Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Alug - My Waterhole

Dr. Abe V. Rotor
Living with Nature - School on Blog
Alug or Waterhole in acrylic, AVR

Memories come easy on this foot bridge
Many years ago I built across a stream,
Stream in monsoon and pond in summer,
Alug, as the old folk call it - a waterhole.

It was my waterhole; I saw the world in its water -
Images of airplanes cruising, birds migrating,
Clouds in many patterns, many faces and hues;
The arena of wit and skill, fishing for hours.

And fishing not for fish but dreams,
Dreams about far places, of beautiful things,
Dreams almost real, even as they fade away
In ripples and into the dusk.

One day I woke up to find my waterhole
Swallowed up by floodwater from the hills,
Washing away the air castles I built,
And down its path it took summer away forever.

I walked the bridge to its far end and beyond,
And down the river to the sea I cast my pole.
It was a fight I fought, it was no longer game,
And it was neither fish nor dream I caught.~

Sunshine on Raindrops, AVR Megabooks, 2001

Enshrining Traditional Knowledge through Research

Dr Abe V Rotor
Here are some examples by which traditional  knowledge can be enshrined through research.

1. Corn silk tea is good for the kidney.

When boiling green corn, include the inner husk and the silk as old folks do. Add water than normally needed. Drink the decoction like tea. It is an effective diuretic. But how can we make it available when we need it?

Silk is the composite pistil of corn which receives the pollen necessary in pollination. Internet photos

Sister Corazon C. Loquellano, RVM, in a masteral thesis at UST came up with corn tea in sachet. Just powder dried corn silk and pack it in sachet like ordinary tea. The indication of good quality is that, a six-percent infusion should have a clear amber color with the characteristic aroma of sweet corn. It has an acidity of about 6 pH. You may add sugar to suit your taste.

2. Succulent pod of radish is a local remedy for ulcer.
It is in a public market of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) I found young pods of radish (Raphanus sativus) sold in bundles. We also relish young radish pods as salad or mixed in chopsuey. How true is it that it can cure of stomach ulcer?

Lourdes Jorge tested radish seeds for anti-ulcer properties on albino rats as her masteral thesis in medical technology at UST. Result: Radish seed extract is effective and is comparable to commercial Cimetidine or Tagamet in the treatment of gastric ulcer. ~
3. A simple remedy for diarrhea
Diarrhea claims the lives of 3 million people, with nearly 2 million of them children under five years old. Yet a simple and inexpensive treatment can prevent many of those deaths.

Here is a simple formula for oral rehydration therapy (ORT): a fistful of sugar + a pinch of salt + a jug of water. This old home remedy is now recognized by the WHO and UNICEF of the United Nations (UN-WHO) which recently reported that it has saved some 40 million lives. This home grown remedy hopes to further demote diarrhea from its present status as the second leading cause of death among children, to an ordinary ailment that can be readily prevented or treated.

According to WHO/UNICEF, ORT should begin at home with home fluids or home-prepared sugar and salt solution at the first sign of diarrhea to prevent dehydration (loss of body fluid). Feeding should be continued at all times.

However, once the patient is dehydrated, the regimen should be switched to official preparation usually in pre-measured sachets that are ready to be mixed with water. The formula is commercially sold or supplied by local government and relief agencies like WHO and UNICEF. In 1996 alone UNICEF distributed 500 million sachets to over 60 developing nations.

Everyone experiences at certain times symptoms that may be associated with diarrhea, such as too much drinking of alcohol, intolerance to wheat protein (gluten) or lactose (milk), or chronic symptom to food poisoning. It is also associated with anemic condition, pancreatic disorder, and radiation treatment (chemotherapy) ~

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Old Vigan lives! UNESCO World Heritage City

Dr Abe V Rotor

Historic City of Vigan was established in the 16th century, Vigan is the best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia. Its architecture reflects the coming together of cultural elements from elsewhere in the Philippines, from China and from Europe, resulting in a culture and townscape that have no parallel anywhere in East and South-East Asia.
Plaza Salcedo and St Paul Cathedral
 Dancing fountain Plaza Salcedo Park
Vigan is not only a provincial capital 
but the ganglion of the Ilocos region.  
In fact, it was the Manila of the north, 
as Cebu was in the south in Spanish times.
The galleon ships docked here regularly 
en route Spain via Acapulco in Mexico,
Vigan was a little Madrid, a little Venice,
a little Berlin, Florence, Vienna, Paris
of then Renaissance Europe, 
melanged into its native and Oriental 
culture with Asian neighbors. 
Colonial Spanish culture flourishes
in today's postmodern world; 
its counterparts - Binondo Manila 
and Cebu are now in archives, 
so with those in other countries. 

Vigan is a living history, a living relic of the past
for such a mystery, scholars have yet 
to discover the secrets of Vigan, 
historians to compare it with the old cities -
grandiose  Rome, city states of Greece,
now in ruins, or buried in  oblivion. 
But Vigan lives! ~

Ride on the historic calesa - to the Spanish colonial times.

Go to the Heritage, center of Spanish culture for almost 400 years, accredited by UNESCO as a world heritage.

St Paul cathedral and bell tower

Filipino martyr Jose P Burgos monument

The former city Fernandina retires in the night.


 Calle Crisologo (early views)
 Former Rosary College

Brown is beautiful - brown egg, brown sugar, brown rice - and brown skin

Dr Abe V Rotor

Preference to natural, and organically grown, food is gaining popularity worldwide. It is because many ailments, from allergy to cancer, are traced to the food we eat. Many kinds of allergies have evolved from genetically engineered food, for which they have gained the bad reputation of Frankenfood, after the novel, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, published in 1818.

A. Brown eggs are preferred over white eggs

Brown eggs come from native fowls that subsist mainly on farm products. They are very resistant to the elements and diseases that they simply grow on the range. White eggs on the other hand, come from commercial poultry farms and are highly dependent on antibiotics and formulated feeds. Residues of antibiotics may cause our immune system idle and predispose us to sudden attack of pathogens.

Another advantage of brown eggs is that they have thicker shells for protection and convenience in handling.  Besides, their yolk is brighter yellow as compared to that of white eggs, which means they have more carotene and xanthophylls which are essential to health.

B. Brown or red sugar is better than white or refined sugar.

Rural folks would rather eat panocha or muscovado, which is likened to whole grain with the bran intact (e.g. pinawa rice and whole wheat flour). When sugar is refined, the very vitamins and minerals needed by our body’s metabolism are removed, going with the molasses which we usually use as feeds for animals.

Sugar consumed in its natural state (like fruits and grains) is first broken down and slowly released into the bloodstream, in a manner our body can program its assimilation. But refined sugar raises the blood sugar rapidly. This rush is followed by an equally rapid crash that often leave us feeling tired, irritable or depressed. As energy falls, our response is to reach for more sugar to perk us up, only to worsen the situation.

The sudden rise and fall of our blood sugar causes emotional instability, confusion, dizziness, and headache. Over-consumption of sugar can trigger a craving similar to the physiological dependence produced by drugs. These symptoms, along with drowsiness, forgetfulness, or general “spaced-out” feeling are typical symptoms of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Adrenaline is released during the body’s chemical chain reaction triggered by eating excess refined sugar, creating a stress throughout our body and mind. Sugar also depresses the activity of our white blood cells, lowering our resistance to infection. It may lead to the development of diabetes. For this reason many oriental nutritionists call refined sugar “white poison.”

C. Brown rice contains more vitamins and minerals than well-milled rice which usually appears white.
Generally, it's the bran what gives the brown color in rice, except for certain varieties, like pirurutung or black rice and highland brown rice varieties. Otherwise the brownness or whiteness of rice depends on the degree of milling.

After the husk or ipa is removed through dehulling, the product is whole grain rice or pinawa. The grain has the whole bran intact. Then it passes through a polisher which scrapes of the bran. A single pass produces regular milled rice which is somewhat brown.

A double or triple pass through the polisher removes the bran which is the seat of vitamins and minerals. This is what is called well-milled rice which is usually white, a general preference of buyers. But they are missing the real nutritional value of rice.

During World War II and immediately after, am (segget Ilk) served as substitute to milk. It saved thousands - perhaps millions - of infants and young children from death and starvation in many parts of the world, thanks to a Filipino scientist, Manuel Zamora who popularized it as tiki-tiki. It was later commercialized as United American Tiki-ti by a pharmaceutical company.

Brown skin is more resistant to radiation, heat and dirt than white skin. Brown is expectedly the homogenized human race.

Two ways to ward off houseflies and midges

Dr Abe V Rotor
Lighted candles drive flies away.
Houseflies - Musca domestica  (photo) are the most popular uninvited guests during a party, especially if it is one held outdoor. Before they build into a swarm, light some candles and place them strategically where they are most attracted. Candle smoke drives away houseflies and blue bottle flies (bangaw), keeping them at bay until the party is over. For aesthetic reason, make the setup attractive by using decorative candles and holders, especially one that can withstand a sudden gust of wind. Otherwise, just plant a large candle or two, at the middle of the serving table. If your guests ask what is this all about, blow the candle out momentarily and they will understand.

Hang a fresh branch of a tree or shrub near lighted bulb or lamp to keep midges (gamu-gamu) away from food and guests. 

Have you ever been pestered by tiny insects that are attracted by light during an outdoor dinner? These insects make a complex population of leafhoppers, mayflies, and other species of midges. Winged termites and ants often join the swarm. They are most prevalent at the onset of the rainy season in May or June and may last until the rice crop is harvested. In the province this is what you can do to control them and save the dinner party.

                                                             Midge or gamu-gamu  

Cut a fresh branch or two, complete with leaves that do not easily fall off. The finer the leaves are, the better - sampaloc, madre de cacao, kamias, - or simply any source that is available, including shrubs and vines (kamote, mungo, corn, etc.) Hang the branch securely at the dim part above or close to the fluorescent bulb or Coleman lamp. Be sure not to obstruct the light. Keep away from the food and guests. Observe how the insects settle on the branch and stop flying around.

Insects are attracted by light, especially when there are only a few in the area. An outdoor dinner is ideal for them, attracting those even in distant fields. On arriving at the scene they become disoriented, for which reason they keep flying and flying around the light. With a foothold nearby for them to roost, the insects would gladly cease from their aimless search. Since the Coleman lamp was invented, more so when Thomas Edison came up with a brilliant idea that led to the manufacture of the incandescent light that soon “lighted the world,” nocturnal insects - from midge to moth – have been disturbed of their natural sense of bearing on celestial lights as they travel in darkness. Rizal romantically attributed the death of a moth - lost in its path and singed into the lamp - a heroic act. ~

Living with Folk Wisdom, UST-AVR 2008

Saturday, February 25, 2017

1972 Ecology Exhibit National Library (Article in Progress)

Dr Abe V Rotor

Ecology was a new subject; it branched out from Biology.
That was in the sixties, the Philippines among the pioneers.
The country is rich in biodiversity in its thousands of islands,
and lush tropical rainforests from Batanes, down to Sulu. 

Ecology became popular as  science of the environment, adopted in school curricula, in the terrtiary and secondary,
integrated with the Department of Natural Resources - DENR,split from then DANR, agriculture becoming independent.
Author points at a tree skeleton, a disturbing symbol on environmental destruction, 1972 exhibit.(See I am Nature Crucified, below)

I was then a fresh graduate in agriculture, took advance courses, trained in farmers' fields, attended seminars;
agriculture was transforming from traditional to modern, 
but at the expense of destroying environmental balance. 

As secretary of a council known for self-sufficiency in rice
and other successful programs, I saw how short range 
economic goals do not guarantee long-term sufficiency.
Modern agriculture is not keen at sustainable productivity.

Agriculture and ecology became strange bedfellows
increased production is not increased productivity,
worse the irreversible destruction of the environment;
in the process, the progressive decline of productivity.  

In early 70's I was among the first professors in ecology,
as an agriculturist and an ecologist I had two roles:
increased production now and sustainability in the future.
indeed a big challenge that haunts the world today. 

 Ecology exhibit in Black and White photographs, National Library 1973 

What has a tree to do with ecology, and vice versa?
I answered that the tree is a small eological system. 
and what is that system?  continued my curious guest.
Ecosystem is a community of interacting organisms.

A single big tree has the elements of an ecosystem.
It includes all of the living things  -  plants, animals,
protists interacting with each other on one hand, 
and with their non-living environments, on the other.

These are weather, earth, sun, soil, climate, atmosphere,
Each member organism has its own niche and role to play,
under dynamic balance scientifically called homeostasis,
that insures the integrity of such relationships over time.  

So I said in that lecture in the exhibit area, "What happens 
if a century old acacia tree - or a forest - if it is cut down?
You are actually killing Nature. Here are twenty scenarios,
touching philosophy, science, faith, and Humanities, too. 
 I am Nature crucified
 Dr Abe V Rotor

                                                               Silhouette of a tree skeleton, QC

I am Nature crucified, Paradise lost to my own guardian
whom my Creator assigned custodian of the living earth;

I am Nature crucified by loggers, my kin and neighbors 
annihilated, forever removed from their place of birth;

I am Nature crucified by slash-and-burn farming dreaded
- once lush forests now bare, desertification their fate;

I am Nature crucified, greedy men with giant machines
take hours to destroy what I built for thousands of years;

I am Nature crucified in the name of progress, countries 
vying for wealth and power, fighting among themselves; 

I am Nature crucified, rivers are dammed, lakes dried up,
swamps drained, estuaries blocked, waterways silted;

I am Nature crucified, the landscape littered with wastes,
gases into the air form acid rain, and thin the ozone layer;

I am Nature crucified, flora and fauna losing their natural
gene pools by selective breeding and genetic engineering;

I am Nature crucified, the earth is in fever steadily rising,
ice caps and glaciers melting, raising the level of the sea; 

I am Nature crucified, privacy and rest becoming a luxury
in a runaway population living on fast lanes, and rat race. 

I am Nature crucified, inequitable distribution of wealth
the source of conflict, greed and poverty, unhappiness;

I am Nature crucified by the promise of heaven in afterlife,
the faithful restrained to regain Paradise while on earth.

I am Nature crucified by scholars of never ending debates,
on the goodness of the human race in fraternal praises;

I am Nature crucified by the many denominations of faith,
pitting God against one another in endless proselytizing;

I am Nature crucified by licenses of freedom in extremism,
human rights and democracy - tools of inaction and abuse;

I am Nature crucified by mad scientists splitting the atom,
building cities, tearing the earth, probing ocean and space;

I am Nature crucified by capitalism, consumerism its tool
to stir economy worldwide, wastefulness it consequence;

I am Nature crucified by the unending pursuit of progress,
the goal and measure of superiority, nation against nation;

I am Nature crucified by man’s folly to become immortal:
cryonics, cloning, robotics - triumvirates for singularity.

I am Nature crucified, hungry, thirsty, imprisoned, naked,
abandoned – wishing some souls to stop, look and listen. ~

Author poses with exhibit in ecology 1972 at the National Library, Manila. 

Book Manuscripts of Dr AV Rotor

These book manuscripts have been derived and orgnized from my website which comprises three blogs Living with Nature, Naturalism the Eighth Sense, and A Naturalist's World. 

Although the theme is Nature, the topics are varied and based on multiple intelligence, sciences and the humanities, and other fields of human interest. I invite you to open my website avrotor.blogspot.com and enjoy reading more than four thousand articles and lessons.- AV Rotor.

Ilocano versions of a lot of articles contained in these manuscripts have been published in Bannawag, a weekly Manila Bulletin magazine, under the column of the author, Okeyka, Apong, thanks to Mr Ariel S Tabag whose patience and dedication over the years have made the column accessible to Ilocano speaking readers here and abroad.  Annual volumes of the articles since 2006, are now being organized into manuscripts.