Two power women in showbiz recently shared their perspectives, insights and attitude about their heart health and well-being in The Heart Truth About Women, a forum by the Philippine Heart Association (PHA) Council on Women’s Cardiovascular Health.
Pop diva Kuh Ledesma and talent manager-concert producer Angeli Pangilinan-Valenciano were the esteemed guests, as the 16-year-old PHA Council on Women’s Heart Health observed International Women’s Month.
Every year, the women pledged to continue to raise their voices and wield their influence to bridge the gender gap, so that more women will view heart matter as a female issue, not just a man’s disease. President of PHA is cardiologist Dr. Orlando Bugarin.
Kuh, who is a staunch supporter of anti-violence campaign, finished nursing at Colegio San Agustin in Bacolod and passed the board, although she didn’t pursue it. She immediately started her singing career and became a first-rate performer.
In every decade of her life, Kuh shares the changes in her diet and how she adapted to it. “In my teenage years, when I was 13 or 14 years old, my best friend was my bike. I biked four to six hours a day.
“In my 20s, I was still in college, I learned roller skating. Every afternoon, I would go to the plaza of Bacolod City and I would roller-skate there. After college, I got into singing, so my outdoor activities slowed down.”
Twenty-one years ago, Kuh started building Hacienda Isabella, named after her only child. Since the lockdown, she has been staying at Hacienda Isabella, which has been an isolation facility and quarantine venue for health workers. She would always walk around the four-hectare expanse.
“Even now, I am always active,” Kuh insisted. “I don’t even feel my age, 45 plus tax (laughs). When I’m not concertizing, I kind of gained weight a bit. I really ate more. I’ve developed a sweet tooth, but I’m really controlling it because I read a lot of things about sugar that is not good for me. I’m in the process of eliminating sugar, but choosing fruits that are healthy. That’s my choice for the diet that I’m converting into.”
Kuh has always been very active. She makes it a point to wake up very early, sometimes even 4 a.m. “I’m not saying every day, but most of the time,” she granted. “I start worshipping the Lord and do my quiet time. I wake up the latest at 6 o’clock. I try to sleep the latest at 10 in the evening.”
Her social life extends to visiting her best friend in Makati. “I have been living for one year at Hacienda Isabella,” Kuh offered. “Every other day, I have a ministry where I share the good news about the Lord Jesus Christ to our guests who are being quarantined.
“Right now, we have about 55 people who are nurses. I thank God that we are allowed to talk to our guests. I noticed they are very attentive to the word of God, that’s why it is very important to share it with them.”
Meanwhile, Angeli is producer of events and manager of artists. She finished Business Administration at the University of the Philippines (UP). She was a commercial talent, TV host, radio voice and talent.
“Kuh is the reason I joined showbiz,” Angeli said. “I used to be her back-up singer in Music and Magic in 1979. Even when she left to go solo, I still performed for five years with the group. We would go all over the country doing concerts. I was heavily into dancing, rehearsing, exercising, because I had to look good in all the shows.”
Angeli graduated at the age of 20. Prior to that, she was heavily exercising every single day. “I was part of the tennis team of the College of Business Administration and also the volleyball team of the Arts and Sciences. I was extremely active in sports.
“Up to the age of 25, I was very, very active. At 26, I had scoliosis surgery in Hong Kong to straighten my spine. I was encountering heart issues. I had painful chest pains. I could not go back to playing tennis anymore.
“They put a rod on my spine and physical sports were a little dangerous for me. That posed a really bad problem for me, because I was really heavily a tennis player. It was easier for me to play tennis. You only need two people, whereas in volleyball, you need 12.”
Tennis was her form of exercise.
“When that stopped, I started gaining weight. Sleep is really something I’ve been very deprived of.”
Married to Gary Valenciano, a Type 1 diabetic who is constantly having fluctuations with his sugar level, Angeli often had sleepless nights because of monitoring Gary. “If Kuh wakes up at 4 a.m., I start to sleep only at 4,” she said.
“When I became renewed with the Lord, I realized that nothing I do will add on to Gary’s health. My lifestyle continues to be a lifestyle of semi-sleepless nights. When Gary had his first diabetic attack when I was pregnant with (our eldest) Pao, I asked, ‘Oh God, what is this disease? It was not like the diabetes I know.’
“Contrary to what people know, Type 1 diabetes is totally different to adult on set. I was in the ER and I was in shock watching Gary like going into coma. I wasn’t even married to him yet at that time.”
Since she realized she was going to live with Gary for the rest of her life, Angeli started studying about diabetes.
“There was a total change in my lifestyle with regard to my diet,” she disclosed. “I realized I had to be policed. I cannot eat the sweets that I want to eat, because it’s not fair to Gary. I totally changed my diet.
“When Gary nearly died in 2005, I became more conscious about my diet. I learned from nutrition. Just because they say an oatmeal cookie is safe because it’s sugar-free, I always tried to find out what exactly did they put in the cookie.”
Going into her 60s recently, Angeli realized she can play ping pong. “I played tennis before, so I found out I can do another racket sport.”
Angeli (who over the weekend revealed that she is in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19) maintained there is no other reason Gary is alive today or why she is alive today. “It is because of God’s Word,” Angeli said. “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. So, we always have to watch what we say. All things are possible to those who believe.”
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