Category Archives: Miscellaneous

True love through the years

by Henrylito D. Tacio

Two years ago, I attended a golden wedding anniversary. I was not really interested to witness the occasion but my friend, who is the grandson of the couple, cajoled me join him. He is a person who doesn’t invite people if it is not really that important.

Since I had nothing to do at that time, I decided to go with him. I sat down at the church and met some of my friend’s families, relatives, and friends. When the ceremony started, everyone was silent. Some family members were in tears.

In the middle of the ceremony, one grandson stood up, went to the podium, and sang the haunting Kenny Rogers song. “I can’t remember when you weren’t there, when I didn’t care for anyone but you. I swear, we’ve been through everything there is. Can’t imagine anything we’ve missed, can’t imagine anything the two of us can’t do.”

Then, he belted out: “Through the years, you’ve never let me down. You turned my life around, the sweetest days I’ve found, I’ve found with you. Through the years, I’ve never been afraid. I’ve loved the life we’ve made. And I’m so glad I’ve stayed, right here with you through the years.”

This particular scenario came flashing into my mind as I read the story forwarded to me by a friend. Read it and ponder:

During the renovation of a house in Japan, someone breaks open the walls. (For the information of the uninformed, Japanese houses normally have a hollow space between the wooden walls.)

Upon tearing down the walls, he found a lizard stuck there because a nail from outside was hammered into one of its feet! He sees this, feels pity, and at the same time curious, because it was nailed 10 years ago when the house was first built!

The lizard has survived in such position in a dark wall partition for 10 years without moving! Indeed, it is impossible and mind-boggling! He keeps wondering how this lizard survived for 10 years without moving a single step, since its foot was nailed!

He stopped his work momentarily and observed the lizard, what it has been doing, and what and how it has been eating! Later, out from nowhere appears another lizard, with food in its mouth, suddenly feeding the stuck lizard.

He was deeply touched and stunned at such a scene! Imagine? The other lizard has been doing that untiringly for 10 long years, without giving up hope! Pause for a moment and think: Will you do that to your partner?

If lizards can do it, why can’t human beings do? Being married to the person you love is the best thing that ever happen to you. You belong to that person and that person belongs to you.

Marriage should be forever. Find the right partner for you. Women should not marry a guy becaus e he is handsome, or rich, or because your parents tell you to marry him. The same is true with men. He should search for the right woman for him. Marry the person who you will love even when you wake up in the morning and find him or her not good looking enough. “Happy marriages,” said Tom Mullen, “begin when we marry the ones we love, and they blossom when we love the ones we marry.”

Once you’re married to the person whom you thought is the right one for you, accept him or her, including the bad traits and habits. Josh McDowell reminds, “What you are as a single person, you will be as a married person, only to a greater degree. Any negative character trait will be intensified in a marriage relationship, because you will feel free to let your guard down – that person has committed himself (herself) to you and you no longer have to worry about scaring him (her) off.”

Marriage is not always a bed of roses. Two people from different backgrounds usually clash but that’s alright. Opposite attracts each other, right? “Men marry women with the hope they will never change,” commented Albert Einstein. “Women marry men with the hope they will change. Invariably they are both disappointed.”

Ogden Nash tells: “Marriage is the alliance of two people, one of whom never remembers birthdays and the other who never forgets.” However, he offers some advice: “To keep your marriage brimming, with love in the loving cup, whenever you’re wrong admit it; whenever you’re right shut up.”

Yes, there are marriages made in heaven — because from the beginning, God is in the midst of the union. Marriage, someone once said, is always a triangle: man, woman, and God.

With that, marriage is bound to be forever. And husband and wife will live happily ever after. The Kenny Rogers song said it well: “I can’t remember what I used to do. Who I trusted whom, I listened to before. I swear you’ve taught me everything I know. Can’t imagine needing someone so but through the years it seems to me I need you more and more.”

Do you want to stay married to your partner forever? Learn wisdom from the words of Bon Jovi’s spouse: “My wife tells me that if I ever decide to leave, she is coming with me.”

For comments, write me at henrytacio@gmail.com

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This mysterious thing called love

by Henrylito D. Tacio

Love is timeless. It is impenetrable, elusive, and defies definition. A lot of people – famous and notorious – tried to elucidate on the subject but it still baffles human beings until now. Love is easy to define but very hard to comprehend.

It was because of love that Helen left her kingdom to join her beloved in Troy. Love (or was it lust?) was the reason why David sent the husband of “the woman who caught his eye” to war. For God loved so much human beings that He sent His Only Son to die in their behalf so that they will join Him in heaven forever (read John 3:16 for that).

“Where do I begin to tell the story of how great a love can be?” asked a line of the theme song of Erich Segal’s Love Story. Well, a lot of songs have been written on love. Composers never run out of ideas.

Diana Ross and Lionel Richie sang together: “My love, there’s only you in my life. The only thing that’s right. My first love, you’re every breath that I take, you’re every step I make.” George Benson crooned, “If I had to live my life without you near me. The days would all be empty the nights would seem so long. With you I see forever oh so clearly. I might have been in love before but I never felt this strong.”

“Have you even been in love?” asked Rose Walker. “Horrible, isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens your heart and it means someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses. You build up this whole armor, for years, so nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life.”

Yes, love cannot be fathomed or explained fully. Marcel Proust tries to give this idea: “In reality, in love there is a permanent suffering which joy neutralizes, renders virtual, delays, but which can at any moment become what it would have become long earlier if one had not obtained what one wanted, atrocious.”

Do you believe that? What about this one from Molly Haskell: “But one of the attributes of love, like art, is to bring harmony and order out of chaos, to introduce meaning and affect where before there was none, to give rhythmic variations, highs and lows to a landscape that was previously flat.”

Robert G. Ingersoll gives us a concrete yet contrasting views about love. He wrote: “Love is the only bow on life’s dark cloud. It is the morning and the evening Star. It shines upon the cradle of the babe, and sheds its radiance upon the quiet tomb. It is the mother of Art, inspirer of poet, patriot, and philosopher. It is the air and light of every heart, builder of every home, kindler of every fire on every hearth.

He further stated: “It was the first to dream of immortality. It fills the world with melody, for music is the voice of love. Love is the magician, the enchanter that changes worthless things to joy, and makes right royal kings and queens of common clay. It is the perfume of the wondrous flower — the heart and without that sacred passion, that divine swoon, we are less than beasts; but with it, earth is heaven and we are gods.”

Everybody loves a fairy tale. This happened to American actress Grace Kelly, who retired from acting when she married Prince Rainier II of Monaco in 1956. Diana Spencer became the toast of the world when she married Charles Philip Arthur George, heir to the British throne. But these fairy tales ended in tragedy; both princesses died in vehicular accidents.

Love can also be tragic. A lot of famous authors wrote novels on such theme. One of the most popular was Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. The leading character left her husband and child for the handsome Alexander Vronsky, who rejected her later on. With no future or past to turn to, she committed suicide by throwing herself under a train.

Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights chronicled the tragic love story of Cathy and Heathciff. War separated the lovers Evangeline Bellefortaine and Gabrile Lajeunesse in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie.

Age doesn’t matter when it comes to love. In William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, both lovers were teenagers. But it didn’t stop them to love each other – even ending their lives in tragic manner: Romeo drinks poisons while Juliet stabs herself.

Why do people kill themselves for the sake of their beloved? George Sand has this answer: “There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved.” His High the Dalai Lama echoes the same sentiment: “When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.”

Bayard Taylor wrote: “I love thee, I love but thee, with a love that shall not die – till the sun grows cold and the stars grow old.”
If you love someone, what kind of principle do you follow? American psychologist Erich Fromm shares this information: “Infantile love follows the principle: ‘I love because I am loved.’ Mature love follows the principle: ‘I am loved because I love.’ Immature love says: ‘I love you because I need you.’ Mature love says: ‘I need you because I love you.'”
Through the years, I have collected love quotations. One of those I really like best was the one written by Roy Croft: “I love you not only for what you are but for what I am when I am with you.”

William Arthur Ward penned: “Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you. Love me and I may be forced to love you.”

Finally, here’s what I like from William Shakespeare: “My bounty is as boundless as the sea, my love as deep; the more I give to thee, the more I have, for both are infinite.” — ###

Defy old age

THE Bible recorded the oldest living man through these words: ‘When Methuselah had lived 187 years, he became the father of Lamech. And after he became the father of Lamech, Methuselah lived 872 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Methuselah lived 969 years, and then he died” (Genesis5:25-27).

Through the yeas, people are trying to figure out how to live longer, just like Methuselah. In fact, many people in different parts of the globe at different times in history made it their life’s obsession.

Ponce de Leon’s quest for the mysterious fountain of youth led him to discover Florida. With its sunny weather, beautiful beaches, and palm trees, Florida in itself is a kind of fountain of youth. Many Americans today who retire to Florida do seem to recover their youthful energy and vigor.

No one lives forever, for sure. But this fact doesn’t stop doctors and scientists to search for ways how to live longer. “Aging is the progressive accumulation of changes with time associated with or responsible for the ever-increasing likelihood of disease and death which accompanies advancing age.” That statement comes from Denham Harmon, one of the leading experts in the field of anti-aging research.

In recent years, people are living longer — thanks to science. But, on second thought, merely living longer isn’t good enough. What people want these days is not just living longer, but also living healthier lives. Who wants to live longer if it means just existing, unable to enjoy life?

Dr. Steven G. Aldana, of Brigham Young University, recently revealed that a person may be able to add 20 years or more to his or her life by making several health changes. “People don’t have to completely turn their lives around to get significant benefits,” Dr. Aldana said. Example: Someone who exercises for 30 minutes six times a week can gain 2.4 years of life, even if that person doesn’t adequately control his blood pressure.

But not smoking is probably the most important change. “Men who smoke a pack a day lose an average of 13 years of life, while women lose 14 years,” he commented. Every year, there are about 20,000 smoking-related deaths in the Philippines, where about 60 percent of men smoke.

Excess weight greatly increases the risk of cancer, diabetes and hypertension. A person who is 20 pounds over his/her ideal weight is 50 percent more likely to develop heart disease — and the risk increases as weight increases.

In simpler terms, shed those extra pounds by doing regular exercise. People who engage in moderate exercise at least three to five times a week can reduce their blood pressure by an average of 10 points and dramatically lower their risk of diabetes. A study at the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research in Dallas, Texas showed that men who ran, walked briskly, swam, jogged, or played tennis lowered their risks of dying early by 64 percent.

For lowering blood pressure, walking — and not running! — may be the better form of exercise. American president Harry S Truman took to walking briskly until the ripe old age of 88. ÿ Astronaut John Glenn credited his celebrated return to orbit at age 77 to his two-mile daily power walk.

But exercise is not enough. There are other things you must do: Eat most meals at home (restaurant food tends to be higher in calories). Drink water instead of soda (the sugar in soft drinks is a main contributor to weight gain — and artificial sweeteners have not been proven safe). Don’t eat in front of the television (studies show that people who engage in “mindless” eating take in far more calories).

Watch what you put into your mouth. Studies show that eating one-quarter cup of nuts five times a week can add 2.5 years to your life. Fruits and vegetables lengthen your life by 2-4 years. People who increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables from two to five servings a day can reduce by half their risk of many cancers — including pancreatic, colorectal and endometrial cancers.

For every 10 grams of fiber you consume per day, your risk of heart attack goes down by 14 percent and risk of death from heart disease drops by 27 percent. People who eat as little as two servings of fiber-rich whole grains daily can reduce their risk of stroke by 36 percent. Fiber-rich foods, which can also reduce colon cancer risk, lengthen life by 2-4 years.

Sleep well. William Shakespeare wrote a long, long time ago: “Sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care, the death of each day’s life, sore labor’s bath; balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course, chief nourishes in life’s feast.”

As you grow older, don’t worry about it. The more you worry, the more you will likely to meet your Creator. In fact, be thankful that you are able to reach the age, which most people have not attained. Perhaps, you can sing Paul Anka’s song: “My friends, I’ll say it clear; I’ll state my case of which I’m certain. I’ve lived a life that’s full. I’ve traveled each and evr’y highway. And more, much more than this, I did it my way.”

For comments, write me at henrytacio@gmail.com

Why we need to sleep?

By Henrylito D. Tacio

 

In these days of iPODs, DVDs, mobile phones, text messaging, 24-hour news programs, midnight sales, and call centers, who needs to sleep?

 

“We’re so busy that we just don’t have sufficient time to get the sleep we need,” deplores Dr. Patrick Gerard Moral, head of the sleep and snore diagnostic and treatment unit of the University of Santo Tomas.  “It’s not just work that makes them cut down on sleep but also their lifestyle.  Simply socializing or surfing the Internet can engage people far beyond their bedtimes.”

 

A recent AC Nielsen poll found that 40 percent of Asians go to bed only after midnight.  In the Philippines, more and more people are sleeping late at night.  In fact, some of them go to bed already when the sun is ready to rise.    

 

When he was still a law student, Kelvin King Lee slept only about five hours a night.  “It’s usually because I’m either studying late or writing and editing,” he said.  At that time, he also edited his university’s law journal and wrote a regular column for Sun Star Davao.  Often, he lied in bed memorizing legal cases or thinking up topics for his weekly column. 

 

What these sleep thieves don’t know that a good night’s sleep is more important to their health than they may realize.  A good night’s sleep means waking up rested and energized.  On average, a healthy adult needs between six and eight hours of sleep a night, according to Dr. Ravi Seshadri, a sleep expert and clinical director of MD Specialist HealthCare at the Paragon Medical Center in Singapore.

 

However, the amount of sleep it takes to achieve rejuvenation varies from person to person.  “It’s not a fixed number,” says Dr. Moral, adding that length is not the only important factor in sleeping but the quality as well.  Also, people who lose sleep every night will suffer from what he calls sleep debt.  “The sleep debt is compounded over a prolonged period and recovery will take much longer than the actual hours lost,” he explained.

 

Some people think that because a person lacks sleep, he will get thinner.  Such is the exact opposite.  According to Dr. Yue-Joe Lee, a physician and professor in the Department of Psychiatry at National Taiwan University, insufficient sleep may affect three hormones that can contribute to obesity.  First, there’s leptin, an appetite-suppressing hormone found in our fat and its levels are regulated during sleep, he says.  Then, there’s ghrelin, which triggers appetite and increases with sleep deprivation.  Our bodies then produce more of the stress hormone cortisol, which increases fat storage.

 

Not only do the increased hormones resulting from sleep loss cause us to eat more but most of us also make poor food choices when we’re tired.  “Get sufficient sleep if you don’t want to gain weight,” Dr. Lee advises.

 

Another reason why we need to get more sleep: it could boost our memory.  A Harvard experiment showed that subjects taught complex finger movements such as a piano scale recalled them better after 12 hours’ sleep than 12 hours’ wakefulness.

 

During sleep, brain neurotransmitters – the chemicals that deliver messages between nerve cells in the brain – are replenished.  “Any form of stress, including lack of sleep,” says Dr. Moral, “results in the depletion of the brain chemicals thus causing emotional disturbances,” including depression, anxiety, and general feeling of anger or sadness.

 

If you want to live longer, then you better have enough sleep.  Persistent sleep debt affects carbohydrate metabolism and hormone function in a way that may increase the severity of age-related chronic disorders.  A large-scale study concluded that people who sleep six to seven hours a night lived longer than those sleeping less than 4.5 hours.

 

One reason why good sleepers live longer is that their immune system is not compromised.  “The immune system works best when you’re asleep,” reports professor Stanley Coren, author of Sleep Thieves.  “That’s when your natural killer cells are generated.”  Natural killer cells are produced in the bone marrow and found in the blood and lymph fluid.

 

“Natural killer cells are part of your body’s defense system against external infections,” says Dr. Ong Kian Chung, a consultant respiratory physician at the Mount Elizabeth Medical Center in Singapore.  Melatonin, produced when you sleep, is a cancer-fighting oxidant.  Night-shift workers may have up to 70 times greater risk of breast cancer.  Also, the chemical to repair damage to the stomach lining is secreted during sleep, so staying up all night regularly could raise your risk of ulcers.

 

People whose parents or relatives have suffered from cardiovascular diseases should always get a good night’s sleep.  “Sleep deprivation may potentially increase risk for the development of cardiovascular problems,” says Dr. Rafael Castillo, a consultant cardiologist at the Manila Doctors Hospital.  A study done by Columbia University found that sleeping less than five hours double the risk of high blood pressure.

 

Two most common problems that usually rob a person of a good night’s sleep are insomnia and sleep apnea. 

 

Insomnia – a chronic inability to sleep or to remain asleep through the night — ranks right behind common cold, stomach disorders, and headache as a reason why people seek a doctor’s help.  The condition is caused by a variety of physical and psychological factors.  These include emotional stress, physical pain and discomfort, disorders in brain function, drug abuse and drug dependence, and other problems that produce anxiety and other problems.

 

Treatment may include sedatives, tranquilizers, psychotherapy, and exercise.  “It’s true that you can develop a tolerance to them,” said Dr. Moral of sleeping pills.  “But there are now pills that don’t have any side effects. 

 

Some people say that snoring is a good sign of a sound sleep.  Actually, snoring is one of the symptoms of sleep apnea.  “The person literally stops breathing,” explains Dr. Earl Dunn, a professor of family medicine at the Sunnybrook Medical Center Sleep Laboratory in Toronto.  “People who are heavy snorers, who stop snoring at night, can have episodes where they are not breathing.”

 

Those most people prone to sleep apnea are “overweight, middle-aged men,” said Dr. Philip Smith, director of the John Hopkins University Sleep Disorders Center.  “If you fall into that category, and you snore pretty loudly – that is, loud enough to be heard outside the room – the chances of your having sleep apnea are pretty high.  Go see your doctor.”

 

Mild cases can improve with weight loss; sleeping on your side can also help.  For more severe cases, patients find relief by using a machine that forces air through the nasal passages during sleep. — ###

 

Watch your salt intake!

By Henrylito D. Tacio

 

A salty, mineral-rich fluid constantly bathes the cells of our bodies.  Scientist Claude Bernard made that discovery in the mid-1800s, and he realized the fluid must contain the right amounts of sodium, chloride, and potassium to allow our cells to grow, work, and survive.  One hundred years later, researcher Homer Smith theorized that the cell-bathing fluid contains similar to the salty seas that bathed and nourished the earliest one-celled organisms.

 

In order to keep that cell-bathing fluid in balance, what goes in must come out.  A person takes in sodium and chloride (when these two elements combined, the result is table salt) in his diet and more than 98 percent comes out in his urine.  All creatures, including human beings, have kidneys that strictly regulate the mineral and water balance in the body.

 

A person’s average daily intake of salt is 3,900 milligrams, although some people get a lot more than that.  If you have normal blood pressure, experts recommend that you should limit your sodium intake to 2,400 milligrams (just over one teaspoon of salt) a day. 

 

“Limiting salt may be a good idea,” the editors of Super Life, Super Health point out.  “It could affect your blood pressure someday, and it may affect other parts of your body, like your bones.  But don’t make a huge effort to cut back to less than the recommended limit unless you have high blood pressure.”

 

Recent studies have shown that taking too much salt is not good for your health – especially if you have some health problems.  Sure, you like your French fries covered with salt, but if have hemorrhoids, salt can make it worse.  Excess salt retain fluids in the circulatory system that can cause bulging of the veins in the anus and elsewhere. 

 

High salt intake can also trigger migraine in some people.  Migraine is a throbbing headache, usually occurring on only one side of the head.  (A woman who had suffered with migraines for 16 years finally experienced relief when researchers from Denmark’s Odense University gave her 500 to 600 milligrams of powdered ginger whenever she felt a headache coming on.  Within 30 minutes, her migraine would be gone.)

 

In a study conducted at the Department of Community Medicine of St. Thomas Hospital in London, researchers discovered that salt could have a life-threatening effect on people with asthma.  “A strong correlation was found between table salt purchases and asthma mortality in both men and children,” reported the researchers.  Buying the salt wasn’t killing people; eating it was.

 

Anyone who has passed a kidney stone can verify that this is an experience he never wants to repeat.  Most stones are calcium-based, so it’s essential that you avoid excessive intake of table salt and condiments high in sodium.  Salt restriction will help decrease the concentration of calcium in the urine.  According to US National Kidney Foundation, you should reduce your sodium intake to two to three grams per day.

 

Women with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) should avoid salt at all cost.  “People don’t realize that foods with high salt content can contribute to water retention,” says Dr. Susan Clark, medical director of PMS and Menopause Self-Help Center in Los Altos, California.

 

Most snack foods and other processed foods are high in salt – and some fast-food meals can be extremely high.  So, women with PMS should stay away from these foods.   Before buying packaged and processed foods, be sure to read the labels and whenever possible, choose fresh fruits and vegetables.

 

Instead of piling salt on to enhance flavoring of your food, why not try cloves, ginger, garlic and thyme instead?  They’re better for your health.  Cloves, for instance, may relieve asthma and bronchitis, arthritis and rheumatism.  Ginger can ease nausea and may help protect against cancer.

 

Garlic, on the other hand, may lower cholesterol and help prevent cancer.  You may use it in stews, soups, stir-fries and pasta sauce.  Thyme, which can treat colds, coughs, and bronchitis, can be use in vegetable dishes, meat, poultry, fish, stews, and tomato-based sauces.

 

Experts warn that no one should try to cut out salt completely from his or her diet.  That would be dangerous!  In fact, there are also good things about salt, health-wise.   For instance, if you are suffering from stuffy nose, why not try saline solution?  Here’s how to do it: Dissolve a teaspoon of salt in a pint of water, and then use a nosedropper to drop it in your nose.  Gently blow your nose on a tissue.

 

Having a gum pain?  Try a warm saltwater rinse.  “Take a few swigs of warm salt water and swish it between your teeth and gums,” advises Dr. Leslie Salkin, director of post-graduate periodontics at the Temple University of School of Dentistry in Philadelphia.  “It has a general soothing effect.  If you have an abscess, the salts will help draw it out and drain it.”  He recommends one teaspoon of salt in a glass of lukewarm water. 

 

Salt can also be used as a first line of defense against sore throat.  While gargling won’t kill off the germs causing sore throat, it will moisturize and temporarily soothe the upper throat.  While there are many possible gargles on the market, salt water is as good as any, and it’s cheap.

 

Dr. Michael Benninger, chairman of the Department of Otolaryngology at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, instructs: Mix one teaspoon of salt (no more or you’ll dry out your throat!) in a pint of warm (never hot) water.  To gargle, start by taking in a deep breath.  Pour a small amount of salt water into your mouth and tilt your head back.  Let stir bubble out slowly to create the gargling effect.  If it’s noisy, it’s right.  Gargle as often as you like.

 

Warm salt water is also good for those suffering from toothache.  Hot or cold water will only aggravate an already sensitive tooth, but swishing some warm salt water will relieve a lot of the pain, says Dr. William P. Maher, assistant professor of endodontics at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry. 

 

Here’s what you should do: Mix two to three teaspoons of salt in a glass of water.  The salt draws out some of the fluids causing the swelling and has a general soothing effect.  The saltwater rinse also cleans the area around the infected tooth.  Even unsalted lukewarm water (about body temperature) can flush out an irritating piece of rotting food and provide some relief.

 

By the way, be sure to consult your doctor before doing what have been stated here.

 

For comments, write me at henrytacio@gmail.com

 

Defy old age: Live longer

By Henrylito D. Tacio

 

The Bible recorded the oldest living man through these words: ‘When Methuselah had lived 187 years, he became the father of Lamech.  And after he became the father of Lamech, Methuselah lived 872 years and had other sons and daughters.  Altogether, Methuselah lived 969 years, and then he died” (Genesis5:25-27).

 

Through the yeas, people are trying to figure out how to live longer, just like Methuselah.  In fact, many people in different parts of the globe at different times in history made it their life’s obsession. 

 

Ponce de Leon’s quest for the mysterious fountain of youth led him to discover Florida.  With its sunny weather, beautiful beaches, and palm trees, Florida in itself is a kind of fountain of youth.  Many Americans today who retire to Florida do seem to recover their youthful energy and vigor.

 

In 1808, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote of a 14th century alchemist, Faust, who sold his soul to the devil in exchange for a youth-restoring potion.  As expected, Faust came to an unpleasant end.

 

No one lives forever, for sure.  But this fact doesn’t stop doctors and scientists to search for ways how to live longer.  “Aging is the progressive accumulation of changes with time associated with or responsible for the ever-increasing likelihood of disease and death which accompanies advancing age.”  That statement comes from Denham Harmon, one of the leading experts in the field of anti-aging research.

 

In recent years, people are living longer – thanks to science.  But, on second thought, merely living longer isn’t good enough.  What people want these days is not just living longer, but also living healthier lives.  Who wants to live longer if it means just existing, unable to enjoy life?

 

“A wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings, and learn how by his own thought to derive benefit from his illnesses,” wrote Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, centuries ago.

 

Dr. Steven G. Aldana, of Brigham Young University, recently revealed that a person may be able to add 20 years or more to his or her life by making several health changes.  “People don’t have to completely turn their lives around to get significant benefits,” Dr. Aldana said.  Example: Someone who exercises for 30 minutes six times a week can gain 2.4 years of life, even if that person doesn’t adequately control his blood pressure.

 

But not smoking is probably the most important change. “Men who smoke a pack a day lose an average of 13 years of life, while women lose 14 years,” he commented.   Every year, there are about 20,000 smoking-related deaths in the Philippines, where about 60 percent of men smoke.

 

Excess weight greatly increases the risk of cancer, diabetes and hypertension. A person who is 20 pounds over his/her ideal weight is 50% more likely to develop heart disease — and the risk increases as weight increases.

 

In simpler terms, shed those extra pounds by doing regular exercise.  People who engage in moderate exercise at least three to five times a week can reduce their blood pressure by an average of 10 points and dramatically lower their risk of diabetes. A study at the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research in Dallas, Texas showed that men who ran, walked briskly, swam, jogged, or played tennis lowered their risks of dying early by 64 percent.

 

For lowering blood pressure, walking – and not running! — may be the better form of exercise.   American president Harry S Truman took to walking briskly until the ripe old age of 88.   Astronaut John Glenn credited his celebrated return to orbit at age 77 to his two-mile daily power walk.  

 

But exercise is not enough.  There are other things you must do:  Eat most meals at home (restaurant food tends to be higher in calories). Drink water instead of soda (the sugar in soft drinks is a main contributor to weight gain — and artificial sweeteners have not been proven safe). Don’t eat in front of the television (studies show that people who engage in “mindless” eating take in far more calories).

 

Watch what you put into your mouth.  Studies show that eating one-quarter cup of nuts five times a week can add 2.5 years to your life. Fruits and vegetables lengthen your life by 2-4 years. People who increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables from two to five servings a day can reduce by half their risk of many cancers — including pancreatic, colorectal and endometrial cancers.

 

For every 10 grams of fiber you consume per day, your risk of heart attack goes down by 14% and risk of death from heart disease drops by 27%. People who eat as little as two servings of fiber-rich whole grains daily can reduce their risk of stroke by 36%. Fiber-rich foods, which can also reduce colon cancer risk, lengthen life by 2-4 years.

 

Sleep well.  William Shakespeare wrote a long, long time ago: “Sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care, the death of each day’s life, sore labor’s bath; balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course, chief nourishes in life’s feast.”

 

Wrote the editors of Super Life, Super Health: “The secret of staying young could simply be a good night’s sleep.  Sleep rejuvenates and revitalizes your body.  Human growth hormone (HGH) is produced only during deep sleep.  The amount of deep sleep you get, and the amount of growth hormone you make, decreases with age.  If you could get more deep sleep and, therefore, produce more HGH, you might be able to slow down the aging process.”

 

As you grow older, don’t worry about it.  The more you worry, the more you will likely to meet your Creator.  In fact, be thankful that you are able to reach the age which most people have not attained.  Perhaps, you can sing Paul Anka’s song: “My friends, I’ll say it clear; I’ll state my case of which I’m certain.  I’ve lived a life that’s full.   I’ve traveled each and evr’y highway.  And more, much more than this, I did it my way.”

 

For comments, write me at henrytacio@gmail.com

What is Christmas without these decorations?

By Henrylito D. Tacio

 

The origin of Christmas differs as the precise date of the birth and historicity of Jesus are much debated. Christmas, literally meaning the Mass of Christ, is a traditional holiday in the Christian calendar.

 

It is referred that during the 4th century, the celebration of Christ’s birth on December 25 was gradually adopted by most Eastern churches. In Jerusalem, opposition to Christmas lasted longer as according to them the exact date of birth of Jesus Christ is unknown. It is said that December 17-24th was the period of Saturnalia, a well-known festival in pagan, Rome. December 25th was the birthday of Mithra, the Iranian god of light. This day was adopted by the church as Christmas to counteract the effects of these festivals.

Today, Christmas has turned out to be one of the most popular festivals that fill joy, happiness and love in people’s life. The festival of Christmas has absorbed various customs and traditions of world and 25th December has emerged as the most important day for Christians, irrespective of its roots. It is taken as a day that reflects the power, glory and salvation of Jesus Christ and his message of hope to the world.

 

In the Philippines, Christmas would not be complete without those season’s symbols and decorations.  Some of them were copied from other countries, although there are some that are truly Filipinos.

 

Almost every Christmas season, Filipino homes and buildings are adorned with beautiful star lanterns, called parol (from the Spanish word “farol,” which means lantern or lamp. Parol reminds the Filipino Christians of the star of Bethlehem that guided the Three Wise Men (or Tatlong Hari as they call them) on their way in search of Baby Jesus.

 

The earliest parols were traditionally made from simple materials like bamboo sticks, Japanese rice paper (known as papel de Hapon) or crepe paper, and a candle or coconut oil-lamp for illumination; although the present day parol can take many different shapes and forms.

 

As early as November, parols are hang on windows or door of every Filipino homes, offices, schools, shopping malls and even streets are adorned with these multi-colored lanterns. You will even find mini parols hanging on buses and jeepneys and cars.

 

The most spectacular exhibition and parade of parol is held every year in San Fernando Pampanga, famous for the most unique star lanterns in shapes, colors and sizes made from all kinds of material.  The town becomes the center of Christmas activities, every year spectators get to marvel the amazing lights of the giant lanterns.

 

Another traditional Filipino Christmas symbol is the belen (also called a crib or manger in the United Kingdom and crèche in France).  A tableau representing the Nativity scene, it depicts the infant Jesus Christ in the manger, surrounded by the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, the shepherds, their flock, the three Wise Men and some stable animals and angels.  Belens can be seen in homes, churches, schools and even office buildings.

 

This traditional Christmas decoration combines two different events in the Gospels.  The first one was when the shepherds are informed by angels that “for to you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior who is Christ the Lord” (Matthew 2:10-11).   The second was “when [the Wise Men] saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshipped him” (Luke 2:11).

 

Tarlac, known as the “Belen Capital of the Philippines holds the annual Belenismo sa Tarlac. It is a belen making contest which is participated by establishments and residents in Tarlac. Giant belens with different themes are displayed in front of the establishments and roads of Tarlac for the rest of the Christmas season.

 

The story of the origin of the Christmas belen rests with the very holy man, St. Francis of Assisi.  In the year 1223, St. Francis, a deacon, was visiting the town of Grecio to celebrate Christmas. Grecio was a small town built on a mountainside overlooking a beautiful valley. The people had cultivated the fertile area with vineyards. St. Francis realized that the chapel of the Franciscan hermitage would be too small to hold the congregation for Midnight Mass. So he found a niche in the rock near the town square and set up the altar, which became the first Nativity scene.

 

One very popular Christmas decorations is the poinsettia.  In nature, poinsettias are perennial flowering shrubs that can grow to ten feet tall.  The showy colored parts of poinsettias that most people think are the flowers are actually colored bracts (modified leaves).  The flowers of the poinsettia are in the center of the colorful bracts.

 

All over the world, it is known as a flower that symbolizes Christmas, the day when Jesus Christ was born.  Its association with the Nativity happened in Mexico during the 16th century.  According to a legend, a young girl who was too poor to provide a gift for the celebration of Jesus’ birthday was told by an angel to gather weeds from the roadside and place them in front of the church altar.  Crimson “blossoms” sprouted from the weeds and became beautiful poinsettias.

Another legend has it that the poinsettia became associated with Christmas because the Mexicans regarded it as symbolic of the Star of Bethlehem.   From the 17th century, Franciscan monks in Mexico included the plants in their Christmas celebrations.

The name “poinsettia” is named after Joel Robert Poinsett, the first American ambassador to Mexico, who introduced the plant into the United States in 1825.  Scientifically, it is known as Euphorbia pulcherrima.

 

A Christmas without the Christmas tree is incoherent. The fragrance and essence of the Christmas trees have been an integral part of the celebrations as well as of the family unit since time immemorial. Gifts are placed under the tree, as family and friends gather around to celebrate the birth of Christ.

 

Many legends exist about the origin of the Christmas tree. One is the story of Saint Boniface, an English monk who organized the Christian Church in France and Germany. One day, as he traveled about, he came upon a group of pagans gathered around a great oak tree about to sacrifice a child to the god Thor. To stop the sacrifice and save the child’s life Boniface felled the tree with one mighty blow of his fist. In its place grew a small fir tree. The saint told the pagan worshipers that the tiny fir was the Tree of Life and stood the eternal life of Christ.

Another legend holds that Martin Luther, a founder of the Protestant faith, was walking through the forest one Christmas Eve. As he walked he was awed by the beauty of millions of stars glimmering through the branches of the evergreen trees. So taken was he by this beautiful sight that he cut a small tree and took it home to his family. To recreate that same starlight beauty he saw in the wood, he placed candles on all its branches.

 

Perhaps the most popular symbol of Christmas is Santa Claus.  On Christmas eve, he rides in his flying sleigh, pulled by reindeer from house to house to give presents to children. During the rest of the year he lives at the North Pole.  The names of his reindeer are Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen. Rudolph, “the red-nosed reindeer,” has featured in many modern aspects of the Santa Claus myth.

 

The modern Santa Claus is a composite character made up from the merging of two quite separate figures. The first of these is Saint Nicholas of Myra, a bishop of Byzantine Anatolia, now in modern day Turkey famous for his generous gifts to the poor. The second character is Father Christmas, which remains the British name for Santa Claus. Father Christmas dates back at least as far as the 17th century in Britain, and pictures of him survive from that era, portraying him as a well-nourished bearded man dressed in a long, green, fur-lined robe.

 

The modern depiction of Santa Claus as a fat, jolly man wearing a red coat and trousers with white cuffs and collar, and black leather belt and boots, became popular in the United States in the 19th century due to the significant influence of caricaturist and political cartoonist Thomas Nast.

 

Christmas is not Christmas without these decorations and symbols. — ###