Hereditary cancer screening




Every October, the world comes together to celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We get surrounded by a sea of pink – beauty products, clothing, food, and even buildings that get lit up. There have been  advancement in medical research for breast cancer. And the message has always been clear – that early detection can save lives. And yet every year, someone I know gets breast cancer. And from December of last year, I had seven friends who died of cancer (two were male, and of the five females, four had breast cancer). Maybe it’s our age. Maybe I just know too many people.

When I was growing up, no one I knew had cancer. No one in my family had it. None of my parents’ friends had it — until I was a teenager in Toronto, and my mom’s close friend got it and fought it. Just yesterday, I found out two people I know have cancer – breast and esophagus. This is in addition to my long list of survivor friends.

I know way too many people with cancer. And despite how dreadful it is, knowing them gives me hope and strength. And walking them through their treatments has brought me closer to God and made me more aware of my own mortality. My friends who have had cancer are among the kindest and most giving people I know. Maybe its living with gratitude every day that makes them feel the grace of God. From them I learned that cancer isn’t always a death sentence — that early detection saves lives.

I looked through my files and found a lot of pink ribbon campaigns and breast cancer awareness events from the past. My best friend from childhood, Mel Lerma, is the country manager of Estee Lauder. And they are the leading organization in fund raising for breast cancer research. So I naturally supported Mel from Day 1. I also was given the gift of getting to know I Can Serve‘s Kara Magsanoc-Alipala really well. Kara is truly a blessing to so many. She is like a sister – so full of love and clarity. I Can Serve helps a lot of women via high impact information campaigns and community-based screening programs. Then there are prayer warriors outside the pink ribbon campaigns – my brother in law, my spiritual community at my kids’ school, and strangers I see when I sit in random chapels. People fight cancer with information, research, surgery, medicine, and faith.

Here are some photos from previous pink ribbon campaigns and events —


Mel Lerma and Daphne Oseña-Paez
With Mel in 2012, when Estee Lauder lit up the Ayala Museum in pink.


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Supporting my friend’s advocacy with Rustan’s Anton Huang, Estee Lauder’s Mel Lerma, and Rovilson Fernandez back in 2012.


Rhoda Aldanese of Rustans, Arnold Vegafrea, Daphne Osena and
Another Estee Lauder event with Rhoda Aldanese of Rustans, Arnold Vegafrea and breast cancer survivor Maritoni Fernandez in 2008.


With Mel at Estee Lauder pink ribbon event in Peninsula Manila in 2014.


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Just last month at the recent I Can Serve fundraiser with co-founder and breast cancer survivor Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala.


Me and Kara last July 2015 at St Luke’s Global City, where I moderated discussions on radiation therapy.


My super friend and awesome breast cancer survivor Alya Honasan of Philippine Daily Inquirer and St Luke’s radiation doctor.


Last 2014, I hosted a portion of I Can Serve’s annual party with Kara.


I volunteered to man the I Can Serve booth in Rockwell in 2014. I do not hold an official title with I Can Serve. I just volunteer my services.


With breast cancer survivor volunteers and I Can Serve’s co-founder Crissan Celdran (on far right). Crissan is a survivor of Stage 3 breast cancer from fifteen years ago. These are the bravest, kindest, and most generous women I know. They provide a community of support.


Recently I learned more about hereditary cancer while hosting an event for Philippine Medical Oncologists presented by Hi-Precision Diagnostics. Hi-Precision Diagnostics is a medical diagnostic clinic that exclusively carries the the Myriad myRisk™ test in the Philippines. About 10% of people afflicted with breast cancer acquired it because of genetics/hereditary.

The Myriad myRisk™ test is the same one that Angelina Jolie took which determined she was carrying a faulty gene known as the BRCA1. This meant she had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer. This led to her decision to have a preventive double mastectomy and have her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed. There are many arguments for and against Angelina’s drastic move. You may read Angelina’s journal, “My Medical Choice”.

Though the Myriad myRisk™ Hereditary Cancer Test is a giant leap in detecting potential cancers, it is not a test that’s necessary for everybody. Only those who are at high risk, with family history of cancer, should consider doing this test under the care of an oncologist.

The process is quick and virtually painless. By utilizing blood and saliva samples for their advanced laboratory analysis, as well as a scientifically-proven Hereditary Cancer Quiz, Myriad myRisk™ calculates both physiological and historical risks of cancer leading to a more well-rounded diagnosis. Through this, Myriad myRisk™ provides clear direction for patients for treatment or prevention, through specific medical management recommendations.


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I moderated the discussion about Hereditary Cancer Risk Assessment at a recent convention for Philippine oncologists.


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Here are some of the tests offered by Hi-Precision — Myriad myRisk™, one of Myriad’s most effective cancer-detection diagnosis, utilizes a 25-gene panel that efficiently and expediently identifies the elevated risks of eight types of cancers, among them breast, ovarian, gastric, colorectal, pancreatic, melanoma, prostate, and endometrial. Providing clear insights into cancer risks among patients by blending genetic testing status with hereditary cancer history, Myriad myRisk™ assesses the possibilities of cancer occurrences in an individual, leading to clinically actionable diagnoses.


A few days ago, I visited Hi-Precision Diagnostics’ head office where their laboratory is located. Here with Hi-Precision’s Melissa Ongsue-Lee and Vanessa Ongsue.


Vanessa showed me around the very impressive diagnostic labs. All analysis and lab work for Myriad tests are flown abroad. Only the sample extraction is done locally.


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With Dr Mariano Atacador, Melissa Ongsue-Lee, Lionell Lee, Myriad’s Andrea Tesoriero, Vanessa Ongsue, Carewell’s Robert Suntay.


For more info on Myriad genetic cancer screening tests —

Facebook: hpdiagnostics
Twitter: @HP_Diagnostics
Instagram: @hiprecisiondiagnostics
Head Office Corporate Hotline: +63 2 863-9999

Belo is Number One in Botox and Juvederm



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Belo Medical Group, the Philippines’ top aesthetic dermatology and cosmetic surgery clinic, has been awarded by Allergan Healthcare Philippines as the No. 1 Account for Botox and Juvederm line of dermatological fillers. This is on top of being the Platinum Awardee in 2012 for being the No. 1 Botox clinic for 10 consecutive years.

These recognitions are a testament to Belo’s unparalleled medical expertise in the field of beauty. Belo Medical Group doctors undergo training both locally and internationally. Specialists from across the world come to Belo to train its doctors.


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Divine Diva Zsa Zsa Padilla, Dr. Vicki Belo and DJ Tony Toni of Boys Night Out


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Marcus Tan, Business Unit Head for Facial Aesthetics and Neuroscience for Singapore, Malaysia and Philippines, giving the No. 1 Allergan Account in the Philippines Award for Botox and Juvederm line of dermal fillers to Dr. Vicki Belo, “Doctor to the Stars” and CEO and Founder of Belo Medical Group.


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Belo Medical Group’s Medical Operations Manager Dr. Regina Llorin and Dr. Raj Acquilla, Masterclass Trainer, UK Ambassador and Global Key Opinion Leader in Facial Medical Aesthetics.


For more information on Belo Medical Group’s services, visit



La Mer’s Blue Heart



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Hawaii, Lanai, School of Yellow Tangs (Zebrasoma flavescens) in the Hulupoe Bay Marine Preserve. Photo from National Geographic Society ID1934245.


Today, June 8th, is World Oceans Day. It was established in 1992 and made official by the United Nations in 2009. This is a time to recognize the importance of the sea as a vital ecosystem and to take action to preserve its delicate habitats and wildlife, after all 70% of the earth’s surface is covered by oceans.


My scuba diving self in the past.


When I first visited the Philippines after my parents settled us abroad, I had my first snorkelling experience in Anilao, Batangas. There, just outside my uncle’s beach house, I saw so many colourful fish and corals. I fell in love with the ocean. Soon after that, I got my open water diving license. This was during the early 90’s. When I moved here for work, I spent every weekend scuba diving. Though diving was a social “sport” – traveling to different islands with friends and cousins – it was a very solitary experience once you go down the water. It’s just you and your breathing apparatus. I remember feeling so close to God when I used to dive. It was a beautiful world down there. It gave me a deeper understanding of environmental issues. I have since hung up my dive gear in year 2000. Nowadays, I’m too scared of the sun (wrinkles) to spend hours in the water.

Speaking of anti-aging, La Mer has always taken inspiration from the sea. La Mer’s founder, Dr. Max Huber, pioneered the use of sea kelp in the cream that renewed and restored the look of his skin. To this day, La Mer continues to help support the natural habitat of this special sea plant by only using sea kelp that has been sustainably hand harvested. Inspired by the sea, La Mer is sharing its Blue Heart through a commitment to supporting the protection of ocean habitats for generations to come.

This year, after supporting ocean conservation efforts for the past decade, La Mer continues its global partnership with the National Geographic Society and its next generation of ocean explorers. In 2015, La Mer will support two new explorers: Dr. David Gruber and Shannon Switzer.


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Shannon Switzer is a social scientist using film and photography as a tool to help coastal and island communities to manage their own resources in a sustainable way. Shannon is working in South East Asia and Oceania.


Here is Shannon’s photo diary from her work in the Philippines. All captions are by Shannon.


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I got started in underwater photography documenting my friends having fun on waves. That evolved into shooting while free diving, as I was doing here, making images of spinner dolphins on Oahu’s coast. Photo by Morgan Hoesterrey


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The Philippines are in what is known as “Typhoon Alley” and are constantly hammered by strong tropical storms (sic). The largest and strongest ever recorded hit in November 2013, causing widespread devastation. Here in the Verde Island Passage of Oriental Mindoro, though not directly hit, they had strong winds and rain and experienced a great deal of erosion. Sandbags can only do so much.


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This is Clark Bautista. He was also an enormous help in connecting me with fishermen and gaining insight into the management of marine protected areas in the region at higher levels of governance as he works in the Fisheries Management Office. He also showed me some of the best places to snorkel and dive.


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Not only do the mangroves provide protection for community members, they also act as a nursery for marine life and help sustain a healthy fishery. Men and women both fish in different ways. Here women and children ‘glean’ small fish, crustaceans, and mollusks from the exposed reef at low tide. The mangroves help continuously replenish these fauna.


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I had the opportunity to join two fishermen from Silonay on one of their forays. They leave at four in the morning to be on the water at dawn’s first light. Fish are one of the only reliable sources of protein for residents, and over the last few decades their numbers have been declining. A big hope for the mangrove restoration project is to reverse this decline, and in combination with reasonable fishing regulations that both support the fishermen and help sustain the fish population, there are signs of recovery.


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A key part of the program is having visitors plant mangrove propagules, shown in the foreground here. They pay to come as a group and plant them and the proceeds go back into sustaining the project. This was a group of Korean students, and two girls from Silonay joined in the fun—the plantings seemed to always end in mud fights.


To commemorate World Oceans Day, a 100ml jar of Crème de la Mer with a new limited-edition design will be available May through June 2015. For the first time, the jar design will be inscribed with ‘Blue Heart’ to communicate the brand’s ongoing goal of supporting the protection of the blue heart of our planet, the ocean. Purchase of the commemorative Crème de la Mer does not impact La Mer’s Blue Heart charitable donation. La Mer has donated over $2.6 million since 2008 to help promote ocean conservation efforts globally.


100ml Crème de La Mer Limited Edition World Ocean’s Day. Exclusively Available at Rustan’s Makati (812-2507), Rustan’s Shangri-La (633-4636) and Rustan’s Cebu (6332-231-1166). Retail Price PHP 24,300



Picosure at Belo Medical Group



I attended the Belo Medical Group’s launch of Picosure a few days ago at Greenbelt’s The Residences. It is always such a pleasure to see both Dr Vicki Belo and Cristalle. I love their energy. No doubt, Belo Medical Group has been the leader in revolutionizing the beauty/medical industry for 25 years. Now they just introduced Picosure, the world’s fastest laser and the biggest breakthrough in laser technology.


I love Dr Vicki Belo. She always compliments my skin when she sees me – “no pores, no spots, no makeup!” She always asks me which of her treatments I’m doing. And since I started going to Belo Medical Group in 2008, all I’ve been doing is a simple facial and Powerpeel. I used to go every two weeks (when I was still on TV). But now that I don’t have a regular show, I just go every three weeks.


With interior design sisters Cynthia & Ivy Almario and Yvette Fernandez.


At the launch – Distribution Manager of Cynosure, Michael Byers, Cristalle Belo Henares, Vicky Belo, and host Grace Lee.


Picosure was introduced to the media by Michael Byers from Cynosure the makers of the machine. Dr Belo kept teasing him that he looked like Keanu Reeves. The crowd loved it. Michael explained that Picosure is faster than the conventional nanosecond laser machines. Operating in picoseconds, Picosure uses a patented technology called Pressure Wave which utilizes light pulses instead of heat that prevents damage on the surrounding areas of the skin.

Picosure is best used for tattoo removal, acne scar treatment, removal of pigmented lesions and wrinkle treatment. This same technology makes it more effective in breaking down skin pigmentations, inducing collagen production for skin rejuvenation and improvement of acne scars. With Focus Lense, Picosure’s benefits become even more effective by concentrating light pulses through targeted areas in the face and neck. Also, tattoo is no longer permanent with Picosure. This beauty machine breaks down the stubborn pigments into sand-like property which makes it is easier to remove from the body.


The face of Picosure is Alice Dixson, who proudly announced she was 45 years old.


Jordan Shen, Field Marketing Specialist for APAC of Cynosure, Michael Byers, Distribution Manager for APAC of Cynosure and Mr. Doron Glazer, Chief Executive Office of Spectrumed


“What makes this machine so wonderful is that with Picosure, it requires fewer treatments. You can also combine it with Belo’s Collagen powder drink to help the skin become more supple and firm” says Cristalle Belo Henares.


PicoSure’s ultra-short pulse duration goes beyond photothermal action creating an intense photomechanical impact, patented PressureWave™, resulting in greater disruption of the target for better clearance with fewer treatments, less fluence and without injury to the surrounding skin. Even dark, stubborn blue and green inks, as well as previously-treated, recalcitrant tattoos can be removed. Source.


PicoSure laser focuses on your problem areas whether it’s brown spots, sun damage, freckles, pigmented lesions or acne scars. PicoSure offers a gentler treatment. In the past, lasers have relied on intense heat energy to remove pigment from the skin, which may be painful and lead to significant skin redness and downtime. Source.


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Traditional nanosecond lasers predominately rely on photothermal action, delivering heat to the pigment and surrounding tissue. PicoSure takes advantage of PressureWave Technology to shatter the target ink into tiny particles that are easily eliminated by the body.


For more information on Picosure, check out, Belo Medical in Facebook, or locally call 819 BELO (2356), US inquiries call 1-310 742 4843.



Watsons Switch and Save



Christian Bautista is Watson’s newest endorser.


Watsons invited me to shop at their Mall of Asia store to experience the benefits of Switch and Save. I’m all for smart shopping especially because I have a huge household. We go through so many consumer goods to address the needs of my kids, our hygiene, my kitchen, our staff. So whenever possible, I try my best to find ways of savings. Usually this means buying in bulk in order to save in the long run.

Watsons has personal care items, beauty essentials, and even medicines. It is Asia’s leading personal care store, offering a wider variety of products under its own label, giving smart shoppers the choice to save as much as 80% without compromising on quality.

The newest celebrity endorser to support Watsons is singer Christian Bautista. “I’ve always enjoyed shopping at Watsons because it’s very convenient, their store layout is very organized so its easy to find whatever you are looking for and of course they always have those great deals on the products I often buy,” Christian shared. “As a singer, I really have to be extra careful of my oral hygiene so I always have a ready charcoal toothbrush, mouthwash, breath strips and even dental floss in my bag.”


Christian’s Watsons essentials include 01 Triple Blade Disposable Razors,  02 Breath Strips,  03 Tartar Control Mouthwash,  04 Charcoal Toothbrush.


With Ms. Viki Encarnacion, Watsons Marketing Director
With Ms. Viki Encarnacion, Watsons Marketing Director


Here’s are some beauty items that  I bought during my visit.  01 Watsons Foot Ease Soothing leg gel, cooling leg spray, gel cushions, save up to 77%,  02 Watsons 3 in 1 Hair set, save 71% compared to a branded item,  03 Watsons Firming & Moisturising Facial Mask,  04 Watsons Dental Floss, save 76% compared to a branded version,  05 Watsons Milk & Salt Scrub, save 57%,  06 Watsons Cream Hand Soap.


Just like Christian Bautista, you too can maximize your purchasing power allowing you to spend more on the things you really want in life. It’s definitely a lot easier to enjoy what life has to offer when you choose to Switch and Save the Watsons way.

Watsons Label believes that with more value from hard-earned money spent on quality affordable products, every Filipino gets more savings to enjoy the other important things in life with their loved ones.

Drop by any Watsons stores and enjoy more savings with the “Shop to Save” promo. Get a free P300 coupon with a minimum single-receipt purchase of P1500 from the participating Watsons Label products and exclusive participating brands. Promo will run until May 20, 2015!