Saturday, 1 August 2015

The Ocean Floor Is Like Our Lungs We Can Not See

The oarfish washed in Antique, Panay Island Philippines Photo by Nickson Calawag
I am writing about what my fellow Ilonggo Rock Drilon has posted on facebook about a deep water sea fish called Oarfish washed the second time in nearby province of Antique which is beside my hometown Iloilo. It is a rarity, even in many parts of the world, oarfishes are washed on shoreline.  

Why this oarfish surfaced on the beach, I have some probable reasons why.

1. The quality of land will affect the quality of the sea especially the ocean floor—the bed rock of our garbage and pollutants. Human recklessness to nature invades the unseen. Contaminants can harm any living creature.
Plastic mistaken as food, suffocates them and they die

The so called Great Pacific Garbage Patch -an accummulation of non-biodagradable plastics from all over the world can kill all  the animals on the ocean floor with irreversible effects.

MATERIAL GREEDINESS. What if all of us citizens of the world sort our garbage than these kids will do the job for us?

2.  The ocean floor is the barometer of our geological conditions including
tremors and earthquakes. Nature itself can tell what is next to happen, like frogs croaking for the rain to come. Oarfishes in Japan indicate there will be a forthcoming earthquake.

    3, Climate change. It has been a fact that because of global warming, sea creatures are confused in which some fishes find themselves alienated to the ocean conditions and migrate to where it is not their geographical abode. , ex. Tropical Lion fishes living only in Indo-Pacific Ocean have migrated to the  Western Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico. It is something a mystery to scientists until today.     

4. Man inflicting injury on sea creatures with materials things including broken fish nets and ropes. I assume looking at the picture the oar fish is highly battered with physical injuries and its head gone. Oarfishes are deep ocean fish and swims slowly ( due to its length and heavy weight) and can be carried by under currents and washed to shallow waters. Global warming is also on the ocean floor where nature can take its toll without us detecting it. Animals there can. 

Scientists may have to trace where the Antique oarfish came from, ex., from which sea? Japan? South China Sea? 

Possible causes this fish was washed to the shore:
(1)      The Simirara Island mining in Antique may have its chemical pollutants in the ocean floor as well and it affected it. It has its huge problems in environmental compliances in many years as news reported it.
The ocean floor is like our hands we can see from the outside but what is really happening inside we may not know.

(2)      This fish was most likely  trapped in a strong broken fish net in the ocean floor ( as they are deep sea creatures) and or ate plastic garbage, it died, and washed away. (SEE MY COMPILED PICTURES).

Broken fishnet traps the animal forever

Clear plastic are mistaken as jelly fishes and some fish will eat them to their death, 
(3)      Old age ( perhaps battered by ocean floor movements ex, tetonic plates, so it died).Ex, we had recent earthquakes and tremors in the country and abroad.

(4)      Seeking for food that is no longer there in the ocean. Oarfishes actually just eat small crustaceans. So when we deplete them, or any other fishes,  with their food it is because we abuse the food cycle of marine creatures by over fishing what could have been food for them.
If men were to eat plastic as well?

It is a principle in environmental science that WHAT WE  SEE IS ONLY ON LAND, BUT WE DO NOT SEE IS UNDERNEATH THE OCEAN. This is the most dangerous lesson man should learn from  our abuses on land, that our ocean bed is the catch basin of all of pollutants and plastic garbage.

Ergo, all cities in the Philippines being a coastal country, including Iloilo City which has mounds of unsorted garbage including plastics should create awareness and implement zero dangerous wastes dumped on land and may eventually end up to the ocean.

 If one visit the areas near Sooc, Arevalo it is full of plastic scattered all over the place and rice fields. Sooc connects to Iloilo River and up until the Iloilo Straight (between Guimaras and Panay Islands) on to the sea and on to the ocean. Nature is not confined. It is an eco-system like our human body. Got a tootache? Your entire body can not function as well. 

I work as a volunteer in Sooc and created a project there called Project Zero to upcycle used tarps and plastics in the city. Yet the entire Iloilo City and others in Panay except Boracay Island do not segregate its garbage yet. Let us not wait until the super cities in the old Iloilo airport rises to fill up our garbage bins with yet unsorted garbage.

Our solid waste management is not in place as I saw a facebook complaint about the methane gas emitted in Calajunan dumpsite in Iloilo City. Our landfills have pernicious smell and full of hazardous elements as we do not segregate our daily wastes at all. All batteries, corrosive materials and plastics are mixed up with biogradable garbage which could be recycled, ex, backyard garden fertilizers,  and need not be collected by trucks which will reduce Iloilo City its costs of hauling solid wastes to the dumpsites. There are easy solutions. It starts from our own homes. We dispose our garbage properly remembering we do not, our friends in the ocean will just all die. 

I once wrote in facebook, the litters at the Iloilo City port which may be thrown by the locals and the tourists. And by its sheer promixity to the ocean, will all settle in the ocean floor. I suggested then in that post that the City should already impose  an anti-littering bill, having been successful with its anti-smoking bill. A tooth for a tooth because others are so stubborn. Of course, I personally will be happy, if the city stops all its fondness for tarpaulin billboards placing them just at any possible empty spaces including our plazas. I recently posted in my facebook this concern.

In Boracay, no one will collect our garbage if they are not segregated at all. I can attest to that becuase I am a business owner, member of Boracay Foundation and resident there for years.  We commissioned the UP Visayas College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences to study the marine eco-system of Boracay . The scientists gave it a very good grade for its ocean floor which is very clean. Its corral reefs and sea grasses are very healthy.  But on the ocean floor, they collected garbage specimen of “Chippy”, “Boy Bawang”, “ Stork”, “ Snow Bear” plastic wrappers and department store  plastic shopping bags--- all of them are of close affinities to locals who throw these on land and washed to the sea. Of course, these can be mistaken as food by sea creatures. In Hawaii, not a single plastic is allowed. In Makati, there is a stiff penalty for stores using plastic bags except on  wet food items.
Man's material greediness eaten by animals

Add caption

Oil spill in Guimaras Island

I was commissioned by the Metro Manila Development Authority and the Manila Mayors Spouses Association with  CITEM to create livelihood through Crafts Ecology in all Metro Manila districts by upcycling garbage to useable utilities. It is also teaching citizens the importance of  how our ocean will suffer with our garbage on land.

As member of the Society for Sustainable Tourism and Development Inc (SSTDI) with pilot project in Coron, Palawan teaching all to attain excellence in sustainable development, environmental conservation and stewardship to help mitigate climate change by implimenting green solutions. it starts from people being educated on this concern and this becomes an everday habit, not really imposing archaic rules which usually become co-terminus with public office. 

I share with you all some of my lecture slides related to the symbiotic relationship of land and sea which I presented to the organic rice farmers of Zarraga Integrated Diversified Organic Farmers Association in Iloilo last week. It taught them the value of sustainability being not confined to any specific territory rather as a matter of global concern with each dot connected to one another.The farmers appreciated how they need to stop horrendous amounts of  chemicals and pesticides for decades which certainly can be washed off shore and will affect the quality of water in our ocean, too,  to an irreversible effects to all animals in the sea.  I shared with them the principle that "Anything thrown on Earth, will stay on Earth, they will not be thrown to the Moon or planet Mars". They will remain with us. 
If not balanced well, it will collapse.
To some, the oarfish washing in Antique can be an ominous sign-giving the impression that somthing bad is going to happen. We will lose nothing if we are warned ahead of time.

PJ Aranador is a graduate of Biological Sciences from the University of the Philippines. He was the past consultant of Go Green Philippines with projects on upland and marine conservations in Cebu City. He is one of the current consultants to the United States Agency for International Development Advancing Philippine Competitiveness (COMPETE)on key industries (Tourism, Agribusiness, Manufacturing) Component.  He was the design consultant on sustainable and green manufacturing for MSMES for the Iloilo Provincial Government projects on Northern Iloilo Local Economic Development (LED) with DTI-Iloilo.  His advocacy for green and sustainable design for better life in communities by helping his own people made him return in residency in Iloilo City.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

TUBUK: Heritage Needlecraft of Iloilo

"Handicrafts are like mirrors of our soul. They do not only anchor us who we are and where we were coming from but also tell stories of people who make them from very far away land."

The exquisite century old crafts of Bukidnon,Iloilo hinterlands, Panay Island. ( PHOTOS by ARES POCO BALCARSE) 

When I did a little research on the net about Tubuk, there is none. Perhaps this one of the reasons why I have been pursuing to write this on my blog so knowledge about this crafts will be sustained in the future. The first time I heard about this craft was from Mr. Bombette Marin, of  the Iloilo Provincial Tourism Office who gave me some pictures from his archives.

I have been looking for a fuller collection to photograph. Eureka, I found one at the Sta. Barbara Centennial Museum when my high school classmate Irene Magallon,who is the museum director, merged our ideas to drum up the museum in time for the recently held Independence Day celebration of the Republic of the Philippines  held in the historic town, the first outside of Luzon Island.  I curated the museum with Ares Balcarse as volunteers and the first we did was the Tubuk because we thought this is really a unique craft from Iloilo unknown to many. It is a permanent exhibit at the museum, one reason why one should visit it. 

Monday, 23 February 2015

Iloilo City Philippines Culinary and Gastronomic Experience at Wawa PJ Aranador Heritage Restaurant PHOTO BLOG PART 1 of 4

Wawa, owned by international lifestyle designer PJ Aranador,  is known as Iloilo's better traditional home-cooked style restaurant which offers stylish heritage cuisine that are worth one's gastronomic experience. It advocates the slow food movement in the support of local farm produce and appreciation of local culture through understanding its food. It does not use anything imported in its ingredients. Thus, its food is low carbon impact. It is famous for its beautiful interiors made from sustainable materials. 

At Wawa, we do not only create, we innovate food. Ours is traditional cuisine yet contemporary in feel. Experience an authentic gastronomic experience at Wawa--where food is not only a pleasure to the tastebuds but to the eyes as well. 

Begining this SUMMER 2015, we have introduced new dishes to our ever-favorite ones. More information at facebook wawa pj aranador heritage restaurant or click here at
A top favorite, Amapalaya in Filipino or Amargoso in Ilonggo is a dish which reminds one of sudden family gathering when the "madre de familia" will whip up something everybody will not complain about and enjoy it. The mystery of the dish is, many do not like to eat 'Amargoso" as raw salad, yet once paired with beef, it becomes everyone's dish without an a blink of an eye!

Baby squid adobo Wawa style is sprinkled with famous Iloilo roasted garlic. Enjoyed with spicy papaya salad and piping hot pandan rice.

Wawa's most - sought after dish. Squid-ink moist steamed rice in smorgasboard with seafood simply sauteed in fresh farm tomatoes, Spanish-style. Presto, a meal is just heartful of delight.

Wawa offers healthy food choices while it advocates the support of local farm produce. The simplest of Ilonggo dishes seem to be the most delicious and heart-warming like this ever-favorite "abre-gana" camote tops salad.

Chilli con Carne at Wawa. New in our menu and has become an early favorite beginning early this year. Be the first to enjoy this mouth watering dish at Wawa.

Fort San Pedro in Iloilo, one of the only three Parian centers in the Philipines during the Spanish period ( the other two were Fort Santiago in Manila and Fort San Pedro in Cebu City) was in recent years famous for its garlic-ky charcoal roasted chicken. Wawa innovation is to remove the bones of chicken and roast the fillet retaining the same flavour of melding the white coconut vinegar, lemoncito, muscuvado and garlic. "Achuete" is natural color from annatto seeds. Unique to Wawa. We are the only place in town serving this special dish. TOP SELLER.

Wawa Gambas de Ajillo. Pink shrimps shelled and made flavourful with "achuete" and "ajos" ( garlic). Sprayed with dried chillie flakes.

"Horno" is a typical cooking method in Iloilo--from fish to poultry--for generations. Folks in the past bring big fish or poultry to neighborhood "panaderia" to cook them. Baked "tahong" or green mussels are flavoured with spices and local garlic margarine for an exotic taste.

Wawa "kinilaw" ( Ilonggo) or "ceviche" ( Spanish) is a more delicate preparation of anchovies fish. Unlike other menu which uses vinegar, ours is more subtle using "lemoncito"--local peewee lemons. We serve them in clusters of our handmade "imbao" ( local shellfish) shell "platitos" gathered in our Wawa signature bamboo tray servers. Must try at the restaurant.

 influenced delicate raw fish salad of anchovies -- local “gurayan” fish the size of little fingers. Wawa is from Estancia, Iloilo, the Little Alaska of the Philippines, where this fish abounds. Wawa’s menu is to delicately handcraft them into fillets to remove all the smallest of bones & marinate them in “lemoncito” ( local peewee lemon) overnight and served with a blend of chopped tomato, onion, garlic, ginger with coconut vinegar. This culinary heritage lives on in Wawa.

Prawn Kropek or Pasayan nga Kropek. Best with ice cold beer at Wawa. It is so good, you want it bowl after bowl after bowl.

Wawa "Guzo" salad is just worth your gastronomic experience. Served in our chilled wine glasses and tossed with strips of carrots, slices of peewee tomatoes and minced onions, these seaweed delight perks up one's appetite when dunked in our garlic vinegar dip. It is known that the secret of life longevity among folks living along the coastline, including the many Japanese centenarians, is to eat seaweeds which is high in collagen fiber and chlorophyll from the tropical sun.

Wawa's best selling vegetable dish. Traditionally, there were "Pangat" vendors who were called "Manuglibot" selling this dish in bamboo pole containers in Iloilo few years back. These vendors were gone and along with it this dish was lost. Wawa rescued this dish and serve it in our handcrafted earthenware and "likin"--fabric base made from "patadyong"--local handloom fabric. The smoky flavour of dried gabi leaves is a complex flavour which lingers in one's taste buds. Do eat at Wawa with this dish in your bucket list.

Langka Ensalada. Green jack fruit salad in coconut milk. An Ilonggo equissential dish which is a very healthy choice to many who loves simple vegetable preparations yet so flavourful.

As a housewife cook and a small time restaurateur in Estancia, Iloilo where she run a cafeteria called Pleaiades ( seven stars of the galaxy, to honor her seven daughters), Wawa was famous for her Callos the recipe of which was handed to her by her father, Lolo Pio Jutare. Wawa's Callos was always a special dish to prepare which like she boiled the tripe 8 times changing the liquid 8 times until the meat was super tender. It usually took one day for Wawa to prepare the dish.

ATCHARA NI TAY ROGEL. Traditional papaya pickles. Wawa’s better half, fondly called, Tay Rogel, from Janiuay, Iloilo was famous for his home crafted “atchara”. Wawa shares his recipe here. Made from fresh farm green papaya fruits ( or bamboo shoots when abundant) mixed with capsicum, onions, ginger and vegetables. His secret was to slowly simmer the coconut vinegar to remove the acidic taste, cool it down, and mixed it with the ingredients.

Calamares EspaƱola. Delicious jumbo squid rings in distinct light happy flavour with our vegetable vinaigrette.

Turron de Saba. Julienne banana wrapped in rice and flour "apa' wrap, with Wawa signature sweet tablea (cacao chocolate) and coconut milk dip. The addicting part is really our dip. Wawa's top selling dessert, so good, they are good to take home as well.

Only Wawa does it tradtionally with a twist. Our handcrafted food and beverages are healthier and flavours are tastier, too!

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Iloilo Provincial Capitol Festival Costume Exhibit for Dinagyang

Breath taking beadworks with local abaca and pandan twine. Pendant is made from bamboo! I remember a similar exquisite work when young designer Jojie Lloren won the Grand Prix ( Grand Prize) at the Concourse International des Jeunes Creteurs de Mode in Paris, France as delegate of the Fashion and Design Council of the Philippines. 
The Iloilo Provincial Office through its Tourism Planning Office was able to pull a beautiful exhibit of the costumes of Dinagyang from several past participants and I enjoyed it a lot, so did many visitors, mostly Ilonggos. What elated me most is that the children and their parents enjoyed the experience much more than they would see the street performance where one can not see much.

The entire experience is that one can touch the costumes and look at it closely. I did. I was amazed with the craftsmanship and details of the works. What  is amazing was the use of local materials. The ethnic Filipino patterns that bridge our modern thinking  with our past.

The colors were so  tropically alive and it was just perking up the Filipino fondness for what is festive. I will try to present some picture essay here.

On the other hand, perhaps, this exhibit is a testimony that Filipinos can do their own costumes well, too, with the advent of the disappointments of Filipinos with the national costume of our Miss Universe 2014 representative  which was created by Colombian designer Alfredo Barraza. What he designed may be ok in form as a mestiza or terno cut but the materials were downright cheap and un-Filipino. In the first place, Filipinos are not noted for using roses used in that said costume. Ours is more ethnic prints, stripes, callado, bead work and handloom.  While these intricate works on exhibit are mostly done by non-designers, I guess done by local community members and schools,  looking at the works,  they express the true essence and spirit of what is Filipino creativity in costume design which is detailed handcrafted embellishments.

The quality was not as tip top, but it is all about creativity. The artisanal spirit was impressive. 

Although, the silhouettes are really fantasy, rather than indigenous, although some reflected our tribal forms from North to South of the Philippines,  the collections were outstanding specially those using our local weave “hablon” and “patadyong”.  As a note, the Dinagyang festival costumes, should be categorized into “fantasy” design, those with influences of Africa or Latin American and the other is “indigenous” design, those which are really Filipino tribal, folkloric, colonial and regional. Dinagyang should consider these two categories in order not to confuse our young people since Ati-atihan is about the nomadic Aetas who wear only “patadyong” and “bahag” (loin cloth). Somehow the Dinagyang is becoming like a Brazilian mardigras---except those with design sensibilities like the original tribes of Barotac Nuevo Iloilo who once came only in their “bahag”.  

I was once asked how to create a distinct Filipino costume, and I said, it has to be material first and then material manipulation next  with our own indigenous resources –something that is truly ours like coconut beads, abaca, pineapple fiber, raffia or bamboo, as some costumes with Asian or Hispanic origins have some things in common.
 I learned there was a n exhibit of all of the Philippine festival costumes on the same venue but I missed that one as they were taken to the streets which is also a fantastic idea. The Philippine festival costumes certainly are the richest, most diverse and most beautiful one could imagine. They, too, tell many stories of who we are and give us a sense of pride as a Filipino race.

I must congratulate Mr Bombette Marin and his team at the Iloilo Provincial Office of Tourism for this exhibit. What a joy to see many families with their kids were happy to see---and touch---the soul of Iloilo in these well made festival costumes. 

artistc use of dyed coconut beads

woven pandan leaves as borders and intricate bead work

Amazing bead work

grass skirt with hemline of ethnic handloom fabrics. the top is exqusitely detailed in ethnic bead work 
beautiful dying technique on Philippine fiber --raffia
Local fiber "raffia" in ombre dyed technique. The costume reminds us of the Ivatans.Dong Omaga Diaz , whose entry through the Fashion and Design Council of the Philippines, was made of beautiful raffia jacket won one of the major awards  at the Concourse International des Jeunes Creteurs de Mode in Paris, France. 

use of "salapid" ( braided ) palm fan leaves or pandan 

captivating bead work

Truly Ilonggo using our own handloom "patadyong"  in a stylized "saya" ( skirt) and "alampay" ( shawl)

Patadyong and use of upcycled discared fabrics

layered pattern on pattern

texture and weaving wonders of a Filipino "salakot"--a local straw hat

the rythmn of Philippine ethnic colors and movement

Iloilo, the textile capital of the Philippines during the Spanish period, has "hablon" which is handloom fabric used in this costume. It has also its own indigenous needle craft used here. 

Details of coconut beads and local weave "patadyong"

Coconut shells, dyed and interprets a Filipino skill in beadwork

the exquisite details of a hemline using  Philippine textiles and prints

Here the base fabric is dyed woven jute

Batik embellished with dye wood beads and trimmed with braided palm leaves "pandan" 

the primitive look made modern

Philippine flag as a motif

belt is made from handwoven "banig" with coconut shell rings and pandan 

This uses pineapple leaves twine from Guimaras Island

Filipino antique beads reproduction with delicate etchings of tribal patterns

Manila Hemp known also as Philippine abaca is used as cording details here

The lovely detail of ethnic print and bead work

How wonderful to see  these young Filipinos in Iloilo loving and touching these locally made festival costumes.
Local residents loved the exhibit as the costumes were just so intimate to them and they can inter-act with them.
A boy matches the colors of the Ati-atihan mask with his head cap