Posts by Vics:

    Dr. Mildred Balbin Oliveros: Sa Pagtuklas ng Gamot at Humanitarianism

    July 15th, 2018

    MARAMI sa atin ang “nagsusunog ng kilay” para sa sariling layunin – ang kumita at ng sa gayon ay umigi ang kalagayan sa buhay.

    Pero, para naman kay Audrey Hepburn, isang British actress at humanitarian, ang sabi niya: “Habang tayo ay tumatanda, matutuklasan natin na ang isa sa ating dalawang kamay ay para tulungan ang ating sarili, at ang isa naman ay para tulungan ang ating kapwa.”

    Nakapanayam ko si Dr. Mildred Balbin Oliveros, isang pharmacist, may ilang buwan na ang nakararaan. Masasabi ko na isa siya sa mga gumagampan sa sinabi ni Hepburn, at ito’y ay kahit noong siya nasa kabataan pa.

    Ama

    Bakit nga ba naman hindi, gayong nakuha niya ang genes ng kanyang ama na si Dr. Gavin V. Balbin, isang dating gobernador ng lalawigan ng Abra at naging regional director din ng Department of Health? Kilala itong si Dr. Balbin sa pagiging matulungin sa kapwa noong siya ay nabubuhay pa.

    Nabanggit ni Dr. Oliveros na maawain ang kanyang ama sa mga mahihirap at hindi marunong humihingi ng kapalit. Ganoon pa man, sa pagtanaw ng utang na loob ng mga natulungan, kung ano-anong gulay, manok o prutas ang dinadala nila sa kanilang bahay.

    “Tuloy, nakilalang isang opisyal ng gobiyerno na may malaking puso ang aking ama,” medyo nahihiya pang sinabi ni Dr. Oliveros.

    Ina

    “Ang aking ina naman, si Dr. Lourdes B. Balbin, ay may botika noon. Madalas akong kasama niya sa tindahan namin ng gamot kaya siguro malaki ang naging inpluwensiya niya sa aking propesyon ngayon,” salaysay pa ng doktora.

    Edukasyon

    Mabilis matuto si Dr. Oliveros. Sa edad na 19, ay nakatapos siya ng Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy degree sa Universidad ng Pilipinas o UP..

    “Kaya nga lang, hindi ako nabigyan ng karapatang umakyat sa entablado para sa oath-taking, kasi hindi pa raw ako 21 anyos, and edad na required ng academe,” paliwanag niya.

    Pagkatapos maka-graduate, si Dr. Oliveros ay kumuha agad ng pharmacist licensure exam. Ang resulta? Namayagpag sa exam – siya ang naging topnotcher.

    Noong siya ay 21 anyos, nag-umpisa siyang magtrabaho at naging research assistant ni Dr. Magdalena Cantoria. Sa kanyang trabaho namangha si Dr. Oliveros sa galing na ibinibigay ng mga halaman para sa ating kabutihan.

    “Marami akong natutunan kay Dr. Cantoria sa pagre-research namin hinggil sa benepisyo ng mga halaman. Marami siyang itinuro sa akin na siyang naging aking gabay sa propesyon na ito,” sabi ni Dr. Oliveros bilang pagtanaw ng malaking utang na loob sa kanyang naging dating boss.

    May palagay ako na itong pagkahalina ni Dr. Oliveros sa kalikasan ay malamang na bunga rin ng kagandahan ng mga tanawin sa Abra na kinalakihan niya, at sa mga nakikita niyang mga tanim sa kapaligiran na nagbunsod sa kanya na saliksikin ang maibibigay nitong kabutihan para ating kalusugan.

    Sa sipag at tiyaga, nakamit naman niya ang kanyang doctorate degree sa College of Pharmacy ng UP. noong 1977. Nabigyan rin siya ng Post-Doctoral Fellowship sa Universidad ng Wurzburg sa Alemanya noong 1996. Pati sa National Cancer Institute sa Maryland, USA ay napili siya na maging Exchange Visiting Scientist noong 1996 din, gawa nga nang nakikitang masidhing interest at contribution niya sa panaliliksik.

    Napakasidhi ng pagnanais niyang makatuklas pa ng mga gamot na makabubuti sa lahat, lalo na doon sa mga kapus-palad. Nagtataka tuloy siya dahil sa dinami-rami raw ng ating likas na yaman sa bansa ay bakit ang mga alternatibong lunas sa sakit ay kakaunti, at kung mayroon man ay hindi pa rin makayanan ng bulsa ng mahihirap.

    Mga awards at citations

    Hindi maikakaila na sa dinami-rami ng taon niyang pananaliksik ng iba’t ibang klaseng gamot, malayo na rin ang narating niya locally o internationally. Naandon na nailimbag din ang mga sulatin niya – hinggil sa pananaliksik at iba pa – sa mga scientific journal sa iba’t ibang sulok ng mundo.

    Nabigyan din siya ng parangal bilang isa sa mga Women Achievers sa librong “A Century of Women in Science” na inilimbag ng National Academy of Science and Technology. Naroon din na ibinoto siyang “Most Outstanding Pharmacist in the Area of Research” ng Philippine Pharmaceutical Association nuong 1995.

    Maliban dito marami pa siyang nakamit na awards at citations ukol sa kanyang career.

    Ito lang Hunyo 16, 2018, iginawad sa kanya ng UP Pharmacy Alumni Association ang 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award.

    Kagagaling lamang niya sa Macau nitong Hulyo kung saan siya ay isa sa mga naging plenary speakers nang 5th Association of Asian Schools of Pharmacy Dean Forum. Ito ay ginanap sa Macau University of Science and Technology.

    Guro

    May 42 taon na rin si Dr. Oliveros sa pagiging isang guro. Libo-libong istudyante and kanyang mga naturuan sa iba’t ibang pamantasan, tulad ng UP Manila at Clark Air Base, at sa Manila Central University (MCU). Nagturo din siya sa UP San Fernando, at naging assistant director ng paaralan. Doon sa UP College of Pharmacy siya pinakamahabang nakapagturo, simula 1964 hanggang 2006. Sa panahong ito ay pinanatili niya ang “standards of excellence” ng paaralan.

    “Natutuwa ako kung ang aking mga istudyante ay nagpa-participate. Ang aking mithiin ay pukawin ang kanilang interest – isang bagay na napakalahaga kung ikaw ay nagtuturo. Ang research o pananaliksik ay nakahahalinang gawain lalo na, sa aking opinyon, kung ito ay maraming matutulungang tao gaya nga ng pagtuklas ng mga gamot sa iba’t ibang klaseng kapansanan,” pahayag ni Dr. Oliveros.

    Mga tuklas na halamang gamot

    Dr. Mildred Oliveros. Photo by Vics Magsaysay

    Para sa kanya, ang pamilya ng ginger o luya ay nakahahalina gawa ng marami nitong benepisyo. Isa na dito ang anti-bacterial property nito. Mayruon din siyang katangiang anti-inflammatory. Tuloy na-formulate niya itong Zengiment Ointment na may active ingredient na terpinem-4-ol. Ang formulation na ito ay nanalo sa Inventors, Innovator Week sa UP.-Manila. Sa ngayon hindi pa ito commercially available at wala raw siyang plano na ibenta ang formulation para sa sakit sa balat.

    Tinanong ko siya kung bakit? Ang sagot niya: “Ito’y akin na lang ibinibigay na libre sa mga taong walang pambili ng gamot.

    May natuklasan din siyang isang gamot na may pag-asang panlaban sa cancer: ito ay ang Millettia merrillii, isang halamang matatagpuan sa Palawan. Kaya nga lang nawalan ng momentum ang pagsasaliksik dito dahil nawalan ng funding ang National Cancer Institute.

    “May mga estudyante sa pharmaceutical field ang ibig ipagpatuloy ang research sa gamot na ito dahil sa malaki nitong potential laban sa malubhang sakit na cancer,” ayon sa doktora.

    Nandoon na rin iyong naka-formulate siya ng isang pulbos na galing naman sa dahon ng avocado na magaling na larvicidal laban sa Aedes aegypti, ang lamok na nagdadala ng virus na nagiging sanhi ng dengue at yellow fever.

    Mayroon din siyang nakita sa Zerumbone (isang compound na galing sa ugat ng isang kapamilya ng luya) at ginawang active ingredient sa shampoo. Ito ay mayroon pang anti-bacterial properties at commercially available na.

    Naka-diskubre rin siya ng isang compound na galing sa Strongylophora, isang Philippine marine sponge, na may magaling na anti-cancer properties din.

    Ayon sa doktora, “May malaking impact ito sa delivery ng healthcare, lalo na sa mga mahihirap.”

    Humanitarian

    Sa kanilang pamilya, hindi lang si Dr. Oliveros ang humanitarian. “It runs in the family,” ‘ika nga.

    Ang panganay na anak niya, si Lourdes Oliveros, ay dating Chief of Staff ni dating Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno ng Korte Suprema. siya ay aktibo sa He Cares Foundation na tumutulong sa pagpapakain at edukasyon ng mga batang kalsada.

    Ang bunsong anak, si Milagros Oliveros, ay isang physician na madalas ang medical missions kasama ang mga madre. Kadalasan sa mga okasyon na ito ay sariling pera ang ginagamit para pambili ng mga gamot sa mga nangangailangan.

    Ang pangalawa sa bunso naman, si Milette, ay isa ring physician at nasa Portland, Oregon. Palagi din siyang kasama sa mga medical mission at na-feature pa sa isang local morning TV show dahil sa pagbibigay ng libreng medical procedure.

    Ang kanyang kapatid na si Luz Balbin-Spanks ay active naman sa kaniyang Music Ministry at masigasig din sa pagpapalaganap ng sining sa La Habra Art Gallery, La Habra, California.

    Ipinakita sa atin ni Audrey Hepburn, Dr. Mildred B. Oliveros, at iba pang mga humanitarian, na sa mundong ito na ating ginagalawan, nandoon na iyong tulungan natin ang ating sarili, at pagkatapos naman ay tulungan din natin ang mga nangangailangan.

    Kahit na nga ang Dalai Lama, nabanggit niya na kahit wala ka raw relihiyon, pero kung maawain ka naman sa kapuwa mo, husto na. Ito din ang madiing itinuturo ng lahat na mga malalaking relihiyon sa mundo.

     

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    Bernadette Manahan Sta. Maria: When Love, Passion and Art Touch Lives

    June 20th, 2018

    “PAINTING is the love of my life; it’s my passion. And not only that, it enables me to touch the lives of people, especially my subject,” says Bernadette Manahan Sta. Maria, in justifying the many years that she has been zealously engrossed in doing just that.

    One thing I noticed with this painter is the fact that when her subject’s portrait is done, she wholeheartedly gives the original, instead of a copy which many of my accomplished artist’s friends do. When asked why, this was her answer: “I am already rewarded with joy fulfilling my passion, and it is another thing to make others happy,” she remarked.

    “Life is not all about money; it’s also about sharing your joy – your work of love – with others,” she added.

    Bernadette’s life has been a checkered one. She was born to parents who had a hard time even to make both ends meet.

    “My father told me this when I was still very young: ‘If you want to pursue your studies, it has to come from your own pocket’,” she explained.

    Bernadette Manahan Sta. Maria. Photo © Vics Magsaysay

    I first took up a secretarial course. But later on I found out that the course was not the one I really liked. Then I discovered from a cousin that the University of the Philippines (U.P.) had a “Talent Test” to screen those who were qualified. I underwent the test, and soon after, I found out that I was one of the fortunate 20% to be admitted, ” she narrated with a smile.

    “At the age of six, I was already fascinated with painting. My siblings were all mad at me for filling up their blank notebooks with my drawings. Even at that tender age I knew in the back of my mind that I had the potential to do portraiture. My teachers loved my artwork, and they used it for class or school projects. During my first year in U.P., I had no funds to spend on my art supplies. It was really disheartening that I even had to borrow technical pens and other art materials from my classmates,” Bernadette lamented.

    “My teacher happened to be Larry Alcala, the celebrated cartoonist. He asked us if we were interested to work on a part-time basis as book illustrators at Phoenix Publishing House,” the artist recounted.

    “I went there for an interview and was given an on-the-spot test by the interviewing staff. Luckily, they found my work suited for the requirements they wanted and I was hired,” she continued.

    During those succeeding years, she was also able to get jobs from other established publishing houses.

    “From this augmented income, I was then able to help my siblings financially in their studies”.

    Later, it dawned on her that the Visual Communications major she was studying was no longer relevant to what she was doing and, instead, she focused more on her job as a book illustrator.

    “Ivy Grace”, 11″ x 14″, Prismacolor pencil, Strathmore Tone Gray. Image © Vics Magsaysay

    But when she migrated to America in 2004, she hardly had time for her painting as she was so busy in her job as a caregiver. It was only in 2010 that the old lady she was working with allowed her to paint on the condition that she could only do that after her work was done. Given that window of opportunity, she disciplined herself, and from then until now her discipline has enabled her to average a hundred portraits or still life paintings annually.

    “Even in my younger years, I held this tenacious belief: ‘Ang buhay ng portrait ay nasa mata’ (For a portrait to have ‘life’ the eyes must have that ‘sparkle’),” the artist explained with conviction.

    Yes, central to her portraits is the way she is able to breathe life into the eyes of her subjects – it’s no wonder those eyes do “speak” in enigmatic ways.

    “In my college days, I was influenced by the National Artist Jose Joya’s “single stroke.” I was so fascinated by it, but unbeknownst to me, I realized later in life that this painting technique was already inherent in my brand of painting – thus probably the resonance”.

    Bernadette plans to quit working very soon and up the ante of her career by starting to exhibit her work in the Philippines first.

    “Yes, it’s about time to focus on this. Also, I am happy now that my kids have graduated and are already working. I can now spend my whole time doing what I love most,” she confided.

    Bernadette might not be in the same league as that revered lady from Lourdes who has touched so many lives; nevertheless, in her own little way, she has been able to rekindle the hearts of numerous art lovers – especially her subjects – through her enigmatic art.

    Bernadette Manahan Sta. Maria other works:

    “Birds of Paradise”, 12″ x 18″, Prismacolor pencil, Strathmore Coal Black. Image © Vics Magsaysay

    “Sir Boboy Yonzon, 11″ x 14”, Prismacolor pencil, Strathmore Tone Gray. Image © Vics Magsaysay

    “The Stranger”, 9″ x 12″, Prismacolor pencil, Strathmore Tone Tan. Image © Vics Magsaysay

     

     

     

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    Visual artist, singer and song writer Johnny Otilano opens one man show in La Habra, California

    April 12th, 2018

    By Vics Magsaysay

    The “eye” seems to be so ubiquitous in most of his paintings. It is symbolic of the right eye of his father that was damaged while working as an overseas worker in Saudi Arabia.

    THE 21-day one-man art exhibit of visual artist, singer and songwriter Johnny E. SJ. Otilano opened last April 7, 2018 at the La Habra Art Gallery, La Habra, California.

    Johnny, a California-based and multi-awarded artist, has exhibited in many galleries in the U.S. and museums abroad. Being also a musician, his works create a dialogue between his music and his artworks.

    Moreover, as a singer and songwriter, the California-based and multi-awarded artist creates a dialogue between sound and his artworks and has exhibited in many galleries in the U.S. and museums abroad.

    A prolific artist, Johnny says “I feel that my paintings express a thousand words and myriad thoughts. If a pen be mightier than as sword, my brushes are more powerful than a weapon of enmity.”

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    Driving and Living: The Not-so Odd Couple

    March 21st, 2018

    WE can easily know a person by how he or she thinks. I think that’s pretty obvious considering that what we think of is usually expressed in our words and actions.

    Now, this is also something. I heard that we could also know a person by checking how that person eats. Burps? Possibly.

    But there is another way of knowing a person and it shocked the living daylights out of me while I was driving on the way home from Los Angeles to Long Beach – it seems that we could also know a person by the way he or she drives.

    Driving is such an exhilarating experience. Despite our sometimes painful crashes, especially when we try riding the bicycle, roller skates, motorcycle and even the kick scooter – there’s nothing like driving once we have learned its tricks. Suddenly, it’s a no-brainer task. It’s like easily conquering Mt. Everest in a manner of speaking. We have become some sort of a Sir Edmund Hillary, so to speak.

    For some of us, driving is not just a way to travel but a form of meditation wherein we feel the sweet kiss of the wind on our face. Coooool!

    Sooner or later, we would be able to drive different vehicles, a car, SUV, truck etc… oh yes, the vehicles that move us point to point will vary but we would kinda remain the same person nonetheless. It’s the same thing with our body, it is changing just like how our consciousness changes but the “driver” in us remains the same. Far out, right?

    Now, back to while I am driving home…my “while driving contemplation” really drove me to write this article and relate the “strange” similarities driving and living have in common.

    Starting.

    Before we start moving the car out of the garage (especially on a long trip), it’s imperative to check the oil level, brake fluid, tire pressure and, of course, our fuel. Heck! What a trip pooper it would be when we suddenly run out of gas and stop out of nowhere, and gas station could be 50 miles away…or more. That’s doomsday man! By golly, at least we must know our car is working – I mean, working damn good.

    I think it’s also the same thing with our body. Every time we face this frenzied pace of city life, we ought to have some nutritious food and exercise (the body’s “high octane fuel”) to hurdle all the tasks we’ve to do for the day. What’s the point of getting all our work done when we are all so pooped up at the end of it all. Pyrrhic victory is not for us, guys. If we are prepared, we could do everything right and still have some juice left to keep us sprightlier like in that toy rabbit ad that keeps on moving and moving while others behind it have become still as cold steel.

    Our vehicle, our body.

    This is very obvious, guys. A simple advice from all experts in the automotive/healing field – take care of your vehicle/body and it will definitely take care of you. Sounds prophetic? A big yes, of course. Change oil, lubricate moving parts, check, check and check…and replace, replace and replace worn out parts. (Gosh, hope we are like cars, where we could replace our parts. Don’t worry, you have seen the trend and advances in medicine; a lot of transplants going on…and in the field of cloning, well that somewhat gives us the goosebumps. Just stay cool, however. Many things are happening now in the field of science and medicine deemed so unbelievable a few decades ago.)

    Hey guys, would you like the brain of Einstein transferred to your skull, Doc Frankie has perfected it this time (just kidding)? Shucks, where are we? Oh, yes, if you love your vehicle/body, give it the best – and all the rest – that it needs. It’s simply like building a house that will last for a long time. Would you consider using the cheapest lumber for your posts and girders?

    Work and work for a few days non-stop – without sleep – and for sure we would collapse. We got to fill up our tank and water our “radiator.” (I also find water similar to gas fuel). We forget to drink the right amount of liquid many times. Water is very good for the body and like all those veggies and fruits loaded with vitamins, minerals and enzymes, our “carburetors” and “engines” are so eagerly yearning for water too. Once properly maintained, I say there will be no black soot on your “mufflers,” garantizado!

    Be focused.

    Stay focused, that’s the game, baby! Many things happen because drivers are not paying attention on the road. Results: disasters of mythic proportions. Some drivers are either emotionally busy on their cellphones, fidgeting something in the glove compartments or even eating. It’s so damn hard to fathom what others would be doing in their cars. (Sounds like your mom telling you this and that, right?) There are so many things drivers do while the vehicle is moving but driving. Incredible.

    Yes, there are some experts on this field who can drive and do so many things at the same time without any untoward record whatsoever. We could do nothing but genuflect and praise them for their exceptional skills. Let us be honest, some of us are neither skillful nor good. We got to admit that or American Idol’s Simon Cowell would shame us before millions of televiewers worldwide. I don’t think you’ll love that?

    Another thing, there are driver nuts who love forcing us out of our lane in the blink of an eye. They enjoy beaver-wavering despite the fact that there are no streams or rivers around to dump their branches or fallen sequoia trees. (Calm down!) These drivers lack manners. Stay cool, friend! Don’t raise hell or blow your top and destroy your day. Let them pass. Life is just like that.

    When I started becoming a better driver – I mean really, very, very cool and courteous – I hardly experienced meeting those repulsive, atrocious (more adjectives please, it’s good for the system) people behind the steering wheel. Moreover, other drivers become very courteous to me. I noticed that every time I show my courtesy to them, it won’t be long when other drivers will also be cordial to me. Is this some kind of hogwash or baloney? Nope, kiddo! It’s just a pure application of the law of cause and effect. Be a good driver, a good person, and you will attract the vibration you exude, plain and simple.

    But of course, sometimes, there are some exceptions. Possibly because we are not aware that we did something wrong…and now, presto! we feel the effects we don’t like. Trust me. I have experienced this soooo many, many times.

    The law could be shaped.

    Do you know that the law could be shaped according to what you want by following it. Aren’t that contradictory or oxymoronic? Nay! It’s like using the law of buoyancy to your advantage. Now, we’ve got submarines. Yellow is cute on them. Right?

    Be flexible, detour.

    One time, I was driving in the freeway and forgot to exit where I should be going. Instead of cursing, screaming on myself, I nonchalantly looked for the next exit and turned back. No big deal.

    Despite our plans there are times things do not go our way, sometimes due to our own making, sometimes not. Mea culpa. My fault. Yes, but we don’t have to chastise ourselves. It’s just a matter of turning around and staying on course again. That’s practically what we should do when we “sin.”

    There are many incidents where people escaped accidents because they were caught in traffic or got in late. Note how many lives were saved during the 9/11 disaster in the Twin Towers of New York just because they got late to work.

    What we always think of as “negative” in our myopic viewpoint is not always as such. Sometimes our faults are bright spots or wholesome events in our lives, especially when compared to the larger perspective of life.

    When someone blocks our path, slow down, brake, or shift lane (but first look around especially at the back). Remain undaunted guys and stay on course. No need to curse the driver in front of you. Make life simple despite its complexities. (Well, just like in the Tao Te Ching, life is full of paradoxes.) That is just life’s way of making it more exciting and kaleidoscopic in nature.

    Follow the rules.

    If there’s the drivers’ rules and code of conduct there’s also the Ten Commandments and the wise sayings of Buddha, Lao Tzu and the other sages (all proven theories, left-brainers).

    There’s no better way than checking our Thomas Guide (this used to be my travel partner, yet still has that map book in my car…just in case). But now we can avail of Google Map or plot our destination by using our smartphone. It facilitates our journey a lot easier, cheaper…and lessens those unwanted white hairs, too.

    Driving in steep road necessitates right gearing. If we change the driving rules, we will surely go buying new brake pads or clutch in such a short period. Worse, we could destroy our vehicle, ourselves or both. In the end, after so much exasperation, we learn life’s lessons albeit the hard way.

    Go step on the gas pedal at 90 MPH (or above the posted speed limit) and by time we know it, Big Brother is behind our tail. If we want to race, we should go to Daytona. We should not be a hotfoot. We don’t need to be itchy on the gas pedal! We should rein ourselves.

    Always put the seat belt on. It’s not for the lawmakers; it’s for our own sake.

    Let others know where you are going or what you want to do by using your signal or emergency lights. One has got to communicate, to connect with others. It makes life easy for everyone, right? No man is an island.

    It also pays to be grateful. If a driver slows down to give you way, it’s imperative to acknowledge that courtesy with a quick wave of your arm as a “thank you” gesture. (Don’t make it too long though, as you still need your hand on the steering wheel. Focus. Focus.) I learned this from other drivers whom I’ve given way. Now, I am doing the same thing. This simple gesture makes me feel good.

    Beating the Red Light.

    Hey, we cannot escape beating the red light for Big Brother has eyes everywhere – in the form of cameras. What will they (Big Brother and his ilk) think of next? The best offense is our defense – vice-versa or whatever. If our every move is right, if we follow the driving rules, then we have nothing to fear even though Big Brother’s eyes are following us like our own shadow.

    Follow the Golden Rule.

    If we don’t follow the Golden Rule, we won’t get gold either (just kidding). But definitely, what we don’t want others to do to us would be quite remote if we follow the rules of life. This is the reason why all around us are spiritual institutions. Sometimes, even smart alecks should be reminded somewhere, somehow. Unless we got the “Thomas Guide” in our soul, heart and mind, we need to learn from these opt-repeated and tested words “what we don’t want to be done to us, we should not do unto others.”

    Be at the moment.

    When we drive, we keep our focus on the road and, on and off, look at our side view mirrors.

    Have you tried overtaking by just looking at your rear view mirror and forgot to look at that blind spot on your side window? Heck, it’s scary and shocking when the other driver gives us a long hoot and sometimes a dirty finger. They would even look at you for a long time. You don’t need to be a Jean Dixon to know what those peering Rasputin eyes mean.

    I am inclined to believe those rear view mirrors are like looking at our past, an anchor point, to know where we are going; and the road in front of us, our future. In between, there we are, driving at the moment, in the here and now, aware of everything. It is always the exhilarating experience of driving and the journey that is important. The destination? Well, it’s the cherry on the pudding, just as yummy as the journey.

    Dark moments.

    How easy it is for us to turn on our car headlights when it gets dark.

    We know we are heading on to some dark roads. Without our headlights, it’s so easy to bump, crash or become a tree ornament. Imagine driving in the boondocks, all zigzag roads, and you don’t have lights. It’s pretty scary, right? Yes, siree, unless you happen to own a pair of those night vision goggles you’ve seen in the movies worn by the military or SWAT teams.

    We all have our darkest moments in life. I know it’s damn hard. I have experienced that too. But let us for a moment, put our “headlights” (or our wits) on. I mean, look at the brighter side of things. These “darkness” are in our lives for a right reason. If not, it won’t be with us.

    If we look at these challenges as a blessing, it’s easy to move on to life, pretty much like wearing those night vision goggles. It might look strange on us, we will look like some sort of alien from Andromeda galaxy but it does look cool. Yep, we can stay on course despite the darkness looming around with goggles and flashlights on. Aren’t flashlights used for emergencies and our darkness or challenges emergencies? Interesting.

    Yes, with all the intriguing and interesting similarities between driving and living, it’s not that hard to conclude that by the way a person drives, we could likely predict or tell what character that driver has. Or, we can put it this way, one’s life would most likely dictate the way he or she drives.

    I wrote a booklet entitled “Love Thoughts.” On the cover, the tagline below says, “Changing our thoughts changes our life.” Probably, we could rephrase it this time by saying, “Changing our driving habits changes our life.” Or vice-versa.

    In a way, driving and living are not different after all, they are actions that are inextricably linked with each other. In short, they are no strange bedfellows; they are as inseparable as body and mind or body/mind to be precise.

    Hey, now, some of you will howl and say, “That’s bull! How come my husband takes care of our car sooo immaculately clean inside out but he stinks like a sock that has never seen the laundromat?”

    Okay, simmer down, naggy wifey. Be patient. That’s a good start. Once he found love within himself – and others – everything’s gonna be alright.

    Guys, if you want to make your life a lot better than it is now, be aware of your driving habits and how you treat your car or cars. You will stop paying those traffic violation tickets. You will stop making unnecessary trips and you will stop paying the expenses for unscheduled maintenance brought about by car neglect. Bet ya, you will have a hotsy-totsy life – plainly perfect, that is.

    Let our new motor, I mean, motto, be: “Be an amazingly good driver and Be an amazingly good person.”

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    The Power of Rest

    March 14th, 2018

    AS THE rain outside the Chinese restaurant kept pouring, mucous from my nose started to drip as if trying to compete with the downpour outdoors. Though the food on the table was invitingly sumptuous, this runny nose took my appetite away as I was always running back and forth to the restroom to blow my nose.

    Yes, having a cold is inconvenient. When I arrived home I took some vitamin C pills to strengthen my immune system. Unfortunately, the cold had caught me like a cold snap. The whole night I kept on blowing my nose. I probably released a voluminous amount of mucous. It was inconvenient but at least the thought that this process was cleansing my system of this mucous helped me to accept the discomfort somewhat. By this time it was five in the morning.

    Out of desperation, I boiled a kettle of water and inhaled the vapor…and finally the dripping stopped. Oh! How good it felt. Finally I was able to sleep.

    When I woke up, my body was still feeling sluggish. I had so many pressing things to do but, this time, I said to myself, “The heck with what I’ve to do; my body is more important.”

    After having a hearty breakfast and another vitamin C pill, I went to bed, read a book and dozed off into a deep slumber. I slept like a baby and, before I knew it, it was already night time. I think that was one of the longest sleeps of my life. After that, I felt a lot, lot better. The rest healed me.

    The rest that makes us inactive is also the one that helps us to stay active.

    Whenever the subject of rest comes to mind, I cannot help but reminisce about my observation of a dog near our place in Metro Manila. The dog survived poisoning simply by not eating any food. Perhaps it just drank water. (Well, I am not necessarily suggesting to not eat. Despite the many studies regarding the many beneficial effects fasting can do to our body, our programming has to be considered. I, too, am conditioned to believe that if I don’t eat, I will get weak…or get sick.)

    After a few days, I was amazed to see the dog walking again. Animals have an innate intelligence to survive. Their instincts prod them to stop eating and, in doing so, allow their bodies to marshal the energy to concentrate fully on the healing process.

    We also followed nature’s way in the past but have forgotten it because of our hectic and fast-paced lifestyles as well as our modern conditioning. Yes, it’s true that medicines help. Unfortunately most of us forget to heed the body’s call—a call for it to have a rest, a vacation, a respite, a breathing space or stillness.

    What’s amazing is that behind that veneer of stillness, all those white blood corpuscles in our systems are keeping the harmful bacteria under control. It’s also doing some housecleaning to remove all the toxins we have ingested from the wrong foods we’ve consumed.

    In short, the body is busily repairing itself. No machine in this high-tech era can match the body’s astonishing self-repairing features.

    In this furiously paced and stressful modern living, many of us have forgotten to rest our bodies. It’s no wonder the people in cultures that have siestas develop less heart problems…and are not stressful.

    Life is a cycle—day is followed by night; activity comes after inactivity; and renewed strength comes after a bout with flu. Even in the stories of creation from the world’s major religions, we see that God interspersed His work with periods of rest.

    It’s usual that our days are checkered with activities—physical, mental or both—but we should also listen to nature’s call to let our batteries recharge. It is only through a moment of inactivity that these bodies of ours will have time to keep their organizing and healing faculties come to the fore. This is also the very reason why we cannot forego sleep—it helps our batteries regain their power. Try not sleeping for a few days and you will experience how hard it is to continue your activities.

    Rest is not only letting our backs kiss the soft bed or comfortable chair. It is also allowing our minds to take respite from our worries, anxieties, frustrations, anger and other negative thoughts. A mind without rest makes us—well—restless.

    Sometimes, just focusing the mind on the opposite, the positive, will help it to renew itself. We can also rest our minds by quieting them through meditation. It helps to renew our strength by doing some deep breathing too.

    Another strategy is to relax, to still the mind. We can sit on a chair and think of nothing. If the mind is wandering, we can focus on our breathing or simply count from one to five for every inhalation and exhalation. If we can focus on the gap, it will be a lot better.

    Doing this amidst our stressful schedules serves as a sort of safety valve to release all the stresses and worries that bother us. Some say that sleep is one way of relieving us from our stresses. Thus, the deeper the sleep, the more refreshed we are when we wake up.

    Listening to classical or meditative music helps. Admiring the beauty of nature, the flowers on your table or garden, or simply contemplating on how wonderful it is to be alive—these are the things that can recharge your batteries back to their peak performance. Taking time to go to the mountains to view and imbibe the exhilarating vistas for some time energizes us. For me, going to the backyard and watering the plants lets me forget my worries.

    The human body is a miraculous machine with the power to regenerate and restore itself in a short time, if only we can be like that dog in Manila and learn to hear and heed its needs.

    The body’s message to us can best be described in these win-win and truthful words: “Give me importance and I will give importance to you.”

    ________________________________________________________________________

    (Also published in Famegate Magazine)

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    Luz Balbin Spanks: Singing her way to art*

    January 16th, 2018

    Painter and singer Luz Balbin-Spanks posing before two of her paintings in last October’s “Pamana ng Lahi” group art exhibit at the Filipino Cultural Center in L.A.

    “NO plan, no shape, not forced, and just like confetti, they just fall into place after they drop. They have to go with the wind – or even without the wind’s interaction. Yes, the result turns out to be very natural.”

    Thus said Luz Balbin-Spanks, an artist and the president of the La Habra Art Association in La Habra, California, as she described the kind of art she does with such flair, fun and passion.

    “That was the time when we were raising funds for the Asian-Pacific Heritage Group; and one way of supporting that was through an art auction. What I did was to organize several artists to have their artwork sold through bidding,” explained Luz, who aside from fundraising was also tasked to decorate the room with Asian artifacts.

    But deep inside her heart there was also an inner longing to express herself through painting. And she did paint for this auction.

    “Wow! Would you believe my artwork was bought! Kaya ko pala! [I could do it!]. That spurred me to continue and do more paintings, up to now,” she added.

    “I have had group exhibits with other seasoned artists like Rafael Maniago, Bienvenido Sibug and Magoo Valencia in La Habra Art Gallery as well as in the L.A. County Office of Education in Downey, in the art gallery of the Filipino American Service Group, Inc., and in the Filipino Cultural Center in L.A.’s Historic Filipinotown. Throughout our 23 years of marriage, my husband Jim has never failed to support me in all the things that I do,” the grateful artist informed me.

    “Chicks on a Fence – Study with Lisa Suttle, 12″ x 9”, acrylic on canvas.

    “Every day, I make it a point to journal my art on folded watercolor paper using acrylic paint or other media. I am keenly fascinated with the works of Karrie Evenson and Alisa Burke. My fascination with saints, Mother and Child, Our Lady of Guadalupe and others has kept me busy. I will be doing a series of each of them this year, and eventually come up with my solo exhibit, hopefully this year,” Luz, who started doing her craft in 2013, disclosed.

    Despite her busy schedule, she also conducts workshops on acrylic painting and the art of flower arrangements at the art gallery where she is the curator. Her dynamism was the driving force behind several visual art exhibits and musical shows in the community.

    She was also instrumental, a few years ago, in bringing together about 14 Filipino American photographers – yours truly included –and having their captivating color and black and white prints of nature and people on display in the gallery.

    What’s so interesting about this artist is that she’s also a natural-born singer. Even at the tender age of four she sang along with whatever she fancied listening to on the radio.

    “When I was in elementary school, my teacher requested me to sing in the classroom. Ditto when I went to high school in St. Mary’s College in Quezon City – the Mother Superior in that school was so happy to have me on the stage as guest singer during special events. Even when I worked in the Central Bank as an auditor, I was noted more as a singer. Now, I am singing for the ’Handmaids of the Lord’s‘ Music Ministry,” Luz narrated with enthusiasm.

    “Tulips by the Windowsill – Study with Lisa Suttle, 12″ x 9”, acrylic on canvas

    In the late 1960s she recorded her own music, using a cassette recorder. Later on, when computers became ubiquitous, she was able to transfer her songs and burn CDs. These days, she uses a recording studio that is managed by a well-known guitarist. This gracious mother of two has also performed in the Carson Civic Center, Bellflower Auditorium and La Habra Art Gallery with talented singers like Mon Concepcion and Mat Relox.

    “Going back to what I said earlier, it’s kind of interesting that in the schools where I studied, and the different institutions and offices that have been my workplaces, I have been known not as their classmate or their officemate but as their singer,” she recounted.

    Like her name – which, in English, means light – her enthusiasm and dynamism expressed through her songs and paintings continue to shine colorfully and brightly, to bring joy to many people.

    *All photos © Vics Magsaysay

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    Daila Farms: Where Roots and Visions Coexist

    December 30th, 2017

    WHAT happens when you combine environmental awareness, revival of cultural heritage and volunteer tourism or “voluntourism” into one? Well, it’s but natural that our roots are deepened and this wonderful blue planet is provided with its well-needed attention.

    For Maria Aleli Pansacola, this was but a pipe dream when she started producing her signature brand of herbal soap in the ’80s. She had practically no wherewithal and no basic knowledge and organization, but Aleli or “Ms. Daila,” as she’s popularly called, created household products that are not only exceptional but also gentle to the environment.

    “The Philippine archipelago has plenty of coconut trees and other herbs,” Aleli said.

    She couldn’t believe why there are so many poor people when the country is blessed with such lush vegetation.

    “To address the situation, I thought of using coconut oil and essential oils from patchouli, lemongrass and other plants contracted from local farmers around the country for my soap products. For several years, it was a daunting process for our Daila Herbal Community venture,” she added.

    But with the unflinching tenacity of this pioneering lady, her outreach program has been transformed into a company that is, at present, the front runner and leader in natural and herbal products in the Philippines.

    It didn’t stop there – it was but the catalyst as she further pushed the envelope of her vision.

    A few years ago, she provided more oxygen to her vision in coming up with a farm in Tagaytay City to showcase the country’s culture, cultivate organically grown herbs, build mud houses, and raise black pigs, chickens and other farm products.

    “The cost of building houses is extremely expensive, but using this ancient technology of mixing mud, sand and grasses together and plastering them onto bamboo frames seem to work,” she explained. (As of this writing, she’s building her own home using this low-tech building technique.)

    Daila Farms’ bamboo house. Image © Vics Magsaysay

    At this farm, visitors are greeted by the two-storey bamboo house that serves as a dining area plus a workshop hall upstairs.

    “Ulog” huts. Image © Vics Magsaysay

    There are also “ulogs” (popular huts native to the people of the Cordilleras) and several “Ugnayan” mud houses where she showcases her Daila herbal products and other native articles.

    Up on the higher level is a two-storey dormitory. There are also greenhouses that enclose organic herbs and vegetables. A circular-shaped “Dap-ay” follows the tradition of natives in the highlands, where they gather and hold bonfires. Beside that is another huge covered multi-purpose hall for workshops and dining, echoing the leaf motif she painted on the flooring of the bamboo house.

    Once inside the farm, one is mesmerized by the sounds of an array of bamboo chimes lining up around the perimeter – truly a unique experience.

    Expert kite-maker Samuel “Boying” Ledesma demonstrates the mechanics of crafting a kite to students. Image © Vics Magsaysay

    Over a month ago, right after lunch, 160 high school students from Emmanuel Christian School of Sta. Rosa, Laguna, together with their teachers, a tour organizer and guides, came to Aleli’s farm. This was the first batch – divided into four groups – to undergo workshops on the following subjects: making individual kites and later flying them; creating a vertical garden with the use of recycled plastic soda bottles as pots, and learning how to build a mud house, getting their hands dirty while plastering the mixture onto the walls.

    Vertical farming class. Image © Vics Magsaysay

    Only four days later, another batch of almost the same number visited. This time, the students were divided into three groups. The workshops turned out to be highly successful, judging by the smiles and good feedback of the organizers, teachers and guides. It didn’t stop there; two more followed.

    “Voluntourism” is a new word coined for individuals going on working holidays to volunteer their labor for worthy causes. Since last year, there have been groups of high school students coming from Japan, Singapore and Malaysia to plant seedlings and other plants on the farm.

    I was also thinking of reviving our native children’s games like, “piko,” “tumbang preso” and “patintero” for the youths to participate in. These games are almost disappearing now due to the new technology like smartphones, computers, etc.,” Aleli lamented.

    “That would be fun and interesting,” she then quipped with a smile.

    Amused, I reflected: “Isn’t it ironic, Aleli, that you studied journalism and, instead, you ended up producing these soaps, while yours truly took up chemical engineering and is partly into journalism now, writing this story?”

    What’s truly intriguing about this pioneering and visionary lady is that she has the grit to integrate and manifest her visions that will benefit many people and, inevitably, generate more environmental awareness, especially in our youths.

    And with all of these youths participating in her farm activities, the words of our National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal reverberate: “The youth is the hope of our future.”

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    Tularawan #2: Ang Bulaklak

    September 26th, 2017

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    Tularawan #1 Para sa mga Ina ngayong araw nila

    May 13th, 2017

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    Ang Diaspora Ng Pinoy:  Serbisyo Sa Amerika, Serbisyo Sa Mundo

    May 10th, 2017

    One person caring about another represents life’s greatest value.”

    — Jim Rohn

    ‘Sir, ito na po iyong pampunas sa katawan ninyo, at robe na pampalit naman sa damit ninyo,’ sabi ni Chris, isang Pinoy na CNA or certified nursing assistant sa isang malaking ospital sa Los Angeles, California, bago ako operahan. Kasunod naman nuon ay isa ulit na Pinoy, si Moreena, isang RN o registered nurse naman, na nagprepara sa aking I.V. Nabago lang ng may dumating na puti at may mga tanong na aking sasagutin. Nang matapos ang successful na operasyon at gising na ako, nakangiti akong inaasakaso ng isa na namang Pinoy na RN, si Luisa.” Ito ang malinaw na salaysay ni Cesar, isa kong matagal ng kaibigan.

    Pagkatapos ng kanyang operasyon nuong araw na iyon, siya ay pinauwi na at ang kanyang matulunging kapatid na babae, isang Pinoy RN din, ay walang puknat naman ang serbisyo kay Cesar upang hindi mahirapan at maiwasan pati ang ano mang infection gawa ng sugat na tinamo sa operasyon. Mga iba pa niyang kamag-anak, hali-halili ng pagtulong sa kanya.

    “Malugod at masayang pagtulong ang naibigay sa akin ng mga mahal sa buhay,” tunay na kapuna-puna sa mga ngiti ni Cesar habang siya’y nagkukuwento. 

    May kakaibang ”touch” ang serbisyong Pinoy. Siyempre kung Pinoy ka, mas kampante ang kalooban mo kung umaasikaso sa iyo ay kabayan mo rin – tulad ng karanasang naikuwento ni Cesar.

    Hindi nga maikakaila ang pagmamalasakit ng isang Pinoy sa kaniyang siniserbisyuhan. Nabanggit ng kapatid kong isa rin RN na isang kasamahan niya sa trabaho, gawa ng matinding pag-aasikaso’t pag-aruga sa pasyente niya sa ospital, ay pinamanahan ng isang milyong dolyar.

    Hindi na kaila na napakarami nang Pilipino ang nasa iba’t ibang sulok ng mundo at nagbibigay ng kaukulang serbisyo sa mga nangangailangan upang mapanatili ang daloy ng buhay ng kanyang kapuwa.

    Maraming kababayan ang makikitang umaalis sa Pilipinas upang magtrabaho bilang isang caregiver, nurse o doctor. Sila ang mga taong yayakapin ang ano mang lungkot at hirap sa pagtatrabaho sa ibang bansa, at kadalasan, sila’y nag-iisa.

    Nuong nagtatrabaho pa ako sa isang five-star hotel sa Maynila, kapansin-pansin ang dami ng aking mga katrabaho ang nag-apply para pumunta sa Saudi nuong mga ’70s.  Marami din DH o domestic helper na mga pumunta sa mga recruitment agencies nuon at hanggang sa ngayon. Bagamat nag-uumpisa pa nuon, marami ang mga peke – mga pekeng ahensiyang humuthot ng kabuhayan ng mga hirap na hirap na at gustong makaahon sa kahirapan. 

    Ang pangunahing mithiin ng mga umaalis at magtatrabaho sa ibang bansa ay para umasenso ang kundisyon nila sa buhay. Kaya nga nuong pumunta ako sa Maynila at interbyuhin iyong mga opisyal at estudyante ng isang caregiving school, and daing nila ay iisa: “Sa bansa daw, kayod kalabaw sila pero ang kita ay katiting.”

    Ayun, sila´y nagsipag-trabaho sa ibang bansa para kumita pero ang mistulang inosenteng aksyon nito ay: sa kagustuhang umasenso sa buhay, may katangi-tanging dulot naman sa banyaga na napakahalaga – ang mabigyan sila ng kaukulang aruga gawa ng sinasapit na kapansanan o kundisyon ng katawan.

    Bagamat sila´y binabayaran, sa pakiwari ko’y hindi na rin sila nalalayo sa mga volunteer sa grupong Doctors Without Border, isang humanitarian NGO na tumutulong sa mga may sakit sa iba’t ibang parte ng mundo. Kung tutuusin marami na rin tayong mga doktor na naging doktor rin sa ibang bansa at posibleng naging volunteer din.

    Dito sa Amerika, marami din ang mga caregivers na nagbibigay kalinga sa mga matatanda at nangangailangan. Kung ikaw nga naman ay maraming pera pero kung wala namang gustong magserbisyo sa iyo, walang silbi ang pera mo. Isang quid pro quo, ‘ika nga; o ito’y isang ”win-win” kung tutuusin gawa nang pareho silang makikinabang.

    Kaya nga pagkatapos ng mga nabanggit ni Cesar, naisip ko tuloy: paano kung walang masipag, matiyaga tulad ng kapatid niya na RN, o iyong mga doktor o nurses na umasiste sa kanya sa ospital, o mga caregivers naman na walang puknat ang pag-aalaga sa may mga kapansanan? Ano na ang mangyayari sa mga may sakit o matatanda kung wala sila?

    Maging bata ka man o malakas, kapag ikaw ay nagkasakit walang sablay na hahanap-hanapin mo sila: mga doktor, nurse o caregiver. Kaya nga may gintong mensahe ang isinasaad ng popular na kasabihang ”No man is an island.

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    Lynda A. N. Reyes: Art and Love Keep Me Going

    December 11th, 2016

    Vics-Portrait-passport-Name

    “WHEN we all get the power, we all give the best, every minute of an hour….” These are the lyrics of the song “Live is Life,” popularized during the 80s by the Austrian pop group, Opus.

    Though the song expresses the enthusiastic attachment of a pop group on stage, for the artist extraordinaire, art historian and author Lynda A.N. Reyes, being alive, getting all the power, giving all the best and unfettered by all the physical challenges in life, present a brighter meaning in her perspective towards life.

    It was a Saturday afternoon when I visited my renaissance artist friend – she is a pianist, do-it-yourselfer, and also perfectly makes her own frames. Upon seeing her, for the first time in a few years, I saw how she still radiated the exuberance of being as if she was on natural steroids. I was just amazed finding somebody with such deep roots that even the gale force wind of debilitating disease hasn’t blown her to bitterness or self-pity.

    What’s even more noteworthy was that she emailed me a few days after, and wrote, “Tell them I am still pretty!” That certainly elicited a smile in this writer. In the back of my mind I was honestly already thinking of this amazing lady as pretty, and not only as that but as an alchemist – she transmutes negative situations into positive ones.

    It was Fall of 1997. “The Halloween celebration was just a day before when I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Type 2 cancer in the nasopharynx. It was truly horrifying to learn about my health condition,” informed Lynda.

    Ms. Lynda Reyes Photo © Vics Magsaysay

    Ms. Lynda Reyes Photo © Vics Magsaysay

    For a minute she thought this was the end of her rope but she also thought of life after that very first minute. “I am not going to let the dreaded enemy deprive me of attaining my life goals. The intent to survive was first and foremost in mind. I love life. I have reasons to love life. My loved ones – my husband Albert, my sons Roy and Allen – remain as my primary reasons to live,” she disclosed.

    I underwent a combination treatment of 39 radiations and 9 series of chemotherapy. Most often, I stared at the blank wall or ceiling and would smile while undergoing chemotherapy in the medical facility,” Lynda noted. “I would have been branded as insane. I was simply thinking of art,” she continued. Her imaginations focused on impoverished people, people’s portraits with character, or some peaceful landscapes and flowers all along the way in watercolor.

    That was exactly 19 years ago. All of the people she knew suffering the same illness succumbed to the dreaded disease. “Yes, I am the only one surviving!” Lynda exclaimed. It’s a fact that she knows how to season her life with the right attitude, determination and will to be alive. The feat was nothing short of a miracle.

    And when it comes to Lynda’s accomplishments as an artist, the space allotted for this article won’t suffice – she has garnered so many awards, recognitions and exhibitions in museums and galleries all over the country averaging at least four to five each year. In 2013, she had seven.

    Lynda’s art is highly representational and yet they invite the viewers to ponder. The paintings speak to all who see it. She also charges it with underlying philosophical messages. And in so doing, her art continues to capture the interest of noted jurors across the country. Being an artist too, I see an incredible depth in her paintings, be it in oil or in watercolor.

    California Grandpa,” a watercolor painting of the artist, was selected in the prestigious art book, “Splash 14: Light and Color (The Best of Watercolor),” edited by Rachel Rubin Wolf. The book showcases the finest watercolor paintings created today by the best contemporary watercolor artist in America and around the world.

    For the past 20 years, Lynda has served as a panelist/judge and instructor in different art institutions in Southern California.

    The artist also authored books and published research materials mostly on Philippines minorities.

    It’s been said that ship does not sink because there are waters around it; the only reason it sinks is if the waters get inside. Lynda doesn’t let her outward condition or health issues become her identity and dampen her spirit.

    I reckon there is much to be learned from Lynda’s positive outlook toward life: she has proven the capacity of the indomitable human spirit and further demonstrated the incredible potential of love – love for her loved ones, love for art, the love to be alive – for her to get the power and give all the best in life despite the insurmountable odds gripping her.

    Ms. Reyes’other works Photos © Vics Magsaysay

    The-Cutest-Clown

    The-Cutest-Clown

    Colorful-Escapade

    Colorful-Escapade

    article-lynda-r-01-california-grandpa

    California-Grandpa

    Women's Caucus

    Women’s Caucus

    Bouquets-of-Cheer

    Bouquets-of-Cheer

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    Years of living Thankfully*

    November 23rd, 2016

    Vics-Portrait-passport-NameGUYS, ‘got a pair of scissors with you? Okay, we’re going to snip “Thankfulness” into three parts: “thank,” “ful,” and “ness.”

    Now, it’s time to take our magnifying glass and check what each means. “Thank.” It means to express gratitude or appreciation. “Ful” or full. This is about abundance – lotsa of this or that. And the last one, “Ness,” is not a locale in Scotland where that Nessie monster has been said to be lurking. I find it more than a suffix. The word almost sounds similar to nest, do you agree? Nest is for birds but also for cute people like us, a place to live. Put the three in our blender, and what we have now is: “Expressing our appreciation generously in a nest.” Do you think these words make sense? Forget about sense for a while; and in a nutshell, I can say it’s like building a “nestful” of thanks through appreciation and gratitude.

    Left-brainers, don’t think I’m crazy, naïve or what. Please hold your horses first. I’ve got surprises for you.

    Dr. Masaharu Emoto, a Japanese researcher and author of The Hidden Messages in Water, has an interesting experiment with water crystals. To the amazement of the modern world, he was able to form cohesively beautiful water crystals when words (written on petri dish were they laid) were positive like love, beauty or peace. But when cursing words were written, the water crystals became fragmented and so yucky to look at. If you’re blind or wearing that very dark pair of sunglasses, no problem, you won’t be able to notice its ghastly form. He even showed the effect of prayer on “dirty” water. Without the prayer, the water crystals didn’t look appealing but after a monk prayed over the water, a transformation happened – it looked a lot, lot better. This hard-working researcher was so enthused with his experiment and discovered that the most beautiful water crystal were when the words “love and appreciation” were written on the dish.

    Many years ago I met a Japanese guy, Casey, here in L.A. We became friends. He tried to duplicate Dr. Emoto’s experiment. Through trials and errors, he came up with similar results. He was also dumbfounded and excited that he gave me a photo of his experiment. (Here’s his photo of the water crystal where he wrote peace beside it.) Lovely, huh?

    Casey's Ice Crystal

    Casey’s Ice Crystal

    At the end, Dr. Emoto concluded that words are not merely words – they are vibrations. They do affect water. And since our body is significantly made up of water, its effects on us are far-reaching. That’s freaky! But some consider this a hypothesis.

    Our thoughts, our words are vibration – they oscillate, they vibrate and have wavelengths similar to the frequencies in radio stations. Isn’t it if we like funky or classical music, we turn the tuner knob (selecting the frequency either in AM or FM) of the radio to the station that plays the music we are looking for. We have to precisely tune in so that we could get a clear sound, right? Now, let’s go even one step further, and for a moment, be in the company of those brainy guys like Einstein, Planck, Bohr, Hawkins, and others.

    Some scientists have come up with an elegant new theory called the “Superstring Theory.” This theory is said to combine quantum physics and theory of relativity in one basket. It’s heralded as the theory of all theories. These brilliant scientists postulate that everything in the entire universe is made up of small vibrating strands of matter called “strings.”

    Furthermore, they are awesomely so minute compared to the size of the atom. Again, these strings are vibrating. If they are the fundamental unit of matter then it reinforces the idea that all things are vibratory in nature. Methinks the reason why those “X men/women” (those with telekinetic powers) could bend spoons is because they could resonate with the vibrations of the matter they focus their minds on. Wow! With this in mind, we really have to be careful with all those words we utter, right?

    In short, if you want your body to be always in a state of harmony, it’s obvious that you have your “vibes” right or tuned in to harmonious words (either uttered or heard). Okay, rest our left brains, guys, and no more of those heavy stuffs. Fair enough? Thankfulness, gratitude or appreciation is something we got to cultivate. I know there are some of you guys out there who are naturals in expressing your thanks or appreciation. You are truly blessed and for that, I’m your number one fan.

    thanks

    For some, moi included, we got to work on it. You don’t like? Okay, you want to have “water crystals” in your body that look like bird droppings whose color is a cross between yucky green and ugh gray with a generous amount of blackish tiny solids you wouldn’t dare touch? Good! First thing to do is to use the law of cause and effect to our advantage. You want to be thanked? Then, amigo, start thanking people and whatever you have in your life. Remember we talked about nest before? Yup, you’ve got to continue filling those nest with a lot of thank yous. Yes, it’s good to be like those mama birds bringing those regurgitated “thanks” to our “nest.”

    Before you even make it half-full, you’ll experience a lot of changes manifesting somewhere in your existence. When someone performs beautifully on stage, clapping is a good way of showing our appreciation. Being a reflexologist, we’ve learned that this gesture stimulates all those pressure points (connected to every organs in our body) thus enhancing the flow of “chi” for better health.

    Isn’t it nice, guys? That’s two birdies in one shot: making the performer happy and your body, too. When a courteous driver offers you to get ahead, a little wave of the arm (to show your gratitude) makes a lot of difference not only to him but also to you. When someone opens the door for you, don’t leave without saying thanks to the courteous person. The vibration of that gratitude literally and figuratively revitalizes all the cells in the body.

    I couldn’t forget my experience many years ago when I was still in Manila. I went to my client that day. My mom was not feeling that well before I left. Late in the afternoon, when I called her and asked about her condition, she said our neighbor, Aling Ebeng (“Aling” is a Tagalog word to show respect to an elder lady), knocked at our door and brought some steamy-hot arroz caldo (chicken porridge) with her. You know, it’s like having the essence of chicken, very soft and easy to digest rice in a soup of ginger, onion, pepper and garlic…and touted to be the best food to eat when someone’s not feeling well.

    Aling Ebeng knew I was out. Without any hesitation she helped my mom have her hot meal. She even fed her. Oh boy, despite the absence of white and blue uniform, she was one of those Mother Theresas who has no qualms when it comes to helping people. Such an act of kindness without any expectation is really worth remembering. Yes, she’s the kind of person I’ll never forget as long as I live. After that, I have never forgotten to bring whatever I could whenever I was out of town, country or even when I have the chance to go to the boondocks (yes, with my cross-country motorcycling, I happen to meet natives in the mountain giving me exotic orchids and I made it a point to share some to her). It’s not because she needs something; it’s because I could not help myself showing appreciation for her unselfish act.

    We either initiate doing some act of kindness (if we want kindness to be given to us). It doesn’t matter whether they thank us or not. If they do, that’s fine. Those acts become our greenie points in our nest (remember?).

    Life is very just. The law of compensation is unerring. Though we are not appreciated, somewhere, somehow, or not given something in return from that particular person, other loving and appreciative souls will. It has become my habit to always thank people. Words of thanks are good, but with deeds or with a gift, that’s upping the ante.

    Filipinos are also very well known when it comes to sharing. They always bring something – food, fruits or gifts – when they visit their relatives or friends. It’s sort of an S.O.P. We have plums and pomegrenate trees in our backyard. When the fruits are ready for picking, we share the harvest to others.

    Boy Pineda, a friend from Pasadena, also never fails to share his mouth-watering persimmons every November notwithstanding the trip he has to make to deliver it to me door-to-door. I just received them a day ago. See, generosity begets generosities! Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again and to expect different results.

    If things are not doing well in our life start to appreciate and be thankful with what we have. Be thankful to people who have done us good. This heartfelt gratitude and appreciation eventually changes the energy field of our body. Before sleeping at night, what a great way to be thankful for to the wonderful things that happened to us that day. Even those “icky” things or atrocious people we met are worth thanking for. They open up our eyes to the things that will make us a better person. How boring life will be when everything that happens to us is great.

    Those oaks that are in the middle of the field are stronger because they take the full brunt of the wind. Besides, being thankful means you are nourishing every cell of your body with life force, life force that resuscitates, replaces all the weak and dis-eased cells making you whole again. “May the ‘Force’ be with you!” (Repeating the line in Star Wars)

    For most of us who believe in a Supreme Being, I think He is Love at work when we are thankful or grateful for everything He does for us. Isn’t it any wonder why Thanksgiving Day is considered one of the most celebrated public holidays in America? Those pilgrims in New England really knew how fundamental gratitude and appreciation are to our spiritual growth. My hats off to these awesome guys!

    After reading this far, I am thankful to all of you guys who have the tenacity, drive and spirit to finish this nonsense. Yes, this time I am not kidding. Frankly, I’m serious. Yes, this is nonsensical in a manner of speaking; because you don’t have to involve your senses or your analytical mind.

    All you’ve got to do is open your hearts to everything that is there to be thankful for – yup, there are so many things to be thankful for in life. Keep the cycle moving: give and give; thank and thank. It’s good for the system.

     

     

     

     

    * The opinion of these authors are theirs alone. It is not necessarily the views of Beyond Deadlines.

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    CESAR DEVERA: Isang Masayang Traditional Fine Artist Convert*

    October 10th, 2016

    Vics-Portrait-passport-Name

    “Para ang isang pinta o obra ay maging unique, kailangan itong ‘humihinga,’ may buhay, at akala mo ‘gumagalaw,’ ika nga,” salaysay ni Cesar Devera, isang batikang pintor sa Southern California at very active sa mga art competition sa komunidad

    Pero hindi naging madali ang kanyang transisyon sa muling pagpipinta. Tulad nang mga ibang nag-migrate sa Amerika, hindi naging maluwalhati ang kanyang sinapit dito sa Southern California.

    “Naruruon iyong kung anu-anong odd jobs ang aking pinasukan para lang mabuhay. Iyong tinapos ko sa fine arts sa Universidad ng Santo Tomas at ang aking pagiging art director, designer, ay hindi ko man lang nagamit,” kuwento ng pang-anim na anak sa walong magkakapatid.

    “Alam mo, nuong 1983, ng pumunta ako rito, gusto ko nang sumurender dahil iyong mga experience ko sa advertising ‘di ko man lang magamit. Minsan nga, nagda-drive pa ako ng truck para maglako ng ice cream,” salaysay ni Cesar.

    “Kung hindi lang nga sa nanay kong humihiling na huwag umalis ako para maalagaan ang aking tatay na may matinding problema na nuon sa puso malamang nakauwi na ‘ko dahil pina-hold ko na iyong trabaho ko duon sa Maynila,” naungkat ng pintor na isang saradong Katoliko at mapagmahal sa magulang.

    “Pero hindi rin ako makareklamo gawa nga nang wala akong local experience at portfolio. Naisip ko tuloy na mag-aral muli. Makaraan ang ilang taon natapos din ako at nanguna pa sa klase. Sa taas ng aking grado nabigyan tuloy ako ng aking guro ng rekomendasyon para sa isang newspaper company at tuluyang nagkaruon ng trabahong mas type ko.” dugtong niya.

    Ganuon pa man naglagak siya ng panahon para mabigyan ng saysay ang kanyang passion – pagpinta ng modern art. Nanduon na rin iyong napunta siya sa movie animation at nakatrabaho sa Warner Brother’s na siyang may unang full animation movie. Gawa nito nahasa siya sa traditional drawing at composition ng human figures – gayon na rin ay nanamnam niya ang essence ng realistic drawing.

    Sa kabila nito itinanong niya sa sarili kung ano nga ba ang kanyang kailangang piliin sa pagpinta: modern o realistic. Mahirap nga lang ang huli dahil very challenging nga naman ang traditional. Alam niya na kailangang magpursigi para magampanan ang mga challenges sa larangan ng sining na kanyang tatahakin.

    “Ang successful na obra ay kailangang ‘nagsasalita’ ng kanyang angking kagandahan,” aniya. “Hindi na kailangang bigyan o isalaysay pa ito; ang sarili’t angkop niyang kagandahan ang nangungusap at nagsasaad sa puso ng tumitingin,” patuloy ng bagong convert.

    Hindi nga naman ganuon kadali ang pagpipinta. Tulad din ng isa naming kasamang pintor, si Rafael Maniago, sa edad na 71, ay halos araw-araw ay walang puknat sa kanyang pagpipinta. Kailangan talaga ng continuous practice para mahasa’t gumaling. Kaya kung may libreng panahon siya, sumasama siya sa grupo ng mga batikan tulad nina Rafael Maniago, Bienvenido Sibug at Magoo Valencia. Nanduon iyong lumalabas sila para sa kanilang plein-air o outdoor painting sessions.

    Nabanggit din niya na dito sa Amerika niya natutunan na mas partikular ang mga Kano sa pagpili ng canvas – mas gusto nila, lalo na ng mga kolektor, ang linen kaysa cotton. “Ang aking medium ay oil dahil nga mas angat at matingkad ang kulay nito. Isa pa’y mga daang taon din ang itinatagal nito,” banggit niya.

    “Sa umpisa hindi ko gusto ang amoy ng oil paint pero sa katagalan nasanay na rin ako dahil mas magandang medium ito para sa aking mga ipinipinta,” paliwanag ni Cesar.

    Para mas ganahan sa pagpipinta, “Inuumpisahan ko ang araw na maging magiliw para maiangat ang aking mood o kundisyon sa pamamagitan ng pakikinig sa musikang aking kinagigiliwan.”

    cesar-de-vera

    Cesar Devera proudly holding his “Artist of the Year 2016” award from the Anaheim Art Association, Anaheim, California Photo © Vics Magsaysay

    Marami na ring sinamahang exhibition at competition ang pintor. Multi-awarded painter na rin, tulad nina Raffy Maniago o Bienvenido Sibug. Kailan lang ay hinirang siyang “Artist of the Year 2016” ng Anaheim Art Association pagkatapos ng isang painting competition sa Anaheim City, California.

    Kahit na marami na rin siyang nakamit na tagumpay sa larangan ng mga painting competition, kakikitaan pa rin si Cesar ng pagpapakumbaba at pasasalamat ng malaki sa mga biyayang pinagkaloob sa kanya ng Maykapal.

    Sa kanyang pagmumuni-muni, ngayon lang niya naintindihan na ang nangyayari pala sa ating buhay ay may “rhyme or reason;” at ganuon na rin kung bakit sa halip na ipagpatuloy niya ang dati niyang pagiging designer at hilig sa modernong art ay naging convert bilang isang traditional fine artist. Ang maganda’y siya ngayon ay masaya.

    Some of the artist’s works:

    article-cesar-photo-2-california-golden-horizon

    “California Golden Horizon,” 30″ x 24″, oil on canvas

    "The Rock Whom I trust," 24" x 18", oil on canvas

    “The Rock Whom I trust,” 24″ x 18″, oil on canvas

    "Wings and Waves," 24" x 18", oil on canvas

    “Wings and Waves,” 24″ x 18″, oil on canvas

    *Ang mga pananaw sa artikulong ito ay sa sumulat.  Maaring hindi ito ang opisyal na posisyon ng Beyond Deadlines.

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    The Beauty of Contrast*

    September 27th, 2016

    Vics-Portrait-passport-NameYES, there are images like those of a sunset or trees in fall; portraits of nature in an awesome display of blazing colors that will truly move you into tears with their ineffable beauty. But there are also nondescript images of leaves, flowers, trees or scenery that do not hit you hard. Why? For a photographer, what needs to be done?

    A camera is a camera. It is a tool that is used to capture images. The camera can only capture the physical attributes of anything—shapes, forms, colors, and textures. The captured image does not stop there if it has to win the hearts of viewers. For many photographs there is still a need for a creative and expressive void to be filled. For beauty to enter our hearts easily, it needs a vehicle—a vehicle that goes beyond the boundaries of the physical. What is not within the camera’s capturing power, the energy of the emotion, has to be added. And this is where the soul, the passion of the photographer, enters.

    Well-known landscape photographer Ansel Adams was so passionate in his craft. He spent much time in the darkroom with his brand of dodging and burning, thus bringing about a metamorphosis of his captured image into a beautiful butterfly of natural beauty. The celebrated photographer infused his prints with the added value of his own passion during the darkroom process to bring out the iconic landscape photographs for which he was so well known. This, in turn, elicited the vehicle of emotion that strikes a resounding chord in one’s innermost feeling.

    It is in pushing the envelope of an image’s emotional content that its physical nature is transcended. And in so doing, a dance of sharpness and blurriness, of light and darkness, kindles the overall mood, thus transforming the form and design into something non-physical, into something that truly uplifts the human spirit.

    In one of our Facebook exchanges, painter, essayist and versatile artist Alfredo Roces echoed and wrote this: Vics, the camera lens does not arbitrarily distinguish sharp and soft. The most one can do with a camera is to use the lens opening to blur the background, or the slow shutter to blur movement; but otherwise, the camera gets everything as sharp as the lens can. The artist’s eye and mind, on the other hand, makes arbitrary decisions and you, with your “Photoshop blur”, have added the artist’s capability and given the image an “artistic” feel. This is why I cannot empathize with artists who insist on copying a photograph exactly, thus dispensing with the ability to use the artist’s sensibility regarding sharp and soft focus.

    For documentary purposes, I agree that a photograph has to be technically as sharp as possiblethat is the purpose. But when it comes to fine-art photography, the interplay of light and dark, sharp and soft has to be dispensed with, much like an acupuncturist tonifying or sedating the acupuncture points of the patient to achieve the necessary balance of yin and yang to promote homeostasis or well-being.

    For me, homeostasisin an image elicits a feeling of serenity, bringing a kind of solace into our frenzied phase of living. It is a time when the continuous chatter in our minds stops for a while. This is simply what meditation meansno mind.

    Art is beauty. Beauty is art. They are interchangeable. And when we see beauty, our hearts are at peace; we are transported back to our essence.

    (Below are some of the author’s photographs – ed)

    article-the-beauty-of-contrast-calla-lily

    article-the-beauty-of-contrast-island

    article-the-beauty-of-contrastic-blossom

    * The opinion of this author is his/hers alone. It is not necessarily the views of Beyond Deadlines.

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    Si Bievenido ”Boi” Sibug at ang Pastel ng Buhay*

    September 9th, 2016

    Vics-Portrait-passport-NameANG pastel ay hindi lang isang magandang medium sa pagpinta. May mga katangian itong napakagandang ihambing sa ating buhay.

    Mabuti na lang at nandito ang isang malapit na kaibigan, si Bienvenido “Boi” Sibug, dahil maipapaliwanag niya ito sa aktwal na paggamit niya ng medium na ginagamit na nuon pang panahon ng Renaissance. Kahanga-hanga talaga ang galing niya sa paggamit ng pastel sa kanyang mga obra – ganuon din sa watercolor, charcoal o oil paint. 

    Sa 43 taon niyang pagpipinta, walang bahid ng duda ang mastery niya sa pagdidibuho at pag-aapply ng kaukulang hagod at kulay sa mga special paper na kanyang ginagamit. Magmula nang siya’y mag-umpisa, nagkaroon na siya ng humigit kumulang na 100 art shows sa Pilipinas, Guam at Amerika. May limang taon na siyang tapos ng B.S.Fine Arts degree – major sa advertising – mula sa Pamantasang Santo Tomas o University of Santo Tomas nang magsimula siyang magpinta. At magmula nuon, nakakamit na rin ni Boi ang mahigit na 200 awards mula sa iba´t-ibang art competitions. Kung tutuusin, sa dami ng kanyang accomplishment ay may lisensiya na siya upang “magyabang” pero nanatili pa rin sa puso niya ang pagiging mapagkumbaba.

    Kamakailan lang nakatanggap ulit siya ng “Best of Show” award sa Santa Paula, Ventura, California – maliban pa sa apat na award na kanyang ipinanalo. Ibig sabihin nito pati kapwa niyang artista ay ibinoto siya dahil sa kakaibang galing na kanyang ipinakita sa exhibition at competition. Nuong 2006 nakuha rin niya ang pinakamataas na award at premyong salapi bukod pa sa napanalunang award mula sa dalawa pang kategorya na sinalihan niya.

    “Isa itong magaling na therapy sa akin,” sabi ng mega-awarded painter. “Istudyante pa lang ako at hanggang sa ako ay napasok sa larangan ng advertising, itinuturing kong isang active at continuous practice itong aking ginagawa at isa pa, ito ay art pa rin,” dagdag niya.

    “May kasabihan kasi sa Ingles na “What you don´t use, you lose” na tulad din ng boksingero kapag hindi nagpraktis, nawawala nang lakas ang suntok. Isa pa, dahil sa aking kapipinta ay “may mga bago akong discovery at nakikita ko pati ang aking improvement,” paliwanag ni Boi.

    “Dahil happy ako sa aking resulta, natutulak ulit akong gumawa na naman ng bago  na siyang nagiging inspiration ko para tumuloy-tuloy ang aking pagpinta,” dugtong ng ating master painter.

    “Gawa rin nga na palagi akong nananalo sa mga art competition, malaking tuwa at fulfillment ito para sa akin kaya lalo akong nagiging masigasig na mapanatiling mas maganda ang mga susunod ko pang obra,” diin ni Boi.

    Ang pastel ay may dalawang importanteng sangkap – pigment at binder. Para mas maganda ang kulay, kailangang mas maraming pigment at kaunting binder lamang ang gagamitin. Ang tawag dito ay soft pastel. Kung marami namin ang binder at kaunti ang gamit na pigment, ang lalabas ay hard pastel, na maganda para sa mga detalye bagamat hindi ito magaangat ng kulay ng ipininta.

    Si Boi ay tulad ng isang conductor ng orchestra – alam niya kung paano timplahin ang “tunog” ng soft at hard pastel para sa tamang balanse. Hindi rin siya nalalayo sa isang acupuncturist na nagto-tonify o nagse-sedate ng pasyente para mailagay siya sa tinatawag na “homeostasis” upang maibalik ang dating sigla ng katawan. Makikita ito sa obra niyang matandang lalaki na pinamagatan niyang “Bearded Man.” Maraming mga master ang nagsasabing kung gusto natin ang ating buhay ay tahimik at maganda, kailangang tayo ay nasa gitna, o balanse, ‘ika nga.

    Bienvenido "Boi" Sibug's award winning painting Bearded Man

    Bienvenido “Boi” Sibug’s award winning painting “Bearded Man”

    “Ang magandang papel na gamitin ay iyong parang ‘papel de liha’ o sandpaper. Gawa nga ng may ‘ipin’ ito, mas umiige ang ‘kagat’o kapit ng pastel dito,” eksplika niya. Naisip ko na tulad din sa buhay, hindi puwedeng hindi ka kumapit – sa isang positibong pananalita – sa iyong kapwa. Sa madali’t sabi, kailangang kumunekta sa kapwa. “No man is an island,” ‘ika nga. Kapag walang “dikit,” eh, wala ring init ang buhay. Kaya nga ang pastel ay hango sa salitang “pastellus” na ang ibig sabihin ay paste o pandikit.

    Sa pananaw ni Boi, “Mas maganda kung may kulay na iyong background ng papel dahil lalong umaangat ang aking subject gawa ng mas angat ang highlights kumpara sa puting background.” Ganuon nga naman sa buhay. Kung gusto mong makulay ang iyong buhay ay nasa sa iyo kung lalagyan ng kulay ang background ng buhay mo at hindi na hinintayin pang dumating ito sa iyo.

    “Ang malaking inpluwensiya sa akin sa pagpinta ng pastel ay ang National Artist na si Vicente Manansala at si Romulo Olazo,” nabanggit ni Boi.

    Nuong mga ‘70s malaking tulong sa akin iyong napasama sa Saturday Group na nagkikita sa Taza de Oro sa Maynila. Napalapit din ako sa isa pang National Artist, si Cesar Legaspi, na naghahatid sa akin dahil wala pa akong sasakyan nuon. Hindi rin tumagal, napasama rin ako sa GrUPo, isang asosasyon ng mga artista na nangagsipag-aral sa UP. Hindi man ako graduate duon, tinanggap na rin ako dahil magkakaibigan din kami. Isang kasapi ng GrUPo, si Magoo Valencia, na andito rin sa U.S. kaya hanggang ngayon ay  tuloy pa rin ang samahan namin dito sa Amerika. Naruruon iyong magkakasama kami sa studio ni Raffy Maniago o sa aming ‘plein air’ painting session o pagpinta sa outdoor,” magiliw na kuwento niya.

    Para kay Boi, ang pagpipinta ay kailangan at dapat palagiang niyang gagampanan. Hindi natin puwedeng alisin ito sa kanya dahil kung magkagayon ay para bagang isa siyang isda na inalis sa tubig.

    * The opinion of this author is his/hers alone. It is not necessarily the views of Beyond Deadlines.

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    Namumulaklak ang Kalikasan*

    September 6th, 2016

    Vics-Portrait-passport-NameMASYADONG nagbabaga na ang mga balita ngayon hinggil sa droga sa Pilipinas. Naririyan din itong nalalapit na halalan sa Amerika – kanya-kanyang punahan ang bawat kampo. Ang mga giyerang nangyayari sa Middle East at ang problema sa terorismo’t mga refugees sa Europa ay walang tigil na nakikita sa TV o Facebook at iba pang social media. Nakalulungkot.

    Dahil dito dinadaanan na lang natin ang mga kagandahang araw-araw ay ibinubulalas ng Kalikasan.Wala man lang tayong isang sandali para huminto sa paglalakad at namnamin ang halimuyak ng isang rosas sa ating dinadaanan; o tingnan man lang ang ganda ng ulap o takip-silim na nasa ating harapan. Nakahihinayang – dahil malaki ang maitutulong nito sa ating kamalayan, sa ating buhay at pakikitungo sa kapwa at kapaligiran.

    Photo © Vics Magsaysay

    Photo © Vics Magsaysay

    Marami na ring pag-aaral ang naiukol tungkol sa epekto nang pagbibigay ng kaukulang atensyon sa Kalikasan. Nabasa ko nga sa National Geographic na pati pagtatanim pala ng halaman sa isang kulungan sa Amerika ay may positibong resulta sa mga bilanggo – nakabawas daw ito ng mga damdaming hindi kanais-nais na naging dahilan kaya sila nabilanggo. Ang maging “konektado” sa Kalikasan ay parang isang neutralizer sa ating mga emotional turmoil.

    Bakit nga naman hindi makaiigi gayong tayo ay iisa sa Nature o sa Kalikasan? Sa dami kasi ng ating mga iniisip, ang ating “connection” sa kalikasan ay humihina kaya ayun, stressed, may kaba palagi at hinahanap ang saya ng buhay sa pamamagitan ng sobrang pagkain, sex, pag-shoshopping, pag-iinom at ang malungkot, pag dodroga, para kumalma o makaranas ng panandaliang ligaya. Kung tayo nga naman ay laging nakatutok sa ganda ng ating kapaligiran, hindi mo na kailangang gumastos pa para maging maligaya. Hindi pa butas ang ating bulsa, tama po ba?

    Naalaala ko tuloy iyong buhay ng isang sikat na pintor, si Jackson Pollock. Halos depressed siya dahil walang nangyayaring maganda sa mga paintings niya sa New York. Sa kanyang desperasyon, pumunta siya sa isang countryside sa New Jersey. Duon ay natuto siyang magbungkal ng lupa at magtanim. Hindi nagtagal duon niya nadiskubre ang iconic style sa pagpipinta na ikinatanyag at ikinayaman niya. Ito´y isang testimonya na ang kalikasan ay may kakayahang pakalmahin at paigtingin ang ating creativity, lalo na kung ikaw ay isang artist.

    Photo © Vics Magsaysay

    Photo © Vics Magsaysay

    Kaya nga may kasabihang kung hindi ka man naniniwala sa Diyos, mas mabilis mo Siyang ”makikilala” kung ikaw ay lalangoy sa kanyang mga ginawa para sa atin – sa Kalikasan. Magiging ispiritwal ka rin dahil matutunan mo na lahat pala tayo ay iisa — maging hayop, halaman man o bato; na ang lahat ay dapat mahalin – hindi ba’t ito ang adhikain ng mga relihiyon?

    Iyong masdan mo lang ang bulaklak sa harapan mo ay nakakakalma na lalo na kung magkaroon ka ng rapport o “connection” sa kanya. Kaya nga may makikita tayo sa Rizal Park na magkalaguyo o indibidwal na ninanamnam ang nakabibighaning tanawin ng takip-silim sa Manila Bay. Animo’y nabato-balani sila sa ganda nang ipininta ng “Master Painter. Sabi nga sa Ingles, “It takes your breath away.”

    Kaya nga ngayon, usong-uso, lalo na sa mga kabataan, iyong “nature-tripping” tulad nang pagha-hiking o camping para ang mga gumagawa nito ay mapalapit sa Kalikasan. Iba rin kasi kapag ang ating likuran ay nakadikit sa lupa o sa Inang Kalikasan kapag tayo’y nakahiga rito sa halip na sa kama. May enerhiyang natatanggap tayo. Iyon lang umupo at isandal natin ang ating likuran sa malaking puno ay makakaramdam na tayo ng kaginhawan. Sa pagsusuri nga lumaabas na ito daw ay humihigop sa ating mga negative energy.

    May paborito akong spot sa may Mount Palomar sa San Diego, California. Kapag umupo ako duon sa malaking juniper tree, sa loob lang ng 15 o 30 minutos, laking gaan pagkatapos ang aking pakiramdam. Hindi ko na kailangang mag-meditate, iyong puno na ang sumasapo ng kung ano mang bigat na aking iniisip at para bang sinasabing, ”Namnamin mo na lang ang sarap ng ngayon dahil walang nakaraan, walang hinaharap; ang lahat ay nangyayari ngayon.”

    Photo © Vics Magsaysay

    Photo © Vics Magsaysay

    Kung ikaw naman ay may camera, mas magandang maire-record mo ito at tuluyang gawing immortal ang iyong mga nakita. Hindi lang iyong focus ay nasa Kalikasan sa iyong ginagawa naibubulalas mo pati ang iyong creativity at ang fulfillment na iyong mararamdaman. Hindi ito mapapantayan ng salapi.

    Kapag nakakuha ka na at naging masaya sa resulta ng litrato nanduon na iyong option na i-upload sa Facebook para naman mai-share mo ang ganda ng kalikasan sa iba. Sa halip na gulo at problema, neutralizing ang ginagawa mo. Nakakapagpasaya na tayo kapwa lalo na kung ayos ang kuha at ang subject mo ay oks rin.

    Kung ang mga tao nga lang ay laging naka-focus sa ganda ng Kalikasan, malaking tulong ito para mas mapatahimik ang ating niloloob. Kung tahimik ang kalooban, tahimik din ang isipan at kapayapaan ang lumalabas sa ating bibig at mga gawain. Mababawasan pati ang alitan sa mundo. Magiging masaya at mapagpasalamat tayo sa gandang ibinibigay ng Kalikasan dahil mas lalong maraming kaligayahan ang ating makakamit sa buhay, materyal man o hindi.

    Itanim ang pagka-giliw sa Kalikasan sa ating puso. Pag-usbong nito, ikaw, ako, tayong lahat ang makikinabang. Lalong magiging makulay at mamumulaklak ano mang ating makikita sa kapaligiran.

    * Ang mga pananaw sa artikulong ito ay sa sumulat.  Maaring hindi ito ang opisyal na posisyon ng Beyond Deadlines

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    Ang Buhay Amerika At Ang Kantang “Sukiyaki”*

    July 5th, 2016

     

    vics magsaysay1ANO nga ba ang kinalalaman ng kantang Hapong “Sukiyaki” sa ating paksa?

    Ang kanta ni Kyu Sakamoto ay sumikat sa Amerika at buong mundo nuong 1963. Isa sa pinakasikat na kantang banyaga sa Amerika at namayagpag sa “Top 100 Chart” ng mga tatlong linggo. Kahit nga hindi maintindihan ang lyrics nito ay marami pa rin ang nagkagusto.

    Pero sa ating mga Pilipino mas may angkop itong sangkap na tumutumbok sa mga buhay natin ngayon lalo na sa mga naririto sa Amerika at sa iba pang parte ng mundo.

    Ang tunay na title ng kanta ay “Ue o Muite Arukuo” at kung isasalin natin ang literal na kahulugan nito sa Pilipino ay ito: “Lumalakad akong nakataas o nakatingala sa langit ang ulo.” Kaya nga lang naging “Sukiyaki” ang kantang ito ay binago ng isang taga-Britanyang music producer na nagkagusto dito dahil paborito niya ang pagkaing Hapong sukiyaki. Isa pa, mahirap bigkasin pati ang orihinal na title nito kaya mas tamang paigsiin para mas simple sa mga hindi nakakaintindi ng salitang Nippongo o Hapon.

    May kalungkutan nga lang ang isinasaad ng kanta bagamat nakakaaliw man ang himig nito. Sa paglalakad niya daw ng nakataas ang ulo pinipilit niyang huwag tumulo o pumatak ang luha sa mga nagaganap sa buhay niya. Sa mga naririto sa Amerika maraming istoryang may kaugnayan o hindi nalalayo sa buod ng kanta ni Kyu.

    The famous Hollywood sign in California. Photo © Vics Magsaysay, Ph.D.

    The famous Hollywood sign in California. Photo © Vics Magsaysay, Ph.D.

    Sa mga nag-migrate dito sa Amerika may karamihan din ang mga naisaayos agad ang kanilang papel at umunlad ang buhay. May karamihan din ang pumasok dito na hindi pa naaayos ang kanilang papel o sa madali’t sabi ay hindi legal. Nauso na tuloy ang bansag na “TNT” o “Tago Ng Tago” kapag ang iyong papel dito ay wala pang kaayusan.

    Marami ang gumasta at nagbabakasakaling makakita ng maigi-iging buhay sa pagpunta dito sa panig ng mundo. Ang malungkot pa nga, ang mga iba ay hindi nila kasama ang kanilang mga mahal sa buhay.

    Ganuon na nga ang ikinukuwento ni Kyu sa kanta niya – pagdating daw nang gabi siya raw ay nag-iisa at lungkot na lungkot. Sino nga ba namang tao ang hindi malulungkot kung ang iyong mga mahal sa buhay o mga malapit mong kaibigan wala sa piling mo o hindi mo kasama? Bagamat may Messenger, Facetime o Viber na, iba pa rin iyong pisikal na katabi mo iyong tao. Tama ba?

    Ang malungkot o nakakatakot na parte ay iyong sirit ng kaba na baka isang araw may magsumbong sa INS (Immigration and Natural Services) at karaka-rakang damputin ka na lang at i-deport.               

    Naruruon na rin iyong baka isang araw ay may checkpoint at malaman ang estado mo. May mga State dito, tulad ng Arizona, na medyo mahigpit. Laking puhunan na salapi, panahon, pagod ang iyong inukol at ito ay karaka-rakang maglalaho sa isang iglap. Hindi lang iyon, may bahid pa ng pagkahiya dahil mabubuking sa mga kamag-anak o sa tropa ang hindi kanais-nais na magaganap.

    Ganuon pa man, ang iyong luha ay ayaw mo pa ring patuluin. Bagkus ipinakikita mo sa iyong mga naiwan sa Pilipinas na oks ka pa rin. Nanduon iyong ipakita mo sa Facebook o ipaalam sa sulat ang iyong mga nabiling gamit o SUV nang sa gayon ay matuwa sila at malamang ayos naman pala ang buhay mo. Nanduon din iyong walang puknat na padala mo ng Balikbayan box na halos pumutok na sa daming laman ng karne norte, Spam, tsokolate, damit, laruan, pagkaing isteytsayd ‘ika nga. Mga pabilin nilang mga electronic gadget at iba pang doodads, tamang sukat na mga sapatos na pinaghirapan mong hanapin ay kasama rin.

    Ganuong ka kasigla sa pagbili ng mga bagay na alam mong magpapaligaya sa kanila. Sa iyo, ang kaligayahan nila ay iyo na rin kaligayahan. Maluwalhati ang iyong pakiramdam kada makabili ka ng iyong ipapadala. Kaya ka nga naririto ay upang tuparin ang misyong ito: mabigyan ang katuparang maiangat ang kundisyon nila sa buhay. Matikman rin nila ang luho ng makadamit, makakain o makagamit ng kasangkapan tulad ng computer, iPhone o LED TV na mahirap nilang mabili kung aasahan lang nila ang kanilang kita sa bansa. Nanduon na rin ang iyong mithiing isang araw ay mayruon na rin silang sariling tahanan at hindi na nangungupahan.

    Pero lahat ng kinang na nakikita ng mga naiwan na mahal sa buhay sa Pilipinas ay may kaukulang dilim din sa mga naririto na kayod ng kayod. Para nga mas malaki ang kita marami ang nagdadalawa o higit pa ng trabaho. May mga dose oras o mahaba pa ang trabaho para mas marami ang maipadala sa mga naiwan. Kaya pagkatapos ng trabaho patang-pata ang katawan at nilulunod na lang sa panunuod ng TV o paggamit ng iPad, laptop o smartphone.

    May mga ibang nuon pang hindi pa uso ang Uber ay ipinapasada na ang kanilang sasakyan sa mga kaibigan na walang kotse. (Dito kasi sa Los Angeles kapag wala kang sariling sasakyan napakahirap.) Nakakaragdag din nga naman sa maipapadala sa Pilipinas. Ano mang gimik kailangang gumimik para kumita – ganyan talaga katindi ang determinasyon ng ating mga kababayan.

    Kaya nga sa kalagitnaan at dulo ng kanta ni Kyu nanduon pa iyong sumisipol siya. Iyan nga ang sabi sa Ingles na “taking everything in stride.” Huwag nga namang masyadong dibdibin ang sitwasyon at kung hindi, talo o buryong ka. Gawin ano man ang gagawin sa ngayon para makapagpadala o makaipon – ito na ang kanilang isinasapusong mantra. Yup, kaya uulitin ko na ganuon talaga kasidhi ang determinasyon ng ating mga kababayan para maiangat ang buhay ng kanilang mga naiwan.

    Ang Pilipinas ngayon ay tumatanggap ng halos $26 bilyon kada taon gawa nga ng mga OFWs o Overseas Foreign Workers. Halos kalahati nito ay galing dito sa Amerika. Dahil nga rito ang ekonomiya ng bansa ay umuunlad gawa nang matinding sakripisyo ng mga nagsisipag-trabaho sa ibang bansa. Angkop lang na ituring na ang mga OFWs ay ang ating mga bagong bayani. Hindi lang pawis, hirap ang puhunan nila; ang mabigat, ay ang emotional effect nito sa kanila.             

    Iyong mapawalay sa mahal sa buhay ay napakahirap talaga. May mga iba na dahil matagal magkahiwalay, ang isa ay nakahanap na tuloy ng bagong partner. May mga nauwi at biglang nasorpresa na may bago na palang kinakasama ang kanilang asawa. May iba naman na sa pag-uwi sa atin namamangha na lang ang iniwang kabiyak dahil may kasama ng iba at may dala-dala pang anak – ito ang pinakamasakit sa mga naiwan. 

    Sa darating na halalan, marami pa rin ang umaasang ang manalo ay si Hillary Clinton. Kung siya kasi ang mananalo, umaasa pa rin silang bagamat nahinto ang panukalang DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) at JAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and lawful Permanent Residents) sa Korte Suprema ay baka magawan pa rin ni Clinton na maisaayos dahil ito ang kanyang binitawang pangako sa mga botante lalo na nang nandito siya sa Los Angeles kamakailan lamang. Ang muog ng paniniwalang maaayos rin ang kanilang papel dito sa darating na panahon ay hindi pa rin naaantig. 

    Kung maayos nga naman ang papel nila dito hindi na kailangang “maglakad ng nakatingala” ang bawat isa sa kanila upang sa gayon ay maiwasan ang pagbagsak o pagtulo ng luha sa kanilang pisngi. Hindi na rin kailangang magtago. Matuwid na pati ang tingin sa nilalakaran, may ngiti na sa labi, wala nang bahid ng kalungkutan sa gabi gawa ng kanyang mga malapit sa puso kaniig na rin nila. 

     

     

    * Ang mga pananaw sa artikulong ito ay sa sumulat.  Maaring hindi ito ang opisyal na posisyon ng Beyond Deadlines.

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