Jose Carillo's Forum


This section seeks to promote and encourage the felicitous use of English in expressing ideas, thoughts, and feelings. It welcomes well-thought-out compositions in English, particularly original essays, articles, short stories, and verses written by the Forum member himself or herself. Forum members and guests are welcome to contribute to the Forum.

Members who wish to contribute material to this section may post it directly in the “My Thoughts Exactly” discussion board. Nonmembers may send material by e-mail addressed to The Moderator,

“Friendships chiseled so deeply in the walls of our mind”
By Angel Casillan

We attend school reunions to have a good time. We get together with friends with whom we share a common college experience, sharing with one another the adventures or misadventures that brought us to where we are. 

As human beings, we have a deep connection to one another by virtue of our common ancestry. We always find reasons to celebrate our commonality. Even our early ancestors would gather socially around a bonfire to talk about the things and occurrences around them. This became their cultural legacy to us, manifested by our penchant for fiestas, dances, and other get-togethers.

Last weekend, I attended a college reunion in Los Angeles. It was an opportunity for me to relive my undergraduate life with friends whom I have not seen in decades. Although time had transformed our faces and had dispersed us to so many different places, we did not lose the friendships formed during our college days, friendships that had been chiseled so deeply in the walls of our mind.

When the reunion ended and I parted with my friends, the feelings that I had during my college graduation started to haunt me and found expression in the following snatches of verse:

College Reunion

When we have reunions to have fun and to celebrate,
We think about the years that got lost but didn’t forget.
We recall stories about the hard times and the good times,
And about so many other memories that linger in our mind.

The things we did we recall along with the tunes of the years,
Even the fun and laughter that comfort our imagined fears,
The challenges and barriers we persevered so hard to cross,
All rush back with the lyrics of the songs we loved to hear.

But if there are memories that would bind us forever,
It would be about the life in college that we had together.
Fondly now we remember the professors who’d skin us alive,
But from whom we learned to become resourceful to survive.

We have had failures then but they didn’t make us grieve,
Instead they gave us great strength and made us truly brave.
The knowledge they imparted and the education we gained,
Became our lifelong tools for acquiring fortune and fame.

Why do people love reunions and can hardly wait?

Because if they meet in heaven, it would be too late;
Reunions are for us whom life has dispersed far and wide,

Yet drawn back by memories of school as a lifelong bond.

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Undas* and obituaries
By Flor Lacanilao

After retiring from UP over 10 years ago, reading obituaries has become a daily habit. When I come across a death notice on somebody who died at 50 or 60, I am thankful to be healthy at 70 and, mind you, with my hair still mostly black. Obituaries of people who die at the age of 80 or 90 make me wish I would live as long.

My interest in obituaries led me to conduct a survey of the death notices published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer from March to December in 2004. The survey covered 1,075 death notices, 620 of which were for men and 455, for women. Though not based on random sampling, the “survey” came up with some interesting findings. 

On the average, men died much younger than women—71 against 78 years old. In 230, or 21 percent, of the obituaries, the profession of the deceased was shown. Nuns had the longest lifespan, averaging 85 years. The priests came next with an average of 80 years, followed by the medical doctors with 75 years, the military officers with 73, lawyers with 72, and engineers with 70.

Doctors, who are supposed to have studied the human body, die younger than priests by an average of five years. The 67 doctors in the obituaries even included women who, on the average, live longer than men.

Our obituaries, unlike in other countries, greatly vary in size, suggesting social status (117 were large: one-fourth page and bigger; and 319 were small: the size of a calling card). The average age of the dead in the large obituaries was 75; in the small ones, 72.

Many death notices and those who announce the death anniversaries of their loved ones request readers to pray for the eternal repose of the souls of the departed, never mind if they have been dead for years. I wonder how many readers heed their call for prayers. And I doubt if one could appeal the fate of a soul denied of eternal rest on Judgment Day.

I think we should have valid reasons for doing things, if we are to move forward. Common practice and tradition are reasons hardly good enough to justify our actions.

(These are excerpted from my essay “Highblood: Obituaries and reasons” as published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer in January 2005.)

*“Undas” is Tagalog for All Saints Day (“Araw ng Mga Patay”), celebrated in the Philippines on November 1.

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