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Friday, August 19, 2016

The Marriage

The Marriage - Diptych
Oil on Canvas
40" X 30"
The Marriage 1
Oil on Canvas
20" X 30"
The Marriage 2
Oil on Canvas
20" X 30"


Friday, April 22, 2016


My wife turned sixty on April 20. Just because this is another milestone in her life, the kids decided to give her a surprise party, and surprise she was. On April 16, we told her that as usual, we shall all be staying in a hotel, this time at Hotel Celeste in Makati, a no frills hotel, quaint and simple but clean.  What she didn't know was that we have also invited her close friends from way back in her high school, probably, elementary days. and relatives to grace the occasion.  To even spice it up a notch, I composed this prose and poetry for her, asked our good friend, Redjie to do the voice over and have Mickey do the visuals.  I am reproducing it here for keeps.


Jenna Coleman!    Jenna Coleman is an English actress who was made famous by playing the roles of Clara Oswald in Doctor Who and Jasmine Thomas in the soap opera Emmendale.
Jordan Brewster! Jordan Brewster is a Panamanian –American actress who portrayed Mia Toretto in the Fast and furious, Fast Five and Fast and Furious 6 and 7.
Renee Zessweger! Renee Zellweger is an American actress and producer who was became famous with her roles in various films notable of which are her character in Jerry Macguire, Nurse Betty and her award winning role in Bridget Jones’s Diary.

What does Jenna Coleman, Jordana Brewster and Renee Zellweger have in common? They are all celebrities? They are all beautiful? No, neither their being celebrities nor being beautiful has anything to do with the question.  They are all born under the sign of Taurus, the bull.  The bull, a male bovine especially that of an adult, uncastrated, domestic kind.  As such, it is a symbol of virility, tenacity and unspeakable strength.
On April 20 many moons and stars ago, in an unpretentious town in the heart of Manila known as Bacood,  Trinidad Ancheta rewarded  her loving husband Nicasio Toto with their fourth child, the second girl in a brood of six. Together with her siblings Polly, Abet, Lilia, and the younger Marilyn and Angie, this child’s character would be formed into what it is today. Her family might not have lived in opulence but they were not living in dire straits either.  AS a matter of fact, their family owned several vast ancestral lands up north in Bangui, Ilocos Norte where the first windmills were built.  They were happy and contented amidst their modest living.  Her classmates in both elementary and high school will witness her friendly nature, that effervescent personality, enigmatic at times but always ever pleasant nonetheless.   Their humble beginnings made each one of them aspire for nothing less than perfection.   And perfection she did get on her 29th birthday when she was united with her handsome prince with whom she would bear four children, their four angels, Kraiganne, Mizel, Keshia and Jasper. Together they weathered the storms, faced life’s inequities, wept at each other’s misfortunes and glorified by each and everyone’s accomplishments.
Thirty-one years after that 29th birthday and here we are celebrating another milestone in that little girl’s life. She is now sixty years old, a milestone which marks all her accomplishments as a true friend, a dedicated daughter, a favourite sister, a sweet wife but most of all, a loving mother.  Yes, she is a Taurus but none of the violent streak of a raging bull, only the soft, tender lovable character that she is.
If we are to check on what the astrologers say about a Taurean, we shall find that a person born under the sign of Taurus is one who will not venture into the unknown and lead the way.  They must have misinterpreted the stars for Nitz is a natural leader, the one who leads the entire family to progress and possibly the person who will lead her children to no less than perfection and possibly to greatness. Tonight, as we celebrate her birthday, her husband wrote her a poem and it goes like this:


For tonight She Turns Sixty
Tonight, the angels descend
       to sing melodic songs
together with  the chirping of a  bird,
      released from her cage
the hooting of the owl
     satiated by a hearty meal
and the steady call of the cicadas
     after being burrowed for 17 years.
A seeming cacophony of discordant notes,
faint at first until they get louder
     and the air is filled with heaven’s harmony
     all made lovely
for tonight she  turns sixty

Armed with nothing but her ubiquitous smile
      more radiant as ever,
better than the child who first experiences rain
     after a long dry spell
or when she first held  snow in her tiny hands.
As if granted of a wish by her fairy
     she smiles triumphantly
For tonight she turns sixty

She is my morning coffee
My sunshine after a well slept night
She is the light that illumines my path
     on a bumpy, dark, dangerous road.
She is my queen, my glory,
     my present and my distant future.
Together we shall  forever be happy
     washing away the doldrums of idleness
     laughing our way to a journey of happiness. 
Join me and my family as we all sing 
     Happy birthday with all your might
For she turns sixty tonight



Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween 2015

My wife is returning from a week long work with students at Baler, Quezon.  She left on Sunday, October 25 when I have just returned from a two day stint at Naga College Foundation with Robert Reyes. My wife and I have not seen each other from the time I left on October 23 until today when she arrives here in DLSU where I have been waiting since 2:30 pm.

It is good enough that I was with Henry when I got here at Taft. This made the library accessible to me as I don't think I could have stayed here waiting for my wife on my own. I don't have a library card and although I worked here, the people I know are no longer here.  Anyway, while waiting for my wife, I figured the best place for me is to tinker with the computer. I can go on for hours in front of this remarkable machine.

The long wait gave me time to ponder the eve of what we know as All Saints' Day and its transformation. I say transformation because how we celebrated November 1 is by far way different from how we do this today.  During my childhood, I have always wanted to become a Boy Scout thinking what a remarkable job they do at cemeteries doing their best to assist elders with the mayhem on what we celebrate as All Saints' Day (or is it All Souls' Day really? I am a bit confused!) All I know is that living beside the Tugatog cemetery, growing up jumping from tomb to tomb while flying a kite. On the last days of November, I would see my friends earning a few cash painting the tombs with white and marvel at Boy Scouts having to camp out at the cemetery so that they could help (I was of the impression that they look for lost children, send them to the station where the parents could pick them up).

I know that the celebration has had some sort of transformation already. How many, I don't know. I recall my sisters talking about a tradition where young men would go from house to house to what they call "mangaluluwa".  I don't know how this goes but if I recall correctly, these young men would go to a house, maybe sing or do something while one fellow would go to the "silong" to steal some eggs.  The source of fun will always go with the times, won't it?

In the nineties, when I was still a budding teacher at DLSZ, trying to learn the ropes, I noticed that the children has started going Trick or Treating!  For several years, this has been going on at Ayala Alabang until the nearby villages caught on.  Several years thereafter, the practice spread like wild fire and now, trick or treat has infected most of Metro Manila.  Ah yes, Bob Dylan's right when he sang "The Times they are a-changin'! And how fast they do!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Composition 1

Composition 1
Oil on Canvas
42" X 42"

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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Naga College Foundation

Tomorrow starts a new journey for me as a LASSO Supervisor.  My stint as a consultant in Academia De San Francisco Javier in Nasugbu Batangas is over.  The parochial schools in Batangas have formed some sort of a system just like, probably as I can imagine it, De La Salle System and part of the changes brought by the merger is the severance of ASFJ from the LASSO.  I have known about this when I attended the school's graduation.  It was too good to last.

This year, I have been assigned to a new post, the Naga College Foundation.  This school used to be under the care of Ms. Suzette Dahilan.  I am  to be introduced tomorrow and the documents shall be turned over to me. I leave for Bicol at 11:20 am. As if to draw first blood, I am due to give a talk on the Legal Responsibilities of Teachers on Saturday.  I have already made the necessary adjustments (thanks to my eldest daughter, Kraiganne) to my powerpoint presentation.  As first impressions are very lasting sometimes, I have to put my best foot forward. 


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A pearl as white as snow!

I am having mixed emotions right now.  I am both in ecstasy but at the same time sad.  First, the whole family has just got back from a three day respite at Pico de Loro to celebrate my wife's birthday and our 30th wedding anniversary.

First, living with the woman I love for thirty years n all these years, we have produced a loving family as we bred four angels who are now grown ups and have joined the work force.  They are now trying to find their own niches in a world full of drudgeries and sham but we are sure that they can weather any storm as we believe we have raised them well. 

What does it mean to be married for thirty years? It means a lot! It means that the children are all grown up by now and possibly having grandchildren running around the house by then.  Well, not in our case, at least for now.  The perfect gift for this time is a pearl.  After all, it is known as the pearl anniversary.  For many years, pearls have  been considered to be the most valuable.  It is an organic gem as it is derived from a living creature.  An irritant comes into an oyster or mollusk which then produces a "nacre" or what we call a "mother of pearl" that will produce either that black white smooth substance. 

I have tried to purchase a real pearl not knowing how costly they could be.  Needless to say that I was really disappointed that I could not buy my wife a simple luxury.  However, I didn't feel I have lost the battle just yet.  I found the next best thing. I could still buy my wife pearls which are not as expensive.   I found south sea pearls which I bought with Kim.  And so during the eve of my wife's birthday, the whole family had a fantastic dinner at the hotel where I gave her my gift.  She seems to be pleased with it.  And surprisingly enough, she also had something for me which turned out to be a Pierre Cardin wrist watch.   So you see, we can celebrate, too sans the fanfare of really expensive gifts.  What is important is that we are all together as one happy family. 

Talking about unity as a family, while my wife and I knew that we will not have our children by our side forever, I was still caught off guard when my second daughter announced that she will be leaving for Brazil to join her boyfriend.  While it will only be for three months at the most, I know that losing my children has started.  They are all grown up now and will soon leave the nest that my wife and I tried to build over the years.  One by one, they shall flap their tiny wings and fly. All I can do is watch and pray that they could fly the highest mountain or even conquer the heavens as they do. 

Just like a pearl symbolizes a tear from the moon, my gift to my wife are my tears for years past, the glory days and those times when I was at my weakest.  Where have all the years gone?  They are forever etched in my heart and in my mind as I recall the years when we were still struggling to build a family. We hope that we have taught them well and continue a legacy of simplicity, humility, perseverance coupled with hard work and patience with each other.  AS my daughter leaves tonight, I bid her goodbye and send her a kiss that shall be eternally hers until death. 


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Friday, February 13, 2015

a village raising the child

            It is interesting that in a far-flung village in Africa there exists a philosophy that I think is filled with wisdom that I take to be entirely correct.   There is this saying in Nigeria: "It takes a whole village to raise a child!" For me, this is a sound belief that is as loud as the clanging of the huge bell of an ancient church announcing to the town that mass will start soon.  This belief could have been spawned by very observant elderlies of the village watching a pride of lions, composed of sisters, as they share in taking care of the young.  This system is seen especially when it is time to hunt.   The cubs shall be left to one female lion who is an aunt, while the others hunt for food.    So too is it true in the wild forests of America or in Europe where a pack of wolves live. For wolves, only the alpha male and the alpha female are allowed to mate; bear pups and those with lower ranks share in taking care of them.  What they would do is hunt, eat the food and regurgitate it to the young on their return.  This sharing responsibility of taking care of the young is also the reason why ant and bee colonies thrive around the world.  I have been thinking, if this is true anywhere, then this should be a universal truth, don’t you  think?

 There is a big problem brewing at Ayala Alabang Village where De La Salle Zobel school is located.  Traffic congestion has always been a perennial problem in any locality where there is a school.  I have been going to Greenhills every Thursday, once a month to attend a meeting and I know it is a commuters’ nightmare that from one to four in the afternoon, cars occupy at least two lanes waiting for students to be dismissed.  This chaotic problem where there are schools is true everywhere and Ayala Alabang is not immune to it. 

This traffic situation has never been a problem before but De La Salle, as one of the country’s leading schools in providing quality education, has grown dramatically both in its physical layout and enrolment size.   With La Salle’s stance of keeping up with global standards, more and more parents are investing their children’s education to the said school.    In return, De La Salle, in its effort to make its brand of education available to as many students as possible, could not close its doors to worthy students regardless of whether they are residents of the village or not.   The increase in enrolment is the root cause of the traffic situation, or so they say. 

It is easier to blame the traffic situation on the escalating number of passers-by.  It is always so easy to point a finger on a single culprit.  As a matter of fact, it is the most convenient.  However, on closer inspection, this may not necessarily be correct at all times.  While it is true that traffic congestion can be attributed to sheer volume alone, I believe there are other factors involved that contributed to the mayhem.   Before this nightmare, there were more roads available to the commuters.   There were streets such as Maria Cristina, Agno, Pantabangan, Ambuklao, etc. which could be used to get to Zobel.  However, these streets were closed one by one to commuters bound for Zobel which left only Madrigal and Acacia roads open to University Avenue as the only ingress and egress to the school.  Naturally, these roads will not be enough during rush hours which will be from 7:30 till 8:00 in the morning and 3:30 till 4:00 in the afternoon. 

With all this traffic turmoil, the Ayala Alabang Village Association (AAVA) Board of Governors has only De La Salle Zobel to blame, not as the main source but the only “culprit” and hence made all it deems as necessary measures to only refer to the school albeit the fact that there are more schools  inside the village.  As such, the Board has made several demands “suggestions” to the school to help ease the traffic to which Zobel has willingly complied even if it had to spend millions of pesos.  I would like to spare you the details and make the long story short.  The Board claims that none of the solutions adapted by the school worked and as a final solution, will implement a color-coding scheme on vehicles coming to and from De La Salle Zobel.

                The color-scheme the AAVA Board wants to implement is, at the very least, impractical to downright ridiculous.  First of all, why implement the scheme when there are barely two months left in the school year? Granting in arguendo that it has been the plan since June as alleged by the Board, nevertheless, to have it implemented today will not serve any purpose but cause a lot of trouble and mayhem to our young students.  The residents, who the Board alleges to be complaining about the traffic, have already managed to bear with the discomfort for practically the whole year -  two more months would cost nothing more than what they have already suffered.    Secondly, the plan needs to be studied more.  In the proposed scheme, there will be cars which will be allowed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, a total of three days; while on the other hand, the others will only be allowed on Tuesdays and Thursdays!  That is totally unfair.   Why will there be students who are blessed with more days to come and study than the others?  On what basis shall a non-resident car owner be awarded a three day slot?  Who decides who will be given a sticker that will allow access to the roads of AAVA on those three  days?

              It  takes the entire village to raise a child.  There is wisdom in that adage.  A child may not be born completely in tabula rasa form but nevertheless, it grows into the kind of environment it lives in.  As such, every child is our responsibility.  We cannot complain about that drug dependent menace or that village thug that constantly disturb the peace.  They are that way because they lived in an antagonistic and uncaring society.  We cannot just blame their parents for raising them that way.  We let them down.  They are our responsibilities.  Should we deprive the little ones in our care of education and have them witness how terrible we treat one another? It takes an entire village to raise a child.  We are trying to raise our future leaders and raise them differently than how our present leaders have been brought up.  Should we let a minor discomfort that lasts for barely thirty minutes be the bane of our existence? Or should we consider our small sacrifice be our contribution to nation building?  To me, the choice is obvious. I hope it is with you, too.   










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Twenty years of teaching must sure amount to something. A new friend in cyberspace suggested I ought to have a journal by now. I agree.

Taken by my friend Arlene Lawson in her room at Century Park Sheraton in May, 2000.
Posted by Hello
Location: Bambang, Pasig City, Philippines

Jack of all trade, master of none. First a disclaimer. My students have discovered this blog and they might think that what I write is gospel truth. Worse is they might find an argument that they think they can use, for some reason or another, against their teachers. So, to set the record straight, it is NOT. As a matter of fact, I write and open it to feedback to get another view in the hope that somebody would tell me if I am wrong and reenforce my thinking if it is right. Not that I will accept anything thrown my way, though. Just so I can think about it some more and decide whether my original stance is right or definitely off tangent. So there. I hope that clarifies everything. Now, on to blogging.

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