Sunday, May 10, 2020

YES, THE FUTURE IS INCREASINGLY FEMALE


My mother, now 94, grew up in Seremban in the WWII era when women had no voice, no official role to play in society. They were the family nurturer and caregiver, roles thrusted upon them which they accepted without complaint or protest. This was long before women discovered they were multi-skilled and could handle several diverse roles equally well. Many didn't even have a say in who they wanted as their life partner. Their parents made the choice for them. (Above photo taken in 2014: four generations - my mom, me, my elder daughter and two of my grand daughters.)

My mom was widowed in her early 30s. She was left with six young children to raise. Fortunately my relatives and my paternal grandma helped to look after us while my mom was going through depression. I was the eldest and learned to shoulder responsibilities at a young age while still in primary school. 

The women from my mom's era were tough physically and mentally, often raising as many as 10 children singlehandedly, and managing all the housework without the aid of machines. It was a life of daily sweat, toil and stoicism. Their children (that's us baby boomers) have remained eternally appreciative of their mothers to this day. Just look at the thousands of heartfelt outpourings of love and gratitude in cards and stories on Mother's Day every year.

The true emanicipation of women came with the Baby Boomers. We were the first generation that had access to education including post-graduate studies. That was our gateway to jobs and financial independence. We learned to drive and that gave us the freedom to venture further afield, to explore more opportunities and to develop the spirit of adventure. But one thing never changed, and thank God for that. We have continued with our role to put family first and foremost in our life's priority list.

Along with jobs came earning power and purchasing power. Today women consumers are a formidable force that cannot be ignored. They spur growth in the market and the economy.


There is a dearth of research on the breakdown of consumer spending by gender in Malaysia. If the stats for the US are anything to go by, we will likely see a similar trend here. According to MIT AgeLab founder, Joseph Coughlin, in his 2017 book 'The Longevity Economy', women across all ages worldwide influence 64% of consumer purchases. Among older women, the power of female consumers is even more profound as they enjoy longer life expectancy and often outlive their men.

It is common knowledge from decades of observations that in most family households, it is the lady of the house who wields considerable influence on her husband when making decisons on big item purchases. A joint account also gives women more freedom to make purchases. The rise in the number of single professional women as well as single moms further enlarges the pool of female consumers.

From Women's Buying Power
The list below is by no means exhaustive but it gives a clear picture of areas where women hold purchasing power in making decisons. They are often the ones who do the bookings, make reservations and handle the family's accounts and budget.
  1. groceries and household essentials
  2. home appliances (fridge, washing machine, oven, vacuum cleaner)
  3. medicine, supplements, healthcare products
  4. clothing, cosmetics, toiletries
  5. holiday packages (airline, hotel, tours)
  6. restaurants for family dining-out (women make the reservations)
  7. home purchase (women check out the property first and usually have the final say)
  8. schools for their children 
  9. nursing homes, home care (for their elderly parents or in-laws)
  10. senior living (retirement homes, senior travel, dance & fitness classes, lifelong learning)
The longer life expectancy of women also means longer purchasing power for them as evident in the predominance of women in aged care facilities and retirement villages. 

From Ford recognises women's purchasing power
The few remaining areas where male consumers still dominate (but not for long) are in financial products & investments, cars, IT gadgets, sports and hobbies such as golf, fishing, DIY. But this is set to change as women are making their presence felt in almost every sector of the economy and industry. We are also seeing more of them as captains of industry and holding positions in government. More younger women are emerging as successful entrepreneurs, with many running their own online businesses.

We don't need a crystal ball to tell us what the future of the world will look like. It will definitely be female. More so with online shopping getting popular. Advertisers, marketers, product designers, take note. Be prepared and be ready to adjust your plans and projections for the 2020s and beyond.

Friday, April 10, 2020

THE YOUNG ONCE



MCO (Stay-Home) Day 24. Today is a good (Fri)day as any to take a trip down Nostalgia Lane. Am digging up some old blog posts and giving it a slightly new 2020 update. Join me in this first one.

In April 2014, then US President Obama began a 3-day (26-28 April) visit to Malaysia. The last time a US president visited Malaysia was in 1966 when President LB Johnson paid a 20-hour whirlwind visit.

In conjunction with President Obama's visit, the Star published an article ("It was the good old swinging 60s") that probably resonated with those of us who grew up in the 1960s. To many of us, those were the most carefree years of our lives. We were young then, with no cares in the world except to study and do well in our exams. The joy and stress of raising a family and the pressures of working life were yet to descend upon us.

The Star, 25 April 2014

What was life back then in the 60s? If you are now in your 60s or 70s, the images below will stir up poignant memories of an era long gone but not forgotten. Here's a glimpse into the past.

I bet many of us still keep some currency notes and coins from the 1960s. A dollar then could buy us a good lunch. Bank Negara launched the local currency notes in 1967, but it was only in 1996 that the $ sign was replaced with RM.

Inflation was an alien word in the 60s, virtually unheard of during my high school years from 1960-1964. 50 cents pocket money was all my mom gave me but it was enough to get me a plate of nasi lemak or a bowl of noodles at the school tuck-shop, a glass of syrup drink and a piece of fruit. I still had money left to buy sweets or save.

My TIGS classmates and I with our bicycles in 1962. In primary school, I went to school by trishaw. I still remember how the trishaw uncle could pack five of us in one trip - three seated, two squatting.

Pedal power ruled the day. My friends and I went everywhere by bicycle. Festive seasons would find us cycling in groups to visit our Malay, Indian and Chinese friends. Those who didn't cycle would take a trishaw to their destination. I recall my uncle taking us for an evening spin around Batu Pahat in a trishaw. The ride around town cost him only one dollar. It was a treat as not many families then could afford a car to cruise around town.


The UK and the US dominated the youth fashion scene. We were very much influenced by what teenagers there wore, and they in turn were faithful fashion followers of their teen idols of the time. My wardrobe then consisted of mini-skirts, hot pants, huge flora ties and colorful fancy stockings. Woodstock 1969 spun a new fashion fad - the hippie cum flower child look. Bell bottoms were in, so were tie-dyed tees and gypsy skirts. My wardrobe changed accordingly.


As for hair style, the boys either spotted the bowl-cut Beatles style or the pompadour a la Elvis Presley. While the guys heaped Brylcream on their hair, the girls teased their hair into huge 'beehives' kept in place with generous amounts of hair spray. The hippies would let their hair grow long and adorn their hair with flowers. Others opted for the Afro hair-do. The clean-cut Gary Grant look of the 50s was uncool, and definitely OUT.

Teen Idols of the 60s made a huge impact on the music we listened to. We followed religiously the UK and US hit parades like BBC's Top of the Pops and the American Billboard Top 20. Music genres ran the whole gamut from romantic ballads to acid-rock, from musicians like Neil Sedaka to Jimi Hendrix. Pop groups also dominated the teen music scene. We enjoyed songs by The Carpenters, The Animals and The Rolling Stones. We swooned over boy bands like The Monkees and Herman's Hermits. Later, we added Santana, James Taylor and The Who to our fave list. Our music taste was certainly eclectic!

Some of our teenage idols

We bought EPs and LPs and played them on our turntables at home. Coffee shops had jukeboxes. For 20 cents a selection, we could listen to the current hits of the time. I painstakingly copied the lyrics of hundreds of songs, and sang them aloud in the privacy of my room.

The radio stations had programs where you could dedicate songs to your friends. I remember DJs Constance Haslam, Vicky Skelchy and Patrick Teoh announcing names like "Elvis Rocky Tan dedicates the next song to Lulu Sandra Lim". We gave ourselves names after our favorite pop idol.


The songs we listened to all came from gadgets similar to those below. No such thing as a remote control. Gadgets then were heavy or bulky. There was nothing we could carry with us in our handbags or pockets for easy listening or viewing.


As teenagers we loved to dance. We had dance parties where the boys would sit on one side of the dance floor, and the girls on the other. The boys would pluck up courage to walk over and ask the girls to dance. Such gentlemen! The wallflowers were those girls who never got asked.

The Twist, the Jive and the Limbo Rock were staples at any dance party. Strangely enough, off-beat cha cha and a-go-go seemed to be popular mainly in Singapore and Malaysia.

How many of these dances do you remember and can still do now? Probably all of them except the Limbo!

SeniorsAloud organised our first of several annual dinner and dance in 2014. Not surprisingly our theme was Celebrating the 60s, a reference to our age and to the good old days. It was truly an evening of fun as these videos below show, posted by Alfred Ho on his YouTube channel.  Alfred was in his element that night.





Well, once the MCO is finally lifted, and it is safe to go out and enjoy socialising again, we will have our next dance party. It will be a celebration in many ways.


Tuesday, March 31, 2020

SELF-ISOLATING DURING COVID-19


Am writing this on the last day of the Movement Control Order (MCO) in Malaysia from 18 March to 31 March 2020. It has been extended for another fortnight from 1 April to 14 April. I am not complaining. Better safe than sorry. We should be thankful that we are staying at home in relative comfort, with food in our fridge and pantry, and activities to keep us occupied. There are many others who are not so fortunate.

What to take note of during the MCO
For the past month, there has been a continuous stream of Covid-19 news coming to us via social media and on telly. Let's not overdose on it. Most of it is depressing and causing viewers undue fear and anxiety, especially for senior citizens like us. We belong to what the health authorities call 'the vulnerable group'.

My mom is 94 years ago and in a nursing home. Strictly no visitors allowed since 18 March. The staff keep me updated on whatsapp and send me instant photos of her so I know she is eating well and sleeping well.
I feel we should instead look at the positive side for a change. Even in times of sadness and pain, there is always something to learn, and I daresay we have many lessons to learn from this experience. We will all come out of it wiser and more appreciative of the things we have always taken for granted. Our values will change and the world will be a better place to live in. Hopefully we will learn to live in peace and harmony, helping one another across the borders as countries are doing now.


The stay-home order has kept us apart from our families. I am self-isolating. It will be at least a month before I can see my grandchildren, especially Ryder, 6, the livewire of the family. My last two big family gatherings were my niece's wedding on 7 March and my aunt's 90th birthday dinner on 14 March, both before the MCO was imposed. But it's ok. We will get together again and celebrate when the outbreak is over.

It is important that we remain active physically and mentally at home. Can't go jogging in the park or workout at the gym? No problem. Here's all we need for some exercise at home: yoga mat, weights, stretch band and a grip ball. Oh, and a pair of sneakers. Don't have dumbbells? Be creative. Fill two 1.5-litre bottles wirh water and use them as weights. With the condo gym closed, my grandson lifts 5kg rice bags placed in tote bags for muscle exercises.

There are also plenty of online videos on keeping fit: yoga, taichi, qigong, chair exercise, aerobics and dance. I enjoy brisk walking. Only now I have to do it in  my room to this video below. I can work up a sweat just keeping up with the instructions.

This is the best time to learn something online. There are many free classes and tutorials on practically anything you want to learn. Just do a Google search. I would recommend learning a new language, or some art and craft. Try out some new recipes or start on a project. I finally have time to do some decluttering and it's such a joy to find things that I have long forgotten I had, like old photos and mementos.


A typical day begins with me at my laptop after breakfast, going through my email and checking out whatsapp and facebook. Meals are simple and homecooked. I have only been out briefly twice in the past two weeks to get groceries and other necessities from the supermarket nearby. I walk there so this means I can't buy much. Just enough for a few days. After dinner it's either watching the news on telly, enjoying music videos on Youtube or entertainment on Netflix. I wonder how older folks without internet spend the evenings. 


I made the above to show my gratitude to the courageous medical and healthcare professionals for taking care of the sick, to the police and security personnel for maintaining order, to the NGOs and volunteers who make sure that food and supplies reach those in need, to the drivers, delivery workers, refuse collectors, cleaners and so many more, THANK YOU, for your services during these trying times.


We are all in this together, and together we will pull through. Everything will be alright. We need a song like this to comfort and reassure us. Do view. Stay safe and positive.

I am writing this so I can remember what it was like when I had to stay home and had only myself for company for four weeks. No visitors. No one to talk to. It will give me a better understanding of why older people living alone often complain of loneliness and isolation. This will be a social experiment. Well, another two weeks to go. Let's see how I feel by then. 

Saturday, February 29, 2020

SHOULD WE SAY NO TO MILK AND DAIRY PRODUCTS?

Ever wonder why fewer women in China get breast cancer compared to their western counterparts?

In her best-selling book “Your Life In Your Hands”, Professor Jane Plant, herself a breast cancer survivor, shares her extensive research on the subject and concludes that dairy-product consumption is a risk factor for breast cancer (and perhaps prostate cancer), as smoking is for lung cancer.

"Cow's milk is a perfect food for a rapidly growing baby calf," she writes, but "cow's milk isn't intended by nature for consumption by any species other than baby cows."


In her research, Prof Plant discovered that the typical Chinese diet does not include milk or dairy products. This is in stark contrast to the western diet where milk and dairy products are consumed at every meal. She began to eliminate dairy products like cheese, butter, milk and yoghurt from her diet. Within days the tumour on her neck started to shrink!

For men, there is a link between diet and prostate cancer, according to Dr Robert Kradjian. In an interview for Nutrition Health Review, he advises men to minimize or eliminate all animal protein and fats and avoid all dairy products.


In his “The Milk Letter: A Message to My Patients”, Dr Kradjian argues very convincingly that “The milk of every species of mammal is unique and specifically tailored to the requirements of that animal. For example, cows' milk is very much richer in protein than human milk. Three to four times as much. It has five to seven times the mineral content. However, it is markedly deficient in essential fatty acids when compared to human mothers' milk. Mothers' milk has six to ten times as much of the essential fatty acids, especially linoleic acid. It (cow's milk) simply is not designed for humans."

But what about the calcium that milk provides? Take a cue from the cows themselves, argues Dr Kradjian. Cows get their calcium from eating grass, so humans can get their calcium from greens.


It may surprise mothers to know that Dr Benjamin Spock, the guru of childcare is another strong opponent of cow’s milk for children. He went on US national TV to advise mothers not to give their children milk, reversing what he had been saying in his books for over 50 years. He himself stopped taking milk and dairy products in 1991 when he was 88 years old. At the time he was suffering from a host of illnesses. He switched to a macrobiotic diet and within two weeks, all his symptoms disappeared.

What these distinguished anti-milk crusaders say makes sense. The onus is on everyone of us to read up more on this milk issue and make an informed decision on whether to eliminate milk and dairy products from our diet. I have made a small start – I've replaced my regular magarine with ‘milk-free’ margarine.

If you could see only one documentary this year, do make it 'Forks Over Knives'. It could change your life forever. It could even save your life! (Available on Netflix. If you don't have Netflix, watch it on YouTube.)

As the title implies, the documentary's central theme focuses on why we should choose a diet of plant-based foods over meat and dairy products. It offers convincing data to back this up, including the landmark The China Study, a 20-year collaboration between Cornell University, Oxford University and the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine. It is the largest study ever done to examine the correlation between health and diet. The findings showed that people who followed a diet rich in animal-based foods were at risk of more chronic diseases, while those on a mostly plant-based diet were the healthiest.


The film also traces the personal journeys of Professor T.Colin Campbell, 86, (above right) a renowned nutritional scientist from Cornell University, and Dr Caldwell Esselstyn, 86, a former top surgeon at Cleveland Clinic, Ohio. These doctors are a picture of robust health and boundless energy!

Note how doctors would always advise their patients who are obese, diabetic or have heart problems, to cut down on meat, diary products, and processed foods. They should increase their intake of whole foods and commit to a regime of daily exercise.

I am a pescatarian - as far as possible I avoid eating meat except for seafood. I haven't ordered a steak, chicken chop or pork cutlet at restaurants since 2008. I don't get tempted when I see my friends tuck into stick after stick of satay, although I must confess I still like to dip my ketupat rice into the peanut sauce.

I also avoid milk whenever I can. In 2009 I attended an Anthony Robbins seminar. He was advocating that we stopped drinking milk for health reasons. That was contradictory to what I had been taught all my life, that milk is good for us, and especially good for children.

I decided to check out the validity of his statement. The more I read, the more sense it made to me that mother's breast milk is best for babies, and cow's milk best for calves, not human babies. Indeed, our intolerance of milk increases as we become adults. It is quite common to hear people say they are lactose-intolerant.

To browse hundreds of academic research papers on the subject, click HERE.

Just think about all the hormones that are injected into the cows. No wonder breast cancer is more prevalent in the west than in Asia. Unfortunately, with the fast food industry making giant inroads into China and Japan in the past decade, meat-based diets are gaining popularity among Asians, and the result of that is reflected in higher incidence of heart disease and cancer in these countries now.

The documentary 'Forks Over Knives' also dispels fears that people who follow a plant-based, dairy-free diet are weak, small in stature, and prone to fractures. We need protein to grow and build muscles, and calcium to build strong bones. Well, the documentary provides compelling evidence to prove that these 'beliefs' are myths. Eating more meat, drinking more milk and consuming more fast food puts our health at risk. Sure, it contributes billions to the meat-based food industries and businesses. It is in the interest of these companies to perpetuate the myths, and for people to buy into these myths.

Here's the official trailer for 'Forks Over Knives'. Hope it motivates you to check out the film, as it did for me.


In the end, readers should be the judge and decide for themselves. Perhaps this article below 'Is Drinking Milk Healthy for Humans?' may help. It lays down both the pros and cons of drinking milk. Not surprising that most of the proponents come from organisations and companies that are associated with the dairy industry, while the opponents are mainly doctors.

Is Drinking Milk Healthy for Humans?

From Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

Thursday, January 30, 2020

REVISITING CANCER SURVIVOR DR WU'S RECIPES FOR CONQUERING CANCER


I have posted the above image not to promote Dr Tom Wu's book as it needs no promotion, but rather, to revisit it and find out why my blog article about him written in June 2009 has consistently remained the most read and with the most comments. It has garnered close to 121,400 page views to date (and counting) with 66 comments, mostly seeking to know more.

I first came across Dr Wu while researching on cancer. Here was a doctor who was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer at age 30. Instead of resigning himself to his fate, he embarked on a strict diet of fruit and vegetable juices. When his recipes proved effective in fighting the cancer, he shared them in his first books published in Mandarin and Thai. The books became bestsellers. When the English translation by Dr Constance Vincent was finally available, of course I had to get a copy.

Youtube videos of Dr Wu on a speaking tour in Bangkok in 2016 show him looking a picture of youthful health. He recently celebrated his 80th birthday in November 2019 - a testament that his recipes do work, not just for him but for many cancer patients who have followed his natural healing recipes, including Dr Constance Vincent's husband who was cured of his lung cancer with Dr Wu's cancer treatment. (See video below).


Regular readers and followers of my FB and blog posts would have noticed a paucity of articles on cures or treatment for various diseases. It is deliberate. I intentionally shy away from posting about 'miracle cures'. I do not want to be held guilty of sharing cures that later turn out to be fake or to have caused serious side effects. To me, there has to be reliable research-based data to support any cure. It is not enough for it to be widely circulated on social media or via word-of-mouth.

True, there are success stories of individuals who have experienced miraculous recovery from end-stage cancers, but these stories are few and far between, and therefore, cannot be considered as definitive cures per se. A popular one that has been circulating for years now is the efficacy of coconut oil to cure patients with Alzheimer's. I don't doubt that it has worked for some people but I would hesitate to recommend it till I see more evidence of its efficacy.

Coconut oil worked for this man, but will it work for others? Can AD be reversed?

I have always believed that what works for one patient may not work for another. Treatment should be personalised as the body's immune system differs from one person to another. If one's immune system is strong, he has a higher chance of healing and recovery. There is also the question of underlying health issues. Finally, how the patient feels is also a determinant in his chances of recovery. A positive mindset and a strong belief in the power of prayer can work miracles too.

Another more recent supposed 'cure' making its rounds on social media is the cure for people afflicted with the Wuhan virus. Apparently, all they need to do is boil 8 pieces of garlic in 7 cups of water for 3-5 mins. Then drink all the water while it is hot/warm and eat all the garlic. Continue doing this every day until full recovery. If only it were that simple....I am sure there are health benefits of drinking boiled garlic water, especially if you add a slice of lemon. But as a cure for the Wuhan coronavirus? Tell that to the China health authorities.


Dr Wu believes firmly in the body's power to heal itself, but this natural immune system has to be built over the years and strengthened with a diet of simple whole foods, regular exercise and a healthy lifestyle. "People get sick because they eat the wrong foods. Fried food, for example, causes blockage in the arteries, bad circulation, cholesterol, and heart disease. Instead of taking a cholesterol lowering drug, I would urge them to stop eating greasy food. My suggestion is to eat clean food, which is high in phytochemicals," he says.


"Phytochemicals are natural cleansing agents that will help rid plaque from your arteries. They come from natural foods such as vegetables, fruits with their seeds, and common garden herbs. Phytochemicals will nourish the body's cells so they can fight against any foreign substances that invade your body."


Last month I attended Dr Christine Gonzales' excellent talk on Eating Natural Foods to Starve & Defeat Cancer. Her message was an echo of Dr Wu's - eat more natural foods for good health and to ward off diseases. If you want to know what foods she recommends, click HERE

Of late I have been hearing about friends being diagnosed with cancer. Two have lost the fight, three are undergoing chemotherapy while one has been blessed with full recovery. As we age, we can't help but feel the closeness of our mortality. Longer life expectancy is only a blessing if it comes with good health and it is our responsibility to take care of our health. Writing this article serves a reminder to myself that knowing what to eat is not enough, it is actually doing it that counts. 

If you would like to learn more about cancer, here are two free events you may want to check out:

1. Sat 15 Feb, 9am to 1pm talk on cancer to mark World Cancer Day at Prince Court Medical Centre, Jalan Kia Peng, KL

2. Sat 22 Feb, 8.00am to 5.30pm forum organised by Cansurvive at Manchester Hall Level 3 , Block 2 VSQ @ PJ City Centre Jalan Utara, PJ. More info HERE