Sunday, June 28, 2015

Effects of Underground Water Overuse

by Anton Antonio
June 15, 2015

“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.” (Antonio, 2014) 

The most visible sources of fresh water are rivers and lakes.  But this is not all because there is more than 20 times as much water stored within the ground as in all lakes and rivers combined.  More often, in many parts of the world, underground water had to be pumped out to meet the huge demand for water (domestic consumption, industrial and agricultural use).

There are many effects of underground water overuse and over pumping.  This article, however, will focus on only two: (1) the lowering of the water table, therefore reducing water supply; and, (2) land collapse in a process called subsidence (meaning: the gradual caving-in or sinking of an area of land).  In San Joaquin Valley, California, USA, an experiment was conducted and it resulted to the discovery that excessive pumping for irrigation led to nearly 30 feet of subsidence in the span of 50 years.

Global warming has gradually increase sea level due to melting polar caps.  With the sea level gradually increasing because of global warming and the ground level sinking because of subsidence, it should be a worrisome day when these two phenomena meet somewhere.  But before this event comes to pass, let us consider alternative measures towards water conservation… or we will surely experience the effects of underground water overuse.

Just my little thoughts…

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Antonio, A. C. (2014). “How Much Water Do We Have?”. Retrieved on June 15, 2015 from

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Are You Sure You Know What You're Doing?

by Anton Antonio
June 28, 2015

I woke up to a big headache and running nose today… I guess it was caused by the changing weather system.  Wanting to stay in bed for a little bit more this morning, I just used my mobile phone to check on my Facebook notifications.  While scrolling the newsfeed, I noticed that a considerable number of my FB friends have changed their profile pictures to one that still have their former profile pictures but with a “rainbow flag” superimposed on them.  Converting old profile photos to this new one is made easy by simply clicking on a link.

The “rainbow flag” is being used by gay rights activists who are in the forefront of championing same-sex marriage.  I’m really wondering if netizens are doing this --- changing their profile pictures on Facebook --- as a manifestation of support for gay rights and same-sex marriage; or, they simply think this is just a fad (meaning: an intense and widely shared enthusiasm for something, especially one that is short-lived and without basis in the object’s quality; a craze).

Here is a quickly researched material on same-sex marriage: 

“Same-sex marriage (also known as gay marriage) is marriage between two people of the same sex.  Legal recognition of same-sex marriage of the possibility to perform same-sex marriage is sometimes referred to as marriage equality, equal marriage or gender-neutral marriage by supporters.  The legalization of same-sex marriages is characterized as “redefining marriage” by opponents.  Same-sex marriages can be performed in a secular civil ceremony or in a religious setting.

Same-sex unions have been recorded in the history of a number of cultures, but marriages or socially-accepted unions between same-sex partners were rare or nonexistent in other cultures. In the late 20th century, religious rites of marriage without legal recognition became increasingly common. The first law providing for marriage of people of the same sex in modern times was enacted in 2001 in the Netherlands. As of 26 June 2015, eighteen countries ( Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States and Uruguay) and certain sub-jurisdictions allow same-sex couples to marry. Similar laws in Finland, Ireland and Slovenia are not yet in force. Polls show rising support for legally recognizing same-sex marriage in the Americas, Australia and most of Europe.  However, with the exceptions of South Africa and Israel, no country in Africa or Asia recognizes same-sex marriage.  In addition, various faith communities around the world support allowing same-sex couples to marry or conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies.”  (Wikipedia)

We all agree that people do things for a reason… but I really do not know why some (Philippine-based) netizens have been changing their Facebook profile pictures supportive of the same-sex marriage movement.  I also do not know if this “rainbow flag”-Facebook profile picture thing is just a craze or fad.  I can only ask the question: Are you sure you know what you are doing?

Just my little thoughts…

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

Friday, June 26, 2015

Establishing Solar Power Plants

by Anton Antonio
June 12, 2015

Carbon emission is the biggest contributory factor to global warming.  The worldwide acceptance of this fact has triggered a mad rush towards alternative forms of energy.  Renewable energy largely harness the potential resource from geothermal, hydropower, biomass, wind, ocean, and solar.  Solar power is definitely an ideal source of renewable energy considering the lengthy average annual sunlight in the Philippines.  But what is the price that has to be paid to establish solar power plants?

Solar power technology is quite expensive at present.  While the rich countries can afford it, developing economies, on the other hand, are hard-pressed to cough out enough financial resources avail of this technology.  In time, as with most new technology, production cost for new technologies will go down and everyone can access them.

In the case of Currimao, Ilocos Norte, where a 20-megawatt solar project is in the works, there are other issues and concerns.  Over 60 hectares of forest land and over 1,000 fully grown trees has to be cleared to make way for the solar panels as part of the infrastructure.  The main solar plant is not much of a problem as it requires a reasonable area for it to be built on.  The area where the solar panels will be laid out, however, requires a considerably large area.

With all these problems confronting the establishment solar power plants especially the issue of “space”, what then would be the best way forward?  Sacrificing forestlands should be last in the list of priorities… if it should be in the list at all.  But there surely are other alternatives.  My little thoughts bring me to: (a) the utilization of idle, non-productive areas; and, (b) altering existing irrigation canals.  Irrigation canals have no other purpose but to provide a distribution of water to farmlands.  Laying solar panels on top of irrigation canals will also prevent evaporation which also translates to reduced systems loss for the irrigation system.

There really are a lot of workable alternatives to simply cutting and clearing trees.  Solving the problem of sufficiency in energy by creating other problems (such as carbon sequestration capacity, quality air, etc.) will only equate to more problems.  Other ecological and environmental concerns must be settled before establishing solar power plants.

Just my little thoughts…

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

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Relationship Between Culture and Pollution

by Anton Antonio
June 7, 2015

Most environmental problems are anthropogenic (meaning: man-made) and products of man’s activities.  However, environmental problems can also be caused by culture… man’s traditional beliefs and attitude and society’s values system.  The development of certain cultural traits is rooted and heavily influence by man’s need to survive.  The need to survive, on the other hand, compelled man to control nature.  Domesticating fauna and flora during the Neolithic Age is proof of man’s desire to conquer the natural world.

Man’s discovery of fire is the element that brought about the early beginnings of pollution.  Advances in technology, especially during the industrial revolution, moved the production of pollution even further and faster.  The rise of science and technology in the 18th Century had little concern for the environment as the greenhouse effect, global warming and climate change were still not in the consciousness of man.  Modern economics and capitalism, which are based on profits as the primary consideration and motivation, did more harm and damage to the environment and natural resources utilization.  And as all these culture-building activities continued, pollution also continued to increase.

For a better understanding of the relationship between culture and pollution, the following articles may be worth reading:
  1. "Acculturation” by Antonio, A. C. (2015)
  2. “Cultural Assimilation” by Antonio, A. C. (2014)
  3. “Cultural Determinism” by Antonio, A. C. (2015)
  4.  “Culture and Environment” by Antonio, A. C. (2014)
  5.  “Culture and Society” by Antonio, A. C. (2014)
  6. “Culture: An Adaptive Mechanism” by Antonio, A. C. (2015)
  7.  “Effects of Pollutants” by Antonio, A. C. (2014)
  8. “Interrelated Component Parts of Cultures” by Antonio, A. C. (2014)
  9. “Pollution” by Antonio, A. C. (2014)
  10. “Significance of Culture” by Antonio, A. C. (2015).

The concept of sustainable development introduced in the last decade of the 20th Century has significantly changed worldviews on human responsibility towards the environment.  Such paradigm shift has also triggered a change in the cultural systems all over the world.  But changing cultures should translate to real changes in the way people treat Mother Earth.  If not, pro-environmental mindsets like this will be useless narratives about the relationship between culture and pollution.

Just my little thoughts…

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Applicable Values

by Anton Antonio
May 21, 2015

“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.”  (Antonio, 2015)  In environmental science and the economics of upland resources, the following values are equally important:
  • Market Value – Market value is the amount for which a good or service can be sold on a particular market.  The price of a good or service in a purely competitive market situation is indicative of the value of such good and service to both the seller and the buyer.  The condition by which seller will part with his good and service largely depends on the profitability of the transaction.  On the other hand, the buyer will only give up his money, in exchange for a particular product or service, if such good and service bring him satisfaction.  Market prices equates to market value.
  • Social Value – Social values form a critically important part of the culture of a given society.  Social values, norms and institutions explain the best way by which social process systems operate in a given society.  Social value reflects the real and perceived worth of anything to society as a whole.
  • Value in Use – The value in use pertains to the value of a property based on its use and usefulness.  This implies zero value of something not useful and, on the other hand, a positive value (depending on the degree of usefulness) for something that has value application.

There are other values that apply to upland resources.  These, however, are the more relevant applicable values.

Just my little thoughts…

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Antonio, A. C. (2015).  “Concept of Values”.  Retrieved on May 21, 2015 from

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Electric Tricycles

by Anton Antonio
June 22, 2015

Today marks the launching of the electric tricycles (e-trikes) at the Diliman campus of the University of the Philippines.  This program is a definite move forward towards minimizing the carbon footprint of UP Diliman.

This environment-friendly means of transportation, According to Nestor Castro, who is overseeing the trial operation of these e-trikes, “The vision of UP Diliman is to go green in the next five years.  This will be a test of its feasibility”.  He added: “We will look at power consumption, speed, maintenance, whether it can handle the terrain and the volume of passengers, among other things”.  This study is being done in coordination with the UP National Center for Transportation Studies.  The advantage in using e-trikes is the ease in recharging where ordinary electric wall outlets could be used.  If the program is deemed feasible, a grant could be requested from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for the purchase of additional e-trikes.

Additional application for e-trikes are: (a) UP Diliman Police use for more police visibility and security efficiency enhancement; (b) UP Campus Maintenance Office for more mobility and quick response in the emergency and maintenance-related missions; (c) UP Office of the Campus Architect for inspection of ongoing projects; and, (d) shuttle service for faculty and administrative staff such as the library and university registrar.

“e-kot” is a new UP Diliman campus term that has just been added to the popular “ikot” and “toki”… thanks to the electric tricycles.

Just my little thoughts…

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


Inquirer, (2015). “Electric Tricycles to go on Test Run at UP Diliman Campus”.  Retrieved on June 22, 2015 from 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Angelia Gabrena Ong

by Anton Antonio
June 20, 2015

Angelia Gabrena Ong was crowned Miss Philippines Earth 2015 last May 31, 2015 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.  She accepted her crown and sash from Miss Earth 2014, Jamie Harrell.  Angelia will be representing the country in the international Miss Earth competition later this year.

In 2012, she moved from Iloilo City to Manila to continue her studies in Marketing Management at the De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde.  Angelia works as a part-time consultant at Manila City Hall and a marketing firm.  Born on June 27, 1990, the 24-year old expects to graduate this October.

Angelia finished second runner-up at the Miss Manila beauty pageant in 2014 and was awarded People’s Choice Face of the Bb. Pilipinas pageant in 2011 where she represented Iloilo City.

Angelia’s elemental court are: Miss Philippines AIR, Chanel Olive Thomas from San Antonio, Nueva Ecija; Miss Philippines WATER, Catherine Joy Marin from Bago City; Miss Philippine FIRE, Carla Angela Valderrama from Siniloan, Laguna; and, Miss Philippines ECO-TOURISM, Jona Sweett from Iloilo City.

As Miss Philippines Earth, Angelia’s advocacy would be to minimize carbon footprint through Organic Urban Agriculture and/or Sustainable EcoTourism.  Angelia recently engaged the assistance of Anton Antonio, from a group known as The UPlanders, to enhance her already admirable level of knowledge relating to the environment.  The UPlanders is composed of graduates, students and members of the faculty of the University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) of Los Banos, Laguna who are involved in the practice of environment and natural resources management.  Antonio is also a member of a group of social media pro-environment advocates and activists known as the Pro EARTH Crusaders.  The UPlanders and Pro EARTH Crusaders are committed to support Miss Philippines Earth 2015, Angelia Gabrena Ong.

Just my little thoughts…

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


Inquirer, (2015). “Manila Lass Crowned Miss Philippines Earth 2015”.  Retrieved on June 20, 2015 from

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Environmentally Sustainable Burials

by Anton Antonio
June 9, 2015

“Humus is a dark, organic material that forms in soil when plant and animal matter decays.  When plants drop leaves, twigs, and other materials to the ground, it piles up.  This material is called leaf litter.  When animals die, their remains add to the litter.  Over time, the litter decomposes.  This means it decays, or breaks down into its most basic chemical elements.  Many of these chemicals are important nutrients for the soil and organisms that depend on soil for life, such as plants.  The thick brown and/or black substance that remains after most of the organic litter has decomposed is called humus.  Earthworms often help mix humus with other minerals in the soil.  Humus contains many useful nutrients for healthy soil.” (Antonio, 2014)  This introductory narrative on humus or plant and animal matter decays could also apply to humans.  This is also called “green burial”.

For those who believe in environmentally sustainable burials aimed at helping make soil fertile and healthy, there now is an alternative.  The process is simple.  Human cadavers or corpse are wrapped in simple shrouds instead of non-biodegradable metal caskets and the use of non-toxic, formaldehyde-free embalming fluids.  This veers away from the traditional practice of embalming with toxic chemicals, or encasement in fancy steel caskets, sealed off from decomposing bacteria.

Advocates of green burial or environmentally sustainable burials argue that this will also help decrease land use conversion to cemeteries and memorial parks.  As an alternative, forest areas will be developed where green burials could be made.  Environmentally sustainable burials could enhance growth of the forest.  This objective, although a “hard sell”, highlights the importance of forest resources to improving biodiversity and ecology.  For additional information, please click on this link:

Green or environmentally sustainable burials may be contrary to a lot of worldviews, customs and traditions.  But for diehard nature lovers and ecology advocates, this is the best way to go… by way of green burials and environmentally sustainable burials.

Just my little thoughts…

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


Antonio, A. C. (2014). “Humus”. Retrieved on June 9, 2015 from

OZY.COM (2015). “Fast Forward: Dead + Gone + Green”.  Retrieved on June 9, 2015 from

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Father's Day

by Anton Antonio
June 20, 2015

Every 3rd Sunday of June, we, Filipinos, celebrate “Father’s Day”.  To better understand this American tradition and annual event, let’s check on the history and rationale of “Father’s Day” (

“Father’s Day is a celebration honoring fathers and celebrating fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society.  Many countries celebrate it on the third Sunday of June, though it is also celebrated widely on other days by many other countries.

HISTORY:  Father’s Day was inaugurated in the United States in the early 20th century to complement Mother’s Day in celebrating fatherhood and male parenting.

FIRST OBSERVANCE:  Grace Golden Clayton may have been inspired by Anna Jarvis’ crusade to establish Mother’s Day; two months prior, Jarvis had held a celebration for her dead mother in Grafton, West Virginia, a town about 24 kilometers away from Fairmont.  After the success obtained by Anna Jarvis with the promotion of Mother’s Day in Grafton, West Virginia, the first observance of a “Father’s Day” was held on July 15, 1908, in Fairmont, West Virginia, in the Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church South, now known as Central United Methodist Church.  Grace Golden Clayton was mourning the loss of her father when, on December 1907, the Monongah Mining Disaster in nearby Monongah killed 361 men, 250 of them fathers, leaving around a thousand fatherless children.  Clayton suggested her pastor Robert Thomas Webb to honor all those fathers.  Clayton’s event did not have repercussions outside of Fairmont for several reasons, among them: the city was overwhelmed by other events, the celebration was never promoted outside of the town itself and no proclamation was made in the City Council.  Also two events overshadowed this event: the celebration of Independence Day July 4, 1908, with 12,000 attendants and several shows including a hot air balloon event, which took over the headlines in the following days, and the death of a 16-year-old girl on July 4.  The local church and Council were overwhelmed and they did not even think of promoting the event, and it was not celebrated again for many years.  The original sermon was not reproduced in press and it was lost.  Finally, Clayton was a quiet person, who never promoted the event or even talked to other persons about it.

ESTABLISHMENT OF A HOLIDAY:  In 1910, a Father’s Day celebration was held in Spokane, Washington, at the YMCA by Sonora Smart Dodd, who was born in Arkansas.  Its first celebration was in the Spokane YMCA on June 19, 1910.  Her father, the Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart, was a single parent who raised his six children there.  After hearing a sermon about Jarvis’ Mother’s Day in 1909 at Central Methodist Episcopal Church, she told her pastor that fathers should have a similar holiday honoring them.  Although she initially suggested June 5, her father’s birthday, the pastors did not have enough time to prepare their sermons, and the celebration was deferred to the third Sunday of June.  Several local clergymen accepted the idea, and on 19 June 1910, the first Father’s Day, “sermons honoring fathers were presented throughout the city.  However, in the 1920s, Dodd stopped promoting the celebration because she was studying in the Art Institute of Chicago, and it faded into relative obscurity again, even in Spokane.  In the 1930s, Dodd returned to Spokane and started promoting the celebration again, raising awareness at a national level.  She had the help of those trade groups that would benefit most from the holiday, for example the manufacturers of ties, tobacco pipes, and any traditional present to fathers.  By 1938 she had the help of the Father’s Day Council, founded by the New York Associated Men’s Wear Retailers to consolidate and systematize the commercial promotion.  Americans resisted the holiday for its first few decades, viewing it as nothing more than an attempt by merchants to replicate the commercial  success of Mother’s Day, and newspapers frequently features cynical and sarcastic attacks and jokes.  However, said merchants remained resilient and even incorporated these attacks into their advertisements.  By the mid-1980s, the Father’s Council wrote that “Father’s Day has become a Second Christmas for all the men’s gift-oriented industries”.  A bill to accord national recognition of the holiday was introduced in Congress in 1913.  In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson went to Spokane to speak in a Father’s Day celebration and wanted to make it official, but Congress resisted, fearing that it would become commercialized.  US President Calvin Coolidge recommended in 1924 that the day be observed by the nation, but stopped short of issuing a national proclamation.  Two earlier attempts to formally recognize the holiday had been defeated by Congress.  In 1957, Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith wrote a proposal accusing Congress of ignoring fathers for 40 years while honoring mothers, thus “singling out just one of our two parents”.  In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day.  Six years later, the day was made a permanent national holiday when President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972.  In addition to Father’s Day, International Men’s Day is celebrated in many countries on November 19, for men and boys who are not fathers.

SPELLING:  In the United States, Dodd used the “Fathers’ Day” spelling on her original petition for the holiday, but the spelling “Father’s Day” was already used in 1913 when the bill was introduced to the U.S. Congress as the first attempt to establish the holiday, and it was still spelled the same way when its creator was commended in 2008 by the U.S. Congress.”

Clearly, Father’s Day is an American holiday and tradition.  But why is this Methodist-initiated tradition such a big hit in a predominantly Catholic Philippines?  Perhaps, the answer to this question is rooted on the extremely close (and oftentimes extended) family ties of the Filipino.  Perhaps, if the Americans did not promote it, the Filipinos will.  So… to all of us Pinoy fathers, “Happy Father’s Day!”

Just my little thoughts…

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

Friday, June 19, 2015

Pope Francis' Climate Change Encyclical

by Anton Antonio
June 19, 2015

The Encyclical of Pope Francis on climate change is a 180-page document that calls on the rich nations to pay their “grave social debt” to poorer countries and lambasts the UN climate talks for lack of progress.  Pope Francis called on global leaders and individuals to dedicate themselves to curbing climate change and ending policies and personal habits that are destroying planet Earth.

Pope Francis’ encyclical (meaning: a papal letter sent to all bishops of the Roman Catholic Church) taught us the following:
  1. POPE FRANCIS THINKS WE SHOULD PHASE OUT COAL.  While renewable power from wind and solar gets up to speed as a solution to our energy needs, it’s worth considering gas over coal, he said: “We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels --- especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas --- needs to be progressively replaced without delay.  Until greater progress is made in developing widely accessible sources of renewable energy, it is legitimate to choose the lesser of two evils or to find short-term solutions.”
  2. POPE FRANCIS THINKS THE UN CLIMATE TALKS HAVE FAILED TO ACHIEVE MUCH.  He says more than 20 years of summits have produced “regrettably few” advances on efforts to cut carbon emissions and rein in global warming.  The encyclical says: “It is remarkable how weak international political responses have been.  The failure of global summits on the environment makes it plain that our politics are subject to technology and finance.  There are too many special interests, and economic interests easily end up trumping the common good and manipulating information so that their own plans will not be affected.”
  3. POPE FRANCIS DOES NOT LIKE CARBON TRADING.  In this passage, he seems to be referring to the only current global carbon trading scheme, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM):  “The strategy of buying and selling “carbon credits” canlead to a new form of speculation which would not help reduce the emission of polluting gases worldwide.  This system seems to provide a quick and easy solution under te guise of a certain commitment to the environment, but in no way does it allow for the radical change which present circumstances require.  Rather, it may simply become a ploy which permits maintaining the excessive consumption of some countries and sectors.”
  4. POPE FRANCIS LIKES COMMUNITY ENERGY.  From his point of view, small and local is beautiful:  “In some places, cooperatives are being developed to exploit renewable sources of energy which ensures local self-sufficiency and even the sale of surplus energy.  This simple example shows that, while the existing world order proves powerless to assume its responsibilities, local individuals and groups can make a real difference.”
  5. POPE FRANCIS IS NEITHER PRO NOR ANTI GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOOD.  It is difficult to make a general judgement about genetic modification.  The risks involved are not always due to the techniques used, but rather to their improper or excessive application.  This is a complex environmental issue.
  6. POPE FRANCIS THINKS CONSUMPTION IS A BIGGER PROBLEM THEN POPULATION.  Perhaps unsurprisingly given the church’s stance on birth control, and in common with many environmentalists, he thinks consumption rather than overpopulation is the bigger environmental problem:  “To blame population growth instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some in one way of refusing to face the issues.”
  7. POPE FRANCIS SAYS iPHONES AND ALL OUR OTHER GADGETS ARE GETTING IN THE WAY OF OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH NATURE:  “Real relationships with others, with all the challenges they entail, now tend to be replaces by a type of internet communication which enables us to choose or eliminate relationships at whim, thus giving rise to a new type of contrived emotion which has more to do with devices and displays than with other people and with nature”.
  8. POPE FRANCIS THINKS THAT OUR GIFT TO THE NEXT GENERATION MAY BE DESOLATION:  “We may well be leaving to coming generations, debris, desolation and filth.  The pace of consumption, waste and environmental change has so stretched the planet’s capacity that our contemporary lifestyle, unsustainable as it is, can only precipitate catastrophes, such as those which even now periodically occur in different areas of the world.  The effects of the present imbalance can only be reduced by our decisive action, here and now”.

The underlying message the encyclicals of Pope Francis shares to everyone (of the same faith or not) is that if we do not act now to resolve climate change and other environmental ills, we leave a compounding crisis to future generations.  The action that we take must come soon and must be real, substantial and a true global effort.  Or else, only the blind could read and the deaf hear Pope Francis’ climate change encyclical.

Just my little thoughts…

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The Guardian, (2015). Eight Things We Learned from the Pope’s Climate Change Encyclical”.  Retrieved on June 19, 2015 from

Jose Protasio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda

by Anton Antonio
June 19, 2015

154 years ago today, Jose Rizal, our National Hero, was born.  Doing a research on Jose Rizal is like jumping into a lake without sinking simply because the lake is full of information… there’s just too much information about the man in the Internet.  Luckily, I surfed on a link ( that seems to have some lesser-known information about the man together with important and significant events and accomplishments in his life…

Jose Rizal was a man of incredible intellectual power, with amazing artistic talent as well.  He excelled at anything the he puts his mind to --- medicine, poetry, sketching, architecture, sociology… the list seems nearly endless.  Thus, Rizal’s martyrdom by the Spanish colonial authorities while he was still quite young was a huge loss to the Philippines, and to the world at large.  Today, the people of the Philippines honor him as their national hero.

EARLY LIFE:  On June 19, 1861, Francisco Rizal Mercado and Teodora Alonzo welcomed their seventh child into the world at Calamba, Laguna.  They named the boy Josw Protasio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda.  The Mercado family were wealthy farmers who rented land from the Dominican religious order.  Descendants of a Chinese immigrant named Domingo Lam-co, they changed their name to Mercado (“market”) under pressure of anti-Chinese feeling amongst the Spanish colonizers.  From an early age, Jose Rizal Mercado showed a precocious intellect.  He learned the alphabet from his mother at 3, and could read and write at age 5.

EDUCATION:  Jose Rizal Mercado attended the Ateneo Municipal de Manila, graduating at the age of 16 with highest honors.  He took a post-graduate course there in land surveying.  Rizal Mercado completer his surveyor’s training in 1877, and passed the licensing exam in May 1878, but could not receive a license to practice because he was only 17 years old.  (He was granted a license in 1881, when he reached the age of majority.)  In 1878, the young man also enrolled in the University of Santo Tomas as a medical student.  He later quit the school, alleging discrimination against Filipino students by the Dominican professors.

RIZAL GOES TO MADRID:  In May of 1882, Jose Rizal got on a ship to Spain without informing his parents of his intentions.  He enrolled at the Universidad Central de Madrid.  In June of 1884, he received his medical degree at the age of 23; the following year, he also graduated from the Philosophy and Letter department.  Inspired by his mother’s advancing blindness, Rizal next went to the University of Paris and then the University of Heidelberg to complete further study in the field of ophthalmology.  At Heidelberg, he studies under the famed professor Otto Becker.  Rizal finished his second doctorate at Heidelberg in 1887.

RIZAL’S LIFE IN EUROPE:  Jose Rizal lived in Europe for 10 years.  During that time, he picked up a number of languages; in fact, he could converse in more than 10 different tongues.  While in Europe, the young Filipino impressed everyone who met him with his charm, his intelligence, and his mastery of an incredible range of different fields of study.  He excelled at martial art, fencing, sculpture, painting, teaching, anthropology, and journalism, among other things.  During his European sojourn, he also began to write novels.  Rizal finished his first book, Noli Me Tangere, while living in Wilhemsfeld with Reverend Karl Ullmer.

NOVELS AND OTHER WORKS:  Rizal wrote Noli Me Tangere in Spanish; it wa published in 1887 in Berlin.  The novel is a scathing indictment of the Catholic Church and Spanish colonial rule in the Philippines.  This book cemented Jose Rizal on the Spanish colonial government’s list of troublemakers.  When Rizal returned home for a visit, he received a summons from the Governor General, and had to defend himself from charges of disseminating subversive ideas.  Although the Spanish governor accepted Rizal’s explanations, the Catholic Church was less willing to forgive.  In 1891, Rizal published a sequel, titled El Filibusterismo.

PROGRAM OF REFORMS:  Both in his novels and in newspaper editorials, Jose Rizal called for a number of reforms of the Spanish colonial system in the Philippines.  He advocated freedom of speech and assembly, equal rights before the law for Filipinos, and Filipino priests in place of the often-corrupt Spanish churchmen.  In addition, Rizal called for the Philippines to become a province within Spain, with representation in the Spanish legislature (the Cortes Generales).  Rizal never called for independence for the Philippines.  Nonetheless, the colonial government considered him a dangerous radical, and declared him an enemy of the state.

EXILE AND COURTSHIP:  In 1892, Rizal returned to the Philippines.  He was almost immediately accused of being involved in the brewing rebellion, and was exiled to Dapitan, on the island of Mindanao.  Rizal would stay there for four years, teaching school and encouraging agricultural reforms.  During that same period, the people of the Philippines grew more eager to revolt against the Spanish colonial presence.  Inspired in part by Rizal’s organization, La Liga, rebel leaders like Andres Bonifacio began to press for military action against the Spanish regime.  In Dapitan, Rizal met and fell in love with Josephine Bracken, who brought her stepfather to him for a cataract operation.  The couple applied for a marriage license, but were denied by the Church (which had excommunicated Rizal).

TRIAL AND EXECUTION:  The Philippine Revolution broke out in 1896.  Rizal denounced the violence, and received permission to travel to Cuba in order to tend victims of yellow fever in exchange for his freedom.  Bonifacio and two associates sneaked aboard the ship to Cuba before it left the Philippines, trying to convince Rizal to escape with them, but Rizal refused.  He was arrested by the Spanish on the way, taken to Barcelona, and then extradited to Manila for trial.  Jose Rizal was tried by court martial, charged with conspiracy, sedition and rebellion.  Despite a lack of any evidence of his complicity in the Revolution, Rizal was convicted on all counts and given the death sentence.  He was allowed to marry Josephine two hours before his execution by firing squad on December 30, 1896.  Jose Rizal was just 35 years old.

JOSE RIZAL’S LEGACY:  Jose Rizal is remembered today throughout the Philippines for his brilliance, his courage, his peaceful resistance to tyranny, and his compassion.  Filipino school children study his final literary work, a poem called Mi Ultimo Adios (“My Last Goodbye”), as well as his two famous novels.  Spurred on by Rizal’s martyrdom, the Philippine Revolution continued until 1898.  With assistance from the United States, the Philippine archipelago was able to defeat the Spanish army.  The Philippines declared its independence from Spain on June 12, 1898.  It was the first democratic republic in Asia.  Freedom was the legacy left by Jose Protasio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda.

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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Torre de Manila

by Anton Antonio
June 18, 2015

Torre de Manila, a condominium building project of David M. Consunji, Inc. (DMCI), has been hugging the front pages of most newspapers lately.  But what really happened here?  How could the construction of a 47-storey building go on with all the controversies surrounding it?  A news agency (GMA Network News) came up with the following timeline:
  • June 19, 2012 – Zoning permit was issued.
  • July 5, 2012 – Building permit was issued.  The City Council urged the City Building Official to temporarily suspend the building permit of Torre de Manila because of a complaint by Carlos Celdran.
  • May 24, 2012 – The Manila Council conducted a hearing on Torre de Manila but the resolution was not acted upon because of the lack of participation of the local executive, and because of the nearing elections.
  • After May 2013 – Manila Councilor DJ Bagatsing filed a resolution instructing the City Building Official to temporarily suspend the building permit of Torre de Manila because of the public outcry.  During the local council hearings, it was discovered that: (a) with respect to the national and local law, there was no violation in obstruction of the Rizal Monument; and, (b) with respect to the Floor Area Ratio and the Percentage of Land Occupancy of City Ordinance 8119, there was a violation.  Torre de Manila has a floor area-ratio of 7.79, while the building should only be allowed a maximum floor-area of 4 because it is situated within Manila’s Institutional University Cluster.
  • November 26, 2013 – The Mania City Council approved the suspension of the building permit of Torre de Manila.  DMCI then filed an appeal to the City Planning which was forwarded to the Manila Zoning Board of Adjustment and Appeal.
  • January 16, 2014 – A resolution exempting the development from the zoning requirements was adopted by the City Council of Manila.
  • January 24, 2014 – The Manila Zoning Board of Adjustment and Appeals approved the construction of Torre de Manila after DMCI appealed for an exemption to the local zoning law.
  • August 6, 2014 – Sen. Pia Cayetano, chair of Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture, filed Senate Resolution 824 which prompted a senate investigation on the matter.
  • September 12, 2014 – The Knights of Rizal filed a 26-page petition before the Supreme Court seeking to stop the construction of Torre de Manila.  Aside from a temporary restraining order to suspend construction, the group asked the SC to order the demolition of whatever is standing on the lot.
  • January 15, 2015 – National Commission for Culture and the Arts issued a cease and desist order on the Torre de Manila, citing the obstruction of view of the Rizal Shrine.
  • February 2015 – The Supreme Court has ordered the NCCA to explain why it stopped the construction of Torre de Manila.
  • June 16, 2015 – The Supreme Court, on an 8-5 vote, issued a temporary restraining order to the construction of Torre de Manila.
  • June 30, 2015 – An oral argument was set on the issue.

The timeline could only give us a general sense of what really happened.  But should we really care for details when there are only two possible scenarios in this case: (1) the Supreme Court ruling in favor of the complainants --- Carlos Celdran, Knights of Rizal and National Commission for Culture and the Arts --- which may lead to the possible demolition of Torre de Manila; and, (2) the Supreme Court Ruling in favor of DMCI that will allow the completion of Torre de Manila.  From the culture and arts standpoint, Scenario No. 1 has a justified case while Scenario No. 2 should respect and encourage free enterprise in a democratic economy such as the Philippines.  But is there a “middle ground” or what is commonly called “win-win situation” where both parties can meet in compromise?

My little thoughts have a wild idea.  What if DMCI re-designed the west wall of Torre de Manila to show on its facade a huge Philippine flag?  (Please see accompanying image on the right.)  Will this be the middle ground or win-win solution?  This will allow Torre de Manila to fit the view of the Rizal Shrine and will no longer be the “pambansang photo bomber” (meaning: someone who either intentionally or unintentionally ruins an otherwise normal photo).  Anything less will simply mean saying goodbye to Torre de Manila.

Just my little thoughts…

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gmanetwork news, (2015). “Infographic: The Torre de Manila Controversy.” Retrieved on June 18, 2015 from

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Clogged Waterways

by Anton Antonio
June 16, 2015

After publishing the article titled “So What Else Is New?” on my blogsite and my Facebook page last June 8, 2015, I became distraught by some of the narratives from my fellow netizens and bloggers.  The commentaries revolved around (a) poor flood control project management, (b) graft and corruption, (c) screwed-up project priorities, (d) failed solid waste management practices, etc.  I should say all these causes are valid and people have the right to whine about the trouble, damage and inconvenience that they have to bear with floods.  The only encouraging light is that people seemed to be well-informed of our current state of affairs.

Wanting to provide a photo to illustrate the biggest reason for the recurring problem of flooding, I started searching and researching.  Finally, I found one which was a photo from a shared link on Facebook by my friend Kerr Viuya Lim of Tarlac City.  (Please see the accompanying photo to this article.)

Meaningful pictures do paint a thousand words.  This particular one shows the volume of solid waste that has been disposed off in this estero and the informal settler dwellings built on this waterway that has shrunk and impeded its ability to provide continuous flow of water/rainwater.

Nature has provided us with rivers, streams, esteros and other forms of waterways as a natural drainage system to prevent flooding.  But these waterways could only function if they are not impeded by infrastructure or used for other unworldly purpose such as a community garbage dump.

No amount of engineering intervention such as the Department of Public Works and Highway’s (DPWH) floor control project will ever work unless these waterways are restored back to their old form… therefore, (a) freed from silt, and (b) cleared and widened from all structures.  Anything less will only result to our perennial problem of flooding cause by clogged waterways.

Just my little thoughts…

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Antonio, A. C., (2015). “So What Else Is New?”. Retrieved on June 16, 2015 from

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Mount Pinatubo and Mount Bulusan

by Anton Antonio
June 16, 2015

The eruption of Mount Bulusan today suddenly brought back memories of Mount Pinatubo.  Why?... because both volcanoes erupted at almost exactly the same day in June 1991 and 2015.

“Mount Pinatubo is an active stratovolcano in the Cabusilan Mountains on the island of Luzon, near the tripoint of the Philippine provinces of Zambales, Tarlac, and Pampanga.  Before the volcanic activities of 1991, its eruptive history was unknown to most people.  It was heavily eroded, inconspicuous and obscured from view.  It was covered with dense forest which supported a population of several thousand indigenous people, the Aetas, who fled to the mountains during the Spanish conquest of the Philippines.  The volcano’s Plinian/Ultra-Pinian eruption on June 15, 1991 produced the second largest terrestrial eruption of the 20th century after the 1912 eruption of Novarupta in the Alaska Peninsula.  Complicating the eruption was the arrival of Typhoon Yunya (Diding), bringing a lethal mix of ash and rain to areas surrounding the volcano.  Successful prediction at the onset of the climactic eruption led to the evacuation of tens of thousands of people from the surrounding areas, saving lives, but the surrounding areas were severely damaged by pyroclastic flows, ash deposits, and subsequently, by the lahars caused by rainwaters re-mobilizing earlier volcanic deposits causing extensive destruction to infrastructure and changing the river systems months to years after the eruption.”  (Wikipedia)

Mount Pinatubo is the second-largest eruption of the 20th century, and by far the largest eruption to affect a densely populated area, occurred on June 15, 1991.  Today, June 16, 2015, exactly (or almost exactly) 24 years after Mount Pinatubo erupted, Mount Bulusan erupted too.

“Mount Bulusan, or Bulusan Volcano, is the southernmost volcano on Luzon Islands in the Republic of the Philippines.  It is situated in the province of Sorsogon in the Bicol region, 70 kilometers southeast of Mayon Volcano and approximately 250 kilometers sountheast of the Philippine capital of Manila.  It is one of the active volcanoes in the Philippines. Bulusan is classified by volcanologists as a stratovolcano (or a composite cone) and covers the northeast rim of Irosin caldera that was formed about 40,000 years ago.  It has a peak elevation of 1,565 meters above sea level with a base diameter of 15 kilometers.” (Wikipedia)

When the dates of eruption of these volcanoes are compared, one can only marvel at the timing of the eruption of Mount Pinatubo and Mount Bulusan.

Just my little thoughts…

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Wikipedia. “Mount Pinatubo”. Retrieved on June 15, 2015 from

Wikipedia. “Mount Bulusan”. Retrieved on June 15, 2015 from

Monday, June 15, 2015

NIPAS Act: Definition of Terms

by Anton Antonio
May 26, 2015

“The NIPAS Act stands for National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992.  Also known as Republic Act No. 7586, is “an Act providing for the establishment and management of National Integrated Protected Areas System, defining its scope and coverage, and for other purposes.” (Antonio, 2015)

In Section 4 of the NIPAS Act, several terms were defined which are very important in increasing the level of awareness on issues and concerns within protected areas, such as:
  1. “National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS)” is the classification and administration of all designated protected areas to maintain essential ecological processes and life-support systems, to preserve genetic diversity, to ensure sustainable use of resources found therein, and to maintain their natural conditions to the greatest extent possible;
  2. “Protected Area” refers to identified portions of land and water set aside by reason of their unique physical and biological significance, managed to enhance biological diversity and protected against destructive human exploitation;
  3. ”Buffer zones” are identified areas outside the boundaries of and immediately adjacent to designated protected areas pursuant to Section 8 that need special development control in order to avoid or minimize harm to the protected area;
  4. “Indigenous cultural community” refers to a group of people sharing common bonds of language, customs, traditions and other distinctive cultural traits and who have since time immemorial, occupied, possessed and utilized a territory;
  5. “National park” refers to a forest reservation essentially of natural wilderness character which has been withdrawn from settlement, occupancy or any form of exploitation except in conformity with approved management plan and set aside as such exclusively to conserve the area or preserve the scenery, the natural and historic objects, wild animals and plants therein and to provide enjoyment of these features in such areas;
  6. “Natural monuments” is a relatively small area focused on protection of small features to protect or preserve nationally significant natural features on account of their special interest or unique characteristics;
  7. “Natural biotic area” is an area set aside to allow the way of life of societies living in harmony with the environment to adapt to modern technology at their pace;
  8. “Natural park” is a relatively large area not materially altered by human activity where extractive resource uses are not allowed and maintained to protect outstanding natural and scenic areas of national or international significance for scientific, educational and recreational use;
  9. “Protected landscapes/seascapes” are areas of national significance which are characterized by the harmonious interaction of man and land while providing opportunities for public enjoyment through the recreation and tourism within the normal lifestyle and economic activity of these areas;
  10. “Resource reserve” is an extensive and relatively isolated and uninhabited area normally with difficult access designated as such to protect natural resources of the area for future use and prevent or contain development activities that could affect the resource pending the establishment of objectives which are based upon appropriate knowledge and planning;
  11. “Strict nature reserve” is an area possessing some outstanding ecosystem, features and/or species of flora and fauna of national scientific importance maintained to protect nature and maintain processes in an undisturbed state in order to have ecologically representative examples of the natural environment available for scientific study, environmental monitoring, education, and for the maintenance of genetic resources in a dynamic and evolutionary state;
  12. “Tenured migrant communities” are communities within protected areas which have actually and continuously occupied such areas for five (5) years before the designation of the same as protected areas in accordance with this Act and are solely dependent therein for subsistence; and,
  13. “Wildlife sanctuary” comprises an area which assures the natural conditions necessary to protect nationally significant species, groups of species, biotic communities or physical features of the environment where these may require specific human manipulations for their perpetuation.

These defined terms will certainly increase the level of awareness and knowledge on protected areas… NIPAS Act: Definition of Terms.

Just my little thoughts…

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Antonio, A. C. (2015). “NIPAS Act”. Retrieved on May 26, 2015 from
Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines. “Republic Act No. 7586”.  Retrieved on May 25, 2015 from

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The History of Pollution

by Anton Antonio
June 5, 2015

“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)  But how did pollution come into being; when did it all start?

The beginning of pollution cannot be ascertained although most literature about pollution point to the discovery of fire by man himself.  Some information, however, indicate that pollution has been an identified problem since the Middle Ages. 

The use of synthetic materials after World War II changed the pollution landscape significantly.  Industries began to manufacture products made of synthetic materials such as plastics, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and inorganic pesticides such as dichlorodiphenyl trichloroethane (DDT).  These materials, aside from being toxic, are non-biodegradable and accumulate in the environment.  These chemicals are also largely blamed for chronic diseases and have critically increased the incidence of cancers, physical birth defects, and mental retardation.  From the environmental standpoint, synthetic materials have contributed to the worrisome loss of biodiversity.

Pollution is also attributable to natural causes.  There is an accepted theory that the dinosaurs (of the Mesozoic Era) were wiped out by an asteroid that collided with Earth.  This occurrence created dust for an extended period of time that impaired photosynthesis… and, therefore, killing most plant life on Earth which subsequently starved the dinosaurs to death.  Just to properly describe and identify the Mesozoic Era… which is divided further into three periods: Triassic, Jurassic (which is the most familiar period), and Cretaceous.  But more than the natural causes, the more worrisome causes of pollution are man-made.

For more information on environmental pollution, please check on the following articles published in
  • “Coal Plant in Palawan?” (published: June 1, 2015);
  • “Effects of Pollutants” (published: May 29, 2015);
  • “Effects of Human Activities” (published: May 6, 2015);
  • “Something Good Will Happen” (published: December 24, 2014);
  • “Environmental Noise” (published: November 14, 2014);
  • “Biologically Dead” (published: October 28, 2014;
  • “Pollution” (published: September 25, 2014); and,
  • “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch” (published: August 3, 2014)

Again, pollution is not a new phenomenon; it has been with us since time immemorial.  Knowing its early beginnings is not that critical anymore compared to the knowledge and awareness of why it still exists today… with deadly consequences for that matter.  However, there is an old adage that says we need to study history so we are not doomed to commit the same mistakes.  Therefore, there is also a need to study the history of pollution.

Just my little thoughts…

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Antonio, A. C. (2014). “Pollution”. Retrieved on June 5, 2015 from

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Salt + Water = Energy

by Anton Antonio
June 8, 2015

“Salt + Water = Energy” is not a new formula that could be likened to Albert Einstein’s famous “E=mc2” equation.  Let’s try something at little bit fancier… this equation could also be expressed like this:  “J = NaCl + H2O”.  Well, whatever it is, is just what it is… “salt plus water equals energy”, period.

“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.” (Antonio, 2015)  This is indeed a worrisome theory that sets all of us asking “So what’s next after the oil fields dry up?”

It is for this reason that increasing effort is being focused in looking for alternative sources of energy.  But awareness of sustainable development strategies is leading technological efforts towards renewable forms of energy such as solar, wind and water.

The Philippines, having only two weather systems is a good place to develop solar energy programs.  Wind is also a possibility as the Bangui, Ilocos Norte windmills have proven.  But water remains to be a more attractive prospect since our country Philippines is an archipelago and, therefore, has bodies of water surrounding its 7,100 islands.  Another reason to be happy in developing water energy prospects is the fact that The Philippines has a coastal line of 36,751 kilometers; the 5th longest in the world.  If saltwater is an asset, it is something we have in abundance along our coastline.

Filipino coastal villages and communities have reasons to be excited.  A Filipina engineer and social worker, Aisa Mijeno, invented a container that could produce light from an LED bulb for eight hours from two tablespoons of salt and a glass of water.  The lamp is equivalent to the lumens of seven candles.  For more details, please click on this link:  Further development of this technology could only be towards the use of sea/saltwater to fuel such invention.

Accessing the use of sea/saltwater as a means to electric energy puts the Philippines at an advantage because of our archipelagic geography.  This funny sounding equation or formula may yet be as famous as Einstein’s “E=mc2”… salt + water = energy.

Just my little thoughts…

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Antonio, A. C. (2014). “Peak Oil”. Retrieved on June 9, 2015 from (2015). “Filipina Invents Lamp That Uses Salt and Water”.  Retrieved on June 9, 2015 from

Friday, June 12, 2015

Urban Agriculture

by Anton Antonio
June 11, 2015

Urban agriculture is the practice of cultivating, processing, and distributing food in or around an urbanized area such as a village, town, or city.  These activities also occur in peri-urban (meaning:  are landscape interface or transition zones between the suburbs and the countryside or immediately adjourning an urban area) areas as well.  Within a highly urbanized setting, urban agriculture could be a better alternative to “green roofs” with the planting of vegetables instead of ornamental plants… also called “edible landscaping”.  Among the production technologies related to urban agriculture, aside from “edible landscaping” (the use of plants in the residential landscape for both aesthetic and food production purposes), are “green riprapping” (the interfacing of edible vine-type plants on a loose assemblage of broken stones erected in water or on soft ground as a foundation), “aquaponics” (a food production system that combines conventional aquaculture with hydroponics in a symbiotic environment), and “container gardening” (the practice of growing plants exclusively in containers instead of planting them in the ground).

The most common technology used in the practice of urban agriculture is “container gardening” because of its convenience, simplicity and low maintenance costs.  “Green riprapping” and “aquaponics”, on the other hand, may not apply to most urban dwellings and quite expensive to set up.

Urban agriculture has many benefits.  To name a few: (1) improves biodiversity and a mitigating measure to climate change; (2) supports the government’s clean and green program; (3) boosts the food security program; (4) improves health and nutrition with the use of organic agriculture principles; (5) supports recycling programs with the use of plastic containers; (6) provides fresh air and exercise for family members; and, (7) affords additional income and savings in the family budget.

“Edible landscaping/container gardening on green roofs” seemingly is the best form of urban agriculture and the ideal technology application in the Philippine setting.  My colleague in environment and natural resources management, Jabez Joshua Flores, who teaches and advocates “organic agriculture”, would not stop and be satisfied with the simple application of “edible landscaping” and “container gardening”.  Jabez will always choose to go the “organic way” because of its added health value.  My simple prescription, however, is converting all open spaces to any form of “green activity” in an urban setting.  These could definitely reduce the carbon footprint of an urban area.  This, aside from the provision of food (and other benefits mentioned above), is perhaps the most important function of urban agriculture.

Just my little thoughts…

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Green Roofs

by Anton Antonio
June 3, 2015

“Environmental advocates study and research on environmental matters and issues and come up with plans and programs and the necessary legislation to effect such recommended changes and strategies.  Environmental advocates lobby for the repeal of irrelevant and out-dated environmental laws, look into the possibility of harmonizing present rules and regulations, and assist in crafting new legislation that shall be responsive to the pressing environmental needs and attuned to changes of time.”  (Antonio, 2014)

In most of the progressive countries in the world, “green legislation” is often a product of environmental lobbying.  More often, if a piece of legislation is being pushed by environmental advocates (usually organized in groups) who normally follow the participatory and consultative approach, these laws are easier passed.  A citizen/civil society-driven lobby is a very effective way of getting things done.

Lately in France, a new legislation mandated that all new buildings that are constructed in commercial areas must be partially covered by either plants or solar panels.  This new law was met with a high level of approval by the French as it conformed with their wish and desire to get involved in climate change mitigation efforts.  This new building design is called green roofs.

Green roofs help reduce the amount of energy needed to heat a building during winter or cool it in the summer.  Roofs covered by different species of flora also become sanctuaries for birds in the middle of an urban jungle.  On the other hand, for building owners who opt to install solar panels instead, they help provide the buildings with renewable energy… which contributes to less carbon footprint.

Here are some (of the many) benefits of green roofs or living roofs (
  1. Adding natural beauty and major aesthetic improvement to buildings, which in turn increases the investment opportunity.
  2. Helping contribute to landfill diversion by prolonging the life of waterproofing membranes, using recycled materials, and prolonging the service of heating, ventilation, and HVAC systems through decreased use.
  3. Green roofs assist with storm water management because water is stored by the substrate, then taken up by plants, and thus returned to the atmosphere through transpiration and evaporation. They also retain rainwater and moderate the temperature of the water and act as natural filters for the water that does run off. They delay the time at which runoff occurs, which results in decreased stress on sewer systems during peak periods.
  4. The plants on green roofs do a great job of capturing airborne pollutants and other atmospheric deposition. They can also filter noxious gasses.
  5. They open up new areas for community gardens, commercial and recreational space in busy cities where this space is generally quite limited.
France is definitely on the right track in being a model in synergizing public clamor into workable pieces of legislation.  Environmental problems are better addressed through the enactment of laws to institutionalize the desired solution.  These need not be complex laws… they just need to be effective… like the green roofs.

Just my little thoughts…

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Antonio, A. C. (2014).  “Environmental Advocacy”.  Retrieved on June 3, 2015 from

CS Globe. “France Declares All New Rooftops Must be Topped with Plants or Solar Panels”.  Retrieved on June 3, 2015 from