Monday, October 30, 2017

Fathers of Great Men and Women

Dr Abe V Rotor
Father and mother of Philippine heroes 
 Greatness, they say, runs in the family. Not really. Many great men and women came from humble birth. Let's take these examples.
  • Abraham Lincoln's father was a poor farmer and laborer.
  • The father of the great explorer James Cook was a farm worker.
  • The father of France greatest heroine, Joan of Arc, was a farmer.
  • Sophocles, the Greek poet, was the son of a blacksmith.
  • Christopher Columbus was the son of a weaver.
  • Sigmund Freud's father was a wool merchant.
  • The father of Henry Ford was a farmer.
  • Marco Polo's father was a traveling merchant.
  • Sir Francis Drake was brought up a Puritan, his father Edmund Drake was a clergyman. 
  • David Livingstone's parents were poor, David had to work in a factory at age 10.
  • The father of Lech Walesa, leader of Solidarity that freed Poland, was a carpenter.
  • Daniel Webster was the son of a poor farmer.
  • Benjamin Franklin was the son of a soap maker.
  • The father of Charles Dickens was a wage earner, clerk in the Navy Pay Office.
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  • Joseph Haydn's father made and repaired wheels of all kinds.
  • Emperor Diocletian was the son of a slave.
  • Pablo Picasso's father was a painter, but handed over his brushes and paints to his son after discovering his artistic genius.
  • The father of Shakespeare was a wool merchant.
  • Albert Einstein's father failed as a businessman      Sophocles
  • Virgil's father was a porter and for years a slave.
  • Franz Schubert's father was a modest schoolmaster.
  • Nelson Mandela, South Africa's living hero, came from a family of herdsmen, born in a thatched hut.
  • The father of John Paul II was an army sergeant.
  • Mother Teresa (Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu) was a daughter of an Albanian grocer.
  • Maria Montessori, founder of the Montessori school, was the daughter of a civil servant
  • George Frederick Handel's father was a barber-surgeon.
  • Joseph Stalin's father was an alcoholic, beat the young Joseph, deserted the family.
  • Ludwig Beethoven's father was ruthless to the young Ludwig.
  • The father of Lyndon Johnson, US president, earned a teacher's certificate, went to farming and local politics.
  • Former US President Richard Nixon grew in poverty, family illness and endless work.
  • Mikhail Gorbachev, the man who "made the USSR disappear" was born from simple peasant parents, and grandparents.
  • Mao Zedong was the son of an obscure peasant from the vast hinterland of China.
  • Charles Darwin's father was a medical doctor, his grandfather Erasmus Darwin was a renown scientist.
  • The father of Florence Nightingale founder of the nursing profession was a rich man.  She was born in Florence (hence her name) but returned to England as a little girl.  
  • Leonardo da Vinci's father was a notary, or lawyer and his mother was a peasant girl.
  • Michelangelo's father, Ludovico, was a magistrate and proud of his noble ancestry.
  • The father of Renaissance painter Raphael, contemporary of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo  was an artist of some reputation, employed by the dukes of Urbino near Florence
  • The father of George Frederick Handel (1685-1759) was a prominent barber-surgeon in the town of Halle, Germany.
  • Austrian composer Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) was the second of twelve children born to a kindly couple of music-loving peasants.  His father Matias Haydn made and repaired wheels of all kinds. 

  • Franz Schubert (1797-1828) was born into a family that regarded music very highly.  His father was a modest schoolmaster.                                                
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  • The father of John Wesley, founder of Methodism, was a rector of Epworth Rectory
  • Captain James Cook was born of poor parents in 1728 in a village in Yorkshire where his father worked on a farm.  
  • Jesus Christ's father - St Joseph - was a carpenter.
References: Living with Nature  AVRJokes, Quotes and One-Liners for Public Speakers, Prochnow HV and HV Prochnow Jr, 1897, 1931; Ladyird Book Series                                                              Schubert 

Halloween - celebration with the dead, ghosts and spirits

Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog

   The evil spirit comes for a visit. 
Merging of the real and imaginary. 
Dialogue with the dead. 

Remember our dead beloved, the unsung, unknown;
     catch up with time for our failed expression,
prayers unsaid, love denied,  gesture unrequited -
     day of the souls to amend our infraction.    
Transported to the land of the dead. 
 Treat or threat.
   Whose party? Where have all the people gone?
            Masks or real faces?

   Faces, faces, young and old,
  fair and coy and bold;
masks, masks, masks we are told,
sans feeling and cold. 

The dead takes center stage. 

Come let's visit Dante's Inferno, and Milton's world,*
     call on Frankenstein,** his monstrous creation;
travel to Transylvania, track the undead Dracula;   
     join the dead, their ghosts in celebration. 

Good and evil for once their boundary open,
     so with that of heaven and hell we implore;
take the backseat apostasy, paganism alive!
     make haste, before Hades closes the door.   
- Dell H Grecia    

* Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained, epic by John Milton
** Frankenstein, novel by Mary Shelley

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Queer Looking Trees from Another World

Photos and Poem by Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog

Balete (Ficus benjamina) strangles own host (acacia - 
Samanea saman), hence called Strangler's Fig, UST Manila
I love trees friendly or queer,
they whistle with the breeze;
they sigh in summer air, 
and make me feel at ease.

I love trees real or fancy,
tall, small, and spreading;
lining the shore, or foothill,
atop a mountain like king.

I love trees in all seasons,
even with their grotesque crown;
buds in spring fullest in summer;
and in autumn red and brown. 

I love trees, their make-believe faces,
dare to imagine in the evening, 
the legendary white lady;
or beauteous Maria Makiling.  

I love trees they are like people,
senses, language of their own
are universal to all creatures,
even before man was born.  

I love trees because I see myself
in them today as it was before;
and if i think trees are really queer,
I think I should love them more. ~

Ghost singers under a huge banyan tree, Sacred Heart Novitiate, QC 
(Photo taken after a wedding reception, unedited photo.) 
Ichabod Crane Tree, SPUQC (Fiction character in a 
short story  of the same title by Washington Irving)
Who is knocking on my window sill? (kalachuchi - 
Plumera acuminata), Sacred Heart Novitiate, QC
Tree casts its own shadow of death before its early 
demise following Ondoy flood in 2010 , UST Manila
Python Tree, an overhanging limb of acacia covered
 with epiphytes, Ateneo de Manila University, QC
Haunting Fig Tree (Gmelina), Church of the Ascension Parish Church, 
Lagro QC. Its broad prop roots produce a dull gong sound when struck.  

Leaning Pisa tree (Fire tree - Delonix regia) leans 45 degrees 
over busy Regalado Avenue, QC. NOTE: the tree was cut down 
to clear power lines, and eliminate possible accident. 
Elephant Tree, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
 Bearded Eucalyptus Tree, Angels' Hill, Tagaytay City. Clinging moss 
is actually lichens of the fruticose or hanging type. 

Saturday, October 28, 2017

What is the philosophy that guides your life?

Dr Abe V Rotor

Seven people chosen at random were asked, "What is the  philosophy that guides your life?" Here are their answers. *
  1. I just try to do my best.
  2. Slow down and enjoy the little things.
  3. Don't get in a rut.
  4. Take time to do what you would like to do.
  5. Relax and look at life in perspective.
  6. Take things a day at a time.
  7. See that your life has variety. 
Greek philosopher, student of Plato who wrote Nicomachean Ethics 
as a guide to the citizens of Greece on how to lead the good life.

When I read this article, I told myself to slow down and take time to reflect. What really is the philosophy of my life that makes it meaningful and fulfilled? 

I imagined myself as one - any one of the respondents, at one time or another. Actually I couldn't help compare the two aspects of life, the serious and the lighter side. I have not really given much attention to the latter. I have not settled down even after I retired from employment. I often remind myself that there is limit in everything. This is perhaps the greatest fault of people who are used to working hard. 

The survey means much more that slowing down. It is self examination. Consider  each item or response as a measure of The Good Life in practical and simple terms, and universal in application. 

Rate yourself under each item using the Likert Scale (1 very poor, 2 poor, 3 average, 4 good, 5 very good). Compute for the total score and the average. There is no passing or failing score.  In fact each item must be treated independently, so that you can see your strength you should be happy about, and inadequacies which you can correct and improve. 

Thanks to Better to Light One Candle (The Christophers Three Minute a Day) p 243 

Friday, October 27, 2017

Glowing Spider

Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature - School on Blog
                       Glowing spider, relative of the Tarantula

You glow to decoy your prey
into your arms and fang;
or lurk in the magic glow
of phosphorescence
to mimic your surroundings –
an invincible knight you are!
then throw a thousand spears
like the Spartans at siege,
glowing best in victory.~

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Giants mingle with the spirits, too, on Halloween.

There are friendly giants, ugly giants, sleeping giants, giants of the deep, the forest and fields, and so on.
Dr Abe V Rotor

BigfootChildren who saw giants - real or imaginary -
made better in life than those who did not.

Giants fascinate children most, and mothers do not run out of stories about the kapre or Jack and the Beanstalk or the giant squid that attacked Captain Nemo’s submarine in Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea to keep them at home or eat their vegetables.

Giants to the young mind are living creatures bigger than life, and they possess supernatural powers that they unleash either for good or evil.

There are friendly giants, ugly giants, sleeping giants, giants of the deep, and so on.

They are either aggressive or passive, visible or hidden, loved and hated. It is the enigma about them that heightens their stories, and in fact the stories themselves make them real giants.

Here are popular giants from books and stories, which are often featured in comics and cartoons:

• Nessie in Loch Ness (Scotland) is believed to be a prehistoric reptile. It continues to attract tourists, even after a century after someone took a photo of the monsters on the murky water.

• Bigfoot is believed to be a huge hairy creature roaming the forests of North America. It is projected as a prehistoric man with beast like characteristics.

• Abominable Snowman or Yeti has been sighted on a number of occasions by residents on the snowy slopes of the Himalayas.

 Kapre is the Filipino version of a supernatural being, more of a beast than human, that lives in trees and abandoned places.

Giants in fiction stories and novels are virtually endless.
  • Take the case of Gulliver of Lilliput by Jonathan Swift. King Kong the ape monster that crushed cares and leveled buildings.
  • Greek mythology would not be as exciting if there were no giants. Giants made Hercules a legendary hero. Imagine the giants he fought - the cyclop, the hydra, among others, during his ten years of wandering. Remember the Minotaur - half man, half bull - whom Theseus killed in order to liberate the monster's hostages?
  • How big was Goliath in the bible whom the boy hero, David slew?
  • Then we have our own Bernardo Carpio, and Angalo, most popular Philippine epics.
  • A favorite bedtime story is Jake and Beanstalk. I wonder how the story can lull children to sleep - specially when the giant comes crushing down to earth!
  • Recently Honey I Shrunk the Kidsand its opposite - Honey I Blew Up the Baby became cinema's box office attractions.
Well, children who saw giants - real or imaginary - made better in life than those who did not. ~

TRIVIA: What is the biggest living creature that ever lived on earth? It this creature still alive? Send your answer. Welcome to the club!

Home, Sweet Home with Nature, AVR; acknowledgment, Wikipedia for illustration.

Mysterious hand reaches out for the moon

Smog draws figures in the night sky, as clouds make images in the day sky.
 Dr Abe V Rotor
 Living with Nature - School on Blog

Photo by Marlo R Rotor, Halloween 2008

The sun has long bid goodbye.
A mysterious hand rises in the sky.
The moon is still. Darkness sets in.
It's the ghost of Halloween.~

Halloween Moth

Dr Abe V Rotor

You can't hide behind mask;
it is no longer Halloween;
with thin lips and sleepy eyes,
I know where you've been. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Atop Historical Eiffel Tower (Paris, France)

The Eiffel Tower is the most-visited paid monument in the world; 8 million people ascend every year. 
Dr Abe V Rotor 
Living with Nature - School on Blog []

The Eiffel Tower is a wrought iron lattice tower named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower in 1889 as the entrance to the 1889 World's Fair. 

Author on the second deck with co-worker at NFA, Director Nestor Zamora (right) 1976. 

It was initially criticized by some of France's leading artists and intellectuals for its design, but it has become a global cultural icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world.

The Eiffel Tower is the most-visited paid monument in the world; 8 million people ascend every year. The tower is 324 metres (1,063 ft) tall, about the same height as an 81-storey building, and the tallest structure in Paris. Its base is square, measuring 125 metres (410 ft) on each side.

During its construction, the Eiffel Tower surpassed the Washington Monument to become the tallest man-made structure in the world, a title it held for 41 years until the Chrysler Building in New York City was finished in 1930. Due to the addition of a broadcasting aerial at the top of the tower in 1957, it is now taller than the Chrysler Building by 5.2 meters (17 ft). Excluding transmitters, the Eiffel Tower is the second-tallest structure in France after the Millau Viaduct. (Reference: Humanities Today (K Molina-Doria, AVRotor, Internet Wikipedia)

The tower, regally bathed with the colors of the French flag, exudes the nationalistic spirit of the French people. In fact the tower's inauguration in 1889 marked the 100 years anniversary of the French Revolution whose trilogy - Egalite', Liberte', Fraternite' - ignited the birth of independent nations, among them The United States of America. The trilogy became guiding principles of the US constitution, and constitutions of other free countries, which include the Philippines. By the way, the Statue of Liberty in New York was erected as a symbol of friendship between the two countries.

Perspective view of the tower.View of the tower from the second deck (AVR)


Bust of Gustave Eiffel beneath the tower. (AVR) 


Statue of Napoleon Bonaparte French hero and builder of the Arc d'Triomphe pointing at the Arc framed by the yawning base of the tower. (AVR). 


Panoramic views from the second deck of the tower. I took these photos from the second level on a clear day in July 1976 


US soldiers view the Eiffel which survived WW II, during the liberation of France from the Nazis in 1944. Hitler's instruction to destroy the tower was disobeyed by his own officers.


Eiffel Tower displays one of the most celebrated New Year celebrations in the world every year.

View from the base reveals the four massive legs of the tower leading to the first and second levels which explain its durability to weight and height (324 meters), and resistance to wind force - indeed an engineering feat to this day.


Stages in the construction of the tower by the company led by Gustave Eiffel from whom the tower was to be named. It took more than two years to complete just in time for the World Exposition in 1889.


The original lift is a hybrid of an elevator and escalator escalator. It took the passengers to the first and second levels. The third and upper limits were accessible only by a long winding staircase. This lift has been renovated and later modernized to accommodate thousands of visitors daily. In our visit it took us longer to queue than to reach the second deck which took some five to seven minutes.

The Eiffel Tower is the most popular place for promenade in Paris. The tower is also the most visited pay tower in the world with an average eight million tourists every year.

The tower has survived catastrophes like fire, earthquakes, lightnings, and terrorists' attacks. Ironically a number of daring sportsmen died scaling the tower, jumping off with parachute, a number simply committed suicide. For sometime the third level was closed for security reasons.

Magnificent Eiffel Tower, World Exposition 1889. Thousands of lanterns made the tower glow fire red, while two floodlights streamed down. Beacon lights made the tower appear like a giant torch.


Poster of the World Exposition in 1889 in Paris, showing the massive Eiffel tower. Despite objections and criticisms, Eiffel and group backed by the French government pushed through with the prospect - with the condition that it was to be dismantled after the affair. The opposition proved wrong, and the tower became a permanent landmark. At least 30 replicas of the Eiffel are found in different parts of the world, including that in Nevada. Today Eiffel is a French signature.~