Category Archives: literary

Bloom even where you’re not planted

Bloom where you're not planted

Taken beside the Swimming Pool of Central Philippine University, Iloilo City

When I saw this flower yesterday, while doing my early morning walking exercise, the first thing that came into my mind was the popular quote “bloom where you’r e planted.”

Impressed by the way the flower struggled to sprout and bloom in an unlikely situation, I thought of making an amendment to the quotation. So, I requested my daughter to take a photo of the flower before it withers or somebody plucks it.

Surfing the net, I found out that while Mary Engelbreit popularized the phrase, others give the credit to the Bishop of Geneva, Saint Francis de Sales (1567-1622). Hence, my apologies to them for this amendment which, hopefully, does not distort their intention.

But isn’t life sometimes like that? We are compelled to live and  give our best even in unlikely situation, condition, fields, places or circumstances.


Let your tears flow

Guest blog post by Arlyn Liling Tagakapis*

Let your tears flow,
Why be ashamed of them?
They are not signs of weaknesses, but power;
Allow that salty water to stream down your cheek.
Stick out your tongue and lick that bitter taste of salt that fell into your lips.
It’s the mark of your oneness with the oceans and seas.

Let your tears flow,
Why do you have to wipe them off with paper or cloth?
Allow the wind and the sun to dry your face;
The storm is not your enemy.
They must exist to keep the planet earth alive.
Let all the elements of the earth to work with you as you re-build your lives – restoring your hopes and dreams with your loved ones.

Let your tears flow,
Why so anxious of having a “clean” face?
Let tears collect into your palm and draw stain at the cloth that covers your body;
Then, open your arms and fly; and plunge into the water.
The rivers must know of your own story, loud and clear.
Let your tears flow,
Why be afraid of your vulnerabilities?
They tell you that you are human; embrace your pain and perplexities; they are holy:
Your tears of uncertainty remind you that you belong to a family, relatives, friends, and neighbors and the world.

Let your tears flow,
Why hide them with a smile?
Do you know that mermaids don’t cry and so the most unhappy specie on earth?
Have you had a chance to see mermaid? I hadn’t either.
And we fret over so many things we don’t know about?
Take things one at a time… moment by moment.

Let your tears flow,
Why fear to be blinded by tears?
Your tears are rain upon the blinding dust of the earth that hardens your soul.
As tears cover the eyes, it uncovers the heart.
And, in this blindness, prepares the way for a different kind of seeing: sight through the “eyes of faith.”


*Arlyn is a US based friend and partner in volunteerism and advocacy for change and development. A versatile fellow, she wrote this poem in solidarity with all the people in the Philippines who face harsh realities and must re-build their dreams around the “catastrophic damage” left by the strongest ever tropical cyclone (dubbed in the country as Yolanda, internationally known as Haiyan) that made a series of landfall in the Island.

The wonder of you: Revised edition

No, this is not a revised edition of the song which became a top hit in 1950s. This is a revised edition of my blog posted during the birthday of my beloved wife last month.  But I really love the song as it is reflective of our  love experiences.

dzpatriarcaWritten by Baker Knight, The Wonder of you  was released as a single by American pop music singer Ray Peterson in 1959 and recorded by English singer Ronnie Hilton in the United Kingdom in the same year. Both versions became a top hits with Peterson peaking at #25 on Top 40 in US and Hilton’s version reaching #22 on the UK Singles Chart. Soon others followed their suit including the world legendary Elvis Presley which further popularized the song after its release as his single in 1970.

From the website of, I learned an interesting story behind the song. It was actually a spiritual search. The composer was ill at the time of writing and was searching for the Deity that would always be kind and forgiving toward him no matter what the conditions. While he couldn’t say it was written directly to God, he admitted searching for Him at that time. However, he didn’t finish the song until several weeks later. The delay made him realize that the song might also make a good love song. Since there was no Contemporary Christian music in those days, he decided to make it a love song.

I  have been inspired  to make a blog on this song. My way of expressing my gratitude to the woman whose love has created  wonders  which changed my life.

edsa shiftShe came into my life when I tried to return to the mainstream of normalcy after the EDSA Revolution in 1986. Resuming my remaining year in the seminary was not possible for technical reasons. Thus, I shifted to Social Work. No longer young as my classmates, a class period was an agony, having been conditioned to a non academic life. Making the adjustment worse was the label attached to my name because of controversial past. It included my participation in a movement of church people who participated in the struggle against dictatorship. It was sort of taboo in our denomination at that time.

Isolated from my faith community, coupled with difficulty in adjustment with studies and relationship, I was about to quit and go back to where I belong. But the thought of her made me hold on. Like me, she shifted to Social Work while in senior year in another course. It was a” love at first sight“, for me, the first time we met. A terror on her part, though, having a knowledge of my background. Thus, while I tried to get close to her, the more she distanced herself. Still, she served as a challenge to me against odds.


However, all my attempts to woo her almost came to naught, including my prayers. In desperation, I think I revealed to her my plan to stage a protest action against God. (Indeed, I was really very serious with that plan.) I didn’t know if it had a bearing in my eventual success to get her precious yes. I called her the rainbow of my life. Thereafter, the wonders in our relationship, as portrayed by the song. Hence, the lyrics of  The wonder of you with intervals of the poem I made for her more than two decades ago, are addressed to my wife, as they explicitly capture the essence of our love experiences.

When no-one else can understand me
       When everything I do is wrong
              You give me hope and consolation
                       You give me strength to carry on

Like a rainbow. . . .
you come, after the storm
you accept me just as I am
you let the sun shine through
……I am no longer the same.

And you’re always there to lend a hand
        In everything I do
             That’s the wonder
                      The wonder of you

Like a rainbow. . . .
I wish the luster would stay forever
inevitably, at times it disappears
But I don’t have fear
I know its presence is still there
to appear again after another storm

And when you smile the world is brighter
        You touch my hand and I’m a king
                Your kiss to me is worth a fortune
                       Your love for me is everything

Like a rainbow. . .
our relationship looks like a compromise
between the storm and sunlight
my life’s clouded with rainstorm
yours is brilliant as daylight.

I’ll guess I’ll never know the reason why
         You love me like you do
               That’s the wonder
                       The wonder of you

Like a rainbow. . . .
Our love will glow
to prove the paradox of life,
how contradictory forces harmonize
to show the beauty in life,
when unlike poles unite.



Snapshots of Life

Like the black and white photographlariza1
Life was so simple in the 1970s
My hairline was perceived to be that of a “conservative”
Reflective of my lifestyle and perspective

In the 80s, however, some areas turned into gray
More so, when the art of photography captivated me
My focus was  on pictures of harsh realities in the society
Likewise, in solidarity, I participated in the people’s struggle for democracy


The last quarter of the 1980s witnessed the change                                                              Lariza 3Life was added with colors.
Like the emerging fad for colored pictures
Yet, the black and white side of life did not end

Lariza 4Life became the more meaningful in 1990s
When our union produced a family
Blessed with three kids, I intended to add more
But my wife’s protested, we might not take care of them all

Lariza 5

At the dawn of a new millennium, and thereinafter
More colors were added into our family affairs.
Commitment to service was no longer an exclusive property
My wife and children became active in their respective way

Lariza 6Later, however, life has become complicated
Especially, with the resurgence of my principled stance to fight for what is right
This time, directed to our Lariza 8community of faith
For these, I almost did not make it in the first decade of the new millennium (due to serious illness).

Lariza 9

By God’s grace, I successfully crawled to the finish line to cap my leadership And continue to avail of the grace of God for another decade
Believing that there is hope, where there is breath, I never cease thanking God for the coming decades

Lariza7I do not know what snapshots of life await for me
Be it black and white or colored, come what it may
Whatever happens, God will never leave me nor forsake me
This I believe, with utmost certainty

Lariza10Looking back on the snapshots of life
I cannot find any reason to fret
Rather I have to move on and give life’s best
No matter what, I will continue to live and serve


This blog started as a photo album entitled Retrato sang Kabuhi (Snapshots of Life) I posted on Facebook on the eve of my birthday,  May 27, 2012, with captions written in our local dialect- Ilonggo.The likes and comments from friends inspired me to transform the album into a blog with English translation of the Ilonggo captions for the benefit of other readers.

2012 in review: An inspiring development

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 7,700 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 13 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.


On the occasion of the global celebration of Earth Day on April 22, 2012, I reblog my post first published on July 7, 2011. This year’s theme is Mobilize the Earth.

God, the Supreme Being (known in various names to diverse tongues and context), gave man and woman the power to have dominion over the fish of the sea, birds on the air, and every living things that moves upon the earth.

But humanity used such power to dominate their fellow human beings.

The Creator put man and woman in the Garden of Eden to tend and care for it.

But men and women plunder, pollute and waste the natural resources. To ensure their domain, they cut a tree, hanged God and built a sanctuary. Confining Him on the four walls of the church, they nailed his hands and feet so that they continue destroying the earth.

Jesus the Christ came to give assurance of eternal life to the dead.

But humans ensure the living of their death by the coverage of insurance companies bearing the religious terms like Eternal Life, Ascension, Resurrection and the like

Jesus invites the weary and heavy laden to come to him and find rest and peace.

But humanity invents destructive weapons to make their fellow humans quickly rest in peace.

Jesus exhorts his followers to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, visit the prisoners, clothe the naked, invite strangers to their homes.

But humans find it pleasurable to visit the naked, sprinkle water and gas to the hungry, invite the thirsty to prison, sell to the strangers their homes.

As it was in the beginning men and women are fond of making reversals. No wonder Bernard Backman was inspired to write the Reverse Creation – a gloomy picture of what will happen in the end should these antipodes continue.

by Bernard Backman

In the end, we destroyed the heaven that was called Earth. The Earth had been beautiful until our spirit movedover it and destroyed all things.

And we said

Let there be darkness… and there was darkness. And we liked the darkness; so we called the darkness, Security.And we divided ourselves into races and religions and classes of society. And there was no morning and no evening on the seventh day before the end.

And we said…

Let there be a strong government to control us in our darkness. Let there be armies to control our bodies so thatwe may learn to kill one another neatly and efficiently in our darkness. And there was no evening and nomorning on the sixth day before the end.

And we said…

Let there be rockets and bombs to kill faster and easier; let there be gas chambers and furnaces to be morethorough. And there was no evening and no morning on the fifth day before the end.

And we said…

Let there be drugs and other forms of escape, for there is this constant annoyance – Reality – which is disturbingour comfort. And there was no evening and no morning on the fourth day before the end.

And we said…

Let there be divisions among the nations, so that we may know who is our common enemy. And there was no evening and no morning on the third day before the end.

And finally we said…

Let us create God in our image. Let some other God compete with us. Let us say that God thinks as we think,hates as we hate, and kills as we kill. And there was no morning and no evening on the second day before the end.

On the last day, there was a great noise on the face of the Earth. Fire consumed the beautiful globe, and therewas silence. The blackened Earth now rested to worship the one true God; and God saw all that we had done,and in the silence over the smoldering ruins… God wept.

You may mobilize and share the Earth Video to join in the celebration of Earth Day

A poem for DZ Querubin Patriarca on her birthday

 Angela: The Rainbow of my Life

Like a rainbow. . . .
   you come, after the storm
        you accept me just as I am
            you let the sun shine through
                ……I am no longer the same.

Like a rainbow. . . .
   I wish the luster would stay forever
      inevitably, at times it disappears
   But I don't have fear
       I know its presence is still there
          to appear again after another storm

Like a rainbow. . .
   our relationship looks like a compromise
     between the storm and sunlight
       my life’s clouded with rainstorm
   	yours is brilliant as daylight.

Like a rainbow. . . .
   Our love will glow
      to prove the paradox of life,
         how contradictory forces harmonize
           to show the beauty in life,
             when unlike poles unite.

I wrote this poem for my sweetheart  in 1987. Inspired by the newly established relationship, I spent my day in making  a poster to dramatize the change in me by such relationship. Instead of joining the usual activity associated with the Martial Law in the Philippines every September 21st, I became  engrossed in my work . After giving it to her, the poem  has found its way to various places:  in literary corner of school publications, office table, walls and other venues including the current web.  But my sweetheart   Angela ’s true identity remains a secret.

Yesterday, while looking for  meaningful quotes in our memorabilia which  I plan to post on facebook  to greet my wife in her birthday today, I found the  poster  instead.  Tattered,  I realized how  time and circumstances  made a difference in its form.  It has survived  both life’s figurative and literal storms with subsequent  flood which ruined most of our important documents. Its form has diminished.  But the message remains in tact, readable, real  and relevant .

Yes, twenty five years have passed,  my love for Angela  continues to grow. Times and circumstances  never  alter our commitment. Rather they have galvanized  our  relationship. Married now for  20  years,  blessed by three charming and intelligent  kids,  I still consider  Angela  the rainbow of my life. And my wife knows that and likes the poem, as well.

Hence, on her birthday today,  I send this poem to her through  the web to dramatize how I love her.  And  to publicly reveal  the identity of my former sweetheart, Angela Noble, to whom the poem was addressed 25 years ago.

Happy birthday, Prof. DZ Querubin Patriarca, my wife, from whom Angela Noble got her name. Querubin (Angela) and Patriarca (Noble).         I love you very much.  No storm will ever  curtail our rainbow.