Saturday, May 25, 2019

Solved! RPPC of mystery building

I've never had success solving the mystery of an RPPC involving a person. But buildings are easier, it seems.

Last weekend I shared a postcard of an odd building with tree-trunk supports and elaborate exterior ornamentation. I had no idea what it was. Wendyvee pointed out that it shared some design similarities with the stave churches of Scandinavia. And then the UK-based Twitter account @BooksnMagic pointed me in the right direction: Search "Torogan Philippines"


It's a torogan. We still don't know the exact identity or location of the building shown in the postcard, but now we know its type, purpose and the general area where these were built.

A torogan, according to Wikipedia, "is a traditional house built by the Maranao people of Lanao, Mindanao, Philippines." The dwellings are a symbol of status. Here is a bit on their construction:
"A torogan is elevated above the ground by columns cut from trees of huge girth. Its walls are covered with plywood sticks and the roof thatched with dried coconut leaves. There is no interior partition, so it appears as a huge hall. Apart from the basic elements of this structure, it is intricately engraved with the flowing geometries of the Maranaw design system called okir. A torogan is not complete without the legendary bird Sarimanok being displayed inside."
Torogans have not aged well, though some remain from a century ago. Many are in need of preservation.

While torogan means "sleeping place," the structures could also serve an important purpose during natural disasters. On Postprandial Musings, 2.0, Jamal Ashley Abbas writes:
"In a country with active volcanoes like Mt. Mayon and Taal volcano and 'dormant' ones like Mt. Pinatubo, perhaps the architecture of the torogan, the Maranao royal house, is the answer. The structure rests on whole tree trunks, which in turn rest on small boulders. This is based on the concept of flexible foundation, which is supposed to insure that the house will merely sway during an earthquake and not be destroyed. Indeed, during the devastating Lanao earthquake of 1955, this torogan survived unscathed."

Monday, May 20, 2019

Compassion and good will
trump all else in Montoursville

Apropos of nothing, and certainly apropos of no specific event that might be happening in any certain place today, I wanted to share, proudly, this letter that Dad received 44 years ago, when we were living on Mulberry Street in Montoursville, Pennsylvania. It speaks greatly to his fine character and the overall fine character of that small town I grew up in.

The letter, dated October 2, 1975, is from David L. Stroehmann, president of the board of directors of Hope Enterprises, Inc., in adjacent Williamsport. (Hope, founded in 1952, still exists and does much great work in northcentral Pennsylvania.) Here is the full text of the letter Stroehmann wrote to my father, John Alan Otto:
Recently I had the opportunity to read your letter in our local newspaper. It was most gratifying to know that people with your outlook are willing to take a stand for others.

As you are probably aware, the situation of developing a residential home for children on Tule Street, or of finding an alternate residence for the children whom we hope to serve, is not solved at present. As we seek to find a solution, your help and encouragement are greatly appreciated. Your letter, as well as others, provides us with the knowledge that most residents of the area, and especially residents of Montoursville, are behind the project.

Certainly it has been our experience that group homes which provide a family environment are greatly enhancing to the development of handicapped individuals who live there, as well as to those associated with them.

I wish to thank you sincerely on behalf of the Board of Directors, staff and children we serve for your positive comments. Be assured that we will not give up trying to provide residential programs for our children and adults.
Acceptance. Equality. Inclusion. Good will. Charity. Compassion. Standing up for those who need help or are underrepresented. ... Those are the qualities of the small-town America I was raised in and believe in today.