Sunday, May 29, 2011

The man who ate everything: Confessions of a recovering food addict

There is a world of difference between loving the goodness of food and indulging in it in an extreme way to meet one’s needs other than simple hunger, nutrition and pleasure.

Food addiction is a disorder seldom spoken about. Persons who are morbidly obese because of food addiction are sometimes wrongly judged as gluttons. There are food addicts who can maintain a normal weight by purging, or forcing themselves to vomit, after bingeing.

This eating disorder is linked to the physical, physiological, emotional, psychological and even the spiritual needs of a person.

In an interview with Sunday Inquirer Magazine, Dr. JR, 35, a single male, a medical doctor and recovering food addict, speaks about the disorder that has plagued him for many years and his struggle to overcome it. Standing 5’11” and weighing 330 lbs. at his heaviest a year ago, Dr. JR is now down to 215 lbs. and losing. He continues to get professional help. – CPD
Sunday Inquirer Magazine (SIM): When did you realize that you were a food addict and that you were not simply overeating?

JR: I realized that I was a food addict when I no longer had control over food. It affected my moods, my emotions, how I related with others and how I generally felt as a person.

SIM: Did anyone call your attention to it?

JR: Yes. I had a realization when (fashion designer) Jeannie Goulbourn and I met and she invited me to one of her detox flushes which, at first, I was hesitant to take.

SIM: Was there a health issue that made you confront this eating problem?

JR: Yes there was. I used to avoid having routine medical check-ups for fear of knowing what was wrong with me. True enough, I discovered that I had a high cholesterol level, elevated uric acid, SGPT and SGOT (liver enzymes), high blood sugar, and high blood pressure.

SIM: Was there a wake-up call? And how did this change you?

JR: Yes. After my father passed away due to complications from diabetes, I realized that if I didn’t change soon, I might end up like him.

SIM: Could you describe your food habits before you decided to seek help or intervention?

JR: I would eat anything and everything you could imagine! I would have heavy meals until late at night. Looking back, I could see the pattern in my eating habits – I would eat the most at dinner and post dinner time. This was when eating was most pleasurable. Maybe this was also the time when I was loneliest. I would binge on almost anything – from unhealthy fries and chips to sweet foods like cakes and pastries. I would do this secretly. I would sneak in my loot and eat in the privacy of my room. It was just horrible. I just ate and ate relentlessly.

SIM: Was there food deprivation in your childhood?

JR: None. It was the opposite. I was surrounded by food wherever I went.

SIM: When and how did this excessive food intake begin?

JR: I remember that as a child, people around me (relatives, friends, office staff) thought I was cute because I was chubby and plump. I remember I didn’t like toys that much during my childhood. Rather, I liked food. I always felt secure and safe around food. I thought I was just a voracious eater, a foodie as you call it. As I grew up, I learned more about food, learned how to cook and consequently, started eating more.

Food was at the center of all family gatherings. And being the cook at these gatherings gave me the license to eat more. Surprisingly, I’m the only fat person in my family and among our relatives.

SIM: What types of food do you particularly like to eat?

JR: Oh my… lechon (roast pig)! We used to have lechon every Sunday morning for breakfast after the morning Mass. Eating lechon was a “happy time” for me while I was growing up, and it was so until adulthood. But there was no food that I didn’t like. I liked everything.

SIM: How long has this been going on? Were you ever in denial?

JR: Oh yes, I was in denial for so long. I would hide my actual weight when asked. It was so bad that I didn’t even want to look at myself in the mirror! In my mind, I’ve always conditioned myself to think that I wasn’t overweight or, if I was, that I would be liked and loved anyway. That was how distorted my thinking was. I hid from reality, and now I see that.

SIM: What was your heaviest weight?

JR: I was 330 lbs. at 5’11”. This was just a year ago. I was dealing with the death of my father and the cancer scare of my mother.

SIM: As a medical doctor, how did you see your food and weight problem at that time?

JR: I just didn’t mind it. I believed that I could always lose weight if I just found time to exercise, which I never did. Theoretically, I knew that I had an addiction because of the symptoms I was presenting, but still I didn’t pay attention to them. I was in denial.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Cool school for IP students

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

TALAANDIG, SUBANEN, Badjao, Mandaya, Mansaka, Tagakaolo, Mangyan, Aeta, Tiduray, Bagobo, Ifugao… Many of the Philippines’ indigenous communities are represented in this special campus. Here about a hundred young people from some 30 tribes from all over the Philippines are studying to earn college degrees in order to become useful to their communities.

The Pamulaan Center for Indigenous Peoples (IP) Education is a campus within a campus devoted to the college education of IPs. I wrote a feature story about Pamulaan a couple of years ago but I am again writing about it as we prepare for school opening and to share the good news: two batches have graduated since this special tertiary learning center opened five years ago. Five of Pamulaan’s graduates have passed the licensure examination for teachers.
I have visited Pamulaan and interacted with the students, some faculty and staff and I can say that this school is the only one of its kind in this part of the world. At the heart of Pamulaan is the Indigenous Peoples Living Heritage Center which is more than just a museum. It is a center for research, documentation and publication of indigenous knowledge systems, history and culture. It also develops education and training materials.
I flew to Davao City to attend the inauguration of the center. It was awesome. College students belonging to indigenous communities and their teachers pulled all the stops to showcase their rich culture and heritage. Indigenous costumes, music, dance, food, reading materials and works of art competed with computerized interactive displays to stress the importance of the occasion. The event also brought forth the importance of education using both indigenous knowledge and high-tech instruments. And not to forget, the meaning of community and nationhood.

Founded by anthropologist, former Jesuit scholastic and 2004 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee for Emergent Leadership Benjamin Abadiano, Pamulaan is located inside the University of Southeastern Philippines’ (USEP) Mintal campus in Davao City.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Killer avenue, deadly U-turn

WE ARE in shock, we are angry, we feel the loss.

After university professor, media colleague and friend Lourdes “Chit” Estella Simbulan died in a vehicular crash on Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City last Friday afternoon, there are, again, these hasty moves by authorities to find solutions to prevent more of such accidents.
Chit was not the first one to lose her life on that killer highway, said to be the widest in the Philippines. It is about 12-kilometers long, but—hold your breath—it is wider (nine lanes on each side on some parts) than the regular expressways where motorists pay toll, where there are no traffic lights and no loading and unloading.
The problem with Commonwealth Avenue is that it functions like a regular road where public vehicles can load and unload passengers on certain spots—or, heck, anywhere for that matter—but because it is so very spacious, many motorists do not observe speed limits (despite their being recently imposed). In other words, this avenue that functions like any city road is being used like a super highway.

Chit happened to be a known media person and so the wide uproar over her untimely passing. So was the Makati regional trial court judge who perished with his wife last December while they were on their way to an early dawn Mass. The culprits in both cases were over-speeding bus drivers.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Pacquiao fighting poverty

Philippine Daily Inquirer/OPINION/by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo
Filed Under: Pacquiao, Poverty, Hospitals and Clinics, Government Aid, Benigno Aquino III
(Most Read)

IT WAS not his protestation of strength, speed and fist power that impressed me and gave me a hmmm moment. It was what he said about the greatest fight of his life. And he was not referring to any of the countless matches with formidable pugilists that brought him multiple world boxing titles and proved him to be among the world’s greatest boxers of all time.
It was what Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao said at the press conference before last Sunday’s Pacquiao-Mosley match (that he would win, of course) in Las Vegas. He declared that the greatest fight of his life is yet to be, and that is fighting poverty in his beloved country. He said this in a simpler way, in English. I am paraphrasing.
I have no interest in the brutal sport of boxing per se, but one cannot be disinterested in the culture it spawns, the icons it produces and what becomes of them.

Pacquiao was not a stranger to poverty. Everyone knows that the life of penury is all behind him. But he was now declaring before the world a personal war against poverty even while his fans were more preoccupied with their bets and securing seats in countless viewing venues all over the islands. His declaration seemed lost in the din of excitement and anticipation.

But not entirely. We will not forget those two sentences. Already, we are told, Pacquiao is interested to partner with Gawad Kalinga whose massive housing for the poor has earned national and international recognition and drawn volunteers from all over the world.

But I will not be surprised if Pacquiao would want to invent a distinct project of his own that would be supported not just by funds from being a congressman from Sarangani, but from the massive wealth that he has earned from his skull-breaking fights. And while he has survived them all, many of his admirers and supporters, his mother most of all, are praying that he would hang up his gloves. A wayward punch from a lesser opponent could spell brain damage and everything will be for naught. That might be hard to visualize but that could happen. And who knows what those punishing blows have wrought on his body over the years?

When he said his greatest fight would now be against poverty, I knew his soul has not gone the way of his body. (He’s beginning to suffer cramps.)

Pacquiao is now one of the richest citizens of the Philippines, his hundreds of millions (now a billion or so, we are told) earned from his fights, product endorsements and pay-per-view revenues. What can one do with all that except to share some of it? One should not begrudge the lavish feasting at home after every victory and his mother Dionisia’s fun parties. That means that here at home a lot of money goes around and down to the humble street sweeper. (Hermes bags costing millions of pesos and made in Europe are another story.)

So how will Pacquiao wage war against poverty? His efforts deserve watching. President Benigno Aquino III had pledged P200 million for Pacquiao’s hospital project in Sarangani that would serve the poor. But that’s not Pacquiao’s money.

Many would be eager to know how Pacquiao and his anti-poverty advisers would create an anti-poverty program that is sustainable. Sustainability is a not-so-new catchword that is not easy to spell on the keyboard (it’s a finger-twisting word even for me who types fast), a 14-letter word that journalists would rather have a substitute for. But there is no substitute for sustainability.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Hearf of Mary Villa: Where mothering is optional

Filed Under: Women, Charity, Overseas Employment, Religions

“HAVE it aborted.”
“How do I know I am the father?”
“You have brought shame to this family.”
“I am a married man. I can’t be there for the baby.”
“There are no maternity benefits for you and you have to resign from your job.”

What painful words for a woman who is pregnant, unwed and with no one to turn to. Amidst the confusion and turmoil, her heart cries out: “I want my baby to live, but where shall I go?”

The Heart of Mary Villa (HMV) is a ready answer. Run by the Religious of the Good Shepherd (RGS), HMV is a place for pregnant women who have been cast away, abused, despised or made to feel worthless. Women who just need time, space and stillness to weigh their options and plan out their future. Women who will be bringing forth precious lives into this world but who, because of the difficult and complicated circumstances they are in, need special care, comfort and assurance that there is a meaningful life ahead of them and their offspring.

Sr. Mary Lorenza Sangalang RGS, HMV directress, describes what HMV can offer the women (and girls) who come to stay during their pregnancy and after: “We give counseling and offer therapy when indicated. This facilitates the healing of wounds sometimes sustained from childhood. This also ensures that the mother has pursued, mentally and emotionally, the options of keeping or giving up her baby for adoption.”
The expectant mothers who find their way to HMV come from all walks of life. Poor, rich, with little or no education, highly educated and smart (e.g., a summa cum laude candidate), with ages ranging from 11 to 44. They come in different stages of pregnancy. They can choose to use an alias while inside HMV.

As varied as the women themselves are the circumstances surrounding their pregnancy, which may be a result of extra-marital relationships, spur-of-the-moment sexual intimacy, and rape, incest, paid sex, and so on. The pregnancy is thus unexpected, unplanned and, in the beginning, most likely unwanted.

A recent phenomenon is unplanned pregnancies that are a result of relationships that developed through the mobile phone and the Internet.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Boracay Atis barred in their ancestral land

Philippine Daily Inquirer/OPINION/by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo
Filed Under: indigenous people, Tourism, Conflicts (general), Laws
(Most Read)

PUT ASIDE bleeding-heart sentimentalism and romanticism. Here are questions that are crying out for answers:
Why are the Atis, who have lived in Boracay long before the paradisiacal island became world-renowned, being barred from occupying a piece of land that the government turned over on Feb. 11, 2011 to their community by virtue of a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) made possible by the Indigenous Peoples Republic Act (IPRA)?
Why can’t an indigenous community of 46 families whose ancestors called the island their home long, long before the island became a tourist haven, occupy a tiny 2.1-hectare area that has been designated as their home?

Why does this area called Dead Forest, which has been declared inalienable and officially declared to be the ancestral domain of the Atis, have non-Ati claimants who do not want to let go?

The Atis of Boracay are up against powerful claimants with business interests on the island known for its powder white sand and, in the last decade or so, for being a crowded party island and a hidden paradise no more.

They are called Ati in the Visayas, while their counterparts in Luzon are called Aeta, curly haired, shorter and slightly darker versions of our mainly Malay-Chinese-Hispanic selves. They are said to be the original aborigines of our islands. They were here when time began, so to speak, before the Malay, Chinese and Spanish arrivals. But I leave this subject to the anthropologists and historians.