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:

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
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

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.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Essential Oils in the Philippines

Are there essential oils in the Philippines? Yes, there are, mostly imported ones. But here, we'd be talking about the ones produced here.

The Philippines is a great country with a lot of natural resources and a huge diversity of plants and trees. Once upon a time, our country leads the world in rice research and production. There was also a time when we led the world in coffee production. Right now, we lead the world in coconuts and in calamansi. We have the potential to develop our agricultural capacity in producing crops that possesses lots of essential oils.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Repost: Ronghiya and the port of last resort

I never do reposts. Never ever done. But this is one of the very rare times I'm gonna make an exception. For some reason, the magic is there, in the author's verses. I fought hard to hold back my tears as I read through the article while waiting for our car to be fixed in a "talyer" filled with other customers and the mechanics.

Inspite of the distracting environment, the article did make an impact. Here I am sharing it to everyone visiting my site. This article is from Rappler, no plagiarizing intended, just real admiration for the author. Here's the link of the original:

The Rohingya and the port of last resort

Patricia Evangelista
2:22 PM, May 29, 2015

We know our place in the world. We are the port of last resort, and have little to offer the Rohingya beyond a separate peace. Yet I write this with pride, in the hope that there will always be a cluster of islands southwest of the Pacific, where no ship in need is called unwanted

They said there were knives and ropes. They said there were riots over scraps. They said they were stabbed and beaten, and that there were days when their throats were so parched they drank their own urine. Some of them were hanged, others thrown overboard.

There was a risk of mass casualties, said aid groups. Drifting boats were turning into floating coffins. Ship decks were little more than a confusion of shoulders, ribs, and bony elbows. Rohingya refugees waved signs as navies towed rickety boats out to sea. The crisis had become a game of human Ping-Pong, with lives in play as countries took turns slamming the paddle.

There was a standoff, until early last week, when news broke that the Philippines had offered shelter to 3,000 boat people.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Take on Filipino Identity

Angono Petroglyph
Image from Laz'andre
I am a true-blooded Filipino. My mother hails from Aklan and my father is from Bulacan. I have lived all my life here in the Philippines, and my feet had never touched foreign ground. I eat adobo, bagoong, nilaga, sinigang, bulalo, and all Filipino food you can think of except Durian (to the guys who like Durian, I did try but this is the part where I believe in "acquired tastes"). I believe in the Filipino Spirit, the pride of being Pinoy, the fierceness of our race and the beauty of our women. Yet, a question remains in my head. What is the identity of the Filipino?

The Angono Petroglyphs tell us people have been living in our country for at least 5,000 years. That means as a race, we can claim we're not that young, although not that advanced as the old civilizations of the planet. There's a huge gap in our history and our scientists are continually researching to uncover how our ancestors were for 4 and a half milleniums ago, but only so much can be uncovered by the experts. It might be safe to say most of the details have been lost.