Tuesday, August 8, 2017

BURNT MEMORIES



SECOND WIND
Barbara C. Gonzalez
Saturday, 24 March 2007


BURNT MEMORIES


I passed it again this morning, on my way to visit my son in Alabang.  There she stood, the sad skeleton of what was once a simple large building with room for all sorts of offices on the first to the third floors and a car display area for selling cars.  It was called the Mantrade Building, at the corner of Pasong Tamo and EDSA.  At the back, up the stairs to the third floor, was Avellana & Associates, Inc., a Filipino ad agency where once upon a time I used to work.

Now of course everything is gone and what remains is the building’s skeleton.  No more floors.  Those burned.  No more ceilings or roofs, those burned too.  Every time I pass my heart is wrenched, saddened, twisted.  I stop breathing for a little while waiting for my tears to break.  It hasn’t happened.  I have not cried like I should have when the building burned.

Avellana & Associates was the first advertising agency I worked for, before it moved to Makati it was on Roxas Boulevard, at the building that now holds the Museong Pambata.  When you look at that building you will notice three long glass windows on the left.  The center window belonged to my office then, before I decided to quit and lead a domestic life with my children.  After that the agency moved to the Mantrade Building.  It started small and as business got better it grew larger and larger.  First, I worked there part time.   I was slightly unhappy in my private life but did not want to admit it.  So I decided to go back to work part time.  Then I became largely unhappy with my private life and decided to work full time.   We were all on the third floor but the office was considering expansion.  We went to Tagaytay after my relationship broke up and my private life was a mess.  Outside I looked like a whole person.  Inside I rattled like a million little pieces.  Otherwise I was profoundly grateful for my job.  It gave me an alternative to the unhappiness I felt when I stopped working.  It gave me something to do, enough money to advance the support my children required but I had a hard time getting.  It gave me a good life.

When we returned from Tagaytay I was Vice President for the Creative Services Division and our office was moved down to the mezzanine floor.  It still stands, the room that used to be my office at the left hand corner of the building but after the fire it has lost everything.  It is just barely there but when I look to see what’s left, the apparent emptiness of it, memories jump out at me.

Remember?  The Christmas party you went to dressed as a Christmas tree with a star hat that lit up on and off with Christmas tree lights that you forced one of the artists to work on for you?  You moved your home library to the room next to yours, bringing over all the books you had no room for in your new house, which was about one-tenth the size of the last house you lived in.  Remember the sorrow you felt when you came in for work and faced the room alone, the tears that would rise waiting to be shed but you insisted on swallowing?  The children enjoyed this office.  They were still small then.  Sometimes on Saturdays they would come to work with me. 
My son would come to pick me up dressed in those ridiculous little boy clothes I used to buy for him.
If you can’t find me in my office, look for me in. . .” I was telling my daughters, and the youngest said

“Never mind, Mom, we will just listen and when hear you laugh, we will open the door and there you are.”  Laughter apparently marked our lives then.

I loved my days in Avellana & Associates, the entire spectrum of those days.  Some were wonderful, others downright deplorable and miserable.  But at the end of the day we would stray into Totoy Avellana’s office and run into each other, pour scotch and the brandy, drink together and have fun.  We were such a big group then but many of them are dead now.  Boy Javier first, then after many years, Baby Lopa, Bonnie Ocampo, Bolix Suzara.  Months after my stroke, Totoy himself.

I look at the old Mantrade Building.  I remember when it turned into a construction outlet, sort of a mall of materials.  I bought my Italian kitchen appliances for my Calamba home there, somewhat in awe at what had become of the building where once I worked.

Then one morning, I passed and saw that it had burned down, had turned into the scorched skeleton of what was once a simple large building where I worked so joyfully and my heart broke at the sadness of it.  I don’t think it will stop breaking, lamenting over the wonderful memories that live there for me.  I passed it again this morning.   Again my heart broke.


Please send your comments to secondwind.barbara@gmail.com or lilypad@skyinet.net or text 0917-8155570.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

REMEMBERING OUR NICK JOAQUIN

     In her remarks for the opening program of Far Eastern University’s toast to Nick Joaquin on May 25, billed as “Remembering Our Nick,” FEU vice-president for academic affairs Dr. Maria Teresa Tinio expressed what may be the most significant initiative taken by the university with regards the late National Artist’s works.
     She announced that as new curricula and new syllabi are being crafted for the start of university education for students who had completed 12 years of basic schooling, “FEU will take this opportunity to infuse its general education curriculum with the works of Nick Joaquin.”
     In classes such as Study and Thinking Skills and Purposive Communication, Joaquin’s essays on Manila will be used as specific models of writing, even as FEU aims to build a common cultural experience for students through a canon of readings.
     “Nick Joaquin’s works will play an important part of that canon and part of that culture; no student will graduate from FEU without having had experienced Nick.”
As Nick himself would have said: Terrific! Other universities could well consider replicating this commendable initiative.
     FEU’s director of the University Research Center, Dennis Pulido, also plans to start building a Nick Joaquin resource center — “an electronic hub that will hold copies of studies about Nick Joaquin and other resources such as interviews, letters, photographs, that will help researchers come to more understanding of Nick’s works, genres, life, and times.”
     As a university that has enjoyed special ties with the most prominent Filipino writer, FEU is prepared to commit substantial resources for this undertaking.
It was Nick who wrote the lyrics of the FEU Hymn, on the prodding of his sister-in-law Sarah Kabigting Joaquin, an outstanding Speech and Drama student, for whom then university president Dr. Nicanor Reyes had the FEU Auditorium built. As current FEU president Dr. Michael Alba recalls, that auditorium became the staging ground of Portrait of the Artist as Filipino, as well as the venue of inspirational talks Joaquin gave to FEU college students.
     Nick’s translation into English of The Complete Poems and Plays of Jose Rizal was commissioned and published by FEU Publications in 1976. And on the centenary of the university’s founder, Dr. Nicanor Reyes, Sr., current chair emeritus Dr. Lourdes Reyes Montinola commissioned Nick for the biography, Mr. FEU: The Culture Hero, which was launched in February 1995.
     The morning program had UP professor emeritus Dr. Gémino H. Abad delivering the Memorial Lecture, on “Nick Joaquin the Poet,” following which the Nick Joaquin Special Collections Room on the 3rd floor of the university library, Nicanor Reyes Hall, was relaunched.
     New items added since it was opened two years ago include a bust of the writer donated by sculptor Julie Lluch, a fresh copy of Zena s Dvoma Pupkami, the Czech translation of The Woman Who Had Two Navels, donated by the Czech Ambassador Jaroslov Osla, Jr., and a copy of Pop Stories for Groovy Kids, donated by Ramon Magsaysay awardee Ligaya Amilbangsa.
Nick’s nieces, Cecile Joaquin Yasay and Charo Joaquin Villegas, led in the relaunch of the collections room, the renovation of which received sponsorship from San Miguel Corporation, as well as the relaunch at the ground floor lobby of Joaquin’s translation of Rizal’s works. On display at the same lobby was the FEU students’ art exhibit, titled “Revisioning Dona Jeronima.”
     Forthcoming activities for the continuing celebration of Nick Joaquin’s centennial include special film screenings at FEU Makati of Sari Dalena’s Dahling Nick and National Artist Lamberto Avellana’s Portrait of An Artist as Filipino, at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., respectively, on Sept. 20; and on Oct. 6, the staging at FEU Auditorium of a new adaptation of “May Day Eve” by Galleon Theatre MNL.
     For that day that launched FEU’s yearlong commemoration of a truly beloved writer, it was poet-critic Jimmy Abad who provided inimitable entertainment with his recitations from memory of Nick’s poems.
     Some lines from his lecture also resonate, as when he quoted Nick telling his sister-in-law Sarah about his considered heartland that was Intramuros: “There is so much history and culture in this small place ... this breath of the past tells us who we are and where we have come from.”
The same may be said of Far Eastern University’s well-preserved campus in Manila, with its art deco buildings now joined by a modern hall that houses the great writer’s books, papers, and other precious memorabilia.

Friday, July 14, 2017

WHAT THE IPHONE DISPLACED

     For 53 years, Jan Swain sold maps. World atlases, guide books, globes and plain old foldable paper maps of cities, states and countries. He ran The Map Store, a Milwaukee institution started by his father as Milwaukee Map Service in 1937.
      In April, the 79-year-old closed the store for good. It was something Swain said he saw coming for two decades, but it was hastened by the release of the iPhone in 2007. Map websites were already common then. You could load tiny maps on some cell phones, and GPS units were popping up in cars. But Apple's (AAPL, Tech30) larger screen and built-in Google Maps app instantly changed how people navigated.
      "You can carry the entire world with you if you want to with an iPhone," said Swain. "There's no need for these pieces of paper that people used to use. The only ones who ever buy those are age 40 and over."
      Over its ten year lifespan, the iPhone has altered many industries, for better and worse. A powerful computer you could slip into your back pocket, the iPhone chipped away at paper maps, point-and-shoot cameras, voice recorders, watches, hand-held game consoles and MP3 players like Apple's own iPod line.
       Looking back, the iPhone can seem like a revolutionary product that is entirely the result of Steve Jobs' genius. But the device was a well-timed, smartly executed culmination of multiple trends already happening in the industry.
      "The thing that Apple did super well, and I would argue better than anyone else, is they figured out the user interface for this small form factor," said Gartner analyst Tuong Nguyen.
Existing phones were already adding tiny, terrible cameras. The first iPhone shot grainy still photos with a 2-megapixel camera. People started switching from point-and-shoot cameras to smartphones even though the quality wasn't as good (yet).
      The idea that the best camera was the one already with you, popularized by Seattle photographer Chase Jarvis, meant smartphone owners were taking tons of photos with the devices. Apps like Hipstamatic and Instagram threw on "vintage" looking filters to compensate for the low resolution.
"Images aren't about megapixels and size and all those things camera companies want you to believe," said Jarvis, who is the founder and CEO of CreativeLive, which offers online photography classes. "They are about stories and moments and whether you capture them or you don't."
Last year, 24.2 million cameras were sold around the world, according to the Camera & Imaging Products Association. That's a devastating dive from 100.4 million the year the iPhone launched. Cameras with interchangeable lenses are still popular with professionals and enthusiasts, but pocket cameras have been decimated.
       And then there are the things Apple killed just with an app. Its voice recorder, while far from perfect, was convenient enough to replace tape and digital voice recorders for many. Once the App Store launched in 2008, its slew of games made pocket gaming gadgets less popular (though they're still hanging on).
      Just by putting the time on its home screen, Apple convinced some people to leave their wristwatches behind. The market stayed steady, however -- more than 1.2 billion watches are still sold every year. Apple hopes its own wrist computer, the Apple Watch, will peel off customers from companies like Rolex, Fossil and Omega.
      The company is not done. Now the iPhone is trying to replace your wallet. Apple Pay, launched in 2015, lets people pay for goods and services with their phone instead of a physical credit card or cash. Adoption is trickier, and requires major technological updates across the entire payments landscape.
      Some industries have adapted. Sanborn, once the largest paper map maker in the U.S., has switched its focus to LiDAR and digital mapping. But small companies like Swain's have had to shut down.
      "That's the way life goes. There's an awful lot of industries that have come and gone," said Swain. "People who made buggies and horse whips went out of business when the car came along."














Tuesday, June 20, 2017

THE PACKAGE



THE PACKAGE
Norma Sanchez– flight attendant, Filipina, newly hired
Roger Clark, American, veteran purser
Airline -  CX
Garrido – Chinese businessman from Hongkong
-----------------------------
The aircraft had just settled to a stop in their Manila airport tarmac when, after all the passengers had disembarked, the purser, Roger, spotted a small packaged wrapped in plastic in one of the business class seats.

“Miss Sanchez,” Roger calls out to Norma by the pilot’s area putting her things together in preparation to leave the aircraft. “I found this package in business class seat 301, kindly check it out and give it to the authorities when you leave.”

Norma, recently hired just less than a year ago after her training in Hongkong, was anxious to know too and thereby proceeded to get the package.  She did not open it.

Moments later, Norma disembarks with her usual carryall, overcoat, and hand carry to proceed to the immigration desk of the Manila Intl. Airport. She was toting the package still unopened when she reaches the desk for her turn to be checked.

Sir, we found this package in our flight CX 830 from Singapore. The purser asked me to submit this to authorities that are why I am giving them to you.

The seemingly tired but not rough Manila immigration officer took hold of the package asking her 

“did you check what it is, mam?”

“No sir”

Then the officer peeled off the tape and unraveled the package which contained a smaller bag that contained diamonds.  “These are diamonds.  Let me get your full name and flight number and where I can get in touch with you.:

To which Norma submits her full name and other details especially her cellphone number. Then he was let go for the line she was in had swelled a bit for other passengers anxious to get to their destinations.

At about 2:30 p.m. Norma got a call in her cell while she was at home with her parents with whom she has lived all her life. The fact is that she has not entertained the idea of having a family for she wants a career in being a Cathay Pacific flight attendant.

The voice sounded clear and authoritative. “May I speak with Miss Norma Sanchez?” asked the male voice.

“Speaking” answers Norma for she was expecting the call.

“This is Col. Alfonso Nebrida of the Philippine Immigration Department.  We have the package you found in your CX flight 830 from Singapore. We want you to come over right now to our offices in the Port Area of the Manila Harbor. I am on the second floor. “And without waiting for her reply, hung up.

So conscientious was Norma with her job and so aware that she must do a good job being new the position, she readily left and took a taxi towards the Immigration Office of Col. Nebrida.

Besides she did not want to jeopardize her job which she loved very much, so any possibility of a risk she wanted to eliminate.

Col. Nebrida, was every that military had to offer – crisp uniform with the attached medals, awards, etc. quite tall – 5’10’ for a Filipino. “Hello, Miss Sanchez,” he greeted the attendant and waved her to a chair well positioned to face the officer.

Who else knows about this package? “ asks the officer.

The pursuR sir, Mr. Roger Clark. Who was on duty in this flight.

“ No one else?” asks the officer.

“No sir.” Replies Norma. She was ill at ease seated there not knowing what was to come and her feeling of insecurity was mounting moment by moment.

“We think these are precious diamonds from Singapore, Ms. Sanchez, and we have submitted them to the gemology section of our office tasked with this kind of work. According to policy gems are taxable when they arrive in this country.  We expect their report momentarily. Meantime, would like some coffee? “ asks the officer.

Then the Colonel added, “Did anyone call for the package yet?

“No one sir.” Answers Norma.

At this point the colonel stood up from his desk, lighted a cigarette and motioned Norma to get up and follow him.  He then led her to the conference room nearby and within view through the glass pane from Col. Nebrida office. She seated her there where she could wait for the report, have coffee or just read magazines.

Meanwhile, she got a call in her cellphone from Purser Clark stating that the owner of the package, a Chinese businessman claimed it and was coming over to retrieve it.

Norma interrupted Roger and said that the package with the diamonds was being examined at the Gemology department and she was waiting for the report at the colonel’s office.
Roger hangs up and moments later call again.

“Mr. Garrido is waiting for our call when the package is released.” Roger says and then hangs up.

Tension in Norma’s heart was rising and was not sure what would become of her and her new position. She just could not let her parents down. She therefore begun to pray for help from the Lord.
Soon, Roger calls again tell Norma that Mr. Garrido mentioned a pistol inside the package. If we found it.

Norma froze. “I did not find any pistol Roger you know that.  Did you?”

Roger answers in the negative and hangs up.

According to Philippine law, smuggling of firearms brings with it a heavy penalty including jail time. Again, Norma was already having her cold sweat but continues praying.

Soon, Purser Roger arrives unannounced at the office of Col. Nebrida together with the Chinese businessman. Introductions were made all around and then when seated by the conference room, col. Nebrida said that the gemology officers have checked the stones and were coming over to join them.

In a few moments, an officer of the gemology department arrives with the package stating that they were not real diamonds but plastic ones only.

All looked at Mr. Garrido who admitted that the diamonds were plastic ones which he wanted to collect and had no commercial value.

When Roger asked the man about the pistol which was not in the package, Mr. Garrido sheepishly smiled and looked down on his shoes and muttered “Solly, I forgot to get the pistol from the safety deposit box in Singapore where I placed it for security reasons.”

Everyone looked at every around, with the colonel smiling  in a kind of embarrassed smile in behalf of the Chinese gentlemen and soon bade goodbye to Norma and Roger.

+++

Thursday, June 15, 2017

A loving tribute to her father, by Cristina, our second child

Dear Dad,

I do not need to wait for Sunday to express my wishes for you on Father's Day......

From the time I was born until this present time, I have always had positive thoughts of you.  I know you are not perfect but to me you can do no wrong.  That's because you generously gave your all in providing for the family when we were growing up. You were always loving and was never afraid to show your affection.  You were always hardworking too, at one point I remember you had three jobs just to make ends meet. So you see, in my eyes you are "almost" perfect.  Not every child has been blessed with a Dad like you.  I was always, and still am, very proud of you Dad.

So on this coming Father's Day, know that you deserve all the best wishes that are heading you way.  You are one of a kind and I am so blessed to have you as my Dad.

Smile! You are warmly thought of always - love you Daddy-O!

Hugs hugs hugs 😊
Cristina

Monday, June 12, 2017

Rhoda is our niece, daughter of Zenaida M. Evans.

Dear Tito Tony,

I'm sorry to hear that Tita Chita's absence is bringing you discomfort.  I commend you for giving her the space to travel and to do what she loves.  It is very brave and selfless of you to do that.

I wake up every morning looking forward to your email.  I am uncertain where you find all the wise words that you share with us and I want to let you know that they make a difference -- in my life anyway.  I will be looking back at your emails for many years and may decide to send the same to my kids in the future.

You are a remarkable man and you continue to touch many with your words and sentiments.

Hang in there, Tito Tony.  Glad that you can see Tita Chita's adventures in Facebook.  

Hugs,
Rhoda

Conchita Razon is a childhood friend of the family

Milestones

The last time I was in Atlanta, my grand nephew was a junior at the University of Georgia, majoring in Broadcast Journalism. He graduated just before I returned. Next week he leaves for Denver on his first job assignment. He found an apartment, and is ready to move in, just like a grown up.
His dad will help him on the overnight drive from Atlanta and his mom will fly over just to see that he has not overlooked the essentials. That’s what moms and dads do.

I imagine they are again feeling the anxiety that attacks when a chick leaves the nest. At the same time as they burst with pride and can’t wait to tell all creation how their son is now on his own, there are tears that must remain unshed; except perhaps in the solitude of their now very quiet home.
As I watch them prepare for the big move, I wonder, what are the wise words one can say to a young man at this stage of his life? Are the things he learned at your knee still fresh in his mind? Did your counsel serve him well?

Are there any nuggets of wisdom that remain unspoken?
College is done. There is no more allowance from mom and dad. He will start “earning a living”. He will soon have to choose between the fun of a movie and burgers and the price of a full tank of gas. Will he have enough? The dad suggests a budget. .

Mom worries. Will he eat properly? Junk food is abundant and affordable. Will he miss home cooked meals? It is cold in Denver. Will he be warm enough? She packs another comforter. I am willing to bet she would move to Denver in a heartbeat.

And my sister quietly stashes more English pastilles in a goody-bag as she prays for her second grandson, now all of an adult at age 22.

The scenario is familiar. I feel the helplessness of the parents as they slowly realize that there is someone else now at the helm of this ship that is about to sail. They must turn over the wheel to a young man whose excitement spills over, whose confidence overwhelms, and whose hand is no longer theirs to hold.

I advise the parents not to fret. The seas are not as uncharted as they seem. This young man has sailed them every day, in his imagination. He may have to rough it. But it is his time to conquer the waves and make his dreams a reality.

And even while the scene unfolds, a grand niece, her husband and two-year old son have left Georgia to settle in Florida. And her mother wonders why and worries. She too would like to pack her bags and move along with them. But she knows she must watch them go, wish them well and bravely wave goodbye.

Someone once said: “It happens to everyone as they grow up. You find out who you are and what you want, and then you realize that people you’ve known forever don’t see things the way you do. So you keep the wonderful memories, but find yourself moving on”.
Truly all the older folks can do is whisper a prayer. Why beset them with phantoms of problems that may never even happen?

Weren’t we all, once upon a time, hell bent on the path we had chosen and certain that no one knew better than we did? Nothing and no one could dampen our spirits. Nothing and no one better not even try.

It has not changed. The drama continues. And the older generation has to step aside and watch as the young ones go and make their own way. It is difficult. Often painful. But there is really no choice.
And I remember reading from the Native American Code of Ethics. To the parents it says:
“Children are the seeds of our future. Plant love in their hearts and water them with wisdom and life’s lessons. When they are grown, give them space to grow.

And it instructs the children: “Search for yourself, by yourself. Do not allow others to make your path for you. It is your road, and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you.”

Global warming

The other day I read about a chunk of ice, the size of the state of Delaware that is breaking away from Antartica and is ready to fall into the sea. Other details were quite disconcerting although I can’t even imagine what a “10 cm rise in global sea levels” would mean.

I must admit that all this about global warming and climate change is difficult to understand. The minute the subject comes up, something in my mind seems to shut off. My friend tells me that it is my “denial mechanism”. My nephew sincerely thinks it is a hoax. And yet, others are looking for a “safe place”. What is the real score?

The next day the headlines carried news about the U.S. breaking away from the Paris Climate Agreement. The arguments are never ending. Was it a mistake to pull out?
And then I hear that a lady we know who earns her keep giving lectures about climate change does not really believe it is happening.

I am more confused than ever.
And then I read someone’s post online.
It is an Old Cree Indian Proverb.
“Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize we can’t eat money.”

God help us all.