Friday, July 21, 2017

Little Prince and the Owl

Dr Abe V Rotor 
Little Prince and the Owl. Mural background by the author 2016 

Wonder why missed the owl in the novel,
The Little Prince by Saint-Exupery,
wiser than the fox and the snake;  
and wonder too, why missed the eagle. ~

Kite and Rainbow in a Duo

Dr Abe V Rotor
Little Mackie and Teacher Joy take time out to pose with the ambiance 
of a Nature painting at Joyful Beginnings tutorial center, Lagro QC

They rule the sky one day,
rainbow and kite a duo;
up they go into the blue;
Over trees and hills, too.

Clicking sonorous song
of a loving hornbills pair
fill the air, echoes afar
return in the still air.

Murmur the stream over
rocks, hissing, meandering
on its way to the fields, 
and some ponds waiting.
Wonder a child in awe
and sweet innocence, 
while grownups know
the limits of their senses. 
Ephemeral are the two,
the rainbow brings rain,
the kite brings the sun 
in happy, peaceful reign. ~

Composite nature painting by the author. Living with Nature won the 
Best Blog on Nature and Environment, Philippine Blogging Award 2015

Thursday, July 20, 2017

10 Superstitious Beliefs - which ones are true?

Food offering (atang) on special occasions is homage to the spirits.
Dr Abe V Rotor   

1. Avoid laughing when planting kamote otherwise the roots will become liplike.
One who has incomplete teeth (bungal) should keep his mouth closed when planting corn otherwise the cobs will not be filled properly, or become empty.

Do you have a third eye?
 What do you see in this painting?

These are purely superstitious beliefs.  But maybe we look at it this way. One who is not serious in his work is likely to commit mistakes. What happens if the planting materials are not well placed in the soil?  Stray chickens may come after the uncovered corn.  If the distancing of the cuttings is irregular, naturally crop stand will be poor.  Too much fun leaves a lot of work poorly done or unfinished.

2. Bathing the cat will bring rain.
Then farmers will be a happy lot. And there is no need of cloud seeding, and procession for the intercession of San Isidro.

3. Bats swoop on unwary people. Old folks warn us not to go out at dusk or at night - and never alone.
Bats, the only true flying mammals are perhaps the most misunderstood creatures because of their ugly looks and enigmatic life embellished with superstitious beliefs and associated with fiction such as the story of Dracula, a bloodthirsty count-vampire in the world of the undead. Movies, cartoons, and children’s stories have projected a bad image of bats, giving us the impression they are enemies of mankind.   

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

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

4. Bite your finger after you have pointed at somebody or something.
Pointing particularly at people is indeed bad manners. In aristocratic societies, the act of pointing is reserved only to the royalty that goes with its authority over the people.  Old folks tell us never point at holy objects, the unseen and in the dark. And never point at the sun and moon. Your fingers will get hurt. Pointing at the sun is a grave offense among ancient cultures like the Aztecs, Incas and Mayans, because the sun is their god. The act of biting the pointing finger is engrained self discipline from the old folks.

By the way, when you point with one finger, the other fingers are pointing at you - something that reminds us that before we blame somebody let us first examine ourselves.   

5. Black ants in lansones means the fruit is sweet.
Lansones (Lansium domesticum) from Paete has a singular reputation that it is the sweetest lansones. But if you can’t find the Paete variety, you can settle for other sweet varieties.  If there are black ants crawling on the fruit, it must be sweet.

Not really.  The black ants feed on the sugary secretion of mealy bugs and scale insects clinging on the bunch of fruits. Actually they are parasitic, feeding on plant sap. Some unscrupulous fruits vendors sprinkle sugar solution which attracts red ants instead.      

6. Bringing salt under a sour fruit-bearing tree will cause the fruits to fall.
Naturally.  What goes better than a pinch of salt when eating juvenile sampaloc, kamiaskasoy or green mango? 

7. Cat grooming at the doorway tells of visitors coming.
Cats are fastidious clean creatures.  Like birds at rest preening, cats lick their paws and fur clean especially after eating. But what has this to do with their alleged ability to forecast? Well, let’s look at it this way.  It is customary in the province to cook something especially for our guests.  And fond that we are with cats, we let them have their fill while we are cooking.  
8. Conceiving mother who gets near a fruiting tree causes its fruits to fall prematurely.
There is no scientific evidence to link a conceiving mother with the premature dropping of fruits, but let us look at it this way.  Craving for certain food, such as those rich in Vitamin C - green mango, young sampalockamias, guava and the like - is generally observed among conceiving mothers. It is not unusual to see them in the orchard, holding a bamboo pole or some pieces of stone. Such craving for special foods is a physiologic function of the body, but it may be psychological, too.  Old folks interpret it as maternal impression (pinaglihi-an), which is of course an unfounded belief.

9. Eating shark influences human character with the animal’s behavior.
For a long time people would just let the sharks live alone.  In fact they were feared and revered creatures until someone discovered that shark fins taste good and its liver has curative power.  The shark since then became the prey, and no longer the predator.

What is mysterious about the shark? The shark does not only live very long, it is a living fossil, which means it has not changed for the last 100 million years or so.  What could be its secret?

The US National Institute of Health discovered a previously unknown molecule in the liver of the dogfish shark.  Called squalamine, the natural steroid fights cancer by cutting off blood flow to tumors. Now we are saying, “Eat shark and be as healthy as the shark.”

10.  Food offering (atang) on special occasions is homage to the spirits.
The explanation is similar to that above.  The practice includes offering a plate of food and drink the host has prepared for the occasion.  It is placed on the family altar, or any place the souls and spirits are deemed to be around. Respect (pag-galang) is true Filipino and Oriental tradition to the living, the dead and the unseen. It strengthens camaraderie, keeps memories of loved ones alive, and adds quaintness to village life.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

We are breathing bad air!

Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog 
 Smoke belching vehicles - unstoppable
 Dump site - breeding place of disease, poisonous and obnoxious gases

Bad air days (BAD)
Bad air accumulates and moves, such as the case over Hongkong. Bad air moves in two directions - to Bombay, India; and to neighboring Guangzhou where pollution meets and mixes over the Pearl River and forms a shroud as it meets the sea. Similar cases occur over Beijing, Tokyo and San Francisco. The stale air hangs as an inversion layer practically choking the city.

Rapid economic growth has led to record levels of pollution, producing filthy air rising and spreading over highly industrial centers and densely populated cities. Here power plants, factories and vehicles release pollutants into the air, and as the sun heats up the ground, the polluted air rises. But polluted air cools quickly over water and sinks to the surface and disperses. Without strong wind to clear it away, the pollution mix can build up over time, leading to BAD (bad air days).

What is in the polluted air?

Sulfur Dioxide is produced by coal-burning power plants and heavy industry. Effects: reduces lung function, exacerbates wheezing and shortness of breath. Builds acid rain with other gases.

Nitrogen Dioxide comes from emissions of vehicles and power plants. Effects: helps form smug, exacerbates asthma and increases chances of respiratory infections.

Respirable suspended particulates. These tiny particles are created chiefly by diesel exhaust and coal-burning power plants. Effects: can penetrate deep into lungs and aggravate serious respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

Ozone is formed by the reaction in sunlight of volatile organic compounds and CFC's that primarily come from cars, and household byproducts. Effects: causes chest pain and coughing, aggravates asthma.

Hydrogen sulfide, ammonia gas, elevated CO2 from piggeries and ranches, swamps and polluted rivers and lakes. Algal bloom contributes significant amounts of these gases.

Suspended dusts as what happens during sandstorms and volcanic eruptions, such as what happened during the Pinatubo eruption, and recently, in Iceland and Brazil. Remember the Dust Bowl of the Dakotas in the thirties when the air became was loaded with dusts which lasted for weeks.

Dioxin, the most poisonous substance ever formulated by man is in the air since plastic was discovered. Plastics are the most popular material used in the household, industry and agriculture. Dioxin is produced by burning plastics. With increasing use of pesticides, the air is getting thicker with chlorinated hydrocarbons, organo-phosphates, and other harmful residues.

Radiation is the result of fallout from nuclear accidents like what happened in Fukushima, Japan, in March this year, and in Chernobyl in Kiev (photo)  twenty years ago, not to mention the Three-Mile nuclear incident in the US in the eighties.

Pathogens - Spores of disease-causing organisms that infect not only humans but animals and plants as well, ride on air current, and on particulates suspended in air. Thus the hypothesis that epidemic diseases move on air has strong scientific evidences.

Are we safe inside our schools and houses?

Bad air builds up surreptitiously in air-conditioned halls and rooms. Don't be deceived by the comfort of coolness lulling you to sleep. Defective and leaking air-con units virtually make the room a gas chamber. There are cases of death due to poisonous gases from leaking air con.

Defective exhaust or overload results in buildup of Carbon Dioxide and its more poisonous cousin, Carbon Monoxide (CO).

When students become inattentive and drowsy, yawning, complaining of headache, nausea, and the like, suspect the air conditioning unit as the culprit - and the classroom heavy with bad air.

As a teacher, when confronted with this situation, immediately institute these measures.
  • Give the class a break. A recess outside the classroom is preferred.
  • Open all windows and doors
  • Check the air-con, the exhaust fan with the aircon technician
  • Inform management.
  • Give sufficient break during brownout
Bad air inside rural Asian homes kills hundreds of thousands a year. The most poisonous atmosphere in the Asian region is found not only in rapidly modernizing cities like New Delhi or Beijing but inside the kitchens. Millions of families heat their abodes and cook in open fires that belch CO and other noxious fumes at levels up to 5000 times the international safety. Families and children spend hours each day in poorly ventilated homes and kitchens. Although this is as old as humankind, living in tight quarters and poverty have aggravated the situation.

Solution: improved stove, more efficient with least pollution. Improved stoves are subsidized by governments such as in China and India, which also back us the campaign by proper education, and strict pollution control laws.

And lastly, have trees and plants around the house, on backyards and sidewalks, on idle lots and parks to increase Oxygen level and cool the surroundings. But never keep plants inside your house, and never in your bedroom. At night plants give off CO2 as they, like other organisms, respire. In our knowledge of photosynthesis, the dark phase of this biological process takes place at night. ~

 Smog over high rise buildings; smog over factories.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Philippine Legends: “Dama De Noche”, “Philippines Creation”, and “Balete Drive”.

Dr Abe V Rotor
Co-author, Philippine Literature Today
C and E Publishing Co. Inc.

Philippine Literature Today: A Travelogue Approach (co-authors Kristine Molina-Doria and Abercio V Rotor, C and E Publishing Co.) aims at guiding 

The Philippines is a small country located in the Southeast side of Asia, having a really nice tropical weather, and having one of the richest areas of biodiversity, but also it’s one of the richest in culture and stories in the whole world.

Philippine legends may vary according to nature and some supernatural forces that inhibit the country, and there is a story behind all of that. Most of our legends talks about the creation of this world and how it affects our society from before until now. We will discuss the legends of “Dama De Noche”, “Philippines Creation”, and “Balete Drive”.

Philippines are famous for its folklore. There are many stories and tales that are recounted by locals. Here are some example of the most famous Philippine legends:

Dama De Noche

Cestrum nocturnum, or night blooming jasmine, is a plant from the family solanaceae. It's other names are Lady of the Night, Dama de Noche or Galan de Noche.The legend of Dama de Noche says that a beautiful princess used to live a long time ago. Since she was a baby, she could connect with people's emotions. If someone was happy in the house, she would laugh, if there was a sad person, and then she would cry.

This beautiful baby was named Dama (in the dialect, mean "Feel", making reference to her gift of feels other people's feelings).

Also, Dama loved perfumes, when she was a teenager, she would play with different flowers to create various perfumes, and the legend says that Dama even had her own fresh smell, especially at night, which made her have lots of suitors.

One day, Dama got really sick, as days went by, her health was deteriorating, and not even the best medics of the Barangay could do something, finally dying. Her funeral was full of garlands of flowers, and her body bathed in perfume, being buried on her vast garden.

The legend says that one night a unique flower started to grow from Dama's grave that had a really sweet fragrance at night. People started to say that the flower was Dama's paying a visit to them, as time went by, the flower was known as Dama De Noche (Dama of the Night).

The Philippines Creation 

The Philippines’ creation myth, says that at the beginning of time, the first three deities that lived on the universe were Bathala, Amihan better known as the North wind and Aman Sinaya, the Goddess of sea and sky.

The three gods divided the universe, so all three could rule over it, Bathala took the sky, Sea was taken by Aman Sinaya and the realm between was given to Amihan. But differences started to grow between Bathala and Aman Sinaya.

Due to these differences, Bathala and Aman Sinaya always tried to win over each other, Aman Sinaya sending typhoons to the sky while Bathala used his bolts. But when Aman Sinaya sent a big storm to the sky, Bathala tried to stop her sending boulders of mountains to stop her, creating lots of islands.

Amihan was very sad for all of these fights, so in an attempt to stop them, she turned herself into a golden bird and started to fly between the sky and sea going back and forth. With this, both started to get close to each other, until finally they met. With this action, both Bathala and Aman Sinaya decided not to fight anymore and became friends.

Balete Drive (White Lady) 
Balete Drive legends have well known in our legends. This is a long street that connects E. Rodriguez and N. Domingo Avenues in the city of New Manila, Quezon City. The corner of Balete Drive and E. Rodriguez is a bustling area that has fast food restaurants and other establishments.
Note white lady behind big tree.
The ghost’s stories and legends were traced back in the 1950's, being the most popular the "White Lady" that haunts the avenue, and it seems to haunt cab drivers in particular.

The story begins with a beautiful woman who lives in a house that is close to the balete tree. She loves to play with children; and her neighbor’s thinks that the woman is a witch so they don’t let their child to play with her.

The woman is engaged to a handsome guy that everyone loves in town, but he has issues with alcohol. And when he’s drunk he beats his fiancée until she bleeds. One night the woman goes home from the market, she saw her fiancée with his friends in the streets. The guy and his friends were drunk so they raped the poor woman on the street.

The woman died from exhaustion and shame, and when her spirit rose. She avenges her death by killing his husband’s friends one by one. The man was so scared that he hired lots of guards to protect him. But it came to a point where the spirit found him and the she killed him avenging her death.

And after that, the girl wandered the streets of E. Rodriguez to haunt all the men that ventures in her territory, the balete drive. ~ 

Acknowledgement: Internet photos

Friday, July 14, 2017

Putakti! (Paper Wasp)

Dr Abe V Rotor

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

Paper wasp nests, Museum of Natural History, UPLB Laguna

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

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

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

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

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

x x x

Takong - the Nest-Building Sow

Dr. Abe V. Rotor

When I was a farmhand I watched Takong – mother pig, build a nest. She gathered dry banana stalks, rice straw, leaves, and if there were clothes or blanket on a sagging clothesline, they would likely end up as nesting materials.

Crossbred offspring shows traces of its native parent - the domesticated wild pig

Takong was a native pig and carried much of the features of baboy damo or wild pig. Her fangs were long, protruding and curved outward, resembling amulets. Her snout was long, her skin dark gray and loose, her hair wiry. She was seldom without caked mud over her body because she loved to wallow. She strayed on the farm, subsisting on rice bran, fruits and vegetables, or whatever leftovers there were after threshing or milling.

“Our sow is ready to give birth,” my dad announced. Takong had been in her nest and if it were not for her gray color, heaving and grunting, you would dismiss her nest as a mere pile of rubbish. That night I heard grunting and squeaking. Our sow was giving birth. The piglets came out at intervals.

As the first rays of the sun peep through the den, I cautiously searched how many piglets our  sow had delivered. There were ten piglets in all! But none was wholly black like the mother. They had shades of white and gray, their snouts were shorter and upturned. Their father was of a foreign breed, stocky and bigger than Takong with snub nose and flappy ears. Takong laid on one side and obediently nursed her litter, each taking possession of a teat. "Just don't get too close." my father warned.

Father knows that even if animals have been domesticated, they still carry the evolutionary gene designed to protect their young against any enemy they perceive - which may include their own masters. Animals are most dangerous at nesting time and after giving birth until the young are ready to be weaned. Another warning my dad emphasized is that never touch the young, more so to take them away from the nest or litter.

We can't resist picking up newly born animals, like kittens and puppies, because they are lovable. Their mother can easily sense our intrusion. She may abandon the poor cute thing, or even kill or eat it. Or she takes the whole litter away to a safe place.

In the wild, animals can sense danger that may threaten the whole litter, if not the whole herd. According to sociobiology as proposed by Dr EO Wilson, altruism and sacrifice are actually part of behavioral instinct which is important to the survival of the species, to the extent of sacrificing its individual members. Murder and cannibalism among animals may be explained with this theory. So with sudden attacks on people by pets, by animals in zoo and circus.

Takong's offspring soon reached weaning time. Dad sold them as growers, leaving one to become our next sow. It bore less features of the mother than the father. " It got more blood from her father," said Anding, our caretaker. I named our future sow Turik, meaning multiple spots. We built a pen for Turik to protect her from the sun and rain, and from other animals. Feeding and watering troughs were made for easier work. Twice the local veterinarian came to give Turik immunization.

I missed Takong, I never saw a sow build a nest again. ~

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

A Child's Symphony of a Fantasy World

Dr Abe V Rotor 
Living with Nature School on Blog
 Mackie on her first birthday

A garden of the finest art on stage
of fairy tale and  fragments of a garden lost,
where nature to fantasy land transposed.
How short, how far nature lies!
From here the task begins to know
that roses have thorns. ~  

Quotations my father taught me early in life

Dr Abe V Rotor
"Nature never betrayed the Heart that loved her." - William Wordsworth

1. "Happiness is one commodity that multiplies by dividing it."  Anon 

2. "A place for everything and everything in its place." Anon

3.  "He begins to die who quits his desires." 
G Herbert

4. "Just as tall trees are known by their shadows, so are good men known by their enemies
." Old Chinese Proverb 

5. "If the official is himself upright, the people will play their roles without orders.  If he is not upright, even under orders the people will be disobedient." Confucius

6. "It's is always darkest just before the day dawneth."  Thomas Fuller

7. "He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has."  Epictetus
8. "Great men cherish excellence; petty men, their comfort.  Great men cherish
rules, petty men, special favors." Anon

9. "Poor minds talk about people; average minds about events; great minds about ideas." Anon 

10. "Shall I tell you what knowledge is?  It is to know both what one knows and what one does not know." Confucius 

 11. "The eyes believe themselves; the ears believe other people." German Proverb

12. "The life of every river sings its own song, but in most thje song is long marred by the discords of misuse." Aldo Leopold

13. "The mind unlearns with difficulty what it has long learned." Seneca

14. "Impossible is a word only to be found in the dictionary of the fools." Napoleon 

15. The first step to knowledge is to know that we are ignorant."

16, When the state is most corrupt, then the laws are most multiplied." Tacitus

17.  A little learning is a dangerous thing." Alexander Pope

18. "A picture is a poem without words." Horace

19. "If you need a physician, employ those three - a cheerful mind, rest, and a temperate diet."  Zimmerman

20."To read without reflecting, is like eating without digesting." Burke

Humor and wit brighten your life in gloomy weather

Learn and practice the art of telling jokes 
Dr Abe V Rotor

Making a tree laugh 
The art of telling stories that are humorous and witty, jolting people from their seats, or simply breaking the ice, so to speak, is an art. It disarms people from bad mood, lightens the load of daily grind, and makes them share their own jokes and wits as well.     

On waking up and find yourself a millionaire
Five Filipinos were discussing what they would do if they awoke one morning to discover that they were millionaires. 
  • The Cebuano said he would build a big cockpit arena.
  • The Manileño said he would go to Las Vegas and have a good time.
  • The Palaweño said he would build an island resort. 
  • The Ilocano said he would deposit the money in the bank and live on its interest.  
  • The Boholano said he would go to sleep again to see if he could make another million.
Why does a captain go down with his ship?
A soldier who lost his rifle was lectured by his captain and told he would have to pay for it. 
"Sir," gulped the soldier, "Suppose I lose a tank, will I have to pay it, too." 
" Yes, you will, even if it takes your whole life in the army." 
"Now I know why a captain goes down with his ship." 

Honesty really pays
Two friends were riding a bus and had just reached their destination.  At the station one of them realized she hadn't paid her fare. Confessing to her friend she asked, "Did you pay for me?"  To which her friend wryly answered, "No."
"Well, I'll go right up and pay."
"Why bother? That's just a small matter, and you were able to get away with it."  
"I believe that honesty always pays." And virtuously she went to see and pay the conductor. 
She returned holding a fifty-peso bill.  "See, I told you honesty always pays!"  "I handed a twenty-peso bill and he gave me this change." ~ 

Time and space 
"The distance between Manila and New York is the same as from New York to Manila." Explained one of three friends.  
"Well, not when you come back on the other side of the globe." 
"What do you think, Jon-Jon?"
 "I dunno; its just a week from Christmas to New Year, but is it a week from New Year to Christmas?" 

Just the same
"If you have your life to live over," the prominent octogenarian was asked, "do you think you'd make the same mistakes again?"
"Certainly," said the old man, "But I'd start sooner." 

Memory lapse 
"Have you forgotten that 500 pesos I lent you a month ago?"
"Not yet, give me time." ~ 

In his Sunday mass homily, the priest told the faithful, "As I look around, I ask myself, 'Where are the poor?' "
"But when I look at the collection, I say to myself, 'Where are the rich?' " 

A five-letter word is the real problem

A five-letter word,
not enemy, not study,
not bored, not birth,
neither dying nor death;
wanting around the world 

in springtime or autumn,
in dark days or sunny -
this five-letter word;
craved by everybody 
none other but money.~ 

Author with his students at UST; children in frolic. 

Activity: Write down jokes you can recall.  They should be witty, clean and meaningful. Avoid vulgar jokes. Compile them into a collection or book. 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Watch Out for Organisms Gone Wild

Dr Abe V Rotor 
Living with Nature School on Blog 

Progeny of African wild bee with domestic bee poses danger for their aggressive nature and poisonous sting.
The house sparrow (Passer), now cosmopolitan in distribution, invades homes, parks, farms, including high rise buildings. While it is pest in farms and gardens, it is also nature's housekeeper being predator and scavenger.

Organisms even when domesticated still carry their wild genes. What is the implication of this scientific fact?

I have known pets that bite their masters. There are wild animals even if they were taken cared of the movement they were born, turn out to be killers. The killer instinct is dictated by their genes that enabled them to survive in the wild. That is why it is not advisable to pet cubs of tigers and lions.

Certain plants exhibit wild traits, too. The white bean, bred to become bushy to facilitate cultivation and harvesting, may revert into its viny character to evade ground grazers. Patani or Lima bean when left uncultivated grows wild and fends itself from feeders by producing high tannin.

Here are specific cases to warn us of the dangers of animals becoming out of our control.

• The janitor fish, loved for its ability to clean the aquarium, for which it got its name, is now a pest in Laguna Bay, competing with the edible fish species, such as tilapia and carp.

• Golden kohol or golden snail, imported in the seventies to support the government’s food production program, has turned into a maverick, now the number one pest of rice. More than half of our total riceland (3.5 million hectares) is attacked by this mollusk every planting season.

• The deadly African bees continue to invade and hybridize with domestic bees in the US as well as in other places, transmitting in their genes of high aggressiveness and venom.

• Toad (Bufo marinus), imported for it its predatory habit useful in the biological control of insects has become a pest itself. Because of their poison glands, animals, such as snakes and eagles that feed on them die. They directly compete with other predatory animals. In Australia the toad introduced to control of sugarcane insect pests, has turned into a pest itself.

• Plant lice (Psyla) that wiped out the local ipil-ipil industry was actually introduced into the Philippines with foreign species (Hawaiian and Peruvian ) which we imported in the sixties.

• Erythrina or Dapdap gall wasp has virtually wiped out all over the country this beautiful indigenous tree that bears bright red flowers in summer. The wasp was introduced with the coral tree, a dwarf Erythrina introduced some years ago by local ornamental enthusiasts.

• There are reports of animals escaping from their confines and threatening our safety. At one time when I was accompanying my students on a field trip on Mt. Makiling, a plant nursery technician warned us to keep watch for cobra which allegedly escaped from the laboratory and  reproduced with the local species.

• The tree ant, Oecephala smaragdina, allegedly a hybrid of an introduced species with our native hantik (ammimisay Ilk.), has become a nuisance. They build their nests in trees and bite when disturbed, making pruning, harvesting and other farm operations difficult.

. The thorny Opuntia which was introduced in Australia by plant enthusiasts, became a widespread problem of ranchers. It took another insect, a scale insects, to destroy the maverick cactus.

. A species of Caulerpa, similar to our lato or ar-arusip Ilk), has spread extensively on the ocean floor of the Mediterranean. Caulerpa produces caulerpin, for which its genus was named, which causes the death of fish and other marine organisms.

Next time you plan to introduce an animal or plant not native to the place, get the expert's advice. Get in touch with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), and other research institutions.