Greener way to welcome the New Year


2013 is now two days away!

What could be more fun to welcome the new year than by making noise and setting off fireworks?  Yes, fireworks has been so much a part of peoples’ culture. It seems to be woven into the very fabric of almost all nations that an occasion cannot be complete without it.

But don’t you realize that even as we marvel at those blazing, colorful fancy lights up there, we are also putting our lives at risk?  When we set off fireworks into the air, it releases toxic elements like lead, smoke and particulates, chromium and barium, carbon monoxide, chlorates, dioxins, nitrogen and sulfur oxides – chemicals that are hazardous to human health, other animals, and the environment.  Although, there has been no record yet as to how exactly fireworks affect human health and the environment, it is neither easy to pin down the reason for the development of anemia, hypothyroidism, or cancer.

Let’s take a look at some of the composition of fireworks:

Perchlorates.  Although much of this compound is transformed to a controllable level during combustion, its residues may fall back down to the water system and soil, posing threat to humans once ingested. High exposure to perchlorates can significantly limit the human thyroid gland’s ability to take iodine from the bloodstream, resulting in hypothyridism or unusually low activity of the thyroid gland.  Perchlorate exposure is specifically harmful to fetuses.


Smoke.  The burnt charcoal and sulfur fuel of fireworks have particulate matter that can get lodged in human lungs, posing threats especially to those who have chemical sensitivities or asthma.

Barium.  Exposure to barium that exceeds EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) drinking standards may cause gastrointestinal problems and muscular weakness.

These are but few of the many detrimental effects of fireworks to humans, other animals, and the environment.

Does this mean, therefore, that we should altogether ban the use of fireworks?  That is such a difficult move to make at this point.  But, we can make a difference!

There are other fun ways by which we can still have spectacular activities on New Year’s Eve and other special events sans fireworks.  Here are some of the environmentally friendly alternatives:

  • Recycled confetti.  For sure, you have old colored magazines at home.  Instead of letting them gather up dust and consume space, cut its colored portions and give them to your kids to throw instead.
  • Paper horns.  Give your kids paper horns to blow and make noise with.
  • Musical instruments.  Playing your trumpets, saxophone, or other instruments to welcome the coming year is much more pleasing to the ears.
  • Organize a parade.  If you want to have loud crashes and bright colors, you may want to organize or participate in a parade in your community.
  • Coins, beans, pebbles.  Get crafty.  Put some coins, dried beans, or pebbles inside empty cans.  Seal them with plastic or paper and tape; and, shake them up!
  • Kitchen utensils.  In the Philippines, children revelers – especially in rural areas – have the ingenuity of clinking spoons and forks to make noise.


Paper horns

New Year’s resolution tips for a healthier environment

It’s almost 2013!

And we’re beginning to hear again the proverbial words, “New Year’s Resolutions”.  While many people seem to be passive about the idea, there are really those who are keen about making a list of New Year’s resolutions.

Whether you believe in making resolutions for the coming year or not, I am making this list of environmentally friendly new year’s resolutions, hoping that you, too, may include them in your own list, or adapt them to save more on hard-earned money, at the same time help save our environment.

Here goes my list:

bulbCut down on electricity bill.  We can simply do this by doing the following simple acts:

  • Turn off the lights when not in use or when leaving the room.
  • Unplug – not just switched off the power – of the television set when not in use.

Unplug mobile phone charger and other appliances when not in use.  These devices still eat up energy even if they are already turned off, but still plugged onto a socket or in sleep mode.  According to some studies, around ten percent of your monthly electricity bill is due to this phantom energy.

Save on water bill.  We will not lose anything if we

  • Use a glass when brushing our teeth, instead of running the water as we rinse
  • Cut shower time by one minute
  • Use low-flow aerator on our faucets

mobile charger

Walk or ride a bicycle.  There are times that the use of car is not necessary at all, especially on short distance trips and when you are not carrying heavy load.  Walking and biking are good forms of exercise, and fun, too.  As you walk or bike leisurely, you get to notice things in the neighborhood, which you may have failed to see when you were riding your car.   Remember, it’s still good to slow down and smell the roses.

bikingOpt for land trip over air travel.  If you are not in a hurry, why don’t you try traveling by land instead of going by air?  Traveling a distance of less than 400 miles by land is not that tedious to make.  You see, flying requires so much amount of energy and generates more emissions.  Besides, airfare costs so much more than land transport.

Tote an eco-bag around.  Let’s reduce the use of plastic bags by bringing an eco-bag each time we go for groceries.

Advocate organic food products.  These foods are free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), chemical additives, pesticides, herbicides, and other man-made ingredients, which are harmful to our health and detrimental to the land that grows them. They are also safer and more nutritious than the conventional ones that have been treated with pesticides, and non-organic fertilizers.


Is my list doable enough?  Let’s just give it a try.  We may not change the whole world with these simple acts, but at least we make a difference to improve life.

Are there other ways by which we can have a cleaner environment and healthier lifestyle?  You may add them here.

Lazi Convent: a national landmark on Siquijor Island

Siquijor Island may be a tiny place, but it is rich in natural wonders as well as in structures of historical and architectural value.  For one, it is home to the largest and oldest convent in Asia.

Lazi Convent
Lazi Convent

The Lazi Convent on the southern edge of Siquijor island is recognized as one of the historical landmarks of the Philippines due to its religious, historical, and architectural importance.  Constructed in 1887 under the supervision of a member of the Augustinian Recollect clergy, Fray Toribio Sanchez,  the convent was built using indigenous coral stones and local hardwood.  It was completed in 1891 and known as the largest in the Asian region and the oldest in the Philippines.

The convent is a very spacious two-storey building, measuring 42 meters by 38 meters in an L-shape form with its façade facing the San Isidro Labrador (or St. Isidore Labradore) Church in the east. The lower part of the convent is made of square-cut coral stone masonry, while its upper part is made of wood. Its steep hipped roof is made of corrugated galvanized iron on timber framework.

San Isidro Labrador Church
San Isidro Labrador Church

Across the convent is the Baroque-style San Isidro Labrador Church, which was constructed in 1857.  Its walls, approximately one meter thick, are reinforced with log posts that are embedded against it. The church’s pediments are made of wooden panels, while its façade is veneered with coral stone.  Its wooden floors are designed in herringbone pattern.

the church's wooden floor
Look at the church’s wooden floor

The San Isidro Church is known for its two pulpits, hand-sculpted images of the Station of the Cross, and the lofty and intricate ceiling vaults.

Here's a closer look at the pulpit
Here’s a closer look of the pulpit

Both the convent and the San Isidro Labrador Church are living evidence of Spanish settlement in the province.  It was by virtue of Presidential Decree No. 260 dated August 1, 1973 as amended by Presidential Decree No. 375 dated January 14, 1974 and No. 1505 dated June 11, 1978 that Lazi Convent and San Isidro Labrador Church were declared national landmarks by the National Historical Institute.

Lazi, formerly known as Tigbawan, is one of the six municipalities of the province of Siquijor with a population of more than 20,000. It is 30 minutes away from the provincial capital.

Once in Lazi, you may also want to have a side trip to Cambugahay Falls, two kilometers north from the convent and church.  It’s a multi-tiered falls of fresh warm waters coming from natural springs.

Cambugahay Falls
Cambugahay Falls

Aside from these sights in Lazi, you may also want to visit the island’s pristine white sand beaches, Mt. Bandilaan National Park, caves, and other natural wonders of Siquijor.

To go to Siquijor island itself, you may take a fast craft or boat from Dumaguete City, Cebu City, or Bohol.  Or, if you prefer a guided tour around the island, you may contact your favorite travel agent or visit the local office of the Department of Tourism.

Map of Siquijor Island

Map of Siquijor 

The Wave: reminiscing the Jurassic Age

The Wave

This multi-coloured sandstone rock formation is a popular attraction and hiking destination on the Colorado Plateau, near the Utah and Arizona (USA) border. Believed to be approximately 190 million years old, this natural wonder is truly a gift of God to us.

The Wave has survived millions of weather, may it forever be preserved for our future generations to enjoy!

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