Friday, September 27, 2013

"I am looking for an honest man." Diogenes holding a lamp in midday.

Dr Abe V Rotor
Diogenes used to stroll about in full daylight with a lamp.  When asked what he was doing, he would answer, "I am just looking for an honest man."  Diogenes looked for a human being but reputedly found nothing but rascals and scoundrels.  

Oh, Diogenes, don't despair,
put off your lamp at midday;
save it for the darkest hour,
when people rage than pray,
storm the Bastille, cry the trilogy:
Liberte', Egalite', Fraternite'.

and if that dawn be spilled 
with crimson then let it be
in the halls of true justice,
for heads to roll in ignominy;
if so few make no difference
light again your lamp at midday. ~   AVR 


It was in Corinth that a meeting between Alexander the Great and Diogenes is supposed to have taken place. While Diogenes was relaxing in the sunlight in the morning, Alexander, thrilled to meet the famous philosopher, asked if there was any favor he might do for him. Diogenes replied, "Yes, stand out of my sunlight". Alexander then declared, "If I were not Alexander, then I should wish to be Diogenes.", to which Diogenes replied "If I were not Diogenes, I should also wish to be Diogenes." In another account of the conversation, Alexander found the philosopher looking attentively at a pile of human bones. Diogenes explained, "I am searching for the bones of your father but cannot distinguish them from those of a slave. (Wikipedia)


Diogenes preferred to live a simple life and had no permanent home, but in public places.  Here he lives in a discarded jar, holding the proverbial lamp that made him famous. Pictures from Wikipedia.

Diogenes Quotes 

1. Those who have virtue always in their mouths, and neglect it in practice, are like a harp, which emits a sound pleasing to others, while itself is insensible of the music.
2. I have nothing to ask but that you would remove to the other side, that you may not, by intercepting the sunshine, take from me what you cannot give.

3. Wise kings generally have wise counselors; and he must be a wise man himself who is capable of distinguishing one.

4. I threw my cup away when I saw a child drinking from his hands at the trough.

5. We have two ears and one tongue so that we would listen more and talk less.

6. The vine bears three kinds of grapes: the first of pleasure, the second of intoxication, the third of disgust.

7. As a matter of self-preservation, a man needs good friends or ardent enemies, for the former instruct him and the latter take him to task.

8. I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world.

9. The foundation of every state is the education of its youth.

10.. When I look upon seamen, men of science and philosophers, man is the wisest of all beings; when I look upon priests and prophets nothing is as contemptible as man.



Photo:Diogenes looking for a man - attributed to JHW Tischbein.jpg; picture of painting from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia; quotes from BrainyQuote Internet. Diogenes of Sinope (also Diogenes the Cynic) was a Greek philosopher and one of the founders of Cynic philosophy. Also known as Diogenes the Cynic, he was born in Sinope, an Ionian colony on the Black Sea, in 412 or 404 BCE and died at Corinth in 323 BCE

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Waterlilies - Monet's ultimate masterpiece

Waterlilies - Monet's ultimate masterpiece in the twilight of his life 
Dr Abe V Rotor 
Acknowledgment: photos from the Internet, Wikipedia. 


Waterlilies - Claude Monet's Signature

Claude Monet (1840-1926); murals in a museum enshrine his fame.  

Monet painted his famous murals Waterlilies towards the end his long productive life as an impressionist. He worked with fading eyesight and in frail health. Few men have shown such an extraordinary feat.  Among them was the great modern painter Pablo Picasso. Ernest Hemingway's Nobel prize winning novel, The Old Man and the Sea, pictures such rare quality with sweet irony of anonymity.

What a genius to make a masterpiece with the last rays of the sun, 
drawing each like thread and weaving the aging colors of rainbow; 
while thousands at their bidding rise early to catch the rising sun,
aiming at fortune - and failing - search it at the end of the rainbow. ~

Monday, September 23, 2013

Invitation to a forest mural

Invitation to a forest mural
Dr Abe V Rotor 
Wall mural by the author and his children - Marlo, Anna and Leo Carlo. St Paul University QC 2002

Come into the forest and leave all your things behind 
       and discover a world once your own, 
ancestral home of your forebears through evolution
       where the first seed of mankind was sown.

Come into the forest of murmuring trees primeval, 
       cradle of  creatures big and small,
where in diversity, sages say, there's harmony,
       home to the transients and tenants all. 

Come to the forest that was, and had been, Milton's best,
       Rousseau's scenery and Tarzan's lair.
Where the famed Paradise was lost and never regained,
       so with the gods and the deities fair.  

Come to a make-believe forest, masterpiece of man,
        whose art combines the truth with the tale,  
a wall transformed into landscape in a city jungle 
        reminding us all should we fail.  

The Art of Contrast in Nature

Dr Abe V Rotor
.
A painting could be or as rough and daring as a waterfall,
                                         ... or as soft and delicate as an orchid 
It's all in the inner eye of the artist, 
sanctuary of the real and the ideal,
the ugly and the beautiful,
of water rising into clouds and pouring down as rain,
 in cadence with lightning and thunder, 
waking the summer stream,
 roaring through the river of no return.
  
Time passes, forgetfulness reigns,
how numbed, how lifeless ...
then rises a new life, peeping into a world
where once a waterfall was careless and supreme,
where once a river flowed,
where trees stood to reach the sky
and nurtures life under their crown,
unknown, unseen,
The Artist: ANNA ROTOR-
STA MARIA

until immaculate white petals open
to greet the day,
a new world, a new beginning.~.




Autumn in Paintings, Verses and Song

Autumn in Paintings, Verses and Song
Dr Abe V Rotor
Autumn Leaves in acrylic by AVR                    
The Woods in Autumn acrylic by AVR
Autumn Moods

Meditate at sunrise
In kaleidoscope of colors
Weaving through the mist, 
With whispers of devotion.

Take a book and flip the pages,
Slowly with intent feelings,
As the early breeze brushes
Your forehead  and brawn.

Or walk down the lane
Trodden only by the unseen;
Before the season is over,
Let each one praise Nature.

Autumn Leaves 1
The falling leaves
Drift by my window
The falling leaves
Of red and gold

I see your lips
The summer kisses
The sunburned hands
I used to hold

Since you went away
The days grow long
And soon I'll hear
Old winter's song

But I miss you most of all
My darling
When autumn leaves
Start to fall

Since you went away
The days grow long
And soon I'll hear
Old winter's song

But I miss you most of all
My darling
When autumn leaves
Start to fall.


 A Walk in the Woods in Autumn acrylic by AVR
Autumn Leaves 2

The falling leaves drift by the window
The autumn leaves of red and gold
I see your lips, the summer kisses
The sun-burned hands I used to hold

Since you went away the days grow long
And soon I'll hear old winter's song
But I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall

C'est une chanson, qui nous ressemble
Toi tu m'aimais et je t'aimais
Nous vivions tous, les deux ensemble
Toi que m'aimais moi qui t'aimais
Mais la vie sépare ceux qui s'aiment
Tout doucement sans faire de bruit
Et la mer efface sur le sable les pas des amants désunis


"Autumn Leaves" is a much-recorded popular song. Originally it was a 1945 French song "Les feuilles mortes" (literally "The Dead Leaves") with music by Hungarian-French composer Joseph Kosma and lyrics by poet Jacques Prevert the Hungarian title is "Hulló levelek" (Falling Leaves). Yves Montand (with Irene Joachim) introduced "Les feuilles mortes" in 1946 in the film Les Portes de la Nuit.  
The American songwriter Johnny Mercer wrote English lyrics in 1947 and Jo Stafford was among the first to perform this version. "Autumn Leaves" became a pop standard and a jazz standard in both languages, both as an instrumental and with a singer. Popularized by world famous singers like Frank Sinatra, and Nat King Cole. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

"Please come, and I'll give Thee rest."

Mural and Poem by Dr Abe V Rotor

Wall mural and pond, at home, AVR 2010

The walls I painted hills and valleys and forests, 
towering to the roof I painted blue, clouds rising, 
birds flying in flock to meet the rising sun, as fresh
as the morning air, chirping sweet songs, circling;

And below a dozen pako fish wake to the golden 
reflection of morning, eager for food and company;
I wonder if ever they feel the confines of a den,
for I have faithfully copied Rousseau's scenery.  

Dream no more I said to myself, of Paradise Regained -
It is here, in the very core of being next to the heart
and soul, this Phrygian landscape with touch of vane,
the essence of contrition and amendment for my part.

For nothing is unforgivable, that Sin inherited by us
from our ancestors - we're doomed, deprived of heaven
on earth. No! the gifts of our Creator have been passed
onward, and here I created a piece of that lost Eden.

Here I see God across the wall, and above my head,
His harmonious creation over land, across the sea,
I am part of the cycle of life everyday, even in bed,
as seasons come and go, here I feel always free.

When lakes and rivers dry, and the sky no longer blue;
as cities grow, land fills with waste, air no longer fresh;
I pick my brush, say a prayer in color, shade and hue,
to my Creator, "Please come, and I'll give Thee rest." ~  

UST-AB Finals (3CA1 2 3 4); PowerPoint Presentation Topics and Rules

Dr Abe V Rotor

For the finals, prepare a 50-frame PowerPoint Presentation about a topic of your choice, with preference to the following: . 
  • Successful UST Alumini in their respective fields of specialization, and community - at least five Thomasians.  They must have finished a course at UST.  They are looked upon as model, and practicing Thomasian values and principles.  
  • UST in action - events on-campus and outside that projects UST image as an ideal institution of learning.  Documentary  in nature, your work must speak well and true about UST and its alumni. 
  • UN campaign on reducing food waste which runs to billions of dollars a day.  When computed in relation to present need, savings on food waste would suffice supply, proper nutrition, improved health, and alleviating poverty.
  • Restoring integrity of government, upholding people's right to be governed by sincere, honest, and qualified leaders.  Restoring faith of people in their government, improving international image of the country.
  • True picture of the Filipino.  Who is he today in the face of tradition on the one hand, and globalization on the other - his regard to religion, family, career, commitment to community, his outlook to the future.  Does the Thomasian fit into the picture?   

  • "The Filipino is first," "Only in the Philippines," "The Filipino can." "Where in the Philippines?"  These and many more adages, motherhood statements, gimmicks, put the Philippines in the limelight.  Behind all these are disturbing issues: high infant mortality, birthrate, corruption, crime, traffic, cost of electricity, water, transportation, low productivity etc. Can the Thomasian do something? 

  • Environmental concerns, area- and event-specific. 
  • University without Walls, Distance Education, E-Learning, on-line teaching
Topics of your choice must be first approved by the professor.   

  • Presentation is one-on-one with the professor starting October 4, Friday (3CA3 and 3CA4), and October 7 for 3CA1 and 3CA 2. Sequence to be arranged by the class officers.
  • Holistic presentation, i.e., inter disciplinary, functional, experiential, contemporary.  
  • Present objectively, with positive views and advocacy. Uphold values and Filipino culture, and code of journalism.  
  • Follow standard format for PowerPoint, with modifications as may be necessary. 
  • Work must be original and specific to the present  course of Photography.  Previously submitted work in other subjects not accepted.  
  • Sign each photo you actually took at the right side, bottom. 
  • Show your presence  in action. 
  •  Use photos not your own only when necessary.  
  • Avoid downloading from the Internet. Be aware of intellectual property rights, laws and rules in journalism and publication.   
  • Label CD, including case (front and back) with your own original design.
  • Print CD content, portrait, 6 frames per page. 

    Your work will be submitted to our Faculty of Arts and Letters as part of its reference materials and documentary, with signed endorsement by the author, noted by the professor. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Biological Basis of Selfishness and Selflessness

Dr Abe V Rotor
 
The hermit crab lives on discarded shell, moves to a bigger one as it grows.  Sea anemones, barnacles, seaweeds and others  live on its shell-house which it caries from place to place thus benefiting these symbionts.  In turn they provide camouflage to the hermit crab from predators, and in its search for prey. Photo credit from Internet and Wikipedia.  

All organisms, simple or complex, plant or animal – and human – are governed by genes, which through the long process of evolution, are the very tools for survival in Darwin’s treatise on Survival of the Fittest through Natural Selection.

The acquisition of successful genes is key to the survival of present day species, and the explanation on the failure of those which did not. Two words are important: adaptation and competition. This dual attributes are directed to self-preservation through the process of acquiring the basic necessities of life either by adjusting to it passively or actively. Definitely it is not one that is easy to share to the extent of losing its benefit in favor of another.

But if we analyze it, this is true to each individual. Now organisms do not live as individuals; they live as a community, as a society. Which leads us to the logical inference that if the individual organism, in order to survive must be selfish, then how can it be able to establish a community in which it ultimately become a part?

This is very important because the community is the key to resource sharing from food to space; it is the key to collective bargaining in times of peace or war. The community is like a bundle of individuals behaving singularly. It is collective planting time when the monsoon arrives, harvesting when it ends. The rituals that go with such activities enhance the success of bonding, and enshrine it into an institution.

Institutions were born from socio-economic needs which spontaneously developed into cultural and political rolled into one complex society. To answer where selfness starts is easier to answer than where selflessness begins.

If the premise is biological what proofs can we show that it is so?

• Social insects – ants, bees and termites – bind themselves as a colony. Any attack on the colony sends soldiers to fight the enemy. Paper wasps sting as intruders. The honeybee does not consume the nectar and pollen it gathers, but brings the harvest into the granary from which it get its share later. An ant clings to death at an enemy. When a bee sting, its abdomen is ripped away and is surely to die.

• Starve an aphid or a mealybug, and it will produce young prematurely – even without first becoming an adult. This is called paedogenesis. Or an adult may produce young without the benefit of mating and fertilization. This is parthenogenesis.

• A plant stressed by drought will cut its life cycle short in order to use the remaining energy to produce offspring. This is true to grasshoppers or caterpillars – they skip one or two moulting and metamorphose so that they can mate and reproduce.

• The spacing of plants is determined not only of soil and climatic conditions that control the growth and development, but by a biological mechanism known as allelopathy. A date palm will kill its own offspring around its trunk and under its crown. Those that grow outside its shadow becomes a part of the oasis’ vegetation.

• Bacteria, yeasts, and other microorganisms go into luxury feeding where there is plenty, and nature seems not to mind, until they consume the food, and worse until their waste accumulates and becomes toxic. This is called autotoxicity. Thus in fermentation, it is the toxic material - alcohol - that eventually kills the yeasts themselves, and another process follows until the organic forms of compounds are transformed and ultimately returned as inorganic ready for use by succeeding organisms.

• The dalag and many other species of fish eat their young leaving only those that can escape. Here the advantage of controlled population and survival of the fittest are shown.

• Vultures seldom attack a living prey; they wait to its last breath. A male lion will kill a cub which it did not sire. But we know too, that there are surrogate mothers in the wild like the cuckoo, and among domestic animals.

Because of the complexity of social behavior, Dr E O Wilson of Harvard University, attempted to explain many of the observed behavior into a field of biology he called sociobiology. In a simple illustration, if your child is about to be hit by a fast oncoming vehicle, a mother would risk her life to save him. Dr. Wilson would then asks a third party if he or she would do the same thing to a child who is not his own – much less without any relations.

This leads us back to our previous question: When does selfishness end and selflessness begin?~

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Some Anecdotes for Growing Up

These anecdotes pertain to my life and personal experiences - AVR

 1. Staying put on the farm -  is that all you aspire for?

“Buy me a tractor,” I asked by dad,  “And I will not look for a job. I’d stay on the farm.”

 “Is that all you aspire for?”  My father replied. It was the turning point of my life.  I left the farm and went on to pursue my studies, later joining the government service, and after early retirement, becoming a university professor.
Farm house of a Gentry, acrylic AVR 
Dad is now long gone and only my sister is overseeing the farm.  One time while visiting the farm, I asked my eldest son, Marlo, “Do you like to stay here and manage the farm?”  He fell silent and I did not utter another word.

2. I stopped schooling to be with my dad.
I stopped schooling in Manila, so I went home to San Vicente, arriving there on a Sunday at dawn.  Instead of directly proceeding to our house, I dropped at the church through the main door.  In the distance a man was standing, stooping, his nape showing the marks of old age.  I wondered who the man was, and to my surprise I found out he was my dad.  I did not know he had grown that old.  I said my prayers, and left with a heavy heart. 
It was at home that my dad and I met after the mass. He knew it was not yet school vacation, but he was very happy to see me.   I did not tell I saw him in the church that morning. Later I told my plan not to continue my studies anymore because I wanted to be with him.  He just felt silent.
Life on the Farm, acrylic AVR
The following morning he prepared our two bikes.  “We are going to Banaoang,” he said in an aura of confidence.  Banaoang is a mountain pass through which the mighty Abra River flows, where bamboo from the hills are sold in quantity. We were going to build a flue-curing barn.

The going was easy at first, but the distance and the uphill part were exhausting.  Dad gave up before we reached our destination.  “Get a rope and pull my bike.  Let’s go back home.” He sat down in the shade of a mango tree. When we were rested we slowly pedaled back home. Both of us were silent the rest of the day. 

I stayed with my dad until the end of summer working in the tobacco barn we put up. I went back to Manila the following schoolyear to continue my studies. I always pass the highway dad and I once took, and there under  an old mango tree, I would be seeing a man resting in its shade, stooping, wrinkles in his nape showing old age.   
3.      I shot an arrow into the air and it fell on a newspaper
I must have been 4 or 5 years old. Dad was reading Manila Bulletin on a rocking chair.  I was playing Robin Hood. Since our sala is very spacious (it has no divisions), anything on the ceiling and walls was a potential target. But something wrong happened. In physics a crooked arrow would not follow a straight line, so it found an unintended mark – the center of a widespread newspaper.  The arrow pierced through it and landed on my dad’s forehead, almost between his eyes. He gave me a severe beating with my plaything as he wiped his forehead, blood dripping. I did not cry, I just took the punishment obligingly.  Dad must have seen innocence in my eyes.  He stopped and gave me a hug. 

4.      I shot my finger with an airgun.
I bought an airgun from Ben Florentino, a classmate of mine in high school at the Colegio de la Immaculada Concepcion (CIC Vigan) for fifty pesos, a good amount then, circa  1955.  I was loading the pellet, when I dropped the rifle, and on hitting the ground, went off.  The bullet pierced through the fleshy tip of my left forefinger. I tried to remove it but to no avail, so I went to the municipal doctor, Dr. Catalino Lazo. There was no anesthesia available, and when I could no longer bear the pain, he simply dressed the wound and sent me home.  

My wound soon healed, and the lead pellet was to stay with me for the next five years or so, when I finally decided to go for an operation. Had it not been for my playing the violin, I would not have bothered to do so.  And it was providential. 

Dr. Vicente Versoza, our family doctor in Vigan, performed the operation.   A mass of tissues snugly wrapped around the pellet, isolating its poison. He told me I am lucky. There are cases of lead poisoning among war veterans who bore bullets in their bodies. I remember the late President Ferdinand Marcos.  Was his ailment precipitated by lead poisoning?   

5.      I can “cure” a person who is naan-annungan.
An-annung is the Ilocano of nasapi-an. Spirits cast spell on a person, the old folks say. The victim may suffer of stomachache or headache  accompanied by cold sweat, body weakness or feeling of exhaustion.

Well, take this case.  It was dusk when a tenant of ours insisted of climbing a betel, Areca catechu to gather its nuts (nga-nga). My dad objected to it, but somehow the young man prevailed. 

The stubborn young man was profusely sweating and was obviously in pain, pressing his stomach against the tree trunk. Dad called for me. I examined my “patient” and assured him he will be all right. And like a passing ill wind, the spell was cast away. Dad and the people around believed I had supernatural power.

There had been a number of cases I “succeeded” in healing the naan-annungan But I could also induce – unknowingly - the same effect on some one else.  That too, my dad and old folks believed.  They would sought for my “power” to cast the spell away from - this time – no other than my “victim”.  What a paradox!   When I grew older and finished by studies, I began to understand that having an out-of-this-world power is a myth. I read something about Alexander the Great consulting the Oracle at Siwa to find out if indeed he is a god-sent son. “The Pharoah will bow to you, ” the priestess told him.  And it did happen - the pharaoh kissed Alexander’s feet.  The great warrior died before he was 33.

 6.      Manong Bansiong, the kite maker
Kites always fascinate me, thanks to Bansiong, nephew of Basang my auntie-yaya.  He made the most beautiful, often the biggest kite in town.  His name is an institution of sort to us kids.  But remote as San Vicente was, we had the best kites and the town was also famous for its furniture and wooden saints.

It's kite flying Season mural painting by the author dedicated to the late Manong Bansiong.

Manong Bansiong made different kites: sinang-gola, sinang-cayyang, sinang-golondrina (in the likes of a bull, a bird with outstretched wings and legs, and a maiden in colorful, flowing dress, respectively).  His kites were known for their strength, stability, beauty, and their height in the sky.  In competitions he would always bring home the trophy, so to speak.

Because of Manong Bansiong I became also a kite maker of less caliber, but being an endangered art there is not much variety of kites flying around. The kites I make are not common, and they probably exude the same feeling to kids today as during our time.

I made kites for my children when they were small.  Kites fascinated my late first-born son, Pao. It was therapy to his sickly condition. We would sit down together on the grass for hours holding on to the kite, the setting sun and breeze washing our faces. 

When my youngest, Leo Carlo, took part in a kite competition at UST, I helped him with the sinang-cayyang.  It did not win.  But in the following year and the year after Leo Carlo became the consistent kite champion of UST, and so he carries on the legend of Manong Bansiong. 

7.      Draining a fishpond with centrifugal pump
We were perhaps the first in town to own a centrifugal pump, a three-horsepower Briggs and Stratton with a two-inch-diameter pipe.  Which means, we can now irrigate whole fields, or drain fishponds.

One summer when the water was low, dad decided to use the pump in our one-hectare fishpond by the estuary in Nagtupacan, a coastal village of San Vicente.  He put me in charge of the operation. I was a high school sophomore then. I stayed with the pump in the shade of nearby spiny candaroma (aroma) trees, sleeping under the stars at night. I learned that high tide followed by low tide occurs during the day, and repeated at night. That means the pump must overcome high tide that pushes water from under the fishpond and through the base of its dikes.

What we thought to be an easy operation probed to be an unending battle.  Finally we gave up.  We lost, but not entirely for we were able to harvest some fish from a drained area. Above all, I learned a lesson, which I was to use in my teaching in the university.  On the part of dad, he told me, “Machines are no match to enormous power of nature.” A few years after, the machine broke down, so told dad in his letter. I was then in Manila earning a college degree. That night I imagined the spiny candaroma and the stars and the tides.

8. Blackout and A Blue Baby
Basang, my auntie-yaya used to recount this story on how I came into this world.  It was Japanese invasion. At night no lights were allowed for fear of the Japanese bomber planes. The whole town plunged into a blackout when I was born. It was October 22, 1941. The partera (midwife) worked under a flickering candle. I came out a blue baby, hind first (suni). And knowing I did not have any chance to live, the carpenters in my father's furniture shop started making me a coffin.

But there was an old woman, Lela Usta (Faustina Ramos), a good neighbor and distant cousin of my dad who did not believe I was dead. She bundled me up and kept me warm by  blowing over my cuppo-cuppo (bumbunan) with her breath as she chewed ginger. An hour had already passed and the kind old woman, now covered with sweat and tears, noticed a faint pulse, then heard a faint sound.  She continued on until I started to breathe.  Not for long, I cried and drew the small crowd to a cheer. 

Shhh.... my father cautioned everyone, and I, too, stopped crying.

9. I remember the Japanese
It was in the last year of the Japanese occupation that memories of World War II became vivid to me. In desperation the enemy killed anyone at sight in exchange for its apparent defeat. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were soon to be erased virtually from the map. I was then four years old. According to psychologists, at this age impressions become lasting memory.

WW II Memorial, St Paul University QC

Vigilance was the game. Far ahead of time one should be able to detect the enemy. Fear gripped the neighborhood and the whole town. We hid in a dugout shelter made of solid narra slabs several meters away from our house. Trees and banana plants hid it from view. At one time, I wanted to get fresh air, but my yaya, Basang prevented me to do so. Japanese soldiers were around the place. I heard them chase our geese and chicken. Then I heard my favorite goose, Purao, pleading - then it fell silent. Instinctively I rushed out of our hideout, but Basang  pulled me back just on time.

Before this incident Japanese soldiers entered and ransacked our house. Two confronted Basang who was then wearing thick shawl and holding me tight in her arms. In trembling voice, she was saying repeatedly, “Malaria, malaria,” and begging the soldiers to take anything and leave us. One took all our eggs and started eating them raw, pitching the shell at us. One hit me straight on the face and I squirmed. Basang apologized. The soldier shouted.  Then the other came back with a stuffed pillow case and signaled the other to leave, but before leaving he gave me a hard look.

It is a face I still see today, cold as steel, lips pursed into a threat, brows drawn down like curtain over sultry and flashy eyes. How I reacted on the wicked face, I don't remember. I must have just stared coldly. But deep in me grew a resolved never to be afraid of the Japanese or an enemy for that matter.

8.  Watching war plane in dogfight.
It was the last year of WWII, 1945.  I was going four at that time and the images of planes fighting are still vivid.  Toward the east is the Cordillera range that looked blue in the distance. The view was clear from our house, and hideout. Even if the old San Vicente church got across our view, we saw now and then warplanes passing above.  It was also the first and only time I saw a double body aircraft flying. There was at least one occasion warplanes fought somewhere above Vigan, and a plane simply bursts into flame and dark smoke. My dad prodded us to go back to our underground hideout.

10.The Case of the Empty Chicken Eggs
Childhood is full of adventure. I was big enough then to climb and reach the baki (brooding nest) hanging under the house. I found out that if I leave some eggs in the basket as decoy, the more eggs you gather in the afternoon. But why leave some eggs that may become stale?  Then a new idea came. With a needle, I punctured the egg and sucked the content dry. It tasted good and I made some of these empty eggs as substitute decoy in the nest.
My dad was a balikbayan. He settled down in our hometown, San Vicente, Ilocos Sur, soon after finishing his studies at De Paul University in Chicago. That evening after discovering the empty eggs he called all of us and said, "First thing tomorrow morning we will find that hen that lays empty eggs.”

It was a family tradition that every Sunday we had tinola - chicken cooked with papaya and leaves of pepper (sili). Dad would point at a cull (the least productive member of the flock) and I would set a large basket with a trap door, and place some corn for bait. My brother Eugene would slash the neck of the helpless fowl while my sister Veny and I would be holding it until it laid still. The blood is mixed with glutinous rice (diket), which is cooked ahead of the vegetables.

That evening I could not sleep. What if dad inadvertently chooses one of our pet chickens? On the farm we call our favorite chickens by name. I felt sorry, the empty eggs were the cause of the whole trouble.

In the morning after the mass I told dad my secret and even demonstrated it. He laughed and laughed. Soon we were all laughing. And the case of the empty eggs was laid to rest.
Many lessons dawned from my first experiment. I also realized that one just can’t fool anybody.

11. The caleza I was riding ran over a boy.
Basang, my auntie yaya and I were going home from Vigan on a caleza, a horse carriage. I was around five or six years old, the age children love to tag along wherever there is to go. It was midday and the cochero chose to take the shorter gravelly road to San Vicente by way of the second dike road that passes Bantay town. Since there was no traffic our cochero nonchalantly took the smoother left lane fronting a cluster of houses near Bantay. Suddenly our caleza tilted on one side as if it had gone over a boulder. To my astonishment I saw a boy around my age curled up under the wheel. The caleza came to a stop and the boy just remained still and quiet, dust covered his body.  I thought he was dead. 

Residents started coming out. I heard shouts, some men angrily confronting the cochero. Bantay is noted for notoriety of certain residents. Instinct must have prodded Basang to take me in her arms and quickly walked away from the maddening crowd.  No one ever noticed us I supposed.

12. Paper wasps on the run! Or was it the other way around?
This happened to me, rather what I did, when I was five or six - perhaps younger, because I don’t know why I attack a colony of putakti or alimpipinig (Ilk). It was raw courage called bravado when you put on courage on something without weighing the consequences. It was hatred dominating reason, motivated by revenge. 

I was sweeping the yard near a chico tree when I suddenly felt pain above my eye. No one had ever warned me of paper wasps, and I hadn’t been stung before. I retreated, instinctively got a bikal bamboo and attacked their papery nest, but every time I got close to it I got stung.  I don’t know how many times I attacked the enemy, each time with more fury, and more stings, until dad saw me.  I struggled under his strong arms sobbing.  I was lucky, kids my size can’t take many stings. There are cases bee poison can cause the heart to stop. 

13. Trapping frogs
It was fun to trap frogs when I was a kid. At harvest time I would dig holes in the ricefield around one and one-half feet deep. The frogs seek shelter in these holes because they need water and a cool place. Insects that fall into the hole attract them and become their prey.
By the Fishpond in Nagtupacan, San Vicente
Early in the morning I would make my rounds, harvesting the trapped frogs.   The frog is skinned, its entrails removed, and cooked with tomato, onion, and achuete (<span style="font-style: italic;">Bixa orellana</span>. Frogs make a favorite dish, especially among Ilocanos. 

14. I got caught by an iron hook.
I was boarding with the Camat Family in Gatid, Sta. Cruz, Laguna in 1962.  I was then a trainee of the Farm and Home Development Office (FHDO) under UPLB, then UPCA, as a crop technician under the sponsorship of the Ford Foundation. One morning while standing on the batalan I saw a rope dangling from a nearby branch of a sampaloc tree, and the little Tarzan in me told me to try some acrobatics. I jump for the rope, and as I slid down an iron hook tied at the end of the rope caught me between my legs.  I was able to free myself on reaching the ground and immediately called for help. My friends flagged a jeep that took me to the provincial hospital in Sta. Cruz, some seven kilometers away.  We were over speeding and a police officer stopped us.  I pointed at my wound, by now blood had soaked the towel cover, so he let us go.  The doctor said I was lucky, the iron hook missed just a fraction of an inch the vital parts of my body, principally my reproductive organ. After my wound was stitched and dressed I was allowed to leave the hospital.  I went back to Gatid to recuperate.
15. Getting drunk at an early age.
I was already a farmhand before I was of school age, but dad always warned me not to be an aliwegweg (curious at doing things), the experimenter that I was. One morning as dad went on his routine, first to hear mass in our parish church just across our residence farm, I went down to the cellar with a sumpit (small bamboo tube) to take a sip of the sweet day-old fermenting 

Farm Brickhouse, acrylic AVR

sugarcane juice. I didn't know that with a sip too many one gets drunk. 

And that was precisely what made me feel sick, but I did not tell dad. He called a doctor to find out what was the matter with me. When the doctor arrived he found me normal. What with the distance from Vigan to San Vicente - on a caleza (horse-drawn carriage)? But the doctor was whispering something to dad.

Then it happened. Dad had left for the church, so I thought. I went to the cellar and as soon as I probed the sumpit into a newly fermenting jar and took a sip, someone tapped my shoulder in the dark. It was dad!
Imagine the expression of his face (and mine, too) in the dark. I sobbed with embarrassment while he took a deep sigh of relief.  Since then the doctor never came again. And I promised never to taste my “beverage" again.~

Photography: Journalism and Creative Art

Matthew Marlo R Rotor
Living with Nature - School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School-on-Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio 
738 KHz DZRB AM Band, 8-9 evening class, Monday to Friday

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 assymtrical 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 equipm,ent 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. ~

Saturday, September 7, 2013

How do you know rain is coming? Here are signs.

Dr Abe V Rotor 

Hovering dragonflies indicates a coming rain.
Old folks can tell if it’s going to rain early or late in the day just by observing the dragonflies. Dragonflies or tutubing kalabaw (Odonata) come in horde and hover over our heads in the meadow, farms, football field, or any place where they swoop upon their prey – small insects such as leafhoppers, gnats and midges (gamugamu) that escape from their abode to find shelter elsewhere. But how do they sense an oncoming rain? These insects are endowed with sensitive antennae and tactile body hairs, and can detect the changes of temperature and relative humidity that characterize an approaching rain.

The more dragonflies hovering, and the closer they get to the ground, the heavier is the coming rain, the old folks warn. By the way, it is the dragonfly’s predatory habit that has earned them a place in the heart of farmers.   

 Ants on the move means that a strong rain, if not a typhoon, is coming. Cockroaches come out of their abode and seek for shelter outside.
The biological clock of these creatures responds to invisible signals, which comprise decreased atmospheric pressure, high relative humidity and air temperature. Their sensitive antennae and tactile hairs covering their body pick these up these changes of the environment. Thus we find ants in exodus, they move as a colony carrying their eggs and 
young indoors. Cockroaches become unusually active, flying about in frenzy, in search for a new place. There is a common message, that is, to escape to safer ground, an archetype ingrained in their genes passed on to them by their ancestors through evolution.

          
  Common dragonfly (Order Odonata); fire ants (Solenopsis geminata);      American cockroach (Periplaneta americana)