The sacrificial lambBy Chit Roces
Philippine Daily Inquirer
If God had no say in the matter, people like Joseph Estrada, Juan Ponce-Enrile and Imelda Marcos would continue to defy aging and live on and on by the grace of the unborn lamb, whose freshly harvested heart is liquefied for the stem cells that will keep the human heart ticking until its owner says “when.” The same goes with the sacrificial lamb’s liver, intestines, etc., for the regeneration of their corresponding human organs.
A shot in the buttocks of the juice is all it takes to jumpstart the whole process of reversing aging. How exciting to imagine my hair lush again, restored to its natural medium-warm brown, among other miracles!
But how frustrating, too, for these miracles are available only to the wealthy, and the rest of their exclusive club, as I gather from a report in this newspaper by Alex Y. Vergara on Dr. Geoffrey Huerten, chief medical director of Villa-Medica, and his work on stem cells. That club—that tiny fraction of the population in whose hands the wealth of this nation is concentrated—is the one in which I happen to most definitely not belong.
The report quoted a price of 15,000 euros (more than P800,000) for a package that includes pickup by limousine at the airport and sightseeing tours before treatment, but not the airfare. I might be able to muster the amount for a one-shot deal, but that’s only good for a year’s reprieve—it’s an annual treatment.
So here I am, fighting my battle against aging on a budget, day in and day out, and getting no more than superficial, if not merely illusory results, when in Germany, an hour’s drive from the Frankfurt airport, a clinic will do it for me quickly and decisively. There, for four days and three nights, I get the treatment that will make me immune to wrinkling, shrinking, sagging, hair loss, dry skin, and all the other things—natural things— that aging brings toward the conclusion—natural conclusion—of life.
Already, the report says, 350 Filipinos have begun paying their way to eternal youth. I imagine that, when they eventually tire of life and say “when,” people will be complimenting their corpses.
Shot in the dark
But I find morbid consolation, as hard put as I am to find any, in that, as expensive as it is, stem-cell treatment is still a shot in the dark. Its success, according to the report, much depends on the patient’s suitability, determined by tests, and a gamble—that from the buttocks, the juice of life will find its way to the right organ, and even if it does, you don’t go home young again; the process has to work over time, if it works at all. In other words, there’s yet plenty of opportunity for the law of karma to kick in.
Stem cells, at this stage, hardly offer a cure for cancer, HIV-AIDS, and other terminal diseases, although they’ve been known to improve conditions for diabetics and, to a certain extent, children with autism and Down’s Syndrome. For now, anyway, their greatest appeal is to human vanity and greed.
Their vitality restored, old men acquire a new boldness to live on the edge, and usually find affirmation from a younger woman. On the other hand, old wives who precisely have found relief in the easing of their husbands’ interest in sex now dread the possibility of the dormant old monsters beside them reawakening.
Well, man and wife joining the yearly lamb cocktails together should even things out.
A particular, and certainly timely, dread of my own has to do with the consequence of stem cells in politics. I don’t know that any deterrent could be devised against such perpetuation in power owed to the lamb. This is definitely a problem worse than the natural run of political dynasty: a one-person dynasty.
I guess the closest we can get to having a say is through the vote—by casting it against the stem-cell types, whose twisted sense of entitlement is betrayed by the Faustian deal they have taken. Which is a pity since stem-cell treatment may well be the most important breakthrough in medicine in our time.
I’m somehow forced to be desperately fatalistic about all this: God is known to have a soft spot for lambs, and He can get pretty nasty when His divine territory is invaded by self-deluded humans—as in the case of harvesting whose souls, and when.