At Large

Feeding and hair loss

/ 12:14 AM February 07, 2016

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle asks Catholics in the archdiocese, and indeed throughout the country, to turn their fasting and abstinence on Ash Wednesday (which falls on Feb. 10 this year) into concrete acts of charity.

More specifically, Cardinal Tagle proposes that the faithful feed hungry children by donating the money that they would have otherwise spent on meals to Fast2Feed, the Hapag-Asa feeding program of Pondo ng Pinoy of the Archdiocese of Manila. The program provides not only supplemental feeding but also early childhood education and livelihood and skills training for parents.


Some 21,000 malnourished and undernourished children in the Pondo ng Pinoy member-dioceses were provided last year with warm and nutritious meals every day for six months. The goal for this year is to feed 25,000 children.

Ash Wednesday marks the start of the season of Lent, a time when Catholics are enjoined to do good works, fast and pray. And since the Church is also celebrating the Jubilee of Mercy, Cardinal Tagle reminded everyone that Lent should also be an occasion to “heed Pope Francis’ call to practice mercy through concrete acts of charity.”


“It only takes P1,200, or P10 a day to bring back a hungry and malnourished child to a healthy state in six months,” Cardinal Tagle said. “Let us make a difference in their lives by fasting and donating whatever we save to Hapag-Asa. Let us Fast2Feed.”

Donations can be made through Fast2Feed envelopes distributed in parishes. The envelopes may then be offered during the Mass or turned over to the parish office. Donors may also deposit their donations in designated banks.

* * *

Artist Gary Valenciano recalls feeling the first twinges of concern when, after showering, he would find increasing amounts of hair strands on his towel. “I would show them to my wife (talent manager Angeli Pangilinan) and she would make comforting sounds, assuring me that ‘they aren’t that many.’ But I knew she was trying to soften the blow.”

The blow was, of course, the reality of hair loss, which every man faces sometime in his life, but which in Valenciano’s case, he said, is particularly scary because baldness runs in his family. “At least I am still thankful that I can take a bow without showing a bald spot!” he joked at a recent media session introducing the “enhanced formulation” of Novuhair Topical Scalp Lotion.

Now an endorser for Novuhair, Valenciano said he doesn’t endorse a product unless he’s tried it himself and is sure about its effectiveness and safety. And in his testimony “Gary V” assured the public that Novuhair indeed works, that after months of use his hair has thickened, especially in thinning areas.

Hair loss is a prospect most men face—many with dread, some with sad resignation, but others with active fear. Women may fear hair loss even more, if only because it isn’t as common as it is among men, but still a source of embarrassment, if not shame.


* * *

Novuhair, a fully Filipino product formulated and produced in the country but soon to be marketed abroad as well, now features a blend of 19 natural ingredients (up from the previous 12), with a more pleasant fragrance and, according to Novuhair executives, a “cool and minty feel.”

Sheila Mae Velilla, CEO of Nutramedica, developer and distributor of Novuhair, says the topical lotion also has antidandruff properties “as well as nourishing and moisturizing effects on the hair and scalp.”

As well, Novuhair has been deemed 100-percent compliant with the Asean Cosmetic Directive, is FDA-certified, as well as declared “halal” or fit for use by Muslims.

Among the ingredients present in every formulation of Novuhair are moringa oleifera (more commonly known here as malunggay), panax ginseng, virgin coconut oil, and the natural essences of rosemary and peppermint. A dermatologist and naturopath present at the media launch explained that Novuhair works by increasing blood circulation in the scalp, thereby increasing the flow of nutrients to the hair root.

Also introduced at the lunch event was a “3-in-1” pack that includes a bottle of the topical lotion with a bottle of Novuhair shampoo and conditioner. The pack, which retails at P4,980 may be pricey, but, assures a Novuhair marketing executive, is “cost effective” and will last up to three months even with daily use.

* * *

A friend tells of visiting the clinic of a dermatologist with her husband, who was then, like Gary V, worried about his increasing hair loss. To her utter shock, she says, she found the waiting room packed with men of all ages, many of them showing visible signs of anxiety, if not embarrassment, at being in a room full of balding brothers.

“Only then did I realize what an impact baldness has on a man,” she confides. “How much hair loss can affect a man’s self-esteem and confidence.”

I’ve since lost touch with that friend, but writing this piece, I wonder if her husband was ever able to overcome his “hair anxiety” or learned to live with his baldness.

Gary V, for one, testifies that his favorite hair cutter has remarked favorably on his healthier hair and scalp condition these days, and without hesitation, he says, he recommends Novuhair to anyone asking how he was able to step away from the brink of a receding hair line, or else having to resort to “domestic borrowing,” the humorous term coined to refer to some men’s tactic of using comb-overs to conceal a bald spot.

Life is hard enough, and everyone deserves a shot at living it with one’s self-image intact.

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TAGS: Ash Wednesday, children, Gary Valenciano, hunger, Lent, Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, Novuhair
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