Jet-setting to London, Paris and Milan may sound too good to pass up for a mother and a daughter who made their careers working in two major United States airlines as flight attendants.
But a rude awakening jolted Jen Samson when she went for a routine colonoscopy on turning 50. She was found to have Stage 4 cancer that has spread to her liver and a good portion of her lungs.
Prolonged exposure to airline radiation is said to be a hundred times more powerful than a regular radiology or CT Scan. In Jen’s case, the discovery came too late.
Her only daughter, Danica Lilia, also a flight stewardess, is likewise having her own job-related health issue. In one of the turbulent trips she served, she hurt her back.
Now, she is seriously hoping to get into a management position so she could continue to work while going back to school to get a new degree. Her only consolation is that she is still able to drive her mother to the hospital and spend time with her during this difficult time in the family.
Both mother and daughter realized for the first time that the health benefits packaged for their type of job are conditioned upon sustaining a continued flying activity.
Where Jen, for instance, is confirmed to have a late Stage 4 colon cancer, one that is classified as a terminal disease, the health coverage will likewise terminate by the end of this year. Ironically, her health insurance will terminate at a time when it is most needed.
Friends and family pulled together to get Jen to New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering, where she is undergoing aggressive chemotherapy every two weeks.
Her current airline health benefit covers most of the $9,000 per treatment cost, but not for long. As Jen and family pooled their meager resources seeking new health insurance coverage at a steep premium, it is not likely that it will cover the astronomical cost per treatment at this premier hospital.
In its website, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued the following information about Cosmic Ionizing Radiation to which aircrew and passengers are exposed during long periods of air travel.
• The World Health Organization (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) says that ionizing radiation causes cancer in humans. Ionizing radiation is also known to cause reproductive problems. We are looking more specifically at whether cosmic ionizing radiation is linked to cancer and reproductive problems.
• The National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements reported that aircrew have the largest average annual effective dose (3.07 mSv) of all US radiation-exposed workers. Other estimates of annual aircrew cosmic radiation exposure range from 0.2 to 5 mSv per year.
For now, Jen and family remain upbeat, but deep inside, the fear of spending one last holiday together is all too real. The hope of getting through Christmas is pure luxury, specially knowing that the end of the year means the end of her health benefits.
Her mother, Lilia, 84, is helpless, but she too is asking for answers. In her room she is staring at a white lace dress that her daughter told her to keep, because it is her favorite dress! Eerie thoughts provoked, devastation is calmed by prayers.
Jen’s husband, Ike, is himself recovering from economic setback. He just got back to work a humble job with benefits that are far from what the airlines currently offer.
The couple made it through many of life’s challenges, and celebrated their marriage again and again in the Catholic Church. Inseparable, they continue to proclaim “Till death do us part” through their personal tragedies.
The Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia has planned several events that aim to bring Filipino nationals together and showcase Philippine Christmas traditions in Malaysia.
Holy Masses organized by the Philippine Embassy and the Federation of Filipino Associations in Malaysia (FFAM) will be held from December 1 to December 9 at the Embassy grounds every 7:00 p.m.
The Mass celebrants will include the Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur, Most Reverend Julian Low Beng Kim.
A Christmas concert entitled “Pamaskong Handog” will also be held on December 6 at the Amphitheatre of the Kompleks Kraft in Kuala Lumpur.
Some of the artists who will be present to entertain the Filipino community in Malaysia are Jay-R and Suy Galvez.
There will also be a lighting of giant parols as part of the Christmas Open House on December 11, to be attended by members of the diplomatic corps, Malaysian government officials and businessmen and leaders of the Filipino community.
The Open House will feature Filipino talents in Malaysia, including singer-songwriter Rachel Guerzo, singer-actress Maria Jazsmine, and musicians Willy Rebaño, Maria Rebaño and Lipraxedes Jumawan. — Bianca Rose Dabu/BM, GMA News
The Christmas season is also the season for sending balikbayan boxes. With this, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is reminding Filipinos abroad who want to send packages to their loved ones in the Philippines to steer clear of bogus forwarders.
For guidance, here is a list of DTI-accredited forwarders as of October 2015.
Filipino lawyers of Mary Jane Veloso, the Filipina death row convict in Indonesia who was given a temporary reprieve last April, have asked a Nueva Ecija court to deny the motion for reconsideration filed by her alleged recruiters.
Because of the pending motion for reconsideration filed by the defense, the Baloc Regional Trial Court Branch 27 in Sto. Domingo, Nueva Ecija, granted its request to suspend the arraignment of Maria Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao last November 11.
The defense was asking the court to reconsider its October 25, 2015 ruling denying its Motion for Bill of Particulars, specifically the court records of Veloso's conviction in Indonesia.
In its motion, the defense argued that denial of the records "exhibited [the court's] prejudgement of the case."
But in their 13-page comment to the motion, Veloso's lawyers led by Edre Olalia said the request made by the defense was "unnecessary and immaterial to the case."
They noted that the Information of the case "already provides in a concise and ordinary language, and in terms sufficient to inform the accused of the nature and cause of the accusation against them, and to enable the Honorable Court to pronounce judgment."
"As held by the Honorable Court, moreover, the details being requested by accused-movants on the incarceration of private complainant Veloso are unnecessary and immaterial to the case," they added.
"Considering the foregoing, the prosecution submits that the accused-movants‘ instant Motion for Reconsideration must be denied," they said.
Veloso's lawyers also said the court's denial of the defense's Motion for Bill of Particulars did not "upset" the balance between the constitutional right of the accused to be informed on the nature of the accusation them and the right of the State to prosecute transgressors of the law.
"Such balance, although delicate, has not been upset by the denial of the Honorable Court of accused-movants‘ Motion for Bill of Particulars," they said.
Sergio and Lacanilao were accused of tricking Veloso into carrying a bag with 2.6 kilograms of heroin to Indonesia. —KBK, GMA News
More than 200,000 Filipinos in Doha, Qatar, were affected by the floods caused by more than a year's worth of rain that fell in a matter of hours Wednesday, almost bringing the country to a standstill.
According to a report on "Balitanghali" on Friday, a Filipino school had been forced to close for two days due to the torrential rain that also hit neighboring Saudi Arabia.
The deluge in Doha blocked several roads, making some impassable for commuters and causing huge congestion.
Schools and malls closed, hotels were affected and the rain forced the US embassy in Qatar to shut down.
Worst hit seemed to be the area around Doha's Hamad International Airport, where almost 80 millimeters of rain fell, according to the Qatar Meteorology Department.
Social media users reported leaks at the facility, which opened just last year after being constructed at an estimated cost of $17 billion (16 billion euros).
However, Hamad International said flights operated normally throughout the day.
The World Bank calculates that Qatar receives, on average, 74 millimeters of rain each year.
In response to the scale of the problems, Qatar's prime minister ordered an investigation, said the official Qatar News Agency.
Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani said those responsible for "flawed projects" could face possible prosecution.
"It was decided to refer all stakeholders and companies implementing the flawed projects that were revealed by the rainy weather currently experienced by the country, to investigate and then to public prosecution, the prime minister instructed," reported QNA.
As many as five unnamed companies could face prosecution, said the report, citing the government communications' office.
Qatar is well-known for its fierce summer temperatures, which forced World Cup organizers to move the tournament to November and December for the first time. Matches will be taking place at this exact point in seven years' time. —Rie Takumi and Agence France Presse/KBK, GMA News
Filipinos in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates have been warned by the Philippine Consulate General against scams perpetrated by people claiming to be members of charitable organizations such as the Red Cross.
"We remind all overseas Filipino workers to be mindful of possible solicitations in the guise of raising funds for the Red Cross or other charitable organizations," the Consulate said in a statement.
The Consulate issued the warning after receiving information regarding fund-raising events being organized without the knowledge of the charities being represented.
According to Section 8 of Republic Act 10072 or Philippine Red Cross Act of 2009, it "shall be unlawful for any person to solicit, collect or receive money, materials or property of any kind by falsely representing himself to be a member, agent or representative of the Philippine Red Cross."
Usage of the Red Cross name and emblem is also a violation of section 9 of the same law. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News
Despite constant reminders from authorities, some airline passengers were still apprehended in airports Thursday for carrying bullets, a report on "24 Oras" said.
According to GMA News' Oscar Oida in his report, an OFW departing for Riyadh was arrested at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2 for carrying four live bullets for a .38 caliber pistol.
The OFW, identified only as "Anthony," did not deny that the bullets were his.
"Binigay po sa 'kin, nakalimutan ko lang pong i-alis dun sa pouch ko," said Anthony, a former security guard.
Anthony said he was aware of the reminders against bringing bullets in airports as he constantly followed the reports on the alleged "laglag bala" extortion racket in the news.
Meanwhile, in Naga City, a female doctor was apprehended in the airport for carrying five live 9mm rounds and two empty .45 shells in her bag.
According to Reymundo Torres, supervisor at Naga Airport, the doctor claimed the bullets may been left in her bag by her husband, who is a practical pistol shooter.
The doctor reportedly said her husband borrowed the bag when he applied for a license for his pistol. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News