Monday, September 15, 2014

Another molave

 I potted this molave (vitex cofassus) about two years ago. It's time to "operate" on it.

Checking the root growth.

Reduction area identified.



Sunday, September 14, 2014

Molave reduction

 A molave (vutex pavlifora) tree planted in a pot.  I have had this for two years. 

I decided to reduce it now.

It is big leafed vitex but with the reduction it will adapt and produce small leaves (I hope).

I exposed the roots. It looks like a giraffe...

Saturday, September 06, 2014

School Repair

Grade six is housed in the Rodriguez Building which was commissioned in January 1969. The building is 45 years old. 

I'm not an engineer but judging from the size of the concrete columns and the  concrete beams, the structure  was made to last except for the floor trusses and slats which was made of wood.

The wood trusses and slats were heavily infested and consumed by termites that the tremor created by a pupil jumping in the room at end of the building could be felt in the room at the other end of the building.

We were informed that there will repairs (maybe retrofitting) of the building. Most of the teachers would like to see the old building demolished and a new building erected in its place but since the school has no available space, I think the demolition will not happen in the near future. I just can't see where the contractor will put the debris and the construction materials aside from the disruptions it will cause to the whole school.

I am glad that the old building will be rehabilitated but I just have one question: Why are they doing this today in the middle of the school year when classes are in full blast and the work will cause disruptions? I mean, we have two months of summer vacation. 

I'm not complaining just asking. 

Anyway, I'm just a classroom teacher.

Mulawin Materials

I don't know which is the mulawin aso from the mulawin surot.

Friday, September 05, 2014


A potted balete from cuttings.  It has grown wild and too big for me.

 I decided to cut it into two.
 I was checking where to split it.
 Because it has been growing in a large pot, it developed radial roots.
 These are the two materials I got out of the tree. Planted in my crude trainer pots. Aside from the trunk, I also planted the top part for future use.

Sunday Hunting

 One of the things I enjoy is bathing in the rain. I was not ready for it last Sunday. I got off the jeepney when it poured and i did not even try to take cover..  

These are bignay pugo stumps (Antidesma bugnius). Bignay is a fruit bearing tree native to the Philippines and is a popular material for bonsai enthusiasts. 

It is also known as bugnay in Ilocos and isip-isip in Pampanga. It is a robust, easy to grow tree.  It's fruits are used in making wine.

I don't know how this material will turn out or if they will even live. I potted it useing my homemade concrete trainer pots.
This will be a fun journey.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Bonsai Branch Guide

Taken from cutebonsai

Some guidelines on which branch to remove or to keep.

1. Branches (called "yagome") growing from the bottom of the tree.(Yagome is just a sprout first but when it becomes a branch (yagoeda), it takes all the nutrition and can kill the other new growing branches on the tree.)

2. Branches (called "kan-nuki eda" or "boat") growing at the same height on the both sides of the tree and one of them should be removed

3. Branches crossing the trunk.

4. Branches growing close to each other and are short, of the same length and in the same direction. (ruins the space that makes good bonsai visual form.)

5. Branches (called "dou-nuki eda") growing from the middle of the trunk. It blocks good growth condition.

6. Branches (called "tachi eda") growing straight up.

7. Branches (called "sagari eda") growing straight down.

8. Branches (called "gyaku eda") growing in the opposite way of the branch they are growing from.

9. Branches (called "kuruma eda") growing from the same spot in many different directions.

10. Branches (called "kousa eda") crossing other branches.

11. Branches (called "Tochoshi") growing much longer than other branches. (however, this branch is sometimes used to adjust the growth of other branches and/or growth of the trunk for the purpose of making the trunk and other branches thicker or to slow down their growth.)

12. (Not pictured) Branches pointing at the viewer from the front side of the bonsai. (this is because pointing at someone is considered to be rude in Japan. No exception even for bonsai I guess)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

My pupils' top excuses for being absent in their classes

Checking the class attendance is a daily routine that can make or unmake my day. I and most basic education teacher, I guess, take class attendance seriously because it is in the grade school where the study habit of a student is established which is just as important as the academic learning they gain in school. Another obvious reason is that pupils do badly in examinations if they are often absent.

Sometimes we even have to call up their parents for a conference about their children's school attendance; we try to make sure that parents know that their children are not in schools because there are time when parents are not aware that their children are not attending school anymore. 

Its sad when pupils drop out of classes because of absenteeism.

Anyway, here are my pupils' top ten excuses for being absent in their classes :  

10. A neighbor told me that classes are suspended

There was a slight drizzle the morning before but after a few minutes the sun shone brightly. After a few minutes of settling down, I checked the attendance and one pupil was absent. 

The day after, I asked her thy she wasn't at school yesterday, and she replied, "my neighbor told me that classes were suspended, sir."

Me: "Who is your neighbor?"  

Pupil: "Sir, it's Iking?" 

Me: "Who is Iking?! Is he the principal? Is he the Mayor? Is he the President? Who is he that you believed him! Who is he" I told him showing a little bit of grit.

Class:  "Sir, Iking is a grade two pupil! Hahahahahaha" they all laughed.

Me: "You believed a grade two pupil!?"

Pupil: "Children don't lie!"

This happened more than once.

9. My clothes are still wet

Me: "You can come to school wearing any clothes as long as you are not naked!" I shouted.

Pupil: "Sir, we have no roof! The typhoon damaged our house."

"Okay" How can I argue with that.

8. My mother is sick

Me: "Are you a doctor? Will your mother feel better if you're not in school!"

Pupil: "Sir, I take care of my four siblings."

Me: "Whatever!"

7. My brother/sister is sick

Me: "You're running out of excuses!"

6. A relative died

Me:"Who died?"

Pupil:"My mother's cousin."

Me: 'Did your dead uncle rose from the dead when you skipped school?"

Pupil:"No sir"

Me: "Would you like to follow your dead uncle?"

Pupil: "No sir"

Me: "Don't skip school!"

5. Traffic

Me: "Where do you live? In Tanay, Makati, Cubao?

Pupil: "Sir, down there a few turns from the school."

4. I had a fever

Me: "Where's the doctor's certificate?"

Pupil: "Sir, we don't go to doctors; we go to the hilots."

Me; "Where's the hilot and the albularyo's certificate?"

Pupil "Hmmmmm...."

Me: "Sitdown!"

3. I woke up late

Me: "Grrrrrrrr"

2. I had an LBM

Me: "Did you bring me a sample....? Okay, wheres the certificate?"

1. We have no money

Then the drama begins...

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

How to start a bonsai hobby

Some of the materials for sale in a
bonsai shop in Diliman Quezon City.
Like most hobbies, bonsai will cost money. The cost will depend on the material and the price of the material will depend on the species, size, trunk, branches and other artistic qualities. 

Materials like the Bantigue, which is found on beaches and islands, is expensive and so are other rare indigenous trees and imported materials. Definitely not for beginners.

The ones I buy are the smaller ones
beside the larger bonsais.
But  local and popular species like balete, bignay, kamuning bilog and haba, mulawin etc. are affordable and if you live in rural areas, they could be collected from mountains for free, but be informed that collecting trees in the wild is regulated by the DENR. I read that because of extensive bonsai hunting, Bantigue and other local indigenous trees are now threatened. In Japan, the practice of yamadori (bonsai hunting) almost wiped out their wild junipers and has since replenished them in the wild.  

Another thing to consider is the size of bonsai you want to keep. I live in a crowded place where I have to pass through narrow eskenitas to get to our house definitely large bonsai is not suitable in this situation. 

Many of their materials are rock grown
 and rock clasping.
So, my materials are small, easy to transport, move around, change places, and maintain. I can lift the pot on the working table without any trouble unlike large bonsai that requires two to three persons to move making it difficult to maintain.

Indoor or outdoor? Mine are all outdoors. Select species suitable for your purpose. Ficuses are suitable indoor bonsai.

Where do I get the materials? If you're like me who do not have the time and the opportunity to hunt in the wild, you can get affordable materials at UP Diliman near the Science Complex. This is where I shop for materials, relatively near where I live. 

Do not buy materials from ordinary gardens shops because they (well, most of them) think that they are selling bonsai when in fact what they are selling are materials. Once I saw a small kalyos material on display in garden shops at Taytay Market, I asked how much it costs, without blinking an eye, the shop owner told me, "Five thousand pesos." I was shocked. I told her that the kalyos is a material and not yet a bonsai, it will still take years before it become one. She was oblivious insisting that it was a bonsai by pointing at the aluminum wires wrapped around a lanky branch--might as as well wrap an aluminum wire around a tomato tree's branch and call it a bonsai.

                                                             How about tools and implements?

These are my "surgical" instruments:
1. Hacksaw blade for reducing trunks and
    cutting large branches
2. Ordinary scissors
3. Itak for cultivating
4. Aluminum wires from junkshops/
     or from meralco linemen
5. Insect spray for aphids and other bugs.
6. Malathion.
7. Sand.
8. Hammer for carving rocks etc.
8. Clipper

How much do these cost?

Clipper= 100 Pesos
Scissors=50 Pesos
Aluminum Wires=250-300 a kilo
Spray=50 Pesos
Hacksaw blade 24 tpi=30 Pesos
Malathion 50=Pesos
Hammer=standard household tool. 
Every house has one.
Fertilizer=Urea, 20 pesos a month

How about pots?

Another article. I'm still learning about it.
How much does it cost?

Most of the materials I buy cost from three to five hundred pesos each, depends on how I haggle with the shop owner. I buy small materials which is six inches to a foot high. Same price as any ordinary garden plants or orchids or roses (not the mini roses).

As for the price of the larger material, they could go from a couple of thousand pesos to twenty thousand up depending on the species and other "artistic" quality of the material. 

I started my hobby with a five hundred pesos.

Of course just as important is education. Engaging in the hobby requires a lot of things to consider like training, defoliating, trimming, repotting, fertilizing, soil mixture, amount of sunlight etc

But don't be bothered by these stuffs most local trees will survive and thrive planted in ordinary soil, in direct sunlight while they are in training. Just don't forget to water the trees and fertilize them, remember they are in pots and have no access to nutrients and water or moisture from the ground. 

All information about these topics are readily available on the internet through local bonsai forums and bonsai blogs. No need to cram, believe me you have all the time in the world to learn about these things. Research.

And the most important requirement: Patience!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Holiday! Study on fusion (not nuclear fusion!)

Early morning coffee and doing the plants, a very calming and, may I say, a very spiritual activity that is much better than all that religious stuffs.

I read some interaction from a forum by bonsai hobbyist on the net and there are a lot of discussions about technical stuffs which was really helpful, but there's one advice, which was given by the more mature member of the group that stood out: patience. If you do not have patience, then bonsai is not for you for  you may end up killing a lot of trees.

And basically, this is what bonsai is all about. Achieving perfection (or beauty) is in controlling the wild nature, guiding the growth and most of all it is about waiting, patiently waiting. 

The complex
trunk of a wild banyan.
I don't know if this is true, but most bonsai artist and enthusiast are senior citizens and many of them live to very old age. There are those who claim that this is because of the calming effect of the art/hobby. I don't know about that but there's truth in the serenity the activity provides.

Of course, I didn't engage in this hobby because I want to live to a very old age. Hell, we die when we die there's nothing we can do about it. I do this for the same reason everybody else has: to engage in creative/productive activity that will disengage the mind from the daily doldrums of toiling, pressure from work and home, and the daily struggle of fighting off thoughts about the absurdity of religions, etc.

This is my favorite material to work on. The Ficus Microcarpa or the Chinese "Tigerbark" Banyan. One of our retired teachers was a bonsai enthusiasts and he gave me some cuttings to start on, aside from teaching me some stuffs about bonsai-ing

This variety of ficus is the perfect material (i.e. for me):
  • Tolerates reduction, defoliation, cutting etc. very well.
  • The tiger bark simulates age.
  • Very flexible and easy to train.
  • Grows a lot of aerial roots. One trick to encourage the growth of aerial roots is to place it in a damp or humid place. The water in the air will stimulate the growth of aerial roots.
I fused them on the upper part and left
lower part loose.
The lower part that I did not
 fuse. The loose saplings
will develop into a complex
This material is a study in fusion. 
I have grown a lot of microcarpas from cuttings. It would take a very long time for each individual cuttings to grow so to create a bonsai out of these little cuttings, I fused them. The process is simple: bundle all the saplings and then wrap them together with a plastic straw and then wait for about a year for fusion to happen. But remember this, the more saplings you fuse the greater the number of them dying in the process. 

Checking the branches. In this project, I
am aiming ofr the banyan style.
The focus is on the trunk and roots.

Whenever I trim my materials, I
collect the cuttings and plant
them. They grow fast if planted in
loamy soil and placed in a damp 


Instead of cutting or wiring the
 branches, I decided to
plant them. This is to achieve the
complex trunk I planned
for this material.

I was thinking about waiting. I think most people have lost the art waiting,. It seems that waiting is now a waste of time. I mean, everything now has their "instant" counter part. But "instant" stuffs lose something: their uniqueness. Whether it be in food products, clothing, drinks, etc. Anyway...

I am lowering the trunk. I have
no fancy tools like clips, braces etc.
So, I'm doing it the way  the monks
used to do it, by using sticks and

I re-wrapped the trunk with plastic straw for further fusing and also this will promote the tapering by choking the wrapped trunk thereby returning the growth  or energy back to the lower trunk.

Again, my goal for this tree. That is, if I live to see it. Hararharahar...