, JANUARY 9, 2008  (STAR) PENMAN By Butch Dalisay - Last week’s piece on — among others — the “secret pocket” in men’s pants brought in further comments from readers, some of which were more interesting than the original article itself. One such response came from “Doc” Tony Concepcion, who took an even longer historical view of things:

“I read with interest your Dec. 31 Philippine STAR article titled ‘A Paucity of Pockets,’ and I just had to give my two cents’ worth on the subject matter.

“The ‘secret pocket’ in men’s pants is also called by tailors of bespoke or custom-built pants as the bolsa de relo. And that is exactly what it is, a pocket for pocket watches.

“There was a time up to the turn of the 20th century when wristwatches were not popular at all for various reasons such as its being seen to be a lady’s watch (could be another topic for a future column). Gentlemen used pocket watches and there was therefore a need to have a place in his clothing to contain or hide it, and that’s where this small pocket comes in. A matching chain usually came with the watch at one end, and on the other end, the chain is hooked to the belt holder. In Western countries the gentleman’s pocket watch is hooked up to the vest where there is also a small slit that serves as the pocket watch holder.

“I hope I was able to provide a reply to your reader’s query as to the story behind the secret pocket in men’s pants. There are of course other uses for this small pocket especially when pocket watches were replaced by wristwatches. The small pocket soon became a repository of coins and folded money bills, and to hide jewelry articles and one’s watch when passing through areas where holdups and snatching cases are notorious.”

Many thanks, Doc. I do have a correction to make: I said that secret pockets went out of style, but when I was wearing my jeans the other day I looked down and sure enough, there was a “secret” pocket just above the regular one. I stuck my thumb into it, whaddya know, it felt good.

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This is going to be the biggest of years for the University of the Philippines, which is marking its centennial (formally, on June 18, the date UP was created by law 100 years ago). Like over 200,000 other people, I’m a proud UP alumnus; more than that, I work there and live on campus, so you might say that I’m a UP creature through and through. (As I’ve often recounted, my mother — a UP Education alumna herself — made sure of that by playing a 78 rpm record of UP Beloved and Push on, UP! over and over again as I was learning to walk.)

It took me 14 years to get my bachelor’s degree from UP, but from the day I got it I haven’t thought of going anywhere else. I’ve since been privileged not just to become a UP professor but also to serve as chair of the English department and vice-president for public affairs of the UP System. Working in administration taught me what a complex organism the university system is, and that the university is far from perfect — indeed, it needs a considerable boost to become the world-class 21st-century university it needs to be. But I also understood why people chose to stay on here despite the horrendously low salaries: there’s still no other school like it in this country, in terms of the community of free minds that it has fostered, and the spirit of service to the nation that’s inculcated in every UP student (with, one has to admit, variable results).

There’ll be a lot of stories being told about UP this whole year, and the university would like to hear yours, if you have an interesting one to share with your fellow alumni and the world at large. As part of its Centennial celebration, UP is putting together “100 Kwentong Peyups,” a series of columns which will appear in major Philippine dailies throughout the year. All past students of any of the University of the Philippines’ units are invited to submit their stories. Submissions should:

1. Be a maximum of 1,000 words;

2. Be a personal experience and written in the first person;

3. Be emotionally engaging — funny, sad, scary, etc.; and

4. Make the connection between the story and a life lesson that serves you well today.

5. If possible, please include an old photo or scanned memento.

Please include your name, college or unit and course, and year you entered UP as well as your email address. If you remember your Student Number (who doesn’t? mine’s 70-02858), that’ll be even better.

Send your submissions starting today to 100kwentongpeyups@ campaignsandgrey.net. You’ll be notified via e-mail if your story has been selected for publication or for use in other Centennial celebrations.

My own personal contribution to the Centennial has to do with another one of my lifelong passions, amateur photography. As some of my blog readers and PhilMUG friends know, I’ve been an active poster on Flickr, an online network for photographers (think of it as the mother of all photo albums, categorized according to subject, camera, country, and thousands of other possible preferences).

Since I was sick as a dog (pneumonia, as it turned out) over much of the holiday break and couldn’t write, I used the time to do more mechanical but still enjoyable things, like upload some of my best and favorite pictures to my Flickr page (http://www.flickr.com/photos/penmanila).

And then it occurred to me that a good number of these pictures were taken around campus — so why not set up a Flickr group just for UP Diliman? (Of course, UP is much more and much larger than Diliman; the System itself now comprises seven autonomous universities spread out over a dozen physical campuses. But since there are many other UP-based sites on Flickr and on other Web networks, I wanted to focus on Diliman, a place I’ve inhabited and loved since the mid-‘60s.)

Thus was “Dilimania” born, at http://www.flickr.com/groups/dilimania. This site features pictures taken in (and only in) UP Diliman — the main campus of the University of the Philippines. My aim is for people (not necessarily UP alumni) to photographically document this campus, especially with the UP Centennial coming up this year.

Pictures taken inside classrooms and labs, etc. as well as exterior shots are welcome. Show us corners and angles of Diliman we’ve never seen. Please use your good sense and good taste in choosing what to upload. This is open to both UP and non-UP alumni and students, faculty, and staff. Lastly, let’s try to keep discussions focused on photography — there are better places like www.peyups.com for nearly everything else UP.

Let me share one of my own favorite shots of the Oblation — a subject I never seem to tire of — to get things going.

* * *

Lastly, let me congratulate the winners of the recent 28th National Quiz Bee Contest. At a time when all we ever seem to value is singing and dancing talent, or guessing on prizes in boxes, or surviving the enforced company of other people in the same house, these kids and the Quiz Bee itself remind us that knowledge and reading are still important and wonderful things. What’s especially heartening is that many of these winners come from small, provincial schools, whose teachers must be doing something right despite their meager resources. These champions are:

Shirlmaine Estonactoc, Elementary Makabayan national grand champion, from Echague West Central School, Isabela, Cagayan Valley, coached by Ms. Teresita R. Macadaeg; Manilyn A. Cuantioso, Elementary Makabayan national runner-up, from Surigao West Central Elem. School, Surigao City, CARAGA, coached by Mrs. Anita A. Odchimar; Niel Benjamin DT Kho, Elementary Math national grand champion from San Beda College-Alabang, Muntinlupa, National Capital Region, coached by Mrs. Lormita O. Castillo; Carlo Cardama, Elementary Math national runner-up from Colegio San Agustin-Biñan, Laguna, CALABARZON, coached by Ms. Marife Dolloso; Cherry Gil L. Araojo, High School Science & Technology national grand champion, from Legazpi City High School, Legazpi City, Bicol Region, coached by Ms. Michelle M. Daniel; Rafael Alfred C. Montalvo, High School Science & Technology national runner-up, from Makati City Science High School, Makati City, NCR, coached by Ms. Celia P. Flores; John Michael Rivera, Collegiate General Information & International Affairs national grand champion, from Villagers Montessori College, Quezon City, NCR, coached by Mr. Arnel M. Salva; Emil F. Ubaldo, Collegiate General Information & International Affairs national runner-up, from Central Luzon State University, Nueva Ecija, Central Luzon, coached by Mr. Jay Villafria.

The regional finalists also voted for the Most Friendly Bee among them during the four-day Summit, and that was Lester Antonni B. Hesita, from Paco Catholic School, Manila, National Capital Region.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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