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For whatever I can share to inform, inspire, enlighten, and bring joy and hope to others, then this blog has best served its purpose.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

War and Remembrance: The Pearl Harbor Incident



"Seeking to forget makes exile all the longer; the secret of redemption lies in remembrance."
--Richard von Weizsaecker






Perhaps one of the greatest military deceptions during World War II was the Japanese invasion of the American outpost in Pearl Harbor. At exactly one week to go from now, on December 7 (December 8, Manila time), the day of infamy of what was the Pearl Harbor incident will be 70 years old. The Japanese imperial forces mercilessly attacked the island fortress while there was a negotiation between a Japanese delegation and its U.S. counterparts taking place in the White House.

The Japs did not have that blitzkrieg trademark of Germany's Hitler, but the way the Pearl Harbor was taken and destroyed caught the U.S. by surprise, paving way for the great carnage of mostly unprepared American troops. The U.S. declared war on Japan, only making the war bigger as the Pacific theater now being added shall be fought aside from the already battle-clad Europe. But the Japs celebrated too early, considering the Pearl Harbor as one of their greatest victories in a single day, while Uncle Sam gearing up for the counter-offensive the Japs would later on taste the ferocity and bitterness of the American wrath.

Right after the Pearl Harbor attack, Japanese bomber planes stormed the Philippine skies and dropped bombs on major cities and ports. I'm fond of history and it thrilled me each time to know/read/learn about it and how it unfolds but nothing excites me more than to hear it directly from someone who has actually became a part of it. My maternal grandfather, who narrowly escaped death from the hands of patrolling Japanese soldiers spraying him with bullets flying in all directions coming from their rifles, was always enthusiastic and, sometimes, sentimental, telling me his story. He told me that war is hell. Hell, like what U.S. civil war general Sherman was also saying, being tired and sick of it.

The Allied forces prevailed victorious. Germany was captured and Japan, flattened to its feet with two atomic bombs dropped in both Nagazaki and Hiroshima, surrendered. Millions of lives lost, buildings destroyed, and family members never seeing each other again.

The Pearl Harbor incident produced many heroes and we've grown and learned a lot from it. We must. We should. It must be remembered with a different way of looking at it. History repeats itself, but with the way it teaches/allows us to see with new eyes finally settled, for love, remembrance, forgiveness, reconciliation, and better understanding.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Cocos nucifera: Tree of Life

Cocos nucifera or what is also known as the coconut might be just an ordinary tree to many, but it is not. Some people have been re-naming it as the "Tree of Life" simply because there's nothing in this tree, from the tip of its leaves to the very end of its roots, that can't be used. Human beings have long been benefited from out of its medicinal, food, cosmetics, and other uses.

The Philippines is blessed to have grown coconuts in abundance. It was believed that the first coconuts to have reached the Philippines were brought by sea travelers and explorers. During the Spanish-era Philippines, Spanish authorities instructed each and every Filipino to plant coconut as much as possible and as much as they can. The result, today, the Philippines ranks as one of the world's largest coconut producing countries.

I can still remember when I was a lot younger when my grandmother used to cook us a Filipino delicacy called "biko". It is made from a certain type of rice called "pilit" mixed up with "latik". A latik is a molasses-like mixture of  pure coconut milk and a much rawer form of sugar called "camay" cooked for several minutes until the mixture boils and becomes very sticky. The cooked pilit is then poured into the boiling latik and, after being mixed up very well, a biko now it will be called.

A biko would never taste any good without the coconut milk as one of its ingredients. The more coconut milk being used, the better the biko would taste. The following are just some of the many uses of coconut trees:

  • Coconut timber for lumber. Coco lumber is more affordable than other lumbers.
  • Coco milk as hair conditioner. It leaves the hair looking very shiny and fresh.
  • Coconut ribs for brooms.
  • Cholesterol-free cooking oil produced from the matured coconut meat.
  • Coco milk for cooking purposes.
  • Coconut husk as floor polisher.
  • Young coconut meat or also called as "buko" for snacks is not only delicious, but a very nutritious one as well.
  • Coconut shells for fuel and also for charcoal.
  • Young leaf shoots may be eaten as salads.
  • A natural vinegar will be produced from the fermented coconut water.
  • The coconut water is a natural isotonic beverage, with the same level of electrolytic balance as the blood, is, in fact, more nutritious than milk.
  • Native wine called "tuba" is produced out of its nectar. 

There are still a lot more uses of the coconut tree. It is just right to call it "The Tree of Life".

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving

Today, the United States of America celebrates its 390th Thanksgiving Day celebration. It was first observed in the year 1621 at Plymouth in present-day Massachusetts. Thanksgiving was actually a tradition brought in by the Europeans who first arrived to the Americas and to also give thanks for making it through the long journey.

In Canada, Thanksgiving is to be celebrated a month ahead of the United State's every fourth Thursday of November. That was so because of  Canada's location being nearer to the north pole paving way for the earlier onset of winter therefore ending the harvest season earlier. Thanksgiving Day is a legal holiday in both the United States and Canada.

Thanksgiving is all about celebrating and giving thanks for the harvest of the year. It is the time of year when family and friends gather together to eat bread, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, corn, turkey, and other traditional foods. There are also a lot of activities involved and among them is a fireworks display highlighting the event.

Giving thanks is one characteristic innate to mankind being expressed in many forms and ways by a lot of people regardless of race, belief, culture, and nationality. It is usually in the combined form of prayers, offerings, and festivities. Thanksgiving is not just about the feast, but about giving thanks.

The Philippines has its own version of Thanksgiving, too. Most Philippine festivals are colored by the unique blending of pagan belief with Christianity. Filipino Catholics adore and remember their Saints on the date of their canonizations. A festival can not be without the luxury of foods prepared to be shared with all and other activities.

There are Filipinos of today who, despite being Christians, still practice a diwata or buhat by offering foods and prayers to the gods for a bountiful harvest or for good luck and health. It is to commune with the Supreme Provider or God and to appreciate and acknowledge His generosity and goodness. Thanksgiving is, indeed, the joy of giving thanks by sharing to others the blessings received.

Note: Diwata or buhat is a form of divination/ritual practiced by early Filipinos and transferred from generation to generation. It is to commune with the gods, nature, and other spirits by offering a slaughtered pig or chickens cooked without salt and other spices accompanied with prayers and the sweet-smelling scent of frankincense.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Concerning the look of things




"You don't have to stay forever, but at least stay until you see it through."
              --Jim Rohn






Some things are better left alone or forgotten, some things deserve to be kept and remembered. But whether we like it or not, things travel in a journey of change and yet, surprisingly, the more that they advanced themselves further away and metamorphosed, the more they're the same things and closer.

It's like the four seasons of the year: winter, spring, summer, and fall. Each season brings out a change every year, yet it's the same season we always come to know about. And, each time, it offers us new eyes to see the same things differently.

Sometimes we tried hard to look deeper and to gauge what there is in things worthy of our scrutiny. We make, by some occasions, attachments to these possibilities became meaningful only after our having encountered with and upon. We do our best to keep as close as we can possibly get with and as committed as we can be, providing but a trap, to make things stay.

Some things are better left alone or forgotten, some things deserve to be kept and remembered. In the end, it's all about the way we look at things and not how they are in themselves. Things travel in a journey of change, yet remain as fresh as with our first encounter with them.

The following is a poem I wrote about the way we look at things and how, in our own ways, we can manage to capture such every little aspect of what it is we would like to freeze over. It is to dwell in that state of clinging until one sees through and to glide away. I have tilted it "Ephemeral":


If I'm sure you know
what I'm going to say

I'll speak with you
this morning

knowing it would be that way
over again.

Thanks for planting that worry
in my head

someone's licking a finger
to turn a page.

Well, thank you.
But what is it?

I know you'll think of something
you're going to put it in the book

looking pointedly in
another direction.

I'm sorry but you won't have
to make a speech

I mean I'm not getting any younger
it never crossed my mind

what it is I'm going to know.
Yet I had nothing to say to that,

not even as if to spear a glance
of what is not there

disappearing into
the deepening twilight.

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