Monday, August 31, 2009

2009 Ramon Magsaysay Awardees - New Breed of Heroes

Abe V Rotor

The Ramon Magsaysay Award is in recognition of greatness of spirit shown in service to the peoples of Asia. Since 1958 the Award has been given to more than 270 individuals and organizations in 22 Asian countries and territories.

The Ramon Magsaysay Award is the counterpart of the Nobel Prize Award. Like the latter, it epitomizes the common tao the masa, in the words of the late President Ramon Magsaysay, the grassroots where rise greatness in the true sense of the the unknown soldier of change, of peace, of brotherhood, of freedom, of selflessness.

Krisana Kraisintu - Thai. For placing pharmaceutical rigor at the service of patients through her untiring and fearless dedication to producing much-needed generic drugs in Thailand and and elsewhere in the developing world.

Deep Joshi - Indian. For his vision and leadership in bringing professionalism to the NGO movement in India by effectively combining head and heart in the transformative work of rural development.

Yu Xiaogang - Chinese. For fusing social science knowledge with a deep sense of social justice, in assisting dam-affected communities in China to shape the development projects that impact their natural environment and their lives.

Antonio Oposa Jr. - Filipino. For his pathbreaking and passionate crusade to engage Filipinos in acts of enlightened citizenship that maximize the power of law to protect and nurture the environment for themselves, their children, and generations still to come.

Ma Jun - Chinese. For harnessing the technology and power of information to address China's water crisis, and mobilizing pragmatic, multisectoral, and collaborative efforts to ensure sustainable benefits for China's environment and society.

Ka Hsaw Wa - Burmese. For dauntlessly pursuing nonviolent yet effective channels of redress, exposure, and education for the defense of human rights, the environment, and democracy in Burma.

The Ramon Magsaysay Awardees constitute an emerging new breed of heroes our society and the whole world need in these trying times.~~~

Light from the Old Arch 2, AVR

Friday, August 28, 2009

Angelus Verses

Abe V Rotor

Impossible to the old,
I'm-possible to the bold;
Retire for the night,
Re-tire for the might.

It's often told this story:
That which we can't accept,
Upon death, smells sweet -
And sweeter is its memory.

Heavenly fire the clay took form,
Lives his soul after his ash;
Tempered, he survives the storm;
Out of Eden to live with us.

Life lived far from Damascus Way,
Is like little feet that dare stray
Across hedges, and down the bend
Crying, dimming at its end.

Late we rise at the edge of decay,
To herald birth at life's last bend;
"Death be not proud," the sages say,
"It's how we've lived that tells our end."

Living with Nature 3. All Rights Reserved.

Everyday Verses 1

Abe V Rotor

Capture the moment - carpe diem - with a verse, and add zest to living, bring joy and elevate the spirit.

Write your thoughts and ideas, your feelings and experiences. Take time to relax and to meditate. In a year's time you will have a Collection of Everyday Verses.

Here are some verses I wish to share all followers, well-wishers, commentators and inquirers of this blog.

My home, home from the plain -
Battle in work and wandering,
But a family to stand by, sharing
Joy and neither fear nor pain.

Kindness without honesty -
Honesty without kindness -
Peace the duo could harness -

Wall invisible to another,
Behind we refuse to be seen
Of what we are and what we've been -
Let us break it my brother.

A vessel holds water to its brim,
Unless bears a crack at its rim;
As men wish power in their dream
Even if they have lost steam.

A singular aspect we mustn't overlook;
Man from other creatures by having a soul
We call conscious intelligence in the book,
Everything not enough, even the sum of all.

Feelings we may fall short;
Repressed and the water burst,
Rising into waves or froth
Unless our anger dies first.

Denial to anger is its beginning,
If anger is provoked or prolonged
Into depression lost from bargaining -
Not enough, acceptance the saddest song.

Truth we seek, its bulk under;
Iceberg its tip isn't the danger;
Mum we are, inside is anger;
Silence sets us all asunder.

Spear, arrow and bow,
Machines before the plow;
A hunter's life he'd cease
To found a land of peace.

Truth hidden when not needed
May breed lies unheeded;
And wrong a mob embraces
Like a basket full of roses.

To change our ways, hold your peace;
In his dungeon Gandhi prayed at ease;
Bowed on a loom he wove the cloth,
Cloth for the naked, the flag - and both.

Gentle is life yourself you make,
Gentler it is you make for Him,
While life rushes down the stream,
Gentlest still for the young ones' sake.
~ ~ ~

Living with Nature, Volume 3. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Part 1: La Golondrina - The Grandest of All Kites

Kite flying, detail of mural by AVR, 2008

Dr Abe V Rotor

“Steady,” Manong Bansiong held the string and whistled for the wind. Eugene and I raised La Golondrina at the other end and waited for his signal. “Now!”

She took off strong and soared above our heads, above the nearby trees, above the church steeple. It was the most beautiful kite in the sky.

Kites always fascinate me, thanks to Manong Bansiong, nephew of Basang my auntie-yaya. He made the most beautiful and the biggest kite in town. Remote and small a town San Vicente is, we had then the reputation among the neighboring towns for our kites.

Manong Bansiong made different kites: sinang gola, agila, kayyang, – in the likes of bull, bird with outstretched wings, maiden in colorful, flowing dress, and many other designs. His kites were known for their strength, stability, beauty, and agility. In competitions he always brought home the bacon, so to speak. And we kids regarded him our hero. That’s why he was the most popular person in town come kite flying season when the grains in the field turned golden in the sun and the cold wind from the north started blowing. It’s now “burr…,” we would jokingly refer to the “ber” months, starting in September.

“Can you make me a La Golondrina?” I found myself asking Manong Bansiong one afternoon.

Graceful flight of the swallow

La Golondrina or the swallow has a slender streamlined body, and long pointed wings, which allow great maneuverability and endurance, as well as easy gliding. Her body shape allows efficient flight. Her wings have nine primary feathers each, while the tail has twelve feathers and may be deeply forked, somewhat indented. A long tail increases maneuverability, and serves as adornment.

As a child, I loved to watch swallows in flight. And there was something special about them because I discovered their nesting ground in Caniao, a vast watershed on the Western Cordillera range that feeds the wells and springs, ponds and streams, and makes waterfalls tumble into the Banaoang River. I saw the birds comb for food the waters of this meandering river that flows like a huge serpent into the vast South China Sea.

But Caniao had a more practical meaning to us residents; it was the source of free flowing water from the faucet, even with the distance of some thirty kilometers away from the reservoir. So abundant was water that our gardens and backyards were always green. Our wells never dried up. Even in summer it was not hard to draw water by hand or by a lever made of bamboo, we called babatwagan. In the rainy season our wells practically reached the ground, and if you are living near a stream, some fish are lured and get trapped in the well. Where did the bulan-bulan come from? It is a fish that grew to a meter long, how it reflected in the depth of the well when there is moonlight. That’s how got its name. And old folks said the water is kept clean and sweet by the bulan-bulan. I learned later in college that this is true because the fish feeds on morsels and insects falling in the well. It also checks the growth of algae and plankton.

The swallows roost on big trees and one particular bird came close and posed to us picnickers. She seemed unafraid and even sang a beautiful melody. I was reminded on my first attempt to play the violin with a simplified version of La Golondrina arranged by my tutor, Maestro Sta. Maria. It’s a plaintive musical piece which if you close your eyes while playing it, the birds come in a flock, each one presenting itself in a unique way, circling, swaying, rising and falling as if defying gravity, creating prisms against the sun. I like to hear their calls in the language of their own - “git…git…git…” from which they got their name from the local folks.

I stalked to have a good look at the singer as one would like to get close to the stage, but on sensing my closeness, she took off into the sky and soared like a kite in the wind. How swift, how graceful and agile she flew as if she commanded the wind!


Part 2: La Golondrina (Continued)

Abe V Rotor

I thought of many designs of kites: the dragon just looks too fierce and slow; the eagle is too common to most of us kids. A castle kite is not supposed to move around. The more it is fixed in the sky, the better it is appreciated. But there are sudden gusts of wind and it could just fall down like a castle under siege. A lady kite finds it difficult to dance gracefully in strong wind, and she would tumble down when the wind momentarily stops. A clown kite looks dumb; it can’t make tricks, and can’t change expressions as a real clown does.

But my La Golondrina is versatile; she could soar up and down like a jet plane with the least effort, then turns sideward in any direction and returns, repeats the same as if she were on a stage. When one behaves this way you might think she is trying to escape from her bondage. To me it’s not. She is not struggling to free herself; rather she is courting the viewer to train his sight to a place only she could tell. Too far, too high, I supposed.

Actually La Golondrina is a difficult design of a kite to make. But Manang Basiong was a real expert. He won’t back out at any kind of kite especially if it is for a contest. He always wanted his kite to win.

“When will be the contest?” He asked in our dialect.

With that statement and a kindly smile I knew Manong Bansiong would make my La Golondrina. “Yehay!” I could not help keep it a secret and soon everyone knew it and anticipated the big event.

The day of the contest came. There were many kites from our town and nearby towns. Vigan, the capital of the province had the most entries and the biggest kites at that. There were designs of airplanes, eagles and dragons, huge and colorful; they dominated the sky. But my confidence did not sag.

Then our turn came. La Golondrina appeared unique. She was not really very big. All eyes were on her. I asked my brother Eugene to help me carry her across the field while Manong Bansiong held the string at the other end.

“Farther … some more,” he signaled. “Stop.” He paused and whistled a few notes. It is a technique in kite flying. Release the kite at the moment a strong breeze comes. We waited for the precious wind.

Then it came. It was a gust of wind that came all the way from the North. It is the wind of Amihan, the season we harvest our rice crop, when farmers build haystacks (mandala) that look like giant mushrooms dotting the landscape. Mandala and kite with golden fields at the background make a favorite subject in painting landscapes. Rural landscape is the favorite subject of our own national artist, Fernando Amorsolo. I had his Harvestime, framed as a school project. Many local stages have painted backdrops of such rustic scene where zarzuelas were presented during town fiestas. To us kids, kite flying is the happiest time of the year. It was also a season of catching dalag, hito, ar-aro trapped in receding ponds and basins of ricefields where we played kites.

“Steady now,” Manong Bansiong shouted, and Eugene and I raised La Golondrina and waited for the signal. “Now!”

She took off strong and soared above our heads, above the nearby trees, above the church steeple. Our town mates and my classmates rallied. They followed her ascent, and clapped, coaching to the top of their voices. “Up, up. Go up some more! More! More!” She mingled with the other kites, bowing here and there, sometimes flying close to the dragon or eagle, and to the airplane kites in some kind of greeting. How beautiful and courteous she was! So I thought.

Manong Bansiong let the string glide on his hand, making a crispy whistling sound as our kite continued to rise. Now it was higher than any other kite. It appeared as if it were the smallest of them all, and one won’t recognize her if he did not see her first on the ground. Beyond the blue Cordillera lay the home of this beautiful bird watched and waited. I could see Caniao in the distance; it was right straight to where the wind was blowing.

La Golondrina hovered steadily like a duchess in the blue sky. I wondered at how she looked at us down below. I just imagined we were also just specks on the ground, and if my T-shirt were not red, she would not be able to distinguish me from the many spectators.

Then the unexpected happened. The string broke! La Golondrina was adrift. She was flying free, and she was not coming down. Instead, she went farther up, riding on updraft that joins the wind blowing from the sea to the mountains. Everyone was silent. All eyes were focused on the ill-fated kite. Soon it was but a dot in the sky. No one could tell what was going to happen.


Part 3: La Golondrina (Continued)

Abe V Rotor

Manong Bansiong rolled the remaining string back into its cage. “She didn’t get much string.” He muttered. My first impulse was to run to where she would most likely land. “No,” he said, catching me on the shoulder. I was left alone. All the kids had joined the chase.

I remained dumbfounded, agape at the wide, wide sky. Time stood still. There was a deafening silence. Nothing seemed to move. Not even the remaining kites.

La Golondrina was swallowed up by a dark cloud and the cloud was heading for the mountains, as it often does, momentarily becoming part of its top like a veil or a blanket. During Amihan the cloud is high and thin, the characteristic of stratus and cirrus clouds - thin and high because the wind is cool and dry. It is the wind on which ride migrating birds in the North go down South, and return only in the dry season, many months later. This is what my father told me whenever I pointed at migrating birds in the sky. But for birds of La Golondrina’s kind, he said, it is just time to nest in their home ground.

With that thought, I said, “She’s going home.” Manong Bansiong nodded in submission to the fate of his masterpiece craft. Eugene had just come back panting, brushing away weeds and dusts, nursing scratches and cuts. He had given up the chase together with our town mates, and those who knew something about kite flying. Everyone talked about how they crossed the fields, climbed over fences, forge streams and even climbed trees to get better view of the route of the lost kite.

But no one knew where La Golondrina landed.

We soon forgot all about the contest as we quietly prepared for home. The plaza was empty now. It was already dark.

That night I dreamed that I found La Golondrina in Caniao, hanging on a dry branch of a tree where I once saw her as a bird. It was the only tree left in the place. There she swayed, this time she wanted to escape; she was restless even if she was already exhausted. How different she was from the once beautiful and dainty kite La Golondrina. But at least she had reached home at last, so I thought. I remembered father, a balikbayan in the thirties say, “Homing instinct brings one back from across the shore to die in his place of birth.” I took a breath of relief.

But the spring where my companions and I had picnic before had dried up. The stream has shrunk into a rivulet, painfully skirting the rocks and levees. The stones are no longer living, because they were no longer green with algae and moss.

The mountain is no longer green and blue at the distance. The view below spread out clear and empty, they are no longer part of the forest. They are now farms, and huts are visibly dotting the landscape, smoke rising from new clearings. The horizon bears the color of sunset although it was still morning. I waited for the plaintive song of gitgitgit…I once heard. It did not come. In the stillness of the afternoon came the occasional the sweep of the wind rustling on the cogon grass making an eerie sound. The sound of death.

Manong Bansiong did not make kites anymore since then. But because of him I became a kite maker, too.

But time has changed. Kite flying has become an endangered art. Kids are more interested with other playthings. They have remote controlled toys and other electronic gadgets. They would rather stay indoors in front of the TV and the Computer. And they seem to be more serious in their studies than we were then. They seldom go out to the fields. Rivers and forests are full of danger. No, their parents won’t allow them to go to these places. Many of them have moved to the city, and flying kites in open spaces is very dangerous.

It consoles me to see a kite flying around, whether it is made of simple T-frame or plastic. Or one made in China, best known for kites. How different kites are today from the kites we had before.


Part 4: La Golondrina (Conclusion)

Abe V Rotor

Leo Carlo Rotor and team mates and
their award winning kite, UST.

When I reached the age Manong Bansiong was as kite maker, I also found joy in making kites for children. I am not as good as my mentor though. When Leo Carlo, my youngest son, took part in kite flying at the University of Santo Tomas, he came to me and asked, “Can you help me make a kite, papa?”

I remember my kite flying days. I helped him re-create La Golondrina. It was turning back the hands of time. He carried the kite we made across the football field with Marlo, his brother, and I, at the other end, held the string. We waited for the old friendly wind.

Then it came, it came all the way from the North, and La Golondrina rode on it, flew above our heads, above the trees, above the grandstand and the chapel and the tall buildings, and up into the blue sky.

I saw Caniao at the back of my mind, its water full and flowing. Below is the meandering Banaoang River, and in the distance is the blue Cordillera. There is a familiar tree, on its branch sat a beautiful bird singing the song of La Golondrina. x x x


1. High in the sky at break of dawn I see the swallow fly
Above the world among the drifting clouds he flashes by
Beneath the caves his little mate is waiting
Beneath the leaves where all his treasures lie.

2. Ah, would that I were a swallow that flies through the sky,
On the wing, rejoicing, where all care flutters by,
So light and free, above the voice of the throng,
High up in the sky, where all the world's a song!

Song also known as the Mexican 'Home Sweet Home'.
Words, Walter Hirsch; Music, Narciso Serradell.

x x x

The Mystery Child, by AVRotor. All Rights Reserved

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Fish Culture: Freshwater Fish Farming: Hobby and Business

Plapla (all male tilapia) grows bigger and faster than ordinary tilapia.

Abe V Rotor

There are three ways freshwater fish can be cultured as pastime or business.

1. Family fishpond
2. Palay-isdaan (rice-fish culture)
3. Cage culture

Family Fishpond
A family fishpond is an enlarged version of a home aquarium. The requirements in taking care of the fish are basically the same – clean water, good aeration, sufficient feeds, suitable temperature range, absence of pollution – and above all, TLC (tender, love and care).

No wonder the aquarium is a source of joy to adults and children alike. And the ambiance it lends to the environment is therapeutic, especially for one who comes home after a hard day’s work. It brings the whole family together on weekends.

I missed my outdoor sports as a fisherman-enthusiast when I moved to the city some years back. To compensate for it I built a garden pond with a dimension, 4 meters long, 2 meters wide and one meter deep, and stocked it with some two dozen juvenile catfish for fattening. Three months after and the fish were ready for harvesting, I would gather the family into a backyard picnic, and how we all enjoyed inihaw na hito.

If you are living in the province, the conditions there are better. These are the things you can do.

1. You can enlarge the size of the pond so that you can raise fish for the family and the neighborhood. You can have separate ponds for tilapia, hito, gurami – or bangus, if you are living within the estuary.

2. Make use of the natural topography of the land using the lowest part (basin) as the pond. Be sure you have sufficient running water. If not, have a deep well ready to augment water supply. To reduce loss of water through leaching, compact the bottom with clay. There are now plastic sheets used as fishpond lining.

3. Stock your fishpond with fish of the same kind and size so that they will grow evenly. When raising tilapia, avoid overcrowding. Tilapia reproduces very fast. Stocking with all male tilapia is important in obtaining even and fast growth.

4. It is cheaper to formulate your own feeds than to depend on expensive commercial feeds, especially where rice bran and fishmeal are readily available. Kitchen scraps, such as fish and poultry entrails, are a good feed supplement. Avoid excess feed as this is likely to accumulate and decompose.

5. A pond has good natural food supply if it is rich in plankton. The color of the water is usually bright green. Plankton organisms are microscopic and highly diverse. Phytoplankton (mostly green algae) are photosynthetic, and together with the zooplankton (microscopic animals called protists), form the base of a complex food web, on which the fish ultimately obtain their nourishment. To increase plankton population fish farmers use appreciable amounts of nitrogenous and complete (NPK) fertilizer. Care should be observed not to induce overproduction of plankton because this causes the so-called algal bloom. Plankton decomposition, exacerbated by over feeding, increases produces hydrogen sulfide and methane gas, increases carbon dioxide level, and reduces dissolved oxygen. Foul odor forewarns of disaster. Replace the foul water immediately with fresh water.
6. A fence made of nylon net is recommended during the flood season, especially in low-lying areas. This will also serve as a rail guard for the safety of children and pets.
7. For intermittent ponds, harvesting is done when water supply is low. This allows the fishpond to dry up, ready for the next season. In farming we call this fallowing or resting the land. This is true also with fishponds. For fishponds with sufficient water throughout the year, harvesting is done with lift net, selecting only the big ones, and allowing the small ones to grow. For Nile tilapia (T. nilotica), three pieces make a kilo is ideal, for hito, four pieces.


Fish Culture 3: Fish Cage

Carp cultured in fish cage in Laguna Bay
Binangonan, Rizal

Abe V Rotor

The original fish cage was developed by Central Luzon State University. There are now modifications made from it for both freshwater and marine environments. How does a fish cage look like?

The simplest design looks like an inverted mosquito net with the four corners tied to pegs that also serve as post. The cage is installed in shallow water and you have a fixed fish cage.

The floating cage model is used in deep water. Nylon net or mesh wire is mounted on a cube-shape frame (1m x 1m x 1m), complete with cover that allows aeration and sunlight, and solid bamboo or styropore as float. About 500 Nile tilapia fingerlings weighing 20 grams each may be stocked per cubic meter of cage. Each fingerling may reach marketable weight of 60 grams in two months or 120 grams in four months. Thus a cubic meter of cage can yield 30 kg every two months or 60 kg every four months.

CLSU developed a low-cost, efficient feed formula which consists of 75% fine rice bran (cono) and 25% fish meal (local). It is served as moist pellets. The fishmeal and fine rice bran are mixed with just enough water to form a mash and divided into balls. The moist balls are force-fed into an ordinary meat grinder. The extruded product is noodle-like which breaks into pellets.

Using moist pellets, the feed conversion is 2.5 on the average, which means that 2.5kg of feed produce one kg of fish. Feeding rate can be determined with this formula. Fish weighing 50 grams or less are fed at 5% of total fish weight. For example, a stock of 1,000 fingerlings weighing 20 grams each will require one kg of feed per day. But as the fish grow, you will have to increase the rate of feeding every two weeks, using the same body weight basis. Feeding is done twice a day, splitting the ration, one at 6 to 8 AM, and the other at 4 to 6 PM. To economize on feeds and minimize wastage, place the feeds in a fine-meshed feeding box inside the cage.

A farm of 10 to 20 cages requires only about two hours of attention everyday. The culture period is 2 to 4 months depending on the desired marketable size. While diseases are rare, poaching may be a problem in certain areas.

Whatever is our reason to engage in fishing, hobby or business, there is something more that we derive out of it. Let me count the ways. Fresh fish, added income, aesthetic value, clean air, sunshine, good exercise, peace of mind, companionship with nature, good health – and the thought that we are close to the Greatest Fisherman who ever lived.
x X x

Living with Nature, Volume 3. All Rights Reserved

Friday, August 21, 2009

Haiku in Iloko: Parbangon Nanem (It's Dawn Again.)

Dr. Abe V. Rotor

1. Pumarbangonen:
Sarzuela ken komedia,
Mangrugi manen.
(Dawn ushers daily grind
of life's drama and comedy)

2. Ti ukoy-ukoy,
Agur-uray diay abut
Iti agbiddut.
(The antlion waits for prey
that blunders and falls into its pit.)

3. Nakasutsutil -
Bacchus, Ambrosius Venus,
(Help me from tempters - Bacchus,
Ambrosius, Venus. From Greek mythology
gods and goddess of ostentatious living.)

4. Igudagudmo,
Agsangit, agkatawa;
Langit ken daga.
(It's the violin being referred to.
It cries and laughs with heaven and earth.)

5. Kapanunutan
Ken takyag iti mangged,
Puso ti tured.
(Intellect and brawn to earn;
courage is in the heart.)

6. Saan nga ammo,
Nat-natay diay adayo,
Ilagip tayo.
(Reverence to the dead -
even those unknown in distant land.)

7. Kapanunutan,
Narigat nga abaken,
Malaksid kukuam.
(You really can't win an argument,
except your own.)

8. Umisemkan,
Tapno maturogen ti
Dakkel a bulan.
(Your sweet smile
makes the moon sleep. )

9. Nakadumog,
Labaslabasan ti angin,
(Refers to good harvest:
Heavy panicles bow low,
ducking the passing wind.)

10. Naturoganna't
Panagbaliw ti lubong
Ni Rip Van Winkle.
(From Washington Irving's story,
Rip van Winkle, about a man
who slept for twenty long years
amid changes going on in the world.)

11. Panagkakadua,
Awan iti baetna,
(Too close for comfort, referring to friendship. )

12. Malinlinay,
Lumakay, agbabaak,
(Getting old and aging
don't mean the same thing.)

13. Gura ken ayat,
Bumtakman wenno umpes,
Arig ti ulep.
(Love and hate may be compared to a cloud -
it dissipates or falls as rain.)

14. Diay pag-gugubatan
Ubbing laeng ti matay,
Ilida’t lumakay.
(As the young die in the battlefield,
the country unprecedentedly grows old.)

15. Warnak inaldaw,
Amin nakaragragsak,
(A daily reminder: Too much
fun may lead to sorrow.)

16. Toy agkabanuag,
Adut’ pakairamanan,
(The youth have good
and bad things to share.)

17. Kapapategan,
Dua laeng iti pagpilian -
Kappia ken Kappia.
(Peace is peace. There is no other choice.
It is the most treasured thing.)

18. Flanders, Bataan,
Agur-uray ti turay,
Kappia, pakawan.
(Forgiveness and Peace reign in the WWII
memorials in Flanders Field in Europe,
and Bataan in the Philippines.)

19. Uray laglagip
Tinubuanen iti ru-ot
Didiay Austerlitz.
("I'm the grass, I cover all," says a poet, referring
to the dead in this battlefield in WWII.
It covers also memories)

20. Akasia’t malem,
Ti panagawid ammuem,
(Call it a day when the leaves of the
acacia tree droop.)

Living with Nature, Volume 3, AVR. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Anecdote 4: Technology took away the quaintness of trapping frogs

Abe V Rotor

It was fun to trap frogs when I was a kid. I would dig holes in the field, around one and one-half feet deep, at harvest time. Here the frogs seek shelter in these holes because frogs need water and a cool place. Insects that fall in to the hole also attract them. Early in the morning I would do my rounds, harvesting the trapped frogs from each hole. Frogs make a favorite dish among Ilocanos especially in those days when there were no chemical pesticides on the farm. The frog is skinned, its entrails removed, and cooked with tomato, onion - and achuete (Bixa orellana) to make the menu deliciously bright yellow orange.

Technology may have succeeded in reducing insects that destroy crops, but it virtually eliminated the natural enemies of insects, such as the frog. Thus making man dependent on technology.

Above all, it has taken away the quaintness of an experience boys today may not be able to enjoy. ~ ~ ~

Living with Nature, Volume 3, AVR. All Rights Reserved.

Anecdote 5: I stopped schooling to be with my dad.

Abe V Rotor

I stopped schooling in Manila, so I went home to San Vicente, arriving there on a Sunday at dawn. Instead of directly proceeding to our house, I dropped at the church through the main door. In the distance a man was standing, stooping, his nape showing the marks of old age. I wondered who the man was, and to my surprise I found out he was my dad. I did not know he had grown that old. I said my prayers, and left with a heavy heart.

It was at home that my dad and I met after the mass. He knew it was not yet school vacation, but he was very happy to see me. I did not tell I saw him in the church that morning. Later I told my plan not to continue my studies anymore because I wanted to be with him. He was silent.

The following morning he prepared our two bicycles, which my brother and I used in high school. “We are going to Banaoang,” he said with an aura of determination. Banaoang is a mountain pass through which the mighty Abra River flows, where bamboo poles from the hills are sold in volume. We were going to build a flue-curing barn. Raising Virginia tobacco was a lucrative business then.

The going was easy at first, but the distance and the uphill part were exhausting. After about ten kilometers Dad gave up. We could view the Quirino bridge, but our destination was still far.

“Can you get a rope, and pull my bike? Let’s go back home.” He sat down in the shade of a mango tree. There was no rope I could get. When we were rested we slowly pedaled back home. Both of us were silent the rest of the day.

I stayed with my dad until the end of summer working in the tobacco barn we put up. I went back to Manila the following school year to continue my studies. I always pass the highway dad and I once took, and there under an old mango tree, I would be seeing a old man resting in its shade. Beside him are two bicycles. ~ ~ ~

Living with Nature, Volume 3, AVR. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

How to handle Snakehead or Dalag - most slippery fish

Abe V Rotor

This is a demonstration on how to handle dalag, probably the slipperiest freshwater fish in the world.

There are other ways of course, like hitting its head with a blunt object, pouring vinegar, sprinkling salt on its body, with the risk that it jumps and escapes - or it hits you hard in the process. Imagine if your dalag is 5 kilos - twice the size of the specimen in the photos.

First, stake behind and be gentle. With both hands, hold the ventral part of the head and the body behind the pectoral fin. Simultaneously, press - or insert insert fingers into the gills, if necssaryand hold until fish stops wriggling.

If you want it alive, don't further hurt the fish. Gently put it in a bucket of water, then transfer it, say to the pond.

If it's for culinary (pesang dalag), deftly detach the skull from the atlas (first vertebral bone) with a real hard downward thrust. Don't twist. The fish is instantly killed this way. Instantly killed fish, poultry and animals taste better because they are prevented from releasing distress hormones during their struggle.

Why don't you try handling a live snakehead or mudfish? How about catfish or hito? The procedure is basically the same, except that you have to be careful with the sharp pectoral spines. Catching live fish, and animals, like catching piglets (biik) in the mud, is now an endangered village game.
~ ~ ~

Living with Nature
, Volume 3, All Rights Reserved

Friday, August 14, 2009

Self-Administered Test on Reviving the “Handyman” or “Do-it-Yourself” Culture

Self-Administered Test on  Reviving the “Handyman” or “Do-it-Yourself” Culture
Lesson on 738 KHz AM DZRB, Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (School-on-Air)
Dr. Abe Rotor and Ms Melly Tenorio
October8, 2007

True or False

1. First, plan your work, then work your plan - not vice versa.

2. Standard voltage in the Philippines is 110V; in the USA, it is double – 220V. That is why US appliances need step down transformer when using it here.

3. Here is a simple declogging solvent for the drain which you can prepare: dissolve in a liter of water 2 tbsp water kerosene (gaas) + and 2 tbsp powdered soap.

4. The practical way to determine exact levels in construction is to use plumb bob for vertical level (patindig) and transparent hose filled with water for horizontal level (pahanay).

5. Riveted GI roofing is more reliable – stronger and last longer – than when nail is used.

6. Garden hose last longer if it is allowed to remain attached to the faucet, than to drain and coil it after use.

7. A crocodile jack is easier and safer to use than ordinary hydraulic jack. And be sure to have a supplemental jack as precaution to accident.

8. There are fixtures and assembly parts of appliances that can be replaced with new ones rather than to have them repaired - such as LPG regulator, Automatic Voltage Regulator, fire extinguisher, water filters, electric fans after guarantee period.

9. Buy only reliable brands of tools, and if your budget allows, invest in lifetime tools such as Rigid, Stanley, Makita, Black and Decker, Bosch, Coleman, Crossman, Dremel, Sandvik, El Toro, to name a few of the internationally known brands. Be sure these are not imitations.

10. Home for the Golden Years must be kept as simple as possible, orderly, clean and healthy, Remove things that may cause accidents.

11. It is easier to maintain a home with children than a typical home, especially if the children all go to school and you have all the time to fix everything from bedroom to sala to garden.

12. Inhaling fresh paint could be as harmful to health as inhaling exfoliating old paint.

13. Refurnish your kitchen with new utensils? Dispose old China with fading gold rims, don’t use plastic containers for vinegar and carbonated drinks, aluminum and Cadmium coated pots and pans for acidic food, and if possible avoid if you can using microwave oven. Ordinary oven is healthier, and food is tastier, too.

14. Coconut oil + kerosene (gaas) in equal proportion makes a good substitute for sewing oil, and lubricating oil for hinges, locks, screws and bolts.

15. Hammer is to the worker as scythe is to the farmer – two symbols representing the grassroots, which the old communist regime used as logo.

16. When installing an air-conditioning unit, be sure it is one or two feet from the floor for efficiency and power economy.

17. Experts select crosscut saw (ordinary saw) by making it sing, so to speak – it produces a clear echoing sound like a tuning fork. Hammer struck on stone likewise sends a brilliant tuning fork sound.

18. It is all right to dispose off catalogues and instructions of tools and machine after you have mastered in using them.

19. It is always good to work alone especially if you are handling dangerous machines and tools so as not to harm others – or you might get distracted in your work.

20. Use loose clothing, such as long sleeves, when operating machine to ward off dirt and as added protected – not to mention as part of good grooming.

21. Accurate measurements in construction are actually in the details of the work. The framework like posts and beams are usually set within certain approximation or range.

22 - 25. Name four safety and emergency equipment, tools and provisions in the work shop.

ANSWERS: 1t, 2f, 3f, 4t, 5,t, 6f, 7t, 8t, 9t, 10t 11f, 12t, 13t, 14t, 15t, 16f, 17t, 18f, 19f, 20f, 21f, 22-25 (In any order, choose 4 only; you can add to the list): first aid kit, fire extinguisher, insulated gloves and shoes, ear muff, face mask, proper working clothes, welding safety gear, exhaust fan, fume hood,and dust collector, tool box, etc.

24 – 25 outstanding
20 – 23 very good
16 – 19 good
12 – 15 pass
Below 11 listen more to the radio program and do your homework.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Answers to Self-Administered Test on Great Men and Women

Dr Abe V Rotor
Lesson Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid DZRB 738 AM
Monday to Thursday, 9 to 10 Evening Class
Dr. Abe V. Rotor and Ms. Melly Tenorio,
October 2, 2007

Supply the missing word or words/keyword

1. Story telling is an art. Strive for the “state-of-the-art of story telling”

2. Rhett Butler played by Clark Gable had this famous line, “Frankly my dear I don’t give a damn.” What title of the movie is Gone with the Wind.

3. There is a famous statement that captures how powerful Rome was at its height.
“All roads lead to Rome.” "The glory that was Greece, the grandeur that was Rome."

4. England became the biggest empire in 18th century and had colonies all over the world – India, Australia, US, Canada, to name the most important. There is a famous statement which says, “The sun never sets on English soil.”

5. This is one element of a good anecdote that stimulates the intellect, sagacity, understanding. It shows cleverness. Wit. It often goes together with humor.

6. This is another element of good story that lifts the spirit, and brings man towards optimistic goals. Inspirational appeal.

7. Bato bati sa langit …. Doesn’t speak well of a good story. The refers to fatalism.

8. Avoid this aspect in story telling, promoting an idea, thing or person. Propagandism.

9. This is one aspect we should avoid in story telling: directly imposing a norm or moral obligation. Moralism

10. It took this man to convince four kings to support his plan to reach East if he goes strait West – thus he named the island on which he first landed as East Indies. Christopher Columbus.

11. If you are presented with a simple problem that has a simple solution - instead of wasting time and resources, they say, “Cut the Gordian Knot.” Who first showed it this way by cutting the complicated Gordian Knot with one slash of his sword. Alexander the Great

12.This flying insect circled the a lamp from which Rizal used it as symbol of martyrdom. Moth

12. He is known even to the present as the “man of the masses” who at one instance promoted a engineer on the spot. Ramon Magsaysay.

13. The most loved anecdote teller of all time. His anecdotes and anecdotes about him are known all over the world. Abraham Lincoln.

14. He took the crown from the hands of the Pope who was about to crown him, and crowned himself. Napoleon Bonaparte.

15. This is the Lady with a Lamp who made her rounds in the hospital with a tiny lamp. Florence Nightingale

16. Emperor, a city was named after him, whose mother was a Christian in disguise. He became liberal to Christians who were practicing their faith. Constantine, the Great

17. English admiral, ordered by his superior not to proceed in his mission because the enemy ships were waiting. He took the telescope and trained it on his right eye which is blind, and said, “I can’t see the enemy sir.” National British hero. Horatius Nelson.

18. He isolated himself in his room for days, eating but little, and when he emerged, his face lighted like that of a saint, and holding his masterpiece Hallelujah. Who is this composer. Handel

19. He attended a concert which played his masterpiece. At the end, the audience stood to pay respect to the composer. Someone had to signal him to acknowledge the audience. Ludwig van Beethoven

20. One of the most famous meetings in history. US newsman Stanley was sent to Africa to search for Dr. David Livingstone. What was Stanley’s greeting? "Dr. Living stone, I suppose?"

Light from the Old Arch, 2 AVRotor

Sunday, August 9, 2009

I Found an Outdoor Friend

Abe V Rotor

In my room one day I wrote;
Clumsy, my pen dropped,
My own thoughts I fought,
Groped I alone in the dark.

My pen into a corner rolled,
Into a web of dust and web;
Into a story long untold,
No other but my own in ebb.

Vigor I lack, my eyesight poor,
Vegetables, fruits, all I detest,
Energy I’ve none to store,
That I dare not face any contest.

I swept the floor, opened the door,
Worked the garden, where a lost friend
I found again - Nature and more -
United we all are to the end.

x x x

Living with Nature, Volume 3. All Rights Reserved

Lightning doesn’t strike twice on the same place.

Skeleton of tree killed by lightning, Diliman, QC

Abe V Rotor

Yes, unless of course, if it is a lightning rod intended to protect high rise buildings and towers. Otherwise, lightning occurs but once on the same spot, but not necessarily the same area though. Lightning has no standard pattern, but we know when it occurs and strikes most, and the subjects and materials that attract it. Follow this guide during thunderstorm.

1. Don’t seek shelter under isolated trees.
2. Stop playing golf; the club may serve as lightning rod.
3. Keep away from transmission lines and electric posts.
4. Pull off the main switch to protect appliances.
5. Don’t walk in the rain or wade in water.
6. Keep away from large animals, especially the carabao.
7. Stay at home. Or stay inside the car if you are traveling.

Take precaution but don’t be alarmed. The chance of being harmed is very slight; if you compare the tiny number of people killed in a year with the fact that round the earth nearly two thousand thunderstorms are going on at every moment.

If you are a farmer, sheath your bolo and keep away from any metallic tool. If you are playing golf, pack up immediately at the sign of a coming thunderstorm. Metals are good conductors of electricity, and may serve as lightning rod - with you holding it.
x x x

Reference: Living With Folk Wisdom, AVR, UST Manila

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Guava stem - first toothbrush, and substitute, too.

Abe V Rotor

Here’s a folkloric practice. Chew one end of a small fresh stem of guava, and use it as toothbrush and toothpick. Guava contains a natural antibiotic that prevents infection, and it is also an anti deodorant, which explains the popularity of this old practice – and also for the fact that this small tropical tree grows everywhere.

Chewing guava leaves to relieve gum inflammation is also a common old folk remedy. I witnessed a dentist in a remote village in Bolinao, Pangasinan, use guava leaves in his practice. Before extracting an impacted tooth, the patient was asked to chew three young leaves of guava into a pulp, shaped it into a ball, and after the tooth has been extracted, plugged it in its place, and closed his jaw.

“That will stop the bleeding,” he explained in Ilocano as he called for the next patient - eying at me.

x x x

Living with Folk Wisdom, AVR, UST Manila

Monday, August 3, 2009

Concept and Theory of Art

Poem and painting by Abe V Rotor

Concept, it challenges the mind,
links real and ideal, Pompeii and Utopia,
Michelangelo and Picasso 

Unity and harmony, peace and order -
elusive these are, yet man’s unending goal;
are concepts but dreams?

To artists concept and theory are the same,
They won't go wrong, for there are no house rules;
like sunflowers in bloom. 

Symbol of freedom, perfection and beauty;
like moving wheels - but physics won’t agree,
for the whole system breaks, oh!

x x x

Part 2: Sharing makes the world go round and around.

Abe V Rotor
A pair of African Daisy hybrids. St Paul of Chartres, Antipolo, Rizal.

On leaving our world down below and seeing it as a miniature: How small is our world. Rather how small we are.
- A.V. Rotor, Views from an Airplane, Travelogue Through Art, 1999

Sharing makes the world go round and around. How beautiful Reader's Digest puts it. To wit:

"Every human being on this earth faces a constant problem: how to make the most of life. There is no single solution, the art of living is the most difficult of all the arts. But fortunately for all of us, experience can be shared. Insights can be learned. Wisdom can be taught. Experiences, insights and wisdom of men and women - from teachers to clergymen, housewives to scientists, ordinary citizens to statesmen - who have lived deeply, thought profoundly and cared enormously about sharing with others what they learned have found some fragments of truth that cushion the harsh impact of reality or brightens the marvelous tapestry of living. From them we find some answers to the most fundamental of all questions: how to live with life."

This excerpt demonstrates human relationship on the highest plane. Simplicity as a common denominator for all those willing to live by it as a virtue breaks the wall separating today the haves and the have-nots, the whites and the colored, and the barriers of distance, belief, ideology and fame. But it is only when one takes the road less trodden that he can truly touch the lives of those who are poor and are living in poverty, not as a choice or virtue, but because they are inevitable, unwilling victims of it.

This is the road the Good Samaritan took. Here sharing takes a higher category, that of compassion. Compassion comes from a deep source, it springs from the hadal depth, not so much of reason but of love which reason cannot fully explain. From here flows the stream of openness and availability, that compassion becomes universal - in both time and space - respecting all mankind, and going back to ecological paradigm, respecting too, all living creature, big and small, and all the things that make this world a place of Paradise. It is only through deep prayer and faith that we can regain that place we lost. John Milton saw it only when he became blind and illumined its beauty with the power of the pen, while Helen Keller shared it to us on the Braile.

Are these enough to live by? No. Still there is a higher realm of human virtue, and this is the element of taking risk and sacrifice. "If you truly love and care", said Mother Teresa, "you are not afraid."

But it is more important to work with others. This is the element of collaboration. It is in collaboration that we do not only come up with collective strength but build interdependence with which we re-enforce the efforts of others in the magic of synergy. It cannot be explained why collective effort surpasses the sum of individual efforts, why spiritual love can not be equated with human love, why happiness when shared multiplies, why in quiet prayers comes a great resolve.

These are not difficult to understand in theory and in good times, when we are only witnesses, nay bystanders. If we are teachers and not disciples, critics and not doers, victors and not the vanquished.

It is easier to teach than to learn, to lecture than to share, to welcome than to accept, to accept than to forgive. It may be easier to treat a friend than a brother, receive awards than show recognition, walk up to the podium than stoop to lend a hand. How do we know endurance from sacrifice? Responsibility from accountability? To help from to care?

Wake up. It is springtime. ~

Reference: Light from the Old Arch, AVRotor, UST Publishing House, Manila.

Plastics Part 1: The Case of a Goat that Ate Plastic

Abe V Rotor

She was pregnant too long. And she was getting thinner. So the owner sent for the butcher.

Guess what we discovered.

The bloated stomach was stuffed with plastics. Yes, plastics which we use for wrappers and bags. I cannot imagine how and why the animal devoured plastics other than grass that it normally eats. But one thing sure about goats is that they are not choosy when it comes to food. Other that the wide range of plant species they eat, they are also omnivorous, devouring sweet to salty, oily to spicy food. Virtually anything humans eat is also palatable to goats.

There are cellophanes used for sweets like bocayo, peanut butter, and candies, thin plastic bags for retailing bagoong alamang, patis, toyo, cooking oil, ice drop and the like. The largest are convenient bags for meat, fish, soft drinks, fruit juices, cooked food, and the like. Some of these materials still bore traces of the generic and trade name of the products, which we supposed have been recently ingested. Plastics earlier ingested were discolored but nonetheless are whole and intact. As the stomach twists and contracts, the larger plastics envelop the smaller pieces forming a mass stuck up in the rumen like clothes in a overloaded washing machine.

The stomach of ruminants is designed to store large amounts of feed, consuming the feeds rapidly with a minimum of chewing before swallowing. This reduces grazing time while it enhances large intake. Then when the animal is resting, the raw ingesta is brought out for re-mastication during which digestive enzymes are mixed before it is swallowed again for final digestion.

Imagine the stomach walls incessantly contracting, grinding and squeezing, the walls in peristalsis. Digestive enzymes dissolve solid materials into pulp called chyme, a composite thick soup that later goes to the small intestine where the nutrients are assimilated by numerous, tiny finger-like protrusions called villi. The remaining material then moves to the large intestines, retained for sometime before it is finally excreted as feces.

No digestive enzyme – not even gastric acid – is powerful enough to break plastics. And there is no effect even how long the material is subjected this natural solvent.

Why does the stomach retain the plastic materials?

We know that goats like other ruminant animals such as sheep and cattle, and wild herbivores for that matter, like zebra and gazelle, have very efficient digestive systems, otherwise they would not subsist on high-fiber food – grass and roughage. Food is retained in their chambered stomach much longer than food in the simple stomach of man, fowls, and pigs. It is no wonder that the excreta of ruminants yields well digested fiber. This is not the case in the excreta of animals with simple digestive system such as pigs. Even birds and chicken which can break up shells and stones in their gizzard cannot fully digest cellulose. Perhaps the only creature, which is superior to ruminants in cellulose digestion, is the termite. Termites have living protozoa in their stomach that break up wood cellulose and its tough form, lignin. Without this symbiont, termites will certainly starve and die.

The implication of this discovery then is that no digestive enzyme – not even gastric acid is powerful enough to break the cellulose in plastics. This is a classical proof of the non-biodegradability of plastics.

Can’t ruminants eliminate unwanted materials in their digestive system either by regurgitation or excretion? In the first place the movement of the stomach and its chambers – rumen, reticulum and omasum - unlike those of the true stomach and intestines, are not governed by the central nervous system. Thus the mechanism of rumination is involuntary. It is the coarseness of the feed that stimulates the walls of the rumen to contract so that the material is brought out for re-mastication. Animals, which feed on soft and non-fibrous diet like alfalfa, ruminate less than those depending on roughage.

Plastics Camouflage Appetite

It is likely that the rumen is lined with plastic materials which does not create sufficient stimulation to expel the ingesta for re-mastication. The other effect is that the animal experiences false fullness which camouflages natural appetite. It means that because the animal is not hungry, it eats less and as a consequence becomes undernourished. Thus the goat that ate plastic appeared bloated and emaciated. But this does not discount the possibility of slow poisoning either due to the plastic or secondary metabolites.

The other reason why goats cannot eliminate the plastics through excretion is obvious. Unlike large livestock, their feces are dry and nodular, barely the size of coffee beans. It does not mean to say that larger ruminants are safe from clogging of plastics in their digestive system. I have received reports of similar incidents where cattle suffer of the same symptoms. It is would be interesting that extensive researches be conducted on the problems of plastics ingestion.

The first completely synthetic man-made plastic – Bakelite – does not burn, melt or dissolve in ordinary solvents. As an additive it makes almost any material strong, durable and light.

What is plastic? How are plastics differentiated?

1. The first plastic was made by Alexander Parkes in 1862 for whom it was named – Parkesine. Actually it was an organic material derived from cellulose that once heated could be molded, retaining its shape when cooled.
Because of its high cost of production it was shelved until the later part of the 19th century when celluloid made a debut as replacement of ivory in billiard balls. To prevent the highly volatile celluloid to explode, camphor was added leading to the development of thermoplastics.

2. Soon the first completely synthetic man-made plastic was formulated by a New York chemist, Leo Baekeland, and the product was name Bakelite, a material which does not burn, boil, melt, or dissolve in any commonly available acid or solvent, and would retain its shape and form under any circumstance. Bakelite could be added to almost any material making it more durable, light, heat-resistant and shatterproof. War machinery and automobiles made use of this new product to a great advantage.

3. Other forms of plastics were discovered. These include rayon, man-made silk, and cellophane, the first glass-clear, flexible and waterproof plastic. These materials have many uses today.

4. By 1920 “plastic craze” spread out. Among the industry leaders was DuPont which developed nylon, replacing animal hair in toothbrush. By 1940 the world saw the development of acrylic, polyethylene, and many more polymers, which replaced natural materials such as cotton, fiber, wood and steel.

5. DuPont later discovered Teflon, which is used as lining of cooking utensils because it is acid proof, heat resistant and slippery.

6. Dow on the other hand, came up with another plastic – polyvinylidene chloride, better known as Saran, a perfect material for food packaging and storage.

7. Polyethylene was introduced in 1933. Polyethylene is currently the largest volume plastic the world uses in making soda and milk bottles, grocery bags, and plastic food storage containers. This is the kind of plastic the goat ate and made her sick.

8. There is virtually no end to the discovery of other forms of plastics. We have plastic putty developed by Velcro. This plastic is very much like rubber but rebounds 25 percent higher than normal rubber ball. Its property of not being able to maintain a constant shape, is compensated by its high flexibility, stretching many times its length without tearing. Initially it is used in the manufacture of toys, but many potential used are seen.

Plastics Part 3: Things to do with Plastics

Dr Abe V Rotor

Here are things we can do with plastics.

1. Re-use plastic bags and bottles at home. Remember that plastics are durable. Be sure to clean them properly before using.
2. Gather plastic bottles and unserviceable plastic wares for recycling. Arrange with cart pushers and your nearest junk shop. Do not attempt to re-melt plastics. The process is not as simple as you think. Don’t burn to dispose them either. Burning plastics emits smoke and fumes deleterious to health.
3. Do not use plastic if you can help it. Use paper or glass containers. This is also advantageous to your health. Do not use plastic containers for soft drinks, vinegar, salt, patis, toyo. These are strong solvents. There are studies that show that there are plastics that are carcinogenic.
4. Keep plastic materials away from your bedroom. As plastics age, they emit gaseous substances which when inhaled may cause allergy, asthma and other ailments.
5. Patronize products that use non-plastic containers, wrappers, bags, utensils, etc.
6. Be part of a community environmental project. Attend seminars and workshops about the environment. Tie up ecology with leadership, entrepreneurship (re-cycling), values formation, and the like. Be an ecologist yourself.

The incidents about the goat that ate plastic, and fish fry trapped in plastic bag open to mind the need of a second revolution about this non-biodegradable material - the development of a second generation of plastics that are biodegradable and environment friendly.

Nata Laminate – Potential Plastic Substitute

Now, this is one for the Book of Guinness. Shoes made from nata de coco. At St. Paul College QC, Dr. Anselmo S. Cabigan and his advisee Amparo Arambulo developed shoes made from nata laminate. The laminate is actually compressed nata de coco, dried and layered into ply, and subjected to the usual tanning procedure. It is cut and sewed into shoes. Nata laminate is strong, even stronger than leather. It gives a good finish and it looks like leather.

In another research, nata was made into surgical thread. Since nata is a natural product – capsule of the bacterium, Leuconostoc mesenteroides - it is soluble. It may be a substitute to expensive commercial absorbable surgical threads.

Nata laminate is also a potential substitute to special paper, such as sheepskin, and an exotic material in making wallets, bags and belts. Unlike plastic, nata laminate is biodegradable. It also offers a solution in saving animals, especially those in the endangered list.

Plastic Devouring Microbes
At the UST Graduate School, Dr. Irineo Dogma and his advisee isolated plastic devouring bacteria with promising results. There are similar experiments here and abroad which show that there are ways to break the invincibility of this Franken material. The genius of man in discovering plastics cannot just end up with the creation of the monster. Taming it requires greater genius.
x x x

The Living with Nature Handbook, AVR, UST Publishing House, Manila