Thursday, October 30, 2014


by Antonio C. Antonio
October 30, 2014

I had a vehicular accident yesterday along Sucat Road in Parañaque City.  Traffic was rather heavy in the Manila Memorial Park area at around 2:30 PM as people were busy preparing for the All Saints Day celebration on Saturday.  In a bumper-to-bumper situation, nothing made more sense than patiently waiting to move forward when a black Kia Carnival suddenly bumped me from behind. The hit was strong enough to whiplash my head on the headrest; and I heard my nape pop.  I felt pain in my nape area as I got a little disoriented.  I struggled to sit up straight, rested my head on the headrest, closed my eyes and prayed that it’s nothing serious.

I could not remember how much time lapsed but the next thing I remember was the incessant knocking on the driver side window of a man in a black t-shirt.  Gathering my wits, I rolled down the window.  He asked: “Okay lang po kayo sir?”  (Are you okay sir?)  I replied: “Medyo nahihilo lang pero ookay din ako.”  (I’m a bit dizzy but I’ll be fine.) After I few more minutes I unbuckled and got out of the car to join the man who obviously was the driver.  He seemed relieved to report that both cars had insignificant damage.  Judging from the jar I took, I could not believe it but he was right… all that was there was a little scratch and a little dent that could go unnoticed.

The man apologized for the accident; I accepted the apology and returned to my car.  I didn’t feel well enough to drive so I decided to pull over to the nearby gasoline station to rest some more.  While I was there, I again got a knock on the window… it was him again.  The man said he decided to follow me since he suspected I might need help.  I handed him a PhP 100 bill and asked him to get me a can of soda from the convenient store in the gas station.  In no time he was back with a can of Coke.  While I was opening the can, I noticed that a 9 or 10-year old boy alighted from the Kia Carnival, went straight to the man and, in a rather belligerent tone, said:  “Hindi pa ba tayo aalis? Gutom na ako.”  (Aren’t we leaving? I’m hungry.)  Before the man could even answer, the boy turned around and went back to their car.  The man, in a visibly sad tone, narrated that the kid was the reason why the accident happened.  The boy was very upset because of the traffic and was blaming the driver for picking him up late from school.  The man intimated that the boy is a spoiled brat and when he tried explaining the situation to the boy, the young rascal became more upset and started hitting his driver with a notebook.  In the man’s effort to parry the blows, his foot slipped from the clutch pedal causing their car to jump forward and bump into mine.  I suggested that he acceded to the boy’s wish and go… before he got into more trouble.

Feeling better after about fifteen minutes, I drove home slowly.  A picture of that man with that boy ran vivid in my mind.  I began to wonder what sort of condition could influence that boy not to appreciate the luxury of having a driver bring him to school and fetch him after.  From this incident, I was also reminded of a picture of a broken footbridge in a remote area where school children have to dangerously cross twice a day just to attend school.  (Please see image which was posted Dean Inocencio E. Buot, Jr. of UPOU sometime ago.)  This is a study in contrast I simply needed to understand.  But as I write this article, I still don’t know the answers.  All I know is, sometimes, people can’t appreciate certain luxuries in life without experiencing the absence of these luxuries.

Just my little thoughts…

(Please visit, like and share Pro EARTH Crusaders and Landscape Ecology UPOU on Facebook or follow me at

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Hunger in the Philippines

by Antonio C. Antonio
October 29, 2014

Senator Grace Poe went on national television last Monday (October 27, 2014) and expressed concern over a lot of Filipinos in a sorry state of hunger.  Senator Poe has reasons to be alarmed.  According to the Social Weather Station (SWS), fifty five (55%) percent or some 12.1 million Filipinos consider themselves poor while forty three (43%) percent or 9.3 million Filipinos consider themselves hungry.

According to Ernesto M. Ordoñez (, there are three possible reasons for the growing hunger among Filipinos:
  1. Food production may not be keeping up with our growing population.  There simply is not enough food.
  2. By the time the food produced at the farm level gets to the consumer, food prices are too high.  Many cannot buy at these high retail prices.
  3. Some cannot purchase the food they need because they have too little income or what income they have for food has largely been eaten up by inflation.

I agree with Mr. Ordoñez one hundred percent… he is one of my idols.  But more than identifying the reasons why a worrisome number of Filipinos are hungry is identifying the root cause/s for their hunger and economic misfortune.  Although there are several causes why Filipinos are going hungry and live in abject poverty, the most profound cause is the inequitable distribution of resources and opportunities.  This cause covers the important aspects of human behaviour --- social, cultural, political and economic.  Digging deeper, the inequitable distribution of resources and opportunities will bring us to an original cause of five letters and one word: GREED.  Greed for resources and opportunities is the real cause of hunger in the Philippines.

Just my little thoughts…

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The Philippine Environmental Situation

by Antonio C. Antonio
September 17, 2014

The Philippines, being an archipelago of 7,104 islands, is a unique country with an abundance of marine and terrestrial life.  The Philippines is said to be one of the countries that exemplify biodiversity...  in fact, the Philippines is often referred to as a “mega diversity”.  The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD) defines “biodiversity” as “the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part and consists of variety of species, their genetic make-up, and the communities or population for which they belong.”  There are also a considerable number of endemic (meaning: found only in a particular ecosystem) species of flora and fauna in our country.  These told, the Philippines could very well be considered the proverbial “paradise on earth”.  This, however, is steadily becoming a myth or a thing of the past.

In spite of the natural resources bestowed on the Philippines by our Divine Creator, our country is considered one of the biodiversity hotspots in the world.  Why?... simply because the Filipino has not been caring and paying too much attention to his environment.  Part of the Filipino culture is obliviousness; that so long as an issue or event doesn’t affect him, he would brush it aside as mundane and trivial.  Environmental issues and concerns are exactly these: mundane (meaning: dull; lacking interest or excitement; or of this earthly world rather than a heavenly or spiritual one) and trivial (meaning: details, considerations, or pieces of information of little importance or value).  This is the environmental folly (meaning: foolishness or lack of good sense) of the Filipino people.

It is therefore important for us to seriously consider increasing the level of environmentalism before things deteriorate further for the worst.  Our present situation is not that bad but we could make it better.  Let us leave a healthy planet legacy as the Philippine environmental situation.

Just my little thoughts…

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Biologically Dead

by Antonio C. Antonio
October 16, 2014

What is water pollution?  Water pollution is any physical, biological, or chemical change in water quality that adversely affects living organisms or makes fresh water unsuitable.

What are the parameters in classifying fresh water?  These are: (1) Dissolved Oxygen [DO]; (2) pH; (3) Biochemical Oxygen Demand [BOD]; and, (4) Total Coliform.  This set of parameters is important in determining the degree and/or level of water pollution and the mitigation (meaning: the action of reducing the severity, seriousness, or painfulness of something) required to address the problem.  However, pollution of any degree or level is still considered water pollution. 

What are the sources of water pollution?  Water pollutants come in the form of organic wastes, toxic and persistent substances, radioactive substances, plant nutrients, and sediments.  Unrestricted increase in nutrients or organic matter often causes microorganisms to proliferate; including pathogenic ones. 

There are two types of water pollution sources.  Most “point” water pollutants come from:
  1. Runoff from roads;
  2. Household and residential waste;
  3. Manufacturing discharges;
  4. Industrial waste water discharges;
  5. Public sewage;
  6. Septic tanks; and,
  7. Mine tailings.

“Non-point” sources of water pollution come from agricultural farming areas in the form of pesticides and fertilizers run off and leaching.

When rain water, considered pure, falls back to Earth and run off or percolates (meaning: filter gradually through a porous surface or substance) it eventually gets stored as fresh ground water in aquifers (meaning: a body of permeable rock that can contain or transmit groundwater).  When ground water is pumped out for use, it now can be contaminated and polluted.  “Water acts as an effective medium of pollutants.”  (Antonio, 2014, “How Much Water Do We Have?”,

Fresh water sources such as esteros, urban waterways, streams, rivers and lakes are traditionally being used as dumping sites for effluents (meaning: Liquid waste or sewage discharged into a river or the sea) from all sources (industrial and residential).  Many of these water systems, contain high concentrations of toxic effluents, very high BOD and low DO, are considered biologically dead.

Just my little thoughts…

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Nuclear Waste and the Four Laws of Ecology

by Antonio C. Antonio
October 21, 2014

Why are a lot of people biased when it comes to nuclear energy?  The reason is simple… “Nuclear energy has proven to be an unstable source of power which even advanced countries failed to make safe.  The nuclear accidents in the United States, U.S.S.R. and Japan [Three Mile Island (1979), Chernobyl (1986) and Fukushima Daiichi (2011) respectively] gave reasons for the world to take a second suspicious and prejudicial look at the safety and sustainability of nuclear energy.” (Antonio, 2014 -

Barry Commoner (May 28, 1917 – September 30, 2012) was an American biologist, professor, and ecologist who was among the founders of the modern environmental movement.  One of Commoner’s lasting legacies to humanity is his Four Laws of Ecology, which are:

One:  EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED TO EVERYTHING ELSE.  There is one ecosphere for all living organisms and what affects one, affects all.  Mishandled, nuclear energy waste can affect all living things (flora and fauna) on Earth in an extremely negative way.

Two:  EVERYTHING MUST GO SOMEWHERE.  There is “waste” in nature and there is no “away” to which things can be thrown.  Even if we designated planet Mars as our dumpsite for man’s toxic and radioactive wastes, these unhealthy by-products of nuclear energy will still have to go somewhere.  Nuclear energy, even if it the cheapest and cost effective form of energy, will eventually be more expensive if we have to dispose of its by-products far enough not to affect humans.

Three: NATURE KNOWS BEST.  Humankind has fashioned technology to improve upon nature, but such change in a natural system is likely to be detrimental to that system.  Nature and the environment are not broke; therefore, no need to fix them.

Four:  THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A FREE LUNCH.  Exploitation of nature will inevitably involve the conversion of resources from useful to useless form.  Whatever we do, there will always be a relative cost we have to pay… proportional or disproportional.  The problems nuclear energy can create, no matter relatively cheap it is in comparison to other energy sources, may prove to be more expensive to mitigate.

There are still those who argue that nuclear energy is our best shot for a progressive future.  They still could be right in their argument.  To make nuclear energy more palatable, my simple wish is for them to justify the merits of nuclear energy and marry nuclear waste and the four Laws of Ecology.

Just my little thoughts…

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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Nuclear Energy

by Antonio C. Antonio
October 12, 2014

Nuclear energy or nuclear power is the use of exothermic nuclear processes to produce or generate useful heat and electricity.  Nuclear power is a term often related to nuclear fission, nuclear decay and nuclear fusion.  Nuclear energy is supposed to be a cheaper source of power compared to fossil fuel which is a finite resource. 

The finite nature of non-renewable energy sources gives critical importance to the use of nuclear energy.  Proponents of nuclear energy, such as the World Nuclear Association, the IAEA and Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy argue that nuclear power is a safe and sustainable energy source that reduces carbon emissions.  On the other hand, opponents, such as Greenpeace International and NIRS, are uncomfortable with nuclear energy saying that nuclear power poses many threats to people and the environment.

In the Philippines, the use of nuclear energy was seriously considered during the last years of the Marcos Administration.  The Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) was built with a total cost of $2.3 billion (including interest) as of 2009.  (Please see photo of BNPP.)  Decommissioned before construction was even completed, the BNPP is a 40-year old mothballed project.  At present, there are a lot of issues on safety and sustainability that needs to be addressed if this facility is to be put into operation.  U.S. nuclear engineer Robert Pollard who did his own inspection of the BNPP in the early 80s after the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl accidents in the United States and U.S.S.R. then concluded that the BNPP is not safe since it used an old design plagued with unresolved safety issues, making it a potential hazard to the safety and health of the public. (

Nuclear energy has proven to be an unstable source of power which even advanced countries failed to make safe.  The nuclear accidents in the United States, U.S.S.R. and Japan (Three Mile Island (1979), Chernobyl (1986) and Fukushima Daiichi (2011) respectively) gave reasons for the world to take a second suspicious and prejudicial look at the safety and sustainability of nuclear energy.

Just my little thoughts…

(Please visit, like and share Pro EARTH Crusaders and Landscape Ecology UPOU on Facebook or follow me at

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Alternative Sources of Energy

by Antonio C. Antonio
October 13, 2014

Fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas and coal are considered primary sources of energy.  Electrical power is considered a secondary source of energy because electricity depends on a primary source to run electric generation machinery and equipment.  Having mentioned this, what could now be considered alternative sources of power?  The following are some of the energy sources outside of the primary sources of energy:
  1. Biomass Energy – Biomass is the total accumulation of living materials.  Biomass conversion is the process of obtaining energy from the chemical energy stored in biomass.  A common example of biomass conversion to energy is the burning of fuel wood.  Biomass energy plays a vital role in the Philippines’ energy supply.  Nearly 30% of the energy of the total population of 100 million people comes from biomass; mainly used for household cooking by the rural poor.  Almost 73% of this biomass use is traced to the cooking needs of the residential sector while industrial and commercial applications accounts for the rest.
  2. Geothermal Energy – Geothermal energy is energy coming from the heat produced by the earth.  The main heat sources come from the magma located in the core of the earth; the closest locations to the earth’s surface are areas near volcanoes.  According to the International Geothermal Association (IGA), the Philippines ranks second to the United States in producing geothermal energy… 3,093 megawatts of geothermal power for the US and 1,904 megawatts for the Philippines.
  3. Nuclear Energy – Nuclear energy is the energy of atomic nucleus which produces energy through nuclear fission (splitting of atoms) and nuclear fusion (combining of atomic nuclei).  Nuclear energy produced by nuclear fission and fusion is a non-renewable form of energy since it utilizes Uranium as fuel.  Uranium is a geological resource that is very limited and it takes a long period of time (millions of years) for natural accumulation of this resource before it could be profitably mined.  Although there was a previous Philippine government program to install the first nuclear power plant (the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant), the project has been mothballed for several safety issues and concerns.
  4. Solar Energy – Solar energy is said to be inexhaustible and perpetually available and is largely characterized with very minimal contributions to environmental degradation.  For most ecosystems, the sun is the ultimate source of energy that drives life processes.  The only disadvantage of solar power is the fact that it is spatial and temporal in nature as it is very dependent on sunlight and sunshine.
  5. Water and Wind Power – Water power is a form of stored solar energy because weather and the flow of water on earth are driven by the sun.  Water stream have been traditionally used by man to power a variety of machines for a long time.  At present, water energy is used to power hydroelectric plants which accounts for 7% of the world’s energy requirement.  On the other hand, wind power is also used to generate electricity as in the case of the Bangui Wind Mills in Ilocos Norte, Philippines.
There are many worldviews on the propriety of the use of these alternative sources of energy… some approve of most sources while others strongly question the sustainability and safety of the use certain sources.  In this article, I would just like to elicit and provoke thoughts aimed at engaging readers to seriously consider what is ideal for the Philippines from among these alternative sources of energy.

Just my little thoughts…

(Please visit, like and share Pro EARTH Crusaders and Landscape Ecology UPOU on Facebook or follow me at

Friday, October 24, 2014


by Antonio C. Antonio
October 15, 2014

What is community?  Most of us will readily respond to say that a community is a group of people and/or animals living together to form a population.

The dictionary would define “community” as a noun that means: (1) A group of people living in the same place or having particular characteristics in common; and, (2) A feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

From the ecological standpoint, the term “community” is an assemblage or associations of populations of two or more different species occupying the same spatial and temporal plane; or geographical area in a particular time.  The interaction involves both flora and fauna and, therefore, is the biological component of an ecosystem.  The roles of the animal and plant species are classified as producer, consumer and decomposer.  These roles are all supportive to the circle of life within the ecosystem.

Another term for an ecological community is “biocoenosis”.  These terms was introduced (or coined) by Karl Mobius in 1877 to describe the interaction among and between organisms living together in a habitat.

The most complete community is a forest… a healthy forest which is characterised with biodiversity (meaning: The variety of life in the world or in a particular habitat or ecosystem.).  Having said this, I should further say that there is more to simply losing our forests… we are actually losing a community.

Just my little thoughts…

(Please visit, like and share Pro EARTH Crusaders and Landscape Ecology UPOU on Facebook or follow me at

Thursday, October 23, 2014

How Much Water Do We Have?

by Antonio C. Antonio
October 16, 2014

The main difference between Earth and the other planets is the presence of water.  Water represents life or the presence of life.  It is common knowledge and fact that life evolved in the aquatic habitat.  Humans are also generally made of water… 65% of the human body is water and man cannot exist without it.

Earth’s surface area is 510 million square kilometers.  149 million square kilometers is land while 361 square kilometers is water.  This translates to 70.8% of the Earth’s surface is water while 29.2% is land.  This simply means that a majority of the Earth’s surface is water and our planet is predominantly viewed as a liquid planet. 

This is great news, isn’t it?  Water, being a life-support element, perpetuates the existence of life forms on Earth.  But wait, and here’s the bad news… most of the water available to us is unfit for human consumption.  Although 70.8% of the Earth’s surface is water, only 3.5% of this is fresh water which is actually consumable… 96.5% is salt water and is unfit for human consumption.  Other sources of fresh water are water vapour which exists in the air, rivers and lakes, and icecaps and glaciers; which, however, are quite difficult to estimate.  All these point to an abundance of water supply for humanity.  But is 361 million square kilometers of water usable?... hardly not. 

The total water volume on Earth is calculated to be 326 million trillion gallons and the total fresh water available for human consumption is 11 million trillion gallons.  The daily requirement of an individual is 1 gallon; meaning, human consumption of fresh water is estimated at 7 billion gallons on the assumption that the total world population is 7 billion.  Other consumption like industrial, business, household and other related applications are not yet included in the total daily consumption of 7 billion gallons.

Water consumption for survival and life-support systems is understandable and acceptable.  But the worrisome consideration is the level of pollution that is continually being released into the fresh water supply.  I should mention that water acts as an effective medium of pollutants.  This definitely lessens the level of available fresh water which is directly proportionate to the volume of fresh water getting polluted every day.

A lot of people have attempted to estimate the volume of fresh water for human and other applicable use… but these largely remain to be “estimates”.  The biggest failure in these attempts is to estimate the volume of fresh water lost to pollution with the passage of time.  So, how much water do we have?

Just my little thoughts…

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014


by Antonio C. Antonio
October 10, 2014

What is squatting?  Is it a social problem?  Is it an economic problem?  Is it a business?  Is it an Opportunity?  Is it a political expediency tool?  Is it a form of land grab?  Is it an environmental concern?

By definition, “Squatting consists of occupying an abandoned or unoccupied area of land and/or a building usually residential that the ‘squatter’ does not own, rent or otherwise have no lawful permission to use.”  The term “squatters” have been tweaked to the more politically correct, appropriate and accepted term “informal settlers”.  However, these labels (squatters or informal settlers) seem to be insignificant to the social-political and environmental issues and problems that are the result of squatting.  In their preference to the term “informal settlers”, squatters are just trying to find some sort of relief, acceptance and emotional support, social acceptance and political negotiating power to the bad connotation of the word “squatting”.

Squatting exists not only on public but private properties as well… not only on land but waterways and coastal areas too.  From the environmental viewpoint, squatting is:

  1. The cause of pollution in esteros, streams, rivers and other waterways.  Most informal settlers do not have sanitary and waste-disposal facilities.  Quite normal is their use of the waterways as their means for these purposes (sanitary and waste-disposal).  This, however, exacerbates (meaning: to make a problem, bad situation or negative feeling worse) the initial act of illegally occupying public property.  The structures they build impede the natural flow of water in these waterways and is the primary cause of flooding in urban areas.  Most informal settlers along waterways also have acute health problems making squatting also a health and wellness concern.
  2. The cause of unsightly landscapes which runs contrary to the aims and purposes of landscape ecology.  Landscape ecology is the science of studying and improving relationships between ecological processes in the environment and particular ecosystems.  This is done within a variety of landscape scales, development of spatial patterns, and organizational levels of research and policy.  Landscape ecology consists of four main principles: (1) The development and dynamics of spatial heterogeneity; (2) Interactions and exchanges across heterogeneous landscapes; (3) Influences of spatial heterogeneity on biotic and abiotic processes; and (4) The management of spatial heterogeneity.  
Some people consider squatting is an extreme problem that needs extreme solutions.  There are more than a dozen prescriptions to the squatting problem.  Here are some notable commentaries I’ve already heard more than once from other people:

  • Squatting is a crime (period).  It should not be interpreted in any other way to soften or sanitize its effects and make it acceptable.
  • Local government officials (barangay up to city or municipal) should be charged as conspirators to the squatting crime for failure to enforce the law.  It is a common belief and perception that informal settlers are used by politicians for electoral purposes in barangay and local elections.
  • Utilities providers (particularly water and electricity) should be charged as conspirators for installing electric and water lines to informal settlers.  Substantial proof of real property ownership should be a major requirement in approving utilities applications. This will be on top of barangay and municipal/city permits.
  • Law enforcement personnel and landowners should be allowed to demolish structures built on their properties and shoot informal settlers inside their properties.
I felt cold chills running down my spine after listening to the last commentary.  It made me wonder why people can even think of legalizing murder just to address the problem of squatting.

Just my little thoughts…

(Please visit, like and share Pro EARTH Crusaders and Landscape Ecology UPOU on Facebook or follow me at

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tsunami Versus Storm Surge

by Antonio C. Antonio
October 15, 2014

Why is it important to know and understand tsunamis and storm surges?  Are they the same?  Or are they different?  Why are they destructive forces of nature? 

Let’s focus on a recent event… Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) which killed over 8,000 people in the Philippines.  Days before the typhoon made landfall in November 8, 2013, national and local government officials were quick to warn coastal residents in the Central Visayan region that the possibility of storm surge loomed large.  As it turned out, storm surge was a less understood and known term and a lot of residents in the City of Tacloban, Leyte did not bother with the warnings.  Today, the question still haunts authorities whether it could have been better if the term “tsunami” (which is a more known term) was used.  Some even say that the “end could have justified the means” and the interchangeable use of these terms could have saved lives; Meaning: If tsunami was a more popular term, why not use it to warn people… if this could have prodded them to act with dispatch and seriousness?  Well… Typhoon Yolanda is behind us but there has to be a better understanding of these natural occurrences from now on; unless we want to again experience the Tacloban tragedy in other places in the archipelago.

“Tsunami” and “storm surge” are terms that are often confused to be the same.  They are, of course, the same in effect, nature and character but radically different in origin and cause.  Tsunamis and storm surges are caused by different events but both result in flooding and damage to coastal areas.  Both start small but have immense sea waves that could go as high as 10 meters.  Vessels along their paths are the first to be affected but the most damage occurs when they reach coastal areas and communities.

Tsunamis, also known as seismic sea waves, are caused by underwater events such as earthquakes, land and mudslides, volcanic eruptions and explosions.  These events cause massive volumes of water which have to go somewhere.  From the center of these activities, waves are produced and as these waves travel outward, they increase in speed and magnitude.

Storm surges are elevated sea levels produced by intense low pressure systems from the open sea.  They are also called coastal floods.  Storm surges are associated with tropical typhoons originating from the Central Pacific Ocean region where ocean temperature is influenced by the warm tides coming from the African Continent.  These low pressure situations are not likely to intensify into tropical storms as they move westward… although in a few cases, like Yolanda, they become monstrous.  The typhoon sucks up warm sea water which results to higher sea level within the storm’s circumference.  The typhoon, now accompanied with large ocean waves, will certainly wreak havoc when it makes landfall… as in the case of Tacloban City.

Knowledge on the difference and similarity between tsunami and storm surge is critical to Filipinos since we live in an archipelago and an earthquake belt.  Hopefully, next time, we need not debate and crack our brains on which term to use: “tsunami” versus “storm surge”.

Just my little thoughts…

(Please visit, like and share Pro EARTH Crusaders and Landscape Ecology UPOU on Facebook or follow me at

Monday, October 20, 2014

Peak Oil

by Antonio C. Antonio
October 11, 2014

There are those who still believe that fossil fuel is here to stay… forever!  On the other hand, there are those who say that sooner or later it will be gone.  With this, two terms have become popular --- “oil depletion” and “peak oil” --- which are terms that are interchangeably but confusedly used.  “Oil depletion” is quite easy to understand… but what is “peak oil”?

Peak oil is a theory popularized by M. King Hubbert.  The peak oil theory was postulated out of statistical modelling approaches.  This theory states that at some point in time the maximum rate of extraction of petroleum will be reached, if it has not been reached already, after which the rate of production is expected to enter terminal decline.  Peak oil, therefore, is the highest point of production to be followed by a steady decline in the volume of fossil fuel that can possibly be extracted from all the oil fields at present.

Post peak oil scenarios or the oil depletion stage are quite discouraging.  The Law of Demand and Supply dictates that as supply goes down demand will increase together with prices… and this increase in prices will be progressive and directly proportional to the dwindling fossil fuel production.  The highly industrialized countries that are most dependent on fossil fuel as their main energy source, will be most affected by oil depletion.  Traditional farming nations, however, will experience a greater demand for their produce and (most likely) better prices as well.

There are several post peak oil scenarios which vary greatly on the exact effect it will have on both oil-producing and oil-dependent countries, rich and poor nations, and industrialized and agricultural economies.  Perhaps until the effects of oil depletion are actually felt, we really would not understand and realize what this term means; what really is peak oil.

Just my little thoughts…

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Two Most Important Characteristics of Ecosystems

by Antonio C. Antonio
October 8, 2014

An ecosystem is a community of plants, animals and smaller organisms that live, feed, reproduce and interact in the same area or environment.  The physical characteristics of ecosystems are:

  1. Some ecosystems are very large in terms of land area.  Many bird species nest in one place but feed in a totally different and distant area from its nesting place.  These distant areas are considered the ecosystem of these birds.
  2. Some ecosystems are physically very small in terms of land area.  A small meadow at the edge of a forest ecosystem could be considered as a distinct ecosystem from that of the forest although both are located next to each other.
If the characteristics of ecosystems are listed, the list could be endless.  The many research materials, date and information available in the libraries or the Internet could be considered infinite.  It would be ideal therefore to narrow these characteristic to the bare minimum or to what are essential.  There are (arguably) two most unique characteristics of ecosystems; these are existence-based:

First:  ECOSYSTEMS ARE SELF-REGULATING.  Most species (flora and fauna) living within a biotic community will, as a matter and mode of survival, will try to stay within the optimum range of environmental conditions.  This means that these species will try to adjust to the ever-changing conditions in the ecosystem.  These adjustments were perfected in the long evolution of the different components living in a particular environment.  In the course of these evolutionary changes, ecosystems develop the ability and capability to self-regulate as another adaptive mechanism.  In the course of time these changes become a part of the evolving system that characterizes the ecosystem.

Second:  ECOSYSTEMS ARE SELF-PERPETUATING.  Another unique characteristic of ecosystems is the ability to propagate and reproduce.  Reproduction is a survival and perpetuating mechanism adapted by the different species of life (both flora and fauna) in the ecosystem.  In the course of time, these adaptive functions become very critical in their survival.

It is equally important to note that these adaptive and succession functions are more often caused by human intervention and activity (most especially utilization of natural resources) within the ecosystem.  Without these functions it would be safe to assume that most ecosystems have already been largely destroyed by man.  We therefore need to be thankful for the two most unique characteristics of the ecosystem.

Just my little thoughts…

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Saturday, October 18, 2014


by Antonio C. Antonio
March 13, 2014

Regionalization is the process of dividing an area into smaller segments referred to as regions.  The more significant example would be the division of the United States of America into 50 States and the Philippines into 17 Regions.  The importance of regionalization comes into play in conceptualizing and implementing economic development programs.  It should be noted that no two regions have the same socio-economic profiles and even share the same culture, customs and traditions.  For this reason, economic development programs will have to be calibrated to be need-sensitive to a particular region.

QUESTION:  Why do we have to disaggregate the country into provinces, and then aggregate provinces into economic regions even though there is no local government at regional level?

I believe it has something to do with “macro” and “micro” economic planning.  Clustering provinces (in the same geographic proximity and with the economic character) into regions will make government’s economic planning more relevant.  “Regionalizing” the country would make resource and budgetary allocations planning more need-specific and efficient.

The creation of provinces is an effort to group together people with the same cultural backgrounds.  From the “micro” economic standpoint, governments (both local and national) can also prepare economic development plans and programs which would cater to the different cultural backgrounds of citizens in specific provinces.  An exception to this would probably be my home province, Tarlac.  To form the Province of Tarlac, areas were taken from northern Pampanga, southern Pangasinan, western Nueva Ecija and eastern Zambales.  This would explain why Tarlac is described as the “Melting Pot of Central Luzon” and the people in Tarlac speak Pampango, Ilocano, Pangasinense, Tagalog and Zambal.

QUESTION:  Can the prosperity on one area (e.g. Metro Manila) spillover to the neighboring provinces (positive spillover) which will make them prosperous as well.  The presence of hostility, terrorism and rebellion in one area will spillover to the neighboring areas (negative spillover).  For example, if we assume that all provinces near metro manila are prospering as expected, and then there are exceptions, e.g. the provinces of Rizal and Bataan remain stagnant.  What are spatial economic patterns that you may want to analyze assuming that you are given a research grant to do it.  Do you think spatial disaggregation and proximity analysis will help in economic studies?

A classic example of this would be Central Luzon or Region 3.  While most of the provinces in the region (Bulacan, Pampanga, Bataan, Zambales, Tarlac, and Nueva Ecija) are relatively prosperous, Tarlac, Zambales and Bataan would be at a disadvantage if and when economic development strategies are made to treat the entire region with equal concern.  It should be noted that parts of these three provinces are mountainous (the Zambales Mountain range, Mount Samat and Mariveles).  These provinces have indigenous communities considered to be the poorest of the poor.  It would be fair to assume that these three provinces cannot be treated in the same plane as Bulacan, Pampanga and Nueva Ecija.

If I were to be given a study/research grant, my study will focus on spatial economic patterns and this inequality of national resource and budgetary allocation for Region 3.

Regionalization has its advantages as well as disadvantages. Economic planners should also be aware of the peculiarities in the areas (provinces) involved… and calibrate economic development programs to address these differences.  Otherwise, these plans, although useful to some, will simply be useless to others… And we could all say goodbye to the worthy intentions of regionalization.

Just my little thoughts...

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Friday, October 17, 2014

SOCIAL MARKETING APPROACH: Basic Strategy Components

SOCIAL MARKETING APPROACH: Basic Strategy Components
by Antonio C. Antonio
September 29, 2014

Social Marketing, as an approach to promoting environmentalism, is a very effective approach.  It also entails a basic strategy with a mix of tools and methods aimed at achieving pre-set objectives.  The more common social marketing approach mix consists of three components:

  1. Target-Adopter Segment.  This entails the clear identification of the target adopters.  Specific strategies for specific target adopters must be considered as different adopters have different needs and backgrounds.
  2. Social Marketing Mix.  The opportunities and threats for specific target adopters also vary and should be addressed properly to get the ideal response from each group of target adopters.
  3. Social Marketing Budget.  The social marketing approach is very expensive and, therefore, requires matching financial support.  The minimum financial requirement should be identified with provisions for unforeseen expenditures.  Although financial sourcing may seem intimidating, the goal and objective should be communicated well for institutional supporters (such as businesses and private donor organizations) to lend their support and assistance.
A comprehensive plan similar to a business plan will have to be prepared and presented to potential donors and supporters.  In the proposed plan, these three basic strategy components (therefore, target-adopter segment, social marketing mix, and social marketing budget) will have to be explained in detail.

Just my little thoughts…

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Sources of Energy

by Antonio C. Antonio
October 9, 2014

Technological advancement is directly related to the needs of man for energy… some will even say that it is directly proportional.  Gone are the days when the only source and form of energy is muscle power.  Anything that needs to be gone will have to be accomplished by brute strength, the limits of human strength is augmented by animal power… work animals like horses, elephants, cows, carabaos, elephants, etc. are some of the favourite sources of raw energy.  In time, other means of energy were introduced to cater to the human need for convenience.

Human need for convenience was the primary reason for the invention of hand tools (at first) then heavy equipment and machinery capable of mass producing goods and products to support man’s survival.  But producing these human consumption necessities entailed the use of energy and power.  The primary source of energy for industrialization is fossil fuels followed by coal, oil and natural gas.  These energy sources supply 90% of the world’s energy needs.

Industrialization got a needed shot in the arm with the use of natural resources especially fossil fuels.  A big problem however exploded in man’s face when he started to become aware of a condition called “peak oil”.  Peak oil, an event based on M. King Hubbert’s theory, is the point in time when the maximum rate of extraction of petroleum is reached, after which the rate of production is expected to enter terminal decline.  With this, alternative sources of energy became the order of the day.

It is noteworthy to mention that there are two types of energy sources: (1) renewable and (2) non-renewable.  Renewable energy sources are those provided by the sun, wind, water, biofuels and other resources that do not need a long period of time to be naturally produced.  Non-renewable energy sources are those that need 100 years or more before they are produced such as fossil fuel.

Even when the theory of peak oil scared man out of his wits, there are still reasons to be positive and hopeful.  In the past two to three decades, serious effort has been made to phase down man’s dependence on fossil fuel while researching and developing alternative sources of energy.

Just my little thoughts…

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014


by Antonio C. Antonio
October 13, 2014

I chanced upon a very short video, which is just a little over a minute, on Youtube from the “Bedtime Stories” campaign on Act on CO2 that I found very interesting and intriguing.  To view the video, please click on this link: The video is an effective info-graphic and thought-provoking material.  Technically, it was well prepared… the plot and scenes were very pleasing and effective.  The graphics appealed well to the younger audience and the present generation of grown ups could also relate to the story line.

What I particularly appreciated was the fact that the video only outlined the possible solutions to addressing the pollution problems and left the decision to the viewer to choose the constructive solutions to their environmental problems.  This should be the case… rather than force people to do things, it’s better to leave them to figure things out for themselves.  I believe that as people synthesize and understand things the way they should be, people become more committed since the compulsion comes from within and not because some authority said so.  On the other hand, rules and regulations could also be forced upon people but subservience and dictation is never a sustainable condition.  People will (of course) follow but only out of compliance… it is way better to get them to follow because they understand why they should.  And, most ideally, man should follow because it is the dictates of his heart.

Just my little thoughts…

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Acid Precipitation

by Antonio C. Antonio
October 7, 2014

Acid precipitation and acid rain are two terms that are related and loosely used.  This is because rain and precipitation are synonymous terms.  Acid rain is defined as another form of precipitation that is usually acidic and possesses elevated levels of hydrogen ions that can have harmful effects on man, terrestrial plants, aquatic plants and animals, and infrastructure.

Acid precipitation may come in the form of rain, fog or moisture with an acidity level is above the normal.  Rain, which is considered normal precipitation, is also acidic… with a pH of 5.6 more or less.  The reason for this is that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere dissolves and integrates with water becomes weak acid called carbonic acid.

There are two pollutant gases (sulphur and nitrogen oxide) when combined with water vapour becomes sulphuric acid and nitric acid.  These carbonic acids accumulate in the clouds and fall back to the ground as rain in a process called wet disposition.  On the other hand, dry disposition is also possible when sulphur and nitrogen oxides from sulphate and nitrate particles accumulate in the atmosphere in the form of dust particles.

Acid rain is also an environmental concern.  Acid rain is the accumulation of acids in the atmosphere that come from two sources both (1) natural and (2) anthropogenic (meaning: man-made).  Examples of man-made sources are (a) motor vehicle emissions, (b) electric power plant emissions, and (c) industrial plant emissions.  Examples of natural sources are (a) forest fires and fires in general, (b) decaying materials, (c) volcanic eruptions.

The next time we decide to burn dried leaves or trash in our backyard, please remember that we are adding to an unhealthy element in the air, sky and atmosphere in the form of acid rain or acid precipitation.

Just my little thoughts…

REFERENCE:  “Principles of Ecology” by Leonardo M. Florece. Ma. Victoria O. Espaldon, Virginia O. Cuevas, Zenaida B. Sierra and Charito P. Medina (University of the Philippines Open University)

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Monday, October 13, 2014

The Water Problem of Cebu

by Antonio C. Antonio
October 7, 2014

The problem of diminishing water supply does not exclusively belong to the Island of Cebu.  But to highlight this particular environmental concern, let us focus on this island province.  Cebu is one of the premiere provinces in the Philippines today in terms of economic development.  It is next to Metro Manila when it comes to economic activities.  Cebu is the industrial hub of the Visayan island group as it has also risen to be one of the preferred tourist destinations on account of its friendly people, good food, beautiful beaches and rich history and culture.  Unknown to Cebuanos themselves, Cebu has continuously been saddled with the lack of water for years now and, at present, experts and environmentalists say Cebu is most likely in the throes of losing water in the next few years.

There are over 4.2 million people living in Cebu Province’s three largest cities; Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue.  The population density in these cities is almost 800 persons per square kilometer.  The estimated average drinking water requirement of a human being is 3 liters per day; therefore, the estimated drinking water requirement for these three cities alone is 12.6 million liters per day.  This is only the drinking water requirement outside of other daily water needs like bathing, household cleaning, garden watering, etc.  Computing for the total daily water requirement could be mind boggling.

People take the water supply problem for granted rather than treating water like a precious resource.  Systems losses, through leakages alone, present a big problem for water utility providers.  The wasteful use of water on the part of residents also contributes in a larger scale to the problem.  In Cebu, the problem becomes more critical since 80 percent of the water supply is pumped out of the ground therefore straining the aquifer in the island province.  To address the water shortage problem, the following concerns should be seriously looked into:

  1. The meteoric rise in population;
  2. Deforestation caused by land use conversion;
  3. Pollution of water systems and aquifer;
  4. Widespread education on the need to conserve water resource; and,
  5. Sustainable water conservation plans and programs.
Again, the water problem or the shortage of this important resource does not exclusively belong to the Island of Cebu.  The above-mentioned concerns prescribe looking at the water shortage problem in a wider perspective to solve the Philippine water supply situation rather than a myopic view of the water problems of Cebu.

Just my little thoughts…

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Red Tide

by Antonio C. Antonio
October 6, 2014

The term “red tide” is a common name for a phenomenon known as an “algal bloom”.  This has plagued the Philippines in the past three decades and has caused the death of countless Filipinos aside from its negative economic effects on the fishing industry; especially those involved in the collection of shellfish such as tahong, clams, prawns and other shellfish species.

Red tide is caused by dinoflagellates which are small organisms that float near the surface of the sea.  This algal bloom takes on a red or brown color… the main influence in the common name “red tide”.  This phenomenon is an event that becomes evident as estuarine, marine, or fresh water algae accumulate in the water column resulting in the red or brown coloration of the surface water.  The main sources of red tide are the industrial and domestic wastes thrown into waterways (streams and rivers) which eventually make their way to larger water bodies such as the seas and oceans.

Most affected by red tide are the shellfish.  Curiously, however, these shellfish are not killed by the dinoflagellates in cases of low-level ingestion.  Humans, who eat red tide infected shellfish, are the most affected and can lead to death depending on the body’s capacity to fight poison.  Red tide poisoning, as a result of eating shellfish, is known as “paralytic shellfish poisoning” or PSP.  Symptoms, felt 30 minutes after eating contaminated shellfish, include:

1.     Numbness;
2.     Dizziness and vomiting;
3.     Severe headache;
4.     Paralysis of extremities;
5.     Increase heartrate;
6.     Weakness; and,
7.     Difficulty in speaking, swallowing and breathing.

Red tide is a less understood phenomenon and most people even think that red tide is marine-borne.  I would like to highlight that the main cause of red tide are the industrial and domestic wastes thrown into our waterways.  So the next time you throw waste materials into a stream or river, please consider that this stupidity could result to red tide.

Just my little thoughts…

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Saturday, October 11, 2014

ENVIRONMENTAL ADVOCACY: Promotional Strategies

ENVIRONMENTAL ADVOCACY: Promotional Strategies
by Antonio C. Antonio
September 30, 2014

There are two basic promotional strategies for an environmental advocacy that specifically promotes to mass adopters or individual adopter: (1) Mass and (2) Individual.  These strategies are also known as the Shotgun (for mass) and Rifle (for selective and personal) strategies or approaches.

Mass Media are media technologies that are intended to reach a large audience.  Examples of mass media are: (1) Broadcast media (film, radio and television); (2) Print media (newspaper, book, pamphlet and comic books); (3) Outdoor media (billboard, sign, placard, flying billboards, blimps, mobile billboards and skywriting); (4) Public gatherings (forum, rallies, masses, etc.); (5) Internet and Social media (Facebook, Twitter, blogs, email, etc.)  Mass media remains to be the most effective, but costly and expensive, means to propagate and popularize an environmental advocacy.  We should consider that mass media outlets, such as ABS-CBN, GMA and TV 5, are business enterprises too and (to them) nothing comes for free.

Selective Communication was born out of the fact that mainstream media is expensive.  It is a cost-effective strategy as it is designed to inform and persuade a predetermined set of target adopters which are more likely to heed the cause but have yet to be tagged or poked.  Simple hard-copy mail or email is a good example of selective communication which is not too expensive.

Personal Communication is closely related to the IEC (information+education+communication) Approach.  Please check on this link:  I have also written an article on The Ripple Principle last April 22, 2014 that could provide additional information on how effective personal communication could be.  Please check on this link:

There are no hard and fast rules in popularizing an environmental advocacy.  In fact, a simple weekend street corner “inuman” among friends could always be a good occasion to talk about environmental matters and concerns.  Any event or occasion can certainly be a part of a wide array of promotional strategies.

Just my little thoughts…

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Friday, October 10, 2014

The Social Marketing Approach

by Antonio C. Antonio
September 28, 2014

There are several approaches that could be used in popularizing environmentalism.  One of them is “social Marketing”.  “The term social marketing was first introduced in 1971 to refer to the use of marketing principles and techniques to promote a social cause, idea or behaviour.” (Kotler and Zaltman, 1971)  The most common belief is that social marketing is nothing more than advertising although it has taken the following meaning: “A social-change management technology involving the design, implementation, and control of programs aimed at increasing the acceptability of a social idea or practice in one or more groups of target adopters.” (Kotler and Roberto, 1989)

The accepted concept of social marketing is aimed towards people who are expected to adopt the ideas or practices being promoted.  “Target adopters” are people who can accept certain ideas or practices for whatever reason so long as they are perceived to be capable of assimilating and embracing them.  For example:  Some people may practice having their motor vehicles periodically serviced to improve fuel consumption while others do it to reduce their car’s carbon emission.  Whatever the case may be, these people remain to be target adopters even if they do not share the same reasons for having their vehicles periodically serviced.

As opposed to advertising which intends to sell products or services, social marketing intends to sell social products, such as:

  1. An IDEA – These are beliefs, attitudes and values of people.  A belief is something largely accepted to be true;  An attitude is a defensive mechanism to protect an individual want or need; and, Values is something people uphold to protect something like human dignity.
  2. A PRACTICE – This refers to generally accepted ways by which people conduct themselves such as solid waste management practices, waste segregation, forest conservation, etc.
  3. A TANGIBLE OBJECT – A tangible social product such as a set of trash bins for biodegradable, non-biodegradable and plastic waste materials; with the aim of getting people to adopt this idea and practice.
The ultimate goal of social marketing is to change the behavioural patterns of people by way of promoting an idea and a practice; and providing the necessary tools to promoting environmentalism.  This is the social marketing approach.

Just my little thoughts…

REFERENCE:  “Environmental Advocacy” Felix Librero and Frances M. Canonizado, UPOU

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Sequoia Tree

by Antonio C. Antonio
August 17, 2014

Does the name “sequoia” remind you of anything?  For some Sequoia is a big SUV model being manufactured by Toyota.  But for forest and tree lovers, sequoia is a coniferous tree also commonly called redwood quite common in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California, USA.

Here are some important and notable information on what most people will consider as the king of trees:

1.     Sequoia trees are generally fibrous and brittle and they would often shatter when felled.  Because of this, the commercial value of lumber from sequoia trees is relatively low.  It is said that this characteristic of being brittle was the main reason why sequoia trees are not subjected to commercial logging… and, therefore, grew to what they are now.
2.     Wood and timber from mature sequoia trees is highly resistant to decay.
3.     The estimated forest cover of sequoia trees in Sierra Nevada, California is 145 square kilometers.  Most of the sequoia trees are protected in the Sequoia National Park, Kings Canyon National Park and Giant Sequoia National Monument.
4.     Giant sequoias are normally found in alluvial soils and humid climate characterized by long dry summers and snowy winters.
5.     A group of sequoia trees often form a thick canopy which causes the lower-lying branches to die from the lack of sunlight.
6.     Sequoia trees are known for their strong water pull to extreme heights due to osmotic pressure.
7.     Giant sequoias are the largest single trees and largest flora representative in terms of volume or biomass. An average sequoia tree could grow up to 280 feet with a diameter of 30 feet.
8.     Sequoia trees regenerates by seed.  A fully grown sequoia tree has been estimated to produce an estimated maximum of 400,000 seeds per year.  Sequoia seeds can germinate in moist humus in spring while these seeds die as the duff dries in summer.

There is an old religious adage that says: “When God closes a door, He opens a window.”  This may well apply to the giant sequoia trees.  Big and voluminous (in terms of biomass) as they are, they should be the apple of the eyes of commercial loggers.  But God also made them brittle and, therefore, less attractive at the same time for use as material for any wood processing purpose.  If the story did not go this way, we can all say goodbye to the giant sequoia tree.

Just my little thoughts…

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