Saturday, January 28, 2017

When does selfishness end and selflessness begin?

Dr Abe V Rotor
 V-formation of migrating wild geese to ease their flight. Those at the lead break the inertia of air resistance, and will fall back to rest later as others take over. (See movie Fly Away Home)   

All organisms, simple or complex, plant or animal – and human – are governed by genes, which through the long process of evolution, are the very tools for survival in Darwin’s treatise on Survival of the Fittest through Natural Selection.

The acquisition of successful genes is key to the survival of present day species, and the explanation on the failure of those which did not. Two words are important: adaptation and competition. This dual attributes are directed to self-preservation through the process of acquiring the basic necessities of life either by adjusting to it passively or actively. Definitely it is not one that is easy to share to the extent of losing its benefit in favor of another.

But if we analyze it, this is true to each individual. Now organisms do not live as individuals; they live as a community, as a society. Which leads us to the logical inference that if the individual organism, in order to survive must be selfish, then how can it be able to establish a community in which it ultimately become a part?

This is very important because the community is the key to resource sharing from food to space; it is the key to collective bargaining in times of peace or war. The community is like a bundle of individuals behaving singularly. It is collective planting time when the monsoon arrives, harvesting when it ends. The rituals that go with such activities enhance the success of bonding, and enshrine it into an institution.

Institutions were born from socio-economic needs which spontaneously developed into cultural and political rolled into one complex society. To answer where selfness starts is easier to answer than where selflessness begins.

If the premise is biological what proofs can we show that it is so?

• Social insects – ants, bees and termites – bind themselves as a colony. Any attack on the colony sends soldiers to fight the enemy. Paper wasps sting as intruders. The honeybee does not consume the nectar and pollen it gathers, but brings the harvest into the granary from which it get its share later. An ant clings to death at an enemy. When a bee sting, its abdomen is ripped away and is surely to die.

• Starve an aphid or a mealybug, and it will produce young prematurely – even without first becoming an adult. This is called paedogenesis. Or an adult may produce young without the benefit of mating and fertilization. This is parthenogenesis.

• A plant stressed by drought will cut its life cycle short in order to use the remaining energy to produce offspring. This is true to grasshoppers or caterpillars – they skip one or two moulting and metamorphose so that they can mate and reproduce.

• The spacing of plants is determined not only of soil and climatic conditions that control the growth and development, but by a biological mechanism known as allelopathy. A date palm will kill its own offspring around its trunk and under its crown. Those that grow outside its shadow becomes a part of the oasis’ vegetation.

• Bacteria, yeasts, and other microorganisms go into luxury feeding where there is plenty, and nature seems not to mind, until they consume the food, and worse until their waste accumulates and becomes toxic. This is called autotoxicity. Thus in fermentation, it is the toxic material - alcohol - that eventually kills the yeasts themselves, and another process follows until the organic forms of compounds are transformed and ultimately returned as inorganic ready for use by succeeding organisms.

• The dalag and many other species of fish eat their young leaving only those that can escape. Here the advantage of controlled population and survival of the fittest are shown.

• Vultures seldom attack a living prey; they wait to its last breath. A male lion will kill a cub which it did not sire. But we know too, that there are surrogate mothers in the wild like the cuckoo, and among domestic animals.

Because of the complexity of social behavior, Dr E O Wilson of Harvard University, attempted to explain many of the observed behavior into a field of biology he called sociobiology. In a simple illustration, if your child is about to be hit by a fast oncoming vehicle, a mother would risk her life to save him. Dr. Wilson would then asks a third party if he or she would do the same thing to a child who is not his own – much less without any relations.

 Ipil-ipil plant lice (Psylla sp) form colonies in sheer number causing defoliation oif the host plant. When starved, the nymphs may produce young (virgin birth), a rare phenomenon in nature called paedogenesis.

This leads us back to our previous question: When does selfishness end and selflessness begin?~

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Naturalism: Do you believe in divination?

Naturalism is the eighth sense very few people are endowed. They are the likes of those who have green thumb in gardening, blue thumb in fish culture, natural healing in some doctors and faith healers, natural intelligence in forensics.
Dr Abe V Rotor

He is a water diviner – one who can detect the source of ground water by mere perception.

He is a kind old man from Baclaran, a foreigner who has been in the country for years, widely known for his special gift as a “water diviner”.

A company hired him to locate a reliable source of water for a piggery project in Macabebe, Pampanga. Previous to this there was a newly constructed well which ran dry. This is the story related to me by the project manager.

Rock spring, reminiscent of the biblical 
story of Moses tapping water on rock

First he prayed, then looked from a perfect Y-shape branch of guava and cut it like a big frame of a slingshot (tirador). Holding the smaller ends in each hand, and pointing the common end to the ground, he scoured the whole area. Then on a spot he stood, the branch vibrating in his hands. “Dig here,” he said. True, he found an underground stream, which to this day, thirty years after, the well continues to pour out hundreds of gallons of water everyday. 

Can the water diviner detect the vibration of the flow of an underground vein of water (aquifer)? If so, he must have that special gift of naturalism.

Naturalism is the eighth sense very few people are endowed. They are the likes of those who have green thumb in gardening, blue thumb in fish culture, natural healing in some doctors and faith healers, natural intelligence in forensics. Graphology or handwriting analysis is a gift of naturalism. There are people who can sense the coming of a force majeure like an earthquake - a phenomenon known among animals.

While naturalism may be innate in a person, it is important to hone it through years of experience and training. You may have a gift of this kind, so why don't you discover and develop it?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Have you tasted Stone Soup?

This is one for the Book of Guinness.
Dr Abe V Rotor
Stone covered with green algae (lumot); microcopic structure of Lyngbya 

crosbyanum, a common green freshwater alga. (Photos by AVR)

Along the pristine shallow shores of the sea, lakes and rivers, you will find stones coated with living algae. Along coral reefs the algae growing on these stones are mainly Enteromorpha, and a host of juvenile seaweeds, while those in freshwater the dominant algae are Chlorella and Nostoc, all commonly called lumot. These are edible species listed in books in phycology, the study of algae.

Now there are two ways old folks prepare the soup from these algae-rich stones. The stones are roasted or charcoal or under low fire to bring out the aroma, and then dropped simmering in a waiting bowl of water complete with tomato, onion and a dash of salt.

The other method follows the traditional way of cooking of broth, with the addition of vegetables - and even fish or meat. The recipe is rich in calcium because of the calcareous nature of the stones, especially those gathered in coral reefs.

Try stone soup; it's good for the bones. And it's a good piece of friendly conversation.

One summer I started a lecture at one o'clock in the afternoon, very late for a lunch time lecture, with "Have you tried stone soup?" ~

Wild food plants or “survival plants” could save your life

Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog

Survivors of war, plane crash, shipwreck have a lot to lessons to share, among them are edible plants that kept them alive. 

Talisay (Terminalia catappa) bears nut like fruits that contain small seeds that taste like almond. 

Tibig (Ficus nota.) The fruits are edible and have a good flavor.  They are soft and fleshy when mature. 

Isis (Ficus odorata) or isis because its rough leaves are used as natural sandpaper for utensil and wood.  Its fruits like tibig are edible.   

Papait (Mollogo oppositifolia)

Balleba (Vallisnera) is an aquatic plant growing in clear streams, ponds and lakes, whose leaves appear like ribbon, hence it is also called ribbon grass. The leaves are gathered and served fresh with tomato, onion and salt.

Apulid or water chestnut.  Our native apulid produces very small bulbs - only one-third the size of the Chinese or Vietnamese apulid.  It grows wild in places where water is present year round. It is boiled, peeled and served.  

Aratiles (Muntingia calabura) bears plenty of tiny berries which are red to violet when ripe. It is sweet and somewhat aromatic.  

                                          Himba-ba-o or Alokong 
                                           (Alleanthus luzonicus)

Wild sinkamas (Pacchyrhizus erosus) has enlarged roots which may remain in the soil even after the plants has dried up in summer. It is gathered and eaten raw. 

Urai (Amaranthus spinosus). The plant become spiny as it matures. It is the very young plant that is gathered as vegetable. 

Mulberry (Morus alba). Its leaves are the chief food of silkworm.  The fruits when ripe are purple to black, and while very small are juicy and fairly sweet. 

Bagbagkong, flower vegetable 

Taro (Colocasia sp.). The Palawan gabi grows twice the height of man and produces a large corm.  There is a technique in preparing and cooking the corm. Or making starch out of it.  The key is thorough cleaning and cooking.  

Gulasiman (Portulaca oleracea) has succulent leaves and stems which are cooked as vegetables.  

                        Banana blossom (Puso ng saging)

Talinum ((Talinum triangulare). The succulent stems and leaves are gathered as vegetable.  
 .  Edible Fern (Pako’) - Athyrium esculentum); gulasiman or ngalog (Portulaca)

 Male  flowers of squash (Cucurbita maxima
Saluyot tops (Corchorus olitorius

Other wild vegetables:

1. Young leaves of cassava or kamoteng kahoy (Manihot utilissima)
2. Petals of Gumamela (Hibiscus rosasinensis)
3. Young leaves of kamkamote (Ipomea triloba)
4. Amaranth or spinach (Amaranthus spinosus) - seedling stage
5. Flowers of madre de cacao or kakawate (Gliricida sepium)
6. Corm of banana (Musa sapientum)
7. Ubod or pith of maguey (Agave cantala)
8. Talinum (Talinum quadriculoare)

Alugbati (Basella rubra) is a twining plant with reddish stems and leaves. The tops are gathered as vegetable which is mucilaginous when cooked.
Male  flowers of squash (Cucurbita maxima

9. Flower of katuray (Sesbania grandiflora)

10. Corm of Palawan gabi (Colocasia sp)
11.    Edible Fern (Pako’) - Athyrium esculentum)
12.  Gulasiman or ngalog (Portulaca)  

Often referred to as wild food plants or hunger crops, these and many others, perhaps hundreds, provide an alternative source of food and nutrition on the grassroots in times of poor harvest and calamities like drought. Being native or indigenous they survive extreme conditions of the environment, they need very little care, if at all.

 Ethnobotany, the study of plants and their uses in primitive societies, is gaining recognition in the light of economic crisis. It offers a solution to poverty and malnutrition. Culinary delight comes in various food preparations from native vegetables.

                     Dampalit (Sesuvium portulacastrum)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Mystery of the Waterfall

Mystery of the Waterfall
Wall mural and Poem by Dr Abe V Rotor 
Waterfalls wall mural at author's residence, San Vicente, Ilocos Sur

Hiss, tumble, and roar;
catch the cloud into rain,
mist and fog in your favor 
for mystery to reign.

Your beginning and end
make a long, long story;
yonder, around the bend, 
down below you're free,

meandering to the sea,
across farm and pasture,
along dike and levee,
greeting every creature.

I followed you long ago,
but lost along the way
to where I didn't know, 
in abandon and gay  
of the real meaning of life - 

lesson you teach human
to go on, ease or strife,
 'til the last drop is gone.

Hiss, tumble, and roar;
catch the cloud into rain,
mist and fog in your favor 
for mystery to reign.

Cloti, a visiting Filipina OFW in the Middle East, 
in a make-believe pose before the wall mural.   

Monday, January 9, 2017

Where have all the native fruits gone?

Dr Abe V Rotor sapote fruit 
Tiesa (Lucuma nervosa), siniguelas (Spondias purpurea)
Where have all the native guava gone,
the bats and birds and the young one?

Where have all the sweet nangka gone,
its fruits buried under the ground?

Where have all the old piƱa gone,
on the upland, sweetened by the sun?

Where have all the red papaya gone,
solo by name, the only tree of a kind?

Where have all the pomegranate gone,
friendly though like the deadly one.

Where have all the pako mango gone,
to cook the finest sinigang?

Where have all the big pomelo gone,
its rind made into jelly and jam?

Where have all the red macopa gone,
the laughing children in its arm?

Where have all the native santol gone,
set aside for a large-seeded one?

Where have all the tall mabolo gone,
sapote and caimito that ripe into tan?

Gone to the genie everyone,
technology’s child becoming man. ~

 Black Sapote (Diospyrus digyna), Atis (Anona squamosa); below, native guava (Psidium guajava), macopa (Eugenia jambalana) Internet

Enigma is beauty, too.

Dr Abe V Rotor 
Maguey (Agave cantala) looks menacing to browsing animals and intruders. 
The leaves are radially arranged and spiked at the tip like the sea urchin. 

Nature's art can be beautiful and painful, 
enigma is beauty, too;
like a rose beneath its petals are thorns,
life's like that in the same view. ~

Thursday, January 5, 2017


Painting and Verse by Dr Abe V Rotor
Convergence in acrylic 2015

Convergence in a garden with butterflies fluttering among flowers, reflecting the early rays of the sun into a prism of rainbow colors;

Convergence on a wall of mosses and lichens carpeting an old stonewall, sanctuary of living minutiae beyond the naked eye;

Convergence of seasons with seeds and buds waking up, flowering plants in their prime, leaves of gold and red falling, trees rising bare into the sky;

Convergence of art with romance in the air, impressions of vision, realism in everyday life, expressionism in feelings, abstracts in thoughts;

Convergence of culture erases the boundaries of faith and belief, race and nationality, inequities of living, into but one global village;

Convergence seeks peace and unity in a garden, on a stonewall, in seasons changing, in art movements, in cultures wanting to be free. ~

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Ring of Fire

Dr Abe V Rotor
Ring of Fire in acrylic, AVR 2016

Besieged by advancing culture, 
a forest once sacred and pristine,
falls into the evil hands of man - 
and man loses to his old sin. ~   

Red Dragon Painting

Dr Abe V Rotor
Red Dragon in acrylic, AVR 2016

It came roaring in blood red,
 this creature feared yet revered,
 in legend esteemed and sacred, 
beauty enshrined in creed. ~

Monday, January 2, 2017

Awakening in Painting

Painting and Verses by Dr Abe V Rotor 

Evolution in acrylic AVR 2016

Emerging from a once arid earth, 
where the elements of life are dearth; 
welcome the sun, water, warmth and care , 
lightning and thunder, and prayer. ~

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Get out of your confine, love the sun

Dr Abe V Rotor 
Dr Anselmo S Cabigan examines pine saplings in Lipa Batangas, 

Why do living things behave as they do;
what trigger plants to bloom profusely;
insects metamorphose in their mid cycle,
midges swarm, like the locust do?

Why is the pine confined on the highland,
save a few acclimatized on the lowland;
the desert suddenly blooms after a rain,
returning barren in the scorching sun?

Why the firefly's lantern the purest light,
plankton glow in the deep, eyes flash;
silk the finest textile, honey the sweetest;
boundless, flawless the birds in flight.

Ask the naturalist, and if you are one,
talk to the trees, sing with the breeze,
crickets, greet the first rain in May,
get out of your confine, love the sun. ~

One Hundred Islands Fantasy

                                         One Hundred Islands Fantasy                                 
                                                     Dr Abe V Rotor
"Tres Marias" before a wall painting One Hundred Islands
by the author at his residence, San Vicente Ilocos Sur 2016 
Photo with Sony Cybershot 1080, unedited,

Imagination takes these kids to a place of fantasy,
so real they dream to go there someday; 
in fact they're there now, hopping island to island,
riding on the wind and waves over the bay,
while we grownups believe only by our senses,
insatiable at a high price we've to pay. ~ 

Beauty and Fury

Dr Abe V Rotor
Beauty and Fury in acrylic (36"x 48") AVR 2016

Tranquility reigns on her face,
rage in her breast;
If beauty exudes best
from a spring of force,
I do not wonder at the shyness 
of a crest,
and the power of a single rose. ~

Goya's Two peasants fighting and sinking in quicksand

They are so concerned with their quarrel that they do not appear to realize that they are sinking into quicksand.
Dr Abe V Rotor   
Two Peasants Fighting. Oil on plaster transferred to canvas (481/2" x 105"), Museo National del Prado, Madrid (1819-23) by  Francisco Goya, Spanish painter and muralist.


Goya painted the two peasants as an indictment against stubborn pride and senseless temper. A merciless critic of man's cruelty and folly, he attacks the ignorance not only of the nobleman, but the senseless dueling, but the peasant too, for there is no excuse for general brutality. 

They are hacking at one another with cudgels. Another painter might have soaked us in blood, but this picture is all browns and blues, and the restraint in his handling of the broken head is all the more telling. (Bernard Myers, Goya 1970) 

  • Talangka or crab mentality
  • Matira ang matibay (Darwinian syndrome)
  • American Civil War
Cite and critique specific examples you are familiar with.

How friendly are you with Nature? Self-Administered Test (True or False, 25 Items)

Man is a recent creature on Earth. If the 5 billion years of the earth’s existence is compared to a calendar (365 days), man came into this world only on the eve of December 30. Man is only one-day old on earth. (True or False)

Dr Abe V Rotor

Mini-diorama of a coral reef, made by students in humanities 
with the author as adviser. Former St Paul University Museum QC

1. "Going back to nature” means we have to live the lives of our ancestors and renounce our modern living.

2. We can actually transfer genetic materials from one organism to another irrespective of species or class or sub kingdom by means of genetic engineering, resulting in the formation of what we call as GMO.

3. Genetic engineering actually started with Gregor Mendel, the father of the science of genetics and heredity some two hundred years ago.

4. There is no question about a human clone of not having a soul because, the soul of the parents transcend to offspring which is the clone.

5. We live under different ages all at a given time - atomic age, computer age, age of genetic engineering, and space age – all rolled into what scientists called the age of postmodernism.

6. “Tailor the land to the crop, and not the other way around,” is a cardinal rule of "treaty between man and nature."

7. Man is a recent creature on Earth. If the 5 billion years of the earth’s existence is compared to a calendar (365 days), man came into this world only on the eve of December 30. Man is only one-day old on earth.

8. “Our lives are being run and outrun by science and technology.” This statement is generally true.

9. "Universities without walls" or "distance education" will enable mass education to the grassroots. It will break the cartel or control by elite universities and colleges.

10. Toxic metals abound on land, sea and air – from kangkong to tuna to fowls – unless we control the emission and spread of these toxic metals.

11. Going back to nature is to become a strict vegetarian – giving up animal products. Unless we do this we can’t truly say we have gone back to nature.

12. “Ecological paradigm of salvation” means “we express our love and care to people by protecting nature.” Plant a tree, for example, is reverence to nature and therefore to the Creator; kill a tree and you commit a sin – more so it caused flood and erosion leading to death and destruction.

13. Support and actively participate in movements such as Clean Air Act, Piso sa Pasig, Clean and Green, Green Revolution, Carless Day, Car pooling, Biofuel, Saving Endangered Species, Greenpeace.

14. Convert deserts into woodlands and pasture; empty shorelines into resorts, given the tremendous resources to accomplish such gargantuan task.

15. Petrodollar is the life of the world economy – so that we support the idea there there is plenty of oil yet to be discovered. There should be no letup in tapping these reserves.

16. We should implement stricter laws such as: absolutely no logging (total log ban); impound all smoke belching vehicles; no conversion of agricultural to industrial lands; no hunting of wild animals; and the like.

17. Even without the human species, Planet Earth will continue to “go round” so to speak in the same way as it did in the last 5 billion years – and perhaps go on for another 5 billion years. We just don’t know what will be the kind of dominant species after us.

18. Homesite for the golden years is feasible in the rural as well as in the urban areas; it can be modified according to area, design and structure – but not purpose.

19. It is good to go back to classics without aristocracy, spirituality without religious dogmatism; philosophy without ideological bias; realism without barbarism – to have a better view of life, and a firmer basis of our decision and faith.

20. Science and technology has imprisoned us in many ways – that is why we are not truly happy. We need a direction – a definition of life’s meaning. Logotherapy is as relevant as in a situation where we are kept helpless in a prison camp.

21. Science and technology has actually eliminated the scourge of the human race – disease, poverty and ignorance. Actually we are only begging for more benefits discreetly.

Trivia: Identify this organism.  Answer is found below.

22. Today it takes weeks for man to make diamonds in special oven chambers the size of a washing machine, when it would take nature thousands of years to make one.

23. Reports have been verified of the presence of bromate in sugar, sulfite in wheat flour, nitrate in meat, human hormone in milk.

24. Alternative vegetables are not to be recommended because we have barely studied them unlike conventional vegetables.

25. Homeostasis means dynamic balance – Nature’s way of renewal, renaissance, seeking stability as continuing goal. ~

 Farm Life mural by AV Rotor 

ANSWERS: 1 F, 2T, 3F, 4F, 5T, 6F, 7T, 8T, 9T, 10T, 11F, 12T, 13T, 14F, 15F, 16T, 17T, 18T, 19T, 20T, 21T, 22T, 23T, 24 F, 25T
Rating: 20 and up - You are indeed friendly to Nature. 
15-19 - Good.  
14 and below - Visit this blog more often, and listen to Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid, Monday to Friday, 8 to 9 evening on 738 DZRB AM Band, .  

Trivia: Ballon frog, or Tukak ba'ug (Ilk) 

Quaint Talipapa - People's Mall

Dr Abe V Rotor

Tahong and talaba
Shrimps and crabs
Shellfish and lobster
Arusip (Caulerpa)

It's people's market, a spontaneous institution;
Everywhere, anywhere it rises in communion
With all walks of life converging into a ganglion,
Serving felt needs, the yardstick of satisfaction;
Name it: seaweeds, hito, giant grouper, tahong,
Variety for all culinary, or just a meal's portion;
Buffer against force majeure and economic recession;
By any measure, sans dollar-peso conversion,
Life goes on and on, so with the whole nation.~

Is Rationality a Mask of Reality?

Dr Abe V Rotor 
Dr Anselmo S Cabigan studies a mango specimen at a Retreat  Center. Lipa, Batangas

What leads reality to fantasy, we surmise;
     the saga of the Pied Piper of Hamlyn,
Jules Verne's Kraken, Loch Ness monster,
     from fantasy to reality stories rise.

Nostradamus prophesy, Malthus' theory;
     the Bible - fiction, science, tales, all
mixed up in archives and social media
     where one is led to think and feel free.

Scientific protocol: Koch's Postulate,
     Linnaeus' nomenclature, Mendeleev's,
computer prediction models of today,
     Quarks and Higg's Boson as of late.

To where do all these lead us, we ask,
     after moon landing, soon to planet Mars;
if fantasy a means of escape from reality,
     then rationality is but a fateful mask. ~