Friday, May 29, 2015

Ecology Wall Mural: "Mirror of Nature on the Wall"

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of all? 
This wall mural tells and warns us before the Fall. 

Mural Painting and Verses by Dr Abe V Rotor

Orangutan and her baby perched in a tree their home -
mother and child model in the wild - and for whom?

A pair of gray herons patiently stalks for prey,
no fast food, no detritus even if it takes a day.

Too small a herd, remnant of an endangered kind;
bless he who has seen a deer free, it's a lucky find.

Kakapo, macaw, or parrot talking birds and colorful;
Bird of Paradise the rarest and brighest of them all.

Serene these creatures live in peace and harmony;
wouldn't we humans wish - if only there were many?

Nest atop a tree a mother hawk takes care of her brood;
scenario we wish, rather than living on the busy road.

A pair of love birds "'til death thou us part" bound;
while a third warns of danger stalking the ground.

A boa constrictor poised to strike or just resting,
makes a story symbolic, fearful, interesting.

Butterflies and bees too, have their share of the scene;
fluttering, buzzing in disquise, discreet on the screen.

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of all?
This wall mural tells and warns us before the Fall. ~

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Lost Owl

Dr Abe V Rotor
Philippine Owl, circa 1969
It fell from its roost, and that was a long time ago,
and I was then young and eager about the world -
What would I care about an owl suddenly appearing
in broad daylight, and I driving a top-down Ford?

It gave a kind of queer smile, its eyes half-close,
hunched and still, but I'm not the birdman Audubon -
What would I care about this descendant of dinosaurs,
to tell me its lineage, and I, a link to a larger bond?

No. I had pressing task to finish, I had to drive fast;
Wait, my partner said, and took a photo of the fellow;
and down the lane and up we went. Years passed.
I dreamt of a bird on a lonely road, cold as snow.~

Parbangon Nanem (It's Dawn Again)

 Dr Abe V Rotor
1. Pumarbangonen:Sarzuela ken komedia,
Mangrugi manen.

(Dawn ushers daily grind
of life's drama and comedy)

2. Ti ukoy-ukoy,
Agur-uray diay abut
Iti agbiddut.
(The antlion waits for prey
that blunders and falls into its pit.)

3. Nakasutsutil -
Bacchus, Ambrosius Venus,
(Help me from tempters - Bacchus,
Ambrosius, Venus. From Greek mythology
gods and goddess of ostentatious living.)

4. Igudagudmo,
Agsangit, agkatawa;
Langit ken daga.
(It's the violin being referred to.
It cries and laughs with heaven and earth.)

5. Kapanunutan
Ken takyag iti mangged,
Puso ti tured.
(Intellect and brawn to earn;
courage is in the heart.)

6. Saan nga ammo,
Nat-natay diay adayo,
Ilagip tayo.
(Reverence to the dead -
even those unknown in distant land.)

7. Kapanunutan,
Narigat nga abaken,
Malaksid kukuam.
(You really can't win an argument,
except your own.)

8. Umisemkan,
Tapno maturogen ti
Dakkel a bulan.
(Your sweet smile
makes the moon sleep. )

9. Nakadumog,
Labaslabasan ti angin,
(Refers to good harvest:
Heavy panicles bow low,
ducking the passing wind.)

10. Naturoganna't
Panagbaliw ti lubong
Ni Rip Van Winkle.
(From Washington Irving's story,
Rip van Winkle, about a man
who slept for twenty long years
amid changes going on in the world.)

11. Panagkakadua,
Awan iti baetna,
(Too close for comfort, referring to friendship. )

12. Malinlinay,
Lumakay, agbabaak,
(Getting old and aging
don't mean the same thing.)

13. Gura ken ayat,
Bumtakman wenno umpes,
Arig ti ulep.
(Love and hate may be compared to a cloud -
it dissipates or falls as rain.)

14. Diay pag-gugubatan
Ubbing laeng ti matay,
Ilida’t lumakay.
(As the young die in the battlefield,
the country unprecedentedly grows old.)

 15. Warnak inaldaw,
Amin nakaragragsak,
(A daily reminder: Too much
fun may lead to sorrow.)

16. Toy agkabanuag,
Adut’ pakairamanan,
(The youth have good
and bad things to share.)

17. Kapapategan,
Dua laeng iti pagpilian -
Kappia ken Kappia.
(Peace is peace. There is no other choice.
It is the most treasured thing.)

18. Flanders, Bataan,
Agur-uray ti turay,
Kappia, pakawan.
(Forgiveness and Peace reign in the WWII
memorials in Flanders Field in Europe,
and Bataan in the Philippines.)

19. Uray laglagip
Tinubuanen iti ru-ot
Didiay Austerlitz.
("I'm the grass, I cover all," says a poet, referring
to the dead in this battlefield in WWII.
It covers also memories)

20. Akasia’t malem,
Ti panagawid ammuem,
(Call it a day when the leaves of the
acacia tree droop.)

Photos credit Internet, Wikimedia 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Garlic is effective and safe pesticide

Dr Abe V Rotor

There's a universal belief that garlic drives evil spirits away. Well, 
this time it's insect pest that it will drive out of your garden.

Here are five ways to do it, entomologists (experts on insects) tell us.

1. Plant garlic among your garden plants, say mustard, tomato, pepper, okra, beans, and let it grow with them. Here is a caution though. Don't plant it too close to the crop so as to avoid its allelopathic effect (chemical secretion from its roots to compete with nearby plants).

Garlic serves as natural repellant of insects that would otherwise attack these crops, as well as ornamental plants. You can even harvest the bulbs at the end of the season. By the way, fresh garlic leaves are used in the kitchen like those of its relatives, kutchai (Allium tuberosum) and onion (Allium sepa). Try on fried eggs, batchoy and mami.

2. Hang garlic bulb on trellis and viny crops like patola (Luffa), ampalaya, cucumber, sitao, batao, and the like. Garlic exudes a repelling odor that keeps destructive insects at bay. Now and then crush some cloves in the open to refresh the garlic odor.

3. Make a spray solution direct from its cloves. The simple method is to soak crushed garlic cloves in water for a few minutes, then spray or sprinkle the solution on plants attacked by aphids, mites, caterpillars, and other pests. Adjust strength of solution to the severity of infestation.

Other than its repellant properties, garlic is also anti-bacterial and anti-viral. It could be for this that it was used to ward off the Bubonic Plague carrier - a flea (Xenopsylla cheopis) during the Dark Ages in Europe. It's no wonder people at that time believed in the power of this species of the Lily family in driving away evil spirits.

4. This is another method. Soak approximately 100 grams of chopped garlic cloves in about 50 ml of mineral oil (turpentine or kerosene) or cooking oil for 24 hours. This is then slowly mixed with 500 ml of water in which 20 grams of powdered natural soap (Perla or Ivory) has been dissolved. Soap serves as emulsion to make oil and water miscible. Stir the solution well and strain it with an old shirt or nylon stocking, then store the filtrate in an earthen or glass container and keep it in a cool, dark place.

This serves as mother stock, ready for use, diluting it one part to twenty parts of water, or down to one part per hundred. It is reputed to be an effective insecticide against most common garden pests. It can be sprayed or sprinkled liberally on practically all plants, including ornamentals and orchids.

5. Garlic is planted as "trap crop." In spite of its repellant properties garlic is not pest-free. There are insects that attack it, such as thrips (Thrips tabaci), flea beetle (Epitrix), white flies (Bemesia), and some plant bugs (Hemiptera). Just allow the standing garlic plants to attract these insects, thus saving other crops from being attacked by the same insects. Then rouge the infested garlic plants and burn together with the pest.

Garlic can save us a lot of money, and eliminates the hazard to health and environment caused by chemical insecticides. It is an ancient practice in the Fertile Crescent, Egypt and ancient China, a key to natural and sustainable farming and a balance ecosystem.

Let's revive this simple practice today.~

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Effects of Global Warming as Seen in a Crystal Ball

Dr Abe V Rotor

Global Warming in a Crystal Ball, acrylic painting by the author (circa 2000)

I see the world losing its symmetry, a disfigured globe with parts missing, displaced, losing its original shape;

I see the world in layers and divisions heretofore unknown, threatening dynamic stability called homeostasis;

I see the world fiery in many parts as volcanoes erupt in greater frequency and intensity, and simultaneously;

I see the world in deceiving colors of blue, green, gray, yellow, spectrum of disaster on land, water and air;

I see the world barren as deserts expand, farmlands turn into wastelands, shorelines swallowed by the sea;

I see the world scarred by fault lines, and new cracks of the earth’s crust, triggering more and stronger earthquakes;

I see the world in ruins where cities once grew into megacities, now virtually a jungle of concrete and steel;

I see the world pitch dark at night where there were more lights on the ground than stars in the sky;

I see the world decimated of its once rich biodiversity, countless species endangered, others forever gone;

I see the world pitch dark at night where once there were more lights on the ground than stars in the sky;

I see the world decimated of its once rich biodiversity, countless species endangered, others forever gone;

I see the world “the glory that was Greece, the grandeur that was Rome,” with history repeating itself;

I see the world with the frivolities of modern living giving way to the revival of a simpler life style;

I see the world rebuilding from its past like the mythical bird Phoenix, people of all ages and walks of life cooperating. ~

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Ten Ways the World Could End

(Article in progress)
Dr Abe V Rotor
Based on the lecture of Stephen Petranek
TED Talks

 Big Bang in acrylic by the author

10. We lose the will to survive
9. Aliens invade the Earth 
8 The collapse of the ecosystems
7 Partticle Accelerator mishap
6 Biocide disaster 
5 Reversal of the Earth's agnetic field
4 Giant solar flares
3 New Global Edidemic
2. We meet a rogue Black Hole
1 Collision with an Asteroid

Develop your NATIVE INTELLIGENCE. Here is a checklist for self-evaluation.

Dr Abe V Rotor 
Native Intelligence list

1. Animals are uneasy before an earthquake. They can sense the preliminary vibration before the final snap (tectonic break).

2.    Don’t gather all the eggs from the nest.  Leave some, otherwise the laying hen will not return to lay more eggs. (Applies in cottage poultry raising)

 Frogs croak for rain. Mating calls are heard at the start of the rainy season (habagat)
3.    Thunder and lightning spawn mushroom. Join the mushroom hunt a day or two after, in banana groves, termite mounds, haystacks.   

4.    Corn silk tea is good for the kidney. So with the pinaglagaan – water left in boiling green corn.

5.    Kapok laden with pods means there’s going to be a poor harvest. Kapok has shallow root system vulnerable to insufficient water.  

6.    Rub table salt on the cut stem of newly harvested fruits to hasten their ripening.
Also prevents rotting.

7.    Choose pakwan (watermelon) with wide, well-spaced “ribs.” It is sweeter and fleshier. Fruit has reached full maturity.  
8.    Poultice made of moss heals wounds and relieves pain. Antibiotic property.  

9.    Ring around the moon means a storm is coming. It means very high humidity (suspended water vapor).

    10. Red and gray sunsets are signs it’s going to rain.  Or a storm is coming. Rainclouds are forming.

11. Leaves of madre de cacao or kakawate hasten the ripening of fruits. Enclose green fruits in plastic to trap ethylene gas, ripens in a day or two.

12. Smudging induces flowering of fruit trees and protects fruits from pests. Secret of off-season fruiting.

13. Drosophila flies (mannuka) hasten vinegar making. They carry vinegar-making bacteria.

14. Chopped banana stalk makes a cold pack to reduce fever. Radiator principle.

15. Pruning induces growth and development of plants. A must in grapes.

16. To increase corn yield “decapitate” the standing crop. (detasseling)

17. When the leaves of acacia fold it’s time to go home. 

18. .Pinag-aasawa ang bulaklak ng kalabasa. (Pollination)

19. Sukang Iloko (Ilocos Vinegar) is home remedy for sore throat (gurgle), and fever (wipe gently forehead and body). Dilute with equal amount of water.

20. Old folks use garlic as insecticide. Crush and mix, one clove to a litter of tap water, filter and sprinkle on plants.
21. Sugar solution extends the life of cut flowers. At 10% for three hours immersion of freshly cut stem for better absorption.

22. Why mungo seeds won’t soften when cooked is due to a spell cast by deities in the field. Immature seeds are caramelized.  

23. Red or brown sugar is better than white or refined sugar. It’s natural with the original nutrients of cane sugar.  

24. It is a common practice of farmers to cover fruits with ash, sand or sawdust to delay their ripening and minimize losses. Controls atmospheric conditions like temperature, sunlight, humidity, microorganisms.  
25. Farmers plant tayum (Indigofera tinctoria) to fertilize their field. It is a legume and can fix Nitrogen into Nitrate.

26. Brown eggs are preferred over white eggs, especially in rural areas. Brown eggs are produced by native chicken raised on the farm without antibiotics and other chemicals.
27. Water remains cool in earthen pot (calamba or caramba) even in hot weather. Pores of the pot works on radiator principle.

28. Apply lime or alum on the butt end of cabbage to stay fresh and longer in the shelf.

29. To prevent glass from breaking, first put a metal spoon before pouring hot water.

30. Emergence of the June beetle ushers the start of rainy season.  Sometimes in comes out in May, hence also called May beetle.

31.  Dogs eat grass for self-medication, so with parrots eating clay - a biological instinct for survival.

32. To get better harvest, furrows must be parallel with the sun’s movement. Less overshadowing of plants enhances photosynthesis – and good harvest.

33. Ants on-the-move means a strong rain, if not a typhoon, is coming. Cockroaches come out of their abode and seek for shelter outside. They are Nature’s barometer.

34.  Mosquitoes bite more aggressively before rain - in preparation for egg laying.

Aedes egyptii female mosquito 
35. There are persons who are a favorite of mosquitoes. Please check if you belong to the favored group.

·         You don’t take a bath regularly. 
·         You wear dark clothes, especially black. 
·         Your body temperature is relatively higher.
·         Your rate of breathing is faster.
·         Your skin is relatively thin and tender. 
·         You love to stay in corners and poorly lighted places.
·         You are not protected by clothing, screen or off-lotion. 

Make your own transforms for teaching and decoration

Museum of Natural History, UPLB 
Mt Makiling, Laguna 
Dr Abe V Rotor
 Replica of whale attracts teachers on field trip.  On the left is a painting of the blue whale
 Giant outline of a damsel fly and a butterfly

 Scorpion on the wall; wooden exoskeleton of insect.
 Modern sculptural representation of an insect's exoskeleton 

Fairy tale mushroom; anatomy of a tree

 Sowbug, a relative of the insect - a terrestrial crustacean
A representation of a "new" species of  lizard.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Fifteen Reasons I Love the Mangrove

Dr Abe V Rotor

Mangrove reforestation attempt to restore the shoreline ecosystem in Guimaras after the oil spill disaster in 2006. To this date the ecosystem has not been restored.

I love the mangrove for building a natural wall against tidal waves and tsunami, at the edge of the sea; 

I love the mangrove for providing a nursery for fish and other aquatic life, weaning them to the open sea;

I love the mangrove for rip-rapping the shores and banks against erosion, and building soil in the process;

I love the mangrove for its rich biodiversity - flora and fauna, protists and monera - in chains and webs;

I love the mangrove for filtering the salt and dust in the air, and buffering noise into sweet sound; 

I love the mangrove for the legends and tales it holds - of fairies and mermaids, of pirates and treasures; 

I love the mangrove for its unique life cycle - self-regenerating, self-fertilizing, needing no cultivation; 

I love the mangrove for the countless valuable materials it gives, from timber, to firewood, tannin, to medicine;

I love the mangrove for keeping the surroundings cool, freshening the air, absorbing carbon in the air;

I love the mangrove for its mixed stand of vegetation by layers, making a distinct forest of its own kind;

I love the mangrove for being the home of migrating birds coming and going every season of the year; 

I love the mangrove for being the home of rare species, heretofore barely studied and identified;

I love the mangrove for its resistance to pollution, and ability to help nature's housekeeping;

I love the mangrove for its being a natural tourists' attraction, field laboratory, and educational center;

I love the mangrove for its humility and persistence, even in a most hostile environment; 

I love the mangrove for what it is, without it, there are species that cannot survive, humans among them;

I love the mangrove for being part of creation, for every living thing has a purpose on earth. ~

Be vigilant! Don't be a victim of unscrupulous trade practices.

Dr Abe V Rotor 

Wa-is, coming from the word wise, is the local parlance to describe a person who puts one over his fellowmen. It is taking advantage of others of their situation, ignorance or weaknesses (lamangan). Here are common cases.

Be sure you know what goes into your coffee. It may be adulterated with ipil-ipil seeds. Likewise, chocolate may contain road dust as filler. Papaya seeds mixed with black pepper is not uncommon. Peanut butter comes from broken and immature seeds; bagoong and patis from unsold fish at the end of the day.

1. Coffee is adulterated with ipil-ipil (Leucaena glauca) seeds. The seeds contain mimosin that retards growth and causes baldness.

2. Broken and inferior peanut is ground into peanut butter.  It is high in aflatoxin which causes cirrhosis and cancer.  Healthy nuts are sold whole peanut.  

3. It is the culled piglets (bansot) that are made into lechon. The robust ones are grown for meat.

4. Papaya seeds are mixed with black pepper. They look similar.

5. Inferior quality fruits such as strawberry, orange and mango are made into jam and puree.

6. Ordinary milkfish (bangos) is passed on as prized Bonoan bangus from Dagupan. The lower tail of Bonoan bangos is shorter than the other tail.

7. Unscrupulous traders add water and salt to bagoong and patis to increase their volume.

8.  Premium grade fruits are arranged on top of kaing (basket); inside are of inferior grade.  

9. Ordinary rice is mixed with premium rice, and passed on as premium grade.

10. Cabbage grown on the lowlands of Ilocos is brought up to Baguio and passed on as Baguio cabbage which commands a higher price.

11. Before a large animal like cow is sold to the auction market it is first bathed with patis to make its body to swell and appear fat.  This is a  malpractice observed in Padre Garcia, Batangas, the biggest animal auction market in the Philippines.

12. Tomatoes are forced to ripe when price is high,  This is done by uprooting the whole plant laden with fruits and hang it upside down until all the fruits, including the immature ones, are "ripe."

13. Immediately after the Chernobyl nuclear accident fallout-tainted milk found its way to the Philippines. The huge shipment was impounded pending investigation. When the investigation was over, to the surprise of not everyone, milk was gone. To the amazement of housewives - powdered milk  and polvoron became so suddenly cheap!   

14. Double dead is not a new term.  This is meat from already dead animals - poultry and livestock sold clandestinely. It is prevalent during foot-and-mouth epidemic for livestock, and corriza for poultry, usually in the summer months. 

15. Check expiration date, also date of manufacture. If there is none -  erased or altered - don't buy the commodity.  This is specially true with canned goods, bakery products, and other perishable products.  Check date of harvesting or slaughter for fresh items.  There may be frozen food long overdue for disposal. 

16. The most rampant trade malpractice is short selling. Watch out those weighing scales on the sidewalk. You pay for three kilos lanzones when the actual weight is only two. Translate this to bigger volumes. 

17. Frozen dressed chicken?  After thawing, it shrank by a quarter. So with fish.  Sometimes water is injected before freezing. 

18. Formalin is added to ice water to preserve fish. Any trace of formalin is enough warning.  But not so many people can detect it. 

19. Kalamay sa ba-o.  How do we know if it's really filled?  This is where trust of a suki comes in.

20. Food coloring makes food and drink attractive and inviting. Many food dyes are carcinogenic. 

21. Over packaging (e.g. tupig is over wrapped with excessive banana leaves, so with carabao cheese, puto and the like.  Too much and elaborate packaging is part of selling strategy.  It is a tool of manufacturers of many products from toothpaste to underwear.  

22. Davao pomelo, Zambales mango, Laguna  lanzones, 

23. Nakatikim ka na ba ng kinse aƱos? (Referring to a 15-year old wine).  It's a lie; a viable business can't let money sleep that long. And how about the hidden indecency of the message?  Would you patronize the product?

24. Made in USA,  Made in Japan, But the components of the appliance are made in China.  German Design, but locally made.  "USA"  Translation: Deer   

25. Dilution = More Profit, in shampoo, washing detergents, softdrink, fruit juice, whiskey, brandy, rubbing alcohol, perfume, gurgle.  We may be buying "water" and least of the product. 

26. Fillers in toothpaste, detergents, cosmetics, etc.  Breaded fried chicken, fish to make them look bigger - and cheaper.   

27. Sale!  Sale! Be aware of the original price, and find out if it's really sale.  

28. Advance payments.  Payment-in-kind. Wholesale price, factory price (really?),
No exchange no return.  The customer is always right. I mean, the right of the customer.  

29. Smuggled? contraband (guns)? Stolen? Regulated (drugs)? Fenced? The customer must know the law. Ignorance is no excuse. Don't fall victim of illegal activities.   

30. Book Cover Syndrome. We are in an age of aesthetic design.  Of beautiful facade.  Of first impression.  Of idol endorsers, of the "in" thing. "Contemporary" means now; tradition is passe.  Futurism (Lady Gaga), gender insensitive (Charice).

Don't fall into the tender trap of consumerism. Impulse buying, psychological appetite. Restraint, restraint. 

These and many more practices attest to the negative traits of some Filipinos - and other nationalities as well. It is by knowing these unscrupulous trade practices that we are forewarned. "To be forewarned is to be forearmed."

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Cicada heralds the coming of amihan (monsoon)

Dr Abe V Rotor
Annual cicada (Tibicens sp).  Females are
attracted  by the singing of the male (topmost).

It's cicada season, the trees singing in strange shrilling music,
     if you call it music at all;
and you don't know which tree, and what part of it, a melody
    flows, though you know it's male's call.
ventriloquy, it's nature's gift of survival to this noisy creature,
     else traced down while having fun
calling the females mesmerized by the best singer - a Caruso
     among them, to be the lucky one.

once swooned, mating lasts long for there is no other time

    again and life to both is brief; 
the female after laying her eggs in the twigs of trees soon dies,
    while the male loses his gift. 
the twigs fall off to the ground as the eggs hatch into nymphs,
     burrow into the soil their home
for the whole year, emerging in the next spring or monsoon 
     out from their living tomb..   
But if in the air a distinct shrill, loud and sonorous, is heard 
    it must be their 17-year kin; 
Born in 1996, they lived incognito in the soil while the world
    moved fast as it had never been;
Or their 15-year cousin, also emerging in the same season,
    unconcerned, unaware  
A life shorter than Rip van Winkle's, blind of the computer age  -
     and would all these cicadas care?

The annual cicada is the most common species (Order Homoptera) in the world emerging in May or June in the tropics.  The 17-year old is among the longest living species of insect, though it spends practically its whole life in the soil as nymph feeding on the roots of plants. There seems to be only one reason why they emerge, live for a few days and die – mating and egg-laying so as to carry on the species. This is also true with the 13- and 15-year old cicada.  It is the annual cicada that is popular in the Philippines.  We have very little study on the other species which are found mainly in the North-Eastern states of the US. This year is swarming time of cicadas in the US, which include the Magicicadas (17- 13- and 15-year olds). Some 30 billion cicada will emerge from the ground.  Imagine the total sound produced by the males which comprise half of the swarm. ~