Friday, May 28, 2010

Medicines or not: lost in translation

Cabral unfazed by case to be filed by herbal firms

MANILA, Philippines - Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral is unfazed by the graft case filed against her before the Office of the Ombudsman by a group of manufacturers of herbal and dietary products over the translation of a warning sign on product packages.

“I’m not bothered. All we did was translate it from English to Filipino so that it can be understood by most Filipinos. Why don’t they want the public to understand? Does it mean that they are thriving on deceit?” Cabral told The STAR.

The case stemmed from an administrative order of the Department of Health (DOH) issued last March 18 to replace the warning “No Approved Therapeutic Claims” on the labels of herbal and dietary products to “Mahalagang Paalala:
Ang (name of product) Ay Hindi Gamot at Hindi Dapat Gamiting Panggamot sa Anumang Uri ng Sakit.”

In its complaint, the Chamber of Herbal Industries of the Philippines Inc. claimed that the order had caused the industry some P47.4 million in damages and injury in the form of cancelled advertisements and wasted advertising and promotional materials, excluding losses in sales...

Hmm. Why pick on herbals? I think Sec. Cabral should go all the way and make mandatory the translations of warnings on all other products as well.

English - "Cigarette smoking is dangerous to your health"
Tagalog - "Ang paninigarilyo ay delikado sa iyong kalusugan, kahit presidente ka pa."

English - "Drink moderately"
Tagalog - "Uminom nang katamtaman lamang, kasi parang yosi din yan."

English - "Trust Condoms"
Tagalog - " 85% lamang ang bisa nito, at hindi ito gamot sa AIDS. Sa madali't salita, pwede mo ring ikamatay."

English - "Condoms is supergood medicine"
Tagalog - "Ah ewan!"


petrufied said...

supergood medicine? it doesn't even cure anything. the way she handles the spread of AIDS makes me think that maybe for this health sec, the way to stop the spread of AH1N1 is to give out masks.

i LOLed at the translations XD

WillyJ said...

Or cover one's eyes.

Here's another amusing translation of a warning sign (a real one), this time put up by MMDA on some busy roads:

English: Pedestrian No Crossing
Tagalog: Bawal tumawid dito - nakakamatay!

sunnyday said...

There's a sign somewhere in QC that says "May namatay na dito" :-0 Can't remember where exactly I saw it... maybe Libis?

I hope the warning is graphic enough to dissuade jaywalkers from throwing caution to the wind. Too often, many simply cross a very busy street anywhere they please -- nakangisi pa. Go figure.

WillyJ said...

I guess I figured it out. Hereabouts the prohibition signs need to be very emphatic, as many people tend to view them only as "suggestions". Thus we have sign abominations such as "Strictly No Counterflow allowed"; "Traffic regulations strictly implemented"; "Full Stop" (as if there's a half-stop).

sunnyday said...

Haha, yes, they seem to be regarded as mere suggestions. This reminded me of that portion of the RH bill that presents 2 children per family as the ideal family size.

Suggestion lang daw yon, say the bill's advocates. It's not being imposed daw. Well, if that is the case, why is it even in the bill? What kind of a law would that be? If we follow it, ok lang; if we don't follow it, ok lang din. And taxpayers' money will go into the implementation of a law that contains suggestions? Ang labo. Should this provision not be removed then? Along with other objectionable provisions, of course.

Oh, what I was referring to when I wrote "go figure" was the way pedestrians jaywalk with a smile on their face, sometimes even laughing. I do this sometimes, but only when there are no cars in sight, hence my life doesn't seem to be in danger :-0

WillyJ said...


Yes, it is downright silly to even suggest an "ideal" 2 children per family. Any right thinking person knows that circumstances for ideal family size are unique from couple to couple, and even then, these circumstances change over time.

Back to Cabral. Now she is making even sillier statements that sex education should start at kindergarten. It is good that Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza prudently advises consultation with sectors first. Cabral is too gung-ho for the wrong reasons. Maybe she is experiencing delirious side-effects from her meds. She will cause a huge headache for the incoming administration if she is allowed to stay on. She should go, I hope the president-elect realizes this.

petrufied said...

I hope she goes too. She seems to be giving the go on all the absurd things without thinking. Maybe she likes reading her name in the paper.

Here's another sign at a cellphone load booth at the MRT:

Free Balance Check - "Walang bayad!"

WillyJ said...


KSP nga siguro. Personally I think if a cabinet member were to embark or publicly advocate something potentially controversial, the wise thing to do is to get the advise first of the boss - meaning the president. Apparently Cabral did not do so and that is why we have that word of caution coming from Exec Secretary Mendoza.