Thursday, August 27, 2015

Ecology Mural: The Sea on a Wall

"There is, one knows not what sweet mystery about this sea, whose gently aweful, stirrings seem to speak of some hidden soul beneath." - Herman Merville, author of Moby Dick, a novel about the saga of a great white whale.

Mural Painting by Dr Abe V  Rotor
 Living with Nature School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School on Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB 8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday
Panel A - Creatures of the Deep  
Panel B - Mangrove and Coral Reef 

Full view of the mural (6ft x 30ft)

The Sea on a Wall 

It is the sea of Ernest Hemingway, author of a prize-winning novel, The Old Man and the Sea, where a very old man caught the biggest fish in his life;

It is the sea of Moby Dick, a novel by Herman Melville, where a mad sea captain sought revenge against a great white whale, and lost at the end;

It is the sea of Rachel Carson, whose award-winning books The Silent Spring and The Sea Around Us started an environmental movement;  

It is the sea of jacques Ives Costeau  French  explorer, filmmaker, who co-developed the Aqua-Lung, who pioneered in marine conservation. 

It is the sea of Charles Darwin that brought him to study Nature around the world for four years, and led him to formulate today's principle of evolution;  

It is the sea Christopher Columbus crossed, umcharted and perilous, and with strong determination and deep conviction discovered the New World.

It is the sea that other great voyagers crossed in search of new land and treasures, and territories they conquered from indigenous inhabitants;

It is the sea where life began some two billion years ago, and the cradle of early life forms that evolved into both terrestial and aquatic forms;
It is the sea that covers three-quarter of the earth's surface, and whose depth puzzles man more than its breadth as to what lies deep, deep below;    

It is the sea where land creatures went to live in the sea, and sea creatures became land dwellers, save the amphibians, certain fishes and reptiles;   

It is the sea that makes our planet habitable, the prime mover of vital processes such as the water cycle the precursor of  life, and link of land and sea;      

It is the sea that provides the route of human migration and integration, of trade  and culture, and the artery globalization in our postmodern times;

It is the sea that is the source of great inspiration to the Humanities, from painting (Turner's Storm at Sea) to music (Claude Debussy's La Mer);

It is the sea that steels and hones our character, humbles us, deepens of love and respect for one another, and  brings us closer of our Creator.   

A pair of Blue Whales (Balaenoptera musculus) representated in scale with humans.
The blue whale is a marine mammal belonging to the baleen whales. It feeds on krills (tiny shrimps) by the tons sieved by
a filter-feeder system inside its mouth. At  30 metres in length and 180 tonnes or more in weight, it is the largest extant animal and is the heaviest known to have existed (bigger than the dinosaurs). Almost driven to extinction in the 20th century, the number has increase to about 5,000 to 12,000 blue whales worldwide today, thanks to various conservation programs. 

Old shipwreck lies at the bottom of the sea, reminiscent of sea tragedies in the past, and fiction stories like Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. The giant octopus (kraken) adds legendary flavor to this children's favorite adventure story. The wreck is virtually unrecognizable and is now part of the sea, a manifestation of nature's superiority over man, and demonstration of homeostasis, that everything goes back to Nature.   

Full view of the dreaded kraken, the giant octopus that nearly sank Captain Nemo's proto-submarine. The kraken and its kin rule the coral reef and is almost intelligent in human standard -  crafty and master of mimicry and camouflage. Close to the kraken is the living fossil, Nautilus,  after whom Captain Nemo named the first submarine.    

Species of pelagic (free swimming) fish in schools are attracted at the photic zone where the sun nouirishes the seaweeds and planktons, so with many other marine organims that make up food chains and the food web. Sunlight passes through the water like a prism, the red and warm colors dominating the shallow depth while the blue and cool colors penetrate the deepest, up to a hundred meters. The photic zone is the richest in biodiversity in the open sea.  .  

Left: Kugtong or giant lapulapu awaits for potential preys at its domain. The female can reach a size of 100 kgs. Right: Coelacanth, a primitive fish thought to have become  extinct 40 million years ago has been discovered in the craggy seafloor of Madagascar.  Its fins and tails bear traces of the once bony appendages of its fossilized ancestors. Its secret of survival may lie on its isolation in the deep but studies show cooperation with other organisms like anemones, arthropods and echinoderms (such as red crabs and starfishes in the mural) has certainly played a major part.  
  Mangrove is nursery and abode of many organisms at the estuary, the zone where the river meets the sea.  Here a juvenile shark rests in the entangled roots, trumpet fish lie vertically with the reeds.  The root system is home to barnacles, mussels and other sessile organisms.  Detritus is trapped here, so with silt that otherwise flows out to sea.  It is the end of land and gateway to a vast marine environment, an intertidal zone. Bubbles from interchange of  gases continuously evolve. 

 The mural provides a make-believe scene under the sea that is enjoyed by viewers,  specially the children.

Forest Cathedral: A Place for Reverence to Life

Dr Abe V Rotor 

Forest Cathedral in acrylic (30" x 48") by the author 2015

It is a place where the spirit of a sacred and noble bird* returns to the home of its ancestors and kin and tells the story of man, the rational, the wise, self anointed guardian of creation, yet in many ways cruel, uncaring, and cold;

It is a place where a stream is born from the watershed of trees, shrubs and lianas, gathering rain that falls anytime in the day and night, dewdrops from mist and fog, spring water from aquifers and water stored under the ground;

It is a place where the life-giving sunlight casts over the vast canopy of the forest, seeps through the foliage and nourishes the undergrowth, the epiphytes and lianas, and over the forest floor to wake up the sleeping seeds and spores;

It is a place where the "lungs of the earth" give off oxygen in exchange of carbon dioxide, condenses clouds into rain, keeping the integrity of the water cycle that is vital to all living things, and to our economy, health and welfare;

It is a place where threatened and endangered organisms find refuge, and given time and chance to restore their number into sustaining population levels, e become capable of living again freely and openly with other species; 

It is a place where leaves turn gold to orange and red come every fall, showering confetti and building litter on the forest floor, home of a myriad of living minutiae that convert organic materials back into elements for the next generation;

It is a place where new and unknown species have yet to be discovered before they disappear with the destruction of their habitats, where other secrets of nature are revealed, and medicine and other useful materials are developed; 

It is a place to see animals otherwise reared as pets or caged in zoos live free: colorful parrots in lovely pairs, flying lemurs glide across treetops,  kalaw or hornbill perched on high trees, tigers training their cubs, eagles ruling the sky; 

 It is a place to listen the sounds of nature traced to different organisms like the shrill of cicada at summer's end, croaking of frogs in the rain, shrieking monkeys at play and abandon, sonorous call of hornbills, slithering sound of reptiles on the move;

It is a place where naturalist Edward O Wilson formulated the principles of socio-biology; where Henry David Thoreau wrote a treatise between man and nature, Walden Pond; where Jean-Henri Fabre studied insects known as entomology; 

It is the setting of beautiful stories and music: Francisco Baltazar's Florante at Laura, Jack London's Call of the Wild, Robin Hood, and many stories for children; Beethoven's Pastoral, Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture and Jean Sibelius' Tapiola;

It is a place where we pay homage to the home of our ancestors, before they set out onto the grassland where they hunted, and later built communities and institutions leading to the creation of human societies, and ultimately nations. ~

*Lost national treasure, Philippine eagle Pamana (heritage) shot and killed within its sanctuary  in Mount Hamiguitan, a UNESCO heritage site on August 16, 2015. It is one of the few remaining members of the species, formerly Philippine monkey-eating eagle. 

Details of painting

A pair of parrots; Pamana,  Philippine eagle
Young adventurers on a forest stream, a pair of parakeets, a pair of tarsiers
A pair of Philippine deer; a pair of flying lemurs

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A Landscape of Life

Dedicated to the Holy Father, Pope Francis, on his visit to the Philippines, January 2015
A landscape that lifts the curtain and opens a horizon on which each one of us passes but once, an experience more than destiny and eternity.
Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog 
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM Band, 8-9 evening class, Monday to Friday

A Landscape of Life in acrylic (2' x 5') by AVRotor 2014, showing details.

landscape that gains back clarity and focus, though slowly, from strained vision of light and shadow, fast moving cars and blinking screens;

A landscape that gets frayed nerves back to function in reflexes governed by the conscious and unconscious mind in peace and harmony;

A landscape that restores freshness and purity of the primary colors, and expresses the full colors of the rainbow with the hand, paint and canvas;

A landscape that makes forests lush green, distant mountains blue, trees in autumn in hues of yellow to red, and the sky azure as the deep sea;

A landscape that brings back consciousness to watch migrating birds in the sky, fish in the stream, and a drop of pond water teeming with life;

A landscape that sets the biological clock attune with the passing of seasons, and to understand the mystery of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring;

A landscape that is courageous to face force majeure and patient enough to bear the brunt as the landscape gains back its health and beauty;

A landscape that witnesses the transformation of a swamp into grassland and woodland in an orderly fashion that spawns biological diversity;

A landscape that establishes niches and bridges of past and present, tradition and modern, living and the non-living in Rousseau’s scenery;

A landscape that soothes noise into joyous sound, bleating and thunder as part of a Beethoven’s composition, chirping a language of praise;

A landscape that releases us from confinement in Plato’s Allegory to face the realities of the world, which is the essence of education;

A landscape that is viewed with the power of the mind, heart and spirit, be it real or abstract - yet it gives meaning to reverence to our Creator;

A landscape that lifts the curtain and opens a horizon on which each one of us passes but once, an experience more than destiny and eternity. ~ 

Dead Tree Walking

"I came from Paradise lost,would you walk with me?"

Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature - School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid with Ms Melly C Tenorio

738 DZRB AM, 8 to 9 evening class Mon to Fri

Limb of a dead tree resembling a headless
human figure, EspaƱa, Manila 2007

I am the ghost that walks
from a forest before;
I am the conscience of man
sleeping in its core.

I am the memory
from the distant past;
lost among the throng,
living in the dust.

I came from Paradise lost,
orphaned by the first sin;
the hands that cared for me
can't now be seen.

I long for a heaven, too,
a gift of being good and true,
but if heaven is only for man,
I did serve him through.

But I am a ghost now.
Would man join me for a walk
to tell the world the story
of a once mighty oak tree? ~

Dirge of a Dying Creek

Dr Abe V Rotor 
Living with Nature School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM Band, 8-9 evening class, Monday to Friday
The afternoon sun casts an aura of the creek's once beautiful state with trees and shrubs lining its banks. Now the creek is virtually dead - biologically. Note highly polluted water and dumped quarry materials blocking the natural waterway. (Parallel Aurora Blvd, QC)  
Balete or Strangler's Fig clings on an adobe rock cliff.
Views of middle stream, and upper stream to the east. The creek is now an open sewer, ugly, obnoxious 

Outgrowth extends over the creek as if to hide its pathetic condition and man's indifference from public view, 

Just across the creek to the north lies a man-made pond of the Oasis - serene and aesthetic, except the foul air of Carbon Dioxide, Hydrogen Sulfide, methane, ammonia and other gases, being emitted by the nearby creek
Dirge of a Dying Creek                   
Once upon a time, so the story goes, clouds gather 
from the sea and land, cumulus to nimbus,
falling as rain, drenching the trees and grass and all,
and down the lake and river and field it goes. 

I was born this way, like my kin, many miles away,
children of Pasig River, seat of a civilization,
the artery of vast Laguna Lake and historic Manila Bay,
and I, a tributary of this magnificent creation.     

I lived in the stories of Balagtas the poet laureate,
in Rizal's novels, Abelardo's Kundiman song,
I throbbed with the happy heart of a living system,  
like the Rhine, Danube, Nile and Mekong.

I am part of history, obedient to man and nature's will,
I gave him clean water and fish, I sang lullaby;
laughed with the children at play under my care,
through generations and time sweetly went by. 

Seasons come and go, the story goes on - ad infinitum -
but where are the birds that herald habagat?
where have all the children gone after class, in summer?
reflection on my water, green carpet on my rock?

I am dying, dear mother, I long for you and my kin,
I choke with debris, laden with waste matter,
my banks are no more, concrete walls have taken over,
I am dying mother -  but my mother doesn't answer;  
my mother doesn't answer.  ~    

A Dead Tree Cries to Heaven

A Reflection on Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato Si

 Dr Abe V Rotor 
Living with Nature - School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM, 8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday
Haunting skeleton of a once beautiful, mighty tree, QC 

I cry to heaven, for I have done something in life worth living; I gave food and oxygen and shelter to humans, and many organisms - tenants and symbionts, under my care for the many years of my existence, season after season;

I cry to heaven for the peace and quiet I provided, the coolness and freshness of the surroundings I shared with neighbors, visitors and passersby, now lost and forever gone, and I, I am but a silhouette of past memories;

I cry to heaven, for I once represented many a great tree in history and literature like the oak tree under its shade Abraham Lincoln studied law, the tree on which the Robinson Family built a house, the Banyan tree that houses a temple in India;

I cry to heaven, for didn't I catch the rain and store water in the ground and feed the streams and rivers, catch the sun's energy and make food and many products by the wondrous process of photosynthesis that make a living world? 

I cry to heaven, for didn't I find a place in an ecosystem in which I played my part well in the flow of energy, in the food web, and interrelationship with other ecosystems necessary in maintaining dynamic balance humans call homeostasis?

I cry to heaven, for didn't I make children happy climbing my branches, playing hide and seek on my limbs; soothe the pains of the sick, lonely and old with fragrance and whispers of cool breeze; cushion noise into silence and music?

I cry to heaven, on behalf of my dead brothers and sisters, my forebears and my progenies, countless of them, that met the same fate as mine, by the very hands of the "guardians of creation," anointed or self-proclaimed;

I cry to heaven, on behalf of humans starving, sick and dying, in spite of the abundance of products my kind make, humans who fail to learn or respect the ways of nature, who abuse her to satisfy their

insatiable greed and lust;

I cry to heaven for justice, more than human justice can fathom, more than the norms of ethics and morality of a civilized society, more than the proselytizing of the pious and the "pure at heart" profess in dignifying human life and existence;

I cry to heaven even if I am but a tree, insignificant and unknown in this wide world, and now that my time has come to claim a place as humans believe in the afterlife, I just would say thanks to my Creator, for making me an instrument of love. ~

The Scream of Nature

In line with Pope Francis' Encyclical Laudato Si*
Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School on Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio

738 DZRB 8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday
Laudato si' (Medieval Central Italian for "Praise Be to You") is the second encyclical of Pope Francis. The encyclical has the subtitle On care for our common home.  In it, the pope critiques consumerism and irresponsible development, laments environmental degradation and global warming, and calls all people of the world to take "swift and unified global action" thus described by Jim Yardley, writing for The New York Times.

The original German title given to the work by Munch is, Der Schrei der Natur (The Scream of Nature). The Norwegian word skrik usually is translated as scream, but is cognate with the English shriek. Occasionally, the painting also has been called, The Cry.

In his diary in an entry headed, Nice 22 January 1892, Munch described his inspiration for the image:

One evening I was walking along a path, the city was on one side and the fjord below. I felt tired and ill. I stopped and looked out over the fjord—the sun was setting, and the clouds turning blood red. I sensed a scream passing through nature; it seemed to me that I heard the scream. I painted this picture, painted the clouds as actual blood. The color shrieked. This became The Scream.

This memory was later rendered by Munch as a poem, which he hand-painted onto the frame of the 1895 pastel version of the work:
I was walking along the road with two friends – the sun was setting – suddenly the sky turned blood red – I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence – there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city – my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature. (Wikipedia)

Scream of Nature

I hear nature scream from a lost eagle,
      owl hooting, starving on its roost,
playful swallows thinned out of their flock,
      watchful crows abandon their post.

I hear nature scream in a dying river,
      brooks that laugh with the rain
no more, so with children fishing then,
      rivulets in melodious strain.

I hear nature scream from the raging sea,
      rising and falling on the coral reef,
the shores exploding, melting in foam,
      in muffled cries of pain and grief.

I hear nature scream - oil spill!
      too late the fish and birds to flee;
black death blankets the tidal zone;
      fire is kind to end their agony.

I hear nature scream to the chainsaw,
      trees shrieking as they are felled,
stripped to logs like bodies in Austerlitz
      their stumps in Flanders Field.

I hear nature in the church praying
      to save trees on Palm Sunday;
to rebuild lost Eden for all creatures,
      for a Heaven here to stay. ~