Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes

The 5th, the 4th, and the One and Only!

Posted on August 11, 2005 by jimparedes

The first time was during my childhood in the early 1950s. The second time was 1981. The third was 1985, the 4th in 1990. And now it’s happening again for the 5th time. I am talking about my first introduction to letters and numbers and the 4 other times I went back to it as a teacher to my kids, and now to my granddaughter.

I discovered early in their young years that what helped calm them down when I got tired of running after them was opening a book and reading to them. Maybe it was primarily the pictures that got them hooked. But soon enough, they must have begun to notice that the letters meant something since I always ran my fingers on them as I read them aloud. I would read every letter and word on the page from title to author to publisher in the hope that they would see that letters signified something!

As an over-doting dad, I read tons of Dr. Seuss and lots of poetry to them. It must have paid off because almost the moment after they began to talk, they could recite poems by heart! I would get such a kick when Erica, Ala and Mio around the age of 2 1/2 years old could be left alone by themselves as they read. And I would get a bigger thrill when they would recite the poetry of Robert Louis Stevenson or even William Blake’s Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright, or portions of Mark Anthony’s speech admonishing his fellow Romans in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. I would repeat poems all the time because they loved listening to them. Try to imagine 2 1/2 year old kids reciting these:

Tiger, tiger burning bright
In the forest of the night
What immortal hand or sight
Can form thy fearful symmetry.


You blocks, you stones
You worse than senseless things
Oh you hard hearts
You cruel men of Rome.
Knew you not Pompei
When many a time and oft
Have you climbed its walls and battlements?

Ha ha! I took pleasure in hearing their young voices reciting literary stuff even if they knew nothing of what it meant!

It’s no wonder my kids are readers, writers and artists. Now it’s also happening with Ananda. I’m starting to read to her and sitting with her at different times of the day. We often sit in front of the ref and I also try to get her interested in identifying magnetized letters and figures. I tell you, by the time I’m 70 years, I would have gone through grade school and high school 4 times, and college 5 times! I still hope to be around and be the walking dictionary, thesaurus and general reference to Ananda as she goes through school just as I was to my own kids. And oh, I wouldn’t mind going through all of these a few times more with more apos. It goes with being a grandpa! Heh heh!.

I’ve finished my 4th book! Or at least I think I have. I am now going through the editing phase where I read and re-read what I’ve written down and see if I’ve expressed what I wanted to say in the best way I can. Sometimes as I read the pages, I hear a voice saying ‘write me better’, and so I redo the entries. It’s a never ending thing— rewriting and improving. And yet I know that sometimes, I just have to stop before I obsessively edit my work to death. No book or work of art is ever really finished anyway. In a real sense, it can always be improved— but sometimes at the risk of making it ‘perfect’ yet lifeless like some insect in a killing jar. You just have to let it go, release it and allow it have a life of its own, however ‘imperfect’ it is. I take obliquely to heart Billy Joel’s advice when he says we must sometimes ‘leave a tender moment alone.’ Things should be allowed to be left undisturbed ‘just as they are’.

I am hoping I can get my publisher still interested considering that in this age of deepening economic crisis, no one seems to have the money to spare and buy books, much less those about zen and transpersonal stuff. The biggest sellers in the Philippine market (in the Filipiniana section) have generally been cookbooks and cheesy romance novels. Would anyone be interested in buying stuff that deals not with the needs of the body and emotions, but with the soul and spirit? Hmm.. I may need to compromise a bit! Maybe I should be writing stuff with titles like The Zen Chef, or You are Everything, And Everything is You: A Story of Love and Passion Between Man and the Universe! In this way, I may yet feed both body and spirit–both mine and my publishers, and yes, my readers! Ha ha!

My one and only beloved son Mio with whom I am generally pleased is home at last from his Oxford experience. He flew in from Paris after he completed the 10 day Paris Connection part of the program. Still wearing his trademark hat that he left with, he got into the car from the airport and he excitedly talked about ‘the best experience yet’! Aside from meeting so many cool people his age, he loved the whole program including his philosophy and art history classes. But I think that what made an indelible mark on him was his traveling alone to Europe and discovering things by and about himself. He discovered the thrill of being independent. He has been through a watershed experience which I think has changed him, the way Erica’s and Ala’s Oxford stints transformed them into the free persons they are today.

As a father, I notice that I so readily give what I never had for myself in my youth to my children. Maybe that’s really how it is.

* * *

0 to “The 5th, the 4th, and the One and Only!”

  1. pobs says:

    hi! i surprisingly got here thru blog hopping, you don’t seem to have a tagboard so i hv to comment here..

    i was in awe to know that you’ve been visiting the Gulf, heheh well i reside in Dubai and i haven’t been inside the mosque nor ever read a quran, hehe naunahan mo pa ko!=)

    well, happy touring in the gulf!

  2. slim whale says:

    it’s interesting to be your son or grandson. your children are lucky to have you

  3. ang says:

    i believe your zen/spiritual book would do well here in the US, especially Chicago, where getting in touch with your soul seems to be ‘the in thing’. fear not though, i don’t believe it’s one of those “oh that’s so cool, i want to be cool just for the sake of being cool.”

    i just think a lot of people my age are starting to think about their spirituality and such… but then again, there are occasional talks on campus about spirituality, so it might just be because of the campus’s atmosphere..

  4. jey says:

    hi, sir jim!

    i can’t wait for your 4th book to add to my collection.:)

  5. Hazel says:

    i really wish and pray that when my own son grows up i can give him opportunities and experiences I was never given. Things that will make him grow even more stronger and wiser. 🙂

    you are a wonderful father and grandfather 🙂 God Bless your soul!

  6. Jim says:

    pobs–I love the middle east, especially UAE. I could live there for awhile if given the chance. We will be in Dubai and a few other places by November! See you soon.

    slim whale– I think fatherhood and granparenthood are roles I really enjoy doing.

    ang–One of my dreams is to be published abroad. I hope your comments are prophetic! heh heh!

    jey–thanks. it will take some time though before it appears in book form. It will still go though the editor, lay out artist, printer, etc..Baka early next year if I am lucky with my publisher.

    hazel–One of the things I learned from my ‘ate’ when I asked her what her formula was for raising her son Jason (summa cum laude, great person, compassionate, good sense of humor and loving)was this; she taught him ‘everything she knew and guided and supported him in everything he wanted to learn’. And, she showed him what it is like to love and be loved.

    I’m sure you will do well with your son. Take care.

  7. N says:

    i wish my father was as cool as you, mr. jim paredes. 🙂 my dad passed away in high school..right before life became complicated for me. your kids and apo’s are so lucky to have you. 🙂

    will u adopt a mid-20 yr old girl? 😀


  8. KnOizKi says:

    WOW! The great APO HIKING, Sir Jimmy, has a wonderful BLOG.

    I got the link thru SACHIKO and I was like, it can’t be. The other day I also stepped on Lucky Manzano’s.


  9. balikbayan_box says:

    hmm i only have book one and book two just hope i can get book three before the fourth one hehehe 🙂

    all the best neyburhud!!!

  10. Anonymous says:

    you are a great dad sir

  11. Christine says:

    Hi Jim. Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog. It’s very heartwarming. Indeed, how do parents prepare to let go and trust that they have taught their kids the right values and have led by example so that in return, their kids would do the right thing? My daughter is only 8 y/o and I dread the day that she would come home to tell me she has a boyfriend (a proper one hehe) or she’s moving out or that she’s getting married. In my eyes, she is still a baby and I suppose, she will always be.

    My husband has more liberal views and is more pragmatic than I am. He would rather that Bea (our daughter) knows how to protect herself rather than remain ignorant of the dangers that could befall her as she steps out into the real world.

    It is good that my husband provides this balance to my freaked-out-i-don’t-want-her-to-grow-up -yet mindset or else, Bea would be stuck in a convent till she’s 30! Ack!

  12. waltzandstar says:

    hi jim! may i just say, bow ako sayo! 🙂 and you have very lucky children who have been blessed with a good set of parents. carry on! all the best!

  13. DOPS says:

    Would it be wrong if i say, i wish you were my father?

    Your children were so fortunate to have you, much as your father must have been proud to have you…

    Please keep blogging, continue to inspire us…

    Pwede ko po kau i-link? tyyy…

  14. BabyPink says:

    it’s amazing how fast time flies. it seems like it was only yesterday when i was reading about mio’s leaving in your blog and ala’s. and, now he’s back. and, congrats to him because he made the most of his experience!:)

    i think that (reading to them) is a really good training for young kids because they grow up to be lovers of the written world. all your children are, as you stated, proof of this.:)

    congrats on finishing your fourth book, sir!:) can i sit in po on tuesday?:)

  15. undiscussablerealms says:

    you’re a good father. i admire you.

  16. Pinoy Teachers Network says:


    We’re one month old now! Thank you for helping us disseminate the information about our global pinoy teachers’ network. We are professional Filipino Educators. We are going to inspire, be proactive, give hope, and go the extra mile.


  17. TEACHER SOL says:

    hi JIM, nice one! Now you’re making me reflect on my childhood again 😀 and I so loved Dr. Seuss when I was learning to read. My favorite was “The Cat In The Hat” & “Green Eggs and Hams”. Let me make an entry on that too *wink*

    Been busy lately with trainings, but I’m back in circulation now. Your blog is one of my favorites, makes us realize that you’re also like any of us; with all your personal reflections you mirror the same experiences to us. Thank you for that!

  18. ~C4Chaos says:

    “I tell you, by the time I’m 70 years, I would have gone through grade school and high school 4 times, and college 5 times!”

    hahaha. that’s why you will always be young at heart.

    hook me up with your new book once you’re done 🙂 even cheesy romance novels can be used to elevate one’s thoughts.

  19. jio says:

    Hello Jim. I stumbled across your blog while browsing… and was surprised you were also blogging your thoughts. 🙂

    Ah, the joy of teaching youngsters. It is always fascinating to teach young ones the beauty of reading (even in this age of Internet). And thanks for the lines of

    “Tiger, tiger burning bright
    In the forest of the night
    What immortal hand or sight
    Can form thy fearful symmetry”

    I remember this poem during my elementary years. Through this, I recall my childhood days then.

    On your son’s independence: I remember one story from a TV show, the father mentioned that the best way we could teach our children to stand on their own is to let them be free and be independent on their own. I guess your son learned a lot, besides your constant love and guidance to him.

  20. mhalou says:

    Hi there!I’m constant visitor of your blog.

    I’m working in a publishing company based in Philadelphia but with operations based in Cebu. Have you heard of Xlibris? Perhaps, you might consider publishing with us…your book will be available worldwide via amazon.com or ingram.com. etc. You may like to check our website: http://www.xlibris.com.

    Just sharing 😉

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