Red Cross, a pillar of hope
INTROSPECTIVE - Tony Katigbak (The Philippine Star) - December 18, 2018 - 12:00am

This coming yuletide season I hope we get a much-needed break from all the hullaballoo surrounding our politicians and the upcoming elections. I know that the moment 2019 comes in that is all we are going to hear about so may as well try to tune it out for now – at least for a while as we celebrate Christmas and find ways to be grateful for all the blessings we have received.

2018 has been a challenging year – to say the least. It has been harder for some more than others. We’ve seen a lot of bad things happen, seen the cost of goods and services skyrocket, and seen many fears of corruption and government instability come to pass. Personally, I am quite anxious for the year to be over and to move on. Hopefully 2019 has better things in store for the country and for all of us.

But still, I have always been the type to try to find things to be grateful for despite hardships. Because, after all, there is truth in the adage that there is always a silver lining and despite the challenges the year has brought, if we look hard enough I’m sure we can still find reasons to be grateful.

The holiday season is always a good time to look at, not just our blessings, but to see how we can become blessings to others too. After all, we know that there are so many Filipinos in need and their situation can get even direr during the Christmas season. That is why there is usually a higher crime rate during the holidays or depression is at an all time high. There is nothing harder than being reminded that you should be buying presents, and feasting, and celebrating with loved ones if simply you can’t.

I really respect organizations that do their part in helping poor Filipinos or those who are victims of war or disaster. Not just during the holidays but all throughout the year. The Red Cross (or Red Crescent) has always been an organization that I think really upholds its mission of helping those in great need. Whether it’s a normal day or times of natural disasters or wars, Red Cross does its best to give hope to those who need it most – even going so far as being on the ground in times of conflict. I laud their efforts.

I remember when we wanted to send donations to those affected by the massive typhoons our family would put together our donations of canned goods and medicines, and clothes and toiletries and bring them over to our local Red Cross chapter to be sent to those who needed them most. I appreciate all the good work they do not just in here but all over the world as well.

I was glad to see a full-page feature on the Red Cross in the newspaper the other day and on the chairman Senator Richard J. Gordon. He was quoted saying that if he was forced to choose between being a senator and being with the Red Cross, he would “always choose to be with the Red Cross.” I truly believe in the sincerity of Dick Gordon who I have known since he was a mayor of Olongapo City. Despite not seeing him often, we remain good friends. He has been a true volunteer throughout the years and a valuable public servant.

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It’s truly alarming when the news is about rising incidence of disease in the country. Despite modern medicine keeping people alive longer and helping us combat disease it seems that stress from the fast-paced world, sedentary lifestyles, and bad eating habits have made disease incidence increase in the country.

In the Philippines, kidney experts are alarmed by the increase in the number of patients with end-stage renal diseases. The number has gone up roughly 15 percent since 2010 and the number of kidney donors is just not matching the speed of the disease spread.

When I was younger I had a kidney operation at San Juan de Dios hospital. When I was older I faced further kidney issues when I had kidney stones. I had to go to a treatment center to have the stones “crushed.” And while I was fortunate enough to not have to require further kidney treatment, I was always surprised at the number of people who – like me – experienced kidney issues throughout their lives.

Our kidneys work extremely hard and we have to do our best to protect them. Doctors advise we drink at least eight glasses of water a day, keep fit and active, maintain good blood pressure and control your sugar, and only take medicines when absolutely necessary and under the supervision of your doctor.

As with most things, we are in control of our own health and we need to actively participate in preventive measures to avoid health problems down the line.

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