Making a Human Heart Nature Commitment

I have come to the party a little late, but here I am just the same. I finally signed up as a Human Heart Nature dealer. I’ve been buying a few of their products regularly for some time now (baby wash, facial wash, sunflower oil, lip balm), so I figured why not extend my patronage to the other products as well and get a regular discount in the process? Dealers get at least 15% discount depending on their sales, and while I really don’t expect to sell, I’m estimating that our household consumption will be enough to cover the minimum monthly purchase requirement to keep the discount. I also told our maids that they can use my discount in case they want to buy something for their own use or for selling to the neighbors here in our compound.

I registered last week through the online registration facility at their website and immediately received feedback from a sales associate. After a few email exchanges to facilitate some additional orders I had, I paid the amount due yesterday, and this morning, my dealer starter pack arrived! Continue reading

The Making of a Scientist

How Does a Child Become a Scientist

Dr. Lawrence Heaney is one of my favorite scientists, not only because of his work, but his obvious enthusiasm about it. I have had the opportunity to meet him several times and his passion for researching Philippine biodiversity as well as his energy in mentoring Filipino scientists is truly inspiring.

Dr. Heaney works with the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, and while he has studied other areas around the world, for him, the Philippines offers a fascinating natural laboratory and he has chosen this biodiversity-rich country as his major research area. He started researching here in 1981 and has come back almost every year to do field research, each trip a further opportunity to discover new things, collaborate with other Filipino scientists, and mentor young researchers. Continue reading

Blogging for education: my new blogging stint!

Officially put on another blogging cap today, as among the bloggers of the newly-launched blog of Dane Publishing, Inc.dane logo

Dane has been in the publishing business since 1987, producing textbooks, magazines, and other educational materials used in public and private schools. The blog is intended to supplement Dane’s roster of instructional classroom materials by featuring interesting content that teachers and students alike can check out. Thanks again to Blessie of Nanay Notebook for connecting me and other bloggers with Dane!

Not surprisingly, my first posts are environment-related, namely renewable energy and the Philippines’ new underwater territory Benham Rise. I see this blogging stint as another opportunity to write about topics such as these that are close to my heart, but I’m looking forward to exploring other topics as well. Hhmm, I wonder what those other topics can be? Any suggestions?

In the meantime, check out my posts and other interesting articles in the Dane blog!

Benham Rise Whale SharkFilipino scientists explore new underwater territory

Two years ago, the size of the Philippine territory grew by 13 million hectares, an area that is about three times the size of Luzon Island. (View full article)


Bangui windmillsPlugging in to renewable energy

Are you interested in getting electricity from the wind and the sun? Why not, right? Unlike coal, gasoline, or diesel, the energy from sources like the wind and the sun is clean, and what’s more, it’s free! (View full article)


For Shark Week: My Close Encounters with Sharks…

…are not nearly as exciting as one may think.

I mean, they were just sitting there. Of course I was careful not to make any sudden movements but still, basically they were just minding their own business.

whitetip shark, Tubbataha

whitetip shark, Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park. May 2010

But who am I kidding, of course I was excited! They’re sharks!

However, the next time I encountered sharks, it wasn’t exciting. It was sad. Continue reading

Environmental killjoys

at the risk of appearing totally vain, sometimes I come across my former writings and think, “Hey, that’s not too bad.” Or, in this case, “I wish this message gets out there more.” In the forests and in the streets of Metro Manila, a lot of trees are getting destroyed (by illegal cutting, typhoons or what-have-you). Let’s make it our business to make sure that the right trees are also being planted.

samu't saring buhay

Admittedly, being an environmentalist can make a killjoy out of you. In the same way that I can’t understand my vegetarian friends and sometimes make fun of them (“But cows are vegetarian, you should be able to eat them, right?”), my friends sometimes can’t really relate to how I refused to eat at McDonald’s for months because I heard that they refused to minimize their styrofoam use (courtesy of that email circulated by Gary Granada), or how I’d rather plan a nature trip to Batanes or Bohol than go on a shopping trip to Bangkok. Just the other day my sister, an Air Force pilot who’s currently stationed in Palawan, sent me an SMS telling me that my mother – my mother – has been repeatedly asking her to bring back a myna from Palawan. Bring back as in smuggle, you see. Smuggle back a threatened species that’s been captured…

View original post 534 more words

Selfie for Biodiversity

May 22 is the International Day for Biodiversity and to celebrate the event, the DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau and GIZ are holding a photo contest called Protecting the Reservoir of Life, Selfie for Biodiversity.

Yup, you read that right. The organizers are hoping to leverage the ubiquitous selfie as a way of getting people to celebrate biodiversity.

Selfies have been so popular that the Oxford Dictionaries declared “selfie” as the Word of the Year for 2013. And judging from my social media feeds, it looks like the selfie is still going strong.

Admittedly, selfies can be quite annoying, especially if done in excess. As in an entire Facebook album dedicated to just one selfie session one lazy afternoon. As in at least one selfie posted per day in all of one’s social media accounts. However, this contest wants you to make selfies that are not so, well, self-centered, by relating it to biodiversity.

Biodiversity is defined (also by Oxford Dictionaries) as “the variety of plant and animal life in the world or in a particular habitat, a high level of which is usually considered to be important and desirable.” In addition to living organisms, the UN definition also includes ecosystems (“ecological complexes of which they are part”) as part of the concept of biodiversity.

The Philippines has tremendous biodiversity resources, and really scientists have barely begun to scratch the surface.

Specifically, the contest seeks entries that “capture the true essence of biodiversity, why biodiversity is important, and explain how Filipinos can help conserve the Philippines’ rich biodiversity.”

Full contest mechanics HERE.

Now, I’m not that fond of selfies, and I’m not sure the judges would go for these, but here are some simple ideas for selfies for biodiversity:

Simple selfie for biodiversity concept #1. Selfie while holding a glass of water. Water is a vital benefit of healthy forests. Healthy forests are chockfull of biodiversity, and the whole system works to regulate our water supply. Bada bing, bada boom. Konek!

Extreme version: selfie while rappelling down a waterfall. E di ikaw na.


from the forests the nourishing waters flow. Mt. Mantalingahan Protected Landscape, Southern Palawan

Simple selfie for biodiversity concept #2. Selfie with a bug, or butterfly, or worm you found in your garden. Or selfie with an ant. Or selfie with a spiderweb, yes, preferably with the spider still in it. Because all living things have a role in the ecosystem, and we’re all connected, yes, like a web.

Extreme version: selfie while in the company of some humongous/rare/badass animal in its natural habitat. So for example you managed to snap a selfie while swimming alongside a whale shark in Donsol, then congratulations. We probably won’t be able to actually see the whole whale shark in the frame because after all it is a pretty big fish, but the judges will take your word for it. Maybe. Let’s see. But don’t go harassing wildlife just so you can get a selfie; that’s not badass, that’s just tacky.

responsible tourists keeping their distance

responsible tourists keeping their distance

Continue reading

Earth Day Post: Tipid Toys

So according to my Facebook feed, it’s Earth Day. I hadn’t realized. I’m not involved in any big Earth Day activity or event. Today is just another regular day spent at home taking care of the twins and working (or procrastinating), the usual stuff. However, in honor of Earth Day, I decided to do a round-up of recycled or unexpected baby toys that have amused or are still amusing our twins at one time or another. We don’t have a lot of store-bought toys, partly for economic reasons and partly out of sheer fear of finding space for them, so we make do with stuff found around the house. It saves us money, generates less trash, and almost guarantees that there’s always something new that the twins can explore. Win-win all around.

All mothers I think have at some point discovered and appreciated the entertainment powers of an empty box or piece of crumpled paper, while others have put together various household stuff into something that their kids can play with. This post honors those humble objects.

Ms. Pinky Mask

Ms. Pinky Mask

Ms. Pinky Mask. Ms. Pinky Mask was their first “toy.” Or rather, Ms. Pinky Mask when she was still inside a plastic bag. Newborns don’t really do much of anything in the first few weeks except feed, cry, and poop. They don’t even really start looking at things until a bit later. And we didn’t have a mobile yet then. Ms. Pinky Mask’s bright color and crinkly plastic sound was the first object my twins really started to pay attention to, their heads swiveling towards the sound and their eyes following it as I moved it around. It’s one of those little milestones that made this new mom ridiculously happy, and it came early enough in the game when I was probably still awash in post-partum hormones and leaking breastmilk, and didn’t get to shower as long or maybe even as often as I wanted to. It didn’t really take much to make me happy at that point.


little drummer girl

Empty Piknik canister. Empty anything, actually. Empty Mineral water bottle. Empty paper cup. Empty toy boxes. Empty biscuit tins. It’s all fair game. You use up something and then toss the container to the baby (maybe wiping it down with your shirt or even washing it if you’re feeling extra magnanimous) and it will keep her happy for a few minutes (or 30 seconds if it’s not your lucky day).

2013-10-12 13.22.53

I bet she just wishes she can get some cookies

DIY slot toy using old formula can and mineral water bottle caps. One of the few ideas I got off Pinterest that I was actually able to make, adapting by using stuff lying around the house. Minus, of course, the crafty/creative bent. The real Pinterest moms would go the extra mile and decorate the can with washi tape and stuff.

slot toy

no time for washi. no washi for that matter

Probiotics supplement bottle and box. This has been popular for a week or so now, so it’s a good thing that we have several. The paper info thing will go in the box, then the bottle, then they’d shake the whole thing a bit, then take out the bottle, take out the paper, and repeat. It’s amazing how much quiet time I’ve been able to get out of this one.


thank you biobita

Wedding buckets and bottle caps. The buckets we used as decoration and container of messages from our wedding guests are now their toys, paired with the caps of the premature-size feeding bottles that they had to use in their first couple of weeks.


instant basket and instant stacking cups


tago si Ulap

Good old-fashioned lampin/burp cloth. Seriously an all-around performer. It has many functional uses, but for play it’s great for instant hide-and-seek/peek-a-boo.

Anything that can be put on top of their heads or my head or whoever’s head that happens to be available. It’s an old trick of my Mom’s. I used to watch her do it for my nieces more than a decade ago, and I watch her do it for my kids now. For all I know she did it for me when I was a baby. She’d balance something on top of her head, intone “Tinda sa bayaaan…” then tip her head causing the thing to topple down, and she’d cry “Ay! Nahulog!” Apparently it’s quite amusing. I’m a lazy mommy so sometimes I make the twins do it, I’d say the “Tinda sa bayan” line and they’d hold a toy on top of their head, then hurl it down themselves when I come to the “Ay!” part. Good times, good times.

Sometimes I do get around to buying real toys, but there’s a different kind of satisfaction at watching the kids play with repurposed stuff. Kuripot na, maka-kalikasan pa! Happy Earth Day 🙂