happy thoughts and worthy causes

Archive for October, 2011

Going Green

My crop protection professor used to say there are no such things as “weeds”. No matter how bothersome or undesirable a plant looks or smells, once it has a purpose or use, it is no longer a weed that needs to be exterminated. In fact, for Ilocanos some weeds are actually considered “vegetables” because they were proven to be edible and perfect ingredients for some bagoong-based viands.

When I was an undergrad in UP Los Banos, I always had a preference for my animal science courses. Since I was an Agribusiness Management major, I had no choice but to get an equal amount of crop science subjects. After the basic botany class, I took the required crop science 1A and 1B which taught me the basic stages of cultivation and modes of propagation. I had to learn how to plow my assigned plots, plant my seedlings, as well as water and fertilize them.  I have to admit, I didn’t like going down into the rice paddies. I sank deep into the mud, sinking until my knees and was unable to move. It was like quicksand!

Plantation crops were different though; whether they were fruit crops or vegetables. I enjoyed watching them grow and bear fruit, and come harvest time, I can actually eat my organically-grown crops. It took me years to realize that I actually have a “green thumb” when I grew my own vegetable garden at our townhouse in Tandang Sora. The small parcel of land in our frontage was maximized by pots filled with basil, cherry tomatoes, chilli peppers, camote tops, interspersed with American roses and some succulents like aloe vera and cacti.

For city-dwellers who want to “go green”, this system goes well with recycling. You can actually grow your own plants from seeds you can dry out from kitchen scraps. Take note of this every time you cut some tomatoes, chilli or bell peppers, and calamansi – set aside their seeds before you start cooking the fleshy parts. 

While I wasn’t as well-versed in hardwood growth as forestry majors were, I was familiar enough with some fruit-bearing trees which served multiple purposes in farms – whether as property markers, windbreakers, or to prevent erosion of steep, mountainous terrains. Nowadays, during my morning walks at Ecopark, I recognize some coconut, mango, santol, kaimito, langka and pomelo trees. With summer coming in a few more weeks, I see these plants slowly growing their fruits.

Again, here is where I appreciate recycling – organic parts like peels and rinds can go to the composting pit to serve as natural fertilizers as some future time, while the remains of eaten fruits are seeds which can be re-planted. This reinforces the idea that some things are not really trash or garbage because they still have uses.

As such, my morning walks are everyday reminders of these things. I have learned to value nature again, and to have a newfound respect for living things.

When Boys Become Husbands and Fathers

My father was born to a generation when having males in the family was given such a premium. Of 10 siblings, he had merely 3 sisters and the rest were brothers. Surely, it made my grandfather proud to have so many sons to carry his name. And when it was my Dad’s turn, he fretted that he can only rely on Manong Butch’s line to continue his surname. But Tudoy took a long time coming. Poor Manong Butch was already under so much pressure and people were speculating about his teenage-onset of mumps. My Dad was getting impatient for a grandson, although Angel, the first grandchild courtesy of Ate Annette, was already around. One day, I replied to my Dad’s chagrin, “so what’s the problem..I’ll just have a kid out-of-wedlock so he can carry your last name.” That shut him up for a time.

Finally, Tudoy came along, followed by the twins, Michael and Mark, c/o Ate Marie. Daddy didn’t mind trekking to Pasig back when it was a no man’s land, or flying to faraway San Carlos City in Negros if only to see his grandsons. Be careful what you wish for they say, and when Roy followed a few years later, and then Marben came along, and finally Arneil arrived…Daddy finally had a dream come true. Manong Butch came through for him after all!

Sadly,our father didn’t see Gayle’s own contribution to the bunch. He was several years in the ground already when Troy and Tristan came along. But oh, I can imagine what delight it would have been for him to see his grandsons, spoiling them with toy guns, toy cars or whatever games he thinks “appropriate” for boys albeit “un-politically correct” nowadays.

Fortunately, this generation of young boys grew up in an environment “dominated” by women. There were just simply too many females in the family, you see. Besides the grandma and the mom, they were around too many Titas and aunts, yayas and maids, cousins and playmates who were girls. So I do hope they learned a thing or two about dealing with females.

Recently, my nephew Tudoy married his long-time GF, Hani, while Michael became a new father to a baby boy. From what I know, both Tudoy and Michael are comfortable in the kitchen. Ate Rhoda even has a story of Tudoy knowing how to sew back a button on her blouse. But if the women in the family had their way, our ideas about what a good husband and father is, would be our greatest legacy to these boys. Remember that spouses or life- partners are to be loved and respected always, never to be hit or taken for granted; while children are to be loved and cared for to the point of much self-sacrifice; providing for their needs is of utmost importance, so strive to give them the best. Even if boys-will-be-boys, and you will have your fun and crazy days, a time will come when you need to grow up and be the men you were reared to be – husbands and fathers we could be proud of.

Indeed, behind every man is a woman who helped him become who he is. And if he turns out to be a rotten scoundrel of a man, well…that could be some woman’s fault too – probably his own mother! 😉

Letter to A Graduate (for my nephews and niece)

This summer, our family boasts of three new graduates  covering the primary, secondary, and tertiary levels. My siblings, regular, hardworking people, are very proud indeed. Like all parents, the tradition of sending your kids to school to ensure them a bright future is still considered one of life’s greatest accomplishments. And for all of us who have labored in school, graduation is more than just a culmination of all your hard work, it is a great milestone in life.

For my nephew graduating from elementary, I always told you that you should learn all the basics in science, math, history and languages already, because these details won’t change and will keep haunting you until college. Since there’s no escaping it, better learn them all now. Who knows, these information may prove useful later on. One thing for sure, sometimes a little knowledge is perfect for impressing girls.

And for having “survived” elementary when most kids are most cruel, congratulations for rising above the bullying of both teachers and classmates. At this point, you must have realized your own innate worth and goodness. Whatever your peers called you or how your teachers labelled you, the only opinion about yourself that really matters is yours. So never lose faith in yourself.

An important lesson you may have learned from all the bullying is that now you know how it feels, and the memory of that pain and torment will remind you later on in life that it’s never nice to oppress or pick on the down-trodden. The experience may have taught you about your humanity, so I never begrudged you that one time you got yourself into a fight because you defended yourself. May you show the same zeal and righteousness as you fight for the rights of others when you get older.

To my nephew graduating  high school, who was so pressured about getting into the “right” university. Know that elder siblings’ “successes” will always torment you, especially if they set such high standards. Your Dad did that to all of us six other children who followed. Only four of us managed to get into the State University as well, but no one was able to match his NSDB (now known as NSTA) scholarship. Nevertheless, the lesson is this – always be your own person. Soon you will realize that you shall follow your own Path, and your accomplishments and your failures will be your own. Things always turn out as they should in the end, and your life is what you make of it.

And to my niece in college who is so torn about choosing the best job offer.  Money is always good since a fair compensation is a measure of the hard work required of you. But be reminded that sometimes wealth is not the answer to everything. Many successful people measured their accomplishments by how much they earned; yet in the end, they still searched for that sense of fulfilment. So consider what would really make you happy too, because a meaningful job that contributes to society is never a bad deal. Always think of a job as more than just a source of income, and you will be on the right track.

To a graduate, graduation is about moving on to the next stage in your life. Relish this moment, take time to look back at what you have accomplished. It will to give you the courage to face what comes next. This is a rite of passage, and you have proven yourself worthy.

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