Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Whitening and the Other Wonders of Glutathione

Sandy*, a working mom, has been taking glutathione oral food supplements on a daily basis. She swears by her brand's effectiveness, claiming that her skin has been fairer with only four to five months of use.

Sandy also has other reasons for taking glutathione. She knows that it plays a good role in keeping her liver and other organs healthy.

For most Filipino women, however, glutathione is a popular food supplement because of its whitening side effects. This is evident in all the TVCs, billboards and Internet ads placed by online sellers in eBay, Sulit.com and Multiply. Apparently, many have yet to know the other, more important benefits of using glutathione, as well as the precautionary measures that they have to make in taking the food supplement.

Womens' frequently asked questions on glutathione are answered on this blog in a concise and easy-to-read manner. Thanks to various sources online.

1. What is glutathione?

Glutathione is a protein that is produced in the human body. It is also found naturally in foods such as fruits, vegetables and meats. (Uretsky, Healthline)

2. What are the benefits of taking glutathione?

As an antioxidant, glutathione protects the cells of the body from getting damaged by free radicals. It also helps boost the immune system.

The possibility of using glutathione to treat cancer and heart diseases is still being studied. Meanwhile, Healthline cites the following reported uses of glutathione:

  • treatment of poisoning, particularly heavy metal poisons
  • treatment of idiopathic pulmonary firbosis
  • increasing the effectiveness and reducing the toxicity of cis-platinum, a chemo drug used to treat breast cancer
  • treating Parkinson's disease
  • lowering blood pressure in patients with diabetes
  • increasing male sperm counts in humans and animals
  • treatment of liver cancer
  • treatment of sickle cell anemia
3. How does glutathione whiten skin?

Skin whitening is a side effect of using glutathione. It is not the main use or function of the food supplement.

Dr. Eduardo Gonzales, in his article at the Manila Bulletin, says:

Glutathione whitens the skin because it inhibits the enzyme tyrosinase, which simply means it prevents the concerned cells in the skin from manufacturing melanin, the pigment that is responsible for the brown to black coloration of the skin.

4. What are the ways to take glutathione supplements? How much will they cost me?

Glutathione can be taken orally as a tablet or capsule. However, it is said that glutathione is is not well absorbed when taken by mouth. Sandy spends around Php1,400 monthly for the gluta capsules that she takes on a daily basis.

Glutathione soaps are also available in beauty and drug stores for a price range of Php100 to 300, depending on the brand. It is also said that it takes weeks to months to get the desired whitening results.

Injectables, which are said to act faster, are also available from dermatologists and online sellers at a minimum of Php3,000 per shot. Some of them come in combinations like glutathione + Vitamin C. Belo Medical Helpdesk gives the following info re: glutathione injectables:

Glutathione IV (intravenous) - Php 3,360.00 per vial (one session) done 2-3 times a week. To achieve maximum results, treatment should be done for 15 sessions. Effect will be seen on your 3rd session. Package: for 15 sessions- Php 44,800.00. A single treatment consists of 5cc of Vitamin C and 4cc of Glutathione. The product is made from Europe.

5. How often should I take glutathione to maintain the healthy effects?

Glutathione should be taken consistently to maintain both the aesthetic and healthy effects.

6. Are there any harmful side effects?

There are no established harmful side effects of glutathione. However, Dr. Gonzales doesn't advise people with chronic diseases such as diabetes, pregnant or lactating women, and children from taking the supplement.

7. What are the precautions that I have to make?

Both women and men should exercise care and caution in availing glutathione supplements. It's always best to consult with a doctor who knows your medical history.

At the same time, only avail glutathione from trusted sellers. Some buyers in the Glutathione Alert thread on eBay happened to have purchased fake supplements and reported prolonged side effects and vomiting for at least 3 days. (And for someone like me who had been hospitalized twice for a severe case of drug allergies, I suggest ultra care!) Make sure that the brand is BFAD approved.

The other wonders of glutathione shows how the food supplement is a real deal when we talk of beauty being skin deep. Call it fabulous, a miracle in a pill. We just have to be watch out for the fakes.

* Name changed upon request.


Eduardo Gonzales, M.D. Glutathione: The Real Score -- Medical Notes. Manila Bulletin, 26 Oct 2009.
Samuel Uretsky, The Gale Group, Inc. Glutathione. Healthline, 2005.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Blind Lady: Face-to-Face with Hubert Webb in Bilibid (Last in Series of 3)

November 7, 2010 – At this moment, the memory of that day seems worlds away yet, strangely unfading.

I was invited by social media maven Janette Toral, together with fellow blogger Leira Pagaspas, to a lunch interview with Hubert Webb and family at the Maximum Security Unit of the New Bilibid Prison.

Inside the walls and the bars of the prison was a sort of government housing project made of small cookie cutter blue buildings where men in orange waited for a million tomorrows inside their cells or by getting themselves busy elsewhere in the compound. A few of them chose to wait by the gate. They escorted us down to a building with a façade that bore a Sputnik graffiti. Hubert's place, I thought.

As we entered, I curiously watched an inmate snuggle his tiny infant while his wife looked a few feet away. We crossed the den where a TV listlessly played to an absent audience and eventually reached a makeshift cottage where the Webbs hold their Sunday lunches.

At the head of the table was former Senator Freddie Webb whose features remained handsome despite the years. On his right was his wife, Elizabeth, to whom ABS-CBN news anchor Pinky Webb sat next. Hubert, who was celebrating his 42nd birthday that day, hopped from one spot to another to welcome guests. There were at least a dozen of them; a good mix of relatives and close friends. We said hellos and were led to the other end of the table where Hubert's elder brother Fritz sat down to entertain our questions.

(At this point, it is hard to cite in verbatim the exchange that we had with Fritz, as well as the inputs that Sen. Webb gave from time to time. Allow me to skip this portion as most questions that were brought up involved clarifications and details about the Vizconde Case, which I consolidated with various materials and organized in a table. See Deconstructing Public Opinion: Is Hubert Webb guilty?)

Mrs. Webb joined us and shared a bit about her family's ordeal in the past 15 years.

Nakakaawa talaga si Hubert pero naawa din ako sa pinagdaanan ng asawa ko, ni Jason at Pinky dahil sila ang kilala ng tao, she said as she recalled Sen. Webb's broken political career and the early years of Jason and Pinky's careers in basketball and broadcast media.

Thankfully, the Webbs have somehow gotten past that part of their endless trial. The light conversations amidst the comings and goings around us were in no way reminiscent of those tumultuous years for the Webbs.

We try to keep our anger and sadness from each other. Hindi kami nagpapakitang mahina kami. Hubert's siblings have been very supportive ever since. Siguro pag natapos lahat ito saka namin mafi-feel yung pagod.

Talking to Mrs. Webb felt like talking to a friend's mother. She held no pretenses; no airs. She was warm yet she kept her poise. With a little pasintabi, I asked if she can clarify rumors about Hubert getting the special treatment in Bilibid.

I don't know if you can call this special treatment pero pag mabait ka sa tao, mabait din sila sa'yo. We go here every Sunday to bring him food, we pay for his electricity. Maybe that's why they allow us to go here and spend time together. But I don't know if this is actually special treatment.

Right now, ang gusto lang namin ay malaman ng tao yung totoo and then they decide. These details should make the thinking mind decide.

The last portion of our interview was with Hubert. Aside from the Che-che Lazaro documentary, it was my first time to see Hubert after the historic RTC verdict was rendered more than ten years ago. I silently watched this man as he spoke, trying my best to associate the famous face that I got familiar with as a child who watched the evening news and cut out newspaper clippings for school.

The Hubert Webb in my memory was sketched by the popular notion akin to a bratty politician's son who must be having a hard time adjusting from a life of luxury to a life of limits. Of this, I was corrected.

My siblings and I all rode in one car to school, Hubert explained. Yun ba ang luxury? Marunong akong mag-commute.

Hubert carried a slight inmates' accent. He had aged much at only 42. Yet, as he spoke he bore the aspirations of a man in his 20s. Coming from him, they seemed more like frustrations. Thanks to an eye witness whose credibility was in question. Thanks to a vindictive public that relied mostly on hearsays.

Ang consolation ko na lang ay yung thought na at least, dito buhay pa ako. He recalled the many prank calls and death threats that he himself got many years ago.

Pag labas ko, pa-retire na halos yung mga kaibigan ko pero ako magsisimula pa lang, he expressed with worry.

He drifted to a mindless talk of setting up a hi-tech third party forensic laboratory if he happens to get out. Madami dito ang wala talagang kasalanan, he said.

Sen. Webb emerged from the door to remind Hubert that visiting time will be over in a few minutes. Our group said goodbye to the Webbs and left Bilibid with so much thoughts in our heads. Personally, I wondered if justice had been really served by locking up men whose guilt I seriously doubted.

To this day, with Hubert Webb and others already acquitted, the Vizconde Massacre remains unsolved.

I searched and tried hard to find the words that would best summarize my thoughts that day. It took me more than a month to find them in the column of Randy David:

Each time I look at the crestfallen Lauro Vizconde, I cannot help but share the public’s sympathy for a man who could not find justice in our society. Yet when I look at the faces of Freddie and Elizabeth Webb, I get the strong sense that these are people who will not coddle a son regardless of whether he is right or wrong.

Note: Items in italics have been paraphrased.

* * *

My journey in pursuit of an informed opinion gave me a newfound preference to the Lady Justice without the blindfold.

There is something about this depiction that reminds me of the true essence of justice. The position of the scales of truth and fairness and the sword denotes the primacy of logic over punishment. Sadly, many have been quick with their judgments out of a desire to fulfill the latter.

Most importantly, the absence of blindfold implies the ability to open the self to facts - this and nothing else - which should be everyone's first step to appreciating the beauty and the huge responsibility that comes with justice.

* * *

My first two installments on the Vizconde Case and Hubert Webb had been read more than a thousand times since posted. Among the most popular keyword searches were:

A screencap of the first installment, On Vizconde Massacre, Hubert Webb and the Quest for True Justice was featured at Paparazzi on TV 5 (see 1:09) and was acknowledged by Fritz Webb on ANC Headstart.

Installment 2, Deconstructing Public Opinion: Is Hubert Webb guilty? has gone through two major changes to pave way to criticisms, which I took constructively, and to accommodate fairness and objectivity.

* * *

I suggest readers to go through the following links regarding the acquittal of Hubert Webb and others:

Supreme Court clears Webb, 6 others in Vizconde massacre (BusinessWorld Online).

Babes Romualdez. 'If it doesn't fit, you must acquit' - Babes' Eye View, The Philippine Star.
Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas, S.J. Fr. Bernas on SC decision Webb case, Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Jomar Canlas. Chronology of Events: The Vizconde Massacre, Manila Times.
Jose C. Sison. Undue media coverage - A Law Each Day (Keeps Trouble Away), The Philippine Star.
Randy David. Justice and public opinion - Public Lives, Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Winnie Monsod. Vindicated - Get Real, Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Winnie Monsod. Vizconde Massacre Analysis, QTV.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Weekend Buzz: Good omens for RH Bill?

I got the shock of my life when Jim Paredes posted this on Twitter a few minutes ago:

This tweet was preceded by a link to Time's What the Pope Really Said About the Condoms. In the article, the Pope expressed that the Catholic Church has reversed its stand on the use of condoms - a good news to AIDS workers but not necessarily to RH Bill advocates.

The Pope says that the use of condoms as a means to prevent the spread of HIV is consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church -- even using the example of a male prostitute who chooses to use a condom as a conscious effort to prevent the spread of STD. However, he maintains the Church's stand against the use of condoms as contraceptives for fear that "the sheer fixation on the condom implies a banalization of sexuality... the dangerous source of the attitude of no longer seeing sexuality as the expression of love." (Time)

This brings me back to Still on Reproductive Health, an article written by Ateneo School of Government Dean Tony La Viña, with whom I had the chance to discuss the RH Bill with during iBoP Asia's Innovations Forum at the Ateneo a few weeks back. I appreciate that the Jesuits seem to take a moderate stand on the issue; that they see the good side of The Many Faces of the RH Bill. This is why it saddens me that many of the so-called enlightened RH Bill advocates continue to attack the Catholic Church as an institution. (Which may also be because of what Vatican maintains.) At the same time, it's no longer a surprise that people would approach me to say nasty things about the RH Bill that I can't seem to validate a n y w h e r e in the Full Text of the RH Bill.

It is interesting to note as well that Cong. Edcel Lagman's RH Bill is just 1 of the 6 bills on reproductive health and family planning that have been filed at Congress. (I hope to read the others.) Likewise, a 'Consensus' bill is being presented by former Sen. Vicente Paterno which, by its name, seeks a consensus among the conflicting views of the RH Bill advocates and the Catholic Church. (Info Source: Inquirer)

It is indeed time that crucial stakeholders stop bickering and for once, be objective and constructive with their ideas. Reproductive Health (RH) is a serious issue and so are HIV/AIDS and the exponential population growth. (Last Friday, these were some of the issues that were identified in the Stakeholders' Consultation of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for the Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) for 2010-2016.)

The Pope's press release is timely since the Congress will start the RH debate this coming week. As they say, when something's meant to happen, everything falls into place.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Finally, a tabloid for women

Introducing Klik Bandera, a tabloid for women - INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos

I've grown up with the idea that Philippine tabloids are dirty, scandalous and male-serving. But since I've learned last weekend that the Inquirer released the maiden issue of Klik Bandera, a tabloid for women, I began to think otherwise.

So this morning, I excitedly went to the news stand to get myself a copy. Here's my review of the tabloid:

Rating: Needs Improvement

Released with a sub-title that says "Balita. Buenas. Chika.," Klik Bandera indeed came out with "entertaining, informative and mostly feel-good show-biz articles." Half of this weekend's 12-page issue was dedicated to showbiz news while the rest were a mix of the typical tabloid news stories and features that include horoscope, beauty tips and some short stories.

There seems to be nothing new.

Klik Bandera is a good development communication medium for women all over the country, with a circulation that spans all over Metro Manila, across Luzon and in major locations in Vis-Min. As part of the Inquirer's corporate social responsibility, Klik Bandera should take this as an opportunity to provide marginalized women with information that will empower them to come up with informed choices and live better lives.

I look forward to seeing that kind of Klik Bandera on the hands of our women. :-)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Oh My Lash! A writing contest.

Good news to those who sought lash advice and found Mad About Lashes . . .

I learned about the ILASH's Oh My Lash! writing contest through a tweet. ILASH is an eye lash and brow conditioning gel which promises "longer and fuller" natural eye lashes in "as fast as 3 weeks." By enhancing natural lashes, ILASH is far different from most of the methods discussed in my former blogpost. And with this, ILASH must be something that's worth trying.

To join the contest, please click here. Two winners will receive a bottle each of ILASH, each worth Php5,900.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Choosing between herbs and synthetics

The rainy season usually gives birth to a quirky sort of chorus. These days, I hear a lot of grande renditions of “ehem-ehems” that are coupled with some occasional wheezing and sneezing. Sadly, this chorus often longs to include my little one.

As a working solo parent, I find going through labels of over-the-counter drugs time-consuming. So what I do is to remain faithful to the prescription of doctors who advise the use of synthetic medicines all the time. But lately, ads of herbal cough medicines seem to challenge my loyalty.

Again, as a parent, I want the best remedy for my daughter. What attracts me to herbal cough medicines is the claim that they are the safest cough medicine on the shelf. On the other hand, what encourages me to continue with synthetic cough medicine is its supposed ability to cure cough faster and more effectively than other remedies.

At this point, I ask myself, herbs or synthetics?

If I have to rely on the ads alone, then I guess my dilemma will be reduced to something like, Vic Sotto or ordinary moms? This is mainly because two of the most visible brands on TV claim that they are the best (while also attacking the other). Reading through the comparison of herbal and synthetic cough medicine TV commercials gave me this insight.

That is why I decided to come up with my own little research.

First Source: The LABELS (Drug Information)

Time-consuming as it may be, the labels are still the best source of drug information. I got the info of the first three brands from the boxes/leaflet in my medicine cabinet while for the last, I got the info from MIMS Philippines.

1. Bisolvon (Bromhexine HCl)
a. Indication: cough due to an acute or chronic respiratory disease associated with hard, sticky phlegm (mucolytic)
b. Precautions: Pregnant and lactating women (not recommended)
c. Possible side effects: immune system disorder, skin and subcutaneous tissue disorders and respiratory, mediastinal and thoracic disorders: allergic reaction…, gastrointestinal disorders: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and upper abdominal pain; can be taken by diabetics and people with heart ailments

2. Loviscol (Carbocisteine)
a. Indications: chronic disorders of the respiratory tract associated with excessive or viscous mucus, such as chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and otits media with effusion including glue ear (mucolytic)
b. Precautions: patients with a history of gastric or duodenal ulcer and GI bleeding; carcinogenesis, mutagenesis and impairment of fertility (long-term animal studies not performed; effect on human fertility unknown); safety not established for pregnant and lactating women, and children below age of one
c. Possible side effects: not stated on box; possibly on enclosed leaflet which I no longer have

3. Ascof (Vitex negundo L. Lagundi Leaf)
a. Indications: For relief of mild to moderate cough due to common colds and flu
b. Precautions: Pregnant and lactating women (not studied)
c. Possible side effects: None were reported in the clinical trials for the syrup.

4. Solmux (Carbocisteine)
a. Indications: Relief of cough associated w/ excessive and tenacious sputum or phlegm as in acute and chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, otitis media w/ effusion and glue ear
b. Precautions: History of gastric or duodenal ulcer & GI bleeding. Pregnancy & lactation
c. Possible side effects: not stated

Second Source: FRIENDS

I ran a quick survey on Facebook and Twitter. And here are some comments:

1. [herbal cough medicine] did not work for me
2. Honey is a natural way to relieve a coughy throat.
3. Fluimucil for productive cough. Tastes bad, but I was told it's the only real mucolytic, haha. Oh, it's not a cough syrup, you mix it with water. : )

Brands used by friends include Ascof Lagundi, Benadryl, Fluimucil, Solmux (capsule), and Tuseran. It seems that most of my friends are synthetic users.

So is it herbal or synthetic?

As the question has become Ascof vs. Solmux, I chanced upon Ascof and Solmux: A Comparison of Two Cough Remedies that seems to point out that making a comparison of the two is not valid.

Summing it up, Ascof may have all the advantages over Solmux. But, these drugs possess dissimilar modes of action. Solmux is a mucolytic while Ascof is a simple cough formula with an anti-asthma effect. Ascof won’t be effective enough if the cough will be involving too much phlegm in the lungs. On the contrary, Solmux will not be also suitable for a simple cough with asthma involved.

It is good that companies advertise their products so that people will be aware of the choices they have. They are empowering for as long as they don't mislead. But it is also our responsibility as consumers to educate ourselves: Read the labels, ask around and consult our doctors.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Deconstructing Public Opinion: Is Hubert Webb guilty? (2nd in Series of 3; UPDATED)

Much can still be learned as we anticipate the results of the Supreme Court deliberation on the Vizconde case and Hubert Webb’s motion for acquittal later this November.

More than ten years ago, we saw how print and broadcast media had been effective in shaping public views which in turn, played an influential role in yielding the results of the trial. Back then, most people relied on what media fed and on what went around as hearsays.

But times have changed. Documents and other important information are now available on the Internet. It just takes a couple of keywords, links and clicks to access them. Hence, the discerning public can now make better-informed opinions.

Now, as we take on the hefty task of deconstructing the old public mindset, it is important to begin with the right frame of mind: Hubert Webb is innocent until proven guilty.

Then, let us challenge our frame of mind by applying logic on hard facts. Such that:

1. IF HUBERT WEBB IS GUILTY, then he must be in the scene of the crime when the Vizconde killings happened.



Hubert Webb is Guilty



Hubert Webb is Innocent

Material Evidences

Supporting Column [A. B]


1. record of departure including ticket, ticket receipt,(with accompanying testimony from raja tours owner Bibay Nolasco), airline manifest (with accompanying testimony from a northwest airline official), passport with departure stamp from the Bureau of Immigration

2. record of entry which includes an F.B.I. report, a note verbal issued by the U.S. government signed by Secretary of State Madeline Albright stating that Hubert Webb was in the U.S. Testified to by no less than both Foreign Affairs Secretary Domingo Siazon and Consul General Leo Herrera Lim

(certification from US Immigration and naturalization service signed (w seal) by Madelaine Albright, Warren Christopher and Atty. General Janet Reno verified proofs/documents by US state secretary (Albright) and FBI (Bob Heafner)

3. records of his stay which include:

Videos - one in Disneyland (testified to by a complete stranger who saw Freddie Webb and decided to take his video, with Hubert seen on the background). Another at Lake Tahoe where he was seen playing in the snow. And lastly, another video at a cousins wedding ceremony.

Records of employment in the form of several encashed checks in his name Hubert Jeffrrey Webb before and after the crime.

California Drivers License aquired during his stay, certified by the Department of Motor Vehicles California.

4. records of his departure from the U.S. which includes again the certification from the U.S. stating his date of departure, airline manifest testified by an authority from Philippine Airlines and passport showing entry into the Philippines. These only prove he was in the United States four months prior and fifteen months after the massacre occured. Hubert has only one record of going to the U.S. He left Manila on March 1991 and arrived back to the Philippines October 1992.

Statements / Testimonies

Supporting Column [A. B]

1. Jessica Alfaro (eye witness) - positively identified Hubert Webb and others as perpetrators

2. Nerissa Rosales and Mila Gaviola* (former housemaids of the Webbs) - one testified that she washed Hubert Webb's shirt with blood stains on stomach and chest areas

3. Carlos Cristobal - doubted if Hubert Webb was the same person who was his co-passenger

4. Lolita Birrer (former live-in partner of Policeman Gerardo Biong) - claimed that Biong helped Hubert Webb and others clean up the crime scene

5. Normal White and Justo Cabanacan (BF Homes security guards) - Cabanacan testified that he flagged down the vehicle of Hubert Webb because it did not have the local village sticker around the last week of May or the first week of June 1991; did not ask for ID nor logged Hubert Webb as visitor since he was the son of then Cong. Freddie Webb, a well-known man

6. Lauro Vizconde - testified that in one of his phone conversations with Carmela when he was still in the USA, Carmela mentioned to him that she had turned down a suitor whom she called "Bagyo," who is a son of a politician in Paranaque and comes from an affluent family. (Carmela never mentioned the identity of the suitor.)

1. Atty. Artemio Sacaguing (NBI) - testified that Alfaro was supposed to bring someone who witnessed the Vizconde killings (as relayed by NBI agent Cresencio "Jun" Nombres) but instead volunteered herself as eyewitness when she could not produce the witness

2. Judge Antonio Carpio (not yet in SC at time of trial) - testified that he had a phone conversation with Sen. Freddie Webb on June 29, 1991 where the latter mentioned that he and his wife were looking for a job for Hubert Webb

3. Rafael Jose, Paolo Santos and Joselito Escobar (friends) - relate despedida party organized for Hubert Webb on March 8, 1991

4. Miguel Munoz (security personnel of former Senator Freddie Webb) - testified that he accompanied Hubert Webb and parents at the airport on March 9, 1991

5. Cristina Magpusao (secretary of Webbs) - testified that she gave money to Hubert Webb for his terminal fee on March 1991

6. Victoria Ventoso (former housemaid of Webbs) - testified that Hubert Webb left for the US sometime in March 1991 and had not come back at the time she left the household in May 1992

7. Gloria Webb (Hubert Webb's aunt), Christopher Esguerra (Gloria's grandson) and Dorothy Wheelock - testified that Hubert Webb was in the States; accompanied Hubert Webb in Lake Tahoe on April 1991)

8. Gary Valenciano (performing artist) - testified that he was introduced to Hubert Webb at the Rodriguez residence in Orlando, Florida, USA in Novermber 1991


1. Alfaro, along with housemaids and security guard, is said to have emerged as witnesses only 4 years after the crime.

2. Alfaro has 2 affidavits dated April 28 and May 22, 1995, which contradict on the ff. items:

a. knowing Carmela prior to the date of the killings;

b. seeing the dead bodies;

c. seeing the alleged rape of Carmela

d. how Webb, Lejano and Ventura entered the house

e. if Alfaro entered the house

3. Court and DOJ Panel ruled that misdescription and inconsistencies did not erode Alfaro’s credibility.

4. DOJ Panel rules that alibi cannot prevail over the positive identification made by a prosecution witness. … claim of alibi is mainly supported by friends and relatives.

5. As per CA, time and space as requisites of acquittal are not supported by clear and convincing evidence; dates of departure and arrival in passport does not fully entail that Hubert Webb is not in the Philippines on June 30, 1991.

6. US Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) certifications, dated August 10 and 31, 1995, respectively, were given little weight by both RTC and CA because of the purported omissions or oversights of certain Phil. or US Officials: (a) Aug 10 cert stated that there was no entry/exit of Hubert Webb on June 29, 1991; (b) Aug 31 cert stated Hubert Webb entered USA on 09 March 1991 and departed only on 26 October 1992. Testimony of Sec. Domingo Siazon, Jr. was deemed to prove the physical receipt and transmittal of docs. but not their content. (See Col B Row 2 #2)

1. Judge Tolentino admitted only 10 out of 142 evidences offered by Hubert Webb.

2. As per Fritz Webb, brother of Hubert Webb, the NBI presented 2 housemaids (and 2 security guards) but only 1 housemaid showed up during the trial. (Addendum as per CA 2005, only White testified.)

3. Defense questioned Alfaro's credibility on the ff. grounds:

a. Contents of Alfaro’s first affidavit;

b. Alfaro’s motive in testifying against Hubert Webb et. Al. – Alfaro allegedly admitted that brother Patrick Alfaro was a drug addict and was arrested once by the NBI for illegal possession of drugs and that he is presently in the United States

c. Educational attainment – cross-examination showed that Alfaro lied in her direct testimony

4. Alfaro was said to be a former NBI asset who was quoted by then NBI Head Agent Artemio Sacaguing saying, “Sir, papapelan ko yan…"

5. Housemaids agency owner’s records show that the maids were no longer with the Webbs when the killings happened on June 30, 1991.

6. Re: INS certifications. Justice Dacudao, in his dissenting opinion, believes that omission was adequately explained by defense; oversight because the rules on protocol and standard procedure were not religiously observed by Phil and US officials.

7. None of the evidences presented by Hubert Webb were proven false or refuted by the Prosecution.

2. IF HUBERT WEBB IS GUILTY, then his DNA should match the semen samples found in the scene of the crime.

But apparently, the semen specimen cannot be located.

Here are the events that took place:

• October 1997 - Hubert Webb requested DNA testing of semen specimen
• November 25, 1997 – RTC Judge Tolentino denied Hubert Webb’s motion for DNA Testing
- Reason was “the proposed DNA examination would not serve the ends of justice but only lead to the complication and confusion of the case”
• April 20, 2010 – SC granted Hubert Webb’s request for DNA testing
• NBI claimed that semen specimen is no longer in its custody – claiming that the specimen was handed to trial court
• Trial court denied NBI claim
• October 2010 – Hubert Webb files an urgent motion for acquittal on the ground that he has been denied “the fullest extent of his constitutional right to due process” because the State can no longer produce the semen specimen that was in its custody.

Is Hubert Webb guilty? The decision is left on the discretion of the reader.

* * *
Deconstructing public opinion is a giant task that ironically requires a simple process. Similarly, the Vizconde-cum-Hubert Webb case should not have been as complicated as it had been if everyone remained true to the essence of the quest for justice for the Vizcondes.

Hopefully, with all these details at hand, the public will be in a better position to make opinions. At the same time, further research on the case - from both sides - is encouraged. May vigilance encourage the SC to come up with a fair and reasonable decision.

Do you think Hubert Webb is innocent? Then “Like” the Justice for Hubert Webb page on Facebook.
Why are we tackling Hubert Webb on Beyond Lipstick and High Heels? Read On Vizconde Massacre, Hubert Webb and the Quest for True Justice (1st in Series of 3).

Need to know more?
11. Philippine Jurisprudence.
14. Urgent Motion to Acquit Hubert Webb, submitted to Supreme Court

Latest Update: 09 Dec 2010

Thursday, November 4, 2010

On Vizconde Massacre, Hubert Webb and the Quest for True Justice (1st in Series of 3)

As we speak of women's issues on this blog, it is impossible to miss one that has gripped the consciousness of Filipinos for years.

The Vizconde Massacre is a harrowing story of violence inflicted against women---a proof that it happens even inside one's own home in a gated community of a bustling city. The brutal killings of the Vizconde women stunned the nation and started a serious quest for justice.

But the quest proved to be a long one. The story of the Vizconde Massacre wasn't just a single story; it varied as told by a number of witnesses. It was hard to tell which made up the truth and the lies.

But to Judge Amelita Tolentino of the Paranaque Regional Trial Court, the truth was the account of star witness Jessica Alfaro. She found Hubert Webb and friends and seven other young men – all scions of wealthy and prominent clans – guilty beyond reasonable doubt hence, sentencing them to life imprisonment. (Note: According to Webb, he only knows two of the seven other accused.)

Justice, then, seemed to have been served.

* * *

Ten years later, the public has taken a revived interest on the Vizconde Massacre albeit, on a different light. Crucial details and untold stories from the trial that ran for years have surfaced. These include a denied request for DNA testing by Hubert Webb's camp, inconsistencies in eye witness accounts, an unacknowledged note verbale from the US government, and so on.

It seems that the quest now has become Justice for Hubert Webb.

* * *

I find all those details disturbing. For somebody who literally grew up with the slow development of the Vizconde Massacre case, I had to rack my brains to find out why I was bent on believing certain things at the time the Paranaque RTC trial ran from 1995 to 2000. (Of course, given my age then, my opinions were not as better-founded as now.)

It has been 15 years since the name of Hubert Webb surfaced as a prime suspect in the Vizconde Massacre. If Hubert Webb was innocent, then it means that he lost 15 years of his life by being kept in bars for a crime he did not do. Likewise, it means that justice has never been really served for the Vizcondes.

The Supreme Court should assess the case of the Vizconde Massacre with a fresh perspective. This time, they should put due consideration to the evidences presented by Webb's camp, which were mostly not accepted by the RTC and Court of Appeals.

I refuse to take a stand regarding the guilt or innocence of Hubert Webb; instead, I call for due process and a fair trial. Justice should not be about putting men behind bars just for the sake of naming perpetrators. It's easy to lose the essence of the quest for justice along the lines of power, politics and personalities.

The Vizconde Massacre remains unsolved.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Faint Phantom Spells

There is a phantom that haunts more women than men.

It triggers feelings of intense sadness, anxiety and weariness. It changes moods, behaviors and to a point, even possesses an entire person.

It is the same phantom that drove Andrea Yates to drown all her five children in the bathtub at her home in Texas, USA in June 2001. About a decade later in Manila, Philippines, the same phantom impelled the mother of Baby George to dump her newborn in the restroom bin of a Gulf Air plane. Both Yates and Baby George’s mother are said to be suffering from postpartum depression and psychosis.

Wikipedia describes Postpartum Depression as:

“a form of clinical depression which can affect women, and less frequently men, after childbirth… occurs in women after they have carried a child, usually in the first few months, and may last up to several months or even a year.”

Postpartum Depression (and its other forms) is commonly attributed to changes in hormones during and after a woman’s pregnancy. However, just like any psychological condition, other causes of postpartum depression are socio-economical. Nurse-midwife researcher Cheryl Tatano Beck, cites a broad range of predictors to postpartum depression, which include smoking, low self esteem, childcare and life stress, low social support, poor marital relationship, single parenthood, low socioeconomic status and unplanned/unwanted pregnancy.

The phantom, however, may not always be as fierce as Yates' or Baby George's mom's. Postpartum depression remains a condition that typical Filipino women won't openly discuss for fear of being labeled baliw (mad woman). For better understanding, postpartum mood changes are classified into three subgroups and are characterized as follows:

1. ‘Baby blues’ – mood swings, feelings of being overwhelmed, tearfulness, impatience, restlessness, anxiety, sadness, low self-esteem, heightened sense of vulnerability (NWHIC)
2. Postpartum mood and anxiety disorders or Postpartum Depression – more intense feelings of sadness, despair, anxiety, and irritability (NWHIC)
3. Postpartum psychosis – extreme form of postpartum depression: losing touch with reality, distorted thinking, delusions, auditory hallucinations, paranoia, hyperactivity, and rapid speech or mania (Phil. Senate)

Given the range of postpartum mood conditions, it's easy to point out that victims do not always end up helpless and powerless against the invisible force. For instance, Brooke Shields and Christine Bersola-Babao openly wrote about their experience in overcoming depression, respectively, in Down Came the Rain and Baby, it's the blues! while model-turned-mom Tweetie de Leon-Gonzales more actively beat her blues with her newfound interest on squash.

These women tell tales of triumph over postpartum depression though many do not share the same stories. A lot of women are not even aware of being possessed by the phantom since it is often hard to tell postpartum blues from an ordinary case of blues.

To make matters worse, treatments do not always come in handy. Being partly driven by socio-economical factors, hormonal treatments are both insufficient and inaccessible to most women. What seems to be really effective is a support group that is conscious of postpartum depression.

Sadly, the Philippines has yet to take a long and mean battle to improve the postnatal conditions of Filipina mothers. Postpartum depression is a condition that may be addressed by the RH Bill through the proposed Reproductive Health Care Program, which is, however, lost in mainstream debates. Again, the RH Bill is not just about contraceptives and what is mistaken to be pro-abortion and "Sex Education." The Bill contains other important provisions that definitely deserve due consideration.

Unless we shed light on these issues, I'm afraid to say that the phantom continues to loom in the dark, just right on our doorsteps.

End Note: I loosely used postpartum depression (PPD) to refer to the postnatal mood changes/conditions for easy reading. Please be guarded by the sub-groups and their classifications.

Sources and More Readings:

Monday, October 25, 2010

My Stand on the RH Bill

UPDATE: See RH Bill: The Lost Equation

This post will not be a petty post. No, this will not be about Carlos Celdran, the CBCP or some famed columnist who's openly expressed his or her stand on the RH Bill. I'm afraid this will not satisfy the appetite of those who are only after the side issues.

My opinion sticks to the RH Bill itself--why it should be passed or not and what are the common misconceptions about it. It will be direct, concise and non-offensive. So if you've been mentally fatigued by the brouhahas of the issue, you might find some sort of respite in reading this blog.

My stand on the RH Bill is, it should be passed.

It is a known fact that the State upholds the rights of each and every individual. And primary to these rights is the individual's freedom to choose; hence, it is the government's responsibility to ensure that this freedom is well taken care of. What the RH Bill seeks to provide are adequate information and services that will enable Filipinos to make informed choices for the best interest of their families.

I must say that in stating my opinion above, I am both for choice and definitely, for life--two things that the RH Bill stands for. Apparently, objections have been improperly hurled against the Bill out of unfounded opinions, which I will discuss one by one in the next few paragraphs.

Myth A - The RH Bill supports abortion. First and foremost, the Bill explicitly states that “abortion remains a crime and is punishable.” Next, although the Bill ensures the provision of care for women seeking post-abortion care, it does not entail that it supports abortion. I believe that by being unbiased and forgiving, the Bill itself is humane and if you may, very Christian. Further, to say that this Bill will eventually allow abortion to be legalized is by no means true on the basis that it declares respect to life as a matter of policy.

Myth B - The RH Bill will result into an aging and thinning population. The RH Bill shall not enforce any restrictions on the number of children that each family should have, as in the case of China's One Child Policy. The RH Bill strives to educate parents to have the right number of children that they can support well physically, mentally and emotionally.

Myth C - The RH Bill destroys the family as an institution. Of course not. It's easy to see that the Bill is created to strengthen the Filipino family simply by reading it. :-)

Myth D - The RH Bill encourages teenage / pre-marital sex through Sex Education. The age-appropriate Reproductive Health Education that will be included in the curriculum of both public and private schools aims to raise children to become informed and responsible parents. Among the key concepts to be covered in the curriculum is “abstinence before marriage.” It is just right to teach these things during the formative years of the individual.

Moving on, the RH Bill must not be reduced to the issue of contraceptives. The Bill goes beyond that. It addresses longstanding issues on gender inequality, violence, STDs and gaps in reproductive healthcare and post-natal care, as well as provides the platform for their execution. It aims to make reproductive healthcare education and services both available and accessible to the marginalized. It seeks to bring people together to ensure improved reproductive health and better families for all.

It particularly interests me that the Bill provides to ensure that employers will not discriminate against women in consideration of their reproductive health rights, and that the Bill also seeks to have reproductive healthcare services included in Collective Bargaining Agreements. (I have indeed heard a firsthand story of a friend who was rejected by the hiring manager of this large and supposedly Corporate Social Responsibility-embracing financial institution with her being a single parent as one of the cited reasons. At this point also, it seems necessary to point out the need to designate clean and private rooms for breastfeeding and expressing milk in offices and public places.)

The Catholic Church is definitely an important institution in the country whose work for the poor has significantly contributed to national development. However, when we talk about policy, the State should supersede the Church being that the latter is just a faction of the population that the State governs.

For years, I have kept my silence on the issue because of having to weigh my convictions. People have asked as it seemed highly unlikely for someone who's written on some women's issues through World of Womanity. I am aware that in breaking my silence, I will be attracting criticisms – some of which may be just as biased and unfounded as the others.

But really, at this point in my life and as a matter of choice, regardless if the RH Bill will be passed or not, I will strive to adhere to my religious principles.

“Fundamentalism flourishes in a context of fear and uncertainty... But such uncertainty does not grant one person the right to impose his or her beliefs on another, especially as such beliefs are so often fear-driven.” - James Hollis, Ph.D., Why Good People Do Bad Things: Understanding Our Darker Selves

Source: Full text of House Bill No. 5043 (Reproductive Health and Population Development Act of 2008)

NEW! These items are worth reading:

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Beauty RX: Cold Milk Therapy

Have you just come from a major-major break up? Well, cry no more and get your high heels ready for sexyback! But wait, what do you do with those swollen eyes???

Here's a tried and tested beauty remedy to reduce eye swelling. The Cold Milk Therapy effectively deflates puffy eyes by soothing the tear ducts and softening the area around the eyes. This is how it goes:

  1. Chill a small bowl of fresh milk for about an hour
  2. Partly dip a cotton ball
  3. Continuously rub them lightly around your eyes - especially on the puffy areas
  4. Wait for 3 to 5 minutes before rinsing
  5. If this doesn't work, saturate two cotton balls then let them rest on your eyes for 5 minutes.

Do you have any other Beauty RX that works? Email them to joyceinheels@yahoo.com.

Photo Credit: Adventures of Fine Non-Gringos

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sariling Pagsusuri ng Suso (Self Breast Exam)

Nurse and youth volunteer of Family Planning Organization of the Philippines - Bulacan Chapter Jam Talag shares the basic process of conducting a self breast exam. The audio is in Filipino.

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Deeper Intimacy

Samantha Jones may now be vintage. And so is her whole shebang of having "sex like a man."

In Love, Sex ... and Respect, an article published at the Westender, Queenslands' leading online newspaper, recent findings from the Durex Sexual Well-being Global Survey entitled "Knowledge and Education" revealed that there is a call for "a greater focus on the emotional side of sex, which may include love, respect and the shared enjoyment of giving pleasure to one’s partner."

Amazingly, this result came from a foreign country, and is shared by 25 other countries, of which "liberated" America is included. Aside from this, a majority (63%) of males surveyed plea for a more holistic sex education.

When taken constructively, the result of this survey can help augment the so-called moral crisis that many, including the Filipino youth, are in. Furthermore, it can help lessen the transmittal sexually-related diseases.

Of course, this is an issue, which is subject to a careful evaluation by both health experts and moral advisers.

Local Source: The Philippine Star 07.Feb.2010 B-12

Image Source: http://i67.photobucket.com/albums/h316/motherpeace61/962687gywpd7qh9n.jpg

Thursday, January 28, 2010


This entry must be re-posted faster than the AIDS virus.

709 cases of HIV/AIDS in the Philippines were recorded by the Department of Health in the first 10 months of 2009 alone. (Source: ABS-CBN News)

Given this, we can say that the number of cases has more than doubled since 2008. (Source: Sun Star Davao) These incidents are actually closer to us than expected - in 2005, 28% of the 12,000 cases reported occurred among women ages 15-49! In fact, many are alarmed by the possibility that HIV is spreading among our youth.

We cannot let the figures increase even more nor waste precious time on debates and whatnots. PREVENTION is a MUST. And the time is NOW.

Much has to be read to come up with a more thorough post. So for now, I’m leaving you with three basic things:
  1. Observe safe sex.
  2. If you have a partner whom you don’t trust, it’s best to leave him/her.
In the meantime, we can start with our readings at MedicineNet.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Tell me who you're dating. And I'll tell you who you are?

For you; in an elderly fashion

Okay. So let's say that you know this guy named Earl all your life. You describe him as a decent guy – a description so befitting his conservative upbringing. At this age, he says that he is still on the lookout for a future wife who wears skirts that are as long as a saya. While others laugh at the impracticality of his perspective, you secretly hope and pray that it's you he'll find.

The Maria Clara consists of four separate pieces: the collarless waist-length, bell sleeved camisa; the bubble-shaped, floor-length saya; the stiff, neck-covering pañuelo; and the hip-hugging, knee length tapis, or overskirt. - Photo and Caption copied from http://www.lcu.edu.hk
But your notion changes the minute you get to talk to Ana-your flamboyant co-worker-in some office after party. As soon as Ana consumes her seventh margarita, her sottish talk shifts to the juicy details of her latest wild night encounter . . . with no less than your clean-shaven, Maria Clara-chasing childhood friend.

How unbelievable – even when you hear of similar stories time and again!

Perhaps you're thankful now that you have no romantic links to Earl. But let's say that there is, aren't you likely to tell him “you're not the man I thought I knew” in a manner so intense that it puts you in the same rank as teleserye queen Bea Alonzo? Meanwhile, can Earl's defense be something as typical as “I can reveal my bad side to Ana and she wouldn't mind”?

I'm sure you agree that confrontations are made of variations of the said lines. And if we take a closer look at them, we realize that they all seem to center on the issue of identity. It makes us wonder: is our man's behavior a reflection of our selves and the kind of relationship that we have? Given this, is it possible that we have arrived at a quixotic version of the overused catchword “tell me who your friends are and I'll tell you who you are”?

Ask around and you'll discover that men like Earl are not likely to show nor talk about their wild side to the woman they respect and intend to marry. On the other hand, they can freely act like total pricks around the women they won't mind to lose or will rather just keep on the friend zone.

It hurts to say this. But perhaps the reason why we seem to be dating all the wrong guys is no less than our very own selves.

So, will you tell me who you are dating now?