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     Photos taken from Jenny Sumalpong's (left) and Jabee Detablan's (right) Facebook page

    MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Donations poured in for Baby Aki after a heartwarming photo of his father, Antonio Detablan, selling homemade banana cakes on the streets of Calamba, Laguna went viral online. 

    Detablan's one-year-old son was diagnosed last November 2018 with biliary atresia, a rare infantile disease of the liver and bile ducts. 

    Hoping to help his son, Detablan started selling homemade banana cakes at P120 each to afford Baby Aki's estimated P1.6 million liver transplant.  (READ: VIRAL: Father sells banana cake for son's liver transplant)

    Two months after the photo went viral, they were able to get more than enough donations to fund Baby Aki's medical operation.

    Aside from numerous donations from generous people online, the family is thankful for the aid given by President Rodrigo Duterte, Senator-elect Bong Go, Senator Nancy Binay, an anonymous benefactor, and broadcast journalist Jessica Soho.

    Received donations have been used for the operation package, air fare, transportation, lodging, and other supplies.

    The family has been in India since May 20, where Baby Aki is confined at a private room in Apollo Hospital for his liver transplant.

    Still not cleared

    Despite having arrived in May, Baby Aki has yet to be cleared by laboratory tests to undergo the operation.

    Jabee Detablan, Baby Aki's mother, will be donating her liver for her son.

    However, the Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) testing used to determine the compatibility of an organ transfer showed a mismatch between Jabee as the transplant donor and her son as the recepient. 

    Because of this, Baby Aki is currently taking medication via Intravenous (IV) therapy to be cleared for transplant.

    “May mismatching po kasi kami ni Aki sa aming HLA na need po muna nila ma-clear para maiwasan ang rejection upon post-transplant and para tanggapin po ni Aki ang atay ko nang 100%,” Jabee said in an interview with Rappler.

    (There is a mismatch between me and Aki according to the HLA testing done which needs to be cleared first to avoid rejection post-transplant and for Aki’s body to accept my liver with a 100% success rate.)

    Before leaving for India, Jabee recounted how they expected her husband to be the transplant donor. But things turned out differently.

    “Bago kami umalis ng Pilipinas ay kompleto na na ang laboratory tests, ultrasound, pati turok na needed tapos kampante na talaga ako before na siya na kasi umokey na iyong doctor na talagang siya na tapos pagdating namin dito after two days ayon nalaman namin na ‘di pla sya pwede maging donor ni Aki kasi marami ‘yong microveins ng atay niya na kapag pinilit namin na siya mag-donate magkakatendency na i-reject  ang atay niya kasi ang daming ugat,” she added.

    (Before we left the Philippines, we had completed the laboratory tests, ultrasound, and injections needed and I was confident already because the doctor said that he was good to go but after two days in India, we figured out he couldn’t be Aki’s transplant donor because his liver had too many microveins, which deemed the potential transplant risky for Aki’s body.) 

    Despite the challenges, Aki’s parents remain hopeful that their son’s health will eventually get better. 

    Love endures

    From selling bags, perfumes, shell curtains to their famous banana cakes, there’s nothing that the Detablan family won’t do for their son. 

    “Siympre ‘yong pagmamahal namin sa kanya na gagawin po namin ang lahat sa abot ng aming makakaya para po siya maipagamot. Kahit po sa anong paraan, basta po makaligtas lamang siya. Lagi-lagi ko din po ipapaalala sa kanya na magpakababang-loob po sa kahit na sinong tao na aming makasalubong… at sa lahat po siyempre to serve Lord God kapag malaki na po siya,” she said.

    (Of course, we love him so much that we would do anything to cure him. We'll do whatever it takes, as long as he's safe. I will always remind him to be humble to everyone we meet… and most of all, I would remind him to serve Lord God when he grows up.)

    The family is thankful for the help and support that they have received from generous donors. 

    Moreover, Baby Aki's parents continue to seek help for their son's post-transplant requirements, such as his medication and weekly check-ups.

    Those who wish to help the family may donate any amount to Aquirro Jazz Detablan, BDO Savings Account No. 005910516001. – Rappler.com 

     

    Stanley Guevarra is a Rappler intern and an incoming AB Literature major at Ateneo de Manila University.


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    When Pride month rolls every June, the LGBTQ+ community and our allies gear up to celebrate our identity and humanity while preparing to protest against discrimination and systemic oppression. It’s a season when LGBTQ+ issues take center stage, when every gay anthem becomes a protest song, and when every rainbow becomes a political statement. 

    But what happens afterwards when the glitter, feathers, and confetti are swept away?

    LGBTQ+ Filipinos still have to face the harsh realities of their everyday lives. Discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression is still rampant in workplaces, schools, and public venues. One long-proposed measure to protect the LGBTQ+ community, the SOGIE (Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity or Expression) equality bill, was not passed during the 17th Congress. (READ: [OPINION] Life without bullies? Why Senate must pass anti-discrimination bill)

    Worse yet are the continuing acts of violence against our community, especially those working on the frontlines to defend LGBTQ+ rights. (READ: [OPINION] Someday they will understand why we hold each other's hands)

    On April 23, 2019, 25-year-old Rica Reyes, leader of an LGBTQ+ group in Babag, Cebu City, was found dead in a ravine. Another LGBTQ+ activist and human rights advocate, Ryan Hubilla, 22, was gunned down in Sorsogon this year. He died on June 15, right in the middle of Pride Month. (READ: IN PHOTOS: LGBTQ+ community, allies hold Pride parade in Bacolod City)

    Now that Pride Month is coming to an end, we need to focus on the follow-through of what we chant about and march for in our protests. Now, more than ever, we must continue to spark discourse on gender and sexual orientation. (READ: How gay seafarer Dyosa Makinista proved she's 'queen of the seas')

    Whether you identify as LGBTQ+ or as an ally, you have more than enough options to keep fighting for equality and acceptance. 

    Here are my 5 suggestions to make every month Pride Month:

    1. Have conversations with and about LGBTQ+ people and issues. Cliché as it may seem, it can be as simple as listening and talking to each other about things that matter. Conversations are an easy way to raise awareness levels even when the media spotlight and public attention aren’t focused on LGBTQ+ issues. 

    1. Let’s advocate for LGBTQ+ policies. Our oppression is systemic. These systems control our lives and rob us of our rights, freedoms, and dignity. Our newly-elected government officials will soon take office. Let’s make sure that they hear our demands for the national SOGIE Equality Bill and let’s fight for LGBTQ+ policies at the local level as well. (READ: 3 ways companies can promote SOGIE Equality bill in the workplace)

    1. Attend or host events that are LGBTQ+ inclusive. Pride events can and do happen all the time, just as any event can also include people of any SOGIE. You can support films, art, music, talks, and other work by LGBTQ+ Filipinos. If you organize events yourself, why not consider featuring LGBTQ+ artists, performers, and speakers? Let’s celebrate, and celebrate with Pride. 

    1. Join organizations that share your vision and aspirations. Connect with fellow advocates within your community in efforts to discuss, educate, and campaign for the rights of the LGBTQ+ Filipinos. Pride started off as a riot and a campaign for political advancement. Let’s build on the work of past LGBTQ+ activists and let’s continue to advocate for equality together. (READ: Beyond Pride march, advocates urge LGBTQ+ community to #ResistTogether)

    1. Continue supporting LGBTQ+ business owners, writers, and artists. Systemic discrimination can limit the economic opportunities of many members of the LGBTQ+ community. When money is there to talk, make sure you put your money in good hands. Let’s support LGBTQ+ businesses, works, and events so that the community not only survives, but thrives. (READ: Meet the 'kagaywads: How Tondo's LGBT leaders find acceptance)

    We still have a long way to go in fighting for acceptance. One month of Pride is not enough when the LGBTQ+ community still experiences violence and discrimination all year round.

    Pride doesn’t have to end in June. Let’s work together to make every month Pride Month for everyone. – Rappler.com

    Floyd Scott Tioganco is a human rights activist and a member of DAKILA - Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism.

    This piece is part of a series of articles by youth leaders of #WeTheFuturePH, a movement of young Filipinos standing up for human rights and democracy. It seeks to advocate for the youth’s vision and concerns towards a rights-based governance agenda in the 2019 elections and beyond.


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    PRIDE. This year's Pride March at the Marikina Sports Center gathers 52,000 attendees beating last year's 25,000-strong crowd record on Saturday, June 29. Photo by Ralf Rivas/Rappler

    MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Beating its record in 2018, this year's Metro Manila Pride March continued its streak as the largest and oldest Pride demonstration in Southeast Asia.

    The 2019 Metro Manila Pride March at the Marikina Sports Center recorded 70,000 attendees on Saturday, June 29, the organizers said. This was almost thrice its number of participants in 2018. 

    Last year, Metro Manila Pride broke records as the oldest and biggest Pride demonstration in Southeast Asia because of its 25,000-strong crowd.

    Anchored on the theme #ResistTogether, this year's celebration of Pride aims to highlight the rootedness of Pride in protest, particularly the Stonewall riots of June 1969.  Those riots which broke out 50 years ago were sparked by repeated police raids on the Stonewall Inn – a well-known gay bar in New York's Greenwich Village.

    The Pride march also seeks to amplify the clamor against the oppression and social injustices faced not only by the LGBTQ+ community but also other marginalized sectors at large. (READ: [OPINION] Pride is coming to an end, now what?)

    Established in 1994, Metro Manila Pride has provided avenues for allies and members of the LGBTQ+ community to celebrate their identities while staging protests on social issues. (READ: Beyond Pride march, advocates urge LGBTQ+ community to #ResistTogether)

    Rappler is one of the official media partners of Metro Manila Pride. – Rappler.com


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    PRIDE 2019. John Lester Molina (left) and Angelous Tuscano (right), members of the Pinoy Deaf Rainbow, are happy to be celebrating Pride with all kinds of people. Photo by Stanley Guevarra/Rappler

    MANILA, Philippines – Deaf members of the LGBTQ+ community marched to fight the "double discrimination" against them as they joined the thousands-strong Pride March on Saturday, June 29.

    "It's double discrimination for them – discrimination because of their SOGIE (sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression), and discrimination because of their hearing impairment," said Bayani Heneroso Jr, one of the sign language interpreters for this year's Pride event.

    "If you can imagine a transgender person being discriminated against – you cannot let them go to the bathroom of their choice – imagine a deaf person who's experiencing the same thing but has the communication barrier on top of that," he added. (READ: 'Tolerated, but not accepted': Filipino LGBTQ+ speak up vs discrimination)

    To promote inclusivity, Metro Manila Pride organizers made sure that persons with disabilities (PWDs) wouldn't miss out on anything. For the 4th consecutive year, organizes hired sign language interpreters to make sure that everyone enjoys the event. (READ: WATCH: Meet the sign language interpreters of Metro Manila Pride 2018)

    "I'm so thankful to Pride Manila that they're so open to diversity and open to access. They've been so accommodating to us interpreters by giving us all the lyrics to the music. They are preparing and making sure that all the performers are aware that we have interpreters here, and they've just been so great to us," Heneroso said.

    Asked how they felt about being at this year's Pride March, members of the deaf LGBTQ+ community showed their huge smiles.

    "I want the LGBTQ+ community to unite with the deaf community. I also want people to know that learning sign language will make a happier world," typed John Lester Molina from Pinoy Deaf Rainbow.  

    "I'm happy to be in Metro Manila Pride for the first time," typed Angelous Tuscano, also from Pinoy Deaf Rainbow.

    Heneroso meanwhile hopes that things will get better for the deaf community now that Republic Act No. 11106, or the Filipino Sign Language (FSL) Act, is in place. Thee law recognizes FSL as the official sign language to be used by institutions. –Rappler.com

    Stanley Guevarra is a Rappler intern and an incoming AB Literature major at Ateneo de Manila University.


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    DESPITE RAIN. Participants of the 2019 Metro Manila Pride March wave their rainbow flags up high despite rain at the Marikina Sports Center on June 29, 2019. Photo by Mau Victa/Rappler

    MANILA, Philippines – Not even the weather can rain on Pride's parade.

    Organizers said 70,000 participants– almost triple the 2018 turnout despite rains – flocked to this year's Metro Manila Pride March and Festival to #ResistTogether, making it the biggest Pride demonstration in the country to date.

    The event on Saturday, June 29, offered educational discussions, solidarity speeches, and performances by bands and spoken word artists – all in an effort to break barriers and resist injustices. 

    Among the LGBTQ+ struggles tackled in the event was mental health. In a speech, Roy Dahildahil of the Mental Health Cluster raised the common misconception that non-heterosexuality is a mental disorder. Dahildahil also said the rampant discrimination against the LGBTQ+ makes them "vulnerable to mental illness."

    The fight is yet to be won, especially with the SOGIE Equality Bill going back to square one in the 18th Congress. Marikina Mayor Marcelino Teodoro however announced at the festival that he decided to sign the Anti-Discrimination Ordinance of 2019, his way of supporting the LGBTQ+ community.

    Senator Risa Hontiveros, author of the bill and one of the attendees of this year's Pride, told Rappler in an interview that she remains hopeful the bill will make it through the 18th Congress. 

    Beyond the struggles of the LGBTQ+ community, Pride also means to stand with other marginalized communities in their fight for human rights. 

    "At Pride, we come together to resist oppression and social injustice in all its forms, and through it, push for cultural and legislative change," said Metro Manila Pride overall co-coordinator Nicky Castillo.

    This year's theme #ResistTogether – a round-up of the Metro Manila Pride's "together" campaign since 2017 – seeks to remind Filipinos that Pride is a protest against gender-related violence and discrimination.

    No prejudice, just pride

    Pride, after all, is about creating a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community where they can express themselves however they want without having to deal with rude stares from others.

    And what is the Pride parade without taking fashion to the next level? 

    Despite the weather, participants put on their most colorful and creative outfits and waved their rainbow flags – in stark contrast to the gray skies.

    But rainbow antics aside, it's become anticipated in every Pride that some will go the extra mile – for style.

    Photo by Lisa Marie David/Rappler

    Photo by Lisa Marie David/Rappler

    Photo by Ponch Escobar

    During the pre-march, participants were also dancing and performing splits – inspite of the wet grounds – to hits from Ariana Grande, Beyonce, and Blackpink.

    The rain never bothered them anyway.

    Onward march

    Beyond rainbow outfits, Metro Manila Pride reminds everyone that Pride does not end in June, said Metro Manila Pride overall co-coordinator Loreen Ordoño.

    "Pride doesn't end at the Pride March. It continues as we go back to our homes, our schools, workplaces, and communities," said Ordoño.

    With only less than a hundred attendees in 1994, Metro Manila Pride has seen exponential growth notably since last year. It is the oldest – and still the biggest – Pride March in Southeast Asia.

    This goes to show that the Filipinos are marching onward, and they're not stopping any time soon. – Rappler.com


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    RESIST TOGETHER. Members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community march along the streets of Marikina City on June 29, 2019, to amplify their calls for respect and equality. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

    MANILA, Philippines – Despite rains, the Marikina City Sports Center was filled with colors on Saturday, March 29, as thousands of members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community marched to protest oppression and discrimination.

    With the theme #ResistTogether, the Metro Manila Pride March highlights Pride as a protest, rooted in the 1969 Stonewall riots – a series of demonstrations against a police crackdown on a well-known gay bar in New York City.

    According to the event organizer, the 2019 Metro Manila Pride March recorded 70,000 attendees– almost thrice the number of participants in 2018.

    "Now is the time to use our voices in the fight for human rights – not just for our LGBTQIA+ community, but for all minorities that face injustice and oppression," Metro Manila Pride said in a Facebook post. (READ: 'Tolerated, but not accepted': Filipino LGBTQ+ speak up vs discrimination)

    Here are the highlights of this year's event:

    PRIDE IS A PROTEST. Progressive organizations join the 2019 Pride March with calls concerning various social issues. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

    SAFE SPACE. A participant displays a Pride flag with words 'We are home now' during the Metro Manila Pride March at the Marikina Sports Center on Saturday, June 29. Photo by Rob Reyes/Rappler

    FREE TO LOVE. A couple express their love for each other during the 2019 Metro Manila Pride March at the Marikina Sports Center on Saturday, June 29. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

    STAR AT PRIDE. Actress Iza calzado joins the thousands of Metro Manila Pride March participants. Photo by Nomi Imbang/Rappler

    COLORFUL BOND. An LGBTQ+ group with colorful costumes march along with the thousands of other participants at the 2019 Metro Manila Pride March. Photo by Rob Reyes/Rappler

    LOUD AND PROUD. A participant waves a giant Pride flag while standing at the top of one of the floats during the 2019 Metro Manila Pride March. Photo by Rob Reyes/Rappler

    Here are some other photos:

    Photo by Nomi Imbang/Rappler

    Photo by Lisa Marie David/Rappler

    Photo by Mau Victa/Rappler

    Photo by Rob Reyes/Rappler

    Photo by Lisa Marie David/Rappler

    Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

    Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

    Photo by Lisa Marie David/Rappler

    Photo by Mau Victa/Rappler

    Established in 1994, Metro Manila Pride has provided avenues for allies and members of the LGBTQ+ community to celebrate their identities and fight for social issues. – Rappler.com


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    FATHER'S LOVE. Despite his medical condition, PBA legend Samboy Lim accompanies his daughter during the College of Science graduation at the University of the Philippines Diliman on June 29, 2019. Photo by Elijah Allen Macaspac/Rappler

    MANILA, Philippines – The daughter of the basketball legend dubbed "The Skywalker" graduated summa cum laude from the University of the Philippines Diliman – a milestone made all the more special as her father, now wheelchair-bound, was able to make it to the commencement rites.

    Jamie Christine Lim, 22, daughter of Philippine Basketball Association icon Samboy Lim and former Pag-IBIG Fund chief Darlene Berberabe, obtained a general weighted average of 1.073 for her Bachelor of Science in Mathematics degree.

    She stood as the College of Science valedictorian and also received the Joker Arroyo Award for Outstanding BS Graduate in Mathematics.

    "My parents always taught me to keep my eye on the ball, to stay focused, disciplined, and to show effort," Jamie said in her valedictory address.

    It was their home "filled with love, support, and kindness," added Jamie, that pushed her to fight for her dreams.

    Sharing dad's love for sports

    Jamie's graduation was the first event that Samboy attended since he suffered cardiac arrest in November 2014. He can no longer see, speak, or move, but can hear.

    "Sobrang mahal na mahal ni Samboy si Jamie. Si Jamie naman sobrang makapamilya 'yan. Patuloy parin ang respeto ni Jamie sa tatay niya," said Berberabe.

    (Samboy loves Jamie very much. Jamie is also a family-oriented person. She's respectful of her father.)

    It's like father, like daughter, too, when it comes to sports. Jamie holds a black belt in karate and has won a number of karate bouts since she was 6.

    Every now and then, she would update her father about NBA games and tell stories about her karate competitions.

    In her valedictory speech, Jamie shared that "discipline, grit, focus, and excellence" – values she honed in her karate practice – guided her journey in the state university.

    Value of science

    Jamie also reminded her fellow graduates to give back to the nation by "maintaining utmost integrity in [their] work" and by actively engaging with the government.

    "Let us remind our leaders of how science, research, and technological innovations are critical to improving our programs on health, security, and quality of life," she said. (READ: UPLB graduate wants to help farmers like his grandfather)

    Jamie also emphasized the importance of practicing empathy in science-based work.

    "Let us understand the issues, participate in community activities, volunteer for our advocacies," she said.

    “We owe it to the discipline of science to maintain the highest standards of objectivity, honesty, and accountability." – Rappler.com

    Elijah Allen Macaspac is a Rappler intern. He is pursuing a journalism degree at the University of the Philippines Diliman.


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    MANILA, Philippines – Marikina City Mayor Marcelino Teodoro announced the passage of the city's anti-discrimination ordinance during the 2019 Metro Manila Pride March on Saturday, June 29.

    "Bilang pagpapakita ng aming suporta, sa araw na ito ay aking pipirmahan at ipapatupad ang anti-discrimination ordinance na nagbibigay sa lahat ng pantay at parehong karapatan sa trabaho, edukasyon, tirahan, at mga serbisyo ng pamahalaan," Teodoro said during the event held in Marikina City.

    (In a show of support [for the LGBTQ+ community], today I will sign and enforce the anti-discrimination ordinance that will give everyone equal rights for employment, education, housing, and other government services.)

    Organizers of Saturday's event put the number of attendees at a record-breaking 70,000. Members of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies brought colorful rainbow flags and balloons, brightening the otherwise gloomy, rainy day.

    With the theme #ResistTogether, the event highlighted Pride as a protest, rooted in the 1969 Stonewall riots – a series of demonstrations against a police crackdown on a well-known gay bar in New York City. (IN PHOTOS: #ResistTogether at 2019 Metro Manila Pride March)

    Teodoro has been very vocal in his support for the LGBTQ+ community since Marikina City hosted its own Pride event in 2017.

    "We want to be known as an inclusive community. We can only do that by recognizing everybody as all equal to each other," said the mayor.

    The anti-discrimination ordinance or Marikina City Ordinance No. 065 was passed to promote social justice and to provide equal rights and protection, especially for the LGBTQ+ community.

    Under the ordinance, violators may be penalized with imprisonment of 60 days to one year and/or a fine ranging from P1,000 to P5,000.

    The ordinance also prescribes the creation of an Anti-Discrimination Council which will be composed of the mayor, key city officials, and members of the LGBTQ+ community.

    SYMBOLIC. Marikina's Cityhood Park monument lights up with rainbow colors for Pride Month 2019. Photo by MMPride

    On June 24, Marikina City also lit up its Cityhood Park monument in colors of the rainbow as a show of solidarity for the LGBTQ+ community during Pride Month.

    On its official website, the city issued a manifesto of support, recognizing the valuable contributions of the LGBTQ+ community.

    Established in 1994, the annual Metro Manila Pride March was first held at the Rizal Park and hosted by the city of Manila until 2017 when Marikina took over.

    Manila Mayor Isko Moreno has committed to hosting the event again by 2020. (READ: Isko Moreno: Expect Manila Pride March and Festival 2020– with reports from Nomi Imbang/Rappler.com 


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    LGBTQ+ ALLY. Senator Risa Hontiveros joins the 70,000-strong crowd at the 2019 Metro Manila Pride March at the Marikina Sports Center on June 29, 2019. Photo from Hontiveros' office

    MANILA, Philippines – Senator Risa Hontiveros marched with thousands of members and allies of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) community at the 2019 Metro Manila Pride March on Saturday, June 29.

    A known champion of the LGBTQ+ community, Hontiveros said she would map out the composition of the 18th Congress, both the Senate and the House of Representatives, to determine who would support her in pushing for the sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression (SOGIE) equality bill.

    "Balang araw, mabibigo ang diskriminasyon and Pride ang magwawagi (Someday, discrimination will fail and Pride will win)," Hontiveros told Rappler.

    For so long, the LGBTQ+ community in the Philippines has lobbied for the enactment of an anti-discrimination bill. The legislation can be traced back to 1995 when congressman Rey Calalay filed a bill proposing to recognize the "third sex" as a sector.

    Since then, various lawmakers have followed suit. Two decades later, however, a national law protecting the LGBTQ+ remains elusive. (READ: [OPINION] Life without bullies? Why Senate must pass anti-discrimination bill)

    In a statement sent to the media, Hontiveros said: "We have gained new allies, we have gathered momentum, we are inspired more than ever to fight and hope. There is a rainbow wave coming."

    Safe space for all

    On the sidelines of the event at the Marikina Sports Center, Hontiveros thanked the LGBTQ+ community for welcoming her and for creating a safe space for all. (READ: Beyond Pride march, advocates urge LGBTQ+ community to #ResistTogether)

    In an interview with Rappler, the senator said, "Kayo na LGBTQ+ community ang lilikha ng safe space para sa ating lahat, safe space na hindi lang physical space pero social space na malaya sa discrimination, sa stigma, sa pambabastos."

    (The LGBTQ+ community will be the one who would create a safe space for everyone, not only a physical space but also a social space free of discrimination, stigma, and disrespect.)

    Hontiveros also gave "free mom hugs" to those who marched on Saturday. (READ: IN PHOTOS: #ResistTogether at 2019 Metro Manila Pride March)

    'FREE MOM HUGS.' Senator Risa Hontiveros, a known champion of the LGBTQ+ community, gives free hugs to attendees of the 2019 Metro Manila Pride March. Photo from Hontiveros' office

    With the theme #ResistTogether, the 2019 Metro Manila Pride March highlighted Pride as a protest, rooted in the 1969 Stonewall riots – a series of demonstrations against a police crackdown on a well-known gay bar in New York City.

    Despite the rain, organizers said there were around 70,000 attendees, maintaining the event's record as the oldest and largest Pride demonstration in Southeast Asia. This was almost thrice its number of participants in 2018. – Rappler.com


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    MANILA, Philippines – After drawing flak from some members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transexual, and queer (LGBTQ+) community, Metro Manila Pride issued a statement on Monday, July 1, apologizing for those who were not able to enter the Marikina Sports Center for Pride March 2019

    In a statement posted on Facebook, Metro Manila Pride said: "Humihingi kami ng taos pusong paumanhin at pag-unawa – lalo na sa mga komunidad, partners, grupo, at inbidwal na hindi makalabas para mag-martsa. (We ask for your forgiveness and understanding – especially the communities, partners, groups, and individuals who were not able to march.) We hope you extend your understanding of the situation, in keeping with the safety and security of everyone."

    Frustrated members of the LGBTQ+ community criticized Metro Manila Pride for its "unpreparedness" and failure to accommodate others who waited for hours outside the gate of Marikina Sports Center. (READ: IN PHOTOS: #ResistTogether at 2019 Metro Manila Pride March)

     

    At 12 noon Saturday, June 29, there were already long queues at the entrance of the venue. Thousands were still waiting outside even after the gate opened at 2 pm. 

    "Dahil ang Pride ay isang safe space, ang safety at security ng komunidad natin ang mangingibabaw (Because Pride is a safe space, the safety and security of our community is the top priority),the statement on Monday read.

    "This wasn't the easiest of Pride Marches. The weather wasn't on our side. Despite contingencies we had planned, we had to do our best to make sure that everyone was able to march. Many changes had to be made, both in days prior, with the coordination of our venue partner and agencies, and on the spot, to accommodate everything as much as we can," it added.

    'Pride goes beyond march' 

    Metro Manila Pride also said in its statement that "Pride is bigger than just a one-day event." It encouraged every member of the LGBTQ+ community to fight oppression and equality. 

    "As big as we are 77,00-strong, this struggle against oppression – a struggle that has been fought by so many activists that came before us, whose work is the sole reason why we are gathered here today – is so much bigger than us. It is a challenge we all must face, together," it added. (READ: Beyond Pride march, advocates urge LGBTQ+ community to #ResistTogether)

    For so long, the LGBTQ+ community in the Philippines has lobbied for the enactment of an anti-discrimination bill. The legislation can be traced back to 1995 when congressman Rey Calalay filed a bill proposing to recognize the "third sex" as a sector.

    Since then, various lawmakers have followed suit. Two decades later, however, a national law protecting the LGBTQ+ remains elusive. (READ: [OPINION] Life without bullies? Why Senate must pass anti-discrimination bill)

    Senator Risa Hontiveros, a known champion of the community, also joined the thousands of members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community at the Pride event.

    Hontiveros said she would map out the composition of the 18th Congress – both the Senate and the House of Representatives – to determine who would support her in pushing for the sexual orientation and gender identity and expression (SOGIE) equality bill. (READ: 'Rainbow wave coming': Hontiveros hopeful SOGIE bill will pass 18th Congress)

    "Balang araw, mabibigo ang diskriminasyon and Pride ang magwawagi (Someday, discrimination will fail and Pride will win)," Hontiveros told Rappler.

    Established in 1994, Metro Manila Pride has provided avenues for allies and members of the LGBTQ+ community to celebrate their identities while staging protests on social issues.

    Despite the rain, organizers said there were around 70,000 attendees on Saturday, maintaining the event's record as the oldest and largest Pride demonstration in Southeast Asia. This was almost thrice its number of participants in 2018. – Rappler.com


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    FIGHT CONTINUES. Activists from the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice join the inaugural protest to continue fight for a coal-free Negros at the Provincial Capitol in Bacolod City on Saturday, June 29. Photo by Jorge Gamboa

    BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – Negros Occidental remains coal-free. 

    On Saturday, June 29, the inauguration protest turned into a time of celebration after governor-elect Eugenio Jose "Bong" Lacson heeded the calls made by Negros youth-led and other environmental advocates to make a coal-free Negros.

    An estimated 1,000 anti-coal protesters from the youth, various sectors, municipalities, environmental groups rallied together in front of the Capitol Lagoon, across from where the inauguration and oathtaking of newly elected provincial officials took place.

    RALLY. Anti-coal protesters, mostly youth, join the inauguration protest against a coal-fired power plant at the Provincial Park in Bacolod City on Saturday, June 29. Photo by Jean Paul Amit.

    The protest was initially organized as a response to Lacson’s statement on Wednesday, June 19, that he would not stand in the way of San Miguel Corporation (SMC)  Global Power Holdings Corporation’s proposal to develop a 300-megawatt coal-fired power plant in San Carlos City if city officials allow it to happen. Lacson later retracted it in a press conference last June 26

    Environmental activists and advocates expressed their opinions on the matter.  Veteran anti-coal activist Dr. Romana de los Reyes expressed that she had been fighting for a coal-free Negros for 22 years now.

    Ang gusto ko kay Governor isa lang ka sabat- yes sya or no sa coal? (I only want 1 answer from the Governor- yes or no to coal)," De los Reyes said. 

    This was echoed by youth activist Kyle Anne Valderrama Villariza.

    “I still want to have my dreams and I still want to have my future, and if I have that coal fired power plant [on] my island, [I] and the rest of the youth here won’t stand a chance. I hope the Governor-elect knows that and I hope that transcends all politics there is," Villariza expressed. 

    Reassuring Negrosanons 

    A few hours before Lacson’s inauguration, he released a statement clarifying that he would not repeal Executive Order (EO) 19-08 which declares Negros Occidental as a source of clean and renewable energy and a coal-free province. (READ: The youth behind coal-free Negros Occidental)

    He stated his plans to put all talks of the establishment of SMC’s proposed coal plant on hold, as well as to put together a technical working group to further the EO. 

    “As soon as I take office, we will ensure to hit the ground running by establishing a technical working group that shall forward the executive order. The technical working group shall facilitate the creation of the Provincial Renewable Energy Council which shall be the lead agency for all renewable energy programs of the province,” Lacson said in a statement. 

    He also assured Negrosanons that he will work with the office of the vice governor and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan in formulating measures to hasten the enactment of the Renewable Energy Ordinance.

    “As for the issue of the establishment of a coal-fired power plant, we would put all the related discussions on hold and would redirect the focus on maximizing the renewable energy sources that we have in the province,” Lacson added. 

    Lacson served 3 consecutive terms as mayor of San Carlos City from 2001 to 2010 before serving as the vice governor under the administration of then governor Alfredo Marañon Jr.  

    ASSURANCE. Jonathan Lobaton, chief of staff of governor Bong Lacson, briefly joins the rally to reassure the crowd that their concerns will be brought to the attention of the governor. Photo by Jorge Gamboa

    Jonathan Lobaton, chief of staff of the governor reiterated Lacson’s sentiments and reassured the youth climate advocates that their concerns will be brought to the attention of the governor.  

    “One thing is for sure, we are willing to sit down with you. In fact, he [Lacson] had said that renewable energy has a place in this province,” Lobaton said 

    Youth environmentalist Coleen Awit thanked Lacson in behalf of the youth, for supporting the vision and taking an active stand in the progress of renewable energy in the province.

    “Let us celebrate the start of something beautiful— Negrosanons working together towards sustainable development,” Awit said in a statement made through Coal-Free Negros.

    “And in the coming days, let us carry on the work,” she added.

    This is not the first time that the youth environmental advocates have proven that they can make a collective difference in their province.

    In a strike against coal last March 6, the Negrosanon youth gathered in a “Youth strike for Negros,” a silent protest participated by hundreds of youth leaders that prompted former governor Marañon to declare Negros Occidental coal-free. (READ: Governor declares Negros Occidental coal-free

    Marañon then issued the EO the following day that prohibited the entry of coal-fired power plants in the province.  – Rappler.com 

    Jorge Gamboa is a photojournalist and Bacolod mover. 


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    'BE TRANSFORMED'. Members of Jesus is our Shield church holds a protest against Metro Manila Pride March outside Marikina Sports Center on June 30, 2019. Photo by Sophia Sibal/Rappler

    MANILA, Philippines – As members and allies of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transexual, and queer community gathered at the Marikina Sports Center  for Metro Manila Pride March 2019 on Saturday, June 29, two religious groups shared their views about the  community. 

    Members of Christian group Jesus is Our Shield stood outside the venue of the Pride celebration, seeking to  convince members of the LGBTQ+ community to "transform" themselves and return to God. They held signs with messages of how the "Word of God" could help change their sexuality.

    The group also handed out brochures to passersby, reminding them that God hates the sin but loves the sinner. 

    HANDOUTS. Pamphlets handed out by protesters outside the Marikina Sports Center during Metro Manila Pride March 2019. Photo by Sophia Sibal/ Rappler

     

    "We want to witness Christ because we know that they need Christ. We want to describe what Christ will do to them, love them, and inform them that there is somebody who love[s] them so much," said a representative of the group on the sidelines of Pride march. 

    Bearing placards with biblical verses supposedly condemning homosexuality, the group said they were there to reach out and help members of the LGBTQ+ community "go to heaven."

    Religion for equality

     

    The Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) Marikina, however, does not share the sentiment of the other group.

    MCC, a global religious group that performed the first same-sex marriage in the United States, has been on the forefront of the struggle toward marriage equality across the globe.  (READ: A Christian church embraces the LGBT community )

    'GOD IS ON YOUR SIDE'. Members of the Metropolitan Community Church bearing placards in support of the LGBTQ+ community during the Metro manila Pride March 2019. Photo by Russel Patina/Rappler

    MMC was also a part of the first wave of LGBTQ+ advocates who organized the first Pride March in the Philippines in 1994. (READ: Meet Father Richard Mickley of historic PH Pride March of 1994)

    According to Pastor Michael Jason Masaganda, MCC Marikina is known internationally as the first Christian church to open its doors to the LGBTQ+ community.

    "If things don't do well, there's a church for them. There's a God who watches over us and [someone] they can turn to," Masaganda said. 

    Clapback

    During the march itself, many members of the LGBTQ+ community reached out to the protesters. 

    YouTube content creator Gigi Esguerra, a transgender woman, was caught on video handing flowers as peace offerings to an unidentified anti-LGBTQ+ Christian group.

    On Twitter, this video has been liked over 50,000 times and retweeted over 14,000 times as of this posting. 

     

    The protesters, however, rejected the offering. One of them told her, "Kahit anong gawin mo, lalaki ka pa rin (Whatever you do, you are still a man)."

    In an online interview, Esguerra said: "They also shared a Bible verse, I think it was Genesis 1:27, where she mentioned that God made man and woman for each other and completely distorted its meaning. The other guy told me that I was born here in this world so we can repent."

    Esguerra also said that while they did not threaten her with physical violence, they threw transphobic insults at her.

    Another march participant was seen in a video calling out the protesters for using the Bible as an excuse to hate.

     

    Twitter user Mary Faye Murphy said: "Open to see how I snapped at these 'Christians' spreading hate at Pride march. I couldn't let them do that and ruin this special day for the LGBTQ+. Spread love, never hate. Love is love" – with reports from Macel Pagdanganan/Rappler.com 


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    Hong Lim Park is the only designated venue for Singaporeans to protest, but for one day in June for the past 11 years, it turns into a field of pink.

    Pink Dot SG is a non-profit movement started by a group of individuals who believes that everyone deserves the freedom to love. Why pink? Pink is the color of the Singapore National Registration Identity Card, but it is also the color when you mix red and white – the shades of the Singaporean flag.

    Pink Dot stands for an open, inclusive society within our Red Dot – a popular nickname for Singapore – where sexual orientation represents a feature, not a barrier. Beyond the narrative, the movement seeks to urge the Singaporean government to repeal S377A, which criminalizes sex between consenting adult men.

    Pink Dot did not resonate with me at the start. Action, though, does speak louder than words, and Pink Dot has now seen more than a decade’s worth of activism, so I figured that they must be doing something right. So, I suspended all beliefs and decided to brave the crowds for the first time this year.

    My first impression was the volunteers’ genuine exuberance, raising their palms to invite high fives from attendees moving through the queue. Drag queens and muscle Marys were posing for pictures, and others were, well, just posing. Singaporean youths made up the majority. I felt like that cool uncle lending support to their niece or nephew when their parents didn’t approve. The energy was palpable and nothing like I have experienced before in Singapore.

    I stood still at one spot to make sense of this energy. Clearly everyone from the volunteers, organizers, and attendees wanted to be there, but there was more. This wasn’t just some pink-themed picnic or a 'peaceful' protest.

    I didn’t have to look very far. 

    Amid the crowds of revelers, I spotted a rather sullen-looking young teen holding up a sign that read, “I was called a she-male and faggot.”

    I honestly could not fathom the teen’s gender, but I was taken aback by how young they were. No more than 15? They were giving a video interview to the Pink Dot crew about their brush with discrimination in school. But the interview looked more like a desperate plea as their innocent, childlike voice competed with the thumping music and cheers of “Welcome to Pinkdot!”  

    No one was by their side. I think they were alone.

    PROTESTER. Seeing this young Pink Dot participant was heartbreaking for the author. Photo by James Leong

    I hope we get to hear their full story, because such courage doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It must come from a place of intense hurt and betrayal.

    I then bumped into an old friend recruiting singers at his booth. Our 20-year friendship is founded on our love for music and food, but I saw a new side to him that day. Just a month ago, in fact, I told him how unfulfilled he looked at his day job. Fast forward to Pink Dot, and I couldn’t help but notice how the event made him feel alive and happy. Our friendship reached a new level of awareness and understanding that evening.

    I think the power of Pink Dot is not in the solidarity it produces, but in its rejection. The stoic rejection by the church, conservatives, friends, families, and colleagues, and, yes, the authorities’ refusal to repeal S377A. Whether intended or not, this rejection has propelled Pink Dot to push for change, and it has also allowed for the stories of this young teen and many others to be told.

    Dr Brene Brown of Tedtalk fame defines connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.

    In this respect, rejection births connection. For just one day of the year, the LBGTQ+ community and their loved ones can be brave and vulnerable. They know that as scary as it is to tell their stories, there are hundreds of others out there at Hong Lim Park to make them feel less alone.

    But what happens after the music dies and the lights go out on Pink Dot? Where do people go then to reconnect in their day-to-day grind of living and discrimination?

    I don’t really know, but as long as the LBGTQ+ community faces rejection, more stories will surface and even more will come along the way to lend their support, even if it’s just during one day of the year. Perhaps the continued rejection will cause a rippling effect of support and kindness till there won’t actually be a need to have a Pink Dot anymore.

    I really get it now. Pink Dot isn’t just about repealing S377A. It is really about the persistent rejection, and the power of connection that comes from that rejection.

    Pink Dot is connection. – Rappler.com

    James Leong is a Singaporean and runs his own media consultancy and counselling practice at Listen Without Prejudice.

     

     


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    MANILA, Philippines– The country’s top center for marine sciences on Tuesday, July 2, urged the Philippine government to safeguard the exclusive rights of Filipinos to the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). (READ: Sovereignty vs sovereign rights: What do we have in West PH Sea?)

    Citing the economic, ecological, and food security of current and future Filipino generations, the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute (UP MSI)  urged the protection of the West Philippine Sea by ensuring the enforcement of the Filipinos’ exclusive access to the area.

    “Allowing foreign entities to occupy and exploit these waters would be tantamount to denying Filipino fisherfolks access to their own food and resources,” the UP MSI said in a statement. (READ: Duterte says he can't ban Chinese from fishing in PH waters)

    The UP MSI scientists stressed the importance of the West Philippine Sea, which comprises 40% of the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ),  to the nation’s food security in the face of a sharp decline in the Philippine fisheries industry.

    "Our exclusive economic rights also come with equal responsibility to protect, manage, and sustainably use the resources in our WPS EEZ – a responsibility enshrined in our constitution and national laws," it said.

    Citing reports of Chinese fishing vessels harvesting endangered giant clams and corals in the area, the UP MSI said such activities wreak havoc on the marine environment, and ultimately affect the food supply of many Filipinos. (READ: [ANALYSIS] Your fish is your future)

    “Harvesting of clams and corals, dead or alive, results in significant physical damages and ultimate demise of the habitats from where they were taken. These are the same habitats that serve as home and breeding grounds of most marine life, and source of food of many Filipinos,” said the scientists.

    UP MSI noted how the West Philippine Sea is not only rich in corals and giant clams but also  seaweed, seagrass, marine animals, and microorganisms. These have the potential to become sources of new drugs, medicines, and other biotechnological products.

    "Losing these habitats and ecosystems would mean losing many resources that could benefit future generations of Filipinos," they added.

    Warning against an  ecological disaster if the West Philippine Sea is not immediately protected, the UP MSI called on all parties to desist from engaging in any more activities that would damage the area’s ecosystem, and demanded the strict enforcement of all environmental laws already in place.

    Recognizing the sensitivity of the issue, the UP MSI scientists also urged the governments of the Philippines, China, and  members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to discuss the possible establishment of multilateral marine protected areas that hinge on the recognition of the West Philippine Sea as a shared heritage for the people of the region. 

    They also suggested the creation of a separate Department of Fisheries and Oceans mandated to study, utilize, manage, and protect the Philippines' oceans and seas, as well as investments in science and technology to help equip and empower local scientists.

    UP MSI scientists also said that everyone – including the national government and other academic and research institutions – has a role to play in protecting the West Philippine Sea. They said that even ordinary citizens can help educate people, improve the level of discourse with scientific facts and data, and stop misinformation and disinformation.

    "We call on the public to become more aware and be part of a movement for responsible stewardship not only for WPS but all the seas surrounding the country, and we hope that such involvement would not stop in share, likes and comments in social media,” it said. – Rappler.com

    Nicolas Czar Antonio is a Rappler intern and a Psychology student at the University of the Philippines Diliman. He tweets at @Nicolas_Czar.


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    MANILA, Philippines –  For 19-year-old science communicator Hillary Diane Andales, going to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to take up a course in Physics is a step closer to her dream of becoming an astrophysicist.

    Andales, a resident of Tacloban City, finished her secondary education at the Philippine Science High School - Eastern Visayas Campus in May 2018. 

    In 2017, she bested more than 11,000 students from 178 countries to bag the Breakthrough Junior Challenge, an annual global science video competition. 

    Her three-minute video explaining equivalence of reference frames, a part of general relativity, was touted the best out of 3,200 submissions that year. 

    In an interview with Rappler,  Andales said that the prize she earned from the 2017 global competition included a $250,000 scholarship. But since it still wasn’t enough to cover all costs for her to attend college, MIT offered her extra financial aid of around $83,000 to pay off the rest of the costs. 

    “With my scholarship prize and MIT's aid, I have all my tuition, student fees, insurance, food, dorm expenses, personal allowance, and travel allowance to the Philippines all taken care of for the entire 4-year program,” Andales said. 

    Aside from MIT, Andales was also accepted into 4 other prestigious universities in the US, namely Princeton, Stanford, Cornell, and SUNY Stony Brook. In the Philippines, she was offered scholarships in University of the Philippines-Diliman (Oblation Scholarship), Ateneo de Manila University (Merit Scholarship), and De La Salle University (Archer Achiever Scholarship). 

    “I’ve always dreamed about going to UP Diliman for BS Physics. But because of the $250,000 scholarship prize from the challenge, my plans suddenly changed. In order to maximize the scholarship, I decided to apply to the US for college,” Andales said.  

    CREATIVE EXPLAINER. A framegrab from Andales' winning video on reference frames and relativity. Courtesy Breakthrough Junior Challenge/YouTube

    Despite the difficulty in her choice, she said that one of the reasons she decided to go to MIT because she plans to get a doctorate in Physics.

    “For physics, MIT has the best and most rigorous training among all the schools in the US (if not the world). It has a reputation for being extremely rigorous. So I thought having an undergrad degree from MIT would prepare me well,” Andales explained.  

    Starting young 

    Her fascination for science started in her childhood years. 

    “I spent my childhood in rural Abuyog, Leyte. While growing up, I was surrounded by books and by parents who were really encouraging and supportive. So it was natural for me to be interested in things like science and math.”

    Her dad, who is a chemist and physics hobbyist, played a huge part in Andales’ love for physics. (READ: 8 of the leading Filipino scientists who make us proud)

    “My dad always talked to me about physics every single day. He still does it until now. He also coached me for math and science competitions in elementary. So physics was really a natural path for me,” she narrated. 

    She said that growing up, she had always admired Nobel Prize winner Marie Curie for her pioneering research on radioactivity and her perseverance in showing the male-dominated world of science that women are just as capable. (READ: 5 things to make PH a better place for scientists

    Communicating science

    Although she was accepted to MIT last March 2018 and was supposed to enter college that summer, she took a gap year to prepare herself by self-studying courses online and reading books on personal development and science. 

    But most of her time during the gap year was actually spent travelling to speaking engagements in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)-related events. 

    “Mainly, I saw how diverse people were even just in the Philippines. I also learned that I could really use my skills in science communication to impact many kinds of people,” Andales added. 

    In September 2018, Andales was also invited to speak at an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Scientific Forum in Vienna, Austria. 

    Lessons from a supertyphoon

    Coming from the province that was severely affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), Andales shared how her experience as a survivor changed her perspective. 

    “All of our windows broke. And then I saw something I’ve never seen before. Brown water of unknown origin charged into our single storey house at frightening speeds. Without a higher floor to escape to, we could only punch a hole into our ceiling and grab our roof’s steel frames, barely escaping the current. In seconds, 10 feet of water engulfed our home,” Andales narrated. 

    Because of her experience, she realized the impact of science communication as more people would have survived from Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) had the term “storm surge” been made clearer for the public to understand before it actually occurred. 

    “Only later did I found out that that was a storm surge. The day I knew about it was the day it almost killed me,” Andales said in her speech.  

    Now, with the memory of Yolanda, and with better reporting visuals, Andales believes that communicating the risk of disasters can be improved. Science communication at the most crucial times is a matter of life and death.

    "Science communication would produce more direct impacts on my community. We didn't know what a storm surge was. And it meant life and death for us," she added.

    This all the more fueled her passion not just in learning science, but also in communicating science to the public to inform, engage, and empower them.

    "I want to inform and more importantly, engage the public in science. I want everyone to love science. That's my biggest goal for science communication,” Andales stressed. 

    Her experience made her realize the reality of climate change. As a young science communicator, Andales emphasized the importance of giving context to science by starting a conversation with the public to engage with them proactively. 

    “We can’t just shove plain data into the public consciousness. We need to paint a vivid picture of the problem, its solutions specifically emphasizing its human impact because that’s when we start to care,” Andales added.  

    Use of social media

    Andales also pointed out the role of social media in science communication. 

    “With social media, creating this grassroots movement becomes easier. Many people undermine the importance of science communication but I believe that it has the power to turn skepticism into public policy and fear into support and public funding,” Andales said. 

    While most people might think that Andales spent most of her time in her room studying her lessons, she said she also uses Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube to popularize her science content. 

    “I don't always study. I find studying fun but it's not all I do... I'd say I'm not that good yet at time management, but I tend to think of my time as money. I'm more conscious of how I spend my money, so if I think of time like that, then I'm more careful about where my time goes,” she explained.

    Hopes for the future

    In one of the Senate hearings for the Balik Scientist Act, it was discovered that the country has only 189 scientists per 1 million citizens, when the ideal ratio is 380 scientists per million. 

    In the future, Andales hopes to address this concern through her interest in both research and science communication. (READ: Duterte signs Balik Scientist law)

    “When they see a Filipino pursuing that line of work, they might be able to connect with science more, and maybe more of the youth would aspire to become scientists – professionals that our country badly needs. They will then be able to identify a role model in that field," she said.

    Andales believes that if the country wants progress, then the Filipinos should invest in science, technology, and research, because after all, it’s the greatest driver of progress.

    Now that she is set to pursue her dream at MIT, she said that she is both excited and afraid for the new environment, but she’s looking forward to learning a lot. 

    “I hope to use my time there to become a better person and a better scientist. I hope to use my MIT education as a way to make a bigger contribution to the world,” she said. – Rappler.com 


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    ILOILO CITY, Philippines – A lot has changed for 52-year-old artist Larry Casinao since he first displayed his artwork on the sidewalk of Jaro, Iloilo.

    Casinao has made a living from selling his art for 25 years now, struggling to make ends meet given the twice-weekly dialysis sessions needed by his wife. 

    In late June 2019, Casinao went viral as the lolo artist (grandfather artist) after photos of him painting and displaying his artwork along a corner street near Jaro Plaza – a major thoroughfare in the city – were shared on social media by Ilonggo student Sal Molinos.

     

    “While [I was on] my way home, I saw this lolo who was busy painting, with a lot of other paintings displayed along the sidewalk. It's sad to see a local artist not having a proper venue to showcase his art and talent,” shared Molinos on his original entry, dated June 23. 

    As of writing, the Facebook post has gained at least 2,400 shares and 3,100 reactions.

    “I hope he gets the recognition he deserves because he puts so much passion into his work,” continued Molinos. 

    The viral post has enabled many benevolent people to reach out to Casinao to offer help in their own ways. 

    Difficult days

    The self-taught artist, a father of two, admitted that art has not been the most lucrative trade, but it largely sufficed in providing for his family for a while. (READ: Iloilo's 'mermaid' women turn beach trash into wearable art

    However, 4 year ago, Casinao’s wife Angelita was diagnosed with a failing kidney, requiring her to undergo at least two dialysis sessions weekly. Since then, they struggled to keep a roof over their heads. 

    With his craft falling on hard times, he decided to take things into his own hands.

    “Ang na-agyan namun hindi basta-basta (What we’ve been through has not been easy),” Casinao told Rappler. 

    Casinao, who hails originally from Baldoza, La Paz, completed a 2-year drafting course at the former Iloilo School of Arts and Trades. 

    A few years ago, he started selling both his oil paintings and charcoal portraits house-to-house to potentially reach more people and garner more sales.

    Casinao’s endeavor brought him to the far-flung Iloilo towns of Dumangas, Janiuay, and Barotac Nuevo, among others. However, he admits that days would fly by without him selling a single painting.

    “May mga adlaw gid nga zero ka na, gutom ka pa, kapoy ka pa. Kilanlan ko pa mangutang para lang may iplete papuli, kis-a gahibi nalang ko sa dalan,” Casino continued.

     (There were plenty of difficult days when I made zero sales. But a day of going house-to-house still left me hungry, weary, and tired. Sometimes, I would even need to borrow money just for my fare home. On days like these, I would just break down by the side of the road and cry.)

    VIRAL ONLINE. Two months ago, Larry decided to regularly put up his artwork outside an abandoned building along Rizal Street, across Jaro Plaza  hanging his pieces from a rusty chain-link fence to create his own humble gallery. Photo from Sal Molinos

    “Kung may makakita sakun nga kabataan kag magmangkot 'nong, ngaa gahibi ka?’ ginahambal ko nalang nga napuling lang ko (When children pass by and ask me "Lolo, why are you crying?," I’ve learned to shrug it off and say dust just got in my eye.)” Casinao added, laughing.

    Casinao recounted that there were times when he’d get so tired that he’d think of just giving the paintings away, or sell them for just P300 or P500 to have enough to buy rice and a decent meal. 

    “Pero matandaan ko dayun akun asawa. Wala ko gid na siya ginabayaan. Para sa iya ang paghimakas ko (But then I remember my wife. I would never leave her, everything I do, I do it for her),” Casinao continued. 

    He revealed that before his posts went viral, he would only be able to sell around 4 charcoal portraits and 3 paintings every month. 

    Two months ago, Casinao decided to regularly put up his artwork outside an abandoned building along Rizal Street, across Jaro Plaza – hanging his pieces from a rusty chain-link fence to create his own humble gallery. 

    While displaying his work, he would often also be found beginning a new oil painting by the side of the road. That’s when Molinos managed to take his photo and share it on social media.

    Unexpected blessings

    When Rappler contacted Casinao, it had been a few days since he had been able to set up his artwork at the public plaza due to a spell of rain. Thankfully, a local mall had offered Casinao a space to exhibit his artwork, after seeing the viral post online. (READ: Donations pour in for Grade 2 student who uses makeshift pen

    “Lolo Larry” now displays his pieces at the ground floor of Festive Walk Mall Iloilo in Mandurriao – inside the Iloilo Business Park township. He has the space for 3 months, just in time for the rainy season.

    The Festive Walk Mall Iloilo management said the initiative is their own way of giving back for their first anniversary celebration. 

    Actress, painter, and known art patron Heart Evangelista herself was struck by Casinao’s story, commending him on Twitter as an “amazingly talented” artist who “deserves the world.”

    Casinao also shared that Evangelista had called him to personally commission two artworks that he hopes to deliver to her soon. 

    Aside from the space offered to him, Casinao received numerous commissions and orders coming from Manila, Cebu, and many other places. 

    Nakibot gid ko nga damu na ga-contact sa akun, may ga-order halin Metro Manila, kay gali nag-viral na daw ako (I was surprised that a lot of people were trying to contact me, some even ordering from Metro Manila. It was only then that I found out that I had gone viral),” Casinao told Rappler. (READ: After viral photo, father who sells banana cakes gets help for son's liver transplant

    NEW HOME FOR HIS ARTWORK. Larry Casinao now exhibits his artworks at the ground floor of the Festive Walk Mall Iloilo in Mandurriao, Iloilo City. Photo from Sal Molinos by Rhick Lars Vladimer Albay

    Ang haum ko lang sadto nga if i-display ko akun artworks sa Jaro Plaza, sa kada 50 ka tawo nga mag-agi kag makakita may ara biskan isa nga magpundo kag mag-isip nga magbakal painting,” Casinao said. 

    (My hope was just that if I displayed my artworks at Jaro Plaza, with every 50 people who passed by and saw them, there would be at least one person who would stop and consider buying my paintings.) 

    Casinao also expressed his gratitude to Molinos for sharing his photos of him and his paintings online. 

    Thankful gid ako kay Sal, ang estudyante nga nagkuha picture ko. Wala gid ko ga-expect nga damu nga tawo gusto magbulig sa akun. (I’m thankful to Sal, the student who shared my photo. I never expected a lot of people would be interested in my art and be willing to be give a helping hand),” Casinao said. 

    For commissions, orders, or any other form of help, you may contact lolo artist Larry Casinao through 09282379201. He exhibits his artworks at the ground floor of the Festive Walk Mall Iloilo in Mandurriao, Iloilo City. – Rappler.com  

    Rhick Lars Vladimer Albay is a Rappler Mover based in Iloilo. He reports mostly on the local cultural community and art scene.


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    MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Physical Sciences and Mathematics (DPSM) of the University of the Philippines (UP) Manila has denied that it discriminated against a transgender assistant professor.

    The department issued the statement after Assistant Professor Little Hermie B. Monterde alleged online that she had been bullied in the institution due to her gender, citing the department's decision not to endorse her tenureship.

    "Assistant Professor Monterde failed the tenure evaluation done by the Mathematical and Computing Sciences Unit (MCSU) of the Department of Physical Sciences and Mathematics (DPSM) based on the department’s standard tenure evaluation tool," DPSM said.

    “The unanimous decision by the tenured faculty of her home unit was held, firstly, by the DPSM tenured facility with the members of the Department Academic Personnel Committee, and recently, by the College Academic Personnel Committee of the College of Arts and Sciences,” it added.

    DPSM said it issued the clarification after it learned that Monterde and her supporters "are using social media to gather public sympathy and support to bolster her pending appeal before the Office of the Chancellor on her non-endorsement for tenure."

    LGBTQ+ organization UP Babaylan led a social media campaign in support of Monterde. As of writing, UP Babaylan's campaign has gained over 1,100 signatories(READ: #LabanHermie: U.P. community stands in solidarity with transwoman professor)

    In a previous interview with Rappler, Monterde shared her experience of discrimination among her colleagues since she started teaching in 2011, paired with her efforts to physicially transition from male to female.

    She recalled how she received unsolicited comments from colleagues about her physical appearance and choice to dress up as a woman. (READ: U.P. transwoman professor talks about workplace discrimination)   

    Monterde applied for tenureship after teaching in UP for 8 years but it was denied, citing “professional and interpersonal concerns,” fueling  netizens' suspicions that it might have been because of transphobia.

    DPSM stressed, however that Monterde's gender identity was not considered in its decision.

    “Being LGBTQ+ has never been a consideration in the hiring, renewal, and evaluation for tenure in the DPSM, as evidenced by the presence of many faculty members in the department who are LGBTQ+, a number of whom are tenured,” it said. 

    Rappler has yet to clarify the date when the appeal was made. 

    The DPSM said it would not issue any more comments on the case pending the appeal "without waiving legal and equitable action against those responsible for, or have assisted in, spreading misinformation on this case." – Rappler.com 


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    “I really haven’t thought things through,” said my former student when I asked him about his plans.

    He just obtained his degree in Agricultural Biotechnology from UP Los Baños  on June 22. His reply did not surprise me. I had gone through the same uncertainty about a decade ago; unsure about what direction to take shortly after I received my diploma in agriculture from the same university.

    Many fresh graduates in agriculture are likely to remain jobless in the coming months. A survey by my institute found that crop science majors have to wait about 6 months before they land a job. Other crop science majors might delay their job search to prioritize their preparation for the Licensure Examination for Agriculturists (LEA) that takes place in November each year. However, a few lucky ones do find jobs right after graduating and might choose to take the LEA as they adjust to their new environment.

    The choice of work placement is arbitrarily binary for agriculture graduates.“Where do you intend to get a job: academia or industry?” I was asked by my fellow student when we graduated. "Academia" describes teaching or research in state universities and colleges and "industry" describes agricultural production and supply chain professions.

    However, there are alternatives. If one’s family owns farmland, one could help manage the business. Entrepreneurship is a good option for those who can survive the day-to-day struggles of a start-up. Government agencies and local government units also employ many agriculture graduates. A far less popular choice is working for a non-governmental organization (NGO). This is for those whose calling is in development work and those who do not mind the low pay and can endure the inconveniences that come with working at the grassroots level.

    I did not know this when I joined an NGO in Bukidnon. I had been jobless for 4 months since graduating, so I took the first job that came along. It was my first job, my first plane ride, and my first time setting foot in Mindanao. I did not have even the vaguest idea of what to expect. All I had was a heavy luggage, some pocket money, and idealism nurtured by inexperience.

    The NGO’s mandate was to help the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in land distribution and, most importantly, to assist small farmers obtain land that was rightfully theirs through government land reform programs. As part of the NGO, I joined rallies with farmer beneficiaries.

    The rallies were usually organized by fellow UP alumni. Mel and Lui were graduates of UP Mindanao, and Maribel was a graduate of UP Diliman. We were all about the same age. When I joined, Mel and Lui had been working with the NGO for two years and were pros at organizing these rallies.

    I surmised that they had, unlike me, participated in many such gatherings during their undergraduate years.

    Having to be part of the NGO itself was an internal battle. As a student, I shied away from campus demonstrations, despite feeling strongly about certain issues. It was a personal choice. However, I now wish I had given it more serious thought. I regret spending countless hours fighting imagined enemies in computer shops but never taking the real fight to the streets.

    Thankfully, participating in the rallies organized by my NGO awakened me to the social reality that is fundamentally tied to agriculture and development work. After all, my official job title was "Agriculture Development Officer."

    Once farmer beneficiaries have been awarded the 3 hectares of promised land after years of struggle, my duty as the NGO’s in-house agriculturist begins. However, for the resource-poor, fighting for land is only the beginning of even greater challenges. Now that they legally own the land, they must prove that they can make it productive and profitable, lest it be taken away. I worked closely with farmer beneficiaries to ensure successful harvests.

    Once, I gave a demonstration about a special seed-coating for corn. It was a product of my university; naive and proud of my alma mater, I profusely professed how effective it was. The product was made of finely-ground charcoal and beneficial microbes. It had to be mixed with the corn seeds before sowing.

    After the demonstration, the farmers carried on with the sowing. When the planting was done, I asked the farmers to gather around for feedback. There were not as many of them this time. The women had to excuse themselves to prepare lunch or to send the children to school, while some of the men, having satisfied their curiosity, decided that the product was not worth the money.

    There was a pause. Later, a farmer responded, “E, Sir, madumi po (But, Sir, it’s dirty)"

    I was stunned and asked him to clarify what he meant.

    Raising his hands and showing me his fingernails, he said, “Sir, sumisiksik po sa kuko 'yung uling (Sir, the charcoal gets under my nails)."

    Pero ang lupa, 'di ba madumi (But isn't soil dirty)?" I asked.

    Maitim po at pangit tingnan (It’s black and unsightly)," he concluded.

    I was awash with confusion. I knew that the product underwent extensive laboratory testing, field validation, and likely produced several journal articles for the technology developer. However, culture, user experience, and preferences seemed to have been forgotten. For me, it was a hard lesson in agricultural technology development.

    For researchers and scientists, data doesn’t lie. For farmers, data is only useful if it is rooted in on-farm realities. This helped me immensely when I later became part of a research team and during my postgraduate studies.

    I resigned from the NGO after 6 months because I could not reconcile a funder-driven program that encouraged resource-poor farmers to take loans that I thought they did not need and which eroded their way of life.

    It has been 10 years since my stint with the NGO. Looking back, it helped refine the principles I live by, and influenced future decisions shaping my career. It is being conscious of the larger society within which agriculture operates and the plight of resource-poor farmers that gives me direction. If you are an agriculture graduate on the lookout for a job and are unsure of how to utilize your education, try working with an NGO.

    You may decide not to stay long, but the lessons will stay with you forever. – Rappler.com

    Emman Bernardo is an assistant professor at the Institute of Crop Science, College of Agriculture and Food Science, UP Los Baños. Prior to academia, he worked closely with farmers in Bukidnon as a community organizer with an NGO that fights for land rights.

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    RESCUED. Thirty four Lumad escape from what they described as slave-like conditions in a fish farm owned by a Chinese businessman in Sual, Pangasinan. Photo by Henrie Enaje

    MANILA, Philippines – Thirty four Lumad, including two children from the Manobo-Pulangihan tribe in Quezon, Bukidnon, escaped from what they described as slave-like conditions in a fish farm owned by a Chinese businessman in Sual, Pangasinan, on Monday, July 1. 

    According to their lawyer Henrie Enaje, the victims were recruited by fellow Lumad Danny Talisan and a certain Rizalinda de Felix, who promised them P7,500-monthly pay with one month advance and free food and housing.

    Two months of 'slavery'

    The group was then accompanied by De Felix to Sual, Pangasinan, were they were immediately forced to work in a bangus (milkfish) aquaculture farm without receiving their promised advance pay. (READ: INFOGRAPHIC: Who are the Lumad?)

    For a period of about two months, the Lumad worked as fish feeders, harvesters, loaders, and cleaners, tending to two parcels of fish pens covering about 100,000 square meters in the open seas. (READ: Rappler Talk: Are the Lumad victims in war and peace?)

    According to the Lumad, they were forced to work from 6 am, often under the scorching sun, up to 7 pm by their employer, a certain Arian Hao, and his brother, who they described as “very strict and abusive.”

    At night, they had to load around 200 bags of fish feed to boats which they would use the next day before they were allowed to sleep.

    Despite their exhausting work schedule, the Lumad said that they were not allowed to rest and were sometimes even physically abused. (READ: [OPINION] The Lumad are not the villains)

    “At night, we sleep in dwellings with high walls and gates that require passes before we can leave the premises. We were also not allowed to leave,” said the group.

    Far from the P7,500-pay promised to them, many said that they only got around P1,800 from the employer, who deducted from their salary the supposed cost of their daily meals – often only one egg with three pieces of fried fish. Worse, some of the Lumad reported that they received absolutely no pay for their back-breaking work.

    Elizabeth Sampitan, one of the victims, was lured with a job as a cook but was instead tasked to fold feed sacks for P0.50 per sack which amounted to a measly P80 a day. She and her husband incurred a debt of P13,000.

    Many of the Lumad reportedly got sick from the miserable working conditions. (READ: What the Lumad are fighting for)

    Escape from hell

    Having had enough, the group decided to escape their “hellish” workplace. One night, the group walked by the shore and bypassed 4 security guards. A Cubao-bound bus chanced upon them and agreed to take them to Manila without pay.

    With assistance from the Federation of Agricultural Workers (UMA), the group managed to reach the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to file a case.

    “The Department of Labor and Employment and National Bureau of Investigation must act at once to close down the illegal and exploitative operations of Hao and put him and his recruiters behind bars," said UMA chairperson Antonio Flores.

    CHR had launched a motu proprio investigation and would be closely monitoring the case.

    In a statement sent to Rappler, CHR spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia said that they had assisted the victims in filing a report against their recruiters and employer at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Station VI in Batasan Hills, Quezon City.

    Not an isolated case

    De Guia said the case was not unique. She said 17 Lumad who had been recruited to work a similar fish pen in the area were rescued by the CHR with the help of the Philippine National Police-Sual, Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office of Pangasinan, and MSWDO-Sual.

    "They are now currently staying in a shelter in Lingayen, Pangasinan,” De Guia said.

    She also cited a similar case in a fish pen in Rosario, La Union, where 10 alleged Lumad victims of human trafficking escaped.

    "The Commission’s field office in Region I is closely monitoring the incident,” De Guia said.

    The 34 Lumad who escaped are currently living in the CHR main office in Diliman, Quezon City. They have asked for financial assistance to return to Bukidnon. Donations may be dropped off at CHR. – Rappler.com

    Nicolas Czar Antonio is a Rappler intern and a Psychology student at the University of the Philippines Diliman. He tweets at @Nicolas_Czar.

     


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    There’s been a purge in Sudan, and the target is pro-democracy protesters. On June 3, 2019, Sudan’s military violently attacked the cluster of civil rights advocates rallying for democracy in Khartoum. Protesters were shot, chased, whipped, beat, and raped by government forces, even after the protest camps were cleared. About 70 were sexually assaulted, with more than 100 killed and 500 injured. 

    Schools and businesses reek of blood and damaged concrete. There's a shortage of food, water, and medicine. On top of it all, the state is downplaying the magnitude of their crimes, taking advantage of their self-manufactured internet blackout to do so.

    This is the legacy of Omar al-Bashir, whose corrupt and dictatorial 30-year rule was put to an end a few months back (and by the same protesters). Since then, the 7-member Transitional Military Council and the Forces of Freedom and Change have been negotiating on a workable government mechanism. That is, until the violent crackdown. (READ: Sudan protesters agree to direct talks with ruling generals)

    Currently, the internal conflict is being mediated by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Recent reports have indicated the cessation of civil disobedience by the Sudanese opposition – in exchange, the military had promised the release of political prisoners. While this seems like a good restart, peace talks still have yet to be resumed or confirmed. The protesters are demanding an investigation on the crackdown before sitting at the negotiation table, and rightfully so. While the military’s response remains absent, the crisis continues.

    The international response exists, but is worryingly underwhelming. The African Union has suspended Sudan’s membership. The United States, United Kingdom, and Norway have issued joint statements expressing concern over the violence, but are still on standby. International humanitarian organizations such as Human Rights Watch and the United Nations have condemned the violence, but are made unable to help keep peace. Unsurprisingly, none of this has been enough to produce a resolution. (READ: Sudan generals, protesters in landmark agreement on new governing body

    But why should we in the Philippines, in particular, care?

    Because we’re their allies

    The Philippines and Sudan have had formal relations for 43 years. The two countries have had embassies in each other’s territory, and have traded site-specific raw materials such as oil, gold, and livestock on one end; and wheat, chemicals, and textiles on the other.

    There have even been celebrations and joint commemorations for anniversaries. Furthermore, statistics from 2017 show that 3,000 Filipinos work, study, or live in Sudan, while census data from 2010 report that, though not large-scale in number, a handful of Sudanese citizens live in the Philippines.

    Helping Sudan achieve its dream of peace is then a matter of integrity and formal duty. Within this distant internal conflict lies the question of whether or not we, as a country, will keep our promise of being an ally  to Sudan, made for better or worse.

    But even if we can rebuild our relations in the future, we must remember that this present unrest doesn’t only hold the Sudanese hostage; it catches our countrymen, too. 

    Because we know what it feels like

    Although not completely the same with Philippine history, the current context in Sudan surely is familiar. The revolutions for independence and rallies for democracy, all met with abuse and violence, should ring a bell to one who’s read their textbooks. Undeniably, we had to struggle to get to where we are now: a free, democratic state. 

    Frankly, Sudan is only doing the same. They’re fighting under the same dream for democracy, and through democratic, non-violent means. In fact, their protests now are strikingly similar to ours back then, particularly in the facet of youth leadership. But this also means that the Sudanese youth face much of the brunt of their struggle, and we, the Filipino youth who are routinely tasked with the same burden, should know better than to stay silent.  (READ: 7 killed as mass demonstrations hit Sudan)

    We forget that our students were at the forefront of our multiple struggles for freedom – even those that exist today.

    Democracy is a reality that should be made readily available for all. However, the process of attaining it seems to always require a fight. Hence, if we won our fight, we should also stand for Sudan’s right to win theirs. After all, their dreams were ours, too.

    Because helping is in our nature

    The Philippines has always been a helpful country. When the Notre Dame burned down, we offered our sympathies. When Vietnam was in the middle of a war, we sent volunteers to help them in the name of brotherhood. When the Rohingya were being oppressed by the military junta of Myanmar, we led the call for criticism and investigation. In our houses, we practice hospitality; in our churches, we preach altruism; in our schools, we teach service for others. Helping is infused in our Philippine blood and instinct.

    More so is this true for our youth. Whether it be in discussions of art, politics, or culture, the Filipino youth is owning the narrative. We have been at the center of organizational work and involvement, where we’ve put together community advocacies and created meaningful bonds among forward- thinking people. It is within our time that multiple historic laws were introduced and passed, and stigma about a multitude of otherwise unthinkable things were defeated – thanks to the heart and work of young advocates. We are changing and challenging the ways of the world, not only for us, but for others.

    We were brought up with the mindset that our lives are not entirely ours – that our lives are also for the unheard and marginalized. It stands to reason then that we can and should want to help Sudan. We’ve done it once, twice, thrice for others; certainly, we can do it again.

    There is one thing that all of these arguments have in common, and that is the recognition of the Sudanese’s humanity. It is the emphasis of our similarities rather than our differences, because like us, they are people, too – with hopes for a better life, and aspirations for their past, present, and future families. They also want food, shelter, water, medicine, and their voices heard in government – things they face a shortage of, and therefore things we should instinctively help give them. And when barely anybody else is doing so, we should set the precedent. – Rappler.com 

    Aleijn Reintegrado is an incoming college freshman. She is also a debater, an advocate, and an active volunteer for various advocacies and organizations, such as Students’ Rights and Welfare Philippines where she currently holds the position of National Vice Chairperson.  


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