Thursday, May 31, 2007

It must be in the blood!

Let me talk about my nephew (actually he is my apo already as he is the son of my niece but who would like to be called lolo, eh?)

I don't recall anymore when I've seen the boy last. Must have been two or three years ago. Anyway, when I first saw him much earlier, he was a little toddler learning to play the recorder. They were still living in Czechoslovakia then as my niece was finishing her dissertation. I never heard him play, though, as he did not bring his recorder with him.

The second time they came to visit, my niece,(her mom - now I have to explain that part,hehehe), who incidentally sponsored my son's violin which he still uses today, told me he was trying to play the guitar. So, when I saw them in my sister's house, I brought my guitar to listen to him play. However, I did not really get to see what his potential was (naks, like as if I can spot it right away, huh? "Will he be my protege?" hahaha) either because 1. my guitar was so big for him; 2. he was still too shy to really be at it; 3. his mind was too preoccupied with the computer game her mom brought with them; or 4. all of the above. Not that I doubt his capability to learn how to play the instrument. All he has to do, like any other human being, is to put his heart into it and practice a lot. After all, I knew at the time that he was into the arts. I have seen his paintings before. Yes, he also paints. Now, that is not surprising as his namesake is a very famous impressionist - Cezanne. We fondly call him Ces.

I got an email from my niece who now resides in the States with her husband, that her child, a grade 5 pupil, now plays the cello. As if I was asking for a proof, she sent me this picture.

Now, there are two people in the family who plays in the orchestra! Well, never mind that he gets his good looks from moi! He is a talent to be honed and discovered. Mstislav Rostropovich, move on.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

My little girl is now a grown-up!

I had to attend a seminar on Labor Management today in one of the buildings at T. M. Kalaw. As it was just the start of a two-day seminar, the topic was a bit light and a little old. We've learned about the rudiments of communication before. But I must admit, the speaker was very lively and contagious that if I was to rate the seminar, I'd say it's an 8 with 10 as the highest.

This blog is not about the seminar, though, as the title suggests. It's about my eldest daughter. She's a marketing major and is now employed in one of the offices in Makati. Since they are having a show of their product starting tomorrow, she had told me and my wife that she'll be coming home late tonight. Thinking that I can get a ride from Kalaw to Makati, I decided to fetch her and be at ease that she'll go home safe. I called her up to tell her that I am coming so that we can go home together. At first, she said what was I to do there? She would be late and I might get impatient as it was only 6 pm. I told her not to worry and assured her that I would not be in her way. She wouldn't even notice I was there, so to speak.

When I got to the place, she sat me on the sofa and left. I read my book prepared for the long wait. As I sat there, I can see her busily doing her chores and I just thought, "my girl is no longer the child I carried in my arms, fed and took to school." Somehow, I felt a strong feeling of accomplishment as I watched her trying to earn a living. I may terribly miss my baby girl but she has grown to be a responsible woman. We are simple folks with simple dreams and seeing her in a workplace is something me and my wife can truly be proud of.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The test of time!

Ask anyone how long thirty years is and surely, they'll say it's a very long time. However, ask the same question to someone who has spent it wisely and undoubtedly, he/she will say it is quite short. I have spent twenty three years in the same school where I teach and believe me, it seems like it was just yesterday when I first stepped into its grounds. Sure, a lot of people have come and gone. Hundreds of students have graduated and yet, endless as they come, each one is unique that I will never tire of teaching. Twenty two years is not different from thirty, forty or even fifty years spent in a school setting. Each year poses a new challenge and as I put a conclusion on each challenge, I breathe openly and thank God I have survived.

Last Saturday, my wife received a plaque of appreciation for her thirty years of service. She also serves in the same university system I work in albeit in a different campus. She had served five presidents, worked in about four departments and had seen the whole campus grow. She had befriended a lot of people who still continues to be her friends. "Thirty years in service and yet it seems like a very short time," she said.

When she announced that she will be given a recognition in the Staff Awards, she requested that MIckey and I give an intermission number. I had other plans. Since my son had been playing with the symphony orchestra, I opted to surprise her by asking my son to request some of his friends to play with him instead. His friends acceded and one even arranged her favorite "Ang Tangi Kong Pag-ibig" piece for violin, viola and a clarinet. Suffice to say that my wife was ecstatic and felt very proud as she watched her son play like a pro.

As I went up the stage to pin her medal, I was proud that my wife has shown dedication to service which rings true to the way she has shown dedication to our marriage, our children and the entire household. It was like showing the world that we are a family to be trusted because we are always committed to our cause and every purpose or goal we set our minds to. I am very proud of my wife who, in spite of my eccentricities, has learned to put up with me, given me more than enough encouragement in every endeavor that I undertake. As the years progress, I have learned how dedicated she is with her mother, her children and more importantly, to me. As a lover, she is a hopeless romantic. Read this to see my point. You'll love the story. No medal or any award would have been sufficient accolade to this woman I love and will love for ever until kingdom come and beyond.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

God bless her soul

I was on the computer last night when the news about the death of one Nelly Banaag, a public school teacher serving as a member of the Board of Elections Inspectors in Taysan, Batangas was aired. She, together with Leticia Ramos, a poll watcher, died when the school they were in was allegedly burned by two men.

Six others were wounded during the fire, including Banaag's daughter Ritchel and the chair of the BEI, teacher Sally Villena. Villena is currently confined at Our Lady of Mediatrix Hospital and is reportedly in good condition.

DepEd secretary Jesli A. Lapus condemned the dastardly act and announced that he has ordered the immediate processing of teacher benefits for Banaag and Villena.

We will exhaust all measures to provide all the benefits due to the
family of the deceased... It's the least we can do for her and those she had left behind.

Taachers are looked at with respect and high esteem in other cultures and yet, here in our country, they are being disparaged for being miserable, unprofessional, selling tocino concurrently with teaching, often looked down to by rich folks when they cross paths like when their child received a low grade or being suspended for a wrong deed, etc.

The teacher's fate is even more degraded during elections when arrogant politicos or their goons accuse them of cheating. And to think they are ready to risk life and limb just to protect the sanctity of the ballot. Never mind that they can barely make both ends on the paltry sum they receive. Never mind that they have to work late just to make sure they have done their job. But at least show them respect. They are heroes worthy of the highest accolade.

I know the DepEd has promised support to the families but in my opinion, that is not enough. It should use all its resources to find the perpetrators and give justice to their death.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Vox Populi Vox Dei

How many times have we heard the argument Vox populi vox Dei? "The voice of the people is the voice of God" referring to the majority as having to be God saying His piece. The multitude cannot be wrong it can be regarded as God has spoken through them. This is the very foundation of democracy. After all arguments have been said and after all informed citizens have heard and understood, they vote and whoever has the most number of votes win.

That is what I did today. Vote who I think will be fit to be our leaders. And yet, why is it that I do not think I have exercised my right fully?

I had a hard time picking twelve candidates to fill the senatorial slots. I feel the list of choices was lacking. Lacking of people who I believe can really play the role. I look at the list and think "I have heard their promises before and nothing happened." This led me to think about the phrase: vox populi vox Dei. This could have been true during Socrates' time. When the world was not complicated with too much materialism, pork barrels, technology, population explosion, cheating, election related violence, etc... When, I suppose, people knew and understood the issues for they were not that complicated (well, I'm not talking about philosophy) and voting was probably done by raising of hands. We know very well this is not so today. Today, the rule of the majority sometimes translate to the rule of the mob! Besides, how sure am I that those triumphant in their bids are truly winners? We've heard of massive cheating too often that the act becomes associated with every elections. It is in this light that I tend to agree in the saying: Nec audiendi qui solent dicere, Vox populi, vox Dei, quum tumultuositas vulgi semper insaniae proxima sit. Translated it reads:

"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."

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Elections and democracy!

In my humble opinion, there is no other system of government for a state better than democracy. Democracy in its literal sense means "run by the people". Simple and yet, each one of us has a say in how our government, our affairs, has to be run. Fair enough! And yet, there is one crux we have to contend with. Education!

Democracy, in order for it to be successful, should rest on a highly educated populace. This is important for democracy is founded on the free flow of ideas. One has to learn how to listen and discern what is right. One has to know how to analyze what he/she is being fed before making a decision.

In a democracy, one has the right to be heard as the next guy! It should not be a case of whoever shouts the loudest wins. In our case, the proverbial "whoever has the guns, gold and goons" enjoying the top slots in government leadership.

We cannot blame our leaders forever. We put them there. Unless, of course, they cheated! But that is another story. Let me get back on track. A well-informed society is needed to have the country run on its own feet. Now, what do we have? We have an electorate, more than half of which, have not had good education. Why? They are busy trying to earn food for the table. The very basest of all human necessity. We see street children helping their parents eke out a living. No make that earn scraps for the next meal. How, pray tell, do we expect them to be informed or be educated properly? They just won't care, would they? But that is not entirely wrong. In any society, we will find the poorest of the poor. It is part of life.

What gets my goat is you find some (or many to be blunt about it) lazily sitting at the neighborhood store, guffawing at another's joke or probably giving out his own, with drink in hand in the morning! Oftentimes, we hear them complain about the government and its leaders, critical of everything and yet do nothing to elevate their stature in life. These are the very people who would wish for instant wealth and so would line up to buy lotto tickets praying that that will be the ticket he/she has been waiting for. These are the very people who would elect a candidate who can give him/her cash right on his/her doorstep at the moment. These are the people who would elect someone because said candidate is a popular movie star or basketball player. They do not grasp the issues anyway. What matters is here and now. Sadly, these are the people who compose the largest chunk of the voters. The masses.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

These are long overdue!

My Malaysian friend, who happens to be my very first online friend, Chet, tagged me to write 6 things I find weird about myself. There is a slight problem here on my end. I suspect I have more than 10 but I have grown accustomed to them, I might not recognize them as weird. Anyway, I think I can come up with six. So, Chet, here they are:

6 odd things about me:

1. I like to cook but of all cooks, I am one that eats my cooking a lot! Many people find it weird that I can get to eat big portions of my own cooking. Most of them would say they grow tired after having tasted their own meals while cooking. Well, I don't know with them but the reason for cooking is so that I can eat. Ergo...

Another thing friends find weird with me is that I eat noodles with rice! They would always sound surprised and exclaim, "What is that? Carbo on carbo!" And we have been told to limit our carbo intake. Not good!

2. I am interested in anything and everything. The problem is that once I get to know the rudiments, I lose interest. While the interest is still there, I seldom advance. Take the guitar, for example. Once I learned how to read notes, I rarely practice reading them anymore. This is the reason why I cannot sight read. I have to memorize each bar. Also, I never learned how to use the time signature causing my playing dependent on hearing the piece before I get to play it correctly. That is the reason why I can play a tune correctly only if I have heard it before. Otherwise, my son MIckey will have to patiently correct my tempo. What can I do? I have learned playing the instrument "oido" first! You should see how many long playing albums and cassette tapes I have broken during my heyday.

3. I have attention deficit disorder - I think! Why do I say that? Well, I start reading a book and after a few pages, either grow tired or fall asleep. The same thing with movies at HBO or any channels that feature movies. Oftentimes, there would be a movie I want to watch and while waiting for its airtime, I would patiently watch the program before it. I fall asleep and guess what. By the time I wake up, I will be staring at the credits of the show I wanted to watch. I even miss the sign that says, "The End." Darn!!!! This is the reason why I like sitcoms the best - and cooking shows. They only go for thirty minutes, tops.

4. I paint naked. Well, naked as in from the waist up. I'm not that sleazy, you know. I have grown accustomed to painting amid the summer heat when I have plenty of time on my hands. And boy is it hot! And I use only three brushes at the most. Sometimes only one for one whole painting.

5. I have finished all the requirements for at least two masteral programs but did not get to take the comprehensive exams, much more the thesis writing that go with them. This is the reason why you don't get to see any letters after my name. Maybe that is related to number two. What do I know, eh?

6. I like to flirt with women but would be the first to chicken out if I sense the woman was beginning to like it and start to come on to me. I love my wife and my kids a lot. That is read, "fear" my wife a lot! Now, who said I am henpecked? Well, not that that happened before. Women falling for me, that is. I guess I don't have the x factor women are looking for LOL!!!!

Now, the fun part. I have to tag 6 other people. Hence, I am tagging my good friends Batjay, Bugsy,Ipanema, Doc Emer, Gilbert and The C at. Their responses should be very interesting.


When I got back from Thailand, I got a message from Diogenes that my good friend, Philippine Blogs Awards winner Toni referred me to him. He requested me to answer a few questions. He has a project called The Fine Art of Blogging and is soliciting from bloggers around the world (I presume) what they think a blog is, its importance, why do they blog and several other things. Seeing that it is a worthwhile project, I succumbed and sent him my reply. You can find my response here

Anybody who's interested can email me and I will gladly give him the message.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The KIngdom of Thailand

I have been away for six days for a tour of Thailand. Here is a summary of the places I went to and my impressions:

April 27 - We were first billeted at Bangkok Palace Hotel, about a mile walk from the famous Bayioke Hotel, the tallest in the coutry. We sampled the food in street stalls and while I could not call it a true "orgasmic" treat for the palate, it was good and clean (I hope) for dinner. Then we took a walk towards Bayioke just to have a feel walking the streets feeling the pulse of the city.

April 28 - Temples!!! I am impressed with the temples. Who would not be? The huge reclining Buddha in Wat Pho is awesome. The altar where the monks pray is laden with gold. No, make that the whole temple! Suffice it to say that the architecture with all the stupas (bell-like edifices to glorify a king or probably a god) is so uniquely Thailand. We crossed a river by boat and while the water was not immaculately clean, it was not filthy. About twenty or so boats ply it to cross tourists to and fro.

Next stop was the Sriracha Tiger Zoo. Here, I found Bengal tigers bred and cared for by pigs! What else? I do not know why but you will find a cage with odd mixtures of dogs, tigers and pigs. The sign says "happy family". I guess that sums it up. We also saw a pig who can do arithmetic (that is just my best guess as they do not translate what was happening) and a race of pigs. No betting taking place though. We also saw a crocodile show. Some tourists even took crocodile barbecue to the show. (That was a little insensitive, don't you think?)

Then, we proceded to the Pattaya Century Hotel. Curious, we went out after checking in to see a freak show. Anybody who has been to Thailand would know what I am talking about. What a waste of time and money!

April 29 - We were headed to the beach to go to Coral Island, a twenty or so minutes ride by speedboat from the city. But before going there, we were taken for a stopover on a huge barge where one can go parasailing. While some of my friends went, I, short for cash, as always, had to stay and cheer them on.

The island was very nice. The crystal clear turquoise water was inviting that I had to go and sample it. I swam for a few minutes by my lonesome until two or three of them joined me. Oh well, I am a sucker for beaches.

After lunch, we were taken to the Gems Gallery. We were led by receptionists to a train ride (I prayed it would not be some sort of a roller coaster or I would not have taken it) which was actually a historical tour of how gems are created by volcanoes until how they are cut into what we know as jewelry. Needless to say that after the ride, I did not even dare look at the prices of the jewelry in the store.

After dinner, our tour guide took us to the Alcaraz, a Las Vegas type of show showcasing transvestite. Unlike the ones you see in clubs, this was a theater which is dedicated to this kind of show. Since there were only four of us, the tour company sent a coaster to ferry us to and from the hotel. The transvestites were adorable in the sense that they were picture perfect. The well-sculpted body and boobs tell you the plastic surgeon made a killing out these people. After the show, the main cast would line-up outside for photo-ops for 40 baht. Again, I did not bite.

April 30 - We checked out to the hotel and were on our way after breakfast. We were taken to the Nong Nooch Tropical Gardens. We also watched a cultural show that had an array of cast with wonderful costumes and an amazing stage design. It also had elephants, a lampooned thai boxing, a historical overview (non of which I understood as I do not speak the language). After that, we went to the adjacent arena for an elephant show. The elephants did a lot of tricks one of which was a set of three elephants who painted a floral arrangement on a tshirt which they sold for 300 baht. Again... you know the deal.

Thereafter, we went to Safari World. While we missed the orang utan and seal show, we managed to see the stunt show, which was a western type of show at Universal Studios; the dolphin show which also had three beluga whales; spy show, which I surmise is the same as the Waterworld; and the bird show, something similar to what the wife and I saw in Hong Kong's Ocean Park.

We checked in again at the Bangkok Palace Hotel and my roommate, Chito Ortega and I, decided to experience the Thai massage. No, we did not go to those barbershop-like massages lined-up in the streets, but went to a spa where you are massaged in a cubicle (o hanky panky, of course) with aromatic flavors just like here in Manila. It was 600 baht for two hours. Not bad as I was already snoring during the right foot.

May 1 - Shopping - shopping - shopping!!! We went to Prattunam beside the Bayioke Hotel. Amazingly, practicallly all stores carried one size only. For slim women! I did not go with the women when they went to MBK as I did not plan to buy that much.

We were back in Manila on May 2. INcidentally, I just realized that this was the same day I came home from Canada last year.

Thailand should have been no better than the Philippines. It has the same narrow streets, the ubiquitous traffic jams, the markets, etc. What is amazing is that it has managed to preserve its culture while adapting those at the west. Street food is safe and clean unlike what you find in the streets of Manila. The fruits being pedelled are always sweet. The public toilets are by far always clean. The tourist buses are magnificent, spacious and very relaxing.

The food may be exotic but if you have been eating it for a number of days, you also grow tired of it. Imagine having Tom Yam every meal, for example.

The people are interesting. Several times, I had been cut-off in the buffet table. Whiule I was lined up, say for rice, someone will cut in and just get food ahead of you. But then again, these are asian tourists I figure. Several times I would have wanted to say "Excuse me but the end of the line is always there!" But I thought about it and figured I am here to have a holiday and a good time. Why waste my breath?

Okay, I hope I did not bore you to death. Well, if you're reading this...