually destroyed without satisfying curiosity itself – much less added to basic and functional knowledge. Many inventions started as toys. Examples: pendulum of a clock, gyroscope of airplane, electromagnet in metal industry.

3. There are sorts of toys, irrespective of status in life. What should be the toys of the poor, the children in marginal communities? Are there toys that can help them in their plight – at least ultimately, in one way or the other. If there are toys of this kind, what are their special features? Principle of a push cart. Building a house (bahay bahayan).

4. Differentiate toys from gadgets, say a cell phone or computer? Computer games need re-classification. Explain what is mere entertainment from a functional toy.

5. Electric and electronic devices have taken out the quaintness and challenges of toys. But you can ingeniously modify them. Toys should be learning tools. Toys should not deprive our children of their time to play, to attend to their hobbies, and to be at the playground or in the countryside with nature.

6. Devise games that teach children values. Games that do not only make us aware of our responsibilities as citizens but as members of the living world – as ecologists or environmentalists.

7. Know what to do with your toys after you have used them, or outgrown them. There are toys for recycling. Are they transformable in the sense that they can be useful again with the lesson they carry? Should toys be permanent or at least lasting?

8. Toys create a healthy archetype which children will use as tool when they grow up. Can toys be shared with adults and therefore the lessons are likewise commonly shared – lessons that are useful in strengthening values, in building skills, etc.?

9. There are toys worth keeping for a life time. There are toys that remind us of our childhood even when we shall have grown very old. Remember Maria in Sound of Music sing My Favorite Things.

10. Express love on living toys? Unlike rhinoceros beetles in tug-of-war, and spider {gagambang hari) gladiators, we can culture butterflies in our garden, build nest for transient birds.

11. Toys promote universal values, such as preservation and exchange of cultures, cooperation, brotherhood and peace. Toys are agents of peace and understanding.

12. Toys are investments, they make a wholesome enterprise. No country or organization has the monopoly of toys.

Does a toy lead to invention? I noticed a sign on an assembled motor car, "Toy for big boys." Remember the solar powered car made by De La Salle boys which caught world attention? Earmuff was invented by a boy, so with the stethoscope.

There are inventions miniaturized into toys. These become teaching models and learning aids. I visited the miniaturized city of Madurodam in the Netherlands. Everything is a miniaturized version of say, the Eiffel Tower, the Pyramids, the Himalayas. Madorodam is a one-hectare site of thousands of famous buildings, personalities, landcapes, events,and the like. It is a sprawling sand table.

Wood blocks puzzle, plastic machine model, assortment of typical toys reflects modern living.
Toys are as universal as the language of music; they are the language of     children, and people who nurture precious childhood. Toys are the best teachers. They are the key to world peace.~

Monday, December 2, 2013

Malunggay - Manna from Heaven

Dr Abe V Rotor

Miracle tree vegetable - the most nutritious green food (Moringa oleifera)

There are many things that come to us through Providence that we can describe as “Manna from Heaven.”

We have so far survived two pessimistic predictions which are two hundred years apart: first, the Malthusian Theory of Catastrophe – rapid population growth to outstrip the world’s resources (1789), and second, Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock – the “disease” that accompany rapid technological change (1970).

Both prophesies jolted us sitting on the bench of the so-called good life. Social and economic transformation brought us to a modern world, and industrialization’s accelerated thrust catapulted us to a post-modern world,we call Post-modernism. Long before these global events happened, the ancient world saw the rise and fall of civilizations in a prototype pattern characteristic of the prophesies of Malthus and Toffler. The most celebrated of such event was the fusion and sudden collapse of the Greco-Roman Empire. Surprisingly however, the Greco-Roman culture became the model of the Renaissance in the 15th century, and the centuries that followed, including our present one.

All of these tested the resilience of mankind. Apparently, we were able to disprove the Malthusian Theory through Green Revolution in the sixties and seventies doubling or tripling agricultural production. We opened new territories, invaded the sea and converted wastelands to farmlands, while science and technology vastly improved production efficiency, and created new varieties and breeds of plants and animals.

We too, have survived the Cold War which lasted for fifty long years. Since the nineties, nations formerly polarized by the ideologies of free capitalism and socialism have merged into a “global village.” Never in history has the world turned into a common path of cultural, social, and economic globalization.

Now we are engaged in another great upheaval. We are experiencing the worse economic crisis since the Great Depression of America in the twenties and thirties. It is history repeating itself. The ghost of Malthus has returned, haunting us with gloom scenarios of worldwide miseries. Our population now 6.7 billion continues to increase in geometric proportion, while the availability and costs of goods and services are spiraling beyond the reach of the masses. Meantime the environment continues to deteriorate from the deleterious by-products of industrialization - pollution. We are destroying the base of production itself.

It is as if we are in a neo-exodus crossing a bigger desert this time, involving a thousand-fold throng, seeking deliverance as we strive to reach “the land of plenty.” The way is long and uncertain because it seems to be uncharted - ironically amidst a revolution in knowledge we quite often describe as “technology age,” “information highway,” “space age,” “cyberspace,” “electronic age.” Actually we do not need all of these in our search for that Promised Land.

Manna from Heaven may have a number of interpretations, from hoarfrost on grass at daybreak, to honey-like secretion of insects. It could be the crust of lichen or mycellia of a mushroom, or gum tapped from tamarisk, a legume tree growing in the desert. Researchers found other possible sources of Manna, which include the Manna Ash, a native to southern Europe and Southwest Asia.

In our sojourn to that Promised Land we find along our way a variety of manna that we can assure ourselves that “we shall not want.” We liken our native malunggay tree to the tamarisk or the Manna Ash. We have a diverse source of short- growing food crops we barely cultivate which like hoarfrost and honeydew become available at daybreak as we begin another day of travel. And like the biblical bread and fish during the Sermon on the Mount, there are manna that multiply with people’s faith and effort with the blessing of Providence.

Certainly there are the likes of the deliverer Moses in our midst. We greet and salute them. Above all, we join them in their campaign. Yes, we can find that Promised Land. And we shall not want along the way.

I congratulate Dr. Domingo D. Tapiador and Mr. Dell H. Grecia not only for writing this book, but for the examples they set in their lives as true leaders and Christians, their exemplary scholarship and professionalism, notwithstanding. I join the reader in using this book as an everyday guide in our journey to the Promised Land.~

Foreword: Manna from Heaven Volume 1 and 2

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Banana leaves - best food wrapper

Dr Abe V Rotor
Banana plant (Musa sapientum L) Cavendish variety; leaves and blossom sold in the market.

Banana leaves make the best food wrapper. It is practical, multipurpose, aromatic and environment-friendly.

Imagine if there were no banana leaves to make these favorite delicacies: suman, tupig, bucayo, bibingka, patupat, puto, tinubong, biko-biko, and the like. We would be missing their characteristic flavor and aroma, and their indigenous trade mark. So with a lot of recipes like paksiw na isda, lechon, tamales and rice cooked with banana leaves lining. Banana leaves have natural wax coating which aid in keeping the taste and aroma of food, while protecting it from harmful microbes.

 Preparing leaf for tamales, first by wilting it over fire, wrapping fish (dilis) with spice and salt, finally steaming.

In the elementary, we used banana leaves as floor polish. The wax coating makes wooden floors as shiny as any commercial floor wax sans the smell of turpentine. Banana leaves when wilted under fire exude a pleasant smell. When ironing clothes use banana leaves on the iron tray. It makes ironing cleaner and smoother, and it imparts a pleasant, clean smell to clothes and fabric.

This is how to prepare banana leaf wrapper.

1. Select the tall saba variety or other varieties.

2. Get the newly mature leaves. Leave half of the leaf to allow plant to recover. Regulate the harvesting of young leaves as this will affect the productivity of the plant.

3. Wilt the gathered leaves by passing them quickly over fire or live charcoal until they are limp and oily. Avoid smoky flame as this will discolor the leaves and impart a smoky smell (napanu-os).

4. Wipe both sides of the leaves with clean soft cloth until they are glossy and clean.

5. Cut wilted leaves with desired size, shape and design. Arrange to enhance presentation and native ambiance.

Keep in your backyard at least a hill of banana (mother plant cum tillers), preferably saba variety, and you will have all the things that the banana provides - ripe fruits, green fruits for flour and pesang dalag, trunk for ties, rope and padding, puso or heart for kare-kare.

And most important, the leaves - they make the best food wrapper. ~

Other leaf-wrappers
  • Gabi (Laing)
  • Mango leaves (tamales)
  • Woven coconut leaves (sinambong)
  • Buri palm (suman)
  • Pandan (kanin, arroz valenciana)
References: Wikipedia, Living with Folk Wisdom, AV Rotor

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A Halloween Reminder: Don't Kill the Trees, Don't!

Dr Abe V Rotor
 Living with Nature School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School-on-Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM Band, 8 to 9 evening class Monday to Friday
Pine tree killed by pollution,
Mt Pulag, Benguet 1988
Kamachili tree sacrificed to give way to a new road.
Barangay Sagpat, Bantay, Ilocos Sur

Camphor tree killed by water logging during
Typhoon Ondoy 2009, UST Manila

Don't kill the trees, don't;
make a stairway across;
save the clouds that fill the font,
we have had enough, the Cross.