More Fundraising work to be done

by jun asuncion

A cruel twist of fate would have it that the Ketsana Foundation’s library project be deferred to another propitious time. The unimaginable scale of destruction to lives and properties, the unfathomable depth of sorrows and pains, existential angst and social displacement of the victims which typhoon Haiyan had left required from us a reflexive change of plan and priorities. Even Switzerland had to defer some planned activities last November 18 by declaring this day  a national fundraising day for the typhoon victims in our country. So every sensible individual and nation saw the urgency of the situation, hence, a shift in priorities.

In keeping with Ketsana Foundation’s rule of thumb of helping the affected directly, two of its members will be going to these typhoon-ravished areas to give some families things they needed for their livelihood, such as fishing boats, garden tools, etc. Simply said, tools they need to start rebuilding their lives and immediate environment.

We have decided, however, that only half of the total proceeds of the benefit concert last week would go to the south and the remaining amount for our library project in Bulan.

This means, we have to organise another fundraising activity next year to reach the amount needed for this project. For those who may be reading this message and who feel the need to help Ketsana Foundation to finally  realize this project, please contact us. Soon Ketsana Foundation will have its own website where we can publish in detail all our activities and report the financial status. This is in keeping with transparency and credibility for we know that those who want to help also want to know what happens with what they give.

The benefit concert itself was a total success. Many people came that evening of November 21 in spite of the sudden snowfall which caused a little turbulence in the otherwise always orderly streets of Zürich. The pianist Dr. med. Robert Siebenmann did his best to make the cold evening a pleasant one for all with his warm and very personal rendition of Brahms and Chopin. The apero held at the lobby was opulent as  many friends came with their home-made specialties like Christmas cookies, Glühwine, cake, sandwiches and wines. It was a crowd of medical people, of artists and musicians.

I thank Mila, Elizabeth and Franklin Patricio and Madeleine Borel for their priceless help in making the event a success. Our biggest appreciation naturally goes to our pianist Robert Siebenmann for inspiring others to help and to all of our sponsors, friends and guests. Last but not least, our best appreciation and acknowledgement goes to our consul Miss Tess Lazaro (who delivered a nice  spontaneous inspirational speech) and cultural attaché Irene Sadang for gracing this memorable evening with their presence. Photos of the concert to follow.

For the meantime, we ask the children of Bulan to be more patient as we work more to realize our plan. Thank you and carpe diem.

Benefit Concert 2013

by junasun

The Ketsana Foundation in Zürich which was founded by Franklin Patricio and Milagros Asuncion, with active members Jun Asuncion and Elizabeth Patricio, has organized another Benefit Concert in Zürich this coming November 21, 2013 which will  be held at the Gemeindesaal Zollikon, Rotfluhstrasse 96,  8702 Zollikon, Zürich.

This will be another  classical piano evening which will showcase for a charitable cause the musical talent of Mr. Robert Siebenmann, himself a seasoned Swiss heart surgeon working at the world-class Hirslanden Clinic in Zürich.

P1180632-002

Dr. Robert Siebenmann, classical pianist and heart surgeon

Convinced of our cause of helping young people develop love and passion for reading printed books, and impressed at how the Filipino pianist Mr. Cases played for the Ondoy victims last 2009 to help our medical missions in the Philippines, Dr. Siebenmann readily offered his precious hands to help us raise funds for our project of building a modest public library in Bulan for the young students.

To add extra boost to the morale of the Swiss-Filipino friends who support this project, we have also invited our Philippine Ambassador in Berne Mr. Leslie J. Baja to join us this evening. With Dr. Robert Siebenmann’s precise and relaxed hands as a surgeon, an evening of quiet and relaxing classical piano music of Johannes Brahms and Frederic Chopin  awaits us on the 21st of November for sure.

We also invite friends of Bulan Observer from all over the world to join us and to help support this Library Project.

library

My personal message for the Concert on November 21:

Now, may I ask? When was the last time you were in a library? Long ago? Not me, for I’m every day in a library, – in my mini library at home. Indeed, it’s such a special privilege or a luxury to have one at home where you can read and write undisturbed to compose your mind. In my library, I have written many articles for my blog. A library is very similar in a way to a Karate Dojo because it’s a place of quiet, respect and introspection; a place for working and of balancing your mind and body.

The Roman Orator Cicero once said that ” if you have a garden and a library, then you have everything you need”.  The same Cicero said that  “We are not born, we do not live for ourselves alone; our country, our friends, have a share in us”, – kind words from a man who existed over a hundred years before Christ.

It is in this context of garden, library and sharing that we felt moved to take Cicero literary and continue with this project of building a modest library in Bulan for those children who don’t even have a garden or a proper home. A library is a meeting place, a very democratic place where young people learn to know their culture. Hence, raising funds to build a library is building up culture as opposed to destruction of culture by  cutting funds meant for public libraries as some government leaders do.

There is a personal background to this library project. For it was once my plan to help a primary school in Bulan by sending boxes of books in English I have bought myself for their library which in itself is in a very desolate situation for lack of government funds. But on their way to Bulan, in 2009, these books were destroyed in Manila by a series of heavy floods that hit the Philippines at that time. Instead of replacing those books, my friends here decided we would rather send medicines and first aid materials to the victims in Bulan. Yet along the way we have never given up this library project in spite of the typhoons, floodings and earthquakes that batter the archipelago every year.

But a noble dream remains just a dream if one does not act.

We acted and that’s why we are gathered here tonight because we invited you to help us make this dream a reality. The fact that you are here tonight means you support culture and you feel that others have a share in you.

One person who felt the same way even went beyond that for he volunteered also to play piano for us tonight. As a heart and vascular surgeon by profession, his duty is about saving lives of people who come to him with broken hearts in the true sense of the word, people who are between living and dying. The same hands and fingers that have saved people from dying will be playing the piano tonight and thereby saving a piece of culture in Bulan someday soon, – i.e., as soon as the library building has been built with a little help from all of  us.

My heartfelt thanks then to our pianist Dr. Robert Siebenmann, a heart surgeon with a heart for the less fortunate children, for taking with us the very first concrete step to realizing this library project, – where  children living ten thousands miles from here  may have dreamed of.

About Dr. Robert Siebenmann (English translation of the German original by junasun)

Robert Siebenmann began his piano studies at the age of 12 years with piano lessons at the music school and the Winterthur Conservatory with Emil Schenk.

During his High School in Erlangen ( Germany ), he continued it with Karl Pratter. In addition to the study of medicine in Zurich , he took piano lessons with Alfred Ehrisman . The time-consuming and demanding training as heart- and later as  vascular surgeon, had left him at times with little or no time for playing the piano, However, he had never given up completely to continue with his favorite hobby. But as a busy cardiovascular surgeon at the clinic Hirslanden he has but only on the weekends the time to practice and play .

He feels honored to receive as  an amateur the opportunity to play for a charity event in front of an interested  audience. The main thing here  is primarily to support a charity event, an event being organized now and then  and with success by a group of Filipino nurses of Clinic Hirslanden and their friends. He asks the audience not to expect a professional performance yet  he hopes that he is able to do justice to  the music and to the composers..

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DPWH engineers in Bicol scored poorly in promotional test

BusinessMirror.com.ph

Sunday, 01 January 2012 20:29

by  Manly M. Ugalde / Correspondent

LEGAZPI CITY—Public works and highways engineers in Bicol scored dismally in the most recent Civil Service Promotional Test conducted by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

The agency said not a single district engineer and assistant district engineer in the region’s 16 districts passed the test.

A source who requested anonymity said of the more than 60 engineers who took the Oct. 1 promotional test, only 17 passed it.

The test was held at the New Era University in Quezon City for Luzon-based engineers, Tacloban City for Visayas-based engineers, and Davao City for Mindanao-based engineers.

The source, however, said he has no idea as to the passing percentage for all the examinees.

The DPWH-CSC promotional test was first introduced during the stewardship of Secretary Gregorio Vigilar in 1997. It was a difficult test compared to the recently held test which had only 200 questions and multiple-choice answers that deals on management decision-making and technical aspect.

DPWH regional maintenance engineer Antonio Saguinsin who also took the test confirmed that only seven engineers from Bicol had passed the test, saying Fermin Peteza who was the overall topnotcher in the 1997 promotional test was among the seven passers. Peteza is the current chief of the region’s Quality Assurance Unit holding a rank of Engineer V. Only those with the rank of Engineer III upward were qualified to take the test.

The test is the basis for promotion to a higher rank similar to the criteria of the promotional test in 1997.

But retired district engineer Manuel Saret who was among the passers during the 1997 test said that many DPWH engineers in Bicol who flunked the 1997 test were promoted for unknown reasons.

A source from the Civil Service Commission said the 1997 test flunkers should have never been promoted.

Saret said among the flunkers who was an engineer III at that time was promoted to district engineer in 2000 and is now among the division chiefs at the regional office holding an item of Engineer V.

Those who passed the recently held promotional test were Fermin Peteza, Benjamin Buitre, Eleanor Areola, Rebecca Roces, Marilou Sariba all from the regional office; Nilda Doloiras from Sorsogon Distrrict Engineering; and one from Camarines Sur District Engineering whose name has not been provided.

DPWH regional director Danilo Dequito had earlier said that flunkers occupying the positions of district engineers, assistant district engineers, division chiefs, and section chiefs in an acting capacity and holding a rank lower than what is required will be replaced by qualified engineers.

He said the criteria for promotion will be strictly followed, saying passing the Oct. 1 promo test is the first step.

Dequito and his assistant regional director Jesus Salmo are reportedly Career Executive Service Officers (Ceso). But according to Mike Aguilar of the private construction industry, Dequito was not a Ceso when designated in Bicol in October when the Aquino administration was determined in terminating non-Ceso holders appointed by the Arroyo administration.

Aguilar said Dequito became a full-pledged Ceso officer only last Sept. 30.

The appointment of Dequito and Salmo in Bicol had caused the termination of regional director Danilo Manalang and assistant regional directors Oscar Cristobal and Jaime Martinez.

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An Asuncion Riding On The Crest Of A Wave

My cousin Eduardo Rojas just informed me about Amado Gabriel Esteban, a cousin who is now President of Seton Hall University in the United States Of America, the first Filipino so far to hold this prestigious position. Bulan Observer congratulates Amado for his excellent achievement!  jun asuncion

Here is Eduardo’s info about the family roots of Amado:

// We have an Asuncion relative who will be the first (and non priest) Filipino president of the well known Seton Hall University . His name is Amado Gabriel Esteban. He is an Asuncion through his mom, Isabel “Lita” Munson Esteban. Lita’s mom is Paz Maria Asuncion Intengan (married to Amado Munson). Paz Maria Asuncion Intengan’s mom is Consuelo Asuncion (married to Dr Gabriel Intengan). Consuelo and sister Guia Asuncion came from Zacharias Asuncion, son of Justiniano and grand son of Mariano Kagalitan Asuncion. //

Filipino Amado Gabriel Esteban Seton Hall University President

BY INQUIRER.NETON  January 24, 2011 CATEGORIZED UNDER OUTSTANDING FILIPINOS, UNITED STATES

“Other than the food, I miss the sights and sounds of Manila—the packed Sunday Masses, big family gatherings and going out with the ‘barkada,’” he said in an e-mail interview with the Inquirer.

“I have to admit though that the Manila of my youth only exists in my mind. You know you are getting old when I was looking for a CD of Basil, I was asked to go to the oldies section!”

Putting the Filipino brand of leadership on the international spotlight once again, 49-year-old Esteban was recently appointed president of Seton Hall University (SHU) in New Jersey.

Esteban had been serving as interim president of the oldest diocesan university in America and New Jersey’s largest Catholic university with more than 10,000 students before he was named to the post last December.

Two priests in the running withdrew during the search proceedings, according to a New York Times online report.

“As a Filipino, I hope I can serve as a reminder, along with all the other kababayan who have been able to advance themselves, of our potential wherever we are in the world,” Esteban said.

His mother, Lita Munson Esteban, and his late Tarlaqueño father, Jose Esteban, were both educators.

Building consensus

Esteban credits his upbringing for a leadership style that listens and nurtures.

“Growing up in a Filipino-Catholic environment, I learned early on the value of building consensus, learning from past mistakes and failures, and most importantly treating everyone with respect and dignity,” he said.

 “In leading Seton Hall University, I hope to never forget something my late father used to say, ‘A great university is not made up of bricks and mortar, but people of great minds with good intentions,’” he added.

Serving a term of five and a half years, Esteban aims to pursue a strategic development plan that would entail “strengthening our Catholic identity, strengthening and increasing our investment in key academic programs, increasing our student selectivity, and developing the financial resources to fund our shared vision.”

Exception to rule

Esteban’s appointment broke tradition based on SHU’s 25-year-old by-laws, where only Catholic priests were qualified to head the university. The university’s board of trustees adopted an exception to the by-laws a week before his appointment.

Two other laymen had assumed the SHU presidency before Esteban, but his appointment was the first for a nonpriest since the university adopted its priests-only selection criteria in the 1980s.

Esteban received praise from the university for his calming presence after the tragic shooting of 19-year-old sophomore student Jessica Moore near SHU in September last year, when he was still interim head.

SHU officials called him the right fit for the job.

In a broadcast e-mail announcing Esteban’s appointment, Patrick Murray, chair of the SHU board of regents, said: “Dr. Esteban has successfully navigated through many challenges during his interim presidency; we are extremely fortunate to have such a proven, compassionate leader at the helm of our University. He is ideally positioned to carry on Seton Hall’s Catholic mission and its tradition of academic excellence.”

UP studies

Esteban finished a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and a master’s degree in Business Administration at the University of the Philippines before taking up master of science in Japanese Business Studies at Chaminade University in Honolulu.

He and his wife Josephine, a UP Economics graduate, came back to the Philippines in 1986, just as the country returned to democracy after 14 years of martial rule. He landed a job at San Miguel Corp. while his wife worked for the then Center for Research and Communications (now University of Asia and the Pacific).

The couple later went back to the United States for further studies.

“We had every intention of returning to the Philippines. In fact in the late nineties, I interviewed for and was offered a couple of faculty positions in the Philippines. As we were making preliminary plans to return, the Asian financial crisis hit,” Esteban said.

“Upon deliberation and reflection, we realized that over the short to medium term we had better opportunities in the United States,” he added.

Connecting home

But life seems to have come full circle for Esteban, as his connection to home has become even stronger with the position he holds.

SHU’s College of Arts and Sciences is studying student demand for the Filipino language, which it previously offered. At the university, Esteban has also met several Filipino seminarians and students.

“Seton Hall has a very active student group called FLASH (Filipino League at Seton Hall). We even have Simbang Gabi!” he said.

As an SHU official, Esteban has also established institutional relations with UP, De La Salle University and its College of St. Benilde and Health Sciences Institute.

“Since the establishment of relationships with sister institutions in the Philippines, I have been fortunate to be able to go to Manila almost every year for the past few years,” Esteban said.

The Internet has also made touching base with the Philippines easier, he said. “Connecting to home and friends in Manila was more difficult until the widespread use of technology, including YahooGroups and more recently Facebook.”

Esteban and his family came home for Christmas last year, their first since 1987. With Josephine and his daughter Ysabella, an SHU junior, he traveled to Boracay and Cagayan de Oro City and “spent almost all our time with family.”   /

Visit Amado at Seton Hall University.

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An Asuncion at Mensa- Switzerland

A personal note, written primarily for my relatives and for those interested in child psychology.

 

Way back in the 1980’s, during my college years in Manila, my favorite psychology subjects were psychological testing (psychometrics), projective techniques, psychopathology, mental hygiene, theories of personality, experimental psychology and seminar on exceptional children. In projective techniques, the student learns the rudiments of administering and evaluating personality tests. Throughout these courses, the student begins to be confronted with the question of personalities, the reality of individual differences, inborn and acquired traits, the nature of intelligence in all its theoretical aspects.

A college freshman is faced with these basic questions: First, what is personality? Second, what is intelligence? And then you slide into the third: Is there a direct correlation between personality and intelligence? Do intelligent people have more pleasant personality than less intelligent ones or is there no direct correlation at all between these two factors? The next thing that confronts the student is the relationship between high intelligence or genius and insanity? Is this true that geniuses are prone to mental illness and personality disorders whereas the normal ones not? Or is this just a myth or a hollywood invention? And then comes this simple issue: Are intelligent people practical and independent?

Well, four years of basic psychology studies will not give you instantly the answers to these questions and give you peace of mind. I have learned that my favorite subjects had only given me a good starting point to continue the inquiry. One thing that I have learned after all these years is that everything is a matter of definition and the context to which this definition is being applied. Or, even better, let the context offer the definition of such things as intelligence, normalcy, perfection, etc. The other thing that has taught me more is experience. Experience gives you a solid understanding or even doubt about the subject. My years of experience in observing psychiatric patients have no doubt taught me more than anything else to evaluate roughly a person almost at a glance: Is he/she a schizophrenic, a psychopath, a drug dependent, an alcoholic, a manic-depressive one, a borderline personality, suicidal person or a sexual deviate; or, to evaluate indirectly by way of any available product of that person: a written piece, a drawing or illustration, etc.

But intelligence is something else. It requires more to gauge it. A mere glance cannot tell me if one is an average, genius or retarded (except for genetic abnormalities as Down syndrome, etc.). But this time, through indirect way, i.e. by way of a written piece or work of art, etc., I could tell more about the intelligence of the person.

On the other side, my experience has shown me how tricky this aspect is: For example, relying on school performance alone does not give you the real intelligence of a child or a youth. Behind an average or even below average performing child could be a gifted one. It is in the extremes of appearances that we have to exercise caution and observe more. But in general, we can say that a child is intelligent if it grasps abstract relationships within a short time than other children and translates his ideas successfully into concretely observable results for the observers. But what if this translation doesn’t occur, or if the child consciously – or even unconsciously – distorts this translation? It follows that our picture of the child is also distorted.

Then it’s time that we observers, parents or educators must look at ourselves. Are we competent enough to make the right judgment(evaluation) and do we have the necessary experience in this area?

I always recommend observing the child who has problems at school  in the totality of his behavior and when needed to send the child to a recognized testing institution for aptitude and intelligence test. Ideally, school – pubic or private –  should have also a team of counsellors which includes one or more school psychologists to help troubled parents and children.

In my neighborhood, I have given advice to concerned and troubled parents this way and even offered my on – the – spot analysis of the child’s personality and general mental aptitude drawing out of my experience in this field. I admit, that though it’s really hard to determine the child’s intelligence, still I can say that experience gives me  a solid ground to base my guess or intuition. I was right in many cases because these grown-up children are now high achievers, out of the initially hopeless situation when they were in the elementary years.

But now, we come to my experience of this subject within the four walls of my home, an experience that has given me doubts about what I know and challenges that  almost went beyond our limit as parents. And that is when my second son, Samuel, came into our life. From birth, I already sensed that he is intelligent. As a child he rarely cried, was very quite, curious and independent in his ways. At age three, he was reading until three in the morning that at times I had to switch off his bed lamp so he would sleep. At this age he had memorized the books he had in his room, performed weird chemistry experiments, etc. He protested by crying when we brought him to a play group but showed great joy when we brought him to a painting group for children.

 His week, together with his older brother Cyril, was full of activities already before the age of five: music group for pre-school children and,  a few months after, violin lessons where he always astonished his teacher for his excellent hearing, private English, French and cooking courses every Saturday for several years and swimming where he also excelled. Later on he switched to piano and about the same time he started with hip-hop dancing course from a known dancer and teacher and won second place in the Swiss dance team competition. With 16, he started teaching this dance style, now with 18, he resumed his Thai boxing lessons and intends after graduation this summer to go to Thailand for Muay Thai boxing teacher course.

Before entering primary class, he underwent a thorough intelligence and aptitude tests in a private human potential evaluation clinic that took the whole morning with a short break in between. The results showed  him belonging to the top 2% of the population of  children of his age group. The effect was that he jumped directly from kindergarten to Grade 2 and parallel to normal schooling, he had to attend special courses for gifted children organized and supported by the city of Zürich where they learned other supplementary subjects as chemistry, mathematics, physics, philosophy, etc. This satisfied all of his “mental needs”. During this time, at age 9, he was admitted to Mensa-Switzerland whose only criterion for membership is an IQ score in the top 2% of the general population on a battery of standardized intelligence tests (“normally” from above 130 IQ scores). But this too went not without a little problem because he was “under age”, which means below 15. But they readily made an exception to the rule. And so it went that he became the youngest member in the history of Mensa-Switzerland.

Parents can only be proud of this story but we had our own worries. His normal schooling went on not without problems for he showed little interest in his homework and in most of his teachers in the public school who were not trained for such a child with a different quality of perception. In fact, some of his new teachers in the primary school considered him below average. He was –  and is even now – behaving like that so that, at age 12, I let him undergo another intelligence and aptitude test, this time administered by the school psychologist in that private school we found for him after we pulled him out from the Volksschule. I was there again to observe as he made his written and oral examination for hours. From the answers to the oral tests I heard and the awed facial expressions of the psychologist , I knew already that he was still in his “old” intellectual status. Hence, nothing was changed only that he needed the right environment that suits his needs.

But he remained an ordinary boy before the eyes of our  friends and relatives and with time we got used to this fact. Only a handful of his friends (who are gifted themselves) realize and appreciate the gift that is in him. Same feathers flock together? Intuitively, I observed, they do.

With 15, he was turned down by many firms as he applied for apprenticeship because of his not-so-shining secondary school grades. Again, another problem for all of us. Until he was admitted to a  Swiss Federal Institute of Technology or ETH (Einstein’s alma mater) spin-off  IT firm. There his mentor, an ETH IT lecturer, himself  a very intelligent man, has told us that “no doubt, your son is very intelligent”.

So, what’s the problem? Samuel will graduate this summer at age 19 as IT specialist. /

jun asuncion

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Lawmaker seeks tax deduction for families with children with disability

  

 

OFFICE OF REP. DEOGRACIAS B. RAMOS, JR

 

NEWS RELEASE

 

Government should help ease the financial burden on families caring for children with special needs by allowing a deduction on a parent or legal guardian’s taxable income.

Rep. Deogracias Ramos, Jr. (Sorsogon, Second District) said families with special needs children have different out-of-pocket expenditures than those with regular children.

“We should help children, regardless of any difficulties or differences they may have, to fully realize their potential for development. By allowing a tax deduction on a legal guardian’s taxable income, we help families reduce their expenses and hopefully provide better care,” he remarked.

Under House Bill 3765, a taxpayer caring for a child with a disability will be able to get a tax deduction of P50,000. Expenses that qualify for a deduction are:

• Tuition for a private school

• Therapy

• Diagnostic evaluations by a medical professional

• Tutoring

• Transportation expenses to school or a medical facility

• Specialized instructional materials

The Department of Education’s Special Education Division estimates the cost for taking care of a child with a disability is at least double compared to regular children.

Based on the 2009 Family Income and Expenditure Survey, Filipino families earned an average of P206,000 and spent P176,000 on the average. This translates to an average annual family savings of P31,000 in 2009. On a monthly basis, the reported average income was P17,200 and average expenditure was P14,700.

Families in the bottom 30% income group reported an average annual family income of P62,000. Families in the upper 70% income group earned an average annual income of P268,000. On a monthly basis, the average income of the families in the bottom 30% was P5,200 while the upper 70% earned an average of P22,300.

A child with a disability is understood to be one who is intellectually disabled, has hearing impairments (including deafness), speech or language impairments, visual impairments, serious emotional disturbance, orthopedic impairments, autism and traumatic brain injury.

Rep. Ramos pointed out that families living in the provinces have a harder time getting an educational program and medical assistance suitable to the child’s needs.

He said children with different disabilities are often grouped together rather than have separate classes for each condition.

Children with a learning disability topped the list of special needs children enrolled in a public elementary school as of 2009. A total of 51,296 children were assessed as learning disabled, while the number of mentally retarded/intellectually disabled children stood at 13,119. Children who are hard of hearing ranked third with 12,039.

For School Year 2007 to 2008, the number of enrolled children with special needs in public and private elementary schools stood at 92,429. This translates to a 27.6% increase compared to School Year 2004 to 2005’s total of 79,118. Many children no longer pursue secondary education or stay in elementary schools for an extended period of time.

About Rep. Deogracias B. Ramos Jr.

Liberal Party – Sorsogon, 2nd District

Rep. Deogracias B. Ramos, Jr. represents the Second District of Sorsogon in the House of Representatives. The district covers Bacon, Gubat, Barcelona, Bulan, Irosin, Santa Magdalena, Matnog, Juban and Prieto Diaz.

He currently serves as vice-chairman of the Committee on Natural Resources, Committee on Rural Development and Committee on Bicol Recovery and Economic Development.

Rep. Ramos received numerous national awards during his time as Mayor of Gubat, a second-class municipality in Sorsogon. These include:

• 1994 National Population Development Award

• 2002 TESDA Kabalikat Award

• 2004 Department of Agriculture Gawad Saka Award

• 2009 National Nutrition CROWN Award

• 2009 Punong Bayan Award of Excellence from the League of Municipalities of the Philippines.

The Congressman played a pivotal role in the establishment of the Bicol University – Gubat Campus.

The awards and the creation of the BU – Gubat Campus reflects the Congressman’s commitment to Agriculture, Education, Health, Nutrition and Public Service.

CONTACT:

T: (02)9315001 local 7210.

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The Roughness Of Times

 

by jun asuncion

 

The search for the roots can never be a one-man undertaking even if  given the time and the means to pursue it.  It is a teamwork. For unlike writing an article on  a particular theme, for instance, where one has an infinite resources available on the web or libraries, the search for one’s lineage is like an archeological adventure: the material is scarce and one is dependent on that factor that we call luck. Luck in finding the right spot on a vast space to start digging and luck if you meet the people who are working with you, not against you. You may have the complete tools that you need for this kind of work but without luck and this teamwork, you wouldn’t bump on the materials you are searching for that will answer the questions you have posed at the start of your quest.

I’m for instance lucky and happy that the fundamental work on our family tree was  done already by other relatives who worked hard together in gathering the data they needed. That’s teamwork. Now, my search focusses primarily on biographical details of our ancestors and in the future perhaps more on my own reflections on these.

 Big thanks, of course, to today’s internet technology which has made many things a lot easier for us,  from transfer of ideas to transfer of digital documents. Indeed, a lot easier and faster.

But still, your progress for this kind of work is still very much dependent on the materials you find or get from different sources, of documents that are relevant and could probably link you to another, or give meaning to the seemingly irrelevant material or even idea that you already have for long.

So, as in any work in progress, your grasp of the whole subject is constantly adapting to the new materials that you are getting or even losing because of being  proven to be wrong. Here lies the excitement of the situation, here is the excitement when you find luck, here is the joy of teamwork.

One such excitements that occurred to me was when I got an E-mail with an attachment which I think the best E-mail attachment that I received so far in my yahoo career. The e-mail came from my cousin Sonny Rayos who lives in Texas and who has been very much ahead of me in his search for the Asuncion roots. He said that he also received this document from a cousin Gabriel Asuncion. 

The attachment is an article authored by the now Prof. Santiago A. Pilar about Justiniano Asuncion entitled The Loving Eye For Detail which is biographical sketch of the artist Justiniano Asuncion. I said authored by the now Prof. Santiago because the article was published 35 years ago  in now defunct international  magazine the Archipelago and that I don’t know if Santiago was already a professor at that time. I’ve tried to contact Professor Santiago to ask for his permission for the reprint of his article here in Bulan Observer but as of now I haven’t been successful. In any case. I consider it necessary not to let this article lay dormant for another decades before it will have its readers again. Indeed, for such a beautiful work, to risk being accused of copyright  infringement is justified. But to the best of my estimation, a scholar in the caliber of Prof. Santiago wouldn’t lay about me if his work is appreciated for such a purpose that we have and within such circumstances.

In this article, and in other documents I received from Sonny Rayos, a few but very important questions were answered or earlier concept disproven. Disproven was my original conception that our patriarch Mariano Asuncion wasn’t a mestizo. He was indeed a mestizo with caucasian features and a prominent one in the 19th century Sta. Cruz. One solid proof of this argument is the existence of a sketch of him rendered by his son Justiniano, the master painter himself.  And my question that was answered through Santiago’s article was whether Justiniano ever visited his son Zacarias in Bulan. Indeed, the ageing father visited his son in Bicol and remained there until his death.

But there is one big thrilling  question here because Prof. Santiago mentioned another name of the town in Sorsogon which is Abueg, not Bulan which I expected. I thought for a while that Abueg must have been an old 19th century name for Bulan but my intensive net surfing rendered negative results. I really don’t know of any place in Sorsogon that bears this name today and in the last centuries. For the meantime I leave this issue open and just hold on to my assumption that this was a mistake until proven otherwise. Indeed, this is a work in progress.

With more and more inputs coming from other relatives about who is who and from whose line and where, this time is opportune to start updating the Tree. Hence,  I urge whoever is in possession of valuable material related to this work, blood relative or not, to share it to us so we can move on. Information of this kind should be passed around for it is not about you and me but for the future family generations to come and of continuing what Justiniano had started to pass around: His portraits of the Asuncion women, his drawing of his father and his self-portrait which unfortunately was destroyed by the roughness of times.

—–

next: The Loving Eye for Detail by Santiago A. Pilar

                                                 —end—-

The Noodle In Asuncions’ Soup

 by jun asuncion            

             

           

Clarifying some confusions.            

Old Sta. Cruz, Manila

 

  I’ve tried to know whether our patriarch Mariano Kagalitan was originally a  native Muslim. He was for sure not a mestizo of any kind or a Spaniard for he also had to change his family name later on to a Christian name (which is Assumption, later  developed to its present form  Asuncion)  under the Claveria Decree of 1849.            

What was known was that Mariano was one of those prominent people who resided in Sta. Cruz, that he was an accomplished artist himself who, as many of you know by now, produced master artists  like Leoncio, Justiniano, Mariano, Jr. and Antonio. Marianos’ ancestors were unknown to us until now. But about his wife Maria de la Paz Molo much is known.            

 The Beginnings…Of What We Know Only Today.            

Maria De La Paz Molo’s father was Ming Mong Lo, who- according to the family history – was a Chinese apothecary of Mandarin origins and married a local woman. Ming Mong Lo adopted the Christian name Jose Molo upon baptism –  and that was before the Claveria decree of 1849 and prospered as a merchant in the district of Binondo. He was said to have bequeathed five children, among them Paterno Joseph Molo and  Maria de La Paz Molo.            

 No doubt Maria de La Paz was half-Chinese and half-Filipino – assuming that her mother was not a “local” Chinese ( I have problem understanding what a “local” woman or man meant at that time).  Her mother’s  identity is totally unknown to me until a few days ago.            

And there was some sort of confusions in my search because of this:            

Old Binondo, Manila

 

 In his book,  Brains Of The Nation (published 2006 by Ateneo de Manila University Press), Resil B. Mojares took up as subjects of study his  “three figures of Filipino Enlightenment”, namely, Pedro Paterno, Th. Pardo De Tavera and Isabelo De Los Reyes and their influence on the production of modern knowledge in the Philippines. He mentioned that Ming Mong Lo, the earliest known patriarch of both the present day Asuncion and Paterno families, got married to a local woman with “blue blood” in her veins, she being  the “direct descendant of the Great Maguinoo, or Prince of Luzon”.            

My question was: Does this mean that the Asuncions could go as far as Raja Soliman as one among their patriarchs? This Great Maguinoo or Prince of Luzon could only be Raja Soliman, the famous King Of Tondo who initially resisted the Spanish adelantados. Resil’s argument had led me to wrong places which increased the confusion.            

 Until I was summoned by Maning Yatco by way of his comment here at BO to visit Toto Gonzalez’  Blog Remembrance Of Things Awry because of the interesting discussions there about the Asuncion-Molo-Yatco’s connection. It was in this site where I got an authoritative argument coming from Mickey and Jean Paterno who said that Ming Mong Lo (Jose Molo), their ancestor, married Anastacia Michaela , the proofs of which are the “baptismal records of his sons circa 1780’s.” They argued that their ancestors originally belonged to the “parish of the Parian” and that most probably they moved to the “upcoming barrio San Sebastian in Quiapo, the place “which his children cite as their principality in their legal documents.”            

It was probably in Quiapo where Maria De La Paz was born to Ming Mong Lo and Anastacia. ( Her birth had fulfilled already one requirement among others for the realization of the Asuncion clan.) By this point, it was clear to me that we couldn’t count Raja Soliman as among our patriarchs, the “blue blood” in our veins is out of the question then. Resil’s argument was not right, unless Anastacia Michaela, the wife of Ming Mong Lo, could be proven as descendant of Rajah Matanda or Raja Lakandula, both uncles of Rajah Soliman (political dynasty is as old as our history!)            

But who was this woman with this blue blood in her veins whom Pedro Paterno was explaining to the English author Mr. Foreman?             

Well, at this point we have to clear up first another confusion about Molo and Paterno. Substantially, they are the same. The  family name Paterno of the succeeding Molo generations came to be adopted by 1849 (most probably in fulfillment of the Claveria decree) to honor Paterno Joseph, a son of Jose Molo (originally Ming Mong Lo). Notice that Paterno is actually a first name. But it was common at that time among the Chinese mestizos to acquire the first names of their parents as their family names- exactly what the Molos did, at least with certainty by Paterno Joseph’s son, Maximo Paterno who was the father of the widely known historical figure Pedro Paterno of the Pact of Biak- na- Bato.            

It was probably from the lineage of Paterno Joseph where this “blue blood” in the veins could be traced back among the succeeding generations of Paternos due to his marriage with Miguela Yamson, the daughter of Juan Yapson and Maria de la Cruz- the name which is claimed  to be a descendant of Raja Soliman. (Note that during the introduction of the Claveria Decree, those natives who couldn’t read and write were just asked -or ordered- to draw a cross after their first names, hence the family names De La Cruz).  But it was through this  “marriage to Miguela Yamson that opened to Paterno Joseph Agustin (Molo) opportunities available only to local royalty, or the “principalia”. Hereafter, he was addressed as Don Paterno Agustin and qualified to run for public office”, commented Micky and Jean Paterno of today.            

The Asuncion and Paterno (Molo) Connection            

This started with the marriage of Mariano Kagalitan Asuncion to Maria De La Paz, the sister of Paterno Joseph. Paterno’s son Maximo was therefore a cousin of the first Asuncions — Justiniano, Leoncio, etc. It was Maximo who supported Justiniano Asuncion by commissioning portraits for the ladies of his house. Maximo had an astute sense for excellent investments and he had maximized his  fortune  in his capacity as gobernadorcillo of San Sebastian and Quiapo. He himself married thrice, the first with Valeriana Pineda, the second with Carmen De Vera Ignacio and the third with Carmen’s sister Theodora De Vera Ignacio whose portrait is shown here as painted by Justiniano.             

Hence, two things are clearer to me now: First,  that the Asuncions have partly  Chinese blood in their veins, second, that though they had also engaged in politics, like Mariano, Justiniano, etc., down to Don Zacarias and Adonis Asuncion their strength was not in politics, i.e.,  the way we understand “political strength”  in the Philippines before and now, but it is in the arts and the humanities and sciences that they excelled and earned recognition even beyond their times.            

                                                                                            —————             

Acknowledgement:  Sonny Rayos- Asuncion, Toto Gonzales’ Remembrance Of Things Awry, Micky and Jean Paterno, Resil B. Mojares, Wikipedia            

      ——————end——————–

The Asuncions In Politics, Arts And Sciences

by  jun asuncion

 

Part I: The Search Begins

This post is my reply to this comment from Jeffrey, an Asuncion. This made me take out my copy of our Family Tree which I got from my sister Menchu. The research for this Family tree is largely credited to my uncle Dr. Ronaldo Asuncion. So there is something private in this post, with the purpose of connecting with the other relatives of mine who would be willing to supply more information about our lineage and/or help me answer Jeffrey’s inquiry.The Asuncions have always been closely associated with the town of Bulan and they are proud of their town.

Here is Jeffrey’s comment:

hi i am jeffrey i grew up in manila but have roots in bulan. I learned that my great great grandfather rodolfo asuncion sr. is a son of zacarias. I wanted to know more about the line in the entry above stating that zacarias was among the many bulan residents persecuted by spaniards during the Revolution. would just like to know the exact details of what transpired that led to his detention. I presume this was the factor which led him to stay in pasig afterwards.”

Jeffrey was referring to this entry in Wikipedia/Bulan website which mentioned our great-grandfather Don Zacarias Asuncion:

“Don Teodoro De Castro y Zabala was arrested and incarcerated in Bilibid, because he was found in possession of letters written by anti-Spanish natives in Manila. Don Zacarias Asuncion and other residents suffered the same fate, for having no cedulas personales and for singing anti-Spanish songs.” (Wikipedia, Bulan website)

Personally, it interests me to know the music and lyrics of those anti- Spanish songs which my rebel great-grandfather sang and which led him behind bars. Composed or improvised?

Unable to find an answer, I went back to Justiniano Asuncion in search of any clue that might shed a little light to the Zacarias issue. Again, I found no answer but names after names of Asuncions in politics, arts and sciences. Verily, I’m proud of my grandfathers! To write about Justiniano alone would fill up pages, a task I wish I could do.

JUSTINIANO ASUNCION 

(1816-1901)

Religious Painter

Well-known as “Capitan Ting,” Justiniano Asuncion was one of the leading Filipino painters in the 19th century. He was born on September 26, 1816 in Sta. Cruz, Manila. He was the 11th among 12 children of Mariano Kagalitan, whose family name was changed to “Asuncion” following the Claveria Decree. In 1834, he studied at Escuela de Dibujo, where he obtained his skills in painting. Sometime in 1855, he became capitan municipal of Sta. Cruz, Manila. Asuncion was the painter of the famous “Coronation of the Virgin,” the “Virgin of Antipolo,” “Filomena Asuncion,” and “Romana A. Carillo.” He produced life-sized paintings of San Agustin, San Geronimo, San Antonio, and San Gregorio Magno which were kept at the Sta. Cruz Church before the Pacific War. These precious canvases were destroyed when the Japanese bombarded the church in February 1945. His works mirror the mannerism of that period – the first 75 years of the 19th century. The portraitists of those time carefully delineated features of the head; the hands and other minor details with linear accuracy; usually disregarding tonal values and emphasizing hardness of effect. The University of Santo Tomas Museum owns one of Asuncion’s paintings, dated February 1862. An unsigned portrait of Fr. Melchor Garcia de Sampedro at the UST Museum is said to be the work of Asuncion. Most of his other works are kept as national treasures at the Central Bank of the Philippines Museum. On September 12, 1983, at the façade of Sta. Cruz Church in Manila, a marker was installed in his honor. He died in 1901 at age of 85.

A painting of Justiniano:

Portrait of Teodora Devera Ygnacio

Justiniano Asuncion (1816-1901)

ca. 1880

References:

CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art, vol. IV. Manila: Cultural Center of the Philippines, 1994.

Manuel, E. Arsenio and Magdalena Avenir Manuel. Dictionary of Philippine Biography Volume

3. Quezon City: Filipinana Publications, 1986.

(Justiniano Asuncion [1816-1901] was my great-great- Grandfather. Married to Justina Farafina Gomez. Their children: Benita, Zacarias, Marcelina, Jacobo, Gabriel and Martiniana. Justiniano’s father was Mariano Kagalitan, Sr. (later Asuncion) whose other children were: Manuel (1792), Antonio (1794), Victoria (1796), Mamerta (1798), Justo (1800), Mariano,jr. (1802), Epifanio (1806), Ambrosio (1808), Pascula (1811), Leoncio (1813), Canuta (1819), Theodoro (18??).

————-

Don Zacarias Asuncion (son of Justiniano)

JEFE DEL PUEBLO (Municipal Mayor Of Bulan): 1898 – 1900

 “Don Teodoro De Castro y Zabala was arrested and incarcerated in Bilibid, because he was found in possession of letters written by anti-Spanish natives in Manila. Don Zacarias Asuncion and other residents suffered the same fate, for having no cedulas personales and for singing anti-Spanish songs.” (Wikipedia, bulan website)

Zacarias was  my great-grandfather. With Juana Zalvidea he had two daughters, Guia and Consuelo. With Remedios Ramirez he had I think 9 children: Adonis, Jacobo, Rodolfo, Salvador, Justina, Justiniano, Zacarias [jr?], Kenerino [founder of Southern Luzon Institute SLI, later KRAMS, married to Leonora Paras] and Digna.

————– 

 Adonis Asuncion

(son of Zacarias)

Municipal Mayor of Bulan:  1941-43; 1945-46

 

Adonis was my grandfather, grew up with him in our compound; in 1967 this wonderful grandfather of mine wandered all over Bulan South Central School looking for me with a handful of school supplies. It was just the opening of classes. He found me at the classroom of Miss Ceres McCoy Villareal (?), my grade one teacher. Unforgettable!

Uncles and aunties:

Rafael Asuncion ( national artist, he comes from the Leoncio Asuncion lineage. Leoncio was a brother of Justiniano).

“Rafael Asuncion comes from the long line of Asuncion artists, namely Justiniano, Mariano, Leoncio and Jose Maria. This present-day Asuncion is a Master of Fine Arts graduate of theAsean Institute of Art. A recipient of many top awards, he was also a founding member of the Art Association of the Philippines and a president of the Art Directors Club of the Philippines. Asuncion is likewise credited with designing a dozen commemorative stamps and the 10, 50, and 500 Philippine peso banknotes and coins-flora and fauna series with two other artists. He is credited with designing the UP College of Fina Arts official seal. The Asuncion artistic lineage does not end with Rafael. His children, along with other members of the Asuncion clan are also artists and so the saga continues”

Among Rafael’s designs: The P500 bill

                                         

SCHOLASTIC ACHIEVERS/BOARD/ BAR TOPNOTCHERS

1. Digna Asuncion (sister of Adonis Asuncion)- Topnotcher, Pharmacy Board Exam/ Pre-War Doctor Of Philosophy and Letters, Universidad de Madrid (Spain) Summa Cum Laude

2. Rodolfo G. Asuncion, Jr. – No. 1 Marine Officers Examination (married to Remedios Grayda; his parents were Rodolfo Asuncion Sr. [brother of Adonis] and Monica Gerona; Among his siblings were Salvador [father of the actress Aurora Salve], Rizalina, Raquel, Ruben, Ronaldo [a medical Doctor, former Dean Of Radiology Department, UST] and Rene. )

3. Iluminada Asuncion (daughter of Jacobo, Adonis’ brother) 11th Place, Dentistry Board 1953

4. Consuelo Asuncion (sister of Iluminada)- 1st Place, Pharmacy Board 1954

5. Natividad R. Asuncion (sister of Iluminada)- 1st Place, Nursing Board 1954

6. Rizalina Asuncion (sister of Rodolfo, Jr.)- 1st Place, Sr. Teacher Exams for Physics 1956

——

 JOSE MARIA R. ASUNCION

(1869-1925)

Painter and Writer

The eldest of four children, Jose Ma. Asuncion was born to Hilarion Asuncion and Marcela Raymundo of Sta. Cruz, Manila, on December 14, 1869. His father, the son of LeoncioAsuncion, a notable wood carver, was a portraitist and painter of religious subjects. Asuncion enrolled at the Ateneo de Manila and obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1888. At the time, he was studying at the Academia de Dibujo y Pintura, 1884-1889, then under the direction of Agustin Saez. Later, he transferred to the University of Santo Tomas to study under Felipe Roxas, who advised him to take further studies abroad. In 1890, both Roxas and Asuncion were in Paris. Asuncion received a grant from Agustina Medel, wealthy patroness of the arts from Manila and, later, owner of Teatro Zorilla.

While in Paris, he met the Filipino painters Juan Luna and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo and French artists. The following year he enrolled at the Escuela de Bellas Artes in Madrid, where he studied for four years, 1891-1895. He garnered first prize in general history of art and costumes and obtained second prize in theory, aesthetics, and philosophy of art. While at the Escuela, he befriended Vicente Francisco, a government pensionado in sculpture who was then enrolled at the same academy. In 1895, he sailed back to Manila, passed a competitive examination, and was appointed assistant in the Escuela Profesional de Artes y Oficios, in Iloilo, which position he held until November 1898.

During the second stage of the Philippine Revolution, he served in the military administration and at one time took charge of the provisions for Filipino forces in Iloilo. He was transferred to the engineer corps as lieutenant under Gen. Adriano Hernandez. He helped in the construction of fortifications and trenches in Jaro, Leganes, La Paz and other strategic points. He also served under Gen. Pablo Araneta during the Filipino-American War. He was promoted to captain in February 1899, and three months later, to commander.

When the Americans gradually gained ground on his forces, he retreated to the mountains. After some time, Asuncion and his wife, Juana Hubero, whom he married in September 1899, went to Calbayog, Samar to join his father who ran a grocery store. It was in his town that his wife gave birth to their first child, Vicente. A year later, finding Samar not yet wholly pacified, he moved his family to Tacloban, Leyte. He stayed there for four years, spending his time painting landscapes and telons for local comedias. He also engaged in photography, a business which he left to his brother Gabriel’s management when he left for Manila in 1905.

He studied law, 1905-1909. He became a member of the Partido Independista, and was soon contributing articles on art and social and economic problems to the party’s organ, La Independencia. He also wrote for El Ilonguillo, La Voz de Mindanao, La Union, El Estudiante, El Renacimiento, The Independent, and Dia Filipino. Together with Rafael Enriquez, he founded the Sociedad Internacional de Artistas of Manila. Enriquez became its first president and Asuncion, its secretary. During their term, the Exposicion de Bellas Artes y Industrias Artisticas was held in December 1908, in time for the visit of an American squadron. This exhibition displayed more than 4,000 pieces of art. It aroused much interest and emphasized the need for a publicly supported institution in the arts.

Asuncion was a Freemason. His masonic writings may be found in Hojas Sueltas and The Cabletow. His studies on the history of Philippine art and his sketches of Filipino costumes are among the few exceedingly valuable contributions on these subjects. The drawings numbered 215 when Manuel Artigas y Cuerva saw them, but they were never wholly published. Some appeared in print under the title, “El Traje Filipino, 1750 a 1830,” in Revista Historica de Filipinas, for August 1905. He could have left a much more significant tribute to his memory had this collection of studies and drawings been published. But after his death, it was neglected. When another painter, Vicente Alcarez Dizon, saw Asuncion’s scattered works, they were already in a bad state. He acquired them and used them later for his studies.

When the University of the Philippines School of Fine Arts was opened, Asuncion accepted an appointment to its faculty on June 1, 1909. Two years later, on July 1, 1911, he was made secretary of the school. Asuncion’s paintings are included in the private collections of Alfonso T. Ongpin, Antonio Torres, Epifanio de los Santos Cristobal, and the Limjap family. He was considered by Fabian de la Rosa as a specialist in “still life” and, at the same time, as one who “devoted himself with notable ability, to the studies of art, archaeology and journalism.”

He died on May 2, 1925. His remains were buried in the Veteran’s Lot, Cementerio del Norte, Manila. In 1932, his heirs donated his collection of writings to the National Library. /

(References: CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art Volume 4. Manila: Cultural Center of the Philippines, 1994. Manuel, E. Arsenio. Dictionary of Philippine Biography Volume I. Quezon City: Filipiniana Publications, 1955.)/

Jose Maria R. Asuncion, the versatile Asuncion, painter, writer, soldier, educator, freemason, family man…what else shall we wish for? His father was Hilarion Asuncion, his grandfather was Leoncio, the brother of Justiniano. What else is there? Yes, he was the father of our living Asuncion artist Rafael Asuncion! Rafael has two other brothers,Vicente and Gabriel. That R in Jose’s name, his middle name, came from Marcela Raymundo, his mother, naturally.

—–

Part II  The Noodle In Asuncions’ Soup

Clarifying Some Confusions

I’ve tried to know whether our patriarch Mariano Kagalitan was originally a native Muslim. He was for sure not a mestizo of any kind nor a Spaniard for he also had to change his family name later on to a Christian name ( which is Assumption, later developed to its present form Asuncion) under the Claveria Decree of 1849.

What was known was that Mariano was one of those prominent people who resided in Sta. Cruz, that he was an accomplished artist himself who, as many of you know by now, produced master artists like Leoncio, Justiniano. Marianos’ ancestors were unknown to us until now. But about his wife Maria de la Paz Molo much is known.

The Beginnings…Of What We Know Only Today.

Maria De La Paz Molo’s father was Ming Mong Lo, who- according to the family history – was a Chinese apothecary of Mandarin origins and married a local woman.

Ming Mong Lo adopted the Christian name Jose Molo upon baptism – and that was before the Claveria decree of 1849 and prospered as a merchant in the district of Binondo. He was said to have bequeathed five children, among them Paterno Joseph Molo and Maria de La Paz Molo.

No doubt Maria de La Paz was half Chinese and half Filipino – assuming that her mother was not a “local” Chinese ( I have problem understanding what a “local” woman or man meant at that time). Her mother’s identity is totally unknown to me until a few days ago.

And there was some sort of confusion in my research because of this:

In his book, Brains Of The Nation (published 2006 by Ateneo de Manila University Press), Resil B. Mojares took up as subjects of study his “three figures of Filipino Enlightenment”, namely, Pedro Paterno, Th. Pardo De Tavera and Isabelo De Los Reyes and their influence on the production of modern knowledge in the Philippines. He mentioned that Ming Mong Lo, the earliest known patriarch of both the present day Asuncion and Paterno families, got married to a local woman with “blue blood” in her veins, she being the “direct descendant of the Great Maguinoo, or Prince of Luzon”.

My question was: Does this mean that the Asuncions could go as far as Raja Soliman as one among their patriarchs?

This Great Maguinoo or Prince of Luzon could only be Raja Soliman, the famous King Of Tondo who initially resisted the Spanish adelantados. Resil’s argument had led me to wrong places which increased the confusion.

Until I was summoned by Maning Yatco by way of his comment here at BO to visit Toto Gonzalez’ Blog Remembrance Of Things Awry because of the interesting discussions there about the Asuncion-Molo-Yatco’s connection.

It was in this site where I got an authoritative argument coming from Mickey and Jean Paterno who said that Ming Mong Lo (Jose Molo), their ancestor, married Anastacia Michaela , the proofs of which are the “baptismal records of his sons circa 1780’s.” They argued that their ancestors originally belonged to the “parish of the Parian” and that most probably they moved to the “upcoming barrio San Sebastian in Quiapo, the place “which his children cite as their principality in their legal documents.”

It was probably in Quiapo where Maria De La Paz was born to Ming Mong Lo and Anastacia.(Her birth had fulfilled already one requirement among others for the realization of the Asuncion clan.)

By this point, it was clear to me that we couldn’t count Raja Soliman as among our patriarchs, the “blue blood” in our veins is out of the question then. Resil’s argument was not right, unless Anastacia Michaela, the wife of Ming Mong Lo, could be proven as descendant of Rajah Matanda or Raja Lakadula, both uncles of Rajah Soliman (political dynasty is as old as our history!)

But who was this woman with this blue blood in her veins whom Pedro Paterno was explaining to the English author Mr. Foreman?

From Molo To Paterno

Well, at this point we have to clear up first another confusion about Molo and Paterno. Substantially, they are the same. The family name Paterno of the succeeding Molo generations came to be adopted by 1849 (most probably in fulfillment of the Claveria decree) to honor Paterno Joseph, a son of Jose Molo (originally Ming Mong Lo). Notice that Paterno is actually a first name. But it was common at that time among the Chinese mestizos to acquire the first names of their parents as their family names- exactly what the Molos did, at least with certainty by Paterno Joseph’s son, Maximo Paterno who was the father of the widely known historical figure Pedro Paterno of the Pact of Biak- na- Bato.

It was probably from the lineage of Paterno Joseph where this “blue blood” in the veins could be traced back among the succeeding generations of Paternos due to his marriage with Miguela Yamson, the daughter of Juan Yapson and Maria de la Cruz- the name which is claimed to be a descendant of Raja Soliman. (Note that during the introduction of the Claveria Decree, those natives who couldn’t read and write were just asked -or ordered- to draw a cross after their first names, hence the family names De La Cruz). But it was through this “marriage to Miguela Yamson that opened to Paterno Agustin opportunities available only to local royalty, or the “principalia”. hereafter, he was addressed as Don Paterno Agustin and qualified to run for public office”, commented Maxi and Jean Paterno of today.

The Asuncion and Paterno (Molo) Connection

This started with the marriage of Mariano Kagalitan Asuncion to Maria De La Paz, the sister of Paterno Joseph. Paterno’s son Maximo was therefore a cousin of the first Asuncions — Justiniano, Leoncio, etc. It was Maximo who supported Justiniano Asuncion by commissioning portraits for the ladies of his house. Maximo had an astute sense for excellent investments and he had maximized his fortune in his capacity as gobernadorcillo of San Sebastian and Quiapo. He himself married thrice, the first with Valeriana Pineda, the second with Carmen De Vera Ignacio and the third with Carmen’s sister Theodora De Vera Ignacio whose portrait is shown above as painted by Justiniano.

Hence, two things are clearer to me now: First, that the Asuncions have partly Chinese blood in their veins, second, that though they had also engaged in politics, like Mariano, Justiniano, etc., down to Don Zacarias and Adonis Asuncion their strength was not in politics, i.e., the way we understand “political strength” in the Philippines before and now , but it is in the arts and the humanities and sciences that they excelled and earned recognition even beyond their times.

—–

Acknowledgement: Toto Gonzales’ Remembrance Of Things Awry, Sonny Rayos, Micky and Jean Paterno, Resil B. Mojares, Wikipedia

Part III  The Roughness Of Times

The search for the roots can never be a one-man undertaking even if given the time and the means to pursue it. It is a teamwork. For unlike writing an article on a particular theme, for instance, where one has an infinite resources available on the web or libraries, the search for one’s lineage is like an archeological adventure: the material is scarce and one is dependent on that factor that we call luck. Luck in finding the right spot on a vast space to start digging and luck if you meet the people who are working with you, not against you. You may have the complete tools that you need for this kind of work but without luck and this teamwork, you wouldn’t bump on the materials you are searching for that will answer the questions you have posed at the start of your quest.

I’m for instance lucky and happy that the fundamental work on our family tree was done already by other relatives who worked hard together in gathering the data they needed. That’s teamwork. Now, my search focusses primarily on biographical details of our ancestors and in the future perhaps more on my own reflections on these.

Big thanks, of course, to today’s internet technology which has made many things a lot easier for us, from transfer of ideas to transfer of digital documents. Indeed, a lot easier and faster.

But still, your progress for this kind of work is still very much dependent on the materials you find or get from different sources, of documents that are relevant and could probably link you to another, or give meaning to the seemingly irrelevant material or even idea that you already have for long.

So, as in any work in progress, your grasp of the whole subject is constantly adapting to the new materials that you are getting or even losing because of being proven to be wrong. Here lies the excitement of the situation, here is the excitement when you find luck, here is the joy of teamwork.

One such excitements that occurred to me was when I got an E-mail with an attachment which I think the best E-mail attachment that I received so far in my yahoo career. The e-mail came from my cousin Sonny Rayos who lives in Texas and who has been very much ahead of me in his search for the Asuncion roots. He said that he also received this document from a cousin Gabriel Asuncion.

The attachment is an article authored by the now Prof. Santiago A. Pilar about Justiniano Asuncion entitled The Loving Eye For Detail which is a biographical sketch of the artist Justiniano Asuncion. I said authored by the now Prof. Santiago because the article was published 35 years ago in now defunct international magazine the Archipelago and that I don’t know if Santiago was already a professor at that time. I’ve tried to contact Professor Santiago to ask for his permission for the reprint of his article here in Bulan Observer but as of now I haven’t been successful. In any case. I consider it necessary not to let this article lay dormant for another decades before it will have its readers again. Indeed, for such a beautiful work, to risk being accused of copyright infringement is justified. But to the best of my estimation, a scholar in the caliber of Prof. Santiago wouldn’t lay about me if his work is appreciated for such a purpose that we have and within such circumstances.

In this article, and in other documents I received from Sonny Rayos, a few but very important questions were answered or earlier concept disproven. Disproven was my original conception that our patriarch Mariano Asuncion wasn’t a mestizo. He was indeed a mestizo with caucasian features and a prominent one in the 19th century Sta. Cruz. One solid proof of this argument is the existence of a sketch of him rendered by his son Justiniano, the master painter himself. And my question that was answered through Santiago’s article was whether Justiniano ever visited his son Zacarias in Bulan. Indeed, the ageing father visited his son in Bicol and remained there until his death.

But there is one big thrilling question here because Prof. Santiago mentioned another name of the town in Sorsogon which is Abueg, not Bulan which I expected. I thought for a while that Abueg must have been an old 19th century name for Bulan but my intensive net surfing rendered negative results. I really don’t know of any place in Sorsogon that bears this name today and in the last centuries. For the meantime I leave this issue open and just hold on to my assumption that this was a mistake until proven otherwise. Indeed, this is a work in progress.

With more and more inputs coming from other relatives about who is who and from whose line and where, this time is opportune to start updating the Tree. Hence, I urge whoever is in possession of valuable material related to this work, blood relative or not, to share it to us so we can move on. Information of this kind should be passed around for it is not about you and me but for the future family generations to come and of continuing what Justiniano had started to pass around: His portraits of the Asuncion women, his drawing of his father and his self-portrait which unfortunately was destroyed by the roughness of times.

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Featured article:

A 19th-century burgher records the faces of his people (originally published in the 1975 edition of the Archipelago magazine)

by Santiago A. Pilar

Perhaps the most satirical of witticisms expressed about the Philippines during the Spanish times was made by a visiting French nobleman in a report to his country in 1766. « I am writing you from the other side of the globe, and may I even add from the 14th century ! » declared M. Le Gentil de la Galasiere who, steeped in the ideas of the then modern French Enlightenment, must have been intensely shocked about the medieval lifeways of Spain’s territory in Asia.

The erudite Seigneur’s caustic esprit was only one of the volley of similar pointed comments hurled at the quality of the Spanish rule in the islands, criticisms which eventually stirred up some enlightened Spanish hearts into taking steps toward a better administration. Out of these attempts at reforms aimed primarily at improving the country’s unpredictable economy, one move was the institution of government-subsidized agricultural projects and incentives.

Whereas years of economic dependence on the Chinese silk trade with Mexico neglected the natural potentials of the islands, the colonial government now turned its attention to the development of natural resources and the stimulation of agricultural activities.

The much sought- after spices of yore no longer commanded a monopoly of interest; crops like sugar, tobacco, indigo and hemp began to be in demand. In 1834, when Spain at last officially opened Manila to international commerce, progress began to be seen in manifold manifestations, among which was art patronage.

Perhaps no other painter’s life was more intimately interwoven with the course of newly prosperous 19th-century Manila than that of the early master, Justiniano Asuncion. Gifted with a durable life of 80 years, he witnessed prosperity coming upon the once languid city and bringing new turns in the destinies of its awakened inhabitants. As a consequence of this long life, his painting career reflected the artistic preferences of his flourishing milieu perhaps more faithfully than any of his contemporaries.

Justiniano Asuncion was elected cabeza de barangay in the community of mestizos in Sta. Sruz, Manila. For this reason, he was ever after fondly called Capitan Ting. The biographer Manuel Artigas y Cuerva jotted a 14-sentence sketch of his life and called him modelo de honradez, an exemplar of tacto y prudencia.

The Sta. Cruz of 1816, when Capitan Ting was born still carried the features of what Le Gentil de la Galaisiere, 50 years earlier, referred to as the “fourteenth century”. As any other Christianized spot in the islands, the district reminded the monsieur of some medieval European faubourg: a self-complacent artisan’s village that only trembled when threatened with the fires of hell. Little surprise it is, therefore, that the quiet nest of sculptors, smiths, embroiderers and jewelry setters was noted for spectacular church processions, activities which must have absorbed the year-round material profits and efforts of its dexterous denizens.

According to the medieval scheme of things, the fine arts were crouched within the level of the crafts. The painter, however much praised, was seated between the tailor and the carpenter. In fact, he had to enlist himself in a guild encompassing all citizens who practiced his profession. This guild system was a mechanism of the colonial government to facilitate the collection of tributes.

Another medieval aspect of Sta. Cruz’ lifeways was the classification of its citizens into communities according to race- Chinese, mestizo or native. Each community elected its own officials and competed with each other in the civic and religious affairs of the district. The Gremio de Mestizos, to which the Asuncions belonged, since 1741 surpassed in prestige its father guild, the Gremio de Chinos.and continued to be the most influential group in the arrabal until the end of the 19th century.

It is often said that artistic genius runs in the family. Justiniano’s lineage is a shining example. His elder brothers, Antonio, Ambrosio and Mariano, were all recognized by religious organizations for their talents as painters. Antonio even earned a flattering epithet, Fra Angelico Filipino! Manuel and Leoncio- Justiniano was the youngest son in a family of 12- maintained a sculptors’ shop and executed many life-size figures, like the Tercera Caida which was carried during Holy Week processions in their home district.

Neither were the Asuncions an ordinary mestizo family. Their father, Don Mariano, assumed the coveted position of cabeza de barangay in 1805. An engraving of his ancestor, copied from a paste original by Justiniano, depicts him in the powerful pose of a grand patriarch. Of interest is his costume. Typical of his mestizo class, he wears loose pantaloons, an equally loose camiza, intricately embroidered at the hems, and a collar kerchief to simulate the European cravat. His hair is gathered at the back of his head into a Chinese pigtail. Curiously, he wears a pair of slippers with curled toes.

Perhaps it is important to mention that the family name was recently acquired. Don Mariano was originally surnamed Kagalitan. Perhaps the old man adopted a Spanish surname as he rose in position in society. The spirit of change was beginning to dominate the times.

Neither did the ambiance of progress leave the artistic world untouched. When Justiniano was about six years of age, the painter’s lot as a craftsman was elevated to better status with the establishment of Escuela de Dibujo, the first public art school in the community. Since the painter now went to school, the respectability of his position became fairly assured. Thus when young Ting reached schooling age, he had not only exposed himself to the artistic influences of his brothers, he must have also attended the Escuela wherein Don Damian seems to have been the sole professor.

When the school closed in 1834- “for lack of funds”- aspiring painters had to seek private tutorship from recognized masters. Both the lessons under Don Damian and those under private tutelage seem to have consisted of the same rigorous training designed to acquaint their pupils with the nuances of realistic painting, with the fastidious emphasis on details, as the standard of times dictated. The supreme test of this sensitivity to details was the limning of miniatures, religious portraits on a golden or ivory or cloth surface, usually the size of a thumb and later on framed on chains or rosary beads. Justiniano made many of these locket paintings but it is difficult to make infallible attributions of extant examples to his name.

One authenticated early work establishes his affiliation to Don Damian and his contemporaries. This religious painting, wrought on copper sheet, is entitled “The Coronation of the Virgin”. A favorite subject of religious paintings, the original picture may have been a polychromatic estampa. The subject, as further interpreted by local painters, has acquired an Oriental grace, a visual flatness or lightness as done in very fine polish with the Chinese brush. The young Justiniano’ painting of the Virgin had a cool sweetness that emanated from cautious hands.

Filomena Asuncion (Oil portrait, miniature, c. 1875/ click photo to enlarge)

Little drawings of native costumes and scenery such as those trajes painted by Don Damian in the 1820s grew in popularity as more foreign ships docked in the country. What today would be called picture post cards, these little mementos attracted foreign travelers no end. A recently discovered collection of these so- called tipos del pais was done by Justiniano to depict the attire of his times in the 1840s. This album attests to his mastery of water color in drawing the minutest details. A matter of interest is the fact that his album had both Spanish and English captions which hint that they were aimed at some English patrons.

A thriving contemporary, Juan Transfiguration Nepomuceno, also drew similarly costumed figures to illustrate the French scholar Jean Mallat’s Les Philippines. In comparing the two albums, an ineffable difference is at once apparent. While Nepomuceno’s models looked like garbed mannequins, cold and poised, Asuncion’s are breathing humans, pulsating and alive. The characterization of these figures indicate his realistic capturing of the particular personality of his portrait sitters.

Justiniano’s album de trajes was to become the standard to be copied, both in subject and configuration, by future magazine illustrations in his century. His influence is clearly evident beginning with the drawings of C.W. Andrews, the British illustrator of La Illustracion Filipina, a magazine which ran for publication between 1859 and 1860.

Toward the end of the 1840s, Justiniano’s name as a painter had grown in importance. In 1850, Rafael Diaz Arenas, a Spaniard who contributed articles to Diario de Manila, published his memoirs and in it made allusions to Justiniano’s fame. He wrote: “After Damian, Arceo excelled in portraiture…now it is said that there is one in Santa Cruz who paints very well but I do not know him”

By this time, Justiniano had married Justina Parafina. In February 25, 1853, he was elected cabeza de barangay de mestizos in his district like his father before him. During his term, he inaugurated a new street along the San Lazaro Hospital area which is known today as Oroquieta.

By the 1850s, a considerable number of truly affluent Filipino families began to emerge as a result of the flourishing trade with British and American firms. With more money to spend on the amenities of life, tastes for leisure, entertainment and material acquisition began to change accordingly. In the arts, for instance, a marked shift in interest from religious to secular paintings arose not out of sheer irreverence on th clientele’s part, but because it was almost mandatory to equate one’s wealth with more mundane signs. Moreover, the new bourgeoisie’s success in business and agriculture and their eventual ascent to society had precipitated their growing importance as individuals. Understandably, in posing for a portrait, one invariably underscored one’s position or consequence.

Understandably then the earliest known portrait painted by Capitan Ting was dated in the 1850s. The sitter was probably the most influential señor of his district, Don Paterno Molo y Agustin, businessman-proprietor of a chain of merchant boats that brought divers goods as far as Aparri. It was actually Don Paterno’s first name which was later adopted by his socially prominent and affluent descendants as their family name. When he posed for this portrait Don Paterno was in the twilight of his life and his son, the equally prestigious Don Maximo or Capitan Memo was already overseeing his business for him.

Another early portrait executed by Capitan Ting is a half-body close up of his niece, Filomena, eldest daughter of his brother, Leoncio. This retrato is dated to the late 1850s by inference of the style of the model’s costume. Interestingly, this is the only extant portrait depicting a Maria Clara of that period- the panuelo over a non-transparent blouse with striped and relatively tapered long sleeves. One can easily pick out Filomena’s costume among the female figures painted by the German Karuth in 1858.

By the early 1860s, the affluent in the provinces caught the fever for portraits. The portrait painters of Manila now traveled to the provinces to seek the patronage of the town principalia. In Candaba today, in what was once a great house there used to hang the magnificent life-size portrait of Don Norberto Castor, a wealthy landlord of that feudal town. Don Berto’s importance is more than suggested by Capitan Ting in the portrait he painted in 1861. Togged in the fine European fashion of his days, the retrato speaks of a bygone era now romanticized in the movies.

In the late 1870s, Justiniano went back to the Paterno mansion to paint Capitan Memo’s third wife, Doña Teodora, and his daughter, Dolores, composer of the ballad La Flor de Manila, now popularly known as Sampaguita.The three portraits executed by Capitan Ting for the Paternos- Don Paterno included- are of equal artistic merits all attest to the painters unsurpassed forte of capturing his sister’s individual personalities.

Comparatively speaking, however, Don Paterno’s portrait would perhaps draw the interest of the more analytic viewers. Here, the subject is the venerability of old age rather than the relatively common place topic of Filipina femininity or the intricate embroideries of the Maria Clara. Capitan Ting seems to be playing homage to senility rather than to the worldly prominence of his sitter. His interest is in the steady gaze, the heavily drawn lips and the highly domed forehead. The conscious stiffness of his model’s carriage seems to be the wisdom of one who has had battles with life and emerges with more resolute views about it. The infirmity of age is however lightened by the rich designs of his embroidered cuffs and collar. The bold vertical line of the barong gives the old man one last tenacious display of strength and power.

In contrast to the tone and temper of Don Paterno’s retrato, the one of Dolores is a visceral display of bourgeois ostentation. Justiniano justifiably eschews in this masterpiece the element of character- he is primarily concerned with what the eyes can behold rather than what the mind can analyze. The subject is a handsome young woman of the gentry class, and perhaps it should be so. Here, the actual and symbolic nuances of mundane prosperity is at once the order; the rich embroideries of the pañuelo and skirt, the rings on seven fingers, the bejeweled hairpin brooch, the matching fan and kerchief she clasps in one hand, the limpid eyes of one who has not seen much hardship in life, and the fine lips set in an aristocratic smile. The viewer is held back however of begrudging Dolores all her well-appointed fineries because Justiniano imbues her with a kind of inner warmth emanating from an Arcadian purity of mind and spirit. The eyes and the suppressed smile definitely conveys Dolores’ genial nature.

Capitan Ting devotes equally meticulous attention to the exquisite embroidery of the pañuelo in the portrait of Doña Teodora. Yet still, the gracious-but-firm character, which a woman so young had to evolve as matriarch of Capitan Memo’s brood by two previous marriages and as manager of a complex joyeria, or jewelry store and workshop could not but illumine the smooth wood of the picture.

The portraits executed by Capitan Ting, each a unique statement on the nature of a particular individual, always draw out fresh and varying experiences from their viewers. The opposite effect is what is rather felt in portraits done by his contemporaries who almost never went beyond idealizing their sitter’s physical appearance and whose work therefore when seen as a body, despite the variety of subjects, rather leave their viewers with a sense of the monotonous: that you’ve-seen-all-if-you’ve-seen-one-effect.

The impression does not hold with the works of Capitan Ting. An admirer would, on the contrary, be even more amazed upon seeing his portrait of his niece Romana, daughter of his brother Antonio, married to a Carillo from Biñan. This, he painted in 1875. Here, the Master, can no longer be held back by the rigid artistic convention of his setting. The strict surveillance made upon the painter in the previous century conditioned the artist to merely copying engravings or actual objects and forbade him to express any personal interpretation of his subject. Now, the highly individualistic artist that Capitan Ting was, breaks away from the professional distance that he is expected to keep to his work and unabashedly suffuses it with his own presence, his own fine madness. His painting therefore reaches the level of a poet-artist’s manifesto.

Unless other works of similar temperament come to the fore in order that a stylistic lyrical period among Manila’s painters of that time could be established, the portrait of Roman Carillio remains a phenomenon of expression in the entire history of painting in the Philippines. The presently known paintings dated to that decade are likeness-portraits by Antonio Malantik, Lorenzo Rocha, and Simon Flores.

In 1875, neither Juan Luna nor Felix Resurrection Hidalgo had yet reached Europe to experience artistic emancipation. It could only have been through the spark of some book of artistic reproductions or the temperament of some circulating foreign novels that led the highly sensitive Capitan to the possible heights of freedom of spirit that the artist could enjoy in places outside of his environment.

The decade during which Capitan Ting lived, the 1870s, was the decade of Cavite mutiny, a period of witchhunting and, as a whole, was stiflingly repressive. Perhaps such atmosphere was what precisely sent the Maestro to soar into some Elysian sphere. Indeed, the sublime aspiration to transcend the harsh, the bitter or the cruel is the one and only theme of the portrait of Romana Carillo. Just as Romana clasps a book, Capitan Ting’s oeuvre is an appeal to Reason, to Knowledge, to the Order that sometimes only art is capable of. Perhaps it is necessary to mention here that Justiniano went through a very bitter experience when in 1863, the calamitous earthquake that wrecked Manila, ruined his home and killed his bachelor brother, Ambrosio.

There is much more to the merits of “The Woman with a Book” as a phenomenal milestone in the stylistic evolution of Philippine painting. In this work, Justiniano rises above the ground on which he and his artistic predecessors have hitherto worked. In painting the sunset behind Romana Carillo, he advanced the possibilities of the local realistic style, shifting it from its mere use as a technique to render life-likeness to its possible virtue as an idiom of temperament, a mode of self-expression. The landscape, not as a scene per se, but as an instrument to create atmosphere, was itself a novelty and the use of the colors of the sunset could have been a point of departure from the extremely linear predisposition of the current realism.

Indeed, a highly creative person like the Capitan was now bored with the miniaturistic style and wanted to move to another direction in his art.His milieu, however, the entire powerful force actually lagging behind him compelled him to work with it. Hence the detailed workmanship of the portraits of the Paterno ladies. The spirit of the 1880s all the more called for the artist to record his setting in the graphic detail. The decade that cried for reforms- for material, specific changes- obliged the artist to graphically immortalize whatever was gained.

After the earthquake of 1863, there was a rebuilding and renovating of church buildings and the most ornate of ornamentation possible, present evidences seem to say, was the natural defensive reaction toward the witnessed perishability of things.

Four life- size oval frames painted by Capitan Ting, which used to hang on the predentives of Sta. Cruz Church depicting the figures of Saint Augustine, Jerome, Ambrose and Gregory the Grant were typical of the taste of the period. These works were done in the trompe l’oeil tradition, offering occasional distractions upon devotees who would look up now and then to wonder whether the adornment of the Saints’ robes were real or painted. An extant example he did in this phase of realism is the painting, “Virgen de Antipolo.” As in paintings of a truly realistic nature, the Capitan was able to capture the natural light that, translated to the canvas, projected the holy image’s priceless jewels to very high relief. Here is realism at its full development, and here was Capitan Ting, bored with it but desperately tied to it whenever commissioned by his powerful patrons.

In the state of boredom, he often used his skills to amuse and confuse his guests and admirers alike. He is remembered to have painted on the downstairs wall of his newly built house, right under the window balustrade, a life-size infant falling in midair. The picture never failed to startle or evoke shrieks from passersby who at first glance thought the child was real. Once he also painted on the top of the chest, a scattering of very realistic coins, causing embarrassment to guests who stopped to pick them up.

It was indeed time for Capitan Ting to amuse not only others but himself. The spirit of change seemed to be no longer working on his side. In 1884, Luna and Hidalgo become a sensational dou when they won major medals at the Exposition de Bellas Artes in Madrid. This achievement created a completely new turn in the artistic tastes of the time, for now artists who were educated abroad were lionized over those who stayed home and did not have the benefits of a European training. The wily ones began to copy Luna’s or Hidalgo’s techniques and concepts. Others who chose to remain as they were risked the danger of vanishing from the success scene.

Capitan Ting who was in his 70s probably considered himself too old to compete with the young and trendy painters. In Manila’s art circles and to Capitan, it was clear that the miniaturistic style of realism had passed.

Gray times too fell on the mestizo businessmen of Manila. The many foreign firms that had branches in Manila found faster market for their goods in the retail store of Chinese merchants. The Chinese, in turn, by virtue of their business connections with these big foreign firms, began to move steadily toward gaining control of the retail trade, once the domain of the mestizo businessmen.

In the ambiance of this redoubtable financial losses, Capitan Ting’s adventurous son, Zacarias, set out for the province of Sorsogon about 1886, there to find better business opportunities where the Chinese had not yet gained foothold. It is said that his was the first “supermarket of Abueg town. With his marriage to a girl from nearby Masbate, Remedios Ramires, Zacarias so firmly established himself in that province that Capitan Ting felt sufficiently called upon to make the long and arduous trip to visit him.

While in faraway Sorsogon, Capitan Ting learned of a new reform introduced in Manila. In a decree signed by the Overseas Minister of Spain, the guild system was abolished and replaced by a more systematized structurazation of the municipal government itself. By a stroke of the pen, the world of the Gremio de Mestizo, in which Capitan Ting figured most prominently, was cancelled. Capitan Ting never returned to Manila. In 1896 at the age of 80, Capitan Ting died in Abueg, Sorsogon, far removed from the middle class milieu that nurtured him and gave him fame.

Rather ironically for such a meticulous portraitist, Capitan Ting’s own self-portrait does not exist today. It was kept in the house of one of his descendants in Malate, a southern district of Manila, which saw heavy damage not only during the battle for the liberation of the city in 1942, but also during two subsequent fires that leveled many houses to the ground. Yet more works of Capitan Ting, however, may surface. The Paterno family is supposed to have a representative collection. There has also been word that there are several works of Don Justiniano in Spain. When all his works are accounted for, another chapter in the life of Capitan Ting and his generation will reveal yet more delights.

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The Archipelago Magazine 1975

To see the scanned fotos of the original1975 publication of the Archipelago magazine, please click here.

About the author: Santiago Albano Pilar is a professor of art history at the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts. He teaches advanced courses in art history and connoisseurship in both the undergraduate and graduate programs. Pilar has authored several art books which include Juan Luna: the Filipino as a Painter, Pamana: The Jorge B. Vargas Art Collection and Domingo Celis: Inspired Calm and Harvest of Saints. He is associate editor of the Cultural Center of the Philippines‘ Encyclopedia of Philippine Art Volume IV: The Visual Arts. He was the 1980 TOYM (Ten Outstanding Young Men) Awardee for Art History and won the Araw ng Maynila Award: Tagapag-alaga ng Sining in 1996. He is also a consultant of exhibition projects for the Ayala Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Manila and Cultural Center of the Philippines.

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An Asuncion at Mensa- Switzerland

A personal note, written primarily for my relatives and for those interested in child psychology.

Way back in the 1980′s, during my college years in Manila, my favorite psychology subjects were psychological testing (psychometrics), projective techniques, psychopathology, mental hygiene, theories of personality, experimental psychology and seminar on exceptional children. In projective techniques, the student learns the rudiments administering and evaluating personality tests. Throughout these courses, the student begins to be confronted with the question of personalities, the reality of individual differences, inborn and acquired traits, the nature of intelligence in all its theoretical aspects.

A college freshman is faced with these basic questions: First, what is personality? Second, what is intelligence? And then you slide into the third: Is there a direct correlation between personality and intelligence? Do intelligent people have more pleasant personality than less intelligent ones or is there no direct correlation at all between these two factors? The next thing that confronts the student is the relationship between high intelligence or genius and insanity? Is this true that geniuses are prone to mental illness and personality disorders whereas the normal ones not? Or is this just a myth or a hollywood invention? And then comes this simple issue: Are intelligent people practical and independent?

Well, four years of basic psychology studies will not give you instantly the answers to these questions and give you peace of mind. I have learned that my favorite subjects had only given me a good starting point to continue the inquiry. One thing that I have learned after all these years is that everything is a matter of definition and the context to which this definition is being applied. Or, even better, let the context offer the definition of such things as intelligence, normalcy, perfection, etc. The other thing that has taught me more is experience. Experience gives you a solid understanding or even doubt about the subject. My years of experience in observing psychiatric patients have no doubt taught me more than anything else to evaluate roughly a person almost at a glance: Is he/she a schizophrenic, a psychopath, a drug dependent, an alcoholic, a manic-depressive one, a borderline personality, suicidal person or a sexual deviate; or, to evaluate indirectly by way of any available product of that person: a written piece, a drawing or illustration, etc.

But intelligence is something else. It’s requires more to gauge it. A mere glance cannot tell me if one is an average, genius or retarded (except for genetic abnormalities as Down syndrome, etc.). But this time, through indirect way, i.e. by way of a written piece or work of art, etc., I could tell more about the intelligence of the person.

On the other side, my experience has shown me how tricky this aspect is: For example, relying on school performance alone does not give you the real intelligence of a child or a youth. Behind an average or even below average performing child could be a gifted one. It is in the extremes of appearances that we have to exercise caution and observe more. But in general, we can say that a child is intelligent if it grasps abstract relationships within a short time than other children and translates his ideas successfully into concretely observable results for the observers. But what if this translation doesn’t occur, or if the child consciously – or even unconsciously – distorts this translation? It follows that our picture of the child is also distorted.

Then it’s time that we observers, parents or educators must look at ourselves. Are we competent enough to make the right judgment(evaluation) and do we have the necessary experience in this area?

I always recommend observing the child who has problems at school in the totality of his behavior and when needed to send the child to a recognized testing institution for aptitude and intelligence test. Ideally, school – pubic or private – should have also a team of counsellors which includes one or more school psychologists to help troubled parents and children.

In my neighborhood, I have given advice to concerned and troubled parents this way and even offered my on – the – spot analysis of the child’s personality and general mental aptitude drawing out of my experience in this field. I admit, that though it’s really hard to determine the child’s intelligence, still I can say that experience gives me a solid ground to base my guess or intuition. I was right in many cases because these grown-up children are now high achievers, out of the initially hopeless situation when they were in the elementary years.

But now, we come to my experience of this subject within the four walls of my home, an experience that has given me doubts about what I know and challenges that almost went beyond our limit as parents. And that is when my second son, Samuel, came into our life. From birth, I already sensed that he is intelligent. As a child he rarely cried, was very quite, curious and independent in his ways. At age three, he was reading until three in the morning that at times I had to switch off his bed lamp so he would sleep. At this age he had memorized the books he had in his room, performed weird chemistry experiments, etc. He protested by crying when we brought him to a play group but showed great joy when we brought him to a painting group for children.

His week, together with his older brother Cyril, was full of activities already before the age of five: music group for pre-school children and, a few months after, violin lessons where he always astonished his teacher for his excellent hearing, private English, French and cooking courses every Saturday for several years and swimming where he also excelled. Later on he switched to piano and about the same time he started with hip-hop dancing course from a known dancer and teacher and won second place in the Swiss dance team competition. With 16, he started teaching this dance style, now with 18, he resumed his Thai boxing lessons and intends after graduation this summer to go to Thailand for Muay Thai boxing teacher course.

Before entering primary class, he underwent a thorough intelligence and aptitude tests in a private human potential evaluation clinic that took the whole morning with a short break in between. The results showed him belonging to the top 2% of the population of children of his age group. The effect was that he jumped directly from kindergarten to Grade 2 and parallel to normal schooling, he had to attend special courses for gifted children organized and supported by the city of Zürich where they learned other supplementary subjects as chemistry, mathematics, physics, philosophy, etc. This satisfied all of his “mental needs”. During this time, at age 9, he was admitted to Mensa-Switzerland whose only criterion for membership is an IQ score in the top 2% of the general population on a battery of standardized intelligence tests (“normally” from above 130 IQ scores). But this too went not without a little problem because he was “under age”, which means below 15. But they readily made an exception to the rule. And so it went that he became the youngest member in the history of Mensa-Switzerland.

Parents can only be proud of this story but we had our own worries. His normal schooling went on not without problems for he showed little interest in his homework and in most of his teachers in the public school who were not trained for such a child with a different quality of perception. In fact, some of his new teachers in the primary school considered him below average. He was – and is even now – behaving like that so that, at age 12, I let him undergo another intelligence and aptitude test, this time administered by the school psychologist in that private school we found for him after we pulled him out from the Volksschule. I was there again to observe as he made his written and oral examination for hours. From the answers to the oral tests I heard and the awed facial expressions of the psychologist , I knew already that he was still in his “old” intellectual status. Hence, nothing was changed only that he needed the right environment that suits his needs.

But he remained an ordinary boy before the eyes of our friends and relatives and with time we got used to this fact. Only a handful of his friends (who are gifted themselves) realize and appreciate the gift that is in him. Same feathers flock together? Intuitively, I observed, they do.

With 15, he was turned down by many firms as he applied for apprenticeship because of his not-so-shining secondary school grades. Again, another problem for all of us. Until he was admitted to a Swiss Federal Institute of Technology or ETH (Einstein’s alma mater) spin-off IT firm. There his mentor, an ETH IT lecturer, himself a very intelligent man, has told us that “no doubt, your son is very intelligent”.

So, what’s the problem? Samuel will graduate this summer at age 19 as IT specialist. /

jun asuncion

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Asuncion Genealogy: Additional Information from  relatives

The Asuncion and Gerona Connection

Dear fellow Asuncion relatives,

Had breakfast with neighbor Horace Gillego and he supplied me a copy of their family tree. In our previous emails last year, we mentioned that Horace pointed us to the Bulan Observer website of Jun Asuncion (Horace’s roots come from Bulan). Lately, Horace discovered in their late dad’s house an old folder which contained the family tree of Rafael Espiritu Gerona (died April 14, 1871) and Ma. Justaquia Gray (died Jan 1, 1873).

The family tree traces the line from the Gerona & Gray union (they were married July 30, 1821). One of their seven children was Casimiro Gerona (married Zenona Antiado). Their union brought forth four children, the youngest Salvador Gerona (married Rita Gimpaya). And the latter couple produced ten children, one of them was Monica Gerona.

Monica Gerona married Rodolfo Asuncion. Rodolfo Asuncion was one of the children of Zacharias Asuncion. Rodolfo’s mom is Zacharias’ third wife – Remedios Ramirez. Zacharias’ dad is Justinano. Zacharias’ grandpa is Mariano “Kagalitan” Asuncion.

From Rodolfo Asuncion and Monica Gerona came papa Ronnie Asuncion.

From Rodolfo’s brother Adonis came Andres Asuncion (dad of Andres “Jun” Asuncion & Malou Asuncion Lao).

From Rodolfo’s brother Jacobo came Sor Marissa Asuncion’s line.

Ed (Rojas)

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Justiniano Asuncion’s Album Of Watercolors Mirrors 19th Century Filipino Life

( A reprint of Mrs. Florina Capistrano -Baker’s article in Philstar in connection with our search for the artist Justiniano Asuncion. junasun)

By Florina H. Capistrano-Baker

Not a few art enthusiasts are under the mistaken notion that the 19th century album of watercolors depicting various peoples and costumes of the Philippines in a special collection at the New York Public Library is yet another version of the Damian Domingo album at the Newberry Library in Chicago, a misconception apparently stemming at least in part from a typed commentary on a small slip of paper appended to the album stating thus: “Artists: Damian Domingo and Justiniano Asuncion, according to Mr. A. Roces, July 8, 1980.”Further, an earlier notation presumably handwritten shortly after the album was completed, indicates that: “These figures were painted for the sake of the costumes by a native artist of Manila [sic] for M. Soden Esq. of Bath — in the year 1841 or 2 (9 in number). The other four by an inferior artist the former being ill. [signed M.M.S.]“If we were to believe the 1980 notation that the artists were indeed Damian Domingo and Justiniano Asuncion, the logical assumption of most would be that the nine superior paintings were by Domingo, and the other four by Asuncion, who was the more junior of the two. Closer scrutiny, however, disputes the attribution to Damian Domingo, for the rendering of the figures is distinct from that of the signed Domingo album in the Edward Ayer collection at the Newberry Library.

Moreover, it is the opinion of many that Justiniano Asuncion surpassed his erstwhile mentor in artistic skill and virtuosity. It is therefore unlikely that the “other four by an inferior artist the former being ill” could refer to the talented Asuncion. Rather, the nine superior works are clearly those of Asuncion himself, and the four inferior works by another, unidentified artist.The handwritten notation placing the year of manufacture to the early 1840s similarly refutes authorship by Damian Domingo, who is said to have died a decade earlier in the early 1830s. A careful reading of the images, in fact, brings to mind the many unsigned 19th-century prints attributed to Justiniano Asuncion that are still seen occasionally offered for sale in various art shops today.Belonging to the genre popularly called tipos del pais, this album labeled simply as Philippine costumes consists of 13 gouache images of individual types and costumes of the Philippines on European wove paper, with three additional images that do not seem to belong to the set, namely fragments of an image of a Chinese lady, an illustration of different types of butterflies, and a print of a European hunting scene.

The album was formally accessioned by the New York Public Library in 1927, although, even before this date, it was most likely in the collection of one of the three philanthropic institutions that were consolidated to create the core collections of the New York Public Library – namely, the Astor, Lenox and Tilden foundations.Ironically but most appropriately, I first experienced the Justiniano Asuncion album at the New York Public Library two years ago, on the afternoon of July 3, while in pursuit of Damian Domingo albums overseas. As with my first encounter with Damian Domingo at the Newberry Library in Chicago, I sat transfixed as the album was placed before me, prolonging the chase a bit longer, relishing the anticipation, savoring the warmth of the lustrous wood around me – the rhythmic rows of reading tables embraced by luxuriously paneled walls, the hushed readers consumed by their particular passions and obsessions.

Subjecting the exquisite images to my trustworthy magnifying loupe, Asuncion’s distinctive rendering of facial features was magnificently revealed in consistent details otherwise invisible to the naked eye – a dab of red here, a bit of gray there, a dot of white strategically situated to simulate those vibrant, luminous eyes. Painted in a different style from that of Domingo, the Asuncion images appear more European in both features and skin coloring, in stark contrast to the Domingo images which are more Southeast Asian. Despite the marked stylistic differences between Domingo and Asuncion, it is clear upon careful comparison of the images of the Newberry and the New York Public Library that the types and costumes portrayed in the Asuncion album were inspired by, if not directly derived from, the Domingo album.

Besides its artistic virtuosity, the Asuncion album is particularly valuable because of the copious handwritten notes accompanying the images. Thwarted by the Fourth of July celebrations during my first visit, I successfully completed my own transcription of all the notes during my second, longer visit last year.

This revealing essay, for example, accompanies an image of a man with his fighting cock:

“No. IX. This is one of the best. The color, the dress, and the character altogether is exactly that of a Manila man. The fighting cock under his arm is very characteristic; for the two are inseparable — quite! They are constantly training their cocks to fight, and as they meet in the streets they always let their cocks have a little sparring. The peg attached to their leg is stuck in the ground when their owner is tired of carrying them, and they are allowed the range of the string. The natives like gambling better than work, and the Spanish government instead of discouraging, do all they can to encourage them to gamble. In every town or village is a theater built by the government for the sole purpose of cock-fighting; and upon every bird that enters they impose a tax which yields to government 100,000 or 200,0000 sterling.”

How little has changed today, from the lowly jueteng and small-town cockfights, to world-class government-sponsored gambling casinos similarly entrenched, siphoning hand-earned monies to line the pockets of some morally decrepit few!

A chatty commentary describes the customary way of wearing tresses of Rapunzelian proportions:

“No. VII. This is by the same artist as the two first – A Spanish mestiza of Manila. – The most striking part of this figure is the manner of wearing the hair, which gives a most fascinating appearance to the tout ensemble, but unfortunately this is not correctly painted; the hair when worn in this fashion is parted in the center of the head and allowed to fall gracefully and naturally from each side of the forehead over the shoulders and down the back: The comb has no business here; it being quite unnecessary. The hair is so abundant as nearly to obscure the whole figure if not thrown off the face. When bathing it has the strangest effect to see such a quantity of hair floating over the surface of the water and extending such a distance.”

Another detailed account describes the well-dressed damsel’s complete ensemble:

“No. II. Is a Mestiza. This gives a very good idea of the female costume. The blue stripe is a little jacket made of the same material as the man’s shirt; it has not so much work upon it, the cuffs only being embroidered. It reaches to the waist, and is made very loose: Under it is tied the red and yellow plaid petticoat; over which is the cabaya, a long piece made either of silk or cotton, as the wearer can afford; which is wrapped tightly around the body and the end tucked in; which if properly done never comes loose; this is so tight over the hips as to appear to impede the free motion of the limbs… Their slippers, which are very small, only just sufficient to cover the foot, are very prettily embroidered in gold, generally done by themselves. They are so small that the little toe is always outside, which helps to keep them on. They are never worn out of doors in dirty weather, but carried in the hand, and when the señorita arrives at her destination, she finds at the door a pan of water into which she immerses her feet before putting on the slippers. The handkerchief over her shoulders is made of piña cloth, or cloth made of the pineapple fiber, this is peculiar to Manila; in no other part of the world has it ever been made. It is as fine or finer than the finest cambric, and beautifully embroidered; all the señoritas excelling in that kind of work, and in doing which they spend a great portion of their time. The fair sex… pride themselves much in their hair, with which their heads are most luxuriously covered; if they were seen in this country, it would excite much envy… It is all combed to the back of the head where it is dressed; plaited or otherwise according to fancy; but it is always particularly neat.”

While clearly impressed with the mestiza’s charms, the author did not seem to think too highly of her male counterpart:

“No. 1. An exact representation of a rich Mestizo. The complexion is admirably painted and likewise the dress. He is a great dandy and fond of imitating the Europeans, as you may see by his hat and umbrella… The umbrella is to preserve his complexion from the sun. Most people use them when walking in the heat of the day… This man leads a most idle dissipated life; he spends his day in gambling and cockfighting; his evenings in playing and singing the guitar; the songs are limited to very few in number.”

Certainly not a very inspiring image of the ideal Romeo, but most likely gifted with such charisma as to render hapless ladies oblivious to such deficiencies. Nonetheless, one must keep in mind that these commentaries are from a western, presumably male, perspective – male colonial gave undoubtedly swayed by the legendary charms of the winsome Filipina. How much or how little out world has changed since the 1840s!

About the author:

Florina H. Capistrano-Baker

Director, International Exhibitions, Ayala Museum

Born in Manila, the Philippines. Ph.D. from Columbia University. Visiting lecturer at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York. Specializes in Pacific and Island Southeast Asian art history. Publications include Art of Island Southeast Asia: The Fred and Rita Richman Collection in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MMA, 1994), “Containing Life: Basketry Traditions on the Cordillera” (Basketry of the Luzon Cordillera, Philippines, Roy Hamilton, ed., UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History, 1999), and Multiple Originals, Original Multiples: 19th-century Images of Philippine Costumes (Ayala Foundation, 2004). Works in New York and Manila

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An Asuncion Riding On The Crest Of A Wave

My cousin Eduardo Rojas just informed me about Amado Gabriel Esteban, a cousin who is now President of Seton Hall University in the United States Of America, the first Filipino so far to hold this prestigious position. Bulan Observer congratulates Amado for his excellent achievement! jun asuncion

Here is Eduardo’s info about the family roots of Amado:

// We have an Asuncion relative who will be the first (and non priest) Filipino president of the well-known Seton Hall University . His name is Amado Gabriel Esteban. He is an Asuncion through his mom, Isabel “Lita” Munson Esteban. Lita’s mom is Paz Maria Asuncion Intengan (married to Amado Munson). Paz Maria Asuncion Intengan’s mom is Consuelo Asuncion (married to Dr Gabriel Intengan). Consuelo and sister Guia Asuncion came from Zacharias Asuncion, son of Justiniano and grand son of Mariano Kagalitan Asuncion. //

Filipino Amado Gabriel Esteban Seton Hall University President

BY INQUIRER.NETON January 24, 2011 CATEGORIZED UNDER OUTSTANDING FILIPINOS, UNITED STATES

“Other than the food, I miss the sights and sounds of Manila—the packed Sunday Masses, big family gatherings and going out with the ‘barkada,’” he said in an e-mail interview with the Inquirer.

“I have to admit though that the Manila of my youth only exists in my mind. You know you are getting old when I was looking for a CD of Basil, I was asked to go to the oldies section!”

Putting the Filipino brand of leadership on the international spotlight once again, 49-year-old Esteban was recently appointed president of Seton Hall University (SHU) in New Jersey.

Esteban had been serving as interim president of the oldest diocesan university in America and New Jersey’s largest Catholic university with more than 10,000 students before he was named to the post last December.

Two priests in the running withdrew during the search proceedings, according to a New York Times online report.

“As a Filipino, I hope I can serve as a reminder, along with all the other kababayan who have been able to advance themselves, of our potential wherever we are in the world,” Esteban said.

His mother, Lita Munson Esteban, and his late Tarlaqueño father, Jose Esteban, were both educators.

Building consensus

Esteban credits his upbringing for a leadership style that listens and nurtures.

“Growing up in a Filipino-Catholic environment, I learned early on the value of building consensus, learning from past mistakes and failures, and most importantly treating everyone with respect and dignity,” he said.

“In leading Seton Hall University, I hope to never forget something my late father used to say, ‘A great university is not made up of bricks and mortar, but people of great minds with good intentions,’” he added.

Serving a term of five and a half years, Esteban aims to pursue a strategic development plan that would entail “strengthening our Catholic identity, strengthening and increasing our investment in key academic programs, increasing our student selectivity, and developing the financial resources to fund our shared vision.”

Exception to rule

Esteban’s appointment broke tradition based on SHU’s 25-year-old by-laws, where only Catholic priests were qualified to head the university. The university’s board of trustees adopted an exception to the by-laws a week before his appointment.

Two other laymen had assumed the SHU presidency before Esteban, but his appointment was the first for a nonpriest since the university adopted its priests-only selection criteria in the 1980s.

Esteban received praise from the university for his calming presence after the tragic shooting of 19-year-old sophomore student Jessica Moore near SHU in September last year, when he was still interim head.

SHU officials called him the right fit for the job.

In a broadcast e-mail announcing Esteban’s appointment, Patrick Murray, chair of the SHU board of regents, said: “Dr. Esteban has successfully navigated through many challenges during his interim presidency; we are extremely fortunate to have such a proven, compassionate leader at the helm of our University. He is ideally positioned to carry on Seton Hall’s Catholic mission and its tradition of academic excellence.”

UP studies

Esteban finished a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and a master’s degree in Business Administration at the University of the Philippines before taking up master of science in Japanese Business Studies at Chaminade University in Honolulu.

He and his wife Josephine, a UP Economics graduate, came back to the Philippines in 1986, just as the country returned to democracy after 14 years of martial rule. He landed a job at San Miguel Corp. while his wife worked for the then Center for Research and Communications (now University of Asia and the Pacific).

The couple later went back to the United States for further studies.

“We had every intention of returning to the Philippines. In fact in the late nineties, I interviewed for and was offered a couple of faculty positions in the Philippines. As we were making preliminary plans to return, the Asian financial crisis hit,” Esteban said.

“Upon deliberation and reflection, we realized that over the short to medium term we had better opportunities in the United States,” he added.

Connecting home

But life seems to have come full circle for Esteban, as his connection to home has become even stronger with the position he holds.

SHU’s College of Arts and Sciences is studying student demand for the Filipino language, which it previously offered. At the university, Esteban has also met several Filipino seminarians and students.

“Seton Hall has a very active student group called FLASH (Filipino League at Seton Hall). We even have Simbang Gabi!” he said.

As an SHU official, Esteban has also established institutional relations with UP, De La Salle University and its College of St. Benilde and Health Sciences Institute.

“Since the establishment of relationships with sister institutions in the Philippines, I have been fortunate to be able to go to Manila almost every year for the past few years,” Esteban said.

The Internet has also made touching base with the Philippines easier, he said. “Connecting to home and friends in Manila was more difficult until the widespread use of technology, including YahooGroups and more recently Facebook.”

Esteban and his family came home for Christmas last year, their first since 1987. With Josephine and his daughter Ysabella, an SHU junior, he traveled to Boracay and Cagayan de Oro City and “spent almost all our time with family.” /

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Faces Of My Fathers

 by jun asuncion

Early in life I have learned to accept that some things shall just remain as dreams, as persistent longings that I’ll be carrying around. Since the start of this search for my Asuncion roots, my longings to know more about my fathers (and mothers) and to find any related information have intensified. And how my great grandfathers may have looked like have greatly preoccupied my imagination but came to terms with the fact that this was all to it and nothing more since even the known self-portrait of Justiniano Asuncion was lost. I thought that was all, lost forever. I thought, but I did not know. I did not know that a certain family by the name of Quintos – Guirzon have been keeping my dream in their photo collection and that one day I’ll be receiving a copy of it from my cousin Ding Asuncion.

Unbelievable but this time it was true. I admit that in my age, even a lightning strike wouldn’t make my eyes bluesy and wet. But that moment when the image unfolds itself by the click of the mouse, I lost almost a river of tears from this great joy and this feeling of reunion with my ancestral roots. I was speechless when I saw the faces of Justiniano, Zacarias, Benita and Jacobo! Zacarias is my great-grandfather. What I remember to have seen in my childhood was just a piece of Zacarias’ gravestone in our compound in Canipaan which unluckily I didn’t find anymore when I came home a few years ago. When times were getting rough for the Asuncions in Binondo, Zacarias left for Bicol in search for new possibilities. A different time, indeed, for who would think today of going to a distant town of Bulan in search for better opportunities? Whatever his true motivation was, Zacarias’ travel estbalished the Asuncions’ connection with this town.

This photo has closed those gaps in my mind and fulfilled those deepest longings of seeing the faces of my fathers.

It was my younger relative Christopher Yatco who first drew my attention to the existence of a new book about Damian Domingo with the photo of Justiniano and his children. My excitement soared even beyond the moon. But being out-of-town, I still do not have this book. And then, a few weeks after, Ding Asuncion, grandson of Kenerino Asuncion and Lola Leny, sent me this copy of the photo together with some excerpts of this book.

Usually, I share such document to my relatives immediately but this time I kept this photo for a while, viewing it many times a day in the intimacy of solitude, immersing myself deeply in my own part of the story, staring at their eyes being my only possibility of communication as I try to imagine many things about them, their pains of living as second class citizens in their own country (a situation I cannot accept) during the Spanish time, their thoughts about the future…

Here, you see the master painter himself, Justiniano Asuncion, the creator of those art pieces we’ve been talking about, those portraits of the Asuncion women, those watercolor paintings at the New York Public Library, etc. He was the first Filipino painter who allowed himself to be ” drawn with light”. i.e., to be photographed. Luckily he posed before a camera, a kind of high-tech gadget in the early 19th century which, to my view, seemed to have been invented to ultimately challenge Justiniano’s perfect eyes for capturing details of the subject when all other painters had given up the fight.

In 1816 Johann Heinrich Schultz discovered that a mixture of silver and chalk darkens when exposed to light. But for our case, a star was born that brightened the world of 19th Century Filipino art when the baby Justiniano was exposed to light also in 1816. Justiniano possessed a pair of highly photographic eyes that perfectly fitted to the miniaturist, realism painting style of his time.

To this perceptual acuity, Prof. Santiago wrote: “In the state of boredom, he often used his skills to amuse and confuse his guests and admirers alike. He is remembered to have painted on the downstairs wall of his newly built house, right under the window balustrade, a life-size infant falling in midair. The picture never failed to startle or evoke shrieks from passersby who at first glance thought the child was real. Once he also painted on the top of the chest, a scattering of very realistic coins, causing embarrassment to guests who stopped to pick them up”.

It was ca. 1894 when Schultz’s mixture went off into action which today – 117 years later – would have a profound effect on many of us, up to this very moment as I try to write while poring over this photo which seems to me a gift fallen from heaven. I’m highly indebted to the prime mover of this event, Hilarion Asuncion, the man behind the camera, my great grand-uncle and for all those good things and chain of events that worked together – in obedience to the inner logic of Asuncion’s fate – that ultimately preserved this image over a century, over these rough and repressive times.

Like his father before him who served as cabeza de barangay of Sta. Cruz in 1805, Justiniano became cabeza de barangay in this community of mestizos in February 25, 1853. By this time Justiniano was already established as a master painter. Thirty years after, his son Zacarias, in search for more better business opportunities, set out for Bulan, Sorsogon in 1886. Hence, this year was a milestone in the history of Asuncions of Bulan. There, twelve years later, at the turn of the century – and of the nation’s colonial history – Zacarias became Jefe del Pueblo (old name for Municipal Mayor) of Bulan from 1898 – 1900.

If artistic genius was in the Family of Justiniano Asuncion and so was community leadership, I think. It was due to Zacarias’ successful Bulan’s adventure that brought Justiniano Asuncion to Bulan, already old and grey, a man behind the sparkle of success, within the silhouette of death. Bulan became his refuge, the sanctuary of his tired body and soul and the gate to his eternal rest. If the biographer Manuel Artigas called him “modelo de honradez, an exemplar of tacto y prudencia”, then it was an honor for Bulan to have such qualities be buried in its grounds. For these qualities had to come out again forty-five years later after his death in the person of Adonis Asuncion, my grandfather, who became Mayor of Bulan in 1941.

My grandfather Adonis Asuncion had led Bulan not in times of political Padrenos, vote buying, plundering and pork barrel but in times of foreign aggression where one must have to defend the basic rights of Bulaneños. So my fathers were community leaders when three superior nations ruled our land; Justiniano in Sta. Cruz during the Spanish time, Zacarias in Bulan just at the beginning of the American rule and Adonis, also in Bulan, during the Japanese occupation. All three men had their share of what I call the roughness of times but all came out hardened in their character, in their convictions. From their stories I learned the lesson that political leadership is about self-respect in the first place. Methinks that the political, civil and military leaders of today who are now facing corruption and plunder charges had failed to respect themselves and their very own families in the first place. Hence, how could they ever respect the community of people they don’t personally know?

The three foreign aggressors may have ruined the Filipinos by introducing to us the culture of corruption, aggression and militarism but it seems that the families of Mariano Kagalitan- Asuncion were among those Filipino families blessed with the immunity from these foreign viruses that they were able to keep their name clean and their being “modelo de honradez, tacto y prudencia” while serving the people – in those times of conspiracies, opportunism and collaboration with the aggressors (survival of the “fittest”).

Their thoughts about the future? That future is here with me in this very moment as I search for my past and found it here in my room where I have spent hours of thinking about my fathers, bending my six strings to soaring bluesy heights as I figure out their faces, how they had lived, to what degree had they suffered from the roughness of times, from the yoke of colonialism and how much they had longed for freedom and dreamt for a better future. I was born 59 years, my father, Andres, Sr., 19 years after Justiniano’s death. Indeed, it seems not too long ago but if I add to it my own life where memories fade out already after a short moment of recollection then everything about my fathers becomes an abyssal zone except for some floating traces they had left which serve only to tickle my inquisitive mind and my longing to know more, thus eventually blowing my mind away every time I was trapped in some of these black holes of imagination.

The first couple, Mariano and Maria de La Paz Molo Asuncion

Faces Of My Fathers

Mariano Kagalitan Asuncion

Justiniano Asuncion (1816 – 1901)

Zacarias Asuncion

Adonis Asuncion (June 14, 1889 – January 8, 1976)

 Andres Asuncion, Sr. ( November 9, 1920 –  November 3, 2005)

Remembering My Father, Andres Asuncion, Sr. (an old post added here)

The Primordial Pain

The demise of our father last November 3, 2005 was certainly a big blow to all of us. Now three years after, we all seem to have accepted the reality of our beloved father no longer physically with us. There are moments though when I am caught unaware and seem not to realize this fact. Then I feel instantly transported back to these moments of grief last November. It is surely not easy to lose a father and I think I will never get over it. There are absolute privileges that you get only once in your life time and that if you lose them you can not replace them. A father is one of these privileges. The pain that you experience tells you how much you love somebody who has been taken away from you. There is nothing on earth can equal that pain. There are no words to describe it. You can only try to express it in some other ways except in words. And you can not describe it in real-time with words. For it is an experience beyond our language. It is a primordial event and that is why it is just purely pain that comes out of our innermost being. It’s like when a newly born cries responding to a sensed change and discomfort , and yet it’s more than that for a newly born is not weeping, – you are weeping.

I don’t know how my mother and my brothers and sisters deal with such moment of despair and pain. We all experienced our father differently, we all have a different image of him that each of us has carried throughout those years. But there is one thing in common that I am sure of, and that is, that we all love him. The way that each of us remember him in his/her own way that sums up the whole image of our father. I am not referring only to the images arising from incidental experience of him as other people had of him but this exclusive experience of inner connectedness to him as his children. This blood connection that goes all the way to the spiritual sphere of our existence.

I have been deprived of my father physically, for instance, for many years. But not a day had passed that I did not think of him. If not in dreams then just in my waking hours are these flashings of his images in my mind, and his voice was and is just there; vivid scenes of my childhood days with him in Ilawod and Canipaan, in Manila and here in Zürich when he came with my mother. In all those years of being away from him there was always this desire in me to have a coffee with him and talk with him about the world, yes, just about anything else. With my father I had always enjoyed sharing thoughts or just sitting together in silence. I felt this freedom, this feeling of fullness as a human being whenever I was with him.

Smoke gets in your eyes

I was about to go to work when I got a call from my sister Menchu bringing me the sad news. My world literally fell apart. As I look back to this moment, I wonder how I could have reacted if I did not know how to use these six strings and a piece of wood that has always accompanied my life ever since. That evening I just bended the strings as high as I could to express what I could not with words. My father played piano not a guitar but he did love its sound. I particularly remember that moment when he was humming the song Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, saying this was one of his favorite tunes. In the meantime I have finally arranged this tune for solo guitar after a long time of wishing to be able to do it. I dedicate this song to my father and when I play it, it’s solely for him for when he left smoke really got in my eyes…

A man of peace

A man of peace that he was and very dignified in his ways, his presence was always a source of joy to those who love him and perhaps an irritation to those who believe in approaching things and issues the more aggressive way.Yes, he remained true to himself to the very last moment of his existence. That’s the measure of being a man. His quiet countenance radiated an inner strength that came from deep insights and wisdom about life and situations. His courage was never an issue of alcohol content in the blood (he never drunk) , but in his refined ways of dealing with things due to his education and his unending patience, sharp intellect, broad knowledge and humility.

My father and the Japanese officer

My father experienced the cruelty of the Japanese invasion in 1945. He was then a young man of 25. He related his stories for the last time last August 2006 to me and my sons Cyril and Samuel, and I feel really privileged to have experienced this. This answered the question I’ve been carrying at the back of my mind for many years, a question that I always failed to ask him whenever I was with him: Why did you not take up your arms and fight side by side with your brother Agusto Asuncion ? (who at that time was the head of the Lapuz Guerilla movement in Bulan). His recounting of his war story last August finally revealed the answer to me. He said, his brother Agusto advised him not to shoot but rather to take charge of the logistics. My father had a very sharp memory and he could remember the details he experienced at that time, names of people and places, to the astonishment of my boys. I noticed his fair judgements of people and events involved. So Papa knew his own role in this war right at the outset. People like me would have instantly joined the front line at that time. But in the long run, justice and history is at the side of the wise and peace-loving people. One should know that my father came from a different tradition, from a tradition of love and compassion to all God’s creation. He came out right from a theological seminary in Paco, Manila when the war broke out.

The Japanese bombed Manila and that seminary where he was one of the three candidates for ordination. They had to separate ways and Pa went home to Bulan to his family, where his father Adonis Asuncion was the town mayor. He walked from Manila to Bulan, Sorsogon for around three weeks and survived the hazards in the streets, especially that critical moment when from under the tree trunk suddenly came out a handful of Japanese soldiers, stopped him, asked questions and inspected his backpack. “I remained quiet, and the officer caught an eye at the shaving blade (Labaha) I had and took it in his hands…(now the officer could have just swung this blade to his neck, if he wanted to.) He seemed to be interested in it so I just nodded my head and they let me go!” Wow, Papa would have flown like a bird if he could at this moment. Kidding aside, I thank this officer so much for letting my father go and, in retrospect, I respect this Japanese officer for his intuition. He must have felt that Pa was not an enemy. And, indeed, Pa did not kill a single Japanese soldier! Now the thing is, if you are proud that your father killed hundreds of Japanese soldiers at that time, I support that for it was wartime, and your father was destined to kill. That my father came out alive without harming anybody’s life, I’m certainly proud of this; he was simply not destined to kill. He was true to his convictions and fate was true to him whole life long. That unknown gentle Japanese officer was right.

The Family Man

I can imagine Pa in his prime: neatly dressed with hair soaked in pomade, misplacing probably his eyeglasses but never his smile. Beside him my mother, excited, and around them the eight of us.The flash went off and here is the picture on my table in front of me, taken about 40 years ago. I treasure this only family picture where we are complete. Those were memories to keep and live by, when my world was young and innocent in the true sense of the word. The family was my ground and I felt safe and fear was foreign to me. I was just happy being embedded in the family and that was everything that mattered most, not the hardships or the lack of other things. A boy who is happy has everything he needs to master the challenges and hardships that are normal concomitants to life. Deprived of this, you can not expect a better course of life.

So, I thank you Pa and Ma for laying down a solid foundation which was a mixture of fine ingredients, – of love, trust and compassion, coupled with patience and loyalty. This was how I perceived my parents and understand their role even up to now. How the rest of us had experienced my parents in our growing years, only they can tell. Throughout those years, there was one trait of my father that impressed me most, and that was his unassuming character. I’d never experienced him boasting around about anything. In fact there was always this permanent aura of understatement accompanying him throughout his life. Simple in his ways and in his daily needs, he would always put you first before him, giving you space and making you feel comfortable in the modest means available. He did not desire for more. For an opportunistic in character, a chance to attempt a coup’d’etat, for a sensitive in spirit a feeling of meeting with a teacher.

Unassuming and reticent that he was, the most profound insights and comments that I heard in life came from him. Being modest in his ways and putting others first, he showed them how to respect themselves. No wonder why he got respected in return by people around him. This was my first lesson about authority, not a coerced one nor based on a false assumption of something but a natural process of growth from within that manifests itself as a result quite naturally in your essence . So harmless that he was before you, you got no choice but to respect him and show the best in you. This was exactly this respect that we learned from him that kept us together in our long journey as a family.

The Hanging Bridge of Magsaysay

With my father, I learned to cross a hanging bridge for the first time in my life in the barrio of Magsaysay where he used to teach. For Papa that was a daily routine, for me an adventure and a source of anxiety. I nearly got sick when I looked down for it was deep and the river beneath was wild and the bridge swinging to its sides, step was not stable and there were holes on the floor. I was then 9 or 10. Pa did not say anything at that moment that I could remember. He just looked at me, stepped on it and I followed him. It was an incredible act of balancing and I became dizzy. I was alarmed, gathered myself together to make it to the other end. He was already at the other end and was watching me, smiling. Reaching the end a feeling of relief and I felt proud as I looked back at the now empty hanging bridge that was still undulating like a long snake. My tension was transformed instantly to fascination when I saw the wonderful garden all around the school buildings and the school children also about my age. Flowers of all kinds. I especially remember the red roses.

Barrio Magsaysay, a world so beautiful abounding with floras and faunas and friendly people. A piece of paradise, just nature as she is. Looking back now, I just realized that Papa spent almost his entire teaching career in places like Magsaysay. I knew that he was also assigned in Sta. Remedios and in other remote places I don’t even know the names anymore. Those years had cultivated in my father the love for simple people, for farmers and nature. I went back to Magsaysay a few times with Papa, most of the times carrying ballot boxes hanged on my shoulders. During election day the teachers were busy and so was Pa. I was always with him to carry those boxes. Crossing the hanging bridge became an enjoyable experience then. I began to love it and in fact now it keeps me wondering if it still exists. That was many years ago but the memories remain. That hanging bridge connected me to my father ever more. I wish to visit that bridge someday for on that bridge were those nice moments left hanging in time.

A schoolbag with guavas- and sometimes a bird.

As a young child it was always a highlight in my life when the day was about to close for then my father would arrive from school. I used to wait for him in the street in front of our house while I played with other children. Then I would run to him the moment I recognized his silhouette at the horizon moving in front of the setting sun that was about to disappear behind the China sea. I would literally dive into his bag to find out what was in there. I remember well the smell of guava fruits of his bag. Indeed, he always brought home fruits of all kinds everyday but it was always the smell of a guava that dominated inside his bag, even without guavas in there. And I loved that smell always. But it was not the guava fruit that I was excited to find, rather it was a bird or two! Pa used to bring home birds he received along the way from his pupils in Magsaysay and he would just put the cage in his schoolbag together with his pens and notebooks. At that time I came to know the most lovely local birds in Bulan through Papa. One time I discovered in that bag a Kingfisher and it was the joy of my childhood to have such a noble bird as a house pet for sometime. I thank my father now for all those nice little surprises every afternoon.

Dinner for the mind by candlelight

Everyday after dinner the same routine: Help wash the dishes and restore order on the table for then comes the next dinner,- the dinner for the mind by candlelight. I would empty my schoolbag on the table and I would begin to work on my homework while Pa on his lesson plan. This went on during my entire elementary years. I also remember my sister Malou being on this scene. I did my homework religiously at that time. But one evening I was so tired that I think I just left my notebooks open on the table, leaving my homework haf-done only as I scrambled for bed. I was then in grade three.

The next morning at school my teacher Miss Chavenia ordered us to open the assignments for checking. So, as usual, she went from one desk to another scanning with her sharp eyes every pupil’s work and with a look which tells you “with me you can’t bargain”, or “you better run for your life”. I was nervous then for I was not sure if my work was finished or not, for I never bothered at all to check my things before going to school. So you can imagine how I’d wished to disappear, to be invisible before she could come to my desk. As I opened my notebook, my eyes nearly fell out on the floor out of disbelief that my homework was done! I instantly remembered Pa and marveled if he finished my homework when I deserted the war zone and went already half-sleeping to bed. Until now this remains a mystery to me and, as usual, I never came to the point of asking Pa about it. In any case I was spared from standing still for an hour in a schoolroom’s corner, a punishment for lazy pupils in my time. Thank you Pa for saving my life – and for all those dinners for the mind by candlelight

(to be continued)

…………………………………………………

Some tidbits from Sor Marissa

From Ed Rojas

Dear fellow Asuncions,

Last Saturday I picked up Sor Marissa at her sister’s house, Dr Numen Gonzales, we were then to proceed to Noel’s (my brother) place. At Dr Numen’s house I met one of our second cousins Xavier Asuncion (son of Roberto Asuncion of Bulan). Roberto is the oldest sibling of Sor Naty Asuncion, Dr Iluminada “Numen” Asuncion-Gonzales and Sor Marissa Asuncion. The siblings are the children of Jacobo Asuncion (Jacobo married to Trinidad Rosales).

Jacobo Asuncion’s siblings include Adonis (line of Jun Asuncion ), Justiniano (founder of UPSILON), Kenerino (founder of Southern Luzon Institute: Kenerino Ramirez Asuncion Memorial School or SLI-KRAMS) and Rodolfo (married to Monica Gerona and dad of papa Ronnie).

Jacobo, Adonis, Justiniano, Kenerino and Rodolfo are five of the thirteen children of Zacharias with Remedios Ramirez (based on the copy of the Asuncion family tree I have)..

Some tidbits from Sor Marissa:

1) Zacharias had a second wife after Juana Zalvidea & before his wife Remedios Ramirez. Her surname was Loilo. They had a child, but the child died, and in the Asuncion family tree we have, no mention of their names appeared.

2) Zacharias must have done well in Bulan, as he was able to send his children to Manila to pursue higher education. According to Sor Marissa, when Kenerino came back to Bulan after college in UP, he was shocked that his elementary classmates never got to higher education (no high school and no college). That inspired him to establish the Southern Luzon Institute, which later became SLI-KRAMS.

The information is interesting; because we know our great grandparents (generation of the children of Zacharias) got to finish college, so that must have been in Manila . And if there was no high school in Bulan then, they must have been shipped to Manila for high school at an early age and on to college.

In a past family get together, Auntie Nellie Intengan Jocson remembers her mother Consuelo Asuncion and aunt Ghia Asuncion (both daughters of Zacharias with Juana Zalvidea) were brought up by their unmarried aunt Benita, the older sister of Zacharias. Since Consuelo & Ghia knew Bicolano, can we assume they took their elementary schooling in Bulan? Was their aunt Benita also in Bulan during their elementary school days?

Or was Benita the guardian of Consuelo and Ghia when they had to go to Manila for high school? Who took care of their siblings Jacobo, Adonis, Justiniano, Kenerino, Rodolfo when they too had to go to Manila for high school and college?

Hope the other Asuncions can help.

Thanks,

Ed

——————–

Three D’s of Success

by Jess Guim, Taga-Bulan sa New York City

Whatever you do in life, you always expect success as the end result of your efforts. But victory is not easy and could not be achieved without nurturing these three D’s of success. Remember this, one of them can not help you succeed in life without the other. So, nurture them all within yourself, and you will reap the fruit of success.

First, you need the DESIRE or motivation to achieve your objective. The starting point of all achievements is desire. Some people might say your dream is impossible to achieve, but with your own desire to accomplish it, there’s nothing you can’t fulfill without it. A poor man becomes a millionaire because of his desire to have more money. An NBA star believes he could fly to shoot a ball in the ring, because of his desire for fame. A writer never sleeps at night, as long as ideas come out of his mind, because of his desire to become a blockbuster novelist and movie screenwriter.

The desire (motivation or passion), on the other hand, should be strengthened by DISCIPLINE. There are people, who in the midst of their near-success, meet temptations that lead them to the wrong direction. A student who’s almost graduating in college failed to finish his course, because he joined a fraternity that buried him into the ravine of drug addiction. An entrepreneur who’s almost becoming a millionaire with his innovative marketing ideas, went bankrupt when he associated with gamblers who turned him into compulsive gambler. These are simple examples of temptations, that lead people to failure when someone’s discipline is not strong enough to achieve one’s objective to succeed. So, strengthen the discipline in you by surrounding yourself with like-minded people.

DETERMINATION is the father of desire and discipline. You can never achieve and win what you desire if you have no definiteness in acquiring such victory. But simply having determination doesn’t mean you’re already on the road to success. Determination should be powered by knowledge of the skills needed to achieve an objective. You need to learn about the skills and place them into practice. Then, when you have enough training to strategize your steps, you need to develop your experiences into expertise. It is these expertise that strengthens your determination to achieve success.

About the Author:

Jess Guim was born in Canipaan, Bulan; raised by his parents in Gubat; and got married to a Sorsoganon (Kapitolyo). He is currently living in New York City. He is the owner and web developer of the new web site “Experts Write About…” at http://expertswriteabout.com/

Slings and Arrows (random thoughts)

 

by Oliver Geronilla

 

I don’t live in cloud-cuckoo land; so, I won’t pretend that black is white. For the nonce, let me do a double take at the scintillating points raised in some of the articles here.

Quite interestingly, many of those who make no bones about the way things are being done in Bulan are armchair observers; and I am not an exception. The comments that I put forward in here are based on secondhand information, not based on what I’ve actually seen, heard, or experienced.

Well, that’s the very essence of writing columns or commentaries. We read and gather as much information as we can; then we make our own slant—not just to float an idea, but to make positions clear.

Being away from Bulan for almost a decade and a half makes me feel hesitant to write about local issues, especially local politics. But the irresistible pull to be a “neighbor” of level-headed Bulan Observer netizens and to contribute articles on a local platform is so strong that I I’ve decided to shelve my ifs and buts. Thus, I started submitting articles (that dealt with national issues) which I co-authored with Dr. W. Scott Thompson who is the official biographer of FVR. Now that the official website of Bulan is fully functional, I believe that it’s easier for me to access pieces of information that I need in order to stay abreast of the latest developments in my hometown. This will also give me the chance to widen my palette in writing columns that focus on what’s within the readers’ grasp—something that you and I know like the back of our hands.

On language…

I might have started off on the wrong foot by anchoring my comments on language use and usage and the highly cerebral discipline of weaving thoughts in the Queen’s English. But this is the language that I know well and the language that has molded my perception and appreciation of the world. More importantly, this is the language that enables me to express my thoughts and ideas with that yokel twist of a being a Bulaneno.

Truth be told, I am fascinated with the distinctive writing styles of most of the authors or contributors of Bulan Observer (BO). Except for the minor lapses in grammar, I feel that the articles here are treasure-troves of ideas waiting to be put together for a future publication—a compendium of the works of Bulan’s contemporary think-tank. (Shall we look for sponsors then?)

Not to put too fine a point on it, I sometimes recoil at the sight of code-mixing and code switching being liberally used by many BO writers. Of course, in some cases it’s inevitable because we know for a fact that there are certain concepts or words that do not have equivalent English translations. On that note, I have nothing to complain about. I only take issue with such a proclivity when it’s done despite the availability of exact lexical and semantic translations.

BO’s major strength is publishing articles unedited. This encourages “personal journalism” to flourish. But this strength is also its major weakness. Every now and then, you’d be jolted when you come across with mistakes in Subject-Verb-Agreement (S-V-A), tense and aspect. Copy-editing, I believe, is needed for every article published here so as not to give a false impression to the young minds that such errors are permissible.

On being away from home….

In societies where education is the only hope to stay afloat, it’s not surprising to see family members pooling their resources just to send their children to good schools. The logic is quite simple: good school means having a good chance of getting a good job; having a good job means having a better life.

Unfortunately, I think Bulan is far from being the place where our dreams can actually come true. It was pointed out by one of the authors here that there are certain professions that have no room to be practiced in our hometown. I couldn’t agree more. Most , if not all, of those who earned academic degrees (other than education, and business management) from the top universities are employed in cities where there is career growth, and where their needs can be addressed. Seldom can you see Bulanenos who earned their undergraduate and graduate degrees from reputable universities working in Bulan.

By and large, most yuppies yearn to live and work in highly urbanized areas where opportunities abound, and everything seems to be perfect. They receive handsome paychecks, enjoy life in the fast lane, and breathe the sweet smell of success. But are they happy? Beats me.

Sadly, I also belong to that crop, and it pains me to admit that despite being on the crest of a wave , I feel that I am still in search of the will o’ the wisp.

For sure, there’s not just a handful of professional Bulanenos–young or not–who think the way I do. I personally know a lot of them; and we all have one thing in common: we work hard to have a better life.

Hence, after receiving our respective passports to success –our diplomas of course–, we begin joining the bandwagon: the burgeoning groups of people who have given diaspora a new face.

Those who aren’t contented with their jobs in cities like Manila usually look for greener pastures abroad. They’re called OFWs, hailed as living heroes and the lifeline of the Philippine economy. Never mind the hardships, the loneliness and homesickness that they have to endure; forget about the weakening family relations. Focus on the remittances that make life here more bearable. That’s something that we usually hear. Hence, it’s nothing new.

My high school classmate, Dr. Ma. Kristina Asuncion, practices dentistry in the Middle East. She’s not from a poor family; in fact, she does not have to go overseas just to earn money. Her sister, who is also a dentist, has a clinic in Bulan. How many dental clinics or dentists do we have in Bulan? Very few. But why is she working abroad? Not enough patients? Perhaps.

My eldest brother, Clint Geronilla, who finished BS Forestry at UP-Los Banos, opted to work in Pampanga while waiting for his working visa. He, too, will be leaving the country pretty soon. His reason? “There can’t be more than three foresters in Bulan!” Well, he might have said it in jest. But somehow, there’s a grain of truth in what he said. I believe Miss Kelly Tan, my former dorm mate at UP and a “sis” in UP Sorsoguenos– a varsitarian organization – is more than capable to set the world on fire.

Miss Tan’s decision to serve the people of Bulan through the local government unit is laudable. How I wish others would do the same – serve the people despite the sacrifices that have to be made.

All these things put me in a pensive mood. How many Kelly Tans do we have in Bulan? Just a handful.

To have better opportunities, we usually go to other places. As such, we find many of our compatriots scattered in many places– working, finding their own niche, pursuing higher education,creating waves. Every now and then, you’d hear progenies of our beloved town who’ve toiled hard to become engineers, educators, medical practitioners, athletes, etc., making it in the headlines for their excellence in their respective fields. These are the very people whom we need to make Bulan BIG.

Can we lure them back to our hometown? That’s the sixty-four-thousand-dollar question.

Personally, I find it difficult reintegrating myself in the town where I grew up. I have many reasons, but perhaps the biggest one is all about my profession. As a language teacher, a freelance columnist, and a ghost writer, I see very limited opportunities for me in Bulan.

Or, perhaps I am just too ambitious.

Frankly, I think of Bulan as a haven where I can spend my retirement years. For now, I still want to see how far I can go, experience joie de vivre, and perhaps “make a difference.”

When that time comes, I hope Bulan’s still the Bulan of my youth where trust and respect rule everyone’s heart; where children frolic under the sun; where people commune with nature; where nobody is left behind; where “progress and not corruption” is the buzz word.

Home is where the heart is.

                                                                             —————end———————-

We Can Do Much More To Our Country

by Gemma Dimaculangan ( Her letter as posted on the Internet and later published in Inquierer.net)

 

(This letter was forwarded to me by a good friend. I  find it  representative of how today’s Filipinos think and feel about  the issues facing the Philippine politics. I challenge all thinking Bicolanos – particularly Bulanenõs-  to give and share their analysis of  it and  I’m looking forward to receiving your comments soon.-  jun asuncion)

I used to think that corruption and criminality in the Philippines were caused by poverty. But recent events tell me this isn’t true. It is one thing to see people turn into drug addicts, prostitutes, thieves and murderers because of hunger and poverty, but what excuse do these rich, educated people have that could possibly explain their bizarre behavior? And to think I was always so relieved when petty snatchers got caught and locked away in jail because I never fully realized that the big time thieves were out there, making the laws and running our country. Can it get any worse than this?

Every night, I come home and am compelled to turn on my TV to watch the latest turn of events. I am mesmerized by these characters. They are not men. They are caricatures of men – too unreal to be believable and too bad to be real. To see these “honorable” crooks lambast each other, call each one names, look each other in the eye and accuse the other of committing the very same crimes that they themselves are guilty of, is so comical and apalling that I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. It is entertainment at its worst!

I have never seen so many criminals roaming around unfettered and looking smug until now. These criminals wear suits and barongs, strut around with the confidence of the rich and famous, inspire fear and awe from the very citizens who voted them to power, bear titles like “Honorable”, “Senator”, “Justice”, “General” and worse, “President”. Ironically, these lawless individuals practice law, make our laws, enforce the law. And we wonder why our policemen act the way they do! These are their leaders, and the leaders of this nation – Robin Hoodlumm and his band of moneymen. Their motto? “Rob the poor, moderate the greed of the rich.”

It makes me wonder where on earth these people came from, and what kind of upbringing they had to make them act the way they do for all the world to see. It makes me wonder what kind of schools they went to, what kind of teachers they had, what kind of environment would produce such creatures who can lie, cheat and steal from an already indebted country and from the impoverished people they had vowed to serve. It makes me wonder what their children and grandchildren think of them, and if they are breeding a whole new generation of improved Filipino crooks and liars with maybe a tad more style but equally negligible conscience. Heaven forbid!

I am an ordinary citizen and taxpayer. I am blessed to have a job that pays for my needs and those of my family’s, even though 30% of my earnings go to the nation’s coffers. Just like others in my lot, I have complained time and again because our government could not provide enough of the basic services that I expect and deserve. Rutted roads, poor educational system, poor social services, poor health services, poor everything. But I have always thought that was what all third world countries were all about, and my complaints never amounted to anything more.

And then this. Scandalous government deals. Plundering presidents pointing fingers. Senators associated with crooks. Congressmen who accept bribes. Big time lawyers on the side of injustice. De Venecia ratting on his boss only after his interminable term has ended, Enrile inquiring about someone’s morality! The already filthy rich Abalos and Arroyo wanting more money than they or their great grandchildren could ever spend in a lifetime. Joker making a joke of his own “pag bad ka, lagot ka!” slogan.. Defensor rendered defenseless. Gen. Razon involved in kidnapping. Security men providing anything but a sense of security. And it’s all about money, money, money that the average Juan de la Cruz could not even imagine in his dreams. Is it any wonder why our few remaining decent and hardworking citizens are leaving to go work in other countries?

And worst of all, we are once again saddled with a power-hungry president whose addiction has her clinging on to it like barnacle on a rusty ship. “Love (of power) is blind” takes a whole new meaning when PGMA time and again turns a blind eye on her husband’s financial deals. And still blinded with all that is happening, she opts to traipse around the world with her cohorts in tow while her country is in shambles.

They say the few stupid ones like me who remain in the Philippines are no longer capable of showing disgust. I don’t agree. Many like me feel anger at the brazenness of men we call our leaders, embarrassment to share the same nationality with them, frustration for our nation and helplessness at my own ineffectuality. It is not that I won’t make a stand. It is just that I am afraid my actions would only be futile. After all, these monsters are capable of anything. They can hurt me and my family. They already have, though I may not yet feel it..

But I am writing this because I need to do something concrete. I need to let others know that ordinary citizens like me do not remain lukewarm to issues that would later affect me and my children. I want to make it known that there are also Filipinos who dream of something better for the Philippines. I want them to know that my country is not filled with scalawags and crooks in every corner, and that there are citizens left who believe in decency, fairness, a right to speak, a right to voice out ideas, a right to tell the people we have trusted to lead us that they have abused their power and that it is time for them to step down. I refuse to let this country go to hell because it is the only country I call mine and it is my responsibility to make sure I have done what I could for it.

Those of us who do not have the wealth, power or position it needs to battle the evil crime lords in the government can summon the power of good. We can pray. We can do this with our families every night. We can offer petitions every time we celebrate mass. We can ask others to pray, too, including relatives and friends here and overseas. And we can offer sacrifices along with our petitions, just so we get the message to Him of our desperation in ridding our nation of these vermin. After all, they cannot be more powerful than God!

I implore mothers out there to raise your children the best way you can. Do not smother, pamper, or lavish them with too much of the material comforts of life even if you can well afford them. Teach them that there are more important things in this world. I beg all fathers to spend time with their children, to teach them the virtues of hard work, honesty, fair play, sharing, dignity and compassion – right from the sandboox till they are old enough to go on their own. Not just in your homes, but at work, in school, everywhere you go. Be good role models. Be shining examples for your children so they will learn to be responsible adults who will carry and pass on your family name with pride and honor.

I call on educators and teachers – we always underestimate the power of your influence on the minds of our youth. Encourage them to be aware of what is happening in their surroundings. Instill in them a love of their country, inculcate in them the value of perseverance in order to gain real, worthwhile knowledge, help us mold our children into honorable men and women. Encourage our graduates, our best and brightest, to do what they can to lift this country from the mire our traditional politicians have sunk us into. The youth is our future – and it would be largely because of you,, our educators, that we will be able to repopulate the seats of power with good leaders, presidents, senators, congressmen, justices, lawmakers, law enforcers and lawful citizens.

I ask all students, young people and young professionals everywhere to look around and get involved in what is happening. Do not let your youth be an excuse for failure to concern yourselves with the harsh realities you see. But neither let this make you cynical, because we need your idealism and fresh perspective just as you need the wisdom of your elders. YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU! Let your voices be heard. Do what you can for this land that gave you your ancestors and your heritage. Use technology and all available resources at hand to spread good. Text meaningful messages to awaken social conscience. Try your best to fight moral decay because I promise you will not regret it when you become parents yourselves. You will look back at your past misdeeds and pray that your children will do better than you did.

Remember that there are a few handful who are capable of running this country.. You can join their ranks and make their numbers greater. We are tired of the old trapos. We need brave idealistic leaders who will think of the greater good before anything else. Do your utmost to excel in your chosen field.. Be good lawyers, civil servants, accountants, computer techs, engineers, doctors, military men so that when you are called to serve in government, you will have credibility and a record that can speak for itself.

For love of this country, for the future of our children, for the many who have sacrificed and died to uphold our rights and ideals, I urge you to do what you can. As ordinary citizens, we can do much more for the Philippines than sit around and let crooks lead us to perdition. We owe ourselves this. And we owe our country even more.        /

                                                                                                                                      —————-end————-

Life Goes On In Canipaan: The Faces Of Hope

In Remembrance Of Manay Edna

 P1080016by: jun asuncion

 

 

 

 

 

 

(click photo to view Teachers’ Gallery)

They were Manay Edna’s faithful daily companions in her work as a teacher to our young Tagabulans- her  teaching colleagues in the Bulan North Central School. We visited them one day in their school which is just across the street where our Manay Edna had lived.

Listening to their stories (of how they have reacted upon hearing what happened to their beloved co-teacher with whom they were working and exchanging jokes just 4 or 5 days ago)  and recollections about Manay Edna and also their concerns as teachers made me feel so much in touch with the noblest und human side of Bulan. In truth, at this very moment  I’d wished that all the people of Bulan were teachers. I was awed at how they were carefully attending to their newly-organized  and very modest library, with meager quantity of books and materials- and how proud they were with the computer they have with Internet connection.

This moment was a revelation for me of how the world is really unequal or unfair. I mean the unequal distribution of resources, materials, wealth and opportunities that are in this planet Earth: One computer and only a handful of reference books for the whole school while I have  in my  high-tech home office four computers with router and wireless Internet with complete peripheries. And books? I have a bigger library than this school, with many other books already shipped home and still boxes of books and magazines at the cellar waiting for the verdict- be shipped or be given away.

Abundant in materials, yet I felt humbly poor in the presence of Manay Edna’s co- teachers for I didn’t have their feeling of excitement over such a modest number of office materials-and their desire to have a better library with more books. I”ve sensed the opposite trend in me which is dismantling my library, disposing away my books and other materials I now consider more as a burden- a burden?, indeed a shameful thought in front of these teachers; and of how living in a materially rich society can rob you of your senses for the simplest things and disconnects you from your past, although I thought that I had never changed. But surely, time and circumstance can change your perception without you even noticing it.

Be that as it may. However, this  meeting with the teachers  reminded me of one of the best moments in my elementary years- the distribution of new books at the beginning of each school year, how I carried them home with such care and excitement and how Manay Edna would help me cover each book with kartolina or even pages of her of old magazines. I still recall vividly these two favorite books in Grade  2 under Mrs. Britanico- WeWork And Play and Fun At Home And Away

Those were indeed happy years of learning to read and write in Bulan. Thus, this meeting with the teachers reminded me of my beginning, of the virtue of simplicity, perseverance and the importance to have a dream that propels your life which in turn helps you endure the hardship and kakulangan (material deficiency) that a simple life brings with it. For although we tend to have a romantic understanding of a simple life, it is not that simple to be a teacher  if you have children to feed and send to school while you receive a meager salary, and life is surely not easy to be one among the eight children of a teacher.

But over and above these life’s situations, it is of remaining human and dignified that counts in the end in the face of  poverty- or even richness, and the quality of your person and the memories you left to the people you have known the time when you were still part of the rhythm of life. The memories and retrospection I’ve heard from Manay Edna’s co-teachers (and countless pupils!)  have shown me how my sister has been loved and treasured. For like them, my sister Edna also lived a very simple life.

Yes, life goes on in Canipaan if you would just  look at the faces of Manay Edna’s co-teachers- the faces of Hope.

 

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Lessons That We Should Have Learned Long Time Ago…

from rudybellen

 

On Technology Development :

The research agency that virtually turned Taiwan around from an agrarian to an industrialized economy suggests that the Philippines should put up a similar agency that can get technologies take off from the shelves. The Philippines may derive a model from Taiwan in having established in 1973 the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), which widely bridged the gap needed in technology commercialization.

ITRI told a Congressional Commission on Science, Technology, and Engineering (Comste) forum that the US technology model (of the academe collaborating with industries) may not work in Asian countries like Taiwan and the Philippines. But the ITRI model may work too for the country as much as it did in Taiwan. US companies are very big and have the capability to do research through links with the university. ITRI is like something in between to get the universities to work with industries. Such institution, should be run like a private enterprise, although it may receive seed money from government.

Comste said that government has been studying the setting up of an institution that will enable the country to develop niche products that have high commercial potential. And ITRI may just lead the way. We may set up an R&D institute that’s partly government and partly private. This may need legislation. The role of government is basically to set incentives, maybe give some grants, some tax breaks. Essential to making research institutions meet private enterprises’ needs for technology is a law that allows government-funded R&D works to be owned and patented by researchers themselves. Comste said that to start off with a similar ITRI agency, government may pass a law converting the Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI) into a profit-earning corporation. ASTI at present is one of the Department of Science and Technology’s (DoST) seven-research institutes. While earning a small profit, ASTI remits much of its earnings to government. In my own personal view, I would probably start small and consider ASTI which is now focused on ICT (Information Communication Technology) and electronics to “corporatize”. Their mandate can cover many areas, not only ICT. Because it is advanced science and technology, it can also be on biotechnology and nano technology.

As Taiwan has been beefing up its R&D budget, which is now approaching three percent of gross domestic product (GDP), the country should devote more budgets for this from its present minuscule 0.12 percent of GDP, many times less than that of Taiwan, a lot smaller country of 23 million people, in the 1950s-1960s, the Philippines had a higher per capita income. Taiwan with its investments in R&D, ninth biggest in the world, has experienced an economic miracle that has made it sixteenth in rank in global trade and foreign exchange reserve fifth in the world. The Philippines still has an edge in being an English speaking-country and in having many natural resources, unlike Taiwan that only has its people as resource. However, its sole wealth in people, enabled Taiwan to tap its greatest potential in developing high-technology industries. ITRI, an agency with more than 5,000 researchers and more than 1,000 Ph.Ds, has enabled the spin-off of many technology companies.

The emergence of world’s biggest wafer foundry Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.,
is partly attributed to it. ITRI has invested more and has helped growth and birth of 255 companies under its Open Lab. These are Taiwan’s world market share in technology products: soho router, 93 percent; WLAN, 90 percent; Ethernet LAN switch, 84 percent; and cable CPE, 80 percent.

On Melamine Scare : Gov’t should strengthen dairy industry

The global impact of the melamine scare should push the government to reexamine its dairy program and accelerate its milk self-sufficiency target, which is originally set for 2018. The National Dairy Authority (NDA) set 2018 as the target for 100 percent milk sufficiency even as the discovery that large inventories of milk produced in China were laced with melamine, a chemical ingredient in the manufacture of plastics, has cast doubts on the integrity of imported milk. NDA is targeting to secure 11,000 dairy cattle in the next five years in its bid to raise production to 63 million kilos of milk yearly.Total national production is only five percent of demand, and the country’s entire population of milking cows is a pittance at 15,000 head. The annual production, mostly from cooperatives, is only 13 million kilos, while a big Thai dairy cooperative produces one million kilos a day.

A foremost backer of a strong dairy industry was former Senator Leticia Ramos Shahani, who launched her White Revolution years ago to bring in Indian cows and bulls to propagate higher yields of milk and meat in the country. The Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) also developed in vitro fertilization (IVF) to propagate better breeds, including some from Hungary, to increase the number of livestock for milk production. Dairy farmers have complained that there is little incentive for milk production even though there are large pasture areas in the country that have not been adequately exploited.

Industry players have said milking cows could increase milk production by consuming moringa or malunggay leaves, as proven by the experience of Nicaraguan farmers who secured an increase in milk by 45 percent. Malunggay could be intercropped with fruit-bearing trees to ensure that farmers would earn more. Experts said that with enough malunggay in pasture areas and with abundant grass sufficient for 10 cows per hectare, milk production could increase significantly.Some enterprising dairy farmers have proven that with enough pasture land; a cow can produce 15 liters of milk a day. More pregnant cows mean more milk, and cows can produce milk from seven to 10 years. They give birth on the eighth month and can get pregnant again after three months. Experts said small farmers all over the country could participate in the dairy improvement program through proper training and education on the long-term benefits of milk production.

The government needs to invest at least P500 million annually to enhance the local dairy industry’s capacity to produce milk and help lessen the country’s dependence on milk imports. The country imports between US$ 500 million to US$ 600 million or P25 billion worth of milk and other milk products annually. About 99 percent of milk and dairy products available in the Philippine market is imported, while only one percent is produced locally.The country’s dependence on imported milk and milk products makes the country vulnerable to the entry of toxic food products. Should the government “diversify” its focus and invest in the local dairy industry’s capacity to produce milk, the country could ensure the safety of dairy products in the market. The annual investment, will cover the importation of milk producing animals such as cows, which is estimated to cost P70,000 per head. The P500 million per year investment can easily be recovered by lessening the country’s spending on imported milk. Only a small portion of the Department of Agriculture’s budget is allotted to the local dairy industry, with the bulk of expenditures focused on rice sufficiency and operating expenses. Food security advocates, on the other hand, said the influx of contaminated food into the country could be traced to the Philippines’ trade policies. According to the Task Force Food Sovereignty, the trade liberalization strategy adopted in the early 1980s has caused the “inevitable toxic food dumping” at present.

When A Shaman Runs Amok

Or,  The Problem Of Depression And Violence In Finland

It happened just a few hours after I have posted my previous article about Finland: In Kauhajoki, Finland, a Finnish gunman ran amok killing  several students in a classroom. This horror echoes last November 11, 2007 ‘s student shooting -also at a classroom in Finland- which is known as the “Jokela High school Massacre” in the town of Tuusula. It sounds paradoxical as we have just been  praising the Finnish educational system and economy. But one thing is clear that these student shootings are not part and parcel of the educational program of Finland. But the question is why does such drama  happen in such an educated society? Education is just one aspect of the Finnish society, it is not everything, it’s a great accomplishment yet is not a panacea, a cure-all medicine of the ills of the society. This incident brings us rather to the nature and culture (upbringing) of the Finnish men and women as they went through the tunnel of time and experience. We mentioned the high rate of suicide and alcoholism in Finland, and this was already a problem even before their economic boom. The World Health Organization’s Survey of 2003 showed that  “at 26.6 per 100 000 population in 1993, the Finnish suicide rate  was by far the highest among the reference countries…” Suicide is a form of self-inflicted violence, and when this act involves other persons than oneself (take others with you, so to speak), then it is called extended suicide, a phenomenon observed in many industrialized countries. In trying to answer the root cause of this suicide phenomenon we must go back to the individual Finn and find a trait that could give us a clue which relates to this destructive behavior. The historian  Anthony Upton, concurs that even in the 19th century “Finland was understood to be two to three times more violent than Western European countries”. Statistics show that the Finnish suicide problem  is higher among the finnish male. Common sense will therefore tell us that Finnish men are more violent than women since suicide is by definition a form of violence. A study conducted by the Finnish sociologist Johanna Kantola confirms Upton’s statement when she found out that domestic violence in Finland has also the highest rate in Western Europe. Finnish men are indeed violent, with 40 % of women being victims of their violent men, as her study has shown. Violent behavior is a negative indicator of psychosocial-well being, which means that not all but many Finnish men are unhappy and do not find socially adequate means of expressing their emotions. This is mostly the result  of the social perception of the role of men in Finland (as in other cultures as well)-that of being like a Viking, hardened and strong, shielded from the attacks of the outside, no display of emotions. This is the weakness of their firewall system for nothing can come out anymore thus resulting to emotional suffocation, leading the system to break from within due to this accumulated pressure. The result is violence- either in form of direct suicide, indirect suicide (as excessive alcoholism and drug addiction) and/or domestic violence.The demand of a high-performance society is intense and this alone can cause depressions due to stress, mobbing, failures and broken relationships. You add to that the effect of the weather and climate, which in Finland is characterized by freezing temperatures and darkness for extended periods-not really a balsam for the soul- then you have the perfect ingredients of producing depression. The formula is simple: depression (seasonal, reactive or endogenous) combined with inward violence plus alcohol and modern drugs, mixed all together in a  stressed body and frustrated soul, result to Finns mostly hurting their partners, killing themselves and others (extended suicide )- a story we know also from Japan or even Switzerland.

Free education, industrialisation and economic boom have also their price: people, especially young people, are put under high pressure. In Finland-as in the Philippines- women outnumber men when it comes to attaining tertiary education. This fact makes the men understandably uneasy and in Finland with such a “macho” Viking past, men are placed under intense pressure. This adds more fuel to their violence inside. Entering a university is not at all easy even if it’s free of tuition; a student must bring the necessary high scholastic qualifications and competition among students is high. For this reason, it is not surprising that many Finns go abroad to study. These successive school massacres in Finland is already an indicator of young men’s frustration and violent attitude towards their educational institutions. However, these two recent Amok in Finland represent only the few extreme cases. Idealism (right-extremism) seemed also to have played a crucial role in both incidents. This time it’s an example not worthy of imitation.

 

jun asuncion

Bulan Observer

A Lesson From The Shamans, Witches And Magicians

Or, Education in Finland

by jun asuncion

 

What do I know about Finland aside from my nokia handy and the outstanding PISA ranking? I digged down and remembered Alvar Aalto, (February 3, 1898 – May 11, 1976)  a celebrated Finnish architect and designer, the Kalevala which is a book and epic poem compiled from the Finnish and Karelian folklore by the Finn Elias Lönnrot, herds of reindeers and moose, the thousands lakes, the Vikings that occupied it, the Lapland region with white snow and unspoilt nature and vast wilderness. For me it is a mystical place that has since excited my imagination, a place so remote that even now when I think of Finland I remember instantly  those Finnish women co-workers of mine who were white as snow covered in golden hairs, reminding me of skilled ancient Finnish witches, magicians and shamans who used music by singing special spells, herbal medicines and also by entering a trance, letting their souls travel to foreign places.

Hunger is not a specific Philippine problem.The worst famine in European history happened in the soils of Finland, killing 15 per cent of its already small population. Added to that, as a Finnish friend tells me, “During the second world war, we have lost almost all our men in Finland”. Finland fought against the Soviet Union and the Nazi-Germany and incurred heavy losses. Heavily dependent on Soviet union as its primary trading partner, Finland suffered deep recession in the early 90’s when the Soviet Union collapsed, simultaneous with its banking crisis, political mismanagement and with the global economic downturn at that time. Not to forget,  this agricultural country was and is better known also for having globally the highest suicide rate and high alcoholism. Alcohol has become the leading cause of death in Finland for men and for women and is surely a contributory factor in suicides, and is involved in deaths caused by accidents or violent crimes.

The population did not rise dramatically even when the economy became better after the second world war. With a total land area of 338,145 square kilometers and an estimated 2008 population of only 5,320,000, Finland is one of the sparsely populated lands of the world. By contrast: The Philippines is only 38,145 square kilometers smaller than Finland. Imagine now if the Philippines had only over 5,000,000 inhabitants! Bulan would have been empty, a wild park.

To survive, the government liberalized its economy and spent large amounts for high-tech education, training of highly-skilled teachers (mostly with master’s degree). This investment in education has paid off. Now Finland is one among the leading  global economies with highly-skilled work force. 

It is said that  Kalevala, that precious book of epic poems had provided the inspiration for the national awakening that ultimately freed the Finns from Russia in 1917. As I see it, the seed of their high-tech culture was already contained in that book, as described in the practices of the shamans like letting their soul travel while in trance, this astral projection as we used to call it. My brother-in-law studied architecture and design with Alvar Aalto in Finland and he provided me some of the most interesting reports about his master teacher Aalto and about Finnish culture in general. One specific story that got stucked in my memory was his story about the practice of mental telepathy by the local Finns. He was told by these people that it was natural for them to communicate with their friends and relatives via mental telepathy for there were no phones (at that time) and they live in great distances from each other. In winter it is cold and dark, thick snow and ice hinder travel even by foot. Telepathy was borne out of this necessity to communicate over wide distances and harsh weather conditions. Astral projection and mental telepathy? What do they have in common? It’s a wireless technology! This technology has always been there looming in the souls of the Finns; they seem to have this natural affinity to wireless technology since the beginning. Now, Finland  is the world leader in wireless communication technology. Just recently, I have read a report about it in a newspaper and reproduce here salient features of it:

-“Nowhere has mobile communication caught on as it has in sparsely populated Finland, where nearly 70 percent of the 5.3 million residents are armed with wireless phones and an ever-expanding array of tools, games and services they can use on the fly.”

-” Finland’s role in wireless development has been a boon for the country that only a decade ago was overly dependent on slumping wood-products industries and doomed trade with the Soviet Union.”

-“Although the phones can’t do all that a home PC can, Finnish companies have soared to the forefront with services that allow users to check news, sports and weather wherever they are, as well as read their horoscopes or biorhythms, order food, pay bills, buy Christmas presents and collect e-mail.”

-” What you see happening here today will be happening in other markets very soon. We’re just a year or two ahead of other Europeans, and Europeans are just a bit ahead of the United States,” says Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, chief financial officer for Nokia, the world’s largest wireless communications provider.”

-“Only about 25 percent of U.S. citizens own mobile phones, compared with about half the European population. Finland’s current 67 percent market penetration is expected to exceed 70 percent by the end of the year, a higher rate than in any other nation. Finland is followed by Hong Kong, Norway, Sweden, Israel, Japan, Denmark and Italy in the ranks of top cellular consumers.”

-“Wireless operations also allow Terentjeff to custom-fit the work environment to his employees’ needs, he says, noting that one valued co-worker has negotiated a protracted maternity leave on condition that she keep an eye on her projects via wireless conference calls from home.”

Tangible results of huge investment in education and research:
-“Gross domestic product rose more than 30 percent in the five years after 1992 and is projected to post an additional 20 percent increase by the end of this year. Unemployment has dropped from 20 percent at the start of the decade to 10.5 percent now — a level not expected to change despite healthy increases in new jobs each year because of the specialized training needed for the country’s new high- tech focus.”  ( source: San Francisco Chronicle.)

 

EDUCATION IN FINLAND: A Summary
Pre-school begins at age 6
Comprehensive school: age 7 to 16
Upper secondary school or vocational school: 16 to 19
Pupils in Finland, age 7 to 14, spend fewest hours in school
Higher education places for 65% young people
Second-highest public spending on higher education (source:oecd)

Major features:

The World Economic Forum ranks Finland’s tertiary education #1 in the world
-Free Education: No tuition fees are collected in all levels – elementary, secondary and tertiary education, be it public or private school.

– school health care and a daily free lunch

– school pupils are entitled to receive free books and materials and free school trips

-teaches the same curriculum to all pupils

 

Like all of you, I also wish we would have free education in the Philippines and all the other benefits like the Finnish system. Why not? It pays off in the end for the whole country. It would break the poor education-poverty cycle that we have talked about before. Other things being equal, all people could have education which in turn would give them the chance to work and get out of poverty. With educated population and a country without poverty, the Philippines would move forward. Here is one sad fact about our current educational system: it is elitistic and discriminating, fosters poverty and social divide. It attacks the family itself: for in a family of five or more children, the average parents could only send perhaps a child or two to college and what about the rest of the chiildren? So the system injects into the basic unit of society itself  the evil of division and discrimination. What kind of educational system is it then?

I do not believe that Singaporean minister’s statement  that increasing the teacher’s salary-as rudyb shared to us- is not the solution to the problems of education. It may apply to Singaporean teachers but not to our own teachers. It is indeed not the only solution but it is one of the solutions to encourage the teachers for in my view, the teachers are very much underpaid in the Philippines. In our country, things are a little bit more complex for our politics doesn’t understand the importance of education- and of educated politicians.

Going back to Bulan, I respect the Bulan Teacher’s Day  as started by Mayor Helen De Castro (see her 2007 report- Edukasyon). This is one of the many ways to give incentives to our teachers and teachers to be.

Otherwise it’s about time for us to consult and to learn the lessons from the shamans, witches and magicians. They know the way.

 

Bulan Observer

  

 

 

 

The Great Filipino Dream

Or, Greed Over Education

 

(This is actually my response to attybenji’s comment on Teachers, Don’t Leave Us Kids Alone!)

You may recall that Mrs. Arroyo refers to college education as the ‘great Filipino dream’. Indeed she’s right this time considering that, as the DepEd says, out of 10 students entering Grade 1, six will complete the elementary course, four will get through high school and two will enter college. If these two would finish college and if they would get a job is another story, or another dream!

The country is “on the verge of take off” Arroyo told us during her  SONA 2005. And she talked about increased  government spending on education for “better trained teachers in more classrooms; 30,000 additional classrooms and computer access to more than 3,000 high schools in the past four years; and a “healthy start” breakfast program for young schoolchildren.”

The truth is, the education sector continues to suffer from yearly budget cuts. The results are poor state of classrooms and school facilities and the severe shortage of teachers in public elementary and high schools nationwide.This is the worst crisis in public education. According to Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), in this school year, “classroom shortage is pegged at 57,930; teachers, 49,699; and desks and chairs, 3.48 million. Until now, 445 barangays (villages) in the country still have no elementary schools. Six municipalities still have no high school.” Based on these facts, I would rather say that the country is on the verge of a crash.

Education is supposed to narrow down social divide, hence foster social equality and justice. But it seems that in our country, the present state of education widens the “social scissor” ever more. A good education fosters social mobility, the absence of which fosters poverty and social alienation. And many of those who have made it through college have already left the country and many who are left at home are contemplating to leave, on the “verge of take off.” This is probably what Mrs. Arroyo meant. For as she said in her visit to Singapore in 2001, the Philippine economy will remain heavily dependent on Filipino overseas workers sending home some eight billion US dollars annually (stand of 2001). Last 2007, the OFW’s remittances amounted to about 14.7 billion dollars. Today, she still promote labor-export policy. Though the Philippine economy profits from these remittances, this kind of labor- policy is a clear sign of defeat on the part of the government, of failed politics and poor national housekeeping. It’s a proof of our third-world status. According to The International Monetary Fund, the Philippines is the third largest recipient of remittances among developing countries next to India and Mexico (World Economic Outlook Report in 2005). For Ninoy Aquino it is elusive justice after 25 years, for millions of young Filipinos it remains an elusive dream after twenty-one years of 1987 Constitution  to go to college as unabated hikes in tuition- both in public and private colleges- continue to plague tertiary education due in part to the Education Act of 1982, particularly Sec. 42. Tuition and Other Fees.- “Each private school shall determine its rate of tuition and other school fees or charges. The rates and charges adopted by schools pursuant to this provision shall be collectible, and their application or use authorized, subject to rules and regulations promulgated by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports”. This has led to continuous hikes in tuition.

The crisis in our public education is aggravated by the fact that the  Arroyo’s education budget amounts only to two percent of the GDP, which does not even meet the minimum standard prescribed by UNESCO which is six per cent of GDP. This is certainly not in accordance with Article 14 of the Constitution which mandates the state to provide for the highest budgetary allocation for education. Arroyo spends very little for education, yet brags of “coffers” in her SONA 2008 filled with monetary reserves to meet the food and fuel crises and insists on rice rationing to feed the poor and malnourished pupils with her breakfast program, capitalizing on and misusing the result of the Asian Development Bank study  that poor nutrition among children whittles down the IQ by 10 to 14 percent. This is nothing but deception of a bigger scale, opportunism and showmanship only, insulting the poor Filipino people and the OFW who send billions of dollars annually to the country. Arroyo is certainly not an educator but more of a politician from showbiz that brags than a graduate economist of reputable universities. This again is the logic of greed dominating education.

Given the present situation, it is indeed a great Filipino dream to study in college for millions of our young people. Arroyo is right this time. And for the tens of millions who are jobless, left alone without a future in their homeland and wanting to find a job abroad, the country is definitely on the “verge of a take-off” to Middle-East, Japan or the USA. Arroyo seems to be always right on things that should not be.

 

jun asuncion

Bulan Observer

Teachers, Don’t Leave Us Kids Alone!

 

Teacher’s salary should be doubled! A wishful thinking? Yes, this is  maybe a dream but one that rests upon solid foundation- upon our constitution in Article XIV, Section 5 (5) which says that” The State shall assign the highest budgetary priority to education and ensure that teaching will attract and retain its rightful share of the best available talents through adequate remuneration and other means of job satisfaction and fulfillment.”

Teachers are the real public servants for all so they deserve special attention and adequate remuneration and incentives. In short, upgrade the teacher’s salary! Although these people are in the first place driven by their calling to “transfer” knowledge to their students and not by the desire to accumulate material wealth, it is still proper for them to recieve a salary that will give them and their families a decent existence, keep them away from worries so they can focus their energy on teaching. This is the first step to ensure quality education. In Human capital theory, the economy of  a nation is a reflection of the quality of education. High quality education means high economy like Taiwan, Finnland, Hongkong and Japan to name a few examples. In short, a better educated population produces a better economy. 

Furthermore, Article XIV Section I of the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines says that ” The State shall protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels, and shall take appropriate steps to make such education accessible to all” and that the “State shall establish and maintain, a system of free public education in the elementary and high school levels. Without limiting the natural rights of parents to rear their children, elementary education is compulsory for all children of school age” Section 2 (3). (Republic Act No. 6655 of 1988 is very important in this connection, hence a suggested reading for more details. To this,  Education for All Philippine Plan of Action (EFA-PPA)  addresses access, equity, quality, relevance, and sustainability.)

Twenty-one years after the newly-enacted 1987 Constitution (the Constitution currently in effect, enacted during the administration of President Corazon Aquino, replacing the Marcos-tailored 1973 Constitution), Philippine Education today has “sunk to its lowest level” says Education Secretary Jesli Lapus during the  consultative meeting of  education stakeholders in Baguio City last January 2008 that was also attended by Arroyo. The alarm was first raised in 2006 by the department of Education. Yet two years after nothing has been improved. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroy admitts herself that the state of education continued to worsen, though the budget-as the governmnet claims- has increased over a 10-year period – from P90 billion in 1999 to P149 billion in 2008, excluding the P4 billion acquired in 2007 from the private sector,  after Education Secretary Jesli Lapus re-launched the Adopt-A-School program in 2006. Kudos to Jesli Lapus for his efforts in bringing Education as a societal concern. But gathering from the materials I’ve read pertaining to Philippine education, it shows that increasing the budget for education is not the only solution to the problems of education.

Past statistics show that generally Literacy Rate in the Philippines climbed up over the last few years- from 72 percent in 1960 to 94 percent in 1990 due to increase in the numbers of schools built-elementary, secondary and tertiary levely-  and the rising level of enrollment that followed. Indeed, if you would bother to examine the figures about education in the Philippines that you would find published in Internet, it’s very impressive how enrollment in commerce and business courses as well as engineering and technology courses went up. One interesting fact is the gender distribution: female students are very highly represented in all levels-elemetary, secondary and tertiary education-, whereby male and female students are almost equally represented in the elemetary level. The clear difference begins in the secondray and tertiary education. Here the females exceed the males. In general, higher rates of dropouts, failures and repetition are shown among the boys in the elementary and secondary levels. This is a phenomenon that interests me from a psychological viewpoint. One thing, what does “has improved” mean in the present time and even more interesting is, what does it mean today in global context? In this connection, we will talk later about PISA, or Programme for International Student Assessment.

According to our leading educators, the main problems of our education  are declining quality, affordability, budget and mismatch.

Quality  You may have noticed that the statistics merely give us figures. Quantity is one thing, quality is another thing. In the Philippines the problem of quality is a central issue that will bother us for the next decades. There is still much to be done in this area if we want to help Arroyo realize her dream of transforming the nation into a first-world country. For as of now we are down there below if seen globally. If you live outside the country, what the world knows is only about our corrupt presidents who are taking advantage of their people instead of working for the common good. Many among us  were sadden to hear that our president is the most corrupt leader and the Philippines voted as the most corrupt country in asia. One may question the credibilty of this survey and the people who designed and, most of all, people who financed the said survey. Indeed, this could also be politically-motivated one. But one thing for sure, the Arroyos have already dominated the headlines for corrupt practices even before this survey was made and published. So to expect a good quality of education in our nation amidst this political chaos, moral desorientation, poverty, the on-going rebellion in Mindanao and the ever-present NPA threats, is beyond imagination, a dream in the true sense of the word. Progressive leaders are geared in improving more and more the quality of education in their respective countries to keep up, if not lead, the global standards of excellence and global market demands. So they never tire in evaluating their educational programs and investing huge amounts annually for training, upgrade of facilities and for research. This is investing in human capital for they believe that in today’s  Information Age, education is a tremendous production factor becoming more valuable than capital and labor. 

AffordabilityIt is poverty that hinders education and it is poor education that fosters poverty. Many of us cannot afford to pay education. We just hit the core of the problem, the vicious cycle where there seems to be no way out for the majority of the Filipinos. A pupil can still make it to go to school without  breakfast and lunch for a day. The next day don’t expect this pupil to be in school. It’s just not possible to learn when hunger is killing you. The same with an intelligent public high school graduate from a province. Even if he topped the UP entrance examination and has qualified for government scholarship, who would shoulder his living expenses in Manila? His daily transportations? His school materials? He will end up somewhere below his potentials.

BudgetThe Philippines is slowly becoming a two-class society- the rich and the poor  with a collapsing middle class. Ninety-five per cent of all our elementary pupils are attending public schools and many of them never make it to finish grade six let alone enter public high school because of poverty (Last count reveals that  more than 17 million students are enrolled in public schools). The fight for progress should happen in two levels at the same time- that of maintaining and improving the quality of education and of eradicating extreme poverty and/or diminishing “normal”poverty. This is really the challenge to our political leaders. To our church leaders, if they really understand that poverty has direct connection with rising criminality and juvenile delinquency, that poverty contributes directly to breaking the Ten Commandments that Christianity teaches, then they should take the necessity of birth control as a moral imperative.

You would never see pupils inside a very good classroom with a well-trained teacher when, due to absence of food, all the pupils are  weak and sick or have to roam around looking for food. But even if we have sometimes reason to believe that the powerful few wants the majority to remain poor so they can easily control them, we should never give up striving for a better Filipino society by continously pushing for the needed reforms.

It is clear that in order to break this vicious cycle of poverty-poor education, the government should devise a sustainable socio-economic program of improving the livelihood of all poverty-striken families in all communities and follow the constitutional mandate of allocating the highest proportion of its budget to education. In reality, it is impossible to cope up with the first world when it comes to quality of education for while we are still trapped within this vicious cycle of poverty-poor education, the first world countries have since long freed themselves from this trap and since then been busy with high-tech researches and innovations, winning Nobel Prizes one after another.

MismatchThis is the argument that speaks for the needed reform in our educational system which is coupling vocational training with the private industry sector and rationally introducing Apprenticeship System. The state should create the necessary legal basis for this partnership between the educational and private industry sector. A four year vocational course for instance should be divided into two segments of two years theoretical learning and two years Apprenticeship to the corresponding industry sector where the student /apprentice learns the practical side of his chosen profession in coordination with his school. The student should be considered as an employee during this period and is entitled to monthly compensation which is adequate enough to support his existence as a student. During this apprenticeship period, the student attends theoretical lectures in his school at least two times a month, the school requiring him to pay only the minimum of tuition fees during this period. This is similar to the present OJT (On-the-Job Training) program being practiced now by some noted companies in the Philippines like IBM, Shell,etc.

 

Now about the PISA:

PISA or Programme for International Student Assessment (source wikipedia)

 The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a triennial world-wide test of 15-year-old schoolchildren’s scholastic performance, the implementation of which is coordinated by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The aim of the PISA study is to test and compare schoolchildren’s performance across the world, with a view to improving educational methods and outcomes.

Developement And Implementation

Developed from 1997, the first PISA assessment was carried out in 2000. The tests are taken every three years. Every period of assessment specialises in one particular subject, but also tests the other main areas studied. The subject specialisation is rotated through each PISA cycle.

In 2000, 265 000 students from 32 countries took part in PISA; 28 of them were OECD member countries. In 2002 the same tests were taken by 11 more “partner” countries (i.e. non-OECD members). The main focus of the 2000 tests was reading literacy, with two thirds of the questions being on that subject.

PISA’s debut round in 2000 was delivered on OECD’s behalf by an international consortium of research and educational institutions led by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER). It continued to lead the design and implementation of subsequent rounds of PISA for OECD.

Over 275 000 students took part in PISA 2003, which was conducted in 41 countries, including all 30 OECD countries. (Britain data collection however, failed to meet PISA’s quality standards and so the UK was not included in the international comparisons.) The focus was mathematics literacy, testing real-life situations in which mathematics is useful. Problem solving was also tested for the first time.

In 2006, 57 countries participated, and the main focus of PISA 2006 was science literacy. Results are due out in late 2007. Researchers have begun preparation for 2009, in which reading literacy will again be the main focus, giving the first opportunity to measure improvements in that domain. At last count (end-March 2007), about 63 countries were set to participate in PISA 2009. It is anticipated that more countries will join in before 2009.

Development of the methodology and procedures required to implement the PISA survey in all participating countries are led by ACER. It also leads in developing and implementing sampling procedures and assisting with monitoring sampling outcomes across these countries. The assessment instruments fundamental to PISA’s Reading, Mathematics, Science, Problem-solving, Computer-based testing, background and contextual questionnaires are similarly constructed and refined by ACER. ACER also develops purpose-built software to assist in sampling and data capture, and analyses all data.

The process of seeing through a single PISA cycle, start-to-finish, takes over 4 years.

Method Of Testing

The students tested by PISA are aged between 15 years and 3 months and 16 years and 2 months at the beginning of the assessment period. Only students at school are tested, not home-schoolers. In PISA 2006 , however, several countries also used a grade-based sample of students. This made it possible also to study how age and school year interact.

Each student takes a two-hour handwritten test. Part of the test is multiple-choice and part involves fuller answers. In total there are six and a half hours of assessment material, but each student is not tested on all the parts. Participating students also answer a questionnaire on their background including learning habits, motivation and family. School directors also fill in a questionnaire describing school demographics, funding etc.

Criticism has ensued in Luxembourg which scored quite low, over the method used in its PISA test. Although being a trilingual country, the test was not allowed to be done in Luxembourgish, the mother tongue of a majority of students.

Results

The results of each period of assessment normally take at least a year to be analysed. The first results for PISA 2000 came out in 2001 (OECD, 2001a) and 2003 (OECD, 2003c), and were followed by thematic reports studying particular aspects of the results. The evaluation of PISA 2003 was published in two volumes: Learning for Tomorrow’s World: First Results from PISA 2003 (OECD, 2004) and Problem Solving for Tomorrow’s World – First Measures of Cross-Curricular Competencies from PISA 2003 (OECD, 2004d)

Here is an overview of the top six scores in 2003:

Mathematics

Reading literacy

Science

Problem solving

1.  Hong Kong 550
2.  Finland 544
3.  South Korea 542
4.  Netherlands 538
5.  Liechtenstein 536
6.  Japan 534

 

1.  Finland 543
2.  South Korea 534
3.  Canada 528
4.  Australia 525
5.  Liechtenstein 525
6.  New Zealand 522

 

1.  Finland 563
2.  Hong Kong 542
3.  Canada 534
4.  Taiwan 532
5.  Estonia 531
6.  Japan 531

 

1.  South Korea 550
2.  Finland 548
2.  Hong Kong 548
4.  Japan 547
5.  New Zealand 533
6.  Macau 532

 

Professor Jouni Välijärvi was in charge of the Finnish PISA study: he believed that the high Finnish score was due both to the excellent Finnish teachers and to Finland’s 1990s LUMA programme which was developed to improve children’s skills in mathematics and natural sciences. He also drew attention to the Finnish school system which teaches the same curriculum to all pupils. Indeed individual Finnish students’ results did not vary a great deal and all schools had similar scores.

An evaluation of the 2003 results showed that the countries which spent more on education did not necessarily do better than those which spent less. Australia, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Japan, Korea and the Netherlands spent less but did relatively well, whereas the United States spent much more but was below the OECD average. The Czech Republic, in the top ten, spent only one third as much per student as the United States did, for example, but the USA came 24th out of 29 countries compared.

Compared with 2000, Poland, Belgium, the Czech Republic and Germany all improved their results. In fact, apparently due to the changes to the school system introduced in the educational reform of 1999, Polish students had above average reading skills in PISA 2003; in PISA 2000 they were near the bottom of the list.

Another point made in the evaluation was that students with higher-earning parents are better-educated and tend to achieve higher results. This was true in all the countries tested, although more obvious in certain countries, such as Germany.

2006 Survey

Here is an overview of the 20 places with the highest scores in 2006:

 

Mathematics

Science

Reading

1.  Taiwan  Finland  South Korea
2.  Finland  Hong Kong  Finland
3.  Hong Kong  Canada  Hong Kong
4.  South Korea  Taiwan  Canada
5.  Netherlands  Estonia  New Zealand
6.  Switzerland  Japan  Ireland
7.  Canada  New Zealand  Australia
8.  Macau  Australia  Liechtenstein
9.  Liechtenstein  Netherlands  Poland
10.  Japan  Liechtenstein  Sweden
11.  New Zealand  South Korea  Netherlands
12.  Belgium  Slovenia  Belgium
13.  Australia  Germany  Estonia
14.  Estonia  United Kingdom  Switzerland
15.  Denmark  Czech Republic  Japan
16.  Czech Republic  Switzerland  Taiwan
17.  Iceland  Macau  United Kingdom
18.  Austria  Austria  Germany
19.  Slovenia  Belgium  Denmark
20.  Germany  Ireland  Slovenia

——–

As announced, the next PISA Testing will be in 2009. I am not aware if the Philippines will be joining – or is ready to join this time. But given the total socio-economic and political situation in our country, I doubt if the Education Ministry will consider filling-up the application form. One thing more, I am not sure if we would meet the PISA standards for joining. It is astonishing how close we are geographically to our neighboring countries which  did not only join but topped the PISA 2006 like Taiwan  Korea and Hongkong in mathematics, reading and science respectively. One could actually reach Taiwan by a small boat. Yet viewed from these PISA Results, Taiwan appears to be light years away from the Philippines and so as South Korea, Hongkong and Japan. Indeed, these countries have shown that the future lies in asia and lately I have heard that from 2015 the Chinese universities will be dominating the world in terms of technical and scientific researches that European researchers can no longer do away without consulting their Chinese counterparts. Are we already satisfied with  the role of an on-looker in a rapidly developing asian community? If our people have no more faith in our politics this is understandable. But to lose faith in education is something that we cannot afford. We don’t leave our kids alone. And we have seen that nowadays our young people should not only be literate but should be able to fluently express themselves in liguistics and scientific terms to cope up with the global standards- or, let us say,- with the asian standards. This will take time and a genuine political will on the part of our next generations of leaders to finally set a decent goal for our country. The present administration has nothing else to offer in this respect for it’s too busy with other goals highly important for themselves only.

jun asuncion

THE ELUSIVE JUSTICE AFTER 25 YEARS!

Or, the Prepared Speech That Was Never Read.

By attybenji

Ninoy Aquino said, “The Filipino is worth dying for.”

In retrospect, Twenty Five (25) years after Ninoy Aquino’s death, only his murderer, the alleged hired killer, Rolando Galman (RIP) and the other alleged conspirators, (mostly members of the defunct AVSECOM-MIA), now languishing and serving their sentence in the National Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City, have been convicted.

Until now, these convicts are still denying their participations in the alleged grand conspiracy in killing Ninoy Aquino.

But what/how about the alleged mastermind of this heinous crime of all time? Ferdinand Marcos, Imelda Marcos, Fabian Ver & Danding Cojuangco, et al..

Imelda Marcos and Danding Conjuangco were not formally charged nor indicted for their alleged participations in the conspiracy, same thing with the late Ferdinand Marcos, who is now 6ft. below the ground, and also the late Fabian Ver was acquitted already by the Sandigan Bayan many years back. Similarly, the Agrava Fact Finding Commission, which was established by the government then to conduct full-blown investigation on Ninoy’s death, has concluded that his (Ninoy) death was part of the grand military conspiracy.

In his grave probably, Ninoy is still crying out for justice, his ghost continues to haunt his real killer/s, and we, Filipinos, are likewise crying out loud for justice to Ninoy. And hoping to see the light ahead.

Ladies & gentlemen, boys & girls, Today, August 21, 2008, we are celebrating the 25th Death Anniversary of one of our National Heroes, “Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr.

truly, Republic Act No. 9256 was passed and approved in to law on February 25, 2004, AN ACT DECLARING AUGUST 21 OF EVERY YEAR AS NINOY AQUINO DAY, A SPECIAL NONWORKING HOLIDAY, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES”

Apparently, prior to said event, president GMA has issued an order commemorating Ninoy’s death on August 18, 2008 instead of August 21 as what the law provides, and declared the former date as non working holiday.

In restrospect, when Ferdinand Marcos declared Presidential Decree 1081 on September 21, 1972 placing the entire country under Martial Law, the Writ of Habeas Corpus was suspended. Many Filipinos were arrested for subversion including Ninoy. He was arrested, imprisoned and exiled along with the other activists at that time. He suffered a heart attack and was put on exile in the United States. He decided to come back to the Philippines on August 21, 1983 at the expense of his own life.

“if it’s my fate to die by an assassin’s bullet, so be it”.

His death ignited the hearts of every Filipino, who longed for freedom and were long sufferers of a country governed by a dictator. His death catapulted the EDSA Revolution, famously known as “People Power.”

Until now, the perpetrators of his assassination were not yet convicted. His case is one of the mysteries in history that will never be unveiled although deep in our hearts (Filipinos) we know who the mastermind/s was/is – are/were.

“The Filipino is worth dying for.”

Twenty five years after Ninoy’s death, in retrospect, is the Filipino still worth dying for?

Today, heroes are only found on the peso bills, decorative statues on building façade, parks, and streets, and institutions named on their behalf.

His death has in fact triggered the EDSA revolution that toppled the former dictator Marcos from Malacañang, and installed Cory Aquino to presidency.

The younger generation today lost the fire that ignited the revolution in EDSA. Twenty five years have passed since Ninoy’s death and 22 years after EDSA “People Power” Revolution… What happen now? The answer is yours!

Some writers say, we need another Ninoy to fuel our nationalism/love of country, not just loving oneself, one’s family, or loving one’s community.

I do not have the authority to preach, teach, or dictate about the current level of nationalism of us, Filipinos, but I could definitely say that we have forgotten the true meaning of Ninoy’s death and the true message of EDSA UNITY, FREEDOM, JUSTICE, and PEACE!

Analogous to this, I would like to quote & reproduce hereunder the most famous undelivered and never read speech in Philippine history of Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr. This speech, as we all know, was made and prepared by him while he was still in the United States, or said speech was drafted prior to his arrival in the Philippine soil on August 21, 1983. And, as expected based on his premonition, and apprehension, upon his arrival at MIA Tarmac, he was brutally murdered point blank, and failed to deliver his message to the entire Filipino people.

The UNDELIVERED SPEECH!
By Ninoy Aquino, Jr.

“I have returned on my free will to join the ranks of those struggling to restore our rights and freedoms through nonviolence.

I seek no confrontation. I only pray and will strive for a genuine national reconciliation founded on justice.

I am prepared for the worst, and have decided against the advice of my mother, my spiritual adviser, many of my tested friends and a few of my most valued political mentors.

A death sentence awaits me. Two more subversion charges, both calling for death penalties, have been filed since I left three years ago and are now pending with the courts.

I could have opted to seek political asylum in America, but I feel it is my duty, as it is the duty of every Filipino, to suffer with his people especially in time of crisis.

I never sought nor have I been given assurances or promise of leniency by the regime. I return voluntarily armed only with a clear conscience and fortified in the faith that in the end justice will emerge triumphant.

According to Gandhi, the WILLING sacrifice of the innocent is the most powerful answer to insolent tyranny that has yet been conceived by God and man.

Three years ago when I left for an emergency heart bypass operation, I hoped and prayed that the rights and freedoms of our people would soon be restored, that living conditions would improve and that blood-letting would stop.

Rather than move forward, we have moved backward. The killings have increased, the economy has taken a turn for the worse and the human rights situation has deteriorated.

During the martial law period, the Supreme Court heard petitions for Habeas Corpus. It is most ironic, after martial law has allegedly been lifted, that the Supreme Court last April ruled it can no longer entertain petitions for Habeas Corpus for persons detained under a Presidential Commitment Order, which covers all so-called national security cases and which under present circumstances can cover almost anything.
The country is far advanced in her times of trouble. Economic, social and political problems bedevil the Filipino. These problems may be surmounted if we are united. But we can be united only if all the rights and freedoms enjoyed before September 21, 1972 are fully restored.

The Filipino asks for nothing more, but will surely accept nothing less, than all the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the 1935 Constitution — the most sacred legacies from the Founding Fathers.

Yes, the Filipino is patient, but there is a limit to his patience. Must we wait until that patience snaps?

The nation-wide rebellion is escalating and threatens to explode into a bloody revolution. There is a growing cadre of young Filipinos who have finally come to realize that freedom is never granted, it is taken. Must we relive the agonies and the blood-letting of the past that brought forth our Republic or can we sit down as brothers and sisters and discuss our differences with reason and goodwill?

I have often wondered how many disputes could have been settled easily had the disputants only dared to define their terms.

So as to leave no room for misunderstanding, I shall define my terms:

1. Six years ago, I was sentenced to die before a firing squad by a Military Tribunal whose jurisdiction I steadfastly refused to recognize. It is now time for the regime to decide. Order my IMMEDIATE EXECUTION OR SET ME FREE.
I was sentenced to die for allegedly being the leading communist leader. I am not a communist, never was and never will be.

2. National reconciliation and unity can be achieved but only with justice, including justice for our Muslim and Ifugao brothers. There can be no deal with a Dictator. No compromise with Dictatorship.

3. In a revolution there can really be no victors, only victims. We do not have to destroy in order to build.

4. Subversion stems from economic, social and political causes and will not be solved by purely military solutions; it can be curbed not with ever increasing repression but with a more equitable distribution of wealth, more democracy and more freedom, and

5. For the economy to get going once again, the workingman must be given his just and rightful share of his labor, and to the owners and managers must be restored the hope where there is so much uncertainty if not despair.

On one of the long corridors of Harvard University are carved in granite the words of Archibald Macleish:

“How shall freedom be defended? By arms when it is attacked by arms; by truth when it is attacked by lies; by democratic faith when it is attacked by authoritarian dogma. Always, and in the final act, by determination and faith.”

I return from exile and to an uncertain future with only determination and faith to offer — faith in our people and faith in God.”

-End of Speech-

This is a very informative one, and considered as one of the famous political speeches of all time in Philippine History.

Until Now, or 25 years after Ninoy was assassinated, the real mastermind of the killing and other conspirators have yet to be indicted in court or convicted.

Justice to Ninoy is justice to all.

“Never To Own Anything That Is Not Ours”

Never to own anything that is not ours? A Confusian analect, Marxist’s dialectic or Nietzsche’s geneaology of morals? No, it’s from the mouth of a poor, malnourished Filipino boy, with barely nothing to put into his mouth but turned in a bag with P18,000.
Yes, I stumbled upon this old news and made me  ponder upon this simple question: ” If a poor, malnourished boy can be honest, why can’t our moneyed presidents be honest?”. This led me to one of the first lessons we learned early in life at home and in school : “Honesty is the best policy”. This is very elementary, indeed. Our president  has gone beyond elementary schooling, she went on to higher education, got her doctorate in economics and she even went abroad for further studies. But it seems that all these things did not do her good for as a president she has forgotten the best policy- that of honesty. Too much education but lacking in honesty is I think as good as nothing. For me it is clear: Not Arroyo but a boy like him is the hope of our nation. Here’s the story:
………………………………..

Boy turns in bag with P18,000

Filipino values still practiced by simple Filipinos.
By Eva Visperas
Wednesday, October 10, 2007

“DAGUPAN CITY – Eleven-year-old Gicoven Abarquez spends his free time gathering plastic bottles around this city’s downtown area to help augment his family’s meager income.

But despite the family’s need for money, the boy never thought of keeping the bag containing around P18,000 which he found while looking for plastic bottles one day.

Abarquez, a grade four pupil at the East Central Elementary School here, was recently honored by the Dagupan City Police for his admirable honesty.

The boy was described by city police chief Superintendent Dionicio Borromeo as “malnourished, and who looks like a five-year-old because of his small body frame.”

It was last Sept. 21 when Abarquez, nicknamed Gangga, picked up the pouch bag along Perez Blvd.

“What was very impressive about this boy was that he never thought of owning the ‘manna,’ but immediately decided to turn it over to the police,” Borromeo told The STAR.

“It’s really heartwarming because he has high trust in the police,” he added.

Abarquez, the youngest of four children of Maria, a helper in a bagoong factory, and Benito, a construction worker, said his parents would get mad at him if he would take the money which does not belong to him.

“My mother taught us never to own anything that is not ours,” Abarquez told Borromeo.  

“If you see a Filipino like him, you will say, ‘There’s still hope in the Philippines after all’,” Borromeo said.

The awarding was delayed and held the other day because Borromeo wanted to add significance to the occasion by holding the ceremony this October in commemoration of Children’s Month.

Details about the money found by Abarquez have not been totally divulged because fake claimants have been going to the police station.

But Abarquez said he would be able to recognize the man who lost the bag as he saw him board a jeepney when the pouch he was carrying fell. The jeepney immediately sped off so Abarquez was not able to call the man’s attention, and brought the money to the police.

The police have given the true claimant 60 days, starting last Monday, to show up at their station. If the owner fails to come forward, the police, upon deliberation, have decided that the money will be given as a reward to the Abarquez family.

The local police also plans to make Abarquez the beneficiary of their Kinabukasan Mo, Sagot Ko scholarship project.

Borromeo said they will give school supplies to Abarquez including a school bag, notebooks, paper, ballpens, shoes and school uniforms. Abarquez, they learned, has never owned a pair of shoes.

The Kiwanis Club of Dagupeña likewise pledged to give Abarquez some of the books that he needs for school.”

—————-

So far, so good as we used to say. This happened last year and I just wondering if the boy ever received the promised rewards by the police and the Kiwanis Club. And what happened to that P18,000? It’s just normal to wonder or entertain some doubts in a place where the authorities say one thing but do another thing, the problem of sincerity in our nation.

What’s wrong with being basic? Some people pretending to know everything already and who think they’re already far enough, are usually the same people who commit the most silly mistakes in life. The reason is that they ignored the very basic (simple) truths in life. You can claim to be very sophisticated in your thinking, to be on another level than the rest around you. But don’t you know that  simple things are most complex and difficult to follow? To live a simple life, for instance, is hard, when you mean by simple living avoiding the complexities, etc. of civilization and retreating to the countryside. For then you have to gather your firewoods, fetch your water from a well, wash your clothings by hands, feed your animals, etc. It’s hard work everyday! The same thing with basic teaching like “Be honest”. Simple as it is, but all of us have trouble with this and have failed. But worse,  all our presidents have failed. Who would believe for instance Arroyo’s SONA 2008? As Aesop has noted,” A liar will not be believed, even when he speaks the truth”.

According to John Ruskin, the beginning of education is to make your children capable of honesty. Our honest boy Gangga, though poor shows more education than the last five presidents of our republic which includes the sitting Arroyo. This poor boy speaks the language of honesty, not of greed. He surely learned this language from his parents, unlike our presidents who seemed to have patterned their concept of honesty not from their parents but from the practical definition of what a president now means in our nation: Greed as Measure of All, in short, GMA. Again, Marcos was the founder of this New School Of Greed, and was the mentor of the next generations of successful republic plunderers. The logic of Greed, however, doesn’t know what a genuine human feeling and loyalty is about. So they help one another to dethrone the incumbent Greed Holder only to replace him with their own version of Greed.

We know that Marcos did not bother about Jueting business, for instance, as Estrada did. Instead he concentrated on gold bars by shipping them all to Switzerland, hidden in a certain corner in Zürich a few kilometers from where I am writing this post. Indeed each of them has his/her own field of specialty, Marcos the miner with his fields of gold, Estrada the gambler with his gambling arenas and Arroyo the rice and fertilizer dealer with her rice fields. One of his outstanding students was undoubtedly Mr. Estrada, a man without formal education but graduated summa cum laude from this New School Of Greed. According to governor Singson at that time ( who was one of Estradas Jueting’s payoffs collectors), Estrada was receiving P32 to 35 million a month in Jueteng collections alone. With these high standards of earning set by these presidents, it is not surprising that Filipinos aspiring for presidency have in their subconscious also the dream of getting super rich- exactly  like their mentors. Even the sitting president graduated with honors from this school and is on the way to realizing this dream to the fullest. But she displayed a good portion of her education and loyalty by pardoning her ex-Boss Estrada, pardoning his plunder! This is the logic of greed in action, a logic too complex for our boy to comprehend. Truly, Professor Marcos was very successful in this respect. He taught his students this logic and helped them realize this Philippine Dream.

Going back to Erap, getting cuts from foreign loans or from big government contracts were too complicated for the mind of  this former small-town mayor, unlike Marcos who, being a criminal lawyer was familiar with legal technicalities. The bigger the mind, the more complex is the arena of deception. The small-minded Erap continued therefore with his Jueting, an expertise he knew so well during his mayor days. We are all familiar with the mechanics of town politics: The mayor appoints on day one his/her chief of police, if possible a relative. Utang na loob (debt of gratitude) pressures this chief of police to protect the personal interests of the mayor, mostly his/her illegal activities like Jueting, thereby reducing the whole town police corps to mere bodyguards or private goons of the mayor. We hope that Bulan was and is an exception to the rule! Anyway, this mechanics was continued by Erap as president viewing the entire PNP as his personal bodyguards. Now, we also hope Arroyo is an exception to this rule! I stand to be corrected here.

To continue, do you really believe this boy was too weak to tell a lie or to carry home that bag since home was much farther than the next police station? Well, I think not. Don’t be surprised if I would tell you now that we have more honest young people in Manila than Zürich! This keeps me optimistic about our chance for a better Malacañang or Philippines. This is the reason why: The second good news from home I read published in the local Zürich newspapers, now reproduced in English hereunder:

_______________

 Reader’s Digest’s Global Honesty Test

Are people honest?
Reader’s Digest conducts global cell phone honesty test: Researchers ‘lose’ mobile phones in 32 cities, and two thirds are returned
By Reader’s Digest Association
Jul 23, 2007 – 6:02:20 PM

If you were sitting on a park bench and noticed that a “lost” cell phone was ringing, would you answer it? And if so, and a stranger’s voice on the other end asked you to take time from your busy day to return the phone, what would you do? Hang up? Keep the phone? Or, agree to return it?
That’s exactly what Reader’s Digest editors wanted to find out. And so the world’s most widely read magazine used its network of global editions to conduct an informal test of honesty around the world, asking reporters in the most populous cities in 32 countries to leave 960 mid-priced mobile phones in busy public places.
Local researchers from each country arranged and conducted their own tests, observing the mobiles from a distance. They rang the phones and waited to see if anyone would answer, and then watched to see if the person would (1) agree to return it, (2) call later on preset numbers that were programmed into the handsets, or (3) keep the phones for themselves. After all, these were tempting, brand-new phones with usable airtime.
The researchers tallied the results, interviewed test participants, and filed their reports in many of the August editions of Reader’s Digest, including the Web edition of U.S. Reader’s Digest (www.rd.com) and U.S. Selecciones magazine. While the study was not scientific, the results provided a fascinating human interest story.
“What we found out surprised and intrigued us,” said Conrad Kiechel, Editorial Director, International. “In every single city where the test was conducted, at minimum almost half of the phones were returned. And despite the temptation that people must have felt to keep the phones, and the fact that the test imposed on everyone’s time, the average return rate was a remarkable 68 percent, or about two thirds of the 30 phones we dropped in each city.”
The test followed last year’s Reader’s Digest Global Courtesy Test, which made headlines worldwide. Like the 2006 test, it was developed and overseen by the magazine editors in each of the participating countries. Both programs dramatically illustrated the magazine’s remarkable geographic “footprint” by conducting simultaneous local tests and reporting the results globally.
The highest percentage of returned phones was in the smallest city, Ljubljana, Slovenia, with a population of only 267,000. All but one of 30 cell phones were returned. From a nun at a bus stop to a young waiter at a coffee shop (who also retrieved a leather jacket the reporter had accidentally left behind – not part of the test!), the residents in this picture-postcard city in the foothills of the Alps were almost universally helpful.
Could the citizens of a major metropolis, with all its stress and pressure, be as honest? The people of Toronto, Canada (population 5.4 million), came close, returning 28 of 30 phones. “If you can help somebody out, why not?” said Ryan Demchuk, a 29-year-old insurance broker, who returned the mobile.
Seoul, South Korea, was third in the rankings, followed by Stockholm, Sweden, where Lotta Mossige-Norheim, a railway ticket inspector, found the mobile on a shopping street and handed it back. “I’m always calling people who’ve left a handset on my train,” she said.
Tied for fifth place in the rankings with 24 returned phones were: Mumbai, India; Manila, the Philippines; and New York City.
In many countries, people said they believed the young would behave worse than their elders. Yet, in the test results, young people were just as honest. In New York’s Harlem section, 16-year-old Johnnie Sparrow arranged to meet a reporter later that evening. Arriving at the scheduled time flanked by a group of younger neighborhood boys who clearly looked up to him, Sparrow was surprised to learn that the lost phone wasn’t lost at all. But he was proud of how he reacted when he found it.
“I did the right thing,” he said with a smile.
Parental influence weighed heavily with some. “My parents taught me that if something is not yours, don’t take it,” said Muhammad Faizal Bin Hassan, an employee of a Singapore shopping complex, where he answered a ringing phone.
Many adults accompanied by children were keen to show the young people how to behave when they spotted a phone. In Hounslow, West London, Mohammad Yusuf Mahmoud, 33, was with his two young daughters when he answered a phone in a busy shopping street. “I’m glad that my kids are here to see this. I hope it sets a good example,” he said.
Women were slightly more likely to return phones than were men.
All over the world, the most common reason people gave for returning a phone was that they too had once lost an item of value and didn’t want others to suffer as they had. “I’ve had cars stolen three times and even the laundry from the cellar was taken,” said Kristiina, 51, who returned a phone in Helsinki.
So, how did planet earth perform in the honesty test? Everywhere, the locally based Reader’s Digest reporters heard pessimism about the chances of getting phones back, especially given economic and other pressures. And yet, globally, 654 mobiles, or 68 percent, were returned.

 

The Phones we got back, city by city
Rank City Country Phones Recovered (out of 30)
1 Ljubljana Slovenia 29
2 Toronto Canada 28
3 Seoul South Korea 27
4 Stockholm Sweden 26
5= Mumbai India 24
  Manila Philippines 24
  New York USA 24
8= Helsinki Finland 23
  Budapest Hungary 23
  Warsaw Poland 23
  Prague Czech Republic 23
  Auckland New Zealand 23
  Zagreb Croatia 23
14= Sao Paulo Brazil 21
  Paris France 21
  Berlin Germany 21
  Bangkok Thailand 21
18= Milan Italy 20
  Mexico City Mexico 20
  Zurich Switzerland 20
21= Sydney Australia 19
  London UK 19
23 Madrid Spain 18
24 Moscow Russia 17
25= Singapore Singapore 16
  Buenos Aires Argentina 16
  Taipei Taiwan 16
28 Lisbon Portugal 15
29= Amsterdam Holland 14
  Bucharest Romania 14
31= Hong Kong Hong Kong 13
  Kuala Lumpur Malaysia 13

 ________________________

 Manila was 5th worldwide, and among asian cities tested, Manila placed 2nd after Seoul. This is something to be proud of, a ray of hope for Manila. How about Bulan’s Honesty Index? We have no solid facts in our hands to base our argument. Perhaps we need to device and conduct also such a test. How about our local government, our local chief executive? How do you rate her SOBA 2007- or,  State Of Bulan Address 2007? Public Trust And Credibilty is a public definition and perception, not a self-definition or self-rating by the mayor herself. Therefore it is legal and correct that people discourse about it publicly. It’s a needed feedback.

Mayor Helen De Castro reports herself, and I qoute, “ Public Office is a Public Trust”. Sayo baga tabi ini na padomdom sa entero na mga Opisyal san Gobierno, na an poder, autoridad nan capacidad na inhatag sa kaniya sayo na de-kumpiansa na trabaho. Permi ko tabi in-iisip na sa pagiging Mayor ko, nasa kamot nan liderato ko an kaayadan o pagroro san bungto ta, nan sa paagi san amo Administrasyon, makabalangkas kami sin mga plano, programa nan mga proyekto na para sa kaayadan san kadaghanan na mga ciudadano. Importante man na makuwa mi lugod tabi an kooperasyon, partisipasyon nan pagdanon san mga miembros san Komunidad Bulanenyo.
Ini na paghatod ko sa iyo sin Report saro na paagi basi maaraman tabi niyo kun nano na an mga inhimo namo, segun sa tiwala niyo sa amo. Parte ini san pangako mi na accountability nan transparency, na dire kamo nai-ignorar san mga programa san Gobierno Lokal.”

She says openly that she needs your participation and constructive assessment of her performance after you had entrusted her this office. So why not avail of this offer from Mayor Helen De Castro herself? Indeed, we should never own anything that is not ours- aside from things that legally belong to us, like our own opinion. Therefore, be proud of your opinions and voice them out. Our mayor needs them.

 

jun asuncion

Bulan Observer

When Money Is Not Everything

By: Dora The Mouse

 

When I was a child growing up, I’ve seen poverty and misery at a very young age. I experienced hunger and deprivation like everybody else around my neighborhood.  Those were the years when one can not really comprehend what poverty really like until you experienced it.  When it rains, it poured rain into my house. When I was cold , there was no sweater to keep me warm. When I was hungry, there was no food to eat . When I was sick, there was no medicine to ease my pain. My grandmother will kill a chicken to see what is inside the chicken and diagnose my illness. When I go to school, there was no breakfast to nourish my brain.  When I go home from school, there was no food on the table. When I go to church, I did not have  shoes on my feet. I go barefooted. One time, my  late father bought me a pair of shoes three sizes more than the size of my feet. I cried and told him that the shoes are too big for me. He told me to put some old newspaper inside and it will fit me. He told me that my feet will grow into it.  Three years later, my feet really grew into it and I stop putting newspaper inside my shoes. When I cry for help, there was nobody there to help because everybody was helpless too.   Years later, when I was 10 years old , we still suffer from hunger . My cousin and I will sit under a mango tree after a day’s work in the rice field talking about our aspirations in life.  Everybody wants to be rich like what we see in the movies. We dreamed about driving beautiful cars, big houses and pretty dresses with matching shoes, all the candies and chocolates we can buy. It was fun to dream big dreams but can I  really  do it in real life? Everybody just shrugged it off because we were poor and can not even afford to go to  high school  how much more in college.  As a ten year old kid, I thought, life was a daily struggle to survive. How much more going to college and fulfill my dreams.  It was a big dream for a ten year old kid. I didn’t have a clue how and where to start. But our poverty and the hardships I went through while growing up gave me a very good lesson in life that I carried through out my adult life. It gave me inspirations to work hard, set a goal and go for.   DO NOT GIVE UP! My late father said. Life is like a wheel sometimes you are up there and sometimes you are down here.  Right now we are down here poor and struggling.  Try and work hard.  Whether you succeed or failed at least you tried than not trying at all.  In other words, give your best shot and go for it in full throttle.

Many years later, I reached the age wherein I was ready to tackle whatever is in the future for me. I work hard, I mean, really  hard. You can imagine, working during the day and go to school at night. No vacation, no outing like any  other young adult does. I was stubborn like a tiger and nothing can stop me to reach and attain the goal I set for myself.  A few years later, I finished college and work hard until I   reach the very top of the ladder. I have a good position at work, earned good money, bought anything money can buy, like my dreams with my cousins when we were young and sitting under the mango tree.  Bought the latest sport car,  went to the best restaurant in town and bought the latest designer clothes with matching bags and all. Took care of my relatives and made their lives more comfortable but I still wasn’t happy. The material things that surround me were a temporary pleasure. There was something missing in my life that I tried to search and understand.  I tried to be spiritual and search my heart and my soul. What is it? I was  restless, searching aimlessly, where is happiness? My heart is empty of that inner contentment and peace.  I HAVE EVERYTHING MONEY CAN BUY, BUT IN ACTUALITY I HAVE NOTHING. 

MY SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS.   I traveled and went to far places to search for that elusive HAPPINESS. It was a lonely road. I’ve seen poor people on the sidewalk begging for food, a mother with a child in her arms sitting and trying to breastfeed her child but the child continued to cry. I know that the woman probably does not have enough milk. She herself looks emaciated and hungry. I’ve seen little Nipa  Huts with holes on the roof like we used to have many years ago. I saw this man age 35 years old but look 55 because of long years of carrying heavy gravel by the sack. I’ve visited a local elementary school and the old Principal told me that the children fetch their drinking water from the river nearby and asked me if I could donate a water pump.  I promised him that I will donate a water pump . I spoke to one of the school children  that caught my attention for he was very quiet in the corner.  Asked him if he ate his  breakfast, and he replied, there is nothing to eat but I  still go to school. This reminds  me of long ago when I was his age going to school hungry.  I told him maybe he will have lunch and he replied, if there is any food. What if there is no food, I asked, then I go to sleep. Why sleep? Why not play? I don’t have the energy to play. By the time I finished my interview with him, I was the one crying and the little boy was just looking at me with bewilderment in his eyes.  I’ve visited a local hospital in Pawa( Gotladera Memorial Hospital)  and saw the plight of the patients waiting for help. If they don’t have the money to buy the medicine and medical supplies that was prescribed, then , I guess, they will  just go home without any relief of his/her ailment. I encountered a  very old man walking along side the road, limping and in agony. He told me that he has “rayuma” but can not afford to buy the medicine for pain. Apparently, his children a son and a daughter both died a long time ago. There is nobody there to help him in his old age.  He makes his living by planting camote and camoting kahoy but his rayuma is getting worse now. He is worried what will happen with him when he can no longer get out of the house to work. I looked at him in his eyes, he was crying. I held his old wrinkled  hands and whispered  to him, Help will come soon and  left with a heavy heart. When I reached my house, I send him some rice and medicine for pain.

Why? why all these poverty?  What is the government doing ? Where are our leaders? It had been twenty years since I left my barrio. I did not see any progress. Nothing.  I saw the same people that I used to play with years ago, the sign of hardship in life was very visible. Their sad look in their eyes, the several lines in their brows and faces, the missing teeth for lack of dental care, the emaciated look, the hardened hands from years of  working in the field. These were my friends and when I saw them, I feel very sad.  The government has to do something and do it NOW!

 THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINES IS OVER. After a long search for that inner peace and contentment that I was missing in my life, I finally found it. It was right here in my heart  all along.   The poverty and hunger I went through when I was a child was the driving force to seek the reasons of my restlessness and unhappiness. I want to know why? All the successes that I gained and the honors I was bestowed from my dedication at my work was just a piece of paper. My heart was still empty. I felt like a restless soul, searching, wandering aimlessly in the open field, where all I can see was vast space of empty fertile land with no grass growing, it was like my life, empty and hollow. From the lonely path I was traversing ,  I finally found the happiness I desperately sought.  It was the  realization that YOU CAN NOT BUY HAPPINESS AND  MONEY IS NOT EVERYTHING.

WHAT MONEY CAN DO.  I finally found the happiness, contentment and peace I had been looking for. It was my unfulfilled passionate desire to do something to alleviate the sufferings of the poor people that I love. I used to be one of them.  but I didn’t know how and  where to start.  It didn’t dawn to me until I talked to this elementary school boy with those big brown sad eyes. It reminded me of the time when I was his age, hungry and poor. It’s when I saw the old man limping along the road. The young man with a sack of gravel (graba).  I embarked on a mission to help the poor and never expected in my wildest dream that the respond was a tremendous success.

So, what is it? It’s been there for many years and had been serving the poor people for a long time. Maybe it already served some of you but you don’t know who is behind the scene for I don’t seek glory or praise. I am just happy and contented doing it and thankful to God for  guiding me find my niche and  giving me the courage and wisdom to do my mission in my small humble way. 

  I dedicate this article to my late father who taught me the power of pray, love, compassion, humility, hard work and never give up. 

                                                                                          Dora the Mouse

Poignant Memories of the Distant Past

Our Land Of Paradise

By: Tiger Of Serengeti

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Once upon a time, many decades ago, there were these beautiful islands sitting in the middle of the vast blue ocean on the other side of the world undisturbed of its beauty. It was like a paradise. It was indeed beautiful with its lush green forest, rivers and springs flowing with fresh cool crystal clear water from the mountains, wild birds with all sorts of colors fly freely, the thundering sweet calls of the Kalaw birds, abundance of colorful fish in the Coral Sea, the tamaraw and other native animals roam the virgin forest undisturbed by humans. The native people that lived in these islands took care of this country like a delicate maiden protected and unspoiled. They built the rice terraces, not only to plant rice, an engineering marvel, but to protect and enhance the natural beauty of the landscape. They harvested trees to build their homes, but were also careful not to spoil the habitat of the native animals that lives around them. They were very aware that ecological balance has to be maintained and considered to preserve the environment they live in.  These people were uncorrupted by greediness. They live in harmony with nature. The Aetas, the Ifugaos, the Igorots, and other native tribes lived in this beautiful land long before this country was called the Philippines. The native people had taken care of this land with the best of their ability as dictated by their beliefs and conscience. Their peaceful co-existence with other tribes  were  shattered forever by  the arrival of the Europeans, Chinese, Dutch, Indians, Malaysians, Japanese, Americans, etc. and out  of these groups of foreigners, came the modern Filipino of today. I can not call the Aetas, The Ifugaos, the Igorots and other native tribes “Filipinos” because they were already here long before the country was named Philippines in honor of King Philip 11 of Spain. I will call them the natives of the “Pearl of the Orient Sea ” and I am proud of them. These people maintained their identity and never waivered to foreign pressures to change their customs, traditions and beliefs. The native tribes were driven to the mountains by the onslaught of foreign conquest. The once virgin forest where the tamaraws freely roam was inundated of  its timbers by greedy Spanish conquestadores in connivance with Filipino politicians whose main concerns was to enrich themselves regardless of the consequences it will create. ( I happened to come across an old atlas book.  Philippine was listed as the 4th largest exporter of lumber in the world as of 1944. ) Where are the Tamaraws now? They only exist now in drawings and in pictures. What happened with our beautiful Kalaw birds and other native birds that live in the once virgin forest? Sadly, those beautiful birds were on the verge of extinction. Their natural habitats were destroyed by callous disregard of our environment by our corrupt leaders. Our leaders of the government allowed the greedy businessmen to harvest our timbers for money.  Now our mountains were denuded of lush green timbers. The head of our government did not even give a thought of replanting trees to replace what was harvested. There was nobody there to speak up and voice their concern about unabated destruction of our environment. I am sure the great majority of the masses saw these destructions of the environment around them but too timid or afraid to voice their revulsions or could it be apathy?  The denuded mountains are now growing cogon. Massive landslides destroyed homes and unprecedented death and destructions as a result of indiscriminate deforestations of our mountains.  The natural topography of our plains, hills and mountains were artificially redirected and re-routed to fit our modern needs. As a result of this interference with nature’s natural curvature of our landscapes, massive flooding occurs and no one can stop the fury of nature. Our rivers were once flowing with crystal clear water, is now murky, muddy, smelly, stagnant because of piles of garbage.  It became the raw sewage disposal place, mosquito infested, polluted and indeed a very, very sad river (see the river just below R.G de Castro College) Our rice fields was once fertile and a haven for native Hito (black catfish) and dalag that borrows itself in the mud during dry season and comes out from hibernation during rainy season fills our rice paddies. My mother told me how joyful it was to see them jumping, squiggling in the mud during rice planting season. How nature preserve these wonderful fish for us to appreciate. But all of these things are slowly disappearing with the introductions of chemical fertilizers, imported snails not even edible for human consumption, and imported Taiwanese catfish that devoured our native catfish. This is indeed very sad because this catfish (Hito) existed long before the modern human were here.  Our ocean became our garbage dump. Beautiful corals that once thrive in our shores are now slowly dying from pollution and careless scrapping of the corals by illegal fishermen from Taiwan with their big trawlers. We used to have abundance of tropical fish for our consumption and for the future generations to come, but with the insensitive disregard of our country’s rules and regulations for fishing by foreign fishermen, our corals are slowly being  destroyed and so the natural habitat of our endangered marine species. Our beaches that once were clear and the pride of our ancestors are now full of debris and broken glasses scattered around. You have to be very careful where to walk. You might step on human waste or dog’s droppings. We used to have mild weather; natural plants like abaca, rattan, coconut grow very well with the kind of weather we used to have. But when people   relentlessly harvested the trees for lumber and for other purposes without replacing it, our weather changed. It is no longer the kind of weather conducive to growth of our native plants. Our weather is hotter, dryer, less rain. These are all the catastrophic results of callously disregarding the ecological balance and environmental protection of our God given paradise land. I can’t help but reflects the POIGNANT MEMORIES OF THE DISTANT PAST of this land we call home. It was a home where we can breathe fresh air, drink crystal clear water from the rivers, the soft rustling sound of the streams, the croaking of the frogs like a concerto in C minor come rainy days, the singing of the birds in the early morning sun as if rejoicing the new day, the sweet smell of the grass after the rain, the smiling people coming home from harvesting rice, proud for collecting sacks of rice for his day’s work. It was a simple life and happy. What did we do to our land? Why did we not protect our natural resources? It was GREED, GREED, and GREED by our leaders and politicians. These politicians and leaders don’t care what happen with us and our environment. We can make a big difference by starting to be aware of our surroundings NOW. Start planting trees even one tree per family a month by the end of the year, we already had planted a thousand trees; don’t throw your garbage in the ocean, beaches or the rivers. Bury the biodegradable and recycle the reusable. Don’t use our rivers as your raw sewage disposal. It creates diseases and mosquitoes will thrive in it. Look at what happened with our very own river in Bulan. It is now a dying river and it makes me very, very sad. Plant assorted vegetables in your backyard.  Fresh vegetables are healthier than junk food. TEACH the youth to TAKE CHARGE OF THEIR OWN DESTINY; don’t expect other people to do it for you. Don’t be DEPENDENT. It is a crippling disease and takes away your dignity as a person. Teach the present and future generations to care for the animals, birds and other living species.  They are very precious to me. They have the right to live in this world too and they are part of our eco-system.  Teach them to express their thoughts and feelings in a positive way and to be open minded to positive criticism. Take pride in your work. When you work, give your 100% effort. You will feel better when you are honest with yourself.  At the end of the day, you can honestly say that you earned every centavo you made that day. It is a good feeling. For once in your life, you were honest and didn’t cheat.   IT IS YOUR LIFE AND FUTURE. Take away that ugly Filipino character of ( ma-isip, ma-o-ri, orihon, tamad, the bahala na attitude, do it tomorrow attitude, ENVY , DEPENDENCY to others will cripple your ability to survive out there in the real world. Shape your own future by working on it, not depending on others to shape it for you.  Be HONEST, take responsibility of your own mistake by accepting it, correct it, and apologize. Don’t indulge in FALSE PRIDE, it will just ruin you.  ARROGANCE is just an egotistical desire for power and dominance. We can not afford it. We are too poor for that kind of attitude and will bring you nowhere but down. GOSSIPING about other people to elevate oneself plagued the minds of the people for a long time. This kind of thinking is very destructive and it hinders progress. Let us CHANGE some of those ugly characters of the Filipino that is PULLING US DOWN TO CONSTANT POVERTY.  Keep the good traits, trash the ugly ones. We have to teach present and future generations to change this kind of mentality. We have to erase it. We have to start NOW or our country will be devoured by foreigners whose intentions are to take advantage of the plight of the poor people. They already started by building their shipyard in Zambales without regards to the destruction of our forest and natural habitat of our endangered birds and animal species. The Koreans, the Chinese, the Hindus, the Japanese, the Taiwanese, pretty soon, it will be the Vietnamese are coming in droves. They are looking, prodding, calculating, conniving with our leaders, planning, exploring, the possibility of taking over the Philippine’s natural resources, gold mining, oil explorations in the Spratly Islands, the destructions  of our sea shores from  mining of margaha right in front of our very own eyes  but people seem to be indifferent.  Is this what happened many, many years ago when our environment was being destroyed by greedy politicians and nobody was there to voice their concern?  It is sad to say that HISTORY SEEMS TO BE REPEATING ITSELF because of the total indifference of the people. I did not see anybody carrying placards saying “STOP THE DESTRUCTION OF OUR ENVIRONMENT”! About the government projects involving millions of dollars, these countries claimed that they donated millions of dollars on the pretext of helping the Philippines build the roads and other proposed projects to benefit the people. The monies they gave are not to build government projects. It goes to the pockets of our leaders as largesse.  Our leaders are selling our country to the foreigners and were given a free reign to do anything they want in this country. The Korean company Hanjin knows exactly what they were doing. They will not invest billions of dollars in those massive projects and walk away. There will be exposures of bribery, corruptions, overpricing of materials, cooking the book, so they say. No matter how our people complained about the destruction of our forest, our leaders will give in to the Hanjin Company’s demand. They are arrogant and don’t respect our Filipino leaders because they know that our leaders are corrupt and can be bought and were already bought. Few years from now, we will be again the slave of foreign domination. This time we are losing our country to foreign domination by way of subtle economic exploitations.  Our ancestors sacrificed thousands of lives defending our country (We lost 2 uncles, grandfather from World War 11.) but we won the war. This time, it is a different war. A war dominated by economic exploitations of our natural resources by the foreigners in conjunction with our elected leaders of our government.  Our very own government is selling off our country to the highest bidder for their own benefits. It is dastardly sickening to see what is happening to our once paradise land. But we can save our country from foreign domination by working   together as a team. We have to be assertive and take control of the situation. Don’t let the situations control us. It will be a long haul but we can do it.      

 

Email: tigerofserengeti@gmail.com

             

A CALL FOR MORAL REVOLUTION?

Or, A Change Must Come From Within!

by: atty. benji

“Watch your thoughts, they become words;
Watch your words, they become actions;
Watch your actions, they become habits;
Watch your habits, they become character;
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
-Anonymous-

Ours is a nation (or a town, province) gravely afflicted with interlocking diseases of poverty, passivity, cheating, graft and corruption, exploitative patronage, nepotism, factionalism, political instability, love for intrigue, lack of discipline, lack of patriotism, greed for power and the desire for instant gratification, etc. A cancerous growth is affecting the vital organs of our society to the extent that we seem to be in a state of paralysis; the patient is not responding to the problems confronting it. The times call for analysis of the social cancer.

And, we are both the doctor and patient. As Jesus Christ said in quoting the proverb: “Physician, heal thyself”.

Many years back, then former Senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani, in her sponsorship speech calling for Moral Recovery Program (MRP), has emphasized that “the sickness afflicting this country is moral in nature.” It is her view that at the bottom of our economic problems and political instability is the weakness and corruption of the moral foundations of our society. We don’t need an economic recovery program; we also urgently need a moral, intellectual and spiritual recovery program.

Senator Shahani continued that “aside from the widespread problem of corruption, there is violence, hatred, hostility, greed for power, divisiveness which has become part of the everyday atmosphere which we breathe. We have to cleanse our national body, to rid it of its poisons and toxins, if the country is to survive. This times demand self-examination. Let us remember the words of the Greek philosopher, Socrates when he said: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Let us translate this wise saying to the national level and examine our own character as a people to ensure that we are growing in the proper direction, with proper values and proper priorities.”

Why concentrate on the weakness of the people, it might be asked? and you might be asked too?

-Because, as in every sick person, we must analyze his disease or diseases. There is a need to examine how society shapes our character, of how Filipino children are brought up. If the children and youth age 12 to 16 years old are already encouraged by their parents to practice child prostitution to add to the family income, can we expect these children to be upright and law abiding citizens? If the child sees so much physical violence and brutality at home and in society, is it normal to expect that he will long to handle guns and keep company with goons at a later age, not only during the period of elections but on a daily basis?

Is the economic situation so desperate that thousands of our women refuse to learn other skills other than selling their bodies several times over every night? Why do we always disobey traffic rules and regulations? Why has cheating become a normal way of life in the Philippines particularly during the elections?

Several years ago, the Philippine was considered one of the most promising counties in Asia. Today, the Philippines is still called the “Sick Man of Asia”. What has gone wrong? Can’t we put our own house in order? Why is there such a big demand for pornography and smut?

It is also important to realize the extent of this sickness and to be aware that in order to eliminate graft and corruption, society as a whole must change and we must change too. This means not only the government but the private sector and the entire people as well.

Do we have the political will to change ourselves, undergo a major surgery, make the necessary sacrifices and go back to the basic virtues of honesty, self-reliance and responsibility for the community and the nation, and in our town, too. Can our educators realize that it is not enough to change the child and the homes but also the whole of society?

“Let us minimize our weakness and strengthen our virtues, of which we have many. Let us look inward and cleanse and heal ourselves before it is too late. We cannot expect to implement our national vision unless we have a clean hands and pure hearts”, said President Fidel V. Ramos in his Proclamation No. 62 .

After the sponsorship speech of then Senator Shahani on the Urgent Need for Moral Recovery Program (MRP) and the Senate Resolution No. 10 adopted on September 18, 1987, which directed Senate Committee on Education, Arts & Culture, & the Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Development to conduct joint inquiry into the strengths and weaknesses of Filipino character with a view to solve the social ills and strengthening the nation’s moral fiber.

-Reinforced by Presidential Proclamation No. 62, issued by then, President FVR on 1992 declaring a Moral Recovery Program of the government & calling for the active participation of all sectors of the society in the MRP.

After that mukhang walang nabago sa ating mga Pilipino, ganun parin tayo!

Sa kabila ng itinatag na Moral Recovery Program ng ating gobierno upang itaguyod ang mithiing maka-BAYAN, maka-TAO, maka-KALIKASAN at maka-DIYOS, ay laganap parin ang kurapsyon at kawatan sa lahat ng sangay ng pamahalaan, dayaan sa eleksyon, gahaman sa poder, palakasan o padrino system, laganap ang prostitution, talamak ang bintahan at paggamit ng bawal na gamot o droga sangkot ang kapulisan at tagapagpatupad ng batas, kawalan ng paggalang sa magulang at nakakatanda, tahasang paglabag sa batas trapiko, walang disiplina sa sarili, kulang sa pagmamahal sa bayan, kanya-kanya o walang paki-alam syndrome, crab mentality at iba pa.

In short, bagsak ang “moral character” o “moral values” nating mga Pilipino.

Thus, there is a need for self examination as a means to transform the nation, as advocated by Senator Shahani.

There is an urgent need for moral revolution to eradicate moral decadence in our community, and government, (or in the municipal government of bulan). Mabuhay ang maka-tao, maka-bayan, maka-kalikasan at maka-diyos na Pilipino.

It is the moral character which determines the destiny of an individual as well as that of the nation (town, or province). For an individual and nation to survive with dignity and prosperity that character has to be based on moral and ethical values.

Our greatest hope lies within ourselves! Sabi nga ni dating Presidente Marcos, “Sa Ikauunlad ng Bayan, Disiplina ang Kailangan”.

Tayo ba ay may disiplina sa sarili? tayo ba ay masunurrin sa ating batas? tayo ba ay masunurin sa ating mga magulang? at may pagpapahalaga sa ating kalikasan at sa bayan?

HONOR THY FATHER & THY MOTHER!

Or, Belated Happy Mother’s Day.

by : attybenji

Honor thy Father and thy Mother – is the best and everlasting presents that child can give to the his/her parents, specially the mother (free of charge), when we all celebrated the MOTHER’s DAY a week ago – though the message is a little bit late, but it does’nt matter, as the saying goes “better late than never”.

This fifth commandment (in the Old Testament) is a command rather than a request. No “ifs” no “buts”. That regardless of their character, (whether they’re wicked, irresponsible, etc.) children are bound to honor and respect their parents. No condition! That’s an order…

Hereunder are the lyrics of “Nanay ko Tatay Ko”, a popular bicol song has a sentimental message to the “ANAK” – to shower her “TATAY y NANAY” with love, care and respect without condition, because of his “Dakulang Utang na Boot sa Magurang”.

“Si Nanay si Tatay”

Si Nanay si Tatay di co babayaan.
Balaquid na boot an sacuyang utang
Si pagdara saco nin siyam na bulan
Gatas cong dinodo di co mabayadan.

Ay Nanay ay Tatay con ako humale,
Hihidawon mo man sa gabos mong aki
Macacoa ca man nin macacasangli
Dai macaarog kan sacong ugali

Ay Nanay ay Tatay kun ako maraot
Pogotan nin payo ibontog sa lawod
Con mahiling nindo na naganod-anod
Ay Nanay ay Tatay sapuda man tolos.

But today, the realities of life differ from the actual message of the above song under the following incidents, please consider the day to day headlines news as published in the newspaper tabloid, FRONTPAGE headlines: such as, Ama pinatay ng sariling Anak: Drug Adik na Anak, kumitil ng sariling Ama: Anak minasaker ang kanyang Nanay at Tatay: Anak na pasaway, binaril ang sariling Nanay: Anak naghuramentado, pinagpapatay ang sariling pamilya: Anak na ayaw padisiplina, tinaga ang sariling Ama; etc…

The reason is simple – kawalan ng disiplina sa sarili at paggalang sa magulang, at sa batas.

What many seemingly have never learned or forgotten is that duty to parents does not end with childhood days at home and under parental supervision.

A very famous song entitled “ANAK” popularized by Freddie Aguilar has another message – is about the child who disobeyed his parents despite love and care given by his parents, but in the end, “Ang Anak ay Nagbago at Nagsisi”.

“ANAK”
by: freddie aguilar

Nang isilang ka sa mundong ito,
Laking tuwa ng magulang mo.
At ang kamay nila
Ang iyong ilaw.

At ang nanay at tatay mo,
‘di malaman ang gagawin.
Minamasdan pati pagtulog mo.
Sa gabi napupuyat ang iyong nanay
Sa pagtimpla ng gatas mo.

At sa umaga nama’y kalong
Ka ng iyong amang tuwang-tuwa sa iyo.
Ngayon nga’y malaki ka na,
Nais mo’y maging malaya.
‘di man sila payag,
Walang magagawa.

Ikaw nga’y biglang nagbago,
Naging matigas ang iyong ulo.
At ang payo nila’y,
Sinuway mo.

Hindi mo man lang inisip
Na ang kanilang ginagawa’y para sa iyo.
Pagka’t ang nais mo masunod ang layaw mo,
‘di mo sila pinapansin.

Nagdaan pa ang mga araw
At ang landas mo’y naligaw
Ikaw ay nalulon
Sa masamang bisyo.

At ang una mong nilapitan
Ang iyong inang lumuluha.
At ang tanong,
“anak, ba’t ka nagkaganyan?”
At ang iyong mga mata’y biglang lumuha
Ng ‘di mo napapansin
Pagsisisi ang sa isip mo,
Nalaman mong ika’y nagkamali.

What is the true way to honor parents? To live a godly and decent life before all men! The greatest honor a child can bestow upon his parents is to live a consecrated and faithful Christian life.

True honor begins with genuine love for parents. It is manifested even in “little things,” like keeping in contact with them, showing interest in their lives, as well as doing those things for them that need to be done. Letters, calls, gifts, remembrances, words, visits, honor of their views and respect for their advice are such things that parents may lawfully claim and expect from their children.

Charity is not the only thing that begins at home, but also thoughtfulness, truthfulness, honesty, uprightness, good citizenship and respect for authority all begin in the home. Lawlessness often begins in the home because there one can learn to disrespect authority as well as learn to respect it. If the world is ever going to be a better place there first must be better homes.

The welfare of society rests in the family and the reconstruction of family virtues and values, parental authority and responsibility, and the obedience of children to their parents.

The fifth commandment, learned, believed and obeyed is one of the surest safeguards, and is a near guarantee for correct and righteous human behavior. It gives the blueprint for the reign of law and order. It makes possible a life of peace, security and happiness. It will provide, especially for the young, a solid foundation upon which life can be built and lived as God would have it. When children obey their parents they learn to obey those in charge of schools, government officials, employers, and all others with whom they will have to deal in life. While children obey parents they are doing more than learning the right ways and obeying parents.

Christ set the example for honoring parents. His first miracle was undertaken at the request of His mother. As He died on the cross He remarked, “Woman behold thy son,” and to another (probably John) He said, “Behold thy mother.” In this fashion, even as His life was going from Him, He showed care and concern for His mother and instigated the means for her continued provisions in this life.

The obligation children have to parents is not a one-way street. Parents have obligations to their children. There is no law of God that says children must obey their parents in doing that which is wicked. Many parents are not respected because they are not respectable. To be honored one must strive to be honorable. Parents must in some measure earn and deserve respect as well as demand it. Parents earn it and children learn it. It is futile to expect children to respect parental authority when the same parents do not have respect for divine authority.

Belated HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to all the mothers out there! Kayo po ang ILAW NG TAHANAN. Mabuhay!