We have to accept the painful truth that there are times when we become instruments in shaking the faith and in breaking the spirit of others, to be their stumbling block, a rock, a pothole in their journey to spiritual enlightenment.
What would make it bad is when we continue to participate in the turmoil of others despite the realization and knowledge of the role we are playing.
For this, let our daily effort be that we become a spring of hope and encouragement for others by continually sending good wishes to others, even those who've hurt us and are still hurting us. For we may not know that those people who's hurting us, feels the same way towards us.
Come April 1, I will be opening a new chapter in my life, this time as an Aspirant to the Ordo Fratrum Beatae Virginis Mariae de Monte Carmelo (OCarm), a mendicant order in the Roman Catholic Church. (Know more of the OCarms in the Philippines, here). If God wills, I will be a Carmelite priest in 8 years time.
A lot of my friends were surprised, honestly because they believed that my decision came suddenly, and since many know that I was not raised a Catholic. In fact, I only had a week to finish all my responsibilities at work, since it was roughly two weeks ago when I learned that the two-months Aspirancy program of the order will be starting this Monday.
I was happy of course, but my biggest challenge was how I'd be able to leave all my responsibilities at work, knowing that many will be burdened by my sudden absence. Another would be how to break the news to my mother, who is a preacher at a born-again Christian congregation.
Truly, this journey is a journey of faith. And when we answer a spiritual calling, one must have the faith that whatever is left behind will be taken cared of by God.
This decision rests on two of Christ's basic commandments.
When Christ was asked by a Pharisee and a lawyer as to what is God's greatest commandment,
Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:37-40, NIV).
I always believe that each person's spiritual journey is his own. There is no such thing as substitution. We make our decisions, we travel our own journeys.
Each of the journey we take is an expression of our faith and our love for our God, whoever he may be, and this brings me to my other belief - the universality of spirituality.
God has different names depending on one's tradition, but faith is universal, and by faith, I mean the belief in one Supreme God.
In the passage I quoted earlier, Christ said that there are two basic commandments: To love God and to love others.
Our expression of our love for our God may be different, but such love is there. We cannot say that one has lesser love for his God than the other because we will never know why his extent of showing such love is only up to that point. Others are just not as expressive.
This is my way of expressing my love for Christ - to follow a path of contemplation, prayer, and meditation.
I am blessed to have parents who are very supportive of our decisions. All my life I have donned several masks - a student activist, a physical therapist, a journalist, a spiritual traveler. In all the decisions that I've made, although most may not be to the liking of my parents, they would never do anything to force me, to bend me to their will. They always allowed us to grow on our own, with them as guides. They were full of advice, their worries always merged in it. But they trust us, that as responsible adults we will eventually make a decision that will determine our future. With this faith, and with faith in God, I know that my mom will accept and respect my decision.
With the second commandment, loving others, the Carmelite way of being with the people answers this commandment. It believes in social justice and I embrace such belief.
I do not subscribe to groups who believe that their ways are the only ones that are true, and this has always guided me in my decision to embrace everyone regardless of faith, gender, ideology, or affiliation. Even those whose beliefs do not conform with mine, I make effort to understand them and respect them.
Religion has taught me to be intolerant of others' beliefs, believing that our path is the only right path, but all throughout my adult life I've come to learn that there is no one right path to salvation, and that the only genuine expression of God's love is when we live God's teachings in our life - and that is to live a life of love, tolerant and respectful of the uniqueness of others and willing to serve and to immediately say, 'Achcha, Yes Lord,' when called.
Now, I say, 'Achcha, Father. Use me to be a light to the world and to preach your Gospel of Peace.'
CEBU, Philippines - Walking for at least 30-minutes a day might help you avoid getting diabetes.
This was the message that the Philippine Diabetic Athletes (PDAT) wanted to convey during its one-day forum in Cebu last February 23 with the theme, “Lose Weight, Get Active... Fight Diabetes!”
The event gathered together doctors, nutritionists, and coaches to speak on various topics on diabetes and an active lifestyle.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes, medically referred to as diabetes mellitus, is a life-long disease marked by high levels of sugar in the blood.
These high levels of sugar is not just because we eat too much sweets, says Dr. Marian K. Denopol, a Cebu-based diabetologist who gave a briefer on what diabetes is and how an active lifestyle could help prevent the outset of the disease.
She said that the level of sugar in our blood is regulated by a compound called insulin and people with diabetes either has too little insulin in their blood or has a problem with their body responding to insulin thus absorption of sugar by the body becomes difficult.
How did the sugar get into our blood?
When we speak of sugar, it’s not just the one that we use to sweeten our coffee. That is but one form of sugar. Every food that we eat contains one form of sugar or another, but the primary form of sugar used by our body is glucose.
Glucose fuels the body. It is our body’s primary energy source. When our body lacks glucose, our brains would tell us that we are hungry, and so we eat. Too low sugar levels is a condition called hypoglycemia and can be very dangerous.
Symptoms include weakness, drowsiness, hunger, irritability, sweating, and even, in severe cases, loss of consciousness and brain damage.
In contrast, as with the case of diabetes, when sugar levels are too high (hyperglycemia), one would expect frequent urination, obesity, thirst, appetite change, blurred vision, tiredness, headache, slow wound healing, yeast infections, urinary tract infections, dry skin and itching, numbness and tingling, irritability, high blood pressure, and irregular weight changes.
Diabetes and the active lifestyle
Beyond insulin injections or controlling one’s intake of sugary food, an active lifestyle helps put our blood sugar levels in check.
Studies have shown that physical activity could lower blood glucose levels and blood pressure; lower levels of bad cholesterol while raising levels of good cholesterol; improve the body’s ability to use insulin; help lose weight; reduce body fat; give more energy; and reduce stress levels.
Denopol recommends regular physical activity as this could help prevent the onset of diabetes. Walking for at least 30 minutes is the best form of physical activity or exercise that could promote weight loss, she said.
“It is the best form of exercise because it is for free and it can be done anytime of your choosing,” she said.
Thirty minutes of moderate physical activity and five to 10 percent weight loss could reduce the chances of diabetes by 58 percent, she said.
Denopol also recommends to cut back on calorie and fat intake, as well as on making a habit out of having a healthy breakfast.
“When you don’t eat breakfast, tendency is you would try to recover the needed calories by eating more on your next meal. This could be up to three times the usual,” she said.
She also advises that we keep a record of what we eat, our daily physical activity, and more importantly our weight.
“You should implement a weight loss program, on your own or with others,” she said.
Walking for five to 10 minutes right after meals is also a great way to control weight, she said.
Diabetes is a very common disorder that we sometimes fail to recognize the seriousness and the urgency of treating it. However, with a few tweaks in our lifestyle, like adding a few physical activity, this condition could be addressed dramatically.
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The writer is a licensed Physical Therapist. Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @tribong_upos. He blogs at http://tribong-upos.xanga.com.
CEBU, Philippines - Fuente Oro Business Suites boasts of its homey atmosphere palpably felt the moment one steps into the hotel’s glass doors.
Lilian Co, the hotel’s vice president, told The FREEMAN that several years ago when they bought the property where the hotel now stands, they had no definite plans as to what they would do with it. But news came to them that the city is in constant need of rooms that would accommodate the increasing number of travelers and tourists into the city. That was when they decided to transform what they used as a lodging house into what is now Fuente Oro.
Fuente Oro has 63 rooms classified into standard room with two single beds; superior room with one single bed and a twin bed; the deluxe rooms that has one king bed; the junior suite with one queen bed; and the suite room with one king bed and could also double as an exclusive function room for private concept parties of at most ten persons.
It also has several function rooms including one that could accommodate 100 guests. The smaller rooms are great for meetings and small gathers of 15 to 20 persons.
Co said that what inspire them are the comments that they get from satisfied guests.
“We are new, only three years old, but we constantly renovate and upgrade our facility,” she said adding that this embodies their passion and commitment to provide their guests an experience during their stay at the hotel.
Although the hotel does not have a dedicated restaurant, it has Cupcake Society, a coffee shop ran by her son where the best homemade cupcakes this side of town could be enjoyed. And to keep up with the times, the hotel also has reliable wi-fi access, among its many other amenities.
The best part with staying at Fuente Oro Business Suite is that it is a partner hotel of The FREEMAN, so expect to wake up with a copy of the paper and be informed on what latest happenings in the city including trends and tips on best places to visit.
Fuente Oro Business Suites is located along Gov. M. Roa Street in Capitol Site, just a stone’s throw away from Coco Mall and Cebu Doctors Hospital. For more information, call 2687912 or email them at info@fuente oro.com. Online bookings are accepted in their site at www.fuenteoro.com.
First saw print in The FREEMAN on 5 March 2013 with the title "A home away from home" and subsequently published in PhilStar.com.
The energetic and radiant hue of emerald green has been declared the spring color of 2013. While green shirts, pants and jackets will be seen everywhere this season, so should green food on your plate.
Bright emerald green is symbolic of spring and food bursting with flavor and nutrients.
“You will be well on your way to spring “cleaning” your diet by incorporating these free-radical absorbing foods,” said Kari Kooi, a registered dietitian at The Methodist Hospital in Houston. “Eating clean is a buzzword for a wholesome, unprocessed diet that drastically limits ultra-processed foods made from inferior ingredients while embracing whole foods like fruits and vegetables,”
Here are five green powerhouse foods to help stylize your plate:
Asparagus: Looking for a natural anti-ager? Emerging in the springtime, these green spears offer a bounty of nutrients. Asparagus is high in glutathione, an antioxidant that can help reduce skin damage from the sun. Additionally, asparagus contains the most folate of any vegetable. Folate plays a vital role in heart health and the prevention of birth defects.
Avocado: Add some thin slices of smooth avocado to your sandwich or salad without feeling guilty. The monounsaturated fat in avocado is what’s mostly responsible for avocado’s super food status. This type of happy fat can help drive down levels of bad cholesterol.
Brussels Sprouts: These baby cabbages are loaded with antioxidants and filling fiber. A cruciferous vegetable, Brussels sprouts contain powerful, cancer-fighting sulfur compounds that are responsible for their pungent aroma. These green vegetables take on a whole new flavor and crispy texture when roasted in the oven.
Kale: This beautiful ruffled green is being called “the queen of greens.” Kale is brimming with eye-nourishing cartotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, a pair of phytochemicals that has been shown to prevent macular degeneration and cataracts. Additionally, kale is a better source of calcium than spinach as it has lower levels of oxalic acid, a compound that interferes with calcium absorption.
Kiwifruit: Rich in vitamin C, potassium and fiber, kiwis make a perfect portable snack. Just slice a kiwifruit in half and scoop out the emerald flesh with a spoon. This sweet and tart fruit has a unique taste, with flavors reminiscent of strawberry, banana, melon, pineapple, and citrus.
“For your health this season, go ahead and add splashes of green to your plate as well as your wardrobe,” Kooi said.
CEBU, Philippines - Nothing beats home cooked meals.
Regardless how expensive the ingredients of restaurant dishes are, somehow, mom or grandma’s cooking tastes better. It’s not simply patronizing family, but it’s the simple truth.
Even with today’s difficulty in procuring the best ingredients for whatever dish you plan to create, or the lack of ingredients what with the current crisis, home cooked meals have somehow that taste of comfort, perhaps making it even more delicious.
And of course we can’t credit this to unhealthy instant chemical-based seasoning and flavoring marketed today with the promise that it would make your dish taste like the meal you’re trying to prepare.
That’s just it, home cooked meals taste better. That is the reason why the philosophy of home cooking has become the trademark of Kul Kitchen, including that of its latest addition to the Kul family: Kulsina Seafood Grill in J Centre Mall.
Kul is a Sanskrit word that roughly translates to family, and according to Kul creator Chef Steven Edward Tan, that is how he envisioned the Kul restaurants to be, a place where friends and family would get together, bond, and to create memories.
Recently, Cebu’s media were treated to lunch at Kulsina and Chef Steven prepared some of his best sellers, which I presume must have been hard for him to choose. Based on his admission, many of their creations are favorites of returning guests, depending on the group.
Served were Chicken Kuldon Bleu, which is breaded chicken rolled around pieces of ham and cheese and then topped with corn cream sauce; Ginataang Tangigue, mackerel cooked in rich coconut milk; Cheese Ribs, a Kul specialty of pork ribs generously bathed in lasagna sauce and topped with melted cheese; Sesame Fish Fillet, fish fillet topped with a sauce of mixed sesame oil, oyster sauce and honey; Ham and egg salad, which is mixed greens with generous slices of ham and scrambled eggs tossed into the salad; Pasta Hungarian, pasta and hungarian sausage in tomato sauce; Mushroom Beef, that’s stir fried garlic, beef, and mushroom, with mashed potato; and a soup of pureed onions with mixed seafood.
Chef Steven disclosed that eighty percent of their food is cream-based simply because that is what his brothers, who happen to be his tasters, prefer. And that is why his cooking at Kulsina is home cooked — the food served at the restaurant is basically what he serves to his family.
Cooking came naturally to Chef Steven. Although he finished a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, he took up culinary arts at the Philippine School of Culinary Arts to pursue his passion for cooking.
He said that his biggest challenge was to bring the message to prospective customers that their food is quite affordable.
“Our seats used to be all wood, but we decided to change some to monobloc chairs just so people would come in and realize for themselves that we are not that expensive,” shared Chef Steven, adding that although they want to make their restaurant’s look to be elegant and classy, it tends to give a wrong impression on prospective customers who would shy away from expensive looking restaurants.
Kulsina’s food is quite affordable, with satisfying meals starting at P50.
To try Kulsina’s home cooked meals, visit them at the ground floor of J Centre Mall, A. S. Fortuna Street, Mandaue City.
First saw print in The FREEMAN on 5 March 2013, and subsequently published inPhilStar.com.
CEBU, Philippines - For the sake of beauty, more and more unconventional and controversial treatments are made available to the public, the most recent of which is stem cell therapy.
The first time I encounteredstem cell therapy was when I visited a stem cell bank in Quezon City. The stem cells in the bank are from the umbilical cord of newborn babies. The rationale of the project was for parents to store the stem cells of their babies for future use. You see, stem cells are believed to be the answer to most medical problems in the world including cancer, autism, and even the most trivial beauty concerns.
Last month, one of the country’s premier beauty brands,Flawless, introduced their newest state-of-the-art service harnessing the potential of stem cells.
The least controversial would be its line of topical stem cell products which is fruit-based as it uses apple stem cells.
The treatment is said to be effective for acne, for erasing scars and stretch marks, to smoothen out wrinkles, and to even out dark spots. It is also said to be effective for the treatment of hair problems like alopecia or extreme hair loss.And then there’s Frac & Roll, which was introduced last year. The service uses what is called fractional needling – delicately tiny needles introduced into the skin for effective penetration of a serum that contains biological stem cells.
The latest addition to the clinic’s stem cell therapy service is the direct infusion of young human stem cells either into the blood vessel (intravenous) or to be injected directly into the skin (intradermal) that’s showing signs of imperfection.
Previously, these procedures were only available in other countries, popularly Germany, where many well-to-do ageing celebrities and politicians have gone to get their dose of this life elixir to rejuvenate. Through Flawless, these life-giving procedures are now available in the country.
Flawless CEO Rubby Sy revealed during a lunch gathering with select members of the media that the human stem cells they use come from a reputable medical institution in Russia. These stem cells are from the bone marrows of young Russians aged 20 to 25.
“We do it two ways, one is via IV [intravenous] to make you feel better, to make you feel more excited and to increase your libido,” Sy said.
“Pero meron namang intradermal, which was Dr. Vicki Belo’s very good idea. Sa skin lang [ini-inject] to address mga wrinkles (There's also intraderman, which was Dr. Vicki Belo's very good idea. The serum is injected into the skin to address wrinkles),” she added.
Sy assured that since the stem cells are sourced from a very credible Russian medical institution that’s been processing stem cells for more than 40 years, and since all specimens are screened for diseases and other impurities, clients are assured of quality stem cells that would definitely address their beauty concerns.
So, what are stem cells?
Stem cells are immature cells that still have to decide what kind of cell they would be – whether muscle cell, blood cell, brain cell, or virtually any cell that our body is in need of for repair and development.
These cells are of two broad types: embryonic and adult.
Embryonic stem cells are difficult to come by, mostly because of ethical issues. Adult stem cells, on the other hand, can be sourced from the bone marrow, as the case with the stem cells used by Flawless; from fat cells, which is extracted through liposuction; or from blood through a process called pheresis, where blood is extracted from the body and after removing the stem cell, is returned to the body.
There are also other ways of getting stem cells. Cord blood stem cell has some of the characteristics of embryonic stem cell, but since it is taken from the blood of the umbilical cord of a newborn, technically it’s not considered embryonic, and so are stem cells from amniotic fluid. Amniotic fluid is the fluid that comes out of a pregnant woman when giving birth. It is actually a protective liquid contained in the sac that covers the baby while inside the mother’s body.
The promise of stem cell therapy is revolutionary, the reason why many researchers are devoting a lot of time and effort in its development.
Other potential health problems that could be addressed with stem cell therapy are stroke, traumatic brain injury, learning deficiency, Alzhiemer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury, diabetes, cancer, blindness, and deafness among others.
In the treatment of leukemia, the rationale behind bone marrow transplant is for stem cells produced in the transplanted bone marrow to replenish the needed blood which the damaged bone marrow failed to produce. So far, it’s only this kind of stem cell therapy that’s been proven to be effective through scientific research.
Perhaps, stem cells can be the youth elixir that for centuries, man had been searching for. But the lack of definitive findings on its potential continues to pose questions on its safety and effectivity. Still, the claims of people who have undergone several of these procedures cannot be ignored, and if you have the money to spend, it surely would be worth the try.
The author is a licensed physical therapist. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @tribong_upos. He blogs at http://tribong-upos.xanga.com.
First saw print in The FREEMAN on March 4, 2013 and subsequently published in PhilStar.com. Photos from the net. Videos from YouTube.
CEBU, Philippines - For every guest who’ve joined the Suroy Suroy Sugbo, what would stand out in any of the escapades would be the festive atmosphere in every town visited, thanks to the many students waving banners to the passing convoy of buses; the seemingly unlimited supply of food; the gifts of local delicacies and products; the speeches of local politicians colored by greetings and praises for the Governor and, in some instances, her entourage of politicians and other VIPs; the festival dances that seemed to be the same everywhere except for the costumes; and the cultural shows that would include presentations that many of us believed to have gone extinct like the balitaw and other local dances, stage plays, and songs; and, yes, did I mention food?
Despite the hectic itinerary, it is an activity that many locals and out-of-towners look forward to.
Back then, it was merely a “teaser” for visitors on what they would expect and what they could experience should they choose to linger longer in a certain place. At the same time, it informs stakeholders in the travel industry that Cebu still has many destinations to offer, thus the flock of tour and travel agents joining in.
Already, one could categorically say that through the Suroy Suroy program many towns and cities have seen the potential in developing tour destinations and activities in their localities, one of these would be Aloguinsan that decided to develop a brand of its own and is now enjoying a steady stream of visitors benefiting many of its local enterprises.
I reckoned that that was the goal of Suroy Suroy – to highlight the many unknown destinations of the province – and it was successful at that, the reason why the Province’s legislative body institutionalized the project through a measure authored by Provincial Board Member Arleigh Sitoy.
Last January 23 to 25, around 140 visitors – mostly balikbayans – were once again treated to a series of visits to the province’s southern get-away and heritage places with the promise that they would not only be introduced to the places but they would also be given enough time to enjoy and experience these places.
The places visited included San Fernando, Argao, Oslob’s Sumilon Island, and Santander on the first day; Samboan on the second day with time to tour the town’s significant historical sites and relax in the refreshing waters of Kawasan Falls; Ronda, Barili and Talisay City on the third day.
I was fortunate enough to join the first day of this edition of the Suroy Suroy and having joined previous Suroy Suroys, I would personally say that this improved version has truly made the program into something much more marketable.
What Cebu may have lacked in terms of activities for tourists to do for them to stay long term in Cebu like amusement parks, the Suroy Suroy could well compensate.
Local businesswoman Victorina Mataragnon said that she first joined the Suroy Suroy program a few years ago for her to see the different places in Cebu. She admitted that, despite being a Cebuana, there are still many places in the province that she has yet to explore.
Paul Wing who’s on his sixth time to join the Suroy Suroy said, “We’ve seen how each year it seems to have improved – more dancing, a lot more preparation is done on it, and it is more comfortable for us as a tourist to come and keep visiting.”
“This one is different because it allows more time for us to see the sites,” he said, adding, “we have gone here a number of times and we’ve enjoyed it immensely.”
Wing together with his wife have now moved to Cebu from Vancouver, Canada, and said that since joining the Suroy Suroy they’ve visited the different places in the province on their own to further explore, bringing with them visitors and guests from Canada.
Balik Cebu’s Tetta Baad expressed her pleasure at how the Suroy Suroy has evolved saying that this is how she envisioned the program when she conceptualized it back in the early 2000s in response to the need for a countryside tourism program and as a project for the Cebu Business Month. She said that it was Magpale, as a member of Balik Cebu, who introduced the concept to Governor Gwen Garcia.
Garcia adapted the program and successfully turned it into a product and a brand that would entice many visitors to join.
In the one day that I joined Suroy Suroy Sugbo 2013 – Southern Getaway, I could say that there is indeed a stark difference from previous Suroy Suroys.
No more political speeches by local politicians, lesser and more reasonable serving of food, and certainly more time to enjoy and immerse oneself in the places being visited.
I would say that it has evolved into an even more marketable product, which Acting Governor Magpale said would be easier to pass on and promote to local tour agencies.
Yes, Cebu does not have amusement parks, but it has the Suroy Suroy which allows visitors to interact more with the locals, giving local flavor to their visit to the province.
First saw print in The FREEMAN (Cebu's newspaper since 1919) on 24 February 2013 and subsequently published in PhilStar.com.
CEBU, Philippines - Imagine a sanctuary in the middle of a busy city where you can relax and enjoy the wonderful aroma of a warm cup of coffee. That is exactly what you’ll experience at Kikok’s Pastry Kafe.
At first look, one would think that Kikok’s is but another misplaced shop in a location otherwise dominated by surplus shops and other industrial companies, but when you enter their humble abode, you will forget that you are actually in a place replete with all the trappings of a busy industrial street.
This is not just another coffee shop in the mall, but a haven, a small plot of bliss tucked safely along the busy M.L. Quezon Street in Cabangcalan, Mandaue City, where most of the vehicles that pass are either large trucks or heavy equipment.
The front may not be that extraordinary, but then just like all treasures it is what’s in the inside that’s really priceless.
Kikok’s started out of a passion – the passion to bake and the passion to serve.
Jay Fernandez’s love for cooking was not hindered by the fact that his line of business and expertise is printing, advertising, and marketing when he decided to venture into a business that he is not as familiar with.
It all started there, baking out of passion. And since it opened last January 8, the coffee shop-cum-bakeshop has earned a loyal following, not just in terms of walk-in clients but also with corporate clients who order bread and cakes in bulk.
But more than bread and cakes, Kikok’s also serves lunch and dinner. And although the menu is not as extensive and fancy, it’s the taste that captures the essence of home cooking that would truly make one want to take the time to travel to this somewhat remote location.
Want to experience something different? Kikok’s Pastry Kafe is open daily from 9 am to 9 pm. For orders and reservations, call 3182195 or 2382847.