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New York based scientists found a responsive hormone they intend to develop into a drug to treat diabetes.  This is good news for Filipinos who are predisposed to the disease, which has been passed on genetically, and for some, an effect of dietary abuse.  Filipinos are rice eaters; rice as staple, which is pure sucrose, the source of sugar that could promote diabetes.  It weakens the pancreas—where insulin is produced by beta cells.  Death caused by diabetes is trending and threatening to replace hypertension as the number one killer.


There are also studies that suggest that Filipinos are also fond of eating bitter gourd or ampalaya, an edible fruit, which is among the most bitter of all fruits.  This is a plant of the tropics and which has been discovered to have strengthening properties favorable to a healthy pancreas.  Provinces in the country like in Northern Luzon where ampalaya is part of their meal never knew any ailment related to pancreas, much more so pertaining diabetes.  But the trend in consuming processed food, courtesy of food chains, lured people to change also their eating habits.  Where ampalaya falls short from the list.  As a consequence, ailment related to a weak pancreas like diabetes has entered the picture.


Hence, for a diabetic, he needs a shot of insulin to move and work normally in a day.  Without such medical intervention, he feels sluggish, haggard and lethargic.  Worst, a diabetic in effect has high blood sugar which could lead to heart disease, stroke and damage to kidneys, eyes and the nervous system.  A simple bruise may turn into a diabetic wound, an injury difficult to care and treat.  To a large extent, amputation of affected part, like legs and arms, are surgically resorted to in order to arrest the growth of the infection.


I have a friend who was devastated by diabetes to the extent that both his legs were badly affected.  Both his lower extremities had discolored and almost turning blue.  Blood has thickened that it was no longer circulating properly.  He was sent to the hospital for possible amputation.  It was there where I saw a picture of a dejected person a shadow of a former jovial personality.  I left after a few minutes.  Three months later, I received an invitation from my friend to visit him at home.  I would picture my friend as wheel chair-bound patient and gloomy.  I must borrow courage to stand in front of his gate and as I was ushered to his living room, I was surprised to see my friend, in shorts, with a healthy (real) legs at that about to jump to see me.  He confided to me that after my hospital visit, he would just repair back home to await his fate.  He tried reading books and pamphlets about herbal cures —which I send to him via email and there he came across the effect of muscovado (unprocessed sugar, or as we call in the vernacular, panutsa).  Since he had nothing to lose, or since he was about to lose his legs anyway, he might as well try muscovado.  He had in all his meals where sugar is needed, used muscovado instead.  He would even consume a kilo within a week.  Result:  his legs changed its color to a healthy hue.  A month later, he went for a regular medical check up and his doctor was surprised to note that his diabetes has been cured!  I don’t know if his meal included ampalaya, although I presumed he does because I noticed his garden featured a row of vines of bitter gourd, but his disclosure were more of muscovado.  There is  subsequent cure for those with diabetes indeed.


For the new generation, there are numerous procedures to undertake without resorting to drugs or waiting breathlessly on the findings of scientists to cure diabetes.  As a matter of fact, it is just a simple routine.  Eat only a small proportion of rice and include into the weekly meal menu an ampalaya.  Don’t forget muscovado too.  And kiss diabetes goodbye.


xmas in prison

Christmas is a season of joy, of exchanging gifts and pleasantries, of greeting one another, of renewing vows of love and friendship.  In other words, it is a period when one embraces charity, kindness and compassion.  This is the air that pervades in the free community.


In prison, there is no such air.  How can a prisoner feel Christmas when he is serving time in a facility he cannot even call home?  How can he rejoice the yuletide season when he is encircled by people he never knew from Adam.  Try eating while people with hostile background are around you and you will get the point.  You probably might feel that you are a tube where on one end something is introduced and in another it exits unceremoniously.

While it is true that during the season, prisoners are inspired to fashion out Christmas décor in various proportions, the holiday aura is definitely missing.  Worst, it is at this point when thoughts of prisoners are focused on escaping!  The prison community therefore is gripped with tension, enveloped with stress and strained with security restrictions.  It is one stretch of a yearly break where prison administration is distressed with the weight of anxiety, hassled by endless stream of worry and anticipating the trauma of prison violence.

Christmas unfortunately, with its sacred significance is lost in the consciousness of prison life.  Sometimes it is used as reference for soliciting gifts, at times made as template for indulging prison volunteers on their crusade for repentance but on the whole, it is just a passing period whence prisoner would base the length of their stay in prison.

Christmas in prison? Ask me about it—- once all prisons are empty.


As I was browsing on my facebook account I was amazed at one picture.  It is about two dogs, sleeping soundly and wrapped in satin blanket.  Naalala ko tuloy yung alaga kong monkey sa Iwahig when I was then its Superintendent.

Ganun din kung matulog, naka-kumot at naka-musketero pa. Marunong na rin kumain gamit ang kubyertos.  Minsan nagulat ako kasi nagbabasa na at natiempuhan ko pa na nagsusulat.  BINUGBOG KO NGA!  Isipin mo gusto pa akong unahan mag enroll sa doctorate course.


Sometimes I cannot help but be tormented with the information about a friend who was sent on a critical  evacuation to the nearest hospital.  Well, not just one actually but several as if they have conspired to assault the serenity of the emergency room.  Most of them my age and the rest are younger by several years.  Their ailments are common for those in their mid life—high blood pressure, cardiac vein blockade, diabetes, liver cirrhosis, pancreatic defects, ulcer, cancer, lung trouble, etc., name it, and the catalogue is there, the list seemed endless.  Looked like all my friends subdivided all ailments due those in our age range and now they all troop to the hospital for confirmation.

What staggered my friends is the cost of hospitalization.  Admission is a shocker already.  Add the laboratory and initial examination, the basic medical and related supplies, then one suspects already that he lived to earn that which he intends to pay in one day what for decades he scrimped for hard work.

Most if not all my friends are hearty eaters.  The loved good foods: tasty, nutritious and everything included in the pamphlet for delicatessen.  And they do not only pamper themselves with the flavor and tang, they literally empty everything that passes through their fancy.  In other words, they eat not only a mouthful, but a lot.  That for me is where the trouble begins.  When the food ingested is not burned, it becomes toxic.  Once it becomes poison, then the internal organs of the body suffers.  The person gets sick and not only sick in a passing way, but treacherously sick.  That explains why those who do not feel well would never walk slowly for check up; they are brought in a stretcher!

The Christmas season, its celebratory façade, may be blamed.  Everything nutritious abound.  Prosperity is artificially created to establish accomplishment and everyone is enjoined to partake.  That is where ailments are triggered.  Good food flows everywhere.  Plus holidays and merry making.  It is enough fuses to ignite an explosive period on one’s health.  And usually, the explosion pushes one inside the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital!


I don’t know but this season, I intend to fast for my friends.




She was a blazing star, luminescent and full of life.  She was born in one sunny afternoon of September 11, 1955, a Sunday, at St. Jude Hospital in Sampaloc, Manila and as soon as she began to walk, a couple of summers later, she was already reading and writing.  As soon as she could define colors and numbers, she was into honing up on her reasoning.  She was my younger and my only sister, Doris, already showing her genius at an early age.  She was never ordinary despite her effort to remain one.  She was always outstanding in every way she would turn herself.  She was the center whenever challenge had been determined.  She was almost a goddess, not only for us, members of her family, but in every organization where she would get involved with.


I remembered when we were in our teens and I was considering seriously entering a bicycle race.  She took our bike and gave all the boys in the neighborhood a scary challenge.  All of us were using a racing medium and there she was in a simple tool and at the end of the tour, she was almost in the lead.  She complained to me later that her legs felt like it was as big as my torso already!  We had a good laugh at that time but her girlish ways evolved into a fine lady of the academe.  She never relished any activity where she would witness her brother to lose.  But age caught up and we were separated not only in school but also in persuasion.


My sister wanted to study, to read books and show her mettle in the classroom.  On the other hand, I would get into street corner bantering, read behavior and show my mettle in violence.  She never had any occasion to see the streets.  She was more at home in the library, accustomed in front of her class, confident in research and used to serious discussions.  She was more familiar in theoretical analysis and quite poor in judging reality.  She literally grew up appreciating concepts than ascertaining that which goes around her environment.


She accepted that which was always offered to her, she was a bit vulnerable and gullible at times, because everything to her was presumed as honestly and truthfully presented.  She had no doubting bones, neither would she exhibit distrust.  Every suggestion, every proposition she would deduce as something reliable and worth her faith.  It was our mother who would caution her always; to thread the safe side.  And worst, it would always fall on my lap when things would go haywire for her.  For us, we would always give my sister that wide latitude of advantage and understanding because she was our front runner.  She was in charge of winning for us and in school; she was literally always on top.  That was indication that she was our leader and as such would demand a lot of support and assistance from us.


Her capability to focus was exemplary.  The trouble however was that she would care little about herself whenever her mind was concentrated on something.  She had difficulties in determining immediate reality and would always engage in intellectual examination.  Everything for her must have to pass through a formula or else she would just ignore.  Scholars had that attribute of snobbery and my sister was never an exception.  As a matter of fact, she would diplomatically accept something but would rather do what would please her mind.


She was more prepared to live in the academe, preferring mind games and all the boring subjects stacked from one row to another.  That was where her excitement manifested, to review, to assess and mentally apply theories.  Going home or staying in her room was never in her itinerary.  She hated the prospects of holidays and anything that disrupted school routine.  She would consider her family and school as one and would interchange her concern and commitment as if there was no difference at all.

She inherited every gene from father, himself a true-blue academician.  She loved her school so much that she had redesigned everything about her according to the standards of her organization.


Nothing can unsettle her except one occasion.  This was when her school was proposed to be transferred to another country.  She was a division head of Colombo Plan Staff College, a UN sponsored school for technician education.  The planned relocation would necessitate her dislocation and those of her staff and worst, would send everyone in her organization scouring for employment.  Nonetheless, she accepted the inevitable development and would prepare for the succeeding event.  She encouraged her staff to take higher education, to complete graduate studies so that they all could have a second wind in another educational institution.  My sister enrolled in a doctorate class and was too serious to get across and complete it in due time.  Even at the height of her medication after undergoing a series of radiation exposure due to a debilitating ailment, she would listlessly burn the midnight oil so to speak.


She was about to publish all her notes, that which she used as transcript of her lectureships around the world.  She was about to wind up her rendezvous with technician education and commence a new field in criminal justice administration when her time was up.


My sister, an extraordinary lady, capped an outstanding career in technology education, a brilliant student, a loving mother, a true friend and a great sibling.  Her departure to another dimension had conferred on us a certain degree of prestige in Heaven and in History.


It was supposed to be the last stage, the ultimate visit of a peer in college (Letran) because in a few weeks, he will have to undergo the final surgery.  He was medically pronounced with an irreversible ailment pointing directly to an advanced stage of cancer.  He had only a veritable number of weeks to live unless a miracle happens.  It was conveyed to me and if it was a joke, which my friend often does, then it was a tasteless one.  I merely presumed that he was not pulling my leg that time.


And so there he was, a dear friend, Dan Bassig, who immediately phoned me before flying back into the country.  He wanted to know if I could still bring him to an herbalist which we visited before along with some close friends who were being treated for their ailments.  Dan firmly believed that the herbalist cured his restless leg syndrome, an ailment which no hospital in US was able to treat.  Honestly, I have forgotten how to navigate to the place anymore.  I could not even ask those who frequent the healer because two of them died already.  After learning on the status of his fellow patients, Dan was discouraged and instead begged to spend time with us in a laughter spree.


It was an awkward situation.  Here was a friend in a terminal case trying to be relevant and enjoying every minute, fulfilling every moment with the rest of us who were in our pink of health.  I tried to hide the seriousness of the situation and went along with our merry making.  To further heighten the reunion, I invited my friends to visit a prison facility which I organized five years ago—the Correctional Institution for Women in Mindanao.  From a fledging camp into a full blown school, the correctional institution for women became an instant hospice in Davao del Norte.  There I would require my talented wards to present a musical number.


I acceded to join the presenters.  The all female band required me to play the drums for them and we had fun singing retro songs.  My friends were full of excitement.  Dan even went up the stage and joined the singers.  He gamely gyrated and advanced the current dance craze.  Everybody had a great day.


Dan could not contain his emotions and disclosed his terminal condition.  There was a moment of silence.  For those in the audience, they were expecting a punch line.  It could probably some kind of a joke.  I took the microphone and attested to the disclosure.  Indeed, it was true that Dan was in a terminal case and he was already expecting the worst.


I summoned those in attendance to believe that prayers can storm the heavens just by mere intention to pray for the safety and treatment of someone they loved.  I knew it.  I convinced a group of prisoners to conduct the same and the result was a resounding success.  It’s a pity that I lost tract of that important intervention when my sister was also in a bad state of health.  I was emotionally disturbed and could not compose my mind.   I was banking on my children and her children to do the prayers.  But my sister felt heavy and she could no longer contain the pain.  She bowed out eventually.


I took the floor and began to seek a unity of purpose from the audience.  I summoned everyone to give my friend that privileged to be prayed upon.  Just for a second only.  I never asked that a marathon prayer should be conducted; a simple prayer done in unison was what I was seeking.  The audience responded positively.  They would also include in their collective prayers the recuperation of my friend.  I felt their concern that moment.  After the brief program, we left.


I accosted my friends back to the hotel in the city and the next day, sent them off.


Two months later, my friend wrote on my face book wall declaring that he passed the medical examination.  No, he never took the medical board to become a physician.  He passed the rigors of medical procedures to determine his state of health following the findings on cancerous tissues affecting his internal organs and what was revealed was a good finding.  The tissues they suspect as cancerous which may have metastasized had regressed and his internal organs were back to its normal functioning.  In other words, my friend was completely healed.


The hospital attributed it to the medicine they applied.  My friend thought that he was just lucky.


 I personally believed that the prayers of prisoners made it happen.




Foods that looked nutritious, delicious and appetizing are actually processed ones.  From a distance it is delectable and up close, mouth watering.  It can be summed up in just one word—yummy.  Food chains around the world almost became a charming haven for connoisseur that in no time, it also became instant multi million commercial fronts.  Newspapers have a specific section on food and there are magazines that devote entire coverage on food alone.  I have no bone of contention about it.  As a matter of fact, I was also on a food trip once in a while and if my budget allows it, more often than not.

The reason why I chose to discuss this seeming trivia of modern day humanity is because of its inherent role in the increasing deterioration of health among its practitioners.  No, not those in charge of processing food but those at the other end, those consuming the enchanting aroma and tasty cuisine.

When one eats processed food, the body loses its principal role—that of processing food.  Extend that procedure for a long time, our body becomes inured and would rather accept its fate as repository of something completed already.  If we extend the argument to something mechanical, it may sound like this:  why the need for technicians where there is nothing for them to work on.  They will just be additional personnel, some kind of an overhead expense and a potential group that may cause trouble.  As they say, an idle mind is the devil’s playground.

Going back to processed food.  When it passes through the body, our innards go into a frenzy of automatic processing too.  It recognizes that a processed stuff needs no further procedure and so our body relaxes.  There will be a lot of route in our system where the process will have to skip a lot rendering other internal organs working overtime at the expense of other organs which are forced to slow down.  This is something unwholesome and may telegraph confusion in our digestive system.  Our stomach—used to bring into several acids and juices will no longer perform as it were.  Our pancreas, usually on a silent mode will now have to take the center stage.  So on and so forth.  The result, the body’s internal organs function in a baffled way, confounded at the way it received nutrients and loads.

There were studies pointing at the way man’s teeth are designed also per evolutionary condition.  Accordingly, it is devised to munch fruits and vegetables only.  Hence, there are some back to basic movement among food connoisseurs lately reviving vegetable craze (as in being vegetarian) and fruit consumption.

The point here is this.  To maintain health, man should never deprive its internal organs its principal mandate of processing food.  Therefore, one should not allow himself to eat processed food if it intends to be healthy all throughout.  To do otherwise means to invite ailments or to grow weak and become sickly.

I remember during my first year as head of the prison reception center, a newly retired Federal prison chaplain visited me.  He said that his kidneys collapsed already and that he was exploring the possibility of seeking donation from prisoners for one kidney to extend his life and make life less miserable.  Persons with collapsed kidneys must regularly, that is on weekly basis, must have to undergo dialysis session.  “Why Reverend, what happened to your kidneys, I mean, how did those beans collapsed?  Have you had an accident?”  I asked.

“My dear Sir, I was a federal chaplain for two decades in the State Penitentiary and I was very busy with my tasks that meal times were even spent in conferences.  I have to literally survive and content myself eating hamburgers during lunch time.  And it was not once, it became a routine.  You know how hamburgers are, it is processed, a lot of salt, chemicals, etc.”  replied the man of the cloth.

“You mean Reverend, you attribute your kidney ailment from those tasty hamburgers?”

“Well, those were the immediate diagnosis coming from my doctor.  Anything processed is bad to one’s health according to my physician.  I thought for a while that a hamburger fill has enough nutrition to gas up my day.” 

“Ok, Reverend, I will go to the security wing and ask if some of my wards will heed your request.”

(A month later, I was informed that a prisoner volunteered to donate one of his kidneys to the retired prison chaplain and the next that I heard was that, the good chaplain repaired in his home province and continued with his ministry.  The prisoner who volunteered one of his kidneys after a period was released.  I just don’t know if they were still communicating but from where I was, both lived a normal life after the medical procedure.)

I was reminded of my dear sister.  She had kidney trouble too.  The ailment virtually made her chair bound and could not flex her legs.  She contracted the ailment from the therapeutic procedure she underwent when she was radiated for cervical cancer.  Accordingly, her kidneys were injured as a result of the radiation procedure.  But of course, I would also attribute the kidney trouble from the food she was fond of.

My sister loves good food.  She has this fixation over a pack of chicharon (fluffy fries from pork skin) and on her way home from office she would drop by her favorite nook to treat herself with a heap of the newly cooked crispy snack.  My suspicion is that the pork skin was the culprit in damaging her kidneys more than the radiation.  For me, if its radiation, how come only the kidneys were affected when there were more sensitive organs and tissues around which are even more vulnerable to cobalt exposure.  It is the processed food she would spoil herself that ruined her comfort, sent her to pain and challenged her health more than anything else.  I am also guilty of this predisposition but the cost of the snack is quite prohibitive that I could only pamper myself if I am liquid for the day.

These are only a glimpse and there were lots of notable cases I could draw from relatives and friends whose internal organs including their nervous system that would be racked by consuming processed rations.

I realize that eating raw vegetables, fruits, green and leafy ones and some high protein nuts are not only beneficial and wholesome but also components to keep one fit, strong and hale.  It really is painful to ignore processed food.  It is tempting and very alluring.  I hated the view that processed foods are that unsafe.  But I am just a mere victim of analysis and in my study; and I wish I am wrong, that a healthy body depends largely from what we bring into our system.



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