Saturday, May 26, 2018

Dead Tree Walking

"I came from Paradise lost, would you walk with me?"
Dr Abe V Rotor 
Living with Nature - School on Blog

Limb of a dead tree resembling a headless
human figure, EspaƱa, Manila 2007

I am the ghost that walks
from a forest before;
I am the conscience of man
sleeping in its core.

I am the memory
from the distant past;
lost among the throng,
living in the dust.

I came from Paradise lost,
orphaned by the First Sin;
the hands that cared for me
can't now be seen.

I long for a heaven, too,
a gift of being good and true,
but if heaven is only for man,
 I did serve him through.

But I am a ghost now.
Would man join me for a walk
to tell the world the story
of a once mighty oak? ~

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Scarecrow – Endangered Native Art

Dr Abe V Rotor

 Love that scarecrow (banbanti Ilk.). It is folk art on the farm. In the middle of the field it feigns scary to birds, what with those outstretched arms and that mysterious face hidden beneath a wide brim hat. There it stands tall amid maturing grains, keeping finches or maya birds (Lonchura Malacca jagori and L. m. formosana) at bay.

Finches are widely distributed in Asia and the Pacific feeding on rice grains, and alternately on weed seeds, but now and then they also steal from the haystack (mandala) and poultry houses. They are recognized for their chestnut colored compact bodies, and sturdy triangular beak designed for grain picking and husking. The scarecrow also guards against the house sparrow, mayan costa (billit China Ilk.), including the lovable turtle dove or bato-bato (Streptopelia bitorquata dursummieri), all grain feeders.

Evolution of the scarecrow with contemporary fashion
  A scarecrow is usually made of rice hay shaped like a human body wrapped around a T-frame. It is simply dressed up with old shirt and hat. The idea is to make it look like the farmer that the birds fear.  There is one problem though. Birds, like the experimental dog of Pavlov (principle of conditional learning), soon discover the hoax and before the farmer knows it a whole flock of maya is feasting on his ready-to-harvest ricefield. It is not uncommon to see maya birds bantering around – and even roasting on the scarecrow itself!

Today the scarecrow is an endangered tool and art. In its place farmers hang plastic bags, or tie old cassette and video tape along dikes and across the fields. These create rustling or hissing sound as the wind blows, scaring the birds. Others use firecrackers and pellet guns. At one time I saw a lone scarecrow in the middle of a field. On examining it closely, I found out that it was made of a mannequin dressed the way the fashion world does. It reminded me of the boy who discovered the statue of Venus de Milo in a remote pasture in Greece. On another occasion I saw balloons and Styrofoam balls hanging in poultry and piggery houses, bearing the faces of Jollibee, Power Puff Girls, Batman, Popeye, Mr. Bean and a host of movie and cartoon characters. Interestingly I noticed that the birds were nowhere to be found.

When I told my friend, an entomologist, that these new versions of the scarecrow seem to be effective, he wryly replied, “Maybe there are no more birds left.” Suddenly I remembered Silent Spring, a prize winning book by Rachel Carson. The birds that herald spring had died of pesticide poisoning.

x x x

Reference: Living with Folk Wisdom, by AV Rotor, UST Publishing House, Manila

Harvesting Rainwater

Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog

Rainwater from gutter to downspout is harvested and stored in jars and steel tanks. It provides water for domestic use that augments water from the faucet. During the rainy season savings may be as much as fifty percent of monthly bill . Rainwater is also stored in garden ponds where tilapia and hito may be raised. Stored water is also vital in case of power brownout, water supply interruption - and fire.

I am HABIT - a Reflection

Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature - School on Blog
Reference: The 10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management by Hyrum W Smith. 

We are creatures of habit, whether we like it or not. We can make habit our servant, or we can allow it to become our master.

Good habits are developed through good training and conducive environment.  Children's  Summer Workshop, Lagro QC.


I am your constant companion.
I am your greatest helper or your heaviest burden.
I will push you onward, or drag you down to failure.
I am completely at your command.
Half the things you do, you might just as well turn over to me,

And I will be able to do them quickly and correctly.
I am easily managed; you must merely be firm with me.   
Show me exactly how you want something done,
And after a few lessons I will do it automatically.
I am the servant of all great men
And, alas, of all failures as well.
Those who are great, I have made great.
Those who are failures, I have made failures.
I am not a machine, though I work with all the precision of a machine
Plus the intelligence of a man.
You may run me for profit, or run me for ruin;
It makes no difference to me.
Take me, train me, be firm with me
And I will put the world at your feet.
Be easy with me, and I will destroy you.
How am I?
I am  HABIT.
Author Unknown 


A recent report in the Journal Pain reveals that crossing your arms may relieve pain, by confusing the brain. - Weekly Round Up

Acknowledgement: The 10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management by Hyrum W Smith; Illustrations from the Internet

Friday, May 18, 2018

NATURE AND PEACE Bantaoay Children’s Integrated Art Workshop

Bantaoay Children’s Integrated Art Workshop
San Vicente, Ilocos Sur, May 16 to 18, 2018
Selected Works 

Dr Abe V Rotor
Workshop Instructor
 Ashley Dianne Rios, 10

Birds flying low over the field and tall grass
meet the morning sun, but never in a rush.
Neil, 8

Flying kite is a wholesome pastime for kids,
away from computers, loafing and misdeeds.

Shaun Michael R Remular, 11

Fluffy clouds hang free above the trees,
while the wind blows gentle into breeze.

Migi, 7

A hut among the trees, my home,
I shall never want and feel alone.

Jamiela Marie Almachar, 8

A world of a kind: three trees, three birds, three kids,
from the bigger world, peace and freedom never at siege.  

Jedd, 11

Fantasy land, romanticism its uniqueness;
somewhere carved out of our loneliness.

Tristan, 11

Blue pond, reflection of a clear sky and peace around,
wonder where these three passersby are bound.
                                                               William Kelly, 8

Field scorched in hot dry summer,
takes a break with the first shower.

Jeod, 11

Rebirth comes in many ways, yet all the same;
life coming back is our Creator’s lovely game.

Vitrish Anne Arguelles, 6

Like a  jIgsaw puzzle, the cracks of the soil mend with rain,
save the wastelands, often cursed, yet life’s last domain. 

Sandra Valencia, 10

Life peeping through, shy and afraid;
says the sun, “Get up and be brave.”

Christian Delle Garcia, 12

After the first rain in May,
creep the lowly algae;
living things soon aplenty
arrive here and stay. 

Jedd, 11

Ahoy, there! Keep off the rocky shore!
Join the race in the deep blue azure.

Jamie Althen Florendo, 12

Dark clouds at sunset tell of a coming storm.
Hurry up for home before high waves form.

Frea Billedo, 12

The sun is biggest on the western horizon,
smallest on the east just when it is born.
Jamiela Marie Almachar, 6

Savage fangs spare no one at sea,
even the bold ones crying for plea.
Tristan, 11

Join the regatta and vie for the trophy;
romantic, but the danger is another story.

Shaun Michael Remular

Sea gypsies for want of settling down,
travel on boats to nowhere bound.

Denise Kaye R Ancheta

Wind blowing hard like giant arms at sea,
warns of misery and death without mercy.

Christian Delle Garcia, 13

If all fruits were yellow, orange, and red,
I would pick the green for ripening;
If all fruits come in the summer season
I would sorely miss those in spring.

Franceska Billedo, 10

Coy and shy fuits may appear to some one,
wait until they are ripened by the sun.

Frea Billedo, 12

A basket full of fruits and flowers,
the best the fairest maid showers.

Jamie Althea Florendo, 12

Fruits are full of energy,
stored by the sun and Thee.

Jamiela Marie Almachar, 8

All fruits a work of the bee,
if we review our ecology.
Wacky B, 10

Move over fancy culinary;
give way to Ceres’ bounty.

Lance Adam, 5

Where goddess Ceres descends,
Epicurus joins the feast,
and man contends -
else the banquet be missed. ~

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Water Conservation and Utilization - 12 Principles

Summer is here. Let us conserve and use water wisely!
Dr Abe V Rotor

Siargao Waterfalls, Surigao. wall mural by Anna Christina Rotorand the author, 2006. Impounding water downstream before it
reaches the sea supplies potable andirrigation needs. 

1. Monsoon rains generally come in June to October.
Conserve water during this period for use in the dry season. Consult the rainfall pattern in your area.

2. A region or a particular geographic area may possess a micro-climate of its own, and therefore a distinct rainfall pattern. Be guided by this sub-type of climate in the conservation and utilization of water as determined by the following factors:

A. Elevation – The higher the elevation, the cooler is the environment. There is more rainfall and thick vegetation. Examples: Benguet, Mt. Apo, Kanlaon, Bulusan

B. Presence of natural barriers – The Cordillera mountain range separates the Ilocos provinces and the Cagayan Valley into two sub-types of climate. The Sierra Madre mountain range has a similar effect.

C. Position and closeness to large bodies of water – Samar and Leyte Islands have three micro-climates owing to the varied conditions brought by the surrounding sea as well as the presence of mountains and a large swamp – the Sab- A Basin.

D. Forest cover – The thicker and more extensive the primary forest cover, the higher is the precipitation or rainfall falling in and around the area. Examples: Mt. Makiling, parts of Mindanao, Isabela and Palawan still covered by original forests.

3. In the Philippines our main supply of freshwater comes from three sources
- lakes, swamps and ponds;
- rivers and streams; and
- springs and ground water.

A. Take care of these sources and use them wisely. Lakes (e.g. Laguna de Bay, Paoay Lake, Taal Lake), and swamps (e.g. Liguasan Marsh, Sab-A Basin) are made up of a complex system network of watershed, tributaries and distributaries. Watershed (supplies water and maintains stability of the lake/swamp). Tributaries(rivers and streams feed the lake/swamp) Distributaries(rivers and streams drain off excess water). Management should be holistic, treating the system on the basis of inter-relationships among its parts.

A pond has similar basic structures although it is generally shallow and intermittent, its system very much simpler and reduced. A swamp, compared to a lake, is a water-logged area, usually a basin, thickly vegetated, rich in organic matter deposits such as muck and peat. Natural reservoirs maintain a desirable amount of ground water for agriculture and domestic use.)

B. Rivers and streams conduct runoff/surface water. Their load can be tapped for future use through impounding, especially those which directly run to the sea and dry up after the rainy season. Great potentials for large supply of freshwater await in our major rivers like the Agno River, Tagum River, Aparri River, Mindanao River, Pampanga River, and Agusan River.

4. An efficient watershed maintains the stability of a water reservoir whether it is natural or man made by
 Providing protection against erosion and siltation,
 Increasing the rate of water absorption and impounding,
 Inducing rainfall, and
 Keeping the surroundings cool and reducing evaporation.

A. Erosion and siltation work in tandem. Silt is carried down by water from eroded areas. Deposition causes clogging of waterways, and the silting of farms. It exacerbates flooding, reducing the life of dams, decreases crop yield.

B. Water absorption and conservation of ground water are enhanced by well-maintained watersheds.

5. A micro-climate is created within efficient watershed areas which is conducive to cloud formation and consequent precipitation. This is mainly the result of increased relative humidity and reduced evaporation.

  • Favorable cloud formation
  • Transpiration/  Precipitation
  • High relative humidity
  • Good Forest 
  • Live Streams
  • Sufficient gound water

Water supply is enhanced by forests and woodlands (man-made forests) through

 Higher rate of rainfall (tropical rain forest is so-called because rain occurs frequently, if not daily, in and around tropical forests, such as Mt. Makiling.
 Fuller rivers, streams and natural springs,
 Abundant amount of ground water and fuller aquifers.

A. A forest has a multi-storey structure which is very efficient in water conservation, and solar and space utilization. Organic matter built on the forest floor helps conserve water like sponge.

B. The forest cover conserves water and keeps it underground for future use. It slows down water flow thereby increasing the rate of water absorption. The roots of trees help maintain s desirable water level in the ground and fuller aquifers (underground rivers). All these enhance the life of rivers, streams and natural springs.

6. Water impounding in the tropics is a common practice in agriculture, fisheries, power generation, recreation, industry (e.g water coolant), and for domestic use. Commonly adopted designs are based on these models:

 Dam (e.g. Ambuklao, Binga, Angat, Lamesa, Pantabangan, Chico)
 Pond (e.g. farm pond, communal water impounding projects)
 Terrace (e.g. Banaue rice terraces gravity irrigation) and
 Series of catchments (China’s model)

A. A large reservoirs are very expensive and require extensive areas. They are characterized by high technology and maintenance requirements. Our major dams are suffering from heavy siltation which have drastically reduced their capacity and life.

B. Ponds are mainly for individual use in small and medium farms. Small communal reservoirs projects are popular in Iloilo and in many parts of the country but many of them are not properly managed. Such projects are designed for cooperative farming. One project in Iloilo has 5-ha reservoir, 100-ha watershed, and a service area of 50 hectares, cultivated by some 30 farmers.

C. Water Impounding on the Banaue rice terraces is a classical example of a very efficient water management system. Rainwater is trapped in each of the hundreds of terraced ricefields which then act as a reservoir until the crop is harvested. Through gravity irrigation system paddy water is regulated. Excess water is conducted to the lower paddies and ultimately to the gorge which serves as the main drain.

D. A series of small catchments built along the length of a river conserves virtually all the water that would otherwise go to waste. This system of water impounding is built on intermittent rivers and streams of certain parts of the People’s Republic of China where the rainy season is short leaving the place dry the rest of the year.

7. Where irrigation water is limited, the principle of comparative advantage should be applied. Considering other things equal, choose the crop which gives the highest level of water utilization and returns on investment.

Economics of water utilization during the dry season: 20,000 Cubic Meters is the water Requirement of 1 hectare rice, 3 ha corn and 5 to 6 ha Legumes/Bean

8. In recycling water for farm, industry and domestic use follow the principles governing Nature’s Water Cycle, namely

 Water is transformed into three states of matter – solid, liquid and gas. In the process of transformation, water is separated from other substances and impurities.

Examples: to distilling water, the impurities are left behind. Much of the rain which falls on land comes from clouds formed at sea. The process of destination follows the principle.

 While water cleans, it has also the inherent power of “cleansing itself”.

Examples: Organic matter settles at the bottom of lakes, leaving the water clear and clean. Similarly after heavy downpour, silt and clay settle down leaving the water clear. Natural springs rarely need the attention of man.

 There are certain biological and physical, including geologic and chemical processes which enhance water recycling.

Examples: Aquatic plants maintain a desirable supply of oxygen in water. In sewage treatment, water passes through a series of tanks/pools until it goes out safe and functional again. Aquifers are natural underground reservoirs and filters.

9. Water pollution exacerbates water shortage. Minimize, if not prevent, the pollution of our water supply by

 Using biodegradable materials,
There are now biodegradable plastics. Coconut oil-based detergents are preferred. So with organic fertilizer over chemical fertilizer. Botanical pesticides leave little or no toxic residue.

 Reducing pollutants,
Reduced emission of gases which combine with atmospheric water to form “acid rain”. Clear watershed and waterways from all forms of garbage. Prevent clogging and water-logging as these favor accumulation of wastes and increase the effects of pollution. More strict laws on oil spill.

 Practicing cleanliness and sanitation,
Proper garbage disposal. Keep industrial wastes away from water sources. Implement a shanty-free estero program. Impose strict sanitation in public markets, and “talipapa”/ flea markets. Strictly implement anti-pollution laws in factories, homes and motor vehicles.

 Banning dangerous pollutants
Uphold the anti-nuclear constitutional provision to prevent radioactive fallout incident. Radioactive wastes must be disposed following international safety standards. Permanently ban the “Dirty Dozen” pesticides. Use only unleaded gasoline. Regulate use and disposal of mercury compounds.

 Planning our community, and
Residential and industrial zoning. Strictly implement building and housing policies of the National Housing Authority, DPWH, local governments, etc, Ecology village concept, Decongest urban centers and promote rural living.

 Educating the public.
National Geographic and Nature-Life TV series, DENR media programs on environment, Kalikasan publications, DA and DOST programs on agro-ecology. Include ecology in the school curriculum on all levels. Ban ads of products which contribute to environmental degradation.

10. As the flow of our rivers gets less, our lakes subside, and ground water sinks deeper, saltwater intrusion increase spoiling our farms, springs and wells, rivers, streams and ponds. Ward off saltwater intrusion by

 Preserving the mangrove forests
Mangroves are frontliners against tides and sea currents. They are natural riprap builders and they moderate the rate of flow and mixing of seawater and freshwater at the estuaries.

 Reforestation of mountains and watersheds
Flash floods are frequent where trees have been cut. Runoff water cuts river banks, makes waterways shallow and at the mouth of rivers mudflats are formed. With reduced flown of rivers, seawater intrudes island and underground. In many parts of the country, intrusion is noted in farms as far as 10 km inland.

 Preventing siltation and pirating of rivers
River banks must be protected with trees. Residential areas must kept away from river banks. Farming along rivers and around bodies of water must be controlled, specially if it contributes to erosion and siltation. Farm chemicals drain into rivers and lakes specially if it rains. Reclaiming and pirating beaches, estuaries, rivers and streams should be strictly prohibited. Major obstructions are illegally constructed fishponds, resthouses and shanties.

 Dredging waterways
Many of the rivers are heavily silted and dredging is necessary. This is specially true in and around big urban centers. Illegal dikes and structures must be removed and strict garbage disposal enforced.

 Regulating the drawing of underground water and the damming of rivers
Water rights regulate the rate of drawing water from the ground and rivers. However, this is not being implemented strictly. Too much withdrawal predisposes saltwater intrusion. Many wells and rivers in summer turn saline.

11. Modern technology has developed new ways of tapping and recycling freshwater by means of

 Towing icebergs,
Icebergs are towed hundreds of miles to countries in need of freshwater.

 Desalination of seawater,
Freshwater is produced from seawater through the principle of distillation. To reduce cost, solar energy has replaced conventional fuel. Israel adopts desalination for its agriculture.

 Cloud seeding and inducing rainfall photo
Rain-inducing compounds are used by airplanes to seed rain clouds. Technology has increased the efficiency of cloud seeding.

 Bottling spring and mineral water, and
Due to dwindling natural supply of safe freshwater, bottling spring and mineral water has become in the last twenty years a booming industry in large urban centers. A chilled 250-ml spring water sells at 15.oo php on university campuses in Manila.

 Re-processing used water.
Unlike the conventional filtration-aeration-chlorination process, used water is recycled for domestic use through a complex purification process in big cities.

12. Everybody should share in the common responsibility to use and conserve water wisely by means of

 Avoiding wasteful use of water
List down ways to save water. These include such simple means as repairing leaky faucets and pipes, to adopting a systematic program in household management.

 Impounding rain and surface water
Residents in small islands depend largely on rain. Their houses are equipped with special gutters and storage jars to trap and store rainwater.

 Maintaining ecological balance
List down all the ways to help preserve the environment to enhance the adequacy of freshwater supply from wells, rivers, springs, etc. Refer to the foregoing principles. ~