Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Knights of Columbus in the Philippines

The Knight of Columbus is a Roman Catholic, family, fraternal and service organization which is a member of International Alliance of Catholic Knights. It is the world’s largest fraternal service organization. The order operates with blessings of the church, and helps it in its endeavor to reach out to the faithful and to serve the community. Recognizing the effort of the order, Pope John Paul II said that the Knight of Columbus is the “strong arm of the church”. The order involves itself in charitable and humanitarian activities such as helping victims of calamities like typhoon, giving donations and paying visits to the sick and needy in such institutions as hospitals and orphanages. Knights, as what the members of the order are called, also provide free and voluntary service to the community on endeavors that can help the people and the local government. With sense of fraternity, knights foster strong bond of relationship with each other and help each other in their time of needs.  

Father Michael J. Mcgivney (August 12, 1852-August 14, 1890), an Irish-American Catholic priest from New Haven, Connecticut founded the Knight of Columbus on March 29, 1882. The son of Irish immigrant parents, Father Mcgivney saw the hardships of Catholic families in the search of livelihood in a Protestant Anglo-Saxon dominated society. Their situation was exacerbated during a loss of a breadwinner in the family. Surviving members had to cope with the lack of income and finding job. To deal with the problem affecting the Catholic families, Fr. Mcgivney established a mutual benefit society that could provide a sort of insurance system to the families. Fr. Mcgivney also noticed that Catholics were barred from joining labor unions. And by policy of the Catholic Church, a catholic could not join fraternal organization such as the Free Masonry. On that background, a new catholic organization was conceived.

The explorer Christopher Columbus, a catholic who served under Queen Isabella I of Catholic Spain, was the person who opened the door of the American continent for European settlement and Christian evangelization. He was considered a hero during Father Mcgivney’s time. But the young priest was some sort of disappointed to observe that catholic immigrants were marginalized in the predominantly protestant society. He originally thought of a name “The Sons of Columbus” for his organization.  The word “Columbus” was some sort of a mild rebuke to the “Anglo-Saxon” leaders to stress that Catholicism had a role in the founding of the United States.  The word “sons” was replaced with the word “knights” after James T. Mullen who would later become Supreme Knight successfully suggested that “knights” would better describe the ritualistic nature of the organization. Thus the name “Knights of Columbus” was adopted for the new organization.

In the Philippines, the first members of Knights of Columbus were American army and navy soldiers who established the first council which was Council 1000 on April 23, 1905, in Intramurus, Manila. Its first Grand Knight was Richard Campbell. Atty. Gabriel LaO was elected as the first Filipino Grand Knight. In 1947, Fr. George J. Willmann was granted by the Supreme Council in the expand the number of council in the Philippines. In 1948 the first Knights of Columbus district was established composed of Manila Council 1000, and the newly constituted councils: Cebu Council 3106, and Cagayan de Oro Council 3108. Father Willmann was the first District Deputy who served until 1953. In March 1, 1954, Supreme Knight Luke Hart appointed Fr. Willmann to the title of Territorial Deputy which he held until 1961. By 1962, he was made the first Philippine State Deputy as a result of the emergence of more than 100 councils in the Philippines. Father Willmann served in that capacity until his death at age 89. According to past Supreme Knight Virgil Dechant he was the Father Michael J. Mcgivney of the Philippines. Former Senator and Ambassador Oscar Ledesma succeeded Fr. Willmann as the Philippine State Deputy from 1977 to 1983. He was instrumental in the creation of three Assistant State Deputy positions of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Mardonio Santos succeeded Ledesma in 1983. During his term, the order saw enormous growth of membership. On July 1989, the Philippine Jurisdiction was divided into three states of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. And the Assistant Philippine Deputies were then automatically appointed to be the first State Deputies of their respective areas.

A knight is dedicated to the principles of charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism.  Charity is the first principle of a knight which calls for generosity in sharing his material resources and services especially to the poor and less fortunate people. Unity is the solidarity or the spirit of teamwork among knights in the attainment of the order’s goals and activities. Fraternity is the spirit of brotherhood and camaraderie that bind a knight with another. Patriotism is the unselfish love and duty for the country. A knight’s adherence to the constitution and service to the government are in line with this principle.

Hierarchy in knights’ ranks is categorized in four degrees. The first degree is the lowest and the fourth degree is the highest. Each degree, in ascending order, embodies the core principles of charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism. To qualify as a knight, a gentleman must be 18 years old and above, and that he must be a practical Roman Catholic. He undergoes a closed ritualistic initiation called exemplification to become a first degree knight. In that level he embodies the principle of charity. He climbs into the ladder of hierarchy by following the rules set by the Knight of Columbus. He should also recruit a new member to reach the second degree. A third degree exemplification brings a knight closer to full knighthood. The fourth degree which embodies the principle of patriotism brings the knight to the apex of the knights’ hierarchy and bestows on him the title as a “sir knight”.  An elaborate rite participated in by the color corps, top officials of the assembly and clergy and attended by family members and guests characterized the exemplification to the fourth degree.  In that degree a knight can qualify as an elected officer of a council or an assembly. A fourth degree knight can have the regalia consisting of chapeau, baldric, cape, tuxedo or white dinner jacket, a bow tie, a glove and a sword upon purchase. On his option he can join the color corps which is the most visible group of the order. Priests who desire to become knight do not participate directly in degree exemplification as laymen do, but rather take the degree by observation.

The council is the lowest and the basic unit of the order. It comprised of knights of all degree. Only 4th degree knights are eligible to become an officer of the council. Officers are elected by knights of the council except the Financial Secretary who is appointed by the Supreme Knight who is based in USA. The highest officer of the council is the Grand Knight. The council holds a meeting every first Sunday of the month. The assembly is composed of fourth degree knights of member councils who hold meeting every fourth Sunday of the month. It also elects its own officers. The highest officer of the assembly is called the navigator. Councils and assemblies usually establish their headquarters at the parish or church they are connected with. The assemblies and councils are overseen by a district whose head is the District Deputy. The Philippines is divided into four states of the Knight of Columbus which are the North Luzon, the South Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao. Each state is a jurisdiction of an officer who is called the Deputy. The highest authority of Knight of Columbus units the world over is the Supreme Council in 1 Columbus Plaza, New Haven, Connecticut, USA which is headed by the Supreme Knight who at present is Carl A. Anderson.  
                                              Council                                     Assembly             
                                        Grand Knight                                   Navigator 
                                           Chaplain                                             Friar
                                  Deputy Grand Knight                            Captain
                                           Chancellor                                     Admiral
                                             Recorder                                        Scribe
                                    Financial Secretary                               Comptroller
                                           Treasurer                                            Purser
                                            Lecturer                                         Non Existent
                                            Advocate                                       Non Existent
                                             Warden                                             Pilot
                                        Inside Guard                                    Inner Sentinel
                                       Outside Guard                                 Outer Sentinel
                                  Trustee (Three Year)                       Trustee (Three Year)
                                    Trustee (Two Year)                         Trustee (Two Year)
                                    Trustee (One Year)                          Trustee (One Year)
                                        Non Existent                            Color Corps Commander
                                        (Above is list of officers of council and assembly)

Knights follow a military like protocol and parliamentary procedures during their meetings. In the council level the title of officers is prefixed with “worthy”.  A Grand Knight is thus addressed “worthy Grand Knight”. In the assembly the title of the officers is prefixed with “faithful” and in a meeting a knight should say “faithful navigator”. Utmost respect is rendered to the Grand Knight, Navigator, top officers of the district and state and the clergy during official meetings and other gatherings.

The original purpose on which Knight of Columbus was founded which is to provide financial assistance to members during times of needs and misfortune has lived on. Relative to it, the Knight of Columbus has in its system the provision of voluntary insurance which is exclusive to the members of the order. The U.S. Knight of Columbus is an organization with over a billion of US dollar in assets. Its financial program has generated 2 million insurance contracts totaling US 90 billion dollars in life insurance that is in force and backed up by US $21 billion in assets as of 2014. In 2013, its insurance program has a surplus of US $1.8 billion. Knight of Columbus ranked 900 in total revenue in 2011 according to Fortune’s 1,000 list. The financial benefits however cannot be extended to the Philippines because of restriction on laws between the country and the U.S.

In the Philippines, in 1958, Fr. George J. Willmann founded the Knight of Columbus Fraternal Association of the Philippines, Inc., or KCFAPI. It was incorporated as a non-stock corporation. On September 9, 1958, KCFAPI was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and was duly licensed to operate an insurance system that would cater exclusively to the members of Knights of Columbus.  With its insurance programs, the association provides knights following advantages: one is that they become a co-owner of the association when they apply for insurance: another benefit for them is that the insurance transaction is tax free and exclusive to the members of the Knight of Columbus. KCFAPI has subsidiary companies that could enhance its financial status. Income of the association is used to pay for the proceeds due to the members, to spend on charitable and humanitarian activities and to fund the scholarship of seminarians.

Some world famous figures who are members of the Knight of Columbus include the late President John F. Kennedy of USA, his brother Ted, the legendary baseball legend Babe Ruth, former World Heavyweight boxing champion Floyd Patterson, Jeb Bush and two-time Medal of Honor recipient Daniel Day. In the Philippines, some of famous Knights of Columbus members include the late former Senator Oscar Ledesma, former Supreme Court justice Hilario Davide, Justice Jose Reyes, and Jaime Cardinal Sin. The list of famous knights is not limited to the names that are mentioned in this paragraph.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Is Guyabano a Cure for Cancer?

A plant that is common in the Philippine, guyabano is drawing interest especially to health conscious individuals and to those with health issues. It is called soursop or guyabano in English, graviola in Portuguese and guanabana in Spanish. In the southern part of the Philippines it is called “abana”, a name that is perhaps a corruption of the Spanish guanabana. Guyabano is said to have originated from South America, and is now cultivated in many parts of the world especially in places where there are hot tropical climate. In the Philippines Guyabano might have found its way in the Philippines through the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade during the Spanish colonial era. 

The Guyabano plant is a small tree with small elliptical leaves and an oddly shaped unattractive flower with thick petals. The thin rind of its fruit is surrounded with soft pricks. Inside the fruit is a juicy white pulpy flesh and inedible black seeds. The flesh has a sweet and sour taste. The evergreen fruit is usually harvested when matured and kept in a place to ripen after several days.

Guyabano used to be planted only in the backyard for its fruit. The fruit is ranked low in Filipino preference. It is not as popular as some native fruits such as banana, melon, avocado, mango, durian and other fruits. But the hype that guyabano fruit and other parts of the plants are cure for some diseases particularly cancer has created an increase in demand for the fruit in the market.

Usually, the fruit is eaten as is. It is also used in smoothies, in the production of fruit juice and in the flavoring of ice cream. It has significant amount of vitamin C, vitamin B1, and vitamin B2..

The fruit of guyabano plant and its other parts such as the leaves, stems, barks and roots are used in traditional medicine. Diseases that are said to be treatable with guyabano include dysentery, skin disorders, scurvy, and diabetes among others. The good thing is that herbal medicine such as guyabano can be used without the undesirable side effects experienced by patients in using conventional pharmaceutical drugs.

Indeed, the hype that guyabano is a cure for several illnesses including cancer has brought about the manufacturing of products that are derived from extracts of guyabano. The products come from the USA, Canada, Brazil, Germany, Peru, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines and other countries. They are labeled only as food supplement, but some people used it as a medicine or as complementary drug for cancer and other diseases anyway. Graviola or guyabano capsules ads and sales promotions have proliferated in the internet. Orders can be placed in big online stores such as eBay, Amazon and Lazada. Comments made in Amazon by those who used graviola or guyabano capsules claimed that they are effective in dealing with health issues such as eczema, stomach parasites and even cancer. However no refutable cancer organization has subscribed to the effectiveness of graviola products as treatment to the one of the most dreaded diseases.                                                                                                                                                          

 Cancer Research UK laboratory test indicates that guyabano extracts can kill some types of breast and liver cancer cells that are resistant to particular chemotherapy drugs. However, it won’t officially conclude that graviola extracts are cure for cancer since no large scale studies and tests have been conducted in humans. The Center therefore does not support the use of graviola as a treatment of any type of cancer.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Coconut Sugar, an Alternative to White Cane Sugar

There is again another product of the tree of life, the coconut tree, which is called coconut sugar. Although its production has already taken place for a long time, it is only recently that there is enough awareness on this type of sugar that is reported to be a healthy alternative to regular white or brown table sugar which is shunned by some people because of its adverse effect to health.

Coco sugar comes from the sap of the coconut bud. To gather sap, a bud is cut crosswise. Liquids from the cut then trickle down and collected in a bamboo container. The whitish sap is sweet and invigorating to drink. However, too much of it can get one intoxicated. Left alone, the toddy turns to vinegar after some time.

To produce coco sugar, the raw sap is boiled in moderate heat in a wok to evaporate the moisture. What remains is syrup that is subjected to further heat until it becomes caramel colored granules which is the finished product. In the process of production there is no artificial ingredients added or there is chemical alteration in any way. Coco sugar is similar in taste to brown sugar and can be substituted for cane sugar in most recipes.

The disadvantage of using coco sugar is that it cost much more than regular white table sugar. Coco sugar’s selling point is its low Glycemic Index or GI. Glycemic Index ranks carbohydrate foods on the basis on how they affect blood sugar (glucose). Glycemic Index of coco sugar is ranked as 35, and by that measure it is classified as low GI food. White table sugar has GI which is 60 to 75. Foods high in GI cause blood sugar to spike which can lead to fluctuation of blood sugar level. A spike in blood sugar causes insulin level to raise in short period of time and this have some serious complications to diabetics. 

Basic sugar content of coco sugar is 70-79% sucrose and 3-9% each glucose and fructose. Cane sugar on the other hand is 50% fructose. Fructose is a type of sugar the body quickly converts to fat. Only the liver can break down fructose. And one result of this breakdown is triglyceride – a form of fat. A large amount of fructose is not good for the body because excessive amount of it elevates blood pressure, triglycerides and LDL. It also depletes vitamins and minerals, raises insulin resistance and causes obesity and it also contributes to hypertension and high blood pressure and to other diseases such as arthritis and cancer.                                                                                       
Coco sugar has 16 calories per teaspoon. It has relatively low contents of essential nutrients with the exception of potassium at about 25% of daily value per serving of 100 grams which is approximately 25 teaspoonfuls.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Leafy Green Moringa Oleifera (Malunggay)

Moringa is a small tree that grows in the tropical regions of the word. It is called “malunggay” or “kalamunggay” in the Philippines. The plant can grow as high as 10 to 20 feet.  Its bark is whitish gray which is surrounded with thick cork. The leaves are round and small, and the pods are long and slender.

Despite the softness of the plant’s wood and tender parts, moringa is in fact a hardy plant. In tropical climate it grows fast in almost any type of soil and is resistant to drought. Even a discarded trunk or branch on the ground will sprout young leaves and a new plant grows. The plant can be propagated through its seeds or cuttings. Moringa is easy to cultivate. A grown plant can sustain itself without much care and cultivation. In most cases fertilizer and pesticide are not necessary.

Moringa is primarily planted for its leaves and green pods as vegetable. The leaves are added in fish soup and chicken based dish that is called “tinola” and in vegetable dishes that are creamed with coconut milk. The plant is dubbed as a “poor man’s vegetable” because of its cheapness and abundance. In our family, we used to have plenty of this plant in our compound which also served as border fence in the sloping portion of our land. The plants had lush leaves and plentiful fruits. But we seldom harvest them, and if we did we only used the leaves and left the pods alone. Other people could help themselves with the leaves and the pods if they asked for them.

The leaves are the most nutritious parts of the plants. Like almost green leafy vegetables , the moringa leaves contain Vitamins B, C and K, beta carotene, potassium,  manganese, protein and other special nutrients. Because of its nutritional value moringa is recommended by the government for consumption of lactating mothers and children. Some bread such as “pan de sal” and noodles are fortified with moringa leaves to enhance its nutritional contents.

The hype that some herbs, fruits and vegetables have medicinal properties that are at par or better than conventional drugs has created an impression to some people that herbal products offer hope for the treatment of diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and even cancer. However, health authorities have warned people over the use of those products as alternative medicines because official confirmation has yet to be issued regarding their effectiveness.  
Moringa is used to be regarded only as a backyard plant because of its low commercial importance, but now some farmers cultivate it in large scale because of the increasing demand of natural herbal products for food supplement and alternative medicines. Moringa leaves are dried and made into organic powder, capsule, oil, tea, food supplement and other products. Aside from consuming the leaves as vegetable, locals use it also in traditional medicine. As an example, a cup of boiled moringa leaves is used to treat constipation.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Higalaay Festival 2015: Cagayan de Oro Fiesta

Cagayan de Oro City celebrates one of its most joyous occasions of the year, the feast day of Saint Augustine, the patron saint of the city. Locals call it the fiesta. Relative to the celebration, the city government launched the Higalaay Festival 2015. The Higalaay or friendship in the local dialect is a series of almost a month-long core events that were conducted by the city and other groups or organizations that culminated on August 28, 2015, the day of the fiesta. The events included kumbira, garden show, coronation of Miss CDO, marathon, carnival show, cowboy show, Kahimunan festival, religious and fluvial processions, parade of floats and icons and fireworks displays.    
Celebrating fiesta has become a custom of most Kagayanons. It is a time of reunion of members of families, a time when families treat relatives, friends and guests with sumptuous foods and drinks. The fiesta has been a traditionally religious event of the Roman Catholics who composed the city’s majority population. But through the years it has taken in some elements of secular cultural practices so that it has become an all inclusive occasion. Its activities can be enjoyed and participated in by anyone regardless of his religious affiliation. For the city government and its people, the fiesta is also an instrument to showcase the city as one of the premiere tourist and investment destinations not only in Mindanao but also in the Philippines. Happy Fiesta!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Coronation Night of Miss Cagayan de Oro 2015

The search for Miss Cagayan de Oro 2015 was held on the evening of August 22, 2015, at Atrium, Lim Ket Kai, Cagayan de Oro City. Twelve beautiful young ladies participated in the contest which is one of the core events of Higalaay Festival 2015 or the celebration of the feast day Of Saint Augustine. Charinna Barro of Barangay Macasanding was crowned Miss CDO for 2015. The first runner up was Dylana Bax and Kiezela quiz was the second runner up. As usual the atrium was jampacked with spectators who were mostly youths who came to see and to root for their respective bets in the annual beauty pageant.