We Should Listen to our Body


By Apolinario Villalobos


While I advocate the alternative herbal medicines which are already accepted even by licensed scientific medical practitioners, the “basic” prescribed drugs which are considered as beta blockers such as the “statins” (mine is atorvastatin) and losartan are still necessary. They have their own immediate effect, while those of the herbs have their own, too. Along this line, it is a fact that factory-produced drugs are clones of medicinal herbs, but enhanced with various chemicals to extend their shelf life. As regards the stroke or heart attack, in particular, there are many natural alternatives for its prevention, many of which have already been packed in gel, capsule and tablets, as well as, made more palatable in the form of syrup.


It is important that we “listen” to our body by being sensitive to manifestations of what is wrong with our system. Our intestines, for instance, grumble if we have overeaten for the job that they could not undertake effectively, so we either have loose bowel movement (LBM) or constipation, and worse, we vomit or puke. If we feel constant pain in certain parts of our body, by all means, that particular area must immediately be examined by a doctor. If our skin shows tell-tale signs that suggest cancer, we should see a doctor immediately. If we experience regular chest pains, dizziness, numbness of any of our legs or arms, we might already be experiencing the onset of a mild stroke, etc.


For those who are fond of uncontrollably quaffing alcoholic drinks, they should minimize their intake soonest as they feel signs of high blood pressure (HBP) after downing 5 bottles of beer or more. Other indications for the inception of HBP are redness of the face and appearance of red spots all over the body, but most especially, dizziness.


For the health buffs who are fond of jogging or doing strenuous workouts, they should immediately see a doctor if they experience unusual shortness of breath and chest pain which they have not encountered before. They should not treat them as simple signs of fatigue.


To stay alive and healthy, we should shake off arrogance from our person and accept the fact that there is no perfect body, even if it is pampered by health drugs….not even by high-tech therapies, one of which is stem cell intake by injection or orally. If we have to believe what is said in the Bible, the Godly-decreed life of man is supposedly until before he reaches the age of 70. We should therefore, take care of our body to make the most out of life by being sensitive to its manifestations.




Dra. Aurora de la Fuente: People’s “Doktora” of Tacurong City

Dra. Aurora De la Fuente: People’s “Doktora” of Tacurong City

By Anthony Bong de la Fuente


She was known as “Doktora” in our small town of Tacurong. She was a favorite doctor among so many people. She trained as a pediatrician, but soon, even the parents of the children would consult her. Even as she prepared breakfast for us early in the morning, patients will already be waiting for her at the clinic just beside our house. Sometimes she will be at a party, or at some function, a nurse would find wherever she was, and would inform her there were patients at her clinic. She would leave the party to see them. The patients sometimes came by the jeepney load. They came from far-away places, and sometimes, they went as a community to see her. And she saw them one by one. She took time to chat, and talked with them. She had an easy way about her – beautiful, quick to smile, warm to people, and always genuinely concerned and interested.

She always wore white and her hair in a neat bun. But on her, the look never seemed severe or constricting. The material of her dresses were usually flowing, and soft, and her smile would soften the most trucculent patients. She barely wore make-up, just face powder and a lipstick. On her fingers she wore her college ring, and her wedding ring. She was simple and elegant. Something about her friendly demeanor made it easy for people to confide in her. They told her not only what ailed them, but also the hurts and the joys that were in their hearts. She listened to them, emphatized with them, and like an elder sibling she offered advise, or even sometimes a joke to make them feel better. She was gentle with them, but also stern with them when they missed out on their medication, or when parents were neglectful of their children.

She never lost her Cebuano accent. She would pepper her conversation with Visayan words that would amuse my father to no end. But she has developed a way of talking to her patients about what ails them. She learned all the right words for whatever symptoms in the specific dialect her patient use – Maranaw, Maguindanao, Ilonggo, Ilocano, Tagalog, and of course, Cebuano. And she talked with them using a sort of pidgin combination of Cebuano-Ilonggo-Tagalog, and whatever dialect was appropriate. Somehow they understood each other. Young children, their parents, and their grandparents came to see her, and they trusted her.

My dad who was a politician always introduced himself as “the husband of Doktora,” knowing how my mom was as well-liked, and quite as popular in the community. As kids, we were allowed to hang around the clinic, and were encouraged to befriend the sick children to cheer them up. We were able to forge good friendships with the kids we met in her clinic. Mothers would tell my mom that their kids were not afraid of going to the doctor as soon as they knew that they were going to see “doktora.”

At times when there was lull in between patients, or late in the afternoon, she’d sit at the foyer of her clinic. She watched people pass by the road side. People would call out to her, and she will wave back to them. Friends would stop by, and soon the air will be filled with laughter, and conversation. Her clinic was a hub for friends to get together, talk, and be updated with each other. Even strangers found a welcome there, and soon they will be included in the ongoing interchange of stories, ideas, and wamth.

She lived a quiet, but not unexciting life of a physician with growing kids, and a husband involved public service. Her faith in the Lord was a vibrant force that was strong and powerful. She was 46 years old when she was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. She quietly and bravely endured the therapy that followed. Even at 48 as the cancer cells metastasized to her spine, and lungs, she remained graciously dignified. Her prayers, and those around her were sources of inspiration. Her husband was tender and strong for her, but she was an anchor that was never swayed.

I remember that even as she was suffering, her patients would still come and see her. They insisted that they actually got better when they saw her. “Makita ko lang si Doktora, ga-ayo gid ako” (just seeing Doktora makes me well), and she would see to it they got to talk to her, and consulted with her.

When she died in Cebu, many requested that her body be brought back to Tacurong so people can mourn with us. On her burial, many came to pay their last respect, lining up the streets to say goodbye as the procession passed. A friend lent his airplane to rain on petals along the way.

She didn’t have the gift of years as she passed away too soon. But her life continues to be an inspiration to those whose lives she touched. Even today, I meet people in the strangest places, and as soon as they learn I am from Tacurong, and “Doktora” was my mom, a few of them would say, “I was her patient,” or “She was the best doctor.”

Today would have been her 77th birthday, but what she lacked in time here on earth, she had eternity with the Father. The testament of her life lives on, and today I honor her not just with a remembrance, but with a renewed commitment to serve the Lord, and to be of service to others knowing that this was her legacy and that of her husband as well.

Happy birthday, Mama!


Masarap Sana, Subali’t Nakakalito ang Buhay sa Mundo

Masarap Sana,  Subali’t Nakakalito ang Buhay sa Mundo

Ni Apolinario Villalobos


Masarap sana ang mabuhay sa mundo, kung hindi magulo at walang mga kalituhan. Dahil ito sa likas na ugali ng taong mapanlamang, mapag-imbot, at maramot na kadalasang  tumatalo sa mga mabubuting ugali na mapagpakumbaba, mapagbigay, at bukas-palad. Kung mapagpakumbaba ka, siguradong yayapakan ang iyong mga karapatan. Kung mapagbigay ka, siguradong itutulak ka lang sa tabi ng mga mapag-imbot. Kung bukas-palad ka kaya maluwag sa loob ang pagtulong sa kapwa, aabusuhin ka naman.


Dahil sa nabanggit na mga kalituhan, yong isa kong kaibigan, ay halos ayaw nang lumabas ng bahay upang makaiwas sa mga hindi magandang mangyayari sa kanya. Dahil sa ginawa niya, itinuring siya ng mga ungas niyang kapitbahay na “makasarili”. Sabi niya minsan sa akin, kung magpapaputok siya ng baril sa kalye siguradong sasabihin ng mga kapitbahay niyang “siga” siya. Sinabihan ko na lang na madaling araw pa lang ay umalis na siya at umatend ng misa sa Baclaran o Quiapo, pagkatapos ay mamigay ng tulong sa squatter’s area at kapag padilim na ay saka na lang siya umuwi – walang mga ungas na kapitbahay ang makakakita sa kanya. Sabi ko nga sa kanya ay maswerte siya at ungas lang ang mga kapitbahay niya…hindi mapagkunwari at mainggitin.


Hind lang sa pakikipagkapwa-tao ang may kalituhan, kundi kahit na rin sa mga bagay na kailangan upang mabuhay tulad ng pagkain. Kailangan daw ay kumain ng gulay at isda dahil masustansiya ang mga ito. Subali’t sa palengke, hindi lang isda ang nilulublob sa “formalin”,  ang kemikal na ginagamit sa pag-embalsamo, kundi pati na rin mga gulay upang hindi malanta agad. Ang karagatan at mga ilog na tinitirhan ng mga isda ay marumi na rin. Ang mga nahiwang gulay ay nilulublob sa tawas upang hindi mangitim tulad ng hiniwang langkang nakagawiang iluto sa gata at talong na tinanggalan ng bulok na bahagi, pati binalatang gabi, kamote, at patatas. Ang mga gulay sa pataniman ay alaga din sa mga chemical na pamatay-peste habang lumalago. Yong sinasabing mga “organic” daw ay hindi rin sigurado dahil maraming mga nagtitindang mahilig magsinungaling, makabenta lang. Kung totoo man, ay nakakakuha naman ang mga ito ng lason mula sa hangin.


Ang mga karne ay may mga anti-biotic, kaya ang akala ng isang kumpanyang nagdede-lata ng produktong karne ay bobo lahat ng mamimili dahil sinasabi ng ads nila na walang sakit ang mga baboy at manok nila – siyempre, dahil alaga sa antibiotic!…talaga din namang kumita lang, lahat ay gagawin upang makapanlinlang. At, yong mga batang lumaki sa gatas at karne ng hayop, ngayon ay may ugaling hayop na rin…dahil kung hindi man bastos ay lapastangan at suwail pa!


Ang mga softdrink lalo na ang “Cokes” (tawag yan ng Bisaya sa Coke”), na pampagana sa pagkain kahit bagoong, toyo, o patis lang ulam ay nakakasira ng kidney at atay. Kung mag-ulam naman palagi ng instant noodles na pinakamura at pinakamadaling iluto, subalit ginamitan ng kemikal upand hindi magdikit-dikit, ay lalo namang sisira ng kidney. Mismong bigas na sinasaing ay may mga chemical din upang hindi kainin ng uod at kuto habang nakaimbak sa bodega, kung saan ay iniispreyhan pa sila upang hindi upakan ng mga daga at ipis.


Ang instant na kape ay dumaan din daw sa mga paraan o process na nangailangan ng mga kemikal na hindi maganda sa katawan kahit pa sabihing nakakatulong ang inuming ito sa paglusaw ng cholesterol at bara sa daluyan ng dugo patungo sa puso. Ang asukal na puti ay mayroong bleaching chemical na nagpaputi sa dating manilaw-nilaw na katas na ito ng tubo. Naka-imbento ng artipisyal na asukal upang makaiwas sa diabetes, subalit nakakasira naman din daw ng kidney.


Pati mga bitamina na ginagawa sa mga laboratoryo ay pinagdududahan na rin. Kahit maliit lang ang sumobra sa naimon ay magsasanhi na ng overdose na maaari pang maging sanhi ng sakit. Sa puntong ito, ang mga gamot na akala natin ay nakakapandugtong ng buhay ay hindi rin pala magandang basta na lang iinumin, kaya mismong anti-biotic ay hindi na rin ligtas.


Ano pa nga ba at, animo ay nag-uunahan ang mga bahagi ng katawan natin kung alin sa kanila ang unang manghihina hanggang bumigay  dahil sa mga pagkaing akala natin ay pampahaba ng buhay, yon pala ay may mga lasong unti-unting nakakamatay. Kaya siguro, madalas na payo ng doctor sa pamilya ng pasyente na may taning na ang buhay, ay pagbigyan na lang ito sa lahat ng hihilingin niyang pagkain dahil wala na rin namang mangyayari bunsod ng lasong nagkakaiba lang ang dami sa bawat pagkain.  Ang maratay dahil sa sukdulang epekto ng lason na nakukuha natin sa mga pagkain at hangin ang ultimate na sitwasyon kung saan ay talagang angkop ang kasabihang, “no choice” at “…no turning back”.  Ang kalagayan ring ito ang nagpapakita na ang tao ay nagsi-self destruct!





We Can Minimize, Delay, or Prevent the Devastating Effect of Diseases…discipline and patience are the keys

We Can Minimize, Delay, or Prevent the Devastating Effect of Diseases

…discipline and patience are the keys

By Apolinario Villalobos

Caring for our physical make up is our responsibility in the first place, and not somebody else’s. We can prevent diseases from pestering our body by espousing discipline and patience. We must be disciplined as regards our diet and vices. And, we must be disciplined in being consistent with the preparation of remedies not prescribed by doctors. We must not wait until a disease has set in before we toe the line in clinics for a costly diagnosis. Unfortunately for others, before they know that what they “feel” is a disease, and not just a fatigue or temporary pain, it is already beyond cure, so that the last resort for the doctor is to prescribe pain killing drugs, and loads of antibiotics and other strange sounding-named tablets and capsules.

Drugs are basically sourced from plants and enhanced with chemicals to preserve them as capsules, tables, suspensions, and injectibles. Curative properties of plants are “cloned” in laboratories to come up with their synthetic equivalent. But not all curative properties of plants can be cloned as in the case of guyabano (soursop), the information about which has been suppressed by drug laboratories for so many years. Due to their failure in cloning its curative properties, they finally let go of the information to confirm what have already been circulating anyway, about its anti-cancer substance.

Man since birth is already doomed with diseases that can manifest at certain points of his life. Fortunately, there is now a medical technique of predetermining the diseases that may befall infants by “reading” their genes at the time of birth with the use of their blood. At certain points of their life, diseases are already detected, thus, medications are already prescribed to prevent the onset. This is possible for those who will be born in hospitals and clinics, but for those in villages, this medical effort is not heard of, as in third-world countries like the Philippines. These children then grow without knowing that at a certain point of their life, they are bound to develop diabetes, rheumatism, heart failure, cancer, etc.

There’s again the problem with poor parents in urban areas who are told about the diseases that may befall their newly-born infants, because they cannot afford the prescribed drugs. Consequently, their children, though born in hospitals, grow just like those in the villages, without taking the preventive drugs for the detected diseases that may manifest at a certain age. Prescriptions are just set aside to be thrown later on.

The Philippines and the rest of countries in Asia and South America are profuse in herbal “medicines”.  Long before the western colonizers came, the natives were already thriving on these. The folk medicine men who are unfairly called “quack doctors” have been prescribing leaves, barks and roots of trees, vines and shrubs to dispel diseases. For instance, guyabano or soursop was first used by the South American Indians, particularly, those living in the jungles of the Amazon, while the use of tanglad or lemon grass was first used in Asia. In every country of these regions, there are always nooks and corners occupied by herbal vendors. In Manila, these can be found in Quiapo, while in the provinces, one can find them in public markets. But most of all, these curative plants are found in neighborhoods, or if not, can be planted just anywhere, even in pots.

Discipline is needed if one is really interested in preventing the onset of a disease. A ritual is involved, because every morning, all the necessary leaves, seeds or barks have to be boiled in a kettle dedicated for this purpose, followed by the preparation of the concoction to be drunk with coffee or as is. Most often, this simple effort is abhorred by most, as they would rather take synthetic drugs in capsule or tablet form which is a very convenient way. But then, the danger with such “convenience” is the latest finding that not all components of these drugs are dissolved, thus, turning into sediments that get deposited in the liver and kidney, eventually resulting to a disease that destroy the said organs.

Those without discipline in their diet are also easy victims of diseases. They are not satisfied with having tasted certain unhealthy foods and should have told themselves “enough”. Unfortunately, they want these to be part of their daily fare on the dining table. Parents who have this kind of attitude pass it on to their children, who will later on pass it on to their own, and so forth. And, when members of the family develop and die of diseases, they blame their ancestor!

Dalawang Kuwento ng Disiplina kung Paanong Napaglabanan ang Diabetes

Dalawang Kuwento ng Disiplina

Kung Paanong Napaglabanan ang Diabetes

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

Sa panahon ngayon, kahit karaniwan na ang pagkaroon ng mga sakit tulad ng kanser, diabetes, alta presyon, cholesterol, ulcer, etc., kahit papaano, nakakagulat pa ring malaman na tayo o mga kaibigan natin ay mayroon ng isa sa mga nabanggit, lalo na kung may namatay. Ang kadalasan na ginagawa ng mga tao para labanan ang mga sakit ay yong tinatawag na “reactive” na pamamaraan. Ibig sabihin, kung kaylan dumapo na ang sakit ay saka pa lamang kikilos ang taong tinamaan kaya halos araw-arawin niya ang pagpunta sa doctor, at kung maaari lang ay ubusin na sa isang lagukan ang mga prescribed na gamot. Maliban sa nahihirapang katawan, ay nabubutas din ang bulsa nila dahil sa mga gastusin. Ang nakakalungkot ay ang mga kasong napakahuli na ang reaksiyon kaya nawalan na ng pag-asang gumaling ang maysakit. Sino ang may kasalanan?…masakit mang aminin, kalimitan ay ang mga maysakit mismo dahil sa kapabayaan.

Subalit mayroon pa rin namang maituturing na masuwerte dahil kahit malala na ang sakit ay napaglabanan pa rin nila. Marami ang nagsasabi na ang pinakanakakatakot na sakit ay diabetes dahil dumadaloy ito sa dugo at lahat ng bahagi ng katawan ng tao ay tinutumbok nito. Hindi maaaring isabay ang paggamot sa diabetes sa iba pang sakit kung sabay silang umatake. Nakakatuwang malaman na may mga kuwento tungkol sa pakikipaglaban sa diabetes na ginagawa ng iba dahil sa layunin nilang mabuhay pa ng matagal, kaya lahat na lang ng paraan ay ginagawa nila.

Ang unang kuwento ay tungkol sa dati kong landlady sa Baclaran, si ate Lydia. Masasabing maganda ang landlady ko na noong kabataan niya ay lumalabas pa sa mga pelikula ni Fernando Poe Jr. Makalipas ang maraming taon, nagkita uli kami at mangiyak-ngiyak sa pagkuwento na muntik na siyang maputulan ng dalawang binti dahil sa diabetes. Nagnaknak na daw ang harapang bahagi ng kanyang dalawang binti at dahil sa nakasusulasok na amoy, isa-isang nag-alisan ang mga boarders niya. Halos maubos ang naipon niyang pera sa pagpapagamot, subalit wala ring nangyari. Dahil sa hiya, hindi na siya lumalabas ng bahay na palaging nakasara.

Isang araw daw ay dumating ang dati niyang labandera at nang makita ang kalagayan niya ay agad nagsabi na subukan daw niya ang saluyot. Mula noon, tuwing almusal, tanghalian at hapunan ay halos saluyot na lang ang kanyang kinain. Makalipas ang isang buwan, napansin niyang unti-unting natutuyo ang malalaking sugat. Pagkalipas pa ng limang buwan, gumaling ang mga sugat. Nang bumalik siya sa doktor, nalaman niyang bumaba na ang indicator ng diabetes niya, pero tuloy pa rin ang kain niya ng maraming saluyot. Noong magkita kami, halos ayaw kong maniwala sa kuwento niya dahil makinis naman ang kanyang mga binti.. Kinakantiyawan ako ng landlady ko noon dahil sa request kong palaging ulam na pinakbet, adobong kangkong, paksiw na saluyot at okra, at tortang talong. Nang magkaroon siya ng diabetes, naalala daw niya ako.

Ang ikalawang kuwento naman ay tungkol kay Ellen, naglalako ng mga dinaing na isda sa lugar namin. Noong nakaraang taon, halata ang pagkahulog ng katawan niya dahil sa sobrang kapayatan at pamumutla. Inamin niyang may diabetes siya. Kaylan lang ay nakita ko uli siya, subalit hindi na payat at maputla…bumata pa nga. Ayon sa kanya, halos mawalan na daw siya ng pag-asa dahil sa sakit niya, at nadagdagan pa ng pagtetebe o hirap sa pagdumi ng kung ilang araw. Wala naman daw siyang perang pangkonsulta palagi, at kahit anong gamot ang inumin niya ay wala rin daw epekto. May narinig siyang mga kuwento tungkol sa ashitaba at okra na nakakagaling daw ng diabetes.

Wala naman daw mawawala sa kanya kung susubukan niya. Makalipas lang daw ang ilang araw, bumalik sa normal ang kanyang pagdumi. At, makalipas naman ang mahigit isang buwan ay nagkakulay na rin siya, hindi na maputla. Kaya mula noon ay itinuloy lang niya ang araw-araw na pagkain ng ashitaba at okra. Sa umaga, apat na dahon ng ashitaba ang nginangata niya habang nagtatrabaho at pinipilit niyang siya ay pawisan, at ang okra naman ay palagi niyang inuulam. Makalipas ang ilang buwan pa, nadagdagan na rin ang kanyang timbang subalit pinipilit niyang huwag tumaba uli tulad nang dati. Nang magpakonsulta siya uli, nagulat ang doktor dahil sa kanyang pagbabago.

Sa dalawang kuwento, malinaw na kung hindi dahil sa disiplina ay hindi gumaling si ate Lydia at Ellen. Ang iba kasi, marinig lang ang “okra” at “saluyot” ay nandidiri na dahil madulas daw ang katas. Kung may disiplina ang isang tao, kahit mapait pa ang isang halamang gamot o gulay tulad ng ampalaya, dapat ay itanim lang niya sa kaisipan ang layuning gumaling…yon lang.

Bonifacio E. Valdez: an image of hard-earned success

Bonifacio E. Valdez: an image of hard-earned success

By Apolinario Villalobos

Friends call him “Boni”, lanky and tall, though, with a sure gait when he walks. He was the Corp Commandeer of the PMT in high school, aside from being an orator, debater, athlete, and as expected, valedictorian in their high school batch of 1972. Born to a farming couple, he and his siblings were disciplined in the ways of Ilocano – thrifty and hardworking.

Life after graduating from high school was not as rosy as he expected, especially, because he had to deal with culture shock when he left Tacurong which was a typical third-class municipality at the time, to live in Manila, where he took BS General which he finished in 1976. It prepared him for a medical course which he finished in the Lyceum Northwestern University of Dagupan in 1980.

He went back to Manila in 1981 for an internship at Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center and later transferred to another hospital in Teresa, Rizal, then moved on to the Medical Center- Manila. During those years, he sold drugs on the side, the earnings from which augmented his meager allowance as an intern. Finally, he was taken in, as a company physician by the First Holdings Company, his first full-time job.

To enhance his calling, he took up Anesthesiology as a Fellow at the University of the Philippines Anesthesiologist Center for Western Pacific. His endeavor pushed him further when he got employed at the Ministry of Health, in the Sultanate of Oman where he honed his medical profession from 1987 to 1991. Another opportunity knocked at his door, this time, a better job in the United States, but he opted to go home to Tacurong where he had been dreaming to build a school.

To better prepare himself as an educator in the field of medicine, he took time to refine his skill in anesthesiology in the different hospitals of Tacurong, neighboring towns, as well as, the Davao Medical Center, now, the Southern Philippines Medical Center, a high-tech medical facility in Davao City. During his stint at the aforementioned medical center in Davao City, he sacrificed going home Tacurong on weekends to be with his family.

His struggle paid off when he finally established his school, the VMMC in 2002, with a system derived from what is currently prevailing in the United States. Initially, the VMMC trained caregivers for Canada where he had established tie-ups with healthcare agencies. The long-ranged planning of Dr. Valdez, earned for VMMC a reputation as the first institution in the province of Sultan Kudarat to offer an immediate employment abroad after several months of training. Today, the VMMC also offers basic education and TESDA courses, aside from functioning as a hospital.

In recognition for his achievements, he is currently involved in the different undertakings that pertain to education, health care, and medicine. He is the Vice-President of the Higher Education Institutions in Region 12; Chairman of the Red Cross – Sultan Kudarat Chapter; Board Member of the Mindanao Technical, Vocational and Educational Training; President of the Sultan Kudarat Association of Private and Technical Institutions; and Board Member of the Regional Technical Skills Development Council for Region 12.

Over a simple lunch in  an Adriatico mall, Malate, Manila, we relished the happy days in the campus of the Notre Dame of Tacurong College during its struggling days. He also shared with a hearty laugh, his experience in Manila, especially, during the twilight days of the Marcos-imposed Martial Law. He was seriously engrossed in his political activities that his name got included in the “hot list” of student activists. To save his neck, he bid his comrades goodbye and went home.

The indefatigable Dr. Valdez confided that he has other plans for his beloved birthplace. It is not surprising for a guy whose dreams and struggle brought him far despite his family’s financial handicap. Being used to a simple life, he added that he is contented with his frugal lifestyle and foremost in his mind today, is on how he could share the blessings that he earned by dint of hard work. From being a farmer’s son once, he is now an educator, resource person on community leadership and holistic health, and a medical practitioner, though, with a bigger dream….and of course, with his fellow Tacurongnons still in mind.

Maggie Asuncion: Serenely Surviving the Threat of Cancer through Christian Faith

Maggie Asuncion: Serenely Surviving the

Threat of Cancer through Christian Faith

By Apolinario Villalobos

It takes much courage before a person who is threatened by cancer can accept his or her fate. Initially, disbelief sets in, followed by denial. And, this is despite the factual medical findings, yet. But what happened to Maggie Asuncion is different. With all her heart and mind, she accepted her fate but also went through a “compromise” offered by the modern medical technology. She underwent a mastectomy, a gamble on her part, in the year 2000, as during the time, stories about immediate failure of operation were prevalent.  The operation was followed by 6 months of chemotherapy, and 5 years of oral medication.

Maggie grew up in a Christian home that molded her personality according to her family’s strong faith. With a strong Christian foundation, she developed a steely personality that enabled her to face any kind of challenge in life. The worry that dawned on her when she was told about the growth of cancerous cyst in her breast did not last long. She did not suffer even just a bit from stigma, even after her operation. She went on with her life as if nothing has been taken from her body.

The more than five years of observation period during which she underwent rigorous medication, was patiently endured while participating in community outreach projects together with her supportive husband, Gene. The projects involved feeding of street children, clean-up drives, and random acts of charity, with the last, they did on their own. The projects served as an effective therapy, as she has practically forgotten about herself while spending her time with the less fortunate.

Their advocacy has in time, become an integral part of their life that today, every time they go out of their home, they would see to it that they have with them goodies for street children whom they might encounter along the way. They humbly admit that these are small tokens, though heartily given – things that they can afford.

Today, Maggie is a picture of serenity and dynamism, despite her age which is beyond sixty. If not with religious groups that undertake feeding programs for street children or with environmentalist groups doing clean- ups of Manila Bay, she bakes cake and prepares salads for the family. A time is also inserted in their schedule for visits to a bed-ridden friend. Every time there is an opportunity, she also gives testimonies in assemblies, assuring victims of the big C, that there is life after its riddance by operation, but with a reminder that the patient must do his or her share by following  a disciplined way of life…plus, of course, strong faith in Him.

Maggie and Gene are blessed with four daughters, Gemma Lee A. Namit (38), Gracious Melody A. Torrijos (37), Genette Mae A. Shuler (34), and Geneve Maude N. Asuncion (26). Their only twenty day-old grandson, Gavril Matteo, unfortunately died of congenital heart disease.

Maggie showed that it pays by just leaving everything to God by virtue of strong faith….that praying should not always be for asking worldly blessings.

Finding the Right Physician And Dentist

Finding the Right Physician

And Dentist

By Apolinario Villalobos


Health is wealth, so goes the saying which is very true. Simply said, it is better to have just enough money but with a healthy body than having much money but with a sickly body that needs a doctor almost every day.


It is not easy to find the right doctor for one’s needs, especially if the ailment being suffered is not easy to diagnose. A friend who is a practicing family physician admitted that sometimes he has to consult his colleagues about cases that he is handling so that right drugs can be prescribed, or better yet, so that referral can be made if necessary. It just shows that several consultations may not give reliable result. The same is true with the finding of the right dentist, some of whom may be careless in handling patients.

In my case, it took many years before I was able to find Dr. Ceasar V. Palma, a family physician who not only patiently did the routine physical check the first time I visited him in his simply furnished clinic, but also patiently asked personal information that involved my diet, sleeping habit, hobbies, etc. before finally prescribing a drug for hypertension. The other physicians that I consulted before, did not even bother to ask questions about my diet, but just based their prescription on my age, and worst, did not even give me guidance on what food to eat. Dr. Palma, walks or commutes to hospitals where his clinics are located, as well as, when calling on patients at home, the reason perhaps, why despite his fifty-plus years of age, he moves with vim like a yuppy. He uses himself as an example on what clean living is all about. His schedule is so hectic but he still got time for medical missions in barangays of Bacoor, Cavite.


And, for my dental woes, it took several extractions by different dentists before I finally found a dentist with a “gentle touch”. In the past, I suffered from nocturnal bleedings for four nights due to haphazard extraction by a dentist who just dispatched me after a bloody execution of her profession on me. There was also a time when I almost had a locked jaw due to miscalculated injection of the anesthesia. And another one yet, extracted the wrong tooth which was beside the targeted one! What is sad about those episodes in my life, is that I have trusted the dentists for a long time. I could not help myself then, from feeling abused and exploited.


I had four loose teeth two months ago, but today, they are down to just two, thanks to Dr. Jocelyn Reyes-Atregenio, a dusky dentist with immaculately clean clinic in Imus City, Cavite. Her clinic was the third that I checked before finally, having my name listed as a walk- in patient. I was lucky to be the first in the list. After about ten minutes of waiting, a smiling young woman arrived who I thought was another patient, but she went straight inside the extraction cubicle, and in a few moments, she came out dressed in the white doctor’s garb. I was surprised and almost was reluctant to sit in the dental chair due to my apprehension, as I thought of her as a fresh board passer. Careful not to sound fresh, I asked how long she had been in the profession. When she told me that she has been practicing it for more than five years but spent a longer stint abroad, that calmed me down.


I told her about my apprehensions resulting from bad experiences in the hands of other dentists. To further calm me down, she told me that she will not dispatch me until the hole in my gum is finally sealed with a blood clot. True to her words, after extraction, she patiently applied pressure to the hole where a tooth once was, and until after three changes of cotton balls, she finally showed the fourth without blood stain – with a big grin, as if saying, “see?” That was two months ago, and two days ago, I had another extraction – with the usual relief. My two more loose teeth are reserved in her care.


The problem with some of the professionals along the line of health care today, is their over-confidence due to too much familiarity with patients. This results to their carelessness sometimes, thinking that the patients will not mind. It is therefore, of due importance that we should find the right medical practitioner on whose hands we entrust our health, and eventually…life.