Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Dengue or chikungunya?

aedes aegypti, the primary vector for dengue (from internet)
Head pounding, excruciating joint pain, high fever and chills. Both are symptoms of either dengue or chikungunya and both are viral infections transmitted by the Aedes mosquito.

Of the two, dengue can be more treacherous and even fatal. According to a WHO impact report, the incidence of dengue in the last 50 years, has increased 30-fold.  The report stated "An estimated 2.5 billion people live in over 100 endemic countries and areas where dengue viruses can be transmitted. Up to 50 million infections occur annually with 500,000 cases of dengue hemorrhagic fever and 22,000 deaths mainly among children."

my bedside companion  
In the Philippines, the Department of Health reported 44,207 cases with 193 fatalities from January to June this year, a 1% decline compared to 51,597 cases last year. The number of cases though is still considerable compared to elsewhere in Asia where dengue outbreaks were reported.  Wall Street Journal cited 14,363 cases logged in Singapore with 5 fatalities; Today indicated 21,453 cases in Malaysia with 45 fatalities; and, Thomson Reuters Foundation reported more than 136,000 cases in Thailand, the largest concentration were in Bangkok and Chang Mai, with 126 fatalities.

As for me, I really have no idea where I got bitten. The incubation period of dengue takes 4 to 10 days and symptoms develop 3 to 14 days after.  It was Dra. Rosete, our office clinic doctor who warned me to go to the hospital right away if my fever doesn't subside and to have my blood tested for both dengue and chikungunya.
friends cheered me up (photo from Lilo Gutierrez)

So the very next day, on October 19, shivering and feverish, I went to St. Luke's pathology department for a
complete blood count and to test for Dengue NS1. The initial finding for Dengue NS1 Antigen was negative. Seeing that my platelet count was relatively low at 170,000 (the normal count is 150,000  to 400,000) and my fever was 40.9, the doctor recommended that I be confined in the hospital for further observation.

For three days, my fever was hovering between 40.1 to 40.9 and my platelet count was steadily dropping. When the fever broke, rashes appeared and the platelet count started declining rapidly to 99,000... up to 46,400. That's when my attending physician, Dr. Popeye, confirmed it was dengue. I was on standby for blood transfusion in case my platelet count dropped to 10,000.

this made my day
Dr. Popeye said that there is no specific medication for dengue. He advised to just sit it out by taking lots of fluids and resting. I was on round the clock intravenous fluid and twice a day blood tests. I took the 'lots of fluids' to heart and drank lots of fresh coconut water and tawa tawa tea, a herbal medicinal herb that is growing in popularity for its reputed anti-viral properties and aids in hydration.

Warning to all, the Aedes mosquitoes are out there and prevalent throughout the day when the sun is out. This is contrary to hearsay, that they are out during twilight hours - this is, dawn or dusk. Believe me, dengue is truly debilitating. I was confined in the hospital for a week and it took me more than two weeks to recover.

Here are three tips to avoid dengue -  (1) Use insect repellent regularly  I actually prefer using citronella, a natural insect repellent than those containing DEET and other chemicals.  If I venture to unusual places, I put the insect repellant stickers on my clothing for added protection; (2) Get rid of all water-holding containers in your home, patio, garage and garden including your pet's water bowl. That's where the mosquitoes lay their eggs; and (3) Strengthen your immune system by eating well, logging 7 to 8 hours of sleep, exercising and drinking lots of water. According to the doctor, my immune system must have been compromised and thus, vulnerable to dengue.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

7.2 magnitude earthquake in Bohol, call for help

Gai's post on October 15
The first time I heard of the news that fateful day was when I saw Gai's post at 8:40 am  of a 'very strong' earthquake in Cebu and noted a very slight one in Siargao where she's currently based.

She wrote "My boyfriend called me ... narrating what was happening as they were occurring - the lamps, mirrors were rattling, the water in the glass was jumping, things were falling off shelves."

An hour later, I watched on TV, Philippine Institute of Volcanology (Philvocs) director Renato Solidum explaining that the earthquake was tectonic in origin and occurred about 8:12 am. The magnitude was 7.2 on the Richter scale with Bohol as the epicenter, and the depth was 33 kilometers. Intensity 7 was felt in Tagbilaran City, Bohol and Cebu City while Intensity 6 in Hinigaran, Negros Occidental and Dumaguete. He added to expect aftershocks. As of yesterday,  823 aftershocks were recorded.

Intensity VII  (source: Philvocs intensity scale
Intensity, according to Philvocs, is a measure of how an earthquake was felt in a certain locality or area. An intensity 7 is destructive (left image) where most people are frightened and run outdoors, heavy objects and furniture topple, old or poorly built structures suffer considerable damage.. and landslides are observed. Note that magnitude is a measure of the motions recorded by a seismograph.

The last 7.9 magnitude earthquake happened 21 years ago on July 16, 1990 with the epicenter in Nueva Ecija.

The latest update from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) indicated that the death toll has reached 156 (144 in Bohol), 374 injuries and 22 missing. Out of the total 631,809 families affected, 9,359 families were displaced. A total of 2,066 houses were damaged in both provinces; 20 bridges and four roads are still not passable in Bohol.  75% of the power supply in Bohol has been restored. In terms of cost, a total of P75 million worth of damaged roads, bridges and flood control was reported in Cebu (P17.6 million) and Bohol (P57.5 million).

Bohol's historic 1795 Loay  church  
source @tonycruz
At least nine centuries-old churches were damaged. The Heritage Conservation Society said in a statement that the earthquake "destroyed significant heritage landmarks in Bohol and Cebu, causing total destruction or significant damage to the churches in Baclayon, Dauis, Dimiao, Loay, Loboc, Loon and Maribojoc in Bohiol, all National Cultural Treasures or National Historic Landmarks; and the Sto NiƱo Basilica and Cebu Cathedral among others in both provinces".

Emma, a friend who owns a resort in Bohol, sent out a plea on Facebook yesterday before the arrival of  President PNoy and Vice President Binay. She wrote: "We are all safe and sound in Panglao Island after experiencing non-stop aftershocks all over Bohol. We are very sorry for the rest of Bohol and hope the media will deliver the message to concentrate not on the heritage structures but to the people who are victims of the quake. There are more damages in the hospitals and evacuation areas esp inlands and highlands. Please visit the rest of Bohol including northern part as we have not heard of what's going on that side. Bohol needs assistance esp Carmen, Loboc, Baclayon, Maribojoc, Loon, Catigbian and other inland/highland areas. I am sorry to hear that some people are more concerned about the arrival of Pnoy and Binay. We are very pleased but please 'wake-up'!!!"

Right now, she is organizing a medical mission and relief drive for the hard hit towns of Loon and Maribojoc. She is accepting help and donations either in cash or medicine and to drop off  items in her home at 66 Ecology Village Gate 5 in Makati (next to Alphaland) or to text Denise at +917 820-2081.  Courrier companies JRS and LBC are delivering said items to Bohol. She plans to bring food, medicine and relief goods to these towns this weekend.

For medicine and supplies, she needs: Mefenamic acid 250 and 500mg. Salbutamol nebules, paracetamol bioflu, captopril, ORS oral rehydration salt, ibuprofen, loperamide, buscopan, kremil s, betadine, band aids, hotpacks, gauze pads, plasters,rolling bandages, pnss for flushing, cold and hot packs, alcohol, examination gloves, masks, triangular bandages, cotton, serc, antihistamine, syringe, dextrose and needles, etc.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Pinky Amador performs Piaf classics at Sonya's Garden

Oh la la is all I can say about last Saturday night at Sonya's Garden where everything was transformed into Paris for the dinner concert of  BFF Pinky Amador aptly billed as "La Vie en Rose".

Clang Garcia who organized the event said she got inspired  after watching Pinky play the role of the legendary Edith Piaf onstage. She said that  "It was my first time to see Pinky perform during Piaf and I thought it will be nice to bring the romance of French songs to Sonya's Garden."

It was truly La Vie en Rose that night. The venue was bursting with the scent of flowers. And of course, the star of the evening - Pinky - was in her best form. She belted out all my favorite Piaf classics such as Padam, Padam (The sound of his, her Heartbeats), Mon Dieu (My God) Mon Manege a Moi, (You're my Carousel), C'est a Hambourg (It's Hamburg), La Belle Histoire d'Amour and dueted  A quoi ca sert l'amour (What is Love) with Sandino Martin.

Pinky and Sandino sing A quoi ca sert l'amour
I must admit that when I met Sandino that morning, I thought he was too young to be the balladeer paired with Pinky for the concert. Well I had to eat crow that day because when I heard him rehearsing Autumn Leaves with a very deep voice, I had to ask who it was. He played the role of Theo Sarapo, the last husband of Piaf and thus, perfect for their duet.

After the concert, I actually encouraged him to do more singing stints. He said that currently [at 23 years old] he would like to focus more on acting and to finish his thesis for his Theater Arts degree in UP.
Kat and Clang in their French attire

Cocktails were served at 6pm and dinner which featured Sonya's signature dishes immediately followed at 7pm.

The first course was salad with freshly picked mixed greens from her greenhouse served with assorted add-ins such as nuts, egg whites, fresh fruits, vegetables and fresh fruits. The second course was pasta with different topping choices of fresh sun-dried tomatoes, ratatouille, mushroom, black olives and capers The third course was salmon belly and rosemary roast chicken. The last course was dessert of chocolate cake, banana and langka (jack fruit) turon and sweet camote.

Sonya supports local organic products 
The wine du jour was Vino de Coco, a coconut nectar wine brewed in Tacloban.  The wine uses the fresh sap from the flower of the coconut tree. According to Clang, "It is very rich in minerals and nutrients; even if you finish a bottle, you will not have a hang over the following day." We didn't finish bottle but we didn't experience any hangover the next day.

It was good that we stayed overnight. The next day I picked some fresh greens from the garden - lettuce, arugula, coriander and basil - and threw everything in the blender together with saba, mango, cucumber and ginger and made a green blend juice for breakfast. Then, we  pampered ourselves in the spa with Sonya's signature massage (a combination of tuina, shiatsu and swedish), facial massage using rice and hair spa using fresh aloe vera from the garden.

If you're free this Saturday, October 12. If you're free, do wear your berets and head out to Tagaytay and catch the final show!  For info, call (0917) 533-5140.
Clang Garcia with Sandino

Sonya's signature salad

spacious rooms at Sonya's Bed and Breakfast

full support from Pinky's classmates
with the mom and sisters of Sandino
The grand dame of  Sonay'a Garden signing her book 

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Metro Manila film finally screening in Manila

Metro Manila poster in Paris
Ever since I saw the posters of the film Metro Manila strewn all over Paris last July, I've been badgering Jake Macapagal to let me know when the film will be released in Manila.

After three months,  the film is finally here and I got the chance to watch it at the prescreening last Thursday, October 3 at SM Aura. :-)

The film is not your typical dark indie film depicting vulnerable, impoverished urban poor and leave you depressed after. It's actually a heart-wrenching thriller about a farmer Oscar Ramirez (played by Jake) who moves to Manila with his family and children to try their luck and ends up getting blackmailed into doing a heist.

At the special screening (from left) Jake Macapagal,
Sean Ellis, John Arcilla
British Sean Ellis must be some wunderkind when he was young for he directed, co-wrote (together with Frank Flowers), co-produced (together with Celine Lopez) and was the sole cinematographer of the film. He said that the idea for the story came about in 2007.  He witnessed two armored truck drivers arguing in the streets in Manila with guns wearing kevlar helmet and one of the guys kicking the truck in frustration.

The film's cast include stage veterans John Arcilla as Ong (the senior officer), Ana Abad-Santos as Ong's wife, Ruben Uy  (co-employee) and indie film actress Althea Vega as Mai Ramirez.
proud of Jake with (from left) Bettina, Vanessa and Jason

The film first premiered on January 20, 2013 at the Sundance Film Festival where it won the Audience Award: World Cinema Dramatic.  Yesterday, the film won the Critics Award at the Hamburg International Film Festival. The film is also the United Kingdom's official  entry for best foreign language film for the  86th Academy Awards.

Incidentally, there are two other Filipino-themed films nominated in the Oscars - Transit  (Philippines) and Ilo Ilo (Singapore).  There are 80 nominees which will then be shortlisted to nine and then the final five will be announced on January 16, 2014. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this film (and of course Transit) makes it to the final five. The Oscars is set on March 2, 2014.