Tag Archive | family

Coffee Grounds Fertilizer

I am homesick for the reek of carabao* dung drying under the sun.

unripe green mangoesI have come to the point where I now know how it is for paralytics when

                they get to feel flashes of heat and cold at the sight

                of icicles or kettle merrily singing in singeing heat

                because

green unripe Philippine mangoesI now get flashes of the taste and smell

                of damnably sour crunchy unripened mangoes that only my home islands can grow.

I am homesick for the reek of carabao dung drying under the sun,

                the one that we non-farmers harvest from the ground to take home to our

                little plots of tomatoes and eggplants, to make the soil fat,

old nipa hut near coconutsto make the fruits fat, to make us kids fat…

I feel homesick for the reek of caked mud cracking under the sun,

                gray mud turned powdery white plastered on the burnt brown that is

young rice plants, a watery rice paddy                my grandfather’s merrily laughing toothless friend’s skin, who

                couldn’t hear very well the guffaws my Lolo would bring

                whenever we take time from our little garden of okras and cotton and

                come visit him in his tiny tiny

a cogon shack amidst a rice fieldnipa hut stuck in the middle of the flatness of the land he tills

                that is not his. On weekends and on school vacations.

rice stalks almost with grains                When it was a clear day with a slight cooling wind.

                When the rice fields were swaying green, anticipating grains,

or, already stalk-brown, a silent witness to muted gain…

rice straw, after harvestHis name was Lolo Cente, if I remember it right, and mine is Lolo Jose,

                the Jose of Jose Rizal, but who is simply “Lolo” to me,

                and who, unlike that Jose who is Rizal, this Lolo-to-me quit school when he was 7

                because he’d rather ride the back of his carabaos and

                play with them, out of the mud, through the streams, far far away from the school yard,

away from where his teacher and mom could catch and drag him back.

children riding a carabao                A bit of a truant. A bit like Juan Tamad, who wanted to take it easy all day,

,though, my Lolo-to-me was no slacker, no stranger to the singe of the burning sun,

                and he, like Lolo Cente, was toothless, too, by only 2 teeth, but unlike

farmer & friend                Lolo Cente, Lolo could hear even a whisper until

Death peacefully whispered to him at 102. What a life he had.

                That was about 3 times of the Jose’s who is Rizal…

I am so so homesick of the smell of parched soil reeking under a

a well tended rice field                sudden sprinkling of serious rain, of the kind that will soak your hanging laundry in a

                matter of seconds, the kind that will create little oceans and lakes on

                imperceptible indentations here and there along the earth road,

 almost ripe rice grains               the kind of rain that will wedge minute waterfalls and waterways against the edge

                of miniature hills and mountains at the sides of the banked ground that is the

foundation of our wooden house, the one where I spent my infancy in,

                the one where I first realized that adults aren’t so wise after all

rice, almost ready to harvest                when I was only less than 2 and they had me holding my baby brother so that

they could get a picture of us together,

back when Kodak means kodak, means photograph, means to photograph.

                That photograph of me intensely holding on to my reclining position,

                at one end of the, then-popular, plain hardwood sofa, so as

                not to drop my body and my baby brother, tight in my arms, still exists, back home.

mangoes for sale…ah…good old days…

…these words here are just memory lane gone cruising…

                …the less-of-a-second-long flash of the taste of one’s home’s dishes and fruits at

                the back of one’s nostrils that is somewhere inside one’s skull

                does funny things, indeed, to the rest of the brain…

very sweet ripe Philippine mango, cut for easy biteI have used-coffee grounds strewn over my indoor pots’ soil, the ones where I had

                grass-like houseplants stuck onto, my oxygen providers, here, inside,

                where no slight wind sways them from side to side.

[4March2014, 8pm, in about 30 minutes]

*Glossary:

carabao = water buffalo, nicknamed the farmer’s best friend because it’s the muscle in traditional farming

nipa hut = traditional house generally of bamboo and where the roof is of thatched leaves of the nipa palm (Nypa fruticans)bahay_kubo nipa_hut

Lolo = grandfather; the general address for the elderly male

Cente = short and informal for the name Vicente

Jose Rizal = the Philippines’ National Hero; author and medical doctor in late 19th century; studied in Manila, Paris, Madrid, and Heidelberg; martyred at 35

Juan Tamad = in folklore, he was a lazy lad who couldn’t be trusted to get things done; Juan is Spanish for John; tamad is Tagalog/Filipino for lazy

!muchas gracias to the owners of the photos I have here

Advertisements

Cheol-su, the werewolf brother

A Werewolf Boy - 2012 South Korean movie

Song Joong-Ki in A Werewolf Boy, a 2012 South Korean movie

A Werewolf Boy - playing   (1) A Werewolf Boy - playing   (2) A Werewolf Boy - playing   (3) A Werewolf Boy - playing   (4) A Werewolf Boy - playing   (5) A Werewolf Boy - playing   (6) A Werewolf Boy - playing   (7) A Werewolf Boy - playing   (8) A Werewolf Boy - playing   (9) A Werewolf Boy - playing   (10) Cheol-su's playmates A Werewolf Boy - playing   (11) Cheol-su, Suni & kids feed paper to goats A Werewolf Boy - the call of dinner   (1) A Werewolf Boy - the call of dinner   (2) A Werewolf Boy - the call of dinner   (3) A Werewolf Boy - the call of dinner   (4) A Werewolf Boy - the call of dinner   (5) A Werewolf Boy - the call of dinner   (6) A Werewolf Boy - the call of dinner   (7)There’s something wrong about this movie.

A stinking-to-heaven animal-like human is taken as part of the family in the shortest time imaginable.

The family consists of a middle-aged, pretty, smart, bubbly, kind, warm, loving, simple, responsible, very busy widow, a pretty teen-aged daughter, and just as pretty elementary-school younger daughter.

The animal-like human transforms, after a thorough wash, into a tall and handsome young man about the age of the older daughter. He fell asleep sitting as the mother was scrubbing his back, suds and all, in the spacious bathroom. They have become mother and son after just hours of being acquainted.

He later is named Cheol-su by mom, something she liked doing since she had regretted that she had not borne a son to her husband, who wanted one so much.

Cheol-su wolfs down, literally, food at the dinner table. He lived with wolves, presumably, after all. Despite so, he is always expected to eat with everyone, as family should. And, as is expected, other members of the family adjust to him. They calmly guard over their bowls and plates against him, thereby everyone gets to eat, too.

Cheol-su is very smart. He cannot produce the word-sounds but he understands whatever is told him. This way he is just like a deaf-mute member of the family, very sensitive to facial expressions and body language. Thus, 98% of the time we have a werewolf boy who is docile, clean, sweet, nice to be around, goes along and plays with the kids, listens and looks at everything, absorbing, learning.

We have, what is, a very handsome and smart asexual young man. After learning from Suni, the older daughter, not to wolf down food, we have a virile man with whom no threat stemming from any passion whatsoever can be associated with — he will not rape, nor assault, nor even verbally abuse any-one around him, not his family, not his neighbors, not the kids, not the animals, not even the plants.

This is not a movie about a werewolf. This is a movie about how love can be so comfy and warm and giving between people who have just come to know each other. Among strangers. Among neighbors. In the family. In a small remote village with wide open spaces. This movie just bubbles over with natural warmth and generous welcoming. True loving. Only one nasty presence is here, and he is so misplaced that he’s almost like a caricature. He, however, represents what to many of us the real world is. Violent. Unreasonable. Selfish. Egoistic. Arrogant.

This movie to me is so painful and so painfully beautiful that I feel I shouldn’t talk much about it lest I do it a disservice. Besides, I don’t quite know where to start talking about it. The science involved here is hazy, but with genetic engineering it could be possible. This aspect of the story did not receive much attention anyway. What’s concrete is that Cheol-su is there, breathing, living, loving. He just loves and loves like an ever-flowing stream, clear and calm, and that’s all that matters.

I hate the way time, and everyone, forgot Cheol-su. I hate the way he was deprived of so many things that we all have: circle of friends, company, a family relationship that’s always beside you. What’s even more poignant for me is that Cheol-su has no perception of having been deprived. He is like a plant, a full-grown tree, stationed in a tiny spot on earth and content with the rain and the sunshine that come his way. He thrives all by himself. He keeps his love and learns of things associated with this love: he teaches himself to read, write, and speak. Just that. He has no ambitions beyond that.

I hate the way a story caged a Cheol-su inside a story. But I really have no idea, as of now, what I could do for Cheol-su. If there’s something I can do for him at all then I would really do it. Right now. I really hate it that he’s there stuck playing with no-one but not seeing his loneliness. I hate it that I can see him like that, but he himself doesn’t have any idea of what it’s like to be able to see him like that, to know about him, knowing that he doesn’t perceive the pain of having been left alone.

I really wish that Cheol-su has not existed at all. However, if he did not, I wouldn’t have known that love can be like this.

I will never ever forget this movie. There are only about two other like it for me: Lost in the Desert (1969/1970), and The Fall (2006).

A Prayer Before Sleeping

Dear God

thank you for the dayDSCF2148 c

thank you for the many things that happened today

please take care of my mom, and my sister,

and my brother, and his family,

and my uncles and aunts, and my cousins,

DSCF2148and my friends,

and my enemies,

and the rich people,

and the poor people,

everyone in the world.

Thank you that there is you being with us,

for holding the world in your hands.

I don’t have a gut understanding of “worshipping you”

so I can’t really say “I worship you”,

and I really don’t mind that I don’t have a feeling for what it means,

but what I know is that I am thankful

that you have made us like this,DSCF2148 b

that you have allowed us to live, as humans,

that we are alive in this world.

Because it’s beautiful, living in this world,

being able to feel in so many ways,

happiness, sadness, pain, failure, triumph, want, need,

being able to see, being afraid, savoring all that life has to offer,

just being human, putting us in a place you’ve prepared for us,

and there being you.

Amen.

Tree With Deep Roots: An Overview

a rabbit hops by as Chae Yoon digs for prince's medicine

a rabbit hops by as Chae Yoon digs honeysuckle, for the prince’s medicine

Confucian scholars dialogue with the king at the palace gate _ep16

Confucian scholars debate with the king at the palace gate, a skirmish with words _ep16

king + highest palace maid + 3 girls + chief scholar search clues to find missing Soyi, Moohyul has urgent news _ep12

king + chief palace maid + the 3 assistants + chief scholar look for clues to missing Soyi; Moohyul hurries in with news _ep12

King Lee Do slips on the stairs seeing Prince Gwangpyung is safe

King Lee Do slips on the stairs, overwhelmed with joy, when he sees that Prince Gwangpyung & Soyi are safe

King Lee Do, Prince Gwangpyung, Soyi, & Ddol Bok on the day he becomes the King's friend _ep15

Lee Do, Gwangpyung, Soyi, & Ddol Bok (on the day he becomes the King’s friend) _ep15

Moohyul defeats Yeon Pyung and meets Kareupeyi

Moohyul defeats Yeon Pyung (kneeling) and meets Kareupeyi (center, in monster mask)

Moohyul, the king, and chief scholar in one of their confidential meetings

in the king’s main hang-out his study hall, he + Moohyul + chief scholar in one of their casual confidential meetings

Scholar Han teaching the king's alphabet to sweet Yeondoo and mysterious Kareupeyi _ep16

Scholar Han teaching the king’s alphabet to sweet Yeondoo and mysterious Kareupeyi _ep16

Beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful.

Bursting with the triumph of the goodness in man. It’s the answer to a particular monarch’s gamble at sharing responsibilities with the common everyday folk.

It’s a 24-episode South Korean historical drama (sageuk) based on King Sejong the Great’s “invention” of the Korean writing symbols, han-gul. In one of the scenes it is explained that the ministers are like the roots. Hence the title symbolizes the balance of and struggle for power among the participants in the kingdom’s governance as guided by Confucianism.

The king depicted here is a lovely person. He is so sincere I’ve easily fallen in love with him. How I wish all of us in the world have purposes as pure as his, of whatever ‘kind’ or size or leaning or ‘significance’, so that only the hopeful, hence life, comes out through all the faults that a human may have. King Lee Do (his personal name) faces his fears, he wrestles with the foes in his head and in his heart, he comes out very bruised but stays on his feet and goes on with living. How I admire him.

The king has to do these battles alone but it’s very fortunate that he has friends around him. First there was the queen in his younger days. Then now there’s his son the handsome prince who has no problems with his father, his bodyguard Moohyul, the baby-faced soft-spoken very-steady chief scholar who is as much a support to the king as Moohyul is, the head of the palace maids together with the four younger ones who are like extensions of the king’s brain, the two young scholars who are the smartest in the Hall of Worthies, then finally Ddol Bok a.k.a Kang Chae Yoon. I should also mention Garion, although he doesn’t belong to the group because he has other motives.

Instead of the peacock feathers on the military men’s hats there are strips of cloth or yarn. The king does not wear dragon-design shoes but one that is similar to the ministers’. His main hang-out is his high-ceilinged wooden study hall. His four girl attendants have jewels on their hair ribbons. There are no evil queens, palace maids, and concubines here. The king is amused of the effect it has on his attendants whenever he speaks swear words. He is an expert on sudoku, having solved a 33 x 33 game when he was yet an insecure young king overpowered by his father — his attendants and computers then were all palace maids (yes!!). And these are the best: the king casually quasi-sunbathes (because he still has clothes on), and himself applies watered fecal matter as fertilizer to experimental plants, and he gladly pours a drink to the butcher (the lowest ranking person in his society).

There are 7 martial arts masters in here: Moohyul (very handsome and proper), Chae Yoon, Lee Bang Ji (the best for me), the half-masked pale face (Yeon Pyung, who has a blue ribbon on his hair, respectable as a warrior but is scared of Moohyul), a high-rank Confucian scholar in the court who went to the dark side of the force, a legendary Chinese mercenary (Kareupeyi/Kareulpae, who’s a little girl’s best friend), and a female Chinese agent who’s understandably terrified of the latter.

The subplots emerge, interweave and synchronize like a Jabbawockeez dance. There is humor interspersed all-throughout. The contrast between sleekness and bulkiness, the suave and the coarse, weakness and strength, simplicity and complexity blend in harmony so that it has the same effect as the OST’s subtle playing — they are well integrated and do not get in the way of where the focus is.

The focus is on the story itself — on how the king could go on with his plans. It is a story not of personalities but of a big dream, a wonderful dream that solicits horror from the opposing ‘brains’. Even the charm of the Ddol Bok–Dahmi sub-story pales beside this dream. This dream is bigger than the king — aside that it is not his will alone that feeds it, he knows that its fruition is precarious. It’s like a seedling that must be protected from the elements until it waxes and its roots have taken depth. Each speaking scene is essential, no dialogues are superfluous, at times the words themselves serve as swords. Some dialogues are picked up from where they were left off as if the participants are engaged in a continuing board game. The next time I watch it I intend to take note of the dialogues the king is in. He’s very good at saying things indirectly that he manages to confuse the Confucian scholars.

The viewer will find himself steadily hoping for goodness to win out, that Ddol Bok and Dahm meet without a mishap, that the king comes out of his lone battles sane, that Bonwon must have blind spots, that Lee Bang Ji dies with honor and happy, that somebody can defeat the Chinese mercenary, that the four girls and Chae Yoon’s buddies stay unharmed, that the prince keeps faith with his father, that the half-masked man doesn’t harm So Yi, that Chae Yoon doesn’t kill the king, that Bonwon doesn’t kill the king, that Moohyul doesn’t get ahead of the king, that the king doesn’t kill himself with overwork, that the han-gul characters finally gets known to the common people.

The fights makes the drama unfit for children to watch. Aside from that this work of art is solid food for the heart and the brain. It does not sugar-coat the reality of human struggles, though I am thankful that grime isn’t graphically depicted — I carry with me the consciousness of this condition of the majority in the world that it’s quite easy for me to disbelieve the ‘clean-ness’ of drama sets. I appreciate that the palace decorations are toned down and they do not steal attention. Even the grand study hall’s impact is neutralized by the gravity of the dark wood interior. It looks so lived in that I can almost smell the fine dust that could have collected through the years within its tiny crevices.

Deep_Rooted_Tree poster

an official poster: great king, palace guard, prince’s maid — each is essential to each other

This drama doesn’t glorify the king, in fact a bit of going on the other extreme of making King Sejong a ‘human’ whom everybody could love. There are no doll-like females — yes they’re as pretty as dolls alright but they don’t invest on dreamy-gazes intended for frames, and hence even the crybaby visual artist didn’t jar my nerves. Soyi and her 3 friends look delicate but they are made of stuff such that they are the king’s strength: his database, processor, and memory bank.

Jang Hyuk as Dae Gil in Chuno I’d think as theatrics, whereas here Chae Yoon is just brimming with contained potential, a dynamo held in check. Chae Yoon’s life parallels that of the king’s. He is a reflection of the king and So Yi is the mirror with which they see themselves.

Lee Bang Ji and Ddol Bok/Chae Yoon are the perfect teacher and disciple, warm and open to each other — what I wished for Munno and Bidam had Munno been not too wrapped up in his ideals. There is a host of interesting characters here but Lee Bang Ji fascinates me the most: he is ephemeral, lowly (by his own description), fatal, and also utterly tragic had it not been for Chae Yoon’s need of him. Chae Yoon is very fortunate to have had two very loving fathers. The place where Lee Bang Ji went to die helped the story obtain a full circle.

What’s saddest for me is that the king had to pay so much in exchange for his people’s sake. What’s happiest for me is how the king finally emerges with the conviction of the depth of his love for the common people. The scenes of common folks’ singing at their work lifts the spirit. Ddol Bok’s vision of his and Dahm’s father is like a glimpse of heaven. A beautiful facet of the story is in the showing of how the relationship between parents and children is a foundation for a person’s major decisions.

The drama Tree With Deep Roots or Deep Rooted Tree depicts the yin and yang of life on earth: interacting, fluid, flowing, hardly ‘happily-ever-after’ nor one-directional. Yet it insists on goodness, it insists on the worth of persons both individual and collective, and it denigrates the greed for power in its varied forms. It is a jewel of an expression of the humbled human soul.

Lee Bang-ji Sonsaengnim and Ddolbok

Lee Bang-ji, musa (warrior), sabunim (respected elder) and sonsaengnim (teacher) to Ddolbok