Sharon Cuneta on criticism about her weight: "Of course tao lang ako, nahu-hurt din ako."


"I want to do love stories pero di pa puwede. Siyempre gusto mo naman mukha kang leading lady. So yung opinion nila nagma-matter sa akin, of course tao lang ako, nahu-hurt din ako," says The Biggest Loser: Pinoy Edition host Sharon Cuneta.


Last Sunday, May 15, a primer of The Biggest Loser: Pinoy Edition tackled one of the growing health problems in the Philippines today: obesity.

Having excess body fat has negative health effects on the body. Obesity is now the leading cause of death in the United States and in other parts of the world. And here in the Philippines, it is said that for every 100 persons, 27 are classified as obese. Being obese puts you at a greater risk in suffering from heart attack, high cholesterol and diabetes and even can be very traumatic mentally and emotionally.

Dr. Jesus Iniong of St. Luke’s Medical Center points out, "Ang pagiging obese o sobrang taba sa katawan ay makikita natin yon sa taas ng bigat. Makikita natin yon between 6 to 10 [years old], tapos, tataas pa yon, magiging teen-ager ...Mula siyang lalabas kapag may edad na yung pasyente. Hindi ito sakit ng matanda, sakit ng lahat ng tao."

If a person is evidently underweight, thin, having a small face and body frame, the usual impression is that this person is "malnourished."

Dr. Marila Tomboc also of St. Luke’s Medical Center shares her opinion. "It’s a misconception. If the child is malnourished, the child is under nourished, underweight. But actually it’s both. It can be undernourished and malnourished. Kahit overweight yung bata, malnourished din kasi yung choice of food. It can also be deficient of the other nutrients."

Another distinguished medical practitioner, Dr. Joven Cuanang [St. Luke’s Medical Center] added that "Approximately, 2-3 out 10 Filipino children are already overweight. Of course there’s the problem of underweight. Pero what is more alarming is the fact that a lot more children are already increasing their weight."

CHILDHOOD OBESITY. Although obesity is clearly associated with adults, children can suffer from this medical condition.

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Dr. Tomboc revealed that, "There are complications of childhood obesity. There are cardiovascular problems. They can have Type 2 Diabetes as early as ten years of age, increase of cholesterol, liver damage, stressful to the joints."

Megastar Sharon Cuneta shared her opinion about giving children sugary treats. "Once in awhile, dapat lang bigyan ng treat ang bata, gaya ng candy, chocolates, fast food. Most of the time siyempre, bilang magulang, we have to make sure that they eat healthy what’s good for their bodies dahil tayo ang namamahala doon. It’s up to us and it really does affect the energy level of the child pagka medyo hindi balanced yung kinakain."

One of the children featured on the primer of The Biggest Loser: Pinoy Edition is Danica, a 14-year-old girl who weighs 150 lbs. She is one of many teenagers, who is very conscious about physical appearance. The young lass shared, "Mataba na po ako noong naging 9 years po ako...tapos naging ganito ang resulta. Mahilig po ako sa chocolates... Kain nang kain ako ng chocolates. Ako naman po ang may gusto, gusto ko pong kumain nang kumain. Di ko po mapigilan kasi nakaugalian ko na po.Kapag kasama ko po ang pinsan kong mas matanda sa akin, napagkakamalang po akong nanay." She added, "Ayaw ko pong sinasabihan ng ganoon..." She fails to finishes her sentence as she breaks down in tears.

Sharon expressed, "Mahirap pag bata o teenager kasi na o-ostracize ka sa school. Minsan yung in na in na grupo o barkada, hindi ka nila isasali kasi gusto nila sila hot, sexy, payat." Sometimes you feel that na outcast ka. Di ka kailangan. Di ka gusto. Baka ma-feel mo napakababa ng tingin mo sa sarili mo dahil nagkakaganyan, lalo ka tuloy magpabaya na maling-mali."

The actress further added, "Napakahaba ng track record ko sa showbiz. Gaganda ng movies ko noon. Lahat ng achievements mo, all of a sudden, pagtaba mo, hindi na naaalala ng tao na contribute mo..."

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Dr. Virgil Binghay, a sociologist from UP Diliman, noticed: "Ang tao ay social animal. Kailangan talagang makipag-ugnayan, makipag-interact ng kapwa-tao. So yung pagkatao mo, nabawasan ng malaki kung dahil lang sa negative self image. You will inhibit yourself from interacting with other people."

OBESITY AND FINDING WORK. A lot of times, finding work can be very difficult for obese people.

"Unfortunately society judges you according to your physical appearance, not really according to your ability or talents. Minsan, kahit it’s very unfair, it’s a reality...," the Megastar observed ruefully.

"Sadly, nakakaapekto ang paghahanap o pagkakaroon ng trabaho ng isang tao ang timbang niya...Dito sa atin at sa buong mundo, talaga yung image ng isang kumpanya o business, talagang iniintindi nila.

"I think more than naju-judge sila according to what you look like instead of what you can do...siguro iniisip nila kung may disiplina itong taong to, may abilidad ba ito o hindi niya maayos yung problema sa taba."

Alvin Villaarin, who weighs 300 lbs, has been trying to find work. "Marami na akong resumé na pass na...mga 300 resumés. Nag-apply po ako as kitchen staff. Tapos, pagdating mo sa interview, titignan ka, magpapayat ka muna, mag-lose weight. Parang nakaka-disappoint then.

Professor Chadwick Co Sy Su, a senior lecturer from UP Manila, stressed: "Yung nag-iinterview sa inyo, tao rin. Mayroon din siyang impression kung ano ang usual na tao para sa kanya. Naghahanap ng tao, more likely or not ng kapareho niya at good fit para sa kumpanya."

Dr. Binghay stated, "Obesity o pagka overweight ng tao ay associated sa maraming illnesses. Maraming diseases. So kung ang tao maraming illnesses, maraming diseases, yung productivity niya maapektuhan. Pagsinabi mong overweight, mukhang nagiging deterrent siya sa pag-hire sa isang tao."

Miss Marissyl Pengson, an instructor from Robert Powers , shared, "In certain jobs na kailangan ng high profile image, yung overweight becomes an issue. But for other jobs, it should not be a factor. Kasi yung hinahanap naman natin ay yung skills at attributes."

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Sharon mentioned, "Of course nakaramdam ako niyan, yung may nagju-judge ako unfairly dahil sa aking timbang. But you know what, pagka inisip mo, may katuwiran naman. I started out as a ’leading lady’ in love stories, that’s how my audience came to love me. For as long as I can remember, mas matagal yung panahon ko sa showbiz na yung payat ako. Pero it really affects me in the sense that it limits my choice of roles."

"I want to do love stories pero di pa puwede. Siyempre, gusto mo naman mukha kang leading lady. So yung opinion nila nagma-matter sa akin, of course tao lang ako nahu-hurt din ako. But the point is, bottomline is, pag sinabing, ’ang taba-taba mo,’ lalo na ’lumba-lumba’ sanay sila na half ang size mo...siyempre naman, nakakagulat. You have to understand where they’re coming from. You’re a public figure. You’re a celebrity... You’re an actress in films, a TV show host, and a concert performer. They expect you to look a certain way especially nasanay sila sa itsura mo, nai-inspire din sila. It’s a very visual medium yung television and so is the movies. You really, really have to look good...It’s a challenge for me and I’m getting back to that. I’m being kinder to myself. I’m giving the time my body needs..."

OBESITY AND INFERTILITY. For women who are overweight or obese, chances for conception are slimmer.

Lorie, 145 lbs, who is married for 13 years, has been trying to have a baby for a long time. She narrated, "Masaya kami. May time na gusto naming magka-baby....Ginawa ko na ang lahat. Uminom ako ng mga vitamins...pero walang epekto. Sabi sa akin ng OB ko, parang nabalutan ng taba yung matris ko."

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Dr. Elsie Pascual, an OB [St. Luke’s Medical Center] explains: "Pagtaba natin kasi, dito nagkakaroon ng problema sa ovulation. Nagkakaroon ng hormonal imbalance dahil sa excess fat natin. Dahil may hormonal imbalance, ang kababaihan natin na overweight,mahihirapan magbuntis."

OBESITY AND MOTHERHOOD. Unlike Lorie, Rowena at 286 lbs has six children.

And because of her heavy weight, she didn’t attend her children’s graduation rites. "Ayokong tuksuhin sila na ang nanay mo, ang taba-taba. Naunahan na kaagad ko ng hiya sa laki," she said.

Sharon asserted, "Pag nanay ka na talaga, nag-iiba ang tingin mo sa kalusugan mo, mga kailangan mong dasal. That’s part of your responsibility as a parent, you have to take care of yourself also.

You need to be healthy... you’re living not for yourself but for the people you love the most."

OBESITY AND HEALTH. The Megastar says that she has realized how important it is to aim for a normal weight. "Naging priority rin ang kalusugan talaga kasi I can really feel the effects of being overweight; lugging around all this extra weight...yung meron na akong shortness of breath...There was a time I reached the point na yung...yung nagpa-pant ka...yung hapung-hapo ka."

Like Sharon, Rainier Perez, 393 lbs, formerly a call center supervisor, also experiences panting and shortness of breath. He had to leave his call center job because his body couldn’t adjust to the work schedule. Currently, Rainier teaches HRM students. "People call me Oink... Food became my first love and I think my only love. I think sa romance, between food and I feel na, siya yung partner ko for life."

At age 25, he decided to buy a memorial plan. "I want to prepare myself. I want to prepare my family for that..."

Rainier further narrates, "Kailangan ko mag-maintain ng medicine para sa hypertension, yung mga ganoong bagay. Tapos mataas ang BP. Yung sa akin, 140/90.

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Dr. Jose Nicholas Cruz, Director of Heart Institute [St. Luke’s Medical Center] "Yung overweight at obese, may tendency sila to have a heart failure, pag naglakad, humihina, di bumobomba masyado. Coronary artery disease, yung nagbabara ang ugat sa puso...at iba pang cardiovascular disease."

THE FINAL TWELVE BIGATING PINOY. After seven long months of screening thousands of contestants all over the country, the 12 "Bigating Pinoy" contestants were revealed.

The final twelve contenders are the following: Ryan Razon, 31, hails from Pampanga. His family is well-known for their authentic cooking. Edden Cruz, 35 is from Cebu otherwise known as the "Reyna ng Palengke." Raffy Tan, 22 is from Negros Occidental. Raffy is a commerce major and works as an encoder. Another Cebuano by the name of Alan Choachuy, 40, has joined the search. He is an architect and a businessman. Charlene Hazel Pangsua, a nursing graduate from Bicol is presently single and she has not had any boyfriend since birth. 35-year-old Art Mendoza, from Makati is a restaurant and bar owner. Angela Lupangco, 26, from Rizal is married and has been trying to have a baby.


Another contestant is 18-year-old WinWin Cabinta from Bukidnon who helps in their family-run store. The third Cebuano to join is Eric Lumatog who is 22 years old and a nursing graduate. JM Oloris from Manila is a volunteer firefighter, reserve army corporal and a Kagawad in his barangay. Joy Siy from Pasig works in a bank and the "biggest" lady contestant. 33-year-old Eboy Bautista, a Paranaque resident, is a former call center supervisor and is the heaviest in the group of contestants.

All 12 contestants will be staying at The Biggest Loser camp. Each of them has to lose weight in four months. The contestant with the biggest weight loss will be declared the champion. The Biggest Loser Pinoy Edition winner will win a 2-bedroom condo unit at Tiffany Gardens and a cool cash prize of P1 million.

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Sharon hopes that her upcoming reality show will inspire Filipinos to become more health-conscious. "Kayang-kaya ’yan ng mga Pinoy. Yung gutom nga, kaya natin, eh yung pang magbabawas pa ng pagkain...Pag nakita mo yung journey nila to lose weight, representation din yan ng mga kanya-kanyang problema dinadaan natin, kahit hindi yan tungkol sa taba. Hopefully you will allow yourselves to be inspired also to overcome your personal giants kahit hindi lang obesity."

The Biggest Loser: Pinoy Edition airs soon on ABS-CBN.


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