Friday, December 1, 2017

The Indefatigable Ka Melly

Dr Abe V Rotor 
Rocky Cliff of Media in acrylic by AVRotor for Ka Melly C Tenorio on her 65th birthday and day of retirement from government service.  December 2, 2017

Atop the Rocky Cliff of Media

You made it Ka Melly, you are now on top, 
though a dot in the vastness of your view ;
if only retirement could silence the mind,
but to write your life is challenge anew, 
for nothing is as fulfilling as your career 
to go on making life lovely and true.

Lessons I Learned from Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's-School-on-Air) with Ka Melly C Tenorio

1. Ka Melly is a pioneer of a new kind of education. “University without walls,” Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid or People’s School-on-Air. 

2. I met Ka Melly for the first time in the eighties at the old building of ABS-CBN. I was invited as a resource person in her program. Gradually, through the years we developed a relationship of teacher and moderator which may be likened to a horse-and-carriage relationship.

Ka Melly and Ka Abe - PBH tandem for more than three decades 

3. Were it not for Ka Melly, Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (PBH) could not be what it has become today as the longest continuing school-on-air on radio in the Philippines, which includes places outside the country reached by PBS-RB network.

4. And thanks to the Internet, PBH was able to reach out worldwide. Lessons were not only heard on radio but read on the Internet as organized lessons posted on Website which are easily accessible.

5. Paaralang Bayan is broad, if fact limitless in potential topics and audience. On my part with Ka Melly, I was able to discuss and post around 4000 lessons. These are accessible in three websites, principally Past lessons even before 2006 have been compiled and can be searched by subject matter at any time.

6. Topics cover the 8 Realms of Multiple Intelligence (spatial or visual art, logic, intrapersonal, interpersonal, languages, kinesthetics, music and naturalism) which aim at developing the "holistic” person, principally among the young, and practical subjects which supplement formal education, as well as experiential knowledge, social media notwithstanding.

DZRB-PBH staff at DZRB station with Station Manager Allan Allanique (left photo, foreground).

7. There are times of excitement, times of caution (we avoid discussing as much as possible  politics and religion), of light moments, and times of serious concern. But there were times, I in particular, entertained the thought “of what use am I doing this?” particularly because being a resource person is free and voluntary.

8. Until someone called me in the middle of the night and said, “Thank you Ka Abe and Ka Melly for saving my life. ”I couldn’t grasp a thing to relate his statement. I am not a life guard. I donated blood only once in my lifetime and that was a long time ago. I let him continue. "Your program stopped me at the brink of self-destruction." He mentioned a lesson, “Stop before you reach dead end,” and related topics.

9. I felt like a disciple of the Good Shepherd. And here the biblical Lost Lamb got into the picture, opening a new challenge and stronger determination as a journalist. It is indeed a philosophy on the highest humanitarian level. How many lost lambs are there in the world today?

10. And this is a fact. Quite often the lost lamb is not only the marginalized, but one who is learned, ambitious, and those on the fast lane locked up in a race without a name and goal. What would Ka Melly and I tell them. We talk about art, poetry, kind Nature, the lighter side of life, a kind of laughter from the heart. It’s Ka Melly’s signature of smiling-and-laughing, you could readily notice in her voice.

11. “All the world’s a stage.” Yet we can’t always be the principal characters. In media we are merely catalyst for people to act, and they must act rationally in their best. But sometimes we encounter overenthusiastic callers. It’s not unusual and this is where diplomacy comes in. Diplomacy in media is an art.  Ka Melly is a master of that art. Hour after hour and she seems indefatigable. I only know the source of her strength is her loving family, and her dedication to her career.

12. We are students in many ways. Someone called up to tell that eating plapla (hormone induced male tilapia) would cause hair to grow on the face and body. I thought it was all right, but then the caller was not a man but a lady who insisted she was talking based on personal experience. I began imagining the new species. I don’t know how Ka Melly closed the conversation to the caller’s seeming satisfaction, without us accepting her theory. It was hilarious behind screen but it prompted me to do research. Though controversial, the idea led me to do my homework with the premise that tinkering with Nature is very dangerous, and indeed it is.

13. There are difficult moments with media especially when you have little to say, or none at all. What with one straight hour without advertisement, and seldom a break for station ID? Monday to Friday – that’s five hours a week in a heavy traffic hour (air and road).

One time I was driving back to QC from DLSU Dasmariñas after an evening class lecture. PBH was hooked up with my car radio. Then Ka Melly called. I couldn't find a parking place. Finally I found one and of all places I was directed in front of a beer house. And you know, we talked of vices and one of them is smoking. Luckily I had the article “From Cigarette Smoking to Pipe Smoking – then I Stopped: A Personal Saga.” It turned out beautifully with sound effects coming from the beer house. There’s no substitute really to personal experience with on-the spot setting. I even got a free can of beer.

PBH Resource Persons (Top, clockwise) NCBA vice president for academic affairs and director for research with Ka Melly and Ka Abe and wife Cecille; UN-FAO ecologist and veteran journalist with Ka Abe; veteran broadcaster with Ka Abe and Cecille; and professors from SPU-QC;

14. Another experience, this time was in Virac, Catanduanes. I was a speaker on Environmental Conservation. "I’m here in Catanduanes," I called Ka Mely. I summarized the contents of some papers presented in lesson style. And having a few minutes remaining I gave to a seemingly knowledgeable participant a chance to say her piece. It was nearly a disaster. She was very critical and out of topic. I learned another lesson. Don’t just pick anyone to talk on radio. You can’t “unsay” what has been said, not even on his or her behalf.

15. There was a concert in Ateneo de Manila University which Ka Melly emceed. My Daughter Anna accompanied me on the violin. Actually I declined the invitation by a Jesuit brother, a regular PBH guest. But it was a rare opportunity and honor. Ka Melly was very fluent and confident as usual with her introduction, and she didn’t know how nervous I was. I told myself, if Ka Melly isn't nervous, why shouldn’t I, too? Things turned out all right. You can’t be your best unless you are a bit nervous, anxious, and fired with enthusiasm. After our rendition Ka Melly congratulated me and Anna. I was avoiding to extend my cold and sweaty hand. There are trials you must face in media. The term mapapasubo ka is actually mapapasubok ka.

16. Another time, I played the violin in the Radyo ng Bayan station booth, to demonstrate traditional and semi-classical music. This time I was all confident. But I didn’t perform as well as I did in the Ateneo concert. “Bravo!” applauded Ka Melly. If only Ka Melly knew I missed a number of notes and a line! (On second thought, I told myself, "Alam niya, mabait lang siya." But what about our thousands of listeners?)

17. I am always aware of the element of humility in media. I often refer to the Pieta. What makes the Pieta the "perfect" sculptural work of man is the essence of humility it exudes. When this early masterpiece of Michelangelo was struck with a sledge hammer by a madman, and later restored, more pilgrims were attracted to see it. It is now in a bullet-proof glass case in the Vatican, and the Pieta has found a place again in our troubled society. How many people are there in our times with the kind of reasoning of the madman, "When you can't acquire beauty your own alone, better destroy it so no one can truly own it?" How often is media led into this social quagmire!

Lessons in PBH are translated into Ilocano and published in Ka Abe's column Okayka Apong (Our Heritage of Values and Lessons). Bannawag, counterpart of Liwayway (both mean dawn) is a weekly magazine with 50,000 copies per issue, half of which is shipped to Ilocano communities abroad. Okayka Apong will be on its 12th year in 2018. Ka Abe right, with Bannawag Exeutive Editor. 

PBH and the Community Newspaper (Greater Lagro Gazette) which was awarded best barangay newspaper in QC.) The Gazette regularly publishes lessons with Ka Abe as president of LAWIN (Lagro Assn of Writers and Artists Inc). With him is the editor in chief of the Gazette and chairman of LAWIN.

PBH counterpart in Thailand - 
Sokhothai Thammathirat Open University (STOU), the first university in Southeast Asia to use the distance learning system;  Ka Abe in an interview at STOU 2008. With strong government support, PBH can be institutionalized like STOU with the country's present network of schools and universities. STOU has more than 200,000 students enrolled in different courses from vocational to medicine to graduate studies. Another Thai University has one-half million students in its "university-without-walls" program. All over the world, one of the biggest revolutions taking place is in media and education. PBH has greatly contributed to this movement. But we have yet to break the cartel of schools and universities gripping the educational system of our country.
PBH won the Oscar Florendo Award for Developmental Communication, circa 1998; Philippine Award  for Best Blog on Nature and Environment in 2015(PBH lessons are linked with the Internet), Gintong Aklat Award 2003, National Book Award 2008 (2 books in a series which carry PBH lessons; and Father Jose P Burgos Achievement Award, particularly on the aspect of media 2015). It is also for PBH that Ka Abe was awarded Outstanding Alumnus for Journalism by the Lyceum of the Philippine University on the recommendation of Manager Allan Allanigue. These awards and various citations demonstrate the dynamic and professional management of the DZRB-PBH through the years. Former Manager John Manalili also received various awards after his retirement.    
PBH participates in national conventions (left, on allergy), and training of teachers under the K-12 program
PBH is deeply involved in environmental conservation. Top, clockwise: global
warming, widespread poverty, overpopulation, and deforestation.

PBH takes part in children's feeding program, (left), and art workshop.

PBH conducts seminar-workshops with Barangay Greater Lagro QC, for senior citizens;
and works with the academic community (UST Graduate School Students).

PBH is largely responsible in the publication of these books which are being used as references and textbooks (Humanities and Literature for K-12), These are available at National Book Store, C and E Publishing, UST Publishing House, and other outlets. These books earned a number of awards including Gintong Aklat and National Book Award. Twenty book manuscripts carrying PBH lessons are being prepared for publication.

18. What happens to PBH after Ka Melly?

First of all here is a cursory look into the lessons of PBH, by subject matter: Current Events, Food and nutrition, Ecology and Environment, Agriculture and Food, Practical Tips for Everyday Living, Science and Technology, Disaster Preparedness, Response and Recovery,

Medicine and Healthcare, Education and Training, Lighter Side of Life, Communication and Arts, Humanities and Applied Aesthetics, Morals and Ethics, Economics and Entrepreneurship, Family and Society, Biology and Related Life Sciences, Culture and Tradition, Industry and agribusiness, Personality Development.

The least discussed are Politics and Religion.

With the Website (Living with Nature) (or Dr Abe V Rotor) these topics can still be accessed as short articles accompanied by photos and illustrations, and written in English, in simple style. These topics will remain accessible worldwide, perhaps for years, to visitors of the website. No other conditions are set, aside adhering to the genuine purpose of the lessons. acknowledgement of the source, and that the  Code of Ethics in Journalism, and conditions set by the Web are not violated.  

These lessons shall be phased out as PBH lessons, ultimately becoming independent articles linked to various websites - riding on the principle of Multiplier Effect. And new articles shall be added on regularly under (Living with Nature, with two extended blogs). 

As long as there are visitors to these blogs, PBH lives on.  So does the indefatigable Ka Melly.    
                                    For Ka Melly

The Plus Factors of a Happy and Fulfilled Life,  
and - Yes, you will live long. 
Dr Abe V Rotor  

                           The Pond - A Place of Happy Thoughts, in acrylic AVRotor

When the sun rises, be there and catch its rays, pristine, golden piercing the fog and mist, turning dewdrops into diamonds cascading to the ground, vanishing into the air, birds chirping to herald the day - you will live long;

When the sun sets, it is but the parting of day, no tears no regrets, it goes to its bed on the horizon, and soon, you too shall find rest in comfort and thanksgiving, taking away the rigors of the day - you will live long;

When tired muscles and nerves, before they snag and pull you down, stop and let nature take over, you have a lot of reserve you don't only know - breath deep, relax and dream of the things you love - you will live long;

When in doubt and indecisive, cautious and anxious, these you must respect, they are within your barometer telling you to find the best path to take - and, if ever the risk is well deserved, take the less trodden with pride - you will live long;

When lost in the woods or in the concrete jungle, in eerie shadows among trees or blinding neon lights, stop but briefly for composure, but never stop, your home is just there waiting for you - you will live long;

When feeling sick you are sick, when angry you are angry, when lonely you are lonely; when happy you are happy, you are the master and captain of your life, steer your ship well having set its course - you will live long;

When the seasons are changing fast, you must be in love with your work, your life and family, your friends and organization - they make things easy for you, as you make things easy for them too, rejoice, it's a great life - you will live long;

When your pulse is racing with your heartbeat, temperature sending blood to your head, eyes blurred by tears and anger, your gait and stride now heavy and disturbing, your smiles and laughter leaving dry furrows, take a break, a long break - you will live long;

When sick doctors affirm, don't give up, the good hormones will drive the bad ones away, stem cells in your bone marrow will double up, metabolism slows down, enhance these natural processes, be happy - you will live long;

When you are yourself and not somebody else, when models rise to challenge you, when idealism and reality meet at the hallowed ground of humanity, where goodness prevails, be more than a witness, you have your own role to play - you will live long;

When life advances past your prime, look to the golden years, the best of life yet, believe in wisdom distilled from knowledge, in a diary you wrote as your living epitaph, for having borne children, the meaning of immortality - you will live long;

When the Angelus bell rings and you hear it not a peal but sweet call, when all around you gather your family and friends, those you found joy in helping - the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the imprisoned, the lonely and abandoned - those you served on media as the Good Shepherd. you will live long, and forever live. ~

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