Wednesday, June 05, 2019

These are hard times

Since my retirement, the plan of action was to continue working, earning money, at least for myself.  My wife and I have finished giving our children the education they need so that they can be independent, earning on their own, enough to sustain their lives from here on.  The long term plan is to go full time in painting and find myself a career in that field.  After all, this has been a long time dream.  So I have been painting and painting thinking I shall be known one of these days and establish a list of clientele and be plagued with commissions. This is proving to be a very hard route as I have imagined.  Not only are sales of my paintings at a minimum, and my production itself is not that numerous as it should be.

I have joined art exhibitions, had my works exhibited hoping and praying that at least one of them shall be sold.  Well, the closest to a sale in an exhibit happened with the Art Center at SM Mega Mall.  A few days after I have  picked up my works, the gallery called me asking if I still have my pieces.  I told him I did.  He asked me if I can trim down the price of the paintings as a buyer was interested but was asking for a discount. I did lower the price but still the unknown buyer still wanted more.  I staved the price a little more but still this was not enough for the said buyer.  At this point, I told the guy in the gallery that I cannot lower it anymore as I  have to protect those who have already bought from me.  I do not want to be rumored that I just give in easily to make a sale.  To my mind, that will not be too good for my reputation.  I thanked the guy in the gallery and decided I did not need the sale.  Once again, after several days, I received another text message that the buyer was ready to purchase one of the works.  Luckily, he wanted the   bigger one.  The  only glitch was that his wife did not want it..  After several prodding, his wife gave in and the sale was about to be done.  I brought the piece back to the gallery and waited.  After two weeks of waiting for the payment, I received note again that his wife really did not want the piece and so was not getting it anymore.

This goes without saying that as expected, I am having a hard time making my professional name known in the  art scene. While I have sold and have accepted a few commissions, they are not enough to sustain me or this career. I am spending more than I earn. My fear is soon, the well shall run dry and my retirement money shall run out. My next plan was to join a very prestigious art competition which to my mind would instantly make me famous. I joined the GSIS Art Competition, an annual event being participated in by practically every art practitioner in the country.  This was the first time I joined a contest and I was very eager. You can read about it">here
.I patiently waited for the result.  My gut feeling told me that I should be receiving word from the organizer even before the intended announcement in June 1.  Nothing!  Now that it is the fifth of the month and the announcement of winners shall be two days from now, I have learned to accept that I did not make the cut.
In the meantime that I am working to have my name ring a bell, the short range  plan is to find me a regular job which shall sustain me while I work on  my paintings for after all, I am still strong and can still work for more than eight hours a day.  This is harder that I thought. None of my prospects are pushing through. The first prospects were very promising.  There is the putting up of a school somewhere in Taguig with Henry and a couple who would help us finance the project.  This did not push through.  Then there was this prospect of managing a school in Cabanatuan which should have been a high possibility as I have already been introduced and sort of interviewed by the owner.  This was done while I was still teaching and I had high hopes that if it pushes through, I would have the best deal in town.  For reasons beyond my control, the person I was supposed to replace has not retired to date and so the vacancy that I was hoping for did not materialize.

The next option was another one given to me by Henry.  It is another job to head a senior high school run by the Zobels in Calatagan,, Batangas.  But again, this failed as I was told that they would rather hire someone who is in the know of the culture in Batangas, hence someone from there.

My hitherto last  option was shared to me by my wife. She told me that the she knew someone from the Senior High School at De La Salle University.  Since I had several prospects then, being a teacher again did not appeal to me.  Thus, instead of applying for the job right after retirement, I opted to travel to Brazil and then the United States.  Now that all possible jobs that I had have been for naught, I told my wife to give it a go. And so she sent my resume to her contact and waited.  Never heard  from the guy and school has already started.  It seems like there is no vacancy at this time.

And so, to sum these all up, it has nothing but disappointment after disappointments.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

The Phenomenon

Duterte rose to power not by a single stroke of fate. He is the outcome of a series of incidents all tied up together resulting to his name being catapulted to fame and earning the admiration of a lot of people. Today, no amount of “bad” news can dissuade his followers and admirers in believing in him. Never mind the continued exposure of the police engaging in the extrajudicial killing of thousands just because he had “waged” war against drugs. Never mind that his spokesperson, Panelo, claims that the spate of killings can be attributed to mere collaterals of a war we have to fight.  Never mind that he had continuously lambasted God in a country he leads, reputedly to be the only predominantly Christian country in Asia.  Never mind the accusations that he has already signed a pact with the Chinese to whom, it has been alleged, we shall eventually surrender our patrimony.  Never mind the fact that he had not made true his promises during the campaign period for the Presidency that he so boldly claimed.  Never mind that the country and the Filipino people are the subject of comedy in some American TV show because of the “not-so Presidential” antics of Duterte and his minions. None of these matter to his followers. As a matter of fact, his popularity has not waned a fraction but remained steady if not rising to even higher grounds.  The dismal showing of the polls in the last election is a nightmare. Most of those who won, did, because they were anointed by the President.  This is what I call the Duterte phenomenon.

How did Duterte rise to fame like this?  It all started with the big talk on how Duterte has cleaned Davao of scumbags when he was elected mayor of the city. By his own admission, he had eradicated crime in the city by executing all evil doers there.  Thus, it has been claimed that Davao is the safest place in the country now.  I shall leave it at that.  

The 20 year rule of despotic President Marcos came to an end in 1986 when the people finally decided they have had enough.  In a three day, peaceful revolution, a multitude of people gathered around Camp Crame resulting to the ouster of this strongman, banishing him to Hawaii where he eventually met his death.  We saw the widow of Ninoy Aquino claiming the Presidency with the delight not only of the Filipinos but celebrated throughout the world. 

But history never takes a story to be constant or significantly forever.  There is a saying, whether we believe it or not, that history is told from the point of view of the victors. Thus, the events in history, even though they never change, shall be viewed differently in another given time.  This was, to me, the blunder of the Aquinos and Filipino historians.  The Aquinos had been complacent that the multitude that went out in EDSA shall forever be there.  For some reason or another, the EDSA revolution, as we always knew it, have not been told and retold to our young.  The events that led to it has not been taught in schools, especially to very young high school students.  These millenials gather information on the internet, specifically one liners on facebook. (Why bother reading long historical accounts when one can read history like it is being told by a gossip at the nearby barber shop as told by the barbers and hangers on?) Soon, history would take shape in a different form. The Marcoses are not only back but even holding very important offices in government.  There have been allegations that they have employed the services of trolls and writers who will shape the minds of the young and make Ferdinand Marcos the greatest President there ever was.  Great! Before Marcos, we were at the brink of being highly industrialized.  We had Jacinto and Ysmael Steel, ABS CBN of the Lopezes, etc.  Economy wise, we were way ahead of our Asian neighbors by a long mile. All these until Marcos seized these companies and we have become poorer and poorer ever since. But I digress.

Cory’s presidency would have made us a great nation.  Other countries looked at us with admiration at the time. Cory Aquino was to be given the Nobel Peace Prize. The political scenario at the time was not as great, though.  Other people, notably greedy ones, wanted the pie all to themselves.  Cory’s presidency was beleaguered with several coup d’etats thinking she was a weak president and it was the time to grab power from her.  Miraculously, probably with the blessings of God, she survived them all until her Presidency ended.   Fast forward to three more Presidents and her son, Noynoy, assumed the seat of the most powerful man in the country I believe he was the weak link.  His presidency was a big disappointment. During his time, his cabinet experienced a lot of controversies. The MRT, the biggest mass transport, met a lot of problems that the government cannot handle. The LTO began to decline with licenses, plate numbers, etc. not being able to deliver simple service to the people. The comical way the authorities handled that hostage taking at the Luneta became a tragedy simply because it was mishandled from start to finish. The Mamasapano tragedy was the worst. Several policemen had been slaughtered without help coming from the soldiers nearby just because the orders were not clear.  

To me, these were the events that led to Duterte’s Presidency.  The people think they have had enough incompetence in government and the time was ripe for a strongman to effect changes for the Filipino people. It is all very simple.  Duterte put on the table a very simple equation that the people can easily understand. An eye for an eye, a tooth for every tooth. You did something wrong, whether true or not, you shall die. Regardless of the outcome or the consequences, the people should see someone hang. This unlawful, injustice is lost to a people who wanted to see blood for vengeance no matter what the costs.

And so, in spite of the fact that after three years, Duterte has not yet made good his promises to rid the country of drugs, secure the country’s territories from adverse claimants, he remains to be idolized by his followers. His seemingly “kill first before asking questions” policy, with the extra judicial killings, which he actually is very proud of, resulted to the wanton disregard for the principles of due process being expunged in the journey of the Philippines as a sovereign, independent country. His simple equation is so easy to understand that even learned men surprisingly succumbed to it.  Who would now  understand about the principle that the courts would rather let the guilty go scot free than condemn an innocent to suffering, even death, hence the term, “guilty beyond reasonable doubt” for it is all lost to the President?  Who would understand now that addiction is a disease, a sickness that should be cured, not condemned to death? Nobody would believe that to get rid of addicts, we must stop the big time drug pushers for until now, none of the big time pushers, known as drug lords, have been put behind bars at the very least. Well, there is Leila de Lima but I think that she is more of a political detainee for having openly defied the powers that be. Addicts should be put to rehab for they are sick. We do not condemn to death a man sick of cancer, do we?  A very long, tedious process but the right thing to do. We now have a President whose understanding of God, religion and theology stopped when he was in Grade 4. In one of his speeches, he called God stupid for not doing anything as He was at the brink of death crucified on the cross. All these become palatable to a people who has undergone too much incompetence, greed for power and suffering.

The rains, no matter how strong it pours and how deep inundation it brings, shall stop, too. Duterte’s rise to power is relatively very fast. And he seems to be unstoppable now but the world has seen the downfall of even stronger men.  Idi Amin, Duvalier, Pol Pot and our very own, Marcos, met an ending they have never foreseen.  They all fell down and even harder than any man can endure.  The world works in very strange ways and maybe we are being taught a lesson for we never have learned after all these years. 


Sunday, April 21, 2019

An opal for my wonderful, beloved pal!

AS we celebrate my wife’s 63rd birthday, which is also, by her design, our wedding anniversary, we decided to do as we always did throughout the years.  Spend time together as a family. When the kids were just growing up, we used to take them to nearby Laguna, invite family and friends and have an overnight stay in a private pool. This was the time that the children were learning how to swim.  We did this until they grew old and we decided we have had enough and just have a staycation inside a luxurious, - at least within our concept of what is, affordable hotel and enjoy its amenities.  We have celebrated in Shangri-la in Mandaluyong, Crimson in Alabang, Nobu, Crowne Plaza to name a few.  This year, we decided to try nearby Ascott Hotel in BGC. During these staycations, I have always managed to write something about my wife and our marriage as a way of a gift to her.  I have kept them in my blog and you can review them hereherehere, and my favorite, here.

As I woke early the day after our celebration, I am once again tinkering with my computer trying to compose a little something for my beloved spouse.  I searched through the net and came to know that there is no traditional gift for the 34th as the charts only provided until the 20th. Could it be possible that those making the chart have foreseen marriages to last only until the 20th? If this were so, then, we could say that our marriage has withstood the test of time! I tried to reason some more and remembered there is the gold for the 50th, and the supposed chart even goes farther like diamond for the 75th -but who gets to live that long other than Methuselah, right? So, I have been thinking there must be something. A little research would yield something.  What do they celebrate the 34th with?

Opal! That is what it is!

Opal is thought to be derived from the Sanskit ‘upala’ meaning ‘precious stone’ which is also the Greek derivative ‘Opallios’ meaning to ‘see a change of color’.  How does one relate that to a loved one? Nitz is definitely and undeniably my precious stone. What about the changing of color? How do I relate that to her and our marriage?  Does she suddenly become a chameleon, changing color to camouflage her emotions? Does our marriage have to change color? But our relationship has been the color of happiness throughout the years. There is a saying that one does not fix that which is not broke! Then I realize, yes, people change and we are not an exception.  We have lived our lives almost to near perfection that I believe we have passed all the trials and tribulations sent along our way. We managed to have our children stay in school until they graduated in college and are now earning their keep.  We have finished paying the house mortgage and the house we live in is completely ours, we have even renovated it to suit our growing family (physically that is, not in number), have a good car for mobility, gone abroad either alone or with the whole family, etc.  Yes, it is possible that Nitz and our marriage could change color but only for the better.  We have proved ourselves as individuals and as a couple and it has been a wonderful ride through life and I am only happily fortunate that I had her as my companion during this journey.  I could not imagine taking it without her.  And  so, an opal it is for my everlasting love, my pal, my soulmate!

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Welcoming Baby Kauai

You must be intrigued with the title of this one. It is my title for a painting I have been doing which is actually a milestone of some sort. I had been thinking of joining one of the biggest art competitions for artists here in the country, the GSIS Art Competiion/ as has been first suggested by my former student, Penelope Pantola. During a watercolor convention I recently attended, I met with my classmate, Buds Convocar who was to deliver a talk on the state of the arts today and he also urged  me to join. As per his prodding, I got a copy of the forms to be filled out and submitted together with the artwork.

Last Saturday, I decided I would like to have a  go at it.  My first obstacle was how to get a quality canvas at a very short notice. After all, the submission of entries is on May 4 which is two weeks from now. My friend Tutit, from whom I have been getting my canvas can only make one after the   holy week.  Considering how meticulous my work is, that will be too late.  I was about to abandon the project when I remembered that another artist, Lander Blanza, also manufactures ready to paint canvases.  I contacted him if I can order one and how fast I could get it.  Initially he said Monday but the following day, he said it was ready for pick up. So that very instant, I took a bath and went to Las Pinas to get the canvas.

My next hurdle was what to paint and  how in heaven's name can I transform my work into mixed media as this was one of  the requirements to the representational category I plan to join in.  I  have never done mixed media before.  So, the following day, Monday, I went as early as 6 am to my my studio which is a short walking distance from home, sat in front of my canvas and just let my hand guide me.  As i worked, different layers of ideas came pouring in, one of which was  the color scheme.  I thought what if I went  for something like a chiaroscuro effect - a dramatic lighting effect made popular by Rembrandt?  Since I am at it, what could be a nice source of light? I decided it would be a baby at the lower center of the canvas. From that time on, I added more and more people.  And thus, "Welcoming Baby Kauai" came to fore.  Who is Kauai? He is my first grandson who is yet to be born soon, probably late April or early May.So, the next question is how to make the painting into a mixed media? I plan to glue plastic onto the painting. They shall be layered like they are the ones giving that transparent effect. i also plan  to paste sample music notations, a part of my poetry, a plastic which I got from Mamang's  abubots, to serve as a memory of her.  Probably some pins and anything associated with a baby. I will have to do some shopping soon.

I had been working for almost 8 hours everyday since Monday, a thing I never did before.  :I usually worked for five to six hours at the most given that I have to find time for gym and other things I had to do before. Right now, the painting is more than half finished.  Hopefully I can finish painting next Friday or even earlier and will have to dress it up on Monday after next and off it goes to GSIS.  I am praying that I shall be working on a winner this time! Keeping my fingers crossed.

In the meantime, my wife is celebrating her birthday and our 34th wedding anniversary today. Like the family always does, we shall be having a staycation at  a hotel, this time at the Ascott Hotel at BGC.  I wish her a happy birthday and a glorifying wedding anniversary.


I have finished the piece after two weeks as planned and have submitted it on the scheduled day of submission. As expected, there are about a thousand entries.  Hope Baby Kauai shall bring me luck as he brings joy to the whole family just by being who he is.  Here is a pic of the painting. 

Welcoming Baby Kauai
Mixed Medium
48" X 36"

Friday, March 08, 2019

The Voice of the People is God's(?)

Once again, my friend Rory Cortel, who is the Philosophy teacher in the school I worked for, has ignited an interest in me when he quoted Bishop Villegas when the latter said, "Are you going to betray your God by your  vote?" as having to mean that there is a "God vote" He further asks what if the God vote turns out corrupt?

I don't think I would agree that the two terms are one and the same.  While the former states freedom of choice, the latter categorically says there is a vote that is inspired by God.

In his fb post, I replied "Vox Populi, vox Dei" Or Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's  and to God the things that are God's" sort of asking which is more appropriate. These are concepts as old as time often used to argue during the time of elections.
"Vox populi, vox Dei"  simply means that the voice of the people (majority) is the voice of God meaning to say that the winning vote, as being the majority is tantamount to God having spoken on the notion that God will not will evil to win.  I do not agree with this concept. In his letter to Charlemagne, Alcuin said,   

Nec audiendi qui solent dicere, Vox populi, vox Dei, quum tumultuositas vulgi semper insaniae proxima sit.[

loosely translated, it says:

And those people should not be listened to who keep saying the voice of the people is the voice of God, since the riotousness of the crowd is always very close to madness

Jesus Christ caannot be any clearer when he said" Render unto Caesar..." and that is what I believe in.  I believe that God, in his own infinte  wisdom, will not interfere with the politics of man as one of His greatest gifts to mankind is free will.  I believe that He will let man decide his fate by letting him free to choose who shall lead him and where such leader shall take him.  God shall watch and wait how we shall act and react given the situation we are in and from there render judgment if we chose good over evil. 

Friday, January 18, 2019

Retirement: Are there other options?

As most of my friends already know, I retired from work last May.  It has been 8 months since I was last inside a classroom, teaching.  I: was excited then because the troubles I had working like commuting to and from school, lazy students, recording grades, planning for the week, etc... are over.  The first thing I wanted to do was to go far away from it all and I could only do that by traveling and travel I did.  I went to far away Brazil to join my daughter, Kim, and her husband, Renan. It is by far the farthest country I have ever been and I stayed there for almost two months.  A couple of months after my return to the country, I was on a plane again, this time to the US.  My first stop was Los Angeles. After ten days, I traveled to Oregon to attend a wedding, the event  that gave me the  idea to travel to the US again.  After the wedding, I went to the East Coast, my first time there.  While at the East Coast, I traveled to several States like New York, Maryland and Virginia.  I was supposed to visit a friend in  South Carolina but my body was a little tired from all that traveling.

Now that I am back in the country, I have not really been idle.  I have produced two oil paintings and several watercolors.  True to my original intention, I have been painting and sometimes did some writing.  So the options are still there. Unfortunately,, to my regret, while I have been painting and writing, I have not been doing these religiously as I should have been. Part of my routine is to go to the gym, exercise and try to stay fit.  However, this makes me very tired to go to the apartment/stiidio and paint. I only manage to paint at least two hours everyday as a consequence of having to go to the gym first.   This prompted me to reverse my schedule and work first in the morning then go to the gym around 5.  This scheme did not, however, improved my painting time.  I manage to wale up at around 5 am, walk my dog, Dookie, and sit if front of the tv.   Sitting in front of  the television is not a good idea.  I lose track of the time and before I know it, it is already 10 am.  This gives me only about an hour to paint as I have to go home and eat lunch.  Thereafter, I take a rest and sit in front to the television and lose track of time once more.  I manage to leave at around 3 pm and stop at around 5 pm as I have to take a bath and go to the gym.  This had been my habit and I am not happy.   I remember my friend, painter/sculptor, Omi Reyes, saying that he works eight hours a day, just like as if he was working for a company.

While musing in front of the tv, I begin to realize I miss having a regular job.  I miss having to wake up early in the morning, dress up and drive to school. Ironically, I miss the steady doldrums. of being an employee, the predictable day to day routine. I  miss being with young students, vibrant, innocent and mischievous.  I miss my friends terribly, our useless banters, exchanges of opinions and nonsensical idle talk. Most of all, I miss earning money for myself.  I miss receiving wages that make me afford to buy whatever I like.

It is for these reasons that I would like to once again enjoy being in the classroom even for only a short time.  How I wish I could do these things once more.  But then I know if God does not want me to that anymore, it will not happen.  Maybe there is a greater thing waiting for me.  Maybe the Art world is waiting for me.  That would not be a bad turn out for after all, it was originally what I wanted from the very start.