Sunday, October 16, 2016

Chicken Soup is Best for Convalescent; If Dust Gets into Your Eyes, Blow Your Nose

“Living with Nature in Our Times cautions us while walking on the busy lane of change. It reminds us to retrain our senses and to hone our sensitivity to better appreciate the best life can offer. Only when we are close to nature are we able to truly appreciate its exquisitiveness; only when we heed the old folks’ good advice can we truly appreciate the beauty and bounty of nature.”
Abercio V. Rotor, Ph.D.
Author, Living with Nature in Our Times
Response Book Launching
August 30, 2007

      Some time ago a good old friend asked me, Abe  how can you go back to nature? Are you going back to the farm.  Don’t you like to live anymore in the city? Are you selling your car.
 Author was presented the first copy of his book from UST Secretary General and Vice Rector.  
     Yes, I answered.  No not my car, that’s my only car. Yes, I can live with nature. Oo nga naman.  We talked and talked, until we were back in our childhood – I mean, childhood.  This was when my father got sick.  And this is how I came to learn that chicken soup is good for one who is convalescing, yon’ galing sa sakit - nagpapagaling
     True. Totoo. Chicken soup is good for the convalescent. However, there are specifications of the kind of chicken to be served. First, it must be native chicken. Karurayan is the term in Ilocos for a pure white native chicken which does not bear any trace of color on its feathers. It is preferably a female, dumalaga or fryer, meaning it has not yet reached reproductive stage. It is neither fat nor thin. Usually the herbolario chooses one from recommended specimens. He then instructs and supervises the household in the way the karurayan is dressed, cut, cooked into tinola (stew) and served to the convalescent. He does not ask for any fee for his services, but then he takes home one or two of the specimens that did not pass the specifications. (The more affluent the patient is, the more chicken the herbolario takes.) 

     Chicken soup as a convalescent food is recognized in many parts of the world. Because of its popularity, chicken soup has become associated with healing, not only of the body – but the soul as well. In fact there is a series of books under the common title Chicken Soup -  for the Woman’s Soul, Surviving Soul, Mother’s Soul, Unsinkable Soul, Writer’s Soul, etc. Of course, this is exaggeration, but nonetheless it strengthens our faith that this lowly descendant of the dinosaurs that once walked the earth of its panacean magic. 

     Try chicken soup to perk you up in these trying times - with all the rush, tension, various ailments, and expensive medication. Ika nga, bawal ang magkasakit.   
    But first, be sure your chicken does not carry antibiotic residues, and should not be one that is genetically engineered (GMO). By the way, I was a participant in the rituals made by this good herbolario.  I was then a farmhand and I was tasked to get the karurayan.  Our flock failed the test, but I found two dumalaga with few colored feathers. I plucked out the colored feathers and presented the birds to Ka Pepito.  They passed the criteria. Three days after I asked my convalescing dad how he was doing. “I’m fine, I’m fine, now.” He assured me with a big smile. 

    Writing a book such as this needs advice.  This time I needed one outside of the farm, and away from the village.  There’s no one else to my mind but someone in the academe. I went to Dr. Lilian Sison, dean of the Graduate School of UST. Dean Sison went over the manuscript and after a few days, I went to see her again. In the message for the book she said the most beautiful things that encouraged me a lot to continue writing about Nature. She said, and I quote.

Living with Nature in Our Times can be lumped up into one word - awareness.  For today’s trend in progress and development, spurred by science and technology, and spun by globalization cannot undermine the need to answer a basic question, “Quo vadis?” (Where are you going?) To where are we headed as a civilization?”

Dean Sison continued, “Living with Nature in Our Times gives us practical knowledge that elevates our awareness on three levels: that of our perception of the things around us by our senses, that of our perception of the inner stimuli that affect not only our physical being but our psyche and emotion, and the third which occupies the highest level of awareness – that which is beyond mere perception because it requires us to imagine, plan and anticipate the future.

“Living with Nature in Our Times cautions us while walking on the busy lane of change.  It reminds us to retrain our senses and to hone our sensitivity to better appreciate the best life can offer.  Only when we are close to nature are we able to truly appreciate its exquisitiveness; only when we heed the old folks’ good advice can we truly appreciate the beauty and bounty of nature.”

I could say no more, overwhelmed by Dean Sison’s message.  Then I realized.  Mataas nga ang expectation ng reader sa libro ko!  Did I write enough?  Am I understood as much as the listeners to my radio program, Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid do? Baka naman hindi ako maintindihan ni Ka Pepe at si Aling Maria.

 Dr Rotor and family: wife Cecille, Leo Carlo, Mac and Anna.

It was a weekend and it was the tail end the monsoon – the best time to be on the farm.   I did the final editing of the book here – the farm where I grew up, where I got my stories, experiences I still remember, in a small town where I used to listen to old folks.  This time I am one of them.

 This same old good friend I told you earlier came to visit me. I took him out into the fields.  It was harvest time and a time of festivities of sort in the fields. The maya birds came by hordes, A gust of wind blew and my friend winked, apparently napuwing.  And he started rubbing his eyes.  Huwag, I said. Just blow you nose.  He laughed. 

“Just do it.” I said. He did once, twice, each for each nose, covering the other. Harder. He looked amazed.  The puwing is gone!  Success!  (You can try it later.)

My friend who grew up in the city complained again. “My tooth aches,” It’s  lunchtime.  Sayang.  We were going to have lunch, picnic style beside a farm pond we call alug.

Sumasakit din ang aking ngipin,” I said, … “na hindi ko matikman lahat nito,” savoring the aroma of the food being cooked.  It’s like the proverbial grandmother’s pie.

“Hindi ako nagbibiro,” He said. 

 “Okay press the base of your jaw, like this,” and demonstrated how.  Open your mouth and feel the attachment of the jaw, it’s the hollow part. Press it long enough until the pain subsides.  He did it and held it there.

 “Okay ka na?”

 “Masakit pa rin.” 

 “Saan ba ang sumasakit?” Para akong dentista.

 “Doktor, nga si Dr. Rotor,” I heard a kindly old woman nearby.

 “Dito sa left.”  My friend opened his jaw. “Mali ang pinipisil mo, eh. Ang pinipisil mo as ang kanan mong jaw.”

A whole banana leaf was laid before us. We sat on the grass.  A tabo of water was passed on to each of us to wash his fingers before eating.  Then, like the old faithful Genie had arrived, we were partaking in a banquet no five-star hotel could match.

 There were hito, martiniko, broiled medium rare on uling, pesang dalag (mudfish stewed with green saba and a lot of tomato and onion, and kuhol with tanglad. Rice is newly harvested upland Milagrosa!  Miracle talaga sa bango at sarap. Everyone was quiet.  How could you with your mouth full? Now and then a dog would come from behind begging, licking.      

“How you eat this kuhol, my friend asked.  Ganito  lips-to-lips,” Matunog.  It tells your host you like the food very much. “Ayaw, eh” Pukpukin mo muna ang puit.”  Paano? Kumain ka lang. Then we had  ulang  (river crayfish). Hindi ba masakit kumagat yan?  He whispered. 

Hindi naman alimango yan, eh. At patay na.  Sigue kumain ka lang.”  

With or without toothache, we had our fill.

Masakit pa ba ?

Ow.. Ouch.. Ow..  This time tiyan naman niya ang sumasakit.

Oo nga naman.  Pag meron kang kaibigan na katulad nito. Either you want to live long or … forget him. 

Living with nature is fun, live life best – it’s more than The Good Life. It is Renaissance Part 2. It is Postmodern Renaissance. It is Living with Nature in Our Times.
x     x     x

Winner of the Gintong Aklat Award 2003 by the Book Publishers Association of the Philippines. The book has 30 chapters (189 pp),divided into four parts, a practical guide on how one can get closer to nature, the key to a healthy and happy life. Second printing, 2008.

"Once upon a time, nature was pristine, undefiled, and unspoiled. We used to live in a dreamlike world of tropical virgin forests, and purer hidden springs, calm ponds, and serene lakes with majestic purple mountains, crowned with canopied trees. That was when people took only what they needed, caught only what they ate, and lived only in constant touch with a provident earth." (excerpt from the Introduction by Dr Anselmo Set Cabigan, professor, St Paul University QC and former director of the National Food Authority)

A Sequel to the Living with Nature Handbook (312 pp), it was launched at the Philippine International Book Fair. It won the 2006 National Book Award by the National Book Development Board jointly with The Manila Book Circle and the National Commission for the Culture and the Arts. Published by UST Publishing House, the book has 35 chapters divided into four parts. The book can be aptly described in this verse.

"Nature shares her bounty in many ways:
He who works or he who prays,
Who patiently waits or gleefully plays;
He's worthy of the same grace."

Don’t Cut the Trees, Don’t is a collection of ecology poems and paintings of nature. The tree is taken to represent the environment. Each poem and each painting is like a leaf of a tree each revealing a little of the many marvels of this unique creation. Each poem and each painting is a plea on behalf of this new vision and of this new ethics. Concealed behind each poem and each painting is the spirit of the author, Dr. Abercio V. Rotor, a man whose love and passion for the environment is well-known. (Armando F. De Jesus, Ph.D., Dean, UST Faculty of Arts and Letters)

It is a substantial collection, departing from the usual stale air of solitariness and narcissism which permeates most poetry today. It is therefore a welcome contribution to Philippine poetry in Engish, livened by visuals that add color to the poetic images.

The oeuvre is not only pleasurable because of this. The poetic ability of the poet himself enriches the whole exciting poetic experience, a blurring of the line separating man from the rest of the living creatures outside. Every poem indeed becomes “flowers in disguise” using the poet’s own words. (Ophelia A. Dimalanta, Ph.D. Director, Center for Creative Writing and Studies, UST)

Living with Folk Wisdom. Published by University of Santo Tomas, launched 2008 in the Manila International Book Fair, SMX Mall of Asia, 220 pp. "The book is a compendium of indigenous technical knowledge complemented with modern scientific thinking. The narratives offer an exploration into the world of ethno-science covering a wide range of practical interest from climate to agriculture; medicine to food and nutrition..: (Excerpt of Foreword by Dr Lilian J Sison, dean UST Graduate School).

Living with Nature in Our Times is a sequel to The Living with Nature Handbook published by the UST Publishing House in 2003. 
There are 35 chapters in this new volume grouped into four sections. Enjoying Nature’s Bounty has eleven chapters, which deal with such hobbies as Home Gardening, Landscaping and Hydroponics. The second section, Understanding Nature’s Ways, has nine chapters. Mystery of the Fig Wasp is a recent research, while The Mosquito is an update about this deadliest creature on earth. The third section, Conserving Our Natural Resources has seven chapters which include The 7Rs in Pollution Management, and Farming Peat Soil, a frontier of agriculture in the Philippines. The fourth and last section, Harmonious Living with Nature, has eight chapters which remind us of the importance of maintaining good relationship of man and nature.  Topics include Health and Values and Walking with Nature. 
Many of the articles in this book were taken from the lessons presented on Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People’s School-on-the-Air). This is in response to listeners requesting copies of the lessons. Like in the first book, Living with Nature in Our Times is distributed  by the publisher through popular outlets.
I would like to thank ad Veritatem, Ating Alamin Gazette and Women’s Journal,  as well as the research journals of St. Paul University QC, De La Salle University Dasmariñas, and University of Perpetual Help of Rizal for publishing my lectures and researches.  I have also included a number of these articles, written in layman’s language. 
Lastly, I wish to thank the following institutions and persons who helped me in coming up with this new volume. 
University of Santo Tomas, University of Perpetual Help of Rizal, De La Salle University Dasmariñas, St. Paul University Quezon City, Lyceum of the Philippines University, Philippine Broadcasting Service-Radyo ng Bayan (PBS-DZRB), National Food Authority; and UST Publishing House and staff;
To my  family Cecilia R Rotor, wife of the author and their children: Matthew Marlo, Anna Christina and Leo Carlo, sister Veneranda, and cousins Acela, Julita, Fe and Luz, and other relatives.

      And to all those who in one way or the other made the publication of this book possible. 

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