A freelance marketer discovered that consumers worldwide are becoming more conscious and aware about their sexual health and wellness, and turn to herbals such as tongkat ali. Sensing the people’s craving for products that support healthy lifestyle, Tirsa Macina decided to take the lead in filling the market gap with what she calls her own magical blends.
She combined her marketing skills and knowledge of healthy products to establish a company that would carve its niche in the market.
“I used to be a freelance marketer. That’s where I started. After that, I saw the market and discovered my passion for spreading consciousness and awareness regarding health,” Macina says in an interview at the head office of the Department of Trade and Industry in Makati City.
“Then after I found out that it is a good business, I decided to create my own,” she says.
Macina is among the exhibitors at the Metro Festival 2013, which showcases food items, health and wellness products, shoes and clothes at discounted prices.
“I am now 43 years old. I established Magical Blend Marketing International in 2009,” she says. “Magical Blend is a company name and at the same time a brand name.”
“We have already existing five products, but we have two more products incoming,” Macina says.
She says her company aims to promote, enhance and educate healthy lifestyle among the public. Magical Blend is also open for distributorship and produces customized products such as gifts and giveaways.
Macina, who has five employees, says she imports most of her raw materials and manufactures them in a plant in Taytay, Rizal. She has a manufacturing contract with the plant.
Macina, who grew up in Legazpi City, says with her thriving business, she is able to send all her six children to school.
She started small, but found a great supporter in DTI. “When I created my products Magical Blend, I registered it with DTI’s One Town One Product. First exposure of my product was 2010 under OTOP trade fair,” she says.
The agency’s OTOP program showcases goods and products of different towns. “Since then, our products became known and we tapped the AB market. Every year, we see to it that we join the DTI promotional programs such as the Diskwento Caravan,” she says.
Macina says health and wellness is not only a business, but a lifestyle. “The people’s health concern is now about prevention and cure. Health and wellness is now a priority in every household,” she says.
“Prevention is better than cure. Our products are specifically designed for prevention and cure of diabetic and those with high blood pressure. For those who want to maintain their good health and at the same time, to have their business, we are also promoting entrepreneurship through our loyalty program,” says Macina.
She developed the Magical Blend privilege card, which provides discount to loyal customers who also would like to become distributors. Her hard work resulted in weekly sales of 2,000 boxes, amounting to P200,000 to P300,000. “Our customers are loyal to us because of our loyalty programs and the good effect of our products,” she says.
With constant promotion and hard work, Macina plans to expand her business by exporting her products. “We have actually sent a trial shipment to Japan,” she says.
Magical Blend has a showroom on Shaw Boulevard in Mandaluyong City. Recently, it has teamed up with Healthway Medical Clinic to distribute the products. “Our products are available in seven branches of AB Pharma Inc., the pharmacy inside Healthway,” she says.
Macina says with the help of DTI, Magical Blend also opened outlets in Cebu and Clark.
“We are inviting everyone to be part of our growing health and wellness initiative,” she says. RTD
Movie director: Sex is matter of personal freedom for adults
Egypt, April 17, 2017, Egypt Independent
Sex is a matter of personal freedom in adulthood and is a personal choice, said movie director Inas al-Degheidy in a controversial statement.
“Everyone has sex in accordance to their ideas, mentality, customs and traditions. But I cannot generalize because some people prohibit sex before marriage and are unconvinced that it is halal,” Degheidy added in a phone-in with the TV program Deutsche Welle.
Degheidy, an important women’s rights figure in Egypt, is known for her films that tackle difficult social issues and consequently has become a controversial figure, even having received death threats from Islamists.
Sharia professor at Al-Azhar University Ahmed Korayema meanwhile described Degheidy’s statement as “slander and delirium,” adding it contradicts heavenly religions and custom.
“What [Degheidy] is calling for is pornographic and contrary to the mind and all heavenly laws,” Korayema said, pointing out that the marriage contract is the only correct way to practice intimate relationship between men and women, he told OnTV Channel on Wednesday evening.
Pushing safe sex with ‘Miss Condom’ pageant
China, October 13, 2003 – China Daily
A bevy of Thai bar girls, health officials and a transvestite blew up condoms and paraded for a different kind of honor — the title of “Miss Condom Asia-Pacific.”
Featuring 20 contestants from four different nations, the contest aims to promote safe sex in Thailand — a country on the frontline in the war against HIV/AIDS in Asia.
But instead of twirling batons or warbling show tunes, “Miss Condom” competitors wowed the judges with their condom-blowing prowess and knowledge about the virus, which has infected over seven million people across the region.
“They can understand (condoms). They play with them and there’s no value judgment,” said Senator Mechai Viravaidya, known as “Mr. Condom” for his work in promoting AIDS awareness in Thailand.
“It’s education plus entertainment,” said Mechai, adding that the 20-year-old contest still helps to remove the stigma of condom use in a nation still ruled by conservative social mores.
Thailand, where infection rates are falling after a campaign to promote condoms among commercial sex workers, is one of the region’s rare success stories.
While infection rates are far lower in Asia than in southern Africa, the global epicenter of the disease, the Asia-Pacific region could account for 40 percent of new infections by 2010 if prevention efforts are not stepped up.
“COPS AND RUBBERS”
Held in a loud, sprawling entertainment block with bars named “G-Spot” and “Hollywood Strip,” the pageant lured punters from as far away as Zimbabwe, the Philippines and Cambodia.
Judged on their safe sex knowledge and onstage poise, they blew up condoms and danced to Thai country tunes on a makeshift stage as a man wearing green condom suit cavorted nearby.
A Zimbabwean health official, who bested her rivals in the condom-blowing contest, said events such as “Miss Condom” put Thailand ahead of other developing nations in AIDS prevention.
“I think they are very advanced,” said Josephine Moyo, who works for Partners Secretariat, a non-governmental organization in Bangladesh. “They’ve demonstrated leadership in this area. People should learn from Thailand.”
Mechai, known for 1990s campaigns such as “cops and rubbers,” which involved police handing out condoms to drivers in traffic jams, said increased condom use reduced new infections in Thailand to 20,000 last year from 200,000 in 1991.
Praween Payapvipapong, vice-president of the Population and Community Development Association (PDA), said campaigners usually targeted places with a high concentration of sex workers.
“Thai men don’t like to use (condoms). They say it’s not natural,” said Praween. “So we ask women to help us. Either they ask their partner to use it, use a female condom, or reject sex.”
This year’s “Miss Condom” title — and a 1,000 baht ($25) cash prize — went to 20-year-old bar girl Pairin Pongprasert, who was crowned amid shouts and screams from her co-workers.
“I am very excited right now,” she said, blinking as camera bulbs flashed. “I didn’t expect to win.” Not everyone was elated. The only transvestite contestant, 27-year-old Lek, said she had been misled.
“I thought it was just going to be judged on beauty,” Lek huffed, her arms crossed. “Who wants to blow up condoms?”
Sex Ed Still a Blank Space After 50 Years
China, JANUARY 22, 2015 – Beijing Today
string of sexual abuse cases in 2014 made it clear that China’s sex education is still lacking. But in spite of the facts, sex ed is a school topic that both administrators and bashful parents remain loath to tackle.
Jin Wei, a professor at the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, said she was shocked when her daughter, a middle school student, asked whether shaking hands with, hugging or kissing an AIDS patient could infect her with HIV.
“Even in Zhonguancun District – the heart of China’s most advanced technological and education resources – schools taught nothing at all about sex,” Jin said. “Even worse, the basic health knowledge they taught was flat-out wrong.”
Tumbling Sex Ed
Former Premier Zhou Enlai is largely responsible for setting the tone of China’s sexual education in 1963. But even his modest plans did not see any implementation until the 1980s.
In 1988, the State Education Committee united with the Ministry of Health and the State Family Planning Commission to introduce sex ed to Chinese middle schools. In 1992, the government gave it a legal basis by writing it into the Law on the Protection of Minors. The State Council’s Development Program of Chinese Children’s Development (2011-2020) took it a step further by requiring sex ed to be included in the nine-year compulsory education system.
But in spite of official requirement, sex ed shortcomings remain ubiquitous.
Early puberty has become a common phenomenon in Chinese society, and statistics reveal that most Chinese adolescents reach sexual maturity between the ages of 12 or 13 – during their final years of elementary school and long before sex ed ever becomes a topic.
Simplistic teachings are another hurdle. “China’s sex education focuses too much on physical health courses while avoiding an explanation of sexual morality, perception and culture, which are important in building children’s understandings of love and the world,” said Xu Zhenlei, secretary-general of the China Sexology Association.
Another barrier is the insufficient teaching staff and poor teaching method.
Sa Zhihong, a professor of social development and public policy at Beijing Normal University, said most teachers placed in charge of sex ed have a dual identity. It’s not only anatomy teachers and school doctors teaching sex ed, but those teaching language, politics and athletics.
Documents from the Ministry of Education showed that there were more than 320,000 middle schools in 2011. Even having only two sex ed teachers per school would mean a need for 640,000 professionals. China does not train anywhere near that many.
Teachers who are assigned to handle sex ed are often at a loss for what to teach and how.
“Adolescent sex ed relies on support from the school leadership to a large extent. If the leaders treat it as nonsense, then no one’s effort can make it otherwise,” said Yu Chengmou, the school doctor at Beijing No. 11 Middle School.
Wang Xiying, a professor at Beijing Normal University, said policies related to implementing sex ed are mere formalities in most regions. An editorial in China Youth Daily said most experts blame that on the government for passing policies written in vague language.
Although the nation is making some efforts to promote sex ed, parents must also play a crucial role in the process.
But things are even less optimistic on that front: the majority of Chinese parents never speak about sex with their children.
A 14-year-old student Zheng Xiaoling conducted a survey of seven Shenzhen-based middle schools and found that most parents regard sex as a forbidden topic. More than 71.6 percent of the parents never provided any knowledge about sex to their children. When asked about sex issues, only 18.6 percent of parents gave a patient answer.
Traditional concepts about sex remain an invisible but firm barrier to sex ed in China.
“People conflate sex with eroticism. This kind of perception comes from conservative trends that have been prevalent in China for several hundred years, and which effectively put the brakes on sex ed,” said Hu Ping, an expert on Chinese adolescents’ sex and health education.
Four years ago, several sex educators compiled a series of textbooks for schools to use. Many parents protested that the books were “too explicit for children’s eyes.”
“Sex ed in China is a mission of endless struggle. We are dogged by moralistic, anti-sex concepts and uncooperative parents,” said Li Yinhe, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Lessons from Abroad
Research both within China and abroad shows that the best time to begin sexual education is before a child is 10 years old.
The UK, France and Holland have strict education outlines requiring children to begin receiving basic sex ed from kindergarten. British law requires children over the age of five to receive compulsory sex education. In Russia, sex ed begins at the age of seven.
In the US, sex ed is a part of basic education, and schools set up courses for students starting from first grade.
Even China’s Asian neighbors are putting in better efforts.
Since 2001, South Korea has been requiring sex ed courses in elementary, middle and high school. The government requires every student to attend a minimum of 10 such classes each year. To educate younger students, Korea’s national publishing system released a series of fairytale books designed to illustrated basic sex ed.
Japan, a country recognized as being as conservative as China – at least in public – has Asia’s most advanced sex ed system. Sex ed courses run through the entire six-year elementary school period with content adjusted depending on what the students can grasp.
Bathing with children is another way for Japanese parents to help their children to learn basic sexual knowledge. The old tradition allegedly works even better than school education.
But many fear that conservative Chinese society, once exposed to an atmosphere of open sexual education, will devolve into a cesspool of sin.
“Without natural bashfulness when faced with sexual issues, there may be even more middle school students having sex,” said Xu Zhenlei, secretary-general of the China Sexology Association.
“Bashfulness is a deep-rooted reaction when Chinese people are faced with sex. If we just imitate Western sex education indiscriminately, this kind of emotional reaction will disappear,” he said.
Toddler with HIV Cured, Hope in Fight against AIDS Rises
Africa, March 5, 2013 – North Africa Post
A two-year-old baby born with the HIV, in Mississippi State, appears to have been cured by US doctors, raising hope worldwide in the fight against the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or AIDS.
This scientific breakthrough has been unveiled at the conference held lately in Atlanta to look into “Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections”. The infant is said to have been treated with aggressive antiretroviral drugs shortly after birth, a method that is not typically used as the mother had not received any anti-aids drugs during pregnancy. Traditionally, babies with HIV are treated with a single antiretroviral drug.
But a month after starting the aggressive therapy, lab tests showed that the level of HIV in the baby’s blood had declined so low, becoming virtually undetectable. And, two-years after missing several clinical visits, the doctors were stunned to discover that the child, whose name & sex were kept secret, needs no medication when the tests returned negative. This therapy, which raised hope for other HIV-infected babies, could be applied globally if confirmed by other similar cases.
According to some experts, the Mississippi child would be the second well-documented case of a cure in the world. The first patient cured from HIV was Timothy Brown a middle-aged Berlin man with leukemia who received a bone-marrow transplant from a donor genetically resistant to the deadly virus.
However, some scientists remain skeptical saying they need hard evidence that the baby was really infected with HIV otherwise this would be just a case of prevention, something already done for babies born to infected mothers.
HIV is a virus that weakens the immune system and if left without treatment will develop into AIDS. There are currently 34.2 million people living with HIV worldwide, and every day, some 7,000 people are newly infected. That’s 5 new people infected with HIV every minute of every day, according to data of some NGOS.
HIV can be detected through a number of tests with blood or an oral fluid sample. If a person is tested positive for HIV – antiretroviral treatment is recommended to slow down the replication of the virus in the body. An HIV positive person who adheres to his/her regimen with the correct nutrition should stay healthy for many years. Antiretroviral treatment is for life. But even when a patient’s viral load is undetectable, the virus can still be transmitted. Unfortunately, an AIDS vaccine has not been so far developed. Thus, prevention remains better than an expensive and unpleasant cure.