Wednesday, September 21, 2022


 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.

Now this. Not only did I get a thank you, she showered me and my family with love I got teary eyed reading her message. Her words are one of the kindest I have gotten so far. She just made me a very happy old man - feeling fulfilled and proud of myself.
I know there could be some who hated me, too, especially those who were under me during my last two years. You see, after a long period with the administration, I was assigned back to the classroom two years prior to retirement. I was already an old man, sometimes grumpy and probably out of reach with a huge gap in age with my students. Oh well, we can't always win 'em all.
Miki's message made me think, why did I ever leave the classroom? It might be possible that I didn't lose my touch and even got better with my relationships with my students both intellectually and emotionally.
At any rate, thank you MIki for your very kind words and your patronage. I am extremely happy that we reconnected after so many years, this time as true friends.
Tito Rolly


We finally got our hands on a Tito Rolly, shipped all the way from the Philippines! ♥️ It’s also our first ever art purchase so it feels like a milestone to celebrate. Sir Rolly Delos Santos was my art teacher in Zobel throughout grade school and high school (my lack of artistic prowess in no way reflects his teaching abilities 😆) AND my homeroom teacher in junior year. He’s not only an excellent teacher and artist, but also a very good writer. As my homeroom teacher, he would have us write essays for fun, which he would then proceed to read in depth - I always appreciated the thoughtful comments he’d make on mine and the insights he would share. He retired from teaching a few years ago and so has had more time to focus on his art, and I told myself if I ever got to a point in my life where I could set aside a little extra for art, he’d be the first person I’d reach out to. He calls this “Troubadours with the Red Guitar”, painted July 24, 2022. 🥰

Miki Litao-Goyokpin

Monday, September 05, 2022

Bacolod, the City of Smiles

 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.

Being retired, my wife and I have all the time in the world to enjoy ourselves. Why not? We have to enjoy touring while we still can, right?
The only set back of the tour is our flight via Air Asia. IT SUCKED BIG TIME! We experienced about four reschedules. The week before our flight, we were told our flight had been rescheduled to a much earlier time, 4:00 am!!! That meant we had to be at the airport at around 2 am at least. Then, a few days after, it was rescheduled again to 5 am. I thought, this is much better as I will have time to at least sleep until 2 am and leave for the airport at 3. On our way to the airport, I received a text message that the flight has been rescheduled to 7. WTF!!!! I could have stayed in bed and rested. Well, we cannot do anything about it. So, we had to wait it out with our friends in a very cramped airport due to the delays in flight. Well, in fairness, we were given a Jollibee chicken for breakfast but it mus've been old as it was stale. As my friend Vivian said, it was a lonely chicken!
Lo and behold! The flight was rescheduled again to around 8! Well to make a long story short, we finally took off at around 9!
Bacolod was lovely!!!! The food is spectacular! The first stop we did was eat at the manukan place at the famous Aida's! It was heavenly. I never tasted chicken as good as that one. It was tender and juicy! I had pecho (I could not have legs, my favorite, because I am o longer allowed to eat) and my favorite baticolon (gizzard) which they don't sell here in Manila anymore. Of course, I bathed my rice with chicken oil, something they don't have in chicken inasals in Manila anymore.
Next thing we did was to tour the city, We went to San Sebastian church, then as one of the recommendations of my Bacolod based friend, Bugsy, we took a cab and went to the Art District. It was very impressive. Too bad, I was enjoying my chitchat with one of the tour guides that I forgot to give her a tip! What was I thinking?? The next stop was at the Fiesta Market, again as recommended, we had lumpiang sariwa and empanada! Next stop was the Negros Museum. We were especially impressed by a copper wire artist, Ian D. Valladarez. He made sculptures using a continuous copper wire. With good fortune, we will meet him in person and in action two days after.
We were told that there was a good batchoy place called Super Batchoy and so we decided to check it out for dinner. To our dismay, no local, not even the police knew where it is. We walked endlessly, with Catherine even using her waze, but to no avail. We ended up eatting at Gina's, a seafood restaurant which did not fail our gastronomic appetites. The funniest thing was that on our way back to the hotel, I just tried to ask the driver if he knew where the batchoyans are and he said, without any hesitation that the best one is called Superbatchoy!!!! We shouted with glee as it was the exact place that we were looking for.
The next morning, our tour guide , Lemuel, which was recommended by a friend from the University to my wife, picked us up. The first stop was an hour and a half ride to Don Salvador Benedicto Northern Negros Park. We had lunch at the Kurvada restaurant which turned out to be owned by the uncle of one of my students, Kat! We were given a tour of the place and had a wonderful view of the Malatan-Og Falls.
We then embarked to go to the famous Canlaon mountain where we visited the Canlaon Balete Century tree It was magnanimous to say the least.
Next stop was have merienda at Tia's Garden Cafe. Our driver took us to Super Batchoy but unfortunately, it was already closed. It coses at 5:30 pm. So we had dinner at the manukan country again, this time trying Nena Rose. We cannot help comparing it to Aida's and while it is delicious as well, it lacked the juiciness and savory taste of Aida's in our opinion.
On our third day, we were picked up again by Lemuel. This time, our first stop was the Victoria's Milling Company but we were not allowed to go inside as it was milling time. We proceeded to Silay City and visited San Diego de Alcala Parish Church. From there, we were taken to the old houses in Silay then to the Balay Negrense Museum.
Next stop was at the oldest bakery in that side of the country, El Ideal bakery where we bought some goodies for pasalubong. We then went to Laktawan View Resort. We were supposed to have lunch at the Ilaya Highland Resort but found it too expensive for our taste. It turned out to be a fortunate decision as we decided to try the best cansi ever, Sharyn's Cansi House. Again, it did not disappoint us! It was a wonderful experience as we sipped the delicious broth and the succulent meat and collagen brought about by the bone marrow! (I know, it was sinful especially for me but I allowed myself to cheat this time).
Being Lasallians, we all had to see La Salle University in Bacolod. Had a few shots of the facade and were on our way to the best photo ops in our entire Bacolod trip at the Ruins!
Bacolod as the City of Smiles is one place I would not mind visiting again. Thanks to our good friend Agnes, who gavve us the idea to tour the city. If only for the food, Bacolod is worthy to be toured more than once. Well, I guess it is also because I had wonderful company that the city is made more wonderful than it aready is.


Thursday, May 12, 2022

Philippine Politics

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

Putting an End to my Youth

Today, April 21 2022, I literally put an end to the memories of my youth. I sold the house I grew up in as a teen ager, the house my parents built with their blood, sweat and tears. We moved there in 1971, a brand new, 140 sq meter house built from the wages of my father who was the sole bread winner of the family while my mother kept house. I was a freshman in high school at the time. It started a new decade as we embarked on a new experience, living in a house we can call our own and not having to transfer from one apartment to the next. During this time, we had moved about four times.

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!

thirty seven years!

Alabaster is a soft mineral or rock used for carving sculptures. This is also the stone for a 37th anniversary that me and my wife are celebrating today. It also happens to be my wife's birthday!

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!