Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Women of Exception & Compassion

TV and radio personality Grace Lee joins other female celebrities in the battle against cervical cancer

By DJ Mojo Jojo

Today's Mojo:lations is all about the celebration of womanhood. From the vision of one woman's love for music translated into a showcase for Filipino talent now known all around the world, to the advocacy of compassionate ladies striving to protect Filipinas from a deadly yet preventable disease, read on to find out more.

Honoring One Woman's Dream

The Philippines’ premier choral group, the Philippine Madrigal Singers, have worked tirelessly over almost five full decades to bring the Filipino’s incomparable choral gift to the world to touch hearts and improve lives through their performances and training of up-and-coming choral talents. On July 27, 2009, they stood both honored and humbled by the recognition of this unique mission as Koichiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, formally designated the Philippine Madrigal Singers as UNESCO Artists for Peace. This recognition was granted in the presence of Ambassador Rora Navarro-Tolentino, Ambassador to France and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO; Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs Esteban Cunejos Jr. and other members of the Diplomatic Corps, and the Filipino community in Paris. After expressing their gratitude and plans for fulfilling the role of Artists for Peace in an acceptance speech from Choirmaster Mark Anthony Carpio, the Madz delivered a stirring, sterling one-hour concert that reminded all present of their capability and dedication.

These hard-traveling singers, the latest in a long line of proud Madz generations, were brought together in 1963 for the first time by Philippine National Artist for Music, Professor Andrea O. Veneracion. Their name has since become synonymous with peerless vocal skill, performance quality, individual discipline, and musical diversity. The Madz have spent the last few decades winning choral competitions such as the European Grand Prix – widely understood to be the Olympics of the choral circuit, which they have won twice (1997 and 2007) – and reaching out to budding choirs from all corners of the Philippines via the Madz Et Al choral network. The latter has enabled many of these choirs to compete abroad and win, as well as continue the practice of giving back to their own communities. They have been recognized as UNESCO Artists for Peace “in recognition of their efforts to promote dialogue and understanding among peoples in Southeast Asia , their contribution to extend UNESCO’s message of peace and tolerance, and their dedication to the ideals and aims of the Organization.”

Now named UNESCO Artists for Peace for the next two years, the Philippine Madrigal Singers are recognized celebrity advocates charged with the mission of embodying, and raising awareness in, the UNESCO ideals – including collaboration for the promotion of peace, security and fundamental human rights and freedoms – in their respective contexts through their respective means and talents.

Stars join “Brilyante” for Women's Health

In celebration of women’s strength, health and vitality, the Mu Sigma Phi Sorority of the UP College of Medicine is organizing a gala dinner and glamorous fashion presentation dubbed “Brilyante: The Empowered Woman.” Joining their effort are a slew of prominent and compassionate female celebrities ready to advocate their cause.

Gynecologic oncologist Dr. Genara Manuel - Limson, Mu Sigma Phi Sorority ’59 and chair of Brilyante, revealed that cancer of the cervix is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among Filipino women. “It is also the second most common cancer among women, the first being breast cancer. Every year, an estimated 6,000 Filipino women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and more than half of them die of this disease. Five out of 10 Filipino women with cervical cancer will die within five years,” adds Dr. Limson.

The star-studded event promotes a positive outlook and a proactive stance for women faced with this disease. To be held on August 28, 2009 at the NBC Tent in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, this event is both a campaign for awareness on cervical cancer and other diseases caused by the human papillomavirus, or HPV, and a fund-raising activity for the benefit of the Cervical Cancer Prevention (CECAP) Network Program and the Service Committee of the Sorority. The theme is also designed to highlight the Sorority’s 75th, or Diamond, anniversary as it continues to expand its shining influence on the health concerns of Filipino women.

“Part of our thrust for women empowerment is our advocacy for cervical cancer awareness and other diseases caused by HPV. We have always dedicated ourselves to championing worthwhile causes – and one of the most pressing medical concerns right now is the issue of cervical cancer among women,” said UP-PGH OB-Gyn Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Angela Rodriguez - Bandola, Mu Sigma Phi Sorority '99 and co-chair of Brilyante.

Brilyante gathers some of the country’s most prominent and promising fashion designers, namely: Delby Bragais, Tina Daniac, Rhett Eala, Jun Escario, Parrish Espiritu Carlos, Veejay Floresca, JM Goulbourn, Oj Hofer, Michelle Lim, Richie Ortega, Randy Ortiz and Philip Rodriguez. In cooperation with the Professional Models Association of the Philippines (PMAP), the designs will be donned by professional models and prominent society members, such as ramp veteran Tweetie de Leon – Gonzalez, model-actress-TV host Angel Jacob, commercial model-TV host-radio disc jockey Grace Lee and Trade Ambassador Mela Bengzon. Also sashaying down the runway are sorority members who are prominent doctors in their chosen fields of medicine, and cancer survivors.

“I decided to join the advocacy because many of my close relatives have battled cancer,” says Grace Lee. “ I know how it can drain a family financially, emotionally and mentally. One way to prevent this from happening is to promote awareness and prevention. Women now have a choice now to protect ourselves from HPV.”

Partnering with the Mu Sigma Phi Sorority in the advocacy is global research-based pharmaceutical company, Merck Sharp and Dohme (MSD), that has been actively promoting awareness about HPV, which is the cause of cervical cancer. Through support of this advocacy, MSD encourages women to help protect themselves and get vaccinated, not only against cervical cancer, but against other HPV-related diseases, such as vaginal cancer, vulvar cancer, and genital warts.


  1. I love Grace Lee. She is pretty, intelligent, crisp, fresh and yet she has a heart for a good cause

  2. Yes, we all love Grace Lee. But this entry on Andrea Veneracion also reminded me of the travesty of this year's batch of winners. Yikes.

  3. Mojo,

    Hope you get your justice about the billboard issue.