Sunday, January 31, 2010

Where have all the native fruits gone?

Caimito (Chrysophylum cainito)

Atis (Anona squamosa)

Tiesa (Locuma nervora)

Siniguelas (Spondias purpurea)

Abe V Rotor

Where have all the native guava gone,
the bats and birds and the young one?

Where have all the sweet nangka gone,
its fruits buried under the ground?

Where have all the old piƱa gone,
on the upland, sweetened by the sun?

Where have all the red papaya gone,
solo by name, the only tree of a kind?

Where have all the pomegranate gone,
friendly though like the deadly one.

Where have all the pako mango gone,
to cook the finest sinigang?

Where have all the big pomelo gone,
its rind made into jelly and jam?

Where have all the red macopa gone,
the laughing children in its arm?

Where have all the native santol gone,
set aside for a large-seeded one?

Where have all the tall mabolo gone,
sapote and caimito that ripe into tan?

Gone to the genie everyone,
technology’s child becoming man. ~

Living with Nature 3, AVR (All Rights Reserved)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Riverbank Verses

Floating market, Bangkok

Abe V Rotor

Chao Phraya River
The river is deep; its source is long;
Its shoulders broad, the sea is far.
Keeper of legends and ancestry;
It washes tears, reflects the stars;
Chronicler of culture and history.

Tourists Center

Incessant is life with joy and flair,
Under the sun, in the night’s air,
Like bees humming, fish circling,
Birds arriving, leaving.

Hotel Room
Simplicity is the rule and reference;
Colors melt in cream and gray pallor,
Ceiling meets floor, window and door,
Only the guests make the difference.

Busy Lane
Busy feet and hands, mind and heart at race
On the fast lane, sidewalks blocked;
Where is order, dignity and grace?
Life never dims, stars just hang out.

Floating Market
Boat songs here are not of romance and gay,
But songs of bounty in the land of the free,
Floating down the meandering river to the city
Where the heart of trade throbs, throbs all day.

Living with Nature 3, AVR (All Rights Reserved)

Macopa Hybrid

Macopa (Eugenia jambalana) hybrid

Abe V Rotor


I know you on the backyard where I grew up;
A big tree laden with fruits and children,
I among them all day laughing, swinging
From branch to branch in pure joy and delight,
Never reaching our fill, unheeding old folks.

Now your fruits are bigger, perhaps sweeter,
In bright red skin to sad purple green,
Hanging on frail branches touching the ground,
When you were a living cradle with strong limb;
How frail indeed is man's ultimate aim. ~


Living with Nature 3, AVR (All Rights Reserved)

Sea Bass in Captivity

Bangkok Live Fish Market, January 25, 2010


Abe V Rotor

How sad their faces are though seemingly at ease;
I tapped the glass, they stared at me a friend;
With a camera I sealed their fate forever in peace,
Alive in memory but failed to save them.~



Living with Nature 3, AVR (All Rights Reserved)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Act II - Destruction of the Forest


Abe V Rotor

One day modern man came, the trees he saw.
He is one that progress has not given peace and content,
His aim is endless, his prospect’s to get richer and richer.
Renouncing pagan worship to a god of materialism.

His measures of wisdom is domination over every creature,
Taking a complete turn from that of his ancestors;
His view of economics is dangerous, but a deaf ear he turns
To the consequences of his action – and his future.

His face reflects that of a devil.
He swings a huge axe and heaves with madness;
He tears down whole forests with giant machines.
His laughter echoes in deep chill.

The forest and all creatures living in it lay dying.
Though the sun is shining still,
Its life-giving light and heat are now useless,
And silence reigns in eerie and sadness.

(Continued)

Act III - Rebirth


Abe V Rotor

Now is the revenge of the deities on earth;
They cry day and night long, howl with the wind,
Hiss with the dust, shimmer in the heat,
Roar with the flood, sigh with the last breath of death.

The deities have lost compassion not long ago,
How cold and harsh they have been treated!
They wonder if knowledge – that kind learned in school –
Has also taught man indifference and hatred.

The deities even doubt if civilization is good at all;
Dreading Armageddon, the earth’s final chapter;
They remember the lustful masters of the colonial past.
If history’s repeating itself - who is this new master?

The master emerging from the liberated masses will show
If he is more fearful than the old enemy below.
What can the deities do now except to avenge?
As they roam the earth where their old friend is now a foe.

Then a group of children visited the lost forest.
A cross they raised, no big name they did extol.
Seedlings they planted, and their words were real
A structure they put up, it was neither church or hall.

A tower they built to link the forest up the shore;
All these brought the deities back home,
And they began to sing their songs once more.

They came down at night when the children
Were sleeping, to take care of the seedlings
Which grew fast – and soon many trees began to grow,
As the community got to its feet around the children.

They are simple people, they are kind to Nature.
Their joy with plants and animals seems pure;
The animals came back found a new home –
Home, sweet home of their ancestors before.

Now the deities sing the songs of the breeze and stream,
Whisper into the ears of the children before sunrise
Who dream of paradise, and on waking up,
See it shine before their eyes.~


Sunshine on Raindrops, AVR

Friday, January 22, 2010

Requiem to Suso ni Aran

Abe V Rotor


Wasn't through eons of time this replica
of Olympus on a local shore
a perfect flesh of earth,
warmed by the sun,
caressed by the wind,
drenched by rain,
kissed by dewdrops?
Pride of the species,
the spring of new life?
And beneath it throbbed a gentle thunder?
Didn't the trees hush,
the birds sing lullaby?
Oh, heart, dear heart!
Do you still throb,
Do you still bleed? ~

Suso ni Aran is a mythical mountain, a proud breast in the distance, until recently. Unabatted quarrying has permanently destroyed the figure and is likely to level it to the ground. Barangay Suso, Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur.

Light from the Old Arch 3, AVR

Sister Mamerta Rocero SPC, PhD - A Religious for All Seasons

Sister Mamerta Rocero SPC, PhD - A Religious for All Seasons

Last photo with the author at the Vigil House, Taytay Rizal.

Death of St Paul stained glass, Vigil House where Sister Mamerta spent
the last years of her fruitful life.


St Paul of Chartres cemetery, Antipolo - resting place of
Sister Mamerta overlooking Marikina Valley -

By Dr. Abe V. Rotor


“The undulating valley below,
The river serpentine, a moving silver sheen,
Take my breath away in the ecstasy of their beauty,
Because You are in them, Lord.”


- Sister Mamerta Rocero,SPC
Because You are in Them, Lord


Close your eyes and you can see the imagery – that inner mind, in the quaintness of Amorsolo, stillness of Corot, freshness of Renoir, faithfulness of Rembrandt and passion of Van Gogh.

Yet it is the last line that gives meaning to all these attributes – Because You are in them, Lord. It is submission, reverence; it is prayer.

Sister Mamerta, being a religious, takes us to fathom deeper the meaning of a poem. Shakespeare is perhaps the ultimate in classical style and richness of words – she can’t compare with that. The Brownings may be the most romantic in the world of poetry – she may fall short of that, too. Edgar Allan Poe’s abandon (Annabelle), Lord Byron’s melody, Whitman’s vernacular – her poems may only have a shade of these. But she exudes here and there Alexander Pope’s morals (A little learning is a dangerous thing), Robert Frost’s simplicity (And miles to go before I sleep…), Longfellow’s values (The Arrow and the Song), and Shelley’s musical lines (To a Skylark).

She can take you to meditation like in Thomas Gray’s masterpiece, Elegy on a Country Churchyard. Her poetry, like John Keat’s, possesses an urgent cause and awareness that beauty exists in a world “where pain is never done.” Yet unlike this medieval English poet, Sister Mamerta finds hope, radiating hope to any suffering.

"I meet the poor, the suffering,
the abandoned, the unwanted –
And my heart, deeply touched,
Goes out to them –
Because You are in them, Lord."

She may not all agree of grace falling down like manna from heaven. The moral is her poetry is for man to find God, for He is everywhere. But who is this God in her poetry? It is a universal God of goodness, goodness in the true sense of Christian philosophy, Christianity in action. It is the essence of the Messiah, of Matthew 25 (What you have done to the least your brethren, you have done it to me.)

You may find Him hidden in some abandoned hospital ward…
He may be the shrunken little woman, sitting all alone…
Nay, He may be the frustrated man with ambitions thwarted,
Or the humbled rich so suddenly bereft of his great wealth.

And so, you will find the Lord, not amidst glitter and wealth.
- Sis. Mamerta Rocero, Recognize Him

Browsing over her poems, one is lead to think that ours is a fatalistic world. Artists generally are like that. The more they perceive their subject to the core, the more intense their expression becomes. Suffering is dominant ingredient of art, and one can unmistakably perceive its expression, say in Eugene de la Croix’s colors of black and red in Victory Leads the People, or in Pablo Picasso’s plaza mural, Guernica that inflamed a revolution in the Basque territory of Spain, his mother country. One is familiar of course with Vincent van Gogh’s painting of Starry Night, which was transcribed into a song – Vincent - more than a century after his death.

Gleaming on the lighter side, our poetess exudes the touch of naturalism, the healing secret of a doctor who attends kindly to her patient, whose assurance for recovery comes first before the book and technology. She draws imagery from the inner self where tranquility resides – and springs in times of haste and trouble.

“The mountains before me –
majestic, verdant-hued,
their cascading, glistening falls,
envelope me with awe
and sheer wonder…”

Sister Mamerta is a living witness of man’s inhumanity to man during the Second World War. But you can only glimpse like through a keyhole the sufferings of war in her writings. It takes a contrite yet courageous heart to take the road to forgiveness and bury the past. Yet she warns that history has the capability of repeating itself, and shares with Wilfred Owen’s The Pity of War or Ernest Hemingway’s Farewell to Arms, the tragedies of Shakespearean dramas, notwithstanding.

How about the pessimism of Matthew Arnolds who foresaw the dark side of industrialization that molded our modern world? Arnolds laments -

"To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night."

- Matthew Arnold, Dover Beach

How frail is human! But how does Sister Mamerta look at this prophesy-come-true? This is what divides the grains - whole and broken. More people see the broken grains of life. No, not our Paulinian laureate. “I would rather look at John Donne,” she said. Donne wrote, encompassing the heritage he left to the world. When somebody dies, a little in each of us also dies – because humanity is interrelated, it is one.

And from here Sister Mamerta, riding on Donne’s philosophy almost always makes reference to afterlife. She is at the forefront of values formation and reformation, while writers most often talk about here and now, of this earthly life, its realities and fantasies. True to her mission as a Paulinian, she believes that one must prepare his soul’s journey to everlasting life. But earn he must, for neither by a Tower of Babel nor material affluence can one be able to reach that beautiful destiny. The mortal part of our being, is but the springboard to this great, remarkable travel, which all peoples - irrespective of culture and religion – firmly believe in. This is universal faith that binds the human species. The core of our being as Homo sapiens is therefore, our spirituality.

"You’ve need to ask His grace and His spirit of enlightenment,
If you have to pierce through the clouds hiding Him from view -
But the reward is great – He is there waiting to embrace you!"

Indeed, an unsung saint has spoken in the beauty of poetry and in the peace of a cloistered life, candle light streaming through the convent’s window. Out there the wind blows and blows on some mountain tops and down into the valley. And dawn is a child.

Author’s Note: This article is dedicated to the memory of Sister Mamerta Rocero, SPC, who died on January 7, 2009 at the age of 93. This is a critique of her poems and verses which I obliged upon her request five years before her death.

Sister Mamerta wrote eight books: two in poetry, two essays (Talking with God and His Friends, and God Bless the Family)), a compilation of her speeches, a biography of her late sister, Sister Mary Nathaniel Rocero, SPC, also a Ph.D. holder, (My Sister Mary Nath), and several scientific papers. Ethnobotany of the Itawes, her doctoral dissertation earned the honor of meritissimus from the University of Santo Tomas. It was published by the National Museum in 1985. I have known Sister Mamerta since I was a child in our hometown, San Vicente, Ilocos Sur. She and my father were cousins on the maternal side, Roberonta.

x x x

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Part 2: Self-Administered Test on Anxiety, Phobia and Depression


Dr Abe V Rotor

26. There is no such thing as mental block in the middle of an examination; it merely shows that you are not really prepared.

27. Anxiety disorder affects million all over the world – not even 25% have any medical treatment. It is steadily rising in all countries where Western influence is getting stronger.

28. Mental illnesses account for 5 of the 10 leading causes of disability in Asia.

29. In Cambodia an estimated 75% of adults who lived through the Khmer Rouge era suffer from extreme stress or post traumatic stress disorder.

30. Highest rates of suicide: Sri Lanka (55 per 100,000); followed by Japan (25.2); S Korea (19); China (17-20); US, Britain, Singapore, India, Thailand, Australia, are among the lowest.

31. Troubled lives in our modern and industrialized world have lead to increased divorced rate in Asia - highest in S Korea, H King, Japan. Singapore and China in decreasing this order.

32. Schizophrenia is a psychotic disorder that severely alters the way a person actually thinks and behaves like hallucinations, delusions, confusion, withdrawal, agitation, emotional numbness – about 100 percent of patient can expect a full and lasting recovery.

33. Fear – any external stimulus from threatening words to a gunshot that the brain interprets as dangerous.

34. Stress – The short-term physiological response produced by both the brain and the body in response to stress.

35. Depression – A sense of apprehension that shares many of the same symptoms as fear but builds more slowly and lingers longer.

36. Anxiety – Prolonged sadness that results in a blunting of emotions and sense of futility; often more serious when accompanied by an anxiety disorder.

37. Panic disorder – This is recurrent, unexpected attacks of acute anxiety, peaking within 10 minutes. One finds himself in a situation such as in a crowded elevator. If extreme anxiety symptoms appear, the person may be suffering of anxiety disorder that needs medical consultation, even if this is occasionally experienced.

38. Specific Phobia – This is characterized by consuming fear of a specific object or situation, often accompanied by mild to extreme anxiety symptoms. It may just be plain hate, or fear, say heights. Behavioral therapy – gradual introduction of the cause, until enough courage is built; and cognitive therapy – re-orientation of perception or behavior, may be needed independently or jointly.

39. Anxiety is inherited, thus children suffering of anxiety are most likely candidates of depression. Some people seem to be born worriers. Some anxiety disorders are known to run in the family. If the genes involved are reinforced by environment, the expression become more distinct.

40. Identical twins are more likely show stronger tendency to suffer from generalized anxiety disorder. However, even one with low genetic vulnerability could develop a fear of something that may even be greater than one with high genetic vulnerability.

41. Many kids outgrow their anxiety disorder to become well-adjusted adults. Anxiety and depression have similar underlying biology. Anxiety may surface early in life and depression later.

42. Anatomy of anxiety as explained to the ordinary citizen goes like this - The senses pick up a threat – a scary sight, a loud noise, a creepy feeling – the information takes two different routes through the brain – but it takes the shortcut – the brains automatically engages an emergency hot line to the fear center – the amygdala

43. Actually yoga, meditation, guided imagery, aromatherapy, massage do not have any therapeutic value to anxiety.

44. Lifestyle changes which include cut back or eliminate the use of sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and recreational drugs, are helpful in overcoming anxiety.

45. Generalized Anxiety Disorder – Excessive anxiety or worry for days or months, but does not affect quality of life. Characterized by restlessness, difficulty concentrating or sleeping, irritability, fatigue, muscle tension. Have three or more of these symptoms confirm a person is suffering of GAD.

46. Digestion Shutdown – Brains stops thinking about things that bring pleasure, conserve energy otherwise wasted on digestion, hence vomiting, defecation, urination may occur.

47. Cognitive therapy – Best for phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder. Panic disorder is to expose patients to a tiny bit of the very thing that causes them anxiety.

48. Behavioral therapy– rethinking, behavior modification through proper advice.

49. Minor tranquilizers – Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft are best known among the antidepressant drugs The newest group is norepinephrine which control emotion and stabilize mood, thus there is no need of doctors’ prescription.

50. The most practical therapy is exercise – talk therapy, simple exercise (at least 30 minutes), brisk walk Exercise releases natural opiates called endorphins.


ANSWERS: 26F, 27T, 28T, 29T, 30F(US and Britain rank among the top), 31T, 32F(50% only), 33F (Stress), 34F (Fear), 35F (Anxiety), 36F (Depression). 37T, 38T, 39T (Nature-Nurture), 40T, 41F, 42T, 43F, 44T, 45T, 46T, 47F (Behavioral Therapy), 48F (Cognitive Therapy), 49F, and 50T


What do you call these phobias?

1. Fear of bathing

2. Heights

3. Open space

4. Crossing the street

5. Riding in a car

6. Walking

7. Fear of flying

8. Men

9. Marriage

10.Church

11. Growing old

12. Saints and holy things

13. Flowers


ANSWERS: 1. Ablutophobia 2. Acrophobia 3. Acrophobia 4. Agyrophobia or Dromophobia 5.Amaxophobia 6.Ambulophobia 7. Aviophobia 8. Androphobia 9. Gamophobia 10.Ecclesiophobia 11. Gerascophobia 12. Hagiophobia 13. Anthophobia

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Books by Dr AV Rotor


Published by University of Santo Tomas, launched 2008 Manila International Book Fair, SMX Mall of Asia, 220 pp. "The book is a compendium of indigenous technical knowledge complemented with modern scientific thinking. The narratives offer an exploration into the world of ethno-science covering a wide range of practical interest from climate to agriculture; medicine to food and nutrition..: (Excerpt of Foreword by Dr Lilian J Sison, dean UST Graduate School).

" For the science educator and communicator, here is a handy volume to help you reach the popular consciousness. You will find here more than ample number of examples for making connections between lived experience and scientific information." (Dr Florentino H Hornedo, UNESCO Commissioner)


Winner of the Gintong Aklat Award 2003 by the Book Publishers Association of the Philippines. The book has 30 chapters divided into four parts, a practical guide on how one can get closer to nature, the key to a healthy and happy life. Second printing, 2008.

"Once upon a time, nature was pristine, undefiled, and unspoiled. We used to live in a dreamlike world of tropical virgin forests, and purer hidden springs, calm ponds, and serene lakes with majestic purple mountains, crowned with canopied trees. That was when people took only what they needed, caught only what they ate, and lived only in constant touch with a provident earth." (excerpt from the Introduction by Dr Anselmo Set Cabigan, professor, St Paul University QC and former director of the National Food Authority)

A Sequel to the Living with Nature Handbook, it was launched at the Philippine International Book Fair in 2006. It won the National Book Award by the National Book Development Board jointly with The Manila Book Circle and the National Commission for the Culture and the Arts. Published by UST Publishing House, the book has 35 chapters divided into four parts. The book can be aptly described in this verse.

"Nature shares her bounty in many ways:
He who works or he who prays,
Who patiently waits or gleefully plays;
He's worthy of the same grace."


The principal author is Dr. Belen L Tangco who wrote the verses and prayers. Each verse or prayer is accompanied by an appropriate painting by AV Rotor. Full color and handy, it is useful as a prayer book and reference in the Humanities.

"Indeed, God speaks to us in the little details of nature - through the trees and the flowers, in the drip of rain, in the blow of the wind. He speaks to us in all of His Creation..." (Excerpt from the Foreword by Fr Tamelane R Lana, UST Rector)

A Giraffe Book, it contains 72 verses, mainly four-liners, each verse accompanied by a photograph or painting. Most of the photos were taken by students in the Humanities at then St Paul College QC. The school president wrote the Foreword, an excerpt of which reads as follows:

"It takes deep reflection to arouse one's inner child to take notice of the undistinguished buds, hyacinth, date palms... and it takes a trusting, affirming, and enlightened teacher-artist to lead and inspire..."

Poems, poems, poems, 72 pages, a handy book, colored and black and white, published by Megabooks 2000. The late secretary of justice Sedfrey A Ordonez wrote in the Foreword "... it is inescapable that after reading his poetry and after examining his paintings which accompany his verses one is led to the conclusion that the man who created the multi-disciplinary tour de force is a Renaissance man, one who reveals his reverence for nature by means of music, verse, and painting."

The book is in full color, 75 pages, written by a very young student of then St Paul College QC. In the words of Sr Mary Sarah Manapol in the Foreword, "Viva is a youthful poetess who thinks and writes about pain and loss, friendship, joy and love, music and the arts, nature, math and literature, war and piece - these belie her age of 17 summers."

Dr AV Rotor as co-author, provided the photographs and paintings that fits harmoniously with the poems. More than this, he encouraged the young poetess to write her first book which was launched on her debut. Here is a verse from an anonymous admirer.

"After reading Light of Dawn,

How can I live without poetry and art?
From the love that I shall find,

Shall not my heart depart
."

"The authors have embarked on this task of providing people with more information about the many uses of some plants. While herbal plants have long been recognized because of their nutritional and medicinal qualities, their other uses are not fully exploited... May we continue to promote alternative medicine... The prices of medicine and health products remain unaffordable to most of our countrymen and herbal plants are the best alternative as most of these have been proven to be effective." (Excerpt from the message of Dr Juan M Flavier, former senator and secretary of health)

A compilation of 18 essays about life and living, 216 pages. Published by UST in 2000 with the Preface written by Fr. Jose Antonio Aureada, regent of the Graduate School.

"What is considered a religion of disconnection betrays man's inability to see sensuality through divinity and divinity through sensuality... It was Victor Frankl, a Jewish psychotherapist-philosopher, who popularized logotherapy, a word of Greek origin which literally means healing through meaning. Dr Abe. the poet-musician-painter-scientist rolled into one, reminds us of the Franklian inspired principle: The unheard cry for meaning if only well-heeded in all aspects of life - from the least significant to the extremely necessary, from the most commonplace to the phenomenally sublime - can only restore authenticity back to living life beautifully."

A coffee table book, full color, published by Megabooks in 1995. It was dedicated and presented to the Holy Father on his visit to the Philippines by the late Jaime Cardinal Sin, Sister Teresita Bayona SPC, and Fr. James B Reuter, SJ.

" Doctor A.V. Rotor is an extraordinary man - scientist, painter, musician, photographer, poet. With these verses he becomes something more than an artist. He is an apostle - trying, in his own gentle way, to bring man to God. and God to man, through beauty." (Message by Fr James B Reuter, SJ)


NOTE: Available at the University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, Espana corner P Noval, Manila at special discount for a package of books: The Living with Nature Handbook; Living with Nature in Our Times; Light from the Old Arch, and Living with Folk Wisdom. Please call 406-1611 local 8252/8278).


Available at National Book Store branches. (Quezon Avenue Branch: Living with Nature Handbook, Living with Nature in Our Times, Living with Folk Wisdom)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Environment Lecture-Forum at UST

Dr. Abercio V Rotor receives a Certificate of Appreciation from Professor Rebecca David, adviser of the Rotaract Club of UST Pharmacy, after presenting a lecture on the environment with the theme, “Be in the Know Now: Make a Difference - You can Save the Earth.” The lecture-forum was held at the Tan Yan Kee Auditorium, University of Santo Tomas last January 8, 2010. In the In photo, from right are Prof Ophelia Laurente, Dr Rotor, Prof David,Miss Gayle Alexine Nadres (governor, UST Rotaract Club); Prof Perla Villamarzo, Miss Caress Cabrera, and Mr Jason Modina, Rotaract officers.

Peter Huang, a Pharmacy student, raises a question on how the "Greening Movement" helps in combating global warming and other ecological problems.

Happy disposition is painted on the faces of these participants. Boredom is the common problem in lectures. Let the audience participate in the forum and through hands-on exercises and group dynamics.

Abe V Rotor

Lecture-forum, workshop, conference, field camp, outreach project, social immersion, rural service, apprenticeship, practicum - these supplement and complement classroom instruction. Or substitutes to it.

In many instances, they constitute the bigger part in acquiring knowledge specially on the skills level and where social concern is needed. They are practical and effective because they often make use of hands-on and on-site approaches. They hone all senses, unlike electronic and blackboard learning which are mainly visual and auditory. They break monotony and boredom, and develop camaraderie, and link between resource persons and participants.

This is particularly true to topics of great significance which involve mobilization of the masses such as Saving the Environment, indeed a topic for all ages, races, religions, ideologies, and all walks of life.

Build a bridge between theory and application. Learn the latest and keep abreast. Express your views and listen to the views of others. Give more weight to utilitarian rather than aristocratic education.

Get out of the classroom. Abandon the computer. Trek to where the action is. Get involved. "Be heard, be counted - and share." ~

Living with Nature 3, AVR

Friday, January 15, 2010

Part 1: Paradigms of Moral Life - A Critique- Synthesis

The Annunciation, Angels'Hills, Tagaytay

Abe V Rotor

The six paradigms of good moral life apparently show parallelism with periodicity: man is born at a certain time and place. How can one choose his own paradigm or model of life to lead?

To better appreciate this concept let us first examine this parallelism in the context of history and evolution. Here we also take note of the reasons underlying paradigm shift.

Classical Period (Pre-Vatican)
“What must I do?

The models in this period which dominated the Christian world for centuries are “Noah’s Flood” and “Sodom and Gomorrah”. The salvation of man lies in himself alone let his sinful society perish, if that is the will of God.

Many who have seen or heard “Lakay Lakay,” a figure of an old man and woman off the coast of Ilocos Norte and Cagayan, know it is the local version of this model. Even today sea travelers throw money into the water as their boat passes through the rough waters surrounding it with the hidden fear of biblical Armageddon.

Thus, a sinful people meet a dreadful fate, save he who is good. This is the rule that governed the faithful during this period. Who is considered good? First of all, he who believes in a God who punishes the wicked and rewards the good – typical in the preaching of the early missionaries such as Reverend Hale in James Michener’s novel, “Hawaii.”

The image of woman as the Tempter Eve prevailed, so that sex was considered taboo. The world virtually stood still as the masters feasted on their colonies. With the missionaries they took advantage of the promise that the soul will be freed from the suffering body and reach Heaven, the ultimate reward for living in asceticism.

Eternal is soul, temporal is life. St. Augustine’s thesis, “the city of God and the city of man” haunts at the crossroad. Wrong choice leads to hell. Obedience was the rule and this rule remained unquestioned, save local revolts and tragic protests like those of Diego Silang and Gomburza. The masters stayed too long in their colonies and enraged the people. Soon colonization gave way to the birth of nations. But first, let me present the transitory paradigm during the historical period.

Historical Paradigm
“What do I want to become?”

Enlightenment dawned in this period. Education began to catalyze the acquisition of knowledge among the subjects. “Education is the key to independence,” said Rizal. The so-called Third World countries followed this formula with or without armed revolution. Or it inspired revolution itself. “Noli” and “Fili” inflamed the Katipunan.

Spirituality took several steps down from its pedestal of dogmas to have a “dialogue with the world.” The wheels of time moved faster, the unquestioning subjects soon entered the age of realism. Man, to be good, must realize the unity of body and soul, and the root of spirituality cannot be in the soul alone.

Women, though still looked down by society, began to see opportunities outside the confines of housekeeping. While facing the horizon of self actualization, the road that led the liberated societies was still the long and winding historical road that dictated many of their thoughts and acts. For example, truth is still historical truth. As the old folks would say, “I have eaten more rice that you had.”

But things have changed, particularly to the younger generations. The Sodom and Gomorrah model began to melt, and the concept of sin is no longer one that is indulgence or omission, but “breaking relationships” with God and fellowmen. This means, “We go to Heaven together.” No one reaches heaven alone, how pious he may be.

(Continued)

Part 3: Ecological Paradigm of Salvation - “Why is Mother Earth complaining?”



Abe V Rotor

The prolificacy of the human species sans war and pestilence, plus growing affluence of its societies led to a population explosion, doubling in lass than 50 years. We are now 6 billion. In this paradigm master and subject have joined hands to exploit the earth’s finite resources. Our best economists are the worst housekeepers of Nature. While they aim for the good life, they have unwittingly reduced the very foundation of that good life – the productivity and beauty of Mother Earth.

Ecological paradigm endorses an eco-centric approach where all forms of life and non-life are important to human life. Spirituality points out to a unitive force: the sacredness of everything. Hod’s divinity flows in everything. There is integration in the universe. And we are part of that integration, exceedingly small as we are notwithstanding.

The kind of person we truly are is reflected by our relationship with Mother Earth, how we comply under her treaties. Clearly, biocide is the greatest sin man commits in this period. Long live, Ceres! And Albert Schweitzer and King Solomon must be smiling up there. So with St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of ecology. “Reverence for life,” is the key to this paradigm.

Filipino Paradigm
“Saan and magandang kalooban mo?”

Rip van Winkle is said to have slept for 20 long years, “dahil sa sama ng loob” because he was a henpeck husband. When finally he woke up he was suspected a sply, but later forgiven and accepted back to the fold, because of “kagandahang loob.”

The Filipino, like old Rip, finds spirituality if not through meditation with saints and spirits, and escape from reality and often into his inner self – “loob”. While he is afraid of the “aswang,” he at the same time wishes an “anting-anting” or amulet to fall from heaven. He views the world on the vantage point of “loob,” that life is cyclical: “gulong ng palad.” The other is a simple version of William James’ stream of consciousness, which he uses in expanding his “loob.” Example: “Pagbubu-o ng loob.” “Abot dama.” It is no wonder that the greatest sin one can commit is “pagsira ng loob,” which means destroying the dignity of a person.

There are things he is completely silent about, such as sex. But he will be most proud to talk of his family. Family-centeredness is an extension of “loob.” OFWs send back home their earnings. A private jeepney bears the name of the family which owns it. Houses huddle together in the company of family members and relatives. Thus the send of nationhood is little emphasized. Why globalization when that is too far from “loob.”

(Continued)

Part 4: In Search for Sacredness


AVR as St Peter in a Play, 2009

Dr Abe V Rotor

“Why can’t many people find sacredness anymore?” asked Time in a special issue. Moses asked the same question, puzzled on why his people had turned their worship to a golden calf. Christ released His anger, the first and only instance, when the synagogue was turned into a marketplace.

I remember Alvin Toffler’s books “Future Shock” and “Eco-Spasm”. We are unprepared visitors of a changed planet who broke away too soon with the past. We are willing victims of an accelerated thrust of time and change. We are a people of the future too soon, carried away by the concept of transience and adhocracy, and not one of permanence. We created a throw-away society that we discard many things including values in favor of novelty.

We find little sacredness when we talk in the future tense, of foreign ideologies not founded by enduring philosophies, but of futurism, its promises of choice and kaleidoscopic images. How can we find sacredness in subterranean cities, in modular fun houses, in sprawling mega malls, in mail-a-bride and rent-a-person, in hurry-up welcome, in Batman, in temporary marriages? Welcome to the rental revolution, to simulated environments, the portable playground.

Gone is the homing instinct. Broken is the old family. If we are a product of periodicity, then we are but a drifting lead swept onto the ocean of change. No, we are not. Here we remember the classical period, the anchor against the fallacy of human dreams and ambitions. What caused the downfall of Alexander and Napoleon? Here we remember the historical period. History is the greatest lesson of mankind. He who knows his history does not run and get a stabbing thorn. He who walks sees reality and the beauty of the countryside. We remember liberation theology – it is the catalyst of social justice; the feminist paradigm – it gives wholeness to man-woman relationship; the Filipino paradigm, the quaintness of Filipino life, shy from the world, but full of life’s simplicity as well as flavors, while ecological paradigm is making us move closer to nature.

The Internet Paradigm
Finding God on the Web

The Computer Revolution is touching our faith more openly and deeply now than during the age of Bible Study and Sunday Worship.

The marriage of technology and religion, though an ancient one (starting with the codification of religious belief in cuneiform writing), has gone farther than following Mass on television. It now makes available in the home through the Internet the subject of God in the countless denominations of faith. This leads to the creation of a cathedral in the mind, but what does it look like? Will a worldwide web bind all of us, Christians and Jews, Muslims and Buddhists, together?

Time poses this question with a sense of optimism that opens the door to religious understanding rather than religious isolation and conflict. These electronic exchanges will ultimately help people from many religions understand the common ideas that bind them together.

“One of the causes of religious disagreement has been the sense of strangeness, of pure unfamiliarity,” says Notre Dame philosophy professor, Alvin Plantinga.

The world is about to plunge into a giant pool called globalization where the dividing lines of distinction begin to dissolve: sex, geography, public and private life, status, race, religion, trade, education, culture, many others. Will these end up into a “classless and raceless” society? what paradigm do all these offer for one in order to lead a true moral life?

As I walk on the road of change, I see a faint light from the window of an old house. It gives me comfort, more that all the stars I see above. ~

Light from the Old Arch, AVR

Thursday, January 14, 2010

“Buy books, sir?”

War Remnant Museum, Ho Chi Ming City, Vietnam

“Buy books, sir,” a boy called,
stopping me on my track
to the War Remnant Museum.
“No, no.” My words were cold.

Back in time, the inhumanity of war
unfolded beyond my belief:
barbaric, grotesque, pathetic -
at the end, stood the Yellow Star.

It is the star of David I saw indeed
Goliath met his fate once more,
his sword broken, his armor rusted,
another lesson of man’s greed.

“Buy books, sir.” The boy was back.
Before leaving the sacred compound,
I read Iraq and Afghanistan.
What is it that we humans lack? ~

Light from the Old Arch 2, AVR

Society in Art

Paintings, Life in Vietnam, Ho Chi Ming City, Vietnam


Aristocrat, bourgeois, proletariat -

a postulate of equality,
Marxist and Leninist philosophy -
a make-believe classless society,
inspired by the promise of heaven,
imprimatur of theology;
abstracted by art,
a distorted reality -
through beauty.

Light from the Old Arch, AVR

Cathedral

Cathedral, Ho Chi Ming City

Abe V Rotor

A cathedral – but where is its door?
A barred gate, heavy lock at the rear,
Forbidden view the eyes couldn’t tour,
Footsteps only radar could hear.

That was before; the war is over now.
I knocked at the door. A kindly nun
Let me in and showed me all around.
Through the stained glass, I saw the sun.

Into the Crypt I dared not tread,
My shoes dusty, I was in slack,
Yet I dared to ask from the dead
And the martyrs the courage I lack.

Between two guards I pass,
Walk the aisle to the altar
To hear the Holy Mass
I hear the heavy doors close.
How deep is my faith?
I did not look behind.~

Light from the Old Arch 2, AVR

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Papait, Kalunay, Ngalog...dagiti atap a mulmula a mabalin a kanen wenno sidaen.

Wild ampalaya, eggplant, native patani and alukong (himbaba-o)

Ngalog or Portulaca


Dampalit

Talinum


Some Wild Food Plants

Abe V Rotor

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
NOTE: There are 2,500 world languages that are endangered, principally because of expanding aculturation and globalization.


Fortunately Ilocano has remained vigorous and progressive. This is principally because of one distinct trait of the Ilocano - his loyalty to his language, and pride he carries with it as Ilocano. He carries it across the oceans and plant it in the community in which he is integrated. He is so regionalistic that he influences people around him, more than the other way around.


No only that, Ilokano is integrated with culture like horse and carriage. No language can best describe pinakbet, basi, Biag ni Lam-ang, Angalo, Apo Lakay, and a thousand-and-one indigenous terms that describe native practices and beliefs, historical places and events, heritage and values of this proud regional race.


This article and other articles in Ilokano which I wrote in this blog were inspired by Dr Nicholas L. Rosal, author of Understanding an Exotic Language - Ilokano (1982). His work explores the significance of the syntactical structures and grammatical forms of Ilokano, a language spoken by (more than) three million Filipinos and recognized among the eight Philippine languages amidst eighty-some dialects. I had the opportunity to visit Dr. Rosal many years ago in his residence in New Jersey where he and his family reside. Dr. Rosal taught graduate education courses at Seton Hall University, and became director of the Perth Amboy Adult Bilingual High School, one of its kind in New Jersey and elsewhere in the world.


I invite the Ilocano reader to interpret this article and share it with fellow Ilocanos and non-Ilocanos as well.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------


Adu dagiti atap a mulmula a mabalin a kanen wenno sidaen. Ammo da apongtayo daytoy.


Ti saluyot (Corchorus olitorius), gagangay laengen ta saanen a kas idi a dagiti laeng agtubo iti babaet dagiti mula a tarong ken kamatis ti tarayen a kettelen. Ita, addan dagiti agmulmula iti ilakoda.


Adda met dagiti mabalin a kanen a ganggannaet iti imatang wenno di ammo a kanen ti adu kadatayo ita. Kas pagarigan, ti nami (Dioscorea hispida) wenno karut. Makasabidong daytoy ngem ammo dagidi apongtayo nga ikkaten ti sabidongna sa lutuen (salapusopan) a kanenda.


Idi met panawen ti Maikadua a Gubat, napilitan dagiti tattao a mangan kadagiti dati a dida kankanen a kas iti bunel ti saba (nangruna ti balayang) ken magey tapno mapedped ti bisinda. Adda met dagiti mangmangan iti bunel ti wild taro wenno aba a paminduaenna ti tayag ti tao ti tayagan dagiti lupakna. Pispisienda daytoy sa lingtaenda iti mabayag tapno di makaulaw.


Kadagupan dagiti atap a mula a mabalin a kanen, adun ti dandani maungaw. Maigapu daytoy iti panangipamaysatayo iti panagpatanor kadagiti mula a gagangayen nga am-ammo dagiti aggatgatang, dagiti nakairuamanen ti dilatayo ti ramanda.


Ita, aglatlatak manen dagiti makmakan a kunkunada nga organic—saan laeng a ditoy Filipinas, no di pay ket iti ballasiw-taaw a kas idiay America— adu manen ti maibaw-ing ti imatangna kadagitoy a naipakpakanigid a mula. Kayat ngamin a liklikan ita dagiti tattao dagiti makmakan a narnek iti abuno ken pasuyot iti pestisidio, wenno dagiti mula a kunada a GMO (genetically modified organism).


Isu a makitkita manen kadagiti tiendaan dagiti lako a ngalog (Portulaca), dampalit, katuday, papait, kalunay wenno kuantong, balleba wenno ballaiba (Vallisneria), tartarabang, talinum, alugbati, kumpitis, rosil, gulasiman, atap a paria wenno ti aw-awaganda iti simmaron, ken alukon. Adda payen aglako iti bunga ti singkamas. Awan met ngata ti makitkitayo a mapaspasuyotan iti insektisidio a bunga ti singkamas, ania?


* * *
Okeyka, Apong!
Dagiti Tawid a Sirib ken Adal
Column of Dr Abercio Valdez Rotor, Ph.D.
Bannawag Magazine