The Rivers


First and foremost, a river, as defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “a natural stream of water of usually considerable volume”. And often the case seen throughout history, they had major roles in the birth of civilisations; from the great and famous Egyptian civilisation, starting when it was unified around 3100 B.C. to its conquest by Alexander the Great in 332 B.C., that developed with the help of the Nile to the Chinese civilisation that sprung forth from the “the Mother River”/”the Cradle of the Chinese civilization” the Yellow River. Simply, rivers aided in agricultural pursuits and since many people back in those days were agriculturally inclined folks, it just fit perfectly.


The significance of the river

Some very interesting legends have arisen regarding rivers. One of the more popular myths in Ancient Egypt, and one that also has varying accounts as old myths often do, was that of Osiris being ripped into pieces by his jealous and volatile younger brother Set, right after tricking him into laying in a coffin. There was a whole movie about this specific legend regarding Horus avenging his father Osiris back in 2016. The movie was “Gods of Egypt”, if I recall correctly.

Anyway, in the legend, Isis, Osiris’ wife (definitely NOT the infamous terrorist group in the Middle East), picked up all 36 pieces of him and put him back together, but because she couldn’t find the rest of him, including his penis, he was less than alive. So this made him the Lord of the Afterlife instead of being what he was before – the king of all the living, having been the successor of his father Ra. But the point is, because of what had happened, with his penis having been dropped into the river and eaten by a crocodile, the river became a symbol of fertility, which is very true to its nature as the origin point of most civilisations, giving life to the people on land.

As it has been said, the Nile was equated with life: when the Nile flooded, it brought prosperity and fertility to the life surrounding it, but if it didn’t rise enough, famine would take over. If it rose too much, floods abound and people would lose their homes (which were often made from clay).

While nurturing to the people living near it as a mother would be to her children, the river’s duality also exhibits an entity capable of great destruction.

In Chinese folklore, He Bo was the “Earl of the Yellow River” an ancient deity who was once a mortal human, but was pitied by the Celestial Emperor when he drowned in the river, so he turned him into a water god in the shape of a white dragon. In some other accounts, he was a fish with a human face.

Myths and folklores, y’know. They’re never really clear…

At one point in time, he was very violent with his management of the Yellow River, many devastating floods, and so he lost his left eye due to the brilliant aim of this famous archer named Hou Yi. Point is, offerings were regularly brought to the Lord of the Yellow River and his wife so as to appease the floods. Or for the souls of the people that had drowned in the floods as well.

In these two examples, it can be perfectly seen how people of old saw rivers as both bearers of great bounty or the wrathful vengeance from the gods on wrong deeds done.


Cause of river pollution

But let’s get back to reality.

During the Industrial Revolution that began in Britain in the late 1700 by producing manufacture products in homes using hand tools or basic machines. As these industries are usually built near rivers or lakes, the waste products from the industries are released into them. And as more people migrated to large industrial cities, the more densely populated cities became. Now, during this time, methods for human and animal waste disposal were quite primitive. Some did have drainage systems, but they just weren’t sanitary enough.

A third of households contained no latrines in Manchester at the time and the infrastructures that do would be collect in cesspits under the buildings and, more often than not, drained into rivers. These very rivers were also the source of drinking water, which led to people becoming ill. London is a great example of this. Sewage draining was often leaked into the River Thames, even though it was a major drinking source for the people of London. This led to a Cholera Epidemic and the Great Stink in July and August 1858 during which the hot weather worsened the smell of untreated human and industrial waste that was on the banks of the River Thames.

In the case of the Thames, it was considered biologically dead for many years because of these events.

The exact number of how many rivers there are in the world is hard to pinpoint, but it’s safest to say that there are thousands of rivers, both major and minor, with the longest river being that of the Amazon River, running a course of approximately 6,992 km.

But all these rivers are facing a crisis – a man-made crisis. River pollution is becoming a common factor among many of them. Some are fortunate, however, for being treated with utmost care.


Causes of River Pollution

What, then, are the causes of river pollution, you ask? Rapid growth in industrialization, with their liquid waste being dumped into rivers. Air is also polluted due to industrialization, which leads to acid rain. Some agricultural practices wherein chemical fertilisers and pesticides are used also contribute to river pollution through runoffs, as rainwater drains these chemicals into rivers. Domestic wastage, wherein rivers suffer the brunt of household garbage, and as populations grow with no education on river cleanliness, they will continue to dump into rivers.

Heavy metals like cadmium, lead, nickel, and zinc can wash off into streams that lead to rivers from ore-smelting industries where they’re being mined and processed.

All these have just turned rivers into sewage carrying drains that is bringing carnage to our wildlife, which is pretty shameful to have done to an element of nature known for its grace, tranquillity, and life-sustaining properties.


What are the most polluted rivers?

According to, the following are three of the top 10 most polluted rivers in the world:

  1. Marilao River, Philippines
    1. Hazardous non-recyclable objects like plastic bottles and rubber slippers are normally found floating on it.
    2. All sorts of toxic industrial waste products are dumped into the river each day.
    3. Household garbage is also discarded in astonishing quantities.
  2. Yellow River, China
    1. 2nd longest river in Asia and 6th longest in the world
    2. Once considered the cradle of Chinese civilization and main source of drinking water, but now 1/3 of it is unusable.
    3. About 4.29 billion tons of industrial waste and sewage was discharged into it in 1996.
    4. The river water also turned red of late in Lanzhou City due to some unidentified contaminant from a local industry
  3. Ganges River, India
    1. Considered the holiest river in Hinduism.
    2. Ranked one of the five most polluted rivers in 2007.
    3. The pollutants range from toxic industrial waste to sewage to plastics and innumerable religious offerings made to the river each day.
    4. People bathe in the ‘holy’ waters, wash their clothes, cook on its banks, and dispatch dead bodies.
    5. According to a recent study by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the Ganges is so full of toxic pollutants that people staying close to its banks are more susceptible to cancer than anywhere else in India.


Any noteworthy successful cleaning operations?

In 1957, the Natural History Museum declared the Thames biologically dead. But in recent years, it has made a turn from the worst, with some living organisms now found within, living their lives. In 1960s onward, when London’s sewage system was slowly being improved was there any noticeable change for the river. There are now 125 species of fish in the Thames, which is more than almost none in the 1950s.

Between the 1970s and 1980s, environmental awareness increased and more people became concerned over runoffs that contained pesticides and fertilizers. Regulations tightened and this is known to be one of the factors that has aided in improving the Thames’ conditions.

Chris Coode, the deputy chief executive of Thames21, a charity dedicated to improving London’s waterways, has even said he is most excited about the return of the sea lampreys.

“They’re ancient, jawless, eel-like creatures that latch onto the sides of larger fish and suck their juices out. They are very sensitive to pollution.”


New technology that’s helped improve river pollution conditions?

New tech has been developed in recent years to clean water in general and these technologies are quite applicable in river terms.

As CNN Tech reported, moss can be used as a water treatment method. David Knighton was on a return flight from Europe a few years back and was reading an article on how injured WWI soldiers who had their wounds staunched with sphagnum moss had higher survival rates than those that used cotton. Being a retired surgeon (from the Minneapolis-area), he applied his medical knowledge and researched in old medical journals to confirm his theory that moss had antibacterial properties. Now, he’s the CEO of Creative Water Solutions, and they use a variety of moss to purify water. They package moss for residential swimming pools and spas, and they also crated a ton of moss for larger industrial applications. With cleaner water at these levels, the water that may end up getting dumped will also be cleaner.

“As with any disruptive technology, sales take a while because people just don’t believe you,” he said, as their sales growing by 30-40% every year, with their tech employed by more industrial facilities and residential pools.

There’s also another tech called the PhyloChip that helps pinpoint sources of water contamination. It is a device that’s the size of a credit card, and is capable of detecting the presence of more than 60,000 species of bacteria and archaea. Plus this method has been found to be more sensitive than conventional methods at assessing health risks.  It has successfully detected contamination in the Russian River watershed, which came from human sources close to areas where communities rely on aging septic tanks.

This method doesn’t distinguish between sources­ though. The bacteria could have come from humans, cows, ducks, sewage, or even decaying vegetation. However, it has had quite a success story in terms of where it’s been applied.

The PhyloChip, which was developed by Andersen and several other Berkeley Lab scientists, has been used for “a number of medical, agricultural, and environmental purposes, including understanding air pollution, the ecology of coral reefs, and environmental conditions of the Gulf of Mexico after the BP oil spill. With 1 million probes, it has identified microbes based on variations of a specific gene, with no culturing needed.”

They are now working closely with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for “next generation compliance.” Its goal is to develop a method that’s downsized from what the PhyloChip is capable of for universal application in any location and by non-experts.


How can the clean state of rivers be maintained?

As prepared by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, these are some simple and common-sensical things they’ve said that would maintain river health:

  • Use mulch and vegetation to keep soil from washing away.
  • Sweep or rake grass and leaves away from street curbs.
  • Mulch and compost grass clippings and leaves.
  • Keep paved surfaces to a minimum.
  • Capture water runoff with a rain garden and rain barrels.
  • Wash your car on the grass, where the water will get filtered.
  • Keep chemicals away from storm drains.
  • Collect your pet’s waste.
  • Aim your rain-gutter downspouts onto grass.



9 tips for keeping our lakes and rivers clean. (2017, May 18). Retrieved from Minnesota Pollution Control Agency:

Chao, J. (2016, October 4). New Technology Helps Pinpoint Sources of Water Contamination. Retrieved from Berkeley Lab:

Dictionary, M.-W. (2018). River. Retrieved from Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

Fassbender, M. (2008). The Importance of River Valleys to Ancient Civilizations. Retrieved from Michael Fassbender: Depth and Integration:

Foundation, J. (1998). River Pollution: Causes, Actions and Revivals. New Delhi.

Hardach, S. (2015, November 12). How the River Thames was brought back from the dead. Retrieved from

Hargreaves, S. (2015, June 3). 3 cool technologies that could save the world’s water. Retrieved from CNN:

Mark, J. J. (2009, September 2). Nile. Retrieved from Ancient History Encyclopedia:

Ragab. (2016, July 15). The Ancient Mythology of the Nile. Retrieved from Luxor Travels:

Tha, N. Y. (2013, May 26). The Impact Of Industrialization On Water Pollution Environmental Sciences Essay. Retrieved from

Theobald, U. (2012, January 23). He Bo 河伯, the Earl of the Yellow River. Retrieved from China An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art:

Wise, W. (2018). Substances Causing Pollution in Rivers . Retrieved from Water Wise:

World’s Top 10 Most Polluted Rivers: The Names Will Scare You. (2018). Retrieved from HelpSaveNature:




Hashtag Level Up For Vispop 5.0

This is the fifth year Vispop has been active in helping to change, form, and challenge what Visayan pop is currently like. With no age limit, many contenders from all over, even from abroad, joined the music competition, with an overwhelming 350 entrants for the organisers to screen through. This took them approximately 10 hours to do, and, at last, Vispop 5.0’s 6 finalists have been announced.


Just as the music has “levelled up”, so did the art in the lyrical videos of each of the songs.

Music and lyrics: Dexter Latosa and Bingbing Veloso
Performed: Bingbing Veloso of Karumata Repablik

Definitely written to be jazzy and smooth, it has this sort of lounge room feel that relaxes, while Bingbing Veloso of Karumata Repablik croons of her intoxication to her and Dexter Latosa’s lyrical prowess. Quite a sexy tune, if anything can be said about it from first impressions.

“Kung Di Man Gani Kita”
Music and lyrics: Jerika Teodorico
Performed by: Davelyn Cuenco

Written by Jerika Teodorico, Davelyn Cuenco provides the vocal interpretation of “Kung Di Man Gani Kita”. With her full and raspy voice, signature of most strong belters, she adds great emotion to this very true and relatable sad song.

“Kung Di Pa Lang Ko Buang”
Music and lyrics: Chai Fonacier
Performed by: Chai Fonacier

With a relatively electropop sound to it, Chai Fonacier, who has established a firm standing in Cebu’s local film and music industries, thoughtfully sings about reflections on one’s own nature (her own?) in a fun and easygoing manner.

“Siya Ra Taw’n Ang Nahigugma”
Music and lyrics: Winset Jacot and Jane Abaday
Performed: Winset Jacot and Jane Abaday

A duet of a unique kind, Winset Jacot and Jane Abaday sing two very different distinct voices in the realm of love; the love that has dried up and the love that is unrequited. With angst on both ends, “Siya Ra Taw’n Ang Nahigugma” is one for both feeling hugot and, well, not.

“Kurog Ko”
Music and lyrics: Jeremy Sarmiento
Performed: Jetz Tacsanan of Zhalia

Another hugot song for those who aren’t being taken seriously by those who they pine after, “Kurog Ko” features Jetz Tacsanan of Zhalia very cool chilling voice, characteristic of easy listening songs. Definitely a yearn-and-relatable song, nganong mokurog man jud ka?

“Unsa Ning Tamaa”
Music and lyrics: Ram Jay (RJ) Ensalada
Performed: Refrain

Refrain brings a pop boy-band feel to RJ Ensalada’s “Unsa Ning Tamaa”, with their expert vocal blending. With well-timed inflections, the song really makes you feel like suavely dancing along to it. Boy-band style of course.

“It’s a milestone for us.” – Ian Zafra

The show itself will be happening at SM Seaside’s SMX Sky Hall A, on the 29th of July this year. Vispop 5.0 will be right in line with Linggo Ng Musika Pilipino, which was declared for every last week of July each year by former Philippine President President Noynoy Aquino in his Proclamation No. 933.

WHAT: Vispop 5.0
WHEN: July 29, 2017
WHERE: SM Seaside – SMX Sky Hall A
WHY: Linggo Ng Musika Pilipino

As Ian Zafra says, with this positioning for 2017’s Vispop, they want it to be special for its 5 years; “It’s a milestone for us.”

Starting with just around 100 entries and with entrants solely from Cebu at the start, Vispop has indeed grown since then. And after 5-6 years, many more have joined, and entrants aren’t concentrated in just Cebu anymore. In fact, three of the six finalists are from Mindanao.

“Apan bisan ang kalibutan may tumoy ra gihapon” – Jerika Teodorico (“Kung Di Man Gani Kita”)

Jerika Teodorico, a veteran Vispop songwriter who bagged first place in Vispop’s second season with her song “Labyu, Langga” and a player of 4 instruments (guitar, piano, some beatbox, and ukulele), is proudly Bisdak. And this time around, her entry “Kung Di Man Gani Kita” reached the final round yet again, with Davelyn Cuenco performing the vocals.

This song’s conception has an interesting back story to it that most wouldn’t really think of straight away as the emotional fuel for her writing. As Jerika Teodorico revealed, she wrote the title some 5-6 years ago while still in her fourth year at high school, but left it unfinished until she decided to revisit it in 2016 for Vispop. Unlike her former entries that were acoustic in nature, she went experimental with piano accompaniment, but didn’t really get far until December came and her beloved pet dog died.

“Mao na siya. Didto nako gihugotan ang feeling sa song ba.” It may be a love song, but her only thought while writing it was of her dog, and not knowing what could happen and needing to always be prepared to be left behind. “Kay bisag sa kadugay sa inyong pagkaubanay, naa gyuy end tanan.”

“Kung naa man gani illegitimate nga anak and kanang Cebu Pop ug kanang BisRock, mao nang Vispop” – Jude Gitamondoc

At the start, there weren’t very many avenues for local song writers to be heard, but with Vispop, they envisioned providing just that for young song writers to express their creativity.

When Jude Gitamondoc proposed the project to Artisko, he had a mixture of Cebuano Pop and BisRock in mind, wherein Vispop would, in his words, “combine competition and the rebellious aspect of it wanting to push boundaries”, with the end goal of challenging listeners to the ever dynamic music scene.

“Promote the language through music.” – Insoy Niñal

Badoy, tiniguwang, kinaraan. As Insoy Niñal says, that’s how most people saw Bisaya years before Vispop began, which is the opposite of how the language is perceived now: “A lot of people now are into Bisaya, which was not the case 5 years, 6 years, 10 years ago.” But now, with Vispop, they hope that they are bringing the Bisayan language slowly closer and closer to the younger generation.

The music scene in Cebu has always been colourful though, with all sorts of genres mixed together to define what it was like; Reggae, BisRock, Indie, Max Surban, etc. Vispop just serves as the channel to organise all of those. As Jude Gitamondoc says, “A lot of the past contributed to what Vispop is now.”

“It’s the entries that dictate where we go.” – Insoy Niñal

Asked about their plans for the future, they don’t exactly have any direction in mind, because it really all depends on the musical entries that come their way. For Insoy Niñal, he wants to make it bigger every. “For next year, as far as production is concerned, it has to be bigger.” More people should know about it and be able to join.

As to why they can only allow 6 songs into the finals, it really is all down to their budget. What they have now is enough to produce just 6 songs with quality, but there’s still a chance this number will increase in the future if the budget does grow. After all, whatever the budget can take, that’s what they’ll make.

For now, they encourage people to support Vispop, because who else could the Bisayan music genre depend on to grow?

“Pakita sa amo nga dili unrequited ang among gugma para sa musikang Binisaya. Show us that you love Bisaya music by supporting the artists.” – Jude Gitamondoc

Books and Brews Cafe


Name: Books and Brews Cafe
Address: Mango Square Mall, Juana Osmeña St., Camputhaw, Cebu City, 6000 Cebu
Type: Cofffe Shop
Opened: May 8, 2017
Price range: PHP48+
Amenities: Sofas, books, WiFi

A pretty quaint and quiet place, with bookshelves that encourage customers to read, Books and Brews Cafe is a really nice blend of a place between brews of all sorts, some choice baked goods (classic brownies and chocolate cookies, both of which are deliciously satisfying to one’s sweet tooth), and books.


Very aesthetically pleasing, with an introvert-friendly ambiance, it’s definitely a place I predict will prove to be popular amongst the local Cebuanos and tourists who drop by Cebu.

With a pretty good WiFi speed, it’s quite a work-friendly place. The tables also allow space for 4 people and is large enough to hold at least 3 laptops, if group work is in mind. There are also a number of wall sockets for charging if ever you do need to do so.

Books and Brews Cafe WiFi Speed.png

Located in Mango Square Mall, it’s easily accessible from most parts of Cebu City.

Books and Brews Cafe Google Maps.png

A great place to check out? Definitely!


Master Po Launches 9 New Dishes

Within the cosy wooden accented interior of Master Po, spices are spread out on two wooden tables on the second floor of the establishment. Cucumber juice is then served up by three special young men with bashful smiles and quiet thank-yous.

Open since the 23rd of November 2016, Master Po launched 9 new dishes yesterday; Master Po Lotus Rice, Fish Cake Noodle Soup, Master Po Beef Steak, Seafood Lettuce Wrap, Stuffed Eggplant, Baked Seafood, Asado Mein, Soy Chicken Mein, Cabbage Roll.

“Master Po: Little Place. Big Taste”

As delectable as the dishes newly launched looked, they truly delivered with taste. Developed with The Ching Palace’s chef, Marlon A. Pueblos, these dishes bring new flavours for diners’ palates, such as the Stuffed Eggplant, which will be Master Po’s second all vegetarian dish. Although not very familiar to most people’s taste buds, the Lotus Rice was definitely savoury and rich in flavour, as well as the other new dishes.

Little Place with Heart

This is to mark the occasion of officially partnering with The Kids Gym Therapy Center, a place located near Sacred Heart School – Hijas de Jesus where children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are given a safe place to develop and grow.

Behind this partnership is personal motivation from the part of Jan Joan Yu-So, Master Po’s owner, as well as the person behind the growth of Cebu’s The Ching Palace. With her eldest son having ASD, she has seen the difficulties first-hand those who have this disorder undergo. “Naa juy other moms nga moingon sa ilang yaya nga ‘hoy akong anak ba ayaw ipaduol sa iyang kay naay something. So it’s really painful. Why are these kids not being accepted?”

This drove her to offer the children in The Kids Gym Therapy Center – among their number also includes her son – a safe place for them to train basic skills through simple tasks like helping in wiping plates and mopping the floor. And so far, none of the customers who’ve entered the doors of Master Po have complained about the addition of these young helpful aides.

The Future and Now

Asked whether they plan to open new branches anytime soon, Ms. Joan says that is part of the vision she has for Master Po, but as of now, they will continue as a “Little Place of Master Po”. A place to check out? Definitely!

Located on the ground floor of remote Plaza Nouvelle, Master Po aims to provide foodies a quiet place to enjoy affordable Chinese food, and is open from 10:30AM to 10:00PM every day, from Sunday through Saturday.

HeForShe Emma Watson Speech To The UN

Her words ring so true in my ears that I was just tearing up watching this.

If we were to remain silent, nothing will ever be done about this. Our voices, backed with good intentions and logical thought process, truly are our one power.

It also reminded me of this TED talk by Clint Smith, titled “The Danger of Silence”, which discusses silence and its negative impact, keeping the many truths under wraps until they burst out into the open when it could have been prevented before.


On a completely unrelated note, I am getting the vibes that Emma Watson just might be an INFJ like myself, merely because of her beliefs, her actions, how she conducts herself, what she says, and the way she shows how she thinks and feels.