Bukidnon trip, continued, because look at these pictures

Reminder/backstory: We took a bus from Davao City, where we live and work volunteer, up to Malaybalay in Bukidnon province for spring vacation.  It was gorgeous.

On the bus ride going up and coming back down, there was a long stretch where there was always smoke off in the distance.  I probably took over a hundred pictures trying to catch it, but the bus was moving at a pretty quick clip,  and suddenly my view would be blocked by another shanty on the side of the road,  a stand of trees, another hillside, or a passing truck. When I did get the image I wanted in my lens, the resulting picture still would be too blurry, my finger was in the way, or we hit a bump and I got a nice closeup of the curtain or overhead rack instead.  I wasn’t sure I ever got any pictures with the plume of smoke until we got home and I started going through them, and I found two or three.

These were cropped to focus more on the mountains and the smoke, but otherwise are unedited.


Oh, look- there it is, although from here it could be a waterfall or a cloud or almost anything.  It’s a large plume of smoke, that’s what it is.

There are people who live in these mountains and hills.  Some of them are still reached best on foot, over single path foot bridges, on dirt bikes.

I was told that an organization here that translates the Bible into other languages considers their work here in the PHilippines essentially done, they have translated the Bible into all the dialects now.  But then we were told by professors at the seminary where we stayed that there is at least one large tribe in this area where their dialect has not been written down and the Bible has not been translated.   The professors told us the tribe is hostile to outside influence, but they are working on trying to build a rapport with them.

Collectively, most of the tribes of this area are called the Lumad, a name they agreed on just a few years ago.  Within the Lumad are an astonishing array of dialects, customs, and beliefs.  Mainly what they have in common is that they are indigenous and they never converted to either Islam or Christianity- and thus, Catholic Spain and Catholic Philippine government gave away much of their lands to immigrants from the northern island of Luzon in order to keep Mindanao island from becoming Muslim.  At one point the Filipino government encouraged relocation of farmers and other workers from the northern island of Luzon down to the southern island of Mindanao in order to keep political control of the Philippines as a whole and impose the government of Manila on the island. This caused a lot of bitterness, understandably.*
On the other side, I’m currently reading a history of the area written by a local scholar, and a hundred years ago at least one of these groups were still practicing human sacrifice and several of them were engaged in enslaving each other whenever they could. One tribe had a warm and kindly practice of providing a wet nurse if the mother was unable to nurse, but if the mother died in childbirth, then they buried her child with her. Another welcomed twins, but if there were triplets they killed them by stuffing the babies’ mouth with ashes because it was believed triplets would kill their parents. So… there might have been a better way to alter these cultural practices, but some of them surely did need changing.

 Here’s a basic over-view of this collection of tribes.

The Talaandig are one of the people groups living in this wider area.  I don’t know anything about them firsthand, and even second hand my information is limited to the fact that they exist, they are IPs (indigenous People) who have been left out but the government and some Filipino missionaries are trying to reach out to them  , but this missions website has some information.  There is also some information here.  They have an interesting flood story you can read here.

Somewhere in these mountains as well, there is a former mission compound where many of my current friends and colleagues once lived.  When their work there was finished, they cleaned up their houses and buildings and turned it over to the government, which used the property for a school for IP children.  Recently, a handful of the missionaries who formerly lived there had a chance to make a spontaneous visit.  They just happened to be in the area and wanted to visit for nostalgic reasons.  They found approximately a couple dozen children playing in the compound.  The buildings were dilapidated.  There were some shabby garden patches the children were supposed to tend themselves. The only adults there that day were two security guards, who informed their foreign visitors that the reason the place was in such poor condition was because that is how the former missionaries had left it and the government was trying to clean it up but it was hard.  They didn’t realize they were speaking with those same foreign missionaries who knew they had left their homes and workplaces in perfect condition.

The children live there.  There are supposed to be four teachers there for them- one is supposed to live there with them, and the other three allegedly commute in.  However, on the day that my friends were visiting, there were no teachers in sight at all and no classes were held. We don’t know if it just happened to be a vacation day for the teachers, but the impression of one of the people I spoke with, a missionary teacher of considerable experience, was that the children are not really being taught, they are left largely to themselves.  Culturally speaking there are a number of reasons this is not terribly surprising, but it is no less heartbreaking.



Attached to the side, but cut of by the conflict between the curve of the road and the bus window, is a motorcycle.  This is another form of public transportation, but also sometimes private transportation.



No kidding.  The response to road accidents or similar physical disasters here is like nothing I’ve ever seen before, and it is probably one of the most deeply jarring and disturbing contrasts between American and Philippine culture I have yet to observe.  But that’s a whole other post.

To conclude this post, let’s just practice observation.  Just look, and make a list of what you see.  Dont’ draw conclusions about it, just try to notice.


You can try to right click and save to another tab and maybe enlarge there to see more.  Or maybe some of these close ups will help:

I confess to a minor bit of conflicting feelings about some of these. I wasn’t taking pictures of people deliberately- in the larger shot here, it was that pile of Rapunzel’s hair I hoped to catch.  But people do interest me, so the closeups I made by enlarging the shot and focusing on different spots sometimes include people.

I always wonder about the people I pass in a vehicle- who are they, how do they live, what are their hopes, dreams, fears, struggles, successes…  I wonder about people who pass by me in trains and cars as well- where are they going, what are they thinking as they drive past the farmland around my house back in the U.S.?

Agatha Christie felt this, too, and said it was really the whole point of Archeology- ‘come, tell me how you live.’  That was the title of a book she wrote on it.


I often think of a little ditty I used to recite, sing song, to my oldest grandsons while playing peek-a-boo. It goes something like this:

Dwa dwa diddy

Diddy dum dum dee

I can see you but you can’t see me.

I thought of it while speeding past in my air conditioned bus.  And I wonder, do I?  Do you? Do we?  What does it mean to see them, to see each other, to really see another human being?  I think it’s probably at least half the attraction of blogging and reading blogs, isn’t it?  Tell me how you live. Show me. Let me look at you.

I’m trying to see.

Dwa dwa diddy

Diddy dum dum doo.

You can see me but I can’t see you.

To see, and to be seen, it sounds simple, but it isn’t really.

I’ll keep looking, wondering, thinking, pondering- and tentatively, cautiously, trying to see and to be seen.


*The material in this post is either my personal observation and experience or it’s simply me relaying what somebody else told me, or what I thought they told me.  It’s true to the best of my knowledge, but that doesn’t make any of it solid enough for somebody to use in a school report, so be careful out here, kids.

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Just one of those things

1. What was last thing you drank?
Water. Before that, raspberry kombucha

2. Worst pain ever?

Physical? Broken ribs.

3. Last thing you ate?
Chicken curry broth.

4. Favourite place you’ve eaten?
Mongolian BBQ in Japan

5. How late did you stay up last night?
3 a.m.

6. Last book you read?
Feast of the Elfs, by John C. Wright

7. The last time you cried?

8. Favourite flower?
Currently, Plumeria. I picked up a blossom off the ground at Bukidnon two weeks ago, pressed it between a folded piece of paper in a book and brought it home and I can still smell its wonderful, sweet, haunting scent.

9. What’s your favourite season?
Where I live now, there’s rainy season and rainier season. Currently I am told we are in the middle of summer. If I don’t have to go outside anywhere between 10 and 4 I have adjusted to the heat and can handle it. Oh, favourite season… Probably autumn in the U.S. but strawberry season is also amazing.

10. If you could have any choice of profession what would it be?
I like what I have done and am doing. I guess if I could work from home I’d love to be a researcher of some sort- the person who does fact checking for books and movies, background research for authors, that kind of thing. I also like speaking on home education, books, and CM’s philosophy.

11. Favourite childhood TV show?
Hogan’s Heroes, Batman, and Twilight Zone- oh, and Lost in Space.

12. Thing you’re afraid of?

13. If you could travel anywhere, where would it be?
Heh. Look at me, here in the Philippines.
Also, I’d go to Korea, and it would be fun to see Ireland.

14. Favorite animal?
The late, great, Zeus. The later, much lamented Curly. Both great dogs the likes of which will not be seen again on this earth.

I like animals in theory more than in my house, to be honest. I hate dog hair on the floor and I also hate sweeping it up. But if we are not talking about animals with personal connections, I’d have to say the Cephalapods.


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Outline of the Laws of Thought

From time to time I save things as drafts in the blog, things I’ve come across hither or thither and mean to come back to them.  Sometimes I come back and dust them off a bit and post them.  Other times I read through them again and delete because I am not longer interested in the topic, or I ended up addressing it a different way in another post.  And really, embarrassingly often, I come back to it and think, “What?  What was I thinking?”

This is one of those what was I thinking.  It’s largely a quote or excerpt from something.  But I don’t know what and I can’t find it again.  My current commentary follows each quoted section and if anybody knows what I was quoting, I’m quite curious about it.

“Hitherto we have assumed that the adequate object matter of Logic is thought, rather than language; that having explained the laws of thinking, it is not bound to examine under what conditions these manifest themselves in speech.”

So, previously, a class of persons (‘we’) focu tsed on ideas and the ‘laws of thinking,’ without paying attention to the words and language necessary to convey the laws of thinking or to discuss, or even thinking about, logic at all.

“But logicians do not invariably follow this course; those who regard it as an act of reasoning, seeing that reasoning is not conducted but by languages, and that many of the chief impediments to the correct performance of the processes, lie in the defects of expression, make speech and not thought the matter with which they are primarily concerned. the name of Logic itself would not be inconsistent with this view; since ‘logos’ may mean the outer or the inner word, the ‘sermo internus or the sermo extermus, the articulate expression of thought itself. Here then the relation between thought and language must be ascertained.”

But this was silly, because language both hinders and helps the process of logic and the practice of talking about it, explaining it, engaging in it.  Also logos is the root of logic and it means word, so we really need to determine the connection between thought and language.  Words, language, are not merely the delivery system for logic, reason, ideas- they are themselves part of that process.

“Language, in its most general acceptation, might be described as a mode of expressing our thoughts by means of motions of the organs of the body; it would thus include spoken words, cries, and involuntary gestures that indicate the feelings, even painting and sculpture, together with those contrivances which replace speech in situations where it cannot be employed, – the telegraph, the trumpet-call, the emblem, the hieroglyphic.* For the present, however, we may limit it to its most obvious signification; it is a system of articulate words adopted by convention to represent outwardly the internal proofs of thinking.”

We communicate in various ways- with words, body language, sounds, even art, and… what? If the telegraph is a contrivance which *replaces* speech, why isn’t a book?  At any rate, we’re not going to talk about those things, we’re going to talk about language  using a shared, mutually agreed on vocabulary to represent or communicate to others the evidence of our thinking.
” But language, besides being an interpreter of thought, exercises a powerful influence on the thinking process. ”

Language doesn’t just work for conveying our thoughts, it influences our thinking as well.  Ah.  I think this is my favourite part, Much of the above strikes me as ‘well, d’oh.’ Or even, “Huh?”

“The logician is bound to notice it in four functions: – (i) as it enables him to analyze complex impressions, (ii) as it preserves or records the result of the analysis for future use, (iii) as it abbreviates thinking by enabling him to substitute a short word for a highly complex action, and the like, and (iv) as it is a means of communication.”

I found the source after checking a dozen previous sentences- the first point above led me to archive.org and An outline of the necessary laws of thought : a treatise on pure and applied logic
by William Thomson, published in the mid 1800s.
Thomson was a bishop in the church of England, a prolific writer, and father of quite a number of children.

That began to sound familiar, so I looked it up further and realize the reason I was interested is because Miss Mason strongly recommended that parents should read at least two chapters of this book, specifically the chapters on language and conceptions. As I said here, I am astonished at the high opinion Miss Mason had of parents and their capabilities. It’s also the source of the anecdote she tells about the tracker and the lion in volume 2.

Here’s more from Thomson chapter that Miss Mason thought all parents should read:
“The language of words never records an impression, whether internal or external, without some analysis of it into its parts. Besides the objects which we observe, and their qualities, we can reproduce in speech the mutual relations of objects, the relations of our thoughts to objects, and, lastly, the order and relation of our thoughts themselves.

Now as the mind does not receive impressions passively, but reflects upon them, decomposes them into their elements, and compares them with notions already stored up, language, the close-fitting dress of our thoughts, is always analytical, — it does not body forth a mere picture of facts, but displays the working of the mind upon the facts submitted to it, with the order in which it regards them.
This analysis has place even in the simplest descriptions. ” The bird is flying ” is an account of one object which we behold, and in its present condition. But the object was single, whilst our description calls up two notions — ” bird ” and ” flying,” — and it is plain that this difference is the result of an analysis which the mind has performed, separating, in thought, the bird from its present action of flying, and then mentioning them together.

In painting and sculpture, on the contrary, we have languages that do not employ analysis; and a picture or statue would be called by some a synthetic or compositive, sign, from the notion that in it all the elements and qualities of the object which would have been mentioned separately in a description, are thrown together and represented at one view.

The statue of the Dying Gladiator gives at one glance all the principal qualities so finely analyzed by the following description, which, however, includes also the poet’s reflections upon and inferences from the qualities he observes; the objective impression is described, but with a development of the subjective condition into which it throws the narrator.

” I see before me the Gladiator lie:
He leans upon his hand — his manly brow
Consents to death but conquers agony,
And his drooped head sinks gradually low —
And through his side the last drops, ebbing slow
From the red gash, fall heavy, one by one,
Like the first of a thunder-shower; and now
The arena swims around him— he is gone,
Ere ceased the inhuman shout which hailed the wretch who won.
” He heard it, but he heeded not — his eyes
Were with his heart, and that was far away;
He recked not of the life he lost, nor prize,
But where his rude hut by the Danube lay:
There were his young barbarians all at play.
There was their Dacian mother — he, their sire.
Butchered to make a Roman holiday!
All this rushed with his blood — shall he expire
And unavenged? Arise! ye Goths, and glut your ire! ” ~Byron.

Here the analysis of the impression is carried to its farthest; and in the second stanza the object becomes quite subordinate to the inferences and fancies of the subject. But it is all the more striking as an illustration of the principle, that language presents to us the analysis, as painting and sculpture the imitations, of a sensible impression.

§ 21. But different languages are more or less analytic, and the same language becomes more analytic as literature and refinement increase. This property indicates, as we should expect, corresponding changes in the state of thinking in different nations or in the same at different times. With increasing cultivation, finer distinctions are seen between the relations of objects, and corresponding expressions are sought for, to denote them; because ambiguity and confusion would result from allowing the same word or form of words to continue as the expression of two different things or facts.

Many ambiguous phrases, however, are suffered to remain, although the inconvenience of them must have been perceived from the first; thus in Greek, the words idovai tekvv bear the two opposite senses of “pleasures which children feel” and “pleasures derived from one’s children,” and in Latin metus hostium may mean either “the fear we have of our enemies,” or “the fear our enemies have of us.”
In the Bible, words as important as “the love of God” express the pious regard we have towards our Father or his benignity towards his creatures. Prepositions are our interpreters to clear away this confusion. Again, where the powers of a particular case of a substantive were once sufficient to denote the person whose action the verb described, whilst the pronoun was only used as an additional mark when great emphasis was required, more modern habits, exalting the notion of personality, always assign a distinct word to the person.

Thus the Greeks were able to express ” I have a pain in my head ” by three words, ‘klyu ttjv Keav: they needed no word to distinguish the person, and merely qualified the verb by ” the head,” to express the seat of the pain. Our expression analyzes the verb into three distinct notions, ” I,” the person, ” pain,” the thing I suffer, and ” have,” the relation; and shows more explicitly by the preposition ” in ” that the head is the seat of the pain. As a language acquires more of this character, and multiplies pro-nouns, prepositions, and conjunctions, it begins to forget its inflections, because it can express all their powers by circumlocution with these new expletives.
As syntax becomes more complex, inflections grow simpler. Our own language has almost lost the terminations of cases and persons; and French writers attribute part of the clearness of their own tongue to the same cause, and to the consequent necessity of determining the relations of words clearly by proper connectives. The Greek has preserved its inflections, although it has also acquired a full and complicated syntax; which is owing probably to the fact that the Homeric poems moulded and set the former before the necessity for the latter had arisen. Perhaps the Greek of Homer shows more than its original complexity of syntax, from the touch of later editorial hands, like that of Peisistratus.

Here then is a further use of language, and a proof of its intimate adaptation to thought As the distinctions between the relations of objects grow more numerous, involved, and subtle, it becomes more analytic, to be able to express them; and, inversely, those who are born to be the heirs of a highly analytic language must needs learn to think up to it, to observe and distinguish all the relations of objects, for which they find the expressions already formed, so that we have an instructor for the thinking powers in that speech which we are apt to deem no more than their handmaid and minister.

§ 22. The superiority of spoken language over the language of painting and sculpture, has been the fre- quent subject of remark. One reason for it is that whilst the artist can only effect with certainty an impression upon the eye, and must depend upon the sensibility, often imperfect, of the spectators for the reproduction in their minds of the emotions that sug- gested his subject and guided his hand, the poet by his description can himself call up the appropriate feelings. Upon the forehead of the Dying Gladiator what chisel could inscribe plainly that which the poet bids us read there? — “his manly brow Consents to death but conquers agony.” In the picture of the Crucifixion at Antwerp, by Rubens, one of the most powerful specimens of ” the brute-force of his genius,” the action and purpose of more than one of the figures have been variously understood, and therefore by one party or another misunderstood. It is a disputed question whether the mounted soldier is looking with reverence at the chief Figure, or with cruel calmness at the agonies of one of the thieves; and whether the soldier on the ladder has broken the legs of the thief, or is pre- paring to do so. Art finds few to understand its sweet inarticulate language; but the plainer and fuller utterances of poetry cannot be misunderstood.

Another reason of its superiority may be found in the greater power of words to suggest associations that knit up our present impression with others gained from the past, or, better still, bring our emotions and moral feelings into connection with our present impression. What painting of a house can ever convey so much to a feeling heart as the short description — ” This is the home in which I spent my childhood? ” The sculptor raises a tomb, and covers it with the ensigns of piety and death, but his art tells us less after all than the brief inscription, ” He died for his country,” or, “he looks for immortality.” The painter cannot dip his pencil in the hues of the spirit; the sculptor’s drill and chisel cannot fix in matter the shapes which the mind assumes. The artist’s thought remains unexplained, or depends upon the casual advent of congenial interpreters. In the comments upon our famous pictures and statues we have so many acknowledgments of the inferiority of the language of art to that of speech. Art would need no commentators, if it were thoroughly competent to tell its own story.”

So I’m curious- if you’ve read this much (and God bless you for it), what do you get that? What parenting help do you find here? ARe you eager to read the rest of the chapter?

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Mongolian Queen

Empress Sorkaktani, a Christian Kerait of Central Asia, was the wife of Tolui & daughter-in-law of Genghis Khan. Mongol women had far more rights than in many other cultures at the time, especially since the men were often away, and women were the ones responsible for Families. Each of her sons learned a new language for new lands. Sorkaktani was Mother of Four Kings: Möngke Khan (Great Khan 1251–59, of Mongol Empire [bigger than the Soviet Union]), Kublai Khan (Great Khan 1260–94, of the Mongol Empire and Conqueror of CHINA), Ariq Böke (also declared a Great Khan), & Hulagu Khan: (Ilkhan 1256–64, Conqueror of PERSIA, ASIA MINOR, Georgia & Armenia!). Her sons’ lands stretched from Korea to Poland and Vietnam, Siberia and Israel: Largest Area ever controlled by One Single Family! “If I were to see among the race of women another woman like this, I should say that the race of women was far superior to that of men.” — Syriac scholar Bar Hebraeus (1226-1286).

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Bible Study Through Story Telling

Building Sound Theology Through Good Story Telling,

by Jessica Alexander

Excerpt (her article is on page 19)

“Simply the Story is a simple and creative method used to equip low literacy learners to join multiple literacy spectrums. The technique can reach into all age groups, among all social groups regardless of the ethnicity or economic status or religious background. Stories are taught and discussed through dramas, songs and conversaonal (sic).

Five minute stories are chosen.

The six step stage helps the listener to contemplate upon the story as he/she grasps the spiritual truths that lie within the story. The process includes the following steps:

1. Introduction- Defining the context to help familiarize oneself with the situation.

2. Narrating the story- The story is conveyed through actions, dramas or songs while the words of the Bible are the preferred script simultaneously.

3. Re-telling the story- This is to help the audience memorize. Usually a volunteer among the listeners is asked to participate so that they might get involved.

4. Lead through the story- Anything lacking or left behind is addressed by the five questions of who, what, where, when and how.

5. Spiritual observation- The listeners discover or draw spiritual conclusions for themselves wherein the characters and actions of both God and the people are considered upon. The story is observed by looking at the circumstances, characters (God as the chief person in every story), conversations, conducts, choices, and the consequences.

6. Spiritual application- There could be more than one application which is comprehended by the listener. Four questions lead the audience to narrow their comprehension of the application: i. looking at the results and changes ii. Analyzing if this happens today also iii. Seeking an example in the learner’s life or nearby iv. Demanding a practical move.

This technique presents a format that can be easily understood and remembered even by the least literate. It would, therefore, not be surprising that this mirrors the story telling method in the Bible which is 75% story telling narrative. STS encourages listeners to explore spiritual lessons they come across and helps them understand.”

It’s not exactly word for word the Charlotte Mason method, but there are distinct similarities- start by a bit of scaffolding or context as needed.  Tell the story using the words of the Bible (or other living book if you’re teaching a different subject).  Retell- or narrate, having one of the listeners narrate.

After that first narration is done, run through any significant mistakes or missed connections.

Most of the time, that’s the end for general narrations.

People worry about reviewing, but over time the students get a few little opportunities for review and a few incentives to read with more focused attention.  The same story will receive a bit of review attention at the next reading, when you begin by asking somebody to tell you what happened previously, or ‘where are we in this story?’.  It will likely receive another bit of review at other narrations when you ask, “What else does this remind you of?”  The student rummages through those memory banks we all have, in the process doing an internal quick review of other stories and events.  When you regularly use maps and timelines to place the stories you are reading, there will be other quick reminders and short reviews as they place a figure of King Saul next one of the prophet Samuel, or notice that King Ahab is far removed from Noah on your timeline, or that a story they are reading for literature comes from the same place as a hero tale they read previously, or that the battle they read about this week happened at the same time as a composer they studied another time, or that a scientific discovery they read about last month happened in the same country they are reading about in geography this week.  The biggest incentive to read with more attention and a sharper focus comes at the end of each term when you do exams.  Just as knowing that they can be called on to narrate at any time helps them keep their attention sharp, knowing that they will be asked about their work at the end of each term serves as a useful help and encouragement to sharper attention.

The fifth and sixth steps above are not necessary in a CM education, but they are not entirely outside the boundaries, either.   Note the exception she specifies here in volume 1:

“Long ago, I was in the habit of hearing this axiom quoted by a philosophical old friend: “The mind can know nothing save what it can produce in the form of an answer to a question put to the mind by itself.” I have failed to trace the saying to its source, but a conviction of its importance has been growing upon me during the last forty years. It tacitly prohibits questioning from

vol 6 pg 17

without; (this does not, of course, affect the Socratic use of questioning for purposes of moral conviction); and it is necessary to intellectual certainty, to the act of knowing. For example, to secure a conversation or an incident, we ‘go over it in our minds’; that is, the mind puts itself through the process of self-questioning which I have indicated. This is what happens in the narrating of a passage read: each new consecutive incident or statement arrives because the mind asks itself,––”What next?” For this reason it is important that only one reading should be allowed; efforts to memorise weaken the power of attention, the proper activity of the mind; if it is desirable to ask questions in order to emphasize certain points, these should be asked after and not before, or during, the act of narration.”

That is essentially what this method is doing with that final step, applying the Socratic use of questioning for the purposes of moral conviction.

It’s a useful approach to Bible lessons for the neighborhood children, for non-readers, for classes where the students may read, but perhaps not in the language of the teacher, and for just about anybody else.

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