Weekly Photo Challenge: Free Spirit

This week’s photo challenge — Free Spirit — is guest hosted by Strauss Louw. 

I chose this as the topic for this week’s photo challenge as it lends itself to so many possibilities for subject matter and composition….click here to view post

Most of us have known free spirits — or maybe we were once free spirits.  Somehow, as adults, I feel we don’t let this spirit of freedom “out” anymore, for fear of looking odd or silly.  And sometimes, we even say goodbye to this spirit, and we let it leave us.

It is another thing with  children though….they seem to all embody this free spirit.  Here are photographs of my grandsons, Jun and Gabriel, which I think capture this theme.  I hope they  keep this spirit of freedom and lightness well into old age.

A stick, sunshine,and sand in between your toes…what else do you need for a happy, free spirit day?

At first, my grandchildren try to outrun the waves, but later, give in to to enjoy the water — even though the water in our part o the Pacific ocean is rather cold.

South & East China Sea disputes: On Point program with Tom Ashbrook

Today’s On Point radio show with Tom Ashbrook, focused on the High-Seas Showdown between China and its neighbors:

Way out across the Pacific, a long way from “legitimate rape” and American political campaigning, there’s a high stakes ocean real estate fight going on in the South China and East China Seas.  A string of impassioned quarrels over history and resources and sovereignty that could pull the United States onto dangerous terrain with the world’s rising superpower, China.

China makes wide claims over ocean turf and resources far from the mainland.  Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Japan and more disagree.  And it is fired up right now.  This hour, On Point:  America, the Pacific, and the high seas showdown off China.

To listen to the show, play the audio link below, or click here to link to the On Point website.

Image provided by Voice of America

Need to catch up on the South China – West Philippine Sea disputes?  View related LolaKo posts:

One of the guests on the program is Graham Allison (Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University), discussing his recent Op-Ed article for the Financial Times – London “Avoiding Thucydides’ Trap”.  Article excerpt:

China’s increasingly aggressive posture towards the South China Sea and the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea is less important in itself than as a sign of things to come. For six decades after the second world war, an American “Pax Pacifica” has provided the security and economic framework within which Asian countries have produced the most rapid economic growth in history. However, having emerged as a great power that will overtake the US in the next decade to become the largest economy in the world, it is not surprising that China will demand revisions to the rules established by others.

…The defining question about global order in the decades ahead will be: can China and the US escape Thucydides’s trap? The historian’s metaphor reminds us of the dangers two parties face when a rising power rivals a ruling power – as Athens did in 5th century BC and Germany did at the end of the 19th century. Most such challenges have ended in war. Peaceful cases required huge adjustments in the attitudes and actions of the governments and the societies of both countries involved.

…The rapid emergence of any new power disturbs the status quo. In the 21st century, as Harvard University’s Commission on American National Interests has observed about China, “a diva of such proportions cannot enter the stage without effect”.

Never has a nation moved so far, so fast, up the international rankings on all dimensions of power. In a generation, a state whose gross domestic product was smaller than Spain’s has become the second-largest economy in the world.

If we were betting on the basis of history, the answer to the question about Thucydides’s trap appears obvious…. Click here to read the full article on the Belfer Center website.

More reasons to prevent plastic waste from entering our waters

A fish caught with a beverage ring around its belly in Lake Ontario PHOTO Jim Bodenstab via 5Gyres Newsletter.

Photo of basking shark with plastic ring around her nose. Credit: Craig Whalley via 5gyres.org blog

And why we should all be participating in beach clean ups…on our own, or through regularly scheduled clean up efforts by organizations like Save Our Shores (for Santa Cruz and Monterey County, California beaches).

Photo via 5Gyres.org


It seems an insurmountable task, when we use plastics for….well… just about everything!

Unfortunately, we currently recover only about 5% of the plastics we produce, so we have to decrease — and better yet — eliminate as much plastics as we can from our daily activities.

We can do this!

Visit  5gyres.org and take the Plastic Promise: 

I promise to:

  • Bring my own water bottle, mug, utensils and reusable bag.

  • Say ‘No Plastic Straw Please” when I dine out.

  • Buy what’s in the least amount of plastic packaging.

  • Pick up 5 pieces of plastic pollution I see littered whenever I’m out.

  • Engage family, businesses and co-workers to make this promise too.

Related articles: Lolako’s 12 Minutes (the average use time of a plastic bag) and Trash and Plastics Vortex in the North Pacific

Which cutting board is best, wood or plastic?

Ever wonder which cutting board is safest — traditional wood boards, those new bamboo cutting boards, plastic, or even glass boards?

Jeff’s freshly baked breads ready to slice, on top of bamboo cutting board

For the answer, check out this article from Ask Umbra (Green Living Questions) at Grist.org…  Excerpt:

In fact, this question of bacteria helps answer your question about plastic vs. wood. Plastic gained favor for a while because it is non-porous and dishwasher-safe, two qualities that made it seem like a healthier, cleaner choice. But it seems this was just another PR coup by the plastics industry.

According to research, including a study at the UC-Davis Food Safety Laboratory, wood wins the bacteria battle.

While bacteria such as salmonella and listeria are easy to clean off brand-new plastic boards, these boards become, say the researchers, “impossible to clean and disinfect manually” once damaged by knives. In other words, the sneaky little bacteria hide out in the cracks and crevices. Wood cutting boards provide a home for bacteria too, but only for a short time, and the little critters actually scoot down under the surface and die.

Click here to read the full article…

Related Links:

UC Davis Research: Plastic and Wooden Cutting Boards

Rodale’s This or That? Wooden vs. Plastic Cutting Boards

San Francisco Pistahan Festival – August 2012

With the weather near perfect and the sunshine abundant, people came to Yerba Buena Gardens from near and far to enjoy the Pistahan Parade and Festival, and to support the largest celebration of the Filipino-American experience in the Western U.S.

Entertainment on the main stage as well as other venues at Yerba Buena were constant, and it seems there was something for everyone to see and to do.

Present were well established companies promoting their products to the huge concentration of Filipino Americans at the festival, as well as non-profit organizations like Jeepney Projects, sharing information to the community on their mission to save the magnificent, and sadly, the critically endangered Philippine eagle.

Here are a few shots from my HTC Evo phone camera.  Yes, there was plenty of SUN and no fog at all in San Francisco for the Pistahan Festival weekend.

Members of the Kariktan Dance Company

Pictured above are Ana, Gabby, Samanta and Krisel, members of the Kariktan Dance Company – a non-profit group from Concord, California, promoting Philippine culture through dance and music.  They performed the Bulaklakan, a popular folk dance, as well as the Subli on the Pistahan Main Stage.

Earlier in the day, Mahea from the Paamano Eskrima Performing Arts group, based in Garden Grove, California, demonstrated their Eskrima skills.

Mahea has been active in Eskrima since she was 9 years old.

Eskrima — also known as Arnis — is a form of Philippine martial arts which emphasizes fighting with weapons (sticks, knives and blades).  It is one of only 4 official Philippine National Symbols.

Eskrima is the Filipino version of the Spanish word for fencing (esgrima).

Mahea, pictured in costume, also danced in the “Building Bridges” presentation on the main Pistahan Stage.

If you would like to see traditional Philippine folk dances, there are many videos on YouTube, from  groups promoting Philippine cultural traditions.

Here are other random crowd / festival participant photographs.  If you were at the event, please leave a comment.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge – the river merging with the sea

Here is my submission for the WordPress weekly photo challenge on the topic, merge.

Not fancy, simply nature, and the river merging with the sea.  Photos from the rocky shores of an island in the central Visayas region, Philippines.

Paddling the banka – outrigger boat — and passing the area where the river merges with the sea.

Bringing in fish catch

And so far, here are interpretations from other bloggers on the theme, merge

  1. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge | Figments of a Dutchess
  2. Weekly Photo Challenge – Merge | Just Snaps
  3. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge « Flickr Comments
  4. Weekly Photo Challenge – Merge | Chittle Chattle
  5. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge | Lonely Travelog
  6. weekly photo challenge : merge | bodhisattvaintraining
  7. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge | Bams’ Blog
  8. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge | Wind Against Current
  9. Travel Challenge;Merge « So where’s the snow?
  10. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge | My Sardinian Life | La Mia Vita Sarda
  11. Weekly Photo Challenge: MERGE | eagerexplorer
  12. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge « warmhotchocolate
  13. (Sub)merging « Broken Light: A Photography Collective
  14. Merge on Panoramic « bukaningrat ™
  15. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge « Gary Ng © Gnostec Photography
  16. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge « e-Shibin
  17. Photo Challenge: Merge « Detours by Deepali
  18. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge « Sin Polaris
  19. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge – Joy and Woe
  20. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge | Cardinal Guzman
  21. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge « All Access Pass
  22. Weekly Photo Challenge – Merge « The Urge To Wander
  23. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge « Wilderness Escapades
  24. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge « What’s (in) the picture?
  25. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge « Mike Hardisty Photography

Ube – now in waffles!

Why not?

At the Pistahan Festival in San Francisco this weekend, the catering company Pinx offered a new way to enjoy waffles.

Their clever twist on this classic food?  The addition of the beloved Filipino purple yam, the “ube”, presented with a caramelized syrup made with macapuno (sweetened strips of young coconut meat).

What did this Lola (grandmother) think?

Uber delicious ube waffles served up by Pinx Catering.

Come on…it’s got ube in it!  Ang sarap…delicious!  And I will add to our photo collection on the post, The Ube and Purple Filipino Food.

Winner of the 2011 San Francisco Street Food Festival contest, the Pinx motto is “Life is short…eat something memorable”.  I agree — and eat well too!

Check out their website and menu at www.PinxCatering.com.

Jose Antonio Vargas at the San Francisco Pistahan Parade and Festival

If you live in the San Francisco Bay area and have an interest in Filipino culture, do plan to attend the Pistahan Parade and Festival this weekend.

Pistahan is a fantastic festival of Filipino Culture and Cuisine, celebrating its 19th year at the Yerba Buena Gardens.

From the Pistahan website:

On Saturday, August 11 the Pistahan Parade, with nearly 100 contingents, kicks off the festival! It begins at 11 a.m. on Beale Street, goes down Market Street, and ends at Folsom and Third streets. The grand marshals are Cheesa Laureta, a contestant on “The Voice ” comedian Joey Guila; Ali Ewoldt, who appeared on Broadway in “Les Miserables”; singer Meleana Brown from TV’s “Duets”; and Jose Antonio Vargas, an undocumented Filipino-American journalist who wrote a Time magazine cover story about his experiences trying to gain legal status in America.

The Filipina Women’s Network and the Filipino American Arts Exposition are hosting a community networking and Filipino themed breakfast (with ingredients from Ramar Foods) and featuring a keynote speech by Jose Antonio Vargas.

Jose Antonio Vargas was part of the Washington Post team covering the Virginia Tech shootings, earning a Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Reporting. Vargas profiled Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg for the New Yorker in 2010, and his articles on AIDS inspired the documentary, The Other City.

In 2011, Vargas became the “story” when he revealed that he was an undocumented immigrant, in an essay for The New York Times Sunday Magazine.

Visit the Pistahan website for full details, including the parade route map, and the Pistahan and Bayanihan Stage schedules.

And…stop by Native Leaf’s booth and say hello — near the Pistahan Main Stage, on the Mission Street side of Yerba Buena Gardens.

About rattan and difference between rattan and bamboo plants

Rattan (Calamus) is sometimes mistaken for bamboo.  There is a big difference — bamboos are in the grass family of plants, and rattans are among the hundreds of types of palm plants.

Rattan canes are solid, while bamboos are hollow.  Both plants are used for making furniture, and strips of bamboo and rattan are also woven into wicker baskets and other handicrafts.

Wicker is the generic term for a woven fiber (usually natural plants), woven into functional items.

The theme for this week’s photo challenge at the WordPress Daily Post — WRONG — is a tough one!  I settled on my rattan photos.

My sister and I bought rattan rocking chairs for our mother while in the Philippines.  The group selling the chairs and rattan handicrafts grew rattan plants nearby and I  took a few shots, and focused on the rattan spikes.

So what is wrong with this rattan?

Rattan – Calamus, Philippines

It may be obvious to you now, but at the time, I did not notice that it had been hacked into, until I downloaded the photos.  I thought…oh no..my detail shot is marred and the palm was cut (though I was happy to see that it continued to grow).

Upon cropping the photo and looking at it closer…it looks like only the leaf frond was cut.  So it was I — who was wrong!

Close up of spikes – Rattan palm. Rattan plants have spikes to help it climb over other plants — like vines — and to deter animals from eating the plant.

So….the rattan palm continues on its growth and travel upwards.

Some rattan can grow over 150 feet!

Can you follow the source of this rattan….from the top left corner to the bottom right, leading to the half-constructed “Nipa Hut”? More on the “Nipa Hut” at the end of the post…

Fresh strips of rattan

Rattan canes and strips, stored in the ceiling area of the workshop — I love the pattern of the ceiling, from the woven palm leaves.

Kitty napping on a well-used, woven rattan chair.

Rattan Seedlings – propagation of rattan is only possible from fresh seeds.

Most of the world’s rattan grow in Indonesia, followed by the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Bangladesh.  Rattans help the overall ecosystem of forests, and unsustainable harvesting can be a problem.

We noted — at least in the area where we bought the rocking chairs — locals working with government programs to replant rattan in the area, and to help create a future plant and material source for the local handicraft industry.


And a note about Nipa Huts:

A Nipa hut, also called “bahay kubo” is a type of traditional Philippine stilt house.  Bahay Kubo translates to cube house, and kubo means cube in English.

The name “Nipa Hut” came during the American colonial era.— named after the thatched nipa palm fronds used for the roof.  Nipa hut photos below from the late 1800’s via the Gutenberg website.

native philippine hut late 1800sSmall, very basic Nipa Hut above, and below, image from inside of another type of nipa hut.

inside of native hut via gutenberg dot org

tuba gathering from coconut tree

Nipa hut behind man climbing coconut tree to collect “tuba” — coconut sap wine.  Hollow bamboo tubes are used to contain the wine.  Images  from the book “The Philippine Islands” by Ramon Reyes Lala. It was published in 1898 by the Continental Publishing Company.

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Growth (gardens and grandsons)

This theme for last week’s photo challenge and blogging experiment at the Daily Post is GROWTH.   And nothing can convey growth to a grandmother, like me, as much as seeing how quickly my grandsons grow.

As most grandparents will tell you, having grandchildren is a whole lot different from raising your own children.  For one thing, our age — and being on the finish line side of the aging spectrum — makes you focus on what is really important.  Plus, life’s experiences makes me more relaxed about, well… life in general.

It’s not that I am less busy…I am not yet retired, and am also growing a small business. It is more that I filter out — at least I try to — things that will not bring joy and value to my time.  And the time that I value the most, is time with loved ones, and most especially my young grandsons.

Here are some of my favorite garden and growth related photos of my two favorite little men.  They are now 5 and 7, but still little, for now…

Gabriel helping his Lola water plants

More water please, Lola!

Gabriel then shorter than the potted tomato plant

Jun among daisy flowers

This last photo I took at Elkhorn Slough — and is among my favorite photograph of the two little men.

“I am spending delightful afternoons in my garden, watching everything living around me.  As I grow older, I feel everything departing, and I love everything with more passion”  French writer Emile Zola (1840 – 1902)

Monterey Bay Birding Festival – September 13th to 16th

From the Elkhorn Slough Foundation’s latest newsletter, Slough Buzz…

The eighth annual Monterey Birding Festival is fast approaching! This year the festival will be held September 13-16th at the Watsonville Civic Plaza. September marks the peak of fall migration, with wintering shorebirds arriving en masse.

Greg Miller, one of the three key characters in Mark Obmascik’s book “The Big Year” (now a major motion picture) will be the keynote speaker on Saturday, Sept. 15.

When Elkhorn Slough Foundation (ESF) started this festival years ago we had hoped to share the joy of birding with a few local enthusiasts. After all, Elkhorn Slough is a mecca for birders looking to check off their ‘life bird’ list with our more than 340 species of bird species.

The Elkhorn Slough Birding Festival quickly grew into a giant celebration of all things bird, and became an entity all its own: today’s Monterey Birding Festival. You can join other birding enthusiasts on hikes, tours, in classes and more at this years’ festival, so we hope you’ll come enjoy the company of your fellow fans of our feathered friends!

For more information on the festival or to register visit http://montereybaybirding.org/

And for more on Elkhorn Slough (pronounced “slew”)  — an ecological treasure in Monterey Bay and the largest tract of tidal salt marsh in California outside San Francisco Bay — please visit www.elkhornslough.org.

Sanjay of SLOWCOLOR (and Sanjay visited Bhutan!)

I first met Sanjay Rajan at the Bioneers Conference last year, and learned about the company he founded, SLOWCOLOR.

At the San Francisco International GIft Fair (a retailer, wholesale trade show) this weekend, I stopped by to chat with Sanjay and Tricia O’Keefe, at their booth.

In the process of talking about topics near and dear to our hearts and minds, I found out that Sanjay recently visited the country of Bhutan.  My interest in Bhutan stemmed from learning about their belief that happiness should take priority over economic growth (see my post Bhutan Happy – Gross National Happiness (GNH) as an indicator of progress).

Sanjay is HAPPY that he visited the country of Bhutan Photo www.lolako.com

I admire Sanjay and the SLOWCOLOR values.  He is a person doing something to make a difference in this fragile world we all share.  With SLOWCOLOR, he is creating a new business model to address poverty and those who are socially disadvantaged, and at the same time, mindful of the health of our planet.

From the SLOWCOLOR website, About Us page:

Mahatma Gandhi said, “…be the change you want to see in the world…” With this sentiment I launched SLOWCOLOR in April 2011.

SLOWCOLOR is a premium, fairly-traded, eco-textile brand based in Boulder, Colorado.Our mission says it all:  We clothe the World in Beauty, Health and Responsibility. Our intent is to become a game changer in the textile industry.

Every fabric we create is handmade and naturally dyed. Always. We create finished goods in fashion and home furnishing and source fabrics to designers and companies under the SLOWCOLOR label.

As a social enterprise we focus on the integrated bottom line:  by paying artisans in India a life-changing living wage, using natural plant and mineral-based dyes and mordants and choosing fibers such as linen that grow naturally pesticide free and are not water intensive, SLOWCOLOR rejuvenates centuries-old fabric dyeing techniques and handlooming traditions, protects the environment and creates fabrics that are healthy for life.  

SLOWCOLOR connects artisan to audience, tradition to global market and health of the planet to consumer choice.

Sanjay Rajan – Chief Co(r)evolution Officer, SLOWCOLOR

As consumers, buyers of products, we have a lot of POWER.   And we can use this power to seek out, support and promote businesses like SLOWCOLOR — who are working to address social inequities, and who are working in ways that do not further degrade our environment.

Click on the photo below to visit the SLOWCOLOR website.

By the way — with the myriad of topics that Sanjay, Tricia and I discussed — I forgot to ask Sanjay further details about his trip to Bhutan!  More on Bhutan the next time I see Sanjay…

The IOSEA and Pawikan Conservation Project

I learned about the IOSEA — the Indian Ocean – South-East Asian Marine Turtle Memorandum of Understanding, from a link to my blog post about the giant Pacific leatherback turtle that washed up off an island in the central Philippines.

Based in Thailand, IOSEA is co-located with the United Nations Environment Programme’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (UNEP/ROAP).

Turtles and other sea creatures obviously do not recognize our geographical borders, so it is great to learn about organizations dedicated to protection and conservation efforts from a global standpoint, and focused on specific regions.

Website introduction: The Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation and Management of Marine Turtles and their Habitats of the Indian Ocean and South-East Asia puts in place a framework through which States of the Indian Ocean and South-East Asian region, as well as other concerned States, can work together to conserve and replenish depleted marine turtle populations for which they share responsibility. 

...In the context of sustainable development, the conservation and management of marine turtles globally and within the Indian Ocean – South-East Asian region presents a formidable challenge.

Many communities still utilise marine turtles for their meat and eggs, as a source of protein, and their shell for artisanal crafts. At the same time, marine turtles have both intrinsic and ecological values as important components of marine ecosystems.

Threatened or endangered in many parts of the world, they are considered as flagship species on which to base interventions aimed at protecting habitats of importance to a myriad of other marine species.

Major threats to marine turtles include unsustainable exploitation, destruction of nesting and feeding habitats, and incidental mortality in fishing operations...

A very sick turtle which is a recent rescue – Photo by Dave Ryan via Pawikan Conservation Project

From a recent feature story article: A sad reminder about the deadly impact of waste on marine turtles

…Once at the vet, they took a  blood sample and x-rays revealed a blockage in the digestive system. Unfortunately, despite all the care the turtle died and the autopsy revealed a shocking result. Dozens of meters of nylon ropes and pieces of hard plastics were found in the stomach.

…this was not an isolated case. Every year, the care centre receives wild marine turtles injured  because of human activities, all of them having ingested some plastic waste. In the best cases, the individuals reject the waste in their faeces, but in the worst cases, they die from intestinal blockage. Click here to read the article

The site has detailed and country-specific information, e.g. on the status of the leatherback turtles in the Philippines, by Renato Cruz, including leatherback sightings from the Pawikan Conservation Project.

The Pawikan Conservation Project is another organization dedicated to saving sea turtles in the Philippines (“pawikan” is Filipino for marine turtles).

Let us do what we can to support these conservation efforts!  We can all reduce our plastics use, and help to keep our beaches clean so that these items do not end up in our oceans.

Turtle eggs being buried in sand at the Bantay Pawikan Hatchery
Photo by Dave Ryan, via Pawikan Conservation in the Philippines