Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Season is a Season of Homecoming: Home, Sweet Home

Dr be V Rotor
This article is dedicated to the Filipino balikbayan and all returnees from work and domicile all over the world. Christmas Season is a Season of Homecoming.

Home, Sweet Home, painting by AV Rotor

By Abe V Rotor


In the movie, The King and I, Anna the English teacher sang Home Sweet Home, an endearing song when thousands of Europeans left home in search of a new one at the other side of the globe. They became pioneers in the New World, which was to become the United States of America. Others found the Orient, and for Teacher Anna, it was a special arrangement for her to serve the King of Siam (Thailand) as tutor to his children.

To us Filipinos, the song stirs the heart as well. Thousands leave their native land, their homes and families in search for opportunities as Overseas Filipino Workers, and migrants, many of them never to return, except on brief sojourn in the country of their birth.

I found a complete musical piece arranged for the violin and piano in an old wooden chest (baol) containing personal belongings of my late mother. I was told by my father that it was her favorite piano piece. I can only guess why. Many homes were destroyed and families separated during the second world war. Ours was one of them.

Today, Home, Sweet Home, is our family's treasured musical composition. My daughter Anna would accompany me on the piano as I played the violin. There were occasions we played together in school programs, carrying the message that there is no place like home. My wife Cecille and our younger son Leo Carlo have their share on a weekend, playing related compositions like The Last Rose of Summer, Life Let's Cherish, The Harp that Once through Tara's Hall. They make a wholesome package of what a happy home is.

On one occasion this current year President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was guest of the UST Graduate School, honoring her father, the late President Diosdado Macapagal as former member of the faculty and alumnus of the university. As Anna and I were playing the musical piece during the cocktail, President Gloria momentarily left the group and came near us playing. I nodded to acknowledge her. So did Anna. She was smiling at us while intently listening, particularly to the theme part of the four-variation version of Henry Farmer. Indeed it was a great honor on our part.

Not to be home for Christmas for one reason or another must be a lonely, if not painful, experience. I take this opportunity to thank again our ardent listener, and may she realize what many of us simply take for granted - to be in ones Home, Sweet Home.

Home Sweet Home
By John Howard Payne
Music by Henry Rowley Bishop (1786-1855)
(Arranged for the violin and piano by Henry Farmer)


‘Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,
Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home;
A charm from the sky seems to hallow us there,
Which seek through the world, is ne’er met with elsewhere.
Home, Home, sweet, sweet Home!

An exile from home, splendor dazzles in vain;
O, give me my lowly thatched cottage again!
The birds singingly gaily, that came to my call –
Give me them – and the peace of mind, dearer than all.
Home, Home sweet, sweet Home.
There’s no place like Home! There’s no place like Home!

One of the lessons I discussed on the school-on-air program - Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid - is about home and family. It was one of the liveliest lessons. There were as many callers as there were definitions of a home. Here is a short list.


1. Home is a roof for everyone, residents and guests.
2. Home is a wall with large windows that let the sun and the breeze in.
3. Home is where fish in the aquarium sparkle in the morning’s sun.
4. Home is a baby smiling, of children playing.
5. Home is a faithful husband and wife.
6. Home is a “place for everything and everything in its place,” but not always.
7. Home is dad and mom waiting for us from school.
8. Home is a workshop for hobbies and inventions.
9. Home is where our dog lies on the doormat waiting for its master.
10. Home is a litter of puppies and kittens.
11. Home is a rooster crowing, nature’s alarm clock.
12. Home is a house lizard’s crispy announcement of a guest coming.
13. Home is a frog croaking in the rain.
14. Home is a safari of wildlife – from insects to migratory birds.
15. Home is a warm embrace of a cat.
16. Home is a cup of coffee, a sip of wine, a newspaper.
17. Home is a warm bath, a cold shower, a bath tub.
18. Home is National Geographic, Time Magazine, Daily Inquirer.
19. Home is ripe tomato, succulent radish, dangling stringbeans,
20. Home is a brooding mother hen in her nest.
21. Home is fresh eggs everyday.
22. Home is the sound of birds and crickets.
23. Home is the sweet smell of flowers, falling leaves, swaying branches in the wind.
24. Home is the sweet smell of the earth after the first rain in May.
25. Home is a singing cicada in the tree.
26. Home is a swarming of gamugamo in the evening.
27. Home is a sala too small for so many friends.
28. Home is a cabinet of books, a study table, a computer.
29. Home is Beethoven, Mozart, Abelardo, Santiago.
30. Home is Charlotte Church, Josh Groban, Sharon Cuneta.
31. Home is Amorsolo. Picasso, Van Gogh.
32. Home is potpourri of appetizing recipes, of the proverbial grandmother apple pie.
33. Home is pinakbet, lechon, karekare, suman, bibingka.
34. Home is a garden of roses, a grass lawn to lie on.
35. Home is an herbarium of plants, a gene bank.
36. Home is home for biodiversity, a living museum.
37. Home is doing repair that has no end.
38. Home is disposing old newspapers, bottles, metal scraps, used clothes.
39. Home is a midnight candle before an exam.
40. Home is a shoulder, a pillow, to cry on.
41. Home is Noche Buena.
42. Home is fireworks on New Year.
43. Home is general cleaning on weekends.
44. Home is a soft bed that soothes tired nerves and muscles.
45. Home is a fire place, a hearth, which takes the cold out of the body and spirit.
46. Home is a Prodigal Son returning, Good Samaritan.
47. Home is a round table where thanksgiving prayer is said.
48. Home is laughter and music, prose and poetry.
49. Home is forgiving, rejoicing, celebrating.
50. Home is angelus and rosary hour.

A grandmother takes care of her grandchildren while their
parents work in Manila or abroad. Iba, Zambales

To sum it all, Home is Home Sweet Home.



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