Monday, April 27, 2015

Rare Native Dishes

Dr Abe V Rotor

Caliente or ox hide, softened and sliced,
served with onion and fresh pepper.

Ngarusangis (small seashells)

Appetite drives the will wild and free
To satiate hunger, more so curiosity,
Where the edge is just a step away,
Beyond adventure lies eternity;
Puffer or grub or some crustacean,
It's dare or delight to the epicurean.

Pesang Dalag (snakehead)
Native chicken tinola
Arusip or lato (Caulerpa), served fresh, with tomato and onion

The Two Faces of Fire

Dr Abe V Rotor

Painting in acrylic, AVR 2004

Fire is life, fire is death;
nature's first invention, 
ultimate destruction,
yet comfort by the hearth.

Fire is wild, fire is tame,
source of prime energy,
or friend turned enemy;
or glowing wand of fame. 

Fire bares all, covers all;
creeps under, runs uphill;
in summer or in chill,
all things short or tall. 

Fire, the first whim, last cry,
at home, in battlefield;
the first arm, the first shield,
the worst fear, the last sigh. ~ 

Sea Cavern Mural

Dr Abe V Rotor 
 Living with Nature - School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid with Ms Melly C Tenorio

738 DZRB AM, 8 to 9 evening class Mon to Fri
Wall Mural at SPUQC painted by the author, ca 2000

Visit a submarine cave of the tropical seas
through a mural of the imagination -
pristine, unspoiled, undiscovered eversince;
or one, the remnant of exploitation,
man’s endless pursuit of power and riches,
and his concept of the art of creation. ~

What make Children's Art beautiful and meaningful?

Leo Carlo Rotor's art lessons, part 2:
What make Children's Art beautiful and meaningful?
  • Simple and colorful 
  • Meaning and message
  • Contemporary style
  • Experiential 
  • Freedom of expression 
  • Personal style
  • Linkages in topics
  • Thorough and complete
  • Defined and specific
  • Sense of Achievement  
These ten attributes make children's art a wholesome experience, and worth all the honors a young artist aspires for. They set the beginning of a career and good character - and preparation for the children's bright future.  

The word MODERN itself can be depicted by the way it is expressed. 

An experience on graduation day - in the past or in the future.
Prize - it comes in many ways: gem, ribbon, trophy, necklace, ring, and the like. 
Involvement - prelude to maturity, building the foundation of good citizenship.
Entertainment - where and when reality and fantasy are one, reason and imagination converge.
Work also means obligation and responsibility, mother than output and reward. 
Surrealism, a postmodern art, may not mean anything, nonetheless challenging to the viewer to interpret,
Food - but why are the tools bigger than the food itself? Interpretative art challenges the viewsr and relates the hidden message to contemporary issues.
Wonder of the world, the Rice Terraces of Ifugao, now in a state of disrepair, it has been demoted in the UNESCO Heritage list.
Frivolous celebration is not good, and it does not enhance joy and success of an occasion how special it may be
Religion and tradition, Christianity and paganism, are too early to teach children. But it is their innocence that moderates conflicting beliefs and philosophies.


Dr Abe V Rotor

Glass painting, AVR c. 2005

I wonder what the world is like without you:
     . the seed wakes up  to a new life
       only when weaned strong;  
     . trees without branches and stems
       would be like palms and ferns;
     . horns not in pair make defense futile,
       save the rhino, and the unicorn;
     . unpaired limbs, claws and wings 
       make the reptiles and fish rule;
     . plants in the garden would not
       submit to Fibonacci's sequence;
     . flocks, herds and colonies grow
       unless resources are short;           
     . the living minutiae, the amoeba
       and its kin would be more mean.
  these and others unheeding your call -
  would they rather make a new realm?    

I wonder what we humans are like without you:
     . where truth from falsehood rises
       yet unseen by mob or the strong;
     . to decipher beauty and defy
       contrast and morality;
     . to travel on the Augustinian road 
       not of man but of God;
     . why men die for their beliefs,
       at the end, proved to be right;
     . why half of the world suffers
       while the other has too much;  
     . cries and laughter echo from halls
       and altars, in war and peace;       
     . yet humans live and die as one race
       repeatedly in history.  
I wonder if dichotomy is a grand design
of unity and diversity in continuum,
and make the world go on and on. ~

Photography: Silhouettes and Filters (University of Santo Tomas, Manila)

Dr Abe V Rotor
Monument of founder: Fr Miguel Benavides
Tower and icons on UST main building.

Just impression of your faith,
before the close of day,
your profile in silhouette
to remind me to pray. ~

Monday, April 20, 2015

Reviving Ethnic Literature: Filipino Riddles - expression of wit, humor, and philosophy at the grassroots

Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM, evening class 8 to 9, Monday to Friday.

Riddles may be based on truth and fantasy, the common and the rare, things we discover yet we can't understand, which we often attribute to the supernatural. Here Dr Anselmo S Cabigan, a foremost Filipino scientist, is studying a rare plant. Its unique characteristic has led local folks to describe it in riddles. Do you know what plant is this? (See answer at end of article)

The word for riddle is burburtia in Ilocano,boniqueo in Pangasinan, bugtong in Tagalog or Pilipino, and in Pampangan, andtugmahanon in Bisayan.

Riddles are common to mankind, from earliest times to the present. Riddles delighted the old Aryans and the ancient Greeks. So with the modern Hindu and the Bantu people of Africa. Cultural influences gave riddles local and foreign flavors that their origin may not be easy to trace. One common characteristic of riddles is that they become adopted by different cultures by way of their languages and dialects.

Riddles are enduring like Homer’s epic, being transcended from generation to generation. Even as their popularity has declined with the rise of the academe and movement of people away from their native origin to live in cities, riddles are still part of conversation, and in fact with today’s social media, in comic books and animations. Riddles give life to discussions and conversations, and are often used in exchanging wit and humor.

A riddle is an indirect presentation of an unknown object, in order that the ingenuity of the hearer or reader may be exercised in finding it out.

Another definition is a play of wit, which endeavors to present an object, stating its characteristic features and peculiarities, giving some ideas about it to tease the mind, without actually naming it.

Riddles are part of cultures. There are Hebrew riddles in the Bible. Persian riddles, Indian riddles, Arabic riddles. Sanskrit and Gypsy riddles. One of the two Malayan collections is Rizal’s Specimens of Tagal Folk-Lore; the other is Sibree's paper upon the Oratory, Songs, Legends, and Folk-Tales of the Malagasy.

Some characteristics of Filipino Riddles.
1. Filipino riddles deal largely with animals, plants and objects of local character; such must have been made in the Islands even if influenced by Spanish models and ideas.

2. Many Filipino riddles are about God, saints and religious persons or objects, dismissing disrespect with expressions “sana walang magagalit, or “bato.bato sa langit ang matamaan huwag sana magalit,” two common expressions of excusing the story teller from blame or anger. It is not unusual that religious riddles lack reverence and sutlety.

3. There are Filipino riddles that lack finesse, in fact they display coarseness and even obscenity, but this is also a trend in many cultures and elsewhere, so that it is likely that foreign influence could be the reason for this undesirable characteristic that undermine the beauty and dignity of Filipino riddles.

4. Of several classes of Filipino riddles, the three most popular one are: concerning God and divine things (alo-divino); concerning persons (alo-humano) and fable (Parabula)

5. Filipino riddles are generally patterned after the true rhymed riddles and the short catch- questions’ expressed in prose. True riddles describe a veiled object, it is thought-arousing, poetical and sometimes misleading. Catch-questions are specific. There is also a third kind “false” riddles. Here the teller and listener fail to agree on the answer, and we can only imagine the consequence. That is why riddles as literature must follow certain criteria and code of ethics.

6. Filipino riddles in whatever language or dialect, are likely to be in poetical form. The commonest type is in two well-balanced, rhyming lines, although less exacting. Rizal says—ayup and pagud, aval and alam, rhyme. The commonest riddle verse contains five or seven, or six, syllables, thus:

Daluang balon
hindi malingon
Bahay ni San Gabriel
punong puno nang barel.

Here is a simple rhymed riddle.
Contirad contibong; bandera ti lobong.
(Iloc.) Torre
(Sharp and long; flag of the world – tower).

Here is a short list of popular Filipino Riddles:

Nagalacat nagahayang.
(Bis.) Sacayan
He walks with his back.
A ship

Ania ti pinarsua ni Apo Dios nga ipagnana ti bocotna?
(Iloc.) Baloto
What creature made by Lord God walks on its back?

Tinugtog co ang bangca nagsilapit ang isda.
(Tag.) Campana sa misa
I rang the banca and the fishes came.
Note: Banca is canoe or boat; to strike it as with the pole is to ring it. People are called to mass by the ringing of the bell, which is likened to fish.

These are two riddles about the bat.
Ania iti pinarsua iti Dios a balin suec a maturog?
(Iloc.) Panniqui

What thing that God made sleeps with its head down?

Pantas ca man, at marunong bumasa at sumulat, aling ibon dito sa mundo ang lumilipad ay sumususo ang anak?
(Tag.) Kabag
Although you are wise and know how to read and write, which bird in this world flies and yet suckles its young?
These are three riddles about the water buffalo or carabao in three dialects.
Uppat iti adiguina, maysa iti baotna, dua iti paypayna, dua iti boneng.
(Iloc.) Carabao
Four posts, one whip, two fans, and two bolos.

Apat na tukod langit at isang pang hagupit.
(Tag.) Kalabao
Four earth posts, two air posts and whip.
Saquey so torutoro duaray quepay-quepay a patiray mansobsoblay.
(Pang.) Dueg
One pointing, two moving, four changing.
The head points, the ears move, the legs change position.

Here are riddles about the cock or rooster
Nagcapa dimet nagpadi; Nagcorona dimet nagari.
(Iloc.) Manoc
Gown but not priest; crown but not king.

Nancorona agimiet ari; nan capa agmuet pari.
(Pang.) Manoc
The king's crown but not king; the priest's cope, but not priest.

Dinay pinalsay Dios ya managtay carne?
(Pang.) Manoc

What creature of God is with meat on its head?

Ania a parsua ni Apo Dios ti nagsusoon ti carne nga aoan ti imana?
(Iloc.) Tapingar

What creature of our Lord God carries meat but has no hands?
The meat is the cock's comb.
Now compare with the style of this riddle.
Nang munti ay may buntot nang lumakiy napugot.
(Tag.) Palaca

When he was little he had a tail but when he was grown he had none.

Here’s a tricky riddle
Casano iti panangtiliu iti ugsa a di masapul iti silo, aso, gayang, oen no a aniaman a paniliu?
(Iloc.) Urayec a maloto

How do you take a deer without net, dogs, spear, or other things for catching?

And another one, this time playing with words.
Laguiung tao, laguiung manuc, delana ning me tung a yayup.
(Pamp.) Culassisi

The name of a man, the name of a chicken, were carried by a bird.
Culas is a man's name; sisi

These two riddles tell the answer, try to mislead.
Verdi ya balat, malutu ya laman anti mo ing pacuan.
(Pamp.) Pacuan

Its skin is green and its flesh is like a watermelon.
The riddle is poor, in that it introduces the answer as a term of comparison, in a way to mislead.

Similar cases occur in this one.

Magma nagcal-logong no maibagam pag-ong.
(Iloc.) Pag-ong

Walking, wearing his hat.

Analogy and anatomy
Nagsabong ti sinan malucong nagbunga uneg ti daga.
(Iloc.) Camote

It produces a flower like a cup; fruit underground.

Oquis nan bagasnan.
(Iloc.) Lasona

Its skin is its flesh
These are quite difficult, unless you are a farmer

Cobbo ni amam quiad ni inam sica nga anacda daramodum ca.
(Iloc.) Arado

The father is bent over, the mother is bent back and the son is bent forward.
This has reference to the different sticks, or pieces, of which the plow is composed

Adda maysa nga ubing a natured ti lammin.
(Iloc.) Sudo

There is a boy, who does not shiver with the cold.
This dipper is made from the half of a polished cocoanut shell.

Adda abalbalayco a sinam granada rineppetco a binastabasta imbarsacco diay daga nasay sayaat ti cancionna.
(Iloc.) Sunay (tarampo)

I have a toy like a granada; I tied it around and around and threw it on the ground and it sang sweetly.

Pusipusec ta pusegmo ta iruarco ta quinnanmo.
(Iloc.) Lacaza

I turn your navel to take out what you have eaten.

Ania nga aldao ti caatid-dagan?
(Iloc.) Ti aldao a saan a panangan.

What day is the longest?
The day on which you do not eat.

Nag daan si Cabo negro, namatay na lahat ang tao.
(Tag.) Gabi

The black Corporal passed, all the people died.
Died, here, is slept.

All about the stove
Tal-lo a pugot natured ti pudut.
(Iloc.) Dalican

Three ghosts endure much heat.
The three supports for the pot are meant. It seems that the pugot (ghost) is black.
Tatlong magkakapatid nagtitiis sa init.
(Tag.) Tungko nang calang

Three brothers suffering from the heat.
Pot rests

Tatlong mag kakapitid sing pupute nang dibdib.
(Tag.) Calan

Three sisters with equally white breasts.
They are equally white—i.e. they are all three black from the fire.

Nagcal-logong nag pica nagcaballo tallot sacana.
(Iloc.) Dalican

It has a hat and a spear, a horse and three feet.

Riddle about rain
Baston ni San Josep indi ma isip.
(Bis.) Ulan

Saint Joseph's canes cannot be counted.
Drops of rain in a tropical storm may well suggest rods or staves.

Buhoc ni Adan, hindi mabilang.
(Tag.) Ulan

Adam's hair cannot be counted.

How about shadow. (It reminds us of Peter Pan, who has no shadow)
No magnaac iti nasipnget aoan caduac quet no magnaac iti nalaoag adda caduac.
(Iloc.) Anninioan

If I walk in the dark I have no companion; if I walk in the light I have one.

No tilioec tilioennac; no itarayac camatennac.
(Iloc.) Aninioan

If I catch, it catches; if I run away it chases me.

Relationships make many riddles that need careful analysis. Here are examples
 Ano ang itatawag mo sa biyenang babayi nang asawa nang kapatid mo?
(Tag.) Ina

What will you call the mother-in-law of your sister's husband?

Ang amain kong buo ay may isang kapatid na babayi, ngunit siyai hindi ko naman ali. Sino siya?
(Tag.) Aking ina

My uncle has a sister but she is not my aunt. Who is she?
My mother

Ang mga babaying A at B ay nakasalubong sa daan ng dalawang lalaki; at nagwika si A; naito na ang ating mga ama, mga ama nang ating mga anak; at mga tunay nating. (Tag.) Ang ama ni A ay napakasal kay B at ang ama ni B ay napakasal kay A at nagkaroon sila nang tigisang anak.
Ladies A and B met two men and said, “There come our fathers, fathers of our sons and our own husbands.”
A's father married with B and B's father with A, and each of them had a child.

Nang malapos nang madalao nang isang lalaki ang isang bilango ay tinanong nang bantay; ano mo ba ang tawong iyon? Kapatid mo ba o ano? Ang sagot nang bilango ay ito; akoy ualang kapatid, ni pamangkin ni amain, ni nuno, ni apo, ni kahit kaibigan; ngungit ang ama nang tawong iyan, ay anak nang anak nang aking ama. Ano nang bilango ang tawong iyon.
(Tag.) Anak

After a man visited a prisoner, the guard asked him—“is that man your brother, or what?” The prisoner's answer was, “I have no brother, no uncle, no nephew, no grandfather, neither grandson nor friend; but that man's father is my father's son. “Who was that man?

Green corn riddle
 Nag tapis nang nag tapis nacalitao ang bulbolis.
(Tag.) Mais

She wore and wore her tapis yet her pubic hair was displayed.
The green husks are considered the tapis, or wrap about the mid-body; the silk appearing from the husk wrapping is the pubic hair.

Aniat casam itan ti nasamit?
(Iloc.) Ayat

What is the sweetest of the sweet?

The authors are deeply grateful to Project Gutenberg EBook of A Little Book of Filipino Riddles, by Various (contributors), for allowing the use of some materials for this chapter. To wit: This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at Thanks also to Philippine Studies I A Little Book of Filipino Riddles. Collected and Edited by Frederick Starr, World Book Co. Yonkers, New York 1909

Answer: Pongapong (Amarmophallus campanulatus) virtually dies losing all its stems and leaves completely, then produces a single huge flower emerging from its corm below the ground. The fower stinks and attracts flies to pollinate and disseminte its seeds. Now, how can you make a riddle out of this unique creature?  

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Frugality and Austerity (Self-Administered Test)

Abe V Rotor

Self Administered Test on Living in Frugality and Austerity.  Answer Yes/True to items you are presently practicing and/or those which you agree with.
One-dish meal reduces food expense. It is rich in nutrition and easy to prepare. Limit consumption of fast food.
1. You would rather buy things in bulk (paint, cooking oil, rice), or by the dozens (eggs, softdrinks) for ready supply at home, particularly these days when prices are increasing and supply is unpredictable.

2. You keep these tools and materials which you personally use now and then in various handiwork such as house repairs and gardening: a pair of pliers, hammer, set of screw driver, nails and screws, GI wires, electrical tester, and the like.
3. You would rather have your laundry and ironing once a week rather than daily or every other day, scheduling it usually on a weekend, thus saving precious water and electricity, and getting more helping hands from the family.

4. As a general policy of any state, the government should pursue a self sufficiency program in food, particularly staple (rice and corn) as the best way to insure food security, even if there is adequate supply in the world market.

5. In economics, austerity is when a national government reduces its spending in order to pay back creditors. Austerity is usually required when a government’s fiscal deficit spending is felt to be unsustainable. Austerity must cut down spending on development projects (countryside development funds from pork barrel), welfare and other social programs (subsidies and charitable expenditures).

7. The best way to save money is to set aside immediately a part of your salary, say 20 percent, and budget strictly the 80 percent. This is more effective than setting 20 percent after having budgeted and spent 80 percent of your salary.

8. You participate in the informal economy just like the farmer’s wife who goes to market to sell farm products and comes back with various household supplies. This is contemporary barter system. This is entrepreneurship on the grassroots.

9. Food supplementation reduces our dependence on conventional food, discovery of new food sources like seaweeds, wild food plants, as well as the discovery of new ways to prepare food comes at the heels of austere living. Hamburger from banana flower (puso), Ipil-ipil for coffee DON’T – use roasted rice instead or roasted corn, papait vegetable, sea cucumber, kuhol, the many uses of gabi, substitution of wheat flour with rice flour. Substitution of staple food with root crops (camote, cassava) to save on precious rice.

10. Postharvest losses reduces our supply, in fact to one-half, that by saving even only 10 percent of what is wasted, would be sufficient to fill up our annual deficit in rice and corn. Austerity is reducing our waste on all levels – production, postproduction, food preparation.

11. Austerity is the most practical weapon to fight obesity. It means avoidance of junk food, moderation in eating, and consumption of natural food. It is also favorable to health. Less kidney trouble, liver ailment, cardiac problem, high blood pressure. It means less hospital cases, cancer, ulcers, less alcohol consumption, etc. Austerity means natural beauty, good fit, good stride, and happy disposition.

12. There are more and more good schools in the provinces and chartered cities. We would rather send our children in these schools for practical reasons.

13. Grains would rather be used directly as food and lessen the amount of using them in producing animal protein by feeding the grains to poultry and animals. By doing this we maximize the value of food and make them available to ordinary people.

14. Israel as an emerging new state adopted an austerity program lasting for 10 years (1949-1959). When USSR collapsed, Cuba adopted an austerity policy (1991 onwards) to be able to survive as an “orphaned socialist” state. Austerity is aimed at attaining self-reliance at a time of crisis.

15. Private banks or institutions like IMP may require a country pursues an austerity policy if it wants to re-finance loans that are about to come due. The government may be asked to stop issuing subsidies or to otherwise reduce public spending. We call this as “IMF conditionalities.”

16. People’s power – the cry of the first EDSA Revolution – fizzled out because the newly acquired empowerment was not used put to proper use as evidenced by unsuccessful cooperative movement, agrarian reform which turned out to be confrontational between right of property and right of tillage, rampant and blatant graft and corruption in the government, declined productivity in agriculture and industry, spread of poverty.

17. Family planning refers to limiting the number as well as proper spacing of your children. If there is a sin of commission or omission, there is also a sin of neglect – and if that neglect is within the knowledge of the sinner, and the consequence is the ruin of the lives of those under his care as parent, atonement is almost unthinkable.

18. It is easier to meet our needs than our wants to most people although to many, affluence is pursue even before needs are met.
 Take the tricycle, better still, walk.  Or ride on bicycle. Go to nature for your leisure - not the mall. 

19. Youth today are torn between choices of white collar jobs and blue collar jobs. They are lured to easy education – diploma mill, and on the modern method of leaning on the computer which actually does not offer an “end course” that makes one a professional like a doctor, lawyer, agriculturist, and the like. Austerity calls for a re-definition of courses that are functional in nature and p[practical in application, and relevant to the changing times.

20. Limits to growth come like a moving vehicle suddenly running out of fuel, its tires worn-out and flat, engine conking out, while the road is getting rougher, narrower and steeper. Austerity is applying the brakes before all of these happen. It is anticipating the limits to growth, before it turns against you.

21. Hi-tech is expensive and it is the consumer who ultimately pays it. It is to the people the users of Hi Tech charge its cost. Austerity calls for a moderation in technology. Austerity and innovative technology are compatible. Innotech is people’s technology.

22. Modeling of successful projects such as coops (farmers multipurpose cops), agro-eco center (Cabiokid), Kabsaka (Sta. Barbara, Iloilo), mangrove farming, seaweed farming, Irrigators’ association, Dr. Parra of Iloilo – these must ride on Filipino trait of gaya-gaya. Gaya-gaya put to good use. Peer teaching and learning is effective among the masses, and should be complementary with formal education. Austerity opens a gateway to look into models we can adopt under our local conditions.

23. “Necessity is the mother of invention, so “crisis is the sphinx of survival.” (Story of the Sphinx.) What is it that walks on all fours in the morning, two at noon and three in the evening?”) Crisis is Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest. It rewards the strong, eliminates the weak, humbles the proud, deepens the soul, and elevates the spirit. - of those who can make it.” Crisis is the time to test man’s soul.” Soul is the ultimate of man’s capacity to survive. (Thesis of Victor Frankl – A Search for Meaning)

24. You practice the 7Rs in Waste Management: Reduce, Recycle, Refurbish, Renovate, Restore, Reserve, Revere (and Rotor – Rotate). These 7Rs are vital tool in living an austere life.

25. The more closely related supply and demand cycle in a given community, the more self-reliant the community is. This means that in that community, people produce what they consume; consumption motivates production and vice versa. This according to Dr. Anselmo Cabigan is a basic tenet of austerity, because the self-reliant community becomes less dependent on external factors and the vagaries of the larger environment.

ANSWERS: All True. You may copy this article and pass it around at home and with your friends. Use it as a school research, outreach talk, workshop theme, and campaign material for frugality, austerity and industry - the triumvirate virtues of happy living and secured future.

More about No. 5 -When does frugality and austerity come in? Wartime, recession and depression (US), epidemic, high inflation, queuing for food, disaster, embargo (N Korea), new settlements, poor harvest, political turmoil, religious conflict, El Niño, cyclone (Burma), earthquake (China)

More about No.20 - People for manpower turns to overpopulation and unemployment;

industrial growth turns out pollution; agriculture causes erosion, siltation, and invades wildlife. ~

False kindness: Never help a chick to hatch, a pupa to become a butterfly

Dr Abe V Rotor
And never touch animal babies before they are weaned, otherwise they will be devoured or abandoned by their mothers.

Don't help a flower bud to open. Don't help a chich get out of its shell,  Paintings by AVR.

But curious kids we were, we would surreptitiously smuggle puppies from their mother while she is away. They are simply irresistibly cute. So with kittens and rabbits. But the smell of humans is enough cause for nursing animals to kill and even devour their newly born offspring as in the case of rats. A mother cat simply transfers her young to another place difficult to discover. Dogs refuse to nurse their puppies if disturbed.

And beware. Nursing animals are by instinct ferocious, and even turn against their own masters, as in the case of the dog, and more so in the wild. A brooding cobra will surely strike at any intruder. Nursing cows and horses chase man or animal that threatens their young. A brooding hen is ill-tempered, ready to attack, so with hawks, eagles and other birds. Among lower animals the paper wasp or putakti is a classical example of collective assault. Just keep away at bay.

What happens to the chick assisted to hatch from its shell instead of leaving it to struggle on its own?  It will be sickly and most likely lame.  And how about the butterfly helped to metamorphose from its chrysalis?  It will never be able to fly.~ 

Hide-and-seek Game

Dr Abe V Rotor
Pet fish, Oscar, at home QC

Everyday it is our casual game, 
with Oscar, my pet and friend;
until one day I saw the reeds
as cold iron bars, and I, a fiend.~

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Rip van Winkle Junior

Dr Abe V Rotor
 Rip Van Winkle, the legendary character in Washington Irving's short story of the same tile.  Acknowledgment: Wikipedia, Internet.

A balikbayan was visiting his hometown. He wanted to relive his pleasant childhood. There is something irresistible, a homing instinct that draw many balikbayan to come home in the later years of their lives. Some wish to be buried in the town of their birth.

His townmates call him Tatang, a courtesy to a much older person who is like a father. In fact Tatang means father. To earn this title is not easy.

“You must be part of the people,” a Filipino sociologist said. “And you must have the respectability and touch.” But the most important qualification he mentioned is that you have to have children of your own who call you tatang in the biological sense. In the case of Tatang Ramon, his title is sociological.

Which gives essence to the term kapamilya, connoting extended family. Indeed that’s how small the hometown of Tatang Ramon is. Kinship is by consanguinity, affinity and by being a kababayan, rolled in one.

Tatang Ramon felt easy with the people especially the children, and he felt reciprocated. Well, this what you call touch. Tatang Ramon had the touch when he talsk, even with a slight slang that gives an inkling he is a balikbayan from the states. He had the touch when greeting his kababayan and talking to them. And he had a good memory; he could relate people to one another, at least people in his generation, with something interesting about them.

He is indeed a balikbayan – he is bringing out beautiful memories weaving them with the happenings of a changing world. He even talked of post-modern living, giving emphasis to the prefix, to stress the fact that we are "living in the future." What with space exploration, the Internet and cloning - but he did not dwell much on these for fear he might not be understood.

One day Tatang Ramon found a young man scratching the ground with a stick. He was reminded of his bible. There is a part where Christ was meditating scratching the ground with a stick – which up to now no one knows what he wrote. Around him were angry people who were about to stone a woman to death because she committed a grave sin. Christ rose and said, “He who has no sin casts the first stone.” No one dared. The people left and Christ said to the woman, “Go and sin no more.”

Tatang Ramon approached the fellow who was seemingly in deep reflection. He didn’t know what attracted him to do so. Apparently the fellow was sad and lonely. He needed comfort, at least company. He was writing something on the ground which could not be deciphered. To his surprise, he found out that the fellow is the son of a classmate of his in the elementary.

“What’s you name, young man?” he asked

“Jun,” he quipped, “Jun po … Tang.” Short for tatang. And he talked about his father.

“Why, you look like your father.”

You can imagine how the two fell into a familiar conversation, such as what Tatang Ramon and Jun’s father Tatang Juan had in common, what they did in school, but more important what they did after school. Oh, they fished in the river, rode bicycle together, played sipa and competed in nearby towns. It’s a novel if you are patient to hear everything. Tatang Ramon cut the story, “…then I left for the states … finished college … raised a family … found a good job … my children are on their own now… and here I am, a balikbayan.”

Jun did not say a thing. He heard Tatang Ramon all right.

One qualification how the title Tatang is earned is to be able to advise effectively. Even if you are not a sociologist this is basic. And what do you think Tatang Ramon did?

He gave an unsolicited advice. He cleared his throat, sat beside Jun like a father should to a troubled son.

“You see Jun, when you finish college you will meet people and visit different places. You will find a good job. And you will free yourself from the cares and worries of the world.” He paused, waiting for a response. There was none.

“You will simply enjoy the leisure of life.” The balikbayan flashed a friendly grin, thinking he had driven well his point.

The simpleton momentarily stopped scratching the ground, looked at his new mentor and casually spoke.

“And what do you think I’m doing now, 'Tang?"

Tatang Ramon felt he does not deserve the title – what with Jun’s response?

His mind found solace in his readings. He realized Rip van Winkle is still alive. He is in our midst.

Rip van Winkle is the principal character of a short story of the same title written by Washington Irving in the late 17th century.

Rip van Winkle was a very lazy person, a hempeck husband who left home and went up the mountain on a leisurely hunting and did not return until twenty years later. He fell asleep for twenty long years!

“Who am I?” who asked the villagers when he found his way back to his village. Everything changed, it was a new era. America was now an independent nation. Madam Winkle had long been gone. When he finally reached his old home, a young man was scratching the ground with a stick. His house was still there but was falling apart.

“I am Rip Van Winkle!” The old man cried. “Can’t anyone recognize me?” He paused and got closer to the young man and examined him from head to foot. He looked familiar. "And who are you?"

“I am Rip van Winkle,” came a wry answer.

x x x

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Takong - the Nest-Building Sow

Dr Abe V. Rotor

Crossbred offspring shows traces of its native parent - the domesticated wild pig

When I was a farmhand I watched Takong – mother pig, build a nest. She gathered dry banana stalks, rice straw, leaves, and if there were clothes or blanket on a sagging clothesline, they would likely end up as nesting materials.

Takong was a native pig and carried much of the features of baboy damo or wild pig. Her fangs were long, protruding and curved outward, resembling amulets. Her snout was long, her skin dark gray and loose, her hair wiry. She was seldom without caked mud over her body because she loved to wallow. She strayed on the farm, subsisting on rice bran, fruits and vegetables, or whatever leftovers there were after threshing or milling.

“Our sow is ready to give birth,” my dad announced. Takong had been in her nest and if it were not for her gray color, heaving and grunting, you would dismiss her nest as a mere pile of rubbish. That night I heard grunting and squeaking. Our sow was giving birth. The piglets came out at intervals.

As the first rays of the sun peep through the den, I cautiously searched how many piglets our   sow had delivered. There were ten piglets in all! But none was wholly black like the mother. They had shades of white and gray, their snouts were shorter and upturned. Their father was of a foreign breed, stocky and bigger than Takong with snub nose and flappy ears. Takong laid on one side and obediently nursed her litter, each taking possession of a teat. "Just don't get too close." my father warned.

Father knows that even if animals have been domesticated, they still carry the evolutionary gene designed to protect their young against any enemy they perceive - which may include their own masters. Animals are most dangerous at nesting time and after giving birth until the young are ready to be weaned. Another warning my dad emphasized is that never touch the young, more so to take them away from the nest or litter.

We can't resist picking up newly born animals, like kittens and puppies, because they are lovable. Their mother can easily sense our intrusion. She may abandon the poor cute thing, or even kill or eat it. Or she takes the whole litter away to a safe place.

In the wild, animals can sense danger that may threaten the whole litter, if not the whole herd. According to sociobiology as proposed by Dr EO Wilson, altruism and sacrifice are actually part of behavioral instinct which is important to the survival of the species, to the extent of sacrificing its individual members. Murder and cannibalism among animals may be explained with this theory. So with sudden attacks on people by pets, by animals in zoo and circus.

Takong's offspring soon reached weaning time. Dad sold them as growers, leaving one to become our next sow. It bore less features of the mother than the father. " It got more blood from her father," said Anding, our caretaker. I named our future sow Turik, meaning multiple spots. We built a pen for Turik to protect her from the sun and rain, and from other animals. Feeding and watering troughs were made for easier work. Twice the local veterinarian came to give Turik immunization.

I miss Takong, I never saw a sow build a nest again. ~

The Nipa Hut - A Living Memory

Dr Abe V Rotor

The Nipa Hut - A Living Memory

Take me under your thatched roof away from the aircon room,
Let me lie on your slatted floor, not on a bed of foam; 
Let me see the world through your windows and open door,
And hear the crickets in the dark, the birds at dawn. 

Take me away from the city, and lead me back to my home,
Away from the busy lane, to where an old road
Ends to the open where the fields are a vast of brown and green;
Lead me to the legends the old folks once told.   
Take me to Nature I've long missed in my youthful years,
When the monsoon surrenders to the golden grain, 
A rooster crows to herald the dawn atop your nipa crown,
That rustles in sweet notes with the breeze and rain. 

Take me back where dreams are born, where they grow,
Where one day, like the river flowing down to the sea,
Take many a  child to where the world lies in hope and obscurity;
To return or not, you remain in him a living memory. ~

Bahay Kubo version with home garden (Painting in oil by author)


Tree house, Rosario La Union
 Garden hut, Florida Blanca, Pampanga
Typical Nipa Hut, Florida Blanca Pampanga
Nipa Hut at IRRI Museum, Los Baños, Laguna
Nipa house and cottage for handicraft and storage (back), 
San Juan, Ilocos Sur
 Nipa Hut for stage play, SPU Quezon City

Floating Nipa Hut, Bohol