Sunday, April 8, 2018

Guava - Tree of Happy Childhood

Where have all the kids gone?
Native guava (Psidium guajava) Family Myrtaceae

Where have all the happy children gone
Perched on the spreading branches bowing,
Their faces and clothes with fruit stain over
Heeding no care, time and parents calling.

Doldrums, doldrums, how hard it is to bear,
In the school like Huckleberry Finn;
The tree's image on the blackboard seen,
With the hours in countdown to the scene.

The clock strikes five and the tree is alive again;
Make haste for childhood comes back never.
And the guava tree does not stay long neither,
'Cept in sweet memory where it lives forever. ~
If there is a ninth or tenth wonder of the world, it is the guava tree. For me it is the first wonder - the wonder of childhood.

Have you seen a tree bearing “fruits” bigger – and heavier - than its whole structure?

And here is one for the Book of Guinness. Have you heard the guava tree talk, laugh and shout, sing beautifully or grunt, make echolocation signals? Parents remind their children not to miss their siesta or classes. Then doldrums reigns but briefly. But soon the children are back to their favorite tree.

Take the backseat London Bridge, Golden Gate or Eiffel Tower. The guava tree can bend and touch the ground, and become upright again – not once, not twice but many times in its lifetime - and in a child's lifetime. And every branch equally obliges to the 180-degree weight and pull of children. No wonder the best spinning top and the best frame for slingshot are made from guava wood, and is perfect "Y", too.

It is a living Christmas tree, sort of. Birds come frequently. The perperoka and panal - migratory birds from the North, come with the Amihan and eat on the berries, while combing the place of worms, and gleaning on anything left by harvesters. The pandangera bird (fan-tailed) dances on the branches, while the house sparrow perches, picking on ripe fruits and small crawlers. And if you wake up very early, meet the butterflies and bees gathering nectar and pollen from the flowers. Take a deep breathe of the morning air spiced with the fragrance of both flowers and ripe fruits.

And the tree has eyes. True. Round and luminescent in the dark, mingle with the fireflies and the stars – and a waning moon. It is romantic, scary and sacred. Fruit bats come at night and pick the ripe fruits. Rodents and wild pigs scavenged at night. Moths and skippers, relatives of the butterfly, are nocturnal in their search for food and mate. Old folks would warn us kids never to go near the tree at night. In my career as biologist I had the experience to see in the middle of a field guava trees lighted with fireflies. This scene was in Sablayan in Mindoro island. What a sight - Christmas in another time and in another place. What a magnificent sight!

Would a child go hungry where guava trees abound? I don’t think so. Because the fruits are packed with sugar, vitamins and minerals. The fruits are made into jelly, pickled and cooked as vegetable. It is perfect for sinigang. Have you heard of guava wine? It is the most aromatic of all table wines made from tropical fruits, and it displays a rare pinkish glow. Nutritionists say guava is rich in Vitamin C, richer than most fruits, local and imported. I came to learn later of the cancer-preventing substance derived from Psidium guajava,its scientific name, and its miraculous healing attributes.

Name the ailments commonly encountered, and the guava offers a dozen home remedies. Chew the tops and make a poultice to relieve toothache. The village dentist tells you to first make a poultice the size of a marble, then after he has extracted your tooth, he tells you to seal the wound with it to prevent bleeding and infection. Pronto you can go back to your usual chore.

Guava stem is the first toothbrush, try it. Soften the smaller end and you can also use it as toothpick. This is practical when traveling in a remote area. Chew a leaf or two for astringent and tooth paste. Crushed leaves serve as aromatherapy, a new term today. And for an unconscious person, burn some dried leaves, fan the smoke toward the patient while pressing his large toe with your thumb nail. The patient senses both pain and smoke and soon takes a deep breathe - another, and another, until he gets enough oxygen and he wakes up.

Decoction of guava leaves for bath is practical in eliminating body odor. Guava soap is effective against skin disorders like pimples and eczema.

My daughter Anna Christina developed in her college thesis Guava Ointment, an all-natural antibacterial solution of the plant’s anti-inflammatory and therapeutically active properties against wounds or burns. Extract from the leaves contains 5 to 10 percent tannin, and fixed oils that have antibacterial and inhibitory effects against microorganisms that cause infection.

Here are the main ingredients of Anna’s Guava Ointment.

• Tannin, a non-crystallizable complex polyhydroxylphenolic compound is present in the leaves and stems.
• Fixed Oil which is frequently found in the roots, stems, branches, flowers and fruits. It exists as oil globules in special cells.
• Volatile Oil is an odorous compound found in various plant parts. It usually evaporates when exposed to the air at ordinary temperature. It is obtained by stem distillation, solvent extraction or absorption into purified fats.
• Petrolatum is the ointment base used, sometimes called “Petroleum Jelly”. It is a purified mixture of semi-solid hydrocarbons obtained from petroleum.

You can make your own Petrolatum with castor oil, coconut oil, beeswax, sorbitan tristearate, silica, tocopherol (vitamin E), and natural flavor. You may consult your local pharmacist about these ingredients. Petrolatum is thoroughly mixed with the extract and kept for use in a typical ointment container.

When I was a kid my auntie-yaya would gather succulent green guava fruits as remedy for LBM. Tannin regulates the digestive enzymes and stabilizes the digestive flora. She would also make guava leaf tea as a follow-up treatment.

As an offshoot of all these experiences, I asked my students to look into the potential value of guava seeds. The seeds contain 14 percent oil, 15 percent proteins, and 13 percent starch. And study also the bark and leaves in the development of drugs against diarrhea, and as astringent.

At one time I was isolating yeasts that occur in nature which I needed in preparing bubod – yeasts complex for basi wine fermentation. I stumbled upon two kinds of yeasts - Saccharomyces elipsoides and Brettanomyces - the second, I discovered is the secret of French wine quality. This French yeast resides in our home yard, in the flower of the native guava!

Preparing guava jelly at home; closeup of ripe fruits

Guava bird; closeup of flowers, source of wild yeast strain for wine making.
Later I found out, the same yeast naturally occurs in the flowers of macopa (Eugenia jambalana) and duhat (Syzygium cumini), both members of the guava family - Myrtaceae. I am very grateful to the Food Development Center (FDC) under the National Food Authority for helping me in the isolation and identification of these specimens.
Guava is the tree of happy childhood. The tree bears fruits and children. Look at all the children climbing, swinging on its branches, some armed with bamboo poles, others with small stones, still others with slingshots aiming at one thing: the ripe fruits on the tree. The tree builds sweet childhood memories.
Nature has a way of preserving the guava species through seed dormancy. Dormancy is a temporary delay of seeds to germinate for a few days to several years. This is important as a survival mechanism. Guava seeds are not destroyed by gastric juice and peristalsis of the digestive system of animals that eat the fruits, whether they are cold or warm blooded. It is because of their thick and hard pericarp. This biological process enhances not only germination but dissemination in a new territory.

You can’t crack guava seeds. If you do, especially with a decayed tooth you’ll end up going to your dentist. Oh, how I would wince and hold on anything. Either the old tooth is forced out of its place or the seed has lodged in a cavity.

Old folks also believe that guava seeds can cause appendicitis. Well, its seed is too large to enter this rudimentary organ. I believe though that it is its abrasive nature that makes way for bacteria to enter and cause infection. And subsequently inflammation. Well, if this is true, then it’s a risk one takes in eating guava. You really can’t remove all the seeds, and if you succeed you take away the fun and quaintness of eating guava.

We have introduced foreign varieties of guava which really don’t grow into a tree. The fruits are very much bigger, but far from being as sweet as those of our native variety. In a few years the guapple, as it is called, becomes senile then dies, while the native guava lasts for a lifetime, a generation, perhaps longer, and reach several feet high.

Today when I see children climbing guava trees it reminds me of my childhood. It reminds me of its many friends – birds, ground fowls like ducks, chicken, bato-bato (wild pigeons), goats and self-supporting native pigs. I imagine butterflies, dragonflies and Drosphila flies attracted by the ripening fruit. And frogs and toads patiently waiting for these flies to become their prey. Finches and sparrows, the quick and dainty La Golondrina (swift), the pandangera, panal andperperroka – I miss them.

Yes, the fruit bats, they are the source of children stories, among them is about clumsy bats dropping their load of ripe fruits accidentally falling of rooftops. In the dead of the night what would you imagine? “It’s the manananggal! (half-bodied female vampire).” Our folks at home would even make their voice tremble. And we would cling to each other in bed we kids in our time. Our elders would take advantage of the situation and whisper, “If you don’t sleep, it will come back.”

In the morning who would care about the mannanaggal? Or seeds causing appendicitis? Or the danger of falling from the tree. Or chased by wild boar? Or challenged by billy goat or brooding hen? As usual we would search for ripe berries and have our fill. Then we would hurry down and run to relieve ourselves, too loaded we simply take comfort in some thickets. In time guava trees would be found growing in these places.

Years after, I will see children climbing these trees and having their fill of the fruits, joyous in this adventure of childhood, making the guava tree the greatest wonder of the world. ~

Capture the Joyous Moments in Photographs

Moments of joy, moments of suffering,
they come together in ease and strain;
nostalgia the happiest state of mind,
sweet is sweeter after pain. ~

Dr Abe V Rotor
Posing with a baby elephant, Thailand
Moments of joy, moments of sadness;
they come like a moving wheel
every day, all the time in our lives,
on the road of trial and will.

Moments of joy, moments of loneliness,
they come like a rolling cloud
in light and shadow, bright and gray,
fall as rain and clear the shroud.

Moments of joy, moments of suffering,
they come together in ease and strain;
nostalgia the happiest state of mind,
sweet is sweeter after pain. ~

Wild pigeon (bato-bato), pangaw (Ilk)

Philippine Hawk, Avilon Zoo San Mateo

Taking pride of ones craft.

Apple mangoes, Don Antopnio Subd, Diliman QC

Floating lotus flowers, Thailand

Baby rabbits

Bronze sea lion, Thailand

Prize catch to market - siriw

Fruit cart, Darwin, Australia

Vegetable market, MM
Fish sauce (patis) for sale in a wet market, MM

First to see dragon fruit. Origin: Vietnam

Friendly owl. Avilon Zoo, San Mateo, Rizal

Bunny at home, QC

Garland of Dioscorea, relative of the ubi, at home QC

Listening to the sea with tambuli shell, MM

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

"Blogs hailed as agents of change, relevance, hope." -

Living with Nature 
wins Best Web Log (Blog) for Nature and Environment

"... We, the bloggers in Nature and Environment, are all winners in the great quest of saving our Mother Earth.  We are pioneers in today's revolution - environmental revolution - the greatest movement ever that involves every citizen of the world to carry out all means of taking care of our only home - Planet Earth. Congratulations to other blogs as well for their support to this great cause; and to the organizers of this awards night." 
 - Abe V Rotor, quoted in an interview with

Blogs hailed as agents of change, relevance, hope
(See story below)
 Dr Abe V Rotor expresses gratitude to the judges, organizers and audience after receiving the award of Best Blog for Nature and Environment 2015 during the Philippine Blogging Awards night at the SMX Aura, Taguig last November 22, 2015. With him is program's dynamic master of ceremonies, Mr Cris Urbano.  
Blogs hailed as agents of change, 
relevance, hope
By: Yuji Vincent Gonzales

Whoever said that blogging is only for the young?

For 75-year-old Abe Rotor, age is not a hindrance to make the most out of the digital media. In fact, at his age, Rotor is currently maintaining three blogs, and has a total of about 5,000 posts since he started blogging in 2008. “I tell you, I enjoy blogging even in the middle of the night, or wake up early in the morning to finish a lesson or two,” he said.

Rotor, who won the best nature and environment blog in the Bloggys 2015 Awards for, told that blogs should be used as instruments of compassion, interconnectedness and universality.

“The blog is one avenue you can express many things—you can express your creativity, your thoughts, your feelings, and things we think that the computer may lack like love and compassion. That’s not true. Use the blog and put your feelings there,” Rotor said in an interview during the Philippine Blog Awards Night at SM Aura in Taguig City on Saturday.

“Have compassion with people. Have your advocacy, just don’t be moralistic. Blog is the modern way of publishing. And you are always right when you blog on the condition that you are truthful and you do your research,” he added.

Rotor, award-winning author of “The Living With Nature” handbook and a former professor at the University of Santo Tomas, said bloggers should be guided by “universal values” and channel their emotions in telling their stories.

“You’ll see that the blog creates universality. So you have to be guided by universal values if you want to maintain your blog and appreciate it. You must not only address your blog to Filipinos, to your friends, but to the whole world,” said Rotor, who also served as scientist at the Department of Science and Technology, director of the National Food Authority, and Senate consultant on food and agriculture.

“You know how to blog, you know how to use social media, but don’t make it as a robot. Make it alive. Make your blog speak—speak of truth, speak of happiness, speak of sorrow. But in the end, it will have to show some kind of hope, a new determination, a new life. Don’t stop your story by being tragic at the end,” he added.

For e-commerce advocate and Bloggys 2015 judge Janette Toral, blogs are relevant in this day and age because they share additional insights and knowledge that “usually goes beyond what the traditional media would cover.”

“I think blogs are relevant the moment they add value to their readers. The moment readers get entertained, the more readers get informed and get additional insight, and at the same time they were also able to change the lives of their readers in one way or the other, whether in perspective or in the way they do things, I think that’s when a blog becomes relevant,” Toral told

“It has to establish a niche and go beyond just publishing a brand story. It’s about how they put themselves in the story, their insight, and how they exert effort to become relevant to their readers. Their story should not be about them but how their story will help their readers make a better decision,” she added.

Torral said bloggers should see their interest or hobby as an opportunity to foster goodwill and to promote “ideas that will make our country better.”

“Sometimes bloggers are afraid to do certain things because they saw others doing it already and they don’t want to be accused of copying. At the end of the day we all have our different audience… A blog needs to establish a certain relationship to their readers and the people who believe in them,” she added.

Meanwhile, investigative journalist Raissa Robles, who won the award for best blog in the society and politics category for, said blogs can be agents of change in the “crossroads” that is the 2016 elections, as she sought the support of her fellow bloggers for a special project.

“We have to choose wisely and we have to choose well. Freedom is very much alive in this country,” Robles said in a short speech after accepting her award.

‘Alive, well, and world-class’

Highlighting the “talent, passion, and impact” of the entries, editor in chief and judge John Nery shared how the panel had a difficulty in picking the winners because many blogs have world-class quality.

“The Philippine blogging scene is alive and well,” Nery said in his closing remarks.

“Precisely because of the quality, I think it’s important to stress that each of the finalist should be considered as a winner, too,” he added.

Bloggys, a nationwide blogging event, recognized the “most relevant and engaging” blogs owned and written by Filipinos. Bloggers and readers started nominating entries in September.

Aside from Rotor and Robles, this year’s Bloggys winners include for arts and entertainment, for beauty and fashion, for business and finance, for corporate and brand, for family and relationships, for fiction and literature, for food and dining, for health and fitness, for lifestyle and hobbies, for news and events, for personal diary, for photo blog, for sports and recreation, for technology and Internet, and for travel and places. was also awarded as the best designed blog and the overall Bloggys champion. TVJ

11:25 PM November 21st, 2015- See more at:

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Part 1 - NATURE Paintings with Verses

 By Dr Abe V Rotor 
Painting in acrylic ( 29.5” x 24.5”)

Fly high and spread peace
 before the coming of storm,
 truce in the battlefield,
brotherhood its norm. 

Painting in acrylic by a child participant in an art
workshop conducted by the author in his residence
in San Vicente, Ilocos Sur, 2016.  The abandoned
palette board was later discovered under a mango
tree where on-the-spot sessions were held.
 Work of art abandoned,
a brush with the paint dry
on a palette board;
“Where has the painter gone?
Had he taken the canvas,
in lieu of a masterpiece?”

Painting in acrylic (15.5” X 32”)

Celebration in foliage and blossom
In some corner of Eden, Behold!
 Green thumb has made to bloom;
Move over flash and thunder bold.

Painting in acrylic (24.5 x 32”)

Fruits from different lands and seasons,
gifts to man Ceres and Epicurus gave
for his health and many other reasons;
from which too, the best wines are made.

Painting in acrylic (16.5" x 18")
Oh, heart on the wall
     do you still feel?
Do you still throb -
     the throb of love?
Ivy, ivy on the wall,
     don't hide 

     a living heart.

Painting in acrylic (11” x 14”)
Green umbrella against global warming,
man’s primitive dwelling;
he has all reasons to revive this craving
as it was in the beginning.
Painting in acrylic (19.5” x 30”)
 I paint the stream laugh and cry,
     and hiss over the rock;
 the clouds on the mountain high, 
     down the sea and back.

Sun and rain the life of the stream,
     the hills and watershed,
music of the wind and sunbeam
     shining over our head. ~    

Painting in acrylic (17.5” x 18.5”)
Bouquet - how fresh,
picked for vase or lei;
how withered and shy
at the end of day.

Bouquet - how missed
the bee, the butterfly
in the garden, the rainbow
in the sky.. ~

Part 2 - NATURE Paintings with Verses

 by Dr Abe V Rotor 
Painting in acrylic (12" x 17")

You come in springtime and autumn, 
    too eager a bud  ahead of your time; 
what promise of life awaits tomorrow
    from where you've broken through?

Whichever path you take from now,
    you'll miss the adventure of youth 
in summer, and stillness of winter,
    Oh, how could you live to the full?  

"For having lost but once your prime,
    you'll always tarry," so says a poet;
"It's now or never," so sings a bard,
    and I, I've neither a poem nor a song.
Painting in acrylic (18" x 21")   
Sway with the breeze,
     dance with the wind;
         Greet the sun with dewdrops
In summer turn golden, 
     and bow,
And die sweetly to feed 
     the world. 

 Painting in acrylic (11.5" X 16") 
                                 Let the world go by in their bower, 
lovers blind to the busy world,
away from the maddening crowd; 
fleeting moment is forever, 
to this pair in their lair.

Wonder in our midst who we are,
blind to each other, but the world,
strange this crowd we are in;
where's this lovely pair, 
where's their bower?    

Pisces and Echinoderms 
Painting in acrylic (8" X 10") 

Distant in phylogeny, yet live they together
in one community we call ecology,
ever since the beginning of our living world,
millions of years ago before man was born
to rule, to reign supreme over all creation; 
wonder what Homo sapiens means 
to true peace and harmony 
beyond his rationality.  

Painting in acrylic ( 11"  x  13.5") 

You're all made of spikes,
     I can't see the real you;
in your invincible armor
     in any view. 

Wonder how many of us
     live like the urchin
in silent, unknown ways
     and never seen.

Painting in Acrylic (13.5" x 13.5")

Hidden, the heart throbs
     in deep silence;
two nails embedded,
     unseen in pretence
of living, loving, caring,
     the highest art, 
filling the five chambers
     of the heart.  

Painting in acrylic (17.5" x 21.75") 

Abstract over realism can you paint innocence,
     move over classics, you are too pure
to be true, and impressionism too assuming,
     with apologies to Monet's azure sky.  

Oh! abstract indeed is a child's innocence,
     buds in early spring, grains ripening;
heart of a true friend, pledge of real love,
     growing in the passing of time. 

Colors are mere symbols, wanting to behold,
     the magnificence of mind and heart,
triumph of the human spirit over our frailty,
     the most challenging of all art.~      
Painting in acrylic (11” x 14”)

Caterpillar, when you are gone
two things come to mind:
the butterfly you have become,
and the damage you have done
and left behind.

Art, art, whatever way defined,
the subject on the wall,
or dripping on the floor,
art, art you aren't hard to find
after all. 
Painting in acrylic (8” x 10”)

A trio in adventure weaned out
     of their nest too soon;
to explore the world beyond,
     like the Prodigal Son.

What lies in the deep and dark
     cavern with many eyes,
but monsters real or imagined
     lurking for a prize.

It’s inevitable stage of life,
     all creatures undergo;
weaning - crossing the bridge
     and cutting it, too.

FISH SWARMING           
          Painting in acrylic (9” x 17”)
I’ve seen jellyfish swarming,
Plankton in coral reefs glowing;
a myriad fireflies mingling
with the stars, linking us all
to a Supreme Being. ~