All posts by Regoniel, Patrick A.

Dr. Patrick A. Regoniel is a graduate school professor of research, statistics, and environmental science at the Palawan State University. He has helped many graduate students complete their theses or dissertations by providing research and statistical advice and services since 1991. A Ph.D. in Environmental Science graduate of the University of the Philippines Los Baños in 2004, Dr. Regoniel is a member of the Gamma Delta Sigma Honor Society of Agriculture. He currently serves as Vice President for Research & Extension at the Palawan State University.

How to Start a Review of Literature

Writing the literature review of a research paper needs careful planning. It requires the employment of logical steps before drawing out one’s conceptual framework. This article provides information on how to start a review of literature using Google Scholar, an online database of scientific information, as a source of relevant publications.

The task of doing research is not easy for a beginning researcher. Unfamiliarity with scholarly publications pertinent to a chosen topic causes one to falsely conclude that no work has been done so far on the issue at hand. A good review of literature prevents this tendency. But how should one go about it?

The following article shows how to start a review of literature using Google Scholar, an online database of scientific publications.

Clear Understanding of the Research Topic Before Review of Literature

A literature review revolves around a central theme – the research topic or research problem. The research topic should be stated clearly to guide the review of literature. A good review of literature starts off with a good understanding of the research topic.

Writing the research topic in question form facilitates the review of literature. The research problem arises from one’s observation of a phenomenon that prompts the need for a research investigation.

Examples of Problem Statement

For example, the disaster response team observed that despite government warnings to evacuate in anticipation of a strong typhoon, many of the residents opted to stay in their homes despite the threat to their lives and property.

Several questions arise such as:

1. Does ignorance of the government’s warning of the impending danger an indication that people do not trust weather predictions?
2. Do residents value more their property than their lives?
3. Do the residents feel that they will survive the disaster despite its severity? What made them feel that way?

Use of Relevant Keywords in the Search for Related Literature

The three questions given in the previous section clearly state the focus of the review of literature. One can deduce keywords that may be used for online search of related literature such as “believability of weather predictions” for the first problem statement.

Typing “believability of weather predictions” in Google Scholar returns the following related literature:

literature review
Figure 1. Two articles related to research problem 1.

The above figure shows that other researchers have conducted studies related to the first problem statement. Two out of ten articles returned have bearing on the first question. We can say then that the topic is researchable. Figure 1 also shows the following information:

1. the title of the study (in large blue fonts);
2. the authors with the main author underlined, the date and the publisher (in green);
3. a meta description that summarizes the page’s content (three lines of description in black highlighting keywords related to the searched keyword);
4. information on article citations (46 and 81 respectively in the two articles); and
5. a link to related articles.

Clicking on the title link of the first article, the following abstract comes up:


This study assessed responses to variations of several notable news credibility measures. TV news was evaluated as more credible than newspapers, although its margin of supremacy was a function of researcher operationalizations of the concept.

The study is about news credibility and the influence of the researcher’s method on news credibility. Television news was found more credible than newspapers. But we are not after credibility comparison of television and newspapers. This is not the kind of information that we want. So we proceed to the next article about hurricane forecast and warning system.

Clicking on the title link of the succeeding article, the abstract appears. Although the focus of the article is on hurricane warning, it can be discerned that the article discusses high priority social science issues. Again, this appears to be still out of the topic.

However, getting back to the meta description and upon closer scrutiny, there is an important information that may be of interest to us. It says, “In risk communication, believability depends on trust and confidence in the source, raising …” (Figure 2). This is important information that a researcher can follow through. The article, after all, may be relevant to what we want. We need to secure the article.

We are fortunate that upon checking on the article again, there is a link at the far right that indicates a pdf file (encircled in red) is available for download. After downloading and reading the article, I found out that there are many relevant statements related to the issue of believability of predictions.

review of literature
Figure 2. Article related to research problem 1 with a pdf link.

It will now easy to collect other articles similar to the above article using the same procedure. Identify the relevant article title, read the meta description, and explore the availability of the material. With patience and a little imagination, you will be able to collect the literature that you need for your research.

You may proceed to the next problem statement and see if you can follow.

©2018 February 16 P. A. Regoniel

Cite this article as: Regoniel, Patrick A. (February 16, 2018). How to Start a Review of Literature. In SimplyEducate.Me. Retrieved from

How to Write the Conceptual Framework in a Research Proposal

Many of the users of post a lot of queries in the high traffic article I wrote titled: Conceptual Framework: A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Make One. The article’s intent is to provide useful tips on how to write the conceptual framework in a research proposal.

Despite the step-by-step, simplified guide on how to write the conceptual framework, the many questions posed by the readers suggest that they are unable to comprehend fully well the contents of the article. Through time, more than 400 comments were made in just that simple article. Interest in the topic is quite high. At this writing, more than 2,500 users read the article daily. Aside from grateful comments, readers ask a lot of questions about how to go about their conceptual framework despite the illustrative example.

Some of those who made comments ask too specific questions related to their research topics. Several masters degree candidates even send manuscripts for review and comments, eagerly waiting for my response. Many of those questions make sense while the others show the dilemma of a beginning researcher. Some of the comments indicate that the user did not read the article at all because the answer to their questions are already discussed in the article.

Among those common questions asked pertain to the determination of the independent and the dependent variables. Discernment of the difference between these types of variables appears to be difficult for many. Also, questions indicate a failure to relate one’s own research topic to what was explained in the article on how to write the conceptual framework in a research proposal. Nevertheless, I oblige by answering so very basic questions giving detailed suggestions and examples.

However, answering questions on specific research topics prove to be time consuming. I have to review the literature to make sure that my answer will be backed up by science. Reviewing the literature takes a lot of time. Although I enjoyed answering the questions, I cannot respond to all the specific queries on how to build one’s conceptual framework. Writing in is basically a hobby; a way to share my understanding of the research process. I admit that my ideas are subject to scrutiny, and I thankfully respond to readers who point out overlooked points or glaring errors.

Scrabble forming the word concept (Source:

To be more effective in addressing the readers’ queries, I wrote the e-book titled “Conceptual Framework Development Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide with Five Practical Examples.” The e-book is a compilation of all conceptual framework related articles that I previously wrote in this site and in other blogging websites. I added lecture materials in the graduate school plus personal experience in doing research to enrich the discussion. Further, recognizing the effectiveness of examples to illustrate concept, I added five concrete examples using actual scientific papers to the e-book. The task was tedious, but it seems the e-book has fulfilled its purpose.

Thus, for those who find difficulty in writing the conceptual framework in a research proposal, the e-book detailing the steps on how to write the conceptual framework in a research proposal is a must have. For those who have availed of this publication, the author will be happy to receive comments, suggestions, and healthy criticisms to further enrich this work. All for the sake of better research outputs and … discovery.

If you are patient enough to browse in this site, chances are, you will find answers to your research-related questions. If not, then my e-book on How to Write a Thesis in the Information Age compiles all the research tips I wrote in this site and other websites with review questions as well as exercises.

Please message me about that specific topic you would like to know more about and I will respond with an article related to your query.

Eight Doable Agricultural Practices to Mitigate the Impacts of Global Climate Change

Here are eight doable agricultural practices to mitigate the impacts of global climate change.

Billions of dollars were lost due to unpredictable climate changes all over the world. While debate rages on, whether climate change is man-induced or not, resolute actions must be done to mitigate the impacts associated with this global phenomenon.

It was originally pointed out by this author that the major contribution modern agricultural practices make to the global climate change scenario are emissions of greenhouse gases namely methane and carbon dioxide (see Regoniel, 2010). Since current agricultural practices is the recognized source of these greenhouse gas emissions, mitigation must therefore address issues concerning reduction of these greenhouse gases either through emission prevention or sequestration of atmospheric emissions especially of carbon.

How then can agricultural practices prevent or minimize greenhouse gas emissions as well as sequester back what has been emitted into the atmosphere?

Hereunder are eight doable agricultural practices to mitigate the impacts of global climate change:

1. Plant crop varieties that better reflect sunlight back out to space.

By planting crops that have high reflectivity or albedo, summertime temperatures could be reduced by more than one degree Celsius in places like Eurasia and central North America. This approach is referred to as bio-geoengineering. Selection of crops that have high reflectivity can reflect sunlight back out into space and lower global air temperature.

2. Undertake organic farming.

Organic farming enhances soil quality particularly in keeping the soil moist. Done on a large scale, these agricultural practices can prevent drying of land and land degradation due to the use of chemicals fertilizers.

3. Apply fertilizer precisely.

To reduce excessive emission of greenhouse gases as well as water pollution due to unabsorbed fertilizers, precise application of fertilizers is recommended by scientists.

4. Reduce consumption of meat.

Reducing the consumption of meat products on a global scale can decrease the amount of methane-producing animals raised to supply global demand for meat. This will also reduce land areas that need to be cleared for cattle grazing. These grazing lands can be grown with cover crops instead to serve as carbon sinks or storage. Also, crops with high albedo reflects back excessive sunlight into space as pointed out earlier.

5. Grow diverse crop varieties.

Growing diverse crop varieties that are less reliant on fertilizer and fossil fuel inputs can reduce crop vulnerability to unpredictable weather changes. This will be much more advantageous than monoculture farms which are susceptible, not only to extreme climatic conditions, but also to pest outbreaks during abnormal climate conditions such as those brought about by El Niño. Planting crops with a wide temperature threshold value or pest resistant species can ensure survival. Selection of indigenous plant material that evolved through time can therefore be a wise option to take.

6. Plant trees in strategic locations in farms.

Lost carbon sequestration capacity due to clear-cutting of trees for agriculture can be compensated by planting trees around farms or setting aside forest patches alongside farms. Care must be taken in selecting tree species to grow alongside farms as their fruits or flowers might attract crop predators or pests. This system is called agroforestry. Planting trees has the added benefit of serving as buffer against storms to prevent crop destruction.

Further, trees send their roots considerably deeper than the crops. This allows them to survive a drought and protect both crops and land from too much sun exposure thus minimize water evaporation. Tree roots also pump water into the upper soil layers where crops can tap it, and create spaces for water flow. Leaf litter also generates compost and serves as mulch to keep water from escaping rapidly into the atmosphere.

7. Stagger planting of crops.

Staggered planting of crops can prevent total crop failure due to abrupt climate shifts. Losses will also be minimized.

8. Use energy efficient systems (environmental technology) in running farms.

Use of energy efficient technologies can significantly reduce emission of greenhouse gases from farm machineries. Sunshine Farm in British Columbia has been farming without fossil fuels, fertilizers, or pesticides. It runs essentially on sunlight. They produce their own biodiesel from homegrown sunflower seeds and soybeans. Three-fourths of its feed for horses, cattle, and poultry are derived from the farm. Electricity is provided through a 4.5-kilowatt photovoltaic array.

Adoption of low-carbon environmental technologies such as wind, solar, biofuel, biomass, hydro- and geothermal power can make farms work in an efficient and sustainable manner.

Government policies that encourage the above agricultural practices can help mitigate global climate change impacts. And of course, policies become ineffective if these are not implemented by concerned government, non-government and private institutions.

Global climate change is a serious matter that should be addressed by environment-friendly agricultural practices whether this phenomenon is a normal part of the earth’s global temperature fluctuations or indeed it is anthropogenic or man-induced in nature.

e-Science News, 2009. Strategic farming practices could help mitigate global warming. Retrieved on April 2, 2010 at

Halweil, B., 2005. The irony of climate in Worldwatch Magazine. Retrieved on March 27, 2010 at

Herro, A., 2008. Adjustments to agriculture may help mitigate global warming. Retrieved on March 27, 2010 at

Hindu, The, 2009. India: Organic farming to mitigate global warming. Retrieved on March 27, 2010 at

Maathai, W., 2009. Africa: Continent Must Protect Forests to Mitigate Global Warming. Retrieved on March 27, 2010 at

Regoniel, P.A., 2010. Two major agricultural causes of global climate change. Retrieved on April 2, 2010 at

Cite this article as: Regoniel, Patrick A. (November 29, 2017). Eight Doable Agricultural Practices to Mitigate the Impacts of Global Climate Change. In SimplyEducate.Me. Retrieved from

What is Experiential Learning?

What is experiential learning? This article describes this learning approach, presents a model of how it works and gives an example. It also enumerates the four steps of the learning process and the elements needed for learners to gain knowledge.

What is Experiential Learning?

Experiential learning is founded on the idea that learning takes place among students by giving them the experience to do what is expected of them. Kolb (1984) defines learning as “the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience.” It does not follow the conventional one-way lecture approach where students become passive listeners. Learning takes place when students desire to gain the knowledge they seek. Thus, teachers need to guide students through the process of learning by experience.

The philosophy behind experiential learning is that students learn best when allowed to discover new things and experiment on the outcomes of an action firsthand, instead of just hearing or reading about the experiences of others. Students learn after they have reflected on their experiences, with the end in view of doing it better the next time they engage in such activity.

Model of Experiential Learning

The desire to learn varies among individuals. Hence, experiential learning focuses on the individual’s learning process.

Let us see how experiential learning takes place by presenting a model. A model is a representation of what scientists think about how it works. One of the popular models of experiential learning is that of Kolb (1984). The four-step experiential learning model is presented in the figure below.

what is experiential learning
Experiential learning model by Kolb (1984).

How is the model applied in real life situations? The following example will show how this model works.

Example of Experiential Learning

I employ experiential learning whenever a software application interests me. Being an open source enthusiast, I studied Lyx, an advanced open source document processor running on Linux. Nobody in my work environment knows how to use Lyx, so I learned by discovery.

Once the software has started, I just typed on the document processor and used the menu by clicking on it and selecting from the dropdowns. I discovered that a button, for example, sets the font in Italic in a way different from the word processors that I use. As the I go through the whole process, I discovered many other things or features of the software. Thus, I learn more things as I reflect on the effects of my action and apply what I have in mind.

Using the model, the following are the four steps of the learning process:

  1. Concrete experience: booting up the computer, installing Lyx, and opening the software for actual use;
  2. Active experimentation: playing with the menus;
  3. Reflective observation: discovering that the Menu labeled Edit contains the command to change the default font to italic, bold, among others,
  4. Abstract conceptualization: figuring out the use of other menus using the experience gained.

Elements of Experiential Learning

Experiential learning takes place even without a teacher around. However, learning becomes much more meaningful if the learner possesses the following characteristics:

  1. willing to engage actively in the activity,
  2. reflects on the experience,
  3. uses analytical skills, and
  4. able to decide and solve problems using new ideas gained from experience.


Kolb, D. (1984). Experiential learning as the science of learning and development. Prentice-Hall. 256pp.

University of Colorado (n.d.). What is experiential learning.  Retrieved on July 22, 2017 from

Cite this article as: Regoniel, Patrick A. (July 22, 2017). What is Experiential Learning?. In SimplyEducate.Me. Retrieved from

Consumer Behavior Analysis on Locally Produced Rice: A Suggested Conceptual Framework

One of the readers — Adwoa — requested help on consumer perception about locally produced rice after reading the post titled “Conceptual Framework: A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Make One.” This issue falls under the purview of consumer behavior analysis.

How would she come up with her conceptual framework? What are the variables she should take into consideration?

I do not exactly know why she decided to pick this topic. Perhaps she wants to know the consumers’ buying behavior in her place. It is possible that the main issue she is trying to resolve has something to do with consumer rice preference.

Thus, in framing the research issue, it is important to define the intention. What does the researcher want to achieve at the end of the study? Hence, the objectives of the study must be clear.

For discussion purposes, I presume that Adwoa would like to know if significantly more consumers in her locality buy rice produced in other places than locally-produced rice. Specifically, she might want to find out if there is a preference for imported rice. Thus the objective is:

Find out if imported rice is preferred over locally-produced rice.

To make clear the issue, let us state the problem in question form. Hence, the question that will guide our thinking shall be:

Problem Statement: Are there more people buying imported than locally-produced rice?

Consumer Behavior Analysis Framework for the Study

The variable in question must be identified to understand consumer behavior.  A variable is an entity that takes on different attributes.

In our example, the variable is the source of rice, i.e., whether it is local or imported. These attributes are textual, meaning, they do not show values but just categories. Thus, the consumer is presented with only two options: to buy local or imported rice.

A research hypothesis, represented by Ha, can then be drawn:

Ha: Significantly more consumers buy imported rather than locally-produced rice.

The researcher conceptualizes that the consumer’s decision to buy depends on whether the source of rice is local or imported. Perhaps, what prompted Adwoa to conduct the study is her observation that demand for imported rice is high as evidenced by a greater volume of consumption of that type of rice.

The type of data gathered in this study is referred to as frequency data. A simple Chi-square Goodness-of-Fit test will show if more people buy (or prefer) imported to local rice.

If for example, the proportion of randomly selected people buying imported rice versus local rice in a population of 100 is 80:20, apparently it shows that more people buy imported rice than local. However, if the proportion is something like 56:44, will you conclude in the same way? That data requires statistical analysis. The Chi-square goodness of fit test takes care of that.

If indeed the consumers prefer imported to local rice, then Adwoa might wonder and ask: “Why do people prefer imported rice?” Thus, the factors that affect the choice of rice type may be explored.

The conceptual framework to guide the study might look like this:

consumer behavior analysis
Suggested conceptual framework for rice preference.

Why include age, gender, and economic status in the picture? As a researcher, Adwoa might have noticed that most of those who buy rice are young, females, and belong to the higher echelon of society. Perhaps these factors may have influenced the decision to buy imported rice.

The alternative hypothesis (Ha) for the study at this stage, therefore, will be:

Ha: Age, gender, and economic status determine rice preference.

But do age, gender, and economic status determine rice preference? Before finalizing her conceptual framework, Adwoa may review the literature on consumer behavior analysis first to find out if somebody has done a similar study. If she does find related studies, then she can cite those studies to strengthen further or enhance the conceptual framework.

Analyzing the relationship between profile and preference requires a good knowledge of the appropriate statistical test. Thus, building the conceptual framework in this instance requires the guidance of a statistician or at least a working knowledge of statistics.

Consumer behavior analysis can thus guide policy makers in drawing out policies to guide local consumers. Preference for imported rice can affect local farmers and the local economy in general. Hence, research lends help to policy making.

©2017 P. A. Regoniel

Cite this article as: Regoniel, Patrick A. (July 20, 2017). Consumer Behavior Analysis on Locally Produced Rice: A Suggested Conceptual Framework. In SimplyEducate.Me. Retrieved from

The Importance of Time Management and Exercise

My designation to a higher position impacted on the rank of this site. I could not write just like before as my tasks zap my energy to levels that prevent me from writing online. But I need to make updates or new blogs to keep this site going and at least maintain its rank and audience. The importance of time management comes into the picture.

Being designated a higher position next to the highest position in the organization means having to contend with so many administrative tasks — tasks that require an entirely different work atmosphere that left me very little time to do research work.

The Importance of Time Management

But is time an issue? Is it not because of how we handle time?

Despite the heavy workload, I was able to do some tasks related to at least two research projects specifically on human waste management and the time-consuming systems analysis of water pollution in El Nido, a popular tourist destination in the northern part of Palawan Island. Two other projects on community empowerment and a book project on endangered species of wildlife await. Earlier, I finished a book project on endemic, charismatic and amazing wildlife of Palawan where I live.

I once felt overwhelmed, incompetent and guilty of not being able to do what I should do in the projects where I am involved. But upon reading a book on time management titled “Effective Time Management” by John Adair, I changed my perspective.

the importance of time management
Mind map of time management (Jean-Louis Zimmermann 2008).

I discovered that I am using my time optimally, meaning, I should not feel guilty of not being able to do what I need to do.  Using Time Tracker, a free software I use in Zohrin, a Linux distribution, I realized that I am not wasting any time at all. I just need to prioritize my work. And of course, I also need rest to let my brain take and body take much-needed rest.

Time for Exercise

Indeed, the work that I do is stressful, but I cope up with regular one to two hours of exercise in the morning. This time is allocated specifically for this purpose. I give premium to exercise as I found out that my stresses are gone after I finish my two or three-mile run. In fact, I have run four 10Ks in the past two years. My best time so far is 1 hour and two minutes last April. I hope to get a sub-hour on my next run, or I might as well try the 21K. Running this distance without stopping is a product of regular 2-3 mile runs for the past four years. Running at least three times a week made this possible.

As workers, how can exercise help us? According to Mochon, Norton, and Ariely (2008) regular activities like exercise, give positive boosts that bring higher well being. Incremental boosts provided by training had a cumulative positive impact on well-being.

Hence, don’t underestimate the importance of time management particularly including exercise in it. Exercise reduces not only stress but also improves learning and mental performance (Cotman and Berchtold, 2002). Regular physical exertion enables researchers to do more mental work and face all work tasks with a general feeling of well-being. It must be an integrated part of your time management program.


Cotman, C. W., & Berchtold, N. C. (2002). Exercise: a behavioral intervention to enhance brain health and plasticity. Trends in neurosciences, 25(6), 295-301.

Mochon, D., Norton, M. I., & Ariely, D. (2008). Getting off the hedonic treadmill, one step at a time: The impact of regular religious practice and exercise on well-being. Journal of Economic Psychology, 29(5), 632-642.

Research Design: A Simplified Definition for Beginning Researchers

What is a research design? To understand what these two words mean, there is a need to have a clear understanding of what is “research” and “design.”

This brief article defines the research design and its role in preparing a good research paper.

The Meaning of Research Design

As Zigmund (1999) puts it, research literally means “to search again.” It means the researcher has to look again at existing information to explain a subject or topic of interest. There is a need to know more about a given phenomenon in all its dimensions.

The design is essentially a plan to show the final product even before it is built or made. An example is a house’s “blueprint” that describes the details of how a building should look.

research design analogy
An example of a blueprint.

Thus, bringing together these two concepts, research design is the plan that guides data collection to achieve the objectives of research, i.e., to generate new information based on existing ones. The plan details the procedure and instruments for data collection, how the variables associated with the phenomenon should be measured, and the statistical analysis to be applied to the data obtained.

The plan should systematically answer the problem statement or research questions. A one-to-one correspondence between problem statement and the instruments or methods to use to resolve the problem avoids missing out the required data for analysis.

A matrix or a table with headings such as problem statement, data collection instrument, and statistical analysis ensures efficient collection of data (see table below). Gathering data more than is needed is both costly and time wasting. And gathering less than required data prevents meaningful analysis thus failure to address the research problem.

Problem StatementData Collection InstrumentStatistical Analysis
What is the profile of coastal residents living within the government defined tsunami danger zone?Survey formDescriptive statistics
How shall local government units respond to tsunami if it does occur?Key informant interviewNone required; qualitative
What is the expected tsunami inundation area?GIS modeling softwareNone required

Researchers, therefore, should not start their study without adequately figuring out what type of data or information is needed to meet the objectives of their research. Failure to do so means unnecessarily spending more time and money in conducting the investigation. The probability of making illogical or irrelevant conclusions will be high.


Zikmund, W. G. (1999). Essentials of marketing research. South Western Educational Publishing.

Cite this article as: Regoniel, Patrick A. (February 12, 2017). Research Design: A Simplified Definition for Beginning Researchers. In SimplyEducate.Me. Retrieved from

Crabbing: A Sustainable Livelihood in the Coasts of Magsaysay

Crabbing is an exciting activity I happen to witness during my recent trip to the remote island of Cuyo, a volcanic island between the islands of Palawan and Panay in the Philippines (Figure 1). This article describes the activity and provides insights for conservation and management of natural resources.

Cuyo Islands
Figure 1. Cuyo archipelago

Dodokon: The Intriguing Crab Species

As part of my task in a United Nations Development Program (UNDP) project, I lectured on the value of biodiversity to human life. A workshop followed the speech where the participants coming from five communities in the municipality of Rizal identified economically important species in their respective barangays. They plotted these resources on maps attached to the walls of the lecture hall.

I noticed several unfamiliar words stuck on resource map of participants coming from Barangay Rizal. They drew and pasted on the map a crab species unknown to even a colleague living in the place and me. It’s remarkable how the locals can discriminate certain species of crabs and give them unique names. They call the crab “dodokon.” Collecting dodokon forms part of their crabbing activity during low tide.

Intrigued how “dodokon” looks like, I told Marge, the director of the campus, that I would like to make a tour along the coast to document the species. It also presents an opportunity to use my newly cleaned Leica D-vario lens that had been kept for years after I inadvertently submerged it in the water while crossing a river during one of my field trips. She arranged for an early morning trip to a nearby sea grape farm about three kilometers away from our quarters.

Crabbing Tour

It was almost seven o’clock in the morning when my colleagues and I made a quick visit of the latô (sea grape) farm in Barangay Rizal, Magsaysay in the island of Cuyo. The school driver brought us in the appointed place in less than 15 minutes. A tour guide met us upon arrival and walked with us to the shore.

We waited a moment and realized that only one raftsman was around to give us a tour of the latô farm. My colleagues suggested that I take the first raft and start the tour as I still have a meeting at 9 o’clock with research coordinators of the extramural campus of our university. As research director, they need my guidance on the new research agenda of the university.

I thought that Elmer, the raftsman, will bring me around the intricate arrangement of latô enclosures. But around mid-way of the trip through the murky waters, he told me to stand back at the other end of the raft, about three meters from the rear end. The purpose is to achieve balance in the flimsy bundle of bamboo poles. He placed a large stone on his side and submerged half his body into the muddy substrate then wore an improvised swim googles to see underwater. I thought he was collecting sea grapes but learned later that he was collecting crabs as he tossed several crabs into a plastic pail while navigating the shallow waters.

What’s inside the pail? It’s the dodokon (see below).

Crabs (dodokon) collected from the murky waters of Rizal.

Crabbing as a Sustainable Livelihood for Coastal Fisherfolks

Crabbing is a sustainable source of food for the fisherfolks of Rizal as they wait for their latô farms to produce enough volume for commercial purposes. As long as the habitat is undisturbed, the muddy areas next to the mangroves can yield an unending supply of crabs to meet subsistence needs. In mangrove areas next to polluted bays or estuaries, subsisting on such crabs will make one cringe. Crabs are filter feeders and contaminated organic substances may contain toxins that can threaten human life through the process of bioaccumulation.

The residents of Rizal are fortunate because they still have pristine mangrove forests free from pollutants. Houses on stilts just like those found in urban areas are nowhere in sight. One can still enjoy the crunchy, dodokon delicacy just like the one we consumed when we dined back in our base.

crab meal
A crunchy, breaded meal of dodokon concluded our day.

Save Time Using the Internet as Source of Information

How can research help you save time? This article describes how a simple web search for information can save time in daily concerns such as commuting from one place to another. Read on to see how research can save time as well as money and effort.

Research can do worthwhile improvements in our daily lives such as saving time. Time is gold so they say and we must consciously do things that can help us save time. More time available means more opportunity to do other things.

I narrate my personal experience on how research tools and techniques matter. The application of simple review of available information and putting the information to good use means efficient use of time and money.

Save Time Using Online Information

I was one of the participants of a planning meeting in the Department of Science and Technology at 10 o’clock in the morning last Wednesday. My residence is in Quezon City and I will be traveling from that point of Metro Manila to the City of Taguig. If I take the taxi as I did before, I will be paying roughly PhP500 to reach my destination. That would take about two hours, at moderate traffic.

I dislike the feeling of urgency whenever the taxi I am in gets trapped in the traffic mess. The  driver complains and asks me to pay extra for the delay. It gives me stress and this can get ugly if my frustration leads to a heated exchange of words with the driver.

I realized later that the driver is not to be blamed because running on an empty taxi after unloading me in my destination in the midst of heavy traffic means expending gas with no passenger to pay for the gas consumed.

Stating the Problem

I thought there must be a more efficient, less costly and less stressful way to get to Taguig. Can research help resolve the question I have in mind? So I framed my problem statement thus:

Is there a faster, more efficient, and less expensive route to reach the City of Taguig from Quezon City?

Given this question, the next step is to review available information.

As there is nobody to ask around, the internet is the most convenient source of information. I browsed the web and learned that aside from taxis and buses, Taguig can be accessed by train. Train? I never thought of that option and I haven’t heard any of my colleagues take that route.

Although unsure if the route still exists because the information was written a few years back, I assumed that it still holds true. I am familiar with the Magallanes station of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT). And the information says that just a few hundred meters southward, the Philippine National Railways (PNR) station can be found.

I followed the route, taking the Ikot jeep in UP Diliman to get to UP Pantranco jeep so I can ride the Metro Rail Transit at the junction of EDSA and Quezon Avenue. The train arrived at the Magallanes station at around  7:50am.

I fumbled my way to the supposed EDSA station of the old railway system of PNR asking a guard for directions somewhere below the Magallanes interchange. He pointed the way to the station. Walking about 50 meters more, I “discovered” the hidden access.

The Old Train Arrived

My arrival would have been timely because a diesel-powered train arrived shortly. But being a newbie passenger, I missed it as I need to go against a throng of passengers who alighted from the train. I have to wait for the next train that is expected to come within an hour. I glanced at my watch and saw the time is 8:34am. I am still okay, I thought, as the meeting will commence at 10am.

save time by train
The Philippine National Railways train arrives at EDSA station.

Patience is a virtue, so they say, so I spent the time documenting the station and the surrounding areas. It’s a hot day so I walked from the  sunlight exposed sitting area and stood in the cooler western portion of the waiting shed.

At around 9:18am, the distinctive train toot and bright headlight came into view. I prepared to board the train with several other passengers. The train is moderately full at this busy hour. It seems many people are unfamiliar with this alternative route that goes from Tutuban to Calamba.

It took the train only 14 minutes to reach Bicutan, after two brief stops in Nichols and FTI. I arrived at my destination. The DOST compound is only at the other side of the road. In less than five minutes, I was 15 minutes ahead of the meeting schedule.

Cost of the Trip from Quezon City to Taguig

The whole trip from Quezon City to Taguig cost me only PhP50. Below is a breakdown of my expenses:

  • Ikot jeep: PhP6
  • PANTRANCO jeep: PhP10
  • MRT: PhP24
  • PNR: PhP10

I didn’t mind the congested ride in the jeep and at the MRT because it’s the busiest time of the day as employees rush to work. It’s great to find a more efficient, inexpensive and stress free route to my destination. The cost is 10 times less than taking the taxi. And I can improve on my commute time with the knowledge I gained on the train schedule.

Walking up the stairs at the Quezon Avenue station of MRT and queuing along with the long line of train passengers is the only patience challenging part of the trip.

The Default Theory

I have been thinking about this concept for quite a time. And I am convinced that advancing this idea as a theory can help explain the phenomenon that commonly beset human affairs, i.e., nothing happens, or nothing changes without deliberate and sustained effort to institute changes. I call this the Default Theory.

The Default Theory I have in mind applies to many cases of human endeavor. Although there is a theory by Timothy Levine called Truth-Default Theory or TDT, the theory I am advancing is entirely different from his description.

For example, I disseminated information among colleagues that there is an opportunity for innovation and development proposals to be potentially funded heavily by the Commission on Higher Education. The initiative is part of the government’s effort to minimize the adverse effects of the K-12 Transition Program.

A week was given to comply with the simple requirement of submitting a one or two-page concept paper to the funding agency. The concept paper preludes the preparation of a full-blown research proposal once the proposed concept is accepted.

I discussed the rationale, explained the mechanics and gave all the forms to be accomplished to the unit heads. I thought they would appreciate the effort and be motivated likewise to disseminate the information to the 400-500 faculty members of the university. I also explored possible topics as starting points that the group can follow through.

Even while disseminating the information and being hopeful that they will respond to the call, at the back of my mind, I somehow anticipate that nobody will submit or make the extra effort to present their proposals. By default, nothing gets done for some reason. Almost always, nothing gets done despite efforts to make a change.

And nobody did submit except me as I took extra effort to make a submission on or before the deadline. I am aware of the Default Theory. Things happen as they should if no additional effort is done to counter its effect. I have done this action several times, and I made changes and took a career turn. I counteract the default with deliberate, sustained effort to do something.

urban sprawl
Eutrophication of coastal areas occurs by default.

When applied to dealing with environmental issues or concerns which are my cup of tea, the Default Theory works likewise.

For example, for many years and after so many ideas, suggestions, propositions, projects, programs among others that arise to counter the effects of environmental degradation, the default prevails. That is, nothing gets accomplished that significantly and with lasting impact.

If you attend conferences or read scientific papers, the issue of environmental problems such as pollution, illegal trade, over-extraction, and similar problems faced decades back remain. The default is that nothing gets done, at least on a sustainable manner, even with much effort and expense. There may be successes, but history reveals that everything goes back to board one through time. Gains are not sustainable.

So where does this bring us?

It all starts with the recognition that this phenomenon exists. And deliberate, sustained effort to counter the “business as usual” must be made.