Beware the ‘Silent Killer’

by Reggie Rullan
(Manila, Philippines)

Thursday, 19 July 2012 00:00 Published in Daily Tribune Life Style

The silent killer, unbeknownst to many, is a rotavirus infection that wraps its deadliness around children when left unchecked.

The common onset of loose or watery stools among children is dismissed by many parents and caregivers as part of childhood where children usually touch the floor or ground as they play and put dirty objects in their mouths. Some may think this kind of diarrhea is merely viral and will pass after a few days. The usual immediate and sole resort is to keep the child clean and hydrated.

The rotavirus infection, however, causes a severe form of diarrhea, which has been identified as the leading cause of death among children with diarrhea. As of January 2012, the 13th Asian Conference on Diarrheal Disease and Nutrition (ASCODD) released data that the rotavirus infection is responsible for over 600,000 childhood deaths per year globally. To put it more closely, every minute, one child dies due to rotavirus-related gastroenteritis (RVGE).

In Brazil, its national program reduced the mortality rate of children less than one year of age due to rotavirus by 48 percent. These results were presented in the 6th World Congress of the World Society for Pediatric Infectious Diseases (WSPID) in 2009. The main cause for the significant reduction of deaths was idenitifed as the initiative of the Brazilian government to nationalize vaccination against the rotavirus infection.

Gastroenteritis (GE)-related hospitalization in Brazil in children under five years of age was reduced by 31 percent after the implementation of the rotavirus vaccination, a testament to its effectiveness in reducing the incidents of the disease.

The Philippines follows its lead this year and at the helm of the initiative is the Department of Health Secretary Enrique T. Ona, who launched the public-private partnership and global collaboration to ensure that children all over the Philippines have access to the rotavirus vaccination.

In the Philippines, the recorded number of deaths per year due to rotavirus infection is 3,500. For all types of diarrhea, the total number of deaths per year is 89,000. While the oral rehydration therapy (ORT) helped scale down diarrhea as the number one cause to the seventh cause of death, it cannot be ignored that to date diarrhea is still in the top ten cause of disease related mortality.

As there is no cure for RVGE, the treatment option is to properly and effectively manage the symptoms of the disease. Thus, the effectiveness of vaccination in the incidence of severe RVGE becomes important in the fight against mortality rates among children due to this disease.

According to a booklet released by the Rotavirus Organization for Training and Advocacy in the Philippines, a child can easily get infected by contaminants in food, drinks and objects touched by the child. The rotavirus infection is highly contagious and even a small dose of infection can cause severe diabetes. The rotavirus infection has even been found in the secretions from the respiratory track of children, thus, raising the possibility that the infection may be transmitted through the air.

Worse, the infection when on the surface of a human body survives for hours on end and when on the surface of solid objects, survives for several days, making the incidence of contamination higher. The rotavirus infection has even been found to survive in a child’s stool for 21 days.

The ASCODD held recently in Tagaytay had representatives from the Philippines, Bangladesh, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and other countries and they focused in their mission to prevent and manage diarrhea, along with preventive nutrition interventions, in Southeast Asia and Asean countries.

“As it alarmingly causes a significant number of child deaths, as well as impacts child growth and development, RVGE must be urgently addressed by Asia-Pacific’s medical community. And taking off from the success of Brazil’s program, the Philippines, as announced by Sec. Ona, is pushing to be the first country to implement rotavirus vaccination all over the region to combat the scourge of the rotavirus,” says Dr. Lulu Bravo, conference chair of 13th Asian Conference on Diarrheal Disease and Nutrition.

Since the ASCODD’s launch in February 1981 in Dhaka, Bangladesh, it is being hosted every two years in an Asian country. Since then, eleven conferences were held in seven different Asian countries.

The vision of the 13th ASCODD Organizing Committee, which is composed of the Section of Infectious and Tropical Disease in Pediatrics (INTROP) and the Section of Gastroenterology and Nutrition, both from the Department of Pediatrics at the Philippine General Hospital, University of the Philippines Manila and the International Society of Tropical Pediatrics-Philippines (ISTP-Philippines), is to provide a platform for global collaboration and knowledge sharing to address the urgency of the incidence of deaths due to the rotavirus infection.

The ASCODD Secretariat is located in ICDDR, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Currently, the ASCODD international officials are Dr. N.K. Ganguly (president); Dr. Yati Soenarto (immediate past president); and Dr. K.M.S. Aziz (secretary general). Advisors for ASCODD XIII are Dr. Alejandro Cravioto (ICDDR, B), Prof. Yushifumi Takeda (Japan), Dr. B.K. Nair (NICED, India), Prof. Zulfiqar Bhutta (Pakistan), and Dr. Nils-Kare Barkeland (Bergen University, Norway).

Clean air, clean home

by Reggie Rullan
(Manila, Philippines)

by Reggie Rullan published in the Daily Tribune Life 17 July 2012

Four kids beset with all manner of allergies have made me an extremely suspicious, obsessive-compulsive, squeaky clean mom, yet still I am always failing at keeping our home free of allergens.

I may have driven a thousand and one house helpers out of our home for insisting on the daily wet and dry cleaning of the glass windows, steel bars, furniture, bookshelves; the weekly washing of the electric fans; the weekly general cleaning of the cupboards, the clothes and linen cabinets and storage rooms; daily vacuuming and sanitation of all the bathrooms and all the floors at home, among other housework.

My kids are, in fact, so used to a squeaky clean house that whenever we would enter a public area and they detect dust (their nostrils pick up any allergen like highly sensitized sensors), they would plainly ask, “Mom is this place clean?” It would be embarrassing as they would ask this within the hearing of the occupants of that place.

That is why it was a puzzle to me why my kids still got attacked by allergens on a weekly basis. My air conditioner cleaner, who regularly came to pressure-clean the units at home, suggested I use 3M Filtrete aircon filter in addition to the washable filter. My cleaner had kids with allergies, too, and it was only after they used the 3M Filtrete aircon filter that they noticed a decrease in the incidence of stifling noses amongst their kids. My air conditioner cleaner promptly installed the 3M Filtrete aircon filter and attached a white sticker that would alert me once it was time to change the filters.

After the sticker turned gray, I changed the filters regularly. I could literally inhale the difference and, more importantly, my kids did not get air conditioner-related allergies anymore. A recent event held by 3M illuminated to me the phenomena of their filters and its relationship to the allergens hibernating in an air-conditioned room.

Dr. Patricia Santos-Abes, allergologist, head of the Allergy and Immunology Section of the Pediatrics Department of the Asian Hospital and Medical Center; consultant at Makati Medical Center; a member of the Speaker Board of GlaxoSmithKline, MSD Philippines and Westmont Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; fellow of the Philippine Society of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology; and diplomate at the Philippine Pediatric Society, Allergy and Immunology in the Philippine General Hospital Medical Center and New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, discussed at a 3M forum how allergens in the air affect respiratory health in children.

I was aghast at the range of allergens from dust, pollen, mold, pet dander and even smoke which are present in a home. I was literally cringing at the thought that all these organisms that were alive and well in my space, from the rugs to the mattresses and sofas, to the curtains and the air conditioner and electric fans. No wonder the kids are beset with one allergy after another. Regular cleaning certainly can’t combat all these nasty allergens lurking in every conceivable corner and fabric in a house. Worst of all, air conditioning can aggravate the potency of these allergens as the dirty air is recycled by the air conditioner in a living space and spewed out again as cold air — with all the allergens alive and well in the process.

The 3M Filtrete aircon filter absorbs these allergens and prevents them from being absorbed by the air conditioner, effectively filtering them out and processing only clean air to be circulated in a room. No wonder being in an air conditioned room without 3M Filtrete aircon filter increases the risk of ingesting allergens, which become trapped in the cool confines of a room and is recycled over and over again by the air conditioning process.

3M Philippines, in partnership with Summit Media, also presented in the forum were the different ways of organizing a home with the GH (Good Housekeeping) Good Ideas Workshop that featured practical tips on how to reduce clutter.

Interior designer Johanna Victoria Acab-Faustino, the principal designer for Clothing, Textiles and Interior Design (CTID) at the University of the Philippines Diliman, also gave home design tips aimed at helping create aesthetic organizing ideas. Space management is key in making sure every family member’s clutter is kept at a minimum, if not eliminated altogether. After all, every family member brings in their own “junk” and the pile just seems to grow bigger as they engage in new hobbies and interests as the children grow.

Head of 3M Philippines Construction and Home Improvement Markets Division (the manufacturers of Command) Vivian Faustino shares, “We, at 3M Philippines, are giving every Filipino the convenience in managing and making their home spaces a better place for their families. For every part of the home, Command has products that can let consumers maximize their home spaces by utilizing their walls.”

3M Philippines offers home space and organization solutions through its Construction and Home Improvement Division like the Command Damage-Free Hanging Solutions and Filtrete air cleaning filter products. 3M serves customers through six business segment: Consumer and Office Business, Display and Graphics Business, Electro and Communications Business, Health Care Business, Industrial and Transportation Business, and Safety, Security and Protection Services Business.

One of its business segments, Consumer and Office Business Supplies, features an array of innovative products that keep homes cleaner, offices organized and buildings well-maintained. This business segment includes the Construction and Home Improvement Division, which carries the company’s well-known brands, Command and Filtrete, that bring efficient solutions from organizing to decorating spaces.

For more information,visit or follow @3MNews on Twitter.

Age-defying cream proves effective

Written by Reggie Rullan Thursday, 02 August 2012

Hitting 40 is a harsh reality, with telltale signs of wrinkles coming from all sides of one’s face. At 20, wrinkles were inexistent. At 30, it still is not an issue though some warning signs begin to show. At 40, taking care of the emerging wrinkles becomes a daily routine in an effort to look at least a decade younger.

I had recently begun using a wrinkle wand, and as I slid it over the lines I wished the wrinkles away as well. The problem was, come nighttime after I wash my face, the wrinkle wand’s magic disappeared along with my facial wash.

When I met Olay ambassador Tessa Prieto-Valdes up close and personal in an intimate lunch at Stephanie Zubiri’s place in Makati City, she challenged me to a skin regeneration test. As the soup bowl was laid down in front of me, Tessa said that by the time dessert was served, she would show me how the fine lines on my forehead would literally disappear.

Just as dessert was served, Tessa uncovered the New Olay Regenerist Wrinkle Relaxing Cream and invited me to apply a thin layer of the mousse on my forehead. A close-up photo of my forehead was then taken, and I went on to eat my peanut butter mousse and mini carrot muffins. Just as I ate the last morsel, Tessa turned her eyes on me and gave me a hand mirror so I could examine my forehead.

The fine lines I had looked at every morning before I applied my wrinkle wand had indeed faded away. I looked closely again and tilted my head to one side then the other. Another picture of my forehead was taken and the before and after pictures were put up on a laptop screen side-by-side.

There was no time for the photographer to retouch my face as it all happened right before my eyes. To see was really to believe. There was a remarkable difference between the before and after shots of my forehead.

The beauty of this cream is that unlike other types, one does not need to wait several days to see results. One application is all it takes to see visible changes in one’s skin, said Tessa. Olay’s breakthrough technology reduces the appearance of wrinkles in a few minutes.

Tessa shares her own experience with the product: “It dramatically and visibly removed the appearance of wrinkles in the same time it took me to put the finishing touches to my outfit. I couldn’t believe it!”

Olay scientists share that repeated temporary expression lines lead to permanent wrinkles. Another study also showed that dry skin poses double the speed at which women develop permanent facial wrinkles. As a result of these studies, the new Olay Regenerist Wrinkle Relaxing Cream was created.
When I asked Tessa how is it possible that one application can dramatically redefine my forehead lines, she shared with me that each person’s skin has its own optical signature.

Younger skin diffuses and reflects light evenly since the skin is smoother. In older skin, light gets trapped in “valleys” or the deeper lines and wrinkles, retarding diffusion and reflection.

The new Olay Regenerist Wrinkle Relaxing Cream’s claim tof fame is it revolutionary skin care with its ability to dramatically reduce the appearance of wrinkles visibly in just a single application. The micro-filler technology — a combination of three sizes of particles that fill in the different kinds of “valleys” created by skin line creates a smooth surface for the light to reflect. That is why these particles effectively reduce the appearance of facial lines and wrinkles in just one application as the light diffuses and reflects on now smoother skin.

My next question for Tessa was that since wrinkles will become deeper with age, I’ll be on a constant dose of the cream to keep on filling my skin’s deeper valleys. Not so, Tessa said, as the product also addresses chronic wrinkles in 14 days.

New Olay Regenerist Wrinkle Relaxing Cream also contains a combination of B3 complex and advanced biopeptides to provide long-term improvement on wrinkles, even the look of deep eye lines in 14 days. Biopeptides stimulate cell activity to help hydrate and repair the skin while vitamin B3 (niacinamide), pro-vitamin B5 and vitamin E fortify, condition and protect the stratum corneum or the skin’s moisture barrier to help it retain its natural moisture.

New Olay Regenerist Wrinkle Relaxing Cream also has intense hydrators to prevent frequent expression lines from progressing into permanent wrinkles. This means that one can rely on it to reverse the lines with continued use and enjoy the satisfaction of getting instant results at the same time.

Olay Regenerist Wrinkle Relaxing Cream is exclusively available at Watson’s and SM Department Stores.

Published in Daily Tribune Life Style

Changing the world… one smile at a time

by Gabrielle Borromeo
(Manila City, Philippines)

Monday, 20 August 2012
Published in Daily Tribune Life Style

Anyone who comes across something broken tries to fix it as soon as possible. Many, however, do not have the same reaction when a person has a cleft lip or palate. In the Philippines, the medical community is one in saying that an operation must be done as soon as possible to fix the cleft.

A cleft lip and a cleft palate are some of the many problems of a craniofacial abnormality. Most of those who suffer from these also have a hard time eating and speaking. Sad to say, they are also more prone to criticism and judgment because of their looks and their lack of ability to speak well.

Some of the children who have craniofacial abnormalities are too ashamed to step out into the light, while others who are able to attend school are constantly teased and bullied by other children, resulting also in stepping back into the darkness to isolate themselves.

Any child that goes through bullying can really have a hard time getting back their confidence because of the trauma that may haunt them for the rest of their lives. These children who have so much potential in them are suddenly too scared to finish school and in the future will have a very hard time looking for a decent job.

The heartache and pain will not only be carried by the afflicted person, but by their families as well. Their families all dream for a brighter future, but for them a semblance of normality is the most they hope for.

In a world that seems to have lost itself in the artifice of beauty, Smile Train comes in to help people afflicted with cleft lips or palates to help them become part of the greater population with more ease and less stigma.

Smile Train is one of the leading cleft charities in the world that offers surgery to Filipinos in underserved communities year-round for the past 12 years completely free of charge.

“We are not a stitch-to-go medical mission. We provide the most comprehensive care based on world class standards,” clarifies Glenda de Villa, who is the Noordhoff Craniofacial Foundation Philippines Inc. president and oral and maxillofacial surgeon.

The operation that Smile Train provides won’t leave you hanging on a thin rope. In fact, it does the opposite. Smile Train is a charity that asks for nothing in return. Even the medications are free pre- and post-operation. Speech therapy is offered until adulthood to help the child assimilate into his community and the professional or vocational field of his choice.

With Smile Train, each child from a marginalized family can be given all the cleft treatment and care needed. For those who are not destitute but is suffering from the same medical condition, they can visit and consult with Smile Train and its partners also free of charge.

Until today, Smile Train still aims to reach more patients across the country because it has built itself as a solid organization that grows its resources, thus helping more and more people as well. Smile Train consists of a global network that has thousands of partner hospitals and participating surgeons who provide more than 115,000 free surgeries each year for patients in their own communities, even far-flung places in the Philippines.

“It has been Smile Train’s lifelong commitment to help children born with clefts all over the world, and the Philippines is one of the countries where we hope to make much headway in this undertaking,” said Priscilla Ma, executive director, Smile Train.

“We estimate that there are 4,500 Filipinos born with a cleft annually, on top of the over 120,000 Filipinos with unrepaired clefts to date,” Ma continues.

On the other hand, Noordhoff Craniofacial Foundation
Philippines Inc. (NCFPI) is a non-profit organization that is comprised of doctors and other professionals that invites local partners to promote awareness on the need for comprehensive and quality care for Filipinos, especially the indigents.

NCFPI has received support from World Craniofacial Foundation, TECO, Help Wirhelfen-Germany and Smile Train. NCFPI, as a partner of Smile Train, invites local partners to promote awareness on the need for comprehensive and quality cleft care for Filipinos.

NCFPI is inspired by the “love makes whole” ideals of Dr. M. Samuel Noordhoff, the renowned American surgeon and philanthropist.

Awareness is definitely very important because there are children all over the world who were born with a cleft lip(bingot), a cleft palate (ngongo) and other craniofacial abnormalities. In the Philippines, one in every 500 Filipinos is born with a cleft. Parents who don’t attend to these problems as soon as possible subject their children to social ignorance and discrimination when, in fact, these handicap situations can be solved right away.

The earlier the operation is done the better as all the physical and social ails the cleft lip or palate brings are remedied. Even a two-day-old baby can be given a nasoalveolar molding device (NAM) by craniofacial orthodontists to prepare the child for surgery. In three months, provided that the child is healthy and within the normal weight, an operation can be successfully undertaken.

People don’t need to go through life with broken smiles and broken dreams because of their unattended cleft. Technology and intelligence have provided the world with a remedy to address it. Now a simple surgery that may take as little as 45 minutes is possible. A child need not suffer the feeling of inferiority complex, discrimination, rejection and the harsh judgments of people for years when in just several hours of surgery, an operation can change their lives forever.

Smile Train has really done a lot to make a difference in the world. It’s a charity that gives benefits to those who truly need it and just by this, I guess I understood what “love makes whole” meant to them.

Touched by their movement, somehow it made me imagine myself in the shoes of the kids suffering craniofacial problems. I never want them to feel ugly on the outside and hopeless in the inside. I know what it’s like to dream of being a princess growing up, and surely I don’t want them to lose that dream as well. I want them to believe and to keep believing that better things can happen.

Just like Smile Train, we can each make a mark in this world by giving back. We can start by visiting these kids, inspiring them with stories, helping them up by boosting their confidence and even hold a party where they all dress in gowns and tuxedos. We can make them feel special; certainly, reaching out to them would be memorable.

Smile Train offices are also located in Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, South Africa, Thailand, USA and Vietnam.

To find out more about Smile Train and its partners, interested parties may call or send a message to 0917-52-TRAIN (87246). For more information on how to refer a patient or become involved as a sponsor, donor or volunteer, contact the executive director at (632)468-6449 or mobile number 0917-9908717. Visit

Envisioning with green tea

by Geraldine Rullan-Borromeo
(Manila City, Philippines)

Published in the Daily Tribune Life
Saturday, 25 August 2012

Hot tea has always been my potion of choice, and in the company of coffee addicts I have gamely accepted the quaintness that goes with steeping tea leaves in hot water. When iced teas are served, I am almost too shy to ask if it is a powdered concoction or if it is made from real tea leaves. I ask anyway, lest I ingest more sugar than I need while enjoying my tea.

With so many iced teas flooding the market, real tea drinks is a premium. While the health benefits of tea being touted left and right, one can only enjoy these benefits at the optimum if one is drinking tea made with tea leaves instead of a powdered variety that is mostly made of sugar.

With the introduction of C3’s Cool and Clean all natural green tea leaf varieties: Classic, Apple, Lemon, Peach, Orange, Pandan, Forest Fruits, Strawberry and Sugar-Free Apple, one can enjoy real green tea in many ways.

In an article in the Harvard Women’s Health Watch, published by the Harvard Health Publications of the Harvard Medical School at, the power of tea’s benefits is attributed to its high content of flavonoids.

According to the article, “These are plant-derived compounds that serve as antioxidants. Green tea is also one of the best food sources of cathechins which have been found to be more powerful than vitamins C and E, halting oxidative damage to cells. Cathechins are also under study of having other disease-fighting properties.”

The article also said that some “studies found an association between consuming green tea and a reduced risk for several cancers —including, skin, breast, lung, colon, esophageal and bladder; and a reduced risk for heart disease. Green tea also helps block the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol, increase HDL (good) cholesterol and improve artery function.”

The article also cited a Chinese study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine which showed a “46 to 65 percent reduction in hypertension risk in regular consumers of oolong or green tea, compared to non-consumers of tea.”

Out of the recommended three cups of tea a day, one can drink at least one of any of the green tea variants to boost one’s immunity against the said diseases. In a campaign promoting the benefits of green tea, C2 recently awarded the winners of the “Sarap ng Bukas” music video making contest where a C3 Green Tea moment is captured.

The “Sarap ng Bukas” soundtrack sings of a brighter future that beckons all who still dream and hope for a better tomorrow. The three winners all echoed the theme in their music videos and served to inspire viewers from the point of view of everyday life.

The third prize winner, Harold Alvea, received P50,000 plus P5,000 worth of C2 products for his music video that showed a boy’s C2 Green Tea journey in finally being able to say “hi” to his crush. He collects C2 Green Tea variants and is shown trying to offer one to his crush in school who is also his neighbor. Someone beats him to it, and he goes home disappointed.

As he nears his home, he then he sees his crush coming his way so he rushes to his room and gets his empty C2 Green Tea bottles. He arranges them on the pavement to form the word “hi” but without the dot above the “i” as his crush is already approaching him. As she saunters closer, she smiles and stops and takes the empty C2 Green Tea bottle he holds in his hand and places it above the “i” to form the dot, completing the word.

The second place winner, Toby Concepcion, won P100,000 and P10,000 worth of C2 products for his music video. He depicted a girl in an animation scene that looks through a lit up C2 bottle and sees animated creatures. She drinks C2 and whirls through the scene in different clothes showing the different dreams she can pursue. The C2 bottle becomes a flashlight, and as she is transported through the skies and the galaxy with the C2 bottle she is shown to attain the height of her dreams.

The first prize winner, Karlo Victoriano, got P150,000 and P20,000 worth of C2 products for his work entitled “Mural.” In his upload of the video in, he says, “There comes a point in our lives when we lose the drive and we get tired in doing the things we love. Like the five characters that we presented in the music video, we always need a kick in the ass that will get us back on track whenever that point comes. The mural shows what they all want to be, and that is to be better in what they do best. And with their cool and clean lifestyle, they will be able to achieve their dreams. Thanks to C2 Green Tea!”

Five characters — a dancer, basketball player, runner and skateboarder, drinkers all of C2 Green Tea — converge in the scene where an artist is laying out his “Sarap ng Bukas” dreams and helps him complete his mural. The scene prior to the convergence show the four characters practice their crafts in the pursuit of their dreams and when they pass by the mural in the making they are likewise inspired by it. The result is a convergence of their dreams and hopes as echoed by the theme of the soundtrack “Sarap ng Bukas.”

“C2 is committed to promoting a cool and clean lifestyle among the youth, and our ‘Sarap ng Bukas’ Video Making Contest is just one of the many ways to engage them with the campaign,” said Edwin Totanes, vice-president and general manager of URC’s Beverage Division. “We are so happy with the turnout of entries because it is a sign that more young Filipinos are stepping to the beat of a healthier lifestyle. We would like to thank everyone who participated; everyone who showed their creativity to help us spread the message of a better, healthier tomorrow with C2 Green Tea. We have more exciting surprises so please watch out for the next one.”

The refreshing C2 Green Tea variants are available in all leading supermarkets, groceries and sari-sari stores nationwide. Watch out for the next C2 music video making contest!

Allergic to allergies

by Geraldine Rullan-Borromeo
(Manila City, Philippines)

Published in the Daily Tribune Life
July 30, 2011

Anyone beset with food allergies at an early age, who beget children with asthma, allergic rhinitis, ear allergies and the like tell the same story of how each generation suffers a lifetime of allergy symptoms -— sneezing, ear irritations, rashes, swelling of body parts, and other allergic reaction horror incidences, some of them fatal.

Even with the advances in medicine, there is still no universally accepted cure for allergies. The genetic link between allergies and its inter-generational occurrence tells us that one might actually pass it on to one’s kids via heredity.

According to recent studies, the more family members with an allergy, the worse is the risk for their kids as hereditary factors increase an infant’s risk of getting food allergies. In addition to the genetic factor, the parents’ lifestyle choices have also increased the risk of contracting allergies for children.

In a seminar held in Thailand entitled “Power to Protect — Clinically Proven Long-Term Allergy Prevention,” led by Dr. Ralf Heine, senior allergologist at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, it was noted that there is an exponential increase of allergic disorders in the Asia-Pacific region. The greatest increase of allergic disorders “occurred in food allergy and atopic dermatitis in infants and young children.”

How does an allergic reaction take place? A class of anti-bodies react when a person is exposed to an allergen and the body mistakenly thinks it is faced with an intruder it should fight off, causing the antibodies to produce a varied assortment of symptoms. These allergies are of serious consequence and once a person develops a particular allergy, it becomes a lifetime condition that progresses from one body part to another. It may increase or decrease in intensity, but will remain difficult to manage unless
preventive measures are taken early on.

Children with allergies are left out from everyday activities that most kids enjoy. In school, asthma attacks may prevent a child from entering any sports-related activities. Allergies also affect a child’s sleeping pattern. Children who have their symptoms attack during the night tend to lose sleep, hence the low energy level to participate in activities the following morning.

Even common allergies in the form of rashes, asthma, or flaking of the scalp can have adverse effects on the physiological social and emotional well-being of a person. A child, who has a severe case of rashes, tends to be shy as he grows and loses confidence because of the red marks on his skin. During and after an attack, a child will tend to decrease his productivity in school as compared to his performance on days with no allergy attacks.

The US National Institute of Health in its National Library, published that while “asthma and allergic diseases are examples of disorders having an unmistakable genetic predisposition, xxx these disorders require the presence of appropriate environmental triggers for their expression.”

Thus, food intake and environmental triggers are matters that we cannot take out of the allergy equation in a person with a genetic disposition to allergies. In the past decade, the number of Filipino children with food allergies has grown to as much as 30 percent. Thus, the growing incidence of allergies equates with a higher intake of allergy medicines.

In celebration of World Allergy Day last July 8, Prof. Sibylle Koletzko, head of the Division of Paediactic Gastroentology and Hepatology at Ludgwig Maximilians University Munich, Germany, visited the Philippines to share the results of studies conducted by her university on the importance of allergy screening measures to help reduce or even prevent the risk food allergies in children.

Prof. Koletzko enlightened us that while persons with identified and specific allergies to food cannot risk intake of the food allergens, recent studies by the Ludgwig Maximilians University Munich have shown that a balanced diet and a normal level of hygiene may decrease the risk of exposure to food allergens as opposed to an allergen free diet like a pure organic diet; a no alcohol diet; a no fat diet; a preservative process free diet; among many other health diets touted to rid the body of allergies and other diseases.

Their studies show that even a hyper hygienic practice where hand washing with anti-bacterial soap and a meticulous sanitation of the home, school or office have not shown to be a deterrent to the presence of allergies.

In fact, in a study where children who were raised in highly sanitized environments and where personal hygiene was a key part of everyday life, more allergic reactions were suffered as opposed to children who have less sanitation and who practiced a much lower level of personal hygiene. This vindicates the old wives’ tale that ultra cleanliness is not synonymous with health.

The expectation that a high level of personal and environmental sanitation does not diminish but rather increases the incidence of allergies is based on the body’s actually ability to strengthen its immune system when it is exposed early on in life to a variety of bacteria.

Even the mode of delivery that a child is born and the type of food it is fed can influence the ability of the newborn to develop the immune system. Normal delivery allows the baby to swallow the liquid in its mother’s gut system which is the natural course of delivery, thus, exposing the baby to a variety of bacterial flora at the onset of life outside the womb, which is a very sterile environment.

Children breastfed for the first six months of life then fed solid food also display a stronger immune system than those whose gut were exposed to formula milk and other baby foods within the same first six months. Another example is that among children, cow’s milk allergy counts as one of the most prevalent conditions, peaking between zero to six months of age, according to Dr. Koletzko.

“In face of the rising incidence of allergic diseases over the last decades, preventive measures are of increasing importance,” notes Dr. Koletzko. “Since it has been recognized that early contact to food allergens plays a major role in the development of both tolerance and sensitization to food antigens, prompt intervention strategies are vital to allergy prevention.”

The other recommendation of Prof. Koletzko is that children and adults without specific allergic reactions to food eat a balanced variety of foods and practice a regular hygiene regimen, as studies show that an extreme exclusion of food groups in a diet and ultra cleanliness has not shown to decrease the incidence of allergies.

A rational use of anti-allergy medication was also discussed by Prof. Koletzko after some mothers raised their fears about over medicating their children. Her rule of thumb is not to medicate without consulting a doctor before administering any medication to children. The adverse effects of medication are weighed by a doctor against the gravity of an allergic attack.

Following the doctor’s prescription is always advisable in case where an allergic attack is at hand or where maintenance medication has been advised as a medical necessity.

For those who have suffered allergic reactions and have not yet identified the allergens that specifically cause said reactions, an allergy screening may be a life-saving measure for a child or even for an adult. Knowing the risk is half the battle and checking one’s family’s allergy history can not only alleviate the symptoms of allergies, it may just save the life of another child.

Fresh infusion to Philippine health industry as Aspen, a multinational pharmaceutical company opens local subsidiary

by Geraldine Rullan_Borromeo
(Manila, Philippines)

Published in the Daily Tribune Life
May 6, 2012

Filipinos have long had to live with the social incongruity that quality medicines are not affordable medicines. Multinational pharmaceuticals have long lorded it over the health industry that Filipinos who chose quality medicines were obliged to fork over emergency savings to afford them.

The advent of generic medicines brought some relief to the hard-pressed public, but in particular cases where one feels that the illness calls for a branded medicine, the expense bore heavily on one’s budget.

Recently, Aspen Philippines, a local subsidiary of Aspen Pharmacare, opened at the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig. Aspen Pharmacare is a global pharmaceutical company that manufactures branded and generic medicines in cardiology, metabolism, neurology, dermatology and oncology.

It has 18 manufacturing facilities in 13 sites on five continents with more than 800 products that are available in
100 countries. Aspen’s strategic alliances with other pharmaceutical companies, particularly with Merck, GSK, Eli Lilly, Vifor, Abbott, Flen Pharma, Sanofi-Aventis, Actavis and Teva, allows it to market quality and affordable innovator brands of antibiotic, antihypertension, anti-gout, anti-platelet and anti-hypothyroidism medicines in the Philippines.

In addition, Aspen offers a range of generic medicines for said ailments. It claims that it is one of the leading generics companies worldwide as it is Africa’s largest pharmaceutical manufacturer and supplier to both the private and public sectors in South Africa.

With 18 manufacturing facilities at 13 manufacturing sites in six continents, Aspen’s generic medicine pipeline promises to deliver quality and affordable medicines backed up by its own research facilities and in collaboration with other global pharmaceutical brands.

Aspen is also the one of the largest manufacturers of pharmaceuticals and complementary medicines in Australia, providing manufacturing and technical services for leading multinational pharmaceutical companies. Its manufacturing facilities are fully licensed with Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP), offering the full range of pharmaceutical production and support services for liquids (syrups and suspension), creams and ointments; solid dose (tables and capsules); and packaging.

Aspen Pharmacare Australia also markets off-patent medicines or specialist medicines with a low volume of demand. “Some of these‘overlooked’ medicines are still effective and have modes of action not matched by newer products; they are also cost effective for governments and consumers. Doctors, who are preoccupied with their heavy daily workload, often need just a simple reminder about the existence of such medicines.

That’s where we come in,” said Greg Lan, chief executive officer(CEO), Aspen Pharmacare Australia. He added, “We are privileged to support efforts of the Philippine government and other stakeholders in improving Filipino patients’ access to quality, effective and safe medicines that are within the means of the general public.”

At the helm of Aspen Philippines is Ace Itchon, who, after acquiring a Bachelor of Science in Preparatory Medicine, went on to manage a project for Besins Healthcare (Bangkok). She then became the director of Brands Operations for Invida(Philippines). As regional head for the Asia Pacific for Invida (Singapore), she garnered recognition for operational excellence. She then moved on to
become the Sales Force and Marketing Effectiveness director and head of Pharmalink Academy of PL Asia Pacific.

Before she joined Aspen Philippines, she was the Business Unit head for Zuellig Pharma (Philippines), then was promoted to sales and marketing manager, national sales manager and product manager.

Stephen Saad, Aspen Group chief executive, says, “We take great pride in formally opening our office in the Philippines. This business initiative forms part of Aspen’s stated global expansion strategy into emerging and established markets, and we look forward to working closely with the Philippine government and local regulatory bodies in providing quality products to meet the healthcare needs
of the Filipino people.”

“Our product portfolio includes some of the most prescribed brands in Australia, South Africa, Middle East, North America, Germany and Canada. We want to bring to Asia affordable prescriptions with the Aspen stamp of quality,” adds Ziman, deputy CEO, Aspen Pharmacare Australia. “It is a thrill to change someone’s life through our medicines — this is the passion that drives us,” Ziman continues.

“Aspen products are renowned for their efficacy, quality and affordability. We look forward to working with Filipino healthcare professionals in improving access to Aspen’s medicines,” also adds Keith Kai Cheung Iu, director for Asian Markets, Aspen Asia Co. Ltd.

“As a trusted pharmaceutical company, Aspen is committed to
positively impacting people’s lives by providing Filipino healthcare providers and consumers with effective and safe medicines that are within the means of the ordinary Filipino,” Itchon ends.

For more information, contact Dr. Fernando de Castro, FPPS, Medical Director, Aspen Philippines Inc., Units 1001-1002 Trade and Financial Tower, 7th Avenue corner 32nd Street,
Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City.
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Aloe be thy name

by Geraldine Rullan-Borromeo
(Manila City, Philippines)

Published in the Daily Tribune Life
February 24, 2012

The Egyptian’s plant of immortality that brought to fore the beauty of Cleopatra is a plant that we all know too well and yet often overlook. I grew up with a bed of aloe vera plants under our playroom terrace in Baguio, and would witness my young uncle beset with premature baldness applying a cut aloe leaf unto his scalp daily. The tedious process he underwent to properly use the aloe seemed too much an effort to me. I would just smile at him with my thoughts wandering away as he touted hair-growing benefits of the plant.

I never knew that the aloe gel could have also soothed by scraped knees after falling from my bike or my cuts after an afternoon foray into the woods with my cousins during summer. Understanding the full health benefits of the aloe gel extracted between the skin of the leaf now unlocks a world of potential for applying its natural healing properties, especially as the aloe has now been extracted by a technology that preserves all its health benefits and allows easy consumption.

Even the United States Food and Drug Authority approved the use of the aloe vera for the treatment of HIV as highly concentrated aloe juice stimulates the production of white blood cells effective in fighting viruses. Acemannan, the complex carbohydrate found only in aloe and in the human body, is said to be the key that makes aloe an effective conjunctive treatment to cancer. Thus, the compatibility of the aloe and human blood cells promotes cell growth and activates several types of white cells, which kills viruses, bacteria and tumor cells.

According to the Organic Basket, the aloe is said to contain a “powerhouse combination of mucopolysaccharides (MPS), proteins, amino acids, biologically active-enzymes, minerals and
minerals.” The unfamiliar MPS is an essential carbohydrate touted as the “glue of life,” according to Dick Dorst in the article The Role of Mucopolysaccharides in Good health, Circulation and the Look and Feel of Youth published in http:// It is found mainly in animal life. With the claimed presence of MPS in aloe vera, the health benefits of the plant’s extract has become even more promising.

The Organic Basket, a company founded by Bettina Osmeña and Bing Bing Quiros, brings the Aloe Cure Organic Aloe Vera Juice and Aloe Pure Aloe Chunks to the Philippine market, making them not only easily accessible, but also affordable. The 99.7 organic certified 500 milliliter juice is only P550 and with a recommended daily dosage of two ounces. The healing benefits it delivers makes it worth every peso.

According to the Organic Basket, regular intake of the pure aloe juice is said to regulate gastrointestinal disorder; neutralize stomach acid; maintain normal blood sugar levels; enhance the immune system; promote weight loss; increase metabolism and boost liver function. The quality of the extracted aloe in the juice is promised by four characteristics as it: 1) did not use charcoal filtering; 2) did not degrade the enzymes in the aloe; 3) did not dilute the aloe with water; and 4) it is sourced organic aloe.

While a pure intake of the mellow tasting, grape-flavored Aloe Juice is highly recommended at the start of the day and before bedtime, an increased dosage may be taken as the natural flavor pure extract may be mixed with a variety of drinks. The one-liter bottle of Aloe Vera Chunks is only P400 and promises to supply 200 vitamins, minerals and amino acids at the cellular level; eliminate free radicals, inflammation and viruses, which damage the cells; is antibacterial; protect the digestive system; alleviate symptoms of gastrointestinal ulceration and hypertension; balance blood sugar levels; promote regeneration of new cells; optimizes the functions of the immune system; and regulate blood pressure.

Adding aloe chunks to fresh fruit juice drinks and iced brewed teas ups the health benefits of the drinks and delivers a textural experience. The smooth, crisp softness of the aloe chunks is akin to a firm gelatin. The added chewy texture makes one look for more of the chunks as a drink is sipped. The natural mellow flavor of the aloe blends well with many fruit and tea flavors and can easily be incorporated in health drinks. These aloe products are manufactured by the American Global Health, LLC (AGHG). With the help of German technology, AGHG plants the Aloe Vera in Hainan, China and extracts the juice and its chunks.

For more information visit

Four minutes, four moves

by Vince Borromeo
(Manila City, Philippines)

Published in the Daily Tribune Life
September 24, 2011

At the recent Phiten event featuring the benefits of balancing the electrical charges in our bodies to enhance physical performance in sports, Jimbo “Coach Jim” Saret taught attendees how to jump start the body. Jump starting the body gets it going for the day, whether it be for sports activities or just a plain work day.

While balancing the negative and positive ions in the body by applying liquefied titanium through the use of bracelets, necklaces and even titanium-filled clothing apparel is a considerable aid in any physical activity, a consistent and a doable exercise program is needed to achieve optimum health for both athletes and non-athletes alike.

Coach Jim is a sports and fitness science specialist; Olympic
athletic trainer; performance enhancement specialist; speed,
agility and quickness coach; sports medicine specialist; fitness writer; sports, fitness radio and TV host and is a perfect fit for Phiten’s sports philosophy of enhancing physical performance.

The highlight of the event was Coach Jim’s gift of a four minute exercise module that can not only strengthen the body,
but contribute to weight loss and improved physical performance.

Four minutes!

As a fitness buff for over 30 years, this was almost too good to be true. But surely, anyone can find four minutes to work out! For most sedentary people, the lure of a four-minute workout may just get them off the couch or the office chair to exercise. Coach Jim said that if we study the physical makeup of the human body, with muscles and joints designed to move, we will discover that the less we move, the more our muscles will atrophy, become weaker and weaker until we have self-destructed and all the aches and
pains, at the least, and disease at the worst, begin to hamper how we work and how we play.

The four-minute exercise is also a four movement exercise that energizes the body and gets the metabolism going to keep the body burning calories for the whole day. If this is true, then four minutes and four moves will get anybody into better shape.

Coach Jim has previously shared this discovery on 99.5 RT radio show and he had a call-in listener who was a doctor. This doctor was challenged by this claim and faithfully exercised the four-minute, four-move exercise program. A month later, the doctor called in again to report to Coach Jim that the four-minute workout was successful in jump starting his metabolism and helping him lose weight.

Intrigued, this writer readily volunteered when Coach Jim asked who would want to try this new exercise. He then explained the four basic exercises: Jumping Jacks, squats, push-ups and lunges.

He explained that all you need to do is 10 moves of each kind of exercise in continuity. This means you will work out non-stop for 240 seconds straight, and after going through 10
repetitions of Jumping Jacks, squats, push-ups and lunges, go through the same routine until the four minutes are up.

While 240 seconds does not sound like too long a time, it can feel like an eternity if you are doing it non-stop. And so it was with relief that I heard Coach Jim say stop. Whoa! Phew! I was gasping for breath and was at a loss for words as I had to digest what the exercise did to my mind and my body.

I asked, “I felt like my body was jump started! Is this healthy?” As a traditional Chinese martial arts practitioner, particularly of Tai Chi and Choy Li Fut Kung Fu, where both systems espouse a slow and long warm-up in a standing meditation, a jump start was the opposite of what I had learned as beneficial to enhancing sports performance.

Coach Jim’s answer mystifyingly was the answer I expected. He succinctly answered: “The jump start is good for your body as the four exercises are basic warm-ups, which you will need to perform before you get into any physical activity!” The jump start was similar to the effect of Phiten, which I again volunteered for, to test the effect of the product on my muscles. I was asked to put my hands together and then turn to the left without pivoting my torso. The Phiten staff then marked how far the reach of my muscles went.

A Phiten titanium necklace was placed around my neck, then I was asked to twist left. Incredibly my reach was further than without the necklace. Even considering that maybe the second time with the necklace on, my body had warmed up to allow for a further reach, there was another significant differentiation between the two movements. Without the necklace, the muscles were stiffened, and there was a little pain when the twist put my muscles to its elastic limit. With the Phiten necklace, there was no
pain and I had a longer reach.

To further test the product, I was then asked to perform the twist without the product. And the third test made me a believer of how the alignment of negative and positive ions can increase physical performance. Without the necklace, the reach had once again shortened and the ease of the twist was no longer there.

Imagine the difference of jump starting your body or performing any other physical movement with the aid of titanium products!

To know more about Coach Jim’s athletic mentoring activities, visit his Web site at


by Geraldine “Reggie” Rullan-Borromeo
(Manila, Philippines)

Published in the Tinig ng Marino, September-October 2012

After the toiling many years at sea, Filipino seamen often contract work-related diseases that entitle them to disability benefits from the shipping company. Hard pressed with illness and expenses, these seamen often succumb to offers from predator entities that take advantage of their lack of knowledge of substantive and procedural law. Illustrated below is a real story masking the identities of the persons involved to protect them from potential harm in this parable like expose.

In an interview with Rogelio Santos, who was a Chief Cook for a reputable manning agency for several years, the following story was related.

A year after his wife passed away, Rogelio himself was diagnosed with a heart condition and had to have a major surgery abroad. It was in one of his check-ups in a hospital here in Manila when he was approached by a fellow who told him he could get much more than what his company could offer him and at a faster way…to file a case against his company.

He was then brought to an office owned by Capt. Hook and introduced to his lawyer Atty. Slim Shady. Looking back Santos says, “Hindi ko rin po alam kung ano yung iniisip ko noong panahong iyon. Siyempre maraming bagay ang naglaro sa utak ko. Kamamatay lamang ng asawa ko at nagbabayad pa ako sa nagastos namin. Tapos nandiyan pa ang tatlo kong mga anak. Pwede pa naman po sana akong sumakay uli pero natakot din po ako kasing pumirma ng waiver sa kompanya ko. May kaibigan po kasi ako dati na naputol yung daliri, naibalik naman po at pagkatapos noon ay pumirma siya ng waiver at sumakay uli. Habang nasa barko siya, namaga ang kaniyang daliri matapos ang tatlong buwan kaya nauwi rin sa wala.”

(“Many things were playing in my mind at that time since my wife just died leaving me with three children and we had so many expenses. I could have signed for another contract at sea but I was apprehensive. My seaman friend whose finger was cut at sea and when it healed he reapplied for another contract but he was asked to sign a waiver on any complications that may arise from his previous injury. When his finger became swollen at sea he was no longer entitled to any benefits.”)

Aside from his personal reasons, Capt. Hook and Atty. Slim Shady really knew the right things to say to Santos who admits to not being very well-versed in the law.“Magaling din po talaga silang magsalita. Kapag nagpakita ako ng pagdadalawang-isip ay kaya nila uli akong kumbinsihin.”(The lawyer and ship captain were smooth talkers. Whenever I showed that that I was having second thoughts, they could persuade me to go along with their scheme.)

The lawyer and ship captain ‘s plan was for him to file a total disability claim, with the lawyer getting 20% from the amount Santos would be paid from a settlement. During that time, the lawyer allowed Santos cash advances for his needs.

Santos who admitted to having a very good manning agency and shipping company said he regretted filing a case against his agency and at one point he talked to his lawyer about withdrawing it.

“Nagsisi talaga ako at sinabi ko sa kanila na iaatras ko na ang kaso. Nabigla lang naman din kasi talaga ako eh. Ayaw ko na talagang magdemanda. Yung may-ari ng agency na pinagtrabahuan ko mabait naman, yung may-ari ng barko, naging kaibigan ko rin naman kaya talagang hiyang-hiya ako.” (I regretted filing a case against the shipping company as I did that in haste. The shipping company was good to me as was the ship owner. They became my friends that is why I was so ashamed in filing a case against them.)

When Santos voiced out his decision to withdraw the case, Atty. Slim Shady said that it was already impossible to back out. According to the lawyer, once a case has been filed in court, the complainant can no longer withdraw it no matter what happens.

The shipping company Santos settled the case with him and paid him his disability benefits. Atty. Slim Shady took 10% from the $70,000 given to Santos. However to Santos’ surprise, he took another 20% after the money was converted into Philippine currency.

“Nagulat din talaga ako kasi hindi naman yun ang usapan pero hindi na lang din ako nagsalita,” Santos claimed. (I was surprised since the deductions they made were not in conformity to their original agreement, but I oculdn’t speak up.)

While Santos is not someone who can be described as meek, he said that every time he would try to complain, the right-hand-guy/bodyguard of Atty. Slim Shady would indirectly threaten him. Even Capt. Hook once put his gun on a table while talking to Santos when the latter talked about withdrawing the case.

“Kapag nagreklamo po ako ipapakita sa akin yung baril. Hindi naman po tinututok, ipapakita lang gaya ng minsan eh ilalapag sa mesa sa harapan ko,” added Santos. (Whenever I would complain about the new terms that Atty. Slim Shady and the ship captain were imposing on me, they would casually put a gun on the table or bring it in view. They did not point the gun to me, but even so I got the message.)

As subtle as the threat was it was still a threat and Santos who after his wife’s demise is a single parent to three kids, one of them barely a year old resorted to keeping his mouth shut.

All in all what was supposed to be P3.4M disability pay for Santos became P1.8 and then Santos had another unpleasant surprise when he was asked to pay P600,000.00 for his cash advances to cover interests on the amount.

According to Santos, “Yun talaga nagtaka ako kasi nililista ko naman yung mga cash advances ko. Pati mga resibo tinago ko kaya alam ko na mga P130,000.00 lang ang na-advance ko.” (I was very surprised because I listed every cash advance I made. Every receipt I also kept and I know I only advanced P130,000.00)

“Wala naman din po kaming usapang may interes iyon.” (We had no agreement that interest will be imposed on my advances.) After all his “bills” were settled, Santos said the bodyguard and driver of Atty. Slim Shady would even contact him asking him for “balato” (a portion of the windfall).

After they got their money the group even tried to lure Santos into “convincing” other seafarers to file cases against their agencies. When he declined they just totally disappeared from Santos’ life.

“Siyempre hindi rin kaya ng konsensya ko na gawin sa mga tulad kong marino yung ginawa nila sa akin kaya talagang humindi ako sa kanila. Pagkatapos noon, nawala na sila. Ako nag-move on na lang din.” (I could not in good conscience help Atty. Slim Shady and the ship captain to victimize other seafarers. After I refused to help them, they left me alone and I moved on with my life.) Right now Santos can say he has fully moved on from what happened. With what’s left of the money granted to him, Santos bought a van which he would rent out to his clients.

Aside from that, his experience as a cook helped him in managing his own carinderia. He also has a small carinderia. His two older sons who are both seafarers also help out with their expenses.“Tanggap ko nang hindi ko na makukuha pang muli yung nakuha nila sa akin pero sana wala na rin po si-lang mabiktimang iba. Alam ko po kung gaano kahirap ang trabaho ng mga marino.” (“I have long accepted that I can no longer recover the amounts they swindled from me. I just hope other seafarers will not also be victimized.”)

Santos is not the first seafarer victimized by these “ambulance-chasers,” neither will he be the last. His own sister-in-law was victimized by another group.

“Marami po talaga sila. Siguro may mga dalawa pang grupong lumapit sa akin. Hindi ko na po makukuha kung ano yung dapat ay sa akin. Wala na yun. Ang akin lang ay sana wala na silang iba pang mabiktima.” (There are many groups approaching seafarers in the guise of helping them recover a supposedly higher disability claim than what the shipping company would give them under their contracts.”)


by Geraldine “Reggie” Rullan-Borromeo
(Manila, Philippines)

Published in the Tinig ng Marino, September-October 2012

According to Atty. Geraldine Rullan-Borromeo “One should always remember that every lawyer is bound by the Code of Professional Responsibility and any action that violates the Canons of this Code makes that lawyer unfit for the practice of law and subject to sanction.”

In the case of overseas workers who are medically repatriated to the Philippines, the illness of the repatriated workers merits from lawyers an even more sensitive and stringent application of the Code. Complainant (Santos), versus his manning agency, and/or shipping company and/or owner of the manning agency, filed in the National labor Relations Commission (NLRC). In this case, after the case was settled, the Complainant and Respondents both raised the question if faithful compliance with the Code was practiced.

Complainant filed a Complaint for Permanent Total Disability Benefits, Reimbursement of Medical Expenses, Sickness Allowance, Moral and Exemplary Damages and Attorney’s Fees against the manning agency and its principal.

The labor arbiter found in favor of the Complainant and held that the Respondents were liable for permanent total disability benefits.

The basis of the award of the Labor Arbiter is the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), which provided for benefits in the event a seafarer suffers permanent disability. The Degree of Disability in said CBA provided for over a USD100,000.00 in benefits.

The Labor Arbiter decided that Complainant’s total loss of earning capacity, since he can no longer work or earn wages in the same kind of work because of his illness, entitled him to said benefits under the CBA. The Labor Arbiter also gave credence to the Disability Report of a medical specialist who opined that the recurrent episodes of chest heaviness associated with exertion in his line of work greatly affected his ability to perform the same kind of work. The Complainant was then medically declared be UNFIT FOR SEA DUTY in whatever capacity as a seaman.

The Complainant’s alleged that Respondents were only willing to grant disability benefits corresponding to a lower Grade level than was actually due him, upon the recommendation of the company physician. Complainant also alleged that Respondents even delayed the full payment of his sickness benefits.

The Labor Arbiter gave weight to Complainant’s claims. Complainant was also found by the Labor Arbiter to have forcibly made to borrow money from the company owned by Respondents themselves and was allegedly charged usurious interest for the same, resulting in unwarranted deductions from his benefits.

The allegation of the Respondents that Complainant was accorded due medical attention at the onset of his heart attack overseas and after medical repatriation was not given credence by the Labor Arbiter. The refusal of the Complainant to abide by the recommendation for a coronary heart bypass graft surgery by the Respondents’ company designated physician, was not given weight even amidst the allegation of Respondent that such refusal actually worsened the Complainant’s heart condition.

Santos’ claims that Atty. Slim Shady took more than what they have agreed upon is already against “CANON 15 – A LAWYER SHALL OBSERVE CANDOR, FAIRNESS AND LOYALTY IN ALL HIS DEALINGS AND TRANSACTIONS WITH HIS CLIENTS.”




“Rule 20.01 – A lawyer shall be guided by the following factors in determining his fees:

(a) the time spent and the extent of the service rendered or required;

(b) the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved;

(c) The importance of the subject matter;

(d) The skill demanded;

(e) The probability of losing other employment as a result of acceptance of the proffered case;

(f) The customary charges for similar services and the schedule of fees of the IBP chapter to which he belongs;

(g) The amount involved in the controversy and the benefits resulting to the client from the service;

(h) The contingency or certainty of compensation;

(i) The character of the employment, whether occasional or established; and

(j) The professional standing of the lawyer.

Rule 20.02 – A lawyer shall, in case of referral, with the consent of the client, be entitled to a division of fees in proportion to tout the full knowledge and consent of the client, accept any fee, reward, costs, commission, interest, rebate or forwarding allowance or other compensation whatsoever related to his professional employment from anyone other than the client.

Rule 20.04 – A lawyer shall avoid controversies with clients concerning his compensation and shall resort to judicial action only to prevent imposition, injustice or fraud.”

The agency owner also alleges that the principal was persuaded to appeal its case even if the chance of reversing the Labor Arbiter’s Decision is practically nil due to the evidence presented in the case. This resulted in misleading the principal in ascertaining the amount payable to Complainant in the process of negotiating the amount under the Release which is again, against –



Complainant was overpaid in the Release as his sickness did not merit a certain category of payment. Under the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency’s Standard Contract for Filipino Seamen, only certain amounts of benefits are payable for a class of illness or accidents. In negotiating for an amount more than what is stated in the Contract, the negotiating parties must have been envisioning a higher amount to allow for higher compensation as negotiators.

Thus the agency owner alleges an “UNHOLY ALLIANCE” that brings to fore the mandate of this Canon.

The case of Rogelio Santos, the alleged facts that took place during the handling of the case, it calls for the vigilance of those involved in the case to ensure that the seafarers’ rights, the manning agency and the principal are all accorded equal protection under the law.

The plight of seafaring overseas workers require the enforcement of the law to ensure that their hard earned benefits are not put to naught and that they receive the benefits due them under the law.