Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Let's Encourage Nature Trip

Dr Abe V Rotor

Nature Field Trip, Mt Makiling Botanical Garden, UPLB Laguna 

Teachers visit the  Museum of Natural History, UPLB 

 Biology teachers in MM visit Mt Makiling Botanical Garden, UPLB Laguna 

“To Heaven and Back" - Auntie Doting's Story

Dr Abe V Rotor 

Towards the Light, painting by the author. Concept of the way to Heaven
based on Christian teaching

This is a true story - the story of Auntie Dorotea who went to heaven and returned for a second life.  

This is not an unusual story.  Many people I am close with have a story to tell about close encounter with death.

How close is this encounter? It is leaving the world of the living and going to the world of the spirits, of the saints and angels for those who led a life worthy of a place in heaven. In the process the traveler encounters a mysterious scenery, a realm strangely beautiful.  The spirits are simply suspended in place, they appear weightless, and have no mass at all.  Angelic notes pipe through the calm and fades out into the din. There are no boundaries, Nothing moves except the travelers, in slow animated pace, all toward the source of light. They are all in white, flowing white. They seem not to know each other as they traveled on the long, long road. 

Finally Auntie Doting reached the source of light.   It is a kingdom different from any kingdom. She saw her son who died when he was a young boy. She saw uncle, her husband.  She recognized others, relatives, friends, neighbors. But they simply look at each other. And nothing more.

"Did you see my mom?" I ventured to asked.  To which she readily answered, yes. I felt happy mom is in heaven, even if I knew by religious belief.  

I allowed her to enumerate all acquaintances she saw in her sojourn. I was expecting a very important name. My father’s.

She paused and thought deeply. "No, I can't recall," she said. She was drawing in the air  with her imaginary map.

"Try to remember, Auntie," I pleaded. 


Auntie Doting and my dad were partners in business for years in Ilocos. When I went to college in Manila Dad entrusted me under her guidance, together with my two cousins who were then high school teachers. Had it not been for them I would not have made it to what I am today. I was a wartime baby, and mom died when I was two. Dad never recovered his health although he lived to a ripe age. 

As a farmhand I used to tell dad, "I can't leave you alone, I can help you manage the farm."  Dad would just remain silent. Dad graduated from De Paul University in Chicago during the Great Depression. He was among the bona fide balikbayan.  He returned and put up a mechanized furniture shop and bought some land.  Then the war broke, my mom died, so with my baby sister.  Slowly dad manage to put back what was left in his business which enabled us his three children to go through with our studies.  

Although I was the youngest I insisted to stay put on the farm.  Dad finally confronted me, "Is that  all you aspire in life?" Finishing a college degree was far from my dream. That was the time he sought help from Auntie Doting.   

Remembering the good old days and thanking people for all the good things they did, is perhaps the best offering one can give to someone who had "died, and came back."  It is a special way of expressing how grateful I am to my Auntie Doting. 

Days passed, Auntie's condition was fast deteriorating. At her deathbed she held my hand and whispered, "I saw your dad." ~

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Bouquet - Story of Life

Dr Abe V Rotor
Bouquet in acrylic by the author, circa 1998

Flowers bloom best in spring
grains in summer, leaves in fall;
and in the wintry sunset of life,
violet and roses crowd the pall. 

Monet’s water lilies at twilight,
 And Van Gogh's sunflower,
speak of the golden years of life,
faithful to the final hour.       

Fresh and lovely, humble at noon,
gleaming still in the setting sun,  
bouquet to wreath is a story -
the beautiful life of man. ~ 

Einstein, the Physicist and Violinist

Dr Abe V Rotor
The Violinist Albert Einstein is rarely given as much attention and as the physicist 
Search and listen to  Albert Einstein NEVER BEFORE HEARD: Plays Violin - Mozart Sonata in B-Flat .  (YouTube)

At the height of Albert Einstein’s popularity, the public knew him not only as the world’s foremost theoretical physicist, but also as an enthusiastic sometime violinist. 

Einstein himself seems to have favored the musician over all of his other “parts.” “Life without playing music is inconceivable for me,” he once said, “I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music… I get most joy in life out of music.” The famous scientist never traveled without his beloved violin, “Lina.”

Why Mozart and not Beethoven music?  According to historians, Einstein had a particular interest in  Mozart because it revealed to him a universal harmony expressed in simplicity of nature which is reflected in Einstein's simple mathematical expression, his famous E=MC2, the equation that changed man's thinking of the nature of universe. 

Wolfgang Amadeus did not “create” his beautifully clear music at all, but simply 
discovered it already made - unlike Beethoven, the experimenter, the discoverer, although he was also influenced greatly by nature. 

Einstein's perception of Mozart's music was very much ahead of the discovery of the so-called "Mozart Effect," which is claimed to have therapeutic effect to man as well as  animals - and even to plants. Mozart music is used in hospitals for faster recuperation of patients, in geriatrics centers and nurseries. Pipe-in music in offices and factories prefer Mozart. The effect has also been found to increase production on the of farm for both animals and crops.    

Einstein occasionally played in public; to him playing the violin is primarily personal.  He once said, “Life without playing music is inconceivable for me. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music… I get most joy in life out of music.”

Brian Foster, also a physicist, points out that part of Einstein’s legacy is his push for beauty, unification, and harmony in our physical understanding of reality, a push that Foster credits to the scientist’s musical mind. Einstein, the scientist and artist, is wrapped up in a world of harmony in simplicity, conservatism and realism.  Einstein’s philosophy can be gleamed from his quotations:
  •  “Imagination is more important than knowledge."
  • "Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding."
  • "A table, a chair, a bowl of fruit and a violin; what else does a man need to be happy?"
  • "Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind."
  • "I never think of the future. It comes soon enough."
  • "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."
  • “The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking."
  • "Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods."
  • "I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."
  • "In order to form an immaculate member of a flock of sheep one must, above all, be a sheep."
    Famous Men with Special Gifts    

    Dr Jose Rizal - Philippine national hero was a sculptor, a poet, an essayist, athlete (swordsman), novelist, and linguist - more than his career as ophthalmologist.  He shaped the thinking of the Filipino as a people and of the islands as one nation deserving of justice and freedom. 

    Dr Albert Schweitzer - Devoted his life to missionary work in Africa. A medical doctor, minister and musician rolled into one, he was the first white man to set foot inside the then Black Continent, putting up a hospital for the natives, and "civilizing" them. Dr Schweitzer is also known for his philosophy of reverence for life. 
     Sir Winston Churchill - his favorite pastime was on-the-spot painting by the Thames River, a hobby that led him to a clearer view of the on-going war then in which Great Britain was at the verge of defeat by Nazi Germany.

    Vincent Van Gogh - a minister propagating the faith among the poor in remote areas in Holland, before deciding to devote fully his life to painting, founding a new movement - expressionism, the gateway to modern art.     

    *Albert Einstein E=MC²
    The speed of light in a vacuum is exactly 299,792,458 metres per second. Light reaches all objects from all directions at the same speed, regardless of their motion. Even if you travel at 240,000 metres/second, light approaches you head-on at the same speed it reaches you from behind. So, regardless of the speed of light sources and receivers, light always travels at the same speed. It also follows that light has no concept of time, because (to light) all distances are zero, and therefore it would perceive that it reaches its destination instantaneously. It was this thinking which led Einstein to his theories of relativity.

     (Reference:  The Musical Mind of Albert Einstein: Great Physicist, Amateur Violinist and Devotee of Mozart, in Music, Physics | June 25th, 2013)

    University of Santo Tomas (1611-2011) Lights the World

    Dr Abe V Rotor

    After 400 years, celebration ends, begins a new mark;
    UST - pride of the nation and region, of the world;
    where great men and women passed under the Arch
    of the Centuries, armed with truth and the Word.

    Born in the Renaissance, the age of Enlightenment,
    bridged Europe across the seas and the Orient;
    where cultures clashed, earthly life and the firmament,
    humbling them into consequential agreement.

    Emerging from the Dark Ages after a thousand years,
    you carried on the Greco-Roman influence,
    through sword and cross, emblem of your forebears
    who forged an East-West confluence.
    You lived through trials and triumphed with the nation,
    a Lazarus after colonization, two world wars,
    of ideologies and faiths, of world order in revolution,
    taking neither side but followed the stars.

    The world in your campus, long before globalization;
    knowledge encompassing in tune with the times,
    searching, beyond Galileo, answer to the question,
    "Quo vadis humanus?" through inevitable signs.

    What bigger challenge UST - idealist, classical, dreamer -
    as the world has gone a thousand-fold increase
    of man’s expression of sapiens, faber, lugens in that order!
    Old but firm stands the Arch of the Centuries. ~


    Wednesday, September 14, 2016

    Backyard Wildlife Series: Balloon Frog

     Dr Abe V Rotor 

    Balloon Frog

    Uperodon globulosus (U. systoma?)

    I don't know your true name, and never did care
    ever since I was a child; 
    you were, as other kids on the farm, called you
     tukak bat-og  - fat bellied;
    our ways parted: I, to school, and you, to where
    fantasia had ended;
    endangered almost to extinction, I was told;
    but down the river bed, 
    I found you like the Phoenix bird resurrected,

    where I never threaded.  

    Uperodon systoma is known under many different common names: indistinct frog, marbled balloon frog, and lesser balloon frog. As the common names suggest, Uperodon systoma have a very stout appearance with a relatively small head. They grow up to 64 mm (2.5 in) in snout–vent length.

    It lacks teeth, an unusual feature probably related to their diet that (after metamorphosis) consists mainly of termites and ants, with other insects appearing in smaller numbers. It is suggested that in capturing such small but spatially clustered prey items teeth would not be very useful; instead, the prey are gathered using their tongue. It is a fossorial species that buries itself in soil. These frogs have been observed in a number of habitats, such as dry forests, plains, gardens, and agricultural areas. Adults are only seen during the summer monsoons; otherwise they retreat into the soil. Feeding may be concentrated to rainy nights during the monsoon when termites emerge to swarm. 

    Breeding takes place during the monsoon rains when the males call from the banks of streams and paddy fields. Eggs are laid in water where they float. 

    Brewing into wine, child into man

    Dr Abe V Rotor

       Jared, 4, listens to the sparkling of newly brewed wine; 
    cellar of basi in jars undergoing ageing.

    He can hear deeper and keener,
    things we take for granted;
    innocence hones what has dulled
    us, and had long wanted.

    Wonder what he hears in a jar 

    of wine in deep slumber,
    ageing into its fullest prime,
    the pride of the brewer.   

    What matters to a young hand 

    more than his presence,
    but the brewing in him into man
    of the finest essence.  ~