Dr Abe V Rotor
Three-in-one is a rare phenomenon in a person: multi-awarded literary writer and playwright, dynamic teacher, and dutiful public servant. Such caliber is usually found in prestigious institutions, often in big cities and foreign countries where honor and
distinction are not rare.
Fredelito L Lazo
But we don't have to go far to find that person; he is here, a native of a small town - San Vicente, Ilocos Sur, a hike west of Vigan, the provincial capital. He is indigenous, a true Ilocano, in his everyday dealings with the public as provincial secretary; in his literary compositions of short stories and stage plays about local people, places and events; and in his methodology of instruction as a high school teacher.
Lito, as we, his classmates in elementary and high school, call him, is the silent type of a person, nonetheless friendly and helpful. They say that it is in solace that one draws out creative thoughts, soaring into the depths only the imagination can reach. It is also a retrospection for memories come afresh and alive. In both cases creativity flourishes in dichotomy with the faculty of reason, converging into the making of a masterpiece.
Creativity is a gift. But more than that, it is a gift well earned. And it has a price - and a prize as well. Indeed, this is life's mystery. A painful experience becomes a story of courage, tragedy turns to victory, loneliness leads to a soulful communion with the Creator. Doubt traces an untrodden path. "Sweet is sweeter after pain," said our English teacher, Mrs Socorro Villamor. And she would recite William Bryant's To a Waterfowl. "He who from zone to zone, guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight; In the long way that I must tread alone, will lead my steps aright." The poet, with a touch of Percy Shelly's To a Skylark, says that throughout our life wherever we go God is going to be with us guiding us down the right path.
Institutions Lito worked and served the people - old and young alike, in the true spirit of
an Ilocano: Ilocos Sur National High School; Benito Soliven Academy, Sto. Domingo,
Ilocos Sur; and the Provincial Capitol of Ilocos Sur.
In our age of electronics, I would liken Lito to the brave warrior in A Never Ending Story, for Lito has gone through difficult stages of life and even reached the "edge of Fantasia," where reality and fantasy divide, where the greatest enemy is oneself. But it is by overcoming this enemy that we truly earn a place on the highest rung of the Maslov's Ladder, that of self-actualization. It is through this rough and thorny road that made Lito win literary awards, four in short stories published in Bannawag, the leading Ilokano weekly magazine. It is through this experience that he earned a respectable position in the local government, and for becoming an effective mentor.
These are but the later chapters of life. The Second World War erupted as he came into this world, a war baby, and when peace finally returned after four tumultuous years, the task of rehabilitation denied him, like many kids in his time, the comforts of childhood, but instead tempered him to face the realities of life - an initiation to Robert Frost's famous line, "And miles to go before I sleep; and miles to go before I sleep."
The plot of Lito's personal life is the basis of many of his stories and stage plays (zarzuela). What is amazing is that he is a disciple of positivism. It is his ability to hold back the dark side, and instead project the bright one. It projects the heroes in Ernest Hemingway's stories, and the adventurous kids of Mark Twain. It is the determination in treasure hunting in Robert Louis Stevenson stories, and the drummer boy who never learned to beat the sound of retreat.
Bannawag (Liwayway Tag) is the leading Ilokano weekly magazine.
The author is a columnist, Okeyka Apong: Dagiti Tawid a Sirib kenAdal (Heritage of Wisdom and Lessons)
Writers take us to the realm of detachment and contemplation, a characteristic of the great writers such as Russian short story writer, Anton Chekov, which is immortalized in a statue in Kiev, Ukraine, and that of Auguste Rodin's The Thinker. Well, we all experience such moment, but there are those who are sensitive in capturing a fleeting idea - Carpe diem, in The Dead Poet Society. From a writer this "spark of genius" grows into a literary flame. Call it in other terms - expression, awakening, erudite - or institutional titles like Dawn, Arise, Eureka!
Imagine how an artist would teach the varied subjects in high school. Literature, humanities and English would be fine, but how about the other subjects? There is no conflict about that. Experts say, generalization now; specialization later. But today, there's a growing demand for the return of Liberal Arts - a revival of a balanced left and right brain tandem. It is a global renaissance in education. This is where Lito the teacher, has advantage over teachers in general. Liberal art is putting values in education, values that make the student not just a learned biological being, but as an enlightened member of humanity with the finest in character towards himself, his fellowmen, Nature, and his Creator.
We can't help but go back to the wisdom the Greeks handed to the whole world: Philosophy is traced to Socrates, idealism to Plato, and naturalism in Aristotle. Then there is a truth- searching Diogenes, a serendipitous Archimedes, a master story teller Homer, and a great warrior laying the cornerstone of global order Alexander. Finally, there is the Academia, the forerunner of the university, the seat of wisdom.
The relevance of this citation is far-reaching, but it is reflected in the life and works of Lito. Lito is an idealist, and yet real, for how can one serve the public sans the Grecian touch? To teach without mythology? It is said that "legends make us heroes, and myths gives us wings." How can we reach out for the grass roots, without popular drama, something the masses can identify themselves to be a part of a drama - on or off the stage - in Shakespeare's adage, "The world is a stage and every one of us has a role to play."
But Lito has yet to hurdle another test - that of the infirmities of old age, romantically the golden years. Following his retirement he has never truly stopped. On his study table await stories and plays to write and complete. A loving wife guides him in his walk. With five successful children, and grandchildren, his mailbox and e-mail, are never wanting of good cheer. The community holds high esteem of him. His students have become teachers like him, public servants, and writers, albeit other careers. "Once a teacher, always a teacher," but to Lito, "a teacher builds teachers." It is passing on the torch of wisdom and character.
Through a window of a simple home, amid a happy family in a small town, the night is darkest before dawn. It is also a candle's greatest hour. ~