Monday, September 26, 2016

Rediscovering Lost Culture and Art - Pride of a People and Nation

 Rediscovering Lost Culture and Art - Pride of a People and Nation
My dad taught me from my youngest childhood memories through these connections with Aboriginal and tribal people that you must always protect people's sacred status, regardless of the past. (Steve Irwin)

Dr Abe V Rotor 
 Revival of Pottery: art and livelihood, environment friendly. Sudipen, La Union

Homogenization, like a giant pool, mirrors a phenomenon which is a consequence of progress - globalization.

Globalization is irreversible. But is it really progression. If it is trend of progress where will it lead us to? To what extent, and for how long? The believers of this thesis are disciples of science and technology, and therefore are not afraid to open new horizons. They seldom look behind.

The traditionalists look at things differently. They have deeper roots in history and culture, they find time to ponder and analyze, and ask oth
ers and themselves, “Quo vadis?” But don’t get me wrong as anti progressive, anti technology.

Globalization is like a cauldron in which diversities of culture are thrown into. They dissolve in our very eyes. Either they disappear or lose their identity.

Clearly there is homogenization of races, creeds, ideologies - technology. For example there is only one kind of car in the world – they all work of the principle of Internal Combustion. Formal education has generally of one pattern worldwide, from preparatory to post graduate; so with the various courses offered.


Ethnicity encompasses many aspects of life and culture; other the humanities are the natural sciences, ethnobotany among them (the study of the relationship of people and plants in a natural setting.). 



Ethnic wooden art in the Cordillera

From here evolved the knowledge of man in pharmacology, and while such knowledge has vastly grown into a major industry dominated by multinational companies, a great deal of herbal healing still abound in rural communities.

Folk wisdom akin to traditional knowledge is carried onto the present by elder members of the community has lost much significance in general perception, but a great number of them are enshrined by our culture and writings. They are natural leaders whose words are listened to with respect. Why village elders have also the role of an herbolario, matchmakers in marriages, teachers in their own right based on rich experiences and long practice!

Confucian teachings permeate in the family. Christian values are reinforced by age-long heritage, and vice versa. So with the teachings of Buddha and Mohammad, and other great religious leaders. Mythology, too, has deep rooted influence in our lives. It lives in our superstitious belief, folklore and customs. But many of these are being threatened, if not endangered, in our march toward progress and affluence, along with the current of postmodernism which is sweeping the world today.

On the other hand, there is growing consciousness for moderation in living. More and more people are looking for alternatives of the so-called Good Life.


One alternative is the revival of tradition, a rediscovery of lost culture and art can be enshrined in our present life.

1. Revival of ethno medicinal healing has suddenly found relevance where the dangers of modern medicine are perceived. Lagundi, Oregano, Sambong are now DOH-approved How about the bulk of herbal medicine?

2. It’s the cold wind from the north that came too soon that caused poor rice harvest. Old folks would tell us. And scientists confirm that pollination-fertilization is indeed adversely affected by cold weather.

Home child delivery assisted by a village "kumadrona" .

3. Pet therapy is gaining popularity even in modern hospitals. Victims of stroke who lost coordination of their hands surprisingly recover with a pet around.

4. Honeybee sting sends arthritic people back on the road.

5. Return to cotton, ramie, abaca, flax, and other natural fibers for clothing and other wears is indicative of people's awareness on the comfort and health benefits of these natural fibers, not to mention their being environment friendly.

5. Ethnic art  is gaining popularity in galleries and studios. Native arts are found on murals and in halls. The revival of ethnic art is very visible among the aborigines of Australia, the American Indians, the Incas and Aztecs.So with other indigenous cultures.




Headgear is ethnic art and status symbol among the Igorots.

-------------------
We need to help students and parents cherish and preserve the ethnic and cultural diversity that nourishes and strengthens this community - and this nation. - Cesar Chavez
-----------------

Bouquet - Story of Life

Dr Abe V Rotor
Bouquet in acrylic by the author, circa 1998

Flowers bloom best in spring
grains in summer, leaves in fall;
and in the wintry sunset of life,
violet and roses crowd the pall. 

Monet’s water lilies at twilight,
 And Van Gogh's sunflower,
speak of the golden years of life,
faithful to the final hour.       

Fresh and lovely, humble at noon,
gleaming still in the setting sun,  
bouquet to wreath is a story -
the beautiful life of man. ~ 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Saint Mother Teresa's Nobel Lecture on Peace

"We have been created to love and be loved."

"Lord, make a channel of Thy peace that, where there is hatred, I may bring love; that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness; that, where there is discord, I may bring harmony; that, where there is error, I may bring truth; that, where there is doubt, I may bring faith; that, where there is despair, I may bring hope; that, where there are shadows, I may bring light; that, where there is sadness, I may bring joy.

Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted, to understand than to be understood; to love than to be loved; for it is by forgetting self that one finds; it is forgiving that one is forgiven; it is by dying that one awakens to eternal life." 

                                                                                 Selected parts of Mother Teresa's lecture on peace
Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog [avrotor.blogspot.com]
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School on Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM Band, 8-9 Evening Class, Monday to Friday

 Nobel Lecture by Mother Teresa
Oslo, Norway - December 11th 1979
"We have been created in Christ image. We have been created to love and be loved, and then he has become man to make it possible for us to love as he loved us. He makes himself the hungry one- the naked one - the homeless one- the sick one- the one in prison- the lonely one - the unwanted one- and he says: You did it to me. Hungry for our love, and this is the hunger of our poor people. This is the hunger that you and I must find, it may be in our own home.

I never forget an opportunity I had in visiting a home where they had all these old parents of sons and daughters who had just put them in an institution and forgotten maybe. And I went there, and I saw in that home they had everything, beautiful things, but everybody was looking towards the door. And I did not see a single one with their smile on their face. And I turned to the Sister and I asked: How is that? How is it that the people they have everything here, why are they all looking towards the door, why are they not smiling? I am so used to see the smile on our people, even the dying one smile, and she said: This is nearly every day, they are expecting, they are hoping that a son or daughter will come to visit them. They are hurt because they are forgotten, and see- this is where love comes. That poverty comes right there in our own home, even neglect of love. Maybe in our own family we have somebody who is feeling lonely, who is feeling sick, who is feeling worried, and these are difficult days for everybody. Are we there, are we there to receive them, is the mother there to receive the child?

I was surprised in the West to see so many young boys and girls given into drugs, and I tried to find out why- why it is like that, and the answer was: Because there is no one in the family to receive them. Father and mother are so busy they have no time. Young parents are in some institution and the child takes back to the street and gets involved in something. 


We are talking of peace. These are things that break peace, but I feel the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a direct war, a direct killing- direct murder by the mother herself. And we read in the Scripture, for God says very clearly: Even if a mother could forget her child- I will not forget you - I have carved you in the palm of my hand. We are carved in the palm of His hand, so close to Him that unborn child has been carved in the hand of God. And that is what strikes me most, the beginning of that sentence, that even if a mother could forget something impossible - but even if she could forget - I will not forget you. 

And today the greatest means - the greatest destroyer of peace is abortion. And we who are standing here - our parents wanted us. We would not be here if our parents would do that to us. Our children, we want them, we love them, but what of the millions. Many people are very, very concerned with the children in India, with the children in Africa where quite a number die, maybe of malnutrition, of hunger and so on, but millions are dying deliberately by the will of the mother. And this is what is the greatest destroyer of peace today. Because if a mother can kill her own child- what is left for me to kill you and you kill me- there is nothing between. 

And this I appeal in India, I appeal everywhere: Let us bring the child back, and this year being the child's year: What have we done for the child? At the beginning of the year I told, I spoke everywhere and I said: Let us make this year that we make every single child born, and unborn, wanted. And today is the end of the year, have we really made the children wanted? I will give you something terrifying. We are fighting abortion by adoption, we have saved thousands of lives, we have sent words to all the clinics, to the hospitals, police stations - please don't destroy the child, we will take the child. So every hour of the day and night it is always somebody, we have quite a number of unwedded mothers- tell them come, we will take care of you, we will take the child from you, and we will get a home for the child. And we have a tremendous demand from families who have no children, that is the blessing of God for us. And also, we are doing another thing which is very beautiful- we are teaching our beggars, our leprosy patients, our slum dwellers, our people of the street, natural family planning.

And in Calcutta alone in six years- it is all in Calcutta- we have had 61,273 babies less from the families who would have had, but because they practise this natural way of abstaining, of self-control, out of love for each other. We teach them the temperature meter which is very beautiful, very simple, and our poor people understand. And you know what they have told me? Our family is healthy, our family is united, and we can have a baby whenever we want. So clear- those people in the street, those beggars- and I think that if our people can do like that how much more you and all the others who can know the ways and means without destroying the life that God has created in us.

The poor people are very great people. They can teach us so many beautiful things. The other day one of them came to thank and said: You people who have vowed chastity you are the best people to teach us family planning. Because it is nothing more than self-control out of love for each other. And I think they said a beautiful sentence. And these are people who maybe have nothing to eat, maybe they have not a home where to live, but they are great people. The poor are very wonderful people. One evening we went out and we picked up four people from the street. And one of them was in a most terrible condition- and I told the Sisters: You take care of the other three, I take of this one that looked worse. So I did for her all that my love can do. I put her in bed, and there was such a beautiful smile on her face. She took hold of my hand, as she said one word only: Thank you - and she died.

I could not help but examine my conscience before her, and I asked what would I say if I was in her place. And my answer was very simple. I would have tried to draw a little attention to myself, I would have said I am hungry, that I am dying, I am cold, I am in pain, or something, but she gave me much more - she gave me her grateful love. And she died with a smile on her face. As that man whom we picked up from the drain, half eaten with worms, and we brought him to the home. I have lived like an animal in the street, but I am going to die like an angel, loved and cared for. And it was so wonderful to see the greatness of that man who could speak like that, who could die like that without blaming anybody, without cursing anybody, without comparing anything. Like an angel- this is the greatness of our people. And that is why we believe what Jesus had said: I was hungry- I was naked - I was homeless - I was unwanted, unloved, uncared for - and you did it to me.

I believe that we are not real social workers. We may be doing social work in the eyes of the people, but we are really contemplatives in the heart of the world. For we are touching the Body Of Christ 24 hours. We have 24 hours in this presence, and so you and I. You too try to bring that presence of God in your family, for the family that prays together stays together. And I think that we in our family don't need bombs and guns, to destroy to bring peace - just get together, love one another, bring that peace, that joy, that strength of presence of each other in the home. And we will be able to overcome all the evil that is in the world.

There is so much suffering, so much hatred, so much misery, and we with our prayer, with our sacrifice are beginning at home.


Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do, but how much love we put in the action that we do. 

It is to God Almighty- how much we do it does not matter, because He is infinite, but how much love we put in that action. How much we do to Him in the person that we are serving.

Some time ago in Calcutta we had great difficulty in getting sugar, and I don't know how the word got around to the children, and a little boy of four years old, Hindu boy, went home and told his parents: I will not eat sugar for three days, I will give my sugar to Mother Teresa for her children. After three days his father and mother brought him to our home. I had never met them before, and this little one could scarcely pronounce my name, but he knew exactly what he had come to do. He knew that he wanted to share his love. xxx

And so here I am talking with you-


I want you to find the poor here, right in your own home first. And begin love there. Be that good news to your own people. And find out about your next-door-neighbor - do you know who they are?

I had the most extraordinary experience with a Hindu family who had eight children. A gentleman came to our house and said: Mother Teresa, there is a family with eight children, they had not eaten for so long - do something. So I took some rice and I went there immediately. And I saw the children - their eyes shining with hunger - I don't know if you have ever seen hunger. But I have seen it very often. And she took the rice, she divided the rice, and she went out. When she came back I asked her - where did you go, what did you do? And she gave me a very simple answer: They are hungry also. What struck me most was that she knew - and who are they, a Muslim family - and she knew. I didn't bring more rice that evening because I wanted them to enjoy the joy of sharing. But there were those children, radiating joy, sharing the joy with their mother because she had the love to give. And you see this is where love begins - at home. And I want you- and I am very grateful for what I have received. It has been a tremendous experience and I go back to India- I will be back by next week, the 15th I hope - and I will be able to bring your love.

And I know well that you have not given from your abundance, but you have given until it has hurt you. Today the little children they have- I was so surprised - there is so much joy for the children that are hungry. That the children like themselves will need love and care and tenderness, like they get so much from their parents. So let us thank God that we have had this opportunity to come to know each other, and this knowledge of each other has brought us very close. And we will be able to help not only the children of India and Africa, but will be able to help the children of the whole world, because as you know our Sisters are all over the world. And with this prize that I have received as a prize of peace, I am going to try to make the home for many people that have no home. Because I believe that love begins at home, and if we can create a home for the poor- I think that more and more love will spread. And we will be able through this understanding love to bring peace, be good news to the poor. The poor in our own family first, in our country and in the world. 

Around the world, not only in the poor countries, but I found the poverty of the West so much more difficult to remove. When I pick up a person from the street, hungry, I give him a plate of rice, a piece of bread, I have satisfied. I have removed that hunger. But a person that is shut out, that feels unwanted, unloved, terrified, the person that has been thrown out from society - that poverty is so hurtable and so much, and I find that very difficult. 

Our Sisters are working amongst that kind of people in the West. So you must pray for us that we may be able to be that good news, but we cannot do that without you, you have to do that here in your country. You must come to know the poor, maybe our people here have material things, everything, but I think that if we all look into our own homes, how difficult we find it sometimes to smile at each other, and that the smile is the beginning of love.

And so let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love, and once we begin to love each other naturally we want to do something. So you pray for our Sisters and for me and for our Brothers, and for our Co-Workers that are around the world. That we may remain faithful to the gift of God, to love Him and serve Him in the poor together with you. What we have done we should not have been able to do if you did not share with your prayers, with your gifts, this continual giving. But I don't want you to give me from your abundance, I want that you give me until it hurts.

The other day I received 15 dollars from a man who has been on his back for twenty years, and the only part that he can move is his right hand. And the only companion that he enjoys is smoking. And he said to me: I do not smoke for one week, and I send you this money. It must have been a terrible sacrifice for him, but see how beautiful, how he shared, and with that money I bought bread and I gave to those who are hungry with a joy on both sides, he was giving and the poor were receiving. This is something that you and I - it is a gift of God to us to be able to share our love with others.

 And let it be as it was for Jesus. Let us love one another as he loved us. Let us love Him with undivided love. And the joy of loving Him and each other- let us give now - that Christmas is coming so close. Let us keep that joy of loving Jesus in our hearts. And share that joy with all that we come in touch with. And that radiating joy is real, for we have no reason not to be happy because we have no Christ with us. Christ in our hearts, Christ in the poor that we meet, Christ in the smile that we give and the smile that we receive. Let us make that one point: That no child will be unwanted, and also that we meet each other always with a smile, especially when it is difficult to smile.

I never forget some time ago about fourteen professors came from the United States from different universities. And they came to Calcutta to our house. Then we were talking about that they had been to the home for the dying. We have a home for the dying in Calcutta, where we have picked up more than 36,000 people only from the streets of Calcutta, and out of that big number more than 18,000 have died a beautiful death. They have just gone home to God; and they came to our house and we talked of love, of compassion, and then one of them asked me: Say, Mother, please tell us something that we will remember, and I said to them: Smile at each other, make time for each other in your family. Smile at each other. 


And then another one asked me: Are you married, and I said: Yes, and I find it sometimes very difficult to smile at Jesus because he can be very demanding sometimes. This is really something true, and there is where love comes - when it is demanding, and yet we can give it to Him with joy. Just as I have said today,

 Canonization of  Mother Teresa at the  Vatican September 6 2016   

I have said that if I don't go to Heaven for anything else I will be going to Heaven for all the 
publicity because it has purified me and sacrificed me and made me really ready to go to Heaven. I think that this is something, that we must live life beautifully, we have Jesus with us and He loves us. If we could only remember that God loves me, and I have an opportunity to love others as he loves me, not in big things, but in small things with great love, then Norway becomes a nest of love. xxx

Reviving Old Folk Technologies. Here are 10 traditional practices.

Dr Abe V Rotor

 1. To control coconut beetles broadcast ordinary sand into the leaf axils.


This insect, Oryctes rhinoceros, is a scourge of coconut, the larva and adult burrow into the bud and destroy the whole top or crown of the tree. There is scientific explanation to this practice of throwing sand into the axis of the leaves.  Sand which is silica, the raw material in making glass, penetrates into the conjunctiva - the soft skin adjoining the hard body plates, in effect injuring the insect.  As the insect moves, the silica penetrates deeper into the delicate tissues of the insect. As a result the insect dies from dehydration and infection. Thus we observe that this beetle seldom attacks coconut trees growing along the seashore. 

2. Wounding a tree induces it to fruit.
There are trees that tend to grow luxuriantly, bearing few or no fruits at all.  Imagine a disappointed a farmer reaching for his bolo, but instead of cutting down the whole tree, he inflicts wounds on its trunks and branches, resulting in multiple staggered wounds. As the wounds start to heal the tree starts to bloom.

What could be the explanation to this?  Nature has provided a coping up mechanism for organisms subjected to stress so that they can successfully pass on their genes to the next generation – reproduction. We may be surprised to see plants under dry condition profusely blooming.  Some bamboo species flower during the El Niño.  Starved caterpillar transforms into pupa, skipping one or two moultings, and soon metamorphoses into butterfly, diminutive it may become. Early sexual maturity is also observed in many animals that are under stress compared to their normal counterparts.      

To the mango tree, the effect is the same, a phenomenon that is not clearly understood. Physiologically the stored food in the wounded plant will shift to be used for reproduction, rather than continued vegetative growth, which explains sudden blooming. This is the same principle in pruning grapevines to induce fruiting. 
mango tree

3. Smudging induces flowering of fruit trees and protects fruits from pests. 
This is a common practice on many common fruit trees, especially mango. Old folks gather dried leaves, grass, rice hull, corn stalk and the like, and burn them slowly under the trees.  The smoke is directed to the branches and leaves early every morning until flowers come out, and is later resumed to protect the fruits from insects and fungi. Smudging is preferred over potassium nitrate spraying used to force mangoes to flower out of season.  Repeated chemical spraying reduces the life span of the tree, which is not the case in smudging.

4. Pruning induces growth and development of plants. 
Farmers prune the leaves of rice seedlings before they are transplanted to quicken recovery.  Cuttings such as cassava, sweet potato, sugar cane, and even ornamental like croton (San Francisco), are planted by first removing all the leaves attached to the stem.  This reduces transpiration or loss of water through the stomata (breathing organ) located on the leaves, that would otherwise lead to the drying of the planting material. For sugarcane tops, with the older leaves trimmed the bud can come out more easily and start to photosynthesize.

5. To increase corn yield “decapitate” the standing crop. (detasseling)
Detasseling or removal of the male flower of the standing corn plant reduces the chances of corn borers (Pyrausta nobilales and Heliothes armigera) infestation by almost one-half. Detasseling is done when one-half to three-fourths of the tassel has emerged.  Pulling out the tassel or cutting it at the base of the peduncle does it.  This technique has been found effective when performed to 75 percent of the plants or in three to every four corn rows.  Detasseling at this level does not significantly affect pollination and subsequent yield.
Farmers know plant physiology, a major subject in botany and agriculture.

6. “Blind” the eyes of the Cavendish banana sucker before transplanting it, otherwise it will die.


Now this is a paradox, for how can a blinded creature have a better chance to survive?  But this traditional practice is not to be taken literally.  Actually the eyes being referred to are the developing suckers on the base (corm) of the sucker to be transplanted.  The scientific explanation is that, these very young suckers compete with the transplanted sucker drawing out the nutrients it needs.  Thus “blinding” is actually aborting the small suckers, which appear like eyes on closer look. (Note: This practice is done only to Cavendish or tumok variety and not to other banana varieties.) 

7.  Pinag-aasawa ang bulaklak ng kalabasa. (Pollination)
Squash (Cucurbita maxima), being monoecious has both male and female flowers in the same plant.  Old folks believe that in order for the female flower (the one with a bulbous bottom) to develop into a fruit, it must be pollinated (lagyan ng semilya) with the male flower. It is usually in the early morning that the patient farmer pick a stamen loaded with pollen from the same or nearby plant and insert it into a receptive female flower, ceremoniously folding the petals inward after. While pollination is mainly the work of insects and wind,  man’s intervention often yields better results. 

8. It is a common practice of farmers to cover fruits with ash, sand or sawdust to delay their ripening and minimize losses.   
In the countryside where there are no modern facilities for storage farmers have devised methods of storage to increase the shelf life of fruits, and allow them to ripen properly. One method is to cover the fruits, such as tomatoes, mango and bananas with ash or sawdust.

To validate the effectiveness of this practice, scientists at UPLB tried storing tomatoes (Pope variety), for the duration of one to two weeks, in rice hull ash in two preparations – moist and dry.  Tomatoes stored in dry ash ripened faster, while tomatoes stored in moist ash ripened slower and showed a more uniform and deeper red color.  The tomatoes were also heavier and firmer than those stored in dry ash.  Tomatoes that were simply stored in pile suffered significant losses and ripening was uneven. The colors of the fruits were pale red and predominantly yellow.

It was an old practice I observed among vegetable traders who ship green Pope tomatoes grown in Claveria (Cagayan de Oro) all the way to La Trinidad Valley in Benguet by boat and truck. The tomatoes were laid open in the cool air, until they ripened into bright red color.  They were then individually wiped with waxed cloth, assorted and returned to their crates and branded Baguio tomatoes. Tomatoes that ripened on the way, which normally took about a week, turned into yellow to orange color and were priced much less than those ripened under a temperate climate in the highland.

There is now a substitute to this practice.  Tomatoes can be delayed in ripening and ripen uniformly into red color when stored in moist rice hull ash.  We can only imagine the high cost and difficulty of shipping the fruits all the way from Mindanao via Manila pier to the Benguet, then transporting the commodity back to Manila where they are sold.     

9. Apply lime or alum on the butt end of cabbage to stay fresh and longer in the shelf.

To validate this practice, an experiment was conducted at UPLB using common lime (CaO) or apug. The powder was applied on the butt end of cabbage after trimming it together with the two or three wrapper leaves. This simple practice prevented soft rot caused by the bacterium Erwina carotovora by 70 percent.  The use of alum (tawas) on the other hand reduced rotting by 53 percent. It has one disadvantage though – the aluminum salt cause black spots.  Lime-treated cabbage had better appearance after four days in storage than those treated with alum, borax or sodium hypochlorite (Ordinary household bleach) and salt (sodium chloride).     
                                              
10. Water remains cool in earthen pot (calamba or caramba) even in hot weather.
Notice that the earthen pot “perspires” because it is porous.  Like sweat it keeps the body cool. Cooling is the after effect of evaporation. Fanning increases the rate of evaporation, so with cooling. ~

Acknowledgement: Wikipedia, Internet Images

Reviving Old Folk Technologies. Here are 10 traditional practices.

“Get around people who have something of value to share with you. Their impact will continue to have a significant effect on your life long they have departed.”
- Robert Ruark, Something of Value

Dr Abe V Rotor

 1. To control coconut beetles broadcast ordinary sand into the leaf axils.


This insect, Oryctes rhinoceros, is a scourge of coconut, the larva and adult burrow into the bud and destroy the whole top or crown of the tree. There is scientific explanation to this practice of throwing sand into the axis of the leaves.  Sand which is silica, the raw material in making glass, penetrates into the conjunctiva - the soft skin adjoining the hard body plates, in effect injuring the insect.  As the insect moves, the silica penetrates deeper into the delicate tissues of the insect. As a result the insect dies from dehydration and infection. Thus we observe that this beetle seldom attacks coconut trees growing along the seashore. 

2. Wounding a tree induces it to fruit.
There are trees that tend to grow luxuriantly, bearing few or no fruits at all.  Imagine a disappointed a farmer reaching for his bolo, but instead of cutting down the whole tree, he inflicts wounds on its trunks and branches, resulting in multiple staggered wounds. As the wounds start to heal the tree starts to bloom.

What could be the explanation to this?  Nature has provided a coping up mechanism for organisms subjected to stress so that they can successfully pass on their genes to the next generation – reproduction. We may be surprised to see plants under dry condition profusely blooming.  Some bamboo species flower during the El Niño.  Starved caterpillar transforms into pupa, skipping one or two moultings, and soon metamorphoses into butterfly, diminutive it may become. Early sexual maturity is also observed in many animals that are under stress compared to their normal counterparts.      

To the mango tree, the effect is the same, a phenomenon that is not clearly understood. Physiologically the stored food in the wounded plant will shift to be used for reproduction, rather than continued vegetative growth, which explains sudden blooming. This is the same principle in pruning grapevines to induce fruiting. 
mango tree

3. Smudging induces flowering of fruit trees and protects fruits from pests. 
This is a common practice on many common fruit trees, especially mango. Old folks gather dried leaves, grass, rice hull, corn stalk and the like, and burn them slowly under the trees.  The smoke is directed to the branches and leaves early every morning until flowers come out, and is later resumed to protect the fruits from insects and fungi. Smudging is preferred over potassium nitrate spraying used to force mangoes to flower out of season.  Repeated chemical spraying reduces the life span of the tree, which is not the case in smudging.

4. Pruning induces growth and development of plants. 
Farmers prune the leaves of rice seedlings before they are transplanted to quicken recovery.  Cuttings such as cassava, sweet potato, sugar cane, and even ornamental like croton (San Francisco), are planted by first removing all the leaves attached to the stem.  This reduces transpiration or loss of water through the stomata (breathing organ) located on the leaves, that would otherwise lead to the drying of the planting material. For sugarcane tops, with the older leaves trimmed the bud can come out more easily and start to photosynthesize.

5. To increase corn yield “decapitate” the standing crop. (detasseling)
Detasseling or removal of the male flower of the standing corn plant reduces the chances of corn borers (Pyrausta nobilales and Heliothes armigera) infestation by almost one-half. Detasseling is done when one-half to three-fourths of the tassel has emerged.  Pulling out the tassel or cutting it at the base of the peduncle does it.  This technique has been found effective when performed to 75 percent of the plants or in three to every four corn rows.  Detasseling at this level does not significantly affect pollination and subsequent yield.
Farmers know plant physiology, a major subject in botany and agriculture.

6. “Blind” the eyes of the Cavendish banana sucker before transplanting it, otherwise it will die.


Now this is a paradox, for how can a blinded creature have a better chance to survive?  But this traditional practice is not to be taken literally.  Actually the eyes being referred to are the developing suckers on the base (corm) of the sucker to be transplanted.  The scientific explanation is that, these very young suckers compete with the transplanted sucker drawing out the nutrients it needs.  Thus “blinding” is actually aborting the small suckers, which appear like eyes on closer look. (Note: This practice is done only to Cavendish or tumok variety and not to other banana varieties.) 

7.  Pinag-aasawa ang bulaklak ng kalabasa. (Pollination)
Squash (Cucurbita maxima), being monoecious has both male and female flowers in the same plant.  Old folks believe that in order for the female flower (the one with a bulbous bottom) to develop into a fruit, it must be pollinated (lagyan ng semilya) with the male flower. It is usually in the early morning that the patient farmer pick a stamen loaded with pollen from the same or nearby plant and insert it into a receptive female flower, ceremoniously folding the petals inward after. While pollination is mainly the work of insects and wind,  man’s intervention often yields better results. 

8. It is a common practice of farmers to cover fruits with ash, sand or sawdust to delay their ripening and minimize losses.   
In the countryside where there are no modern facilities for storage farmers have devised methods of storage to increase the shelf life of fruits, and allow them to ripen properly. One method is to cover the fruits, such as tomatoes, mango and bananas with ash or sawdust.

To validate the effectiveness of this practice, scientists at UPLB tried storing tomatoes (Pope variety), for the duration of one to two weeks, in rice hull ash in two preparations – moist and dry.  Tomatoes stored in dry ash ripened faster, while tomatoes stored in moist ash ripened slower and showed a more uniform and deeper red color.  The tomatoes were also heavier and firmer than those stored in dry ash.  Tomatoes that were simply stored in pile suffered significant losses and ripening was uneven. The colors of the fruits were pale red and predominantly yellow.

It was an old practice I observed among vegetable traders who ship green Pope tomatoes grown in Claveria (Cagayan de Oro) all the way to La Trinidad Valley in Benguet by boat and truck. The tomatoes were laid open in the cool air, until they ripened into bright red color.  They were then individually wiped with waxed cloth, assorted and returned to their crates and branded Baguio tomatoes. Tomatoes that ripened on the way, which normally took about a week, turned into yellow to orange color and were priced much less than those ripened under a temperate climate in the highland.

There is now a substitute to this practice.  Tomatoes can be delayed in ripening and ripen uniformly into red color when stored in moist rice hull ash.  We can only imagine the high cost and difficulty of shipping the fruits all the way from Mindanao via Manila pier to the Benguet, then transporting the commodity back to Manila where they are sold.     

9. Apply lime or alum on the butt end of cabbage to stay fresh and longer in the shelf.

To validate this practice, an experiment was conducted at UPLB using common lime (CaO) or apug. The powder was applied on the butt end of cabbage after trimming it together with the two or three wrapper leaves. This simple practice prevented soft rot caused by the bacterium Erwina carotovora by 70 percent.  The use of alum (tawas) on the other hand reduced rotting by 53 percent. It has one disadvantage though – the aluminum salt cause black spots.  Lime-treated cabbage had better appearance after four days in storage than those treated with alum, borax or sodium hypochlorite (Ordinary household bleach) and salt (sodium chloride).     
                                              
10. Water remains cool in earthen pot (calamba or caramba) even in hot weather.
Notice that the earthen pot “perspires” because it is porous.  Like sweat it keeps the body cool. Cooling is the after effect of evaporation. Fanning increases the rate of evaporation, so with cooling. ~

Acknowledgement: Wikipedia, Internet Images

Monday, September 19, 2016

Get rid of Mosquitoes with Poeciliids

In memory of Professor Grace Cruz PhD of Bulacan State University.  Dr Cruz worked on Poecillia to control mosquitoes for her doctoral degree in biology at the UST Graduate School.  
Raising poeciliids in your backyard can help eradicate dengue- and malaria- carrying mosquitoes. And now, Zika Virus
Dr Abe V Rotor
 Kataba or bubuntis 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The Poeciliidae are a family of freshwater fish of the order Cyprinodontiformes, the tooth-carps, and include well-known live-bearing aquarium fish, such as the guppy, molly, platy, and swordtail. The original distribution of the family was the southeastern United States to north of Rio de la Plata, Argentina. However, due to release of aquarium specimens and the widespread use of species of the genera Poecilia and Gambusia for mosquito control, poeciliids can today be found in all tropical and subtropical areas of the world. Wikipedia
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------You can build a mini-pond in your backyard. Then you can fill the mini-pond with tilapia, catfish (hito), even carp and pangasius. The fishes are good predators of mosquito wrigglers. But there is another highly recommended fish, the kataba or poeciliid, a large family of small fishes known for being predatory as well as omnivorous.

Residents along esteros can live without window and door screens and mosquito nets due to the presence of this biological friend and nemesis of the kiti-kiti or mosquito wrigglers.

The importance of insectivorous fish cannot be underestimated. In China the government mandated the raising of mosquito-eating fishes during the dengue outbreak in 1981. The Chinese raised fishes like the poeciliids , tilapia and catfish in canals, ponds, fields, and even household water containers. Indeed, the community project prospered and in no time the epidemic was contained.

Characteristics of the Kataba

This kataba fish is around three centimeters, from shout to tail tip. It is laterally compressed but stocky and fat-belied, hence its name bubuntis or kataba which means fat. Although brown or black in color, it exudes a dainty prism on its belly and sides- earning for it the name “rainbow fish”.


They are found almost everywhere as long as there is water- in fields, irrigation and drainage canals. For this reason, they are also called canal fish. If you see bubbling ripples in Manila’s esteros, you know the katabas are around - the fish can adapt to a wide range of environments, from canals to estuaries.

Imagine schools of poeciliids inhabiting the esteros, the tributaries of the Pasig River. They live around the bends, in coves, rock pools and in mudflats. When it rains, they go up stream. Poeciliids are found in Laguna Bay down Pasig River, reaching as far as the estuarine area.

Biological Control

If there is a single program that warrants full attention, it is the control of malaria and dengue, the most dreaded pandemic diseases which have killed countless people all over the world.


Deep concern has been demonstrated by governments. For example, in South Korea, a local fish Aphyocypris chinensis was found very effective in controlling mosquito vectors. Papua New Guinea and French Polynesia used Gambusia affinis and Aphanaus affinis in mosquito control. It was in Florida, Mississippi, Central America and Mexico where where Gambusia became popular, and soon this fish found its way to many countries.

But it is the poeciliids which has adapted in this country, along with other insect-eating fish species which include liwalo, spotted gourami, tilapia, mudfish (dalag) and hito.

Poeciliids are also prey to many bigger fishes. Surprisingly, because of their number and rapid rate of reproduction, poeciliids have managed to maintain stable populations even in open waters. Besides, the poeciliid prefers shallow areas and the edges of water where it is relatively safer.

Poeciliids swallow their food whole like a boa, except that their mouths are wide open. We call this luxury feeding.

Poeciliids peak during the rainy season in June, then declines in the cool months and toward summer. In January, only one out of two poeciliids are positive of insect prey, which means that they rely on plankton, like algae which are abundant in rivers and lakes at this time of the year. These facts were observed by the late Dr. Grace M. Cruz of the University of Santo Tomas in her 1998 dissertation.~

Phosphorescent caterpillars


Caterpillars eating the leaves of ilang-ilang (Cananga odorata),at home near La Mesa watershed. 

Dr Abe V Rotor

They came - an army of hungry glowing worms,
on a sunset on a tall ilang-ilang tree;
there they hang like lanterns or neon far away,
and in crepuscular light there I could see 
a familiar tree traced by its essence in the air,
and now by the phosphorescence from this tree -
Christmas ahead and beyond yet here at hand,
by the glow of these worms reminds of Thee;
through nature's ways to guard the frail and lowly
through the secret of ephemeral beauty. ~
   

Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Eyes of Nature


"Many eyes are looking at me
here with Nature,
by day and night 
beneath and atop a tree." - avr


Painting and Poem by Dr Abe V Rotor

Also visit my other Blogs:
[avrotor.blogspot.com]
[Living with Nature School on Blog]
 Eyes in the Forest, acrylic painting on canvas (60" x 44"), by AVR, May 2012
Details: Young adventurers in full gear prepare to penetrate the forest; emergent tree rises to a hundred feet surpassing the canopy layer. A nest is perched on the top, with a mother hawk attending to her young.

A pair of deer, a coiled boa, and many more hidden and camouflaged. Trees are real giants of the living world. This Dipterocarp is tallest tree in the Tropical Rain Forest. 

The Eyes of Nature

Many eyes are looking at me here with Nature;
By day and night, beneath and atop a tree.
They're scary, they're mean, they're sleepy, 
And how do I look to them seeing me?

Wink and they wink, close and they do, too.
Quick the flashlight, and they disappear;
Can eyes exist alone, like stars in the sky?
I wonder if these eyes are like stars to cheer.  

Yes, the fireflies have lamps that flicker,
The moth and butterfly have wing spots
Like monstrous eyes to stave off predator,
And cave dwellers glow in rows and knots. 

The fish in the stream is silver in the moonlight,
As bubbles rise to the surface and sparkle,
The owl rarely blinks, no creature dare around,
Its infrared vision indeed a marvel.

Raindrops falling make a thousand eyes
Life they bring to the rainbow, borrowing
its colors glow, and sparkle as they drop,
reborn with the light of the river flowing. 

Mushrooms are phosphorescent, they glow,
while others absorb light for future use; 
Ah, boast the snake, I can freeze you to fall,
An eagle swoops, there's no excuse.

Petals attract a pollinator in the night
Crickets shine when won by a song,
Seeds pop out to meet the rising sun,
And the sun shines happily all along. 

Eyes, eyes, eyes, - for us to see the world, 
And all eyes the world is bound;
In our sleep, in the deep forest and ocean,
Eyes make the world go round. ~

Ode to Six Lowly Creatures

Spider, DiatomHermit Crab, Red Alga, Sargassum, Tussock Caterpillar

Dr Abe V Rotor

Haring gagamba (king spider), Amadeo, Cavite


Spider

Your home is the space
where your embroidery sways
and glitters with the rainbow
giving life to shadow.

Redeem your mother Arachne
vanished for her art by Athene;
put the morning star to rest,
and the sun to its crest.

Diatom



Fortune on the De Beers' wasteland -
diamonds embedded in the rocks,
the greatest wealth of any man,
vast and immeasurable in bucks.

To anyone of us a fortune awaits,
whose skill can too, blaze a trail
on land and sea where man satiates
his craving for the holy grail.

Here's wealth to the researcher;
in Sesame's magic the lens opens
to a world of diatoms everywhere,
a greater wealth that never ends.

                    
Hermit crab (Pagarus sp)
Hermit Crab
A rare pet you are -
you never had a home,
now you have two:
you borrowed the one
on your back; the other,
above your head -
that you earned it from
the humility of a pet.

 Actinotrichia fragilis, red Marine alga

Red Alga

You are mistaken
to be aloof and mean;
of all seaweeds
you are the least seen,
for you live in the depth,
in the dimmed coral reef,
clothed in violet or red
which is your greatest gift
to catch the fading light,
to escape the grazers
and to be out of sight.

Sargassum
You make a forest on the sea floor
where the fish hide from the storm;
what puzzles those who explore
is your massive yet simple form.

                             Above: Sargassum; snorkeling on coral reef, Bacnotan, La Union

                                 
Hairy caterpillar (higad)

You are Medusa in the garden,
a serpent in garb all golden,

sowing destruction on your way
until Perseus put you away.