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 LOVERS IN PHILIPPINE EPICS AND FOLKLORES           It has been said and written many times that the best and most passionate lovers both i...




LOVERS IN PHILIPPINE EPICS AND FOLKLORES
 

        It has been said and written many times that the best and most passionate lovers both in myth and real life romances are soul mates in the spiritual world. Myths and legends all over the world are full of stories of love and romance born out of destiny. Many great epics were also written behind many lovers' adventures. Even the greatest book ever written, the Bible, are teeming with love stories, from Adam and Eve, to Jacob and Rachel, to David and Bathsheba.

        Philippine epics and folklores also have their share of Romeos and Juliets, not to mention ancient mythical tales of soul mates and the first man and woman. From love stories carved in bamboos or written in goat-skin parchments to legends and epics illustrated in the pages of komiks, to folklores transformed into modern romances on the pages of pocketbooks. Here are a few glimpses of the richness of Philippine culture.

 

THE FIRST MAN AND WOMAN
Nestor Redondo’s illustrative rendition of
Genesis: Adam and Eve, and the Days of Creation
        There are many arguments as to the beginning of humankind. How did the first man and the first woman came to be? Charles Darwin believed he and his kind are descendants of apes. Sorry for him.

        The biblical account tells us that God created man in His own image. The first man was Adam and from his rib his mate Eve was formed by God to be his companion (Genesis 2:23): “And she was called wo-man because he came from man.” This is actually the more popular and traditional second account of creation found in Genesis. The first account (Genesis 1:27), on the other hand, narrates “So God created human beings, making them to be like Himself. He created them male and female,” which suggest that the first man Adam was created simultaneously with his wife, the name of which was not mentioned in the first Genesis account. In some Judaic text and the Talmud, Adam’s first “mate” was named Lilith. She refused to assume a subservient role to Adam and left the Garden of Eden (In modern times, she is considered an icon of the women’s liberation movement). Left alone, Adam became lonely, so God put him to sleep and from his rib He created Eve. That would explain the second account.

        Ever wonder, in the biblical Genesis, how they were able to procreate when Eve was the only woman? While it may be given that incest was allowed in the beginning of creation, there is another explanation. If you read the accounts narrating the descendants of Adam (Genesis 5), you’ll notice that only the male descendants are mentioned, there were no female name mentioned. Remember, however, that in the beginning God said “He created them male and female” (Genesis 1:27 and 5:2) So, in the beginning, at birth, every man is born with his future wife, his soul mate. They were, in “modern” sense, paternal twins and given only one name. This would also explain how Cain had descendants. When he was driven out of Eden to be a “homeless wanderer,” his wife – twin sister – was with him.

        In the entire world there are many stories narrating the beginning of time and the birth of the first man and woman on earth. As many as the cultures and subcultures of the world are such stories.

         In the Philippines, there is the story of Malakas at Maganda. There are many versions of this story. The most popular Tagalog version tells of a bluebird with the tip of its tail feather like a big human eye perched on a huge bamboo after many days of flying. When it saw a tiny lizard walking on the bamboo, the bird tried to catch it with its beak. It pecked at the bamboo several times. There was a loud thunder and the bamboo cracked in the middle. Out came a man and a woman named Malakas and Maganda. They both had brown skin and supple bodies. Malakas had strong arms and agile feet. Maganda, on the other hand, was extremely beautiful, equally agile and industrious. In today’s Filipino language, “malakas” means strong or powerful, and “maganda” means beautiful. They were the first couple in the Tagalog legends of creation.
Si Malakas at Si Maganda
as portrayed in Nestor Redondo’s illustration.
        The tale of the Limokon bird of the Mandayas of Mindanao is another version of this story. Once upon a time, a limokon bird laid two eggs. One was laid at the mouth of a river; the other at its source. When the eggs hatched, a strong man and a beautiful woman climbed out of the broken shells. Years passed without either of them knowing about the other's existence.

        One day, the man was fishing in the river, when long, long strands of hair swirled around his legs and gripped them tightly. He slipped and fell, and would have drowned had he not been a very good swimmer. Angrily, he walked upstream to look for the owner of the hair. He was surprised to see a lovely woman washing her long hair on the riverbank. He took her for his wife and they became the ancestors of the Mandayas.

 

THE FIRST COITUS
        How did the first man and woman learn to make love? In the Bible (Genesis 1:28), God commanded the first man and woman to “Go forth, be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it.” There was no instruction manual for beginners for the act of coitus. What was simply mentioned was that Adam “knew” his wife and she, afterwards, conceived. The word “know” in a biblically scholarly context is attributed to mean “copulate” or “to have sex.” That is, before the word sex was first coined, where else but in the later chapters of the Bible.

        All over the world, many folklores and pseudomythical stories came to exist trying to justify how the first man and woman learn the act and art of sexual intercourse. The Sumerians, the oldest dated civilization on earth, believed that the first human, Adapa, was created by their gods Enki and Ninki by mixing the blood of a slain god with clay and taught him how to copulate and procreate. This is millennia before the Kama Sutra was even conceived in India.

        In most “creation” stories, it is given that humans learned sexual intercourse by watching the animals do it in the same manner they understood that copulation is connected to childbirth. But how did the animals learned it? Talk about “animal instinct!”

        Scientifically speaking, animals and humans are genetically hard wired for sex as a biological imperative. This is supposed to be the “scientific” explanation. While animals, however, copulate through mere instinct, humans have higher cognitive abilities. They learned through experience that emotions like love and lust play a great role in sex.

        In an Ilocano or Igorot legend, sex was taught by a bird to the first man and woman. Like in the Tagalog and Mandayan stories, after the first man and woman emerge, they need to learn how to procreate to be able to populate the world. In the Ilocano tale, a talking bird named In-inyutan was tasked to teach the rudiments of sexual intercourse to the first couple. The bird asked the different animals to demonstrate to the couple the way to do it. Soon they were able to mimic the act and do it themselves. They always remembered the name of the bird and shout it aloud as a tribute whenever they felt like doing it. In some version the name of the bird was Iyutan, which in vulgar Ilocano means “copulation.”
 

THE FIRST UNDOINGS
        Philippine folklore is not apart from the rest of the world with regards to stories of man’s (and woman’s) first sins.

        One Yligueynes legend from the Visayas tells of the first century of creation. The god Kaptan planted a reed. When the reed grew, it broke into two sections. The first section became the first man, Sikalak. The other became the first woman, Sikabay.

        One day, Sikalak asked Sikabay to be his wife. She refused because they were brother and sister that came from the same reed. They then decided to ask the large fish of the sea, the birds in the air, and the guardian of the earthquakes under the earth. All of them agreed it was necessary because Sikalak and Sikabay need to populate the earth. They made love, the first case of arranged incest came to be, and the world was empty no more.

        A couple of generations after, in the island of Panay lived Pandaguan, the grandchild of Sikalak and Sikabay. He was married to his cousin Lupluban and had a son, Anoranor.

        Pandaguan was fond of fishing, and invented the first fishing net. One day he caught a shark and brought it ashore, thinking that it would not die. But the shark died and the shocked Pandaguan wept aloud.

        Kaptan heard Pandaguan’s cries and sent flies and the weevil to see what happened. When he learned about the shark’s death, he got angry and killed Pandaguan with a thunderbolt. The soul of Pandaguan was punished in the infernal region. After thirty days, Kaptan took pity on Pandaguan and returned him back to the world of the living.

        Now it so happened that while Pandaguan was supposedly dead, Lupluban went to live with a man named Maracoyrun. It was the first case of adultery on earth. When Pandaguan returned to their home, he did not mind his wife’s absence. He invited some friends and they feasted on a stolen pig. That was the first case of theft on earth.

        After the feast, he started to look for Lupluban. He sent Anoranor to fetch her. But Lupluban refused to return, believing that Pandaguan was dead and could not possibly return to the world. Pandaguan was irritated and in a fit of jealousy killed himself, the first case of suicide on earth. He went back to the infernal region. Since then, everybody who dies can no longer return back to life.
 

ALI-BUG: ALIGUYON AND BUGAN
Aliguyon and Bugan,
illustrated by Jose Miguel Tejido
on the cover page of
Mae Astrid Tobias’ book Halikpon:
A Retelling of an Ancient Ifugao Chant
(2006)

        Long, long, long before the Al-Dub TV romance fever, there was the “Ali-Bug” legend. The hero of the Ifugao Hudhud (literally means “song of harvest”), Aliguyon, was a great and powerful fighter. He was invincible in battle, could catch spears in the air, and fought many combats to win his wife Bugan, who was the daughter of his father’s arch-enemy. Bugan was just a child when Aliguyon fell in love with her (This is probably before the time of the Greeks, who invented pedophilia – the “love of children.”). One episode tells of his duel with Pumbakhayon, Bugan’s older brother, a warrior of equal strength from the village of Daligdigan. They fought for one and a half years, rested, then fought again for another one and a half years, until a compromise was reached.

        Aliguyon and Pumbakhayon attended a feast of truce set by the elders. After sharing some food and wine, Pumbakhayon agreed to allow Aliguyon to take Bugan as his child-bride, while Pumbakhayon married Aliguyon’s sister, Aginaya. Aliguyon took care of Bugan in his house and protected her until she started menstruating and was old enough to marry, copulate and have children. The enemies became inlaws and they all live in peace and happiness.
 

TORN BETWEEN TWO LOVERS
Humadapnon: Ang Paghahanap Kay Nagmalitong Yawa (1981),
by Jose Romero and Ronelito Escauriaga.

        In the Sulod epic Hinilawod (in ancient Hiligaynon dialect, it means “stories from the Halawod River”), Humadapnon had divine ancestry, supernatural strength, and guardian spirits to save him from danger. Humadapnon’s most exciting adventure was his search for Nagmalitong Yawa, a beautiful maiden whom he saw in his dream. He boarded his golden boat, sailed in perilous seas, and was held captive for years by an enchantress, Ginmayunan, before he finally met and won the love of Nagmalitong Yawa.

        During their wedding, Humadapnon’s brother, Dumalapdap met Huyung Adlaw, the daughter of one of the guests, Nabalansang Sukla, the god of the Upperworld. Dumalapdap asked his brother to help him talk to the maiden’s parents. They went to the Upperworld. The journey took seven years. Matan-ayon, Humadapnon’s mother suggested to Nagmalitong Yawa to remarry again because it seems her husband is not coming back.

        Nagmalitong Yawa decided to marry Buyung Sumagulung, the son of an island ruler Mamang Paglambuhan. The wedding ceremony was about to begin when Humadapnon and Dumalapdap returned. The two were angered for what had happened that they killed the groom and all the guests. Humadapnon confronted his wife about the treachery and stabbed her. Later his conscience bothered him for what he did. His spirit friends also told him that Nagmalitong Yawa was not at fault and that what he did was unjust. With remorse in his heart he approached his sister Labing Anyag and asked for her help for she had the power to bring back life to the dead. Seeing that her brother was genuinely sorry for what he did, she complied and brought back Nagmalitong Yawa from the dead.

        Nagmalitong Yawa felt shame for what happened so she ran away from Humadapnon and went to the Underworld which was ruled by her uncle, Panlinugun, the lord of earthquakes. Humadapnon followed her to the Underworld killing the eight-headed snake that guarded the channel leading to the place. She ran towards the Upperworld but half-way between the Middleworld and the Upperworld she was taken away by a young man riding on the shoulders of the wind.

        Humadapnon caught up with them and challenged the stranger to a duel. They fought for seven years with no one gaining the upperhand. The long fight was being witnessed by the goddess Alunsina from above. She got tired watching the contest so she came down to settle the case. During the deliberations it was revealed to everyone’s surprise that the stranger who took Nagmalitong Yawa was Amarotha, a son of Alunsina who died at childbirth but was brought back to life by her to keep her company. Alunsina decided that each man was entitled to a part of Nagmalitong Yawa so she ordered that the latter’s body be cut in half. One half went to Humadapnon and the other to Amarotha. Alunsina then turned each half of Nagmalitong Yawa into a whole live woman. Humadapnon brought his wife back to Panay and ruled the island for centuries.
 

PRINCESS URDUJA
Urduja as portrayed in the 1956 painting of
Cesar Amorsolo (1903-1998)

        Who could forget the story of Prinsesa Urduja? There are many versions of this native legendary tale, and even our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, believe that her story is authentic. The one I remembered the most, however, was told by my grandmother when I was a kid. It is similar to the storyline of the 1974 film Urduja which starred Amalia Fuentes and Vic Vargas. Urduja was a famous heroine in northwestern Luzon, so beautiful and yet unmatched in her military prowess and fighting skill. She swore by her ancestor, the goddess of the wind, Amihan, that she will not marry any man lest he can defeat her in combat. Her name in ancient Ilokano-Tawalisi language means “soaring wind.”

        Many came from different tribes throughout the archipelago, and some coming from other countries like Borneo, Siam, China and Japan, and as far away as India. None of them succeeded. Then one day, Urduja bought a neck-shackled slave from pirate traders. The slave was suffering from amnesia. He doesn’t know his own name or where he came from, but he was good looking, strong and muscular. In truth, he was Sulayman, a prince, descendant from the Madjapahit empire.

        Sulayman refused to be subjugated and obey Urduja’s biddings. So, he was severely punished, but Sulayman was as strong as an ox and survived the ordeal. In the process, he regained his memory. Knowing about Urduja’s vow of marrying only the man who could overcome her, Sulayman challenge the princess to a contest. Urduja mocked Sulayman but agree to give him a chance. Sulayman won all, spear throwing, bow and arrows, sword fighting and hand-to-hand combat. Lakan kapati, Urduja’s father, however, refused to marry them because Sulayman was a mere slave. Thereupon Sulayman announced his real name, removed the shackle from his neck revealing a mark of the throne of the Madjapahit symbolizing he is a prince. They were married, and Urduja soon learned to love his fated prince. Unfortunately, barely three months after, Sulayman was mortally wounded when he used his body to shield the pregnant Urduja from a barrage of enemy arrows. After the birth of her only child, Urduja never loved again.
 

THAT’S INCREDIBLE
The legend of Lam-Ang
retold by Virgilio S. Almario’s
inThe Love of Lam-Ang (1983),
with illustrations by Albert E. Gamos.

        According to Pedro Bukaneg’s narrative epic, Biag ni Lam-ang, in the town of Malbuan in the valley of the Naguilian River, there lived a couple, Juan Panganiban and his wife, Namongan. When Namongan was well on the way in his pregnancy, his husband went off to the mountains to fight the fierce headhunter tribe, Ilongots. Lam-ang was born during his absence. The hero could already talk at the moment of his birth, thus he was able to give his chosen name.

        Lam-ang grew rapidly so that when he was nine months old, he had already the body and size of a full-grown man. He decided to look for his father. With the aid of magic stones and magical pets, he traveled to the land of the Ilongots. He came upon the beheaded body of his father. In a mad desire for vengeance, he killed an entire tribe of headhunters.

        Lam-ang returned home to the great welcome and admiration of his people. Despite this attention, however, Lam-ang felt something was lacking in his life. Lam-ang then met and was captivated by the beautiful Ines Kannoyan living in the place called Calunitian. Accompanied by his pets – a rooster and a dog – he journeyed to get his beloved. Ines Kannoyan’s place was surrounded by a thick crowd of suitors. Lam-ang’s rooster flapped its wings and the outhouse was toppled. This amazed everybody, including Ines Kannoyan. Then his dog barked and the outhouse rose back to its former position. All the suitors gave way in favor of Lam-ang except for Sumarang, a giant who would not yield. Lam-ang defeated him in a duel. After giving her a dowry of two gold ships full of worldly treasures, Lam-ang married Ines Kannoyan with the largest wedding feast that ever been seen in the province.

        In order to secure the union’s blessing, Lam-ang was informed that he must dive down to the very depths of the sea and retrieve a pearl from a magical oyster, otherwise the marriage would have bad luck. So, Lam-ang dove into the sea and, on his way down, was eaten by a shark. Heartbroken, Ines Kannoyan went into mourning, as did most of the town, as Lam-ang was their hero. The next day, Lam-ang’s rooster, who had magical powers, spoke to Ines Kannoyan, and told her to have Lam-ang’s bones fished out of the sea. She did as she was instructed, retrieving Lam-ang’s bones before the rooster, who then blew on them. Lam-ang was resurrected immediately, embraced his wife, and the town had their incredible hero back.
 

LOVE MOST POWERFUL OF ALL
Illustrative depiction of Francisco Balagtas;
on the background a scene from Florante at Laura;
on the right foreground a side view of Selya,
taken from the front cover of
Philippine Panorama (March 28, 2004).

        In a much later epic, Florante at Laura, the immortal classic of enduring love written by Francisco “Balagtas” Baltazar (1788-1862), the “Prince of Filipino Poets,” one could read the poet’s depiction of the injustices and sufferings of the Filipinos, but also an outpouring of unequaled intensity of emotion he himself experienced.

        In the epic’s dedicatory poem, Kay Selya, which he recalled and offered anew the nostalgic reminiscences of his first love, Maria Asuncion Rivera, one will be awed by the mixture of sweet and warmth with bitterness and despair.

        Here are some lines of his profound inquiring longings:

        “Nasasaan si Selyang ligaya ng dibdib?
        Ang suyuan nami’y bakit di lumawig?
        Nahan ang panahong isa niyang titig
        Ang siyang buhay ko, kaluluwa’t langit?”

 
        My English version/translation:
        (Where is Selya the joy of my heart?
        Why have our love forlorn and broken apart?
        Where are the moments that her one glance
        Is my life, my soul, and heavenly deliverance?)

        In the epic itself, we can find the following unforgetable lines:

        "O pagsintang labis ng kapangyarihan,
        Sampung mag-aama'y iyong nasasaklaw!
        Pag ikaw ang nasok sa puso ninuman,
        Hahamaking lahat masunod ka lamang."

        (Oh love most powerful of them all,
        Even between father and son you enthrall!
        If thou enters in any man's heart,
        Conquer all things thou certainly art.)

        The lines, however, were not specific to Florante and Laura, but to Aladin and Flerida, the two other major characters in the epic. It was about a father who would divest his son of everything, including his life, for the love of a woman. Indeed to whatever ends, no matter how noble or tragic, love is the power that be. But as in most epics of poetic love, the heroes (lovers) are reunited in the conclusion - Florante with his Laura and Aladin with Flerida - and the villains met their downfall.

        Omnia vincit amor (Love conquers all)!  Indeed!

 

 




ON SHAKEY GROUND           Hundreds of tremors happened in different parts of the world every day, and many people have experienced them. So...



ON SHAKEY GROUND
 

        Hundreds of tremors happened in different parts of the world every day, and many people have experienced them. Some found themselves at the center of major earthquakes. This can be a terrifying experience. Inside buildings, ceilings collapse, furnitures are tossed around, and windows shatters. Outside, the grounds heave violently. Trees and telephone poles fall. Pipes, drains, and electrical wirings are torn apart.
        Just how badly a quake hits depends on its magnitude, how deep the source (hypocenter), and how far the distance (epicenter) from you. The hypocenter is where the quake begins, usually when huge rocks suddenlyshift along a fault line. The epicenter is the point on the Earth’s surface directly above the hypocenter. As shock waves spread out from here, they decrease in strength. The effects of the earthquake also depend on the type of ground it hits. Strong bedrock can resist shaking, but soft. loose ground shakes violently and may turn into a muddy liquid, a process called liquefaction.

Magnitude
Average number per year
Modified Mercalli Intensity
Description
0 – 1.9
>1 million
Micro – not felt
2.0 – 2.9
>1 million
I
Minor – rarely felt
3.0 – 3.9
Around 100,000
II – III
Noticeable – noticed by a few people
4.0 – 4.9
Around 10,000
IV – V
Light – felt by many people, minor damage possible
5.0 – 5.9
Around 1,000
VI – VII
Moderate – felt by most people, possible broken plaster and chimneys
6.0 – 6.9
Around 120-150
VII – IX
Strong – damage variable depending on building construction and substrate
7.0 – 7.9
Around 15
IX – X
Major – wide-spread damage, some buildings destroyed
8.0 – 8.9
about 1
X – XII
Great – extensive damage over broad areas, many buildings destroyed
9.0 and above
< 1
XI – XII
Extreme – massive and extensive damage over broad areas, most buildings destroyed
 
(The article On Shaky Ground and the accompanying illustrations, re-published with editing from Reader’s Digest: Earthquake and Volcanoes, 2000, p. 22-23).


HOW EFFECTIVE IS GARLIC AS A MEDICINE?             The ancient Egyptians revered it, Greek Olympians chewed it before competing, and the Chi...



HOW EFFECTIVE IS GARLIC AS A MEDICINE?
 
          The ancient Egyptians revered it, Greek Olympians chewed it before competing, and the Chinese listed it as cure for dozens of ailments. For centuries there has been a mystical folklore about garlic (scientifically known as Allium sativum) and its magical healing ability. On blind faith, many used it to cure colds, flu and a whole shopping list of ailments. People knew garlic made them feel better, but they didn’t always understand how.

          Today scientists have discovered not only how certain microbial and cancer-fighting chemicals from garlic work but why they work the way they do. With years of serious research behind them, these researchers are now convinced that garlic has been highly effective in reducing the two leading causes of death, cancer and heart disease and extending life itself.
 

STUDIES AND RESEARCH
Engraving of garlic (Allium sativum) plant,
showing the head (bottom left), leaf, stem, and flower.
(From William Woodville, Medical Botany, 1793).

          One of the leading authorities on garlic research, Dr. Robert I. Lin, chairman of the First World Congress of the Health Significance of Garlic and Garlic Constituents, suggests that a daily dose of cooked garlic or garlic extract along with good eating habits and a good lifestyle “can substantially reduce the risks of cancer and cardiovascular disease in society.”

          Dr. Lin discovered that when garlic is cooked, processed, or metabolized, it releases a compound called thiol or thiol reagents that may modulate the body’s defense against cancerous cells. He also proved that these substances could protect the body against the harmful effect of radiation therapy and protect the liver against environmental pollution.

          “Garlic is the best candidate as a cancer-fighting substance,” says National Cancer Institute (NCI) scientist, Dr. Herbert Pierson. He pointed out that research in both China and Italy show a large reduction in stomach cancer by people who ate various forms of garlic on a daily basis.

          Even more interesting is the fact that garlic not only prevents tumor growth, but also stimulates immune cells, according to Dr. Benjamin Lau, physician and author of the book, Garlic for Health. “Garlic apparently stimulates the body’s immune system, particularly enhancing the macrophages and lymphocytes, which destroy cancer cells.”

          Garlic, a member of the onion family, has been used medicinally throughout history. It was enlisted as a curative alternative during Europe’s “Black Plague” in the 1300s and was used to treat typhus and dysentery during World War I. “Its use goes back at least 7,000 years to Egyptian times, when the slaves who built the pyramids were given a daily ration of it, not only to spice their food, but to keep them healthy,” says chemist and author Peter Josling, who wrote the book The Complete Garlic Handbook.

          In his Natural History, Pliny (A.D. 23-79) gave an exceedingly long list of scenarios in which it was considered beneficial. The 2nd century Greek physician Galen eulogized it as the “rustic’s theriac” (cure-all).

          In 1858, French scientist Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) observed garlic’s antibacterial activity, and it was used as an antiseptic to prevent gangrene during World War I and World War II. More recently it has been found from a clinical trial that a mouthwash containing 2.5 percent fresh garlic shows good antimicrobial activity, although the majority of the participants reported an unpleasant taste and halitosis (offensive-smelling breath).

          In recent times, garlic has been shown to cause modest reductions in blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and has been suggested to have antibiotic properties as well. As early as 1924, garlic was used as a tincture for the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis or phthisis.

          In 2007 a BBC news story reported that Allium sativum may have beneficial properties, such as preventing and fighting the common cold. This assertion has the backing of long tradition. Chinese medicine used garlic for hoarseness and coughs. It was adopted by traditional British herbalists both as an anti-cough syrup and in a salve mixed with lard, which was rubbed on the chest and back of patients. The Cherokee Indians also used it as an expectorant for coughs and croup.

          Dr. Stephen Fulder, director of Consultancy and Research of Biomedicine at Oxford University, reports that garlic is now one of the most popular self-medications for lowering blood pressure.

          Garlic contains vitamins A and C, potassium, phosphorus, selenium, some 75 different sulfur compounds, and a number of amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins. The sulfur-containing compound allicin, found in fresh garlic but in only trace amounts in supplements, has been shown to protect against cancers in studies done on animals.

          One of the first large studies to suggest a link between garlic consumption and cancer prevention was the Iowa Women’s Health Study, published in 1994, which included more than 40,000 women. Researchers found that of all the fruits and vegetables studied, garlic had the strongest association with a decreased risk of colon cancer.

          One reason for garlic’s beneficial effects may be its ability to lessen the amount of free radicals present in the bloodstream. According to a study published in Life Sciences, a daily dose of one milliliter per kilogram of body weight of garlic extract for six months resulted in a significant reduction in oxidant (free radical) stress in the blood of patients with atherosclerosis. Since atherosclerotic plaques develop when cholesterol circulating in the bloodstream is damaged or oxidized, garlic’s ability to prevent these oxidation reactions may explain some of its beneficial effects in atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases. A German study published in Toxicology Letters indicates that garlic also greatly reduces plaque deposition and size by preventing the formation of the initial complex that develops into an atherosclerotic plaque. Called “nanoplaque,” it is formed when calcium binds to proteoheparan sulfate and then to LDL cholesterol. Garlic prevents the binding of calcium to proteoheparan sulfate, thus decisively inhibiting plaque generation.

 

MEDICAL POTENTIALS
Four cloves of raw garlic,
contain around 35 to 50 milligrams of allicin.
          Research presented at the 6th Annual Conference on Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology held by the American Heart Association in Washington, D.C., suggests that garlic can help prevent and potentially reverse atherosclerotic plaque formation. The laboratory studies, conducted by well-known German scientist Professor G√ľautnter Siegel, M.D., from the University of Medicine in Berlin, Germany, found that powdered garlic reduced the formation of nanoplaque (the first building blocks of atherosclerotic plaque) by up to 40 percent and reduced the size of the nanoplaque that did form by up to 20 percent

          Laboratory research by Swedish scientists and US published in the August 2005 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals the mechanism behind garlic’s cardiovascular benefits. The compounds in garlic responsible for its pungency also excite a neuron pathway providing cardiovascular benefits. Garlic’s pungency – and that of the other members of the Allium genus, such as onions, leeks and chives – results from its organosulphur compounds, allicin and diallyl disulphide (DADS). In this current in vitro study, allicin and DADS were found to activate perivascular sensory nerve endings, inducing the relaxation and enlargement of blood vessels, lowering blood pressure and improving blood flow throughout the body.

          One of the breakdown products of allicin is S-allyl Cysteine (SAC), a water-soluble chemical shown by studies at Pennsylvania State University to kill or retard the growth of breast cancer cells. Another study at the same university showed diallyl disulfide (DADS) and diallyl trisulfide (DATS), both oil-soluble garlic components, kill or retard the development of lung, skin and colon cancers.

          Why is solubility important? There are two systems of circulation in the human body, one for water-soluble solutions (the arterial/venous system) and one for fat or oil-soluble compounds (the lymphatic system). Since some cancer cells spread via the lymphatic system, the oil-soluble DADS or DATS can seek them out. SAC can spread throughout the body to find cancer cells via the circulatory system, due to its water-solubility. The compounds retard the cellular division and, therefore, growth of cancer cells in the body via both channels, increasing the chance of being able to control, or slow down the rate of development of the cancer. It’s good to know that garlic has both kinds of compounds.

          “It has long been argued that garlic can fight a wide range of infections and now we have provided biochemical evidence for this claim.” The medical journal, Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, have confirmed the chemotherapeutic “Effects Of Garlic.” The researchers were able to study how garlic works at the molecular level using allicin, garlic’s main biologically active component.

          One study, explains how allicin fights infection. This research supports the notion that garlic is an excellent natural antimicrobial drug that can disable an unusually wide variety of infectious organisms.

          The second study helps to clarify the role allicin plays in preventing heart disease and other disorders. Scientists revealed and characterized a molecular mechanism by which allicin blocks certain groups of enzymes. Allicin, created when garlic cloves are crushed, protects the plant from soil parasites and fungi and is also responsible for garlic’s pungent smell.

          A natural weapon against infection, the research revealed allicin disables dysentery-causing amoebas by blocking two groups of enzymes, cysteine proteinases and alcohol dehydrogenases. Cysteine proteinase enzymes are among the main culprits in infection, providing infectious organisms with the means to damage and invade tissues. Alcohol dehydrogenase enzymes play a major role in these harmful organisms’ metabolism and survival. Because these groups of enzymes are found in a wide variety of infectious organisms such as bacteria, fungi and viruses, this research provides a scientific basis for the notion that allicin is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial, capable of killing bacteria and viruses and warding off different types of infections.

          Experiments by competent scientists, as well as experiences by ordinary people, have shown beyond any reasonable doubt that consuming garlic generally has the following physical and physiological effects:

          ● Raw Garlic is a potent natural antibiotic. While not as strong as modern hardcore antibiotics, it can kill strains of bacteria that have become immune or resistant to modern antibiotics. The role of allicin in warding off infection may be particularly valuable in light of the growing bacterial resistance to antibiotics. It is unlikely that bacteria would develop resistance to allicin because this would require modifying the very enzymes that make their activity possible.

          ● Garlic has anti-fungal and anti-viral properties. The allicin compound in garlic kills staph microorganisms in contact. (Note: Raw garlic can burn delicate skin).

          ● Garlic lowers blood pressure.

          ● Garlic lowers LDL Cholesterol.

          ● Garlic helps reduce atherosclerotic buildup (plaque) within the arterial system. One recent study shows this effect to be greater in women than men.

          ● Garlic lowers or helps to regulate blood sugar.

          ● Garlic helps to prevent blood clots from forming, thus reducing the possibility of strokes and thromboses (It may not be good for hemophiliacs).

          ● Garlic helps to prevent cancer, especially of the digestive system, prevents certain tumors from growing larger and reduces the size of certain tumors.

          ● Garlic helps to remove heavy metals such as lead and mercury from the body.

          ● Garlic dramatically reduces yeast infections due to Candida species.

          ● Garlic has anti-oxidant properties and is a source of selenium, which has been shown to have anti-tumor properties, and also provides protection against heavy metal toxicity. A cofactor of glutathione peroxidase (one of the body’s most important internally produced antioxidants), selenium also works with vitamin E in a number of vital antioxidant systems. Since vitamin E is one of the body’s top defenders in all fat-soluble areas, while vitamin C protects the water-soluble areas, garlic, which contains both nutrients, does a good job of covering all the bases. 

 

AGAINST THE DREADED CORONAVIRUSES
          This is just my personal experience. When I was a young kid, bronchitis seemed to be my diagnosed annual ailment. I’m always having persistent coughs and colds that last for a long time, even months in some occasions. Doctors then would prescribe cough syrups, expectorants, and loads of antibiotics. I felt my body, my immune system, going weak. Until I get to learn herbalism. I started using natural herbs to treat my ailments, especially when pharmaceutical drugs weren't particularly affective. It works – on my coughs, colds, sore throats, and even in preventing the onset of flu! So, from that moment on, whenever I feel like having a cold or flu, I would take herbs, ginger and garlic in particular. Ginger for sore throat and itchy lungs, and garlic for colds and flu. Both have been proven medically and scientifically to have antibiotic properties.

          The recent appearance of a new strain of Coronavirus in Wuhan, China, alarmed the entire world population. This 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) possesses a deadly epidemic threat. It is easily transmitted through contact with the infected people and animals. Experts said that the 2019-nCoV is more contagious but less deadly than the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). With the current geographical movements, it is almost impossible to stop the coronavirus outbreak from spreading globally.

          The common cold has been associated with more than a hundred different viruses, including Human Coronavirus and Rhinovirus. Common symptoms include nasal and throat discomfort, followed by sneezing, runny nose, coughing, nasal congestion and breathing difficulty, onset of flu or flu-like symptoms, weakness, and infirmity. Just like with the common cold virus, many recent strain of the coronavirus can stay on objects and items outside the body, from clothes to door handles, to glasses and accessories, and can circulate in the air that people breathe. The common cold viruses that belong to the same coronavirus family can survive on indoor surfaces for more than 7 days, although their ability to cause an infection will be rapidly reduced after 24 hours. It cannot survive on warm and hot environment.

          As scary as it may sound, we need to be fully aware that the novel coronavirus infection can only be lethal for those with a weak immune system. Initial diagnoses say that people with a strong immune system are unlikely to die from coronavirus infection. Elderly people, children, people who suffer from diabetes, lung disease, cancer or other chronic diseases are at a higher risk of the life-threatening condition induced by coronavirus infection.

          Now, so as not to be accused of practicing medicine without a license or quackery, this is just my theory, take it “with a grain of salt” and due diligence, review my research, and the logic behind my idea.

          Whenever I feel like having a cold or flu, I either chew a few pieces of garlic, swallow it and drink a little water, or take garlic oil capsule (available at herbal shops and drugstore). This I do half to an hour after eating. The first option is better, as you will feel the heat surging through your body. The next step is breathing in, inhaling air through your mouth, and then breathing out, exhaling through your nose. This will hasten and facilitate the “heat” from the garlic to pass through your lungs. I don’t recommend inhaling garlic oil into your nose (like other herbalists do).

          According to coronavirus researchers, one peculiar primary characteristic of this microbe is it seeks your lungs and attach to the walls with their antenna-like crown spikes. But the virus is easily killed when exposed to heat.

          Garlic has several anti-microbial components and it packs a wallop of bio-heat to do the finishing kick against fungi, bacteria and viruses. Get the logic?!

          Of course one needs to have a healthy immune system. This you do by eating healthy food and supplementing it with intake of multi-vitamins and micronutrients (for this ailment, zinc is vital and selenium, which is also present in garlic).

 

NOTE: You also need to know if you are allergic to ginger and garlic and, if you’re taking any forms of pharmaceutical drugs, if it is contra-indicatory to the drug. Eating raw garlic or taking garlic supplement may reduce the effectiveness of certain drugs like those you drink for blood clotting. Garlic is also known to help protect our body from toxic chemicals, consequently, it may treat certain drug components as toxic chemicals that need to be removed from the body.