Sunday, October 19, 2014

Breathe with Me, Carpet Green

Dr Abe V Rotor

Bryophytes and epiphytes hang on the limbs of acacia,
Ateneo de Manila University, QC

I rest beneath a bough on a sweltering day,
flowing beard and hair hanging like curtain
and carpet cushioning my tired feet and head;
floor, walls and ceiling you make - cool and living.

Breathe with me, breathe with me,carpet green,
catch the passing breeze, filter the dusts and the sky
like your ancestor in the distant past -
the slimy, lowly blue-green that catches the sun
and bubbles oxygen, filling the earth with life,
creatures all, my kin and I now share.

Oh, Good Life - I, in slumber, now dream
of that Paradise once lost – and now to regain;
Even for a while let me in your abode carpet green
and let the world go by - or at the edge of time,
stand still in praise with me to the One unseen.~

Development Communication - Test on Socio-Cultural Issues (True or False, 25 items)

Dr Abe V Rotor

True or False
____ 1. We are living in Postmodernism era, that is, "we are living ahead of our time in a free fall."
____ 2. Homogenization refers to inter-racial and inter-cultural marriages, to the nth degree, thus creating various combination ultimately leading to a homogenous people, thus Homo sapiens.
____ 3. We Filipinos have earned all tops awards - from sports to science. In fact we have won the Nobel Prize for peace, and another, community service.
____ 4. The term modern consciously attempts to distinguish itself from what we call traditional such classical music and traditional farming, .
____5. The European Union has recently voted Russia's membership, primarily because of its oil deposits.
____6. ASEAN and APEC, if combined in their present structures and functions, make an EU in Asia.
____7. Today the Avian or bird flu virus has hybridized with the human flu virus forming a virulent form. It has also been found to infect pigs.
____8. A Chinese scientist predicted that anthrax is going to be the next pandemic human disease.
____9. In the early 1920s, some 100 million people died of Spanish flu in just 24 weeks – more than the total death due to AIDS in 24 years.
___10. We are prisoners of our genes, and therefore must accept our fate.
___11. The church does not have a common stand on liposuction even if it is unnatural and harmful – indeed a violation of ethico-morals.
___12. Urbanization and industrialization go hand in hand like a couple.
___13. Biopirating (stealing biological resources) is a form of ecosabotage.
___14. The true reason the US and UK attacked Iraq is because Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.
___15. The so-called Cold War which lasted for 45 years was characterized by polarization of countries into democracy and socialism.

___16. We must be more concerned with endangered species, rather than endangered ecosystems, since loss of species is definitely irreversible.
___17. Suicide is precipitated by depression. No one would simply want to end up a good life.
___18. The rate of suicide is higher in less progressive countries because of poverty.
___19. Acculturation is all right, as long as the ethnic communities are integrated into the main stream of society.
___20. Agriculture and ecology are in conflict when it comes to the preservation of the natural environment.
___21. The richest nation and institution ever on earth is the Vatican, seat of the Roman Catholic church.
___23. Test tube baby, surrogate motherhood, artificial insemination, GMOs – they go altogether in a package - the most recent in the business world.
___24. Man and woman have the same intelligence level , as well as physiology – biologically speaking, that is.
___25. It is all about design. In today’s world, designs tend to be more aesthetic than functional.

NOTE: Answers to be provided  in a week's time.

Score Rating: 24-25 Outstanding; 20-23 Very Good; 15-19 Good; 10-14 Average; Below 10, Fail


Dr Abe V Rotor

Photo taken along Commonwealth Avenue, near UP Diliman QC, 2009

Thunderstorm is spawned by an orphaned mass of cloud, a transient weather condition of brief rainfall and gusty wind, accompanied by lightning and thunder, hence the common name, thunderstorm. The glow is a reflection of the setting sun.

Broken Church Bell - Bell of Liberty

Dr Abe V Rotor
Mended broken bell at San Juan Bautista parish church, San Juan, La Union

You have reached your end, oh sacred bell:
sentinel on a tower
crier of news,
marker of time,
companion in mass
rouser of sleep,
emissary of peace;
you warn of danger
heed warning at sea
hail the king,
celebrate victory
condole the lost
tolls the dead,
peal in dirge
glorify rituals.

Your master's gone, the voice of heaven ceased
with your demise you're forever free;
And man bestows you the honor at last
the title of Bell of Liberty. ~

Philippine Literature Today by AV Rotor and KM Doria, C&E Publication 2014

Literature is the people’s collective masterpiece, their imprimatur. 
Literature is the mouthpiece through which the people narrate their stories from one generation to another.  It is also an agent of change, never submissive to the whims of history; it is a pathfinder, a sailing vessel which ushers the "tides of change."
Dr Abe V Rotor
About the Cover

The concept of literature by the artist* is viewed from classic-tradition to post-modern movement, which spans over a long period and vast undefined area. It leads to the question, “What is literature today – Philippine literature to be specific?”

Literature, akin to the definition of good government, is of, for and by the people. As a binding force of a culture, literature is about people, their history, their beliefs and ideas.

Literature is the mouthpiece of the people that carries their stories alive and beautiful from generation to generation. It is the people’s collective masterpiece, their imprimatur. Literature is agent of change, never passive, never submissive; it is a pathfinder, a sailing vessel that brings in “the promise of the tides.”

The artist’s idea is in seeing Rizal alive today through his ideals bearing fruits in a free world, Lola Basyang keeping children happy like in his time with mythology’s eternal magic, Balagtas in a new Renaissance in cinemas and the Internet, and Leona Florentino, the muse of Philippine literature as the keeper of the “literary flame.”

- Leo Carlo Rojas Rotor, BSFA-ID (UST), MIT (AdMU),

Three words for a book title, Philippine Literature Today,
The essence of three elements: space, subject and time;
Yet subjective and elusive to the critical eye and mind   
But courageous at the frontline, gentle over our clime.

What is literature to the old is also that to the young;
Bridge of generations, continuum of race and culture;
Heroes of old, heroes of new, and those awaiting, too,
Living book, not archive or litany, to love and treasure.    

Dawn the prelude to sunrise, brings in a new sentinel,
New to the learned, to the unlearned, to the new born,
Sunset not the end of day and coming peace of night;
But rage, for to settle down is sin when the flag is torn.

Wonder the sun rising late and dying young in smog;
Wonder a high rise cast its shadow to hide a  shanty;
Wonder ostentatious shows, courtesy of the needy;
Wonder literature thriving on romantic dichotomy.   

Icons, masters, the pedestal too crowded for a few;
Names branded by fraternity, laurel or olive wreath;
Vanity and fancy, in language beautiful in the clouds,
Cordon sanitaire that wisdom is barred to bequeath. 

While the world moves on by leaps from a small step,
In quantum of knowledge beyond the brain can hold;
Cyberspace the blackboard that was, now unlimited,
Makes the old torch a lightning bolt its power untold.   

Literature its profile from Baby TV to Disney to HBO
Its domain epics and tales to history, science and ad;
Access on the palm and wrist, biometrics and robotics;
Quo vadis literatura? The canons are now old and sad.

Talk about Black Death, talk about Ebola, both dreaded;
Angels and astronauts; about Noah’s flood and Yolanda;
Tenants in the field and condominiums they don’t own;
Man-made islands and deserts, the mall and talipapa.

No part truly speaks of the whole, comprehensive it may,
For literature defies science; unlike happiness multiplies
When divided in the magic of synergy and imagination
Above reason like rainbow that often comes in disguise.

Pathfinders at the heels of the world’s men of letters,    
Universal truth in Rizal, genius put to test in martyrdom;
Reyes the Lola Basyang, relived fairies and the dwarfs
By the hearth and tamed the giants in faraway kingdom.

The doyen, Leona in Philippine poetry past, preserved
The endangered classics of the west tuned in vernacular;
Balagtas brought on stage Shakespearean drama alive;
Four pillars stand over our literature like shining star.   

To our shores came Aesop, Homer, the Grimm brothers,
Stories from far north and south, and across the globe,
In times war and peace, in colonial days and in liberty;
An invisible hand guided our destiny from the cold.  

What now from millenniums past, in postmodern age -
The atom a ticking bomb, the life’s secret in DNA code?
The world has shrunk into a gadget, now owned by all
At fingertip’s command, at anytime, by young and old.          

The second Big Bang that in cyberspace never sleeps,
Rousing and prodding, intruding, unyielding to our right,
Where computer and literature on busy feet moving,
Like a river of no return, rushing aimlessly in the night.

Humbly this book presents a less trodden way, perhaps nil;
Footsteps it lays ahead on a long journey on the horizon
By pioneers unknown, untested, theirs not of the glory
But courage and joy beating a path to a promising zone.  ~              

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Birdsong at Sunrise in a Garden

Dr Abe V Rotor

Birds (16" 28") painting in acrylic by the author 2012

They chirp, but you don't see them,     
     only leaves moving, rustling;
their becks red, their eyes sullen,
     and they blend with everything.

When you get near to admire,
     they shun, they stop moving,
silence the rule of their game,
     discreet and subtle warning.

Birds are indeed real strange,    
     they fly fast or sit at ease;
they sing with few notes to trace,
     like passing breeze in the trees. ~ 

When you have a garden around your house you would know if it’s already sunrise when the birds start singing in the trees. Meantime the sun seeps through the foliage and hedges, and sparkles on the dewdrops clinging on them. The lawn comes alive, flooded with sunlight.  Its many tenants – crickets, slugs, earthworm, caterpillars, and even frogs wake up. 

     Soon more birds come around.  Their songs begin to take shape and form:  cadence, pitch, and melody – all these help us in identifying the birds without seeing them. One advantage of being surrounded by a garden is that the resonance of sound heightens every note and even projects it with a ventriloquist effect that makes it difficult to be traced. What a contrast between the sounds we hear at sunrise with that in the darkness of night before! In the latter we are entertained by the unending fiddling of crickets that lulls us to sleep. Now it is a melodious wake up call.

     But one morning as I listened intently to the concert of the warblers, finally pinning down their whereabouts. Soon enough one posed, perched on a terminal branch overlooking the garden and calling for its mate.

     Meticulously I transcribed its song in alphabets and soon realized it was actually communicating. But putting the syllables together did not mean anything to humans. To transcribe them into music would take a composer to do just that. I could only pick up the melody that seems to be the theme of any composition.
Song of the warbler
Common Tailor Bird (Orthotomus atrogularis rabori Parkes)

Tag-wa-tee-e-e-e-et, tag- wa- tee-e-e-e-et, tag-wa- tee-e-e-e-et,
Tag-wa- tee-e-e-e-et, tag-wa- tee- e-e-e-et, tag-wa-tee- e-e-e-et
Tig- wa- too- tee- e- et, tig- wa- too- tee- e- et, tig- wa- too- tee- e- et,
Tig- wa- too- tee- e- et, tig- wa- too- tee- e- et, tig –wa too- tee- e- et-
Ter- r-r-r-r-r-r-, ter-r-r-r-r-r-r, ter-r-r-r-r-r-r, ter-r-r-r-r-r-r,
Ter-r-r-r-r-r-r-, ter-r-r-r-r-r-r, ter-r-r-r-r-r-r, ter-r-r-r-r-r-r

     If one analyzes Beethoven’s Pastoral or Peer Gynt’s Morning he will certainly find close association and similar pattern of their notes with those occurring in nature. Drums and thunder, steam and flute, cows mooing and horn or oboe, raindrops and castanets, cricket fiddling and violin - are easy to recognize and appreciate.

     But there are sounds too faint to recognize as music. Such is the music of the hummingbird, the world’s smallest bird. Take the sound of whales in the deep ocean.

     Once I saw (pipit) in our farm lot. Its deep high pitch call could hardly penetrate the foliage and humid habagat air. Its source seems very far that you would think it is coming from the other side of a solid wall. I saw and heard it as it sipped the nectar of Heliconia flowers.  These banana-like plants are also known as Lobster’s Claws and Birds of Paradise.  It was a rare sight. The bird hovers like a dragonfly, and darts forward and backward, inserting its long beak deep into the newly opened flowers, its feathers matching the color of the flowers around.  As it did this, it continuously uttered a deep but sweet “chee-wee-e-e-et”.

     Perhaps if we plant more Heliconia and trees around that make a four-tier structure of an arboretum - annuals, shrubs, canopy trees and emergents – we may make the garden conducive to more birds. Only by simulating the natural habitats of organisms that we expect them to establish their niches or domains. Here the birds would build their nests, and as they raise their brood, their music becomes a chorus of hungry bridling and parental calls.

      I have had a number of occasions to observe other birds in the garden. The pandangera or fantail (Rhipidura javanica nitgritorquis), as its name implies, is a dancer and singer combined. Its crispy, continuous song and brisk movement of its trail spread like a fan, stops any passerby to full attention.

     Once in our ancestral home in the province, I watched a pandangera dance and sing in front of a dresser’s mirror. The following day it came again and did the same. It was courting its own image on the mirror! This is a sign of intelligence. Zoologists know of very few creatures that are attracted by their own image, treating it like their own kind. Among these is the orangutan.

     Others birds include the swift. The smaller ones are pygmy swiftlets (Collocalia troglodytes), while the glossy and larger species are Collocalia esculenta marginata). When they come, they sit on a Mearalco wire at exactly an arm’s length apart so that they appear in equidistant formation. They are sit silently, eyeing at potential preys below.  And once they start swooping on flies and other insects you could hear them uttering short and distant sounds like birds in captivity. 

     In an aviary during feeding time, one is met by a cacophony of sounds like an orchestra rehearsing without the baton master. Imagine sounds like those of a trotting turkey, Guinea fowl taking off from the brooding basket, doves romantically in pairs, ducks and geese impatient at getting their share, uneasy native chicken (labuyo). Truly it is only in the wild that we hear true birdsongs.

     Outside the aviary a flock of house sparrows came down chirping. Don’t ask them to choose between food and freedom. Domestication has changed many things. Even if they have defied domestication, they have learned to live with him wherever he goes, on the countryside or in the metropolis. While you can hand-feed doves and pigeons, house sparrows will eat only when you have turned you back on them. For birds in general, I suppose that it is freedom that gives true meaning in their songs.

      Peer into a caged wild pigeon, a Philippine turtle dove (Streptopelia bitorquata dusumieri). The bird is silent, its round eyes empty. Wait for its song, then when it is time to leave, it expands its breast and sent deep booming sounds.  This is the other side of a warbler’s song.

     “How exiting it is to be interconnected with nature,” says a young naturalist.  Yes, it is indeed the key to the conservation of our environment. It is the very source of inspiration to express our talents – to paint, write and compose music. It links us to our Creator.

     I invite songwriters and music enthusiasts to explore the music of the birds and nature as a whole as an alternative to pop and rock music. We can explore the many things nature has given us to enjoy life in peace and harmony. While only very few are geniuses in music and in the other arts, all of us can be scholars of nature, learning and enjoying her bounty and ways

 “And to another branch he repeats his song,
Crispy and clear as the light of dawn,
And if trees are not enough and the streets
Are wider than the field, on cable or antenna be perches,
And sings still the song of his ancestors.

Shouldn’t I wake up with a happy heart
And spare a tree and two for his art?”
                                                                  -  AVR

Friday, October 17, 2014

Hideaway in a lovely realm

Photos by Marlo R Rotor

Scenic Tacloban, Leyte 2010. Typhoon Yolanda devastated the area in 2012.

Dr Abe V Rotor

If you can't find a place for respite,
If you can't eat and stretch your tired feet,
If your heart races for something it doesn't love,
It's time you slow down and look above.

If the road is too fast, your vision is blurred,
If people are no longer friendly but just a crowd,
If heads and machines never cease heating up
It's time to turn the knob to a stop.

If you have a family to share your love and pain
If you have good health before it goes down the drain,
If you want to live long, to hope and to dream,
It's time you hide in some lovely realm. ~