Sunday, June 29, 2008

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A Sample Agenda for Small Meetings

This picture is photographed by Mark Hodgins and is under the creative commons (attribution) , which means - you can freely use the picture but you have to give credit to the photographer.

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I. Opening Prayer

II. Thought of the Day

III. Reading of the Minutes of the Previous Meeting

IV. Meeting Proper

a. Agenda A
b. Agenda B
c. Agenda C
d. Agenda D
e. Agenda E

V. Other Matters

VI. Closing Prayer

This can be modified of course, to your own preference.

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Food For Thought

This one is from the movie The Barnyard (A cartoon movie).

Otis- the central character was despondent as he feels he could not handle the enormous task of being a leader.

This is what his friend said to him:


An Opening Prayer for An Academic Meeting

Let's bow our heads and place ourselves in the presence of the Lord.

Dear God, we are gathered here before you to map out plans for this academic year.

Grant us the wisdom and spiritual enlightenment to be able to come up with plans that are beneficial to all of us.

Make us realize that we have the moral responsibility to render service to the best of our ability.

Give us the strength to be able to overcome all the challenges that may come our way.

This we ask through Christ our Lord Amen.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


You may want to read Chapter 5 first.

It was a standoff!

"Sir, they won't budge an inch," the scrawny private reported to Major Abunda and Lieutenant Antonio.

They have been there for almost an hour and no prodding nor cajoling could convince the throng of men, women, and children of Tindayan to leave the road. Tindayan was the nearest village from where they were.

Major Abunda spoke through his handy loudspeaker, " Please disperse, we are not here to harm you or drive you away from your homes. Just let us pass through."

Photo by BitHead

There was irritation in his voice. "They had traveled through the treacherous, winding road of Kalinga for 12 hours and they could not just turn around now," Major Abunda thought to himself. They had to deliver the dam's construction materials or their arduous trip would be in vain. The task would have been simpler if their air support was sufficient and capable of accomplishing the enormous assignment. He cursed inwardly.

A hundred yards away from where Major Abunda stood, the women in their ginamat(woven clothing) - their bare feet and arms still caked with mud from the fields - had linked their arms to each other.

In front of them were the children - they were sweating profusely amidst the searing heat of the noonday sun. Most of the children were crying. Perhaps their keen child-like perception had sensed the gravity of the situation.

Photo by: toOliver2
The unarmed men , on the other hand, stood stubbornly - shoulder to shoulder - at the middle of the narrow road.

It was a "human" barricade!

For the army to be able to pass through, they would have to run them over.

There was no other way in. The verdant mountains towered on both sides of the narrow dilapidated opening.

Major Abunda consulted with his junior. " We will have to fire some guns, " he said, "just to scare them off - fire them up in the air."

Just then there was a cheer from the other side, A man with a white flag emerged from the throng.

He was unarmed.

They could see that he was instructing the women and children to take cover behind the thick foliage at the further end of the road while the unarmed men stood unmoving. and unperturbed . Benny was in the lead, waving the white flag high up in the air.

"Sir, it's Ka Benny," Lt. Antonio whispered in awe, unable to conceal his emotions . "He obviously wants to negotiate."

Major Abunda spat on the ground and cursed. "Let's go."

He stared balefully at Lt. Antonio when the latter indicated that he should leave his gun. He unceremoniously tossed the gun to the private, before he swaggered towards Benny. His lumbering frame leaving an unpleasant scent of cigarette and booze in his wake. Lt. Antonio followed him grudgingly, his growing disrespect for the major evident in his manner.

Benny met him halfway. " You can't force your way through, Major, " Benny calmly pronounced.

" Oh, the charismatic rebel! " the Major jeered, "perhaps not so much in his leadership abilities but because he is such a good looking man, more than anything else," he continued sarcastically.

Benny ignored his remark. " You have to accept defeat like a gentleman. As we speak, people from the barrio of Liba and Taloctoc are on their way," he was thinking of Julia as he said this - his beloved Julia would soon be there.

"We will pass through by hook or by crook. Yes we will," Major Abunda assured him condescendingly.

"All we want is to live in peace in the land that our forefathers tilled for decades even before you and I were born," Benny continued, like he had not been interrupted. "Leave us in peace."

Lt. Antonio, spoke for the first time, " Ka Benny, the dam will provide the electricity that we need... ," he was saying.

"That YOU need, Lt. Antonio. Let's not argue about that again."

"The government is willing to relocate them, " the general cut in irritatedly, "now allow us to get on with our job".

"Don't you see Major? You obey your orders because it is your job, but these people are here because they believe in their cause. Now that the peace pact is in place, they will have peace. They have simple needs and simple wants. They are happy with what they have right now. They consider this land holy and sacred and would be willing to die for it."

"So you won't mediate and tell them to leave peacefully," Major Abunda spat angrily.

"No, I came here to help avoid bloodshed. Think about it Major. You will be the first one to go down in Philippine history as the notorious officer who murdered hundreds of unarmed and innocent civilians. I am telling you now, they won't give in. " Benny was speaking to the Major but he was looking at Lt. Antonio.

Major Abunda's face flashed a crimson red. "Let's see, " he said and turned on his heels in rage. Lt. Antonio ran to keep up with him.

"Ka Benny is a rebel, shoot him," he commanded Lt. Antonio

Lt. Antonio looked at him agape. "We can't do that here sir, he's unarmed, and we have hundreds of witnesses. "

"Shoot them!" he roared the command to the soldiers behind him.

No one moved. The company of soldiers stood at attention - but no one moved.

Photo by: Department of Defense

The conversation that occurred in the middle of the road echoed a hundred fold due to the deathly quietness around them, and the soldiers had heard every point Benny raised. Most of them came from tribal minorities and they understood what Benny had firmly and uneqiuvocally stated.

One would not understand this, if one did not live in that part of the mountains.

They also trusted the judgment of Lt. Antonio and they were willing to stand behind his decision - court martial or no court martial! They have been under his direct command for years now and he had proven to be a competent and able leader.

Generals and Majors usually come and go!

"What are you waiting for, shoot them," the Major roared.

"Sir, we can't do that. " Lt. Antonio's face was incredulous.

Still no one obeyed the order.

Without warning, the Major grabbed his gun and fired several rounds at Benny. One bullet found its mark, and Benny went down with a painful groan.

Anxious cries came from the women and children, they surged forward like a herd gone berserk.

Lt. Antonio grappled for the gun from the Major, "Don't shoot, Don't shoot!" he shouted to the men behind them.

There was a short scuffle and the Major was finally disarmed and handcuffed.

" I place you under arrest for the attempted murder of Ka Benny," Lt. Antonio went into the litany of the Major's rights.

The Major was livid with anger but he stopped struggling. "You will all pay for this in a court martial, " he screeched at them, but no one listened to him.

Lt. Antonio summoned the medic and they ran towards Benny.

Benny was trying to sit up and was reassuring everyone he was fine, "It's just a minor wound,"

But the large amount of blood that was splattered on the dusty, dry ground told the opposite story.

Lt. Antonio knew Benny was downplaying the injury. This was to avoid inspiring the people's wrath which would have caused a confrontation between the two groups.

He knew in his heart, Benny would give up his life for his people's safety and happiness.

The medic, worriedly whispered something to Lt. Antonio.

Lt. Antonio tapped Benny lightly on the shoulder, " Well , mate, it seems, I have captured one of the regional commanders of the NPA. I will have to turn you in. You need prompt and highly specialized, medical attention ," he said nonchalantly, injecting the gaiety in his voice which he did not feel.

Lt. Antonio's admiration for Benny, was evident. "Don't worry, I'll personally take charge of you". They will have to call in the helicopter, Lt. Antonio was extremely worried.

Benny opened his eyes and smiled weakly at his former, college classmate, " Well,. you deserve it lieutenant. Turn me in, and earn the accolade. Just leave my people alone."




Monday, June 23, 2008


By Francis Scudellari

Careless he falls into ritual pose
Do dropped, down before this mothering knot;
Her gathering brown limbs, machine-carved smooth
In hollow, molded arc, to cradle him;

His knees nudge close, drawn by a heavy pulse,
Curiosity fed by seeming cord;
Hesitant he fingers the glassy skin,
Conceiving ways through this liquid portal;

Pressed tips against her bulged belly aglow,
Electric blue halos ripple round each;
Touch-transmitted urge: to be reverse born,
Head-first pulled again into womb-like warmth;

To lie, fetal curled in a bubble's bath,
Washed in white noise, Technicolor shadows;
His senses bombarded numb, readied when
He's unquestioning tossed, back to the world.


FRANCIS SCUDELLARI of CAUGHT IN THE STREAM (Abstracting Art From Life), is an artist extraordinaire. He draws/paints, writes short stories and poems. His poems have a particular enigmatic appeal that leaves the reader a wide variety of wondrous interpretations.

His artist's hand reminds me of Gadamer 's hermeneutic approach to literature and arts - that of an interplay between the artist and the receiver; that the representation the art implies, should not be taken as is , but as a part of the union of what the artist wants to symbolize and the receiver's personal experiences . The "space " between the two is merged. This then produces a new meaning for each viewing individual/receiver - to his work of art.

The poem above is for the drawing posted below. Observe how you would relate the wonderful poem to his drawing. You would experience what I have cited above - the merging of your perception and of his - a dynamic interplay. That is what " true art" is all about!

Visit his blog and be amazed at his unique brand of art and literature.

Thank you Francis, for the honor.

Sunday, June 22, 2008




FRANCIS SCUDELLARI of CAUGHT IN THE STREAM (Abstracting Art From Life), is an artist extraordinaire. He draws/paints, writes short stories and poems. His poems have a particular enigmatic appeal that leaves the reader a wide variety of wondrous interpretations.

His artist's hand reminds me of Gadamer 's hermeneutic approach to literature and arts - that of an interplay between the artist and the receiver; that the representation the art implies, should not be taken as is , but as a part of the union of what the artist wants to symbolize and the receiver's personal experiences . The "space " between the two is merged. This then produces a new meaning for each viewing individual/receiver - to his work of art.

A poem about this drawing is posted above.

Were you able to interpret it in various unique ways?

Visit his blog and be amazed at his unique brand of art and literature.

Thank you Francis, for the honor.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Photo by IrisDragon

You may want to read chapter 4 first.

The zephyr breeze caressed her upturned face
and diffused into the thin moisture of sweat that seeped through her skin.. She gasped, seemingly in need of air. Her eyes were closed, like a maiden in repose. She had delicate, gossamer wings on - flimsy, undulating appendages - that were gently flying her higher and higher up the clouds. She moaned and her thighs quivered as each exquisite rivulet of sensation coursed through her body.

Benny, kissed her mount of Hedon once more as another moan of pleasure escaped from her .
The building desire that Benny felt had reached its crescendo. It was more than he could bear now. His mouth on hers, he gently lowered himself into Julia. When skin touched skin - two became one - and their bodies were lost in the miasma of pleasure and ecstasy. It was like a glowing ember - at first, flickering in the dark, then increasing in intensity... growing bigger and brighter... until it became one fiery conflagration that was difficult to contain. This left them grasping and clinging hungrily for each other. They were oblivious of everything around them as they rolled and wrestled on the bamboo floor of the small hut.

Outside, a bonfire was raging. A handful of young men and women were singing the salidummay - "ay ay salidummay, salidummay, diway." ( a native chant). Their eager, brown faces looked surreal amidst the shadows of the night. The "gangsa" (gongs) have been neatly stacked in one corner of the small, corrugated plaza. The plaza was almost empty now, except for them. The arm of Morpheus seemed to be at a distance to these young people, as they laughed merrily, taunted and flirted with each other.

It was Benny and Julia's first night as husband and wife.

The taddok (native dances) and the gangsa (gongs) had opened the festivities in the morning, while a cow was butchered for that momentous occasion - complete with the native rituals that the old folks had performed. There was merrymaking all day long, with lots of "basi" native wine and rice cakes enough for the small, far -flung barrio to feast on.

Fr. Belucci wanted to conduct a formal church wedding but the increasing violence and unrest in the area had made it impossible for them to implement that plan. Instead, a native Taloctoc wedding took place, where Benny's parents finally met Julia's.

The good priest was too old to take the arduous trek to Taloctoc; but he did not protest to the native wedding as he was aware that native marriages were even more binding and respected by the people.

In Taloctoc, even at very young ages, children were betrothed to someone their parents considered suitable. When the child reached puberty, marriage was the inevitable conclusion. The word "love" never came into the picture. Love was a relative word for them. So the tradition of betrothal was usually followed without question. Benny was spared of this, because of Fr. Belucci.
Far from the perimeter of the eerie shadows of the bonfire, 5 men stood rigidly on guard . In spite of the festive air, their ears and eyes were alert and wary. And it was justified that they should be , for after a few minutes, a man came crashing through the thick foliage.

"Where's Ka Benny?" the man asked in one burst of bated breath.

" Calm down, what is it?"

" We have to get going, a whole battalion of soldiers will be at Tindayan tomorrow morning to start bringing materials for the dam," he could not conceal the growing desperation in his voice.

At the first loud knock, Benny knew it was time to go. He was thankful, God had given him those few, precious hours to be with his parents again and to be wed to the woman he loved most.

"They did what I predicted ," Benny said as a matter-of -fact, before the man could open his mouth.

The man vigorously nodded. "Yes, is positive, they had started their convoy now.

"Then gather the men. Let's start moving" Benny directed. He stood for a minute staring at the back of the departing man and thought, " Was this a part of my plan when I started schooling? To be the regional commander of the NPA (New People's Army)? He had never been a violent man...even now...but fate had handed him a different dish. He was lucky, Taloctoc was one of the NPA's stronghold, or he would not have been able to get married peacefully.

Photo by Jenn of Jenn Was Here

When Ka Pepe had literally forced him and Julia to go to the mountains with them on that dreadful night, he had never thought that he would be taking Ka Pepe's place. Ka Pepe had died in one bloody encounter with the army in the mountains of Benguet. From then on, the rest of the men, looked up to him for guidance and direction. He was one of the youngest in the group but his thoughts and ideas were brilliant. His tactical offensives were like that of an experienced general in the field of battle. Benny knew it was because of the countless books that he had read which gave him vital insights into many things. He was voted unanimously to take Ka Pepe's place.

The atrocities of the government coupled with the abuse of the military because of martial law had caused Benny to question the government's supposed to be - pro-people agenda. The tribal chief of Tindayan had been assassinated because of the dam project and now they were bringing in the army to drive them away from the land that they had treasured and considered their lifeline. He realized to his surprise that the NPA's idealogies were the goals he would like to achieve : equality, freedom and justice for all.

"What is it?" Julia was beside him.

He snapped out of his train of thoughts and looked into her eyes. How he loved this woman so much. He had read in books the phrases-"love at first sight" and "head over heels" but he had laughed at these then. How could a person fall in love at first glance? But he was sure now, that what he felt for Julia was not only love at first sight but a love he could not even properly, articulate in words ( and people say that he was a prolific writer!) .

They were barely together for 2 weeks, but he had been drawn like a magnet- irresistibly and undeniably- towards her. He could not imagine life without Julia- and he knew he had to marry her or he'll never be happy.

"Do you have to go now?" her voice was worried but soothing and calm.

"I'm afraid we have to," he touched her face with the tips of his finger, tracing the contours that he came to know so intimately that night.

"I love you", he said, whispering...seeking...adoring...

"I love you too," she said and kissed him fervently - almost like a prayer.





Thursday, June 12, 2008


You may want to read Chapter 3 first.

" I call this meeting to order"
, there was a hush inside the stuffy room, and everyone fell silent.

" The authorities have already threatened imprisonment should we refuse to give in to their demands." the presider was a stern, swarthy man in his early forties.
We have enlisted the support of our University students to create public awareness of what the government is trying to do." he motioned to Benny.

" Our plan is to campaign among our peers in the University to support our cause. Progress should be permitted but not at the expense of our families and homes. The Dam will be obliterating parts of Tindayan and Sakyan and the entire municipality of Mangala , Liba and Taloctoc... " as Benny was saying these, there was a lump forming in his throat.

" Apparently, we don't get the benefits of this enormous project," a female voice continued. " We need to join forces, forget about our thirst for vengeance and make a concerted effort to fight for what we hold dear - our ancestral homes."

Benny was staring dumbfounded at the young woman, standing a few feet away from him. It was Julia! So timely of her to butt in, because the lump finally congealed into a malignant mass that threatened to block his speech.

"Let's forget about past transgressions, tribal wars won't allow us to retain our lands. There will be no lands to own, once we grant permission for the dam's construction. Our barrio folks should be aware of this fact." Julia continued grimly.

" We don't have any document to show we own the land," a voice chimed in.

" Nobody owns the land - not even the government. It is an ancestral land where our fathers and our forefathers have lived for hundreds of years. If ownership is to be established, the land belongs to us because we nurtured and cultivated it."

There was a hubbub of conversation as everyone discussed and accepted this new concept from Julia. Benny took that chance to approach her.

"So you're in this too" his heart was doing a double flip, but his voice was calm.

" I forgot to tell you I am from Liba" she flashed that sparkling smile that Benny have dreamed of for nights on end. "I was afraid, you would not talk to me if you would come to know."

They belong to two warring tribes, who believed in the edict - an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.

Benny was thinking of a witty answer but further conversation was rudely interrupted by a loud, deafening crash.

"Clear the area, clear the area," frenzied voices were shouting commands. "This way, hurry up."

Benny and Julia were carried along with the tide of almost 50 people, scrambling for the secret passageway. Chairs were haphazardly strewn around in people's haste to leave the room.

"What's up?" Julia was asking him.

Benny remembered the lonely, fearful nights in Taloctoc, when he was 10 yrs, old and had stood guard against the "enemies " from Liba - (Julia was one of them then).

Obey orders and ask your questions later. That was how it was done when safety was the priority.

"Let's get out of here," he pushed her -not so gently - into the opened door."

Picture from:Ian Britton

"Stay in the shadows, we have been marked! Martial law has been declared," the man was anxiously shouting.

There was no time to react nor to protest - not even time to ask .

They ran for several interminable minutes, staying away from the brightly lit streets. The city seemed to have transformed itself instantly into a war zone. No one had any inkling that martial law would be declared.

There was a hastily set up checkpoint where uniformed soldiers were inspecting every vehicle that happened to pass by. If Benny would have described it , it would be similar in some aspects to a "blitzkrieg" - swift, unexpected and simultaneous.
He would learn later that, the " attack" on persons who were considered as political enemies were done simultaneously and swiftly to catch the "enemies" unaware.

Thousands of suspected enemies of the state were held in prisons all over the country, tortured and interrogated until they had confessed under duress - their alleged guilt.

Probably most of them were like him, students but not rebels, who just wanted to claim the rights that really belonged to them.

When they were a good distance away from the city lights , the bearded, stocky man who took the lead, raised his hand for attention. There were only twenty of them left. Benny and Julia were among them. In the hasty escape to safety, chaos reigned and there had been no orderly retreat.

"Where is Juan?" the bearded man looked around and asked no one in particular.

" They took him away, he was at the entrance when they came," someone answered.

The bearded man hurled expletives into the dark, starless night.

Julia grasped Benny's hand uncertain of what to do next.

"Okay, listen up, " his raspy voice commanded attention, " I am Ka Pepe, we were not introduced during the meeting for your own protection, but it seems, someone has betrayed us. We have been spied upon and marked, and now the whole army will be after us."

This was not happening, Benny was shaking his head incredulously. They were all breathless, wide eyed and scared. One could almost smell the fear emanating from their sweat - drenched bodies.

The "prefix "Ka" in a name, usually denoted the person belonged to the NPA (New People's Army) - the extreme leftist group - inspired by the likes of Mao Tse Tung and Joseph Stalin.

"We are students, we respect your ideals and what you stand for. But we would opt to fight the inequities of the government through legal means," he could not help but voice out his screaming thoughts.

"Benny - allow me to call you that. Tomorrow, your face will be in the wanted list all over the country, You are branded now as an activist and as a supporter. You have nowhere to run but up the mountains. We are your only salvation."

His words struck Benny like a speeding train, because they were true! Even before martial law, students were arrested for less trivial reasons and were tortured and incarcerated and accused of rebellion.

He had attended the meeting because he knew he had to assume an active role in that particular conflict; that was what Fr. Belucci would have wanted him to do.

Julia was sobbing softly beside him, her hands tightly clasped in his.