Saturday, May 22, 2010


(as published in ZEN Health Magazine November-December 2009 issue)

Beating cancer is one tedious task. People who suffer from it often turn to chemotherapy sessions, countless trips to the hospital, and taking tablets and tablets of medicines for cure; all costing more than an arm and a leg.

Despite the medical and technological advancements that abound today, nothing tops cancer prevention than the aid of the miraculous healing prowess of Mother Nature and her bountiful produce.

1 Cabbage

A cousin of broccoli in the Cruciferae family, cabbage tops the bill because of its ability to lower the risk of lung and prostate cancers when eaten regularly.

Cruciferous vegetables have hefty intensities of phytochemicals called glucosinolates, which contain cancer-fighting attributes.

A study of over a thousand men in the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington, has shown that those who consumed three or more servings of cruciferous vegetables every week had 41 percent lower risk of prostate cancer compared to those who ate less than one serving.

Also, apart from the risk-lowering attributes of cabbage and its kins, it also optimizes the cells’ ability to detoxify. So, what are you waiting for? Stop snubbing that coleslaw and dig in!

2 Green tea

Beyond its antiaging and slimming properties, green tea is also known for its ability to reduce the risk of breast cancer. When cells multiply uncontrollably, green tea aids in the prevention of the cells’ abnormal and rapid increase.

3 Onion

What’s a kitchen without the lingering smell of freshly browned onions? Or its rather pungent aroma reeking in your hands just after you’ve whipped up a mouth-watering dish?

Little do we know that this veggie that makes our eyes water is the same bulb rich in kaempferol, a flavonoid that helps protect women against ovarian cancer. In the 66,940-participant Nurses’ Health Study, women who had higher intake of kaempferol-rich foods, onion included, had a 40 percent reduced risk of ovarian cancer.

Here’s a tip: Stop your fingers from picking those onion rings in your green salad since onion contains bioflavanoids that regress a developing cancer cell back to its healthy form, explains Dr. Patrick Quillin, PhD, RD, CNS, in his book Beating Cancer with Nutrition.

4 Whole grains

The whole grain clique of rice, oats, buckwheat, corn, rye, barley, and amaranth are among women’s top body armor against breast cancer. Also, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicates that whole grains are found to lower the risk of colorectal cancer.

5 Garlic

Ah, onion’s equally pungent cousin!

Studies have shown that allicin, a substance found in garlic, has the capacity to prevent the development of cancer cells and also protects the colon from carcinogenic chemicals (substances that can cause cancer, that is).

A study published in Archives of Dermatological Research in July 2003 revealed that ajoene, an organosulfur compound found in garlic, can be used to treat skin cancer.

So next time you’re cooking meat at high temperature, such as grilling, as much as possible, cook it with garlic to reduce the formation of carcinogenic chemicals.

6 Colorful berries

Raspberry, strawberry, cherry, blueberry, and blackberry are the most common berries that abound with ellagic acid, a potent anticancer agent that induces self-destruction to pesky cancer cells.

Stock up on fresh berry juices, or include them in your cereal. Or better yet, eat them raw in lieu of your typical afternoon snack.

7 Tomato

Often synonymous to the word lycopene, tomato is one of the most commercially identified anticancer agents. In addition, tomatoes are filled to the brim with nutrients such as vitamins A and C, with carotenoids and beta-carotene on the side. Increased consumption of tomatoes reduces the risk of colon cancer, atherosclerosis, and complications brought by diabetes.

In fact, as published in the Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, 21 studies have verified that munching on tomatoes, with emphasis on the cooked ones, gives ample protection against prostate cancer.

8 Yogurt

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition points that spoonful after spoonful of yogurt, as well as other dairy products, may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

With the advent of Fro-Yos (frozen yogurt), yogurts are no longer irked at and referred to as a mere dieter’s food. Yummier, creamier, and a lot more exciting to eat, this healthy snack fortifies the body’s shield against cancer.

9 Tuna

Ideally eaten fresh, tuna now comes in flakes in water or in brine; in adobo, mechado, and lechon paksiw flavors; and now, it is even cured or pickled in salt, similar to corned beef. You can even choose if you want it spicy or plain!

Apparently tuna, one of the most versatile bounties of the sea and among the category of cold-water fishes, is well-known for its eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, which boost and stimulate the immune functions and slow cancer spread, says Dr. Quillin.

And did you know that tuna has the ability to protect you from sunburn and, in the long run, skin cancer? Yes, you read it right!

Based on Dr. Lesley Rhodes’s research at the Photobiology Unit of the University of Manchester, eating omega 3-rich fish, such as tuna, could actually pacify the burning sensation or the inflammation caused by ultraviolet B radiation, which in turn helps in preventing severe sunburn and skin cancer.

Omega 3-rich fishes also aid in preventing the dreaded breast cancer among women, according to a study published in the International Journal of Cancer in 2005.

10 Legumes

Researchers have discovered that the darker the color of the bean’s seed coat, the more potent its antioxidant components.

Among this category are garbanzos, which are commonly found in the local halo-halo, kidney beans, and pinto beans. These are rich in “cancer-fighting protease inhibitors” and these “have the cleansing activity of soluble fibers,” explains Dr. Quillin. These protein inhibitors prevent cancer cells from easily attacking the neighboring healthy tissues.


(as published in ZEN Health Magazine November-December 2009)

Ana Carmela G. Ledesma cornered the busy comedian, John ‘Sweet’ Lapus, amid the hustle and bustle of nighttime Makati. Take a bite of this delectable midnight snack as Sweet talks about his life; reveals his childhood dream of working for Jollibee; and shares about finding happiness at the most ironic moment—during the wake of Direk Wenn Deramas’s mother.

It is 11 in the evening and I finally see him. He still looks fresh and camera-ready, as John ‘Sweet’ Lapus, who came up with the contagious ‘Dizzizzit’ catch-phrase and who occasionally imitates Sheryl Cruz, stands near the hotel entrance, taking a whiff of the Makati air.

He turns to his side and sees me approaching. “Chuchie?” he asks, as if I am her long lost kababata. I acknowledge.

Then the chit-chat starts.

“Nagpunta ako sa lamay last night. How ironic sa lamay ng mother ni Direk Wenn Deramas ako nakaramdam ng happiness. Nakita ko kasi yung mga old friends from ABS-CBN.”

Cutting off, he asks me to join him in his suite, where he is staying for the night for a show the morning after, to continue the interrupted talk.

In his room, he preps his chameleon face for a post-interview photo shoot while the question and answer carries on.

What is your definition of laughter? I ask. “For me laughter is the sound of happiness,” he answers in the middle of foundation and concealer applications. “For me all people laugh because they are happy. It’s as simple as that. And at that very moment they laughed, I believe that they were very happy. Nowadays we really need laughter because of what’s happening in our country, in our economy, and in the entire world for that matter. We all deserve to laugh at least once in a while.”

This part of the conversation, commencing a few days after Ondoy’s onslaught, is filled with emotions and sympathy to the afflicted. With this, Sweet refers to laughter, coupled with profound and heartfelt prayer, as the “perfect weapon of our community which is now suffering so much. Prayer and laughter are free and very accessible. I recommend that. Isip tayo ng ganung slogan tapos pagawa tayo ng maraming sticker.”

He stifles a snicker.

“Hindi naman ako ganun kayaman para mag donate ng ganun kalaking halaga, maliban sa pag-vo-volunteer nagdadasal ako ng bonggang-bongga,” he says. “I take refuge in knowing that there is a God and that He is powerful. He will provide and He will save us. Sabi nga ni Santino, may bukas pa. Magdasal ka lang and everything will be ok.”

The show must go on

Seeing Sweet prepped for the shoot, a comparison surfaces. His life as a comedian, actor, and television host is as intricate and as thorough as the way he applies his MAC eyeshadow. “Kailangan bongga ang itsura ko sa picture, kailangan fresh na fresh!” he says. I thought, could it be because he doesn’t want the world to see that he, too, is tired? That he, too, is in pain?

“To be honest, I’m sure most comedians would agree, kaming mga komedyante, kami yung may angst at malulungkot ang buhay. Kapag nasa stage na pag nasa TV na ang galing nilang magpatawa pero deep inside malungkot talaga. The show must go on.”

Living the Sweet life

Despite the downsides, prayer and a hefty sense of humor have catapulted Sweet to that bull’s eye of fame which only few comedians have hit. That same bull’s eye, perhaps, is bound to give him his very own house and lot.

“Wala kasi akong sariling bahay at lupa kaya tanggap ako ng tanggap ng labada,” he quips. “I have Showbiz Central every Sunday. The following weeks I’ll be taping my new show in GMA 7 with Richard Gutierrez and Heart Evangelista. I also have a sitcom with Manny Pacquiao called Show Me Da Manny.”

In between, he was able to do a movie with Senator Bong Revilla called Panday, which is intended for the Metro Manila Film Festival. He will also be doing a Shake, Rattle and Roll movie and Nieves with Marian Rivera.

“Madami akong raket ngayon. Tapings, shootings, live shows, pictorials, ribbon-cutting, baptismal, confirmation, minsan nga eh tatanggap na rin ako ng babang luksa, tulian session, tumatanggap na rin ako ng ganyan ngayon.”

“Wow” escapes from my mouth, the sole word that I can pronounce after his litany of projects. “Pero lahat naman support lang,” he is quick to add. “Like yung sa Panday, isa akong baklang manananggal, the first ever baklang manananggal in Philippine movie history. Sa Shake, Rattle and Roll I’ll be the designer who gets killed by a mysterious wedding gown. And ’yung sa Nieves naman I’ll be a gay mermaid. O di ba? Baklang sirena naman ako! Bongga!”

He giggles.

When translated to the English language, the word bakla or bading means gay. He seconds it by saying that homosexuals live up to their moniker, that they are really happy, and that it’s rare to see one so sullen. In fact, he adds that gays are easily spotted because of their wacky and bubbly nature.

Laughter, still the best FREE medicine

Hearing his subtle giggle, I quickly ask, what can you say about those people who take life seriously? He takes a deep breath and shifts his seat to face me. “Ay nakoh! Ma-stress sila at baka atakihin sila sa puso. So if you take like seriously mamamatay ka sa stress because life is serious itself. From global warming to recession, to sickness and death. Wake up! Live life to the fullest! Parang ang pangit naman kung namatay ka ng malungkot or namatay ka ng seryoso at least namatay ka naman na may ngiti sa iyong mga labi.”

I am almost done with my incessant queries and he, too, is doing the finishing touches on his face when I asked a follow-up question. How can laughter contribute to one’s wellness? Is it that effective?

“Ah, very effective!” he says with utmost conviction. “I have seen people who have great bodies but when you look at their faces they look sad, they look depressed because they don’t laugh; they don’t appreciate the good things in life.”

True in every sense of the word, Sweet’s statement somehow fits snuggly in nooks and crannies of the aesthetically enhanced world today. “Ang iniisip lang nila yung mga bagay na pangit, mga bagay na malungkot, mga bagay na nangyari sa kanila thus making them more and more depressed. So to counter that depression ang ginagawa nila nag-e-exercise sila, oo nga gumaganda yung katawan nila pero yung well-being, yung utak mo. You hit the gym para gumanada katawan mo pero yung mindset mo naman hindi maganda and I’ve seen people, friends even, na ang ganda ng katawan pero malungkot.”

Bee happy

Destined for great belly-aching laughter, the word happiness clings to Sweet the way a Siamese twin would. His answer to my question, “what would your profession be had you not become a celebrity” is a sharp one.

In a snap, he kids he probably would have been one of Jollibee’s prized mascots.

“Malamang ’pag nalaos ako mag apply ako sa Jollibee kahit mascot lang basta ma-fulfill ko lang yung dream ko na maging part ng Jollibee. Dun ako sa loob ng Jollibee na sumasayaw-sayaw, magaling ata akong sumayaw!”

A piece of peace

“When you laugh there’s this sense of joy and sense of lightness, and a piece of peace. After my death, I’d want to them to remember that to the very day I died I entertained people. Bongga yun,” he concludes—and smiles.


(as published in ZEN Health November-December 2009)

The beauty and makeup world shows no signs of being passé. With the latest innovations in machinery and technology, it has not failed to keep up with the times when it comes to face, and now body enhancements through the use of an airbrush.

The 1925 silent film Ben-Hur was the first to hire the services of airbrush. The movie’s makeup team needed to apply fake tans on thousands of extras, who were playing the role of buffed and tanned Romans. Result? The airbrushed cast looked naturally sun-kissed.

Airbrush what?

Usually intended for designing and primping shirts and automobiles, airbrush was said to have been originally designed and patented by Francis Edgar Stanley in late 1870s and was further improved by Abner Peeler.

Unlike the typical makeup technique where the artist uses a brush or a sponge to apply the makeup, this novel way uses a system consisting of a small compressor, sprayer or gun, hose, and small bottles and vials of liquid makeup.

Airbrush makeup is sprayed on the skin in the form of a very fine mist creating a sheer, flawless, natural, and effortless result. Also, it clings to the skin very well; it appears as a second skin, allowing it to breathe since it’s water-based; it can survive both moist and dry conditions; it stays on the skin for 24 hours without fading; and it’s beso-proof, making it perfect for bridal makeup.


These edges against the customary makeup amount to nothing

without electricity—a deterrent factor for artists.

“In a hotel, I experienced the lack of electricity where it’s not enough for my airbrush to function well,” shares Abbygale Arenas-De Leon, Managing Director of Personi-fi Image Studio, Inc. “If there’s no electricity, then I won’t be able to operate my airbrush. I’m dead.”

(Ms. Abbygale Arenas-de Leon in action)

Pinoy touch

In the Philippines, a number of makeup artists dared to trudge on the tricky path of airbrush makeup, among them is Arenas-de Leon, 1992 Supermodel of the World and 1997 Bb. Pilipinas-Universe.

“I went to the States to study airbrush makeup and I brought the entire set when I came back,” she shares.

Despite her lessons on the technical side and the nitty-gritty of airbrush makeup, this title-holder admits that it took her a lot of practice before she mastered the fine art of airbrush makeup application.

“Practice every day is the key,” she says. “I did a lot of free makeup for shoots where I tried my own technique. I did a lot of shoots for Jun [de Leon, my husband] and I also did avant-garde photos to test the capacity of the airbrush.”

Makeup miracles

Makeup isn’t just a vanity emblem.

A dab of lip gloss and a swipe of blush on the cheeks create a spark of magic in a person’s features. It amps the confidence and eventually improves the overall aura of the person. Such is what happened to one of Arenas-de Leon’s clients.

“All her life she hid her face in bangs because of a birth mark on the entire half of her face,” she shares. “So I did her makeup using airbrush and the result was heartwarming. She said ‘I’m going to show my face for the first time’.”

Available soon

To date, there is no airbrush system available in the Philippines yet. But driven by her passion to make all the Filipinas pretty and confident, Arenas-de Leon is working on manufacturing it locally and making it more affordable than its imported counterpart.

“If you buy airbrush makeup [system] you get free training,” she says. “You may have the machine but if you don’t have the training, it’s useless. Hopefully by next year I’ll be distributing the airbrush system.”


(as published in ZEN Health August-October 2009 issue)

The nails have become the canvas of the inner being, and painting it with lotsa colors can uplift or downsize one’s mood and feeling. Suddenly sad? Paint ‘em yellow! Want a splash of confidence? Paint ‘em purple!


A sunny and jolly color, yellow symbolizes optimism and energy. Wear one when you feel down-in-the-dumps and be prepared to be enlightened in a jiffy.


This color encourages trust, dependability, and most especially the feeling of royalty. Paint some popping purple and exude confidence as you feel the trust and commitment from your colleagues and friends.


Blue is often the favorite among all the colors that you can imagine. It invokes the calm and the soothing waves of tranquility. Stressed? Splash some royal blue or periwinkle on your digits and feel great calm.


Verdant hues are close friends with azures as it soothes and calms even the most tensed of nerves. Wear this shade when you want to feel cleaner and closer to Mother Nature.


So you lost your appetite today? Or perhaps you’re feeling kinda fierce lately but you don’t exactly know how to release that fierceness? Paint ‘em red! This color can stimulate your energy to exude that fiery ‘tude you got today and also give your appetite a boost.


Red’s best friend, orange radiates affection and exudes a cozy and comfy vibe. Orange also encourages social interactions and attracts friendly vibes.


Like green, brown is often associated with the earth and all things natural. If your life is on the chaotic side right now, dab on some earthy browns and feel that sense of stability and order.


The eternal symbol of purity, this crisp color is also deeply associated with the decluttering of the mind and the cleansing of the spirit.


Gray plays on the safe side and connotes practicality and firmness. Wear one when you don’t want your nails to stand out but be careful though as this is also closely associated with depression and uncertainty.


The color black is often associated with grief and bad luck, but truth be told, despite its negative connotations, black makes the wearer feel in-control, confident, and powerful. Some people deem black as sexy.