Thursday, February 26, 2009

Fil-Am doctor-lawyer wins landmark case

Medical doctor, lawyer, chemist, molecular biologist, PhD and MBA degree holder. Professor of medicine, cancer director in several US hospitals, leading figure in stem cell research, cancer therapy and bioregenerative medicine. He is also a cancer survivor.

Filipino-American Dr. Samuel D. Bernal has a string of letters and dots after his name. He has authored numerous books and scientific articles and embarked on groundbreaking researches which have gained him fame and respect in the daunting field of molecular science and cancer therapy. But the latest feat that excites him has something to do with both medicine and law—in one blow, that is.

This doctor lawyered and won on behalf of a cancer-stricken Filipino-American based in San Francisco, California. Bernal filed a malpractice suit against a group of doctors, a hospital and an HMO last year. (He’s handling other cases of this nature.) He sued for extraordinary damages and after several months of litigation, the contending parties arrived at a settlement last December 2008. The settlement was in the vicinity of $.5 million which exceeded the usual.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Gang rape-murder in Antique

The rape-murder case has been in cyberspace in the last week or so. It took some time for the national media to take notice and in fact there’s still very little about the case in the media in spite of the heinous nature of the crime that was committed.

I got my first facts about the gang rape-murder case from Restituto Tapacal a.k.a. Antiqueno Sumakwel who has taken up the burden of contacting media institutions and persons and giving them the basics of the case. His nom de plume reminds me of the land where the seafaring Malay datus first settled and how they became part of our multi-racial ancestry. The datus’ major historical intrusion into aboriginal territory was not defined by brutality and bloodshed as far as I know. But that is another story.

Antiqueno Sumakwel could very well be the EveryAntiqueno. Writing about the rape-murder, he says Antique has not seen this kind of brutality since the murder of Evelio Javier in 1986. As I recall, Javier’s murder was brutal, yes, but death came swiftly. Martyrdom became him. He soon entered the pantheon reserved for the great men and women who shed their blood for love of country.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Remembering Fr. Abe and TLJ

Last Feb. 1, I was at a special gathering of friends, comrades, colleagues and fellow sojourners and seekers. The occasion was a celebration of the life of Fr. Carlos Abesamis SJ whose first death anniversary was on Jan. 31. The venue was the new chapel and the cool environs of the Religious of the Good Shepherd in Quezon City.

It was also the occasion to launch the book “Fr. Abe: A Scrapbook”, a compilation of personal recollections and reflections of those who knew Fr. Abe. The book was edited by Fr. Abe’s younger siblings Willie and Marilen who also wrote their own pieces on their kuya (elder brother) who was also kuya to a countless many who were seeking or already walking the road less traveled.

My first close look at Fr. Abe was as a participant in a seminar on—hold your breath—“Marx and the Bible” more than 20 years ago. I had just come from a long Asian “spiritual sojourn” at that time and I needed to get back on the ground. I still have the Bible that I used for that seminar. We had two days of Fr. Abe and no one ended up a Marxist.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Microfinance in these hard times

To whom will the poor go as the world faces a global financial crisis, an economic slow-down and lately, here in the Philippines, with mismanaged small banks closing down? To whom will they turn for cash and small capital for their small livelihood enterprises so that these could be sustained? Should the small enterprising citizens switch off the lights and close shop too?

Last week the Philippine-Australian Community Assistance Program (Pacap) held a two-day microfinance development forum with the theme “Microfinance Amidst the Global Financial Crisis.” I should not miss this one, I said to myself. I had written articles on microfinance in the past but now, with the current context of a dark scenario, I thought I should listen again to what the “micro” people have to say.

Even as so-called finance wizards are shaking their heads and talking about trillions that vanished in the air because of unmonitored greed, there is a need to immediately address various needs especially in the grassroots where every small cent counts. “Micro” could spell the difference in the lives of the poor these days and those who have been involved in it and made it accessible to small and medium enterprises are indeed heroes in these trying times.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

BodyTalk Access for victims of toxic waste and seekers of better health

Philippine Daily Inquirer/FEATURES/by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo

WHAT COULD THE victims of toxic wastes in the former United States military bases do to achieve healing or improve their health? What could people who have lived in unhealthy surroundings, the poor especially, do to ward off life-threatening diseases?

BodyTalk Access is a simple, easy and inexpensive system that the Alliance for US Bases Clean-UP (ABC) in the Philippines has discovered could benefit those who have suffered exposure to toxic wastes. ABC and its allies are also sharing this health practice with people from other sectors who want to claim better health and well-being for themselves.

With health care beyond the reach of many, there is a way for ordinary folk who live in impoverished conditions to address health issues. BodyTalk Access is a simple, effective health technique, not reliant on expensive western-style intervention, and which many could apply on themselves and others, its adherents say.

Human rights, human bodies

Dorothy Friesen, certified BodyTalk Access trainer, knows the Philippines quite well. She and her husband Gene lived in Mindanao as Mennonite missionaries and human rights workers in the late 1970s. She was familiar with the political landscape and was in step with the churches involvement in justice and peace issues.

After her three-year Philippine sojourn Friesen wrote a book "Critical Choices: A Journey with the Filipino People" (1988). She continued to do solidarity work long after she had left the Philippines.

Fast forward to the third millennium. Friesen has segued into health and healing. For Friesen it is a new call that is not alien to human rights work. When Friesen returned to the Philippines in January 2009 after a long absence, she felt right at home because the groups and individuals that welcomed her back were the same committed people she once knew and worked with. This time the task at hand involved human bodies.

BodyTalk Access

In the late 1980s, Friesen experienced chronic fatigue she could not explain. The medical diagnosis pointed to the Epstein-Barr virus. She went deeper and realized there were other personal issues she had to confront, among them, sexual abuse as a child.

At that time, a friend was learning BodyTalk Access, Friesen recalls. Friesen was drawn to it and took lessons. She then proceeded to study to be an Access Trainer and teach the Access techniques.

Friesen, 59, has been a BodyTalk practitioner since 2002 and a certified trainer since 2006. She runs a BodyTalk clinic in Canada.