BY: Pilar Mateo

THAT IS who Raymond Lauchengco is. What he is about. How he is. Especially now that nobody knows how the world will turn. NOW!

Every day is a blessing to him and his family. Whether they are at home. Or somewhere in the middle of nowhere, rest assured that Raymond will find something in what his hand touches to make it a great work of art.

That is God’s awesome gift to him.

“There’s always something to learn from every new experience, and living in a farm for one month certainly taught me a thing or two, one of them being that there’s no such thing as a quiet morning in the countryside.

“Not that I mind, though. I’m usually up before dawn anyway. So at the farm I’d make some coffee, step outside to the lanai of our casita, light some candles and just sit there, waiting for the sun to rise.

“Then I’d listen to all the different sounds I’d hear. It was like a concert that would unfold in three movements everyday.

“The first movement was always big and rousing, like a march. It was performed by a massive chorus of field frogs. Their throaty, brassy, croaking was punctuated by the steady rhythm of crickets buzzing in another key, like the continuous crackling of snare drums.

“To usher in the second movement, a proud rooster would crow a piercing cock-a-doodle-doo as a sharp counterpoint to the amphibian belters. The solo cockerel part would soon grow to an ensemble of squawks in free time staccato, as his other feathered friends joined in.

“It would have been easy to dismiss all of the overlapping melodies and rhythms as a cacophony, but it wasn’t. Instead, it had all the nuances and dynamics of an orchestra playing a symphony.

“And as the second movement peaked to a triumphant crescendo, there would always be a brief period of silence– an intermission before the final, and most lyrical part of the program– the singing of the church sparrows.

“These little birds were the true stars of the concert, and the finale rightfully belonged to them. Even the sun knew that and would wait until after the little birds had their moment before rising to cast a pale, pinkish light over the water-drenched fields so as not to upstage them.

“And once daylight revealed the lush green plains amidst mountains and azure skies, I would see them. My silent neighbors. The carabao that lived across the wire fence from where I sat drinking my coffee, and his master.

“I’d always see the carabao first. He’d rise from the murky water of the rice field and move about in the misty landscape as if contemplating the day’s work. A playful, barking dog would sometimes chase him.

“Shortly after, his master would emerge from a small house in the distance and give his old friend a pat, then attach a plow to the mighty creature’s back.

“And amidst the gentle breeze that would make the trees whisper, the two went about their business. The farmer with his carabao. The master and his faithful friend.

“Together, they plowed the fields that would grow the rice they’d take to market. They did this everyday without fail.

“The farmer looked like a firm man, yet he seemed gentle with his animal. I never saw him hurt the carabao.

“Sometimes I’d see both of them working under a blanket of rain, other times under the scorching heat of the sun.

“Then I’d see the farmer being relieved by his children. But I never saw the animal taking any breaks.

“To work so hard for others without regard for oneself is rare among people, I thought to myself. Yet to see that virtue come so easily from a supposedly ‘lesser’ creature would be my wake up call each morning.

“So every day, the candlelit symphony would turn to an epiphany–we have a lot to learn from the harmony of nature, simple farmer folk, and yes, even a lowly carabao.

“From nature, we can learn that we all matter. That despite our differences, we can coexist harmoniously like the multitude of notations written in an orchestral score, when we understand that we are all intricate parts of a whole that is much bigger than ourselves.

“From the farmer, we can learn about the dignity and value of hard labor, and gratitude for the things that matter–family, community, and the beasts of burden we can’t do without. Whatever they may be.

“And from the carabao, the lowly carabao, we can learn to live purposely, and in the present, with the kind of life that serves and blesses others without condition.

“To think that all these things, most especially that old faithful carabao, would one day inspire me to make something that would remind me of his selfless service seems out of character for a city boy like me.

“But I guess a part of you changes when you live in a farm. Or maybe I was never a city boy to begin with.”


“FAITHFUL” is a rendition of a carabao horn, gilded in champagne gold and sealed. One side is etched with imagery of field foliage.

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