Sunday, August 29, 2010

Part 1: Poison in Food (Ethnic Biology)

Amanita mushroom - highly poisonous

Dr Abe V Rotor

There are poisonous plants and animals found in nature. But there are those, which ethnic societies learned to deal with the poison they contain, and having removed it, eat them without any apparent harm. One example is nami (Dioscorea hispida), a relative of ubi and tugui'. Hispidine is the poisonous principle that can be extracted by means of repeated washing. Like doubtful mushrooms, natives use dogs to test the safety of the product.

The field of ethnobotany and ethnozoology covers interesting studies on how the natives deal with poisonous plants and animals as food, from snakes and puffer fish to wild gabi and cassava. I learned in Ilocos for example, the way cassava is cooked in order to minimize its cyanide content. The tuber is cleaned and cut into pieces, then boiled with the pot cover removed to allow the deadly cyanogas to escape with the steam. By the way storing cassava tuber should be avoided because the cyanide that is concentrated in the bark spreads into the tuber. This is noticeable by the yellowish spots on the tuber. However, this is difficult to notice in the case of the yellow or glutinous varieties of cassava.

The blood of the tangingi is first drained before it is cut and cooked. There are people who are allergic to this kind of fish. The case of my youngest son, Leo Carlo 11, is a classical example of acute allergy to seafood. In the summer of 1998 while my family was vacationing in our hometown, Carlo ate a lot of talakitok eggs. By midnight, four hours after eating, we had to rush him to the hospital. He could hardly breathe, his eyes were virtually shut, and his body was covered with reddish spots. He was immediately given an antihistamine injection. It took him one week to fully recover.

Symptoms of food poisoning from natural toxins appear to have similar patterns, but mortality rates vary depending on the kind and amount of poison. When Red Tide first appeared in the early eighties in Maqueda Bay in Western Samar, there was very little knowledge about PSP (Paralytic Shellfish Poison). This poison accumulates in tahong or green mussel and talaba or oyster without apparent harming them. There were reported deaths due to eating tahong during the red tide season. The affect is on the nerves and muscles, and probably the brain.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Part 2: Poison in Food (Chemicals and Pathogen)

DDT (from its trivial name, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane)
is one of the most well-known synthetic pesticides.

Dr Abe V Rotor

The other kind of food poisons is man-made or man-induced. The most prevalent is farm chemicals. Modern pesticides are designed to cope up with the increasing resistance of insects and pathogens. As a result their residues on food and in the environment have likewise increased tremendously. This is even worst in the case of systemic pesticides that penetrate into the innermost part of the plant as they are absorbed and carried throughout the plant's body via its sap. Any insect that feeds on the sap is killed. This property is also present in some phosphatic pesticides and chlorinated hydrocarbons.

Among the first chlorinated hydrocarbon is DDT that was introduced in the forties as the final answer to the malaria problem, controlling mosquitoes, which spread the disease. It is true that DDT is highly effective not only against mosquitoes but other insects as well that its inventor received the Nobel Prize. It was however, discovered years later that it has a residue that is both persistent and cumulative, and transferred through the food chain. Thus, from the mosquito, the DDT is passed on to the fish, to animals that feed on the fish, and ultimately to man. In spite of the fact that it has long been banned there are still traces of DDT residues found in many places, showing either its persistence, or its illegal manufacture and distribution.

Food Poisoning

There was a case of cheese dog poisoning in Rizal. Scores of children, teenagers and adults attending a party were rushed to the nearest clinics and hospitals. Fortunately all of the victims fully recovered.

Cases of typhoid, hepatitis and gastrointestinal diseases have been on the rise because of unsafe water. In Tokyo and nearby cities Escherichia coli, a common gastrointestinal pathogen spread into an epidemic level. It was controlled after banning the suspected source - hamburger.

There is always a cardinal rule in observing food safety, and that is sanitation. Cleanliness speaks of an establishment's image, and has become an important basis in issuing government permits in the operation of food manufacturing plants, hotels and restaurants.

But how clean is clean? The scientist Lister discovered the principle of aseptic cleanliness. Listerine, a mouthwash brand was named after him. Florence Nightingale, the founder of the nursing profession applied Lister's principle in hospital management. But we often exaggerate cleanliness. We use a variety of cleaning agents such as detergents, pesticides, deodorants, air fresheners, and cosmetics.

My father used to warn us in the family, "We are unwittingly introducing into our bodies materials which may be more harmful than the germs we are trying to control." Rub-on mosquito repellant is carcinogenic.

So with Chlorine, which is added to drinking water and swimming pool. Greenpeace, a vocal environment vanguard organization once raised a "Chlorine Kills" campaign against the excessive use of the chemical. Sodium fluoride mistaken for baking powder or wheat flour is extremely harmful, yet fluoride used in small amount in toothpaste helps keep our teeth strong and healthy.

I remember a story of a boy whose anemic condition had for so long remained a puzzle, until one morning his doctor dropped by, and while having coffee with the family, exclaimed, "Why, I know now why your son is sick!" He observed that the gold lining of the coffee cup was being worn out. The boy, or whoever was using the cup, was slowly being poisoned. The fine gold rim was actually painted with lead as paint medium.

How many of our utensils at home contain harmful metals? Do not cook food with vinegar in aluminum pots. Do not use Antimony- or Cadmium-plated utensils. Remember that plastic containers react with food, specially the acidic ones. The microwave oven is not as safe as the conventional oven. There are scientists who believe that microwave triggers radiation, which may be harmful to the body in the long run. In spite of this warning the use of microwave, because of its convenience, has increased.

NOTE: DDT was first synthesized in 1874, DDT's insecticidal properties were not discovered until 1939, and it was used with great success in the second half of World War II to control malaria and typhus among civilians and troops. The Swiss chemist Paul Hermann Müller was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1948 "for his discovery of the high efficiency of DDT as a contact poison against several arthropods." After the war, DDT was used as an agricultural insecticide, and soon its production and use skyrocketed.

In 1962, American biologist Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring. The book cataloged the environmental impacts of indiscriminate DDT use in the US and questioned the logic of releasing large amounts of chemicals into the environment without fully understanding their effects on the environment or human health. The book suggested that DDT and other pesticides cause cancer and that their agricultural use was a threat to wildlife, particularly birds. Its publication was a signature event in the birth of the environmental movement. It produced a large public outcry that led to a 1972 ban in the US. DDT was subsequently banned for agricultural use worldwide under the Stockholm Convention, but limited, controversial use in disease vector control continues.

Along with the Endangered Species Act, the US DDT ban is cited by scientists as a major factor in the comeback of the bald eagle, the national bird of the United States, from near-extinction in the contiguous US. (Wikipedia)


Part 3: Poison in Food (Adulteration)

Abe V Rotor

Here is an outline of food adjuncts and additives, which are reported to be the cause of many ailments and death cases.

1. Seeds of ipil-ipil ground with coffee cause falling hair. It is also a growth retardant due to its mimosin content.

2. Seeds of papaya when dried can pass for black pepper. Papaya fruit contains healthful papain. We do not know the effects of too much papain, or those of other chemical constituents of the seed, content to the body.

3. Vetsin or mono-sodium glutamate retards mental and skeletal growth specially in children. Vetsin may cause drowsiness after eating. To some people the effect is palpitation and irritability. Burglars silence dogs with pandesal containing vetsin. An overdose is fatal to the animal.

4. Formalin is used to extend the shelf life of fish. The malpractice is to inject it in large fishes, or mixed it with the ice water for small ones. Formalin is a strong poison. It is used in embalming. Formalin was detected in buko juice, which led to the decline of the once flourishing local industry.

5. Cyanide in vegetables was first detected in Benguet when the farmers discovered that the water coming from mine tailing had insecticide property. It was later traced to cyanide compounds used in the mining industry. Cyanide is a very strong poison. It is used in gas chamber in the US.

6. Nitrate or salitre is the chief preservative and food color used. in tocino, longaniza and corned beef. One can easily detect in the urine by analysis and smell. Salitre is known to be carcinogenic.

7. Food dyes make food colorful, but be careful. One time I was shocked to discover my urine crimson red. As I prepared to go to the hospital I examined all the food that I had taken that morning. There, innocently wrapped in cellophane, kneaded into balls, as we know sampaloc (tamarind) candy is made, was the culprit. I took one candy ball and immersed it in a glass of water and stirred. Like ink the glassful of water turned red like the Nile. Jubos - shoe dye, was used as food dye!

8. Aspartame has taken the place of saccharine, the original diet sugar. There has been a decline in the intake of diet soft drinks in the US due to unexplained side effects, ranging from high blood pressure to allergic reactions. Why is decaffeinated coffee no longer as popular as before? Will fatless fat (Olestra) ever get FDA's nod? This is a kind of fat that will not make us fat.

9. The cheap kind of vinegar is diluted glacial acetic acid, the same kind of acid used in photography and other industrial processing.

10. Cancer-causing aflatoxin is high in peanut butter. It is just being practical to sell the good seeds as whole peanut, while those of inferior quality are ground into butter. And why is cirrhosis of the liver higher in the south than in the rice-eating regions? It is because corn is more predisposed to the aflatoxin fungus than other cereals.

Modern living indeed has many drawbacks. Artificial food, additives and preservatives are common in our food, which we take everyday. ~

Living with Nature 3, AVR

Resistant Bacteria in Gastrointestinal Tract of Meat Eaters

Escherichioa coli greatly magnified.
Acknowledgment: American Academy of Family Physicians, Wikipedia

Dr Abe V Rotor

The rapidly increasing incidence of drug resistance is now recognized worldwide as a serious threat to the treatment of life-threatening infections in both humans and animals. Antibiotics resistance can emerge as a result of genetic change and subsequent selection process through the use of anti-microbial drugs.

The initial appearance of a resistant bacterium in a susceptible population is often caused by mutation in a single bacterial gene. The frequency of such initial mutation may be low, occurring at a rate of one mutation in a population of several millions. However, other bacteria can become antibiotic resistant at a much higher frequency merely by acquiring a gene from a bacterium that is already resistant.

The genes for resistance can be transmitted or passed on from one organism to another by transformation, conjugation and transduction.

Resistant Bacteria in Gastrointestinal Tract of Meat Eaters

In her doctoral dissertation at the University of Santo Tomas, Vicky Conception Mergal found out that drug-resistant strains of Enterobacter and Escherichia coli found in the gastrointestinal tract is related indirectly to ingestion of meat conditioned to antibiotics, or its combined effect with exposure to medication in cases of infectious diseases.

How do we explain this finding?

The respondents in the study of Dr. Mergal are of two categories. One group consists of vegetarians and the other group of non-vegetarians or regular meat eaters. For the first group, the incidence of finding drug-resistant bacteria is very little. But in the second group – the meat eaters – the existence of drug resistant Enterobacter and E. coli is high.

Overuse of Antibiotics on Poultry and Livestock

Dr. Mergal’s adviser, Dr. Irineo Dogma, has the explanation why there is higher incidence of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract of non-vegetarians because of their intake of meat. As a background to this contention, poultry, hogs and livestock are given consistently high ration of antibiotics in their feeds. This is to safeguard the animals from possible outbreak of diseases, which are a threat to business.

Imagine this scenario of a whole ranch wiped out by foot-and-mouth disease, or a battery of chicken with corriza, a commercial piggery with scouring. Huge investments must therefore be protected with antibiotics even if the animals do not actually need this because they have their own defense mechanism - natural immunity.

Resistance to antibiotics among bacteria is built this way, and repeatedly, more and more of these resistant strains develop, thus necessitating further increase in antibiotic dosage, or change to more potent antibiotics. What happens to the residue of the antibiotics in the body of the animal, or in eggs and milk?

Residual Antibiotics in Bad to Our Health

When we eat meat, eggs and milk from animals treated with antibiotics we are introducing into our body the antibiotic residues that our body does not need. In fact, the presence of antibiotics makes our immune system idle, so to speak. In the event that the supply of antibiotic residues stops, we become predisposed to infection and related kinds of diseases because there is nothing now to suppress the resistant bacteria in our body. This explains the findings of Dr. Mergal, as well as the puzzling high rate of death due to infection – in spite of antibiotic treatment.

This leads us to recall the term, super bacteria and super bugs. These are man-induced resistant pathogens. Man’s interference with nature, and abuses often in the guise of progress has unwittingly created a new Frankenstein. I have the inkling that nature has its own ways of dealing with the folly and abuses of man, and one of them is the emergence of resistant organisms that threatens man himself. ~

NOTE: Escherichia coli (E. coli) are members of a large group of bacterial germs that inhabit the intestinal tract of humans and other warm-blooded animals (mammals, birds. The best-known and most notorious Stx-producing E. coli is E. coli O157:H7. It is important to remember that most kinds of E. coli bacteria do not cause disease in humans, indeed, some are beneficial, and some cause infections other than gastrointestinal infections, such urinary tract infections.E. coli O157:H7 was first recognized as a foodborne pathogen in 1982 during an investigation into an outbreak of hemorrhagic colitis (bloody diarrhea) associated with the consumption of contaminated hamburgers (Riley, et al., 1983). The following year, Shiga toxin (Stx), produced by the then little-known E. coli O157:H7, was identified as the real culprit. In the ten years following the 1982 outbreak, approximately thirty E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks were recorded in the United States (Griffin & Tauxe, 1991. Acknowledgment: Marler Clark Sponsored Websites

Living with Nature 3, AVR

Santiago's Syndrome - when doctors cannot diagnose what's wrong with a patient.

Dr Abe V Rotor

Let me quote a part of Santiago’s Syndrome, one of the short stories written by Dr. Arturo B. Rotor in his later years.

“Naku, you never saw so many doctors in your life,” he reported, “a hundred, maybe two hundred. Many were visitors from the V. Luna Hospital, the Veteran’s Memorial, Far Eastern, Santo Tomas, even from Pasig and Bulacan. All of them talking about me for two hours, my blood pressure, my favorite food, my bathroom habits. See this tiny lump under my arm? They stood in line just to feel that, men and women, professors and interns. Two hundred physicians, attending just one patient.”

But Berto, who occupied a bed just across him, muttered:

“That’s all very well, Tiago. But did they find out what medicine to give you to make you well again?”

“You don’t understand, Berto. First you have to identify a disease before you can treat it. My disease is so rare they have to study it some more. In that room this morning the doctors acted and spoke as if they had never seen anything like me. They don’t even have a name for it, so some professors got up there this morning and suggested that it be called Santiago’s Syndrome for the time being. xxx Long after I’m dead, many doctors will be using my name.”

The complexity of a disease remains. Man’s pursuit for cure and long life has been the preoccupation of our ancestors and it will continue on at an accelerated pace searching for cure and long life. This scene is typical in a modern hospital, and to a typical patient like Santiago, it is one too unfamiliar, too scientific, he could not fathom with his simple thoughts and background.

If we compare this scene with one happening in a remote village, the patient, though equally unfamiliar where people relies mainly on alternative medicine, the original people medicine. the herbolario attends to a patient in the likes of Santiago. It could as well end up with the same syndrome – only in a different name. Maybe associated with a spirit or a wrongdoing in sacred place,

More and more people are recognizing the importance of environmental medicine, alternative medicine and conventional medicine.

In simplistic terms, conventional medicine targets specific ailments as they are properly diagnosed; alternative medicine makes good use of age-old and homegrown remedies - practical and familial; while environmental medicine strives to maintain a natural environment free or reduced of the cause of ailments. From a planner’s point of view the sequence is in this order, inasmuch as creating a healthy environment is primordial, alternative is tradition- and community-based, and conventional is science- and technology-conscious.

Thus the treatment of allergy has been split separately into these camps, with environmental medicine taking the center stage, apparently in response to problems generated by the unabated degradation of the environment. But like conventional allergists, environmental-medicine doctors recognize allergy as an abnormal response to substances that our system recognizes as foreign instead of familial, only that the inclusion of other factors wider in scope and consequences, affecting more than the respiratory tract, the gastrointestinal system, and skin, but whose symptoms include every organ of the body – including the brain, bladder, and reproductive organs – while masquerading as other diseases. Environmental allergists believe that allergy and “environmental illness” are often one and the same. ~

Dr. Arturo B. Rotor Memorial Lecture
11th Biennial Convention, September 6, 2008
Philippine Society of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology

Medusa in the Garden

Abe V Rotor

I left the Garden at the dawn of knowledge,
with the innocence a serpent and beauty
would lead me to the greatest sin;
when the gods left Mount Olympus eons after,
they bequeathed me wisdom yet
unknowing of the same I fell in. ~


Abe V Rotor

Let the sun set, so my spirit shall be,
at the end of day to rest with Thee;
so with all things should come to an end,
to bid goodbye to a faithful friend.

The World of Make Believe

Abe V Rotor
Laugh with a Hippo!

Toss ball with Flipper.

Effervescent indeed is reality,
like cloud to rain, river flowing down to sea;
in scientific lingo or by mere imagery,
all things are ephemeral: from bird in a tree,
fireflies among stars, flower and bee;
tears and joy springing from memory,
unknowing but hope, what lies in posterity;
life is poetry and philosophy;
and truth a make believe story. ~

Living with Nature 3, AVR

Pet Therapy

Abe V Rotor

Bunny at home.

Calf on the farm.

Baby Orangutan: Piggy back ride

Owie on the guard.

Bato bato roosting.

Hello to a boar.

A threesome.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Part 1: Genetic Engineering: Today’s Green Revolution

Acknowledgement: Time Magazine
Dr Abe V Rotor

A general impression about seminars and conferences on Genetic Engineering is to find out if one agrees with the issue or not. One may be asked, “Are you in favor of genetically modified organisms (GMO) and genetically modified food (GMF)? Outside of the hall one may be asked casually of the same question.

It is hard to expect clear yes or no answers. Here is the story to make us understand why – and to help us take side intelligibly on the issue.

We in the older generation have witnessed three revolutions in food production. The first green revolution was the opening of new frontiers, such as the development of Mindanao, the land of promise. The second green revolution was brought about by the so-called miracle varieties, or the introduction and breeding of high yielding crops. In both cases production tremendously increased – horizontally with new lands placed under cultivation, and vertically with higher productivity obtained. The third, which we are experiencing today, is biotechnology, which highlights the radical approach of genetic engineering.

The first Green Revolution pushed production frontiers up to the mountains and down to the sea. Slope agriculture and aquaculture were born. When agronomy succeeded in pushing plants and animals to yield to maximum, we began tinkering with their genes through conventional breeding and atomic radiation. The world proved Malthus to be wrong up to this point.

Today with 6 billion people populating the earth and with their geometric increase unabated, the biggest challenge of mankind is how to meet the tremendous increasing demand for food. By year 2050, the world’s population will be 9 billion. Proponents of genetic engineering believe that only by applying the vast potentials of this scientific breakthrough can the world’s burgeoning population be saved from the Malthusian apocalypse.

By-Products of Green Revolution

The main drawback of the Green Revolution I - that of pushing the frontiers of production - has been the irreversible loss of natural environments and species. For GR II, we spoiled our lands, lakes, rivers and seas with pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals exacerbated by industrial wastes. For GR III – biotechnology – what is causing a lot of fear is Frankenstein-like, a kind of Genie released from the confines of super intellect.

Some even branded GMF as Frankenfood named after Frankenstein, title of a novel written in 1818 by Mary Shelly. It is a story about a brilliant medical student, Victor Frankenstein, who created a monster that terrified the world and at the end turned against his own creator. It is not difficult to associate the concept of genetically altering organisms to Frankenstein syndrome. The story is perhaps the first serious warning on the use of high technology in man’s ambition to play God. GMO is the most controversial issue today that touches all aspects of our life - environmental, health, safety and ethical questions. It is claimed to be anti-God and anti-nature.

The Promise of GMO

“Will Frankenfood feed the World?” is an article written by Bill Gates for Time, Visions of our 21st Century Technology. The multi-billionaire stirs the world on two fronts: GMF has met fierce opposition among the well-fed, but it is the poor and the hungry who need it most.

He admits that even before the warning came – in spite of the information highway – the world was not well informed before hand. There was no global consultation. But GMF is already a part of life of Americans and Europeans. Here are some proofs.

1. A third of the corn and more than half of the soybeans and cotton grown in the US is the product of biotechnology.

2. Since 1992, a total of 70 genetically modified crop plants have been released commercially worldwide. This means that many people have been eating genetically modified food without their knowledge.

3. Only one country in Asia – Malaysia that has not introduced GMO. On the other hand Singapore imports food in bulk from the US and Europe and therefore Singaporeans are likely eating GMF.

4. In the Philippines the most likely GMF we are eating without knowing or being informed about it are those served at fast food stores and PX goods coming from Europe and the US.

But the debate about biotech is tempered by the fact that there is apparent desperate need to feed fast-growing and underfed populations. According to the UN 800 million people around the world are undernourished.

While we cannot rely on conventional agriculture, ironically too, arable land has declined steadily since 1960 and will decrease by half over the next 50 years, according to the International Service for Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA).


One area of heated debate is in the aspect of ecology. Because the products of Genetic Engineering are new and untested, their effects as they pass through the food chain must be thoroughly investigated. Admittedly very little study has been done on this aspect.


Part 2: GMO for the Masses

Dr Abe V Rotor

Two staple crops – rice and corn – are among the first genetically engineered crops. The first one is Bt corn, corn that carries the Bacillus thuringiensis gene that is responsible in controlling corn borer and its relatives that belong to Order Lepidoptera. The second is golden rice that carries the beta-carotene of daffodils. Beta-carotene serves as a building block for Vitamin A, thus potentially carving the effects of Vitamin A deficiency on millions of people, including some 350,000 who go blind every year.

The genetic engineer, Dr. Ingo Potrykus, a Swiss, recently brought to IRRI his golden rice, which IRRI will use in developing tropical golden rice varieties. Whatever happened to IRRI’s original super rice the world had been expecting?

“For whom are GM rice and Bt corn addressed to if not the hungry world?” the genetic engineers stress, presenting these serious problems agriculture is facing today, namely:

1. Low food value of crops
2. Low productivity
3. Crop damage due to pests and diseases, drought, and poor soil
4. Unavailability and non-affordability of food due to high cost
5. Problem of distribution
6. Poor collaboration among public and private sectors

Many scientists believe that biotech could raise overall crop productivity in developing countries as much as 25% and help prevent the loss of those crops after they are harvested.

Engineering a crop, or an animal for that matter, does not end in implanting the desired gene and leaving nature to take her course. In biology as it is in other fields of natural sciences, once a structure is changed or modified, expect that the Domino Theory will set a chain reaction. For example, marcotted, grafted and budded trees live only the remaining life of their parent. Thus seed-grown mango far outlives its grafted counterpart. (100 years versus 25 years) This is a simple picture of cloning to explain why Dolly aged at a rate as fast as her mother.

An estimated 60 percent of all processed foods contain at least one genetically engineered component” – Mother Jones Magazine

Some Successful Genetically Modified Crops

1. Corn, soybean, and potato that require fewer applications of herbicides and pesticides.

2. Tomatoes that soften more slowly and remain on the vine longer, resulting in more flavor and color.

3. Soybeans that are lower in saturated fats and offer better frying stability without further processing.

4. Papayas that are virus resistant.

5. Peppers modified to be tastier and remain firmer after harvest.

6. Rice with high vitamin A.


Part 3: GMOs That Went Wrong

Monster in the sky - GMO looms.

Abe V Rotor

1. Genetically engineered dairy cows – With rBGH in their genes, the production of milk tremendously increased. They are virtually walking milk factories. But these cows require high antibiotics sustenance to prevent udder infection, with risk 30 times higher than man. Result: When we drink the milk residual antibiotics get into our system and trigger the bacteria in the digestive system to mutate and become resistant.

2. Genetically engineered tomatoes - With a resistant gene that allows ripening without rotting, this same gene confers resistance to the antibiotics kanamycin. The resistance may be picked up by bacteria in our stomach and intestines that mutate into resistant strains.

3. Genetically engineered peanut – Like the other GMO, it carries transferred genes from another plant, animal or microbe. In this particular case, the transferred genes contain instructions for making proteins. But some of these proteins cause allergic reactions that affect humans and other consumers, such as animals that feed on peanut meal and hay.

4. Bt Corn and Bt Cotton – Widespread planting of these crops will spur Bt resistance among crop pests. There are also reports on the decline in the population of insect pollinators such as the adorable Monarch butterfly.

The Case of the Suicide Seeds

Monsanto, a leading biotech company in the US had always a way for its farmer-cooperators not to plant the seeds they bought from the company for a premium. Violation would mean breach of contract. But farmers are farmers, especially marginal farmers.

So to enforce the policy, the company came up with a solution. Through biotechnology, the company inserted a terminator gene to protect its intellectual-property rights. This seed sterilizing technology however has taken a far damaging consequence. The pollen of the terminator plants could drift far and wide on the wind like a toxic cloud, and pollinate ordinary crops or wild plants, and spread from species to species. In the process scientists fear that flora all around the world become unexpectedly and irreversibly sterilized.
This brings us to a fundamental question, “Who owns biotechnology? Who controls the seeds of life?”

Genetically modified soybean and corn, which have been approved in many countries including the US, Canada, Australia, and the European Union, are very likely incorporated into various food preparations.”

Dr. Lee Sing Kong, Chairman GMAC Sub-Committee on Public Awareness

The Birth of Anti- GM Movement

Because of the Monsanto case, activist groups like Rural Advancement Foundation International are using the Net to rally Terminator opponents, urging them to flood the USDA with letters of protests. Immediately 4000 people from 62 countries have responded.

Actually it was not Monsanto that created the Terminator. USDA and a seed company known as Delta and Land developed the technology. Mosanto brought the patent from Delta with $1 billion - plus offer to buy Delta. (Time, January 2001)

Opponents did not care who created Terminator. To them the idea is Frankenstenian on its face.

GM-Free, a consumers’ advocacy group in UK have listed down the following products that contain GM ingredients:

1. GM soya from UK can be found in bread, biscuits, baby milk, baby foods, breakfast cereals, margarine, soups, pasta, pizza, instant meals, meat products, flours, sweets, ice cream, crisps, chocolate, soy sauce, veggie-burgers, tofu, soya milk, and pet foods.

2. GM corn from US can be present in processed foods such as instant meals, soups, sauces, cake mixes, crisps, snacks, sweets and chewing gums.


Part 4: GMO Medicine and Cloning

Dr Abe V Rotor

GMO and Medicine

With the Human Genome - the genetic map of the 46 chromosomes and their gene components - about to be completed, it is not far that a new field of medicine – gene therapy – will be unveiled.

Here a “defective” gene that is the cause of a disease, say diabetes or cancer, can be repaired, even before these diseases are expressed by the patient. It is also true that addiction such as alcoholism can also be cured in this manner. In the future diagnosis will be done by reading the genome map of the person. Insurance companies, employers, banks, schools, etc. will rely greatly on the genome map.

But before gene therapy will be available in hospitals, there will be drug-carrying GMOs. Eating broccoli for example, will deliver drugs that stave off infectious diseases or treat various chronic ailments, not because broccoli is rich in vitamins and minerals, but because it carries a gene that is specific in curing a particular disease.

GM potatoes and tomatoes with therapeutic DNA material may someday be used for immunization. Instead of getting the shot one will simply eat these GM food. For Third World countries, plant-based vaccines appear practical. The villagers simply grow these plants and eat them a few to several times and year, thus activating the antibodies which protect body against particular diseases in the process.

The process may be useful for conditions such as Type I diabetes. For diabetics, eating insulin-bearing tubers could eventually train the body’s defenses to stop reacting to insulin as if it were a foreign material.

GMO and Cloning

Cloning is at the extreme end of biotechnology – the creation of a whole organism that carries the exact replica of its parent, the organism from which the clone was derived. Candidate for cloning are lined up in the list of endangered species. The first successful clone under Noah project (named after Noah in the Old Testament is the gaur, a relative of the cow found in India, Bangladesh and Southeast Asia. The first cloned endangered animal is about to be born. Among the important candidates are the giant Panda, White Rhinoceros and the Bactrian Deer.

It is not far that the next candidate is man himself. Scientists believe that if this happens it will be the greatest mistake of science, because the human species is pushed nearly to extinction, which is worse than his banishment from Eden. ~

Living with Nature in Our Times, UST-AVR

Allergy-Proof Your Home.

Dr Abe V Rotor

These are fairly quick, simple, and inexpensive methods of making your home friendlier to your asthma and allergies.
1. Build house on spacious lot and surroundings
2. Free house of carpet and wall paper
3. Knock on wood
4. Prefer shiny floors, materials of low-gas ingredients
5. Provide good natural ventilation
6. Let sunshine in, façade towards the east
7. Integrate house plan with garden
8. Screen out plants that are allergen potential
9. Design your home in unity and harmony with natural environment, not vice versa.
10.Keep your home always clean and tidy. ~

Newly Hatched Soft-Bodied Turtles.

Abe V Rotor

Parks and Wildlife Nature Center, Diliman, QC

Welcome to the world soft bodied hatchlings,
Shelless and boundless and free;
You will be wandering to where you shall be,
By fate and not by your yearnings.

And learn the ways of the kind or dowager,
In both their roles you shall play
Neither as friend nor foe by night and day
Wearing a cloak and a dagger. ~

The soft-bodied turtle, contrary to impression, is a ferocious predator on land and in water. It is armed with razor-sharp and pliers-tight beak. It feeds of fish, worms and insects, dead or alive. It is omnivorous in the absence of its preferred preys. These hatchings came from eggs in a nest of dried leaves Leo Carlo, my youngest son found along the banks of the lake of the Parks and Wildlife Nature Center in QC. For sometime he took good care of them until they were weaned. Out of the six, only a pair made it to the La Mesa Watershed not far from where we live. One thing we learned from the soft-bodied turtle is that they are wild. They refuse to be domesticated - which is an asset of the species for its survival and in defending its natural habitat.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Making of a fossil

Dr Abe V Rotor

Photo taken near the Cuchi Tunnel in the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

A hairy caterpillar is stuck in a fresh latex. It sinks slowly like in a quicksand until it is completely covered with all its body parts undisturbed. The latex dries up and solidifies. Left to nature the specimen is preserved for thousands if not millions of years in the form of rock.

This is how delicate insects and other organisms are trapped in amber which came from resinous sap of gymnosperms. In the Jurassic Park movie the DNA of a dinosaur was extracted from a mosquito trapped in amber. Of course, this is fiction, but who knows if this will be possible in the future? ~

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What part of a fruit is the best?

Typical fruit stand

Abe V Rotor

The best part of papaya is the lower half; it is more fleshy, sweeter and deeper in color. In the case of pineapple it is the opposite – the upper half is superior. Here is a cursory list to guide buyers and consumers.

Lansones – Extra large fruits have big seeds, and are not in any way sweeter than the rest in the bunch. Choose the medium size, quite elongated, and bright yellow in color.

Cucumber – Choose the size for pickling or about. As the fruit matures it loses its firm cartilaginous consistency and the seeds have already matured. Harvest okra, cowpea, patola, batao and string beans when still succulent, other wise they become fibrous.

Squash – Tough to the fingernail, does not exude sap. The fruit is mature and seasoned, and has glutinous (malagkit) consistency.

Ampalaya – Break the tip of the stem and look for the yellowish to orange coloration at the center. Red means the fruit is over mature.

Watermelon – Stripes are distinct and widespread. The cut stem should be green. Tap the fruit with the forefinger. If the sound is deep and dull, the fruit is ripe. Better still, ask the seller to make a triangular cut through the fruit.

Banana – The upper fruits in the bunch are bigger, sweeter and the first to ripen.

Caimito – Fruits becomes shiny when it is about to ripen. This is also true in avocado (Persea Americana) and tiesa (Locuma nervosa).

Chico – Lightly scrape the skin of the fruit with your fingernail. If underneath is green it is not yet ready for harvesting. This is also a guide in buying unripe chico.

Sugar apple or atis (Anona squamosa) – Fruit well expanded, canals are distinct, color turns pale green.

Sugarcane for chewing – Get the internodes closest to the base; they are sweeter than those near the top. ~

Brown eggs are preferred over white eggs

Typical commercial eggs

Abe V Rotor

Brown eggs come from native fowls that subsist mainly on farm products. They are very resistant to the elements and diseases that they simply grow on the range. White eggs on the other hand, come from commercial poultry farms and are highly dependent on antibiotics and formulated feeds. Another advantage of brown eggs is that they have thicker shells. Besides, their yolk is brighter yellow as compared to that of white eggs.

Since the introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMO), among them genetically engineered chicken, many people are now avoiding the consumption of white eggs, more so the GE fowls themselves. Preference to natural and organically grown food is gaining popularity worldwide. It is because many ailments, from allergy to cancer, are traced to the kinds of food we eat. Many kinds of allergies have evolved from genetically engineered food, for which they have gained the reputation of Frankenfood, after the novel, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, published in 1818.

By the way how we know if an egg is fresh? Immerse egg in water. If it lies on its side (horizontal) it is fresh. An old egg has larger air space at its rear end so that its tendency is to tilt vertically. An egg that floats is spoiled. Another method is candling, that is to “look through the egg” against bright light – or a lighted candle in the dark, for which the term was derived. A trained eye can tell the stage of incubation of an egg – or if the egg is infertile (bugok).

Living with Folk Wisdom, UST-AVR

Malunggay is the most popular tree vegetable in the tropic.

Malunggay propagated from cutting

Abe V Rotor

In the province no home is without this small tree at the backyard or in a vacant lot. The leaves, flowers, juvenile pods and young fruits of Moringa oleifera (Family Moringaceae) go well with fish, meat, shrimp, mushroom, and the like. It is one plant that does not need agronomic attention, not even weeding and fertilization, much less chemical spraying. You simply plant an arms length cutting or two, in some corner or along the fence and there it grows into a tree that can give you a ready supply of vegetables yearound. What nutrients do we get from malunggay?

Here is a comparison of the food value of the fresh leaves and young fruits, respectively, in percent. (Marañon and Hermano, Useful Plants of the Philippines)

• Proteins 7.30 7.29
• Carbohydrates 11.04 2.61
• Fats 1.10 0.16
• Crude Fiber 1.75 0.76
• Phosphorus (P2 O 5) 0.24 0.19
• Calcium (CaO) 0.72 0.01
• Iron (Fe2O3) 0.108 0.0005

Owing to these properties and other uses, rural folks regard malunggay a “miracle tree.” Take for example the following uses.
• The root has a taste somewhat like that of horse-radish, and in India it is eaten as a substitute to it.
• Ben oil extracted from the seed is used for salad and culinary purposes, and also as illuminant.
• Mature seeds have antibacterial and flocculants properties that render drinking water safe and clear.

From these data, it is no wonder malunggay is highly recommended by doctors and nutritionists for both children and adults, particularly to nursing mothers and the convalescents.~

Living with Folk Wisdom, AVR

Refined salt - how it is made the old way.

Abe V Rotor

Nagtupakan and San Sebastian are two villages (barangay) of San Vicente (Ilocos Sur) famous in making refined salt – salt as fine and white as refined sugar, you can mistake the two. This is how the native folks do it with a very old technology.

First the salt field is “irrigated” during the day by high tide coming directly from the sea, but instead of being drained in the succeeding low tide, the floodgate is closed trapping the seawater which leaves a crust of salt on the salt field. This is repeated to enrich the harvest.

The salt crust is “cultivated” by hand or with bullock using a light harrow to scrape the topsoil which contains the salt crust called ati’. The gathered ati’ is piled on the field or stored in a nearby shack for future use, thus allowing salt making even during the rainy season.

This is the process proper of extracting the salt from the crust. The crust is placed in a trough made of long wooden planks which looks like an over sized coffin. The bottom is lined with a layer of rice hay and a layer of sand on top of it. This serves as filter. Seawater is poured into the trough containing the crust to dissolve the salt. The solution is filtered leaving behind the silt and clay. The filtrate which is a high concentrated salt solution is collected at one end of the trough. This is called inna, from which was derived the terms ag-inna, referring to the process.

The inna or filtrate is “cooked” in the open in large iron kettle under low fire. More filtrate is added as it evaporates to increase the yield. The salt is turned regularly to prevent the formation of crust at the bottom and to hasten cooking. Just like in the final stage in cooking rice, the in salt yield is allowed to dry completely.

The salt product is placed in a large bamboo basket for tempering, allowing the salt to become mellow (like wine). During this stage the salt attains its true fine texture, whiteness, and dryness.

Salt making with this indigenous technology is now a dying industry. Ironically it is in the endangered stage of a craft that earns its place in the list of tourists’ attractions. There are reasons why the industry is dying and these are as follows.

• High cost of production
• Dwindling supply of firewood
• The younger generation would rather go other jobs, or pursue careers
• Product competition – commercial salt, local and imported, has flooded the market.
• Advanced technology such as solar desalination of seawater has replaced traditional processes.
• Water pollution has rendered many salt fields unsuitable for this industry.
• Comparative profitability of other industries like prawn farming, seaweed farming and fish cage culture have replaced the industry.

If you happen to go up north, visit the indigenous salt making villages, seven km west of Vigan, and test for yourself which is salt and which is sugar just by looking at these two similar products in all their fineness and whiteness. ~

Living with Folk Wisdom, AVR

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Golden Kuhol - No. 1 pest of growing rice

Golden Kuhol (Pomacea caniculata), a maverick exotic food snail. Golden Kuhol, unlike the native kuhol, is dioecious. The female is distinguished by having a convex operculum (right), while the male has its operculum (takip) curved inward. The egg mass is prominently pink and attached to any object above the water level. The snail feeds on rice seedlings and growing rice crop. It is found in some two million hectares of ricefields, two-thirds of the country's total rice area.

Fiery Dragon Fruit

Abe V Rotor

Dragon Fruits from Vietnam

Achuete – most popular natural food color and dye

Achute, Achoite, Anatto (Bixa orellana L) Family Bixaceae.
It is the most commonly used natural food additive and dye.
(Philippine Medicinal Plants)

Achuete – Most popular natural food color

Today's trend in moving away from synthetic to natural food and medicine, as well as articles in everyday life, has focused this small tree to the forefront. The increasing search of products from natural sources that are safe to health and kind to the environment is likely to reveal many sources, among them, Bixa orellana, a native of tropical America. Achuete or achoite is word from the early Mexicans, the Aztecs.

The leaves of achuete are entire and ovate with broad and heart-shaped base, and pointed tip. The flowers are white or pinkish to red borne on terminal panicles. Fruit pods or capsules are ovoid or rounded, reddish brown, and covered with long, slender and soft spines. Each capsule contains viable number of seeds which are covered with a dye-yielding red pulp.

Here are common uses of achuete as color or dye
• Cooking (frog, upo, chicken, adobo)
• Coloring of cheese and margarine, ice cream, pastries
• Cosmetics (lipstick, soap, nail polish, shade)
• Cloth dye
• Body paint
• Wood and handicraft stain
• Floor wax, shoe polish, leather color

Chemical constituents and medicinal value:
• The coloring matter in the seeds is bixin.
• Seed contains a fatty oil with palmitin, a little stearin, and phytosterol.
• Fine powder covering the seed is hemostatic and stomachic.
• Root-bark is antiperiodic and antipyretic.
• Diuretic and purgative.
• Aphrodisiac and detoxifier.
• Seeds are slightly astringent.
• Carotenoid pigments contain bixin, norbixin, ß-carotene, cryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin and methyl bixin. (Philippine Medicinal Plants)

Folkloric Uses
• Treatment of minor burns: Boil leaves and cool. Soak the burn area daily for 10 minutes.
• Seed pulp is applied to burns, prevents blistering and scarring. Likewise, ground seeds are boiled and applied on burns.
• Seeds are used as antidote for cassava (Manihot esculenta) and tubang bakod (Jatropha curcas) poisoning.
• Fresh seeds when moistened produce a reddish colored juice that is applied to red rashes.
• Bruised leaves with warm coconut oil is applied on the forehead for headaches.
• Achuete dye with lime is for treatment of erysipelas; also on wounds, and thinning hair.
• In traditional Peruvian medicine, decoction is used to treat heartburn and stomach distress caused by spicy foods; also, as a vaginal antiseptic.
• An infusion of the leaves is used as purgative, regulates heavy menses.
• Poultice of leaves are diuretic. In Guatemala it is used for treatment of gonorrhea.
• Leaves are pounded and applied on snake bites
• Decoction of leaves is remedy for nausea and vomiting.
• In West Indian folk medicine, used for diabetes mellitus.
• Folkloric use as female aphrodisiac in the Amazon.

Studies on Bixa orellana (Philippine Medicinal Plants)

• Antimicrobial / Antifungal: (1) The study screened plants extracts - including Bixa orellana – for antimicrobial activity and MIC. B orellana showed low MIC against against E coli and a better MIC against B cereus. Results showed that Bo, Justicia secunda and Piper pulchrum could be potential sources of new antimicrobial agents. (2) Study of organic extract of BO showed to possess a narrow spectrum of antimicrobial activity, effective only against Gram+ bacteria used in the study.

• Antibacterial / Antioxidant / Antidiarrheal / Neuropharmacolic / Anticonvulsant/ Gastrointestinal Motility Effect: Preliminary pharmacologic studies on the methanol extracts of Bo leaves showed statistical decrease in locomotor activity, anticonvulsant effect, analgesic and antidiarrheal effect and a delay i gastrointestinal motility. It also showed radical scavenging properties and antibacterial activity against agents of diarrhea and dysentery.

• Hypoglycemic / Antidiabetic: (1) Study of Bo oil seed suspension of the red seed coat showed it to be a potent hypoglycemic agent. Extract study showed hypoglycemia in both normal and streptozotocin diabetic dogs. (2) Annatto extract was found to decrease blood glucose in fasting normoglycemic and streptozocin-induced diabetic dogs. The activity was attributed to the stimulation of peripheral utilization of glucose.

• Milk-based pigment: Study showed B.orellana seeds can be used as a pigment in making milk-based paint.

• Anti-Gonorrheal: In a study of 46 plants popularly used in Guatemala for the treatment of gonorrhea, B0 bark was one of the most active plants that inhibited strains of freshly isolated N gonorrhea.

• Antibacterial / Anti-Staphylococcal Activity: Study showed crude ethanolic extracts from leaves of Bo and bark of Alstonia macrophylla showed potential antibacterial effect against S aureus.

• Aldose Reductase Inhibition: Study of hot water extracts of B orellana, C morifolim and I batatas showed potent inhibitory activity towards lens aldose reductase. Phytochemicals yielded isoscutellarein from BO as its potent inhibitor.

NOTE: Achuete offers these, and other related researches, for thesis (undergraduate and masteral) and dissertation (doctoral). A study on its antibiotic properties is among the priorities. Achuete is widely used to color cheese and other products, imparting a desirable taste and aroma, and enhancing shelf life of the products. The search for natural cosmetics places B orellana among the top sources. In agriculture, achuete is a good understory crop of coconut and orchard. It is quite resistant to drought and is mildly deciduous. Its many uses place achuete among the most promising crops.

References and Acknowledgment: Philippine Medicinal Plants, Wikipedia; Medicinal Plants of the Philippines by Eduardo Quisumbing; Useful Plants of the Philippines by William H Brown; Plants of the Philippines, UP Diliman; Fauna and Flora of the Philippines Series.

Simplest remedy for diarrhea.

Entamoeba histolitica

Dr Abe V Rotor

Every year diarrhea claims the lives of 3 million people, with nearly 2 million of them children under five years old.

Yet a simple and inexpensive treatment can prevent many of those deaths.

Here is a simple formula for oral rehydration: fistful of sugar + a pinch of salt + a jug of water.

This old home remedy is now recognized by the World Health Organization which claims that it has saved some 40 million lives, and hopes to demote diarrhea as the second leading cause of death among children.~

For more information, consult your nearest healthcare center.~

NOTE: Diarrhea (frequent, watery bowel movements) can be caused by viruses, bacteria and parasites. Foods that are hard to digest (such as too many sweets) and undercooked (still partially raw) meat or fish can also cause vomiting and diarrhea. Vomiting and diarrhea can be harmful because they can cause dehydration, which is loss of too much fluid. Young children are most vulnerable to dehydration.

Here are signs of dehydration:

• Babies show thirst by crying, being irritable and eager to drink when something is offered
• Urine is little, darker than usual. Or it could be the opposite, frequent urination
• Sleepiness. Or it can be irritability, not eating as well, dry mouth, no tears when crying
• If prolonged, diarrhea leads to weight loss.

Old folks have a way of knowing babies who are younger than eighteen months old if they are suffering of dehydration. They have sunken soft spots on the top of their heads (bumbunan or kuppu-kuppo Ilk), and their skin has lost its shine and springy elastic character. ~

Living with Nature 3, AVR

Part 3: Indigenous Games and Sports (pabitin, palo de sebo)

Abe V Rotor

11. Palo de sebo (bamboo pole climbing). It is tricky – how can you climb a bamboo pole twenty feet tall covered with animal fat or vegetable oil? In childhood, because there was no rule to prevent a participant to devise his own technique, we would coach our contestant to pocket wood ash and applies it as he inched upward until he reaches the top and gets his prize.

12. Pabitin It is a portable trellis around two square meters tied at the corners to a common string, and is laden with many goodies. The setup is usually attached to the ceiling or a tree branch with a pulley of sort, enabling the game master to pull it up and down. The game is actually for children of the same age and ideally of the same height. The rule of the game is that the one who reaches and grabs the item is his. And he is supposed to leave and give chance to the other participants. It not unusual for a parent to carry a young contestant to reach for the pabitin - followed by elder children. And if the moderator is not strict, expect something unruly to happen. The game ends up into a free-for-all, and what remains of the pabitin is but a skeleton of bamboo sticks and crepe paper.

For fiestas and local parties the pabitin is popular even to this day. It is characteristically Filipino. And why not? Imagine how attractive it is up there hanging even before the start of the party. Every one would be eying what items to get. It’s apple to the eye – and remains so until the game leader declares the start of the game. The string moves and the pabitin slowly goes down, down and lands on a pack of participants shrieking, jumping, their arms instantly doubling in length.

13. Tug-of-war. It may be a parlor game, but wait until the big boys get hold of the rope. Better an outdoor game then, and be sure the rope is strong. It is a game of strength, but one in unison, so that it needs cooperation and skill. Here are some hints to win the game.

Choose the members of the team for strength and stamina. Distribute the members of the team evenly; the right handed and left handed in their proper positions on either side of the rope they feel most efficient. Keep distance to maximize individual strength with the strongest ones up front and at the rear as anchor. Distribute resistance with both feet solidly anchored on the ground. Do not allow the rope to sway; keep it steady. Anticipate surge and counteract spontaneously. Be sure you hands are protected, say with gloves or hand towel. Be wary of sudden release by your opponents, you’ll end up into a pile.

14. Jack-n-poi – It is an old game, possibly originated from China, which is used to resolve conflicts like head or tail. It is quite an intellectual and witty way. Here two or more persons play the game. Stone (clenched fist) defeats scissor (forefinger and middle finger open) but it loses to paper (palm open). Paper on the other hand submits to scissor. By law of elimination, the one who survives wins – or faces the consequence he may not like. We, kids on the farm, resolved work like taking the goat to graze, or cleaning the pig sty – and such chores we would prefer someone doing it for us.

15. Puto seko eating - Have you tried eating the powdery stuff without water, then whistle to signal you have won? It is a unique game and if you are not careful enough you will surely choke, so that it is discouraged among the very young and the sickly. Puto seko is made of rice flour, molded and dried. The contestants line the stage and on signal start eat a prescribed number of pieces. The first to finish all and produce a clear whistle wins.

Other games and sports

16. Hand cannon (palsuot)
17. Slingshot (Tirador) -
18. Foot race (different categories)
19. Bao (coconut shell) race
20. Blowgun
21. Stilt race
22. Sipa
23. Patintero
24. Hide-and-seek
25. Agawang buko (local rugby with green coconut)

There are many other native games and sports. I invite you to add to this list the native games you know, more so with those you play, or had played in your childhood. ~

Deciduous Tree

Kalumpang Tree on a Hill, QC

Abe V Rotor

You lose your crown that you may gain
Freedom to reach the sky;
For the sun to bathe your whole being,
And creatures at where they lie.

The sky and ground thus become one,
Like dream and hope in the sunbeam;
As the sun rises, prime mover of all,
To flow through the living stream.

You litter the floor to keep the rain,
Feed the microbes, the brute you tame
Break carbon to its original form,
And send genie to the next game.

You're obedient as seasons come and go,
And humble are your ways untold;
Loyal to your old gene, indeed you're true
To your kin till you grow old.

And all the children under your care
Will remember you in their old days,
In your shade that keeps the cool air,
And lessons from your gentle ways.

x x x

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sail on!

Abe V Rotor

Sailing, AVR c 2002

The sail must catch the wind;
Like a bird gliding free;
For nothing is more fearful
Than doldrums in the sea.

Sail on, sail on, don't delay,
Leave while there's still time,
The doldrums will lull you,
To pass away your prime.~

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Philippine Diorama at Smithsonian

Banaue Rice Terraces diorama at the Smithsonian, Washington DC
Photo taken in July 1976

Extra Terrestrial Giant

Abe V Rotor
Take a break with this extraterrestrial giant.
Bangkok, Thailand.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

How's my grooming? A self examination

Grooming enhances dignity in the profession. Alumni meet after many years since high school. They are leaders in the fields of education, science, judiciary, law, legislation and military.

Abe V Rotor
Lesson in Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid
People's School-on-Air
DZRB 738 KHz AM Band
8 to 9 in the evening, Monday to Friday

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

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

1. We are judged the way we talked as much as they way we look.
2. It’s all right to cause embarrassment on another as long as it is not your real intention.
3. Pronounce words properly, use correct grammar, follow correct logic and syntax, and refrain from mumbling.
4. It’s all right to be talking about yourself after you have done a great job.
5. It’s all right to ask personal questions from a friend even without first asking permission.
6. There are times you have to ask “intrusive” questions as host of a program to add spice or give more light.
7. It is old fashion to say Please and Thank you. Smile is enough these days
8. One can be clean and yet untidy, and vice versa.
9. In fashion and cosmetics, “Excess can be a mess.”
10. Good teeth and fresh breath always go together.
11. Keep your mouth closed when chewing. Take small bites. Eat quickly.
12. Say excuse me when you have to go the restroom without telling you are going there, or to answer the call of nature.
13. Sit and walk straight. Maintain good posture always even at home.
14. Dressing appropriately means you have to be in fashion.
15. Try to make as little noise as possible in all situations – when eating, walking, talking, working, etc. – even in your home.
16. Mobile phone etiquette is chiefly not disturbing others with it.
17. Laugh, smile, giggle, cry with dignity. Do not make a scene.
18. Be interested with people and things around you but be discreet.
19. Grooming is applicable only in formal occasions and places, not in your leisure and privacy.
20. Grooming distinctly separates men and women. It’s gender distinction. It gives dignity to being a gentleman or a lady.
21. One may be fashionable but not well groomed.
22. When one is in his advanced senior years, grooming does not apply to him anymore.
23. People with gender problem find it difficult to adjust with proper grooming. Often grooming result to mere attraction.
24. Never touch another person’s belongings without asking permission.
25. Never assume anything about anyone. Caution, caution.

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

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

Living with Nature 3, AVR

Monday, August 16, 2010

Part 2: Disturbing Views on the Road

After a hard day's work. Going home on a perilous ride.

Tricycle you say? It's a jeep's load.

Either the bus is too wide or the lane is too narrow. Consequence: the bus takes two lanes.
Overloaded cargo truck for its size and make.

Decency on the road, please. Overloading with cargo that is dangerously stacked.