luna TIMES

Stacked neatly inside INAM‘s shelves along with all the other herbal medicine, were bars of soap called Mosbar. I have to admit I’ve never heard of this mosquito repellent before but nevertheless I purchased a bar to see if it would be a good alternative.

Dengue cases have surged in the past year, and what used to be a disease that was associated with the rainy season has now become an all-year-round public threat, according to the DOH. And quite recently the World Health Organization (WHO) even warned that climate change will increase the risk of dengue.

When all means of preventing mosquitoes from finding their way inside the house have failed, we usually resort to applying insect repellent lotion. I would often joke that the lotion’s stench, er, scent could repel not only biting insects but people as well. This type of repellent is quite thick, with the scent sticking to your skin for a few hours too. To wash the scent and stickiness (and the taste – blech ) off my hands, I discovered using dish washing liquid to be more effective than regular hand soap. I prepare our meals at home and wouldn’t want any of its residue getting into our food.

I’ve only used Mosbar once, and it’s a bit like Caladryl when it dries though not as thick and barely visible. Unlike organic soaps that use natural bug-repellent plants like citronella or cedarwood, Mosbar uses Deet, a chemical used in insect repellent products. The Environment Protection Agency (EPA), has given this chemical clearance as safe to use but still with all the necessary precautions. A recent Google search has also led me to a few more information about Mosbar. Apparently, it is being used, recommended even, in countries that have recorded high incidence rates of malaria. Its efficacy has been tested — and proven — in significantly reducing malaria cases in Afghanistan. Some travel guides also recommend using this soap when going to countries in Africa where malaria cases are also rampant.

At P35 per bar it is more economical than the commercially available insect repellent lotion that costs around P54 for a 50ml container. Our acupuncturist at INAM shares that she uses Mosbar as an insect spray by simply dissolving some of the soap in water, using a regular vegetable/cheese grater, before pouring it into a spray container. It is also quite odorless.

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Lastly, a photo of the dreaded Aedes aegypti, dengue-carrying mosquito:

from Wikipedia


This past month, for a few days at least during the Holy Week, including the day the transport strike was held, Metro Manila air was given the briefest of respites from the pollutants that are emitted daily by vehicles.


Our home is not far from a major thoroughfare. While our little house may be ensconced inside a wee little subdivision, our roads are accessible to tricycles whose loud, sputtering engines just obliterate all sound as they pass (quite embarrassing when you’re on the phone, extremely annoying when watching a favorite tv program), leaving behind a cloud of smoke that hangs in the air for roughly a minute or so. Sadly, I notice many people have become accustomed to this, and a familiar sight would be people simply waving off the smoke and dust away from their faces. While others just resort to wrinkling their faces in disgust. I also see many who don’t even seem to mind, just stay where they are and let their kids do the same. No reminders to the children about covering their nose or moving away until the smoke clears. Though I am not sure if such gestures — waving away the smoke or covering one’s nose — even does much in terms of protecting one’s self from the toxic fumes.

My guess is, perhaps not much since Metro Manila was found as one of the Philippine cities that has the largest “health burden” due to air pollution. This is according to the Philippine Environment Monitor 2006 (PEM), a joint report of the World Bank and the DENR released late last year. Respiratory and cardiovascular diseases as a result of constant exposure to poor air quality accounts for an estimate of 4,968 premature deaths in Metro Manila each year, the PEM report says. This isn’t any wonder since the report also mentions that particulates are at unhealthy levels in Metro Manila with Valenzuela and Quezon City having the highest health risks from particulate pollution.

While the Clean Air Act may have helped improve the air quality or at least lower the amount of the more toxic substances like lead in the air, as usual, stricter enforcement and better monitoring facilities for the agencies concerned remains our greater challenge.

* * *

For globe trotters, here are some of the cities which landed in the most polluted list.

Statistics are available in the World Bank’s “The Little Green Data Book”.

(I’m paraphrasing) “Whoever the people, through People Power, installs to the presidency, as long as that somebody is not beholden to the oligarchs, even if that somebody is a chimp, then that chimp will be a good leader.” These words were somehow the essence of what former national security adviser Jose Almonte said in Brother Eddie Villanueva’s show, Diyos at Bayan.

In the event that Arroyo leaves her post, the presidency will fall on VP Noli de Castro’s constitutional lap, and nobody else’s. Yesterday’s Inquirer editorial asserts this and even warns that people should be “wary of messengers proclaiming the gospel of snap elections.” To be honest, accepting the fact that de Castro is the duly constituted person to assume the presidency is the bitterest of pills to swallow, without even a guarantee of it being part of the cure.

Despite recent pronouncements that he has always been prepared — not preparing — to do the job in the event that the need arises, de Castro still gives the impression that he is someone who needs to be coached (constantly tutored?) on what to do. Surely if people were to base his credibility on his performance as national housing head, specifically in the relocation of displaced residents for the North Rail-South Rail Linkage Project, it would be less than reassuring.

Back in 2005, a few months after the “Hello Garci” controversy, the PCIJ came up with the story, The Man Who Would Be President. The report provides us insights into de Castro’s character through statements from friends, colleagues and critics. Those who want to give de Castro the benefit of the doubt may find it difficult after reading the report.

It is no wonder that back then and until today, de Castro is still regarded with much ambivalence by the people. Everybody knows he’s vice president. Everybody knows he’s next in line. And yet most people still ask, “Sino ipapalit natin kay Arroyo?”

Noli de Castro is very much a reminder to all of us that removing Gloria Arroyo is only the beginning. There is so much more work to do.

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Neither here nor there. That’s the impression I got after reading Jove Francisco’s blog entry today. While de Castro may insist that, “Nobody! Nobody, can dictate kung ano ang sasabihin ko!”, his actions suggest that he’s obviously still waiting for his cue.

Just a few hours before the CBCP released its statement, Lito Banayo at the Senate’s NBN-ZTE deal hearing, was explaining an “ecosystem of corruption” diagram which Romulo Neri presented to their group last December 2007. As Banayo narrated what he recalled Neri said about the different groups indicated in the diagram, I remember he mentioned Neri saying something like, “She has the bishops.” (referring to GMA and why calls for people power would not come from the Church or something to that effect).

After eagerly awaiting if the bishops would finally join most protesters’ call for Gloria Arroyo’s resignation, many were understandably disappointed, others even incensed and dismayed that the CBCP once again (in July 2005 the group also refused to join the calls for resignation during the height of the “Hello Garci” tapes) decided to choose such a bland stand (ayan nag rhyme pa). Unfortunately, it appears the Church leaders still think they can trust Arroyo to lead a fight against herself.

While for sure the defenders of greed and corruption will be quick to use the bishops’ statement as leverage, people should still resist the urge to label the bishops as in cohorts with the enemy. People who believe that GMA must go should not be disheartened. Maybe this time there would be much more meaning when it is the people who convince the Church’s leadership when it is time for evil leaders to go than vice-versa.

People seem to be coming to a decision on their own, anyway.

The power is really with the people.

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Kudos to Studio 23 for deciding to air yesterday’s Senate hearing (rather belatedly lang nga, starting after lunch pa ata). A big “Boo!” to other major networks: GMA 7, QTV 11, ABS-CBN 2, ABC 5, who deemed their regular programming of cartoons, Koreanovelas, afternoon soaps and sports events replays more important than the people’s right to know. That’s public service for ya.

In my daily commute to fetch K from school, taxi drivers have been engaging me in conversation about recent events, particularly Jun Lozada‘s testimony at the Senate’s NBN-ZTE Deal hearings. I guess one reason is my destination. When they learn I am bound for the UP Diliman campus, it almost always triggers questions like, “Ano hong tingin nyo dun sa sinabi ni Lozada?” or “Di po ba nagbigay na ng stand ang UP, Ateneo at La Salle?”

I take this as a good sign, of the keen interest of the people to know how others feel or think about the issue. What has really struck me though is the disenchantment and shared distrust for almost all people in government. This morning the taxi driver I talked to posed this question to me (which I think is what most people are also asking): “Sino ipapalit natin sa kanya? (referring to Gloria Arroyo)” For a second I wanted to quote Conrad de Quiros who said in his column today:

A dog is an alternative to Arroyo. At least it is loyal, at least it is cute.

It seems the enormity of the problem — graft and corruption (which does not end with Arroyo’s removal from office) and the deeply rooted social malaise — is not lost on the people. Sadly, while the problem has long been identified, at the moment, people still seem to be at loss on what to do.

On the day Erap was pardoned, I was so incensed with yet another (not surprising) political move for survival by Arroyo, I went and left a comment about a post on chessa in a food blog I frequent.

Just this week, an open letter to GMA from concerned Nagueños was published in the Phil. Daily Inquirer concerning the city’s deteriorating peace and order situation. I took this piece of news with much alarm and sadness. Not only because Curlytop is currently there but because we have been to Naga City and simply loved the place. Much of our fondness stemmed from the feeling of security we got all throughout our stay. That criminal elements are being allowed and in fact, seem to be protected by a dubiously-appointed chief of police filled me with much disgust, I talked to Curlytop if maybe we should consider purchasing a fresh fir tree that S&R will start selling sometime this month. I got this “news flash” from the same food blog I mentioned earlier.

Something is wrong with me.

I know it’s not apathy that makes me turn to this food blog and others like it. In fact, it may very well be too much concern for the sordid events taking place in our society that pushes me to blogs that allow me to forget, temporarily, how seemingly “trivial” stuff can help you get through the day and remind you that, sigh, there are still good things around us.


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