Taal's not-so-hidden wonders

Taal's not-so-hidden wonders
By Walter Ang
November 29, 2009
Philippine Daily Inquirer

To roadtest the Nokia N86, we joined a daytrip to Taal, Batangas for some connecting with the past, some capturing of the sights via picture taking, and occasional Internet surfing.

While Taal is most known for its volcano sitting serenely in the middle of Taal Lake (it's active, actually), there are many other tourist spots to visit. We started the tour at Escuela Pia, the site of a school built in the 1880s that's now used as a multi-function venue and cultural center, where we were treated to demonstrations of the local crafts.

A collection of balisongs (fan knives) were on display, including ones with handles that are disguised as hair combs and some mezzaluna-looking blades that look like Klingon weapons. In the garden, two men showed how balisongs are actually assembled, while a third showed off a few moves and stances that are supposed to inflict the most damage to an opponent.

Sawali (woven split bamboo mats) and walis tingtings were being assembled by a family. The fragrant scent of caramel-y sweetness led us to an area where panutsa (peanut brittle) was being cooked.

Varied features
Like the cornucopia of crafts presented, the Nokia N86 also comes with a gamut of features. The lazy photographer (like this writer) will enjoy the autofocus feature (just press the shutter button halfway to allow the camera to focus), automatic motion blur reduction, and up to 20 times digital zoom (whenever you don't move to take that shot).

The more serious photographers will know how best to maximize the xenon flash and Carl Zeiss Tessar ultra wide-angle 28mm lens.

Inside the Escuela, a group of ladies were embroidering intricate designs. We took close-up photos of their output using the Nokia N86's macro function.

If the embroidery required us to become intimate with our subject matter, our next stop required us to take a step back and use the camera's zoom-out function to fully appreciate what it had to offer.

Historic church
Inaugurated in the 1860s, the Basilica of San Martin de Torres is one of the largest churches in the country. The exterior's lower Ionic columns and upper Corinthian columns as well as two different wall treatments make it look almost like a double-layer cake. Given its imposing scale and "historic" look, this church is apparently a favorite stand-in for castles for movie shoots.

Just as expansive as the church, the Nokia N86 comes with 8GB of internal memory, providing enough space for up to 4,000 photos. The memory can be increased even further with an exchangeable 16GB microSD card.

The church's ceilings used to have extensive murals but only those over the sanctuary have survived. While the Nokia N86's can't take photos as big as murals, its whopping eight megapixels does allow you to take photos as big as 16x12inches.

We had lunch at a private home where we tried out the camera's panoramic function. It comes with a guideline grid that allows you to move your camera to match a series of red succeeding frames so that you're taking photos in one straight line. The camera automatically takes the shot when you match with the grid's frame and automatically stitches the photos together.

Dramatic sight
After lunch, we walk to the Church of Caysasay, a small lesser-known church, appropriately built in honor of a small (less than 12 inches high) image of the Virgin Mary. The image was supposedly fished out of the Pansipit River by fisherman Juan Maningcad in the early 1600s. It created devotion for itself when it would disappear and reappear as well as having miracles attributed to it (such as a blind girl being cured).

Near the church is the Arch of Sta. Lucia, marking where the Virgin Mary of Caysasay is said to have made one of her apparitions. The well in front of it is said to contain miraculous healing water. The arch is a dramatic sight with its height, crumbly walls, and overgrowth, standing against a backdrop of dense foliage and crowned with the afternoon's hazy light.

This romantic ideal is spoiled because the path leading to the arch and the creek beside it are littered with garbage and trash. Not exactly the best sight to see at a place called "Banal na Pook" (sacred site).

Calling the Taal residents and local government! Making a place look better through cleaning and sprucing up is something that doesn't need divine intervention. But speaking of things you can control, you can make your photos look better with the Nokia N86's active camera toolbar that allows you access to all sorts of scene modes and color tones.

Built-in photo editing capabilities allow you crop or frame images, adjust brightness, or even add text and different effects. The Nokia PC Suite software also enables basic photo editing, including making slideshows that can incorporate soundtracks.

The trip ended with merienda at Villa Tortuga, a house built in the 19th century and repurposed as a heritage restaurant, bed and breakfast, and antique store in 2007 by designer Lito Perez.

Perez owns the costume rental shop Camp Suki in Manila and brings his love for costumes over to Taal via a small photo studio where guests can don period outfits for pictorials before or after their meals at Villa Tortuga.

On our way back to Manila, we used the phone to surf the net. It has high-speed 3G and WLAN connectivity and comes preloaded with its own browser (but you can download other browsers if you want). International travelers will find the phone's preloaded maps feature useful in countries that provide the service.

Aside from using the phone as, well, just a phone, it has a camera, it stores and plays music and video files, it has a file management section, and a word processing program?really, a handheld computer, if you think about it. Ideal for people on the go who want to stay connected and functional.

Nokia now also has its own photo and video sharing website (www.share.ovi.com) where Ovi-enabled phones can automatically upload photos to your account. The site has online photo editing functions and allows for creating slideshows that you can embed in your blog or website.

Also published online:
http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/sundaylifestyle/sundaylifestyle/view/20091130-239214/Taal%92s_not-so-hidden_wonders

Virgie Moreno's 'Itim Asu' transforms into dance deconstruction

Virgie Moreno's 'Itim Asu' transforms into dance deconstruction
By Walter Ang
November 23, 2009
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Contemporary dance artist Myra Beltran is working with video artist Sherad Anthony Sanchez and sound designer Teresa Barrozo to choreograph her deconstruction of Virginia Moreno's play "The Onyx Wolf / Itim Asu."

Titled "Itim Asu 1719-2009," Beltran's production will "attempt to bring this important work from the 1970s and convey it in a contemporary language." She says, "We are using contemporary dance, video and sound design to convey a slice of history. Fiction and reality blur in the drama, and myth blurs with history."

"The Onyx Wolf / Itim Asu" won the Cultural Center of the Philippines' 1969-1970 National Historical Play Contest. Its first staging, directed by the late National Artist Rolando Tinio, became the inaugural performance of the CCP Little Theater (Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino).

"This drama is a play within a play, and contains the story of La Loba Negra: how the wife of Gov. General Bustamante (a governor general in the Philippines during the Spanish colonial era) avenges her husband's mob assassination supposedly by a conspiracy of friars," says Beltran.

Scandal
Despite very few historical documents that note Bustamante, his story enjoys a rich lore of related controversies. Accounts of his death are gruesome and violent: his arm being broken by a machete and his head receiving a death-blow gash by a saber.

The La Loba Negra story is from a document attributed to Fr. Jose Burgos, one of three martyred priests during the Spanish colonial era. PDI columnist Ambeth Ocampo has noted that the La Loba Negra story is now attributed to Jose Marco, a forger "who created the most elaborate hoaxes of the 20th-century Philippines ? [passing off] fake historical documents to librarians, scholars and collectors."

Ocampo has also noted that Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo's painting, "The Assassination of Governor General Bustamante," remained hidden for a better part of the last century due to controversies. Hidalgo allegedly titled his work originally as "Iglesia contra el Estado" ("Church against the State").

Aside from Hidalgo's painting and Moreno's play, the mystique and thrill of Bustamante's death has spawned other works like an opera by Francisco Feliciano. A modern dance based on Moreno's play was created by Alice Reyes and remained one of the most performed works in the repertoire of the then CCP Dance Company, now Ballet Philippines.

"This drama is about history but also, it created its own history, with its various incarnations as plays, and as dance ? involving many 'heavyweight' artists who worked on its material." says Beltran. "I feel it is important to look back at these 'landmark' works of art, to ground us more as artists of the 21st century. My interest is how this drama shows the level of complexity with which we, as Filipinos, create meaning in history, how we readily blur fiction and reality, myth and history. I also ask what implication this has to us as contemporary artists."

Collaboration
Presented by Myra Beltran's Dance Forum, "Itim Asu 1719-2009" features the University of the Philippines Dance Company with guest lead dancers Marielle Alonzo and Reagan Cornelio.

Sound designer Teresa Barrozo scored Brillante Mendoza's award-winning film, "Kinatay," while video artist Sherad Anthony Sanchez recently won the Woosuk Best Film Award at the 10th Jeonju International Film Festival 2009, South Korea for his video "Imburnal."

Virginia Moreno was dubbed "The Empress Dowager of Philippine Poetry," by the late National Artist Jose Garcia Villa. She was the lone female member of an influential group of writers in the 1960's who called themselves "Ravens," which included National Artist Nick Joaquin. The Onyx Wolf is listed as the lone Philippine entry in Avant-garde Staging Around the World, published in Paris. Moreno has served as Chair of the UNESCO Culture Committee of the Philippines.

Beltran has blazed trails for independent contemporary dance in the Philippines and her group Myra Beltran's Dance Forum led the way in using alternative spaces for dance. Her dedication has pushed her initially solitary efforts into more than a decade's body of work and her dance studio, Dance Forum Space, has become a performance space that nurtures experimental choreography.

Given the work's historical subject matter and its objective to make audiences re-evaluate the way they process history, Beltran is working on possibly touring the production starting January 2010. "We're inviting organizations and schools to consider having us in their line-up of activities. The show can serve as a good preamble in terms of creating an attitude of critical thinking for the coming elections. Our history is one of resistance, and the present, meaning here and now, is included. What we do today affects our future," she says.

"Itim Asu 1719-2009" is presented by Myra Beltran's Dance Forum with friends and collaborators with the support of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. It runs from Oct. 26-28, 2009 8pm at Dance Forum Space, 36E West Ave., Quezon City. Call 373-2947.

Also published online:
http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/artsandbooks/artsandbooks/view/20091123-237797/Virgie-Morenos-Itim-Asu-transforms-into-dance-deconstruction

Added nutrients in Argentina Corned Beef

Added nutrients in corned beef
By Walter Ang
November 15, 2009
Manila Bulletin

Nutritionist and dietician Dr. Zenaida Fainsan Velasco explained the health benefits of nutrient-fortified Argentina Corned Beef at a recent installment of "Canned Cuisine Chef's Series" held at Living Well, The Podium. The series is aimed at presenting easy-to-prepare recipes developed by different chefs that use corned beef as the main ingredient.

Velasco has been teaching nutrition at the University of Santo Tomas since 1989. She noted that more than half of all child deaths are associated with malnutrition. Malnutrition includes both undernutrition, which results in weakened resistance to illness, and overnutrition, which can increase the risks for developing lifestyle diseases such as diabetes. "Malnutrition can also aggravate existing diseases or conditions," she said.

To engender healthy eating habits, Velasco stressed the importance of balance (eating just enough and not too much food), variety (having different types of foods), and moderation (monitoring the serving size of meals).

Velasco debunked the assumption that canned foods have less nutritional value compared to their uncanned counterparts. "Due to the science of nutritional additives, some canned foods are actually nutritionally superior in some ways compared to their natural form," she said. As an example, she noted that Argentina Corned Beef has 35mg of zinc and 20mg of iron.

Corned beef is a source of protein, which the body needs to develop muscles. Zinc helps children grow taller and strengthens their immune system, while iron promotes brain development and good memory. Together, zinc and iron promote children's physical and mental development.

Severe cases of protein deficiency can lead to Kwashiorkor, a condition that results in muscle wasting and mental retardation. Zinc deficiency can lead to blurring of eyesight, skin lesions and slow wound healing. Iron deficiency, on the other hand, can lead to anemia and fatigue.

Recipes were demonstrated by Chef Eugene Raymundo of Five Cows Ice Cream Bar and Restaurant, Chef Sam de Leoz Jr. of the UST-Institute of Tourism and Hospitality Management, and Chef Mia Carla Yan of the Heny Sison Culinary School and Magsaysay Institute of Hospitality and Culinary Arts.

Each chef presented a dish for "everyday meals" and a dish for "Weekend Couture Cuisine." "The wealth of Argentina Corned Beef recipes makes it possible even for the busiest moms to plan weekly family meals that are delicious and nutritious. We plan to hold more installments of the Canned Cuisine Chef's Series to encourage more mothers to bring out their inner chefs," said Melissa Lim-Lara, senior product manager of Argentina Corned Beef. "To get copies of our recipes, simply email us at cocinaargentina@centurypacific.com.ph."

For more "familiar" dishes, Chef Mia presented Argentina Corned Beef Frittata and Easy Argentina Shepherd's Pie. On the other hand, Chef Eugene featured his Flamenco Maki, a spicy twist to a Japanese dish, and his Argentina Cheese and Mushroom Penne, a way to bring this Italian dish closer to the Filipino palate.

Chef Sam shared his recipe for Farmer's Lattice Omelet Corned Beef Wasabi, where a squeeze bottle is used to spread beaten eggs onto a frying pan to create a lattice shape as it cooks. Nutmeg and wasabi are key seasonings that create interesting flavors for this dish. His Rosti and Apple Stack Corned Beef with Apple Vinaigrette Dressing is a fun way to make children (and even adults) eat more fruits and vegetables while introducing them to new flavors. It "sandwiches" corned beef, sauerkraut, french fries, and cheese between apple slices.

http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/220558/added-nutrients-corned-beef

'Sweeney Todd'--the musical, not the movie--in Manila

'Sweeney Todd'--the musical, not the movie--in Manila
By Walter Ang
November 9, 2009
Philippine Daily Inquirer

The movie musical "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" directed by Tim Burton in 2007 generated awareness for the Stephen Sondheim musical. It starred Johnny Depp as Sweeney Todd, Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs. Lovett, Alan Rickman (Professor Snape in the "Harry Potter" movies) as the antagonist Judge Turpin, and Sacha Baron Cohen ("Borat" and "Bruno") as comic relief Pirelli.

Sweeney Todd returns to London after being imprisoned on false charges. When he learns from his former landlady, Mrs. Lovett, that his wife killed herself after being raped by the Judge who wrongly accused him, he vows revenge.

Repertory Philippines will stage the musical at Onstage Theater, Greenbelt 1 in November. Given Tim Burton's quirky filmmaking style, the movie did not scrimp on blood and gore. "But the musical is not just about that," says director Michael Williams.

"The movie was more like a horror slasher movie. It cut down the songs, took out the chorus parts and a lot of the lyric orchestrations," he says. "Come watch our staging to get the full version where you'll hear all the great songs."

Menchu Launchengo-Yulo played Todd's daughter Johanna in Rep's 1982 staging with Junix Inocian (Sweeny Todd) and Baby Barredo (Mrs. Lovett). This time, she plays Mrs. Lovett. "This musical is really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for audiences because they will get to hear Sondheim's very complicated but extremely beautiful music. The songs go from super low to super high Ds. There is even a song with six part harmony in dissonance. It makes the actors sound like they're off, but they're not."

Sondheim is a multi-awarded composer and lyricist for stage and film. He's won nine Tony Awards (more than any other composer) including the Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement. He wrote lyrics for "West Side Story" and "Gypsy," and was composer/lyricist for "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," and "Into the Woods," among others.

Powerful story
While this is not the usual Christmas fare from Rep, it is nonetheless a production with a strong cache. It premiered in 1979 on Broadway with Angela Lansbury (of "Murder She Wrote" and Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" fame) as Mrs. Lovett. Nominated for nine Tonys, it won eight, including Best Musical.

Aside from its music and awards, Williams notes that the story is "fundamentally powerful" and "can move audiences." The story has themes that may appeal to educators and parents, such as family, love, capitalism, social injustice, and class struggle, to name a few.

"It shows how society and environment can drive a person to the extreme," he says. "The story is set during the Industrial Revolution. People were working and living in really bad conditions in 1930s London. Though the use of coal was banned under penalty of death, businesses still used it anyway. That's why if you watch movies set in those times, London is always portrayed as dark and foggy because of all that pollution. People got pneumonia and consumption."

"Against this backdrop, the story shows how all of these things can dehumanize you. You can get caught up in the system. Politics, bureaucracy, abuse of power, and big businesses can eat you up. It shows how revenge can consume a person. Todd's circumstances and the things he does are exaggerated. Killing people and making them into pies is absurd and extreme, so if you pick up on the dark humor, it's actually funny in a bizarre way," he says. "Audiences can even discuss the importance of quality control in food establishments," he adds with a laugh.

Good theater
Audie Gemora, who plays the titular character, says, "These are things we see everyday and take for granted. We've become cynical. It will be interesting for audiences to experience the musical on stage because to see live actors act it out for you, it helps you understand and get drawn to the story. It can be a potent and shocking piece of work. It is impossible for you to remain unaffected. Not just that, this production really has good music and it's good theater."

Yulo is excited that long time fans of Rep and new audiences will get to see "a mix of the old and new." Half the cast are actors in their first production for Rep. "It will give audiences a different flavor. Everyone is learning from each other and making things fresh," she says. Franco Laurel is playing the romantic lead Anthony opposite Lena Mckenzie as Johanna, while Robby Zialcita is Pirelli.

The artistic team includes John Ilao Batalla for lighting design; Gino Gonzales for costume design, and Mio Infante, who recently designed the set for Trumpets' "N.O.A.H.," for set design. Gerard Salonga will conduct the PhilHarmonika orchestra.

"Sweeny Todd" runs from Nov. 13-Dec.13. Open for buyers who wish to use the show as a fundraising event or as a Christmas gift for employees or clients. Call 887-0710, 215-8752 or 0917-528-0765.

Also published online:
http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/artsandbooks/artsandbooks/view/20091109-234988/Sweeney-Todd-The-Demon-Barber-of-Fleet-Street

One-on-one diet: Beverly Hills 6750's meta-morph weight management program

One-on-one diet
By Walter Ang
November-December 2009 issue
Asian Dragon Magazine

A comprehensive and personalized strategy using a combination of 
techniques and tools, Dr. Ed Santos tells Walter Ang, 
is the way to battle nagging weight issues
One-on-one diet

Studies have shown that with people who embark on weight loss strategies, especially through diets, only about 5-10% lose at least 10% of their original weight and keep it off for a whole year.

The National Weight Control Registry was thus created by Brown University and the University of Colorado to study the mindsets and habits of these dieters who were successful.

"One of the implications of the research results is that those with the most dramatic weight loss are methodical and disciplined. They always have a plan, timetable and calendar with appointments penciled in," says Dr. Ed Santos, managing director of Beverly Hills 6750, an aesthetic and weight management center. "It makes sense that someone who is inclined toward plans and routines would be most comfortable with the mundane details of calorie counting and portion control."

He notes that the studies also pointed out that having a mentor or coach to guide one through the weight loss journey was important. Beverly Hills 6750 has developed the "Meta-Morph Weight Management Program," incorporating these ideas into the process.

Complete approach
Patients consult with Dr. Santos who acts as their "mentor" throughout their weigh management endeavor. "This program is very personalized. All teaching and coaching is done by me," he says. The program includes teaching patients to be more systematic and detail-oriented by planning out and scheduling their weight loss, doing it step-by-step.

The key strength of the program, however, is that it focuses on all the different aspects that are involved in weight loss. It aims to be comprehensive "from assessment, to prescription and implementation of weight loss therapies."

The program looks into uncovering possible "hidden" problems with a battery of laboratory tests, physical examination, clinical history taking, and assessment. "It's important to find out if there are underlying endocrine, metabolic, and psychiatric conditions that can affect the patient's weight," he says.

"It would be an uphill battle to start a diet-based weight loss program, for example, for a person who has undiagnosed diabetes since this condition hinders the body from utilizing available energy sources to support the body's metabolism, thus slowing down weight loss," he says.

Aside from diabetes, other conditions that may affect weight loss include hypothyroidism, low levels of Human Growth Hormone, depression and anxiety, and nocturnal eating syndromes. Female patients are tested for polycystic ovarian syndrome and hyperandrogenism.

"Patients often are in a hurry to see weight loss results. The use of technology can help jump-start the whole process and encourages the patient to continue with the strategy or plan," he says.

The program uses technologies like whole body vibration, high intensity focused ultrasound, ultrasonic cavitation, radiofrequency with low level lasers, and endermology massage techniques (used independently or in combination) to increase metabolism and spot reductions in areas of the body that are known to be resistant to weight loss.

"Patients notice weight reduction after a series of at least six combo-treatments that are spaced one to two weeks apart, with noticeable improvement in the size of the abdomen, hips, saddlebags, and arms," he says.

The program assigns an essentially low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet that portions out the amount of carbohydrates, protein, and fat that a patient should be eating to promote the loss of body weight and fat as well as to prevent the loss of lean muscle tissue. "This diet has been associated with long-term efficacy and more people stick to it because it keeps energy levels up and hunger pangs down," he says.

The program designs individualized diet plans for each patient and includes teaching the patient on visual zoning and portion control of food, food selection, reading food labels and shopping for low-calorie food, advertising traps, and hunger control. For convenience, food-delivery service is available.

"Exercise is an important part of the weight loss battle," he says. "The connection between exercise and weight control is simple: exercise burns calories."

The program has partnered with leaders in the fitness industry and recommends exercise programs based on frequency (minimum of three days per week with no more than two days off between sessions), intensity (should take place at a "moderate" intensity level; "not too easy, not too hard"), and time (minimum of 20 minutes per session, working up to 60 minutes over time) to promote aerobic activity and strength training.

"Time can be cumulative. You don't have to do 60 minutes all at once. You can do several 10-minute mini-workouts each day," he adds.

"The use of medicines, such as appetite suppressants, is limited and selectively prescribed for patients who meet strict criteria recommended by the American Society of Bariatric Physicians," he says. "On the far end of the spectrum of weight loss solutions is weight loss surgery. The patient can undergo minimally invasive surgical techniques, usually either a vertical sleeve gastrectomy or a gastric banding procedure, (both procedures reduce the size of the stomach), that results in an average weight loss of 20-30% of the patient's baseline weight."

Dr. Santos cautions that while there are really no quick-fixes to weight loss, "the Meta-Morph Weight Loss Program can offer a comprehensive weight loss strategy that uses a combination of techniques and tools to battle nagging weight issues."

Dr. Eduardo A. Santos has 15 years of experience in general and cancer surgery. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, a Fellow of the Philippine College of Surgeons, and a Diplomate of the Philippine Board of Surgery. Dr. Santos sits on the Board of Directors of the Philippine Society for Enteral and Parenteral Nutrition (PHILSPEN).

Stem cells by the bottle: Dr. George Eufemio endorses StemEnhance dietary supplement

Stem cells by the bottle
By Walter Ang
November-December 2009 issue
Asian Dragon Magazine

A new dietary supplement, surgical oncologist Dr. George G. Eufemio 
tells Walter Ang, can help the body boost its stem cells and 
keep the organs and tissues functioning
Stem cells by the bottle

Stem cells are increasingly being regarded as this millennium's fountain of youth. Stem cells can be thought of as "master" cells. A stem cell has the ability to duplicate itself endlessly and to become cells of virtually any tissue or organ in the body. Initial research has shown that embryonic stem cells have an exceptional ability to duplicate in test tubes and can be triggered to become virtually any kind of cells (e.g. brain, heart, liver, etc.).

The use of human stem cells in medical therapies has been a topic of public debate. Most of the heated discussions revolve around the use of embryonic stem cells (stem cells gathered from human embryos).

However, stem cells can also be harvested from the bone marrow. "Recent developments over the past few years have established that adult stem cells have capabilities comparable to embryonic stem cells, not in the test tube, but in the actual human body," says surgical oncologist Dr. George Eufemio.

In adults, stem cells act as a repair system for the body, not only replenishing specialized cells, but also replacing dysfunctional cells (for example, of the blood, skin, etc.). Adult stem cells have been routinely used for many years to help treat leukemia. The research community believes in potential uses for stem cell therapy to treat diseases such as cancer, Parkinson's disease, spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, and muscle damage, among many others.

"As you age, the number and quality of stem cells that circulate in your body gradually decrease, leaving your body more susceptible to injury and other age-related health challenges," he says. "Many studies indicate that simply releasing stem cells from the bone marrow can help support the body's natural process for renewal of tissues and organs. The Stem Cell Theory of Renewal proposes that stem cells are naturally released by the bone marrow and travel to the body's organs where they proliferate and develop into the cells of the target organ."

Dr. Eufemio notes that numerous studies performed by various scientific teams throughout the world, including the National Institute of Health, have clearly established that the higher the levels of circulating stem cells the better the ability of the body to maintain optimal health. "A recent publication in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that the level of stem cells in the blood was one of the best indicators of cardiovascular health," he adds.

Based on these findings, Dr. Eufemio is advocating StemEnhance, a dietary supplement that has been shown to support the release of stem cells from the bone marrow. "Just as antioxidants are important to protect your cells from free radical damage, stem cell enhancers are equally important in order to keep your organs and tissues functioning well by helping your body release stem cells, so that these stem cells can travel to areas of your body where they are most needed," he says.

StemEnhance was developed by business entrepreneur Ray Carter and botanical researcher and neurophysiologist Christian Drapeau based on years of intense research. They founded the company StemTech Health Sciences in 2005 and their research showed that the compound aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA), a natural botanical extract, supports the body in naturally releasing more stem cells.

"Whole AFA has been used for more than two decades with a very good track record of safety and health benefits. It has been used as a natural anti-inflammatory product, to support the immune system, and to improve mental clarity and mental energy," says Dr. Eufemio.

StemTech's scientific team further isolated and identified the components of AFA that were responsible for these health benefits and concentrated these extracts in StemEnhance. "AFA has been found to contain phenylethylamine, responsible for providing a feeling of mental energy; phycocyanin for antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as L-selectin ligand, which supports the natural release of stem cells (specifically, CD34+ cells) from the bone marrow, and Migratose, which may support the migration of stem cells out of the blood into tissues," he says.

"The formulation of StemEnhance is patented and is the first of its kind on the market. The AFA grows naturally in a fresh-water lake in Southern Oregon, and is not farmed nor manipulated in anyway, hence no genetic modification," say Dr. Eufemio.

Several clinical studies and trials have been conducted on the product, the results of which can be found in the website www.stemtechbiz.com. StemEnhance was tested in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over study where volunteers were given either StemEnhance or a placebo. "Since the study is blind, no one, not even the scientists doing the study, knew which pills were the placebos and no one knew who got the placebos," he says. "The results showed that those who received StemEnhance had a significant 25% increase in the number of circulating stem cells."

StemEnhance is available through independent distributors and part of the proceeds are donated to the StemTech Global Foundation, dedicated to the support of children's causes around the world. "As with all dietary supplements, consult your doctor before you begin taking StemEnhance," he notes.

Dr. George G. Eufemio is past Chairman of the Philippine Board of Surgery, former President of the Philippine College of Surgeons and former President of the Philippine Cancer Society. He is also past Chairman, Department of Surgery of the Philippine General Hospital. He received an Honorary Fellowship from the Royal Australian College of Surgeons (1992) and served as President (1979) and Governor (1999-2002) of the Philippine Chapter of the American College of Surgeons. Presently, he renders consultancy work for Medical Center Manila and Cardinal Santos Medical Center.