Preparing the Soil for Planting


How straight are your furrows?

How straight are your furrows?

My father, who loved to work the land growing cash crops, used to say, “When you plow the field, never look back to keep your furrows straight.” Over time I have reflected on his words and I’ve come up with my interpretation using it as a metaphor.

Progress connotes looking ahead in a forward direction being aware of the side views. Those who keep looking back – either because of nostalgia, or misplaced sentimentality, or wishing things could be as they used to be – seem to stagnate and languish. In the Army when the drill instructor barks, “Mark Time,” the men march in place, never making forward progress. Looking back is like marking time. It’s the hamster on a treadmill routine. Also, those who move forward while looking back usually end up in the ditch or in a collision.

Preparing the field for planting is what we do when we help these bright kids who come from poor families get a high school education thru financial help. We inculcate in them education as an important change agent or as a way to achieve freedom. Their young, receptive, and eager-to-learn minds, are like the fertile fields. We plow the furrows straight, not crooked – readying them for planting the seeds of knowledge and wisdom. We keep our gaze set to the future, looking ahead and forward, exemplifying how important is self-discipline and avoiding distraction.

Our bright kids need financial help badly to finish high school. Won’t you please help by DONATING to the scholarship fund? Thank you.

Some Things Don’t Change


IndiaFruitStandWQOkay you are here. Well, what do you think?

Without zooming in to the picture and closely investigating the pasted bills on the walls, can you tell where this fruit stand is just by looking at the bananas, the structure itself and the bicycle and motorcycle in front? You bet you can.

I looked at this picture and immediately jumped on choice (a) Irisan road to Baguio City. These fruit stands dot the roadside from Bauang, Naguilian to Moonglo, to Irisan and so on. The structure looks the same, the thatched nipa roof is the same, the vegetation is the same. You get the picture. But, just to keep things straight, this fruit stand is in India. Yes, India. It could be in Bangalore, Madras, or even close to the Taj Mahal.

And for that matter, this fruit stand could be in Ulan Bator, Mandalay, the Silk Road, or it could even be in Sr i-langka or Java. I saw a fruit stand just like it in Costa Rica up on a mountain road somewhere towards San Jose. This same type of fruit stand can be found in many parts of the Philippines, in Nueva Ecija, Abra, Sorsogon, Cagayan de Oro. You can find this fruit stand in the outskirts of Singapore, or in the New Territories outside Kowloon.

There are some things that don’t change. In my experience, when I come to a place or structure that shares the same features of the places and buildings reminding me of home I feel a strange sense of déjà vu. The sensation is strange because you know you stand on strange soil yet your eyes perceive familiar sights. The atmosphere suddenly becomes charged with a mixture of nostalgia, homesickness, maudlin and sentimental emotions. There you stand, transfixed by your surroundings in a timeless moment of eternity.

SAS Personnel Day Celebration


SASPersonnelDayWhen I attended St Augustine School back in the ’50s it was a gender segregated school. By this I mean the girls had their buildings and grounds and the boys had the church plaza and their boy’s department building by the belfry. It was a different world. A world without girls is not a natural world. To this day as I reflect on those bygone days of high school, I can conclude that gender segregation deprived us boys of an opportunity to develop social skills specially with the opposite sex.

But hey, that’s neither here nor there, and besides this is not the subject of this piece. The only SAS personnel when I attended SAS were the ladies who helped the Sisters in the convent. I remember one of them and her name was Agatuna. She spoke very little English and some disjointed Ilocano. But she managed to get work done from us kids in the book binding trade. She assisted Mother Urban in managing the book returns, refurbishment and rebinding, and text book re-issuance at the beginning of the school year.

We were just kids, day dreamers and playful boys who knew nothing about life and reality. We traipsed through high school and worked revitalizing those books out of sheer fear of Mother Urban who had a mustache and a goatee. She was tough. One look from her spelled spiritual death you had to go see Father Carlos to get back into the church’s good graces. Agatuna was the “good cop” in that Mother Urban-Agatuna tandem. Agatuna suffered much from our juvenile derision and mild rebellion but she got the work done by threatening to report us to Mother Urban for our sloppy work.

In my memories, Agatuna, SAS Personnel of long ago did a splendid job helping the Nuns run the daily operations at St Augustine School. In many ways she counseled us, she showed us how to refurbish the books properly, showed us true loyalty and respect for authority, exemplified for us the spirit of reverence for the sacred; she showed us self-discipline. I am grateful for the time I worked under Agatuna’s tutelage and although she didn’t have a degree in Psychology she always knew how to give public recognition for a job well done and how to criticize in private. That experience, to me, has proved to be invaluable.

Thank you SAS personnel for continuing with the excellent tradition of service.