Monday, June 28, 2010

Man, Heaven and Earth

Chapel of turrets and bricks, old English architecture.
Stained glass altar, side windows' view (below)
Panoramic views from the hill top - inner slopes of Tagaytay Ridge.

Highland climate favors Norfolk pine trees
Royal palm and champagne bottle palm trees, and bromeliads
dominate the landscape.

Man, Heaven and Earth - in this order
that I feel blessed on this holy hill;
My feet on the ground, my thoughts yonder,
My body and soul rise to His will.

God put together in trinity -
Man, Heaven and Earth in a trio
Key to harmony and unity,
Calaruega a keyhole view. ~

Home, Sweet Home with Nature, AVR

Living Rock

Abe V Rotor

Shower me with petals of red and orange glare,
Ephemeral on the concrete floor in summer air;
Let the sun shine on my guests - a twosome fair,
Whispering sweetly, building castles in the air. ~

Home, Sweet Home with Nature, AVR

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Reliving Old West

Abe V Rotor

Old West scene in make believe illusion in a city restaurant.

Roll back the years to the era of the cowboys
when the old west was prairies and buffaloes roaming
free under the blue sky and myriads of stars,
the land etched with rivulets and meandering streams,
in the days of Mark Twain and John Wayne's films,
when creases on the forehead build sweet memories
that momentarily seize the passing of years.

Dedicated to all fathers on the occasion of Father's Day, June 26, 2010

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Part 1: Self-Administered Test on Back to School

Vacation is over, go back to school

Abe V Rotor
Instructor, Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (School-on-Air)
DZRB 738 KHz AM Band 8 to 9 evening Monday to Friday

1. To our beloved students in particular: Remember that good grooming encompasses holistic personality - the inside and outside of the person, so to speak, as reflected by his appearance and actions.

2. Wearing your uniform speaks of you being a teacher, student, parent, policeman, doctor, etc. When not wearing your uniform you are excused from your duties and responsibilities.

3. Revive good handwriting in school is good but not necessary anymore, because of the technological advances of computers – writing, printing, recording, publishing, audio-visuals, blogs, e-mail – why care about handwriting, it’s passe’.

4. It is cheaper and faster, and most likely better tasting, fast foods as long as they are the top in the fast food chain – kilala, malinis, cordial pa ang service, at international pa ang pangalan. Don’t bother to prepare baon. It’s messy – at mas expensive in the long run.

5. Children studying in exclusive religious schools are better disciplined and guaranteed to uphold values than those studying in other schools.

6. Reward and punishment is a must between parent and children, teacher and student, or similar relationships where good deeds are compensated. The most potent and effective reward is that which can be translated to material things and money, especially.

7. If you are in school, make sure that you behave so that your teacher will speak highly of you – pay attention in class and do your homework. Treat your teacher with respect. Do all these with the end in view of getting a good grade and earning a good reputation among your classmates – perhaps you will get also a medal of good conduct and behavior.

8. Schools are not generally receptive to prohibit carbonated drinks and junk foods in school because these are major source of income of canteen and concessionaires.

9. Schoolyear, welcome back to school. It’s a joy to our children. They look forward to it. To many, it’s more than all the joys of Holidays. Kaya, pagbigyan mo naman sila. Give our children new clothes, shoes, notebooks, if possible all new – kaya nga new schoolyear. Pamper our children once in a while.

10. Bayanihan is only a lesson but not really a practice in schools. It’s in rural areas and on the farm, other workplaces where we see Bayanihan in Action – nonetheless our students should have enough awareness of the concept.

11. Flexibility as a virtue allows us to be thrifty and to save, to avail of those locally available, our own products, above all, it is a guarantee of our freedom and right – the right to choose.

12. Growing affluence and increasing level of living standard take us farther and farther away from the basic concept of work, thus less and less young people go for the blue collar courses, and blue collar course are made into white one.

13. Where have all the brilliant young ones gone? They are in engineering, biology, chemistry, physics, medicine, law and in the PMA.

14. The corporate world swallowed up small businesses and farms, family business and cooperatives. Gone is Small is Beautiful (by Schumacher). That is why we should emphasize bigness in education.

15. Flu, in general, specially A(H1N1) or swine flu, is so contagious, mere physical nearness can transmit the contagion, that is why quarantine rules and procedures are very strict all over the world.

16. Greening Movement means protecting the environment, eating more fruits and vegetables rather than meat, practicing Ecological Intelligence like using wax paper instead of styrophore, banana leaves instead of plastic, and the like.

17. You really cannot attribute success neither to your capability as a person alone, nor Providence alone. There are simply people who tend to rely more on their own capabilities before they expect Providence to intervene. Likewise there are those who tend to believe in the Providence above anything else.

18. A person who attributes his success to the Higher Principle, the Unseen Hand, more than his own capability, his efforts, sacrifices, is an existentialist. This philosophy is called Existentialism.

19, 20, 21, 22 A lot of young people grow up in sub-cultures of brokenness, divorce, drugs, sexual temptations, etc. They may have friends, and much leisure – but they are constantly looking of some kind of fulfillment and assuring thoughts and feeling, a real sense of belonging. There are four institutions that shape the character and ensure a good future of our children, namely

22. The greatest concern parents have on their children with subjects of 25 units, and many assignments is stress. Stress can lead to more serious consequences if not arrested early enough.

23. Our children are exposed to many diseases this rainy season like typhoid, diarrhea, leptospirosis, dengue and flu. Sanitation and cleanliness are the most practical means of disease control management, which must begin at home.

24. Manila, because of the Marikina Fault line, and the alluvial ground, and rising sea water, has been ranked lately as No 7 earthquake prone city in the world. That’s why we have to take emergency drills seriously, specially in school.

25. Fatalism is in Pilipino _______________.

ANSWERS: 1t, 2f, 3f, 4f, 5f, 6f, 7f, 8f, 9f, 10f, 11t, 12t, 13f (They are in computer science, healthcare and courses of the least resistance.) 14f (Small businesses have taken the reverse advantage, specially in the present economic crisis.) 15t, 16t, 17t, 18t, 19 to 22 (In any order: home/family, school, church, community) 23t, 24t, 25 Bahala na

Outstanding 23-25
Very Good 19-22
Good 15-18
Fair 11- 14
Failed 10 and below - Listen regularly to Paaralan Bayan sa Himpapawid

Part 2 : Self-Administered Test on Back to School

Abe V Rotor
Instructor, Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid, 738 KHz AM DZRB
8 to 9 evening Monday to Friday
Schoolyear 2010-2011

1. Parents must respect the right of their children – never open and scrutinize their school backpacks in their absence or without their permission.

2. Where it is feasible encourage your child to walk or bike in going to school. It is an excellent way to keep him or her physically fit. Ensure the bike is in good working condition, that the helmet fits properly and the bike has a bell and warning sign.

3. Ensure your children a healthy hunch (baon) and snacks that will provide them energy through the day. Secure their food and water in a convenient containers. Bottled water and juices are a great way to keep kids hydrated.

4. Don’t be too critical about carbonated softdrinks, zero calories and food with MSG – these being deleterious to health is exaggerated. How could they be in the market and used by so many people if they are not safe? Don’t deprive your children from these foods.

5. Lay the breakfast table the night before. This will facilitate work during rush hour, and allow the children to eat on their convenience, and according to their school schedule.

6. Put out your clothes the night before. Lay out a complete set of clothes for each child. Older children should do these themselves. You can double check when you say goodnight. Then if something is missing (like shoes need polishing) you have time to put it right. Lay your own clothes out too!

7. Set up base camp where the children keep all their school things. But each child must have his own things separate from the others’. There is a common place for sports equipment, reference books, shoes, umbrella, and the like. This will train them of group and individual discipline. Here goes the saying, “A place for everything and everything in its place.”

8. Fill out a schedule of what is needed at school on each day and pin it up at base camp. Check each morning before you walk out the door that you have the appropriate kit or backpack. Keep abreast with schedule and requirements of school activities. Plan ahead, that’s why you have a weekly and monthly planner.

9. Establish a place and time for doing homework and stick to it. Check Internet, printer and other gadgets functioning. Have dictionaries and other necessary books nearby, as well as school tools and supplies always available. Always put the base camp in order after finishing home projects and assignments.

10. Set your watch exact on time, so with the alarm clock. In this way you are like the Swiss – they are always on time exact to the second. Your teacher will praise you for you exactness and promptness.

11. Write out an action plan for dealing with any chronic health conditions your child might be suffering like asthma and allergies to guide the school physician and your child's teachers in attending to him, especially during emergency.

12. Make sure that you have contact numbers of your child’s close companions, his school and teachers, especially the adviser. Keep up-to-date emergency phone numbers on ready file, for both you and other members of the family.

13. Have your kids minimize or avoid stimulating activities, such as computer games, within one hour of bedtime. And make sure they go to bed and wake up about the same time every day.

14. Laging handa (Be prepared always) - this Boy Scout motto applies to all. Is your car running short of gas? Is the ref empty? Who will take care of the pets? You will miss the bus. These are all parents’ responsibilities – the children are still young anyway.

15. There are schools that are so-called diploma mills. It means these schools are at the low end of education where admission policies are extremely liberal. It’s all right to enroll your bright child in these schools and you will find out how he will shine.

16. One test to find out that these schools are at the low end is that their graduates have very low performance in professional board exams, low preference in employment, low priority in scholarships, grants and awards.

17. Your child’s study habit is based on his being an owl or lark, so to speak. This is just unfounded; anyone can study better either in the night of in the morning according to his choice and preference.

18. By the way the owl person is not so receptive in his studies in the evening specially deep into the night like the owl bird. It’s the lark that has this habit, that’s why it is happy to greet the day with a song.

19. No one actually is exempted from this evolutionary adaptation – either you are a night or day person. It’s a Darwinian survival mechanism. Any deviation is temporary, the genes have the final say.

20. If your child has shallow sleep, he sneezes like he has colds, it’s because his bedroom if inhabited with countless microscopic dust mites. They feed on flakes that fall off daily from the skin and hair. The best way to get rid of these mites is to use extra strong insecticide because mites are more resistant than insects.

21. Simplify and organize your room. The fewer things we have in our room the better. Take out those books, magazines, especially newspapers. Vacate the room of cosmetics, medicine and food. Take off the racks and shelves because they accommodate dust. And take that computer out of your room.

22. As long as your bedroom is presentable, you can make it as your work area you’re your classmates and friends. Why not?

23. The best schools are those accredited by local, national and international accrediting organizations that confer autonomous status and brand of excellence. More and more schools in the world today are relying on them rather than their own internal management systems.

24. School preparedness drills – earthquake, fire, terrorists – must not be taken for granted. Check your children’s working knowledge and acquired skills if these can be applied in the home as well.

25. Our children are our greatest assets in life, our legacy, our hopes and dreams. Invest in them for their future. Give them all they need, but don’t spoil them. The greatest thing we can ve them is __________. ~

ANSWERS: 1t, 2t, 3t, 4f, 5t, 6t, 7t, 8t, 9t, 10f (5 or 10 minutes earlier), 11t, 12t, 13t, 14f, 15f, 16t, 17f, 18f, 19t, 20f, 21t, 22f, 23f, 24t, 25 Love.

Outstanding 23-25
Very Good 19-22
Good 15-18
Fair 11- 14
Failed 10 and below Listen regularly to Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Course Syllabus in Advanced Ecology

Dr Abe V Rotor
University of Santo Tomas

University of Santo Tomas

II. COURSE TITLE: Advanced Ecology
III. No. of Units: 3
IV. Prerequisite: None

V. COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course deals with the interrelationship among organisms on one hand, and between organisms and their environment on the other, as they influence the ecosystems and the biosphere as a whole. The study includes the factors affecting the structure and function of ecosystems as they are affected by natural phenomena and by the action of man.

VI. COURSE OBJECTIVES: At the end of the course, the students are expected –
A. General Objective: To understand the workings of natural laws governing the major ecosystems that make up the biosphere and the effects of human activities on their diversity, organization, cycle and structure.

B. Specific Objectives:

1. To trace the bio-geo-chemical cycles as they affect the composition and dynamic balance of the living and non-living environment.

2. To trace the energy flow through the food chain, food web and food pyramid as these determine species survival, diversity and distribution, dominance etc, in relation to their natural habitats and the ecosystem they form.

3. To study the major communities (biomes) and their various ecosystem components, their interrelationships and changes (seres) that characterize their dynamic balance.

4. To relate ecology with the physical and social sciences (e.g. pollution as a technological and social issue)

5. To find solutions to current environmental problems such as the endangered species, deforestation, pollution and the like.

6. To appreciate the aesthetic value and function of a balanced environment, its influence on the development of a wholesome character and inspiration in the arts and other fields of human endeavor.

7. To understand the concept of planning and programming of environmental conservation, parks and wildlife management, human settlements, modern concepts of parks and zoos, sustainable agriculture and the like.

8. To study various movement and institutional programs led by the Church, government, NGOs, media education and civil society on matters pertaining to ecology (e.g. overpopulation, poverty, industrialization)


1. Introduction ---------------------------------------------------------------- 9 hours
Overview of ecological principles
- Energy flow
- Bio-geo-chemical cycles
- Diversity of life and evolution

2. Community Ecology ----------------------------------------------------- 9 hours
- Biomes and ecosystems
- The Tropical Rainforest: A Model biome and ecosystem
- Marine Ecology
- Seres and Niches
- Sustainability and destruction of ecosystems

Core Value: Faith and Reverence
Faculty leads in understanding the magnificence of creation, its “unity in diversity,” “homeos- tasis in change,” and “holism in complexity;” assures man’s innate goodness to prevail over his inadequacies and excesses as custodian of God’s creation.

3. Pollution -------------------------------------------------------------------- 9 hours
- Solid waste management (landfill, recycling, etc.)
- Industrialization and its by-product
- Water and air pollution
- Nuclear and highly toxic wastes
- Pesticides and environmental hazards

Core Value: Critical thinking and Organization
Faculty stimulates students to elevate level of consciousness in critiquing major issues of ecology
through research and creative skills development, while expanding their social consciousness on such issues.

4. Human Ecology ---------------------------------------------------------- 6 hours
- Population and demography
- Urbanization and growth of mega cities
- GNP and HDI: Ecological implications
- Endangered ethic communities and cultures

Core Value: Integration and Projection
Faculty stresses the importance of looking beyond present-day problems, instilling in them the value of preparedness. He emphasizes interdisciplinary and integrative approaches in ecology so as to encompass the natural and social sciences.

5. Environmental conservation ----------------------------------------- 6 hours
- Reforestation and re-vegetation
- National parks and wildlife conservation
- Environment-friendly and natural farming
- Soil and water conservation

Core Value: Zeal and Involvement
Faculty encourages his students in conservation measures through individual initiative - at home and community; leads his students to curve the ill-effects of environmental destruction; commits himself together with his students as catalyst of change through Christian and Filipino values in making this world a better place to live.

6. Values, laws and movements about the environment -------------- 9 hours
- Role of education, media, church, government, private and civic organizations
- Clean Air act and other laws
- Protocols from Stockholm, Uruguay, Nairobi, Kyoto, Rio de Janeiro conferences
- Environmentalism and concept of heroes for Planet Earth

Core Value: Ethical action
Faculty instills value of community concern as God-fearing and law-abiding citizen, developing the students potential for leadership.

7. Major Ecological Issues and Case Studies --------------------------- 9 hours
- El NiƱo, red tide, global warming
- Genetic engineering, GMO
- Zero waste management
- Threats to biodiversity
- Sustainable Progress and Development: An Outlook
- Other issues

Core Value: Community Building and Involvement
Faculty instills community involvement and participation in ecology projects/programs in the immediate communities of the students; demonstrates recycling and other projects in ecology.

TOTAL -------------------------------------------------------------------------- 54 hours

1. Student-teacher interaction (recitation, question-and-answer session)
2. Group dynamics (group discussions. role playing)
3. Classroom and field demonstration, field study
4. Projects (e.g. transforms, recycling)
5. Handouts, reference materials, audio-visual aids

Major exams 40%
Class standing 60% (attendance 10%, quizzes/tests 20%, project, report 20%)
1. Class attendance 5. Field research/field trip
2. Class participation 6. Projects (e.g. transforms)
3. Quizzes and tests 7. Assignments and research papers
4. Major examinations 8. References: books, journals, audio-visual aids

1. Avadhuta, Acarya P (1990) Neo-Humanist Ecology Ananga Marga Manila 151 pp
2. Brown L R (1992) State of the World. A Worldwatch Institute Report 256 pp
3. Brewer R (1994) The Science of Ecology 2nd ed Saunders Publishing 773 pp
4. Carson R (1960) Silent Spring
5. Croall S and W Rankin (1980) Ecology for Beginners Pantheon Books 175 pp
6. Garcia MI (1997) Ecologia Filipina Maricon Enterprises 257 pp
7. Odum E (1971) Fundamentals of Ecology 3rd ed Saunders 574 pp
8. Raven PH and GB Johnson (1988) Understanding Biology 3rd ed W Brown 900 pp
9. Rotor A.V (2003 and 2005) Living with Nature Series (2 vols)UST Publishing House
10. Rotor AV (2000) Light from the Old Arch UST Publishing House
11. Schumacher EC (1965) Small is Beautiful
12. Soriano LE (1995) Save the Earth: What Schools Can Do Phoenix 186 pp
13. Stiling P (1998) Ecology: Theories and Applications 2nd ed Prentice-Hall 539 pp
  • Journals and magazines
  • Internet
  • Cable TV: National Geographic, History, Living Asia, Bio and Discover
  • Movies and documentary: An Inconvenient Truth, Life After People series, Fly Away Home, Swiss Family Robinson, Robinson Crusoe, Moby Dick, Flipper

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Discurso de Apertura UST Quadricentennial Schoolyear 2010-2011

Monument of the founder, Fr Miguel de Benavides.
Background is the main building of the university.

The University of Santo Tomas formally opened the schoolyear 2010-2011 with a mass of the Holy Spirit, followed by the traditional Discurso de Apertura delivered by by Atty Nilo Divina, dean of Civil Law. The schoolyear coincides with the 400th anniversary of UST, the oldest university in Asia founded in 1611 by Rev Fr Miguel de Benavides, and granted Pontifical University by the Vatican.

Here is the gist of Dean Divina's message to the faculty, staff and students of the university.

  1. Start with a dream, and dream big. (citing Albert Einstein, man of the 2oth century)
  2. Work hard (citing Thomas Edison, the indefatigable American inventor of the incandescent lamp and 101 inventions)
  3. Rise from failures (citing Walt Disney, originator of Mickey Mouse and Disneyland, and Bill Gates, computer magnate)
  4. In all things you do, put the Imprimatur of Excellence as your Signature.
  5. Passion for excellence applies to all - excellence with moral values, and taking a moral stand when needed.
Be Role Models. Yes, we can! (citing US president Obama's credo)

Lesson on Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid, AVRotor June 15, 2010,

Petit Berries of Aratilis ( Muntingia calabura)

Abe V Rotor

Fruits of aratilis (Muntingia calabura), favorite of children and birds.

The tree is small, but sturdy. Its fruiting branches can be pulled down. But
children would rather climb the tree and feast on its ripe fruits. (Lagro Subd., QC)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Part 3: The Irreversibility of Domestication - Green Revolution

Apple mango, product of selective breeding

Dr Abe V Rotor

Domesticated plants and animals may be classified according to the manner and degree with which their relationship with man is defined. One has lead to total dependency like hybrid crops of corn, rice, wheat, and hybrid animals like today's Landrace swine, and Bantress broiler. The more we modify farm animals for greater economic advantage, the more we make them dependent on us.

Not only that. We narrow down our choice of genes that directly benefit us. Of the 100,000 cultivars in the gene bank of IRRI, we can count with the fingers so to speak of the varieties actually planted. And this is farther narrowed down to the present commercial varieties.

Wheat varieties have been likewise narrowed down on the former prairies of North America. Scientists warn that a major pest outbreak can drastically decrease yield. So with the effects of sudden change in climate. Generally the higher the level of diversity is - different species, varieties, different time planting and harvesting, so with the technology used, etc - the less impact a calamity can cause. High diversity provides natural barriers against the spread of epidemic. They cut down life cycles of pests and pathogens. They provide alternative sources of food.

This is the grave danger of a highly specialized culture. We call it monoculture which fits well with mechanization, bulk handling and processing, infrastructure, etc. Monoculture is designed with the supply and demand of commodities in the international market, as in the case of cereals, meat and dairy products.

Today domesticated animals cannot survive without antibiotics, plants without chemical fertilizers and pesticides, or irrigation. They lose their hybrid vigor in the second generation, more so in the succeeding ones. We have caused organisms to live in places they are not supposed to be adopted. We brought the Anglo-Nubian Goat from the high Steppes of the Middle East to the tropic. Highland crop such as Irish potato though still a temperate crop can now be grown on the lowland. Grapes from temperate countries are now grown in the warm tropics.

The history of civilization is also a story of agriculture in three sequences: domestication of organisms of the wild into the folds of agriculture. This took place in the Fertile Crescent which was to become the seat of the Babylonian civilization. Chinese settlements were even of earlier date.

The second phase in the improvement of stocks and varieties through agronomy and horticulture which lasted for many centuries. The third is the opening of new frontier and diversification. The horizon of agriculture expanded, new products discovered that led to diversification. It too, led to the Age of Colonialism which lasted for several centuries, around four hundred years in the Philippines. Avocado and kalachchi came from Mexico, grapes and citrus from Europe.

Modern agriculture was born out of science and technology beginning in the fifties. Here domestication became mass production and increased productivity. Plants and animals - and microorganisms, as well, began to be raised in volumes. They became living machines to produce large quantities in a short period of time milk, cheese, oil, starch, meat, perfumes, rubber, resin, medicine and drugs, wood, etc. to meet the demand of an expanding market, and to meet the needs of a rapidly expanding population and increasing affluence in living.

I remember the story of the Mutiny on the Bounty. It's about a ship loaded with seedlings of breadfruit or rimas (Artocarpus communis) to be planted in British penitentiary islands. It is a classical example of introducing plants across the globe - something nature can't do within our lifetime. It's like introducing the penguin from the South Pole to the North Pole all the way across the equator. Well, the ship ran into trouble when a certain Christian led a mutiny that deposed Captain Bligh. The ship was commandeered to Tahiti. Captain Bligh miraculously survived the long dangerous trip to England in the long boat. Subsequently the mutineers were hunted down and brought to justice. Others were killed in the process, others died mysteriously.

With genetic engineering whereby genes or genetic materials are spliced and incorporated into an entirely different organism, we are playing God's role of creating new life forms heretofore unknown. We are tinkering on speciation, the tortuous, slow process of species formation. It is unthinkable to apply Charles Darwin's theory of evolution that only the fittest survive the long and uncertain pathway of evolution. Here we are doing the short cut, a detour from the rules of reproduction. It is no longer the joining meeting of male and female gametes to form a zygote, it is not enough to multiply plants and protists through asexual means.

Genetic engineering has opened creation in man's hand by rearranging the code of heredity, in fact the "book of life" according to our purpose and pleasure - not even from the dictate of our conscience. It is a short cut not only to domestication, but creation itself. Genetic engineering is a modern version of Frankenstein that created a monster which had no name - except the fear that remains to this day in the hearts of the meek, peace-loving and righteous people. We who detest the atomic bomb, biological warfare, global warming, and now genetic engineering - the Aladdin's Lamp to ultimate domestication - human cloning. ~

Dragon cactus, recently introduced from Vietnam.
Dragon fruit is commercially grown and exported

by Israelis farming the desert.

Living with Nature 3, AVR

Bedroom is where you spend half of your lifetime. Always keep it clean.

House dust mite (Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus) greatly
magnified under electron microscope.
It makes the bedroom its home.

Abe V Rotor

The one place we least expect to find dirt in is under our bed.

Here clouds of talc powder settle down, particles slowly crumble from paper, paint, plastic, clothes and foam as they slowly disintegrate. Flakes that fall off daily from our skin and hair attract countless mites that co-habit with us in our room. Wiping and sweeping often miss them stuck in corners and crevices.

We sneeze as if struck by an allergy. Our nostrils clog and we mistake our misery for colds. Our sleep is shallow and disturbed. When humidity is high our room smells musky. Imagine how bad the smell is for those who are bed smokers.

Many of us are living in this kind of room. While we can hide dirt under the rug, we cannot hide the dirt under our bed.

If you suspect to be a victim to this condition, these are the things you can do.

1. Have a general cleaning in your room, say one weekend in March to coincide with springtime. It is best to take the bed out so that you can expose it under the sun for at least two hours. This will drive out all the mites, bedbugs and vermin. Scrub, beat if it is foam, and vacuum it if necessary. Clean the room walls and ceiling with warm water and mild detergent. As for the floor scrub and polish it.

2. Simplify and organize your room. The fewer things we have in our room the better. Take out those books, magazines, and old newspapers. Remove unneeded cosmetics and medicine. Keep no food in the bedroom. Dispose of those racks and shelves that tend to accumulate dust. And keep that computer out of your room. You can have a TV, radio, study table, and a few of your “favorite things”. Try not to make your room into a collector’s showcase of figurines, dolls, posters, Mementos, etc.

3. Next, clean the apparador or closet. You are likely to encounter another pest there – the silverfish (Lepisma saccharina). This is an insect that eats on old clothes and paper. It is a most primitive of all insects, and perhaps the most resistant. If your barong (Filipino formal shirt) bears some poke holes, it is likely the work of this pest. The silverfish likes starchy materials, and natural fiber.
Silverfish (Lepisma saccharina) feeds on clothes and paper

Other tenants in your room are the fungi. Fungi live on old materials, especially under humid conditions. They are the moldy growth on your shoes, bags, at the edge of the mirror, on top of cosmetic cream, on the armchairs. They cause buni, an-an, and athlete’s foot. Because they cannot produce their food by photosynthesis, unlike the plants, they have to become saprophytes (nature’s scavengers), subsisting on almost anything, including the lens of the camera.

4. The number one enemy of fungi is sunlight. Allow sunlight to penetrate into your room as much as possible. Do not store moist materials, especially clothes in your room. Expose fungi-prone materials like shoes and bags to the sun by bringing them out, or letting the sunshine in. Open the case and click your camera directly toward the sun if you intend not to use it for sometime.

5. Your room should be clean, cool and dry. Air conditioning is good, but a room that allows natural ventilation and sunlight is best. The ideal kind of room is one integrated with the outdoors where one step leads to the garden and to nature, which is the essence of the American bungalow architecture. Here the confluence is not only defined by aesthetics, but by spiritual communion.

It should be a room where we can find time to meditate. Away from the maddening crowd, we seek refuge from the fast pace of life outside. Here is a poem for meditation.

Dust in My Room

‘Lone in my room, I wrote and wrote:
The door was locked, my meal was cold;
With clumsy hands, my pen once dropped,
On all fours did grope in the dark.

There to a curb, it rolled and rolled.
Into a mat of dust and web.
Whence I found, a tale untold
Of my life like the tide in ebb.

Words flowed, like a river on rush,
To be weaned, yearning to be free;
Chronicler, vanguard too, oh dust,
Like lost jewels in the blue sea.

Our health is greatly influenced by our room, the place we rest our tired bodies, where we keep ourselves away from the rigors of work. This is where we spend half of our lifetime. It is the very core of Home, Sweet Home.

Other tips in making our room an ideal place of rest and good health.

1. Never make your bedroom your office. By all means, never make it your working area, dining room, guest room.

2. Avoid making your bedroom a storeroom. You are only inviting cockroaches, mosquitoes and flies, and even rats.

3. Secure doors and windows with screen. Be sure to clean screen regularly as they are dirt traps. Check on any possible passageway of vermin, especially mice and rats.

4. If you share your room with others, have a common agreement on good house keeping.

5. If you have a problem of bedbugs, flea and mites, the most practical way is to place some dried leaves of madre de cacao (Gliricida sepium), or neem tree (Aziderachta asiatica) under the mat. Consult a pest control officer. To rid your room of mosquitoes check your screen. Do not use chemical spray or aerosol. If you cannot help it, use a plant derivative insecticide such as pyrethrum and rotenone. Allow at least three hours before occupying the room. Do not spray inside. As a rule, the presence of vermin in your room is an indicator of unsanitary condition.

6. If your room is newly painted, do not occupy it. Paint fumes are harmful. Place some pieces of charcoal at a corner to absorb the gas molecules in the air, thereby reducing the odor. Place a bowl of natural vinegar in a corner to reduce chemical and foul odor

7. If you are building a house or designing your bedroom, present your plan to the architect and hear his suggestions.

8. Keep noise levels as low as possible. Piped in music can be soothing. That goes with subdued light.

9. Always be prepared in case of emergency to find the fire exit or the nearest gate.

10. Lastly, for those who are religious, a crucifix and a bible will serve as reminders that we are not alone in our room. For other religions, it is equally important to exercise devotion and reverence to God in the bedroom. After all there is but one God that binds us all.

x x x

Living with Nature 3, AVR. Photos credit Internet Wikipedia.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Tuk-tuk: Unique Thailand Tricycle

Abe V Rotor

Friendly driver - he will take you to any place in downtown Bangkok.

Anna on the wheel - one-half car, one-half tricycle

Public utility or personal vehicle

Rear view

Slack time


People's car, people's invention,
People's utility, people's recreation;
Tuk-tuk is the name, it is the same
Tricycle - versatile and also sane;
King of the alley, on-the-go all day,
Sleek and trendy, friendly through the way.
GPS move over, Bangkok's by memory,
Save your map - just hold on and pray. ~

Living with Nature 3, AVR

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Monsoon ends fruit season

Goodbye to siniguelas or sarguelas in Ilk (Spondias purpurea), strictly a tropical summer fruit.

Fruit flies emerge with the first rain and breed rapidly on ripe fruits of guava, mango, chico, cucumber, etc.
Atis (Anona squamosa) - Rain stops flowering and fruiting, and the remaining fruits in the tree are attacked by the larva of a moth that tunnels into the fruit at any stage.

Star apple or caimito (Chrysophyllum cainito) is strictly a summer fruit. When buying caimito watch out for holes made by fruit flies. The maggots are likely inside the fruit. They are small and white, jerky in movement and they catapult when disturbed.

Goodbye to kamachili (Pithecolobium dulce). Although it is not commercially sold, it is very popular to children on the farm and pasture.

Premature falling of fruits is a result of gall attack and extreme heat and prolonged drought. The damaged fruit (top) is caused by fruit bat.

Goodbye to durian, except off season varieties. This fruit was harvested from a nearby residential lot near La mesa Dam, QC
Tiesa (Lucuma nervosa) bears plenty of these bright colored fruits which drop to the ground when fully ripe. Its fruiting season is summer.

Rambutan is seasonal, too. It's a highly decorative tree in summer. Don Antonio Heights 2, QC

Watermelon, melon, muskmelon and other cucurbits are all summer crops in the open field. One strong rain can ruin an entire crop.

Other fruits which are getting rare in fruit stands.
  1. Mango
  2. Guyabano
  3. Macopa
  4. Cashew
  5. Dalandan
  6. Nangka
  7. Avocado
  8. Sampalok
  9. Papaya, solo variety
  10. Balimbing
  11. Duhat
  12. Strawberry
And many other fruits. Why don't you add to the list?

Living with Nature 3, AVR

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Confluence of Nature

Mural Painting by Dr Abe V Rotor

Mural on canvas in acrylic (9ft x 8ft) 2010 AVR

Detail: Stream comes to rest

Detail: Lilies of the Pond

Detail: A mirage

Detail: Fish at leisure

Detail: Stream and forest meet

Detail: Light in the woods

Detail: Fire in the trees.

Detail: Sky glows at the falls

Courtesy of Atty Lito and Kristine Doria

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Lightning spawns mushroom

Abe V Rotor
Wild mushrooms are plentiful during
the rainy months, and are often sold
in the local market.

It's a folktale, but it's true. Lightning (and thunder) spawn mushrooms.

In the province, it is a tradition to go hunting for mushrooms in bamboo groves, on anthills, under rice hay and banana stalks during the monsoon season, specifically after a period of heavy thunder and lightning. And what do you know?

Old folks are right as they show you the prize - baskets full of Volvariella (rice hay or banana mushroom), Plerotus (abalone mushroom), Auricularia (tainga ng daga), and a host of other wild mushroom species.

Where did the mushrooms come from?

When lightning strikes, nitrogen (N) and oxygen (O) combines to form nitrate (NO3). Nitrogen in the atmosphere is 78 percent, while oxygen is 21 percent. Scientists call this process fixation or specifically for nitrogen, nitrification.

Nitrate, which is soluble in water, is washed down by rain and absorbed mainly by plants. It fertilizes not only fields and pastures, but rivers and lakes as well. In fact the seas and oceans - leading to rapid growth of algae and plankton organisms, consequently all forms of life participating in food chains, which in turn form into a web of life in the ecosystem. Collectively and ultimately, the whole living world.

This explains the rejuvenation of the living world, particularly during habagat or monsoon season.

Lightning - Nature's way of replenishing nutrients is similarly responsible in the fixation of other elements such as sulfur, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, including trace elements of Bo, Zn, Mn, Mg, Fe and the like, into forms available for use by plants and other organisms. Lightning unlocks the elements and their compounds stored in Nature's chest, to be transformed by living things from inorganic to organic compounds.

Lightning occurs every second - or any fraction of it - on any place on earth. While slower processes take place such as composting of farm residues, and the biological action of Rhizobium and cyanophytes (blue-green algae), it is lightning that contributes most, direct and fast, in maintaining the earth’s supply of these and other life-giving compounds.

Not only green plants benefit from these natural fertilizers, but also phytoplankton (microscopic one-celled plants) - and the lowly mushroom whose vegetative stage is some unassuming downy mass of mycelia enmeshed in decomposing media such as plant residues. With nitrate and other nutrients now available, coupled with favorable conditions of the environment, this saprophyte and its kind transform into their reproductive phase. This is the umbrella-like mushroom we are familiar with. In all its luxuriance and plenty, it is not unusual to discover clusters or hills of mushrooms in just a single spot.

Scientists believe that without lightning, our earth would be an impoverished planet, barely supporting the diversity and density of living things that we enjoy today. While lightning kills and destroys, it is on the other hand, the key to life and balance of the biosphere.~

Living with Folk Wisdom, UST-AVR

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Ode to the Stealth Plant

Abe V Rotor

You are a master of mimicry;
a butterfly of a kind, a new species,
camouflaged in color and morphology;
model of the stealth that rules the sky,
faster than sound, or wink of the eye,
radar-free, top secret of technology,
freed from the lamp like the mean genie;
and I, I simply love to touch your leafy
being that God sent for peace and harmony. ~

Home, Sweet Home with Nature, AVR (All Rights Reserved 2010)