Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dolphin Saved by Eight-Year-Old Boy

 By Mona Sabalones Gonzalez

September is the time when dolphins are hunted in a Japanese town called Taiji. It is legal and has been going on since before the 17th century. Some 2000 dolphins are killed. A few are captured and sold to sea parks. The 2009 Oscar winning documentary, “The Cove” dwells on this.

But perhaps one of the dolphins got away, namely the 2.5 meter Risso dolphin, which was big as a whale, that eight-year-old Carl Andre Leuterio spotted while he was playing with his friends along the shore.

This happened in Barangay Poblacion, San Teodoro in Mindoro, an island near Luzon and northeast of Palawan. Through the heavy rain Carl saw the red eyes, and the dolphin’s heavy skin secretions. He knew the dolphin was weak.

Carl decided the sea animal wasn’t a shark because this dolphin came to the shore. It was large as a whale, but it was not likely to harm him. He spontaneously embraced the dolphin, and then he informed the authorities.

A third-grader from San Teodoro Central School, Carl has grown up by the sea. Just the month before, he closely watched as fisher folk freed a turtle that was caught in their nets, and sent the sea animal back into the deep.

Terence Panado of Bantay Dagat, and Jacinto Abdon of the Municipal Fishery Management were the first to reach the scene. As others arrived, they slowly guided the dolphin to deeper waters where he was released. The procedure took three hours.

The International Whaling Commission does not protect porpoises and dolphins. However, they oppose Taiji dolphin drive hunts which are not motivated by sustenance or culture. Dolphin and whale watching are good alternatives. Even better, photograph sea creatures as Poulsen does so others can appreciate the deep through a blog.  

For a poor family, a sick dolphin is also a tempting source for a lot of meals in the next few days. Kudos to little Carl. WWF Philippines gave him a “hero of the environment award” and P10,000.  Also awarded an equal amount of money were Panado and Abdon.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

10 Brahminy Kites aka Lawin sent home

By Mona Sabalones-Gonzalez

In the Philippines they are called “lawin” but in other countries they are Brahminy Kites. For those who are not too picky about bird specifics they are simply eagles. The good news is, 10 of them were recently sent back home. “Home” being the forest and the skies.

The 10 lawin are endangered species, and they had been kept at the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) animal rescue center in Quezon City. They were brought there by private citizens. At any rate, PAWB brought them to Mt. Banahaw, which is a protected area, making it a suitable habitat for them.

These birds are amazing kings of the sky. They eat dead animals, fish and insects and when they swoop low over the ground, or over tree tops or close to the waters it can be a breathtaking site. They are not doing acrobatics for us, they are catching live food and keeping the food chain in place.

The Philippines has a Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, otherwise known as R.A. 9147. The villagers who live among Mt. Banahaw were asked to help keep all the lawin safe so they may “be fruitful and multiply” as the Bible says.

Not all the birds wanted to go back home. One of them had gotten used to the bamboo cage and was reluctant to leave. Perhaps, it was worried about its food source. PAWB plans to watch over the cage for a couple of days because the birds may go to it during meal times. Even home needs some getting used to.   

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Dog Poop Power

By Mona Sabalones Gonzalez

An interesting piece from the AP was featured today in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. It was just a small filler about how dog poop can be recycled to power street lamps. There is one such lamp in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the article said, and it is part of a project to let people have a new view about dog poop.

So once the dog poops, you use biodegradable bags to get the poop and put it into the left tank, turn a wheel and the insides get mixed together--waste and water. The methane is then produced--a gas with no odor--that energizes the lamp. Dog poop power.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Eating Dog Meat is Dangerous for People

By Mona Sabalones Gonzalez

It would be a mistake to presume that eating dog meat is a way to address hunger and poverty among humans; or to view it a delicacy for the wealthy. It would be a mistake to say that dogs raised as cattle to be eaten (as happens in China) are different from the dogs one keeps in one’s home as pets.

Dog meat can kill people. An article by Kathleen E. McLaughlin in the Global Post warned that China has an alarming rabies problem. In 2007 there were 3,302 confirmed human rabies cases, 21 times as much as in the entire period from 1990 to 1996

The source of the problem is not among dogs as pets or dogs on the streets--but among dogs raised as cattle. This is because the dogs are crowded together in cages too small to accommodate all of them and they are abusively transported from place to place. An overcrowded cage full of dogs makes viruses spread easily. When handling these dogs, one is vulnerable to rabies which spreads through bites, scratches and saliva.

It is not just rabies that cattle-raised dogs are vulnerable to. In Guangdong some 149 dogs were rescued from meat markets—where they were about to be sold for consumption. Some 100 of those rescued dogs had to be euthanized because of distemper.

In two cases of human rabies in Hanoi, the patients were infected by butchering a rabid animal. In the Philippines, two people died of rabies after eating dog meat, the Global Post reported.

According to the Animal Kingdom Foundation Inc., the average annual human death toll from rabies is from 200 to 500 in the Philippines. Rabies is the most serious public health hazard in the country.

The Philippines ranks sixth among countries with the highest incidence of rabies. Some 10,000 dogs are infected with rabies every year.

R.A. 8485 is the Animal Welfare Act of 1998. Section 6 says:

It is unlawful to neglect to provide adequate care, sustenance, shelter or to maltreat any animal; to buy animals to torture; to kill any animal for human consumption except cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, rabbits, carabaos, horses, deer and crocodiles.

The R.A. 9482 Anti-Rabies Act of 2007 section 11 says any person found guilty of trading dog meat will be fined at least five thousand pesos (P5,000) per dog and face imprisonment for one to four years.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Laws Protecting Askals

By Mona Sabalones Gonzalez

At a recent dog event I ran into Greg Quimpo of Animal Kingdom Foundation. I saw something interesting in the AKF display—a poster that was translated in both Korean and English. I asked him why AKF did that, and he explained, “Koreans are fond of dog meat as food, especially in Baguio where Filipinos, especially Igorots, also eat dog food.”

Do not let this be misinterpreted as Koreanophobia. There are many Koreans now in the Philippines, and the truth is, it seems to me that their blending in with the Philippine community has been a lot easier than that of other waves of nationals who had come in previously. I tried at one point to understand why, and my theory is that it is because there were initially so many Korean students who came in to study English.

Young people tend to be very accepting and open and in my daughter’s high school there was one year when a whole group of Koreans suddenly came in. The friendships lasted and they go to each other’s parties. It is as if there is no distinction at all.

Koreans are very polite and helpful. In a coffee shop I recall one student offering his help to a group of Filipino women who seemed to have trouble starting their laptop. I think integration should always start with young people.

But where dog meat is concerned, this is something that is common among Chinese, Koreans and Filipinos. In China it is a delicacy and dogs are raised as cattle. In Europe dogs were eaten in war times, especially in France. So AKF made a poster against dog eating half in Korean because of their very quick growing population in our country, and half in English for Filipinos.

Here is the Philippine law on dog food: Buying or selling dog meat for human consumption is illegal. A violator can be jailed or deported.

Republic Act 9482 “Anti-Rabies Act of 2007” states: Any person who engages in buying or selling (trading) of dogs for meat for human consumption will be penalized and subjected to imprisonment for one to four years.

If the violation is committed by an alien, he or she shall be immediately deported after serving of sentence without any further proceedings.

Beware, too, of the fatal rabies virus! Dogs are the main carrier of rabies, and once the virus enters your body, you will die!

Report Violators Immediately.

Call PNP 02-723-0401 to 20 or Animal Kingdom Foundation: AKF Center: 045-6150895; AKF text: 0920-9835109 or


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

My Space, Their Space

By Mona Sabalones Gonzalez

Where and how we live places an enormous impact on the living animal, insect and reptile life around us. I saw this while dwelling on the surrounding life around us each day. Our pets are the overwhelming thing, dogs and cats, but what of the dragonfly I saw outside my window on a twig, or the birds that sing animatedly every morning? What of the frogs that I only heard after 14 years of living in my village when they croaked frantically after a typhoon uprooted trees and felled electric post lines, rendered chaos in the mud and beneath the ground where the frogs croaked.

At another time I remember a tree that fell in the park across a pathway. Anyone who walked down the path was attacked by hordes of ants crawling between toes, up one’s legs and into one’s pants in a nanosecond. It hurt and itched, but they were more frantic than we, as thousands of ants considered the felled tree home.
A human home takes up 40 percent of the world’s energy consumption, 50 percent if we consider the energy used to make the cement, steel, glass and aluminum. But our homes can be made in a way to save their homes, and can be built in a way that saves energy, draws less electric power, poses less harm to the air and addresses in its own small way global warming.
Some info on the house above;  it is, they say, purely concrete 2,500 psi, no wood, well ventilated, saves rain water, recycled roof, no need for insulation, transferable, expandable, no scaffolds, no forms, flexible, solar panels on flat room, no need for aircon--just an exhaust fan to circulate air. They supply and install in these houses in 2-3 months only, anywhere in the world, according to Green Architecture Advocacy Philippines.

This is what Architect Miguel Guerrero, deputy chair of the Green Forum says. This is to be tackled in the 2010 Manila Construction Show, organized by Green Architecture Advocacy Philippines (or Green AP) and LA Ducut and Co. Inc. (Ladci). It will run at the SMX Convention Center, SM Mall of Asia from Sept. 2 to 5.

Green AP is an NGO composed of architects and civic minded individuals. In this exhibit they want architects and experts to see what the ecological options are in building homes and show that any house can be built to require minimal energy, be comfortable and healthy.

The Green Forum theme, “Green Extremes: Master Planning to Neighborhood Developments” will focus on sustainability of barangays and neighborhoods. By starting at the lower level of society, it will translate to less problems at the higher levels. Green urban planning can be used in towns, municipalities and cities.

I personally like the fact that this time, the poor get it first.

I am excited to see what this forum has to offer, as there are whisperings in its midst that what seems to be green need not always be. More companies simply adopt the term in their marketing campaigns.

In discerning how green is green, one must ask:

1. Will the homes be livable without energy sucking appliances like air conditioners?

2. Are development projects factoring in future changes like population, traffic, et al?

3. Will foreign designers and materials have to be flown in for the construction? Beware the carbon footprint.