Marapara Rotaract Voted The Most Outstanding Club

The Rotaract Club of Marapara has been voted the most outstanding out of 26 clubs in Rotary District 3850 which stretches from Boracay to Zamboanga.

Rotaract is a service club for young men and women ages 18 to 30. The Marapara group is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Bacolod Marapara.

Marapara Rotaract was chartered in June 22, 2009. It has 17 members ranging in age from 17 to 21. In the past year, the group has undertaken various community projects including feeding children in economically-challenged communities, teaching basic education to street children, building houses and medical missions in collaboration with different advocacy groups.

Said club president Cherry Mijares, “When doing activities, we make sure that despite our numbers we will push through and we will surely enjoy while helping. This is our passion and it’s priceless.”

Rico Cajili, Marapara Rotary Club president, said he was very impressed and proud of the accomplishments of the Rotaract Group.

“With such enthusiastic young people, the future of the Rotary movement in indeed secure,” he added.

The Rotary Club of Bacolod Marapara has also been commended by the district for its community programs.


Negros Interior Biodiversity Expedition Ends

The 2012 Negros Interior Biodiversity Expedition (NIBE) to the interior of the North Negros Natural Park (NNNP) ended on Tuesday.

The expedition team, comprising scientists, biologists, mountaineers, teachers and logistics experts from the UK and the Philippines, set off on March 24 to the park’s interior on a mission to undertake a comprehensive survey of the rare and unique mammals inhabiting the area.

NIBE leader James Sawyer (left) with two members of the team James Benares,  mountain leader and Dr. Neil D'Cruze, research leader.

NIBE leader James Sawyer (left) with two members of the team James Benares,
mountain leader and Dr. Neil D'Cruze, research leader.

Using 20 remote cameras team members were able to capture some 4,000 hours of footage, much of which showed evidence that the park is still home to a multitude of rare and endemic species.

The team also undertook an extensive study of study of various insects and rare reptiles and amphibians.

Expedition leader James Sawyer said the trip had been physically challenging, but it had been “a beautiful experience”. He added that the wealth of data collected on the expedition now had to be analyzed and assessed by local and international experts before any solid results could be released. He expects initial results to be available in the next few weeks.

The expedition was supported DENR, PEMO and the Negros Forests and Ecological Foundation (NFEFI)

The UK members of the expedition will return to England Later this week.

Bat Bombs Away!

Towards the end of World War 11 American scientists believed they could destroy entire Japanese cities with bat bombs. As bizarre as

Cardboard cartons would release the bats at 500 meters

Cardboard cartons would release the bats at 500 meters

it sounds, the idea – Project X-Ray – was sanctioned by President Roosevelt in 1943. And the bombs nearly went into full production.

The theory was simple. You take a Mexican free-tail bat and strap a small napalm-filled vest to its chest, along with a tiny detonator and timer. Then you fill a canister with these bats and release it while flying over a Japanese city.

The bats would be chilled so they’d be in a state of hibernation, but as the canister fell, slowed by a parachute, they would warm up and awaken.

The canister was designed to disintegrate at 500 meters, allowing over a thousand bats, each carrying a tiny time-delay napalm incendiary device, to flutter away.

Because bats hate daylight, they would all disappear into cracks and crevices of the buildings below, then explode after half an hour. At that time most Japanese buildings were wooden so they’d catch fire. Many of them would grow into large fires, and the ability of the Japanese firefighters to contain them would quickly be overwhelmed.

The plan was for ten B-24 bombers flying from Alaska each carrying a hundred shells packed with bats to release 1,040,000 bat bombs over the industrial cities of Osaka Bay.”

A bat bomber in action

A bat bomber in action

As simple and ingenuous as the bat bomb idea sounds, all did not go well.

A bat bomber at work

A bat bomber at work

In the first test, most of the bats, not fully recovered from hibernation, dropped to the ground and died on impact.

In another test, the wind change direction and blew the bats into the Carlsbad Auxiliary Army Air Base in New Mexico and burned the place to the ground.

In another incident some of the bats hid under the car of a high-ranking US officer causing it to explode.

There were many other complications. Many bats didn’t wake up in time for the drops. The cardboard cartons did not function properly and the surgical clips proved difficult to attach to the bats without tearing the delicate skin.

But the test went on until late 1944 when pilots realized that, if one of the bats ever escaped during flight, their plane would catch fire. After that, they refused to fly in any more tests and Project X-Ray was cancelled.


Willie Francis Must Die Again

I was having a heated discussion with a friend the other day as to whether being electrocuted always meant death. My friend said yes, but I said I wasn’t sure.

Willie Francis

Willie Francis

To settle the matter I asked Debby Denno, the Arthur A. McGivney Professor of Law at Fordham University School of Law in New York. Prof. Denno is an international authority in many areas of criminal law, including the death penalty.

She said one can indeed be electrocuted without actually dying. She went on to tell me there was a 1946 case in which an inmate survived a formal electrocution presumably because he did not receive sufficient circuitry.  His name was Willie Francis and he was successfully executed by electrocution a year later.

Willie Francis was the first recipient of a failed execution by electrocution in the US. He was an African American youth with no prior record sentenced to death in Louisiana in 1945 at the age of 16 for murdering his former boss Andrew Thomas, who owned a drug store.

His trial had been brief and a guilty verdict was never in doubt.  His appointed lawyers called no witnesses, presented no evidence and had not filed a single appeal once he was sentenced to die by electrocution.

On May 3, 1946, the he portable electric chair known as “Gruesome Gertie” failed to kill Francis. Witnesses reported hearing the teenager scream from behind the leather hood, “Take it off! Take it off! Let me breathe!” as the supposedly lethal surge of electricity was being applied.

It turned out the chair had been improperly set up by a drunk prison guard and inmate from the local prison.

Police officials made derogatory statements to Francis and promptly threw him back in a cell.

The sheriff called for the chair to be fixed and a new execution six days later. In the meantime, a lawyer named Bertrand DeBlanc obtained a stay of execution for Francis, saying it was double jeopardy and cruel and unusual punishment.

The case went to the Supreme Court. Unfortunately the majority voted for the execution and on May 9, 1947, Francis was sent to Gruesome Gertie once again. This time, it worked.

Years after Francis was executed, speculation arose about the sexuality of the murder victim. Francis had told police, “It was about me and him,” giving reason to believe that he was sexually abused by Thomas.

Francis was the subject of a 2006 documentary film titled ‘Willie Francis Must Die Again’, written and directed by film maker Allan Durand and narrated by actor Danny Glover.

Gomez Takes Rotary Title

Local sugar planter Bojie Gomez was the overall champion at last weekend’s Rotary ‘Golf for a Cause’ tournament held at the Negros Occidental Golf and Country Club in Bata Subdivision.

Group A champion, Max Javelona with past Marapara Rotary president Jojo Montinola and incumbent president Rico Cajili (l-r)

Group A champion, Max Javelona with past Marapara Rotary president Jojo Montinola and incumbent president Rico Cajili (l-r)

With a handicap of 12, he had a nett score of 45 points under the Stableford system.

Other winners were Group A, Max Javelona (hcp 6) 41 points. Group B, Paul Chang (hcp 18) 42 points. Group C, James Salva from the Rotary Club of San Pedro, Laguna (hcp 30) 44 points. The ladies’ champion was Cynthia Capay (hcp 23) with 36 points.

“This was the 14th Rotary ‘Go for a Cause’ tournament,” said Rico Cajili, president of the Rotary Club of Bacolod Marapara, organizers of the event.

Ladies' champion Cynthia Capay with Marapara Rotary president Rico Cajili

Ladies' champion Cynthia Capay with Marapara Rotary president Rico Cajili

“We would like to thank all the players, sponsors and volunteers for helping to

Cynthia Capay, 2012 Rotary 'Golf for a Cause' ladies' champion

Cynthia Capay, 2012 Rotary 'Golf for a Cause' ladies' champion

make the event such a success with a special mention of main sponsors, Coca-Cola, UCPB Insurance, Bantug Realty, Silay City Mayor’s Office and Tanduay Distillers.

“Not only is this tournament great fun, it raises much-needed funds which enables our club to continue its program of community projects aimed at helping the less fortunate in our society.”

April Fool!

April 1 – All Fools’ Day – is enjoyed around the world with pranks and hoaxes. It’s origins are lost in history, but it’s still very popular, especially with the media.

Swiss farmers enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop

Swiss farmers enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop

One has to be careful on that day because whatever you read in the newspaper, see on TV or hear on the radio might just be an April Fool’s joke.

One of the most famous April 1 hoaxes in the UK occurred in 1957, when the highly acclaimed BBC TV program Panorama announced that, thanks to a very mild winter and the virtual elimination of the dreaded spaghetti weevil, Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop. It accompanied this announcement with footage of Swiss peasants pulling strands of spaghetti down from trees.

Man flies by own lung power

Man flies by own lung power

I recall watching the program as a ten year old. Huge numbers of viewers – me included – believed the story.

April Fools’ jokes in the media have been around for many years. On April 1 1934, many American newspapers printed a photograph of a man flying through the air by means of a device powered only by the breath from his lungs.

Tesco's whistling carrots

Tesco's whistling carrots

Accompanying articles excitedly described this miraculous new invention. The man, identified as German pilot Erich Kocher, blew into a box on his chest. This activated rotors that created a powerful suction effect, lifting him aloft. Skis on his feet served as landing gear, and a tail fin allowed him to steer.

What the American papers didn’t realize was that the ‘lung-power motor’ was an April Fools’ joke.

On April 1, 1965 Politiken, a Copenhagen newspaper, reported that the Danish parliament had passed a new law requiring all dogs to be painted white. The purpose of this, it explained, was to increase road safety by allowing dogs to be seen more easily at night.

On the same day in Britain, BBC TV featured an interview with a professor who had just invented a device called “smellovision.” This miraculous technology allowed viewers to experience directly in their own home aromas produced in the television studio.

The professor offered a demonstration by cutting some onions and brewing coffee. A number of viewers called in to confirm that they distinctly experienced these scents as if they were there in the studio with him. Since no aromas were being transmitted, whatever these viewers thought they smelled coming out of their TV sets must be chalked up to the power of suggestion.

And on April 1, 2002 British supermarket chain Tesco published an advertisement announcing the successful development of a genetically modified ‘whistling carrot.’ The ad explained that the carrots had been specially engineered to grow with tapered air holes in their side. When fully cooked, these air holes caused the vegetable to whistle.

April 1, 2013 is a year away. Plenty of time for us all to prepare a few April Fool pranks.