The sludge is composed of uneaten feeds and fish waste mixed with water as it is drained out of the fish tanks. Interestingly, the remnants, partly composed of minerals, are actually nutrients for crops. But here’s the problem: these minerals are not biologically available to the plants. Not yet, at least.
To make the minerals in the sludge “available,” and which becomes nutrients for crops, the sludge must undergo biological processes that are facilitated by ideal environmental conditions as well as the presence of beneficial bacteria. Basically, it’s similar to what happens when compost is prepared for soil-based farming, but this time in water.
In Chapter 7 of “Aqupaonics Food Production Systems,” a publication that is free for access to all, the authors Palm, et al., identified a study which showed that the unused nutrients for catfish aquaculture contained the following: Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Sulur, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Copper, Zinc and Selenium. These minerals in the fish waste account for as low as 40 percent unused (for phosphorous) to as high as almost 100 percent (for Molybdenum). Imagine the potential to utilize these “waste” nutrients for something more productive: fertilizer for the plants.
Interestingly, even though the fish waste contains that much potential nutrient source for the crops, much of it cannot be utilized. These minerals can either be in their solid or dissolved form. The former cannot be used yet while the latter becomes accessible to the crops already. The trick here is how to turn the remaining minerals in their solid form and convert them into their dissolved versions that the plants can finally use.
The process is called “re-mineralization” and it can be done either through aerobic (needing oxygen) or anaerobic (does not need oxygen) methods. Further, re-mineralization can be accomplished “in-system” or “externally.”
An example of an aerobic “in-system” re-mineralization design is the IBC chop and flip setup for aquaponics. This design, usually found at the backyard of hobbyists, uses a grow bed filled with media (ex. hydrotons, pumice rocks, gravel etc). The sludge is captured by the media and the flood and drain cycle oxygenates the grow bed because whenever the drain cycle kicks in, oxygen from the atmosphere is pulled into the grow bed where the solids are located. Hence, the re-mineralization process is aerobic.
The down side of an in-system re-mineralization design, however, is that the beneficial bacteria responsible for re-mineralization competes for space and — because it is more prolific — actually ends up occupying more areas to the detriment of nitrifying bacteria responsible for the conversion of toxic ammonia into an end product which is generally no longer toxic for the fish: nitrates. That’s the tradeoff.
And this is also the reason why, for bigger systems, an external re-mineralization component, often a separate tank, is preferred. This way, the sludge is drained from the system into another tank. Consequently, the beneficial bacteria responsible for re-mineralization will not compete with nitrifying bacteria for space and consume oxygen as well which is better devoted to the fish and the nitrifying bacteria. The downfalls of an in-system re-mineralization design are avoided.
When designing your aquaponics system, one must be mindful of the pros and cons, and the tradeoffs, between the different options that can be chosen for an aquaponics setup. The better design is able to make the minerals contained in the sludge available to the crops, minimize costs, but — at the same time — improve overall system efficiency and productivity minus the drawbacks.
Helping homes and mothers to be happy
The pandemic may have highlighted the importance of well-cleaned homes, but long before the health crisis began, Happy Helpers PH has been a friend to many families in ensuring every part of their house is safe and spic and span.
Behind Happy Helpers is Joanna Endaya and her business partner Maan Sicam. The cleaning solutions company has been helping not only its clients with the enterprise’s good service, but also making sure its team of mothers from their community have sufficient incomes to provide for their families.
Sharing stories of how it all started, Endaya was joined by Happy Helpers cleaning coach Merlina Legrra during Daily Tribune’s “Kalingang Katribu” show. To learn more about how this business can help homeowners while in quarantine, here are excerpts from the interview:
Daily Tribune (DT): What’s Happy Helpers all about, how did it start and when was it founded?
Joanne Endaya (JE): Happy Helpers was started five years ago by two mothers, me and my business partner and good friend Maan Sicam. Actually, this was an idea brought about by living abroad. Both Maan and I lived overseas because of our husbands at that time and that’s where we really learned how to manage our homes.
When I, Maan, and her family moved back to the Philippines, her concern was, “Saan ba ko makakatawag sa isang company na nandoon na lahat? (Is there a company I can call that handles everything I need?)” Five years down the road, here we are helping more mothers and cleaning not just homes but also commercial spaces.
DT: How did you get the mothers and made them part of the Happy Helpers team?
JE: Part of our business model is building the enterprise near our community. Our head office is in Taguig City, in Barangay Pinagsama. So all of the mothers live within the area and basically walk to the office. Walang gastos sa pag-commute. We provide everything they need for the job — uniforms, cleaning kits, solutions — lahat ng kailangan para sa trabaho, we provide it. When the pandemic happened, we started providing a service vehicle. Our happy helpers have their service that brings them to the job and then back here to the head office. We basically recruit from the community where we are located.
DT: When the quarantine was imposed in March, what happened to the happy helpers? How did you operate? What protocols did you take since you are entering homes to get it organized?
JE: Marami talagang pagbabago na kinailangang gawin. (There were many changes that needed to be done.) Of course, when the quarantine started last March, we also had to suspend our operations. In line with the government’s directives. The safety of our nanays, our team, is our topmost priority.
When we were allowed to operate in May, we put in a lot of safety protocols in place: from the time that our happy helpers get to the office, they have their temperature checked, make sure they’re wearing masks, face shields, PPE. We make sure they drink their vitamins before they’re deployed for work and we also have monthly testing for everyone in our team. We also follow social distancing in our service. We limit people in our service van, even our cleaning materials and tools, they’re always disinfected and sanitized. The tools have a special wrapping when it goes to the clients’ house. A lot of these creative changes were well thought out because we want to keep the company running especially now when keeping our homes clean isn’t only for our peace of mind but will also keep us healthy and free from the virus.
DT: How many happy helper mothers are there right now?
Marlina Legera (ML): Right now, we have 37 active happy helpers.
DT: How did you get the customers back?
JE: I think that because of the brand that we’ve established for the past five years, we were able to create that trust, reliability and sense of professional service to clients. When we had the health protocols in place, and with the trust they have given us, it became easy for customers to book a job with us.
DT: Things really changed with COVID-19, even how we organized our homes. How would you define “deep cleaning,” which you mention in your social media sites?
JE: Deep-cleaning for us at Happy Helpers means general cleaning of your home or your commercial space. In Happy Helpers, the standard that we use is is a cleaning protocol where we clean pataas-pababa-paloob-palabas. Another tip that we can share is that you need to have your cleaning tools complete pag maglilinis para mas efficient ang pag-deep clean ng bahay.
DT: You have photos to share. Can you explain each one to us?
ML: (On cleaning windows) Gumagamit kami ng glass cleaner diyan. Ang technique namin diyan ay spray-wipe-dry.
JE: The cleaning solutions din that we use are all-natural cleaning solutions that are also disinfectants. Not only does it clean, it also disinfects surfaces.
DT: This next photo is on washing dishes.
ML: Meron kaming sariling dishwashing liquid solution na ginagamit.
JE: For the kitchen, one system we give Is “clean as you go.” Meaning, after cooking, clean the stove and wash the cookware and utensils immediately so you can put it away. Then, after meals, dish out and clear the table. Wash the dishes after meals. Don’t wait for things to accumulate. Deep-cleaning the kitchen will be more efficient especially since it’s one of the areas that’s difficult to keep in neat shape. Lalo na yung mga talsik ng mantika. When oil accumulates in the stove, that would be very difficult to clear and clean.
DT: How about deep-cleaning the bedroom.
ML: Kung gusto ng client mag-papalit ng bed sheets, ginagawa din po namin yon. Mas maigi po kung every week ang pagpalit ng beddings.
JE: One tip that we can share for the bedroom is to regularly change bed sheets. And then not only that, mainam din na may regular upholstery cleaning, which is a service that we also provide. We have a special service for deep-cleaning pillows, couches, cribs and beds.
DT: What do you do with the pillows? Some let them dry under the sun.
JE: Yes, that is also a very good tip. If you can place your pillows in the sun maybe either once a month or every two weeks, it would help to kill any remaining bacteria and viruses.
DT: And this photo, cleaning the floor — can you give us more tips?
ML: We also use multi-purpose cleaners. We also have our color-coded basahan.
JE: Iyon din ang isang tip, to use color-coded basahan or rugs. We use red rugs for the floor. You don’t necessarily have to use the same color code, you just have to use the same color of basahan according to your use. Iba sa kusina, iba para sa banyo, baka meron kang all-around na basahan. For Happy Helpers, our all-around is coded as yellow.
For our cleaning kit or equipment, meron na kaming kanya-kanyang pouches. May cleaning pouch for the kitchen, may cleaning pouch for the banyo and may all-around cleaning pouch as well.
DT: How about when cleaning walls?
ML: May mops kami diyan para maabot namin yung sa taas na taas.
JE: Mops are not just used for the floor but have mops for walls as well. Normally, in basic cleaning, di naman nalilinis yung walls every day so for deep cleaning, that’s a technique that we use. Pwedeng maglagay ka lang ng basahan sa mop — at least maaabot mo yung sa taas.
DT: Is there a process for everyday cleaning. Where should one start?
JE: For Happy Helpers, we suggest “pataas-pababa-paloob-palabas.” For example, if it’s a two-storey home, start on the second floor, then pababa ka. If you are in a condo, start from the innermost part of your condo and then go outwards. Even though there is a system to cleaning, it has to be a system that you are happy with. It should be something that you can sustain.
DT: Message for home dwellers?
JE: Cleaning is important not only during this time but even before COVID-19 happened. Cleaning will not only give you peace of mind but will also make you and your family stay healthy and keep your immunities strong. If you need help in our house, you can always call us to do professional cleaning. And Marlina will be there to coach the team.
The coconut tree has always been called the ‘Tree of Life’ because of the various products that one can make from its parts: its leaves can be used for thatching, coconut husks can be made into ropes, there’s the coconut juice that will satisfy your thirst, its shells can act as floor polishers, sticks from its leaves can be made into brooms and so many others that people, especially Filipinos, have benefitted from for years.
But one thing that has gained the spotlight nowadays are its oil, particularly the kind extracted from the single press of fresh coconut meat that was grated and dried for a couple of hours. Called Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO), this pure oil from the tree is often believed to be excellent for human health due to the fact that it can boost your immunity, therefore preventing you from getting sick.
In line with the pandemic, studies are still being conducted if VCO’s healing effects can also help cure patients infected with the coronavirus.
Studies also show that VCO can be good for your dogs, too. In a report published by healthline.com, the lauric acid found in coconut oil has been shown to keep hair healthier than other fatty acids. In short, VCO can be used to improve the appearance of your dog’s fur.
In addition, antimicrobial effects can help dogs prevent getting ticks, fleas and manges. This claim was justified when select dogs were treated with a shampoo containing coconut oil in a study conducted by Gregory Viste, Rosenio Silvestre, Nida Tabije and Juliana Silvestre titled “Efficacy of Virgin Coconut (Cocos nucifera ) Oilsoap Against Mange in Dogs” in 2013.
But, using VCO should be taken with precautions because as the old saying goes, too much of anything is bad. Coconut oil may cause unnecessary cholesterol thus, it could weight gain or weight loss for your pets depending on the state of their body. You may want to consult your trusted veterinarian before adding it to their diet.
TLDC embraces new-normal work arrangements
Adapting to limited mobility caused by the pandemic, real estate developer Torre Lorenzo Development Corporation (TLDC) has ramped up its digital transformation and shifted to agile work arrangements to ensure continuity during quarantine.
“Our top priority remains ensuring that our employees, as well as those who live and work in our developments, remain safe and secure during the pandemic,” said TLDC chief executive officer Tomas P. Lorenzo.
Under TLDC’s Flexible Work Arrangement (FWA) scheme, employees who are able to complete their tasks remotely are allowed to work from their residence. Those who need to report to company offices, meanwhile, are provided transport service to minimize their contact with the commuting public.
Complementing agile work arrangements and shifting reporting schedules is the digitization of various administrative processes that were previously done manually. “Paper transactions are part and parcel of any corporate operation, but we have fully embraced technology to minimize this and ensure our people can secure necessary documentation for their tasks from wherever they work,” noted Lorenzo.
The company has enforced strict safety protocols across its offices and properties. All residents are required to wear masks when entering properties, while employees must wear both masks and face shields when coming to work. Other measures include temperature checks for all incoming residents and guests; installation of foot baths in entrances for residents and guests; regular sanitation of high-traffic areas and surfaces; social distancing through floor markers in common areas; and establishment of pick-up delivery areas for e-commerce vendors and service providers.
For employees and outsourced service providers reporting to TLDC properties, the company provides free lodging as well as subsidized meals to help ensure their safety and security in the performance of their tasks.
Meetings are conducted virtually in compliance with physical distancing protocols, while COVID-19 testing is regularly conducted for all employees and support staff. Through townhall meetings and awareness campaigns, the company also helps keep employees abreast of relevant updates.
For current and prospective clients, TLDC has kept digital channels open to respond to queries and requests. The company’s projects can now be viewed digitally through walkthrough videos from the comforts of clients’ homes. The company’s contact center receives customer concerns six days a week, while the company’s social media platforms are available 24/7.
“Working as one team across TLDC is key to managing operations and keeping our team safe through this critical time. We enjoin the continued support of our property owners, partners, and guests to help us keep our TLDC properties and offices safe for everyone,” said Lorenzo.
Safe go-to home for employees
Caring for one’s staff is a priority among employers who are trying to keep business together despite the pandemic.
With the ease gradually being enjoyed by hotel establishments and as community quarantine regulations have been relaxed in major cities nationwide, Robinsons Hotels and Resorts (RHR), the hospitality arm of Robinsons Land Corporation, continues to provide safe and healthy accommodation for employees through its Home to Go promo.
Under the new normal of travel, RHR is taking safety and cleanliness to a new level through its Circle of Clean stringent health protocols to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 virus.
And for a safer alternative to work, one can make the hotel his private, convenient, and secure home away from home.
A Home to Go room measures 18 square meters with twin beds and a private bathroom, and priced as low as P22,000 net per month at the Magnolia, Greenhills and Galleria Cebu branches and P20,000 per month at Summit Circle Cebu and Tacloban. The promo is also offered at Go Hotels in Ortigas, Mandaluyong and Otis-Manila at P18,000 per month, inclusive of WiFi and utilities.
With a minimum stay of one month and maximum of two persons in a room, rates include access to a pantry equipped with a microwave, toaster, water dispenser, refrigerator, and flat iron and ironing board.
Guests are issued a complimentary cleaning kit upon check-in, daily garbage collection, with optional grocery shopping assistance to Robinsons Supermarket and room cleaning services for a minimal fee. Packed meals are available for P150 and P100 at Summit and Go Hotels, respectively.
RHR is one of the country’s largest hotel companies with a network of 24 properties, and owns and operates five brand segments.
During the onset of the enhanced community quarantine in mid-March, half of its brands remained in operation to serve long-term guests, which included employees of nearby business process outsourcing firms.
On the international deluxe category, it has the IHG-managed Crowne Plaza Galleria and Holiday Inn Galleria, Dusit Thani Mactan Cebu and The Westin Sonata Place Ortigas. Meanwhile, its homegrown brands are Summit Hotels and Resorts and Go Hotels, the essential service chain.
Home to Go is valid until 31 December 2020. For more information, visit summithotels.ph and gohotels.ph.
Work and Beyond
As organizations increase their focus on building a healthy environment, technology has become bullish in providing solutions to ensure the health and well-being of workers slowly returning to work. Such is Cognian Technologies, a fast-growing Australian technology company, which announced its partnership with Microsoft, Barhead, Reekoh and Mirvac, aiming to bring a safe return to work experience with the promotion of ‘safe and healthy’ buildings.
Cognian, a smart building provider, is gearing to cater to the ‘new normal’ framework by improving tenant experience while maintaining its profits through optimized operations. Mark Blum, CEO of Cognian, said: “Collaborating with technologies such as Microsoft Azure IoT is a huge step in our mission to transform buildings into human-centred spaces which evolve as the needs of the people who inhabit them change.”
Cognian has deployed an end-to-end solution into Barhead and Reekoh’s head office in Sydney (for the safety of its staff and visitors) and a “live lab” for smart building experience beyond COVID-19. “Work environments will only become more multi-dimensional and dynamic post-pandemic — business solutions must be adaptive, secure and scalable above anything else,” Ken Struthers, CEO of Barhead, said.
In keeping with the demands of the new normal, technology also aims to address concerns and several issues of people and beyond, namely: hygiene, safety, wellness and operational efficiency. Blum said: “We’re thrilled to have expanded our partner ecosystem with such a prestigious group of companies, and look forward to collaborating on solutions including cleaner audits, social distancing compliance monitoring, contact tracing and environmental reporting — which are absolute must-haves as Australians return to the office post COVID.”
Loewe’s plant-based scents to love
While the world is keeping safe at home, fragrance has become a solace that offers a sense of calmness during these dark times.
Spanish luxury fashion house Loewe presents a new range of home scents that bring the essence of the vegetable garden.
The new collection of home scents is inspired by the meticulous recordings of plant life by artists who were moved by the Age of Discovery: the cyanotypes of algae by the British artist Anna Atkins, the illustrations of exotic South American flora by the Spanish explorer Mutis and the work of Kazuma Ogawa, who pioneered photomechanical printing as a means to document the flowers of Japan.
Based on Anderson’s inspiration, Loewe’s in-house perfumier Nuria Cruelles interprets 11 plants essences: honeysuckle, beetroot, juniper berry, tomato leaves, coriander, liquorice, scent of marihuana, luscious pea, oregano, cypress balls and ivy.
Each essence is expressed in candles, wax candleholders, home fragrances, rattan diffusers and soap.
The hand-crafted ceramic candles are inspired on Greek drinking vessels from the 5th century BC. The wax is derived from natural ingredients.
Jonathan Anderson has collaborated with the Franco-Swiss photographer Erwan Frotin to illustrate the home fragrance range’s packaging.Each packaging has been symbolized by the scent’s plant’s flower and color.
Anderson surmises, “There is an intimacy and a coziness, but also a celebration of the natural world, to these candles that I find both timely and timeless.”
The Home Scents have been launched this month. In the Philippines, Loewe is exclusively distributed by Stores Specialists Inc. and is located at Shangri-La Plaza Mall East Wing.
A good night’s sleep
Ever slept in a hotel and wonder where those comfy beds are from? You might not be the only one though.
That’s the number one priority of any hotel — to provide a good night’s sleep for its guests, a promise that is quite a tricky one to keep since people have different preferences as to what a comfortable bed should be.
YouBed, a Swedish company, together with Business Sweden, the Swedish Trade and Invest Council introduces a bed innovation that combines personalization and comfort — a one of a kind bed fit for global introduction.
Its firmness is modifiable with the high-level pocket spring mattress that can be adjusted using a remote, altogether providing a unique sleep concept believed to be game-changing for the hotel industry.
Mattias Sörensen, CEO and founder of YouBed, said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if our innovation creates a paradigm shift within the hotel industry, and it is our responsibility to support this development in the best way possible. We have therefore spent years proving the sleep concept, while also creating the infrastructure and capacity to support an expected global demand.”
YouBed is already initiating dialogues with regional hotel groups that could help in its introduction to the world.
“YouBed decided early on to use our existing support structures, a shortcut for leading companies to quickly access global markets. As we got involved early in the process, we could tailor our involvement based on this long-term business relationship. We are really proud to be part of the establishment of a new Swedish multinational company, and to support their game-changing innovation in the capacity it deserves,” Fredrik Fexe, executive vice president and head of Strategy and Business Development at Business Sweden, said.
YouBed is available at all Mövenpick Hotels in Europe, as well as in the Scandinavian First Hotels and Scandic Hotels.
Two living areas for growing in
With trips outside limited to running errands, we’re all yearning to step outside even for just a few minutes to soak up some sun and welcome a new day. At Commonwealth by Century in Quezon City, this is possible while still prioritizing one’s health and safety. Not only can residents take a stroll within the property at the expansive Great Lawn, they can have their own outdoor space they can enhance and relish, too.
Units at Commonwealth by Century come with spacious balconies that can easily be styled and furnished according to your needs. Here, the balcony isn’t just an afterthought. It is roomy enough to let you create a work-from-home nook, an exercise area, and even a kiddie corner for the little ones. Simply put, it’s like getting a second living area for the price of one. The possibilities are endless — all one has to do is take advantage of the space and make it your own.
Condo buyers can secure their Commonwealth by Century unit without having to leave their homes. Visit www.commonwealthbycentury.com to learn more about the property, take a virtual tour of the units, and have a real-time chat with an agent. With easy payment terms, owning a Century home in the city can be a reality. Even better, all transactions can be done online.
Located in Don Antonio Drive, Brgy. Batasan Hills in Commonwealth, Quezon City, The Residences at Commonwealth by Century brings you closer to malls, schools, hospitals and other commercial establishments. With the nearest mall only a few minutes away, you can run errands efficiently and be home in an instant. The Don Antonio station of the upcoming MRT Line 7 is also a five-minute walk away — making it easier for residents to reach other business hubs and cities in the metro.
Easy terms for troubled tourism properties
The agreement is to focus on MSME, which is also the emphasis in the Tourism Response and Recovery Plan (TRRP).
As the world is slowly getting back on its feet after taking shocking hits from the ongoing health crisis, the Department of Tourism (DoT) aims to give its micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME), a boost through a loan program that is now being finalized with the Small Business Corporation (SB Corp) of the Department of Trade and Industry.
The lockdown brought by the coronavirus crisis has forced tourism establishments across the country either to temporarily stop their operations or open with restrictions. Others have sought accreditation as “quarantine” hotels to keep guests coming and for financial survival. These business measures, however, has led establishments involved in food and hospitality to be among the profoundly impacted enterprises in the country.
Under the Bayanihan to Recover As One Act (Bayanihan 2), the SB Corp allocated funding for its COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (CARES) that is directed to expand its loan programs including that for tourism, which aims “to administer loans for DoT but subject to guidelines from the DoT.”
Accordingly, the DoT in consultation with its tourism stakeholders has been in constant dialogue with the SB Corp to come up with the appropriate guidelines for the loan program for tourism MSMEs.
During the hearing for the Department’s 2021 budget, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat disclosed details of the guidelines that have been agreed upon. SB Corp will prioritize DoT-accredited MSMEs to make it easier for the tourism stakeholders to avail of the loan.
“The agreement is to focus on MSMEs, which is also the emphasis in the Tourism Response and Recovery Plan (TRRP). Our priority now is to sustain our tourism workforce. By providing the working capital needed through these loans, the tourism businesses that have lost much because of the pandemic will be provided with a lifeline,” stressed Puyat.
The P6 billion credit facility may also be made available to non-accredited businesses provided that they are licensed by the local government unit (LGU).
Puyat stressed that the policy for the P3 billion program is not just a release of funds. It will be used as a cash-for-work or cash-for-training mode with the intention that “both departments are to ensure that apart from the cash, the stakeholders will receive something permanent in the process.”