The Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX) will hold its first-ever virtual induction of officers and inaugural ceremonies today. Taking over the helm of the country’s foremost finance organization as the 2021 FINEX President is seasoned lawyer Francisco Edralin Lim, former President and CEO of the Philippine Stock Exchange.
Fresh from his stint as 2020 President of the Management Association of the Philippines, Mr. Lim brings a new perspective to FINEX, which coincidentally is also celebrating today the 53rd anniversary of its founding on Jan. 15, 1968. His board’s theme for this year is “Transcending New Frontier. Leading Beyond Recovery.”
Speaking of new frontiers, one of the most challenging is the development of vaccines and prophylactic treatments for COVID-19. The mutation of the SARS-COV-2 virus has reportedly spawned new variants in the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Nigeria that threaten to spread rapidly to other parts of the globe. This raises the need for the Philippines to expand its options beyond mass vaccination since it has to compete with other nations for the limited vaccine supply.
When the pandemic started a year ago, the Department of Science and Technology (DoST) started clinical testing and research on virgin coconut oil (VCO) and its components to supplement the diet and medicines of COVID-19 patients. This was among the Philippines’ initial contributions to the United Nations’ call for initiatives against COVID-19 and was reported to the UN Commission on Science and Technology in Geneva, Switzerland last May.
Based on a study by the DoST-Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), VCO taken as a food supplement can reduce symptoms among probable and suspected COVID-19 cases. DoST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña disclosed that the FNRI study involved patients at two isolation facilities in Santa Rosa, Laguna who underwent a 28-day intervention period last August and September.
Around that time, Dr. Ed Lalusis also cited the results of another study on the efficacy of VCO for inmates and employees of the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) who were found positive with COVID-19 and subsequently recovered after being given VCO food supplements as part of a cocktail of treatments. The CPDRC study was conducted by Ateneo de Manila University professor emeritus Dr. Fabian Dayrit and Cebu City integrative medicine expert Dr. Jose Ray Mondejar.
Dr. Lalusis is the inventor of the patented cold-process pure VCO in capsule form, which is being manufactured in the Caloocan City plant of Growrich Manufacturing, Inc. (GMI). A retired surgeon, he now serves as president and CEO of GMI — having seen the health benefits derived by Filipinos from VCO for its ability to boost immunity that is crucial during this pandemic.
According to Dr. Lalusis, the government should be more aggressive in supporting controlled studies to establish the medical benefits of VCO and include it as an additional regimen to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. He believes this would provide Filipinos a more accessible alternative in protecting themselves against COVID-19 as well as promote the interests of poor coconut farmers and workers in the coco-processing industry.
His views are echoed by Marco Reyes, president of VCO Philippines and vice chairman of the United Coconut Associations of the Philippines. A chemical engineer by profession, Mr. Reyes stressed that as an antiviral functional food supplement, VCO is not confined only to fighting COVID-19 but also the broad spectrum of viruses afflicting humanity.
Lamenting that the Department of Health has been silent on the DoST-FNRI findings, Mr. Reyes thinks that mass vaccination in the Philippines will start in the third quarter with priority for frontliners, seniors, and the poorest of the poor. In view of the long wait for the foreign-manufactured vaccines, tapping the therapeutic benefits of VCO should ease concerns about the surge of COVID-19 cases.
Our leaders need not look far in searching for preventive and curative therapies. VCO is available all over the country and can be purchased over-the-counter in many retail outlets. More significantly, there is sufficient medical evidence attesting to its efficacy plus the fact that we have the so-called “tree of life” in great abundance.
J. Albert Gamboa is CFO of the Asian Center for Legal Excellence and chairman of FINEX Publications.