Friday, February 23, 2018

12 Tips in Harvesting Fruits and Vegetables

Pineapple is ready for harvest when the "eyes" are filled, and the base of the fruit becomes yellow advancing upward.
Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog

Fruits and vegetables are highly perishable. Here is list of do's and don'ts in harvesting, in order to reduce loss and enhance quality. 

1. Fruits like mango, avocado, chico, caimito and guava should be harvested with a picking pole with a catching bag. 

 Siniguelas: Ready-to-pick fruits are shiny, well formed and purplish.  
 Sampalok or tamarind: Pods are dull brown, well formed.  Press rind if loose and open. Semi-ripe (manibalang) and fully ripe brown (kalanakang, Ilk) are eaten directly, or made into jelly or jam.
 Sapote: Ready to pick fruit are full and rounded, with tinge of brown or purple. 
Shrinks as it ripens. 
Guyabano:  The fruit is harvested green, it ripens in two to three days. 

Pastel drawing by Anna Christina Rotor

2. Harvest pechay, mustard, lettuce, cauliflower, with sharp knife close to the root and trim at the same time. Uprooting is tedious and may predispose the harvest to early deterioration.   

3. Harvest green corn, melon, pineapple and the like, in the morning, they are sweeter.  They have lower sugar content in the afternoon.   

4. Avoid harvesting leafy vegetables early in the morning, they are brittle, and easily break and rot.  Allow them to get supple and the dewdrops to evaporate.   

5. Harvest root and tuber crops (e.g. radish, carrot) when they are large enough or at marketable size. When over mature the pith is hard and even dry. 

6. Harvest onions, garlic and potato when the top begins to dry out, spreads out and topples. 

7. Do not let yam (sinkamas) and ginger to over stay in the field, otherwise they become tough and fibrous. 

8. Harvest lettuce, pechay and mustard before they flower.

9. For cabbage, the head should be well formed, if cracked it is over mature.  Cauliflower head is well formed, clean white or cream. 

10. Harvest papaya, as soon as 10 to 15 percent of the fruit's surface is yellow to yellow orange.

11. Pineapple is ready for harvest when the "eyes" are filled, and the base of the fruit becomes yellow advancing upward.  

12. Apply the simple thumbnail test on the following:

  • Sweetcorn exudes milky sap
  • Okra snaps easily at the tip
  • Upo, patola, cucumber easily give way and exude sap
  • Cowpea, sitao, batao, sigarillas snap easily
  • Squash when fully mature does not give way
  • Chico, sampalok - scrape lightly, immature if green 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Corporate Culture - Some Personal Impressions.

For many years I worked as director of a government organization, the National Food Authority (formerly National Grains Authority (NGA). Then I joined another corporate world, that of the academe as professor. 
 Dr Abe V Rotor 
During NFA's transformation I worked with the “old guards” and the “young turks,” young people chosen for their outstanding performance in the academe and in the industry.  I belonged to the middle group, the so called technocrats in the likes of Bong Tangco, then the minister of Agriculture, JD Drilon the founder of agribusiness in the Philippines, Paeng Salas the chief architect of the country’s food self-sufficiency program, Catoy Fronda, the brain and brawn of the implementing council of Malacañang’s food production, National Food and Agriculture Council (NFAC), and Jess Tanchanco, a party man who transformed NGA into a giant government corporation annexing Food Terminal Inc, Grainscor, Naphire, and Quedan.  

Belonging to middle management gave me access to both policies and programs of the agency.  And when I was assigned regional director, I learned how program addresses itself to the needs in the field, and how the field interprets a program into projects. In 1989, exactly 24 years with the government, I left and joined the academe as a professor.

What is corporate culture? Japan is the most cited example, second to the US, when it comes to describing a culture that is shaped by a company’s vision and mission, and incorporated in its objectives.  That is why employees are made to fully understand, nearly to the point of indoctrination, the company’s VMO (vision-mission-objective).  In fact, conferences and seminars continue to instill this culture.  Continuing education is needed both as refresher and orientation of new programs and developments, particularly to new members.

 We had our corporate logo, motto, foundation day, uniform, and while we looked alike inside the office we appeared distinct from other organizations outside. “NFA, yan,” gave an chin-up feeling. In the same way that we would find our models from other organizations.  “SMC yata, yan,” “Taga-Meralco sila.” "Thomasian siya,"  “Taga NIA siya.” And our admiration rises when we meet a UN-FAO man, or a DBP consultant.  One time the NGA played one of the host organizations to Miss Universe contest in Manila. For a particular occasion it was also putting our best foot forward, honing our social and organizational talents. I felt important having been part of an entourage of beauties. Many times I was invited guest of honor and speaker.  I also went up the stage to receive an award.  

The idea of a corporate culture is good.  I have been a part of this select world myself which without such experience I would not be as prepared (and fulfilled) as I am now in my retirement age.  In short, it provided a strong foundation to the golden years of life.  I venture to say on behalf of my colleagues who left the same organization at compulsory retirement age. 

 But what makes corporate culture unique, a world of its own? Let us look into the some general impressions of people.

1.  Exclusivism – A number of corporations – governmental or private, local and multinational – tend to identify themselves in a crowd so to speak, in general circulation and in the community.

2. Elitism – There is a feeling of superiority developed by members of top corporations. And because of the many benefits they derive, this feeling may develop into some kind of  elitism.

3.  Bandwagon – Corporations tend to become doctrinaire, under the, “Follow the leader" principle, so that individual decisions are subordinate to the company’s direction. Human rights, particularly on the exercise of freedom (e.g. to vote, to worship, to assembly), may remain mute even outside the organization’s umbrella.

4.  Homogeneity – While conformity may be good in instilling discipline and loyalty, the lack of diversity may be in the long run more dangerous. Diversity of ideas may mean introducing reform. 

5.   Reputation -  There is a saying, “Tell me your company, and I’ll tell you who you are.” One interpretation of this comment is that our character is reflected by the reputation of the company to which we belong. The big players in the oil industry cartel do not enjoy a good reputation for controlling fuel supply and prices always to their advantage as a general impression. Mining companies likely share the same public impression because of the destruction of the environment they inflict. 

6.  Exclusivity  –  There are people who stand big because their company is a giant.  It is standing side by side with a big brother. These people earn a lot, they have separated themselves from their class. "That beautiful house is owned by Mr. X who works with a International Company.”

7. Marx Dialectics - Corporate cultures wedge people into classes – not only economic, but social and psychological – which leads us to believe that corporate "greed" is the hidden fuel of people's discontent.  Dialectic Materialism is an orthodox philosophy of communist countries. Social unrest leads to people's revolution as society is alienated by isolation, apathy, poverty, abuse of power, subjugation, many of which are products to socio-economic inequity.   

8.  Bigness - How big can a corporation get? There are corporations bigger, in terms of assets, than third world countries. They dictate national policies, in collaboration with institutions that provide finance, technology and manpower. Bigness destroys smaller competitors and stunts growth of local initiatives that come across their way. International communications corporations are among the giants in the corporate world today. Big Brother in George Orwell's  book, "1984." stalks the world in many and varied ways. 

9. Dinosaur Syndrome. Coined to refer to physiologic imbalance such as in obesity, it too, applies to corporate excessive bigness. Like the dinosaur imagined as a beast that far exceeded size, balance and voraciousness, it ultimate perished, its extinction sealed by a rare phenomenon, asteroid impact, which happened 65 million years ago.  

 10.  Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a saving grace to corporate excesses, a voluntary social commitment not only to the employees but the public as well,  particularly in times of calamities. NFA is always on the front line in providing staple food in calamity stricken areas as part of its mandate. Corporate participation in sports, arts, health, rural development, and the like, may be regarded as image building but its impact is undoubtedly of great value.

I imagine the Roman God Janus when studying organizations, individuals notwithstanding. Corporations collectively represent two faces. Actually, Janus represents beginning and end, good and evil, times of scarcity and times of plenty, war and peace, evil and righteousness, happy and sad, the duality of personalities, etc - all these characterize the extreme complexity of man and his society. A dissertation on this subject, particularly the corporate world, would entail a lot of unending research and debate.

I have not really "graduated" from this unique world. My eldest son works at the Lung Center of the Philippines,  his wife a medical doctor in a government hospital. My daughter and her husband work as computer specialists in Nokia, a Finland-based company, while my youngest son is with Megaworld, headed by one of the country's business tycoons. My wife has just retired director of NFA the same government corporation I worked before. 

Today we all live happily like a corporate family. ~

Acknowledgement: Internet cartoons

Monday, February 19, 2018

Living with Folk Wisdom - 50 Useful Trivia and Practical Tips (Test, 50 items True or False)

True or False: To catch a live monkey, bore a hole into a green coconut (buko) just enough for the monkey's hand to enter, scoop the soft flesh and make a firm fistful of the harvest, thus trapping its hand. Then it is time to subdue the bewildered animal.

Dr  Abe V. Rotor
Living with Nature - School on Blog

Lesson: How rich is your knowledge handed down by old folks? How relevant is   traditional knowledge today? These items may be looked upon as science or superstition, so that separating the grain from the chaff is important. Reprint of previous post by popular request. (edited) 

This lesson was given to school teachers undergoing special training program at UST Graduate School sponsored by DECS and DOST.

1. A child around 5 years old is ready for school if he passes the “touch your opposite your ear” test.

2. Añil or azul makes white clothes whiter. Añil is made from Indigo plant which is also used by farmers as green manure.

3. Of all the banana varieties the leaves of latundan and lakatan are the best for food wrapper.

4. For school children the circumference of the neck is twice the waistline – ideally.

5. Diamond is real if it scratches glass. 

6. Leaves of Madre de Cacao or kakawate is used to hasten the ripening of fruits.

7. Salt is applied on the butt end (peduncle) of mango, chico, atis and the like, to hasten ripening. .

8. More fish are caught in the sea during full moon.

9. Mungo seeds that remain hard after cooking are seeds which were immature when harvested.

10. Oranges with indented bottom are sweeter; elongated lansones is sweeter than rounded ones.

11. Don't stir rice while cooking, otherwise it results in uneven cooking. 

12. During thunder and lightning nitrogen gas is combined with Oxygen to form nitrate (NO3) which is vital to plant growth and development. 

13. When planting on sloping land be sure that the rows follow the contour of the field to minimize erosion and siltation.

14. Burying fruits in ash, sand or sawdust delays ripening.

15. Corn harvest increases by decapitating the standing crop (detasseling). 

16. You can count with the finger the macapuno trees in a coconut grove, and if you find one, not all the nuts of that tree are macapuno.

17. Farm animals grow faster with melodious music, like Mozart's composition, so with certain plants.

18. Bad gums can lead to hearty attack.

19. A candidate of heart attack is known by his features, like being bald, having a big tummy.

20. An unconscious person is revived by pressing his base of his foot thumb.

21. This is a test for fresh egg. When immersed in water it lies at the bottom on its side.

22. Pruning enhances survival of seedlings and cuttings, pruning stimulate flowering and fruiting.

23. It is true that raining while the sun is out breeds insects.

24. Jackfruit or nangka may bear fruits under the ground. 

25. Light trapping of insects, such as gamu-gamo (winged termite),  is effective and practical.

26. Old folks on the farm are more familiar with wild food plants than today’s agriculturists. 

27. Old folks use garlic and red pepper (siling labuyo) to control common insect pests.

28. Pinag-aasawa ang kalabasa (pollination) to insure fruit formation.

29. Carabao’s milk is more nutritious than cow’s milk. 

30. Chopped banana stalk makes a cold pack substitute.

31. Corn silk tea is good for the kidney.

32. The elbow, rather than the finger, is ideal to test a tepid bath for the baby.

33. Ethnic music in the rural area is part of a wholesome life, it is also therapeutic. 

34. Fly maggots heal deep wounds, a medical practice, before the advent of antibiotics.

35. Contrary to common belief, guava seeds don't cause appendicitis.

36. Gulat ang gamut sa sinok. Jolting the patient stops his hiccup.

37. In the absence of vinegar or any medication, urine is immediately applied on wound caused by sea urchin.

38. Ipil-ipil seed is used by old folk to expel ascaris worms (bulate sa tiyan), just by pounding around 5 mature seeds and mixing it with syrup. 

39. Ipon or dulong is the a favorite delicacy of Ilocanos, quite often eating it raw.

40. It’s strange but true, “When dust gets into your eyes, blow your nose.”

41. Kamote or sweet potato builds as much gas (flatulence). 

42. Lead (Pb) poisoning can be obtained unknowingly from paints, prints, dyes, because lead is an excellent fixer.

43. Lead poisoning was common among the Romans when they changed their drinking bronze vessels into lead alloys.

44. A mother should read, sing and talk to her baby in the in the womb from the time of conception. Pregnant mothers should also have a happy and positive disposition.

45. Mothers should not do heavy work for 40 days after childbirth.

46. Pansit-pansitan or Piperonia pellucida relieves arthritis.

47. To catching a live monkey, bore a whole on a green coconut (buko) just enough for its hand to enter. It will gather the soft flesh and make a firm grip, thus trapping its hand. Then it is time to subdue the bewildered animal.

48. The female seahorse turns over her eggs to her partner after mating and frees herself from "babysitting".

49. Dogs eat grass for self-medication, so with parrots eating clay.

50. A brown grasshopper in summer turns green in the rainy season. ~


40-44   Very Good
31- 39  Good
21- 30  Average
20 and Below  Visit this Blog more often
REFERENCE:  Living with Folk Wisdom, 2008, by AVRotor (UST Publising House, Manila). Acknowledgement: Internet photos. 

50 Verses for Meditation

"Who sees silver lining of clouds dark and bold
seeks not at rainbow's end its pot of gold." avr

Dr Abe V Rotor
Read verses with pipe in music of Meditation (From the Thais) by Massenet, or any appropriate meditative music. 
1. When the skies cry and tears fall,
The grass is greener, so with the soul.

2. The rain pelts on the faces of children
Turned heavenward. Look my brethren.

Adventure in nature. Girl before a wall mural by the author.

3. Walks he alone in the rain singing,
Whether the wind's cool or the sun peeping.

4. If I'm responsible for what I tame,
Would I have a choice of only the lame?

5. A gentle breeze came through a lid;
Where's the window when the wall's solid?

6. Pray, but if Thor holds back the lightning bolts,
We may not have mushroom and the jolts.

7. Hush! Suddenly the world became still;
Gone is the lark or the raven on the sill.

8. Saxon wall, each turret a guard-
Now empty, lonely is war afterward.

9. Radial symmetry starts from the center,
That balances an outside force to enter.

10. What good is a lamp at the ledge?
Wait 'til the day reaches its edge.

11. In seeing our past we find little to share,
If the past is the present we're living in.

12. In abstract art you lose reality;
How then can I paint truth and beauty?

13. Brick wall, brick roof, brick stair,
Glisten in the rain, dull in summer air.

Lawin or osprey on a backboard, painting  by the author 

14.What's essential can't be seen by the eye
Like the faith of Keller and Captain Bligh.

15. Similar is rainbow and moth in flight
When you see them against the light.

16. From respite in summer fallow,
The fields start a season anew.

17. From green to gold the grains become
As they store the power of the sun.

18. Not all sand dunes for sure
Ends up on empty shore.

19. One little smoke tells the difference,
Like a faint pulse is life's reference.

20. It's collective memory that I'm a part
To write my life's story when I depart.

21. Lost time, lost opportunity and lost gain,
like passing wind that may not come again.

22. Who sees silver lining of clouds dark and bold
seeks not at rainbow's end a pot of gold.

23. A clenched fist softens under a blue sky
like high waves, after tempest, die.

24. When a flock of wild geese takes into the air
a leader must get ahead to break the barrier.

25. Even to a strong man, a little danger may create
the impression he's small or the problem is great.

26. In the doldrums or during sudden gusts,
the ship is much safer with a bare mast.

27. Wind, current, and keel make a perfect trio
only if they have one direction to follow.

28. You really can't tell where a sailboat goes
without keel, but to where the wind blows.

29. The sound of a yes may be deep or hollow,
and knowing it only by its own echo.

30. Walk, don't run, to see better and to know
the countryside, Mother Nature and Thou.~

31. We do not have the time, indeed an alibi
to indolence and loafing, letting time pass by.

32. As we undervalue ourselves, so do others
undervalue us. Lo, to us all little brothers.

33. Self-doubt at the start is often necessary
to seek perfection of the trade we carry.

34. What is more mean than envy or indolence
but the two themselves riding on insolence.

35. The worst kind of persecution occurs in the mind,
that of the body we can often undermine.

36. How seldom, if at all, do we weigh our neighbors
the way we weigh ourselves with the same favors?

37. Friendship that we share to others multiplies
our compassion and love where happiness lies.

38. Evil is evil indeed - so with its mirror,
while goodness builds on goodness in store.

39. That others may learn and soon trust you,
show them you're trustworthy, kind and true.

40. Kindness and gladness, these however small
are never, never put to waste at all.

41. Beauty seen once breaks a heart,
Wait for the image to depart.

42. Being right and reasonable;
Black or white, and measurable.

A make believe adventure in nature. Wall mural by the author. 

43. She's coy who speaks soft and light;
Smoke first before fire ignites.

44. Every promise you can't keep
Drags you into a deeper pit.

45. To endure pain of hatred,
A leader’s wisdom is dared.

46. Make believe prosperity;
Sound of vessel when empty.

47. Take from the ant or stork,
Patience is silence at work.

48. Good wine grows mellow with age;
Good man grows into a sage.

49. He finds reason for living
Who sees a new beginning.

50. Beauty builds upon beauty,
Ad infinitum to eternity. ~

Forest Stream

"... bred from the sky, tempered by wind, cloaked with green, home of life..."
Dr Abe V Rotor
Forest Stream Mural in acrylic, 2009, AVRotor.  Author's residence, San Vicente, Ilocos Sur  

Children ask who made you, from where you came, to where you go;
you're too naive to be true, until you are weaned to be free
from hidden springs and aquifers among the rocks and trees;
sweeping down to the fields, rest in lakes, and flow to the sea -
you are bred from the sky, tempered by wind, cloaked with green,
home of life, source of power, bless you and the hands unseen. ~

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Part 1 - Hypochondria or imagined illness: Are you a hypochondriac?

Dr Abe V Rotor 

Chances are,  you may be suffering of hypochondriasis, a condition you are unduly alarmed about any physical or psychological symptoms you detect, no matter how minor the symptom may be. You are convinced that you have, or are about to be diagnosed with, as serious illness.

I have a friend of my age, built and lineage diagnosed of cancer.  Suddenly I felt my breathing difficult. It took months after his funeral that I was not suffering of the same disease.  But what an anxiety I underwent! 

In another incident a religious sister, an aunt of mine, called on the phone, "Abe I am here in the hospital." She had pneumonia. "Will you play the violin for me?" On the phone I played On Wings of Song by  Mendelssohn. My wife held the phone close. "I'm going to sleep now." Auntie Madre never woke up.

Such an experience leaves behind anxiety you think you are vulnerable to a simple cold becoming deadly pneumonia. To date, two decades after, a lingering cough could bring back the residue of that fear.  

So I developed the habit to go to the library for health references, or bought books about the subject.  Beginning in my sixties, I began using the Internet for self diagnosis and treatment. 

I have a mole becoming bigger in area, though not raised, I looked for signs of skin cancer.  Heartburn and early symptoms of heart attack have similarities. Angina! I panic. Blood rushes and elevates blood pressure.  I must go to the hospital. Nearing a hospital all signs and symptoms suddenly disappear. "You are tired." The doctor would say and gives you tranquilizer. Nurses and attendants look at each other. 

Now hear this.  A fellow journalist and I drove through heavily traffic in downtown Manila and finally reached the editorial desk beating the deadline for submission of articles. Whew! It was summer noontime. We took a quick lunch.  All of a sudden I had palpitation.  I had my BP taken in a nearby clinic. 180 over 100!  We rushed to an emergency hospital. The doctor asked what I ate. Yes, Vetsin or MSG in noodles, I recalled.  I was thinking of a good friend who died of vetsin overdose right in his parked car.  The doctor gave me anti-histamine shot and assured my condition is not anaphylaxis or fatal allergy.

Fill in my shoes.  What comes to mind when dining in a Chinese restaurant, in adding magic cubes in your cooking? On discovering you have taken canned goods beyond expiry date?  On getting intoxicated with attendant symptoms you think you are going to die?  What if you suddenly feel dizzy and you are alone in the house.  

Hypochondriacs are self made. Their anxieties are persistent, in fact commutative. Particularly in our present post modern age with computers and other handy gadgets available at fingertips for consultation. Too much knowledge is even worse than limited knowledge as we imagine ourselves victims caught in the middle of a pool and are going to drown.

"A little learning is a dangerous thing," says the poet Alexander Pope in his Essay on Criticism. But knowledge is also dangerous when we have knowledge far beyond our need and station in life, say another critic. "This can make for great unhappiness. In our day and age we tend to evaluate things in terms of the pleasure we receive from it. And idle curiosity can be followed to just as destructive effect as an unregulated appetite for food."

Yes, we equate our feelings with comfort, ease, pleasure and even idleness, these we mistake as the ingredients of The Good Life.  Hypochondriacs are very sensitive people with Narcissistic syndrome. Truly, many things we relate our thoughts and feelings as ailments and diseases are false alarms to the extent that we annoy doctors who would rather treat real patients. We waste their time and energy, as such deprive many patients of treatment.  

Hypochondriacs don't harm just themselves, they clog the whole healthcare system, says Time ( How to Heal a Hypochondriac by MD Lemonick).  Although they account for only about 6 percent of the patients who visit doctors every year, they tend to burden their physicians with frequent visits  that take up inordinate amounts of time. According to one estimate  hypochondria racks up some 20 billion dollars a year in wasted medical resources in the US alone. And the problem is escalating with the proliferation of medical information and the Internet worldwide on one hand, and the increasing tension and stress in daily living, often leading to depression. Depression is the advance state of anxiety that inevitably needs medical treatment. At this point we no longer treat hypochondria as an ordinary problem - it is grave medical condition with deep social implication. ~

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Nature loves a playful companion.

Nature loves a playful companion.  
Dr Abe V Rotor
 A "natural" research station for Ruby, a graduate student
 in marine biology and phycology at the University 
of Santo Tomas.  Mabini Batangas c. 1990 

Field research is tedious, but find time to relax;
     it involves a lot on concentration, 
but remember the brain works best when at ease,
     and that knowledge needs incubation;
research is a game, and a hobby too, be happy;
     Nature loves a playful companion. ~