Friday, November 28, 2008

Pia Cayetano’s Cause

Through the wonders of Skype technology, Sen. Pia Cayetano was able to address the participants of the seminar on women, media and tobacco in Boracay from her house in Metro Manila and ask them to support her proposed Senate bills that face down the powerful tobacco industry.
Among other features, the bills recommend a graphic health warning, a photograph showing the gruesome ill effects of smoking on the body. This photo will occupy 60 percent of the cigarette pack and is meant to discourage smoking. It is found to be more effective than the small textual warning at the bottom of the pack and can be understood even by illiterates in farflung places that are still be reached by tobacco products.
Sen Cayetano bemoaned there is widespread ignorance of smoking’s consequences. She remembered joining a fun run in San Pablo, Laguna, and espying along the route a young father holding his toddler in one arm and a lighted cigarette on the same hand. Heedlessly he exhaled smoke that also shrouded the child. She found it ironic that there she was enjoying her rights to health and clean air of the countryside while this father imperiled his child’s health.Talk about irresponsible parenthood! Upper photo shows the senator on screen. Lower photo shows some of the participants. Photos by Sinag de Leon-Amado

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Holy Smokes

Buhay pa ba ang taong iyan (Is this person still alive)?” The aghast radiologists at the Makati Medical Center commented, first upon seeing the chest x-rays of 1950s matinee idol Oscar Moreno, and later, those of television host Pete Roa. These important men in actress Boots Anson-Roa’s life—her father, then her husband—both lost their lives to the vicious vice and killer of modern times, tobacco. Her mother, tired of inhaling her husband’s secondhand smoke and unable to convince him to stop, also took up the habit with the same dire consequences.
So Boots may be called not only a Cigaret Widow (a title bestowed on her by journalist Barbara Mae Dacanay at the recent seminar “Glamour, Smoke and Mirrors:Women, Media and Tobacco at the Boracay Tropics), she is also a Cigaret Orphan.
Pete Roa became an anti-smoking advocate at a late stage when his life was ebbing. Boots recalled he never took his illnesses against God and always admitted, “I brought this upon myself.”
The widow has embraced the cause of anti-smoking. Her son-in-law, Rep. Robbie Puno of Antipolo City, is also doing his part in Congress to help pass a bill that would strengthen the anti-tobacco law, using Pete’s illness and death to bolster his position. Photo by Sinag de Leon-Amado

Friday, November 14, 2008

Sunflower Season

“Don’t you think we have a bit of paradise here?” Sr. Emma Paloma, ICM, asked , her face awash with a smile and her inner sunshine. I looked out the sliding capiz windows of the Teahouse at the ICM House of Prayer, and there was a framed view of a peaceful garden, all dewy and with shafts of afternoon sunlight falling on the pine tree branches.

All over Baguio’s vacant hillsides, sunflowers blaze in the color of hope. They bloom untended at this time of the year, lovelier than a thousand Van Goghs as a former city resident describes them. And as the temperature dips further, it won’t be long when the poinsettia leaves begin reddening. Emma is right about bits of paradise scattered here and there. I can only capture a weak impression.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Ani the Annihilator

“It was so masochistic,” feminist Anna Leah Sarabia said of her first impression of triathlon, the grueling sport her eldest daughter Sinag de Leon took up involving kilometers of swimming, running and biking. Then her second daughter Ani pursued it, too, going beyond her limits until she became the first Filipino to compete in the Ironman Triathlon Challege in Kona, Hawaii, this year. Wearing a People R People spaghetti-strapped, knee-length dress that showed off her well-toned arms and becomingly muscular legs, she went up the stage Nov. 5 at the Peninsula Manila Conservatory to receive her glass trophy as one of the 10 Women of the World picked by the three-year-old Marie Claire magazine. Ani’s bronze skin glowed even more under the spotlight as she thanked the magazine for celebrating womanity. Isabela Gov Grace Padaca, another awardee, lauded Marie Claire for recognizing not only “the beauty of women but also the beauty of the things they do.”

There were four generations of Sarabia women beaming proudly that evening: grandma Lourdes, who in her 80s can still drive from Quezon City to her home province of Quezon, mother Anna Leah, a former Woman of the World awardee herself, strong, invincible Ani and her niece Raya, a budding basketball player. Photo courtesy of ANI DE LEON’S FACEBOOK

Sunday, November 2, 2008


The CT Scan of my brain revealed an “ill-defined hypodense zone in the anterior limb and genu of the right external capsule as well as the right lentiform nucleus," in layman’s language, a mild stroke. The doctor said one possible side effect is short-term memory loss. Visiting me at the acute stroke unit of the Medical City, my brother Dennis quizzed me: When is my birthday? June 24, 1955 (check). What is the name of the pug at my mother’s house in Pasig? Bruno (check). He points to my youngest sister Gigi. How much money does she owe you? “Plenty,” I joked. That was typical poker-face Dennis humor.

Bruno has become the family baby. Like me, his weight is being watched. He is completely useless as a guard dog. He only barks thrice a day to remind us of his meal. My daughter Kimi came home late one evening, went to his cage and called out his name repeatedly. He didn’t stir, he continued sleeping and could be heard snoring. Now that Bruno and I are both on a strict diet, he feels starved and munches on leaves when taken for walks the way I munch Romaine lettuce leaves with a light vinaigrette dressing. I only have to frown and pucker my lips and we can pass for lookalikes. Photo taken at Bonifacio High Street by GIGI LOLARGA