Monday, March 31, 2014

Images of Nature in Mural

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, [] 8-9 evening class Monday to Friday

Wall mural (8 ft x 16 ft) St Paul University Quezon City by the author, 2000
      Nature represents the idea of the entire universe in a state of perfection.  Nature is one: it unites heaven and earth, connecting human beings with the stars and bringing them all together into a single family.  Nature is beautiful; it is ordered.  A divine law determines its arrangement, namely the subordination of the means to the end, and the parts to the whole.

      After putting down my brush, I took a view of the mural from a distance.  The scene – unspoiled nature – one spared from the hands of man and typified by the tropical rainforest, flowed out from a wall that was previously white and empty.

      In the course of painting the mural, which took all of seven days and in the days following its unveiling, I took notice of the reactions of viewers. It must be the stillness of the scene, freshness of its atmosphere, and its apparent eccentricity that attract passersby as if in search of something therapeutic. It seems to slow down busy feet, soothing tired nerves. There is something I thought was mysterious beyond the levels of aesthetics. For the huge scene is a drama of life completely different from city living.  It is respite.  It is transformation from concrete to greenery, from cityscape to landscape.

      Yet, I found it difficult to give it a title and an explanation that captures both its essence and message. This time many ideas crowded my mind. At the start of my painting labors, the challenge was how and where to start painting. Now that it is completed, what else is there to say after one has “said” it all in colors and lines, hues and shadows, perspective and design? What more is there to declare for after the last page of a book?  For a painting, it is the same.

      Relaxation did not come easy for me after many hours of concentrating on my subject, dealing with a fast-drying medium of acrylic.  What made it more challenging was the unending attempt to capture those fleeting impressions and recollections that pervaded my mind as I painted. I then took a pen and slowly wrote my thoughts. From the mural, I saw the scenery of my childhood on the farm, views of my travels here and abroad, imagery from my readings, and views drawn out like a thread from the mass of a golf ball. It was imagery and memory working jointly.

                                    Tropical Rainforest Model

     I chose the tropical rainforest scenery since it is the richest of all ecosystems in the world.  The Philippines, being one of the countries endowed with this natural wealth is a treasure, indeed. For this reason, I believe that, the tropical rainforest closely resembles the description of the biblical paradise. It is not only a living bank of biological diversity; it is the most important sanctuary of living matters on earth.

      To paint such a big wall is no easy task. It is not unusual to face a blank wall, literally speaking, and not knowing what to do first even with all the colors and tools on hand – and a predetermined topic in mind.  Shall I start at the center and move outward, or from both sides slowly progressing inward?  Or do I divide the wall into parts, working on them one by one, then unifying them at the end?  


…and Heaven and Nature Sing

      Christmas was already in the air and the Siberian winds were bringing in the chills. Carol music was now being played in malls, schools and homes. I was engrossed in my work when some students, watching me paint, sang a familiar song. On this particular occasion, something about the song chimed inside me, directing me towards the central theme of my mural.
“…and heaven and nature sing,
and heaven and nature sing,
and heaven, and heaven and nature sing.”
                                                                 - Joy to the World

     What does this mean? Is it the idea of nature representing the entire universe in a state of perfection?  Or is it nature as one?  Does it unite heaven and earth?  Does it connect human beings and the galaxies as one family?

      Little did I know of my ecology.  As a subject I teach in college and in the graduate school I depend much on formulas and equations, principles and case studies. My knowledge about the environment is structured and formal. I use module maps or course syllabi based on accepted teaching techniques and references.  My approach was comparative analysis. I was a judge of the beautiful and ugly, the do’s and don’ts.  At times I am a Utopian; at others, conformist.

The mural graces the cover of this full color book of meditation, published by UST Publishing House 2003

      Little did I realize that the order of Nature is not merely determined by natural laws applied as ecological tenets, but as a divine law which determines its arrangement, the subordination of the means to the end, and  the assimilation of the parts to the whole. Many of us are ignorant of this law, or if we know it, seem to forget or disregard it as we relentlessly work to exploit the earth.

      In our apparent failure to preserve nature, perhaps it is time to look at ecology with the essence of this popular Christmas song – a song that makes everyday of the year, Christmas. Ecology is “heaven and nature singing together.” Only then can we truly understand the term, balance of nature – a kind of dynamic equilibrium that leads to homeostasis where there is stability among interdependent groups that characterize natural processes, and the period in which they take place.  The ultimate conclusion is always a balanced system.  We have to look beyond books to understand biological diversity, and its application in nature, to find the common phrase: In diversity there is unity. The general rule is that the wider the diversity is in terms of number of living species, and in terms of the number of natural species and their habitats, the more closely knit the biosphere becomes, resulting in a richer, more stable environment. Undoubtedly, all this is part of a grand design inspired divinely.
                                        A Hole in the Sky

      Looking at the mural from a distance one notices a darkened part of the sky, apparently a hole (though this is not the ozone layer pierced by CFC pollution). It gives one a feeling that it is a tunnel to infinity as if to link both earth and heaven.  Through this hole, one envisions a Higher Principle. From the foreground, which is the placid stream of a downward meandering river, its tributaries and banks lined with trees and thickets, the eye soon reaches the forested hills and mountains shrouded by clouds.

      But it does not end there. Here the cloud is a curtain laden with the radiance of the sun, and the life-giving provenance of rain, useless each without the other for life on earth to exist. This is the crossroad.  The cloud opens with a backdrop of infinity.  The universe, whose limit is unknown, bursts open a foreground that reveals a whole drama of life on earth.  After that, the eye repeats the journey.  In the process, the viewer becomes sensitive to the details of the painting. He searches for things familiar, or situations that later become a new experience.
Creatures in the Forest

      Creatures in general are not as visible as they appear in books and on the screen.  They blend with their surroundings mainly for predatory anticipation and protective camouflage.  But there are other reasons too, that are not well understood.  Take the case of the butterflies. Their beauty is extravagant for their basic function as pollinators.  Fish jump for mere pleasure, dragonflies have wings that split light into prisms. Birds stay in the sky longer for the sheer joy of flying, and not just to cruise in search of a prey. 

     Among the animals suggested to me while painting the mural are flying lemur, Philippine monkey, heron, monitor lizard, boa constrictor and hornbill. I painted these - and many more, the way I imagined them in their natural habitat. I put a touch of Noah’s Ark, painting them in pairs.  For the rodents, ducks and doves I made them in amiable groupings that exude a familial atmosphere.

      Whenever I see viewers seriously searching for these creatures with walking fingers, I am tempted to add to the collection of creatures, making them even more difficult to find. But that might change the ambiance to fun and puzzle solving, rather than of meditation and recollection.
                                          People in the Mural

      The trees and the massiveness of the scenery dwarf the characters in the mural. They appear mindless of events and time. They care not for the chores of the day. Those who are engrossed fishing with a simple hook-and-line do not show excitement even as they land their catch.  Others patiently wait for a bite.  There is a sense of tranquility and peace to all characters, whether they are promenading or just passing the time away. Their faces show only the slightest hint of anger or sadness.

      I noticed viewers trying to identify themselves with the characters of the mural.  Some construction workers envision themselves fishing. High school students are drawn by the promenades. But there are those who simply imagine themselves part of the scene.  “This place is familiar to me,” one would say, apparently recalling provincial life. “We have flying lemurs in Davao,” says another. 

      Where does the water flow, and what does the mural mean to us? Water is everywhere.  It is free to flow.  Tributaries abound as if there were no limit. Trees are everywhere and far into the backdrop is a vast virgin forest. There is no sign of man’s destructive hand. At the foreground is a placid pond where Nymphaea and lotus grow.  It is in contrast to the lively pulse of the river. This is a corner where life is peaceful and serene. It is here that we draw strength in facing the river and beyond.

What really is the message of the mural?

      Quite often, images of nature enrapture us.  These are reminiscences of childhood, a re-creation of a favorite spot we may have visited or seen, or products of the imagination greatly influenced by the society we live in.

      These images reflect a deep-seated biological longing to be part of nature.  Putting it in the biblical sense, it is a natural searching for the lost paradise.  They are a refuge from city living, a respite, and an escape from the daily grind.

      But these images do not only tell us of what we are missing.  Rather, it reminds us what we are going to miss, perhaps forever, if we do not heed nature’s signal towards a fast declining ecosystem.  If we do not change our way of life from too much dependence on consumerism, to one more closely linked to conservation of nature, we may end up building memories and future archives of a lost world.

      The warning is clear.  The painting challenges everyone to do his part to save Mother Earth so that her beauty is not only kept in the form of images, but a scenery of real life enjoyed by us and future generations. ~

NOTE: The mural is presently in state of disrepair due to leaking roof and accumulation of moisture in the concrete wall. This article is dedicated to all those who helped me in making this mural, particularly to Sister Teresita Bayona, SPC, then college president of St Paul College QC. The mural has the size of approximately three standard plywood. 

We are breathing bad air!

We are breathing bad air!
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
 Smoke belching vehicles - unstoppable
 Dumpsites - breeding place of disease, poisonous and obnoxious gases

Bad air days (BAD)

Bad air accumulates and moves, such as the case over Hong Kong. Bad air moves in two directions - to Bombay, India; and to neighboring Guangdong where pollution meets and mixes over the Pearl River and forms a shroud as it meets the sea. Similar cases occur over Beijing, Tokyo and San Francisco. The stale air hangs as an inversion layer practically choking the city.

Rapid economic growth has led to record levels of pollution, producing filthy air rising and spreading over highly industrial centers and densely populated cities. Here power plants, factories and vehicles release pollutants into the air, and as the sun heats up the ground, the polluted air rises. But polluted air cools quickly over water and sinks to the surface and disperses. Without strong wind to clear it away, the pollution mix can build up over time, leading to BAD (bad air days).

What is in the polluted air?

Sulfur Dioxide is produced by coal-burning power plants and heavy industry. Effects: reduces lung function, exacerbates wheezing and shortness of breath. Builds acid rain with other gases.

Nitrogen Dioxide comes from emissions of vehicles and power plants. Effects: helps form smug, exacerbates asthma and increases chances of respiratory infections.

Respirable suspended particulates. These tiny particles are created chiefly by diesel exhaust and coal-burning power plants. Effects: can penetrate deep into lungs and aggravate serious respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

Ozone is formed by the reaction in sunlight of volatile organic compounds and CFCs that primarily come from cars, and household byproducts. Effects: causes chest pain and coughing, aggravates asthma.

Hydrogen sulfide, ammonia gas, elevated CO2 from piggeries and ranches, swamps and polluted rivers and lakes. Algal bloom contributes significant amounts of these gases.

Suspended dusts as what happens during sandstorms and volcanic eruptions, such as what happened during the Pinatubo eruption, and recently, in Iceland and Brazil. Remember the Dust Bowl of the Dakotas in the thirties when the air became was loaded with dusts which lasted for weeks.

Dioxin, the most poisonous substance ever formulated by man is in the air since plastic was discovered. Pastics are the most popular material used in the household, industry and agriculture. Dioxin is produced by burning plastics. With increasing use of pesticides, the air is getting thicker with chlorinated hydrocarbons, organophosphates, and other harmful residues.

Radiation is the result of fallout from nuclear accidents like what happened in Fukushima, Japan, in March this year, and in Chernobyll in Kiev twenty years ago, not to mention the Three-Mile nuclear incident in the US in the eighties.

Pathogens - Spores of disease-causing organisms that infect not only humans but animals and plants as well, ride on air current, and on particulates suspended in air. Thus the hypothesis that epidemic diseases move on air has strong scientific evidences.

Are we safe inside our schools and houses?

Bad air builds up surepticiously in airconditioned halls and rooms. Don't be deceived by the comfort of coolness lulling you to sleep. Defective and leaking aircon units virtually make the room a gas chamber. There are cases of death due to poisonous gases from leaking aircon.

Defective exhaust or overload results in buildup of Carbon Dioxide and its more poisonous cousin, Carbon Monoxide (CO).

When students become inattentive and drowsy, yawning, complaining of headache, nausea, and the like, suspect the air conditoning unit as the culprit - and the classroom heavy with bad air.
As a teacher, when confronted with this situation, immediately institute these measures.
  • Give the class a break. A recess outside the classroom is preferred.
  • Open all windows and doors
  • Check the aircon, the exhaust fan with the aircon technician
  • Inform management.
  • Give sufficient break during brownout
Bad air inside rural Asian homes kills hundreds of thousands a year. The most poisonous atmosphere in the Asian region is found not only in rapidly modernizing cities like New Delhi or Beijing but inside the kitchens. Millions of families heat their abodes and cook in open fires that belch CO and other noxious fumes at levels up to 5000 times the international safety. Families and children spend hours each day in poorly ventilated homes and kitchens. Although this is as old as humankind, living in tight quarters and poverty have aggravated the situation.

Solution: improved stove, more efficient with least pollution. Improved stoves are subsidized by governments such as in China and India, which also back us the campaign by proper education, and strict pollution control laws.

And lastly, have trees and plants around the house, on backyards and sidewalks, on idle lots and parks to increase Oxygen level and cool the surroundings. But never keep plants inside your house, and never in your bedroom. At night plants give off CO2 as they, like other organisms, respire. In our knowledge of photosysthesis, the dark phase of this biological process takes place at night. ~

Rich Flora of Guimaras Island

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

 Euphorbia (Euphorbia splendens)

Red kalachuchi (Plumera rubra)

Pandakaking tsina (Ervatamia divaricata)

 Water plant (Philodendron hastatum)
 Fire tree (Delonix regia)

Daisy (Gerbera jamesonii)

Doña Aurora (Mussaenda philippica var aurorarae)

 Lantana (Lantana camara)

Yellow  gummamela (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)
Red gummamela (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)

Gummamela (Hibiscus schizopetalus)


 Variegated gummamela (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)

Lobsterclaw (Heliconia acuminata)

Anahaw (Livistonia acuminata)

 Powderpuff lily (Haemanthus multiflorus)

Beach hymenocallis (Hymenocallis litoralis) / Spider lily (Crinum asiaticum)

  Garden asparagus (Asparagus officinales)

Croton (Codiaeum variegatum)
Croton (Codiaeum variegatum)

Ripe fruits of pandakaki (Tabernamontana pandakaki)

Entangled liana forms a natural border and fence 

Developing countries lead ban of plastic bags, will advanced countries follow?

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, [] 8-9 evening class Monday to Friday

Plastics are the Number One waste in modern life. They are the most extravagantly used everyday item in households and establishments. They come in cheap, easy and convenient. Yet plastics can outlive a generation, two or three. Scientists predict the life span of some plastics with the life of the earth.

Plastics are culprits of flooding, asphyxiation of fish and children, allergy and asthma, cancer and plasticosis, hormone imbalance leading to birth defects and third sex, species extinction. There are more plastics fished from the sea than fish.

Plastic bags may help maintain the freshness of vegetables, but only for some time because heat builds up and moisture is trapped that favors fungi and bacteria that cause deterioration, and decay.  

Sling plastic bag is practical and durable.  It is ideal for fruits and vegetables, and dry goods, too.  
It is convenient to use in the market, office, school and the like. 

There are specific uses of plastic such as in keeping food in the freezer. It is recommended however, that instead of using plastic bags, covered trays be used instead.

Plastic bags are now outlawed, starting in the "Third World" and creeping slowly to advanced countries. Now, this is a new twist. Take a look at these pioneers.
  • Philippines (Lucban, Quezon 2008; Muntinlupa, Metro Manila 2011)
  • India (New Delhi 2009; Mumbai, Pradesh 2003, Karwar 2010, Tirumala and Rajasthan 2010)
  • Bangladesh (Dhaka, 2003)
  • South Africa, 2003
  • Rwanda, 2005
  • Zanzibar, 2006
  • Tanzania, 2006
  • USA (San Francisco, 2006)
  • Great Britain (Modbury, 2007
  • China, 2008
  • Mexico, 2009
  • Burma (Rangoon, 2009)
  • Italy, 2011
Countries that ban and/or tax plastic bags are Ireland 2002, Belgium 2007, New Zealand 2009, Kenya 2007, Uganda 2007.

There are more and more supermarkets, school campuses, offices, and communities that ban plastic bags. If your school and community have not joined the plastic-bag ban, initiate the movement. Take a look at these activities.

1. Checkpoint at the school gate. No Styropore/stryrofoam for pack foods.
2. Plastic bottles bin for immediate collection to delivery to recycling plant.
3. Recycle plastics and non-biodegradable materials, like bayong (bulk bag from tetra packs, see in this Blog)
4. No burning of plastic materials policy; the smoke contains dioxin, carcinogenic and the most poisonous substance on earth. Fumes are more poisonous than cyanide.
5. Plant-based substitutes from pandan (Lucban, Quezon), buri, nipa, anahaw, coconut leaves, banana stalk, etc.
6. Encourage local industries using environment-friendly substitutes, like subsidy and awards.

Lastly, and the most practical, bring your own container: glass bottles, canisters, glazed jars, green bags, etc.

Congratulations and acknowledgement: City of Muntinlupa, Philippine Daily Inquirer January 30, 2011

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Our Promising Labrador-Siberian Dog

Our Labrador-Siberian Dog 
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
Chicklet is a cross of Labrador Retriever and Siberian Husky.  Carlo walks Chicklet regularly in the neighborhood.  
 A pet dog needs a spacious and well-ventilated, safe and secure pen.
To be the master of your dog; it must recognize you as head of the pack.  

If you receive a gift - a puppy half-Siberian, half-Labrador, what would you do?

You will like it, Papa, said Marlo my eldest boy who came for a visit, handing over the shy innocent baby canine. And who wasn't glad in the family?

I imagined, remembering some movies I saw, working dogs up in the Arctic, pulling sleds the way bullocks do in the tropics, or reindeer in the Lapland. Dogs retrieving ducks during hunting season. She will grow big and useful, Papa. Marlo assured me, now in my past seventies. Maybe I thought I would be needing a companion dog, not necessary a working dog; a watchdog at least.  

Just like Nikko, our Doberman for 15 years that died three years ago, Leo my youngest boy, was in approval. I'll take care of her, Papa. And took the shy puppy into his lap.  Let's think of a name. We looked for a name in the calendar.  St Bernard. No, that's another breed.  St. Gertrudes.  No, that's a breed of cattle. Let's just call her Chicklet.  Why not Pepsi, it's easier to pronounce and to call. 

Since then everyone called her Chicklet.  Quite often I mistakenly called her Pepsi, and she would likewise respond. Mackie, our baby grand daughter was simply amazed. Until it got vaccinated from rabies we kept Chicklet isolated. Her home? The pen of our late Nikko. Oversize for a puppy.

A month passed, she doubled in size. Three months.  She was as big as our Ten-Ten-Ten, an Askal dog that found refuge in our home on the tenth of October 2010.  Hence his name.
Perfect playmates.  Neither one wins nor loses. 

She's now on her fifth month.  She has grown big and strong.  I wonder what make a crossbreed special.  So I did not research.

The Labrador dog in Chicklet began to show. 

The Labrador Retriever, also known as The Labrador or Lab, is one of several kinds of retrievers, a type of gun dog, even-tempered and well-behaved around young children and the elderly. Labradors are athletic, playful, and the most popular breed of dog by registered ownership in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. 

A favorite assistance dog breed in these and other countries, Labradors are frequently trained to aid people who are blind and people with autism, act as therapy dogs, and perform screening and detection work for law enforcement and other official agencies. They are prized as sporting and waterfowl hunting dogs. England is the country of origin of the Labrador. (Wikipedia)

Every time  Leo Carlo (photos) would take Chicklet for a walk in the neighborhood, heads turned to inquire, others would guess - Siberian Husky.  Leo would just nod.  What is it in Chicklet that is Siberian?
The Siberian Husky or "Sibirsky husky" (Russian) is a medium to large, dense-coat working dog breed that originated in north-eastern Siberia, recognizable by its thickly furred double coat, sickle tail, erect triangular ears, and distinctive markings.

Huskies are an active, energetic, and resilient breed whose ancestors came from the extremely cold and harsh environment of the Siberian Arctic. Siberian Huskies were bred by the Chukchiof Northeastern Asia to pull heavy loads on long distances through difficult conditions. The dogs were imported into Alaska and later spread into the United States and Canada as sled dogs and later as family pet and show dogs . 

Breeds descending from the Eskimo dog or Qimmiq were once found throughout the Northern Hemisphere from Siberia to Canada, Alaska, Greenland, Labrador, and Baffin Island. With the help of Siberian Huskies, entire tribes of people were able not only to survive, but to push forth into terra incognita. Admiral Robert Peary of the United States Navy was aided by this breed during his expeditions in search of the North Pole. (Wikipedia)

Chicklet by comparison with human longevity is one year old now.  She is learning obedience. By two (14 in humans) she will enter the age of puberty.  By three (21 years in humans) she will become assertive in the role taught her. She will prove her loyalty. This will make her a good guide dog. Caring and trusting, especially with kids.  We are seeing in her such tendency. 

Will she be a working dog?  Not really, not a sled dog. Retriever, perhaps.  She loves catching balls, as well as disarranging (retrieving) things playfully. She is going to develop right conduct. She would be accompanying us in our rounds, going to church, to market, or simply on a walk.    

Too early to say yes, to all these, and others as well, in certainty.  Already Chicklet is a dog-rooster in the morning; her barking wakes the neighborhood.  She likes to walk with Leo Carlo, first in the vicinity, now even outside the neighborhood. A breed for the cold region? Yes, she takes a bath by herself.  Just give her a basin of water. Does she howl like her forebears in the vast Arctic?  No but her barking sends other dogs howling. Does she play rough? Yes like English rugby, and Canadian Hockey. But it's all game.

One time my patience reached an end at Chicklet's insubordination.  She refused to stop barking. It disturbed our peace and sleep. No scolding would help. I didn't spare the rod. She yelped and surrendered in genuflection. The next time she got her punishment she laid prostrate, motionless, meek as lamb. 

I carried her to her pen. She looked at me in total submission. I am the leader of the pack. Imagination took me to the lands of the Labrador Retriever and the Siberia Husky. ~   

Palm Sunday - Nemesis of Palm Trees and Cycads

Palm Sunday - Nemesis of Palm Trees and Cycads 
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
Faithful of the Christendom wave young fronds of buri, a threatened species; and oliva or Cycad, a highly endangered species, in observance of Palm Sunday. 
More than ninety percent of the palaspas are made of the buds or immature leaves of palm trees principally buri, anahaw, and coconut. Coconut trees are purposely stripped for palaspas and their heart is made into fresh lumpia.  Otherwise the trees are left to die in the grove.  As a consequence the destructive rhinoceros beetles, and pathogenic fungi breed in them, and build populations that destroy many standing trees.   

Buri, on the other hand is already a threatened species in the Philippines and in most tropical countries. The leaves are woven into mats, bags and other handicrafts. It is the young tree that is harvested for palaspas, ending the tree's potential life span of fifty years. It is not easy to propagate buri because it bears nuts only once it its lifetime - just as it's going to die. 

Survivors of  Palm Sunday takes time to recover.  It takes months to normally recover, and if harvesting of nuts is every two months, the affected trees may yield only half as much.  But then Palm Sunday comes next year, and every year thereafter. Thus we wonder if ever the tree will live a productive life of twenty to thirty years. 

I have a coconut tree at home.  We have been harvesting buko nuts every two months since 1979 when we moved into the subdivision - that's a good thirty three years (plus 5 years earlier). On the average our harvest is twenty nuts per bunch or forty buko nuts per harvest - that's four hundred pesos at 10 pesos each, city price.  Gross value per year is P2,500, based on six harvests. All these come from a single coconut tree.  

Coconut farmers may be getting more, plus the value of midribs for walis tingting, leaves for sinambong basket, woven mat, activated carbon from the shell, coir for cordage, dusts for the garden, and of course, firewood.  We have not mentioned tuba, lambanog, suka, muscovado, pulitiput, as cottge industry products from coconut. Then the ecological importance as windbreak, and companion crop of orchard trees, and a variety of cash crops.  When planted all together we see a farm model envied the world over - storey cropping.  The model is easily a 3-storey cropping to 7-storeys, one for the Book of Guiness. 
It is irony when faith collides with reality, when the spirit and body are separated by blind devotion, when the future is made bleak by one celebration, when the faithful turns into a bandwagon when unity and cooperation is already established, when faith becomes a stumbling block to a better life. 

Oliva (Cycad) is a living fossil, older than the dinosaur; now it is in the list of threatened species, in other places, it is placed as endangered. Usually the whole crown is harvested for Palm Sunday's palaspas, causing the plant to starve and die. 
Lower photo shows symbionts (fern, moss, lichen orchid, including insects and fungi) that live on the trunk and peduncle of the cycad, thus forming a community we may call as localized ecosystem.  

On the other hand Palm Sunday is key to progress, to the preservation of nature, and healing of our planet. It can be made more more meaningful by planting palm trees instead.  There is good sign here.  In other countries there are churches where the people bring seedlings of palm trees, cycads, and other plant species as well. The seedlings are blessed the same way the palaspas is blessed.  There is one big difference, and this is the key.  The faithful bring back the blessed seedlings in be planted in their homes.  Others join community tree planting in plaza and parks, along roads and highways.  Others organize replanting of destroyed forests, and reclaiming wastelands. Because the seedlings are blessed there's a accompanying   responsibility and concern for their growth. Subsequent Palm Sunday celebrations in one particular feature, are held where Palm Sunday seedlings were previously planted.

The Lord will be very happy of this development.

For the last fifty years I have been campaigning in saving the palms and cycads on Palm Sunday,  starting as a student. Throughout my career as radio instructor, columnist of local magazines, and university professor, I have been consistent with it.  There are more and more people who agree with the idea and have joined the campaign. This is encouraging.  But it has not broken ground yet, as these photos here will bear me out.

Talking with the clergy, I asked apologetically, "Father, is it possible to have only the green and mature palm - not the bud leaves (white), blessed? And not the oliva, too?" The religious ambiance soon engulfed the air and the conversation led into the story of the passion of Christ. ~