Monday, December 30, 2013

UST Christmas Concert Gala 2013

UST holds Christmas concert for Typhoon Yolanda relief

The University of Santo Tomas (UST) Christmas Concert Gala, the most awaited musical event on campus, marks the beginning of a new decade with a significant purpose – to help the victims of typhoon Yolanda.
UST CHRISTMAS CONCERT. The UST Christmas Concert Gala 2013 will be aired on IBC 13 on December 24, 2013 at 7:00pm-8:00pm, and PTV 4 on December 25, 2013 at 7:00pm - 8:30pm.

Lighting of the UST Christmas 2013
The UST Symphony Orchestra

Now on its 11th year, the Christmas Concert Gala has contributed to charitable causes particularly the heritage conservation efforts of the University and the scholarship fund of the Conservatory of Music.

This year, organizers decided to donate proceeds to the victims of typhoon Yolanda in the Visayas.

Spearheading the benefit concert are the UST Rector, Fr. Herminio V. Dagohoy, O.P. and the UST Christmas Concert Gala chairpersons, Fr. Isidro C. Abaño, O.P., UST Museum Director and Ms. Maricris C. Zobel, art patroness.

For this year, homegrown talents of the University will take center stage.
Guest performers include Dulce (photo) one of the country’s formidable belters and international competition winner who will do a rendition of J. Peterson’s “Night of Miracles” (A Christmas Cantata) and a duet with her son, David Cruz of A. Adam’s “O Holy Night.”

Two-time Choir of the World Champion; UST Singers (photo) under the baton of Prof. Fidel Calalang, Jr. and the first Children’s Choir of the World Champion, Hail Mary the Queen Children’s Choir (photo) conducted by Theresa V. Roldan will interpret popular choral pieces and Christmas classics.

Completing the roster of performers are students and alumni from the Conservatory of Music to be joined by the UST Symphony Orchestra, Liturgikon Vocal Ensemble and Coro Tomasino. (Photo below)
The traditional community singing will feature all-time favorites “Silent Night,” “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” and “Joy to the World.”
Since its inception, the Christmas Concert has always been held at the UST Chapel, recreating the European tradition of holding grand concerts in magnificent churches and cathedrals. This is also UST’s way of giving thanks to its numerous friends and benefactors for the past years.Maiden performance was held at six in the evening on December 5, 2013 at the UST Chapel.
From Press release, UST

All star cast and traditional community singing  of all time favorites “Silent Night,” “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” and “Joy to the World.”

Photos of presentation taken by Dr Abe V Rotor, December 5, 2013.  

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Christmas Message on behalf of millions of children "Begging for a Seat in School"

Begging for a Seat in School 
Dr Abe V Rotor

A reproduction of an untitled painting by an unknown artist

A disturbing scene to Maslow -
     could he have been wrong?
What is self-actualization
     to the striving throng?

What's good is the Bastille trilogy -
     pillars of modern society:
equality, fraternity,
     liberty - sans dignity?

Motherhood words may come easy;
     they cannot be mistaken,
for the lips that speak of promise
     are easily forgotten.

And the world goes on as it seems;
     a beggar boy, its conscience:
lost youth, lost hope, lost future
    in the midst of affluence.

The door is jarred to full view
     and knocking wouldn't lend an ear;
indifference makes man blind
     or takes him to the rear.

He who feels for the needy
     with nothing to give is a fool,
in a world deaf to a poor boy
     begging for a seat in school. ~

NOTE: A student of mine from Iran at the UST Graduate School left this reproduction as a souvenir. The painting was made by an unknown artist, apparently belonging to the post classicism at the dawn of realism.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Terms given to groups of animals capture their unique qualities

Dr Abe V Rotor 
A flock of birds
A colony of ants 

Here is a long list of terms given to groups of animals.

1.    A COLONY of ants                                             
2.    An ARMY of ants
3.    A STATE or SWARM of ants
4.    A HERD of asses
5.    A DROVE of asses.
6.    A TROOP of baboons
7.    A CONGRESS of baboons
8.    A COLONY of bacteria
9.    A CULTURE of bacteria 
10. A BATTERY of barracudas
11. (A BATTERY of lawyers)
12. A SHOAL of bass
13. A COLONY of bats                                                 
14. A CLOUD of bats
15. A SLOTH or SLEUTH of bears
16. A COLONY of beavers
17. A FAMILY of beavers
18. A GRIST, HIVE, SWARM of bees
19. A CLUSTER or NEST of bees
20. A FLOCK or FLIGHT of birds.
21. A POD of birds (small flock)
22. A VOLARY of birds (in an aviary)
23. A BRACE (a pair of game birds or waterfowls)
24. A DROVE of bullocks
25. A KALEIDOSCOPE of butterflies                
26. A FLUTTER of butterflies                                 
27. A RAINBOW  of butterflies
28. A CARAVAN, FLOCK or TRAIN of camels
29. An ARMY of caterpillars
30. A HERD, DROVE or DRIFT of cattle.
31. A MOB of cattle (US and Australia)
32. A POUNCE of cats
33. A KINDLE, LITTER OR INTRIGUE (for kittens)
34. A BROOD, FLOCK, RUN or PEEP of chicken 
36. A HERD of cows
37. A KINE of cows (12 cows are a FLINK)   
38. A PACK of coyotes
39. A TRAIN of coyotes                                                                              
40. A BAND of coyotes    
41. A ROUT of coyotes  
42. A HERD, SEIGE or SEDGE* of cranes              
43. A CAST of crabs
44. A CONGREGATION or NEST of crocodiles
45. A BASK or FLOAT of crocodiles.   
46. A HOVER, MUSTER, or PARCEL of crows.
47. A MURDER of crows        
48. A HORDE of crows                                           
49. A PARLIAMENT of owls
50. A LITTER of cubs
51. A TROOP of dogfish
52. A PACK (wild dogs) or KENNEL of dogs
53. A LITTER of puppies
54. A FLIGHT or DOLE of doves
55. A TEAM, FLIGHT or FLOCK* of wild ducks in flight
56. A CONVOCATION of eagles
57. A CONGREGATION of eagles
58. An ARRAY of eels
59. A HERD or PARADE of elephants         
60. A CRASH of elephants
61. A HERD of elks
62. A GANG of elks
63. A CHARM of finches
65. A RUN of fish in motion                                      
66. A STAND of flamingoes                                         
67. A FLAMBOYANCE of flamingoes
68. A CLOUD, HATCH or SWARM of flies
69. A SKULK of foxes                                               
70. A CLOUD, TROOP or COMPANY of foxes
71. A GAGGLE or FLOCK of geese
72. A SKEIN, TEAM or WEDGE of geese (in the air)
73. A PLUMP of geese (on water)
74. A CLOUD OR HORDE of gnats
75. A FLOCK, HERD or TRIBE of goats
76. A TRIP of goats 
77. A CLOUD of grasshoppers                           
78. A SWARM of locusts
79. A NEST of hornets      
80. A SCATTERING, SEIGE or SEDGE* of herons
81. A CHARM of hummingbirds
82. A BEVY of larks
83. An EXALTATION of larks                                  
84. An ASCENSION of larks
85. A PARTY or SCOLD of jays
86. A TROOP of lemurs
87. A SCOURGE of mosquitoes
88. A PACK or SPAN of mules
89. A WATCH of nightingales
90. An ENCHANTMENT of nightingales
91. A TEAM or YOKE of oxen                                   
92. A DROVE or HERD of oxen  
93. A BED of oysters
94. A SQUADRON of pelicans
95. A FLOCK or FLIGHT of pigeons
96. A DROVE OR STRING of ponies.
97. A NURSERY of raccoons
98. A MURDER of ravens                                                                    
99. A CONSPIRACY of ravens 
100. A HERD, HAREM, TRIP or ROOKERY* of seals 
101. A DEN, BED, PIT or SLITHER of snakes.
102. A NEST or KNOT of snakes
103. A HOST of sparrows
104. A FLIGHT of swallows                                                                              
105. A BALLET of swans
106. An AMBUSH or STREAK* of tigers    
107. A COMMITTEE of vultures
108. A SCHOOL of whales
109. A HERD of whales
110. A ZEAL, HERD or DAZZLE of zebras                                                                                                                           
Acknowledgement: Thanks to Hint and Things Collective Nouns, Internet

Sunday, December 8, 2013

A quiz on allergy: Identify if fact or myth.

A quiz on allergy:  Identify if fact or myth. 

Dr Abe V Rotor

1. Children who grow up on the farm are at much lower risk to allergy than children in the city.
Uncontrolled sneezing, a common symptom of allergy, may cause embarrassment and even accident . 
2. Infants on the farm have fewer allergies than those who grow up in sterile environments.

3. Children who grow up with a cat in the house are less likely to develop allergies or asthma. 

4. Very few pet owners are allergic to the animals they love.

5. Children who have been breastfed are less likely to have allergies. 

6. Milk, soy, wheat, egg, peanut, fish and meat comprise the most common food allergies.
7. Most reactions to food are not allergic in nature, but rather intolerance, that is, there is no allergic antibody involved.

8. Babies exposed late to cereal grains have higher risk to cereal allergy, especially wheat.

9. Regular use of “foreign” materials (e.g. nail polish remover, contact lens, metals) can eventually cause sensitivity and reaction to the products.

10. Allergy can induce strong and unwelcome mental and emotional reactions, such as altered perception or inappropriate changes of mood.

NOTE: These above statements are all based on facts.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Malunggay is the most popular tree vegetable in the tropic.

Dr Abe V Rotor

 Compound leaves of malunggay (Moringa oleifera); botanical description of malunggay; mature pods hanging on the tree.  (Useful Plants of the Philippines by WH Brown; Wikipedia 

In the province no home is without this small tree at the backyard or in a vacant lot. The leaves, flowers, juvenile pods and young fruits of Moringa oleifera (Family Moringaceae) go well with fish, meat, shrimp, mushroom, and the like. It is one plant that does not need agronomic attention, not even weeding and  fertilization, much less chemical spraying.  You simply plant an arms length cutting or two, in some corner or along the fence and there it grows into a tree that can give you a ready supply of vegetables yearound.  What nutrients do we get from malunggay?

Here is a comparison of the food value of the fresh leaves and young fruits, respectively, in percent. (Marañon and Hermano, Useful Plants of the Philippines)

·         Proteins                                 7.30             7.29
·         Carbohydrates                     11.04             2.61
·         Fats                                        1.10            0.16
·         Crude Fiber                            1.75            0.76
·         Phosphorus (P2 O 5)             0.24            0.19 
·         Calcium (CaO)                      0.72             0.01
·         Iron (Fe2O3)                        0.108            0.0005

Owing to these properties and other uses, rural folks regard malunggay a “miracle tree.” Take for example the following uses.
·         The root has a taste somewhat like that of horse-radish, and in India it is eaten as a substitute to it.
·         Ben oil extracted from the seed is used for salad and culinary purposes, and also as illuminant.
·         Mature seeds have antibacterial and flocculants properties that render drinking water safe and clear. 

From these data, it is no wonder malunggay is highly recommended by doctors and nutritionists for both children and adults, particularly to nursing mothers and the convalescents. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Valley of Life and Death

Mural and Poem by Dr Abe V Rotor


A valley of death, so stories go,
     for the old and the young, too;
and who would dare this fateful
     place but a lonely soul?

A valley of tears with barren shed,
     evil on nature its final bed, 
with a sprig of promised peace
     and temporary ease.

A valley of life of verdant green,
     once a full blooming scene;
life of the river down the sea,
     a world of wonder and free.  

A valley of promise, heed its call,
     words in the pulpit and hall,        
and in make believe by painting, 
     not at all worth praising.

A valley of suffering takes its toll;
     blind and deaf, the prayerful
waits for the angels to be sent   
     to this valley of death. ~   

Original title, "Dirge over a Watershed Mural." The wall mural is found at St Paul University Quezon City along Aurora Blvd.  It needs restoration.   

Gypsy Air

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
Gypsy family on the move to the city

Faithful bullock (Sta Gertrudes breed)

Oh, how the children followed the gypsy cart,
       the city bred their eyes shine in awe;
the old remembering the rustic scenes of art,
       a spectacle of parade and show. 

I remember the lady gypsy of Notre Dame, 
       the sea gypsies and the nomads; 
how free, how simple they live sans destiny. 
       known only and guided by their gods.  

One afternoon the sound of greaseless wheel
       and hoof, cart creaking and rickety,
brought into my home the gypsy air of old, 
       giving life to legend and fantasy. ~

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Energy shift from fossil fuel to renewable energy - today's global revolution

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

Giant wind turbine in Bangui, Ilocos Norte, at your finger tips. 

1. Solar or sunlight is the most plentiful energy source; virtually no place on earth is without sufficient supply throughout the day in all seasons of the year. Sunlight has many applications, from domestic (eg laundry) to agriculture (eg drying grain and fish). Here is a short list of utilizing solar energy
  • General drying
  • cooking
  • sterilization 
  • disease control
  • heating of homes
  • natural lighting 
  • desalination (saltwater to potable water)
  • solar battery (computer)
  • solar car 
  • electricity generation
  • arts, photography
2. Wind power has been the fastest growing energy source in the world since 1990 (Time). In the US wind power supplies 1.4 of total energy needs - from almost 0% of the total in 1973. What boost wind power is the government's large subsidy of $5 billion in 2010. Wind power is among the first to be used in industry.  Holland is among the countries that use it in driving mills, irrigation and manufacturing. The wind mill is romanticized by Miguel de Cervantes in his novel, Don Quixote.
  • sailing
  • ship mast
  • farm windmill
  • home ventilation 
  • wind tunnel
  • winnowing
  • kite flying, gliding
  • land surfing
  • electricity generation
3. Biofuel.  This includes ethanol from corn, sugarcane and cassava. Biogas from farm waste (piggery, ranch, poultry, organic wastes ( domestic) constitute 4.5 percent of the total energy production in the US, up from 2 percent in 1973. The US subsidy for biofuel is $6.6 billion in 2010.

  • alcogas 
  • ethanol
  • methane gas 
  • gasoline substitute
  • lubricant
  • drug, medicine
  • sludge (organic fertilizer)
  • bio fertilizer (Azolla, Nostoc, Anabaena)
4. Dendrothermal energy comes from wood. Firewood is still the num,ber one kitchen fuel in the world.
Burning rice hay is waste of energy and potential fertilizer and forage
  • firewood (gathering) 
  • firewood (farmed) 
  • crop waste (bagasse, rice hull, corn stover, hay) 
  • sawdust 
  • particleboard 
5. Hydrothermal energy cromes from natural hotsprings and fumarols. It is volcanic in origin.
Hydrothermal circulation in its most general sense is the circulation of hot water; 'hydros' in the Greek meaning water and 'thermos' meaning heat. 
  • steam power
  • electricity generation
  • bath, resort
  • manufacturing, industry 

6. Hydroelectric generation works of gravitational force of flowing water which drives turbines to produce electricity. Other than this moving water produces tremendous energy which can be harnessed.
  • SWIP (Small water impounding project) irrigation and electricity
  • water transport
  • submersible turbine (electricity)
  • water impounding
  • rain harvesting 
7. Other renewable sources of energy
  • tide (high-low cycle)
  • wave action 
  • labor-saving devices (pendulum principle)

Dry twin waterfalls Patapat, Pagudpud (IN) - result
of watershed destruction. Photo taken in December 2011

Saturday, November 2, 2013

We are destroying the Earth - our only ship in space.

Dr Abe V Rotor
We are destroying the Earth - our only ship in space.

Deceiving view of wasteful and ostentatious  living at the expense of the environment.

2. What and Where is the so-called Good Life? The Good Life is shifting with the transformation of agricultural to industrial economy.

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

4. The world’s population is 7 billion. Another billion will be added in less than 10 years. Runaway population is 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 communities

“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.

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

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, allergies notwithstanding.

9. “Good Life” cradles and nurses obesity and other overweight conditions. Millions of people around the world are obese, wih 34% of Americans in the US obese.

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. The first scientific breakthrough is the splitting of the atom that led to the development of the atomic bomb as the most potent tool of war as evidenced by its destruction at Nagasaki and Hiroshima, and the nuclear reactor which still holds the promise of providing incessant energy to mankind. The second scientific breakthrough – Microchip led to the development of the Internet which “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. Revolutionary industries Examples: In vitro fertilization, surrogate motherhood, Human Genome Project (HGP or gene mapping), multiple childbirth, post-menopausal childbirth, DNA mapping, etc. 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. It has also primed Biological Warfare into a more terrifying threat to mankind and the environment. On the other hand Gene Therapy aims at preventing gene-link diseases even before they are expressed; it has actuallty revolutionized medicine. More and more countries are banning GMO crops and animals through legislative measures and conservation programs, including protection against “biopiracy”

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.

• Hydroponics or soiless culture makes farming feasible in cramped quarters, and it increases effective area of farming.

A return to marginal existence
after destroying the environment 

. Aeroponics or Multi-storey farming Vertical Farming Farming in the city on high rise buildings
• 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.

19. Exploration into the depth of the sea and expanse of the Solar System - and beyond. We probe the hadal depth of 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 is key to global cooperation: EU, ASEAN, APEC, CGIAR, ICRISAT, WTO, WHO, UNEP, WFO, FAO, like fighting pandemic diseases – HIV-AIDS, SARS, Dengue, Hepatitis, Bird Flu, etc. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Recycle plastic for good reasons

Dr Abe V Rotor

Plastic for cycling

Recycle plastic for value added advantage, giving the material a second life - or more, for the same or different uses.

Recycle plastic to get rid of it as waste - waste that virtually remains undecomposed for years, if not centuries.

Recycle plastic to save small fish from asphyxiation, ruminant animals from digestive malfunctioning.

Recycle plastic to reduce emission of harmful gases into the air, and contaminants in soil and water.

Recycle plastic to clear canals and waterways, reducing incidents of flood, if not preventing it to happen.

Recycle plastic to get rid of the most toxic substance man has ever made - dioxin - emitted by its burning. 

Recycle plastic for decors and crafts in keeping with the festive air in Christmas, 
fiestas and other occasions.

Recycle plastic to provide materials for housing, erosion and flood control, and other  infrastructures. 

Recycle plastic under the responsibility and accountability of manufacturers, taking much of the burden for consumers. 

Recycle plastic separately: non-biodegradables for re-utilization, bioidegradable for  soil conditioners and similar uses.

Recycle plastic when there is no other way to stop its manufacture, to substitute it with environment-friendly materials.

Recycle plastic before it is too late, before the earth has accumulated a cover not of vegetation but of  non-biodegradable film and foam.

Recycle plastic and go back natural - natural flower, natural fiber, natural wares, above all natural face and smile.  ~

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Growing Threats of Biological Warfare

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
 Convalescing patients of the Spanish Flu of 1920 in NY.  An estimated number of 100 million people died from this mysterious virus - more than all victims of the Bubonic plague, and those killed in the two world wars combined.  One out of 6 people on earth then succumbed to the disease. The epidemic suddenly ended as fast as it became an epidemic two years before. 

International epidemic signs: radiation, chemical and biological 

 As an aftermath of the catastrophic 9/11 bombing of the Twin Towers in New York, the US Postal Service ordered gloves and masks and irradiation systems for key mail-sorting facilities in Washington, New York and New Jersey, but questions as to whether these measures to prevent anthrax from spreading via mails are effective or not remain unresolved. Does zapping letters and packages with radiation really kill anthrax spores? What is the downside to irradiation? Are the postal workers really protected from anthrax and other biological warfare germs?

- As a precaution the US government has accelerated the delivery of 40 million doses of smallpox vaccine to add to the 15.4 million doses already stored. These will be enough to inoculate every American. One drawback is the possibility of side effects of the vaccine particularly to those receiving other medical treatments such as chemotherapy.

- African killer bees (Apis mellifera scutellata) claimed to have escaped from a laboratory have interbred with the domestic species creating an equally deadly hybrid that now threatens the US after spreading throughout Brazil, Central America and Mexico. A colony is made up of some 70,000 ferocious bees with the queen bee reproducing up to 5,000 a day to maintain this enormous population.

E. coli is a familiar intestinal parasite. Naturally occurring outbreaks of Escherischia coli typically the result of fecal contamination in anything from hamburgers to swimming pools, sicken hundreds of thousands of people each year. What really trigger the outbreak of E. coli? What caused the epidemic that hit Tokyo three years ago?

As I ponder over these scenarios I remember when I was a child seeing many people who were survivors of smallpox epidemic. The center of the epidemic was a town whose population was decimated. The mere mention of its name rings the sad memory of the early 1900s’ disaster. Lapog became virtually synonymous with the name of the dreaded disease. It was later renamed San Juan (Ilocos Sur).

My father told me that of the eight siblings in the family, only two of them survived the disease. Uncle Leo who was the oldest miraculously survived, and my dad who was the youngest was born after the epidemic had subsided.

In my mind I still can picture the faces of a dozen survivors. Pockmarks cover their faces, and may also cover the body, arms and legs, including the ears, nose, eyelids and lips which become somehow disfigured. Fingers and toes are deformed in serious cases.

But I remember how these survivors continued to live normal lives. I remember them as happy and hardworking in spite of the traumatic experiences they went through. Psychologists say there are many survivors of tragic experiences who find the new lease in life a new opportunity. Stories on how whole communities rise with these survivors uplift the spirit. I saw this miracle happen in the family and community I was brought up. Many people in many places I believe, can overcome painful experiences with this kind of spirit.

Conquest and Diseases

Christopher Columbus and his men allegedly introduced syphilis in the New World. The meeting of East and West during the era of colonization also resulted in the exchange of diseases. James Michener’s novel, Hawaii, relates how smallpox caused death and sufferings to the natives. To the novel’s principal character, the Reverend Hale, it was a manifestation of God’s wrath on the sinful and the non-converts. While this incident helped him in his mission, the end proved that the English missionary was wrong - that God is not a God of vengeance. Whole settlements in the New World just perished to indigenous diseases that were unknown in their countries of origin. Scientists explain that these pioneers lacked the natural immunity to the diseases, in the same manner that diseases introduced into the Old World killed many people similarly because they did not have the natural resistance. This is the basis why for many years until recently, the World Health Organization and many countries required the vaccination of travelers against certain diseases as a requirement in obtaining passports and visas.

These are of course incidents that we can dismiss as force majeure or historical events, which our faith and culture may accept. But what about in the case of war when man is pitted against man, nation against nation?

Man’s Inhumanity to Man

How different it is to think about war. Since biblical times war has always been associated with inhumanity – man’s inhumanity to man. It is the antithesis of culture, of civilization, the very institution that is supposed to eliminate this treat to society. Ironically war has plagued every civilization, and many a great civilization has been the center of human conflict like the epicenter of an earthquake. According to the historian Gibbon twelve great civilizations that include the Greek and Roman civilizations fell because of war. They never recovered again.

History is not replete of the fact that the more civilized societies have been the cause of the loss of peace, if not the whole destruction of the less civilized ones. The great Spanish conquistadores forever destroyed the great civilizations of the Aztecs and the Mayas, in the same way that the pioneers in the West forever destroyed the American Indians.

Early Biological Warfare

Carthage a thriving agricultural and trading center during the times of the Roman became swamp and subsequently into desert that we know today. How did this happen? The invading Romans drew saltwater into land flooding settlements and fertile lands, thus finally putting to end the powerful enemy.

How The West Was Won, is a story of the destruction of the American Indian civilization which had been flourishing for many centuries. The natives fought fiercely at the European invaders and defended their “nation” for years. But the pioneers knew exactly the key to their victory over the powerful Indian tribes - to annihilate the buffaloes, millions of them that roamed the Great Plains or what is known as the prairies. Because buffaloes provided the Indians their basic needs from food to shelter, famine ensued and the great American Indian civilization was ultimately reduced into marginal settlements. Buffalo Bill is reported to have killed more than three hundred buffaloes in a single day for which he earned his name and “reputation.”

What if China’s threat to send one million Chinese to fight and die in Vietnam had come true? I heard of this story during the Chinese-Vietnam conflict that preceded the Vietnam war. Should such unthinkable strategy happen, the task of burying the dead alone, more so in controlling pestilence, would certainly render the enemy country defenseless and economically bankrupt. On the part of the triumphant country it shall have somehow reduced pressure on its burgeoning population and rid the misfits. Many believe that war is a purification process of a society. Definitely it is not. The Germans lost thousands of scientists in World War II. Many soldiers who died in the Vietnam War were among the finest of the youth of their time in their respective countries.

But man has not had lessons enough. And war in its most ugly form using chemicals, biological agents, nuclear and ultramodern tools, is with us and it is all over the world now. For nuclear arsenals alone, the world’s total stockpile has the capacity to kill three times the whole population of the world. The world is witness to the recent wars in Iraq, Bosnia and Macedonia, Uganda and Angola and Afghanistan. It is happening with the Tamil Guerillas in Sri Lanka, along the Pakistan-Indian border, the Basques guerillas, the IRA in Northern Ireland, and other parts of the world. It is happening in our home ground with the Abu Sayaf and the NDF-NPA. War has many faces indeed.

War Without Borders

Something unexpected and different happened. On September 11, 2005 year the World Trade Center, a 110-storey twin-tower was erased from the skyscraper map in matters of minutes shortly after two planes commandeered by terrorists smashed into the superstructure signaling the vulnerability of our present system of capitalism. It challenged the economic powers of the world, particularly America.

The world woke up into a new age hitherto unpredicted - the age of Terrorism and the birth of a new nation without political boundary, but an invisible organizational network with its tentacles reaching global proportion.

This time intrusion into the enemy’s territory or defining the place of battle does not follow the conventional rules anymore. In fact there are no specific rules when we refer to the modus operandi of terrorists. Scenarios of war have thus changed after the September 11 attack.

This paper concentrates on the tools of biological warfare. Here are some of them.

First there is anthrax, the most serious and the first to hit the headlines after the bombing of the World Trade Center. It leads a dozen of similarly devastating epidemics of biological warfare potential.

Second, there is an attempt to revive bubonic plague that killed one-third of the world’s population in the Middle Ages. It was the Japanese who experimented in the making of bubonic flea bombs intended to spread the plague in major USA cities. The project was to breed the fleas which harbor the plague bacteria in its body, then scatter these to infest rats and other animals in the target area where they in turn multiply and transmit the pathogen to the residents. The bomb was successfully tested in China with hundreds of Chinese succumbing to the bubonic plague bacteria. Preparations were then made to attack the US. But the US had decided to drop the first atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The bubonic flea bombs were never used. Japan hastily removed all the evidences of its evil experiment even before its surrender to the US.

Third, the threat of influenza which killed several millions at the first part of the twentieth century in the US and many parts of the globe has caused alarm as early as the 1980s after discovering a new strain of virus, a hybrid of the chicken and human influenza viruses. Based on the ratio of victims with the population in the first epidemic, scientists are looking at the possibility that some 60 to 100 million people could die of the new influenza virus strain should it strike in our times. In spite of utmost precaution to stave off the epidemic, scientists believe that we are not yet off the hook.

Biological warfare intends to use germs with historical epidemic background. Here is an outline of the basic facts about these most important potential epidemic diseases.


Photomicrograph of a Gram stain of the bacterium Bacillus anthracis, the cause of the anthrax disease. Wikipedia 

• Also known as malignant pustule, malignant edema or woodsorters’ disease

• Most common in South America, Australia, Africa and Russia

• Highly infectious disease of animals, occurring especially in cattle, sheep and other ruminants, horses and mules as well.

• Transmitted to humans through contact with any part of the inside or outside of the animal carrying the infectious agent

• Caused by Bacillus anthracis whose spores which are resistant to disinfectants and heat, may remain infectious even after 15 years in soil. Grazing animals can accumulate spores contained in the droppings of infected animals

• Humans acquire the disease through cut or wound of the skin, by eating infected meat, or by breathing in the spores contained in the dust emanating from the sick animal’s hide or hair

• Skin infection characterized by severe itching and appearance of boil, usually on the arm, face and neck. The inflamed area grows into an ulcer called a malignant pustule, which eventually bursts and produced a black scab. Fever, nausea and swelling of the lymph glands are accompanying symptoms

• Internal anthrax acquired through inhalation results in acute pneumonia. When infected meat is ingested symptoms of acute gastroenteritis occur

• Anthrax is effectively treated with antibiotics. Immunization against the disease has been made possible through the use of vaccine. Effective livestock management is key to the control in the spread of the disease.

Bubonic Plague

o Known as the Black Death in the Middle Ages which ravaged Europe and Asia

o In some places as many as two-thirds of the entire population died

o So-called from the blackening spots which broke out from the skin during the course of the disease

o Characteristic symptoms are fever and swelling of the lymph nodes mainly the groin and armpit

o It is caused by the plague bacillus (Pasteurella pestis) which is transmitted from sick rats (Rattus rattus norvigicus) to humans by flea bites (Xenopsylola chopis)

Small pox

• Highly contagious, often fatal that once ravaged mankind in epidemics. Just one infected person could cause the virus to radiate from a family to a neighborhood to a city in a matter of months.

• Smallpox cannot be treated effectively once symptoms begin. 30 percent of those infected will die.

• WHO declared the eradicated of smallpox in 1980. Routine immunization for protection against the disease was stopped as early as 1971.

• First signs: chills and high fever, severe headache and backache, followed by rash which eventually covers the entire body and turns into pus-filled blisters

• The blisters in turn dry up to form scabs which very often leave pockmarks.

• The disease may be accompanied by vomiting, convulsion and diarrhea Complications include other skin infections such as boils and abscesses, ear infections, pneumonia and heart failure

• Disease is not transmitted by animals

• Disease has been eliminated through world wide vaccination programs, although a mild form still exist in Ethiopia

• The disease has been largely eliminated by extermination of rats. Antibiotics such as oxytetracycline, streptomycin and chloramphenicol are effective in its treatment

Other Potential Bio-Warfare Organisms

There are many organisms that can be used in biological warfare. A terrorist attack aimed at crops and livestock would be less dramatic but might cause more disruption in the long run.
Potato Blight – also called late blight, a worldwide serious disease of potato and tomato in cool humid countries caused by a fungus, Phyhtopthora infestans In Ireland 30 percent of the population starved to death, died of typhoid fever that followed - or emigrated during the period 1845 to 1860. Tomato blight caused by the same fungus destroyed 50 percent of the crop in Eastern US in 1946.

Rust Fungi - There are species of Puccinia affecting ceraeals and among them which is Puccinia graminis tritici consists of 200 such races to which wheat varieties are differentially susceptible. Although rust fungi are host specific and can only complete their life cycle in the presence of alternate host such as barberry in wheat rust, the potential fore biological warfare is great to consider that cereals comprise the staple of the mankind. The narrowing down of varieties for commercial cultivation exposes greater danger of rust diseases to spread out into epidemics.

Salmonella - In 1984 a cult in Oregon set off a wave of food poisonings. Gastroenteritis caused by natural contamination and careless food handling afflicts millions and results in 5000 deaths each year. Salmonella is a large group of rod shaped bacteria that invade the gastrointestinal tract, among them typhoid and paratyphoid germs.

Antibiotics are recommended to combat Salmonella infection. A recent incident happened in Rizal when hundreds of children who ate spoiled spaghetti were hospitalized. The religious group, which sponsored the feeding program, admitted fault to the incident. A similar case also happened two years ago. The owner of seven-eleven apologized for the incident and paid the victims.

Foot-and-Mouth Disease – The disease affects hoof animals from hogs to cattle. Its natural occurrence is worldwide and we have our own season in the Philippines that is during summer. Although the pathogen is not transmitted from animals to humans, losses incurred are usually heavy with the infected animal economically worthless.

Like in the case of mad cow disease, and chicken flu that affects humans, the infected animals are destroyed to prevent infection. Quarantine and an extreme sanitation program are the best defense in curbing the spread of the disease.

Mad Cow Disease – It is called bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE that has been determined in 1996 to infect humans in the form of a new variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD). Eighty people in Britain have died of CJD and there is no data to show how many more will die because there are initial signs of acquiring the disease are not clear and that the gestation period of the virus before it reaches the brain is up to 15 years. It originated in Britain crippling the country’s giant cattle industry, then spread to the European and now it has reached Japan threatening some 4.6 million cows.

Other biological warfare agents include potato beetles, which Britain suspected the Germans for dropping small cardboards bombs filled with the beetle pest on English potato fields. In the 1980s Tamil militants threatened to target Sri Lankan tea and rubber plantations with plant pathogens.

HIV-AIDS – So far 17 million have died and at least 25 million may follow. The heart of the epidemic is at the lower quadrant of Africa. AIDS is anti-Darwinian – it is society’s fittest who die, not the frailest, thus leaving the children and old behind. But recently more and more children become victims. There are 3.7 million children who have died of AIDS and AIDS has orphaned 12 million children.

An estimated 8.8 million adults in Africa are infected with HIV/AIDS and in the seven countries in Africa 1 out of 5 is living with HIV and 3.8 millions Africans are infected every year. There are 36 million adults and children in the world living with HIV/AIDS. Bioterrorism may be eyeing at the spread of the disease in the industrialized countries through the blood donation and immunization channels, other means notwithstanding.

Ebola – It is a highly virulent disease caused by a virus that originated in Africa infecting human and primates. Much of the information about the disease is a mystery but one thing sure is that it is almost one hundred percent fatal once a person gets the virus.

Contact of any kind, and even only through inhalation, the virus can be acquired in no time. One incident showed a member of a religious congregation who had been treating ebola patients suddenly died. Ignoring warnings other members attended her funeral. One of them got the virus and died later.

African Giant Snail (Achatina fulica) – brought by the Japanese to the Philippine during WW II. Pest of garden and field crops. Damage can lead to crop loss and consequently starvation. The pest persists to this day but seldom develops into epidemic proportion. The introduced Golden Kuhol thought to provide livelihood on the farm became a major pest affecting more than 50 percent of our lowland ricefields.

Protection Guidelines

Here are guidelines to protect yourself.

1. Keep distance from possible sources of biochemical materials such as spores of the deadly anthrax. Be wary of suspicious parcels.

2. Get help from authorities to get rid of suspicious looking materials. Curiosity kills the cat.

3. Be familiar with the locations of Bomb Shelters. Such shelters are found in big cities like New York, Tokyo and Tel Aviv. We do not have one in Manila, but there are places and buildings you can find temporary shelter in case of attack.

4. Don’t loiter in centralized air-conditioned places like malls. Avoid crowds and busy streets if you can.

5. Early symptoms should be treated immediately by a doctor. Anthrax for example has flu-like symptoms.

6. Keep resistance high all the time. Good rest, balanced diet, regular exercise are key to resistance against diseases.

7. Don’t be a victim of psychological war. Terrorism thrives on it. We have yet to coin a word for biochemical phobia.

8. Like Boy Scouts, remember “Always be Prepared” – for your own protection. Equally important be prepared always to help other people.

On September 11 (9/11) many people thought Third World War had started. Well, the big wars we know started small. In our modern world an all out war is likely to employ all kinds of warfare – chemical and biological – and worst is the use of nuclear weapons. There are no defined borders and everyone is a potential victim. It will be difficult to detect the enemy and the tools of war he will use. The “morning after” exposes further destruction. Nuclear weapons have long years of half-life. It means radioactive materials will continue to kill, to make people sick. Even to this day, there are people in Japan where the atomic bombs were dropped 45 years dying due to radioactive fallout.

This is also true with bacterial spores. They have the capacity to re-infect and cause a second or third wave of epidemic. Even after the white flag is raised, still many people continue to get sick and die – physically and psychologically. In many cases it is beyond medicine to cure – or science to explain.

In early 1960s I was part of a research program at UPLB, then UP College of Agriculture, in promoting modern agriculture to farmers. Among the farm chemicals I handled were herbicides. By coincidence the US was developing a chemical called Orange Agent that I found out later was to be used in Vietnam. While this chemical can maim or cause death, its intended use is as a defoliant. By spraying the chemical trees lose their leaves, in fact their entire crown. When this happens a jungle would easily catch fire and in no time spreads out flushing the Vietcong guerillas from their hideouts.

It was my first encounter with biological warfare. The memory does not only linger, it has remained fresh.

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