Wednesday, July 31, 2013

UST-AB Photography Assignment: The Death of Privacy

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

Assignment for 3CA1 2 3 4 
1. Make a Reaction Paper regarding this article on one page regular bond, handwritten. 
2. List down in what other ways and means, can preserve or restore privacy. 

Loss of privacy is exacerbated by modern technology. 
Someone is watching your every move – at the bank, on the Internet, even walking down the street. Our right to be left alone has disappeared, bit by bit, in Little Brotherly steps.” Say Time magazine in a special issue on The Death of Privacy. We are headed for an even wired unregulated, overintrusive  privacy-deprived planet.  Privacy is dying.

Our letters are no longer private on e-mail dispatch. ID are also for time record, entry pass, emergencies, discounts.  We carry USP (removable disc) which contains a library of information indistinguishable whether for private or public consumption.  And who cares, if you too, get access to the same unsolicited materials?

Don’t forget to lock up your personal computer; even then, be sure no one knows your PIN (personal identification number). One moment every it contains is copied without your knowing it.  For hackers it worst; you can’t keep your own files anymore.

Go to the mall, drop at the Post Office, pick up grocery, visit an ITM.  Waiting for a ride, speeding on a highway, practicing in a gym, promenading?  Anything you do, even in your rented bedroom, someone is looking at you through the electronic eye, a n-generation of the conventional camera, complete with sounds, and special effects, versatility likened to Hubs telescope or Skylab’s.     

In fact your organs are monitored on TV during diagnosis, more so during operation.  I saw my kidney bombarded by laser.  “Oh, you are awake,” my doctor was surprised.  “See, the stone is gone, the fragments are being flushed out.” It’s me I was seeing. I don’t know if I passed out afterward that. 

Cell phone.  Yes, it’s a magnificent invention. You can be at any place at anytime. And with modern hybrids, you send and receive information to whomever without full control.  That is why clever people make a dummy of them and hide their reality.  This is your Second Person, your avatar, your clone, but you are soon to be discovered, and little by little your second person becomes your first person – you.

Good if it’s the real you as you would like put your best foot forward, so to speak.  Somebody did some anatomical experiment, putting your face on another body, doing a thing you don’t like in a place your find impossible to be, attired differently, if at all.  And your dignity? “Oh, it’s not me,” you deny, but it’s your face people see. And this monster runs on the wire and soon you find yourself an international figure (disfigure). You are lost.    

Melly asked me if it’s all right to have a digital ID system.  Why not, who does not have one nowadays?  Even a kinder child has one around the neck; college students enter the school premises by swiping their ID to show their face and number on the monitor, otherwise you are trapped and questioned. Remember terrorists are also in white.

But the worst and ultimate loss of privacy is in having a Personal Gene Map.  Since HGP (Human Genome Project was launched and published, there will come a time each of us will be wearing a mini disc that contains the map of our chromosomes and their corresponding genes, and each gene carrying a specific trait from the color of your hair to your temperament. In short, genetic cartography reveals all our traits which doctor, insurance companies, prospective employers and spouses are, and likely, to know. “Will the map also show loyalty, infidelity?” asked Melly.  I was speechless.  I was nodding my head in disbelief.  Why not? Hasn’t holism been re-defined by science and technology. Now what chromosome or chromosomes, and what gene or genes can we view the so-called inner self – conscience?  God, where is the soul to be found?

How are you spied on?

Bank machines – Every time you use an automated teller; the bank records the time, date and location of your transaction.

Prescription drugs – If you use your company health insurance to purchase drugs, your employer may have access to the details.

Browsing on the web – Many sites tag visitors with magic cookies that record what you’re looking at and when you have been surfing.

Cellular telephone – Your calls can be intercepted and your access numbers cribbed by eavesdroppers with police scanners.

Credit cards – Everything you charge is in a database that police, among others, can look at.

Registering to Vote – Voter registration records are publis and online – if computerized.  They typically list your address and birth date.

Making a phone call – The phone company does not need a court order to note the number you’re calling – or who is calling you.

Supermarket scanners – Many grocery stores let you register for discount coupons that are used to track what you purchase.

Sweepstakes –  In the US these are bonanzas for marketers.  Every time you enter one, you add an electronic brushstroke to your digital portrait.

Satellites – Commercial satellites are coming online that are eagle-eyed enough to spot you – and maybe a companion – in a hot tub.

Electronic tools – In many places, drivers can pay tolls electronically with passes that tip off your whereabouts.

Surveillance cameras – They’re in banks, federal office buildings, 7-elevens, even houses of worship; New Yorkers are on camera up to 20 times a day.  How about us in Metro Manila?

Mail-order transactions – Many companies, including mail-order houses and publishers, sell lists of their customers.  Why do you think you’re getting those catalogs?  

Sending e-mail – In offices, E-mail is considered part of your work.  Your employer is allowed is allowed to read it – and many bosses do.

1.      Protect Yourself

2.      Just say no to telemarketers. Say, “I don’t take phone solicitations.”

3.      Consider removing your name from many direct-mail and telemarketing lists.

4.      Pay cash whenever possible.

5.      Be wary about buying mail order.

6.      Give your Social Security number only when required by law.

7.      Think twice before filling warranty cards or entering sweepstakes.

8.      Be careful when using “free blood pressure clinics.”

9.      Avoid leaving footprints on the Net.

10.  Surf the Web anonymously.

If you can make it, disarm yourself of any electronic device on a weekend, and stay home. Take a vacation away from electronic devices.  It could be the best way of restoring a part of your privacy.  Set on mailbox, if not switch off,  your cell phone to enjoy your weekend or vacation.

 As people go to live in cities and high rise apartments, they give up privacy in the guise of freedom and modern culture. .
Advertisements break traditional customs, introduce a lifestyle that favors liberalism and consumerism.    

cctV camera

UST-AB Photography Session at the Zoo

  Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM, evening class, Monday to Friday

Reading Assignment for Communication Arts - 3CA1,2,3,4

Lesson in Photography
A. The zoo is one of the recommended best  places to conduct photography session.
  • Natural Science
  • Social science
  • Media 
  • Fine Arts
  • Photography class 
  • Family Outing
B. Zoos to visit from Manila
  • Zoobic, Subic, Zambales
  • Avilon Zoo, San Mateo Rizal
  • Malabon Zoo, Malabon
  • Tagaytay Zoo, Tagaytay, and
  • Manila Zoo
  • Balaurte, Vigan (400 km north)
C. Presentation of Photographs
  • Photo Essay
  • Photo Release (print)
  • PowerPoint 
  • Photo exhibit
  • Research Photos (e.g. thesis)
  • E-Publication (e.g. Blog)
  • Poster, Bulletin, Book, Newsletter 
D. Themes
  • Wildlife Conservation 
  • Saving the threatened and endangered species  
  • Concepts of a zoo today
  • Parks and wildlife management
Here are samples of photographs taken at the zoo

Pony (Zoobic)
                                                          Ostrich (Zoobic, Baluarte) 
Guinea fowl or bengala (Zoobic)
Cassowary (Zoobic)
Iguana (Zoobic)
Boa Constrictor (Zoobic)
Albino Carabao (Zoobic)
 Camel (Baluarte)
 White Deer (Baluarte) 

 Replica of dinosaurs
 Bengal Tiger
Spotted Deer
 Pony ride (Baluarte) 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Malunggay: Most popular and nutritious vegetable in the tropic. You can make your own mineral water with its seeds, too.

 Dr Abe V Rotor 

Malunggay propagated from cutting
Drinking water is rendered safe with malunggay seeds. Why buy bottled mineral water? You can save as much as P100 per day for the whole family. That's P3000 a month or P36,000 a year. You can earn from this simple technology, too. Get in touch with your nearest DOST office for assistance. 

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 arms 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 example the following 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.~

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Disturbing Views, Dreams into Nightmares

Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature - School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School-on-Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM Band, 8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday []
1. Tetrapack anyone? San Mateo, Rizal. Aesop is alive - can man really learn?

2. Empty billboard and facade.  Where is art, what good is architecture?
                      3.  Makeshift "danger" sign. QC. Redefining road courtesy
                   4. Cleared squatter area - relief and litter, QC.  Law and abandon. 
 5. Extreme drought, at the other side flood. Global warming sign. Bulacan
 6. Failed smoke emission test.  But why still on the road?  Commonwealth Ave., QC 
 7. You don't enjoy Manila Bay sunset anymore - unless you are troubled.  
8. Aftermath of Tidal Wave.  Stern warning to illegal settlements. Morong Rizal .
9. Requiem to old Kamachili tree - but whose dirge? Bantay Ilocos Sur 

10. Overloaded bus on wrong side of the road. España, Manila. Fun in life's misery.
11. Road work on rush hour, QC.  Just for show.
12. Dust and grit fly from gravel truck. QC.  Blame the horses.
13. Flood and belched smoke and boy's will. Manila. 
14. Mine tailings, Benguet.  "Flow sweet Afton" no more.

Vocation Stories of Traditional Healers in Fuga Island

Dr Abe V Rotor     

Living with Nature - School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School-on-Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM Band, 8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday []

This article was derived from a dissertation (doctoral research) conducted by Dr Ronel P. Dela Cruz in Fuga Island.  It  pertains to the dynamic interplay between the traditional healers of Fuga (factor) and their healing practices (process) that continue to create both positive acceptance and transformation from the people (causes) that facilitate changes in the life of the people in the island (effect).
Here is a part of Dr Dela Cruz's translations into English Ilokano conversations with three of a number of healers who are regarded as wisdom keepers, consultants, fathers and mothers of the communities, and dutiful citizens.
 1.  Bienvenido Pablo, 70 years old; 31 years as healer (Sitio Mudoc)
      When I was young, our elders taught me how to recite the oraciones (Latin prayers) with faith. This was my initiation, the first step to be qualified as healer. After I memorized the prayers, the power to heal was passed on to me by our great elders. They told me to use the power to heal on Good Friday. As a healer, I encountered many unseen spirits in this world. I encountered them many times especially in the farm and in the woods. These are both good and bad spirits. The aplaw or bad spirits touch and cause people to be sick and they are required to communicate to them. Those who have an encounter with bad spirits have uncommon experiences: they may cut an uncommon tree, kill a peculiar chicken, touch a lone turtle in the woods, etc. People come to see me every time they have sick members of their family. I have been doing this for thirty-one years. Many members of the community believe that I can properly diagnose (maimaan) the cause of sickness of my patients.

      I pray every time I begin to diagnose and heal any sick member of the village. It is in praying that the spirit is able to communicate what I should do to treat the sick. Sometimes they are revealed in my dreams. I perform a ritual offering to appease the spirits whom the sick person encountered either in the farm or in the woods. Members are required to prepare food like meat, rice, wine, nganga, etc. as atang (offering). This is a form of communication where I dialogue with the spirits and ask them to restore the health of the mortal being. As a midwife (partera) in the village for many generations, I prescribed herbal medicines especially when the mother has difficulty giving birth. I give them juice extract of young banana leaves. At the same time, I ask the husband to pour water on the roof, catch it, mix it with soil, and give it as a drink to the labouring mother. To ease the difficulty of his wife, the husband wears his bolo on his waist and steps over his labouring wife. After the mother gives birth, I burn an anglem, a piece of old cloth, to drive bad spirits away from the mother and the child. For children who have til-i, I recommend akot-akot to be fried, mixed with water and serve as a drink. Alternatives can be tayum leaves (Indigo), or ground garlic. For those who have boils, I use mint leaves mixed with lime (apog).

      They look on me primarily as a healer. That is my contribution to the community. As one of the elders in the village, they also seek my advice concerning communal issues. I can say that I am credible to the community because people continue bringing their sick to me. We traditional healers are on the forefront when people get sick. I gained confidence in myself as a healer through my works and faith. Strong faith is necessary especially when I wrestle with spirits and diagnose my patient. I think this makes me credible to the community. That wellness and good health can be experienced in the community through its healers is affirmed by people coming to see us when they are sick, entrusting their loved ones to us.

      2. Pedro Agarpao, 57 years old; 27 years as healer (Sitio Bubog)
      My calling began when I asked to pray to St. Mary of Visitacion for three days. The elders in the village asked me to memorize and recite 20 oraciones. After three days, I received my power to heal through an apparition. My daughter also witnessed the apparition. We made a nine-day novena as a sign of thanksgiving for the gift of faith and healing. My healing is sustained through daily prayers. I heal for free; I was even invited to heal in other provinces like Ilocos, Baguio and Pangasinan. People get sick because they displease the spirits on this island. When they call me to heal their loved ones, I ask them to intensify their prayers. On my part, I will wait for the instructions to be revealed to me in my dreams. Once I have it, I will write the orasyon and prescribe the medicine (herbal). I even asked them to make a visit to the Our Lady of Piat if sickness stays for a week. 

Majority of the people in the village believe in my capacity to heal the sick. However, I also demand from them to do their share like prayer and stay away from the abodes of the spirits. When treating a serious illness, I ask the assistance of other healers in the island. As a healer, I am always challenged to be a model to the villagers by promoting good relationships with all community members. In the midst of poverty and difficulties, we always hope and pray that each member of the community will be blessed with abundant life. People see us as a resource. Instead of spending money for their hospitalization on the mainland, the healers in the island are their refuge. Faith in other people in times of sickness is evident.

      3. Patrocinio Visario, Sr., 46 years old; 33 years as a healer (Sitio Mudoc)
       It all started with a series of dreams where I see myself healing the sick. But I do not know who sent me to heal. So I consulted my grandfather who is also a healer in the village and confirmed that I had the power to heal and that I have to undergo an initiation. He asked me to read and memorize the oraciones (Latin prayers) which I will be using in order to heal.  At first, I was hesitant because we differ in religion but my grandfather admonished me that my calling to heal goes beyond religion. I use herbal medicines coupled with prayers. Aside from this, I also interview my patient so that I can understand where s/he is coming from. I have to admit that there were times that I am not sure what medicine to prescribe because of the complexity of the illness. I prescribe medicinal plants to my patients. When my patients apparently encountered bad spirits in their farms or in the woods, I perform the atang to communicate with the spirits. Sometimes, this is very difficult depending on the strength of the spirits encountered by my patient. If the sickness escalates in the village, 

I asked the other members of the village to perform a religious procession during day and night to drive away the evil spirits who want to dwell in the community. Majority of the people here in the village recognizes my ability to heal. But I see it as a form of service to them because they come to see/fetch me any time to heal the sick member of their family. It is also a challenge to promote good relationship and wellness in the community. I think this is my contribution. When one is sick, we are gathered together and share our community life - struggles, resources, dreams for the children, and the like. When there is sickness in the village, this is also the time to reflect as a community. Heads of the family come together and devise ways to prevent the sickness. Of course, there are many solutions to our problems but being together during times of crisis is primary.

      From  Isla Fuga: Sacred Scapes, Ronel P dela Cruz, published by St Paul University QC, 2012.  Dr Ronel P dela Cruz is presently the director of Research and Publication Center of St Paul University Quezon City, and holder of the Mother Mary Anne de Tilly Professorial Chair.  An alumnus of the Asian Social Institute, Dr Dela Cruz is the founding chairman of the Francis Jeremy Educational Program whose beneficiaries are students from the Babuyan Islands. He has presented his researches in national and regional conferences like the Hong Kong University and the National University of Singapore.   

Fuga Island is an island in the municipality of Aparri, Cagayan with an area of 100 km², it constitutes one of 42 barangays of Aparri along with the neighboring islets of Barit (4.8 km²) and Mabag (0.7 km²). Though under the jurisdiction of mainland Aparri, it is part of the Babuyan Archipelago, the second-northernmost island group of the Philippines. The highest peak is Mount Nanguringan in the northeast, with an elevation of 191 meters. According to the 2000 population census, it has 1,786 people in 312 households. The principal settlement is Naguilian (Musa) village on the southern coast.
The island still retains a traditional culture, a manifestation of which is the annual construction of a small straw imitation boat that is floated out to sea. The tradition began in 1656 when the island was almost invaded by British ships, prompting islanders to make a similar replica of a boat, thus preventing the island's annexation by Great Britain. (Wiki)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam - an unparalleled masterpiece

Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature - School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School-on-Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM Band, 8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday []
Omar Khayyam (1048 - ca. 1132)
Astrologer-Poet of Persia (Iran)

have a friend, Dr Anselmo S Cabigan, who is an ardent disciple of the great Persian astrologer-poet – Omar Khayyam, and on lighter occasions in school where we taught, he would run several lines from Rubaiyat, keeping faithful to the rhyme-rhythm of a quatrain, and emoting the imagined feeling of the master. It is a rare experience today to hear one reciting from memory an ancient masterpiece, which, had it not been for providence, history may have missed conserving such great work.

How distinct Khayyam’s style is, compared with modern poets, who like in painting, hide behind the curtain of abstractionism – vague and hollow, and often wanting of refinement and naturalness. Rubaiyat, of course has some abstract forms, but intellectual and cultural.

Omar Khayyam enjoyed popularity, but his works showed more of the inner man - his life must have been truly well-spent, not only in the sciences and the arts, but in the fulfillment of life itself in his country though tumultuous in his time, was nonetheless obstacle to leading a romantic and scholarly life, as gleamed from the writings of one of his pupils. (The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, rendered into English Verse by Edward Fitzgerald.) To wit:

“I often used to hold conversations with my teacher, Omar Khayyam, in a garden; and one day he said to me, “My tomb shall be in a spot where the north wind may scatter roses over it.’ I wondered at the words he spake, but I knew that his were not idle words. Years after, when I chanced to revisit Naishapur, I went to his final resting-place, and lo! It was just outside a garden, and trees laden with fruits stretched their boughs over the garden wall, and dropped their flowers upon his tomb, so that the stone was hidden under them.”

Here are the first 15 stanzas or quatrains of Omar Khayyam’s masterpiece, Rubaiyat, a priceless contribution to the richness of world literature, and to think that Rubaiyat was written prior to the golden era of the Renaissance. The quatrain used has four equal lines, though varied, sometimes all rhyming, but more often as shown here, the third line does not. It is somewhat like the Greek Alcaic, where the penultimate line seems to lift and suspend the Wave that falls over the last. The Rubaiyat has an Oriental flair, and distinctly  musical so that it is important to read it aloud, preferably with an audience.

I. Awake for Morning is the bowl of Night
Has flung the Stone that puts the Stars to Flight:
And Lo! the Hunter of the East has caught
The sultan's Turret in a Noose of Light.

II. Dreaming when Dawn's Left Hand was in the sky
I heard a Voice within the Tavern cry,
"Awake, my Little ones, and fill the Cup
Before Life's Liquor in its Cup be dry."

III And, as the Cock crew, those who stood before
The tavern shouted - "Open then the Door.
You know how little while we have to stay,
And, once departed, may return no more."

IV. Now the New Year reviving old Desires,
The Thoughtful Soul to Solitude retires,
Where the White Hand of Moses on the Bough
Puts out, and Jesus from the Ground auspires.

V. Iram indeed is gone with all its Rose,
And Jamshyd's Sev'n-ring'd Cup where no one knows;
But still the vine her ancient Ruby yields,
And still a Garden by the Water blows.

VI. And David's Lips are lock't, but in divine
High piping Pelevi, with"Wine! Wine! Wine!
Red Wine!" - the Nightingale cries to the Rose
That yellow Cheek of hers to'incarnadine.

VII. Come. fill the Cup, and in the Fire of Spring
The Winter Garment of Repentance fling;
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To fly - and Lo! the Bird is on the Wing.

VIII. And look - a thousand Blossoms with the Day
Woke - and a thousand scatter'd intop Cl;ay:
And this first Summer Month that brings the Rose
Shall take Jamshtd and Kaikobad away.

IX. But come with old Khayya, and leave the Lot
Of Kaikobad and Kaikhosru forgot:
Let Rustum lay about him as he will,
or Hatim Tai cry supper - heed them not.

X. With me along some strip of Herbage strown
That just divides the desert from the sown,
Where name of Slave and Sultan scare is known,
And pity Sultan Mahmud on his Throne.

XI. Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
A flask of Wine, a Book of Verse - and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness -
And Wilderness is Paradise enow.

XII. "How sweet is mortal Sovranty!" - think some:
Others - "How blest the Paradise to come!"
Ah, take the Cash in hand and waive the Rest;
Oh, the brave Music of a distant Drum.

XIII. Look to the Rose about us - "Lo,
Laughing," she says, unto the World I blow:
At once the silken Tassel of my Purse
Tear, and its Treasure on the Garden throw."

XIV. The Worldly Hope men set their Hearts upon
Turns Ashes - or it prospers; and anon,
Like Snow upon the Desert's dusty Face
Lighting a little Hour or two - is gone.

XV. And those who husbanded the Golden Grain,
And those who flung it to the Winds like Rain,
Alike to no such aureate Earth are turn'd
As, buried once, Men want dug up again.

NOTE: Quatrain XI has a universal theme. This is the key to knowing Omar Khayyam's personality and life's philosophy - doubtless, Dr Cabigan and I agree.
"... and Thou beside me singing in the Wilderness - 
and Wilderness is Paradise enow."

About Omar Khayyam: The Persian astronomer, mathematician, and poet Omar Khayyam (1048-ca. 1132) made important contributions to mathematics, but his chief claim to fame, at least in the last 100 years, has been as the author of a collection of quatrains, the "Rubaiyat."

Omar Khayyam was born in Nishapur in May 1048. His father, Ibrahim, may have been a tentmaker (Khayyam means tentmaker). Omar obtained a thorough education in philosophy and mathematics, and at an early age he attained great fame in the latter field. The Seljuk sultan Jalal-al-Din Malik Shah invited him to collaborate in devising a new calendar, the Jalali or Maliki. Omar spent much of his life teaching philosophy and mathematics, and legends ascribe to him some proficiency in medicine. He died in Nishapur. (Acknowledgment: Thanks to Encyclopedia of World Biography; and to Internet for the photos)

Kugtong - Giant Lapulapu

Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature - School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid 738 DZRB AM with Ms Melly C Tenorio 8 to 9 evening class, Mon to Fri

I am a witness of a pair of giant lapulapu (kugtong) in Sablayan Occidental Mindoro caught by local fishermen sometime in 1982. I had been hearing kugtong since childhood, a threat to fishermen and picnickers because it could swallow a whole human being, and here with my own eyes the kugtong in Lola Basiang’s story is true after all. 

Groupers (lapu-lapu).  Giant lapulapu is locally called kugtong. (Photo credit Internet)

So huge are these overgrown lapulapu that two men could hardly carry one of them with a bamboo pole on their shoulders. A third man had to lift its tail from the ground as they inched their way to a waiting truck. I examined the fish; its body is coarse and shaggy, covered with seaweeds and tiny mollusks, and had lost all semblance of the favorite lapulapu on our dining table. But this makes a perfect camouflage that suits the predatory habit of this benthic fish.

There is a story about a kugtong that lived under the old pier of San Fernando, La Union. For a long time the strange fish was feared by the residents and many animals around had mysteriously disappeared. Then the local fishermen decided to catch it with a big hook luring the fish with a live piglet as bait. The fish took it and struggled until it was finally subdued. It was hauled by many men and if the story is accurate it took a six-by-six truck to transport it.

There is mystery in the biology of lapulapu or grouper as it is known worldwide.  Groupers are hermaphroditic, which means that sex switch from male to female and vice versa.  The young are predominantly female but transform into males as they grow to about a kilogram in a year, remaining adolescent until they reach three kilos.  From here they become females.  But wait. When they are about 10 to 12 kg they turn to males and grow very, very big. Lengths over a meter and weights up to 100 kg are not uncommon.

 A newspaper reported a 396.8 pound grouper being caught off the waters near Pulau Sembilan in the Straits of Malacca in 2008. Shenzhen newspaper reported that a 1.8 meter grouper swallowed a 1.0 meter whitetip reef shark at the Fuzhou Sea World aquarium.

So I asked my friend Dr. Anselmo S Cabigan, a fellow biologist.  “What is really the sex of a full grown kugtong, such as those I found in Mindoro?”

In my research it is male. The male is larger and wilder than the female, and I use as analogy the bull to cow, rooster to hen, peacock to peahen, lion to lioness. Dr Cabigan thinks it otherwise.  The female is larger, in fact much larger, that the male is virtually a remora-size creature attached to the female. I imagine the huge size of the queen termite as compared to the tiny king termite. The enigma of the groupers, considering their varied genera and species, and worldwide distribution could yet reveal other amazing facts about the kugtong.  At least we are sure the kugtong does exists. 

How dangerous is the kugtong?  It has the strategy of lying in wait, rather than chase in open water. It swallows prey rather than bite pieces of it. According to a report, there is at least one record, from Mozambique, of a human being killed by one of these fish.

There are giants in the deep. After the tsunami in 2004 that hit the Indian Ocean, by coincidence I saw giant squids measuring 3 feet long being sold at the SM Fairview supermarket. I surmise that these were flushed out from their deep dwellings and landed in the fisherman’s net when the calamity struck. I remember the giant squid that almost sank Captain Nemo’s submarine in Jules Verne’s “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.”

NOTE: Groupers belong to a number of genera, the biggest being Epinephelus and Mycteroperca.  of then Family Serranidae, Order Perciformes. Not all serranids are called groupers; the family also includes the sea basses. 

Their mouth and gills form a powerful sucking system that sucks their prey in from a distance. They also use their mouth to dig into sand to form their shelters under big rocks, jetting it out through their gills. Their gill muscles are so powerful that it is nearly impossible to pull them out of their cave if they feel attacked and extend those muscles to lock themselves in. Many groupers are important food fish, and some of them are now farmed. Unlike most other fish species which are chilled or frozen, groupers are usually sold alive in markets. Many species are popular fish for sea angling. Some species are small enough to be kept in aquaria, though even the small species are inclined to grow rapidly. (Wikipedia)


Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature - School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School-on-Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM Band, 8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday []

It's a rare delicacy, one for the book of Guinness. Cow or carabao hide made into pulotan called caliente, a favorite of Ilocanos. It is softened to almost gel-like consistency, heavily spiced with onion, ginger, green hot pepper, and seasoned with sukang Iloko (natural vinegar from sugarcane.)

Come to the Ilocos region. Stop at Vigan on your tour. You won't miss caliente, so with bagnet (lechon kawali), empanada, and the signature bibingka and tinubong. And lastly, the pride of the Ilocos region, Basi table wine.

The art of harvesting and preparing buko (young coconut), the healthiest and most complete food.

Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature - School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid 738 DZRB AM with Ms Melly C Tenorio 8 to 9 evening class, Mon to Fri
Coconut harvester scales a 35-year old tree, four-storey high barehanded, ties a whole bunch of young nuts and slowly brings it down pulley-style.  At home in Lagro QC 
Buko vendors have an extrasensory perception of knowing the thickness of the 
meat just by the sound and vibration of the nut when tapped with a bolo.    
Buko is classified according to maturity, from marauhog (mucous like) to somewhat firm for fruit cocktail. The best is when its meat is easy to scope and can be eaten directly while drinking its juice - no ice, no sweetener. There's an analogy to a popular adage, "A buko a day drives the doctor away."  Buko juice is the cleanest and safest drink, the soft meat contains the celebrated virgin coconut oil in its incipient formula. Its roots filter out poisonous substances, specially toxic metals such as lead (Pb), Mercury (Hg) and Cadmium (Cd) - which other plants absorb and transmit to eaters.  Coconut is the most successful plant that colonizes islands and ripraps shorelines, living on whatever resources - including minerals from the seawater.