Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Panacea from Doctrine of Signatures

Dr Abe V Rotor

Living with Nature School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School on Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB 8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday

Panacea from steeped reptiles and herbals
in high proof wine, Ho Chi Min City, Vietnam.

The Doctrine of Signature was popular in Medieval Times or the Dark Ages. This is used in folk medicine even today. Snakes will make you aggressive, its poison will shield your body from disease, harm and extreme weather conditions. Cobra is a popular brand of products claimed to restore health. Rhino horn is elixir, it hardens your muscles and extremities. Liverwort (a bryophyte, relative of the moss) cures liver ailment. Ginseng root resembling a nude is aphrodisiac.

I can imagine how lizards and spiders transfer their power to man. I wonder if we get the agility of sharks and eels by eating a lot of them.

Then there is the belief of maternal impressions - pinaglihi-an. We can't explain the origin of looks and abnormalities through maternal impressions as we cannot scientifically attribute well-being to parallelism.

Both Belief in Maternal Impressions and Doctrine of Signatures have long been discarded by modern medicine and science. If however, there are testimonies to the contrary - there are other factors responsible, among them is faith. Faith is the fountain of hope, respect, self-esteem, and reverence to a Higher Principle. ~

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Sungka - Asia's Friendly Feudal Game

Sungka - Asia's Friendly Feudal Game 
Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School on Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB 8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday

Sungka (pronounced SOONG-kah) is a game played on a solid wooden block with two rows of seven circular holes and two large holes at both ends called "head". This game is called mancala in the US. It is also known as "count and capture" or "sowing game" in English. The latter moniker is because seeds are sometimes used instead of shells or stones. Filipinos ordinarily use cowrie shells. 

Sungka, a favorite family game in the 
Philippines and Asian countries 

The Language of Sungka 

If you can't hold but vent your ire,
and wish your opponent harm
by fire, quagmire, and death,
and surprise him to disarm,

If you are seeking a battle  
in silence, save the clicking
of cowries in the lazy air,
whatever means of winning 

By the sleight of the hand,
or distract your enemy,
surreptitiously skipping
traps by hiding a cowrie.

If you play the ruthless Nero
while Rome is burning;
and your opponent raids 
the bounty you're keeping,

In words unpleasant, unkind,
yet devoid of real meaning 
in incessant exchange.
either winning or losing.

Winner and  loser come to terms  
in sweet notes that friends remain,
and peace reigns once again -
play of the sungka game.    
                                  Sungka, another indigenous invention, Calatagan, Batangas
Rules in playing sungka 
1. The game begins with 49 game pieces (shells, marbles, pebbles or seeds) equally distributed to alternate holes - seven pieces in every other hole - except "heads" which remain empty. Sungka requires two players. Each player controls the seven holes on his side of the board and owns the "head" to his right. The goal is to accumulate as many pieces in your own "head".

2. The first player removes all pieces from the hole on the extreme left of on his side. He then distributes them anti-clockwise --- one in each hole to the right of that hole --- omitting an opponent's "head" but not a player's own "head".

3. If the last piece falls into an occupied hole then all the pieces are removed from that hole, and are distributed in the same way (to the right of that hole) in another round. This player's (current) turn ends when the last piece falls into an empty hole on the opponent's side.

4. If the last piece distributed falls into a player's own "head," then  the player earns another turn, which can begin at any of the seven holes on his side.

5. If the last piece distributed falls into an empty hole on his side, then the player captures all the pieces in the hole directly across from this one, on the opponent's side and put them (plus the last piece distributed) in his own "head". If the opposing hole is empty, no pieces are captured..

6. The other player chooses which hole he wishes to start from, removes the pieces and distributes them - one in each hole to the right of that chosen hole. If a player has no pieces on his side of the board when it is his turn, then he must pass.

7. The game ends when no pieces are left in any hole on both sides of the board. The players now count the number of pieces in their own "head" and see who has won.

This game (with variations) is also played in other Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia where it is known as "Congkak."

(Acknowledgment: Internet - ASEAN/Philippines Sungka, on rules of game)

Parable of the Five Trees - Folk Wisdom for Growing Up (Lagro-Laha Summer Workshop Lesson No 13A)

A Lesson on the Parable as a form of short story to convey a moral theme
Dr Abe V Rotor 

Living with Nature School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School on Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB 8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday
 Parable of the Five Trees in Acrylic by AVR

Trees, like humans, also talk. They talk to one another everyday.

Actually the breeze passing through their leaves carry their conversations and even their songs and messages.

Only that we do not understand what they are saying, so we can only make inferences. For example, the rustling of their leaves and their outstretched branches touching one another, or some trees leaning to get close to others undoubtedly vouch this belief to the level of phenomenon.

The communication of trees runs through a network that enhances the unity and harmony of the ecosystem they form. Sometimes this kind of communication is perceived as queer, unintelligible sounds which made our ancestors believe there are spirits guarding the place like the deity Maria Makiling guarding the forest that is named after her.

Old folks advise us trespassers just to utter reverently "Bari-bari... Or tabi-tabi, po." when going through the forest or thicket.

One day five juvenile narra trees were engaged in a conversation.

Said one, "When I grow up and reach my fate to be cut down, I wish that I be made into a beautiful bed fit only for a king or queen."

The four trees began to have their own wishes, too.

Said the second narra, "I would like to be the mast of the tallest ship that travels fast and wide on the ocean."

Said the third, "I will make a fort, a strong fort, no invader can break through."

The fourth narra tree took some time to think, then said, "I'll be a tower to hold a big bell."

The fifth was the last to speak, but not outwitted. "Oh, in my case I would like to give all my wood to make the biggest temple of worship."

Years and years passed, and the trees finally reached full maturity. The woodsmen came and cut them down.

Guess what happened to the trees. Did all their wishes come true?

The first tree did not become a beautiful bed, but only a manger, actually a feeding trough in a secluded barn.

The second tree did not become part of a tall ship; it was made into a simple boat.

The third tree was not made into a strong fort, only a stem of it the size of a pencil and  became a writing tool of sort.

The fourth tree was not made into a belfry, but just one branch of it was made into a fine shepherd's crook.

The fifth tree failed to provide materials to build the largest temple of worship; two limbs were made into a cross.

So when Christ came into this world, he was born on a manger. It was comfortable enough on a wintry night?

When He became a shepherd, He looked for a crook and found a sturdy one to tend His flock of sheep.

As a Preacher He rode on a dinghy on which he delivered his sermons and told parables before the throng along the shores of Galilee.

When people were about to stone a sinner to death, He took a stick and wrote something on the ground, and on rising said, "He who has no sin cast the first stone." No one did.

Alas! When Christ was condemned to die, He carried a wooden cross and on it he was crucified. The cross became the symbol of Christianity.

When I went on a pilgrimage to the part of the forest where the five trees once grew, I found nothing but grass. There was complete silence as a beam of light from the sky shone on the spot where I stood. ~      

                   Reflection on the Parable of the Five Trees
Lofty are my dreams soaring far and wide,
     In boundless flight to nowhere;
in pursuit of wealth, power and pleasure,
     and confidence of a conqueror.

Blind of history, even as it repeats itself,
     In short-lived fame and fortune,
Yet models it presents to my ambitions
     In glitters, glory and grandeur.

All In youth’s craving, and craving still
     To believe dreams ne’er get old;
But time takes toll in dreams unfulfilled,
     And fate the judgment on earth.

Beyond lies a second kingdom few
     Can grasp – life’s real meaning;
Life’s purpose, stirrings of the soul
     To live in others, beyond the self.

How little do I know of the Fisherman,
     Born simple, preached love,
wrote justice, searched the lost lamb,
    died that humanity may live. ~
                                                                avrotor 2013

Kapre! - Writing Short Story: Folk Wisdom for Growing Up Summer Workshop Lesson

Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School on Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB 8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday.

Balete has overgrown a church ruin in Magsingal, Ilocos Sur, a favorite playground for kids. Who says a kapre lives here?

“Did you hear that?” I was startled by a mysterious moaning in the dark. I switched on the headlight.
“What is it?” Cecille sleepily responded.

“It’s a strange sound, like someone agonizing.” I said while straining my eyes on the sugarcane fields on both sides of the road.
We had just parked along a newly opened road of the North Diversion somewhere in Tarlac that night. My wife and I were driving to Manila after a vacation in our hometown in Ilocos. I was so tired driving, I pulled our Ford Escort to the grass lane for a brief rest, and switched off the engine.
Then. “Did you hear that?” Cecille shook me. It was the same agonizing sound I heard earlier, and it was coming closer!
I switched on the headlight, and there stood at the opposite side of the road a tall figure the outline of the Colossus of Rhodes – black and hairy, so huge I could barely see his torso.
Instinctively I started the engine and stepped on the gas. Cecille moved close to me as the monster took another step toward us. We escaped in the nick of time.

Since then I became popular with children. “Tell us about the kapre!” And they would gather around clinging to one another. It reminded me of Lola Basiang, the story teller of folklores and legends.

My story became known to my friends and officemates  It was the cause of a meeting suddenly losing its agenda to the kapre. Everyone had something to say about the mythical monster. They talked about kapre living atop big old trees, along rivers and somewhere else. One related his experience while clearing the vines clinging around a large tree when suddenly he noticed blood dripping from above. He looked up. Kapre!

Old folks say there are different kinds of kapre. There is even one taking over abandoned houses and empty buildings. There is kapre in empty playgrounds, farms and pastures. Kapre in gambling places, like the cockpit, kapre appearing suddenly in a group picture.

Since then we didn’t have to stay in office late. We had to finish our work early so we would not be taking the stairway that is seldom used, or hear typewriters clicking when everyone had already left. We won’t be passing dark alleys on our way home.

Children who heard the story of the kapre would stop playing at dusk. The farmer looks at the leaves of acacia, and when they start drooping, starts walking for home. Everyone in the family must be home for supper.

Because of the kapre, trees are spared of the ruthless chain saw. People passing through thickets politely whisper, “tabi tabi, po.” Fishermen catch just enough fish for their family’s need. Harvest festivals are observed even if harvest is not good.

Indeed there are different kinds of kapre. And they abound everywhere.

When I was buying a new battery for my car and told the salesman how I encountered a kapre one dark night, he handed me a new brand of battery. “Sir, nakakasiguro kayo sa bateryang ito.” (Sir, you can surely depend on this battery.)~

La Golondrina, the Grandest Kite, A Lesson on Short Story Writing - Folk Wisdom for Growing Up (Lagro-Laha Summer Workshop Lesson 13)

Dr Abe V Rotor

Living with Nature School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School on Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM 8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday.

Flying Kites in acrylic, AVR 2002

Kites have always fascinated me ever since I was a child.  And I found out that the most beautiful of them all is La Golondrina, the swallow.

Thanks to Manong Bansiong, nephew of Basang my auntie-yaya. He made the most beautiful and the biggest kite in town. Remote and small a town San Vicente is, we had the reputation in the neighboring towns for our best kites, pieces of furniture and wooden saints.

Manong Bansiong made different kites: sinang gola, agila, kayyang,  – in the likes of a bull, a bird with outstretched wings, or a maiden in colorful, flowing dress.  He had many other designs. His kites were known for their strength, stability, beauty, and agility. In competitions his kites always won. And we kids in our time regarded him our hero. That’s why he was the most popular person in town come kite flying season when the grains in the field turn golden in the sun and the cold wind from the north starts blowing.

It’s hard to wait when you anticipate something exciting. You wish it were  happening today. “It’s now burr…,” we would jokingly refer to the “ber” months, when the Siberian cold wind begins to be felt.  It is the north wind that flies our kites.  Kids that we were, insisted that kite flying starts as early in September.

But our folks would say rice harvest will not be good if kites are flown before the grains are full. They got angry at us for not heeding them.  Of course old folks are superstitious. But in college I learned that it’s not the kite that causes poor harvest; it is the early arrival of amihan.  Dry and cool wind affects the setting of grains, and prevents rain to fall.

“Can you make me a La Golondrina?” I found myself asking Manong Bansiong one afternoon.

Without being asked, I described my subject with the confidence of a story teller. The master of the art just nodded as if he knew everything, and he did not interrupt me. Real experts, like good teachers are like that; they give chance to amateurs to say their piece.  

La Golondrina has a slender streamlined body, and long pointed wings, which allow great maneuverability and endurance, as well as easy gliding. Her body shape allows efficient flight. Her wings have nine primary feathers each, while the tail has twelve feathers and may be deeply forked, somewhat indented. And with a sweeping hand I demonstrated how long the tail feathers are.  “Yes, the tail increases maneuverability, and serves as adornment.” Manong Bansiong added. 

As a child, I love to watch swallows in flight. And there is something special about them because I discovered their nesting ground in Caniao, a  watershed on the Western slopes of the Cordillera range that feed the wells and springs, fill the ponds and make the streams flow, and waterfalls tumble down  into the Banaoang River. I saw the birds comb the surface of the water for flying insects, or just for sheer fun gliding along this meandering river that flows like a huge serpent into the vast South China Sea. 

But Caniao had a more practical significance; it was the source of free flowing water from the faucet, even with the distance of some thirty kilometers way from the reservoir. So abundant was water that our gardens and backyards were always green throughout the year. Our wells never dried up.

Even in summer it was convenient to fetch water by hand or by a makeshift lever made of bamboo, we called babatwagan, to draw out water from the well.  In the rainy season, ground water overflows and merge with the stream and low lying fields, and sometimes, fish are lured into these wells and get trapped. That explains the presence of the  bulan-bulan fish, a local relative of the aruwana,  in some wells.  It is a fish that grows to nearly a meter long and makes the well its home until it dies some years later.   

Oh, what a beautiful sight when you look into the well at midday.  And at night when the moon is directly shining above you can see the moon and the fish together in the dark bottom of the well. This is how the fish got its name. And old folks said the water is kept clean and sweet by the bulan-bulan.  I learned later in college this is true because the fish feed on morsels and insects falling into the well.  It also checks the growth algae and plankton, thus maintaining a favorable level of dissolved oxygen.

If I were to ask Manong Bansiong another kite to make, surely it would be a bulan-bulan. I could imagine it swimming in the sky. And what a perfect pair with the quarter moon!      

But the swallow was my dream kite.

Swallows roost on big trees in Caniao and one particular bird came up close and posed to us picnickers. She seemed unafraid and even sang a beautiful melody. I was reminded of my first musical piece in violin, La Golondrina.  It’s a plaintive musical piece which if you close your eyes while playing it, the swallows come by flock, the bird presenting themselves singly or in groups circling, rising and falling seemingly defying gravity.  They split the rays of the sun into rainbow, their wings acting as a prism. I liked to hear their melodious calls, neither sonorous nor rough, which is just perfect on the higher octave on the violin.  And the cadence goes with long stroke of the bow.   

I stalked to have a good look at the singer as one would like to get close to the characters on stage, but on sensing my closeness, she took off into the sky and soared like a kite in the wind. How swift, how graceful and agile she flew as if she commanded the wind, and not the other way around.  

I compared La Golondrina with the kites I have seen in our place. There is the dragon that looks fierce and moves stealthily before striking.  There is the eagle that is too common to most of us kids; we used to figure on one side of the dollar and Philippine peso. A castle kite is not supposed to move around and should remain fixed in the sky; a sudden gust of wind can cause it fall like a castle under siege. A lady kite finds dancing difficult in strong wind, and would easily fall down when the wind momentarily stops.  A clown kite cannot make tricks, and change its expressions as a real clown does.      

But my La Golondrina is versatile; she could soar up and down like a jet plane with the least effort, then turns sideways, repeating the same as if she were performing on a stage.  But how could one look beautiful while struggling vainly for freedom. But I would say she was just courting the viewer to train his sight to a place only she could tell – somewhere too far and too high. 

Actually La Golondrina is a difficult design of a kite to make. But Manong Basiong was a real expert. He won’t back out at any kind of kite especially if it were intended for a contest. And he always wanted his kites to win.

“When will the contest be?” He asked me in our dialect.

With that statement and a kindly smile I knew Manong Bansiong would make my La Golondrina.

“Yehay!” I could not help keep it a secret and soon everyone in town came to know of my secret and began anticipating the big event.

The day of the contest came. There were many kites from our town and nearby towns. Vigan, the capital of the province had the most entries and the biggest kites at that. As we expected these kites resembling airplanes, eagles and dragons, were huge and colorful at that, and soon they were dominating the sky. But my confidence did not sag. I looked at Manong Bansiong. He nodded with confidence.

Our turn came. La Golondrina appeared unique. She was not really very big. All eyes were on her now. I asked my brother Eugene to help me carry her across the field while Manong Bansiong loosened  the string.

“Farther … some more,” he signaled. “Stop.” He held the string, paused, looked around, and whistled a few notes. It is a technique in kite flying. Release the kite at the moment a strong breeze comes. We waited for the precious wind.

Then it came. It was a gust of wind that came all the way from the North. It is the wind of amihan, the season we harvest our rice crop, when farmers build haystacks (mandala) that look like giant mushrooms dotting the landscape. Mandala and kite with golden fields at the background makes a favorite subject in painting landscapes.  Rural landscape is the favorite subject of our own national artist, Fernando Amorsolo, whose masterpieces of rustic scenes could rival those of impressionist Vincent van Gogh, classical Rembrandt and Corot, and the romantic Millet. Many local stages or entablado have backdrops of such rural scenes. And many zarzuelas were presented during town fiestas with this background.  Kite flying was also a season to catch dalag, hito, ar-aro trapped in receding ponds and basins of ricefields where we played kites. And we had slingshots to target maya birds that are pest to standing crops and to the mandala.

“Steady now,” Manong Bansiong shouted, and Eugene and I raised La Golondrina and held it there. We held our breath, and waited for the signal.  “Now!”

La Golondrina took off strong and determined.  She soared above our heads, above the nearby trees, above the church steeple. Our town mates, gang mates and classmates rallied. They followed her ascent, and clapped, coaching her to the top of their voices. “Up, up. Go up some more! More! More!” She mingled with the other kites, bowing here and there, sometimes flying close to the dragon or eagle, or to the airplane kite bowing in some kind of greeting.

Manong Bansiong let the string glide on his hand, making a crispy whistling sound as our kite continued to rise. The wind favored her flight.  Now it was higher than any other kite. It appeared the smallest of them, and one won’t be able to recognize her if he did not see her first on the ground. Beyond the horizon, stood like a wall the blue-green Cordillera range, the home of this beautiful bird.  I could estimate the direction where Caniao possibly lay.  It was right straight to where the wind was blowing.

La Golondrina hovered steadily like a duchess in the blue sky. I wondered at how she looked at us down below. I just imagined we were also just specks on the ground, and if my T-shirt were not red, she would not be able to distinguish me from the spectators.

Then the unexpected happened. The string broke! La Golondrina was adrift.

She was flying free, and there was not indication she was coming down. Instead, she went farther up, riding on the updraft that joined the wind blowing from the sea to the mountains. Everyone fell silent. All eyes were focused on her, winking from glare. Soon it was but a dot in the sky. La Golondrina was lost.

Manong Bansiong rolled the remaining string back into its string cage. “She didn’t get much string.” He muttered.

My first impulse was to run to where she would most likely land. “No,” he said, catching me on the shoulder.  I was left alone.  All the kids had joined the chase.

I remained dumbfounded, agape at the wide, wide sky. Time stood still. There was a deafening silence. Nothing seemed to move. Not even the other kites in the sky. 

La Golondrina was swallowed up by clouds heading for the mountains, as it often does in October, momentarily becoming part of its top like a veil or a blanket. During amihan the cloud is high, a characteristic of stratus clouds  because of the cool and dry wind that carries it.  It is the wind on which migrating birds from the North ride on as they go down South.  It is in summer when they return. But for birds of La Golondrina’s kind, it is time to go home to nest and to rear their young. Here new flocks are built, old flocks grow in size, or flocks simply merged.

With that thought, I said, “She’s going home.”

Manong Bansiong nodded in submission to the fate of his master craft. He was sad; I could see his eyes moist.  Eugene had just come back panting, brushing away weeds and dusts, nurturing some scratches and cuts. He had given up the chase together with our gang mates, and those who knew something about kite flying. Everyone talked about how they crossed the fields, climbed over fences, forge streams and even climbed trees to get better view of the route of the lost kite.

But no one knew where exactly had La Golondrina landed. We soon forgot all about the contest as we sadly prepared to go home. The plaza was empty now. It was already dark.

That night I dreamt I found La Golondrina in Caniao, hanging on a dead branch where I once saw her as a bird. She was all in tatters now.  But she was still as restless as the wind, the wind that made her alive in the sky.  How different she was from the once beautiful and dainty kite La Golondrina. But at least she had reached home at last, so I thought.

I found the spring had dried up. The stream had shrunk into a rivulet, painfully skirting the rocks and levees downstream. The stones were no longer living, because they were no longer green with algae and moss. There were no more rock pools on which a Narcissus would look at all day.  There was no Pierian Spring anymore, and the Sylphids were no longer around.  

Nor was the mountain green, and blue in the distance. The view below spread out clear and empty, orphaned from the watershed.  There were now farms and huts over the landscape from which smoke rose to meet the setting sun. 

I waited for the beautiful song I once heard.  There was none. In the  stillness of the coming dusk, the sweep of the wind on the cogon grass made   an eerie sound.

Manong Bansiong did not make kites anymore since then. He died when I was in Manila studying.  A simple cross was all that marked his grave, and weeds were growing around it.  I plucked one that had a beautiful flower.  If he were still alive I would ask him, “Can you make a weed flower kite?”

I plucked the petals one by one, reliving the memory of a great kite maker.

Times changed. Kites are now an endangered art. Kids are more interested with other playthings. They have remote controlled toys and other electronic gadgets. They would rather stay indoors and watch TV and play Computer games for hours into the wee hours. The young generation appears to be more serious in their studies than we were then. They seldom go out to the fields. Rivers and forests are full of danger. No, their parents won’t allow them to go to these places. And where have the forests and rivers gone in the first place? 

Many children moved with their parents to the city, and more and more children are born there. Forget flying kites.  Not even in open spaces; it is too dangerous.

It consoles me to see a kite flying around, whether it is made of simple T-frame or plastic. Or one made in China. How different are kites today from the kites we had before.

When I reached the age Manong Bansiong was as kite maker, I also found joy in making kites for children. I am not as good as my mentor though. One time Leo Carlo, my youngest son, was taking part in a kite flying competition at the University of Santo Tomas.  He asked, “Can you help me make a kite, papa?”

I felt young all of a sudden.  The child in me I realized is alive. I recalled The Little Prince novel of Antoine de Saint Exupery’.  I was lost in the desert and I found a little prince – the child in me, innocent, idealistic, fearless and true to the world. He made me survive the ordeals in the desert of life.

So, Leo Carlo and I -  were me and Manang Bansiong then – fifty years ago. 

Oh, how time flies, we say, and it seems it was only yesterday.   
I helped my son re-create La Golondrina. The craft is still fresh in my mind and I was able to trace it easily step by step in making a replica of a lost thing.  When you have lost a thing you really love, it’s not easy to forget it.  And to forget it would lose the essence of that love itself.  It is memory that bridges love, a mentor with his pupil, like the great Greek philosophers.  The kite made a bridge for Leo Carlo, my son and me, his generation and mine.   

Leo Carlo carried his kite proudly among other kites, many of them – the dragon, the dancing lady, the castle, the airplane – and dashed across the football field with Marlo, his brother assisting him. And I, at the other end, held the string. We waited for the old friendly wind.

 Kite flying winning team led by Leo Carlo (right) UST 2006

Then it came, it came all the way from the North, and La Golondrina rode on it proud and dainty, resurrecting through time and space, flew above our heads, above the trees, above the grandstand, above the chapel and the tall buildings, and up into the blue sky.

I saw Caniao at the back of my mind, its water full and flowing.  Below is the meandering Banaoang River reaching out to the sea, and in the distance lies the blue green Cordillera.  There is a familiar tree, on its branch sat a beautiful bird. ~

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Photo Study of Maria Makiling in Summer

Dr Abe V Rotor
Maria Makiling profile, view from Pansol, Calamba , Laguna 
Reclining Maria Makiling profile on SLEX. 
Maria Makiling profile, lower half,  highway view at Calamba, Laguna 
Settlements and farms have invaded the lower slopes
Rain cloud combs the deity's profile, instead of veiling her to hide her aging landscape. 
Haze returns in the afternoon with the promise of rain as May approaches.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Blue Pond

The Blue Pond
Dr Abe V Rotor

The Blue Pond in acrylic (48" X 36") by AVR, UST Publishing House

It's summer here, 
yet autumn, 
leaves golden 
before they fall    
into litter, 

or drift 
on the pond 
blue as the sky;
all seasons 
come as one.

in Vivaldi's baroque
Four Seasons, 
Monet's fading light
and Van Gogh's
unmixed colors -

it's summer here
yet spring, 
fresh as blue ice
in winter 
to the eyes.

It's autumn,
and summer again
in the heart
with the brush
at hand. ~

Leaf Skeleton

Dr Abe V Rotor
Leaf Skeleton in acrylic, AVR 2013

The forest litter, layer after layer,
leaves fall, year after year;
for the earthworms, and the fungi 
and rain from heaven high.

Imprints of time, imprints of life,
footprints of passersby;
but neither the past nor future,
shall any living thing defy. 

life goes on, and on, ad infinitum
to hereafter unknown. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Child in a boat conquers the world

Folk Wisdom for Growing Up Summer Workshop for Children (Lagro-Laha)

Folk Wisdom for Growing Up Summer Workshop for Children (Lagro-Laha)
Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog [avrotor.blogspot.com]
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid  People's School on Air)with Ms Melly C Tenorio, 738 DZRB AM, 8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday 

  Features of the Summer Workshop
April 17  – May 13, 2013

1. Summer workshop for children of school age - 7 to 12

2. Recommended and sponsored by officers of Lagro homeowners Association

3. Class size: 25 to 30, preferably of equal gender

4. Venue and facilities: Laha Conference Hall, with working tables, blackboard,
proper ventilation. (Multi media and sound system, optional)

5. Attendance: ten sessions, three hours each, thrice a week; in addition  field trip, exhibition of selected works, and graduation.

6. Class rules: same as in school, on grooming, attendance, performance

7. Recognition: Grading and ranking, citations, exhibit award.

8. Lessons in 6 parts or chapters (list below).

9. Teaching method: Lecture-demo, hands-on, team work, field lecture,
tutoring if needed.

10. Broadcast Link: 738 DZRB Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid, 8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday

11. Internet Link: avrotor.blogspot.com Living with Nature, School on Blog

12. Accreditation: Certificate of participation, UST Faculty of Arts & Letters faculty outreach program

13. Field lecture and on-the spot painting: La Mesa Eco Park

14. Special project: Exhibit of selected work, and graduation

15. Cooperating organizations: LAHA, LGU, UST, others

MWF 8 to11 AM, April 17 start of classes



Children come every Sunday afternoon to the house in Lagro. At first there were six, then two dozens -  children ages 7 to 13 years from the neighborhood. They call me Lolo Abe, their mentor.

They are in the grades and in high school and they are intelligent. And they are a happy lot. They like to come and want to know what I am doing with the microscope, how I mix colors and paint on canvas, play the violin, feed the fish in the aquarium. Or visit an mongrel dog I gave a home.

We meet under a covered front yard and under the trees. It is sort of extension class. Lessons were compiled and became a source book.  It has six chapters with thirty  articles.

1.    Keeping Tradition Alive
2.    Appreciating Nature’s Beauty and Bounty
3.    Building Good Health and Lifestyle
4.    Developing Practical Skills and Self-Reliance
5.    Tapping Talents in the Humanities
6.    Emulating Models of Greatness

Some have attended as many as 12 sessions, three hours each.  They started talking about school projects, home remedies, and things about growing up – or at least, not cartoon characters, computer games, or frequenting the malls. But what happens after?  

The lessons are taken up on  Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid hosted by Ms Melly C Tenorio and myself as the instructor. The program is linked up with School on Blog [avrotor.blogspot.com], broadcast simultaneously every 8 to 9 in the evening, Monday to Friday on 738 DZRB AM.

The children simply open the Blog and read the lessons. They can download and print them. New lessons are posted regularly to keep the program going. They join the viewers on the Internet (500,000 pageviews to date), and the audience of  the radio program. On PBS and Bureau of Broadcast  network nationwide and on [www.pbs.gov.ph] worldwide

Learning can be simplified with today’s technology and vast networking. Education can be made available to everyone.  Lessons become practical, literacy functional with the least cost. Let us start with the kids in the neighborhood.  ~

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Singular Halo-halo

The Singular Halo-halo
Dr Abe V Rotor

It's a long, hot summer, and one way to beat it is to have a large glass or bowl of halo-halo (literally, mix-mix). Halo-halo is very popular in summer wherever you go in the Philippines.    

 Make halo-halo at home from a wide choice of ingredients. The most popular ingredients are kaong, nata, sago, gulaman or gelatin, cut boiled saba banana, evaporated milk, sugar - and a topping of leche plan. You can have other ingredients as substitute , or in addition to, like nangka (jackfruit). 

The enjoyment in eating actually is in digging out the ingredients while in leisurely (and haltingly) conversation with members of the family or with friends. There's a saying in Pilipino, "the deeper you get, the better it tastes." In Ilocano, "Umun-uneg, umim-imas."  Note: Halo-halo may cause indigestion because of its rich, varied ingredients, and when taken in large amount. It is not recommended for babies.~

Make one for me, a large, large glass,
Epicurean I am - Filipino;
halo-halo's the name and the brand,
that the world may know.

Make it potpourri-like, heap full flowing,
nectar sweet, white as snow; 
family, friends, and guests in company,
and special just for two.      

Make it loaded with native delights,
bounty of Ceres and Apollo,
pride of country and race and taste, 
oh! singular halo-halo. ~