Most Shared

A dark era in Filipino history comes to light in a social experiment.

The Philippine elections opened up a Pandora’s box of controversy.

A dark era in Filipino history comes to light in a social experiment.

The Philippine elections is just about wrapped up. And it was some kind of circus.

From corrupt candidates to one scandal after another to a potty-mouthed incoming president, it was only a matter of time before the world caught on to what was happening in the Philippines. Even comedian John Oliver decided to give his two cents on the situation.


Let's just say John did his "thang." Image from "Last Week Tonight"/YouTube.

However, one of the most powerful messages to come out of the elections came from a social experiment that cut to the core of many Filipinos.

It's a video made by the group Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses to Malacañang (CARMMA for short). Basically, a guy named Bong Bong Marcos is very close to becoming vice president. If elected, he’d be one step away from Malacañang, the White House of the Philippines.

Seems about right. Image from CARMMA/Facebook, used with permission.

You see, Bong Bong is the son of Ferdinand Marcos, a former president and dictator famous for implementing martial law from 1972 to 1981. Essentially, martial law is when the military is given complete control of the government, rendering the executive, legislative, and judicial branches powerless. It’s usually imposed temporarily in times of calamity, but this man led the charge for nine whole years.

And while some may say it brought its fair share of good to the country, a group of millennials are about to learn the terrible price others had to pay.

The social experiment begins with an interviewer asking young voters about what happened during martial law.

That’s when the young voters start to rationalize its implementation in various ways, remembering all the lessons they learned in school growing up.

They talked about there being order...

All GIFs via CARMMA/Facebook.

...and how Marcos was really more like a loving parent.

They gushed at the glory of yesteryears.

Finally, the interviewer asked, "Are you in favor of martial law?"

That's when the tables were turned and the interviewers reveal who they really are — actual martial law victims.

Surprise.

After revealing themselves, the victims shared their stories of survival. And oh, are they powerful.

(Trigger warning: Proceed with caution. Their stories are very graphic in nature.)

This man talked about a soldier that was literally drunk with power.

This woman shared what they did to her brother-in-law for three days.

This man reflected on how he was almost tortured to death by electrocution.

Others were violated in ways we wouldn’t even wish on our own worst enemy.

Needless to say, everyone was shocked. But a troubling truth was revealed.

These young people simply did not know all of this had happened.

And that’s only because they were never taught the truth.

Mind you, these are college students. Yet here they are, hearing the true history of their country for the very first time.

This may feel familiar to those of us who have learned aspects of our own nation's troubled history — a history much more complex than the "cowboys and Indians" narrative of our schoolyards. But learning the reality of our past can help us build a better future.

It is unacceptable for schools to only teach a version of the truth.

It’s like the saying goes, "Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it." And while these circumstances are very extreme, we can not be afraid to trust our youth with the most powerful weapon of all — knowledge.

If you think the Filipino education system should tell students the whole martial law story, you can sign this Change.org petition to help our friends in the Philippines. It’ll only take a minute, but it has the potential to correctly rewrite a country’s history and improve how they shape young minds forever.

Watch the full video below:

The past three presidential administrations have been a game of ping-pong for LBGTQ+ students' rights. During his term as president, Trump rescinded Obama-era protections for transgender students, and now the Biden administration is undoing that Trump-era guidance.

An announcement from the U.S. Department of Education today clarified that transgender and gay students are protected from discrimination under Title IX.

"Today, the Department makes clear that all students — including LGBTQ+ students —deserve the opportunity to learn and thrive in schools that are free from discrimination," Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement.

"The Supreme Court has upheld the right for LGBTQ+ people to live and work without fear of harassment, exclusion, and discrimination – and our LGBTQ+ students have the same rights and deserve the same protections."

Keep Reading Show less

The past three presidential administrations have been a game of ping-pong for LBGTQ+ students' rights. During his term as president, Trump rescinded Obama-era protections for transgender students, and now the Biden administration is undoing that Trump-era guidance.

An announcement from the U.S. Department of Education today clarified that transgender and gay students are protected from discrimination under Title IX.

"Today, the Department makes clear that all students — including LGBTQ+ students —deserve the opportunity to learn and thrive in schools that are free from discrimination," Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement.

"The Supreme Court has upheld the right for LGBTQ+ people to live and work without fear of harassment, exclusion, and discrimination – and our LGBTQ+ students have the same rights and deserve the same protections."

Keep Reading Show less
True

Each year, an estimated 1.8 million people in the United States are affected by cancer — most commonly cancers of the breast, lung, prostate, and blood cancers such as leukemia. While not everyone overcomes the disease, thanks to science, more people are surviving — and for longer — than ever before in history.

We asked three people whose lives have been impacted by cancer to share their stories – how their lives were changed by the disease, and how they're using that experience to change the future of cancer treatments with the hope that ultimately, in the fight against cancer, science will win. Here's what they had to say.

Celine Ryan, 55, engineer database programmer and mother of five from Detroit, MI

Photo courtesy of Celine Ryan

In September 2013, Celine Ryan woke up from a colonoscopy to some traumatic news. Her gastroenterologist showed her a picture of the cancerous mass they found during the procedure.

Ryan and her husband, Patrick, had scheduled a colonoscopy after discovering some unusual bleeding, so the suspicion she could have cancer was already there. Neither of them, however, were quite prepared for the results to be positive -- or for the treatment to begin so soon. Just two days after learning the news, Ryan had surgery to remove the tumor, part of her bladder, and 17 cancerous lymph nodes. Chemotherapy and radiation soon followed.

Ryan's treatment was rigorous – but in December 2014, she got the devastating news that the cancer, once confined to her colon, had spread to her lungs. Her prognosis, they said, was likely terminal.

But rather than give up hope, Ryan sought support from online research, fellow cancer patients and survivors, and her medical team. When she brought up immunotherapy to her oncologist, he quickly agreed it was the best course of action. Ryan's cancer, like a majority of colon and pancreatic cancers, had been caused by a defect on the gene KRAS, which can result in a very aggressive cancer that is virtually "undruggable." According to the medical literature, the relatively smooth protein structure of the KRAS gene meant that designing inhibitors to bind to surface grooves and treat the cancer has been historically difficult. Through her support systems, Ryan discovered an experimental immunotherapy trial at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD., and called them immediately to see if she was eligible. After months of trying to determine whether she was a suitable candidate for the experimental treatment, Ryan was finally accepted.

The treatment, known as tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte therapy, or TIL, is a testament to how far modern science has evolved. With this therapy, doctors remove a tumor and harvest special immune cells that are found naturally in the tumor. Doctors then grow the cells in a lab over the next several weeks with a protein that promotes rapid TIL growth – and once the cells number into the billions, they are infused back into the patient's body to fight the cancer. On April 1, 2015, Ryan had her tumor removed at the NIH. Two months later, she went inpatient for four weeks to have the team "wash out" her immune system with chemotherapy and infuse the cells – all 148 billion of them – back into her body.

Six weeks after the infusion, Ryan and Patrick went back for a follow-up appointment – and the news they got was stunning: Not only had no new tumors developed, but the six existing tumors in her lungs had shrunk significantly. Less than a year after her cell infusion, in April 2016, the doctors told Ryan news that would have been impossible just a decade earlier: Thanks to the cell infusion, Ryan was now considered NED – no evaluable disease. Her body was cancer-free.

Ryan is still NED today and continuing annual follow-up appointments at the NIH, experiencing things she never dreamed she'd be able to live to see, such as her children's high school and college graduations. She's also donating her blood and cells to the NIH to help them research other potential cancer treatments. "It was an honor to do so," Ryan said of her experience. "I'm just thrilled, and I hope my experience can help a lot more people."

Patrice Lee, PhD, VP of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Exploratory Development at Pfizer

Photo courtesy of Patrice Lee

Patrice Lee got into scientific research in an unconventional way – through the late ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau.

Lee never met Cousteau but her dreams of working with him one day led her to pursue a career in science. Initially, Lee completed an undergraduate degree in marine biology; eventually, her interests changed and she decided to get a dual doctoral degree in physiology and toxicology at Duke University. She now works at Pfizer's R&D site in Boulder, CO (formerly Array BioPharma), leading a group of scientists who determine the safety and efficacy of new oncology drugs.

"Scientists focused on drug discovery and development in the pharmaceutical industry are deeply committed to inventing new therapies to meet unmet needs," Lee says, describing her field of work. "We're driven to achieve new medicines and vaccines as quickly as possible without sacrificing safety."

Among the drugs Lee has helped develop during her career, including cancer therapies, she says around a dozen are currently in development, while nine have received FDA approval — an incredible accomplishment as many scientists spend their careers without seeing their drug make it to market. Lee's team is particularly interested in therapies for brain metastases — something that Lee says is a largely unmet need in cancer research, and something her team is working on from a variety of angles. "Now that we've had rapid success with mRNA vaccine technology, we hope to explore what the future holds when applying this technology to cancers," Lee says.

But while evaluating potential cancer therapies is a professional passion of Lee's, it's also a mission that's deeply personal. "I'm also a breast cancer survivor," she says. "So I've been on the other side of things and have participated in a clinical trial."

However, seeing how melanoma therapies that she helped develop have affected other real-life cancer patients, she says, has been a highlight of her career. "We had one therapy that was approved for patients with BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma," Lee recalls. "Our team in Boulder was graced by a visit from a patient that had benefited from these drugs that we developed. It was a very special moment for the entire team."

None of these therapies would be available, Lee says without rigorous science behind it: "Facts come from good science. Facts will drive the development of new drugs, and that's what will help patients."

Chiuying "Cynthia" Kuk (they/them) MS, 34, third-year medical student at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

Photo courtesy of Cynthia Kuk

Cynthia Kuk was just 10 years old when they had a conversation that would change their life forever.

"My mother, who worked as a translator for the government at the time, had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and after her chemotherapy treatments she would get really sick," Kuk, who uses they/them pronouns, recalls. "When I asked my dad why mom was puking so much, he said it was because of the medicine she was taking that would help her get better."

Kuk's response was immediate: "That's so stupid! Why would a medicine make you feel worse instead of better? When I'm older, I want to create medicine that won't make people sick like that."

Nine years later, Kuk traveled from their native Hong Kong to the United States to do exactly that. Kuk enrolled in a small, liberal arts college for their Bachelor's degree, and then four years later started a PhD program in cancer research. Although Kuk's mother was in remission from her cancer at the time, Kuk's goal was the same as it had been as a 10-year-old watching her suffer through chemotherapy: to design a better cancer treatment, and change the landscape of cancer research forever.

Since then, Kuk's mission has changed slightly.

"My mom's cancer relapsed in 2008, and she ended up passing away about five years after that," Kuk says. "After my mom died, I started having this sense of urgency. Cancer research is such that you work for twenty years, and at the end of it you might have a fancy medication that could help people, but I wanted to help people now." With their mother still at the forefront of their mind, Kuk decided to quit their PhD program and enter medical school.

Now, Kuk plans to pursue a career in emergency medicine – not only because they are drawn to the excitement of the emergency room, but because the ER is a place where the most marginalized people tend to seek care.

"I have a special interest in the LGBTQ+ population, as I identify as queer and nonbinary," says Kuk. "A lot of people in this community and other marginalized communities access care through the ER and also tend to avoid medical care since there is a history of mistreatment and judgement from healthcare workers. How you carry yourself as a doctor, your compassion, that can make a huge difference in someone's care."

In addition to making a difference in the lives of LGBTQ+ patients, Kuk wants to make a difference in the lives of patients with cancer as well, like their mother had.

"We've diagnosed patients in the Emergency Department with cancer before," Kuk says. "I can't make cancer good news but how you deliver bad news and the compassion you show could make a world of difference to that patient and their family."

During their training, Kuk advocates for patients by delivering compassionate and inclusive care, whether they happen to have cancer or not. In addition to emphasizing their patient's pronouns and chosen names, they ask for inclusive social and sexual histories as well as using gender neutral language. In doing this, they hope to make medicine as a whole more accessible for people who have been historically pushed aside.

"I'm just one person, and I can't force everyone to respect you, if you're marginalized," Kuk says. "But I do want to push for a culture where people appreciate others who are different from them."