Monday, January 31, 2011

Wishing Well

Dr Abe V Rotor

Tagaytay, Cavite

Throw one coin too many makes a wish come true;
Lady Luck comes this way, the fortune tellers' view;
who wins loses, winning in the back of his mind
the deepest of desire where good and evil bind.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Ayungin - tastiest and most expensive local fish

Abe V Rotor

I learned to appreciate this freshwater fish, ayungin, from a friend in Pangasinan. Makwento at makata pa siya.

"Maliliit, sobra ang tinik,
pero pinakamalinamnam,
isdang matagal kainin
ngunit mahirap tigilan
habang kinakain."

Since then my wife would not miss this rare fish in the market during its season. For its size it is the most expensive among local species, P350 to 400 per kilo. Many do not like it because it is bony (matinik) and its bones are real sharp. Thus it needs skill to eat it, and you have to concentrate and not talk. It is likely that the female is loaded with eggs and together with the male leaves a lot of fat at the bottom of the pan.

The best reecipe is paksiw on banana leaves, with a lot of bawang (garlic), luya (ginger), sibuyas (shallot onion), whole paminta (black pepper), and a dash of salt. Serve it on the pan at lunch with the whole family, and you will see the fish, favorite of Ilocanos - and others too - disappear before your very eyes. ~

Home, Sweet Home with Nature, AVR 2011

Part 1: Practical Chemistry for Natural Vinegar

Abe V Rotor

Vinegar (vin egar) means sour wine. In chemistry it really is. The general formula is, first, wine is produced, then vinegar, and lastly, nata de coco.

Sucrose/Glucose  Ethyl Alcohol  Acetic Acid Nata de Coco

Now let us substitute the three items.

Sugar/Fruit  Wine  Vinegar  Nata de Coco

We can see that vinegar is not a direct, but a secondary product of fermentation. Sugar is fermented into wine first, then the wine undergoes oxidation. In organic chemistry this is illustrated as follows:

Step 1- Fermentation

C6 H12 06  4C2 H5 OH + 2CO2
Cane/Fruit Sugar Zymase (Yeast) Ethanol or Wine Carbon Dioxide gas

Step 2 – Oxidation

C2 H5OH + O2  CH3COOH + H20
Ethanol or Wine Oxygen Acetobacter aceti Acetic Acid or Vinegar Water

This basic knowledge in chemistry is the key to the success in wine making as well as in vinegar manufacture. The first step (fermentation) will indicate that our culture is proceeding properly if wine odor is detected. At this point, we know that the sugar is being converted into ethanol or wine. We should not be bothered if we do not detect vinegar odor immediately.

In the second step, we detect both wine and vinegar odor several days from the start of fermentation. Why is this so? Because we allow the two processes – fermentation and oxidation – to take place simultaneously. As soon as sugar is converted into ethyl alcohol by yeast action (Saccharomyces), this product is immediately converted into acetic acid through oxidation and by the action of the vinegar bacteria complex (Acetobacter aceti).

Sukang Iloko

Sugarcane juice is placed in the jar and is allowed to ferment for a week. The local practice is that no commercial yeast is used because wild yeast is ubiquitous, which means that yeast cells are found everywhere – in the air, in the cane, flowers, ripe fruits, yellowing leaves, or carried by fruit flies (Drosophila).

Fruit flies are very small, hovering on overripe fruits. They carry yeast cells and other fermenting fungi and bacteria. The yeast cells initiate fermentation as they rapidly multiply in the first week. There are thousands in one milliliter of the fermenting material. It is also during this time that the production of ethyl alcohol reaches its peak of up to 13 percent by volume. This yeast population later drops, decimated by own product, ethanol,which is toxic to them. This can be explained by the principle of autotoxicity. Meanwhile, Acetobacter and other fermenters increase their own activities by taking the process of oxidation and acetification.

If oxidation of the alcohol is controlled during this time, the end product is wine. Since there is no antiseptic procedure followed in preventing oxidation, and entry and subsequent multiplication of Acetobacter complex causes the intermediate product to become a mixture of wine and vinegar. As oxidation and acetification (acetic acid or vinegar formation) continues. In another week or so, practically all the alcohol produced will become acetic acid.

After this, the young vinegar begins to age with time, the quality of natural vinegar improves. During aging process, the residual sugar undergoes a secondary fermentation by other fermenters, causing it to become acetic acid. Ageing, aside from making the vinegar mellow, increases its acidity. This is the opposite of “artificial” (glacial acetic acid) vinegar that is sold in markets cheaply.

Natural vinegar, other than sukang iloko, comes from nipa, coconut, cashew, pineapple, mango, banana, and chico. Basically, the process is the same.

Quality Determinants

The difference in taste and other qualities may be traced to the following factors:

1. Raw material (the source of sugar) used.
2. Amount of sugar in the material or substrate. Ten to 15 percent is preferred.
3. Availability and rate of yeast cell reproduction and other fermenters.
Commercial yeast is added for faster fermentation, while inoculation of vinegar mother liquor helps acetification.
4. Temperature and initial acidity or pH. (Raised temperature and acidity
enhance faster reaction).
5. Presence or absence of contaminants. Arrest bacterial decay which give a trace of rotting odor. Too much fleshy fruit and low sugar level in the substrate are often the cause of this problem.
6. Ageing time. This is from three to six months for commercial vinegar, one year for the premium.
7. “Green thumb” and sixth sense. (Skill and good management)


Part 2: Vinegar from local fruits

Vinegar for Home Use from Fruits

You can put up a vinegar generator in your kitchen and you will have a continuous supply of natural vinegar. Protect yourself and your family from glacial acetic vinegar. Convert those surplus fruits that would otherwise go to waste. You can also produce vinegar for your friends and community.

I am simplifying the procedure as a practical guide in vinegar making for the rural as well as the urban areas.

1. Clean two wide-mouthed, gallon size glass containers. (Ordinary glass gallons will do. Do not use plastic containers.)

2. Peel and clean around two kilos of overripe fruit of any kind (pineapple, chico, banana, etc. You may combine two fruits, like chico and guava, or pineapple and mango. (Do not use kamias. Kamias contains oxalic acid which weakens the bones.)

3. Mash the fruit with two kilos of sugar. Be sure the sugar is well imbedded into the tissues of the fruit pulp. Divide the substrate equally for the two glass jars

4. Add tap water to four-fifth of the container. Shake or stir.

5. Add one tablespoonful of commercial yeast (baker’s yeast) onto each jar, then stir.

6. Cover the setup with sinamay or kulambo textile. The reason for this is to allow air to enter, while letting the fermenting gas C02 to escape. Do not plug or seal. Pressure builds up and is likely to break the container.

7. Do not be bothered when you see Drosoplila flies hovering around because they are attracted to the fermenting odor. They carry with them beneficial fermenters. Just allow them to settle near and around the setup. Their presence hastens acetification. What must be avoided are houseflies and other vermin. To do this, design a nylon screen frame, which is good to cover four gallons. Be sure only the Drosophila flies can pass through.

8. During the first two to five hours, froth will rise. Stir to calm the substrate. Stir once daily for the first week. Allow the setup to stand for three to four weeks until the solids have settled at the bottom. Keep it in a shaded corner of the house or kitchen.

9. Decant the filtrate and transfer to another gallon or large bottles. Plug with cotton to allow air circulation. This is the ageing phase. The longer you keep it this way, the better the quality becomes. This takes around two to three months. There will be sediments that form at the bottom. Nata (nata de coco) may also grow at the surface of the liquid. This is proof of natural vinegar.

10. This is the time for you to harvest your vinegar. Use a small siphon to decant and leave the nata and sediments behind. Cap the bottles airtight. Expose them to direct sunlight for at least three hours. The color of your product is now golden to reddish from above, or crystal clear against the light. Label with a trademark of your choice. Write the following information. Fruit used; place and dates of fermentation; ageing and bottling. And of course, your name.

Entrepreneurial Prospect

Vinegar making can be made into a lucrative enterprise due to its authenticity as natural vinegar. Many brands bear the name natural but are actually overnight formulations of diluted glacial acetic acid, no different from the acetic acid used for industrial purposes like in photography and in textiles manufacturing.

People are becoming more and more health conscious making them very judicious in their choices of health-enhancing food and food preparations. This is your best selling point. People are willing to pay a premium of a guaranteed natural product.

On the aspect of manufacturing, experience has it that vinegar making alone does not maximize business opportunity and benefits. The two steps – fermentation and oxidation – can be treated as two separate processes, hence two lines of products can be developed in one enterprise. In fact, a third step is nata de coco production, which immediately follows vinegar production. This is shown by this formula.

CH3COOH  Nata de Coco (coco jelly)/Nata de Pina
Leuconostoc mesenteroides

The experience of making nata de coco developed in the second half of the 1990s when nata was in great demand for export, principally to Japan.The product is used as food and also for industrial raw material. Local demand as sweetened gel remains high in spite of the abrupt decline of the Japanese market.

Here is the business concept for holistic and integrated, hence, viable operations:

1. If you are a small sugarcane farmer, have a control over the making of red (raw) sugar. Native or brown sugar not being refined is natural food. There is a big demand for this kind of sugar where the molasses have not been separated.

2. Ferment table wine (Basi in the Ilocos region) from sugarcane. There is a big demand of this native wine by Ilocano balikbayans. Similarly with fruits, there is now a trend to take table wine either for health purposes, in lieu of liquor. The fruit industry may look into this field of endeavor. It offers definitely a value-added advantage to fruit growers, and there are thousands of families that grow fruit trees at the backyard.

3. Make vinegar out of the inferior cane, specially during a poor crop year.
Typhoon and drought damaged cane can be salvaged into previous natural wine. Fruits in season, and fruits that cannot pass for the market can be made into fruit vinegar. This is advantageous to orchard growers and contractors.

4. Nata de coco can be made out of the local vinegar products with local sugar as raw materials. Nata in many colors and flavors is an innovation of the traditional product. A progressive idea proved that nata can be made into laminate as substitute to leather, sheepskin and material for bags and belt. The biological laboratory of St. Paul College QC has made preliminary products.

Vin egar is wine gone sour. It may not be man’s elixir, but it bridges an intricate process of nature, benefiting man with other products of great importance.

x x x

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Part 2: Animals have keener perception than humans, take heed!

Abe V Rotor

6. When earthworms crawl out of their holes, a flood is coming.
This subterranean annelid has built-in sensors, a biblical Noah’s sense of a coming flood, so to speak. Its small brain is connected to nerve clusters, called ganglia, running down the whole body length. These in turn are connected to numerous hair-like protrusions on the cuticle, which serve as receptor. When rain saturates the soil, ground water rises and before it reaches their burrows, they crawl out to higher grounds where they seek refuge until the flood or the rainy season is over. The more earthworms abandoning their burrows, the more we should take precaution.

7. Dogs howl in the night at unseen spirits.
Dogs have keen senses of seeing, smelling and hearing, many times more sensitive than ours. Many animals such as members of the cat family - lions, tigers, and the domesticated cat – are equally, if not more sensitive, in the dark. They also have infrared vision that enhances their predatory habits. Dogs also have an acute sense of smell. The nose of a German shepherd dog has 25,000 sensory cells as compared with the human nose that has only 5,000 cells. That is why dogs are used in sniffing concealed illegal drugs and in tracking down criminals. The limitation of our senses is the mother of many of our beliefs or superstitions.

8. Animals are uneasy before an earthquake.
It is because they are sensitive to the vibrations preceding an earthquake. They perceive the small numerous crackling of the earth before the final break (tectonic), which is the earthquake. As a means of self-preservation they try to escape from stables and pens, seek shelter, run to higher grounds, or simply escape to areas far from the impending earthquake. Rodents come out of their abode, reptiles move away from the water, horses neigh and kick around. During the December 26, 2004 tsunami, elephants in Sri Lanka defied their masters, in effect saving them from the disaster. We humans can only detect such minute movements through our inventions such as the Richter Scale.

9. Mosquitoes bite more aggressively before rain.
True. As it prepares to lay eggs, the female mosquito must obtain blood from its host, usually human. to enhance fertility. Failure to do so may cause egg sterility. This finding is useful in scientific research to control mosquitoes without the use of harmful chemicals and destroying the environment.

The mosquito has built-in instruments of a weather bureau, so to speak. They are found in its pair of plumose antenna and tactile hairs that serve as barometer to detect atmospheric pressure, thermometer to register temperature, and hygrometer to sense the level of relative humidity. Note: Only the female mosquito feeds on blood, the male depends on plant sap and exudates.

10. Cicada sings for rain.
When you hear the shrilling song of cicada (kuliglig), it means the rains have arrived. And we expect more rains brought in by the southeast monsoon or habagat in the months to come, ending in October. The cicada spends its immature or nymph stage in the ground feeding on roots of plants. There are species that complete their life cycle in one year (annual cicada which is most common), two years, and seventeen years (often called seventeen-year old locust. Whatever is the species, the emergence of cicada is at the onset of the rainy season, usually in April or May in most part of the country.

Rain softens the soil and signals the full-grown nymph to get out of its cell. It then climbs to the nearest tree and at some distance from the ground metamorphoses into an adult. It is the male cicada that “sings”, which is actually a continuous rapid high-pitched sound - tick-tack-tick-tack… produced by a pair of drums attached on its abdomen. Imagine the lid of a tin can pressed and released in rapid succession. On the other hand, the female cicada is totally mute and her response to a love call is to get near a Romeo whose song pleases her.

11. A black butterfly that enters the house tells that a close relative is going to die.
There is no scientific explanation to this, except that butterflies are attracted by flower-like scents which perfumeries have been trying to copy. Check the brand of your perfume and call the company. Beware though of certain perfumes, they attract bees.

12. Sea turtle about to be butchered shed tears.
A sudden change in environment activates the tear glands to secrete fluid, which we attribute as tears. Such a sight draws pathetic feelings that may save the life of the fated creature. Because sea turtles are endangered species, their tears mean much more to the fate of man. Analogously, “the bell tolls, but tolls for thee.” ~

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Part 2: Importance of a Garden Pond

Raising coy for leisure and profit

Abe V Rotor

Are you aware that having a pond to complement your garden is beneficial for you and members of your family? This is so because a pond represents an ecosystem. As such it has the basic features of a functioning ecological unit.

The pond is a field laboratory for microbiology. Plankton organisms are revealed under the microscope. In their diversity, a whole new world unfolds- a world man did not know before Anton van Leewenhoek introduced the science of microscopy sometime in the 17th century.

There are monerans and protists, the world’s oldest- yet simplest- organisms. It is a wonder why these organisms did not evolve and develop into complex organisms like the plants and animals we know- and why they are ensconced in a confined environment such as a pond.
The microcosm of the ocean is the pond; it is like “seeing the world in a grain of sand.” And for the eons of time and generations these organisms have passed through, it is like “holding eternity in the palm of the hand.” Thus the pond is the representation of our biological world, manifesting how little we know of God’s immense wisdom contained in a drop of water that teems with myriads of micro-organisms.
Anyone who takes time to sit by the pond could lose his thoughts in the larger realm of nature and the countryside. Cattail and umbrella plants rise among the floating water lilies, whose pink to purple flowers break the monotony of the pondscape. But the centerpiece of the pond is a community of white-flowered lotus or purple flowered Nymphaea..

From the deep green water, one may be surprised to see a school of colorful carp and tilapia, stirring at the slightest hint of company and food. Their graceful movement creates gentle waves and soft lapping sounds against the shore line. To an observant eye, small fish like Poecilia and rainbow fish form small schools that inhabit the edges of the pond and its tiny islets and coves formed by aquatic plants and stone. These tiny fish are always mindful about staying out of the path of their large counterpart. Other than small insects that fall into the water, they subsist on the latter’s morsels.

At the bottom of the pond lies the harmless, independent janitor fish known for their role of eating crust of algae and scum. That is why they are important in keeping aquariums and ponds clean. In the process, they convert organic matter into detritus, the pond’s natural fertilizer, and are the source of sediments that accumulate and become a foothold of aquatic plants. Seldom to these helpful creatures rise to the surface, but if you want to see these shy, docile fish, peer into the water on a clear day when the sun is directly above, and you will find them lying prostrate at the bottom, like sunken ship on a sea floor.

The pond relieves tension. When you need to relax, observe the turtles basking in the morning sun, stretching their neck and appendages. Or watch those cooling off on a hot day, their nostrils and carapace protruding out of the water. Nearby, a toad might patiently sit on a leaf pad, sheepishly eyeing an unwary insect for its next meal, its long tongue coiled like spring, ready to strike like lasso.

Bees buzz from flowers to flower, while dragonflies - red, green and brown - hover prettily above the water as they search for a suitable place to lay eggs that will hatch into aquatic nymphs that feed on mosquito wrigglers and Daphnia. Strung on leaves and stalks are spider webs glistening with dewdrops. These resemble strings of diamonds that will soon turn into nearly invisible death traps for the hoppers, mosquitoes and flies that stray into them. Frogs are permanent residents in a small pond, singing at the onset of rain and exchange love calls throughout the breeding season. They remain quiet in summer as they aestivate and wait for the rains to come again.

Kataba or canal fish (Poecillia) thrives without any care, as long as there is water, living on plankton and insects that fall into the pond or attracted by a nearby vigil light. Whenever there is stagnant pools around, I put a pair of these mosquito-eating fish and that solve the possibility of malaria or dengue to occur in our the place. Our pond serves as kataba nursery of sort; we give relatives, friends and students who wish to grow kataba in their own aquarium or pond.

The green water in the pond is a good hunting ground for microscopic flora and fauna. With a microscope on hand I have discovered a lot of planktons, many of which are unfamiliar. The green color is made up of millions of one-celled green algae which constitute the pasture of zooplankton organisms. They are the autotrophs, the base of the food pyramid in a pond ecosystem.

Would a backyard fill in the vacuum created by our wanton destruction of natural resources, the rape of our forests, the draining of swamps, the conversion of mangrove to fisheries? Or the gross negligence in keeping our lakes and rivers full and clean – or at least for having nature to take care of them? I doubt. But the little Eden each one of us make in our backyards would collectively recreate little by little that bigger Paradise we lost, when and to what extent we can only surmise and struggle with will and resolve. It is our little contribution in regaining the Lost Paradise. xxx

Terse Verse

Abe V Rotor

Melting Sun, painting in acrylic, AVR 2007

Sundrops, splash of a melting sun;
Dewdrops, quenched thirst of the night;
Raindrops, new life after drought;
Teardrops, the mightiest might.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Moths - enigma in the dark

Abe V Rotor

Moths are mysterious,
alive when I am sleeping,
and sleep when I am awake
and butterflies fluttering.

Why the queer pattern then
in the darkness of the night?
when their kins like Icarus
challenge the sun's shine and might?

Are they remnants of the lost
having missed the Noah's ark?
or what's the color of night,
beyond my poor eyesight?

Moths make the other half of life,
to make the world complete
when the day's work is done,
on the field and street.

Layered moth: it looks like two or more moths in a single mass.

Heart or pyramid moth, camouflaged like a dead leaf.

Stealth moth ready for takeoff, poses as the attacker.

Note: Entomologists argue on the distinction of moths and skippers. The latter are crepuscular - active at dusk, while moths are nocturnal. Skippers are thought to be hybrids of moths and butterflies because they carry certain traits of both. While all three belong to a large order - Lepidoptera, there is no direct
genetic evidences to support his theory. AVR

Practical way of driving away houseflies and midges

Abe V Rotor

Lighted candles drive flies away.
Houseflies (Musca domestica) are the most popular uninvited guests during a party, especially if it is one held outdoor. Before they build into a swarm, light some candles and place them strategically where they are most attracted. Candle smoke drives away houseflies and blue bottle flies (bangaw), keeping them at bay until the party is over. For aesthetic reason, make the setup attractive by using decorative candles and holders, especially one that can withstand a sudden gust of wind. Otherwise, just plant a large candle or two, in the middle of the serving table. If your guests ask what is this all about, blow the candle out momentarily and they will understand.

Hang a fresh branch of a tree or shrub near lighted bulb or lamp to keep midges (gamu-gamu) away from food and guests.
Have you ever been pestered by tiny insects that are attracted by light during an outdoor dinner? These insects make a complex population of leafhoppers, mayflies, and other species of midges. Winged termites and ants often join the swarm. They are most prevalent at the onset of the rainy season in May or June and may last until the rice crop is harvested. In the province this is what you can do to control them and save the dinner party.

Cut a fresh branch or two, complete with leaves that do not easily fall off. The finer the leaves are, the better - sampaloc, madre de cacao, kamias, - or simply any source that is available, including shrubs and vines (kamote, mungo, corn, etc.) Hang the branch securely at the dim part above or close to the fluorescent bulb or Coleman lamp. Be sure not to obstruct the light. Keep away from the food and guests. Observe how the insects settle on the branch and stop flying around.

Insects are attracted by light, especially when there are only a few in the area. An outdoor dinner is ideal for them, attracting those even in distant fields. On arriving at the scene they become disoriented, for which reason they keep flying and flying around the light. With a foothold nearby for them to roost, the insects would gladly cease from their aimless search. Since the Coleman lamp was invented, more so when Thomas Edison came up with a brilliant idea that led to the manufacture of the incandescent light that soon “lighted the world,” nocturnal insects - from midge to moth – have been disturbed of their natural sense of bearing on celestial lights as they travel in darkness. Rizal romantically attributed the death of a moth - lost in its path and singed into the lamp - a heroic act. ~

Smoke therapy (suob) – old folks’ aroma therapy.

Abe V Rotor

Basang, my auntie who took care of me when I was a child, was sick and dying. Doctor Catalino, our rural physician, gave her injection but her condition did not improve, and now she was in a pit of convulsion. As a last ditch Cousin Bistra who knew something about herbal cure gathered leaves of kamias (Averrhoa balimbi) and roasted it on charcoal until a characteristic aroma began to fill the room. Fanning it over the patient face, with prayers chanted, Basang began to calm down, the color of her skin improved, and soon fell into deep sleep.

Ms. Precila Delima who is taking her doctorate in biology in UST related in class a practice among the Ibanag of Cagayan of using suob by mothers who have just given birth. Garlic and shallot onion (sibuyas tagalog) are roasted on charcoal, and packed with cloth. While still warm the patient sits on the pack for several minutes, with her whole body covered with blanket. She perspires profusely, eliminating wastes and toxins from her body. The whole procedure is closely attended to by the “olds” in the family with the direction of the village manghihilot or homegrown midwife (comadrona or partera Ilk.). Old folks believe that this practice is important because it drives out evil spirits or wards them off in order to prepare the way the mother faces the crucial responsibility of motherhood – after child bearing follows the bigger task - child rearing.

Nausog (naan-annungan Ilk.) is when a spirit has chanced upon a person.
This is a case of a person who suddenly becomes indisposed, characterized by cold sweating and general weakness, often accompanied by stomach cramp, because “a spirit might have chanced on him.” This may be attributed to someone who has been dead, or a spirit guarding or roaming the home, field, along a stretch of road, and even the forest and wastelands. In fact you can be chanced upon wherever you are. But it could also be the work of a living person who has the power to mangan-annong.

The patient is given relief by brushing or slightly whipping his or her body with branches of malunggay (horse radish), atis sweetsop), guayabano (soursop), or dayap (sour orange) – or have him or her touched by the mangan-annong, or wiped with any clothing belonging to the dead person. ~

Home made coconut virgin oil – old folks tell us how to make one

Abe V Rotor

The price of this “miracle cure” has soared and there is now a proliferation of commercial brands of virgin coconut oil in the market, with many of them unreliable so that people are asking if they can make their own supply.

Why not? Old folks show us the way. I met a kindly old lady, Mrs. Gloria Reyes of Candelaria (Quezon) who makes virgin coconut oil for her family’s use. She explained to me the process step by step.

• Get twenty (20) husked, healthy, and mature nuts. They should not show any sign of spoilage or germination. Shake each nut and listen to the distinct sound of its water splashing. If you can hear it, discard the particular nut.
• Split each nut with a bolo, gathering the water in the process. Discard any nut at the slightest sign of defect, such as those with cracked shell and oily water, discolored meat, presence of a developing endosperm (para). Rely on a keen sense of smell.
• With the use of an electric-driven grating machine, grate the only the white part of the meat. Do not include the dark outer layer of the meat.
• Squeeze the grated meat using muslin cloth or linen to separate the milk (gata) from the meal (sapal). Gather the milk in wide-mouth bottles (liter or gallon size).
• Cover the jars with dry linen and keep them undisturbed for 3 to 5 hours in a dry, dark and cool corner.
• Carefully remove the floating froth, then harvest the layer of oil and place it in a new glass jar. Discard the water at the bottom. It may be used as feed ingredient for chicken and animals.
• Repeat the operation three to four times, until the oil obtained is crystal clear. Now this is the final product – home made virgin coconut oil.

Virgin coconut oil is a product of cold process of oil extraction, as compared with the traditional method of using heat. In the latter coconut milk is brought to boiling, evaporating the water content in the process, and obtaining a crusty by-product called latik. The products of both processes have many uses, from ointment and lubrication to cooking and food additive. There is one difference though, virgin coconut oil is richer with vitamins and enzymes - which are otherwise minimized or lost in the traditional method.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Quo vadis?

Abe V Rotor

Standing up for victims of crime and injustice

Street children, and juvenile delinquent parents, too. QC

"Quo vadis?" - Where are you going? - is perhaps the most challenging question in life. Just as the disguised Christ asked the escaping Peter outside the walls of Rome nearly two thousand years ago. But it is this very question that made Peter a saint, a martyr for his faith, for Christ.

It is a similar question - "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" that made Saul turn 360 degrees from persecutor to protector of Christians, and to became one of the greatest apostles - even without having seen his master, except in vision - the vision in a flash of light on that eventful dark night.

We ask ourselves the same question many times in our lives when we stand too long on the crossroad, and when the road is getting dimmer or rough. We ask our children, we ask our community, our world.

Then a messiah comes. A Christ, a Buddha, a Gandhi, a Rizal, a Mother Teresa, a Mandela, a Ramon Magsaysay. Or a Florence Nightingale, a Fe del Mundo, a Good Samaritan, a kind boy scout. Or why don't you be that messiah in your own right?

Quo vadis? And you will find the answer. ~

Folk Invention

Abe V Rotor

Concrete nail mounted on plastic hose as handle. Move over jackhammer.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Prayer in Times of Crisis

Abe V Rotor

Father Almighty, teach us to know, reach, share and love one another as one family and one community enlightened with these virtues.
  • The value of Temperance - the act of moderation measured by our love surrendering itself wholly to You;
  • Courage, that we may do the brave thing in the face of difficulties and danger;
  • Justice, that love which we would wish others to treat us the way we treat them;
  • Prudence, which is love that makes wise distinction between what hinders and what helps to do a thing;
  • Compassion, the greatest form of sharing that binds us with peace, unity and understanding; and above all
  • Humility, the greatest love of all.

Open our minds and hearts then, Father Almighty, that we may be filled, through our small deeds, in everyday of our lives, and wherever we may be, with these virtues of temperance, courage, justice, prudence, compassion and humility, all for Your Glory. Amen.

*A prayer as one people and nation in these critical times as we face the current series of heinous crimes gripping the country, the spiraling prices of basic commodities, the wrath of man-induced calamities, and our fading trust and confidence on our leaders and institutions, the present capitalistic system, notwithstanding.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Temple in the Sky

Abe V Rotor
By the Chao Phraya River, Bangkok, Thailand 2010

Like a magic carpet that flies about
that spans the space from north to south -
words that touch the world and the living soul
come from a dying lip or a babe's mouth.

Peace a child sings in a make believe boat
lives forever, haunts lovely those who sought
the fame the lost Atlantis brings in dream,
Ad infinitum preserved should this be taught.

Where a road forks, I stand at a bend -
which shall I take, what waits at the end?
The grass is tall in one, the other bare,
serpent or bright sun is neither friend.

Fireflies and stars and the night are one,
like flowers and bees and morning sun;
little things we say, God hath given us;
be the fireflies when the stars are gone. ~

Part 2: Prelims Review in Photojournalism

Dr Abe V Rotor

This part is home exam. Photo Essay. Layout on long bond center spread - cut-and-paste and/or fully computerized.

Select 5 to 7 related photos to support the topic of your choice. Write the running story and the caption of each photo selected. Be sure your work sets the premise before the theme, and clearly defines your advocacy, with the "human factor" that touches your viewer-reader.

Palaspas kills thousands of palms
Frolic in the rain
Beauty and the beast

Begging for school

Field research
Relics of death
Two kids
Angry sky - global warming

Mask, mask, mask

Outdoor study

WWII Memorial

Who is afraid of the kapre? Balete tree on a church ruin

Community at harvest time

Pristine environment
Symbiosis, key to a balanced biosphere

Quaintness of childhood on the farm

A thing of beauty is a boy forever

Kapamilya on picnic

Kite - will it fly?

Playing with saints

Friendly eagle

Part 1: Photojournalism Prelims Review (True or False)

Dr Abe V Rotor

___1. For best results there is no substitute to having a manual camera with semi-automatic system for photographic art – kahit digital camera pa.
__ 2 . When taking pictures, the rule is that the source of light must be at the back of the photographer.
___3. The lens opening of a camera is like the pupil of the human eye.
___4. Single lens reflex (SLR) means you are looking at the subject through the lens of the camera.
__ 5. Satellite imaging can detect weather disturbances, pollution; it can predict crop yield levels, and in fact even hideouts of terrorists.
___6. Satellite imaging is used in cartography, that is, the science of mapping the features of the earth.
__ 7. Deeper interpretation of contrast is in the subject of the photo, rather than interplay of light and shadow, colors and lines.
__ 8. The larger the lens opening the better is the depth of field.
__ 9. If the background is bright and your subjects are posed against it, what you can do to counteract glare is to use flash.
__10. Filters emphasize outlines, increases contrast of light and shadow, warm and cool and colors. It is also used in silhouette photography.
__11. The opening of a flower bud step by step is recorded by means of time lapse photography, a technique that compresses time to enable the eye to witness the event in a short time frame.
__12. Buildings appear in concentric circle converging at the top if you use fisheye lens.
__13.When using a wide angle lens for a group photo, those on the sides appear to be very thin while those at the center are fat.
__14. Telezoom lenses extend the view, compressing distance, thus they are used in war zones.
__15.Allow the pupil of the eye to narrow down by sending a series of faint flashes before the real flash is made. This is to prevent red eye in the photograph.
_ 16. With the state-of-the-art digital photography, a poorly taken photo can be edited anyway - so, why worry?
__17. Black and white photos are simpler to process and print than color photographs.
__18. The computer is equipped with a software to correct blurred, burned, incomplete and misaligned photos to appear normal.
__ 19. As a rule do not retouch a historical documentary photos; they are more authentic in their original state.
__ 20. It is easier to photograph emotions rather than features, because they come naturally, while you have to do a lot of script in the latter.
__21. A famous photograph – a naked young girl, her body burned by napalm (Orange Agent) running along a highway with other children, while soldiers simply didn’t mind, was taken during the recent Iraq war.
__22. A lone man standing in front of a column of tanks was taken during the Vietnam war. The photo freezes the action as if the man succeeded in his suicidal act.
__23. Today, photography – from shooting to printing - can be done in a home studio, and therefore offers a good business opportunity. In fact documentaries and short movies can be done.
__24. Composition is the key to telling a story, be it a painting, a poem, a novel – or a photograph.
__25. The elements of art – are also the elements of photography.
__26. Foreshortened effect is shown on traffic signs written on the highway.
__27. 400 ASA/ISO/DIN film is more sensitive than 100 ASA/ISO/DIN film, in the same way as 4 megapixels is more sensitive than say, 2 megapixels.
__28. As the number increases - 30, 60, 100, 250, 500, 1000 – it means the shutter mechanism proportionately slows down or decreases speed.
__29. Here are three ways to improve your photo when lighting is poor: use tripod, use flash, increase ASA or DIN – in any combination, or all of them at the same time.
__30. You can get multiple exposures in a single shot of fireworks even without a tripod.
__31. Adjust shutter to B and mount camera on tripod when shooting night scenes – a busy street, Christmas lights, stars, constellation, etc.
__32. Today’s digital camera is more versatile, relatively cheaper, easier to operate – but not necessarily superior in quality - to film camera.
__33. Some digital cameras can used the lenses of film cameras, particularly SLRs.
__34. The most advanced digital cameras are made by Kodak.
__35.When a close up of flower is blurred, the subject is too close.
__36. Basketball player in air totally blurred – shutter speed is too slow.
__37. Sunny outdoor view is rough, with dot matrix like in “pointillism.” – ASA/ISO value too high.
__38. Photo is too light all over, no accent, clarity poor – insufficient light, lens opening too small, or both.
__39. When having your picture taken, relax your shoulder and your face muscles will also relax.
__40. “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” and “Micro Safari” have one in common – micro photography.
__41. Light microscope reveals the world of microorganisms – countless of them in a single drop of water.
__42. Electron microscopy produces photographs of extremely small objects up to 5,000 times in a myriad of colors like a rainbow.
__43. Radio telescope enables the human eye to see very far objects like stars using the same principle of lens telescope.
__44. One area of photography that enables us to see fast moving objects normally invisible to the eye is through slow motion photography.
__45. The aura emitted by our body is visible through photography.
__46. Photography brings to the eyes of the world good things to appreciate, and evil things to correct.
__47. Photojournalism is a risky profession, like other media men, they risk their lives. In fact the Philippines has the most number of fatalities among media men, second to Iraq. t
__48. War is the arena of photography – war against poverty, graft and corruption, environmental degradation, diseases, ignorance, terrorism, and the like.
__49. Yet photography offers the newest, most modern, technologically advanced, now popularized to be enjoyed by millions of people everyday.
__50. Photography is the extension of our eyes and other senses, in fact our intellect, our feeling and our soul.~

Part 1: Prelims Review in Development Communication - Catalyst of Socio-Economic Change

Assignment in Development Communication, 4CA, University of Santo Tomas.
Please read instruction at the end of this article.

Compiled and edited by Dr AV Rotor

What is Development Communication?
Development Communication is recognizing the power of communication as a catalyst for social development. it is also the utilization of existent communication tools and applicable theories for result-driven strategies for the advancement of society.
Development Communication is a type of marketing and public opinion research that is used specifically to develop effective communication or as the use of communication to promote social development.
Purposive communication intended for a specific target audience that allows for the translation of information into action resulting in a higher quality of life.
The improvement of a community using information and technology and the community's ability to maintain the created ideal state without compromising its environment and resources.
It is the voluntary involvement of a group of people in a development activity with full knowledge of its purpose that will allow them to grow individually and as a community.
The process of eliciting positive change (social, political, economic, moral, environmental, etc) through an effective exchange of pertinent information in order to induce people to action.
Development communication extends to include: information dissemination on developmental schemes/projects, communication for eliciting positive change, interactivity, feedback on developmental issues, feedback/reverse communication for eliciting change. On development side, sustainability issues need to be given proper importance vis-a-vis economic development.
The practice of systematically applying the processes, strategies, and principles of communication to bring about positive social change.

The term "Development Communication" was first coined in 1972 by Nora C. Quebral, who defines the field as "the art and science of human communication linked to a society's planned transformation from a state of poverty to one of dynamic socio-economic growth that makes for greater equity and the larger unfolding of individual potential."

Some approaches include:
• information dissemination and education,
• behavior change,
• social marketing,
• social mobilization,
• media advocacy,
• communication for social change, and
• participatory development communication.

Different schools of development communication have arisen in different places.

1. The "Bretton Woods school of development communication" arose with the economic strategies outlined in the Marshall Plan after WW2, and the establishment of the Bretton Woods system and of the WB and IMF in 1944. Due to his pioneering influence in the field, Everett Rogers has often been termed the "father of development communication."
Originally, the paradigm involved production and planting of development in indigenous and uncivilized societies. This western approach to development communication was criticized early on, especially by Latin American researchers because it tended to locate the problem in the underdeveloped nation rather than its unequal relations with powerful economies. There was also an assumption that Western models of industrial capitalism are appropriate for all parts of the world. Many projects for development communication failed to address the real underlying problems in poor countries such as lack of access to land, agricultural credits and fair market prices.

The world bank currently defines development communication as the "integration of strategic communication in development projects" based on a clear understanding of indigenous realities. Institutions associated with the Bretton Woods school include:

• United Nations (FAO),
• the Rockefeller Foundation,
• the Dept of International Development of the United Kingdom, and
• the Ford Foundation.

2. Latin America
The Latin American School of Development traces its history back further than the Bretton Woods school, emerging in the 1940s with the efforts of Colombia's Radio Sutatenza and Bolivia's Radios Minera. These stations were the first to use participatory and educational rural radio approaches to empowering the marginalized. In effect, they have since served as the earliest models for participatory broadcasting efforts around the world.

3. India
The history of organized development communication in India can be traced to rural radio broadcasts in the 1940s. As is logical, the broadcasts used indigenous languages such as Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati and Kannada.

Independent India's earliest organized experiments in development communication started with Community Development projects initiated by the union government in 1950's.
Radio played an equally important role in reaching messages to the masses. Universities and other educational institutions - especially the agricultural universities, through their extension networks - and international organizations under the UN umbrella carried the dev-comm experiments further.

4. Africa
The African school of development communication sprang from the continent's post-colonial and communist movements in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Development communication in Anglophone Africa saw the use of Radio and theatre for community education, adult literacy, health and agricultural education.

5. University of the Philippines Los Baños
The systematic study and practice of Development Communication in the Philippines began in the 1970s with the pioneering work of Nora C Quebral who, in 1972 became the first to come up with the term "Development Communication." In at least some circles within the field, it is Quebral who is recognized as the "Mother" of Development Communication.

Aspects of development communication which the CDC has extensively explored include Development Broadcasting and Telecommunications, Development Journalism, Educational Communication, Science Communication, Strategic Communication, and Health Communication.

6. Cybernetics approach
Another area of exploration for the CDC at UPLB is the aspect of development communication relating to the information sciences, the decision sciences, and the field of knowledge management. In 1993, as part of the then Institute of Development Communication’s Faculty papers series, Alexander Flor wrote a paper on environmental communication that, among other things, proposed a definition of Development Communication expanded from the perspective of cybernatics and general systems theory:

If information counters entropy and societal breakdown is a type of entropy, then there must be a specific type of information that counters societal entropy. The exchange of such information – be it at the individual, group, or societal level – is called development communication.

7. The Participatory Development Communication school
Focusing the involvement of the community in development efforts, the evolution of the Participatory Development Communication School involved collaboration between First World and Third World development communication organizations.

1.Quebral, Nora C. (1973/72). "What Do We Mean by ‘Development Communication’". International Development Review 15 (2): 25–28.

2. Quebral, Nora (23 November 2001). "Development Communication in a Borderless World". Paper presented at the national conference-workshop on the undergraduate development communication curriculum, "New Dimensions, Bold Decisions". Continuing Education Center, UP Los Baños: Department of Science Communication, College of Development Communication, University of the Philippines Los Baños. pp. 15–28.

3.Manyoso. Linje (March 2006). "Manifesto for Development Communication: Nora C. Quebral and the Los Baños School of Development Communication". Asian Journal of Communication 16 (1): 79–99. doi:10.1080/01292980500467632

4.Avrind Singhal, Everett M. Rogers (1999). Entertainment-education: A Communication Strategy for Social Change , Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. ISBN 0805833501.

5.Flor, Alexander (1993) (Monograph). Upstream and Downstream Interventions in Environmental Communication. Institute of Development Communication.

6.Thussu, Daya Kishan 2000). International Communication: Continuity and Change. London: Arnold.~

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Clitorea purpurea

Photos by Marlo Rotor
Kumpitis (Clitorea purpurea), UST Botanical Garden

"Carolus Linnaeus, you are game,
you know what's different or same,
what resembles color and form
in man's wildest dream and storm." AVR

Living with Nature 3, AVR

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Part 3: Prelims Review for Development Communication - Current Major Events

Dr Abe V Rotor

Guide topics for Development Communication

Choose one topic as a group (of three) work. Develop it like a thesis in form and presentation. (PowerPoint, print and group presentation in class.) Inclusive period, whole of February 2011

Population planning


Juvenile delinquency

Global Warming

Maguindanao Massacre 2009

1. Death of Laguna Bay. The lake, which is more than 90,000 hectares, is in a state of irreversible decline which ultimately leads to ecological death.

2. School overload of school children. Childhood is no longer enjoyed because the school takes out its joy, adventure, and quaintness of growing up normally.

3. Genetically modified food. We are eating "Frankenfood" without our knowledge, more so our will and permission.

4. Gay and lesbian entertainment. There is a trend in not only in accepting, but promoting, third sex entertainment.

5. Talipapa. There is a talipapa somewhere in a corner - people's mall or grassroots informal market, reminiscent of village market in the past.

6. Tricycle and jeepney. People's engineering genius. What's next? These inventions have created sub-cultures of their own.

7. Life under the bridge. Poorest among the poor find home under the bridge, mostly in cities and big towns.

8. Bagsakan. They are found in Balintawak (Clover leaf market), Divisoria, Commonwealth are but few examples of people's wholesale markets.

9. Five-six. Underground lending. Illegal, exorbitant, yet it flourishes.

10. Jueteng. Truly it exists. Jueteng lords are are untouchable, they stand as padrino, they rise as political leaders.

11. Global Warming according to Aling Maria. How's the issue viewed and understood on the grassroots?

12. Three million Filipinos don't have enough food to eat. This is an underestimate.
But are there cases of death due to lack of food - like in Ethiopia and India?

13. Neurosis, psychosis on the rise. And suicide. Handling these cases by family and society needs research and redirection.

14. Exodus to cities
. In spite of degradation of life in urban centers - or is this the effect?

15. Functional literacy. The 3Rs of literacy - wRiting, Reading aRithmetic - no longer the measure of literacy today in our computer age.

16. Agriculture versus Ecology. Strange bedfellows. Is there a unifying formula?

17. Darwinism doesn't apply anymore. Evolution is now in the hands of man playing God.

18. Ecumenism to the layman. Pledges, rituals, diplomacy, protocol at the top - but what does it really mean to the ordinary faithful, irrespective of creed?

19. Biotechnology.
Cloning - what's cooking? Stem cells, in vitro, surrogate birth, post menopausal childbirth, and the like.

20. Cosmetics has gone a long way. We are changing the person.

21. Maguindanao Massacre. Justice delayed, justice denied. And the eyes of the world are focused on us. A case for the International Court of Justice?

22. Postmodernism. A misnomer? Are we simply drifting in the current of rapid change?

Reviving classical art with contemporary theme.
Paintings by the late Joey Velasco displayed during
the UST 400th anniversary retreat SMX, MOA

23. Child prodigies. Spurt or sprout? A certain "Alilea" was advertised to have a higher IQ than Galileo just by drinking a formulated milk product. Where is this child prodigy now?

24. Where is art heading for? What's beyond abstractionism? Is art history cyclical - we are going back to classicism. Or is it the opposite? Avant garde? Surrealism? Music to noise, ballet to break-and-split, poetry to simple makata.

25. Globalization is dissolving barriers - barriers of culture, genetics, politics, religion, economics, and the like. It is homogenization, it is loss of identity and diversity. Is it advantageous?

List is open ended. Suggestions are encouraged.