Thursday, July 28, 2016

Old Bridge across Banaoang Pass


Abe V Rotor 


Old Bridge across Banaoang Pass in acrylic (60" x 41") by the author. Courtesy of Dr Laurence (Rencie) Padernal), April 29. 2012

Past your golden age, three generations have passed, 
     Once in your prime, and also was mine; 
The world over the horizon across your span, I sought 
     For dreams the sweet goal of time. 

While across your other end leads to home, sweet home, 
     For loyal sons and daughters in homage, 
Returning to childhood memories, to peaceful repose, 
     Gateway indeed you are to every age. 

And in between, fleeting were the years, but never 
     Lost - dream fulfilled, or never was - 
Matters but little in your own world, bright and windy, 
     As the sun rises through the Pass. 

And if a lonely soul comes to your world, gazes around 
     And high, the strength of the towering 
Rocks, the sharp, gentle slopes of green and golden
     In their pristine - they're Nature blessing. 

From the cliff down the ravine, the great divide 
     Of the rugged Cordillera, surrenders 
To a mighty river born in a fertile valley, gathers 
     Strength as it flows and meanders. 

You are their peacemaker and guardian, oh, bridge - 
     And rather than a bridge of sigh, 
You tame the wind; you tame the river, the mountains, 
     And every day countless passersby. 

Bearing their weight and their load uncomplaining, 
     Their pain and joy of going and returning; 
And seeing yonder farmers and fishers in their work - 
     All’s well ‘til the sky sent the river roaring. 

Now it is your time to rest, the wind, river, and mountains 
     And I, to bid you goodbye in the setting sun; 
But your ruins rise a monument seen by all and from Above, 
     Where once a boy with dreams crossed your span. 







Presentation and unveiling of the painting to the birthday celebrant 

Quirino Bridge is named after President Elpidio Quirino, a great Ilocano leader. It spans across the mighty Abra River passing through Banaoang Pass, and joining the towns of Santa and Bantay both in Ilocos Sur province. The bridge survived a recent strong typhoon but was soon retired and replaced by a new bridge. Its beauty however, cannot be equaled.



Twilight view to the East, source of the mighty Abra River
Sunset view to the West where the river empties to the South China Sea

Cirrus clouds over the Cordillera Range; promontory partly blocking the bridge's view to the West. 

Placid river in summer, fisherman on raft steers for home before dark.
Exuberance of youth meets sunset on the edge of Banaoang Pass, as the Cordillera turns to amber and the Abra River to emerald. ~

13 Researches pave new uses of plants (Part 1)



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 AM Band, 8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday [www.pbs.gov.ph]

This article is reprinted in memory of the late Professor Eduardo de Leon of the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Santo Tomas. These 13 researches were conducted during his administration as head of the Department of Botany, with the author as thesis adviser. This post is also dedicated to the thesis students who are now professionals in the fields of medicine, education, science and technology. UST Pharmacy Garden; symbol of pharmacy




These researches explore the vast uses of plants as food and source of useful products for pharmacology and industry. They offer alternatives to natural healing as well as in tapping the hidden wealth of plants as antibiotics, elixir and many other uses.

1. Yes, you can grow pechay and tilapia in an aquarium.
Del Rosario L, De La Calzada GR, Javillonar C, and V Roquero
This research is based on palay-isdaan, an indigenous practice in low lying ricelands where rice and fish naturally grow together during the monsoon months. Thus, the researchers experimented on growing pechay (Brassica chinensis) in an aquarium medium, which can at the same time sustain the normal growth of tilapia (Tilapia nilotica). The result promises another aspect of urban green revolution where hobbyists can combine the growing of fish in home aquarium with the production of vegetables. The idea may be the answer to having fresh and safe food supply for the home and neighborhood, and in maintaining a balance aquarium with lesser cost.

2. Beware of Ganoderma food supplement
Africa MA, Abulencia HM, Bautista A and AM Bebanco


This shelf fungus comes as food supplement, mainly as pre-packed coffee and tea, and advertised in several names. White mice fed freely with the raw fungus died after a few days. Even those given with limited amounts showed adverse physiologic effects like loss in weight, thinning of hair, and progressive weakness. Many died after two or three weeks. The results indicate that the fungus has toxic effect. It will be recalled that among the most poisonous materials occurring in nature come from fungi, the classical example is the Amanita mushroom which when mistakenly eaten by humans can cause instant death. There is no known antidote of mushroom poisoning. At minimal dosage however, not exceeding 10 mg per 1 kg body weight, the test animals gained weight faster than those not given with Ganoderma. Thus the researchers recommend judicious use of the food supplement, as it may be deleterious to health contrary to the claims of its manufacturers and distributors.

3. Make your own Marker Ink from Mayana
Galang E, Cu MV, Constantino A and C Flores

Marker inks or colorants come in bright green, pink, blue and in different hues and shades. They are used to highlight keywords and sentences, terms or simply for arts and graphics. Commercial highlighters as these markers are commonly called, are imported from Japan, US, Germany and China. Local brands make use of imported colorants. Mayana (Coleus blumei) is a colorful annual plant, dominantly red, maroon, green pink, yellow in various patterns and combinations. The researchers extracted the pigment using volatile solvents. Comparing the different cultivars of mayana, they came up with two dominant colors. Flesh to brown color appeared to be the best among the colors tested. Drying time compared to the commercial brands is the same. The researchers recommend other possible plant colorants such as Carissa, duhat (Syzygium) and bright petalled plants like Hibiscus.

4. Is it true that Caulerpa seaweed eaters live healthier and longer lives?
Chua AG, Fancubit AL, Flores F and MR Liwag



Ilocanos in particular, who love to eat lato or ar-arusip are known to enjoy healthy and long lives. Is it a myth? The researchers found out that this green seaweed sold commercially in two species, C. lentelifera and C. racemosa, possess antibiotic properties. Raw extract has been found effective in destroying bacteria, such as Pseudococcus and Escherischia coli, common pathogens causing human ailments. Aside from this property, Caulerpa contains caulerpine that to many people has relaxing effect, but excessive intake of the vegetable may cause dizziness. It is the only known edible seaweed that causes this symptom. This active principle may be tapped for its tranquilizing effect.

5. Alginate from Sargassum can increase the shelf life of fruits
Tumambing K, Santok G, Seares A and V Verzola

If you happen to be walking along the beach those dry brown seaweeds washed ashore could bring in a lot of profit, not only as source of algin and alginic acid which are extracted for food conditioner and for industrial use. The researchers found out that by extracting the alginate substance by ordinary means, the extract is effective in delaying the spoilage of fruits such as mango, papaya and banana. The extract is diluted 5 to 10 percent with water before the ripe or ripening fruits are immersed, then allowed to dry. The alginate compound leaves a coating on the fruit that delays ripening from two to four days, at the same time protects it from microorganisms that cause rotting and spoilage.

6. Makabuhay and Neem tree extracts are effective in control cockroach (Periplaneta Americana)
Tenorio RW, Nudo L, Roxas R and AC Uichanco



Neem tree

Macabuhay (Tinospora rhumphii) is a liana that grows in the wild. Previous experiments proved that its extract is effective in controlling common rice insect pest and the golden kuhol. Could it be effective in controlling the tough and elusive cockroach? The same question was raised on Neem (Aziderachta asiatica), known as insecticide tree that was introduced into the country from India in the sixties. According to the researchers, extracts of both plants proved effective as direct spray on cockroach. Comparative effectiveness showed that the diluted extract of makabuhay gave a higher mortality that the pure extract, indicating the synergistic effect of water solvent, but only for makabuhay. Neem extract at low level dilution is more effective than that of makabuhay at the same level. While synthetic chemical sprays are more effective than these herbal extracts, the advantage of the latter is their being safe to humans and the environment and does not leave toxic residues.

7. Rat Poison from the Seed of Botong (Barringtona asiatica)
Perez R, Dela Cruz K, Rivera M and J Santos

If botong (Barringtona asiatica) is effective as fish poison, could it be effective as rat poison just as well? The researchers found it to be effective, but the problem to lure the rodents to eating the bait is a problem. This is because of the shy nature of rats and their oliphagous characteristic that is they eat a wide range of food under natural field condition. When starved rats may consume any available food and this may include poison baits. The advantage of using plant poison is its safe nature to humans and the environment. Presently used compounds include arsenicals, anticoagulants under the brand names Dethmor, Racumin, Dora, and the deadly “1081” a zinc phosphide compound which is now banned in the market.

8. Botong (B. asiatica) is safer poison against fish pest
Dequina MJ, Castro JC, Limtin R and J Patawaran

This is the rational of the experiment: Is there a safer compound than synthetic pesticides to clean up fishponds in order to eliminate fish predators at seeding time? It is a known practice among fishpond owners to use Malathion, Endrin, and other chlorinated hydrocarbon, as well as phosphate
compounds to eliminate fish such as tilapia, dalag, and Poecillia after harvesting a fishpond. These remaining fish pose danger as predator of bangus fries raised in the next season. The researchers found out that the extract of botong seeds (Barringtona asiatica) is an effective substitute. Like other plant extract, it is environment friendly and leaves non-toxic residue to the incoming fries and fingerlings.

9. Antibiotics from papaya seeds
Casas JM, Cadiz RI, Calvelo AM and MC Cremen

With the increasing resistance of bacteria to the group of Penncilium antibiotics, scientists are looking into more potent antibiotics. Modern antibiotics however, are expensive and are not readily available particularly in the countryside. But natural antibiotics abound in nature. One such source is the ordinary papaya, specifically the native or solo variety. The researchers claim that the papain in papaya has an antibiotic property and the most likely part where the active compound is concentrated is the seeds, which are thrown away for no use except as propagation material. The seed oil is potent against both gram negative and gram positive bacteria, such as Staphylococcus. . This explains why papaya is a health food. Although the oil has also shown anti-fungal effects, the researchers recommend further studies in this aspect. They also recommend further studies in the preparation of the seed oil as antibiotic drop or ointment.




10. Mosquito repellant from bottle brush (Salix sp)


Clemente R, Landan RP Luquinario MI and P Padua

If there is a way to rid mosquitoes from attacking us without net or special paraphernalia, it is that advertised “Off” mosquito repellant. But the commercial products are synthetic compounds and reports claim that they are carcinogenic affecting not only the skin but internal organs as well since poison can be absorbed by the skin and into the blood stream and other tissue of the body. The researchers collected the volatile oil of the weeping willow which is also known as bottle brush for the formation and shape of the leaves. With ethyl alcohol as solvent, the preparation was tested against house mosquitoes (Culex pipens) in the same manner as the advertised commercial product is used. The results are positive.


11. How good are commercial organic fertilizers as claimed by their manufacturers?
Olivenza CR, King A, Reyes CJ and A Young
There are a number of organic fertilizers in the market manufactured from various raw materials. As such there is no standard set particularly for their nutrient content. They are advertised with various advantages which the researchers in this study say only by experimentation on at least one plant indicator can resolve – pechay (Brassica chinensis). The results of the experiment are varied and therefore support the theory that organic fertilizers in the market do not have standard effects on the growth and development patterns on the test plant. The researchers believe that fortification of organic fertilizers with chemical fertilizers improves the formula and helps solve nutrient deficiency.


12. Bunga de Jolo is a potential bacteriocide.
Villaluz MC, Enebrad K, Garcia R and V Guzman

Vetchia merillii, a palm relative of the bunga (Areca catechu) was found to have a unique potency against the bacterium, Bacillus proteus as well as others pathogens causing infection. Direct extract from the seed showed potent inhibition against the test organisms, a feat the control (Penncilium type) failed to show. This explains the usefulness of bunga de jolo as a substitute of Areca in the absence of the latter. Both produce nuts, which are used by older people for mastication with or without the betel leaf and the occasional lime that goes with the preparation.

13. Common moss as a practical source of antibiotics
Nabong W, Aquino M, Orlino C Ramos J and H Sumabit

The common moss often used in its dried form as substrate for orchids has a puzzling characteristic. It resists rotting and does not arbor the breeding of microorganisms that are pathogenic to the orchid. From this observation coupled by the fact that indigenous people use dried moss to cover wounds and skin diseases, led the researches to conduct an experiment on the antibiotic properties of mosses. The results are positive to bacteria causing skin infection, but the range of antibiosis has yet to be determined. The researchers recommend that further studies be conducted on methods of extraction, other than the use of ethanol, in isolating the active principle which is the key to the antibiotic property of mosses. ~


Banaba Tree (Lagerstroma speciosa)

Graduate students study the uses of Selaginella as antibiotics.

Retrieving researches from old files - how valuable are their results today? (Part 2)


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 AM Band, 8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday [www.pbs.gov.ph]

Author's note: These researches were conducted at the former Eco Sanctuary and biological laboratory of SPUQC.  They withstood the test of time.  They were conducted ten to fifteen years ago by students pursuing BS Biology at St Paul University then a college. Researches such as these however significant they may be, usually end up in dusty shelves and cabinets, or lost forever. 

Perhaps a review of these may lead us to find their application today, and to offer opportunities for further research. Ironically there are now fewer researchers in this field, and the quality of research has greatly declined. This is a general observation in many schools.       


It is not the intention of research alone to prove a theory or hypothesis; it is equally valuable in disproving it as well, in erasing false beliefs and providing the basis of decision and judgment to conflicting opinions.

Thesis adviser, Dr Anselmo S Cabigan examines  living specimens on a tree trunk.

     Paradoxically, as we move by leaps and bounds with scientific and technological progress, we cannot help to look back at conventional values and tradition. For example, more and more people are craving for native varieties of plants and breeds of animals, rejecting or adamant accepting genetically modified organisms (GMO).

       People are willing to pay premium for food grown with organic matter instead of chemical fertilizers, fruits and vegetables which did not receive chemical spraying, meat and poultry which are free of residual antibiotics, and fish bearing no trace of toxins carried through the food chain.
A. Natural Pesticides and antibiotics

      Suha (Citrus maxima) and tanglad (Antropogon citratus) can be formulated into an insecticide against common houseflies (Musca domestica). As a spray solution prepared from one ml of the volatile oil extracted from these plants to one liter of water, it is effective against adult flies. The flies were killed within one to one- half hours after direct spraying. 1/

     The search for alternative antibiotics as answer to the dwindling potency of conventional penicillin group antibiotics brought researcher back to the drawing table, this time to take a second look at plants growing within reach of the common man.

     A decoction of garlic (Allium sativum) at 40 gm per 100 ml water was found to inhibit the growth of Staphylocccus aureus, a bacterial pathogen that causes infection of wounds. While the area of inhibition (antibiosis) under  laboratory condition is lower than those obtained with the penicillin and Prostaphlin, two commercial antibiotics, ( 2.25 mm versus 2.7 and 3.31 mm respectively), still garlic is recommended as a home remedy because it is safe and practical. 2/    

    A follow-up research on the antibiotic properties of guava, (Psidium guajava) proved the efficacy of the decoction of its leaves (250 ml of the extract to 1 liter water) in controlling the bacterial pathogens, Staphylococcus aureusEscherichia coli, S. typii, and S. dysenteriae.3/

     Another potential antibiotic against diarrhea is mayana (Coleus blumei). Under laboratory condition using the nutrient agar medium, a decoction of mayana leaves, at 75g per 100ml, can effectively control S. aureus and E. coli. The local remedy is more effective on S. aureus which is gram-negative than on the gram-positive E.coli. The efficacy can be compared to those Omnipen and Ampicillin, two commercial antibiotics.4/

     Can we identify plants which posses certain medicinal properties, such as diarrheal, without subjecting it to the conventional laboratory procedure? Initial experiments using thin layer chromotography  established positive indications on the antidiarrheal property of guava (P. guajava), camito (C. cainito) and avocado (P. americana). More advanced chrommatography can now be used in improving this technique. 5/

     The use of anesthetic substitutes is not new. Even when I was young, I knew from experience that ikmo (Piper ikmo), a climbing plant growing in the backyard, when chewed, deadens the taste bud as well as soothes toothache. I witnessed a dentist in Bolinao, Pangasinan, use ikmo as local anesthesia in tooth extraction. A ball of ground fresh young leaves of guava was later administered to seal the wound to stop the bleeding. An experiment was conduct at SPCQ using Indonesian queen (Justicia genderusa) and Bulacan wonder (Cleome viscosa) as topical anesthesia.
    
     The extract of these plants can be made into ointments that are applied to aching joints and muscles. Although the test was made on white mice, it was able to establish the basis of a potential formula. Equal proportion of the dried leaf extract of either plant with petroleum jelly. The extract is prepared by first drying the leaves before they are ground. Ethyl alcohol is used as solvent, and because it is volatile, it leaves behind powder sediment that is the dry extract itself. A stronger dosage may be formulated for faster and longer anesthetic action. 6/
    
     On the village level, fresh extract is made by simply macerating and grinding the fresh leaves. The sap is recovered by straining the juice with a fined one-shade piece cloth. It is allow drying with the aid of the ethyl alcohol before it is blended with petroleum jelly. Fresh extract may be used and massaged over the effected parts of the body with coconut oil. Cleome was found to have a higher anesthetic action.

B. BT is Insect Specific

     I had the chance to work on Bacillus thuringensis way back in the early sixties. However, it was only in the eighties that the microbiological agent, a bacterium discovered and developed in Thuringen, Germany, became a biological control agent against moths and butterflies. It is also effective in controlling insects outside order Lepidoptera?

     Dr. Anselmo S. Cabigan, professor in biology at the SPCQ and former director for research of the National Food and Authority, tested BT on other major insect pest. two BT preparation were made- as spray and bait – and tested on the common housefly ( Musca domestica) of the Order Diptera. The BT inoculant was developed following a protocol named after the author.7/

     At one percent concentration, either as spray or bait, mortality rate reached up to 44 percent of the housefly larvae (maggots) treated. Since the site of the experiment is an open poultry house, subsequent generations of flies followed during the experiment. The study however was inadequate to determine if BT can effectively carry out a continuous and sustaining epidemic on the entire population of the pests irrespective of the life cycle of the organisms and stage of generation.

     Earlier researches proved the effectiveness of BT on fruit fly (Dacus dorsalis), a major pest of mango and other fruits. The pathogen killed mostly maggots in their early stage. Both bait and spray methods of application were effective with the former having a slight advantage. 8/

    Does BT work on stored grain pests? This time the experiment was on weevil, order Coleoptera. tested BT on Lesser Grain Borer (Rhizopertha dominica) just as in   the previous experiment, the inoculants were derived through the same Protocol. The preparation at 1 percent concentration (inoculants in dried papaya pulp medium) with road dust was applied to stored rice with the assurance by DOST that BT has no harmful effect applied directly with stored grains. Result: BT cannot control the Coleopterous pest. The explanation is that beetles are protected by thick exoskeleton and the moisture in the grain is too low to activate the Bacillus spores. 9/

      Similarly BT was applied on a stored corn grain to protect it from infestation. To the question, "Can BT serve as protectant against possible insect pest?” Arabella Caralde, BS biology 1998, came with up a negative result. Again, this is because BT spores can remain dormant under highly dry condition. Stored corn grains, like rice, contain average 14 percent moisture, fluctuating very little under ambient condition.

     Next was a test on the effectiveness of BT against American Cockroach (Periplaneta americana), a cosmopolitan household pests inhabiting kitchens and dirty places. Again, the result obtained was negative. 10/

     Dr. Cabigan and I discussed the result of the BT experiments. We arrived at the conclusion that definitely BT is insect specific. It is designed for caterpillars, the feeding stage of Lepidopterans. The ingested bacterial cells and spores produce toxin that acts in the gut of the insect causing the destruction of epithelial cells and consequently resulting in the death of organisms. Multiplication of bacterial cells continues even on the dead larva. Resting cells are formed and become ready for next round of infection, thus setting the momentum of epidemic, say in cornfields where corn borers abound. As long as condition are favorable for the pathogen, the host caterpillars become “sick” and ultimately die; thus BT can provide long-term protection to the crop.

      Even if the toxin is effective on other insects as demonstrated by the experiment on houseflies, the mechanism of a biological control on caterpillars has yet to be established and proven to be as effective.

      The significance of research then is not only to prove a hypothesis. It is equally valuable in disproving a claim or belief as shown in the BT experiments. BT is not a universal biological agent. It disproves claims on the effectiveness of BT by commercial manufacturers.

                                                     C. Aflatoxin

      Aflatoxin  is a carcinogenic by-product of the fungus, Aspergillus flavus, which invades poorly dried and damaged copra, peanut, and corn and other cereals and seeds. When both man and animals take these products, the toxin may cause cirrhosis of the liver.

     What happens to chicken fed with aflatoxin-tainted feed? The amount of Aflatoxin in commercial feeds is insignificant to affect broilers. Besides, the rearing period (5 weeks) is too short to allow accumulation and expression of the toxin.11/

      For humans however, aflatoxin may accumulate in the liver and the consequence may be detected only after the long period. The suspected sources of aflatoxin that enters the human body are beer (brewed from the aflatoxin tainted cereals), peanut butter (inferior peanut separated from the whole seeds and ground into peanut butter), “moldy” rice, corn and other food. It is no wonder that many beer drinkers are victims of cirrhosis. Personally, I believe that it is not the alcohol that is the main cause because beer contains less than 5% alcohol. It is the grain, like binlid (broken rice), that is the source of aflatoxin. There is little research on aflatoxin in the Philippines todate.

                                                     D. Substitute Tea and Coffee

     Tea from leaves of pandan (Pandanus odoratissimus), sambong  (Ocimum bacilicum) was formulated singly and in combination, and the product was tested through organoleptic analysis. A blend of the three plants gave a superior result, compared to any single formulation. The reason is that certain desirable characters of each component were combined. For example, basil gave the best color, flavor and texture, while pandan gave the best aroma, sambong contributed to the fullness and desirable taste of the composite product. 12/

     In another experiment, Oolong tea (semi-fermented, slightly bitter tea) was prepared from the immature leaves of avocado (Persia americana), banaba (Lagerstroma speciosa), tsaang gubat (Carmona retusa), and caimito (Chrysophyllum cainito ), the contribution of each component was determined by organoleptic test with tsaang gubat giving the desired color, banaba the taste , and  avocado, together with caimito, the texture and flavor proposed is that blending may be modified in order to suit the taste of the drinker.13/

     This is also true with another experiment, this time black tea from sambong, pandan and avocado by Michelle B. Deliguin, The leaves are first withered then airs dried, brewed and made into tea. Sambong gave the desired color, pandan the aroma and avocado texture. An increase in the amount of pandan improved the taste of the blend.

     Coffee substitutes have been the quest of those who have sensitive nerves. Even decaffeinated coffee in not the guarantee to many people. On the farm, we used a number of substitutes such as rice or corn roasted until the color is rich brown. Cacao with coffee may reduce the latter’s effect but this is expensive and cacao is not readily available. Besides, cacao has another nerve-acting property, theobromine, which is even stronger than caffeine acting as stimulant.

     Another substitute which is clandestinely added to native coffee or kapeng barako (Coffea liberica) is seed of ipil-ipil (Leucaena glauca). This is NOT recommended. Ipil-ipil contains mimosin, which retards growth causes baldness. That is why the use of ipil-ipil leaves to animals is limited. Stunted growth (bansot) and loss of hair in piglets are traced to the effects of mimosin.     

Domesticating wild species of mushroom is a challenging research

Coffee from green mungo (Phaseolus radiatus) was developed by an HRM graduate. To remove the bean taste, roasting is done slowly while the pot cover is remove to allow the substance to escape as gas. This procedure is also recommended when using soybeans (Glycine max), Lima beans (Phaseolus lunatus) and others beans belonging to the Family Leguminosae, now Fabaceae.                               

E. Technology Innovations

Can we extract oil by practical means, saving on both expense and time? Dr. Anselmo S. Cabigan led two experiments. The first experiment was the extraction of the oil of chico (Achras  sapota ) by water distillation. Although more oil was recovered with hexane, the commercial method, the distillation process was able to obtain a rich light brown distillate which is intensely sweet in odor, and which met the saponification test, and the free fatty acid analysis. The product is a valuable extract compared to extracts of vanilla, banana, Lemon and the like. 15/  

     Extraction of the essential oil from the peeling of mango (Mangifera indica) showed a similar result. In this case the hexane method produces a clearer extract other than its higher recovery over that of water distillation method, whose process took a longer time to complete. The importance of practical methods adaptable on the farm level in spite of low efficiency need not be emphasized. Distillation of lambanog (Coconut wine) in Laguna and Quezon, may be crude and inefficient, yet fits into the rural setting where investment, technology and tools are limited, notwithstanding the influence of tradition and culture. White cheese production is also crude and simple, so are patis and vinegar-making, and many more locally manufactured products. Innovations to this indigenous method are a big challenge to both scientists and entrepreneurs. 16/

F. Four stages of Research

Scientific research, in general, undergoes three basic stages, namely, conceptualization, · experimentation, and validation.

If it is thesis, the researcher, after completing the attendant academic requirements of his course, receives his diploma, leaving behind his work with his alma mater. Outstanding theses proceed to a fourth stage - publication, which is usually in the school’s research journal.

Research generally undergoes four stages, namely, conceptualization, experimentation, · validation, and publication.

It is the fifth stage – application - that is the most valuable, yet the most wanting and neglected aspect of research.

     The question, “What happens next?” points to the lack of a linkage between research and application. And because of this gap, research works gather dust in libraries, so to speak, and therefore their objectives are not achieved.

Algal bloom depletes dissolved Oxygen and builds CO2 in water leading to fish kill in freshwater and marine environments

G. Pure versus Applied Research
    Of course, the other reason why researches fail to reach field application is that there are researches, which are classified as “pure research” which, by their nature, are not intended to provide the intermediate step to application. “Applied research”, on the other hand, is precisely intended to provide this bridge.

     A good example to differentiate the two kinds of research is the case of red tide, a cyclical phenomenon of marine algal bloom. A thesis, which seeks to identify the poison accumulated in the shellfish host in order to know the composition and nature of the toxin, is “pure research”. But a thesis that is developed out of the findings of this work, if at all suitable, in order to formulate an anesthetic compound out of the poison, is clearly one that belong, to “ applied research”.

     Another crucial reason for the inapplicability of certain researches is that research proposals do not emanate from the bottom, but from the top. It means they are not gauged on the needs of the people.

     In the Philippines priority should be given to applied research over pure research. This is true to other developing countries where research funds are not only limited, but technological innovations seek practical solutions to problems at the grassroots. Call this people’s research. Before a research proposal is conceived the researcher already must have in mind the felt needs of the people.

     As one professor puts it when asked how we know if a research is good, “it is if intended for the greatest majority.” Of course, it is easier said than done. But anyone who believes in this adage and who has a heart for research is definitely on the right track.~

Alternative medicine principally using herbals such as Oregano, has gained popularity in spite of modern medicine

BS Biology researchers (1993-98) under the guidance of Dr Anselmo S Cabigan, Dr Rosalie Marcelo, Prof Concordia P. Segismundo, among others, including the author.

1/ Julio Rose del Rosario Santos 
2/ Cristina B. Aragon
3/ was conducted by Fatima V. Santiago 
4/According to Rhodora Anna M. Francisco 
5/ Evelyn del Castillo 
6/ Ma. Shiellah D. Giner
7/ Maria Cristina T.Bustos
8/ Michelle D.Gonzales
9/ Kristina Rose D. Contreras 
10/ Lourdes G. Bunuan 
11/ Bernadette Young  
12/ Ma. Cristela M. Antonio  
13/ Liliibeth F. Abalos 
14. Carmelita C. Mendoza, HRM  
15/ Peachy M. Villanueva 
16/ Myla E.Quinto,

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Pioneers in Biology in the Philippines



Our pioneer biologists may not have cracked the gene, but definitely they have in their own quiet and humble ways brought honors to their race and profession. Most important of all, they have improved the lives of millions of not only Filipinos but other people around the world through their genius, efforts, dedication – and selflessness.

Dr Abe V Rotor
 Living with Nature School on Blog [avrotor.blogspot.com]
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School-on-Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio738 DZRB AM Band, 8 to 9 evening class Monday to Friday

Dr Domingo Tapiador (left), UN-FAO biologist, father of Spirulina, a one-celled protein, with veteran journalist Dell H Grecia, and the author. 

This article was written soon after the completion of the Human Genome Project (HGP) was announced by then US President Bill Clinton. Which in part, I said

"While the world celebrates the greatest discovery of the new millennium - the cracking of the genetic code - let us turn our thoughts to our own biologists. May their pioneering spirit in the development of biology in the Philippines be brought closer to our youth for them to look into the great potentials of biology as a career."

Updating this article will come a long way, and may not suffice, much less complete. Nonetheless it is a humble effort to give our due respects and honor for the achievements of great Filipinos.

More so today that we are facing a crisis in food, among other problems worldwide and locally, mainly the result of runaway population, environmental degradation exacerbated by climate change, and rising affluence of living. Governance is changing its face and conduct as shown in the current Arab Spring, worldwide low employment, global warming, increasing incidents of natural and man-made disasters.

To remember these great men and women of our own race - were they alive today - we would not hesitate to ask how they can possibly help? We ask the same to the living, and we pose it as a challenge to our youth today.

Our situation in the Philippines is a lament. It is irony because we have the resources - physical and human, yet we lag behind in food production on one hand, and the preservation of the environment, on the long term. Maybe the next thing we ask is when will we be able to keep up with our neighbors, and with the world.

Originally these are the scientists mentioned in the original article posted in this Blog in 2009.

Eduardo Quisumbing is author of Medicinal Plants of the Philippines, still the most popular reference in this field. It is dubbed the “bible of medicinal plants.” It is used in schools, barangay and at home.


Leon Ma. Guerrero (1853-1935), the father of botany in the Philippines and one of the first Filipino pharmacists, formulated medicine and drugs from 174 plants in place of synthetic drugs which were not available then. When President Emilio Aguinaldo ran out of ammunition, he formulated an explosive derived from plants. It proved to be a good substitute of gunpowder. It was later named Guerrero Powder. One of the ingredients the author discovered is the hard seed coat of cashew (Canarium luzonicum).

Maria Y Orosa (1893- 1945) is well known in the field of food preservation. She introduced innovations in salting, marinating, and pickling, and the like, and made home economics and food technology household terms. So simple are her techniques that they can be adopted at the grassroots. They are also friendly to health and the environment.

Hilarion Lara (1994-1987), an epidemiologist, advocated environmental sanitation in the control of cholera, typhoid, measles, dysentery and diphtheria, and was awarded the title of National Scientist. His fame , but his fame gained international acclaim.

Manuel Ma. Guerrero (1877-1919) succeeded in controlling infantile beri-beri together with Dr. Juan Salcedo (1904-1988), then chairman of the National Science Development Board, who formulated a special vitamin against beri-beri for all ages. Their works contributed to saving millions of children all over the world down especially at the village level from this scourge.

Alfredo Santos (1900-1979), one of the founders of the National Academy of Science, and national scientist, discovered paheantharine from plants as treatment of high blood pressure.

Candido M. Africa (1895-1945) succeeded in determining the causes of heart failure and how it can be prevented.

Arturo B. Rotor (1908-1993), is the first Filipino allergist. He served as Executive Secretary of President Manuel L. Quezon, and President Sergio Osmena. Dr. Rotor discovered a rare disease of the renal system which was named Rotor Syndrome, now recognized in all medical schools and hospitals here and abroad. Dr. Rotor also wrote a column, “Confidentially Yours, Doctor,” written in simple and plain English for people to understand the doctor’s lingo. A number of orchids he discovered were named after him.

Antonio Ejercito spearheaded malaria control, while Sixto A. Francisco (1890-1959) fought tuberculosis with a method he developed with the use of BCG vaccine.

Anastacia Giron Tupas (1890-1972) upgraded the nursing profession. She is our own Florence Nightingale, the founder of the nursing profession.

Fe del Mundo (1907- ) institutionalized the treatment of children. Among her inventions are an incubator for babies, and a devise in relieving jaundice.


Nemesio Mendiola (1890-1983) is the country’s counterpart of the American “plant wizzard,” Luther Burbank. He was responsible in breeding high yielding rice, corn, sugar cane, and a host of horticultural crops, including fancy plants. Have you seen kamote (sweet potato) varieties with yellow, violet and blue tubers? He bred the spineless kenaf from the wild thorny native variety and became the source of fiber for commercial jute sacks.

Deogracias Villadolid was professor in zoology and served as critic of the author’s masteral thesis in freshwater ecology. Dr. Villadolid, a marine and fresh water biologist, is best remembered for introducing tilapia (Tilapia mozambica and T. nilotica) into the Philippines in the fifties. The fish became adapted to local conditions and is now the most popular fish, surpassing bangus, our national fish.

Julian A. Banzon (1908-1988) developed alternative fuel from coconut and sugarcane. With millions of cars running on alcogas in other countries, we have yet to tap Dr. Banzon’s formula for our local cars.

Felix D. Maramba Sr (1898- 1990?) harnessed biogas from animal waste. His project, Maya Farms in Rizal, is the most popular model in the country for small and medium size biogas generator. Like LPG, the gas collected and processed from piggery waste is used for the kitchen and in generating electricity. It became a model of its kind in the world.

Angel S. Arguelles (1888-1988?) developed fertilizers and pesticides to increase plant yield. These alternative farm inputs can save the country of precious dollars that is otherwise spent on imported farm chemicals, which by the way, are deleterious to health and the environment. His formulations set the foundation of organic farming.

Gregorio Velasquez is the father of phycology, the study of algae, which include the seaweeds. Today the culture of certain seaweeds, like Eucheuma, Gracillaria and Caulerpa, constitutes a multi-million industry. Seaweeds are used as food and raw materials in medicine and industries. Micro-algae like Spirulina and Chlorella are among today’s growing health food.

Gerardo Ocfemia is the father of plant pathology in the Philippines. He is best known for discovering the cause of cadang-cadang, a pandemic viral disease of coconut. He was responsible in the identification and control of many other plant diseases in the Philippines.

Dioscoro L. Umali (1922-1992) was dean of then UP College of Agriculture, before he assumed one of the highest posts occupied by a Filipino in the UN as regional head of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for Asia and Pacific. His works in plant breeding, education and research won him the National Scientist award.

Salvador M. Africa, a chemist, made glass from sugarcane bagasse.
Anacleto del Rosario discovered natural mineral water, better than the manufactured mineral water we use today.

Of course, we recognize the greatest Filipino who ever lived, the hero of our race, Jose P. Rizal. Rizal was a biologist, agriculturist and wildlife conservationist, even while he was in exile in Dapitan. Among his discoveries is a winged tree lizard, which was later named after him, Draco rizali.

Here is a list from the Internet our National Scientists affiliated with UPLB.

Eduardo Quisumbing published the first ever book on medicinal plants in the Philippines and authored more than 129 scientific articles published here and abroad. While director of the National Museum, Quisumbing undertook restoration of the Herbarium which was completely destroyed during World War II.

Dioscoro Umali specialized in rice, corn, abaca and mussaenda breeding. His research paved the way for the launching of programs of rainfed and upland agriculture, social forestry, environment conservation and rural poverty. He was appointed dean of the College of Agriculture in 1959. National Scientist.

Francisco Fronda helped develop Asia's poultry industry, devoting over six decades of his life to teaching, research and extension. In recognition of his pioneering contributions, he was cited as the "Father of Poultry Science in the Philippines" by the Philippine Association of Animal Science in 1980 and "Father of Thai Poultry Industry" by the Crown Princess of Thailand in 1982.

• Julian Banzon was among the first to do research on coconut as a renewable source of fuel and chemicals. He also devised novel processes, noteworthy among these is the extraction of residual coconut oil by chemical, rather than by physical processes.

Clare Baltazar discovered eight types and one subgenus of Hymenoptera. She also published the first authoritative book on Philippine insects which laid the groundwork for future biological control in the country.

Benito Vergara is a rice scientist and author of "Farmer's Primer on Growing Rice" which has been translated in over 40 languages. He also developed IRRI’s Rice World Museum during his term as director for Administration.

Bienvenido Juliano authored or co-authored over 370 scientific papers on rice chemistry and quality and edited and contributed to several chapters of the 2nd edition of the American Association of Cereal Chemists (AACC) monograph "Rice Chemistry and Technology" in 1985, wrote "Rice Chemistry and Quality" for PhilRice in 2003, "Rice in Human Nutrition" for FAO in 1993, and compiled IRRI quality data on world rice. He is the only Filipino on Thomson/ISI's list of highly cited researchers.

Carmen Velasquez discovered thirty-two new species and one new genus of digenetic trematodes from Philippine food fishes, two from birds and five from mammals; nine life cycles of trematodes of the family Transversotrematidae, Echinostromatidae, Notocotylidae (2), Plagiorchidae, Heterophyidae (2), Microphallidae and Philophtalmidae. She also discovered two new species of nematodes from Philippine fishes and a new species of Capillaria from the intestine of man, as well as a new species of parasitic copepod in Glossogobius giurus (Goby). Her works are archived at the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Dolores Ramirez is known for her work on the genetic systems controlling the makapuno endosperm of coconut, the genetics of chemical resistance factors against Cercospora kex leaf spot and the cytogenetics of the hybrids of rice with related wild species.

Jose Velasco did research on various areas of plant physiology such as mineral nutrition, photoperiodism, chemical weed control and plant growth in general, which served as the basis of crop production management practices and has set the direction for future research. He is also known for his research on cadang-cadang disease of coconuts.

Pedro Escuro helped develop, isolate and release nine Seed Board rice varieties: Milpal 4, HBD-2, Azmil 26 and C-22 (upland) and C-18, C4-63, C4-137, C-168 and C-12 (lowland).

Gregorio Velasquez, known as the "father of Philippine phycology", made the first intensive study of the local Myxophyceae or the bluegreen algae and devoted at least 30 years of productive work in the study of Philippine algae.

Ricardo Lantican's research on southern leaf blight saved the American corn industry in 1969. He also helped develop a new plant architecture in mungbean combined with resistance to Cercospora leaf spot, which increased yield levels in Asian farming systems and initiated varietal improvement of legumes in the Philippines in the 1960s, producing more than 20 varieties of mungbean (CES and Pag-asa series), soybean and peanut, some of which are commercially planted and used as parental types in international breeding programs.

Asuncion Raymundo conducted studies on microbial genetics and implemented numerous research projects or studies funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, UNIDO and the Australian Centre for International Agriculture. She has published over a hundred technical articles in refereed journals and proceedings, both local and international. She is currently dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Teodulo Topacio, Jr. did research on leptospiral disease of domesticated animals, which may provide the foundation for institutional control measures for these ailments. His studies on the transmission of the disease from pigs to humans have enabled veterinarians to produce antibiotic therapy that also reduced spontaneous abortion caused by the disease among pregnant pigs.

The author had the opportunity working or knowing the following scientists who belong to the "old school." It is indeed a rare and distinct privelege.


  • Fernando de Peralta – Botany
  • Fortunato T. Basilio – Animal Science
  • Juan P. Torres - Agriculture
  • Santiago R. Cruz – Agriculture
  • Jose Capinpin - Agriculture
  • Juan Aquino – Soil Science
  • Domingo B. Paguirigan - Agriculture
  • Fortunato T. Basilio – Animal Science
  • Romeo Rejesus – Entomology
  • Ricardo P. Sevilla – Veterinary Medicine
  • Eulalio P. Baltazar - Agronomy
  • Romeo Alicbusan – Mycology
  • Francisco Fronda – Animal Science
  • Martin S. Celino – Agronomy
  • Francisco B. Claridad – Genetics
  • Alfredo D. Dean – Entomology
  • Vito F. Del Fierro, Jr – Animal Science
  • Leopoldo T. Karganilla - Entomology
  • Emiliano Roldan – Plant Pathology
  • Rufino Gapuz – Animal Science
  • Emil Javier – Genetics
  • Clare Baltazar - Entomology
  • Ramon Valmayor – Agriculture
  • Gavino Trono - Agriculture and Phycology
  • Juanito Reyes - Agronomy
  • Fortunato Basilio - Veterinary Science
  • Vicente Villegas- Animal nutrition
The author also expresses his admiration to the following Filipino scientists in the academe, research institutions and in the field. Together with other scientists, they belong to the “contemporary school of biology.” Among them are Reynaldo A. Tabbada (botany), Paciente Cordero (marine biology), Romualdo M. del Rosario (Botany), Ruben Umaly (Genetics), Crisanto EscaƱo (agriculture), Carmen Kanapi (Genetics), Mamerta R. Rocero (ethnobotany), Alice Claustro (Botany), Anselmo S. Cabigan (Biology), Irineo Dogma (Microbiology) and Lydia Joson (microbiology), Delia Ontengco (microbiologist) Lilian J Sison (chemistry), Peter Ng (medical doctor and biologist), Carlos Garcia (chemistry). The author likewise expresses recognition to scientists in the other fields of natural science, particularly in chemistry and physics.

These ten major biological research areas pose a challenge to the youth of today who may take interest in becoming scientists mainly in the field of biology.

1. Biotechnology
2. Marine biology
3. Climatology
4. Human longevity
5. Effects of pollution
6. Endangered ecosystems and species
7. Exobiology and Space biology
8. Natural food and medicine
9. Pandemic human diseases
10. Gene therapy

Now that the genetic code has been broken, we are embarking into new fields of science and technology heretofore unknown to man - and into the mystery of life itself, a subject that has long defied man’s knowledge.

The mapping of the 46 chromosomes of the human species and the 50,000 or so genes that they hold may have taken us a leap forward into knowing the key to life. But even if we shall have finally identified the specific role of each gene in relation to health, behavior and intrinsic qualities, we would still be in quandary whether this discovery will make life any better, happier and well-lived.

As we look back, our pioneer biologists may not have cracked the gene, but definitely they have in their own quiet and humble ways brought honors to their race and profession. Most important of all, they have improved the lives of millions of not only Filipinos but other people around the world through their genius, efforts, dedication – and selflessness.

May this article serve as a simple expression of our respect and gratitude to these and many other great Filipinos who equally deserve recognition.

x x x

NOTE: We'll be happy to receive more names of famous Filipino biologists and include thm in this continuing list. AVRotor