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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A pearl as white as snow!

I am having mixed emotions right now.  I am both in ecstasy but at the same time sad.  First, the whole family has just got back from a three day respite at Pico de Loro to celebrate my wife's birthday and our 30th wedding anniversary.

First, living with the woman I love for thirty years n all these years, we have produced a loving family as we bred four angels who are now grown ups and have joined the work force.  They are now trying to find their own niches in a world full of drudgeries and sham but we are sure that they can weather any storm as we believe we have raised them well. 

What does it mean to be married for thirty years? It means a lot! It means that the children are all grown up by now and possibly having grandchildren running around the house by then.  Well, not in our case, at least for now.  The perfect gift for this time is a pearl.  After all, it is known as the pearl anniversary.  For many years, pearls have  been considered to be the most valuable.  It is an organic gem as it is derived from a living creature.  An irritant comes into an oyster or mollusk which then produces a "nacre" or what we call a "mother of pearl" that will produce either that black white smooth substance. 

I have tried to purchase a real pearl not knowing how costly they could be.  Needless to say that I was really disappointed that I could not buy my wife a simple luxury.  However, I didn't feel I have lost the battle just yet.  I found the next best thing. I could still buy my wife pearls which are not as expensive.   I found south sea pearls which I bought with Kim.  And so during the eve of my wife's birthday, the whole family had a fantastic dinner at the hotel where I gave her my gift.  She seems to be pleased with it.  And surprisingly enough, she also had something for me which turned out to be a Pierre Cardin wrist watch.   So you see, we can celebrate, too sans the fanfare of really expensive gifts.  What is important is that we are all together as one happy family. 

Talking about unity as a family, while my wife and I knew that we will not have our children by our side forever, I was still caught off guard when my second daughter announced that she will be leaving for Brazil to join her boyfriend.  While it will only be for three months at the most, I know that losing my children has started.  They are all grown up now and will soon leave the nest that my wife and I tried to build over the years.  One by one, they shall flap their tiny wings and fly. All I can do is watch and pray that they could fly the highest mountain or even conquer the heavens as they do. 

Just like a pearl symbolizes a tear from the moon, my gift to my wife are my tears for years past, the glory days and those times when I was at my weakest.  Where have all the years gone?  They are forever etched in my heart and in my mind as I recall the years when we were still struggling to build a family. We hope that we have taught them well and continue a legacy of simplicity, humility, perseverance coupled with hard work and patience with each other.  AS my daughter leaves tonight, I bid her goodbye and send her a kiss that shall be eternally hers until death. 


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Friday, February 13, 2015

a village raising the child

            It is interesting that in a far-flung village in Africa there exists a philosophy that I think is filled with wisdom that I take to be entirely correct.   There is this saying in Nigeria: "It takes a whole village to raise a child!" For me, this is a sound belief that is as loud as the clanging of the huge bell of an ancient church announcing to the town that mass will start soon.  This belief could have been spawned by very observant elderlies of the village watching a pride of lions, composed of sisters, as they share in taking care of the young.  This system is seen especially when it is time to hunt.   The cubs shall be left to one female lion who is an aunt, while the others hunt for food.    So too is it true in the wild forests of America or in Europe where a pack of wolves live. For wolves, only the alpha male and the alpha female are allowed to mate; bear pups and those with lower ranks share in taking care of them.  What they would do is hunt, eat the food and regurgitate it to the young on their return.  This sharing responsibility of taking care of the young is also the reason why ant and bee colonies thrive around the world.  I have been thinking, if this is true anywhere, then this should be a universal truth, don’t you  think?

 There is a big problem brewing at Ayala Alabang Village where De La Salle Zobel school is located.  Traffic congestion has always been a perennial problem in any locality where there is a school.  I have been going to Greenhills every Thursday, once a month to attend a meeting and I know it is a commuters’ nightmare that from one to four in the afternoon, cars occupy at least two lanes waiting for students to be dismissed.  This chaotic problem where there are schools is true everywhere and Ayala Alabang is not immune to it. 

This traffic situation has never been a problem before but De La Salle, as one of the country’s leading schools in providing quality education, has grown dramatically both in its physical layout and enrolment size.   With La Salle’s stance of keeping up with global standards, more and more parents are investing their children’s education to the said school.    In return, De La Salle, in its effort to make its brand of education available to as many students as possible, could not close its doors to worthy students regardless of whether they are residents of the village or not.   The increase in enrolment is the root cause of the traffic situation, or so they say. 

It is easier to blame the traffic situation on the escalating number of passers-by.  It is always so easy to point a finger on a single culprit.  As a matter of fact, it is the most convenient.  However, on closer inspection, this may not necessarily be correct at all times.  While it is true that traffic congestion can be attributed to sheer volume alone, I believe there are other factors involved that contributed to the mayhem.   Before this nightmare, there were more roads available to the commuters.   There were streets such as Maria Cristina, Agno, Pantabangan, Ambuklao, etc. which could be used to get to Zobel.  However, these streets were closed one by one to commuters bound for Zobel which left only Madrigal and Acacia roads open to University Avenue as the only ingress and egress to the school.  Naturally, these roads will not be enough during rush hours which will be from 7:30 till 8:00 in the morning and 3:30 till 4:00 in the afternoon. 

With all this traffic turmoil, the Ayala Alabang Village Association (AAVA) Board of Governors has only De La Salle Zobel to blame, not as the main source but the only “culprit” and hence made all it deems as necessary measures to only refer to the school albeit the fact that there are more schools  inside the village.  As such, the Board has made several demands “suggestions” to the school to help ease the traffic to which Zobel has willingly complied even if it had to spend millions of pesos.  I would like to spare you the details and make the long story short.  The Board claims that none of the solutions adapted by the school worked and as a final solution, will implement a color-coding scheme on vehicles coming to and from De La Salle Zobel.

                The color-scheme the AAVA Board wants to implement is, at the very least, impractical to downright ridiculous.  First of all, why implement the scheme when there are barely two months left in the school year? Granting in arguendo that it has been the plan since June as alleged by the Board, nevertheless, to have it implemented today will not serve any purpose but cause a lot of trouble and mayhem to our young students.  The residents, who the Board alleges to be complaining about the traffic, have already managed to bear with the discomfort for practically the whole year -  two more months would cost nothing more than what they have already suffered.    Secondly, the plan needs to be studied more.  In the proposed scheme, there will be cars which will be allowed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, a total of three days; while on the other hand, the others will only be allowed on Tuesdays and Thursdays!  That is totally unfair.   Why will there be students who are blessed with more days to come and study than the others?  On what basis shall a non-resident car owner be awarded a three day slot?  Who decides who will be given a sticker that will allow access to the roads of AAVA on those three  days?

              It  takes the entire village to raise a child.  There is wisdom in that adage.  A child may not be born completely in tabula rasa form but nevertheless, it grows into the kind of environment it lives in.  As such, every child is our responsibility.  We cannot complain about that drug dependent menace or that village thug that constantly disturb the peace.  They are that way because they lived in an antagonistic and uncaring society.  We cannot just blame their parents for raising them that way.  We let them down.  They are our responsibilities.  Should we deprive the little ones in our care of education and have them witness how terrible we treat one another? It takes an entire village to raise a child.  We are trying to raise our future leaders and raise them differently than how our present leaders have been brought up.  Should we let a minor discomfort that lasts for barely thirty minutes be the bane of our existence? Or should we consider our small sacrifice be our contribution to nation building?  To me, the choice is obvious. I hope it is with you, too.   










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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

South Korea, the third time

The prospect of going to another country for the third time might seem less exciting.  Of course, the first jitters of travelling to a new country is no longer there. My first visit to the country was as  a tourist in June of 2008.  It was the second country we visited via the credit cooperative of DLSU.   The second time was as an emissary of the school and companion to then DLSZ President Br. Dennis Magbanua and then Cultural Arts Director, Ms. Lani Maderazo.  Having been to a place twice would seem like you've seen it all and that it has nothing new to offer anymore.  However this was not what I felt on my third trip to South Korea.  I still had the jitters for, believe it or not, it will set several milestones for me.

1.  This is the first time I am going to experience real winter.  In all my trips to Canada, (I have been there four times) it hhas always been spring time.  That is because vacation time in the Philippines falls on that lovely season.  I cannot complain. Spring for me is the best season the northern hemisphere has to offer.  My last visit was in 2012 when I was (lucky me) gifted by my niece, Rommella Moss, who is now a councilor in that little paradise known as Kaslo with yet another tour of BC but (even luckier me) only after I have made a trip to LA and San Francisco with that harrowing experience at the airport enroute to Canada.  In all these times, my chilling experience was only in the higher than 0 degrees temperature.  My   first winter and  experience below zero was in Beijing in 2010 with Nitz, my two daughters, Kuya Ben with his wif, Ate Lilia and their son, Jan, Gregor and Leslie.  The coldest was at minus 2 and it was only late November.  So there was no snow yet.

2.  This is the first time I will not be using a tour guide and commuting in an unknown city.  All throughout my travel, I have been pickedup from the airport and has been toured either by a friend who resides in the area and driving a car  or by an official tourist guide.  This time, we only have Kim's friend, Kaite and her boyfriend, Evgeny who is a Russian born Korean, who are both in the country on a study grant.   

This is the first time that instead of being picked up at the airport by a car, we are riding the train.  There are many airports where you can ride a train to the city.  There's Malaysia, Singapore, Japan and other cool destinations.  Not in Manila though.  Maybe  if and when we transfer the airport to, say, Clark.  But that would be a long time coming. 

3. Most of all, this is the first time we are traveling as a family.  While we have made trips abroad individually, and that I have traveled with my wife alone and with our two daughters, this is the first time that my sons are joining us on a tour.  This is really what made this trip special. Not every family has experienced traveling as one.  We have been blessed and we are taking this blessing and enjoy it while we can.  Soon, the children will have their own family and it will be just me and my wife, the same way when we started.  I am just happy that we were able to do this and hoping this is not going to be the  last time.


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Saturday, November 22, 2014

I am blessed!  I can say that with confidence because of too many things that affirm that statement.  I have very young friends who, despite my age, are willing to do things with me.  I am about to retire from work which I could not call work because I enjoy doing it.  It seems so effortless now.  It should be. I have been working for the same institution for thirty years and I think I already know the ropes.  There is no position that I cannot handle, I think.  I can go back to the classroom anytime. I had been thinking about it.  The only thing that keeps me from resigning from my post is that I like the free time.  I do things my own way.  I don't keep schedules.  I hate doing that.

I am blessed because I work in a school where there are lots of young people. Teachers and students alike are very young and somehow, their enthusiasm, vigor, energy rubs on me.  It is truly invigorating being with young people.  And so, I have deferred going with people my age.  I shall reserve that for retirement.  In the meantime that I can be with the young generation, and as long as I am tolerated, I shall try to be with them all the time. 

My life has been ironical.  When I was a teen ager, I wanted to be an adult so fast that I mixed up with older men and women.  I was in high school and I hang out with those who were already in  college.  Now, it is the reverse.  I am the oldest in any group I hang out with.  Short of saying I cannot be with my own tribe.  But what can I do? I only do things I truly enjoy.  I don't give a rat's ass what other people think.  I do not let anyone dictate who I shall go out with, what I should be wearing or what I shall be doing.  But my age is gaining on me, way too fast.  When I started working here in school, my younger friends would call me Kuya Rolly, an older brother.  Later, it would be Tito Rolly, uncle.  Today, my young female friends call me Sir Rolly or those who are very close Tatay, father!  I don't think I would stay and wait till someone calls me Lolo, grandpa. 

Last night, I attended a concert by a group called Up Dharma Down. As expected, the place was teeming with young people.  I can't help myself feeling old.  I was once these teen agers, dancing and jumping and shouting at concerts.  What fun! Anybody who has not experienced that has missed out on a lot of things. 

Lastly, I am blessed with a very understanding wife and four very responsible children.  I think we raised them well. Me and my wife really make a good team.  Well, basically my wife.  She is the more responsible between the two of us.  She is more determined and has more focus.  Anyway, our children, now that they are all grown up and has entered the adult world, have shown signs of good parenting.  They know how to share, help one another and are really very close.  The other week, I decided that I am going to take my wife out on a date.  It is something we seldomly do. Anyway, when Mickey learned about it, he decided on something which surprised me! He was already having dinner when I announced I was going to pick up his mom. (The other children  were still out).  He asked me to wait then went upstairs.  Then gave me 2 grand and said, "Here, spend this for your date!" I told him I had money and just save it for the family when he decides to give a treat.  But he insisted. Now that made me feel really good.  All of my children have been sharing their blessings with the family. No exceptions.  I so love them all.  What more can one ask for?  I am truly blessed!

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Saturday, November 08, 2014

new works

Anticipated Vibrations
oil on canvas
30" X 30"

Stop right now, thank you very much
oil on convas
15" X 20"
owner :  Ms. Rose Garcia

Academic Plunge
oil on canvas
15" X 20"
owner: Mr. and Mrs. Manny Magahis

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Sunday, October 05, 2014


Last night, I was contacted by my friend Henry asking if I wanted to join him in watching another play at the PETA theater.  The first time we went there was to watch the Rock (or was it spelled Rak?) of Aegis.  While some of the humor in that play escaped me (maybe because of my age) and notwithstanding the fact that I am not an Aegis fan, I did enjoy the show. So, without any ifs or buts, I decided to give a Filipino play another try.  This time it was entitled FNL, a play written by Rody Vera.

The play starts with a Filam, raised (even probably born) in the States, having a dream about Florante and Laura which albeit the fact that he could neither speak nor understand Filipino, was struck with a Tagalog word "linggatong". His parents are getting ready to take him back to the Philippines as they have gone bankrupt.  Like a typical narrow-minded Filipino living in the States, they believe their son would be their saving grace with his chances of being a rap star  strong with the knowledge that Filipinos love anything Stateside.

Meanwhile, the female protagonist, Flor, who works at a call center who can talk English with an American twang also has suddenly got an attack of Filipino words which is so ancient that none of her colleagues (or the audience for that matter) could understand.  Both protagonists will discover that they share the same affliction of losing themselves and reciting words uncontrollably. It turns out that her patriotic father was   taking possession of her soul while Lance, by Balagtas himself.

Personally, I find depth with the story as it tackles the complexity of our nature as part of the human race.  Our language has not only been outshined by a language of oppressors but has also developed into several dialects ingeniously created by sub cultures like bekimon and jologs talk. The writer's genius is shown by his expertise in handling these languages and pointing out his main thesis of language being the only way that can unite us. This he did without being preachy but, as true to our nature,  with humor. Another aspect I found to be witty was the addition of a lesbian lover of Flor who would recite a poem in English albeit without feelings or emotions implying that while we use the english language for intellectual discourse, it is only in our native tongue that we can feel emotions.

While the thespians of Rak sang a lot better (understandably so for afterall it was purely a musicale than anything else) the songs are not bad and the singers are alright.  My main beef, if I would be allowed to nitpick, is that the humor in both plays rely on contemporary events which given a few months or years will have to be reinvented, otherwise would not work.  Case in point, in Rak, there was this reference to the Vhong Navarro case where the actor was asked "to bring foods".  As the popularity of the issue has waned, the audience did not find it funny anymore.  In effect, a play like this does not become immortal but only relevant today.  Also, while I am not homphobic, it uses gay humor which I feel seems to be ubiquitous in every comedy we have.  In fairness, the play's use of gay humor is justified as it uses gay lingo as one of those dialects that "bastardized" (not my idea but, for me, is the premise of the story).

Nonetheless, I truly enjoyed FnL as it tackles a subject close to my heart. That there are still Filipinos who think that English is better and that anything Stateside is worthy to mull over - that English is far better than our own simply because it is the medium of instruction. That those who speak English well is much more intelligent than those who could not.  With our true identity being lost, as observed by Lance that while he could speak english well, is lost as he could  pass as neither American, African-American nor even a Latino back in the States and a true Filipino here in the Philippines.  It just brings to mind Filipino households trying to rear their children in English but do not have the time to train their children and leave them to their nannies making their children good in neither languages. Too bad, if you ask me.

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

School Rules

(This post is my own personal opinion and it holds no other purpose but to express my sentiments)

I get it. School rules are necessary and should be followed to the letter.  Rules are issued to instill  discipline among the members of the school community, be it for the students or the faculty alike.  Discipline is "the desired and/or expected norm of conduct." The importance of having rules is clearly enunciated in the case of DLSU vs. CA where the court, in stressing its importance  said : "the essential establishment of rules...may be regarded as vital, not merely to the smooth and efficient operation of the institution, but to its very survival." The court could not be any clearer than that.

Rules are an integral part of schools for their smooth operation.  They are imposed to establish to provide order and  harmony among each member.  Imagine a world where there are no rules. Each one will be acting on his/her own regardless of whether or not such an action is to the detriment of someone, especially another person in the community. Eventually, there will be nothing but chaos. Even the universe has its own rules or laws, the very reason why we live the way we do.

In order for rules to be effective, they should have teeth.  A rule that is ignored is inutile.  However, to make rules really earn its teeth, they have to be known by every member and that there should be a clear reason for their imposition  -  one must not run in the hallways, this is not a playground and one could get hurt;  one should take or use somebody else’s property without permission of the owner – that would be stealing.  There should be a clear reason why this or that is forbidden.  It could either be harmful for the doer or to somebody else.

When the rules are clear and the reason for its imposition is known and accepted, there will be no problem. However, sometimes, rules can be as abstract and unclear.  When this happens, each one can have their own interpretation until it becomes a free-for-all which only brings more confusion rather than enlightenment.

There are  rules which could be obscure to the point of being illogical to the members of the organization.  Often, these rules are viewed as whimsical or capricious as the members do not understand why this is being implemented.  Examples of these could be  the rule on hair color, or one's choice in clothes when a standard uniform is not required.   Let us take hair color for example.  What if there was a rule forbidding someone to teach with his/her hair dyed blonde?  Following the logic posed earlier, it could be assumed that this is so because blonde hair is bad.  But why? Often, they say, "this" is not a teaching hair color - if there is something like that.  What if the person is a natural blonde? He/She shoud not teach because she possesses bad hair.  But is this right? Can one not teach effectively because the color of his/her hair is not the prescribed one? Should the person color his/her hair black because that is the accepted hair color for teachers - in the Philippines, at least?  Why is it bad to have blonde hair in the first place? Does it hamper one’s thought processes? Does that impair a person's judgment? Is it too jarring for students that they cannot follow the lesson because the teacher’s hair is not "au naturel"?

Sadly, these are unacceptable because they do not follow the wishes one, if not all, in the administration.  They probably think this does not display good taste? Just because most Filipino hair is black, we assume that any other hair color is not acceptable? Is this not just a matter of opinion? This fact goes with the choice of clothes and the like.  I have been poring over this and came to one conclusion.  It is bad enough when a person forces his/her own morality on another.  It is even worse when one dictates his/her own personal tastes on anyone.   Just as I do not adhere to censorship, I do not want others meddling with my personal life.   I may not be cool in my choices of clothes, or they may frown on the food that I eat for these are too oily and dangerous to my health or they may not like how I behave in public. But as long as I am not a risk to someone, I don’t care! I am proud that I can be  who I am.  My personal tastes are my own. Allow me to enjoy my freedom. Let me suffer the consequences of my choices.   I  made them on my own.  To standardize such would be synonymous to animals,  who, after having engaged in a mating ritual, returns to the anonymity of the flock.  That is not me. I want to retain my identity wherever I go at any time in my life.  And so, unless the harming consequences of these rules can be explained to me with clarity and with a very convincing argument, I say let me be! 

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Twenty years of teaching must sure amount to something. A new friend in cyberspace suggested I ought to have a journal by now. I agree.

Taken by my friend Arlene Lawson in her room at Century Park Sheraton in May, 2000.
Posted by Hello
Location: Bambang, Pasig City, Philippines

Jack of all trade, master of none. First a disclaimer. My students have discovered this blog and they might think that what I write is gospel truth. Worse is they might find an argument that they think they can use, for some reason or another, against their teachers. So, to set the record straight, it is NOT. As a matter of fact, I write and open it to feedback to get another view in the hope that somebody would tell me if I am wrong and reenforce my thinking if it is right. Not that I will accept anything thrown my way, though. Just so I can think about it some more and decide whether my original stance is right or definitely off tangent. So there. I hope that clarifies everything. Now, on to blogging.

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