Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Retrieving researches from old files - how valuable are their results today?

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

Author's note: These researches were conducted at the former Eco Sanctuary and biological laboratory of SPUQC.  They withstood the test of time.  They were conducted ten to fifteen years ago by students pursuing BS Biology at St Paul University then a college. Researches such as these however significant they may be, usually end up in dusty shelves and cabinets, or lost forever. 

Perhaps a review of these may lead us to find their application today, and to offer opportunities for further research. Ironically there are now fewer researchers in this field, and the quality of research has greatly declined. This is a general observation in many schools.       

It is not the intention of research alone to prove a theory or hypothesis; it is equally valuable in disproving it as well, in erasing false beliefs and providing the basis of decision and judgment to conflicting opinions.

Thesis adviser, Dr Anselmo S Cabigan examines  living specimens on a tree trunk.

     Paradoxically, as we move by leaps and bounds with scientific and technological progress, we cannot help to look back at conventional values and tradition. For example, more and more people are craving for native varieties of plants and breeds of animals, rejecting or adamant accepting genetically modified organisms (GMO).

       People are willing to pay premium for food grown with organic matter instead of chemical fertilizers, fruits and vegetables which did not receive chemical spraying, meat and poultry which are free of residual antibiotics, and fish bearing no trace of toxins carried through the food chain.
A. Natural Pesticides and antibiotics

      Suha (Citrus maxima) and tanglad (Antropogon citratus) can be formulated into an insecticide against common houseflies (Musca domestica). As a spray solution prepared from one ml of the volatile oil extracted from these plants to one liter of water, it is effective against adult flies. The flies were killed within one to one- half hours after direct spraying. 1/

     The search for alternative antibiotics as answer to the dwindling potency of conventional penicillin group antibiotics brought researcher back to the drawing table, this time to take a second look at plants growing within reach of the common man.

     A decoction of garlic (Allium sativum) at 40 gm per 100 ml water was found to inhibit the growth of Staphylocccus aureus, a bacterial pathogen that causes infection of wounds. While the area of inhibition (antibiosis) under  laboratory condition is lower than those obtained with the penicillin and Prostaphlin, two commercial antibiotics, ( 2.25 mm versus 2.7 and 3.31 mm respectively), still garlic is recommended as a home remedy because it is safe and practical. 2/    

    A follow-up research on the antibiotic properties of guava, (Psidium guajava) proved the efficacy of the decoction of its leaves (250 ml of the extract to 1 liter water) in controlling the bacterial pathogens, Staphylococcus aureusEscherichia coli, S. typii, and S. dysenteriae.3/

     Another potential antibiotic against diarrhea is mayana (Coleus blumei). Under laboratory condition using the nutrient agar medium, a decoction of mayana leaves, at 75g per 100ml, can effectively control S. aureus and E. coli. The local remedy is more effective on S. aureus which is gram-negative than on the gram-positive E.coli. The efficacy can be compared to those Omnipen and Ampicillin, two commercial antibiotics.4/

     Can we identify plants which posses certain medicinal properties, such as diarrheal, without subjecting it to the conventional laboratory procedure? Initial experiments using thin layer chromotography  established positive indications on the antidiarrheal property of guava (P. guajava), camito (C. cainito) and avocado (P. americana). More advanced chrommatography can now be used in improving this technique. 5/

     The use of anesthetic substitutes is not new. Even when I was young, I knew from experience that ikmo (Piper ikmo), a climbing plant growing in the backyard, when chewed, deadens the taste bud as well as soothes toothache. I witnessed a dentist in Bolinao, Pangasinan, use ikmo as local anesthesia in tooth extraction. A ball of ground fresh young leaves of guava was later administered to seal the wound to stop the bleeding. An experiment was conduct at SPCQ using Indonesian queen (Justicia genderusa) and Bulacan wonder (Cleome viscosa) as topical anesthesia.
     The extract of these plants can be made into ointments that are applied to aching joints and muscles. Although the test was made on white mice, it was able to establish the basis of a potential formula. Equal proportion of the dried leaf extract of either plant with petroleum jelly. The extract is prepared by first drying the leaves before they are ground. Ethyl alcohol is used as solvent, and because it is volatile, it leaves behind powder sediment that is the dry extract itself. A stronger dosage may be formulated for faster and longer anesthetic action. 6/
     On the village level, fresh extract is made by simply macerating and grinding the fresh leaves. The sap is recovered by straining the juice with a fined one-shade piece cloth. It is allow drying with the aid of the ethyl alcohol before it is blended with petroleum jelly. Fresh extract may be used and massaged over the effected parts of the body with coconut oil. Cleome was found to have a higher anesthetic action.

B. BT is Insect Specific

     I had the chance to work on Bacillus thuringensis way back in the early sixties. However, it was only in the eighties that the microbiological agent, a bacterium discovered and developed in Thuringen, Germany, became a biological control agent against moths and butterflies. It is also effective in controlling insects outside order Lepidoptera?

     Dr. Anselmo S. Cabigan, professor in biology at the SPCQ and former director for research of the National Food and Authority, tested BT on other major insect pest. two BT preparation were made- as spray and bait – and tested on the common housefly ( Musca domestica) of the Order Diptera. The BT inoculant was developed following a protocol named after the author.7/

     At one percent concentration, either as spray or bait, mortality rate reached up to 44 percent of the housefly larvae (maggots) treated. Since the site of the experiment is an open poultry house, subsequent generations of flies followed during the experiment. The study however was inadequate to determine if BT can effectively carry out a continuous and sustaining epidemic on the entire population of the pests irrespective of the life cycle of the organisms and stage of generation.

     Earlier researches proved the effectiveness of BT on fruit fly (Dacus dorsalis), a major pest of mango and other fruits. The pathogen killed mostly maggots in their early stage. Both bait and spray methods of application were effective with the former having a slight advantage. 8/

    Does BT work on stored grain pests? This time the experiment was on weevil, order Coleoptera. tested BT on Lesser Grain Borer (Rhizopertha dominica) just as in   the previous experiment, the inoculants were derived through the same Protocol. The preparation at 1 percent concentration (inoculants in dried papaya pulp medium) with road dust was applied to stored rice with the assurance by DOST that BT has no harmful effect applied directly with stored grains. Result: BT cannot control the Coleopterous pest. The explanation is that beetles are protected by thick exoskeleton and the moisture in the grain is too low to activate the Bacillus spores. 9/

      Similarly BT was applied on a stored corn grain to protect it from infestation. To the question, "Can BT serve as protectant against possible insect pest?” Arabella Caralde, BS biology 1998, came with up a negative result. Again, this is because BT spores can remain dormant under highly dry condition. Stored corn grains, like rice, contain average 14 percent moisture, fluctuating very little under ambient condition.

     Next was a test on the effectiveness of BT against American Cockroach (Periplaneta americana), a cosmopolitan household pests inhabiting kitchens and dirty places. Again, the result obtained was negative. 10/

     Dr. Cabigan and I discussed the result of the BT experiments. We arrived at the conclusion that definitely BT is insect specific. It is designed for caterpillars, the feeding stage of Lepidopterans. The ingested bacterial cells and spores produce toxin that acts in the gut of the insect causing the destruction of epithelial cells and consequently resulting in the death of organisms. Multiplication of bacterial cells continues even on the dead larva. Resting cells are formed and become ready for next round of infection, thus setting the momentum of epidemic, say in cornfields where corn borers abound. As long as condition are favorable for the pathogen, the host caterpillars become “sick” and ultimately die; thus BT can provide long-term protection to the crop.

      Even if the toxin is effective on other insects as demonstrated by the experiment on houseflies, the mechanism of a biological control on caterpillars has yet to be established and proven to be as effective.

      The significance of research then is not only to prove a hypothesis. It is equally valuable in disproving a claim or belief as shown in the BT experiments. BT is not a universal biological agent. It disproves claims on the effectiveness of BT by commercial manufacturers.

                                                     C. Aflatoxin

      Aflatoxin  is a carcinogenic by-product of the fungus, Aspergillus flavus, which invades poorly dried and damaged copra, peanut, and corn and other cereals and seeds. When both man and animals take these products, the toxin may cause cirrhosis of the liver.

     What happens to chicken fed with aflatoxin-tainted feed? The amount of Aflatoxin in commercial feeds is insignificant to affect broilers. Besides, the rearing period (5 weeks) is too short to allow accumulation and expression of the toxin.11/

      For humans however, aflatoxin may accumulate in the liver and the consequence may be detected only after the long period. The suspected sources of aflatoxin that enters the human body are beer (brewed from the aflatoxin tainted cereals), peanut butter (inferior peanut separated from the whole seeds and ground into peanut butter), “moldy” rice, corn and other food. It is no wonder that many beer drinkers are victims of cirrhosis. Personally, I believe that it is not the alcohol that is the main cause because beer contains less than 5% alcohol. It is the grain, like binlid (broken rice), that is the source of aflatoxin. There is little research on aflatoxin in the Philippines todate.

                                                     D. Substitute Tea and Coffee

     Tea from leaves of pandan (Pandanus odoratissimus), sambong  (Ocimum bacilicum) was formulated singly and in combination, and the product was tested through organoleptic analysis. A blend of the three plants gave a superior result, compared to any single formulation. The reason is that certain desirable characters of each component were combined. For example, basil gave the best color, flavor and texture, while pandan gave the best aroma, sambong contributed to the fullness and desirable taste of the composite product. 12/

     In another experiment, Oolong tea (semi-fermented, slightly bitter tea) was prepared from the immature leaves of avocado (Persia americana), banaba (Lagerstroma speciosa), tsaang gubat (Carmona retusa), and caimito (Chrysophyllum cainito ), the contribution of each component was determined by organoleptic test with tsaang gubat giving the desired color, banaba the taste , and  avocado, together with caimito, the texture and flavor proposed is that blending may be modified in order to suit the taste of the drinker.13/

     This is also true with another experiment, this time black tea from sambong, pandan and avocado by Michelle B. Deliguin, The leaves are first withered then airs dried, brewed and made into tea. Sambong gave the desired color, pandan the aroma and avocado texture. An increase in the amount of pandan improved the taste of the blend.

     Coffee substitutes have been the quest of those who have sensitive nerves. Even decaffeinated coffee in not the guarantee to many people. On the farm, we used a number of substitutes such as rice or corn roasted until the color is rich brown. Cacao with coffee may reduce the latter’s effect but this is expensive and cacao is not readily available. Besides, cacao has another nerve-acting property, theobromine, which is even stronger than caffeine acting as stimulant.

     Another substitute which is clandestinely added to native coffee or kapeng barako (Coffea liberica) is seed of ipil-ipil (Leucaena glauca). This is NOT recommended. Ipil-ipil contains mimosin, which retards growth causes baldness. That is why the use of ipil-ipil leaves to animals is limited. Stunted growth (bansot) and loss of hair in piglets are traced to the effects of mimosin.     

Domesticating wild species of mushroom is a challenging research

Coffee from green mungo (Phaseolus radiatus) was developed by an HRM graduate. To remove the bean taste, roasting is done slowly while the pot cover is remove to allow the substance to escape as gas. This procedure is also recommended when using soybeans (Glycine max), Lima beans (Phaseolus lunatus) and others beans belonging to the Family Leguminosae, now Fabaceae.                               

E. Technology Innovations

Can we extract oil by practical means, saving on both expense and time? Dr. Anselmo S. Cabigan led two experiments. The first experiment was the extraction of the oil of chico (Achras  sapota ) by water distillation. Although more oil was recovered with hexane, the commercial method, the distillation process was able to obtain a rich light brown distillate which is intensely sweet in odor, and which met the saponification test, and the free fatty acid analysis. The product is a valuable extract compared to extracts of vanilla, banana, Lemon and the like. 15/  

     Extraction of the essential oil from the peeling of mango (Mangifera indica) showed a similar result. In this case the hexane method produces a clearer extract other than its higher recovery over that of water distillation method, whose process took a longer time to complete. The importance of practical methods adaptable on the farm level in spite of low efficiency need not be emphasized. Distillation of lambanog (Coconut wine) in Laguna and Quezon, may be crude and inefficient, yet fits into the rural setting where investment, technology and tools are limited, notwithstanding the influence of tradition and culture. White cheese production is also crude and simple, so are patis and vinegar-making, and many more locally manufactured products. Innovations to this indigenous method are a big challenge to both scientists and entrepreneurs. 16/

F. Four stages of Research

Scientific research, in general, undergoes three basic stages, namely, conceptualization, · experimentation, and validation.

If it is thesis, the researcher, after completing the attendant academic requirements of his course, receives his diploma, leaving behind his work with his alma mater. Outstanding theses proceed to a fourth stage - publication, which is usually in the school’s research journal.

Research generally undergoes four stages, namely, conceptualization, experimentation, · validation, and publication.

It is the fifth stage – application - that is the most valuable, yet the most wanting and neglected aspect of research.

     The question, “What happens next?” points to the lack of a linkage between research and application. And because of this gap, research works gather dust in libraries, so to speak, and therefore their objectives are not achieved.

Algal bloom depletes dissolved Oxygen and builds CO2 in water leading to fish kill in freshwater and marine environments

G. Pure versus Applied Research
    Of course, the other reason why researches fail to reach field application is that there are researches, which are classified as “pure research” which, by their nature, are not intended to provide the intermediate step to application. “Applied research”, on the other hand, is precisely intended to provide this bridge.

     A good example to differentiate the two kinds of research is the case of red tide, a cyclical phenomenon of marine algal bloom. A thesis, which seeks to identify the poison accumulated in the shellfish host in order to know the composition and nature of the toxin, is “pure research”. But a thesis that is developed out of the findings of this work, if at all suitable, in order to formulate an anesthetic compound out of the poison, is clearly one that belong, to “ applied research”.

     Another crucial reason for the inapplicability of certain researches is that research proposals do not emanate from the bottom, but from the top. It means they are not gauged on the needs of the people.

     In the Philippines priority should be given to applied research over pure research. This is true to other developing countries where research funds are not only limited, but technological innovations seek practical solutions to problems at the grassroots. Call this people’s research. Before a research proposal is conceived the researcher already must have in mind the felt needs of the people.

     As one professor puts it when asked how we know if a research is good, “it is if intended for the greatest majority.” Of course, it is easier said than done. But anyone who believes in this adage and who has a heart for research is definitely on the right track.~

Alternative medicine principally using herbals such as Oregano, has gained popularity in spite of modern medicine

BS Biology researchers (1993-98) under the guidance of Dr Anselmo S Cabigan, Dr Rosalie Marcelo, Prof Concordia P. Segismundo, among others, including the author.

1/ Julio Rose del Rosario Santos 
2/ Cristina B. Aragon
3/ was conducted by Fatima V. Santiago 
4/According to Rhodora Anna M. Francisco 
5/ Evelyn del Castillo 
6/ Ma. Shiellah D. Giner
7/ Maria Cristina T. Bustos
8/ Michelle D.Gonzales
9/ Kristina Rose D. Contreras 
10/ Lourdes G. Bunuan 
11/ Bernadette Young  
12/ Ma. Cristela M. Antonio  
13/ Liliibeth F. Abalos 
14. Carmelita C. Mendoza, HRM  
15/ Peachy M. Villanueva 
16/ Myla E.Quinto,

Backyard Garden as Ecological Sanctuary

"One day I found leisure watching a spider span a huge web - a beautiful tapestry!" avr.

Dr Abe V Rotor

Our homelot nearly equivalent to a typical subdivision residential lot lies just across the watershed of La Mesa dam, the source of water for the population of Metro Manila.

Orchard-garden in our ancestral home, San Vicente, Ilocos Sur

Everyday birds from the watershed come to our garden. They perch on the trees singing melodious songs for hours. They are a gentle alarm clock and at sunset draw out the tension of the day and put it to rest. For some 25 years now with the children spending their childhood and adolescence, memories come spontaneously alive at nature’s presence. We look for nature, but nature comes to you, too. We can make the backyard a sanctuary of living things. It becomes a corner of Eden so to speak, in the inner eyes of the English poet John Milton, in the soul searching music of Beethoven, and in the quasi-spiritual reverence for life of John Muir and Also Leopold.

What makes an ecological garden? Here are some guidelines.

Let nature do the arranging of the plants – their kinds, growing habits, seasonal occurrence, and niches. This principle must prevail over our plan to make the garden Italian or Japanese in which man dictates the plan of the garden.

The garden serves three important functions.
• Cooling effect. A 10-year old acacia tree for example, has the capacity to provide the cooling power of ten 10Hp air conditioning units. Trees make a huge umbrella that protects us from heat stroke.

• Windbreak. Trees, especially if planted in group or rows, and in combination of other plants, can withstand the strength of strong wind.

• Sound barrier. Foliage serves as acoustic, absorbing echoes, and filtering unwanted sound waves, and resonating the good ones like in an amphitheater.

• Dust filter. Plants eliminate particles in the air with their leaves trapping and moistening them with transpired water, thus sending them back to the soil.

• Radiation filter. Plants serve as buffer against ultraviolet rays as well as cosmic rays. So with other forms of radiation, visible and invisible, that are harmful to health and environment.

• Color filter. Plants act like a giant prism, but unlike the lens, colors are pooled into a common color - green – the coolest of all colors, neutral and soothing to the eyes and other senses.

A garden is not a garden if it does not smell like one. Ilang-ilang exudes sweet scent throughout the year. It is sweetest in early morning and evening, and a soft breeze spreads the scent in the neighborhood. The best scents in the garden come from Eucalyptus, binunga (samat), pandan mabango, sweet basil, roses, rosal, dama de noche, and of course, sampaguita.

One day I found leisure watching a spider span a huge web. It is a giant spider called Haring Gagamba working of a tapestry. I remember the story of the Irish hero, Robert The Bruce, watch a spider making a web. The spider failed in several attempts to construct the primary frame. It gave the downhearted hero the heart to win back the crown.

In the garden, there are unceasing battles between and among living things. . Birds eat on caterpillar, frogs have their fill on flies, dragonflies hover and devour flying gnats, spiders entrap grasshoppers, preying mantis prey on unwary insects. I have observed hantik or green tree ants (Oecepalla smaragdina) build nest in the upper branches of talisay. Their colony is closely knit and their nest is an architectural wonder. The green leaves are sewed together by the workers stroking the larvae to secrete a sticky substance that dries like paper. The larva is actually carried by an adult like a tube of epoxy as other workers hold the leaves to be sewed together. These ants attack as an army that even a caterpillar is subdued in an instant and sooner or later cut into pieces which the ants carry to their nest to feed the colony.

Yet in the same spot ants and termites live together. It is a demonstration on how two different niches work, bounded by biological rules. The ant colony stays above ground to up the foliage, while the termites in an anthill called punso. Yes, the termites – they are an engineering genius. They build their mound at the foot of the big talisay tree – then, when dug out move to another place overnight, and when we think they are no longer there, it is likely that they are virtually sleeping with us inside the house. And true, we discovered a colony of termite in an apparador, and another in a roof beam. It is here that man turn against a destructive organism.

Plants kill other plants to maintain their boundaries. They abort germinating seeds even of their kind that become threat to their existence. Allelopathy is a phenomenon plants harm one another, in order to enhance success in competition for sunlight, nutrients, water and space. Plants secrete chemicals in their roots, stems, and leaves. To illustrate, we have a ten-year old malunggay that is slowly being choked by coconut and binuga tree (Macaranga tenarius). All the cultivars of mayana I planted were lost, due to inter competition, and then they were overrun by carabao grass. Ube (Dioscorea alata) takes advantage with its viny habit virtually leaping out into space, its leaves covering much of the trees and wall, then after rainy season it all disappears leaving but a five-kilo tuber ensconced in the soft earth and mulch.

But wonder what those plants are clinging on the trunk of trees. These are epiphytes, a relationship called commensalisms. The epiphytes benefit from their tree host. They gain foothold and elevation to reach sunlight without harming their host. We have a talisay tree that carries on its trunk a cluster of native orchid that blooms with a dangling inflorescence appearing like giant leis.

Lest a garden is misunderstood as purely aesthetic and ecological. One coconut tree can provide an ample supply of walis tingting, sweets, coconut milk (gata), husk for the orchids, firewood, and buko, but we love this tree of life most whenever birds build their nest on top and unfold a primitive sense of family love and care.

At night bats come and gather the ripe fleshy fruits of talisay (Terminalia catappa), and would accidentally drop a fruit or two hitting the roof of our house, and if we are not aware of the cause, we would attribute it to a prankster – or a spirit who wants to disturb our sleep.

Do you believe in spontaneoius generation? Saluyot, amaranth, kamkamote, Portulaca – these and other wild growing vegetables pop out of the ground following the first heavy rains in May, and believe it, after two weeks they are ready for the kitchen. Their succulent leaves and stems are rich in vitamins and minerals. But we do not gather the plants entirely; we simply trim down the leaves leaving the plant to reach maturity. How these wild species survive the dry months is a proof of their sturdiness which guided their successful evolution.

How high can a tree reach? Well, our ilang-ilang grew and grew and grew, and then one day a strong wind decapitated it. Then the upper branches dried up one by one until the tree has but a bunch of low branches. We know that there is always limit to growth, and the very same factors that favored it also created its liabilities. I am reminded of the syndrome of bigness whether it be an animal or tree or business. We call this Dinosaur Syndrome.

Monday, May 29, 2017

"Life is a river flowing, its source the sky and dream..."

Mural and Poem by Dr Abe V Rotor
Nature Mural by AVR 2005

Life is a river flowing,
its source the sky and dream;
clouds rising, falling as rain,
and running downstream.

Life is a river flowing,
from mountain to sea;
the bounty of the living,
kingdom and the free. 

Life is a river flowing,
nature's free energy,
prime mover of the living
world of synergy.

Life is a river flowing
incessantly through
fields and plains and ravine,
all year through.

Life is a river flowing,
flowing with laughter,
whispering, hissing, roaring,
more so in summer.

Life is a river flowing
to a sweet union - 
the spirit and nature rising
to every occasion.~ 

Our Deteriorating Environment - 20 Issues

Forest Fire painting by AVR

Dr Abe V Rotor

"We are destroying the Earth - our only spaceship in the universe. - AVR"

1.Our changing environment breeds a unimaginable ailments and diseases. Nature-Man Balance, the key to good health is being threatened.

2. The Good Life is shifting with the transformation of agricultural to industrial


3. The Good Life is synonymous to Affluence. People want goods and services beyond what they actually need. It is want that leads to luxury - to waste.

4. The world’s population is 7.7 billion. Another billion will be added in less than 10 years. Runaway population in the mother of human miseries.

5. The proliferation of cities, growth of cities to metropolises and megapolises, each with 10 to 20 million people ensconced in cramped condition. Cities breed marginal


“People, people everywhere, but not a kindred to keep," in condominiums, malls, schools, churches, parks, sharing common lifestyles and socio-economic conditions. They are predisposed to common health problems and vulnerabilities from brownouts to food and fuel shortage, force majeure notwithstanding. Poor health and crowded living conditions.

6. Loss of Natural Environment – loss of productivity, loss of farmlands, and wildlife Destruction of ecosystems - lakes, rivers, forests, coral reefs, grasslands, etc. The destruction of ecosystems is irreversible.

7. Species are threatened; many are now extinct, narrowing down the range of biodiversity. Human health depends largely on a complex interrelationship of the living world. No place on earth is safe from human abuse. Coral Reef – bastion of terrestrial and marine life, is now in distress. Atolls, a world within a world of marine and terrestrial organisms are threatened by global warming, pollution and exploitation. We have studied not even 10 % of the world’s species.

8. Wildlife shares with our homes, backyards and farms, transmitting deadly diseases like SARS, HIV-AIDS, Mad-Cow, FMD, Ebola, and Bird Flu which can now infect humans.

9. “Good Life” cradles and nurses obesity and other overweight conditions. Millions of people around the world are obese, 1 out of 5 in the US.

10. Global warming stirs climatic disturbance, changes the face of the earth.

11. Globalization packages the major aspects of human activity – trade, commerce, industry, agriculture, the arts, education, science and technology, politics, religion and the like.

12. Mélange of races - pooling of genes through inter-racial and inter-cultural marriages produces various mixed lines or “mestizos” - Eurasian, Afro-Asian, Afro-American, Amerasian, and the like. Native genes provide resistance to diseases, adverse conditions of the environment. But will this advantage hold on even as the native gene pools are thinned out?

13. Modern medicine is responsible in reducing mortality and increasing longevity.

It has also preserved genetically linked abnormalities; it cradles senility related ailments. It made possible the exchange of organs and tissues through transplantation, and soon tissue cloning. It has changed Evolution that is supposed to cull out the unfit and misfits. Man has Darwinism in his hands.

14. First breakthrough in science - splitting of the atom - gave man the atomic bomb before the nuclear reactor was developed.

15. The second scientific breakthrough – Microchip to Internet “shrunk the world into a village.”

16. The third breakthrough in science, Genetic Engineering, changed our concept of life - and life forms. It has enabled man to tinker with life itself. It gave rise to revolutionary industries Examples: In vitro fertilization, surrogate motherhood, Human Genome Project (HGP or gene mapping), multiple childbirth, post-menopausal childbirth, DNA mapping, etc. It ushered the birth of the prototype human robot – pampered, he lives a very dependent life.

17. Genetic Engineering gave rise to Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) and Gene Therapy. Biological Warfare today is more terrifying. Gene Therapy prevents gene-link diseases even before they are expressed; it has revolutionized medicine.

More and more countries are banning GMO crops and animals through legislative measures and conservation programs, including protection against “biopiracy” All over the world the battlecry is NO TO GMO! In the Philippines Bohol is the first province to launch a GMO-Free Ordinance

18. Today’s Green Revolution opened up non-conventional frontiers of production – mariculture, desalination, desert farming, swamp reclamation, aerophonics (rooftop farming), hydroponics, urban farming, organic farming, Green Revolution adapts genetic engineering to produce GMOs and Frankenfoods.

We may not be aware, but many of us are eating genetically modified food (GMF or Frankenfood) everyday – meat, milk, chicken, corn, potato and soya products, and the like mainly from the US.

Many food additives and adjuncts are harmful, from salitre in longganiza to pesticide residue in fruits and vegetables, aspartame in fruit juice to MSG in noodles, formalin in fish to dioxin in plastics, bromate in bread to sulfite in sugar, antibiotic residue in meat to radiation in milk.

Post Harvest Technology. is critical to Food Production. PHT bridges production and consumption, farm and market, thus the proliferation of processed goods, supermarket, fast food chains, food irradiation, ready-to-eat packs, etc.

• Aeroponics is farming on top of buildings. In Japan it is compulsory to maintain at least 50% of the area of rooftops of buildings as a garden or farm.

• Multi-storey farming designed like skycrapers has been introduced in big cities in the US, Japan and Europe. It is called vertical farming.

19. Exploration into the depth of the sea and expanse of the Solar System. We probe the ocean. We build cities in space - the Skylab. Soon we will live outside of the confines of our planet earth. Now we aim at conquering another planet, another Solar System to assure continuity of mankind after the demise of the earth.

20. Regional and International Cooperation: EU, ASEAN, APEC, CGIAR, CRISAT, WTO, WHO, UNEP, WFO, FAO, Fighting diseases globally – HIV-AIDS, SARS, Dengue, Hepatitis, Bird Flu, and now swine Flu. ~

We say, “Everything changes, except change.” And of all creatures, only we humans can change our environment – deliberately and rationally. We have virtually placed the world into our hands. 

"The Ingredients of Change - the factors to growth become the factors of decline."

No period in history has man influenced the environment as much as what he is doing today

in his pursuit for a higher standard of living, and affluence.

• We are losing our natural world; we are creating a world of our own design.

• We are changing our life style – from rural to urban. We leave the countryside to live in the city.

• We contribute to the deterioration of our environment on all levels and walks of life.

• We are changing the environment to meet not only our needs and but affluence.

• We tailor the environment to fit our lifestyle, instead of our lifestyle to the environment – as what our ancestors did in their time.

• We nurture a distorted vision of what the environment is, and what it should be.

• We defy the borders of function and aesthetics, reality and fantasy. We venture into the frontiers of time and space.

• We are living “ahead of our time in a free-for-all fall.” We call this Post-Modernism and Globalization

Singing Cicada

Dr Abe V Rotor

Cicada (Magicicada septemdicim) (NatGeo photo credit)

The hot summer ends in rejoice;
the air is filled with cheerful sound
of your loud and crispy voice,
calling a bride you’ll be bound.

You celebrate with the first rain
of May, and in the morning after,
you sing with high pitched strain
in clear and precise meter.

Sing, sing like the great Caruso,
Song to Celia and Schubert’s Serenade;
carefree you’re like Valentino
counting the days of a renegade.

Man may sing better and without end,
and perhaps his bride is more cute,
still he envies you his little friend
for your bride is forever mute. ~~

Note: Only the male cicada sings, the femate is mute.
Living with Nature
, AVRotor

Sounds that make us sick

 Growing Menace of Noise pollution 
Dr Abe V Rotor
Image result for Noise pollution photos
Irritable Sounds activate not only the senses but affect bodily functions.
•Pavlov’s Principle on conditioned learning.
•Adrenaline shoots up, increases blood pressure, challenges us – fight or flight.
•Nausea, headache, other forms of irritation.
•Interrupts present activity, interferes with  trends of events.
•Destroys relationship, creates personal  impressions.
Image result for Noise pollution photos
A Qantas Airways Boeing 747-400 passes close to houses shortly before landing at London Heathrow Airport. (Wikipedia). Typical traffic congestion, India. 

Noise pollution in increasing order. *

•Scratching the blackboard with fingernail, similar to a hard chalk creating a grating sound.
•Air escaping like releasing air from a balloon. 
•Productive coughing
•Throwing out is the worst.

National Geographic’s Mad Lab has this list

Saturday, May 27, 2017

What makes an unfinished work of art a masterpiece?

If you have any unfinished work of art - say a painting, literary manuscript -  which you may have put aside, re-visit it.  Who knows it might turn out to be your masterpiece.
Dr Abe V Rotor 
Image result for Venus de MiloArt leaves something to the viewer that completes it even if it is unfinished. Why Venus de Milo doesn't have arms! She might have had before, so contemporary artists tried to reconstruct the statue. They failed at the end and unanimously agreed Venus is most beautiful as she is. How beautiful she is with imagined arms looming in the fertile mind of the viewer. 

Ernest Hemingway couldn't finish his novel, The Old Man and the Sea. After many attempts, a wastepaper basket by his side, he succeeded in ending up the story the way he intended to be. And his readers are delighted. The novel won the Pulitzer Prize, and Hemingway himself the Nobel Award.

Beethoven's Unfinished Symphony is among the best examples of a masterpiece that was never finished yet became the composer's signature. 

So with Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia cathedral (photo). Gaudí devoted his last years to the project, and at the time of his death at age 73 in 1926, less than a quarter of the project was complete. Fortunately after the architect's death, construction resumed and the cathedral became a landmark in Barcelona, Spain . 

Adoration of the Magi, an unfinished painting by Leonardo da Vinci remains one of the best Renaissance paintings. Similarly here are other examples. 

  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Kubla Khan 
  • Sir Edward Elgar was composing a Symphony No. 3 at the time of his death and left 130 pages of sketches. 
  • Orson Welles’ The Other Side of the Wind .           He
  •  left behind numerous unfinished films.
  • Hendrix’s First Rays of the New Rising Sun 
  • J. S. Bach's The Art of Fugue breaks off abruptly, and was completed by other composers. 
  • Franz Schubert's Symphony No. 7 and 10 was completed by Brian Newbould 
  • Mark Twain took 20 years to write three versions of The Mysterious Stranger but he did not finish any of them. 
Who really decides when a work of art is finished? The initial reaction is, "It is the artist." Many viewers may not agree. Perhaps because the preconceived idea did not get across. Or the signature doesn't ring a bell.

Now this is the bias. There's a saying, "the singer and not the song." Many people look at a Picasso, Picasso; Amorsolo as Amorsolo. It's the Imprimatur that counts. So whether finished or not, a work of art may be regarded beautiful. Thus it is not only in the eyes of the beholder.

Unfinished works may not just gather dusts, or forgotten for nought, their fate lies in the artist's favor, or that of artists that take over its completion, often putting in their own variation. Franz Kafka's unfinished writings were released after his death despite his wishes for them to be destroyed.

So if you have any unfinished work of art - say a painting, literary manuscript -  which you may have put aside, re-visit it.  Who knows it might turn out to be your masterpiece.

Michelangelo's Prisoners, or Slaves, were begun for the tomb of Pope Julius II but never finished.In its entirety – including the Dying and Rebellious Slaves in the Louvre and the statue of Moses on the final, reduced version of the tomb eventually erected in Rome – this constitutes the greatest unfinished masterpiece in the world. Yet Michelangelo did not leave things unfinished out of laziness. It is an aesthetic choice. The tragic power of these prisoners as they struggle to emerge out of raw stone is an expression of the human condition that equals Shakespeare's Hamlet. (Internet)

Auguste Rodin was more interested in rough, blemished representations of the human body than idealized forms. He painstakingly immersed himself in his projects, sometimes spending years in order to develop a work of art, regardless of the public’s response. His sculpture was often judged harshly by the public and by critics. Rodin had a penchant for reusing old molds and reworking his earlier ideas.He would continue to alter an existing form until it developed a new identity and a new narrative. Rodin transformed a major work, a bronze sculpture—over the course of two decades—and titled it, The Walking Man.(Internet)

Benjamin West's painting of the delegates to the Treaty of Paris which ended the American Revolutionary War. Out of shame for their country's defeat, the British delegates refused to pose and so the portrait was never finished. St. Thomas Aquinas stopped work on his Summa Theologiae in 1273 after a mystical experience. (Internet) 

Popular Literature

Bahay Kubo in acylic by AVRotor

“If a man does away with his traditional way of living and throws away his good customs, he had better first make certain that he has something of value to replace them.”                                              
Robert Ruark, Something of Value (Old Basuto Proverb)

Popular literature is literally zarzuela off-stage, so natural and spontaneous, the audience and actors are one, and the topics are anything under the sun. They are full of laughter and tears,  and most often, nostalgia – laughing while crying, a sad-happy feeling, a kind of telenobela and  Scheherazade series. Stories end but there is always a second or third part, or ad infinitum. That is why Filipinos are among the happiest people on earth. 

Popular literature is shock absorber and springboard, too, hope sinks and rises like sunset and sunrise. Filipinos are great inventors. If they did not split the atom, they split hair to explode into laughter.  They do not bother formulas but know a good recipe. The best doctor is not one from John Hopkins; he is the kind elderly herbolario. Why complicate things in the first place? Anyone can be a story teller, playwright, and author and there goes the multiplier effect: literature of, for and by the people.

For example, here’s a story of a travelling old woman who stopped the bus in order to answer the call of nature. It was night time and the driver dutifully put on the brakes on a convenient roadside. It did not take long for the old woman to do her thing.  After returning and the bus had started off, the old woman suddenly stopped the bus again, and quickly ran back to the spot - because she forgot something. “May nakalimutan si Lola,” (Grandmother forgot something) quipped the driver.  The old woman just smiled back exuding a feeling of relief and contentment.  

What is the belief of old people regarding this practice of spitting on the spot after answering the call of nature?  If you believe in the  kib-baan, the spirit of trees and thickets, the fearful kapre;  the dwendes (dwarfs) that guard the anthills (punso), their home; and the spirits of the dead still roaming around, then you would not dare question the old folks. Spitting discourages the unseen that sometimes play pranks or may just chance upon some mortals.

Would you do what the old woman did if you were in her shoes, we mean slippers? Which, by the way, she removed before boarding the bus, a habit of leaving your footwear at the doorstep before entering the house.  ~