Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Yes, you can be an effective public speaker

Yes, you can be an effective public speaker
Dr Abe V Rotor
There's no substitute to substance. Keep abreast. Elevate level of consciousness. Remember "poor minds talk about people, average minds about events, great minds ideas." AVR
You'll freeze on stage trembling and mumbling, and mental block could be the next thing to happen. It's a crucible to one who is not prepared to go up the stage and say something before the microphone, and before uttering a single word, the audience is already anticipating what he is going to say. And they are already making judgment on the impression he is creating.

Philippine President Ferdinand E Marcos had a special gift as a great speaker - highly intelligent, persuasive and charismatic.  His extemporaneous speeches impressed members of the US joint congress, the UN Security Council, local and regional conferences, notwithstanding.

Time stops. How you wish your role is over and go back to your seat. Don't be a escapist to a challenge, responsibility, and a chance to be heard. To be appreciated and recognized.

People who are good in public speaking do it everyday, so to speak. It is as natural as ergonomics. Green thumb. Like driving a car for years. Or like a veteran teacher.

Well, for all we know "we are on stage talking" most of the time in our lives. Shakespeare said, "The world's a stage." The stage is everywhere - before the dining table with the family, in meeting relatives after years of absence. How many times have you sat beside the hearth among friends and acquaintances?

It's a good advice. In public speaking you should be natural and at ease. Know your subject as you know your audience. And yourself as a public speaker.

In public speaking, as in any form of communication, there are five basic elements, often expressed as "who is saying what to whom using what medium with what effects? "Public speaking can be a powerful tool to use for purposes such as motivation, influence, persuasion, informing, translation, or simply entertaining.

Here are some tips to good public speaking.

1. Prepare an outline of your main points and put them on index cards or a sheet of paper. Don't write out your whole speech and read it.

2. Write your own introduction. Don't rely on the person who will introduce you to come up with a good introduction. Send it before the event to the person who will introduce you.

3. Dress comfortably, neither under and over dressed. Know the dress code and motif ahead of time. Remember grooming is visual and psychological communication.

4. Check out the hall and have a feel of it before the occasion. Arrive a little early. See immediately your host or organizer. Check the needed equipment and materials. Confer with the technicians if you use PowerPoint or present a Documentary. 

5. Get to know your audience. As audience members arrive, introduce yourself and chat with them. It will reduce your nervousness later.

6. Reminder: grammar, diction, modulation, breathe, pacing . Watch out for mannerism. Be aware of the time allocated to you. Don't stammer. Fight off uhs, ahs, hmms, and long pauses.

7. Remember that the audience is on your side. They came to hear what you have to say.
Unless you are in the thick of controversy. Or selling something new - idea or hardware. Even then, people should not be there - or you won't be there, either - if there is no planned purpose of meeting together, and you as speaker.

8. Practice makes perfect. With practice, you can become a confident, polished speaker. Take advantage of opportunities to hone your skills.

9. Research on your topic, enrich it through interview and case studies. There's no substitute to substance. Keep abreast. Elevate level of consciousness. Remember "poor minds talk about people, average minds about events, great minds ideas."

10. Be courteous and humble, spice your talk with wit and humor. Always maintain dignity and values, even in informal gatherings.

Next time you are invited to talk, prepare for it well. Do the dry run several times like editing an article for publication. This time it's not for the eyes only, but all the senses are involved - specially Common Sense. ~

Demosthenes achieves an astonishing intensity, variety, and freshness of emotional expression. He never lets his audience anticipate what he will say next. No one creates periodic sentences longer or more complex, or so skillfully suspends the conclusion of a thought. No one has a better instinct for when to vary periodic structure with simpler sentences, or when to break off with a single word. No one better handles the thrust and parry of rhetorical questions and answers, sarcastic asides to and about his opponent, and sudden exclamations. No one can shift his tone so swiftly or with such effect. From a Lecture, Greek Prose Style

NOTE: One thing about Demosthenes my dad taught me when I was a kid is how this great Greek orator fought problems in voice and diction, specially with pronunciation, "R" specially, which is a common problem with children and youth today. Demosthenes would put pebbles into his mouth, and face the sea as his audience, a practice that also increased tremendously the volume and projection of his voice that reverberated in the Senate hall like there was microphone in his time.*

*Try this with caution. Accidental swallowing of the pebbles may cause asphyxiation.

Comment: Thanks sir, for posting it in the blog, as a student we need those tips not just for now, but for a lifetime, especially when we have our jobs. And for us to know how to express ourselves and for us to be able to socialize confidently. I will try to follow these steps written in the blog, for me to learn and to be good in speaking. - Chiara Alyssa Cochico

Acknowledgment, Internet Wikipedia

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Violin - the Soulful Musical Instrument

Dr Abe V Rotor
 Albert Einstein plays the violin.  
 Author's play the violin and uke.  
The violin, while it has ancient origins, acquired most of its modern characteristics in 16th-century Italy, with some further modifications occurring in the 18th century. Violinists and collectors particularly prize the instruments made by the Gasparo da Salò, Giovanni Paolo Maggini, Stradivari, Guarneri and Amati families from the 16th to the 18th century in Brescia and Cremona and by Jacob Stainer in Austria. (Wikipedia)

If there is any musical instrument that appreciates with time, count on the violin. The more antique it is and it is "original" the more it is prized. An original Stradivarius was auctioned in the US for than $3 million. Since then there was a frantic search for the other Stradivarius violins - at least a dozen believed to be still existing.

I received a dozen calls and personal visits from my friends looking for a Stradivarius. One decoyed a ball park price. Who knows if there's one in the Philippines?

To my surprise a religious guest visited me at the museum one early morning and asked me if the old violins there have a hand written certification in ink by the master violin maker Stradivarius. The inscription is supposed to be expertly hidden in the violin's chamber and can be seen only through the sound hole. What a luck if indeed this is true. That would mean a fortune. I related to prominent violinists like Professor Paulino Capitulo of the Manila Symphony of this ambitious guest. He wryly commented, "Treasure hunting, huh!"

Stradivarius instruments are recognized by their inscription in Latin: Antonius Stradivarius Cremonensis Faciebat Anno [date] Antonio Stradivari, Cremona, [made in the year ...].

Because of this incident, I am posting an article I sourced from the Internet, "Stradivarius Violin - How Genuine?" See Part 3: The Violin - Beware of "Experts" How do you know if a Stradivarius is Genuine?

My first violin was a three-quarter, then moved on to the standard (4/4) violin. Children can start early with the one-half or the three-fourth violin, to be able to reach the strings and learn the rudiments of this enigmatic classical instrument. The violin was already in its form as we know it today as early as during the Renaissance in Europe.

It was during the Spanish conquest in 1521 and subsequent colonization of the Philippines that the violin - and other classical instruments found their way to the hands of Filipinos - and were passed on through generations. One old violin found its way to my family. My dad got a 1776 Czechoslovakian violin, Guadagnini , which he gave to me as a gift in high school. It is the most treasured of all my violin collections.

The Violin - Beware of the "Experts." How Genuine are Stradivarius Violins?
NOTE: This article was published in Dr Progresso Reviews on the Internet. I decided to post it in this blog with the aim at making people aware on the genuineness of violins claimed to be original Stradivarius. This is a guide to unwary victims after a guest came to the museum looking for an original Stradivarius. For sixty long years as a violin enthusiast I never had a chance to get hold of a genuine Strad. Beware of "copy" versions. This holds true to other famous brands. - Dr AV Rotor

Antonio Stradivari (1644? - December 18, 1737) was an Italian luthier (maker of violins and other stringed instruments), the most prominent member of that profession. The Latin form of his surname, "Stradivarius" - sometimes shortened to "Strad" - is often used to refer to his instruments.

So You Think You’ve Found A Strad? Guess Again!

In 1908 a famous Belgian violinist named Eugene Ysaye was on a concert tour in St. Petersburg in Russia. He had with him four Stradivarius violins. One of the Strads was stolen from his hotel room, and was not recovered.

In 1951 a soldier in the Korean war found a violin hidden in the wall of a rundown farm house. It was subsequently authenticated as a genuine Stradivarius.

Out of such stories as these – which are supposed to be true – has arisen a collectors’ myth. That myth is that you might find an incredibly valuable Strad yourself – hidden away in your attic or basement or perhaps at a yard sale down the block. And many people actually have found violins which carry the name of that master genius of violin-makers, the maestro of Cremona, Antonius Stradivari (whose name some misrepresent as “Stradivarius”). But these people are most often the victims of a cruel, if perhaps unwitting, hoax.

Antonio Stradivari was born in 1644 and set up his shop in Cremona, Italy, where he made violins and other stringed instruments (harps, guitars, violas and cellos) until his death in 1737. He took a basic concept for the violin and refined its geometry and design to produce an instrument which has served violin makers ever since as the standard to strive for. His violins sang as none had before them, with a clearer voice and greater volume, and with a pureness of tone which made them seem almost alive in the hands of a great violinist. His was one of three great families of violin makers in Cremona during the 1700s and 1800s, the other two being those of Guarneri and Amati, but Stradivari’s violins have been judged by history to be the best. Two of Stradivari’s sons continued his work after his death.

Every Strad was made entirely by hand, with a painstaking care devoted to the selection of woods and even the texture of the finishing varnishes. This was no assembly-line operation, and the best estimates have Antonio producing no more than around 1,100 instruments, including the violins, in his entire lifetime. Of these, an estimated 630 to 650 still survive the more than 250 years since they were made. 512 of these survivors are violins. Many others were destroyed in fires or other accidents, were lost at sea or in floods, and some were destroyed by the fire-bombing of Dresden in World War II. Virtually none are unaccounted for. Today a genuine Strad is worth two to three million dollars.

So where did those violins which have turned up in attics and closets all over the world come from? Why would anyone who found one think he had a real Strad? The answer is very simple: copies.

Today master violin-makers are using modern science – including the latest scanning devices and digital imaging techniques – to unlock the “secrets” of Stradivari and recreate instruments of his quality. One Canadian violin-maker, Joseph Curtin, and his American partner, Gregg Alf, created a copy, right down to every scratch and shading of varnish, of a specific instrument known as the Booth Stradivari, which Stradivari made in 1716. It sold at a Sotheby’s auction in 1993 for $42,460 – to a concert violinist.

But for close to two centuries much shabbier copies have been made and sold – bearing “Stradivarius” labels. For this reason, the presence of a Stradivarius label in a violin does not mean the instrument is genuine.

The usual label – both genuine and false – carries the Latin inscription “Antonius Stradivarius Cremonensis Faciebat Anno [date],” which gives the maker (Antonio Stradivari), the place (Cremonia), and the year of manufacture, the actual date either printed or handwritten. It was this Latin label which gave the world the name “Stradivarius.” After 1891, when the United States required it, copies might also have the actual country of origin printed in English at the bottom of the label: “Made in Czechoslovakia,” or just “Germany.”

Hundreds of thousands of these copies were made in Germany, France, central and eastern Europe, England, China, and Japan, starting in the mid-19th century and continuing into current times – and literally millions exist today. They bear counterfeit labels proclaiming them to be by not only Stradivari but Vuillaume, Amati, Bergonzi, Guarneri, Gasparo da Salo, Stainer, and others.

Music shops and mail order houses originally sold these violins at prices which made it plain no deception of the buyer was intended – some were claimed to be “tributes” – they ranged from $8.00 to $27.00 apiece, and were identified in advertisements as “copies” or “models.” But their similarity to the instruments they were copied from is minimal to a trained eye – or ear. While some involved hand-crafting, the vast majority were mass-produced. It was not until 1957 that the words “Copy of” were added to some of the labels.

Even today one can find advertisements for a “Stradivarius Violin” which comes “Complete with Decorative Stand and Bow,” and is claimed to be “a wonderful replica of the eminent Stradivarius violin,” designed for displaying “on the wall or atop a bureau or coffee table” for a mere $29.95.
Once in a while a real Strad turns up – usually after a theft or accidental loss.

In 1967 a 1732 Strad, named for the Duke of Alcantara and owned by UCLA’s Department of Music, was loaned to a member of UCLA’s Roth String Quartet. He apparently either left it on top of his car and drove off, or had it stolen from inside his car. A woman turned up with it in 1994, claiming her former husband’s aunt had given it to her husband, and she had acquired it in a divorce settlement. She said their family lore had it that the aunt had found the violin beside a road. UCLA eventually gave the woman $11,500 to regain the violin and avoid a protracted court fight.

So what should you do if you find a violin with a Stradivarius label – or that of any other famous violin maker from centuries ago? You should have it appraised by an expert, and most such experts are members of the American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers. Expect to pay for the appraisal. The authentication of a violin can be determined only by a careful examination of such factors as the design, model, craftsmanship, wood, and varnish. It’s not hard to separate out the mass-produced violins from the actual hand-made instruments, but it takes a well-trained violin appraiser to be able to attribute the violin to a specific maker or place of manufacture.

Don’t expect your find to be genuine. The odds against finding the real thing are slim to none. Nevertheless, you might have a decent violin, and if you can play the instrument, that will be its own reward.~

Famous violin Composers

• Johann Sebastian Bach
• Ludwig van Beethoven
• Johannes Brahms
• George Enescu
• Fritz Kreisler
• Rodolphe Kreutzer
• Felix Mendelssohn
• Claudio Monteverdi
• Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
• Niccolo Paganini

Acknowledgment: Dr Progresso Reviews, Internet

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Listen to the Music of Nature!

Listen to the Music of Nature!
Dr Abe V Rotor
Also visit my other Blogs:
[Living with Nature]
[naturalism - the eighth sense] 
Identify the sounds of nature in this painting, translate them into notes. Arrange the notes into melody, and expand it into a composition.Try with an instrument - guitar, piano, violin, flute. This is your composition.Mural detail, Nature: Rivulets and Streams, AVR 2011
Ethnic music makes a wholesome life; it is therapy.

Have you ever noticed village folks singing or humming as they attend to their chores? They have songs when rowing the boat, songs when planting or harvesting, songs of praise at sunrise, songs while walking up and down the trail, etc. Seldom is there an activity without music. To them the sounds of nature make a wholesome music.

According to researcher Leonora Nacorda Collantes, of the UST graduate school, music influences the limbic system, called the “seat of emotions” and causes emotional response and mood change. Musical rhythms synchronize body rhythms, mediate within the sphere of the autonomous nervous and endocrine systems, and change the heart and respiratory rate. Music reduces anxiety and pain, induces relaxation, thus promoting the overall sense of well being of the individual.

Music is closely associated with everyday life among village folks more than it is to us living in the city. The natives find content and relaxation beside a waterfall, on the riverbank, under the trees, in fact there is to them music in silence under the stars, on the meadow, at sunset, at dawn. Breeze, crickets, running water, make a repetitious melody that induces sleep. Humming indicates that one likes his or her work, and can go on for hours without getting tired at it. Boat songs make rowing synchronized. Planting songs make the deities of the field happy, so they believe; and songs at harvest are thanksgiving. Indeed the natives are a happy lot.

Farm animals respond favorably to music, so with plants.

In a holding pen in Lipa, Batangas, where newly arrived heifers from Australia were kept, the head rancher related to his guests the role of music in calming the animals. “We have to acclimatize them first before dispersing them to the pasture and feedlot.” He pointed at the sound system playing melodious music. In the duration of touring the place I was able to pick up the music of Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven and Bach. It is like being in a high rise office in Makati where pipe in music is played to add to pleasant ambiance of working. Scientists believe that the effect of music on humans has some similarity with that of animals, and most probably to plants.

Which brings us to the observation of a winemaker in Vienna. A certain Carlo Cagnozzi has been piping Mozart music to his grapevines for the last five years. He claims that playing round the clock to his grapes has a dramatic effect. “The grapes ripen faster,” he said, adding that it also keeps away parasites, fruit bats and birds. Scientists are now studying this claim to enlarge the limited knowledge on the physiological and psychological effects of music on plants and animals.

Once I asked a poultry raiser in Teresa, Rizal, who also believes in music therapy. “The birds grow faster and produce more eggs,” he said. “In fact music has stopped cannibalism.” I got the same positive response from cattle raisers where the animals are tied to their quarters until they are ready for market. “They just doze off, even when they are munching,” he said, adding that tension and unnecessary movement drain the animals wasting feeds that would increase the rate of daily weight gain. In a report from one of the educational TV programs, loud metallic noise stimulates termites to eat faster, and therefore create more havoc.

There is one warning posed by the proponents of music therapy. Rough and blaring music agitates the adrenalin in the same way rock music could bring down the house.

The enchantment of ethnic music is different from that of contemporary music.

Each kind of music has its own quality, but music being a universal language, definitely has commonalities. For example, the indigenous lullaby, quite often an impromptu, has a basic pattern with that of Brahms’s Lullaby and Lucio San Pedro’s Ugoy ng Duyan (Sweet Sound of the Cradle). The range of notes, beat, tone, expression - the naturalness of a mother half-singing, half-talking to her baby, all these create a wholesome effect that binds maternal relationship, brings peace and comfort, care and love.

Serenades from different parts the world have a common touch. Compare Tosselli’sSerenade with that of our Antonio Molina’s Hating Gabi (Midnight) and you will find similarities in pattern and structure, exuding the effect that enhances the mood of lovers. This quality is more appreciated in listening to the Kundiman (Kung Hindi Man, which means, If It Can’t Be). Kundiman is a trademark of classical Filipino composers, the greatest of them, Nicanor Abelardo. His famous compositions are

· Bituin Marikit (Beautiful Star)
· Nasaan Ka Irog (Where are You My Love)
· Mutya ng Pasig (Muse of the River Pasig)
· Pakiusap (I beg to Say)

War drums on the other hand, build passion, heighten courage, and prepare the mind and body to face the challenge. It is said that Napoleon Bonaparte taught only the drumbeat of forward, and never that of retreat, to the legendary Drummer Boy. As a consequence, we know what happened to the drummer boy. Pathetic though it may be, it's one of the favorite songs of Christmas.

Classical music is patterned after natural music.

The greatest composers are nature lovers – Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, and our own Abelardo, Molina, Santiago, and San Pedro. Beethoven, the greatest naturalist among the world’s composers was always passionately fond of nature, spending many long holidays in the country. Always with a notebook in his pocket, he scribbled down ideas, melodies or anything he observed. It was this love of the countryside that inspired him to write his famous Pastoral Symphony. If you listen to it carefully, you can hear the singing of birds, a tumbling waterfall and gamboling lambs. Even if you are casually listening you cannot miss the magnificent thunderstorm when it comes in the fourth movement.

Lately the medical world took notice of Mozart music and found out that the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart music can enhance brain power. In a test conducted, a student who listened to the Sonata in D major for Two Pianos performed better in spatial reason. Mozart music was also found to reduce the frequency of seizure among coma patients, improved the interaction of autistic children, and is a great help to people who are suffering of Alzheimer’s disease. The proponents of Mozart’s music call this therapeutic powerMozart Effect.

What really is this special effect? A closer look at it shows similar therapeutic effect with many sounds like the noise of the surf breaking on the shore, rustling of leaves in the breeze, syncopated movement of a pendulum, cantabile of hammock, and even in the silence of a cumulus cloud building in the sky. It is the same way Mozart repeated his melodies, turning upside down and inside out which the brain loves such a pattern, often repeated regularly. about the same length of time as brain-wave patterns and those that govern regular bodily functions such as breathing and walking. It is this frequency of patterns in Mozart music that moderates irregular patterns of epilepsy patients, tension-building hormones, and unpleasant thoughts.

No one tires with the rhythm of nature – the tides, waves, flowing rivulets, gusts of wind, bird songs, the fiddling of crickets, and the shrill of cicada. In the recesses of a happy mind, one could hear the earth waking up in spring, laughing in summer, yawning in autumn and snoring in winter – and waking up again the next year, and so on, 
ad infinitum. ~

And, of course the Caruso in the animal kingdom - the frog. Here a pair of green pond frogs, attracted by their songs which are actually mating calls, will soon settle down in silent mating that last for hours.

Are you an owl or a lark?

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, 8-9 evening class Monday to Friday

Our clocks have individual variations. For example, there are people who are more active in the afternoon and evening, and there are those who are opposite – they are more active in the morning.
Chances are, you already know instinctively whether you are a morning person (sometimes known as a “lark”) or a night person ( sometimes called an “owl”).


If you aren’t sure which one you are, here are some questions to ask yourself:
1. Do you wake up early and go to bed early?
2. Do you generally rise from your bed wide eyed and raring to go?
3. Do you feel that you do your best work early on the day?
4. Do you find yourself waking up just before you alarm is scheduled to go off?

If you answered yes to these questions, then you are most likely a morning person.

1. Do you wake up late and go to bed late?
2. Do you wake up sleepy eyed and sluggish?
3. Do you generally suffer through the early morning hours and get your surge of energy and creativeness later in the day?
4. Do you find it easy to sleep through the buzz or ring of an alarm clock?

If you answered yes to these questions, then you are most likely a night person.

Difference between Night and Day People

1. Morning People tend to have more introverted personalities, while Night People tend to be more extroverted. This is particularly true the age of forty.

2. Morning People tend to have less flexible circadian rhythms, which means they benefit more, both physically and mentally, from following structured daily routine.

Long billed lark Wikipedia

3. Morning People tend to sleep more soundly than Night People and wake up feeling more refreshed.

4. Women are more likely to be Morning People than men.

Don't worry, an owl can be as happy as a lark, and a lark as vigilant as an owl. Just follow your inner rhythm. ~

Living with Nature, AVRotor (Acknowledgment: Internet, Wikipedia, 
Owl  photo by Richard Stuart, lark Wikipedia)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Quo vadis, Movie? 

Movie Parade at UST (1611-2011, Quadricentennial Celebration)
Photos by Abe V Rotor

Movies took over the stage,
created make-believe players;
from arena to theaters,
cinema to home screen
these hundred years.

How technology spanned
live drama and celluloid,
Charlie Chaplin and Lucas,
Carl Jung and Simon Freud,
the young and the very old.

Hollywood to Bollywood,
white actors to colored,
aristocracy giving way
to realism on the road,
in stories simply told.

This is not all. It is just
the start of the future
which we live in today -
postmodern culture
in cyber adventure.

Movies, movies, movies
defy classification,
on Internet, television,
from studio to home grown
video to animation.

Quo vadis, movie?
where are you headed for?
for whom are you made
as we had known before,
at the local shore?

Is this a sign of demise,
of the movie, the classical,
movie, the great adventure,
movie, the historical,
true and ideal?

Movie does not speak,
or we just can't hear anymore,
under the heap of this strayed art
yearning not for more,
but for some quality score. ~

A popular movie animae
Local movie on the life of Rizal, an alumnus of UST
Scary theme, musical treatment
Witches walk the campus
Alice in Wonderland
"Good triumphs over evil."
Shrek and Company
2012 - Year of the Dragon
Pirates of the Caribbean

Farming the Tridachna (Taklobo)

Dr Abe V Rotor

The taklobo is now a threatened species.
Graduate students from the University of
Santo Tomas visit a taklobo farm in Masinloc,
Zambales, 2010.

Taklobo shell as holy water receptacle.
Mount Carmel Church, QC

One way to spend a summer is to visit marine projects such as a Tridachna or taklobo farm. Farming the sea includes seaweeds such as

Caulerpa or lato, green seaweed, ar-arusip in Iloko
Porphyra or gamet, red seaweed, also known as nori in Japan
Codium or pokpoklo, green seaweed
Gracillaria or guraman (Ilk), brown seaweed
Eucheuma or guso, brown seaweed

Fish cage culture of grouper and mullet has become popular in many parts of the world. And now, genetically modified salmon which lost its homing and free range characteristics by crossing genetic materials of unrelated species.

The earliest attempt to farm the sea is by building fishponds, converting estuaries and swamps into fishponds. But in large and open shallow areas, fish pens and cages, became more feasible. Prawn, milkfish, catfish, tilapia are among the common species raised.

Shellfish like oysters and green mussels are grown in the estuaries, and the traditional way of using bamboo and rope on which the juvenile shellfish cling to has not changed. Perhaps the most sophisticated marine farming is pearl culture, where pearl formation is induced.

Today, farming has spilled over seas, estuaries, rivers and lakes, after conventional frontiers have been conquered, threatening ecological balance, and pitting farming and environmental conservation as strange bedfellows. Runaway population, growing affluence, advances in science and technology are all aimed at the so-called Good Life. We are wrong.

The taklobo is a natural indicator of our planet's health. It is now a threatened species . Out there in its natural habitat one could hardly find a taklobo. Soon only its fossil can be found either in the museum or in the church as receptacle of Holy Water.~

Monday, April 21, 2014

Nature's Sweet Lies

Dr Abe V Rotor
A pair of locust in camouflage and mimicry with the environment (Wikipedia)

The locust in summer is brown,
     A lonely creature yet a clown;
Full in monsoon of hues of green,
     Grotesque and mean I've ever seen.

The moth wears dust to hide its frame,
     At dusk wakes up and play the game
Of feigning dead, devoid of spark;
     Its enemies think it's all bark.

Where comes the trigger, that I know,
     Hormones by signal freely flow,
Masking colors, painting a view,
     To match a perfect scenario.

Deceit and conceit in a duo,
     Makes one believe or doesn't know
To accept things or analyze

     Nature's own sweet and gentle lies.~

Personal Reflection of an Unknown Citizen

Dr Abe V Rotor

Assignment in Communication Arts, Faculty of Arts and Letters, University of Santo Tomas.  Make your own personal reflection on a regular bond, in any style, 500 words more or less. Reflection brings out the inner person in you, like the inner eye of Heller Keller, the Little Prince of Antoine de Saint-Exupery', idealism of Longfellow and Alexander Pope, meditation in Michalangelo's Pieta, the mysticism of Venus de Milo, enigma of wildlife in Rosseau's painting, inner ear of Beethoven, waning light in Claude Monet's Waterlily Pond. 

Jose Rizal

I invite our viewers to this exercise. You may find this useful in retreats and seminars, specially in leadership, and in the fields of theology,  philosophy, and humanities.

One man fought a nation, and save a nation, abhorring violence.
His greatest weapon: peaceful protest and civil disobedience
in asceticism that swept the land;
people revering him as father and almost god.
His name is Gandhi. (photo, left)

His likes are the greatest specimens of mankind; they too, changed
the world forever, making it a better place to live in.
His name is Mao Tse Tung.
His name is Ho Chi Minh.
His name is Jose Rizal.
His name is Ramon Magsaysay
Her name is Princess Diana.
His name is Jose Burgos.
He is Maximilian Kolby
Nelson Mandela 

She is Mother Teresa.
He is Nelson Mandela
He is Pope John Paul II, et al

They are people for all seasons, for all ages, for all waves of change.

But little do we know of the unknown great man,
The Unknown Soldier -
unknown doctor, unknown teacher
farmer, worker, entrepreneur,
old man, father, housewife, child;
The Unknowns in other fields of life, regardless.

They are whose deeds are also those of great men and women we revere today.
They are us – each one of us
in our own little way to make the world go round and around –
or make it slower, that we may taste better the true Good Life,
the sweet waters of the Pierian Spring, the cool breeze on the hill.

All of us - we have the capacity to be great.
Bringing up our children to become good citizens,
being Samaritan on a lonely road,
embracing a returning Prodigal Son, 
plugging a hole in the dike like the boy who saved Holland from the sea,
or living life the best way we can that makes other lives better.

These and countless deeds make us great,
and if in this or that little way we may fall short of it,
then each and everyone of us putting each small deed together,
makes the greatest deed ever,
for the greatest thing humans can do is collective goodness –
the key to true unity and harmony,
and peace on earth. ~

Sunday, April 20, 2014

First Raindrop

Dr  Abe V Rotor
The sky is as blue as the sea
... and the bench is empty, 

Then it came, the first raindrop in May.

Wish not the doldrums to put you to rest

When everything isn't in your favor,
and the wind doesn't blow toward the shore;
wish not the doldrums to put you to rest;
temper my friend, you are put to the test.

And many times, as seasons come and go,
in battle and calm, and in coming through
the dark night and glowing the light of light -
it's the spirit my friend, face life and fight.  ~              

Saturday, April 19, 2014

"Takeoff leaves everything, but the views below."

Dr Abe V Rotor

Views after takeoff from Manila International Airport. 

Fight fear and fight gravity,
Nostalgia and feeling low;
Takeoff leaves everything,
And all the views below. 

Freedom outside the home,
Outdoor, through the window,
Into the sky, to the stars,
Flying is dream come true.

Nearer to heaven and God,
Where angels and saints dwell;
Fight fear and fight gravity,
And say a prayer as well.~

Papait - Most Bitter Vegetable (Mollugo oppositifolia Linn), and Other Wild Food Plants

Dr Abe V Rotor

Here is one for the book of Guinness. What is more bitter than ampalaya, Momordica charantia?

Answer: It is an unassuming slender, spreading, smooth, seasonal herb, Mollogo oppoisitifolia, a relative of a number of wild food plants belonging to Family Aizoaceae, locally known as papait (Ilk), malagoso or sarsalisda (Tagalog), amargoso-damulag (Pampango ).

Anyone who has tasted this green salad that goes well with bagoong and calamansi or vinegar, plus a lot of rice to counteract its bitter taste, would agree that papait is probably the bitterest of all vegetables. Ampalaya comes at its heels when you gauge the facial expressions of those who are eating them.
Papait belongs to the same family – Aizoaceae, which includes dampalit, talinum, gulasiman, spinach, and alugbati - all wild food plants.
As a farm boy I first saw papait growing on dry riverbeds, the catchment of floodwater during monsoon. There along the length of a river that runs under an old wooden bridge (now a flood gate made of culvert) which divide the towns of San Vicente and Sta.Catalina, three kilometers from the capital town of Vigan, grew patches of Mollogo. It is difficult to identify it among the weeds - and being a weed itself, none would bother to gather it. Wild food plants do not have a place in the kitchen - and much less in the market - when there is a lot of conventional food around. I soon forgot the plant after I lelt my hometown for my college education in Manila. In fact it was not in the list of plants Dr. Fernando de Peralta, a prominent botanist, required us in class to study. That was in the sixties.

It was by chance that I saw the plant again, this time in the market at Lagro QC where I presently reside. Curiosity and reminiscence prompted me to buy a bundle of the leafy vegetable. It cost five pesos. What came to my mind is the idea of cultivating wild food plants on a commercial scale. The potential uses of dozens of plants that are not normally cultivated could be a good business. They augment vegetables that are not in season, as well as provide a ready and affordable source of vitamins and minerals.

Perhaps the first wild food plant placed under commercial cultivation is saluyot (Corchorus olitorius ). The technology lies in breaking the dormancy of its seeds, which under natural condition, will not germinate until after the first strong rain. Today saluyot can be grown anytime of the year and is no longer confined among the Ilocanos. It is exported to Japan in substantial volume. Doctors have found saluyot an excellent and safer substitute to Senecal for slimming and cleansing.

Some Common Wild Food Plants

Saluyot (Corchorus olitorius); bagbagkong flowers 

In my research I found out that a number of popular wild edible species are related to Mollogo. They all belong to Family Aizoaceae. In one way or the other, the readers of this article may find the following plants familiar, either because they are indigenous in their locality, or they are found being sold in the market.

Dampalit (Sesuvium portulacastrum). It is found growing along the beach, around fishpond and in estuarine areas. It is prepared as salad or made into pickles.

New Zealand Spinach (Tetragonia expansa). It is known as Baguio spinach. It is sold as salad vegetable. The leaves are fleshly and soft, typical to other members of the family.

Halon or kolites (Amaranthus tricolor). The leaves are dull and purplish. In some varieties the top leaves are pale yellow to bright red. The plant is used as a leafy vegetable. It is a good source of calcium, phosphorus and iron. This herbaceous annual plant is pantropic in distribution and grows on wastelands.

Phytolacca (Phytolacca esculenta) is cultivated in China and Japan for its edible leaves used as leafy vegetables. The leaves are excellent sources of iron and phosphorus, and a good source of calcium. 

Gulasiman (Portolaca oleracea). It is also known as purslane, a common weed cosmopolitan in distribution, rich in iron, calcium and high in roughage. Cooked as vegetable or served as salad. 

Talinum and gulasiman 

Talinum (Talinum triangulare). It is a fleshy herb that grows not more than a foot tall. It is excellent for beef stew and sinigang. It was introduced into the Philippines before WW II. 

Libato (Basella rubra). It is also called alugbati, a climbing leafy vegetable that is much used in stews. It makes a good substitute to spinach. The young leaves and shoots are gathered, and when cooked the consistency is somewhat mucilaginous. It is a good source of vitamins B and C, calcium and iron.

Lotus (Nelumbium nelumbo). The unripe seeds are eaten raw, boiled, or roasted, while the ripe seeds are boiled and roasted. There is a variety with greatly enlarged rhizomes and have a high starch content. They are eaten raw or cooked. Young petiole and leaves are also used as vegetables.

Pako’ (Athyrium esculentum). The young fronds are eaten either raw or cooked. They may be used as a salad with various dressings, as a leafy vegetable, or as an ingredient of stew. It is a fair source of calcium, and an excellent source of phosphorus and iron. Another edible fern is Ceratopteris thalictroides which is also eaten the same way as A. esculentum. It can be a substitute for asparagus.

Sabilau (Commelina benghalensis) – The leaves are edible, and are a famine food in India. They are also eaten in Batavia, and have been seen on sale in Chinese shops in Singapore. The plant is succulent, slender and creeping and is common in wastelands in the country.

Food Value of Papait
As my family was about to partake in the salad of papait I made, I researched for its food value in the book of my former professor, Dr. Eduardo Quisumbing, Medicinal Plants of the Philippines, and William H. Brown’s Useful Plants of the Philippines. As fresh vegetable, it contains

· 0.11% Phosphorus,
· 0.11% Calcium, and
· 0.03% Iron.

It is good for the skin, and it helps us “glow” because of it contains vitamins and minerals. It is also good for those who have problems with high cholesterol and diabetes. The general rule is, whatever we take let’s take it with moderation.

The signal for annuals to start sprouting is after a heavy rain. Because this year’s summer is short, it is expected to find the vegetable from Ilocano suki in the wet market very soon. Since it is sold as whole with some roots still intact, it can be planted on the backyard. If the plant is mature, its seeds can be gathered and broadcast on the backyard. The seeds will remain dormant like those of saluyot and spinach, but will sprout in the next monsoon season. It reminds me many years ago when I used to gather this wild food plant growing at the foot of wooden bridge.

In spite of its bitter taste we relish it as special vegetable. It reminds us of medicine. It reminds us also of the sacrifice at Golgotha. Take a bite of Mollogo. ~

x x x
Growing Threat of Biological Warfare - Sleeping Monster in the Sky
Dr Abe V Rotor 
 The sky carries disseminants and innoculants of harmful bacteria, viruses, and other organisms - natural and man-made. With Genetic Engineering - the same process in making the Bt Corn, Bt cotton, Bt Soybean, SavrFlvr tomato, Golden Rice, and an ever increasing number of genetically modified plants, animals and microorganisms - we have tremendously increased the threat and gravity of biological warfare as the worst weapon of mass destruction - surpassing nuclear weapons, because biological agents, more so with those genetically engineered for high virulence and adaptability, may stay alive over a long period of time, and can reproduce tremendously to cover wide areas of doom.

- Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) invaded five continents before it was put off. It originated in China, where hundreds died. The disease found its way to the Philippines via Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Hongkong and Canada. The virus is believed to have mutated into a virulent and contagious form.

- Once the US Postal Service, to safeguard against anthrax, required its personnel to use gloves and masks when handling mail-sorting facilities in Washington, New York and New Jersey.

- As a precaution against biological warfare, the U.S. government has accelerated the delivery of smallpox vaccine, enough to inoculate every American. One drawback of this procedure is the possibility of unknown side effects when applied to people receiving medical treatments, such as chemotherapy.

- Escaped African killer bees (Apis mellifera scutellata) have interbred with domestic species creating an equally deadly hybrid that now threatens the United States, having spread throughout Brazil, Central America and Mexico. A colony is made up of some 70,000 ferocious insects with the queen bee reproducing at a rate of 5,000 eggs a day to maintain its enormous population.

- Escherischia coli is a common bacterial parasite of the intestine. Naturally occurring outbreaks of E. coli are the result of fecal contamination of hamburgers, water supplies and swimming pools, causing the hospitalization of hundreds of thousands of people each year.

These scenarios remind one of childhood days when many people survived smallpox epidemics. The center of the epidemic was Lapog, Ilocos Sur, atown whose population was decimated. The mere mention of its name brings sad memories of the early 1900s’ disaster. Lapog was so associated with the dreaded disease, they later renamed it San Juan.

The author’s forebears suffered this disease. Of eight siblings in the author’s paternal side of the family, only two survived the disease. Uncle Leo, the eldest miraculously survived. His dad, the youngest, was born after the epidemic had subsided.

Visibly, faces of survivors are covered with pockmarks. But so are their entire bodies, arms and legs, including the ears, nose, eyelids and lips that become somehow disfigured. In serious cases, fingers and toes are also deformed.

Despite of their traumatic experiences, survivors continue to live normal lives. Psychologists say there are many survivors of tragic experiences who find the new lease on life. Stories of how entire communities gather to support survivors uplift spirit.

Conquest and Diseases

Christopher Columbus and his men allegedly introduced a very contagious disease, 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 suffering to the natives. To the novel’s principal character, the Reverend Hale, it was a manifestation of God’s wrath on the sinful pagans. 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 as a result of indigenous diseases that were unknown in their countries of origin. Scientists explain that these pioneers lacked the natural immunity to the diseases. The same lack of immunity from diseases introduced into the Old World is what killed many people. This is the reason why the World Health Organization and many countries require the vaccination of travelers against certain diseases as a requirement prior to obtaining passports and visas.

These are incidents we can dismiss as force majeure, which our culture can accept. But what about the case of war when nation is pitted against nation?

Man’s Inhumanity to Man

Throughout history, war has been the scourge of man, the evidence of man’s inhumanity to man. It is the antithesis of culture and civilization that are supposed to uphold the dignity of man and his society. Ironically, war has plagued every civilization, and many great civilizations were the centers of human conflict. According to the historian, Gibbon, twelve great civilizations, that include the Greek and Roman civilizations, fell because of war.

History is replete with cases where the more civilized societies were instigators of the loss of peace, if not the destroyers of the less civilized ones. The great Spanish conquistadores destroyed the great civilizations of the Aztecs and the Mayas in South America, in the same way that the pioneers of the United States destroyed the civilizations of the native Americans.   

Early Biological Warfare

Carthage, a thriving agricultural and trading center during the Roman times, became swampland, then subsequently a desert, as we know today. How did this happen? The invading Romans drew saltwater from the sea and used it to flood settlements and farmlands, thus putting an end to 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 prior to Columbus. The natives fought fiercely at the European invaders and defended their “nation” for years. But the pioneers knew the key to their victory over the powerful Indian tribes was to annihilate the buffaloes. Millions of them once roamed the Great Plains, or what is known as the prairies. Because buffaloes provided the Indians their basic needs for food and 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 reputation.

What if China had sent a million soldiers to fight and die in Vietnam during the Chinese-Vietnam conflict? The task of burying the dead alone, while controlling pestilence that would have ensued, would be enough to defeat the enemy. On the part of China, such massive death would reduce pressure on its burgeoning population, while ridding the society of some misfits. It is not so, but many people believe that war is a purification process. The Germans lost thousands of scientists and potential nation-builders during World War II. Many American soldiers who died in the Vietnam War were among the finest young men of their time.

But man has not learned his lessons well. War is at its ugliest when chemicals, biological agents, nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction are used. For nuclear arsenals alone, the world’s total stockpile has the capacity to kill three times the total global population. The world is witness to the recent wars in Iraq. Wars in Bosnia, Macedonia, Uganda, Angola and Afghanistan still bear ugly scars. War is also taking place in Sri Lanka against the Tamil Guerillas, between Pakistan and India along their disputed border, Spain against the Basques guerillas, Britain against the IRA in Northern Ireland, and the Philippines against the Abu Sayaf and the New People’s Army (NPA).

War Without Borders

Something unexpected and different happened. On September 11, 2001 the World Trade Center, a 110-storey twin-tower complex was erased from the skyscape of New York City in matters of minutes shortly after two planes, commandeered by terrorists, smashed into the superstructures. It challenged the economic powers of the world, particularly America to wage a war without borders against terrorism.

The world woke up to a new era of cross-border terrorism with invisible organizational network of cells distributed throughout the globe.

In this kind of war, the intrusion into an enemy’s territory, or the definition of the locus of battle, do not follow the conventional rules. In fact there are no specific rules when we refer to the modus operandi of terrorists. Rules of engagement changed after September 11.

Biological Warfare

First there was 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 cases of biological warfare strategies.

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 U.S. But the U.S. dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki first. Japan hastily removed all the evidences of its evil experiment even before its surrender to the US.

Third, the threat of influenza which killed millions of people early in the 2oth century, has caused alarm in the 1980s after scientists discovered a new virus hybrid of the chicken and human influenza viruses. Based on the ratio of victims to population during the first epidemic, scientists believe that some 60 to 100 million people could die of the new influenza virus strain should it strike again.

Biological warfare intends to use germs with a history of epidemic-spreading capabilities. Here is an outline of the basic facts about these important potential epidemic diseases.


• Anthrax is also known as malignant pustule, malignant edema or woodsorters’ disease.

• It is most common in South America, Australia, Africa and Russia.

• It is a highly infectious disease, affecting animals. It occurs in cattle, sheep, horses and mules.

• It is transmitted to humans through contact with any part of the animal carrying the infectious agent.

• It is caused by Bacillus anthracis, whose spores are resistant to disinfectants and heat. It may remain infectious for up to 15 years in the soil. Grazing animals can accumulate spores contained in the droppings of infected animals.

• Humans acquire the disease through skin cuts or wounds, 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 is characterized by severe itching and appearance of boils, usually on the arms, face and neck. The inflamed area grows into an ulcer called a malignant pustule, which eventually bursts and produces 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

• It is known as the Black Death in the Middle Ages which ravaged Europe and Asia.

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

• It is so-called from the blackening spots which cover the skin during the course of the disease.

• Characteristic symptoms are fever and swelling of the lymph nodes, mainly the groin and armpit areas.

• It is caused by the plague bacillus (Pasteurella pestis) which is transmitted from rats (Rattus rattus norvigicus) to humans through flea (Xenopsylla chopis).

Small pox

• This is a highly contagious disease, often fatal, that ravaged populations in the past. Just one infected person could cause the virus to radiate from a family to a neighborhood, and to a city in a matter of months.

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

• WHO declared the eradication of smallpox in 1980. Routine immunizations to protect against the disease were stopped as early as 1971.

• First signs are: chills and high fever, severe headache and backache, followed by rashes which eventually cover the entire body and turn 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.

• The disease is not transmitted by animals.

• It has been eliminated through world-wide vaccination programs, although a mild form still exists in Ethiopia.

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

Biological agents also include Tularemia, a bacterium, classified pneumonic and septic - if untreated, has a mortality rate of 30 to 40 percent; boutinium, a toxin from a bacterium, that has 60 to 100 percent mortality; and ricin, a deadly toxin from castor bean (Ricinus communis).

Other Potential Bio-Warfare Organisms

There are many organisms which 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 – This fungus-caused plant disease is also called late blight, a worldwide serious disease of potato and tomato in cool humid countries. The fungus is the Phyhtopthora infestans. In Ireland, 30 percent of the population starved to death, the other dying of typhoid fever that followed. Still others emigrated to America from 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 cereals. Among them is Puccinia graminis tritici, one of over 200 fungal races which attack wheat. Although rust fungi can only complete their life cycles in the presence of alternate hosts, such as barberry in wheat rust, its potential use for biological warfare is great considering that cereals comprise the staple of the mankind. The narrowing down in the number of cereal varieties used for commercial production exposes croplands to greater danger of exposure to rust diseases and therefore, widespread destruction.

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 of people, causing about 5000 deaths per year. Salmonella, along with typhoid and paratyphoid germs, belong to a large group of rod-shaped bacteria that invade the gastrointestinal tract. Antibiotics are recommended to combat Salmonella infection.

Foot-and-Mouth Disease. This disease affects hoofed animals like hogs and cattle, and is naturally occurring worldwide. FMD usually hits the Philippines in the summer months. Although the pathogen is not generally transmitted from animals to humans, losses incurred are usually heavy. Infected animal are economically worthless. Their carcasses are burned to  prevent infection. Quarantine and an extreme form of sanitation are the best defenses against the spread of the disease.

Mad Cow Disease. The disease is called bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE. In 1996, it was determined 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 yet to show how many more will suffer because there are initial signs of acquiring the disease that are not clear. Besides, the gestation period of the disease is up to 15 years.

Other biological warfare agents include potato beetles, which Britain suspects the Germans dropped during the war in small cardboards bombs filled with the pest. In the 1980s, Tamil militants threatened to target Sri Lankan tea and rubber plantations with plant pathogens.

HIV-AIDS. To date, 17 million people around the world have died of Acute Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). The epidemic started at the lower quadrant of Africa. The irony of AIDS is that both strong and frail are potential victims. There are 3.7 million children who have died of AIDS, and it has orphaned 12 million children.

An estimated 8.8 million adults in Africa alone are infected with HIV/AIDS and in the seven countries in Africa one out of five people are living with HIV, while 3.8 million 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 blood donations and immunization channels.

Ebola. There is a recent outbreak of Ebola in Guinea, Africa. The initial number of fatalities is increasing, but doctors have assured the disease is under control. This is a highly virulent disease caused by a virus that originated in Africa, infecting humans and primates. Much of the information about the disease is still a mystery, but one thing is sure: the fatality rate is very high once a person gets the virus. And it is highly contagious. Strict quarantine is imposed. 

Through skin contact and even only through inhalation, the virus can be acquired easily. One incident is about the case of a member a religious congregation, who had been treating Ebola patients, suddenly dying of the disease herself. Ignoring warnings, other members attended her funeral, causing one of them to acquire the virus and dying later.

African Giant Snail (Achatina fulica) was brought by the Japanese to the Philippine during World War II. Now it is a pest of garden and field crops. Damage can lead to severe crop losses. The pest persists but seldom develops into epidemic proportion. The introduced Golden Kuhol (Pomacea caniculata), thought to provide a livelihood for farmers, became a major pest affecting half of our lowland ricefields.

Protection Guidelines

Here are guidelines to protect yourself against possible biological warfare attack.

1. Keep distant 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.

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 where 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 your body resistance high at all times. Good rest, balanced diet, and 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”. Equally important is to be ready to help other people.

On September 11, 2001, many people thought Third World War had started. Then came Afganistan and Iraq wars. These incidents have sparked real and psychological fear around the globe. In our modern world, an all-out war is likely to employ all kinds of weapons of mass destruction from chemical to biological – and worse, to thermonuclear annihilation. Since there are no defined borders, 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 radiation takes a long time to dissipate. It means that radioactive materials will continue to kill and maim long after the explosion. Even to this day, there are people dying in Japan due to the atomic bombs dropped there 45 years ago.

This long life after-effect is also true with bacterial spores. These organisms have the capacity to re-infect and cause a second wave of epidemic. Even after the white flag is raised to end the war, still many people continue to get sick and die.

In the early 1960s, as a member of the extension program at the University of the Philippines at Los Baños, then UP College of Agriculture, the author was involved in promoting modern agriculture to farmers. Among the farm chemicals he handled were herbicides. By coincidence, the U.S. was also developing at that time a chemical called Agent Orange which  later was used in Vietnam. While this chemical can maim or cause death, its intended use is that of defoliant. By spraying the chemical on forests, trees lose their leaves, in fact their entire crown. When this happens a jungle can easily catch fire, making it easy to flush out the  Vietcong guerillas from their hideouts.

It was his first encounter with biological warfare. The memory does not only linger, it remains fresh. ~