I have always thought that teaching is a thankless job. It had been told that many times. Now that I have retired, I was surprised how some of my students I got to befriend or even just met somewhere, (I always run into them making my children say,"Papa seems to know a lot of people") come up to me, say "hi" and even recount our days together working in the classroom.
Wednesday, September 21, 2022
Monday, September 05, 2022
On October 23, my wife and I embarked on a tour of Bacolod, Iloilo and Guimaras with our close friends. We have been friends with these guys since our much younger days. I was alone with the girls in Bacolood as the husbands are still working. They are going to join us in Iloilo on the fourth day.
Thursday, May 12, 2022
Once again, the Filipino people tried to exercise their right of suffrage. President Duterte's time has come to an end after six years. There were ten hopefuls for the Presidency and yet it boiled down to two contenders in the end. Leny Robredo and to my dismay, Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. the youngest son of the dictator who put the country to a terrible twenty year reign. The conjugal dictatorship as they say referring to him and his wife, Imelda whose lavish ways from whom came the word, imeldific!
Seems like the Filipino people never learned their lesson. Not only was I disappointed when Rodrigo Duterte, believed to be another strongman who would introduce discipline to the citizenry with his machismo and ungentlemanly ways, was, of course, a disappointment. None of his promises came to fruition. Not his war on drugs, inspite of the unprecedented killings of drug addicts (not the drug lords, but sadly, the addicts - victims of a vice as old as man) his promise to ride a ski boat carrying the Philippine flag to denounce China (the opposite happened with him practically begging China to annex the country) and a lot more.
It was a long fight for Robredo, believed to be the most honest of the candidates. Even my eldest daughter, Kraig, would attend her rallies and be among the throngs of people showing support for the woman candidate. But lo and behold, Marcos has done his assignment or should I say, his assignment was done perfectly for him. In a systematic historical revisionism done years before the election by trolls in tik tok and Facebook, the lazy Filipino believed the Marcos years to be the golden years. And so it came to pass, Marcos never attended any of the debates claiming he did not have to when in fact he knew he would not be able to parry the attacks on him and his family like what happened to him when he was shamed by Cayetano when he was running for Vice President. He had not presented a true platform of government but just his endless pronouncements of unity, however vague it would seem. And yet, he emerged as victorious.
Two days after, news last night said that BBM is putting Sarah to head the Department of Education! Looks like military training or ROTC will be making a comeback based on her earlier pronouncements during the campaign. What a waste that will be. I have undergone PMT in high school and 4 sems of ROTC and not learned anything except reenforcing my knowledge of what is left from right, a knowledge I have acquired even before I became a boy scout during elementary days. I have also witnessed corruption first hand witnessing first hand how lists of paid cadets were being prepared as ghost platoons. Payment was made to the officers i.e. the Commandant who was a military man.
Thomas Jefferson once said, "you deserve the government you elect." The problem with that statement is that it only holds true for those who voted for the winners. I will have to wait and see. When this new government fails, and there is a strong possibility it will fail miserably, one cannot say, "i told you so!" Sadly, we all have to go down as failures, yet again and suffer the consequences of a poor, misinformed electorate, (like the one heard in the market from a stall owner in response to the complaint that prices are too high, "everything will change as we are about to re experience martial law! Prices shall return to that era!"), those who probably believed the lies of historical revisionism, those who voted for popularity vs. credentials, etc. i cannot say we are doomed this early. I pray I was wrong all along. For now, all I can say is that I used my right and I know in my heart, I have chosen well but lost.
I have engaged in gambling a couple of times. I have lost thousands of pesos in poker so I know how to lose. I am a graceful loser. I know how to accept defeat. I shall concede when I know I have been defeated - but only in a clean game. If I get news that Marcos has cheated (I know he did technically) rigging the outcome of the elections, I shall fight tooth and nail to set it right.
Friday, April 22, 2022
It is needless to say that this house has seen better days. Allow me to reminisce the good old days and pay homage to the place and my friends. I have forged friendships with my peers, my neighbors, my kababata until I got married in 1985. There were the Vergaras, the children of my Social Studies teacher at La Consolacion in Caloocan, Mrs. Vergara whose family moved to Marikina several years ahead of us. I have befriended her children, Alex, Edwin and my then best friend, Rodney. Then there were the De La Fuentes, with Atty, De La Fuente, being the brother of Mrs. Vergara, who were our neighbors in Tugatog, Malabon. I believe it was them that gave my parents the idea of purchasing the lot and building our house in Marikina. Later on, I would be friends with the Cruzes - Candy, Bobot, Intoy, Cynthia and Willy. Rodney and I would hang out in their home until it was time for supper practically everyday. Their house would also be the party place nearly every weekend and teenagers from nearby subdivisions and elsewhere would come and party with us. I would always be there even if I never knew how to dance. I would just enjoy the company, drink a lot and chow on the food. Another house that we would frequently rummage was that of the San Juans with siblings Rosy, Nita, Becky, Dory, Helen and my drinking buddy, Jun.<
It was also in this house where I learned how to make the guitar cry by bending the string. I also learned what we used to call broken chords, which turn out to be more complicated chords like 9’s, diminish, sus and all that. I have broken many records trying to figure out how to play a certain tune. We tried to form a band but the lack of funds to purchase a complete set of instruments prevented that. We settled with the next best thing. We formed a singing group with Bong Navarro as our leader and Boy Requiestas as our manager. We did several gigs and even auditioned to then very famous noontime show, Ariel con Tina. My interest for music would progress from pop and rock to jazz and classical music later. I learned to further my painting skills in this house. My very supportive father helped me in stretching canvasses and encouraged me much. He was even able to get several commissions and I happily obliged. Marikina housed several paintings I did starting from copying Readers’ Digest covers that my father read until I was already making my own when I enrolled and finished Fine Arts at the University of the East.
This was the house where I had experienced my lowest, too. During my third year in Mapua, I learned to hate my teacher and started playing hooky everyday until the end of the year. As a consequence, I had to repeat the year and no school in Manila would accept me. My father then sought the help of a relative Mabini del Carmen, then professor of English in St. Paul San Miguel, Bulacan. I was given a another chance there and learned how to stand up from my stupid educational stupor. It would be smooth sailing from then on. I could not thank my Ate Bini enough. I would later on learned about her and her family in Facebook and got to meet her everytime I went to LA.
Unfortunately, when my father died, my mom had to close down the store managed by my father when he retired from the American President Lines. Tthe Marikina I grew up in has changed and it changed a lot! It is now full of houses and I would not know the people there except for the friends of my siblings, Renie and Becky , who congregated in our home, playing either mah jong or tongits. All my friends have moved on now. Some of them have even passed on. To my regret, I can only get to communicate with the Cruzes, especially Cynthia. They helped form who I am today. I would not have enjoyed my youth as much if it were not for these great friends.
As we counted the money as payment for the house, I can’t help but be emotional. This is my entire youth that I have sold. I have sold the legacy left by my parents but I could not help it. Nobody would be able to take care of it as it is close to collapsing after fifty one years of existence and practically decades of neglect. Rather than seeing it be ruined by time, I had to let go. So, all I can do is lament its loss, and feel the agony of a part of me die!
As I have said, today marks our 37 years of married bliss. Well, a blissful relationship is ideal and I cannot say that our marriage is truly blissful. Sometimes we get to argue and argue we do to our heart's content. No marriage is without squabbles, true, but we never fought like we hated each other. More often, it would be the usual spat between couples but we always made up and we will be laughing at each other again. A professor in college once told our class that we only live once. Why would a couple choose to live in hell with the spouse rather than going their separate ways? That makes perfect sense to me. Hence, i vowed to myself that if my choice for a wife would turn out to be the wrong person, I will not make it hard for myself or for her to live in misery our entire lives. It turned out that I have been very lucky. I have picked the right one and I try hard for her to think that she also made the right choice.
An alabaster to represent our years of togetherness is verry apt. It is a material that is soft enough for a well crafted artist to turn it into a fine work of art. That describes our marriage. Our relationship is founded on trust and faith in each other like we have been forming this strong, beautiful relationship until we have made our marriage into a priceless jewel of the highest kind, a true work of art! I love this woman to the moon and back! I love you, Nitz Delos Santos!
Thursday, August 12, 2021
I was asked by PGW President, Pinky Peralta, to write about our annual exhibit, Hues of Hope which she intends to be submitted to newspapers and perhaps, magazines. I wrote it last night, August 11 and finshed it this morning.
In 2016, a set of young, very promising artists, linked by their love for an art medium reputedly to be the hardest one of all – watercolor, decided to form a group that would, among others, introduce the public to the medium. This is not an easy task as there is just a very limited audience who is also partial to the more popular classics done either in oil or acrylic. We have never known a watercolor painting to be an end in itself. We always thought that watercolor is, at best, a preliminary work, a study on color harmony and composition for a much bigger opus. This is understandable simply because the common tao is not attuned to the idiosyncrasies of the said medium. In a country that does not see the aesthetic value of modern art, in spite of the fact that it has been with us since the 19th century rendering this genre anachronistic, hence, it is less likely for them to understand the fluidity of colors, the looseness of style, with various hues bleeding and oftentimes applied out of the line as we were told to do when we were young as characteristics of watercolor painting. Present, too, are several misconceptions, i.e. it is not as lasting as oil or acrylic simply because it is put on paper and not on canvas, it fails to stand the test of time as oil or acrylic does rendering it a cheap art form.
Notwithstanding the odds, this group of idealistic watercolorists prevailed and after a year, the founder and President of the International Watercolor Society or IWS, Mr Atanur, took notice and invited them to be a part of the international organization. Encouraged, they took it as an opportunity to invite more people to join and the organization grew bigger. Several years thereafter, the organization took a refining and in 2020, in the hopes of a much needed hegira, underwent a reorganization, ratified a new Constitution and By Laws, voted a new set of Board of Directors and eventually, its officers. Thus, the Philippine Guild of Watercolorists or PGW is born.
Among the activities embarked by PGW include seminars and workshops, plein-air sessions and exhibits to name a few. The membership has grown and now include a good mix of newbies, mostly professionals who have been long time aficionados and those who have just picked up the brush trying their hand on a new hobby mixed with professional painters who enjoy the camaraderie brought about by the association, learning other ways to express themselves using the medium. The group also has a pool of Filipino masters called Honorary Members, who will be there to offer guidance and inspiration.
The group has gone a long way from its inception to the present. As a community of artists bound by their pursuit to explore and promote watercolor, the group met once a month at the GSIS, invited practitioners of the medium to make demonstrations and have the participants paint based on what they have learned that day until Covid 19 came. The pandemic did not deter the enthusiasm of the group,, though. Meetings were conducted via zoom where the officers hatched different ways to benefit its membership. During the first year of the pandemic, the organization launched the Kwentuhan series whereby invited professional watercolorists were interviewed kwentuhan style. Thereafter, these professionals made a demonstration of their techniques. The series ended with an online exhibit at the end of the year capping it with a catalogue of all the entries coupled by a narrative of the artists talking about their craft and their experiences doing their exhibited painting.
Once again, the Philippine Guild of Watercolorists, will be launching another show entitled Hues of Hope. Scheduled to have its annual exhibit on September 2 – 30, 2021, at the LRI Design Plaza, the organization decided to kick it up a notch. This year, it has been decided to do a juried exhibit whereby all entries shall undergo the scrutiny of a jury, not of their peers – yet - but those so-called masters. The term masters cannot be underplayed for they are truly respected in the field here and abroad. The illustrious jury include: Ze Ze Lai, Praful Sawant, Eudes Correia and our very own, Cid Reyes and Ferdinand Isleta. To encourage its members to join, as if the honor of having ones work put on display at the famous LRI gallery is sufficient reason to brag about, the organizers turned the exhibit into a friendly competition among the members with a bag prize of Php50, 000 for the champion. The month long exhibit shall be filled with different activities like live demos of different watercolor styles and virtual ones conducted by international masters, seminars on copyright, how to market ones paintings, etc.
Why Hues of Hope? Why not? There are a lot of reasons why the group has turned painting in watercolor an avenue for optimism. The hobby of painting is therapeutic especially witnessed by the newcomers who found solace in painting as a means to while away the time during the lockdowns and NECQ’s or never ending community quarantines. Some of them have begun selling their masterpieces to friends and surprisingly, strangers who discovered their art making their hobby an even more worthwhile enterprise. Lastly, the organization has encouraged its members to join international competitions in which, once more to their surprise, their works were accepted. While a member has yet to win a major prize abroad, this endeavour paved the way for our watercolorists to be known and have the country be recognized as a true hub of well-known watercolorists. Truly, this exhibit provides a lot of hope and positivity amid uncertainty and turmoil brought about by the pandemic.
A River's Burden
Watercolor on Arches Paper
15 X 22 inches
Wicked is a powerful, negative word. As such, anything related to it, either directly or indirectly, is seen in a bad light and frowned upon. So why would ten artists embarking on a show opted to be identified with the word wicked? Simple – it is a word and as such, changes its meaning as it did several years ago. Words as single units of a language tend to change their meaning because these are the results of an evolving culture. As man uses the spoken word, its meaning continuously changes according to his/her circumstances and experiences unlike Latin, the only dead language, there is. As the word gay, for example, used to mean happy but now means a sexual persuasion a person has, the word wicked has changed its meaning to the younger generation as simply “awesome”. For example, "That new spaceship launched this afternoon cost a billion dollars and was made with top of the ine materials! It’s really wicked!”
Wicked abstraction showcases ten individuals as they continue their artistic journey laying bare their only passion which is painting. They have developed their own personal styles and are now at the brink of experimenting on a different path which leave their individual selves in a manner that threatens to expose their vulnerabilities as they bare their very souls. Each individual has toiled hard to express himself/herself in a way that is devoid of any exigencies or pressures from outside sources and without any inhibitions. True to the maxim ars gratis artis, a time honored principle that means art for art’s sake, these free thinking individuals worked on their ouvers without any care in the world armed only with their intuitions expressing their truth , their individuality and aesthetic ideals quietly hoping to create fanfare nevertheless. Hence, it is the art works that are their own excuse for being, the mere raison d’etre if you would and nothing more. No high-falluting, intelligent arguments that is usually, in reality, pretentious and a sham that could let any naïve individual be sucked in. No! There won’t be any child shouting “the King is naked!” this time for they have been unselfish in showing everyone their true selves. A coming out of age, like the first buds of a flower peaking at the light of the glorious sun for the first time. A blossoming during springtime, when the leaves of a plant are dampened wet by the morning mists and when bees and butterflies kiss the flowers unwittingly pollinating them to bear fruit. Such serendiipity as nature works not only for our pleasure but our very sustenance. With this collection of works, these artists seem to prove that positivity springs eternal. At this time, we can safely say we have seen their strongest and weakest side during their artistic journey and that is truly “wicked!”