Thursday, November 29, 2012

UST AB: The world in man's hand

UST AB: The world in man's hand 
Dr Abe V Rotor

Bonus Assignment in Communications Art: Interpret this verse by W Blake.  What is its significance to today's world?  To Media?  To your future career?

To see the world in a grain of sand,
      And a heaven a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
     And eternity in an hour.

- William Blake, Auguries of Innocence

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ode to the Ferocious Hantik

Dr Abe V Rotor

Green Tree Ant or hantik (Oecephalla smaragdina) nest hanging in a 
tree;  closeup and partially open nest; closeup of a worker; and army 
on the move; fatal attack on a bee, in stages.  The tidbits and pulps 
are carried up to the nest to feed the larvae and the royal family.  

You build your house up in a tree next to the sky,
     with leaves sewn together and always green,
within throbs a colony of a thousand and one  
     workers and soldiers in allegiance to a queen.  

As the day dawns, your army prepares for the trail,
     down the tree to hunt, before the sun is out, 
for food - preys and morsels, armed with mandible,
     strong as vise, sharp as razor, to tear or cut.    

On spotting a prey live, a string of soldiers descend
  stealthily like from a Trojan Horse of old days,
Then swarming over the prize hunt until it’s down,
   slaughter it to the last bit without any trace.

Nothing is left of the struggle, Sherlock Holmes
     would agree.  And new preys would come unwary,
and fall into the same modus operandi of numbers,
     and precise attack like the Legion in its glory.

Lessons man has learned from your ferocity dictate
     his wars and social order while saving dignity
through rationality he alone claims to have, but you –
     primitive and raw is your world of ferocity ~

UST-AB Assignmenmt: Agro-Ecology - A formula for Sustainability

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

DevCom 94CA5) and Research Method (3CA1 and 3CA3): What is the underlying principle of the formula agro-eco as key to sustainability? How can media propagate this concept? 
Agriculture and Ecology can be combined such as in this farming community in Iloilo.  

 “Farming is a way of living,” says the dean of farm management in the Philippines, Dean Felix D. Maramba, quoting Eugene Devenport who said that farming is not only a business, but a mode of life. “Sometimes the business is the prominent feature, so successful that life seems to run on one long sweet song. Sometimes the business runs so low that life is a bitter struggle.”
The farm and the family home is intertwined; in fact they are one. Anything that affects the farm as a business also directly affects as a home. The farm operator is the head of the household and the bulk of the farm work is done by the members of the family. The farmer is the farmer 24 hours a days, on weekdays as well as on Sundays and Holidays.

The children are brought up in close contact with nature. They develop an appreciation of the manifestations of the Creator through living things and their order. The farm boy does not have to wait until he is grown up before he can work and share family responsibilities. He is brought up early in the family business. In this way he will learn the value of industry and a sense of proprietorship early in life. The work habits and resourcefulness developed by farm children are kept throughout their lives.

This old school of Dean Maramba  may not be the model progressive farmers are looking for today, but definitely the better farmer is the entrepreneur who grew up with farming and pursued training in technology and farm management, and has gain the confidence and skills in transforming the traditional concept of a farm into an agribusiness and therefore, he has a better chance in dealing with the complexities of world of the agriculture and business. 

Make the correct decisions in farming.

Farming is no easy task. It is full of decisions - decisions based on socio-economic principles, and guided by rules of conduct and natural laws and of society. These are 10 guidelines in decision making.

1.      Surplus labor resources of typically large rural families should be directed to labor-intensive projects, such as integrated farming. 

Agro-forestry, aerial view, Iloilo.

2.      Hillside or upland agriculture requires the cultivation of permanent crops, preferably through mixed cropping, such as intercropping of coconuts with orchard trees and annual crops.
3.      Coastal and river swamplands should be preserved as wildlife sanctuaries, and should be managed as an ecosystem, rather than an agricultural venture.   
4.      Wastes can be recycled and converted into raw materials of another enterprise. Farm wastes and byproducts of processing can be processed biologically into methane, organic fertilizer, and biomass for vermiculture.
5.      Productivity of small farms can be increased through pyramidal or storey farming.  Batangas and Cavite farmers are well known for storied multiple cropping.
6.      Poor soils can be rehabilitated through natural farming, such as green manuring, crop rotation and use of organic fertilizers, all integrated in the farming system. Corn-peanut, rice-mungo are popular models of crop rotations. 
7.      Cottage industries are built on agriculture, guided by profitability and practical technology.  It is time to look at the many agro-industries, from food processing to handicrafts.
8.      Tri-commodity farming maximizes utilization of resources, such as having an orchard, planting field crops, and raising fish and livestock on one farm. .
9.      Cooperative farming is the solution to economics of scale, these to include multipurpose and marketing cooperatives of farmers and entrepreneurs.   
10.  Since the number of days devoted to farming is only one-­third of the whole year, livelihood   outside of farming should be developed. Like a sari-sari store, a small farm cannot afford to have too many hands.  Other opportunities should be tapped outside of farming by other members of the family.

Always go for natural food

The rule of thumb is that, it is always preferred to eat foods grown under natural conditions than those grown with the use of chemicals.  These are criteria to know if  a food is natural?

·It must be fresh, or freshly packed
·It must be free from pests and diseases
·There are no harmful chemicals and artificial additives, including antibiotics residues.  
·Food must not be tainted with radiation
·Natural food excludes the so-called junk food.       
·It has been processed by natural means such as blast freezing, sun drying and the like.
·Packaging materials are safe to human health, animals and the environment.
·It meets standard organoloeptic test (taste test) and nutritional value requirements.   

There are many kinds of vegetables you can choose
for backyard and homelot gardening.
There are many vegetables to choose from: leafy malungay, talbos (kalabasa, kamote, sayote), kangkong,; Stem – asparagus, bamboo shoot; flower– katuray, squash flower, cauliflower, broccoli, himbaba-o (alokong); fruit – ampalaya, squash, cucumber, green corn, sayote, tomato, eggplant, green papaya, pepper; root – Gabi, kamote, ube, tugui, ginger, onion, garlic, carrot, radish; seed – patani, sitao, white bean, black bean, cowpea, green pea, chick pea, pigeon pea, peanut, linga (sesame), paminta (black pepper)

Community gardening, San Juan, MM

Malunggay is the most popular tree vegetable in the tropic. In the province no home is without this small tree at the backyard or in a vacant lot. The leaves, flowers, juvenile pods and young fruits of Moringa oleifera (Family Moringaceae) go well with fish, meat, shrimp, mushroom, and the like. It is one plant that does not need agronomic attention, not even weeding and  fertilization, much less chemical spraying.  

You simply plant an arm's length cutting or two, in some corner or along the fence and there it grows into a tree that can give you a ready supply of vegetables yearound.  What nutrients do we get from malunggay?
Here is a comparison of the food value of the fresh leaves and young fruits, respectively, in percent. (Marañon and Hermano, Useful Plants of the Philippines)
·         Proteins                                 7.30             7.29
·         Carbohydrates                     11.04             2.61
·         Fats                                        1.10             0.16
·         Crude Fiber                            1.75            0.76
·         Phosphorus (P2 O 5)                0.24             0.19  
·         Calcium (CaO)                      0.72             0.01
·         Iron (Fe2O3)                        0.108            0.0005

Owing to these properties and other uses, rural folks regard malunggay a “miracle tree.” Take for other uses. The root has a taste somewhat like that of horse-radish, and in India it is eaten as a substitute to it. Ben oil extracted from the seed is used for salad and culinary purposes, and also as illuminant. Mature seeds have antibacterial and flocculants properties that render drinking water safe and clear. 
From these data, it is no wonder malunggay is highly recommended by doctors and nutritionists for both children and adults, particularly to nursing mothers and the convalescents.

Get the best from your favorite fruits
1.      Be keen with the appearance, smell, feel – and even sound – of the fruit before harvesting or buying it. There’s no substitute to taste test.though. Develop your skills on these fruits: mango, musk melon,  soursop or guyabano and its relative, sugar apple or atis.  Also try on  caimito, chico, siniguelas, and such rare fruit as sapote.

2.      To ripen fruits, rub table salt on the cut stem (peduncle). Salt does not only facilitate ripening, it also protects the fruit from fungi and bacteria that cause it to rot. You can use the rice box-dispenser to ripen chico, caimito, avocado, tomato, and the like. Wrap the fruits loosely with two or three layers of newspaper before placing them inside the box. As the fruits ripen they exude ethylene gas that hastens ripening. 

3.      Bigger fruits are always generally preferred. Not always.  Native chico is sweeter and more aromatic than the ponderosa chico.  Big lanzones have large seeds. Bicol or Formosa pineapple, although not juicier, is sweeter than the Hawaiian variety. Of course we always pick up the biggest mango, nangka, caimito, watermelon, cantaloupe, atis, guyabano, and the like. 
4.      There are vegetables that are eaten as fruit or prepared into juice. Examples are carrot, tomato, green corn, and sweet green pea. Asparagus juice, anyone? Try a variety of ways in serving your favorite fruits. nangka ice cream,  fruit cocktail in pineapple boat, avocado cake, guava wine. Enjoy the abundance of your favorite fruits, consult the fruit season calendar.

Engage in cottage industries, such as home made coconut virgin oil.
The price of this “miracle cure” has soared and there is now a proliferation of commercial brands of virgin coconut oil in the market.  The old folks show have been doing this for a long time. One such person is Mrs. Gloria Reyes of Candelaria (Quezon) who makes virgin coconut oil. This is the step-by-step process.
1.      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. 
2.      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. 
3.      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. 
4.      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). 
5.      Cover the jars with dry linen and keep them undisturbed for 3 to 5 hours in a dry, dark and cool corner.
6.      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.
7.      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.   

Get rid of waste by utilizing them.

Agricultural byproducts make good animal feeds, as follows:  
·         Rice straw, corn stovers and sugarcane tops, the most common crop residues in the tropics, contain high digestible nutrients, and provide 50% of the total ration of cattle and carabaos.

Compost for the garden

·         Rice bran and corn bran are the most abundant general purpose feed that provides 80 percent of nutritional needs of poultry, hogs and livestock, especially when mixed with copra meal which is richer in protein than imported wheat bran (pollard). 
·         Cane molasses is high in calorie value. Alternative supplemental feeds are   kamote vines for hogs and  pineapple pulp and leaves for cattle. 

Here is a simple feed formula for cattle: Copra meal 56.5 kg; rice bran (kiskisan or second class cono bran) 25kg; molasses 15kg; Urea (commercial fertilizer grade, 45%N) 2.0kg; salt                                                                                1.0kg; and  bone meal 0.5kg.  Weight gain of a two-year old Batangas cattle breed fed with this formulation is 0.56 kg on the average,

These are byproducts which have potential feed value: These are byproducts or wastes in the processing of oil, starch, fish, meat, fruit and vegetables. The abundance of agricultural by-products offers ready and cheap feed substitutes with these advantages.  
  • It cut down on feed costs,
  • reduces the volume on imported feed materials,
  • provides cheaper source of animal protein,
  • provides employment and livelihood, and
  • keeps the environment clean and in proper balance.
 Protect nature through environment-friendly technology.

One example is the use of rice hull ash to protects mungbeans from bean weevil. Burnt rice hull (ipa) contains silica crystals that are microscopic glass shards capable of penetrating into the conjunctiva of the bean weevil, Callosobruchus maculatus.  Once lodged, the crystal causes more damage as the insect moves and struggles, resulting in infection and desiccation, and ultimately death.

Bamboo has one-hundred-and-one uses at home and on the farm

This is the finding of Ethel Niña Catahan in her masteral thesis in biology at the University of Santo Tomas. Catahan tested two types of rice hull ash,  One is partly carbonized (black ash) and the other oven-burned (white ash).  Both were applied independently in very small amount as either mixed with the beans or as protectant placed at the mouth of the container. In both preparations and methods, mungbeans – and other beans and cereals, for that matter – can be stored for as long as six months without being destroyed by this Coleopterous insect. 

The bean weevil is a cosmopolitan insect whose grub lives inside the bean, eating the whole content and leaving only the seed cover at the end of its life cycle.  When it is about to emerge the female lays eggs for the next generation. Whole stocks of beans may be rendered unfit not only for human consumption, but for animal feeds as well.  It is because the insect leaves a characteristic odor that comes from the insect’s droppings and due to fungal growth that accompanies infestation.
  Lantana camara, pest repellant.
  It grows naturally along  borders and levees.   
 Rice is substitute, and a better one,  to wheat flour.

Of all alternative flour products to substitute wheat flour, it is rice flour that is acclaimed to be the best for the following reasons:

·     1. Rice has many indigenous uses from suman to bihon (local noodle), aside from its being a staple food of Filipinos and most Asians.
·     2. In making leavened products, rice can be compared with wheat, with today’s leavening agents and techniques.
·     3. Rice is more digestible than wheat.  Gluten in wheat is hard to digest and can cause a degenerative disease which is common to Americans and Europeans.
·     4. Rice is affordable and available everywhere, principally on the farm and in households.

Other alternative flour substitutes are those from native crops which are made into various preparations -  corn starch (maja), ube (halaya), gabi (binagol), and tugui’ (ginatan), cassava (cassava cake and sago).         
Lastly, the local rice industry is the mainstay of our agriculture.  Patronizing it is the greatest incentive to production and it saves the country of precious dollar  that would otherwise be spent on imported wheat.

Let’s aim at unifying agriculture and ecology into agro-ecology.  This is what practical farming is all about.  

Sampaguita in the garden freshens the environment and provides livelihood (leis and garlands) 


Eco-Fishery in Guimaras link to tourism in the island. Lower photo: Mangrove farming on spent fishpond, also in Guimaras 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

UST AB Research is ... with emphasis in the field of communication

Research is ... with emphasis in the field of communication
Dr Abe V Rotor
Professor, University of Santo Tomas

1.    Research is… a historical and comparative study of People, Media and Power, referring to the role of media in people’s revolution such as People’s Power at Edsa, Arab Spring in the Middle East, Occupy Wall Street in the US, and similar contemporary mass uprisings -  not to mention, their precursor of French Revolution, and our own struggle of Independence during Rizal’s time.

2.    Research is … tracing the “Theories of the Press” (Authoritarian, Libertarian, Social Responsibility, Soviet-Totalitarian, and the latest - Development Communication), how they evolved into dominant movements, and ultimately analyzing their role in shaping our society and our world.

3.    Research is … inquiring into Culture and Values, national and universal in a fast changing world as people move from rural to urban centers, cities bursting at the seams, so to speak, and modern living shifting to post modernism.

4.    Research is … looking into participatory journalism, and investigative journalism, their increasing importance as tools in carving out excesses and abuses of power on one hand, and anarchy on the other, in pursuit of  a peaceful, orderly, and progressive life.

5.    Research is … examining and evaluating the modern tools of communication, from print to multimedia, with the vast application of cyber technology and network that can reach the far ends of the earth, carrying information, entertainment, education, heretofore abreast and encompassing.

6.    Research is … looking into the flaws of media, violation of the Code of Ethics and Human Rights, and offering corrective measure and setting directions of responsibility and accountability of media practitioners.

7.    Research is … investigating the root cause of libel cases, and other media violations, legal and moral, and how these can be avoided through legislation and implementation.

8.    Research is … determines what kind of research must be given importance and priority, where developing countries such as ours should aim at applied or functional research, rather than basic research which is expensive and fundamentally - but not functionally and directly - useful.

9.    Research is … studying the effective means of distance learning or teaching through media (university without walls, e-learning) whereby students can obtain their education with affordable cost without leaving their home-base and workplace, thus enabling a country to provide mass quality education to its population.

10. Research is … determining the scope and limits of Press Freedom vis-avis Human Rights and state security, among other considerations.

11. Research is … looking into the role of media in crisis situation, on the battle front, or war zones, and under conditions where the media is placed in perilous and sensitive situation.

12. Research is … finding out the effectiveness of many learning instruments such as Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People’s School on Air); Laedza Batani (Let’s wake up!), STOU (Thailand) Open University, Kibbutz (Israel) and commune schools, outreach programs, rural immersion, barefoot doctors, school in Blog, and others.

13. Research is … finding out the complementary role of media in the implementation of the new general education under the K to 12 Program, catalyzing the program’s objectives and goals.

14. Research is … preparing the student in working for his thesis (Bachelor’s and Masteral), and dissertation (doctoral), and guiding him in the actual performance of his study.

15. Research is … critiquing Advertisements and Promotions of products and services in order to guide both producer and the public to uphold dignity and decency, and exercise prudence and responsibility in not only on the merits of products, but their educational aspects as well.

16. Research is … consolidating, interpreting and writing implementation guides of  laws and rules – international and local – governing media, these include Copyright Laws, the Constitution, Code of Ethics, and those that govern Press Councils, Journalist Associations, Press Conventions.

17. Research is …guiding students in choosing their topics based on practicability (cost, time frame, facility), especially in the research proper, which comprise the methodology, analysis and interpretation of data and findings, conclusion, and finally in drawing out recommendations regarding the findings.

18. Research is … guiding students in the publication of the results of their research in Journals, books, TV and radio broadcast, on the Internet, and in local publications for the information of the grassroots.

19. Research is … linking laboratory findings and field application, technology with enterprise, thus establishing a system whereby findings are brought to people’s use, and therefore contributory to growth and development.

20. Research is … never static, exclusive, and academy-centered; neither a  monopoly of a few, and that as the prime mover of invention and discovery, it must address itself to the needs of a a progressive, sustainable society.

About Sampaguita and Kangkong

Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM 8 to 9 Evening Class Monday to Friday
      It was a long walk and the hikers knew they were getting near their destination, a flower farm in San Luis, Pampanga in Central Luzon, Philippines. The air was filled with the singular fragrance of an immaculate white flower, the sampaguita. This flower is the pride of the Filipinos, it being their national flower. Its scientific name is Jasminium sambac.
      The source of the fragrance sprawled before the hikers – a track garden very much like a hillside tea farm in China or in Sri Lanka.  Sampaguita and tea have a common growth pattern.  They are bushy shrubs, trimmed waist to form a continuous hedge that makes harvesting easier. It also reminds one of vineyards in Europe and California where grapes grow following the contour of the land.

Sampaguita Farming

      Each garden is the size of a typical rice paddy, a tenth of a hectare (or one mu in China).  This is equivalent to 1,000 square meters or one-tenth of a hectare.  Small as it may when compared with other farms, sampaguita is a high value crop. It requires initial high investment and takes around two years to become commercially productive.  Production technology is rather new and the industry - from farming to garland making - is labor intensive.  But the profit derived may be several times over that of an ordinary field crop. For a size of one to two mus, a family can comfortably live on the farm’s produce, and this is appropriate for small landholdings with fairly large families. The farm which the group of hikers visited (one of whom is the author) is just ideal for one family to manage.

      “Sampaguita must be a profitable business,” we asked.  The lady gardener smiled and looked down in a gesture of humility while doing some mental computation. The lady is an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW)-turned-entrepreneur.  She is Brigida S. Batac, a former school teacher who went to Saudi, then returned some years later. Today she heads the family farm.

      Sampaguita is sold by the tabo (the size of motor oil can) of about P50.00 (US$1.00) per tabo. The harvest from the Batac farm ranges from 50 to 100 tabos a day.  This means the value of a day’s harvest is from P2,500.00 (US$50.00) to P5,000.00 (US$100.00).  Assuming that harvesting is done daily, the monthly gross sale is from P75,000.00 (US$1,500.00) to P150,000.00 (US$3,000.00).  When made into garlands, the value of the flower is doubled. A tabo contains a hundred garlands, with four flowers each.  And a garland sells at P1.00 (US$0.02) apiece.

     Net profits, after deducting the cost production, is 50 percent of each gross sale.  One can do one’s own pencil pushing to come up with the amount each family can earn.

Sampaguita Garlands

      The garland making area is the family porch of this Batac home. Brigida’s sister, Cristina, 27, demonstrated the technique of garland making. As the farming business proceeds manufacturing, the value of the product is increased, hence the term, value added

      One can picture the case of the rice farmer and the trader.  The latter undertakes the post-production work of drying, milling, storing and transporting. By doing so, he virtually takes the profit away after the farmer had sold his palay at a relatively low price.

      The lesson to be learned is that production, processing and marketing must be integrated in one roof, with a farmer, and members of his family having control over these aspects of business. Subsequently, the business becomes more self-reliant and viable.

Marketing Scheme

      The main markets of sampaguita garlands are Solis in Quiapo in Manila, Balintawak Monumento, and Malolos, Bulacan.  These centers, like Divisoria, serve as bagsakan (unloading and wholesale zone).  From here, the sampaguita garlands are retailed in sidewalks, around churches and restaurants where parties are usually held.  It is the sampaguita a little girl offers, gently tapping your car’s window after stepping on the brake at some busy intersection in the city.  It is the sampaguita we wear on graduation day, when we speak on stage, and which we offer to the Santo Niño. It is the sampaguita we simply hang in our sala (living room) or bedroom. Its sight and fragrance exudes a feeling of freshness and peace.

      Many will agree with the author that the sampaguita has made lasting impressions in our lives.  One of these moments is recorded in this verse he wrote sometime ago.
“A trophy, that I would rather miss;
for a sampaguita from a Miss
 who gives it to me with a kiss.”

      The sampaguita flowers are shy under the noonday sun but the scenario is a respite as if we were among the blooming hedges of some Italian- or French-type garden.

      Other members of the group from Manila tried their hands in stringing some sampaguita buds, forming the familiar leis and garlands.  It is not an easy job.  It takes a lot of skill, and speed to keep up with the freshness and aroma of the flowers, thus meeting the market schedules. Both sisters, Brigida and Cristina, were patient teachers, and soon enough the group began to form a production line of sorts, a prototype of the assembly line for mass production.
Tapping the Potentials of an Enterprise
      With the bright prospects of expanding the industry, we sat down with the family and talked about some aspects of the business. This is what we found out which may be useful to those wanting to develop a sampaguita plantation:

1.     There is an economic farm size for every crop in a farm. A feasibility study is needed. Consult those who have larger farms.

2.     Production technology must be improved to attain higher, and more uniform production volumes, while cutting down costs.  Work towards sustainable productivity.

3.     Integrate the flower planting business with pendant flower production such as champaca (Michella alba), ilang-ilang (Cananga odorata), and camia, some of the pendant flowers in demand.

4.     Introduce cut flower production for roses, gladiolus, daisies and even orchids for diversification.  Planners call this horizontal integration. Blossoms of Heliconia (lobster’s claw or bird of paradise) have recently become popular as a flower arrangement. From the results of pilot testing, select those flowers which are adaptable and profitable.

5.     Eliminate the use of dangerous chemical pesticides.  Replace them with botanical pest exterminators such as pyrethrum and rotenone  which are biodegradable. Greenhouse cultivation is too sophisticated and expensive for the average farm. But there are makeshift plastic greenhouses using Japanese and Chinese models. Chlorinated hydrocarbon and phosphatic compounds, chemical pesticides which act as systemic poisons, are hazardous to the gardener and the seller alike, through poison inhalation and skin contact.

6.     There is need to expand research into the many uses of sampaguita. There are a number of medicinal uses of sampaguita. In Malaysia, women soak the flowers in water for washing their faces. In China the flowers are used to give added aroma to tea.  The flowers are applied as poultice, or medicated mass, covering to the breasts of women to reduce their secretion of milk. A paste compounded with the roots of Acacia is applied to relieve headache. The leaves are used as poultice and spread over sores or other lesions.

7.     The production of sampaguita for perfumes, car fresheners or room deodorizers is another challenge for cottage industrialists.

Kangkong Farming

      From the garden of fragrance, sampaguita, the group of hikers walked over to another garden of vegetables, kangkong. No sinigang is ever cooked without this vegetable.  Kangkong is the most popular vegetable in the Philippines.  It is often dubbed the gulay ng masa (people’s vegetable), because of its cheapness, and availability everywhere and anytime of the year. Kangkong, or swamp cabbage, is scientifically known as Ipomea aquatica. It is in Barangay San Jose in San Luis, Pampanga, where a group of visitors, including this writer, were invited to observe how kangkong was cultivated like most farm-produced crops are.  

      Mang Ben Miranda took us to the edge of a stream, where he rowed a flat-bottomed boat to a kangkong pen. He then showed us how the shoots grow outward from the  “floating gardens” like the way the Aztecs grow vegetables on Texcoco Lake in Mexico, or the way Burmese farm vegetables on mud mounds where the farmer rows a dugout canoe to attend to his plants.  Another version of this unique agriculture is Sorjan farming in Pakistan and India, characterized by intervals of plots and canals.

      The thick mass of kangkong, two to three meters across, is tied to bamboo poles to steady it against stream flow, while keeping the floating vines intact. While on the boat, the harvester picks the shoots, foot long in length, which he later bundles into a thickness the size of a thigh.  This is later repacked at the market into five to six shoots per bundle, and sold for P5.00 (US$0.10) each.

      The key to productivity of kangkong is to grow it in fresh, unpolluted waters or streams.  Contrary to general belief, kangkong is not just a wild plant growing in canals and swamps.  There are several varieties of kangkong and the commercial ones are cultivated the same way as other field crops are raised.  The upland variety is short and lean, and is preferred for adobong kangkong, fried kangkong, or simply blanched for table salad (with tomatoes, onions and a dash of salt). 
Food and Mineral Value of Kangkong
      What are the mineral food content of kangkong? According to Maranon in the Philippine Journal of Science, young shoots of this plant, are rich in Phosphorus, Calcium, and Iron. The significant food value consists mainly of 3.64 percent carbohydrates, and 4.25 percent protein. Crude fiber however, cannot sufficiently supply our body’s fiber requirement since it is less than one percent in content.

      One objection to eating kangkong is the danger it may carry toxic metals.  An experiment conducted by Myrna Ramos at the University of Santo Tomas showed that lead can be absorbed by the plant and deposited in its stems and leaves. There is suspicion that mercury, a more toxic metal, can also be absorbed by the plant and passed on to humans.

     But seeing how carefully kangkong is farmed at San Jose using unpolluted waters, allayed our fears. The rule of thumb for kangkong is, we should know the source of the vegetable.

Enterprise and Cooperative

      The profitability of an enterprise for a family is one thing, but the collective success of a community of families is another.

      While it is true that there are individually successful entrepreneurs, it is essential that this success be duplicated. Hence, there is need to organize small enterprises such as a cooperative to enable them to compete in the market. Economies of scale dictates that big and organized enterprises survive where unorganized and small businesses do not. And this is the reason why multinational businesses dominate the markets, forcing small ones to fold up. The idea of organizing a cooperative was brought to the attention of the barangay council of San Jose led by Reynaldo de Jesus.

      “We had a multipurpose Cooperative before,” the chairman confessed, “but it did not succeed.”  Since then no one thought of reviving it or putting up another.  We suggested that they get assistance from the Cooperative Development Authority. It was pointed out new thrusts in cooperatives development are supported both government and private sectors. Cited were successful ones locally and abroad, such as the multipurpose cooperative of Nagpandayan, Guimba, Nueva Ecija. This cooperative was able to generate an asset base of more than P100 million (US$ 2 million) in ten years of continuous operation. Its membership grew from 30 to 300 during the same period.

      Tagudin Credit Cooperative in Ilocos Sur is another success story. The same is true for Lucban Cooperative in Bay, Laguna.  Just to illustrate the size of a cooperative, compared to a corporation; Swiss Air, one of the largest airlines in the world, is a cooperative.
Small is Beautiful
      We have no biases against big business.  But we have learned from experience how difficult it is to manage a big one.  As gleamed from Schumacher’s book, “Small is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered,” he pointed out that progress has a limit, and that bigness alone is not a guarantee of dominance and stability. We know about stories of how giant corporations met their doom. The latest is the US-based giant corporation, ENRON, which toppled like a domino. Small enterprises on the other hand, are more resilient in weathering socio-economic storms, which explains the book’s title. This award-winning book won the author the title, “Hero for the Planet Earth,” given by Time Magazine. Small farm businesses tend to be more environment friendly, if they are conscious of wanting to be sustained in their surroundings.

 Manila Market and the Concept of a Greenbelt
      Also pointed out was the advantage of being near a big market.  With Metro Manila’s population of more than eight million people, neighboring provinces, which include Pampanga are lucky, indeed.  They form a “green belt” of the metropolis. The zones, CAMANAVA (Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, and Valenzuela) and CALABAR (Cavite, Laguna. Batangas, and Rizal) are based on the concept of providing a peripheral source of goods and services for the densely populated metropolis.  The stimulus of a good market enhances the profitability of trade and commerce.

      The last thought that came was to hope that the success of these model enterprises could be translated into better health and nutrition, for all the people. After all, what justifications can a state give for having a good GNP (Gross National Product) but poor HDI (Human Development Index)?


      The Gross National Product can be raised to as much 10 percent, a very high estimate for the Philippines.  (Our projection is only three percent this year, compared to Vietnam’s seven percent.)  But what equally matters is that increasing or having a desirable GNP should be accompanied by just as desirable a Human Development Index. 

      HDI is measured in terms of education, health, employment, and literacy of the people, including mortality, morbidity and malnutrition of infants and children. Therefore, if the aggregate rates of return for services and manufacturing and agriculture are high, how come there are so many poor people in the Philippines?

      Having said goodbye to Brigida and Mang Ben, the sampaguita and kangkong entrepreneurs, we wished for them that their efforts serve as a catalyst for the development of their community. We hoped that they continue to combine both good GNP and HDI in that barangay, a microcosm of a nation.

      On our way back to Manila, the author’s thoughts traced back the potential flow of goods and services coming from the barangay to the enormous Manila market. Barangay San Jose, so with many similar villages in the provinces nearby, are indeed living on a gold mine, one that is waiting to be tapped. ~