Tuesday, February 28, 2017

GHOSTS! If you see these flimsy figures, you are gifted.

"Believe your eyes though your vision is blurred,
spirits come to give comfort, as they wish comfort;
lucky you are to be their chosen one."

Photo and Verse by Dr Abe V Rotor

Sacred Heart Novitiate, Quezon City
Believe your eyes though your vision is blurred,
when all have gone home and you are alone,
spirits come to give comfort, as they wish comfort;
lucky you are to be their chosen one,
and if you aren't afraid they stay around, they dance,
they sing silent songs, they talk inaudibly,
of the secret of beyond, of ingenuity;
they take you to another world
where cares and worries are a thing of the past,
though present to us, the living, the throng;
and if you could enter into their world - the world 
of Dante and Jonathan Swift - and return -
you are gifted, the genius of a doubting race.    

Sunday, February 26, 2017

In Search of Happiness. Have you heard of Gross National Happiness (GNH) Index?

“The greatest gift that we can give to our children and children’s children is Happiness. Happiness is one commodity, which when you divide it, will multiply.” AVR   
Dr Abe V Rotor

Gross National Happiness (GNH) Index has recently gained a place in measuring the level of development of a country by inputing an elusive parameter which is happiness.  GNH Index can be downsized for local application, individually or by group or community that is closely knit. 

Relationship is the Number One source of happiness

However, the standard development index remains: Gross National Product (GNP) Index, the annual total value of goods and services generated by a country within and outside its shores, as differentiated from Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which is the total value generated within the country only.

This was modified to include Human Development (HD) Index, in order to determine how a country's wealth and earnings are used for the  welfare of its citizens in terms of health, education, housing, and the like.

Parameters of Happiness of GNH Index:

1. Psychological Well-Being
2. Health
3. Time Use
4. Education
5. Cultural Diversity
6. Good Governance
7. Community Vitality
8. Ecological Diversity and Resilience
9. Living Standards
10. Family
11. Spirituality
12. Sense of Achievement
Preserving native language and culture

Upon reading Time's feature story on The Pursuit of Happiness (October 22, 2012 issue), what came to my mind was to rank the nine parameters, and add three to the list, namely, Family, Spirituality and Sense of Accomplishment or Achievement.  

Individual perception of course, varies, so that it is suggested that a kind of self-evaluation be conducted using the Likert Scale: 1 Very Poor, 2 Poor, 3 Fair, 4 Good, and 5 Very Good. 

Compute the average by adding the values of all the parameter, and divide it sum with 12.  This is the general perception of happiness of the person concerned. What is equally - if not more important - is in being able to find out the main source of happiness, at the same time, the least. This exercise therefore, is aimed at re-affirming our sense of values in the pursuit of happiness. So does a community or country.

Family outing to Patapat, I Norte  

We say we are happy, or a little happy. Or unhappy. Or sad. But how can we quantify happiness like in a grading system?

I found a good reference. It came from the works of the founding father of happiness research, Dr Happiness himself - Dr Edward Diener of the University of Illinois.* He calls this technique The Satisfaction with Life Scale.

I used this technique to impart a lesson about Happiness. We find that Dr Diener's test can be used in the classroom, in meetings and conferences, or just for the sake of bonding with friends and associates. 

Get a piece of paper and rate yourself in each of the following items. Use a scale of 1 to 7, where 1 is not true at all, 4 is moderately true and 7 absolutely true. The scale allows you to approximate closer to your self-judgment.

Here are the criteria:

1. In most ways my life is close to my ideal.
2. The conditions of my life are excellent.
3. I am satisfied with my life.
4. So far I have gotten the important things I want in life.
5. If I could live my life over, I would change almost nothing.

Compute for the total score by adding all values from the five questions.

·         Here is the interpretation of your score.
·         If you got 31 to 35, you are extremely satisfied with your life. Kudos!
·         If you got 26 to 30, you are very satisfied with your life;
·         If you scored 21 to 25, you are slightly satisfied.

Those who scored 15 to 19 (slightly dissatisfied) will have to perk up and unload some reasons. Get to the neutral point which is 20, and thence move up the happiness ladder.

It's not hopeless if you got low. The idea of this exercise is to create awareness that there are avenues of happiness, and that there are basic levels of happiness that one can cling to, and say, "Oh well, that's life." And still manage to laugh. And the world laughs with you.

Here is Wilcox's masterpiece which projected her to world fame as author and poetess.

   The Way of the World

Laugh, and the world laughs with you,
Weep, and you weep alone;
For the brave old earth must borrow its mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.

Sing and the hills will answer,
Sigh, it is lost on the air;
The echoes rebound to a joyful sound
And shrink from voicing care.

Rejoice, and men will seek you,
Grieve, and they turn to go;
They want full measure of your pleasure,
But they do not want your woe.

Be glad, and your friends are many,
Be sad, and you lose them all;
There is none to decline your nectared wine,
But alone you must drink life’s gall.
Feast, and your halls are crowded,
Fast, and the world goes by.
Forget and forgive – it helps you to live,
But no man can help you to die;
There’s room in the halls of pleasure
For a long and lordly train,
But one by one, we must all march on
Through the narrow isle of pain.

Psalm of Life buoys the spirit in these trying times.
Psalm of Life is the perhaps the most important poem written by America's darling poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

The poem is among the world's most quoted and recited pieces of literature; in fact, it is a prayer by and in itself. It speaks of universal values, feelings and compassion, of valor and sacrifice, and of victory over ones own battle.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) 

Longfellow himself, a victim of a family tragedy, rose to further fame and dignity. After the death of his wife in an accidental fire he went on raising his young children, and teaching in the university, experimenting with new forms and styles of poetry, producing Hiawatha and Evangeline that revolutionized poetry.

I found a very old publication, Longfellow's Evangeline (copyright 1883) with the author's biographical sketch. In describing Longfellow's trial in life, allow me to quote, "More than a score of years remained with the poet, and he had the love of his children and the comfort of his work, but the grief was so deep and lasting that he could not trust himself to speak the beloved name of his wife."

From sorrow rises a great triumph, and this is the testimony to greatness - to share not how the world should end, but how it must begin again. Not how one closes himself in, but opens himself to others. Not to "Go Gentle into the Night", but stand sentry to the "Light of Dawn".

Psalm of Life is dedicated to victims of calamities - force majeure and man-induced, circumstances beyond control, and all those who find life difficult to bear. May they find comfort, hope, and new meaning of life in Psalm of Life. ~

Psalm of Life

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each tomorrow
Find us further than today.

Art is long, and time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle,
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no future, how'ver pleasant!
Let the dead past bury its dead!
Act - act in the living present!
Heart within, and Good o'erhead.

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time.

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait. ~

                             “Yes, I have a successful married life.”

 - On getting married and your friends are around, and you tell to the whole world, “Here is the person I will always love.”

- On having your first child and see the image of both of you and your spouse? (“Look he got my eyes, and chin of his dad.”)

- On having a third child and the economy has not recovered? (“I haven’t any increase in pay since last year.”)
Author and wife visit a museum
- On driving the kids to school, then attend to chores you say, “It’s like a storm had left all the things out of their places.”

- On having your in-laws around and other relatives coming for weekends, then you realize you have an extended family.

- On having a home of your own, and say, “What I paid for rent, I now pay for amortization.” And it is investment.

- On having family disagreements now and then and you say, “Well, if everything is yes, you are sure only one is thinking.”

- On leaving your present job (or his) and start anew, even when you start again at square one, and say, “Tighten your belts.” Even so, you think you are happier now, so with my family.

- On winning an award, and say, “I owe this thing to all of you, especially to my family.”

- On going to other places and call up, “I’ll be home on Christmas.” It is only spring though.

- On experiencing a tragedy in the family, and find a strong shoulder to cry on, “He was meant to be with us only for sometime. He is our angel now.”

- On discovering a life threatening illness and you realize how each day passes with greater meaning and resolve. (“Each day is a bonus - my life is not mine anymore.”)

- On surviving and your hair is now gray, and the children have learned to adapt to life, the way you wish them to be.

- On receiving an award your children earned, and this time a sweet voice says, “This is you.” A drop of tear rolls on your wrinkled face. Words are not enough.

- On being alone; the children had left home and your spouse (bless his soul) had left something for you to live the rest of your life.

- On having grandchildren. “You naughty one you got my nose, and your chin is your grandfather’s.”

Success in married life - yes, it is the greatest success a man or woman can achieve. It is success that makes the world go round. It is the very foundation of a family and therefore of human society.

- It is a kind of success no one is denied to aspire for, irrespective of race, creed, education, or culture. Yet it is one many people failed to achieve in spite of their wealth and power.

- Success in family life is primordial. Between career and family, many people have chosen the latter, and say with a sigh, “Well, you cannot have the best of two worlds.” And they chose family.

- Success is not always equated with money or power. But it is always associated with happiness. A philosopher once said, “Happiness is the only commodity, which if you divide it, will multiply.” Try this formula, and it will tell us, “A happy family is successful.”

- Family life to be successful does not depend on one formula though. It thrives on new frontiers. There are always new things to discover. It is the discovery itself that is important, that makes it original and unique. And it must be always mutual. Joy to one is joy to the other.

- Success cannot be kept in a treasure box and locked. They say, “You cannot rest on your laurels.” Trophies are symbols; they are not an end. In Greek mythology Jason, after his adventure with Hercules in search of the Golden Fleece, spent the rest of his life beside his ship, the Argon, which fell into pieces with age killing the great warrior.

- Success in married life is neither abstract, nor merely spiritual. It is real. It is to be shared. It must be contagious. Let it be expressed with the children. It must be felt and celebrated in one way or the other minus the pomposity of the Romans. It must be exemplified. It must strive to be a model.  It should be able to pass as a paradigm of not only what life really is – but what it should be. “Life,” according to Reader’s Digest, “is the most difficult art, yet it is the finest.”

- Asked what the great British Prime Minister and hero, Winston Churchill wanted if he were born again. He said with twinkle in his eyes looking at Mrs. Churchill. “I’d like to be Mrs. Churchill’s next husband.” Success in married life has an imprimatur. It leaves a mark. That mark even glows on the dead man’s face, and on the shine of his epitaph, and flowers that grace it.

- Trials are not enough to weather success. Yes, to a courageous person, who when asked, “Were you not afraid?” He simply said, “I was afraid, but I did the brave thing.” He picked up the pieces together and his family is once more solid and whole.

When I was invited to talk on this topic before faculty members and students, I said to myself. “Gush, I should know I am successful in my married life.” For whatever I have done so far – through thick and thin - I know my family has always been with me – on the stage, on camping trips, painting exhibits, on visitation of the tombs of our departed, in the church, on my sickbed, lectures, at the mall, workshop, at the farm, on rosary hour. Seldom do I encounter the four “Ws” and one “H” – the very things that make our life complex and uncertain – without my family helping me answer these questions. Life is truly worth living for.

Kite Flying mural detail by AVRotor

As we switch on the vigil light and retire in the night, we are one happy family looking forward for the next day. For indeed, success must be lived with day after day, season after season, year after year.

At the end, we come to submit our credentials to the One who made us all, who gave us that star that guides our life, who welcomes us at His throne when we shall then have reached it. ~

“The greatest gift that we can give to our children and children’s children is Happiness. Happiness is one commodity, which when you divide it, will multiply.” AVR

Reference: The New Science of Happiness, Claudia Wallis, Time February 28, 2005

Quo vadis, Homo sapiens? To where is Man going?

"Of all God’s creatures, there is no species more guilt-ridden, confused and self-destructive than man." Dr Arturo B Rotor, Men Who Play God

 Dr Abe V Rotor

The Thinker at the Gates of Hell by Auguste Rodin (Internet)
A young man who was in love asked the computer, “What is love?”

Whereupon, came a prompt answer – in a number of definitions, technical and literary.

“How does it feel to be in love?” the young man continued. This time the computer did not respond. He entered his query once more, but still there was no response. After several attempts, the computer finally gave up, and printed: I cannot feel.

Spending more time with the computer deprives millions, mostly children, of participating in health promoting games and resistance-building exposure to nature.
Our children are no longer children of nature; they are captives of education and media, of malls and cafes.

They like to think that the mind is like the computer, that the more information it acquires the better it is to the person.

This is not so. Not when it pertains to health, not with the ability to arrive at correct decisions, not when and where survival is needed. And not when it comes to matters of love.

And here are our children spending most of their waking hours with an “intelligent” thing in the shape of a box, a thing that has no feeling at all!

Even when the computer can tell us of all kinds of ailments in the world, it cannot comfort us. It cannot cure us. It will only worsen our allergies, our asthma.

It cannot reciprocate our friendship, our love, our compassion. Because a robot is a robot is a robot.

Diseases and many forms of human misery are masked by the so-called Good Life.These are surreptitiously spreading around the world causing many complications, untold sufferings, and death. They turn into pandemic as they merge with other diseases – HIV-AIDS, obesity, diabetes, accidents, are becoming common cases.

The success of human beings and all living things today depends on fitness acquired through Evolution and Adaptation. Evolution refers to the “Survival of the Fittest,” through eons of time; while Adaptation is the ability of organisms to adjust to dynamic changes of the environment.

The Four Attributes of Man

Homo sapiens “Man the Wise”
Homo faber "Man the Maker” or “Working Man"
Homo ludens “Playing Man”
Homo spiritus “Praying Man”

(Deus faber “God the Creator”) Should Man also play the role of God?

Homo sapiens, the Patient
(From The Men Who Play God by Dr Arturo B Rotor)

“Of all God’s creatures, there is no species more guilt-ridden, confused and self-destructive than man. Fear, remorse and frustration underlie his basic behavior probably as a result of his forbears having been driven out of the Garden of Eden…”

“Man kills not for food, he eats when he is not hungry, he mates in and out of season. His suicidal tendencies are unique. While the lemmings drown themselves as a result of reduced food supplies, man will willingly cultivate cancer of his lungs by smoking poisonous plants, convert his liver into a hobnailed atrophic mass of dead tissues with alcohol, or remove himself from the control of his mind with narcotics…

“An important feature of his personality is that the more developed the creature and the more successful, the more likely is he to suffer of neurosis.”
The genes bearing these characteristics have not been identified, but seems to be transmitted paternally and maternally.

“While among all other species, infection heads mortality and morbidity lists, among Homo sapiens, neurosis is the underlying cause of ninety percent of all illnesses.”

"As a matter of fact, in the big cities and centers of population, the archetype of the successful executive in the hypertensive, the ulcer-patient, the tranquilizer-dependent. We believe that for an in-depth study of tension or anxiety, in all its typical and atypical manifestations, man is a better subject to study than any other organism.” ~

Look what the tides can bring!

Dr Abe V Rotor


Beach erosion and siltation
Sand dune down the sea into a shoal,
     a mudflat as soft as quicksand;
brown after rain, grey in summer sun,
    rolling with the tide like a ball.  

Beer bottle rolling with the wave and tide.

It is like lullaby rolling back and forth;
     who cares, not even its owner -
Big Brother seemingly blind and deaf,
     living off on his small brother.  
Beer can strewn on the beach 

Among footprints in the sand a victim,
     crushed in promenade and fun;
once loved and served with great esteem 
    awaits a kindhearted man.  

The sea is still at its ebb

The sea is quiet in its ebb, but laughter
     on its lapping and hissing shore;
drifting weeds  and tools of human toil
    remind me of human nature.  

Garment washed on the beach

Whose garment this is, I may not know,
     it reminds me of a holy man though;
stripped and condemned to die, and lo!
     I find him here where the tide is low.  ~

NOTE: Photos taken by the author with Sony Cybershot
digital camera, at Morong, Bataan, April 25, 2014

"Dirty ice cream" is the tastiest ice cream in the world.

Dr Abe V Rotor
Mang Tomas' ice cream is patronized by the UST community.     

Dirty ice cream - but why the clamor, the demand?
Capitalism's war on tradition, triumph of the brand.  

Maligned in misnomer, yet lives in one's childhood;

what's in a name for the tastiest ice cream in the world?

Home made it started, then rode on a fancy push cart,

Indigenous and personalized, brand of Filipino art. 

It is a link of tradition and modern, the old and young;

though endangered for now, it has a promise beyond?   

Foreign ingredients and technology, why not our own?

from farm to home, all native from ice cream to cone.

Dirty ice cream – to redeem its name by no one but us,
take it from the old, innovation, and Mang Tomas.

The Dog That Found A Home

Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog

Jemille and Ten-ten-ten
It was a quiet afternoon and guess who was knocking at the gate?
A starving dog, a mongrel, and what is there in him to gain?  
Could you spare me a morsel? His eyes moist and sad, begging,
And food we gave, closed the gate, everything was quiet again.  

The sun was setting down, we saw a shadow seeping through the gate,
He is still there, I told the children, and he was knocking again, 
Could you spare me a place for the night? His moaning told us so,
Who are you, who is your master? Silence. I felt a little pain.   

We took him in.  It was a special date on the calendar that comes
But once, and never again, not in a lifetime or generation.
Tenth day, of the tenth month, of the first decade of the millennium,   
And we named this lost dog Ten-ten-ten. What a celebration!  

Home he found and a happy company with us and the neighborhood,
Call his name, you wish luck and fortune, how easy to remember! 
And children tired from school come knocking to play with their friend,
Can we play with Ten-ten(-ten)? Heaven sent a dog to love and share.  ~

Friday, February 24, 2017

Chandeliers of Capiz Shells

Dr Abe V Rotor

Chandeliers of capiz above my head, 
     I'm under the sea it seems;
among mermaids and corals for bed,
    bathe in the glow of moonbeams.~   
Chandeliers made of capiz shells. Top, Mary Grace Restaurant at SM Fairview mall where a group reunion of St Paul College Ilocos Sur took place recently. The Province of Capiz was named after the  highly prized Placuma placenta oyster which is worldwide famous for the classic and elegant crafts made from it such as lampshades, window panes of houses of colonial design, and Christmas lanterns (parol). ~