Monday, June 20, 2016

Aloe Vera, a Wonder Plant in Your Garden

Originally from Africa, Aloe Vera is a succulent cactus like plant that is now cultivated in many regions of the world. It has lance like leaves with spiny margins. Inside the leaf is a jelly like substance or gel that is 99% water with the remaining 1% substance containing minerals, vitamins, amino acids and enzymes. In the skin is yellowish color latex which has also some healing properties. Usually, Aloe Vera is grown as a decorative plant or as herbal medicine. It is commercially grown as food additives or as ingredients in cosmetics products such as shaving cream, shampoos, soaps and tissues because of its soothing, emollient and moisturizing properties.     

As topical herbal medicine, the plant is used as a relief or cure especially of skin disorders such as dandruff, acne, warts, wrinkles, gum disease, genital herpes and even psoriasis. It is also administered to reverse sign of aging skin, to brighten skin and to enhance hair growth. The gel substance is harmful to bacteria, virus, and fungi, and promotes cell growth and regeneration.

The juice of an Aloe Vera leaf can be taken orally by way of adding it as ingredients of foods such as yogurts, beverages and some desserts to boost the immune system, to control blood sugar level and to improve blood circulation. At certain doses, when ingested, Aloe Vera can cause abdominal cramp and diarrhea which in turn decreases the body’s ability to absorb prescribed drugs.                                                                                                                                                                     A person should however consult his doctor should he use the plant or part of it as a medicine. A doctor’s advice on health care should prevail over what one has researched from the internet or heard through word of mouth. Side effects of taking conventional medications as well as herbal remedies and how long they should be administered should be taken into consideration if a person is to deal with a health issue. And the right person to give him the best information or recommendation is his doctor.

A single leaf of Aloe Vera that is applied topically can be used for as long as three days if it is placed in a refrigerator. The leaf contains gel that has lots of liquid so that a cut small piece of it can be rubbed to many areas of an affected skin.  

Extracts of Aloe Vera are being sold commercially online. But the best way to get Aloe Vera gel is to grow the plant in your own garden. Aloe Vera can be grown without much care and attention because it is resistant to pests and insects. It can be propagated by separating its offsets by cutting them off with a knife. It is better to grow the new plants on the ground than in the pots because pots restrict their ability to reproduce or develop bigger leaves.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Rizal Shrine in Dapitan City

A piece of Philippine History is kept in Barangay Talisay, Dapitan City where Dr. Jose Rizal, the national hero, before his execution, spent the last remaining years of his life from  July 17, 1892 to July 31, 1896 as an exile.  He was accused of fomenting a revolution during the twilight years of the Spanish colonial regime. A person’s visit to the shrine is like taking a journey back in time to that historic era. It also gives him a glimpse on how Rizal and the people around him lived their life in a remote, far flung rural town in the Philippines at that time.                                                                                                                                                  
Winning a lottery shortly after his arrival in Dapitan, Rizal purchased 16 hectares of land. Out of his 4,000 pesos winnings he built sheltering structures, developed a farm, put up a school for boys, and practiced medicine and even treated poor local patients for free. In 1897 after Rizal was executed his properties were confiscated by the Spanish authorities as an indemnity to the state and transferred their custody to Don Cosme Borromeo. The site was converted into a local park in 1913. After the Philippine independence from the United States, the government expanded the area to 439 hectares with a buffer zone of 15 hectares. The land covering the Rizal Shrine is a government protected area.   
The shrine is located along a bay

Rizal Shrine occupies a terrain with hills and high grounds along a bay. Near the gate or park’s entrance is the almost operational museum. When fully completed, it will house memorabilia such as Rizal’s clothing, books and other personal belongings that will be available for view to the public.  In the park are paved walkways and lampposts and trees, some of them especially those in the hilly grounds are said to be more than a century old.  Near the shore is a large rock which is called “Mi Retiro Rock”. It is also called “Lover’s Rock”. It is there that Rizal wrote some of his works such as “Mi Retiro” and “Himno Talisay”. The rock was also a place where Rizal and Josephine Bracken, his lover, often spent time together relishing their loving moments and enjoying the breath of fresh air from the sea and watching the beautiful sunset in the bay.

The museum

the "Lover's Rock"

A view of the bay from the rock
A replica of the house of Rizal is faithfully reconstructed right on its original site on a foot of a hill. It is made of the same indigenous materials such as bamboo, cogon grass, rattan and hardwoods on which the original house was built of. It has pyramid-shaped thatched roofing of cogon grass. The walls are made of bamboo and the floorings are of woods. Timbers as pillars and wooden posts beneath the floor support the weight of the house.  The house has verandas on each three sides. The one facing the front also serves as the dining place where a dining table and chairs are set. The house can be accessed on either of the two short stairs that lead to a veranda. Inside the house are the living room and the only bed room. A covered bridge-like structure connects a veranda to the comfort room. Aside from Rizal, the house also accommodated Doña Josefa, Rizal’s mother, his sisters, some of his relatives and Josephine Bracken when they came to visit Rizal in Dapitan.

The comfort room

Inside the house is furniture of Spanish colonial era design which is made of indigenous hardwoods. In the living room are chairs and a center table. The seat of the chairs and the top of the table are made of woven rattan that is attached to the wooden frames. There are two chests in the sides of the wall. Outside the only room is an empty book shelf, a wooden wall mounted hooks, a work table and chair and a set of two chairs with a small round table.

In the bedroom is a double sized four poster bed with mattress and white curtains around it. By the bed is a chest and a chair in the corner of the room. There is a cabinet with a mirror on one of its doors and a dresser with a small mirror on top. A chair with a raised seat pairs the dresser.

The cottage for the kitchen is outside the house. There is a stove and the kitchen utensils composed of pots and pans that are made of clay. A pipe of bamboo is reached to the sink.

Aside from the casa residencia, or the residential house, faithful replicas of the original structures which Rizal built are also reconstructed. There is the casitas de salud, a pair of two huts, one for male and the other for female that served as a dormitory for out of town patients. There is the casa redonda or round house. This cottage on stilt is not round but rather octagonal in shape.  It was there that Rizal conducted an eye surgery on George Taufer, the adoptive father of Josephine Bracken and on Doña Josefa, his mother. There is the Casa cuadrada or square house which was built as a workshop and secondary dormitory for Rizal’s students. And there is the chicken coop or hen house which perched on a slope near Rizal’s house.

Casitas de Salud
Casa Redonda

Casa Cuadrada
Chicken house