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By May Anne Cacdac

The Iron Maiden

Thursday, August 28, 2014

OK. CUT to the chase. I dare every Filipino who blindly and most ignorantly accepted the ALS ice bucket challenge to please tell me what ALS is.

Yes, I thought so. It’s the yabang that got the better of you. The need to be in. Never mind that you don’t know what the ALS ice bucket challenge is all about anyway. You saw it on social media and just decided it will be a good way to up your “likes” on Facebook.

ALS or “Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – also referred to as motor neuron disease (MND), Charcot disease, and, in the United States, Lou Gehrig’s disease – is a neurodegenerative disease with various causes.


ALS is characterized by muscle spasticity, rapidly progressive weakness due to muscle atrophy, and difficulty in speaking (dysarthria), swallowing (dysphagia) and breathing (dyspnea). ALS is the most common of the five motor neuron diseases.”

Moreover, according to online Wikipedia, “In the US, more than 5,600 are diagnosed every year, and up to 30,000 Americans are currently affected. ALS is responsible for 2 deaths per 100,000 people.

“Median survival time from onset to death is 39 months, and only 4% survive longer than 10 years, although rare cases survive 50 years or more. Most die from respiratory failure, usually within three to five years from onset of symptoms.”

It has no known cure.

Even as I read about it yesterday, I could not fully get a grasp on the severity of the disease that it has spawned a global phenomenon through the ice bucket challenge, engaging celebrities to politicians and our neighbors back in Elgin, Illinois.

Those who accepted the challenge to dump ice water on their heads nominated others to get involved and those nominated were given 24 hours to comply “or forfeit by way of a charitable financial donation.”

It was either or. Either you dump ice water on your hear or donate.

Others took the high road and made a donation. Others took the bandwagon. Others took both.

But any which way, it would have been nice for those who wanted to get involved to first know what they were getting into.

While the challenge really spurred awareness and, indeed, raised a significant amount of money, the ALS ice bucket challenge also took some criticism.

“On August 22, 2014, Dr. Brian O’Neill, a physician at the Detroit Medical Center, warned that the challenge may have adverse health effects of participants, including potentially inducing a vagal response which might, for example, lead to unconsciousness in people taking blood pressure medications. A number of participants have sustained injuries, and at least one death has been linked to the challenge, with another thought to be from a variation on the challenge, jumping feet first into water. Criticism has also targeted the waste of water, especially in California, due to that region’s ongoing drought.”

Take that. I only pray we didn’t have similar incidents here in the country, where, incidentally, we still lack records on the number of ALS cases we have here.

And this is something we should look into. Let’s not take this as just a fad. I am certain whoever started this challenge had noble intentions of truly raising awareness and focus on the disease.
Whose ice bucket challenges did I watch?

Well, locally, there’s showbiz couple Luis Manzano and Angel Locsin who accepted the challenge from Anne Curtis.

The couple used pool water and did the challenge pool side. In their Instagram account, Angel said, “We used pool water and not tap water.

Let’s not go wasting water just because of the challenge.”

I watched Professor X’s take on the challenge. Patrick Stewart, I mean. Prof X of the X-Men franchise.

In the video he is seen writing a check to his chosen organization after which he pulls a bucket full of ice in which his fave wine is chilling.

He doesn’t speak a word and yet I think the video said a bucketful.
But one photo I saw on Facebook which really hit home was Joey de Leon’s take on the challenge.

He is holding a placard which says, “Wag epal. Wag mag-nominate kung hindi magdodonate.”

Need anyone say more?

Sorry, to those who took offense. You needed the dousing.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on August 29, 2014.


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