The prime of Char­ito Planas, 83, af­ter stem cell ther­apy on the cheap

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - FRONT PAGE - By Rima Jes­samine Granali

NOW SHE can lit­er­ally walk a mile.

Lawyer Char­ito Planas, 83, used to have a hard time get­ting up. But she can now walk with­out pain, thanks to stem cell ther­apy that cost her only five fig­ures.

While hos­pi­tals here and abroad charge mil­lions for the treat­ment, a well­ness cen­ter in Ta­gay­tay of­fers the ser­vice 10 times cheaper, Planas said.

“The cane I used to walk with is just an ac­ces­sory now, for I

walk freely, with­out pain, with­out limp­ing,” said Planas, a po­lit­i­cal and hu­man rights ac­tivist who sought refuge in the United States dur­ing the Mar­cos mar­tial law ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“My heav­ily grey hair has now re­gained its ebony shade; my skin—both body and facial skin—has re­gained a youth­ful, shin­ing glow; and my wrin­kles are slowly fad­ing away,” she added.

Planas un­der­went six ses­sions of stem cell ther­apy from March to April at Green and Young Health and Well­ness Cen­ter, owned by Dr. An­to­nia Caran­dang Park.

VIP pa­tients

For­mer Pres­i­dent Glo­ria Ma­ca­pa­gal-Ar­royo re­port­edly vis­ited the Filipino physi­cian a day af­ter she was re­leased from de­ten­tion at Vet­er­ans Me­mo­rial Med­i­cal Cen­ter (VMMC) in Que­zon City af­ter post­ing a P1-mil­lion bail in July last year. She was taken back to VMMC in Oc­to­ber.

Other well-known per­son­al­i­ties, such as jus­tices, physi­cians and a se­na­tor, also re­port­edly fre­quented the well­ness cen­ter.

“Doc­tor Park, the woman with an an­gelic face, per­forms the treat­ment and her fees are so min­i­mal,” Planas said.

Her bill for the six in­jec­tions amounted to five fig- ures. “It costs a tenth of the pre­vail­ing treat­ment price,” she said, re­quest­ing that the ex­act amount be kept con­fi­den­tial.

Park, who is mar­ried to a Korean, uses hu­man pla­centa for the stem cell ther­apy and tech­nol­ogy from South Korea.

Pla­centa is a vas­cu­lar or­gan that de­vel­ops in­side the uterus dur­ing preg­nancy and is ex­pelled af­ter birth.

The three politi­cians who al­legedly died af­ter treat­ment in Ger­many un­der­went “xenogenic” or an­i­mal-based stem cell ther­apy. Last week, the Philip­pine Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion is­sued a warn­ing against the pro­ce­dure, as well as un­der­go­ing the treat­ment in non­health fa­cil­i­ties.

Planas said she be­lieves pla­centa-de­rived stem cell ther­apy is safer, but she could only speak based on her ex­pe­ri­ence.

Al­ter­na­tive treat­ment

Park, who stud­ied and re­searched on al­ter­na­tive treat­ment, her­bal medicines and stem cell ther­apy, also used the treat­ment to cure her lu­pus-stricken son, Planas said.

“I don’t claim it is the panacea of all ill­nesses nor will it re­spond sim­i­larly to an­other in­di­vid­ual nor can it be a bet­ter treat­ment for an­other,” the for­mer head of Nay­ong Pilipino and deputy spokesper­son of the Ar­royo ad­min­is­tra­tion said.

“One thing that I am very con­fi­dent about is that the stem cells act as re­pair sys­tem of the body for those need­ing re­pair and act as re­plen­ish­ment for adult tis­sues,” she added.

The ther­apy al­lows the body to heal it­self.

The pro­ce­dure, which lasts for about an hour, is very sim­ple, she said. Prepa­ra­tions, like detox­i­fi­ca­tion and en­ema, were more tax­ing.

Be­fore the in­jec­tion, her legs were wrapped and nee­dles were in­serted into her skin, sim­i­lar to acupunc­ture.

The num­ber of ses­sions de­pends on the con­di­tion or ill­ness of the in­di­vid­ual.

Func­tional years

For six weeks, Planas trav­eled from her home in Marik­ina City to the well­ness cen­ter in Ta­gay­tay ev­ery Satur­day morn­ing.

The trips were worth­while, as she felt bet­ter and looked fairer af­ter the treat­ment, she said.

“I was never in search for the Foun­tain of Youth. Age has never been a prob­lem to me,” the for­mer Que­zon City vice mayor said.

“What ex­cites me is the prom­ise of func­tional years. That was my aim when I con­sid­ered stem cell ther­apy,” she added.

The won­ders of science helped her achieve the healthy and ac­tive life­style she has al­ways wanted.

Weight loss for­mula

Even be­fore the stem cell treat­ment, she has been adapt­ing ac­tress KC Con­cep­cion’s mantra of ex­er­cise, proper diet and pos­i­tive at­ti­tude. This for­mula helped her lose weight.

“I used to weigh 203 pounds for as long as I can re­mem­ber,” she said. “Now, I tip the scale at 128 pounds.”

Her morn­ing rit­ual in­cludes 100-count bed ex­er­cises of leg-ped­al­ing and 30-minute brisk walk­ing along the paved streets of Prov­i­dent Vil­lage, Marik­ina City.

She greets ev­ery­one with a smile and a warm hello. “Even a child who did not know me be­fore now kisses my hand, as I have be­come a dot­ing grand­mother,” she said.

Planas al­ways starts her day with a prayer. “I fur­ther ask our Cre­ator to show and guide me the way to de­serve this won­der­ful day,” she said.

“I also pray that pro­ceeds of the so­cial­ized hous­ing pro­ject for 280 fam­i­lies on my prop­erty be paid soon for the com­ple­tion of my com­mit­ted six con­crete three­room school build­ings, com­plete with Monoblock chairs, com­put­ers sets and other school para­pher­na­lia for the Aetas and other in­dige­nous chil­dren of Cen­tral Lu­zon,” she added.

Sharp mem­ory

“I have been liv­ing a sim­ple, healthy and clean life­style... no vices at all. I sleep early and wake up early. But if be­ing alive and well at 83 is some­thing that many peo­ple wish for, the ‘as­set’ of hav­ing a sharp mem­ory at my age is what I am re­ally proud of,” she said.

“My ap­point­ment book con­tains in­vi­ta­tions for speak­ing en­gage­ments, which I whole­heart­edly ac­cept when­ever my sched­ule al­lows me to. I still de­liver ex­tem­po­ra­ne­ous speeches and I quote names, dates, events and trivia with ac­cu­racy and with much gusto, the way I used to dur­ing the height of my ac­tivism days, when I was the most vo­cal op­po­nent of the late Pres­i­dent Fer­di­nand Mar­cos,” she added.”

Fruits and veg­eta­bles have been her sta­ple. Her break­fast con­sists of fruits, ginger brew and blended green ap­ple, cel­ery, cu­cum­ber, car­rots, pars­ley and green bell pep­per.

De­spite her healthy life­style, the “not-so-pretty” signs of ag­ing caught up on her.

“There was a time when I ex­pe­ri­enced pain on my knees that gave me a hard time get­ting up and walk­ing,” she said.

Three doc­tors ad­vised her to un­dergo im­me­di­ate surgery but a fourth sur­geon told her oth­er­wise, telling her that she could be­come bedrid­den be­cause of her old age, Planas re­called.

And the an­swer to her prob­lem came from a re­tired jus­tice, who had also un­der­gone stem cell ther­apy and in­tro­duced her to Park.

“I met a re­tired jus­tice who reg­u­larly at­tends the Thurs­day Club meet­ing held at the house of a com­mon friend. One day, I no­ticed how young and en­er­getic he looked and I couldn’t help com­ing up to him to ex­claim my as­ton­ish­ment. He told meabout stem cell ther­apy and later in­tro­duced me to a Filipino physi­cian,” she said.

“Af­ter gain­ing all the knowl­edge about stem cell ther­apy and how ef­fec­tive the treat­ment is, as far as re­gen­er­a­tion of old and/or dam­aged cells are con­cerned, the physi­cian con­ducted the ther­apy on her­self,” she said. “Need­less to say, the physi­cian was greatly awed by the ef­fects of the ther­apy and what else do you ex­pect?”

Now, with her re­newed strength, she said there’s no stop­ping her from do­ing what she still wants to do.

CON­TRIB­UTED PHOTO

PLANAS: The neigh­bor­hood health buff

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