Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Giorgio Morandi Etchings: Looking Back into the Art of Etching

Giorgio Morandi made etchings at a time when etching was a sort of specialized art. Etching dominated the process of printing images, illustrations in books and other publications, as well as sculptural and architectural works. With the development of modern printing, etching lost its practical value, so with its popularity, but it evolved into the use of metal, ceramics, and other media. It is to Morandi et al, that the art continues to occupy a distinct place in the world of art through forms and applications, such as relief etching and photo etching. 

Dr Abe V Rotor 
I had the opportunity to view Morandi’s works exhibited  at the Tel Aviv Museum in Israel, in 1992, and I could only express my awe and appreciation to both the skill and the peaceful and composed person behind these masterpieces.   


 Still Life with Four Objects and Three Bottles 1956 
 Still Life with Five Objects, 1954
 Large Still Life with Eleven Objects, Circular 1942
 Landscape, Grizzana 1932 
  Still Life 1933
 Still Life with Pears and Grapes 1927
 Still Life with a Large Poplar 1927
  Still Life with a Small Bread Basket 1921 
 Landscape, Grizzana 1932 
 Still Life with Bottles and Jug 1915

Acknowledgement: The Israel Museum, Jerusalem; and The Tel-Aviv Museum
The Lamp: Symbol of Enlightenment, Righteousness and Wisdom 
Dr Abe V Rotor
 I feel honored to be here in St. Paul University Surigao, because it is a sister university of SPU QC where I presently teach. Second, the subject which I am going to take up with you is a favorite subject of mine. It is a revival of an old art – the art of teaching.


Greek philosopher Diogenes holding a lamp at daytime. 

It is a revival of the teaching methods of Aristotle, Plato - and the Renaissance when the world realized how important it is to look back in the past. It is looking back at the lamp that enabled our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, to write his last masterpiece, the lamp Florence Nightingale held over her patients at the warfront, the lamp that made Scheherazade’s “one thousand and one nights” stories, the lamp a Greek philosopher held high at daylight “searching for an honest man.” Or the lamp fireflies make and glow with the spirit of joy and adventure to a child.

But why do we look back and ponder on a tiny light when the world basks in the sunshine of progress and development, of huge networks of learning, of high technologies in practically all fields of endeavor? I’ll tell you why – and why we teachers must.

But first let me tell a story of a computer enthusiast, who like the modern student today relies greatly on this electronic gadget, doing his school work so conveniently like downloading data for his assignment. So one day he worked on his assigned topic – love.


Florence Nightingale

He printed the word and set the computer to define for him L-O-V-E. Pronto the computer came up with a hundred definitions and in different languages. Remembering his teacher’s instruction to ask, “How does it feel to be in love?” again he set the computer to respond. And you know what?

After several attempts, the computer printed on its screen in big letters, “Sorry, I can not feel.”

Where is that main ingredient of human relations – feeling – today?




• Where is the true feeling between teacher and student?
• Where is the feeling of joy at the end of a teaching day, in spite of how hard the day had been?

Lamp of Aladdin 

• Where is that tingling feeling of the student for having recited well in class?
• Where is that feeling in singing the National Anthem, the St. Paul Hymn?
• Where is that feeling Rizal felt when a moth circled the lamp in his prison cell while he wrote, Mi Ultimo Adios?
• Where is that burning desire that drove Michaelangelo to finish single-handedly the mega mural of the Sistine Chapel?
• That drove Vincent Van Gogh to madness – madness the world learned a grave lesson years after?
• That kept Florence Nightingale, the founder of the nursing profession, make her rounds in the hospital in the wee hours of the morning?
• The lamp that strengthened Plato’s resolve to change the way people should think in the light of truth and justice.

Feeling.

There is a song Feelin, and the lyrics ask a lot of questions about human nature changing with the times. I do not think human nature has changed. It is as stable as Nature herself and the natural laws that govern the universe.

What we are saying is that our ways are changing. The conformity of our actions is more with the rules we set rather than the philosophies on which they are founded. It is our quest for want above our needs that has blinded us and benumbed our feelings, that has taken us to the so-called fast lane so that we no longer see objects as they are, but abstracts, that has made us half-humans in the sense that we spend half of our lives dealing with machines – who have no feelings.

What then is modern man? I am afraid we have to review some of our references on the Janus-like character of man, like -

• Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
• The Prince and the Pauper
• The Princess and the Frog
• The movies Mask, Superman, Batman, Spiderman
• Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter
• Cartoon and animae

The doubling of characters in man has led him away from permanence. Today, the biggest crisis in man is his impermanence. Impermanence in his domicile, nay, his nationality, political party. Affiliation in business and social organizations, and most disturbingly with his marriage and family.

When was the last time you said to yourself – or experienced, the following.

• It’s a weekday for my family and nothing else.
• How I wish I can help my child of his math assignment.
• I’ll teach only this year and will find a more rewarding job after.
• I think it’s time to settle down.
• I want to go to a concert and enjoy the fine art of music.
• Can’t I put all my ideas in a book?
• Panay meeting – can’t we just talk?
• This dizziness, it must be the pressure of my work.
• Maybe I can concentrate on my thesis this time.
• I have not finished reading “Da Vinci Code”.
• This summer I’ll be with my parents.

Here are ways by which we can brighten up our lamp amidst the factors that test our dedication of our profession as teachers.

1. Be yourself. Be natural.
2. Keep on learning
3. Be a model of your family and community
4. Relax
5. Use you faculties fully and wisely

Be Natural

Naturalness is a key to teaching. I saw a film, Natural with then young award-winning Robert Redford as the principal actor. It is a story of a baseball player who became famous. The central theme of his success is his naturalness. Naturalness in pitching, batting - in the sport itself, above all, in his relationship with his team and fans.

Our students can easily sense our sincerity. They shun from us if we are not. They cannot fully express themselves, unless we show our genuine love and care for them. Develop that aura that attracts them, that keeps relationship easy to adapt or adjust.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Who dares to teach must never cease to learn.”
- John Cotton Dana
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Be a Model

What I am saying is that a teacher must have more time for himself and for his family. Teaching is an extension of family life. And this is the primordial stimulus that makes your family a model family and you as a model teacher – because you cause the light of the lamp to radiate to others. And it is not only the school that you bring in the light. It is the community because you are also lighting the lamp of others, including the tiny glow in your young students. When they get home, when they interact with their community in whatever capacity they can, even only among their playmates, relatives and neighbors, they are in effect transmitting that light which is also the light of understanding and unity.

Relax

Great achievements are usually products of relaxed minds. Relaxation allows the incubation of thoughts and ideas. Churchill found time to paint during the Second World War. In his relaxed mind he made great decisions saved Great Britain and countless lives. Or take Einstein for instance. His formula which explains the relationship of energy and matter in E=mc2 was drawn out from casually observing moving objects - train, heavenly bodies, marbles. Galileo watched a huge chandelier in a church sway with the breeze and later came up with the principles of pendulum movement.

Darwin studied biology around the world as if he were on a leisure cruise, and summed up his findings that founded the most controversial Theory of Evolution by means of natural selection. An apple fell on Newton’s head when everything was still. Examine closely the parables of Christ. How relaxed the Great Teacher was in telling these stories to the faithful. The lamp shines the brightest when there is no wind. When held high with steady hands and given time to examine things around, views become clearer, and the more certain we are along our way.

Use Your Faculties Fully and Wisely

Our brain is made up of the left hemisphere, the thinking and reasoning part, and the right hemisphere, the seat of creativity and imagination. Together they reveal an enormous capacity of intelligence, which are pictured in eight realms. These are

1. Logic
2. Languages
3. Music
4. Spatial
5. Interpersonal
6. Intrapersonal
7. Kinesthetics
8. Naturalism

From these realms the teacher draws out his best qualities. He explores, decides, adapts, entertains, leads, and stands courageously to lead the young.

Here he sows the seed of knowledge. And in the young the seed grows, and grows, which the educator Henry Adams expresses in this line.

“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”

Keynote to a Seminar-Workshop on Multiple Intelligence in Effective Teaching at St. Paul University, Surigao, April 5-8, 2005.
x x x

Monday, July 28, 2014

Fishing Village - Sketch from a Bridge

Fishing Village - Sketch from a Bridge by DBM Usec Mario Relampagos 
Dr Abe V Rotor

Fishing Village in Catbalogan pastel, by Mario Relampagos, Samar 1986

The art of on-the-spot sketching
lives not in the lens;
artists create, the photographer 
loses that divine sense. 

And yet the world finds the ease
of viewing like breeze
passing by, nil of impressions
the make real artists.     

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Painting: Fluid Convergence in Art

Paintings and Poem by Abe V Rotor

Inter-tangential convergence

Uni-tangential convergence

Movements in art come and go, short lived or enduring,
     laid forgotten, or into schools they bloom; 
the daring weaned from the masters must tread on and on
     outside convention hall to freely roam.   

The artist is no constant, nor equation the rule of art;
     more so with vision, however art is seen;
people move, they arrive, depart, transient or domestic,
     everywhere, every thing's ever changing.

And yet the urge to return is primordial at the end -
     the homing instinct in convergence;
art paves the road, clears the sky, rings the chime
     in poignant familial obedience. ~

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Environment and Biology: Trees are Benevolent Hosts

Dr Abe V Rotor
1. The tree laughs, talks, with all the joys of childhood. "A tree is a joy forever." Tandang Sora QC

2. Playing hide-and-seek in a bamboo grove. The spirit of the place gives quaintness to living.Taal, Batangas
3. A fallen mango tree makes a romantic ambiance. (Atimonan, Quezon)
4. Phylodendron gains foothold on Dita tree (Alstonia scholaris) as it reaches for the sun several meters high. UST Botanical Garden
5. Balete (Ficus benjamina) strangles its host to  certain death, hence gaining a notorious name of Strangler's Fig. Mt Makiling, Laguna
6. Fruticose lichen clings on bark of tree. Lichens are communities of algae and fungi. They aid in food production and recycling of organic matter, as well as help conserve water. Caliraya Lake, Laguna
7. Drynaria fern as ephipyte helps conserve water, attract wildlife that protects trees from pests anddiseases.  It is not unusual that a branch gives way to the weight of the tenant fern. Tagudin, Ilocos Sur
8. Roots are exposed by slow erosion reveal tenacity of this tree. The tree allows growth of plants and animals like millipede and land snails, as well as micrororganims, many are symbionts to the tree. Mt Makiling Botanical Garden, UPLB 
9. Interlacing roots, principle of inarching, riprap slopes and banks, provide abode to many organisms. Mt. Makiling, Laguna.
10. Algae and mosses live on the spongy bark of acacia, providing nutrients to the tree, and creating a favorable microclimate. UP Diliman, QC
11. Crustose lichen coats trunk of young tree. Lichens are important to the tree; they also indicate pristine condition of the environment. Caliraya Lake, Laguna
12. Even after death the tree remains a host to red mushroom, termites, other saprophytes and decomposers, giving off its entire energy to serve the living world. 
--------------------


Friday, July 25, 2014

Only God can make an egg.

Dr. Abe V. Rotor

Analogously, according to Joyce Kilmer, “Only God can make a tree.”

Once there was a scientist in the like of Frankenstein, the doctor who created a monster in Mary Shelly’s novel in the late 18th century. This scientist wanted to make an artificial egg, but one that possesses all the qualities of a natural egg. With his intensive knowledge in chemistry and biology and engineering he succeeded at last in making one that is complete with albumin (white), yolk (yellow center), and of course a perfect eggshell.

Confident that he was after testing his masterpiece in the laboratory, he then proceeded in having it incubated, placing it in the center of a dozen natural eggs and had a mother hen sit on them. Days passed by and finally sweet sounds came from under the brooding hen. There were twelve beautiful, little chicks. All the eggs hatched except one, the thirteenth – his scientific egg.~

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Wall of Flowers

Dr Abe V Rotor
 Mural on canvas by the author

A wall I saw rising layer after layer as I grew older and older,
but never too high to keep me on one side; 
A wall that separated cities and countries and ideologies,  
but never did I settle down on one to abide.

A wall I left a long time ago, and wish it's still there standing, 
familiar of many stories, tears and laughters;
A wall of memories, each dot an event worth remembering.
Lo! a living wall of mosses, ferns and flowers. ~

A Pocket Tropical Rainforest in the City

Dr Abe V Rotor

What really makes a beautiful garden may draw two schools of thought- romanticism and functionalism. The University of Santo Tomas botanical garden does not take side on the issue; it portrays both in an integrated, harmonious design patterned after the richest and the most enviable biome on earth- the tropical rain forest.

The new face of the garden is striking. Let us begin with the cascading six-foot waterfall and trace its flow on a meandering rocky stream that ducks under a footbridge before plunging into the depth of a pond, its bottom murky and cool and rich in detritus. Here clams and snails, and other bottom dwellers, mostly decomposers, reside, shy from the sun and remain ensconced in the very food source that settles down. Such in the niche of these sessile, benthic organisms.

Bryophyte Garden

Along the “river”, the water keeps the environment fresh and cool, lapping at the rock, sending spray on its banks. Through time, on the walls of the waterfall and on any rocks that lies across the path of water, grow countless kinds of algae and mosses that build layer after layer until a carpet is formed, thus giving rise to another niche- the domain of bryophytes in Lilliputian imagery, or one depicted in the movie, Honey, I shrunk the kids.

Bryophytes are among the earliest plants and are, therefore, primitive. It is as if we are turning the hands of time some two billion years ago or so, when their prototypes began to fill the atmosphere with oxygen, which later favored the growth of more, and advanced kinds of vegetation. Perhaps their most outstanding contribution is in soil building, breaking up rocks exfoliating them, virtually skinning them with their acidic foothold, and, together with their biomass, making a mass we call soil.

Micro- Climate Effect

The ultimate source of water is the sky, from the clouds that gather and grow atop the forest. Transpiration and evaporation combine to attract the clouds, which come down as a shower or a downpour at any time of the day or night. It is for this phenomenon that this biome got its name - rainforest. To simulate this condition, the waterfall and running streams, together with a large fountain and a series of ponds near by, maintain high humidity in the area that is the key to the formation of a multi-storey vegetation and myriad of resident organisms.

It will take time for the UST botanical garden to reach the status of a true typical rainforest, if at all. Years shall pass, and in the process students and visitors shall witness here, the transformation of one sere after another, until a climax community is formed. It is not only for the scientific and aesthetic aspect that count; it is for something more - that which presents itself in the realm of ethico-morals that governs man of his role in God’s creation- the transformation of man himself as a true and faithful steward.

Evolving Ecosystem

The UST botanical garden is being transformed as a deliberate expression of an evolving ecosystem. It is Nature’s laboratory and a playing field of biological diversity. As a field laboratory the garden demonstrates ecological cycles - invasion, colonization, competition, and emergence of dominant species, as well as seasonal and long term succession patterns. We may not have the four distinct seasons, but there are tropical trees that demonstrate some characteristics they carry in their ancestral genes, such as deciduousness in narra ( Ptercarpus inducus), our national tree.

The garden is a living manifestation of dynamic balance in a changing environment with the organisms constantly adjusting to the demands of the latter, but in the process slowly affecting the environment itself. Such transformational stages, called seres, always lead towards homeostasis, and the result is a climax ecological system.

As a showcase of natural habitats, the garden adjusts to the development of niches and diversity indices. The garden never sleeps, to speak. It is a living arena and the drama of life goes on and on.

When we look at a life, we look at it in physics and chemistry- the flow of energy through the food chain, food web and their heirarchic order, the food pyramid. The light energy of the sun is transformed into chemical energy in plants, and is passed on to various organisms, one after another through the links of a chain. The remaining energy is used by the decomposers that transform organic substances into inorganic forms for the use of the next generation organisms- and the cycle goes on and on. We can witness this phenomenon among the residents in the pond, and among insects, arachnids, birds, and reptiles that reside nearby.

The garden is a laboratory for sociobiology, in the words of the founder of this field, Dr E.O. Wilson. Animal behavior is demonstrated both by instinct and condition learning, and, to an extent, incipient intelligence. The ingenious building of a spider of a web to trap its prey awes the visitos of the garden. But wait until they observe the preying mantis and the green tree ant. Ingenuity of nature in plants is observed in tropism - reactions to light, touch, and the other elements. Plants, to sociobiologists, are not insensitive and incapable of communicating with one another. As members of a community, they, too, respond, singly and collectively, through some kind of communication medium.

There are biological indicators of the state of the environment. The garden has a host of these indicators, such as lichens and fireflies, the presence of which attests to the fact that the environment is tolerably favorable to them in spite of air pollution, and that the garden has become their home. The garden itself is also a barometer of climatic adversity, like El NiƱo. The flowering of the bamboo is an antecedent of its episode.

I believe that, in spite of the crowded environment of high rise buildings around the UST, the Botanical Garden is not without natural populations of species. Butterflies, natural and cultured, find the garden a suitable abode, having the right kinds of plants they feed on and rear they young.

The ponds are a sanctuary of dragonflies as well, and their waters teem with both phytoplankton and zooplankton, seen only under the microscope. These in turn key up the food web, linking one organism to another in an amazing network of interrelationship.

"As a gene bank, the garden is a depository of biological diversity, providing access to genetic studies, propagation and exchange with other institutions," says Dr. Anselmo S. Cabigan a well known biologist and ecologist. The UST Botanical Garden is being supervised by Dr. Romualdo M del Rosario.~

Take Time to Reflect

Dr Abe V Rotor
Prayer at the Garden of Gethsemane

1. Hush, hush,
suddenly the world became still;
gone is the lark in the sky
and raven on the window sill.

2. The bamboo I cut is not really mine,
this giant grass, a reed sublime;
in the wind it rings a sweet old chime
into a song sans words and rhyme.

3. When the geese take to the air
their leader first breaks the barrier;
on the dovetail trail ride the flock
in synergy, confidence and luck.

4. The Arch honors the great;
it stands with the people's faith
through seasons and through the ages
enshrined in history's pages.

5. Two paintings of the same subject
the imagination may recollect;
however truthful that we may aim
will the paintings ever be the same.

6. "Tell me it is true," her faith implied,
"the sun is moving," she cried;
archetypes from memories relive
in those who blindly believe.

7. Full and heavy is the grain
in the field shining in gold,
nurtured by the monsoon rain
and by faith a thousand fold.

8. Flow gently like sweet Afton, flow;
but that was a long time ago;
now that you are covered with silt,
this song would no longer fit.

9. The moon is a boat floating,
yet brief it is in one place;
the boat is now sinking,
sinking into its new phase.

10. Children are children
seeking adventure away from crowd;
curiosity, danger and dream
lie beyond the cloud.

11. Flowers are full of promises,
they are the bridge of the gene,
the essence of a compromise,
opening a chapter and scene.

12. Nature's architecture
copied in a concrete world;
we of little faith are told -
all this is man's grandeur.

13. Bats, they cling in some dark dome
designed to be their home;
cast omen that sets them apart
from us who detest their art.

14. Long forgotten is Malthus ghost,
haunting Baghdad after Hanoi,
where Big Brother once again plays host,
benevolence a game of decoy.

15. Renaissance and God's word
ride on the Cross and Sword -
two tools their roles apart,
yet ruled by the latter's part.

16. The curse of the all Supreme
is to push man to the brim
when he acts with the god in him
and defies Mount Olympus hymn.

17. I asked how many friends I have;
the click beetle, it knew what I said;
pressing its breast my wish implied,
and all I wanted it complied.

18. Ode to the Cicada
Man may sing better and without end,
and perhaps his bride is more cute;
still he envies you his little friend,
for your bride is forever mute.

19. If you wish to reach heaven alone,
do not anymore bother,
for the Flood has purified your kind;
everyone is now a brother.

20. Keen is sight atop a hill
when the sky is blue and clear;
in the dark it's clearer still
with a heart to see and hear.

Stained glass radiates the spirituality art creates.



Reflections for the Lenten Season; Do

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

I can “cure” a person who is "naan-annungan"

Dr Abe V Rotor

An-annung is the Ilocano of nasapi-an in Pilipino. Spirits cast spell on a person, the old folks say. The victim may suffer of stomachache or headache accompanied by cold sweat, body weakness or feeling of exhaustion.

Well, take this case. It was dusk when a tenant of ours insisted of climbing a betel palm, Areca catechu to gather its nuts for nga-nga. My dad objected to it, but somehow the young man prevailed when dad left.

"Spellbound to the spirits of the living and the dead." A painting by a contestant in a painting competition at  UST

The stubborn young man was profusely sweating and was obviously in pain, pressing his stomach against the tree trunk. Dad called for me. I examined my “patient” and assured him he will be all right. And like a passing ill wind, the spell was cast away. Dad and the people around believed I had supernatural power.


There had been a number of cases I “succeeded” in healing the naan-annungan. But I could also induce – unknowingly - the same effect on someone else. That too, my dad and old folks believed. They would sought for my “power” to cast the spell away from - this time – no other than my own “victim”. What a paradox!

As I grew up and pursued my education, my perception on the supernatural began to change. I read Nostradamus prophesy, Hawthorn's House of the Seven Gables, Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven, Washington Irving's ghostly characters like The Headless Horseman. It was fun reading DraculaThe MummyThe ExorcistGhost. They are all out of this world; they just come in imagination and entertainment. And to scare naughty children.

The impressions I got from other books are different. Take the case of Alexander Dumas' Count on Monte Cristo, Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace, Victor Hugo's Les Miserables, and Charles Dicken's Oliver, Kemphis' Imitation of Christ and a lot of great writings, many considered classical because of their relevance and timelessness, and people often getting back to read them when they feel the world tightening up.

What really make people well? Of course, we have to know what make them sick of various kinds of ailmnents and symptoms in the first place.

People who are unwell are not necessarily those who are physically sick; they are those who are sick in the heart and mind. They have lost hope, they have low esteem of themselves, they are tied up with unforgettable  traumatic experiences. They are full of anger and hatred. And bad intentions.

Or they have drawn into the recesses of their mind and won't like to face the world. They fear reality, so they use fantasy as shield. Things out of this world is a defeatist argument, when logic fails, when reality is distorted. Sickness is deeper than what is physiologic or pathogenic. And there is only one thing that can make these people feel well.

And that is to bring them back to self-confidence and self-trust. After that they start building confidence and trust in others.

What was my role as the boy who can dispel bad spirits that chanced upon a person? I was merely as agent of renewal. Children are like that because they are pure and innocent. They are the best healers because they bring back faith and hope which the grownups are losing or have lost. The faith healer is the master catalyst. It was Christ way of healing, the key to his miracles.

I read something about Alexander the Great consulting the Oracle at Siwa to find out if indeed he is god-sent.

“The Pharaoh will bow to you, ” the priestess told him. And it did happen - the pharaoh kissed Alexander’s feet when he arrived in Cairo.

The great warrior knew no bounds of his power, conquering empire after empire, encompassing the whole breadth of the known civilized world at that time, reaching as far as the Orient.

But alas! on the bank of the Tigris-Euphrates River, one evening the great warrior, the son of god, died. Thus ended his lofty dreams as the ruler of the world. The myth went with him. He was barely 33 years old. ~

Have you been kissed by a black goat?

Have you been kissed by a black goat?
Dr Abe V Rotor
Rather, has a black goat tasted you? Carlo at home, San Vicente, Ilocos Sur

The goat eats everything - almost:
leaf or skin, fabric or paper; 
by gene and birth, unscrupulous 
this creature eats anything - almost. 

And it tastes everything, too - almost:
the sweetest, bitterest, saltiest,
intoxicating, lapping to the end, 
until it topples dead - almost.

And if it has kissed and bitten you - almost,
you must be vegetarian, carnivore,
cuisine lover combined; this creature
sees you a friend perfect - almost. ~

Note; Carlo's favorite ringtone is a goat's crispy call.

Wild Vegetables in Times of Hunger

The rainy season guarantees ample supply of fruits and vegetables, including wild food plants which spontaneously grow virtually anywhere, so that it is safe to say no one should die of hunger even in extreme condition. 


Dr Abe V Rotor


Edible Fern (Pako') - Athyrium esculentum)


Dampalit (Sesuvium portulacastrum)
Gulasiman or ngalog (Portulaca)


Himba-ba-o or alokong (Alleanthus luzonicus)


Papait (Mollogo oppositifolia)

Male flowers of squash (Cucurbita maxima) and saluyot tops (Corchorus olitorius)

Top, clockwise: Lima beans or patani (Phaseolus lunatus), wild amargoso or ampalaya (Momordica charantia), wild eggplant (Solanum melongena), and male flowers of him-baba-o or alokong (Allaeanthus luzonicus)

Unopened flowers of bagbagkong (dagger shaped vegetable)

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)
  9. Flower of katuray (Sesbania grandiflora)
  10. Corm of Palawan gabi (Colocasia sp)

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. Photos by Abe V Rotor.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Vinegar - Nature's Secret of Good Health

Dr Abe V Rotor

Vin-egar, which means sour wine, is Nature's secret of good health.

Vinegar or acetic acid (CH3COOH) abounds in nature, as long as there's sugar(C6H12O6). Sugar is converted into ethanol, and ethanol to acetic acid.

Ilocos Vinegar (far right) and fruit wine and basi- products of the Ilocos Region 

Vinegar then is oxidized ethanol or ethyl alcohol (C2H5OH). The conversion process is both biological and chemical. In fact, fermentation of sugar to ethanol, goes hand in hand with ethanol conversion to acetic acid, with the latter prevailing at the end.

This formula is taking place in food, flowers, fruits, plant sap, insect exudate, honeycombs, raisins, etc. Nature eliminates sugar - simple and complex - ultimately through this process, and at the end converts them back to elements ready to be re-assembled in the next process and for the next user or generation. This process is taking place everywhere because the agents are ubiquitous such as the yeast (Saccharomyces) and the vinegar bacteria (Acetobacter). And there are dozens more working in union. This scenario is also taking place in the mouth and stomach, on the skin, and other parts of the body of organisms.

Vinegar is Nature's cleansing agent and disinfectant, eliminating stain, odor, fungi, bacteria, weeds, and repelling ants, and other vermin.

People who are fond of food prepared with vinegar are healthier and slimmer. It is because vinegar regulates formation of adipose tissues, and burns fat. Some people dampen their appetite by sprinkling a little natural vinegar on prepared food to take the edge off their appetite. Notice that after eating anything with vinegar, you lose interest in your meal. Vinegar triggers the appetite's shut off mechanism.

Feel good. A teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water, with a bit of honey added for flavor, will take the edge off your appetite and give you an overall healthy feeling.

Well, here is a short list of home remedies using vinegar.
  • Soothe a sore throat. Put a teaspoon of natural vinegar in a glass of water. Gurgle.
  • Apply cold vinegar right away for fast relief of sunburn or other minor burns. It will help prevent burn blisters.
  • Soothe a bee or jellyfish sting. Douse with vinegar to soothe irritation and relieve itching.
  • Relieve sunburn. Lightly rub diluted natural vinegar on skin. Reapply as needed.
  • Conditions hair. Add a tablespoon of vinegar to your rinse to dissolve sticky residue left by shampoo.Italic
  • Relieve dry and itchy skin. Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar to your bath water.
  • Fight dandruff. After shampooing, rinse with a solution of ½ cup vinegar and 2 cups of warm water.
  • Treat sinus infections and chest colds. Add ¼ cup or more vinegar to the vaporizer.
  • Cure hangover. Combine two raw eggs, a tablespoon of vinegar and black pepper. Blend well.
Just a reminder. Use only natural vinegar - not glacial acetic acid. ~

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Mahatma Gandhi's Interpretation of Sin

Dr Abe V Rotor



Mahatma Gandhi, man of the last millennium, interprets the seven Deadly Sins as follows:

1. Wealth without Work
2. Pleasure without Conscience
3. Science without Humanity
4. Knowledge without Character
5. Politics without Principle
6. Commerce without Morality
7. Worship without Sacrifice

After viewing the film, Gandhi, with my students in humanities, I presented a comparison of Gandhi's interpretation with Vatican's Seven Cardinal Sins, which are as follows:

1. Anger
2. Gluttony
4. Sloth
5. Lust
6. Greed
7. Envy

Gandhi has built a bridge of understanding not only between the Christians and the non-Christians - but among different faiths - that goodness is universal. His way to the Truth, his way to Peace through non-violence, in fact the way he lived and died - truly make him the Man of the Millennium.

Here are beautiful passages from the Man of the the Millennium.

• "Nonviolence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man."

• "Truth is what the voice within tells you."

• "Truth is the right designation of God."

• "Truth and nonviolence will never be destroyed."

• "Truth is like a vast tree which yields more and more fruit the more you nurture it."

• "Truth alone will endure, all the rest will be swept away before the tide of time."

• "Truth is self-evident, nonviolence is its maturest fruit, it is contained in Truth, but is not self-evident."

• "Truth is the first to be sought for, and Beauty and Goodness will then be added unto you."

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Indigenous Tools and Equipment

Dr Abe V Rotor

Sled or pasagad, bullock drawn

These are indigenous tools and equipment, many are now rare. The younger generation may not be familiar with many of these in the list. Others have simply evolved into new designs or tools which are difficult to trace as to their origin. There are regional variations and have adopted distinct cultural traits. In fact, there are universal inventions which cannot be calimed by a specific country or culture, such as the

1. Trowel (Barrusot Ilk)
2. Hand palay harvester (rakem)
3. Laying hen’s crib (baki)
4. Farmer’s backpack (kuribot)
5. Boat sled (takuli)
6. Bullock Sled (pasagad)
7. Bare bull cart (partigo)
8. Bull cart with sides (kariton)
9. Sledge hammer (maso)
10. Dike (pilapil) bolo (pangtabas)
11. Heavy duty bolo (badang)
12. Everyday bolo (buneng)
13. Dagger (balisong Tag; daga Ilk)
14. Iron nail remover (kabra)
15. Crowbar (bareta)
16. Log saw (sarrotso)
17. Ax (wasay Ilk)
18. Wide brimmed hat (payabyab)
19. Woven hat (kallugong)
20. Planting pole (tik-tak mechanism)
21. Fish basket (alat)
22. Chewing nut bag (tampipi)
23. Scythe (kumpay)
24. Fishing pole (banni-it)
25. Slingshot (palsi-it)
26. Toy hand cannon (palsu-ot)
27. Blowgun (salbatana)
28. Threshing rope with handle (hawak)
29. Threshing board
30. Woven mat (banig)
31. Coconut midrib broom (walis tingting)
32. Soft grass broom (walis tambo)
33. Coco shell cup (ungot)
34. Earthen water pot (calamba, caramba)
35. Earthen pot (for cooking) (palayok, banga)
36. Fish fence (tarit)
37. Fish trap (salakab)
38. Bottom fish trap (kudagdag)
39. Fish net with x-frame (salloy)
40. Throw net (tabukol)
41. Fixed fish trap (bubo)
42. Bird pole trap (taay)
43. Bird loop net (singgapong)
44. Spear (pika)
45. Dugout trap (palab-og)
46. Bow and arrow (pana)
47. Coconut grater (gadgaran)
48. Curve bolo for trimming levees (panabas)
49. Hammer or mallet (martilyo)
50. Lever to draw water from well (babatwagan)

NOTE: List has not been arranged according to use/s, not even alphabetically. This is to allow inclusion of more tools and equipment.