Auld Lang Syne

As we prepare to send off 2007 and welcome in the new year a familiar song will be heard once again around the world after the month or two of incessant Christmasy songs and jingles.

Auld Lang Syne is surely one of the most well known songs in the world, not only in English-speaking countries but in many non-English-speaking countries like Japan, Thailand and Taiwan as well. Almost everybody knows the tune and has sung it (or part of it) at one time or another, but how many know the words beyond the first stanza and the chorus? Like many other frequently sung songs, the melody is better remembered than the words, which are often sung incorrectly, and seldom in full.

Well here are the complete lyrics:

Auld Lang Syne

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days o’ lang syne?


For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne!

We twa hae rin about the braes,
And pu’d the gowans fine,
But we’ve wander’d monie a weary fit
Sin’ auld lang syne.

We twa hae paidl’t i’ the burn
Frae mornin’ sun till dine,
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
Sin’ auld lang syne.

And here’s a hand, my trusty fiere,
And gie’s a hand o’ thine,
We’ll tak a right guid-willie waught
For auld lang syne!

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp,
And surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne!

What do those strange words mean? Well, it's in Scots and the song's title literally means "Old Long Since", that is "Long Long Ago", "Days Gone By" or if you like, simply "The Good Old Days"!

The song, or at least part of it was written and published by Robert Burns the Scottish poet in the late 1700's though an older version had existed long before him. Singing the song on Hogmanay or New Year's Day very quickly became a Scots custom, which soon spread to other parts of the British Isles. As Scots and other Britons emigrated around the world, they took the song with them.

One translation in plain English goes like this:

Times Long Gone

Should old acquaintances be forgotten,
And never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintances be forgotten,
And days of long ago !


For old long ago, my dear
For old long ago,
We will take a cup of kindness yet
For old long ago.

We two have run about the hillsides
And pulled the daisies fine,
But we have wandered many a weary foot
For old long ago.

We two have paddled (waded) in the stream
From morning until dinner time,
But seas between us broad have roared
Since old long ago.

And here’s a hand, my trusty friend,
And give us a hand of yours,
And we will take a goodwill draught (of ale)
For old long ago!

And surely you will pay for your pint,
And surely I will pay for mine!
And we will take a cup of kindness yet
For old long ago!


Hi Esteemed Visitors,

Today I received an email from my friend Mike Lu who's the president of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines

It begins like this:
"Dear Friends
I seldom ask my friends to sign petitions or join signature campaigns
but this is horrible ! Please check out the petition site to see the links
the photos of dead birds. To think that hunting is already illegal
in the
Philippines, yet this is a nationwide network !...."

So my friends who are lovers of nature click on this link and sign the petition! It's unbelievable that there are still so many who thinks nothing of killing hundreds of birds just for fun! If we don't stop these monsters the next generation will not be able to see many of the beautiful birds and other animals that we still have now!

Thanks & Merry Christmas,

Giant Mosquito?

Mee, knowing my interest in insects and other creepy-crawlies, always takes pictures of unusual creatures that she comes across and sends them to me - millipedes, golden bugs, birds that flew into the house and most recently she sent me via Yahoo! IM a photo of what she said was a Gaint Mosquito found sharing her shower! I could imagine the scene in my mind - which inspired this cartoon :)

As for the Big Mozzie, well at a glance it does look like a huge mosquito, but on closer inspection it doesn’t have a piercing, blood-sucking syringe and so it isn’t one. It is in fact a
crane fly in the Tipulidae family, which like mosquitoes, also belongs to the insect order Diptera.

Crane flies are large long-winged, long-legged and slim-bodied flies, their legs are easily detached (the one in the photo has lost 2 legs). There are thousands of species of crane flies known to science, however most adult crane flies are harmless to human but the immatures (larvae) of some species that live in the soil are serious pest of crops, the larvae of most species are aquatic.

The Loathsome Baki

The cane toad (Bufo marinus) is so common and ubiquitous in the Philippines that most people would think that it's a native of this country. In fact it was introduced into the country 73 years ago and had adapted so well that it can now be found in almost every corner of the country.

A number of these toads or frogs were imported from the Hawaii Sugar Planters' Association on Oahu, Hawaii to Manila in March 1934 and released in sugar plantations to control insect pests. Releases were also made in Negros in 1935-36, in Panay and Guimaras in 1936-39 and in 1949 they were taken to Cotabato. Some were taken from Dumaguete and released in Zamboanga City and Davao in the 1950s.

Whether the toads were successful in doing the job they were originally brought in to do or not was not known as there were no study or data available regarding their success or failure in controlling noxious insects.

However these toads themselves are poisonous and they eat almost anything that are small enough to fit in their mouths - insects, other frogs, small mammals and birds even the food people put out for their pets! They have poison glands behind their eyes from which a milky toxic secretion is produced when they are attacked or handled. This substance is dangerous to all species including humans. Contact with it causes burning in the eyes and hands and skin irritation in people, while ingestion could be fatal. Animals like cats and dogs, snakes and monitor lizards that eat or try to eat a cane toad often die of poisoning. Therefore it was thought that these aliens creatures kill many wild as well as domestic animals and may have caused the decline of many native animals both by devouring them and by their poison.

In Australia where cane toads were introduced for the same reasons in 1935, there are much evidence of the havoc they have wrecked on the native animals as well great nuisance to people. Much effort had been and is being spent in an unending battle to stop their spread in the whole
of Australia.
The Bisaya word for the Cane Toad, aka Marine Toad aka Gaint Toad/Frog is Baki. I wonder why the Tagalogs give it such a noble name - Palakang Nazareth??

Asam Pedas

Even for those from other parts of the planet, the red stuff in the photo requires no introduction, but those green fruits are called camias (kamias. kamyas) or iba in the Philippines and are incredibly sour, still some people enjoy them just like that – raw. In Malaysia they are called belimbing asam or sour belimbing to distinguish them from the sweet belimbing manis also known in English as starfruit. Camias does not have an English name but they are commonly referred to as Sour Carambola or even sometimes Sour Cucumber Tree (as the fruits do look like mini cucumbers! But fancy cucumbers growing on trees!). (Photo taken by Mee)

Aside from being eaten raw (!) camias is mainly added to dishes that need some sourness to it like in some fish recipes as well as in salads, pickles and some curries.

A favorite recipe of my mother is to make it into a kind of sambal (side dish) with pounded or ground-up dried shrimps. A quantity of camias is rouhly chopped up. A handful of finely cut garlic and shallot and lots of pounded red hot (pungent) chillis are fried in hot oil together with dried shrimps until fragrant. (At this stage get ready the handkerchief or tissues for the tears and sneezes!!) A small piece of lightly toasted and pounded belachan (Malaysian shrimp paste) may also be added for its flavor. The camias is put in together with the other ingredients last and the mixture sauteed until done. If a large quantity is made some of it may be put in jars and kept in the fridge until required.

Scientific name of camias is Averrhoa bilimbi.
Asampedas means sour and hot (pungent) in Malay.

Talking Cock!

...........................((•))K.......TOK TO GA UK ! !


When I was in primary school our English teacher taught us that the cow said "Moo!", the dog barked, "Bow-wow!", the duck said, "Quack!" and the cock crowed, "Cock-a-doodle-doo!"

Have you ever wondered what the cock says in other countries?

Well, in Malay it simply says "Kokok!", in Chinese Mandarin they hear him say, "Gou gou!", while to the Cantonese it's "gokogoko". The Thais insist that it says "ake-e-ake-ake!" The Indonesian: "Kikeriku!" which incredibly is almost the same as the Germans' "Kikeriki!".The Spaniards, "Kikiriki!" and the French: "Cocorico!" The Tagalogs in the northern Philippines say "Kokaok!"

I think nobody can beat the English, except maybe the Cebuano Bisayas who wake up in the morning to the tune of "Tok-to-ga-uk!"

Bisaya of Borneo

DO you know that there’s a small indigenous group of people called the Bisaya in Borneo? Many people think that they are decended from people from the Visayas who came here in ancient times but little is known of their history. However a comparison with Cebuano Bisaya vocabulary shows that the language bears few similarities, most of which are more related to Kadazan-Dusun and Murut of Sabah than the Bisaya of the Philippines.

These people live in an area shared between the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak and the Sultanate of Brunei, with the majority of them in Sabah. The majority of the Bisaya in Sabah are Muslims engaged in wet rice planting while in Sarawak most of them practise a native religion and have their own ceremonies and festivals. Some of the Bisaya are converted to Christianity.

In Sabah the Bisaya celebrate the annual Harvest Festival together with the Kadazan-Dusuns, Muruts and other ethnic groups. On this ocassion members of all the different groups gather together dressed in their unique costumes at the appointed celebration ground performing cultural dances and songs and sharing with the rest of the population.

Photo shows young Sabah Bisayans in their predominantly black
during the 2005 Harvest Festival in Kota Kinabalu.

Dragonfly Haiku

ONE of my favourite haikus is by the 18th century Japanese poet Issa (一茶) (1763-1828) who writes many poems about the little living things that he sees every day - birds, frogs, snails, spiders and insects. There's hardly a tiny creature that Issa does not write about. Issa may not know how, but he does know that each of these creatures finds some kind of happiness in life:


aka tombô
kare mo yûbe ga
suki ja yara

The red dragonfly -
In some way or another
He likes the evening too.

To know what a haiku is here's a good link
Visit this super site to read more of Issa's haiku or to learn more about the great master

Cut vs. Uncut

Perhaps half the world’s male population are circumcised and the majority of those who undergo circumcision do it for their religious belief while the rest have it done to follow cultural tradition, for personal hygiene, and some out of medical necessity. Yet there are also some, perhaps only a small minority, who do it because they are into body-modification or enhancement (read “disfigurement”), as an extension of body-piercing, and other more extreme forms of self-multilation; also, there are those who solely seek to enhance their sexual performance.

Many studies conducted by social and medical bodies, both in the past and very recently indicated that circumcision helped in preventing or reducing sexually transmitted diseases including HIV-Aids. Health workers in highly affected areas of the world therefore encourage men and boys to undergo circumcision as part of their fight against these infectious diseases. However the pros and cons of this minor surgery are still equally and hotly debated.

Human nature being what it is, we naturally expect some followers of religions and sects that require circumcision to regard themselves as somehow superior to those who are uncut and whom they consider unpurified, calling them non-believers, kafirs, gentiles or other similar names, depending on who the name-callers are. It is however a little surprising that some cultures who practice it for essentially non-religious reasons have special words to describe those with naturally intact foreskins! A good example is the Bisaya word “Pisot” which simply means “uncircumcised” but which is almost always used rather unkindly or mockingly! (The Tagalog equavalent is “supot”).

The following Bisaya joke is a good illustration of such discrimination against foreskin!:

Asawa: Biyaan na' taka wah' kay pulus tapulan!

Bana: Suwaye buhaton na nimo maglas-las ko!

Asawa: Bot-bot! Mag LAS-LAS KA? hadlok gani ka patuli mag las-las pa? PISOT!

Wife: I’m leaving you, u r a lazy good-for-nothing!

Husband: If u do that I’ll cut my wrist!

Wife: What a joke! CUT YOUR WRIST? You are even afraid to to get circumcised, dare you cut your own wrist? You uncircumcised (PISOT)!

Hong Ching Ting
I came across this quaint little Chinese nursery rhyme about dragonflies.
It sounds like this:

Hong ching-ting,
ching ching ting.
Shih shang ching ching ting,
shui shang ching ching ting,
feng li ching ching ting.

which I think looks like this in Chinese characters

轻轻停 (or 青蜻蜓 )

The following is my translation:

Red dragonflies
gently stop (or green dragonflies)
On the rocks gently they stop;
on the water gently they stop;
in the breeze gently they stop.

*anigif of dragonfly - thanks to

Dragonfly Cartoon 1 - Hagar

Cartoon copyright by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

Bottle of Bliss

THIS is a bottle of actively - almost violently - bubbling, wonderfully sweet, thirst-quenching, happily intoxicating and naturally produced, therefore organic, drink called TUBA in the Philippines (sometimes LAMBANOG), aka BAHAR in Sabah and TUAK and TODDY (elsewhere in Malaysia). To Indians it's KALLU (கள்ளு) (കള്ള്) and Chinese drinkers call it YE JIU (椰酒) or YE HUA JIU (椰花酒) . It's made from the sap that oozes out of the flower (inflorescence) of the coconut palm when it is cut (a process known as tapping).

This sweet white sap is collected in a container attached to the flower stump and begins fermenting almost as soon as it is tapped due to natural yeasts in the air (spurred by residual yeast left in the collecting container). Within two hours, fermentation yields an aromatic and sweet beer-strength wine of up to 4% alcohol content. When allowed to ferment longer, up to a day, a stronger and more acidic drink which some people prefer is produced. Longer fermentation, however, produces vinegar which can only be used in cooking instead of stronger wine!

Thank you Mee for buying and sharing this bottle of bliss with me! ;)


WE who live in the tropics are so used to sharing our houses with the house gecko that we hardly notice them. It's usually only when they land their black and white droppings onto our belongings or even on us(!) that we curse them or try to chase them out - or worse when one of them lands on us! (Just imagine the fun if you're only an onlooker!) Otherwise we (lizard and us) co-exist quite peacefully. I think they do notice us though, and even listen to our conversation sometimes, busy-body lot they are! When they agree with what we say they will "chak-chak-chak" away, and as an "Amen" the superstitious among us would quickly knock on wood.

Well, the Malay name for them is cikcak, no doubt from the sound they make. The Bisayan people call them (as far as I know, not being one of them) butiki, also, I think, mimicking their retilian sound which they hear as "tiki, tiki, tiki" (I believe different people hear sounds differently from one another!). The Chinese however have a more noble name for these ninjas that climb walls and walk on ceilings! They call them 壁虎 pi-hu or "wall-tigers"! Which I think is not quite right, look at the close-up photo I took of one of these creatures! Doesn't it remind you more of a crocodile than a tiger? So I think they should be called "wall crocs" instead!

My 1st Post

Bonvenon al mia unua blogo! Welcome!

This is not a blog only about dragonflies, nor about insects or wildlife, or esperanto, it's about everything or can be about anything, depending on what the blogger needs to wash out of his brain at the moment in time when he puts fingertips to keyboard!

Saluton to my polyglot friends! What do you call a dragonfly in your own language? I try to make a list in the languages that I speak or at least know a few words of. I'm surprised that I don't (or didn't until just now) know, even in dialects and languages that I'm fluent in!

I know some languages or dialects or even people of different localities in whatever language have different words for dragonfly and damselfly as in English. But for my purpose I would like to consider all members of the Odonata Order as Dragonfly to simplify things.

The list, in no particular order (therefore no favouritism shown to any particular tongue):

Dragonfly (english), Ching-ting 蜻蜓(chinese-putonghua), Pepatung or Patung-patung (bahasa malaysia - just found out!), Tutubi (tagalog), Alindanaw (cebuano), Libelo (esperanto), Tombo とんぼ (japanese).

That's all I can list without cheating (i.e. googling!)

I will try to add to the list in future posts, and would appreciate if any kind souls who chance upon this blog of mine may want to help add his or her word to the list.

Lakbayan Map - Where the dragonfly has landed

My Lakbayan grade is C-!

How much of the Philippines have you visited? Find out at Lakbayan!

Created by Eugene Villar.