Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Kaleidoscope in Nature

Kaleidoscope in Nature  
Painting and Poem by Dr Abe V Rotor

Kaleidoscope in Nature in acrylic (20" x 24") AVR 2015

A world of colors in splendor and grandeur ,
in magnificence and glory;
the mountains in summer, the trees in autumn;
the sky at sunset over the sea.

Undulating hills, meandering rivers,
flowing down through the mist;
the valley wakes up to the magic of sunrise,
   in living colors that never cease.

Coral reefs, counterpart of gardens on land,
 untouched this submarine park
in luxurious colors and hues in the day,
hauntingly glow in the dark.  

The rainbow grows in the sky with dreams,
romance in the air in colors divine
for a lovely pair bound by love and care,
with nature's beauty they enshrine. ~


Sunday, December 25, 2016

When Stars Come Down to Earth

Photos and Poem by Abe V Rotor
Acknowledgment: Ateneo de Manila University Christmas lantern display


Compact Disc Star

Plastic Flower Star

Star of Yesteryear

Micro Components Star

Puppet Star

Wish upon a star come true in technology;
at home, on the street, on the campus too.
in cafes and malls, shining all around freely,
from high rise, over the metropolis's view.

Wish upon a star come true in greed and thirst,
dying in embers when failed and gone;
in bold discoveries even probing the universe
to cinders before man's plan has began.

Wish upon a star come true only in dream,
up, up in the sky, calling, smiling,
and in the pure and stout heart its realm,
always shining, leading those deserving. ~

Monday, December 19, 2016

A valley of peace and bounty

Not a valley of lament, of sorrowful state,
and never to surrender to death;
it all depends who makes life to such fate,
believing to his last breath. 


Wall Mural by Dr Abe V Rotor 

A valley of peace and bounty,  AVR

Let time stand still in these lovely hills
By the gentle streams and rivulets;
Let the breeze comb the green slopes,
And sing with the hills and rocky cliffs;

The birds fly over the meandering brook
And come to rest from across the bay;
Let the wild call the language of the free,
And signal the coming of night and day.


Where children from TV and mall 
Mingle with creatures big and small,
Discover the wonderful world of nature 
Away from toys and school. 
 
Here Beethoven composed a lovely song ,
And Schumann added a poetic flair;
Rustic indeed is Amorsolo’s version
Of this hidden valley fair.

Here by the pond Henry Thoreau
wrote a treatise, Man and Nature;
Here Schumacher praised the small,
Small, he said, is beautiful.

Here is respite, here is retreat,
Where the sky and hills ever meet;
Here’s life far, far from the busy lane,
A resort for tired souls and feet.

If life has not been lived well enough
And freedom like a genie chained;
Take it from Milton in his blindness,
He saw a Paradise regained.

And here as in our ancestor’s time
Lies an Eden, lofty yet sublime,
Where there is no need of calendar
To mark the passing of time.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Reviving Lola Basyang: Stories for Children by Severino Reyes a.k.a Lola Basyang


Compiled and Edited by Dr Abe V Rotor 
Living with Nature - School on Blog

Acknowledgment: To all sources of information I used in this educational blog, including the movie producers of Lola Basyang stories, magazine and Klasiks publishers, Ballet Manila and all its performers, book publishers and distributors, the Internet, family and friends of the greatest Filipino storyteller for children of all times, and the University of Santo Tomas where he graduated a long time ago. I was told he finished a degree in Philosophy and Letters. 


There is one very extraordinary lesson about the storyteller which should inspire his audience, and particularly writers like me, and that is, there is nothing too late to achieve something valuable: Mang Binoy as he was fondly called, wrote the first of his four hundred children's stories at the age of seventy-five.  It inspires us all for an old man to talk the language of children and make them real men and women, courageous and happy to face the world where fantasy makes reality not only bearable but kind and fulfilling.  

I invite my readers to revive the good tradition of Lola Basyang amidst conflicting values that make children difficult to raise. It is tradition I know to be the best alternative to too much exposure to today's living conditions, what with all the computers and malls, and too much expectations we demand from our children.  Let them be in their own sweet time.  Knowledge is also learned in leisure and quiet, in sitting by the fireplace listening to a Lola Basyang, when the roads turn rough, so with the tides of life. Be children like the children in Lola Basyang's time.  




 Lola Basyang stories were translated into Tagalog Komiks which
became popular among the masses in sixties and seventies.

Popularly known as Mang Binoy, Don Severino Reyes, was also the co-founder and editor of the Liwayway in 1923. The very first years of the Liwayway was a struggle, and there was scarcity of literature to include in its contents, so Mang Binoy created the "Mga Kuwento ni Lola Basyang" in 1925 as filler. He did not sign it with his name though because he thought it was unethical, while still serving as editor of the magazine.

And so Mang Binoy used the byline "Lola Basyang" after a friend's neighbor named Gervacia Guzman de Zamora, who was known as "Tandang Basyang". It was from her where Mang Binoy took the inspiration to create"Lola Basyang".

In real life, Tandang Basyang was described as an old bespectacled woman in baro't saya, seated in her famous silyon, and reading her timeless classic stories - dug from her ancient baul (wooden chest) - to her fascinated grandchildren.  The grandchildren were more than eager to hear stories about faraway castles, heroic princes, lovely maidens, giants, and elves. Always, at the end of each story is a moral lesson to be learned.

The first story of the "Mga Kuwento ni Lola Basyang" was entitled ang "Plautin ni Periking", a wonderful story of a kindhearted kid who has a magical flute and flying carpet. It was the first of the more than 400 "Lola Basyang" stories to have graced the Liwayway, and only discontinued because of Mang Binoy's death in 1942. (Wikipedia)
    
In 2006, Anvil Publishing, Inc. relaunched  a series of picture books based on the tales written by Severino Reyes and retold by Christine Bellen. All books were illustrated by Frances C. Alcaraz, Albert Gamos, Elbert Or, Liza A. Flores and Ruben de Jesus. The 11 picture books are:

·         Ang Alamat ng Lamok (The Legend of the Mosquito), which was originally titled Ang Parusa ng Higante (The Giant's Curse)
·         Ang Mahiwagang Biyulin (Magical Violin)
·         Ang Sultan Saif (Saif the Sultan)
·         Parusa ng Duwende (The Dwarf's Curse)
·         Plautin ni Periking (Periking's Flute)
·         Rosa Mistica (Mystical Rose)
·         Ang Binibining Tumalo sa Hari (The Maiden Who Defeated a King)
·         Ang Prinsipe ng mga Ibon (Prince of Birds)
·         Ang Prinsipeng Duwag (The Cowardly Prince)
·         Si Pandakotyong
·         Ang Prinsipeng Mahaba ang Ilong (The Prince with the Long Nose)

Mga Kuwento ni Lola Basyang (TV series)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Season 1
·         Ang Mahiwagang Kuba (The Enchanted Hunchback)
·         Ang Prinsipeng Unggoy (The Monkey Prince)
·         Ang Parusa ng Duwende (The Dwarf's Punishment)
·         Ang Binibining Tumalo sa Mahal Datu (The Maiden Who Defeated the Datu)
·         Ang Mahiwagang Biyulin (The Enchanted Violin)
·         Ang Prinsipeng Mahaba ang Ilong (The Prince with A Long Nose)
·         Ang Sumpa ng Higanteng si Amok (The Curse of Amok the Giant)
·         Ang Walong Bulag (The Eight Blind Men)
·         Ang Prinsipeng Duwag (The Cowardly Prince)
·         Akong Ikit
·         Maria Alimango
·         Si Sultan Saif (Sultan Saif)
·         Ang Prinsipe ng mga Ibon (The Prince of the Birds)

Season 2
·         Si Pedrong Walang Takot (Fearless Pedro)
·         Ang Gwapong Sastre (The Handsome Tailor)
·         Ang Palasyo ng mga Duwende (The Palace of the Dwarves)
·         Ang Kapatid ng Tatlong Maria (The Brother of the Three Marias)
·         Ang Hukbo ni Padre Pedro (The Legion of Father Pedro)
·         Ang Plautin ni Periking (The Flute of Periking)
·         Anting-anting (The Amulet)
·         Ang Mahiwagang Balabal (The Enchanted Cape)
·         Ang Dragon sa Ilog Lingwa (The Dragon in Lingwa River)
·         Pandakotyong
·         Ang Kastilyong Bakal (The Iron-made Palace)
·         Prinsesang Kalbo (The Bald Princess)
·         Ang Pitong Hilo (The Seven Idiots)



Landscape Paintings and Poetry of Dr Abe V Rotor

  
Rivulets to streams comb the hills, AVR

 The beginning of the great Nile lies somewhere
on the glaciers of Mount Kilimanjaro;
Hemingway wrote in the like of an idea untold, 
 emerging, converging, to be true.
 
Downstream, AVR 

I was lost in the middle of a forest 
hidden by fog to its crest;
trees blocked my path, my sight;
t'was a stream I owe my life.


Cliff, AVR

A watchtower of my ancestors I revisited; 
once green and sacred,
now bare and empty, I found it instead,
a history of the dead.  

Angling and loafing, AVR

The fish I caught may be small and few,  
 but I am happiest though;
more than the flowing stream that I knew
many great ideas grew. 
Sitting Boat AVR

Wonder the fisherman at sundown,
his boat  by the bay sits;
to sea the whole night he's bound,  
while the world sleeps
Rainforest sentinel AVR

Stately and colorful like a king,
the cockatoo is lord of the realm;
greet and he will echo your call,
and will follow to the screen.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

My Pet Salamander

Dr Abe V Rotor 

Salamander 

Miniature in size to the crocodile,
yet all the features my pet carries;
save fear and ruthlessness;  
I am between the world of beasts. 

The Wonder of Papaya


Papaya contains enzymes that help prevent oxidization of cholesterol which helps to prevent heart attacks and because it is rich in fiber it helps to lower blood cholesterol levels.
Dr Abe V Rotor 
 
Giant papaya, 3.5 kg,brings joy to the dining table.  At Home, QC 


1. Papaya is rich in fiber and lowers cholesterol levels, it helps prevent prevent heart-attacks.

2. The antioxidants in papaya help in controlling premature ageing.

3. The seeds of papaya expel intestinal worms and parasites.

4. Papaya helps in preventing constipation and aids in digestion.

5. Papain dissolves dead cells, giving fresh and glowing skin as a result.

6. It helps cure skin infections and wounds that don’t heal quickly.

7. Papain is a digestive enzyme that helps in natural digestion.

8. It is a good food for those who want to lose some weight.

9. It helps cure nausea and morning sickness suffered by of pregnant women.

10. Contains anti-inflammatory enzymes relieve pain from arthritis, edema and osteoporosis.

11. It possesses anti-cancerous properties that can help in preventing cancer

12. It is rich in Vitamin A and Vitamin C that boost the body’s immunity

13. It is made into shampoo to control dandruff.

14. Fresh papaya helps in controlling menstrual irregularities, and eases menstrual cramps.

15. Papaya juice helps in curing infections of the colon

16. It has anti-proliferative effects on the liver cancer cells, hence it slows down the growth of cancer cells of liver and helps in its cure.

17. The digestive enzyme in papaya (papain) help in natural digestion thus helps to prevent constipation and aid food digestion.

18. It is high in nutritional value and low in calories making it ideal for those who want to lose weight.

19. Papaya is great for the skin and can be used as a face pack. It helps to open clogged pores, helps to get rid of acne

20. It is a whole fruit as it is loaded with most nutrients required in one’s balanced diet.

The nutritional value of papaya are (per 100 grams) 

  • Energy- 163 kJ
  • Sugars- 5.90 gram
  • Calories- 39 kcal
  • Dietary fiber- 1.8 gram
  • Fat- 0.14 gram
  • Carbohydrates- 9.81 gram
  • Vitamin A- 328 micrograms (41%)
  • Vitamin B1- 0.04 milligram (3%)
  • Vitamin B2- 0.05 milligram (4%)
  • Vitamin B3- 0.338 milligram (2%)
  • Vitamin B6- 0.1 milligram (8%)
  • Vitamin B9- 38 milligram (10%)
  • Vitamin C- 61.8 milligram (74%)
  • Protein- 0.61 gram
  • Iron- 0.10 milligram (1%)
  • Calcium- 24 milligram (2%)
  • Phosphorus- 5 milligram (1%)
  • Potassium- 257 milligram (5%)
  • Magnesium- 10 milligram (3%)
  • Sodium-3 milligram
Acknowledgement: Data from Internet source

Our Deteriorating Environment - 20 Issues

Dr Abe V Rotor



We are destroying the Earth - our only spaceship in the universe. Forest Fire painting by AVR

1.Our changing environment breeds unimaginable ailments and diseases. Nature-Man Balance, the key to good health is being threatened.

2. The Good Life is shifting with the transformation of agricultural to industrial
economy.

3. The Good Life is synonymous to Affluence. People want goods and services beyond what they actually need. It is want that leads to luxury - to waste.

4. The world’s population is 6.8 billion. Another billion will be added in less
than 10 years. Runaway population in the mother of human miseries.

5. The proliferation of cities, growth of cities to metropolises and megapolises, each with 10 to 20 million people ensconced in cramped condition. Cities breed marginal
communities

“People, people everywhere, but not a kindred to keep," in condominiums, malls, schools, churches, parks, sharing common lifestyles and socio-economic conditions. They are predisposed to common health problems and vulnerabilities from brownouts to food and fuel shortage, force majeure notwithstanding. Poor health and crowded living conditions.

6. Loss of Natural Environment – loss of productivity, loss of farmlands, and wildlife Destruction of ecosystems - lakes, rivers, forests, coral reefs, grasslands, etc. The destruction of ecosystems is irreversible.

7. Species are threatened; many are now extinct, narrowing down the range of biodiversity. Human health depends largely on a complex interrelationship of the living world. No place on earth is safe from human abuse. Coral Reef – bastion of terrestrial and marine life, is now in distress. Atolls, a world within a world of marine and terrestrial organisms are threatened by global warming, pollution and exploitation. We have studied not even 10 % of the world’s species.

8. Wildlife shares with our homes, backyards and farms, transmitting deadly diseases like SARS, HIV-AIDS, Mad-Cow, FMD, Ebola, and Bird Flu which can now infect humans.

9. “Good Life” cradles and nurses obesity and other overweight conditions. Millions of people around the world are obese, 1 out of 5 in the US.

10. Global warming stirs climatic disturbance, changes the face of the earth.

11. Globalization packages the major aspects of human activity – trade, commerce, industry, agriculture, the arts, education, science and technology, politics, religion and the like.

12. Mélange of races - pooling of genes through inter-racial and inter-cultural marriages produces various mixed lines or “mestizos” - Eurasian, Afro-Asian, Afro-American, Amerasian, and the like. Native genes provide resistance to diseases, adverse conditions of the environment. But will this advantage hold on even as the native gene pools are thinned out?

13. Modern medicine is responsible in reducing mortality and increasing longevity. It has also preserved genetically linked abnormalities; it cradles senility related ailments. It made possible the exchange of organs and tissues through transplantation, and soon tissue cloning. It has changed Evolution that is supposed to cull out the unfit and misfits. Man has Darwinism in his hands.

14. First breakthrough in science - splitting of the atom - gave man the atomic bomb before the nuclear reactor was developed.

15. The second scientific breakthrough – Microchip to Internet “shrunk the world into a village.”

16. The third breakthrough in science, Genetic Engineering, changed our concept of life - and life forms. It has enabled man to tinker with life itself. It gave rise to revolutionary industries Examples: In vitro fertilization, surrogate motherhood, Human Genome Project (HGP or gene mapping), multiple childbirth, post-menopausal childbirth, DNA mapping, etc. It ushered the birth of the prototype human robot – pampered, he lives a very dependent life.

17. Genetic Engineering gave rise to Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) and Gene Therapy. Biological Warfare today is more terrifying. Gene Therapy prevents gene-link diseases even before they are expressed; it has revolutionized medicine.

More and more countries are banning GMO crops and animals through legislative measures and conservation programs, including protection against “biopiracy” All over the world the battlecry is NO TO GMO! In the Philippines Bohol is the first province to launch a GMO-Free Ordinance

18. Today’s Green Revolution opened up non-conventional frontiers of production – mariculture, desalination, desert farming, swamp reclamation, aerophonics (rooftop farming), hydroponics, urban farming, organic farming, Green Revolution adapts genetic engineering to produce GMOs and Frankenfoods.

We may not be aware, but many of us are eating genetically modified food (GMF or Frankenfood) everyday – meat, milk, chicken, corn, potato and soya products, and the like mainly from the US.

Many food additives and adjuncts are harmful, from salitre in longganiza to pesticide residue in fruits and vegetables, aspartame in fruit juice to MSG in noodles, formalin in fish to dioxin in plastics, bromate in bread to sulfite in sugar, antibiotic residue in meat to radiation in milk.

Post Harvest Technology. is critical to Food Production. PHT bridges production and consumption, farm and market, thus the proliferation of processed goods, supermarket, fast food chains, food irradiation, ready-to-eat packs, etc.

Aeroponics is farming on top of buildings. In Japan it is compulsory to maintain at least 50% of the area of rooftops of buildings as a garden or farm.
• Multi-storey farming designed like skycrapers has been introduced in big cities in the US, Japan and Europe. It is called vertical farming.

19. Exploration into the depth of the sea and expanse of the Solar System. We probe the ocean. We build cities in space - the Skylab. Soon we will live outside of the confines of our planet earth. Now we aim at conquering another planet, another Solar System to assure continuity of mankind after the demise of the earth.

20. Regional and International Cooperation: EU, ASEAN, APEC, CGIAR, CRISAT, WTO, WHO, UNEP, WFO, FAO, Fighting diseases globally – HIV-AIDS, SARS, Dengue, Hepatitis, Bird Flu, and now swine Flu. ~


Cumulus cloud hovers over parched field


Dr Abe V Rotor



Cumulus cloud hovers over parched field. 

What promise has the sky to bring,
if cumulus cloud in the morning,
into wispy feathers die,
leaving the land bone dry? 

What promise has the land to the sky,
if  the first raindrops to vie, 
into a shroud of mist hang
and die with the rising sun?.    

What promise has rain to the earth
if flood by its very birth
destroys what it builds,
leaving but ruined fields.  

Promise a treaty in a duo, indeed,
yet paled by mutual bid;
and long before it's resolved
the world has grown old. ~   


Rolling Billboards: An ethico-moral question of road safety and courtesy




Ban rolling billboards!

Firewood and Charcoal - World's most popular fuels


Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature - School on Blog 
 Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid with Ms Melly C Tenorio 
738 KHz DZRB AM Band, 8-9 evening class, Monday to Friday

Firewood and charcoal are still the most popular fuels for cooking in the world. In fact they constitute at least 80 percent of rural households, and even in urban centers, they are preferred for specific uses such as pugon in making pandesal, and barbecue and broiling and roasting. Alternative sources of fuel have lately gained attention in the light of dwindling supply of fossil fuel and increasing cost of electricity, among them is charcoal.

For my students in Earth Science with Ecology: This is your assignment. I also invite followers and viewers of this blog. Write down the advantages of using charcoal. On the opposite side of your paper, write down its disadvantages. Which one weighs more? Write an essay of around 200 words, "To use or not to use charcoal, that's the question."



Truckloads of charcoal at Commonwealth Market, Manggahan QC.

Charcoal is the black residue consisting of impure carbon obtained by removing water and other volatile constituents from animal and vegetation substances. Charcoal is usually produced by slow pyrolysis, the heating of wood, sugar, bone char, or other substances in the absence of oxygen. The resulting soft, brittle, lightweight, black, porous material resembles coal and is 50% to 95% carbon with the remainder consisting of volatile chemicals and ash.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

I asked God for more


Dr Abe V Rotor

 
Aftermath: where there was once a forest

Virgin Forest: only 3 percent is left in the Philippines.

Requiem to a forest, Brooke's Point Palawan

I asked God for food, clothing and shelter
and He showered me
these necessities I can not live without -
they are the Earth's bounty;
I settled down on fertile hills and valleys
and multiplied freely.

I asked God for power to boost my strength,
and He gave me energy;
I leveled the mountains, dammed the rivers
and conquered the sea;
raped the forests, prairies, lakes and estuaries,
a world I wanted to be.

I asked God if I can be god, too, all knowing
with my technology;
broke the sacred code of life and of matter,
changed the Great Story;
annihilated life unfit in my own design,
and set my own destiny. 

I asked God if He is but a creation of the mind,
and rose from my knee;
probed space, rounding up the universe,
aiming at immortality;
bolder than ever, searching for another home,
and wanting to be free. ~

The Garden - Living World in Microcosm


Nature keeps a dynamic order where unity resides in diversity.
Dr Abe V Rotor

We will never understand this mysterious order. Perhaps it is better not to probe it at all - for it is our deep faith in the Maker of that garden that we earn our place there to live in harmony with all creatures.



A view of the UST main building from the botanical garden
framed by a deciduous narra tree and climbing Phylodendron.


Century old dita (Alstonia scholaris) dominates the UST Botanical
Garden. It towers over the surrounding buidings on the campus.



“To see a world in a grain of sand,
And heaven in a wild flower;
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And Eternity in an hour.”


- William Blake, Auguries of Innocence

This verse captures the essence of the title of this article. It condenses the universe into its elemental symbols from which we take a full view of the world we live in. It reduces the complexities and vastness of both non- living and the living world into a microcosm that is complete in itself- a plantilla of creation all contained in the hand and experienced within a lifetime.

Lucky is the person who realizes this singular gift. Through this microcosm he can traverse the breadth of time and space, live with the myriad of life forms, and most important, he is blessed by the Great Maker to be part of the wonders and mysteries of creation.

So deep is the faith of the poet, William Blake, who wrote this verse more than two hundred years ago. Then, there were no computers, no television, no spacecraft and satellites. Could it be that in the absence of these modern tools that the mind could penetrate deeper, imagination soar higher, and faith stronger?


A fine arts student finds solace and subject at the UST Botanical Garden.


A. Garden as a Microcosm

The garden could have been the place where Newton formulated the laws of gravity and magnetism when an apple fell on his head, where Darwin developed his theory of evolution through natural selection, where Henry Fabre discovered organization intelligence among insects over and above mere instinctive behavior. It was in a garden where Claude Monet painted his masterpieces, capturing the essence of the natural beauty of wild flowers, such as the Nymphaea and the lotus.

We may not expect inventions and discoveries, and master’s arts, to creep into the mind of whoever spends time in a garden, or any similar microcosm of nature for that matter. But we are most certain that he finds enlightenment through the knowledge and experience he gains, and with these he develops in himself the discipline to discover new things, and to acquire values that help him live at peace with nature and himself. It is in keeping close to nature that we better understand the ways of the world in which we live.

When I conducted a lecture- demonstration at the UST Botanical Garden before my students, I was in effect simulating the scenario. Here I showed them the different parts of the Garden, starting with the basics such as, “ What makes a Garden?” I explained the composition of a typical rainforest ecosystem. The garden is precisely a pocket representation of this ecosystem, and, by dissecting it, we were in effect looking at its profile.


B. Deciduous Nature of Trees in Tropical Rainforest


Deciduous umbrella tree or talisay (Terminalia catappa) displays the color of autumn.

I gathered my students under a narra tree- Pterocarpus indicus. Trees belonging to the Dipterocrap group of family Legumonosae dominate the canopy of the tropical rainforest. Their leaves fall off completely at certain season so that the trees are bare for some time, thus allowing sunlight to penetrate and nourish the understory trees, ground plants, lianas and epiphytes.

The floor becomes covered with litter that nourishes insect, earthworms, fungi and bacteria. These decompose the leaves into humus that ultimately becomes soil while supplying nutrients to different plants in the forest. Because of the high precipitation throughout the year, the forest becomes lush and dense. The multi- story nature of the tropical rainforest makes it the richest biome in both diversity of species and number of inhabitants.


C. Gymnosperms and Angiosperms

These are cone-bearing and lowering plants, respectively. Gymnosperms are exemplified by pine cypress, and arios. I allowed my student to touch and examine these plants. Then they turned to examine the angiosperms that predominate the campus. Phylogeny shows that flowering plants are more “ modern “, which means that through evolution, the gymnosperms are older, and later gave way to the evolving angiosperms. Except in colder countries and in the taiga biome, the natural vegetation of forests is composed of flowering plants. The pine, cypress and cycad are the most common representatives of the cone-bearing plants in tropical gardens.

The oldest living organisms belong to gymnosperm - the Redwoods of California. And the Bristle Cone which is believed to be even older. Many of these trees were already bearing cones during the time of Christ. I have seen one in central Taiwan, estimated to have been two thousand years old, before it was struck by lightning. It still attracts many tourists who wonder at its massive size. One would associate it with legend or cartoon if he hadn't gone to the place. massive it is even after death. It takes


D. False flowers

Nature’s sweet lies have a purpose. The brightly colored leaves of poinsettia and bougainvillea attract insect pollinators and enhance fertilization and subsequent fruit and setting and seed formation, thus ensuring the perpetuation species how many plants are benefited by this special make-up.

The truth is that most flowering plant has designed attraction mechanisms. In general, flowers are made attractive, although the attraction that we know may not be the same as how insects perceive it. We know red as red, yellow as yellow, and so forth. But insect have different perception of colors. Nonetheless, the basic purpose is what counts - and is almost always achieved. Other means that guarantee pollination-fertilization are sometimes needed. For example insect are attracted by the obnoxious odor of Lantana camara, pollinating it in effect.


Pongapong flower is pollinated by flies

This is also in the cases of pongapong (Amorphophallus campanolatus), kalumpang or bangar tree - and, of course, the Rafflesia, the world largest flower that emits putrefying odor. They have one thing in common: they attract flies to pollinate their flowers.


E. Flowering Bamboo- Prophet of Doom

The old folks used to tell us, “Beware when the bamboo flowers.”

What is the connection of a flowering bamboo to a force majeure, such as drought? Old folks use it as a barometer of El Niño. Climatologists around the globe predict the coming of this phenomenon by observing plants, among them the flowering of bamboos. The cycle is ten years or closer. El Niño is accompanied by poor harvest, forest fires, death of livestock, spread of certain diseases that effect man, animals and plants.

Biologically, organisms subjected to stress tend to reach the reproductive stage earlier than usual. In fact, certain insects even skip molting just to be able to metamorphose into an adult and carry out reproduction while the environment allows. It is nature’s way of insuring the perpetuation of the species at the expense of the organism, so to speak.

So, when a bamboo flowers it ultimately dies. This is why the panda, which derives its food mainly on bamboo suffers. There are bamboo species that flower after fifty years or so, then die.

There are other plants that signal the coming of drought. One is kapok. A fruit-laden kapok tree means poor against harvest ahead. Even the sturdy kamagong or mabolo is stressed by drought. While it stops producing new leaves, the crown remains intact. This could be the reason why this tree produces the hardest wood. In the case of the narra, and mango, they show no apparent stress signal. It is because they have sturdy, long taproots that penetrate deep into the ground and into the bedrock. Old folks, however, warn us that no plant is spared from the worst kind of drought.


E. Trees are Sound and Wind Barriers

Have you noticed how the sound of traffic dies down in the dense vegetation of trees? Loud voice is muffled, blarring sound reduced to tolerable decibels, and music is more soothing to the ear. The trees at UST and in the Sunken Garden of UP Diliman are definitely for this purpose, in addition to being buffers against strong wind.
Windbreaks help reduce wind pressure. I saw a 10- row windbreak of different species of trees along the highway to the Beijing airport. Another windbreak made of agoho (Casuarina equisitifolia) is found along the coastline of Kaohsiung in Southern Taiwan which similarly serves to buffer winter wind. Woodland hedges along field boundaries in Europe serve the same purpose. The Indian tree is an effective sound breaker because of its thick, cone- shaped crown. It has also another advantage, that is, it grows tall and straight so that several trees can be planted close to each other.These man-made forests are a source of many valuable products and serve as a natural habitat of wildlife. It is no wonder why the Hanging Garden of Babylon was one of the wonders of the ancient World.



F. Hantik Ants - Biological Control Agents


Nest of hantik ants (Oecephalla smaragdina)

My students studied the nests of the giant green tree ants or hantik. The older nests were built on the upper branches of alagao, while a newly built nest was on a smaller tree Ficus pseudopalma. It is not easy to trace which nest an individual ant belongs to, but each colony has a specific chemical signal called pheromone. This prevents members from fighting, and allows the colonies to co-exist with defined territories assigned to each colony. Scientist calls this territory as niche.


Hantik ants are notorious killers of other insects. This could be the reason I have not seen any need to spray chemicals. Hantik ants feed on grubs, caterpillars, aphids, scale insects, and many others. They carry off morsels to their nest to feed their larvae. They scare organisms several times bigger than themselves. In fact, one who happens to get close to their domain is likely to get a bite or two, which is warning enough. But they do not hesitate to attack once they are threatened or disturbed.

I demonstrated the ferocity of the hantik by crushing a member of that colony. Sooner than I expected other members came to the rescue and pheromone was immediately put to use in the coordination and division of work, and in the strategy of war.


G. Common Medicinal Plants

A botanical garden is not complete without a good collection of medicinal plants. Here I showed to my students examples of medicinal plants with their uses. UST Botanical Garden was once the pharmaceutical garden of the university founded by Fr. Rodriguez a century ago. It is one of the oldest phamaceotical gardens in the world.

Here are typical examples of medicinal plants found in backyard and home gardens.

1. Lagundi - fever and flu
2. Pandakaki- minor wound or cuts
3. Oregano - sore throat and cough
4. Ikmo - mouth wash
5. Mountain tea - health drink
6. Guava - body odor and skin diseases
7. Pandan - beverage and food additive
8. Alagao - fever and cold
9. Avocado - diarrhea
10. Banana - kidney ailment


H. Poisonous Plants

I showed my students poisonous plants growing in the garden. But why do we have poisonous plants around?

There are plants which produce poisonous substances that are valuable as pesticide. Examples are neem tree, derris and makabuhay. These have been proved to be effective in controlling certain pests and disease of plants.

Botanical pesticides are generally safer than chemical pesticides. Studies have shown that neem (Azideracta asiatica), a native of India, has long been used as insecticide. It is widely used on field crops and against domestic pest like cockroaches, mosquitoes and bedbugs in many countries including the Philippines.

Makabuhay (Tinospora rhumpiana) is effective against a wide range of rice pests and the application is very simple. Fresh stems and leaves are finely chopped and directly broadcast in lowland ricefields. The active principle is also very effective on golden kohol, a major pest of rice of the Philippines.

Derris is the source of commercial rotenone insecticide. The concentration of its poison is in its enlarged roots.

Two poisonous plants grow in the garden. In fact they grow wild and have been persistent for a number of years now. Castor bean contains a poisonous substance - ricinin - for which reason castor oil is no longer prescribed as laxative. The other plant is Jatorpha curcas or tubang bakod. A few years ago a group of students from a Quezon City High School ate the seeds which taste like peanut. They were taken to the hospital for treatment.


Bangbangsit (Lantana camara) , insect repellant
------------------------------------A garden harbors the inquisitive mind, the seeking heart, the longing spirit. It is a place of peace and quiet. Here the seasons of the year are best observed. As an miniature ecosystem it defines basic relationships between and among living things, including man. Never is a garden idle, nothing is waste, and time is never prodding yet never dull.
-------------------------------------------------


I. Conclusion

The microcosm is far from complete. But it is the framework that is important, like building replica of a dinosaur from pieces of recovered fossil. Knowledge is like that. It starts with principles, but, before that, one must be inspired and motivated to learn. There is no true learning unless one labors for it to some degree. Even frustration that may threaten learning itself, could be, at the end, a motivating factor, a challenge and test of what one is really made of. The Great Maker just gave us the Plantilla from which we follow the way to learning and understanding. ~


Bust of the founder of the former UST Pharmacy Garden, Fr. Rodriguez.

Symbols of the UST Pharmacy Garden. Both
monuments grace the garden's central area.