genius, grains

May 24, 2006
Posted by PicasaOnly one genius?

Question: Do the Filipinos have only one genius in their race, only Jose Rizal? Answer: Oh, they have too many! That explains why they cannot be united, they fight each other tooth and nail, they hate their own country, they hate their own people, they think they have all the answers.

June 1, 2006

Posted by PicasaGolden Grains

These are golden grains to be sure, ears of corn that each promises to be delicious to the bite. If this is the picture of Philippine agriculture – and I have no doubt that it is – haven’t we reason to celebrate what modern technology (like Bt corn) has wrought to the Filipino farmer?

Me, I don’t want to celebrate yet. I’m thinking of other golden grains, those of rice, of which we also have plenty of. I’m also thinking of all these golden grains being processed by a machine called Value Added Agriculture, which we don’t have yet. One of the major objectives of Republic Act 8435, the Agricultural & Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA), which was passed in 1997 yet, is to promote ‘value-added processing, agribusiness activities, and agro-industrialization.’ Now, where are we in adding value to our golden grains? Nowhere.

We are not only 10 years late – in fact, we are 100 years late! Did you know that the State of Iowa started practicing value-added agriculture more than 100 years ago? ( Through the Iowa State University, they organize value-added groups, assist in determining project feasibilities, develop niche markets and enhance business profitability. Our very own University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) is nowhere doing that. Which all means we are the Rip Van Winkle of agriculture. Gising! Bangon!

June 10, 2006

Kat out of the blue
Comment received 9 June 2006:
I have to admit that I like Derbyshire’s version, too. I think he captures the beauty of the words in a poem and is much more emotional than other translations that are technically more faithful to the original. However, I do like the way you’ve translated the breaking of dawn. I would suggest, though, that it should read “I die as I see the sky flush with color” or similar, as “flushes” doesn’t sound grammatically correct in that sense (it could be “I die as the sky flushes with color” but then I don’t know if that would still be faithful to the original). – Kat

So, Kat, what do you think of Nick Joaquin’s English translation that is now enshrined along with Charles Derbyshire’s at the Rizal Park, near Rizal’s Monument, etched on marble or some other precious material?

June 15, 2006

UP Prof Randy David &
Helen’s pragmatic coyote
I watched today, 15 June (Thursday), a replay of Cito Beltran’s Straight Talk show at ANC with Patricia Evangelista pinchhitting for Cito. Patricia was interviewing Randolph David, a Professor of the University of the Philippines who is also a major columnist of the Philippines Daily Inquirer, the fightingest newspaper in Manila, so that Prof David fits in nicely.

Patricia asked Prof David to explain what is ‘pragmatism’ or who is a ‘pragmatist’ as he has written himself to be. I didn’t take notes but I remember him saying something that the truth to a pragmatist is what works. He mentioned among others William James as a pragmatist. William James is not an easy fellow to understand so I surfed the Internet instead and found Helen Longest-Slaughter Saccone’s website Nature Photography (, with her article titled ‘Pragmatism and Romanticism’ – I like all that, including photography, one of my old interests (with the ‘interetingness’ of flickr, all I need is a digital camera to go back to a love affair that would not die). Helen says:

A successful nature photojournalist is both a pragmatist and a romantic. As a photographer who desires to translate moments in the natural world to film, you approach your nature photography in a realistic manner, solving the technical problems of photography in a practical manner.

So I get from Helen this: To be a pragmatist is to be a realist, a practical person. You work with ‘what works’ in life and in danger. Prof David tells Patricia that Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, our President, has betrayed the people’s trust, and so she has to be replaced. That’s pragmatism. I don’t approve, but I understand. Then, Helen tells me more about the photojournalist that I should (could) be:

Yet, you have a romantic side. Without the romanticism, you would not have the deep love affair with nature that is vitally important to your success as a natural history’s photojournalist.

It is this love affair that causes nature photographers to sit for hours watching a single subject – waiting for that special moment. You are compelled to return to wild and natural places season after season to photograph changes as well as times of significance. It is your passion for the universe that drives you …

I will edit that to read: ‘You have to have a romantic side.’ The photo of what I call The Pragmatic Coyote’ is Helen’s – the coyote waits. He too is a romantic! So I get from the interview that Prof David is a journalist who is a pragmatist but not a romantic. I don’t appreciate that either, but I understand that too. I know Prof David has always been a (young) man in a hurry. He has always had the passion. I was young once and passionate and in a hurry too. Now we both have gray hair. I don’t know about Randy but I know we cannot hurry up those seasons of change and those times of significance. So now I’m happy to be simply a writer and a romantic.

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