Thursday, February 24, 2011

Imagine going to a drug store to buy condoms and the pharmacist asks you to present a written doctor's prescription for making love with your wife. Sounds like a joke, but in the surprisingly overly conservative city of Alabang, it is a reality. An absurd and sort of unnecessary order (which could be prevented with an open mind and further education) that renders RH supporters like me baffled.

First off, where in the world do you find a self-respecting physician to prescribe you condoms? And further more, do they want an S2 License Number with that unbelievable amount of one-tracked mindedness?


MANILA, Philippines – Barangay Ayala Alabang in Muntinlupa City is now requiring people who buy condoms to present a doctor’s prescription.

In a barangay ordinance last January 3, village officials said condoms and other contraceptives cause abortions.

The ordinance also bars teachers, reproductive health advocates, and social workers from holding sex education activities in the barangay without prior consultation with parents of students.

Local officials also banned advertisement of all forms of contraceptives in the village.

They said “contraceptive pills, hormonal contraceptives, and the IUD may kill children and injure the health of women who use them.”

Village officials also believe that contraceptives “undermine the solidarity of families by promoting premarital sex, giving rise to more fatherless children, more single mothers, more poverty, and more abortions.”

The resolution also claims that condoms are “unconstitutional” because “they promote and sanction immoral sexual congresses among the unmarried and especially among the young, thereby contradicting the Constitutional injunction that the State ‘shall promote and protect … the physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual and social well-being of the youth.”

Aside from asking people to present a prescription before they are allowed to buy condoms in Ayala Alabang, pharmacists are required by the ordinance to record the following data in a book for “abortives and anti-conceptionals":

- Number and date of the prescription; 
- Name and address of the physician; 
- Name, quantity and manufacturer of the drug; 
- Name and address of the purchaser; 
- Date of filling the prescription; and 
- Signature of the pharmacist filling the prescription. 

Those who will violate the ordinance can be fined up to P500 or jailed for up to 4 months.

Village officials said foreigners who will violate the measure should also be deported.

Muntinlupa City officials have yet to comment on the ordinance.

I have already shared my opinions about my utmost support for the passing of the RH bill and my current exasperation about the views of the Catholic Church with regards to the use of contraceptives. I am especially concerned about how they are spreading half-truths and even whole lies under the cloak of holiness and virtuousness but that's another story. 

But here is the truth for all you people still in limbo about taking the heavenly/holy/fantasy route or the seemingly evil yet realistic drive. In a nutshell:
  • Condoms prevent unintended pregnancy.
  • Condoms are the only protection against Sexually Transmitted Infections including HIV/AIDS.
  • Condoms virtually has no side-effects (unless one is extremely allergic to rubber) as it is not ingested nor put inside the body. Okay, I take the last part back.
Hilarity aside, for those who are willing to take the responsible, anti-disease, anti-untimely pregnancy, pro-family planning route, just go to your nearest health center, or any Mini Stop or 7/11 branch, they have a variety of choices near the counter. Stir and enjoy.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

I've mentioned before that I'm a sucker for these Dash games and was looking for quite a challenge. Well, I think PlayFirst heard such request and cooked up a sumptuous serving of action-packed culinary adventure worthy of staring at the computer screen for hours on end and suffering a splitting headache afterward. Seriously, I think my eyesight noticeably worsened after finishing the 6 restaurants in Casual mode. And there's still Expert mode to cook and conquer.

Cooking Dash 3: Thrills and Spills is a lovely concoction of diverse recipes, interesting customer personalities and insane rushing around the place to meet the sought-after goal. This time, mini-games were added to the gameplay where the dish prizes that you get from playing will be usefully waiting for you in the next round. I loved how they incorporated these individual miniature tasks to the over-all experience of getting through all the levels the game has to offer.

I also noticed that there was a change in the long-time standard of having to clean up the plates and drop them off to the bin two at a time. Now, a power-up is available so that Flo just "throws" the dirty dishes aside rather than having to walk all across the screen and back giving us players more time to concentrate more on the complicated dishes being demanded mostly by impatient customers.

I loved how in every level, a different kind of menu is presented for the players to learn and get used to. Cooking Dash 2: DinerTown Studios failed in that aspect which cooking specific dishes were just the same in every level, just with a different background.

All in all, the third installment of the widely popular game franchise is a definite success, as it keeps all the main addictive ingredients from the previous releases while adding a dash of fresh twist to every coke with ice served. I'll give it 5/5 stars.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

It's the time of the year once again where thousands of hopefuls in the country gather around computers screens, Googling in unision with bated breaths and pounding hearts. Hyperventilate no more, here is the result of the Nursing Licensure Exam held on December 19 & 20, 2010, released by the Philippine Regulatory Commission (PRC) this 19th of February 2011.

NLE Results December 2010                                                                     

CONGRATULATIONS to all newly passed RNs! :)

Welcome to the world of perpetual volunteerism! No, seriously, I salute each and everyone who had the nerve to face all the 500 questions without turning into a blubbering panicky mess. Now, the real challenge is about to be faced. The board exam is just for theory, now the practical exam, that is living as a nurse for the rest of your professional life, is about to begin. Good luck!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

There is clearly something erroneous about a country where ignorant teenagers put their lives in their own hands, a woman almost dies after being shunned by 5 hospitals and a pregnant mother of 4 children passed away because her doctors waited too long debating on whether to save the mother or the developing fetus inside of her.

In a place ruled by utmost faith in old men in robes, there is definitely an unclear line between religion and the state, an unfortunate circumstance which can result to the deterioration of the society in, forgive the pun, biblical proportions.

We live in an environment where when people here the word "Abortion" eyes widen, mouths gasp and terms like baby-killer, slut and evil ring in each others' thoughts. Before any one of us repeat the dire misconception, I urge everyone to give their attention and open minds to this 20 minute eye-opener.

Seldom am I touched by local docu-dramas aired on our nation's television channels, but surprisingly enough, it took something that was just uploaded on YouTube to tug at my heartstrings and opinionated views. Enter "Agaw-Buhay", a documentary created by the NGO, Likhaan, which I heard is a strong supporter of the RH Bill.

AGAW-BUHAY (A Documentary)
By: Likhaan Center for Women's Health

The real-life situations featured in the documentary are not only moving but are painfully real. The difference between the treatment of patients with money and those without are disgracefully pronounced here in our country, a thing that I witnessed first hand as a nurse who have rotated to numerous hospitals and health centers when I was in college. Add to the lack of financial support the stigma of being it known that a person had or attempted an abortion, as hard as it is to say this, I was not surprised to hear stories of mistreatment and verbal disrespect to a patient in that circumstance.
"The only problem is that in the Philippines we take the most literal the most conservative, the most restrictive interpretation."
"So long as it is considered illegal, so long as it is considered immoral by the Church, nobody's going to speak about it."
The church has made sure that all the laws and protocols of the government remain as such despite the fact that they were formulated hundreds of years ago during the Spanish reign just as the system and scriptures of the Church remain as they are now even though they were written thousands of years in the past. There is nothing wrong with tradition but there is also nothing wrong with change, and acceptance of that change and the adaptation of age-old teachings about morality with modern realities of living.

I am not Pro-Abortion nor actually think that the legalization of the act here in our country is good for the state and its people, but I believe that there should be a revision of rules about certain instances where abortion will be deemed acceptable, especially if it is to save the mother's life. Hopefully, a clear provision will free health care workers from ethical dilemmas and fear of possible legal battles regarding such matters as what happened in the third story of the documentary where a full life (one with dependents looking up to her) was lost in an attempt to save a mere developing one.
"Sa lahat na gusto na sana bumaba ang abortion, mawala ang abortion, seryosohin naten ang contraception."
To avoid all of these, for the future's sake, please do not shun contraceptives and everything that is connected with it just because somebody else told you that it is the express highway to hell. I will not impose my beliefs in yours but before going either way, I beg you to first think, research and contemplate. There is nothing more powerful than informed decision making (which is exactly what the Reproductive Health Bill is empowering, by the way).

As for my personal insights, I unquestionably want to GIVE THE RH BILL A FIGHTING CHANCE. I cannot understand what is so scary and immoral about a bill that aims to take care of the health of its populace, especially women and children of low socioeconomic status.

I just hope the Catholic Church also cares and thinks about its followers' physical health and is not just  concerned with their spiritual well-being. Just my two cents.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Go Figure.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

We all have our own opinions regarding the RH Bill. However, let's face it, probably less than 3 out of 10 people who have been vehemently expressing their personal opinions haven't read the actual script where that impression should actually be based on.

Countless of heated debates in and off the Internet has been fueled by misinformation and false beliefs. So before one disseminates bogus information or start believing in church concocted flyers, whether you think the RH Bill is the devil's advocate here on earth or an essential part of the constitution, I greatly advise each and everyone to read the actual complete text explaining what is the bill and what it aims to do.

SEC. 1. Title

This Act shall be known as the "The Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development Act of 2011."

SEC. 2. Declaration of Policy

The State recognizes and guarantees the exercise of the universal basic human right to reproductive health by all persons, particularly of parents, couples and women, consistent with their religious convictions, cultural beliefs and the demands of responsible parenthood. Toward this end, there shall be no discrimination against any person on grounds such as sex, age, religion, sexual orientation, disabilities, political affiliation and ethnicity.

Moreover, the State recognizes and guarantees the promotion of gender equality, equity and women’s empowerment as a health and human rights concern. The advancement and protection of women’s human rights shall be central to the efforts of the State to address reproductive health care. As a distinct but inseparable measure to the guarantee of women’s human rights, the State recognizes and guarantees the promotion of the welfare and rights of children.

The State likewise guarantees universal access to medically-safe, legal, affordable, effective and quality reproductive health care services, methods, devices, supplies and relevant information and education thereon even as it prioritizes the needs of women and children, among other underprivileged sectors.

The State shall eradicate discriminatory practices, laws and policies that infringe on a person’s exercise of reproductive health rights.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

 A laptop and an hour of free time every lunch break. Turns out, those things are all I needed to finish the game's 50 levels in just less than two weeks.

One of the latest incarnations of the DASH family (Diner Dash, Cooking Dash and Wedding Dash all ring a bell?), Hotel Dash: Suite Success is set in the hospitable world of hotel management. Apparently, running a restaurant and even cooking the meals weren't enough for Flo who wanted to put her Bachelor of Science in HRM to good use.

The gameplay isn't as addictive as its Dash cousins but it fortunately can stand on its own, although I must admit that it gets repetitive after a while. The task is simple: put hotel guests in their color coded rooms, deliver items like food, towels or extra pillows then successfully check them out just in time for the arrival of new guests. Oh, and we cannot forget to clean up the messy spills all those clowns can make while running around the place.

Though creative and amusing enough, the game lacks the unpredictability and diversity of actions of the other Dash franchises. It also isn't challenging enough for time management addicts like me who is looking for something to keep my neurons up and awake (although probably not as hard as the last levels of Cooking Dash: DinerTown Studios where I'm still stuck at Level 45).

The irony is, there were times when it felt that the game was trying too hard, introducing sleepwalking visitors, wake up calls and even ghosts as hotel guests, which made the whole thing feel over-the-top while being underwhelming at the same time. My guess is that with a few more tweaks in the creativity department, Hotel Dash 2 will be just what its predecessor had implied, a success.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The film centers on a contemporary married couple, charting their evolution over a span of years by cross-cutting between time periods. 
If honesty is the best policy when it comes to movies, then this one definitely deserves the good moral award. Blue Valentine showcases the story of a young couple from the time they fell in love to the brink of its destruction. The scenes cut between the gloomy present and their happier times giving off a painfully truthful view of the irony of love and everything that comes with it.

Even though a concrete plot is a bit hard to find, the acting in the film shines through the monotony of the script. Michelle Williams's breathtaking performance made the movie transcend into a whole other level but what makes it more unforgettable is its raw honesty and unfiltered scenes and how close its all too familiar setting hits home.

Orchestr-o-Meter: A-

127 HOURS (2010)
A mountain climber becomes trapped under a boulder while canyoneering alone near Moab, Utah and resorts to desperate measures in order to survive.
"There is no force on Earth more powerful than the will to live."

So much more than the story of someone cutting off his own arm with a blunt knife, 127 Hours is a dazzling tale of passion, courage, perseverance and one man's ultimate will to survive. Based on the true story of mountaineer Aaron Ralston, 127 Hours is a mesmerizing 94 minutes of amazing cinematography, adventure and heart. It splendidly presented a man's journey to self discovery through the unlikeliest circumstances.
Given that 3/4 of the movie is set in the exact same spot with just a man, a boulder and a video camera, both director (Danny Boyle) and actor (James Franco) delivered stunning skills in their respective professions that the constant backdrop and the solitary character is not even noticeable.

Definitely one of the best movies I've seen to date.

Orchestr-o-Meter: A+

A ballet dancer wins the lead in "Swan Lake" and is perfect for the role of the delicate White Swan - Princess Odette - but slowly loses her mind as she becomes more and more like Odile the Black Swan.
A psychological thriller for the culturally inclined, the film is an intoxicating tale of a ballerina in search for perfection that her obsession finally turns into insanity and beyond. The disturbing delusions and hallucinations perfectly done in an unnerving yet subtle manner reminiscent of Stephen King's "Carrie" plus the blatant sexually driven scenes will definitely give the audience something to talk about after leaving the theaters.

Orchestr-o-Meter: B+
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