WP Photo Challenge: Angular – a driftwood shelter

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge “Angular” is from Xiao Yu:

What does angular mean to you? It might mean the corner on which you live or the intersection of sea and sky at a 180 degree angle. Angular also offers a chance to shoot from an entirely new perspective: from above, below, or even from the margins of the fray. Above all, have fun!

I heard my grandsons urging me to go faster…”Come on Lola!” as they ran towards a driftwood shelter they spotted ahead on the beach.  They couldn’t wait to get to it.

web Driftlog shelter 4

Photos of a driftwood shelter did not seem an obvious choice for this challenge, but I imagine whoever built this had to think a lot about angles to construct this beach refuge.

web Driftlog shelter 2

web Driftlog shelter 5

web Driftlog shelter 6

And it was fun to see my grandsons play, and to take photos of the structure from different angles…web Driftlog shelterWho knows from where and how far these logs floated before they landed on this central California beach.  From a recent storm, or a shipwreck from long ago, timber discarded at a faraway beach?

How long did these float among waves, sharp edges and contours softened by the water before landing here to be formed into this shelter…and how long before these wash back into the sea again, perhaps providing shelter for birds and ocean creatures as they float towards the next destination.

See more submissions for this WordPress blog photo challenge here.

The difference between the Veterans Day and Memorial Day holiday… and Filipinos in the U.S. Military

Today is a federal holiday in the U.S. to observe Veterans Day.  Though many federal holidays are observed on Mondays (no matter the actual day it falls in), Veterans Day is always observed on the 11th of November.

Veterans Day Poster web

And if you wondered what the difference is between Memorial Day (observed on the last Monday in May) and Veterans Day….

  • Memorial Day remembers and honors military personnel who died in the service of their country, in particular those who died in battle or resulting from wounds in battle.
  • Veterans Day is a day to thank and honor all who served honorably in the military, in peacetime or during times of war, and intended to thank and appreciate LIVING veterans for their service.
USAF-Crp1

Yes, Lola Jane, USAF 1980 boot camp photo

So from this U.S. Air Force veteran to fellow veterans…thank you for your service, and Happy Veterans Day!

Today, please take time to acknowledge your family and friends who served in the armed forces…and thank them for their service and contributions.

Did you know…thousands of Filipinos and Filipino Americans have served and are currently in the U.S. military?

Americans are sometimes surprised to learn that citizens from other countries serve in the U.S. military, as one may naturally assume that U.S. military people are required to be U.S. citizens.

Filipinos started to serve in the US Navy in great numbers after 1901, when President William McKinley signed an executive order allowing the Navy to enlist 500 Filipinos as part of is insular force (though there are recorded accounts from then General Andrew Jackson of “Manilamen” fighting for the U.S. during the War of 1812).

Filipinos have a long history of serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. In 2012, there were 65,000 immigrants serving in the US armed forces — and nearly 1/4 of the immigrants were from the Philippines!

Further reading from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

  • About the Memorial Day Holiday
  • About Veterans Day — especially if you are Interested in learning why the holiday is always observed on November 11th
Propaganda_poster_depicts_the_Philippine_resistance_movement

To learn more about the Military history of Asian Americans, click on the poster image

Further reading from the U.S. Navy Department Library:

  • Naval History and Heritage: Filipinos in the United States Navy (bulletins up to the year 1976).  Note:  When I was in the military, I had a close group of fellow Filipino airmen at the Air Force Base where I was stationed.  I knew back then that there were many more Filipinos in the U.S. Navy — compared to the Air Force and other armed forces — and I wondered why.  Information from the Navy Library answers the questions about why so many Filipinos served in the US Navy (well, up to the year 1976, at least). 

And for more about the history of Asians serving on behalf of the United States, see a comprehensive Wikipedia article here or click on the World War II “The Fighting Filipinos” propaganda poster.

Refraction…water, the iris and solar path lights

This week’s WordPress photo challenge from Kevin Conboy was interesting and definitely a challenge…

For this photo challenge, show us what “refraction” means to you. It could be an image taken in a reflective surface, it could be light bent from behind an object, or it could mean remedial math homework: the choice is completely up to you. I’m looking forward to seeing how you interpret “refraction.”

It seems that light reflecting on water is the easy place to go, and I did have some photos from the Monterey Bay Aquarium that would fit the theme for this challenge.

Monterey Bay Aquarium web

My photo of a snowy egret (a type of heron) posted on the 2014 Monterey Bay Birding Festival article may be relevant for the theme…

The shape of the bill reflected on the water…what do you think?

snowy-egret refraction post

Then there is the refraction on the iris of my grandson Jun’s eyes…

Juns Eyes

When I zoomed in on the iris…I could make out the letter “T” and part of an “A”…and it was a clue to where the photo was taken, at his TaeKwonDo dojang!

This was a tough challenge to interpret, and I can’t wait to see if other WordPress bloggers participating in this challenge posted eye photographs, too.

UPDATE November 13, 2014: After this challenge, I am paying more attention to refracted light…and during an evening walk, noticed these solar lighting patterns that fit the theme.

solar lights

solar lights 3 web

The pumpkin flavor craze — do all these products really contain pumpkin?

Lolas pumpkins photoWhat is up with the proliferation of pumpkin flavor everything?

We expect to see pumpkins — the sort used for Jack-O-Lanterns — outside of grocery stores this time of year.

Lately though, the pumpkin thing continues inside the store…from pumpkin spice yogurt and “limited edition” English muffins. Even the Oreo brand is in with their Pumpkin Spice Creme cookies!

Pumpkins used to be a sign that fall is here, Halloween is around the corner and soon, the Thanksgiving holiday will be upon us.

But now, the pumpkin and “pumpkin spice” signals a time of year when all manner of food and beverages are blanketed with this flavor.  And just like Christmas songs and Christmas decorations, it comes to us EARLIER each year.

So why is pumpkin and “pumpkin spice” flavor in so many food and beverage products these days (especially since pumpkin by itself is rather bland)?

Starbucks PSL

Starbuck’s PSL (photo via Starbucks.com)

Turns out we can thank Starbucks for the brilliant idea to offer seasonal beverages, and in particular their best-selling Pumpkin Spice Latte  or “PSL”

For around $5, you can get a 20 oz PSL Venti but only for a “limited time”.

But does the drink actually have real pumpkin? Nope, just pumpkin pie spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and clove.

A brilliant marketing idea, right?  Get people to anticipate a drink (just as we would anticipate the holiday season perhaps) which contains spices that are available all year round!

Here are other pumpkin flavor examples:

The “limited batch” pumpkin yogurt by Chobani, which does contain pumpkin…

The Thomas’ “Limited Edition” english muffins…which also had pumpkin…

Then there’s the Oreo brand cookie with the prominent pumpkin on the packaging and the words “pumpkin spice creme”…

pumnpkin spice oreo cookies web

Pumpkin Spice Oreo ingredients are: Sugar, Unbleached Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine, Mononitrate (Vitamin B1) Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid, Palm and/or Canola Oil, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Cornstarch, Salt, Baking Soda, Soy Lecithin, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Artificial Color (Yellow 5 Lake, Red 40 Lake, Blue 3 Lake), Paprika Oleoresin (Color)

Do you see any pumpkin on the ingredients list?  Nope!

From the FoodFacts.com blog on the Pumpkin Spice Oreo

We’d like to call your attention to the fact that there is absolutely NO PUMPKIN anywhere in that list. Oh wait, they’re PUMPKIN SPICE Oreos, not PUMPKIN Oreos.

Technically that would mean that these should taste like nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and anything else we use to flavor actual pumpkin pie. Funny, we don’t see any of those ingredients on the list either. We do, however, see Natural and Artificial Flavors — which of course is what the folks over at Oreos are using to impart the taste of pumpkin pie spices to the cream inside this cookie.

And then, to make it look authentic (because all of those spices carry a rich, deep color), they’ve added a healthy dose of artificial colors.

There are also pumpkin spice teas, beer and other alcohol beverages….like this pumpkin spice whiskey from Rhode Island-based Sons of Liberty…

This one actually has plenty of locally grown pumpkins and actual pumpkin spices, and sounds good!

Food manufacturers are succeeding with the popular pumpkin spice flavor, so this craze is probably here to stay for a while.   (See the 2013 Nielsen’s graph below showing pumpkin flavor products experiencing tremendous growth).

Nielsen pumpkin flavor chart 2013

So I suppose we can enjoy the fall and all the pumpkin and pumpkin spice stuff out there, especially if you happen to like pumpkin spices (I do!).

Just remember, most will probably NOT have real pumpkin, but hopefully there will at least be REAL pumpkin pie spices.  You just have to look at the labels.

Do you like this proliferation of pumpkin and pumpkin spiced food in the market? Wish it will stay or happy if it’s a fad that will soon fade?

Lolas Turbaned-Squashes photo

Turbaned squashes – photo www.Lolako.com  Click on the photo to find out the difference between a pumpkin, a squash and a gourd.

And by the way, if you want to know the difference between a pumpkin, squash or a gourd, here is the link to my post Autumn Time, Pumpkin Time, with fun photos of many varieties now available…everywhere (just like the pumpkin spice everything).

Even the NPR Car Talk guys made a joke about this pumpkin craze in this morning’s program, mentioning their “pumpkin chai brake fluid”.  Oh well…what’s next?

Further reading: Article from Vox.com:  The greatest trick capitalism ever pulled was making you want a pumpkin spice latte.

Remaining light and the dreamy theme for this week’s WordPress photo challenge

Sometimes, the time of day instantly makes a dreamy atmosphere…

Here is my photo submission for this week’s photo challenge theme, Dreamy, taken with my phone camera near the Moss Landing Marine Lab building (the building with the lights).

Dreamy Photo Challenge wb

My take for this week’s WordPress Photo challenge — photo I took of my grandchildren late in the summer, near the MLM Lab building.

The sun had just set.  The reflection of the colors, and remaining light on the water made me wonder what my grandsons were thinking of — or imagining and dreaming about — as they looked across the water.

The Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) is a marine science research and education facility and the second oldest marine lab on Monterey Bay.  From the MLML website:

The lab is situated in an excellent location for the study of the marine world.

The Monterey Submarine Canyon, the largest such feature on the west coast of North America, begins within a few hundred meters of the Moss Landing harbor and the MLML research fleet.

To the east of MLML is the Elkhorn Slough, the largest tract of tidal salt marsh in California outside of San Francisco Bay, and… continue reading (and to see photos at MLML open house)

To see creative interpretations from WordPress bloggers on this week’s photo challenge theme, click here.

Liberated from laundry? Humanity and my take on this week’s photo challenge

We walked to the river carrying everything we needed to do the laundry…from the bundles of clothes and wash basins balanced on top of our heads, the bars of soap, the pot of rice, bananas and other food we will cook and eat while we wait for the warm sun to dry the clothes on the rocks.

This was laundry day when I was a kid and lived in the province (away from the city). Since my younger sister and I were still little, we played and splashed in the water while the other women in our household went about the task of washing clothes.

Fast forward decades later, I am  back to the Philippines, and while stopped over a bridge to take in the view, I look below and see a scene from my childhood…women washing clothes by the river.

Laundry day 3 web

I am nostalgic and remember the fun we had playing in the river during laundry day — rearranging rocks to form our own little swimming pools and creating dams to capture fish and freshwater shrimps.

Then I thought, wait….I am a grandmother now…why are these women STILL doing laundry this way?

My take on this week’s WordPress photo challenge are photos about something we share as modern humans..that is, we all wear clothes, and these clothes need to be washed.

Laundry day 2a web

How we go about doing laundry though is a symbol of how developed the area is where we live, and how much time is available to women.

Here in the US, over 80% of households have clothes washers (even almost a decade ago, based on the these stats from the US Department of Energy):

Percent clothes washer stats US

For poor households, over 60% still had clothes washers…and anyone can go to laundromat to wash clothes.

We take for granted the clean running water we have access to, and the machines that liberate us from tedious tasks, like washing clothes.

Laundry day 5 web

How often is this scene still repeated around the world daily?  Imagine how liberated human beings  — particularly women — can be, simply by having a  machine that we take for granted here in the US.

Laundry day 4 web

It may not be something we ever think about, but to me, how laundry is done around the world is an indicator of progress.

And the work towards eradicating poverty worldwide — so that everyone has access to the tools, and yes, machinery — to allow us more time to live a good life and express ourselves is part of what defines our humanity.

To see beautiful humanity inspired photographs and other imaginative takes on the challenge, visit the WordPress Photo Challenge Site. 

For more on why I think there is still so much poverty in my home country of the Philippines, see my post Chameleons: Why Filipinos live and work in just about every country in the world.

Plastic: Now available in your…beer?

Beer now available with plastic

Beer…now available infused with plastic bits!

Plastic trash is found even at remote locations on our planet.  And now, a new study finds that little bits of plastic — perhaps remnants of our trash — can be found in beer, too!

Note: The study was conducted in Germany, a country where beer is a huge part of the culture and culinary history.  The Germans have brewed ale style beer for over 3,000 years.

From the Grist article, Beer: a magical mixture of hops, barley, and tiny pieces of plastic: Excerpt:

…This is how the study worked: Researchers lab-tested samples of 24 varieties of German beers, including 10 of the nation’s most popular brands. Through their superpowers of microscopic analysis, the team discovered plastic microfibers in 100 percent of the tested beer samples.

Reads the study:

“The small numbers of microplastic items in beer in themselves may not be alarming, but their occurrence in a beverage as common as beer indicates that the human environment is contaminated by micro-sized synthetic polymers to a far-reaching extent.”

It’s not breaking news that plastics don’t just vanish into the ether when we’re finished with them. Unless you haven’t heard, in which case … BREAKING NEWS: The plastics we use today will stick around longer than your great-great-great-great (and then some) grandchildren. 

Grandchildren at beach summer 2014

My grandsons enjoying the beach while their Lola (grandmother) enjoys the sunset, summer 2014 on the central coast of California

Sadly, it is not surprising at all to learn about the findings of this study. We already know about the plastic and trash vortex (now the size of Texas) in the North Pacific and of the trash contaminating the deepest of our planet’s oceans.

We are careless about plastic trash.  So why wouldn’t plastics eventually end up in our beverages?

All you have to do is look outside your car window the next time you are stuck in traffic. See that plastic bottle on the side of the road?  And look above…see that plastic bag up on that tree branch…plastic trash dot our landscape, no matter where we live.

And if you live near the water, that trash you saw by the roadside can end up in our waterways, and eventually turn into tiny particles that end up right back into your water source. Yummy!

Please be mindful of plastic trash….recycle, use alternatives, bring your reusable bags to the store, and most of all, let’s all do our best to control our plastic trash and not let it get into our oceans.

Let’s fix what we can for the health of our planet…and for our grandchildren.

Also see LolaKo.com post:

On thFrancis-Malasig-photo-philippine plastic trash probleme burden of civilization’s excess

About plastic trash problems in the Philippines (river of trash photo after typhoon by Francis R. Malasig via 5gyres.org)

 

plastic trim on walis tambo broomFrom the Native Leaf blog, post on when plastic use is totally unnecessary

…Before the advent of plastic strapping materials and plastic trim, these brooms were made entirely from natural materials — and the entire broom would have been biodegradable.

book_plastic_greyLolako.com post Plastic Rich / Plastic Poor on Susan Freinkel’s book, Plastic, A Toxic Love Story. Foreign editions in Australia, China, Korea, Spain and Taiwan – Link to Ms. Freinkel’s website, here.

Lola Jane’s post excerpt: I am part of this plastics generation — and problem — and feel propelled into doing something, before it is too late.

The question is…what can I do…how do I get the word out?

 

International Literacy Day

Intl Literacy DayToday, Monday, September 8th is International Literacy Day.

Most of us take being able to read and literacy for granted…but worldwide, there are still 781 million adults who are illiterate (more than DOUBLE the population of the entire United States).

  “Literacy is a key lever of change and a practical tool of empowerment on each of the three main pillars of sustainable development: economic development, social development and environmental protection.”  Former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan

Here are the statistics from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO):

UNESCO illiteracy table

And from UNESCO on why literacy is important…

Literacy is a human right, a tool of personal empowerment and a means for social and human development. Educational opportunities depend on literacy.

Literacy is at the heart of basic education for all, and essential for eradicating poverty, reducing child mortality, curbing population growth, achieving gender equality and ensuring sustainable development, peace and democracy…

A good quality basic education equips pupils with literacy skills for life and further learning; literate parents are more likely to send their children to school; literate people are better able to access continuing educational opportunities… continue reading

Also see Third Eye Mom’s blog post about READ Global  — and where I first viewed the beautiful video below on READ’s program in Bhutan…excerpt:

READ (Rural Education and Development) Global, a not-for-profit organization based in San Francisco, changed the future by opening their first READ Center, a community library and resource center that teaches people to read. Before READ began working in Bhutan, the country had only one public lending library in the entire country. Today, there are five READ centers reaching over 37,000 rural villagers creating a culture of reading and providing access to information and resources to help farmers, children and women’s empowerment…

The statistics regarding illiteracy are heartbreaking:

    • 17% of children in the developing world will not enroll in primary school
    • 39% of South Asia is illiterate.
    • 50% of women in South Asia are illiterate.
    • On average, kids only go through 4.7 years of schooling in South Asia (continue reading)

View this inspiring video on creating a culture of reading…

Great work READ Global!

Seeing the type of work that organizations like READ Global is doing, I believe we can further use technology to good use and bridge the gap and enormous disparity between modern libraries (see post from yesterday) and new libraries in developing countries —- and achieve goals of reducing illiteracy rates worldwide! What about you?

Related LolaKo.com post:

A library with no books — and it’s at a university

Cookbooks

How much longer will homes have bookcases with actual books ?

I wanted to look up a recipe for quince (a type of fruit with a lovely scent that has to be cooked before eating) and I debated whether to go to the bookcase and thumb through our cookbooks… or to just search for “quince recipes” on our Samsung tablet.

I had access to both, so I had the choice…

But If you are one of the 550 students attending the brand new Florida Polytechnic University and want to look at books from their library, you won’t be going towards the library’s shelving system to pull out a book because at this university library there are no physical books to check out — all their books are in digital format only.

Is this the inevitable next phase of the digital era?

When a university opens a new library and there are no actual books to touch, to pull out of library bookshelves, when there are no paper pages for fingers to flip through, or actual books to carry to the check out counter, then a new era is truly upon us.

la-et-jc-florida-polytechnic-universitys-bookl-002

Brand new library at Florida Polytechnic University – Photo by Rocket Science Photography / Florida Polytechnic University The university’s campus library has no books.

Excerpt from the L.A. Times article…

…That is, unless a student happens to bring an old-style hardcover or paperback to school.

They might; like most university systems, Florida State makes all of its books available to students through interlibrary loans, giving them access to 6 million volumes.

But the idea of the new Florida Polytechnic library is to move away from paper. Printers for articles accessed online are available but not encouraged. Instead, the staff hopes students will organize their research online with tools that are part of the library service.

There are also some collections of print books that Florida Polytechnic owns, but they are not currently available on campus.

“As for the electronic-only aspect of the library resources,” writes the trade magazine Library Journal, ” [Director of Libraries Kathryn] Miller emphasized that it’s the information that’s key, not its form.

Oh wow…so the environmentalist part of me is happy to know we are saving trees and saving the resources that goes into making paper.  Still…there is something kind of sad about no longer holding an actual book in one’s hands.

juns and minecraft book web

My 9-year-old grandson, Jun reading his Minecraft book. Will he look at this photo when he is a grandfather and feel nostalgic for the days when he held a physical book in his hand — or show the photos to his grandchildren of a bygone era when kids still  held books with their hands?

Is it just me being nostalgic (already!) even if there are still books all around me?

Will my grandsons’ children no longer have physical books around them — at least as I define books — and will they even still call them “books”?

And when my grandsons go to college, will their university library look like Florida Polytechnic’s library, too?

Lola and Gabriel hands

Hands — the digits of Lola Jane and grandson Gabriel, who was about 3 1/2 years old at the time this photograph was taken. The origin of the word digital is the Latin “digitus” meaning finger / toe.

It is interesting that the origin of the word “digital” is the Latin digitalis from the late 15th century — digitus meaning finger / toe.  

What do you prefer these days when you want to read the latest book or when you look up recipes?

Traditional books or digital, e-book sources?

And if you are a regular visitor to libraries (like we are)…what will you miss?  Will you miss the smell of books and paper?  And what about the tactile process of touching, picking up and selecting books versus the mostly visual act of reading from a tablet or smart phone…

Gosh, will there even be libraries  then, or will these buildings be unnecessary if there is access to any and all information we want anytime and anywhere?

Gutenberg-press-print-drawingRelated Lolako.com post: How long before print newspapers completely disappear

Also see The Digital Scriptorium – from the University of California, Bancroft Library — a growing image database of medieval and renaissance manuscripts that unites scattered resources from many institutions into an international tool for teaching and scholarly research. 

WordPress Photo Challenge Reflections: cactus, black oak and well cover

Here is my submission for the WordPress Photo Challenge – reflections, inspiration from Ben, whose beautiful photos are posted on his blog, Flights, Camera, Satisfaction.

My three reflection photos:

Saguaro Cactus Reflection r

Saguaro Cactus grown from seed, mirror reflection.  Saguaros can live up to 150 years, and at about 75 years old, will grow an arm (called a spear).  Click on the photo to view post.

Being open to appreciating new things, such as for plants I did not care for in the past, like cactus…which are actually amazing plants.

Springtime California Black Oak

To be in the moment to appreciate reflections of time.  Spring is my favorite time of the year, and a great time to photograph trees like the California Black Oak sprouting light green leaves…

Well-Cover-Detail-Larkin-House reflection

And reflection from the well water that shows off details of its metal cover (also used in the WordPress photo challenge, resolved to pay attention to — .and to capture more details in my photographs.)

And about that cactus on the photograph… It is now 18 years old and was grown from seed.  If you are curious to know how long cactus seeds keep (or are viable)…check out the comment section on Lolako.com’s “Contact” page, here.   Can you guess?

  • over 20 years?
  • over 200 years?
  • or for over 2,000 years?

Chameleons? Why Filipinos live & work in just about every country in the world

The words “why are Filipinos like chameleons” showed up on my blog’s search engine terms recently.

Chameleon definition

Mixed-Up-Chameleon by Eric CarleI did not write an article (until now) that connected the two words — Filipino and chameleon — but I do write often about Filipinos and the Philippines, wildlife, and about a particular chameleon, as in the Eric Carle book that I read to my grandchildren, The Mixed-Up Chameleon.

Initially I thought the search words were funny.  Chameleons — a special kind of lizard — are not native to the Philippines.  And then I wondered what information was sought…was this inquiry and the string of words derogatory?

And are Filipinos like chameleons? We Filipinos do tend to blend in, don’t we?   We all speak English (very well — and most with a clear American accent) and since English is one of the most popular language in the world, all that much easier to blend in, right?

Aside from language, is it also because most Filipinos are Christians?  A Pew Research demographics study on global religion found that Christians are the most evenly dispersed around the world and represent the largest percentage among the world’s religion  (2.2 billion or 32% of the world’s majority religion) .

20_religionCountryMap from Pew Research

Graphic on majority religions by country from Pew Research. The Philippine archipelago has the most Christians among countries in Southeast Asia,

I am pretty sure that Filipinos live and work in just about every country in the world — around 10% of the total population, and 2.2 million contract or Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) — according to Philippine government data.

  • When I lived in Germany in the mid 1980’s, one of the first things our landlord, Klaus, wanted to do was to introduce me to the Filipina married to a local German, in our town of Dudeldorf.
  • When we first immigrated to the United States and living in Portland, Maine (of all places, right, and not exactly a hotbed for Filipinos in America) my mother quickly found another Filipina living nearby who befriended us.

So,  super chameleons?  Able to survive in any environment, no matter where on the globe?  Or rather, is it more because we don’t stick out?  The Philippines was a Spanish colony from 1521 to 1898, so most Filipinos have Spanish last names.  Is this another way we blend, since our names are not so unusual?

A friend theorized that because the Philippines is a nation of islands (over 7,000 in case you did not know), Filipinos are accustomed to traveling beyond their own island to the next…and the next, so what is another 5,000 more miles?  It’s in our DNA!  Hmmmn, interesting, and maybe!

Are Filipinos everywhere because they like adventure, because Filipinos like to travel? Is it by necessity, for survival? Because we must…as a sacrifice to contribute financially for the greater good of the family?

In 1980, the Philippines scored higher than China, Thailand and Brazil on the United Nations (UN) Human Development Indicators (HDI). The most recent UN HDI report show these three countries now have higher HDI scores than the Philippines.  And after World War II, the only other country in Asia richer than the Philippines was Japan.

So what happened?  Could it be because the Philippine population has more than DOUBLED in the last 3 decades?.

The Philippines is the 12th most populous country in the world, and according to United Nations GDP / per capita income data, over 40% of Filipinos live on less than $2 per day.

These days, I think Filipinos are everywhere primarily because of over population and because the economy cannot support the population…so by necessity.

Every year, millions of Filipinos have no choice but to leave their homeland to find work elsewhere.  Many work in the shipping industries (notice that when cruise lines, or container ships are in the news, often, there are Filipino crew members?)

The Philippines export nurses all over the world.  And most recently, our teachers, too.

It is easier to understand Filipino communities in neighboring countries like Australia, New Zealand, especially Korea and Japan.  But Zambia?  ICELAND, The Isle of Mann?

Tropical Philippines web

Photo of banka (traditional Philippine outrigger boat) Lolako.com. From lush green tropics to….Scandinavia?

And how is it that Filipinos manage to survive, and even thrive in countries with climates and cultures so different from their homes?  And do we — the chameleons —  blend in no matter where we are  because it’s safer if others like us, accept us, include us in their, and what then becomes OUR community?

In Sweden alone, there are over 20 Filipino communities! (see Fincomlas Sweden)

I admire Filipino characteristics — our friendly, caring nature, resilience, our sense of humor, and strong commitment to family  — and yes, maybe the chameleon qualities in a positive sense.  But I do hope that in my lifetime, the majority of Filipinos who live and work overseas will be because of their own choice to do so, and not because they have no other choice.

This post was inspired by a search query on my blog, and turned emotional when I thought of families torn apart and separated for many years due to the economic needs of Filipinos.  I’ll continue to explore more on this topic, and of course to celebrate and remember our food and culture.

In the meantime, if you are a Filipino in a faraway place, please share your experience, or your family’s experience.  Do you think Filipinos are like chameleons?  If so, is this positive or a negative?

Related Lolako.com posts:

Biggest and Smallest Shark

I’ve posted several articles about sharks on my blog — originally because of my irrational fear of sharks.  When I think of sharks, I usually think of BIG sharks…like the 4,000 lb shark tagged in 1990′s off Santa Cruz county caught in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez.

Q A book about Sharks by Ann McGovernMy older grandson read the Scholastic book Questions and Answers about SHARKS by Ann McGovern, and we learned more!  Note: The book is great for readers in Grade 3 to Grade 5.

So…we knew that there were over 370 different types of sharks and about the whale shark — which at 60 feet long is the biggest shark, and the biggest fish in the world.

We didn’t know about the a tiny shark that fits in the palm of your hand.  Except:

The Japanese named it tsuranagakobitozame.  The word means “the dwarf shark with a long face.”

At about 5 inches long, the tsuranagakobitozame is one tiny shark (with a very long name)!

To learn more about whale sharks (which are listed as Vulnerable” on the IUCN Redlist. because of pressures from unregulated fisheries in China, India and the Philippines), please visit the Georgia Aquarium’s FAQ page, here.  The Georgia Aquarium and the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, Japan, are places to see whale sharks on exhibit.

Also visit the The Florida Museum of Natural History’s Ichthyology Department for a great FAQ page on shark basics, here…and if you are curious to know if sharks sleep, if sharks have bones, or how long sharks live.

Did you know….fossil records show that the ancestors of modern sharks swam in our oceans over 400 million years ago?  That makes them older than dinosaurs!  Turns out that sharks have changed very little over time.

Click here to view Lolako.com’s shark related posts

Weekly WordPress Photo Challenge: From Lines to Patterns (and about that face from the last post)

The face in the prior post is of a tree frog indigenous to California.  It was not in a tree, but by the spa, in a little crevice near the filter.

The treefrog’s patterns also works for this week’s WordPress photo challenge from Cheri Lucas Rowlands: From lines to patterns

Sierran Tree Frog profile

Unused for years, the spa must have provided frogs with a good source of water over the summer — though unlike bullfrogs and other kinds of frogs, tree frogs, as the name implies,  spend much of their lives outside of the water.

The dark stripe through the eyes made it fairly easy to identify this frog.

Sierran Tree Frog

Sierran Tree Frog in the spa filer are

Looking at the CaliforniaHerps.com website, I believe it is a Sierran Treefrog (Pseudacris sierra, formerly called Pacific Treefrog or Pacific Chorus Frog).

At first, I thought it was a Baja California Treefrog or perhaps the Northern Pacific treefrog. 

But since it lives here, in Monterey county, the only frog / habitat area match is that of the Sierran Treefrog.

You may have heard that frogs are considered indicator species, or animal sentinels, and a sort of planetary canary.

Frogs have thin skins that are permeable to water, and lay their eggs in bodies of water.  Perhaps because of this,  they are sensitive to pollutants and other problems with the environment.

Sierran Tree Frog in Monterey County rd

This Sierran treefrog is about 2 inches in lenght…striking patterns!

pregillamap3species2

Green part is approximate range of Sierran Tree Frog in California

 

It is comforting to know the little frogs survive in our backyard, despite the large presence of big business agriculture in our county (Monterey is the only county in the United States with more than 1 BILLION in annual vegetable sales).

Though these frogs are not endangered, frog populations can decline quite quickly.

For more, please visit California Herps – A Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of California

 

And for more on a previous post about Monterey County agriculture, click on the line / pattern photo of the strawberry fields below.

Strawberry Fields Forever

or to find out what grows in the rich soils of Monterey county, click on the lines of begonia photo below…

Nursery Field of Begonia Monterey County rd

 

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: An Unusual POV (and the very basic…placing my subject away from the middle)

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge from Cheri Lucas Rowlands is: Challenge yourself to rethink your ideas about what subjects are appropriate, and then challenge yourself again to find an unusual perspective on your subject.

I love this week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge because this is exactly what I am trying to do…to change my point of view when taking photographs.

Right now, this point of view is just to shift my subject away from the middle.  The photo of my grandson, Gabriel below —hot chocolate in hand— is a good example.

Gabriel and hot cocoa As a (forever) amateur photographer, I tend to place my subject in the middle of the photograph.  It’s time to move on and actually work at techniques to take better pictures!

My daughter recently gave me the book “The BetterPhoto Guide to Digital Photography” by Jim Miotke and I am getting great tips. The most interesting chapter so far is on the rule of thirds when composing photographs.  So…I am rethinking my shots and allowing more of the background in my photos.

Digging at the Beach

I know this is so basic…especially as I see so many stunning photographs when I visit blogs during the WordPress Photo Challenges.  And it is not so unusual yet..but its a start of changing my POV.  What do you think?

A raft of sea otters

Sea Otter Group Moss Landing

Raft of sea otters at Moss Landing Harbor area, photo by Jun-Yong Brown

“Is this natural?” asked the tourist from Israel as he stood next to me and my grandsons, amazed at what he was seeing.

“I mean, are they wild–is this their natural habitat or some preserve?” he added.  I replied “Yes, they are wild, and this is where they live.”

Raft of sea  otters rd

Photo by Jun-Yong Brown

We were at the Moss Landing State Beach earlier in the day, and my grandsons were excited to see  two sea otters swim past us, very close to the shoreline.

Then on the way home, we stopped to look across the inlet area facing Elkhorn Slough and were delighted to see a congregation of otters…much more excitement!

About 5 minutes after watching the raft of otters…they all swam away.  The conference over perhaps….or maybe it was time to forage for food.

Seeing the raft of otters was a nice way to end to our day at the beach, and I am again so happy to live in the Monterey Bay area, with so many opportunities to see wildlife.

White Face Sea Otter rd

Photo by Jun-Yong Brown

During the early part of the 1700’s, the California sea otter population was estimated to number 150,000.

From the mid 1700’s until the early part of 1900, these otters were almost hunted to extinction for their fur.

Today, California sea otters remain endangered with a population of  less than 3,000.

Boys at Moss Landing beach rd

Earlier in the day, my grandsons spotted 2 sea otters swimming close to the shore at Moss Landing State Beach

Sea-otter-in-kelp-anchor-eye-open-close-up

Photo by Jeff Roth

For more on sea otters, visit related Lolako.com Post: The sea otter’s one-eyed peak  

Adorable Sea Otter video – on the rocks by Monterey Bay wildlife photographer Efren B. Adalem

and visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium website page Sea Otters as Risk

For more on Elkhorn Slough, visit  the Elkhorn Slough.org website here.  Excerpt:

Dunes and broad stretches of open sandy beach characterize the inner curve of Monterey Bay. The expansive beaches are interrupted only by the outlets of the Pajaro and Salinas Rivers, and the entrance to Elkhorn Slough and Moss Landing Harbor. The protected waters of the slough and its associated mudflats, wetlands, and nearby dunes provide a haven for a wide variety of birds, fish and unusual marine life. This remarkable variety of habitats provides visitors a rare opportunity to explore and discover nature’s secrets.

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: The Sign Says…Sea Shells From Around the World (when it should say Soup, Nuts & Shells)

From a roadside store off of California Hwy 1 on the central coast,  the sign says…

Sea shells from around the world rdBut actually, the shells came mostly from ONE part of the world…the Philippines

pangasinan shell chimes and dried spiny fish
The sign says “wind chime Pangasinan w/ pink” but the wind chimes are bundled up in a plastic bag, while the eerie puff/spiny dried fish with big eyes are the prominent items on the shelf (Pangasinan is a province in the Philippines).  Look at the eye on the fish to the right, in the plastic bag.

Sea Shells detail

The sign also said ORGANICS but instead I found soup, baby food (??t?) nuts and, uh, no organics that day…

The shells for sale are on the lower shelf.

Soup to  Shells rd

Star Fish and Pineapple rings rd

So how about a star fish, and by the way, maybe some dried fruit, too?

sea shells, pasta and  lentils rd

A basket pack of mix shells from the Philippines, and oh yes, do we need pasta and lentils this week?

This is indeed a strange “Sea Shell” store!

Sea Shells detail 1

Beautiful patterns on these shells, I should have thought about these shell photos for the previous patterns challenge!

And here are photos of signs I found for sale at the Moss Landing Antique Faire last year.

Wine Classy

Gas Arm Leg Both sign at Moss Landing Antique Fair

I used the above gas sign photo for a recent post on which countries pay the highest and cheapest gas per gallon.  One never knows when a photo will come in handy for a blog post (these photos were from my phone camera).

Click here to see interpretations from the WordPress and blogging community for this week’s photo challenge theme from Sara Rosso  “The Sign Says”.

If not sit down rd

Lastly, do you know why this sign was above the toilet inside a stall at a Chinese / Vietnamese restaurant (spotted in San Jose, California)?

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge – Background

The WordPress Weekly Photo challenge is a tough one this week with Pick’s challenge to …

 share a picture that says In the Background.

This is the photo I got —-

Philippine Flower in the Background rd

though my intent was to take the photo below…

Philippine  Flopwer rd

Close up of flower from the Philippines

I’m not sure what happened, if it was a breeze that blew a leaf on top while I was photographing, or a double exposure.  Any thoughts from photographers — professionals or newbies (or perpetual beginners like me) —  out there in the WordPress community?

Click here to see interpretations of the theme and creative submissions from other bloggers…

Adorable sea otter

If you need to change your mood today — or for fun and lightheartedness — take a look at this adorable sea otter video found on Monterey Bay wildlife photographer Efren B. Adalem’s website (Ooh! Look! Photography)…

Efren’s otter pictures are used in the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s newly remodeled sea otter exhibit.

To view Efren’s stunning wildlife photograph gallery, visit Ooh! Look! Photography, here:

From Efren… “I am enjoying documenting the birds and wildlife in the Monterey Bay area of California. We live in one of only three fresh water wetlands left in California.

This special place needs to be protected for all the migratory birds that need wetlands to survive. Ooh! Look! Photography donates a portion of its profits after taxes to The Watsonville Wetlands Watch.

And yes, I adore sea otters!

Related Links:

Lolako.com’s post, The Sea Otter’s One-Eyed Peak…

More on sea otters here (link to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sea Otter Web Cam)

Gasoline Prices — countries paying the highest and lowest per gallon

I thought that gas prices were trending down….yeah, right.  Is it ever going to go down?

Gas Arm Leg Both sign at Moss Landing Antique Fair

Gas Arm Leg Both sign spotted at Moss Landing Antique Faire last year

Below is an example of gasoline price this week in the Monterey Bay area, California…

Monterey County California Gas Prices rd

I was curious to know how American gas prices compared to the rest of the world and found an interesting Bloomberg.com article on Highest and Cheapest Gas Prices by Country.

Note: The article is based on gas prices from Jan. 3 to 18, 2013 of select countries with a minimum income of $3.50 a day per person.

It  turns out, the top 5 highest price per gallon countries are more than DOUBLE what we pay here in the United States.  The top five:

  1. Turkey – $9.89 per gallon
  2. Norway $9.63 per gallon (and the only large oil-producing country with high gas cost, as they use oil profits for services to the population, e.g., free college for citizens)
  3. Netherlands – $9.09 per gallon (it is interesting that the Dutch has the most bicycles per capita in the world)
  4. Italy – $8.87 per gallon (it cost the same for Italians to fill up their tanks each week as it does to buy a weeks worth of food)
  5. Portugal – $8.82 per gallon (64% of this price goes towards taxes, which went up over 10 years ago to help protect the environment)

And the 5 countries that pay the least per gallon of gasoline?

  1. Venezuela – $0.06 per gallon, where according to the article, “the cost of filling up the 39-gallon tank of a Chevrolet Suburban in Venezuela is $2.34, compared with $128.31 in the U.S. and $385.71 in Turkey”.
  2. Saudi Arabia – $0.45 per gallon
  3. Kuwait – $0.81 per gallon
  4. Egypt – $1.14 per gallon
  5. United Arab Emirates – $1.77 per gallon

So…compared to Venezuela and Saudi Arabia…heck yeah we are paying a lot, but compared to Turkey and Italy, hello(!) it turns out that gas is quite cheap here in the U.S.

Then again, from a conservation and climate change standpoint, do you think gasoline should cost even more here — and everywhere else — to force us to conserve our resources and further reduce emissions (cars emit greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide, which contribute to global warming).

I do wonder if a transition to alternative energy sources is happening way too slow, or worse, too late for our planet’s global warming problems?

If you are interested in seeing gasoline cost in countries like the Philippines, Canada, the United States and how 57 others rank, click here…

What is the gas pricing like where you live?  Too high, or too cheap in your opinion….

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme Escape…escaping into a human sized nest?

The theme for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is ESCAPE.

Many of us have an abundance of scenic photographs and of escaping out….

I also thought about escaping in, and remembered these photographs I took of a human sized nest made from tree branches at the Big Sur Spirit Garden, after a visit to the Big Sur Bakery.

Big Nest Escape rd

What do you think?  Would you want to have one in YOUR garden or backyard…lots of pillows, cozy blankets (they custom make these for one…or for two or more people).

Or is this type of structure just for birds?

Big Nest Escape outside rdI photographed this “fence” this morning during a walk.   A fence that is not very helpful in preventing an escape, or a break in…

Broken Fence rdk Sometimes the only escape you need is actually an escape into the present…it sounds counter intuitive, but maybe the best kind of escape from the mundane is to truly engage with someone, a family member, or an activity.

Aquarium Escape

My grandson Jun when he was about 4, at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Related links (click on the photo to link to the website)

FlycatcherHatchlings_Local-nomad.net_

Real birds in nest — see the Local Nomad’s new post Spring has Sprung, hereTwo Pacific Slope Flycatchers (I think of them as Fiona and Fritz)….”

Big Sur Spirit Garden NestBig Sur Spirit Garden’s Spirit Nest, here

treebones-nest big sur

You can rent a human nest for the evening (and yurts too!) at Treebones Resort in Big Sur