Infolinks In Text Ads

The science dilemma in Philippine schools

Friday, September 28, 2012

It is believed that Math and Science are excellent subjects to test children because these subjects are taught and tested devoid of culture and emotion. It is no wonder that, other than Language, Math and Science are part of the three kings of school subjects worldwide.
However, a student’s exam results in these subjects cannot predict his success in life because grades are greatly conditioned by teaching itself.
A person may be labeled as poor in Science not because he is dumb but because of the low quality of science education he has received. This early labeling works against a child as it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy later in life. It will be an injustice to generalize that Filipino children are bad in Science considering that children are naturally inquisitive.
Under the new Basic Education Curriculum (BEC), we start teaching Science as a subject only in the third grade. Whereas before, we teach Science early in the hope that we could produce students who could excel in this field, teaching Science in Grades 1 and 2 now does not seem to matter because students remain laggards in the said subject.
Lack of training of teachers, overpopulated classrooms, dull curricula, outdated teaching methods, lack of equipment, and books offering Mickey Mouse lessons – these are some of the factors that lead to the poor state of science teaching. This is worsened by the general culture that undermines scientific thinking and technological innovation in favor of “bahala na” (“what will be, will be”) and “puwede na” (‘no need to excel”) in our daily national life.
In the end, the educational system, family and government fail to effectively inculcate scientific thought that is necessary in the development of science and technology. This one whole system must be responsible in the large-scale dumbing down of generations upon generations of Filipinos in the field of Science.
In the1999 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), the Philippines ranked 36th in 2nd year high school Science out of 38 countries. By 2003, the country yielded a similar devastating result in the same study, ranking 23rd in Grade 4 Science, among 25 countries. The shock reverberated as the country started talking about a crisis in the Philippine educational system. In the high school level, we ranked 42nd in 2nd year Science, among 45 countries.
The Philippines did not participate anymore in the 2007 TIMSS.
Significantly, Asians are the ones topping the TIMSS. These countries are our East Asian neighbors known for their discipline and ability to unite as a people. These are Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong (China) and Japan.
Filipino students sometimes top international Science competitions, but they usually come from science high schools with special programs.
The country ought to have a strong science education program. Science and technology have propelled the economies of our Asian neighbors, successfully using these two fields in business, crime prevention, transportation, education, art and e-commerce.
If Philippine schools want to be very good in science, they must do that which is difficult and not just what is convenient. They must resist the culture of parents or intermediaries requesting them to just pass the flunked children. Philippine society, unfortunately, remains feudalistic in terms of social relationships where social ties matter more than real merits.
The country has not yet really transcended influence-peddling based on social bonds, to the detriment of the collective system. By allowing this to be practiced in schools, educational institutions become active agents in training the new generation not only in the dirty world of corruption but also in the world where scientific thinking is alien to them.
An alumnus and former faculty member of UP Diliman, the author is president of the Darwin International School System. He studied in Osaka University (Japan), the University of Cambridge (England) and at the University of Leiden (the Netherlands).


The Flower With The Creepy Scent

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Dama de Noche, or the Night Blooming Jasmine is the plant that takes centerstage on the onset of Halloween. This one has a strong fragrance and it’s an old fashioned heritage plant that is often seen in old ancestral homes.  It is widely cultivated here in the Philippines and was introduced from tropical America during the Spanish era.
Botanically known as Cestrum nocturnum, this is a climbing evergreen shrub with a height of six to 10 feet, and a canopy width of about six feet in diameter. It is often adorned with showy night-blooming white flower clusters.  It belongs to the Solanaceae plant family and is closely related to the tomato, potato and pepper.   The flowers have a very bold fragrance which can give anyone a creepy feeling of ghosts hovering around.
The plant is easy to grow. It requires full sun exposure though it could be planted under partially shaded areas. It thrives well in constantly moist soil, particularly sandy loam to clay loam soils, moderately mixed with decomposed plant litter. You just have to fertilize the plant twice a year, preferably before and after the rainy season.   It is best to apply additional phosphorus fertilizers to enhance root development and for continuous flowering.  It’s a fast grower so you’ll have to pinch  the foliage and prune its flowers to maintain its compact growth.
The Dama de Noche plants are often affected by leaf spot diseases, usually coming from bacterial or fungi, especially during the rainy season.  For disease control, always remove diseased leaves and dead twigs, and for severe infestation, apply a mild solution of fungicide during the rainy season at a rate of once every month for three months.
This plant’s leaves are mildly toxic to animals.  The leaf extract has an anti-bacterial activity and a highly effective larvicidal activity against mosquito larvae (or wringlers) of Aedes aegypti, the carrier of Dengue..
The Dama de Noche can easily be propagated from seeds which come from the fruit berries  that developed from the pollinated flowers.  At times, the plant can become a noxious weed when left unchecked.


‘Living Ceramics’

Monday, July 23, 2012

Ceramics are more than just tiles, dinnerware, bricks, and other by-products of pottery. They are more than just firing the kiln and burning the earth to create a vessel or a jar. Ceramics are strong fragile parts of human life.

Without ceramics, the modern world won’t exist. Without ceramics, there would be no steel and metals to create automobiles, machineries, plans, and other things that need these items for construction. With ceramics as sophisticated refractory materials, people would be able to produce iron and non-ferrous metal.
Can you imagine life without buildings and houses? Thanks to ceramics, we won’t have to worry about such problems. Construction industries pretty much depend on ceramics, particularly bricks and cements, to build infrastructure.

Electricity also depends on ceramics for high tensions insulation. As an excellent insulator, ceramics make it possible for electric companies to safely carry electricity to houses and businesses.
“Ceramics is a repository of culture and history which encapsulates human existence. Introducing ceramics is equivalent to introducing culture, history, and current social structure. Ceramics are living culture,” says Hong won Lee of the Korea Ceramic Foundation, an established international entity that promotes and develops artistic endeavors related to ceramic art.
From the earliest civilizations, the technology and applications of ceramics have come a long way from mere basic earthenwares to modern ceramics. It is just right to take a closer look at these living cultures through the “Living Ceramics: The Modern Touch of Korean Heritage” exhibit at the Korean Cultural Center in Taguig City. The exhibit showcased the celebrated Korean ceramic tradition which has been infused with modern touches and techniques throughout the history of Korea.
Korean ceramic tradition began from earthenware culture back in 6000 BC, during the Goryeo Dynasty in the 12th century, which displayed its high stature throughout the world with its own unique celadon green ceramic. One of the most celebrated ceramic forms in Korea, celadon is characterized by its bisaek, the blue oxidized iron within the clay, as well as its jade-green color.
The Joseon Dynasty in 15th century had seen the rise of baekja, the white porcelain ceramic made of white clay, with transparent glaze, which seems harder and clearer than most ceramics produced that era.
“Based on Confucian philosophy and Sunbi (a virtuous scholar) culture, it highlighted the advanced aesthetic sense of the Koreans which surpassed even the minimalism and monochrome painting techniques of modern arts,” shares Hong won Lee.
The buncheong also thrived during the Joseon period. This ceramic form is characterized by white slip covers with bold and complicated designs. It is considered the “most Korean” of all the forms because it embodies the emerging Korean culture.
Korean ceramic entered its dark age during the colonial occupation of Korea (1910 to 1945). The war didn’t make it easy for ceramics to thrive. But following the end of war, the ceramic culture re-emerged and led the way towards the modern tradition.
“The efforts to trace and redevelop the Korean traditional ceramic technology and production process, together with the creative will to express modern art with earth, is drawing worldwide attention from the ceramic industry,” shares Hong won Lee.
He continues: “Nowadays, Korean ceramics is continuously being researched and efforts are being made to overcome the limitations of ceramics by extending its scope through the  convergence of other art genres with ceramics.”
The exhibit highlighted the unique fusion of ceramics with various fields such as crafts, industry, information technology, visual media, and especially food design. It is geared towards putting Korean traditional dining customs on the cultural awareness of the Filipinos.
In “Nature,” artist Sin Hyun Cho involves the natural changes with the designs formed through different color plates and blended them into the lines. Infused with practicality and aesthetics of life, he presents a visual delight in the food culture.
Artist Panki Kim gives a modern interpretation that embraces the tradition of Korean celadon. In his “Celadon Dinnerware,” the artist expresses his own interpretation, juxtaposes the pure celadon colors with iron glaze and silk thread which underscores its transformation, reflecting the flow of time through color contradictions of the internal and external colors of celadon.
Ceramic artist Se Lim Yu expresses the motif prevalent during the Joseon Dynasty in “White Porcelain Dinnerware” and “Blue and White Porcelain Dinnerware” collections. The white porcelain with traditional patterns are a reinterpretation of the traditional forms with contemporary sentiments and are applicable to the daily life of the people.
“Dinnerware, Buncheong with Plant Design in Iron-Brown,” created by Sang Man Kim, maximizes the material characteristics of the Korean traditional grayish-blue powdered celadon. The artist highlighted the beautiful physical attributes of the material, as expressed by its surfaced texture and the thickness of the glaze, and blended them with simple patterns, shapes, and flavors.
Artist Ji-Young Moon captures the simplicity, the soul of the soil through the lively yet unadorned porcelain. “Relaxation” is a living porcelain that imbibes the beauty of ceramic through the use of natural materials.
The “Moon Jar” by Shin Bong Kang contains the core Korean emotions as well as the faith in the ancient East and West. The artist created the moon jars as symbols that represent the royal authority, the daily lives of the Koreans, and as an expression of beauty.
Hee Sok Ko combines modern design and natural homemade trait, shown as quite peculiar on the boundary lines of industrialized pottery and handicraft work, in “White Flying.” A contemporary artist, he emphasizes the purity of white porcelain through the transparent oil-glazed inside of the ceramic, contrasting with the surface of the self-nitrided white porcelain.
“The Won” by Bok ja Won revolves around the concept of real artistic luxury in pursuit of “living in’ art as it is naturally a part of human life. Through the fusion of Korean traditional celadon and the harp, the artist creates a luxurious porcelain that presents a dining table designed for a special day with different designs and technology.
Sy Young Kim’s “Black Glaze with Tableware” is a reproduction of Korea’s black porcelain. It allows the viewers to re-evaluate the history of Korean black pottery as well as the artistic value of ceramic technology. Soaked with natural colors of deep black and rainbow, the collection is an attempt at modern transformation in harmony with the color of Korean food.
Jae Kyung Lee has consistently worked with the “Eumgwang” (Sound and Light) theme, with several glass works aiming to capture the moment of light, sound, and memory, all the things without the concept of forever. His goal is to show movements, light, brightness, and formation through the composition of the transparent glass.
The “Living Ceramic: Modern Touch of Korea Heritage” is in line with the celebration of the Philippine-Korea Exchange Day as well as the first anniversary of the Korea Cultural Center.
“The Philippines and Korea have a strong diplomatic relations for more than 60 years now, with the Philippines having fought beside Korea in the latter’s quest for democracy. In this sense, if the two countries embark on and continue to engage in a much more aggressive art exchange, the partnership may produce great developments,” says Hong won Lee.
He concludes: “If the characteristics of the two nations – the Filipino’s colorful, optimistic and positive character and Korean’s sophistication and natural beauty – complement each other, there might emerge a new art form which would generate a win-win situation for both countries.”


Ever wonder why a day has 24 hours and a minute has 60 seconds?

Friday, July 6, 2012

The most widely used numerical system in the world is the decimal system, using 10 as a base. However, to measure time, we use the duodecimal (base 12) and sexagesimal (base 60) systems. This is because our method of dividing the day derives from the innovations of ancient Mediterranean civilizations. By 1500 BCE, Egyptians (who used base 12) developed a sundial which looked like a T-shaped bar placed in the ground with would divide the time between sunrise and sunset into 12 parts. Because of the seasonal change in the length of time between sunrise and sunset, summer hours were longer than winter hours! Historians theorize that the importance of 12 is based on the number of finger joints on each hand (not counting the thumb) or the number of lunar cycles in a year. The division of the night into 12 parts was achieved by Egyptian astronomers who observed the appearance of 12 key stars in the night sky. Out of these divisions was born the concept of a 24-hour day. However, seasonal hour length was used for many centuries, and fixed hours became common only after the appearance of mechanical clocks in 14th century Europe!

The Greek astronomer Eratosthenes (27 6-194 BCE) divided a circle into 60 parts to create a geographical system of latitude. The reason for the importance of the number 60 is not known, but historians note that it is conveniently divisible by 10, 12, 15, and 30. Hipparchus added a 360 degree system of longitude a century later, and in 150 CE Claudius Ptolemy subdivided each degree into 60 parts. The first division (each of the 360 degrees) was called the partes minutae primae, or first minute, and the second division (each of the 60 parts of a degree) was the partes minutae secundae, or “second minute”. Clock displays were in the shape of a circle, so the former became the modern minute, and the latter the modern second! However, like hours with fixed length, minutes and seconds took centuries to come into widespread use. The first clocks displaying minutes appeared in the late 16th century.


Rule of Thirds

Friday, June 29, 2012

The rule of thirds is the simplest rule of composition. All you do is take your frame and overlay a grid of nine equal sections. This means you split the vertical space into three parts and the horizontal space into three parts.

My students in Visual Graphics Class took pictures around the campus. Each student submitted 3 pictures. Here are the top 5 best photos following the rule of thirds.


Martin Luther King Jr. remembered

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Americans honored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday with a traditional day of service as well as a new wave of economic injustice protests by Occupy Wall Street.
On the first King holiday since the now-global Occupy movement launched in New York City in September, the reignited debate over inequality drew hundreds of protestors to march in wintry temperatures in Manhattan, stopping at a Bank of America branch to shout, "The banks got bailed out, we got sold out."
At least two protesters were loaded into a police van at the march, held "because Dr. King dedicated the last months of his life to planning a campaign for the right of all to a decent-paying job," leaders said in a statement.
King was organizing a Poor People's Campaign, the next phase in the civil rights movement, before he was murdered in 1968.
"I came here on the one hand to honor (King's) birthday, but also for the things that he stood for," said Jim Glaser, a retired teacher from suburban Nyack, New York, at the march.
"We have to have a government that's responsive to people, ... a government that people can have some influence on," he said.
At New York's African Burial Grounds, schoolchildren played "We Shall Overcome" on violins before protesters marched to the Federal Reserve in downtown Manhattan.
"What Occupy Wall Street is trying to do is exactly what (King) was trying to -- focus on economic injustice and to inform and educate the American public," said Norman Siegel, former director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.
"I think (King) would be very pleased because Occupy Wall Street is the children of Dr King's dream," Siegel said at the 18th century burial ground, part of the National Park Service.
Protesters in the Occupy movement complain that billions of dollars in bailouts were given to banks while many Americans still suffer with joblessness and housing foreclosures. They say minorities were disproportionately affected by predatory lending practices.
The movement has influenced the national political conversation, with President Barack Obama echoing some of its themes in calling for a "fair shot" and "fair share" for all.
Community and civil rights leaders urged Americans to honor King's crusade for nonviolence and racial brotherhood by doing volunteer work.
The President, First Lady Michelle Obama and their daughter Malia marked the day by helping spruce up the library at a school in a predominantly African-American community in northeast Washington.
"At a time when the country has been going through some difficult economic times, for us to be able to come together as a community, people from all different walks of life, and make sure that we're giving back, that's ultimately what makes us the strongest, most extraordinary country on earth," Obama said.
This year's King holiday came as officials in more than a dozen states implement new laws requiring voters to present photo identification at the polls. Critics say the restriction violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965 -- one of the key accomplishments of the movement King led.
Across the nation, formal events such as prayer services, performances and parades were staged for King's birthday, which became a federal holiday in 1986. Post offices, government buildings and most public schools were closed.
King, a Baptist pastor who advocated for nonviolence, racial brotherhood and equal rights and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, was assassinated in 1968 as he stood outside his motel room in Memphis, where he had gone to support striking sanitation workers.
Reposted from


The perfect New Year tree

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Mandarin orange is a significant fruit for the New Year.  It symbolizes a bountiful harvest, prosperity and hope for success.   New Year greetings accompanied with a present consisting of a pair of oranges is a traditional practice among the Chinese. This symbolizes gold and all the good wishes for the New Year.  Mandarin oranges come in different sizes and are often used to adorn homes during New Year’s Eve.  It is believed that the bigger the orange is, the bigger the opportunities it represents.  Scientifically known as Citrus reticulata, it is in reality a variety within the Citrus or orange family.
The Mandarin fruit can be easily peeled as its orange rind is thin and the fruit can be split into even segments without squirting its juice. This makes the Mandarin convenient to eat, as utensils are not required to peel or cut the fruit. The segments are sweet and juicy and most often seedless.
Aside from being eaten ripe, the Mandarin segments also be used in fruit salads, made into sweets and can also be canned. The fruit also contains a lot of medicinal properties.   In traditional Chinese medicine, the dried peel of the fruit is used to treat abdominal distension, to enhance digestion and to reduce phlegm. It’s also a good source of vitamin C, minerals and fiber.
The Mandarin tree is drought-tolerant and can grow both in tropical and subtropical areas.  However, the tree is tender and can easily be damaged by extremely cold temperatures.  It is a small tree and one can grow Mandarin oranges in pots just like other types of citrus.  It is most often grown from seeds or grafted.  The plants are often grown outdoors exposed to full sunlight during the growing season. They are brought indoors during Christmas and New Year celebrations.
The Mandarin orange is established in 20-inch pots.  Seeds are germinated in small pots until the plant grows to six inches in height.  It should then be transferred to a bigger pot.  A rich potting soil, usually an equal mixture of garden soil, compost and sand is recommended. The plant requires daily watering and it must be fertilized once a month.
A layer of rocks, gravel or broken pots in the bottom of the pot can help water drain away from the roots.  Branches must be pruned regularly.  The plant is usually plagued with insect pests like mites, aphids, caterpillars or white flies so it’s best to administer an insecticide solution.
Plants grown from seedlings will usually bear fruit after two to three years.  Mandarin oranges thrive in cool temperatures of about 10 to 25 degrees Celsius, similar to the climates of Baguio or other high altitude places.  It is also the cool temperature that makes the fruit turn orange as it ripens. It should also be noted that Citrus fruits are usually self-fertile, needing only a bee to move pollen within the same flower.


3 health reasons to cook with cast-iron

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Cast-iron skillets may seem like an old-fashioned choice in the kitchen. But this dependable cookware is a must in the modern kitchen. Cast-iron skillets conduct heat beautifully, go from stovetop to oven with no problem and last for decades. (In fact, my most highly prized piece of cookware is a canary-yellow, enamel-coated cast-iron paella pan from the 1960s that I scored at a stoop sale for $5.) As a registered dietitian and associate nutrition editor of EatingWell Magazine, I also know that there are some great health reasons to cook with cast iron.
1. You can cook with less oil when you use a cast-iron pan. 
That lovely sheen on cast-iron cookware is the sign of a well-seasoned pan, which renders it virtually nonstick. The health bonus, of course, is that you won't need to use gads of oil to brown crispy potatoes or sear chicken when cooking in cast-iron. To season your cast-iron skillet, cover the bottom of the pan with a thick layer of kosher salt and a half inch of cooking oil, then heat until the oil starts to smoke. Carefully pour the salt and oil into a bowl, then use a ball of paper towels to rub the inside of the pan until it is smooth. To clean cast iron, never use soap. Simply scrub your skillet with a stiff brush and hot water and dry it completely.

2. Cast iron is a chemical-free alternative to nonstick pans. 
Another benefit to using cast-iron pans in place of nonstick pans is that you avoid the harmful chemicals that are found in nonstick pans. The repellent coating that keeps food from sticking to nonstick pots and pans contains PFCs (perfluorocarbons), a chemical that's linked to liver damage, cancer, developmental problems and, according to one 2011 study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, early menopause. PFCs get released-and inhaled-from nonstick pans in the form of fumes when pans are heated on high heat. Likewise, we can ingest them when the surface of the pan gets scratched. Both regular and ceramic-coated cast-iron pans are great alternatives to nonstick pans for this reason.

3. Cooking with cast iron fortifies your food with iron. 

While cast iron doesn't leach chemicals, it can leach some iron into your food...and that's a good thing. Iron deficiency is fairly common worldwide, especially among women. In fact, 10% of American women are iron-deficient. Cooking food, especially something acidic like tomato sauce in a cast-iron skillet can increase iron content, by as much as 20 times.


  © Blogger template Brownium by 2009

Back to TOP