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Friday, January 24, 2014

Thinking about thinking green and beautiful

As I prepare for my talk, with the title THINK GREEN AND BEAUTIFUL, I am so amazed by how time flew and how good it is to dream, to travel, to work, to meet people and sometimes touch other people's lives even for a moment.

Life has been so wonderful and while I still have many dreams and wish to do many things---I know I finally know more of myself now than ever. And though am the idealist, optimist, dreamer who in many times belong to another universe if not in this world I still know and feel what is real and what is doable even under tough and complicated scenario.

I love green in all its form and meaning, I love beautiful places, people and things in their best form, memories and senses, To me beauty is beyond the eyes, it is something felt deeply without question or explanation. Now I can prove that beauty is within us and exist even in chaos and ruins, it becomes a state of mind.

How I wish life could be perfectly smooth, clean and strong free from the undesirables but I guess it makes us appreciate simple good things of value when we have gone through hard times, when we are challenged and we rise above it, when we see that it is not all about money but having  pleasure in us being alive.

I thank the supreme for the sun, the land, the water and all the beings that keeps me alive.

I live because of GREEN.
I am happy because if all things BEAUTIFUL great and small.
I wish to share why it means a lot to THINK and ACT.
We will have more heaven on earth if we all have to go and make use of our life and the best of
all things LIVING.

Enjoy your weekend,


Saturday, January 18, 2014


Am excited for 2014, it feels like it would really be special. And as I chose to think and act, much of the work in line supports the over-all picture I want to see, in my life, my family, my community, country and the world.

When I conducted the 2013 International Horticulture Training: Gardens of the World and Floral Design, I already stated in my formal letter that it will be the prelude to a new campaign:

I am glad our MASAYANG KAINAN PARA SA KALUSUGAN turned out very well and has encouraged many of those who joined us to set up the HEALTH WALK.

My wish list is long and big and I hope to be able to do what I can with the people around me who supports the cause and goals I have in our unit, the university,  our social groups and the world.

For the first quarter of 2014:

1) A special seminar to launch in public the THINK GREEN AND BEAUTIFUL CAMPAIGN with VIEWS FROM 1)Aurora 2) Bohol 3) Camiguin 4) Davao and 5) Leyte, Philippines in January 30 at UPLB CSC.
2) Launch of the GREENMART at UPLB  CSC  in January  and possibly another version in Leyte in March
3) A talk to farmers of Laguna on Increasing Productivity, Profitability and Sustainability in Farms and Farm Communities in cooperation with NIA and the organization of UPLB Agriciultural Chemistry Students
4) Organization of a special symposium on Frontline Challenges in Agriculture and Nutrition in Leyte as part of the LUBAG-MERCADO Mission and my network
5) Packaging of livelihood trainings and development  program proposals in line with our YOLANDA Outreach and evaluation of our on going feeding, expansion of our community kitchens and assessment of the recipient of our foundation seeds.
6) Conduct of  special training and tour to my landscape horticulture students and industry contacts related to Sustainable Practices in Agriculture and Horticulture with a special project in cooperation with Green Earth Heritage Foundation
7) My students come up with good entrepreneurship projects and innovative products and time appropriate garden and farm designs
7)  Formalization of our LIGAYANG MABUHAY group, activation of our website and conduct of fundraising and linkage activities.

On a personal note, I am so excited to meet Apollo again in Houston for his NASA low gravity space flight to test the cookware he designed, constructed and modelled at Cornell esp. Jean Hunter in cooperation with industry and NASA. A quick stop in California will allow me to renew ties with family and friends and I hope to meet more in Texas, Arizona and New York.

This is my Apollo, my loving space guy during our last visit at the Mauna Kea, Big Island Hawaii. Safety and more power to you as you prepare for your big, big science and engineering work. See you at the JOHNSON SPACE in HOUSTON soon.



Friday, January 10, 2014

YOLANDA OUTREACH: Mission Highlights

Happy to share life's blessings to those in need. With a multitude who experienced hardship and  hunger when Yolanda devastated a huge region, it was hard not to think and act. Sending donation through the Cornell Club of the Philippines for medical relief  during the early phase seemed not enough,  We had experts willing to help and the mission trip involved assessment, feeding, relief distribution, establishment of community kitchens and foundation seed dispersal.

 Here's the highlight of our  program first steps.

Foundation seeds of corn, mungbean, squash, eggplant, okra and sitao  that can start production for about  10 hectares of land were repacked in home, community and farmer's packets.These type of seeds are mainly for multiplication, traditionally not planted for direct commercial crop harvest. Distribution were made directly through the communities, individuals and the LGU's we prioritized.  We purchased them from the National Seed Foundation under my unit the Crop Science Cluster and Institute of Plant Breeding, UP Los Banos  from pledges and private donations. My students, family and some CSC staff helped when we repacked many sacks and bags into small packets. The small packets included our LIGAYANG MABUHAY campaign, the mission group and the names of the crops seeds and their cultivar names eg. Mistisa, Supersweet and Pag-asa. We distributed over a thousand packets with some groups receiving vermicast and the Mykoplus biofertilizer, an  inoculant donated by Dr. Joy Zarate of BIOTECH, UPLB..  It is our aim to promote production of nutritious foods at the home, in the community gardens and through farmers to address part of their food needs. While we expect home gardens to enjoy the harvests we instructed recipients to save the best, let them mature and share to others.

Sharing nutritious cooked soups, meals,  and holiday  fruits in a surprise feeding program were done in different places. Interestingly our feeding schedules amidsts rainshower or strong pours and some good sunny hours  from barangay halls, roadside waiting shed, barangay sheds by the coasts and highlands, parking areas and home fronts. 

Big smiles and happy faces from our children and adult recipients. We were able to do it with the help of our volunteers and the community who responded quickly to our surprise visits. Some areas were quick to call and in large droves while the others took passing of the shouts from fields. The sight of kids running to meet us amazed me.

We set up a special cooking session: A PANCAKE BRIGADE with the barangay leaders of West Visoria, Carigara and also turnover our kitchen materials and supplies, They are continuing the feeding program and we expect them to have the family of the benefiaries to help in implementing them. Early on I envisioned setting up soup kitchens or a community kitchen that can be mobile or stationary with options for mixed use for possible service, livelihood or community strengthening. Three barangays in Cariigara got food supplies and two got our cookwares and utensils that gladly cooperated to operate the feeding and health program. 

We got donation for water fitltration technology using these plastic drums and a nanotech system from the US that allows cleaning of water.  This was set up by MU SIGMA PHI fraternity and sorority  at the UP College of Medicine  in  Manila in their special project as initiated to us  by my mission partner Dr Ces Acuin and her husband Dr Lito Acuin. Jose Chua, a second year Medicine student gave this to us and demonstrated how it works and it is maintained.

Recipients are Barugo, Leyte residents distributed in schools. We also gave them seeds, food supplies as shown here.  We also donated 3 sets of encyclopedia in a public library recently damaged.

We met farmers of Tacloban City in cooperation with the City Agriculturist office and distributed seeds and observed their farm system.

Spending the holidays in Leyte and reaching out to many barangays in Carigara,  Capoocan, Barugo, Palo (Leyte) and Tacloban city is a life changing experience. Our team of experts and volunteers will convene soon  to plan how to proceed.

Thanks to all our pivate donors from the US, Canada and the Philippines mostly our relarives and some friends, our hosts, my aunt Minda Lim, Uncle Ben, May and Jerome Capuyan, the Shopper's staff and crew. Our volunteers esp. Rochelle Saracanlao, Nim Gonzales, Jessie Lubag and my students at UPLB. 

This we do in behalf of the LUBAG-MERCADO Mission and our gracious and generous donors. 
The Mission group was formed when the family, church and relatives  of Dr. Leticia Mercado Lubag and the late Mr. Angelo Josue B. Lubag Jr of Naic, Cavite  joined hand to conduct two Habagat Outreach  Missions  in cooperation with  the Naic LGU's, private groups and my alumni club the Cornell Club of the Philippines in its Centennial Celebration in 2012.

This is just the start, we hope to do more, they really need more help. 

Blessings to all, let us join hands and let love flow.


Maraming Salamat,

Amihan Mercado Lubag-Arquiza

Saturday, October 19, 2013


What is this? What do I mean? Ligayang Mabuhay is a special greeting I coined to emphasize my desire for the person or community I meet that I wish them a long joyful life. In the Philippines and for Filipinos abroad, MABUHAY is often used formally while it can also connote congratulations and best wishes, As for me, I associate it with the belief that life is good and beautiful and the moment in time we have should be celebrated well. We don’t need a special occasion to celebrate but it can be used on a regular day and emphasize that one can make it special and in the end attain a state of bliss. Ligaya may not exactly be the same as bliss but it means a high level of happiness and joy. I started using the phrase to greet family and friends and I am bent to pursue the establishment of a Club bearing the phrase. I envision the group to be optimistic, enthusiastic, innovative, cooperative and productive. It will allow our group to spend times together for our common interest and activities that can improve our well-being, our talent, our vigour indivIdually and have synergy within us and in interaction with other groups or community. I thank those few who I expected to join me actively and I will be happy to get support and cheers from others who may be far and away. Let’s be happy and thankful for we are given the precious gift of life and that we are in this world, a part of the big UNIVERSE during this convenient but challenging times. LIGAYANG MABUHAY SA INYONG LAHAT.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Among the things that can transform the Philippines to great heights, is the propagation, promotion and practice of the Bayanihan spirit. Bayanihan comes from the word bayan meaning town, country or community and also related to the word bayani or hero. It means unity and cooperation in specific activities towards a common goal.

The Filipino bayanihan was depicted in a masterpiece by National Artist Francisco "Botong' Francisco displayed at the UNILAB Manlla Office. It has been a favorite subject among artists and shown here is Blanco's Bayanihan displayed in Angono, Rizal

Men joined forces to carry a nipa hut to move from its original spot to another area. This could be a short distance to over a few kilometers years back. Those days’ big trucks were not readily available and homes were mostly built of light materials. Now that most Filipinos reside in urban areas and in more durable homes, seeing a nipa hut being moved is no longer a common sight.

Will the bayanihan spirit remain? Bayanihan overlaps with other Filipino traits like 1) malasakit (concerned), 2) matulunging ( helpful) and 3) makipagkapuwa tao ( human relations),

It should remain and must be strengthened.

For Filipinos abroad the Bayanihan spirit thrives in ways more than one:


In Ithaca New York, it seems like we have a tiny barangay where Filipinos and Filipino Americans help each other 1) sharing basic starter stuff for new students in town who wants them 2) moving homes or apartments 3) raising money for charity, sick and those in grief , and 4) promoting Filipino art and culture through regular conduct of events and performances.

Others all over the world have a special community away for the motherland. Many would say, para ka ring nasa Pilipinas (it’s like you are also in the Philippines).

We live in great times because most off us don’t have tragic memories of wars like our forefathers did. Technologies have allowed easier access to our basic needs although sadly many still remain very poor. There are only few careers that will allow us to be heroes and other don’t even consider being a fireman or police heroic because it is part of their job and means to live to protect the citizenry.

The way to go is to inculcate bayanihan spirit and join forces with people who share our common love for the country and our communities.


Each of us find organizations we are comfortable with but signing up for activities in service oriented or volunteers oriented groups for specific durations is another. It means one can even just be transient or a guest in the area but be able to share his time like what people do in Gawad Kalinga and Operation Sagip Pasig.

What activities need more volunteering?

1) Environmental, educational and nutritional programs
2) Building of schools, homes, gardens and parks
3) Cleaning of waterways and natural areas
4) Reforestation
5) Conduct of cultural events
6) Health and sports programs, and more.

I have seen big gardens abroad, which are manned by lean staff but are made to respond to the public’s need through an army of unpaid volunteers.


Subic is a place where volunteerism allowed for the faster recovery from a catastrophe and closure of the American military base. So how can we teach those with time esp., the youth and the ageing population do more volunteer work?

Glad to get your inputs my friends.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


A person’s world should not be confined to what his eyes can only see. There is so much to learn, discover, imagine, or even fantasize. My life goes beyond the walls and fences and I try to understand issues openly, subject to proof within reasons and hunch. I don’t box myself to a concrete philosophical, ideological or of any religious bias. I decide case to case in line with my basic principles. I respect human rights and want a society that has a rule of law and justice. Hardships and sufferings are not required for good living. The chance to give all human liberty, dignity, and opportunities to better himself and be happy in the society he lives in should be the goal.


I am among those who has the habit of imagining how things could have been, should be and how parts can be put together to make something useful and beautiful. What I see are so vivid and detailed and seem so true and even in color. If Lea Salonga sang “A movie in my mind…” that it how it is for me for a long time. Interaction with thinkers and movers who shape the future made me feel capable of doing the same. I can easily think of possible scenarios and the best things that could happen say 25,50 or 100 years from now. I should have been a good architect or an urban planner. It’s not just about the environment but the world where human will not be too restricted on what he can do. I know the difference in capabilities but am for optimum recognition and use of human resources and skills.


I am a Filipino citizen but I am more of a universal citizen and appreciate living in a cosmopolitan city where people of different race and background can live in harmony.


It could be about anything that matters with people from all walks of life. I did not make this blog to glorify myself but to share what I can. For what? The purpose are mainly as follows: TO EDUCATE, MOTIVATE, CHALLENGE, ORGANIZE, REVIEW, and ENTERTAIN.


My life, career, travel and experiences are not ordinary. My interest is wide but also highly specialized. I will write about surprising and interesting topics when able.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Why call me Amihan? It’s my legal name, given by my loving Filipino parents for their first-born who arrived in this world on a windy, stormy night in December. Amihan is often heard in weather forecast as the northeast wind, the opposite of Habagat, which is the southwest wind. Others refer to it as a windy breeze, monsoon or simply the wind or Hanging Amihan. In Tagalog mythology, Amihan is a bird and one of the first creatures that helped the first human Malakas (Strong) and Maganda (Beautiful).


Now, it seems there are a few of us that bears the name. Most seems younger than me. I still have to meet one in person that bears my name. But, I remember one of my mother’s patients who said she named her child after me. I love my name because it is: 1) distinctly Filipino, 2) easy to remember, 3) describes part of me who likes to be felt but not always seen 4) associated with royalty in Filipino shows e.g. Princesa Amihan played by beautiful actresses and 5) close to nicknames like Amy or Ami meaning beloved and a friend.

I was a college freshman in my Animal Science class at UPLB when my teacher said Amihan, a beautiful name and a big white horse was my namesake. It was resting near the classroom window when it happened.


What else bears the name? a) A boat in Bohol b) wing of cottages in an upscale resort c) a vinegar brand) a sculpture by a national artist e) a painting and poetry f) a communist alias I found in the net g) a song “Hanging Amihan –Hanging Habagat and more for me to find out.


My name is part of my fate, life and destiny. I lived and studied in New York for many years, which is part of the Northeast America. I work with orchids many of which are epiphytes or air plants. I study coastal flora and beach gardens. I am committed to spend my time in a beautiful windy island, Siargao popular for surfers. I teach how plants can be used more to clean the air in urban areas and interioscapes. Lastly, I spend my time in environmental advocacy for a cleaner environment and a clean air for all.

This is my first blog, my way to reach out beyond my circle. Thanks and Good day!