Unexpectedly Yours

Unexpectedly Yours

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Happy Meals? (South China Morning Post, 2004)

Happy meals?
South China Morning Post [Hong Kong] 03 June 2004: 13.

One film that is making waves in the United States is Super Size Me, a documentary about what happens when the actor-director eats McDonald's food for one month without exercising.

What happens is that his weight balloons 11kg (it takes him 13 months to lose it), he vomits, suffers depression, fatigue and chest tightness. Certified fit by doctors at the start of his binge, he winds up a puffy, physical wreck at the end.

Shortly before the documentary was released, McDonald's in the US quietly dropped its "Supersize" portions and introduced the allegedly healthy "Go Active" meals. But it seems the message has not percolated down to its overseas branches, because here in the Philippines, the fast-food behemoth is right now promoting its products as ideal for pregnant women. Its advertising campaign features a high-powered pregnant entertainer, Sharon Cuneta. A huge billboard along Edsa, Manila's main thoroughfare, has a picture of Cuneta looking lovingly at a lineup of McDonald's entrees and a Filipino caption that, roughly translated, reads: "How delicious it is to crave McDonald's when you're pregnant." Now, from what I remember from my days as a health reporter, a pregnant woman needs a lot of folic acid, found in green and leafy vegetables. When she eats McNuggets, she is instead going to get a substance called dimethylpolysiloxane, described as an "anti-foaming agent" and TBHQ, a "stabiliser". One appalled American judge called McNuggets a "McFrankenstein creation".

Cuneta has probably not heard of a World Health Organisation technical report that found a probable link between obesity and fast foods, and goes on to say that "fast-food restaurants, and foods and beverages that are usually classified under the 'eat least' category in dietary guidelines are among the most heavily marketed products".

But the main reason why nobody is taking McDonald's to task is that in the Philippines, fast foods never get the bad press they do in the US. In fact, they are seen as something of a treat. McDonald's is a relative newcomer, arriving only in 1980, but its appearance signalled the onset of a change in local eating habits. Filipinos gave up their noodles and steamed buns and started wolfing down hamburgers, sickly-sweet spaghetti dishes and fatty, crispy- fried chicken.

Already, according to the Department of Health, the number one cause of mortality in this country is heart disease, followed by vascular diseases. Both are preventable, through changes in diet and lifestyle. But given that campaigns like McDonald's go uncontested, it is unlikely that Filipinos are going to eat less fast food.

Copyright South China Morning Post Ltd. Jun 3, 2004

Sunog sa Sinehang Nagpalabas ng "Bituing Walang Ningning" (New York Times, 1985)


AP. New York Times [New York, N.Y] 22 Apr 1985: A.4.

A rural audience fled in panic from a fire in a movie house complex in the southern Philippines today, and 44 people, most of them teen-agers, were killed, the police said.

Fifty-three people were injured.

"Somebody shouted fire and all of a sudden there was confusion - people started rushing to the doors," said Jeanette Barja, 13 years old, who was one of 20 people injured seriously enough to be hospitalized. She spoke in a telephone interview from a hospital in Tabaco, 200 miles southeast of Manila.

 The police said 33 other people received injuries but did not require hospital care.

The theater complex is on the second floor of a three-story building in the center of Tabaco. An inn, a restaurant and a department store are also in the building.

Miss Barja was among fans, including mothers carrying babies, who packed the Cine Aracade's Cinema I to watch a movie titled "Star Without a Glow." The movie featured Sharon Cuneta, a favorite movie star.
Policemen said the fire was actually in the adjacent Cinema II, which was showing two foreign-language films. That theater was almost deserted. Two charred bodies were found there, indicating the rest of the deaths occurred as people fled, the police said.

The police said most of the victims were teen-agers and the official Philippine News Agency said those killed included six children aged 3 to 9.

"The people panicked and were screaming and running," the Tabaco police chief, Lieut. Col. Maximo Hebrio, said in a telephone interview. "Many fell down the stairs and other were trampled to death at the doorways."

Colonel Hebrio said the fire was a "small one" that burned only part of the theater.

The town is in the Bicol region of Luzon Island where Communist guerrillas are active. The Government has blamed rebels for eight recent hotel fires that killed about 60 people in Manila and the northern city of Baguio.

The rebels denied responsibility for the fires, and Colonel Hebrio said today that he did not think the movie house fire was caused by guerrillas.

Copyright New York Times Company Apr 22, 1985

(Picture not originally included in the article.)

Ang Latest on Sharon Cuneta (February 12, 2013, TV5)


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