Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Nativity in the Forest

Dr Abe V Rotor

Nativity Scene, Christmas 2012. Forest mural by the author, 2010

Creatures in the forest welcome a holy guest: 
     the wild and tough wake up to a stirring,
the feathered and furred, the mimicked and camouflaged,
     follow a beam of light in a clearing. 

It is an altar hemmed by a cathedral of giant trees,
     curtained by the living art of the vine;
and marked by emergent towers, the home of the eagle
     that proclaims the birth of a child divine.

Woodsmen there who live in communities ever since, 
     join their children sing the songs of the trees,
fiddling crickets and hooting owls and playful primates,
     the wind tamed into the whisper of the breeze.

Here the sun is sieved into moving shadows and art,
     the rains nourish life from ground to the sky,
epiphytes of liana and orchid in grandiose bloom,
     shower the newly born, birds singing up high.

How benevolent the wild, how humble the creatures,
     how simple the scene created by nature;
here beauty is simple, unspoiled by civilization,
     it offers comfort and refuge and nurture. 
Unconventional the forest seems the bastion of faith 
    for those seeking life's meaning here and far,
for lack of a manger for the spirit of modern man,
    to find here a Child and protect the green altar. ~

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Major World Events of Year 2015

The International Year of Light and the International Year of Soils by the United Nations 
Researched  by Dr Abe V Rotor  

Highlights: Terrorism took a sudden upsurge launching several attacks killing hundreds, occupying territories as their bastion  and establishing linkages globally, which prompted many countries never before to unite and fight terrorism to preserve world peace and security, in the midst of the Syrian crisis which has displaced millions of people seeking refuge even in countries tightly guarded against their entry. 

Scientific breakthroughs revealed  a new human species, success in the control of AIDS, syphilis, and rubella (German measles), space exploration in revealing possible life in Mars and other planets, and clearer understanding on the nature of space.     

2015 is a year of unity: creation of Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) of 5 countries led by Russia, 41 G7 summit (Bavaria), Expo 2015 (Milan), global climate change pact (Paris), US-Cuba diplomacy restored after 54 years, China and Taiwan presidents in a historic handshake, Saudi Arabia-led coalition of Arab countries to fight terrorism, India and Pakistan ratify mutual border agreement.  

It is also a year for a country to legalize same sex marriage (Ireland); a year of scandal in the world's biggest sport football (FIFA), for a country's (Greece) failure to meet its obligation to IMF - a historic first to the  71-year International Monetary Fund; shooting and bombing incidents of unclear motivation costing the lives of hundreds of innocent people.       

It is also a year of new record in the art: a painting by Pablo Picasso and a sculpture by Alberto Giacometti sold at US$179.3 and US$141.3 million, respectively. 


  •  The Eurasian Economic Union comes into effect, creating a political and economic union between Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. 
  •  Lithuania officially adopts the euro as its currency, replacing the litas, and becomes the nineteenth Eurozone country  
  • A series of massacres in Baga, Nigeria and surrounding villages by Boko Haram kills more than 2,000 people
    After Houthi forces seize the presidential palace, Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi resigns after months of unrest.


  •  Leaders from Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France reach an agreement on the conflict in eastern Ukraine that includes a ceasefire and withdrawal of heavy weapons. The ceasefire was broken several times, both sides failed to withdraw.
  • The United Nations Security Council adopts Resolution 2199 to combat terrorism.
  • The Egyptian military begins conducting airstrikes against a branch of the Islamic militant group ISIL in Libya in retaliation for the group's beheading of over a dozen Egyptian Christians.


  • The ancient city sites of Nimrud, Hatra and Dur-Sharrukin in Iraq are demolished by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.(Photo: Ancient city of Nimrod)
  • NASA's Dawn probe enters orbit around Ceres, becoming the first spacecraft to visit a dwarf planet.
  • The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant become allies with fellow jihadist group Boko Haram, effectively annexing the group.
  • An Airbus A320-211 operated by Germanwings crashes in the French Alps, killing all 150 on board.
  • Saudi Arabia-led coalition of Arab countries starts a military intervention in Yemen in order to uphold the Yemeni government in its fight against the Houthis' southern offensive.


  • 148 people are killed, the majority students, in a mass shooting at the Garissa University College in Kenya, perpetrated by the militant terrorist organization Al-Shabaab.(Photo)
  • April 25 – A magnitude 7.8 earthquake strikes Nepal and causes 8,857 deaths in Nepal, 130 in India, 27 in China and 4 in Bangladesh with a total of 9,018 deaths.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) declares that rubella has been eradicated from the Americas.


  • May 1–October 31 – Expo 2015 is held in Milan, Italy.
  • Version O of Les Femmes d'Alger by Pablo Picasso sells for US$179.3 million at Christie's auction in New York, while the sculpture L'Homme au doigt by Alberto Giacometti sells for US$141.3 million, setting a new world record for a painting and for a sculpture, respectively.
  • A second major earthquake in Nepal, measuring 7.3 on the moment magnitude scale, results in 153 deaths in Nepal, 62 in India, 1 in China and 2 in Bangladesh with a total of 218 deaths.
  • Ireland votes to legalize same-sex marriage, becoming the first country to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote.


  • FIFA President Sepp Blatter announces his intention to resign amidst an FBI-led corruption investigation, and calls for an extraordinary congress to elect a new president as soon as possible.(photo)
  • The governments of India and Bangladesh officially ratify their 1974 agreement to exchange enclaves along their border.
  • The 41st G7 summit is held in Schloss Elmau, Bavaria.
  • ISIL claim responsibility for three attacks around the world during the Ramadan:
    • Kobanî massacre: ISIL fighters detonate three car bombs, enter Kobanî, Syria, and open fire at civilians, killing more than 220.
    • Sousse attacks: 22-year-old Seifeddine Rezgui opens fire at a tourist resort at Port El Kantaoui, Tunisia, killing 40 people.
    • Kuwait mosque bombing: A suicide bomber attacks the Shia Mosque Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq at Kuwait City, Kuwait, killing 27 people and injuring 227 others.

  • Cuba becomes the first country in the world to eradicate mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis.
  • A Lockheed C-130 Hercules operated by the Indonesian Air Force crashed into a crowded residential neighborhood in Medan shortly after take-off from Soewondo Air Force Base, killing 143 people including 22 others on the ground, marking the second-deadliest air disaster to ever occur in Medan and the deadliest crash in Indonesian Air Force peacetime history.


  • Greek government-debt crisis: Greece becomes the first advanced economy to miss a payment to the International Monetary Fund in the 71-year history of the IMF.
  • NASA's New Horizons spacecraft performs a close flyby of Pluto, becoming the first spacecraft in history to visit the distant world. (photo)
  • Iran agrees to long-term limits of its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief
  • Cuba and the United States reestablish full diplomatic relations, ending a 54-year stretch of hostility between the nations.
  • Turkey begins a series of airstrikes against PKK and ISIL targets after the 2015 Suruç bombing.


  • Debris found on Réunion Island is confirmed to be that of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, missing since March 2014.
  • A bombing takes place inside the Erawan Shrine at the Ratchaprasong intersection in Pathum Wan District, Bangkok, Thailand, killing 20 people and injuring 125


  • Scientists announce the discovery of Homo naledi, a previously unknown species of early human in South Africa.
  • Automaker Volkswagen is alleged to have been involved in worldwide rigging of diesel emissions tests, affecting an estimated 11 million vehicles globally.
  • A stampede during the Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, kills at least 2,200 people and injures more than 900 others, with more than 650 missing.
  • NASA announces that liquid water has been found on Mars.

Scientists have for the first time confirmed liquid water flowing on the surface of present-day Mars, a finding that will add to speculation that life, if it ever arose there, could persist now.
  • Russia begins air strikes against ISIL and anti-government forces in Syria in support of the Syrian government.


  • A suicide bomb kills at least 100 people at a peace rally in Ankara, Turkey, and injures more than 400 others.
  • Hurricane Patricia becomes the most intense hurricane ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere, with winds of 200 mph and a pressure of 879 mbar.
  • A magnitude 7.5 earthquake strikes the Hindu Kush region and causes 398 deaths, with 279 in Pakistan, 115 in Afghanistan and 4 in India.
  • Flight KGL9268, an Airbus A321 airliner en route to Saint Petersburg from Sharm el-Sheikh, crashes near Al-Hasana in Sinai, killing all 217 passengers and 7 crew members on board.


  • Chinese and Taiwanese presidents, Xi Jinping and Ma Ying-jeou, formally meet for the first time. 

Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou, left, shake hands at the start of a historic meeting

  • Several suicide bombings occur in Beirut, Lebanon, killing 43 and injuring 239. The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant claim responsibility.
  • Multiple attacks claimed by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Paris, France, resulting in 130 fatalities.
  • Syrian Civil War: Turkey shoots down a Russian fighter jet in the first case of a NATO member destroying a Russian aircraft since the 1950s.
  • The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 21) is held in Paris, attended by leaders from 147 nations.


  • December 12 - A global climate change pact is agreed at the COP 21 summit, committing all countries to reduce carbon emissions for the first time.
  • December 22 – SpaceX lands a Falcon 9 rocket, the first reusable rocket to successfully enter orbital space and return


About the Year of Light (UNESCO)

The International year aims at raising global awareness on how light-based technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to problems in energy, education, agriculture and health. First of all, light plays a vital role in our daily lives.  It has revolutionized medicine, opened up international communication via the Internet. Noteworthy anniversaries in 2015 included the first studies of optics 1,000 years ago to discoveries in optical communications that power the Internet today. The International Year brought  together many different stakeholders including scientific societies and unions, educational institutions, technology platforms, non-profit organizations and private sector partners.

International Year of Soils (Food and Agriculture Orgabization) 

The IYS 2015 aims to increase awareness and understanding about the importance of soil for food security and essential ecosystem functions; educate people on the crucial role soil plays in food security, climate change adaptation and mitigation, essential ecosystem services, poverty alleviation and sustainable development; support policies and actions for sustainable management and protection of soil resources; promote investment in sustainable soil management activities to develop and maintain healthy soils for different land users and population groups. 

Friday, December 25, 2015

"Sea on the Wall" Forever

Mural by Dr Abe V Rotor 

I love to paint the sea, the sea
when I was young,
as young today in my memory,
and after I'm gone.
"Sea on the Wall" Mural detail, AVRotor 2015 at author's residence in Lagro QC (30ft x 15ft)

Wheels of Faith

Mural and Poem by Dr Abe V Rotor

                         Wheels of Rainbow in acrylic, showing details (5ft x 8 ft) AVR, June 6, 2012

They come through prism splitting the light of heaven,
     In joyful, glorious colors of seven,
Each color the color of life in joy and sorrow,
     Today and the promise of tomorrow,

Wheels of fate to wheels of destiny in man’s hand,
     They all come down to the faithful in band,
Through time and space on the road of man’s lifetime,
     Whether this or another or over the clime.

Old as they may or new, while others are yet to be born,
     Their origin is the same – goodness sworn;
Passport to the way beyond this life each one must earn    
     Above the material, blind faith and yearn. 

They come down in gears spinning, large and small
     Moving constantly bouncing like a ball,
The essence of competition, the essence of oneness,
     How one plays in compassion and goodness.

Claim for heaven alone by the book and tongue is falsehood,
     Veering from the chain peace and unity should;
Poor orphan of humanity, the very core of faith,
     Forlorn, and man returns to his own fate.

But where is heaven, what is the afterlife, ask the people,
     As they look at the sky and the totem pole,
And losing faith they break away from the holy bond,
     Alas! walk down the road of a vagabond. 

They pray for heaven to come down, out from the blue,
     The long Promise to billions waiting to be true,
Where the discs as one on some fertile ground must grow
     Into one Eden arched by the rainbow. ~

Friday, December 18, 2015

I am a Lost Lamb

The Good Shepherd in Stained Glass: I AM A LOST LAMB 

The Good Shepherd Cathedral, Fairview QC
Photos and Verses by Dr Abe V Rotor

The Lost Lamb

You are everywhere but there's no place I can find You:
     on a high rise, in the crowded city,
     in the academe, market and mall,
     in the theater and concert hall;  

I cried out Your name, only to be baffled by the roar of cars,
     blaring music of the karaoke,
     boisterous parties, unruly rallies,
     deafening noise of giant machines;
I tried to touch You like the old woman in the Holy Book,
    in the church, in processions,
    on a  hanging crucifix, and rosary,
    religious images on my busy desk; 

I have no time, though the city is alive round the clock;
    alone I drive on the fast lane,
    live in a push subdivision
    away from kin and real home;  

I am a prisoner in a prison built in the name of progress,
    the miracle of science and technology,
    the wonder and pleasure of travel,
    with social media at my fingertips; 

I am lost in cyberspace, in things I seem to understand,
    I am the Lost Lamb 
    in the wilderness of globalization
    and postmodernism;

I long to see You, hear You, and touch You.

 ... through the Storm of Life

 Let me go back to my younger years to be with You,
     among your little friends and disciples,
     where innocence reigns in peace
     understanding and joy;
Let me sit beside You and listen to Your stories:
     the parables of  the Prodigal Son,
     the Sower, and the Lost Lamb, 
     the Sermon on the Mount; 

Let me join You in Your walk hand in hand,
     to leave my footprints beside yours,
     and if I see that I have none, I trust that
     You shall have carried me
         through the storm of life.~

A Boy and a Frog: A Case of Miseducation

 Dr Abe V Rotor

   Green pond frog, UPLB Laguna 

A boy was caught by surprise when a frog leaped and landed at his feet. He could have either trampled on the helpless creature or he himself jumped into the water.

As I was by chance a witness to the incident I asked the boy why he was so afraid.

"It’s a harmless little fellow," I said. "Maybe he just wanted to play with you."

"Do you remember the story, The Princess and Frog Prince?" I continued. "The frog was a disguised prince. The spell was broken by the kindness of a princess. And they lived happily ever after."

He was silent. On recovering from fright, he hesitantly asked. “Di ba ang palaka, nakakahawa ng sipon.” (Isn't the frog the cause of colds?)

I was dumbfounded. Then I remembered the advertisement about a liquid decongestant showing a frog tenaciously clinging like phlegm.

Poor boy - another case of miseducation of advertisement. Poor frog - now in the list of endangered species.

But long after I had written this anecdote I pondered  what has a fairy tale to do with correct education on one hand, and conservation of a threatened species on the other. I felt sorry for the innocent victim - and doubted myself a good mentor. ~

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Have you tasted Stone Soup?

Dr Abe V Rotor
Stone covered with green algae (lumot); microcopic structure of Lyngbya
crosbyanum, a common green freshwater alga. (Photos by AVR)
This is one for the Book of Guinness.

Along the pristine shallow shores of the sea, lakes and rivers, you will find stones coated with living algae. Along coral reefs the algae growing on these stones are mainly Enteromorpha, and a host of juvenile seaweeds, while those in freshwater the dominant algae are Chlorella and Nostoc, all commonly called lumot. These are edible species listed in books in phycology, the study of algae.

Now there are two ways old folks prepare the soup from these algae-rich stones. The stones are roasted or charcoal or under low fire to bring out the aroma, and then dropped simmering in a waiting bowl of water complete with tomato, onion and a dash of salt.

The other method follows the traditional way of cooking of broth, with the addition of vegetables - and even fish or meat. The recipe is rich in calcium because of the calcareous nature of the stones, especially those gathered in coral reefs.

Try stone soup; it's good for the bones. And it's a good piece of friendly conversation. One summer I started a lecture at one o'clock in the afternoon with "Have you tried stone soup?"