MARCH 16, 2019


Make It a Family Day of Fun: Attend the 5th Annual Great Malunggay Festival And Parade

It’s an understatement to say that Filipinos love their fiestas. There is the “mother-of-all-fiestas” in Hawaii held in May, the Filipino Fiesta, put together by the FilCom Center.

And there is another one held in Waipahu that’s growing each year, now in its 5th turn, called the Great Malunggay Festival and Parade. It is named after the malunggay (other names calamunggay or kalamungay) tree which leaves are the source of many popular Filipino comfort dishes. Most known among them, the delightfully savory malunggay chicken tinola soup.

What makes this festival also unique is its thematic tribute to the sakadas generation or Filipino laborers who came to work on Hawaii’s plantations. It’s fitting that the event takes place in Waipahu, the heart of that golden era when a plantation-economy thrived in the early 1900s.

The link between the malunggay tree and sakadas, organizers explain, is that while sugar cane and the plantations are gone, the love for agriculture remains today in the celebrated malunggay which is grown abundantly in the backyards of many Filipino households.

What organizers of the fiesta hadn’t mention but is true of the malunggay, is that it also serves to bring people closer and strengthen bonds. Just as isle residents share mangoes and papayas grown from their backyards with neighbors and families, Filipinos graciously and lovingly do the same with their malunggay.

The gesture is even more meaningful when considering the health benefits of the malunggay leaves. It’s a kind of super plant, full of nutrients, vitamins; and also known as an antioxidant. The malunggay is said to be able to assist in lowering blood sugar-levels, lower cholesterol and reduce inflammation. Sharing malunggay is sharing good health.

“Lucky you live Hawaii”

Hawaii is a special place for cultural festivals and fiestas like no other place. Hawaiians have multiple hula festivals: Merrie Monarch, the Aloha Festivals and Parade, the Prince Lot Hula Festival; Japanese put on their Obon Festivals and New Year’s Ohana Festival (held at Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii); Chinese present their Chinese New Year, Cherry Blossom Festival; and Koreans hold their annual Hawaii Korean Festival. Filipinos have their Annual Filipino Fiesta and the Great Malunggay Festival and Parade.

Then there is the annual Honolulu Festival that brings together all ethnic groups for one giant celebration of diversity and culture.

Other major festivals: the Memorial Day Floating Lantern Festival, Honolulu International Film Festival (special emphasis on Asia-Pacific Indie films), King Kamehameha Day Parade, Pan-Pacific Festival, and Okinawan Festival.

There’s an ethnic or cultural festival almost every month of the year; an opportunity for Hawaii residents to learn about each other’s history and customs – which contributes to Hawaii being a place of understanding and harmony.

Often times isle residents take for granted what they have and only realize how special a place Hawaii is when they leave the islands – Hawaii ex-pats from Los Angles, to Las Vegas, to New York talk about this, reminiscing the “good, old Hawaii days.”

In many parts of the U.S., respect for and celebration of cultural diversity is sorely missing. An essential part of having a vibrant ethnic community is for people to come out to community events.

For those still living on the aina, arguably the only true melting pot in the nation, supporting cultural events like the Great Malunggay Festival and Parade goes a long way in ensuring that the beauty of Hawaii’s culture-sharing is perpetuated.

Let’s all keep this tradition alive. Bring along family and friends to Waipahu on March 16 for the Great Malunggay Festival and Parade.

A big mabuhay to Al Simbahon, all the organizers, entertainers, sponsors, and vendors for putting on this successful annual event.


Exciting Breakthroughs in Science and Medicine Deserve More Media Coverage

News shouldn’t always be about covering bad news and adding to an already filled bucket of collective anxiety. The same goes for editorials – sometimes just sharing inspiration doesn’t need to come attached to it, sanctimonious quibble. To break the barrage of toxicity, CNN came up with an annual CNN Person of the Year project that focuses on “bigger-than-life” individuals improving their communities in various parts of the world by feeding the poor, sheltering street children, comforting the sick. Both broadcast and print media need to focus more on news like these.

Take for example, the field of science and medicine – It’s an exciting time and major discoveries are happening with little fanfare. Scientists and doctors making quantum leaps in healthcare delivery deserve increased coverage.

A few years ago, the world benefited from a breakthrough in treating cataracts, the number one cause of blindness. An estimated 20.5 million Americans alone suffer from cataracts; and many of them, could benefit from the new invention scientists came up of using eye drops to dissolve cataracts over time. What this did was give some patients an alternative option to conventional treatment of cataracts by way of surgery. That news deserved more attention.

Major Breakthrough in Treating AIDS

And here is another one. Just this month, scientists say they may have cured a man with AIDS by performing stem cell transplant to treat his cancer. He is the second man “cured” of AIDS using stem-cell transplant. Researchers say it’s a promising development, but it’s still a risky strategy, and even life-threatening.

The first person cured was an American Timothy Brown who received a bone marrow transplant in 2007 to help treat leukemia; this second patient lives in the UK and has been cured of Hodgkin’s lymphoma relating to AIDS.

In both cases, doctors were not seeking to cure AIDS but sought to treat their aggressive strains of cancer. Oncologists recommended bone marrow transplants; and later found their HIV strains disappeared.

Researchers still warn that a “full” cure hasn’t been discovered yet for all patients with AIDS. Bone marrow transplants could be successful in treating specific strains of HIV, in the cases of both these patients, CCR5. The second patient is not fully cured of AIDS altogether, but for this particular strain. He still needs to take medication for another strain, CXCR4.

Still, scientists consider this a major breakthrough in treating the disease that was once considered a sure death sentence prior to advances in prescription cocktail therapies.

Other medical advances

The Cleveland Clinic, one of two (the other Mayor Clinic) highly lauded, highest performing health systems in the country, unveiled other medical innovations for 2019.

Pharmacogenomic testing, which uses a patient’s genetic makeup to predict an individual’s metabolism of drugs, can be used to avoid adverse reaction and eliminate unnecessary and ineffective prescriptions, replacing them with more effective medications. It is enhancing the field of therapy for pain. This is major progress and could help in fighting the public health emergency of opioid addiction.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is changing the game in medicine by assisting physicians with decision support, image analysis and patient triage. Machine learning algorithms now have the ability to highlight problem areas on images that aid in the screening process and rapidly makes sense of huge data for physicians to better interpret.

Robotic surgery is now being used in some of the most cutting-edge hospitals in the world; and is providing surgeons with guidance for extreme precision in surgery. Innovations in robotic surgery have helped physicians successfully perform many types of surgery, from spin to endovascular procedures. Researches say advances in robotic surgery have benefitted patients by making surgeries more minimally invasive for certain procedures which help to expedite recovery.

3-D printing technology is at the beginning stages that could revolutionize medical devices. 3-D printing could be used to design medical devices that are more compatible with an individual’s natural anatomy, enhancing comfort and greater acceptance by the body. The most effective results of 3-D printing includes external prosthetics, cranial/orthopedic implants, and customized airway stents for diseases narrowing the airway.

The lighter side of news

Society could benefit from more news that inspire than fear-monger. From watching TV news in particular (print does a better job at mixing up news), viewers can get the impression that “we’re living in a world gone mad.”

Most of what’s being covered certainly is one reality. But there are others equally impactful in different ways just not given attention.

Breakthroughs in science and medicine was the specific topic of “lighter news” this time. But it could very well have been how food brings the world together, something that the late Anthony Bourdain did so well in his wildly popular “No Reservations” program.

There is a hunger for news and programming that brings people together, that makes people feel connected to each other and the world, not disconnected and placed on one of two sides of a fence.

Editorial boards have a social responsibility to reexamine news content. One person – and everyone knows who he is – cannot be the topic of somewhere near 90 percent of all the news being presented today.

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