pop goes the world: breasts, blankets, and bebang

POP GOES THE WORLD  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today,  20 October 2011, Thursday

Breasts, Blankets, and Bebang

The Philippines has the highest incidence of breast cancer in Southeast Asia. The disease is said to be the third leading cause of mortality and morbidity among Filipino women, and this is due in part to the reluctance of afflicted women to seek medical help until the cancer is well-advanced.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month worldwide. Until a few years back, all I knew about it was that it was all about pink, my favorite color, and isn’t that ribbon logo cute? Until I battled a breast cancer scare myself, I paid no heed to the call for each woman to be aware of her breast health via self and professional breast exams.

Then, during an annual office health checkup that I was dragged to, kicking and screaming, doctors found a lump in my right breast. After viewing the results of painful mammograms and tickly ultrasound exams, my oncologist decided to excise the entire mass in a simple out-patient operation that took only half an hour. To work off my anxiety, after the procedure I walked to the office from the hospital and still put in an afternoon’s work. The biopsy showed the lump was non-malignant. The inch-and-a-half long red scar on my chest is a sobering reminder to take the threat of breast cancer seriously.

My experience made my officemates aware of their own breast health, becoming vigilant with exams and annual mammograms. Last year, one of them was found to have a lump also, but hers was malignant. She fought back and beat the disease. Her success was largely due to early detection.

ICanServe Foundation advocates early breast cancer detection through community-based screening programs, says media/information committee member Carla Paras-Sison, herself a breast cancer survivor. “In cooperation with LGUs, we train barangay health workers [to perform] clinical breast examinations…[we also hold] high-impact information campaigns…produce commercials and organize educational forums” to “spread hope and dispel fear.”

They are at the Power Plant Mall basement every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of this month to spread awareness by disseminating information material and raise funds by selling items, proceeds of which benefit the ICanServe Foundation. Visit http://www.icanservefoundation.org to learn about their mission, activities, and events.

Icanserve photos taken 15 October 2011 at Power Plant Mall.

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Along with enhancing their awareness of medical issues, Filipina women can also open up to the idea of exploring their sexuality in a healthy, positive way.  Sexuality is, after all, related to human well-being. Why not attend a workshop and develop your sensual side?

Gaze, the creative brainchild of writers April Yap and Camille de la Rosa, will be holding an Erotic Writing Workshop on November 12 “as a way to celebrate love, longing, and lust.”

Poet and teacher Nerisa del Carmen Guevara, known for her sensuous rhymes and ritual dances, will be presiding over the whole-day workshop at Sikatuna Village, Quezon City. She has chosen the title “Blanket Day” for the event. Participants are asked to bring a blanket and object belonging to their beloved.

The workshop fee is P2,500 and includes drinks, meals, and a certificate. Only 15 slots are available; register on or before November 7. For details, contact Gaze at (0926)725-5208 or send email to ilovegaze@gmail.com.

I’m attending the workshop and though it’s three weeks away, I’m already dithering over which blanket to bring – for certain it’ll be one of the many lap quilts I’ve made – and which “beloved object” – his shirt? my necklace made from his guitar strings? his broad-nib fountain pen? What does Prof. Guevara have in mind for participants to do with these things? I’m excited. “Love, longing, and lust”? They’re always a part of the human condition. Writing, as well as any other method, will help put you in touch with these emotions and perhaps make sense of them and your relationship with the beloved.

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If you love to laugh and cry and laugh again while reading a book, you must read Bebang Siy’s It’s a Mens World. Recently published by Anvil, I first spotted the book at the Manila Book Fair and was intrigued by the title. Was it a typo error? A deliberate naming ploy to attract buyers?

The mystery is solved in the first chapter. No spoilers here, I’d rather you read it for yourself for maximum impact, but this book is full of clever tricks that hook the reader, set her up, and deliver bang-up punchlines that will result in laughter, tears, or both.

Masterfully written in Filipino, it’s a memoir of a Filipino-Chinese girl growing up in a broken home. Though beset by financial disadvantages and adversity, her spirit is not quelled; instead, she fights back with humor, and emerges from the ring wiser and wackier.

Bebang (Beverly) Siy is a creative writing graduate of the University of the Philippines. She was a working student and a single mother to her son EJ, yet still managed to finish cum laude and serve as the UP Writers’ Club vice-president. She works for the Filipinas Copyright Licensing Society (the country’s reprographic rights organization for authors and publishers). Her poetry and short stories in different genres – romance, horror, erotic – have been published in various anthologies.

It’s a Mens World is available at all major bookstores, and will be followed by an “ala Margie Holmes” book where Bebang presents “advice but in a wacky way”. And what better way to receive advice?

Have your copies of It’s a Mens World autographed at Bebang’s talk on humor writing on October 21 at the Conspiracy Garden Café, Visayas Avenue, Quezon City. The event, organized by the Freelance Writers of the Philippines, starts at 6pm. The P100 entrance fee gets you a free beer and a raffle ticket. *** 

Pink ribbon image here. Bebang Siy book cover and author photos from the author’s Facebook page.

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1 Comment on pop goes the world: breasts, blankets, and bebang

  1. Lian Chua
    20 October 2011 at 12:40 pm (3187 days ago)

    Many thanks for the write up on ICanServe. We appreciate it! I am a volunteer and a 3 time cancer survivor myself. Thank you for being our advocate too! Stay well.