Saturday, March 28, 2015

Let's save the palm trees this Palm Sunday.

Let's plant trees instead and take good care of them. 
Dr Abe V Rotor

The Christian world loses millions and millions worth of palm trees every Palm Sunday.  Coconut-based economy is the worse hit - the source of export of many products, and the foundation of people's livelihood. The coconut is the most important tree in maintaining the balance of tropical ecosystems.  

Palm Sunday - the Day After 

Let's join hand to save the trees  
  • Don't use young (bud) leaves of coconut for palaspas. You will kill the tree.
  • Conserve the Oliva or the Cycads. They are living fossils, older than the dinosaurs. They are now endangered.
                                        Oliva or Cycad, a living fossil is now endangered. 
  • Don't strip the young leaves of buri and anahaw palms. They are now in the list of threatened species. 
  • Get only the mature leaves - never the young leaves or bud. Get only a small leaf or part of it. Don't be wasteful. 
  • There's no need for each faithful to carry palaspas. One for a whole family is enough.
  • Get substitute plants that are not ecologically endangered and economically threatened. (Examples: MacArthur's Palm, palmera, Areca or betel nut, bunga de Jolo, and 101 non-palm plants from bamboo to ground orchid). Use mature or older leaves - never the young leaves and buds.
  • Seek advice from your community and religious leaders, and environmentalists.

  • Let's cite some popular religious practices, irrespective of denomination, and find out if they are favorable or not - and why.
• Fasting is cleansing, it helps the body stop the accumulation of unwanted substances such as cholesterol, and allows the body to eliminate toxic materials.

• Retreat and reflection is therapy, helps the mind and body release tension and do away with the effects of stress.

• Abstinence conserves animal population especially during the lean months, conserving breeding stocks - like seeds (binhi) – in order to multiply in the next season.

• To some religions pork is banned. Pork is a carrier of known parasites such as tapeworm, hookworm, and ascaris.

• On Palm Sunday trees are stripped off of their buds, leaves and stems. This is detrimental to the environment especially in summer when plants face tight water regime. Millions of pesos worth of coconut trees, potential to provide nuts continuously for a period of up to 30 years, are simply sacrificed for a day's ritual. Endangered species such as the Cycad (Oliva), are pushed to the brink of extinction.

• Ancient religions regard certain places and trees sacred, thus enhancing their conservation. Such worship was replaced by later religions, thus losing their protection.

• The washing of feet is not only ritual, it is also sanitation, getting rid of germs and preventing their spread.

. Avoid dipping your fingers into the holy water bowl, and never wash your hands or face in it. Running holy water is best.

. Take communion on your palm, never with your tongue. Epidemic such as H1N1 (flu) can be spread this way.

Holding hands in prayer is discouraged also for health and sanitation, keeping ones privacy in reverence, notwithstanding. Kissing icons is likewise discouraged for the same reason. Wiping holy objects with handkerchief will only pick up germs.

. Paying last respect to the dead should be done with extreme care, especially if the cause of death is highly contagious like anthrax, Ebola and SARS. Remember the tragic death of some religious sisters who contacted Ebola from their dead colleague?

. Don't walk on your knees to the altar; kneeling in prayer is enough. Be kind to your knee tendon and kneecap; knee injury may incapacitate you permanently. "You re not growing younger," an elder advised me. Let's learn from athletes who retired early because of knee injury.

Removing shoes before entering a house of worship is an expression of respect and reverence, as well as for purposes of maintaining sanitation in the place. Any footwear carries dirt and germs, and may be teems with bacteria and fungi from long and intimate wear. This practice may not be as strict in Catholic churches as in Muslim mosques and Buddhist temples. Removing shoes in other places like prayer rooms, wakes, even homes, are becoming a popular practice.

. Many religious ceremonies are without the use of incense. Incense smoke and scent usually produce a pleasant and calming effect to the faithful. It is also an effective fumigant against flying and crawling insects. Its repellant effect helped keep down the spread of bubonic plague during the Middle Ages. The causal organism which killed a third of the population in the known world is carried by flea (Xenopsylla cheopis) that resides in rats. Incense comes in various preparations and offerings, candle sticks among the most common. Burning candles have similar but lesser effects. To get rid of flies around food, plant one or two burning candles to keep them at bay. Try it.

Sprinkling holy water with lotus flower before entering the Buddha Shrine. (Grand Palace, Bangkok)

Candle offering is often wasteful and dangerous. It also makes the place untidy. A lighted candle in an enclosed room reduces oxygen level while filling it with CO2 and the deadly Carbon Monoxide. (Our Lady of Manaoag Shrine, Manaoag Pangasinan.)

NOTE: I invite the readers to list down other religious practices - favorable and not - and send them through Comments. It will indeed enrich this article.

Proof of destruction on the altar of faith could be as evident as after a typhoon and other force majeure on the economy and environment.

The Return of the Mangrove

Photos and Poem by Abe V Rotor 
Acknowledgment: JBLFMU Ecological Park Ecological Park, Nueva Valencia, Guimaras Island.

Ode to the mangrove

You are Nature's pioneer
between land and sea,
halting the sea
from moving to land,
and land to sea;
being her referee,
she has set you free.

AVR (Light in the Woods)
 Board walk made of bamboo takes the visitor into the heart of the mangrove swamp.

Breathing roots or pneumatopores  of mangrove stick out at low tide; brace and prop roots cling to the muddy bottom; old leaves decompose into organic matter or detritus.

Mangrove seedlings

Deer now extinct in the island stands as stone monument.  

Stone crocodile is a reminder of its presence in the island a long time ago; charred remains of a mangrove species, probably Brugiera or Ceriops 
Field Study: Participants to the 20th annual conference of the Philippine Society for Educational Research and Evaluation (PSERE) May 10 and 11, 2012, representing some 20 universities and colleges in the Philippines, visit the ecological center in Nueva Valencia, Guimaras.  Research towards Sustainable Development is the theme of the conference.

Fifteen Reasons I Love the Mangrove 

I love the mangrove for building a natural wall against tidal waves and tsunami, at the edge of the sea; 

I love the mangrove for providing a nursery for fish and other aquatic life, weaning them to the open sea;

I love the mangrove for rip-rapping the shores and banks against erosion, and building soil in the process;

I love the mangrove for its rich biodiversity - flora and fauna, protists and monera - in chains and webs;

I love the mangrove for filtering the salt and dust in the air, and buffering noise into sweet sound;  

I love the mangrove for the legends and tales it holds - of fairies and mermaids, of pirates and treasures;  

I love the mangrove for its unique life cycle - self-regenerating, self-fertilizing, needing no cultivation; 
I love the mangrove for the countless valuable materials it gives, from timber, to firewood, tannin, to medicine;

I love the mangrove for keeping the surroundings cool, freshening the air, absorbing carbon in the air;

I love the mangrove for its mixed stand of vegetation by layers, making a distinct forest of its own kind;

I love the mangrove for being the home of migrating birds coming and going every season of the year; 

I love the mangrove for being the home of rare species, heretofore barely studied and identified;

I love the mangrove for its resistance to pollution, and ability to help nature's housekeeping;
I love the mangrove for its being a natural tourists' attraction, field laboratory, and educational center;

I love the mangrove for its humility and persistence, even in a most hostile  environment;

I love the mangrove for what it is, without it, there are species that cannot survive, humans among them. 

I love the mangrove for being part of creation, for every living thing has a purpose on earth. ~ 

The Lovable Pandangera Bird

Who are considered naturalists. Are you one of them? Discover this wonderful field of study as a pastime, a hobby, or just simple therapy. Take the outdoor with a camera, pencil and pad, and a positive view of life. Why don't you take your family or friends along?
Abe V Rotor, photos by Mark Gene Rotor
(Sony Cyber-shot optical zoom 4x)

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

Friendly fantail or pandangeraRhipidura albolimbata. Side and rear views of the nesting bird on the lower branches of a mango tree at home in San Vicente, Ilocos Sur. (Holy Week, 2011)

Intricate weave of nest made of fine plant materials and cemented with silk from spider web. Nest is securely perched at the fork of a branch where predators find it hard to reach. The nest proper is cuplike, tidy and smooth, while the lower part is roughly made and freely hanging to provide camouflage and counter balance.

She came singing in crispy telegraphic notes,
and dancing in foxtrot, her tail like a fan,
fanning, closing like shutter, and opening
again, and spreading like peacock's tail,
this Maria Kapra children call for fun.

In our native tongue she is 
all for her manners neither wild
 nor tame;
wagtail to some, but unnamed and unknown
to the citybred, and those on the move,
who miss her song, her ways antic yet mild.

She rides on animals and preys on pests,
earning a name, the shepherd's companion,
and dares close to people to share their food
with a mate - what a happy pair they make!
and in their nest culminates their union.

She has a bit of Gabriela, though coy as nymph,
Storm the Bastille she fights with her mate -
feline or man, 
until their young are weaned.
Triumph fills the air with lesson to learn

To buoy the world from its sinking faith. 

Dare to kill the lovely pandangera -
like killing a mockingbird* is shame;
to silence the happy and gay, the symbol
of peace, friendship with farmers and children -
is a toll for Nature's beauty and fame. ~

*To Kill a Mockingbird, a novel made into a movie.

Some Features of the Fantails or Pandangera

  • Fantails are small insectivorous birds of southern Asia and Australasia belonging to the genus Rhipidura in the family Rhipiduridae.
  • The colours of most species are greys, blacks, whites and browns, although a few species have yellow or even striking blue feathers. In most species there is no sexual dimorphism in plumage.
  • They are highly active birds, continuously on the move; even when perched they continue to rock back and forth, spin 180° on the spot, wag their tail from side to side or fan and unfan it. In flight they are highly agile and undertake highly aerobatic and intricate looping flights.
  • Most of the species are small, about 15 to 18 cm long, aerial feeders,hunting insects on the wing, but they also concentrate equally on terrestrial prey.
  • In some species the tail is longer than the body and the wings. When at rest the tail is folded, rounded at the tip, but when spread it assumes a characteristic fan shape that gives the bird its name.
  • Most fantails are sedentary and undertake no migration. They have a wide range of habitats, prefering rainforests, thickets and lately agricultural and urban environments.
  • Fantails are territorial and aggressively defend their territories from conspecifics (other members of the same species), as well as other predators. I am a witness to a pair of fantails attacking a cat trespassing under their nest on a balete tree at UST Manila. The incident happened at dusk as the cat was about to climb the tree.
  • Male and female share in nest building, incubation and chick feeding, and in defending their young and territory. I have read that fantails also employ a defense strategy with the female distracting a potential predator by feigning injured and luring the predator away from the nest, while the male attacks the predator repeatedly until it moves away.

Living with Nature, AVRotor; acknowledgment: Wikipedia

Friday, March 27, 2015

Philippine Narra Blooms in Summer

Dr Abe V Rotor

Narra - Pterocarpus indicus - is the Philippine national tree. Its wood is highly prized for furniture and construction material. Its cutting is totally banned. The tree grows to 33 meters nigh and 2 meters in diameter with an irregular fluted trunk. Its leaves are compound, pinate, 15 to 30 cms long, ovate to elliptic in shape, with 5 to 9 leaflets per leaf. It blooms from February until May. The flowers are numerous, and in clusters, yellow and fragrant. Fruit is disc-shaped, flat, with winged margins, for which it got its genus name.

There are folkloric uses of narra, among are the following:
- The young leaves and flowers are reportedly edible; the flowers are a good source of honey.
- The young leaves applied to boils, prickly heat and ulcers.
- Infusion of the leaf used as shampoo.
- Used for bladder ailments, diarrhea, headache, stones, sores and dropsy.
- Decoction used as a gargle for sore throats; as an astringent; as a mouthwash for toothaches.
- The resin "kino" has similar actions as tannin and catechu. It is taken for its astringent effect in chronic diarrhea, leucorrhea, blenorrhea and hemorrhages.
- Used as a solution for enemas for prolapse of the rectum and anal fissure.
- Also a source of red dye and a gum.

References: Philippine Medicinal Plants by Godofredo Stuart; Medicinal Plants of the Philippines by Eduardo Quisumbing; and Plants of the Philippines by William H Brown. Photo by Abe V Rotor.

Prayers in Paintings and Praises

Selected Praises:

1.  "In every move we make, never forget that God knows and sees us."

2.  "If I lose myself in You, O Lord, I'd find myself."

3,  "Work done to the best of one's ability is a pleasing offering to Him."

4.  "Self-realization, self-renunciation, self-conquest make one live."

Acknowledgment: Dr Belen Lorezca-Tangco, University of Santo Tomas Publishing House. Copies of the Booklet is available at the UST Bookstore. Architecture-Fine Arts Building, Corner EspaƱa and P Noval Sts., Manila 

Cycle and Synergy

Dr Abe V Rotor 

Monument of Fr Miquel Buenavides OP, founder of UST in 1611.
The church bells are ringing:
Prayer, prayer, prayer in trinity -
Child to man, man’s wandering,
And man’s return to reality;
Rising with the sun and meeting
His Creator and eternity. ~

Wall mural AVR 2000, St Paul University QC
Life is more than the sum of its parts,
It dies as each creature departs;
Synergy its secret of unity,
Its harmony and mystery.

How's my grooming? A self examination

Dr Abe V Rotor

Quite often on the road I read from the rear of a bus or van, “How’s my grooming?” printed bold and clear. Below it is written a telephone number or two you can call. It is a discreet message. If the driver of the vehicle you are following is reckless, you may call the attention of the owner of the vehicle or the government regulatory office.

Corollarily one may ask the same question, “How’s my grooming?” Here is a set of questions to find it out. (True or False)

1. We are judged the way we talked as much as they way we look.

2. It’s all right to cause embarrassment on another as long as it is not your real intention.

3. Pronounce words properly, use correct grammar, follow correct logic and syntax, and refrain from mumbling.

4. It’s all right to be talking about yourself after you have done a great job.

5. It’s all right to ask personal questions from a friend even without first asking permission.

6. There are times you have to ask “intrusive” questions as host of a program to add spice or give more light.

7. It is old fashion to say Please and Thank you. Smile is enough these days.

8. One can be clean and yet untidy, and vice versa. 

9. In fashion and cosmetics, “Excess can be a mess.”

10. Good teeth and fresh breath always go together.

11. Keep your mouth closed when chewing. Take small bites. Eat quickly.

12. Say excuse me when you have to go the restroom without telling you are going there, or to answer the call of nature.

13. Sit and walk straight. Maintain good posture always even at home.

14. Dressing appropriately means you have to be in fashion.

15. Try to make as little noise as possible in all situations – when eating, walking, talking, working, etc. – even in your home.

16. Mobile phone etiquette is chiefly not disturbing others with it.

17. Laugh, smile, giggle, cry with dignity. Do not make a scene.

18. Be interested with people and things around you but be discreet.

19. Grooming is applicable only in formal occasions and places, not in your leisure and privacy.

20. Grooming distinctly separates men and women. It’s gender distinction. It gives dignity to being a gentleman or a lady.

21. One may be fashionable but not well groomed.

22. When one is in his advanced senior years, grooming does not apply to him anymore.

23. People with gender problem find it difficult to adjust with proper grooming. Often grooming result to mere attraction.

24. Never touch another person’s belongings without asking permission.

25. Never assume anything about anyone. Caution, caution.

NOTE: Grooming pets will be taken up in a separate lesson.
ANSWERS: 1t, 2f, 3t, 4f, 5f, 6f, 7f, 8t, 9t, 10f, 11t, 12f, 13t, 14f, 15t, 16t, 17t, 18t, 19f, 20t, 21t, 22f, 23t, 24t, 25t.

24 - 25 You are a model
21 - 23 You are well groomed, no doubt.
18 - 20 More finesse, please.
17 and below Practice makes perfect. Listen more to Paaralang Bayan.

A Lesson in Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid
People's School-on-Air, DZRB 738 KHz AM Band