people march

Come, join the People’s Climate March


Let’s make our voices heard!  On Sunday, September 21, let’s  go out of our comfort zone and join the People’s Climate March.  Let’s demand action for a cleaner planet and an economy that works for people.

This is not an invitation to change everything.  But at least, we, the citizens of planet Earth can make an impact that could swerve the course of history.  As heads of state from around the world meet for a historic summit on climate change, let us also seize the moment to demand action.  Action that may deliver us from the damaging effects of climate change.  UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon even exhorts governments to participate in a global agreement to minimize global warming pollution.

We are aware, however, that a single summit cannot “solve climate change”. But, as a unified and vigilant community, we have the power to organize and confront the power of fossil fuels.

The People’s Climate March is a worldwide activity with the primary purpose of urging heads of governments from all over the world to take concrete action to reduce the impact of climate change.  As these heads of state hold the climate change summit in September 2014, in New York City, we can organize a synchronized movement wherever we may be. Check the schedule of events in your region or community and sign up.  You may even want to organize an event in your locality, if there is none yet.

Let’s make this weekend be a historic event for all mankind.  Our future is on the line here.

Have you ever wondered how much climate change has already claimed of our planet Earth?  Let Kelly Nyks and Jared P. Scott show you the extent of damage and its potential threat in their film, DISRUPTION.   


As of 22 September 2014:  Thank you all for your active participation in the People’s Climate March.  We have the largest gathering ever.  May this be the beginning to a better and healthier climate.  The pictures say it all.

coco furniture

Making senile coconut trees productive beyond fruit-bearing years

Old and senile coconut trees make good alternative material for housing, construction, furniture, novelty items, and other uses.  From the forest conservation point of view, utilization of coconut wood potentially reduces pressure on natural forests, too.

coco trees

The rapid decline in the availability and the increasing cost of tropical hardwood have brought many buyers and wood manufacturers to opt for efficient wood alternative; and coconut wood is one of the primary choices.

Availability and accessibility

coco lumber
Coco wood ready for processing

Countries in the Asia-Pacific region have an extensive span of unproductive and senile coconut trees that need to be cut down and replaced with high yielding varieties.   Rather than dump them in landfills and pose hazards to the environment and to livelihood, it is practical to process these senile trees and add value to potentially profitable resource. Besides, useful by-products from these trees would significantly help the more than 80 percent small farm-holders in the region as processing of coconut wood will generate income and employment among them.

Coconut wood, or coco wood for short, is more abundantly available in Indonesia, the Philippines, India, Papua New Guinea, and Thailand.  But other countries in Asia-Pacific can also sufficiently supply the increasing demand for the wood.

Some countries of the Asia-Pacific region are prone to hurricanes that fell thousands of coconut trees each year, including fruit-yielding ones.  These trees, too, are processed in the same manner and added to the supply of coco wood.

Logging or harvesting of senile coconut trees is easier and cheaper compared to harvesting forest trees.  Its straight, branchless trunk, and almost uniform volume and dimension require only light and simple tools, and make equipment transportation easier.

Uses of coco wood

coco furniture
Furniture made from coco wood

Construction.  The bulk of the demand for coconut wood comes from the construction industry.   It is used in the construction of both small and big buildings.  Depending on its density, coco wood makes suitable components for:

  • purlins
  • trusses
  • walls
  • panels
  • doors
  • windows
  • joists
  • jalousies
  • frames and scaffolding
  • floor tiles (parquet)
  • girts,
  • balustrades
  • railings
  • horizontal studs

 Charcoal.  The coconut trunk and its sawmill residues are suitable for charcoal making and energy production.  Its charcoal and charcoal briquettes are found to have higher heating value, and emits less smoke compared to wood.

Furniture and novelty items.  The furniture industry in the Asia-Pacific region has already created a niche in elegant furniture, novelty items, and other handicrafts, gaining attention from European and American markets.  The coconut wood’s uniquely beautiful grain and attractive natural appearance serve as its primary selling point.

Other uses.  Coco wood can also be used as posts, power and telecommunication poles, poultry and livestock shelters, and grocery pallets.  In the Philippines, particularly, a considerable volume of coco wood is used in the construction of some government buildings, low cost housing projects, as well as in many private beach resorts facilities and accommodations.


In order to sustain the coconut industry in the region, farm-holders need to replace both senile coconut trees and those felled by typhoons with new trees.

Moreover, utilizing coco wood is sustainable and, therefore, can significantly help the environment.  Its products are also significantly cheaper than hardwood.

Related topics:

Coconut wood for construction and other uses

Eco-friendly homes

Taclob Bag

Yolanda survivors stitch life back up again

Taclob Bag
Compassion backpack

Survivors of super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) that hit Eastern Visayas, Philippines in November 2013 now start rebuilding their lives by sewing bags for livelihood.

While forever grateful for all the assistance and support they got during their time of need, the people of Tacloban know they cannot depend on dole-outs for a long time. They determine to get back on their feet again.

With the help of young patriots from various sectors, Taclobanons (residents of the typhoon’s hardest-hit area) choose to sew functional backpacks for commercial purposes.   TESDA (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority) also extends additional technical skills training for the survivors .


And the product of such determination is the distinctly identifiable bright red backpack, called “Compassion”.  It is 50% upcycled and has these features:

  • the outer cover is made of high-grade Japanese truck tarpaulins
  • its inner lining is made of pre-loved jeans
  • uses military-grade nylon thread for all stitching
  • sealed with genuine YKK zippers
  • stylish leather lash tabs
  • its large inner pocket snugly fits a 13″ Macbook or any standard folder
  • its jean pockets can store the things you would normally have to keep in your pockets
  • it’s weather-resistant


Taclob details

According to the people who initially formed this new social enterprise, the concept of Compassion is to create a disaster-resilient industry against an economy of dependency for survivors.

Since its inception, Compassion has already gained significant patronage, especially among artists, celebrities, designers, chefs, athletes, and social workers, among others.  It is now more than just a bag.  It has become a badge. Please do contact Taclob for details on how to get your Compassion bag.



Get Compassion and give more…

In addition, for every Compassion backpack purchased, you help create jobs for the Yolanda survivors, support an eco-friendly and upcycled design, and most importantly, you will give Courage, a multi-functional floatation backpack to the children survivors.


Related topic:

After Yolanda: It’s time to rebuild




Courage: Keeping Yolanda children survivors afloat

Courage bag

When you buy a Compassion bag, you give a multi-functional school bag to a typhoon child survivor.

Survivors of super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), which hit the Eastern Visayas part of the Philippines, are determined to get back on their feet again.  With the assistance of patriots and leading bag makers in the country, they start rebuilding their lives by sewing weather-resistant backpacks for commercial purposes.  The good thing about it is that not only do they aim to establish an income-generating project.  Survivors also keep survival preparedness in mind.

Along with the iconic bright red Compassion bags, they also make backpacks cum flotation device designed to equip young children in case something like Yolanda happens again.  Aptly called Courage, the bag aims to provide children a fighting chance in case of emergency.  It is also meant to help address a deep emotional trauma of uncertainty that still haunts children survivors to this day.

Get Compassion and give more…

A Courage bag is given to a child survivor every time you buy a Compassion backpack for yourself or for your loved one. Each Courage bag, which contains art materials and school supplies, has these features:

  • constructed with high-density, water-resistant nylon fabric
  • double stitched with military-grade nylon thread to ensure longevity
  • reflective striping on the front and back to enhance visibility at night or during search and rescue operations
  • utilizes two empty 2-liter PET bottles strapped to the side of the bag to keep a child afloat

Watch the video and see how Courage works.

Survivors who sew both Compassion and Courage got additional technical skills training from TESDA  (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority).

For details on how to help children survivors and purchase Compassion bags, please do visit Taclob.

Boiled kamote

Kamote: A “poor man’s diet”?

Our body has its own way of communicating what it needs.  It may not be in the language that we know of but it speaks to us nonetheless.  Oftentimes, though, we fail to listen or we simply choose to ignore the pains and longing of our bodies to attend to the “more pressing issues” or we’re just too preoccupied with “busyness in everything and anything”.  We tend only to slow down when we get (seriously) ill and can no longer function the way we want to.  This time it could be too late! This could now be the time of regretting what we should have or have not done!  We might just find ourselves uttering words, such as:

“I wish I did….”

“If only I could…”

“I should have…”

Uncooked kamote
Uncooked kamote

Some years ago, a close friend told me to always listen to what my body has to say because it does not lie.  Lately, I got tired easily and find it difficult to concentrate on my work. No matter how I got myself to write, I seemed to have ran out of ideas.  In a sense, I was sort of suffering from brain drain!  At the same time, I was craving for boiled sweet potatoes (Kamote or camote in our dialect). And so, remembering the advice, I decided to buy some kamote from the nearby market, and cooked all one kilo of it. Funny but after some helping, I felt recharged and eager to hit the keyboard and write again.

Curious, I decided to check on the internet what could I have been missing – nutrition-wise. I found out that the humble kamote, which is sometimes called a “poor man’s diet”, is packed with powerful nutrients. And probably, I must have been lacking much, if not all, of these wonderful kamote health benefits:

1.  It is a good source of vitamin C.  As we all know, vitamin C promotes digestion, blood cell formation, and healing of wounds; protects us from cold and flu viruses as well as from toxins associated with cancer; facilitates in bone and tooth formation; produces collagen for healthy and youthful skin, and; helps us cope with stress.  Apparently, it was stress that kept me slow.

2.  Kamote is rich in vitamin B6, which is essential in reducing homocysteine in the body.  Homocysteine is a chemical said to be associated with degenerative disease.

3. It contains vitamin D which plays a very important role in our immune system and general health.  It boosts our energy levels, moods, as well as promotes healthy bones, nerves, heart, skin, and teeth.  Now, I know why I did not have much energy lately.

4.  Great source of manganese. Manganese plays a very important role in the metabolism of carbohydrates useful in promoting healthy blood sugar levels.  This trace mineral in kamote stabilizes glucose levels by increasing adinopectin, a significant element in insulin metabolism.  And since kamote has a glycemic index of 50, it is considered a diabetic food.  I thank God I’m not diabetic, and I pray the humble kamote helps in protecting me from acquiring the disease, which has already claimed the life of my elder sister.

5.  Most potent anti-oxidant.  Kamote contains high level of vitamin A or beta-carotene, even higher than that of carrots. Vitamin A, as we all know, is an important anti-oxidant that helps prevent different types of cancer, and protects our skin from the harmful effects of the sun as it deflects and repair cell damage caused by too much exposure to UV rays, shielding us against premature aging. Beta-carotene in the body is converted into vitamin A (retinol), for good eye health and good vision, strong immune system, as well as glowing skin and mucous membranes.  Oh, I need this for my eyes.

6.  High in other vitamins, such as: vitamins B2, and E; as well as in minerals like copper, potassium, and iron.  

Being one of the essential electrolytes that regulates heartbeat and nerve functions, potassium helps relax muscle contractions, minimizes swelling, and protects and controls the activity of the kidneys.

Iron, on the other hand, plays a crucial role in the production of red and white blood cells, fortifies the body against stress, and promotes metabolism and healthy immune system.

The magnesium content in kamote helps fight stress, allowing the body to relax.  It also promotes healthy bones, heart, blood, muscles, arteries, and nerves.

7.  Kamote is rich in dietary fiber and less fat content.  A medium size kamote is packed with 26 grams of carbohydrates, of which 3.8 grams are dietary fiber that helps minimize bad cholesterol and eases bowel movement.

8.  Effective detoxifying agent.  Kamote absorbs heavy metals, such as lead, arsenic, and mercury that can build up in the body through consumption of commercially-processed foods, and effectively flushes them out of your system.

Knowing all the kamote health benefits, I now can’t seem to understand why it bears a connotation of a “poor man’s diet”. Perhaps, it could be because it is one of the cheapest and easiest-grown crop.

Boiled kamote
Boiled kamote

Kamote is even the best rice substitute.  I was just thinking, what if kamote becomes a staple food in the Philippines, would it help minimize, if not totally resolve, the sickening political and corruption issues of “shortage of rice supply” and “rice smuggling” in the country?

2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,900 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


Misa de Aguinaldo: What do you wish for?

Simbang Gani

Tomorrow, December 16, starts the official observance of Christmas season, which will last until the Epiphany, or during the commemoration of the Magi’s visit to the Child Jesus.

In the Philippines, the celebration commences with Misa de Aguinaldo or Simbang Gabi, a reverential nine-dawn Masses practiced by both the Roman Catholics and Aglipayans in deference to the Blessed Virgin Mary as they anticipate the birth of their Savior, Jesus Christ. The liturgical importance of Christmas stems from the Season of Advent, the time when believers spiritually prepare and purify themselves to be worthy to receive the Child Jesus. Simbang Gabi, which literally means Night Mass, is actually done as early as 4 o’clock in the morning.

ParolDuring the Christmas season, Filipinos adorn their homes with colorful star-shaped lanterns called parol. Many, if not most, of which are personally hand-crafted according to the owner’s desire. The parol is traditionally believed to serve as an illumination for the parishioners in making their way to the church.  Also, during this period, children and adults alike would go from house to house singing Christmas carols in exchange for an amount of money or goodies.

Many Filipino Catholics believe that if a parishioner who makes a wish during the dawn Masses and is able to complete all nine dawns of the Simbang Gabi, his or her wish would come true.  This has been a centuries-old belief that is still kept alive even up to the present.  Many priests, however, observe that only the first and the ninth dawn of the Simbang Gabi seem to have the greatest number of church-goers.

KakaninSimbang Gabi culminates on December 24 or Christmas Eve, which is called the Misa de Gallo or Mass of the Gifts. Shortly after the Misa de Gallo, families gather together in their homes for the Nochebuena, or the traditional Christmas Eve dinner, where they feast on local delicacies and some conventional dishes, like lechon (or roast pig), fried chicken, hamon, pancit, lumpia, fruit salad, spaghetti, quezo de bola, and a lot more.



The history of Simbang Gabi in the Philippines can be traced back to 1669 during the early days of Christianity. Since the  Christmas season was also a harvest period, it was customary to hold thanksgiving novenas in the evenings. But the priests noticed that, although still enthusiastic to participate in the Mass, their parishioners, especially farmers, were already tired after a day’s work. And so, the Spanish friars decided to begin the Mass very early in the morning, instead, to allow farmers to participate in it before they proceeded to their fields.  Since then, this important Christmas tradition became a distinct Philippine culture and recognized as a symbol of sharing. After each dawn Mass, Filipino families, and even individuals, would share different traditional Christmas foods and drinks, such as bibingka, or rice cake cooked in clay stove; puto; suman; tsokolate; salabat or ginger tea; kape (coffee) and; other regional delicacies.  The reason why most of the pastries were traditionally made of rice or carbohydrates was to fill the stomach of farmers before they proceeded to their farms.  At present, however, other delicacies are prepared and readily available at the church’s premises for easy access to parishioners.

Moving forward to a greener and cleaner earth through sustainable development


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