Diabetes is one of the leading causes of death in the Philippines and the number of Filipinos with diabetes is growing at an alarming rate. Many believe that diabetes is inherited. As a matter of fact, this disease can be inherited but there are also several factors that make people acquire this disease. Despite the advancements in medical treatment and technology, diabetes still remains as one of the prevalent diseases that afflict a huge number of Filipinos.
A 16-year old student from Iloilo has made a breakthrough just recently. Maria Isabel Layson, high school student discovered that the “aratiles” fruit have a potential to cure diabetes. She says that this fruit grows in abundance in their backyard. She draws inspiration from the bitter fact that many of her family members lost their lives to diabetes. Driven, she started to study the anti oxidant and anti diabetic properties of the fruit.
Maria Isabel was one of the 12 aspiring young scientists who represented the Philippines at the prestigious Intel International Science and Engineering Fair 2019 that was held in Phoenix, Arizona, USA lat May 12 to 17. Her research study, “Bioactive Component, Antioxidant Activity, and Anti Diabetic Properties of Mutingia calabura Linn: An In vitro Study”, did not win the grand prize but she hopes that this will pave way in the development of a cure for diabetes in the Philippines.
She was the first on her batch to receive the Gokongwie Brothers Foundation Young Scientist Award. Her research has already won the Best Individual Research in Life Science during the Department of Education’s 2019 National Science and Technology. She joined the competition not to gain fame, she said. She did the research because she wanted to address the growing problem of diabetes and how her research of the aratiles could help solve the problem.
Aratiles, as most commonly called by Filipinos, is a berry like fruit that grows naturally in the Philippines. It is known in other countries as Jamaican Cherry, Panama Berry, Singapore Cherry and many more. Nobody ever paid attention to the potential of this fruit until Maria Isabela did. Her inquisitiveness and curiosity prompted her to do this research. The results of her study actually prove that the fruit does contain anti-diabetic properties and it is very rich in antioxidants.
According to Maria Isabela, eating aratiles or sarisa is the cheapest solution to cure diabetes. This will help a lot of Filipinos suffering from type 2 diabetes that cannot afford medical treatment. According to the Department of Health, diabetes is one of the deadliest diseases in the country, with millions afflicted due to lifestyle and genetic factors.
Maria Isabela may not have bagged the grand prize but her research is already a victory. She is only sixteen years old; she still has a long life ahead of her. She said that her research will not end here. She wants to continue on this project and delve more into discovering how she can utilize the plant and the fruit in reaching their full medicinal potential as a cure for diabetes.
Students like Maria Isabela who exudes discipline, maturity, intelligence, and most of all a desire to use their talents to solve problems of humanity is worth emulating. She radiates hope to the future generation. She drew inspiration from her personal experiences and that lead her into her research. Her success is a direct reflection of the kind of education her respective school gave her. Credit should also be given to the advisors and teachers who have awakened her interest in this field. To all students, ponder on the words of Maria Isabela, “We must always remain curious and awed. Because that’s where research begins.”