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    MANILA, Philippines – March is Women's Month, and while we tend to honor the likes of our mothers and grade school teachers (as we should; they are awesome!), we have to remember that the roles of women have moved far beyond just motherhood and schooling!

    In 2018, the roles of women in society have expanded to virtually any movement and any industry, and many outstanding women have stepped up to prove that they can do amazing things – and then some!

    Here are some stories of women who truly inspire us. We hope reading about them can make your day brighter! 

    - Rappler.com/Ilustrations by Raffy de Guzman 

     

     

     

     

     

     

     


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    MODERN NANAY. Breastfeeding advocate Nadine Gadia Casiño says a woman is neither defined by how well she cooks nor by how clean their home is, a woman is defined by how she is different. Photo from Nadine Gadia Casiño.

    MANILA, Philippines – Motherhood, as they say, is the most terrible and most wonderful experience. For first-time moms, it can be full of anxiety and pressure – thinking about whether you'll be able to raise your child properly. (READ: A new mom's thoughts on postpartum depression)

    It has become the advocacy of Nadine Angelica Gadia Casiño, founder of Modern Nanays of Mindanao (MNM), to not let any mother be alone in their journey.

    The 27-year-old young mom of two kids from Cagayan de Oro City was the reason behind the 11,000-member mothers' support group in Mindanao.

    Modern Nanays of Mindanao advocates for natural infant and young child care which she believes is sustainable and is the best foundation for the child's lifelong health

    Today, Modern Nanays of Mindanao has expanded from Cagayan de Oro City to nearby towns in Iligan and Bukidnon.

    An empowered woman

    Nadine is a professional care provider. Prior to founding Modern Nanays of Mindanao, she earned her degree in Nursing from Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan and became a registered nurse in 2010.

    She defines a woman as a "giver of life" that is made to bear mental, physical, and emotional stress "no man can ever bear." Although innately strong, mighty, and limitless – sometimes, she said, a woman's full potential is not reached because opportunities are taken away by life itself.

    Nadine became a mom in 2012 to her first child Raelene Cerise. She pursued her Master's degree in Nursing Science concurrently at the Liceo de Cayagan University.

    Becoming a mom did not stop her from earning her degree. In fact, she wore her child to school persistently.

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    Baby wearing as a practice is nothing new. Traditionally in the Philippines, the practice of baby-wearing usually employs the use traditional malong fabric into a baby sling for easier carriage.

    After she graduated that same year, she founded Modern Nanays of Mindanao. When asked about the reason she founded the organization, she said: "...to empower women, and to make more superwomen."

    Mom for moms

    Admittedly, the force that drove the conception of Modern Nanays of Mindanao are her close friends – Meg and Maple. When they were new mothers, she felt the need for support – knowing what activities and things might be risky for their babies' health.

    "We started as a group of friends from college... We all gave birth at the same time so we shared experiences with each other. We found something special with the kind of support we got," she said.

    As a young mother, she believed in natural child care – where the mother and the child to stays together at all times. But ultimately, she founded Modern Nanays of Mindanao to support mothers by helping them find their own identity as a mom. 

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    "When you become a mom, you become a new person. What would you want to be as a mom? How can you be that mom? We help them find a reference from the community and share values," she explained.

    Through groups they call tribes, mothers share best practices focusing on 3 key child care practices: breastfeeding, babywearing, and cloth-diapering – answers to a baby's need for mother's milk, warmth, and undivided presence.

    A woman of action

    For Nadine, a woman is "neither defined by how well she cooks nor by how clean their home is, a woman is defined by how she is different."

    In her early days leading Modern Nanays of Mindanao, conforming to being the "normal mother" one could expect was a struggle for her. Gathering support from the local government was also a huge endeavor as they were skeptical regarding her group, as she was a young mom at the age of 22.

    Despite setbacks, Modern Nanays of Mindanao was active during the time of Marawi siege on serving those affected by the crisis. For more than months, relief packs such as noodles and canned goods kept coming but without any items meant to attend needs of babies and mothers.

    As mothers, it was apt for the group to crowsource and distribute malong care packs – composed of toiletries, sanitary pads, baby wipes, baby clothes, and baby diapers. 

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    For her outstanding leadership work with the Modern Nanays of Mindanao, Nadine was recognized as one of Department of Tourism's Women of Significance last year. 

    WOMAN OF SIGNIFICANCE. Nadine Casino receives her award with daughter and Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo. Photo from Nadine Casiño

    "When you do things well and from the heart, people will see it... you will stand out. You can't dim a light that is shining," she said.

    She hopes that her work can inspire more women to be more than a housewife. – Rappler.com


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    QUALITY EDUCATION. During the sidelines of the congress organized by COCOPEA, Fr. Joel Tabora of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines emphasizes the need for the private and public educational sector to work together in providing quality tertiary education. Photo by Raisa Serafica

    MANILA, Philippines – Should the government also help fund higher private education? 

    If members of the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA) were to be asked, the answer is yes. 

    “The day when government will only fund state universities or colleges should be ended because of the complementarity between public and private universities. We believe that as the public university grows and develops, so must the government help the private sector to help and develop," Fr Joel Tabora, Ateneo de Davao and Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines president, said on the sidelines of the congress organized by COCOPEA, held March 15 to 16.

    As the government implements the law to provide free tuition at state universitiesnext schoolyear, COCOPEA said the government should also support private educational sector in delivering quality education. (READ: 8 things you need to know about the free tuition law

    In January 2017, COCOPEA which serves as the "unifying voice of the private educational sector," submitted its proposed legislation on Free Private Higher Education. which seeks to fund private education through a voucher system. 

    President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act No 10931 in August 2017, providing free tuition for students of 112 state universities and colleges (SUCs)CHED is to release the implementing rules and regulations of the law on March 26. (READ: CHED OIC vows to finish free tuition law IRR by February 22)

    While discussion how the government should help the private educational sector, COCOPEA President Pio Baconga expressed his opposition to moves in Congress to amend the Constitution, particularly on changing the provision on the tax exemption given to non-profit private colleges.  

    “There might be amendments on the education side of the Constitution. We are really pursuing the retention of such provision in all its content or even enhance it better especially,” Baconga said.

    Through Revenue Memorandum Order (RMO) 44-2016, non-stock and non-profit schools are granted tax relief under the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC).

    To enjoy tax relief, private higher education institutions (HEIs) need to prove that they are organized as non-stock and nonprofit entities, and that their income or revenue is solely used for educational purposes.   Rappler.com

     


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    TERRORIST TAG. The UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli Corpuz, is included in the Philippine government's list of terrorists, along with CPP members. File photo by Orlando Sierra/AFP

    MANILA, Philippines — United Nations (UN) Environment head Erik Solheim voiced concern after the Philippine government tagged UN special rapporteur Victoria Tauli Corpuz and indigenous people's rights advocate Joan Carling as "terrorists."

    Corpuz is UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples while Carling is a focal person for the Indigenous Peoples Major Group for Sustainable Development.

    "These charges must be dropped immediately, and support provided for the legitimate activities of these individuals who have UN mandates, and the civil society organizations with which they work," Solheim said a statement dated March 15. 

    "The shrinking space available to independent people to carry out legitimate work and to speak on behalf of many voiceless indigenous and local communities globally is an issue that must be addressed through increasing openness and participation," added the UN Environment chief.

    Like UN Environment, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) also urged Duterte and other officials "to immediately annul this unacceptable action and to issue apologies and regrets to all concerned."

    Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment welcomed these pronouncements from UN Environment and IUCN.

    "We fear this terror-listing might be aimed at systematically dismantling the strongest corridors of resistance against natural resource plunder and wholesale land grabs,” explained Kalikasan national coordinator Leon Dulce. 

    The Department of Justice earlier issued a list of 461 names and 188 aliases to be declared "terrorists," including alleged leaders and members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA). Duterte has sent mixed messages about resuming peace talks with communists. –Rappler.com


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     SEEDS OF HOPE. Sunflower farm in Tiaong, Quezon plants seeds of hope for PWDs. Photo by Empoy Soriano

    QUEZON, Philippines – More than just a business, a sunflower farm in Tiaong, Quezon empowers persons with disabilities (PWDs) by providing sustainable livelihood.

    “We need to change the mindset that persons with disabilities are limited and that they can’t do anything,” said Sunshine Farm owner Rhodora Palomar-Fresnedi.

    Farm manager Ben Villanueva, 44, who has polio, said his earnings from the Sunshine Farm helps him send his child to school. The farm also helps improve the lives of PWDs in Tiaong. 

     
     
    HOPE. Farm manager Ben Villanueva hopes that more establishments will provide livelihood to PWDs. Photo by Empoy Soriano

    “Sa amin pong may kapansanan, dati walang trabaho ‘yung iba sa amin at ngayon nabibigyan na kami ng pagkakataon. Malaking tulong din ang kinikita ko para mapag-aral ang aking anak,” Villanueva said. 

    (For persons with disabilities like us, Sunshine Farm provides livelihood opportunties. My earnings is also a big help in sending my child to school.)

    For him, Sunshine Farm serves as a hope for many PWDs in their town.

    "Ang Sunshine Farm ay isang pag-asa na nagbibigay pagkakataon sa tulad naming may kapansanan na magkapag-trabaho. Sana maging example ito sa iba pang business establishments na magbigay ng pagkakataon sa mga may kapansanan," Villanueva said. 

    (Sunshine Farm is hope which gives livelihood opportunities to persons with disabilities like us. I wish more business establishments would provide opportunities to persons with exceptionalities.)

    Inclusion and diversity

    The idea of putting up a sunflower farm came from Rhodora's love for flower arrangement and advocacy for inclusion. 

    “I champion for inclusion and diversity. If we truly believe in something (such as) championing a cause for a marginalized group, we always have to be clear with our intention,” Rhodora said. 

    As far back as 2011, she recalled that her friend, who has a child with down syndrome, decided to leave the country to migrate in the U.S. because of the opportunities for PWDs there. 

    “I’ve always drawn to people who are marginalized. Why go? Why we not build a more inclusive Philippines so that by the time her child is 18, there will be more opportunities to people like them,” she recounted.

    This was the turning point for her to start Sunshine Farm and give back to the country by putting out something that aims for a greater good especially for people with exceptionalities.

    Rhodora believes that if she works with PWDs, she will become better at doing it for other marginalized sectors like LGBT.

    “It's like a practice run for me. It's difficult to deal with PWDs. If I can do it with them, I can certainly do things with other vulnerable sectors,” she explained. 

    When she and her husband finally decided to move in the Philippines in 2017 for good, Rhodora had a talk with a local organization, the Samahan ng mga Isinusulong ang mga Kakayanan ng mga may Kapansanan (SIKAP), concerning PWDs in Quezon. They then acted on her plan of building a more inclusive community.

    FRONT DESK. Farm manager Ben Villanueva (R) mans the receiving area of Sunshine Farm. Photo by Bonz Magsambol/Rappler

    According to her, the challenge with PWDs is that they do things alone. She believes, however, there is power in doing everything together as a community.

    "Each one of us has a unique capability and we need to find the environment where it will best fit that and harness that,” Rhodora said. 

    Symbolizes hope, happiness

    Dressed with a long red floral skirt, Rhodora was all smiles as she greeted visitors on a Sunday morning.

    “How can you not smile with the sunflowers. If you have thousands of sunflowers in a plot, you literally have thousands of them smiling at you,” Rhodora said with delight. 

    INSTAGRAM-WORTHY. Sunflowers bloom in Sunshine Farm perfect for your Instagram feed.

    With only five months of operations as of posting, the farm has already attracted thousands of locals and people from neighboring towns and provinces to visit the field of smiling sunflowers.

    The sunflower farm initially planted 4,000 seeds in November 2017, without any plans of selling them but as photos on social media went viral, visitors asked her if they could buy flowers.

    “The photos went viral and then we sold sunflowers. But then at some point, pinatigil ko rin (I stopped selling) because I want more people to enjoy the beauty of the sunflower field. We continue planting sunflowers until we maintained enough number of flowers for sale,” Rhodora shared. 

    The farm charges P100 as entrance fee which covers an 8:00-5:00 pm visit while a piece of sunflower costs around P150 to P200 depending on the size and variety.

    Asked about why she chose sunflower among others, Rhodora said: “Sunflowers are happy flowers. You can just look at them and they seem to be smiling at you.”

    The sunflowers, she added, "perfectly symbolizes hope, so in a sense Sunshine Farm is planting seeds of hope.”

    According to Rhodora, “if we want to be a competitive country, we have to embrace everyone and harness whatever talent they have.” 

    In celebration of the National Women’s month, she advises advocates like her to continue fighting for the common good so other people will come forward.

    “If our intentions are pure, and if our dreams are big and we’re courageous enough to put it out there. People come, resources come, and people would the same interest, passion, and advocacy come together.”

    HAPPY FLOWER. Farm owner Rhodora Fresnedi says Sunflowers perfectly symbolizes hope and happiness. Photo by Empoy Soriano

    She also believes people should fight for gender equality as labeling hinders others in reaching their full potential. “The time has come that we should not be thinking of gender because the more we define, the more we exclude," she said. – Rappler.com


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    ENGAGED. Junior high school students from Bulua National High School gather in front of PeaceKwela's Peace Info Booth in their school. Photo from PeaceKwela

    CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines — When students stand for peace, they start in school.

    In February, a team of development communication students from Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan launched PeaceKwela, a social marketing campaign that pushes for peace in Mindanao. The campaign involves junior high school students as main participants and collaborators.

    "PeaceKwela started as a requirement for our social marketing class in the first semester (June to October) last year," said development communication student Karlo Jess Abecia, the campaign's team leader.

    Since its launch, PeaceKwela has visited local schools and installed Peace Info Booths, where volunteers hand out bookmarks, post-it stamps, stickers, and dove-shaped paper strips so that students can write their messages.

    "I believe that through my action, I can make peace in Mindanao," a student wrote on a paper strip.

    At the same time, PeaceKwela's Facebook page constantly posts positive messages and daily tips as well.

    Beyond Mindanao

    Organizers aim to extend the campaign to the rest of Mindanao, if not the entire Philippines, using social media. 

    "Mindanao is currently traumatized by what Marawi had undergone last year, as well as the extension of Martial Law," Abecia said. "But PeaceKwela is here to supplement the idea that peace among ourselves is attainable in our own little way."

    In summer, organizers of PeaceKwela will conduct "Camp KaliNOW!" for student leaders who will  represent their schools. It will provide training for the participants to conduct parallel activities. 

    From the lack of peace-building initiatives comes an emerging platform that will provide opportunities for students to offer what Mindanao needs. Despite its tribulations last year, Mindanao is on its way to recovery. The campaign paves the path where students, as young as they are, can take the lead. — Rappler.com

    Angelo Lorenzo is one of Rappler’s lead movers in Cagayan de Oro City. A graduate of development journalism from Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan, he currently works in the city's local government unit, and writes on the sidelines.


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    Local sectors, workers show support to the transport sector's call against jeepney phase out in España, Manila. Photo by Maria Tan/Rappler

    MANILA, Philippines –  Led by transport group Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston), the first nationwide transport strike began at exactly 12:01 am on Monday, March 19, in Metro Manila and in different provinces.

    According to George San Mateo, president of Piston, the nationwide protest was supported by almost 65-75% of militant groups as of 11:24am. 

    The group reiterated that they support the modernization or rehabilitation of public utility vehicles (PUV), but not the direct phase-out of jeepneys.

    "Ito pong modernisasyon ang tinututulan namin, kasi mawawalan po kami ng kabuhayan kapag pinagpatuloy nila ang pagtanggal samin sa kalsada. Ang totoo po niyan ilan beses na po kami nakipagdayalogo sa kanila, hindi naman po tayo hinaharap ng maayos, kasi nakatutok lang sila sa phase-out," Piston vice president Ruel Obligar told Rappler.

    (We condemn the modernization because we will lose our jobs. The truth is that we already had a dialogue with the authorities but they don't talk to us properly, maybe because they're really focus on the phase-out)

    They also appealed for public support and understanding. (WATCH: Abala ba ang transport strike?)

    Government vehicles were deployed for commuters that will be affected by the strike.

    Below are some photos of the protest in Manila:

    Cubao

    Piston's president George San Mateo calls for support and understanding from the public. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

    Gabriela Alliance members show support to drivers, operators in today's transport strike. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

    QCPD placed around 20-30 police on full alert during the transport strike protest in Aurora Blvd, Cubao, Quezon City. Photo by Abigail Abigan/Rappler

    A member of Piston gives handouts to fellow jeepney drivers. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

    Members of Piston arrived infront of Cubao Elementary School around 6:00am. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

    España

    Local sectors, workers show support to the transport sector's call against jeepney phase out in España, Manila. Photo by Maria Tan/Rappler

    'Jeepney Modernization - peke at pahirap!' says ALSA Jeep. Photo by Maria Tan/Rappler

    Caloocan

    Workers join the transport strike protest in Caloocan. Photo by Maria Tan/Rappler

    Militant groups gather in Caloocan to show support in drivers, operators call in jeepney phaseout. Photo by Maria Tan/Rappler

     

    Rappler.com


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    BARRED. Several students are kept in a holding area in the House of Representatives for two hours, keeping them from attending the free education rules hearing. Photo from CEGP Facebook page

    MANILA, Philippines — Several student leaders and campus journalists were barred from the public hearing on the implementing rules of the law on free education in state colleges at the House of Representatives on Monday, March 19.

    The students were locked inside a holding room in the House to keep them from attending the hearing. They were only allowed to leave the room, where they were guarded by House security, after the hearing.

    The College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) posted the video showing students inside the holding area banging the doors of the room, demanding to be allowed to attend the hearing, as well as their heated interaction with House authorities when they were finally allowed to leave.

    As of posting, the video garnered over 4,000 views.

    It was supposed to be a public hearing on Free Education and Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Committee on Higher Technical Education (CHTE) but only a few selected students were allowed to attend it.

    House authorities also prohibited representatives of student publications from covering the event. (READ: Why campus journalists should go beyond classrooms)

    Ruth Lumibao, legislative staff of Kabataan party list, told Rappler in a phone interview that they waited for more than two hours in the holding room only to find out that they had been locked inside. She said that it was the CHTE who gave the orders to halt the participation of students in the hearing.

    "Kasi 1:30 pm dapat 'yung meeting, pero around 3:30 pm nandoon pa rin sa holding room 'yung mga leaders and student guests. Ayaw sila palipatin actually nagstart na pala 'yung hearing. Doon na kami nagtanong kung bakit ayaw pa rin kami palipatin. Sabi nila, inaayos pa raw 'yung template, pero ang totoo ay nagsimula na pala sila," Lumibao said.

    (The meeting was at 1:30 pm but around 3:30 pm, the leaders and student guests were still in the holding room. They refused to let them move out when the hearing was actually starting already. They said they were still fixing the template, but the truth is they already started.)

    Lumibao said the House committee and the CHTE offered no explanation regarding what happened. She also wondered aloud why members of the Philippine National Police were in the area during the hearing.

    "It's weird because aside from the Legislative Security Bureau, why was there PNP inside? It's really weird. Because we all know that it's LSB that handles security in Congress. Why did they have to ask for another security party?" Lumibao said in a mix of Filipino and English.

    Lumibao also shared that Raul Manuel of the National Union of Students of the Philippines and his colleagues were sent out following tensions between Commission on Higher Education (CHED) officials and student leaders during the hearing.

    Lumibao was one of the leaders who got detained in the holding room.

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    “This is why the youth continues to dominate the streets instead of taking the battle where the arena only favors the reactionaries. Thousands more of youth will be angered by the intensified commercialization of Philippine education and they will surely mobilize to fight for a genuine free education,” said Jon Callueng, CEGP national president.

    The students sought to participate in the hearing to raise their concerns and air their opinions about the new free tuition policy. (READ: Higher budget, free tuition in state colleges: Easier said than done)

    Rappler has asked the CHTE about its move to bar the student leaders and campus journalists from the public hearing, but it has yet to give a response as of posting.

    On August 3, 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, a law providing free tuition  to students of 112 state universities and colleges (SUCs). – Rappler.com


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    Netizens cry foul over DOTr's social media post on PUV modernization program.

    MANILA, Philippines – Netizens cried foul over a social media post of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) about people protesting the jeepney modernization program.

    The post – made on Monday, March 19, when the transport group Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) held a strike againts the jeepney phaseout – compared the way the previous and current administration dealt with those opposing the program.

    This was accompanied by a statement from DOTr Secretary Art Tugade, saying:

    Several administrations in the past wanted to modernize transportation, but every time people wave flags saying that the program is anti-poor, they take a step back. THIS HAS TO STOP.

    Modernization should be implemented NOW. We will not stop anyone from expressing their right. But, they also need to make sure that they do not step on other people's rights. We have to consider the common good. BREAK THAT AND I WILL FIGHT YOU.

    Remember. WE ARE NOT FIGHTING THE FEW. WE ARE PROTECTING THE MANY.

    Below are the screenshots of the netizen reactions on the DOTr Facebook post:

    Ysabelle Yao said that if the government wants the rallies to end, "stop being nationalistic idiots."

     


    For Cheng de Asis Pagulayan, the DOTr seemed to be demonizing the activists.


    Meanwhile, 
    Tiffany Jungco, reacting to the DOTr post, said that the administration seemed to be arrogant, of poor logic, and lacks breeding.


    Jowi Miranda said: "This kind of propaganda just creates more divide, making it more difficult to support without condemning the fate of a few. 
    Call me crazy but I always thought dialogue and compromise on both sides were key to not just upholding the needs of the many but serving everyone."  


    Some netizens were quick to label the verified DOTr Facebook page as a "meme" and "propaganda" page.

     

     

    On Monday, some schools and areas suspended classes due to the transport strike.

    The following day, March 20, Malacañang declared class suspension in all levels in Metro Manila “to safeguard the safety of students” in view of "the organized transport strike." The Palace claimed Piston intended to conduct a weeklong strike. 

    Piston called out Malacañang for spreading "fake news" about a prolonged transportation strike.

    What are your thoughts on DOTr's social media post? Let us know in the comments below! – Rappler.com


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    WORKING STUDENT. Balancing work and studies is not a piece of cake but Dahn proved it is possible to do so. Photo from Dahn Saliendra's Facebook

    MANILA, Philippines – What was supposed to be a humorous post turned out to be an inspiring one.

    Dahn Saliendra just thought he was posting a  funny college graduation photo, though the broom he held up was more than just a prop to him.

     

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    On his Facebook post, the 26-year-old Dahn says he took up Bachelor of Science in Education major in Mathematics (BSEd-Math) from the Notre Dame of Marbel University. But who is he beyond that? 

    Dahn told Rappler that when he graduated from high school, he stopped his studies for 3 years while his brother taught him how to sew. He started working as a seamster. 

    One day, his aunt contacted him and asked if he wanted to become a working student in Koronadal City, South Cotabato. It was an easy choice for Dahn.  

    He enrolled at the Notre Dame of Marbel University in 2012. His first choice was Civil Engineering but he decided to take BSEd-Math. 

    As a working student, he was first assigned at the janitorial service of the school during his first semester in first year. From the second semester until his last year in college, he worked at the personnel office. It was his job to clean the office and do paperwork. 

    It took him 6 years to finish his 4-year program. Dahn said It took him longer to graduate because as a working student, he was only required to take 18 units per semester, compared to a regular load of 30 units.  

    He said what he learned as a working student is time management, and prioritizing studies over one's social life.  “Kung working student ka, you need to accept everything. Kasi responsibility siya. Expect mo na masa-sacrifice mo 'yung social life mo kasi nasa duty ka. I-balance mo 'yung time mo sa trabaho at pag-aaral.”

    (If you’re a working student, you need to accept everything because it's a responsibility. Expect to sacrifice your social life since you’re on work duty. Balance your time between work and studies.)

    Dahn also cited the advantages of being a working student, among them, getting early training on office work.

    “Nakaka-proud maging working student, lalo na kung sa school ka na-assign (Being a working student is a source of pride), you learn how to communicate with the professionals. I'm proud because we are trained to do office work.”

    The reason behind his graduation photo? Dahn said, “Mahilig ako mag-post ng mga humorous post. Ang purpose ko noon is to be shared by my friends only. Kasi naka-private originally 'yung post (I like posting humorous posts. My purpose during that time is to be shared by my friends only. The post was originally set to private.) 

    Someone chatted him to ask if he can make his post public since it was inspiring, and he agreed. After this, he made the post public and it went viral.

    Dahn expected people to laugh at his post in the comments. When he read the comments, many were saying the same thing. “Tinaas ko daw yung bandera ng working students. Nag-iba 'yung tingin ng mga tao sa working students (They said I raised the status of working students. People now see working students in a different light.) 

    He said he was overwhelmed with the comments and had difficulty accepting that his post was inspiring. “I am really amazed about what happened,” Dahn said. 

    Yung purpose ko na magpatawa napakalaki pala ng naitulong sa iba (My purpose to be funny turned out to be a big help to others)," he added.

    Dahn will finally earn his much-deserved degree when he graduates on Sunday, March 25. “Na-e-excite ako na kinakabahan (I am excited and nervous at the same time) I need to embrace this. This is my achievement.” 

    Aside from this good news, Dahn has something else to be proud of. He said he was already hired to be a Mathematics teacher for junior high school students in Notre Dame of Surala, located in South Cotabato. He will start teaching this coming school year. He will also prepare for the licensure examination for teachers.

    His advice for working students? “Laban lang. Alagaan ang katawan kasi 'yan ang puhunan nating working students. Kailangan mahalin mo 'yung trabaho mo kasi yun 'yung nagpapa-aral sa iyo. Mahalin mo rin 'yung pag-a-aral mo. I-balance dapat.”

    (Keep fighting. Take care of your body since that is our investment as working students. You have to love your job since it pays for your education. Love your education too. Balance it.) 

    Do you have other #InspireCourage stories too? Write them on X! – Rappler.com


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    With Holy Week coming up, road safety advocate Vincent Lazatin reflects on the sorrowful mysteries of living in Metro Manila – from the agony of traffic to the scourging of the commuters. 

    Got any transport woes? Send them to rightofway@rappler.com. – Rappler.com

    MORE ON 'RIGHT OF WAY'

     


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    MANILA, Philippines – “Our guests may enter the campus according to their individual taste; however due to university rules and regulations, they are urged to wear attires that would consider the educational character of the university.”

    This was the statement released by the the De La Salle University (DLSU) University Student Government (USG) on Thursday, March 22, 2018 in response to their controversial “dress code” posted a few days prior.

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    Earlier, DLSU USG posted on Facebook the dress code for their event titled “Break the Silence: Towards a Safe and Violence-Free Public Spaces for Women and Girls.” Netizens slammed the post, claiming that, ironically, the restrictive dress code promoted rape culture and victim-blaming.

    Netizens also argued that there were numerous and specific types of clothing that the infographic stated should not be worn during the event.

     The event is in partnership with the UN Women’s Safe Cities Metro Manila Programme, along with countries such as Spain and Canada. Spain is already implementing the UN Safe Cities and Safe Spaces program alongside the Philippines, while the Canadian ambassador will be a speaker during the event.

    The original post of the “dress code” has since been taken down, upon the request of their partner organizations, according to DLSU USG.  It was shared more than 4,000 times on Facebook before being removed. 

    DRESS CODE. Original image in the controversial post prior to being taken down.

    “We are proud to host the event, DLSU is one of the leading universities that promote safe spaces for women and girls campaign in the campus. We have zero tolerance for sexual harassment within and outside the campus,” Gabrielle Perez, Vice President for External Affairs of the DLSU University Student Government said in the statement.

    The USG’s statement has been shared more than 300 times at the time of writing, and has received different reactions from netizens.

    There were some who defended the USG and blamed people for jumping to conclusions

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    Meanwhile there were others who viewed the apology as inadequate, and the USG not understanding what they did wrong, while outlining the undertone sent by the original post.

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    The issue of dress codes within schools and universities is not new in the fight for women empowerment and equality. 

    In 2013, an opinion article  tackled the issue of dress codes which perpetuated the "victim-blaming" line. The article said it was time to change the "antiquated systemic misogyny that is the dress code."

    While the writer conceded that most school rules are meant to be followed for the safety of students, “But what does banning girls from wearing tank tops or mini skirts do? Protect them from the wayward eyes of lecherous strangers? Help them avoid being mauled or molested or, worse, raped? That kind of thinking puts the onus of sexual assault on the victim and perpetuates rape culture.” She wrote to emphasize the flawed logic of such regulations.

    Fast forward to 2017, The Huffington Post (which has an entire topic category on “Dress Codes”) published an article talking about the newly updated Evanston Township High School.

    The new rules were taken from the Oregon National Organization of Women dress code, which changed their dress code to restrict things such as hate speech and violent imagery, instead of focusing on how much of the body the clothes cover, along with making the restrictions few enough that it applies clearly to both males and females without leaning more towards one or the other, allowing all students to dress in ways they are personally comfortable with, without risk of being shamed for their attire and without causing actual distractions in class with inappropriate attire.

    These are examples of the many controversies and stories surrounding the implementation of sexist dress codes in schools. These are shared on social media such as Twitter and Facebook and reach a high number of teens and young adults who likely feel that this issue is very relevant for their generation.

    Despite the negative controversy sparked by their original post and subsequent apology the DLSU USG reiterated that it is committed to ending rape culture and sexual harassment. – with reports from Gab Landrito Rappler.com

    Gab Landrito is an intern at Rappler for the MovePH and Social Media section. He studied Communication Arts in UP Baguio with a minor in Journalism.

     


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    VISITA IGLESIA. Santo Tomas de Villanueva Church in Miagao, Iloilo, is one of the churches featured in Rappler's Virtual Visita Iglesia this year. Screen grab from 360-degree video by Fung Yu

    MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – In 2012, Rappler introduced the Virtual Visita Iglesia, a new way of performing the classic Holy Week ritual of visiting churches and praying the Stations of the Cross there. 

    Now Rappler presents the Virtual Visita Iglesia with a twist, using a 360-degree YouTube video produced by panoramic photographer Fung Yu. 

    How to use it: To navigate on mobile and see each church in 360-degree view, scroll up and down or swipe left and right on the screen, while listening to and praying the Stations of the Cross

    Here's more: For those with Google Cardboard, the new version of Rappler's Virtual Visita Iglesia can also be experienced using this virtual reality platform.

    The 360-degree Virtual Visita Iglesia brings us to 14 different churches across Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. 

    Featured music: The soundtrack used for the Stations of the Cross are taken from the album series "Vespers," courtesy of Jesuit Communications. Those who wish to linger may choose to have the instrumental music continue playing for a few more minutes after each reading.

    Songs include popular Catholic titles like "Tanging Yaman," "Kunin Mo, O Diyos," "Huwag Kang Mangamba," and "Hindi Kita Malilimutan."

    How to find specific churches? Below is the list of churches included, as well as the timecodes where these churches can be found in the video:

    Station 1– Santo Niño Church in Anda, Bohol (timecode 00.05)

    Station 2– Church of Saint James the Apostle in Betis, Pampanga (timecode 02.03)

    Station 3– Saint Joseph Cathedral in Butuan City (timecode 04.05)

    Station 4– Saint James the Great Parish in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte (timecode 06.07)

    Station 5– Palo Metropolitan Cathedral in Palo, Leyte (timecode 08.06)

    Station 6– Nuesta Señora dela Asuncion in Maragondon, Cavite (timecode 10.08)

    Station 7– Santo Tomas de Villanueva Church in Miagao, Iloilo (timecode 12.09)

    Station 8– Saint Augustine Church in Panglao, Bohol (timecode 14.11)

    Station 9– Saint Augustine Church in Paoay, Ilocos Norte (timecode 16.11)

    Station 10– St Joseph Cathedral in Romblon (timecode 18.12)

    Station 11– San Sebastian Church, Quiapo, Manila (timecode 20.13)

    Station 12– Church of San Diego de Alcala, Silay City, Negros Occidental (timecode 22.14)

    Station 13– San Isidro Labrador Church in Lazi, Siquijor (timecode 24.14)

    Station 14– Our Lady of the Abandoned Parish, Santa Ana, Manila (timecode 26.16) 

    Experience it yourself by clicking the YouTube video above. Have a blessed Holy Week! – Rappler.com


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    BOY WONDER. Miguel Secillano solves math problems on US show 'Little Big Shots.' Screengrab from Little Big Shots Facebook Page

    MANILA, Philippines – Most people use calculators to solve mathematical equations especially when it involves square roots, exponents, and other processes, but that's not the case for a young Filipino math genius who recently surprised Steve Harvey with his amazing skills. 

    In an episode of US show "Little Big Shots" aired on Sunday, March 18, 7-year-old Miguel Secillano left the audience in awe as he tried to solve complicated math problems.

    Miguel showed how he was able to find the 5th root of a 7-digit number in less than 10 seconds. A 5th root is a number you have to multiply 5 times by itself to get the original number. (READ: Genius with a heart, intelligence with a conscience)

    But what really caught the attention of the audience was when  Miguel successfully solved 5x5 Magic Square. In this recreational number game, you need to place a unique number in each box such that the sum of the entries of any row, any column, or any main diagonal are equal. In Miguel's case, it should be 265.

    As of posting, his video uploaded on the Little Big Shots Facebook page has now almost 300,000 views.

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    It was not the first time the young prodigy caught attention of netizens.

    A video of him solving the volume of a cube also went viral in 2014. In that video, he is shown solving the problem loudly as if he were teaching a class. 

    Miguel's parents are both Filipinos but have lived in the US for the past 8 years. His mom is from Cebu and his dad is from Albay. 

    In a Rappler article in 2014, Philip, his dad, said that Miguel could count to 100 at age 2. Miguel's dad also said that when his was tested for intelligence, the result showed that he was "gifted."

    His parents sent his test result over to MENSA – an international organization of people with high IQ – to apply for membership. Members of MENSA have intelligence test scores above the 98th percentile. – with a report from Justine Balane / Rappler.com


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    CLASS VALEDICTORIAN. Nicole Rose Baculio delivers her valedictory address to Class 2018. Photos by Xavier University Communications Office

    (This is the valedictory speech of Nicole Rose Baculio, Bachelor of Secondary Education major in English, who graduated cum laude, Class of 2018 Valedictorian, and Outstanding Graduate Awardee of the School of Education of Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan, delivered during the Academic Convocation on March 22 at the XU Gymnasium.)

    To University President Father Roberto C Yap of the Society of Jesus, members of the Board of Trustees, honored guests, faculty, formators, staff, parents, relatives, and my fellow graduates, good morning.

    Last May of 2017, as I switched online on my social media account, news about the outbreak of war in Marawi flooded my newsfeed. I chatted with my co-officers in the Central Student Government to plan on what to do, and on how to respond. It was the longest night of my life. I felt like I was compelled to do something.

    I was not able to sleep well knowing that kilometers away from home, there were people watching their homes turned into ashes. I was disturbed thinking that the cicadas were gunshots and bomb explosions near the city. My thoughts wandered to a land I have never stepped foot in. When half of the world is suffering, half of it is continuing the mundane pace of life.

    In Ateneo, we were taught to find God in all things, and in situations like these, God is telling us to do something, so that sleepless night urged me to fight for a cause, and to volunteer in Tabang Marawi. My fellow volunteers and I packed goods and personal necessities.

    We received donations and distributed them. We asked for updates, and I personally looked for progress over the news but still, every time a 6x6 truck filled with soldiers ready for combat passed by the highway, I was crippled with the thought that while I was enjoying every comfort, thousands of people were suffering. Every night, I asked myself, what help have I given?

    One of the reasons why peace continues to be elusive is because of the ongoing use of violence to achieve one’s ideological, religious, and political goals. Violence – violent extremism in particular – has agitated our archipelago and the world. However, it shall not stand victorious over the resilience and courage of Filipinos.

    Now, as Ateneans, how do we respond to this call? I am inspiring you to do "Three Ms" for Mindanao, for the country, and the world.

    First, make Magis love in action. We always think of Magis as "the more" but now, we have to make Magis a way of manifesting love and through that, we will be able to go the extra mile. Amidst the challenges brought about by violent extremism and other issues in the society, we must continue to face everything with love because through that, we will be able to overcome any kind of violence.

    While the Marawi siege happened, the concept of love was almost forgotten because anger and violence overshadowed it. Fr Arrupe SJ said, “Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything,” and I can say that it means being in love with our home, Mindanao; stay in love with our fellowmen no matter how diverse we are; and let that love decide the peace that rules our homeland. Through love, we can overcome adversities. (READ: UP summa cum laude: 'Make your dream mean something to others')

    Second, manifest genuine service for others. A few days from now, I will be a teacher. Some of us here will become engineers, businessmen/women, agriculturists, journalists, scientists, psychologists, nurses, computer experts, and tech-voc specialists. It is our greatest challenge to live out our values and principles beyond the portals of Xavier Ateneo.

    Violence can be fought when teachers become more sensitive to the individual needs of others, when doctors and nurses become more compassionate and caring towards their patients and their families, when engineers provide quality designs and solutions, when agriculturists innovate for agricultural sustainability, when businessmen and women give more importance to labor development, when computer specialists develop programs to help mankind, when tech-voc specialists find ways to enhance their skills in their respective fields, and when public servants manifest what service truly means.

    Therefore, when we go to our respective fields, remember that genuine service is uplifting the dignity of others, and it is not mere charity work. Through service, we can build a more humane society. (READ: InspireCourage: A Mindanaoan's valedictory address)

    Lastly, meet the world with a wider perspective. Today, our world needs professionals with eyes open to variations of reality and with open minds. It needs people who will advocate for peace in the expanse of threat and risk. When I volunteered for Tabang Marawi, and read poems as a tribute for our soldiers, I think I have not met much of the world yet because when we meet the world, we ought to continuously respond to its call for peace and service.

    There are voices waiting to be heard, and we have to widen our perspectives to fully listen to these voices. When we listen to them, we will understand why people are oppressed, why people fight for their rights, and why people battle violent extremism. Through a wider perspective, we can be empathetic citizens in this world. (READ:Words of wisdom: 7 memorable grad speeches)

    In order to counter violent extremism, let us remember the Three Ms: Make Magis love in action; Manifest genuine service for others; and Meet the world with a wider perspective.

    We are Ateneans, and we are called to be advocates of peace and for peace, who are precursors of justice, ingenuity, and integrity. Above all, the foundation of peace is faith that does service for others.

    My fellow graduates, if you will bump into an Atenean 10 years from now, do not hesitate to ask him/her this question, “How do you truly respond to the call?” My best answer is: “Love what you do dearly. Extend service to others genuinely and see the world more clearly. Through these, we will be able to set the world on fire.” – Rappler.com


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    Editor's Note: For Holy Week 2018, Rappler is publishing the Mass readings for each day of the week. Below is the set of Mass readings in Catholic churches around the world on Palm Sunday, March 25.

    FIRST READING
    Isaiah 50: 4-7 

    The Lord God has given me
    a well-trained tongue,
    that I might know how to speak to the weary
    a word that will rouse them.
    Morning after morning
    he opens my ear that I may hear;
    and I have not rebelled,
    have not turned back.
    I gave my back to those who beat me,
    my cheeks to those who plucked my beard;
    my face I did not shield
    from buffets and spitting. 

    The Lord God is my help,
    therefore I am not disgraced;
    I have set my face like flint,
    knowing that I shall not be put to shame. 

    RESPONSORIAL PSALM
    Psalm 22: 8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24 

    R. My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

    All who see me scoff at me;
    they mock me with parted lips, they wag their heads:
    "He relied on the LORD; let him deliver him,
    let him rescue him, if he loves him." 

    R. My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

    Indeed, many dogs surround me,
    a pack of evildoers closes in upon me;
    They have pierced my hands and my feet;
    I can count all my bones. 

    R. My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

    They divide my garments among them,
    and for my vesture they cast lots.
    But you, O Lord, be not far from me;
    O my help, hasten to aid me. 

    R. My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

    I will proclaim your name to my brethren;
    in the midst of the assembly I will praise you:
    "You who fear the Lord, praise him;
    all you descendants of Jacob, give glory to him;
    revere him, all you descendants of Israel!" 

    R. My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

    SECOND READING
    Philippians 2: 6-11 

    Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God,
    did not regard equality with God
    something to be grasped.
    Rather, he emptied himself,
    taking the form of a slave,
    coming in human likeness;
    and found human in appearance,
    he humbled himself,
    becoming obedient to the point of death,
    even death on a cross.
    Because of this, God greatly exalted him
    and bestowed on him the name
    which is above every name,
    that at the name of Jesus
    every knee should bend,
    of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
    and every tongue confess that
    Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father. 

    GOSPEL
    Mark 14:1–15:47

    The Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread 
    were to take place in two days' time.
    So the chief priests and the scribes were seeking a way 
    to arrest him by treachery and put him to death.
    They said, "Not during the festival, 
    for fear that there may be a riot among the people."

    When he was in Bethany reclining at table 
    in the house of Simon the leper, 
    a woman came with an alabaster jar of perfumed oil,
    costly genuine spikenard.
    She broke the alabaster jar and poured it on his head.
    There were some who were indignant.
    "Why has there been this waste of perfumed oil?
    It could have been sold for more than three hundred days' wages 
    and the money given to the poor."
    They were infuriated with her.
    Jesus said, "Let her alone.

    Why do you make trouble for her?
    She has done a good thing for me.
    The poor you will always have with you, 
    and whenever you wish you can do good to them, 
    but you will not always have me.
    She has done what she could.
    She has anticipated anointing my body for burial.
    Amen, I say to you,
    wherever the gospel is proclaimed to the whole world,
    what she has done will be told in memory of her."

    Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, 
    went off to the chief priests to hand him over to them.
    When they heard him they were pleased and promised to pay him money.
    Then he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.

    On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, 
    when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, 
    his disciples said to him,
    "Where do you want us to go
    and prepare for you to eat the Passover?"
    He sent two of his disciples and said to them, 
    "Go into the city and a man will meet you,
    carrying a jar of water.
    Follow him.
    Wherever he enters, say to the master of the house,
    'The Teacher says, "Where is my guest room
    where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?"'
    Then he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready.
    Make the preparations for us there."
    The disciples then went off, entered the city, 
    and found it just as he had told them; 
    and they prepared the Passover.

    When it was evening, he came with the Twelve. 
    And as they reclined at table and were eating, Jesus said,
    "Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me, 
    one who is eating with me."
    They began to be distressed and to say to him, one by one,
    "Surely it is not I?"
    He said to them,
    "One of the Twelve, the one who dips with me into the dish.
    For the Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him,
    but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed.
    It would be better for that man if he had never been born."

    While they were eating,
    he took bread, said the blessing,
    broke it, and gave it to them, and said, 
    "Take it; this is my body."
    Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, 
    and they all drank from it.
    He said to them,
    "This is my blood of the covenant,
    which will be shed for many.
    Amen, I say to you,
    I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine 
    until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God."
    Then, after singing a hymn,
    they went out to the Mount of Olives. 

    Then Jesus said to them, 
    "All of you will have your faith shaken, for it is written:
    I will strike the shepherd,
    and the sheep will be dispersed.
    But after I have been raised up,
    I shall go before you to Galilee."
    Peter said to him, 
    "Even though all should have their faith shaken,
    mine will not be."
    Then Jesus said to him,
    "Amen, I say to you, 
    this very night before the cock crows twice
    you will deny me three times."
    But he vehemently replied, 
    "Even though I should have to die with you,
    I will not deny you."
    And they all spoke similarly.
    Then they came to a place named Gethsemane, 
    and he said to his disciples,
    "Sit here while I pray."
    He took with him Peter, James, and John, 
    and began to be troubled and distressed.
    Then he said to them, "My soul is sorrowful even to death.
    Remain here and keep watch."
    He advanced a little and fell to the ground and prayed
    that if it were possible the hour might pass by him; 
    he said, "Abba, Father, all things are possible to you.
    Take this cup away from me,
    but not what I will but what you will."
    When he returned he found them asleep.
    He said to Peter, "Simon, are you asleep?
    Could you not keep watch for one hour?
    Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test.
    The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak."
    Withdrawing again, he prayed, saying the same thing.
    Then he returned once more and found them asleep, 
    for they could not keep their eyes open 
    and did not know what to answer him.
    He returned a third time and said to them, 
    "Are you still sleeping and taking your rest?
    It is enough. The hour has come.
    Behold, the Son of Man is to be handed over to sinners.
    Get up, let us go.
    See, my betrayer is at hand." 

    Then, while he was still speaking,
    Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived, 
    accompanied by a crowd with swords and clubs 
    who had come from the chief priests,
    the scribes, and the elders.
    His betrayer had arranged a signal with them, saying, 
    "The man I shall kiss is the one; 
    arrest him and lead him away securely."
    He came and immediately went over to him and said,
    "Rabbi." And he kissed him.
    At this they laid hands on him and arrested him.
    One of the bystanders drew his sword,
    struck the high priest's servant, and cut off his ear.
    Jesus said to them in reply,
    "Have you come out as against a robber, 
    with swords and clubs, to seize me?
    Day after day I was with you teaching in the temple area, 
    yet you did not arrest me; 
    but that the Scriptures may be fulfilled."
    And they all left him and fled.
    Now a young man followed him
    wearing nothing but a linen cloth about his body.
    They seized him,
    but he left the cloth behind and ran off naked. 

    They led Jesus away to the high priest,
    and all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes came together.
    Peter followed him at a distance into the high priest's courtyard 
    and was seated with the guards, warming himself at the fire.
    The chief priests and the entire Sanhedrin
    kept trying to obtain testimony against Jesus 
    in order to put him to death, but they found none.
    Many gave false witness against him,
    but their testimony did not agree.
    Some took the stand and testified falsely against him,
    alleging, "We heard him say,
    'I will destroy this temple made with hands
    and within three days I will build another
    not made with hands.'"
    Even so their testimony did not agree.
    The high priest rose before the assembly and questioned Jesus,
    saying, "Have you no answer?
    What are these men testifying against you?"
    But he was silent and answered nothing.
    Again the high priest asked him and said to him, 
    "Are you the Christ, the son of the Blessed One?"
    Then Jesus answered, "I am;
    and 'you will see the Son of Man
    seated at the right hand of the Power
    and coming with the clouds of heaven.'"
    At that the high priest tore his garments and said,
    "What further need have we of witnesses?
    You have heard the blasphemy.
    What do you think?"
    They all condemned him as deserving to die.
    Some began to spit on him.
    They blindfolded him and struck him and said to him, "Prophesy!"
    And the guards greeted him with blows. 

    While Peter was below in the courtyard, 
    one of the high priest's maids came along.
    Seeing Peter warming himself,
    she looked intently at him and said,
    "You too were with the Nazarene, Jesus."
    But he denied it saying,
    "I neither know nor understand what you are talking about."
    So he went out into the outer court.
    Then the cock crowed.
    The maid saw him and began again to say to the bystanders,
    "This man is one of them."
    Once again he denied it.
    A little later the bystanders said to Peter once more, 
    "Surely you are one of them; for you too are a Galilean."
    He began to curse and to swear, 
    "I do not know this man about whom you are talking."
    And immediately a cock crowed a second time.
    Then Peter remembered the word that Jesus had said to him, 
    "Before the cock crows twice you will deny me three times."
    He broke down and wept. 

    As soon as morning came, 
    the chief priests with the elders and the scribes, 
    that is, the whole Sanhedrin held a council.
    They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate.
    Pilate questioned him,
    "Are you the king of the Jews?"
    He said to him in reply, "You say so."
    The chief priests accused him of many things.
    Again Pilate questioned him,
    "Have you no answer?
    See how many things they accuse you of."
    Jesus gave him no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed. 

    Now on the occasion of the feast he used to release to them
    one prisoner whom they requested.
    A man called Barabbas was then in prison 
    along with the rebels who had committed murder in a rebellion.
    The crowd came forward and began to ask him
    to do for them as he was accustomed.
    Pilate answered, 
    "Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?"
    For he knew that it was out of envy 
    that the chief priests had handed him over.
    But the chief priests stirred up the crowd 
    to have him release Barabbas for them instead.
    Pilate again said to them in reply,
    "Then what do you want me to do 
    with the man you call the king of the Jews?"
    They shouted again, "Crucify him."
    Pilate said to them, "Why? What evil has he done?"
    They only shouted the louder, "Crucify him."
    So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd,
    released Barabbas to them and, after he had Jesus scourged,
    handed him over to be crucified.
    The soldiers led him away inside the palace, 
    that is, the praetorium, and assembled the whole cohort.
    They clothed him in purple and, 
    weaving a crown of thorns, placed it on him.
    They began to salute him with, "Hail, King of the Jews!" 
    and kept striking his head with a reed and spitting upon him.
    They knelt before him in homage.
    And when they had mocked him,
    they stripped him of the purple cloak,
    dressed him in his own clothes,
    and led him out to crucify him. 

    They pressed into service a passer-by, Simon,
    a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country,
    the father of Alexander and Rufus,
    to carry his cross. 

    They brought him to the place of Golgotha
    — which is translated Place of the Skull —
    They gave him wine drugged with myrrh,
    but he did not take it.
    Then they crucified him and divided his garments 
    by casting lots for them to see what each should take.
    It was nine o'clock in the morning when they crucified him.
    The inscription of the charge against him read,
    "The King of the Jews."
    With him they crucified two revolutionaries, 
    one on his right and one on his left.
    Those passing by reviled him,
    shaking their heads and saying,
    "Aha! You who would destroy the temple
    and rebuild it in three days,
    save yourself by coming down from the cross."
    Likewise the chief priests, with the scribes, 
    mocked him among themselves and said, 
    "He saved others; he cannot save himself.
    Let the Christ, the King of Israel,
    come down now from the cross
    that we may see and believe."
    Those who were crucified with him also kept abusing him. 

    At noon darkness came over the whole land
    until three in the afternoon.
    And at three o'clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, 
    "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?"
    which is translated,
    "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
    Some of the bystanders who heard it said, 
    "Look, he is calling Elijah."
    One of them ran, soaked a sponge with wine, put it on a reed 
    and gave it to him to drink saying, 
    "Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to take him down."
    Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last.

    The veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom.
    When the centurion who stood facing him
    saw how he breathed his last he said, 
    "Truly this man was the Son of God!"
    There were also women looking on from a distance.
    Among them were Mary Magdalene, 
    Mary the mother of the younger James and of Joses, and Salome.
    These women had followed him when he was in Galilee
    and ministered to him.
    There were also many other women
    who had come up with him to Jerusalem. 

    When it was already evening,
    since it was the day of preparation,
    the day before the sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea,
    a distinguished member of the council,
    who was himself awaiting the kingdom of God,
    came and courageously went to Pilate
    and asked for the body of Jesus.
    Pilate was amazed that he was already dead.
    He summoned the centurion
    and asked him if Jesus had already died.
    And when he learned of it from the centurion, 
    he gave the body to Joseph.
    Having bought a linen cloth, he took him down,
    wrapped him in the linen cloth,
    and laid him in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock.
    Then he rolled a stone against the entrance to the tomb.
    Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses
    watched where he was laid. 

    Rappler is also carrying the livestream of Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle's Palm Sunday Mass, courtesy of TV Maria. You can watch this livestream on Rappler at 7 am on Sunday, Manila time. – Rappler.com


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    MANILA, Philippines – For a former drug user, refuge now means embracing God.

    Drugs and worldly possessions used to dominate the life of Fr Flavie Villanueva, back when he was a young professional in the corporate sector. It was a vicious cycle of addiction.

    "Is this how I wish my life to be?" he asked himself then. "Of course, the answer is no."

    He thought that there was a better life instead of being involved in drugs.

    "Faith has got something to do with my freedom from this – or healing, or cure even – in this vicious cycle of addiction.... I really sought to change and to ask for the grace and assistance to do so," Villanueva told Rappler.

    Villanueva never wanted to be a priest but he decided to join a seminary in 1998. He was ordained in 2006 with the missionary congregation Society of the Divine Word.

    "I came in as a late vocation and coming from the corporate [sector], I never wanted to be a priest. But God has His ways of calling."

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    Kalinga Center

    Villanueva spends his waking hours in programs that help the marginalized renew their dignity, owing this to how he was able to renew his.

    In 2015, Villanueva, through the Society of the Divine Word, founded the Arnold Janssen Kalinga Center in Tayuman, Manila. It's a center that provides "dignified care and service" to the homeless and the marginalized.

    The beneficiaries of the center undergo 7 stations. The moment they come in, they are profiled by the staff. Then, they take turns in the shower and the grooming station. As they wait for their turn, they listen to talks by laypeople.

    After the grooming, they are asked to recite these lines while looking at themselves in a big mirror: "Malinis na ako. Pagpapahalagahan ko ito dahil maaaring magbago ang buhay ko." (I am now clean. I will cherish this because my life might change.)

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    <p style="font-family: Roboto; font-weight: 300; size: 16px;"> PROCESSING. A beneficiary talks to a nun during a small group discussion. </p>
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    A small processing session with laypeople or nuns then follows, to discuss what was talked about while they were waiting in the previous station. Then everyone shares a meal which comes with unlimited rice – a luxury for the poor and the homeless.

    As they go out of the center, the last station asks them to recite a declaration that they are missionaries as well: "Kinalinga ako sa Kalinga, kaya mangangalinga ako sa iba." (I received care in Kalinga, so I will care for others.)

    The center caters to all – men, women, children, elderly, and persons with disability. Some were involved in drugs or petty crimes. Everyone is accepted regardless of their past.

    "We believe that they had been robbed of that dignity, so the mission of Arnold Janssen [center] is to help recreate and empower their lives by helping them regain their dignity," said Villanueva.

    The Kalinga Center also offers informal education through the Alternative Learning System in partnership with the Department of Education (DepEd). When beneficiaries are ready, they can undergo the final phase which focuses on employment.

    Drug war

    As the Duterte administration wages an all-out campaign against illegal drugs, Villanueva said at least 5 beneficiaries of the center have been targeted by Oplan Tokhang.

    "According to our beloved beneficiaries, they had been witnesses that these people were really indigent and homeless but have fallen prey to these murders," he said.

    Citing his own experience, the priest maintained that killing is never the answer to the drug problem. (READ: PH can't win war on drugs with guns alone)

    "As a former drug user, I believe that drug addiction is a mental or a health issue. Having gone through [it] myself, I detest the cause of it especially when drug use leads to [crimes] and abuse of rights," he said.

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    <p style="font-family: Roboto; font-weight: 300; size: 16px;"> SOLUTION. Fr Flavie Villanueva, standing outside the Kalinga Center, believes that killing is not the solution to the drug problem. </p>
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    "However, it should be addressed in a proper way instead of looking at it as [a] criminal offense and a means or a license even to kill, which is rampantly happening now," he added.

    The drug war has left thousands of people dead from police operations and vigilante-style killings. For Villanueva, killing drug users only creates "a culture of impunity."

    "This is not what the next generation needs. They need hope and this should be seen mainly from us," he said.

    Alternative solution

    The priest asserted that there are other ways to address the drug problem.

    He said that through the Kalinga Center, they have started reforming lives even before the drug war started.

    Experts have long criticized the Duterte administration's war on drugs, saying that psychological interventions are needed. Some groups even crafted modules for local governments to use, aimed at equipping surrenderers with skills to recover from drug use.

    Several local governments have also created rehabilitation programs through their local anti-drug councils. (IN PHOTOS: On his own: 'New hope' under one man's drug rehab program)

    "Again, I would like to reiterate... killing is not the solution. Together, let us work to stop the killings and start the healings," said Villanueva. – Rappler.com


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    Editor's Note: For Holy Week 2018, Rappler is publishing the Mass readings for each day of the week. Below is the set of Mass readings in Catholic churches around the world on Holy Monday, March 26.

    FIRST READING
    Isaiah 42: 1-7 

    Here is my servant whom I uphold,
    my chosen one with whom I am pleased,
    Upon whom I have put my Spirit;
    he shall bring forth justice to the nations,
    Not crying out, not shouting,
    not making his voice heard in the street.
    A bruised reed he shall not break,
    and a smoldering wick he shall not quench,
    Until he establishes justice on the earth;
    the coastlands will wait for his teaching. 

    Thus says God, the Lord,
    who created the heavens and stretched them out,
    who spreads out the earth with its crops,
    Who gives breath to its people
    and spirit to those who walk on it:
    I, the Lord, have called you for the victory of justice,
    I have grasped you by the hand;
    I formed you, and set you
    as a covenant of the people,
    a light for the nations,
    To open the eyes of the blind,
    to bring out prisoners from confinement,
    and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness. 

    RESPONSORIAL PSALM
    Psalm 27: 1, 2, 3, 13-14 

    R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.

    The Lord is my light and my salvation;
    whom should I fear?
    The Lord is my life's refuge;
    of whom should I be afraid? 

    R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.

    When evildoers come at me
    to devour my flesh,
    My foes and my enemies
    themselves stumble and fall. 

    R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.

    Though an army encamp against me,
    my heart will not fear;
    Though war be waged upon me,
    even then will I trust. 

    R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.

    I believe that I shall see the bounty of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
    Wait for the Lord with courage;
    be stouthearted, and wait for the Lord. 

    R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.

    GOSPEL
    John 12: 1-11 

    Six days before Passover, Jesus came to Bethany,
    where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.
    They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served,
    while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him.
    Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil
    made from genuine aromatic nard
    and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair;
    the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.
    Then Judas the Iscariot, one of his disciples,
    and the one who would betray him, said,
    "Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days' wages
    and given to the poor?"
    He said this not because he cared about the poor
    but because he was a thief and held the money bag
    and used to steal the contributions.
    So Jesus said, "Leave her alone.
    Let her keep this for the day of my burial.
    You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me."

    The large crowd of the Jews found out that he was there and came,
    not only because of him, but also to see Lazarus,
    whom he had raised from the dead.
    And the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus too,
    because many of the Jews were turning away
    and believing in Jesus because of him.

    – Rappler.com


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    Editor's Note: For Holy Week 2018, Rappler is publishing the Mass readings for each day of the week. Below is the set of Mass readings in Catholic churches around the world on Holy Tuesday, March 27.

    FIRST READING
    Isaiah 49: 1-6 

    Hear me, O islands,
    listen, O distant peoples.
    The Lord called me from birth,
    from my mother's womb he gave me my name.
    He made of me a sharp-edged sword
    and concealed me in the shadow of his arm.
    He made me a polished arrow,
    in his quiver he hid me.
    You are my servant, he said to me,
    Israel, through whom I show my glory. 

    Though I thought I had toiled in vain,
    and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength,
    Yet my reward is with the Lord,
    my recompense is with my God.
    For now the Lord has spoken
    who formed me as his servant from the womb,
    That Jacob may be brought back to him
    and Israel gathered to him;
    And I am made glorious in the sight of the Lord,
    and my God is now my strength!
    It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant,
    to raise up the tribes of Jacob,
    and restore the survivors of Israel;
    I will make you a light to the nations,
    that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.

    RESPONSORIAL PSALM
    Psalms 71: 1-2, 3-4A, 5AB-6AB, 15 and 17
     

    R. I will sing of your salvation.

    In you, O Lord, I take refuge;
    let me never be put to shame.
    In your justice rescue me, and deliver me;
    incline your ear to me, and save me. 

    R. I will sing of your salvation.

    Be my rock of refuge,
    a stronghold to give me safety,
    for you are my rock and my fortress.
    O my God, rescue me from the hand of the wicked. 

    R. I will sing of your salvation.

    For you are my hope, O Lord;
    my trust, O God, from my youth.
    On you I depend from birth;
    from my mother's womb you are my strength. 

    R. I will sing of your salvation.

    My mouth shall declare your justice,
    day by day your salvation.
    O God, you have taught me from my youth,
    and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds. 

    R. I will sing of your salvation. 

    GOSPEL
    John 13: 21-33, 36-38

    Reclining at table with his disciples, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified,
    "Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me."
    The disciples looked at one another, at a loss as to whom he meant.
    One of his disciples, the one whom Jesus loved,
    was reclining at Jesus' side.
    So Simon Peter nodded to him to find out whom he meant.
    He leaned back against Jesus’ chest and said to him,
    "Master, who is it?"
    Jesus answered,
    "It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it."
    So he dipped the morsel and took it and handed it to Judas,
    son of Simon the Iscariot.
    After Judas took the morsel, Satan entered him.
    So Jesus said to him, "What you are going to do, do quickly."
    Now none of those reclining at table realized why he said this to him.
    Some thought that since Judas kept the money bag, Jesus had told him,
    "Buy what we need for the feast,"
    or to give something to the poor.
    So Judas took the morsel and left at once. And it was night.

    When he had left, Jesus said,
    "Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.
    If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself,
    and he will glorify him at once.
    My children, I will be with you only a little while longer.
    You will look for me, and as I told the Jews,
    'Where I go you cannot come,' so now I say it to you."

    Simon Peter said to him, "Master, where are you going?"
    Jesus answered him,
    "Where I am going, you cannot follow me now,
    though you will follow later."
    Peter said to him,
    "Master, why can I not follow you now?
    I will lay down my life for you."
    Jesus answered, "Will you lay down your life for me?
    Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow
    before you deny me three times." 

    – Rappler.com


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    Editor's Note: This piece was originally published in April 2012. Rappler is updating and republishing this to mark Holy Week 2018.

    Lent is a very special season. 

    What makes it especially special is that we are made to do things that make us more aware of our Christian faith in an intense and palpable way. We are asked to fast and abstain, pray, and do penance. We are asked to examine our selves and change our ways. We are pulled in to ourselves in meditation, and pushed out of ourselves to do more almsgiving. 

    In the olden days, they used to cover all the statues in Church with purple cloth that gave a depressing effect, that feeling of being abandoned by the saints, that sense of emptiness, that blankness in the heart.

    As we enter Holy Week, let us review what the whole Lenten season is all about. 

    All through Lent, we are being challenged by the principle to cut down on the things that we ordinarily and usually think we cannot do without, and to realize, at least once a year, that we can actually do without them. 

    And so, it has come to mean less meat and less food. Less comforts and less security. And the spirit of it all is pursued in other little things as well: less soda or less ice-cream or less chocolate; less beer and less booze; less movies, less TV, less novels, less gossip, less socials, less parties, and the list can go on and on. 

    The idea is to cut down – not just for cutting down's sake; and not just for self-discipline; and not just for proving to ourselves that we can do without things; and not just because the Church requires it. I think that cutting down is done in order to make a little more room in our hearts for one another, and also maybe a little more room for God. 

    I think it is one of the best times of year to relax and take it easy, to go out and just enjoy each other's company. That’s what the word “lent” literally means. It does not refer to sacrifice and penance and self-abnegation. It refers to that time of year between winter and spring, when the days come with greater length, with greater "lent," and become longer than nights. And because there are more hours of light, there seems to be more time than usual, to relax a bit more, slow down, set aside the regular hassles. And so we have more time for each other. And it is the best time of year for friends to just take a walk, and talk.

    Open your ears

    But more importantly than just talk, it is also the best time of year to do what the Father tells us to do at the end of the narrative of the Transfiguration – to listen to Jesus, His Son! Open your ears. Be attentive. For a moment, drop those everyday concerns and hear.

    And the Gospel is also teaching us to listen – not just to Jesus, but also to each other, and to realize how often we fail to really really listen, how we have let the trimmings get in the way; how we can allow the spectacles of a person's situation distract us from the person himself or herself; how we can say we talk, but we really do not listen, because listening is not about giving advice or counseling, but allowing the person to tell you where he or she is, and not where he or she should be, and how often we have let our good intentions get the better of us; how often we can hold our principles so fiercely that we are unable to hear where the other is coming from, and we are unaware that we have crossed the thin line between believing what we believe, and shutting out the rest of the world; how often we forget that listening is not just hearing a person’s words and ideas and principles and opinions, but hearing the eyes, and the movement of the hands, and the language of the body, and the rising and the ebbing of the voice, and the inflection and the accents of the sentence, and the twitching of the muscles, and the smiling or the frowning of the lips, and the pauses between the words, and how all this comes together in one person.

    The reason that we cut down on things, the reason for momentarily doing away with routine and with the ordinary, the reason for abstinence and fasting and penance and the discipline of Lent is so that we might quiet things down in our hearts a bit, and just maybe, we might be able to hear each other more. 

    Because, when the music is turned up to full volume, when the TV is on and the show is engaging, when the telephone keeps ringing every half hour, when there are a million and one things to worry about, and the clock is not moving any slower, when we feel compelled to buy this and buy that, and get this and get that, and eat this and eat that, and drink this and drink that, there are so many things that make so much noise in our hearts.  

    And the noise blocks our hearing of each other's hearts. – Rappler.com

    Father Jose Magadia, SJ, is general counsellor for formation of the Society of Jesus, better known as the Jesuits, based in Rome. He is former head of the Philippine Jesuits.


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