Wednesday, September 07, 2005

driveway leading to the "A Sad Love Story" house. tapos na an TV series, so nobody lives here. but it is preserved and maintained as a tourist attraction. hamakon mo. :)

top view of the winding staircase that connects the three floors of the house. pa-linuz effect man ngaya, hehe.

breathtaking view from the third floor of the "A Sad Love Story" mansion

the seaside house used as a film set for the koreanovela "Full House." built at a cost of $1 million, it's visited by fans of the show from all over asia.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

the boardwalk leading to the beach. low tide siya, but as you can see, wara binatbat an beach ninda (rugged and windy) sa mga white beaches ta. pero tourist attraction. haay.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Philosophy of Sex

For philosophy students, graduates, professors, OLPS Batch 87 and Batch 86 particularly GURU Kit Gacias :

This piece was originally my term paper when i took the final courses of my philosophy studies at Vincentian Hills Seminary. Actually, i'm so fed up with Thomism because i failed Metaphysics under Fr. Jepoy's tutelage, (this is normal, only few seminarians pass this subject specially if Fr. Jepoy is the professor!) To get even with St. Thomas, i critiqued his Summa Theologica's theses particularly on the Story of Creation.

No part of this work may be reproduced, copied in any manner, whatsoever, without my consent. :-)

By : Joseph John J. Perez

“…a sense of wonder started MEN philosophizing, in an ancient times as well as today…
what is the result of this wonderment, this puzzlement? An awesome feeling of ignorance.
MEN began to philosophize, therefore to escape ignorance…”
- Aristotle

“Understanding MAN and in HIS place in the universe is perhaps the central problem of all science.”
- Dunn & Dobhansky


Philosophy came into existence because of Man. Without man; there can be no such thing as Philosophy, because only Man is capable of thinking and philosophizing. Man began thinking and philosophizing primarily to possess knowledge and understanding about the world in which He exists and ultimately to understand Himself.

History is thus replete with great Men of various origins whom the world hailed as philosophers. The philosophical tradition is continually evolving until this present generation. Promising apprentices and new schools are struggling to prove their worth. There is much hope of producing new breakthroughs from our contemporary Men and, WOMEN.

Notice the difference, the role of the feminine is defined. The male is differentiated from the female. Why the distinction?

In the contemporary times, it is no longer precise to view philosophy simply in the generalized term of the subject, Man. Women liberation movements in the present age brought about this inevitable change. In this case, gender, therefore has to be given due emphasis.

How does this change affect the field of philosophy?

First and foremost, one crucial fact has to be confronted : PHILOSOPHY WAS MASCULINE. The male gender dominated its entire historical development. However, the feminine presence cannot anymore be placed in the sidelines. Certainly they are force to reckon with. The primary endeavor is to recognize their presence. But recognition is not enough. They must receive the same respect the whole humanity had given to male thinkers.

Gender bias is considered as one of the major problems of the contemporary societies. It causes serious dissentions within cultures. In most societies, women is not equated with the male and often regarded as the second sex. It is also observable that not so many women made significant contributions in the field of sciences including philosophy. But women activism is presently gaining ground. Women liberation movements became livelier and bolder. Societies undergo observable changes to accommodate the demands of the times.

Seemingly, philosophy is lagging behind in the entire re-adjustment. Not a few philosophical dogmas and truths are regarded as obsolete and irrelevant with its abstract concerns. Added with this conservative stance is the burden of the fact that philosophy is undeniably male predominated. It is with great urgency that the feminine voice must be heard. We have to include women in the philosophical canon.

This article is an exposition of the fundamental feminist philosophical theory and its relation to the entire realm of philosophy. The writings of one great philosopher, St. Thomas Aquinas will also be revealed and evaluated in the light of feminist perspective.


Historical Development

Many if not all feminist historians would claim that concern for women’s rights could be traced as early as 18th century when an Anglo-Saxon by the name of Mary Wollstonecraft published “A Vindication of the Rights of Women” in 1792. It served as the manifesto challenging the idea that women exist only to please men and proposing that women should receive the same treatment as men in education, work opportunities and politics, and that the same moral standards should be applied to them. This standpoint was further affirmed in 1869 when the famous political philosopher John Stuart Mill wrote his treatise on “The Subjection of Women.” These works were effective in moving women to action.

The American women meanwhile became active in public demonstrations that were organized by feminist writers and lecturers. The Women’s Rights Convention of 1850 was a landmark in the movement but the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in 1920 was far more significant for it granted women’s suffrage. Also, the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies was founded in London in 1897. Woman suffrage in England was eventually granted in 1917. Woman suffrage was granted in other countries such as France in 1944, Germany in 1918, USSR in 1917, and India in 1950.

The United Nations (UN) made safeguards to uphold the status of women through the preamble of its charter in 1945 that it “is determined to reaffirm faith in the equal rights of men and women.” In 1946, the UN Economic and Social Council was responsible for the establishment of a sub-commission on the status of women which is not only concerned on suffrage but other aspects of women’s socio-political equality. Among these are: freedom of choice of a marriage partner, abolition of polygamy, protection against arbitrary divorce, freedom to own and administer property, equal inheritance rights, equal educational and employment opportunities, equal pay for equal work, the right to hold political office, equal treatment before law and equal moral standards.

In the ‘60’s and 70’s, the more radical Women’s Liberation Movements spread like wildfire in the United States and other European countries, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. It is observed that the basic concerns tended to be the same everywhere despite variations of specific issues from country to country.

Major Feminist Advocacies

Change In Social Traditions

Among the primary aims of women activists is to assert that the feminine gender is not only meant for the traditional maternal and housekeeping functions but can participate equally with men in every aspect of life. They contend that the main culprit of the discrimination of women is the concept of sexism, which dominates all aspects of contemporary society, from methods of child rearing to education and employment practices.

Political Reforms

Women representation in politics has become a major concern of women liberation movements in the contemporary times. Women are beginning to fill up positions in national and local governments and in political parties. They are also active in campaigning against laws that enforce inferior status of women. These include contract and property rights, management of earnings, matters related to sex and child bearing, issues on abortion, access to birth control information, prostitution, marriage and divorce laws.

Restructuring Stereotypes

Feminist movements challenge traditional psychological stereotyping of women as passive and dependent and of women as active and independent. They criticized traditional family roles and patterns of marriage as sources of inferior treatment of women. The movement attempts to heighten awareness of sexist attitudes and behavior through ‘consciousness – rising’ discussions which proved to be useful. They forward the concept of androgyny wherein social roles are both participated by the male and female such as childcare and housework.

Feminist Consciousness and Theories

What (Is) Feminism?

Feminism is confronting perplexing issues. The most basic of which is the definition of the word Feminism itself. Within the feminist movement, we can name splinter groups such as radical feminists, lesbian separatists, women of colour, and so on depending on what issue and principle they advocate and adhere to. A feminist writer, Rosalind Delmar even stated that: “the fragmentation of contemporary feminism bears ample witness to the impossibility of constructing modern feminism as a simple unity in the present or of arriving at a shared feminist definition of feminism.”

According to Nancy Cott in her essay, “Feminist Theory and Feminist Movements: The Past Before Us,” the word feminism was first came into use in 1910 by blacks, new immigrants, political radicals and college students who joined the American Woman Suffrage Movement and other grassroots organizations. The word denotes the ‘social awakening of the women of all the world’ according to Charlotte Gilman or the ‘significant’ and ‘profound’ movement ‘to readjust the social position of women…in its largest general aspects’ according to Inez Milholland. What is common on the two definitions is the idea of ‘movement’ for and or by the women. Inorder to understand more the concept of feminism, the need for highlighting its object that is the woman herself is of great importance to construct a baseline definition.

Rosalind Delmar observed that feminist and non-feminist alike would agree that: “at the very least, a feminist is one who holds that women suffer discrimination because of their sex; that they have specific needs which remain negated and unsatisfied, and that the satisfaction of these needs would require a radical change (some would say a revolution even) in the social, economic and political order.”

The bottomline of the argument is the idea of discrimination of women because of their sex or gender in the more extensive sense. But it is quite disturbing that the idea of discrimination differs from among women groups. The two basic opposite directions that the word ‘discrimination’ as applied to feminism is the Sameness Argument wherein the elimination of gender roles is being advocated and, the Difference Argument which is toward the valorization of the female being.

Nancy Cott explained these positions categorically. On the Sameness Argument she explains : “Women claimed that they had the same intellectual and spiritual endowment as men - were human beings, and therefore deserve equal or the same opportunities men had, to advance and develop themselves.”

On the other hand, the Difference Argument maintains that : “Their (women) sex differed from the male – that whether through natural endowment, environment or training, human females were moral, nurturant, pacific and philosophically disinterested (?! – emphasis mine, author), where males were competitive, aggrandizing, belligerent and self – interested, and that it therefore served the best interests of both sexes for women to have equal access to education, work and citizenship inorder to represent themselves and to balance society with their characteristic contribution.”

Both these Sameness and Difference Arguments existed side by side throughout the development of Feminism. A question might be raised : Does this fragmentation obstruct the gaining ground of the Feminist Ideology? Not at all, as feminists would claim. Rosalind Delmar puts it bluntly : “It was often assumed that there was a potentially unificatory point of view on women’s issues which would be able to accommodate divergences and not to be submerged by them.” She said that the modern women’s movement starts its appeal at a very high level of generality. This means that its aims and objectives were thought of in the very general terms and directed towards all women in its most general extensions.

Another question might be asked : Are feminists advocates necessarily female? Definitely not. Contemporary Feminism gives highlight on Feminist Consciousness as primary standard of being an advocate of Feminism. So as long as one is concerned with issues affecting women and advances their interests, that person is considered as a feminist, regardless of sex. Feminism becomes defined by its object of concern – Women.

So, when the term Feminism took on its dictionary definition in 1933, it says, “advocacy of the claims of women.” For the meantime, this definition offers us a much needed starting ground in the entire issue on feminism.

Basic Feminist Philosophical Framework

A solid and specific feminist philosophical structure is yet to be established. Any researcher on the issue on feminism will surely confront this dilemma. This predicament could be explained by the fact the very few women scholars or more appropriately, feminist thinkers made considerable presence in the history of Philosophy. Many philosophers did not even bother to mention anything about woman in their treatises. Still, many regard that issues concerning women are not philosophical problems at all. That is, being sexed is not an issue in the whole philosophical enterprise.

The Second Sex

In the attempt to at least trace a most basic feminist philosophical framework, the name Simone de Beauvoir will surely be encountered. Her Obra “Le Deuxieme Sexe (The Second Sex)” could supply a necessary foundation towards the establishment of a philosophical view on Feminism. Emerita Quito, a Filipina Philosopher even commented that “no other work on the nature of woman is more thorough and erudite than de Beauvior’s Le Deuxieme Sexe.”

For our purposes, we give highlight to the philosophy of de Beauvior inorder to attain a fundamental grasp on what is may be considered as primary feminist philosophical theory. By way of introducing our philosopher, it should be recalled that Simone de Beauvior was the “alter ego,” a friend and companion of Existentialist thinker, Jean-Paul Sartre. They never got married inorder to dedicate their lives to writing. It is true the de Beauvior was more of a writer than a thinker but still her works contain philosophical principles. As mentioned earlier, her monumental work, “The Second Sex” contains feminist philosophical strains which we are going to investigate

The Objectified Other

The status of manhood has always been regarded as an attainment, while femininity is not. This fact is clearly defined among cultures. Femininity is also taken as complementary to male. In this context, de Beauvior complained that women “have erected no virile myth in which their projects are reflected…still dream through the dreams of men.” She tried to trace this weakness as a woman’s failure to set themselves subject, for “a myth always implies a subject who projects his hopes and his fears towards a sky of transcendence.” Women’s ideal therefore is to break away from that state in which they have been contained, to achieve their own transcendence – and reach a state of self – definition and self – justification – through freely chosen ‘projects.’

Being considered as the ‘Other’ is the highest insult to woman. In the realm of Existentialist Philosophy, being the ‘Other’ means not only an alien, an intruder, a villain, but also a threat. In the feminist context, this may be taken as woman a threat to man’s freedom and lordship. The Otherness contains all depreciation, disparagement and detraction heaped upon women. The Other, which is suppose to be free and autonomous being, is overshadowed in relation to another ego, which is essential and sovereign. She is transcended by another consciousness. The Otherness is a basic trait of women as de Beauvior claimed. She further argued that women have themselves submitted to become a permanent Other. She connived to be the Objectified Other. De Beavoir writes: “To decline to be the Other, to refuse to be a party to the deal – this would be for women to renounce all the advantages conferred upon them by their alliance with the superior caste. Man-the-sovereign will provide the woman-the-liege with the material protection and will undertake the moral justification of her existence.”

Being the Objectified Other may be caused, as de Beauvior implies, by the female biology which may serve as an intrinsic obstacle to transcendence when she said that during menstruation, a woman feels her body most painfully as an obscure, alien thing;…her body is something other that herself.

But then, we must not take female biology per se as an obstacle to feminine transcendence, but rather what men, with the connivance of women, have transformed of female biology. De Beauvior puts it categorically : “Men have presumed to create a feminine domain – the kingdom of life, of immanence – only in order to lock up woman therein…what they demand to day is to be recognized as existents by the same right as men and not to subordinate existence to life, the human being to its animality.”

De Beauvior then affirms that in the human biological structure; the female is the mainstream of life, while the male is only incidental, even superfluous, once the sperm is received. She even maintains that differences between male and female are merely due to history and custom and not due to inherent qualities. She suggests that we should recognize true sex roles in life. There cannot be exchange of roles. Nature sees to it that each one functions according to the innate potentialities given them. Nature has defined a role for the two sexes with strengths and weaknesses. Thus, the question is not whether woman is superior, inferior or equal to man. To illustrate : Each part of the human body has a function that cannot be substituted by another part.

The real concern should be directed to the projects of the subjects to be transcendents. This means that a subject is above any structure being imposed on him by society. The subject must pursue personal goal above the goals the society may dictate. That is the truest sense of Transcendent Subject.

To sum up this position, Emerita Quito has this to say : “Humanity, writes de Beavior, is not an animal species but rather a historical reality and hence, the question should never be whether men or women is superior, inferior or equal to man but rather whether men or women as individuals, have accomplished their goals in the existentialist sense…there are no males and females, no superior and inferior beings, but just individuals. What matters…is whether these individuals have exerted the required effort to achieve their individual goals.


St. Thomas Aquinas’ Philosophic Interpretation on the Creation of Adam and Eve

Many established philosophical schools have strains of sexist theories and positions in one way or the other. One of the most influential among these is the Thomistic interpretation on the Creation Myth. In view of this, it is but necessary for us to expose this inquiry to shed light on the sexist riddle.

Among the fundamental tenets of the Judeo - Christian faith is the belief on the Creation Myth. Interestingly, one of, or even the greatest Catholic Philosopher of all time, St. Thomas Aquinas, dealt heavily on this myth to mount his treatise on human sexuality. Contained in his monumental work “Summa Theologica” he delineated his philosophical positions on sex and gender issues. It should be noted also that St. Thomas’ philosophical theses were greatly influenced by his exposure to the works of Aristotle. In fact, Aristotle’s influence facilitated St. Thomas’ investigations on the human nature in a very integrated approach. Aristotelian definitions, phrases and terminologies are in constant recurrence in his assertions.

It seems that the Thomisms’ anthropological hypothesis, the use of male – female symbolism to express the division between elements of the soul is untraceable. However, Aquinas’ investigation on the Genesis Story is filled with interesting contentions.

It is important to note that Aquinas disproved the position of Aristotle on his work “On the Generation of Animals” that the woman is misbegotten male. Aristotle claimed: “As regards the individual nature, woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active force in the male seed tends to the production of the perfect likeness in the masculine sex ; while the production of woman comes from the defect in the active force or from some material indisposition, or even from some external influence.”

St. Thomas’ contested the above premise this way : “…woman is not misbegotten, but is included in nature’s intention as directed to the work of generation.”

The Male : First Man and Principle of the Human Race

St. Thomas claimed that according to the scriptures, the woman is a helper to man “not indeed as a helpmate in other works…but since man can be more efficiently helped by another man in other works; but as a helper in the work of generation.” He reiterated the claim of Aristotle that male is active and the female is passive in generation.

This implies that the importance of the existence of the woman lies solely in her role in the generation of human race. This also denotes that woman will be proven inefficient in other human functions and operations.

Further, St. Thomas stated that the woman is subjected to man by the virtue of his superior intellect : “There is (a) kind of subjection, which is called economic or civil, whereby the superior makes use of his subjects for their own benefit and good; and this kind of subjection existed before sin. For good order would have been wanting in the human family if some were not governed by others wiser than themselves. So by such a kind of subjection woman is naturally subject to man, because in man the discretion of reason predominates.”

He also hailed the male as the first man and called him the principle of the human race, being the likeness of God and since God is the principle of the whole universe. He also admitted that the intellectual nature is found both in man and woman, but in the secondary sense, the image of God is found in man : “…the image of God is found in man, and not in the woman : for man is the beginning and end of every creature…for man is not of woman but man of woman; and man was not created for woman, but woman for man.”

Thus, the necessity for the woman to come from man is justified : “…it was more suitable for the woman to be made from man…in order thus to give the first man a certain dignity…also for the purpose of domestic life, in which each has his or her particular duty, and in which the man is the head of the woman. Wherefore, it was suitable for the woman to be made out of man.”

St. Thomas further added : “…it was right for the woman to be made from a rib of man. First, to signify the social union of man and woman, for the woman should neither use authority over man and so she was not made form his head…”

However, he also insisted that the image of God belongs to both sexes that is quite contrary to his previous contention : “…we must understand that when the scripture had said, ‘to the image of God He created him,’ it added, ‘male and female He created them,’ not to imply that the image of God came through the distinction of sex, but that the image of God belongs to both sexes, since it is in the mind, wherein there is no sexual distinction.”

St. Thomas also reiterated the claim of Aristotle with regards to the psychological attitudes of women. He said that women are not continent “because they are vacillating through their being unstable in reason, and are easily led so that they follow their passions readily.” He also cited the inability of the woman to give reliable evidence due to their defect in reason. St. Thomas categorized the woman alongside with the children and imbeciles.

In general, according to the Thomist’s perspective, male and female inequality could be summed up in terms of the distinction between human intellectual functioning and generation. St. Thomas assigns man as a possessor of the intellectual faculties that is likewise regarded as a nobler human function. In St. Thomas’ interpretation of the Creation myth, the male symbolizes the human essential faculties where possession of reason is of vital importance. Woman in turn, is the symbol of generation that is regarded as a less noble human function compared with intellectual operations. Thus, the male is superior to the female.


The Thomistic philosophical interpretation on the Judeo – Christian Creation Myth creates a great tension with the principles of the contemporary Feminist Theory. Let us then delineate the implications on the human biological composition, social dynamics and human rational operations of the Thomism’s gender bias.

St. Thomas Aquinas derived from the human biological structure his basic arguments regarding gender difference. He said that the woman is a helper to man specifically in the work of generation. This is the point where St. Thomas sees the woman in her most proper complimentarity with the male. For him, man is efficiently help by his same sex in other human operations, but not by the woman. These other human operations may be referred to as intellectual or may be civil functions. What is really degrading here is the fact that the woman is taken as a mere sex object of man, as a symbol of his masculinity and virility. Beyond bearing life, the woman is regarded as inefficient. The woman was created seemingly to satisfy man’s sexual urge. St. Thomas’ implies that what is essential in a woman is her organ and orgasm. She cannot be equated with man’s intellectual prowess.

Contrary to de Beauvior’s contention that the female is the principle of life, St. Thomas considered the female as passive force in generation. A question may be raised : What does it really take to become the active force in generation ? Admittedly, without the sperm of the male, life cannot be in its total potentialities. However, the male produces the sperm during the act of copulation, which may only last for a matter of minutes (or hours, depending on the energy of the couple). But for nine months, the life produced during that instant act of the meeting of the egg and the sperm, is being bourn inside the woman’s womb. What is more active then in generation, the production of the sperm or child bearing? Further, St. Thomas did not include in his arguments the pains of child bearing ; the physical and psychological adjustments the woman have to make to ensure the health of the life inside her womb. St. Thomas might have carefully or carelessly evaded the real issue on generation which is child bearing that is a more demanding process than the act of copulation.

Moving from his interpretations on the human biology symbolism, St. Thomas proceeds in his arguments by focusing on the rational faculties between sexes. St. Thomas argued that the female, being made from the lowly rib of the male, must regard man as her superior. He further argued that being superior is natural characteristic of the male. In him, reason efficiently operates. Thus, the woman is inferior to man in wisdom. De Beauvior identifies this Thomistic position in her definition – the Objectified Other. The woman ceases to be a transcendent, with the autonomy to attain her project. The main fallacy in this Thomistic argument is the appropriation the biological symbolisms as basis for sociological relationships. Being taken from the rib of the man, the woman is innately subjected to man. If we follow this argument, how can this Thomistic position explain the succeeding event in the creation myth, the fall of man? If the woman is inferior to man, how can she persuade man to eat the forbidden fruit? How can a subject influence the decision of her superior? These questions may lead us to the premise that the woman can really outsmart man in reason. If we really subscribe to this fallacy of equating the biological symbolisms to rational operations, we can say then that physical endowment can now be a basis for intellectual capacities. This is tantamount to say that Shaquille O’Neal is more intelligent than Bill Gates.

St. Thomas also alleged that women, being more emotional, could be defective in reason. He even equated this feminine attitude as attributes of children and imbeciles. Again, rationality is erroneously equated with attitudes and emotions. Intelligence and emotions are opposite realities. There is no way that intellectual capacities be determined by emotional reactions.

St Thomas also contended that the image of God is found in man but not in the woman for he is the beginning and end of every creature. God, in this context, may be taken as man’s mythos or dream of himself, his projection of himself. This myth of humanity, in the Thomist position is not found in woman. The woman is reduced as the Objectified Other as defined by de Beauvior. The woman failed to establish her own myth to contain her own dreams and projections.

Out of these major Thomist arguments that we have exposed, one general premise is being forwarded : the superior attributes are ascribed to maleness and inferior attributes to femaleness. Further, the misappropriation of the biological symbols to interpret sociological dynamics is very evident. Gender bias is gravely evident in this Thomist theme.

The findings and conclusions of this article will not be readily accepted by the male dominated philosophy, for sure. At the same time, being male, I am still bound up by my masculine mindset. My espousal of the feminist consciousness is thus, not totally free from gender bias.

But then, to prove my point that the philosophical world is indeed tainted with sexism, I am posing this question as my way of conclusion :

If St. Thomas Aquinas was born a woman, will the whole world give him the same respect and acceptance as a philosopher the same way that was accorded to him, being a man?

Joseph The Dreamer

For all SANO, PADS and dreamers :

I wish to share with you the autobiographical essay i submitted to the Ford Foundation when i applied for their International Fellowship Program. True, the essay is very personal yet great part of which was enriched by my seminary years.

Please bear with my bold attempt in publishing my life story. May you enjoy reading !

Joseph, the Dreamer

“Happy are those who dream dreams and are willing to pay the price to make their dreams come true.”
- Fulton Sheen

I wanted to become a pilot when I was a kid. It was because of an old faded sepia-brown photograph of my deceased uncle (who was a Major in the Philippine Air Force) standing in front of a vintage Tora-Tora plane. It was one early morning in the year 1976, when my kindergarten teacher asked me and my classmates what we want to be when we grow up. Awed with that “mysterious” photograph and dreaming for a challenging life ahead, without hesitation, I proudly declared that I wanted to fly a plane and conquer the skies…

Twenty-nine years later, I landed a job so much attached to the ground. Being the Provincial Information Officer (PIO) of the Department of Land Reform (formerly known as the Department of Agrarian Reform), my job requires me to have close contact with the earth and the farmer – beneficiaries tilling it. No, please don’t get me wrong. There’s no bitterness or tinge of frustration here. In fact, after serving five different employers, this current job of mine is the most fulfilling and rewarding so far. Many would wonder how I ended up with this present job. What happened to the dream of becoming a pilot, flying a plane and conquering the skies ? Let me then lead you back to the paths I had traveled in reaching this point of my life…

Mine was a difficult pregnancy, according to my mother, Corazon, Cora, as she is fondly called. She had frequent bouts with colds during the nine months that she carried me in her womb. She almost lost her life when she gave birth to me due to her allergic reactions to some antibiotics. Facing death, she made a desperate prayer to St. Joseph to take pity on her child who was not ready to lose a mother. Her prayer was answered miraculously. This explains how I got my first name, Joseph. The name John was added later due to the insistence of my aunt, Milagros, who was once a Pink Sister nun but decided to leave the convent, eventually got married, and later financed my schooling from high school to college.

I got only one elder brother, Graciano III, or Jun-Jun, who’s a year-and-a half older than me. We are very different from each other. Jun-Jun was dark-skinned while I am fair-skinned. He got his color from our father, Graciano Jr., fondly called Nonong, while I got mine from my mother. He was able-bodied while I was skinny, but, as we mature, I got taller than him.

We grew up under a tradition of a very strict and rigid upbringing, handed through generations and adopted by our disciplinarian father. Misdemeanors had corresponding physical punishments. Good deeds were also reciprocated with rewards, usually a treat of weekend at the movie houses. There was no television then; only radio with AM bands provided us with information and entertainment. That is why, watching a movie was then a luxury for us.

Our father was our very first teacher. Being an elementary teacher by profession, he brought home with him plenty of books that we browsed intently or just feasted our eyes with the pictures and visuals. We even had a piece of blackboard each and got a boxful of chalks that we spent by filling the board with writings and drawings. Our father also made wooden blocks with the alphabet and number inscriptions for us to be familiarized with them. Education was our topmost priority.

Our mother provided comfort in an otherwise uptight upbringing. She was noted for the delicious food that she produced from our kitchen. She used to augment her income during Christmases when her fellow-employees in the hospital, mostly doctors, placed orders of homemade ham to our delight because we always provided assistance to her and had the privilege of acting as self-appointed and proclaimed gourmet to taste the quality of her specialty. We got our very first biology and science inputs inside the hospital’s laboratory where my mother worked as a medical laboratory aide, but technically she was a laboratory technician by profession.

Maybe these solid foundations I earned from my parents paved the way for the initial successes I gained from the elementary grades. My very first award was the “Most Cooperative Kinder” when I mopped the entire floor of our classroom instead of just drying up the floor under my desk when I accidentally spilled a drink. I then capped my elementary grades with salutatorian honors.

I really planned to enter the seminary for my high school education. It was because of my brother. Our family was a clan of priests. My parents forced my brother to study in the seminary to continue that noble tradition. I secretly envied him when he became a seminarian. He became the family’s favorite, girls noticed him and, I was awed with his stories about seminary life. As expected, he did not stay in the seminary for long, after two years, he left. That was the right moment I was waiting for. The year was 1983.

Seminary life was Ora, Estude et Labora (Prayer, Study and Work) as the motto of the Our Lady of Peñafrancia Seminary goes. Indeed, our day starts with the Lauds or Morning Praise followed either by mass, recitation of the rosary or novena, not to mention the Angelus, and other formula prayers, and of course, we close the day with the Vespers or Night Prayers. We had monthly recollections that were usually done on first Fridays. It was a whole day of prayerful silence with thematic discourses to guide us in our reflections. Annual holy retreats that lasted for a week were conducted usually few months before the end of every school year. Being a young adolescent, prayer for me then was more of a ritual rather than personal commune with God. It was only during my senior year that I was able to depart from formula prayers and started establishing a personal relationship with the Supreme Being.

The academic formation in the seminary was rigid and had high set of standards. Grades were hard earned. We were forced to use the English language as primary medium of communication. If caught speaking in the vernacular, every non – English spoken word had a corresponding one-peso penalty. In the 80’s a peso was quite valuable. In fact, our seminary rector later revealed that our garden tools such as rakes, shovels, wheelbarrows, grass cutters, hoes and other similar implements were purchased and funded by the accumulated amount from those penalties. Imagine a community of blabbermouths who cannot resist haranguing through the colorful vocabulary of our native tongue! We were taught Latin, Spanish, Italian and even French on the sides, but carefree adolescents that we were, we never realized the value of learning those languages. We were only able to memorize few phrases of those foreign tongues.

Almost the whole morning of Saturdays were dedicated to general house cleaning, which meant, as our rector said, ‘tidying up from the ceiling down to the floor.’ Seminarians were assigned to every nook and cranny of the whole expanse of the seminary, ‘leaving no stone unturned’ as a cliché goes. A senior seminarian was tasked to formulate the rotation of monthly cleaning assignments that was why his contemporaries had the privilege of being assigned to easier areas to clean while the lower years had to exhaust lots of sweat in more grueling tasks.

The bonding within our batch was solidified as we advanced in years. We were like ‘blood brothers’ with a sealed compact. This special bonding sustained us to bear the rigors of the seminary formation and even up to this day of our adult life. (This bonding is now being shared between our wives and kids. We also grew deeper with our social commitment; our batch did a community outreach one Christmas when we had a simple feeding and gift-giving activity to a poor community adjacent our seminary.) True enough, this special bonding may be credited to the high ‘survival rate’ that our batch achieved when we graduated in the year 1987. We started as a loose group of 31 neophytes when we were admitted but ended up as a firm band of 25 graduating brothers. Later, four of our batch mates were ordained as priests, a very good harvest from the Lord’s Vineyard considering that some batches ended with none.

After our high school graduation however, half of our batch made a decision to pursue their callings other than priesthood. I belonged to the other half that decided to sustain and nurture the priestly vocation. I was a college sophomore when I had my very first girlfriend. Being young with vacillating emotions, our premature relationship had tensions as expected. I decided to transfer to the Vincentian congregation not to become a disciple of St. Vincent de Paul but to get nearer to her to save our relationship. But a month before I set foot at the Vincentian Hills Seminary, she called it quits. That was then I honestly confronted myself on my real intentions in pursuing the religious vocation. It was then that I was able to understand that I had impure motivations other than the real intentions of becoming a priest ever since I entered the seminary in 1983. However, my short stint with the Vincentians was not in vain. In fact, they taught me how to love and serve the poor…Evangelizare pauperibus misit me…He sent me to evangelize the poor. Equipped with that ‘gift’ I commenced my journey to the secular world and to my ‘truer’ self.

My first job was with Batibot, a production popularly known as a television show for kids. I was one of the ‘tour guides’ for their “World of Children Expo ‘93” held in Shangri-La EDSA, the prelude of the Museo Pambata. It was then I learned the basics of survival in the city. I must admit, I really led a comparatively secured life inside the seminary compared with the hardships that any ordinary student may have had encountered. I made some drastic adjustments in my way of life; I became a ruthless commuter during rush hours, learned to wash clothes, which I never did in the past. And the most important, I learned how to properly budget my meager earnings. I arrived in Manila with only P600.00 in my pocket. With my ‘batibot’ salary, I was able to pay the last account I had with the seminary, P900.00 to be exact. This is another reason why I always cherish my last days in the seminary because I paid for those days with my very first hard-earned salary. If the Vincentians taught me how to love the poor, Batibot taught me how to love the children. More than what I taught the children about the world, the children in return taught me more about life.

I did not withstand the traffic and pollution of Manila. In 1994, I decided to go home to Sorsogon and landed a job in a local electric coop as their information officer. The job and my employer gave me the opportunity to explore my creative side. I even surprised myself when I did my very first composition, “The Enercon (short for energy conservation) Rap” that was done in Bikol. That paved the way for more jingles that augmented my income during elections and original compositions that conferred me with awards in songwriting competitions, worth mentioning were “Sarong Kanta, Sarong Musika (One Song, One Music)” that was the grand prize winner during the Kanta-Kasanggayahan Pop Category Songwriting Competition; “One Voice, One Dream” – an environmental piece that placed as Bicol Region’s Grand Prize Winner and finalist of the First Philippine International Songwriting Competition; and “Just Love” as Bicol’s Top Prize and finalist to the second outing of the same competition. My visual interest was also rekindled when I joined the Sorsogon Arts Council when it sent me to workshops that I later shared the techniques to my colleagues and students. I also became a professional broadcaster during my stint with the electric cooperative due to my regular functions in handling radio programs and producing video presentations. However, due to impending strike brought about by labor unrest, I was forced to leave the coop to try my luck with the banking industry. But luck was not on my side, Prime Bank had a bank run and closed shop.

It was at this point that I decided to pursue my interest with the broadcast arts. A local radio and television network hired me as production manager for their in-house ad agency but later transferred me to the marketing department that also gave me the chance to do radio boardwork in their AM station. This new assignment paved the way for my conceptualization and launching of “Radyo Pambata,” a radio program advocating children’s rights with kids running the entire show starting form the program hosts, to the newscasters, reporters, researchers, news and scriptwriters, talents and director. It was launched in 1999 after the entire cast completed a crash course series in radio broadcasting which I almost accomplished single-handedly. The program is still on –air up to this day with new cast trained by my original protégés. Because of this trailblazing initiative in the radio industry, the program was adjudged as 1999 KBP – UNICEF Alay sa Kabataan Awardee for Best Children's Radio Program Provincial Radio Category and finalist during the Catholic Mass Media Awards 2000 for Best Radio Entertainment Program. It also mustered a wide listenership rating when it notched as the top weekly radio program in Sorsogon during the 1999 KBP - PSRC and 2001 RRC Surveys. It was because of this program that I was invited to join DZGN – FM, which is owned and operated by the Good News Sorsogon Foundation of the Diocese of Sorsogon. I was later assigned as religio-pastoral programming desk officer of the Commission on Media for Evangelization. But due to financial woes that the station faced in the year 2002, I decided to join the government service.

After that circuitous and bumpy journey, I finally reached a ‘plateau.’ At age 28, I finally committed myself to marital vows with my partner, Jeanette in 1998. Our union is blessed with the birth of our lovely daughter, Joseanne in 2000. Finally, I landed a job that is a happy mix of my love for the media and my commitment for social development. Being the PIO of DLR, I am given the rare chance to witness the struggle of the tillers of the earth to regain their dignity and uplift their situation; to tell the story of their daily struggle in winning the battles of life that I articulate through the words, pictures, videos I publish and broadcast.

But what about my dream of flying and soaring the skies? I just recently realized that I already did. Not through a plane though. It was through the airwaves that I flew and soared the vast and borderless skies of my dreams proclaiming hope and a wish for better world despite despair and apathy.

Dreaming is never a worthless mission. Without dreamers, this chaotic world will not have a vision. The dreamers and visionaries provided the conscience or the soul that is necessary to unite the otherwise discordant notes of dissention into a harmony of humanity trying to make this world a beautiful place to live in after all.

It is when we dream that we renew life and live to its fullest.