Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Gulliver's World

Dr Abe V Rotor
Photos by Matthew Marlo R Rotor, Puerto Sunken Pier, San Ildefonso, Ilocos Sur Canon EOS 350
I’m Gulliver, my world’s Lilliput;
Bushes crowd by the riverbank,
Where other creatures too are small.
I’m dreaming or they have shrunk.
Now I’m in the land of the dwarfs.
The grass is tall, big is the fern,
For the giant in me is no more;
Kindness I beg for what I didn’t earn. ~

I am in an Alien World

Dr Abe V Rotor 

Drynaria fern covers the limbs of an acacia tree. Tagudin, Ilocos Sur

I wonder from far below if my sight is failing,
     or my imagination is taking me to the past,
when the giant reptiles began to form wings
     to escape the doom of a meteor's blast.

Or is a dead giant resurrecting in its wake,
     its limbs growing out into progenitors
that biology has failed to discover or probe,
     else i offer my apologies to my mentors.

I surrender each discovery I make to knowledge,
     knowledge no one can claim his own;
my poor mind has to wait for an answer, if any,
     even those before mankind was born. 

Bitter-Sweet Pods of Acacia

Dr Abe V Rotor
Mature pods of acacia 

I wonder how you can make sugar,  
     from the sun to leaves to pods;
wouldn't the same process I know,
     unlock the secret of the gods?

I made your pods into syrup;
     if goats love it, why can't man?
But, oh, how I brought Golgotha 
     down, its taste is next to none. 

I fermented your pods into wine,
     Ambrosian taste my goal,
Oh, not even by nature's aging
     could make a drinker a fool.

I looked up at your spreading crown,
        and wondered what good you're meant,
   cracked your pods for a final taste  

       of life's bitter-sweet taste and scent. ~   

Florence Nightingale - The Lady with a Lamp

Dr Abe V Rotor
Florence Nightingale attends to the sick and wounded soldiers in Scutari Hospital in Crimea
                           Detail of Franz Roubaud's panoramic painting The Siege of Sevastopol (1904)

Battle at Balaklva (site of the actual battle, "The 
 Charge of the Light Brigade," by Alfred Lord Tennyson)

 Florence saw to it that the hospitals were clean and orderly. 
Florence receives the wounded soldiers in the Crimean War 

Young Florence before deciding to become a nurse (she was past 30); 
the icon of the nursing profession several years later 

Tombstone marking the grave of Florence in England

Who is Florence Nightingale? She is one of the most famous women of the world. She is the founder of the nursing profession

Her first patient was a dog. And this is the story.

One day when she was a girl she happened to pass by a wounded sheep-dog on the roadside.  The shepherd told her that his dog met an accident and broke a leg. The wound was so bad that the dog would have to be killed since this was the custom in those days.

She did not delay; she made splints and bandaged the wound, and not for long the dog was running about again. The shepherd was very thankful to Florence, and when she became famous he would tell people that her first patient had been his dog, Cap.

In 1854 war broke in Crimea in the southern part of Russia. It was fought between Russia on one side and Turkey, helped by Britain and France, on the other. Florence was then 34 years old, and had convinced her rich parents to let her become a nurse.

The conditions prevailing in the Crimean War were getting worse. There were no hospitals, or if there were, they were poorly managed. There were few doctors and nurses were more of housekeepers of hospitals. It is not like the hospitals we know today. There were as many wounded soldiers dying due to lack of proper medical attention, as there were in the battlefield, a condition the British soldiers were experiencing.

On receiving this news the Minister of War in England wrote a letter to Florence requesting her to organize a team of nurses to go to Crimea, which is more than a thousand miles away, and would take weeks to reach through poor roads and rough seas.

She accepted the challenge and immediately set forth with 38 women volunteers, most were devoted nurses from religious hospitals. They braved the stormy sea, and when they were on the way, the Battle of Balaclava was being fought. This is the famous battle in British history known as The Charge of the Light Brigade.

This is how a survivor described the battle.

“Because of the mistake about what they were supposed to do, these six hundred men galloped along a valley more than a mile long, with Russian cannon shooting at them from all sides. Many of them were killed and wounded, but they never stopped until they had ridden right up to the cannon and captured them.”

The wounded soldiers from the Battle of Balaclava were among the first patients of Florence and her volunteers.

The life of nurses was very hard in those days. They attended to many household and kitchen works. There was very little time to rest. What made the condition worse was because women in those days were not equally treated with men. There was discrimination, especially by the doctors who were all males.

But Florence persevered, so with the remaining volunteers and new nurses she trained. The hospitals became very clean and orderly. She established a system of management. There were enough supplies. Gardens were cultivated to supply the hospitals with fresh fruits and vegetables. There were fewer patients dying than before and they were recovering much faster.

Florence would be holding a lamp in the middle of the night, or into the wee hours in the morning, just to check the conditions of the patients. This scene became the symbol of the modern nursing profession.

Here in our country we have many battles to be fought. But these battles are not those in Crimea many years back. The enemy is different yet the objective is the same – the welfare of the people. We need fighters against poverty, disease and hopelessness. We need fighters who give themselves unselfishly, voluntarily without fear.

We have leaders in the Philippines in the like of Florence Nightingale. One of them is Dr. Fe del Mundo, a medical doctor who founded the hospitals for children. These hospitals are among the best managed government hospitals in the Philippines today. Because of these hospitals thousands and thousands of children have been saved. Many more patients were given proper medical attention in the last fifty years or so. Many doctors and nurses have been trained to follow the example set by Dr. Del Mundo.

People who have apparently lost hope find the lamp in the middle of the night burning bright. Florence Nightingale and Fe del Mundo are making their rounds. ~

Acknowledgment: Internet, Wikipedia, Ladybird Book Series

Note: The Crimean War (October 1853 – February 1856) was  a conflict in which Russia lost to an alliance of France, Britain, the Ottoman Empire, and Sardinia. While neutral, the Austrian Empire also played a role in defeating the Russians.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Therapy through Music

Violin and Nature is an experimental approach to music therapy  
Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature - School on Blog
Music must be elevated from the level of entertainment and expression of skills to one that brings the listener to a state of catharsis, relieving him of the stresses and tensions of daily living. Music therapy is now recognized as part of alternative medicine. There are musical compositions that bring about the so-called Mozart Effect, named after Amadeus Mozart whose compositions are acclaimed by scientists to be the most therapeutic of all musical compositions, even among his contemporaries in the classical and romantic schools.

This article is the result of a research conducted by the author with his class at the UST Graduate School as respondents to the hypothesis that the combination of Violin and Nature sounds has therapeutic effects to the listener. And if so, how? What aspects of our body physiology, mind, psyche, and spirit are affected? In what ways, and how do we measure such effects?
Cover of tape, later copied into CD. Shorter versions are available: Violin and Birds, Violin and Waves
Can auditory art be developed by converting word to music, and re-create the sound of nature to accompany it? The idea is to find a compatible blend of science - the prosaic and formal, with humanities - the entertaining, cultural, and the sounds of nature, definitely a rare experience that takes place in the inner vision of the mind. Violin and Nature is a CD recording or 32 extemporaneous popular and semi-classical compositions played on the violin by the author with accompaniment of birds, insects, wind, waterfall and running stream.

People say, “ Relaks lang” or “just do it” as part of daily conversation. Either it is taken as advice or compliment, the message is clear: life today is growing tenser. “ Take it easy” has a reassuring note that everybody must learn to live in a stressful world.

Both the poor and rich are subject to different forms of stress, so with the city and village dweller. Ironically, stress does not spare growing affluence. In fact, it persists invariably throughout life, virtually from womb to tomb.

The idea of dealing with tension or stress is how one is able to reduce it effectively so as to enjoy life and get rid of its complications from headaches to various psychosomatic symptoms- and eventual health problems, if it is not checked on time.

One proposal is the use of therapeutic effects of music and nature, thus the rationale of this experiment that employs the combined soothing sound of the violin, and the harmony of nature.

Music is well known to reduce tension. Pipe-in music increases work efficiency in corporate offices, takes out boredom in otherwise monotonous assignments, and fosters proper attitude and disposition, when correctly applied. In fact, scientists have established the biological basis of music by being able to increase the production efficiency in poultry and livestock with the use of background music. The key is the reduction of stress in the animal. The same result has yet to be established in plants.

A stressful life builds tension in the body. Headache, wakefulness, palpitation, indigestion, trembling and many other symptoms, which wear away the life force, accompany tension. Tired nerves need rest and quiet, as nature needs time to recuperate her exhausted energies.

What is tension? It is the effort that is manifested in the shortening of muscle fibers. Physiologists compare muscle tension with “neuromuscular relaxation” to differentiate popular interpretation of relaxation as amusement, recreation, or hobbies. To be relaxed is the direct physiology opposite of being excited or disturbed.

Neurosis and psychoneurosis are at the same time physiological disturbance, for they are forms of tension disorders. Therefore, the key to treatment lies in relaxation.

Who are victims of tension? Everybody is a candidate. These are models of tensed individuals: the “burnt out” housewife, the tagasalo in the family, the gifted child, the dominant lola, the authoritative patriarch. These persons themselves are not only victims of tension; they spread tension among people around them.

Multitudes long for a better life, but they lack courage and resolution to break away from the power of habit. On the other hand, many escape from the harsh realities of life by taking alcohol and drugs.

The whole idea of relaxation is in disciplining the body to budget life’s energies, and to immerse oneself to relaxing moods. Music and nature are a great inexhaustible source. Plato and Confucius looked at music as a department of ethics. They saw the correspondence between character of man and music. Great music, they believed, is in harmony with the universe, restoring order to the physical world. Aristotle on the other hand, the greatest naturalist of the ancient world supported the platonic view, which through the Renaissance to the present dominate the concept of great composition. Great music has always been associated with God’s creation.

Nature on the other hand, produces calming effects to the nerve. Sightseeing, picnic and camping are a good break to prosaic city life. Different from ordinary amusements in the park or theater, the countryside is one arena of peace and quiet. Features on TV and print media provide but an alternative scenario. Today “canned” Nature is being introduced in many forms such as traveling planetarium, CD-ROM Nature Series, Ecology Village, and the like, to illustrate the growing concern of people to experience the positive effects of Nature in an urban setting characterized by a stressful modern life.

This experiment is based on the premise that the combined effects of music and Nature help reduce tension in daily living, particularly among working students in the city.

Conceptual Framework
A- Tension tends to dominate the body to relax, resulting in tension build-up in the muscles;
B- Music (violin solos) and Nature’s sounds( birds, running stream etc.) make a composition which provides a rare listening experience in varying intensity; and
C- The experience enhances relaxation, reduces tension and its physiologic effects in the individual.
The Violin and Nature recorded in compact disc (CD) was then presented for evaluation to students in Research Methodology at the UST Graduate School on two aspects, namely, the content of the tape and the perception of the respondents. Physiologic response was determined by measuring the pulse rate before and after listening to eight sample compositions from the tape for thirty minutes.

These are as follows:

1. Serenade by Toselli (semi- classical)
2. Meditation, from the Thais by Massenet (classical)
3. Lara’s Theme (sound track of the movie, Dr. Zhivago)
4. Beyond the Sunset (ballad)
5. Paper Roses (popular)
6. A Certain Smile (popular)
7. Fascination (popular dance music)
8. Home on the Range (country song)

Respondents Profile

This is the profile of the 42 respondents, which made up one class in research methodology. They are predominantly female students (81%), employed (86%), with ages from 21 to 29 years old (76%).

Content Analysis
The respondents counted eight tunes or pieces, of which 5 are familiar to them. They identified three non-living sounds (running stream, wind, and waterfall, aside from the violin), and two living sounds (mainly birds).

Physiologic Response
The average pulse rates before and after listening to the tape are 79.47 and 73.29 per minute, respectively, or a difference of 6.18. Statistically, the difference is significant, thus confirming the relaxing effects to the respondents after listening to the CD.

The ten criteria used in rating the perception of the respondents are ranked as follows, adopting the Likert Scale. Note: A scale of 1 to 5 was used, where 1 is very poor, 2 poor, 3 fair, 4 good, and 5 very good.

Criteria Rating Rank
1. One has the feeling of being
transported to a Nature/Wildlife scene. 4.48 1

2. Listening to the tape creates an aura
of peace and serenity. 4.39 2

3. The composition is soothing to hear,
Has calming effect on the nerves. 4.24 3

4. The composition creates a meditative
mood. 3.95 4

5. It brings reminiscence to the
listener of a past experience. 3.64 5

6. It helps one in trying to
forget his problems. 3.59 6

7. One has the felling of being
transported heavenward, to Cloud 9. 3.55 7

8. There is tendency to sleep while
listening to the composition. 3.52 8

9. It brings about a nostalgic feeling. 3.19 9

10. The composition makes one
sad and melancholic. 2.55 10

Analysis and Interpretation
The means the first three criteria fall between good and very good, while the others, except the 10th, are between fair and good. This finding supports the positive relaxing effects of Violin and Nature.

Conclusion and Recommendation
Listening to Violin and Nature slows down pulse rate significantly, thus reducing tension, and brings the listener closer to a state of relaxation. The effects are measured as based on ten criteria. Topping the scores which are classified Very Good are:

1. One has the feeling of being transported to a Nature /Wildlife Scene;
2. Listening to the tape creates an aura of peace and serenity; and
3. The composition is soothing to hear, and has calming effect on the nerves.

There are six other parameters that support the hypothesis that the CD is relaxing. This is different from its effect of bringing nostalgia, sadness and melancholy that received the lowest scores and rankings.

However, there is need to improve the quality of the compositions, and their recording. It is also recommended that similar evaluation be conducted on other age groups and people of different walks of life who are similarly subject to stressful life and environment. ~

Friday, January 12, 2018

Living Wall

What living things can you see on the wall?
Dr Abe V Rotor 
Wall Garden  in acrylic by AVR 2015

Where are the butterflies fluttering, midges hovering,
honeybees in their daily chore,
mantises stalking for prey, ants scurrying,
carrying goods to their store? 

Where are the birds chirping, crickets fiddling, 
calling the members of their kind,
millipedes moving like train, snails gliding, 
camouflaged and hard to find?

You can't see them in this composite painting; 
only through imagination
do they exist - the art of make-believe working 
in the artist's solemn bastion. ~

Get out of your confine, love the sun

Dr Abe V Rotor
Dr Anselmo S Cabigan examines pine saplings in Lipa Batangas,

Why do living things behave as they do;
what trigger plants to bloom profusely;
insects metamorphose in their mid cycle,
midges swarm, like the locust do?

Why is the pine confined on the highland,
save a few acclimatized on the lowland;
the desert suddenly blooms after a rain,
returning barren in the scorching sun?

Why the firefly's lantern the purest light,
plankton glow in the deep, eyes flash;
silk the finest textile, honey the sweetest;
boundless, flawless the birds in flight.

Ask the naturalist, and if you are one,
talk to the trees, sing with the breeze,
crickets, greet the first rain in May,
get out of your confine, love the sun. ~