2011 is the First Year of the Decade of Disaster

When will we ever learn?

Today, there are flooded areas in Metro Manila, Maguindanao, Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Pangasinan and Baguio. There are flooded areas in Vietnam, Thailand, and North Dakota, USA.

These are not ordinary inundations. These are records flooding and no country is excused – Australia, Japan, China, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Germany, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, United States – not to mention to small island nations in the Pacific.


Plant trees NOW. Walk when possible, instead of ride. Eat vegetables — more friendly to the environment than eating meat. Don’t use plastic bags as much as possible. Do not burn plastic.

The prophecy does not speak of a distant future. It speaks of today.


Aside from alcohol and purine – FRUCTOSE causes GOUT

“Conventional dietary recommendations for gout have focused on restriction of purine and alcohol intake but with no restriction of sugar sweetened soft drinks.14 15 Although such soft drinks contain low levels of purine they contain large amounts of fructose, which is the only carbohydrate known to increase uric acid levels.In humans, acute oral or intravenous administration of fructose results in a rapid increase in serum levels of uric acid through accentuated degradation of purine nucleotides16 and increased purine synthesis. This urate raising effect was found to be exaggerated in people with hyperuricaemia18 or a history of gout.”

That is the conclusion of one of the many studies linking fructose to gout and other uric acid-related diseases.

In fact, fructose has been found to be directly linked to a major set of diseases hypertension, digestive disorders, hyperacidity, obesity, diabetes, liver diseases and kidney diseases. In the US alone, consumption of corn syrup (high fructose corn sugar) has dropped 40% because of these findings. In the Philippines, so far there is no advisory.

WHAT is Fructose?

Remember you high school chemistry? It is one of three monosaccharides along with glucose and galactose; and is also known as fruit sugar. It does not crystallize unlike sucrose (such as cane sugar), so it is taken often in liquid form – found in softdrinks, juices, and syrup.

WHY is it hazardous to your health?

Our body does NOT treat all sugars the same. Fructose and glucose are metabolized in very different ways in your body. Glucose is metabolized in every cell of your body and is converted to blood glucose, while all fructose is metabolized in your liver, where it’s quickly converted to fat and cholesterol.  Sucrose is a larger sugar molecule that is metabolized into glucose and fructose in your intestine.

At a lower dose, fructose is okay. The average recommended level is 25 grams per day. At that level, it is not dangerous. But a 12 oz coke has 40 grams of fructose.

Fructose is metabolized to fat in your body far more rapidly than any other sugar, and, because most fructose is consumed in liquid form, its negative metabolic effects are further magnified.

Why does fructose turn to fat more readily than other sugar?

Most fats are formed in your liver, and when sugar enters your liver, it decides whether to store it, burn it or turn it into fat. However, researchers have discovered that fructose bypasses this process and turns directly into fat.  According to Dr. Elizabeth Parks, associate professor of clinical nutrition at UT Southwestern Medical Center, and lead author of a recent study on fructose in the Journal of Nutrition:

“Our study shows for the first time the surprising speed with which humans make body fat from fructose. Once you start the process of fat synthesis from fructose, it’s hard to slow it down. The bottom line of this study is that fructose very quickly gets made into fat in the body.”

The metabolic pathways used by fructose also generate uric acid. In fact, fructose typically generates uric acid within minutes of ingestion. When your uric acid level exceeds about 5.5 mg per dl, you have an increased risk for a host of diseases, including: Hypertension, Kidney disease, Insulin resistance, obesity, and diabetes, Fatty liver, Elevated triglycerides, elevated LDL, and cardiovascular disease, and for pregnant women, even preeclampsia.

  • How do you get fructose? 
  •  Processed fructose is found in most soft-drinks, canned or bottled juices, energy drinks, syrup, and other sweetened processed food. In fact, you get more fructose from processed juices than from soft drinks. Those who eat “kinilaw” oftentimes blame the fish when a gout attack happens. But it is more because after eating kinilaw, they drink lots of soft drinks.
  • Most vitamins, supplements, and antibiotics have fructose, so check the fructose content of your medicines before taking them.
  • How about fructose from fruits?
    Fresh fruits  contain fructose, but because they also contain fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants that reduce the hazardous effects of the fructose.  It is important to remember that natural fructose in and of itself isn’t evil as fruits are certainly beneficial. But when you consume high amounts of fructose – regardless of its source — it will absolutely devastate your biochemistry and physiology. Doctors recommend limiting your total fructose consumption to 25 grams per day, and your fructose from fruit to below 15 grams, since you are virtually guaranteed to consume plenty of “hidden” fructose in other foods. That 15 grams of fructose is not much — it represents two bananas, one-third cup of raisins, or just two slices of pineapple. But one whole medium-size mango is enough to feed your fructose requirement a day. Orange and guava however only have 2 grams per fruit. But mangosteen has so much antioxidant that it neutralizes any effect of fructose.
    How do you sweeten your food without fructose? 
    If you must (although it is better that you avoid sugar if you have a history of diabetes, gout, and hypertension and just get your sugar requirements from raw natural products like fruits and vegetables), here are some choices:
    a. raw honey – in moderation as it is also packed with natural fructose
    b. muscovado sugar
    c. cane sugar in moderation
    Here is a simple nutritional guide about fructose malabsorption.

The Magic of Mrs. Epifania Barola

Sr. Agnes, Mrs Barola, Mr. Barola, Dr. Remedio, and Mr. Deveza


For most Holy Crossians, she was the imposing image of one of high school’s most fearsome group of teachers: the Math Department. But for us, she will always be remembered as a kind and loving mother – patience is her virtue and humility is her gift.

Mrs. Epifania Barola died last June 15, 2011. She left this world riding on the lunar eclipse. No matter what human doctors will say, I will always assert that she did not die of any disease – her soul was simply lifted by the magic of the moment.

Because that is how I recall Mrs. Barola – a magician. If Holy cross High School was Hogwarts School of Wizardy, she was the formidable figure of Minerva McGonnagal – which makes St. Cecilia Gryffindor (sorry St. Mark).

Like Minerva who taught Transfiguration, Mrs. Barola taught figures and how to transform them using equations and formulas. And everytime we encounter a difficult problem, Mrs. Barola’s first question was always, “What is the formula?”. For her, Algebra and life are the same – both are fascinating, both are filled with problems, and both have already established formulas for solutions. She taught me a lesson that is timeless and practical: understand the problem and use the right formula to solve it.

And like Minerva, she ruled our class with a delicate balance of sternness, kindness, and a bit of humor. She was clapping her hands when the class decided that our feastday presentation would feature everyone whose name started with Mar – so it was Martin, Martesa, Marites, and Marichu. She didn’t have favorites, but took pride in whatever every classmate achieved.

But also like Minerva, she was the second-head, never the first. She became academic coordinator. She was the most qualified but for some reason, she was never made Principal, that is until recently, when she accepted that post in another private school. It was obvious that she left Holy Cross with a heavy heart. But Mrs. Barola was the type who kept everything in her heart.

So, it is just fitting that her death coincided with the full lunar ecplise. When everybody else was looking up, Mrs. Barola left quietly and gently. I hope she knows how grateful we are. She “transfigures” us into what we are now. And I hope she trusts that because she taught us well, the magic continues; this time, all over the world.

Rest in peace, Ma’am Barola. We surrender our wands to you.

Don’t Just Sit There! Stand Up

We should have known this a long time ago — sitting for a long time is bad for your health. I was alarmed because I have been sitting for at least ten hours per day for the past six months because of my online job. I started to gain 20 lbs, then 30 lbs now, my back is aching regularly and my feet start to feel weak.

I read this article today in one of my favorite sites Zen Habits:

Here’s the evidence about what sitting can do to you:

And how is this bit of information:
Studies have found out that the a common practice of those SMOKERS who live a long life (contrary to common knowledge) is that they are standing most of the time. The reason why CHEFS, who taste all kinds of food every day including fats, have low incidents of stroke and heart attack is because they are standing most of the time.
So, don’t just sit there. STAND UP! Stand up for your body. Stand up for your rights as well!

Salute to Angeline Jolie and Louis Vuitton

Academy award winner, box office queen, human rights champion and half of the Hollywood power couple known as Brangelina – Angelina Jolie has proven once again that you can mix environmental responsibility with celebrity status.

In this latest campaign called Louis Vuitton’s Core Values campaign – Angelina show the value of recycling (old LV bag, reusing (her old clothes) and natural beauty (hers and this Cambodian setting)

A Bit of Camp Phillips History


Anonymous Paul posted a query in the comment section:

Hi there, I was in Camp Phillips just last weekend and quite enjoyed the place. I was wondering why it’s called a “camp”? Was Camp Phillips established the same time with the Del Monte planation or was it a separate American forces station before? There’s limited info and just thought to ask a resident.

I realized that he is right – not much has been posted about the origins of the name. Okay, so here it is:

Why is it called a camp? 

Sadly, that is a vestige of the old practice used by colonizers who used to hire slaves to work in plantations – in the US and in Africa. They put up housing basecamps for workers and called them simply as camps. The first batch of Americans who put up the Philippine Packing Corporation (the precursor of Del Monte) followed the practice of providing decent housing to workers. They used to be called by the numbers. Camp 1, 2, 3 until 17. Eventually, when the pioneer Americans left or retired, some camps were named in their honor. Camp 1 (the biggest outside of Phillips) was renamed Camp JMC (James McCrawford), and Camp 12 was named after the pioneer Lawrence Phillips.

Was Camp Phillips established the same time with the Del Monte planation or was it a separate American forces station before? 

The camps were built right after the start of the operations in 1926. The US Airforce base in nearby Dicklum was built during World War 2 precisely because the Americans were already here in the plantation and they needed a new headquarters after Subic and Clark were bombed. After the war, the US Bases maintained a weather station and, apparently, a stockpile for nuclear bombs, until the Philippine congress did not renew the Mutual Defense Treaty during the time of Cory Aquino.

Photo credit: Philippine Daily Photos

Happy Pentecost and Happy Independence Day!

What A Great Day for Filipinos!

Today, we commemorate Independence Day and Pentecost Day – a national holiday and a liturgical feastday to celebrate an important gift from God – Freedom!

Receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit and protect the gift of freedom fought for fiercely by our forefathers.

Asthma and the Cold, Rainy Days

A groundbreaking series of studies conducted by various medical research centers in the US concluded that there is a direct link between Asthma and Vitamin D.  Some of these studies are part of this  FOX NEWS report. In relation to this,  the International Journal of Biometeorology released a study a month ago that asthma attacks are higher during cold and rainy season precisely because there is limited exposure to the sun. It is not so much that the body is cold, but the body does not receive enough sunlight to process Vitamin D in your skin which is needed by the body. Conversely, it means that the reason why a lot of asthmatic people prefer to live near the beach is not because of the sea breeze but because of better exposure to the sun.

The studies are very technical, but here are the reasons why asthma attacks tend to increase during rainy and cold seasons:

a. as mentioned, less exposure to sunlight results to Vitamin D deficiency. Almost 90 per cent of people’s vitamin D requirement is synthesised from the sun. Vitamin D plays a vital role in regulating the immune system, and that low levels may increase the risk of allergies, infection, autoimmune diseases, cancer, and heart disease.

b. less sunlight is compounded by the fact that people oftentimes wear jackets, caps and hats, thus eliminating altogether exposure to what minimal sunlight is available during rainy season

c. the rainy days often follows flowering season, thus there are a lot of pollen in the air which trigger asthma attacks. However, if a person has enough Vitamin D in the body to regulate the immune system, the body can withstand the pollen and dust.

d. the rainy season often follows hot summers where people drink lots of cold drinks such as soft drinks and canned juices.  These contain preservatives like sulphur dioxide and sodium benzoate which cause tight chests in individuals who have asthma and colourants such as tartrazine (an azo dye) which causes asthma triggers. Days of drinking softdrinks result to accumulation of simple sugar which aggravates asthma.


Unless you have the luxury of moving to a sunny beach during rainy days, these are some of things that asthmatic people can do to prevent attacks during rainy days:

a. seek the sun – literally. make sure that your skin gets enough sun exposure and that means removing jackets during moments when the sun is out

b. at least once a week, go to a sunny place. Camp Phillips residents can go to CDO at least during the weekends, that way, the skin will be given the much needed exposure to the sun

c. eat food with Vitamin D. This is a list of foods rich in Vitamin D. But to highlight a few: raw tuna, raw oysters, canned mackerel but drain the sauce; shrimps and crabs; orange juice, milk, soyamilk, and mushrooms.

d. increase your omega 3 and reduce omega 6 fatty acids – omega 3 foods include fish oil, flaxseed, pecan nuts, eggs of native chicken (because of the grass diet); and grass-fed beef

e. Avoid MSG and vegetable oil. Never, never use recycled oil for cooking, especially vegetable oils. They contain free radicals.

f. exercise out in fresh air. Walking is good. It helps moderate your insulin levels, and as a result your body produces less insulin, which tends to optimize it. Research has also shown that asthmatics who exercise tend to show improvement in: maximum ventilation, maximal oxygen uptake, work capacity, and maximum heart rate.

g. de-stress – do a twenty-minute breathing exercise in the morning and another at the end of the day; get some massage but make sure to choose those who are familiar with the principles of accupressure – the right amount of force on the right part of the body; and so something that takes your mind off your work pressure.

h. take some Vitamin D supplements. However, you must get your Vitamin D test first. The skin has an autocontrol that turns off the body’s absorption of Vitamin D once it has enough. But, when taken as supplement, that autocontrol does not function. Vitamin D overdose and toxicity is very rare but still it is good to exercise caution.

Go Barefoot! Philippines – Magtiniil Ta

Photo by Dan Bercasio

Two recent events inspired me to write this entry. June 1 was declared Go Barefoot Day ( a charity event). and yesterday, Mar Roxas was appointed as DoTC Secretary and anointed himself as the kings of “Trains, Boats and Planes.” But why not WALK, and better yet, go barefoot. Yes, that is rhetorical question. But I am joining a global movement called Go Barefoot for sustainability and physical fitness. Besides, it reminds me of my childhood.

The Definitive Guide to Going Barefoot  has an extensive article about the benefits of the going barefoot, but I am quoting the conclusion below:

“We already know that wearing shoes leads to injury such as plantar fasciitis, shortened calf muscles, knee osteoarthritis, tight ilial tibial bands, and lower back pain, among many other things. We also already know that running barefoot takes about 4% less energy than running with shoes. So, here are some of the other benefits of barefooting.

  • Running or walking barefoot will help to naturally improve your gait and carriage, which will improve your performance. More effeciency = more speed.
  • Going barefoot will help to develop strength in the muscles and ligaments in your feet, legs, and hips that are inhibited and disintegrated when wearing shoes.
  • You won’t get athletes foot or other odd foot odors if you aren’t getting sweaty from unventilated shoes.
  • There’s nothing like walking on sand or grass in your bare feet. Seriously, the more you can enjoy nature, the better for your well-being.
  • It’s free. I don’t even want to know how much I’ve spent on high class running shoes in the past… going barefoot will save you a lot of money!

Rafael Nadal Retains Crown as French Open King

They should be both declared goats – Greatests of All Times. Why not? Instead of debating who between them is greater, just accept the truth that Rafa and Roger occupy a higher ionosphere in the tennis universe.

Here is a great article from The Guardian.

Rafael Nadal this week called Roger Federer “the greatest player in history”. No doubt he meant it. So, as he watched the Swiss’s final shot of the French Open final sail past him across the baseline to end another memorable battle between them, this most humble of great men will surely have allowed himself a brief moment of exultation.

In that sweet second records and titles are briefly irrelevant. As he looked across at the only player consistently to challenge his own genius, Nadal may have thought: “I am, right now, better than you.”

The Spaniard will never say such a thing out loud about Federer; perhaps he will never have to. At 25 he has time on his side to overhaul the other man’s records. But this was his day again, on his surface, at his favourite venue and, despite a wonderful challenge, there was nothing Federer could do about it at the finish.

Nadal won 7-5, 7-6, 5-7, 6-1 in three hours and 40 minutes. It was his fourth win over Federer here in a final. It was not one to compare with the three-set annihilation of 2008 but a victory he deserved despite its imperfections.

The win keeps Nadal at the top of the heap in men’s tennis, at least for a few more weeks. The world No2, Novak Djokovic, dumped out here in the semi-finals by a resurgent Federer, will come hard at them again at Wimbledon but there is much to come from two rivals who, for seven years, have held all pretenders at bay.

“What a hard tournament this is to win,” said the man who now owns six Coupe des Mousquetaires, drawing alongside Bjorn Borg in the record books with the prospect, surely, of more to come, “and what a special day it was. I want to congratulate Roger. I think we had a good match.”

Celebrations do not come more unaffected.

Both made mistakes. How could it be otherwise as they played the lines to the inch and stretched tired sinews to the limit? Federer caught Nadal cold in the first set and, like the crowd, he could hardly believe it when the champion netted the simplest of forehands from maybe 10 feet to drop serve. The whiff of an upset was in the warm Parisian air.

The Swiss continued to hurt the world No1, his first serve searingly accurate and his forehand returns from near the baseline pulling Nadal inside out. In that dramatic opening and at other key moments Federer’s subtle changes of angle and shot made for an intriguing final.

Federer had the first set in his pocket at 5-2 when a sliced backhand fell short and Nadal held serve. Federer served for the set at 5-3 but Nadal was energised and reeled off seven games in a row to swing the contest back his way; briefly it was Federer who looked gone.

He hung in the fight, though, and Nadal accommodated him when serving at 5-4 in the second. Having wasted his chance in the first set, Federer was under pressure to find something special to stay in contention and he broke for parity. But Nadal, livid with himself for his slip-up, got to the tie-break breathing fire and again snuffed out Federer’s revival 7-3, with some decent serving and a withering cross-court forehand, to go two sets up.

The third went with serve before Federer cracked again, going 4-2 down and, behind in the serving cycle, he was badly bruised. However, for all his bank clerk mien – Juan Ignacio Chela put it best earlier in the week when he said he needed to “get his socks dirty” – Federer has a fighter’s heart and he broke back to love.

Just short of three hours Federer hit his 11th ace to stay in the match at 5-5. He then lifted his game one more time and held three break points. He netted a forehand to waste the first but a charge at the net and a majestic chip to an empty court gave him the game and a glimmer of hope. He served out to take the set 7-5 and now it was Nadal who looked shattered.

Federer was gathering strength and confidence, punishing Nadal for staying deep with a series of exquisite drop shots. The next shift in the drama arrived in the fourth game of the fourth set, as Federer’s concentration let him down on his own serve and Nadal hurt him for two wayward ground strokes to go 3-1 up.

A close call against Federer left him frustrated but the ball was out and, after a few more flourishes, so was he.

He showed admirable restraint as Nadal shamelessly indulged in time-wasting on the Swiss’s serve at 1-4 but there was little he could do about his opponent’s brilliance. An outrageous forehand and a backhand volley drove him to the break, and Federer netted to drop serve.

When Federer hit long on the last shot, it was as if someone had let all the oxygen out of Paris, a deflating end to an enthralling contest. “I thought he was getting tired in the third and fourth sets but unfortunately I couldn’t take advantage of it,” Federer said. “At 0-0 in the fourth set you think we have a match again. We know what can happen in tennis. In the fifth set I would have felt very, very strong. But Rafa played well and he deserved to win today.”

Federer always adds “today” because he yearns for tomorrow. He is still dangerous.