From the same source come both blessing & curd

From soybean to soyamilk

I have been buying taho (a gel the Chinese make from soy beans and sell to Filipinos at home or on the street) for years from someone from Santa Cruz, the capital of Laguna. Weeks ago, he asked if I were interested in buying tokwa (bean curd). I ordered; it was good. The other week, he suddenly asked if I were interested in buying soya milk (in a 1.5 Coke plastic bottle). I ordered; it was good. Now, that’s marketing: multiplying your products. From the same source come both blessing and curd.

***

I practice bad economics

We live in a row of apartments. We are in two doors, #4 and #5 (we’re a big family); #6 has been bought out and converted into a house, store and bodega all rolled into one. You don’t notice but #6 is rich enough. You can buy things there at wholesale prices. So, a dozen of Milo packets costs 44 pesos. In the small store across the street, a stone’s throw away, ten of those costs 50 pesos – I know because I just bought them. And why do I buy retail when I can buy wholesale and save? I don’t want to save money. I want to save the small store. That’s bad economics, but I feel good.

***

A conspiracy of blogs

Today, Monday, 2005 August 1, I decided to completely redo my first blogspot, Compuser_Says, with its total of 68 blogs. I needed 3 hours to do that. The result? I have recreated that one into 7 blogspots (this item will go into #7 of course):

 

(1) Compuser-Says – now entirely dedicated to entries to build The Compuser’s Dictionary, the virtual pages containing my original unorthodox definitions of old terms and orthodox definitions of new ones I invent from time to time.

(2) Creative_Unthink – unconventional thoughts about a lot of subjects, dealing with destructive ideas (from other people) in a constructive manner (mine).

(3) GMA_My_President – dedicated to the lady who I believe can still be a great President. It must be a world’s first.

(4) Heroes_Anti_Heroes – my own public bulletin board with messages calling for heroes great and small, and at the same time hopefully discouraging the anti-heroes. What would Jose Rizal and the Propaganda Movement have done if they could do the blog? Surfing, I can see the radicals have adopted the blog as their own.

(5) Creative_Write_Edit_Publish – my own ideas for creative writing and creative editing – preferably via the computer; and creative publishing – preferably not Pagemaker, because that one’s a woman: so beautiful and so complicated. At 65, I don’t have time to learn to unravel the entangled, I don’t have to find my way in mazy alleys.

(6) The_Word_Professor – my proselytizing for intelligent word processing and sharing experiences and discoveries using the computer and Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Word.

(7) Stories_Of_My_Life – where I talk about my private self in public view, especially about lessons I have to learn.

 

Am I reinventing myself in blogs? Yes. But it is more that I am sharing more of myself to more people simultaneously, instantaneously. All those blogspots I am using to drive home messages, insights, lessons, prognostications. Right now, with the insanity of the conflagration whose flame is continually being fed by the confluence of conspiracies surrounding GMA, I’m glad I can contribute my own 7 different voices in the name of sanity (not only of my own), via my own conspiracy of blogs.

 

If I may use a more popular metaphor, a proverb from the Chinese, with each of my blogs I am not cursing the darkness; instead, I am lighting a candle in the dark. It’s a small candle but, hey, it’s one of a thousand points of light. By itself, it doesn’t fill the darkness, but it fills my heart.

***

At Yahoo, I found myself

I began blogging officially 14 July 2005. It had taken a year or two for my son Jomar to convince me to just do it and blog. Two or three days later, I was already thinking – why didn’t I do this months before, years before? Now I’m thinking: Blogging is the best thing that ever happened to a non-published writer like me.

 

When they realize the power that is now in their hands, and that it’s all free, you know how beginner bloggers are – excited to see their names onscreen, then excited to know to have been read and/or commented upon. So on my second week of blogging almost every day, I thought of searching for me. I went to Google and typed this – “Frank Hilario” GMA – (note the double quotes), because I know I have my real name in there and I have a blog or two on my President GMA. Google couldn’t find me, and I know Google Advanced Search like I know my un-advanced cellphone (I send traditional English text messages in complete words accompanied by correct English grammar and punctuation). I tried again; I was still missing. I tried for 2 or 3 days to find me, but as far as Google was concerned, I was a person missing in action (MIA). I was MIA when I know I was in there somewhere. I was extremely disappointed; after all, I had extremely high regards for Google. Why couldn’t Google find me and my blogs? If Google can’t find me, how can anyone find met at all? So I was wasting my time blogging because my blogs might as well have been at the edge of the universe, unreachable even by electronic hands, in virtual space virtually invisible.

 

I didn’t think of stopping blogging because of the failure of Google Search. But I thought of the enemy, Yahoo Search and, so again I typed “Frank Hilario” GMA and, lo and behold, Yahoo found me! Thank God for enemies. I forgot to thank Yahoo – if you’re 65, you forget many things. I looked for a way to send an email to Google management, saying that if Yahoo is still using Google as its search engine, what is wrong with Google? And then again, perhaps Yahoo just found its own smart search engine, or Google is biting more than it can chew, or Yahoo knows a thing or two that Google doesn’t. I’m just glad Yahoo found me. That is quite reassuring. I can’t bear to know that I’m missing.

***

My Senior Citizen ID

I got my Senior Citizen ID on 28 July 2005, and it took me only 2 hours from the time I began filling up a duplicate of a 1-page application form, to the time I had my ID photo taken, to the time the ID was laminated. The two ladies attending the registration were elderly themselves; one, Ms Sofia Tidon, was 79 years old, still spritely. I paid 75 pesos for 5 ID photos (2 copies of 2×2 and 3 copies of 1×1); I paid 10 pesos for the lamination – and that was all there was to that. Now I can enjoy 20% discounts on medicine, 20% in hotels & restaurants, 20% in cinema houses, 20% in fares air and land. That’s a lot. I must remember to thank the one who fathered the Senior Citizen law. I did thank the ladies that day.

 

Mr Rolando Espiritu (I hope I remembered the name right) was a few minutes ahead of me in applying, but one of the ladies made a mistake, and so I got his number and he got mine. My ‘new’ number is 05-701. Now, that number really belongs to me: 5 is Frank, 7 is Hilario, and 1 is my middle initial.

 

We (the senior ladies and gentlemen) were talking about how forgetful one is when one grows older. You are about to get something, and it isn’t where you are sitting at the moment, so you stand up and turn – and you have already forgotten what it was you were supposed to do, or get, or whatever.

 

I learned that one senior citizen had quite a few entries for Viagra on his medical list. Love potion #1? I said I don’t need Viagra, and it’s true. And I’m glad. And yes, Senior Citizen that I am (65, in case you’re interested), I thank God I lived in the Age of the Computer. I am a writer, editor and publisher – the computer is the best thing that ever happened to junior and senior citizen writers, editors, publishers, even if they are not paying attention to modern technology, even if they are paying more attention to their medical list.

***

Every Monday, where do the leaves go?

Every Saturday and Sunday, the leaves fall to the ground (as they must), undisturbed. Every Monday, I pass by the orchard of UP Los Baños on my way to PhilRice Los Baños to the office of the Editor in Chief (that would be me) of the Philippine Journal of Crop Science. Actually, the place is now once-upon-a-time-an-orchard, since much of the place has long ago been planted to buildings, those of the Institute of Food Science & Technology (IFST), Postharvest Training & Research Center (PHTRC) and the College of Engineering & Agricultural Technology (CEAT). At the campus of UP Los Baños, there are more buildings now than trees, if I may exaggerate a little. Or the big buildings and the great many wide roads and concrete continuous walks have swallowed up the trees – and the ambience of a walk in a nature’s park. The few trees that are still here, the names linger. What the botanists call Achras zapota (they have changed it to Manilkara zapota) I call chico still; what they call Lansium domesticum I call lanzones; what they call Niphelium lappaceum I call rambutan; what they call Garcinia mangostana I call mangosteen; what they call Mangifera indica I call mango; what they call Canarium ovatum I call pili; what they call Psidium guajava I call guava. We don’t talk the same language; I guess we never did. And now we don’t walk the same walk. Because of all the concrete structures standing and lying around, today, when I walk around campus, I don’t feel a tropical cool anymore; what I feel is a tropical heat.

UP Los Baños is, of course, the center of knowledge in agriculture in my country, the Philippines, and once upon a time in the whole of Asia. I graduated from here, and I’m still around here somewhere. I feel I never left, even if I went to teach in my hometown in Asingan, Pangasinan in 1965; even if went to teach at the College of Agriculture of Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro City in Mindanao in 1968; even if I went to work as an abstractor in the library of the National Institute of Science & Technology (NIST) in Manila in 1970; even if I went to work as an editor of the International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management (ICLARM) in Makati in 1980; even if I went to work as a special assistant to the Assistant Director General of the National Science & Technology Authority (NSTA) in Taguig, Rizal in 1981. UP Los Baños is where I grew up intellectually, from my own reading and writing and living, despite my professors.

One of my awakenings was to the inexorable cycle of life and death, a subject not taught in school. That was the time I scoured the shelves and read from the library of this great university Edward Faulkner’s Plowman’s Folly and Ruth Stout’s Gardening Without Work. That must have been 1966. Instead, at UP Los Baños they teach you about the Kreb’s cycle and many a life cycle of an insect or plant. Life cycle, not life & death cycle. They do not discuss death, only life. They dread death, as most of us do. If they discuss death, it is to kill, to annihilate – and they call it pest control, or weed control. Or clean culture. That is why when the janitors sweep the leaves from the lawn around a building, they look at the leaves as dead and therefore to be disposed of as soon as possible. Every now and then I see a tractor pulling a wagon full of leaves and other parts of plants or trees. They throw them on the bank of the Molawin Creek on campus or somewhere and hope that they do not pollute the water. So, at UP Los Baños, they are able to disrupt the cycle of life & death, that is, they do not allow the leaves to go back to where they come from – the soil. They do not look at those leaves as once-living matter. They do not make compost out of the dead matter; neither do they make fertilizer out of the organic matter; neither do they incorporate the leaves into the soil to return to the soil a part of what they got from that soil. I do not blame the poor janitors. They have not been taught that the dead can enrich their lives.

So, every Monday, I see those janitors going by their work while those leaves are going to waste. In a little while, those dead leaves are going to die a second time.

As for me, I’m just passing by.

 

 

 

 

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