Category Archives: environment

The disappearing tukos

endangered tuko

They maybe cousins with chameleon lizards, but these tukos are not becoming invisible.  They are  fastly disappearing!

When I was a kid, my yaya used to tell me an urban legend about Philippine Geckos aka Tuko: once they fall on your skin, they will never leave it until an Aeta blows a certain smoke to repel them away. Maybe this folk story has reached millions of Filipinos that households have viewed them  as  scary pests that makes an annoying sound at night.

In the recent television news, a man was arrested for trading tuko to Malaysia. The lizard  is priced at P200 to 300 apiece, but in other areas it can cost P15,000 per kilo.  A bigger tuko with at least 3” head size is being bought at a whopping P40,000 apiece. Some buy it to add in their reptile collection.  Foreigners buy it to have a natural insecticide.  While the worst ones use an over-rated reason: it’s an aphrodisiac!  Seriously, folks, I don’t understand the hunt for stronger libidos – why eat these strange creatures when you can get the same effect with a bunch of  roses and a box of chocolates?

These lizards play an important role in the eco-system: they feed on cockroaches and mosquitoes – they are natural dengue fighters.

In our home, I used to hear a tuko  at night.  Lately, though, I noticed that our evenings have  fallen silent. The common household lizard has now become an endangered specie.  If  you  hear one in your home, you are one of the lucky few.  Having a tuko in your house  is now  a rare asset.


Stop hunger: Plant

photo by

Every time I pass by Old Balara, Quezon City, I couldn’t help but smile every time I see the island between the roads in lush greens.  I have noticed since June, squatters in the area have planted small vegetable gardens.

Old Balara island turns into patches of veggie gardens

Old Balara is  where  the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewarage System (MWSS)  is located. It’s also a short-cut road to Commonwealth.

The reason why I write this is because according to SWS survey, there are 4 million Filipinos experiencing hunger right now.  If this country were Africa, I would say that it’s a difficult scenario.  However, we are blessed with tropical climate, and fertile land.

Because of budget constraints, poor households have converted the  islands in Old Balara into small vegetable gardens.  These are simple ways for the poor to have a sustainable life in the city.

There’s also a new way of planting that doesn’t actually need land – they call it vertical gardens.  It’s a big rave in Europe right now because they grow vegetables in buildings.

vertical garden by Patrick Blanc

When I used to work for the Israeli Embassy, I had a very good conversation with the Agriculture Attache.  He told me that “Agriculture can help your country alleviate itself from poverty.  You have very fertile land, and yet you don’t use that opportunity.  You would rather import rice in other countries. But if you concentrate in developing your agriculture, imagine the money you could save.”

It’s true.  Filipinos, however, like to complain and blame.  This time, people should really follow the Old Balara vegetable road island- I really think it’s  an ingenious idea.

Fresh, tasty… and a shark!

located at SM hypermart, Tiendesitas

We went to SM Hypermart yesterday to accompany my husband in renewing his driver’s license.  My son and I  decided to go to the food court to buy a smoothie..  And of course, when we saw this place selling live fish, we immediately went there for my son’s amusement.

Taste Fresh is like a sosyal dampa.  They sell fresh fish and crustaceans, and they can cook it for you as well.



As my son’s eyes widen with amazement, I  raise  my eyebrows out of disgust.  I wonder: Can you eat a stone fish? This is highly poisonous!  In Japan, a person has to sign a waiver if they want to eat a blowfish in a restaurant.

Clams...and a stone fish

Then in a corner, a nurse shark!

Nurse shark

I feel sorry for the  sleeping nurse shark. As a scuba diver, I know that these creatures can grow as big as 14 feet. They are nocturnal creatures that hunt fish,  mollusks, stingrays for food only at night. They have a certain eco-system under the sea.

These non-aggressive creatures [swims away from humans] are hunted for their liver oil which is good for fuel, and their tough skin for leather.

4:40 ratio. According to Time magazine, an estimated 40 million sharks are killed yearly for fins or other purposes, while shark attacks on humans are reported at a maximum of four a year.

In this “sosyal dampa,” they sell it as food! The shop’s employee told me that a person bought a shark in the past to put in his aquarium – which i am definite the creature would outgrow, unless it contains at least 500 gallons of water or his aquarium is as huge as a swimming pool.

Although they are not YET endangered, reports the Florida Museum, its abundance in the littoral waters of Florida has decreased in the past decades. That’s in the US, what more in our country where illegal fishing is rampant!

People’s taste in food have become more exotic: the more bizarre, or rare the ingredient, the better. Nurse sharks may  not YET be part of the endangered species, but  does that give you the ethical license to cook and eat  it?

Man’s greediness is really disgusting!