Thursday, October 15, 2015

Is Sen. Santiago well enough to be president?

There is, I think, serious reason to suspect that she may not be.

In July of 2014, the senator announced she had Stage IV lung cancer but that it was not spreading. According to her, her doctors former DSWD Secretary Esperanza Cabral and Ruth Divinagracia had recommended she take pills for "molecular targeting" of cancer cells. Now, Senator Santiago claims she had "licked cancer" and is now ready to run for president.

This is troubling because Senator Santiago's account of her diagnosis and her now buoyant pronouncement of being finally cured of cancer do not quite add up.

Why not?

First, Stage 1V cancer precisely means that the cancer has spread from the original site (see this information from Cancer Research UK on lung cancer number staging system). The senator's previous claim that she had Stage IV cancer but that it had not spread was, therefore, oxymoronic and did not make any medical sense. A lung cancer is  declared Stage IV precisely because it had spread.

Second, Senator Santiago was probably taking Tarceva (erlotinib) tablets in lieu of chemotherapy as her first-line treatment. Perusing the prescription sheet of Tarceva, you don't get the sense it can magically cure stage IV lung cancer. And cancer could always come back from remission. It would be too early to say that Senator Santiago is in the clear now.

What does this all mean? The greatest issue that will hound Senator Santiago's candidacy now will be the same issue that hounded her candidacy in 1992 -- the state of her health. The ruckus about her health in 1992 was probably baseless, fueled by malicious rumour-mongering, but this time it could be quite legitimate.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Mouse That Roared

In this 1959 satirical comedy, the fictional smallest country in the world declares war against the United States over a trade disagreement on wine. All the weighty issues are here: trade, international relations realpolitik, nuclear disarmament and deterrence, the Geneva Conventions, etc. Very funny and highly recommended for friends in foreign relations. Below is a clip:

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Heneral Luna

Many of us, by now, must have seen the sleeper hit of the year, Heneral Luna. You know those Filipino movies that they hype on Facebook and then when you bring yourself to the cinema to watch them, you regret being taken by  all the online buzz? Well, Heneral Luna is  not one of them. So if you haven't had the chance to catch it, I recommend you take the time.

It is surprising, but not altogether unwelcome, that the popularity of the movie has turned just about everyone into amateur historians. Because our respectful and understandably deferential school education has turned all our heroes into staid historical caricatures, it was refreshing to see something like Heneral Luna on the big screen transform the national heroes we see on those postcards from National Bookstore  into regular men faced with the extraordinarily hard task of securing the independence of the first republic in Asia in between the machinations of bigger powers Spain and the United States. And it is compelling to watch.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Eight Diagram Pole Fighter

If you like old kung-fu movies from Hong Kong (and are in the mood for some good, old-fashioned kick-ass fighting), here is one of the best that came out from the legendary Shaw Brothers studio: The Eight Diagram Pole Fighter (1983).