Jojit, a flight attendant; Christian, a nurse; and Phoemela Baranda, a model and TV host, anchor their lives on their legs. As Baranda reveals, legs are some of the most exposed and used parts of her body.
Their jobs demand a lot from this precious body part, like standing and walking for long hours, in tight panty hose for Jojit and Christian, or in three-inch heels in Phoemela and Jojit’s case. These, in addition to shopping, exercising and running for a long time, strain their legs and affect their productivity.
“Filipinos are really active and hardworking. They use their legs all the time,” enthuses Mely Guerrero, group brand manager for pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim Philippines Inc.
But globally, one out of four women suffers from leg pain in silence, she says. Though not deadly, leg pain can lead to varicose veins and other vein disorders that can be lifestyle debilitating or disrupt a person’s work and way of life.
More than just for aesthetics, leg health is important for mobility. As Guerrero further explains, “Leg veins play an important role in blood circulation. When we walk, leg muscles squeeze, making it easier for leg veins to pump blood back to the heart.”
When standing, however, leg veins work harder in pumping blood against gravity. Standing causes the highest pressure in veins at 85 mmHG (millimeter of Mercury), as opposed to lying, which is only at 12 to 18 mmHG. The lowest flow rate of blood, at 60 percent, also happens when standing.
“The function of the vein is to bring blood back to the heart, but when standing, the tendency of the blood is to stay down,” clarifies doctor Martin Anthony Villa, Varicose Vein Center head, St. Luke’s Medical Center.
When one is still young, Villa says there are bulbs preventing the blood from going down the veins, except for those with a family history of varicose veins, who have weak vein bulbs. But as one ages, these bulbs become subject to wear and tear, so prolonged standing or sitting, coupled with an inherent defect in the vein wall among those with hereditary varicose veins, can lead to the progressive vein disease chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), an abnormality of the vein function wherein blood goes down instead of going to the heart.
Chronic venous insufficiency, says Villa, is characterized by leg swelling, pain, edema, and worse, leg ulcers or bulging, ugly spider veins that turn blue, green and red. According to the American Heart Association, CVI has a higher prevalence rate than heart disease.
For guys 30 to 40 years old, bulging veins are common and are even regarded as tattoo, unaware that these varicose veins are more than just a cosmetic problem. Villa says employers abroad have reservations about hiring employees with varicose veins.
But CVI, says Villa, affects more women than men because of progesterone and gravitational pressure. He says it occurs in about 25 to 40 percent of women or one in three to four, as opposed to 10 to 15 percent or one in four to five males.
Thus, sales ladies and those who stand or wear stockings for a long time may experience a progressive leg ache, heaviness (ngalay) and nocturnal cramping every two or three months, which disappears on its own. During pregnancy, the mechanical effect of the uterus on the back can also impede blood flow and cause CVI, which disappears after the first pregnancy, but becomes permanent after the third to fourth. Although benign, CVI can cause alligator skin and weakening of the lower leg in the long run.
“I’ve seen patients who can barely walk, dragging their legs. With time, it worsens from leg discomfort with little spider veins to hyperpigmentation or thatching of skin to venous ulcer,” attests Villa.
Venous ulcer is so hard to treat, he warns, so he advises one to see a doctor immediately for a leg screening and not wait until varicose veins get worse.
To manage CVI, he recommends conservative intervention like wearing compression stockings, which has a measured pressure to ease blood flow on legs. Leg elevation or stretching, not too high, for several minutes a day also helps prevent varicose veins.
Lifestyle modification also does wonders. This includes not wearing stockings in hot places and taking short walks after sitting three to four hours a day, and vice versa if standing. Crossing legs, Villa says, should be done sparingly. Pregnant women, in addition, are advised to sleep on their side to not hamper blood circulation. If conservative management fails, interventional management like surgery is suggested, says Villa.
Antistax, said to be the first and only anti-varicose supplement in the Philippines and one of the world’s leading anti-varicose supplements, has been developed to improve blood circulation and significantly reduce leg swelling or edema to help nurture one’s natural mobility, Guerrero shares.
Boehringer Ingelheim Philippines Inc. medical affairs manager Dr. Joy Pabellon says Antistax is made of natural red vine leaf extract, which is known to contain a unique ingredient called bio-active Flaven. Its patented Flaven extraction process reportedly makes a tablet of Antistax as potent as three bottles of red wine in promoting good blood circulation. Pharmacologists found out the Flaven from a special variety of grape leaves are why French wine growers never suffered from leg vein disorders.
According to Christian and Jojit, after taking Antistax, they now experience less leg pain, making their jobs easier and increasing their performance. Phoemela encourages other women like them to stand up for leg health. More so, because she believes, “This is the age of women on the go!”
This Sunday, 30 of the country’s best and most renowned fashion designers will showcase their latest Flores de Mayo designs inspired by the theme Colors of Mindanao, as tribute to their “Il Maestro” Benjamin “Mang Ben” Farrales.
These 30, said Unilever Philippines corporate communications manager Liza Vengco, are among the designers influenced or mentored by Farrales. Because he has been known for supporting young talents, the veteran designer has been dubbed, the “Dean of Philippine Fashion.”
A champion of Filipino Islamic designs, he is credited to have turned the malong into a must-have accessory. His traveling exhibit, Maranaw, made him the first and only Filipino fashion designer to have exhibited in Washington DC’s Kennedy Center.
Since sponsoring the Flores 14 years ago, it is the first time for Unilever to dedicate the theme on Mindanao and on a designer, Vengco explained. The past years had been all about nature inspirations like tropical flowers and the sea.
“It’s our first time to give a tribute to Mang Ben, which is a long overdue credit to him as he has set a lot of trends in fashion. For one, he has helped continue the Flores de Mayo tradition,” she said.
Farrales is the founding chairman of the Congregacion del Santisimo Nombre del Niño Jesus, the parade’s organizer. For 34 years now, the Congregacion has been keeping the Flores tradition alive as one of its activities to honor the Sto. Niño or the Holy Child, who Farrales considers as guide.
He founded the Congregacion together with fellow designers and devotees Nolie Hans, Gang Gomez and Dingdong Bautista. Like their exhibit of 400 Sto. Niños every January, the Flores has become a major tourist attraction in Manila, luring both the religious and the fashion-conscious alike.
Congregacion’s Flores de Mayo or Flowers of May is among the most renowned versions of the iconic Filipino tradition held in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The religious celebration dates back to the 19th century, marked by young ladies parading in lavish gowns; their journey ends with the offering of flowers to their local parish.
In keeping with the tradition, each designer in the Flores will choose his own muse that will represent an incarnation of the Virgin Mary. Competing for the top title of Rosa Mystica or Mystical Rose will be creations from the country’s top designers, including, Ivan de la Cruz, Buddy Reyes, Obet Orajay, Fanny Serrano, Edgar Allan, Pepe Quitco, Jon Fernando, Danilo Franco, Arielle Agasang, Edwin Tan, Johnny Abad, Renee Salud, Ole Morabe, Edwin Uy, Steve de Leon, Christopher Quejano, Richard Papa, Rholand Roxas, Frederick Peralta, Edgar Madamba, Leslie Rivera, Rey Lazaro, Pencil Diestra, Rikko Escaro, Pepsi Herrera, Edgar San Diego, Jontie Martinez, Francis Calaquian, Gener Gozum and Lito Perez. Other awards include Magandang Pilipina, La Flor de Manila and Reina de las Flores.
The Flores is also springboard that helped blossom the careers of its models like Apples Aberin, who is now Unilever’s Public Relations head. Some of the models went on to join prestigious beauty pageants such as Bb. Pilipinas and Ms. Earth, Vengco said.
But the sagala, as the Flores has been alternately called, is not really a competition, she clarified. “It is about continuing to uplift and keeping the tradition and to continue to inspire up and coming designers,” she stressed.
Although steeped in tradition, this year’s Flores, she said, will trek a longer route in SM Mall of Asia (MoA) than run its usual Malate-to-Intramuros course. “We brought it to MoA so more people will see the gowns, giving a twist to the tradition by bringing it to unexpected venues.”
Among its highlights, she noted, is how designers will interpret Mindanao’s vibrant culture, majestic vintas, varied flora and fauna and bejeweled women, in the same way Mang Ben has given over 60 years of his life vouching for the indigenous materials, beadwork and patterns of the marginalized, but richly cultured, South.
From the world's largest shoes and a museum housing former First Lady Imelda Marcos' controversial footwear, Marikina City creates history anew as it has been commissioned by Elle Girl, the ladies' apparel arm of international glossy Elle, to create the lace shoes collection for the global brand's current spring/summer collection.
The pumps and wedges, featuring black floral lace garnished on bright pink suede, had been handmade by the city's artisans as commissioned by the Philippine franchise of Elle Girl, says Joan Ross Yao, executive vice president of the brand's local franchisee International Global Marques Inc.
According to her, the brand has been known for harnessing local talents in creating products unique to the artists' countries of birth. But while Elle Girl's bicycles commissioned in Korea barely park out of the country, Marikina's fashionable steps can also be found in select Elle Girl stores worldwide, she says.
"We have so much talent here so we have to support our own," she enthuses.
There are plans, she says, to continue the partnership with Marikina for more collections for upcoming seasons, as well as cherry-pick Filipino designers for the label's apparel and accessories line.
The Marikina-made shoes belong to the Jardine ("garden" in French) summer collection of the Paris-inspired brand. Motivated by the gardens of France, Jardine features floral, pastel and chiffon dresses and tops, as well as pastel bags with a classic French feel, Yao says.
The brand's second summer collection, Tropical, is charged with the prints and colors of the South Pacific, most preeminently, tangerine and aqua. The third set, Rock Academy, features summer's metallic of choice — silver — paired with purple, suede and studs.
Three major collections will also be released for fall/winter, Yao reveals. The first will highlight more florals, romantic pieces, coppers and royal blue. The second will have preppy campus jackets for a key piece, while the third will uphold bolder, glam rock ensembles bringing to mind rock legends.
Such variety of styles, which is not only limited to sporty and girly, is brought about by Elle's edge of being exposed to a wide array of fashion and having the first hand on "the best picks" from retail, explains International Global Marques Inc. chief operating officer Maye Yao Co Say.
"Elle Girl is a versatile brand," she notes. "There is a need to address the lifestyle of women that is fast, with no time to change, but with the urge to look casual chic all the time."
The Elle girl, she says, is a "lady who loves to travel, loves animals and knows three languages." Thus, Elle Girl, she expounds, has been brought to the Philippines for "the young fashionista who loves branded clothes," "who wants to experiment" and is after "good quality" and "a lot of choices."
"We feel that it is time to bring in more global brands that are outside America because there is already a lot of American brands here," she says on why they launched the label locally last January.
Besides being backed by one of the world's biggest fashion magazines with over 20 million readers and 43 editions in 80 countries, Elle Girl's brand philosophy of making high fashion more accessible and practical, or for bringing runway to retail, is just what young Filipino fashionistas need, Say claims.
"Our aim is for the market (18 to 25 years old) to feel more empowered and matured through fashion," adds Yao.
To appeal to the "global culture of the global child," Say divulges they are thinking of also bringing in cosmetics by Sephora.
For now, the brand's four branches — in SM Mall of Asia, The Block, Shangri-La Plaza Mall and an outlet store in Fairview — carry its special occasion dresses, day-to-night looks, footwear, bags and pillows.
Just as fashion is always in a vacuum, the label's trademark is also its constant evolution. Nowadays, it can be recognized by its pink polka dot skin.
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