Sunday, May 11, 2014

Maria Rizza Belle G. Dela Fuente

Monkey Business

Through watching the two documentaries, I was able to get a clearer picture on how monkeys and humans are alike. I now understand better why many assert that apes are our ancestors.
I was amazed at how resourceful the monkeys are. We, Filipinos, have the term “diskarte” which means technique or tactic. The monkeys also exhibit this. The capuchins search for clams to eat and crack them open on tree-anvils. They protect themselves by rubbing in their skin an insect repellent from plants.
The tamarin species alert other monkeys when their predator, the atayrra, is around. They cooperate and look after one another. The guenons travel in an anti-predator alliance and practice vigilance against their predator. They remind me of camaraderie we humans have.
Monkeys have a social system. The saki species have different face colors to denote seniority in the group and the toque macaques have a class system wherein position brings privileges. I thought that animals do not organize themselves and form hierarchies. I know now that they, too, have social classes.
Accompanying this social system is the need for interaction and relationships. As said, “The larger the group, the more individuals with good social skills will thrive.” This applies to humans and monkeys because both have to make their way into the group and want acceptance.

Communication is a way to interact. I wondered whether animals have their own language, just like Filipino or English. I knew that geladas have developed the most complex sounds made by any mammal yet studied to communicate.
As evolution took place, humans and animals learned to distinguish what is safe for them or not. The red howler monkeys can differentiate which leaves are edible or toxic. It reminded me of Darwin’s Natural Selection wherein traits necessary for survival are kept and passed on to the next generation while those that are not are extinguished.
Over-all, I appreciate that the documentary was shot personally by the production. They showed the action up-close. They did not just compile pictures or clips from other shows. I would not have the chance to interact with the monkeys face-to-face, so a documentary like this is helpful for me to know more about them.
I felt like I had a short field trip to monkey world. I was able to pick up useful information which I otherwise wouldn’t have known if I wasn’t able to watch this documentary. It also left me a striking thought which is “Instead of controlling the environment for the benefit of the population, perhaps it’s time we control the population to allow the survival of the environment.” I somehow agree with this statement. Our environment has a limited caring capacity. We might be nearing its threshold already. In order to avoid the bitter fate of the Maya empire, we should take care of our environment and prevent the population from growing at an unsustainable rate.

Look up!

I am not very knowledgeable when it comes to different bird species. I am only familiar with those I see around or in the television. Through Sir Vallejo’s lecture, I knew that there are lots of different birds inside the campus. I am even fascinated with their names like Coppersmith Barbet, Blue Rock Trush, Philippine Scops Owl, Long Tailed Shrike, etc.
I was amazed with the Yellow Vented Bulbul that stays on a certain tree because it eats the fruits of the tree. The fruits are so small that only the birds can eat it.

The Red-bellied Pitta was often seen near the Math Building. I used to walk there but it never came across my mind that there would be beautiful birds there. I am often too pre-occupied with math problems that I had no time to appreciate the hidden beauty of nature in that area.

When we went out of the auditorium, we saw the Brown Shrike fly from the Marine Science Institute to the College of Science Building. It was breathtaking to see a rare bird. I thought I would only see birds as beautiful as that in Discovery Channel or in magazines.
We had a hard time looking for other birds. It was already noisy and hot. UP Diliman is not that much populated and polluted but the birds don’t show up that often. What more in areas where the birds’ natural habitats might have been more damaged?
Through our activity, I also appreciated the work of ornithologists. They had to observe the birds for a year, walking within an area in a fast pace. It takes dedication and passion to do that. If not for them, then maybe students like us would have no information about bird species.
What can we now do to protect the birds today and increase the probability that we can still see birds in the future?
We should make an effort to lessen air pollution. We can take public transportation instead of driving our own cars. We should avoid burning our garbage. With biodiversity problems caused by air pollution threatening us, it is now time to put these ways into practice.
The campus is one the greenest places that I know. We all benefit from the fresh air and shade from the trees. Unknowingly, birds also benefit from these trees. We should plant trees so that we could still see birds around. Loss of habitat could lead to their extinction.
We should not disturb birds in their natural habitats. Birds will look for other habitats if they find their current place stressful for them. We should not make very loud noises. We should also not look for their nesting place and destroy it or play with it.
If we take care of the birds today, who knows, we might have new bird species in the future? Their population might even grow bigger than today’s bird population. With proper care of the environment, we can have a richer biodiversity.

Up Close and Personal

We have encountered the Cournot-Nash equilibrium in duopoly and game theory in my Economics classes. We had to grasp the concept and apply it to situations. Beyond that, we weren’t taught anything more. We do not even know who formulated that concept or theory and how he or she did it.
In watching the film A Beautiful Mind, I met the person who formulated the equilibrium I was studying in class. I had a glimpse of his academic, professional, and personal life.
I saw on how in a life of a scientist, there is always trade-off between time for family and for work. Nash became pre-occupied with his work that he had little time for his wife and child. He spent so many hours in his office solving problems. He lost the balance in the different aspects of his life. He was blessed that his wife didn’t give up on him and supported him.
I realized that emotions and personal issues can take over one’s life. Nash was a socially-awkward person. His desire to have a companion led to his delusions. He lost his ability to distinguish who are really present and who are only his delusions. He also had the desire for his work to be important or acknowledged that he had the delusion that he is working for the government. His subconscious desires have pushed themselves to surface into his consciousness to be manifested as reality.
We can still do great things even when faced with disability or challenges. Ability matters more than disability. Schizophrenia didn’t hinder Nash from teaching what he is good at. He also received the Nobel Prize. His brilliance as a mathematician didn’t fade away because of schizophrenia.
Seeing John Nash undergo electroconvulsive therapy showed me how painful treatments were back then. Now, treatments can be administered painlessly through the use of anaesthesia. It made me think about how medicine and technology have developed and helped us to make our lives easier.
After watching the film, I became interested to know the people behind certain works. I felt that it is some sort of tribute to them that I make an effort to know who they really are and not just benefit from what they have done.
I am aware that movies like this are not the exact re-enactment of what really happened. As Sir Juned reminded us, the film makers have exercised their artistic liberties in making this. I just wish they didn’t twist the events too much that it is already far from the truth. I am now more cautious on what to believe in movies I watch and I verify the information provided.
Over-all, I enjoyed the movie. Not only was I enriched mentally, I also felt that I somehow emotionally connected to Nash. I knew about his struggles and triumphs. I became inspired too that I can achieve something great in my field, just like he did.

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