Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Harvesting Rainwater: The Art and Practice

Water rationing has started in Metro Manila.  Angat Dam which supplies more than 80 percent of Metro Manila is appropriating its supply to last through summer next year. Limited supply is exacerbated by the ongoing El Nino phenomenon. Let us save rainwater, it's a valuable resource which should not go to waste.
    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
A bountiful harvest of rainwater cuts down water bill; it is environment-friendly and 
a source of enjoyment.  At home, Lagro QC.
  1. Join downspouts together to maximize harvest of rainwater in one place.
  2. Keep roof, gutter and downspout regularly cleaned and declogged of any debris.   
  3. Avoid using red lead paint, use epoxy paint instead, to avoid lead contaminant.  
  4. Filter rainwater with fine screen or cloth before transferring to container.
  5. Plastic containers are convenient but they serve only as temporary storage.
  6. Wide mouth containers may cause accident. They are not designed as bath tubs.
  7. Use water within five days, otherwise it breeds mosquitoes and other vermin. 
  8. Clean and expose containers under the sun for an hour or two to disinfect. 
  9. Invert and be ready for the next rain to come. Store only clean rainwater.      
  10. Final storage is ideally a garden pond. It is multipurpose: fish culture, water for cleaning, watering and for use in case of fire. 

  11. A garden pond adds aesthetic beauty to the place, adds coolness and tranquility, cum a gentle sound of a fountain and running stream.Garden Pond at home in Lagro, QC. Take Nature Home mural painting by the author.

Catfish and pako fish raised in a garden pond.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Part 1:Concerns about Biology and Ecology - Open Questions

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 (

Here are questions often raised in the academe about Biolological and Environmental Sciences. How familiar are you to these questions? You may find them useful in your studies, lectures, discussions, exams, researches, and the like.

UST Graduate School students visit vermiculture project
of La Mesa Eco Park, QC, Photo by Sunshine Rolle

1. How do you relate autotoxicity of yeast in fermentation, and the tale of the Pied Piper, with humankind’s possible extinction? Are we in our sunset as a species?

2. Were our ancestors a happier lot? In what ways? What has Folk Wisdom to do with our present lives?

3. What are the three scientific breakthroughs? What are their applications? (10)

4. There is an aspect in Human Ecology about “love life.” How do you relate it with health and values? Is married life a blissful life?

5. How is bioethics applied in present day life, specifically in ecology? Explain in relation to pollution, human factors in development, and the like.

6. Global warming has many consequences: What are these? Do these have anything to do with the biblical events and prophesies?

7. What is the Disconnection Syndrome? Explain. How do you relate it to Connectivity?

8. Today’s concept of heroes has taken a universal perspective. Compare it with the traditional concept of heroes, saints and martyrs. Cite prominent names.

9. What is the paradigm of salvation on the ecological perspective? How do you relate this with our lessons? What are the other paradigms to compare with? Is it compatible to them?

10. Present ten (10) scenarios created by the increasing atmospheric heat brought about by Greenhouse Effect.

11. Differentiate the following:

a.Paedogenesis from Parthenogenesis
b..Aestivation from Hibernation
c.Most primitive vs most advance Organisms
d.Shortest vs longest life span of organisms
e.Colony of termites vs a horde of migratory locusts

12.Present a scenario if all insects in the world were eliminated.

13. Inbreeding is apparent in parthenogenetic organisms, which include many inverrtebrates and plankton organisms. This phenomenon is contrary to Darwinian principles of survival and evolution? How can these organisms cope up with this disadvantage?

14.Why is Genetic Engineering controversial? On which side of the argument do you support? Explain.

15.“Stress predisposes an organism to shortened life cycle.” What is the background of this statement? Do you agree with it? What is its implication?

16.“Being small is a biological asset.” What is the rationale in the biological world? In the insect world? (Identify the insecrs in the photos.)

17.Arthropods dominate the animal kingdom in diversity and number.
a.What are the common characteristics of Arthropods?
b.How are Arthropods classified? Describe each class, and cite common examples.

18.Many ordanisms are called “living fossils?” Explain. What organisms demonstrate this phenomenon? What enabled these organisms to defy the conventional rules of evolution?

19.What are the components of Integrated Pest Management? Briefly explain each.

20.Make a list of destructive insects (be specific) and the nature of damage they inflict, in common names. You may provide other important information

21.How do insects survive extreme conditions of the environment? During summer? Winter? Cite examples.

22. What are the 12 most important orders of insects? Briefly explain each and cite examples.

23. There are poisonous plants found in nature which ethnic societies learned to deal with their poison. Explain how the poison is removed or at least reduced to safe level.

24. There are 30 pesticide-free vegetables in their common and scientific names which I listed in the Blog and in the book, Living with Nature. They are resistant to insects, mites, nematodes, snails, fungi, including weeds, rodents and birds, and are often found in the wild, or in the open spaces. Name as many as you can recall, in common names.

25. What group of vegetable is the most sprayed – in fact chemical pesticide is a must in its cultivation. What are the tips on how to minimize the effects of pesticides? What should we do with vegetables raised with chemical spraying as a prescribed horticultural practice? (Crucifers.  How many can you identify in the photo?)

26. In your readings, what make Garlic a Miracle Health Food and Medicine

27. There are wild food plants or hunger crops that provide an alternative source of food and nutrition on the grassroots in times of poor harvest and calamities like drought. Being native or indigenous they survive extreme conditions of the environment, they need very little care, if at all. Name ten of them which are found locally and how they are prepared.

28. To make natural farming and gardening work, one must turn to the so-called “eight senses” - the intelligence of naturalism- which, in turn, makes a green thumb. Natural farming and/or gardening is described by five principles, to wit: (Give examples under each.)

a. Take advantage of the functions of living things as producers;
b. From a single process, harness two or more products;
c. Use leftovers and wastes as resource for the next process;
d. Remember that the value of a given process can be greater than the sum of its parts; and
e. Capitalize on natural assets of certain organisms and certain environmental factors.

29. What are sea vegetables, what are the 5 most common in the market

30. Trace the flow of solar energy from the physical to the biological world. Emphasize the role of the cell and its parts. Show the transformation of energy along the pathway. How is energy conserved and released? Illustrate and explain.


Sunday, September 27, 2015

What is the ultimate test of civilization?

  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 ultimate test of any civilization Is
"Earth in the hands of man."
 not in its inventions and deeds;
But the endurance of Mother Nature
In keeping up with man’s unending needs.”
AV Rotor, “Light in the Woods”, 1995
Reflection on “Environment and Peace

We live in a different world, and a fast changing one at that. It is fiction today and reality tomorrow. Jules Verne’s works – “Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea”, “Around the World in Eighty Days” are not fiction after all, and Flash Gordon, yesterday’s fiction hero for kids is virtual reality today. They surround us, they are part of us.

We are in an age of bionics, an organic union of living and non-living things. And while we enrich our intelligence, we are also creating and transferring intelligence to robots. Time shall come when it will be difficult to differentiate human and artificial intelligence.

Natural science will feed commerce with new commodities. We have entered into a new field of economics – bio-economics. Already we talk of cloning, test tube babies, surrogate mothers, menopausal childbirth. We have welcomed the patenting of plants and animals and microbes - and the DNA and proteins that make them. We are claiming property rights to life itself! Which endorses review of human and spiritual values. Revise ethico-morals? “Re-create God,” proposes an atheist.

This paper does not intend to provide answers to these disturbing questions, but rather help us in our search for meaning in today’s highly scientific and technological world. How fast and far we are going to keep up with the pace of change, or how simple a life do we wish to lead?

Here are scenarios to examine and reflect on:

Re-Creating Nature

Have you heard of instant countryside inside cities?

“Gubat sa Siyudad” is more of a symptom than fancy. More and more people who are tired of city life are yearning to live in less congested areas where they are closer to Nature.

A few years ago French farmers staged a dramatic protest against the European Union by hauling sections of wheat fields, and herding cattle and sheep to the instant farm landscape at the Champs Elysees, creating a countryside amid tall buildings and busy pedestrian and traffic .

Picture this landscape in the middle of Paris, near the historical Arch d’ Triumph. Traffic was stopped, business was disrupted. Police cordoned the area. Instead of reacting angrily, the Parisians of all walks of life including lawyers, students, businessmen, lovers, farmers, cops, ran toward the mini countryside and dreamily enjoyed the rustic scene. For a few hours before they remembered who and where they were, all were happily back in the country. The incident would fit the conditions of New York’s City’ Madison Garden or Beijing’s Tiananmen Square as well. In the middle of cities rises an imagery of a nostalgic rural world, a world now disconnected with urban life.

“Disconnection” Syndrome
As a country becomes more progressive, technologically that is, more and more of its citizens become disconnected from the countryside. And what is paradoxical is that cities grow at the expense of the countryside, eating out agriculturally productive space, draining precious manpower and resources, supplanting tradition and values with “modern culture”.

What is the implication of this? Disconnection buries deeper that intrinsic attachment in us to the natural life which is systemic in our genes and culture, the key to our successful evolution as rational and social beings. The memory of that attachment surfaces now and then in our language, music, paintings, legends, even in our thoughts over a sunset or a flowering weed.

But this is not meaningful enough unless we re-establish that attachment to make us aware that everything in this world is interconnected. It is this interconnection that is the key to unity and understanding, respect and reverence, compassion and humility. Such interconnection links the parts of the living and the non-living world as well, the abstract and concrete, the past and the present, the macro with the microbial world, diverse cultures and races.

The restoration of attachment between man and nature is crucial at a time when we have caused our environment a kind of degradation never before experienced in the hands of man. Preservation of the natural world is the key to such restoration – and it is not outside the power of man.
Our lives are being outrun by Science and Technology

In so short a time – virtually just within a life span of many of us in the elder generation - we witnessed three important unprecedented discoveries which have changed human life and our society forever. There is no turning back now. Science and technology marked the milestone of no return, a point of irreversibility as we race for industrialization, and plunge into the “third wave” of progress.

The three scientific breakthroughs are the following:

1. Splitting of the atom (nuclear power, atomic bomb);
2. Wiring the microchip (electronics, computers); and
3. Cracking the DNA code (Human Genome Project,
genetic engineering).

The latest scientific breakthrough ? An expanding universe fueled by dark energy

Even 25 years after Stephen Hawking considered this concept of a rapidly expanding universe in A Brief History of Time, this is still a mind-blowing idea — it implies that, even after 12 to 14 billion years, whatever caused the creation of the universe — the Big Bang — was so powerful and unlocked so much energy that it’s still going on today. And not just going on — but actually accelerating and becoming faster.

The next question, of course, is what is causing this accelerating expansion. The general consensus among physicists is that “dark energy” is somehow accountable, stretching and pulling galaxies apart. According to scientists, approximately 68 percent of the universe is “dark energy” and 27 percent is “dark matter.” As NASA points out, that means that 95 percent of the universe is still a deep mystery: “The rest — everything on Earth, everything ever observed with all of our instruments, all normal matter — adds up to less than 5 percent of the universe.” That could give research around this “mysterious cosmic force” a new boost
The applications of these breakthroughs can not be overemphasized as we witness today or in the near future the following:

1. Man’s landing on the moon;
2. Information highway via satellites and the Internet;
3. Cloning and genetically modified organisms (GMO);
4. Universities without walls (distance education);
5. Robotics and nanobotics (microscopic robots);
6. Frankenfoods, (modified foods);
7. Test tube babies, menopausal childbirth;
8. Gene therapy and immunotherapy;
9. Extended life span (now 78 years on the average to 140 by 2500); and
10. Cryonics or human hibernation, which prepares man for space travel.

Part 2 Concerns on Biology and Ecology - Open Questions

Dr Abe V Rotor 
Part 2: Concerns on Biology and Ecology - Open Questions
Modified True or False. Give reason for false answers

Mungbean (Phaseolus radiatus), the most popular legume in the tropics is highly nutritious in calories and protein.

1. When you introduce a new plant in your garden – a plant that has not been tried before – you are sure it is virtually free of pests, firstly because it did not bring with it the pests from its origin, and second, the local pests would take time to develop the taste for it.

2. We are still nomadic like our primitive ancestors were, in the sense that we still derive much of our food and other needs from the sea, hills and forest. Furthermore, we travel far and wide from our homes and families in search of our basic economic needs – food, clothing, shelter and energy. This neo-nomadic syndrome has been spurred by our modern way of living influenced by overpopulation, industrialization, science and technology.

3. The least sprayed vegetables – that is, vegetables that do not necessarily require the application of pesticides – are those that grow wild. Thus the ruling is, the more native a vegetable is, the more resistant it is to pest.

4. The most nutritious of all vegetables in terms of protein are those belonging to the legume family. In fact a number of legumes have higher protein content than meat.

5. If we rank from highest to lowest in protein content these vegetables should be listed as follows: soybean, segidillas or calamismis (pallang), mungo, tomato, malunggay.

6. It is possible that a one-hectare farm can produce as much as a four-hectare farm does, even without additional amounts of inputs like fertilizer, pesticide and water.

7. The production capacity of genetically modified crops of corn, potato, and soybean – the most common GMO food we are taking every day - has increased even without increasing the supply of nutrients in the soil. GMOs are the world’s ultimate recourse to feed an ever increasing population now approaching the 6.5 billion mark.

8. Our soil and climate are favorable to many crops. Let us plant our rice fields and corn fields after harvest season with the following crops so that we will not import them and spend precious dollars, and that, it is the Filipino farmer and not the foreign farmer whom we patronize and subsidize. Potato (potato fries), Soybean (soybean oil, TVP, tokwa, toyo, taho), White beans (pork and beans), wheat (pandesal, cake, noodles)

9. Converting corn into ethanol requires more energy in the process than the net energy output/ produce.

10. Aeroponics and hyrodoponics are still in their piloting stage; they have not reached commercial levels of production.

Herbal Medicine - Photos: Gotu Kola or Takip Kuhol (Centella asiatica)

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

R & D (Research and Development) at Home*

Dr Abe V Rotor 


                          Liquid Fertilizer  
Install your aquarium outdoor where there is at least indirect sunlight. The water becomes rich in algae and plankton as shown in this photomicrograph. It is also rich in Oxygen so that you may not even need an aerator. Use the "green" water for garden plants, and replace it with tap water every time. Just maintain the level of water. Keep the glass clear for better sunlight penetration. Siphon out the detritus sediment now and then. This liquid compost is also used as natural fertilizer. If you are using a pump, every time you clean the filter, gather the waste water, and use it for the same purpose.
Boiled Jackfruit Seeds
Don't thrpw away the seeds of nangka or jackfruit (Artocarpus integra)'

A 100-gram serving, or about 3.5 ounces of jackfruit seeds, provides about 184 calories, 7 grams of protein and 38 grams of carbohydrates, including 1.5 grams of fiber, but has less than 1 gram of fat.This is 6 percent of the daily value for fiber of 25 grams. Fiber helps fill you up, making it easier to lose weight, and may lower your risk for heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and constipation. Jackfruit seeds also provide resistant starch, which may help improve blood sugar control and keep your gut healthy. Jackfruit seeds are good sources of thiamine and riboflavin. Both of these B vitamins help turn the food you eat into energy and keep your skin, eyes and hair healthy. Riboflavin also acts as an antioxidant, helping prevent damage to your cells from free radicals. 

These seeds also provide at least small amounts of the minerals zinc, iron, calcium, copper, potassium and manganese. Zinc is important for immune function, iron and copper for forming red blood cells and calcium for forming strong bones. You need potassium for maintaining proper blood pressure levels and manganese for regulating your blood sugar levels.


  Multipurpose Banana Leaves 
Banana leaves have many uses:
1. wrapper of native delicacies, such as suman, bibingka, and puto
2. Wrapper for tamalis (steamed fish, see photo)
3. Banana stalk is keeps fish, like hito and dalag, alive while in transport up to three days. In like manner it keeps highly perishable fruits and vegetables fresh.
4. It is used as padding in ironing clothes.  It imparts a pleasant smell, and presents iron from becoming sticky.
5. Natural floor wax.  Wilted leaves are used as coconut husk as bunot in polishing the floor.        

Make your own “mineral water” with malunggay seeds.

Drinking water is rendered safe with malunggay seeds. Why spend for mineral water when you can make one right in your home? With all the empty plastic bottles around, you can prepare safe drinking water just by adding crushed seed of malunggay (Moringa oleifera).

This is what you can do. Fill up a liter size bottle (family size softdrink) with water coming from the tap, or if you are in the province, a deep well or spring. Add two malunggay seeds crushed by hand. Allow the setup to settle for two to three hours or until the sediments have settled down. Slowly transfer the filtrate to another bottle for immediate or future use.

Scientists found out that malunggay seeds directly kill bacteria and coagulate suspended particles, slowing down Brownian Movement (constant movement of particulates in liquid medium, colliding with one another and against the walls of the container). Malunggay also impart a refreshing taste to the drinking water. Try it.

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.
Natural Kitchen Scrub and Sandpaper 
Is-is (Ficus coronata) is natural sandpaper owing to its abrasive surface like sandpaper. Use it in the kitchen, bathroom and general cleaning. Avoid using synthetic scrub made of fiber glass, amuminum and plastic.  Is-is is healthier and environment-friendly.  Plant this small tree on your backyard and you will have a year round supply you can also share with your neighbors. It produces edible ripe fruits  children love to pick.

* R & D at Home is based on heuristic technique often called simply a heuristic.  It is any approach to problem solving, learning, or discovery that employs a practical method not guaranteed to be optimal or perfect, but sufficient for the immediate goals. Where finding an optimal solution is impossible or impractical, heuristic methods can be used to speed up the process of finding a satisfactory solution. Heuristics can be mental shortcuts that ease the cognitive load of making a decision. Examples of this method include using a rule of thumb, an educated guess, an intuitive judgment, stereotyping, profiling, or common sense.

References: Boiled Jackfruit seeds by Jessica Bruso LIVESTRONG.COM; Living with Folk Wisdom by AV Rotor, Wikipedia. Internet.

Light up your life!

Get out of your box.
Dr Abe V Rotor

Get close to Nature, befriend her creatures.  

Birds sing not only for their own kind, 
     but to the world that shares their joy,
in melodies notes may not capture,
     but the heart and spirit they buoy.  

Find joy with a baby and bring back the joyful years of life.

Love the word child for it never dies;
     it may sleep as we grow old;
it wakes us up like The Little Prince,
     when we're lost and troubled.

When the head seems too heavy to carry...  when life seems to come to a stop ... 
Give yourself a break before your break down.  

Have you walked the sea floor at its lowest ebb,
     on the shoal and coral reef?     
It's Nature's way of cleansing and renewing life
     in a  cycle of joy and grief. 
 Get out of your shadow...

There is a girl afraid of her own shadow, 
     she tried to run away from it in panic. 
She outgrew the trauma and even talked
     to her shadow when lost and sick. 
Catch butterflies and friends...
Make happy faces...lean on a strong shoulder
Puppet show time - you the actor and subject. 
                                              Get out of your box. Be the real you. 
                                         Author and daughter Anna, Avilon Zoo, Rizal

Be a dear or deer ... flower girls the second time around.

"What is generation gap
 but taking too long a nap by the fireplace and missing the songs of birds in springit is not seeing the stars through the leafless trees in winter." AVR

Get out of your box before it,s too late;
     prison disquised in comfort and care;
it's all yours to act and no one else will,
     to open its door or break its walls.