Monday, January 30, 2012

My First Brawl

At four years of age, I went to nursery school at the parish convent. My first teacher was Mrs. Lucina Alday who lives in the same street where my father built a new house for us. My favorite school mate was a curly haired kid named Hector. He was very talkative and always had a running nose. I envied kids with running noses and wondered why I didn’t suffer the same privilege.

One day, during the customary recess, I noticed a group of four or five boys at the church patio.
Hector was one of them and he seemed to have a nice discussion going on with another boy named Jimmy. I approached hoping to take part in their small convention. As I drew near, I heard Hector tell Jimmy “How about this one, will you fight him?”

Whatever dispute they had then, I did not have any idea. To this day, I still wonder what in Hector got us into doing what we did.

Before I knew what was happening, Jimmy and I were throwing fists at each other. Goodness, I never had any idea what fighting was all about. There was no television then and any form of physical combat was not in my vocabulary. But I did lock his neck in one arm and pummeled his head with the other.

Blood gushed out of his nose. No, I was not surprised even if that was the first time in my life that I saw blood. I must’ve thought it was just another case of a running nose.

I don’t know if I was delighted and had no any intention of stopping the fight. I never thought that I should go to my corner. No, I had no intention of allowing my opponent a chance to get his second wind.

Thank heavens, some of the other boys had the sense to stop the fight. But I was not mean. I was just a four year old who didn’t know what was going on.

PHOTO: PandAcan Catholic Kindergarten (circa 1948).  Front Row: Val Atienza and Jimmy Fajardo (2nd and 3rd from left).  Second Row: Vic Cruz, Pepe Bunda, Jose Carreon and Mrs. Lucing Alday (1st, 4th, 5th and 6th from left).  Third Row: Christia Umali, Erlana Gillo (3rd and 6th from left).  Fourth Row: Hector Kulot and Bayani Beltran.

First Published on June 16, 2006

Friday, January 27, 2012

For Want Of A Nail

Calesas are horse drawn carriages that was once the mode of transport in Manila.  This horse unshods a shoe as the cochero tries a farrier's job of shoeing the horse in the middle of Orosa Street at Rizal Park.  Reminds one of that proverbial rhyme on the importance of little things.

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Rainbow Passage

When the sunlight strikes raindrops in the air, they act as a prism and form a rainbow. The rainbow is a division of white light into many beautiful colors. These take the shape of a long round arch, with its path high above, and its two ends apparently beyond the horizon. There is, according to legend, a boiling pot of gold at one end. People look, but no one ever finds it. When a man looks for something beyond his reach, his friends say he is looking for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Throughout the centuries people have explained the rainbow in various ways. Some have accepted it as a miracle without physical explanation. To the Hebrews it was a token that there would be no more universal floods. The Greeks used to imagine that it was a sign from the gods to foretell war or heavy rain. The Norsemen considered the rainbow as a bridge over which the gods passed from earth to their home in the sky. Others have tried to explain the phenomenon physically. Aristotle thought that the rainbow was caused by reflection of the sun’s rays by the rain.

Since then physicists have found that it is not reflection, but refraction by the raindrops which causes the rainbows. Many complicated ideas about the rainbow have been formed. The difference in the rainbow depends considerably upon the size of the drops, and the width of the colored band increases as the size of the drops increases. The actual primary rainbow observed is said to be the effect of super-imposition of a number of bows. If the red of the second bow falls upon the green of the first, the result is to give a bow with an abnormally wide yellow band, since red and green light, when mixed, form yellow. This is a very common type of bow, one showing mainly red and yellow, with little or no green or blue.

The Rainbow Passage is one of the most common standard reading passages used to test an individual’s ability to produce connected speech. It was designed to contain almost all the English phonemes (it’s missing ʒ and the glottal stop).  It is a public domain text, can be found on page 127 of the 2nd edition of Grant Fairbanks’ Voice and Articulation Drillbook. New York: Harper & Row.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Lerma's Rainbow Over Sampaloc Lake

When the price of gasoline was less than a peso, it was very reasonable to drive around the country side just for the sheer pleasure of driving.   I love to stop by San Pablo just to admire the peace and quiet that Sampaloc Lake instills.  I didn’t know that there were actually seven lakes until many decades later when Pomping Saulo, owner of a local Mr. Donut store, went on an excursion to see the lakes.

And much much later, my friend Lerma Prudente took some photographs of Sampaloc Lake.  Was it the lake or the rainbow that was the subject of the photo? With the innocence of a girl scout, Lerma bridged the quiet lake with color.  Never mind if fish pens desecrated the stillness of the lake.  Never mind if there were more structures at the perimeter of Sampaloc.  It was a good shoot and it makes one feel good.

Rainbow photography can be a difficult task.  First, you have to have a rainbow. Experience tells me it’s not that easy to hunt for one.  I was once a shutter hunting for rainbows with a Nikon F Photomic T and a 28 mm wide angle lens.  But whenever one appeared, the old Nikon was not there. 

Lerma’s rainbow hits a mountain at the horizon but where the other leg is keeps you in suspense. Her other two shoots pan to the other leg.  It's not easy to cover the whole arc even with a 28 mm lens on a 35 mm camera. A 19 mm wide angle lens or less should be able to capture the 84° angle of view.  She had four exposures, two showing the left foot and two showing the right foot, all shown here.  I particularly like one which shows the left leg stepping on the mountain. The leaves on the foreground is just right and in keeping with the artist’s technique of creating depth on two dimensions.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Bonnet, Crossbeak and Bone

First time I stumbled upon the name was in the late eighties. Crossbeak was one of three whales trapped in the Arctic ice on October 1988.   An Alaskan Indian who saw the whales called for help.  Eskimos responded with chainsaws and pick axes to cut the ice and give more breathing holes to Putu, Siku and Kanik, the names given by their Eskimo rescuers.

Biologists, environmentalists and media later joined the fray and gave the mammals their stage names, Bonnet, Crossbeak and Bone and the rescue operations became transformed to a P.T. Barnum Circus complete with side shows. Whales getting trapped in ice is not a rare phenomenon in the Arctic.  Polar bears, sharks and orkas are known predators of animals trapped in ice.  Whatever, the name Crossbeak struck my fancy and used it as my own nom de guerre. 

Consider these:  an Alaska National Guard helicopter armed with a five-ton concrete ice crusher; a pipeline firm's 11 ton ice-breaking "Archimedian Screw Tractor"; de-icing machine suppliers; a hover barge; a Russian ice-breaker; and hundreds of people including reporters who covered the charade.  Not to be outdown, President Ronald Reagan appears on TV telling rescue workers that our "hearts are with you and our prayers are also with you."

The  National Marine Fisheries biologist coordinating the rescue remarked "This is completely out of proportion."