Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Deceptions: Laki sa Gata

If your publicly stated values are Honesty, Integrity and Fairness, then nothing of this sort should be written against you. The fact is, there is and it is really a concern for all Filipino consumers who are being mislead.

Dahli Aspillera, Columnist, Malaya

November 19, 2009:
AND I am talking about big celebrity endorsers. None involved in ad production care whether what they are saying is true or whether the way they say an English word is correct. Endorser, advertiser and ad agency won’t open reference book. Consumers, especially children, are victims.

No less than Vilma Santos-Recto, sadly, will allow herself to receive endorsement fees for endorsing "milk" when in fact, what she is pushing is not milk, but a milk drink. Very different. Not the best for infants. Check it out, Mrs. Governor.

The deception is the claim that her brand of milk has been around nourishing healthy babies for decades. In fact, the milk Vilma is endorsing today is not of the same quality that that brand sold 30 years ago. It was good, whole milk 30 years ago, but technology taught them to mess around, for the sake of profit, with true milk, by adulterating it.

Vilma never bothered to research that the product she sells as milk drink is a lot inferior to what a mammal produces for its young. Vilma obviously does not know, and never asked why the manufacturer latched on the word "DRINK" to the word milk.

Vilma, a mother, is endorsing a milk drink for children. A milk drink is not pure milk. It no longer has the nutrients infants and children most need. Mrs. Recto should get together her Batangas nutritionists to research the difference between whole milk and milk drink; whole milk and filled milk.

There ought to be a law requiring endorsers to understand and be responsible for what they are endorsing. A responsible endorser, especially if it involves with the health and wellbeing of children, should be as concerned about the quality of the product.

Even Edu Manzano, before he became vice-presidentiable, was endorsing powdered creamer as milk substitute. When I confronted him with this and informed him that mothers are using his product as infant formula, he was quick to tell me that there’s a warning in the package saying it’s not milk. Yes, but how many gullible mothers out there have a magnifying glass to read the almost illegible package English warning?

Another one. There’s the irritating commercial endorsed by no less than Vilma’s ex-future daughter-in-law, actress Angel Locsin. This commercial is all about Angel’s worry about her body odors. Angel warns about taking a bath and taking a bath and taking a bath, and body odor is still there. She tells us (as if we didn’t know) that we need to use underarm odor-remover, and she adds, even "anduors"--this is how Angel Locsin pronounced the word: Anduors.

Will someone please email me what is "anduors"? If this is a mispronunciation, didn’t those brilliant ad agency and Unilever executives think to check a dictionary?

They’ve had Angel Locsin’s body odor ad on for years. (When I’m close enough to the radio, I reach over to turn the commercial off, or change stations so I don’t have to hear the ligokanangligokanangligokanangligo...) I still couldn’t figure out what word it was that Angel calls "anduors."

Anyway, I have something cheaper and better against entire body odor, not just underarm: Soak ten pesos worth of tawas (alum) in a small jar of water for two days. Put the water in a sprayer bottle. Spray all over your skin. No more body odor! All imported commercial deodorants have tawas as major ingredient because multinational pharmaceuticals have found it economical, harmless, and hypoallergenic.

Another commercial that’s been on for too long has the celebrity endorser saying "shahr" for the word sure. Our impressionable children will be saying "shahr" and "anduors" and "anyhows..." because that’s what they hear on TV. And we blame the schools for bad English. Why don’t those brilliant ad agency executives think to consult smart-books to correct their endorsers who don’t seem to know any better?

January 25, 2010:
DEAR Ms. Aspillera: I am impressed and enlightened with your article in Malaya. November 19. We are where we are because of our own faults and ignorance. Look at the majority of squatters (I won’t even bother calling them informal settlers since what they’re doing is illegal) who came to the city and left/sell their piece of land in the province. Are they just lazy or victims of circumstance? Giving proper education and information to Filipinos can still make our nation go in the right direction. Best regards, Rene Serrano, Senior Biomedical Engineer,

Vilma Santos or her ad agency must have read my November 19 column. I see that her endorsement of "milk drink" and "filled milk" has been modulated. Victims are babies and mothers who don’t know any better. Other milk ads are still pushing their deceitful claim of "laki sa gatas." Commercials for filled milk and milk drink are not telling the truth. Vilma’s and my generation 40 years ago may have been "laki sa gatas" because all they sold then was pure good unadulterated milk.

The generation of today is more "Laki sa gata (palm oil)"--the milk producers having learned the technology of extracting the expensive buttermilk from true whole milk and putting back cheap highly saturated vegetable oil.

And mothers, watch out for those "coffee creamer... better than milk..." if we are to believe Edu Manzano. No milk at all in those creamers. More saturated fats, and no redeeming value. Really bad for children.

Our unsustainable milk obsession is imitated from dairy-rich countries. In those countries, milk is cheap, not imported, they do not have to add palm and coconut oil in milk as manufacturers do in the Philippines. Every affordable "milk" on Philippine store shelf is adulterated. In dairy countries, even poor families buy true fresh milk two or three jugs at a time. (In America, my jugs are initialed so that coming home thirsty from school, ball games, or work, we each can have gulps of fresh milk straight from our own ice-cold jug–saves dirtying a drinking glass.) Having jugs of delicious fresh whole milk in the ref is conducive to milk drinking.

But the "filled milk" and "milk drink" that was pushed by Vilma Santos in this country is not milk. There are more than 30 brands of "milk" but almost all of them are reconstituted and adulterated, tastes nothing like whole fresh milk. The original more valuable nutrients of mammal’s milk have been removed.

My concern is the children. For children, get whole or skimmed milk--these are not adulterated with non-milk ingredients.

The Philippine nutrition agencies and tax-paid nutrition administrators go along with this "fake milk" push–"Ako’y laki sa gatas!" they reverberate. Don’t our nutritionists know what’s in filled milk, what’s milk drink? Help push cheap healthy sustainable nourishment for babies and children.

Tax-paid nutritionist should worry about: 1) The deception--that it’s more like, "Ako’y laki sa gata (palm oil)!" 2) These tax-paid nutrition practitioners should counter this multinational campaign with public service info on indigenous food substitutes with milk-type nutrients.

Solid food-ready babies can get the nutrients of good milk–calcium, protein, iron, vitamins and minerals from family meals. My baby, born in South America , got his nutritional needs not from milk and baby foods of dubious quality from stores, but from healthy family meals. Into the masher/grinder I put whatever vegetables, fish, meat from family meals–pinakbet’s yellows and greens, squash, beans, tinola, adobo, eggs, oatmeal, etc. I’d strain this and put in the baby bottle. The liquid has the color of unpalatable mud, but it has all the nutrition that is in real milk.

My son grew up healthy, no tooth cavity, with strong bones. He got milk only when pure fresh milk was available, like when we were in the US . The good nutrients can be had by babies from the family’s regular meals. I wish nutritionists would spend enough time teaching the poor which foods can replace milk, instead of pushing "milk drinks" and "filled milk"--expensive fake milk.

If I can add: I wish Nestle, the manufacturer of Bear Brand, lives up to its values and really tell consumers what the real score is. It doesn't take a genius to know that values are there for ultimate guidance, not lip service. However, manager morons (you know who you are) won't be able to discern such. It's so sad that the powerful idiots in Nestle Philippines are the ones dictating to the poor Pinoy that gata (palm oil) is good for them. Tsk, tsk.

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