"The plum blossom is a common subject in Chinese painting because it symbolizes resilience. In China, this tree blooms even in the coldest of winters.", explains 63 year old Professor Esguerra.
I feel that he has a close affinity to it because it is very symbolic of his life.
"I was abandoned at the hospital (PGH) when I was 4 days old," he opens up.
"Fortunately, a kind couple adopted me. However, I was barely out of highschool when my mother contacted epilepsy which lead to brain damage. My father, on the other hand, was a simple government employee. To help him make both ends meet, I chose to be a working student".
"I pursued college in UP Los Banos. I was almost in my last year of veterinary medicine when my father got Alzheimers. I had to take a full time job and study at night. However, the only UP school which offered night classes at that time was UP Manila. So, I shifted."
He details the difficulty of juggling work and study but he finally graduated, sent all his other siblings to school and got married.
Still, life continues to test him.
His wife died before they even get a chance to build a family (a former student related this). Many years later, the family's ancestral home was forcibly taken away from him.
Other challenges came up but he remains optimistic, "Everything is just a matter of perspective".
In fact, he says that he's more productive when he has problems. "I don't face it squarely initially because at that point I'm emotional and vulnerable. Instead, I focus my attention to art and study. That's my coping mechanism. I only look at my problems when I'm stable."
"In life, no one is exempted from pain. You know, it's that thing which builds character", he advises.
He concludes, "Venus Raj's answer to the Miss Universe question should have been, The major problem doesn't matter, what matters is my reaction to the major problem."
P.S. In case you still couldn't figure out why I call him Professor X, it's because he simply keeps on flying over the many Xs (a.k.a. obstacles) in his life.