Monday, February 21, 2022

Herbal Insect Repellents of Aetas in the Philippines


Being a tropical country, mosquitoes are ever present in the Philippines. Its an unavoidable reality for the people hence the great interest in insecticides and repellents. One study was conducted in 2011 where they interviewed the native Aetas of Porac, Pampanga about their knowledge in repelling insects that bite human skin. This was an important study to gain insights about the ethnobotanical knowledge of indigenous people, as Aetas are known to have excellent familiarity and experience in the use of native plants as part of their lives and culture.

54 plant species were identified and many are commonly known plants or trees. Here are a few of the list:

  • Acacia
  • Lemongrass
  • Neem
  • Gmelina
  • Sambong
  • Lagundi

While there's a general lack of local study to validate these herbs as insect repellants, indigenous use of these give us a starting point to consider seriously looking at their usefulness. Most likely, the repellent actions come from essential oils of these plants, but there are also other compounds that are released in the air when these plants are burned to create smoke, or when they're crushed as poultice and applied extracts to skin.

Inspired by the knowledge of the natives and their use of local plants in repelling insects, Burning Prism created Incense Sticks that produces fragrant smoke meant to clear spaces of unwanted vibes and insects. Using a blend of plant-based ingredients like rosins from Elemi and Manila Copal (these rosins are what's left after distillation of tree resins to extract essential oils of the Philippines), dried Neem leaves, dried Calamansi, dried Kakawate leaves, and some spices, the aromatic smoke it produces is easy on the nose.

Incense Sticks of the Philippines

 


Friday, January 14, 2022

Thoughts of Someone Unvaccinated Against Covid-19

We are among the millions who voluntarily withheld getting a Covid-19 vaccine. We have made an informed choice based on the data presented to us, information we've personally gathered and strongly feel about, and continually stand by our choice. We do so because it is our right to exercise freedom over our bodies, our well-being and health, whether its physical, mental or emotional. You have no right to force us to make that choice by deprivation of liberties made exclusive to vaccinated individuals. You have no right to harass our right to existence as a free-thinking individual by limiting my movement, choices and beliefs. Vaccination is not the one and only path to health and wellness in this crisis, and forcing people to this direction by gross limitation due to our health choices is discriminatory, malicious, deceptive and intimidating.

While it is proven that vaccination is beneficial for many individuals, it had failed to protect you and your loved ones from the virus completely and gives a false sense of security or safety for everyone. You have spent millions or billions over a solution that is as temporary as the seasons of a year with very little to gain. While the vaccine has been claimed to have saved lives, it has failed to save the livelihood of millions and the well-being of even millions more. Your total reliance on a solution you can't claim to be very effective becomes even more absurd when you build upon it further and intensify efforts to its adoption. We understand that you have no other choice, but we the non-vaccinated do. It is the same as choosing whether to become vegetarian or continue eating the same way as everybody else does. Each has benefits but at this point, they do not have much of an edge against each other to coerce people to choose to be either one or another.

To the governments, your preference to the vaccine and the vaccinated alienates a huge part of the people and their choices you've sworn to protect and nurture. Your well-intentioned and well-meaninged actions are terribly single-sided and without consideration to the fearful and terrified population who are now even more oppressed with deprivation to living necessities. For almost past 2 years, we continually live in fear and anxiety for ourselves, our families, our livelihood and our rights. It is a fear that cannot be erased by vaccination because even the vaccinated right now have reacquainted with this fear. Truth be told, you have given the vaccinated hope and security, but as medical science openly admits, it is something very temporary. You can keep selling the world the idea it is a solution, but in reality, we've never made huge progress since day one of the pandemic and it looks like we're back to square one. While your constituents have rarely given credit to where it is due, its an occupational hazard you've willingly accepted as leaders. There are always other options to take, but definitely the most convenient ones always gets priority.

To the corporations making the vaccines, thank you. We applaud your work and ability to create a vaccine in record time with the hopes of having the ability to protect the people of the world. Many of humanity is still alive because of this, as claimed by the experts, but your gifts to the world are being misused as a tool for control and cover-up for their shortcomings in governance. We are happy for all the benefits going your way during these times, it is the result of the invaluable service to mankind's medically recommended option out of this pandemic. We are sincerely confident that you have made everyone fully aware of the risks in vaccinating people inadequately tested vaccines that require at least 5 years of research and testing to be considered safe and effective. Hopefully you and your organized systems can continue convincing everyone using the vaccine in the succeeding years to come inspite of its limitations.

To all the practitioners of the medical field, we thank you for your endless dedication to fulfill your duty, inspite of the risks involved. We laud your firm adherence to your principles and training, your service and passion. We hope not to see you because we've chosen to go against your recommendation, but accept our gratitude in the event that happens, your kind will still be of service to us and everyone.

To our fellow unvaccinated, we hope your choice is a well-informed one. We hope that you are aware of the risks and the benefits of abstaining from vaccination. If you are relying on a friend or relative's recommendation alone, or because of stories you've heard, do more research just to make sure you've made the right choice. You are entitled to this, and no one should make you do what you're unwilling to. No person or organization should impose or limit you unless you allow them to do so. The only one you are putting at risk for non-vaccination is yourself, because the vaccine does not completely prevent a Covid-19 infection. So whether one is vaccinated or not, infection is always a probability. We hope you share my sentiment that vaccination status should not be a basis or consideration of any implementation or restriction because it is not an advantageous or a disadvantageous distinction. 


Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Covid-19 and How Poorly the World is Handling the Pandemic

Its been almost 2 years. It is not the virus that brought the world down to its knees, but how we responded to it. And the fear-mongering continues.

Lockdowns, testings, quarantines, suppression of movement. We have wasted humanity's 2 years unproductively to "protect" lives. For the past many months we've all experienced the radical shift in almost everything in the world, all guided by the leaders of health and medicine under the theme of saving lives. In spite of this, no one felt safe or secure at all. Why? Because our poor response to a pandemic has halted civilization's progress and put everything even our lives and livelihood at a very huge risk.

What are we missing? There's a lot that we are missing out or people making decisions for millions are ignoring.

  1. Too much reliance on vaccines - this is not an anti-vaccine statement. It is a modern wonder, and more so the record time it was created is just amazing. It is irrefutable that it works, it has been proven all along. But too many have just put focus on vaccines and ignore everything else. For a moving target, one that quickly evolves blazingly fast, vaccines are a temporary solution.
  2. Bad statistics - even at the onset, data isn't accurate. Just take for example the number of infected individuals. It does not factor in the untested people who didn't report probable infections, which puts existing data severely unreliable if its the focal point of a good approach. One thing is sure though, while Covid-19 is fatal, it is highly survivable. By medical standards, it is still dangerous, but not everything should fall under the medical standards in the real world setting.
  3. Ignoring Natural Immunity - we rarely hear experts talk about natural immunity. For some reason they keep a downplay on this, where in fact, it is something pivotal. Why is it not being tackled and factored in too much? Perhaps because it is something that cannot be controlled, measured, predicted or something that no one can profit from.
  4. Alternative or Traditional Medications - because of the world's total reliance on medicine as the treatment of choice to diseases, we have been ignoring the practical and probably the most widely available source of cure to this mess. Folk medication has helped countless people tremendously in this pandemic, and no one really cared to measure its impact. Here in the Philippines, people have resorted to using Lagundi, Salabat, Suob and many other herbals or techniques which have helped our ancestors deal with respiratory diseases since hundreds of years ago. It is sad and depressing to see that we are bonded by the shackles of ignorance in using traditional medications which is cheap and widely available. And if one is promoting these types of treatments, they get attacked.
  5. Economic Drain Due to Fall of Micro Enterprises - globally, the backbone of every economy are micro enterprises. And yet, they are the hardest hit in all the lockdowns and restrictions. True, many businesses are not practical in a pandemic, but the lack of comprehensive support or strategies to help them survive isn't helping either. Its like they're left to die and rot.
  6. Lockdowns and Restrictions -  for God's sake, its been proven that Covid-19 will reinfect again and again individuals. But with vaccination and natural immunity already in place (of course, no one is certain because of bad data gathering and handling), it should be all barriers lifted and let nature take its course. Our medical and health experts of the world have been too ambitious to put in their accomplishments: "I stopped Covid-19." And the tune is still the same. Enough of it! No one can stop it, we are not capable and we are not supposed to stop nature from letting its processes happen. No one has the resources to completely make the virus halt and even a global coordinated effort will always have fissures that will be exploited by the diseases.

We've wasted too much time, resources and energy stopping the virus. It has been proven it is not as fatal. It would be less fatal if medicine has been open to working with complimentary treatments and alternative medications.

 


Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Elemi: Essential Oil of the Philippines

Majority of the world's Elemi comes from the Philippines. Our country is the world's source of this exudate coming from the trunks of Canarium trees since the late 1800s. The reason is because only here can commercial quantities be found.

Manila Elemi tree with resin harvesting
What's known globally as the Manila Elemi comes from the species Canarium luzonicum, known locally as "piling liitan," "sahing," "malapili" and "pagsahingin." Its called as such because of its close resemblance to its cousin, the Pili tree which bears fruits with huge nuts. These tall Canarium luzonicum trees are mostly found in the wild, rarely cultivated. Naturally, the tree secretes an aromatic, resinous substance. With the aid of some cutting tools, the secretion of resin can be induced by chipping off parts of the bark. In the past, farmers believed that harvesting resin will eventually kill the tree, which is possible if they cut too deep and too many.

Every week, an elemi farmer will make an incision and wait for a few days to a week and harvest the semi-solid resin. These are collected and sent to middlemen or directly to companies for either exportation or processing. Almost the whole year round the trees produces resin but are low in some months.

Extracting the essential oil from Elemi, one needs to distill the resin. Casa de Lorenzo Organic Products distill Elemi Essential Oil from Canarium luzonicum and Canarium ovatum. The distillation can take anywhere from 8 hours to a full 24 hours depending on the efficiency of the distillation equipment and the resin. The resulting condensate is essential oil and hydrosol which naturally separates and are stored in different containers respectively.

The two different Elemi Essential Oils vary as well in their character and chemical composition. The essential oil from Canarium ovatum is sharper and more spicier while the Canarium luzonicum is much more sweeter, mellow and balanced. Both are great alternatives to Frankincense in terms of fragrance. Benefits of Elemi Essential Oil include anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, analgesic, soothes muscles, reduces wrinkles and aides in minor respiratory problems. It has also found increasing usage as an aid in meditation and higher spiritual awareness because of Elemi's affinity with magical and religious consciousness.



Tuesday, August 15, 2017

UBER you're suspended!

This will not be a discourse whether UBER or LTFRB is right. Apparently its not only in the Philippines that UBER is showing resistance to conformity to authority and regulations. Read here: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/03/technology/uber-greyball-program-evade-authorities.html

To a certain extent, LTFRB needs to be lauded on their openness to talk and work things out with UBER and GRAB. The guys in the government organization are not totally idiots, though they are struggling to keep up with technology, outdated policies and the vicious social media. It is not clear what their strategy here is, or why UBER and GRAB is having a hard time complying. Maybe regulate competition or limit the volume of for hire vehicles on the road, but something has to be done since the apps really help moving Filipinos from one place to another. Beats me how the whole circus works, but here's to hoping these guys at LTFRB become the movers and shakers that will redefine the landscape of commuting.

Image from Philstar.com
Anyway, even if these things don't get fixed immediately, we just have to give up convenience and deal with dishonest taxi drivers, long lines at taxi lanes, and some safety issues riding a cab. Actually majority has still been riding the taxis, its just that the noisiest and the people who complain the most are in social media. Majority as well have been riding the jeep, trains and buses. They don't complain much, they just go with the flow. They know they'll get to their destination eventually, with or without convenience.

The worst thing happening is too many people are noisy, angry and hateful on social media. But are they doing anything about it? No, they just make noise, express sentiments, sign useless petitions, talk to other haters then hating them as well later on. These things don't make your problems disappear. Try doing something substantial and different. Try doing something else that will probably work for you. Stop the negativity and start doing something.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Culture of Corruption

Dictionaries define corruption in many levels. There's decay and decomposition, inducement to wrong doings, and the most relevant: dishonest or illegal behavior especially by powerful people (Merriam-Webster). But I like the last definition of corruption: a departure from the original or from what is pure or correct. Maybe we do have an idea how it is to be a "pure" and "correct" human being for us to better define corruption.

The men and women in the Philippine streets know corruption is happening. I do not recall having met anyone who can say we have a clean government. In inuman sessions, in chismisan and even in social gatherings, we Filipinos love to talk about mayor and their alleged loot, congressman and their team's dirty works, or even the "insider info" of how a certain government official manipulated supplies bidding for lucrative rewards at the end. As the famous saying goes, if there's smoke, there's a fire. They all come from somewhere, and chances are they are true.

Corruption in its most relevant definition is improper use of resources, power or influence to achieve personal gain. It means resources, power or influence are not theirs to begin with, and it should be used for the good of the many. And yet, corruption happens. From the lowliest person to way up high, corruption happens, and we can say it is part of the system. And surprisingly though, it seems deeply ingrained in our everyday life. It can even be claimed up to the very depths of our humanity. We the corrupt people of the Philippines and the world.

Yes we are all corrupt. We are all corruptible. Unless we all become robots or machines and do not have friends, loved ones, feelings or emotions, we are all subject to mistakes and corruption. We are known to make resolutions but abandon them when the going gets tough (corruption of convenience). We are capable of going with the barkada inspite of your spouse or parents telling you no (corruption of friends). We spoil our children with pasalubong or things they want to make up for lost time and parenting responsibilities with them (bribery). The list can actually go on, but it only proves one thing: we are living in a corrupt culture. We cheat, we lie, we make unfulfilled promises, we take responsibilities but fail to deliver, we hate and get angry, we take shortcuts, we try to make our lives easier; these little things from everyday life give rise to higher probability to bigger corruptions on bigger stages.

We all have to accept the fact that corruption will always be around. It goes hand in hand with humanity's capability to love, to connect and work with each other. These are the drawbacks of being an independent and self-existing entity who is responsible for making its own decisions. We cannot expect the people of power to be any different from us. They have their own pursuits, concepts that are of value to them, and of course politics, which makes them very susceptible.

If you're expecting a solution while reading this, sorry, there seems to be none. We just have to keep our hopes up that eventually, the incorruptibles will take the stage. For now, everyone is on his or her own. Being incorruptible is a choice along all other choices in the future. But becoming one will always be a struggle. There will always be a perfect rationale for being corrupt. There will always be a great alibi for any wrong doing because of our advanced intellect and loopholes everywhere. There will always be people and events presenting lots and lots of opportunity to be corrupt. No one is perfectly safe. Hence there's that high probability that every person who takes the seats up high can be corrupted.

So why worry about them and what they do? Let's just do what we can, be glad of any help we can get from the government and move forward. Let's stop complaining and whining it is unfair. The world is an unfair place. We just have to stop becoming victimized by it.

 

Friday, December 30, 2016

Jose Rizal: National Hero Not

From commons.wikimedia.org
So there must be around a hundred roads named after Rizal throughout the Philippines. There is a province named after him. His statue is a centerpiece of a park named after him in Manila. He has a holiday in his honor. His works are in the school's curriculum, and there is a "religious" following dedicated to seeing him as a god! Surely this man is something. But why isn't he the Philippines National Hero?

That's right. Jose Rizal isn't our national hero.

To be a national symbol of the country, it needs legislation or a presidential proclamation. Only 5 things made it there: our national flower (Sampaguita), our national tree (Narra), our national animal (Philippine Eagle), our national gem (South Sea Pearl) and our national sport (Arnis). In short, all the other "commonly believed to be national symbols" aren't official.