Thursday, May 29, 2014

Plants every home garden must have

Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM Band, 8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday
Saba banana (Musa sapientum): multipurpose - leaves for food wrapper (suman, tupig, bibingka, kanin), packaging material (baon, live or fresh fish and aquatic products), leaves as floorwax. Fruit, ripe or green, excellent source of energy and nutrients, so with the flowers (puso ng saging). Trunk as source of fiber and packing materials. Mushroom spawn under banana plants.

Lesson - Rainy season will peak in July and August. Take advantage of the season. There's natural fertilizer in the soil. Alternate sunshine and rainfall favors plants to grow and develop fast. Have these plants listed in your backyard, idle lots sidewalk, park, also pots, cans and plastic containers. (See Home Garden Models)

Don't replace any plant that is useful or have potential value. Allow those that spontaneously grow like saluyot, spinach, alugbati talinum, gulasiman. They are wild and seasonal. Help them grow for your vegetable supply, herbal medicine, and animal feeds.

It's gardening time! And gardening is beneficial for your kitchen, home beautification and sanitation, and most important of all, your health. And, why not initiate gardening in your school and community?

Coconut (Cocos nucifera): It's the most important plant in the world when it comes to productivity and variety of products. The nut is a complete food - young or mature. There is no part of the plant that has no value. Walis tingting, leaves for mat, wall, and sinambong basket. Trunk lumber outlasts most wood. Fiber from husk for cordage and net, coir dust for soil conditioner. Flower spadix for ties and rope. Nectar for beverage and lambanog. All you need is two to three trees at some years age interval. A coconut tree can live productively up to fifty years giving you at least a dozen nuts every month.

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

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

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

Atsuete or anatto (Bixa orellana) is the best natural food color and adjunct, in cooking paella, upo, noodles, frog, etc. It is used extensively in imparting color of cheese and butter, also yogurt. Natural cosmetics are made from atsuete. Flowers are colorful in the garden. Its a small tree, provides good shade and does not attract insects.

Kamias: Once in a while try sinigang with kamias, specially fish. It takes out the fish smell. ITs dourness is distinct from vinegar, tamarind, and kalamansi. Just don't indulge too much because the sour taste is oxalic acid which is deficient in calcium. But oxalic acid is best for cleaning tiles and utensils. Its effective in cleaning the drain. Bees often visit its flowers.

Tanglad or lemon grass as food condiment for kuhol and lechon. As deodorizer, it imparts pleasant smell, absorbs or masks unplesant odor in bathroom and kitchen.

Aloe vera is a used mainly as hair conditioner, stimulating hair growth, and giving shine and smoothness on dull and rough hair. It is mixed with fruit juice. Commercial fruit juice products use aloevera as solids or pulps. As home remedy, it is used to treat minor burns.Gumamela: It comes in more than a dozen varieties. Other than its all year round flowers that make a garden attractive and home of butterflies, the gumamela serves as home remedy for boil and mumps. Young petals are also cooked as vegetable

Alugbati is a climber, and lives for some years providing a continuous supply of shoots or tops cooked as vegetable, best with mungo. It is the cheapest and readily available source of iron for the family.

Pandan mabango: Aromatic, its leaves improve the taste of food. Put a leaf in a pot of old rice (laon) before cooking to take out the moldy taste and smell. Pandan leaves make a refreshing drink with any fruit juice. Try sago, gulaman and pandan. Pandan cake? It breaks the monotony in bread products. First prepare a layer of pandan leaves like mat before cooking fish paksiw will taste. Clean kitchen utensils and tiles with crushed leaves. A unique volatile oil present only in pandan mabango make this plant a favorite of housewives .

These are also a must to have in the garden: 
  1. Onion (shallot or bulb)
  2. Papaya
  3. Guava
  4. Sorosoro (karimbuaya Ilk)
  5. Oregano
  6. Lagundi
  7. Sambong
  8. Lemon or kalamansi
  9. Luya (ginger)
  10. Sampaguita
Don't forget to build a garden pond and plant around it water-loving plants. Pond water becomes green with algae. It is the best natural fertilizer, specially if you are raising tilapia or hito or Pangasius catfish.
  1. Kangkong
  2. Gabi
  3. Sugarcane for chewing
Here are some suggested plants to include.
  1. Kutchai
  2. Siling labuyo
  3. Kamote
  4. Yerba buena (mint)
  5. Ampalaya
Depending on the type of soil and climate of your place, you can add on to this list, substitute those that don't fit. Arrange plants into a multistory structure for in increase density and diversity. Arrange them according to a homestead pattern for functional and aesthetic reasons. Aim for functionality and practicality.

Just don't overload your garden. Give yourself a break. Don't be a slave to your garden, so to speak. By the way even without our knowing it, annual plants simply sprout in the garden. Many of these are seasonal. While most are so-called weeds, there are food plants that grow spontaneously like saluyot, amaranth of kolitis, wild yam, wild ampalaya, talinum, and at least a dozen more if you are living in a fertile and well drained area.

A home garden actually is a miniature representation of a large farm. It is typical in size for a family, as small as 10 square meters to one hectare. 
The garden is an integral part of the home. It aims at self-sufficiency, environmental friendliness, and health-promoting, and ultimately, at living in a Home, Sweet Home with Nature.~

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Amsterdam, bike-friendliest city

Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM Band, 8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday

There are 880,000 bicycles - more than the city's population of 800,000, that some streets have so many cyclists on them there are bike traffic jams.

The 20 Most Bike-Friendly Cities In The World.   
The newly released Copenhagenize Index 2013, produced by the Copenhagenize Design Co., ranked 150 cities around the world on 13 parameters, including cycling facilities, culture, sharing program, gender split, politics, and traffic calming. It also gave bonus points for categories like political leadership.Here are the top 20 cities, each with a score out of 100 points.

Bikers in downtown Amsterdam 

1. Amsterdam, Netherlands
2. Copenhagen, Denmark
3. Utrecht, Netherlands
4. Seville, Spain, Bordeaux, France (tie)
5. Nantes, France, Antwerp, Belgium (tie)
6. Eindhoven, Netherlands
7. Malmö, Sweden
8. Berlin, Germany
9. Dublin, Ireland
10. Tokyo, Japan
11. Munich, Germany, Montreal, Canada, Nagoya, Japan (tie)
12. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
13. Barcelona, Spain, Budapest, Hungary (tie), Paris, France (tie)
14. Hamburg, Germany

  Acknowledgement: Wikipedia, Time 

Monday, May 26, 2014


Dr Abe V Rotor

Fire tree (Delonix regia) in bloom doused by the first rain in May, AVR 1988

True beauty’s so brief and shy,
And elusive to behold,
Gaining all the eyes of the world,
Yet alone to be awed.

Beautiful. Yes you are!
Clothed with the colors of the sun;
For now you’re a flower shining,
Shining, dying.

Sparkling dewdrops cling and rise
To bring down a passing cloud;
Beauty can’t wait, like the seed.
Waking to nature’s bid.

Friendship earned but in a glance,
Like butterflies on a tree;
Resting on a long journey,
To where they are free. ~

Spirit of the tree

Dr Abe V Rotor

Call the kapre, dwende, tikbalang
to scare or for fun;
the goddess Maria Makiling,
and Helios, the sun.
I imagine the world without them -
without them around:

     Children wouldn't be home before dark;
     and dogs at night wouldn't bark?

     Why sunflowers always face the sun,
     and go to sleep when gone;

     trespassers, beware, take the road instead,
     else on some spirit you might tread;

     over the hills and valleys thunder rolls
     when angry Thor growls,

     and mushrooms spontaneously appear
     breaking the ground like spear;

     phosphorescence fascinates us,
     after the fire has gone into ash;

     look up they’re but one - fireflies and stars,
     fireflies are the missing stars.

     holiest the altar of nature unspoiled,
     where logging was foiled,

     where the kapre lives in big trees,
     and scares with a sudden breeze;

     paddies sigh, bamboos creak and whisper,
     unseen - creatures or not – slither.

The world is alive with tales and legends;
untrue yet true, for they are a twin;
and if you pass by a tree, stop and listen
to the spirit that throbs within.~ 

Saturday, May 24, 2014


Dr Abe V Rotor

Painting in acrylic, AVR 2011

Bouquet - how extreme:
how happy, how sad,
how deceitful, how holy,
how tame, how mad!

Bouquet - how fresh,
picked for vase or lei;
how withered when gone
across the bay.

Bouquet - how fragrant
across the hall;
how lavish in summer,
how dearth in fall.

Bouquet - how missed
the bee, the butterfly
in the garden, the rainbow
an arch of sigh.~

Enigmatic Aphid - Master of Survival

Dr Abe V Rotor

A colony of aphids (Aphis gossypii) on cabbage

By sheer number, you are statistically stable,
by the rule of the multiplication table.

Ensconced in your host's leaves and flower,
you're safe from enemies and the sprayer.

Generations, one after another, under a roof,
offspring in various stages is the proof.

Winged, the males visit other colonies
to share and bring in new genes.

Parasitic by habit, yet you spare your host
from untimely demise at all cost.

But when food supply threatens your colony,
your young is forced to mature early

By the mysterious process of paedogenesis;
and sexless parthenogenesis.

And by symbiosis with the fierce red ant,
food you give, protection its grant.

No other creature I know can you be compared,
your kind I think, will be spared

The morning after, from the Armageddon,
when the earth is barren and alone.

And life after people, you are likely a survivor,
all because Nature is in your favor . ~

Who says we can't re-invent the wheel?

Dr Abe V Rotor
Royal ride on an elephant; elephant's wooden wheel wagon, Bangkok

Bullock's "gypsy" wagon, Philippines

Counterpart of the horse's chariot of war, 
the peaceful bullock's cart on rice paddies,
kariton or partigo' our village invention, 
all from the wheel through the centuries.

We wonder at technology's evolution,
from a rolling stone to wood to steel, 
relegating the wheel today to the museum,
and denying we can't re-invent the wheel.~

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Life and the Traffic Light

Dr Abe V Rotor

Time is likened to the traffic light;
It signals you to go or to stop;
It comes in cycles like in a flight;
Not a wink, and rest is but a gap -
Warning nil when your time is up. ~

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Yes, you can paint! Start now.

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

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. ~

On-the -spot painting contest, UST 2012.

Therapeutic Effects of Violin and Nature

An experimental approach to music
Dr Abe V Rotor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These are as follows:

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

Respondents Profile

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. The composition creates a meditative
mood. 3.95 4

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

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

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

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

9. It brings about a nostalgic feeling. 3.19 9

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 19, 2014

Humanities weaves a beautiful tapestry of humanity

Dr Abe V Rotor

Son, what do you remember as the happiest moment in your life?” asked a dying old man at his deathbed.
“When we went fishing, dad, and caught fireflies on our way back to camp.”

“Thank you.” And the old man smiled his last. It was a parting sealed by sweet memory of childhood.

Authors children: Leo and Marlo at the National Jamboree, Mt Makiling, Laguna

Humanities brings out the sense of awe and wonder

Humanities brings out the sense of awe and wonder, specially to the young, of the things around , of life processes and cycles, the passing of seasons and ages. It makes one aware of even the minute existence of things, the transformation of the ordinary into something beautiful.

Wonder the summer night, camping by a lake, home outside of home,
no roof but the sky, no walls, no gate, stars and fireflies mingle as one;
Wonder the breeze blow and weave through the trees, comb the grass,
carry into the sky kites of many colors and make greeting the rainbow;

“The sense of wonder is indestructible, that it would last throughout life, an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantment of later years.” Says Rachel Carson, author of an all-time favorite novel, Silent Spring. It is true, the sense of wonder prepares the young to face and conquer the world.

Humanities builds on the framework of truth and values

Even with few words the mind is set to explore, giving way to imagination beyond mere reason. Brevity is the framework of the mind, the heart and spirit in the Lord’s Prayer and the Gettysburg Address of America’s most loved leader, Abraham Lincoln. It is also a path to humility in greatness, a union of the classical and the contemporary.

If the story of the Creation can be told in 400 words, if the Ten Commandments contain 297 words, if Lincoln’s immortal Gettysburg Address was only 266 words, if an entire concept of freedom was set in the Declaration of Independence in about 1,300 words – it is up to some of us to use fewer words, and thus save the time energy, vitality, and nerves of those who must read or listen. (Jerome P Fleishman) 

Humanities brings out the human spirit

Guernica, a plaza mural made by the greatest modern painter Pablo Picasso, ignited popular revolt against the Nazi regime. On the huge mural were embedded hidden images that conveyed principles of truth and freedom.

Similarly, in an earlier era, our own hero Juan Luna painted Spolarium, (centerpiece of the National Museum), a mural depicting the Filipinos under Spanish rule suffering like the gladiators during the Roman times, a visual message for the people to realize their plight. Later Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere, one of the greatest books ever written in the category of War and Peace by Tolstoy, and Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, extolled the coming of a new world order – post-colonialism and the birth of new nations.

Humanities brings tranquility in crisis

It may be strange to know that Winston Churchill, the great English hero of WWII, still found time to paint by the bank of the Thames. Arts bring tranquility in times of crisis, and elevate the senses on a higher vantage plane of vision. Putting down his brush and easel, he would then return to the battlefield with greater revolve to save Great Britain from the ravaging war. And to a greater surprise, what was it that Churchill painted? Peace.

It was the other way around five hundred years earlier when the great Michelangelo who single handedly painted the huge ceiling of the Sistine Chapel would descend from the scaffoldings, exchanged his paint brush with sword and fought side-by-side his benefactor the Pope, and when victory was apparent would climb back to finish his masterpiece. The result: the biggest composite mural that brought God, the angels and saints, down to earth., making the Sistine a microcosm of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Humanities is guardian of movements and schools

From the paintings of early man in the Lascaux caves in France, to the surrealism of Salvador Dali, humanities has kept faithful to the evolution of human creativity expressed in various aspects of human life, pouring out from palaces and cathedrals to the villages and streets. For arts no longer belong to selected societies and cultures. Impressionism took over Romanticism and translated Realism for the grassroots, subsequently bypassing standards of perception, and permeating into the unconscious seeking expression and catharsis. Expressionism founded by Vincent Van Gogh opened a wider door to abstractionism that subsequently spilled into post-modernism.

“What’s abstract? a young art enthusiast
once asked, dutifully I answered:
“When you look through the window of a car
running so fast that views are blurred.”

“What’s expressionism?” an elder one asked;

“When the car stops, or just about,
yet still running inside, seeking, searching
for the spring of life to pour out.”

“And what is impressionism?” a third asked,

and I said: It’s sitting on a fence -
On one side Amorsolo, the other Ocampo,
It’s the spirit of art past and hence. ~
Humanities aims at goodness and peace

Propagandism and license are perhaps the greatest enemy of Humanities. The world plunged into two global wars, followed by half a centurty of cold war - the polarization into opposite ideologies that froze mankind at the brink of Armageddon, awakening Humanities to a new dimension - the search for peace.

And as in the Renaissance, Humanities centered on rebirth and renewal of man’s faith in his destiny. Peace reigned the longest in contemporary times in spite of local conflicts. And for a century or so Humanities blossomed into wide popularity and acclaim, and rich diversity today, dominating media, commerce, industry and in practically all aspects of life, which often venture on the boundaries of humanities itself, among them pornography, religious extrememism, aculturation, among others.

Humanities is keeper and pioneer of the arts

Humanities gave the world the finest of human achievements and continues to do so - timeless classics from novel to cinema, painting to photography, colonial design to high rise structuyres, stage play to TV and Internet show. Man’s glory is akin to humanities - Venus de Milo, Taj Mahal, Borobodor, Eiffel Tower, Hallelujah, Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story, The Little Prince. to name a few.

Humanities discovered superstars like Elvis Priestley and Michael Jackson, and our own local sensations, Leah Salonga and Charisse Pempengco.

Humanities faces challenge of the cyber age

But arts has also plunged into a deep and unknown global pool bringing across the world cultures heretofore unknown and appreciated, and riding on postmodernism into the chartless world of cyberspoace. Which leads us to a puzzle, Quo vadis, Humanus?

Humanities elevates reverence for life and Nature  

And yet humanities is anchored on a strong foundation, none other than the place of his birth and his ascension into Homo sapiens - Nature.  Reverence to Nature is reverence for life, the highest expression of man through humanities.  From  this relationship he finds inspiration in his arts and technology, in seeking knowledge and wisdom, and in enhancing the unity and harmony of creation, and among mankind into a living network. 

Humanities is the custodian of the network of humanitiy

We are the World – the song that united the world by the compassion it created for the dying is perhaps the greatest humanitarian movement in recent times, originally USA to Africa in the eighties, and was repeated during the Haiti disaster twenty years later. Translated by different races, beliefs, ideologies into a common call, it brought consciousness to the whole world, that humanity is a network, a closely knit fabric beautifully expressed in the lyrics of the song -

There comes a time
When we heed a certain call,
When the world must come together as one.
There are people dying
And it’s time to lend a hand to life,
The greatest gift of all


We are the world
We are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day
So let’s start giving
There’s a choice we’re making
We’re saving our own lives
It’s true we’ll make a better day
Just you and me .

It is a most fitting tribute to mankind through this song, that no man is an island, that when somebody dies, a part inside each of us also dies, and for every man’s victory, we too, feel triumphant. Humanity is a beautiful tapestry, and Humanities is Arachne on the loom.~.

“Humanities holds the greatest treasure of mankind.“
Nationally renowned authors, poets and dramatists, among them Ofelia Dimalanta, Sedfrey Ordoñez, Jose Villa

In summary, Humanities

- is a beautiful tapetry of humanity
- brings out the sense of awe and wonder
- builds on the framework of truth and values
- brings out the human spirit
- brings tranquility in crisis
- is guardian of movements and schools
- aims at goodness and peace
- is keeper and pioneer of the arts
- faces challenge of the cyber age
- elevates reverence for life and Nature   
- is the custodian of the network of humanitiy 
- holds the greatest treasure of mankind

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Bahay Kubo is symbol of self-sufficiency, simplicity and natural beauty.

Dr Abe V Rotor 
 A cozy farm house, Floridablanca, Pampanga

 Garden nipa kiosk;  Coeds pose before a typical Filipino home (IRRI Museum, UPLB Laguna)

Bahay Kubo (My Nipa Hut) is one of the most loved traditional songs. All kids in my generation learned it by heart in the elementary.  Not so many kids today are familiar with it.  It is good to rediscover the beauty and lesson of the song.   

Bahay kubo, hahit munti, ang halaman doon ay sari-sari. Singkamas at talong, sigidillas at mani, sitao, batao, patani. Kondol, patola, upo, kalabasa, at sa ka mayroon pa, labanos, mustasa.  Sibuyas, kamatis, bawang at luya, at ang paligidligid ay linga.

These are main features of the song.   
·         There are eighteen (18) plants, which are indigenous, mostly native varieties. (biodiversity)

·         Many of the plants have medicinal values and are effective home remedies for common ailments (luya, sibuyas, bawang).

·         The four kinds of vegetables are represented: leafy (mustasa), fruit (kamatis, talong, kalabasa), root (labanos, singkamas), seed (linga, patani, mani).

·         Spices and condiments are included in the list (linga, luya, bawang)

My Nipa Hut, painting by the author 

The plants have different planting and harvesting schedules, thus enhancing whole year round supply of vegetables, and the use of resources and family labor.

The plants have different growing types or habits which means they occupy specific places and have space allocations. (viny, herb, bush).

·         Nutrition-wise they provide the basic requirements for growing up and good health.
·         The ambiance projected by the scene is green, tranquil, clean, shady and cool (environment-friendly).
·         The garden exudes a feeling of self-sufficiency and offers a potential for livelihood.
·         Simplicity is the key to a contented life (with least energy consumption, and amenities).
·         Such a scene expands the imagination to include a backyard fishpond, chicken coop, orchard trees and ornamental plants, among others – all of these contribute to the enrichment of the Bahay Kubo, without modifying its basic concept and structure. 

Folk wisdom tells us how good it is to live simply and naturally, eat properly, stay young, healthy and active, save and earn money, depend less on energy and imported goods, and enjoy being at home with the family. Bahay Kubo takes us closer to nature, to appreciate our culture, and leads us to the inner calling for peace, quiet and joy.