Category: Mythology

Legend of Seahorse (Alamat Ng Kabayo Kabayohan)

Seahorse, photo by JMorton

Seahorses are a strange creatures. Their heads, up to their necks, resemble that of a horse. This of course influenced their scientific classification name. ūüôā

They belong to the genus Hippocampus, a word derived from two Greek words: hippo meaning ‘horse’ and campos as ‘sea monster’.

Seahorses live in seagrasses and corals in the shallow tropical temperate water.

Legend of Seahorse (Alamat Ng Kabayo Kabayohan)

In the Philippines, there is a legend that might explain why these marine creatures look like horses. This legend was adapted from the Outline of Philippine Mythology by F. Landa Jocano

Long ago in the province of Cavite, located in the Southern shores of Manila de Bay, two majestic horses, a stallion and a mare, were enjoying the bright morning sun, occasionally grazing at the verdant grass by the seashore.

These two horses were rather special. ¬†They were¬† personal ‘pets’ of the sea god, Amanikable.

Anyway, the idyllic time was disturbed by a sudden flurry of activities.

There in the distant was a group of men and their ferociously barking dogs.

This unsettled the horses a great deal as the men and dog are fast heading their way.

The men did not look friendly and the dogs doubled up their frenzied barking.

Both the mare and stallion started galloping but it was too late.  They have been cornered.

The mare looked up to the sky piteously and prayed to Amanikable.  All the while the stallion circling the mare to protect.

“Please great lord of the sea, save us from these beings. ¬†We besiege you to help us. Please not abandon us in our time of need” the mare prayed.

Amanikable heard the lamentable but solemn request of the mare.

He commanded the sea to create the biggest waves, huge enough to swallow the whole shore, including the mare and stallion.

But the horses are unable to swim.  With pity and great care Amanikable turned them into aquatic animals.  Fish but not quite like fish.

Being favoured ‘pets’ of the Amanikable, a crown like spine grew out of their heads.

The grass washed away by the waves into the sea became seaweeds, where the magically created seahorses now live and feed.

This is the legend of the seahorse.

Seahorse, photo by JMorton

Achilles Heel, Greek Legend

Nymph Thetis holding Achilles by the heel , Walker Art Gallery – Liverpool, photo by JMorton


Achilles Heel, Greek Legend

I love the look of this statue.  It was one of many beautiful statues on display at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool.

The statue gives credence to the legend why the Greek hero, Achilles, has a vulnerability, although becoming the greatest warrior of Homer’s Illiad.

Achilles was the son of an immortal nymph, Thetis and a mortal (person) Peleus, the King of Myrmidons.

Apparently, it was foretold by the oracle that their son will die very young.

Thetis and Peleus went to great lengths to protect Achilles.

Thetis took the baby Achilles and completely submerged him to the river Styx except for his heel, which he was being held.  Apparently, this ritual would make him invulnerable.

Achilles was valiant as a warrior until he was shot on his heel by Paris during the bloody Trojan War.

Achilles heel had come to mean ‘Point of vulnerability“.




Commonplace Book

Commonplace Book

As our dear visitors can see in the title heading of our blog, we describe it as being a Commonplace Book.

What is a commonplace book?!!!

It has a very long history; the first commonplace books are believed to have been compiled from the 14th century and continued to be popular onto the19th century.

They can be regarded as a kind of scrap book where the compiler noted and collected scraps of information, etc. Entries are made only in handwriting and if needed illustrated by hand too. These were what differed a commonplace book from a scrap book Р no cutting and pasting bits of paper!.


commonplace book

The  subjects of interest can be diverse; such as poems, prose, short essays, tracts, critique, prayers, observations,academic, thoughts/ideas on subjects, drawings/illustrations, myths, folklore, quotes, news, lists, recipes, facts on various subjects, etc.

Collecting items like this to record in a book was called  commonplacing.

Commonplace books were first known in fourteenth century Italy. They were known as zibaldone.¬†¬† The books were referred by Italians as ‚Äúsalads of many herbs.‚ÄĚ

They often included sketches and cursive written scripts. Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio kept such books.

17th-century-commonplace book

17th century commonplace book

Later among others, Thomas Hardy, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Francis Bacon,Mark Twain  and John Milton all kept commonplace books.

A Commonplace book is not a diary or a journal,

Commonplace books contained notes and sometimes drawings on subjects, which were of particular interest to the collector and compiler. The collector may have copied/sketched or made notes of articles, tracts etc., from rare and not generally available books. Public access to libraries were rare too in those days.

These compilers may even had contributed to the social media of their age when showing or lending out their books to others.

We think ¬†today’s 21st Century internet blogs serve as a type of commonplace book.

The blogger collects items of interest to themselves from various sources the internet, newspapers, reference books (as we do) etc., and which they think might interesting to others by sharing on line.

Humans have an insatiable thirst for the varied and diverse topics that make up our modern lives.

Welcome to our commonplace book, welcome to


2016, Year of the Monkey

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2016, Year of the Monkey

Today is the start of the year of the Monkey.  For some reason, this very Chinese cultural tradition has been adopted in the Philippines that it has become a national holiday.  It never used to during my time in the Philippines.

I supposed it was proposed and ratified by the government of the Aquinos because of their close tie to the large Chinese community in the Philippines. ¬†And yes the first Chinatown outside of China ūüôā can be found here in the Philippines. ¬†It is located in exotic ¬†Binondo.

Anyway the start of the Chinese new year is celebrated in a big way.  It is the time to best attract prosperity and wealth.

Chinese household usually clean their homes inside and out  just before the new year.  They prepare their lucky money envelopes and display fruits and round circular objects, candies and goodies on their dining table.

They also serve lots of sweet cakes, which my particular favourite is the tikoy.  Simply delicious.

The superstitious beliefs in connection with the start of the new year do not stop here.  They have more things to consider that can put your head and mind in a whirl.

Apparently, people born in the year of the monkey are quick-witted, sociable, enthusiastic, innovative and self-assured.  The downside, I am afraid, is that they can be jealous, suspicious, cunning, arrogant and selfish.



The Golden Apple – A Greek Legend

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The Golden Apple – A Greek Legend

The story of the golden apple is my favourite in the Greek mythology.

It caused the bloody Trojan war.

It all started on the wedding of Thetis and Peleus. Everyone who was anyone and all the gods and goddesses were invited to the wedding except for Erin, the goddess of wrath and discord. Apparently she was deemed to be a party pooper so her invite got lost in the post.

Anyway, during the party, everyone was having a good time, lots of merriment, lots of chatting, lots of networking as one does.

It was a very vibrant, noisy affair that Erin got to hear of it. She was mighty upset that she was not invited, knowing that everyone was in the party. Quick as a flash she thought of a ploy to create discord and strife.

So she went to the party to plot her revenge. As soon as she appeared, there was a lull in the celebration.

The music stopped, the chattering ceased, it was very still you could almost hear a pin drop.

Without saying anything Erin, threw a golden apple which landed where Hera, Athena and Aphrodite were gathered together. Peleus, the groom was in their vicinity and picked up the golden apple which was inscribed ‘For the Fairest’.

Hera, the wife of Zeus, said immediately it was obviously meant for her. Athena won’t be outdone and said of course it was for her afterall it landed very near her feet. Aphrodite almost snatched the apple off Peleus, claiming that it was for her, ‘hello!”

The three goddesses started to brawl, each one claiming the apple for herself. Hera spied Zeus and called him to be the judge.

“No way, Jose” said Zeus. The man to tell who the apple belongs to is Paris, the shepherd, who lived at the foot of Mt Olympus.


I think the internet is in the top 10 of best inventions of all times.

Thanks to Tim Bernes-Lee, inventor of the worldwide web, almost any information is just a click of a button away.

This morning I suddenly got to thinking of Hippocrates.

Having watched many hospital drama, I am more or less aware of the Hippocratic oath where you have to be respectful of the patient’s life above all else whether he is a friend or a foe, irrespective of what he has done, of his religion or politics etc.

Below is a witty article about the Hippocratic Oath


A guide to the Hippocratic Oath

By Dr Daniel Sokol
Medical ethicist


Hippocrates: the father of modern medicine?

When I asked my medical students to name famous doctors in the history of medicine, their first answer was Harold Shipman, the GP who murdered hundreds of patients.

I nearly swallowed my tongue.

Their second answer was House, the fictional doctor from the American TV series.

Tears of frustration welled up in my eyes.

Their third answer was Hippocrates, presumed author of the Hippocratic Oath – I breathed a sigh of relief.

Written nearly 2,500 years ago, the Oath is the most famous text in Western medicine, yet most people (including doctors) know precious little about it.

One GP recounted the story of an elderly patient who believed the Oath instructed doctors never to tell patients the truth. It contains no such advice.

Here is a brief guide to the Oath.

The Oath starts: “I swear by Apollo the physician and by Asclepius and Hygieia and Panacea… to bring the following oath to fulfilment.”

Apollo, the god of healing, fell in love with a human, Coronis.

I will use treatments for the benefit of the ill in accordance with my ability and my judgment, but from what is to their harm and injustice I will keep them
Hippocratic Oath

In his absence, Apollo sent a white crow to look after her.

When the crow informed Apollo that Coronis loved another man, Apollo’s rage turned the crow black.

To avenge her brother, Apollo’s sister shot Coronis with an arrow and, as she lay dying, Coronis told Apollo that she was bearing his child.

Although Apollo could not save Coronis, he rescued the unborn child, Asclepius.

Hygieia, the goddess of health, and Panacea, the goddess of cures, are the daughters of Asclepius.

According to legend, Hippocrates was a descendant of one of Asclepius’ sons.


Doctors taking the Oath would doubtless have been inspired by this illustrious lineage of healers.

The next section instructs the doctor to treat his teachers as his parents, and to pass on the art of medicine to the next generation of healers.

In a pure and holy way, I will guard my life and my art and science
Hippocratic Oath

The Oath continues: “And I will use treatments for the benefit of the ill in accordance with my ability and my judgment, but from what is to their harm and injustice I will keep them.”

In other words, doctors should act in the best interests of their patients, and when unjust circumstances arise – for instance, a certain life-prolonging drug may not be available on the NHS – they should strive to correct the injustice harming their patients.

The next part seemingly concerns euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide, saying: “And I will not give a drug that is deadly to anyone if asked, nor will I suggest the way to such a counsel.”

Two leading scholars of the Oath, Littre and Miles, have however suggested that this passage alludes to the then common practice of using doctors as skilled political assassins.

Steven Miles notes: “Fear of the physician-poisoner may be traced very close to the time of the Oath.”

The word “euthanasia” (meaning “easeful death”) was only coined a century after the writing of the Oath.


The text continues: “And likewise I will not give a woman a destructive pessary.”

This passage is often interpreted as a rejection of abortion.

However, abortion was legal at the time and the text only mentions pessaries (a soaked piece of wool inserted in the vagina to induce abortion), not the oral methods of abortion also used in ancient Greece.

As pessaries could cause lethal infections, the author of the Oath may have had a clinical objection to the method, rather than a moral objection to abortion itself.

The next sentence – “In a pure and holy way, I will guard my life and my art and science” – is a call for professional integrity.

Doctors should refrain from immoral behaviour and resist the temptations that accompany their privileged position (today, from drug companies offering generous gifts, for example).


The Oath continues: “I will not cut, and certainly not those suffering from stone, but I will cede this to men who are practitioners of this activity.”

Another common misconception is that the Oath forbids surgery.

About whatever I may see or hear in treatment, or even without treatment, in the life of human beings, I will remain silent, holding such things to be unutterable
Hippocratic Oath

In fact, it instructs doctors to acknowledge the limits of their competence and to refer cases to more specialised practitioners.

Next, the doctor enters the patient’s house: “Into as many houses as I may enter, I will go for the benefit of the ill, while being far from all voluntary and destructive injustice, especially from sexual acts both upon women’s bodies and upon men’s.”

The need for such a statement reflects the wide distrust in healers at the time.

In a competitive marketplace where quacks abounded, it was necessary to reassure the public that doctors would not exploit patients.


The penultimate section deals with confidentiality and reads: “And about whatever I may see or hear in treatment, or even without treatment, in the life of human beings, I will remain silent, holding such things to be unutterable.”

As today, patients in ancient times shared deeply personal information with doctors on the assumption that their details would not be revealed to others.

Without this trust, patients may withhold facts that would help the doctor make an accurate diagnosis.

The text ends with the rewards that await those who respect the Oath (“the benefits both of life and of art and science, being held in good repute among all human beings for time eternal”) and the punishment of those who do not (“if, however, I transgress and swear falsely, the opposite of these”).

This whistle-stop tour of the Oath gives some idea of the content and spirit of this ancient text.

In an age of technological developments, cosmetic surgery, complementary medicine, drug companies, and many other temptations for patients and doctors alike, the spirit of the Oath is as relevant as ever.

‚ÄĘ Dr Daniel Sokol is a medical ethicist at St George’s, University of London, and Director of the Applied Clinical Ethics (ACE) programme at Imperial College, London.




I swear by Apollo the Physician and Asclepius and Hygeia and Panaceia and all the gods and goddesses, making them my witnesses, that I will fulfill according to my ability and judgment this oath and this covenant:

To hold him who has taught me this art as equal to my parent and to live my life in partnership with him, and if he is in need of money to give him a share of mine, and to regard his offspring as equal to my brothers in male lineage and to teach them this art‚ÄĒif they desire to learn it‚ÄĒwithout fee and covenant; to give share of precepts and oral instruction and all other learning to my sons and to the sons of him who has instructed me and to pupils who have signed the covenant and have taken an oath according to the medical law, but to no one else.

I will apply dietetic measure for the benefit of the sick according to my ability and judgment; I will keep them from harm and injustice. I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and in holiness I will guard my life and my art.
I will not use the knife, not even on sufferers from stone, but will withdraw in favor of such men as are engaged in this work.

Whatever houses I may visit, I will come for the benefit of the sick, remaining free of all intentional injustice, of all mischief and in particular of sexual relations with both female and male persons, be they free or slaves.

What I may see or hear in the course of the treatment or even outside of the treatment in regard to the life of men, which on no account one must spread abroad, I will keep to myself holding such things shameful to be spoken about.

If I fulfill this oath and do not violate it, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and art, being honored with fame among all men for all time to come; if I transgress it and swear falsely, may the opposite be my lot.

‚ÄĒTranslated by Ludwig Edelstein
Extreme remedies are very appropriate for extreme diseases.
To do nothing is sometimes a good remedy.

Tantalise Tantalus

Tantalise means to arouse a strong desire or expectation for something temptingly out of reach.

The word was inspired by the labours of Tantalus, son of an Ancient Greek deity, Zeus.

Tantalus was a bit of a mischief-maker.  He loves nothing but to gossip.

Unfortunately  his incessant gabbing got out of hand.  He was spreading tittle-tattle about the gods to those who should not be hearing them.

The rumours spread like wildfire that the gods and goddesses were raging and in turmoil as their innermost secrets were out!

Zeus was so alarmed and got thunderously angry when he found out that the gossips were spread by his own son .

Zeus, to pacify the perturbed deities, punished his son in the most cruel way possible.

He sent Tantalus to a deep, dark abyss of Tartarus for a lonely eternal damnation.

But that was not enough.  Zeus made Tantalus stand deep in water, up to his chin, and just above him was a branch with  the most delicious fruits imaginable.

The punishment was really vicious.  Everytime Tantalus tries  to take a drink of water, it would instantly recede mockingly beyond his reach.  When he tries to grab a fruit, the branch would move slightly, just beyond his reach.

Poor Tantalus!!!

If you are being teased or tortured with something delectable that is just beyond your reach, spare a thought to poor Tantalus in his eternal punishment.



Month: August

It is…….


Month: August


August dry and warm,
Harvest doth no harm.
– English Proverb
If the twenty-fourth of August be fair and clear,
Then hope for a prosperous autumn that year.
– English Proverb
In the USA, it is the month for honouring the fantastic Goat Cheese.:)

It is also the month for the world-renowned Edinburgh Festival.



In some English-speaking countries in the Northern Hemisphere,August 1 is Lammas Day (Anglo-Saxon hlaf-mas, “loaf-mass”), the festival of the wheat harvest, and is the first harvest festival of the year.

1 August 1834, slavery was abolished in the British Empire.

4 August 1693, the most delicious drink, champagne, was invented by Dom Perignon.

5 August 1962, the most luminous actress of all time, Marilyn Monroe, was found dead.

10 August 1675, the Greenwich Observatory was founded.

14 August 1893, France innovated and issued vehicle registration plates.

16 August 1960 – Cyprus was granted independence by Britain.

21 August 1911, the Mona Lisa, one of Leonardo da Vinci’s ¬†masterpieces, was stolen at the Louvre. ¬†Thank goodness it is back hanging proudly at the Louvre.

23 August 1617, one-way-streets were first established in London

28 August¬†2012 ‚Äď today is the 49th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr‚Äôs inspiring ‚ÄúI Have A Dream‚ÄĚ speech.

31 August 1900, Coca Cola arrived in Britain from America.

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