Thursday, December 14, 2017
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At Large

Prayer for the Pacman

We Filipinos know the power of prayer, as shown by the (almost literally) last-minute reprieve granted Mary Jane Veloso, who faced execution by firing squad in Indonesia on drug-possession charges.

This weekend, Pinoys have occasion for collective prayer once more as the “Pambansang Kamao” (National Fist) Manny Pacquiao engages in battle against Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Drawing on the “People and Prayer Power” exemplified by the Edsa Revolt of 1986, the Spirit of Edsa Foundation is enjoining the nation to join hands to pray for the victory of our very own “Pacman.”

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“Let us again make use of ‘People and Prayer Power’ in the Spirit of Edsa by praying together on May 1, 2 and 3 at 12 noon for the intention of our humble God-fearing and God-glorifying hero—Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao against his contender,” the foundation says.

It is urging everyone to pray one “Our Father,” one “Hail Mary” and one “Glory Be,” after which it asks that this prayer be recited: “Heavenly Father and our dear Lord Jesus Christ, we beseech you to please protect your faithful and loving son and servant Manny ‘Pacman’ Pacquiao from bodily harm and for a safe and victorious fight. All for Your glory. Amen.”

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Hemophilia is a blood disorder that, to many, is best known as a disease that afflicted male members of European royalty, specifically the descendants of Queen Victoria of England.

But the reality is that hemophilia, which prevents blood clotting and can lead to uncontrolled bleeding and short life spans for those afflicted, occurs everywhere, and can even “spontaneously” occur in individuals. According to the Philippine Hemophilia Foundation, the incidence rate is one for every 10,000 people. So given our estimated population of 100 million, the foundation estimates that there are around 10,000 Filipinos with the disorder.

However, says Dr. Marilou Abiera, a hematologist with the Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC), the number of registered hemophiliacs is just about 10 percent of the hemophiliac population here. Many of them are children, she says, whose “quality of life” is severely compromised because of late diagnosis and lack of “adequate and timely” treatment.

With “early diagnosis and effective management,” says Dr. Julius Lecciones, director of the PCMC which has focused its programs on the treatment of three childhood diseases: cancer, hemophilia and thalassemia, a blood disorder characterized by abnormal formation of hemoglobin.

Sadly, says Lecciones, hemophilia is not considered a priority by the Department of Health, given other diseases and health problems that affect more Filipinos and are simpler to treat.

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But, says Abiera, hemophilia has a “high public health impact” because it afflicts mostly children who seldom live to adulthood, but who can otherwise live long, productive lives with awareness and proper treatment.

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Present at the “Bulong Pulungan sa Sofitel” forum as “living proof” of the proper management of hemophilia was John Francis Sarmenta, who is taking up his master’s degree despite being diagnosed with the disease when he was still a child. His father Rey spearheads the Haplos Foundation, composed of families and friends of hemophiliacs advocating increased awareness of the disease, early diagnosis and treatment of patients, and greater public support.

One of the ways by which to bring hemophilia to greater public attention is the establishment of a local hemophilia registry, which, says Dr. Flerida Hernandez, should be “reflective of the true status of hemophilia in the country.” Such a registry, she says, should increase awareness of the prevalence of the disease, delineate the needs of patients in the community, identify shortcomings in the healthcare delivery system, and predict future needs and areas of concern.

For instance, say the doctors, families with hemophiliacs can resort to “prophylactic transfusion,” preventing blood loss or adverse consequences (such as disabling injuries caused by bleeding in joints) by transfusions of the needed blood-clotting factor.

John Francis also shared simple precautions that he has taken since childhood: avoiding physical contact sports and accidents (even a simple fall can result in a catastrophic injury), and monitoring his body for signs of internal bleeding like contusions and swelling.

Hemophilia, it turns out, afflicts mainly males, while females are the “carriers” of the disorder. Indeed, the advocates recommend that couples planning to have children undergo genetic counseling if they have reason to suspect that hemophilia runs in their bloodline, even though a special test needs to be conducted for it.

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“Art for a Cause” is Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office GM Joy Rojas II’s unique way to celebrate his birthday while raising funds for a good cause. The beneficiary of the sales generated by the exhibit is the Medical City Liver Center, headed by Dr. Vanessa de Villa for indigent children in need of liver transplants. De Villa and her colleagues have now made it possible for Filipino patients to undergo the procedure here, considerably reducing the costs entailed.

Artists belonging to the Saturday Group, individual painters and guest artist Mandy Navasero (who displays her photographs showcasing the beauty of Batanes), donated choice pieces to “Art for a Cause.” Joining them is Rojas, who, aside from being an avid art patron and collector, will pitch in his own digital art pieces and ethnic art abstractions. The exhibit opens tomorrow and lasts until May 6 at the LRI Art Gallery at 210 Nicanor Garcia St., Bel Air II in Makati. The exhibit then moves to The Medical City Lobby on May 8-22.

"Visit Inquirer Sports' The Pacquiao Files (www.inquirer.net/pacquiao-files) for news, features, and other multimedia content about Manny Pacquiao and his upcoming fights."

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TAGS: Boxing, Floyd Mayweather Jr, hemophilia, Manny Pacquiao, mary jane veloso
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