Sunday, June 28, 2009

Leptospirosis: Never wade in floodwater

Abe V Rotor

Rats are carriers of of the disease called leptospirosis. The first time I heard the word leptospirosis was some ten years ago when Manila virtually remained underwater for days as a result of monsoon rains intensified by a series of typhoons. The disease is also called infectious jaundice because one of the advance symptoms is yellow coloration of the skin. The causal organism is a spiral bacterium, hence the name, and is endemic where public sanitation and personal hygiene are neglected. One can contact the disease through infected urine of rats and mice, and also other animals including dogs and cats. According to reports most of the victims acquired the disease from polluted drinking water and by wading in floodwater. The suspected carrier is the Rattus rattus norvigicus or city rat, counterpart of the field rat, Rattus rattus mindanensis.

How do we know if a person has contacted the disease? At first the symptoms are like those of an ordinary flu, which may last for a few days or weeks as the pathogen incubates in the body. If not treated the infection may lead to hemorrhages of the skin and mucus lining and eye inflammation. Extreme cases may lead to irreversible damage of the liver and kidney.

As floodwater drives the rats out of their subterranean abode - canals, culverts, sewers and the like - they take refuge in homes, market stalls, restaurants, even high rise buildings and malls, bringing the infectious bacterium direct to its victims. The migratory nature of rats also explains how leptospirosis infect people living away from the flooded areas.

Never wade in floodwater.

Reference: Living with Folk Wisdom, UST Publishing House, Manila

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Part 1 - Practical And Safe Way of Controlling Pests


Stink Bug , nymph and adult

Dr Abe V Rotor

Entomology – the science of insects – is a subject I love to teach. But before I take up the subject of controlling insects, I would like to emphasize beforehand that insects in general are extremely useful to mankind and the environment. Contrary to what many people think our world could not be any better without insects.

We would be missing honey and silk, fruits and vegetables which insects pollinate, fish which feed on them, and the Monarch butterfly that meets us at the garden at sunrise.

On the other hand we detest the presence of their destructive kin: the cockroach that roams and spreads disease, ticks that spoil a dog’s lovely look, caterpillars that defoliate our favorite tree, or simply the buzzing of a mosquito that interrupts a good rest.

If these negative traits are not enough to take arms against these pests, think that the most ferocious animal on earth is not the lion but the mosquito. With the diseases mosquitoes carry they have brought unimagined deaths and sufferings to mankind. It is said that death due to mosquitoes alone surpasses that which all wars in history have caused. Their most prominent victim is Alexander the Great who died of malaria on the banks of the Tigris-Euphrates river.

So here are strategies of war against our insect enemies.

Natural Resistance

There is perhaps no substitute to natural resistance – that which is carried by the genes in a plant or animal - in combating a pest or disease, and in surviving under harsh environment. Where do these genes come from?
Even before scientists came to the conclusion that resistance (and also susceptibility) is hereditary, early farmers were already adopting the principle in plant breeding and animal husbandry, these being the foundation of the first green revolution that brought agriculture to its golden age in the last millennium.

It is evolution that brought desirable genes together in a species. “Survival of the fittest,” Darwin’s general formula is the gradual pooling of these genes through time, thousands if not millions of years. This also explains why varieties and breeds native to a place are more resistant than their introduced (non-indigenous) counterparts. Wittingly or not, man has caused the elimination of resistance genes, even as he chooses those that directly contribute to his economic welfare.

In order to gain from this knowledge, one may look into the adoption of these two measures.

1. Choose plants and animals that are genetically adapted to the place. They have the natural resistance to pests and diseases, as well as unfavorable conditions prevailing in the area.

2. Maintain physiologic resistance by enhancing soil nutrients and proper cultural practices. Healthy plants have less pest and disease problems. So with animals. This leads us to the next practical technology.

Proper Cultural Practices

If you see farmers planting and harvesting their fields at the same time, they are actually practicing a practical means of minimizing crop loss. Not only that the damage caused by a pest is spread out over the whole area, the insect’s life cycle is controlled, thus eliminating the possibility of pest and disease outbreak. There are of course other advantages of cooperative farming such as communal irrigation, mechanization, and collective marketing which are the answer to the problem on economics of scale.

A key to control pests is to eliminate their breeding places, such as uprooting infested plants, or pruning affected parts, then burn them. Plant trap crops ahead of planting time to attract the potential pest. The trap crop is then rouged and burn thus eliminating the threat. Eliminate weeds because they serve as alternate host. Now we understand why fields are left vacant after harvest and during summer. This allows the soil to rest, and to break the life cycle of pest and diseases.

Continued...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Part 1: The Realms of Intelligence as Applied in a Fast Changing World

Dr Abe V Rotor
Our concept of a natural world akin to the biblical Lost Paradise (Mural painting by the author 2008

In our age of modern science and technology, of automation and computerization, of globalization and space travel, will we finally find the answer to this perplexing question?

I proceed by presenting to you two challenges posed by our increasingly complex scientific and technological world.

The first challenge is to keep up with the pace of scientific and technological change. At its present rate, we are virtually grappling with the pole vault to cope with the leaps and bounds of discoveries and inventions which are pushing us to change our ways, and our very lives. It is no longer us who dictate science and technology; it is science and technology that dictates us.

The second challenge calls for a conventional approach. It is to find the means with which to cushion the impact of rapid change of science and technology on our lives by clinging on some anchor of values. If we have a choice of priorities, of looking back at history and tradition, or by simply standing rationally firm to what is good not only to us but for all mankind, then we just can not become easy victims of “progress”.

Our lives are being outrun by Science and Technology
In so short a time – virtually just within a life span of many of us in the elder generation - the world witnessed three important unprecedented discoveries which have changed human life and our society forever. There is no turning back now. Science and technology marked the milestone of no return, a point of irreversibility as we race for industrialization, and plunge into the “third wave” of progress

The three scientific breakthroughs are

1. Splitting of the atom (nuclear power, atomic bomb);
2. Invention of the microchip (electronics, computers); and
3. Cracking the DNA code (Human Genome Project, genetic engineering).

The applications of these breakthroughs cannot be overemphasized. as we witness today or in the near future the following:

1. Man’s landing on the moon;
2. Information highway via satellites and the Internet;
3. Cloning and genetically modified organisms (GMO);
4. Universities without walls (distance education);
5. Robotics and nanobotics (microscopic robots);
6. Frankenfoods, (modified foods);
7. Test tube babies, menopausal childbirth;
8. Gene therapy and immunotherapy;
9. Extended life span (now 78 years on the average to 140 by 2500); and
10. Cryonics or human hibernation, which prepares man for space travel.

We just can not be bystanders, an advice as old as the Renaissance, when Shakespeare said, “The world’s a stage, each has a role to play.” We are participants in this “modern” drama of life heretofore known only in fiction.

Virtually there is no place to escape from our high tech world. Imagine life if there were no cell phone, cable TV, video-games, malls, hospitals, e-mail, solar watch, MRT/LRT, ATM, and the like. And if we think about today’s process in making many products we use everyday - from ball pens to cars – imagine computers and robots at work in place of man.

Scenario: You are awakened by a quartz clock. You switch on the light, tune in the TV or radio, take a bath, pick up the phone, cook breakfast, read the morning paper, dress up, take the elevator, drive the car, etc, etc, etc. All this is not surprising to most of us.

But hear this. The milk you drink is genetically modified (human embryo hormone was injected into the cow to produce more milk), the corn flakes you eat comes from BT corn (corn with a gene of a bacterium – Bacillus thuringiensis), your potato and onion are irradiated for longer shelf life, your lettuce carries a trace of dioxin, the deadliest toxin ever synthesized, your tuna carries a residue of mercury, the microwave emits rays that are not good to health, the paint in your condominium contains lead, plastic deteriorates and you may not know you are absorbing the by-products, synthetic fabric is the cause of your allergy, there is nitrate (salitre) in corned beef and in tocino, MSG (sodium mono-glutamate) in noodle, aspartame in soft drinks, sulfite in sugar, potassium bromide in bread. And the list goes on, ad infinitum.

Again we ask, “Where will all this lead us to?”

Well, read again Dylan Thomas poem, “Do not go gentle into the night” purporting everyone to become vigilant and not settle into comfort and take a license for freedom. It is the road often trodden. Why can they take the less trodden?

This masterpiece reflects an experience the boy Dylan had one Christmas. He was given a beautiful book that told him everything about the wasp, a relative of the bee. Everything about the insect - except “Why?” And the boy wondered, “Is this all?” Rage builds up the more we ask “Why?” – and we find no satisfactory answer.

Does it strike you sometimes that knowledge – even the knowledge we obtained from the university - does not bring true satisfaction - much less enlightenment? It is because our education, especially in science and technology, emphasizes the “How?” rather than the “Why?” Instead of searching for meaning we are searching for causes, or cause-and-effect. As we study phenomena we seem to underestimate the question, “Why?” which is the foundation of values.

Maybe it would be good to our searching mind to reflect on life’s meaning or values on a historical perspective. Consider these

1. Socrates model, the right to seek, to awaken from ignorance. (birth of the university)
2. Communal enterprise which gave the vitality of the Renaissance, brought West to conquer the East (colonizing and civilizing)
3. Voltarism – “reach for knowledge and share the experience of civilization”. (Post-Alexandrian concept of one civilization, one world)
4. Enlightenment spawned by the French revolution (birth of democracy and nationalism)
5. Capitalism-consumerism, the world is a global village (economics today).

We have been disciples of Voltaire too long, believing that the greatest achievement of mankind is civilization. We do not dispute that civilization is a prerequisite of progress. But recently we began to raise disturbing questions.

Before going farther let me interject a tale of B. Traven, The Treasure of Sierra Madre which is reminiscent of an earlier story, The Pardoner’s Tale by Chaucer. In both tales, the plot is about men who meet by accident and join together in search for gold. They take mortal risks for one another in their community of search. But when they find the gold, they are filled with suspicion and end up fighting each other - and losing their treasure in the process. This syndrome still haunts us today.

Now consider these issues.

1. Two world wars, nuclear armaments, unending armed conflicts
2. Domino effect spawned by super economies which toppled the lesser economies (Asian crisis)
3. “How the Other Half (of the population) Dies” (a book exposing inequitable distribution of wealth, as the reason of mass hunger and poverty, by Susan George)
4. “Silent Spring” (a book by Rachel Carson, an expose’ of deadly chemicals, specially pesticides, which are destroying wildlife and the environment)
5. Pollution, global warming, Ozone hole, which are consequences of man’s quest for a better life through industrialization
6. AIDS, drug abuse, broken homes, erosion of values
7. Mass poverty, widespread ignorance
8. Destruction of the ecosystems
9. “You do not find sacredness anymore,” Time
10. “Death of privacy,” Time and Newsweek.

The deleterious by-products of today’s science and technology exacerbate the problems of mankind. Paradoxically, science and technology have not successfully eradicated the ancient scourge of mankind – disease, poverty and ignorance.

While man may have a grasp of history and his society he has apparently lost control of his destiny.

Continued... (Quo vadis?)

Part 2: “Quo vadis?" Syndrome (Where are you going?)

Abe V Rotor

At this point I will give you an exercise, workshop style, to really find out where you are going. Imagine yourself as a sailboat in the sea. This will take five minutes. On a one-fourth piece of bond or pad paper draw yourself as a sailboat faced with the realities of life. Express yourself in relation to what you think and feel, your plans and dreams, with your surroundings and environment. Show your values such as self-confidence, courage, direction and purpose, etc. Use your vivid imagination.

The next five minutes will be devoted to the evaluation of your drawing. Exchange papers and score according to these criteria. Use Scale of 1 to 10 (1 is very poor, 5 fair, 10 excellent).

1. Size of the Sailboat
“I saw myself very small, I can get swallowed up by the sea. I don’t stand a chance in a storm.” (testimony of a teacher) Note: You can be a Gulliver

2. Size of sail over boat
“I’ve grown too heavy, too big. Material things… comfort zone… That’s it - my sail is small I can’t move fast. I’ve been left behind” (From a businessman)

3. Other boats
“I am afraid to be alone. I need someone to talk to, to play with. I am not a Robinson Crusoe. But I love competition. A weekend is boring if I miss my team.” (Jimmy, basketball player)

4. People
“Siyempre naman, boat yata ako. What are boats for? I carry people, as many as I can.”(Ka Tacio, barangay leader)

5. Destination
“I’ve been a drifter all along. I did not even know what course to take. I felt lost all the time until I shifted to law. I ended up a businessman.” (Alias Atorni)

6. Creatures all
“What a beautiful world – colorful coral reefs, seaweeds, crabs, starfish, coral fish. I can spend a whole day here, painting, diving or just to while away time like the birds in the sky, and dolphins riding the wave. Who says it’s lonely out here? Look there’s a sea gull perched on my sail.” (Manny de Guzman, painter)

7. Sky, sea alive
“Beware of doldrums, they are a prelude to disaster. The eye of a storm is calm. So with life. Catch the wind, ride on the wave, if you want to reach your destination.” (Quoted from a homily at UP Chapel, Diliman, QC)

8. Artistry
“Spontaneous art exudes natural beauty. It is art in the fundamental sense. And what is the impact of the drawing? (AVR)

9. No wasteland
The whole paper must be filled up - the sky, water, land. Potential opportunity is lost when we do not catch it. Opportunities in life come but once. Capre diem. Seize the moment.

Add the scores of all the eight criteria. Now add twenty (10) points, to make a perfect score of 100. The bonus represents providence.

Return the papers to the owners. Analyze your strength and inadequacies. Continue working on your paper with new input as I play the violin for you a Filipino composition, “Hating Gabi” by Antonio Molina. Make your work a masterpiece and treasure it as a daily reminder to ponder upon.

Awareness builds values, or awaken those values which have been lying idle or dormant in our sub-conscious mind.

But we can only become fully aware of ourselves and our potential for goodness if we know what our faculties are, and how we are going to use them. What are these faculties?

Continued... (Multiple Intelligence)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Through a Window

By Dr Abe V Rotor

Left, author visits the War Museum; right, rice shipment is prepared for export to the Philippines. Vietnam leads Thailand, China, India and Pakistan in supplying our country's imported rice which is on the average one million tons yearly. This is roughly equivalent to 10 percent of our annual requirement, meaning we are always short of rice production by 10 percent, when we used to export rice to Vietnam and the mentioned countries in the seventies and early eighties. Today, the Philippines is the number one rice importer in the world. Our average production is lower than the world's average. Food security is a principal measure of independence.


NOTE: On this day, 111th anniversary of Philippine Independence from Spain, I have chosen this poem about Vietnam to reflect on. The Vietnam war was considered the worst war since WW II. Millions died in that war, untold sufferings are beyond words to describe, human dignity, world order, national pride, human rights were trespassed or violated. The country was left in ruins. Years of isolation followed. Sanction was led by the US, depriving the newly independent country of help from the outside world. But like a Phoenix bird, Vietnam rose to become one of the fastest developing countries not only in Asia but in the whole world, with 7 to 12 percent yearly Gross Domestic Product, second only to China.

Through the window of an airplane,
I see a shroud of smoke turn into rain;
This is Vietnam now.
Its pains may linger, its wound a scar,
Blessed are its plains, golden in the sun.
Blessed are its people, victims yet victors
Of a David and Goliath war.

Through the window of the mind,
Through the window of a Western eye;
The world was blind for long, but not now.
As the one-eyed Nelson defied order
Cupping the wrong eye.

Through Milton’s window when lost
The sight, clearer is the view, deeper,
Deeper is the sense of seeing,
And the sense of being.

Through the window of a posh hotel
Over tree tops gracing the view,
Swaying and singing in the breeze,
While the city is buried in mist.
Time hangs in the air with ease.

For time knows all, cures all, forgets all,
Yet indelible is the lesson of mankind
That lust never lasts, it ends in fatal fall.
And pain endured is glory’s gain.

Through the window of ones soul,
Has spirituality lost its meaning?
Ask the Vietnamese toiling the fields
With a grave by his side.
Sans cross, sans tombstone,
Only a whisper of a name.

It is an old window I am seeing through,
My own, through a politics of disorder,
Greed and indifference, its spawn.
How can I raise a chin to greet you,
After you have mended your own?

I must have slept too long in comfort
And ease in plenty and play, in freedom,
Believing in a god I call bahala na,
Existential to my needs and caprice;
While you struggled for sanity
With a god by your side fighting,
And brought Olympus down.

I see you fighting again,
Opening your doors to conquer the world
With booming economy, a new valor,
To win another war.

x x x

NOTE: The author was a visiting professor at Ho Chi Mingh University of Science and Technology in Ho Chi Mingh City, formerly Saigon, Socialist Republic of Vietnam in 2006.

Living the Nature, Volume 3, All Rights Reserved

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Time Precious





Abe V Rotor

Happy youth and all -
do not just let time
catch you with its toll,
or come in sweet chime.
A chance comes by once;
it comes back never
while in idle trance,
it's gone forever.

x x x

Living with Nature, Volume 3, All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Relevance of Museums Today

Dr Abe V Rotor 
Burning of St Paul building WWII, mural by AVRotor
Seven Sisters, sculpture by Julie Lluch, detail

Life size icons at Museum's entrance greet visitor.

Porcupine, endangered indigenous animal


Rare starfish. Spines make a fine wind chime.

Isn’t a museum something concerned with antiques and the things of the past?” A colleague once asked me.

“No, no.” I sounded defensive. Then I began scanning his thoughts. There I saw the image of past civilization and institutions. No wonder he was telling of the Egyptian museum, the Aztecs in the Mexican Museum, the American Indians in the Smithsonian, the Renaissance Gallery, and the dinosaurs in the Chinese Museum in Beijing. All these have long lost their glory and now they are remembered in glass cases and fossils. Then my thoughts turned to SPCQ. Why a museum on its 50th anniversary? My friend flashed a devilish smile.

He played the devil’s advocate; I played the student’s role. He raised the mercury, so with my enthusiasm. I did my assignment. There are museums like the giant Smithsonian Complex and the provincial Manitoba museum in Winnipeg that do not only focus on the past. The space museum projects man’s lofty dreams to conquer space. Hirshorn is a gallery that is both subjective and prospective, veering from the traditional and classic. The Tel-Aviv museum features a documentary of the Iran-Iraq war. The trend of museums today is to link the past and the present, and beat the path for the future. In no other time in history have museums tried to project the fullest breadth of human accomplishments and potentials. They exude a touch of reverence to the Creator, reflecting his faith in the institutions which he built in spite of their imperfections, and man’s glory and admittance of failure – all these point out to one thing: that he is the most special creature that ever lived.

I remember Dr. Dillon Ripley’s words. “ if it is truly active and reflective of its own time, a museum will, like any living thing, change and grow.”

Dynamism lies in keeping abreast with the times - our fast changing modern times, when man in the last two centuries alone, has discovered more things than what all his ancestors probably did.

Humble Beginning of a Museum

In the mind of Dr. Ripley, of course, is one of the magnitude and prestige of the Smithsonian in which he had long been the curator and director. Or those of the internationally known institutions like the Chicago Museum of Natural History, or the Vatican Museum. Then there is Rikj Museum of Holland and the great Louvers of France. Name a country and you will see the finest of her culture in the native land’s museums. But the entire thing has had its early beginning - most probably like how the SPCQ museum got started.

The question is that, “How can a newly born show its worth?” But who does not love a baby? The baby itself is love. He holds the key of idealism in this world of ours. The great promise of God in man is mirrored in his smile and innocence. And he has all the potential that this world would be better to live in with him, as he grows, as he lightens the flame of idealism which in many of us adults had long been extinguished. The SPCQ museum is a baby that rekindles our heart, that tells us that this world will go on despite its imperfection – because we know how to start life again, though the rebirth of faith and hope.

Note: Excerpt from an interview with the author during the inauguration of the SPCQ Museum in 1994

St. Paul: The Museum - Repository of History

Facsimile of original books, chapters deleted by Rizal included.

Rizal at 90, by P Cabrera

The child Jose, earliest photograph

At a corner in the SPCQ museum where once stood an altar many years ago when the Japanese invaders converted the campus into a concentration camp, a small group of visitors bowed in deep thoughts and prayers. For a moment these pilgrims transformed the museum into a holy place.

It was like turning back the hands of time into the Second World War. Now there is peace. There was hatred, but that too, has given way to forgiveness. Despair, and now hope, pride into humility. These contrasting scenarios provide very valuable lessons of man. For man is tempered by war and mellowed by the peace that follows it. All these took place for half a century or so.

The SPCQ museum stands as a witness of the history that shaped SPCQ. The events are the lifeblood of the museum, its walls originally the immaculate walls once stained with blood speak of peace, its pillars the original pillars that withstood the atrocities of war and the tests of the elements and time attest to endurance and posterity.

The museum is not only a repository of history; it is the abode of history. It is like Fort Santiago or the Paco Cemetery. Or the great Pyramids of Egypt, the City of the Dead of the Aztecs, Jerusalem and Rome. These museums have one thing in common: they are part of history. They are living relics that chronicle past events, stirring nationalism while promoting brotherhood in men. They strengthen universal values and rekindle the spirit. They bring the relationship of man with his Creator closer and harmonious.

Since its opening in late 1994, many pilgrims, old and young, parents and students, city and rural folk, have brought significance to the museum. Other than being an educational institution, it has somehow earned respect for pilgrimage.

The building is a early American architecture bearing the basic designs of Greco-Roman style – high ceiling, prominent, bare and square pillars, solid walls with small grilled windows. The entrance is unassuming, yet there is an aura of dignity that engulfs one on opening the door. For a panoramic view meets the eye, with virtually all four corners optically converging. The scene is accentuated by the massive murals depicting some chapters of the life of St. Paul, and widened by the transparency of the glass cabinets allowing the eye to roam freely.

All these no doubt contribute to the pilgrimage atmosphere. But what is revealing are the gathered information of the place coming from no less than the sisters, many of them in their seniors and are living at the nearby Vigil House. Some of the informants have already died, but the memory of the place lives. .

The senior sisters recall the place as a prayer house. “There was an altar which was slightly located towards the left corner of the room adjacent to the backdoor.” And they would point out the place in the museum. The backdoor leads to the basement, which was used as clinic during the Japanese occupation. The wounded and the sick were led to the prayer house and to spend time meditating, praying, or just to let time pass by. On several occasions the dead were brought for the wake.

Imagine that for a period of four years, SPCQ then a novitiate and a school for elementary and high school, was made into a garrison and concentration camp, the same way the Japanese did to UST during the same period. We do not know how many died but many Filipino, American and Japanese soldiers died. There were residents, foreigners, women and children who also died.

My students would ask me whenever I tell them the story if there are ghosts on the campus – or spirits of the dead. “Have you seen or felt one?” I would counter. And the conversation lengthens, creating a world of the supernatural in the process.

Anyone would believe in spirits that may make their presence felt in one way too many, depending on who is telling the story and who are listening. I for one sensed their presence on a number of occasions. The question with believing in the supernatural though is that the mind cannot decipher reality from imagination. But it is this aspect from which we build our stories and beliefs. Take this experience as an example.

In 194 I was painting Saul on Damascus Road into the evening and the museum was dead silent. What a conducive time to paint! Then suddenly the arm of Saul “moved” an inch or two downward. My brush missed the outline. I made the necessary correction but this time the arm had moved upward and now I have two errors to correct. I told myself I was too tired. And left the museum for home. That night I dreamt of Saul holding a red rode, which he was to use to clothe the dying Christ. Early that morning I went to the museum and continued painting the arm. I fixed Saul’s right hand and put on the red robe on it. Where did the idea of the red robe come? Was it a dream or a message I got? What made his arm move? Or was it a way of getting a message across?

I remember at one time in the early part of the painting I received visitors while I was painting the sky on a makeshift scaffolding. Causally they would come and take a look at my work. Sometimes they would ask me a question or two that I would obligingly answer without breaking my concentration. One evening a kind sister visited, She stood for sometime looking at what I was doing on the scaffolding. Anyone at the top could not see well the person below. And not know when she came and had gone. What I remember was her large hat, but that crossed my mind only days later. Who was she? Where did she come from at 9 in the evening?

At one time I was painting Paradise After Rome. This time I did it at home at our front yard. It took me till dusk. A silhouette figure kept passing at the corner of my eye. I would have dismissed it for one but it came twice, thrice, not saying a word and not pausing. But there is semblance of the figure I was painting with the silhouette – a bearded man, tall and heavily built, clothed in flowing robes. The big difference though is that the man I was painting was about to be beheaded while the silhouette was roaming free, with an air of dignity and command.

The following day I changed the man on my painting. Yes, death, I realized is resurrection. So I painted Paul, the resurrected on the day of his execution when Rome was razed by Nero’s torch.

Spirits to me are guiding signals that sometimes take the form of human. They carry messages that lead us to the theme of our art such as in these particular cases. The denominator is goodness – they help us seek goodness, and goodness leads us to truth – truth that is built by strong faith other than reason.
Can we decipher messages the same way we receive communications in daily life? I say no, not always. For the message with deep meaning are not readily evident. One has to labor in order to understand it, and capture the essence of that message.

For example on the painting, SPCQ in Ruins, which I entitled in an accompanying verse, “Grow and Bloom, Grow and Bloom,” an outline of a young devil cast a shadow on the burnt building. This was discovered while I was working on the dying smoke emanating from the fresh ruins. Someone almost shouted at me, “Stop, stop,” and then he explained he was seeing a devil in outstretched hand hovering. I preserved the outline. Anyone who come to the museum today experiences the same thing the discoverer made five years ago. Yes, the war, the killing, the burning, the looting are works of the devil. His imprint makes us aware not to submit ourselves to evil, but rather fight it at all cost.

St. Paul: Thrusts of the Old SPUQ Museum

Michelangelo's Pieta in a series of photos,
from destruction by a madman to restoration.


Abe V Rotor

Until it was replaced, the original St. Paul Museum served as a Window of the Paulinian Community for fifteen years.

1. Showcases Paulinian culture and symbolize unity and solidarity of the Paulinian Community here and abroad;
2. Upholds the spirit of nationalism, while promoting international understanding and brotherhood;
3. Promotes the preservation of Filipino Culture, while keeping the door open to the understanding of other cultures;
4. Upholds the values of tradition, while accepting those that come along with change;
5. Recognizes and promotes research, invention and discovery;
6. Creates awareness in important current issues - social, economic, political, environmental and the like.
7. Helps bridge the gap of the sciences (natural and social) and the Humanities;
8. Shares in keeping the Christian faith in the essence of the SPC vision and mission;
9. Promotes scholarship as an essential aspect in the holistic development of man; and
10. Establishes linkages between and among individuals and institutions in furthering the above thrusts as well as the vision and mission of school and congregation.

Make him a shepherd instead.


Abe V Rotor

One day God saw the hills bald,
Stirred into dust or caked like mud.
God sent Ceres to the farmer and said,
“Make him a shepherd instead.”

x x x

Living with Nature Volume 3, All Rights Reserved

Saturday, June 6, 2009

St. Paul: The Face of Christ - Image or Illusion?

By Dr Abe V Rotor

Acrylic Painting, 36" x 48” by AV Rotor, former St. Paul University Museum, QC


“It inspired a soul to write a book
That touches the eye and heart;
This little light in a hidden nook
Shines where good and evil part.”
- A.V. Rotor, Nymphaea: Beauty in the Morning, 1996

The Face of Christ - Image or Illusion?
Did you see the face of Christ?”

“Where?”

"On a painting.”

"What is this they are talking about, " I asked Sel.

We went to the Audio-Visual Room, spent a moment of silence as we searched for the Face on the 36" x 24" landscape painting. It was painted and a month ago, and presented it in a seminar-workshop at then St. Paul College QC. The theme signifies unity and cooperation among faculty and staff members.

"Can you see it?” I asked.

Sel traced the outline, his finger touching the rough canvas.

"Can you see it?” He threw back the question.

"I see a different one,” I countered and traced the figure differently.

Silence fell again. We exchanged notes and soon enough we were looking at the same face.

Were we seeing The Thing, or only imagining it?

I recalled a story, “Images of Illusion”. A man was viewing an antique painting and saw himself as one of the torturers of Christ.

“Impossible,” he raged. How could it be possible for the painter to have composed a scenery combining a biblical event and a future character? He demanded the art gallery an explanation.

What is illusion?

In metaphysics, the workings of the human mind have been the subject of research and discourse from the time of Plato who coined “psyche” or mind or soul, to Kant whose theory of Existentialism remains as the binding force of man and his Creator which is a fundamental doctrine of major religions. Lately, Jung's primary idea of a person as a whole, and not as assemblage of parts, gave rise to the modern concept of holistic personality. Jung’s work as a psychoanalyst was to recover the lost wholeness of personality, and to strengthen the psyche through the process of psychoanalysis and psycho synthesis.

What Jung was saying is that the mind is made up of three levels: the consciousness, the only part of the mind that is known directly by the individual; the personal unconscious which is the level of the mind that adjoins the ego: and the collective unconscious which he inherited from his ancestral past. All three levels are always in a dynamic state. They are never static like a rock or a tree.

When one is afraid of the dark he is expressing the collective unconscious. If he is afraid a the dark because he may be kidnapped, he is expressing the personal unconscious level, an experience which may have been created by distraught thoughts or brought about by personal conflict or raised a moral issue before. In the dark he may be "seeing” a would-be kidnapper at the slightest suggestion.

Now where does the first level come in? His conscious awareness is put to test in such a situation. He then makes to fullest use his four mental functions, which Jung called thinking, feeling, sensing and intuiting. Depending on the development of these faculties from the time of his birth to his present age, the individual tries to overcome - or enhance - the other two 1eve1s of the mind which at that moment has caused in him fear.

What I am saying is that a mental image may arise from the interplay of the three levels of the mind. First, there is the “model” or an archetype from which the consciousness makes something out of it. This, in turn, is pictured or deleted in the mind through consciousness.

When Sel and I stood before the painting searching we had different archetypes in our mind. But people who have been raised in the same environment and had undergone similar training have many common archetypes from which images can be similarly patterned.

Suppose one does not readily take from the mind's bank a suitable archetype?

“I don't see anything.”

“Face of Christ, you said?”

"What are you talking about? I can only see trees and a stream flowing through them.”

"I still cannot figure it out.”

These observers, based on Jungian psychology, did not have the archetype at the moment to suite the picture they are looking for.

Quite often discussions may ensue while viewing the piece with someone taking the role of a teacher, or one insisting of seeing another thing.

Again, according to Jung, archetypes can be enlarged or reinforced so that they can surface with the help of the consciousness. However, this may not always work.

“I can see it now.”

“Yes, there it is. There is a bigger one beside it. No, actually there are three faces.”

“There is Blessed Virgin Mary at the center.”

“But it looks like a resurrected Christ.”

“See the trunk at the right? Scourging at the pillar.”

"My God! There's a devil clinging on Christ's nose.”

Now, now, the painting is getting overloaded,

As the painter I wanted to put it back to its real and down-to-earth perspective. It is a forest landscape, all right. The trees are the symbol of strength and unity; the flowing stream is life; the rocks are the obstacles we encounter in life; the light rays penetrating through the forest is hope and guidance; the forest itself characterizes the present world we live in; and the central perspective of the painting leads us to the attainment of a common vision and goal.

As I was about to leave, a very young boy came along with his mother. His eyes were bright and his face radiated the innocence of a child.

"Do you see the little cross, mama?” He was pointing at a orange figure, an empty cross laid upon a rock. Then he scanned the whole piece and quickly pointed at things none of us had earlier seen.

“Here is the Holy Family. Here is baby Jesus. There you see angels. You can count them, 1, 2 3, 4, 5, 6..."

“There are thirty-three trees, I was told," interrupted his mother.

"Those are children playing, mama - there under the trees and on the rocks."

I stood beside, speechless. I realized I only read Plato, Kant and Jung. l did not consult the Greatest of them all.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------NOTE; Dr. Abercio Valdez Rotor and Dr. Anselmo S Cabigan were classmates and co-workers in the government, and academe. They have known each other for the last 50 years. The painting was made possible from a poem composed by Dr Cabigan, “Into Your Light” which Dr. Rotor interpreted using acrylic paint on canvas. The painting was presented to faculty members who attended a seminar workshop in 1995. The original painting has been transferred from the former St. Paul University Museum, QC for security reasons and better access to pilgrum.
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References: Light from the Old Arch, by AVR, UST Publishing House 2000; Nymphaea: Beauty in the Morning, AVR, Giraffe Books 1996;Light in the Woods, AVR, Megabooks, Megabooks 1995.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Glycerol Monolaurate (GML) in Virgin Coconut Oil destroys tuberculosis bacteria

Colonies of Mycobacterium tubercolusis

M tuberculosis invading the cells of the lungs

SEM (Scanning Electron Microscope) image
of a single bacterium showing damage caused
by Glycerol Monolaurate


By Dr Abe V Rotor

Virgin coconut oil is perhaps the most important product derived from coconut as elixir – and now as anti-bacterial medicine.

This finding is based on the response of ten selected strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) on exposure for 24 hours to the minimum inhibitory concentration of GML, which is on the level of 250 micrograms per milliliter (ug/ml).

This is comparable to the effectiveness of anti-TB drugs (streptomycin, isoniazid, rifampicin, and ethamburol), and in fact, GML proved effective to one bacterial strain which is resistant to isoniazid.

The growth of seven confirmed M tubercolusis clinical strains isolated from sputa of TB cases was found to be inhibited by the same glycerol monolaurate concentration.

This result was presented by Jonathan Cabardo in his dissertation for a PhD degree in biological science at the University of Santo Tomas. His adviser is Dr Delia Ontengco, a well known microbiologist and professor at the UST Graduate School.

I asked Dr Cabardo the mechanics on how the tuberculosis bacteria are attacked and killed by GML. This is how he explained it.

“The various morphological changes observed in GML-exposed cells were absence or discontinuity of the outer layer of the cell, wide spaces between the cell membrane and the outer electron-dense layer of the cell envelop, suggesting the shrinking of the cell, vacant spaces within the cell, partial or complete loss of cellular components, burst cells that caused leaking out of the cellular materials into the medium, and plain cellular debris in the medium. Furthermore cell division was not apparent in GML-exposed cells.”

The impressive results of the study give clear evidence that GML can kill the highly pathogenic Mycobacterium tuberculosis, both drug susceptible and resistant strains. Isoniazid-resistant cells were also killed by GML, suggesting that GML is not affected by the mechanism that causes Mtb resistance to isoniazid, a primary drug for active tuberculosis.

It is concluded that GML is mycobactericidal at 250ug/ml. It is recommended that further tests be conducted on other active tuberculosis cases to expand the medicinal and economical value of glycerol monolaurate or monolaurin, a derivative of virgin coconut oil. x x x

Reference: ad VERITATEM: Multi-Disciplinary Research Journal of the UST Graduate School, Volume 8, Number 1 October 2008. Acknowledgement: photos from Wikipedia.