Tuesday, November 30, 2010

1M Hectare of Forest for Better Health

You found yourself trapped again in heavy traffic for hours but it was not only the traffic that you felt was unbearable but the fact that you were having difficulty breathing. It was not only in one occasion that you experience bouts of breathlessness as if you were about to pass out. Year after year, you notice that your condition seems to worsen. Your medical checkup confused you when the doctor told you it was not a case of asthma as you suspected but it was only an occasional allergic attack that could be caused by something that you ate or inhaled. You were advised to make a diary to note where and when you had an attack and all the possible causes to identify the possible allergens. Your notes revealed a significant finding that outdoor pollution makes you feel more uneasy causing your airways to narrow thus reducing the flow of air into your lungs. It is more evident when you are in an open-window public utility vehicle caught in traffic mess where pollution level is very high. Sure the traffic and the heat excreted by those vehicles caused you stress that triggered or worsen your attack but you feel very well that the main culprit was the fumes you inhaled from those vehicles.

In a report from the World Health Organization (WHO), people who suffer from chronic respiratory disease soar to hundreds of millions of people every day. That figures composed of millions with allergic rhinitis and other under-diagnosed chronic respiratory diseases, 300 million with asthma and 210 million with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In 2005 alone, 255,000 people died of asthma. That is a very interesting statistics that seems to match the rate at which we lose most of the world’s natural forest reserves.

Why do we need to restore 1M hectare of our forest? It is elementary science how plants and trees convert carbon dioxide into oxygen that is needed by the human body and how our carbon emission is being used by these flora to help them grow. It is one symbiotic process that needs to be retained for all inhabitants of this earth to survive. Just come to think how we make basic things too complicated because of ignoring a very simple rule.

Now, the world’s human population is continuing to grow that accelerated the rate of unregulated land conversion that resulted to declining population of flora and fauna. The depletion of the world’s natural reserves resulted to decline in food production that explains why more people are hungry. The growing human population results to greater activity that gives rise to more carbon emission resulting to more chronic and deadly diseases and the consequence does not stop there. Climate change is another complex repercussion of ignoring a very basic learning that now amounts to a hefty price. So, shall we be mindful of planting more trees to retain the symbiosis? It will definitely be helpful if we do. Let us all help to restore 1M hectare or more of forest land and help save hundreds of millions of people who suffer and die from chronic diseases due to pollution and who knows we might as well reverse the effects of climate change.

You can start your pledge by visiting the following sites for more interesting information: Haribon Foundation, ClubTravelNOW! and Pinoy Holistic Healthcare.

Friday, October 15, 2010

PAGASA Warning: Super Typhoon to Hit the Philippines

As early as now, even before the tropical storm Megi is about to reach the Philippine area of responsibility, PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomic Services Administration) has already issued the storm warning. According to PAGASA report, Megi is expected to reach the Philippine area of responsibility this Friday evening or early morning tomorrow. It will be named "Juan" once it reach Philippine territory. It is expected to landfall in the Northern part of Luzon and it was also warned that it could bring heavy rainfall like in typhoon "Ondoy" (Ketsana) that happened in September last year that caused major damage in Luzon particularly in Metro Manila. People in the areas that will be affected should be prepared and should take every precautionary measures to minimize casualties. For the complete report on typhoon Megi, visit the 24-hour public weather forecast at http://www.pagasa.dost.gov.ph/wb/wb.html or you can follow dost_pagasa in twitter for an hourly forecast.

Finally learning a hard lesson from previous mistakes, and we should all heed the warning since it is always been said that an ounce of prevention is far better than a pound of cure. Let us all pray that this will not be another Ondoy. May we all be safe, God Bless Us All!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

El Galeon Andalucia

Friday, October 1, 2010

Photography: Glimpse at the Rare Three Suns

For the last three weeks, I spent most of the times at home looking after my sick children. Worrisome days indeed... but then it was also one of those days that made me appreciate special things that I oftentimes overlook such as this...

It was one lazy Monday afternoon, the sun bidding farewell to another tiring and sad day then suddenly the atmosphere changed its appearance to an overcast weather, which made me feel all the more sad ...

then I noticed that the other side of the horizon was sunny while at the other side was rainy, had few experiences of them before but never had the chance to capture them on pictures thus I really never let this one passed by.

minutes later... there was heavy downpour... as if heaven felt the sadness that I was feeling that day.

And some minutes more, the rain stopped and revealed another rare moment... as if there were three suns brightly painted above the eastern sky, sure it was only a reflection of the setting sun from the west. Nature really has its own way of showing its unique beauty. Took off my sadness and worries that day. Three suns, three shining glory, an infinite possibility of hope.

(pictures were taken on 9/27/2010 using a point and shoot camera, how I wished I captured them more clearly)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Holding On To Faith, Hanging On To Life

I went home that Sunday evening after spending sleepless nights in the hospital where my son was confined. My husband and I decided to have our child admitted in the hospital at the initial onset of his fever for fear of the deadly dengue. Dengue is a life-threatening disease transmitted by Aedes Aegypti mosquito. At that time, there already were 69,594 dengue cases wherein 501 deaths had already been noted by the Department of Health. We had been in the hospital since Thursday when my son developed high grade fever ranging from 39-42 degrees centigrade with accompanying whooping cough. The doctor’s initial diagnosis was pneumonia based on his radiological consultation but he also had skin rashes, was vomiting and was complaining of stomachache. The fever subsided on Saturday and he looked well the following day.

That Sunday we thought that my son was already out of danger after his fever subsided so my husband decided to send me home so I may be able to look after my little girl who was also having slight fever. I was thinking that by Tuesday, we would be released from the hospital but little did I know that the nightmare was far from over. By the time I reached the house of my in-laws where I left my two girls, my husband’s brother broke to me the bad news that he received a message from my husband and that my son was taken to the intensive care unit of the hospital. My son was positive for dengue, the hematology report indicated a drop in his platelet count from 330X10 9/L on September 9 to only 62X10 9/L at 6PM that Sunday. On hearing the sad news, I was trying hard to search for my inner strength but fear engulfed me. I wanted to go back to the hospital, I was in a state of denial when I told them that he was okay when I left the hospital and even assured them the same words that my son told me that he was doing well. My mother-in-law told me to just stay behind and to be calm while she and my brother in law hurriedly went to the hospital. While looking after my other sick child that night, I was praying hard for a miracle that they all get well. I hardly slept that night and I found myself sending text messages to friends requesting for a plant that others testified to help cure dengue patients. I was too desperate to try anything to cure my sick child.

At the break of dawn, I found myself phoning a friend in the office to ensure that I would have that plant before I go back to the hospital. I was able to serve that herbal tea to my son during lunch but it was such a struggle to convince him to take it, as he reasoned out that there was no scientific evidence and no approval from the Department of Health that the plant really had cured dengue patients. He only had four spoonfuls of rice with soup for his dinner and then told me that he just wanted to take a rest still complaining of his bad tummy and ruptured vein in the intravenous insertions. I was holding back my tears that time since I did not want him to feel as helpless as I was. When my sisters visited him that night, they were all alarmed that my son was too pale, his body too weak and dehydrated despite being administered with an intravenous solution on both hands and he had edema that his face, feet and arms were all bloated due to fluid retention. I went out of the ICU to talk to my sisters and to my mom who was also there. My mom insisted to the resident doctor to give us the true details of my son’s condition. We were faced with more problems when we had the last hematology report at 6PM wherein his platelet count further dropped to 42X10 9/L while his hematocrit had an elevated reading at 0.53 above the normal range of 0.42-0.48. I was totally disoriented and it felt like hope was fast fading away, I just sat there crying and nothing was coming to my head. I just heard my mommy talking to the doctor and all my sisters in disagreement of what option the doctor had told them. My sister-in-law and I was wide awake the whole night as if that could alleviate the suffering that my son was going through, waiting for each moment and praying for my son's improvement. The result of his blood test of 12NN revealed further drop in his platelet count to 36X10 9/L and it felt like our world was falling apart. When the doctor told us that the life of our son is not in her hands and that we must pray harder, no words could comfort me at that time and fear was written all over me. I wanted to convince myself that everything would be fine, my husband and I were holding on to faith while my son was hanging on to his dear life. That time between sobs, I was trying to remember the parable from the bible wherein a man's great faith had helped cured his servant. (I just want to share it with all of you)

Mat 8: 5-10
And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, and saying, “Lord, my servant lie at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented”.

Jesus said unto him, “I will come and heal him”.

The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that thou should come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goes; and to another, Come, and he comes; and to my servant, Do this, and he does it”.

When Jesus heard it he marveled and said to them that followed, “Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel”.

Mat 8:13
And Jesus said unto the centurion, “Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee”. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.

I knew that the story somehow helped me find again my strength and faith and to believe that miracles do happen through prayers. After nine long days in the hospital (four days in the ICU), my son is now on the road to recovery. I thank God that my son survived from dengue hemorrhagic fever and pneumonia. I also thank all the people who prayed with us and visited my son in the hospital, and thanks to our relatives who helped us emotionally, financially and spiritually along the way

Psa 94:17 Unless the LORD had been my help, my soul had almost dwelt in silence.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

September 27 is FaMEALy Day 2010

I arrived home tonight some minutes past seven and just like the other nights, I missed again a very precious dinner time with my kids. Traffic and bad weather prevents me from getting home earlier and I really regret that. I too grew up with working parents and I remember how I always look forward to each dinner time because that is our chance to gather around at a table and exchange stories and views of how our day was. It was always a very enriching conversation and a memorable moment indeed. My mother always make it a point that we eat together when she arrives from work and to make each weekend a special mealtime together. At least I always have good memories of those despite the busy schedule of my working mom.

My daughter in 6th grade approached me to hand me a letter that sort of reminding me how important shared meal time is. It was given in their school and I need to sign on the letter as a pledge to celebrate the National FaMEALy day. Then my daughter told me, “Mommy don’t forget to sign on that and don’t forget that day.” As I read through the brochure that was attached to the letter, it was the advocacy being advertised on TV by a noodle product named "Lucky Me". Lucky me indeed for receiving this kind of invitation that encourages parents like me to put best effort to practice regular family meals despite being a working parent.

I want to quote these words from their brochure "frequent family dinners are associated with lower rates of smoking, drinking and illegal drug use." and "what parents don't realize is the importance of their presence at the dinner table, that spending time with their children during mealtimes can affect the rest of their lives."

So let's mark it on our calendar to celebrate September 27 or every 4th Monday of September a FaMEALy day or better yet, let's make it EVERYDAY.

For more info or to see the information included in the brochure, just visit http://www.kainangpamilyamahalaga.com/

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Revisiting Childhood Moments at Timeless Attractions In Manila

“Mommy, we really had a great time! Can we visit there again? PLEASE…” Those were the words of my kids when they arrived home after strolling at the Manila Zoological and Botanical Garden with their cousins accompanied by their uncle and grandmother. They just can’t contain the fun they had there that it was such a never-ending story of how they spent their day.

Kids…just when you thought you have given them everything that will make them happy, they just can’t seem to have enough of those happiness that if given the chance, they wanted to do it all over again. I was also like that when I was a kid, I remember. (^O^)

“Okay.” That was all I could say to make them satisfied, and so I need to fulfill that promise. Incidentally, my husband was also planning to take the children to the park for a jogging, so I told him about the kids’ wish for another trip to the zoo for which he gladly agreed. The Manila Zoo is approximately four kilometers to the famed Rizal Park, also known as “Luneta”, one of the timeless attractions in the City of Manila. This is a great place for kids’ learning tour, a bit of nostalgia and lots of jogging activity. Perfect! The children will get to have their wish granted and the kid in me will also get to visit a place that I enjoyed before there was megamall and ocean park.

We arrived at Rizal Park close to seven o’clock in the morning with lots of people already having their jogging and exercise activity, still as busy but not too crowded as before. I made a brief visit by the sea wall of Manila Bay just to see how much it has changed. I saw that this part of Rizal Park nearby the Quirino Grandstand already gave way to commercialism. The long stretch of the sea wall has now been reduced to maybe less than twenty meters. I was surprised that many people including children still swim there despite all the garbage around and even if it was declared by local health authorities that it is unsafe to swim in Manila Bay. I hope that people who swim there will be made aware that swimming is great for the health only if without the garbage. After the jogging, we had breakfast at a nearby fast food restaurant then head straight to Manila Zoological and Botanical Garden.

The entrance fee is only PHP 40 for adults and PHP 20 for children. A very small price to pay for all the animals that the children will see inside the zoo.

There is also the playground inside where children can have fun swinging and sliding to their hearts' content.

Boating fun for everyone! The boat rent is PHP60 for 30 minutes, maximum of up to five people can be accommodated with two paddles provided for each boat. A good way to flex those muscles.

Kinder Zoo for the kids, a paid picture taking session with the animals, and there is wall climbing too.

Horse back riding for PHP60 for only one round.

The message says: (1) Always keep the zoo clean. Throw your garbage in the garbage bins. (2) Respect the habitat of the animals. Do not throw your garbage inside their cages. I hope that visitors will take the message seriously.

Take a moment to see the reptile house inside the tunnel.

More animals...

botanical garden in this part of the busy Manila...

There are more to see inside the zoo considering that it was only for PHP40.00 entrance fee. I bet the ticket price is not even enough for one tiger's meal. Sometimes I wonder, do these animals better off in captivity than in the wilderness? I think there is not much option for them. Let us just start to be more caring for them.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Straight Road or the Sea of Garbage

It is rainy season here once again, just the other day, the less than fifteen minutes downpour already caused flooding in affected parts of the metropolis. Flooding for such a short span of rainfall only means one thing, clogged drainage. Too bad it is getting worse year after year despite government efforts in improving the waterways and sewerage. And too bad we are experiencing an abnormal weather pattern that PAGASA already warned us of La NiƱa, an above normal rainfall, I hate to imagine if the rainfall would be longer than fifteen minutes. Just before election, I had this urge to bring to the attention of our mayor the worsening state of cleanliness in the metro. I got the idea from WWF on a good way to help in WWF’s environmental campaign where they encourage people to write to local politicians to demand that they do more to protect the environment. So that's what I did, here is the abridged version of my email message:

I wrote to you out of concern for the environment and in the hope that the alarming condition of our filthy streets will be given appropriate attention and action. I recognize the fact and I am thankful that you are doing best efforts to make our city at par with the rest of the world’s cities but sadly it seems that it doesn’t even come close to other places when we talk of street cleanliness. Yes there are garbage collectors and dump trucks roving around and I see street sweepers each morning who are supposed to do the job of keeping every nook as clean as possible. Yes it has improved over the years when it comes to garbage collection system but despite of all these efforts, I am saddened by the fact that rubbish still lingers anywhere even in major thoroughfare which is too far from the impression we somehow wish to project.

In this condition sir, may I suggest some poi
nts that I hope will upgrade the city’s rating on cleanliness.

Firstly, there should be garbage bins strategically located in each street for people to get used to throwing their trash in proper places. I admire the City of Davao for having such discipline and for investing in large trash bins located in almost every street corner.

Secondly, heads of each community must be strict in the implementation of cleanliness program and fine or penalize households that are not following RA 9003. Isn’t it strange that despite the dissemination of information in the local government units regarding this law, most people are still not following proper waste disposal, I doubt if they were even aware of this law?

Thirdly, mobilize the youth (“Sangguniang Kabataan) to undertake community service such as street cleaning, planting or watering plants during weekends. Such a good way to instill awareness and active involvement among the youth on the importance of keeping our surroundings clean and orderly and on starting a sensible cause on the issue of climate change rather than tolerate them spending most of their time surfing the internet which in one way or another also contribute to heat and carbon emission.

Fourthly, we can follow other cities like in Puerto Princesa, Palawan where people has this commitment of planting trees and different kinds of flora in a given period of time (especially for couples who are about to get married). Their place has been tagged as the “city within a forest or forest within a city” because of that commitment. Although it would seem a herculean task, I know you can make a difference by passing an ordinance for idle lots to be converted to urban gardens. That at least could help curb the air pollution in the city and eventually help to lessen the greenhouse effect. I was informed that some lot owners (I am referring to lots which are not being used or idle) prefer to have bare lots rather than plant a tree on it because anything planted are considered improvement which are all subject to additional tax. Is it possible to change the rule that instead of imposing tax on every tree planted on the lot, discounts should be given to lot owners on their real property taxes? That way, lot owners would be encouraged to use their lots for a very sensible purpose. If idle lot cannot be used as a living space for humans, at least make it as a living space for plants.

Lastly, the rules are already there, what is needed is the strict implementation of those rules. Authorities, residents and visitors alike MUST be informed of the strict and serious implementation of these rules and violators must be penalized. I think it is more effective if penalty should NOT be in the form of money but through community service because if we allow a mistake to be paid then the same cycle will just go on, offenders will only have the thought that they can get away with anything for as long as they have money unlike when they render community service, they will surely learn from their mistakes. I have high regard for Singapore for their strict implementation of laws on cleanliness and orderliness thus even Filipinos are very much disciplined there which gives me a ray of hope that it can also be done here.

I hope that these points will be given due cons
ideration. I trust that in the next few days, we will all be able to see the changing face of the city.

Surprisingly it reaped positive action from our local government just days after I sent the email. I was more than thankful that they really made an effort to diligently clean up the city every morning however I noticed that their action was rendered unsuccessful as the city easily gets back to its filthy state just before sundown. An apparent reason all points to the lack of discipline on proper waste disposal of the residents within the area. It is so disappointing that there are people who totally disregard the law and lack the concern for their surrounding, and they seem to have multiplied over the years. If you happen to read my related post "from peanut shells to junk food wrapper" about one parent who couldn't care enough to teach her child to dispose of his garbage properly, it will be more likely that no matter how great the efforts of the government to improve the drainage system or how frequently they collect the garbage, the problem will still remain. It will be hard for us to get off from this mess unless we start to discipline ourselves and to teach younger children to be more conscious of every piece of litter that we get rid of.

I remember a campaign song of one presidential candidate in the 2010 election “nakaligo ka na ba sa dagat ng basura?” (Have you bathed in a sea of garbage?) though it was not meant to directly inform the public about the perennial problem on careless dumping of waste, still it rings a bell. Maybe most residents in Metro Manila, rich and poor alike already experienced swimming through filthy waters late last year during typhoon Ketsana (“Ondoy”). Just in case we have already forgotten, here are some snapshots from that tragedy (all Ondoy-related pictures re-posted with permission from www.manilablog.com)

It is about time that we put heartily what President Benigno Aquino said, that we all must head to the straight path, that we all should aim to become part of the solution and not of the problem. Are you in for this call?

We all must be responsive and responsible and we better act now while we still have a choice. The straight road or the sea of garbage, what scene do you prefer?