Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Harmony of Nature and Human Music

Abe V Rotor


Identify the sounds of nature in this painting, translate them into notes. Arrange the notes into melody, and expand it into a composition.Try with an instrument - guitar, piano, violin, flute. This is your composition.Mural detail, Nature: Rivulets and Streams, AVR 2011

E
thnic music makes a wholesome life; it is therapy.


Have you ever noticed village folks singing or humming as they attend to their chores? They have songs when rowing the boat, songs when planting or harvesting, songs of praise at sunrise, songs while walking up and down the trail, etc. Seldom is there an activity without music. To them the sounds of nature make a wholesome music.

According to researcher Leonora Nacorda Collantes, of the UST graduate school, music influences the limbic system, called the “seat of emotions” and causes emotional response and mood change. Musical rhythms synchronize body rhythms, mediate within the sphere of the autonomous nervous and endocrine systems, and change the heart and respiratory rate. Music reduces anxiety and pain, induces relaxation, thus promoting the overall sense of well being of the individual.

Music is closely associated with everyday life among village folks more than it is to us living in the city. The natives find content and relaxation beside a waterfall, on the riverbank, under the trees, in fact there is to them music in silence under the stars, on the meadow, at sunset, at dawn. Breeze, crickets, running water, make a repetitious melody that induces sleep. Humming indicates that one likes his or her work, and can go on for hours without getting tired at it. Boat songs make rowing synchronized. Planting songs make the deities of the field happy, so they believe; and songs at harvest are thanksgiving. Indeed the natives are a happy lot.

Farm animals respond favorably to music, so with plants.

In a holding pen in Lipa, Batangas, where newly arrived heifers from Australia were kept, the head rancher related to his guests the role of music in calming the animals. “We have to acclimatize them first before dispersing them to the pasture and feedlot.” He pointed at the sound system playing melodious music. In the duration of touring the place I was able to pick up the music of Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven and Bach. It is like being in a high rise office in Makati where pipe in music is played to add to pleasant ambiance of working. Scientists believe that the effect of music on humans has some similarity with that of animals, and most probably to plants.

Which brings us to the observation of a winemaker in Vienna. A certain Carlo Cagnozzi has been piping Mozart music to his grapevines for the last five years. He claims that playing round the clock to his grapes has a dramatic effect. “The grapes ripen faster,” he said, adding that it also keeps away parasites, fruit bats and birds. Scientists are now studying this claim to enlarge the limited knowledge on the physiological and psychological effects of music on plants and animals.

Once I asked a poultry raiser in Teresa, Rizal, who also believes in music therapy. “The birds grow faster and produce more eggs,” he said. “In fact music has stopped cannibalism.” I got the same positive response from cattle raisers where the animals are tied to their quarters until they are ready for market. “They just doze off, even when they are munching,” he said, adding that tension and unnecessary movement drain the animals wasting feeds that would increase the rate of daily weight gain. In a report from one of the educational TV programs, loud metallic noise stimulates termites to eat faster, and therefore create more havoc.

There is one warning posed by the proponents of music therapy. Rough and blaring music agitates the adrenalin in the same way rock music could bring down the house.

The enchantment of ethnic music is different from that of contemporary music.

Each kind of music has its own quality, but music being a universal language, definitely has commonalities. For example, the indigenous lullaby, quite often an impromptu, has a basic pattern with that of Brahms’s Lullaby and Lucio San Pedro’s Ugoy ng Duyan (Sweet Sound of the Cradle). The range of notes, beat, tone, expression - the naturalness of a mother half-singing, half-talking to her baby, all these create a wholesome effect that binds maternal relationship, brings peace and comfort, care and love.

Serenades from different parts the world have a common touch. Compare Tosselli’sSerenade with that of our Antonio Molina’s Hating Gabi (Midnight) and you will find similarities in pattern and structure, exuding the effect that enhances the mood of lovers. This quality is more appreciated in listening to the Kundiman (Kung Hindi Man, which means, If It Can’t Be). Kundiman is a trademark of classical Filipino composers, the greatest of them, Nicanor Abelardo. His famous compositions are

· Bituin Marikit (Beautiful Star)
· Nasaan Ka Irog (Where are You My Love)
· Mutya ng Pasig (Muse of the River Pasig)
· Pakiusap (I beg to Say)

War drums on the other hand, build passion, heighten courage, and prepare the mind and body to face the challenge. It is said that Napoleon Bonaparte taught only the drumbeat of forward, and never that of retreat, to the legendary Drummer Boy. As a consequence, we know what happened to the drummer boy. Pathetic though it may be, it's one of the favorite songs of Christmas.

Classical music is patterned after natural music.

The greatest composers are nature lovers – Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, and our own Abelardo, Molina, Santiago, and San Pedro. Beethoven, the greatest naturalist among the world’s composers was always passionately fond of nature, spending many long holidays in the country. Always with a notebook in his pocket, he scribbled down ideas, melodies or anything he observed. It was this love of the countryside that inspired him to write his famous Pastoral Symphony. If you listen to it carefully, you can hear the singing of birds, a tumbling waterfall and gamboling lambs. Even if you are casually listening you cannot miss the magnificent thunderstorm when it comes in the fourth movement.

Lately the medical world took notice of Mozart music and found out that the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart music can enhance brain power. In a test conducted, a student who listened to the Sonata in D major for Two Pianos performed better in spatial reason. Mozart music was also found to reduce the frequency of seizure among coma patients, improved the interaction of autistic children, and is a great help to people who are suffering of Alzheimer’s disease. The proponents of Mozart’s music call this therapeutic powerMozart Effect.

What really is this special effect? A closer look at it shows similar therapeutic effect with many sounds like the noise of the surf breaking on the shore, rustling of leaves in the breeze, syncopated movement of a pendulum, cantabile of hammock, and even in the silence of a cumulus cloud building in the sky. It is the same way Mozart repeated his melodies, turning upside down and inside out which the brain loves such a pattern, often repeated regularly. about the same length of time as brain-wave patterns and those that govern regular bodily functions such as breathing and walking. It is this frequency of patterns in Mozart music that moderates irregular patterns of epilepsy patients, tension-building hormones, and unpleasant thoughts.

No one tires with the rhythm of nature – the tides, waves, flowing rivulets, gusts of wind, bird songs, the fiddling of crickets, and the shrill of cicada. In the recesses of a happy mind, one could hear the earth waking up in spring, laughing in summer, yawning in autumn and snoring in winter – and waking up again the next year, and so on, ad infinitum. ~


And, of course the Caruso in the animal kingdom - the frog. Here a pair of green pond frogs, attracted by their songs which are actually mating calls, will soon settle down in silent mating that last for hours.

Who cares about the broken bridge across the river this summer?

Painting and Verse by Dr. A.V. Rotor

Who cares about the broken bridge over the river in summer?
When the fishing pole bends to the weight of its catch,
When laughter on both side of the bridge is shared by all,
By the houses on one side, the cliff and woods on the other,
And the river flows, flows forever in the idleness of time.

Those who live in these houses have little reference of time.
Morning comes late, evening is early, and the night is long,
The houses have but one eye and ear as they huddle for stories
And news, for there is no fence and the doors are open,
Reminiscent of time past, of a culture lost, of the ancient gene.

Let any catch be his or hers, whether on this part of the broken
Bridge or the other, upstream or at its basin – it is his honor.
A pat on the shoulder is the trophy, a crowning glory to the victor.
While the catch is cooked in a common pot, now it is food for all;
Who cares about the broken bridge across the river in summer?

x x x

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Part 1: Sunrise - Memories of Childhood

Sunrise - Memories of Childhood
Abe V Rotor


Harvestime, AVR

"A thing of beauty is a boy forever, " acrylic AVR 2010

Farm Life mural by AVR circa 1994

I remember the Japanese


It was in the last year of the Japanese occupation that memories of World War II became vivid to me. In desperation the enemy killed anyone at sight in exchange for its apparent defeat. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were soon to be erased virtually from the map. I was then four years old. According to psychologists, at this age impressions become lasting memory.

Vigilance was the game. Far ahead of time one should be able to detect the enemy. Fear gripped the neighborhood and the whole town. We hid in a dugout shelter made of solid narra slabs several meters away from our house. Trees and banana plants hid it from view. At one time, I wanted to get fresh air, but my yaya, Basang prevented me to do so. Japanese soldiers were around the place. I heard them chase our geese and chicken. Then I heard my favorite goose, Purao, pleading - then it fell silent. Instinctively I rushed out of our hideout, but Basang pulled me back just on time.

Before this incident Japanese soldiers entered and ransacked our house. Two confronted Basang who was then wearing thick shawl and holding me tight in her arms. In trembling voice, she was saying repeatedly, “Malaria, malaria,” and begging the soldiers to take anything and leave us. One took all our eggs and started eating them raw, pitching the shell at us. One hit me straight on the face and I squirmed. Basang apologized. The soldier shouted. Then the other came back with a stuffed pillow case and signaled the other to leave, but before leaving he gave me a hard look.

It is a face I still see today, cold as steel, lips pursed into a threat, brows drawn down like curtain over flashy eyes. How I reacted on the wicked face, I don't remember. I must have just stared coldly. But deep in me grew a resolved never to be afraid of the Japanese or an aggressor for that matter.

Watching war planes in dogfight.

It was the last year of WWII, 1945. I was going four at that time and the images of planes fighting are still vivid today. Toward the east is the Cordillera range that looked blue in the distance. The view was clear from our house, and hideout. Even if the old San Vicente church partly got across our view, we saw now and then warplanes passing above. It was also the first and only time I saw a double body aircraft flying. There was at least one occasion warplanes fought somewhere above Vigan, and a plane simply bursts in flame and dark smoke. My dad prodded us to go back to our underground hideout.

When I was in high school I had a teacher in literature, Mrs. Socorro Villamor. She was the widow of war hero, Col. Jesus Villamor, one of the greatest Filipino pilots in WWII. After downing several Japanese planes, his own plane was hit and he died in the crash. Camp Villamor was named in his honor. My classmate and I wondered why Mrs. Villamor was often wearing black. At one time she recited for us Flow Gently Sweet Afton. She even sang it, and then came to a halt sobbing. We were all very quiet and let her recover. I could only imagine that up there fighting the Japanese is the great Colonel Villamor, whom my teacher was still mourning ten years after.

I believe that the pain she was then carrying made her the best literature teacher I have ever met. Today I still can recite a dozen selected passages from great American and English poets, and my favorite comes from Flow Gently Sweet Afton. Now and then in my lonely moments I hum its plaintive melody.

The caleza I was riding ran over a boy.

Basang, my auntie yaya and I were going home from Vigan on a caleza, a horse carriage. I was around five or six years old, the age children love to tag along wherever there is to go. It was midday and the cochero chose to take the shorter gravelly road to San Vicente by way of the second dike road that passes Bantay town. Since there was no traffic our cochero nonchalantly took the smoother left lane fronting a cluster of houses near Bantay. Suddenly our caleza tilted on one side as if it had gone over a boulder. To my astonishment I saw a boy around my age curled up under the wheel. The caleza came to a stop and the boy just remained still and quiet, dust covered his body. I thought he was dead. Residents started coming out. I heard shouts, some men angrily confronting the cochero. Bantay is noted for notoriety of certain residents. Instinct must have prodded Basang to take me in her arms and quickly walked away from the maddening crowd. No one ever noticed us I supposed.

Eugene and I nearly drowned in a river.

There was a friendly man who would come around and dad allowed him to play with us. People were talking he was a strange fellow. We simply did not mind. He was a young man perhaps in his twenties when Eugene and I were kids in the early grades in San Vicente. One day this guy (I forgot his name) took us to Busiing river, a kilometer walk or so from the poblacion. The water was inviting, what would kids like best to do? We swam and frolicked and fished, but then the water was steadily rising so we had to hold on the bamboo poles staked in the water to avoid being swept down by the current. I held on tightly, and I saw Eugene doing the same on a nearby bamboo pole. The guy just continued fishing with his bare hands, and apparently had forgotten us. Just then dad came running and saved us. We heard him castigate the fellow who, we found out that he mentally retarded that he didn’t even realized the extreme danger he put us in.

Paper wasps on the run! Or was it the other way around?

This happened to me, rather what I did, when I was five or six - perhaps younger, because I don’t know why I attack a colony of putakti or alimpipinig (Ilk). It was raw courage called bravado when you put on courage on something without weighing the consequences. It was hatred dominating reason, motivated by revenge.

I was sweeping the yard near a chico tree when I suddenly felt pain above my eye. No one had ever warned me of paper wasps, and I hadn’t been stung before. I retreated, instinctively got a bikal bamboo and attacked their papery nest, but every time I got close to it I got stung. I don’t know how many times I attacked the enemy, each time with more fury, and more stings, until dad saw me. I struggled under his strong arms sobbing. I was lucky, kids my size can’t take many stings. There are cases bee poison can cause the heart to stop.

The Case of the Empty Chicken Eggs

Soon as I was big enough to climb the baqui (brooding nest) hanging under the house and trees. I found out that if I leave as decoy one or two eggs in the basket, the more eggs you gather in the afternoon. Then a new idea came. With a needle, I punctured the egg and sucked the content dry. It tasted good and I made some to substitute the natural eggs for decoy.

Dad, a balikbayan after finishing BS in Commercial Science at De Paul University in Chicago, called us on the table one evening. "First thing tomorrow morning we will find that hen that lays empty eggs.”

It was a family tradition that every Sunday we had tinola - chicken cooked with papaya and pepper (sili) leaves. Dad would point at a cull (the unproductive and least promising member of the flock) and I would set the trap, a baqui with a trap door and some corn for bait. My brother Eugene would slash the neck of the helpless fowl while my sister Veny and I would be holding it. The blood is mixed with glutinous rice (diket), which is cooked ahead of the vegetables.

That evening I could not sleep. What if dad’s choice is one of our pet chicken? We even call our chickens by name. The empty eggs were the cause of it all, so I thought.

In the morning after the mass I told dad my secret. He laughed and laughed. I didn't know why. I laughed, too. I was relieved with a tinge of victorious feeling. Thus the case of the empty eggs was laid to rest. It was my first “successful” experiment.

In the years to come I realized you just can’t fool anybody. And by the way, there are times we ask ourselves, “Who is fooling who?”

Trapping Frogs

It was fun to trap frogs when I was a kid. I would dig holes in the field, around one and one-half feet deep, at harvest time. Here the frogs seek shelter in these holes because frogs need water and a cool place. Insects that fall in to the hole also attract them. Early in the morning I would do my rounds, harvesting the trapped frogs. Frogs are a favorite dish among Ilocanos especially before the age of pesticides. The frog is skinned, its entrails removed, and cooked with tomato, onion and achuete (Bixa orellana) to make the menu deliciously bright yellow orange. ~

Part 2: Sunrise – Memories of Childhood

Dr Abe V Rotor

Countryside scene mural by AVR 2008

Staying put on the farm - is that all you aspire for?
“Buy me a tractor,” I told my dad, “And I will not look for a job. I’ll stay on the farm.”

“Is that all you aspire for?” My father replied.
It was the turning point of my life. I left the farm and went on to pursue my studies, later joining the government service, and after early retirement, becoming a university professor.

Dad is now long gone and only my sister is overseeing the farm. One time while visiting the farm, I asked my eldest son, Marlo, “Do you like to stay here and manage the farm?” He fell silent and I did not utter another word.

I stopped schooling to be with my dad.
I stopped schooling in Manila, so I went home to San Vicente, arriving there on a Sunday at dawn. Instead of directly proceeding to our house, I dropped at the church through the main door. In the distance a man was standing, stooping, his nape showing the marks of old age. I wondered who the man was, and to my surprise I found out he was my dad. I did not know he had grown that old. I said my prayers, and left with a heavy heart.

It was at home that my dad and I met after the mass. He knew it was not yet school vacation, but he was very happy to see me. I did not tell I saw him in the church that morning. Later I told my plan not to continue my studies anymore because I wanted to be with him. He just felt silent.

The following morning he prepared our two bikes. “We are going to Banaoang,” he said in an aura of confidence. Banaoang is a mountain pass through which the mighty Abra River flows, where bamboo from the hills are sold in quantity. We were going to build a flue-curing barn.

The going was easy at first, but the distance and the uphill part were exhausting. Dad gave up before we reached our destination. “Get a rope and pull my bike. Let’s go back home.” He sat down in the shade of a mango tree. When we were rested we slowly pedaled back home. Both of us were silent the rest of the day.

I stayed with my dad until the end of summer working in the tobacco barn we put up. I went back to Manila the following school year to continue my studies. I always pass the highway dad and I once took, and there under an old mango tree, I would be seeing a man resting in its shade, stooping, wrinkles in his nape showing old age.

I shot an arrow into the air and it fell on a newspaper
I was about 4 or 5 years old. Dad was reading Manila Bulletin on a rocking chair. I was playing Robin Hood. Since our sala is very spacious (it has no divisions), anything on the ceiling and walls was a potential target. But something wrong happened. In physics a crooked arrow would not follow a straight line, so it found an unintended mark – the center of a widespread newspaper.The arrow pierced through it and landed on my dad’s forehead, almost between his eyes. He gave me a severe beating with my plaything as he wiped his forehead, blood dripping. I did not cry, I just took the punishment obligingly. Dad must have seen innocence in my eyes. He stopped and gave me a hug.

I shot my finger with an airgun.
I bought an airgun from Ben Florentino, a classmate of mine in high school at the Colegio de la Immaculada Concepcion (CIC Vigan) for fifty pesos, a good amount then, circa 1955. I was loading the pellet, when I dropped the rifle, and on hitting the ground, went off. The bullet pierced through the fleshy tip of my left forefinger. I tried to remove it but to no avail, so I went to the municipal doctor. There was no anesthesia available, and when I could no longer bear the pain, he simply dressed the wound and sent me home.

My wound soon healed, and the lead pellet was to stay with me for the next five years or so, when I finally decided to go for an operation. Had it not been for my playing the violin, I would not have bothered to do so. And it was providential.

Dr. Vicente Versoza, our family doctor in Vigan, performed the operation. A mass of tissues snugly wrapped around the pellet, isolating its poison. He told me I am lucky. There are cases of lead poisoning among war veterans who bore bullets in their bodies. I remember the late President Ferdinand Marcos. Was his ailment precipitated by lead poisoning?

I can “cure” a person who is naan-annungan.
An-annung is an Ilocano term. Spirits cast spell on a person, the old folks say. The victim may suffer of stomachache or headache accompanied by cold sweat, body weakness and feeling of exhaustion.

Well, take this case. It was dusk when a tenant of ours insisted of climbing a betel, Areca catechu to gather its nuts (nga-nga). My dad objected to it, but somehow the young man prevailed.

The stubborn fellow was profusely sweating and was obviously in pain, pressing his stomach against the tree trunk. Dad called for me. I examined my “patient” and assured him he will be all right. And like a passing ill wind, the spell was cast away. Dad and the people around believed I had supernatural power.

There had been a number of cases I “succeeded” in healing the naan-annungan. But I could also induce – unknowingly - the same effect on some one else. That too, my dad and old folks believed. They would seek for my “power” to cast the spell away from - this time – no other than my “victim”. What a paradox!

When I grew older and finished by studies, I began to understand that having an out-of-this-world power is a myth. I read something about Alexander the Great consulting the Oracle at Siwa to find out if indeed he is a god-sent son. “The Pharaoh will bow to you, ” the priestess told him. And it did happen - the pharaoh kissed Alexander’s feet. The great warrior died before he was 33.

Manong Bansiong, the kite maker
Transience of Childhood mural in acrylic by AVR circa 2005

Kites always fascinate me, thanks to Bansiong, nephew of Basang my auntie-yaya. He made the most beautiful, often the biggest kite in town. His name is an institution of sort to us kids. But remote as San Vicente was, we had the best kites and the town was also famous for its furniture and wooden saints.

Manong Bansiong made different kites: sinang-gola, sinang-cayyang, sinang-golondrina (in the likes of a bull, a bird with outstretched wings and legs, and a maiden in colorful, flowing dress, respectively). His kites were known for their strength, stability, beauty, and their height in the sky. In competitions he would always bring home the trophy, so to speak.

Because of Manong Bansiong I became also a kite maker of less caliber. Being an endangered art there is not much variety of kites flying around. The kites I make are not common, and they probably exude the same feeling to kids today as during our time.

I made kites for my children when they were small. Kites fascinated my late first-born son, Pao. It was therapy to his sickly condition. We would sit down together on the grass for hours holding on to the kite, the setting sun and breeze washing our faces.

When my youngest, Leo Carlo, took part in a kite competition at UST, I helped him with the La Golondrina (swallow). It did not win. But in the following year and the year after Leo Carlo became the consistent kite champion of UST, and so he carries on the legend of Manong Bansiong.

Draining a fishpond with centrifugal pump
We were perhaps the first in town to own a centrifugal pump, a three-horsepower Briggs and Stratton with a two-inch-diameter pipe. Which means, we can now irrigate whole fields, or drain fishponds.

One summer when the water was low, dad decided to use the pump in our one-hectare fishpond by the estuary in Nagtupacan, a coastal village of San Vicente. He put me in charge of the operation. I was a high school sophomore then. I stayed with the pump in the shade of nearby spiny candaroma (aroma) trees, sleeping under the stars at night. I learned that high tide followed by low tide occurs during the day, and repeated at night. That means the pump must overcome high tide that pushes water from under the fishpond and through the base of its dikes.

What we thought to be an easy operation probed to be an unending battle. Finally we gave up. We lost, but not entirely for we were able to harvest some fish from a drained area. Above all, I learned a lesson, which I was to use in my teaching in the university. On the part of dad, he told me, “Machines are no match to the enormous power of nature.” A few years after, the machine broke down, dad told in his letter. I was then in Manila earning a college degree. That night I imagined the spiny candaroma and the stars and the tides coming in and out. ~

Fishing upstream, AVR

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Fearful Crocodile - a Photo Study

Abe V Rotor
This is one of the biggest crocodiles ever caught, now in a zoo near Manila, where visitors can view this fearful creature. The crocodile is much older than the dinosaur. It survived the great cataclysmic asteroid impact that killed more than half of living organisms on earth at the end of the Mesozoic Period. Among the victims were the dinosaurs which dominated the earth for millions of years. It is the biggest reptile today, but it is facing extinction as its natural habitat, the swamp, is fast shrinking through man's intrusion and economic activities.


An aging crocodile. Crocodiles are known to live for fifty years, and even more in undisturbed places.

A juvenile crocodile. Crocodile farms produce meat and skin for leather and fashion, and serve as sanctuary. One of the biggest crocodile farms in the world is in Palawan. The Philippines holds the world's record of the biggest living crocodile. It is kept in a special den in Mindanao.

Bony face of a crocodile. It shows semblance with that of the dinosaur although they are not directly related. Acknowledgment: Avilon Zoo, Rizal

Dare the crocodile - any animal within its reach its victim,
yet it is nature's keeper of the wild and tool of evolution,
eliminating the unfit, keeping the strong through their genes
that only those that survive deserve a place on earth.

Dare the crocodile - he is today man's victim in the wild,
and the wild is no more; its niche, its bastion is the zoo,
farms copied from its wildlife den. Then in the museum
where someday it becomes like the dinosaur a fossil. ~

Are you a Morning or a Night Person?

Abe V Rotor and Melly C Tenorio
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid DZRB 738 KHzAM
8 to 9 Evening Class, Monday to Friday

Living with Nature - School on Blog

The watchful owl, symbol of journalism

Our clocks have individual variations. For example, there are people who are more active in the afternoon and evening, and there are those who are opposite – they are more active in the morning.

Chances are, you already know instinctively whether you are a morning person (sometimes known as a “lark”) or a night person ( sometimes called an “owl”).

If you aren’t sure which you are, here are some questions to ask yourself:
1. Do you wake up early and go to bed early?
2. Do you generally rise from your bed wide eyed and raring to go?
3. Do you feel that you do your best work early on the day?
4. Do you find yourself waking up just before you alarm is scheduled to go off?

If you answered yes to these questions, then you are most likely a morning person.

1. Do you wake up late and go to bed late?
2. Do you wake up sleepy eyed and sluggish?
3. Do you generally suffer through the early morning hours and get your surge of energy and creativeness later in the day?
4. Do you find it easy to sleep through the buzz or ring of an alarm clock?

If you answered yes to these questions, then you are most likely a night person.

Difference between Night and Day People

1. Morning People tend to have more introverted personalities, while Night People tend to be more extroverted. This is particularly true the age of forty.

2. Morning People tend to have less flexible circadian rhythms, which means they benefit more, both physically and mentally, from following structured daily routine.

3. Morning People tend to sleep more soundly than Night People and wake up feeling more refreshed.

4. Women are more likely to be Morning People than men.

Your Sleep Cycle: A Quiz

1. Do you fall asleep easily during the day while reading, watching TV, or doing other sedentary activities?
2. Do you find that you are irritable and short-tempered for no particular reason during the day?
3. Do you need an alarm clock to awaken you in the morning?
4. Do you wake up feeling sluggish and sleepy?
5. Do you need a nap to keep you alert through the afternoon and evening?
6. Do you regularly “sleep in” an hour or more on weekends?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may not be getting enough sleep to meet your individual sleep cycle needs.

1. Do you stay awake in bed long after the lights are out, waiting for sleep to come?
2. Do you awaken in the morning before your alarm clock goes off?
3. Do you spend the last hour or two in bed alternating between sleep and wakefulness?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be trying to get some sleep than your individual sleep cycle demands.

1. Do you smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol or a caffeinated beverage late in the afternoon or evening?
2. Do you fall asleep with the radio, TV, or lights on?
3. Do you take sleeping pills?
4. Do you sleep in a very cold or very hot room?
5. Can outside noises (such as airplanes or street traffic) be heard in your bedroom at night?
6. Are you depressed, anxious, or worried?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be damaging your natural sleep cycle and not be getting the quality of sleep you need to feel and perform at your best,

Tips for Improving your Sleep Cycle

Paying attention to your sleep cycle can improve your physical and mental health. Here is a summary of tips for ensuring that your nighttime rhythms add to your daytime health and happiness.

1. Assess your sleep needs and determine the optimum number of hours you need to sleep.
2. Keep regular sleep hours, even on weekends.
3. If you stay up late, be sure, get up regular time the next morning.
4. Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and caffeine, especially after 6:00 p.m
5. Do not use sleeping pills
6. Use naps judiciously. If you nap, do so regularly.
7. Never nap if you have trouble sleeping tight.
8. Avoid falling asleep with the light on radio on.

Don't worry, an owl can be as happy as a lark, and a lark as vigilant as an owl. Just follow your inner rhythm.
x x x

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Environment and Biology: Would man dare to kill a firefly?

Catching fireflies. Amadeo, Cavite

Closeup of the firefly world-newsupdate.blogspot.com/2009/03/firefly...

Entomology team from UST Graduate School headed by the author.

Abe V Rotor

Man is the insect buster; self proclaimed, strong and bold;
He conquers his greatest enemy, wasting no time.
He has read enough books, and turned away from the old.
He’s Pied Piper now in new adventure in his prime.

To the rescue, he rid the world of aliens and all their kin;
"I am Gulliver," he said to the imagined Lilliputians,
With gloves and boots, armed with tools of the modern kind,
He saw himself riding to the West against the Indians.

Make way for this nemesis, the bugs run for your lives;
They dropped dead, crushed, unbearable was the pain.
Their shelter stormed, their nests torn, so with their hives.
It’s reminiscent of Pompeii where the ruins reign.

The air is stilled, there’s no more music in the night;
The pond is clear, but where have the fishes gone?
Plants still bloom, but their flowers are no longer bright.
Where are the bees and butterflies that meet the sun?

Frogs no longer croak, silent are the fields and the trees;
Where’s the cicada shrilling with joy, the cricket at night?
The melodious songs and calls of birds that never cease.
The mayfly’s visit, or the moth’s over a candlelight?

Suddenly the world became still. Didn't Rachel Carson
Tell in Silent Spring the birds didn't arrive one spring?
Or in biblical times, didn't a cloud of death over a zone
Killed creatures one by one, the survivors migrating?

Where have all the sweetest sugar and flowing silk gone?
Their makers, the busy bee and the the naive worms?
They too, have been stilled forever by the same poison
That killed the evil ones and their ugly forms.

Didn't Alexander the Great die on the Euphrates
Of malaria? Or the Pharaoh Menes of bee venom?
Thousands died building the Panama Canal and Suez,
And more death blamed to insects still unknown.

Who would like the fly around? But without it the dead
Would litter the ground, more so without the Scarabid.
Who would eat remnants of an enemy, diseases they spread?
For certain man doesn't like to die first? God forbid.

His joy to conquer lies in his genes, even against his kind,
Much less the lowly crawlers, for revenge or just game;
Yes, man is insect buster, self righteous, self-proclaimed -
But would he dare to kill a firefly just the same? ~

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Lighter Side of Field Research

Abe V Rotor



Environment: The Making of Nata de Coco Shoes


These nata de coco shoes were pioneered by the late Amparo Arambulo (above) of St Paul University QC in the late nineties as her thesis in BS Biology. The idea was the brainchild of Dr Anselmo S Cabigan who served as the adviser. Miss Arambulo is shown in this photo with the author, also a former professor of the university. At the foreground are nata leather sheets ready for tanning. Nata shoes passed the DOST test for strength and durability surpassing animal and artificial leather.

Nata is produced by
Leuconostoc mesenteroides, a bacterium ubiquitous in distribution. It colonizes fermenting materials, often accompanying vinegar formation or acetification.

Nata is a popular food, made into sweets or mixed with halo-halo. It comes as cubes, strips, colored red or yellow, but it is preferred in its semitransparent state. One good thing with nata food is that it is filling to the stomach, and because it is low in nutrients, it is excellent in keeping down weight. Its rich fiber, actually bacterial capsule, aids in detoxification and regular movement.

At one time Japan imported from the Philippines tons and tons of nata for the electronic industry, particularly for the membrane of speakers. It was from the rejected orders that Dr Cabigan developed alternative uses of the waste. He also pioneered in nata surgical thread which is as good as conventional surgical threads because of its natural and self dissolving characteristic. Nata laminates proved to be a good material for belts, wallets and other leather goods.

Nata's potential contribution to the environment is enormous. It saves countless animals, especially the endangered species, from which leather is derived. It offers as substitute to plastics that comprise the bulk of non-biodegradable wastes all over the world. On the production side, nata offers great opportunities as a collage industry and in converting farm by-products into useful products.

Next time you pick your favorite
nata de coco from the supermarket, imagine its many uses and how this simple product of a bacterium can make miracles.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: The technology of nata growing in culture medium is ancient and universal in process. It is a microbial process, a kind of farming with a bacterium Leuconostoc mesenteroides, and a complex of other microorganisms, including Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Acetobacter aceti. It is Nature's microbiological chemistry which man has learned to produce useful materials, like vinegar, herbal tea, and of course, nata as food. The innocula grow on a wide range of substrates. If it is pineapple, the product is nata de piƱa. It is possible that other countries have nata products from their indigenous fruits and nuts.
What is revolutionary is the discovery of nata as non-food material that is economically viable and ecologically friendly.

Biologically, the process is nature's way of disposing organic residues by converting them into more stable forms preparatory to their final degradation, ultimately returning to their elemental forms ready for the next cycle.

The encapsulated bacterium is the main agent in the process, leaving its gelatin or cellulose shell to form layers and thick mass which is the nata. This is made into mats and when finally cured becomes laminate, firm and soft (even after a few years), cool to the feet, and other tests for leather.

The nata "leather" is produced by gradual pressure and drying until a leatherlike consistency is attained. This undergoes curing, tanning, and dyeing like leather. Which is then made into uppers of shoes and slippers, cut into belt, surgical thread, percussion instruments, and fabric substitute.

This work is ahead by more than ten years of one of Time magazine's featured inventions in 50 Best Inventions of 2010 (November 22, 2010, page 53, Invention No. 15 BioCouture).

The untimely death of the inventor is indeed a great loss. Had she lived longer she could have proceded in pursuing this pioneering discovery, such as
nata surgical thread which was invented by another student at SPU the following year. ~

Newly harvested nata is laid on muslim cloth and allowed to dry.Nata is collectively air dried at room temperature.

Newly harvested nata laminate is ready for tanning

Tanned nata is subjected to same process as ordinary leather.

It is cut according to pattern and size of shoe

Sewed and glued

Fit to mould
The finished product is as durable and beautiful as leather-made shoe. ~