Bits and Snippets of the Philippines

Basic Reading of Global Filipinos

Archive for August 2015

United States FDA Approves Cholesterol Lowering Drugs

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Everybody knows the Philippines is the best place to get your cholesterol up high in the skies, right? With lechon, adobo, crispy pata and bulalo in the same dinner table as the veggies and the carbs, can you really decline the insistent invitation of your hosts to eat lots of meat with lots of fat? Not a chance in life.

Too lazy to read? Click here for the audio version (podcast).

Well, here’s good news for the migrant Filipinos in the U.S. who just had his or her internal system bloated with good old fashioned Filipino cholesterol. According to CNN, “The injectable drug from Amgen is the second in a new class of drugs called PCSK9 inhibitors. It works by making the liver more efficient at getting rid of LDL, or bad cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood are linked to heart disease.”

The U.S. FDA came out with their own press release entitled, “FDA approves Repatha to treat certain patients with high cholesterol.” It reads,

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Repatha (evolocumab) injection for some patients who are unable to get their low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol under control with current treatment options.

Repatha, the second drug approved in a new class of drugs known as PCSK9 inhibitors, is approved for use in addition to diet and maximally-tolerated statin therapy in adult patients with heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (HeFH), homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (HoFH), or clinical atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, such as heart attacks or strokes, who require additional lowering of LDL cholesterol.

Familial hypercholesterolemia (encompassing both HeFH and HoFH) is an inherited condition that causes high levels of LDL cholesterol. A high level of LDL cholesterol in the blood is linked to cardiovascular or heart disease. Heart disease is the number one cause of death for Americans, both men and women. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year– that equals one in every four deaths.

“Repatha provides another treatment option in this new class of drugs for patients with familial hypercholesterolemia or with known cardiovascular disease who have not been able to lower their LDL cholesterol enough with statins,” said John Jenkins, M.D., director of the Office of New Drugs, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Cardiovascular disease is a serious threat to the health of Americans, and the FDA is committed to facilitating the development and approval of effective and safe drugs to address this important public health problem.”

Repatha is an antibody that targets a specific protein, called PCSK9. PCSK9 reduces the number of receptors on the liver that remove LDL cholesterol from the blood. By blocking PCSK9’s ability to work, more receptors are available to get rid of LDL cholesterol from the blood and, as a result, lower LDL cholesterol levels.

The efficacy and safety of Repatha were evaluated in one 52-week placebo-controlled trial and eight 12-week placebo-controlled trials in participants with primary hyperlipidemia, including two that specifically enrolled participants with HeFH and one that enrolled participants with HoFH. In one of the 12-week studies, 329 participants with HeFH, who required additional lowering of LDL cholesterol despite statins with or without other lipid-lowering therapies, were randomized to receive Repatha or placebo for 12 weeks. Participants taking Repatha had an average reduction in LDL cholesterol of approximately 60 percent, compared to placebo.

The most common side effects of Repatha include nasopharyngitis, upper respiratory tract infection, flu, back pain, and reactions such as redness, pain, or bruising where the injection is given. Allergic reactions, such as rash and hives, have been reported with the use of Repatha. Patients should stop using Repatha and get medical help if they experience symptoms of a serious allergic reaction.

Multiple clinical trials have demonstrated that statins lower the risk of having a heart attack or stroke. A trial evaluating the effect of adding Repatha to statins for reducing cardiovascular risk is ongoing.

Repatha is marketed by Amgen Inc., of Thousand Oaks, Calif.

For media inquiries, please contact Eric Pahon of the FDA, (240) 402-4177.

For consumer inquiries, please call toll free number 1-888-INFO-FDA.

Sources: CNN | FDA

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The GrabCar Promo Now Until August 31

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The first time I posted a blog about a GrabCar promo, I was surprised with the amount of Google searches people are doing just to find out what the heck the new promo is. Suffice it to say, I was exactly like that when I started using GrabTaxi last year.

“Pare, anong bagong promo ngayon?”

Google search, Twitter and Facebook – everybody’s social media best friend.

Anyway, the new promo code starting today until August 31, 2015 gives recognition to the more than 1,000 GrabCar operators that have received accreditation from the Land Transportation Franchising & Regulatory Board or LTFRB.

The GrabCar promo code is SALUTE.


Source: GrabTaxi Philippines.

Image is a mishmash of a photo and the GrabCar logo.


It’s Like the Viagra® Pill for Women

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I know Viagra® (sildenafil citrate) is a registered product of Pfizer Inc. and it is not the brand name of the pill for women. But I thought it more descriptive in seven words to use that in the title than go ballistic on hifalutin terms. LOL!

Forbes Business entitles their story as “FDA Approves Addyi (Flibanserin), ‘A Milestone Moment’ In Women’s Health.” The drug sponsor is Sprout Pharmaceuticals and they will begin marketing the drug as Addyi (pronounced add-ee).

Forbes Business writes that the drug is directed towards women with “low sexual desire that causes marked distress or interpersonal difficulty and is NOT due to a co-existing medical or psychiatric condition; problems within the relationship, or the effects of a medication or other drug substance.”

Associated Press put out a Q&A page about the new drug, outlining their article as such. I’m giving a one-phrase answer to each question but please go to the AP story for a more detailed answer.

How does it work? Acts on brain chemicals associated with mood and appetite.

Who will take this drug? Premenopausal women with hypoactive sexual desire disorder.

I’ve heard this decision was controversial, why? The drug followed a long, contentious path to approval.

Does the drug work? Experts usually describe Addyi’s effect as “modest.”

What are the side effects? About 10 percent of patients experienced the most common problems: dizziness, fatigue and nausea.

How much will it cost? Between $30 and $75 for a month’s supply.

Why did the FDA approve Addyi this time around? Sprout conducted several safety studies to more clearly define the drug’s risks.

When will the drug be available? Mid-October.

Sources: Forbes Business | Associated Press

Photo from


GrabCar and GrabCar Premium P100 Off Promo Code Aug 17-21

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Updated GrabTaxi – GrabCar – GrabCar+ Promo Codes as of September 2, 2015:

Source: Source


Do I still have to write an entire 10-paragraph prose on the title? LOL! Yep, that’s what it is, boys and girls. And only up to the 21st. I’m a GrabTaxi and GrabCar user. Awesome that Meg magazine thought of this idea – promoting KC Concepcion’s Meg cover – KCFORMEG. Anyway, you have three more days to enjoy P100 off.

I own two cars but I hardly use them already since GrabTaxi started its service way back (was that last year?) What’s the point of headaches, backaches and muscle aches from driving – all useless anxieties – going through the daily mad rush that is, the uber-congested traffic in Metro Manila. Sigh.

However, there’s another promo code you can use but only up to three times and valid until September 1, 2015. P200 off for up to three rides only until September 1st – GRABITLIKEITSHOT.


Source: GrabTaxi Twitter

Images from source.


Movie Ex With Benefits Sparks Outrage

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I was scroll-reading through my Twitter List “PHnews” where most of the Philippine based Twitter accounts that tweet news and information are listed when I chanced upon the InterAksyon feed entitled, “Medreps offended by trailer of ‘Ex with Benefits’, call for film’s boycott” and a Twitter pic showing Derek Ramsey and Coleen Garcia about to make it out. So, I clicked the link.

In short, a medical representative or Med Rep who is now based abroad “posted an open letter to the Movie and Television Review Classification Board (MTRCB) to review both the trailer and the film,” as reported by InterAksyon from its source, The Fanboy SEO.

“Pinapangit po nila ang image ng mga Professional Medical Representative at ang professional relationship namin sa doctors. Pangalawa po, wala po sa duty namin ang humiga sa kama para humingi ng benta. Kami po ay nagundergo ng 2months intensive training para pumasa sa pagiging Medrep sa Pilipinas. Ngayon po kahit ako ay wala na sa Pilipinas, nababalitaan ko po na may PRC exams na mga Medrep para pumasa,” Quisumbing posted last Saturday and Interaksyon reported.

A group of medical representatives based in Baguio City called BRAD (Baguio Responsible Association of Detailmen) wrote the film’s director, Gino M. Santos, and asked for his side on the issue before they make their next move to file a complaint with the City Government of Baguio and request for the banning of the film in Baguio Cinemas – also from InterAksyon.

Watch the movie trailer and decide for yourself.

Nationwide screening of the movie is scheduled starting September 2, 2015. It is produced by Star Cinema and Viva Films.

Sources: InterAksyon and The Fanboy SEO.

Photos and video from


Kata F2 is the Best Buy Smartphone Ever

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It has been a while since I have been a Kata smartphone user. It started when I bought the Kata M1 more than a year ago. By then, I’ve marveled at this smartphone not only because of the specs but the price range is defnintely worth what you buy.

Then, I got the Kata F2. Small marvel but a whooping benefit because it is worth what you buy. Basic specifications are its 1,850 mAh battery with a 1.3 GHz quad core processor, 1GB RAM, 8GB internal storage, Edge/2G, 3G and 4G connectivity, 8-megapixels rear camera and 5-megapixels front camera. That basically good enough for me because I use it more for business than anything else.

I’ve got the usual Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Twitter and Instagram in it. For voice over the internet or VoIP, I have Skype and Viber loaded. Because I joined the group of broadcasters for a new instant messaging or IM app called Veems, I also have that so I can IM my 900 followers anytime. GrabTaxi and Uber are also loaded up for my convenience in commuting. Being a Globe prepaid subscriber, I have my GCash app, too, loaded on my smartphone. Even my 7-Eleven app to coincide with the rewards card I have is also part of my daily app routine.

The preloaded requirements when I got the Kata F2 are GMail, Evernote and Airdroid, and a host of other apps that I sometimes use. GMail, of course, is my choice of e-mail client where I manage about five accounts in it and also syncs my contact list between GMail and the Kata F2. Just DO NOT download ALL your e-mails because you’ll easily run out of space. Evernote is my go between my laptop and the Kata F2. I find Evernote much easier to switch and copy than the usual cloud-based drives. And Airdroid? It’s my app of choice when moving photos between my Kata F2 and other Android-based smartphones or my laptop. Cool, huh?

As I mentioned in my previous blog, I stopped bringing my pocket WiFi and just relied on the Kata F2 as my WiFi device for my other gadgets – my Kata M1, iPad 3 and Asus laptop. To make sure I have power all the time, I always bring my 10,400 mAh battery pack and the Kata F2 electrical charger (the latter is just in case I come across an open outlet in my favorite cafe).

Power consumption is used up a lot when connecting to the Internet using mobile data – what smartphone doesn’t do that nowadays. I turned off my WiFi access and turned on mobile data for a day, and started using my favorite social media sites, and it took about 6-8 hours before I hit the bottom in battery life.

In the Philippines, the Kata F2 went on sale to the public early June this year and is priced at P3,999. It is available at most Kata Kiosks, Kata outlets, and The list of Kata Kiosks from their Facebook Page can be found at my previous blog – CLICK HERE.

Photos by @raffypekson.


Ginger is the Root of Antioxidants

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In April, I was introduced to Turcumin, the herbal food supplement that uses the ginger root as a source of antioxidants. Is ginger good for our body? Of course, it is. I wrote about it a month later – see The Fuss About Ginger, Turmeric and Turcumin. What is Turcumin? It is the brand of the herbal food supplement by Health Rich Pharma Corp. group. Every 500mg capsule contains Rhizome of Turmeric that helps in digestion and removes the free-radicals in our bodies. These free-radicals damage our cell membranes, tampers our DNA and may even cause death.

What is Turmeric? Is Turmeric good for our body? In my previous blog, I did a little research about Turmeric and the wonders it does. “In India, turmeric has been used traditionally for thousands of years as a remedy for stomach and liver ailments, as well as topically to heal sores, basically for its supposed antimicrobial property. Turmeric was a medicine for a range of diseases and conditions, including those of the skin, pulmonary, and gastrointestinal systems, aches, pains, wounds, sprains, and liver disorders. A fresh juice is commonly used in many skin conditions, including eczema, chicken pox, shingles, allergy, and scabies. The active compound curcumin is believed to have a wide range of biological effects including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antitumour, antibacterial, and antiviral activities, which indicate potential in clinical medicine.”

Since the time I wrote about it, I’ve taken one or two capsules after a hefty meal. Well, not religiously but if I remember to bring some or I remember at all. There’s a warm sensation a few minutes after taking it, which means those capsules are working inside your system. My term was “warm and fuzzy.” I’d always feel a little recharged or more. The Health Rich Pharma group says the turmeric, the rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant of the ginger family, is working properly.

Turcumin comes in a box of 100 capsules that retails for 1,500 Pesos (or 15 Pesos per capsule). Not bad if you take two capsules per day or a P30 daily expense for better health.

Photos by @raffypekson


Mazda Philippines and Zalora Launch Mark Bumgarner Fashion Collection

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Big question – why is the country’s leading online fashion house partnering with a Japanese automotive brand to introduce a fashion designer’s collection? Fine. Let me try to answer that in five whooping paragraphs. Ready?

Zalora and Mazda Philippines collaborated to introduce and showcase the latest fashion collection from local fashion designer Mark Bumgarner known as “M2 by Mark Bumgarner.This one-of-a-kind collection is inspired by the KODO design philosophy of Mazda, translated in English as “Soul of Motion,” representing both the power and elegance of a wild animal in the instant when it pounces on a prey. Mazda’s vision of “Motion Form” is what the M2 by Mark Bumgarner fashion collection tries to embody, a philosophy and essence that can be experienced from the line of Mazda vehicles. It’s like wearing the M2 fashion collection takes its cue from the design and character of both worlds – cars and fashion. Together, these opposing worlds create a new meaning and experience in every piece of the M2 fashion collection. Mark Bumgarner is creating 100 percent handmade, Prêt-à-Porter (or ready-to-wear) pieces to the fashion collection that highlights the unity between fashion and automobile.

Did you know that Mark Bumgarner was once a race car driver
before he became a fashion designer?

What more can you ask a fashion designer like Mark Bumgarner when at the age of seven, he was already driving Go Karts and participated in races starting at age of eight. Mark joined the Ford Lynx Cup Touring Cars Novice Class and came out 3rd overall. From then on, he represented the Philippines in karting races such as the Macau Karting Gran Prix Formula A Class, Skip Barber Regional and National series, and the Rock Island Gran Prix, to name a few. It was his sister Michelle Bumgarner who introduced him to the world of fashion, besides being herself a famous Filipina racer, too, who in 2014 joined the Pro Mazda Championship full-time, racing for World Speed Motorsports Team. So, cars and fashion have always been in the blood veins of the Bumgarner siblings and coming out with the M2 by Mark Bumgarner fashion collection inspired by the Mazda2 SKYACTIV series didn’t seem to be a difficult choice, much more a challenging decision.

Zalora has been tagged as Asia’s online fashion destination, bringing in the hottest items from local and international runways straight to the customer’s doorsteps. It’s a one stop online destination for everything fashion in the Philippines, bringing fashion insights on global trends. It constantly tracks the latest fashion trends and provides fashion tips and advice to allow its customers to shop with more confidence. Zalora Philippines is operated by Jade 1297 GmbH who is represented by BF Jade E-Services.

The all-new Mazda2 SKYACTIV recently won the 2014-2015 Japan Car of the Year award and will be made available in the Philippines staring this month. It is what Mark Bumgarner used as inspiration in creating his M2 by Mark Bumgarner fashion collection. The Mazda2 SKYACTIV draws on the experience of its critically acclaimed and award-winning Mazda3, Mazda6, CX-5 and MX-5 to create a sub-compact car that redefines everyone’s expectations completely. Combining the full-range of SKYACTIV Technology (engine, transmission, body and chassis) and the KODO Soul of Motion design philosophy into the all-new Mazda2 – delivering performance, fuel-efficiency and driving pleasure without compromise.

The M2 by Mark Bumgarner fashion collection, together with the Mazda2 SKYACTIV car models, will be showcased at the Zalora Philippines Pop-Up Store in Shangri-La EDSA Plaza mall from July 28 up to August 2. The fashion collection will be available for sale online starting July 29.

For more information, please visit and

Sources: Zalora Philippines | Mazda Philippines | | Mark Bumgarner Facebook Page | Wikipedia

Video and photos by @raffypekson


Bituing Walang Ningning The Musical Will Open Again on October 2015

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For some of you readers who are familiar with the title, it’s a comic book series, a television series and a movie, right? Remember the infamous slapping phrase, “You’re nothing but a second rate, trying hard copycat!” *SLAP!* Now, who do you remember saying that?

I was privileged to have watched the musical finale of the Bituing Walang Ningning: The Musical at the Newport Performing Arts Theater in Resorts World Manila last July 18, 2015. So, yes, this article was due two weeks or so ago. The musical has been running 24 shows before I watched its finale.

And for those who were not able to watch it, have no fear. Bituing Walang Ningning will have its second run starting October 8, 2015 also in Resorts World Manila. Yay!

I should say an awesome overall performance goes to Cris Villonco who played Lavinia Arguelles a.k.a. the Evil Queen of the show. Somehow, most villains in musicals do get the best roles that allows them to express themselves in all spheres of the musical experience. For me, it was Villonco who stole the show. I was also impressed with the singing prowess of Mark Bautista who played “lover boy” Nico Escobar and the acting of Monica Cuenco as musical play’s heroine Dorina Pineda. I knew Menchu Lauchengco was going to be there but she played a secondary role as Edith (okay, I forgot who Edith was). Of course, Jon Santos a gay role as Auntie stole some highlights because I knew he was ad-libbing some of his words – and it was awesome how he did it. Stage production was elegant yet simple (in short, not messy as I’ve seen some musicals do). Kudos to the scriptwriter and musical director, Freddie Santos, for doing a good job with the sometimes split-second intervals and ins-and-outs movements that usually create chaos in a musical play but was never felt by the audience (me!)

Bituing Walang Ningning is a Snow White versus the Evil Queen fairy tale done in a Philippine musical theater scene. But the ending, if you still recall the comic book, movie or TV series, is different. Well, that’s for you to find out when you watch it starting October 8, 2015 at the Newport Performing Arts Theater.

This comic book adaptation actually started as a 1985 movie blockbuster in Philippine cinema that starred Sharon Cuneta as Dorina, Christopher de Leon as Nico, and Cherie Gil as Lavinia. Also, the late Jay Ilagan, Tommy Abuel, Joel Torre and Chandra Romero were also cast in the silver screen version. The first screening day of this movie was actually Valentine’s Day of 1985. Zsa Zsa Padilla was originally offered the role of Lavinia but because of the two-piece swimsuit and some kissing scenes, Padilla turned it down.

Then came the television series version in 2006 with Sarah Geronimo playing Dorina and Angelika dela Cruz as Lavinia. This time, Zsa Zsa Padilla joined the cast of the TV series as Dorina’s real mother. It was aired on a primetime television hour in ABS-CBN.

The comic book version of Bituing Walang Ningning actually came out in 1984 and was created by Nerissa Cabral, a very well-known illustrator in the 80s and up till today. Her first illustrated story was published in 1962 in Espesyal Komiks. Thirty of her comic book stories have already seen themselves in film versions, starting with Ako ng Aking Ama and Karugtong ng Kahapon in 1975. During that one year in 1985, four of her works appeared on screen, including Bituing Walang Ningning.

The title song “Bituing Walang Ningning” was originally composed by Willy Cruz. In fact, nine out of the 13 songs in the musical were composed by Cruz. Paikot-ikot was by Mon Espia and Ang Boyfriend Kong Baduy by Marvic Sotto. All of the 13 songs were originally published by Viva Music Publishing.

I earnestly recommend you watch Bituing Walang Ningning, The Musical starting on October 8, 2015 at the Newport Performing Arts Theater in Resorts World Manila. Tickets are not yet available (I think) but if they are, you can go online to Resorts World Manila or TicketNet Online to buy your tickets for the Philippine musical’s October run.

More photos:

Sources: RW Manila Press Release | Resorts World Manila Online | WikiPilipinas | IMDB | Wikipedia

Photos: @raffypekson | Resorts World Manila