Consumer Info: All About Japanese Encephalitis

UPDATE as of 2017 Sep 30: Since the 9 reported deaths and 149 cases of Japanese Encephalitis in the country, there has been no reported new cases regarding the deadly virus which has been basically isolated in Pampanga, Tarlac and Nueva Ecija.

While it’s good news, wouldn’t it be great if we were better informed about this seemingly strange disease and so, protect ourselves?

FACTS 

  • Japanese Encephalitis or the JE virus is commonly found in South to Southeast Asia, although as the name suggests, it actually started in Japan when it was first spotted in 1871.
  • It generally occurs in agricultural regions where it’s associated with rice production and flood irrigation; however, it could also appear in urban areas. In the Philippines, the last recorded case was back in 1982.
  • The JE virus is a viral disease (and transmitted via mosquitoes, not human to human) that is characterized by the inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) and currently has NO CURE but only prevention, else, total care if already infected.
  • The JE virus may not really be able to penetrate one’s body if a person has a strong immune system; otherwise, symptoms would usually appear between 5 to 15 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

SYMPTOMS

  • INITIAL: headache, fever, nausea, vomiting and weakness.
  • SEVERE: stiff neck, seizures, convulsion, confusion, motor paralysis, behavioural changes and swelling around the brain.
  • LATER STAGE: coma or death.

MANAGEMENT 

Salt solution
  • Since Japanese Encephalitis has no specific cure or treatment yet, supportive care and close observation is even more crucial here.
  • Take paracetamol during fever.
  • Hydrate with lots of fluid and salt solution.
  • Have good nutrition.
  • Get proper rest.
  • Intensive care if necessary.

PREVENTION 

  • Have yourself vaccinated. JE vaccines costs less than P2,000 but then, you should get vaccinated twice within 28 days.
  • Be extra watchful during the rainy season — especially between May and October as these are the mosquito’s high activity period.
  • Control mosquito breeding by keeping your surroundings clean and not letting water stagnate.
  • Mechanize the growing of rice if possible.
  • Use insect repellents.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants.
  • Reduce exposure to mosquitoes during its peak ‘biting hours’ which is actually when it’s cooler.

    Where JE mosquitoes normally breed

REMINDER: If you live within a reported JE area, once you are bitten by an infected mosquito — avoid scratching instead apply hydrocortisone or calamine lotion to reduce itchiness. Then consult your physician. For severe cases, you would have to submit to a CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) — this is getting fluid samples from your spine for testing.

Remember, while Japanese Encephalitis has no cure yet, it is a preventable disease. Thus, take the necessary precautions.

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Consumer Info: All About Honey

Yes, we have all heard of how healthy honey is; after all, it is the elixir of life. Not surprisingly, not many knows the exact benefits of honey, much more how to distinguish pure honey from adulterated honey. So, here goes..

First. We understand that you already know that honey could even come in many varieties, right? Like floral, fruity, smokey, woody, spicy or earthy — all depending on the source of its nectar. Also, that honey could be clear to as dark as molasses in its appearance — yet with all these, don’t be surprised if some of them smells fresh while others are even pungent! Bottom line is, you could only get the full benefits of honey if it’s pure. Thus, if the supermarket is your only access to honey, at least make sure to examine its physical qualities before buying them. How?

  1. Real honey has some small particles suspended within it while the fake ones do not.
  2. Real honey is thick and dense while fake honey is thin and runny.
  3. Check the label. Real honey contains only one ingredient — honey.
Especially if no ingredient is listed on the label then think twice before buying the honey

NUTRIENTS. Raw honey contains 22 amino acids, 27 minerals and 5,000 enzymes. Minerals include iron, zinc, potassium, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium and selenium while the vitamins in honey include vitamin B6, thiamine, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and niacin.

BENEFITS. Boosts energy. Reduces muscle fatigue. Regulates blood sugar. Treats cough and sore throat. Heals (surgical) wounds, cuts, minor burns and ulcers. Protects from infection, odor and pus. Reduces acid production in the mouth for better oral health. Helps with insomnia. Good moisturizer and treats skin fungus. Reduces and controls weight. Improves appetite and digestion. Relieves constipation, diarrhea and dysentery. Helps kidneys function better. Aids in blood cleansing as well as in its regulation and circulation.

DOSAGE: 1 tbsp a day if only  for maintenance purposes

STORAGE. Not in cans but glass jars or plastic containers. Do not expose to sunlight, near heat or inside the fridge but in a cool, dry place where temperature is stable.

EXPIRY. Because of its unique composition and chemical properties, honey could be preserved long term — like, decades or even centuries. The key to preservation is limiting its access to humidity; if honey is exposed to moist air, fermentation could begin and eventually ‘damage’ the honey.

Store and carefully seal honey in glass jars or plastic containers

AUTHENTICITY. It is but common sense that if we really want pure honey, it would be best if we just get it straight from a bee farm — then again, how many actually has the time and proximity to do that? And so, this would leave us with almost no choice but to buy from the sidewalk or just blindly trust supermarket displays wherein most are not really concerned about our health but only our money.

TESTING. Now while we could physically examine honey in supermarkets, such scrutiny only gives us a clue to its purity — nothing else. Especially in cases like this, facts could only be verified through actual testing. Unfortunately, many times that testing would not be possible in supermarkets since honey here is sealed or totally wrapped — and determining prices does not mean anything to its purity! Therefore, you would only know about its authenticity once you have bought the honey and tested it at home.

Prices does not really have anything to do with the purity of honey
  • Water Test. Fill a glass with water. Add a tablespoon of honey. Pure honey settles at the bottom of your glass while adulterated honey will dissolve in water because of its sugar content.
  • Flame Test. Dab some honey on a piece of cotton. Light it up with a matchstick. Pure honey would burn while adulterated honey would not light up because of its water content.
  • Finger Test. Put a small drop of honey on your fingernail. Pure honey stays put longer while adulterated honey would easily drip down your finger.
  • Bread Test. Apply some honey on a slice of bread. Pure honey hardens the bread in minutes while adulterated honey would make the bread ‘soggy’ because of its moisture content.
  • Stickiness Test. Rub some honey between your fingers. Pure honey is not sticky while adulterated honey would be sticky because of its added sweeteners.
  • Absorption Test. Pour a few drops of honey on blotting paper. Pure honey does not get absorbed in blotting paper which has the opposite effect on adulterated honey. Also, if you pour pure honey on a white cloth, it would not leave stains — unlike adulterated honey.
  • Egg Yolk Test. When poured into a container with yolk alone and then mixed, the yolk would appear cooked if the honey is pure — while it does not have any effect if the honey is adulterated.
BEWARE: Honey can give botulism to children under 1-year-old  (Photo: Getty)

REMINDER: Honey should never be given to pregnant women or children under 1 year old. Heating honey at high temperatures would not only reduce its potency but could even produce carcinogenic effects.

TODAY: Top 10 Things in Cebu City

As the world turns, times change and so do trends. Still, not all ‘hot’ stuff is new — others have been around since civilization could remember that we sort of ignore them.

So in no particular order, here are the current ‘trends’ in Cebu City.

Zumba

With greater emphasis on health and beauty nowadays, Zumba has become a way of life — that one could normally see (and join for free) these workouts in malls, whether at the top floor or at the car park.

Lotto I Swertres

Games of chance sort of gives the masses some hope in trying times that it has brought about an unusual ‘brotherhood’ especially in swertres where numbers are shared to help each other out.

Regular Mall Bargains

With mall bargains and ‘ukay-ukay’ stores everywhere, locals are just not yet ready to embrace the convenience of online shopping.

Massage Kiosks

Saunas and spas have been feeling stiff competition from electronic massage chairs to massages offered by the blind that they have to do promos to stay relevant against these ‘on-the-go’ alternatives.

Fresh Avocado Juice

Haven’t really noticed this even last year (have you?) in the streets of Colon, so avocado juice is definitely one of those new hot stuffs out there — and could be a seasonal thing from now on. After all, it’s healthy and delicious — and affordable, too!

Ice Skating

There may not be snow in the Philippines but ever since locals have been introduced to ice skating, we have seen enthusiasts grow immensely. Would we see more Michael Martinez’ someday?

Short shorts

While ‘ukay-ukay’ has now been a fixture, here’s one clothing line that seems to get more and more fans from such stores — the short shorts — that it has become part of the new everyday attire.

Street food: Seafood

The famed ‘pongko pongko’ has recently expanded! Though this tasty seafood in BBQ sticks isn’t sold alongside puso (hanging rice), it’s still addicting. Haven’t you tried it?

Self-service car wash (above) | Coin-operated laundry (below)

We already know about the existence of self-service restaurants but self-service car washes and self-operating laundries are on the rise. Tho car washes are for those on the road, these laundry shops are especially good if you’re not so busy. And they’re pocket-friendly!

Skateboarding

Do not be surprised if you see more than just cars and motorbikes on the road these days, skateboarding has become increasingly popular among youngsters that it has hit the streets and has even been restricted in many schools.

Consumer Info: Bird Flu, from Causes to Prevention

UPDATE (As of 2017 August 24): Pag-disinfect sa mga lugar na may Bird Flu, naantala.

The deadly Bird Flu has become one of the most dangerous diseases in the world; yet did you know that this H5N1 strain has already killed 60% of the people who have been infected with the disease since it first appeared in 1997?

This viral infection which first appeared in HK in fact spreads from bird to bird and does not easily spread from person to person rather it does so from infected birds to humans. And as of 2011, bird flu which has been established in China, India, Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia and Vietnam would be difficult to eradicate mainly because it has spread from birds to pigs and even donkeys.

CAUSES 

Humans could catch Bird Flu through:

  1. Close contact with infected birds or bird droppings.
  2. Cleaning or plucking infected birds.
  3. Inhalation of aerosolized materials in live bird markets.
  4. Swimming or bathing in water contaminated with droppings of infected birds.
  5. Handling of fighting cocks.
  6. Infected birds’ saliva, discharges like faeces and urine, as well as feed and secretions from the nose, mouth or eyes especially from hens, geese, turkeys and ducks.
  7. Exceptionally close contact with infected people.

NOTE: Eating meat and eggs from infected birds is not dangerous provided that it’s well-cooked as the heat kills most of its harmful agents. 

RISKS

  • Highest possibility of infection comes from poultry farm workers, animal control workers, wildlife biologists, and ornithologists who handle birds.

SYMPTOMS

  • Cough, diarrhea, respiratory difficulties, fever (over 100.4 °F), headache, muscle pain or weakness, malaise, runny nose, sore throat, colds, headache, swollen neck, dehydration, nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, eye infection, lung congestion, pneumonia, could infect the brain and digestive track.

TREATMENT 

  • Antiviral drugs like Oseltamivir (Tamiflu), Zanamivir (Relenza) or Peramivir (Rapivab) can help reduce severity of the disease as it prevents the virus from growing. These should be given soon after diagnosis have been verified.

NOTE: If bird flu is not immediately treated, this could lead to complications like pneumonia, respiratory or kidney failure, and some cardiovascular problems.

BASIC HOME REMEDIES 

  1. Drink Green Tea. It helps inhibit the release of an enzyme known as neuraminidase in bird flu and so it controls the growth and reproduction of it. Take 6-7 cups daily.
  2. Strengthen your Immune System. Take vitamin C or even add lemon juice to your green tea. Citrus fruits and juices are good in boosting immunity. Eat fresh veggies and salads, too.
  3. Do Steam Inhalation. This is to ease mucous accumulation and liquidate secretions for it to easily come out of your nose. Steam inhalation plus a few drops of tea tree oil could serve as an expectorant.
  4. Stay Hydrated. Especially for those who are vomiting or has diarrhea, drink at least 10 glasses of water a day — include servings of warm soups as well.
  5. Consume Garlic. With its powerful antibacterial and antiviral properties, this is one of the best home remedies for bird flu. Eat at least 2 cloves of raw garlic 2 times a day.

PREVENTION 

Aside from having a healthy diet with lots of liquid on your part, we would say “regularly monitoring and understanding your fowls’ condition” is the best preventive measure against the spread of this disease. In short, just stop this Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) right from the roots.

Food & How To: Durian Mousse Cake (Bánh mousse sầu riêng)

Since the Philippines is actually no stranger to durian as it’s abundantly grown particularly in Davao, the challenge now is creating something delicious aside from the usual by-products we know such as candy, pie, ice cream and float.

And we found this. A durian mousse cake.

Well, though you could substitute durian with mango or strawberry as in Helen’s recipe, we better stick with durian since this is what the feature is all about. Anyway, while the ingredients are actually easy to find, the different sets of ingredients makes it look complicated — as the durian mousse itself is even like a recipe within a recipe. Still, take heart, surely this cake is worth it.

Durian mousse being mixed and prepared

BATTER. 4 fresh eggs. 2 tbsp vegetable oil. 1 tbsp water. 1 tsp vanilla extract. 1 tsp salt. 1/2 tsp cream of tartar. 100 grams of sugar. 100 grams of flour.

DURIAN MOUSSE. 400 grams durian flesh. 200 ml milk. 1-2 tbsp of sugar. Gelatin liquid (15 grams gelatin powder and 3 tbsp water). 50 ml of whipping cream.

TOPPINGS. Your choice, however, Helen suggests it be caramelized dry coconut or coconut flakes. Key is to top your cake with a flavor that would enhance or blend well with durian.

Did you know that there are several varieties of durian?

The end product or the finished cake itself looks good so, if you have not tried one, just imagine its taste — what with the egg yolks, vanilla extract and durian all mixed together??

Enjoy!

Cocktail: How to Make a Whiskey Sour

Here’s another cocktail that has an egg white — the Whiskey Sour! Not only is it one of the more bracing drinks especially in a hot summer, it is also one of the easiest to make as well! Like, the ingredients are just about anywhere. So, forget the ‘sour’ thing, we got you covered.

Consider the ingredients: 2 oz. of Bourbon or Rye Whiskey, 3/4 oz. simple syrup (1 part sugar, 1 part water), 3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice, and an egg white. And for your garnish — orange slice and cherry.

There you go! The secret. Fresh lemon juice! Now, while substitution would be fine, obviously, trying to create your own ‘sour mix’ for this particular cocktail would only mess up its taste a bit.

Try to use freshly squeezed lemon instead of making a sour mix

Speaking of taste, with lemon, t’is sour; but when you add simple syrup, it becomes like a lemonade. Yet since there is whiskey, the drink becomes kinda potent — especially if you cut back on the lemon juice and add more whiskey. The thing then is, don’t try to really balance the whiskey and the lemon but try to preserve the whiskey’s identity — besides, you would be adding an egg white.

Whiskey Sour: Measurement variation

Okay, while an egg white is a classic part of this cocktail, it is actually optional. Like, if you use Gomme syrup (sugar, water and gum arabic) instead of the simple syrup, you could in fact do away with the egg white — of course, though it would not be quite the same then. Thus, especially for first-timers, you should give the egg white a try. It’s silky and frothy that you could very well enjoy it all the more.

In Pictures: Hidden Valley Wave Pool (Pinamungahan, Cebu)

Have you been to Pinamungahan? How about to their Wave Pool? Well, it is said to be Cebu’s first wave pool, you know the kind of ‘wavy’ stuff you normally see at the beach — so it must be some place that would interest many — yes, in spite of the distance.

To Get Here. With your starting point at the South Bus Terminal, take a bus going to Lutopan, Toledo City. Then ride a ‘habal-habal’ which is P60 per head — and that’s just one way, so imagine how far it is from the highway. Yes, 7.8 kilometers. Do not worry though, there are already motorbikes waiting over there as well that is for those who are done with their experience.

The signage where you should stop: Brgy. Bunga
Opposite the signage is the start of the 7.8 kilometer road to Hidden Valley

Still, the distance is about 58 kilometers from Cebu City with buses taking the Naga-Uling road, however, if you got your own vehicle — you could take the Toledo wharf road. This is to the right of Tabunok proper, or the road going to Jaclupan. Either way, it would still take at least around 2 hours of travel — but for your gasoline’s sake, of course, the shorter distance would be preferable.

The main entrance and to the left is the reception area
Just inside the resort and the parking area as well

Well, parking would not be a problem here as you can see.

The actual resort entrance

Meanwhile, the wave pool fee is P150 for adults and P125 for kids.

To the right upon entering
To the left upon entering

As of this writing, they are planning to put up a zip line and sky bike.

Directions

The area is about 2,000 square meters and has 2 resorts actually, so you might get confused. Just ask. The one we are featuring is the Wave Pool Resort while the other one is the Mountain Resort.

Full-length view
Near the wave machine
Opposite end of the pool
Another angle of the opposite end
The opposite sidelines
The waves
Waves from the sidelines

Cottages are nicely located and pretty affordable though.

Tables and Chairs: P350
Umbrella Cottage: P500
Inside the native cottage: P600
Mushroom cottage: P800

However, what’s not really nice here is the corkage. Imagine paying P50 per menu or kilo for food?? How about P100 per case on drinks, or P250 per one whole lechon? It’s like you’re being forced to buy.

Like, short orders ranging from P105 to P180 on single round buffet.

Accommodation

Meantime, accommodation is from P2,500 to P8,750 per room and though you would have free use of pools, that depends on the type.

The resort’s top view

In the end, coming over for the day tho would be a nice experience.

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