Wake Up, Philippines!

1 in 4 Filipinos has high blood pressure

Posted in Uncategorized by Erineus on April 3, 2010

More Filipinos are at risk from lifestyle-related diseases, according to a survey conducted by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) of the Department of Science and Technology (DoST).

Recent results of the National Nutrition and Health Survey (NNHeS II) FNRI showed that more Filipinos have hypertension, high fasting blood sugar, and high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which are risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and other lifestyle-related diseases.

They found out that one in every four Filipino adults (25.3 percent) has hypertension or a blood pressure (BP) reading equal to or higher than 140/90 millimeter mercury (mmHg), a significant increase in the prevalence of hypertension. In 2008, the prevalence of hypertension increased to 25.3 percent from 22.5 percent in 2003.

Moreover, the survey revealed that 11 in every 100 Filipinos (10.8 percent) have pre-hypertension or a BP reading at the range of 130-139/85-89 mmHg. This becomes alarming as high BP increases with age starting from age 40-49 years.

Meanwhile, five in every 100 Filipinos have high fasting blood sugar (FBS), which is indicative of diabetes mellitus. The prevalence increased from 3.4 percent in 2003 to 4.8 percent in 2008. The prevalence of high FBS or hyperglycemia peaks at age 50-59 years.

The survey also showed that three in every 100 Filipinos have impaired fasting glucose (IFG). If not prevented, IFG may develop to diabetes mellitus.

The cases of people with dyslipidemia or abnormal lipid levels, on the other hand, increased from 2003 to 2008.

The survey showed that one in every 10 (10.2 percent) Filipino adults has high total cholesterol level, while 21 in every 100 (21.2 percent) Filipinos are on the borderline high level.

FNRI also discovered that 15 in every 100 (14.6 percent) Filipinos have high triglyceride level, while 16 in every 100 (15.5 percent) are borderline high.

The prevalence of low high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-c) level increased from 54.2 percent in 2003 to 64.1 percent in 2008.

In contrast, the prevalence of high low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-c) level did not change much, from 11.7 percent in 2003 to 11.8 percent in 2008.

A person is considered to have a low HDL-c level if the fasting blood measurement is less than 40 mg/dl while a high LDL-c level of the fasting blood measurement is greater than or equal to 160 mg/dl.

These are all major risk factors to lifestyle-related diseases, specifically cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus, and cancer which are the leading causes of death in the country.

To prevent these diseases, people must have a healthy lifestyle. The Technical Working Group of the FNRI produced a nutritional guideline for Filipinos. The group said that smoking and drinking alcoholic beverages are major habits which should be removed in order to start a healthy lifestyle.

They also recommend eating more fruits, vegetables, root crops, and legumes, which are sources of fiber. Fiber can help the body in many ways as it decreases the cholesterol level, prolongs the response of our body to blood glucose levels, and limits the intake of salty foods in our system.


Supreme Court lenient with erring judges

Posted in Uncategorized by Erineus on May 22, 2009

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:23:00 05/22/2009

Chief Justice Reynato Puno may be mistaken. The oligarchs do not rule. But they hold sway because corrupt executive, legislative and judicial officials do business with them. Let us not demonize the tycoons because they are simply forced to play by the dirty rules of our officials.

Our officials have made a mockery of the constitutional prescription that “Public office is a public trust.” For them public office is for private gain.

The Chief Justice should spend less time going around the country, mobilizing the “moral force.” He should spend more time focusing on his turf and he should realize that much more has to be done to make the judiciary the model government institution that it should be.

One thing he should not do is protect his justices and judges from criminal prosecution for the grievous wrongs that they have committed. For instance, recently we read of a judge who was simply dismissed for extorting P30,000 from a litigant. But his stenographer, the bag man (who presumably was acting upon the orders of the judge), was not only dismissed but also recommended for criminal prosecution. The judge should have been prosecuted and the stenographer made state witness.

In another case, Court of Appeals Justice Vicente Roxas, who was accused of committing improprieties in the Meralco case, was simply dismissed while Francis de Borja was referred to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution for merely trying to broker a P10-million bribe to Court of Appeals Justice Jose Sabio who was being asked to inhibit himself from the case. De Borja should have been made a state witness.



The adventure has gotten even bigger

Posted in Uncategorized by Erineus on May 2, 2009
May 2, 2009, 11:45am

It all began when a group of American zoologists were working as consultants for a project in China back in the late 1990s. Just when the project was set to finish by the end of the decade, one of the zoologists, Tim Desmond, went on a tour of the Subic Freeport Zone in the Philippines. He was pretty impressed by what he saw.

“We toured the West Ilanin Forest, which was the perfect setting for a marine park. It’s situated in Subic Bay, which means it’s protected from the rough waters of the China Sea, especially during stormy weather. And the backdrop is acres and acres of forests,” he recalled.

Tim Desmond noted that setting up a marine park in Subic would also serve a purpose. It would be the ideal home for the animals they had in China. . “As we were wrapping up the job, the people from Subic called to ask if we were still interested in setting up the marine park,” he said.

Thus, Ocean Adventure was born and it quickly went on to become Subic’s biggest attraction.

Since its opening nine years ago, the park has set up three stadiums with each serving as separate venues for the dolphin and whale shows, the sea lion shows and the high diving show. Each stadium holds at least two shows a day.

The park also has an aquarium dubbed the Ocean Discovery Aquarium, a souvenir shop and restaurant, a learning center, and a sea lion training center.

Desmond went as far as hiring the man who was managing Hong Kong’s Ocean Park, John E. Corcoran. He’s now the president of Ocean Adventure. (Tim Desmond is the park’s CEO and chairman.) The structures within the park were designed by Desmond’s old buddy, Terry Nicholson.
Obviously, the park’s primary market is composed of visitors belonging to the AB economic bracket. A lot of the park’s income is also generated from school field trips and company outings and picnics.

Desmond attributes the park’s success to aggressive marketing. “We decided to do our own marketing because we wanted to push the park as the major destination of Subic and not just one of the port’s attractions. A few other businesses in Subic chose to present themselves as merely one of the attractions. Their businesses suffered as a result. Some of them had to close,” he says.

It also helped that Desmond assembled a team composed of zoologists and park experts he had worked with before. Yet both Desmond and Corcoran prefer to give credit to the Filipino staff they hired to run the park and train the animals.

“It’s great working with the trainers we hired,” says Corcoran. “They learn very quickly and now they’re simply among the finest animal trainers in the world.”

Gail Laule, the park’s senior vice president, couldn’t agree more. It’s Laule who creates the concepts of the shows but she echoes Corcoran’s comments on the Filipino trainers.

Her passion for animals is epic. She keeps a home in Subic and California and both places are home to several cats and dogs. Most of these animals were strays and were rescued by Laule. “Animal activists probably don’t like the fact that we’ve been been keeping animals in captivity for commercial purposes,” she notes.

“But the park also pushes for animal preservation through the shows. We make the shows educational. The audience is taught to be more responsible when they’re in the ocean and advised to avoid doing things that could harm or kill the marine animals.”

Laule notes that in their own way, the sea lions, dolphins and whales in the park are doing their part in preserving marine life. “And I like the fact that the animals here will never go hungry and they will always be safe from predators,” she points out.

Meanwhile, the team of Ocean Adventure isn’t resting on its laurels. The park at this point has a new attraction; a high diving show staged by a Florida-based company called Brown Entertainment. Headed by veteran diver Bill Brown, the company holds three high diving shows a day at Ocean Adventure.

Brown brought in around eight divers to perform daring dives designed to thrill and entertain. The team is composed of champion divers from Canada, Russia, Poland and the US. The show includes a comedy skit and a breathtaking dive from an 80 foot tower. The show is quickly paced and the divers know a thing or two about acting. Brown describes the company as a traveling troupe of sorts. “Right now we have divers performing in South Africa and other parts of the world,” he says.

Brown’s divers will be performing in Subic until June.

The park is now also getting bigger. It has annexed the adjacent beach and put up a new resort, the Camayan Beach Resort. It’s open for day tours and the hotel has around 45 guestrooms housed in two newly-constructed three-story buildings. Right now, the resort is constructing another wing to house more rooms and suites and a swimming pool for the exclusive use of hotel guests.

Resort manager Livingston Kofi Quashigah expects the new building and pool to be completed before yearend. “The project is moving quickly because everything is being done in-house. Construction is on-going 24 hours a day. We also made measures to shield resort guests from the construction work,” he says.

The resort was also designed by Terry Nicholson who created an authentic resort atmosphere in the place. “Terry insisted on using local materials,” says Quashigah. “He’d rather use Vigan tiles than ceramic floor tiles, because all the other resorts are using ceramic tiles. He didn’t want to have a modern-looking resort. He wanted the place to blend with the environment.”

Just recently, Ocean Adventure annexed the beach at the other end of the park. Dubbed the Adventure Beach, it’s been developed to host roughly 2,000 guests and is reserved for private parties and corporate events.

The park has more plans under its belt. Across the street is a forest which will be the home of the terrestrial animals that will soon be sharing top-billing with the park’s sea lions, bull sharks, bottle-nosed dolphins and human high divers.

Obviously, Subic’s biggest attraction is getting much bigger.

For inquiries about Camayan Beach Resort and Ocean Adventure, call 706-3344 up to 46.http://mb.com.ph/articles/204531/the-adventure-has-gotten-even-bigger

World Bank cuts RP growth forecast to 1.9%

Posted in Economy, Forecasts, Uncategorized by Erineus on April 24, 2009

By Ted P. Torres Updated April 08, 2009 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines – Economic growth in the Philippines is expected to further slow to 1.9 percent this year, marking its worst performance since the Asian financial crisis more than a decade ago, the World Bank said yesterday.

“Growth in 2009 would likely slow to 1.9 percent,” the World Bank said in its latest East Asia report, adding it would be the country’s slowest growth since 1998 when the economy contracted by 0.6 percent.

World Bank senior economist Eric Le Borgne said a series of negative developments over the last four months forced a lower outlook for growth in the region, including the Philippines, as weak global demand for the country’s goods and services slowed down consumption and investments.

“There are also strong indications that the anticipated recovery for 2010 has diminished,” Borgne said, adding that a 2.8-percent growth for the Philippines next year remains dependent on how the developed countries deal with the global recession.

The World Bank projection compares to forecasts of 2.5 percent by the Asian Development Bank and 3.5 percent by the International Monetary Fund.

The government’s own forecast is a 4.4-percent growth in gross domestic product (GDP), down from 4.6 percent last year and 7.2 percent in 2007 – the fastest pace in 30 years.

The Arroyo administration said it plans to achieve the 4.4-percent rate through massive government spending to take up the slack of reduced economic activity.

The World Bank attributed the weak 2009 economic outlook to two main culprits: the country’s vulnerability to a slowdown in the amount sent home by Filipinos working abroad and an ambitious size of the stimulus package, which could have a limited impact and be undermined by weak tax collections.

“Domestic demand, boosted to a large extent by strong remittances since 2001, has been the most important growth driver for the economy,” the report said.

Last month, the World Bank said money sent home by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) will contract by 4.4 percent this year as a result of the global slowdown, lower than the bank’s projected five to eight percent fall in remittance flows to developing countries. The latest outlook was also bleaker than the previous forecast of 0.9 to 5.7 percent the World Bank made in November last year.

But the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is more optimistic. It said remittances are likely to stay flat in 2009 at around last year’s level of $16.4 billion. In January, the BSP reported a 0.1-percent growth in remittances compared to the same period last year.

The multilateral lender likewise described the government’s P330-billion stimulus package (labeled the Economic Resiliency Plan or ERP) as “ambitious” since it accounts for 4.1 percent of the country’s GDP.

The ERP is focused on providing jobs, even if temporary, to those who are displaced as their employers, whether here or abroad, close shop or reduce operations as worldwide sluggish consumption and credit flows squeeze their ability to stay afloat.

The World Bank cited the government for postponing its medium-term balanced budget goal in 2011 to make way for the hiked spending. It noted, however, that the actual impact of the stimulus package in 2009 would be limited as government spending plans could be undermined by a huge budget deficit, no thanks to lower-than-target tax collections.

View previous articles from this author.


Government spends P570B for debt service

Posted in Uncategorized by Erineus on April 20, 2009

By Iris C. Gonzales Updated November 26, 2008 12:00 AM

The government spent P570.369 billion for debt service payments from January to October this year, up 1.4 percent from the P562.312 billion spent in the same period last year, latest data from the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) showed.

Finance officials attributed the increase to higher interest payments brought about by the general uptick in interest rates across the globe amid the uncertain economic environment.

During the 10-month period, the government spent P252.293 billion for interest payments, 4.55 percent more than the P241.313 billion spent in the same period last year.

In addition, the government spent P318.076 billion for principal payments from January to October, a little less than the P320.999 billion spent in the same period last year.

Interest payments on domestic loans rose to P155.316 billion from January to October, up 14.52 percent compared to the P135.621 billion recorded in the same period last year.

On the other hand, interest payments on foreign loans declined to P96.977 billion from January to October. This was 8.24 percent lower than the P105.692 billion recorded in the same period last year, data from the BTr also showed.

For principal payments on domestic loans, the government spent P247.613 billion from January to October or P18.303 billion lower than the P265.916 billion recorded in the same period last year. This was a reduction of 6.88 percent.

On the other hand, the government spent P70.463 billion for principal payments on foreign loans or P15.38 billion more than the P55.083 billion spent in the same period last year. This is an increase of 27.9 percent.

The government has programmed to spend P607.215 billion for debt payments this year, officials earlier said. The government expects to save on interest payments due to the appreciation of the peso against the dollar.

Estimates by the Department of Finance showed that the Philippines saves as much as P4.2 billion in debt service requirement for every P1 appreciation against the dollar.

The government has been reducing its debt service payments to have more funds for the more necessary expenditures such as infrastructure and social services spending.

View previous articles from this author.


The seven principles of Leave No Trace

Posted in Uncategorized by Erineus on March 12, 2009
April 26, 2008, 7:22am

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare

* Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you’ll visit.
* Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
* Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
* Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
* Repackage food to minimize waste.
* Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.
2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

* Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
* Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
* Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.

o In popular areas: Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
o Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
o Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
o In pristine areas:
o Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
o Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.

3. Dispose Waste Properly

* Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food, and litter.
* Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep at least 200 feet from water, camp, and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
* Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
* To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.
4. Leave What You Find

* Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch, cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
* Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
* Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
* Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.

5. Minimize Campfire Impacts

* Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
* Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
* Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
* Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.

6. Respect Wildlife

* Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
* Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
* Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
* Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
* Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.

7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

* Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
* Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
* Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
* Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
* Let nature’s sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.


Fighting HPV cancers and diseases through vaccination

Posted in Uncategorized by Erineus on March 4, 2009

Dr. Ricardo Manalastas Jr., chief, UP-PGH Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Section of Infectious Diseases (OB-IDS), and his IDS group conduct lay forums for members of socio-civic organizations, private schools, and corporations to explain the benefits and cost of HPV Vaccination.

MANILA, Philippines – The number of Filipino women diagnosed with cervical cancer remains high. Every year, an estimated 6,000 Filipinas are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 4,349 die of the disease. Approximately, 12 Filipino women die each day due to cervical cancer. Five out of 10 Filipino women with cervical cancer will die within five years.

“The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine can significantly reduce the risk of developing cervical cancer, genital warts, and other genital cancers. Through our advocacy program, we aim to give more Filipinos access to this important vaccine by offering it at the lowest possible cost,” says Dr. Ricardo Manalastas, Jr., chief, UP-PGH

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Section of Infectious Diseases (UP-PGH OB-IDS).

Vaccine That Can Prevent Genital Cancers

Over 100 types of HPV have been identified, about 40 of which infect the anal and genital areas with approximately 15 to 20 types proven to cause cancer. HPV has been implicated in cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina, anus, penis, oropharynx (tongue and tonsils), low-grade dysplasia (abnormal changes in cells lining the cervix), genital warts, and recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (warty growths in the larynx of children and young adults).

One hundred percent of cervical cancer cases worldwide (with almost 500,000 new cases and 270,000 deaths each year); 40 percent of vulvar and vaginal cases; 90 percent of anal cancer cases; 40 percent of penile cancer cases; 12 percent of oropharynx cancer cases; and three percent of mouth cancer cases can be attributed to cancer-causing HPV types.

HPV infection is transmitted mainly through sexual contact. Note that sexual contact is not limited to penetrative sex alone but also includes any direct skin-to-skin contact such as oral sex, anal sex, or any other contact involving the genital area, including hand-to-genital contact.

Starting Small But Aiming High

“Our advocacy program was launched only in December 2008 and we are initially focusing on socio-civic organizations, private schools, and corporations,” explains Dr. Manalastas. The OB-IDS group conducts lay forums for members of these groups to explain the benefits and cost of the HPV vaccine.

To date, the OB-IDS advocacy program has vaccinated members of the Rotary Club of Quezon City and employees of the Makati branch of a major commercial bank. Dr. Manalastas and his group are currently working with schools to provide immunization against HPV and other vaccine-preventable diseases to the school’s teachers and office staff. They plan to vaccinate teachers and employees in other schools in Manila, Quezon City, Pasig City, etc. by the end of the year.

“Who knows? Maybe we can also vaccinate students in the future,” adds Dr. Manalastas.

Dr. Manalastas is negotiating with the PGH management to make discounted HPV vaccines available to hospital patients as well. “We hope our advocacy serves as an example to other government hospitals.”

Reducing cost, increasing coverage

“We hope that through our advocacy, my colleagues and the government will realize the public health value of our advocacy and eventually support it,” Dr. Manalastas reveals. He points out that his group does not make any profit from their advocacy and they sometimes even spend their own money on syringes and other vaccination paraphernalia.

Vaccination can help prevent HPV-caused cervical cancer, genital warts, vaginal cancer, and vulvar cancer. Ask your doctor about the different ways to help prevent these HPV-related diseases.

More information is available from the UP-PGH Obstetrics and Gynecology Infectious Disease Section website at http://www.hpv.com.ph. For inquiries about the HPV vaccine advocacy program, call 524-3518 or e-mail rmmanalastasmd@yahoo.com.

Updated March 03, 2009 12:00 AM