Archive for the ‘Indonesia’ Category

New frogfish species found in Indonesia

March 1, 2009

A newly discovered odd frogfish called “psychedelica” which according to a University of Washington biology professor is a member of the antennariid genus, Histiophryne is discovered in Indoensia.

The fish looks odd. Its pectoral fins on the underside appear like legs and its skin is covered by coral-like dendritic stripes which probably serve as a disguise in its biodiverse tropical habitat.

The colorful inhabitant of shallow waters is said to bounce like a rubber ball. It has a gelatinous fist-sized body covered with thick folds of skin that protect it from sharp-edged corals. It also has a flat face with eyes directed forward, like humans, and a huge, yawning mouth.—- Yahoo.News/ AP (02/28/09, McDowell, J)

Encountered in Ambon Island in Eastern Indonesia by scuba divers, the mustard-colored fish with cerulean blue eyes was reported by Ted Pietsch, in a paper which appeared in a recent publication of Copeia, the journal of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists. A genetic study recognized this fish to be a new species. (Photo Credit: AP/ seaphotos.com/ David Hall)

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With 17, 000 islands, Indonesia shares maritime woes with the Philippines

January 13, 2009

The stormy weather sucked in the Indonesian ferry Tertai Prima and disappeared in the sea on Sunday, January 11, 2009. Two days after the 700-ton (635-metric ton) inter-island vessel which plied the route in a country with 17,000 islands sank, an undetermined number travelers, part of at least 250 passengers and 17 crew onboard, had been missing and accounted for.

“The Teratai Prima, which radioed that it was in trouble just before dawn Sunday, capsized about 30 miles (50 kilometers) off the coast of western Sulawesi. It was headed for Samarinda on the Indonesian side of Borneo.”—AP (01/12/09, Ahmad, Y)

There are reports many are still alive waiting for a rescue. Horrid tales of those who survived spoke of children and elderly drowning in the fierce waters brought by cyclone Charlotte. Thirty four (34) were so far rescued and 40 escaped. Of the dead, the Indonesian government promised $2,400 each, a measly sum for each life lost that could have been more valuable and productive. In December 2006, similar sinking occurred in Java-Borneo area killing nearly 2/3 of the 600 passengers.
This story is shared in more grim terms by us Filipinos who live with 7,000 islands.

It brings recall of the woeful maritime tragedies that occur in our waters with frequency and lethality greater than in Indonesia. Most of these sea accidents in both countries are blamed on inclement weather, poor supervision and negligence of maritime and government officials, overloading, equipment failure, human error among others. We call on our respective government authorities to do something more than the status quo to prevent the next boat sinking waiting at the bend. We could just look back at some of our blogs below that stress this point. (Credits: Mauritius100’s; Lorca56)

RELATED BLOGS: “23 drown in another ferry boat mishap” Posted by mesiamd at 12/15/2008; “May barko na naman na lumubog!” Posted by mesiamd at 11/26/2008; “RP’s maritime disaster Ferry boat sinks in Masbate killing 40″ Posted by mesiamd at 11/04/2008; “Princess of the stars: a harvest of blame and shame” Posted by mesiamd at 11/08/2008; “A Sorry Maritime Safety Record Indeed In The Philippines” Posted by myty555 at 11/09/2008 =0=

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Pygmy tarsier of Indonesia rediscovered after 85 years & a five-petalled mountain flower in Mindanao, Philippines named

November 23, 2008

The Indonesian Pygmy Tarsier (Tarsius pumila)


This week, Indonesia’s pygmy tarsier (Tarsius pumilus), the close cousin of the Philippine tarsier (Tarsius syrichta,) is reported to be thriving in the tropical forest of the island of Sulawesi. Said to be extinct since 85 years ago, the small primate which looks like a monkey approximates the size of a mouse, weighing about 2 ounces and measuring 4 inches.

The nocturnal tailed animal which lives on trees mainly thrives on insects but also eats small crustaceans, lizards, and other tiny animals. Covered by thick brown-gray fur reminiscent of the “gremlins,” it has a characteristic big pair of eyes, proptosed like oversized shiny buttons.

A group of scientists headed by Texas A & M University Sharon Gursky-Doyen have been following up the pygmy tarsiers until they captured three which were fitted with radio collars for more studies.

Coincident to the rediscovery of the pygmy tarsier is the identification of a new plant species which grows in Cagayan, Philippines. Named after Leonard Co, a botanist of the Conservation International, Rafflesia leonardi is unique for its 5-petalled parasitic blooms with no leaves, stems, and roots.

Rafflesia leonardi

Found in the rainforest of Kidapawan, Mindanao, 300 to 700 meters above sea level in the environs of Mount Apo, the rare flower fully blooms in about 10 months and wilts in 7 days. The new species which was identified last May 2008 is the 4th Rafflesia discovered in Luzon and the 8th in the country.

Two things come to mind. First is the growing need for nature conservation in the face of the dangers of extinction of both fauna and flora. Second, human interference (i.e. loss of habitat, predation, pollution etc.) in the lives of these plants and animals may have both beneficial and deleterious consequences which may affect species survival. (Photo Credits: YahooNews/SharonGurskyDoyen; YahooNewsPhilippines; Mediatejack) =0=

The Philippine Tarsier (Tarsius syrichta)

Outside the Philippines, a number of relatives of the Philippine tarsier can be found, among them the Bornean tarsier (Tarsius bancanus) of Borneo and Sumatra, the spectral tarsier (Tarsius spectrum), the lesser spectral tarsier or pygmy tarsier (Tarsius pumilus), and Dian’s tarsier (Tarsius dianae) of Sulawesi, Indonesia. The pygmy tarsier, by the way, is considerably smaller than the Philippine tarsier, while the pygmy mouse lemur, found only in Madagascar, is now being recognized as the smallest primate in the world.

The tarsier was first introduced to Western biologists through the description given to J. Petiver by the missionary J.G. Camel of an animal said to have come from the Philippines (Hill, 1955). Petiver published Camel’s description in 1705 and named the animal Cercopithecus luzonis minimus which was the basis for Linnaeus’ (1758) Simia syrichta and eventually Tarsius syrichta. Among the locals, the tarsier is known as “mamag”, “mago”, “magau”, “maomag”, “malmag” and “magatilok-iok”.” Source: Bohol.com/Philippine Tarsier Foundation.

RELATED BLOGS: “Palawan wildlife faces near extinction” Posted by mesiamd at 9/14/2008; “Despite conservation effort, 1/3 of world’s coral reefs face danger of extinction” Posted by mesiamd at 10/23/2008

Ships hijacked by pirates, an earthquake in Indonesia and the decline of RP peso

November 18, 2008

7

Is the total number of ships hijacked by Somali pirates on since November 5, 2008 in the Aden Gulf. The latest hijacked ships are operated by the Islamic Republic of Iran and that of Saudi Arabia, a super oil tanker carrying $100 million worth of crude oil. In the past ransoms were paid to recover the ships, but nations are finding ways to foil piracy in the busiest sea lane of the world.

P49.96

At the close of business trading on November 18, 2008, the peso-dollar exchange has floundered close to P50/per dollar. The slide of the peso value is expected to continue as local and foreign effects of recession take its full effect.

7.5

Recorded in the Richter’s scale is strength of the quake that hit Indonesian island Sulawesi on November 17, 2008 which reportedly killed at least 6 persons, toppling houses and injuring scores of people. A tsunami warning from US officials in the area was raised within 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) from the quake’s origin, but was later lifted.

$1.2 billion

Bangko Sentral of the Philippines (BSP,) discloses this amount of deficit in the balance of payments (BOP) mainly attributed to capital flight, weak exports, and payment of maturing obligations. BOP is the record of the country’s transactions with the rest of the world and its deficit in October 2008 reduces this year’s surplus in a 10 month period to $345 million, down from $7.87 billion registered year-on-year.

77

Is the reported number of people who contracted typhoid fever in Quezon. Caused by Salmonella typhosa, the diarrheal disease with systemic manifestations is linked with contaminated water supply. The Department of Health (DOH,) advises boiling of water and frequent hand-washing to counter the spread of the disease. In a separate outbreak, 2 persons died of another diarrheal illness in Misamis Oriental. Reported on 11/18/08, about 1,000 people have sought treatment in the hospital for complaints which are suspicious of cholera. (Photo Credit: by Moody_fingers) =0=

Despite conservation effort, 1/3 of world’s coral reefs face danger of extinction

October 22, 2008

Palawan’s Tubbataha National Marine Park is designated by the United Nations Educational and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as one of the World’s Heritage sites. It is being considered among the planet’s 7 new natural wonders. World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) vice chair Lory Yap (Philippines) said the fish biomass in the reef practically doubled from 2004-2005 through regulated tourism and wildlife management.

Yet, in a separate report, 45 poachers were recently nabbed by marine park rangers in the area. The poachers attempted to bribe their way to gather an endangered sea-shell called samung (Tochus noliticus.) used to make commercial buttons and jewelry, sought for by traders in Cebu.

Conservation proponents continue to face an uphill battle against people who disregard efforts to protect and save the environment. More than 200 samung collectors this year have been apprehended in Tubbataha Reef in violation of an international agreement which penalizes violators to up to 12 to 20 years in prison.

In spite of such effort, about a third of the world’s coral reefs still face extinction because of climate change, sedimentation, and human intrusion. The ominous environmental changes and build up of pollution have hampered the reefs to rebuild, preventing fish and other marine life to thrive. Philstar (10/22/08, Ercheminada, P)

According to WWF spokesman, Gregg Yan, a kilometer square of undamaged coral reef can produce as much as 30 tons of seafood yearly for the sustenance of the people, but it depends on how much the reef is preseved and kept healthy.

Meeting in Manila, government officials and wildlife experts from countries like the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Timor Leste, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands seek ways to save the world’s richest marine region which encompasses parts of Sulu-Sulawesi, South China Sea, and the Pacific Ocean. Obviously, in terms of wildlife conservation, a lot has still to be done. (Photo Credits: melhins; courtneyplatt; mikebond) =0=

UPDATE: 10/24/08: The US government pledged a total of $39.45 million to save the world’s greatest coral reef (Coral Triangle) which borders six countries, including the Philippines. This was announced by US Ambassador Kristie Kenney putting the total pledges to $450 million from collective contributions from the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, US Agency for International Development and the Australian Agency for International Development. =0=

Amidst complacency and denial, terror persists, USA & the world still on the edge

September 10, 2008

Two days before the 7th year after 911, a bipartisan report suggests that the United States is still dangerously at risk of being attacked by weapons of mass destruction (WMB’s.) Democrats critical of Pres. George W. Bush are quick to highlight the dangers. And they don’t leave the psyche of Americans traumatized by the randomness of the attack.

The report and supporting studies describe the failure of international cooperation to prevent terrorists from obtaining weapons of mass destruction, which they call a major problem. Many countries continue to ignore a United Nations mandate to prevent the spread of weapons; the ability of many countries to monitor potential bioterrorism is “essentially nonexistent,” and dangerous chemical weapons stockpiles remain in some countries, including Russia and Libya, the report said.” AP (09/09/08, BlackledgeB; SullivanE.)

In spite of moves to make the homeland secure, the nature of terrorism makes it hard to wipe out the threats. This worry is part of the legacy of 911 when the rules of engagement of war have been defined by a small group of extremists who are bent to make America and the rest of the civilized world accede to Al Qaeda’s and other Islamic toxic ideology of hate.

Bringing America down has serious implications in emerging and poor countries like the Philippines whose economies will further suffer in the midst of a threat of war, worldwide recession, dwindling resources, and exploding population. Though Pres. Bush must be credited for foiling a number of plots and in improving security during his administration, many don’t look at it this way. It is hard to see success in prevention that has an astronomical price tag.

The cost of underwriting a protective shield for Americans and the world is causing a toll on the US economy. Only when another attack as spectacular and hideous as 911 will Americans, (especially the cynical and complacent) will realize that the world they know has been turned upside down by a few rogues who wait for the singular chance to do harm and damage. Terror resonates in 911 and the attacks in Madrid, London, Jerusalem, Riyadh, Nairobi, Bali, Manila and other cities worldwide. As security experts experts have said, it’s not a question of if that another attack will be waged, but when. (Photo Credits: AP/TayloC;bp.blogspot)=0=

RP’s 40% drop in med school enrollment & the foreign doctors

August 27, 2008

It seems a good thing that doctors from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN,) a group of sovereign states in partnership with the Philippines, are coming to the country for study. This development is timely when at least 5,000 doctors have left the country since 2004 and about 6,000 have shifted to study nursing for jobs abroad. In the last three years, a staggering 40% drop in medical enrollment is noted. Asian Journal Online (08/26/08)

An uncertain number of foreign doctors who come from Iran, India, Malaysia and Indonesia and other neighboring countries have sought training in Philippine hospitals, many in the provinces, even if no Department of Health (DOH) guidelines are existent to regulate them.

According to Philippine Medical Association (PMA) president Reynaldo Santos, M.D., the arrival of these foreign medical trainees attests to the high quality of education in the country. But this is doubted in the wake of a sharp decline of the number of hospitals, a marked rise in patient load for doctors and nurses, a low passing rate of Filipinos in the United States Medical Licensure Examination (USMLE,) an over-crowding of patients and trainees, lack of budget, equipment upgrade, and medical facilities in many hospitals. See related article on medical diploma mills below.

If the Department of Health (DOH) and the Education Department (CHED) don’t act fast, it will not be long before foreigners will be able to judge for themselves the quality of education and healthcare in the Philippines compared to that of their countries of origin. It is deleterious for the country to rely on foreigners to solve the shortage of physicians or seek them to shore up dwindling medical enrollment. Without infringing on the physicians’ rights, measures to reverse the brain-drain of local doctors must be high in the priority. (Photo Credit: Doctian) =0=

MEDICAL SCHOOL DIPLOMA MILLS

A disturbing article entitled Medical School for Sale? was written by Emil Jurado of Manila Standard on July 26, 2007. It’s unclear whether the Department of Health (DOH) and school authorities (CHED) took satisfactory remedial action to prevent further erosion of credibility with the alleged proliferation of diploma mills in the country.

In concordance with the requirement of ASEAN’s Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA)mandating to honor medical licenses and credentials among member nations, this highlights the need to write the long-overdue guidelines needed for the regulation, hiring, and training of local and foreign doctors in the Philippines. Here’s a part of Jurado’s riveting piece that needed verification plus action from the government:

The Times of India, a very prestigious newspaper, published an article, “Now showing: Manilabhai MBBS*.” The article is very derogatory about our kind of medical education. The latest MBBS scam to appear on the medical scene in India is based in the Philippines. “And this one’s even less complicated than the others.”

The article says: “There is no entrance test for admission, now, will you need to attempt the screening test in return?” says Upveen Harpal, accounting executive, HCMI, which is sending students abroad.

The article adds, “So, anybody with 40 percent in Class XII examination and who could pay Rs 16 lakhas (about P1.6 million) upfront could head for the Philippines for an MBBS and come home to practice. No questions asked, and Harpal claimed that this was a three-party tieup among HCMI, a medical school in Manila and a medical school in Tamil Nadu, India.”

To add insult to injury, Yogesh Sharma of Gujarat Global News Network, Ahmedabad wrote an article entitled, “The Philippines dangles carrots to Gujarat students: Be doctor for Rs 20 lakh.” The article implies that there are no more requirements to enter an MBBS program in the Philippines since the title gives the impression that all one needs is Rs 20 lakh or P2,000,000 to become a doctor, courtesy of fly-by-night or spurious Philippine medical schools, and diploma mills for sale. “ *N.B. M.D. in the Philippines is equivalent to MBBS in India. Manila Standard (07/25/08, Jurado, Emil; Photo Credit: PaulCooperBland)

Menstruation bill and catamenial holiday that make socialists think

August 20, 2008

Party-list representative Narciso Santiago filled House Bill 4888 aka Menstruation Leave Act of 2008 which provides for a one-day holiday each month for working women going through menstruation. Hailed by feminists, welfare adherents, socialists, and hordes of supportive Filipino women, Santiago proposed a half-day salary for the catamenial holiday and violators are threatened with a fine of P30,000 or a jailtime of 30 to 180 days.

Finding inspiration from similar legislations in Korea, Japan and Indonesia, Rep. Santiago makes many Filipino women happy. After all, a large percentage of them suffer from some form of menstruation-related discomfort, a leading cause of job absenteeism in their ranks.

More than 50% of menstruating women experience pain (dysmenorrhea,) most of which aren’t serious though and are treatable by medications. Others suffer from menstrual irregularities—from lack of monthly shedding to excessive flow or more frequent periods accompanied by non-specific complaints of headaches and emotional tensions.

However, about 10% of these women may experience manifestations that can be debilitating. Aside from pain, they harbor signs and symptoms of varying severity—-mood changes, fatigue, and signs of some underlying conditions such as infections, endometriosis, endometrial hyperplasias, ectopic pregnancy, genital tract malformations, cervical, uterine and ovarian tumors.

Menstruation, the time-honored monthly shedding of the uterine lining (endometrium) is a physiologic process. It occurs once a woman starts menarche at puberty and ends at menopause. A normal part of the female function, menstruation is not a disease. For this reason, medicalization of menstruation and allowing catamenial leaves on the job deserve more thinking and consideration. Menstruation holidays raise the questions of medical necessity and it opens up the possibility of indolence, slowing, and discrimination in the workplace.

The intention of the Menstruation Leave Act of 2008 is good, but this may not be beneficial for the country in the long run. With about 50% of Filipino females in the labor force, the budget to pay for a monthly menstrual holiday is enormous. This lowers work dividends and increases the overhead cost of employers. Paid menstruation leaves make women’s productivity lesser than that of men and these can spawn a backlash in the hiring of females in the workplace. The Menstruation Leave Act can drive small businesses into bankruptcy if employers have no money to pay for them.

In South Korea, after the government left the discretion to compensate menstrual leaves on the employers and companies, the courts have been deluged with protests and lawsuits because many have been refused payments. Labor unions fight with the workers for benefits. And employers start investigating who among those who skip work is truly menstruating and who among them have reached menopause which leaves them ineligible for benefits.

In Japan, the decision to request for menstrual leave is left on the worker. According to Japan’s Labor Act, female workers can request for catamenial leaves when menstruation makes it extremely hard for them to function in their jobs. Doctor’s certification may not be necessary.

Following the belief that the government and businesses must provide for most comforts of its citizens, the paid menstrual leave package in Indonesia boggles the mind of capitalists and socialists alike. With a floundering and corrupt economy, Indonesia has generously added two days’ paid leave for parents who have their children baptized, two days’ leave if their children marry, and another two days’ paid circumcision leave for the parents, not for the son. Aren’t all these labor perks wonderful? They are good if governments and employers can afford the expense. Sometimes, the law and reality don’t easily come together that easy. =0=

When Money Rains From The Sky

June 2, 2008


About 23.5 million Filipinos — a quarter of the population — earn 67 pesos or less a day (Gov’t Readies P500 Subsidies to 4 Million Filipinos, ABS-CBN NewsOnline, AP 06/02/08). They’re unlike their southern neighbors, the Indonesians. Millions of them also live on the same measly budget (less than $2 per day.) With rising fuel prices, they struggle with worsening poverty.

On a bright sunny day, motivational speaker and author Tung Desem Waringin dropped $10,700 worth of Indonesian paper bills in a soccer field, 40 miles from Jakarta. He avoided doing it in the capital city for fear of chaos and mayhem that could arise from the crowds. The people dashed like crazy snatching the money from the wind. The give-away cash was a stunt to promote Mr. Warigin’s book entitled Marketing Revolution.

The frenzied excitement of the poor caught in the picture taken by Associated Press (06/02/08, Alangkara, D) could well be the same in the Philippines if the much-needed currency was dropped there. In fact, it may be the same anywhere each time money unexpectedly rains from the sky. =0=