Thursday, October 31, 2013

Avoid artificial food coloring: it can cause cancer and behavioral problems in children

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


Why food coloring?
Food coloring, or color additive, is any dye, pigment or substance that imparts color when it is added to food or drink. They come in many forms consisting of liquids, powders, gels and pastes. 
People associate certain colors with certain flavors, and the color of food can influence the perceived flavor in anything from candy to wine.   Color additives are used in foods for many reasons including:
Food dyes are like artist's colors. Primary colors come up with various secondary and tertiary colors, including designs, saturation, hues and accents.  Beware of colored candies, birthday cakes, and drinks. They are linked to cancer and behavioral problem in children.   

·         offset color loss due to exposure to light, air, temperature extremes, moisture and storage conditions
·         correct natural variations in color
·         enhance colors that occur naturally

·         provide color to colorless and "fun" foods
Sometimes the aim is to simulate a color that is perceived by the consumer as natural.

The case of shoe dye in tamarind sweet - a personal experience

All of a sudden when answering the call of nature, I was alarmed to see the color of my urine bright red. I cried, Blood!

I tried to compose myself to be able to reach the hospital in the earliest possible time. But what surprised me at the same time was that my fingers were also stained red. I examined the “tamarind sweet” I had just eaten. I found the culprit - jubos, the dye used on shoes!

There are products made to appear like cocoa, coffee, orange, strawberry, grapes and the like, when in fact the ingredients are mainly sugar, artificial flavors and food dyes.

How many food preparations are artificially colored for better presentation? Since that time on I have become more careful with colored foods. Ube cake, anyone?

One test to know if a food color is artificial is that it is detected in the urine. Natural colors, on the other hand, are either degraded by our excretory system or absorbed as a useful nutrient, as in the case of the yellow pigment of corn which is carotene. Carotene brightens the skin, deepens the yellow color of egg yolk, and lends freshness in meat. Carotene and xanthophyll from carrots and squash, lycopene in tomato are useful to our body. They make us glow, so to speak, improve our vision, and fight off cancer.

There are some things to consider about food dyes, specially if you suspect a food or drink to be colored artificially.

Be familiar with the natural colors of fruits and other food products. There are rare ones though. For example, purple rice cake (puto) comes from a variety pirurutong or purple rice. Ordinary rice flour and ube flour produce the same color. This can be imitated with the use of purple dye.

Fruit juices carry dyes to enhance their natural colors. Example, calamansi juice is made to appear like lemon or orange. Softdrinks would look dull and unattractive without artificial colors. Dyes mask natural variations in color and enhances naturally occurring colors. The sparkle and crystalline color of wine may be the result of judicious color blending.
A typical food cart in Manila 
Processed foods like smoked fish and ham are colored, usually golden yellow, or deep brown to make them look attractive. I once observed in a factory the practice of spraying a solution of yellow pigment on smoked fish to make it look newly processed and the body fat visible.

Other uses of artificial color or dye are in medicine to protect flavors, and minerals and vitamins from damage by light. Thus multivitamins are usually colored usually with bright yellow which appears in urine. Colored coatings of medicines and drugs are used to monitor prescribed doses in patients.

Cloudifier to make vinegar look like Sukang Paumbong or sasa, or something natural, is actually adding a few drops of milk to a dilute solution of acetic acid. This overnight formulation is popular in the market, because it is cheap, but the truth is that glacial acetic acid is not good to health.
Easter eggs
Cakes and other bakery products may deceive the eye and even the palate. Nothing beats the icing of birthday and wedding cakes. Bakers as artists use colors perhaps more than the full spectrum of the rainbow. I am amazed at how they express their art with the colors of Marc Chagall's stained glass, Pablo Picasso's fresh abstracts, and Rembrandt's sunset and midnight hues. With red, yellow and blue - the primary colors - plus white, there are artists who can create all the colors they need in their masterpieces.

But we cannot mix food with art using artificial colors.

Fortunately we are among the riches countries when it comes to natural food colors and dyes - orange, red to purple from oranges, grapes and strawberry; green from the leaves of pandan (Pandanus odoratissimus) and green paddy rice (pinipig); dark red to black from the fruits of duhat and bignay; purple color from ube (Dioscorea alata); and golden yellow from mango, pineapple, and tumeric (Corcuma longa).

The list is virtually endless, if we iunclude colors from muscovado sugar, coffee, cacao, banana, mangosteen, avocado, nangka, and the like.

By the way, what is the most common source of natural color and dye?

It is achuete or anatto (Bixa orellana). See photo. Achuete is a small to medium size tree introduced from Mexico (achuete is an Aztec word) during the Spanish times. Today it is used to impart or improve the color and flavor of cheese, butter, yogurt, noodles, pasta, macaroni, and cakes and many confectionery products.

I cannot imagine if there is no achuete in batchoy, apretada, azucena, caldereta, paella, kare-kare, arroz valenciana, lechon, and many other dishes.

Let us avoid artificial food coloring. Here is a toast of red Basi wine. 

Allow me to post this news item on food dye published by Philippine Daily Inquirer on the Internet. 
 Artificial colors impart attractive presentation of processed food like bagoong. 

FDA warns vs cancer-causing food dye in candy, ‘gulaman’ ‘bagoong’
By Tina G Santos
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned the public about processed food products found positive for rhodamine-B, a cancer-causing substance found in coloring dye.

In an advisory posted on its website last week, the FDA said three of 34 food product samples it tested for nonpermissible colorants (NPC) were found positive for rhodamine-B.

According to the FDA, the samples it tested were taken from ambulant vendors, public markets, groceries and supermarkets in the National Capital Region and Central Visayas.

“Most of the samples were unregistered and noncompliant with food product labeling standards,” said FDA acting director general Kenneth Hartigan Go in the advisory.

Some of the products were icing candy from Cebu Crown Grocery, red gulaman from the Carbon Public Market and shrimp paste (labeled 7C’s) from Robinson’s Grocery in Talisay, Cebu.

“The food processors of the three products are in violation of the FDA Act of 2009 (Republic Act No. 9711) and the Consumer Act of the Philippines (RA 7394) on the adulteration of processed food,” said Go.

Go said the FDA Act of 2009 requires all locally manufactured and imported processed food products to be registered with the Food and Drug Administration.

“This requirement is in addition to the permits issued by the local government units (LGUs) and other government agencies,” he said.

Meanwhile, five other products that the FDA tested needed further confirmatory tests for the presence of NPC Sudan.

Rhodamine-B is a fluorescent dye used as a tracer in water and air flow studies, and in molecular and cell biology studies. It presents as a red to violet powder. It has been shown to be carcinogenic in mammalian models.

On the other hand, industrial grade Sudan dye is not permitted for use in food because it is toxic, carcinogenic and likely contains metals like mercury and arsenic. Sudan dyes are used in shoe and floor polish, solvents, oils, waxes and petrol.

The FDA advised consumers to buy processed food products from legitimate food establishments and outlets.

He urged consumers to report food processors using suspect food coloring additives.

NOTE: In another article researchers say there may be a link between artificial food dyes and behavioral problems in children with certain medical conditions.

Acknowledgement: Wikipedia

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Delectable Crab

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

There's perhaps no food compared to a fat crab. First, you must eat with both hands - not only fingers.  Second, you must face the risk of increasing your cholesterol level. Third, if you are allergic to crabs be sure you have a ready anti-histamine - and a car to take you fast to the nearest hospital.  Sixth, you must risk getting wounded by the sharp exoskeleton - hands and gums.  Lastly, check your bill first before ordering a second round. 

But, how do you know a fat crab from a lean one just by visual examination? 



These are photos of lean crabs. Discovery may be late, they are already on your plate. 
Not with these fat crabs, selected and caught in season.  The female has more aligi (orange fat), which can be harvested as luxury food like highly prized caviar.   


Leave it to the experts, they know what a fat crab looks like whether at the source or the market. Learn from them, give a helping hand instead, and be an apprentice. There are many indigenous skills not learned from school and home. 

Five guidelines when buying crabs.

1. Choose the female, the breast shield is broad, almost covering the whole ventral side, convex and full at spawning time.  

2. Knock the carapace (back) with the forefinger nail. A fat crab gives a full and deep thump, thump. A lean one is like a cymbal. 

3. The body is round and stuffed, so with the appendages and pincers. A healthy crab is likely a fat crab and vice versa. Careful, don't get your fingers caught by the pincers. 

4. Consult the calendar: crabs are fatter during new moon than in full moon. 

5. Newly molted crabs are likely fatter, and cleaning and eating are less troublesome.     
6. Never buy a dead crab - fat or lean. Tease to find out, if necessary.  Dead crabs readily deteriorate and become unpalatable. 

7.  There are different species of crabs.  Get the alimango (shown in these photos).  Alimasag are sea crabs, they are not as tasty as the alimango

8. Talangka is plentiful during the rainy season. They are sold live, by piece or kilo. Talangka is a delicacy at the grassroots. The criteria are the same when buying this midget crabs.  Cook with ginatan (coconut extract), a universal recipe. 

9. There are poisonous crabs, and there's no known antidote to crab poisoning.  The species with black tip claws is a warning.  Consult the experts - fisherfolks and vendors.   

10. Avoid buying at the sidewalk and along highway. You may fall unwary victim of underweighing, overpricing, and poor quality crabs, among other risks. Go to the wet market early. Find a suki from among the vendors.  

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Gypsy Air

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
Gypsy family on the move to the city


Faithful bullock (Sta Gertrudes breed)

Oh, how the children followed the gypsy cart,
       the city bred their eyes shine in awe;
the old remembering the rustic scenes of art,
       a spectacle of parade and show. 

I remember the lady gypsy of Notre Dame, 
       the sea gypsies and the nomads; 
how free, how simple they live sans destiny. 
       known only and guided by their gods.  

One afternoon the sound of greaseless wheel
       and hoof, cart creaking and rickety,
brought into my home the gypsy air of old, 
       giving life to legend and fantasy. ~

Dirge of the Pasig River

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

An estero of the Pasig River, Pasay, Metro Manila.
Photo by Mary Kathleen Manalastas, SPUQC

I am dying, Mother, my mother whose womb was

as virgin as the day I was born a rivulet to stream,
estero to a tributary that feeds the mighty sea,
as virgin as the Paradise of Milton's dream.

Mother, let me die - or let me sleep then forever,
for neither can I flow out to sea nor keep in the sun;
let me die with garbage and silently sink in the murk,
with foul gases, on thickening sludge, silt and sand.

I hear no songs anymore, Abelardo is long dead;
I see no living garlands, not a bird building nest
among lilies and floating kiapo, among the nilad,
pride of a race, woven into mats for lovely rest.


Ahoy there! Two children are staring at my water;
but they can't see what is inside me, I am as black,
as a dark night, but oh, how my heart longs for them!
I have lost all things good - even as a mirror I lack.

Mother, let me die, there's no more sense of living,
for I do not belong to humans anymore, I swear;
I'm no longer a part of creation, I'm but a stranger;
but my mother doesn't answer, she doesn't answer.~




Sunday, October 27, 2013

Halloween - celebration with the dead, ghosts and spirits

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
Merging of the real and imaginary. 
Talking with the dead. 

Remember our dead beloved, the unsung, unknown;
     catch up with time for our failed expression,
prayers unsaid, love denied,  gesture unrequited -
     day of the souls to amend our infraction.    
Transported to the land of the dead. 
 Treat or threat.
   Whose party? Where have all the people gone?
            Masks or real faces?


   Faces, faces, young and old,
  fair and coy and bold;
masks, masks, masks we are told,
sans feeling and cold. 
   The devil comes alive. 
    
The dead takes center stage. 


Come let's visit Dante's Inferno, and Milton's world,*
     call on Frankenstein,** his monstrous creation;
travel to Transylvania, track the undead Dracula;   
     join the dead, their ghosts in celebration. 

Good and evil for once their boundary open,
     so with that of heaven and hell we implore;
take the backseat apostasy, paganism alive!
     make haste, before Hades closes the door.   
- Dell H Grecia    

* Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained, epic by John Milton
** Frankenstein, novel by Mary Shelley

Thursday, October 24, 2013

UST GS: Growing Threats of Biological Warfare

Our ancestors were a lot happier than we are today

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

Throughout history and through countless generations our ancestors brought about a wealth of native knowledge and folk wisdom.

Like Lola Basiang relating folklore to children, we imagine a campfire, around it our ancestors exchanged knowledge and recounted experiences, with spices of imagination and superstition. It was a prototype open university.

Like Homer’s epics, Iliad and the Odessey, we can explore, retrieve and study knowledge in olden times through early writings, archeology, and interview with old folks. With modern science and technology, we can even create virtual reality scenarios on the screen and in dioramas, reliving the past and deliver them right in the living room and in the school.

But it is important to undertake the enormous task of gathering the fragments of knowledge transcended through our old folks. And before we can draw the threads of wisdom and weave them into a fabric we call science, we should be able to distinguish facts from myths, reality and imagination.

We know that rediscovering indigenous knowledge and folk wisdom enlarges and enhances our history and tradition. Even beliefs and practices, which we may not be able to explain scientifically, can be potential materials for research. And if in our judgment they fail to meet such test, still they are valuable to us because they are part of our culture and they contribute immensely to the quaintness of living.

There is a beautiful novel Swiss Family Robinson written by Johann Wyss nearly two centuries ago. It is about a family stranded in an unknown island somewhere near New Guinea and during the many years they lived in the island, they learned to adapt to a life entirely disconnected from society and devoid of the amenities of modern living. When finally they were rescued, the family chose to stay in the island – except one son who decided to go back to Europe to study and promised to return.

There are stories of similar plot such as Robinson Crusoe, a classic novel by Daniel Defoe, and recently, Castaway, a modern version of a lone survivor shown on the screen. We can only imagine what we could have done if we were the survivors ourselves.

But to many of us, particularly the young generation, such stories seem to have lost their appeal, more so their relevance. It is as if we have outlived tradition in such a manner that anything which is not modern does not apply any longer. What aggravates it is that as we move in to cities we lose our home base and leave behind much of our native culture. There is in fact an exodus to live in cities, whether in ones own country or abroad, and the lure is so great nearly half of the world’s population is now living in urban centers. Ironically the present population explosion is not being absorbed by the rural areas but by cities, bloating them into megapolises where millions of people as precariously ensconced. And now globalization is bringing us all to one village linked in cyberspace and shrunk in distance by modern transportation. We have indeed entered the age of global homogenization and worldwide acculturation.

Maybe it is good to look back and compare ourselves with our ancestors from the viewpoint of how life is well lived. Were our ancestors a happier lot? Did they have more time for themselves and their family, and more things to share with their community? Did they live healthier lives? Were they endowed - more than we are - with the good life brought about by the bounty and beauty of nature?

These questions bring us to analyze ten major concerns about living. In the midst of socio-cultural and economic transformation from traditional to modern to globalization - an experience that is sweeping all over the world today - these concerns serve as parameters to know how well we are living with life. As the reader goes over the various topics in this book he can’t help but relate them with his own knowledge and experiences, and in fact they way he lives. This is essentially the purpose of this book.

1. Simple lifestyle
2. Environment-friendly
3. Peace of mind
4. Functional literacy
5. Good health and longer active life
6. Family and community commitment
7. Self-managed time
8. Self-employment
9. Cooperation (bayanihan) and unity
10. Sustainable development

I have been able to gather some traditional practices and beliefs and put these into writing. Primarily these are ethnic or indigenous, and certainly there are commonalities with those in other countries, particularly in Asia, albeit of their local versions and adaptations. It leads us to appreciate with wonder the vast richness of cultures shared between and among peoples and countries even in very early times. Ironically modern times have overshadowed tradition, and many of these beliefs and practices have been either lost or forgotten, and even those that have survived are facing endangerment and the possibility of extinction. It is a rare opportunity and privilege to gather and analyze traditional beliefs and practices. It is to the old folks that I owe much gratitude and respect because they are our living link of the past, they are the Homer of Iliad and Odyssey of our times, so to speak. It is to them that this book is sincerely dedicated.~


Rare Philippine Plants: Kamagong, Indigo, and Gogo


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


Kamagong, the wood of mabolo (Diospyros discolor) is perhaps the hardest wood on earth. This is followed by the exquisite black wood, ebony or balatinao. Old wooden houses have stood for decades because of their sturdy posts made of solid molave or sagat (Vitex parviflora). Wood planks that make the broad, shiny floor of Spanish houses in Vigan are made of molave, guijo (Shorea guiso, and yakal (Shorea sp), which are all species of local hard wood. The chin rest and fingerboard of old classical violins are made of ebony. Furniture made of ebony is specially made and very expensive.

These kinds of wood have withstood the elements of time and the strong mandibles of termites, the nemesis of wood materials. Beside their genetic makeup, they grow very slowly so that their lignin cells are firm and compact. Seldom can we find these woods anymore. They are now in the list of endangered species and our laws prohibit their cutting.
Ripe fruits of mabolo or kamagong has a sweet taste with pleasant aroma.
Whenever we hear the analogy, “like a molave,” we imagine how strong and determined that leader is – now an endangered species. Why not plant one of these trees today?

Añil or azul makes white clothes whiter.
When we were kids studying in a catholic high school in Vigan, our rector was very particular with the whiteness of our uniform. Our old folks did not find it a problem at all, even without today’s detergents and whitening agents. All they did was to add a little añil or azul to the final rinse, and presto, our uniforms would be gleaming white in the sun.
Indigo plant
Añil or azul is a natural dye derived from Indigofera hirsuta or I. tinctoria, which farmers plant as green manure. It is from the plant that the dye is also called indigo. During the Spanish period, añil was commercially produced in the Ilocos and exported to Mexico and Europe via the Galleon Trade. Today, the ruins of giant fermenting vats are still found.

Indigofera (tayum Ilk) is a large genus of over 750 species of flowering plants belonging to the family Fabaceae. They are widely distributed throughout the tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Wikipedia

There is a revival of natural dye which include indigo, tumeric or yellow ginger (Curcuma longa), and pomegranate (Punica granatum). A relatively unknown group – Handloom Weavers Development in Kerala, India, has discovered natural dyes as a solution to sufferers of allergies such as skin disorders, and asthma. Natural dyes even have direct medicinal value. A common practice in Ilocos to relieve mumps is to paint añil on the swollen area.

Old folks have been using gogo plant  long before commercial shampoo was developed.
Here is an account of Dr. William H. Brown, a botanist during the commonwealth era concerning Entada phaseoloides (gogo).

“Gogo is used extensively in the Philippines and other Oriental countries for washing hair and sold as an ingredient for hair tonics. It is prepared by cutting the mature vine in lengths of 10 to 100 centimeters. It is then pounded into thin, flat strips and dried. When soaked in water and rubbed, gogo produces a lather which cleanses the scalp very effectively. The active principle is saponin.”

Today gogo has great business potential as people are shifting from commercial shampoo to natural ones. The “battle of shampoos” has instead driven people to look for natural, cheap and reliable alternatives, among them gogo, rice straw shampoo, alovera (Aloe vera) and the old reliable coconut oil (now coconut virgin oil). Gogo strips can be bought in herbal shops and around Quiapo church in Manila. Commercial planting of gogo has started in the uplands of Cavite and Batangas. ~

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Down memory lane we all go

Down memory lane we all go
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

The memory pattern is like a hill. We go up gathering memories along the way and storing them to the summit which is the peak of our career, the building of family, the prime of life, the fullest expression of intelligence, the quest for honor.
Mnemosyne, Greco-Roman goddess of memory The goddess Mnemosyne (memory personified) places her hand on the back of a man's head, symbolically aiding his memory. The figures are in a banquet scene. 
Then as we face middle age onto the golden years of our 
lives, our memory fades and our capacity to gather and keep new ones is no longer as easy as before. 

While this memory pattern is common, it varies from person to person.  Here are scenarios for analysis and comparison. 

There are people who have photographic memory.  Napoleon Bonaparte won his battles because of his rare gift of cartographic memory.  He was always ahead of his enemies and knew well the details of the battleground. Musical geniuses like Mozart could play a musical composition they heard only once.  

When I was a student my professor in botany, Dr Fernando de Peralta, used to walk the same lane I took on my way home, and he would point at the trees in a sort of cursory test. Scientific names are of course in Latin, so with their families and orders. Before I finished college I had "perfected' classifying some 100 trees on the campus. Today after 50 years my plant taxonomy is still good. 

A friend confided to me he bought aquarium fish and absentmindedly tossed it into the ref. Then he rushed back and saved the poor fish in the nick of time. I compare it with my experience of  forgetting my driver's license - twice or thrice -  and coming back for it before reaching the highway. Kabaw, young critics would say.  But wait, they'll certainly experience the same incipient memory loss when they reach fifty or sixty. 

Age-related decline in memory in well illustrated in a popular TV advertisement: a grandfather interchanging the names of his grand daughters, Gina and Karen. In real life this grandfather in his younger years was a popular actor and respectable lawyer. How can one be reduced to virtual oblivion in very old age!  But even younger people would commit the same error, calling persons wrong names, not remembering many things that surround them.

Dementia or Alzheimer's can totally erase memory, like a computer losing all stored information. President Ronald Reagan towards the end of his life remembered little - if anything at all - about having been a president of the US. A cousin of mine said, "Your manang can't remember anything."  She was in her eighties.  And yet another cousin about to turn ninety has still a vivid memory. As a retired biology teacher she can still carry conversation citing scientific terms and new developments in molecular biology and evolution.

Why professors are retained after their retirement is a manifestation to their unfailing mental capacity.  "It's like muscles regularly flexed and put to use," says one 75-year old professor emeritus at the University of Santo Tomas. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow the author of Hiawatha and Evangeline stayed with Cambridge to the end of his long life.  Jules Verne continued to write novels even at a very old age, so with Charles Dickens, England's greatest storyteller.  Pablo Picasso the greatest modern painter worked in his studio well into his nineties, producing hundreds of now famous paintings. 

More and more people are trying anything to sharpen their brain, more so to the aging brain. The idea is to fortify the brain with more blood to supply oxygen.  Ginkgo biloba a living fossil tree is among the commercialized products. Vitamins, folic acid, lecithin, are also thought to improve memory.  There is also a theory that Vitamin E protects brain cells from free radicals. And know one knows if anti-inflammatory drugs will help slow down memory loss.  The truth is, there is little or no scientific proof to back up the claimed benefits of these memory potions.

Computers make up for replacements of memory, they in fact bring forth needed materials which the brain processes. This is prelude to artificial intelligence.  In the future, fiction ideas may come out to be true like Flash Gordon paving man's conquest of outer space, and Jules Verne's conquest in the deep of the sea.    

Information is much easier to access on a wide range of subjects in encyclopedic volumes.  At fingertips anything from history to futuristic topics, literature in various movements, so with arts, visual and textual. Global positioning system (GPS) would locate places instantaneously. The world is in our palm. Which reminds us of William Blake's famous quotation:


To see the world in a grain of sand,
       and a heaven a wide flower;
hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
       and eternity in an hour.   

We are led to a false path in our postmodern world.  Man cannot live without valuing memory to the fullest. Memory captures the stimuli for senses: touch, sound, sight, taste and smell, storing them in a bank that supplies our happiness and joy, challenges to win, compassion for the vanquished, values the beautiful things we wish to re-create into masterpieces that speak of a beautiful humanity. 

And yet, we grieve for things we remember to be painful, things we wish we had long buried in the past.  Memory kept us from achieving more, memories attached to anger and hatred, of greed and indifference. Loss of memory has a reward - kindness to the restless mind, heart and spirit. It is Nature's own design to keep this earth a better place to live in. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

We are living in a gas chamber

The city is a giant dome that traps a potpourri of gases and particles 
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

There is no escape of the many substances that go with the air we breath. Everyday we take into our lungs gases and particles in varying kinds, amounts and combinations.  Many of these are deleterious to health, in the short and long run. 
If you live in the city you are taking these in large dosages as compared to those who live on the countryside, for the obvious reason that the country air is cleaner and that the body has more chance to adjust and recover.  Deadly smog.
  1. Carbon Dioxide
  2. Carbon Monoxide 
  3. Sulfur Dioxide
  4. Methane 
  5. Ammonia
  6. Dioxin
  7. Carbon particles
  8. Unburnt carbon compound 
  9. Paint gases
  10. Tobacco smoke 
  11. Toxic metals like lead
  12. Asbestos 
  13. Vulcanized rubber 
  14. Pesticide
  15. Cosmetic aerosols
  16. Spores of microorganisms
  17. Radioactive materials 
  18. Dust mites and microscopic organisms
  19. Water vapor
  20. Mixed odors, pollen to salts, silica, road dust 
First thing the doctor asks is, "Do you smoke?" The cigarette has 101 substances that enters the body, from tar to nicotine to additives.

When the shoulder becomes square, suspect some respiratory disorder.  This is a warning sign not to get too close to a potential disease carrier.

Those coughs often dismissed as "nothing" may be allergy, or incipient symptoms of disease. Beware.

Why are there people, many in their younger years, queuing for organ donation at the Kidney Institute and Heart Center? 


Cirrhosis of the liver, damaged kidney, early Alzheimer's and Parkinson's  and the like are traced to the air we breathe, moreso with unhealthy eating habits and lifestyle.

Abnormalities of children are traced to a number of these substances which are mutagenic and carcinogenic, among other deleterious consequences.

Mental disorders, psychological symptoms from anxiety to depression to suicide may be traced to many of these materials, like lead causing mental illness. 
                           Country Life, mural painting by AVR
The rise of clinical and hospital cases, many cannot be diagnosed, while others are compounded by factors which make diagnosis and treatment difficult.   

The air that we breathe, the water we drink, the food we take, are but one - they form a cycle.  Example: Gases in air are dissolved by rain, fall to the ground, absorbed by plants, taken by animals, before reaching our dining table. 


 And yet  the snowball effect continues as postmodernism has taken over humans their ability to control their lives and the destiny of their own cultures - a syndrome that negates man's dream of the Good Life.                          
                 
It is a fallacy that in spite of these we seem to be living normal lives, and many of us even succeed in reaching the golden years of our lives, and even pass the centenarian mark.  

The truth is that more and more people are unhappy, more people are dying young, many are orphans not only of the home but of society, while countless just continue on living.  

The failure of technology at the end seems that modern man has created his own noosphere, including the path of his very destruction. ~ 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

"Angels just pass by, Sel." - a tribute to the enduring friendship of Dr Anselmo S Cabigan and the author



Dr Anselmo Set Cabigan, PhD visits pine saplings
in Lipa Batangas. Below, he examines the flower
of the enigmatic pongapong (Amorpophallus
campanolatus) at the former SPUQ EcoSanctuary QC. 
On-site lecture in biology at the former SPUQC Museum


This article is tribute to the friendship of Dr. Anselmo Set Cabigan and the author. Both were classmates from BS to Ph.D   They worked together for many years until their retirement from the government, and the academe.
Dr Abe V Rotor

All the years, to describe you, let me count the ways:
But first, admit your age, and heed the one who says.

Our roads crossed time and again - perhaps the eighth,
Under any umbrella, any fort of service and faith;

A tree you planted, its boughs filled with children,
In its shade, old and young call each other brethren;

A field of grass undulating in whispers and in song
Of hopes and dreams among the beloved throng;

A plow, you're the man behind a home and nation,
A computer, cyberspace its eye and its bastion.

Nata to leather, fruit to wine, microbes to food,
Work of a goodhearted genius working under the hood.

Busy feet, busy hands, bound in thought and sinew,
Work, work, work - whatever may be your view.

And play? And jokes? You've got a lot, too.
Cracking one, and I saw how a whole class blew.

Child of Nature years ago, but never getting old,
Though your hair is vanishing, laurels in its hold;

The span of time and space, you now sit on its shed,
Furrows on your forehead, your vision dims ahead.

If for any reason you keep on searching, never tiring,
It's because the stars shine far out into the morning,

And ideals and truth are not the same, are they?
There are no answers - yet you wish there may.

In a perfect place and time, here and beyond SPUQ,
Angels just pass by Sel, we can only guess they do.~


Left: Author and Dr Cabigan inspect a Green Revolution school project in the seventies; pose after attending the Ramon Magsaysay Awards ceremonies in 2009.  

Sugar solution extends the life of cut flowers.

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

Pulsing for roses is done by immersing the stem ends for one to 

three hours in 10% sugar solution. Photo credit Wikipedia

Don't cut the flowers, if you can help it. Have potted flowering plants instead. To ensure continuous flowering give your plants proper care under suitable condition. Orchid painting in acrylic shows how delicate orchid flowers are. Don't detach the flowers from the plant. Display as a whole plant undisturbed. After the occasion, take it back to its original plant for recovery. 

In horticulture, they call this pulsing, a technique of providing nourishment and extending the shelf life of cut flowers. This technique lengthens vase life twice as much. It allows buds to open and postpones stem collapse, while it enhances freshness of the opened flowers.

Pulsing for roses is done by immersing the stem ends for one to three hours in 10% sugar solution, and for gladiolus 12 to 24 hours in 20% sugar solution. Daisies, carnation, chrysanthemums, and the like are better handled if harvested and transported in their immature stage, then opened by pulsing. It is best to cut the stem at an angle, dipped 6 to 12 hours in 10% sugar solution compounded with 200 ppm of 8-hydroxyquinoline sulfate, 100 ppm citric acid. Best results are obtained at cool temperature and low relative humidity.