Friday, May 29, 2015

Effects of Pollutants

by Anton Antonio
May 4, 2015

Pollution could take place everywhere in and on our planet --- land, air and sea.  “Environmental pollution is defined as the introduction of contaminants into the natural environment that cause adverse changes.  It is the presence in or introduction into the environment of a substance or thing that has harmful or poisonous effects.” (Antonio, 2014)  “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.”  (Antonio, 2014)

Pollution could also be tangible and intangible.  “One of the less regarded forms of pollution is noise pollution.  Noise pollution, by definition, is the disturbing or excessive levels of noise that may harm the activity or balance of human or animal life.  Medical research has proven that high levels of noise may contribute to cardiovascular problems, rise in blood pressure and coronary artery disease among humans.”  (Antonio, 2014)  There are over 70,000 synthetic chemicals in commercial use and application at present.  A majority of these chemicals have harmful effects to humans.  Examples of pollutants are particulate materials, lead, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, VOC and sulphur dioxide.

Pollutants have ACUTE EFFECTS on organisms, including human organisms, which can immediately be observed upon exposure.  The acute effects of pollutants largely depend on (a) the properties of the chemical pollutant; (b) the concentration of the chemical pollutant; and, (c) the length of time of exposure.  The response to chemical pollutants could  range from skin rashes, to nausea or even death.  On the other hand, some effects are hardly noticed even if exposure is on a day-to-day basis and for a longer period of time.  These are called the CHRONIC EFFECTS of chemical pollutants.  A combination of chemical pollutants can also create what is commonly referred to as the SYNERGISTIC EFFECT.  Synergistic effect occurs when chemical pollutants interact with each other or react to other substances.  The effect of these chemical pollutants in synergy, also called a bioaccumulation process, is very hard to detect.

Not all chemical interaction or reaction to other substances of chemical pollutants is harmful.  In rare instances these are also helpful to the environment… but, again, these occurrences are very few.  We could only wish that good and healthy effects are the only effects of pollutants.

Just my little thoughts…

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Antonio, A. C. (2014). “Pollution”. Retrieved May 4, 2015 from

Antonio, A. C. (2014). “Environmental Noise”. Retrieved May 4, 2015 from

Antonio, A. C. (2014). “Biologically Dead”. Retrieved May 4, 2015 from

Antonio, A. C. (2014).  “The Problems of Philippine Urban Centers”. Retrieved May 4, 2015 from

Thursday, May 28, 2015

How Much Water Do We Have? (Revisited)

by Anton Antonio
May 27, 2015

With the looming water crisis --- too much of it in Texas, USA and too little of it in other parts of the world… not to mention that lack of water supply has taken the lives of over a thousand people in India --- we probably are wondering how much water do we have and need.  In October 2014, I published a blog with the title:  “How Much Water Do We Have?”  (Please click on this link:  I’ve thought it best to repost the article that I feel is very relevant to our present water supply problems lately.  This will also give us an idea how water is so important.  Please read…

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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Antonio, A. C. (2014). “How Much Water Do We Have?”.  Retrieved on May 27, 2015 from

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Dam If You Do, Dam If You Don't

by Anton Antonio
May 27, 2015

The Philippine Star news agency came up with a news item on the worrisome water level at the Angat Dam.  The article reads:

“MANILA, Philippines - The water level of Angat Dam in Bulacan yesterday fell below the 180-meter critical level for irrigation, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said.  PAGASA said the dam’s water level further dropped to 179.98 meters as of 6 a.m. yesterday from 180.2 meters on Monday.  Once the water reaches critical level, the protocol is to immediately cut the supply for irrigation and if the water continues to recede, the supply for electric power plants.  The priority is the domestic consumption in Metro Manila, according to PAGASA.  Angat Dam supplies 97 percent of Metro Manila’s water needs, mostly for domestic use, and irrigation of 27,000 hectares of farmlands in Bulacan and Pampanga.  It can supply Metro Manila households even if the water level dips to 170 meters, the National Power Corp., operator of the Angat Dam, said.  Maximo Peralta, officer-in-charge of PAGASA’s Hydrometeorology Division, earlier said Angat Dam’s level may continue to decline if the dry season extends until June or mid-July due to the mild El Niño phenomenon.  “If it does not rain until July or August, the worst-case scenario is that Angat Dam’s water level could drop to 160 meters,” he said.”  (

In an earlier blog ( several causes of water supply shortage in Cebu province were mentioned which could be considered a microcosm (meaning:  a community, place, or situation regarded as encapsulating in miniature the characteristic qualities or features of something much larger) of the Philippine condition.  Yes, drought and water supply problems are presently being experienced in the entire Philippine Archipelago.  There is, however, a protocol (meaning: the official procedure or system of rules) being followed by agencies such as the National Power Corp. and PAGASA’s Hydrometeorology Division.  The protocol is to cut-off water supply to irrigation systems (first), then electric power plants (second).

There really is no problem with the water supply protocol.  We have to take note, however, of the protocol’s dire effects:  (1) Rice production will seriously be compromised; and, (2) Electric power will have to be distributed which will affect industries… plus the many other related water and power problems that may happen.

Having stated all these, let us go to the root cause of our water shortage problem.  Global warming and climate change has toyed around with our traditional weather systems which has somehow moved and prolonged the dry season.  Allow me to mention that climate change is basically of anthropogenic (meaning: man-made) origins.  Again, the water supply protocol is fairly acceptable… it’s also an annoying case of “dam(n) if you do, dam(n) if you don’t”.

Just my little thoughts…

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Antonio, A. C. (2015). “The Water Problem of Cebu (part 2)”.  Retrieved on May 27, 2015 from

Philippine Star (2015). “Water Angat Dam Falls Below Critical Level”.  Retrieved on May 27, 2015 from

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Water Problem of Cebu (Part 2)

by Anton Antonio
May 26, 2015

What’s going on?  While there is flooding in Texas, USA, about a thousand people in India have died because of extremely hot weather condition… and we, Filipinos, are praying fervently for rain.

The ABS-CBN News Central Visayas Network came up with a news item with the title: “Cebu Under State of Calamity Due to Drought.”  (Please click on this link: Towns and cities in the island province has been urging the Provincial Government of Cebu to push for the declaration since the weak El Nino has already dried up many farm lands and depleted water supply.  The protracted dry spell this year has worsen the water supply situation in Cebu.

The Philippines, being an agricultural economy, is largely dependent on water for its food supply.  Cebu, next to Metro Manila, is the biggest metropolis especially in terms of population and number of households.  This makes Cebu one of the very vulnerable cities when it comes to water requirement in the light of climate-related water shortages. 

Water shortages are more feared by metro dwellers since their water supply come from water utilities providers.  This new item from ABS-CBN suddenly reminded me of a blog I published in October 2014.  (Please click on this link:  It also got me thinking again of the possible causes and solutions to environmental problems like this.  Here is a repost of that blog:

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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ABS-CBN News Central Visayas. “Cebu under state of calamity due to drought”. Retrieved on May 26, 2015 from

Antonio, A. C., (2014).  “The Water Problem of Cebu.”  Retrieved on May 26, 2015 from

Monday, May 25, 2015

Carbon Sink and Carbon Sequestration

by Anton Antonio
April 29, 2015

“The study of the environment and natural resources management transcends most disciplines or branches of science.  Everything being studies on earth has something to do with the environment.  It is for this reason why environmental science is disciplinary, interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary.” (Antonio, 2015)  The use of terms such as “disciplinary”, “interdisciplinary”, “multidisciplinary” and “transdisciplinary” really adds to the already confusing environmental etymology (meaning: the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning changes over time).  As if the stream of confusing environmental terminology (meaning: a body of terms used with a particular technical application in a subject of study) never ends… so here is more:  “Carbon Sink” and “Carbon Sequestration”.

A Carbon Sink is a natural or artificial reservoir that accumulates and stores some carbon-containing chemical compound for an indefinite period of time. 

The process by which Carbon Sinks remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere is known as Carbon Sequestration.  The process of carbon sequestration captures, for long-term storage, atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2).  Carbon sequestration is important as this process either mitigate or defer global warming and avoid dangerous climate change.  Carbon sequestration, as another beneficial natural process, slows the atmospheric and marine accumulation of greenhouse gases which are released by the burning of fossil fuels to include coal.

Carbon sequestration could also be an artificial and deliberate (therefore, man-made) process.  Large-scale capture and sequestration of industrial CO2 can be made with the use of subsurface saline aquifers and similarly constructed carbon sinks.  It is a long-drawn process but effective nonetheless.

This short literature will give us a good idea what these terms are all about:  Carbon Sink and Carbon Sequestration.

Just my little thoughts…

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Antonio, A. C. (2015). “Disciplinary, Interdisciplinary, Multidisciplinary and Transdisciplinary”.  Retrieved on April 29, 2015 from

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Community Resource Management Principles

by Anton Antonio
April 27, 2015

“The uplands have all the elements that spell life and survival.  Uplands have communities of people (the single-most important resource) and natural resources (the primary economic development element).  Thrown in a good management plan and a few competent implementing managers and we have the perfect formula for success.” (Antonio, 2015)  “The formulation of a community resource management framework should be guided by the following principles (Antonio, 2015):
  1. Participatory and Inclusive Approaches – A community resource management framework should promote broad-based community participation.  The participation of people’s organizations (POs) should be ideal although the concerns of the local government units (LGUs), national agencies and other stakeholders should also be equally heard.
  2. Broad Consultation – Representation (therefore, passive presence) in the process will not be enough.  Actual participation in the deliberation should also be practiced as well as the pulling-in of ideas from those who cannot physically be present through consultation.  This is the only way to create a pool of ideas and strategies from all the stakeholders.
  3. Multiple Use Forest Management – There are several products that can be utilized in a forest.  However, there has to be a balance between economic needs and environmental concerns.  There should be little or no extraction of timber and wood resources and, if there is a necessity to extract timber or wood resources, this should be kept to the minimum (Antonio, 2015).
  4. Resource Sustainability – The emphasis in crafting a community resource management framework should be along the lines of preservation, conservation, improvement and rehabilitation of degraded forest areas.  Resource sustainability has three components --- ecological, economic and social.  If utilization of forest resources is inevitable, this should be to the greater benefit of the stakeholders… primarily the forest communities.
  5. Integrated Planning - The framework must be in consonance with larger plans already in operation.  Again, the community resource management framework should be along the lines of development, protection and sustainable utilization of forest resources.
  6. Recognition of Indigenous People’s Rights and Practices – The uplands and forest areas is where the poorest of the poor can be found.  It should be noted that indigenous people have traditional and indigenous belief systems that must be respected.  Changing indigenous knowledge may not at all be palatable to forest dwellers.  Complimenting these knowledge, practices and belief systems with modern technology and management practices will have to be calibrated in scales acceptable to them.
  7. Gender Parity – The framework should provide and encourage equal opportunities for both men and women to contribute to the effort and share in the benefits.
  8. Effective Resource Utilization – Effective resource utilization equates to the 100 percent utilization of the forest resources extracted.  When utilization of community resources becomes necessary, greater concern should be geared towards replacing such resources.  Utilization must be based on sound ecological and economic principles.

Under these principles should a management strategy and plan be crafted… bearing in mind the above-mentioned community resource management principles.

Just my little thoughts…

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Antonio, A. C. (2015). “Community Resource Management Priorities”. Retrieved on April 27, 2015 from

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Community Resource Management Priorities

by Anton Antonio
April 26, 2015

The uplands have all the elements that spell life and survival.  Uplands have communities of people (the single-most important resource) and natural resources (the primary economic development element).  Thrown in a good management plan and a few competent implementing managers and we have the perfect formula for success.

In conceptualizing a strategy and crafting the community resource management framework, the following community-based forest management priorities should be adhered to:

·         Benefits from the upland/forest resources should only be for the stakeholders;
·         There should be little or no extraction of timber and wood resources;
·         If there is a necessity to extract timber or wood resources, this should be kept to the minimum;
·         Products to be considered should be of non-timber origin;
·         Timber and wood products extraction should be the last priority; and,
·         Timber and wood products extraction should be a palliative and non-permanent measure with minimal resources utilization in mind.

The formulation of a community resource management framework should be guided by the following principles:
  1. Participatory and  inclusive approaches;
  2. Broad consultation;
  3. Multiple use forest management;
  4. Resource sustainability;
  5. Integrated planning;
  6. Recognition of indigenous people’s rights and practices;
  7. Gender parity; and,
  8. Effective resource utilization.

Under these principles should a management strategy and plan be crafted… and bearing in mind the above-mentioned community resource management priorities.

Just my little thoughts…

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Friday, May 22, 2015

Concept of Values

by Anton Antonio
April 24, 2014

Values are important and lasting beliefs shared by the members of a culture about what is good or bad and desirable or undesirable.  A set of values or core beliefs have a large influence on a person’s or the members of his group’s behaviour and attitudes.  It serves as ethical standards or broad guidelines in the conduct of his day-to-day activities. 

Value is also the regard that something is held for benefit that may be gained from chosen goods or services.  In this light, value is actually measured by looking at how much time, money or resources we are willing to sacrifice to have or use a certain good or service.  Values, therefore, are not constant and change through time as a necessary response to changes in the life and living conditions of people.

The Concept of Values is nebulous (meaning: unclear, vague and hard to define).  It rests largely on the culture, background and situation of an individual or a specific group of persons.  It could even be subjective depending on individual preferences. 

The Concept of Values is never constant... and our Concept of Value can also be considered as dynamic and not a static concept… it changes through time.  This simply means that past values may not apply to present situations… again, would depend largely on the changes (good or bad and desirable or undesirable) that have already occurred to the person or group involved.  As man and society have the inherent (meaning: existing in something or someone as a permanent, essential or characteristic attribute) capacity to adapt to changes, part of this adaptation mechanism is his changing concept of values.

Just my little thoughts…

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Inquiry, Paradigms and Epistemologies

by Anton Antonio
April 19, 2015

Is the statement “Forms of research are equivalent to paradigms” accurate?  There is also a school of thought that says that inquiry and paradigms are taken as equivalents of epistemologies.  How then do we differentiate or relate the terms “inquiry”, “paradigms” and epistemologies”?
Let us begin by agreeing that the terms “inquiry, paradigm and epistemology” have something to do with research.  “Each of the three major forms of research (empirical-analytical, interpretive and liberatory) is based on a distinct paradigm.  A paradigm or mindset is a specific world view about the nature of society and how knowledge is produced and is to be used.  Each has underlying, taken-for-granted assumptions… by placing these three forms of research side-by-side in a table, it is possible to compare their methodologies and (epistemological and ontological) assumptions.” (Smith, 1999)  “Generally speaking, the positivist paradigm underlies most conventional agriculture research and education.  The constructivist paradigm is gradually making headway through the introduction of participatory methodologies and indigenous knowledge research.  The transcendentalist paradigm is more oriented towards the cosmovision of indigenous peoples and local groups from non-western cultures who are often involved in research and development programmes.”  (Van Eijk, 1999)

Does the foregoing paragraph sound super complex and confusing?  Well… let’s see how we can narrow down these terms to narratives we simple-minded mortals can all understand.  Perhaps we could first define these terms and examine their different forms.

  • INQUIRY – an act of asking for information.
  • PARADIGM – a model; a typical example or pattern of something; and, a set of linguistic items that form mutually exclusive choices in particular syntactic roles.
  • EPISTOMOLOGY – the theory of knowledge, especially with regard to its methods, validity, and scope; the investigation of what distinguishes justified belief from opinion.

Forms of Inquiry:
  • EMPIRICAL-ANALYTICAL – relying on or derived from observation or experiment; verifiable or provable by means of observation or experimentation; and, guided by practical experience and not theory.
  • INTERPRETIVE – relating to or explained by interpretation to resolve significant ambiguity often pertaining to the text of any medium.
  • LIBERATORY – to tend, to serve, and to liberate traditional mindsets through observation and experimentation.

Forms of Paradigms:
  • POSITIVIST – a doctrine contending that sensory perceptions are the only admissible basis of human knowledge and precise though patterns while applying logic, epistemology and ethics.
  • CONSTRUCTIVIST – a school of thought based on the belief that learning occurs as learners are actively involved in a process of meaning and knowledge construction as opposed to passively receiving information.
  • TRANSCENDENTALIST – a belief that calls on people to view the objects in the world as small versions of the whole universe and to trust their individual intuitions.

Forms of Epistemology:
  • NOMOTHETIC – pertains to or based on a single basic idea or principle.
  • HERMENEUTIC – includes both verbal and nonverbal communication as well as semiotics, presuppositions and preunderstanding.
  • TRANSFORMATIONAL – the use of investigation and experimentation to produce justified beliefs from ordinary opinions.

Let’s throw-in another mind-boggling term “cosmovision” as an additional mental pain for all of us… a particular view or understanding of the world, especially the temporal and spatial view of things using their ritualized representation and enactment by Mesoamerican peoples.  Hopefully, cosmovision and the other information (meaning and definitions) will help differentiate and understand research inquiry, paradigms and epistemologies.

Just my little thoughts…

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Banzon- Cabanilla, D. (2002).  “Cultures and Societies in Typical Forest Ecosystems”.  University of the Philippines Open University, Los Banos, Laguna, Philippines

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Nitrogen Cycle

by Anton Antonio
April 18, 2015

The nitrogen cycle is the process by which nitrogen is converted between its various chemical forms.  This transformation is carried out through both biological and physical processes.  The important processes involved in the nitrogen cycle include fixation (the action of making something firm or stable), ammonification (decomposition with the production ammonia or ammonium compounds especially by the action of bacteria on nitrogenous organic matter), nitrification (the biological oxidation of ammonia or ammonium to nitrate followed by the oxidation of the nitrite to nitrate), and denitrification (a microbially facilitated process of nitrate reduction that may ultimately produce molecular nitrogen (N2) through a series of intermediate gaseous nitrogen oxide products).

Nitrogen is the most abundant gas in the atmosphere which accounts for 78% of the total gases.  Being a gas element that dominates the atmosphere, the nitrogen cycle holds a very influential position in the complex and interactive system of cycles in the ecosystem.  Concerns over the environment will certainly be better appreciated if equal attention is given to the nitrogen cycle.

Just my little thoughts…

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Philippine Environmental Impact Assessment System

by Anton Antonio
April 17, 2015

“The EIS and the ECC shall be consistent with the principles of sustainable development (described as: ensuring a rational balance between socio-economic development and environmental protection for the benefit of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to avail of the same).”  (Antonio, 2015)  EIS and ECC are abbreviations of Environmental Impact Statement and Environmental Compliance Certificate respectively.

The following are the key systems-oriented operating principles in the implementation of the Philippine EIA System:
  1. The EIS System is concerned primarily with assessing the direct and indirect impacts of a program or project on the biophysical and human environment and ensuring that these impacts are addressed by appropriate environmental protection and enhancement measures;
  2. The EIS System aids proponents and stakeholders in incorporating environmental considerations in planning their project as well as determining the impacts on the environment of their project;
  3. The project proponents and stakeholders are responsible for determining and disclosing all relevant information and data necessary for a methodical assessment of the environmental impacts of their project;
  4. The review of EIA Reports by the DENR-EMB shall be guided by three general criteria: (a) that environmental considerations are integrated into the overall project planning, (b) that the assessment is technically sound and the proposed environmental mitigation measures are effective and doable, and (c) that the EIA process is based on a timely, informed and meaningful public and wide-ranged participation of potentially affected individuals, groups and communities;
  5. Effective regulatory review of the EIA Reports depends largely on timely, complete and accurate disclosure or relevant information and data by the project proponents and other stakeholders in the EIA process; and,
  6. The timeliness prescribed by the system within which a decision must be made or issued applies only to processes and actions within the DENR-EMB’s control and do not include actions and activities that are the responsibility of the proponent and stakeholders.

These are the unique features of the Philippine environmental impact assessment system.

Just my little thoughts…

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Antonio, A. C. (2015). “Environmental Impact Assessment.”  Retrieved on April 17, 2015 from

Department of Environments and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Bureau.  “Philippine Environmental Impact Assessment System (PEISS)”.  DENR-EMB, Quezon City, Philippines

Monday, May 18, 2015

Environmental Impact Assessment Guiding Principles

by Anton Antonio
April 16, 2015

The International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) was the lead organization in developing and crafting the guiding principles for environmental impact assessment.  Listed below is a selection of some of the documented principles:
  1. PARTICIPATIVE – The process should provide appropriate opportunities to inform and involve all interested parties and stakeholders to incorporate their input in decision-making.
  2. TRANSPARENCY – Assessment process, outcomes and decisions should be open and accessible to any interest individuals or groups.
  3. CERTAINTY – The process and timing of the assessment should be agreed upon in advance and should be followed by all participants.
  4. ACCOUNTABILITY – The decision-makers, project proponents and stakeholders are responsible to all parties for their action and decisions under the assessment process.
  5. CREDIBILITY – Assessment is undertaken with professionalism and objectivity.
  6. COST-EFFECTIVENESS – The assessment process and its outcomes will ensure environmental protection at the least cost to the society and communities in the project area.
  7. PRACTICAL – The assessment process should result to practical outputs which can be implemented by the proponents and stakeholders.
  8. RELEVANT – The assessment process should focus on information that is relevant for development planning and decision-making.
  9. FORUSED – The process should concentrate on significant environmental effects and key issues that need t be taken into account in making decisions.
  10. INTERDISCIPLINARY – The assessment process should ensure that the appropriate techniques and subject matter experts in the relevant disciplines are employed, including the use of traditional knowledge as relevant.
  11. INTEGRATED – The assessment process should address the interrelationships of social, economic and biophysical aspects.

These are the “best practice” elements that are contained in the environmental impact assessment guiding principles.

Just my little thoughts…

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International Association for Impact Assessment, 1999: Principles of Environmental Impact Assessment Best Practice, UK.

Modak P. & Biswas A. K., 1999: Conducting Environmental Impact Assessment for Developing Countries, United Nations University press.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

It's About Time!

by Anton Antonio
May 18, 2015

I saw this news item on Facebook today…

“(CNN Philippines) – Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago has filed a resolution urging the government to force Canada to take back the stinking containers of waste it illegally exported into Philippine soil since 2013.  The feisty senator, who heads the Senate committee on foreign relations, cited an international agreement that the government can use in justifying its stand against Canada’s irresponsible garbage disposal.  Santiago said that under the Basel Convention, Canada is responsible for some 50 container vans of waste now sitting in Philippine ports.  “This issue goes beyond waste management and threatens our sovereignty. I am alarmed that the government seems willing to say that we are an international trash bin out of fear of ruffling Canada’s feathers,” the senator said.  Malacañan has earlier ruled out negotiations to return the illegal shipment to Canada. A multi-agency task force has also allegedly agreed to locally process the waste, which includes household waste such as used adult diapers.  “The decision to process the waste in the Philippines upon the request of the Canadian government sets a dangerous precedent for other countries to dump their waste in Philippine soil with impunity,” Santiago said in the Senate Resolution No. 1431.  She added that the garbage from Canada is covered by a provision in the Basel Convention, noting that Annex 2 of the international agreement explains that “other wastes” include those collected from households.”
A little over a year ago, I published an article in my blogsite ( with an angry little title “Dear Canada, We Don’t Need Your Garbage!!!” on the same issue…

by Antonio C. Antonio
April 25, 2014

Chronology of Events:
  • March 22, 1988 – The Philippines was a signatory to an international agreement “to reduce the movements of hazardous waste between nations and specifically to prevent transfer of hazardous waste from developed to less developed countries.”  The agreement’s primary objective is “to protect human health and the environment against the adverse effects of hazardous waste.”
  • May 5, 1992 – The Basel Convention, held a month before the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit, on hazardous waste outlawed the export of hazardous waste from developed to developing countries.
  • June 2013 – 50 forty-foot container vans of used heterogeneous (meaning: diverse in character and content) waste materials began to arrive in Manila, Philippines.  The containers vans from Canada actually included used plastic bags, bottles, newspaper, household garbage and (lo and behold) used Canadian adult diapers.  The consignee was Chronic Plastics and the shipper was Chronic, Inc.  The Philippine Bureau of Customs (BOD) declared the importation as unlawful pursuant to Republic Act No. 6969 (Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Waste Act of 1990).  This exportation from Canada violates the Basel Convention of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Waste and their Disposal.
  • February 2014 – The BOC filed a complaint before the Philippine Department of Justice (DoJ) against the shipper, Chronic Plastics.
  • March 13, 2014 – The Philippine Government through the Department of Health (DoH) – Bureau of Quarantine opened the 18 containers vans from this particular importation and reported the need for these to be disinfected… the cost of disinfection shall be shouldered by the Philippine Government.  The waste materials in the containers vans has began to post serious risk to the health of the community living and working at the Port Area and also the environment particularly Manila Bay.
  • March 17, 2014 – The DoH – Bureau of Quarantine, in consultation with other concerned Philippine Government agencies, commenced disinfection procedure on the 18 container vans using sodium hypochlorite (bleaching solution).

The 50 container vans are still at the Port Area and garbage juice is now leaking from the containers vans and endangering the health and well being of people and the environment.

Who is to blame?  There are a few who say that the Canadian Government will never intentionally violate the Basel Convention… that they were, quite possibly, not even aware of their unintentional export of waste materials to the Philippines...  and that this is just the workings of unscrupulous businessmen from both the Philippines and Canada.  Well… please do not insult the intelligence of the Filipino People.  This is simply adding insult to injury!

Perhaps the better question to ask is:  How could Canada, with all its advancement in systems and procedures, technology, economy and culture, err on this particular shipment?  Personally, I find it very hard squaring up to the possibility that the Canadian Government simply fell out of consciousness while these container vans were being inspected, documented and loaded for shipment.  Whether this export was intentional or not is something I don’t know.  But this I know… pwede silang mag-tanga-tangahan but this will no longer defeat the fact that we, poor Filipinos, now think that there are idiots in the Canadian bureaucracy.  The next question then would be: How could 50 forty-foot container vans go unnoticed?  It is also of equal importance that the Canadian government should refrain from hiring the blind or the visually impaired for seaports assignment.

I feel strongly that this goes beyond a simple isolated case of a freak shipment of waste materials to the Philippines.  There is a deeper reason to all these.  It is also a case of respect or the lack of respect for us as a people and as a nation.  Canada, a 1st World country, should learn to respect developing economies (like us) and not treat them as their garbage dumpsite.

Today, I related this incident to a parking attendant and he was quick to reply:  “Ang bastos pala ng mga Canadian na ‘yan.  Dapat hakutin ang mga basura na ‘yan at itambak sa embahada nila!”  But this will not get rid of the problem.  The Philippines should immediately return these 50 container vans of waste materials to Canada with a little note that says: “Dear Canada, We don’t need your garbage!!!”

In another blog, “The Ripple Principle”, I suggested that “If we are “noisy” enough about what we want to see happen, somehow-sometime-somewhere, this will eventually get to someone who could actually make it happen.”  (Antonio, 2013)  Thank you Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago for making things happen.  It’s about time.

Just my little thoughts…

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“Solon wants PH to return Canada’s trash”.  Retrieved on May 18, 2015 from

Antonio, A. C. (2014).  “Dear Canada, We Don’t Need Your Trash”.  Retrieved on May 18, 2015 from

Antonio, A. C. (2014).  “The Ripple Principle”.  Retrieved on May 18, 2015 from

Environmental Impact Assessment

by Anton Antonio
April 15, 2015

Environmental impact assessment (EIA) is the projection and assessment of the positive and negative environmental impacts of the various land use application. On the other hand, an EIS or Environmental Impact Statement is a compilation and integration of all information and data on the EIA.  This is the end report of a full conducted EIA.  In theory, the EIA is a part of land use suitability assessment.  (For more information on the land use suitability assessment, please refer to “Land Use Planning” at

An EIA is a process that includes predicting and evaluating the most likely impacts of a program or project in all its phases of operation.  It also involves designing appropriate preventive, mitigating and enhancement measures as institutionalized safety nets to address these consequences to the program or project to protect the environment and the affected communities.

The EIA, as a basic principle, is designed to perform as a decision-making planning guide.  The EIA is a requirement of government (the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Environmental Management Bureau or DENR-EMB) in most environment related projects and programs.  The EIA process is designed to identify all possible adverse environmental effect in the project area… and the subsequent formulation environmental management and monitoring plans.

Once the DENR-EMB determines the environmental soundness of the program or project, an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) will subsequently be issued which will allow the implementation stage to commence.  The EIS and the ECC shall be consistent with the principles of sustainable development (described as: ensuring a rational balance between socio-economic development and environmental protection for the benefit of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to avail of the same).

Guidelines for the conduct of an EIA can be found in detail in Presidential Decree No. 1586 and its Implementing Riles and Regulations. DENR DAO No. 37-1996.  Among other environmental protection processes and requirement, there is none as extensive and detailed as the environmental impact assessment.

Just my little thoughts…

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Antonio, A. C. (2015). “Land Use Planning.”  Retrieved on April 15, 2015 from

Department of Environments and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Bureau.  “Philippine Environmental Impact Assessment System (PEISS)”.  DENR-EMB, Quezon City, Philippines

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Three Stages of Society and Energy Development

by Anton Antonio
April 14, 2015

The development of society as a social unit ran parallel to man’s discovery, utilization and development of energy sources.  The first widely used source of energy was coal, then crude oil, in the last two Centuries.  “The first fossil fuel used by man is coal.  The countries with an abundant supply of coal were able to participate in the 18th Century industrial revolution.  The burning of coal powered machines that revolutionized and increased production technology and increased efficiency in the transport and delivery of goods.  From the early 1800s to the early 1900s, coal provided 80% of the energy requirement of the industrialized economies of the world.  However, by the mid 1900s, crude oil overtook coal to become the dominant energy source.”  (Antonio, 2015)

With reference to energy development, the three stages in the development of society are (Florece, et al., 1999):
  1. EARLY CIVILIZATION.  During this period, the sources of energy are the muscle power of man which he used for hunting and gathering food and making fire to cook his food.  Forest provided wood to enable man to cook.
  2. AGRICULTURAL REVOLUTION.  This is marked by the domestication of plants and animals that provided a more dependable source of energy in terms of food for man.  Animals also provided energy for transportation.
  3. INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION.  Use of fossil fuel to run machines that replaced human and animal power in the manufacture and transport of goods.

Today, because of discovered realities in the last three decades of environmental problems such as the greenhouse effect, global warming and climate change, man is more judicious in his choice of energy source.  The present worldviews on renewable and clean energy sources were formed by knowledge to include the three stages of society and energy development.

Just my little thoughts…

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Antonio, A. C. (2015).  “Fossil Fuels”.  Retrieved on April 14, 2015 from

Florece, L. M., Espaldon, M. V. O., Cuevas, V. C., Sierra, Z. B., & Medina, C. P. (1999).  “Principles of Ecology”.  University of the Philippines Open University, Los Banos, Laguna, Philippines

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Areas Available for Community Based Forest Management

by Anton Antonio
April 12, 2015

“The key objective of the Community Based Forest Management (CBFM) program is economic self-reliance through the improvement in the general quality of life of upland communities.  The CBFM aims not only to provide additional livelihood opportunities to upland dwellers but also to develop and encourage alternative, non-forest based related livelihood activities in the upland communities.  The ultimate objective is for these upland communities to be self sufficient with other livelihood activities while gradually reducing their dependence on the forest and its products and resources as livelihood and economic goods offered in the market.”  (Antonio, 2015)

For the purposes mentioned in the preceding paragraph, areas are made available for Community Based Forest Management projects.  Here is a list of areas available for CBFM (Villanueva, 2002):
  1. Uplands and coastal lands of the public domain;
  2. Areas covered by Timber License Agreements, Industrial Forest Management Agreements and other relevant forest land contracts, leases, permits and agreements;
  3. Areas covered by expired permits for non-timber forest products;
  4. Multiple use zones, buffer zones and other areas within the protected areas where utilization activities may be allowed;
  5. Forest land assigned by law under the administration and control of government agencies; and,
  6. Certified ancestral lands and domains, and other areas occupied by indigenous cultural minorities, known to be ancestral but not yet covered by Certificates of Ancestral Domain Claims (CADC).

These are the areas available for Community Based Forest Management.

Just my little thoughts…

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Antonio, A. C. (2015). “Objectives of Community Based Forest Management”.  Retrieved on April 12, 2015 from

Villanueva, T. R. (2002). “Upland Ecosystem Management”. University of the Philippines Open University, Los Banos, Laguna, Philippines

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Disaster Preparedness

by Anton Antonio
May 13, 2015

In the last 24 hours several earthquakes of varying intensities (2.6 to 8.2 on the Richter magnitude scale) occurred in Papua New Guinea, the United States, Indonesia, British Virgin Islands, Nepal, Japan, Philippines, China, South Africa, Ecuador, Tonga, Afghanistan and Fiji.  The most notable among these tremors are those that occurred in Nepal and Japan due to their magnitude, destruction to properties and lose in human lives. 

Movement of these tectonic plates is the primary cause of earthquakes.  There are several tectonic plates covering planet earth but movement seems to be more evident with the Pacific, Philippine, Eurasian and Indian Plates.  (Please see accompanying map of Tectonic Plates.)  This is a worrisome development since the Philippine Plate (which is one of the smaller plates mentioned) might be in for a violent shift.

I also chanced upon a Facebook post by Mr. Rafael M. Alunan, III enumerating some relevant questions and concerns on earthquake-related disaster preparedness:

  1. What precautions have been undertaken so far (and how far to go to accomplish desired targets) to reduce structural damage to buildings, homes and vital infrastructure.
  2. What precautions have been undertaken to avert a collapse of Angat-Umiray tunnel, Angat Dam, Ipo Dam, La Mesa and Wawa Dam to keep water supply intact? What precautions have been undertaken to protect water aqueducts, reserviors, pumping stations and major pipes from serious damage or collapse to keep water distribution flowing to help fight fires and sustain the people's survival?
  3. What steps have been taken to forge public-private synergies to ensure a robust emergency response from the ground, air and sea - incident management, damage assessment, debris clearing for ingress/egress of emergency teams, fire control, search-rescue, evacuation, disaster relief, first responder support, regional reinforcements, logistics hubs, supply trains, community self-reliance survival plans, etc.
  4. Have all possible contingencies been considered in planning and field training exercises to include international linkages to ensure optimal emergency response?
  5. At the home level, what preparations have Metro Manila communities undertaken to survive under the most difficult conditions during the emergency period which could last for weeks depending on the extent of the disaster?

Let's get serious about unity, solidarity and teamwork BEFORE the Big One hits us.”

Mr. Raffy Alunan is certainly not a tiny voice in the wilderness.  Mr. Rafael Moreno Alunan, III, serves as the President of the First Philippine Infrastructure Development Corp.  Mr. Alunan also serves as the President of Kilosbayan.  He served in the cabinets of President Fidel Ramos and President Corazon Aquino as Secretary of the Interior and Local Government and Secretary of Tourism, respectively.  He serves as a Non-Executive Director of Manila North Tollways Corporation.  He has been an Independent Director of Pepsi-Cola Products Philippines, Inc. since 2007.  He serves as a Director of Sun Life of Canada (Philippines) Inc., Sun Life Financial Plans, Inc., Sun Life Balanced Fund, Inc. and the Management Association of the Philippines.  He holds a double degree in Business Administration and History-Political Science from the De La Salle University and a Master's Degree in Public Administration from Harvard University and MBA from Ateneo De Manila University.

When knowledgeable people and brilliant visionaries, like Mr. Alunan, get alarmed, there really something to be alarmed about.  He is right to ask these questions… what really is our level of disaster preparedness?

Just my little thoughts…

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015


by Anton Antonio
May 12, 2015

When I first heard of the term “thorium”, I thought someone was playing a word game on me.  If “thorium” is indeed a legitimate word and rooted on “thor”, what’s going on here?  Previous to this, I have always known “Thor” as one of my favourite heroes among the Avengers.

“Thor is a fictional superhero that appears in American comic books published by Marvel Comics.  The character, based on the Norse mythological deity of the same name, is the Asgardian God of Thunder and possesses the enchanted hammer Mjolnir, which grants him the ability of flight and weather manipulation amongst his other superhuman attributes.”  (Wikipedia)  Those of you who have watched the movie series “Thor” and “Avengers” are most likely familiar with Thor as I also knew him.

But wait, does Thor really have anything to do with thorium except for the freak coincidence of labels?  “Thorium is a chemical element with the symbol Th and atomic number 90.  A radioactive metal, thorium is one of only four radioactive elements that still occur in quantity in nature as a primordial element (the other three being bismuth, plutonium and uranium).  It was discovered in 1828 by the Norwegian mineralogist Morten Thrane Esmark and identified by the Swedish chemist Jons Jakob Berselius, who named it after Thor, the Norse god of thunder.”  (Wikipedia)

Thorium, until lately, has been used as an energy source to fuel machines.  “The thorium fuel cycle is a nuclear fuel cycle that uses the isotope of thorium, 232Th, as the fertile material.  In the reactor, 232Th is transmutated into the fissile artificial uranium isotope 223U which is the nuclear fuel.  Unlike natural uranium, natural thorium contains only trace amounts of fissile material (such as 231Th), which are insufficient to initiate a nuclear chain reaction.  Additional fissile material or another neutron source are necessary to initiate the fuel cycle.  In the thorium-fuelled reactor, 232Th absorbs neutrons eventually to produce 233U.  This parallels the process in uranium breeder reactors whereby fertile 238U absorbs neutrons to form 239Pu.  Depending on the design of the reactor and fuel cycle, the generated 233U either fissions into situ or is chemically separated from the used nuclear fuel and formed into new nuclear fuel.”  (Wikipedia)  This, if scientifically safe and acceptable, does seem to be an alternative source of power and energy.

Yesterday, I ran across an article (link: that encourages the idea of thorium being used in cars; the sales pitch was:  “This car runs for 100 years without refuelling and it runs on Thorium.”…

“If your car was powered by thorium, you would never need to refuel it.  The vehicle would burn out long before the chemical did.  The thorium would last so long, in fact, it would probably outlive you.  That’s why a company called Laser Power Systems has created a concept for a thorium-powered car engine.  The element is radioactive, and the team uses bits of it to build a laserbeam that heats water, produces steam, and powers an energy-producing turbine.  Thorium is one of the most dense materials on the planet.  A small sample of it packs 20 million time more energy than a similarly-seized sample of coal, making it an ideal energy source.  The thing is, Dr. Charles Stevens, the CEO of Laser Power Systems, told Mashable the thorium engines won’t be in cars anytime soon.  “Cars are not our primary interest,” Stevens said.  “The automakers don’t want to buy them.”  He said too much of the automobile industry is focused on making money off of gas engines, and it will take at least a couple of decades for thorium technology to be used enough in other industries that vehicle manufacturers will begin to consider revamping the way they think about engines.  “We’re building this to power the rest of the world,“ Stevens said.  He believes a thorium turbine about the size of an airconditioning unit could more provide cheap power for whole restaurants, hotels, office buildings, even small towns in areas of the world without electricity.  At some point, thorium could power individual homes.  Stevens understands that people may be wary of Thorium because it is radioactive --- but any such worry would be unfounded.  “The radiation that we develop off of one of these things can be shielded by a single sheet off of aluminium foil,” Stevens said.  “You will get more radiation from one of those dental X-rays than this.”

More research and development is perhaps needed to ease the scepticism of people on nuclear energy… whatever is the sort of application that is intented.  In the meantime, Laser Power Systems and Mr. Stevens will have their work cut out for them.  They surely will have a hard time convincing people about the safe use of radioactive materials such as thorium.

Just my little thoughts…

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