Its time has come to die peacefully, this pet my children grew up with; love and attention it did all get, save freedom from its own confine; between living in the wild uncared; love and freedom compared. ~
A rare photo of Dr Ofelia Dimalanta with Dr Abe V Rotor (left) who won two awards for his books, Living with Nature Series the Gintong Aklat Award, and the National book Award. At her left are Fr, Joseto N Bernades OP and Dr Armando F De Jesus, regent and former dean respectively, of the Faculty of Arts and Letters of UST
The late Dr Ophelia A . Dimalanta was all of poet, critic, academician. As poet, she published six books of poetry, namely: Montage, The Time Factor, Flowing On, Lady Polyester, Love Woman and Passional. Aside from collections of poetry, she published a book on literary criticism, The Philippine Poetica, play in two acts, Lorenzo Ruiz, Escribano, five textbooks on literature. She was widely anthologized not only in the Philippines but also in the United States, Russia, Germany, Taiwan, Japan, and Thailand. She won almost all literary awards in the country, and among, a lecture grant at the prestigious Modern Languages Association in Chicago, and the prominently, the SEA WRITE award given to Outstanding Southeast Asian Writers. She was chosen one of the one hundred outstanding women of the country, as part of the Centennial celebration. As critic, she was a founding member of the Manila Critics Circle which gives out the National Book Awards annually. Professor Dimalanta was dean of the Faculty of Arts and Letters of UST for nine years, while concurrently holding the position of Director of the UST Center for Creative Writing and Studies. Full Professorship at the UST Graduate School.
NOTE: This poem was published in Tomas, the Literary Journal of the UST Center for Creative Writing and Studies, Issue 1, Vol, 1 February 2000
Mangrugi manen. (Dawn ushers daily grind of life's drama and comedy) dawn photo 2. Ti ukoy-ukoy, Agur-uray diay abut Iti agbiddut. (The antlion waits for prey that blunders and falls into its pit.)
3. Nakasutsutil - Bacchus, Ambrosius Venus, Tulongandak! (Help me from tempters - Bacchus, Ambrosius, Venus. From Greek mythology gods and goddess of ostentatious living.)
4. Igudagudmo, Agsangit, agkatawa; Langit ken daga. (It's the violin being referred to. It cries and laughs with heaven and earth.)
5. Kapanunutan Ken takyag iti mangged, Puso ti tured. (Intellect and brawn to earn; courage is in the heart.)
6. Saan nga ammo, Nat-natay diay adayo, Ilagip tayo. (Reverence to the dead - even those unknown in distant land.)
7. Kapanunutan, Narigat nga abaken, Malaksid kukuam. (You really can't win an argument, except your own.)
8. Umisemkan, Tapno maturogen ti Dakkel a bulan. (Your sweet smile makes the moon sleep. ) 9. Nakadumog, Labaslabasan ti angin, Agngil-ngilangil. (Refers to good harvest: Heavy panicles bow low, ducking the passing wind.)
10. Naturoganna't Panagbaliw ti lubong Ni Rip Van Winkle. (From Washington Irving's story, Rip van Winkle, about a man who slept for twenty long years amid changes going on in the world.)
11. Panagkakadua, Awan iti baetna, Mamagsisina. (Too close for comfort, referring to friendship. )
12. Malinlinay, Lumakay, agbabaak, Ag-gigiddiak. (Getting old and aging don't mean the same thing.)
13. Gura ken ayat, Bumtakman wenno umpes, Arig ti ulep. (Love and hate may be compared to a cloud - it dissipates or falls as rain.)
14. Diay pag-gugubatan Ubbing laeng ti matay, Ilida’t lumakay. (As the young die in the battlefield, the country unprecedentedly grows old.) 15. Warnak inaldaw, Amin nakaragragsak, Daksanggasat. (A daily reminder: Too much fun may lead to sorrow.)
16. Toy agkabanuag, Adut’ pakairamanan, Pakairanudan. (The youth have good and bad things to share.)
17. Kapapategan, Dua laeng iti pagpilian - Kappia ken Kappia. (Peace is peace. There is no other choice. It is the most treasured thing.)
18. Flanders, Bataan, Agur-uray ti turay, Kappia, pakawan. (Forgiveness and Peace reign in the WWII memorials in Flanders Field in Europe, and Bataan in the Philippines.)
19. Uray laglagip Tinubuanen iti ru-ot Didiay Austerlitz. ("I'm the grass, I cover all," says a poet, referring to the dead in this battlefield in WWII. It covers also memories)
20. Akasia’t malem, Ti panagawid ammuem, Makaturogen. (Call it a day when the leaves of the acacia tree droop.)
It is remiss and folly of not showing true feelings to those we love, living or dead, all because “I am always busy”, and because there will be someday to make up for it. There are always reasons or alibis for failing to offer them prayers, to visit their graves, or just to make those who too, are close to them happy. Oh, there are many, many ways.
Dr Abe V Rotor
This is a true story. I went to bed
very tired. For the whole day before my birthday I put on extra effort to
finalize the manuscript of my forthcoming book which I was going to submit the
following Monday. The title is Light from the Old Arch, a compilation of
essays I wrote through the years. Dad and my sister Veny
It was just past 10 in the evening and Cecille, my wife, who had gone to bed
ahead of me stirred. “I’ll just check what we will have for breakfast. I’ll be
back,” she said as I stretched my aching back and tired brain and apparently
Soon I found myself in complete darkness. I could not trace my way to switch on
the lights and after several attempts locating it on the wall and under
curtain, an inexplicable fear crept, a fear I had never experienced before. I
was in a strange domain yet it had the features of my home. There was total
darkness, total silence.
Dad died in 1981 at the age of 78. He died here in our residence at Lagro after
battling with the complications of diabetes. We buried him at Himlayang
Pilipino. Our oldest son, Pao who died at three, soon joined him in the same
grave two years after.
Dad was deeply affected by my Mama’s death during the Second World War. My
sister Veny was four then, and my brother Eugene was three. Dad suffered much -
emotionally and physically - even after the four years of Japanese occupation.
The war left our family and the country in ruins.
We continued to live in San Vicente which is adjacent to Vigan, the capital of
Ilocos Sur. Dad confessed when we were already big that he feared so much we
would not make it through in life. I know how extremely difficult it was even
if dad owned farmlands and a neo-colonial house which my grandparents built in
1900. The three of us children knew little of the joys of childhood. My only
uncle, Uncle Leo left dad to raised his own family in Pangasinan. He seldom
visited us and spent time in our big house where he, like my dad, and their
four siblings were born. Uncle Leo was the eldest and dad was the youngest. The
rest of their siblings died at a very early age of smallpox which killed many
people in Ilocos.
Basang my auntie and yaya took care of me from the time my mother died. I was
less than two years old then. She never left us even when I came to Manila for
my studies. She died three years after dad had gone. Manang Veny called me to
come home when Basang died. We buried her in the town cemetery close to our
departed relatives. Just before she died she gave me an antique narra aparador
which I now use in keeping my personal things. In our dialect, she said, “This
is the only thing I can give you.”
“You have given me everything,” I said.
Going back to the incident of October 21, I called dad three times, then called
Basang once. It was a call apparently in fear. I felt helpless and lost. I froze.
I could not move. I could not shout. And when I knew no help would come, I
struggled. I succeeded in moving my fingers, my toes, until I was free.
Cecille had returned to our bedroom. “Why, you are pale and perspiring? What
happened?" she asked, perplexed. She fetched me a glass of water.
“Was I shouting?” I asked automatically. “No,” she said calmly.
“I was dreaming,” I said and told her the whole story.
Anatomy of a Dream
Dreams are visions of the unconscious part of our brain. That is why they occur
in our sleep, when we are not aware of things the way we perceive them with our
senses. Dreams are not fashioned by rational thoughts and actions, and
therefore we have no power to decide and to act according to that decision. We
are entirely under the control of our unconscious mind.
“Even when we are deeply asleep the psyche is still actively producing dreams,”
says Carl Jung. “We may not always be aware of these activities, any more than
we are aware of our physiological activities, but this does not mean they are
not taking place.”
According to Jung we remember only a few of our dreams, yet recent evidences
suggest that we dream continuously throughout the night. There in our
unconscious mind our psyche is very much alive, performing psychological work
such as perceiving, remembering, thinking, feeling, wishing, willing, attending
and striving – just as breathing, digesting and perspiring are physiological
But can we choose psychic values? According to Jung, when a high value is placed
upon an idea or feeling it means that this idea or feeling exerts considerable
force in influencing and directing one’s behavior. A person may place a high
value on beauty. Another on power. Or knowledge. On the other hand, there are
those who place a high value on wealth, even on sex and vices. These create the
themes of our dreams.
This is the realm of our unconscious mind. This is where Carl Jung parted way
from his friend Sigmund Freud’s as he blazed the trail of the psychology of the
unconscious, which led to applied psychology - psychiatry. We are governed not
only by our conscious mind. We are actually governed in a much deeper and wider
sense than we ever think. As we feed the unconscious with conscious thoughts
and experiences, so the unconscious feeds the conscious mind. And this cycle
goes on throughout everyone’s life, starting in the womb.
Even when we were children, the mind did not lose the information it received.
They were deposited. First in the conscious, then deposited in the unconscious
part of our brain, which are saved like in the computer. Now, the information
is ready at hand to be retrieved. Touch the key and the info comes out on the
screen – the screen of our consciousness.
How will this affect our present mind now that we are older? Jung said that the
previous information serves as archetype. To better understand how this
archetype works in relation to what we think at present, here is an example.
Suppose here is a person who happened to be a witness of a murder with his own
eyes when he was still a small child. When he sees a suspicious person, the
image of the murderer he saw many years ago flashes. It is the archetype coming
Or take another example. A kindly gentleman comes and asks for a favor. We size
him up in relation to people who have the characteristics this man possesses.
If our experiences are agreeable, it is likely that we going to entertain this
The images of people, places and events are fashioned in many ways by
archetypes. Unlike the computer, the mind spontaneously brings out the
archetype that the brain appropriately needs at that moment. This is the basis
of many of our decisions – and prejudices.
Through dreams the loaded unconscious finds relief. Information flows out in
the form of dreams. Dreams may be happy or sad, fearful or pleasant. Or at
intervals of moods and settings and characters, as if information keeps on
flowing out. Nature has given us a safety valve to maintain our rationality and
to release us from the prison walls of memory. Thus the other safety valve is
Psychiatry is based on this principle. Lying on a couch the patient unloads his
burden, fears, and uncertainties. He releases the pressure. Through this
process he reaches a state of catharsis. He is relieved. He can now sleep. He
can now work again.
People who cannot attain catharsis may suffer of psychiatric problems and may
resort to drugs. Do you often wonder why people resort to drugs? Why there are
more and more people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol?
Why, many people try to “escape” reality?
October 21 is a memorable day for me. By reading this story one is led to think
that something supernatural controlled the event and situation. I told Cecille,
“Dad and Basang came.”
“Let’s pray for them,” she answered and made the sign of the cross.
I know they did not come; I went to them. It was a special day, my special day.
I realized my fault which lays not so much in not remembering them often, but I
have ceased to see them as the models that shaped my life. That was too long
ago. I no longer see the lessons I learned from them that are still relevant to
my present life. I do not call them anymore in the midst of my problems. I have
grown up. I do not seek their intercession and guidance anymore.
It is remiss and folly of not showing true feelings to those we love, living or
dead, all because “I am always busy”, and because there will be someday to make
up for it. There are always reasons or alibis for failing to offer them
prayers, to visit their graves, or just to make those who too, are close to
them happy. Oh, there are many, many ways.
Time has changed, and change has polarized our worlds. So with values of old
and of the present world. The generation gap syndrome is creeping fast, more so
with my own children who too, will have a world of their own in the near
future. There in the dark I called Dad and Basang, their names clear and loud, but my
voice just faded without answer, not even its own echo. It was eerie and
mysterious. The unconscious was swelling and it found an exit in the dark,
psychic energy released in dream. And there as I called them, I realized I was
the one who is lost – and found myself again.
This is a true story. x x x
I have just finished a manuscript, a sequel to Living with Nature series. I have chosen for its title, Living Earth in my Palm, because the palm is the seat of human thought, emotion, and spirituality. It is the seat of truth when we take an oath, seat of execution after a decision. In this particular case, it is in the palm where an idea comes as a snap, where creativity is born and nurtured. Where dreams can be realized, we are known, and finally, we are received by God.
One can surmise the depth of Rodin’s Thinker in the palm of a clenched fist, more than his pensive mood. I can imagine Helen Keller, born blind, cup the face of a person to express love, or to photograph the person in her mind. We gauge cleanliness by the palm; we appraise the value of articles, examining their details and hidden secrets.
What could be a higher level of expression of respect to the flag than a palm placed on the breast, and an open palm to pledge loyalty? And is there a deeper sense of contrition than cupping both hands and drawing them close to a bowed head? The faithful raise their hands with open palms in praise and exultation, building a spiritual bridge that unites humanity and God, the world and the Creator.
And among the grassroots, the farmer gathers a handful of grain in the field, examines it to know if it is ready for harvest - and not so much for its bounty, expresses thanksgiving to Mother Earth. It is also in the palm of the Man with a Hoe, made rough by hard work, that the soil is known of its readiness and suitability to a crop he is going to plant. The young Lincoln would brush dirt and wipe his palm as if to release some burdens of the day’s work, while looking far into the railroad he was building.
We extend our arms of welcome and reconciliation with open palms. Genuine handshake is felt by the palm. Cold and sweaty palm is a barometer of our emotion. The warmth of our palm has a deep source in the core of our being. It is a thermometer of our anger or calmness. And to believers, the map of our lives and fate.
On my palm is a living earth, the microcosm of nature and culture. It is in the palm that we ponder over Rodin’s sculpture, feel Helen Keller’s love and kindness, hear a schoolchild sing before the flag, the faithful whisper a prayer, feel the soil, know the grain when it has turned golden. Of the young worker brush dirt and look into the horizon. It is in the palm that we can hold the world, live a life of eternity, find heaven in simple beauty, and infinity in our short sojourn on this earth. ~
Socrates, father of Philosophy, on his deathbed. He was condemned to die by drinking hemlock, a poison, for corrupting the minds of the youth. The Lamp of Knowledge
Teaching is an art. It is an art of the masters - Aristotle, Plato, Christ, and many great teachers of the Renaissance that brought the world out of the Dark Ages. While we have developed modern techniques in teaching, it is important to look back into the past.
It is looking back at the lamp that enabled our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, to write his last masterpiece, the lamp Florence Nightingale held over her patients at the warfront, the lamp that made Scheherazade’s “one thousand and one nights” stories, the lamp a Greek philosopher held high at daylight “searching for an honest man.” Or the lamp fireflies make and glow with the spirit of joy and adventure to a child.
But why do we look back and ponder on a tiny light when the world basks in the sunshine of progress and development, of huge networks of learning, of high technologies in practically all fields of endeavor? I’ll tell you why – and why we teachers must.
But first let me tell a story of a computer enthusiast, who like the modern student today relies greatly on this electronic gadget, doing his school work so conveniently like downloading data for his assignment. So one day he worked on his assigned topic – love.
He printed the word and set the computer to define for him L-O-V-E. Pronto the computer came up with a hundred definitions and in different languages. Remembering his teacher’s instruction to ask, “How does it feel to be in love?” again he set the computer to respond. And you know what?
After several attempts, the computer printed on its screen in big letters, “I can not feel.”
Where is that main ingredient of human relations – feeling – today?
• Where is the true feeling between teacher and student? • Where is the feeling of joy at the end of a teaching day, in spite of how hard the day had been? • Where is that tingling feeling of the student for having recited well in class? • Where is that feeling in singing the National Anthem, the school hymn? • Where is that feeling Rizal felt when a moth circled the lamp in his prison cell while he wrote, Mi Ultimo Adios? • Where is that burning desire that drove Michaelangelo to finish single-handedly the huge murals of the Sistine Chapel? • That drove Vincent Van Gogh to madness – madness the world learned a new movement in the art – expressionism - years after? • That kept Florence Nightingale, the founder of the nursing profession, make her rounds in the hospital in the wee hours of the morning? • The lamp that strengthened Plato’s resolve to change the way people should think in the light of truth and justice.
Feeling. There is a song Feelin, and the lyrics ask a lot of questions about human nature changing with the times. I do not think human nature has changed. It is as stable as Nature herself and the natural laws that govern the universe.
What we are saying is that our ways are changing. The conformity of our actions is more with the rules we set rather than the philosophies on which they are founded. It is our quest for want above our needs that has blinded us and benumbed our feelings, that has taken us to the so-called fast lane so that we no longer see objects as they are, but abstracts, that has made us half-humans in the sense that we spend half of our lives dealing with machines – who have no feelings.
What then is modern man? I am afraid we have to review some of our references on the Janus-like character of man, like -
• Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde • The Prince and the Pauper • The Princess and the Frog • The movies - Mask, Superman, Batman, Spiderman • Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter • Cartoons and animated movies
The doubling of characters in man has led him away from permanence. Today, the biggest crisis in man is his impermanence. Impermanence in his domicile, nay, his nationality, political party. Affiliation in business and social organizations, and most disturbingly, with his marriage and family. When was the last time we said to ourselves – or experienced - the following.
• It’s a weekday for my family and nothing else. • How I wish I can help my child of his math assignment. • I’ll teach only this year and will find a more rewarding job after. • I think it’s time to settle down. • I want to go to a concert and enjoy the fine art of music. • Can’t I put all my ideas in a book? • It’s always meeting – can’t we just talk? • This dizziness, it must be the pressure of my work. • Maybe I can concentrate on my thesis this time. • I have not finished reading “Da Vinci Code”. • This summer I’ll be with my parents.
Here are ways by which we can brighten up our lamp amidst the factors that test our dedication of our profession as teachers.
1. Be yourself. Be natural. 2. Keep on learning 3. Be a model of your family and community 4. Relax 5. Use you faculties fully and wisely
Naturalness is a key to teaching. I saw a film, Natural with then young award-winning Robert Redford as the principal actor. It is a story of a baseball player who became famous. The central theme of his success is his naturalness. Naturalness in pitching, batting - in the sport itself, above all, in his relationship with his team and fans.
Our students can easily sense our sincerity. They shun from us if we are not. They cannot fully express themselves, unless we show our genuine love and care for them. Develop that aura that attracts them, that keeps relationship easy to adapt or adjust. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
“Who dares to teach must never cease to learn.” - John Cotton Dana -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Be a Model
Florence Nightingale Lady with the Lamp - founder of the nursing profession
A teacher must have more time for himself and for his family. Teaching is an extension of family life. And this is the primordial stimulus that makes your family a model family and you as a model teacher – because you cause the light of the lamp to radiate to others. And it is not only the school that you bring in the light. It is the community because you are also lighting the lamp of others, including the tiny glow in your young students. When they get home, when they interact with their community in whatever capacity they can, even only among their playmates, relatives and neighbors, they are in effect sharing that light which is also the light of understanding and unity.
Great achievements are usually products of relaxed minds. Relaxation allows the incubation of thoughts and ideas. Churchill found time to paint during the Second World War. In his relaxed mind he made great decisions that saved Great Britain and countless lives. Or take Einstein for instance. His formula which explains the relationship of energy and matter in E=mc2 was drawn out from casually observing moving objects - train, heavenly bodies, marbles. Galileo watched a huge chandelier in a church sway with the breeze and later came up with the principles of pendulum movement.
Darwin studied biology around the world as if he were on a leisure cruise, and summed up his findings that founded the most controversial Theory of Evolution by means of natural selection. An apple fell on Newton’s head when everything was still. Examine closely the parables of Christ. How relaxed the Great Teacher was in telling these stories to the faithful. The lamp shines the brightest when there is no wind. When held high with steady hands and given time to examine things around, views become clearer, and the more certain we are along our way.
Use Your Faculties Fully and Wisely
Our brain is made up of the left hemisphere, the thinking and reasoning part, and the right hemisphere, the seat of creativity and imagination. Together they reveal an enormous capacity of intelligence, which are pictured in eight realms. These are
1. Logic 2. Languages 3. Music 4. Spatial 5. Interpersonal 6. Intrapersonal 7. Kinesthetics 8. Naturalism
From these realms the teacher draws out his best qualities. He explores, decides, adapts, entertains, leads, and stands courageously to lead the young.
Here he sows the seed of knowledge. And in the young the seed grows, and grows, which the educator Henry Adams expresses in this line.
“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”
Hydrangea macrophylla. The color of the flower indicates the relative acidity of the soil. An acidic soil (pH below 6) produces flower color closer to blue (top photo), whereas an alkaline soil (pH above 6) will produce flowers more pink (middle photo). This is caused by a color change of the flower pigment in the presence of aluminum ions accumulated in the plants. Lowermost photo indicates slightly alkaline soil, and possibly of another cultivar.