Author Archives: Amihan Euza Mabalay

justinfritz1

Love through pedals: Biking love stories

Monday, 29 February 2016 | Written by
justinfritz1

What makes biking uniquely romantic for couples (or for would- be couples) is the journey they take together. Unlike motorized vehicles where two people can stay together, with just one of them on the steering wheel, bikes are usually for single use (except for tandem bike). By riding on each bike while traveling a single road, two people share one journey fueled by just each person’s power and passion.

POC has interviewed two biker couples who shared their journey through pedals, their love for biking, for each other, and bigger things that matter.

justinfritz1Justin Senturias and Fritzie De Vera Senturias (Special Needs Educators)

Love story: A special proposal
For newlyweds Justin and Fritz, biking is part of their journey from boyfriend and girlfriend to husband and wife.  Justin has been biking for years and wanted to share his bike rides with his special someone so one day he brought Fritz a bike. He shares that while they have been a couple even before they started biking together, his love grew fonder when Fritz agreed to join the activity with him.

“Mas nakaka-inlove kasi makita mo yung partner mo that she is willing to try out things na gusto mo dahil sayo.”

For her part, aside from the fact that joining her then boyfriend in biking would mean more bonding time,  Fritz took biking as one of Justin’s challenge. She shares that her husband usually challenges and pushes her to the limits of her abilities. This motivates her to be Justin’s equal, to be able to do what he can.

Their wonderful biking love story’s highlight was a romantic movie-worthy wedding proposal in a biking trail inside the La Mesa Nature Reserve in Quezon City. After a year of biking together, Justin decided to pop the question to Fritz while they were on a quiet viewing deck facing the beautiful serene waters of La Mesa dam and lush forest of the reserve, which was, by the way also featured in the movie Lakbay2Love.  Of course, Fritz said yes and they tied the knot December last year.

Bike to appreciate nature

A nature lover, Justin says that mountain biking gives him a very different perspective from everyday environment especially where we are on trails. “Out on the trails, the air is fresher, the breeze is cooler and the sceneries are amazing. These are things that most of us don’t get to see and feel lalo na tayong mga taga-syudad. Through biking, I get to appreciate nature more which makes me want to take care of it better. I guess my advice to people is to actually experience nature first hand so that they’ll have a deeper understanding why we shouldn’t litter, cut trees, and why we should segregate our wastes at home, recycle papers at work and minimize our overall foot print as opposed to seeing those tasks as extra and unnecessary work.”

biking1Mark Lui Aquino (Development Worker & Biking Enthusiast/Advocate) and Anna Saplor (Development Worker)
Braving the roads together
“Hindi kita pababayaan sa daan mag isa.” This is what Mark Lui, a biking enthusiast since his high school years, promised his girlfriend Anna when he encouraged her to hit roads of the city the jungle to get to work. Though Anna knows how to bike, she was hesitant to brave the city roads alone. Then one day, Mark Lui surprised her with a personalized bike he assembled just for her and promised her he would not let her bike alone.

Since then, biking has become one of their bonding activities, aside from it being their regular form of exercise. Being an experienced biker, Mark Lui taught Anna the basics of biking and road safety. Their first city ride was in Sta. Mesa, with Anna following behind Mark Lui. Soon, they were biking together in rough road trails like Wawa Dam in Montalban, Rizal. Their Sundays are bonding days riding their bikes and going places. Now braver to face the city’s roads, Anna is now able to bike to work within Metro Manila, of course, with Mark Lui.  For Anna, biking has and continues to play an important part in their relationship.

Bike for a better world
Also a spokesperson for biking advocacy group “Bikers Unite”, Mark Lui emphasizes that biking can change the society through (1) improved air quality (drastic reduction of carbon emissions), (2) reduced traffic congestion, and (3) proper utilization (and conservation) of natural resources, as there is lesser need for raw materials in production like steel and rubber as compared to cars , (4) lastly, it is very economic as people would not spend a huge chunk of their budget for vehicle fare. If more people would bike to work or school on a daily basis, better road situations and environment are undoubtedly possible.
While being positive about biking’s many benefits, his group also laments current biking and transportation conditions in the country. One major problem is that roads particularly in Metro Manila are not bike friendly.

Notable concerns are inadequate bike lanes which make biking in major thoroughfares accident-prone (and/or lack of proper implementation of related laws), and lack of trees alongside roads which lessen the heat of sunlight. Aside from creating more bike lanes and planting trees on roadsides, their group also calls for improvement of existing mass transport system (trains) that would enable people to bring their bikes inside.

lakbay1

Lessons on life and environment from “Lakbay2Love”

Sunday, 14 February 2016 | Written by
lakbay1

 

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When your passion for a good cause meets the things and people you love, you know you are travelling the right road…or trail, in this case.

Such is the backdrop of the country’s first bike-themed movie “Lakbay2Love” produced by Erasto films, directed by Ellen Ongkeko Marfil. As the title suggests, it is a romantic coming of age independent film on the journey to life and love. More than just your usual love flick, the film was used as an instrument to enlighten viewers on the current global climate crisis, through the lens of popular culture. Very rarely does Philippine cinema create materials that tackle social issues such as environment protection. Through common elements of recovering from a heartache, falling in love and finding oneself, but with a strong message to protect the environment, the film has the perfect chemistry of true love.

The story is set after typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan’s destruction. It revolves around the journey of French-Filipino videographer Lianne to life and love.

Portrayed by Solenn Heusaff, Lianne confronts her love woes after a break up with long time boyfriend Maki, played by actor Kit Thomson. Needing to stop her depression, she embarks on a project tackling biking and environment. She meets forester and biking enthusiast Jay-R (Dennis Trillo) who challenges her to experience how the love for biking can make one deepen love for nature.

While slowly recovering from her heartaches through biking and discovering the beauty of life through nature, she develops a special friendship with Jay-R. Later, her ex-boyfriend Maki (Kit Thomson) returns and tries to win her love back. The three travel their connected lives mostly on eco-trails, riding their bikes, along with other bikers. Having traveled the scenic nature spots like La Mesa Ecopark, Rizal, Bulacan and Benguet, Lianne discovers love for environment and herself, which is enough to fuel her journey to life.

At the first public screening of the movie held in University of the Philippines Diliman, Director Ellen Marfil shared that her inspiration for the movie was her own advocacy in environmental conservation. She said she wanted to expose her son to the beauty of outdoor life. Through her mountaineer and biker friends, she realized that if we do not start to act, our children will no longer see nature’s beauty the way we see it now.

Marfil said “Lakbay2Love” is her contribution to raising awareness on environment conservation.

The movie had an exceptional “green carpet premier,” on the grass grounds of UP Diliman Ampitheater, preceded by a symbolic bike ride led by the cast including Dennis Trillo and Solenn Heusaff. They were joined by 200 bikers from different groups notably Firefly Brigade and UP Bike Share. Most of the bikers wore statement shirts or that say “share the road”, “I bike for cleaner air.” According to the organizers, the event is the first-ever bike-concert and outdoor premier movie screening in the country.

 

The journey to a cleaner and better world

Global warming brings drastic changes in temperature, climate and weather and adversely affects biodiversity, forest cover, water supply, agriculture, health, and ultimately, our people’s lives. The film was inspired by the lessons that Filipinos learned from Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan. After Haiyan struck in 2013, the Philippines has been listed as top country affected by climate change in the Global Climate Risk Index.

The much-hyped Conference of Parties (COP) 21 in Paris last year failed to come up with a long-delayed climate protocol that imposes obligated, quantified, and ambitious emissions cuts on industrialized countries and their corporations, according to Leon Dulce of environment group Kalikasan PNE.

In Metro Manila, traffic congestion and pollution worsens day by day. Transportation sector’s emission alone accounts for 15% of the greenhouse gasses (GHGs) globally. Given this situation, it’s time to rethink national policies to make mass transportation more efficient, and make biking one of the specific alternatives.

Lakbay2Love ‘hugot lines’ and lessons

The movie is a powerful eye-opener about the worsening climate crisis. Through cheesy, but meaningful “hugot lines”, viewers can directly relate feelings of romantic love to love for the environment.

Here are some of the winning hugot lines or messages that were conveyed in the movie:

  1. “When the world is crumbling in on you, love may find you a new trail.”

Though not mentioned by the actors, Erasto films use this tag line in their media materials. This is actually the gist of the movie – with the help of love (the special friendship with Jay-r, forgiving her ex and loving nature, Lianne finds a new and better life trail to ride.

The same hugot line can be applied to the climate crisis the world is suffering. More and more destructive typhoons and extreme weather events like Yolanda are happening across the globe, more and more countries are experiencing flooding and extreme drought, new and rare diseases are affecting people. We are losing lives because of worsening global warming brought about by unabated emission of green house gasses through the decades, particularly carbon dioxide.

However, if we discover the love for biking, we can do our part in reducing our carbon footprints. Biking, on the other hand burns no fossil fuels (only calories) to get you where you want to go. It is time that we consider taking the new trail, the better trail.????

  1. “Get lost in nature and you will find yourself.”

This is another motivational quote used by the production for promotion. Lianne searched for herself while exploring nature trails during filming. After getting lost literally in one bike ride with Jay-r, being engrossed in places to ride next, she finally finds herself. This also works for many bikers and nature lovers who use biking and love for environment to gather their selves together, think clearly and make life decisions while basking under the sun and tree shades and climbing/riding mountains.

  1. “I will not give her up. I will fight for her”

In the movie, Maki (Kit Thomson) tried to win back Lianne after he felt that she and Jay-r are developing feelings for each other. Though Maki did not win back Lianne and Jay-r did not actually battled it out with him, Maki fought for his love. We should actually be like Maki in fighting for our right to clean air, by riding our bikes and having safe bike lanes.

  1. “Thank you God! Ito ang mga dapat ini-Instagram, mga puno, bundok, skies…hindi yung mga bagong girlfiend” Lianne (Heusaff)

Need I say more?

  1. “If you want to change something, you have to fall in love.”

Speaking before the biking community, students, couples and other moviegoers, the film’s director said this beautiful line to express how falling in love with biking and nature can help change the world, one bike at a time.
“Lakbay2Love” is a powerful film that used the universal feeling to convey the strong message to love our environment, the planet we call our home. It is beautifully told through a journey (paglalakbay) of love for oneself, others, and our world.

The film had a week-long screening in selected theaters in Metro Manila from February 3-10. It will be also shown in other cities, provinces and schools around the country. For screening updates, follow their facebook account Lakbay2Love.

ambeth ocampo

TEDx Diliman and the world: exhibiting Filipino identity, paving paths of humanity

Wednesday, 4 November 2015 | Written by
ambeth ocampo

Very rarely do we see and hear people from different walks of life talk about things they are passionate about. Passions which have changed their lives and can change other people’s lives too. Thankfully, there are TED events all over the world.

TED event gathers significant individuals from different fields to feature their stories through short powerful short talks which aim to inspire people, and share meaningful ideas. It started in 1984 as a conference in California where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged. Today, it covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues and in more than 100 languages. Independently organised “TEDx” events help share ideas in communities around the world.

Last October 11, TEDx Diliman made its audience experience how Filipinos can inspire and make a difference for humanity by spreading good and powerful ideas.

Exhibiting Filipino identity 

Center for Art, New Ventures and Sustainable Development (Canvas), led by its executive director Gigo Alampay successfully organised TEDx Diliman 2015 for its fifth straight year. This year’s event, dubbed “Paths Less Travelled” fulfilled TED’s mission as a global community, bringing together people from every discipline and culture by exhibiting the Filipino identity.

The whole day event was divided into three sessions – Technology, Culture and Passions, which featured eleven individuals speaking under an intricate backdrop of paper-cut tree branches and leaves designed by artist Liza Flores

Canvas’ fine background in the arts and culture is an edge over other TEDx events in the country, enabling the organisation to showcase and deepen the Filipino national identity.

Some of the inspiring talks were the following:

Technology: Dr. Iris Isip Tan as social media doctor 

Being ‘hospitable’ sometimes takes a toll on us Filipinos. Because of our nature to people around us, we usually share our medical experiences, hoping that what cured helped us will also work for others. This practice of self-prescription and self-medication is definitely not advisable especially our health is at stake. Enter the crucial role of social media which makes sharing of information – either truth or false, much easier.

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With our country regarded as the social media capital of the world, ‘false information’ now proliferates in many platforms, endangering the public. Endocrinologist and UP College of Medicine professor Dr. Iris Isip-Tan shared how she used social media to educate people on health concerns and remind them that no ‘Googling’ and internet research will replace expert consultation of medical professionals.

waya araos

Culture: Chef Waya Araos-Wijangco’s life made special

A chef who became a teacher of children with special needs in the Open Hand School for Applied Arts, Araos-Wijangco shared how providing learning opportunities can empower other people. Open Hand School help provide children with special needs the skills they need for the real world, skills and training that enable them to work in normal places. She believes that work is a human right and has the power to transform, give dignity to all people, especially those with special needs. Her emotional talk ended with thoughts on humanity, justice and compassion that compel us to rethink how we see people with special needs. She said that we should not treat them differently, and by doing so, we create access, we create ramps in our hearts and minds for them to live a normal life. Quoting Mother Teresa, she asked the audience – “How do we love? We love in small things, with great love.”

Passion: Ambeth Ocampo on liberating ourselves from the past 

Speaking before the audience at a time when Filipinos were at the height of acclaiming the history-inspired film “Heneral Luna,” famed historian and professor Ambeth Ocampo, challenged the audience to transform our history as Filipinos by liberating ourselves from our past.

ambeth ocampo

Ocampo is known for his writings and publications that tell untold stories of our national heroes that expose the truth behind the textbook knowledge we have acquired in elementary school. As expected, he did not fail the audience, some of which are students, as he unmasked historical events that led to what we now are as a nation.

According to Ocampo, after Bonifacio’s death, there were supposedly two people who can lead the country to liberation – General Antonio Luna and Apolinario Mabini. Of course, viral social media posts of students who didn’t know why Mabini was in a wheelchair for the entire Heneral Luna film also reached Ocampo and was greatly disappointed with this. However, he hoped that with the success of Heneral Luna, a film on Mabini which would tell the hero’s story – his great mind and great love for the country would soon pursue.

While we know that history is the story of our past, Ocampo emphasized that it is the continuing story of our nation. He lamented that our governments after Aguinaldo have not changed, and that is the reason why we, as a nation, also did not change in the last 400 years. How, he asked? Because we tolerate improper acts. Aguinaldo became president because he did improper acts such as what transpired during the Tejeros convention. Ocampo says that “(in school) we were only told that the reason why the convention failed is because Andres Bonifacio was a hot-head, you are not told that there was cheating in elections, ballots were already written. We had dagdag-bawas in 1897, what else is new? How can we tell our children, and our children’s children that our forefathers cheated? It’s not in the textbooks but it should be there.” 

Ending his powerful speech, Ocampo debunked the idiom “history repeats itself.” Instead, he reminded the audience that as Filipinos, we should not forget our mistakes so that we will not repeat it. Our task is to stop repeating our historical mistakes which we can only do if we liberate ourselves from the past.”

Leading paths to humanity

All TED events are created to seek a deeper understanding of the world through free knowledge. It believes in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world. This year’s TEDx Diliman did not fail to connect its Filipino participants to the world not only through inspiring and powerful speakers but also with ideas that touch humanity, and expressed globally.

This was shown through videos of TED talks (from previous TED events in different countries) “Virtual Choir” and “Listening to People’s Stories.” The first is a story of how a musical conductor created a virtual global choir using the internet to sing a piece he composed. This is not a simple story of creating a group of people that could sing his work, but it is a story of how different faces and races can virtually come together to create wonderful music. This is a story of how music, a language which the entire humankind understands and relates with, can be a tool to unite a divided world.

The same concept also applies to the story of Dave Isay, creator of StoryCorp, an audio project that records the conversation of people interviewing each other about personal experiences and expressions of feelings.

StoryCorp has collected more than 50,000 stories of people which are archived in the Library of Congress’ American Folklife Center, constituting the largest single collection of recorded voices in history. Isay aims to record the most number of conversations of people all over the world to serve as an archive of human wisdom, of what makes us human. The gathered stories reflect and remind us that whoever we are, regardless of age, gender, and race, we know how to love and in Isay’s words – “we value every single life equally and infinitely.”

Canvas executive director Gigo Alampay culminated the event leaving the TED message to everyone: the belief in the “power of ideas, rewards in connection and these ideas lead to something good”, for the community, country and the world, one step at a time.

Photos by the author. Some rights reserved.

 

clean food

Eating Clean

Friday, 30 October 2015 | Written by
clean food


superfoods1Have you ever felt so relaxed and healthy that you can feel that you are in tune with your body? Have you experienced that feeling of lightness and cleanliness after a refreshing warm bath or a massage at the end of the day where all the stress is suddenly lifted? That’s exactly how you’ll feel when you nourish it with cleanfood – no guilt included, just all the good.

 

All of us are familiar with the Filipino idiom “Masarap ang bawal” which holds true for the food that we have grown up with – savoury meats like crispy patalechon, fried chicken, beef burger and desserts like ice cream, leche flan and even carbonated drinks. But notice that if our diet consist of  fatty, processed foods, our bodies feel heavy.

 

However, in today’s consumer-centric world that is exacerbated by food porn through social media, it is hard to resist temptations of these so-called “bad food.”  Processed foods, especially meat and dairy products are infused with hormones which can increase our irritability, making us more prone to stress. The said hormones also act as top allergens leading to acne breakouts, rashes, and other skin diseases.

We thought that only ‘senior’ people who have diseases like hypertension, diabetes, and heart problems should avoid these “bad foods.” But even younger people, some not even in their 40s, acquire these chronic lifestyle diseases, some even suffer from stroke or heart attacks.

In fact, data from the Department of Health shows that 276 Filipinos die of heart attack each day, and one die of stroke every minute. This is very disturbing and we must take action before it strikes us or our loved ones. Prevention of such diseases and improving public health starts our battle to eat clean.

clean food The bad in animal meats and fats

If we consult a doctor or a nutritionist about our diet, it is likely that we will be advised to cutback and if possible, avoid consuming foods that are high in cholesterol, saturated and monosatured fats.

People who are ‘watching’ their diet are likely to refrain from eating fatty and processed foods. But animal meat, without the fat, is retained in their diets believing that it is essential to the food pyramid. But Dr. Neil Barnard of the Physicians Committee on Responsible Medicine (PCRM) explained that even lean portions of meat, including white meat (from chicken and other poultry), contains cholesterol which can increase the body’s blood cholesterol levels.

Cholesterol is actually invisible but its particles are found in the membranes surrounding the cells of an animal’s body, which makes cholesterol present in all animal products. There is also loads of cholesterol in eggs, cheese, and shellfish, shrimp and lobster, says Barnard.

Meanwhile, “bad” fats such as saturated fat also found in meats, dairy products, eggs, and coconut and palm oils.  Another ‘bad fat is the transfat – partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) used in almost all instant, processed and packaged snack foods, including our donuts and other fastfood items and even powdered creamers. Excessive consumption of foods that are high in transfat is linked to fatal coronary heart diseases. In fact, the US Food and Drug Administration have  declared PHOs as not generally safe for use in food and has recently already banned transfat in food manufacturing.

Less sugar, less worries 

Our craving for junk food, including sugary food sets in when we are anxious or stressed. While it gives us instant gratification and sugar rush, a high-sugar diet has long-term consequences according to Dr. Robert Lustig, an endocrinologist and obesity expert at University of California.

Lustig says that sugar creates an appetite for itself by a determinable hormonal mechanism – a cycle that one could not break by sheer self-control. He argues that the hormone related to stress, cortisol, is partly to blame for our craving for sugar. “When cortisol floods the bloodstream, it raises blood pressure; increases the blood glucose level, which can precipitate diabetes. Human research shows that cortisol specifically increases caloric intake of ‘comfort foods’. High cortisol levels during sleep, for instance, interfere with restfulness, and increase the hunger hormone ghrelin the next day. This explains the feeling of “addiction” that we get when we eat foods high in sugar.

Lustig says sugar is a toxic substance which slowly “poisons” our body and makes us obese.

This is the reason why the US Department of Agriculture, in its recent Dietary Guidelines, has advised to cut down sugar consumption in half. Refined sugar and H.F.C.S. don’t have any protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants or fiber, and so they displace other nutritious elements of our diet or are eaten over and above what we need to sustain our weight, and this is why we get fatter, according to Lustig.

Lifestyle-related diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity and other life-threatening ailments such as cancer and Alzheimer’s disease are bigger threats to the entire world, than infectious diseases. These lifestyle diseases accounts for 35million deaths every year.

In 2011, there were 366 million diabetics in the world which accounts to 5 per cent of the population at that period. This number could reach up to 552 million by 2030 according to the International Diabetes Foundation.

These diseases are largely treatable and preventable through “regular exercise, a healthy diet and non-smoking” according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

refugees

Global Refugee Crisis endangering children and women 

Thursday, 17 September 2015 | Written by
refugees

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While others initially called the phenomenon a “migrant” crisis, it should be clear that they are refugees in every sense of the word brought about by the tragedy of wars of aggression in our current history. This is a humanitarian crisis affecting a large population of the world which cannot be addressed by pressing neighbouring countries to take the refugees, alone.

Different places in turmoil, one detrimental effect

The wars afflicting countries in the Middle East, Africa and even Central Asia have created more refugees now than at any time since the Second World War. Even survivors of the holocaust are reminded of the atrocities that forced them to run away from their homelands in order to survive. With the magnitude of displacement brought about by aggression and coercion, the refugee crisis is a repeat of history.

Before the massive exodus of Syrians, it took a long time before the world was able to notice the ongoing crisis of repression in a number of countries. It took one image of a lifeless innocent child lying face down on a shore not of his own, to spur concern from the entire world. The poor child was Alan Kurdi, a 2-year old boy from Syria who drowned after their (small) dinghy boat, which carried his family and other refugees, sank in the rough waters of Greece. Alan, his older brother, and their mother all died in the tragedy.

Since 2001, thousands have been leaving their countries which face the evils of war. But the numbers has grown three-fold today, when refugees have flooded the transport systems of nearby countries seeking shelter from hunger, destruction and death. In Iraq, more than three million have been displaced since December 2013. For Syria alone, four million have been displaced, since. A separate report from the United Nations put the number of Syrian refugees this year at more than a million, of which, around half are children.

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Women and children, who symbolise the succeeding generation of their peoples are most vulnerable victims in this global crisis. The conflicts has already claimed the lives of  220,000 according to the UN, including women and innocent young children; which makes little Alan, his brother  and mother just numbers.

Exploited women

Women have specific needs that need to be particularly addressed – they are mothers who bear the brunt of keeping her family together, of providing her children comfort amidst violence and uncertainty; there are pregnant women out there, distressed and in danger of giving birth prematurely; there are women who just gave birth, all scenarios putting them and their child at death’s outstretched arms. Meanwhile, physically lacking strength to defend their self, the threat of sexual attacks on women, including young girls is always present.

According to the Women Refugee Commission, women fleeing conflict and violence around the world are undertaking perilous journeys during which they are often raped and exploited – during the course of their travel and even when they have found a new shelter in another land. They pointed out that in every humanitarian crisis, women and girls are preyed upon. And yet, each time the humanitarian community and the governments that receive them fail to acknowledge and provide for their specific needs.

The Commission laments that women’s conditions are not emphasized in the news  and they are not prioritized in emergency response.  It accounted the women refugees experience in Italy, where the refugees were herded into detention facilities where women remain largely invisible. Meanwhile, out of desperation, women refugees who refused to be taken to camps in Hungary chose to walk more than a hundred miles toAustria with their families. An 18-year old female Syrian refugee in Hungary decried how they were discriminated and “treated like dogs.”

Stolen future 

Alan was not the only child who died while fleeing his war-torn country, many more precious lives were lost by drowning, hunger and fatigue while crossing borders. In fact, Alan was just one of the many children who drowned at that specific incident. After his photos circulated in the internet, photos of other children followed suit – but theirs were more hard to look at. Their gloomy faces and bloated bodies showed suffering in their last moments at sea, their last breathes struggling for life. But their photo did not have much impact to the world compared to Alan, who perhaps was the youngest in that boat, or the youngest photographed refugee who died in the crisis. Alan’s death have touched the hearts of many because his image tells the story of children trapped in wars – innocent, faceless, and silenced without struggle by the destruction the world has imposed upon them.

Being a refugee is unimaginable experience for the children whose young minds are distraught by the war in their country, and now face violence by state forces of the country they are seeking refuge to. There are countless accounts of police using brute force against refugees such as in the Greek border of Macedonia.

With the enormity of this crisis, the exact number of children refugees is hard to determine. Unless media will be able to capture images or put into record, we do not know how many of them are school-aged, toddlers, babies, or even helpless newborns.

Children are our hopes for our future, our hopes for a better world. But the atrocities of the global crisis has stolen hope from them. Even with their tender age and understanding, they have seen violence within and outside their motherland. War destroyed their homes, killed their father, and after running away from this, they are treated like lost and unwanted animals by a foreign country, herded away from safety they long for.

In any catastrophe, it is always the children and women, who suffer the most. The ongoing refugee crisis is another manifestation of how reigning global political powers has endangered their lives, and a test of how humanity will respond to end this suffering.

Images: One World, Refugees Welcome London March from Flickr.com. Some Rights Reserved.

tape-403595_1280

Losing Weight Through Fad Products: How Far Will You Go?

Tuesday, 18 August 2015 | Written by
tape-403595_1280

 

tape-403595_1280
Getting “sexy” has always been a fad. Society taught us that to be considered beautiful, one must be slim or thin. In fact, the consumerist economy has laid all its products right before our eyes that everywhere we are, we are lured to use these “weight loss supplements” – pills, drinks (in liquid or powder form, herbal teas, coffee, etc) stuff we can easily pop in our mouth our apply on our bodies (creams, lotions, soaps) as we go about our daily lives, while waiting for it to change our bodies.

 

But before you jump into the bandwagon, know the facts about the weight-loss fad.

 

Weight loss products or supplements are medically used to treat obesity. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), being overweight and obese is defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health. A crude population measure of obesity is the body mass index (BMI), a person’s weight (in kilograms) divided by the square of his or her height (in metres). A person with a BMI of 30 or more is generally considered obese. A person with a BMI equal to or more than 25 is considered overweight. People with obesity are prone to a number of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular illnesses and cancer.

 

Last July, 19 year-old beauty pageant contestant Mary Antoniette Acedo from Davao died due to overdose of slimming pills. Acedo took more than the advised dosage of the pills she brought online. Thinking it will hasten the weight loss effects, she took 4 pills a day.  She then immediately suffered from severe stomach ache, diarrhea and vomiting. Only slim, svelte women are accepted in beauty pageants. Acedo, who previously joined other pageants, was only 40 kilos before she took the pills but was still pressured to reduce her weight, in the hope that would increase her winning chances.

 

Acedo is not the only young woman unaware of the adverse effects of slimming products to non-obese persons. In fact, because of its availability in the market (most are sold over the counter in groceries and drug stores) many people have come to think that taking weight loss supplements is just as normal as taking vitamin supplements. We are unaware that these products must be taken with prescription and guidance of doctors.

 

Though Acedo would not have died if she followed the right dosage, weight loss products pose greater danger than the “positive” results they promise because they are easily abused. Hiding in the guise of seemingly legitimate and non-harmful claims such as “clinically safe and effective”, “speed up metabolism”, these products are marketed in a way that the consumer would be encouraged to buy more so as to increase the efficacy.

 

Here are other reasons why you should rethink using weight loss products:

 

  • Uncertain efficacy

An over the counter weight loss pill must be able to reduce 5% or more of the patient’s weight to be deemed clinically effective to reduce the risks of diseases linked to obesity, according to online health resource Mayo Clinic. This means that if your weight loss from your prescription drug has not reached 5% despite being coupled with adequate physical activity and better diet, you are just wasting money.

 

The United States Food and Drug Administration have issued a warning for consumers who fall for the marketing claims of these products promising “miracle weight loss.” FDA also found hundreds of products marketed as dietary supplements but actually contain hidden active ingredients (components that make a medicine effective against a specific illness) contained in prescription drugs, unsafe ingredients in drugs that have been removed from the market, or compounds that have not been adequately studied as safe for use by humans.

 

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  • Grand money-making scheme

WHO reports that obesity is one of the world’s neglected public health concern; a social and environmental disease which is now a worldwide epidemic. It was once considered a problem only in high-income countries, but today, overweight and obesity are now dramatically rising in low-and middle-income countries, particularly in urban settings. In 1995, there were an estimated 200 million obese adults worldwide and another 18 million under-five children classified as overweight. As of 2000, the number of obese adults has increased to over 300 million. The obesity epidemic is not restricted to industrialized societies; in developing countries, it is estimated that over 115 million people suffer from obesity-related problems.

 

According to the Harvard School of Public Health, obesity is largely caused by poor diets; too little physical activity and sleep; unhealthy food choices and toxic environment where access to or food choices and physical activity is limited. But primarily, it is triggered by getting too much calories than what the body burns. All these high-calorie and processed food all around us — from Western fast-food joints, sodas and juices with excessively high sugar content, instant food and canned goods that we grab at the grocery, making it tough to make healthy choices. It is ironic that we are made to believe that for poor people, a can of sardines and a pack of instant noodles is the better choice than steamed indigenous vegetables like okra, talbos ng kamote which are definitely cheaper and free (it can grow in our backyards) and contain much more nutrients without added calories.

 

To make matters worse, we do not have a lot of safe and conducive areas for physical activities because we are cramped between tall buildings, malls, and infinite vehicles. Simply put, anyone can get obese by eating high calorie and unhealthy food and not burning it.

 

With these in mind, it is easy to presume that all the fad on weight loss products is just a part of the big money-making web in a capitalist economy that gets its lifeblood from an obese and consumerist-deceived society.

 

A reminder to everyone – being slim or sexy is not a matter of looking good to please others but being fit (read: physically fit and healthy). For obese people, remember that obesity is primarily a health problem rather than aesthetic concern. How far will you go to lose unwanted weight? The answer is simple and just lies within yourself — go for the best (proven safe and effective) choices. Choose the real thing and get real results by working for it through proper exercise and healthy dietary options.

 

Images: Slimming Pills and Weight Loss from Pixabay.com. Some rights reserved.

 

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Misconceptions on being Vegetarian

Saturday, 25 July 2015 | Written by
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Continued from Part 1

1) Not getting enough protein (and or other nutrients)

One consistent question posed to vegetarians is where they get their protein source. Since the norm is that meat is the main source of protein, people who are not aware of plant-based nutrition have a hard time understanding that a person can get his/her protein from different kinds of plants. From a vegetarian’s logic, it’s like asking where did pre-historic herbivore dinosaurs, hippopotamus and giraffes get theirs?

 

Seriously, skeptics, including health professionals (including dieticians, nutritionists and doctors) who were trained by Western medicine and science do not recommend taking meat out of our plates. However, thanks to progressive and alternative scientific medicine studies, this protein misconception has been debunked. There is a growing number of athletes and body builders who rely on a vegetarian, or even a vegan diet.

 

Some protein powerhouses are legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas and nuts), spinach (7 grams in 1 cup), pili nuts (14.2 grams in 100 grams) and plant-based “superfoods” such as chia seeds (4g in 2 tbsp) and spirulina (4g in 1 tbsp). These super foods give a protein boost to meals and even drinks. Mushrooms also contain a modest amount of protein but is especially unique because it has anti-bacterial, anti-viral properties and anti-cancer properties.

 

Non-vegetarian people also don’t know that calcium can be sourced without taking animal milk. Even the government health department keep on advising us to drink milk for calcium without informing us that there are indigenous vegetables and fruits which, cheaper, and safer sources. Nurturers of the Earth, a support group for earth-friendly parenting and lifestyle enumerates indigenous vegetables as excellent sources of calcium such as malunggay (leaves and fruit contain 4 time more calcium than milk), saluyot (4g of in 100g), and even the ever present sweet potato (kamote).

 

To get all the required nutrients on a plant-based diet,  the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) advises people to follow the power plate: divide the plate into four equal parts, one part for different fruits, second part for a variety of vegetables, one for grains and cereals (as carbohydrate source) and the last part for legumes (beans).

 

A vegetarian diet free of all animal products (vegan) is full of anti-oxidants which keep our bodies disease-free, it provides all essential nutrients except Vitamin B12, which is produced in the intestines of animals. However PCRM says it can still be sourced from vegetarian sources such as fortified soymilk, fortified meat analogues and nutritional yeast. Vitamin B12 supplements and any multiple vitamin supplement can also be taken to ensure meeting complete nutritional needs.

 

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2) Beans = uric acid = arthritis attack

When they are advised to go on a vegetarian diet, older people immediately hesitate or shrug off the suggestion because of the fear that beans, one of the top vegetarian main source of protein is a culprit for arthritis.

 

According to Lifestyle Medicine Specialist Dr. Johann Kim Mañez, this is just a common misconception because scientifically, the protein in beans alone do not cause one person’s uric acid to shoot. Instead, it is the meat consumption coupled with eating beans which makes some people have arthritis attacks. Thus, it is definitely safe for those with arthritis to eat beans provided that the recipe does not have any meat ingredient. Lifestyle medicine is a growing branch of medicine involved in prevention and reversion of chronic lifestyle diseases by recommending lifestyle change such as shifting to a vegan diet.

 

3) Challenging norms 

Becoming a vegetarian is not just changing what one eats but how one views what is being eaten and how this affects not just his/her own lifestyle but the society’s as well. In this sense, becoming a vegetarian challenging society’s norms.

As Jaq was transitioning to become a vegetarian, she kept on researching about the condition of animals raised to become food. Everyday, she was convinced that there is no place for these gentle animals to be on her plate. She then learned that the animal agriculture is also a main contributor to the destruction of the environment. A vegan for two years now, she says that she maintains this lifestyle not only for her health but for the animals and the planet.

Nancy shares that people were raised eating animals or their secretions (and by-products) believing that it is “normal”. She challenges them to think about killing a cow or a chicken or a pig themselves so they could have dairy or eggs or meat.  If they can not do it, one already believes in the principle behind the ethics of veganism. She adds that it is a misconception to think that we chose to eat animals since we didn’t really choose it; we were just born to believe this was the norm. Nancy challenges everyone to see the real picture behind the production of animal meat, how lives are treated as mere food on tables; to be a witness and then after knowing the information, make a choice.

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4) Boring food 

Contrary to first impressions, a no-meat menu is not boring, or “lifeless” so to speak. Aside from our Filipino vegetable comfort foods such aspinakbet, ginataang gulay, dinendeng, laing, vegetarians enjoy countless plant-based recipes which are readily available in many sites online. Vegetarians don’t have to miss out on the flavours of meat dishes such as adobo, caldereta, bistek , burgers etc. that they grew up with, because all of these can be “vegetarianized or veganized”, by using plant-based substitutes such soy products (tofu, tempeh, etc.)  veggie meat, and a combination of mushrooms and beans. For those who have sweet tooth, there are also vegan (no egg, no dairy, and made using organic sugar) goodies such as cookies, cakes, and even ice cream!

 

There are countless ways to make vegetarian life exciting and one can easily access these through blogs, social media pages and communities. There is also a growing number of vegetarian food deliveries and cafes. To help others reclaim their health as what she did after being a vegan, Lakapati created her blog and kitchen Kusina ni Lakapati where keeps and shares her recipes of raw vegan and veganized food. She also accepts food orders including green smoothies and raw banana chewies for dessert.

 

Jaq also shares her healthy vegan food to others through Jertie’s Kitchen, a food business she shares with her sister Jertie.  It is one of the first vegan and gluten-free food companies in the country, and is now giving workshops and seminars on healthy living.

 

5) Going vegetarian is expensive 

Some people think that going on an all-vegetable and fruit diet means buying expensive imported and/or organic produce. This is not true because there are countless indigenous fruits and vegetables one can get from the palengke or talipapa, or even from the neighbor’s backyard such as malunggay and papaya. Shifting to plants is in fact more budget-friendly as a kilo of one type of  meat is equal to a kilo of 2-3 different kinds of vegetables.

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Tips 

Vegetarianism for any of the three reasons mentioned earlier, is a lifestyle and not a fad weight-loss diet. Prab says that this lifestyle entails criticism from many people so one should not bother becoming a vegetarian if he/she does it just for kicks. A person should be serious and committed about transforming and living this plant-based, healthy and pro-environment lifestyle.

  • Information is key!

 

There  are countless myths and misconceptions on vegetarianism, but in this age of technology, research is one click away. search for nutrient facts in vegetables, grains and fruits and you’ll be amazed how power-packed they are compared to meat. Watch videos on how the animals suffer to become meat in our tables. Read articles on how animal-raising produces dangerous greenhouse gas that slowly kill the planet which we call our home and learn how unsustainable this industry is. Join vegetarian communities to learn the experiences and thoughts of like-minded people, and you’ll also get their support even if you are just transitioning or planning to go to transition.

  • You can do it gradually.

 

Wanting to reverse her many illnesses, Jaq changed her lifestyle and eating habits. It took her 3 years of slowly taking away meat and other animal products from her diet. Prab agrees to this gradual transition and recommends heavy meat-eaters, (except for those with serious health conditions) to slowly increase their vegetable and fruit consumption. He warns that those without strong commitment and self-control can fall into a “relapse” where after being vegetarian, one will come back to meat-eating because he/she terribly misses its taste. Using meat substitutes can also help those in the transition period. They can be found in health stores and vegetarian cafes, some supermarkets, Chinese stores and Adventist stores.

  • Be creative

 

More often than not, a complete vegetarian meal is hard to find in the fast-food dominated outdoors. This is why learning how to cook is a major essential in a vegetarian lifestyle. But this should not be hard as there are countless recipes available online. The secret to vegetarian cooking is creativity, where your skill to substitute plants and plant-based products for meat will be tested. A stash of different spices will help you whip up that perfect and complete meat-free dish. To liven up your menu, Jaq also suggests that you keep nutritional yeast (as cheese substitute or as vitamin B12 boost in any dish) and chilli in your pantry.

 

  • Try to involve your family

 

Like with any endeavor, it is crucial to have your family as a support group. Though you can have a circle of vegetarian friends at your back, Prab says that if your family is not supportive of your vegetarian goals, they can be the cause of your failure. Encourage them to join you for your reasons, which are all for everyone’s good.  ###

 

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Where to get good food: a look at affordable organic food sources

Sunday, 19 July 2015 | Written by
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IMG_20150712_115545Modern times and developing technology have taught us to eat a lot of processed food and chemical-laden produce, which have affects our health. These days, more and more people are drawn to buying organic food. However because using chemicals and food processing is cheaper for mass production, organic options can be costly in the market.

But thanks to a growing number of environmentally and health-conscious small entrepreneurs, having affordable, safe, organic food on our tables is now possible. Here is a list of some organic growers and sellers, as well as market hubs where you can get your good food:

  1. Weekend markets

Organic vegetables and fruits as well as other food choices are available in these once in a week markets:

  • Ayala Alabang Village Market
  • AANI Organic Market in Alabang
  • Sidcor Market in Centris in Quezon City
  • Salcedo Market in Makati
  • Legazpi Market in Makati

 

  1. Online stores

To make organic produce easily available for busy people, there are online stores like Homegrown Organics which deliver greens for salads, different herbs and other vegetables and fruits right at your doorstep.

 

  1. Eco Farms

To share the goodness and advocacy of going green, some organic farms open their place for clients. They let you experience harvesting your chosen produce and see how they operate the farm. Like Luntiang Republika Eco-Farms in Alfonso, Cavite which offers accommodation for short vacation at their farm. Aside from vegetables and fruits, Luntiang Republika also has a wide variety of other organic food and bottled goods such as herbal juices, coconut vinegars, bottled sardines, bottled laing which they sell in bazaars and serve to their guests in the farm.

 

  1. One-stop shops

There are also one-stop shop stores which carry fresh produce and also serve it as meals, such as Echostore Market & Cafe which has four branches in Metro Manila and two branches in Cebu and Davao, respectively. Sibol People’s Shop and Cafe in Quezon City, also provides fresh greens, goods and cooked food. The store is a project of Sibat, a non-governmental organization engaged in the promotion and development of appropriate technology (AT) for village-level sustainable development in the country.

 

Community Shared Agriculture

When buying organic food is not enough because you want to spread the goodness to farmers who produce your food, you can also choose to be a part of a social enterprise like Good Food Community (GFC). By making their customers co-producers or stakeholders, GFC operates its community shared agriculture program in its efforts to create a sustainable society. The program works by having people subscribe or contribute to the program, which will support farming operations. Subscribers or stakeholders receive regular fresh organic shares of the harvest.

 

In the process, GFC is helping farmers in three partner organisations – Bauko Organic Practitioners Association in Mountain Province, La Organica Farmers Association in La Trinidad, Benguet and Capas Organic Farmers and Producers Cooperative in Tarlac. The last organisation was created by GFC in cooperation with Sibat.

 

To spread the advocacy and share good food with more people, GFC created Good Food Sundays, a weekend market-type of event in Uno Morato, Quezon City to be a meet up place for sellers and the public. GFC sells fresh vegetables for meals, salads and juices/smoothies at an affordable price. A pack of cucumbers, carrots, lemons are sold at P220/kg, sayote at P40/kg, and black organic rice at P100/kg. There are other booths which also sell bottled and cooked organic food.

 

Indigenous food

But did you know that you actually don’t need to go far to find really affordable organic vegetables and fruits?  The cheapest but very nutritious organic produce can grow in our backyards, a bounty we call indigenous food.

 

According to Nurturers of the Earth founder and executive director Nona Andaya-Castillo, indigenous foods are nature’s potent medicines with many healing properties that cannot be found in imported and processed foods. She explains that nature’s rhythm based on the country’s climate and seasons creates food that is appropriate for the human body. For example, nature produces succulent vegetables and fruits to provide extra water needed during the summer season. During rainy season, fruits that are sour (high in Vitamin C to strengthen the immune system against cough and colds) or contain healthy fats (to keep us warm) grow, while leafy vegetables are available whole year round.

To identify these, Andaya-Castillo shares some tips:

  • Vegetables and fruits that do not have translation in local dialects are not indigenous, such as potatoes and carrots. Examples of indigenous vegetables are malunggay, alugbati, saluyot, and gabi.
  • These traditional or indigenous foods grow abundantly without needing chemical inputs for fertilizers and pesticides, which makes it the best choice for our health and the environment.

The movement for a greener and healthier agriculture is slowly growing. However, there is much more to be done to ensure that organic food is made available to everyone. There are still major challenges in the production and distribution of organic crops such as lack of government support and expensive certification process. With this in mind, advocates are calling for a legislation which seeks means to improve the participatory guarantee system towards making organic food more affordable at all times.

 

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Journey to Vegetarianism (Part 1 of 2)

Sunday, 28 June 2015 | Written by
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vegetablesWho doesn’t love food? It feeds our hungry stomachs to power our daily activities, makes an enjoyable bonding activity with friends and loved ones, and most of all…it is delicious.

Aside from satiating our hunger and pleasure, many of us are unaware of the facts involving our food choices. More often than not, we are not conscious of the health, environmental and (compassion) issues our menu comes with. We have been raised thinking that animal meat is an essential part of a diet, but the adage “you are what you eat” is true for those who have gained the knowledge from reality and facts and have made their choice to lessen or remove dead animals from their plates.

Types of vegetarians

The following are the kinds of vegetarians:

  • VeganVegans are considered pure vegetarians as they do not do not consume any animal products or by-products such as eggs and dairy, and honey. Vegans put high importance on the principle of animal rights. This explains their choice of not using animal products such as silk, leather and wool, as well.
  • Lacto Vegetarian: Lacto-vegetarians do not eat red or white meat, fish, fowl or eggs. However, lacto-vegetarians consume dairy products (cheese, milk and yogurt)
  • Ovo Vegetarian: Ovo-vegetarians do not eat red or white meat, fish, fowl or dairy products. However, ovo-vegetarians consume egg products.
  • Lacto-ovo vegetarian: Combination of lacto and ovo vegetarian.
  • Pescatarian (Pescetarian): While technically not a type of vegetarian, these individuals restrict their meat consumption to fish and seafood only. Pescatarians do not consume red meat, white meat or fowl. This is considered a “semi-vegetarian” diet.
  • Flexitarian – Also considered a semi-vegetarian diet with occasional meat item on the menu. Is not technically considered a vegetarian but is given the commendation for effort.

Reasons for change in diet

Health

There have been numerous studies which prove that 70% of all diseases including one-third of all cancers, are related to diet. A vegetarian diet reduces the risk for chronic degenerative diseases such as obesity, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and certain types of cancer including colon, breast, prostate, stomach, lung and esophageal cancer.

Nona Andaya-Castillo was a meat-lover who confessed to detest vegetables when she was young, thinking that  She grew up helping her mother raise and slaughter poultry and swine, some of which were sold and some were for their consumption. She enjoyed all kinds of meat recipes, especially those brimming with fat, like sinigang and lechon kawali.  She also had her generous helpings of dairy because her father worked in an ice cream company. Her food choice took a toll on her shortly after getting married, when she was going in and out of the hospital for diseases such as uterine bleeding, hepatitis A and malaria. She had 12 other recurring illnesses which only disappeared when she decided to go on a vegan diet. She was also able to help cure her husband who previously had episodes of heart attack, by turning him also as a vegan. Now on her 24th year of being a vegan, she strongly advocates natural lifestyle and parenting, with an emphasis on eating indigenous vegetables and fruits.

Before becoming vegans, Jaq Abergas and Lakapati Basa also had health problems. Jaq had such as acid reflux, pre-diabetes condition, and polycsystic ovaries while Lakapati also has reflux and was battling obesity. To combat their illnesses, Jaq started taking meat slowly off her diet (becoming flexitarian), while Lakapati committed to a plant-based high in raw food diet.

 

Compassion

Nancy Siy, stopped eating animals in 2009, when she was a yoga newbie. Practicing yoga enabled her to change her emotional-self, she was “healed” from all the anger and found a new dimension in everyday life. Her background on the yoga would lead her to becoming a more compassionate human being.

She then stumbled on an article on how animals were slaughtered to be food on our table. Her research would lead her to find out that every year, 6 million animals are slaughtered inhumanely. Upon realising animal suffering, immediately decided to change her eating habits -overnight. In one month, she became a committed vegan.

Later, she would learn of Jivamukti Yoga and find that veganism complements the tenets of Jivamukti on ahimsa (non harming) and compassion for all beings. Now, she is a certified Jivamukti yoga instructor, trained by founders worldwide. She advocates her practice by teaching yoga (and giving free classes) to vegans and non-vegans. She also leads the social network community Manila Vegans which supports vegans and aspiring vegans in their food choices and lifestyle.

 

Environment
As population in the world continue to surge, causing the need for more energy and food, we are faced by the crisis of climate change. By 2050, experts predict a population of 9.1 billion. If all of these people follow a western diet rich in meat and dairy products – which is unsustainable according to a report from United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) international panel of sustainable resource management; we will face the worst impacts of climate change.

According to the report, “production of meat and dairy products accounts for 70% of global freshwater consumption, 38% of the total land use and 19% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions (generates more pollution than transportation). Animal products cause more damage than [producing] construction minerals such as sand or cement, plastics or metals. Biomass and crops for animals are as damaging as [burning] fossil fuels.”

As one measure, UNEP urged a worldwide diet change, away from animal products – or making the shift towards veganism.

(To be continued)

 

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What Women Need (to know about Cervical Cancer)

Saturday, 30 May 2015 | Written by
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Women play an important role in our families and society. They are our mothers and sisters who nurture children and homes. When women who are in their most productive years get sick, the entire family is affected not only economically but also emotionally and psychologically.

 

Cervical cancer is one of the world’s deadliest cancers in women, claiming the lives of about 270,000 each year, 85% of which are from developing countries, according to the World Health Organization. It commonly affects women who are in their productive years — aged 30 and above. In the Philippines, 12 Filipinas die of this disease each day, as per government data.

 

It is disheartening that our women could have protection and assurance to longer and quality health if the cancer is detected in its early stage, since cervical cancer is highly preventable. Health authorities say that with early diagnosis and proper treatment, the success rate of those affected with cervical cancer is at ninety percent.

 

This month, health institutions and women around the world observe the Cervical Cancer Prevention Awareness Month. Let all of us be informed on how we can save ourselves, and the women in our lives from this deadly disease.

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Basic facts

Cervical cancer affects the entrance to the uterus or the womb, often referred to as the neck of the uterus. Cancer cells grow in the cervix due to different risk factors, but the highest risk, accounting for 90%, is caused by the affected by the human papilloma virus (HPV) which is sexually transmitted. At high risk are those who had/have multiple partners and those who had first sexual contact at early age. Since HPV is sexually transmitted, it is important to note that a woman can acquire HPV even if she only had one sexual partner.

 

But having cervical cancer does not mean that a woman acquired this through sexual practices, there are other risk factors such as smoking, giving birth at a young age, several pregnancies and a weak immune system. Studies also cite long term use of contraceptive pills, long-term mental stress and genetic factors.

 

Cervical cancer is asymptomatic in the initial stage, which means the woman may not feel any symptoms during its development which may take 10 to 15 years. Symptoms for the developed stages include persistent pain in the pelvic area, painful intercourse, abnormal vaginal discharge,

 

 

Defense against cervical cancer

 

WHO strongly advises women, 21 years and above, particularly those who have engaged in sexual intercourse at an early age to undergo annual pap smear and cervical cancer screenings once in 3 to 5 years. The screening is done through VIA (visual inspection using acetic acid). Acetic acid will be applied to the cervix and will be then observed for changes such as appearance of pre-cancer lesions.

 

As protection, the WHO recommends women to be vaccinated against HPV. There are different types of HPV vaccine which can be given to females as early as 9 years old.

 

The Department of Health has a program of vaccinating Grade 4 female pupils aged 9 to 13, the age bracket where the HPV vaccine is considered most effective because girls at this age are not yet sexually active. The DOH also provided free HPV screenings as part of its prevention awareness campaign.

 

Eating healthy can also greatly reduce the risk of the disease. According to Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), consumption of fruits and vegetables that are high in antioxidants reduces the risk of cervical cancer.

 

Researchers found that women with HPV induced lesions (seen at the initial stage) who consumed more antioxidants reduced their chances of developing cancer. These particular beneficial antioxidants are α-carotene, found in pumpkins and carrots, and ß- cryptoxanthin, which is found in pumpkin, sweet red peppers, and papaya.

Images: Girls and Women from Flickr.com. Some rights reserved.


 

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