HRT - Hormone Replacement Therapy in Bergenfield, NJ

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What Causes Menopause?

The most common reason for menopause is the natural decline in a female's reproductive hormones. However, menopause can also result from the following situations:

Oophorectomy: This surgery, which removes a woman's ovaries, causes immediate menopause. Symptoms and signs of menopause in this situation can be severe, as the hormonal changes happen abruptly.

Chemotherapy: Cancer treatments like chemotherapy can induce menopause quickly, causing symptoms to appear shortly after or even during treatment.

Ovarian Insufficiency: Also called premature ovarian failure, this condition is essentially premature menopause. It happens when a woman's ovaries quit functioning before the age of 40 and can stem from genetic factors and disease. Only 1% of women suffer from premature menopause, but HRT can help protect the heart, brain, and bones.

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Depression

If you're a woman going through menopause and find that you have become increasingly depressed, you're not alone. It's estimated that 15% of women experience depression to some degree while going through menopause. What many women don't know is that depression can start during perimenopause, or the years leading up to menopause.

Depression can be hard to diagnose, especially during perimenopause and menopause. However, if you notice the following signs, it might be time to speak with a physician:

  • Mood Swings
  • Inappropriate Guilt
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Too Much or Too Little Sleep
  • Lack of Interest in Life
  • Overwhelming Feelings

Remember, if you're experiencing depression, you're not weak or broken - you're going through a very regular emotional experience. The good news is that with proper treatment from your doctor, depression isn't a death sentence. And with HRT and anti-aging treatment for women, depression could be the catalyst you need to enjoy a new lease on life.

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Hot Flashes

Hot flashes - they're one of the most well-known symptoms of menopause. Hot flashes are intense, sudden feelings of heat across a woman's upper body. Some last second, while others last minutes, making them incredibly inconvenient and uncomfortable for most women.

Symptoms of hot flashes include:

  • Sudden, Overwhelming Feeling of Heat
  • Anxiety
  • High Heart Rate
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness

Typically, hot flashes are caused by a lack of estrogen. Low estrogen levels negatively affect a woman's hypothalamus, the part of the brain that controls body temperature and appetite. Low estrogen levels cause the hypothalamus to incorrectly assume the body is too hot, dilating blood vessels to increase blood flow. Luckily, most women don't have to settle for the uncomfortable feelings that hot flashes cause. HRT treatments for women often stabilize hormones, lessening the effects of hot flashes and menopause in general.

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Mood Swings

Mood swings are common occurrences for most people - quick shifts from happy to angry and back again, triggered by a specific event. And while many people experience mood swings, they are particularly common for women going through menopause. That's because, during menopause, the female's hormones are often imbalanced. Hormone imbalances and mood swings go hand-in-hand, resulting in frequent mood changes and even symptoms like insomnia.

The rate of production of estrogen, a hormone that fluctuates during menopause, largely determines the rate of production the hormone serotonin, which regulates mood, causing mood swings.

Luckily, HRT and anti-aging treatments in Bergenfield, NJ for women work wonders for mood swings by regulating hormone levels like estrogen. With normal hormone levels, women around the world are now learning that they don't have to settle for mood swings during menopause.

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Weight Gain

Staying fit and healthy is hard for anyone living in modern America. However, for women with hormone imbalances during perimenopause or menopause, weight gain is even more serious. Luckily, HRT treatments for women coupled with a physician-led diet can help keep weight in check. But which hormones need to be regulated?

  • Estrogen: During menopause, estrogen levels are depleted. As such, the body must search for other sources of estrogen. Because estrogen is stored in fat, your body believes it should increase fat production during menopause. Estrogen also plays a big part in insulin resistance, which can make it even harder to lose weight and keep it off.
  • Progesterone: Progesterone levels are also depleted during menopause. Progesterone depletion causes bloating and water retention, while loss of testosterone limits the body's ability to burn calories.
  • Ongoing Stress: Stress makes our bodies think that food is hard to come by, putting our bodies in "survival mode". When this happens, cortisol production is altered. When cortisol timing changes, the energy in the bloodstream is diverted toward making fat. With chronic stress, this process repeatedly happens, causing extensive weight gain during menopause.
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Low Libido

Lowered sexual desire - three words most men and women hate to hear. Unfortunately, for many women in perimenopausal and menopausal states, it's just a reality of life. Thankfully, today, HRT and anti-aging treatments Bergenfield, NJ can help women maintain a normal, healthy sex drive. But what causes low libido in women, especially as they get older?

The hormones responsible for low libido in women are progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone.

Progesterone production decreases during perimenopause, causing low sex drive in women. Lower progesterone production can also cause chronic fatigue, weight gain, and other symptoms. On the other hand, lower estrogen levels during menopause lead to vaginal dryness and even vaginal atrophy or loss of muscle tension.

Lastly, testosterone plays a role in lowered libido. And while testosterone is often grouped as a male hormone, it contributes to important health and regulatory functionality in women. A woman's testosterone serves to heighten sexual responses and enhances orgasms. When the ovaries are unable to produce sufficient levels of testosterone, it often results in a lowered sex drive.

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Vaginal Dryness

Often uncomfortable and even painful, vaginal dryness is a serious problem for sexually active women. However, like hair loss in males, vaginal dryness is very common - almost 50% of women suffer from it during menopause.

Getting older is just a part of life, but that doesn't mean you have to settle for the side effects. HRT and anti-aging treatments for women correct vaginal dryness by re-balancing estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. When supplemented with diet and healthy living, your vagina's secretions are normalized, causing discomfort to recede.

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Fibroids

Uterine fibroids - they're perhaps the least-known symptom of menopause and hormone imbalances in women. That's because these growths on the uterus are often symptom-free. Unfortunately, these growths can be cancerous, presenting a danger for women as they age.

Many women will have fibroids at some point. Because they're symptomless, they're usually found during routine doctor exams. Some women only get one or two, while others may have large clusters of fibroids. Because fibroids are usually caused by hormone imbalances, hysterectomies have been used as a solution, forcing women into early menopause.

Advances in HRT and anti-aging medicine for women give females a safer, non-surgical option without having to experience menopause early. At Global Life Rejuvenation, our expert physicians will implement a customized HRT program to stabilize your hormones and reduce the risk of cancerous fibroid growth.

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Endometriosis

Endometriosis symptoms are much like the effects of PMS, and include pelvic pain, fatigue, cramping, and bloating. While doctors aren't entirely sure what causes this painful, uncomfortable condition, most agree that hormones - particularly xenoestrogens - play a factor.

Endometriosis symptoms are much like the effects of PMS and include pelvic pain, fatigue, cramping, and bloating. While doctors aren't entirely sure what causes this painful, uncomfortable condition, most agree that hormones - particularly xenoestrogens - play a factor.

Xenoestrogen is a hormone that is very similar to estrogen. Too much xenoestrogen is thought to stimulate endometrial tissue growth. HRT for women helps balance these hormones and, when used with a custom nutrition program, can provide relief for women across the U.S.

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What is Sermorelin?

Sermorelin is a synthetic hormone peptide, like GHRH, which triggers the release of growth hormones. When used under the care of a qualified physician, Sermorelin can help you lose weight, increase your energy levels, and help you feel much younger.

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Benefits of Sermorelin

Human growth hormone (HGH) therapy has been used for years to treat hormone deficiencies. Unlike HGH, which directly replaces declining human growth hormone levels, Sermorelin addresses the underlying cause of decreased HGH, stimulating the pituitary gland naturally. This approach keeps the mechanisms of growth hormone production active.

  • Benefits of Sermorelin include:
  • Better Immune Function
  • Improved Physical Performance
  • More Growth Hormone Production
  • Less Body Fat
  • Build More Lean Muscle
  • Better Sleep
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What is Ipamorelin?

Ipamorelin helps to release growth hormones in a person's body by mimicking a peptide called ghrelin. Ghrelin is one of three hormones which work together to regulate the growth hormone levels released by the pituitary gland. Because Ipamorelin stimulates the body to produce growth hormone, your body won't stop its natural growth hormone production, which occurs with synthetic HGH.

Ipamorelin causes growth hormone secretion that resembles natural release patterns rather than being constantly elevated from HGH. Because ipamorelin stimulates the natural production of growth hormone, our patients can use this treatment long-term with fewer health risks.

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Benefits of Ipamorelin

One of the biggest benefits of Ipamorelin is that it provides significant short and long-term benefits in age management therapies. Ipamorelin can boost a patient's overall health, wellbeing, and outlook on life.

When growth hormone is produced by the pituitary gland using Ipamorelin, clients report amazing benefits. Some of those benefits include:

  • Powerful Anti-Aging Properties
  • More Muscle Mass
  • Less Unsightly Body Fat
  • Deep, Restful Sleep
  • Increased Athletic Performance
  • More Energy
  • Less Recovery Time for Training Sessions and Injuries
  • Enhanced Overall Wellness and Health
  • No Significant Increase in Cortisol

Your New, Youthful Lease on Life with HRT for Women

Whether you are considering our HRT and anti-aging treatments for women in Bergenfield, NJ, we are here to help. The first step to reclaiming your life begins by contacting Global Life Rejuvenation. Our friendly, knowledgeable HRT experts can help answer your questions and walk you through our procedures. From there, we'll figure out which treatments are right for you. Before you know it, you'll be well on your way to looking and feeling better than you have in years!

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Latest News in Bergenfield, NJ

NJ father and son, ordained two weeks apart, make history at Catholic Mass

It was the day after Father Matthew Gonzalez's ordination, and the newly minted priest was jittery as he stood at the altar, preparing to celebrate Mass in the Bergenfield church where he was raised.Fortunately for Gonzalez, he had a familiar presence at his side. The deacon that day in May was the man who'd been walking him up the aisles of ...

It was the day after Father Matthew Gonzalez's ordination, and the newly minted priest was jittery as he stood at the altar, preparing to celebrate Mass in the Bergenfield church where he was raised.

Fortunately for Gonzalez, he had a familiar presence at his side. The deacon that day in May was the man who'd been walking him up the aisles of St. John the Evangelist since he was a child.

"Not a lot of priests can say they are at the same altar as their own father," Gonzalez recalled in a recent interview.

A day earlier, the 28-year-old had been welcomed into the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Newark with his father, German Gonzalez, looking on. Two weeks earlier, it had been German's turn, as Matthew helped in the ordination his 59-year-old dad as a deacon in the Metuchen Diocese. They came together on May 29 in St. John's for a historic Mass. According to Newark Archdiocese spokesman Sean Quinn, it was the first time that an archdiocese priest had celebrated his first Mass with his father serving beside him.

"Walking down the aisle of St. John's and seeing all of the people who we knew for so many years was very special," said German Gonzalez, who, like his son, had lived for years in New Milford. "I got very emotional up there helping my son. It was a very spiritual experience."

Deacons deliver the Gospel during Mass, preach the homily and assist the priest in a variety of duties. They can perform some Catholic sacraments, but there are others, such as hearing confessions, or anointing the sick, that they cannot perform as priests do. Deacons are also permitted to marry, while priests must remain celibate.

The men credited mother and wife Maria Gonzalez for launching their spiritual journeys. She was on Matthew's mind as he strode through the church where he and two siblings had worshipped every Sunday for more than 15 years.

"She was the religious pillar of our family," the son recalled. "Her faith was what inspired everyone. I don't know if we would be here today if it wasn't for her keeping us grounded the way that she did."

Maria Gonzalez, who grew up in the Dominican Republic and came to America at age 11, started the church youth group at the church and made sure the family attended services every week. Praying the rosary at home was non-negotiable. "She always asked, `Are you sure you are doing the right thing? Are these the right friends you want to be with? Make sure that God is number one in your life,' " Matthew said. "That was huge for me. To have that mantra in my life. It helped me stay on track."

Watching her husband and son officiate together brought a deep "sense of fulfillment," Maria said. "Our lives have always been about service." she said. "This was just a new level."

German Gonzalez, a Colombian immigrant and long-haul truck driver, was a frequent presence at the parish, said Monsignor Richard Arnhols, the pastor at St. John's. German would accompany his son when Matthew performed as part of the church band that played for children with disabilities. "He would be in the body of the church, listening to make sure the sound was just right, making sure they had everything they needed," Arnhols said.

Arnhols knew the elder Gonzalez as a "quiet and unassuming" member of the church, but the father seemed "transformed" by his journey to the diaconate, he added, judging by the speech he gave after his son's first Mass.

"It was clear how proud each was of the other."

German now serves as a deacon at St. John Paul II Parish in Perth Amboy, part of the Metuchen Diocese. Matthew is parochial vicar at St. Bartholomew Parish in Scotch Plains, in the Newark Archdiocese.

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The path wasn't a straight one for either man.

Matthew Gonzalez grew up attending St. Joseph, a Catholic school in Oradell. He first considered the priesthood at age 8, he said. "The teacher was discussing various professions, and she said, 'Does anyone think they'd want to be a priest?' "

Without thinking about it, he raised his hand. His friends were shocked, Matthew recalled.

In high school, he served as a youth minister and played piano and guitar for the church. The priesthood was tugging at his heart, but he also yearned for a conventional life with a family and career. He entered seminary at Seton Hall University in 2015, thinking he could try it out for a year.

He soon realized that becoming a priest was "what made me feel most fulfilled in life." Now, as an ordained priest, he added, "I have never been happier in my life."

His father was raised by religious parents in Colombia and was deeply influenced by his mother's teachings. German came to America at age 22 and married. He became an independent truck driver for FedEx. He still drives an 18-wheeler on interstate trips, a job he's held for more than 20 years. At his wife's urging, he became deeply involved in church activities.

He first thought of becoming a deacon a decade ago, but finally made the push after the family moved to Perth Amboy and the local priest encouraged him. He worried that his English wasn't strong enough but entered a diocese program launched to help Spanish-speaking deacons.

"A deacon is the bridge between the people and church," he said.

Every night, German would finish his eight-hour FedEx shift and head to class or study on his own to complete the four-year deacon's program. "My family believed in me," he said.

Since their ordinations, the deacon said, other priests have asked what he would call his son.

"For me, Matthew is my biological son," he said. "But now he's also my spiritual father."

Correction: A prior version of this story included incorrect information on the sacraments that priests and deacons can perform.

Deena Yellin covers religion for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to her work covering how the spiritual intersects with our daily lives, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

Email: [email protected]

'About as hot as it gets:' When will North Jersey get relief from July heat wave?

Temperatures in much of North Jersey reached well into the upper 90s Saturday as the longest heat wave of the year continues.“This is serious heat we are dealing with,” National Weather Service meteorologist Dominic Ramunni said. “This is about as hot as it gets.”Though no daily record temperatures were set Saturday, temperatures were in the 90s across the region for most of the day with some areas, including Hillsborough and Elizabeth, hitting 100, as the heat wave continued for a sixth d...

Temperatures in much of North Jersey reached well into the upper 90s Saturday as the longest heat wave of the year continues.

“This is serious heat we are dealing with,” National Weather Service meteorologist Dominic Ramunni said. “This is about as hot as it gets.”

Though no daily record temperatures were set Saturday, temperatures were in the 90s across the region for most of the day with some areas, including Hillsborough and Elizabeth, hitting 100, as the heat wave continued for a sixth day. The humidity made the air feel even hotter.

Temperatures are forecast to be even higher on Sunday, and a heat advisory is still in effect for all of Northeast New Jersey and New York until Sunday evening.

“It’s impressive and shows how unusual, sustained heat is in the tri-state,” Ramunni said.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection declared an ozone alert for both days this weekend. Sensitive individuals, including very young, elderly and persons with respiratory diseases such as asthma, should avoid strenuous activities during the afternoon and evening hours.

Some experts have equated the effect of breathing ozone to sunburn on the lungs. Ozone is created when nitrogen oxide and volatile organic compounds react with each other in warmer air. Prevailing winds bring nitrogen oxide into New Jersey from Pennsylvania and the Midwest, which have many large power plants that burn coal. Volatile organic compounds, meanwhile, are released by cars and trucks, and New Jersey is a major transportation corridor.

To beat the heat, many area residents descended on municipal pools and state and county parks on Saturday. Wawayanda State Park in Hewitt, where swimming and other water activities are available, reached capacity and closed before 10 a.m.

All Millburn and Short Hills residents could cool down at the Millburn municipal pool — the recreation department announced the pool would be open to all residents, even those without membership, due to the excessive heat.

Of course, hot days aren’t unusual for this time of year, said North Jersey Weather Observers spokesman Bob Ziff.

During this week in 2011, Bergenfield had record high temperatures hitting 104 degrees. So far this week in Bergenfield the highest temperature was 97 on Wednesday and again Saturday, Ziff said. Bergenfield just missed matching its record high for July 23, which was 98 set in 2011.

Overall Bergenfield's temperatures have put this month on pace to be the hottest July on record.

Bergenfield typically averages nine days over 90 degrees in July, which has already happened this month, he said.

The temperature peaked in most areas by 4:30 p.m. with the North Jersey Weather Observers recording these daily highs:

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If you have to be outdoors, dress appropriately with loose-fitting, light colored clothes, Ramunni said. Take breaks in the shade or inside and stay hydrated. Ramunni also reminded people not to leave any pets or children in the car, which will “turn deadly quickly.”

“Since it’s the weekend, with folks out and about, it adds to the danger with more people outside,” Ramunni said.

More:How to stay cool as a heat wave hits North Jersey, from cooling centers to swimming spots

Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco extended cooling center hours through the weekend in an effort help residents during the current heat wave.

These locations will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Relief on the way

On Sunday, temperatures could be slightly hotter than Saturday, but relief will come Monday.

A cold front is expected to come from the Great Lakes on Monday with showers and thunderstorms later in the day bringing in cooler air. The heavy downpours could lead to minor flooding.

“It will be marginally cooler early next week going from upper 90s to mid-upper 80s,” Ramunni said. “It’s not a substantial cool-off, but it will return to where we normally are for late in July.”

Bergenfield Launches Mayor’s Wellness Campaign 2022 With Kick-off Event at Conlon Hall

Bergenfield Launches Mayor’s Wellness Campaign 2022 With Kick-off Event at Conlon HallMayor Amatorio on hand to help register and weigh-in participantsBERGENFIELD, NJ — Mayor Arvin Amatorio was in high spirits Sunday at Conlon Hall as he was joined by residents, volunteers, and sponsors to kick-off his Mayor’s Wellness Campaign 2022, a free statewide initiative that encourages active lifestyles and healthy living through education, fun activities, and community engagement.“Thank you to all the ama...

Bergenfield Launches Mayor’s Wellness Campaign 2022 With Kick-off Event at Conlon Hall

Mayor Amatorio on hand to help register and weigh-in participants

BERGENFIELD, NJ — Mayor Arvin Amatorio was in high spirits Sunday at Conlon Hall as he was joined by residents, volunteers, and sponsors to kick-off his Mayor’s Wellness Campaign 2022, a free statewide initiative that encourages active lifestyles and healthy living through education, fun activities, and community engagement.

“Thank you to all the amazing people who joined me at the kick off event this past weekend and I want to extend a special thank you to the vendors, volunteers, and sponsors who are helping make this incredible program possible,” said Mayor Amatorio. “There’s no better time than Spring to begin making a commitment to improving our health, and together as a community we will live up to the motto that ‘It’s more fun and healthier in Bergenfield!’”

The Mayor’s Wellness Campaign is a statewide community health initiative that provides evidence-based tools and strategies for mayors and community leaders to help their residents achieve healthier lifestyles and improve overall health and wellness in their communities. The New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute (NJHCQI) has been leading the Mayors Wellness Campaign in partnership with the New Jersey State League of Municipalities since 2006.

Through this partnership, Bergenfield will receive regularly updated tools and strategies to promote health and active living, connections to local partners and volunteer networks to share best practices, information about grants and funding for programs, as well as an opportunity to be designated as a “Healthy Town” by the NJHCQI.

Sponsors of the Mayor’s Wellness Campaign include the Bergen NewBridge Medical Center, United Martial Arts UMA Taekwondo, H&R Enriquez Accounting Firm, Bergenfield Sariling Atin Asian Grill, World Financial Group, New York Life Insurance, Medicare, Tupperware, the Philippine Nurses Association – New Jersey Bergen Passaic SubChaper, the Jesus Lamb of God Church, the Filipino Apostolate of the Archdiocese of Newark, St. Mary’s Line Dancers Group, Headliners Salon, Glacy’s Salon, Nova Salon, Bergen County BagUpNJ.com, DeLa Russo Eyecare, the Jersey College School of Nursing, the Bergenfield Stigma-Free Committee, as well as the Bergenfield Recreation Department, Health Department, and Department of Public Works.

Some of the highlights of the campaign include Zumba on Mondays at Veteran’s Memorial Park from 6:30 – 7:30 PM, Yoga on Wednesdays from 6:00 – 7:00 PM at Conlon Hall, Walks with the Mayor on Thursdays at 6:00 PM at Cooper’s Pond, and Line Dancing on Fridays from 7:00 – 9:00 PM at Conlon Hall.

For a complete list of events/activities, please visit www.bergenfield.com. If you have any questions or need more information about the campaign or specific events, please do not hesitate to contact the Boro at (201) 387-4055 ext. 6, the Health Department at (201) 387-4055 ext. 5, or Councilman Marc Pascual at (201) 328-7516.

St. John's in Bergenfield celebrates 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines

BERGENFIELD — On the Sunday before the celebration of Jesus Christ's birth, parishioners at St. John the Evangelist Church gathered for song and prayers led by Father Oliver Nilo to honor the Virgin Mary and the Son of God.As Nilo recounted the story of Elizabeth greeting a pregnant Mary, a large wooden cross stood to his left, a new arrival in the church that connected the congregation to a long history of Filipino forebears.The cross, which has been touring the local Catholic diocese, is a replica of Mage...

BERGENFIELD — On the Sunday before the celebration of Jesus Christ's birth, parishioners at St. John the Evangelist Church gathered for song and prayers led by Father Oliver Nilo to honor the Virgin Mary and the Son of God.

As Nilo recounted the story of Elizabeth greeting a pregnant Mary, a large wooden cross stood to his left, a new arrival in the church that connected the congregation to a long history of Filipino forebears.

The cross, which has been touring the local Catholic diocese, is a replica of Magellan's Cross in Cebu City, the Philippines, which is believed to have been planted by Spanish explorer Ferdinand Magellan in April 1521, introducing the religion to the Pacific islands.

To mark the 500th year of Christianity in the Philippines, the so-called Pilgrim Cross has been traveling around churches in the Catholic Archdiocese of Newark, as Filipino Americans honor their history as the largest Christian nation in Asia.

The cross arrived in Bergenfield on Dec. 5, with Nilo officiating the Mass that enshrined it. About 45% of the more than 10,000 parishioners at the church are Filipino American.

"I'm very thankful Christianity was implanted in the Philippines," said Bergenfield resident Norma Norona, 78, a Filipino immigrant. "I don't know what would have happened without Christianity."

Filipino-run businesses line the diverse neighborhood along Washington Avenue in Bergenfield. The area has come to be known as Little Manila, in a town where more than 18% of the population is Filipino, according to U.S. Census figures. The Philippines, a collection of more than 7,600 islands off the South China Sea, have a major presence in Bergenfield and at St. John the Evangelist.

Built in 1905, the Roman Catholic church sits in an area that was once a white working-class neighborhood but is now multicultural and multilingual.

As demographics shifted in Bergenfield, the church has changed along with them, said Monsignor Richard Arnhols. There are Masses conducted in Tagalog, the national language of the Philippines. During Christmas season, a "Rooster Mass" is held at 5 a.m., similar to the Mass Filipino field workers would celebrate before setting off on a day's work, Arnhols explained.

St. John's parishioners include 55 different nationalities, a change from the church's initial membership of mostly Irish and German immigrants.

"It's a pretty good representation of the community as a whole," Arnhols said.

The Filipino community came to the church about three decades ago and has grown throughout the years, he said.

"The Pilgrim Cross goes from church to church during the 12 months of this year," Arnhols said. "It is modeled on the original cross. What they've done to engage people this whole year is to travel."

Before St. John the Evangelist, the cross was at St. Joseph Church, which serves New Milford and Oradell. It will travel next to the Church of St. Michael the Archangel in Union City. The yearlong celebration is due to end in March.

Seeing the Pilgrim Cross was emotional for Matthew Travilla, a Bergenfield resident who is a parishioner at St. John the Evangelist.

"It's raw compassion for me," said Travilla, 28. "We're going through some very challenging times right now."

Religion was not always a big part of Travilla's life. Growing up in Manhattan, he said, he didn't fully appreciate Catholicism.

"I didn't understand it," he said. "As I grew older, I started to read the teachings."

Through reading the Bible, Travilla gained a new perspective on the faith his family instilled in him. Now, he not only attends Mass weekly, he also volunteers at the church helping with collections.

"It connects the Filipino community," Travilla said. "We have that shared interest."

Mary Chao ? ? ? covers the Asian community and real estate for NorthJersey.com. To get unlimited access to the latest news out of North Jersey, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

NJ martial arts master is ambassador for Hollywood's favorite fighting style – Mary Chao

Growing up in Bergenfield, Ace Ramirez recalls being picked on due to his small stature and his Filipino roots.As a latchkey kid — his immigrant parents worked multiple jobs — Ramirez would watch ...

Growing up in Bergenfield, Ace Ramirez recalls being picked on due to his small stature and his Filipino roots.

As a latchkey kid — his immigrant parents worked multiple jobs — Ramirez would watch martial arts movies at home. He wanted desperately to learn the skills to defend himself.

When his mother made her famous Filipino pancit noodles, Ramirez had an idea. The 10-year-old took the dish to S.J. Kim's taekwondo studio in town and bowed, offering the bowl to Master Kim. Please teach me, he pleaded.

That was 40 years ago and started Ramirez down a path of passion for martial arts. Now, as director of his own studio, the Filipino Kali Academy of Bergenfield and Norwood, Ramirez shares his knowledge with others who want to learn about the unique Filipino way of self-defense.

The fighting style to which he dedicated his life has won new attention in recent years, from Hollywood movies and national sporting organizations.

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"We need to be teachers in every aspect, not just the fighting aspect," said Ramirez, 50, who still lives in Bergenfield.

When he was a child, Ramirez's first challenge at the dojo was finding a way to pay Master Kim. His mother just did not have the extra money, so Ramirez struck a deal, offering to clean the mats and do chores in exchange for lessons.

Martial arts was "all I wanted to do when I was 10," Ramirez recalled recently. It was "a first step in my youth to find myself."

A dedicated student, Ramirez would go on to learn Chinese kung fu, Japanese karate and muay thai. But as a Filipino American, he was drawn to the fighting discipline of his own homeland, which was not well-known in America some 30 years ago.

Filipino martial arts are known as kali, escrima and arnis, three interchangeable terms to describe the indigenous combat style. The form teaches the use of sticks as blades, before moving on to empty-hand techniques. It is street fighting, Ramirez explained. Most Filipino hand-to-hand techniques come from the historical stick-and-sword movements.

Hollywood loves the rapid-fire, close-quarters style of kali. Watch the intense fights in the "Bourne" movies or "Mission: Impossible III" or Bruce Lee's stick-wielding warrior in "Enter the Dragon," and you're watching Filipino martial arts.

"Filipino martial arts has been an influence, a part of choreography, in movies you see," Ramirez said.

The Philippines consist of more than 7,000 islands in the Pacific that declared independence from Spanish rule over 120 years ago. Native Filipinos used their own martial arts techniques to fight the Spaniards, Ramirez said. The art form dates back to the 1500s.

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The Filipino flag was flown for the first time on June 12,1898, which is now celebrated as Independence Day.

In addition to his country's independence, Ramirez has a lot to celebrate this June. It's the 25th anniversary of the academy that he launched in Bergenfield, before opening a second location in Norwood. The original studio shut down during the pandemic but recently reopened at 321 S. Washington St.

Ramirez is also thrilled that the Filipino martial arts form has been officially accepted by the Amateur Athletic Union, included with other sports such as tennis, swimming and weightlifting. Ramirez was in San Jose, California, in May for the induction.

Filipino martial arts are concerned with practical fighting skills and how to fend off attackers. The style covers all distances in which combat could happen: long-range kicking, middle-range boxing and elbowing, and short-range grabbing and poking. It's a pragmatic art form that doesn't focus on complicated moves.

At a Monday night class in Bergenfield this month, students learned self-defense using sticks. They could mimic those moves with a flashlight to thwart an attack, Ramirez told the class. Students stayed grounded on their feet while pivoting.

Ridgewood resident Grace Balajadia, 37, joined the Kali Academy to learn self-defense as well as her cultural roots. She takes classes with her 10-year-old daughter, Isabel, and 8-year-old son, Manny. The children are Filipino and Korean American.

"I wanted my children to be proud of who they are," she said.

There are 137,000 Filipino Americans in New Jersey, according to a 2019 report by the advocacy group Jersey Promise. Bergenfield is one of the centers of the community, known as Bergen County’s Little Manila for the Filipino businesses and eateries along Washington Avenue.

People travel from around the country to Bergen County to learn about kali, Ramirez said. There are few instructors of the Filipino art, he added, noting that half his business involves teaching others to be professional trainers. (His Norwood studio is at 55 Walnut St.)

He and one of his teachers, Tuhon Apolo Ladra, who is the founder of the World Kali Association, spread the art form to other teachers who will pass on those skills to a new generation. It was Ladra who developed a curriculum for Filipino martial arts students.

"My intention is to be an ambassador to bring awareness of Filipino martial arts," Ramirez said.

Mary Chao ? ? ? covers the Asian community and real estate for NorthJersey.com. To get unlimited access to the latest news out of North Jersey, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

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