Saturday, June 19, 2010

My Papa, a Renaissance Man

It is a rare privilege to have  warm, caring and talented parents.  There was nothing they would not do to help you become  the best that you can be.

            My father, who I call Papa, was known to friends, relatives and the general public as “Yowing.”  Riding through town in his jeep, waves of spontaneous cheers from children and grown up’s could be heard saying “Yowing.”  The surprising thing about this is that even after 17 years of absence from the native land while he resided in America, the greetings from children were just as fresh as before.  These children could not have been born when we left the country.

            A natural born statesman, he had a slogan printed across his campaign picture which said, “Ang matuod nga ulipon sa lungsod.”  (The true servant of the town.) He was elected congressman of the first district of Bohol in 1946.  He was re-elected in 1950.  He served his people well.  Streams of people came to the house for private audiences  seeking help through my father.  The same was true in Manila where people lined up to see my father at his office.

            He was a great orator.  When he speaks during the ‘Seven Last Words’ service at church, he builds up the passion of Christ to a climactic height effectively moving people to tears.  He enhances his speech with sound effects produced with the simple technological advances of the time.  He uses the same skill in winning votes for his candidacy.

            He was an operatic singer, a tenor, an actor, a musician playing the guitar, banjo and banduria. A well-read person, he can explain concepts using sharp analogies to tie down the abstract to something concrete.  He was an excellent teacher, injecting humor and brief lessons on human understanding in his classes.

            I wanted to study ballet and that could only be done in Manila.  We were then residing in Bohol and vacationed in Manila in the summer.  As we went from one studio to another to register, my father received one rejection after another.  He did not give up, he knew the reason for the rejection.  We would be tying up a spot only for the summer which would otherwise have been filled by a year round student. With that knowledge, my father computed the hours for a year round student taking two or three times a week lesson.  He then asked my older sister, Nany, to take group lessons three times a week, my brother and I would take three group lessons a week  and two private lessons a week.  With the combined hours we got in.
           I went to the same college where Papa was teaching.  I successfully passed Trigonometry during the first semester.  When summer came, he asked me to attend his class for review and mastery.  I went.  Indeed it was a fresh approach and I learned trigonometry anew plus the joy of teaching.  As a bonus we enjoyed a piece of cake and a cold barley drink together during the break.  In return for this treat, I graded his students’ quizzes.  I also joined my father’s field trips to the planetarium as part of his astronomy class.

            Without my knowledge, Papa had my first year college quizzes and other test papers book bound.  It looked so professional. (I later learned that Dr. Maria Montessori’s father did the same thing to his daughter’s news clippings.)

        When faced with difficulty in some chemistry subjects,  he  bought  the textbooks from Adamson University (a different perspective might help) and he somehow found a set of problems solved in quantitative and physical chemistry.  His advice was for me to solve every problem in the book, not just the one assigned.  He showed me some memory aids using the Roth memory course.   To this day, I continually make little outlandish connections to make new learning stick.

            At first he was disappointed that I switched from chemistry to education but later on acknowledged that education is my path to do the work of the master.  He likewise supported me in this endeavor.

            Papa was a healer.  He first healed through magnetic healing then augmented this task with homeopathy and radionics.  People from far and near traveled to see him and were cured.

            Papa was a writer. He wrote declamatory pieces for me and my sister.  He was also a composer and with Regino Dano, a lifetime friend, he composed Ave Maria, Romance and other pieces.  On his 37th birthday, he wrote a poetic prose about his romance with my mother entitled, “A Butterfly to a Wild Rose.”  Upon his death at the age of 74, I wrote a sequel, “Butterfly, Good-bye.”  My mother made a fabric picture with a butterfly figure bearing my father’s photo and a large rose, bearing my mother’s photo.  Three little rose buds completed the scene with each of our pictures – Nany, Vril and mine.

            A renaissance man, a loving father, a faithful husband, a leader, a role model, a strong believer in the Divine Plan -  Oh my Papa, to me you are so wonderful.  Thank you for giving me the vehicle for this life on earth and for pointing me in the path of righteousness. 

              Happy Father’s Day, wherever you are!

His mode of campaigning

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Music Begins at Home

Music Begins at Home

    What a stirring experience to wake up at dawn with the band playing musical selections as it paraded through town heralding the beginning of the town’s fiesta.  The band stopped at my grandmother’s house for breakfast. That was the seed of my love for music.

      The seed was watered when I borrowed  my  godmother’s  toy piano with the black keys painted.  While tending my grandmother’s sari-sari store, I randomly struck the white keys.  To my surprise, I found that I could string a phrase of a melody.  I later found that if I could remember how I did it I could play a song.  Trial and error followed until I put together the popular music at that time, “Curacha.”  I could translate melodies from my memory on to the piano keys almost instantaneously with less trial and error.

         The next breakthrough came when I realized that the melody played by the right hand needs chord accompaniment played by the left hand. Coming home after seeing a movie, I tried to play on a real piano this time, the song “Maria Elena” played as intermission music before the next show comes on.  I picked out the melody immediately and tried two chords to match the melody.  Some things did not sound right.  My father came to the rescue.  My father does not play the piano, he plays the guitar, banjo and banduria however. He  whistled the notes that make up a given chord note by note, I picked them out on the keyboard and figured out the chord.  My father and I plotted out the remaining chords.  From then on I could play music “by ear” thanks to Maria Elena. 

       By third grade, I was  taught how to read notes at school.  I took piano lessons. Playing piano duet with my instructor was built-in into the instruction.  That was a special hit with me.  Since I wanted to play piano duet in my home town with friends who did not play piano, I taught them the “pupil” part while I figured out how the “teacher” part was played.  A series of piano duets by ear followed that I had arranged myself from popular songs.  This mode of playing duets continued with playing with my sister until the last year of her life.

         Since I could read notes, I rummaged through the collection of vocal pieces with piano accompaniment and tried to sight read them.  When I played some pieces good enough to be recognizable, I would hear my father whistle along or sing along from upstairs. That was another landmark.  This began the period of playing the piano while my father played the banjo or banduria.  Some of our favorites included “Who’s Sorry Now,” “Stumbling,” “Black and White,” Philippine folk songs such as “Bahay Kubo.”

        I learned how to sing, “Sa Daplin sa Baybayon,” translated as “By the Seashore.” I sang solo accompanied by my father with the guitar.  I sang duet with my younger brother where I sang most of each line and he filled in the last word.  That song was “Sa Pagtakas sa Hapon” translated as “When the Japanese attacked.” These songs were recorded by the latest technology at that time. A plastic disc was the recording medium, a groove was cut by the needle during the recording.  At the end of the recording, my father collected the silver-gray hair-like fiber cut from the plastic disc.

        Music,  music everywhere – growing up listening, singing, playing, dancing to the music became a life style. Each phase entered opened a new type of music and broadened musical literature for each musical genre.  Let me try to summarize the type of activity, type of music involved and a particular favorite.

Musical Type
Favorite piece
High School Glee Club
3-part, 4-part choral music
In Old Madrid
Tea for Two

Papa’s compositions with Regino Dano

Ave Maria 1
Ave Maria 2

Duet by my father and sister
Gilangkat Mo
Solo by my sister
One Kiss
Ako’y Kampupot
Matud Nila
Leading college classmates in a chorus
3-part medley
Planting Rice/Joy to the World
Accompanying, college chorus
Philippine song
Teaching, singing
Children’s song
Under the Sun by Frank Leto
Folk dancing
Never on Sunday – Greek dance
Pata-Pata -   African
Women’s  barbershop chorus
In Old Shanty Town
Toot  Toot  Tootsie Goodbye
Church Choir
Anthems,  hymns, oratorio
Seven Last Words by Dubois, Handel’s Messiah
Latin dancing
Rumba, bolero, chacha, salsa, samba
Ballroom dancing
Fox trot, waltz, tango
Orange-colored Sky
Swing, Jive
Sweet Home, Chicago
Two-Step Dancing
Country Western
I’m on the Road Again
Mark Tulloss’  composition
Song dedicated to the passing of Vril Clarin and Rev. Lawrence Smith
Listening, Playing
Carlos Tulloss’ composition
Mother’s Day with Flute obligato
Hawaiian Wedding
Over the Rainbow

         As the song goes –         
                                    “All things shall perish under the sun.
                                      Music alone shall live
                                      Music alone shall live
                                      Music alone shall live
                                      Never shall die.”

     Music  remains  the  mainstay for family get-togethers.  With Papa, Mama, my sister Nany and my brother Vril no longer with us on this physical plane, others have taken their places to keep the music going.  Neil Bonje plays the guitar, Mark and Carlos Tulloss with the bass, I play the keyboard, Avril Clarin-Taylor as the lead vocalist, Allison Philpott-Tulloss with the flute, Tio Gabriel and Tia Nen Bonje as standard vocalists.  It won’t be long the younger group will join the ensemble:  Andrew Bonje, Alex and Melanie Kuhlmann.  Tying the whole group together and recording the memorable event will be James Tulloss and Kirsten Kuhlmann. If we could fly Allison’s mother, Cathi, we add another vocalist and pianist. So many members of the clan scattered all over the U.S.A. can add to the ensemble.  Then we’ll be rocking and rolling as you’ve never heard before this side of heaven.

         The family that plays music together stays together.