Win the battle!

THE PEPPER MILL - Pepper Teehankee - The Philippine Star

Actress Kim Chiu, musician Arnel Pineda and Olympian Michael Christian Martinez apparently share something in common with actress Sharon Stone, singer Billy Joel and football legend David Beckham — all of them had to battle and overcome asthma.

 It is estimated that asthma affects around 235 million people worldwide with 250,000 annual worldwide deaths recorded. In the Philippines, there are over 10 million cases of people with asthma. It remains the most common chronic disease of children as measured by school absences, emergency visits and hospitalizations. Asthma can become a serious condition but it can be controlled. Access to doctors and treatment has been shown to significantly decrease asthma deaths and hospitalizations. People with asthma can lead normal and active lives.

This is the rationale behind the “Search for Winners Against Asthma,” which Kim, Arnel and Michael advocate.  Led by global healthcare company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the campaign was launched at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel and seeks to recognize 10 young asthmatic achievers from different walks of life.

The event, hosted by Sam Purvor and graced by Kim Chiu, had resource speakers Dr. Kim Silos and Dr. Bernadette Arcilla.

Kim shared that she suffered from asthma since high school. She was quite an active student and played sports like volleyball, basketball and even sipa, until one day she experienced sudden coughing and unexplained shortness of breath. That was the time she learned that she had asthma.

Kim said that it’s quite difficult to be an asthmatic in showbiz because of long working hours that result in erratic sleeping habits. Working with her doctor, Kim has learned to manage her asthma by always having her medications handy at all times. Kim recognizes that being asthmatic comes with a lot of restrictions. However, she does not allow her asthma to stop her from doing what she loves to do. She heeds the advice of her doctor but doesn’t “baby” her sickness to the point of limiting herself. She said, “If I baby my asthma, I will miss half of my life. I am always ready with my medication and I moderate my physical activities.”







Although he wasn’t able to attend the launch, the country’s  very first Olympic figure skater Michael Christian Martinez gamely answered questions via phone patch. Michael shared he began experiencing asthmatic bronchitis when he was just two months old and recalled being in the hospital frequently, sometimes alternating with her sister who also had asthma. “It was hard in the beginning as I was not active in any sport due to my condition, but eventually being in the cold rink helped improve my health. Year after year my health keeps  improving, so my mother fully supports me to continue skating, saying it’s better to spend the money on skating than on medical bills,” Michael said.

The Search for Winners Against Asthma is a nationwide search for young asthmatic achievers aged 30 years and younger who are outstanding in their respective fields. The search will run from February until May. The search committee will also be touring different schools and drugstore outlets to spread the advocacy and invite more people to join the campaign.

The deadline for submission of entries is on March 31. All entries will be screened in the first week of April. As we celebrate World Asthma Day on May 5, the Top 20 finalists will be announced and will immediately be followed by online voting.  The Top 10 Winners Against Asthma will be announced and awarded on the third week of May.

This advocacy campaign is supported by the Philippine College of Physicians, Philippine Academy of Family Physicians, Philippine Society of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, Huawei and Folded & Hung.

(For more information, visit www.facebook.com/winagainstasthma.)

A toast to entrepreneurship

Seven enterprising Filipinos were recognized as winners of the 12th Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards (CMA) in a ceremony held at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

The awardees were feted by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. and Citi Philippines CEO Batara Sianturi together with a distinguished panel of judges that included leaders from the private sector, the academe and public office.

Manufacturer of sautéed shrimp paste and anchovy sauces Teresita Valdez from Bulacan was hailed as the national winner. Joining Valdez in the roster were the regional awardees: seafood buyer and dealer Ernani Llema for Luzon, squid rings manufacturer Teresita Nicanor for Visayas and coffee shop owner Edamil Patta for Mindanao. 

Sianturi said, “Each year, we find ourselves in a very difficult position of choosing our winners. Even after 12 years, it is very clear that there continues to be great wealth in this country when it comes to men and women who have escaped extreme poverty and brought prosperity to their families and to their communities through sheer grit and determination.”

The CMA is a yearly collaboration of the BSP, the Microfinance Council of the Philippines Inc. (MCPI) and Citi Philippines. Funded by the Citi Foundation, the CMA gives recognition to outstanding microfinance clients who have used microfinance and entrepreneurship to improve their lives as well as their communities. This award-winning public-private-civic partnership launched in 2002 has become a strong recognition of the good work many microfinance practitioners do to alleviate poverty and promote inclusive growth. The program also reached a new milestone of having recognized 100 men and women for their stories of hope and triumph over poverty through entrepreneurship.

Tetangco said, “We continue to see how microfinance empowers, transforms and uplifts individuals, families, even communities. In particular, the stories of our CMA finalists and awardees attest how humble beginnings can grow to progressive businesses with higher incomes because they gained access to finance and microcredit. Let us continue to find ways to maximize the opportunities and benefits we can derive from microfinance.”

Special awards were given to Johnny Laraño, an advocate of modern farming, who won the Agri-Microbusiness award; Purificacion Tagulinao, a pandan craftsmaker who won the award for innovation; and Rosma Cabillon, a seaweed, squid and crabs buyer and seller who won the community leadership award.

Valdez and the six other winners received cash prizes totaling P870,000 and will also be provided a scholarship to a four-week entrepreneurship training at the Citi Microenterprise Development Center in Quezon City. They also each won a laptop, computer training and health and life insurance coverage.

After a successful launch in the Philippines, the CMA is now a global program. Sianturi added, “The global adaptation of the CMA in over 30 other countries around the world proves that Citi, together with committed stakeholders such as the BSP and MCPI, will continue to seed opportunities and programs to improve the welfare of microentrepreneurs.” (Follow me on Instagram @pepperteehankee.)











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