Thursday, July 28, 2016

Old Bridge across Banaoang Pass

Abe V Rotor 

Old Bridge across Banaoang Pass in acrylic (60" x 41") by the author. Courtesy of Dr Laurence (Rencie) Padernal), April 29. 2012

Past your golden age, three generations have passed, 
     Once in your prime, and also was mine; 
The world over the horizon across your span, I sought 
     For dreams the sweet goal of time. 

While across your other end leads to home, sweet home, 
     For loyal sons and daughters in homage, 
Returning to childhood memories, to peaceful repose, 
     Gateway indeed you are to every age. 

And in between, fleeting were the years, but never 
     Lost - dream fulfilled, or never was - 
Matters but little in your own world, bright and windy, 
     As the sun rises through the Pass. 

And if a lonely soul comes to your world, gazes around 
     And high, the strength of the towering 
Rocks, the sharp, gentle slopes of green and golden
     In their pristine - they're Nature blessing. 

From the cliff down the ravine, the great divide 
     Of the rugged Cordillera, surrenders 
To a mighty river born in a fertile valley, gathers 
     Strength as it flows and meanders. 

You are their peacemaker and guardian, oh, bridge - 
     And rather than a bridge of sigh, 
You tame the wind; you tame the river, the mountains, 
     And every day countless passersby. 

Bearing their weight and their load uncomplaining, 
     Their pain and joy of going and returning; 
And seeing yonder farmers and fishers in their work - 
     All’s well ‘til the sky sent the river roaring. 

Now it is your time to rest, the wind, river, and mountains 
     And I, to bid you goodbye in the setting sun; 
But your ruins rise a monument seen by all and from Above, 
     Where once a boy with dreams crossed your span. 

Presentation and unveiling of the painting to the birthday celebrant 

Quirino Bridge is named after President Elpidio Quirino, a great Ilocano leader. It spans across the mighty Abra River passing through Banaoang Pass, and joining the towns of Santa and Bantay both in Ilocos Sur province. The bridge survived a recent strong typhoon but was soon retired and replaced by a new bridge. Its beauty however, cannot be equaled.

Twilight view to the East, source of the mighty Abra River
Sunset view to the West where the river empties to the South China Sea

Cirrus clouds over the Cordillera Range; promontory partly blocking the bridge's view to the West. 
Placid river in summer, fisherman on raft steers for home before dark.
Exuberance of youth meets sunset on the edge of Banaoang Pass, as the Cordillera turns to amber and the Abra River to emerald. ~

13 Researches pave new uses of plants (Part 1)

Dr. Abe V. Rotor

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

This article is reprinted in memory of the late Professor Eduardo de Leon of the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Santo Tomas. These 13 researches were conducted during his administration as head of the Department of Botany, with the author as thesis adviser. This post is also dedicated to the thesis students who are now professionals in the fields of medicine, education, science and technology. UST Pharmacy Garden; symbol of pharmacy

These researches explore the vast uses of plants as food and source of useful products for pharmacology and industry. They offer alternatives to natural healing as well as in tapping the hidden wealth of plants as antibiotics, elixir and many other uses.

1. Yes, you can grow pechay and tilapia in an aquarium.
Del Rosario L, De La Calzada GR, Javillonar C, and V Roquero
This research is based on palay-isdaan, an indigenous practice in low lying ricelands where rice and fish naturally grow together during the monsoon months. Thus, the researchers experimented on growing pechay (Brassica chinensis) in an aquarium medium, which can at the same time sustain the normal growth of tilapia (Tilapia nilotica). The result promises another aspect of urban green revolution where hobbyists can combine the growing of fish in home aquarium with the production of vegetables. The idea may be the answer to having fresh and safe food supply for the home and neighborhood, and in maintaining a balance aquarium with lesser cost.

2. Beware of Ganoderma food supplement
Africa MA, Abulencia HM, Bautista A and AM Bebanco

This shelf fungus comes as food supplement, mainly as pre-packed coffee and tea, and advertised in several names. White mice fed freely with the raw fungus died after a few days. Even those given with limited amounts showed adverse physiologic effects like loss in weight, thinning of hair, and progressive weakness. Many died after two or three weeks. The results indicate that the fungus has toxic effect. It will be recalled that among the most poisonous materials occurring in nature come from fungi, the classical example is the Amanita mushroom which when mistakenly eaten by humans can cause instant death. There is no known antidote of mushroom poisoning. At minimal dosage however, not exceeding 10 mg per 1 kg body weight, the test animals gained weight faster than those not given with Ganoderma. Thus the researchers recommend judicious use of the food supplement, as it may be deleterious to health contrary to the claims of its manufacturers and distributors.

3. Make your own Marker Ink from Mayana
Galang E, Cu MV, Constantino A and C Flores

Marker inks or colorants come in bright green, pink, blue and in different hues and shades. They are used to highlight keywords and sentences, terms or simply for arts and graphics. Commercial highlighters as these markers are commonly called, are imported from Japan, US, Germany and China. Local brands make use of imported colorants. Mayana (Coleus blumei) is a colorful annual plant, dominantly red, maroon, green pink, yellow in various patterns and combinations. The researchers extracted the pigment using volatile solvents. Comparing the different cultivars of mayana, they came up with two dominant colors. Flesh to brown color appeared to be the best among the colors tested. Drying time compared to the commercial brands is the same. The researchers recommend other possible plant colorants such as Carissa, duhat (Syzygium) and bright petalled plants like Hibiscus.

4. Is it true that Caulerpa seaweed eaters live healthier and longer lives?
Chua AG, Fancubit AL, Flores F and MR Liwag

Ilocanos in particular, who love to eat lato or ar-arusip are known to enjoy healthy and long lives. Is it a myth? The researchers found out that this green seaweed sold commercially in two species, C. lentelifera and C. racemosa, possess antibiotic properties. Raw extract has been found effective in destroying bacteria, such as Pseudococcus and Escherischia coli, common pathogens causing human ailments. Aside from this property, Caulerpa contains caulerpine that to many people has relaxing effect, but excessive intake of the vegetable may cause dizziness. It is the only known edible seaweed that causes this symptom. This active principle may be tapped for its tranquilizing effect.

5. Alginate from Sargassum can increase the shelf life of fruits
Tumambing K, Santok G, Seares A and V Verzola

If you happen to be walking along the beach those dry brown seaweeds washed ashore could bring in a lot of profit, not only as source of algin and alginic acid which are extracted for food conditioner and for industrial use. The researchers found out that by extracting the alginate substance by ordinary means, the extract is effective in delaying the spoilage of fruits such as mango, papaya and banana. The extract is diluted 5 to 10 percent with water before the ripe or ripening fruits are immersed, then allowed to dry. The alginate compound leaves a coating on the fruit that delays ripening from two to four days, at the same time protects it from microorganisms that cause rotting and spoilage.

6. Makabuhay and Neem tree extracts are effective in control cockroach (Periplaneta Americana)
Tenorio RW, Nudo L, Roxas R and AC Uichanco

Neem tree

Macabuhay (Tinospora rhumphii) is a liana that grows in the wild. Previous experiments proved that its extract is effective in controlling common rice insect pest and the golden kuhol. Could it be effective in controlling the tough and elusive cockroach? The same question was raised on Neem (Aziderachta asiatica), known as insecticide tree that was introduced into the country from India in the sixties. According to the researchers, extracts of both plants proved effective as direct spray on cockroach. Comparative effectiveness showed that the diluted extract of makabuhay gave a higher mortality that the pure extract, indicating the synergistic effect of water solvent, but only for makabuhay. Neem extract at low level dilution is more effective than that of makabuhay at the same level. While synthetic chemical sprays are more effective than these herbal extracts, the advantage of the latter is their being safe to humans and the environment and does not leave toxic residues.

7. Rat Poison from the Seed of Botong (Barringtona asiatica)
Perez R, Dela Cruz K, Rivera M and J Santos

If botong (Barringtona asiatica) is effective as fish poison, could it be effective as rat poison just as well? The researchers found it to be effective, but the problem to lure the rodents to eating the bait is a problem. This is because of the shy nature of rats and their oliphagous characteristic that is they eat a wide range of food under natural field condition. When starved rats may consume any available food and this may include poison baits. The advantage of using plant poison is its safe nature to humans and the environment. Presently used compounds include arsenicals, anticoagulants under the brand names Dethmor, Racumin, Dora, and the deadly “1081” a zinc phosphide compound which is now banned in the market.

8. Botong (B. asiatica) is safer poison against fish pest
Dequina MJ, Castro JC, Limtin R and J Patawaran

This is the rational of the experiment: Is there a safer compound than synthetic pesticides to clean up fishponds in order to eliminate fish predators at seeding time? It is a known practice among fishpond owners to use Malathion, Endrin, and other chlorinated hydrocarbon, as well as phosphate
compounds to eliminate fish such as tilapia, dalag, and Poecillia after harvesting a fishpond. These remaining fish pose danger as predator of bangus fries raised in the next season. The researchers found out that the extract of botong seeds (Barringtona asiatica) is an effective substitute. Like other plant extract, it is environment friendly and leaves non-toxic residue to the incoming fries and fingerlings.

9. Antibiotics from papaya seeds
Casas JM, Cadiz RI, Calvelo AM and MC Cremen

With the increasing resistance of bacteria to the group of Penncilium antibiotics, scientists are looking into more potent antibiotics. Modern antibiotics however, are expensive and are not readily available particularly in the countryside. But natural antibiotics abound in nature. One such source is the ordinary papaya, specifically the native or solo variety. The researchers claim that the papain in papaya has an antibiotic property and the most likely part where the active compound is concentrated is the seeds, which are thrown away for no use except as propagation material. The seed oil is potent against both gram negative and gram positive bacteria, such as Staphylococcus. . This explains why papaya is a health food. Although the oil has also shown anti-fungal effects, the researchers recommend further studies in this aspect. They also recommend further studies in the preparation of the seed oil as antibiotic drop or ointment.

10. Mosquito repellant from bottle brush (Salix sp)

Clemente R, Landan RP Luquinario MI and P Padua

If there is a way to rid mosquitoes from attacking us without net or special paraphernalia, it is that advertised “Off” mosquito repellant. But the commercial products are synthetic compounds and reports claim that they are carcinogenic affecting not only the skin but internal organs as well since poison can be absorbed by the skin and into the blood stream and other tissue of the body. The researchers collected the volatile oil of the weeping willow which is also known as bottle brush for the formation and shape of the leaves. With ethyl alcohol as solvent, the preparation was tested against house mosquitoes (Culex pipens) in the same manner as the advertised commercial product is used. The results are positive.

11. How good are commercial organic fertilizers as claimed by their manufacturers?
Olivenza CR, King A, Reyes CJ and A Young
There are a number of organic fertilizers in the market manufactured from various raw materials. As such there is no standard set particularly for their nutrient content. They are advertised with various advantages which the researchers in this study say only by experimentation on at least one plant indicator can resolve – pechay (Brassica chinensis). The results of the experiment are varied and therefore support the theory that organic fertilizers in the market do not have standard effects on the growth and development patterns on the test plant. The researchers believe that fortification of organic fertilizers with chemical fertilizers improves the formula and helps solve nutrient deficiency.

12. Bunga de Jolo is a potential bacteriocide.
Villaluz MC, Enebrad K, Garcia R and V Guzman

Vetchia merillii, a palm relative of the bunga (Areca catechu) was found to have a unique potency against the bacterium, Bacillus proteus as well as others pathogens causing infection. Direct extract from the seed showed potent inhibition against the test organisms, a feat the control (Penncilium type) failed to show. This explains the usefulness of bunga de jolo as a substitute of Areca in the absence of the latter. Both produce nuts, which are used by older people for mastication with or without the betel leaf and the occasional lime that goes with the preparation.

13. Common moss as a practical source of antibiotics
Nabong W, Aquino M, Orlino C Ramos J and H Sumabit

The common moss often used in its dried form as substrate for orchids has a puzzling characteristic. It resists rotting and does not arbor the breeding of microorganisms that are pathogenic to the orchid. From this observation coupled by the fact that indigenous people use dried moss to cover wounds and skin diseases, led the researches to conduct an experiment on the antibiotic properties of mosses. The results are positive to bacteria causing skin infection, but the range of antibiosis has yet to be determined. The researchers recommend that further studies be conducted on methods of extraction, other than the use of ethanol, in isolating the active principle which is the key to the antibiotic property of mosses. ~

Banaba Tree (Lagerstroma speciosa)

Graduate students study the uses of Selaginella as antibiotics.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Pioneers in Biology in the Philippines

Our pioneer biologists may not have cracked the gene, but definitely they have in their own quiet and humble ways brought honors to their race and profession. Most important of all, they have improved the lives of millions of not only Filipinos but other people around the world through their genius, efforts, dedication – and selflessness.

Dr Abe V Rotor
 Living with Nature School on Blog []
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School-on-Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio738 DZRB AM Band, 8 to 9 evening class Monday to Friday

Dr Domingo Tapiador (left), UN-FAO biologist, father of Spirulina, a one-celled protein, with veteran journalist Dell H Grecia, and the author. 

This article was written soon after the completion of the Human Genome Project (HGP) was announced by then US President Bill Clinton. Which in part, I said

"While the world celebrates the greatest discovery of the new millennium - the cracking of the genetic code - let us turn our thoughts to our own biologists. May their pioneering spirit in the development of biology in the Philippines be brought closer to our youth for them to look into the great potentials of biology as a career."

Updating this article will come a long way, and may not suffice, much less complete. Nonetheless it is a humble effort to give our due respects and honor for the achievements of great Filipinos.

More so today that we are facing a crisis in food, among other problems worldwide and locally, mainly the result of runaway population, environmental degradation exacerbated by climate change, and rising affluence of living. Governance is changing its face and conduct as shown in the current Arab Spring, worldwide low employment, global warming, increasing incidents of natural and man-made disasters.

To remember these great men and women of our own race - were they alive today - we would not hesitate to ask how they can possibly help? We ask the same to the living, and we pose it as a challenge to our youth today.

Our situation in the Philippines is a lament. It is irony because we have the resources - physical and human, yet we lag behind in food production on one hand, and the preservation of the environment, on the long term. Maybe the next thing we ask is when will we be able to keep up with our neighbors, and with the world.

Originally these are the scientists mentioned in the original article posted in this Blog in 2009.

Eduardo Quisumbing is author of Medicinal Plants of the Philippines, still the most popular reference in this field. It is dubbed the “bible of medicinal plants.” It is used in schools, barangay and at home.

Leon Ma. Guerrero (1853-1935), the father of botany in the Philippines and one of the first Filipino pharmacists, formulated medicine and drugs from 174 plants in place of synthetic drugs which were not available then. When President Emilio Aguinaldo ran out of ammunition, he formulated an explosive derived from plants. It proved to be a good substitute of gunpowder. It was later named Guerrero Powder. One of the ingredients the author discovered is the hard seed coat of cashew (Canarium luzonicum).

Maria Y Orosa (1893- 1945) is well known in the field of food preservation. She introduced innovations in salting, marinating, and pickling, and the like, and made home economics and food technology household terms. So simple are her techniques that they can be adopted at the grassroots. They are also friendly to health and the environment.

Hilarion Lara (1994-1987), an epidemiologist, advocated environmental sanitation in the control of cholera, typhoid, measles, dysentery and diphtheria, and was awarded the title of National Scientist. His fame , but his fame gained international acclaim.

Manuel Ma. Guerrero (1877-1919) succeeded in controlling infantile beri-beri together with Dr. Juan Salcedo (1904-1988), then chairman of the National Science Development Board, who formulated a special vitamin against beri-beri for all ages. Their works contributed to saving millions of children all over the world down especially at the village level from this scourge.

Alfredo Santos (1900-1979), one of the founders of the National Academy of Science, and national scientist, discovered paheantharine from plants as treatment of high blood pressure.

Candido M. Africa (1895-1945) succeeded in determining the causes of heart failure and how it can be prevented.

Arturo B. Rotor (1908-1993), is the first Filipino allergist. He served as Executive Secretary of President Manuel L. Quezon, and President Sergio Osmena. Dr. Rotor discovered a rare disease of the renal system which was named Rotor Syndrome, now recognized in all medical schools and hospitals here and abroad. Dr. Rotor also wrote a column, “Confidentially Yours, Doctor,” written in simple and plain English for people to understand the doctor’s lingo. A number of orchids he discovered were named after him.

Antonio Ejercito spearheaded malaria control, while Sixto A. Francisco (1890-1959) fought tuberculosis with a method he developed with the use of BCG vaccine.

Anastacia Giron Tupas (1890-1972) upgraded the nursing profession. She is our own Florence Nightingale, the founder of the nursing profession.

Fe del Mundo (1907- ) institutionalized the treatment of children. Among her inventions are an incubator for babies, and a devise in relieving jaundice.

Nemesio Mendiola (1890-1983) is the country’s counterpart of the American “plant wizzard,” Luther Burbank. He was responsible in breeding high yielding rice, corn, sugar cane, and a host of horticultural crops, including fancy plants. Have you seen kamote (sweet potato) varieties with yellow, violet and blue tubers? He bred the spineless kenaf from the wild thorny native variety and became the source of fiber for commercial jute sacks.

Deogracias Villadolid was professor in zoology and served as critic of the author’s masteral thesis in freshwater ecology. Dr. Villadolid, a marine and fresh water biologist, is best remembered for introducing tilapia (Tilapia mozambica and T. nilotica) into the Philippines in the fifties. The fish became adapted to local conditions and is now the most popular fish, surpassing bangus, our national fish.

Julian A. Banzon (1908-1988) developed alternative fuel from coconut and sugarcane. With millions of cars running on alcogas in other countries, we have yet to tap Dr. Banzon’s formula for our local cars.

Felix D. Maramba Sr (1898- 1990?) harnessed biogas from animal waste. His project, Maya Farms in Rizal, is the most popular model in the country for small and medium size biogas generator. Like LPG, the gas collected and processed from piggery waste is used for the kitchen and in generating electricity. It became a model of its kind in the world.

Angel S. Arguelles (1888-1988?) developed fertilizers and pesticides to increase plant yield. These alternative farm inputs can save the country of precious dollars that is otherwise spent on imported farm chemicals, which by the way, are deleterious to health and the environment. His formulations set the foundation of organic farming.

Gregorio Velasquez is the father of phycology, the study of algae, which include the seaweeds. Today the culture of certain seaweeds, like Eucheuma, Gracillaria and Caulerpa, constitutes a multi-million industry. Seaweeds are used as food and raw materials in medicine and industries. Micro-algae like Spirulina and Chlorella are among today’s growing health food.

Gerardo Ocfemia is the father of plant pathology in the Philippines. He is best known for discovering the cause of cadang-cadang, a pandemic viral disease of coconut. He was responsible in the identification and control of many other plant diseases in the Philippines.

Dioscoro L. Umali (1922-1992) was dean of then UP College of Agriculture, before he assumed one of the highest posts occupied by a Filipino in the UN as regional head of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for Asia and Pacific. His works in plant breeding, education and research won him the National Scientist award.

Salvador M. Africa, a chemist, made glass from sugarcane bagasse.
Anacleto del Rosario discovered natural mineral water, better than the manufactured mineral water we use today.

Of course, we recognize the greatest Filipino who ever lived, the hero of our race, Jose P. Rizal. Rizal was a biologist, agriculturist and wildlife conservationist, even while he was in exile in Dapitan. Among his discoveries is a winged tree lizard, which was later named after him, Draco rizali.

Here is a list from the Internet our National Scientists affiliated with UPLB.

Eduardo Quisumbing published the first ever book on medicinal plants in the Philippines and authored more than 129 scientific articles published here and abroad. While director of the National Museum, Quisumbing undertook restoration of the Herbarium which was completely destroyed during World War II.

Dioscoro Umali specialized in rice, corn, abaca and mussaenda breeding. His research paved the way for the launching of programs of rainfed and upland agriculture, social forestry, environment conservation and rural poverty. He was appointed dean of the College of Agriculture in 1959. National Scientist.

Francisco Fronda helped develop Asia's poultry industry, devoting over six decades of his life to teaching, research and extension. In recognition of his pioneering contributions, he was cited as the "Father of Poultry Science in the Philippines" by the Philippine Association of Animal Science in 1980 and "Father of Thai Poultry Industry" by the Crown Princess of Thailand in 1982.

• Julian Banzon was among the first to do research on coconut as a renewable source of fuel and chemicals. He also devised novel processes, noteworthy among these is the extraction of residual coconut oil by chemical, rather than by physical processes.

Clare Baltazar discovered eight types and one subgenus of Hymenoptera. She also published the first authoritative book on Philippine insects which laid the groundwork for future biological control in the country.

Benito Vergara is a rice scientist and author of "Farmer's Primer on Growing Rice" which has been translated in over 40 languages. He also developed IRRI’s Rice World Museum during his term as director for Administration.

Bienvenido Juliano authored or co-authored over 370 scientific papers on rice chemistry and quality and edited and contributed to several chapters of the 2nd edition of the American Association of Cereal Chemists (AACC) monograph "Rice Chemistry and Technology" in 1985, wrote "Rice Chemistry and Quality" for PhilRice in 2003, "Rice in Human Nutrition" for FAO in 1993, and compiled IRRI quality data on world rice. He is the only Filipino on Thomson/ISI's list of highly cited researchers.

Carmen Velasquez discovered thirty-two new species and one new genus of digenetic trematodes from Philippine food fishes, two from birds and five from mammals; nine life cycles of trematodes of the family Transversotrematidae, Echinostromatidae, Notocotylidae (2), Plagiorchidae, Heterophyidae (2), Microphallidae and Philophtalmidae. She also discovered two new species of nematodes from Philippine fishes and a new species of Capillaria from the intestine of man, as well as a new species of parasitic copepod in Glossogobius giurus (Goby). Her works are archived at the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Dolores Ramirez is known for her work on the genetic systems controlling the makapuno endosperm of coconut, the genetics of chemical resistance factors against Cercospora kex leaf spot and the cytogenetics of the hybrids of rice with related wild species.

Jose Velasco did research on various areas of plant physiology such as mineral nutrition, photoperiodism, chemical weed control and plant growth in general, which served as the basis of crop production management practices and has set the direction for future research. He is also known for his research on cadang-cadang disease of coconuts.

Pedro Escuro helped develop, isolate and release nine Seed Board rice varieties: Milpal 4, HBD-2, Azmil 26 and C-22 (upland) and C-18, C4-63, C4-137, C-168 and C-12 (lowland).

Gregorio Velasquez, known as the "father of Philippine phycology", made the first intensive study of the local Myxophyceae or the bluegreen algae and devoted at least 30 years of productive work in the study of Philippine algae.

Ricardo Lantican's research on southern leaf blight saved the American corn industry in 1969. He also helped develop a new plant architecture in mungbean combined with resistance to Cercospora leaf spot, which increased yield levels in Asian farming systems and initiated varietal improvement of legumes in the Philippines in the 1960s, producing more than 20 varieties of mungbean (CES and Pag-asa series), soybean and peanut, some of which are commercially planted and used as parental types in international breeding programs.

Asuncion Raymundo conducted studies on microbial genetics and implemented numerous research projects or studies funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, UNIDO and the Australian Centre for International Agriculture. She has published over a hundred technical articles in refereed journals and proceedings, both local and international. She is currently dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Teodulo Topacio, Jr. did research on leptospiral disease of domesticated animals, which may provide the foundation for institutional control measures for these ailments. His studies on the transmission of the disease from pigs to humans have enabled veterinarians to produce antibiotic therapy that also reduced spontaneous abortion caused by the disease among pregnant pigs.

The author had the opportunity working or knowing the following scientists who belong to the "old school." It is indeed a rare and distinct privelege.

  • Fernando de Peralta – Botany
  • Fortunato T. Basilio – Animal Science
  • Juan P. Torres - Agriculture
  • Santiago R. Cruz – Agriculture
  • Jose Capinpin - Agriculture
  • Juan Aquino – Soil Science
  • Domingo B. Paguirigan - Agriculture
  • Fortunato T. Basilio – Animal Science
  • Romeo Rejesus – Entomology
  • Ricardo P. Sevilla – Veterinary Medicine
  • Eulalio P. Baltazar - Agronomy
  • Romeo Alicbusan – Mycology
  • Francisco Fronda – Animal Science
  • Martin S. Celino – Agronomy
  • Francisco B. Claridad – Genetics
  • Alfredo D. Dean – Entomology
  • Vito F. Del Fierro, Jr – Animal Science
  • Leopoldo T. Karganilla - Entomology
  • Emiliano Roldan – Plant Pathology
  • Rufino Gapuz – Animal Science
  • Emil Javier – Genetics
  • Clare Baltazar - Entomology
  • Ramon Valmayor – Agriculture
  • Gavino Trono - Agriculture and Phycology
  • Juanito Reyes - Agronomy
  • Fortunato Basilio - Veterinary Science
  • Vicente Villegas- Animal nutrition
The author also expresses his admiration to the following Filipino scientists in the academe, research institutions and in the field. Together with other scientists, they belong to the “contemporary school of biology.” Among them are Reynaldo A. Tabbada (botany), Paciente Cordero (marine biology), Romualdo M. del Rosario (Botany), Ruben Umaly (Genetics), Crisanto EscaƱo (agriculture), Carmen Kanapi (Genetics), Mamerta R. Rocero (ethnobotany), Alice Claustro (Botany), Anselmo S. Cabigan (Biology), Irineo Dogma (Microbiology) and Lydia Joson (microbiology), Delia Ontengco (microbiologist) Lilian J Sison (chemistry), Peter Ng (medical doctor and biologist), Carlos Garcia (chemistry). The author likewise expresses recognition to scientists in the other fields of natural science, particularly in chemistry and physics.

These ten major biological research areas pose a challenge to the youth of today who may take interest in becoming scientists mainly in the field of biology.

1. Biotechnology
2. Marine biology
3. Climatology
4. Human longevity
5. Effects of pollution
6. Endangered ecosystems and species
7. Exobiology and Space biology
8. Natural food and medicine
9. Pandemic human diseases
10. Gene therapy

Now that the genetic code has been broken, we are embarking into new fields of science and technology heretofore unknown to man - and into the mystery of life itself, a subject that has long defied man’s knowledge.

The mapping of the 46 chromosomes of the human species and the 50,000 or so genes that they hold may have taken us a leap forward into knowing the key to life. But even if we shall have finally identified the specific role of each gene in relation to health, behavior and intrinsic qualities, we would still be in quandary whether this discovery will make life any better, happier and well-lived.

As we look back, our pioneer biologists may not have cracked the gene, but definitely they have in their own quiet and humble ways brought honors to their race and profession. Most important of all, they have improved the lives of millions of not only Filipinos but other people around the world through their genius, efforts, dedication – and selflessness.

May this article serve as a simple expression of our respect and gratitude to these and many other great Filipinos who equally deserve recognition.

x x x

NOTE: We'll be happy to receive more names of famous Filipino biologists and include thm in this continuing list. AVRotor

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Don’t help a chick to hatch, a butterfly to metamorphose – nature does it best.

Dr Abe V Rotor
 Living with Nature School on Blog []
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School-on-Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM Band, 8 to 9 evening class Monday to Friday
This is a lesson I learned early, that being kind will not always result to something good. Cautiously I enlarged the hole in the shell of a chicken egg being incubated, so that the chick will find it easier to emerge. I even helped break part of the egg shell exposing the bald day chick. 

Chick hatching

Wrong kindness. The chick I helped was weaker that those that hatched normally. Its legs were weak and could barely stand. And since it could not cope up with the others, it became stunted (bansot). Why is this so? The chick I helped failed to develop its muscles fully; its lungs did not get enough oxygen. The transition period from its world in the shell to the outside world came too abrupt. I did not realize that the act of hatching characterized by prolonged struggle interspersed with brief rest is necessary in the development of the emerging chick.

I did a similar experiment with the chrysalis of a swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus) (photo, Wikipedia), a black species with several white and orange yellow spots, its wings sporting a pair of tails for which it is called. When I saw the translucent creature ready to emerge and I helped open the crack that runs like a zipper along the thin chitinous casing, Again, this proved me wrong. The result is a butterfly with uneven wings, and it took the creature a longer time to venture into its first flight than those that metamorphosed naturally. Could this be the same reason caesarian babies are less healthy and developed than normally born babies?

A Never Ending Story

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
Boy hero Atreyu, and Artex, in the movie,The Never Ending Story, Warner Bros 1984

Retirement is a stage in life when we withdraw from the battlefield, so to speak, and recount the good old days on a rocking chair. It is likely the last stage in life when we look back into the past rather than gaze over the horizon. And for the present, we become mere spectators and no longer actors of the drama which Shakespeare beautifully expressed - The world's a stage, everyone has a role to play.

But this is not true today, not after 1989 when the world reached a turning point and a sudden
leap of mankind, borrowing the American astronauts' greeting to the earth people upon stepping on the surface of the moon. The first reference affirms there is meaning of man's life (we all have a role to play), while the second reference is a challenge to man's future (post-modernism and space age).

The Cold War ended after 45 years, liberating nations and people from the polarized clutches of the two superpowers, satellite and cyberspace communications have virtually wired the whole earth, and world travel became a 24-hour circumnavigation. Ideologies found a common path of understanding, so with religious beliefs through ecumenism. Globalization became a universal aim and goal.

Retirement is indeed difficult to define where boundaries which used to divide the world politically, culturally, economically, and the like, are dissolving into a homogeneous global village, many believe to be the new world order. More so, when "matter does not age, and age does not matter," delightfully speaking.


Welcome home! Chorused my three children the day I announced my decision to retire under the government’s early retirement plan.

I realized I have not been truly home with my family. A feeling of guilt crept in but I knew from the start how to amend for my deficiency.

While adjusting to a new life I was not accustomed to, I could not help but look back into the kind of world I left behind.

The price of rice continued to rise. As an anchor against inflation, any increase in the price of this staple signals the spiraling of prices of other commodities. Many food items in the last ten years have become luxury to the masses. Low productivity was blame to force majeure rather than the lack of clear cut and firm policies. Investment was not only unprecedentedly low, it favored industry, bypassing agriculture. Peace and order problems were spreading out fast with poverty in both urban and rural areas. We were falling to the bottom of the economic ladder in Asia and the Pacific region.

This is the drama that unfolded before me, now a spectator. I was once part of this drama. I played important roles in the field and on the desk, in the private sector and in the government for twenty long years. I was part of the economic miracle in the sixties and seventies. I was part of the modernization of the agriculture program. The last two decades the country has demonstrated leadership in agro-industrial development, and scientific and technological break-throughs. But we failed to keep up with the pace of development of neighboring countries and the free world.

On the vantage point of a private life I was soon to lead, I began to doubt if my work for many years had any significance at all. Did I make a difference?

It is now one month from the day I packed up for home. The sea in summer is ideal for fishing With my books that make a small library, reading and writing once again are occupying my time. Marlo and Carlo are asking me when the next camping on Mt. Makiling will be. Chris Ann begs to be part of an on-the-spot painting session for children. My family has never been so happy and secure.

One evening the whole family viewed
The Never Ending Story, a fantasy for children. It is about a boy warrior destined to save the crumbling world of Fantasia, an imaginary world beyond. During his adventure, the hero encountered a fierce animal.

‘’If you come any closer, I will rip you into threads, “roared the animal.

‘’Who are you?’’ asked the startled boy.

‘’I am the wolf. And you, whoever you are, will have the honor to be my last victim.’’

‘’I will not die easily. I am a warrior.’’

‘’Brave warrior, then fight the

‘’But I can’t. I can’t. fight on the boundary of Fantasia.’’

The wolf laughed.

‘’What’s funny about that?’’

‘’Fantasia has no boundary.’’

‘’That’s not true. You are lying.’’

‘’Foolish boy’ don’t you know anything about Fantasia? It is a world of human fantasy. Every part,every creature of it is a piece of the dream and hope of mankind. Therefore, it has no boundary.’’

‘’Why is Fantasia dying then?’’The boy is perplexed.

‘’Because people have come to lose their hopes and forget their dreams. So
nothing goes stronger.’’

‘’What is the

‘’It is the emptiness that is left. It is despair that is destroying this world, and I have been trying to help it,’’ the wolf f hollered.

‘’But why?’ demanded the boy.

‘’Because people who have no hope are easy to control. And whoever has the control has the power!’’

An earthquake shook the cave and rocks began to fall. When the dust settled, the two were face to face in combat, the boy holding a digger, and the wolf showing its fangs, snarling.

‘’Who are you really?’’ the boy intoned.

‘’I am the servant of the power behind Nothing . I was sent to kill the only one who can stop the Nothing. I lost him in the swamp of sadness. His name is Atreyu.

‘’If I were to die anyway, I would rather die fighting! Come on wolf, I am Atreyu.’’

The wolf lunged at the boy. Quickly the boy aimed his dagger at the beast’s heart and found its mark.

The death of the beast was the end of Atreyu’s travail. He save d Fantasia.

Today, in our real world, the wolf is no different enemy. It perpetuates on human weakness and preys upon the weak. It thrives on helplessness and despair, indifference and inaction, war and persecution. It looms around human miseries.

The confrontation of the warrior and the beast lives in fantasy, and many of us are relieved by that thought that it is not true - it is only a story. But now and then, the imagery is just too vivid to be just fantasy.

In the days that followed, I found myself once again engrossed with work, this time as professor in a university.

I believed I have not really retired. ~

Years after ...
Author as professor, UST Graduate School, with public school teachers taking refresher course; as organizer and instructor, Summer Art Workshop for Children
Author with a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) on environmental conservation; as author, with co-authors during a International Book Fair; as conference speaker; and as family man.