Saturday, August 31, 2013

Dreams and Realities

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As I stare at the whole of myself in the wall mirror, I can't help but wonder if I am really the one who I used to dream before. I know that life is never perfect and I must accept the reality that while I aced some of my dreams carefully, there are those that largely slipped out of my hands.

As I look eye to eye with reality, I view a sea of dreams long chased, consciously dismissed, never actualized, and surely gone. I sigh at the reality that I grow weary from reaching my dreams without making steps of achieving them but falling in slumber in the process instead.

Should I just give up my dreams this easy, succumb to simplistic ways and hook with them up later?

But I realize that I still love to dream for had I got tired of slaying more dreams I must have been far from the manifestation of my potentials. I am still the one who I used to dream and I must not bid to tarry. I need to open my eyes wide to the reality and wrestle with the challenges that awaits outside.

As a saying printed on the tarnished cover of notebook: Hold fast to dreams for if dreams go, life is a barren field frozen with snow. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Ang Ilog ng Topland

Noong unang panahon sa Barangay Topland, may isang dalaga na nagngangnalang Taflan. Siya ay ubod ng kariktan at kayumihan. Bagama’t wala na siyang mga magulang, tanyag sa lahat ng mga tao sa barangay ang kanyang pagkahilig sa kanyang alagang ibon na tuhaw na tangi niyang kasama sa buhay.

Isang araw, isang makisig at matipunong mangangaso na si Unggu ang nagpahayag ng pag-ibig kay Taflan. Hinandugan siya nito ng isang salakot ng ginto bilang alay at pinagsilbihan siya nito ng buong tapat. Hindi naglaon ay nahulog na rin ang loob ni Taflan kay Unggu. Naging usap-usapan sa buong barangay ang kasiyahang nadama ni Taflan nang alukin siya ni Unggu na makipag-isang dibdib.

Isang kabilugan ng buwan bago ang nakatakdang kasal nina Taflan at Unggu, isang pangyayari ang gumulat sa mga tao dahil nasawi si Unggu. Nakagat siya ng kagwason, isang malaki at makamandag na ahas na nakatira sa  talon kung saan siya napadaan mula sa pangangaso sa kagubatan. Lubos ang hinanagpis na nadama ni Taflan sa kanyang puso at tila walang kapaguran siyang tumakbo ng tumakbo patungo sa malayong kabundukan.

Lumipas ang mga araw, hindi bumalik si Taflan. Nalungkot ang mga tao ng barangay kaya nagpasiya silang hanapin si Taflan sa kabundukan. Habang nasa gitna ng masukal na kagubatan, nakadama ang mga tao ng haplos ng hanging malamig dulot ng bagwis ng pakpak ng ibong tuhaw. Paikot-ikot itong lumilipad sa kagubatan na tila ba nagbabantay. Ginalugad nila ang buong kagubatan subalit umuwi sila nang hindi nakita si Taflan.

Kinabukasan ng umaga, ikinagulat ng mga tao na may dumdaloy na sapa sa gitna ng barangay mula sa kabundukan. Hinahati nito ang barangay sa dalawa. Nagsimulang magtayo ang mga tao ng tulay upang makatawid mula sa magkabilang panig. Isang malaking palaisipan sa kanila kung paano nagkaroon ng tubig sapagkat hindi naman panahon ng tag-ulan.

Isang malamig na gabi, narinig ng mga tao ang huni ng ibong tuhaw na tila ba nagdadalamhati at umiiyak. “Tuhaw… tuhaw… tuhaw…”.  Pabalik-balik ang huni ng ibong tuhaw na tila ba nanggigising sa mga tao mula sa mahimbing nilang pagkakatulog.

Naging balita na lamang ng sumunod na umaga nang isang mama ang binawian ng buhay mula sa kaliwang bahagi ng barangay sanhi ng aksidente. Lumipas ang isang linggo ay namatay naman ang isa pang bata galing sa kanang bahagi ng barangay dahil sa karamdaman. Hindi pa naililibing ay sinundan na naman ito ng bagong kamatayan ng isa pang binata buhat sa kaliwang bahagi ng barangay dahil sa krimen. Nagapasalit-salit ang kamatayan mula sa dalawang bahagi ng barangay na hinahati ng ilog na tila ba isang sumpa na walang pinipiling buhay at dahilan.

Hindi lubos mawari ng mga tao kung bakit sunod-sunod ang kamatayan na dinaranas nila mula nang umagos ang ilog sa gitna ng kanilang lugar. Habang nagdadalamhati ang buong barangay, isang magkasintahan ang magalak na nagpakasal. Ang kalungkutan ng mga tao ay naibsan simula nang may ikinasal sapagkat kasabay ng pag-iisang dibdib ng isang magkasintahan ay parang tumigil din ang sunod-sunod na kamatayan sa kanilang pook.

Natanto ng mga tao na ang ilog ay ang mga luha ni Taflan mula sa kabundukan kung saan siya patuloy na tumatangis. Dala ng pag-agos nito ay ang pagdadalamhati ng lugar dulot ng sunod-sunod na pagkamatay ng mga tao. Kasal ang naging kasagutan upang maputol ang tila sumpa ng kamatayan na taglay ng ilog. Naalala ng mga tao bago nawala si Taflan na pinakaasam-asam nito ang makasal sa kanyang nag-iisang iniibig sa puso.

Hanggang sa kasalukuyan, isang malaking misteryo sa mga tao ang Ilog ng Topland na humahati sa gitna ng barangay at takot ang mga tao kapag naririnig na naman nila ang paghuni ng ibong tuhaw sapagkat dala nito ang sumpa ng sunod-sunod at salit-salit na kamatayan na napuputol lamang kapag may kinakasal.


*A workshop output. View related story here.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Whatever Happened To Amelia Earhart?

Recently we were randomly humming and singing. One of the things that intrigued our curiosity was the line from the song Someday We'll Know by Mandy Moore. It was the hit song during our high school days but it really never piqued nosy minds that time until this day.

The line of sudden interest says "Whatever happened to Amelia Earhart who holds the stars up in the sky?" I am sure that the song composer used name of a legendary person as a literary device in order to convey something but leave to the listeners to make actual connection.

So, the question is: Who is Amelia Earhart by the way? I consulted the and I want to quote some parts verbatim of what I interestingly learned:

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AMELIA EARHART was an American aviator, author and women’s rights activist. She was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. Her disappearance in 1937 during an attempt to fly around the world is a mystery that continues to intrigue people worldwide.
Amelia Mary Earhart was born in Atchison, Kansas, on July 24, 1897. During Christmas vacation in 1917, she went to visit her sister in Toronto. One day, at an aviation exposition, a pilot flew his plane near her. Later, she said, “I believe that little red airplane said something to me as it swished by."

In December 1920, Earhart attended an air show in Long Beach, California. She took a short plane ride, and that ten minute flight changed her life. “By the time I had got two or three hundred feet off the ground, I knew I had to fly,” she said.

Just six months after she began flying lessons, she purchased her first plane, a bright yellow, second-hand biplane that she named The Canary. She soon achieved the world altitude record for women pilots.

Earhart’s last flight

Nearing her 40th birthday, Earhart said, “I have a feeling that there is just about one more good flight left in my system…” She hoped that it would be a flight around the world. She wanted to be the first woman to do it.

On June 1, 1937, Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, departed from Miami with great fanfare. They began the journey heading east. After twenty nine days of flight, they touched down in Lae, New Guinea. The remaining miles would be done over the Pacific.

The plan required landing on Howland Island, located between Hawaii and Australia. At only one and half miles long and half a mile wide, Howland Island was a difficult spot for landing. Special navigation precautions were taken, including establishing radio communication with US Coast Guard Ship Itasca off Howland Island.

At 10 a.m., Earhart and Noonan took off from Lae. They encountered problems with overcast skies and rain showers early on. Some witnesses reported that the radio antenna may have been damaged, and other experts suggest that their maps may have been inaccurate.

As they neared Howland Island, they were unable to make sufficient connection with the Itasca or to land on the island. Earhart’s last communication was at 8:43 a.m.: “We are running north and south.”

Though the Itasca began a rescue attempt immediately and the search continued for weeks, nothing was found. On January 5, 1939, Earhart was declared legally dead.

Theories about disappearance

For a long time, the most likely explanation was that the plane ran out of fuel and the flyers ditched or crashed and then died at sea. More recently, another theory has gained some traction. It holds that the flyers landed on uninhabited Nikumaroro Island, formerly called Gardner Island.

According to the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, Earhart and Noonan survived on the island for several weeks. They caught fish, seabirds and turtles and collected rainwater. Earhart died at a campsite on the island's southeast end. Noonan's fate is unknown.

This theory is based on on-site investigations that have revealed improvised tools, bits of clothing, plexiglass and an aluminum panel. In May 2012, investigators found a jar of freckle cream that some believe could have belonged to Earhart. Additionally, reports of lost distress calls have been reported.

Also, in 1940, a British Colonial Service officer found a partial skeleton on the island, as well as a campfire, animal bones, a sextant box and remnants of a man's shoe and a woman's shoe. The officer thought he may have discovered Earhart's remains, but a doctor believed the skeleton to be male, and American authorities were not notified. The bones were later lost. Recent computerized analysis of the skeleton's measurements suggests that the skeleton was probably that of a white, northern European female.

So, everytime we sing her name, we might as well wonder: Whatever happened to Amelia Earhart who holds the sky up in the sky? I can only conjecture that only heaven really knows and maybe we'll never know at all.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Meet Dr. Ariston, My New Friend

I don't know if she considers me her friend knowing that we barely know each other, but honestly I like the thought that I do consider her.

Despite the drizzle, I trip to General Santos City today for a plant shop at Oval Plaza. I am out for a cactus hunt and gladly find this stall at the end of the display owned by a woman who I suppose must be in her mid sixty. I instantly like her because she is easy to bargain with. Gardeners like that are really hard to find.

After paying, I left to her the plants that I bought, so that I can tour further around. I come across one of another gardener and ask if he will ever display cactus some other time, but he refers me to a certain Dr. Ariston in a stall at the end of the display.

When I come back to the same woman from whom I bought and left my plants awhile, I ask her if she is Dr. Ariston with whom the gardener at the other end tells. She smiles and nods. She taps my head and expresses a comment of concern after finding out that my bandana is already wet. 

We have a nice conversation afterwards. She says she is an optometrist, but does not practice her profession where "there is no much challenge" as she reasons out. Relating to my own profession, she also commented about the trend of teachers rolling to public schools to gather moss, pun intended.

She explains she came to the world of gardening thirty years ago by way of hobby of her son, who is engrossed with cactus. Many of her first rare cactuses have traveled land and sea. Over time, her cactus collection must have sprouted, clustered, withered, and sprouted again for many cycles now.

I tell her that I think I might as well pay her a visit some time. She says she seldom entertains people but she sketches the location of her domicile and states only a few like yours truly can visit her. Anyway, I still don't know her first name until now and I had no intention asking then because she might think otherwise, knowing that we barely know each other.

With the kind Dr. Ariston today.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Sipat and Other Glimpses

SIPAT, from which the seminar was key worded, is a Filipino word that means "a glimpse into something".

Between the days of my shameful hiatus from this blog, I was tasked to attend a seminar glimpsing into our local culture and literature in relation to our teaching craft. At first, I was a little negative about going to the event because of the weekend hassle it would entail. But in the end, I realized that the experiences I gained from the said seminar exceeded my expectations. 

It went like a group of old friends getting so engrossed in an interesting conversation, not minding the time. It was the first time in ages that I attended a seminar that didn't feel like a seminar at all because the speakers were really entertaining and their presentations were just awesome. I felt fortunate to be a part of the group that is genuinely passionate about the development of our own literature.

The first topic was about the situation of children's literature in our country. One thing I've learned is the "pandesal" mentality when it comes to the production of literary pieces. If we are going to evaluate the story books for children in the shelves, we would notice the gross imitation of plots and styles currently trending in the literary market. Hence, we have the same old stories told and our literature is becoming so commercialized.

On the other side of things, it is still a surprise though to rediscover a few brilliant pieces of literary works that we just don't take pride or simply take for granted. Of these were the local films that has proved their worth in the international scene. We were treated to some previews but the funny thing though is I've never seen any of them in full. Talk about guilt and my movie civilian life.

Another topic was about the folk stories of the City of Koronadal. As reiterated by the speaker in the lecture, one would wonder how we can find a bulk of Greek literature, American literature, Egyptian literature, Indian literature, Japanese literature, but never the literature of our own country. We have the same old stories told and the foreign ones are headway compared to our own.

We realized that nobody dares and initiates to write about the rich heritage of our own city. The songs, poems, legends and myths of our countrysides remain as murky as the water of the river. The fairies, witches, vampires and spirits of our imaginations are still undocumented testaments of our unique culture. The large difference is the fact that nobody puts them into writing and permanently etch them in our material culture.

After each lecture, we had workshops on writing the folk stories of our respective stations and applying it as a spring board of our lesson planning. The hours of brainstorming was worth the squeeze because we were able to produce a legendary tale that we can call original and authentic. I believe that nobody could write the first hand story of our community better than we the people of our community.

Writing the story of our station. Photo credit: Honey Lyn Pama.

We are a country of gregarious people who love to listen and tell stories, but these stories have remained traditionally in our mouths. The challenge now is how to preserve these stories in written form to be passed on the next generation. This kind of passion should be instilled in our hearts.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

South Cotabato Natural Threats

I will allow these photographs to speak of the worst natural threats I have ever seen today. It's the ugly face of nature when not properly taken care.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Mexican Under Our Tongue

Having weird penchant for origins of what most of us think are Spanish or Filipino words, I want to talk about the words bequeathed by the Mexican language to the Filipino language. Every time I hear them anywhere, even in the most ordinary situations, I am constantly amazed at how these words have survived space and time.

Allow me to spin the yarn through the eyes of a typical person living in the rural community and wondering at the whole of universe how the past two centuries of galleon trade between the Mexican people and Filipino people became a colorful cultural exchange between the Mexican language and Filipino language. 

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A typical life in the barrio wakes in the morning that smells like a cold blend of wood smoke from POSPORO and scents of different plants, perhaps of the sweet CALACHUCHI by the neighborhood or of the blooming MAIS by the stone's throw farm.

In the farm, you would spot different fruit trees. But AVOCADO and CACAO are perhaps the most favorite more than the CHICO and CAIMITO among the adventurous children. And don't mistaken an ACHUETE for a fruit to eat. And PAPAYA is almost in every nook and cranny.

Almost all children in the barrio call their parents TATAY and NANAY. It is still a fashion to call your peers in TOCAYO or pet name. If you pride yourself over these old fashion way of name calling, you might as well be ridiculed CHONGO.

PALENQUE is a few steps away but there are TIANGUI in almost every corner. Don't haul out money from your PITAKA for a CHOCOLATE, which can be a lavish diet in the barrio; only a big round bread called ENSAYMADA delievered on early hours in the morning.

In every humble backyards, among ZACATE that are greenest during the rainy days, CALABAZA and CAMOTE race to creep. There are also several BAYABAS tree on which vegetable vines like the CHAYOTE climb as high as it can. When season comes, the sweet CAMACHILE is synonymous to the happy childhood life in the barrio.

Having still remember all these, I can't stop but be amazed. Do few people, like me, have weird penchant about Mexican words under our tongue?

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Second Quarter Of My Life In 30 Words

The second quarter of my life will be the smoke of the old wood that always goes upward, up to the frozen stars in the middle of pitch black darkness.

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Friday, August 9, 2013

Pag May Time

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Search search din PAG MAY TIME.

Perhaps the most popular expression going around the local social media today is the pattern the same as the one above. "Pag may time" literally means when one has time or chance. This line is tucked after a repeated verb and the adverb "din" that means also. 

On the other note, one basic feature of the Filipino language is the repetition of words for emphasis. For example, in this case of the expression, the verb is repeated to emphasize the activity. Hence, we can say "sulat sulat", "kain kain", "tulog tulog", "lakad lakad", "labas labas", "usap usap" and among others.

The whole expression is usually said in the context of those people who lack something. A malnourished child is advised "Kain kain din pag may time" or "Eat too when you have time." A yawning person is also jokingly told "Tulog tulog din pag may time" or "Sleep too when you have time."

The line is also expressed by busy persons. For instance, when they chance upon a free time, they would usually comment "Rest rest din pag may time" or "Rest too when I have time." Or if they are on a break day, they would post an online status like "Online online din pag may time" or "Online too when I have time."

Aside from the verbs, other descriptive phrases can also be used. Here are some examples I found around:

"Kinig kinig din pag may time" -by student listening to his teacher
"Yung abot baba na eyebags. Tulog tulog din pag may time." -by a sleepless person
"Gamit-gamit din ng utak pag may time." -by a fooled girl
"Ang sarap kainin ng pride pag may time." -by one who wants to swallow pride
"I wish life has delete buttons. Bitter din pag may time." -by a bitter person
"Pa-follow din pag may time." -by a writer campaigning for blog membership
"Bonding bonding din pag may time." -by a busy group of friends
"Isip isip din ng ma-ipost pag may time." -by a person thinking of what to post
"Throwback thursday din pag may time." -by someone captioning an old photograph
"Vegetables din pag may time." -by a teen eating vegetable once a while
"Group hug group hug din pag may time." -by members of a local band
"Lingon lingon din pag may time." -by a taken man turning his head to a pretty woman

The origin of the said expression though is unclear but surely we are a bunch of creative people who love to play and twist words in our language to express our thoughts in a still positive way.

So, I say: Saliksik saliksik din sa ating pambansang wika pag may time. Explore our national language too when you have time.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

August Holidays

Looking for some good times this month? While semester break is still out of sight to plan for a grand vacation, I am excitedly marking these three coming legal holidays on my calendar! Hey, two long weekends and one more piece of cake!

August 09 - Friday - Feast of Ramadan
August 21 - Wednesday - Ninoy Aquino Day
August 26 - Monday - National Heroes Day

I am looking forward to visit an old friend in General Santos City and claim my yearbook pictures at the Graduate School and eat at the overdue Veranza Mall and stroll around the plaza for Tuna Festival. Oh my gosh, it has been ages since I haven't really enjoyed the other spheres of my life.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Stinky Fish And Others That Stink

I organize my thoughts in English. I love to read literary pieces in English. I prefer to write this blog in English.

As a puzzled person for having been raised in a diverse linguistic community, I have always believed that English is the superior language. This must be the most reason why, no matter how patriotic I am supposed to be as a Filipino citizen, I choose not to use the Filipino language in many instances.

For the most part, Filipino is not considered as the language of prestige in this country. It is not always the language spoken in the court rooms, medical fields, print labels. It is not also the language written in most of our legal documents. Our constitution, which is the very soul of our government system, is the big proof of this. 

Filipino is not considered as the language of the learned. Many of the affluent families in our social strata prefer to speak to their children in the considered international language. As such, we are raising a generation who are speaking of the foreign tongue and in the process marginalizing our own language in the street and market.

Filipino is also not the language of national consensus. While the declaration is in the law, there are still bitter traces of antagonism among our elder and purist brothers in the region. As such, not so many regional morphological items were successfully integrated in our national language to promote national unity and corporate ownership of it.

I remember back during my junior year in college, I studied on language attitudes for my thesis. Results showed that English is considered as superior language compared to our national language. As I also qualitatively observed through the years, English is also the language more preferred in many formal situations.

But, any language, including our very own Filipino language, is a language equal to any language in the world like English. It has its own phonology, morphology, grammar and syntax to suffice our various purposes to communicate. Would have it fallen short for our needs for us to largely fail in the daily affairs of our living, it should have been extinct and buried forever to oblivion.

Filipino language by "default" is still the spoken language in the most part of our life. Those who have marginalized Filipino by speaking the foreign tongues, by no means, still think and speak the soul of Filipino language whether they like it or not. As such, we have developed and even invented local meanings to foreign vocabularies like "salvage", "back to back", "blow out", "comfort room", "peg" and many others.

I appreciate the developing class of new parents in our social strata that communicates in Filipino to their children, making it their mother tongue. For example, the tenants of my flat who are both Cebuano but consider Filipino as the formal language. When I converse with our learned Muslim brothers, the lingua franca that connects our minds together is nothing less than the Filipino language.

So, unless we do not swallow our pride whole and lift our national language to the pedestal of intellectualism like what other nations did to their respective national languages, we will never stop degrading our own linguistic heritage as we have actually crushed our national identity consciously or unconsciously. 

I don't know how much spartan determination or unselfish time it would take for a change in our attitudes toward our own language, but these I hope to have in myself, too.

Filipinos, this is the time to realize how worse we smell than a stinky fish.

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Saturday, August 3, 2013

Una Poema EspaƱola Al Lengua Filipina

Our language has life. It has its own color, voice, and reason. While foreign experiences may have shaped the bulk of our vocabulary, we have brought new meaning and sound for every word that we borrowed. With ingenuity, our ancestors made our now Filipino Language a living testament of a rich cultural heritage. Below is an ode of the former language conqueror - also my first poem attempt on a third language.

Hermosa es su matiz
Como un arco de iris
Abajo del sol y lluvio
Uno mezclo glorioso.

Tu voz es flujo de rio
Con los hojas de tarro
Tan baile y jugando
Al ritmo del tiempo.

Creciste en la lengua 
De este conquistadora
La claridad que le dio
Pero razon lo compro.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Buwan ng Wikang Pambansa 2013

Together with the Department of Education, the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino takes the lead in the celebration of the Buwan ng Wikang Pambansa or the National Language Month this August 2013.

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The theme of the Buwan ng Wikang Pambansa 2013 is “Wika Natin ang Daang Matuwid.” It is celebrated from August 1 to 31. The main theme is divided into five themes, which will serve as a guide for all the activities that will be made this month:

    1. Ang Wika Natin ay Wika ng Katarungan at Kapayapaan
    2. Ang Wika Natin ay Laban sa Katiwalian
    3. Ang Wika Natin ay Sandata Laban sa Kahirapan
    4. Ang Wika Natin ay Wika ng Mabilisan, Inklusibo, at Sustenidong Kaunlaran
    5. Ang Wika Natin ay Wika sa Pangangalaga ng Kapaligiran

The usual activities done in school to promote cultural and civic awareness of the importance of the Filipino language are: paggawa ng islogan, pagbabalita, pagkanta ng kundiman, katutubong sayaw, patalastas, balagtasan, tagisan ng talino, and dagliang talumpati.

As my own way of celebrating our national language and to satisfy my penchant for words, I have reserved some related drafts for posting here.

Isang maligayang pagbati mula sa blog na ito!