Monday, April 30, 2012

Sunken Pier

Three views of the Sunken Pier in Puerto, Sto. Domingo, Ilocos Sur
Built by the Americans before WW II, it was one of the biggest piers in Asia.  
However, it was heavily damaged by the elements of nature and was never put to use.  What remain today are the remnants of its massive walls and a detached bulk of its terminal.

Abe V Rotor

No, it was not the big gun
that brought you down;
it was old Lamarckian
who brought in the clown.

When not in use, a thing 
degenerates into nothing; 
once a rudiment, 
it is a useless instrument.

The limb of a reptile,
the coccyx of the tail,
Intramuros or Great Wall
are no use at all.

Idleness and uselessness
are a duo in the art of waste;
great indeed is loss in disuse, 
the grey matter's no excuse. ~

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Fisherman's Delight

Abe V Rotor

I envy you my good friend, yours is freedom,
And there's no urgency even in the twilight;
I envy you like Hemingway's old fisherman,
Though his prize catch had never been known;
For I haven't caught a big one or known freedom. ~

Home. Sweet Home with Nature, AVR

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sweet Memories of Childhood with Nature

Paintings and Verses by Abe V Rotor


How many falls do you tumble all the time?
And songs you sing in rhythm and rhyme?
Oh, you are simply filled with awe and joy.
And I, I wish I were forever a boy -

I ride on your crest, plunge into your floor,
Inside your womb I’m a child once more,
Together we flow, and I’m weaned out to sea
To tell the world of a beautiful story. ~  

Brick Hut 

Small is my home but wide is its lawn;
Its walls solid, its tiles of the earth;
Its windows open to the yard and path
That leads all feet to the hearth.

Vines and herbs they grow wild and free,
They cool my head, they hide the crack,
And the trees call the birds to build their nest,
They shield the sun and the cold gray rock.

Small is my home but wide is its lawn,
Where quaintness reigns and fresh is the air,
Fence there is none, with neither road nor gate;
This patch of Eden, my little lair.

 Bare Trees

Detail of mural (5ft x 12 ft) by AVR 2010
In my dreams I saw a forest fire,
black, red and blue, amber and ash
all that was left by a tragedy,
by lightning or man’s folly.

The sky mourned as clouds came by,
dowsing the old warrior's wound,
and the kin dressed in autumn mood,
to tell a story untold.
Days passed, the memory fades away;
the seed breaks the ground,
rises into a canopy of forest.
It’s time for all to rest. ~

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Environment and Agriculture: People's Green Revolution in the seventies saved us from Food Crisis

Abe V Rotor and Melly C Tenorio
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid
738 KHz DZRB AM Band, 8-9 evening classMonday to Friday
Gardening in homes, schools, and communities saved the country from food crisis during the El Niño in the early seventies, the worst in recorded history of this cyclical global drought. Green Revolution pioneers, Dr Anselmo S Cabigan and author (left) inspect a school project in Metro Manila - trellised ampalaya. The Philippines attained self-sufficiency in food, and even became a net exporter of rice for nearly a decade.

These gardening models have been developed from studies and observations of successful projects locally and abroad. They serve as guide to participants and listeners of Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (School-on-Air) to help them in their projects, particularly in times of food scarcity, such as the present situation caused by the El Niño phenomenon.

But even during normal times, these models are useful to gardening enthusiasts, especially children and senior citizens who find this hobby highly rewarding to health and leisure, and as a source of livelihood, notwithstanding. Those who are participating in projects in food production and environmental beautification, such as the Clean and Green Movement, and Green Revolution projects, will find these models similarly valuable.

One however, can modify them according to the peculiarity of his place, and in fact, he can combine those models that are compatible so as to develop and integrate them into a larger and more diversified plan.

One who is familiar with the popular Filipino composition Bahay Kubo, can readily identify the plants mentioned therein with those that are cited in these models. And in his mind would appear an imagery of the scenario in which he can fit these models accordingly.

Here is a plan of a Homesite - an ideal integrated garden around a home in a rural setting. Compare this with Bahay Kubo. Update it. Innovate it according to your concept, situation and needs. Allow innovations as long as these do not lose the essence of the plan. You can even expand the area, adding more features to it. In effect, this Homesite model becomes a model farm, a Homestead - one that has economic and ecological attributes that characterize the concept of sustainable productivity cum aesthetics and educational values.

I invite all followers and readers of this Blog to adopt these models in their own capacities wherever they reside - in the rural or urban area - and whenever they find them feasible, and thus join the movement which PBH has been carrying on in the last twenty years or so.

It is for this nationwide campaign that PBH has earned, among other programs, the Oscar Florendo Award for Developmental Journalism, indeed a tribute to all those who have participated, and are going to participate, in the pursuit of the noble objectives of this campaign.

Keep track with the development of this project, learn more about its practical methods and techniques, and participate in the open forum of the radio program. Most important of all, share with the millions of listeners your experience with your project on how you made it a successful and rewarding one. Which therefore, makes you a resource participant to Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid. Tune in to Radyo ng Bayan DZRB 738 KHz AM Band, 8 to 9 o'clock in the evening from Monday to Friday, with Melly Tenorio and Ka Abe Rotor.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

"Lamangan" - taking advantage unfairly

Abe V Rotor and Melly Tenorio
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid
DZRB 738 KHz AM, 8-9 evening class Mon - Fri

Wa-is, coming from the word wise, is the local parlance to describe a person who puts one over his fellowmen. It is taking advantage of others of their situation, ignorance or weaknesses (lamangan). Here are common cases.

• It is the culled piglets (bansot) that are made into lechon. The robust ones are grown for meat.

• Broken and inferior peanut is ground into peanut butter. It is high in aflatoxin. Healthy nuts are sold whole peanut.

• Coffee is adulterated with ipil-ipil (Leucaena glauca) seeds. The seeds contain mimosin that retards growth and causes baldness.

• Papaya seeds are mixed with black pepper. They look similar.

• Inferior quality fruits such as strawberry, orange and mango are made into jam and puree.

• Ordinary milkfish (bangus) is passed on as prized Bonoan bangus from Dagupan. The lower half of the tail of Bonoan bangos is shorter than the other.

• Unscrupulous traders add water and salt to bagoong and patis to increase volume. If patis settles at the bottom or forms a layer other than the top, it means that the product is raw - it has not undergone the needed aging.

• Premium grade fruits are arranged on top of kaing (basket); inside are of inferior grade.

• Ordinary rice is mixed with premium rice, and passed on to buyers as premium grade.

• Cabbage grown on the lowlands of Ilocos is brought up to Baguio and passed on as Baguio cabbage which commands a higher price.

• Before a large animal like cow is sold to the auction market it is first bathed with patis to make its body to swell and appear fat. This is a malpractice observed in Padre Garcia, Batangas, the biggest animal auction market in the Philippines.

• Tomatoes are forced to ripe when price is high, This is done by uprooting the whole plant laden with fruits and hang it upside down until all the fruits, including the immature ones, appear to be ripe by their color.

. Bocha or "double dead" meat is made into longganisa and tocino.

. Fish, usually unsold at the end of the day, and has lost its freshness for the dining table, is made into bagoong and patis. As a rule quality depends on the freshness of the raw materials.

. Tahong (green mussels) and talaba (oysters) are the principal carriers of the Red Tide poison, known as Paralylic Shellfish Poison or PSP. Government through DOH issues warning to the public, and prohibits the marketing of these marine products. Violations are not uncommon. Unscrupulous traders sell contaminated products outside of the prohibited zone. Processing into sauce and other products does not destroy the poison.

It is by being aware of these, and other malpractices, that we protect ourselves from becoming unwary victims. ~

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Goodbye, St Paul Chapel, Goodbye. You remain in my heart a heritage forever.

Abe V Rotor

This pre-war St Paul Chapel QC of Greco-Roman design was rebuilt from ruins after World War II. It occupied the whole second floor of the north wing of the original building complex. In the late nineties, the chapel and the building it occupied were totally demolished, and replaced with a theater of contemporary design.

No trace of the chapel or the building itself is left for pilgrimage, specially to those who know it as a special place of prayer - seat of ordination, retreat, first communion, wake and obituary, baptism - above all, home of the early Paulinian sisters, their formation house.

Sad but historically significant to remember is the fact that the chapel served as bastion of hope and determination when all around during the war were mass incarceration and execution, torture, interrogation, and evacuation. The campus remained the rest of the Japanese occupation as a concentration camp, in the like of Hitler's concentration camps in Europe at that time.

Came the final assault in 1945 when the Allied Forces forced the Japanese to surrender. It was nightmare on the campus, in fact the whole Manila with more than 100,000 killed. Soon the whole country liberated. Surrender Japan did only when two atomic bombs were dropped by the US on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killing hundreds of thousands, mostly innocent civilians.

Peace was restored but the world was never truly at peace since then, for man has demonstrated his capability not only to kill his enemy, but to erase his own race on earth. It is in this era I first entered this chapel to pray. On this holy ground I walked and taught young Paulinians for fifteen years. ~

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Folk Story: Myth of the White Carabao

A Folk Story: Myth of the White Carabao

Albino carabao (Bubalus bubalis), Zoobic, Subic Bay Freeport

Abe V Rotor

This is a true story, and how Melecio angered his teacher on his first day in school.

“What is the color of the carabao?”

“White, Ma’am,” promptly came an answer at the back of the classroom.

There stood a small fellow, steely and kayumanggi, typical of a barrio lad. He was in full attention, anticipating a favorable reaction. But his classmates laughed instead. Others suppressed giggling.

“What?” exclaimed the bewildered teacher. “I repeat, what is the color of the carabao?” emphasizing the question, then stealthily eyed at the belligerent kid.

“White, Ma’am,” came a louder answer. The class went into an uproar, but Melecio was not at all daunted, unnerved.

“Go home and plant kamote. And don’t come back until you ‘produce’ your father.”

Can you imagine if you were Melecio?

Since that incident Melecio did not like to go back to school.

Days passed. Melecio would rather join the harvesters in the field, the farmhand that he had always been since he learned to use the rakem, a hand held harvester. He would talk to his carabao, and even imitated his teacher.

“What is the color of the carabao?” This beast of burden simply continued chewing its cud, burping.

Tama!” Melecio looked up. “Mabuti ka pa.

When Melecio’s father learned that his son was not attending school, he confronted his son. You can imagine if you were in a situation between an angry father on one side and an angry teacher, on the other - and you are barely seven.

That evening Melecio told the whole story, and found comfort on his father’s broad shoulder and in the warmth of his mother’s embrace. Trinity smiled on them for the first time as far as he remembered.

Monday came. Father and son went to school to see Mrs. Paning Rosario, the teacher. Mrs. Rosario promptly accompanied them to the principal.

Apologetically the elder Melecio explained to the principal and the teacher about the white carabao - his son’s pet, an albino. It is all white, and the tips of its horns and hooves, are transparent like glass. The retina of the eyes which is supposed to be black is not. A gray spot on the head, gave the carabao’s name, Labang.

Scientists call animals that lack pigments albino, a genetic characteristic among animals like the carabao, rhino, and elephant. In fact this condition also affects human. I had a classmate in the elementary we nicknamed, White. He also had an albino sister, although both their parents are typical Filipinos. Albino humans are often mistaken to belong to the Caucasoid or white race, sometimes igniting debates on their parentage.

“Nature commits mistake, too.” That’s how my genetics professor Dr. Ruben Umaly puts it. The genes that govern dark skin pigment (melanin) are dominant.
Nature sees to it that they are regularly transcended in the gametes of the parents. But there are instances that these dominant genes fail to transcend from any of the parents so that it is the recessive albino gene that is expressed in the offspring, thus resulting to a pigmentless condition.

This renders the individual susceptible to the deleterious effects of heat and radiation. In fact, an albino has difficulty seeing under bright light because the retina also lacks pigment that serves as natural shade. Darwinian law of natural selection can explain the rarity of albinos in the animal world. Albinos have little chance to survive and reach maturity, which is nature’s way of correcting her own mistake.

It is only through man’s intervention that albinos are given a chance to survive, giving them a place in his beliefs and culture. In fact, albino elephants are revered in India and Thailand. In Greek mythology, King Minos was given a white bull by the gods, and for not following the gods’ wishes to have the beast sacrificed, he was punished by having a son half-man and half-bull, called the Minotaur.

A figure of speech was developed from the term, white elephant. For example, a grandiose infrastructure that has not been put to use as planned is metaphorically called white elephant.

“Have you seen a white carabao, ma’am?” “Sir?”...... “Ma’am?” “Sir?”

There was complete silence.~


Abe V. Rotor

San Vicente, Ilocos Sur

The fields are empty now,the harvesters are gone,
The birds settle in their roost as the sun goes down.
The church steeple glows in the coming night,
As the North wind blows in the dying light.
The haystacks in the breeze hiss and whisper;
The trees stand still in silence and prayer.

x x x

A World of Insects

Abe V Rotor
If animations imitate all the insects
in their looks, antiques and sound;
we shall have encountered the creatures
we dreamed of from Mars and beyond.
Field cricket (Acheta bimaculata)
Daddy-long-legs or crane fly (Tipula). It has the unique
habit of continuously shaking, either to decoy its prey
or keep it virtually invisible to its predator, hence also
called quake fly (gingined which means earthquake in Iloko)
Preying mantis (Mantis religiosa) is notoriously
infamous as the executioner of the insect world,
sparing not even its own kind. But that's not all.
The female gnaws the head of her mate during the
act to enhance sperm release, then she proceeds
eating the whole carcass for needed nutrition.
Last instar nymph of a brown walking stick
Walking stick insects in a cluster, Museum of Natural History, UPLB
Green walking stick, UPLB
A pair of brown walking sticks, UPLB
A rare walking stick, UPLB
Walking sticks in a cage, UPLB. Many species of stick
insects remain undiscovered and unnamed because
of their wide morphological diversity.
Brown stink bug (Nezara), garden at home

Antlion (Neuroptera), adult and larva; funnel-shape
trap pits of the antlion larvae (ukoy ukoy Ilk)

Tussock moth and caterpillar (higad); leaf skeleton of
samat (Macaranga tenarius) left behind by the caterpillar
A pair of harlequin bug, Order Hemiptera
Green tree ants (Oecephala smaragdina) attack insects
very much larger their size.