Friday, October 31, 2014

Wanted: Kidney

True to the suspicion of the doctors the young boy was diagnosed to be suffering of diseased kidneys. There is only one chance for him to live – kidney transplant!

Dr Abe V Rotor

Also visit my other Blogs:
[Living with Nature] 
[naturalism - the eighth sense]

National Kidney and Transplant  Institute 

He stopped schooling after finishing elementary. He was not good in school and his classmates always teased him of being lame. He was born with a club foot. So he became the house keeper while his father and mother went to work, and his brother and sister attended school.

“Please take good care of everything, Gido.” It was Nanay Paring’s way of saying goodbye every morning before going to work. “And don’t forget to eat and take your medicine,” Tatay Gorio would add. Pedring and Trining would ask what their youngest brother Gido would like them to bring home before boarding their owner’s jeep.

Left alone at home Gido spent hours watching television and playing computer games. He had no companion except his dog, a mongrel, curled under the sofa and yelping only when hungry. “No, Pido, we are not going to cook. We are only two anyway.” He would open a bag of potato or corn chips, or a can of cheese balls, and a family-size soft drinks, and both of them would while their time away until the whole family is reunited at dinner time.

This was the life of Gido day in and out. And who would complain? People with simple life have very little to complain about. Gido’s father and mother were industrious, they were very kind. Pedring and Trining loved him. They gave him playthings, and played with him after school and weekends.

Gido’s eyesight began to fade, so he was fitted with a special pair of eyeglasses, with a grade too high for a boy in his early teens. “Oh, it’s because of too much TV and computer games,” he told himself.

One time his mother was talking to Gido, but he seemed not to be listening. “Gido, Gido,” her mother called. Gido was going deaf. The family doctor also found out that he was losing control of some muscles and nerves. His asthma had gone worse and yet he was fast gaining weight. The doctor prescribed him medicine. “Could it be Parkinson’s disease?” The doctor muttered to himself. It is impossible for a teenager to be a victim. Then the doctor realized his patient had signs of premature aging!

Months later, Gido complained of persistent back pain and he could barely move. The color of his skin lost its pinkish color. True to the suspicion of the doctors he was diagnosed to be suffering of diseased kidneys. There is only one chance for him to live – kidney transplant!

What really caused Gido’s sad condition?

After a long investigation by a university hospital, doctors attributed the boy’s condition to the effects of improper diet and inactive lifestyle. The hospital presented Gido’s case in a forum for medical students. Gido had taken some 5,000 packs potato chips, corn chips, and the like, in a period of three years at the rate of three to four packs per day,! How about noodles? If he consumed, say at the rate of two packs daily, he had taken no less than 2000 packs during the same period. Noodles are known to contain MSG or sodium monoglutamate which doctors attribute to be the cause of poor development of the brain and muscles. How about carbonated soft drinks? At one family size bottle a day, Gido drank some 1,000 liters during the same period.

What worsened his situation was that Gido did not have enough physical exercise. Cleaning the house was not sufficient. And he was not getting the much needed sunlight. He became overweight and soon he felt ashamed of himself, and developed a phobia of going out and meeting people. How low was his self esteem!

As a writer I met Gido at the National Kidney Institute where he was undergoing dialysis. I saw his name in the list of candidates waiting for kidney donation. The list was very long and there are few donors. He had been visiting NKI regularly with Nanay Paring or Tatay Gorio, or with his brother or sister. Sometimes the whole family was with him.

The family prayed hard every evening, instead of watching their favorite TV programs. They prayed that someone was going to donate a kidney for Gido. A month had passed and there was none.

“I’m going to donate one of my kidneys to Gido,” Pedring announced unexpectedly. The family was surprised. They sought advice from NKI and many people. They could not decide. Then a certain Dr. Abelardo Imbag who had just completed his specialization in nephrology at John Hopkins University in the US approached the family on knowing the condition of Gido.

“If you allow me, my team and I will do the operation - for free,” he offered. Dr. Imbag grew up on the same street in Tondo where the Fuentes family lived. He had known them even when he was a little boy. He remembered how Gido’s father helped him when he was accidentally bumped by a tricycle. If it were not for Tatay Goring there would be no Dr. Imbag today.

The day of the operation came. Gido and Pedring were brought into the Operating Room. Dr. Imbag and his team worked for hours. Outside the family waited. Time stood still. Nobody spoke. Only the squeak of the swing door would break the silence now and then. It was a sound that would bring the family to their feet or draw their heads towards the Operating Room.

Suddenly the door swung wide open and Dr. Imbag appeared, his face wore a big, big smile. Everyone rejoiced and embraced each other. Both operations were successful. 

Months passed. Gido was no longer the house keeper. His mother had retired from her work and devoted her time to the family, Mang Gorio found another job that required him to report only for half a day, and that he also had the whole weekend to spend with the family. Pedring and Trining loved their youngest brother more than before. For Gido and Pedring in particular, people called them “blood brothers” in the true sense of the word because they shared the same organ.

When Trining finished nursing he took care of Gido. He was her first and most special patient. Pedring soon went back to school and finished management, and opened a grocery store at the street corner near their residence.

Gido improved from his failing sight and hearing. There were less and less occasions of asthma attacks. After losing some kilos his friends stopped calling him “Tabachoy,” a local term for overweight. They would tell him he looked ten years younger. Gido was regarded a hero of sort in the neighborhood, especially by those of his age. With a scholarship coming from the university where he was operated on, Gido was able to continue his studies in the same university.

Because of Gido’s case, Dr. Imbag campaigned against malnutrition principally caused by excessive consumption of junk food and softdrinks. When Gido finished law and became a lawyer five years later, he joined Dr. Imbag, and together put up a foundation, Stop Junk Food Research and Training Center. It was dedicated to the millions of young people all over the world who are victims of this serious problem.

One afternoon while I was writing the biography of Gido I happened to pass by a young boy sitting on a bench under a tree. He looked robust and happy. He had a bottle of soft drink and a bag of potato chips. At his feet lay a dog curled asleep. I told the boy the story of Gido.~

Thursday, October 30, 2014


Dr Abe V Rotor 
Cascade, painting in acrylic by the author
There is a time to be meek:
Summer and sun and their art -
Between sea and a lonely creek
Make two worlds wide apart.

Laugh and laugh aloud
As you trace your path yonder;
Peal thunder, rain be proud
To make the rocks shudder.

Rage and break, rage an break,
On the cold wall and be free;
Make the sky and river meet
Under the rainbow by the sea.

Wash the sweat on my brow,
And let me flow with thee;
A song I sing along with you
To where the world is free. ~

Monday, October 27, 2014

A night of nature's music in a garden

Dr Abe V Rotor
Written at the former Eco Sanctuary of Saint Paul University QC.
Long horned grasshopper or katydid (Phaneroptera furcifera)
am introducing two principal singers, the long-horned grasshopper or katydid (Phaneroptera furcifera), and the cricket (Acheta bimaculata), both belonging to a large group, Order Orthoptera, to which grasshoppers are typical members.

Since childhood I have always been fascinated by insect music. Stealthily, I searched for the singer. I found out that these insects are ventriloquists and a slight turn of their wings or bodies would deceive the hunter. And when I succeed and get nearer and nearer to the source of the music, the singer would abruptly stop.

Then I finally succeeded in pinning down with a flashlight the little Caruso in the middle of his performance. He is well hidden behind a leaf, brown to black, compact and sturdy, nearly two inches long, with a long tail and a pair of antennae. His front wings are raised 45 degrees above his abdomen on which the hind wings are folded. This is the cricket’s fiddling position. Now he rubs the two leathery wings against each other in a back and forth motions, a process called stridulation, which inspired man to invent the violin. On closer examination the base of the front wing in lined with a sharp edge to form the scrapper, while the ventral side has a file like ridge, the file, which represents the bow of the violin.

And what about the stereoscopic sound effect? A pair of tympana, which are drum-like organs, found at the base of the front tibia, are actually ears which, together with the raised wings, serve as resonator, sending the sound to as far as a mile away on a still night.

Now let us analyze the music produced - or is it only a sound that is mistaken for some music qualities? The cricket's sound produced by a single stroke called pulse. Each pulse is composed of a number of individual tooth strokes of the scraper and file. Pulse rate is from four to five per second, but on warm summer night the rate becomes faster. Thus, crickets are not only watchdogs (they stop when they sense an intruder), they are also indicators of temperature – and perhaps the coming of bad weather. It is for these reasons, other than their music, that the Chinese and the Japanese love them as pets.

The pulses of cricket are relatively musical; that is, they can usually be assigned a definite pitch, varying from 1,500 to 10,000 hertz, depending on the species. Those of the long-horned grasshopper or katydid are more noise-like; that is, they contain a wide band of frequencies, including clicking and lapsing, and cannot be assigned to a definite pitch. The monotony of its sound must have led to the coining of the insect’s name, katydid-katydid-katydid…

There are three musical pieces the cricket plays. Calling songs are clear crisp, and loud, which, of course, suit the intention. When a female comes around and nudges the singing male, his music becomes soft and romantic, lasting for many minutes to hours, and he forgets his role of warning the presence of an intruder or telling of the coming storm. Anyone who is love-struck is like that, I suppose..

But worse can come all of a sudden. This sentinel falls silent as he takes the bride. And when another suitor is around, this Valentino takes a fighting stance and sings the Bastille, a battle song.

I came across studies on insect music. I began to take interest, imitating it with the violin. It is impossible and the audiospectrogram tells why. You cannot deceive them and break their code of communication. Nature is specific: only the members of the same species understand one another. And no two species can communicate vis-à-vis this auditory means. This is one area in development biology, which has not been fully explored. How did this mechanism of species communication evolve? With computers today, can it be explored as an alternative and safe means of controlling destructive species?

The garden meets sunrise with fluttering butterflies, so does a garden surrender into the night with an array of concerto and orchestra music, and becomes a place for meditation. I say that the music produced by this insect is a sound of peace and praise for life. When the students have gone home and the offices already closed, I usually spend hours waiting for my color-coding time at the SPCQ garden. The chores of the day vanished easily, and I found the evening so relaxing that I did not complain of the traffic on my way home.

The great Charles Darwin himself expressed his deep feelings for these night’s musicians in his book, Cricket at the Heart. He said, “I love it for the many times I have heard it, and the many thoughts its harmless music has given me.”

 Field cricket (Acheta bimaculata)
Carolus Linneaus, the father of taxonomy, was more affected by these insects. He kept them to send him to sleep. Japanese children delight in collecting crickets, as American children do with fireflies. Caged crickets are sold in shops. In a mall I found a battery-operated cricket in a cage. We are indeed in Computer Age! Poet David McCord laments, “The cricket’s gone. We only hear machinery.”

As for me, I still find peace in the garden with these humble companions in the night. ~

Do you sneeze often? It could be pollen allergy.

Dr Abe V Rotor
It is true. It is called allergy rhinitis There are people who are highly sensitive to pollen grains. And their allergy is specific to certain plants, and at certain seasons these plants are in bloom.
 Bouquet in acrylic by AVR
Plants belonging to Family Poaceae or Graminae which include rice, corn, wheat, sugarcane, talahib, cogon, and the like generally bloom in the last quarter beginning October when the habagat season is about to end and dry season starts.

Here are tips to prevent or minimize pollen allergy.

• Keep away from flowers and flowering plants
• Stay home to prevent exposure to pollen
• Stay away from wreaths during a wake or floral offering
. Avoid touching eyes and skin to prevent spread of allergy.
• Don’t bring in flowers and plants inside the house.
• Use mask and proper clothing.

There is a pollen calendar developed by the late Dr. Lolita Bulalacao of the National Museum, a pioneer in palynology (the study of pollen grains) in the Philippines. The calendar warns us who are susceptible to allergy to keep away from pollen coming from certain flowering plants in season and from specific areas that may cause allergy. The symptoms of allergy rhinitis are generally relieved by antihistamine, which comes in different preparations and brands, as tablet or ointment.

By the way, those who grew up in the rural areas are less susceptible to pollen allergy because they are developed certain levels of immunity. "Over protected" children are the best candidate to allergy rhinitis.

Why don't we take our children outdoors once in a while? In this way they start developing resistance to various kinds of allergy. And don't be over hygienic. It's like raising our children in a sterile glass chamber. There will come a time they will be dependent on allergy and asthma relievers and medicine.~

3 Ways to Live Naturally

  • Go for Fresh, Natural, and Locally Produced Food
  • Natural Farming Models
  • Live Naturally in your Home
Dr Abe V Rotor

Part 1: Go for Fresh, Natural, and Locally Produced Food
It's not enough that we produce food. We must produce food that ensure good health, reduce risks to diseases and ailments, and prolong life. We must produce food that also insures the health of our environment and the stability of the ecological system.
Typical fruit stand, UP Diliman QC
While science and technology continue to explore new ways to increase food supply with genetic engineering, people are yearning for organic food – or naturally grown food.

Here are issues raised by the proponents of organic farming.

1. Many ailments and abnormalities are traced to the food we take. Cancer for instance, is often related to carcinogenic substances. High uric acid leads to kidney trouble. High cholesterol and high sugar levels are associated with high blood pressure and diabetes. Aftatoxin causes cirrhosis of the liver. Ulcers are food-related, so with many allergies.

2. Proper nutrition and balanced diet can be attained by eating the right kind and amount of natural food without fortification with vitamins and minerals, and other forms of altering food value. Thus there is no need to process food unless it is really necessary. Fresh foods – vegetables, fish, and the like – are still the best. And why modify the genetic composition of crops and animals? Leave that to nature. Nature knows best.

3. Taking excess foods rich in animal fat and protein, and foods high in calories foods has predisposed many people to overweight conditions. Gaining unnecessary weight leads obesity now an epidemic sweeping many countries today particularly in cities where there is a proliferation of fast foods and junk foods. Or simply there is too much of the “good life” – excess in food and pleasure. In the US today one out of five Americans is an obese, two are overweight.

4. There are natural substances that keep our body always alert to fend off stress due to overwork and diseases. They are known as probiotics. We get probiotics from fruits and vegetables. We also get them from seaweeds, mushrooms, yoghurt, algae such as Chlorella, and Cyanobacteria such as Spirulina. And there are many more sources that occur in nature. We are beginning to realize that eating foods rich in probiotics and antibiotics (substances that directly kill germs) makes us healthier and live longer.

These are the rules set by the advocates of organic farming.
Best for health: fresh fruits and vegetables 

1. It is always better to eat foods grown under natural conditions than those developed with the use of chemicals.
This statement can be captured with one term "natural food". All over the world this is a label found in food grown without chemicals. People are afraid of becoming ill because of chemicals introduced into the food. There are banned pesticides still in used such as methyl parathion, endosulfan, DDT, BHC, among others. These are also harmful to all living organisms and to the environment.

2. People are avoiding harmful residues of antibiotics and pesticides.
Poultry, hogs and cattle are given high levels of antibiotics to safeguard the animals from diseases. As a result, the antibiotics are passed on to the consumers. Unless we are ill, the body does not need supplemental antibiotics. We have adequate natural sources. Every time we eat commercial eggs, chicken, pork chop, steak, and the like, we are taking in antibiotics which accumulate in our body, shutting off our immune systems, punishing our kidney and liver. To many people, antibiotics cause allergic reactions.

3. People are getting scared of food contaminated by radiation. Nuclear reactors are being built in many countries as a fallback to fossil fuel.
With the recent nuclear plant meltdown in Fukoshima, Japan, the Chernobyl nuclear incident in Russia, and that of the Three-Miles Island nuclear plant in the US, people have become wary about the consequences of fallout. A trace of radiation can be absorbed by grass in the pasture, finds its way to milk, then to infants. Radiation can remain active for hundreds of years. People are still dying today in Nagasaki and Hiroshima, more than sixty years since the bombing of the two cities with the first atomic bomb.

4. People are becoming aware of the deleterious effects of toxic metals, such as lead, mercury and cadmium.These find their way through the food chain and ultimately reach humans. They escape to the air and enter our lungs, as in the case of dusts from old paints. Since they are in soluble compounds, they are easily absorbed by plants and animals. Kangkong (Ipomea reptans) for example absorbs lead. Tuna has high mercury in its tissues and liver. Cadmium from batteries is absorbed by crops.

5. People are becoming more conscious of the nutritional value of food rather than its packaging and presentation.
More and more people are shunning away from junk foods, in spite of their attractive packaging. Soft drinks have taken the backseat, courtesy of fruit juices and mineral water. People have even learned that different plant varieties have different levels of food value. Beans grown on naturally fertile soil have higher calorie and protein content than those grown on poor soil, or with chemical fertilizers. This is also true with animals. Animals raised with proper nutrition give meat, milk and eggs with higher protein, minerals notwithstanding.

6. Freshness is the primordial rule in choosing a perishable food.
There is no substitute to freshness. While freshness is a function of efficient handling and marketing, the farmer must enhance farm-to-market freshness. By keeping his standing plants healthy, his produce will stay longer on the shelf life. Products that are free from pest and diseases also stay fresher and longer. Too much water or fertilizer reduces shelf life of the commodity.
Buko is a complete food 
7. Food processing must be efficient and safe.
Food processing, such as drying, milling and manufacturing is key to higher profits. Whenever feasible, food must reach the table fresh. But processing is designed to extend the shelf life of perishable commodities. There are products that require processing before they are used. These food items include vanilla, coffee, cacao, wine and vinegar, soya, fish sauce and the like. Profits generated through processing are value-added to production.

8. Food must be free from pest and diseases.
By all means, food must be free from insects and pathogens. There are cases of food poisoning as a result of food deterioration, or contamination. Take salmonella and E. coli. Khapra beetle in grains may even cause death to animals. Weevils hasten the deterioration of the food.

9. Food preservation must ensure quality, and above all, safety.
Be aware of the fish that is stiff, yet looks fresh. It is easy to detect the odor of formalin. Salitre is harmful, so with vetsin or MSG (Monosodium glutamate). Too much salt (sodium) is not good to the body. Some puto makers add lye or sodium hydroxide to aid coagulation of the starch. We wary of sampaloc candies enticingly made red with shoe dye. The same diluted dye is used with ube manufacture to make it look like the real violet-colored tuber.

10. Beware of GMOs.
Many countries warn of the potential dangers of genetically modified food and food products, popularly called Frankenfood, after the novel Frankenstein, a mad scientist who created a monster. This move is not only to safeguard health, but also the environment. Genetically modified plants and animals – as well as bacteria, protists and even viruses – are now a threat to the natural gene pool, giving rise to a new kind of pollution - genetic pollution. Once a gene pool of a certain species is contaminated with a GMO genetic material, the genic pollutant cannot be eliminated, even in subsequent generations. Thus, it also disturbs natural evolution.
No GMO, please, for the sake of the children. 
Next time you go to market, remember these guidelines. Why not convert that idle lot to raise food that is safe to your health and the environment? That little corner could be the start of a new green revolution.

Part 2: Natural Farming Models

The other name of natural farming is organic farming. In the United States and Europe, the trend now is for people to reach for organically grown food. In malls and large groceries, we find rice labeled "organically grown."

Mere substitution of fertilizer from chemical to organic is not enough. The organic fertilizer must be free from pathogens, toxic waste and metals.

The crops and animals must not be products of genetic engineering, meaning they should come from natural gene pools.

Natural farming also requires the absence of chemical spraying. If it cannot be avoided, the spray must be biodegradable, using botanical derivatives like derris, neem and chrysanthemum.

Here are scenarios of natural farming in the country.

1. Payatak method (Samar) - This is a local version of zero tillage. No plowing, no harrowing is done. A herd of carabaos trample over the soil until it turns into puddle, then the one-month old rice seedlings are transplanted. There are no sprays or fertilizers. This is natural farming in the marginal sense, a carryover of age-old tradition.

2. Mixed orchard (Zambales) – This is a stand of several kinds of trees, where orchard, firewood trees and forest trees grow together. These trees follow a natural pattern of arrangement. They have no common pest and need soil fertility differentially. The trees have their own niche and grow into layers resembling storeys. Management is simple and practical.

3. Multiple cropping model (Sta. Maria. Bulacan) - The farmer engages in the production of three commodities. A two-hectare farm may produce fruits, vegetables and rice, plus several heads of carabao and cattle. A pond supplies irrigation and produces tilapia and hito.

Why three commodities? It is because these commodities are closely integrated. First, the animals produce, other than meat and milk, manure for the plants. The plants produce food for the family and market. Plant residues are made into animal feeds and compost. The pond is source of irrigation. It is a waterhole for wildlife conservation, too. Because of its integrated structure and management the farm becomes a balanced system. This is the key to sustainable agriculture, otherwise known as ecological farming.

4. Sloping agricultural land technology or (SALT in Bohol). Call this natural farming even if the farm is a logged over area. The idea is for the farmer to revert the land to its natural state as much as possible. How does he do it? If one sees the model, the land has a slope of around 20 degrees. The steeper the grade the more difficult it is to apply the system. It does not work for slopes above 30 degrees.

In SALT, the contour of the slope is marked and outlined. The contours are spaced uniformly, and the rows that follow the contour are planted at intervals with annual and permanent crops. The idea is for the permanent crops (like fruit trees and firewood trees) to be sandwiched with annual crops (like peanut, rice, corn, and vegetable). The ipil-ipil herbage is used as organic fertilizer. The Neem tree is used for pesticide, while Lantana (L. camara) is a natural pest repellant, so with Eucalyptus. Legume intercropping and crop rotation replenish the soil of Nitrogen and other elements.

5. Modified models (rice and corn areas). Rice farming can be modified to suit the conditions of natural farming. There are farms today that rely entirely on homemade or commercial organic fertilizers. An equally important aspect of successful farming is cleanliness. This means effective weed removal, trimmed waterways, properly disposed of farm wastes, efficient drainage, well arranged rows, and properly scheduled farming activities. All these activities require low technologies that are also affordable. Together they contribute to good health for both the producer and consumer - and the environment.

As more people go for organically-grown food, agriculture becomes more environment-friendly, which is the essence of ecological farming.

Part 3: Live Naturally in your Home
Home gardening and landscaping take us into the realms of happy living. They take us closer to nature in our waking hours and in our sleep, in our private and solemn moments, as well as moments with our family, and when celebrating an event. This is the place we call home.
Rustic scene of peace, a respite from city life,  
1. Aesthetic beauty – Beauty and function must go hand on hand. There is a saying, “useless each without the other.” In science, morphology (form) enhances physiology (function), and vice versa. Maganda na, napapakinabangan pa. You need the sensitivity of an artist, and the green thumb of a gardener.

2. Food Security – It is having food grown in our garden, and processed in our kitchen. The concept of food security is in our hands, and in anticipation to our needs. All year round you can plan out what to plant and process, as how many times you can raise these products. Consult the planting calendar, practice effective techniques such as crop rotation, intercropping, and storey cropping. Plant those known to be best adapted in the area.

3. Livelihood – What you produce more than yourself and your family, you sell to the community and to the market, if the volume warrantees. These are produced directly from the garden – vegetables, fruits, fish, meat and eggs. Or these are products of cottage processing like salted eggs, patis and bagoong, wine and vinegar, toge, pickles, jam, jelly and the like.

4. Ecological Sanctuary – Offer a home for the homeless - the orphans and the endangered organisms which humans have driven or displaced. Make your home their sanctuary, maybe their last bastion. Your home is an extension of the wildlife, of a ecosystem, or a natural park, so that if the whole community adopts the same concept, we would in effect create a contiguous areas large enough to be considered a prototype ecosystem.

5. Buffer Zone – Keep your home free of dusts and unburnt carbon, and obnoxious gases mainly CO2, CO and S02. Trees and other plants serve as buffer to direct light and ultraviolet rays. They also buffer sound waves, reducing the extreme decibels generated by traffic and electronics.

6. Mini climate – A garden surrounding a home does not only reduce temperature, buy moderates its extremes and sudden changes. They generate of O2 , while absorb CO2 which they need for photosynthesis. Relative humidity is regulated, and deadly rays such as those emitted by communication transmission towers are reduced to a safe level.

7. Sense of Permanence – The home offer a permanent abode, opposite to transience, rootlessness, and impermanence. People tend to move from place to place – a neo-nomadic trend today. We establish our genetic and cultural “roots” not only of one generation but of the next and future – if we have a home we really call home. It reminds me of the beautiful poem and song, Home Sweet Home. I remember my dad who planted seedlings of trees when he was already very old. These trees, he said, will be for you and my grandchildren, his eyes twinkling with a sense of pride. Can you imagine an old, old mango or mabolo tree in your backyard? How many passersby have found comfort under its shade? How many tenants did it  serve – in its roots to its leaves?

8. Recreating a Lost Garden – A recreation of Paradise Lost, the foundation of many faiths, is a key to attain spirituality. It is in the loss of a once beautiful world that challenges us – whatever our religion is – to be able not only to survive without it, but to be inspired and guided to rebuild it. It is yet the greatest prayer we can offer to that Higher Principle.

9. Family Unity – A family that lives together in unity and harmony with Nature stays together. This has a basis found in biology and ecology. Only when the members of a system know their roles and respect each other can we really find peace and unity.

10. Community Involvement – No man is an island. In the city we can live without even knowing our neighbors. Condominiums are but multiple compartments. There is no sense of neighborhood or community. Each to his own. And we do not know if the occupant of one compartment will be the same next week.
 American bungalow, most copied home design 
Sketch on a bond, an aerial view of a home garden you have in mind, and if there is one
that already exists, study and analyze which aspects are applicable in your particular situation. Definitely the house and the garden should be contiguous in the sense that, like the concept of the American bungalow, “one step is in the garden while the other is in the house.”

How aptly stated; the imagery needs little explanation. The level of the floor is the level of the garden. Not necessarily. It means, you have but one lifestyle whether you are in the house or in its surroundings. Better said, you are at home whichever part of your home you are in. Of course some people would like their house to be treated apart of the surroundings, but if you adopt the Bahay Kubo concept and adjust it to fit into the basic amenities of living today, then our model is like the American bungalow but Filipino style.~

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Time for Verses

Dr Abe V Rotor
 Where land and sea meet, in acrylic, AVR
 Hidden eyes in acrylic, AVR

1. Hush, hush, 
suddenly the world became still;
gone is the lark in the sky
and raven on the window sill.

2. The bamboo I cut is not really mine,
this giant grass, a reed sublime;
in the wind it rings a sweet old chime
into a song sans words and rhyme.

3. When the geese take to the air
their leader first breaks the barrier;
on the dovetail trail ride the flock
in synergy, confidence and luck.

4. A wall unseen by the other,
Behind we refuse to be seen,
Of what we are and what had been –
Break it, and be a true brother.

5. Better the Noble Savage lived
Than civilization to Mankind,
In a Garden we long envied,
Sans want, war and its evil kind.

6. Look at the arrow and the bow,
The first machine before the plow;
A hunter’s life that man had ceased,
To found the land of love and peace.

8. Kindness but without honesty -
That is sentimentality;
Honesty but without kindness -
Simply that is plain cruelty;
Peace - that the duo must harness
To bring light to humanity.

9. Judgment isn't just conformity
That binds a class and society;
Not for the rich or any sect –
But of the heart and intellect.

10. If my life's to be lived with love,
Learned and shared not one but many;
Through others it's this way above,
I shall have left a legacy.~

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Litany of Obesity

Dr Abe V Rotor
Appetite is induced by too many kinds of food and food preparations  
 Consuming a single kind of food but unlimited. 
Multistory sandwich, a giant serving   

A Litany of Obesity 
  1. Obesity and sedimentary living
  2. Obesity and affluence
  3. Obesity and psychological appetite 
  4. Obesity and genetic tendency
  5. Obesity and junk food
  6. Obesity and protein-rich food
  7. Obesity and depression 
  8. Obesity and culinary art
  9. Obesity and middle age
  10. Obesity and uncontrolled urge
  11. Obesity and company 
  12. Obesity and pampered childhood
  13. Obesity and false health indicator
  14. Obesity and lack of regular exercise
  15. Obesity and introversion 
  16. Obesity and disease/infirmity
  17. Obesity and personality 
  18. Obesity and happy-go-lucky living
  19. Obesity and vices
  20. Obesity and bahala na attitude
This litany serves in self evaluation. Are you a victim of obesity? Or are you predispose to this postmodern epidemic? Draw your bodyscape. Make a series of selfie photos and study carefully. ~

Monday, October 20, 2014

Parallel Worlds

... all must play the game of life to the end. 
Photo and verse by Dr Abe V Rotor

Butterfly and house lizard, at home

Creatures all are on either side
     of the fence, living 
parallel lives, either the aggressor,
     or the unwary victim.

Advantage they take over others,
     or stay out of danger;
but all must play the game of life
     throughout to the end. 

Man over all creatures takes control 
     of the living kingdom,
while Providence takes the third role - 
     the will of the Creator. ~

Angels just pass by, my friend.

Dr Abe V Rotor

Dr Anselmo Set Cabigan, Ph.D. examines the flower of the enigmatic pongapong (Amorpophallus campanolatus) at the former St Paul University Garden QC.  Pine saplings in Lipa Batangas,  On-site lecture in biology at the former SPUQC Museum

All the years, to describe you, let me count the ways:
But first, admit your age, and heed the one who says.

Our roads crossed time and again - perhaps the eighth,

Under any umbrella, any fort of service and faith;

A tree you planted, its boughs filled with children,

In its shade, old and young call each other brethren;

A field of grass undulating in whispers and in song

Of hopes and dreams among the beloved throng;

A plow, you're the man behind a home and nation,

A computer, cyberspace its eye and its bastion.

Nata to leather, fruit to wine, microbes to food,

Work of a goodhearted genius working under the hood.

Busy feet, busy hands, bound in thought and sinew,

Work, work, work - whatever may be your view.

And play? And jokes? You've got a lot, too.

Cracking one, and I saw how a whole class blew.

Child of Nature years ago, but never getting old,

Though your hair is vanishing, laurels in its hold;

The span of time and space, your now sit on its shed,

Furrows on your forehead, your vision dims ahead.

If for any reason you keep on searching, never tiring,

It's because the stars shine far out into the morning,

And ideals and truth are not the same, are they?

There are no answers - yet you wish there may.

In a perfect place and time, here and beyond SPUQ,

Angels just pass by Sel, we can only guess they do.~

Dedicated to Dr. Anselmo Set Cabigan (left), a good old friend. 
He and the author retired from government, and the academe.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Birdsong at Sunrise in a Garden

Dr Abe V Rotor

Birds (16" 28") painting in acrylic by the author 2012

They chirp, but you don't see them,     
     only leaves moving, rustling;
their becks red, their eyes sullen,
     and they blend with everything.

When you get near to admire,
     they shun, they stop moving,
silence the rule of their game,
     discreet and subtle warning.

Birds are indeed real strange,    
     they fly fast or sit at ease;
they sing with few notes to trace,
     like passing breeze in the trees. ~ 

When you have a garden around your house you would know if it’s already sunrise when the birds start singing in the trees. Meantime the sun seeps through the foliage and hedges, and sparkles on the dewdrops clinging on them. The lawn comes alive, flooded with sunlight.  Its many tenants – crickets, slugs, earthworm, caterpillars, and even frogs wake up. 

     Soon more birds come around.  Their songs begin to take shape and form:  cadence, pitch, and melody – all these help us in identifying the birds without seeing them. One advantage of being surrounded by a garden is that the resonance of sound heightens every note and even projects it with a ventriloquist effect that makes it difficult to be traced. What a contrast between the sounds we hear at sunrise with that in the darkness of night before! In the latter we are entertained by the unending fiddling of crickets that lulls us to sleep. Now it is a melodious wake up call.

     But one morning as I listened intently to the concert of the warblers, finally pinning down their whereabouts. Soon enough one posed, perched on a terminal branch overlooking the garden and calling for its mate.

     Meticulously I transcribed its song in alphabets and soon realized it was actually communicating. But putting the syllables together did not mean anything to humans. To transcribe them into music would take a composer to do just that. I could only pick up the melody that seems to be the theme of any composition.
Song of the warbler
Common Tailor Bird (Orthotomus atrogularis rabori Parkes)

Tag-wa-tee-e-e-e-et, tag- wa- tee-e-e-e-et, tag-wa- tee-e-e-e-et,
Tag-wa- tee-e-e-e-et, tag-wa- tee- e-e-e-et, tag-wa-tee- e-e-e-et
Tig- wa- too- tee- e- et, tig- wa- too- tee- e- et, tig- wa- too- tee- e- et,
Tig- wa- too- tee- e- et, tig- wa- too- tee- e- et, tig –wa too- tee- e- et-
Ter- r-r-r-r-r-r-, ter-r-r-r-r-r-r, ter-r-r-r-r-r-r, ter-r-r-r-r-r-r,
Ter-r-r-r-r-r-r-, ter-r-r-r-r-r-r, ter-r-r-r-r-r-r, ter-r-r-r-r-r-r

     If one analyzes Beethoven’s Pastoral or Peer Gynt’s Morning he will certainly find close association and similar pattern of their notes with those occurring in nature. Drums and thunder, steam and flute, cows mooing and horn or oboe, raindrops and castanets, cricket fiddling and violin - are easy to recognize and appreciate.

     But there are sounds too faint to recognize as music. Such is the music of the hummingbird, the world’s smallest bird. Take the sound of whales in the deep ocean.

     Once I saw (pipit) in our farm lot. Its deep high pitch call could hardly penetrate the foliage and humid habagat air. Its source seems very far that you would think it is coming from the other side of a solid wall. I saw and heard it as it sipped the nectar of Heliconia flowers.  These banana-like plants are also known as Lobster’s Claws and Birds of Paradise.  It was a rare sight. The bird hovers like a dragonfly, and darts forward and backward, inserting its long beak deep into the newly opened flowers, its feathers matching the color of the flowers around.  As it did this, it continuously uttered a deep but sweet “chee-wee-e-e-et”.

     Perhaps if we plant more Heliconia and trees around that make a four-tier structure of an arboretum - annuals, shrubs, canopy trees and emergents – we may make the garden conducive to more birds. Only by simulating the natural habitats of organisms that we expect them to establish their niches or domains. Here the birds would build their nests, and as they raise their brood, their music becomes a chorus of hungry bridling and parental calls.

      I have had a number of occasions to observe other birds in the garden. The pandangera or fantail (Rhipidura javanica nitgritorquis), as its name implies, is a dancer and singer combined. Its crispy, continuous song and brisk movement of its trail spread like a fan, stops any passerby to full attention.

     Once in our ancestral home in the province, I watched a pandangera dance and sing in front of a dresser’s mirror. The following day it came again and did the same. It was courting its own image on the mirror! This is a sign of intelligence. Zoologists know of very few creatures that are attracted by their own image, treating it like their own kind. Among these is the orangutan.

     Others birds include the swift. The smaller ones are pygmy swiftlets (Collocalia troglodytes), while the glossy and larger species are Collocalia esculenta marginata). When they come, they sit on a Mearalco wire at exactly an arm’s length apart so that they appear in equidistant formation. They are sit silently, eyeing at potential preys below.  And once they start swooping on flies and other insects you could hear them uttering short and distant sounds like birds in captivity. 

     In an aviary during feeding time, one is met by a cacophony of sounds like an orchestra rehearsing without the baton master. Imagine sounds like those of a trotting turkey, Guinea fowl taking off from the brooding basket, doves romantically in pairs, ducks and geese impatient at getting their share, uneasy native chicken (labuyo). Truly it is only in the wild that we hear true birdsongs.

     Outside the aviary a flock of house sparrows came down chirping. Don’t ask them to choose between food and freedom. Domestication has changed many things. Even if they have defied domestication, they have learned to live with him wherever he goes, on the countryside or in the metropolis. While you can hand-feed doves and pigeons, house sparrows will eat only when you have turned you back on them. For birds in general, I suppose that it is freedom that gives true meaning in their songs.

      Peer into a caged wild pigeon, a Philippine turtle dove (Streptopelia bitorquata dusumieri). The bird is silent, its round eyes empty. Wait for its song, then when it is time to leave, it expands its breast and sent deep booming sounds.  This is the other side of a warbler’s song.

     “How exiting it is to be interconnected with nature,” says a young naturalist.  Yes, it is indeed the key to the conservation of our environment. It is the very source of inspiration to express our talents – to paint, write and compose music. It links us to our Creator.

     I invite songwriters and music enthusiasts to explore the music of the birds and nature as a whole as an alternative to pop and rock music. We can explore the many things nature has given us to enjoy life in peace and harmony. While only very few are geniuses in music and in the other arts, all of us can be scholars of nature, learning and enjoying her bounty and ways

 “And to another branch he repeats his song,
Crispy and clear as the light of dawn,
And if trees are not enough and the streets
Are wider than the field, on cable or antenna be perches,
And sings still the song of his ancestors.

Shouldn’t I wake up with a happy heart
And spare a tree and two for his art?”
                                                                  -  AVR

Friday, October 17, 2014

Hideaway in a lovely realm

Scenic Tacloban, Leyte 2010. Typhoon Yolanda devastated the area in 2012. 

Dr Abe V Rotor

If you can't find a place for respite,
If you can't eat and stretch your tired feet,
If your heart races for something it doesn't love,
It's time you slow down and look above.

If the road is too fast, your vision is blurred,
If people are no longer friendly but just a crowd,
If heads and machines never cease heating up
It's time to turn the knob to a stop.

If you have a family to share your love and pain
If you have good health before it goes down the drain,
If you want to live long, to hope and to dream,
It's time you hide in some lovely realm. ~