Friday, October 31, 2014

Capture the significance of happy moments

Dr Abe V Rotor
Snorkeling: discover the world under the sea.
Field lecture: get out of the classroom. Nature is the best teacher. 
Stage play: whatever is your role - beauty contestant, 
villain, fashion model - it's exciting.
Dual role: guardians keep young to be loved by children. 
Arts: humanities to athletics, discover your talents, hone them.   
Global perspective: experience different cultures in passing.   

    Reflect and meditate, relax,
            Free yourself on weekends, 
       Get involve in your community, 
             Bond with family and friends,
Moments of joy you share,
               Each drop that Nature sends. ~

Lyrics of Rain

Dr Abe V Rotor

Cumulus cloud turning into nimbus or rain cloud

The afternoon becomes cooler and cooler each day
in May - dragonflies hover lower and lower in horde;
distant drums get closer and closer, the winds hiss
as the sky falls in thunderous downpour
like a coming train, pelting the faces of happy children,
laughing, laughing with the birth of streams
that wake the river, the fields from deep slumber,
ending many dreams in a long, hot summer.

(Instrumental solo follows, return to the lyrics.)

Compose a song with the lyrics. Enrich it with cadence and happy notes. Play it on the piano, or sing it with the guitar. Try with flute or violin, too.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Letters to our Children, second of a series

There are many young people who get spoiled because they fall victims to this triad:
  • Too much can lead to over protection, 
  • Over protection stifles the mind, and
  • A mind that is not challenged takes things for granted
Dr Abe V Rotor
We are writing you after your recollection.  What a strange arrangement. Shouldn't parents write or send gifts to their children on the day of celebration?  We can imagine how you sat down there alone while your classmates were reading their parents' letters, or opening the gifts they received.

This fault can be easily dismissed because people who are bound by love and respect easily find forgiveness.  Lest we forget however, that the very things that bind people could be the same things that can break them apart.  

We have known many a pampered child fail in life.  We have read true stories of friendship gone sour.  What an irony that the very things that set progress could be the very cause of destruction.  So with the cause of break up in friendship, in love, brotherhood, peace.

Taking things for granted on the other hand, can generate similar catastrophic results.  Why many an accident happened from taking things for granted.  A conflagration can be traced to a single matchstick.

What we are telling you is a lesson which we want you to reflect upon, on post recollection. There are many young people who get spoiled because they fall victims to this triad of factors:
  • Too much can can lead to over protection, 
  • Over protection stifles the mind, and
  • A mind that is not challenged takes things for granted
You may be brilliant, but you may not be using this gift well. You may be loved, but you may not be aware that you are not reciprocating properly. You may find the world exciting, but not challenging. You may have many friends but friendship may lead you out of your path of success. You may have many things at fingertip command but you may be passive.  
You will realize as you grow up that failure in life is hidden behind too much of the good life. Rich countries, it is true, provide the good life, but look at the new generation pampered by it. And if we think that nobody is poor in a rich country why is it that there are millions of impoverished people in the US.  How can a genius professor turn into a world terrorist?
On the other hand, how can Helen Keller see the world clearer that most of us who are not blnd? How did honest Abe Lincoln pass the bar when he virtually did not attend law school, and became president of the US? Why did Augustine renounce his rich inheritance just to live a monk's life?

In your post recollection, get a whole sheet of paper. Draw a vertical line at the center and list down on the left column people you know who made it in life the hard way. On the right column, list down people you know who did not make it because they became willing victims of the triad syndrome, 

Where do you place yourself?

Think deep and write your resolution. 

Papa and Mama 

To Anna Christina, 15 
January 24, 1998

Monday, October 27, 2014

Lake in a Lake

Dr Abe V Rotor
Laguna de Bay, Los BaƱos, Laguna

Once I asked:
why did you secede 
from the womb 
and hands 
that raised you?

As I pondered 
on Daedalus of Crete 
and the prodigal son;
your clear waters 
reflected a face 
no other than my own.

I threw a pebble 
and ripples broke away 
from the question.

Light in the Woods, 1995 Megabooks 

Paper Wasps on the Run!

Dr. Abe V. Rotor

Paper wasp nests, Museum of Natural History, UPLB Laguna
Or was it the other way around?

This happened to me - rather what I did - when I was five or six. I don’t know why I attacked a colony of putakti or alimpipinig (Ilk). It is bravado when you put on courage on something without weighing the consequences, much less in knowing the reason behind.

I was sweeping the yard near a chico tree when I suddenly felt pain above my eye. No one had ever warned me of paper wasps, and I hadn’t been stung before. There hanging on a branch just above my head was a neat clump of paper-like nest the size of a fist. On the guard were a dozen or two of this kind of bees, which is a local version of the hornet bees in other countries. Bees belong Order Hymenoptera, the most advanced order of insects owing to their highly developed social behavior.

I retreated, instinctively got hold of a bikal bamboo and attacked the papery nest, but every time I got close to it I got stung. I don’t know how many times I attacked the enemy, each time with more fury, and more stings I received, until dad saw me. I struggled under his strong arms sobbing with anger and pain.

I was lucky. Kids my size wouldn't be able to take many stings. Fortunately I was not allergic to bee poison. There are cases when the poison paralyzes the heart.

I learned a valuable lesson: Don't allow anger to overcome reason, and don't do anything, how courageous you may think, if it is motivated by revenge. They call this bravado - not courage.

x x x

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. ~

3 Ways to Live Naturally

  • Go for Fresh, Natural, and Locally Produced Food
  • Natural Farming Models
  • Live Naturally in your Home
Dr Abe V Rotor
Part 1: Go for Fresh, Natural, and Locally Produced Food
It's not enough that we produce food. We must produce food that ensure good health, reduce risks to diseases and ailments, and prolong life. We must produce food that also insures the health of our environment and the stability of the ecological system.
Typical fruit stand, UP Diliman QC
While science and technology continue to explore new ways to increase food supply with genetic engineering, people are yearning for organic food – or naturally grown food.

Here are issues raised by the proponents of organic farming.

1. Many ailments and abnormalities are traced to the food we take. Cancer for instance, is often related to carcinogenic substances. High uric acid leads to kidney trouble. High cholesterol and high sugar levels are associated with high blood pressure and diabetes. Aftatoxin causes cirrhosis of the liver. Ulcers are food-related, so with many allergies.

2. Proper nutrition and balanced diet can be attained by eating the right kind and amount of natural food without fortification with vitamins and minerals, and other forms of altering food value. Thus there is no need to process food unless it is really necessary. Fresh foods – vegetables, fish, and the like – are still the best. And why modify the genetic composition of crops and animals? Leave that to nature. Nature knows best.

3. Taking excess foods rich in animal fat and protein, and foods high in calories foods has predisposed many people to overweight conditions. Gaining unnecessary weight leads obesity now an epidemic sweeping many countries today particularly in cities where there is a proliferation of fast foods and junk foods. Or simply there is too much of the “good life” – excess in food and pleasure. In the US today one out of five Americans is an obese, two are overweight.

4. There are natural substances that keep our body always alert to fend off stress due to overwork and diseases. They are known as probiotics. We get probiotics from fruits and vegetables. We also get them from seaweeds, mushrooms, yoghurt, algae such as Chlorella, and Cyanobacteria such as Spirulina. And there are many more sources that occur in nature. We are beginning to realize that eating foods rich in probiotics and antibiotics (substances that directly kill germs) makes us healthier and live longer.

These are the rules set by the advocates of organic farming.
Best for health: fresh fruits and vegetables 

1. It is always better to eat foods grown under natural conditions than those developed with the use of chemicals.
This statement can be captured with one term "natural food". All over the world this is a label found in food grown without chemicals. People are afraid of becoming ill because of chemicals introduced into the food. There are banned pesticides still in used such as methyl parathion, endosulfan, DDT, BHC, among others. These are also harmful to all living organisms and to the environment.

2. People are avoiding harmful residues of antibiotics and pesticides.
Poultry, hogs and cattle are given high levels of antibiotics to safeguard the animals from diseases. As a result, the antibiotics are passed on to the consumers. Unless we are ill, the body does not need supplemental antibiotics. We have adequate natural sources. Every time we eat commercial eggs, chicken, pork chop, steak, and the like, we are taking in antibiotics which accumulate in our body, shutting off our immune systems, punishing our kidney and liver. To many people, antibiotics cause allergic reactions.

3. People are getting scared of food contaminated by radiation. Nuclear reactors are being built in many countries as a fallback to fossil fuel.
With the recent nuclear plant meltdown in Fukoshima, Japan, the Chernobyl nuclear incident in Russia, and that of the Three-Miles Island nuclear plant in the US, people have become wary about the consequences of fallout. A trace of radiation can be absorbed by grass in the pasture, finds its way to milk, then to infants. Radiation can remain active for hundreds of years. People are still dying today in Nagasaki and Hiroshima, more than sixty years since the bombing of the two cities with the first atomic bomb.

4. People are becoming aware of the deleterious effects of toxic metals, such as lead, mercury and cadmium.These find their way through the food chain and ultimately reach humans. They escape to the air and enter our lungs, as in the case of dusts from old paints. Since they are in soluble compounds, they are easily absorbed by plants and animals. Kangkong (Ipomea reptans) for example absorbs lead. Tuna has high mercury in its tissues and liver. Cadmium from batteries is absorbed by crops.

5. People are becoming more conscious of the nutritional value of food rather than its packaging and presentation.
More and more people are shunning away from junk foods, in spite of their attractive packaging. Soft drinks have taken the backseat, courtesy of fruit juices and mineral water. People have even learned that different plant varieties have different levels of food value. Beans grown on naturally fertile soil have higher calorie and protein content than those grown on poor soil, or with chemical fertilizers. This is also true with animals. Animals raised with proper nutrition give meat, milk and eggs with higher protein, minerals notwithstanding.

6. Freshness is the primordial rule in choosing a perishable food.
There is no substitute to freshness. While freshness is a function of efficient handling and marketing, the farmer must enhance farm-to-market freshness. By keeping his standing plants healthy, his produce will stay longer on the shelf life. Products that are free from pest and diseases also stay fresher and longer. Too much water or fertilizer reduces shelf life of the commodity.
Buko is a complete food 
7. Food processing must be efficient and safe.
Food processing, such as drying, milling and manufacturing is key to higher profits. Whenever feasible, food must reach the table fresh. But processing is designed to extend the shelf life of perishable commodities. There are products that require processing before they are used. These food items include vanilla, coffee, cacao, wine and vinegar, soya, fish sauce and the like. Profits generated through processing are value-added to production.

8. Food must be free from pest and diseases.
By all means, food must be free from insects and pathogens. There are cases of food poisoning as a result of food deterioration, or contamination. Take salmonella and E. coli. Khapra beetle in grains may even cause death to animals. Weevils hasten the deterioration of the food.

9. Food preservation must ensure quality, and above all, safety.
Be aware of the fish that is stiff, yet looks fresh. It is easy to detect the odor of formalin. Salitre is harmful, so with vetsin or MSG (Monosodium glutamate). Too much salt (sodium) is not good to the body. Some puto makers add lye or sodium hydroxide to aid coagulation of the starch. We wary of sampaloc candies enticingly made red with shoe dye. The same diluted dye is used with ube manufacture to make it look like the real violet-colored tuber.

10. Beware of GMOs.
Many countries warn of the potential dangers of genetically modified food and food products, popularly called Frankenfood, after the novel Frankenstein, a mad scientist who created a monster. This move is not only to safeguard health, but also the environment. Genetically modified plants and animals – as well as bacteria, protists and even viruses – are now a threat to the natural gene pool, giving rise to a new kind of pollution - genetic pollution. Once a gene pool of a certain species is contaminated with a GMO genetic material, the genic pollutant cannot be eliminated, even in subsequent generations. Thus, it also disturbs natural evolution.
No GMO, please, for the sake of the children. 
Next time you go to market, remember these guidelines. Why not convert that idle lot to raise food that is safe to your health and the environment? That little corner could be the start of a new green revolution.

Part 2: Natural Farming Models

The other name of natural farming is organic farming. In the United States and Europe, the trend now is for people to reach for organically grown food. In malls and large groceries, we find rice labeled "organically grown."

Mere substitution of fertilizer from chemical to organic is not enough. The organic fertilizer must be free from pathogens, toxic waste and metals.

The crops and animals must not be products of genetic engineering, meaning they should come from natural gene pools.

Natural farming also requires the absence of chemical spraying. If it cannot be avoided, the spray must be biodegradable, using botanical derivatives like derris, neem and chrysanthemum.

Here are scenarios of natural farming in the country.

1. Payatak method (Samar) - This is a local version of zero tillage. No plowing, no harrowing is done. A herd of carabaos trample over the soil until it turns into puddle, then the one-month old rice seedlings are transplanted. There are no sprays or fertilizers. This is natural farming in the marginal sense, a carryover of age-old tradition.

2. Mixed orchard (Zambales) – This is a stand of several kinds of trees, where orchard, firewood trees and forest trees grow together. These trees follow a natural pattern of arrangement. They have no common pest and need soil fertility differentially. The trees have their own niche and grow into layers resembling storeys. Management is simple and practical.

3. Multiple cropping model (Sta. Maria. Bulacan) - The farmer engages in the production of three commodities. A two-hectare farm may produce fruits, vegetables and rice, plus several heads of carabao and cattle. A pond supplies irrigation and produces tilapia and hito.

Why three commodities? It is because these commodities are closely integrated. First, the animals produce, other than meat and milk, manure for the plants. The plants produce food for the family and market. Plant residues are made into animal feeds and compost. The pond is source of irrigation. It is a waterhole for wildlife conservation, too. Because of its integrated structure and management the farm becomes a balanced system. This is the key to sustainable agriculture, otherwise known as ecological farming.

4. Sloping agricultural land technology or (SALT in Bohol). Call this natural farming even if the farm is a logged over area. The idea is for the farmer to revert the land to its natural state as much as possible. How does he do it? If one sees the model, the land has a slope of around 20 degrees. The steeper the grade the more difficult it is to apply the system. It does not work for slopes above 30 degrees.

In SALT, the contour of the slope is marked and outlined. The contours are spaced uniformly, and the rows that follow the contour are planted at intervals with annual and permanent crops. The idea is for the permanent crops (like fruit trees and firewood trees) to be sandwiched with annual crops (like peanut, rice, corn, and vegetable). The ipil-ipil herbage is used as organic fertilizer. The Neem tree is used for pesticide, while Lantana (L. camara) is a natural pest repellant, so with Eucalyptus. Legume intercropping and crop rotation replenish the soil of Nitrogen and other elements.

5. Modified models (rice and corn areas). Rice farming can be modified to suit the conditions of natural farming. There are farms today that rely entirely on homemade or commercial organic fertilizers. An equally important aspect of successful farming is cleanliness. This means effective weed removal, trimmed waterways, properly disposed of farm wastes, efficient drainage, well arranged rows, and properly scheduled farming activities. All these activities require low technologies that are also affordable. Together they contribute to good health for both the producer and consumer - and the environment.

As more people go for organically-grown food, agriculture becomes more environment-friendly, which is the essence of ecological farming.

Part 3: Live Naturally in your Home
Home gardening and landscaping take us into the realms of happy living. They take us closer to nature in our waking hours and in our sleep, in our private and solemn moments, as well as moments with our family, and when celebrating an event. This is the place we call home.
Rustic scene of peace, a respite from city life,  
1. Aesthetic beauty – Beauty and function must go hand on hand. There is a saying, “useless each without the other.” In science, morphology (form) enhances physiology (function), and vice versa. Maganda na, napapakinabangan pa. You need the sensitivity of an artist, and the green thumb of a gardener.

2. Food Security – It is having food grown in our garden, and processed in our kitchen. The concept of food security is in our hands, and in anticipation to our needs. All year round you can plan out what to plant and process, as how many times you can raise these products. Consult the planting calendar, practice effective techniques such as crop rotation, intercropping, and storey cropping. Plant those known to be best adapted in the area.

3. Livelihood – What you produce more than yourself and your family, you sell to the community and to the market, if the volume warrantees. These are produced directly from the garden – vegetables, fruits, fish, meat and eggs. Or these are products of cottage processing like salted eggs, patis and bagoong, wine and vinegar, toge, pickles, jam, jelly and the like.

4. Ecological Sanctuary – Offer a home for the homeless - the orphans and the endangered organisms which humans have driven or displaced. Make your home their sanctuary, maybe their last bastion. Your home is an extension of the wildlife, of a ecosystem, or a natural park, so that if the whole community adopts the same concept, we would in effect create a contiguous areas large enough to be considered a prototype ecosystem.

5. Buffer Zone – Keep your home free of dusts and unburnt carbon, and obnoxious gases mainly CO2, CO and S02. Trees and other plants serve as buffer to direct light and ultraviolet rays. They also buffer sound waves, reducing the extreme decibels generated by traffic and electronics.

6. Mini climate – A garden surrounding a home does not only reduce temperature, buy moderates its extremes and sudden changes. They generate of O2 , while absorb CO2 which they need for photosynthesis. Relative humidity is regulated, and deadly rays such as those emitted by communication transmission towers are reduced to a safe level.

7. Sense of Permanence – The home offer a permanent abode, opposite to transience, rootlessness, and impermanence. People tend to move from place to place – a neo-nomadic trend today. We establish our genetic and cultural “roots” not only of one generation but of the next and future – if we have a home we really call home. It reminds me of the beautiful poem and song, Home Sweet Home. I remember my dad who planted seedlings of trees when he was already very old. These trees, he said, will be for you and my grandchildren, his eyes twinkling with a sense of pride. Can you imagine an old, old mango or mabolo tree in your backyard? How many passersby have found comfort under its shade? How many tenants did it  serve – in its roots to its leaves?

8. Recreating a Lost Garden – A recreation of Paradise Lost, the foundation of many faiths, is a key to attain spirituality. It is in the loss of a once beautiful world that challenges us – whatever our religion is – to be able not only to survive without it, but to be inspired and guided to rebuild it. It is yet the greatest prayer we can offer to that Higher Principle.

9. Family Unity – A family that lives together in unity and harmony with Nature stays together. This has a basis found in biology and ecology. Only when the members of a system know their roles and respect each other can we really find peace and unity.

10. Community Involvement – No man is an island. In the city we can live without even knowing our neighbors. Condominiums are but multiple compartments. There is no sense of neighborhood or community. Each to his own. And we do not know if the occupant of one compartment will be the same next week.
 American bungalow, most copied home design 
Sketch on a bond, an aerial view of a home garden you have in mind, and if there is one
that already exists, study and analyze which aspects are applicable in your particular situation. Definitely the house and the garden should be contiguous in the sense that, like the concept of the American bungalow, “one step is in the garden while the other is in the house.”

How aptly stated; the imagery needs little explanation. The level of the floor is the level of the garden. Not necessarily. It means, you have but one lifestyle whether you are in the house or in its surroundings. Better said, you are at home whichever part of your home you are in. Of course some people would like their house to be treated apart of the surroundings, but if you adopt the Bahay Kubo concept and adjust it to fit into the basic amenities of living today, then our model is like the American bungalow but Filipino style.~

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Wall of Flowers II

Dr Abe and Cecille Rotor at a hotel lobby against a  mural painting of flowers.

A Wall of Flowers II
By Dr Abe V Rotor

Wall, if you are a mirror or you are a prison, 
which side is for the living, which one for the dead;
which side is the West, which one the East;
from where I stand I see a garden of flowers painted.

Photography: Skyscape - capture the fleeting images in the sky

Dr Abe V Rotor 
 Horse in the sky   
Sun in the trees  
Turtle in the sky 

Monday, October 20, 2014

You may be living with a Death-Watch Beetle

It’s like an Edgar Allan Poe’s story of death tapping on “a night dark and dreary”, but in this case it is not a raven.
Dr Abe V Rotor
It is the death-watch Beetle (Xestobium rufovillosum) that is alluded to death. It is an insect with a scary habit all right. The name was derived from the tapping sound it produces, which is frequently heard during mating period, usually in April or May.
Death-watch Beetle (Xestobium rufovillosum),
approximately 20 x magnification.
The beetle simply jerks its body forward in rapid succession, and strikes each time with the lower front part of its head against the surface on which it happens to be standing. It gives eight taps in slightly less than a second; and almost before it stops another beetle of its kind that is within hearing distance will respond by tapping back in the same quick manner. In woodwork and furniture that have been attacked by the death-watch Beetle, the worm holes are large and distinguished by the presence of frass and powder around the openings.

The beetles are from one-fourth to one-third of an inch in length, dark brown in color, spotted and banded irregularly with thick patches of short yellow gray hairs. Pairing takes place after the beetles have made their exit from the wood, and they die a few weeks later, the female in the meantime having laid some 70 eggs. The tapping is of the nature a sexual call, and may be repeated over and over for quite a long time. Grating sound may also be heard as the larvae gnaw on wood inside its tunnel. It takes three years to complete the insect’s life cycle.

A more familiar beetle, Anobium punctatum, is called powder post or furniture beetle, named after the dust it scatters at the mouth of its tunnel on furniture.

Well, it's just the death-watch beetle or the powder post beetle; there's nothing to fear about.
But don't wait until your furniture falls apart, or your house falls down. ~

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Edge of the Sea and Childhood

Dr Abe V Rotor 
Palo, Leyte
The fringe of the land, the edge of the sea,
     swells and recedes in calm and in rage,
telling a saga or make-believe story
     of child becoming man page by page. ~

Practical Home Remedies and Tips

Practical Home Remedies and Tips 
Dr Abe V Rotor

 1. Simplest remedy for diarrhea.
Diarrhea claims the lives of 3 million people, with nearly 2 million oif them children under five years old. Yet a simple and inexpensive treatment can prevent many of those deaths. Here is a simple formula for oral rehydration:  fistful of sugar + a pinch of salt + a jug of water.  This old home remedy is now recognized by the World Health Organization which claims that it has saved some 40 million lives, and hopes to demote diarrhea as the second leading cause of death among children. 

2. Do not do heavy work for 40 days after childbirth. 
This is especially true to rural women who do a lot of farm work aside from daily chores. But to urban mothers who are not usually accustomed to heavy physical work, it takes a longer time for them to recover after childbirth. The whole idea is to allow the inner organs to heal and the body physiology to get adjusted with child rearing.  Old folks recommend highly digestible and protein-rich food such as cereals, fruits and honey, which are also important in breast-feeding. Cognizant of the welfare of women, government regulation provides for an official maternity leave of sixty days, before and after child delivery.

In the village it is normal to nurse the baby for a year, but weaning may be started as soon as the child’s diet can be supplemented. Old folks would say,  “Milk doesn’t come out of the milk tree, it comes out of your blood.  Support that flow of blood that is converted into milk for the child.” 

3. Roasted shallot onion is an effective suppository.
Old folks heat shallot onion the size of the index finger until it is limp.  They then coat the bulb with coconut oil and while still sufficiently warm insert it into the anus.  It is a home remedy to reduce extreme fever and to draw out gas that causes kabag. People who have constipation problems resort to this practice.

4. Oxalic acid in kamias weakens the bones.
Sinigang with kamias (Averrhoa balimbi) is a favorite dish no Filipino kitchen is without. But too much intake of kamias is not good for the health because of the oxalic acid it contains which doctors and nutritionists found to be a cause of osteoporosis.  The principle is that, acids react with calcium compounds forming a neutral product – salt. In the process, the bone gets thinner and thinner predisposing it to break especially in old age. Thus, we should caution ourselves from taking too much acidic food, and in particular, kamias and balimbing (A. carambola)  which belong to Family Oxalidaceae

5. Onion and tomato spray kills harmful bacteria.
Spray derived from the extracts of these plants in low dilution proves to be effective against food bacteria. In certain restaurants it is a practice to spray the food with this stuff before it is served.  In others, standing food is sprayed to keep it safe. One problem though is the detection of the characteristic odor of onion, so that it is best to apply the spray on spicy food.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A Place by the Sea

Dr Abe V Rotor 

Sunken Pier, South China Sea, Sto Domingo Ilocos Sur

That was a long, long time ago
In a place by the western sea,
Hidden by feathery bamboo,
Thickets of wild kakawate
And the old resilient maguey.

I used to ride a wooden cart
Creaking on the dry stream bed,
Until I reached where two roads part
One leading to a homestead
From where came our daily bread.

This is the place I used to know,
Part of my childhood, part of me,
Where seasons come and seasons go;
Early dream of a destiny -
A beautiful life by the sea.

Faces I knew, old friends now gone,
Stare the young at someone new;
Big trees that used to shade the sun,
Houses I remember are few,
All makes an unfamiliar view.

Old Rip van Winkle I’m today,
Longer did I sleep than he;
And too long I had failed to pay
Respect to this land by the sea,
And the treaty of time and me. ~

Poetry: The Young Fisherman

Painting and Verse by Dr Abe V Rotor

Wherever you go your silence draws a crowd,
    The strong or the lame, the shy or the proud;
Each bite, each pull, each step, the children watch;
    For how long matters not. It is the catch.

Your rod a magic wand, focus of your fad;
    Under a spreading tree you are faceless,
And they don’t know if you are happy or sad;
    Whatever, a special guest you are no less.

Lessons you teach, they do not find in school,
    No words, nor chalk, and no talking tall;
Patience, patience, who waits is not a fool,
    Waiting for his fish whether big or small.

Years from now they too, will take over the trade,
    To catch their fish, or set forth free;
Beyond the fishing line, will they be afraid?
    Beyond patience, it’s a great story. ~

Photography: Put life into your photo

Marlo R Rotor

Photography today employs a lot of techniques with the camera and the computer, other means notwithstanding. How was this photograph made? Is this original? Edited? Illusion? Cut-out?

This is a classical example of creative photography. Here photography merges with fine arts at a crossroad where many professionals and enthusiasts venture into. They call it experimental photography. Other call it photographic arts. While still others push the limits to avant garde and graphics. Our world is often seen in abstract. That is how fast the pace of life is. Like riding in a fast moving vehicle where everything is blur and haze.

And when we come to a stop we want to regain our true sense of proportion and dimension, of distinguishing colors, of breaking up monotony of a waterfall by planting a fern on one side of the rock, such as this photograph.

Amadeo Waterfalls, Amadeo, Cavite
Bonus for Photography students in Arts and Letters. Please explain how this photograph was made. 

Having a camera today is no extraordinary privilege. In fact we merely have to point and shoot and the machine takes care of every thing. But not everything really. It is how skillful we make of a photo, and not vice versa. Man is still the mater of machine, and never its slave. Why don't you experiment with other techniques. Hone the right side of your brain, seat of creativity and imagination.

Look at the photo again, longer. Does it seep deep into your being, rather than just a visual representation?

A photograph that permeates the eye, the heart in order to reach the soul is a masterpiece of the art of photography.~

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Home remedy for wounds and sores

Dr Abe V Rotor
Common moss 

Poultice made of moss heals wounds and relieves pain.
This is a common practice in the highlands where moss is plentiful and luxuriantly growing. Fresh moss is crashed into a pulp and directly applied on a fresh or infected wound, loosely wrapping it with gauze or cloth strip. common moss 

Lourdes V. Alvarez in her masteral thesis at the University of Santo Tomas demonstrated the effectiveness of moss (Pogonatum neesi) against Staphylococcus bacteria, the most common cause of infection. Moss extract contains flavonoids, steroids, terpenes and phenols, which are responsible for the antibiotic properties of this lowly, ancient bryophyte.   

Poultice made of ground termite is effective for wounds and sores. 
After digging out an anthill or termite mound, the soldier termites (large headed) are carefully gathered, and ground into a paste which is then directly applied on the wound or skin sore. In some parts of Africa, the United Nations for successfully treating thousands of residents in remote desert communities using the same ethnic remedy hailed a village healer (equivalent to our herbolario). Laboratory tests revealed that termite poultice contains antibiotics more potent than commercial antibiotics.

Bats swoop on unwary people. Old folks warn us not to go out at dusk or at night - and never alone.

Dr Abe V Rotor

Fruit bat. A clumsy fruit bat may drop its load in the middle
of the night, and on hitting the roof of a house, sows fear about
mannananggal or half-bodied vampire lurking around.
Internet Photo, 2012

Bats, the only true flying mammals are perhaps the most misunderstood creatures because of their ugly looks and enigmatic life embellished with superstitious beliefs and associated with fiction such as the story of Dracula, a bloodthirsty count-vampire in the world of the undead. Movies, cartoons, and children’s stories have projected a bad image of bats, giving us the impression they are enemies of mankind.

The truth is that bats are harmless, except for three known species called vampire bats that feed on the blood of animals. Seventy percent of the one thousand species of bats live on insects as their daily diet. One bat can devour 1000 mosquitoes in one hour. The bigger species eat on fruits (fruit bats). Insectivorous bats swoop down on flying insects in the dark which they detect by means of echolocation (natural radar) making it appear that they are attacking people when they get too close to them.

Bats are nature’s biological agents in controlling destructive insects. They pollinate plants that bloom only in the night, and they are very efficient in disseminating seeds of many plants. By carrying out these functions bats are crucial in maintaining the ecological balance of fragile ecosystems like the desert and chaparral. Their droppings accumulated for years in their cave dwellings make the best and safest organic fertilizer (guano). Let us protect the bats instead; they are indeed man’s valuable friends. ~