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    MANILA, Philippines – When Andrew Lebardo heard that his Uber passenger, Sarah Cuvin, needed a blood donor, he did not think twice to go beyond his duty and volunteered to donate 450 grams of blood.

    In a social media post that quickly went viral, Sarah Cuvin shared how Lebardo was an answered prayer to her family when he volunteered to donate blood to replace the one consumed by her relative from a hospital operation.

    As of posting, the photo racked up at least 1,900 reactions and was shared at least 236 times.

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    Why he donated

    In a phone interview with Rappler, Cuvin shared that she was on speakerphone and at a ride on Uber when her brother called about their relative’s situation in the hospital.

    “How it works is that the hospital gives you blood and you have to replace the blood from the blood bank. It was 450 grams per bag and we needed 2 bags,” Cuvin said.

    When she learned about their need for blood donors, Cuvin automatically imagined the difficulty in looking for interested donors.

    “We felt like that it was difficult because giving blood is personal, it is not something you ask other people to do for you,” Cuvin said.

    Fortunately, they did not need to look further. An "angel" overheard their conversation on spearkerphone.

    While Cuvin and her brother were still talking, Lebardo said he was willing to have himself tested if he was qualified to donate blood.

    “All he wanted in exchange was his payment for the Uber ride,” Cuvin added in her social media post.

    In a phone interview with Rappler, Lebardo said that he was naturally helpful to friends and strangers alike so making the decision to donate blood came easy for him. 

    "Basta kapag may kailangan, kahit sino, I really do my best na tumulong," Lebardo said. (If anyone needs anything, I really do my best to extend help.) 

    The Uber driver also shared that it was not his first time to donate blood. Lebardo has been with Uber since December 2016. 

    Blood donation in the PH

    Good Samaritans like Lebardo are not new in the Philippines where the blood supply still falls short of the target despite having numerous blood banks located in hospitals and centers like the Philippine Red Cross (PRC). (READ: Blood needed: With PH blood supply below target, patients seek online

    "There is a non-stop demand for blood. We receive requests through phone calls and inquiries at our chapters," PRC blood bank manager Dra. Sheryll Tonelete said in mixed English and Filipino in an interview with Rappler.

    Donating a bag of blood would usually takes no longer than 10 minutes. Within that span of time, a blood donor can save three lives, Tonelete said. (READ: Ubial: Blood donation should be an everyday thing)

    Tonelete also said the need for better awareness about blood donation in the country, especially during the "lean months" of December and January. According to the blood bank manager, the supply of blood is usually low while the demand for it is high during these months. 

    "Sana gawing part ng Chirstmas program yung blood letting activity. Or groups can make it a start-of-the-year activity," Tonelete suggested. (We hope that the blood letting activity is integrated in Christmas programs or in start-of-the-year activities) 

    How you can donate

    In order to donate blood, interested donors are required to follow a few simple steps. 

    First, donors would be usually required to fill out a questionnaire detailing their medical history. They will be interviewed and assessed by doctors to check whether they meet the requirements for donating blood.

    Requirements for donating blood vary among blood centers. Hospitals, for example, are known to implement stricter guidelines.

    According to the PRC's basic requirements, blood donors should:

    • be in good health

    • between 16 and 65 years old (those aged 16 and 17 need parental consent)

    • weigh at least 110 pounds

    • have a blood pressure between 90 and 160 mmHg (systolic), 60 and 100 mmHg (diastolic)

    • pass the physical and health history assessments

    After this, the extraction process – which lasts no longer than half an hour – begins. The donor will then be allowed to rest for several minutes and will be given refreshments.

    Every time someone donates blood, part of the standard operation procedure of the PRC is to conduct screening processes ensuring that the donated blood is safe for transfusion and free from transfusion transmissible infections. – Rappler.com

     


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    MANILA, Philippines – The death of Horacio Castillo III is not a lone case when it comes to frat-related violence and deaths throughout the years. In fact, it seems like a never ending nightmare.

    Despite the anti-hazing law, there are still fraternities which clearly violate it and practice hazing and physical initiation. (READ: What you need to know about the Anti-Hazing Law

    So much negativity has surrounded this issue. So much sorrow has stricken the family members of those who died. (READ: Castillo's parents: Aegis Juris treated our son 'like an animal')

    But for the members of what they deeply call as 'brotherhood,' there is so much more than what people see. 

    Why join a fraternity? 

    Rappler reached out to them to hear the other side of the story. 

    Believing in the same things  

    Fercival Yutan just graduated in June, 2017, from the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman. He is part of the Alpha Phi Beta Fraternity. 

    "I just learned about the Alpha Phi Beta Fraternity when my organization was invited to join their debate workshop."

    Soon after, he joined the frat. According to him, joining was a leap of faith. At the end of the day, it's all about what you believe and no one can force things down your throat if you do not want it. 

    "Aside from the values being advocated by my frat, which is aligned with my own personal principle, it's all a matter of wanting to be part of something bigger than myself," he said. 

    Another UP student, Joshua Balinas, is part of Beta Sigma Fraternity. He said that it was very important that you discern what the fraternity is all about before joining one. 

    "I would tell them first to discern before rendering judgment. Being critical is never brought about my impulse or emotion. Look at the purpose of the fraternity first. Assess if they are true to it, before judging the organization and its members."

    Balinas also said that it is good to be surrounded by a group of men who think alike and who act as family towards each other. 

    Network of connections 

    Balinas admitted that it is an advantage of being part of a fraternity to have a big network of connections. It is easier to get jobs and it is easier to climb up the corporate ladder. 

    Yutan also experienced the luxury of meeting different people from different walks of life. 

    "I was exposed to different types of people with varying perspectives," he said.

    No to physical initiation 

    According to Balinas, he knew he chose the right fraternity because his does not practice physical initiation. (READ: Inside the brotherhood: thoughts on fraternity violence)

    "My Fraternity also does not practice physical initiation and this made me believe that I chose correctly. We adhere to the anti-hazing law, and we adamantly practice it," he claims. 

    "We want to end the cycle of violence, of 'passing the torch' practices done by other fraternities," he added. 

    Speaking of violence, both Yutan and Balinas both condemned the death of Horacio "Atio" Castillo III. 

    "It is sad that the life of an aspiring law student was lost due to hazing. It is unfortunate that Atio Horacio died in joining a fraternity," Yutan extended his deepest condolences to the family. 

    Balinas also condemned the incident.

    "We call for a nationwide cessation of all forms of fraternity violence, for non-physical initiation across fraternities," he said. 

    As Balinas put it, "A person is never measured by the number of hits he can take, but by strength of will and character." – Rappler.com


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    EXTRAORDINARY. It is not everyday that you find an entertaining Uber driver like Boyet Ong. Photo by Vee Salazar/Rappler

    MANILA, Philippines – In a country where traffic is considered one of the major transportation problems, an Uber driver found a way to entertain his passengers in the midst of it. (READ: Metro Manila has ‘worst traffic on Earth’-waze)  

    Boyet Ong, an Uber driver for 11 months now, plays puzzles to cheer up his passengers during long travel hours caused by terrible traffic jams. 

    "Nag umpisa po’yan kasi po no’ng nag Uber po ako, naisip ko po agad na ma-traffic. Kaya po bitbit ko na po ‘yan. Kasi po para malibang ang mga pasahero, hindi po mainip sa traffic. At lalung-lalo na po kapag Uber pool ho, karamihan po ng Uber pool hindi magkakakilala ‘yan. Ngayon, nagiging close po sila dahil sa mga palaro ko," he said.

    (When I started driving for Uber, I realized the intense traffic. That’s why I brought my puzzles to entertain my passengers, especially during traffic jams. They get friendly with each other in Uber pools because of my puzzle.)

    The father of two supported the education of his children through driving. 

    Before driving for Uber, Ong used to be a pier driver for 15 years.

    Because of his hard work, his eldest son is now a licensed civil engineer. His daughter is still in college, taking up a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management. 

    Puzzles 

    "Matagal na po 'yan ma'am. Nakahiligan ko po 'yan, mga ganyang puzzle. Marami po 'yan. Marami po akong ibang puzzle."

    (Doing puzzles has been my hobby for a long time now. I have a lot and different puzzle.) 

    Like many drivers in the country, he also complains about the terrible traffic he faces everyday. Because of it, he thought of using his hobby to make his passengers happy. 

    "Natutuwa po sila sa akin. Nalilibang ho sila."

    (They like what I do. They get entertained.) 

    According to him, his passengers get out of his car happy. In fact, they even reach out to him on social media. 

    Being more than a driver 

    Driving for him is not just all about entertaining his passengers but more importantly, it is all about making sure that their safety comes first. 

    Ong has a fair share of good and bad experiences as an Uber driver. According to him, there are really passengers who are rude and inconsiderate. But he also said that it is not an excuse for him to disrespect them. 

    In fact, he gave a piece of advise to other Uber drivers like him. 

    "Mag tiyaga lang po sa pag-drive. Habaan ang pasensya sa mga pasaway na pasahero kasi public servant pa rin tayo eh. Dapat natin ihatid ng safe 'yan kahit mataray sila."

    (Just persevere in driving. Just be patient, especially to the rude passengers because we are still public servants. It is our responsibility to ensure their safety.)

    He said that being a driver takes a lot of patience. It is something he seemed to have mastered in almost 16 years of driving. 

    Know more about him and watch his amazing tricks in the video. – Rappler.com 


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    FIGHT FAKE NEWS. On Thursday, September 28, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana highlights the role media plays in fighting fake news. Photo by Raisa Serafica/Rappler

    MANILA, Philippines – On Thursday, September 28, 2017, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana sought help from the media to fight fake news in the country. 

    In a training on disaster risk reduction and management organized by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) for the media, the defense chief emphasized the important role of the media to fact-check fake news. 

    "Fake news is already circulating every day. It is the duty of the media to see to it that fake news is not propagated," he said, after asking the media's help to support the government in "facilitating our donations, mobilizing our resources for response, and disseminating information."  

    The country has witnessed the rise of unverified posts on social media so much so that even the government officials like Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) assistant secretary Mocha Uson and Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre have fallen for the bait of fake news as well. 

    Late in May, for example, newly appointed PCOO assistant secretary Mocha Uson sought prayers from her online followers for the Philippine Army, accompanying her post with a photo of kneeling uniformed personnel.  The photo turned out to be not of Filipino soldiers but of a group of Honduran police. In defense, Uson explained that it was mere symbolism.

    In the thick of war in Marawi, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, on the other hand, argued that  opposition lawmakers Senator Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, and Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano may have had something to do with the attack of terrorist groups in the city. He backed up his claim with a photo that turned out to be taken a little less than two years ago in Iloilo City

    Media's role in disaster management 

    Beyond fighting fake news, Lorenzana also highlighted the role media plays in disaster management. 

    "The defense department believes that the media plays a very important role in disaster risk management process. You have an important function to inform, educate, and empower communities and individuals," he said. 

    As a country prone to disasters, the government, through the leadership of the NDRRMC, has developed the National Disaster Response Plan (NDRP) – a system through which various national government agencies should respond and work together in times of disasters. 

    With the end goal of strengthening disaster preparedness and fostering a culture of resilience, Lorenzana highlighted the role of the media in disseminating relevant information about NDRP to the public. 

    "You have the power to influence public action towards disaster preparedness," he added.

    On Tuesday to Friday, September 26 to 29, NDRRMC organized an advanced course training for members of the media in Subic, Zambales. The course which aims to equip media with relevant knowledge about the country's DRRM system tackled different topics such as the NDRP, emergency response preparedness (ERP) and rapid damage assessment.

    MovePH's Agos powered by eBayanihan is one of the existing partners of the NDRRMC and is part of the telecommunications cluster whenever the agency activates the ERP in times of disasters.  – Rappler.com 

     


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    TRAFFIC. A truck crash causes heavy traffic in Pasig City on September 28, 2017. Photo from Taga Pasig Kami Facebook page

    MANILA, Philippines – A 10-wheeler truck loaded with sand crashed onto a center island in Pasig City, causing heavier traffic along the southbound lane of C5 Road on Thursday, September 28. 

    According to Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Operations Commander Vic Felizardo, the truck lost its brakes around 3 am on Thursday. It then blocked the service road.

    The truck was only cleared at 12:20 pm, 9 hours after the crash.

    Felizardo said they had difficulty with the clearing operations due to the size of the truck.

    The impact of the incident was felt by a lot of motorists and commuters. Although the crash did not cause any injuries, it did result in a massive traffic jam.

    Social media users commented on a Facebook post showing the incident, saying they were late for work due to the road congestion. Some even shared how they were forced to walk instead.

    Some also pointed out that the area where the truck got stuck seems to be crash-prone.

    Felizardo explained that vehicles tend to have a hard time making a turn in that area because the road is narrow. It doesn't help that vehicles tend to go at higher speeds since the area is also downhill.

    Felizardo said traffic lights were installed and enforcers were deployed to that area to prevent crashes. – Rappler.com 


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    CAMPUS ISSUE. The Polytechnic university of the Philippines is known as a bastion for student activism and movement, its students among the most fearless and progressive in the country.  Image from the PUP website

    MANILA, Philippines – Is the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) administration cracking down on student institutions in the state university?

    The state-run university is known as a bastion of student activism and movement, its students among the most progressive in the country.

    PUP has also been the go-to university for students belonging to the poor majority primarily because it offers the lowest tuition rates – P12 per unit – in Metro Manila. Keeping the tuition at this affordable rate is a community effort – resulting from a cooperative dynamics among the student body, the administration, and school’s employees.

    However, recent reports showed strains in the relationship between the administration and the progressive student institutions in the university.

    Claims

    In a press statement released on Wednesday, September 27, Anakbayan did not mince words when it said that the PUP administration launched a wave of attacks against key student institutions supposedly to grant the wishes of the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

    With the supposed goal of curtailing the student’s democratic rights, Anakbayan claimed that the school administration: 

    • Removed the student regent

    • Closed down student offices and tambayans

    • Suspended student council elections

    • Implemented new fees and mandatory uniform

    • Deployed police forces within the campus

    While it blamed the school administration, Anakbayan basically pointed its finger at the Duterte administration in the press statement.

    “We believe Malacanang and its agents are behind these attacks aimed at terrorizing Iskolars ng Bayan. They are terrified by the growing youth movement calling for an end to tyranny, dictatorship and fascist rule. If Duterte and his minions think they can scare us, they are dead wrong,” said Rejohn Modesto, chairperson of SAMASA PUP, a left-leaning political party in the state university.

    Student institutions

    These are serious accusations, according to PUP President Emmanuel De Guzman who identified himself as a supporter of the youth struggle. He said he won’t take any of these lightly.

    “There are two student institutions in PUP: The student council and the school publication ‘Catalyst.’ I have always supported their rights and I have tried to understand their sentiments,” De Guzman said in a phone interview with Rappler.

    In the past, De Guzman has been one with the PUP students in slamming the proposal to implement a socialized tuition system in the university. In fact, he promised that the tuition in PUP shall  remain P12 per unit as long as he is president.

    According to him, Anakbayan was lying. 

    First and foremost, he denied that the administration removed duly-elected  student representative Karl Paulie Anareta from the board of regents. Instead, by virtue of one of the provisions of the RA 8292 or the CHEd Modernization Act, De Guzman said that former student regent Anareta was disqualified from the post because he was not enrolled in the university.

    With the growing need to have a student representative at the Board of Regents, the student council led by the chairperson Elijah San Fernando organized the election of the 19th ANAK-PUP officers, including the new student regent, on Saturday to Sunday, September 23-24. It was supposedly during this congress where 25 out of 35 of its members voted in favor of Elijah San Fernando from the political organization PUP SPEAK to represent the PUP student body in the Board of Regents.

    PUP SPEAK is the rival political party of the SAMASA PUP. 

    The PUP President also noted that Anareta’s term supposedly ended in March 2017 and that the 18th ANAK-PUP Congress has been delaying the transition of power and the election of a new student regent for almost 7 months because “they knew they would lose.”

    Tambayan, school publication

    Anakbayan also claimed that the administration ordered “the takeover of campus student publications through an administration office called Student Publication Section.”

    There was no takeover, however, according to De Guzman who also served as the Editor-in-Chief of PUP’s school publication in 1989-1990. 

    “I decided to restore the office that will oversee that selection of writers and editors like what we used to have when I was  a student here. We had a board of judges that will assess the essays of applicant writers. The board of judges will be composed of advisers and former EIC of the Catalyst,” De Guzman said.

    The restoration of the Student Publication Section, according to De Guzman, will resolve the tendency of the student paper to turn into an echo chamber, ensuring quality output from the campus paper. 

    In the same press release, Anakbayan also claimed that the “administration closed the Gabriela Silang Hall, a building intended for student activities, and the student offices in various colleges.” 

    This is a malicious accusation, according to De Guzman, because the administration actually renovated the "Unyon ng Mag-aaral," a building located at the heart of the campus, for student organizations like SAMASA PUP. 

     According to the PUP President, the chief of the university's student affairs and services talked to the students so they can occupy their rooms at the newly renovated building but "they (students) did not want to talk." 

    Democratic process 

    De Guzman also denied the accusation that there were “truckloads of policemen” and that they  suspended student elections in the university. 

    So if these accusations are fault, where are these coming from?

    The PUP President said the strain in the dynamics between the school administration and the progressive organizations were rooted from the latters refusal to accept their defeat in the recently held student elections. 

    "they lost. Out of the 35 councils, their opposition clinched 25," De Guzman said, referring to the recently held ANAK PUP congress.  

    "I just want the students to go back to the fold of democratic process. We want this gorup to recognize that these institutions are going to endure longer than them and we have to respect that," De Guzman said. 

    Anakbayan said the PUP students are calling for campus protests to fight this supposed practice of "repression and fascism" at the state university.  – Rappler.com

     

     


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    MOBILE KITCHEN. Soldiers bring a mobile kitchen to evacuation centers to serve Filipinos affected by the Marawi crisis. Photo courtesy of Joint Task Group Tabang Facebook page

    MANILA, Philippines – Their primary job is to defend the the Philippines. But soldiers of the Civil Military Operations Regiment (CMO) has been offering an unusual kind of service to internally displaced persons (IDPs) of the Marawi crisis. 

    Instead of being engaged in firefights, they have been bringing a mobile kitchen to evacuation centers to provide hot meals for Marawi evacuees. It may not be their job to do so, but they are owning it. (READ: Lorenzana 'confident' Marawi siege done by end-September)

    Rappler talked to the commander of the public affairs task unit of Joint Task Group Tabang, Major Jeffrex Molina. According to him, it is not only hot meals that they provide. They also make sure to speak of peace to these people, and bring them home.

    The CMO is under Joint Task Group Tabang, which is tasked to rebuild Marawi City. 

    Providing what they need

    The Marawi clashes have raged for 4 months now, and internally displaced families have been receiving the same kind of relief goods since the crisis began.

    "We saw that what IDPs desire is good food or at least a hot meal," Molina said in Filipino. 

    They requested to Molina's group if they could taste hot meals. "We conceptualized the mobile kitchen," he said.

    Organizers decided the mobile kitchen should serve different places.s. 

    As of now, they have already visited 78 evacuation centers in Iligan City, Lanao del Norte, and Lanao del Sur.

    Spreading peace

    Their job does not end in providing food to the evacuees. They also make sure to talk about the importance of peace in the face of the ongoing conflict.

    They prepare halal food for their Muslim brothers and sisters as well.

    Molina said that this helps them build trust and camaraderie with Muslims in the area, especially that Christians prepare the food.

    They, too, provide psychosocial intervention to children to ease the trauma they have experienced. 

    Bringing hope and comfort

    The main goal Molina and his men have in mind is to serve the people affected by war. 

    "What we really want for them to realize is the sincerity of the soldiers and that this is for their welfare," he said. 

    At the end of the day, he said they want the civilians to know that the government and the soldiers care about them, and that they can go through this hard times together with them.

    "It's a big thing for us to ease their pain," he said. – Rappler.com 


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    'REMOVE PHILIPPINES.' The Philippine UPR Watch is calling on the United Nations to remove the Philippines as a member of the UN Human Rights Council. Photo from Philippine UPR Watch

    MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines should be removed as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)

    This was the call of the Philippine Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Watch, a delegation of Filipinos to the UN. The group is composed of victims of rights violations, ecumenical leaders, and human rights defenders.

    In a statement Saturday, September 30, the Philippine UPR Watch criticized the Duterte administration's moves during the UPR process.

    "The Philippines has exhibited a total mockery of international human rights mechanisms, with the government's blatant distortion of facts on extrajudicial killings and human rights violations in the country, its record of using the UN as a platform to justify its crimes against the Filipino people, and its doubletalk on compliance to human rights instruments," the Philippine UPR Watch said.

    Slated every 4 years, the UPR provides an opportunity for member-states like the Philippines to share actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their respective countries. 

    In May, during the Philippines' 3rd cycle in the UPR, the UN Human Rights Council reviewed the human rights record of the country in the last 4 years, covering the last 4 years of the administration of Benigno Aquino III and the first 9 months of the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

    In the past year, various human rights organizations have repeatedly slammed the Duterte administration for its blatant disregard for human rights. However, the Duterte administration has responded to this criticism by painting human rights defenders as an obstacle to change.

    In fact, in May, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano reported to the UNHRC that there is no new wave of killings in the Philippines. He also slammed critics and the media for "changing the meaning" of extrajudicial killings. 

    For the Philippine UPR Watch, these are enough reasons for the UN to revoke the membership of Philippines at the UNHRC, "especially as it continues its hardheaded position against any UN investigation on the killing."

    The Philippine UPR Watch also welcomed the statement of the 39 states, led by Iceland, that expressed concerns on extrajudicial killings in relation to the drug war, as well as rights violations against human rights defenders, indigenous peoples, and journalists. 

    "The statement disproves the so-called win of the Philippine government at the UNHRC," Philippine UPR Watch added.

    The group also reiterated its call for the international community to guard against the worsening climate of impunity in the country. It then called on states to withdraw financial support, if any, for the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and other programs "that abet the human rights violations."

    The Philippines' first and second UPR cycles took place in April 2008 and May 2012, respectively. During the second cycle in 2012, the UNHRC provided the Philippine government over 50 recommendations to the Philippine government, but not all of these were implemented. – Rappler.com 


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    RIDE FOR LIFE. Japo Parcero hopes to bike 2,200 kilometers from Pagudpud to Davao for the benefit of kids with cancer. All photos by Franz Lopez/Rappler

    MANILA, Philippines – Imagine biking non-stop for 18 days, travelling from Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, through different Luzon provinces, then hopping from one island to another. By the end of the trip, you have covered 2,200 kilometers and reached Davao City.

    That’s roughly a thousand rounds around the Academic Oval of UP Diliman. Broken into days, that means biking an average of 160 kilometers per day.

    Armed with her fixed gear bike, this is the goal that cyclist and performing artist Japo Parcero aims to accomplish within the year. 

    Parcero hopes that this would also help trigger conversations along the way, bringing her closer to her purpose for riding across the archipelago: raising awareness about the plight of kids suffering from cancer and other chronic diseases.

    The biker calls this initiative “Ride for Life.”

    “The cause that we thought of was to help children suffering from cancer. I want to ride for those who can't. I want to ride because I want to be able to help them look forward to a future where they can also choose what they want to do,” she said.

    Chronic diseases affecting kids

    Globally, over 200,000 children develop cancer, according to the 2014 World Cancer report of the United Nations’ International Agency for Research on Cancer. In the Philippines, it has been projected that there would be 3,500 new cases of children being diagnosed with the disease every year.

    The estimate, according to experts, is too high to ignore, especially for a disease that is highly curable. 

    The report added that 70% of the cases would likely be found in the late stages, when cure is either impossible or excessively expensive.

    Fortunately, recent figures from the Department of Health (DOH) showing that the number of survivors has increased in the past 10 years gives advocates like Parcero reason to hope. The DOH said around 82% of children with cancer reach adulthood. This is a significant improvement given that, around a decade ago, the survival rate was only 16%.

    Parcero is optimistic to help turn the grim picture around, by increasing awareness, through the Ride for Life campaign.

    Ride for Life partnered with Kythe, a group that provides psychosocial support for kids with cancer and other chronic illnesses such as biliary atresia, a disease that attacks infants' livers. (READ: 'Seeing kids fly' – battling cancer with a smile)

    Baby Johann

    On a hot Sunday afternoon somewhere in the Sierra Madre, during one of her trainings, Parcero sat down with Rappler to share her advocacy and the story behind Ride for Life. 

    Ride for Life, according to Parcero, started with a baby named Johann, who was suffering from biliary atresia in 2016.

    When she learned about Johann's plight, Parcero thought of ways to help him and his mother, Joan. The biker believed that Johann deserves to grow old and maximize his childhood. 

    Infants suffering from biliary atresia would usually need a liver transplant – an operation that that costs around P3 million. Worse, the operation needs to be done as soon as possible. 

    Baby Johann's family, however, did not have that much money.

    “I told Joan, [Johann's] mother, that we need to find a way to really gather money. The doctors gave the family until [she reaches] two years [of age]. Usually, after reaching two years old, the chances of saving the kid is really low. He was past one year old back then,” she recalled.

    "I wasn't able to cuddle baby Johann because he was too tiny and fragile. I remembered that he always smiled. Even though he is hurting, he always smiled," she said in mixed Filipino and English. 

    Parcero initially helped spread the word about Johann's plight on social media, encouraging her friends and family to pitch in. 

    "People started sharing it. It gained some traction and then, all of a sudden, people from Bulacan, Pampanga, Isabela and Bicol  wanted to help. They wanted to help, they just did not know how," she said. 

    Collective power

    The movement grew, and she realized that she can harness her hobby for biking to gather more donations for Johann. Eventually, they dubbed the movement "Ride for Life." 

    "I rode 3,000 kilometers. My pledge was I will ride 30 days. Wherever you are in Luzon, if you have something to give for Baby Johann, I will go to you and collect that. The great thing about that was I wasn't alone," she said. 

    She said that biking community started to reach out to her, volunteering to help collect donations from their community. 

    Unfortunately, the first Ride for Life initiative did not have a happy ending. 

    On her 31st day on the road, the day she was scheduled to head home, baby Johann's health drastically deteriorated. The following day, baby Johann died. 

    "We really thought we had time. After that I got depressed. I didn't hold my bike for half a year," Parcero recalled. 

    Moving forward

    A few months after, she realized that there are other kids like baby Johann who need help.

    "There are a lot of opportunities to help and I shouldn't be selfish in thinking that because I failed and Johann died, we can no longer do anything," she said. 

    Around a year after baby Johann's death, they revived Ride for Life in a bid to help more kids. 

    Aside from collecting monetary donations and raising awareness on the different kinds of cancer afflicting kids, she will be dropping by some of the 8 affiliate hospitals of Kythe Foundation for storytelling activities.

    Parcero will dress up as "Tita Beauty" and tell happy stories, hoping to help the kids battle cancer with a smile. The biking community, she said, has already pledged to help. However, she said much more can be done if they involve other people outside the community.

    "We really want for people to know that you can do this – you can visit the hospitals, you can volunteer for Kythe. Whatever help – whether monetary or through your own efforts – you can help,"  she said.

    Just like her brake-less bicycle, there is not stopping Parcero and the Ride for Life initiative. Her dream is to be able to someday bike alongside the kids she will help. Would you come along for the ride? – Rappler.com 

    If you want to help Japo Parcero and the Kythe Organization, visit Ride for Life on Facebook


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    SECOND CHANCES. The products of the social enterprise Yvette's Bags and Beads Collection employs are made my inmates and ex-inmates of the Davao City Jail. All photos by Franz Lopez/Rappler

    DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Christina's sewing machine has been whirring the whole day. Her eyes are fixed on the needle poking a white woven straw of bag. Some hundreds of them are to be shipped to Manila at 6. It is now 4 pm, and the boss sits behind her, reminding everyone that the clock is ticking.

    "Don't wait 'till my eyebrows meet!" the boss raised her voice yet in a sweet manner. It's a usual scene at the factory where Christina works.

    The "ber" months are the peak season for Yvette's Bags and Beads Collection. Apart from shipments for Manila, others will take a long haul to Japan, US, and Italy.

    The bags are made of straw, with designs architected by Yvette Marie Celi Punzalan, who calls herself an accidental businesswoman – a plain girl who makes crafts since dalaga days.

    But the workers at her factory like Christina are no ordinary women.

    A mother of 5, Christina was sentenced to prison for illegal drug possession. She was in jail for 10 years, where waiting for her trial became an excruciating thing.

    Sometimes, when her case is set to be heard, there was no judge. When the judge was present, there was no fiscal. When there was a fiscal, her lawyer wasn't around.

    A second chance

    It was that kind of reality, she said, that made her think her life was at the dead end – until she met Yvette, the woman who found herself teaching female inmates at the Davao City Jail how to weave bags.

    "I like her because she's frank. And she tells it in our face when she does not like something,"  Christina told Rappler in an interview.

    She remembers of the day she and other inmates met Yvette who taught them that a string of plastic used to tie carton boxes – could become fashion bags.

    OWNER. The bags are made of straw, with designs architected by Yvette Marie Celi Punzala, who calls herself an accidental businesswoman – a plain girl who makes crafts since dalaga days.

    Christina, who admittedly had become addicted to alcohol and drugs in her "past" life, became one of those inmates tapped by Yvette to weave the material for the bags. And what they earned would help the inmates send their children to school.

    "Their mother is in jail but she is productive. She can still perform her role as a mother," Punzalan said.

    Their output are then transported to the factory not too far from the jail, where the workers are ex-inmates like Venus Espiritu who was caught selling drugs, and was later set free after 11 years and 4 months.

    "What many people don’t know is that life after prison is hard. Where do we go? Who will accept us?" Espiritu said. 

    Social enterprise

    What started as a hobby became a source of livelihood for women who wondered what their lives would be after spending a long time in jail.

    Yet the woman behind this social enterprise said it is simply a hobby that turned into a business. More than a decade ago, when her bag-making business saw a rise in orders, an idea popped in her mind upon learning that her father's friend works at the Bureau of Jail Management. She asked: what can I do to help?

    "I'm not a businesswoman. I'm just a plain girl who makes crafts since dalaga," Punzalan said. 

    WOVEN BAGS. The 'ber' months are the peak season for Yvette’s Bags and Beads Collection. Their shipments reach as far as Japan, US, and Italy.

    Her mother supported her, and told her to pursue the training.

    "It's not about the business. It's about the friendship I started with them," she added. 

    The former inmates who now work at her factory calls the Davao City Jail a village, where those sent there are simply people in vacation, and their cells are cottages.

    Ma'am Yvette, according to Espiritu, was instrumental to that realization. She believes that people who once broke laws deserve a second chance.

    "I thought that when I was imprisoned, it was the end of everything," she said. 

    Punzalan's bag business is also partner with a Lumad community that supplies her with stocks for a Manila client who exports the products to US, Europe, and Japan.

    Her products are often promoted by the Department of Trade and Industry for her good practices with communities in Mindanao – an edge that she would rather not use to brag about.

    "I want that people would buy the products because I'm doing it with a nice creation," Punzalan said. The advocacy is what she tells later to the clients once they’ve closed the transaction.

    But according to Yvette Punzalan, she will always find it difficult to hide from the spotlight, as her bags not only highlight her passion for her hobby. They also speak a powerful message – that in second chances there is hope. – Rappler.com 

    If you want to avail of Yvette's products, email y_celi@yahoo.com or contact them at 0927660 0447.


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    MANAGING ROADS. An MMDA enforcer manages traffic along EDSA. Photo by Darren Langit/Rappler

    MANILA, Philippines – Maintaining good road conditions, putting up street signs, and going after those who violate traffic rules: these are just some of the things the government needs to do to help ensure road users in the Philippines are safe. 

    One may think the Department of Transportation (DOTr) is solely responsible for this, but road safety is a multi-agency responsibility, with different government departments having their specific roles and functions. For instance, the transportation department and its attached agencies are usually responsible for enforcing road rules and regulations, while it's the public works department that takes charge of the engineering aspect of road management.

    Do you know the difference between the functions and responsibilities of the different agencies governing our roads?

    Land Transportation Office (LTO)

    The LTO is the agency in charge of the issuance of driver's licenses and permits. It administers the exam needed before motorists can get behind the wheel. If a motorist incurs a violation, the LTO can cancel or revoke his or her license.

    The LTO is also in charge of registering motor vehicles nationwide and issuing vehicle license plates. The fees collected for motor vehicle registrations include the motor vehicle user's charge (MVUC), used by the Road Board to fund certain projects.

    The LTO is also involved in the enforcement of traffic rules and regulations, with the authority to confiscate drivers' licenses. It can also tap personnel from other agencies to enforce traffic rules, but only those deputized by the LTO are authorized to confiscate licenses.

    Apprehended motorists can settle their cases or contest the violations in the LTO regional or district office specified in the temporary operator's permit (TOP), which will be issued to the apprehended driver or operator.

    MMDA. A traffic enforcer manages traffic along EDSA. Photo by Darren Langit/Rappler

    Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA)

    While the MMDA is best known for its role in managing traffic, it has a host of other responsibilities as well. Functions under its jurisdiction include those "which have metro-wide impact and transcend local political boundaries" in the capital region.

    Aside from its role of transport and traffic management – such as catching traffic violators or clearing side streets to improve the flow of traffic – the MMDA also has functions in solid waste disposal and management, flood control programs, health and sanitation programs, and public safety programs, such as disaster relief operations.

    MMDA traffic enforcers generally cannot confiscate a driver's license, unless the driver was involved in a traffic accident, has accumulated 3 or more violations, or has been apprehended for violations such as overspeeding or counterflowing, among others

    Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB)

    While the LTO is in charge of drivers' licenses and motor vehicle registrations, the LTFRB's jurisdiction covers vehicles used for public conveyance. It issues certificates of public convenience or permits to public land transportation services – from jeeps, taxis, buses, as well as the new transport network vehicle services like Uber and Grab.

    It is also in charge of regulating and adjusting fares for public transport services, and prescribing or regulating the routes or areas of operation for these services. 

    If a commuter has a complaint against a rude taxi driver, buses that figure in crashes, or other public transport vehicles incurring violations, it's the LTFRB that conducts investigation and hearings.

    In such cases, the LTFRB can mete out penalties such as cancelling franchises. It can also ask the LTO to revoke the licenses of the drivers involved in the traffic violations.

    HPG. Highway Patrol Group personnel manage the traffic at Edsa corner Taft Avenue. Photo by Joel Liporada/Rappler

    Philippine National Police - Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG)

    In an effort to ease the worsening congestion in one of the metro's busiest thoroughfare, the PNP-HPG returned to direct traffic on EDSA in 2015, manning 6 chokepoints with especially heavy traffic. 

    Authorities said then that the presence of the highway police might be more effective in deterring would-be traffic violators. Unlike the MMDA, the HPG can chase after and arrest traffic violators on the spot. 

    Aside from helping direct traffic, one of the HPG's main functions is to go after carnapping cases.

    Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)

    As the engineering and construction arm of the government, it is the DPWH which takes care of planning and implementing infrastructure projects such as the construction of national roads and bridges. It is also involved in the maintenance of national roads, while local roads are under the jurisdiction of local government units.

    The DPWH has to abide by standards in designing roads and other infrastructure to make sure these are safe for all road users. This includes standardizing road signs and pavement markings to comply with international safety standards, as well as removing road hazards or relocating lampposts, electric poles, or other objects that can affect motorists' safety. 

    The DPWH used to maintain the Traffic Accident Recording and Analysis System (TARAS) to identify blackspots where most road crashes occur. The TARAS was established in 2004 to collect road crash data from reports by the Philippine National Police.  

    But it was discontinued in 2013, with the DPWH citing the "very low" confidence level in the quality of data and the logistical challenge of training and re-training PNP officers collecting the road crash data.

    "Since being introduced in 2004, there have been no improvement in data quality of TARAS nor the primary issue of limited coverage on national roads has been addressed and it is unlikely under the current process that the data will be of sufficient coverage or quality to generate reliable statistics at the regional level," the DPWH said in a 2013 department order

    Road Board

    The Road Board was created through Republic Act 8794, which also mandated the collection of MVUC for the maintenance of roads. 

    The Road Board is tasked with the management and use of special funds sourced from the proceeds of the MVUC: the Special Road Support Fund, Special Local Road Fund, Special Road Safety Fund, and Special Vehicle Pollution Control Fund.

    It is composed of 7 members from the DPWH, Department of Finance (DOF), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Department of Transportation (DOTr), and 3 members from transport and motorist organizations.

    The Road Board manages the use of funds for projects submitted by the DPWH and the DOTr, based on the 4 special funds. But the Road Board has long been hounded by allegations of inefficiency and corruption, with the funds prone to misuse and politicization. This has led to repeated calls over the years for the Road Board's abolition.

    Of the 4 special funds, the Special Road Support Fund makes up 80% of the MVUC collections, used for road maintenance of national roads. The Special Local Road Fund and the Special Road Safety Fund, meanwhile, are used for the maintenance of local roads, and the installation of traffic signs, pavement markings, and road safety devices. – Rappler.com


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    HEROES. On October 5, we recognize the great contribution of our teachers in developing the future of our country. File photo by Jose Del/Rappler MANILA, Philippines – About 5,000 teachers from all over the country will gather in Legazpi City in Albay to celebrate the National Teachers’ Day on Thursday, October 5.

    Spearheading the event are Department of Education (DepEd) Sec. Leonor M. Briones and Albay 2nd District Representative Joey Salceda. (READ: LOOK: UST students pay tribute to teachers the grandest way)

    Host DepEd Region V said several famous Metro Manila performers will also hold a concert/tribute dedicated to teachers. 

    Among the highlights of the event is a 'Got Talent' competition among teachers  to be held morning of October 5. 

    Margarita Ballesteros, DepEd's External Partnership Director, said the formal program in the afternoon will conclude the month-long celebration of National Teachers' Month and will highlight the greatness of the most inspiring teachers of the country. (READ: To teachers)

    She said aside from showing gratitude to all the teachers for the sacrifices and efforts that they have made to educate the youth, it was also important for DepEd to make them feel appreciated and happy. (READ: Lola Carmen: The teacher who time forgot)

    The theme for this year’s Teachers’ Day – "Gurong Pilipino, Ka-akbay sa Progreso" –  recognized the role of teachers in honing the full potential of student towards nation-building 

    Then President Benigno Aquino signed Republic Act 10743 declaring every 5th day of October as National Teachers' Day in line with the celebration of International Teachers' Day happening on the same day.(READ: Why not have a National Teachers' Day? – senators

    MovePH, the civic engagement arm of Rappler, encouraged all Filipinos to post a picture of their most favorite teacher and write a simple message with the hashtag #ThankYouTeacher -.Rappler.com 

     


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    OPEN INNOVATION. Metro Manila Civic Innovation fellows assess Marikina River's landscape blueprint with government officials. Photo by Eugena Ossi/Five by Five

    MANILA, Philippines – If given all the resources you need in two weeks, what will you change in the world? 

    Because of its location, Marikina City is prone to both natural disasters – floods due to overflowing rivers or earthquakes – and man-made problems – lack of maternal healthcare or the impermanence of preschool daycare centers.  

    All these and more are challenges Marikina residents face every day. All these they hope will change soon. 

    Five by Five, a Filipino-founded international open innovation group in Paris, organized Metro Manila Civic Innovation Fellowship and picked Marikina, hoping a different perspective may alleviate some of the blight affecting the city residents.

     'Open innovation' is a collaborative and decentralized solution-innovation approach wherein the product or process design is made available for public use and further development.

    Seven city innovators from all over the world flew in to the Philippines to hack Marikina City's biggest problems through open innovation.

    With 'outsider looking in' point of view, these innovators or fellows will immerse themselves, distill, then churn out implementable ideas.

    Fellows were handpicked through series of screenings based on their technical skill sets, experience, interests, and thinking process.

    Preserving Marikina's identity

    Often struck by natural calamities such as earthquakes and massive river floods, Marikina's original plan was to put up a 7-meter tall concrete river wall to reduce disaster risks.  Residents were reluctant of this development as this would hurt the 38-kilometer long Marikina River's natural heritage.

    SEE INSTEAD OF WALL. Fellows on Marikina River Park sparks discussion on the proposed 7-meter high wall along the river by installing a yellow banner of same height. Photo by Eugene Ossi/Five by Five

    Khyati Saraf (landscape designer from India), Niklas Agarwal (environmental coordinator from Canada) and John Jay Amar (landscape architect from the Philippines) proposed ecologically-sound alternatives for the river park's long-term sustainability while preserving its heritage value. 

    The team envisioned a wall-less and walkable river garden park design where large stones are used as overflow barriers and native horticultural crops such as vetiver grass as soil stabilizers – all of these to control river floods while preserving the river's biodiversity and natural scenery. 

    Re-designing preschools afloat

    Being prone to natural hazards, Marikina schools are often relocated due to safety concerns. Adapting to the challenge, schools' permanence continues to rise as funds to repair public schools are often cut

    DISMANTLABLE CHAIR. Fellows on preschool redesign present their corrugated cardboard chair prototype during demo day. Photo by Eugene Ossi/Five by Five

    The solution pitched by architects Lily Summers (USA) and Steven Chua (Philippines) was to create air-tight storage boxes which could be used to keep school materials and dismantlable chairs made from corrugated cardboard.

    In the long-run, they proposed constructing earthquake-resistant school buildings which could also lift itself up during floods up to 4 meters in height.

    Patient-friendly healthcare

    In Marikina City, mothers and their children are given free supplemental healthcare during the child's first five years. However due to continuously increasing population, just like most healthcare centers in the country, the patients outnumber the available healthcare providers. 

    ALAGA KIT. Fellows on maternal healthcare challenge present the contents of the kit to Marikina Mayor Marcelino Teodoro. Photo by Eugene Ossi/Five by Five

    From a process-centered process flow, Pablo Fernández Vallejo (UX designer from Argentina) and Roy Rao (operations strategist from China) sought the need to enhance the healthcare centers' operations through a patient-centric approach.

    The team developed the 'Alaga Kit,' a set of visual materials composed of priority queueing numbers, area sign posters and staff nameplates designed to encourage the patients to follow instructions and lessen their waiting time.

    'Reflecting the constituents' needs'

    Mentored by international experts and guided by government offices, the fellows immersed themselves through oculars and face-to-face interviews with Marikina residents for two weeks while creating the prototypes they presented during the demo day last September 29.

    "What they presented to us were practical solutions that reflected our constituents' needs," said Marikina City Mayor Marcelino Teodoro, referring to the proposals presented during the demo day. 

    Marikina City looks forward to implementing the proposed projects and for more collaborations that render new perspectives for the government to solve its problems. – Rappler.com


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    CAR SEAT. A child car seat system aims to protect the child by reducing the impact during a crash. Photo by Rupert Ambil/Rappler

    MANILA, Philippines – The House Committee on Transportation approved a bill requiring private vehicles to install car seats for children on Monday, September 18. 

    The proposed Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act of 2017 states that it is the policy of the state to ensure the safety of children in any form of a motor vehicle while in transit.

    The bill is still pending in the Senate. 

    While the Philippines has existing legislation mandating the use of seatbelts in cars, it does not guarantee protection for everyone who uses it, especially children and infants. (READ: Seats that save kids’ lives: Why are they rarely used in the Philippines? )

    According to the World Health Organization, the child restraint system can change up to 80% on the risk of injury for children aged 0-4 in a rear-facing restraint. While children aged 0-4 with only a seat belt can change the risk of injury by only 32%.

    A study funded by the World Health Organization, however, showed some concerns and questions people usually ask regarding how effective mandating a child car seat is. 

    Here are some of the most common issues raised and the responses of road safety advocates who support it:

    Why should I get a car seat if it's too expensive?

    The study presented the different price range of child car seats in the country. The average price of a brand new child car seat in the country costs P10,040.68 while a second-hand one costs P4,250. 

    While this is an additional cost, road safety advocates believe that no price is too high to save a child's life. 

    "I don't think any price would equate to a person's life. If you notice, almost everyone [in the country] owns a smartphone. It is almost the same price [with a car seat] but what is at stake here is the life of our children." said Jason Salvador, road safety manager of the Ateneo School of Government.

    Sophia San Luis, a road safety advocate from Imagine Law, said that any family who can afford to purchase a car should be able to purchase a car safety seat.

    "We do not notice it, but we actually pay for safety features we enjoy in our vehicles. We pay for airbags, seatbelts, emergency braking systems or automatic braking systems. These fees are all built into the retail price which we willingly pay for when we purchase a vehicle," she said.

    San Luis added that buying one is only roughly equivalent to a low-end smartphone. This is nothing compared to the child's safety that is at stake. 

    Will it be effective? It's traffic anyway

    "This is only true for metro manila during the day and rush hour, and not even or all its roads. From 12 mn to 4 am when the majority of fatalities happen in Metro Manila, and other metro manila roads that are not congested, fatal road crashes still occur," San Luis said.

    Salvador added, "Admittedly, traffic in our country is something we all have to deal with but we have to remember that the danger can happen even in minimum speed. Sudden or abrupt stoppage of a vehicle even caused by different factors can likewise endanger the child, maybe not fatally but it can surely cause serious injury,"

    Won't it be effective only during long rides?

    Parents who travel in short distances might not recognize the need to purchase a child car seat. However, Salvador reiterates the unpredictability of a road traffic crash.

    "Road mishaps may happen anytime - be it on a long ride or a short trip. Child Seats are effective in both since there is no way of telling when a collision or a sudden stoppage of a vehicle might occur. As they say, it is better to be safe than sorry," he said. 

    Is it worth it if it's only for temporary use? 

    If this requirement passes into a law, a parent will have to buy at least 4 child car seats to match the age categories of their child until they turn 14. 

    CAR SEATS. The different types of car seats for children.

    San Luis cites data from the Philippine Statistics Authority on the number of children who died from road traffic crashes and reminded the responsibility of the parents to give the children the safety measures that they need. (READ: IN NUMBERS: Road crash incidents in the Philippines )

    "If I were a parent, I wouldn't take my chances... The odds are stacked against us when we are on the road and if you wear a seatbelt to protect yourself, I don't think it's fair that you're not giving your child the same protection," said San Luis.

    In arguing for the temporary use of the child car seats, Salvador pointed out how parents buy things that their children use only for short time.

    "Take the case of cribs, playpens, and strollers, these are almost, if not, more-costly than child seats but are being purchased. If we can afford to buy our children these devices for their and our comfort and convenience, surely we can and will buy a device that will not only ensure their comfort and convenience but more importantly their safety," he said.

    It's not a part of our culture. Is it really needed?

    Culturally, most people would prefer to carry their child on their laps since it gives a feeling of security. However, this is not a safe practice. 

    "Scientific studies have shown that carrying children while on the road is more dangerous since a sudden stoppage or road crash would result in more injuries to both since the weight of the adult carrying the child when they are thrown inside the vehicle, will likely contribute to the impact," said Salvador.

    He added, "we often think we do not need certain things until we are placed in a situation wherein we actually need it and we eventually regret not having it,"

    In the Philippines, 636 children died in 2015 due to a road traffic crash. – Rappler.com


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    MANILA, Philippines – The most awaited theme is finally out.

    The official theme of the National Schools Press Conference (NSPC) 2018 is “Embracing ASEAN Integration: Campus journalists' role in advancing inclusive education”.

    Mark Bercando of the Department of Education's (DepED) Bureau of Curriculum Development confirmed to Rappler that the 2018 NSPC will acknowledge the vital role of the campus journalist in promoting comprehensive education for all. 

    ASEAN (or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Integration aims to build a successful and more united ASEAN that has concrete effects on the lives of individuals.

    Ten Southeast Asian countries – the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam – want to improve the lives of their citizens. ASEAN integration makes it quicker to achieve these goals by working together, rather than individually. (READ: Why you should care about ASEAN integration)

    A 2015 study of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the International Labor Organization (ILO) projected that ASEAN integration will generate about 14 million jobs from 2010 to 2025. (READ: PH needs to boost skills training to gain from ASEAN integration)

    Asean integration is expected to be the central topic of young aspiring campus journalists competing in their different categories.

    Dubbed the Olympics of Campus Journalism, NSPC is set to gather the best student-journalists in the country. The 2018 leg of the DepED-led program will be held in Dumaguete City on Februray 19-23. (READ: #NSPC2017: A thousand stories of hard work, hope, and excellence) – Rappler.com

     


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    MANILA, Philippines – Netizens took to social media to lambast Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson for claiming she is a "victim of fake news."

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The queen of fake news spreading fake news that she&#39;s a victim of fake news. That&#39;s several layers down the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FakeZone?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#FakeZone</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Fakeception?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Fakeception</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/mocha?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#mocha</a></p>&mdash; Erwin Po (@erwinpo) <a href="https://twitter.com/erwinpo/status/915463945762123777?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 4, 2017</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Mocha &#39;Queen of Fake News&#39; Uson talking in the senate how she&#39;s a victim of fake news is <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FakeNews?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#FakeNews</a> itself! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/irony?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#irony</a></p>&mdash; Miss Krizzy (@krizzy_kalerqui) <a href="https://twitter.com/krizzy_kalerqui/status/915414705232945152?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 4, 2017</a></blockquote>

    <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

    {source}

    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The Philippines was divided because of Mocha Uson. The queen of fake news and the queen of hatred. <a href="https://t.co/BDoYbmYdzQ">https://t.co/BDoYbmYdzQ</a></p>&mdash; elainecedillo (@elainecedillo) <a href="https://twitter.com/elainecedillo/status/915438726276276224?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 4, 2017</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">How can PCOO deal with <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FakeNews?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#FakeNews</a>? Maybe they can start with firing Mocha Uson. She is fake news herself.</p>&mdash; Vanie Fontanilla (@vaniefontanilla) <a href="https://twitter.com/vaniefontanilla/status/915405501696847874?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 4, 2017</a></blockquote>

    <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

    {source}

    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">&quot;Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.&quot; Right Mocha Uson, Queen of <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FakeNews?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#FakeNews</a>??</p>&mdash; 순셍님 크리스 (@cryslynmayalto) <a href="https://twitter.com/cryslynmayalto/status/915483130068320256?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 4, 2017</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="tl" dir="ltr">Si Nancy yung friend natin na binubully pero hindi rin naman talaga nagpapatalo sa Fake news queen named Mocha Uson! Hahaha! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FakeNewsProbe?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#FakeNewsProbe</a> <a href="https://t.co/z6Z0LaFW7S">pic.twitter.com/z6Z0LaFW7S</a></p>&mdash; Jeff Jocson (@kayjjtayo) <a href="https://twitter.com/kayjjtayo/status/915457740322902017?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 4, 2017</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

    Uson, who has been caught spreading inaccurate and wrong information on her Facebook page and blog even after she was given a government post, made the claim during the Senate hearing on fake news on Wednesday, October 4.

    'Andito ako para suportahan ang hearing na ito dahil ako po ay biktima ng fake news (I am here to support this hearing because I am a victim of fake news),” Uson said in the hearing.

    Uson said mainstream media reports on her "appointment" as Customs consultant for social media made rounds on August 2016. She said the reports drew flak from netizens and she was "bashed online."

    'Peddlers of fake news'

    However, some online users were disappointed with the Senate for inviting Uson, Thinking Pinoy blogger RJ Nieto, and other supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte, suggesting that the resource speakers are "peddlers of fake news":

    Senators earlier raised this issue against Uson, with Senator Nancy Binay saying the battle against fake news is difficult because of the dancer turned government official. (READ: Asec Mocha Uson herself spreads fake news, says Nancy Binay)

    Meanwhile, other online users noted that Uson is bound by the Code of Ethics for government officials. They also expressed disgust that their taxes are being used to pay for Uson's salary.

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">When you realized your taxes are being used for the sustainability of Mocha Uson&#39;s &quot;blogging&quot;<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FakeNews?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#FakeNews</a> <a href="https://t.co/BO3l84gay1">pic.twitter.com/BO3l84gay1</a></p>&mdash; Shady Music PH (@ShadyMusicPH) <a href="https://twitter.com/ShadyMusicPH/status/915427315223371781?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 4, 2017</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">i mourn for the taxes i have to pay para lang may maipasweldo kay mocha uson :(</p>&mdash; m  (@momowni) <a href="https://twitter.com/momowni/status/915467829087952896?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 4, 2017</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Mocha Uson is an assistant secretary. She is employed by the government. We pay her with our taxes. She is not just a &quot;celebrity.&quot;</p>&mdash; Jasmine Shewakramani (@jasshewakramani) <a href="https://twitter.com/jasshewakramani/status/915453261791895552?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 4, 2017</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

    {source}

    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Thanks for the reminder Now everytime I&#39;ll look at my payslip, I&#39;ll see a &quot;For Mocha&quot; above my taxes. God bless us and the Philippines!</p>&mdash; Love Fabros (@lovebidubs) <a href="https://twitter.com/lovebidubs/status/915483168932638720?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 4, 2017</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

    {source}

    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">&quot;I invoke my right against self-discrimination!&quot; - Mocha Uson<br><br>- and this is where my taxes go</p>&mdash; Rui Snail (@ruimanalo) <a href="https://twitter.com/ruimanalo/status/915439795140124672?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 4, 2017</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

    As the assistant secretary for social media, Uson receives a monthly gross salary of at least P106,454, plus allowances and bonuses.

    At least 6 petitions against Uson have been posted on Change.org, all calling for her ouster or for the suspension of her controversial online site. In August, #FireMocha topped local Twitter trends, with netizens saying that "they deserve better" than Uson, who was appointed to government as payment for supporting Duterte's candidacy.

    Here are other reactions to the Senate hearing on fake news:

    {source}<a class="twitter-timeline" href="https://twitter.com/rapplerdotcom/timelines/915440308497686528?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#FakeNews - Curated tweets by rapplerdotcom</a> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></script>{/source}

    Hashtags #Mocha and #FakeNews were top trending topics in the Philippines on Wednesday.  – Rappler.com


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    FIRE-SAW. Dumagats demonstrate how they create fire by rubbing two pieces of bamboo. Photo by Aika Rey/Rappler

    BULACAN, Philippines – Have you ever imagined yourself living in a place without electricity?

    Living in the uplands, the Dumagat tribe in Norzagaray town in Bulacan province is among the 16 million Filipinos who have no access to electricity.

    Now, the tribe has a source of electricity and that's through cooking.

    In 2016, Team Carding, a group of engineering students from the Mapua University, won the Sikat Design Challenge, a renewable energy contest focused on solutions for rural areas.

    Team Carding developed Bathalaa stove that converts released heat energy to electrical energy while cooking.

    All-in-one stove

    In Philippine mythology, Bathala is the creator.

    Dumagats now identify the word with an innovation that makes their lives easier.

    The community now uses the all-in-one stove to cook and boil water. It has also become their main source of electric power.

    Back in the days, Dumagats rub two pieces of bamboo to start fire for cooking. When they need to speed up burning, the community of about 200 people rely on cheap kerosene.

    Team Carding project lead Jeremy De Leon explained that the stove needs to be loaded with water first. Only then could they can start a fire by using dry wood.

    Built with two working stoves, De Leon said that Bathala could generate 80 watts of power. "It can light up 8 bulbs simultaneously," he said in Filipino.

    According to him, the community can create electric power as long as they use the stove for cooking. "As long as nagluluto sila, may kuryente sila. (As long as they are cooking, they will have electricity)," he said.

    Electric power

    Team Carding used a thermoelectric generator module to facilitate the process. These are solid-state devices that convert thermal energy directly into electrical energy through temperature differences.

    DEMO. Team Carding showed the community how the Bathala stove works. Photo by Aika Rey/Rappler

    The group installed a battery within the stove to prevent energy loss. "There is a battery inside for storage of energy so they can still use it even when they are not cooking," project member Alsus Adiaton said in a mix of English and Filipino.

    According to Adiaton, the stove also has a power inverter inside to supply electricity needed for electronics such as a small fan or speakers used by the community. It also has bulbs which they could turn on when it gets dark.

    The group designed Bathala as a communal stove. Adiaton said that the Dumagats use large pots for cooking especially during festivals.

    Hope for Dumagats

    Bathala has always been seen as a provider.

    Brother Martin Francisco, the community organizer, hopes that the stove can create livelihood for the Dumagats.

    "The Dumagats have always lived in poverty. Now, with Bathala, it could be used for selling banana cue sticks, or perhaps as a charging station for visitors. The community can earn extra with that," he said in Filipino.

    "We could be a tourist spot now," he jokingly said.

    More importantly, the Dumagats will no longer have to suffer from respiratory sickness due to excessive use of kerosene for energy, he said.

    "A lot (of people) from the community inhale smoke and get sick because of that. Some here even have tuburculosis already," he said.

    Rural electrification

    Rural electrification has always been a challenge in the country especially in towns located in islands and mountains.

    On Tuesday, October 3, Team Carding turned over the stove to the Dumagats. This is one community less from those without access to electric power.

    "Marami pa ring nagsisiga dahil kulang sila sa pera. So bakit hindi natin solusyunan?" Adiaton asked.

    (A lot of communities still use firewood to cook because they lack money. Why don't we create solutions?)

    In 2015, about 5,000 villages across the Philippines did not have access to electricity. (READ: Green energy to help in ‘last mile’ of PH rural electrification)

    The government seeks to light up 90% of homes in the country by the end of 2017, but it is still a far-fetched goal. – Rappler.com


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    CAMPUS REPRESSION. Student leaders from different universities including the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) decry alleged campus repression. Photo by Danielle Nakpil/Rappler

    MANILA, Philippines - Student leaders from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) are clashing over whether there is a crackdown on student institutions in the state university.

    The PUP student council refuted claims of Left-leaning students organizations in PUP like Anakbayan  that the rights of their constituents are under attack.

    “Anakbayan is clearly lying through their teeth,” the student council said in a statement.

    With the supposed goal of curtailing the student’s democratic rights, Anakbayan earlier claimed that the school administration removed the student regent and took over school publications, among other concerns. (READ: Are PUP students’ rights under attack?)

    “We categorically deny the claim that the Central Student Council, with the blessing of the administration, removed former student regent Karl Paulie Anareta,” according to Elijah San Fernando, President of the ANAK-PUP Student Council Federation and the newly appointed student regent.

    San Fernando explained that by virtue of one of the provisions of the RA 8292 or  the Higher Education Modernization Act (HEMA), former student regent Anareta was disqualified from the post because he was not enrolled in the university.

    The student council led by San Fernando organized the election of the 19th ANAK-PUP officers, including the new student regent, on September 23 to 24.

    It was supposedly during this congress where 25 out of 35 of its members voted in favor of San Fernando, a member of the political party PUP SPEAK,  to represent the PUP student body in the BOR, the university’s highest decision-making body.

    Mismanaged funds?

    The PUP student council also belied Anakbayan’s claim that the administration ordered “the takeover of campus student publications through an administration office called Student Publication Section.”

    It suggested that funds of the The Catalyst, the official student publication of PUP, have been mismanaged.

    “With regard to the issue of campus publications, there is a standing ‘no liquidation, no release’ policy of the University in line with the 2012 Commission on Audit Report,” the student council said.

    It claimed that the policy was created because of the alleged “massive unliquidated funds incurred by The Catalyst and the past student council administrations led by the SAMASA Party Alliance which amounted to P3,494,984.00.” SAMASA Party Alliance, which previously ruled the student council, is the rival political party of PUP SPEAK.

    The student council also noted that other campus publications like the Engineering Spectrum and Business Torch are still operating.

    In an earlier interview, PUP President Emmanuel De Guzman, explained that the Student Publication Section will resolve the tendency of the student paper to turn into an echo chamber, ensuring quality output from the campus paper.

    'No martial law in PUP'

    The PUP student council also belied claims of activists that “truckloads of anti-riot policemen” were deployed to PUP during and after the nationwide anti-tyranny protest on September 21. (READ: Thousands join protest to remind Filipinos of Marcos' Martial Law)

    “The PUP System is not in a state of anarchy. Contrary to the malicious claims, there is no martial rule in PUP,” San Fernando said.

    Activists earlier said that the PUP students are protesting against the alleged “tyrannical” and “Marcosian” tendencies of their school officials, suggesting that they are being targeted by Malacanang through the PUP administration.

    “We believe Malacanang and its agents are behind these attacks aimed at terrorizing Iskolars ng Bayan,” SAMASA PUP chairperson Rejohn Modesto said.

    The state-run university is known as a bastion of student activism in the country. – With a report from Danielle Nakpil/Rappler.com


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    MANILA, Philippines – Do you know how fast you should drive in your area?

    Speeding is identified by the World Health Organization as one of the main problems that contribute to road crash-related injuries worldwide.

    Speed limits are set under Republic Act (RA) No. 4136 or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code which mandates the allowable speed limits on open country roads, city and municipal streets, and thoroughfares.

    The problem with the law is since it was enacted more than 5 decades ago, the speed limits set on some roads may be outdated already. (READ: What's lacking in our road safety laws?)

    In one of the provisions of RA No. 7160 or the Local Government Code, local government units (LGUs) have the mandate to "exercise all powers granted to it in order to promote health and safety, among others."

    The Local Government Code also empowers cities and municipalities to enact ordinances to regulate the use of its streets and to regulate traffic. (READ: What you need to know about speed limits in the Philippines)

    Here's a rundown of LGUs with their own speed limit ordinances:

    Luzon

    Bataan

    Orani

    Batangas

    Bauan

    Benguet 

    La Trinidad

     

    Bicol

    Legazpi

    Cavite

    Bacoor

    Carmona

    Dasmariñas

    Indang

    Tagaytay

    Ilocos Norte

    Currimao

    Dingras

    Ilocos Sur

    Tagudin

    Vigan

    Metro Manila

    Makati (Bel-Air)

    Mandaluyong

    Muntinlupa

    Muntinlupa (Alabang)

    Pasay

    San Juan

    Taguig

    Quezon City (San Antonio)

    Rizal

    Cardona

    Taytay

    Tarlac

    Moncada

    Nueva Vizcaya

    Villaverde

    Pangasinan

    Bani

    Malasiqui

    San Manuel

    Nueva Ecija

    Cuyapo

    Quezon

    Candelaria

    Zambales

    San Felipe

    Visayas

    Aklan

    Balete

    Bohol

    Maribojoc

    Cebu 

    Cebu City

    Iloilo

    Oton

    Iloilo City

    Leyte

    Kananga

    Negros Occidental

    Bacolod

    San Carlos

    Palawan

    Puerto Princesa

    Mindanao

    Cagayan de Oro

    Cotabato

    Kidapawan

    Davao City

    General Santos

    General Santos (Baluan)

    Maguindanao

    Upi

    Misamis Occidental

    Misamis Occidental – Speed Limit Ordinance

    Misamis Occidental – Road Safety Ordinance

    Misamis Occidental – Towing Ordinance

    Oriental Mindoro

    Naujan

    Sultan Kudarat

    Lebak

    – Rappler.com

    ImagineLaw is a non-stock, non-profit public interest law organization that aims to foster and promote human development through public policy development and advocacy, research, and knowledge and capacity building.


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    FAKE NEWS. Thinking Pinoy blogger RJ Nieto, also a consultant at the Department of Foreign Affairs, appeared at the Senate hearing on fake news online. Photo by Rappler

    MANILA, Philippines – The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) called Thinking Pinoy blogger Rey Joseph Nieto a "barefaced liar" following the Senate hearing on fake news and misinformation online on Wednesday, October 4.

    Nieto, a consultant at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), cited during the hearing his earlier claim that photojournalist Jes Aznar endangered the lives of soldiers fighting in Marawi for his "live updates" on social media.

    In a statement, the NUJP called out Nieto for "attempting to resurrect his utterly discredited accusation" and said that there is no place for the likes of him in the government. (READ: Propaganda war: Weaponizing the internet)

    "We say, let him be accountable himself. There is no place in government – or in the field of professional communications, for that matter – for barefaced liars," the statement said.

     

    The NUJP also slammed Nieto for omitting facts during the hearing by making it appear that his criticism of Aznar is "a benign reminder to an errant journalist."

    "Nieto made it appear that what he did was a benign reminder to an errant journalist instead of the hate-filled and, worst of all, totally false rant that it was. And while he did mention that his followers had been 'angered' by what Aznar supposedly did, he omitted the fact that his lies had unleashed a barrage of harassment and threats against the respected photojournalist," the statement said.

    On June 16, Nieto wrote on his Facebook page that Aznar's post "revealed positions of government soldiers" during an encounter against the local terrorist group Maute in Marawi City.

    Nieto also told Aznar that he may be "served a warrant of arrest anytime" due to his actions as the President declared Martial Law in Mindanao.

    Joel Egco, the Presidential Task Force on Media Security Undersecretary and Executive Director, refuted Nieto's allegations of arrest. Nieto called Egco "traitor in Malacanang" for clearing Aznar's name.

    'Proof of fake news'

    Meanwhile, Aznar said that Nieto repeating his claims during the Senate hearing is "proof of fake news."

    "His use of this issue at the Senate hearing is proof enough that he is spreading fake news," Aznar said in a Facebook post.

    Aznar is a photojournalist who shoots for Getty Images, whose clients include the New York Times. He said that he is still in close coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

    "If Nieto’s accusations of endangering the troops were true, why is the AFP still allowing me to cover on the ground, and why is it until now there are no sanctions against me, especially if Mindanao is under a state of martial law?" he said.

    Citing his consultancy job at the DFA, Aznar said: "If he is so good at military analysis, why is he with the DFA and not the AFP or DND?" (READ: State-sponsored hate: The rise of the pro-Duterte bloggers)

    The NUJP also said that Nieto's statements under oath could earn him a perjury charge or a contempt citation.

    "That Nieto did all this under oath should have earned him a perjury charge or a contempt citation at the very least. That he did so as a consultant of the DFA, paid with the people’s money, makes it a hundred times worse," the statement said.

    "Indeed, that the DFA even considered taking him in says much of how low the standards of governance have sunk and how much premium quality service to the people means to the government," it added.

    Nieto, a known pro-Duterte blogger, has over 691,000 followers on Facebook and receives thousands of likes, shares, and comments on his posts daily.

    He was hired as a social media consultant at the DFA headed by Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano. The former senator was Duterte's running mate in 2016.– Aika Rey/Rappler.com


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