IRRI (International Rice Research Institute) Orientation:
Learning about the existence of cobras, prominence of earthquakes, immensity of rice science and actually being involved in rice plantation in the scorching heat were what out IRRI orientation was all about. They have their own museum that boasts varieties of information on rice around Asia. From instruments, farming equipment to rice product varieties like food and beauty products, they had it all on display. The love and dedication for rice here is clear. The highlight of the day for me was being involved in the laborious field work by preparing/tilling the land and planting the rice like how farmers do. For some reason although I am so familiar with the practices, I felt so excited as if it were my first time seeing it; hand planting, mechanical planting and pushing the tractor plus carabao to plow the soil was a very intriguing and surprisingly fun experience.
Start of my internship project:
I was excited to return to the office and labs after a very long weekend because I was finally going to meet my mentor who I am going to be working with and learning from. I had already met my supervisor, the Crop and Environmental Sciences division head at IRRI and had received a brief overview of the projects done in lab. But Wednesday was the day that I would know exactly what I am doing for the next few weeks. I did finally meet my mentor for the week Tita (respectable aunt) Bong, who was the most friendly and nice person ever. I was more than happy to hear what she had to offer me: I was going to be assisting with a project related to flowering plants and parasites of rice pests. The project was seeking to see the function of flowering plants in inviting more insects that are natural enemies of pests that kill rice. The experiment was supposed to determine which vegetable plants that bear flowers are more useful to us to keep pests away. The flowers to be tested were of cucumber, string beans, mung beans and ladyfinger/okra. The natural enemies we were looking at were lady bugs and Oligosita parasites
On Thursday we started the experiment set up in the insectarium that had controlled temperature. It took four hours of preparation; we plucked flowers, cleaned them, wrapped their ends with wet tissue (water source) and put each in a plastic cup. For each kind of flower the sample size was 15. Then we introduced one ladybug in each jar. We did the same with Oligosita. The observations we had to make were of where the insects are: flower, just hanging around the cup, the wet tissue or the cotton plug at the small round opening of the cup. We did this every 6 hours; so 9 am, 3 pm, 9 pm and then the next day we changed the flowers in the cups without having the parasites escape. The experiment should last five days, so tomorrow I will be going to the lab make observations and wrap up the experiment.
Hiking at Makiling botanical gardens:
Sunday was another accomplishment with hiking. We started our walk right from our dorm up to the path that lead to Mount Makiling. It was about a 40 minute walk up to the botanical garden. Then some more walk through the garden as it was a hiking area of its own. Although the uphill climb seemed torturous, it was only a few instances. All in all, it was a great exploration of nature in a sunny Sunday morning.
Now, here I am at a café called ‘Productivity café’, winding down the weekend, being productive writing a blog post. The best way to end this post, is with a quote of the day (that was written on the walls of this café): Focus on bring productive instead of busy. Have a happy week ahead!!