By Charina Clarisse L. Echaluce
This Valentine’s Day, the Department of Health (DOH) has this advice to lovers: Please be careful with your heart.
The DOH also announced that it will not distribute condoms in public places today.
Choose heart-healthy gifts or practice a healthy lifestyle instead of buying cakes and sweets, the DOH added.
“A poem, letter or message may convey more feeling,” Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial said as she spearheaded the celebration of Heart Month this February with the theme ‘Gulay at Prutas Araw-Arawin, Matamis, Mamantika, at Maalat Hinay-Hinayin.’
If one really wants to buy chocolates as gifts, choose dark chocolate which has flavonoids, antioxidants, which are good for the heart and blood vessels.
The public was also advised to be active on Valentine’s Day.
“Plan an outing or walk around a park or mall. Walking for 30 minutes is good for your heart,” Ubial said.
In addition, she said that home cooking is healthier than restaurant food.
“Instead of an expensive restaurant date, why not cook at home and enjoy a romantic dinner for two. For example, you can eat fish like tuna, mackerel, bangus and salmon. If you still want to go to a restaurant for a date, splitting your meal can cut your calorie intake in half,” the health official stated.
Giving fresh fruits is also advised.
“If you want to eat something sweet, local fresh fruits in season are the healthier choice,” Ubial stated.
Moreover, she said, it would be better if one would encourage his/her partner not to smoke.
“If your sweetheart is a smoker, encourage him or her to quit smoking. Smoking can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Hence, quitting is the best Valentine’s Day gift for your loved one,” the DOH chief noted.
According to the World Health Organization Report on Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) Country Profiles 2014, deaths related to NCDs in the Philippines are attributed to cardiovascular diseases (33 %), cancer (10 %), diabetes (6%), and chronic respiratory diseases (5%).
No condom-distribution day
Ubial maintained that the DOH has no plans to distribute condoms today but made it clear that the “DOH provides condoms everyday not just only during Valentine’s Day and it is being provided through the LGUs, our partners in the health sectors. So yan po ay continuous, ‘yung ating pagpo-provide ng condoms particularly sa at risk population but it is through health centers,” she said.
Going to motels
Health Undersecretary Gerard Bayugo advised couples going to motels and hotels to get reservations in order to avoid stress.
“Para ‘di ka stress at pipila ka pa, advance your booking through the internet. We will support NGOs and LGUs who will be taking the Valentine’s celebration as an opportunity for promoting condom used,” he stated.
“If you don’t have plans of getting pregnant, that is the best way, one of the best ways, to prevent pregnancy. We are also not certain about Zika so we encourage protected sex even among couples,” he added.
Nueva Ecija Bishop Roberto Mallari advised parents to chaperone their children especially those below 18 years old to get to know the person that their child is going out with.
Mallari, who is the head of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission on Catechesis and Catholic Education, said it’s also an opportunity to teach the youth how to deal with the opposite sex.
“They should be taught the right way of dealing with one another. Our conviction is the only way to relate is to love and communicate with one another,” Mallari said.
The prelate said parents should always be there to support and guide their children in all their activities so they won’t look for attention elsewhere.
“It’s not only this Valentine’s Day that they should be present but also in the other activities of their child in school. Sometimes they are not there in important events like Graduation Day that’s why the child looks for attention elsewhere,” Mallari said.
Avoid dark places
To those going out without any chaperone, the CBCP advised them to avoid temptation by not going to dark places
“We have to avoid temptation. It’s important that the youth is aware of this. They should know their own limitation. They should know that everybody is prone to be tempted. It’s best to avoid places where we will be tempted so easily,” said Mallari.
The Catholic faithful pays tribute to the memory of the revered patron saint of lovers – Saint Valentine (San Valentin) with special masses and prayers today in several Catholic churches in the country and in many parts of the world in memory of the holy priest and illustrious Roman martyr. In the country, mass weddings and renewal of marriage vows are common practices held on Valentine’s Day.
The observance of St. Valentine’s feast was established by Pope Gelasius I on Feb. 14, 496 A.D. in memory of a kind-hearted Roman priest who was arrested, clubbed, and eventually beheaded for marrying soldiers who were forbidden to marry, ministering to Christians, giving aid to martyrs in prison, and for refusing to renounce his faith during the reign of Emperor Claudius II, a time when Christians were severely persecuted.
According to accounts, St. Valentine, while still in jail, was able to convert his jailer to Christianity after he restored the eyesight of his blind daughter. Before St. Valentine was beheaded on Feb. 14, 269, he wrote a farewell note to her and signed it, “From Your Valentine.” He was buried at the Flaminian Way in Rome, Italy, where a basilica was built in his honor and memory. (With reports from Christina I. Hermoso and Leslie Ann G. Aquino)