This magical high-tech modern science is replicated by an indigenous ancient low-tech Batangas tradition. Quite by accident, I was a guest in an ancestral home in the town of Malvar, Batangas. I talked to the host, an 85-year-old woman with long snow-white hair, about weird-looking ‘tubes’ hanging on a clothes-line in the kitchen, similar to dried intestine skins used in making sausages. Then, she started to unravel the Batangas stem cell magic.
eastwind journals, June 13, 2022 (archives tr259)
By Bernie V. Lopez, email@example.com
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“Stem cells are the body’s raw materials — ‘mother’ cells from which all other cells with specialized functions are generated (blood cells, brain cells, heart cells, muscle cells, bone cells). Under the right conditions in the body or a laboratory, stem cells divide and regenerate.” (Source – mayoclinic.org).
Stem cell therapy induces the repair of injured tissues. Instead of organ transplant, cells on a micro-level are transplanted with amazing results to regenerate and heal such ailments as spinal cord injuries, type 1 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, stroke, burns, cancer and osteoarthritis.
ME – Mam, what are those intestine-looking tubes?
WOMAN – Oh, don’t be shocked. Those are the umbilical cords of my children.
ME – Amazing. They seem well-preserved. Why have you kept them?
WOMAN – It is an ancient practice handed down by our ancestors wherein the umbilical cords of children were air-dried to preserve them, then hung up on a line in the kitchen.
ME – For what purpose?
WOMAN – The cords are precious and are always kept together. There is a saying that if the cords of your children are separated, they would quarrel without end.
ME – Do you believe that, or is it just plain superstition?
WOMAN – My grandmother told me stories when she was young about children quarreling after their cords were lost. Also, from my personal experience, as instructed by my grandmother, I cut up a small portion of the cord of my sick daughter, boiled it, and gave her the broth to drink. Instantly, her flu vanished.
ME – Aha. A magic potion.
WOMAN – That can supposedly cure any ailment of the child – stomach pain, indigestion, menstrual spasm, swollen sprained ankle, flu and fever, and so on. The broth heals the ailment.
Immediately, I related her story to stem cell technology. My imagination got wild. Maybe it could cure Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and cancer, as stem research claims. It was reportedly a magic potion that was considered a cure-all, proven through the generations. The umbilical cord, the source of life from the mother passed on to children, was the perfect stem cell material, more than stem cell from goats or sheep, which were used in previous stem cell research. I had no scientific proof, but the ability of the ingredients preserved in the cord, the former source of life during the fetal stage, was proof enough for me of a crude form of stem cell therapy imbedded in the ancient Batangas practice.
The woman told me that when some Arabs and Japanese heard about this, they visited Batangas to buy the cords from parents. Some parents refused to sell this precious cure-all in the absence of expensive western medicine, but those who were poor could not refuse the extremely high offer, a product of the law of supply and demand. I never made a follow up research on this information, but the Arabs and Japanese must be, by this time, adopting the practice for their children. They do not have to go to Batangas. They can do it on their own.
The woman’s home was a museum in itself. It had eight- by two-inch hardwood slabs for flooring, staircase and window sills. An altar of antique statues adorned the upstairs living room. The ancestral home dated back to the woman’s grand-grandparents, truly a monument to the ancient Batangas culture.
The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and Department of Health (DOH) can perhaps look into this stem cell phenomenon, in partnership with Stem Cell research institutions in the United States. It is worth looking into, and there is nothing to lose.
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