What do you want to be when you grow up? For sure, some kids would say: to become an astronaut. In fact, we all probably dreamed of the same thing at some point in our lives. There’s something about outer space that fascinates us. Proof of this are all the space-oriented books, movies and TV shows present in our pop culture.
But space exploration entails great discipline. Astronauts are trained through a human spaceflight program to either command, pilot or serve as a crew member of a spacecraft. If you’re one of those dreaming to become an astronaut, here are some of the things you need to do before handing in that application:
One of the basic requirements of being an astronaut is having a bachelor’s degree in engineering, biological science, physical science or mathematics. According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the International Space Station (ISS) can only accommodate six persons at a time because each exploration is quite pricey. That is why it is vital for NASA to send only highly qualified individuals to ensure the success of the mission.
For obvious reasons, being healthy and fit is also one of NASA’s basic requirements to become an astronaut. You must have:
• A distant visual acuity of 20/100 or better uncorrected, correctable to 20/20 each eye
• A sitting blood pressure of 140/190
• Height between 62 and 75 inches tall
These basic physical characteristics ensure that you would be able to perform your job well while you are in orbit. An emergency flight back to earth due to a health concern may not be feasible.
Astronauts in training
Image source: www.wordpress.com; www.jsc.nasa.gov
Once accepted into the program, you can’t be called a full-fledged astronaut just yet. Candidates must undergo a two-year rigid training in order to be space-ready. This includes learning about the International Space Station and the basics of spaceflight. Candidates also undergo military water training, swimming tests and are exposed to extreme conditions, such as high and low atmospheric pressures. These rigorous activities are designed to prepare potential astronauts to what they may experience in orbit.
However, there’s no assurance that right after training, successful astronauts will immediately go to space. Most of NASA’s astronauts work as support crew to other astronauts in orbit. This is another form of training for them to gain more knowledge and skills so that when it’s their turn to fly into orbit, they will be better equipped.
Once an astronaut is scheduled for a mission, he spends a few more years of training, which includes more classroom learning and simulation trainings—but this time, these would be held all over the world. He will also get a chance to train with his crewmates so they will be more familiar with each other and their specific responsibilities.
It should also be noted that astronauts don’t just spend their time working solely with NASA. They also work with the agency’s international partners, such as training facilities in Canada.
We all know that the universe is vast with hidden mysteries waiting to be discovered. If you dream of being an astronaut, you must be dedicated enough to face all the challenges that you might encounter. When you love what you’re doing, you’ll be able to surpass everything in order to reach your dream—and yes, even outer space.
By: Jeroh P. Hiyastro – Panahon.TV Intern

(UPDATED AS OF DECEMBER 19, 2016) Apart from gift-giving, caroling, parties and traditional food, Christmas in the Philippines will not be complete without Simbang Gabi.
Translates to Night Mass, Simbang Gabi is held from December 16-24 and is usually done as early as 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning.
The tradition began in 1587 when Pope Sixtus V granted the petition of Father Diego de Soria to hold Christmas masses outdoors in order to accommodate the huge number of people attending the evening mass. Eventually, in the 17th century, the dawn mass was introduced in the Philippines by the Spanish conquerors.
In most parts of the world it is celebrated in anticipation of Christmas and honor to the Blessed Virgin Mary. For nine days, devotees flock to churches at dawn to attend masses.
Centuries have passed but the tradition of Simbang Gabi continues in the Philippines. Colorful lights, lanterns and songs in every street are scenes to look forward to every morning. Shortly after the masses, families gather to feast on various delicacies like bibingka, puto bumbong, or a drink of salabat or hot chocolate.
On the last day of Simbang Gabi, which is Christmas Eve, it is called Misa de Gallo which literally translates to Rooster’s Mass. It is believed that the completion of Simbang Gabi would mean granting of a prayer.
Since over 70 million Filipinos are Catholic – according to a report by the Catholic Directory of the Philippines – Simbang Gabi is indeed a big tradition. So prepare and be guided. Here’s the weather outlook for the next days: http://panahon.tv/weather-today/

Seven million.

That’s how many people die every year due to air pollution. What’s more, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the most vulnerable to this environmental problem are the children. In fact, it is one of the leading risks to the health of young people, with around 600,000 children dying each year due to air pollution and diseases related to it. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) also said that there are 300 million children who are exposed to areas with high toxic levels.

Indeed, harmful air seriously threatens many people and is definitely not something to ignore.

To address this, improving air quality should be one of the top priorities. And since cleanliness begins at home, why not try growing indoor plants? There are numerous advantages of house plants. As they help remove toxins from the environment, these plants can promote good health for your family.

In addition, greener environment can also make us feel more comfortable with our surroundings. Certain researches show that interior landscaping has positive effects on the well-being of the occupants. People tend to be more productive, healthier and happier because plants provide relaxation. Humans greatly benefit from being more inclined with nature.

Architect Abby Abiol, a landscape architect and general manager of Haute Flora, shares her knowledge about indoor plants and how to take care of them. Her work includes planning and designing outdoor spaces to suit human activities with top consideration to a balanced design that will be sensitive to both natural and social environment.

“I chose to pursue and practice my profession because my abilities, responsibilities and knowledge in this service helps mankind in developing and evolving into better society and living environment,” Architect Abby shares.

According to her, here are the 7 best house plants that are commonly found in plant nurseries in the Philippines:

Chamaedorea seifritzii (Seifritzii or Bamboo Palm)
Bamboo plant is one of the best plants that would suit your home or office because it is low-maintenance and could survive even with little sunlight. Also known as the “Reed Palm”, it is a relatively small graceful palm that could grow up to about 7 feet.

Each stem is long and slender with “nodes” that are similar to bamboo. Usually, plants are commercially clumped together to form shrub-like specimens. But this palm naturally spreads by suckers or offshoots. The tall stems measure about 10-15 fronds each with about 12 dark green pinnate leaflets.

Photo Courtesy: greenstuffplants.com
Photo Courtesy: greenstuffplants.com

Rhapis excelsa (Rhapis)
Rhapis is a clustering and slender palm growing up to 3 to 4 meters tall. The stem is like a cane with a diameter of 4 centimeters with matted coarse fiber. Its leaves are divided into linear segments, which appear like a dissected fan.

Beacuse of its air-filtering property, it is included in the list of the clean air study of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and became one of the 10 Best Air Filtering House Plants in 2015. Rhapis excelsa proved that it is capable of indoor air purification that helps eliminate formaldehyde ammonia, xylene and toluene – all of which are harmful air toxins.

Photo Courtesy: http://www.sundaygardener.net/
Photo Courtesy: http://www.sundaygardener.net/

Spatiphyllum commutatum (Peace Lily)
An evergreen perennial native to Indonesia and the Philippines, Peace Lily spreads by underground rhizomes, forming dense clumps of shiny dark elliptical leaves supported by long-sheathed petioles or leaf stems. The large-flowered Peace Lily can bear some of the largest and long-lasting blooms of its tribe.

Photo Courtesy: http://www.happystartsathome.com/
Photo Courtesy: http://www.happystartsathome.com/

Dracaena surculosa (Japanese Bamboo)
Dracaena surculosa is a slow growing evergreen plant with thin erect stems that could grow as high as 23 inches with a spread of 15 inches. It is a native of western tropical Africa rainforest region.

The leaves of this plant are dark green with cream spots. New leaves can appear as tightly rolled cones that showcase beautiful creamy yellow markings. Dracaena surculosa can be grown in a bottle garden

Photo Courtesy: www.indoor-plants.co.uk
Photo Courtesy: www.indoor-plants.co.uk

Zamioculcas zamifolia (Welcome Plant)
Also dubbed as the ZZ plant, it is one of the newest house plant that is becoming more popular. Considered to be stylish, attractive and easy to maintain, it also blends well with either a contemporary or traditional setting.

Photo Courtesy: http://www.jackwallington.com/
Photo Courtesy: http://www.jackwallington.com/

Sansevieria trifasciata (Snake Plant)
Also one of the easy-to-care house plants, Snake Plant is a native to the tropics of West Africa. It his known for its upright leaf habit which fits in to almost all locations in the home from both traditional to modern day settings.

Because it is clutter-free, it became a popular choice for architecture and interior design.

Photo Courtesy: http://www.glasshouseworks.com/
Photo Courtesy: http://www.glasshouseworks.com/

Chlorophytum comosum (Spider Plant)
Its name was derived from the appearance of its plantlets, dangling from the mother plant just like spiders from a web. These plants are pleasantly known for their simple care requirements and the ability to tolerate relatively low light conditions.

Spider plants are known for their ability to grow in lower light conditions and prefer indirect light. In fact, too much direct sunlight may damage the leaves. They likewise don’t require humidity that much, average room humidity is usually sufficient.

Photo Courtesy: www.myhouseplants.com
Photo Courtesy: www.myhouseplants.com

According to Architect Abby, all of these plants are very tough. They adapt well in areas with minimal sunlight or water. These plants are very easy to maintain and can really help people understand and enjoy their plant with very little effort.

Care Tips from the Expert
• A good balance of water and occasional sunlight will suffice. First, know the characteristics of your chosen plant. It’s best to ask the nursery people you bought your plant from, on how to properly care for that plant.

• Never water too much as this may be the cause of root rot and eventually your plant may get sick. Feel the soil and even poke the soil to see if this is still moist under the surface. If there is dryness, gradually water the plant but be careful not to put more than the pot and soil can handle. Always water at the base.

• Make sure that you occasionally wipe the leaves so that dust will not settle on the surface allowing light to penetrate the leaves.

• If sunning your plant is possible, do not expose directly under the sun or in the full outdoors as this may scorch the plant that has already adjusted to the low light situation.

Haute Flora (owned by Ms. Abby Abiol)