Monday, March 30, 2015

Armageddon Ticking

Armageddon Ticking
Overcrowded Earth, Manila 

Armageddon in human hands released,
piece by piece ticking with the clock;
innocence denied, sanity defied
to the final shock.

Time capsules all into infinity:
pleasure and pain, evil and goodness -
all that is on planet earth,
into emptiness.

It's Sodom revived, so with the Flood
and Vesuvius a thousand times;
and in war none but the innocent
is the price.

And the god in man and man in God
in futile struggle comes to end
the earth shall be no longer,
so with a heaven.

Fabled paradise shall be no more,
lost and regained, and finally gone;
Then a new world shall rise - perhaps
without man. ~ 

Author's Note:
I photographed this aerial View of Manila harbor aboard Pal flight from Roxas City to Manila August 6, 2012

A Modern Prodigal Son

“This world, which appears to be a great workshop in which knowledge is developed by man – which appears as progress and civilization, as a modern system of communication, as a structure of democratic freedom without any limitations – this world is not capable of making man happy."
- Pope John Paul II, On the Threshold of Hope

Dr Abe V Rotor
The Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt van Rijk 
I am a modern day Prodigal Son. I spent fifty long years searching and searching for a place I may call my own in the whole wide world. Yes, fifty long years of my youth and in old age – twice longer the fiction character Rip van Winkle did sleep – and now I am back to the portals of my hometown, to the waiting arms of my father.

The proverbial Lamp I still hold flickers, but it is but a beacon in embers now, for it had spent its luminance in the darkness of human weakness and failures, it beamed across the ocean of ignorance and lost hope, it trailed the path of many adventures and discoveries, and it kept vigil in the night while I slept.

And what would my father say? He meets me, embraces me, and calls everyone. “Kill the fattest calf! Let us rejoice.”

San Vicente is my home. It is the bastion of my hopes and ideals. At the far end on entering the old church is written on the altar, faded by the elements of time and pleading hands of devotees, Ur-urayenka Anakko – I am waiting for you my child. 

When the world is being ripped by conflicts or pampered with material progress, when mankind shudders at the splitting of the atom or the breaking of the code of life, when the future is viewed with high rise edifices or clouded by greenhouse gases – my town becomes more than ever relevant to the cause for which it has stood through the centuries - the sanctuary of idealism in a troubled world, home of hundreds of professionals in many fields of human endeavor.

“Kill the fattest calf,” I hear my father shout with joy. It is celebration. It is a symbol of achievement more than I deserve. But my feelings is that I am standing on behalf of my colleagues for I am but an emissary. Out there in peace and trials, in villages and metropolises, in all endeavors and walks of life, many “Vincentians” made their marks, either recognized on the stage or remembered on stone on which their names are carved. I must say, it is an honor and privilege that I am here in humility to represent them that I may convey their unending faith and trust to our beloved hometown.

The world has changed tremendously, vastly, since I passed under the town arch to meet the world some fifty years ago. I have met wise men who asked the famous question “Quo vadis?” -where are you going? I can only give a glimpse from the eye of a teacher, far for the probing mind of Alvin Toffler in Future Shock, or those of Naisbitt and Aburdane, renowned modern prophets. Teachers as I know, and having been trained as one, see the world as it is lived; they make careful inferences, and take a bird’s eyeview cautiously. They are conveyors of knowledge, and even with modern teaching tools and communication technology, cannot even qualify as chroniclers, nay less of forecasters. I have always strived to master the art of foretelling the future, but frankly I can only see it from atop a misty mountain. How I wish too, that I can fully witness the fruits of the seed of knowledge a teacher has sown in the mind of the young.

Limited my experience may be, allow me to speak my mind about progress and developments in the fifty years I was away from home, but on the other side of midnight, so to speak.

1. The monster that Frankenstein made lurks in nuclear stockpiles, chides with scientists tinkering with life, begging to give him a name and a home.

2. Our blue planet has an ugly shade of murk and crimson – fire consuming the forests, erosion eating out the land, polar ice shrinking, rising sea flooding the shorelines, and gas emission   boring a hole in its jacket.

3. One race one nation equals globalization. How we have taken over evolution in our hands. We are playing God, is Paradise Lost Part 2 in the offing?

4. The world is wired, it travels fast on two feet – communication and transportation. The world has shrunk into a village. Homogenization is the death sentence amid a bed of roses for mankind.

5. Man-induced phenomena are too difficult to separate from those of nature. We take the latter as an excuse of our follies, a rationalization that runs counter to be rational. Only the human species has both the capability to build or destroy – and yet we love to destroy what we build.

6. The dangerous game of numbers is a favorite game, and our spaceship is getting overloaded. Man’s needs, more so man’s want, become burgeoning load of Mother Earth, now sick and aging. Will Pied Piper ever come back and take our beloved young ones away from us, as it did in Hamlyn many years ago?

7. Conscience, conscience, where is spirituality that nourishes it. Where have all the religious teachings gone? Governance – where is the family, the home? Peace and order – Iraq, Afghanistan – another Korea, another Vietnam, only in another place, in another time. And now social unrest is sweeping over North Africa and the Middle East.

8. Janus is progress, and progress is Janus. It is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It is The Prince and the Pauper. Capitalism has happy and sad faces – the latter painted in pain and sadness on millions all over the world. It is inequity that makes the world poor; we have more than enough food, clothing, shelter, and energy for everybody. What ideology can save the world other than capitalism?

As I grew older I did not only learn to adjust with the realities of life as I encountered it but to grasp its meaning from the points of view of famous philosophers and writers. I studied it with the famous lines from William Blake’s famous poem, Auguries of Innocence.

To wit.

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


- William Blake, Auguries of Innocence

If ever I have ventured into becoming a redeemer of sort, armed with a pen in hand, I too, have learned from Blake’s verse of the way man should view the world in all its magnanimity yet in simplicity. If ever I have set foot to reach the corners of the Earth, and failed, I am consoled by the humble representation of “a grain of sand” that speaks of universal truth and values.

And beauty? If I have not found it in a garden of roses, I dare not step on a flowering weed. And posterity and eternity? They are all ensconced in periodicity, a divine accident of existence – to say that each and every one of us is here in this world by chance – an unimaginable chance – at “a certain time and place” which - and I believe - has a purpose in whatever and however one lives his life. But I would say that a lifetime is all it takes “to see the world” and be part of it. It is a lifetime that we realize the true meaning of beauty, experience “infinity and eternity”. Lifetime is a daily calendar of victories and defeats.

While the world goes around and around . . .

The world like in Aristotle’s time continue to struggle with the preservation of values; the species will continue to evolve as postulated by Darwin; culture will express itself more fully since the first painting of early man dwelling in the caves of Lasceaux in France.

Trade and commerce will continue to progress, reaches a plateau and declines - a normal curve that goes with the rise and fall of civilizations. Yet leaders do not see it that way. Not even the Utopia of conquerors like Alexander the Great whose global economic vision two thousand five hundred years ago is basically the same as the great powers of today - United States, European Union, ASEAN.

The great religions will continue to bring man to his knees and look into heavens amidst knowledge revolution and growing complexity of living, Man’s infinitesimal mind continues to probe the universe. Never has man been so busy, so bothered, so confused, yet so determined than ever before, trying to fill up God’s Seventh Day.

As I go on reflecting I came across the book of Pope John Paul II, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, 1994. He warns us succinctly.

“This world, which appears to be a great workshop in which knowledge is developed by man – which appears as progress and civilization, as a modern system of communication, as a structure of democratic freedom without any limitations – this world is not capable of making man happy."

- Pope John Paul II, On the Threshold of Hope

Now I am home, my father,in my hometown. I do only wish for comfort. I just want to thank you for you have taught me and instilled in me the spirit of virtue and fortitude. Thank you for making me a Vincentian.

Let me sleep now in your arms. ~

Waterfall - Link of Land and Sky, Like Body and Soul

Dr Abe V Rotor

Waterfall painting in acrylic, by AVRotor 2015

Reach the sky through the waterfall,
     from cloud to rain down the stream,
cascading, tumbling, in a column,
     link of reality and ones dream. 

And down the river of no return
     meandering  through the valley,
seeking its destination the sea 
     in a never ending story. 

Life is like that of the waterfall 
     link of time and space and all, 
with neither beginning nor end, 
     the essence of body and soul. ~  


Global Warming in Painting, Fiction and Mythology

 Dr A V Rotor
 Fiery Cyclone in the Sky 

It is a storm but its eye is not of calm,
sultry but neither coy nor kind;
seeking a home of its own to settle down,
like the monster of Frankenstein. 

Man-made Forest Fire (AVR 2015)

Prometheus defied of his gift of fire to man
by man himself unrelenting in greed,
adoring Midas and other gods on Zeus side;
  Hercules in our midst is what we need.

Note: In Greek mythology, Prometheus stole fire from the supreme god Zeus and gave it to man for the betterment of his life. As punishment, he was bound in an island and tortured by a flesh-eating eagle. He was later rescued by Hercules.   







Remembering Mother Nature Suffering this Lenten Season 2: Nature Crucified

"I am Nature crucified, hungry, thirsty, imprisoned, naked, abandoned – wishing some souls to stop, look and listen." AVR


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 [www.pbs.gov.ph]


                                                            Silhouette of a tree skeleton, Manila


I am Nature crucified, Paradise lost to my own guardian
whom my Creator assigned custodian of the living earth;


I am Nature crucified by loggers, my kin and neighbors 
annihilated, forever removed from their place of birth;


I am Nature crucified by slash-and-burn farming dreaded
- once lush forests now bare, desertification their fate;


I am Nature crucified, greedy men with giant machines
take hours to destroy what I built for thousands of years;


I am Nature crucified in the name of progress, countries 
vying for wealth and power, fighting among themselves; 


I am Nature crucified, rivers are dammed, lakes dried up,
swamps drained, estuaries blocked, waterways silted;


I am Nature crucified, the landscape littered with wastes,
gases into the air form acid rain, and thin the ozone layer;


I am Nature crucified, flora and fauna losing their natural
gene pools by selective breeding and genetic engineering;


I am Nature crucified, the earth is in fever steadily rising,
ice caps and glaciers melting, raising the level of the sea;  


I am Nature crucified, privacy and rest becoming a luxury
in a runaway population living on fast lanes, and rat race.  


I am Nature crucified, inequitable distribution of wealth
the source of conflict, greed and poverty, unhappiness;


I am Nature crucified by the promise of heaven in afterlife,
the faithful restrained to regain Paradise while on earth.


I am Nature crucified by scholars of never ending debates,
on the goodness of the human race in fraternal praises;


I am Nature crucified by the many denominations of faith,
pitting God against one another in endless proselytizing;


I am Nature crucified by licenses of freedom in extremism,
human rights and democracy - tools of inaction and abuse;   


I am Nature crucified by mad scientists splitting the atom,
building cities, tearing the earth, probing ocean and space;


I am Nature crucified by capitalism, consumerism its tool
to stir economy worldwide, wastefulness it consequence;


I am Nature crucified by the unending pursuit of progress,
the goal and measure of superiority, nation against nation;


I am Nature crucified by man’s folly to become immortal:
cryonics, cloning, robotics - triumvirates for singularity.


I am Nature crucified, hungry, thirsty, imprisoned, naked,
abandoned – wishing some souls to stop, look and listen. ~   

Face of Christ Appears on a Painting


Lead me to where I should lead them,
The little ones to my care You'll send..."


Dr Abe V Rotor


Dr Anselmo S Cabigan stands before the miraculous painting at a former university museum where hundreds of pilgrims and other visitors for the last fifteen years saw and pondered on it. It is said that the image remains obscure, and appears only to keen observers. The photos here have been edited to enhance the image.
NOTE: 
I received queries if the painting has any message at all. I heard comments to relate the painting with the growing problems of the world, notably the recent earthquake in Japan that sent tsunami inland and radiation from broken nuclear plants into the atmosphere. Simultaneously the Arab world is engulfed with social unrest heretofore unimagined, other grave problems like global warming and global recession, notwithstanding. I am therefore reprinting this article earlier posted in this blog in response to our audience's request. Please enter your comments at the end of the article. Thank you.



Into Your Light

Lead me to where I should lead them,
The little ones to my care You'll send;
That they may solve this awesome maze
And burst out bright into Your Light." 

Anselmo S Cabigan, 1995

Did you see the face of Christ?”

“Where?”

"On a painting.”

"What is this they are talking about, " I asked Sel.

We went to the Audio-Visual Room, spent a moment of silence as we searched for the Face on the 36" x 24" landscape painting. It was painted and a month ago, and presented in a seminar-workshop at then St. Paul College QC. The theme signifies unity and cooperation among faculty and staff members.

"Can you see it?” I asked.

Sel traced the outline, his finger touching the rough canvas.

"Can you see it?” He threw back the question.

"I see a different one,” I countered and traced the figure differently.

Silence fell again. We exchanged notes and soon enough we were looking at the same face.

Were we seeing The Thing, or only imagining it?

I recalled a story, Images of Illusion. A man was viewing an antique painting and saw himself as one of the torturers of Christ.

“Impossible,” he raged. How could it be possible for the painter to have composed a scenery combining a biblical event and a future character? He demanded the art gallery an explanation.

What is illusion?

In metaphysics, the workings of the human mind have been the subject of research and discourse from the time of Plato who coined psyche or mind or soul, to Kant whose theory of Existentialism remains as the binding force of man and his Creator which is a fundamental doctrine of major religions. Lately, Jung's primary idea of a person as a whole, and not as assemblage of parts, gave rise to the modern concept of holistic personality. Jung’s work as a psychoanalyst was to recover the lost wholeness of personality, and to strengthen the psyche through the process of psychoanalysis and psycho synthesis.

What Jung was saying is that the mind is made up of three levels: the consciousness, the only part of the mind that is known directly by the individual; the personal unconscious which is the level of the mind that adjoins the ego: and the collective unconscious which he inherited from his ancestral past. All three levels are always in a dynamic state. They are never static like a rock or a tree.

When one is afraid of the dark he is expressing the collective unconscious. If he is afraid a the dark because he may be kidnapped, he is expressing the personal unconscious level, an experience which may have been created by distraught thoughts or brought about by personal conflict or raised a moral issue before. In the dark he may be "seeing” a would-be kidnapper at the slightest suggestion.

Now where does the first level come in? His conscious awareness is put to test in such a situation. He then makes to fullest use his four mental functions, which Jung called thinking, feeling, sensing and intuiting. Depending on the development of these faculties from the time of his birth to his present age, the individual tries to overcome - or enhance - the other two levels of the mind which at that moment has caused in him fear.

What I am saying is that a mental image may arise from the interplay of the three levels of the mind. First, there is the “model” or an archetype from which the consciousness makes something out of it. This, in turn, is pictured or deleted in the mind through consciousness.

When Sel and I stood before the painting searching we had different archetypes in our mind. But people who have been raised in the same environment and had undergone similar training have many common archetypes from which images can be similarly patterned.

Suppose one does not readily take from the mind's bank a suitable archetype?

“I don't see anything.”

“Face of Christ, you said?”

"What are you talking about? I can only see trees and a stream flowing through them.”

"I still cannot figure it out.”

These observers, based on Jungian psychology, did not have the archetype at the moment to suit the picture they are looking for.

Quite often discussions may ensue while viewing the piece with someone taking the role of a teacher, or one insisting of seeing another thing.

Again, according to Jung, archetypes can be enlarged or reinforced so that they can surface with the help of the consciousness. However, this may not always work.

“I can see it now.”

“Yes, there it is. There is a bigger one beside it. No, actually there are three faces.”

“There is Blessed Virgin Mary at the center.”

“But it looks like a resurrected Christ.”

“See the trunk at the right? Scourging at the pillar.”

"My God! There's a devil clinging on Christ's nose.”

Now, now, the painting is getting overloaded,

As the painter I wanted to put it back to its real and down-to-earth perspective. It is a forest landscape, all right. The trees are the symbol of strength and unity; the flowing stream is life; the rocks are the obstacles we encounter in life; the light rays penetrating through the forest is hope and guidance; the forest itself characterizes the present world we live in; and the central perspective of the painting leads us to the attainment of a common vision and goal.

As I was about to leave, a very young boy came along with his mother. His eyes were bright and his face radiated the innocence of a child.

"Do you see the little cross, mama?” He was pointing at a orange figure, an empty cross laid upon a rock. Then he scanned the whole piece and quickly pointed at things none of us had earlier seen.

“Here is the Holy Family. Here is baby Jesus. There you see angels. You can count them, 1, 2 3, 4, 5, 6..."

“There are thirty-three trees, I was told," interrupted his mother.

"Those are children playing, mama - there under the trees and on the rocks."

I stood beside, speechless. I realized I only read Plato, Kant and Jung. l did not consult the Greatest of them all. ~

Light in the Woods became the title of the painting, and a book of the same title was published by Megabooks Manila in 1995. The book was presented by the late Jaime Cardinal Sin to Pope John Paul II on his visit to the Philippines in 1995. The book is now a collectors' item.

Dr Cabigan and the author were classmates and co-workers in the government, and co-professors. They have known each other for the last 50 years. The painting was made after a poem composed by Dr Cabigan, Into Your Light (above). The original painting has been transferred to a secured place where it can be viewed on special arrangement. Photos of the painting are found in Light from the Old Arch, by AVR, UST Publishing House 2000; Nymphaea: Beauty in the Morning, AVR, Giraffe Books 1996;Light in the Woods, AVR, Megabooks, 1995, and Light from the Old Arch 2000, UST-AVR Publishing House.


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Landscape Therapy

"… when the curtain is lifted and the horizon rolls on with life passing this way but once, yet it’s more than destiny, more than eternity."
    
Painting and Poem by Dr Abe V Rotor



Landscape Therapy in acrylic, AVR 2014, showing details.
 Landscape therapy is gaining back clarity and focus, though slowly from strained vision of light and shadow, of passing cars and blinking screens;  

Landscape therapy is getting the frayed nerves back to function in reflexes governed by the conscious and unconscious mind in peace and harmony;

Landscape therapy is when primary colors once more come as true colors, secondary colors and tertiary ones as sweet progeny of color combination;   

Landscape therapy is when the forests appear once more lush green, the mountains in the distance blue, and the sky azure as the deep sea;

Landscape therapy is when the consciousness once more map the migrating birds in the sky, the fish in the stream, a drop of pond water teeming with life;

Landscape therapy is when the biological clock is readjusted with the passing of seasons, understanding the reason behind Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring;

Landscape therapy is when - in the midst danger, courage is being afraid but doing brave thing, for the landscape of life is often perceived in duality;

Landscape therapy is when the swamp dries up to become a grassland, to become a woodland, in a magic sere that spawns rich life’s diversity;

Landscape therapy is finding once more a niche, bridging the past and present, tradition and modern, the living and the non-living world in Rousseau’s scenery;       

Landscape therapy is when raucous urchins sound in lilting joy; thunder a Beethoven’s bass drum, chirping a language in music – all in thanksgiving;

Landscape therapy is when a person like a prisoner in Plato’s Allegory frees himself to discover the realities of the world, which is the aim of education;   

Landscape therapy is when life is viewed with the power of the imagination – romantic or real or abstract - yet find meaning in reverence to the Creator;

Landscape therapy is when the curtain is lifted and the horizon rolls on with life passing this way but once, yet it’s more than destiny, more than eternity. ~


Abercio V Rotor, Ph.D. is the award-winning author of Living with Nature Handbook (Gintong Aklat Award 203), Living with Nature in Our Times (National Book Award 2006), and radio instructor of People’s School on Air (Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid, Gawad Oscar Florentino Award for Development Communication on radio). He is also author of other books in essays and poetry, and textbooks in Humanities and Literature. Dr Rotor is a professor at UST, a former director of NFA and consultant of the Philippine Senate. He is married to Cecilia A Rojas, CPA, MBA, CESO3, with whom they have three children: Matthew Marlo, Anna Christina, and Leo Carlo.  The family hails from San Vicente, Ilocos Sur.   

Murals, Murals on the Wall

"Where man makes a living, a garden by his hands he makes,
At the foot of a hill, on the tip of a pen, on rivers and lakes..."  
Dr Abe V Rotor

Tropical Rainforest. A composite painting of a running stream through the woods, apparently near human habitation as shown by the presence of promenaders and fishing enthusiasts enjoying themselves as in a park. Also, the stream empties into a pond of Nymphaea and lotus on the foreground giving the impression that the scene is at the edge of a clearing. Nonetheless the whole scene speaks of an undisturbed ecosystem. The presence of wildlife shows that this is their natural habitat. SPUQC, AVR

Gather the clouds into fog and mist,
rain and stream;
Gather the fish, the birds and the beasts
to a peaceful reign.

Light in the Woods. Are there images on the painting? How many trees are there. Can you see a face? Whose face is it? The inverted "V" perspective creates a panoramic effect leading the eye toward the center and background. SPUQC AVR


It inspired a soul to write a book*
that touches the eye and heart;
This little light in a nook shines 
where good and evil part.

* Light the the Woods, by AVR, Megabooks 1995


Ruins of Colonialism. Keenness in history leads the hand to re-create events in composite order. The sky and landscape blend well and create a peaceful ambiance in contrast with that of the ruins on the foreground. Infinity can be felt towards the background where boundaries of land and sky dissolve in mist and cloud. SPUQC AVR



Ruins, your silence disturbs at this time of tempest,
When dawn breaks like any dawn sans rays of noble past;

The day shall come to put people again to the test,
Like spring, rise again from their state of outcast.

Composite Landscape. There are three scenic parts arranged vertically to suit the design of the sala of a private residence. Upon entering one is led to look up and down the painting. Thus the elongated design has a foreshortening effect. There was originally a rainbow, but it was toned down so as not to steal the show, so to speak. It's suggestiveness however, has a strong effect from the balcony eye level. (DasmariƱas Village, Makati MM)

Where man makes a living, a garden by his hands he makes,

At the foot of a hill, on the tip of a pen, on rivers and lakes,
He contends - even only a piece of that Paradise lost -, he regains;
From knowledge and disobedience, the whole world gains.


Doves Flying at Dawn. There is a feeling of ascendancy in this painting. The diagonal perspective enhances such movement, while splashes of light heightens daybreak. The rough sea and dark foreground give contrast to the painting. The hideous presence of large reptiles creates enigma as to what the artist wanted to imply. Mystery in art is an important element. (Wall Mural SPU-QC)

Take me from this world a moment

to be with You in this holy event;
From your seat to down below I see

my friends, my enemies - and me.


Watershed. Unlike the first painting the perspective is normal "V" which explains the title - a funnel shaped valley to catch and store rainfall and in the process make a natural garden with the colors of spring, summer and    autumn, thus exuding a fairyland effect. The landscape speaks clearly of a pristine environment far and free from humans. (Wall mural SPU-QC)

Ask Ceres or the mightiest God of all -
if Nature keeps herself better if we depart;
With her housekeeping and her art - 
was Paradise redeemed after the Fall?


Under the Sea Cavern. Simulating stalactites and stalagmites in caves, the artist simulated the same conditions on some coral reef ledges where the sun could hardly penetrate. Mystery lies inside the cavern which only the imagination can fathom. A predator waits for its prey, small fishes group together for safety, shell fish cling lazily on rocks, while seaweeds sway freely like a curtain. It is a stage of sort where drama of life in the deep takes place everyday. (Wall mural, SPUQC, AVR). 


I have wondered many times if fish ever sleep
or they just lie down very still

in some quiet deep, like a flock of sheep
after their fill lie on a grassy hill.
Other creatures gain this way their ease
and man by the power of his will
takes the long and winding road to peace 
searching for that quiet pool or hill. ~

Friday, March 27, 2015

Wooden Tower


Dr Abe V Rotor
Sammy, Sab-A Swamp, Leyte

A child looks at the world a pillar
Of plenty, remote from emptiness;
In the ephemeral of a dying star,
Splendor ends in forgetfulness.

One day the pillar will be gone,
As it releases the sleeping ancient sun,
Sparing silver for the woodsman's son,
And thirty pieces for the brawn.

While the rivers and rivulets run dry,
Orphaned from the mountain high,
Wouldn't Heaven rather send a sigh, 
Than somewhere the young ones cry?



Light in the Woods, 1995 Megabooks

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Stone Carabao

Dr Abe V Rotor
 
Photo study of figurine made of volcanic rock from Mt Pinatubo eruption.
Sculptor unknown. Bacolor, Pampanga (c. 1995)

It was already dusk when my family and I decided to visit the sunken church of Bacolor, Pampanga. We had just spent the weekend in Morong, Bataan and we were on our way back to Manila.

An old woman, frail and bent in the waning light, met us at the narrow entrance of the old church.

"Sir, bilhin na ninyo eto. Pambili lang ng pagkain." (Please sir, buy this thing to buy me some food.) She was referring to a stone figurine she was holding.

The thing was a roughly carved figure of a lying carabao, made of volcanic rock from the recent eruption of Mt Pinatubo.

"One hundred pesos lang, sir."

I pulled out a hundred peso bill from my wallet and got the figurine.

"Salamat, sir." Light shone on her wrinkled face.

We did not actually go inside the church because it was half buried with lahar. You have to stoop low to get through the arch of the entrance. So we just stood at the entrance and Cecille, my wife, led a prayer.

It was eerie silent. There must have been pilgrims ahead of us, but the place was now deserted. So with the abandoned buried houses not far from the place. Not a soul. A gust of wind came, then another. I pulled my jacket close. My children did the same. Cecille cut our prayer short.

Curious, I looked for the woman. She wasn't around. Where could she had passed? There was a long stretch of footpath down the road, but there was sign of her. Not a silhouette.

I thought I was the only one who noticed her sudden departure.

"Papa, uwi na tayo," my children chorused and we drove home.

When we reached home I examined the figurine. Why it's a work of art! Did the old woman make it? Who was the old woman?

It didn't take a long time I had another chance to visit the church. This time there were people around. It wasn't yet sunset. I asked those apparently familiar with the place who the old woman was. I described her like how I saw her face when she handed me the stone carabao.

"Wala pong matandang ganong dito." (There's no such old woman here.) And they looked at each other in bewilderment.

I pondered on this puzzle if it has any message at all. Or could it a sign to remind us of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah? In this biblical story God commanded a righteous couple to flee the wicked city, and never to look back. But pity on the dying stopped them on their track and they became into stone.

Stone figures take us even farther to Greek mythology – to Medusa who wears a headdress of snakes. Anyone who looks directly at her turns into stone. Aware of the danger the hero Perseus used his shield as mirror in slaying Medusa. And when he presented Medusa’s head to the tyrant king and his court, all of them turned into stone.

The story in the bible of course is not to be taken literally, so with that in Greek mythology. But these usually take us to a higher level of consciousness about life and about the world we live in. What could this puzzle of the Stone Carabao mean then to us?

When I told the story to a good friend of mine who is an expert on carabao, he stood up and exclaimed, "Why, don't you know that the Philippine carabao is now a threatened species? So with other buffaloes all over the world?"

I remembered the old woman and the stone carabao. Now I have a story to tell. ~

Kamote Tops Beauty

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
(Model: Miss Gelyn S Gabao, 19 Filipina)
Kamote (Ipomea batatas) tops contain more minerals and vitamins than any other vegetables, or its equivalent weight in meat and poultry. It is a glow food that enhances natural beauty and health, and gives that gait, poise and stride that many beauties display. It is the secret to acquiring and maintaining natural immunity and high resistance against diseases and other ailments. It contains substances that sharpen the brain and quicken responses to situations and the environment. 

It is a vegetable all year round. In summer kamote is grown in the fields and gardens for its enlarged roots or tubers which are rich in carbohydrates (go food) and rich in protein (grow food). In the habagat, it grows wild and luxuriant on hilltops, on levees and dikes, on the uplands, covering wide areas, keeping weeds down and protecting the soil from erosion. 

Kamote tops make an excellent dish with mungo and pork, bulanglang with shrimp or fish, and mushroom, or cooked in other recipes, or served as salad, blanched with red, ripe tomatoes and sliced onions, with a dash of salt, or a dip of fish sauce - bagoong or patis. Or cooked in tinola in place of pepper leaves, and green papaya. Why not blanch the tops on rice in its final stage of cooking? Add bagoong squeezed with calamansi or lemon. 

Kamote tops, maligned for being a poor man's food, rise to the apex of the food pyramid, top the list health programs, and doctors' prescription. Kamote tops occupies the rank of malunggay, alugbati, talinum, and spinach, relegating lettuce and other crucifers - cabbage and cauliflower and pechay - to the backseat.

Kamote tops are safe to health and the environment because they don't carry residues of pesticides applied on the field on many crops, and also those of toxic metals like lead, mercury and cadmium. Damaged parts are simply discarded, harvesting only the succulent and healthy leaves for further safety and better presentation.

Kamote tops come in green and purple, characteristic of the plant varieties, but in both cases, the same nutritive values are derived, with some advantage from the purple variety which contains xanthophyll in addition to chlorophyl. Both are recommended for anemic persons for their high iron content, and to those suffering from poor bone development, poor eyesight, and poor metabolism.

Beauties come naturally with good food, simple and active lifestyle, in the rural areas where sunshine, clean air and surrounding, make a perfect combination from which spring the true beauty of man and woman, as compared to the makeup beauty from cosmetics, expensive salons, and by the so-called wonders of science and technology like liposuction and surgery. Why can't we simply eat kamote tops more often?~

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Lighter Side: Likuan U and Lee Kuan Yew

With apology to the late Prime Minister who made Singapore a modern city state.  
Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature - School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM, 8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday

Filipinos are fond of witty expressions. This is one of them - a road sign along Quezon Avenue near the Lung Center of the Philippines, Diliman, QC. I saw a similar one near the Fort. Creative minds can go far, and trivial, too.

For those who have no inkling of the homonym similarity, Lee Kuan Yew is Singapore's living legend - father of this modern city state. You pronounce his name the same way you read in Pilipino, 
U-turn.

By the way, somebody has removed the sign. I miss it now whenever I make a u-turn in that busy intersection. ~ 


The Plus Factor of Life. Yes, you will live long.

Dr Abe V Rotor
The Pond - A Place of Happy Thoughts, in acrylic AVRotor

When the sun rises, be there and catch its rays, pristine, golden piercing the fog and mist, turning dewdrops into diamonds cascading to the ground, vanishing into the air, birds chirping  to herald the day - you will live long;


When the sun sets, it is but the parting of day, no tears no regrets, it goes to its bed on the horizon,  and soon, you too shall find rest in comfort and thanksgiving, taking away the rigors of the day - you will live long;


When tired muscles and nerves, before they snag and pull you down, stop and let nature take over, you have a lot of reserve you don't only know - breath deep, relax and dream of the things you love - you will live long;


When in doubt and indecisive, cautious and anxious, these you must respect, they are within your barometer telling you to find the best path to take - and, if ever the risk is well deserve take the less trodden with pride - you will live long;


When lost in the woods or in the concrete jungle, in eerie shadows among trees or the blinding neon lights, stop but briefly for composure, but never stop, your home is just there waiting for you - you will live long;      


When feeling sick you are sick, when angry you are angry, when lonely you are lonely; when happy you are happy, you are the master and captain of your life, steer your ship well having set its course - you will live long; 


When the seasons are changing fast, you must be in love with your work, your life and family, your friends and organization - they make things easy for you, as you make things easy for them too, rejoice, it's a great life - you will live long;  


When your pulse is racing with your heartbeat, temperature sending blood to your head, eyes blurred by tears and anger, your gait and stride now heavy and disturbing, your smiles and laughter leaving dry furrows, take a break, a long break - you will live long;


When sick doctors affirm, don't give up, the good hormones will drive the bad ones away, stem cells in your bone marrow will double up, metabolism slows down, enhance these natural processes, be happy - you will live long;


When you are yourself and not somebody else, when models rise to challenge you, when idealism and reality meet at the hallowed ground of humanity, where goodness prevails, be more than a witness, you have your own role to play - you will live long;       

When life advances past your prime, look to the golden years, the best of life yet, believe in wisdom distilled from knowledge, in a book you wrote as your living epitaph, for having bore or sired children the meaning of immortality - you will live long; 

When the Angelus bell rings and you hear it not a peal but sweet call, when all around you gather your family and friends, those you found joy in helping - the hungry, the thirsty, naked, the imprisoned, lonely and abandoned  - indeed you will live long, and forever live. ~

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Avoid Recycling Toxic Wastes


Dr Abe V Rotor

1. Recyling is not recommended where pollution is heavy and unabated such as this mudflat.  Silt in clean environment is excellent garden soil.

2. Watch out for toxic materials
•         Toxic metals: Cadmium, Mercury, Lead
•         Hospital and medical wastes, including radioactive materials
•         Pesticide residues, especially dioxin
•         Industrial wastes, like acids, Freon, alkalis
                                       
3. Oil Spill Recycling? Not with hydrocarbon compounds; not in the case of oil spill. The
Petron oil spill in Guimaras in 2005 destroyed thousands of hectares of marine and terrestrial irreversibly upsetting ecosystems and depriving the residents of their livelihood.

4. Chemical pesticides are concentrated in food chains by biological magnification. ~