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ON CLIMATE CHANGE IN MINDANAO

climate change

The increase in the volume of rain fall in Mindanao, as felt in most towns of Eastern Mindanao indicates the following climatic situations:

  1.  There are less vegetation to absorb and retain water hence as a natural course, water evaporates.
  2. Roots of hardwood trees which have a capacity to hold on water almost 200 liters per tree, when felled would let go of its retention capability and exposes the water to the elements.  As a natural course, it joins other exposed water for evaporation.
  3. The number of lumber derived from logging (both illegal and legal), cutting down hardwood trees wantonly or otherwise, contribute to deforestation and therefore exposes the soil to the elements and further squeezes whatever water it retains.  When hundred trees are felled, hundreds of thousand liters of waters are released, well, again for evaporation.
  4. Once water is accumulated to form as cloud becomes heavy, it pours and returns back the hundred of thousand liters of water down on the ground.  If the soil is loose, landslide becomes the order of the day.  On low lying areas, instant flood is noted.

flooded areas

  1. Considering the fact that lands are slowly transformed into subdivision and related housing communities, usually done without plan, would disturb the natural flow of water.  When a housing village is filled up, it closes the natural formation of land where water flows, resulting in blockage.  Flashfloods immediately appears.

baha 2

  1. Weather watchers are even baffled.  At a time when they have declared that the El Nino phenom is about to commence, the reverse happen.  Drought is expected but La Nina came as a matter of course.
  2. Even wind velocity would change its course as a consequence of cloud formation.  It reroutes air flow and when it is blocked by a phalanx of clouds filled with evaporated water, it literally constricts the air flow and a low pressure area noted.  When it transgresses the formation, the compounded air becomes a storm.
  3. In other words, climate change is not a natural occurrence.  It is a consequence when nature is reformed by man, who is also a part of nature.  Although he is a part of nature, he always reinvents it for his purpose.
  4. Hence, climate change as indicated in an equatorial island like Mindanao.

“END OF THE WORLD”

end of the world

  1.  While it is true that the prediction of some Doomsday scenario followers did not come true, there is a lesson somewhere which is very basic.
  2. The cult-like prediction merely reminded everyman, the humanity as a whole, that indeed there is an end to everything.  It may come either on a predicted date or through a Mayan inspired superstition, whatever, but the proposition remains the same.  Life ends for everyone, no exemption.
  3. Life ends, time stops, the world is at a standstill.  History is concluded, current events terminated.  That is exactly what it foretells after death, after demise, after fall.  Mortality is written everywhere whether it is etched in stone (like in the ancient Mesoarmerican long-count calendar of the Mayan-Mexican tribe) or that which has been prophesied in the Bible (Daniel: 8:14 “ “Unto two thousand and three hundred days, then shall the sanctuary be cleansed,”).
  4. For the youth, it signals a beginning, a rebirth, a continuation of life.  For those in their twilight years, it is the coming of a finale, a closure, a definition of a hallmark, of going back to where all souls are,  a grand conference with the Creator.
  5. It has been said that the end of the world has been determined as early as 5,000 years ago by a tribe in Mexico, a community which has achieved quite an advanced procedure in estimating, using astrology, the fulfillment of an event.  Such event foretells cataclysm of a grand proportion.
  6. If at all this signifies an important phase in the life of man, it could also mean that after 5,000 years man would have been very different from how he was before.  And indeed, he was already a changed being.  He has a capacity to cure himself through sciences.  He has a capacity to communicate in seconds in every part of the earth.  He can even travel to other planets.
  7. Short of man translating into reality what could have been considered as mysterious before and probably is charting the means to transform what at present can only be understood as miracle, mankind is still processing and concluding certain stages he refers to as “end of the world.” scenarios.  It could very spell as an end, and end of the world full of ignorance on the sciences, an end of the world full of hatred, an end of the world full of sorrows, an end of the world replete with animosities.  And a new world where mortality is addressed, war declared as obsolete and love reigns.
  8. That is what “end of the world” possibly means.

LOOKING FOR ISSUES

I write daily and it has been automatic for me as soon as I get up from bed.  First, I make a summary of what I will do for the day, comparing notes which I have done the previous day.  Then, I open my computer and internet to check on the latest news and opinion, the editorial most especially and some updates on sports.  Having been refreshed with the current situation, I would check my Facebook account for some mundane concerns.  Facebook offers tremendous, almost real time, update on what is going on not only around but on matters directly affecting friends and close relatives.  Having navigated a stream of concern in 30 minutes, I am prepared to write my piece.  This is sent and submitted to my blog site, my very own—http://www.philippineprisons.com.

My blog site is a personal window for my varied expressions.  And for quite some time it attracted a following, meager though it may be, but for me it is already an audience.  Sharing my essays through social network expanded further my audience and it goes without saying, stretched the sphere of my literary influence.  The comments I am constantly receiving were very generous and flattering.  And if I ever I would encounter a negative reply, it was mostly if not a direct response to the one who made a favorable comment on my piece.

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Climate Change Indicator

Climate Change Indicator

The recent (December 4, 2012) storm code named “Pablo” was a revelation for the island of Mindanao, especially for the entire denizens of Davao province.  Old folks swore that for the last 40 years, they have never experienced having a storm of this magnitude.  Davaoenos are familiar with rain drops as big as a bucket—-volume of rain in Davao for five minutes is equivalent to a half day downpour in Manila—but a storm packing with furious winds at 172 kph is a nightmare; especially so in an area mainly devoted to banana plantation.  The succulent banana tree could not withstand such wind velocity above 50 kph, how much more if it is somewhere above 100 kph.  The entire plantation would be blown down.  Instead of banana fruits, the province would be haven for mushroom production in a few weeks!

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I spent the last few days testing the waters of reading without writing.  As a matter of fact, I wallowed in the printed world for more than a week.  And why not.  The books that are available are too tempting to read, it is almost a crime to ignore and not to read those materials at all.  The book “Juan Ponce Enrile: A Memoir” is an engaging literary gem.  I found this book, 3 inches thick reference, a wonderful autobiography.  I almost forgot to sleep for two days just by reading through every statement written by an accomplished personality.  It revealed a period in Philippine history of which I am an active part.  The book really is a treat.  I have just completed reading the biography of Steve Jobs of the Apple computer fame written by a professional biographer Walter Isaacson, one who also wrote the biography of Albert Einstein.  The Steve Jobs biography is also an arresting material.  These two books combined, almost palm size in thick, are noteworthy pieces of great eminence.  It contains almost all brilliant nuggets of wisdom.  Aside from describing prominent personalities and revealing their characteristic individuality, the book shared also a lot of secrets hitherto unknown.  While I have only read two books for the week, it was a very rewarding experience.  It is as if I have lived the lives of two important personalities that have inhabited the planet in a very remarkable way.

THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF LIFE

Science has improved its analytical and peripheral boundaries to the point of understanding even those matters considered taboo and beyond comprehension.  It has transcended the limits and it may even breach the unknown and undiscovered territories.  Of late, it has already understood the minutest details that define life, the molecules, particles and atoms that made life possible.  The only missing component is not an appreciation of the scientific treatise in furthering that which animates existence but the technical bravura in exploring, however brutal, on how life should be built.

In various laboratories, we find countless experimentation.  Mice, insects, rabbits, dogs, monkeys, name it, their innards are all studied meticulously and data counter checked with that which pertains human parts.  Response of various living things on a specific stimulation is also tested as against that which affects a human being.  Almost every conceivable test has been explored.  There are those that do not merit ethics and there are those too sensitive to divulge.  Nonetheless the road to extensive discovery is filled to the brim.  The future is overflowing with hope and possibilities.  Life as we know it today could mean another form of existence in the forthcoming period.

I have as yet to verify however if there are attempts in altering life.  There were successful experiments done on plants and it was some kind of a novelty.

I have to check whether these cacti’s lifespan has been changed though.  But from the looks of it, life can be altered according to one’s specification.  And if this can be done on plants, I think it could also be conducted on a human being.  There are even laboratory research where DNA can be studied in detail and revised accordingly to suit one’s preference.  Of late, DNA tests suggest a revelation on future physical predisposition of those who posess a set of genes and his proclivities.  From there  the next step could only border on speculation.  This situation can only be expressed however in films, in sci-fi novels and it is still within the realm of imagination.

There were notable experiments done during the war carried out by the scientific community, exploring on man’s body parts.  Medics of invading army on the guise of treating injured persons would pluck out from these ailing subjects, especially those arrested suspects to pluck out their parts, inter changed it and  then observed.  Livers, heart, internal organs, skin, eyes, extremities (even hair follicles) all were tugged and pulled out, yanked and tweaked if only to check whether it was medically possible to transplant body parts.  There were successful medical cases which has been concluded and highlighted in medical and scientific journals.

There was a time when the most delicate has been conducted already, that of heart transplant.  Now it is common place.  Another is open heart surgery where veins are used to replace ruined arteries in the heart or in such cases like cardiac catheterization.  And there are also kidney and liver transplants.  Science even went further by growing earlobes and noses in the laboratory using disks,  cells and other chemicals and then re-attached it on the body where it is needed.

Science is only a few years away from achieving the unthinkable—that of transplanting the entire body parts of a person into another thus saving and extending his life to achieve more years.  Parts may be grown in a laboratory flask, or on the person himself or through cloning and stem cell procedures.  This may take a little complicated scientific journey but this could be done.  The short cut and the most expedient may also be available by tapping the potential of the prison community.

Not that I am advocating the reduction on piece meal basis the body parts of prisoners but it is the most accessible in terms of sourcing.  This would border on horror and human rights transgressions if not properly conveyed but let us discuss the merits for scientific purposes.  If we cannot conceive of any plan to abolish imprisonment and replace it with alternative penal sanctions like community service and the like, we might as well look into how we can tap the vast resources of warm bodies deteriorating under the glaring tension of years under incarceration. 

Most offenders are sentenced to serve time for several years under tormenting schedule and afflictive situation.  Prolonged incarceration has a toll on the respiratory, nervous, digestive system of the person.  Imprisonment is one factor that could ruin and send a person to a debilitating circumstance.  Notwithstanding welfare provisions in the matter of treating prisoners humanely, the fact that his freedom is curtailed, his movements contained and even thought processes controlled, are enough to obliterate inhumanely whatever it is that makes the human body the temple it ought to be.  There must be some kind of a divine justice somewhere using certain equation.

If there is one offender for every one thousand law abiding citizens, I would even venture to say that there is also one mortally sick person for every one thousand healthy individuals.  Following this logic, I hope I am wrong, the prisoner can therefore through his body part contribute to that ailing law abiding citizen’s salvation.  This has been the usual tact why some time ago, a group of foreigners representing their principal sought medical intervention through procurement of body parts from prisoners.  This practise  was banned eventually.  Furthermore, there was a small town in a remote barrio where this has been a routine, until there was saturation.  Most of those in the town had surgical marks on their torso indicating medical procedure for organ donation.

This is not a treatise on organ donation but rather a call for calibrated study to explore the possibility of tapping the prison community, that wing where prisoners are given a gross penalty for prolonged sentences to ameliorate their sins through anatomical contribution.  Their respective prison terms would nonetheless devastate their bodies just the same notwithstanding years of rationed and government supported maintenance.

Science may one day surprise us with a medical bulletin that it can replace mechanically the entire body organs of one person thus leaving his brain to subsist and contribute wisdom for years and years to come.  And while prisoners may be considered as vile and bane, a dark spot in humanity, it can also be that beacon of light which hold the key to a bright future.

 

THE WAY TO DAVAO PENAL COLONY

It is not exactly the way to a resort or a zoo or a market place.  It is not even a park or a playground.  Davao Penal Colony (or Davao Prison and Penal Farm) is the second biggest prison facility in terms of land area and inmate population in the country.  And this is not actually a typical penal establishment where the entire population are confined and restricted into an enclosure of cemented fence combined with cris crossing combat wires.

Historical Past

Davao Penal Colony, once upon a time, was the biggest prison establishment in the country and during World War II became an imperial garrison by the Japanese invading army.  It has hidden historical role as when it confined and left untold atrocities among its denizens, mostly American servicemen who were imprisoned as POWs (Prisoners of War).  A recent book “Escape From Davao: The Forgotten Story of the Most Daring Prison Break of the Pacific War  by John D. Lukacs, detailed the suspenseful plight of those servicemen and how a few managed to escape and a fraction of those who evaded, survived the rigors and challenges in crossing the unforgiving and treacherous jungle surrounding the penal facility.

During said period, the regular prison was closed down and its administrative side transferred to Iwahig Penal Colony.  For a number of years, it was detention area commanded by the Japanese Kempetai or Special Forces.  That was its history, its past, its inglorious reputation.

When War time was over, it was reopened and the facility took another persona, that of a repository of excess prisoners from Manila.  Most of those sent to serve time were all members of unruly groups, the violent and incorrigibles.  In no time, gangs predominated the landscape of the prison camp.  And as certain as their aggressive predisposition to control the prison community, relationship bordered on cruelty and sadism.  There were fierce competition to rule and control among prisoners sending the prison authorities into feats of brutality and vicious response.  Those were heady and ferocious times when the daily count of death would average to 10.  Riots in this part of the prison system were the worst in the history penal administration.  As compared from the Davao prison, the Muntinlupa penitentiary rampage was kids play!  This was in the roaring 60s.

The first Public-Private-Partnership

Then an unthinkable happened.  A private company (Tagum Agricultural Development Corporation or TADECO) explored the possibility of conducting a joint agricultural venture with Davao Prison.  It was experimental to say the least.  While prisoners were bashing each other’s heads, running amuck and imposing dreaded violence against each other, with prison authorities left merely to record casualty and bury those who fell, a group of agriculturists were busy charting a farm that would introduce a crop which eventually would become the second biggest export in the country.  That was an ironical period in the life of an institution.  Where one faction decimates its enclave, another was pursuing for its salvation.

The succeeding chapter in the history of Davao prison was engulfed in some kind of contemplation.  Prison violence would erupt occasionally until it fizzled out, while the swamp and estuary areas enveloping the prison camp were being transformed into an ideal farm.  Prison administration and its prison community began to notice the transformation until eventually; they were lured into a productive pursuit, a collaborative effort in unison with development.  Until finally, an agreement was forged to organize a joint venture program.

A Template of Modern Corrective Practice

Under this program are prisoners conscripted and enrolled in a Tesda formulated farming course.  This is where qualified (soon-to-be-released or those under medium and minimum security status) inmates are immersed in agricultural based farming and provided with stipends equivalent to the wage of an agricultural farm worker in the free community.  Some released prisoners, already skilled in banana farm care and maintenance, are absorbed in Tadeco and other farms in nearby towns.

Dapecol has gone a long way.  From a dreaded and fearful penal complex to a highly productive center of learning where rehabilitation and reformatory programs highlight its mission and mandate.

While it was shunned as a place of terror before, now it is the template of reform programs where spirituality and education are its principal orientation.  Within its grounds stand the Shrine of Our Lady of Prisoners also.

Currently, it is the Mecca of corrective lessons, a social laboratory of Criminology colleges in the whole eastern Mindanao.

For those in living in the periphery of the town and those residing in Davao, Davao Penal Colony is within a vast banana plantation, considered the biggest in the world, although technically, it is the other way around.  The plantation is within the vast prison reservation of Davao Penal Colony.

Dapecol encroaches on three big local government subdivision, a city and two municipalities.  Panabo city on the western side, Dujali municipality on the eastern part, Sto Tomas Municipality on the northern area.  From Davao city, the de facto capital of Mindanao, it is 56 kilometers or an hour’s drive.  Its road distance from Manila is almost 1, 500 kilometers.  By land, it can be traversed for two days.  By sea, three days trip.

Dapecol Today

Dapecol is likewise an extraordinary community segregated by farms from nearby municipal areas.  In a highly predominant Visayan dialect province of Davao del Norte, it is the only enclave where Tagalog is the prevailing tongue.  More so, it is also the only penal establishment in the country where there is a camp for male and another camp for female offenders.

Those who have taken a glimpse and have visited the place had only fond memories of visiting an ordinary prison breathing in an extraordinary manner.

A BRAVE NEW WORLD :Letter to a Friend

Greetings my dear Pareng Joel,

Well, come to think about it, we are not that old yet.  I am in my late 50s and you in mid 60s only.    We still have an active life span stretching up to thirty and forty years more barring accidents or nature’s fury.    That’s an awful lot of time if we factor the technological advances we are enjoying and employing at the same time.

A year spent today may be equivalent to almost five years a generation ago.  Living through another three decades added unto our age means transcending three wholesome generations, assuming that each generation is ten years flat.  What to do with the remaining years is as exciting as what transpired before without the gadgets we have at present.

Today, we have advantages which our ancestors never had the opportunity of handling.  Now, we can communicate at a rate faster, much faster than before.  We can share our ideas to a number of recipients at the speed of sound.  We can get information instantly without leaving the bedroom.  We can even see places without lifting our feet.  Knowledge is common place and life itself can already be treated like an ordinary game.  The mystery and sacredness of living is within our reach.

While you were trying to contemplate on how to resolve economic concerns, you probably are enjoying also the freedom of exploring ideas without the benefit of organizational stress.  I fantasize about a period when I can think clearly without anyone forcing me;  I fantasize a time which is not borrowed.  I fantasize on working without anyone nagging for an accomplishment.

You have successfully gained enough autonomy from unnecessary responsibilities and your schedule follows closely that of a person living comfortably without restrictions and possibly with reckless abandon.  What a creative lifestyle.  Well, except for the annoying requirements of civilization which we must have to settle like water, shelter, electricity and a host of other trivial matters, everything from a perspective seems perfect.  It is one area I wish to explore and aspire to get into.

But it is unfortunate to hear that you will be conscripted into another structure to sustain your survival in the civilization.  Sana we could hit on something that would take care of those mundane considerations so that we will have all the grand time in the world tinkering with ideas and sharing it without hassles, pressures, timelines and strains.  I have as yet to get out from the morass of organizational life and would like to jump out into the dizzying loveliness of freedom.  In your case, you have it and you have done it.  It’s just a pity that you are saddled with a lot of concerns delimiting your capacity to concentrate on other creative pursuits.  I may also encounter the same challenges with less thrills if I would follow suit without safety nets.

Nonetheless, I look forward to that day when we both would be out there conquering the world like Socrates (who was 85 when he started), Col Sanders (who at 68 began his Kentucky Fried Chicken),  Deng Shiao Peng (who at 86 began to rule China and pushed it to become a world economic power), and a lot more.

Regards and best wishes.

 

SECRETS IN GENERATING ENERGY

 

Nature is astounding.  It is the source of everything any living thing needs.  As a matter of fact, all matters including mankind belongs to nature, no exemption.  Nature therefore sustains every living thing and in a perceptive manner, every non-living thing everywhere.  Nature however is not existing in isolation.  It is composite.  And it begins somewhere.

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That somewhere is light.  Remember the Biblical expression “Let there be light!”?  That’s it.  Nature begins with the sunlight and it continues from there.  Those exposed to the sun are healthier than those who are not.  Such explains the fact that in ancient times, most tribes worship the sun.  It triggers growth, it promotes clarity, it provides stability.  That part of our planet exposed to a liberal dose of sunlight is the most vegetative, most active and have a generous filling of minerals and precious materials.

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Let us therefore admit that the Sun is the most important element of nature.  Let us even assume that sunlight is also the most potent source of energy.  Science has even discovered that sunlight regulates everything and promotes balance in any living thing.  Sunlight in other words is where energy is expressed and applied.

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Let us have a simple experiment, a viable, easy and an uncomplicated one.  In the tropics like the Philippines, sunlight begins at 6:30 in the morning.  At seven o’clock AM it is an idyllic ray, a perfect lighting any professional photographer would admit.  At this time, sunlight is never harsh on the skin; it is even an ideal one.  Vitamin D is liberally sprayed.  And here is the experiment.  Stand where the sun is shining but do not look directly at the light.  Close your eyes.  Make a deep breath through your nostrils; hold on for three seconds, and then exhale slowly through your mouth.  Do not open your eyes yet.  Slowly turn your head to the right, while your eyes, despite the fact that it is closed, rotate focusing on the sunlight.  After three seconds, turn back to the usual position and slowly turn to the other side.  Do not open your eyes.  Continue with the breathing exercises, then slowly turn your head from one angle to another, until you feel the warmth of the sun.  Then bow your head.  Slowly open your eyes.  Look around you and you will be amazed at your surroundings.  You will definitely appreciate the colors, the green leaves, the bluish shades, the cracking yellow, the pinkish red, every where the colors are unmistakably fresh.  You have charged your body and energized your entire being.  Your day started correctly.

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