Thursday, February 27, 2020

VCO in the time of Covid-19

From a Reuters report: “The surge of infections outside mainland China triggered steep falls in Asian share markets and Wall Street stock futures as investors fled to safe havens such as gold. Oil prices tumbled and the Korean won fell to its lowest since August.”
That, folks, is what a microorganism, namely COVID-19, has done, and that is not straight out of a sci-fi scenario. It is for real.

There have been instances of panic buying, hoarding, changes in daily routines and social engagements and behaviors. (No “beso-beso.”) Businesses have been greatly affected, notably the travel industry.
But raking profits are the manufacturers of face masks, alcohol, disinfectants, sanitizers, and even Vitamin C. Shelves became empty of these items after the World Health Organization raised the classification of the outbreak to something of international concern. But it is not yet a pandemic, folks, health officials could well announce with their faces hidden behind face masks even as the number of positive cases changes for the higher every day and so does the death count.

But to cut to the chase… Virgin coconut oil (VCO) is making a ripple, if not a splash again, during this time when the COVID-19 outbreaks outside of mainland China where it originated, are becoming more pronounced. There is news about a research proposal on the use of VCO in the treatment of COVID-19 infections. In 2005, when the bird flu hit, there was a proposal, too, to study the effectiveness of VCO. I did write about it.
It has been more than a decade since VCO became news, thanks to the efforts of the late Dr. Conrado Dayrit and Bruce Fife. Dayrit wrote the book “The Truth About Coconut Oil: The Drugstore in a Bottle” (Anvil, 2005) with a foreword by Fife, himself an author and VCO advocate.

In 2005, I wrote an Inquirer magazine cover story on Dayrit and his VCO advocacy. Dayrit was an eminent pharmacologist-internist, cardiologist, author, professor, and unrelenting medical researcher. He helped put back coconut oil in its rightful place in the realm of food and medicine.
Behind all that was the fact that saturated fats, coconut oil in particular, were being blamed for increased cholesterol levels that led to heart disease. This was the gist of the so-called Lipid Diet-Heart Theory propounded by the West. Dayrit bashed that as “brainwashing.”
Attempts to prove the theory wrong were either ignored or suppressed because the American seed oil industry had everything to gain from the downfall of coconut oil. Coconut oil has since regained its good name, thanks to Dayrit and his counterparts in scientific research that have proven that coconut oil, a saturated fat, is a medium-chain fatty acid, not long chain like what is found in animal fats and other oils. “No oil in God’s whole creation can compare with it in its numerous actions,” Dayrit said with pride.
He was then pushing 90 and studying the efficacy of VCO for HIV-AIDS when death overtook him in 2007. Dayrit’s landmark 1998 study had established that coconut oil alone could lower the viral load of HIV-infected patients and improve their overall health.
Dayrit left a treasure trove of research findings that cry out to be pursued further. Present health secretary Francisco Duque III was also the health secretary at that time and knew about the research. Dayrit’s son Manuel later succeeded Duque as health secretary.

It is now Dayrit’s other son, Fabian Antonio Dayrit, professor emeritus of Ateneo de Manila University, and Dr. Mary Newport of Spring Hill Neonatology in the US who are proposing a clinical study of COVID-19 positive patients that would involve the use of VCO.
VCO and its derivatives are cheap, safe and have been proven effective as antivirals. What are we waiting for? The coconut is God’s gift to the Filipino people.
                                                                    * * *
The “1000 and one malongs” campaign for the Taal volcano evacuees brought generous donations totaling P114,700 in cash which was spent for malongs and underwear. These were brought directly to the evacuees or channeled through the Good Shepherd Sisters and, later, also ARMK. Someone from my long-ago Ateneo days belatedly popped in P50,000 which was channeled through the sisters. Salamat!
For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

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Thursday, February 20, 2020

Outbreak at sea, like a dystopian movie

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

It seems straight out of a drama movie, reminiscent of the likes of “Voyage of the Damned” (which had Oscar nominations) that tells the story of German Jews aboard the St. Louis bound for Havana to escape the Nazis during the outbreak of World War II. Alas, no country would receive them. (They were not the same Jewish refugees that the Philippines took in.) So the ship had to return to Hitler’s Germany where the refugees, many of them highly talented, ended up in concentration camps or were gassed to death. Those who survived told harrowing tales.
This month, MS Westerdam became a cruise ship without a harbor, marooned at sea for two weeks. It was not allowed to dock anywhere in Asia, until Cambodian authorities allowed it to anchor. One of its passengers tested positive for COVID-19.

But real-life drama still unfolding every day is in the cruise ship Diamond Princess, presently docked in Yokohama, Japan. Someday, it could be mined for some movie script or other, considering that the COVID-19 outbreak among its passengers is the first of its kind on board, perhaps unprecedented in recorded maritime history, epidemiology, disease control, and whatever else.
The cruise ship, with 3,700 passengers and crew, docked in Japan early February. Although only one fell ill initially — a Chinese who disembarked in Hong Kong — his fellow passengers soon also fell ill one after another even while already quarantined inside the ship in Japan waters.

The Diamond Princess drama is one dystopian plot for the screen. I am not being facetious. Some movie a la “Outbreak” starring Dustin Hoffman or the TV docuseries “Pandemic” would be instructive.
Quarantined passengers have been recording their daily ordeals with their phone cameras. There is so much material. Not to forget the heroic medical workers on land, like those who raised the alarm in Wuhan (the epicenter) in China, and were made to suffer for it by their own government.

Let me digress. In this jet age, ships are no longer only for cargo, they are also for fun and entertainment. If you’ve been on a cruise, you’d realize when you step inside the ship that it is one floating luxury hotel with people of various nationalities and backgrounds.
It is like one barangay, if you may, especially when you see that the crew — chefs, cooks, engineers, entertainers, musicians, beauticians, etc.—are mostly Filipinos. Oh, and there could be a whodunit on the side. During the only cruise of my life (on the Mediterranean), there was a fellow passenger who fell into the sea (a suicide or was there a crime committed?). Years later, the incident was tackled on the Oprah show. A story, indeed.
Diamond Princess is British-owned, so Japanese authorities deserve profuse thanks for allowing it to dock and providing Japanese medical workers to care for the ailing crew and passengers, many of them Japanese, as well as those who remain quarantined in the ship.
Some governments are already repatriating their citizens, positive or not for COVID-19. I am concerned about the Filipino crew who tested positive (35 of the 538, as of Tuesday) and are in Japanese hospitals. The Filipinos in the ship are to be flown home soon and quarantined again.
Questions have been raised on whether it was wise to quarantine the passengers together inside the ship because, just the same, the virus continued to spread among them. But what better choice did health authorities have? The situation is unprecedented. The number of cases in the Diamond Princess is the biggest cluster outside China and next to Japan’s.

As of Wednesday morning, the reported death toll in China alone had jumped to 2,004 after a surge of 1,749 new cases. Almost 14,000 have recovered. Hubei alone has accounted for 70,548 cases.
Before the age of vaccines, during the bygone age of exploration and conquest, countless men died of diseases during sea voyages, their corpses consigned to the ocean depths. The ships brought diseases to immune-deficient natives. Today, this planet’s jet-setting citizens are vulnerable as ever to rogue viruses and mutant bacteria. Microscopic and unseen by the naked eye, they could be used for biological warfare. #

Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/127489/outbreak-at-sea-like-a-dystopian-movie#ixzz6EkHPuNOd
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Thursday, February 13, 2020

'Terrorism financing'?

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

So like an intractable virus.
With the Duterte administration’s unrelenting crackdown on its perceived enemies, it is no surprise for members of its officialdom to hit at even those who are harmless, powerless, and clueless vis-à-vis their vicious intents.

The latest in the crosshairs is again the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP), whose Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) accounts were frozen by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC). RMP is one of the task forces of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines.
Unknown to RMP, on Dec. 26, 2019, the AMLC issued Resolution TF-18 which ordered a 20-day freeze for three RMP accounts with the BPI. It ordered the bank to submit details of RMP-related bank accounts. The AMLC could file, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), a petition to extend the freeze order to six months with the Court of Appeals.RMP said this latest crackdown was based on the AMLC’s very vague reasoning that there is “probable cause that the BPI accounts of RMP are related to terrorism financing.”

RMP national coordinator Sister Elsa Compuesto on the crackdown: “On the same day, a letter was sent by the AMLC to the BPI main office containing said orders. Then on Jan. 9 and 13 this year, RMP was notified by several BPI branches that its accounts have been suspended: two for the national office and nine for the Northern Mindanao sub-region.
“We vehemently deny involvement in any form of financing terrorism. Donations and funding received by the RMP are used to implement projects and programs to help the marginalized and oppressed. In contrast to the government’s false narrative, RMP has delivered much-needed services to rural communities across the country for 50 years. We have our mission and community partners to confirm this. In freezing our bank accounts, the AMLC is only depriving the rural poor of the help and services they deserve, and that the government refuses to provide.”

“Terrorism financing” sounds to me like a new crime classification in the book, straight out of a paranoid mind and, if not that, a new invention to simply harass and make life awful for those who would not pay obeisance to the powers-that-be.
Remember that RMP’s former national coordinator Sister Elenita Belardo of the Religious of the Good Shepherd is being charged for perjury. Her accuser is Hermogenes Esperon, Mr. Duterte’s national security adviser. Belardo’s arraignment is scheduled on Feb. 20 at 2 p.m. at the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 37.
Her case stems from a petition for a writ of amparo (protection) and habeas data filed by several groups, RMP among them.
Government elements had tagged RMP as a communist front, hence RMP’s need for a writ of amparo.
Also remember Australian Sister Patricia Fox who, for almost two decades, worked with marginalized sectors and supported their causes. The Duterte administration considered Fox, who had headed RMP, “an undesirable alien.” Fox was deported in 2018 after months of battling it out in court with the support of women, church workers and concerned citizens. Mr. Duterte, who had verbally attacked Fox, was unmoved.

Still facing charges filed by the military are RMP members, among them, three senior citizens: Belardo, 80, for perjury; RMP Northern Mindanao sub-region coordinator Sister Emma Teresita Cupin, 63, of the Missionary Sisters of Mary, for arson, kidnapping, and robbery; and lay worker Angie Ipong, 74, for frustrated murder.
Two of RMP’s volunteer teachers — Melissa Comiso and Nori Torregosa — are still in jail for what RMP calls “trumped-up charges.” RMP-run schools for children of indigenous communities have been forcibly closed.
Comes now the suspicion of “terrorism financing.” RMP had openly declared that one of its main sources of funds is the European Union.
RMP is not alone. The OSG recently filed with the Supreme Court a quo warranto case for the forfeiture of the legislative franchise of media giant ABS-CBN to stop its “abusive practices.” The Philippine media under siege, a déjà vu.
Vice President Leni Robredo, who had herself been charged with sedition (her case has been dropped) along with several others, described the OSG’s move as abuse of authority, “Panggigipit ito, ayon sa pansariling agenda ng iilang nasa poder.”
I will give a summary on the “1001 Malongs” campaign for women evacuees next time. 1001 na salamat! #

Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/127330/terrorism-financing-2#ixzz6EkKgwdBM
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Thursday, February 6, 2020

Filipinio healing priest does so 'many miracles like in the Bible'

Philippine Daily Inquirer/FEATURES/by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo  Page A1
(Father Fernando Suarez passed away suddenly on February 4, 2020. https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1224035/healing-priest-fr-fernando-suarez-collapses-dies

Here is my article on him published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on December 31, 2007. It is also included in my book "You Can't Interview God: Church Women and Men in the News, Anvil 2013 )

2014 photo by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo

December 31, 2007

Page A1

HE COULD NOT BELIEVE HIS healing power. He wanted to run away from it.

A Canadian woman declared dead eight hours earlier, her organs ready to be harvested and donated, suddenly opened her eyes after Filipino priest Fr. Fernando Suarez prayed over her.

Suarez, who was then a seminarian, was stunned. “Let me out of here,” was all he could say, ready to

He was supposed to go and see the woman earlier but he was not able to make it in time. When he arrived at the Ottawa Civic Hospital in Canada, it seemed too late. But Suarez went to see her anyway and, surrounded by doctors whom he requested to be present, he prayed over the woman. The miracle happened.

The woman is now well, Suarez says, and has resumed her normal life.  That case, which happened almost nine years ago, is probably the most stunning of all, but Suarez continues to amaze, baffle and bring hope and joy through his ministry that has seen the healing of countless sick and infirm in many parts of the world, including the Philippines.

“It is not me,” he says casually. He is convinced that he is just a channel for God’s healing power.

The soft-spoken Suarez, a 2007 TOYM (The Outstanding Young Men) awardee for religious service, projects an ordinariness that is both pleasant and endearing. His boyish looks do not easily reveal “what God has wrought” through him. He does not have an electrifying aura nor does he shriek and shout to slay evil lements like some Bible-thumping televangelists do. Suarez goes about it gently, in his own soothing way, touching, praying over people, pleading for healing. And because he wants everything centered in the Eucharist, he always begins with a Holy Mass.

Like in the Bible

Miraculous healing continues to happen. People who have been assisting him for some time have witnessed the impossible.

Businessman Greg Monteclaro of Couples for Christ-Gawad Kalinga has seen it all. “Except the raising of the
dead,” he says. “But the deaf hear, the blind see, the lame walk—all that is told in the Bible—I have seen it happen.”

In Bulacan, Monteclaro narrates, there was this young boy who was born with practically no bones. “He
was soft—like jellyfish. I was holding him in my arms when Father Suarez prayed over him. I myself felt the bones grow inside the boy’s body and suddenly there he was—walking.”

How does one explain that?

“My own problem here is that I have seen so many miracles, it has become so common to me,” Monteclaro says.

Not that he is complaining.

Journalist and documentalist Bernardo Lopez has his own share of miracle stories to tell and he continues to
use his video camera to capture moments that he hopes would convince many of what God is doing through Suarez. He has avidly followed the priest and has uploaded images on YouTube which have been getting thousands of hits.

Boy from Butong

Born in 1967 (he turns 41 in February) in Barrio Butong in Taal, Batangas, Suarez grew up like most boys. (Taal’s antique basilica is touted as the biggest in the Far East. It is also known for the miraculous Virgin of Caysasay.)

His father, Cervando, drove a tricycle and his mother, the former Azucena Mortel, was a seamstress. The
eldest of four children (he has a sister and two brothers), he attended public schools.

“We weren’t a particularly religious family,” he says. “Our family attended Mass maybe three times a year.” At an early age, Suarez already knew how to earn a living. At 12 he rented out inflatables at Butong

Healing at 16

Something happened when Suarez was 16. He came upon a paralyzed woman and took pity on her. “Naawa lang ako (I took pity on her).” He found himself praying over her and suddenly the woman was walking. He did not know what to make of it and did not talk about it much. It must have been discomfiting to a lad his age. Looking back, it all seemed so natural. But at that time, announcing it to the world was far from Suarez’s

What was beginning to concern him was the call to the priesthood or religious life. “I didn’t respond. I
didn’t know a priest.” How, where, when? He was waiting for cues and signs, but until they came, he just lived one day at a time, pursuing what needed to be done. He kept the call to himself, nurtured it “until lumago (it flourished).”

Going to the seminary was not an immediate option. Suarez went to Manila and graduated with a chemical
engineering degree at Adamson University which is run by the Vincentian Fathers.

Mary appears

After college, Suarez entered
the Franciscan Order (Conventuals). “After one-and-a-half years, I left. Then I joined the SVD (Society of the Divine Word) but I was asked to leave after six months.”

It was there, at the SVD Christ the King Seminary that, Suarez says, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to
him. “She told me that I would go to a far away place which was cold and windy, and there proclaim the word of God.”

Suarez was in his late 20s when he met a French-Canadian student and tourist named Mark Morin who invited him to Canada and even paid for his fare. They could have been partners in a business venture but Suarez wanted to pursue the priesthood. That was 1996.

He again tried the Diocese of Winnipeg to study as a diocesan priest but again, it did not work out and he
was made to leave.

“I was an expensive venture, they said,” he says, chuckling. “They’d have to spend four-and-a-half years on
me.” They preferred already ordained Filipino diocesan priests who were seeking a life abroad.

Companions of the Cross

And then he met priests of the Companions of the Cross (a Canadian congregation founded in the 1980s) and here he has stayed since. Because he had had previous religious formation and studies in philosophy and theology, it did not take long for Suarez to be ordained.

“I was ordained in 2002 when I was 35,” he says, “and I am the only one who was assigned to go worldwide soon after ordination.”

His superiors were aware of and recognized his gift and set him free to reach out to the world.

“I was nonchalant about all these. There was no pressure. I acted upon obedience and not on what I wanted.

Remember, I had kept this gift for 20 years,” he says.


Suarez’s gift of healing first became known abroad and only later in the Philippines. He has visited many
countries, some of them poor, like Uganda where he walked among refugees, orphans, people sick with AIDS, malaria and yellow fever and afflicted with evil spirits.

Fr. Jeff Shannon who accompanies Suarez on his trips recalls their bout with restless orphaned girls
in Uganda.

“As they approached us for prayer after the Mass, they rested in the Spirit for hours, then cried, wailed
and screamed as the Holy Spirit moved in to free and to heal [them]. After three hours of struggle they were delivered and they became as peaceful as doves, full of love. As they sang and danced their way back to their residence, they witnessed their dormitory light up inside, even though it was late at night and
there was no electricity. One girl was healed of blindness.”

Miracle stories are recorded in the newsletter of Mary Mother or the Poor-Healing Ministry, a foundation Suarez established to help the suffering poor.

Mary Mother of the Poor

Eight years ago, while praying, Suarez had a vision where he saw Jesus pouring on graces upon him. He
also saw poor children asking for help. He couldn’t understand the vision’s meaning at that time.

During a visit to the
Philippines some years ago, 10 poor children approached him to ask for support for their studies. Suarez sent them money and as time went by, more support came from friends who shared his vision. Support came from Austria, Canada, USA, Germany, Japan, Italy, England, Switzerland, Uganda and the Philippines.
This gave rise to the Mary Mother of the Poor Foundation (MMP) which aims to help the poor through better shelter, counseling and other programs, by coordinating with health and social services in order to help the sick and the aging, by teaching the tenets of the Catholic faith and by providing programs to help the youth become good citizens.

As high as Statue of Liberty

Soon to become the center of Suarez’s healing ministry is Montemaria (Matuko Point) in the outskirts of
Batangas City. Set on a hill on 20 hectares of land, the center of the Oratory of the Blessed Virgin at Montemaria will have chapels, prayer gardens, Stations of the Cross, retreat houses, campsites, lodging houses, a center for the poor and even a replica of Mary house in Ephesus (ancient city in Turkey). The place is meant to draw pilgrims who want to renew their faith.

The Montemaria centerpiece is the 33-story-high statue of Mary Mother of the Poor which will be about as high as the Statue of Liberty and higher than Christ the Redeemer of Brazil. It will
face the sea between Batangas and Mindoro, known to be one of the world’s
richest in marine biodiversity.

The scale model was unveiled last August with Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales and Lipa
Archbishop Ramon Arguelles in attendance.

There are claims that the stones on Montemaria have caused healing for the sick and people have started
going to the place to find out for themselves.

40-hour-vigil Jan. 11-13

Nestor Mangio, one of the architects and an avid supporter of Suarez, says the oratory is scheduled to be
finished in September 2008. The project is not wanting in donors. In July, the Companions of the Cross, the congregation to which Suarez belongs, will put up a foundation in the Philippines.

A 40-hour vigil is scheduled from Jan. 11-13 and pilgrims are expected to come in droves. Suarez will be there.

And how does the healing priest relax? “I do sports, I love nature, I love talking to people. I read the
spiritual classics—St. Augustine, Francis de Sales. I also like Thomas Merton,”
he says.

Has the surge of the crowds affected him? “Wala sa akin ’yun. (That’s nothing to me.)” He thinks people can
easily approach him because “I am not threatening.” After Mass, he says, he
prays and “this saves me.”

“I would like to think that after I’ve passed through this world, I’d have made a dent.”

For now, the words of Jesus to the suffering are enough to inspire him. “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28). #