Healthy options to dietary supplementation

by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros, #newmedia specialist

CEBU CITY, PHILIPPINES (Feb. 25, 2015) — Boomers wane.Millennials wax.

Changing patterns in consumer behavior, especially on dietary supplements, have now led to building of business empires that involve even those without full medical knowledge or its allied sciences.In attempts to push further in the market certain products, the truth supplements have on our health has become muddled by unproven claims and exaggerated guaranteed results.

Such leaves a wide misconception on what exactly it is supplements can do for us with all those thousands of brands ranging in different levels of quality, target market, manufacturing processes, among many concerns. How is a consumer to choose which supplements to take, knowing that not all food supplements are made the same?

In the US alone, dietary supplementation is a $32-billion industry being a commodity of over 180 million Americans daily. In the Philippines, there’s a growing consumer base, as observed, because of the business aspect of “living healthy.” Distributors may apply direct sales scheme but still involving networking that strengthens the ethos to “live in health, grow in wealth.”

And an obvious lack of funds for nationwide, general healthcare coverage, consumers easily ride on the “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” axiom underlined by dealers/distributors to push nutraceuticals and or herbal products.

However, American pharmacognosy expert Dr. Daniel Fabricant of the Food and Drug Administration and chief executive officer of Natural Products Association, accentuated that before you pop up a pill or two into your mouth, cross-check information on the label whether these are facts or plain claims.

This writer shared, in a forum with Dr. Fabricant here recently, that even broadcast journalists here have already been used as product endorsers of herbal supplements to increase probable consumption. In fact, this writer is turned off already, as major radio programs here carry already an overload of dietary supplementation-related commercials. All of these have easily waived responsibility by highlighting the “no approved therapeutic claims” note.

Dr. Fabricant, indeed, warned consumers to be wary about what supplements to take in. “You should be guided with your purchase. So get checked by your doctor first. For example, you may need Omega 3 fatty acids but may have possible reactions to fish allergens.”

Marine resources can also be agents of possible contaminants like mercury, the doctor added.

Other things to check out, before you believe in promises of certain products, are clinical trials. “Science doesn’t always work in sound bites. Trials are changing. Google-ing doesn’t always constitute the totality of science, so be careful with news and reports, posts and blogs that flood online.”

There’s also the difference between a genetically engineered and a genetically modified organism. So the sources of the products must be traced too. It should be important to be informed whether the contents are of natural sources or synthetic.

Another is that since some vitamins can be produced by the body, ask how much you do need daily to supplement. Carnitine, an amino acid, can be sourced from dairy and lamb while Alpha Lipoic Acid, which should be 300 mg/a day, can be sourced from potatoes, yeast, liver, kidney, spinach, and broccoli.

On the other hand, this writer learned from local internist Dr. Emmanuel Tangpuz, of the Visayas Community Hospital, in a prior interview, that there is such a thing as an overdose of B-complex since the body can actually produce this type of vitamin.Thus the need to be checked medically for blood chemistry, diet and nutrition and other vital aspects to bodily health.

The forum is a regular event of Healthy Options, a company that empowers people to take charge of their health by saying no to preservatives, additives, and artificial ingredients. Offering a forum as such is part of its policies to give consumers better choices for a better life.

Pharmacognosy, meanwhile, is the study of drugs derived from plants and animals. Dr. Fabricant has insider information on the nutritional supplements trade, including the controversial challenges and issues, having spent several years as FDA’s chief supplements enforcer. ###

SM Hypermarket opens 43rd

by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros, #newmedia specialist

LAPU-LAPU CITY, CEBU, PHILIPPINES (Feb. 26, 2015) — Happy to serve!

Albeit done mechanically by frontlinersevery once in a while, their clapping and thumbs-up remind how decisive SM is in its expansion by opening its 43rd hypermarket – the third in the densely-populated Mandaue-Lapubusiness zones.

The one-stop hypershop is at Pueblo Verde, Mactan Economic Zone II along Kadaugan Avenue in Barangay Basak, this city.

Opening specials flood via “buy-one get-one” promos and free items everyday for shoppers who purchase groceries worth P500. Examples of items up for Buy-One Get-One are 1.5L Mountain Dew on March 5, Nestle All-purpose Cream on the 6th, 10 pieces Skyflakes on Mar. 7, Alaska Cream on the 8th, Ma-Ling luncheon meat on the 9th, Snickers on the 10th and Century Tuna in vegetable oil on the 11th.

Items up for the “Everyday Free” promo are Lysol Liquid hand soap on Mar. 1, SM Bonus Boneless Chicken Tocino (19th), pork teriyaki (20th), pork tapa (21st), pork tocino (22nd), pork tonkatsu (23rd), beef tapa (24th), and SM Bonus Shanghai Mix (25th).

From Mar. 12-18, shoppers can get a kilo of SM Bonus pork sinigang cut for only P50 (fifty pesos).

Regular promos like items bearing Yellow Tags apply here, including Value Packs wherein shoppers can save up to 80 percent by getting specially bundled items that come with a free SM Bonus product.

Having an SM Advantage card is like holding a golden ticket as Advantage, Prestige and BDO Rewards card unlocks endless promos and freebies. The opening special treat includes offering Advantage cards at P150 only that comes with free 100 points and an SM green bag. When used for shopping, the bag earns for the shopper two SM Advantage points (maximum of three bags per transaction).

Hypershop is actually a combination of a department store and a grocery store where one can buy not just basic commodities but appliances, toys and infant-specific items, to name a few.

Store opens as early as 6 a.m. It is also host to food stalls like LeylamShawarma, Master Siomai, PritongManok, Thirsty? Juices and Shakes, Masitta Food Shop, and Julie’s Bakeshop. The store incorporates bill payment, foreign exchange, and Western Union money transfer services. ###

No tax rest in ravaged Bantayan Is.

by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros, #newmedia specialist

caption: Establishments like Balikbayan Resort get no tax reprieve even when badly beaten by the storm. Agnes Gilbuena, owner, reveals how they have to make ends meet: start all over again from scratch while settling dues.

BANTAYAN ISLAND, CEBU, PHILIPPINES — No such thing as zero-percent loan interest and tax rest period for Bantayan Island traders and entrepreneurs.

In its first-ever media presentation, the Bantayan Island Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BICCI) lamented how crisis lashes at them double whammy.

Having close to nothing at all to expect from the government when it comes to efficient post-Yolanda rehabilitation programs, the chamber looks at humanitarian consideration in loan grants tax reprieve and or levies, or for that fact, a rest period.

“However, it didn’t come. We have to survive crisis of sorts since we have to settle our taxes by the book while taking all the means to be able to stand above the storm,” Agnes Gilbuena who heads the hotels, bars and restaurants association here disclosed. She runs Balikbayan Resort in Santa Fe which you might want to check because of its cozy space where diners can talk – really talk over meals and wine.

Vince Escario, vice president (external) of the Bantayan Island Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a chapter of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce, also lamented on the lack of zero-percent interest rates even in the name of humanitarian consideration.

“Financial institutions have offered a one year grace period but on the second year of the loan, a six percent annual interest rate applies,” he said.

As for BICCI president Arthur Despi, he noted that even loan guarantors are asked to settle four percent in taxes, the risk being passed on to loanholders. “It’s really hard for us to cope with that because while we are trying to spread hope around here, some forms of help are also accompanied with a burden to loanholders. We are in the process of strong writing and lobbying that the Bureau of Internal Revenue relaxes their way with us, makes it a bit easier for us, knowing what we went through.”

Another burden to the island is the cargo and passenger rates. “Compared to Camotes-Danao and the Escalante-Tabuelan or Tuburan routes, the Hagnaya-Santa Fe route is shorter but more expensive. The Marina has to do something with direct shipping lines to reduce the rates especially the goods from the mainland,” Escario added.

The chamber was created last year to raise issues and provide proper forum for dialogue. It eyes collaboration among entrepreneurs in the island’s three towns, mostly fishermen, to understand the dynamics of economics in their trade and distribute efficiently the benefits of rehab efforts in the area.

This is the first-ever media presentation of the BICCI in line with the #iBLOGforBANTAYAN event, a brainchild of Escario’s, which saw the convergence of the Cebu Blogging Community and traditional media, as well as the Philippine Information Agency-7 in shouting out social good as Bantayan Island takes a proverbial resurrection from the ashes.

After the presentation, the #iBLOGforBANTAYAN participants were taken to a GawadKalinga site to take a literal stance to “ecovoluntourism.” The group took over shoveling and painting, and other construction works, as our share in rebuilding and relearning hope.

The area in Barangay Ticad is actually intended for a municipal village. GawadKalinga houses sit on an eight-hectare lot, with 300 units now home to some 59 families.GawadKalinga is connected to social enterprise “Human Nature,” a pro-Philippines, pro-environment, pro-poor beauty and wellness products. GK is best known for its sweat equity scheme in providing mass housing.###

Bikini open ‘strange to Bantayan’

by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros, #newmedia specialist

BANTAYAN ISLAND, CEBU, PHILIPPINES — Out of sight.Out of mind.

Bantayan Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Arthur Despi pointed out that because some beach resorts here rent out their spaces to private event organizers, the latter think they already have the freedom to stage any show they want even if such collides with local sensibilities.

“As for BCCI, the staging of a bikini open is out of sight and out of mind. I mean, it is not the Bantayanons’ spirit, therefore it is strange to us,” he said in reply to a concern that such an event may happen again now that the island has already risen after being ravaged by Yolanda.

The influx of tourists is expected already weeks to the observance of Lent. Bantayan Island has always been a favorite destination of domestic and international tourists alike because it has fine sandy beaches, 14 islets suitable for hopping, distinct fishing practices having the sea as a natural resource heritage, and interesting religious practices like feasting on meat on supposed fasting season. This is in relation to a past Papal Bull exempting the island from fasting because of oversupply of food stock in the old days.

The anxiety over staging of bikini opens stems from a past event that obviously scandalized the locals and brought the organizer, including celebrity guests from Manila, apologizing to former Governor Gwen Garcia for hurting local sensibility, emphasizing stomping on women’s dignity here. ###

‘Pantawid Pamilya’ style sought in Yolanda cash aid

by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros, #newmedia specialist

caption: VINCE ESCARIO of the Municipality of Bantayan in Bantayan Island, Cebu speaks before bloggers and print media on various concerns during an #iBLOGforBANTAYAN event organized by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, local government units of Bantayan Island, Cebu Blogging Community, and the Philippine Information Agency-Cebu.

BANTAYAN ISLAND, CEBU, PHILIPPINES (Feb. 21, 2015) — So as not to stain the distribution of post-Yolanda cash assistance with political color, Mr. Vince Escario of the Municipality of Bantayan emphasized that the Department of Social Welfare and Development should facilitate it using the dynamics of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino conditional cash transfer.

Speaking before bloggers and print media practitioners in a “couch session,” Escario of the town’s Public Information Office, stated on behalf of Mayor Ian Christopher Escario, that since DSWD vowed of cash aid worth P375 million to some 17,000 families here, the amount should not be downloaded to the LGU coffers but be distributed directly to beneficiaries in the Pantawid Pamilya system.

“How are we to choose the beneficiaries if there’s only half of the amount available? Shall we based it alphabetically? Or shall we base it on who is severely affected,” Escario presented these points during the early part of the session.

It was learned that by December 19, half of the amount was ready for download to the LGU coffers. However, banks were closed during the long Christmas holidays, so such left a query on how to download the remaining 50 percent.

Further, new qualification guidelines were issued thereafter, so that “an estimated 60 percent of the 17,000 families might not be able to receive help,” Escario stressed.

“DSWD changed course suddenly, why change rules in the middle of the game?” Escario accentuated further.

Bantayan, Madridejos, and Santa Fe towns comprise Bantayan Island in the northernmost of Cebu Province. The island has 500 barangays and 14 islets considered to be the most vulnerable zones in the Province of Cebu, lying on a typhoon path and having other issues like unstable governance policies triggered by changes in leadership that “erase the memory of past administration every time.”

“That’s why political continuity is highly backed here [Bantayan town] because of sustenance of political programs.”

The mayor’s spokesperson went on to confirm an undercurrent of division among leaders in here. When asked by this writer on the awkward civility among leaders that poorly masks a state of being in good terms, Escario answered straightforwardly that though the three mayors are in “working relationships,” there is indeed differences in opinions about certain policies and management styles in running the island as one.

“I don’t know if I can use the term ‘municipalism’ to mean the equivalent of ‘regionalism’ here,” Escario quipped.

A separate statement from the DSWD will be part of this blog. Meanwhile, this writer is coordinating with the DSWD-7 Public Information Office for comment. ###

Int’l rock climbers bare SPOT project

by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros, #newmedia specialist

caption: (L-R) Caroline Ciavaldini, James Pearson, and Yuji Hirayama brief local climbers and enthusiasts on the SPOT Project at the ActiveZone of the Ayala Center Cebu across ROX.

CEBU CITY, PHILIPPINES — North Face rock climbing ambassadors James Pearson, Yuji Hirayama and Caroline Ciavaldini, in cooperation with directors Miel Pahati and Ina Pahati, met local climbers and checked the Cantabaco (Toledo City) natural wall formation in a climbing event recently in line with their SPOT Filipino Climbers Project wherever crags are in the country.

SPOT is an acronym for Share, Progress , Open, Teach.

“We will Share with Filipino climbers our climbing experience as well as climbing equipment,” the three shared in a gathering prior to the Cantabaco event. “We want to Progress together, learning from each other, climbing higher and harder,” they added.

“We are Open to them, and will Open new routes for them to drive forward the level of the community and to give them challenges to aspire. We will Teach them how to bolt, how to train and climb on different terrains.”

The SPOT Project is about helping each other, about spotting climbing buddies.

Pearson and Ciavaldini mentioned of turning over around 150 kilos of equipment like bolts, drills, crash pads and shoes, among many items, to climbphilippines to support this extreme sports here.

Ciavaldini and Pearson head Climbers Without Borders, an organization that brings together climbers all over the world to aid and support other climbing communities in developing the sport in their own localities. The SPOT Project is seen to create a support network between a global climbing community and local climbers. This would help local areas to develop climbing by collecting and sending in equipment, helping in developing crags by bolting more routes, and through financial, logistical or technical support supported by private and public sponsors within the network.

The dynamics of the SPOT were used at Cantabaco which is one of most interesting limestone crags in Southeast Asia. Grades here go from 6a to 8a+ with the majority in the 7 range characterized by pockets, tuffas, overhangs, crimps and slopes, offering around 40 routes up on the cliff.

The event was backed by ROX (Recreational Outdoor Exchange) aside from Climb Philippines and The North Face.###

Burger King opens drive-thru in Cebu

by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros, #newmedia specialist

Image from

CEBU CITY, PHILIPPINES — Burger King is giving the Cebu community not just the usual dine-in and take-out store but a new restaurant with a first-ever drive-through facility. This is the first outside of Luzon and in the Visayas region.

The drive-thru facility of the resto in F. Cabahug, Mabolo makes it more exciting as motorists need not go down to enjoy the world-famous Whopper, the brand’s signature offer.

“They simply need to drive-thru and order all the burger goodness of Burger King right in the comfort of their vehicle,” an official statement was issued on the opening of the new branch here last February 12.

To recall, Burger King opened their first Visayas outlet here at the Ayala Center Cebu particularly last November 20, 2014. “The response was not just encouraging but grand as thousands visit the store on a daily basis,” the statement further reads.

The house’s specialty, Whopper Burger, is said to be “always extra juicy and ensures that it locks in the flavor to create the best burger experience that guests from Cebu can now enjoy.”

Aside from the classic Whopper, Burger King has also brought its famous 4-Cheese Whopper to the Philippines. It has four cheese varieties. “It is the only burger that lets you experience what a cheeseburger should taste like,” the Burger King service team assured.

The Mabolo resto is the 44th restaurant of Burger King here in the country.###

Habagat relaunches basic mountaineering, kayaking courses

CEBU CITY, PHILIPPINES — Habagat Outdoor Equipment once again organizes the “Pundok Habagat Basic Mountaineering Course and Basic Kayaking Course.”Both are said to be connecting activities to the relaunch of the series, an official statement reads.

The events are slated on February 21 and 22 to be facilitated by the Mountaineering Federation of the Philippines, Inc. This will involve discussion on the history of the said mountaineering community. Meanwhile, basic kayaking teaches techniques in how to paddle as well as first aid administration and safety management.

The courses will be at the Phercris Beach, Marigondon, Lapu-Lapu City. These events are expected to be joined in by aspiring outdoor enthusiasts and responsible mountaineers eager to learn and relearn the basics and enjoy the outdoors safely.

BMC skills such as camp selection, basic knot tying, and water and garbage management will be discussed on the overnight training. Basic paddling skills including Equipment Care and Handling will be given emphasis during a four-hour lecture and skills check.

As of this writing, 27 of the 30 slots for the BMC have already been taken. The kayak course, however, is still open for registration. For more information, call Jake Ave at 0906.334.0603 or email (Habagat Communications)

#Fallen44’s bro still banks on peace but…

by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros, #newmedia specialist

Images grabbed from

CONSOLACION, CEBU, PHILIPPINES (Feb. 7, 2015) — Richard Cempron, brother of PO1 Romeo Cempron, one of the #Fallen44 who perished in a clash against Moro Islamic Liberation Front warriors and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, shared that peace should be pursued in Central Mindanao’s areas of conflict like Maguindanao despite the flak.

At the wake of his youngest brother, in a brood of four – all males, Cempron pointed out hostility can never inculcate peace among residents of Maguindanao, and that continued conflicts will only give rise to more armed groups, more displaced people affecting mostly women and children.

“I don’t want to be carried away by what happened to my brother. As a policeman myself, I need to be objective in looking at his case. Currently, we have to grieve over such a great loss. But after this, as we seek justice, we also have to believe that only peaceful negotiations can give way to end fighting in Maguindanao,” Cempron who is based in Quezon City disclosed.

“Pag all-out war kasi mas marami lang ang masasaktan. Katulad niyang nangyari sa brother ko, napatanong ako: Patay na nga bakit pa nila ginanyan,” he added. Cempron shared how disgusted he is upon learning of his brother’s broken skull. He also divulged that some other SAF troopers suffered from hack wounds, one with a slashed throat.

When asked on speculations that the police are demoralized by the tragedy, Cempron said he is devastated emotionally. “Do’n talaga sa suporta. Nakukulangan ako sa suporta sa amin ng itaas. At may isa pa akong katanungan na gusto kong masagot in the process of an inquiry: Bakit hindi ang CIDG (Criminal Investigation and Detection Group) ang nag-serve ng warrant?”

Cempron remembers Romeo as a “very good brother.” He said that Romeo used to cajole him when it comes to his collection of (firearm) magazines. “Hihingin niya kasi minsan meron akong dalawang extrang mags. Naghihiraman na kasi kami talaga ng gamit dati pa. Nagugustuhan niya Smith & Wesson na posas (handcuffs) ko. Yun lang naman kasi ang common ground naming magkakapatid kasi nakalinya kami sa pagpupulis,” Cempron mentioned.

When sought for comment on alleged interest on the bounty placed upon Zulkifli Bin Hir’s head, having been identified responsible in a series of bombing incidents in Southeast Asia, Cempron clarified it is irrational to think that a US$5 million (P200 million) could trigger the assault knowing that said amount couldn’t suffice to launch a nationwide political campaign.

“Napakaliit na amount ng P200 million as campaign funds. For purposes of achievement talaga yang mga secret operations sa hanay ng pulisya. Achievement to boost the institution. Andami na kasi nilang na-achieve talaga. Latest yung Zamboanga siege. But the rest hindi lang nagli-leak sa media. Kung hindi sumablay sa Mamasapano malamang it would be credited to the government, at nasa likod lang talaga ang SAF,” Cempron further revealed.

Meanwhile, widow of the late PO1 Windel Candano, the Dumanjug native (southwestern side of Cebu) who is also of the #Fallen44, reiterated she would pursue public service by becoming a police officer herself. Michelle Candano said briefly that she is serious and would seek to experience how hard were the duties rendered by her husband to the country.

Michelle informed that interment will be on February 8 (tomorrow), but that the two elite commandos will be accorded volleys of fire first at the Central Command-7.###

Blogging augments reporting via curation

by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros, #newmedia specialist

Caption: Marietta Le of Hungary, Tadeo Rodriguez of Mexico, and Malou Mangahas of the Philippines present in a discussion how to make weblogging more meaningful to society.

CEBU CITY, PHILIPPINES (Jan. 24, 2015) — Bloggers can certainly up the ante, in terms of reportage, by serving as fact checkers and information curators, and in the process develop ourselves as trusted go-to sources of data in upholding accountability and transparency.

The idea came up as a result of a discussion on “How to make freedom of information laws work (for everyone)” moderated by Global Voices blogger Ellery Biddle with Hungarian national Marietta Le, Mexican national Tadeo Rodriguez, and Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism executive director Malou Mangahas for panelists. This happened on the first day of a two-day Global Voices Citizen Media Summit here.

While every government can readily post online data on contracts and other related government spending, such does not guarantee honesty, accuracy, and integrity most especially.

Mangahas called on digital media users, activists, immigrants, developers, creatives, and the like, to effect integrity of information via fact checking and proper curation. Data like figures, statistics, and assets, for example, according to Mangahas should translate to something sensible; information that can be understood and analyzed.

“We have to build that demand for right to information. But not just information that can readily be provided by government workers. We have to be able to decipher truth in every piece of information they provide online. We have the right to know right now, but we also have to make sure that what we know is accurate, therefore can be trusted,” Mangahas ascertained.

She said that the Philippines still has to see good record keeping by our government agencies. “We are to shore up numeracy among our people. But some really are just products of some talking heads. We have to understand the dynamics of government, how our budgets are being distributed, how taxpayers money is being fiddled. When we report, we put people’s lives at stake. Who will be there to stand up to truth?”

Global blogging communities are therefore encouraged to stand up to the cause of transparency and accountability. By standing up, it entails the eagerness to collaborate and cross-promote.

Marietta Le mentioned, in her presentation, how social media expression helped encourage government response to the question “on the necessity of spending for three fighter jets during a football stadium inauguration.”

Le pointed out that 4,000 requests were made via electronic mail to the national government of Hungary questioning how their obviously football fanatic President could have requested budget for three fighter jets.

The answer came upon the pressure caused by strong online expression and public opinion against the move purportedly wasting government funds. The Ministry of Defense had admitted to accommodating a “verbal request” for fighter jets as part of a regular drill.

“Such doesn’t make sense actually. It is only in Hungary that you can order orally fighter jets. The government has a ready answer as expected. However, social media activism raised a good point there. Its presence felt, and so gives the government the jolt,” Le expressed.

Meanwhile, Tadeo Rodriguez shared sentiments in Philippine political scenarios as the culture reflects that of home, Mexico. Like in the Philippines, patronage politics is also strong in Mexico and so it is challenging to track campaign spending, wealth of public officials, land records, conditional cash transfers. “On top of the challenge is to ensure that one’s rights online will also be protected offline,” he shared, reiterating that money politics also thrives online.

Further, Robin Moroney of Google Philippines, in his presentation, guided citizen media practitioners that we can augment reporting by serving as “trusted go-to sources” ourselves.

“At first glance, bloggers might not really have real advantage over legacy media practitioners. But if you can help correct and establish veracity of facts, you can make data journalism get commodified,” he pointed out.

“Curate and own the beat. Become reliable sources yourselves of information that can be trusted,” Moroney further encouraged.

Such call has given the local blogger-participants an idea to begin a curation on a 2016 polls for comparative purposes. Rechecking of data to that of Comelec tabulation can be optimized using Google tools.###