Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Ms. Philippines at the 2010 Miss Universe Pageant

My wife and I thought that Ms. Raj, the 22-year old Bicolana beauty, would bring the bacon home. She was the only Asian in the finals and oozed with confidence and grace as she walked down to represent the Philippines at the 2010 Miss Universe Pageant at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas last night. Until at the very end...my heart sunk!

The question and answer section was a bummer. The question was about a major mistake in her life and her action to make the wrong right. Her answer mentioned her 'morally-right' upbringing and thanked her family, but never addressed the actor's (William Baldwin)question well. BUMMER! And down her big score. The rating meter has swung, most probably to zero. To my wife, it was an acceptable answer. To me, it wasn't and I felt bad about it. To me, it was a time when a diamond-studded crown and scepter turned into a mere withering bouquet. And it sure was. Miss Philippines was named the fourth runner-up. Miss Mexico got the Miss Universe title.

Human as we are, we have committed mistakes in our lives. Maybe that mistake did not lead to a police blotter, but, at least, there was something in our 22 years in life that, at our own personal or subjective point of view, is major. Cheating in class is a major offense to me personally, but is trivial to others. Lying is... to me; but is nothing to others. Ms. Raj answer created a smirk and interpreted probably as a "holier-than-thou" attitude, a negative effect to an inner beauty and sharpness of mind.

"Was Ms. Raj's answer a reflection of who we are or what our training is?" My mind wandered as I drove to the gym for my 11 pm workout. The Miss Philippines response brought my memories back to my time when I taught graduate students at the Philippine Normal University.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Christmas Poem & A Nostalgic Christmas

(A Shakespearean sonnet in Acrostic)

Melodious carols playing in the air.
Exciting lights that make the world so bright
Rekindling hope for those in need of care
Rejoice! It’s Christmas! Show your heart’s delight.

Yes, yuletide’s here, let’s raise our voices high.
Christ’s birth proclaimed, ye, people of goodwill.
Hear ye, oh people, sadness you’d get by.
Rejoice! It’s Christmas! New hope to unveil!

In times like this some need a little aid.
Show them some love, portray the love of God.
The joy you’d feel so dear you won’t dare trade.
Must do this deed in truth, not just fa├žade!

Ah, Christmas is the time to share and cheer
So share it now and all throughout the year.

NOSTALGIA: Dreaming of a WILD and SMOKEY Christmas
Edmund Melig Industan

Well, the concert of the Fil-Am Symphony Orchestra (FASO), under the baton of Maestro Robert Shroder is over. My mouth was opened almost through out the program as I listened while they stringed and drummed the heavenly Handel's Messiah, and joyously accompanied a Filipino chorus and children's choir as they sang Pinoy and other universally known Christmas carols in a concert at Pasadena Convention Center on December 6th. It was called HANDOG NG FASO SA PASKO, so it brought tears as we immersed into the lyrics of Filipino well-loved Christmas carols. Coming home from the concert, many might have experienced mixed emotions: appreciative that a concert have brought Philippines yuletide just a few miles away from our doorsteps, but oh boy, we became, all the more, nostalgic.

Searching how to fill emptiness and to make themselves busy so as to forget nostalgia, many probably have also considered attending the three O'clock (Dec. 13th-that's tomorrow)Christmas concert of Lake Avenue Sanctuary Choir (also in Pasadena), of which I and four other Filipinos have been members. Then, some may even have thought of joining Lake Avenue Church Sanctuary Choir and the symphony orchestra on Dec. 20th (5p.m.) for a Sing-Along performance on Handel's Messiah, where copies of musical score would be waiting at the door for all those who wanted to join in the singing. Many might have thought to come with the hope that it would make their Christmas season complete. But everyone knows that it won't! Spending Christmas back home is definitely different.

FASOs concert was absolutely superb, professionally sang and performed. Certainly, everyone was entertained, but it did not completely fill in the gap of what we feel missing. Ah, everyone is probably missing the spontaneity of celebrating Christmas in the Philippines.

Oh, if we could just have a couple of weeks off work; if there could just have an available seat in any Philippine Airlines flight, we surely would have been packing lightly to savor the real Philippine yuletide. Longings of coming home during Christmas always sets in. The deafening, booming and swooshing sound of firecrackers and bamboo luthang (cannon), the wee-hour Simbang Gabi , and the constant caroling by off-keyed children, who sometimes come to our door a couple of times in one evening to sing carols for a quick buck. Yes, despite peak season for travel; despite being ogled and treated like a white bearded and red-suited chubby Santa, even though we are slim and skinny, smooth, and almost half-naked (due to heat and high humidity), we still want to be home for Christmas. Almost everyone would not mind if Christmas trip to the Philippines would be so expensive. If our work would just allow us and flight seats would be available, all of us would surely fly home. Unfortunately, not all of us could go.

We let our tears roll down like the Pagsanjan or Sawaga Falls while listening to Christmas music. We intentionally honk our cars, while driving either to the mall or work place, to simulate busy traffic in Quiapo or Colon district in Cebu. Our bosses and colleagues often see us staring at the horizon and doubling their effort to call our attention, because we find ourselves dreaming of colorful parols, the acidic smell of bibingka, and the infusing smoke of puto bumbong. We daydream ignoring the effluvium from uncollected garbage, muddy streets and alleys in Baclaran and Divisoria, huge holes in pockets and purses, and the hustle-bustle from honking jeepneys, buses, taxis and mendicants. We just feel that nothing can compare spending Christmas in the Philippines.

Growing up in a small barrio before Malaybalay (Bukidnon) became a city, then, gotten older while living in a real estate subdivision close to Camarin, Caloocan City before coming to the U.S., I always miss the young carolers in the Philippines. I miss those rattling homemade tambourines made from flattened tops of bottled soda, soy sauce or Tanduay. I miss the banging of plastic pails and spoons to accompany the singing of "Ang Pasko ay Sumpait" by enterprising kids and teenagers. I miss listening to a cantata by a small church in Constitutional Hills, QC, who comes to our house every Christmas for cheers and fund raising. I miss hearing those off-keyed tunes of "Thank you...thank you...ang babait ninyo"; even those from ungrateful kids who sing "Thank you...thank you...ang babarat ninyo!" Oh, if we could just have such carolers here in US, we probably would feel complete at Christmas time.

Hey, we could probably bring over here some good cultural practices on Christmas. I am aware that some Catholic groups are already having Simbang Gabi. What about bringing in some smoked banana leaves and dough and request a few church goers to let the fire going just outside the church to bring the smokey-side of Simbang Gabi. Fil-Am churches or non-profit organizations could probably organize Christmas carolers to sing in Filipino homes and raise funds for a cause. I am pretty sure, many Filipino household would welcome it. Who knows some non-Filipino households would also welcome Filipino carolers to their homes. Organizers would just have to send letters to the households to be sure that carolers would not be infringing their privacy. Who knows, caroling, the Filipino way, and Simbang Gabi would etch their way as accepted cultural practices here in US. How about giving them a try next year?

Maligayang Pasko ho sa lahat.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


As far as I can remember, Thanksgiving Day celebration in the Philippines is conflicting and confusing. It is therefore obvious that many Filipinos do not celebrate it as festive as barrio or town fiestas.

Couple days ago, I asked a dozen Filipino elders if they ever think of September 21st as they celebrate Thanksgiving Day. More than half looked at me perplexed. Four of them told me that it was the day that Martial Law was proclaimed by the deposed president and, by Presidential Decree 577 signed on September 1974, also declared as the National Thanksgiving Day probably to conceal the repressive character of the New Society. One of the twelve even told me that he never celebrated Sept. 21st as a Thanksgiving Day. In fact, when it was proclaimed, he imagined that the deposed president would like all Filipinos to treat him like Mao-tze-tung: the entire country go out to the street with his picture paraded and hailed, along with red buntings and confetti. "Thank God, that didn't happen", he further said. National Thanksgiving Day in the Philippines was obviously political in nature.

Actually, July 4th was the original Thanksgiving Day in the Philippines. It was the day in 1946 when the US government, under the Tydings-McDuffie Law officially recognized the 1935 First Philippine Constitution. It was a thanksgiving for freedom received from foreign rule. When thanksgiving date was moved to Sept. 21st, 4th of July was renamed as the Philippine-American Friendship Day. Unfortunately, the day never became a national thanksgiving celebration. We do celebrate it with street parades, but never as a family festivity.

Anyway, at the church where I grew up, Thanksgiving is a "church family" festival. Church members go out to the community to invite non-church goers. Food committee busied themselves cooking at the back of our church. Decoration committee decorated the church interior with red and green coffee berries naturally lined on their twigs, corn cobs firmly intact on their stalks, hands of ripe bananas, riped guavas, sour sop, star apples, legumes, green and yellow squash and red and white sweet potatoes with vines neatly hanging down the table and sprawling onto the cement floor. More corn cobs and stalks, and banana trees with ripe yellow and red fruits hanging in cluster, standing tall on both corners outside the church. We brushed aside, even church politics, to joyously celebrate (in thanksgiving) all the blessings and fruits of our labor for the year. After church service, many spread colorful mats and blankets on the church yard and we feasted on lechon and fried chicken, pansit and meatballs, Dakan (taro leaves cooked in coconut cream with anchovies), and pechay and adobong string beans. Those who brought food shared what they have. So, we also have dried fish and sardine balls, biko and cassava suman, puto and cassava linusak (cooked cassava mashed with freshly grated coconut and sugar). Most of the church members were farmers; however, no one raised turkey in our barrio, so that probably made us "un-american". But Thanksgiving Day was always the time when the church got more tithes and offerings.

I remember that we always celebrate Thanksgiving in November. Call it American mentality, but I don't care. Our church was a product of zealous effort by early Baptist missionaries from America. But I also remember that when Martial Law moved Thanksgiving to September, the festive celebration waned. Many church members would like to move it back to November, because they felt that there was nothing to celebrate in September, except maimed tongues and bruised psyche. I still remember my father, the pastor, preached on Psalm 136: 3 for everyone not to forget to thank the Lord for His love never fails. He told us, during one lean year, that even though harvest was scarce, there was still so much to be thankful of.

Coming over and celebrating Thanksgiving Day in November always takes me back to those very good old days. Although thoughts are often times marred with secularism, Thanksgiving sale, and enjoyed the televised Macy's Parade rather than a feast on church yard; but at least, we always have a family reunion and a feast on turkey and ham, on rice (sorry, only my grandchildren like mashed potato) and cranberry, and of biko, suman, and leche flan. It wouldn't be a church festivity anymore, but I am glad my family still celebrate it in November along with the rest of America.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

Here's a ghazal for you to enjoy. This was published in Pasadena Star News last year and in LA Pinoy Magazine this month.

(An Acrostic in Ghazal)

Table full of food on Thanksgiving Day…
Happy ties renewed on Thanksgiving Day.

All enjoying turkey, ham and cranberry…
Never a bad mood on Thanksgiving Day!

Keeping togetherness as one family…
Shrugging off a feud on Thanksgiving Day!

Grateful for life and love and prosperity…
Instill what is good on Thanksgiving Day.

Value for love, you share for those who’ve not…
Indeed joy is pursued on Thanksgiving Day.

Numerous good deeds to do for others, I say,
Give thanks! Be happy this Thanksgiving Day.

(c) 2007 edmund melig industan

NOTE: Should you want to give a thanksgiving or Christmas present for your friends and loved ones, I would encourage you to give them copies of my book, PRAISING ALL SEASONS LONG: Haiku Verses. Only $9.99 in the US. Available on Amazon.com, comfortpublishing.com/store,vroman's.com, borders.com, barnes&noble.com. Also available online in UK, Italy, France, Germany, Japan, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, India, and So. Africa.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Don't get me wrong! I'm not an egoist! Nevertheless, I regularly do online surfing for my name.

Why? I tell you why. I wanted to check where my books are available. Every now and then, I see new online book outlets in other countries that are selling them. Recently, I realized that more book outlets in Australia and New Zealand are carrying KOILAWAN and PRAISING ALL SEASONS LONG: Haiku Verses. I thank you for getting your copies. Oh, yeah, please consider getting 1 or more copies of PRAISING... It is an excellent and inexpensive (but lasting) gift book for all season. Price is just $9.99 (US);17 and a change in Australian dollars.

Couple of days ago, I saw my name on a Share Rank site. Curious, I opened it and found that one of its subscribers has ranked my poem, PEACE, WHY ARE YOU SO ELUSIVE, as one of the best quatern verses posted online. Currently, Peace... has been ranked #2. Actually, the first four got equal votes (yes, readers could vote and comment), but I am happy to be #2 out of 10.

Recently, I joined Christianpoetry.com to post some of my verses with Christian themes. I have posted some verses from my gift book, PRAISING ALL SEASONS..., a Shakespearean sonnet, and a blank verse. I would love you to check them out. You also could leave your comments after reading them.

And my novel writing? Yes, some of you asked me how come I discontinued my chapter blogging. I apologize; however, it is just temporary. I will resume it next week.
Reason is; my fourth grandchild, who will turn 3 next month, has started Head Start. To celebrate it, I temporarily shelved my novel project to write a 24-page phonic story. Angel is my grandchild's nick name, short for Angelina. Hence, I decided to write "L" for LULU LAND AND ANGEL. Besides Applied Anthropology, I taught Literacy: Materials Preparation to graduate students at Philippine Normal University before; hence, it was fun for me to recall some principles in writing phonic materials for Pre-K to 3.

Here's a sample of the proposed phonic book.

Page 1

Lights off!
Angel is leaving for Lulu Land.
A place close to Dream Land!
A place next to none!

Page 2

Lulu Land
A land for fun!
A land full of fun!
It is a land for Angel to have fun.

Page 3

Lulu Land
A place to laugh!
A place to smile!
It is a place for Angel to laugh and smile.


Page 13

Let us leave early.
Let us leave when clouds are lumpy.
Let us load our sack lunch.
Let us eat lunch in Lulu Land.

Page 14

Look! The sign says Lulu Land.
Look! Lots of children are now in line.
Look! All children have sack lunch.
Like us, they will eat lunch in Lulu Land.


I already finished writing 24 pages. Publisher, I believe, requires 24-page story for Pre-K to 3 materials. My plan is to make arrangement with some schools here in Pasadena and test the book amongst Pre-k to K-1 classes. First stop will be the public school where my other two grandchildren are attending. Meantime, I am checking out some pictures or art work for each page. The preparation would probably take a month before I am ready to do some school rounds. If everything would turn out well, I would be pitching this phonic story to a children's book publisher.

Happy weekend everyone!

Monday, September 14, 2009


1) So tired traversing the complex life web,
I tried every nook; tasted every food.
Comfort, it gave me; fullness, it served me.
Lo and behold! All were temporary.

2) I shifted! I moved! Diff'rent crevices
I've visited to find my comfort zone.
Enjoyed the laughs; I ogled in the dark!
So sad when alone; needs unsatisfied.

3) I searched for answers~shelves of well-read tomes.
Roosevelt's Freedom from Wants~ to Maslow's Needs~
I also checked on Durkheim's suicide book,
Before I turned to the old Book of books!

4) "You come; you weary trav'ler. Come to me.
I got the stillness you need. Come and rest!
I got the water you need. Quench your thirst!
I got the life eternal. Come have peace!"

5) I wrestled! All excuses I have giv'n.
My spirit wants, but, oh, my flesh doesn't.
The world I love so difficult to yield.
I can't! Not now! Convict my soul next time.

6) "I have selected you amongst many.
I wanted you to come into my fold.
I died for you; I shed my blood for you.
Conform to my will. I have chosen you."

7) The world so beautiful; 'though it's a mess.
A maze so vast; seems there's no way out.
The dead-end's plenty; the hedges so thick~
Is there no way for world to give me peace?

8) "I made the world and all that is therein;
It's beauty marred by self-enriching men.
The talents I give them~used without me.
Joys they offer lead people go astray."

9) So tough to go against the stream of life;
So difficult to turn one's back away!
Can I not do your will and do the world's?
Is there no easy path to be with you?"

10) "My cross is the shortest! No other way.
My door is still open. Please don't delay.
I have been waiting for you to come in.
Join my family and dine with me."

11) You weigh me now, I surely will fall short.
My ways are different from those in your fold.
"Son, my blood is red, as crimson as yours
My saving grace is giv'n. It's free. It's yours."

12) You know I'm stubborn, spoiled good old brat.
More blunders I will make; more shame I'll give
You. ~Can't be good testimony for you.
Imperfect; if I would give in today.

13) "Not done with you yet," God reminded me.
"Go on! You study~and learn more of me.
Let me mold you, a potter to miry clay,
And perfect you'll be for eternity.

14) Be reconciled and grow in me," said he.
"Forget the world; focus your thoughts in me.
Join my family. I'll adopt you wholly.
My ways aren't easy; your guide, I'll be.

15) The fam'ly's my idea to gain strength,
But free will, still I give, to all my kids.
Unlikely people, they're in my fam'ly
Like you; they are still weak~needing support.

16) So don't be discouraged; please do not fret.
I'm sovereign, controlling everything.
If you'd need guidance; I'd be in your heart.
Share me your fears as a child to a dad."

17) But, Lord, I fall short, got my own limits~
Measuring up to your will is hard to attain.
"Don't worry, son, I do understand.
I made you that way so just trust in me."

18) Walls tumbling down; my tears rolling down.
Man's love melted; Agape love transcended.
I felt the power, Holy Spirit filled me.
I'm now~ a member of God's family.

19) Unsearchable riches awaiting me.
Looked everywhere e'en in nooks dimly lit.
Failed to heed God's call; blinded by the world.
Yes, I'm in this world, but not with the world.

20) Mysterious fellowship, the fam'ly of God
I'm part of it! Praise God for saving grace.
In Him there is strength and it will never end.
Now, I have the joy that is full and complete.

(c)edmund melig industan, Sept. 2008

Note: I wrote this Blank Form poetry to recapitulate the month-long sermon series of our pastor at Lake Avenue Church, Pasadena, California. May this poetry gives you a light in the tunnel.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Chapter Blogging: Instilling Discipline & Patience to a Novel Writer

Before I started writing chapters of my first novel, THE PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER'S WIFE, I already have the complete story in my mind. Matter of fact, I completed laying its foundation by writing titles and story lines of chapter 1 through chapter 32.

Like a house builder, I know what bricks to use every time I'm in front of my computer. However, I am realizing now that completing the novel is not simple as eating an apple pie.

Writing a novel is not the same as writing my masters thesis and doctoral dissertation. Non-fiction like thesis or dissertation, only needs collecting data, analysis, writing, and presenting findings and recommendations. Fiction like novel, creativeness is needed. That means that one has to let the imagination go wild on how to present details, and twists and turns of the story.

In non-fiction writing, every chapter is complete. A chapter in the presentation of data is complete once all pertinent data is included. A chapter in the analysis of data is simply an analysis using statistical tools with paragraphs that simply explain the analysis. No more; no less. Every chapter has no twist and turns, just pure details. The goal is to prove an assumption of a particular phenomenon.

Fiction, specifically novel writing, has several things to consider. Certainly, each chapter has to abide with the novel's plot. However, a novelist also has to consider some factors: How could I make my characters believable? How could I dispose my characters' personality? How could I embellish the chapter so that readers could see, feel, touch, smell, taste, and hear the chapter's events; and yet keeping some of the details secret so that readers would continue looking for them in the next chapter or chapters? Etcetera! Quite frankly, I haven't experienced such challenges when I was writing my first book, KOILAWAN:Letters and Poems of a Jungle Dad-Mom (Xulon Press, 2007), and my upcoming book, BEDTIME-PASTIME (Kalanganan dun hu Ikam): Collection of Short Stories, Folktales, and Essays (New Day Publishers). I definitely did not have similar challenge when I wrote my second book, PRAISING ALL SEASONS LONG: Haiku Verses (Comfort Publishing,2009) and my other collections of haiku and senryu verses, THE HEALING GARDEN OF VERSES,which I am currently pitching to a poetry publisher.

There was a moment when I was about to hit the wall. After writing several paragraphs or dialogue, I sometimes have to pause and ask, "Am I true to the plot? Is this the proper way to string this new chapter to the previous ones? Am I divulging everything in this chapter that the readers would put the book down without even getting halfway through it? Etc.

I know teachers in creative writing would tell me, "Keep your thoughts flowing. Don't stop writing."

To keep me going, I need to discipline myself, including my thoughts. I need to be patient and enjoy the sight, the feelings, the touch, the smell, the taste, and the voices at the setting and of the characters. One way of instilling discipline and patience is to blog some glimpses of the chapters that I am working on. Blogging some glimpses tells me that I have to keep on writing, because those who read my blog already know it. Blog pushes me inside the characters' minds; henceforth, allowing me to put the details to complete a chapter without hitting the wall.

Here's the story line of Chapter 6.


Being all alone in the village and having problem with communication, (All of the villagers, but Laga, only speak the tribe's language), that Michael clings onto Laga like his crutch. As a result, he secretly falls for Laga. However, he is conflicted with so many thing: Laga’s love with another man, the cultural taboo, his professional goals, his family in the US, etc.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Peace Corps Volunteer's Wife: Chapter 3 Blog

Certainly, culture isn't a closed system. As long as people have senses and unsatiable needs, culture will always be dynamic.

Laga grew up in a small Bukidnon village, so far away from the city. A chieftain, who also was the shaman, tried to keep new ideas away from infusing to the village culture. He even invoke the power of the deities just to control the lives and minds of every villager.

However, it is better to control a herd of cattle than a person, the saying goes. People have been given the mind to think and the free will on how to live.

For Laga, she wasn't contented, even when she still was young, to live and die in the village. Nonetheless, she loved the village. She intent to come back. Her love for language and learning was just so strong to ignore. She wanted to explore the world of other cultural group. So, after she finished 6th grade, she convinced her parents to allow her to continue her schooling in Malaybalay. The village chieftain/shaman wasn't happy with the decision. He even told Laga's parent's that the forefathers revealed in a dream Laga's disfigurement if she'd kept on pushing her desire to go to the city. Laga didn't listen.

Poverty did not discouraged Laga to keep on learning. When there was rat infestation in her village, she decided to find a family, who could take her as a domestic helper and allow her to attend a night high. The governor's wife heard about it, so she took her as a house help.

And Laga stayed with the governor's family. She cleaned the house, cooked, did the dishes and laundry, literally an all-around domestic helper. She felt that she's reaping positive result from all her sacrifices. She wanted to show it to the villagers that she asked to have a summer break before her senior year. The shaman strengthened a rein on her... And the story of The Peace Corps Volunteer's Wife continued.