Saturday, April 30, 2011


Dr Abe V Rotor

Brook of my Childhood, Mural detail AVR

The brook of my childhood
meandered in dreams,
where lazy hours flowed
through the valley;
when in youth I drifted
on her water and shoulders
to where the world opens;
when with age I found her
dying as she filled the ocean.~


Abe V Rotor

Sunset view at Fairview, QC

You are struck by a flash of light,
you shrink in a sudden act
from the transfixed holy sight,
wondering if dream or fact.

Visions are sometimes deceiving
to the unwary beholder,
yet stir the senses into believing
in some mystery yonder.~

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Fables Part 1: Re-discovering Aesop’s Fables. Are fables still relevant in our times?

Dr. Abe Rotor and Ms Melly Tenorio
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid DZRB 738 KHzAM
8-9 Evening Class, Monday to Friday
Living with Nature - School on Blog

Wolf and the Crane; Wolf and the Lamb

Aesop did not write down his fables. He told many people the stories and they remembered them. It was nearly two hundred years before the stories were collected together and published. The fables were not published in English until the 15th century, but since then they have been read by people all over the world. Their moral lessons are as true today as they were 2,500 years ago when Aesop was alive.

Childhood Lessons from Fables

The first lessons I learned from my father came from Aesop’s fables. Quite a number of them are still fresh in my mind nearly fifty years after. Fable or fibula in Latin is a story or tale, especially a short story, often with animals or inanimate objects as speakers or actors, devised to convey a moral. So simple and universal are fables that no one could possibly miss the lesson of each story.

Before I proceed let me say a few words about the genius behind this ancient art of storytelling. the founder of fables. Aesop was a native of old Greece, a former slave who earned his freedom out of his genius and wit, a master in allegorical philosophy. It is for this natural gift that he also gained fame – and ironically, it is also for this that he met a lamentable end in the hands of enemies whom his fables created.

Aesop is the greatest fabulist of all time, and if there are other prominent fabulists after him and at present, there is likely a shade of Aesop in their stories. Even modern fables like the movie Babes, about the pig that gained its right to live by learning to be a sheep dog, reminds us of Aesop. Or take the case of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, a story about man’s folly and greed for power and wealth and lavish living.

But little can we perceive the original morals of Aesop in most of today’s animations. There is simply too much fantasy that masks the lesson, especially so with the versatility of technology that emphasizes scenarios that heighten the plot as if fables are running entertainment stories. What technology misses is that it fails to capture the refinement of presentation and the purposeful message that lingers in afterthought. Aesop has a unique way of making his reader to first look within himself before casting judgment upon others. Like many philosophers in his time, he believed that change is basically internal and often, discreetly self atonement and non-effacing. Aesop is Aesop for such extraordinary character as can be gleamed from records about the man. To wit -.

“It is probable that he was of a low and diminutive stature, though agreeable in his complexion, and polite in his manners. It is however certain that he had a great soul, and was endowed with extraordinary mental qualification; his moral character approached to a degree of perfection to which very few have attained. He appears to have had a true sense of morality and a just discernment of right and wrong; his perceptions and feelings of truth were scrupulously mice, and the smallest deviation from rectitude impressed his mind with the greatest antipathy.

“No considerations of private interest could warp his inclinations to as to seduce him from the path of virtue; his principles are steadfast and determined, and truly habitual. He never employed his great wisdom to serve the purposes of cunning; but, with an uncommon exactness, made his understanding a servant of truth.” (Oliver Goldsmith, Life of Aesop)

While we recognize Aesop as the father of the fable, there were fabulists ahead of him like Archilochus who wrote fables one hundred years before. But it is certain that Aesop was the first that brought that species of teaching into reputation, building upon the style of using animals and inanimate objects to describe the manners and characters of men, communicating instructions without seeming to assume authority of a master or a pedagogue.

Here is a story from which we can gleam the Aesop’s indomitable reputation. He adopted a unique strategy to reconcile his master and his estranged wife who had left him. It is said that Aesop, then a slave of Xanthus, went to the market and brought a great quantity of the best provisions, which he publicly declared were intended for the marriage of his master with a new spouse. This report had its desired effect, and the matter was amicably settled. And at a feast to celebrate the return of his master’s wife he is said to have served the guests with several courses of tongues, by which he intended to give a moral to his master and wife, who had by too liberal use of their tongue almost caused their permanent separation.

In another occasion, Aesop astounded the sages of Greece. An ambitious king having one day shown his vast riches and magnificence, and the glory and splendor of his court, asked them the question, whom they thought was the happiest man. After several different answers given by all the wise men present, it came at last to Aesop to make his reply. He said: “That Croesus was as much happier than other men as the fullness of the sea was superior to the rivers in his kingdom.”

If we were to base Aesop’s sagacity and severe morality his answer would rather be one of sarcasm rather than compliment, but he was undoubtedly understood by the king to be a great compliment, that in his vanity exclaimed, “The Phrygian had hit the mark.” Afterwards, alone with a friend, Aesop commented, “Either we must not speak to Kings, or we must say what will please them.”

While he was living at the court of King Croesus, now a free man, celebrated and famous, he was sent on a journey to the temple of Apollo at Delphi. There he was accused by the Delphians of sacrilege, and he was convicted by an act of the greatest villainy. They concealed among his baggage, at his departure, some golden vessels consecrated to Apollo, and then dispatched messengers to search his baggage. Upon this he was accused of theft and sacrilege, and condemned to die. The angry Dephians pushed him over a steep cliff to his death.

Aesop’s ironic death is not the first among respected citizens of Greece, paradoxically when Greece was at its peak of power, as we can only imagine with this aphorism “the glory that was Greece.” Not far after Aesop’s time, Socrates, the greatest philosopher of Athens in his time and one of the greatest minds the world has ever known, was condemned to die by drinking poison hemlock for “corrupting the minds of the youth.” Socrates opened the gate of enlightenment; the concept of the Lyceum or university.

I have selected a number of Aesop fable to suit the purpose of conveying important messages related to contemporary issues in a manner that they can be understood at the grassroots. This is the purpose of Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (school-on-the air) to impart functional literacy to the masses. It is not the intention of the lessons to impose moral authority, much less to proselytize our society of its failures and weaknesses. It merely seeks to elevate awareness for change, in the humblest manner we may find ways to reform, through the lessons in the fables Aesop related more than two thousand five hundred years ago.


Fables Part 2: Versions of Some Aesop's Fables

Popular Aesop Fables

1. The fox without a tail – Wise people are not easily fooled

2. The shepherd boy and the wolf – If we tell lies, no one will believe us when we speak the truth.

3. The boastful traveler – People who boast are soon found out.

4. The crow and the fox – Beware of people who say nice things they do not mean.

5. Who will bell the cat – Some things are more easily said than done.

6. The crow and the swan – Think well before you copy other people.

7. The wolf and the lamb – People who want to do something bad can always
find an excuse.

8. The lion and the hare – It is sometimes wiser to be content with what you have.

9. Brother and sister – It is better to be good than to be just good looking.

10. The goose that laid the golden eggs - A greedy man can lose all he has.

11. The wind and the sun– Kindness often gets things done more quickly than force.

12. The trees and the axe – Be careful when you give way over small things,
or you may have to give way over big ones.

13. The dog and his reflection – If you want more because you are greedy, in the end
you might find you have less.

14. The fir tree and the bramble – People who are too proud may be sorry later.

15. The ant and the dove – No one is too little to be helpful.

16. The boys and the frogs – Do not do things to other people that you would not
like to be done to you.

17. The raven and the jug – If you try hard enough, you may find you can do something
that at first seems very difficult.

18. The dog in the manger – Do not stop others having what you don’t need.

19. The fox and the grapes – It is silly to say that you do not want something just
because you cannot have it. (idiomatic expression: sour grapes)

20. The wolves and the dog – Those who cannot be trusted deserve to be treated badly.

21. The fox and the lion – Things are not always what they seem to be at first.

22. The bear and the travelers - A real friend will not leave you to face trouble alone.

23. The fox and the stork – If you play mean tricks on other people, they might do
the same to you.

24. The man and the partridge – No one loves a traitor.

Versions and Interpretations of Aesop’s Fables

The interpretation of an Aesop fable may vary. For example, The Fir Tee and the Bramble, has this earlier interpretation, from Oliver Goldsmith, citing Bewick’s version.

Poverty secures a man from many dangers; whereas the rich and the mighty are the mark of malice and cross fortune; and still the higher they are, the nearer the thunder.

To have a better view of the moral, let me cite the fable from Bewick’s. The fable starts with a verse, as follows:

Minions of fortune, pillars of the state,
Round your exalted heads that tempest low’r!
While peace secure, and soft contentment wait
On the calm mansions of the humble poor.

So the story goes like this. “My head, says the boasting Fir-tree to the humble Bramble, is advanced among the stars; I furnish beams for palaces, and masts for shipping; the very sweat of my body is a sovereign remedy for the sick and wounded: whereas thou, O rascally Bramble, runnest creeping in the dirt, and art good for nothing in the world but mischief. I pretend not to vie with thee, said the Bramble, in the points that gloriest in. But, not to insist upon it, that He who made thee lofty Fir, could have made thee an humble Bramble, I pray thee tell me, when the Carpenter comes next with the axe into the wood, to fell timber, whether that hadst not rather be a Bramble than a Fir-tree?”

Compare the same fable with this simplified version for children. Here it goes.

One day, on a hill top, a fir tree said to a bramble bush. “Look at me. I am tall, strong, graceful and very beautiful. What good are you? You are small, ugly and untidy.”

This made the bramble bush very unhappy because it knew the fir tree was right. But next day some men carrying axes came up the hill. They started to chop down the fir tree. They wanted to use it to make a new house.

”Oh dear!” cried the fir tree, as it started to fall. “I wish I were a bramble bush, then the men would not have cut me down.”

The Fox and the Grapes
Here is Bewick’s version of this fable.

Old maids who loathe the matrimonial state
Poor rogues who laugh to scorn the rich and the great,
Patriots who rail at placemen and at pow’r,
All, like Reynard, say, ”The Grapes are sour.”

And here is the main body of the fable.

“A fox, very hungry, chanced to come into a Vineyard, where hung many bunches of charming ripe grapes; but nailed up to a trellis so high, that he leaped till he quite tired himself without being able to reach one of them. At last, Let who will take them! Says he; they are but green and sour; so I’ll even let them alone.”

This is the interpretation from the same source (Bewick’s).
When a man finds it impossible to obtain the things he longs for, it is a mark of sound wisdom and discretion to make a virtue of necessity.

To compare with the simplified children’s version, the story goes like this as retold by Marie Stuart (A Second Book of Aesop’s Fables, Ladybird Books, 1974)

A fox saw some nice grapes. “They look good,” he said. “I want to eat them, but they are too high for me. I must try jumping for them.”

He jump and jumped but could not reach the grapes. So he said, “I can see now that they are green. They are not sweet. I do not like green grapes. They are sour. I don’t want them.”

So he went away without any. He knew that the grapes were really very nice. He just said they were sour because he could not reach them.

This story gave rise to the idiomatic expression – sour grapes, which are an expression of frustration, a passive surrender, a defeatist argument, and a kind of defense mechanism.

What could have led to the variation in the interpretation of the two versions? Thomas Bewick from whom Goldsmith based his English translation, lived in the later part of the 18th century and early 19th century, and apparently wrote and illustrated in wood block Aesop’s fables; whereas the children’s version is a very recent one. Understandably, it the social message in Bewick’s time and ours that has not changed, but it is in the way it is stated. The earlier version reflects the fineness in expression and diplomacy of the English language, unlike our contemporary style of expression - direct and moralistic. Thus the idiom – sour grapes was born out of the contemporary version.


Fables Part 3: The Boy who Cried, Wolf! The Dog and His Shadow.

The Shepherd Boy and the Wolf
(A Boy and False Alarms)
Of all the fables I learned as child, I like best the story of the boy who cried “Wolf!” After bluffing twice, thrice, and make fun out of wit, people didn’t believe in him anymore. Then the real wolf came and killed all the sheep.

Here is the story from Bewick written in Medieval English style.
“A shepherd’s boy kept his sheep upon a common, and in sport and wantonness had gotten a roguish trick of crying. A wolf! A wolf! When there was no such matter, and fooling the country people with false alarms. He had been at this sport so many times in jest, that they would not believe him at last when he was in earnest; and so the wolves broke in upon the flock, and worried the sheep without resistance.”

The fable shows us the dangerous consequences of an improper and unseasonable fooling. The old moral observes, that a common liar shall not be believed, even when he speaks true.

The Mice in Council
(Who will bell the cat?)
It’s an interesting fable that behooves upon whose who are good only as critics, and ruefully poor doers. It also applies to those who may be sincere in a thing they think is right, but lack the courage to do it. Why many evil things continue to prevail because of indifference!

Let us look into the story. This is the simpler version for children to understand. Once some mice lived in a house where there also lived a big cat. Everyday she liked to eat some mice. At last the mice said to one another. “This must stop, or soon we shall all be eaten.”

So after a time an old mouse said. “I know what we can do. One of us must put a bell on the cat. The bell will tell us when she is near and when we must stay at home. After she has gone away, we can come out again.”

“Yes, that will be a wise thing to do. Let us do that,” they all said.

“But which one of us will put the bell on her?” said the old mouse. “I am too old, I cannot run very fast so I don’t think I can do it.”

“So are we,” said some of the others.

“And we are too little,” said the baby mice. In the end no one would do it. So the bell was never put on the cat and she went on eating the mice.

Another interpretation suggests that the fable must have been addressed to celebrated personages - people who are members of a council. In the story, the members offered solutions which they debated upon. Here the one who offered the solution to bell the cat came was a young mouse, who in fine florid speech convinced the council. Thereafter an old grave Mouse, who had sat silent all the while, gave another speech, in which he said that the proposal is ingenious. However, he thought it would not be so proper to thank the proponent unless he informs them how the bell was going to be fastened around the cat’s neck, and which mouse would undertake the dangerous assignment.

Bewick’s interpretation speaks on a higher level of thought. To wit:
“The different lights, in which things appear to different judgments, recommend candor to the opinions of others, even at the time we retain our own.”

The Dog and the Shadow
(The Dog and His Reflection)

Perhaps the most popular fable about avarice is The Dog and the Shadow (The Dog and His Reflection)

One day, a dog took a bone from a shop. He ran off with it before anyone could catch him. He came to a river and went over the bridge. As he looked down into the water, he saw another dog with a bone. He did not know that the dog he saw in the water was a reflection of himself.

“That dog has a big bone. It is as big as mine,” he said. “I will jump into the water and take it from him.” So he jumped.

When he was in the water, he could not see the other dog. And he could not see the other bone either. He had lost his own bone, too, because it fell as he jumped in. So because he was greedy, he got nothing in the end. The story invites the reader to reflect upon himself on these related lessons:
• Excessive greediness mostly in the end misses what it aims.
• Disorderly appetite seldom obtains what it would have.
• Passions mislead men, and often bring them great inconveniences.


Part 4: Other Fables of Aesop

Other Aesop Fables

Here is a list of Aesop Fables which may not be as popular to us as compared with those in the first list. It is true that many fables have remained obscure and forgotten in some shelves, relinquished aside in favor of modern day fables and animations. Ironically many stories about animals are not fables at all. Even legends have a place of their own, and a lot of them do not fall into the category of fables. The Minotaur for example will remain firmly within the sphere of mythology, more so with the mystical beasts legends and myths like Medusa and the Dragon.

The Ant and the Grasshopper – “Save for the rainy day.” Action and industry of th wise and a good man, and nothing is so much to be despised as slothfulness.

• A boar and a Fox – A discreet man should have a reserve of everything that is necessary beforehand.

• The Fox and the Crow – There is hardly any man living that may not be wrought upon more or less by flattery

• An Ass, an Ape and a Mole; The Hares and the Frogs – These two fables tell us that we
cannot contend with the Orders and Decrees of Providence

• The Ant and the Fly – An honest mediocrity is the happiest state a man can wish for.

• The Horse and an Ass – This fable shows the folly and the fate of pride and arrogance.

• An Husbandman and Stork – Our fortune and reputation require us to keep good company.

• A Father and his Sons – The breach of unity puts the world in a state of war.

• The Sick Father and his Children – Good counsel is the best legacy a father can leave
to a child.

• A Peacock and a Crane – There cannot be a greater sign of a weak mind than a
person’s valuing himself on a gaudy outside.

• The Stag Looking into the Water – We should examine things deliberately,
and candidly consider their real usefulness before we place our esteem on them.

• The Gnat and a Bee – Industry ought to be inculcated in the minds of children.

• A Swallow and a Stork – A wise man will not undertake anything without means answerable to the end.

• The Satyr and the Traveler – There is no use conversing with any man that carries two faces under one hood.

• The Eagle, the Cat and the Sow – There can be no peace in any state or family where whisperers and tale bearers are encouraged.

• The Two Frogs – We ought never to change our situation in life, without duly considering the consequences of such a change.

• The Discontented Ass – Here is a beautiful verse written about this fable

Who lacks the pleasures of a tranquil mind,
Will something wrong in every station find;
His mind unsteady, and on changes bent,
Is always shifting, yet it is ne’er content.

• And here is a shade of mythology in Aesop in these two fables: Hercules and the Carter. Prayers and wishes amount to nothing: We must put forth our own honest endeavors to obtain success and the assistance of heaven; and Mercury and the Woodman – Honesty is the best policy.


Part 5: Modern Fable: The Little Red Hen

The Little Red Hen – A Modern Fable

Once upon a time there was a little red hen that lived in a farmyard, and one day found some grains of wheat which she took to the other animals in the farmyard – cat, rat, pig. He asked who of them can help her plant the grains of wheat. None wanted to, so the little red hen planted the grains, and the plants grew tall and strong until it was time to harvest them.

Again he asked her companions if they are willing to help. Just like before, none of them was. So the little red hen did the harvesting. And she did all the work – brought the grains to the miller and to the baker, and when the bread was baked he asked her friends, “Who will help me eat the bread?”

“I will,” said the cat.

“I will,” said the rat.

“I will,” said the pig.

“No you will not,” intoned the little red hen. “I shall eat it myself.” So she did.

The Little Red Hen and the Grains of Wheat is a modern fable which evolved into philosophy that touches sensitive issues of modern living such as capitalism and socialism. Animal Farm by George Orwell may be different in presentation and philosophical connotation, from the traditional style of a fable. It is a socio-economic and political thesis in the guise of animals acting like humans do under a system which they themselves created.

Even as Aesop fables are taking a new dimension as viewed in a changing world, the essence is as fresh as ever. All one needs to realize them as relevant as they were in Aesop’s time is simply to reflect on them himself. For human character and behavior have not really changed since then.
x x x

References: Goldsmith O (1973) - Treasury of Aesop’s Fables Avenel Books, NY 139 pp
Stuart M (1974) A First Book of Aesop’s Fables (Vol 1 and 2) Ladybird Books

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Transience of Childhood in San Vicente

Abe V Rotor

In honor of Saint Vincent Ferrer whose feastday is April 5, but celebrated on the last Tuesday of April. This year, the town fiesta honoring him falls on April 26.

Transience of Childhood
Part of a mural painting (15.5 ft x 5 ft) by AVRotor.
The mural can be found at the old Municipal Hall.

This is a beautiful world to the young,
Faces grow on clouds and kites fly high,
In kaleidoscope against the setting sun.
The trees sing and nests sweetly cry.

If for all the fish and the Siberian breeze,
The fields are still, save a songbird,
The clock comes to a stop in hammock’s ease -
But a chime yonder is urging to be heard.

Not enough is summer, transient is the game;
It starts with glee and ends with a sigh,
And childhood ends. But never is the aim
Of the sky to make the little ones cry.

Freud and Thoreau – these great minds saw
What makes a man, the child of years ago,
Sitting by the pond or climbing on a bough,
His kite rising to heaven’s glow.

Painting presented to Mayor Jose Tabanda III by Dr. Abercio V. Rotor,
as a remembrance of happy childhood, the impressions of which are indelible
even to those who are far away from their beloved hometown. May 23, 2005

Living withNature, AVRotor

Monday, April 25, 2011

Living with Folk Wisdom - 50 Useful Trivia and Practical Tips (Test, 50 items True or False)

Abe V. Rotor
Living with Nature - School on Blog
This is our 1,884th post. To date we have 103, 000 pageviews. Welcome!

Lesson: How rich is your knowledge handed down by old folks? Relevance of traditional knowledge today. Is it science or superstition? Separating the grain from the chaff, so to speak. Reprint of previous post by popular request.

This lesson was given to school teachers undergoing special training program at UST Graduate School sponsored by DECS and DOST.

1. A child around 5 years old is ready for school if he passes the “touch your opposite your ear” test.

2. Añil or azul makes white clothes whiter. Añil is made from Indigo plant which is also used by farmers as green manure.

3. Of all the banana varieties the leaves of latundan and lakatan are the best for food wrapper.

4. For school children the circumference of the neck is twice the waistline – ideally.

5. Diamond is real if it scratches glass – not for man-made diamond.

6. Leaves of neem tree is used to hasten the ripening of fruits.

7. Lime is applied on the butt end of cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli to keep them fresh and stay longer.

8. More fish are caught in the sea during full moon.

9. Mungo seeds that remain hard after cooking are seeds which were immature when harvested.

10. Oranges with protruding bottom are sweeter, and the rounder lansones is, the sweeter.

11. Stir rice while cooking to distribute heat for faster cooking, especially in large pots or talyasi.

12. During thunder and lightning nitrogen gas is combined with Oxygen to form nitrate, P with O to form phosphates, s and o to form sulphates – all these are important in the growth and development of plants.

13. When planting on sloping land be sure that the rows follow the contour of the field to minimize erosion and siltation.

14. Burying fruits in ash, sand or sawdust hastens ripening.

15. Corn harvest increases by decapitating the standing crop (detasseling).

16. You can count with the finger the macapuno trees in a coconut plantation, and if you find one, all the nuts of that tree are macapuno.

17. Farm animals grow faster with music, so with certain plants.

18. Bad gums can lead to hearty attack.

19. A candidate of heart attack is known by his features, like being bald, having a big waist.

20. An unconscious person is revived by pressing his base of his thumb.

21. This is a test for fresh egg. When immersed in water it lies at the bottom on its side.

22. Pruning enhances survival of seedlings and cuttings, pruning stimulate flowering and fruiting.

23. It is true that rain while the sun is out breeds insects.

24. Jackfruit or nangka may bear fruits under the ground, ganon din ang rimas or breadfruit.

25. Light trapping of insects is effective and practical.

26. Today’s agriculturists and botanists are more are familiar with many wild food plants than old folks.

27. Old folks use garlic and red pepper (siling labuyo) to control common insect pests.

28. Pinag-aasawa ang kalabasa (pollination) to insure fruit formation.

29. Carabao’s milk is more nutritious than cow’s milk, and produces more in a year. Carabaos also have longer lactation period and shorter dry period.

30. Chopped banana stalk makes a cold pack substitute.

31. Corn silk tea is good for the kidney.

32. Back of the hand is ideal to use to test a tepid bath.

33. Ethnic music makes a wholesome life, it is therapy.

34. Fly maggots heal deep wounds before the advent of antibiotics.

35. Guava seeds cause appendicitis.

36. Gulat ang gamut sa sinok. Jolting the patient stops his hiccup.

37. In the absence of vinegar or any medication, coke or any carbonated drink should be immediately applied on wound caused by sea urchin.

38. Ipil-ipil seed is an expectorant, just by pounding around 5 mature seeds and mixing it with syrup. expels ascaris worms

39. Ipon or dulong is the a favorite delicacy of Ilocanos, quite often eating it raw.

40. It’s strange but true, “When dust gets into your eyes, blow your nose.”

41. Kamoteng kahoy or cassava builds as much gas (flatulence) as kamote or sweet potato), kaya ang tawag sa dalawa as kamote.

42. Lead (Pb) poisoning can be obtained unknowingly from paints, prints, dyes, because lead is an excellent fixer.

43. Lead poisoning because common among the Greeks when they changed their drinking bronze vessels into lead alloys.

44. A mother should read, sing and talk to her baby in the in the womb from the time of conception. Pregnant mothers should also have a happy and positive disposition.

45. Mothers should not do heavy work for 40 days after childbirth.

46. Pansit-pansitan or Piperonia pellucida relieves arthritis.

47. To catching a live monkey, bore a whole on a ripe papaya just enough for its hand to enter. It will gather the soft flesh and make a firm grip, thus trapping its hand. Then it is time to subdue the bewildered animal.

48. It’s the male seahorse that gets pregnant, but turns over to the female the babies so that he will be free of babysitting.

49. Dogs eat grass for self-medication, so with parrots eating clay.

50. A green grasshopper in summer turns brown in the rainy season.

x x x

Answers will be posted in a week's time

Living with Nature, AVRotor

Earth Science (self-administered test)

Professor: Dr. A.V. Rotor

Part 1 - Multiple Choice: Copy the letter of the correct answer.
Knowledge Recall and Application
A. These are vital issues related to the subject. A. Pollution B. Global Warming C. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) D. Nuclear energy E. Biological warfare F. El Niño G. Natural farming H. Renewable energy I. Avian flu J. Drug abuse
__ 1. Increasing strength of hurricanes, worsening floods.
__ 2. Zero tillage, no application of synthetic chemicals
__ 3. Dendrothermal, geothermal
__ 4. Bt corn, US potato, Sav’rFlav’r and soya bean
__ 5. Chernobyl incident, also similar cases in US and Japan
__ 6. Climatic phenomenon characterized by extreme drought on one side of the globe and excessive rainfall on the other side.
__ 7. Anthrax spores carried by mail, actually happened in the US following the 9-11 incident.
__ 8. More and more teeners acquire the habit of smoking
__ 9. Thinning and disappearance of glaciers and ice caps.
_ 10. Viral epidemic affecting both humans and birds and fowls, including pigs.

B. These are Alternative energy sources: A. Dendrothermal B. Hydroelectric C. Biofuel D. Solar E. Tides and currents F. Wind G. Geothermal H. Steam I. Hydrogen J. Nuclear
__11. Energy generated by splitting the atom or fission.
__12. Energy generated by fusion, such as the source of power of the sun.
__13. Most practical energy to dry fish, clothes, grains, and the like.
__14. Ebbing and surging of the sea create energy, awaiting to be tapped.
__15. The prime mover of locomotives in the last two centuries much depended on this source.
__16. Firewood is still the most popular energy for cooking.
__17. This source of energy is symbolized by the “giant” Don Quijote fought in a novel written by Miquel de Cervantes.
__18. Tiwi in Albay is the show window of this energy, in fact a model for both local and foreign projects.
__19. Ambuklao, Binga, Chico River, Pantabangan exemplify this kind of energy.
__20 This is the main source of our electricity at home, communities and industries.

Part II . True or False (20 items) Discrimination, analysis, application
__21. Morals and ethics usually go together; they do not change from contry to country.
__22.Alcogas and alcohol are same and one. Both have the same purpose – as car fuel.
__23. “Over treatment” of a patient is an ethical issue on social justice.
__24. Genetic engineering is a sin, according to the Vatican’s new pronouncement.
__25. It is also a sin to kill a tree, beyond the literal sense.
__26. Using MSG, Aspartame, salitre may be morally acceptable but ethically wrong.
__27. A doctor prescribes an antibiotic about to expire. This is morally and ethically acceptable.
__28. Laban ng gagamba, laban ng beetles, cockfighting – these are moral and ethical.
__29. We are responsible for the consequences of our action – Principle of double effect.
__30. You can recall a genetically modified organism (GMO) back to its natural general constitution.

Part III. Essay (Expression, reasoning, organization): Answer two only as prescribed - 10 points
A. In developing countries such as the Philippines it is advisable to use sugarcane, cassava and corn, to order to produce alcohol for our vehicles. Yes___ No ___ Reason for your answer: _______________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________
B. There are now new shipping lanes, many ships are bypassing the Suez and Panama Canals. How did this come about? ____________________________________________________________________________
C. What is alcogas” _____________________________ E10? ____________________________________
D. A taxi driver has TB, refuses treatment, and continues with his trade. He can be apprehended under the law. Yes/No Support your answer. ________________________________________________________
E. “I’m not a plastic bag” means ___________________________________________________________
F. Smoking is a sin.

Note: Answers will be posted in a week's time.

Early plants acylic by AVRotor

Living with Nature, AVRotor

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Spontaneous Outburst of Nature

Living with Nature - School on Blog

Abe V Rotor

Sudden outburst of wood mushrooms blanket the limb of
a dead tree. Former St Paul University QC Botanical Garden

A sudden but precise outburst of a species of wood fungus on the trunk of a dead tree wakes up in response to biological clock.

Development biology, a specialized field of life science, helps trace the transformation of life from one kind to another as to how a bridge can provide the transition in all aspects - biological, chemical and physical.

Where one organism begins where one ends can be studied according to their life cycles. More than this is the mystery of the very core of life that keeps the system balanced, continuous and dynamic.

Here are other examples to illustrate this phenomenon.

1. Emergence of midges (gamu-gamu)
2. Outbreak of pathogens that leads to epidemic (Cholera, Dengue, H1N1, SARS)
3. Algal bloom (red tide)
4. Jellyfish outbreak
5. Migration of birds

A colony of aphids on cabbage - a sudden outburst of reproduction through paedogenesis - a rare phenomenon among insects and other lower forms of bearing young before reaching maturity.

Add to the list other cases that may be occurring in your area. Is the story of the Pied Piper of Hamlyn true? Is it related to this biological phenomenon?

Living with Nature 3, AVR

Living Thoughts for the Easter

Abe V. Rotor

Mural detail by AVRotor

Like a river reaching for the sea,
True beauty is brief to behold;
If it rushes will lose its beauty;
It meanders, in dying it is awed.

Through these rocks I see a fisherman
Standing at the edge of the sea;
Imagining myself in his place, I am
With my Creator full of life and free.

To the artist Nature is all beautiful,
From a sleeping child to a raging bull;
Freshness in the moon, new or full,
And in all colors, warm and cool.

Would the pious take the less trodden
Of two roads leading to but one end?
But little faith does not make a saint
No matter which road he would take.

Learn from the river through the ages,
The lowly ant, spider or stork
Kingdoms, monuments, and caves
They make; patience is silence at work.

A tenth of our brain is all we use
In a lifetime; the rest we save;
Yet it spurs us to reach for the stars
Or drives us early to our grave.

Flowers in the wild when in bloom,
Dare we to say they are wild?
They bring beauty to fill the room,
That makes our character mild.

Mahatma Gandhi - Man of the Millennium (Test, 20 items)

Abe V Rotor
Lesson on Radyo ng Bayan's Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid
Living with Nature - School on Blog
My life is my message.
Mahatma Gandhi - Man of the Millennium

"Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed. Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well."
Mahatma Gandhi, Indian political and spiritual leader (1869 - 1948)
Part 1: True or False

1. Papu Gandhi – Papu means Pope.
2. Gandhi, Mahatma – Mahatma implies deep respect on the level of a living god.
3. His true name is Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.
4. He was born on November 19, 1917
5. Indira Gandhi is daughter of Mahatma Gandhi.
6. Jawaharlal Nehru became the first PM of independent India.
7. Studied law in Italy and became a lawyer.
8. He met a prominent social idealist, GB Shaw.
9. He applied for clerical work in India, was shocked of racial discrimination.
10. Came from a family with morally rigorous environment that decreed pacifism and the sanctity of living things.
11. Entered politics in 1919 to protest British sedition laws and politicize the Indian National Congress, advocated no-violence, non-cooperation to achieve independence.
12. Repressed throughout WWII, he negotiated for an autonomous Indian state.
13. India gained independence in 1948
14. Gandhi wrote books which we use today as references.
15. Last words of Gandhi – Oh, God!

Part 2: Supply the missing Keywords
1. He influenced a great leader in South Africa, now a living hero.
2. This US leader upheld to his death the principle of equality of races based on Gandhi’s teachings.
3. Racial discrimination has a term used in S Africa.
4. Gandhi founded and practiced this doctrine.
5. Other term for mob rule.

Part 1: 1f, 2t, 3t, 4F(October 2,1869), 5f, 6t, 7F (England) 8t, 9f, 10t, 11t, 12t, 13t,14f, Gandhi did not write books. 15t, last words when he was mortally shot in public by a fanatic assassin.

Part 2: 1. Nelson Mandela; 2. Martin Luther King; 3. Apartheid; 4. Doctrine of non-violence; 5.Anarchy

19 - 20 Excellent; 16 - 18 Very Good; 13 - 15 Good; 10 - 12 Passing; below 10, listen to DZRB 738AM, Monday to Friday 8 to 9 o'clock in the evening, Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid. []

Based on movie, Gandhi, and library and Internet references.

Meditation for the Lenten Season

Living with Nature - School on Blog
"All that live must die, passing through Nature to eternity." William Shakespeare

Michaelangelo's Pieta, after the restoration. The Vatican

1. There is hunger for ordinary bread, and there is hunger for love, for kindness, for thoughtfulness; and for this is the great poverty that makes people suffer so much. Mother Teresa of Calcutta

2. I have learned through bitter experience the one supreme lesson to conserve my anger, and as heat conserved is transmuted into energy, even so our anger controlled can be transmuted into a power that can move the world. Mahatma Gandhi

3. It takes two to speak the truth - one to speak, and another to hear. Henry David Thoreau

4. All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. Leo Tolstoy

5. Ask and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Saint Matthew

If at first you don't succeed;, try, try again. William Edward Hickson
6. Ars longa, vita brevis. (Art is long, but life is short.) Hippocrates

7. Procrastination is the thief of time. Edward Young

8. We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another. Jonathan Swift

9. If peace cannot be maintained with honour, it is no longer peace. John Russell

10. Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo,
Shovel them under and let me work - I am the grass; I cover all. Carl Sandburg

11. Proprium humani ingenii est odisse quem laeseris. (It is human nature to hate the man whom you have hurt.) Tacitus

12. So many gods, so many creeds,
So many paths that wind and wind,
When just the art of being kind
Is all this sad world needs. Ella Wheeler Wilcox

13. Fine art is that in which the hand, the head, and the heart of man go together. - John Ruskin

14. Wherever you go, you will always bear yourself about with you, and so you will always find yourself. Thomas Kempis

15. Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at the close of day;
Rage, rage, rage against the dying of the light. Dylan Thomas

It is great wisdom to know how to be silent and to look at neither the remarks, nor the deeds, nor the lives of others.
Saint John of the Cross

Selected and compiled by Abe V Rotor

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Oh, time! You are a friend.

Abe V Rotor

Brief rest before taking a test.

Dream, yesterday was a dream!
A unicorn I rode to rainbow's end
to where a pot of gold might lie.
Oh, time! I thought you're a friend.

And to the other end I walked the trail,
To find my rainbow gone at the bend;
And I, on a crossroad I stood alone.
Oh, time! I thought you are a friend.

What road shall I take - the less trodden?
I gazed at the horizon to its end,
Rough was the way and never ending.
Oh, time! I thought you are a friend.

And here I am, half gone, long is the way;
Lo! I see again my rainbow at the end;
Tread on I must, there's no unicorn now;
Oh, time! you are indeed a friend.

Home, Sweet Home with Nature, AVRotor

Idle Moments on the Ruins

Intramuros, Manila

Could there be a better place to be idle than to be with the ruins,
remnants of the past and residues of memory?
Could there be a better time to be idle than to let the world go by,
and be neither a part of history nor posterity?
Could there be another place where the march of time slows down
and comes to a stop in the realm of eternity? ~

Living with Nature, AVR

Monday, April 18, 2011

Living with Nature at Home

Dr. Abe V. Rotor and Ms. Melly Tenorio
DZRB Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (School-on-Air)
738 AM, 8 to 9 Evening Class

Monday to Friday

Home is celebrating birthday with a pet.

Home is with children at work and play.

Here is a beautiful poem to start the lesson. If you will recall, those of you who saw the movie, The King and I, Anna the English teacher sang a part of the song. It was typical in her time when Europeans left their home to search for a new one at the other side of the globe, many of them pioneers in the New World, which was to become the United States of America. Others found the Orient, and for Teacher Anna, it was a special arrangement for her to serve the king of Siam (Thailand) as tutor to his many children.

To us Filipinos, the song stirs the heart as well. Thousands leave their native land, their homes and families in search for opportunities as OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers), and migrants, many of them never to return, except on brief visits as balikbayan.

Fortunately OFWs remit a large part of their earnings back home to their loved one, enabling them to build a house or improve the dwelling they left, supporting their children to acquire education, and to a significant extent, starting a local business for the family. Such opportunities are rare and we are fortunately for it. It is the remittances which average $1 billion dollars a month that is saving our national economy today.

Both external and internal generation of resources in the hands of the citizen is crucial to progress. To be practical about it, material progress is necessary. It is a bridge to a better standard of living. It is a tool in making a happy home and family.

This lesson explores the many ways we can create a happy home and family.

Home is playing Home, Sweet Home on a weekend with relatives and friends.

Home Sweet Home
John Howard Payne
Music by Henry Rowley Bishop (1786-1855)
(Arranged for the violin and piano by Henry Farmer)

‘Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,
Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home;
A charm from the sky seems to hallow us there,
Which seek through the world, is ne’er met with elsewhere.
Home, Home, sweet, sweet Home!

An exile from home, splendor dazzles in vain;
O, give me my lowly thatched cottage again!
The birds singingly gaily, that came to my call –
Give me them – and the peace of mind, dearer than all.
Home, Home sweet, sweet Home.
There’s no place like Home! There’s no place like Home!

Generally we all belong to a country of peaceful people, lovers of pets, united in family and faith. We are a country of overseas workers, migrants and the balikbayan. We are divided in many ways.

• Spouses
• Babies, mothers
• Father, mother
• Parents, children
• Siblings
• Uncles, aunties
• Grandparents, grandchildren
• Lovers, friends, neighbors
• Classmates, town mates
• Masters, pets

Divided we all are – and apparently increasingly evermore. Yet the spirit is never weak, it binds people through distance and time. The spirit of longing and belonging is but one.

Home is class reunion with a lechon (roasted pig).

There are 101 definitions of home we gathered from the radio program. This is a short list.

Home is -
1. roof for everyone, residents and guests. 2. wall with large windows that let the sun and the breeze in. 3. where fish in the aquarium sparkle in the morning’s sun. 4. baby smiling, of children playing. 5. faithful husband and wife.

6. “place for everything and everything in its place,” but not always.
7. dad and mom waiting for us from school. 8. workshop for hobbies and inventions. 9. where our dog lies on the doormat waiting for its master. 10.litter of puppies and kittens.

11. rooster crowing, nature’s alarm clock.
12. house lizard’s crispy announcement of a guest coming. 13. frog croaking in the rain. 14. safari of wildlife – from insects to migratory birds. 15. warm embrace of a cat.

16. cup of coffee, a sip of wine, a newspaper. 17. warm bath, a cold shower, a bath tub. 18. National Geographic, Time Magazine, Daily Inquirer. 19. ripe tomato, succulent radish, dangling stringbeans, 20.brooding mother hen in her nest.

21.fresh egg everyday. 22. sound of birds and crickets. 23. sweet smell of flowers, falling leaves, swaying branches in the wind. 24. sweet smell of the earth after the first rain in May. 25. singing cicada in the tree.

26. swarming of gamugamo in the evening. 27. sala too small for so many friends. 28. cabinet of books, a study table, a computer. 29. Beethoven, Mozart, Abelardo, Santiago. 30. Charlotte Church, Josh Groban, Sharon Cuneta.

31. Amorsolo. Picasso, Van Gogh. 32. potpourri of appetizing recipes, of the proverbial grandmother apple pie. 33. pinakbet, lechon, karekare, suman, bibingka. 34. garden of roses, a grass lawn to lie on. 35. herbarium of plants, a gene bank.

36. biodiversity, a living museum.
37. doing repair that has no end. 38. disposing old newspapers, bottles, metal scraps, used clothes. 39. midnight candle before an exam. 40. shoulder, a pillow, to cry on.

41. Noche Buena. 42. fireworks on New Year. 43. general cleaning on weekends. 44. soft bed that soothes tired nerves and muscles. 45. fire place, a hearth, which takes the cold out of the body and spirit.

46. Prodigal Son returning, Good Samaritan. 47. round table where thanksgiving prayer is said. 48. laughter and music, prose and poetry. 49. forgiving, rejoicing, celebrating. 50. angelus and rosary hour.

To sum it all, Home is Home, Sweet Home.

Exercise and Assignment: Choose from the list the items that are applicable to you. Rate each item using the Likert scale (1 very poor, 2 poor, 3 fair or average, 4 good and 5 very good). Add other items which are applicable to your situation. Add to get the total score and divide it with the number of items. Here is the guide to determine your rating.

4.6 – 5.0 Very Good
3.6 - 4.5 Good
2.6 – 3.5 Fair or average
1.6 - 2.5 Poor
1.0 - 1.5 Very poor

Home is walking the dog.

Living with Nature, AVR

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Reviving the "Handyman" or “Do-it-yourself” Culture (Test 25 items, True or False)

Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature - School on Blog

Bahay Kubo at Home

Advance Lesson: In time you will be able to build a Nipa Hut (grass hut) such as this, symbol of Philippine rich culture and fine craftsmanship.

1. Prune trees (cutting of branches) in summer when their branches are bare, and you can see which need to be cut. Use crosscut saw for smoother and even cut.

2. When cutting a large horizontal branch with saw or bolo, be sure you start on the upper side and continue on until it is severed. Never cut from underneath.

3. After cutting a branch, there is no need to paint the cut end with oil-based paint to prevent insects and pathogens.

4. When loosening the blade of electric fan, turn the knob clockwise.

5. It is important to disassemble the electric fan for thorough cleaning. Use a dry paintbrush first to remove dust and lint, and then wash blade, casing and body with warm water and soap. Oil axle and other moving parts.

6. Allow newly cemented flooring or pavement to set for a day before you open it for use.

7. In rotating tires of you car, follow the x pattern, so that the rear wheels go to the front, and the front wheel to the rear.

8. To prolong life of iron (plantsa) and ironing board, and making ironing safe and convenient make a banana leaf cushion or matting for the iron. Never scrap the bottom of the iron with knife or sandpaper.

9. For a practical Christmas tree, get a tall potted plant, and decorate it minimally. It will save you a lot of money and help reduce garbage.

10. Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact flourescent bulb to save on electricity.

11. Don't cut and kill palm trees and cycads - but offer instead their seedlings to be planted on Palm Suinday.

12. It is not recommended that cut hair gathered from beauty saloons and barbershops be made into wigs and pin cushions, because lice and certain diseases may be transmitted.

13. Egg white makes an excellent hair net (setting spray); it is rich in protein.

14. Beer is used in setting hair.

15. Lagis ng niyog with calamansi is as good if not better than most commercial hot oil. Mayonaise is an excellent hot oil substitute. Certain top stars use this.

16. Tea is good face wash (removes black and white heads), so with hugas bigas.

17. Am is a good food supplement for babies. This is obtained from rice in its final stage of cooking.

18. Dark curtains make a room look more spacious; light curtains create an opposite effect.

19. Plyboard is more durable than plywood of the same thickness.

20. Kiln-dried wood does not easily warp or shrink, that is why it is more expensive than ordinary lumber.

21. Initial charging of rechargeable batteries is necessary when using them for computers, cell phones and the like.

22. Most handy tools are designed for the right handed because there are few left handed. Left handed tools are made to order.

23. Today, it is more practical to use liquid tiles than conventional tiles; it is also more versatile and fits to suit different ambiance.

24. Today, prefabricated house parts are becoming more popular, from door and window assemblies to lattices and stone rafts. All you need is to order the prefab material and install it.

25. Reviving the handyman culture or do-it-yourself culture sets a motion of hobby, necessity, enthusiasm, creativity and opportunity to save and to earn, now appreciated worldwide. ~

Answers: False for items 1,6,12,18 & 19; the rest are true

24 – 25 outstanding
20 – 23 very good
16 – 19 good
12 – 15 pass
Below 11 listen more Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid

Peace and the Fish

Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature - School on Blog
This is our 1,868th post. Running total of pageviewers has surpassed the 100,000 mark. Welcome!

Lesson: Peace starts at home, it grows with the family - to face the test beyond - both time and space. How is peace and fish compared? Differentiated?

Fish Sanctuary, painting in acrylic, AVR

Once I was asked what really makes peace,
and I pondered on the fish;
With a paint brush, where does peace begin,
and started with the color green;

From there grow plants bubbling oxygen,
and take carbon from the fish its friend;
food to waste, waste to food in continuum,
though the mystery will ne'er be known.

Puzzling how life begins with the godly sun
in the magic of photosynthesis,
its energy transformed and shared by all
life and all its forms to exist -

sharing through cooperation, not competition,
should the world be one nation.
Again I was asked what really make peace;
this time I looked beyond the fish.

I see the family, I see the home with nature
in her care and nurture;
I see creation's niches of independence,
in each obedient dependence;

I see the institutions, man's legacy to society,
humanity and posterity;
Here peace is sown, it grows to weather the test,
though the world shall never rest. ~

Living with Nature, AV Rotor

Summer in Paintings

Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature - School on Blog

Lesson: Summer is for all ages. Summer is short, so spend it well. Make it a well deserved break from hectic schedules and stressful life.

Boat adventure, acrylic, detail of mural, AVR

Fishing on the Stream, acrylic AVR

Hiking, La Union Botanical Garden, SFLU, acrylic AVR

Summer, the outdoor season of every year;
outside of the home is cool;
we pray for rain to come, and not to come,
staying sane but sometimes fool;
children learn freedom through adventure
they do not learn in school;
the old stop the clock to be with the young,
feeling worn but living full;
together march through the seasons of life
to the destiny of the soul. ~

Living with Nature, AVR


Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature - School on Blog

Lesson: Phycology. Do you like maki? It is wrapped with the most expensive seaweed - nori, Pophyra, gamet (Ilk). It belongs to Class Rhodophyta. Its members grow in the deepest part of the coral reef where the sun is least, as compared with the green and brown seaweeds found in relatively shallow zones. Here is an article in poetry to describe this group of plant-like thalli.

Rhodophyta, acrylic painting by AVR 2000

Rhodophyta - you have the magic of
  • living at the dim of the ocean where the rays of the sun barely reach you, catching the remaining rays of blue with your red pigments - rhodophycin and xanthophyll;
  • ramifying into forked dichotmy of stems and leaves resembling those of your cousins on land, yet botanists have demoted you to a lowly kingdom - Protista;
  • living two separate lives, yet joined in one cycle that makes you whole, your chromosomes complete - sporophytic, at another only half - gametophytic;
  • sleeping in extreme seasons, aestivating in the warm tropical water, and hibernating in the cold, until you are active again;
  • hiding from hervibores from land and sea, from sudden gust and tide, finally from your greatest enemy - man the omnipotent omnivore. ~
Rhodophycin, xanthophyll - pigments of red algae and plants with red coloration. Orange has xanthophyll and carotene (yellow)
Protista -
sub-kingdom, includes one-celled organisms, neither plant nor animal
sporophytic -
phase with diploid (N2)chromosomes
gametophyte -
phase with haploid (N1) chromosomes
- dormant in extreme summer; hibernate - dormant in harsh winter
- herbivore and carnivore combined; plant and animal eaters.

Living with Nature, AVRotor

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Abe V Rotor

Mutant in acrylic by AVRotor

A frog turned monster by man's genius,
On God's Seventh Day of rest;
By design or accident, but for what purpose,
But man put to the gravest test.