Sunday, March 30, 2014

Musical Summer for Kids - and Grownups, too

 Musical Summer for Kids - and Grownups, too
Musical Summer for Kids - and Grownups, too
Dr Abe V Rotor
Piano recital in the home with relatives and guests
The violin, the soulful and classical instrument, perhaps the most admired, too.  
It's a  potpourri of notes this trio play with the violin and the uke.   
Guitar and Ukulele  offer the young enthusiast a choice. 
It's the uke many children love to start with. 

Summer is the shortest season for kids; they don't know when it starts and ends, and in between - there is never a dull moment, like marching too fast to go along, and too soon to reach the destination;

Summer is musical with the gusts of wind tamed into breeze by the trees, hissing, whispering, shaking the old ones to the ground into a pile of litter, inviting passersby to stop and rest in the tree shade; 

Summer is musical with peals of thunder like distant drums and gongs, getting nearer and nearer each time, lighting flashing, and soon the sun is blocked, overcast reigns in a strange music of  gloom;

Summer musical with children flying kites in lilting joy, kites soaring in crescendo and cantabile, string taut in notes and tunes, audible by the touch of the hand, receiving messages from up high;

Summer musical with kids learning to play the violin, the soulful instrument of all time - string, wind, percussion -  and blending with any, or all of them, under the baton of a seasoned maestro;

Summer musical with kids abandoning for the time being the computer, the mall and loafing, learning the fundamentals of good music, and differentiating it from the postmodern noise-music version;

Summer musical with kids barely reaching the keyboard, hard at carrying and beating the drum, short of breath to reach the high notes, too thin a voice for modulation, yet wish they were on stage; 

Summer musical is replaying classical musical movies like The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, Oliver, Noli the Musical, Les Miserables, The King and I, Mary Poppins, this time with keener perception and interest;

Summer musical is attending workshops, getting tutor lessons, qualifying for membership in a band or orchestra, performing live before select audiences, at the grassroots and in rural communities;    

Summer musical is meditation with the sound of nature drowned in the city jungle, music that calms the heart from too much work and study, to appreciate the value of beauty and freedom, shared and enjoyed by all. ~   

Our Promising Labrador-Siberian Dog

Dr Abe V Rotor
Chicklet is a cross of Labrador Retriever and Siberian Husky.  Carlo walks Chicklet regularly in the neighborhood.  
 A pet dog needs a spacious and well-ventilated, safe and secure pen. 
To be the master of your dog; it must recognize you as head of the pack.  

If you receive a gift - a puppy half-Siberian, half-Labrador, what would you do?

You will like it, Papa, said Marlo my eldest boy who came for a visit, handing over the shy innocent baby canine. And who wasn't glad in the family?

I imagined, remembering some movies I saw, working dogs up in the Arctic, pulling sleds the way bullocks do in the tropics, or reindeer in the Lapland. Dogs retrieving ducks during hunting season. She will grow big and useful, Papa. Marlo assured me, now in my past seventies. Maybe I thought I would be needing a companion dog, not necessary a working dog; a watchdog at least.  

Just like Nikko, our Doberman for 15 years that died three years ago, Leo my youngest boy, was in approval. I'll take care of her, Papa. And took the shy puppy into his lap.  Let's think of a name. We looked for a name in the calendar.  St Bernard. No, that's another breed.  St. Gertrudes.  No, that's a breed of cattle. Let's just call her Chicklet.  Why not Pepsi, it's easier to pronounce and to call. 

Since then everyone called her Chicklet.  Quite often I mistakenly called her Pepsi, and she would likewise respond. Mackie, our baby grand daughter was simply amazed. Until it got vaccinated from rabies we kept Chicklet isolated. Her home? The pen of our late Nikko. Oversize for a puppy.

A month passed, she doubled in size. Three months.  She was as big as our Ten-Ten-Ten, an Askal dog that found refuge in our home on the tenth of October 2010.  Hence his name.
Perfect playmates.  Neither one wins nor loses. 

She's now on her fifth month.  She has grown big and strong.  I wonder what make a crossbreed special.  So I did not research.

The Labrador dog in Chicklet began to show. 

The Labrador Retriever, also known as The Labrador or Lab, is one of several kinds of retrievers, a type of gun dog, even-tempered and well-behaved around young children and the elderly. Labradors are athletic, playful, and the most popular breed of dog by registered ownership in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. 

A favorite assistance dog breed in these and other countries, Labradors are frequently trained to aid people who are blind and people with autism, act as therapy dogs, and perform screening and detection work for law enforcement and other official agencies. They are prized as sporting and waterfowl hunting dogs. England is the country of origin of the Labrador. (Wikipedia)

Every time  Leo Carlo (photos) would take Chicklet for a walk in the neighborhood, heads turned to inquire, others would guess - Siberian Husky.  Leo would just nod.  What is it in Chicklet that is Siberian?
The Siberian Husky or "Sibirsky husky" (Russian) is a medium to large, dense-coat working dog breed that originated in north-eastern Siberia, recognizable by its thickly furred double coat, sickle tail, erect triangular ears, and distinctive markings.

Huskies are an active, energetic, and resilient breed whose ancestors came from the extremely cold and harsh environment of the Siberian Arctic. Siberian Huskies were bred by the Chukchiof Northeastern Asia to pull heavy loads on long distances through difficult conditions. The dogs were imported into Alaska and later spread into the United States and Canada as sled dogs and later as family pet and show dogs . 

Breeds descending from the Eskimo dog or Qimmiq were once found throughout the Northern Hemisphere from Siberia to Canada, Alaska, Greenland, Labrador, and Baffin Island. With the help of Siberian Huskies, entire tribes of people were able not only to survive, but to push forth into terra incognita. Admiral Robert Peary of the United States Navy was aided by this breed during his expeditions in search of the North Pole. (Wikipedia)

Chicklet by comparison with human longevity is one year old now.  She is learning obedience. By two (14 in humans) she will enter the age of puberty.  By three (21 years in humans) she will become assertive in the role taught her. She will prove her loyalty. This will make her a good guide dog. Caring and trusting, especially with kids.  We are seeing in her such tendency. 

Will she be a working dog?  Not really, not a sled dog. Retriever, perhaps.  She loves catching balls, as well as disarranging (retrieving) things playfully. She is going to develop right conduct. She would be accompanying us in our rounds, going to church, to market, or simply on a walk.    

Too early to say yes, to all these, and others as well, in certainty.  Already Chicklet is a dog-rooster in the morning; her barking wakes the neighborhood.  She likes to walk with Leo Carlo, first in the vicinity, now even outside the neighborhood. A breed for the cold region? Yes, she takes a bath by herself.  Just give her a basin of water. Does she howl like her forebears in the vast Arctic?  No but her barking sends other dogs howling. Does she play rough? Yes like English rugby, and Canadian Hockey. But it's all game.

One time my patience reached an end at Chicklet's insubordination.  She refused to stop barking. It disturbed our peace and sleep. No scolding would help. I didn't spare the rod. She yelped and surrendered in genuflection. The next time she got her punishment she laid prostrate, motionless, meek as lamb. 

I carried her to her pen. She looked at me in total submission. I am the leader of the pack. Imagination took me to the lands of the Labrador Retriever and the Siberia Husky. ~   

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Bryophytes: Link of Protists and True Plants

Dr Abe V Rotor
Moss (Musci)
Liverwort (Marchantia) 
 Hornwort (Anthoceros)

Bryophytes are the intermediate forms of life between the Algae (Kingdom Protista) and the Tracheophytes (Vascular) or true plants. Bryophytes bridge the evolution of life in the Plant Kingdom.

Anyone who has seen “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids," or the second travel of Gulliver in Brodningnag, could easily place himself into imagery where small things are very big.

A blade of grass becomes a perfect slide, an ant becomes a pony for going places, a raindrop can knock one down hard.

Now imagine the lowly moss to be as large as a tree. A liverwort becomes a large green carpet shaped like a liver. A hornwort has pinnacles in Gothic style. When you are microscopic in size, everything you see around you becomes large.

Bryophytes are the link between the two kingdoms of the protists, and the true (or vascular) plants. They are early forms of plants, which botanists believe to have stopped evolving. Thus, they are today what they were millions of years ago. They are, indeed, living fossils.

Observe a piece of rock covered with bryophytes. It appears like a miniature forest under the magnifying glass. It is dense and every space is occupied by structures that look like trunks and leaves. On closer look, however, these structures are not true organs, because they lack vascular tissues, which are found in higher plants. The tissues are needed for water and food to flow to keep the plant alive.

Alternation of Generations

The moss has a unique two-in-one life cycle. Botanists describe the gametophyte as either male or female plant, while the sporophyte is one containing the total number of chromosomes. The former carries only half the number of chromosomes (haploid). When the sporophyte plant matures, it produces spores, which will germinate and develop into gametophytes. When the gametophytes mature, they form both eggs and sperms that fuse together to form a zygote. The zygote grows into another sporophyte that will carry the next generation. This alternation of generation is the key to the survival of bryophytes even under harsh conditions.

Bryophytes are Nature’s Soil Builder

When the plants are uprooted, one will find soil underneath. This means that bryophytes grow on rock by digesting it first with acid. The softened rock yields to the roots and releases elements needed for growth and development. As the plants die, their organic debris is mixed in with the rock particles and form into soil.

Since bryophytes are short-lived and seasonal, the soil deposit becomes thicker by each generation, with the plant borders extending to form new frontiers. Soon entire walls and rocks become covered like a green carpet. As the bryophyte community expands to reach its peak and climax, more and more organisms become dependent on it. Millipedes find it an ideal place for a home, while providing their nutrition. Insects frequent the place as a hunting ground for their prey. Frogs, however, stay near the byrophytes to stalk the insects.

Bryophytes Create a Microclimate

A carpet of mosses on the wall or rock feels soft to the touch. It is thick and spongy. When it rains, the carpet absorbs and stores the water. At night and early in the morning, dew precipitates and is absorbed by the moss, creating a microclimate in the surrounding area that is favorable to other plants.

With the passage of time, new plants grow out from the middle of the carpet. This is the beginning of the second part of plant invasion, courtesy of the ferns. The plants are large and diverse, the forerunners of vascular plants which once dominated the Carboniferous forest, even before the dinosaurs roamed the earth.

Ferns actually form a canopy above the moss carpet, and as they do, they block the sun, wrest for space and compete for water. Fern roots wedge the open cracks in the rock, sending boulders down together with their tenants. While it is catastrophe to the pioneering plants, it is advantage to others. Nature works its way following a formula aimed at dynamic balance or homeostasis.

Soon the bryophytes do not only lose their dominance to the ferns, they have lost the place. Their job is over because the rock is gone.

“What good is rock when it loses the essence from which life rises?”

So thus the fern continue to change the landscape. When nature writes “finis” to the lowly moss, larger plants, like trees, come around, and soon the place becomes a forest. And life goes on.
Phylogeny of the Bryophytes 
Land plants





"Protracheophytes", such as Horneophyton or Aglaophyton

Tracheophytes or Vascular plants

Acknowledgement: Photos Wikipedia

Monday, March 24, 2014

Palm Sunday - Nemesis of Palm Trees and Cycads

Palm Sunday - Nemesis of Palm Trees and Cycads
Abe V Rotor
Faithful of the Christendom wave young fronds of buri, a threatened species; and oliva or Cycad, a highly endangered species, in observance of Palm Sunday. 
More than ninety percent of the palaspas are made of the buds or immature leaves of palm trees principally buri, anahaw, and coconut. Coconut trees are purposely stripped for palaspas and their heart is made into fresh lumpia.  Otherwise the trees are left to die in the grove.  As a consequence the destructive rhinoceros beetles, and pathogenic fungi breed in them, and build populations that destroy many standing trees.   

Buri, on the other hand is already a threatened species in the Philippines and in most tropical countries. The leaves are woven into mats, bags and other handicrafts. It is the young tree that is harvested for palaspas, ending the tree's potential life span of fifty years. It is not easy to propagate buri because it bears nuts only once it its lifetime - just as it's going to die. 

Survivors of  Palm Sunday takes time to recover.  It takes months to normally recover, and if harvesting of nuts is every two months, the affected trees may yield only half as much.  But then Palm Sunday comes next year, and every year thereafter. Thus we wonder if ever the tree will live a productive life of twenty to thirty years. 

I have a coconut tree at home.  We have been harvesting buko nuts every two months since 1979 when we moved into the subdivision - that's a good thirty three years (plus 5 years earlier). On the average our harvest is twenty nuts per bunch or forty buko nuts per harvest - that's four hundred pesos at 10 pesos each, city price.  Gross value per year is P2,500, based on six harvests. All these come from a single coconut tree.  

Coconut farmers may be getting more, plus the value of midribs for walis tingting, leaves for sinambong basket, woven mat, activated carbon from the shell, coir for cordage, dusts for the garden, and of course, firewood.  We have not mentioned tuba, lambanog, suka, muscovado, pulitiput, as cottge industry products from coconut. Then the ecological importance as windbreak, and companion crop of orchard trees, and a variety of cash crops.  When planted all together we see a farm model envied the world over - storey cropping.  The model is easily a 3-storey cropping to 7-storeys, one for the Book of Guiness. 

It is irony when faith collides with reality, when the spirit and body are separated by blind devotion, when the future is made bleak by one celebration, when the faithful turns into a bandwagon when unity and cooperation is already established, when faith becomes a stumbling block to a better life. 

On the other hand Palm Sunday is key to progress, to the preservation of nature, and healing of our planet. It can be made more more meaningful by planting palm trees instead.  There is good sign here.  In other countries there are churches where the people bring seedlings of palm trees, cycads, and other plant species as well. The seedlings are blessed the same way the palaspas is blessed.  There is one big difference, and this is the key.  The faithful bring back the blessed seedlings in be planted in their homes.  Others join community tree planting in plaza and parks, along roads and highways.  Others organize replanting of destroyed forests, and reclaiming wastelands. Because the seedlings are blessed there's a accompanying   responsibility and concern for their growth. Subsequent Palm Sunday celebrations in one particular feature, are held where Palm Sunday seedlings were previously planted.

The Lord will be very happy of this development.

For the last fifty years I have been campaigning in saving the palms and cycads on Palm Sunday,  starting as a student. Throughout my career as radio instructor, columnist of local magazines, and university professor, I have been consistent with it.  There are more and more people who agree with the idea and have joined the campaign. This is encouraging.  But it has not broken ground yet, as these photos here will bear me out.

Talking with the clergy, I asked apologetically, "Father, is it possible to have only the green and mature palm - not the bud leaves (white), blessed? And not the oliva, too?" The religious ambiance soon engulfed the air and the conversation led into the story of the passion of Christ. ~         

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Where have all the gypsies gone?

Dr Abe V Rotor 
 Philippine version of a gypsy - an Itinerant peddler of native products. 
                                                                      Photo taken at Lagro Subdivision, QC

Paced the wooden cart with the sound of heavy hoof,
children from their play come to view,
once in a while this strange culture comes alive
from imagination to real anew.

A child wonders how live the gypsy on the road,
sans relations yet friend to all;
like Pied Piper leading a trail of kids cheering,
waking the sleepy Hamlin whole. 

Wonder the Dark Ages lit by the gypsy's tales,  
bards in their song and play;      
live Pushkin's gypsy poems into opera and ballet, 
and Hugo's Esmeralda to this day. 

Traveled on and on the gypsies around the globe, 
touching cultures under the sun,  
but sadly losing their own in the march of time.  
Where have all the gypsies gone? 

Research Triangle: Hydrangea, Caterpillar and Me

Dr Abe V Rotor 

Mophead or Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) produces blue and pink flowers, and various combinations and hues, that many people think these are varieties or cultivars.  The fact is, the same plant may produce these varying flowers.  

What determines the color of the Hydrangea flower  is aluminum in the soil. Most soils have aluminum but if the soil is alkaline or basic - 6.0 to 6.5 pH (power of Hydrogen) - the plant cannot absorb the aluminum and therefore its flower becomes pink. If the soil is acidic - 5 to 5.5 pH - the plant can absorb the aluminum and its flower becomes blue. A mix of colors is obtained when the pH is between these ranges. This is the secret of gardeners producing Hydrangea of different hues and shades, other that deep blue or old rose pink.  There are other horticultural variations like density of the flower head, height of the plant, branching, variegation, and the like, that make Hydrangea an interesting garden plant.

 And this leads to another phenomenon of nature - dimorphism which is another challenging research. As the name implies a plant or any organism may exhibit  dual characteristics, like
two patterns of leaves, or distinct variations termed as chimaera. In Greek Mythology the Chimaera had three heads - lion, goat, and snake. Its body was also mixed having the front part of a lion, middle of a goat, and snake for a tail.

Hydrangea, Caterpillar and Me 

Came a banded caterpillar heretofore unknown,
     shielded by the plant like its own shell,
and when the clustered flowers one morning opened 
     raced this hairy convict from its cell.

It fed on the leaves, not on the beautiful crown, 
     for whatever reason beauty it spared,
and my inquisitive mind found another enigma, 
     why the flower is neither black nor red.

and whoever this emissary of doom its name,
     family and evolution, deserves study,
what these two creatures mean to each other, 
     to me, and the whole of humanity. ~  

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Go live with Nature, you may yet find the meaning of life

Mural and Poem Dr Abe V Rotor

If you've been in all your life living on the fast lane, trying to beat everyone,
though you know you'll never win this nameless race;

If you've been residing in a high rise building, taller than everything around, 
and touching the clouds, and you know your feet is off the ground;

If you've been missing the passing of seasons, the wonders that each brings,

though you keep the holidays and weekends;

If you've been constantly bothered by ailments that medicine can only relieve,

and not cure, and doctors can only advise;

If you've lost contact with your roots through the years of searching for fame,

wedging farther your connection, feeling like an  a orphan;

If you've succeeded in your career, rising to the top to the awe and admiration 

of your colleagues, yet deep inside is a feeling of emptiness;

If you've reached retirement after all the years of work and its responsibilities, 

but trapped in a dull, prosaic life of boredom;

If you've lost your loved ones, alone you gather the pieces of a happy memories,

nostalgic they are the rest of your life;

If you've been a good and loving guardian to your own children and other children, 

and they call you dad or lolo, and feeling being young again;

Get out of your confine, find a place in nature, live with her beauty and bounty,
her people and community, you may yet find the meaning of life. ~

Take a break, it's summer vacation!

Dr Abe V Rotor
Thunderous waterfall fills the air with mist and rainbow;
Never tiring or monotonous, falling water as white as snow. 
Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte
Creak and laughter blend, bamboo and children are one;
The wind tamed into whistling breeze in the summer sun.  
Taal, Batangas
Religious because we grownups pray, while the children play
with the icons and spirits, seen and unseen, in their innocent way. 
Manaoag, Pangasinan
The secret of youth is to return to childhood, 
holding back the time and never getting old. 
Calatagan, Batangas   
When waves die in joyous laughter and endless fun
Join them, it's lifetime experience in the summer sun.
 Sabado de Gloria (Black Saturday), Sta Maria, Ilocos Sur
Play the sungka, the most murderous and curseful game,
Farce for fun whether old or young, the rules are the same.
 Calatagan, Batangas
What makes an eagle tame and friendly,
is our company since it lost its home tree.
Avilon Zoo, San Mateo Rizal
Papyrus, source of the first paper from which it got its name, 
is almost forgotten. Go and find it before it loses its fame. 
Sunken Garden, UP Diliman QC
Summer is season of many fruits, as golden as the sun;
Hurry or you'll miss the sweetest when summer is gone. 
Iba, Zambales 
Butterflies, butterflies everywhere, 
come a guest as sweet as nectar;  
but sweeter her smile and calmly fair,
as if from heaven came a star.
Tagbilaran, Bohol  
The genius of kids is re-inventing the wheel
to catch the wind when everything is still.
Lagro, QC

Meditation when the sea is creaseless on its shoal, 
the wind still, is the language of the heart and soul.
Calatagan, Batangas 

Life in a Hidden Valley

Painting & Poem by Dr Abe V Rotor

Let time stand still in these lovely huts
By the gentle streams and rivulets;
Let the breeze comb the green slopes,
And sing with the hills and rocky cliffs;
The birds fly over the meandering brook
And come to rest from across the bay;
Let the wild call the language of the free,
And signal the coming of night and day.
Here Beethoven composed a lovely song ,
And Schumann added a poetic flare;
Rustic would be Amorsolo’s version
Of this hidden valley fair.
Here by the pond Henry David Thoreau
wrote a treatise, Man and Nature;
Here Schumacher praised the small,
Small, he said, is beautiful.
Here is respite, here is retreat,
Where the sky and hills ever meet;
Here’s life far, far from the busy lane,
A resort for tired souls and feet.
If life has not been lived well enough
And freedom like a genie chained;
Take it from Milton in his blindness,
He saw a Paradise Regained.
And here as in our ancestor’s time
Lies an Eden, lofty yet sublime,
Where there is no need of calendar
To mark the passing of time. ~

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Aratiles - petite berry children love

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
 Little Mackie and Gelyn enjoy the taste of the petite berries 

Aratiles or datiles (mansanitas Ilk) - Muntigia calabura - is a favorite tree on the backyard and neighborhood, on vacant lots and parks.  Actually nobody owns the tree; children just gather with stick, stone  - or scamper into its branches and pick the ripe red berry.  And pronto!  straight to the mouth, spitting the spent skin there and then. 

The tree is not theirs alone; birds like the perperroka (Ilk) pick the ripe fruits during the day, while fruit bats have their share in the night.  But thanks to the prolific fruiting of this tropical tree which has become adapted in the Philippines after it was introduced from tropical America during the early Spanish period. Throughout the year the tree is without fruits in succession.  You only see them when they turn yellow to golden, and finally to bright red ready to fall to the ground at the slightest disturbance.

That's why you have to be vigilant. If you miss a day to pick the ripe ones, your winged competitors will, or the fruits simply fall to be eaten by stray fowls, and goats. This prompted us at home to have a ready ladder to pick the fruits direct from the tree.  Now and then children come to their delight.  And once in a while we serve aratiles on the table - for a change. 

If you have seen Castaway movie starring Tom Hanks, there is a part when he fitted some logs to make a raft to escape the island  after four years of solitary living.  Have you noticed the binding material he used as rope?  That was stripped bark of aratiles. The bark has strong and pliable fibers like cotton.  In fact the two belong to the same family - Malvaceae.   

The aratiles tree is being left alone, wouldn’t man cultivate it like any crop?  But you see, trees -  and other organisms for that matter -  are taken cared by Nature.  In fact the advice of ecologists is "leave nature alone."  Better still, " Leave it to Nature." This is the key to the survival of species and the stability of the ecosystem where they live.

Strange that you find aratiles virtually everywhere.  Where the birds and animals are, so with the children, you see aratiles growing in all stages, sometimes forming a woodland. The other secret of its prolific nature is that the seeds - hundreds of them in a single fruit – remain viable in the digestive system to be disseminated far and wide.  There after sometime you will be glad to see and listen to lilting kids in the finest hour of their childhood.  ~ 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

It's sineguelas time!

Dr Abe V Rotor 

We kids in our time couldn't imagine summer without sineguelas.  It is a very inviting fruit tree growing in the wild or on some backyard. If you have a bamboo pole - which also serves as fishing pole - you will be able to fill your pockets with its fruits that stain skin and clothes when crushed. We would rather climb the tree and settle at the fork formed by its limbs like a hammock, and there we had our fill of fruits, stories and laughter.     

It is likely that those who did not grow up in the province may have seen sineguelas only in the market - but not all markets for that matter. Because it is not a popular fruit.  Beside it is seasonal. 

Here are some interesting facts about sineguelas.    

Sineguelas (Spondias purpurea Linn), or ciruela, plum in Spanish, hence called Spanish ciruela, was introduced into the Philippines during the Spanish regime most likely from Mexico.  The tree is large and squat, with fleshy trunk and branches.  Its wood is soft and not ideal for lumber and construction.

It is dehiscent in summer giving way to numerous fruits arising from the branches singly or in group. The fruit is eaten raw on reaching maturity indicated by the change in color from green to purple, hence purpurea. A decoction of the bark is an efficacious, astringent, antidysenteric and also in cases of infantile tympanites, often characterized by gas buildup.    
The mineral content and food value of fresh sineguelas in percent are: Phosphorus (P2O4) 0.11, Calcium (CaO) 0.01, Iron (Fe2O3)0.003, Proteins 0.63, Fats 0.09, Carbohydrates
21.16, and Crude Fiber 0.62.

Sineguelas is a relative of Hevi (Spongias cytherea) and Libas (Spongias opinnata) Family Anacardiaceae which produce edible fruits which are eaten fresh, made into preserves,or  cooked in stew.

This summer is a chance for kids to see - if not climb on - a fruiting sineguelas tree. And have their fill as we did in our time. 

If you wish to bring home the tree itself, just get a mature cutting from it a meter long or so, then plant it in your backyard (like malunggay).  It begins bearing fruits in three to five years. The tree has a lifespan of more than fifty years if grown from seed, half that long if it came from cutting. ~

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Yes, you can paint. Start now.

Dr Abe V Rotor

Author demonstrates use of pastel colors. Civil Service Commission, QC (circa 2002)

An arch of trees, watercolor
Red fish in acrylic; children's art workshop at the former St Paul Museum

Author conducts summer art workshop for children at National Food Authority, QC

Art is for both young and old. Art is not a matter of “right or wrong.” It is theory, and it is your own. This is what is known as expression. Art is expression. A holistic one because it takes many faculties to create one - from logic to imagination, from visual to touch, traditional to contemporary.

Group work takes away boredom, it is collectively inspiring and challenging. But work with your own thoughts, imagination, pace.

But first, how do you begin?

1. You need only three primary colors - yellow, red and blue. Plus a lot of white and a little black. You can create all the colors of the rainbow. And you can do more in various hues and shades.

2. Red and yellow make orange; yellow and blue, green; blue and red, brown or purple. If you combine the three primary colors in equal proportion, you’ll get black.

3. Secondary colors lead you to tertiary colors. If you get lost you can trace it back to secondary. And you will not deviate from your color scheme.

4. White makes any color lighter: red to pink, yellow to cream, navy blue to sky blue, black to gray, orange to tangerine.

5. Black darkens colors. It is used to make shades and shadows. Contrast. If too much, your painting become drab, even muddy.

6. You need simple tools. Hardware paintbrushes 1/2” to 3” wide are relatively cheap. For artist brushes, buy from bookstores and art supplies. Get flat brushes - smallest 1/16”, biggest 1”). Get one or two round brushes. Because latex is water based, you need only few brushes. You can wash them while paint is still fresh. 

Experiment, don’t be afraid. Take advantage of the natural characteristics of paints and other mediums, like cohesiveness, immiscibility, blending, slow or quick drying, etc.

7. Use disposable palette board such as cardboard and plywood. You can make your own canvas. Canvas is sold by yard from upholstery stores. You can make several paint canvases from a yard of 60” wide canvas. You can use illustration board. For murals I use marine plywood 1/2” to 3/4” thick, 4 ft by 8 feet.

8. Do not be afraid to experiment. Try finger painting. Palette painting. Paint as you imagine and feel. Don’t be exacting, unless your subject requires it.

9. Foundation or primer is the same white latex you will be using. I prefer gloss white latex. Get more white than any of the colors. Allow the primer to dry, sandpaper it before you start to paint. Latex dries fast, so you have to work fast, too - unlike oil, it takes hours or days.

10. As much as possible mix colors first on the palette board before you apply. Of course, you can experiment by mixing colors now and then on the canvas itself. You will discover new techniques and develop your style. Never use oil and latex at the same time, latex and lacquer. But you can use permanent ink markers for lines and margins, and to enhance details.

11. Work on the light areas first, like sky, then proceed to the dark areas, like group of trees, bottom of rocks, shades and shadows, last. Work spontaneously. You know when to stop, then prepare for a second or third - or nth sitting. One sitting normally lasts 30 to 60 minutes. Pause and study your work every after sitting.

Paint a harvest time scenery in your province or country. Do it on-the-spot with your family or friends, picnic style.

12. Never abandon your work. Every painting is a masterpiece in your own right, as long as you did your best with honestly and lovingly. Treasure it.

Express your fear, anger, and other negative thoughts and feelings. Make the canvas a battle field, like this mural I saw in the Reunification Palace in HoChiMinh City, formerly Saigon. Painting is therapy.

And remember, painting is not just a hobby. It is therapy. It is prayer. It is universal language. It is timeless. Art is a bridge of the known and the unknown, the Creator and His creation. ~

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The practical way to increase the storage life of shallot onion

Dr Abe V Rotor 

  1. Reviving practical technology
  2. Saving energy
  3. Minimizing loss in storage
  4. Speculating for better price, hence higher income
  5. Chemically safe - no pesticide
  6. Low investment, little capital outlay
  7. Local employment, livelihood

Shallot or Sibuyas Tagalog is stored by hanging in a dry and cool place.
Planted in late September or October and harvested simultaneously in December causing price to plummet, the bulbs must have to wait for good price. How?  

Store them in bundles, reduce weight loss, infestation, and rot. Smudging, that is, training smoke from dry grass and leaves into the hanging bulbs will improve storage efficiency. No wonder onions and other harvested crops like garlic are hang above the fireplace or in the kitchen of rural homes.