Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Have you tasted Stone Soup?

This is one for the Book of Guinness.
Dr Abe V Rotor
Stone covered with green algae (lumot); microcopic structure of Lyngbya 

crosbyanum, a common green freshwater alga. (Photos by AVR)

Along the pristine shallow shores of the sea, lakes and rivers, you will find stones coated with living algae. Along coral reefs the algae growing on these stones are mainly Enteromorpha, and a host of juvenile seaweeds, while those in freshwater the dominant algae are Chlorella and Nostoc, all commonly called lumot. These are edible species listed in books in phycology, the study of algae.

Now there are two ways old folks prepare the soup from these algae-rich stones. The stones are roasted or charcoal or under low fire to bring out the aroma, and then dropped simmering in a waiting bowl of water complete with tomato, onion and a dash of salt.

The other method follows the traditional way of cooking of broth, with the addition of vegetables - and even fish or meat. The recipe is rich in calcium because of the calcareous nature of the stones, especially those gathered in coral reefs.

Try stone soup; it's good for the bones. And it's a good piece of friendly conversation.

One summer I started a lecture at one o'clock in the afternoon, very late for a lunch time lecture, with "Have you tried stone soup?" ~

Wild food plants or “survival plants” could save your life

Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog

Survivors of war, plane crash, shipwreck have a lot to lessons to share, among them are edible plants that kept them alive. 

Talisay (Terminalia catappa) bears nut like fruits that contain small seeds that taste like almond. 

Tibig (Ficus nota.) The fruits are edible and have a good flavor.  They are soft and fleshy when mature. 

Isis (Ficus odorata) or isis because its rough leaves are used as natural sandpaper for utensil and wood.  Its fruits like tibig are edible.   

Papait (Mollogo oppositifolia)

Balleba (Vallisnera) is an aquatic plant growing in clear streams, ponds and lakes, whose leaves appear like ribbon, hence it is also called ribbon grass. The leaves are gathered and served fresh with tomato, onion and salt.

Apulid or water chestnut.  Our native apulid produces very small bulbs - only one-third the size of the Chinese or Vietnamese apulid.  It grows wild in places where water is present year round. It is boiled, peeled and served.  

Aratiles (Muntingia calabura) bears plenty of tiny berries which are red to violet when ripe. It is sweet and somewhat aromatic.  

                                          Himba-ba-o or Alokong 
                                           (Alleanthus luzonicus)

Wild sinkamas (Pacchyrhizus erosus) has enlarged roots which may remain in the soil even after the plants has dried up in summer. It is gathered and eaten raw. 

Urai (Amaranthus spinosus). The plant become spiny as it matures. It is the very young plant that is gathered as vegetable. 

Mulberry (Morus alba). Its leaves are the chief food of silkworm.  The fruits when ripe are purple to black, and while very small are juicy and fairly sweet. 

Bagbagkong, flower vegetable 

Taro (Colocasia sp.). The Palawan gabi grows twice the height of man and produces a large corm.  There is a technique in preparing and cooking the corm. Or making starch out of it.  The key is thorough cleaning and cooking.  

Gulasiman (Portulaca oleracea) has succulent leaves and stems which are cooked as vegetables.  

                        Banana blossom (Puso ng saging)

Talinum ((Talinum triangulare). The succulent stems and leaves are gathered as vegetable.  
 .  Edible Fern (Pako’) - Athyrium esculentum); gulasiman or ngalog (Portulaca)

 Male  flowers of squash (Cucurbita maxima
Saluyot tops (Corchorus olitorius

Other wild vegetables:

1. Young leaves of cassava or kamoteng kahoy (Manihot utilissima)
2. Petals of Gumamela (Hibiscus rosasinensis)
3. Young leaves of kamkamote (Ipomea triloba)
4. Amaranth or spinach (Amaranthus spinosus) - seedling stage
5. Flowers of madre de cacao or kakawate (Gliricida sepium)
6. Corm of banana (Musa sapientum)
7. Ubod or pith of maguey (Agave cantala)
8. Talinum (Talinum quadriculoare)

Alugbati (Basella rubra) is a twining plant with reddish stems and leaves. The tops are gathered as vegetable which is mucilaginous when cooked.
Male  flowers of squash (Cucurbita maxima

9. Flower of katuray (Sesbania grandiflora)

10. Corm of Palawan gabi (Colocasia sp)
11.    Edible Fern (Pako’) - Athyrium esculentum)
12.  Gulasiman or ngalog (Portulaca)  

Often referred to as wild food plants or hunger crops, these and many others, perhaps hundreds, provide an alternative source of food and nutrition on the grassroots in times of poor harvest and calamities like drought. Being native or indigenous they survive extreme conditions of the environment, they need very little care, if at all.

 Ethnobotany, the study of plants and their uses in primitive societies, is gaining recognition in the light of economic crisis. It offers a solution to poverty and malnutrition. Culinary delight comes in various food preparations from native vegetables.

                     Dampalit (Sesuvium portulacastrum)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Mystery of the Waterfall

Mystery of the Waterfall
Wall mural and Poem by Dr Abe V Rotor 
Waterfalls wall mural at author's residence, San Vicente, Ilocos Sur

Hiss, tumble, and roar;
catch the cloud into rain,
mist and fog in your favor 
for mystery to reign.

Your beginning and end
make a long, long story;
yonder, around the bend, 
down below you're free,

meandering to the sea,
across farm and pasture,
along dike and levee,
greeting every creature.

I followed you long ago,
but lost along the way
to where I didn't know, 
in abandon and gay  
of the real meaning of life - 

lesson you teach human
to go on, ease or strife,
 'til the last drop is gone.

Hiss, tumble, and roar;
catch the cloud into rain,
mist and fog in your favor 
for mystery to reign.

Cloti, a visiting Filipina OFW in the Middle East, 
in a make-believe pose before the wall mural.   

Monday, January 9, 2017

Where have all the native fruits gone?

Dr Abe V Rotor sapote fruit 
Tiesa (Lucuma nervosa), siniguelas (Spondias purpurea)
Where have all the native guava gone,
the bats and birds and the young one?

Where have all the sweet nangka gone,
its fruits buried under the ground?

Where have all the old piƱa gone,
on the upland, sweetened by the sun?

Where have all the red papaya gone,
solo by name, the only tree of a kind?

Where have all the pomegranate gone,
friendly though like the deadly one.

Where have all the pako mango gone,
to cook the finest sinigang?

Where have all the big pomelo gone,
its rind made into jelly and jam?

Where have all the red macopa gone,
the laughing children in its arm?

Where have all the native santol gone,
set aside for a large-seeded one?

Where have all the tall mabolo gone,
sapote and caimito that ripe into tan?

Gone to the genie everyone,
technology’s child becoming man. ~

 Black Sapote (Diospyrus digyna), Atis (Anona squamosa); below, native guava (Psidium guajava), macopa (Eugenia jambalana) Internet

Enigma is beauty, too.

Dr Abe V Rotor 
Maguey (Agave cantala) looks menacing to browsing animals and intruders. 
The leaves are radially arranged and spiked at the tip like the sea urchin. 

Nature's art can be beautiful and painful, 
enigma is beauty, too;
like a rose beneath its petals are thorns,
life's like that in the same view. ~

Thursday, January 5, 2017


Painting and Verse by Dr Abe V Rotor
Convergence in acrylic 2015

Convergence in a garden with butterflies fluttering among flowers, reflecting the early rays of the sun into a prism of rainbow colors;

Convergence on a wall of mosses and lichens carpeting an old stonewall, sanctuary of living minutiae beyond the naked eye;

Convergence of seasons with seeds and buds waking up, flowering plants in their prime, leaves of gold and red falling, trees rising bare into the sky;

Convergence of art with romance in the air, impressions of vision, realism in everyday life, expressionism in feelings, abstracts in thoughts;

Convergence of culture erases the boundaries of faith and belief, race and nationality, inequities of living, into but one global village;

Convergence seeks peace and unity in a garden, on a stonewall, in seasons changing, in art movements, in cultures wanting to be free. ~

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Ring of Fire

Dr Abe V Rotor
Ring of Fire in acrylic, AVR 2016

Besieged by advancing culture, 
a forest once sacred and pristine,
falls into the evil hands of man - 
and man loses to his old sin. ~