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I grew up in a small town in the mountains of the Philippine Islands, in a culture that emphasized the importance of food, family, and alcohol. In my household, the family is the number one priority. You work to provide for your family. You go to school to give your family a better future. After family, food is the second priority. For the population that has access to food, it is a luxury, however, not that many Filipino families are able to enjoy this luxury because of poverty. Growing up in the Filipino culture, I saw how important alcohol was to the social experience. It brought people together. The Filipino culture loves to eat and loves to drink but no one has brought up the effects of these actions. This lifestyle that the Filipino population is living is also what is leading to a higher risk of high blood pressure. High blood pressure is also known as hypertension. According to the American Heart Association (2017), hypertension is when the blood pressure, which is the strength of the blood pushing on the walls of the blood vessels, is too high. It is known as the silent killer because there are no clear symptoms other than death. According to WebMD (2017), there are many causes of high blood pressure such as smoking, drinking, family history, age, salty diet, and lack of exercise. Medication and a change in lifestyle can treat high blood pressure. People who do not go to the doctors annually and get their blood pressure checked, do not know that they might have high blood pressure which would put them at a higher risk of heart conditions such as stroke and heart attacks. The Filipino culture is known to have one of the highest rates of high blood pressure compared to the other Asian cultures (Hypertension Among Filipinos). I feel that in my Filipino culture, the family is so prioritized that people forget to take care of themselves as an individual. There are thousands of people that have high blood pressure but they do not do anything to lower their blood pressure because they are more concerned with taking care of their family. Families that are in poverty do not even have access to health care and medical treatments because all the money that they have goes towards feeding their family and sending their children to school for a better future. It is sad to know that my culture does not put enough importance on how dangerous high blood pressure is. A population of the Filipino culture does not go to school because they would rather use the tuition money for rent and food; therefore, they lack the information on what causes high blood pressure and the treatments that they would learn in school. It makes me feel worried that high blood pressure is killing so many people because my culture does not educate how serious it is and how one way to treat it only takes a change in lifestyle to lower the blood pressure.
My perspective on high blood pressure is that it is a health condition that my culture experiences because of our love of the Filipino cuisines. My culture emphasizes the importance of food. We have so many delicious foods like pancit which is a noodle dish, lechon which is roasted pig, and adobo which is soy sauce braised chicken. However, these delicious dishes are unhealthy and increase the risk of high blood pressure because they contain a lot of it has pork, beef, chicken, and seafood which are seasoned with a soy sauce, vinegar, and salt. I know that because of my culture’s influence on my diet, it increases my risk of hypertension. Knowing how serious high blood pressure is because it doesn’t show any symptoms and seeing how the people in my life have it because of their lifestyle makes me want to change my attitude on diet and exercise.
Growing up in the Filipino culture, drinking was a very big part of the lifestyle. Anytime during the day, people would be drinking. Drinking was a part of a lot of occasions like birthdays and festivals. Even during the preparation for the event, people would already start drinking. I have also experienced seeing my uncles drinking in the middle of the day even when there was no celebration. The people in the Philippines have a hard time finding jobs and earning money but that does not stop them from drinking. With the little money they earn, they spend it on alcohol. Instead of going home, they spend hours with their drinking buddies drinking multiple bottles. I have tried to tell my uncles about the effects of drinking but it is hard to change the behavior of someone that has spent a lot of years drinking. Alcohol is one of the causes of hypertension which is why I have chosen not to drink the way the people in my culture are drinking. Being in a culture that encourages drinking and seeing the effects of it on people’s health has made me avoid alcohol. Since the risk of high blood pressure is also based on genes, I have chosen to stay away from things such as alcohol that can increase my risk of high blood pressure because of its history in my family.
I am proud to be part of the Filipino culture even though it is a little disappointing that our culture’s emphasis on the importance of family, food, and alcohol are also the reasons why there is a big percentage of Filipinos that are at risk of high blood pressure. I think that hypertension is a health condition that needs to be discussed more in my culture so people can start acknowledging its effect on our bodies and changing their lifestyle to be healthier. I am glad that I am learning about hypertension in school, so I can share the information that I learn with my family and improve our health.
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