Monday, March 31, 2008

Revisiting the masters

Since I started this project last year which I also posted here, I saw the benefits of the project for the learners. Not only do they learn about the masters (at least some of their works), they also learn about texture and what it does for an artwork. As this is also a group work, they also learn about team work, leadership/following a leader and sorting out their differences.

While I started out with Pablo Picasso last year simply because you can segregate the colors easily, I added more artists this year. I asked the students to research about the following artists:


1. Pablo Picasso
2. Henri Matisse
3. Vincent van Gogh
4. Juan Gris
5. George Braque


1. Arturo Luz
2. H. R. Ocampo
3. Cesar Legaspi

Here are some samples of the students' work. Can you tell which painter is being reproduced?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Religion, tradition, superstition

Sometimes,there is a very thin line between religion and superstition. This can be seen here in the country especially during the Holy Week.

Holy Week starts on Palm Sunday and ends on Easter Sunday. I remember the lonely Thursdays and Fridays extending till Saturdays of the week during my younger days. There was nothing much that you can do for you were forbidden to play by your parents since you cannot have fun while the Lord suffers. TV stations were out and comes back only at 3:00 pm only to be given reruns from the dinosaur age. This went on till the coming of cable tv. Business establishments were all closed.

But that did not mean we really had nothing to do. You can read the Pasyon, which I could not figure out till now why they have to use a microphone and make the neighbors lose sleep in the evening (probably part of a scheme for unsolicited penitence, huh?), watch the senakulo (a theater production portraying the life of Christ), visit seven churches to do the Stations of the Cross. Not your idea of fun, are they? But these are nothing compared to what other people do. YOu can also see people carry the cross, walk from a to b kneeling and/or flog each other and make a spectacle out of themselves. In Pampanga, people do actually nail human beings to the cross. They would soak their nails in alcohol for one year so as to ensure that these are clean. (Why not holy water, huh? Maybe that makes it all the more potent.)

There is nothing sacred about these things if you ask me. God never instructed us to do just that. And yet we do. If you ask me, Good Friday whould be a time of merriment for on this day, God has fulfilled a covenant with us. But that's just probably me. I cannot even say that these forms of sacrifices are wrong entirely. It just happens to be how people relate with God. And when it comes to matters of faith, each individual is entitled to exercise it in whatever form he/she likes provided it does not cause injury to another.

At any rate, as I have said, we know that there is a thin border between religion and superstition. Much of the practices we see during Holy Week resulted in superstition. Ask most of the people why they exercise the sacrifices they do and most likely, the answer is because these prove that they have won God's favor through some sort of a miracle done to their lives. This is not solely a Catholic endeavor. Many religions have their own practices.

How should one view faith? I think we should look at faith in different perspectives. One is look at it in the eyes of an intellectual, the other as a child. We should view faith as an intellectual so that we can learn to differentiate a miracle from a hoax. That we don't fall prey to exploiters. We should view faith as a child so that we can accept what is that that we cannot explain and believe in it. Too much intellect and you become an agnostic or even an atheist. Too much thinking like a child and you become a fanatic extremist. As we all know, too much of everything is not good.

Happy Easter everyone.

Friday, March 14, 2008


We are at the final leg of the schoolyear and everybody's busy with grades! For students, getting high marks and teachers computing them. It's really crazy this time of the year. What I could not understand is how students would relax the whole season with nothing to do but talk with their seatmates instead of working on their grades and panic on the last day trying to make up for lost time. Real valuable time, and they never learn. They'd do this again the following year. Well, maybe that is human nature. At least for most of us. I, too, am guilty with this phenomenon, you know. I would dilly dally on tasks thinking this or that is easy and when it's crunch time, would not even sleep just to complete the deed. Procrastinate all you want guys for in the end, you will have to do what you're supposed to do or face the consequences of your irresponsibility.

Anyway, while I was in a stage of stupor, thinking what and how I am to do the volumes of work that are hitherto unattended, a poem came to me and this is the result of that squalid serendipitous splendor. Here's hoping that you'll like it.

What is and what is not

I don't have to hear my baby cry
to know he craves for food
or that he wants a warm hug
on a cold, cold night.
I know what is and what is not.

I don't have to taste a mango
to know if it's sour or sweet,
nor do I have to cut myself
to know that a wound
immersed in brine hurts.
I know what is and what is not.

I don't have to see the tears
to know that not all dreams
come true making men
miserable all their lives.
I know what can or cannot be,
I know what is and what is not.

I don't have to hear wailing
to know hunger exists and lingers.
I only have to see children
with open palms, begging for alms.
I know what is and what is not.

I do not have to witness a man
manacled with strong chains
being dragged into the corner,
beaten with truncheons
or bombarded with water cannons
to know that there's injustice.
I know what is and what is not.

I don't have to smell the land
bathed in blood to know
that your greed can only be sated
by my sweat and tears,
I know what you can and cannot do
I know what you will and will not do.

I don't have to see the sun
to know it hides behind
dark clouds on a stormy day.
I know what is and what is not.

I know I can't go on whining
and do nothing about it.
I know it's what it is
snd not what it's not.