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    CRISIS-MAS. Striking workers at Liwisang combine elements of protest and Christmas festivities by lighting up a red-and-black tree, sharing Christmas wishes and chanting political slogans. All photos by Fatima Qureshi

    MANILA, Philippines – Over 300 striking workers from Compostela Valley are celebrating the season away from home.

    In late November, workers under Sumifru Corporation, a Japanese fresh-fruits exporting company, traveled to Manila by boat and bus to bring their protests closer to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). (READ: AFP sends soldiers to 'prevent chaos' at Japanese-owned banana plantation)

    Their camps are set up at Liwasang Bonifacio, a city square and transport hub in front of the Manila Central Post Office.

    Keeping in mind the families’ anticipation of Christmas, union leaders built their very own Christmas tree out of red plastic sheets, charcoal-hued cardboards and metal wires. The tree, according to the protesters, depicts their struggle. 

    CHRISTMAS TREE. Red stars and Christmas wishes embrace the handmade branches of the tree painted in black to convey the dismay and anger of workers at the government and Sumifru.

    “The red stars encircling the all-black tree symbolize the blood and sweat workers put in their jobs,” Francis Ruba of the labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) explained the concept of their Christmas tree on Saturday, December 22. 

    Their struggle started in early October, when more than 900 Sumifru workers launched a strike under the consolidated Nagkahiusang Mamumo sa Suyapa Farm-National Federation of Labor Unions-KMU (Namasufa-Naflu-KMU) union, with the aim of adding pressure on Sumifru Corporation to recognize all workers in a collective bargaining agreement.

    The striking workers were met with violent police dispersals, arson attacks, and the murder of Dany “Boy” Bautista, a 31-year-old banana plantation worker.

    Sumifru Corporation filed a petition with the Supreme Court to drive out the striking workers, claiming a loss of P38 million per day from the labor protest but ultimately failed to do so. The court dismissed the petition in October. 

    Saying that the strike had affected public interest, the labor department stepped in a day prior to the court's decision and assumed jurisdiction over the dispute. 

    The protesters are waiting for a resolution at a DOLE conference scheduled for Thursday, December 27. Representatives from the Sumifru Corporation are expected to face the protesters to discuss the latter's demand for fair pay and labor rights. 

    No giving up

    “The lighting ceremony isn’t Christmas for us but what we call ‘Crisis-mas.’That’s because the crisis hasn’t ended and our freedom is long overdue,” Ruba added. 

    In the days leading up to Christmas, union leaders like Ruba have arranged activities that interweave protests and parties to prove to Sumifru and the government that they’re “braving the difficulties while clutching onto hope.”  

    One of the Sumifru workers who will be spending Christmas at the camp is Gloria Delantes, also known as "Blondie." The oldest worker at the camp, Delantes left tens of her children and grandchildren back in Compostela Valley for the first time during Christmas. Despite her homesickness, the 60-year-old packing plant worker is unrelenting in her solidarity with fellow strikers.

    “I’m making a huge sacrifice because I know I can’t abandon the fight. Besides, we can never have a truly merry Christmas until our demands for fair labor practices are heard,” Delantes said.

    Bernie de los Santos, a local chapter officer of packing plant 260 and member of the Namasufa executive board also left his home in Compostela town with his wife and toddler to join the strike.

    “Despite the hardships, I’m satisfied that I’m here because my comrades and I are together in the struggle for justice,” Santos said, smiling at Bea, his 3-year-old daughter in his arms.

    “She’s my only child. It’s my wish to see her happy and in good health but it won’t be possible if her parents are unjustly treated and work in precarious conditions," Santos added in Filipino.

    Different Christmas 

    When night fell on Saturday, packing plant representatives wrote their Christmas wishes on cardboard cutouts of stars, bananas, and clenched fists as part of the lighting ceremony. Later, the laborers hung each wish on the tree wires. 

    Paul Dizon, president of Namasufa-Naflu-KMU gave a short speech to inaugurate the ceremony reminding workers about the unique pride they ought to take in the red-and-black Christmas tree.

    FAMILY. Bernie de los Santos, packing plant worker and NAMASUFA union member and his 3-year-old daughter, Bea, will be spending Christmas at the protest camp.

    “The star tree topper represents our unified anger, strength, and blood to fight on, as the lights are like our guide back home,” Dizon said.

    Dizon and the crowd of workers repeatedly clamored, “Sama-sama sa pagkilos! (Together in our struggle!)” to mark the end of their tributes and slogans. 

    “None of us asked to spend Christmas in 2018 in camps and yet here we are, making the most out of the cultural tradition with the little tools that we have," Ruba said. – Rappler.com 

    Fatima Qureshi is a Rappler intern and a full-time student pursuing a Master's in Journalism degree at the University of Hong Kong.


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    MANILA, Philippines – It's been a tough 2018 for many of us, and traffic, transport, and road safety issues (stalled MRTs, single-driver ban on EDSA, among other things) largely contributed to our daily stress.

    Whether you are a motorist or commuter, going around Metro Manila has become a shared burden.

    As Right of Way wraps up 2018 and celebrates its 1st anniversary, road safety advocate Vince Lazatin shares his wishlist for a better driving, walking, and commuting experience.

    And with 2019 just around the corner, he also shares his New Year's resolutions. – Rappler.com


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    MANILA, Philippines – A single voice is all it takes sometimes to spur a community into action.

    In 2018, digital platforms became a double-edged sword as trolls swarmed the online landscape and affected public discourse with the spread of disinformation. But social media remained a platform of hope, where communities came together to bring about positive change.

    This year, despite the hate and the falsehood, we saw communities not only inspiring courage but also taking collective action.

    Below are some of those extraordinary moments.

    Due to lack of electricity at home, student stays in school at night

    Netizens were quick and eager to help one student who stayed behind in a public school in Atimon, Quezon, to study, as Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut) neared Luzon in September.

    Mark Pee Pornasdoro, a teacher in Malusak National High School, chanced upon his student, 16-year-old Jeric Reyes, still doing his homework in the classroom past 7 pm. He took a photo, and it quickly went viral on social media.

    After learning that Reyes stayed behind because there was no electricity in his home, many netizens asked what they could do for him.

    MovePH, the civic engagement arm of Rappler, bridged the gap by listing the number of ways that people can help, as more people clamored to help the student.

    This compelling story of grit and resilience was an inspirational story both for students and teachers, and a needed reminder of the importance of education.

    Donations pour in for student who wrote ‘heartbreaking’ excuse letter

    Concerned citizens have made sure that the student who wrote a “heartbreaking” excuse letter that went viral will no longer worry about allowance.

    In July, Christian Jay Padilla Ordoña, Grade 8 adviser and Filipino teacher at Bongabon National High School in Nueva Ecija shared the now viral letter of one of his students.

    The student, Marinel V. de Guzman, 14, explained in her excuse letter that she was absent because she didn’t have any allowance for school.

    Netizens immediately took action and pledged to the school’s foundation, Anak ng Bongabon Foundation, Inc.

    The foundation has already pledged to fund Marinel until she finishes college. She will also be receiving a weekly allowance of P500.

    How netizens helped Lumad school

    Netizens helped this aspiring Lumad school, after MovePH amplified Community Technical College of Southeastern Mindanao’s call to help Lumad students finish college by donating books

    Hoping to become the first dedicated Lumad college in the Philippines, the CTCSM asked for books on science, technology, engineering, mathematics, humanities, social science, health, and agriculture.

    The school needed at least 3,500 to 5,000 books on their second year of operation to get the nod of the Commission on Higher Education.

    After the call, an influx of donations from netizens arrived for the school, making CTCSM shift its need for books to coverage of shipping fees. "Hopefully, with the success of the ongoing book drive, we shall receive CHED's nod for a permit to operate for the school year 2019-2020," school administrator Pia Perez said.

    Hotel hires interns with Down syndrome

    Netizens praised this great initiative to champion inclusivity and diversity, when a hotel in Davao City offered a 10-day training program on the basics of the hotel industry to at least 7 students with Down syndrome.

    Through a partnership between Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines, Incorporated (DSAPI) and Green Windows Hotel, the internship provided an avenue for people with Down syndrome to showcase their abilities without the stigma.

    "Meron silang strengths, may mga kaya silang gawin. Kailangan lang natin silang i-support at bigyan ng pagkakataon na ipakita 'yung mga kakayahan nila," said Joy Omar, a mother of 27-year-old Benrafii, one of the students who took part in the internship.

    (They have strengths, there are things they can do. We just need to support them and give them the chance to show what they've got.)

    Met with a strong seal of approval from the public, the initiative prompted netizens to hope for similar opportunities from other establishments that can include people with special needs.

    Inspiring election bet gets support 

     

    Thanks to social media and online clamor, Yolanda Lariosa, a barangay kagawad candidate in Patag, Cagayan de Oro, was able to get a sponsor for her campaign materials after a photo of her using old tarpaulins for her campaign went viral.

    The campaign of Lola Yolanda, as she has come to be called, has gone a long way, after she got widespread support because of her earnest effort. Online, many people wished her success and offered support through Facebook. – Rappler.com

     


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    CLEAN-UP. A street cleaner gathers used plastic bottles, plastic bags, and trash left behind by parkgoers during their holiday celebration in Luneta. Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

    MANILA, Philippines – After crowds flocked to Luneta Park to celebrate Christmas, the famous tourist destination was littered with used plastic bottles, plastic cups, and other pieces of trash left by visitors on Wednesday, December 26.

    In light of this, Ecowaste Coalition, a national network of groups advocating for sustainable solutions to waste, appealed to the public to value the environment and keep public spaces clean.

    Kung paano nating pinapanatiling maayos, ligtas at maaliwalas ang ating mga tahanan, gayundin sana ang pagtrato natin sa ating kapaligiran,” it said in its statement.

    (Just like how we keep our homes orderly, safe, and bright, we should do the same thing with our surroundings.)

    It also reminded the public that littering is strongly discouraged. Republic Act No. 9003 or the Solid Waste Management Act prohibits “littering, throwing, dumping of waste matters in public places, such as roads, sidewalks, canals, esteros or parks, and establishment, or causing or permitting the same,” with penalties ranging from fines of P300 to P500 or community service for 1-15 days.

    Ang pagkakalat ay isang masamang ugali na sumasalamin sa ating kawalang respeto at pagmamalasakit kay Inang Kalikasan at sa ating kapwa,” it added.

    (Littering is bad behavior that mirrors our disrespect and lack of concern for Mother Nature and humankind.)

    Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada also advised the public to be responsible with their trash.

    Maging responsable sa pagtatapon ng inyong mga basura upang mapanatili ang ganda ng Maynila,” he said. (Be responsible for disposing your trash, so we can preserve the beauty of Manila.)

    The Department of Tourism (DOT) joined the appeal to keep parks clean.

    In a statement issued also on Wednesday, the DOT said: "We would like to remind everyone that preserving our country's destinations is also the duty of its citizens. Let us be responsible tourists by throwing our trash in the proper trash bins. While we continue our efforts to maintain the quality of our tourist sites, we look forward to your cooperation this coming New Year celebration."

    Various public parks and spaces, aside from Luneta Park, have also been littered with trash from visitors after the holiday celebrations. Some of these are Doña Leonila Park in Laguna, and Plaza Mabini in Batangas.

    {source}<iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fruben.taningco%2Fposts%2F2444576562224890&width=500" width="500" height="808" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allow="encrypted-media"></iframe>{/source}

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    – Rappler.com


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    Luneta photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

    MANILA, Philippines – Many Filipinos were dismayed by the trash left by visitors in Luneta Park on Wednesday morning, December 26, following the Christmas celebration of thousands of people in the Philippines' prime tourist spot.

    Plastics, bottles, and other pieces of garbage were left strewn on the ground.

    As photos of the Christmas Day aftermath in Luneta Park gained traction online, netizens called out parkgoers for littering the public park.

    Netizens criticized them for being “uncivilized” and “undisciplined.”

    Several people pointed out that the Filipinos have a long way to go in catching up with other progressive countries, as citizens still struggle to follow simple rules such as properly disposing their trash.

    Some even lamented that the lack of discipline manifested in the piles of trash in Luneta Park may be a reason why the Philippines remains underdeveloped.

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Unfortunately, Filipinos still have a lot of catching up to do before qualifying as “civilised people”.</p>&mdash; Robert Cristobal (@meanderings101) <a href="https://twitter.com/meanderings101/status/1077784548098768896?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">December 26, 2018</a></blockquote>

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

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="tl" dir="ltr">The massive trash at Luneta Park after Christmas was so nakakahiyang maging Pilipino. Dapat talaga may mahigpit na law about littering =/</p>&mdash; Kevin Perello (@kevinperello) <a href="https://twitter.com/kevinperello/status/1077796440431243264?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">December 26, 2018</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="tl" dir="ltr">Kagabi habang dumaan kami sa luneta nakita ko na ang daming tao and expected ko na yung kalat na mangyayari kasi toan taon na lang e, wala nang nagbago, konting disiplina naman sa mga tao diyan, sinisira niyo na nga yung kalikasan, sinisira niyo pa yung imahe ng bayan.</p>&mdash; ánna  (@fa_yie) <a href="https://twitter.com/fa_yie/status/1077823265664491520?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">December 26, 2018</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

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    {source}

    <iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/comment_embed.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Frapplerdotcom%2Fposts%2F2395890110431758%3Fcomment_id%3D2395894023764700&include_parent=false" width="560" height="141" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allow="encrypted-media"></iframe>{/source}

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    While others blamed visitors of the park for the tons of trash in the area, a number of netizens also saw the need for improvement in strictly enforcing laws that address littering. 

    Republic Act No. 9003, or the Solid Waste Management Act prohibits “littering, throwing, dumping of waste matters in public places, such as roads, sidewalks, canals, esteros or parks, and establishment, or causing or permitting the same,” with penalties ranging from fines of P300 to P500 or community service for 1-15 days.

    Netizens acknowledged that though the visitors lacked discipline, the situation also could have been handled better if there were enough trash bins in the vicinity. Both the government and park authorities, as well as parkgoers have a role to play in ensuring proper waste disposal in the area.

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">I saw a video of this posted, the absence of trash cans and recycled items collection bins around the areas is very noticeable! <br>The government or the park authorities should have provided the visitors with those at every turns and corners!</p>&mdash; Noel Aquino (@noelaquino) <a href="https://twitter.com/noelaquino/status/1077796399343820800?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">December 26, 2018</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

    {source}

    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Why not place several trash bins at Luneta Park where people can put their &quot;basura&quot;. If there are already perhaps they are not sufficient.</p>&mdash; Romeo Hitosis (@romyhitosis1) <a href="https://twitter.com/romyhitosis1/status/1077789314136793090?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">December 26, 2018</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

    {source}

    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="tl" dir="ltr">Ang heartbreaking makita na puro basura sa Luneta. Alam natin na resulta ito ng kawalan ng values education sa elementary/hs natin. </p>&mdash; Mugen 無限 (@tr1pnautic) <a href="https://twitter.com/tr1pnautic/status/1077792923096240130?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">December 26, 2018</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

    {source}

    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="tl" dir="ltr">NEXT CHRISTMAS, SANA D PUMAYAG ANG GOVT MAG CELEBRATE ANG MGA TAO SA LUNETA</p>&mdash; A P R I L  (@aprhaellane) <a href="https://twitter.com/aprhaellane/status/1077801335867662336?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">December 26, 2018</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

    What are your thoughts on this issue? – Rappler.com

    Lisa Marie David is a Rappler intern and a 4th year AB Journalism student at the University of Santo Tomas.


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    MANILA, Philippines – This Christmas, 3 people captivated netizens’ hearts as they gave back to their community through their own acts of kindness.

    While everyone was busy preparing for their Christmas and New Year celebrations, let’s not forget these 3 people who warmed our hearts as they showed the true spirit of Christmas. 

    11-year-old AJ Pasuquin

    AJ truly took the phrase “receive and give back” to heart, as he used all of of his money he received from his ninongs and ninangs to prepare and give food to the homeless.

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    Netizens commended AJ for his act, sending him their blessings for his good deeds.

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    Jeff Rodriguez was so inspired by the kid that he hopes he could join AJ next Christmas in preparing food for the homeless.

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    'Taho' vendor Ador Laud

    Ador was determined to give his Christmas gift to his loyal customers as he didn’t mind walking through the heavy rain just so he could deliver free "taho."

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    Anita Beato, the customer who posted about Mang Ador on facebook said she was touched by Ador’s gesture, especially since it was in the middle of a heavy downpour.

    “Naglako pa din siya, hindi para kumita kundi para bigyan lang ng libreng taho ang mga suki niya bilang pamasko. Sana patuloy siyang bigyan ng kalakasan ng katawan at patuloy na pagpalain," said Beato.

    (He still went out not so he can earn money but to give free taho to his loyal customers as a Christmas gift. I hope he remains in good health and continues to be blessed.)

    Jenica Cupat, a long-time customer, recalled  Ador was the same taho vendor from her childhood who always gave them free taho every Christmas, and even gave kids free taho when they had no money to pay for it.

    Other users sent out praise for the vendor, looking up to him for his holiday kindness.

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    Jeepney driver Teodoro Lisay Jr

    Lisay lowered his jeepney ride fare to only P5 as a Christmas present to his passengers.

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    Christian Ray Villanueva, a passenger who experienced the 5-peso fare, said he was surprised and amazed with what Teodoro did, considering the expensive gas prices that drivers pay.

    Sana ipagpatuloy niya (Teodoro) pa ang pagtulong sa kapwa kahit sa simpleng paraan ay nakapagpasaya siya ng maraming tao. Sana patuloy siyang biyayaan ng Diyos, hindi lang siya, pati na rin ang kanyang pamilya,” added Villanueva.

    (I hope he continues helping others even in his own little way he made other people happy. I hope the Lord continue to bless him and also his family.)

    People were inspired with the driver’s generosity. Despite the hard work he needs to put into his job, he still managed to give a humble Christmas gift to his passengers.

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    These 3 people showed that no matter how small your gestures are, kindness does not go unnoticed. It has the potential to inspire and put a smile on someone’s face.

    Have you met other real-life Santas this Christmas season? Share them with us in the comments section below! – Rappler.com

    Jaira Krishelle Balboa is Rappler intern. She is a 4th year B.A. Journalism student at the Polythecnic University of the Philippines.


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    MANILA, Philippines – If there was one word to describe Filipinos on social media in 2018, it was "woke." 

    While the spread of disinformation remained the toughest issue netizens had to deal with on social media, they were not spared other major social and political issues in 2018. 

    Filipino netizens made sure that there was no time to sit back and relax. Instead, they took to social media to air their sentiments and views on these issues.

    From defending press freedom to the issue of bullying, Rappler lists down 2018's most talked about issues on Philippine social media.

    Revocation of Rappler’s license

    It was a tough 2018 for Rappler, as the news organization started the year with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) revoking its license to operate for allegedly violating the Constitution through the issuance of Philippine Depositary Receipts to Omidyar Network.

    The SEC's kill order is the first of its kind in history – both for the Commission and for the Philippine media. The news organization, however, maintains it is a clear form of harassment. (READ: Stand with Rappler, defend press freedom)

    For netizens, the move was a blatant effort to silence the press for its critical and fearless reporting. (READ: 'Rappler now, who's next?' – netizens)

    "Rappler now. Who's next? Everyone is not safe unless you play along, but what happens to democracy if and when everyone plays along to whoever is in the administration?" Twitter user @_LittleRedShoe said in a post.

    Bloggers, school organizations, press groups, and journalism youth groups also rallied behind Rappler, posting statements of solidarity with the company. Journalists' organizations, as well as lawmakers, also issued statements of support for Rappler, all condemning the SEC decision as an attack on press freedom.

    Rappler filed a partial motion for reconsideration with the Court of Appeals asking it to annul the SEC decision.

    Aside from license revocation, Rappler also faces tax cases before the Court of Tax Appeals and a Pasig court. (READ: Maria Ressa, Rappler Holdings charged in court for alleged tax evasion)

    PCOO blunders

    The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) drew criticism for a string of mistakes on its articles in 2018. Not once, not twice, but thrice.

    Netizens spotted an error in a post on the PCOO's official Facebook page about outgoing Norwegian Ambassador to the Philippines Erik Forner, who paid President Rodrigo Duterte a farewell call in Malacañang. In its caption, Forner was dubbed "the representative of Norwegia."

    Forner's nation, however, is known the world over as Norway.

    The original post was edited, but netizens continued to flood its comments thread with indignation.

    A day later, the PCOO drew flak yet again for using the wrong name for the late National Security Adviser Jose Roilo Golez in its media releases. In a tweet, PCOO referred to the late National Security Adviser and former Parañaque congressman Roilo Golez as "Rogelio." Golez's first name, however, is not Rogelio but Jose Roilo.

    In its third mistake, it was the name of a senator – Sherwin Gatchalian – the agency got wrong.

    A PCOO article published on June 13 marked the ceremonial signing of an agreement between the Commission on Higher Education and state universities, colleges, and local universities for the implementation of Republic Act No. 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act. The signing was witnessed by President Rodrigo Duterte and other public officials.

    Senator Sherwin Gatchalian pointed out the mistake himself.

    Mocha Uson's federalism video

    Mocha Uson also found herself in hot water over a video on federalism. (READ: Why don't you just say sorry, Mocha?)

    "Have the decency to apologize," wrote one netizen, tagging @MochaUson on Twitter. "Then again, maybe that's wishful thinking?"

    Netizens raged online over a video of then Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson and blogger Drew Olivar, which featured them explaining federalism in a song-and-dance number.

    Olivar danced with his hands on his chest and crotch area while chanting, "I-pepe, i-pepe, i-dede, i-dede... ipederalismo!" The words "pepe" and "dede" are colloquial terms for vagina and breasts, respectively.

    Just last year, Uson also made headlines for spreading disinformation online. (READ: Mocha Uson: Fake news victim or fake news peddler?)

    After a year and 5 months of government work marred by controversy, Uson resigned.

    This came after lawmakers, citizens' groups, and Uson's own colleagues at the PCOO called on her to step down or for Duterte to fire her.

    After resignation, she filed her certificate of nomination and certificate of acceptance of nomination (CONA) to run for AA-Kasosyo party-list representative.

    The return of Gloria Arroyo

    It might just be the State of the Nation Address (SONA) 2018's biggest plot twist, netizens said.

    Now, few of the people who watched the pre-SONA drama in the House of Representatives on July 23 might have likened the plot twist to Game of Thrones, where the fate of most characters are unpredictable and ever-changing.

    In true Game of Thrones fashion, former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Pampanga 2nd District Representative, was supposed to have become the new House Speaker following a "vote" in the House of Representatives. Her "election" was less than an hour before the 4 pm SONA was to have unseated Davao del Norte 1st District Representative Pantaleon Alvarez.

    As expected, netizens were shocked by the turn of events, as well as the sight of Arroyo – last thrust into the limelight when she was acquitted of plunder and freed from nearly 4 years of detention – standing on the House rostrum, waving to fellow lawmakers, and taking what appeared to be her oath as the new Speaker.

    Many compared Arroyo's seeming political comeback to the popular Game of Thrones character, Queen Cersei, who also had a love-hate relationship with power.

    On December 28, the Pasay City Regional Trial Court  Branch 112 cleared Speaker Arroyo of electoral sabotage, a case that stemmed from the alleged rigging of the 2007 senatorial elections.

    PNP’s ‘double standard’ towards Imelda Marcos

    Social media momentarily erupted with celebration when news came out that the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan convicted Ilocos Norte 2nd District Representative Imelda Marcos of 7 counts of graft. (READ: DOCUMENT: Full decision convicting Imelda Marcos over illegal Swiss foundations)

    The celebration, however, was short-lived as people began to ask whether she would go to jail or not?

    The stark contrast between how PNP was handling the former first lady's case and other recent controversial arrest cases did not escape the attention of many Filipino netizens. (READ: Netizens angered by PNP double standard towards Imelda Marcos)

    The Philippine National Police (PNP) primarily cited Imelda Marcos’ old age when asked why they did not send an advance team to standby for a court order for her arrest. (READ: No cuffs for Imelda Marcos if arrested – PNP)

    If health and age are factors for cops when they conduct their arrest, netizens asked: What about the old man detained after stealing a bar of chocolate?

    Sereno ouster, De Castro's appointment

    People were not pleased with President Duterte's appointment of Teresita de Castro as Supreme Court Chief Justice, replacing the ousted Maria Lourdes Sereno. (READ: 'Ayawan na': Netizens dismayed by De Castro's appointment as Chief Justice)

    This came as no surprise, as De Castro has already been lambasted earlier as "rude" and "egoistic" by netizens for her heated exchange with Sereno during the oral arguments on the quo warranto petition for Sereno's ouster.

    De Castro served as Chief Justice from August 2018 until her retirement on October 8.

    President Duterte appointed Lucas Bersamin as the new Chief Justice.

    Ateneo bullying incident

    Netizens took to social media to demand accountability from Ateneo de Manila University over the video of a bullying incident that went viral on December 20.

    The hashtag #NeverTolerateBullying trended on Twitter as netizens called on the academic institution to act swiftly and decisively over the serious incidents of bullying which Ateneo de Manila Junior High School (AJHS) initially described as a “fighting video.”

     After calls for action, Ateneo dismissed the high school student who was caught bullying.  

    Which of these issues got you ‘shookt’ the most? Sound off in the comments! Rappler.com


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    MANILA, Philippines – Irate netizens and environmental groups voiced their criticism on social media over Cove Manila's attempt to land in the Guiness World Records with the largest balloon drop during its New Year's eve countdown.

    As of posting, Cove Manila's announcement has garnered some 17,000 reactions, mostly disapproving of the event.

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    Cove Manila said in a Facebook post that the event is "not a whimsical effort to just 'play' with thousands of balloons" but an effort to make a new world record for the country and demonstrate fun in a responsible way.

    "Firstly, the balloons are biodegradable. Secondly, the balloon drop has been planned with solid environmental management protocols in place to minimize, if not eliminate, any possible impact on the environment. And thirdly, we are recycling all the balloons and creatively turning them into something useful," said Cove Manila in a post.

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    In a comment, Cove Manila also said that the balloon drop will happen in an enclosed space. They also assured netizens that the property consistently follows the local government unit’s waste disposal guidelines. These standards would be applied during the upcoming NYE2019 event.

    But these assurances by Cove Manila did not stop individuals and groups in condemning the event.

    The environment group The Climate Reality Project said that using plastic balloons is a wasteful act.

    "Even if this will be done indoors, #DropBalloonDrop Cove Manila's balloon drop must be stopped. It is unsustainable, wasteful and ecologically apathetic. How about 130,000 rose petals or 130,000 leaves? Or growing 130,000 indigenous trees to offset your carbon emissions?," said in a statement.

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    Climate Reality also tagged Guinness World Records to remind them that they must be consistent with their stand of  no longer recording environmental challenges.

    According to the Guinness World Record website, record managers will no longer monitor actions that have detrimental impact on the environment.

    "Record managers are sensitive to record attempts that prove detrimental to the environment. The record for the most kongming lanterns (sky lanterns) flown simultaneously, for example, was rested due to environmental concerns. The record was 15,185 and was achieved by the Middle Way Meditation Institute (Philippines) in Miago, Iloilo, Philippines on 24th May 2013," as posted on Guinness World Record's site.

    Below are some netizens' comments on the posts:

    {source}<iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/comment_embed.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fcovemanila%2Fposts%2F581895685582376%3Fcomment_id%3D586645765107368&include_parent=false" width="560" height="140" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allow="encrypted-media"></iframe>{/source}

    {source}<iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/comment_embed.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fcovemanila%2Fposts%2F581895685582376%3Fcomment_id%3D582390715532873&include_parent=false" width="560" height="160" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allow="encrypted-media"></iframe>{/source}

    {source}<iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/comment_embed.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fcovemanila%2Fposts%2F581895685582376%3Fcomment_id%3D582276862210925&include_parent=false" width="560" height="180" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allow="encrypted-media"></iframe>{/source}

    {source}<iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/comment_embed.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fcovemanila%2Fposts%2F581895685582376%3Fcomment_id%3D586831888422089&include_parent=false" width="560" height="160" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allow="encrypted-media"></iframe>{/source}

    {source}<iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/comment_embed.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fcovemanila%2Fposts%2F581895685582376%3Fcomment_id%3D586799991758612&include_parent=false" width="560" height="180" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allow="encrypted-media"></iframe>{/source}

     – Rappler.com 


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    MANILA, Philippines – Tropical Depression Usman, which made landfall on Saturday, December 29, and weakened into a low pressure area, triggered flash floods and landslides in different parts of Luzon and Visayas. 

    Authorities reported on Monday, December 31, that the death toll from Usman rose to 68. Of this number, 57 people died in the Bicol Region, while 11 died in Samar, mostly due to landslides and drownings. 

    Here's a list of relief operations:

    Philippine Red Cross

    The Philippine Red Cross is accepting donations in cash and in kind.

    Cash donations may be made through bank deposit via the following details:

    Banco de Oro
    Account name: Philippine Red Cross
    Branch: Port Area, Manila

    For peso deposit: 00-453-0190938
    For dollar deposit: 10-453-0039482

    Swift code: BNORPHMM

     

    Metrobank
    Account name: Philippine Red Cross
    Branch: Port Area, Manila

    For peso deposit: 151-7-15152434-2
    For dollar deposit: 151-2-15100218-2

    Swift code: MBTCPHMM

     

    For coordination or queries, you may contact Shervi Corpuz at (02) 790-2413 or (63 917) 834-8378, and RizzaGenil at (02) 790-2410, or email emergencyappeal@redcross.org.ph

    The Camarines Sur Chapter of the Philippine Red Cross is also accepting donations in cash and in kind. You may bring or send donation to the Philippine Red Cross-Camarines Sur Chapter beside ABS-CBN, Panganiban Drive, Naga City.

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    Team Albay Youth Organization

    The group is accepting water, ready-to-eat food, blankets, tarpaulins, and other relief items. You may contact TAYO at 0927-665-4715 and drop your pledges at:

    • Door 2 Citisphere Bldg., Imelda Roces Avenue, Brgy. 38, Gogon, Legazpi City

    Cash donations may also be made through bank deposit via the following details:

    MetroBank
    Account name: Team Albay Youth Organizations Inc
    Account number: 595-759-500-460-4

    {source}<iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Ftayo.inc%2Fposts%2F1467614410041206&width=500" width="500" height="663" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allow="encrypted-media"></iframe>{/source}

     

    Caritas-Caceres Development Center

    The Caritas-Caceres (Social Action Commission) in Camarines Sur is accepting cash and in-kind donations to help families in need of food, clothes, blankets, and mats. You may drop them off at the Caritas-Caceres Development Center Zone 1, Cadlan, Pili, Camarines Sur.

    For coordination, you may contact Fr. Marc DP. Real via mobile +639772646884. – Rappler.com


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     RETRIEVAL OPS. Members of the Philippine Red Cross - Camarines Sur carry a body bag containing a cadaver from a landslide area in the province. Photo courtesy of Philippine Red Cross - Camarines Sur

    MANILA, Philippines – Due to the floods and landslides triggered by Tropical Depression Usman, disaster response teams from the local government and non-government organizations spent the last days of 2018 in rescue and retrieval operations.

    Usman made landfall in Borongan, Eastern Samar, at 6 am on Saturday, December 29, then weakened into a low pressure area (LPA) but continued affecting Camarines Sur and other parts of the Bicol region.

    LANDSLIDE. Residents, policemen and rescue teams assess the landslide area in Barangay Patitinan, Sagñay, Camarines Sur. Photo courtesy of Radel Chavez Jr

    As of Monday, December 31, authorities reported that the death toll from Usman rose to 68. Of this number, 57 people died in the Bicol Region, while 11 fatalities were in Samar, mostly due to landslides and drownings. (READ: How much rain did Tropical Depression Usman bring?)

    ASSISTANCE. Members of the Philippine Red Cross - Camarines Sur provide a psychosocial service briefing to Benjie de Lima of San Vicente in Baao town, who lost his wife and 4 children on Sunday. Photo courtesy of Philippine Red Cross-CamSur

    Residents and church officials in Camarines Sur appealed for assistance especially for the most affected by the calamity.

    Here are some photos of the rescue and retrieval operations:

    RESCUE. A disaster responder carries an old man amid a knee-level flood. Photo courtesy of Philippine Red Cross - Camarines Sur

    REVIVAL. Responders rescue a child from the landslide area in Patitinan, Sagñay, Camarines Sur. Photo courtesy of Radel Chavez Jr  

    DEAD. Cadavers are positioned for identification in a community center in the province. Photo Courtesy of Philippine Red Cross - Camarines Sur

    GRIEF. Four wake announcement boards welcome mourners at a house in San Vicente, Baao, Camarines Sur. Photo courtesy of Philippine Red Cross-CamSur

    Following the calamity, the local government units and various non-government organizations have since started extending assistance for the victims. Here's a list of some ongoing relief operations initiated by the following groups:

    1. Philippine Red Cross - Camarines Sur Chapter

    2. Team Albay Youth Organization

    3. Caritas-Caceres Development Center

    – Rappler.com

     


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    CHRISTMAS SPIRIT. Kids from various parts of the Philippines benefit from the outreach programs participated by Rappler Movers. Playing kids photo from Robe Reyes; Aeta and seminarians photos from Jeff Limon; writing kids photo from Jerico Samson

    MANILA, Philippines – While most people spent the last days of 2018 traveling and hanging out, Rappler Movers made sure the remaning days of the year counted as they brought the spirit of Christmas to various communities.

    The Movers were motivated by the goal of passing on the blessings they received in 2018.

    “There's no other happier thing than giving back to people what we received during 2018. Because this will be the time when you'll realize that you are blessed and that you became fruitful the whole [year] which you can look up to on the next year as motivation to work harder and help more people,” said Pangasinan Mover Jerico Samson.

    On December 27, Samson, who had been volunteering in outreach events since 2016, was with a non-governmental organization in Lingayen City to distribute food, school supplies, and toys.

    MORE THAN GIFTS. A volunteer in Lingayen, Pangasinan assists kids in writing during an outreach event at the plaza. Photo courtesy of Jerico Samson

    Moving on from horrific experiences

    In Pagadian City, Zamboanga del Sur, Mover Carl Berwin and his family and friends celebrated Christmas by reaching out to those in need.

    Berwin and his team gave gifts at a social welfare and development center for abused and abandoned children.

    Having done such activities for the last 3 years, Berwin shared that joining outreach activities and listening to stories of the children helped him to connect with people, his annual fuel for inspiration.

    “[I found] another family of course. Most of these kids are abandoned by their parents and it’s something we can extend to them. It’s also a reminder that I should value more what I have and to always look back to these people,” he said.

    Berwin said he heard a lot of horrific stories, including a girl who was raped by her own father and a minor who was forced to become a prostitute and now had 4 kids.

    Such stories, he said, has motivated him to continue pursuing social initiatives.

    Movers' hangout for a cause

    Seven Movers in Isabela City, Basilan, volunteered for an outreach event organized for various beneficiaries such as the families of local members of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit and the children of former rebels.

    Jamju Rivera said that though they were not formally identified as a group of Movers in the event, they were all happy as their initiative in helping others also allowed them to keep track of each other's noble pursuits and reminded them of their common goal of helping others.

    “Each of us live busy lives that most often we're not able to see each other on a regular basis. So activities such as these [are important] because we have a common purpose and we get to do things we enjoy…together! It's like a family picnic for a cause,” shared Rivera.

    GIFT-GIVING. Movers in Isabela City, Basilan, share the table with children for distribution of Christmas gifts. Photo courtesy of Jamju Rivera

    Bags from generous hearts

    In Bohol, Mover Dandreb Arro and his team sold bags to raise funds for children with special needs. They also sought to generate interest for people to adopt communities.

    “Our project shows that when one steps up to the challenge and others pledge their help, we can put smiles in the faces of the children,” shared Arro.

    Arro is also raising fund for other beneficiaries such as the children of Mantatao, Calape, an island-community in Bohol which had been constantly flooded after a strong earthquake sank the island years ago.

    Reaching the marginalized

    In Isabela, heavy rains did not stop Mover Jeff Limon and his co-seminarians in reaching out to an Aeta community in Ilagan City.

    Limon and his colleagues went to various Catholic churches in the province during the traditional 9-day dawn masses or Simbang Gabi to solicit donations from parishioners.

    “We conducted it to share the joy of Christmas and as seminarians, we have been receiving a lot of blessings that’s why it is high time to share those blessings,” he said.

    Aside from giving out food packs for Noche Buena, his group also offered mass to the community. During the time spent with the Aeta, he  realized that people not only longed for material gifts but also for spiritual upliftment.

    SPIRITUAL GIFT. An Aeta mother receives holy communion during a mass which is part of an outreach activity organized by seminarians in Ilagan City, Isabela. Photo courtesy of Jeff Limon

    Limon said that the joy they saw in the faces of the Aeta  inspired them to continue their seminary formation. They also hope that they would be able to continue carrying the light of Christ to others this year.

    For Limon, everyone must recognize the blessings they receive because that ignites the act of sharing throughout the year.

    These initiatives, which are beyond the scope of student journalism – the foremost responsibility of a Mover – just goes to show that the Movers are living up to the advocacies of Rappler and MovePH, Rappler's civic engagement arm.

    Helping and reaching out to people, especially the poorest of the poor, could inspire more people to also strive to bring smiles and inspiration to others in  2019. – Rappler.com


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    AIRPORT BEHAVIOR. Tony Labrusca draws flak for his behavior towards immigration officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airpor.

    MANILA, Philippines – Netizens are once again heating up over Glorious actor Tony Labrusca.

    This time, however, it's not because of an intimate screen scene but of the attitude he reportedly showed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on Thursday, January 3. 

    In a now-deleted tweet, the actor wrote: “Just landed in Manila and the Philippine Immigration only gave me 30 days here. LOL.”

    Following the incident, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Friday, January 4, released a statement.

    “The celebrity, who the agency refused to name, is an American passport holder who reportedly shouted expletives when he was only given a 30-day stay. He was allegedly furious at immigration for giving him a hard time, despite him being a celebrity, with people wanting to take pictures with him,” it said.

    For Twitter user @hoysuing, people must not tolerate foreigners like Labrusca who  disrespect Philippines airport officials “for doing their job.”

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">We must not tolerate foreigners like Tony Labrusca who make money out of us just for having abs, and then go on to disrespect our fellow Filipinos, officials no less, for doing their job. <br><br>Deport the asshole.</p>&mdash; i argue for fun.(@hoysuing) <a href="https://twitter.com/hoysuing/status/1081064345822420992?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 4, 2019</a></blockquote><script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

    Meanwhile, Twitter user @mcvillaranda said it was ironic to see Labrusca disrespecting immigration officers given the fact that he was born and raised in the United States — “a country where people give extra respect to uniformed men.”

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Ironical na si Tony Labrusca who was born and bred in the US where people respect people in uniform had the guts to disrespect immigration officers of the country where he was trying to seek balikbayan admission since he’s of Filipino decent. Pero binastos niya.</p>&mdash; Charise(@mcvillaranda) <a href="https://twitter.com/mcvillaranda/status/1080841811994656768?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 3, 2019</a></blockquote><script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

    Attacking identity irrelevant

    Hours after the incident, screenshots of a comment on Labrusca’s Instagram post circulated online.

    A certain @brandonbrandonmendoza said Labrusca was with his boyfriend, who tried to pacify him, but the actor ignored him.

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Just saw this comment on the IG of Tony Labrusca post Immigration row. <a href="https://t.co/hFoiTWOvGx">pic.twitter.com/hFoiTWOvGx</a></p>&mdash; Ar Nel G. TamaGos (@ArnelGenito) <a href="https://twitter.com/ArnelGenito/status/1081183519697596417?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 4, 2019</a></blockquote>

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

    Film director Kip Oebanda said Mendoza’s comment about Labrusca being gay was irrelevant, saying, “2019 na, utak 1719 pa rin  (It’s 2019, but the mindset dates back to 1719)."

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">I get that what Tony Labrusca allegedly did was bad, but how are these allegations of homosexuality relevant to his character? 2019 na utak 1719 pa rin.</p>&mdash; Kip Oebanda (@kipoebanda) <a href="https://twitter.com/kipoebanda/status/1081127952312459264?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 4, 2019</a></blockquote><script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

    This was echoed by Twitter user @_itsmetonton, who said people should just focus on the issue.

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Yes, what he did is wrong butttt outing him is uncalled for. Also, people should focus on the issue and the fact that Tony Labrusca is an asshole not that he is gay or not. <a href="https://t.co/LEUb3GsSsc">https://t.co/LEUb3GsSsc</a></p>&mdash; tapsyy(@_itsmetonton) <a href="https://twitter.com/_itsmetonton/status/1081110188797489152?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 4, 2019</a></blockquote><script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

    Netizens said what the actor did was wrong but shaming him for his supposed sexual orientation was a “low blow.”

    @realtalkbitch10 said it was unacceptable for Mendoza, whom he claimed to be a government employee, to expose something personal which was beside the point.

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Leaking personal information of Tony Labrusca in social media by a government employee is a BIG NO ! You need to be responsible about you post about your job !<br><br>Call a lawyer while it’s early ! <a href="https://t.co/jr5E6lcK9e">pic.twitter.com/jr5E6lcK9e</a></p>&mdash; Daisy Duck (@realtalkbitch10) <a href="https://twitter.com/realtalkbitch10/status/1081096665564672000?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 4, 2019</a></blockquote><script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

    Labrusca apologizes

    A day after the incident, Labrusca took to Twitter to apologize.

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="und" dir="ltr"><a href="https://t.co/ymxuqBspua">pic.twitter.com/ymxuqBspua</a></p>&mdash; Tony Labrusca (@tonythesharky) <a href="https://twitter.com/tonythesharky/status/1081184995639582720?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 4, 2019</a></blockquote><script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

    Though sorry for taking out his frustrations on immigration officer, the actor denied the allegations hurled against him.

    "It was very upsetting for me. And I'm sorry that somehow, I took my frustrations out on the officer. But never did I ever call anyone stupid, nor an idiot much less brag about being a celebrity. I know for a fact that the officer is merely doing her job. My biggest mistake perhaps was letting my emotion get the better of me and again, I'm sorry," he said.

    Here are some of the other tweets about the incident.

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">I bet Tony Labrusca is one of those FilAms who says they know what Filipino culture is because they ate Jollibee 5 years ago <a href="https://t.co/N6mdnKYBAb">pic.twitter.com/N6mdnKYBAb</a></p>&mdash; Jessica Brown (@jesssicabroown) <a href="https://twitter.com/jesssicabroown/status/1080982179637850112?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 4, 2019</a></blockquote><script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Am i reading these online craze right? People are too focus on Tony Labrusca&#39;s alleged boyfriend and his sexuality? Shaming him for his alleged sexuality and his foreign status? That online post of an immigration official is sooo tabloid level, very vindictive.</p>&mdash; RHADEM (@TheMuslimGayGuy) <a href="https://twitter.com/TheMuslimGayGuy/status/1081082459050180608?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 4, 2019</a></blockquote><script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The Tony Labrusca incident shows how social media is powerful, but can be used improperly.<br><br>Tony, it showed the world your ignorance &amp; sense of entitlement. You learned a lesson in a very public way.<br><br>To the person who outed Tony: may ur GF tell the world how small your dick is.</p>&mdash; Kuya.Kean (@Keansworld1) <a href="https://twitter.com/Keansworld1/status/1081148156983750657?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 4, 2019</a></blockquote><script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Yes Tony labrusca&#39;s alleged act is quite alarming and to others as disappointing. Maybe we should also know his side of the story before jumping into conclusions.</p>&mdash; Sarah Casuga (@sarahcasuga) <a href="https://twitter.com/sarahcasuga/status/1081105791837364225?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 4, 2019</a></blockquote><script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The tale of a guy with abs, and good looks. Pero walang manners at feeling very entitled. It is also a tale of fans who are blinded by their idol.<br><br>aka Tony Labrusca.</p>&mdash; romulo sotelo (@marklesterrific) <a href="https://twitter.com/marklesterrific/status/1080975120867385344?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 3, 2019</a></blockquote><script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">tony labrusca serving us privileged amboy realness at the start of 2019 <a href="https://t.co/EqdhpkZiOf">pic.twitter.com/EqdhpkZiOf</a></p>&mdash; g (@grasyalav) <a href="https://twitter.com/grasyalav/status/1081003930023129088?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 4, 2019</a></blockquote><script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">okay people get it, tony labrusca was rude and he has to face the consequences.<br><br>but bro, leaking private information that is not even integral to what happened is just... low.<br><br>and now people are bashing him, using his sexuality and stuff, okay ka na? <br><br>you&#39;re a flimsy fish.</p>&mdash; Kyuji Watanabe. (@kyujiewatanabe) <a href="https://twitter.com/kyujiewatanabe/status/1081134837472276482?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 4, 2019</a></blockquote><script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Can we go back to Tony Labrusca&#39;s misdemeanour and not try to out the guy? It doesn&#39;t matter if you &quot;know&quot; for &quot;sure&quot;, it has nothing to do with acting like a dick.</p>&mdash; ΑΛΔ (@makadiwata) <a href="https://twitter.com/makadiwata/status/1081041344934506496?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 4, 2019</a></blockquote><script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Attack Tony Labrusca for what he was; an asshole. But outing him? Come on. That’s pretty low.</p>&mdash; nico (@nicoalano_) <a href="https://twitter.com/nicoalano_/status/1081053611465920513?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 4, 2019</a></blockquote><script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">What tony labrusca did was disrespectful but I don&#39;t get how him having a boyfriend should be included in the narrative. So he has a boyfriend, maybe he&#39;s gay/ bi/ another gender, but some people are really focusing on that?? Focus on how he&#39;s being a dick not on how he uses it.</p>&mdash; ☾ (@jrflmr) <a href="https://twitter.com/jrflmr/status/1081145214184480769?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 4, 2019</a></blockquote><script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

    Rappler.com


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    FLOODED SCHOOLS. Several schools in Camarines Sur and Oriental Mindoro experience flooding due to Tropical Depression Usman. File photos from Roel Paul Registrado and Twitter user @opparisyon

    MANILA, Philippines – In 2018, just days after Christmas, Tropical Depression Usman stormed through parts of Luzon and Visayas and dumped large volumes of rainfall in just two days.

    The onslaught of Usman brought flooding caused by heavy rain in several parts of the country. Landslide incidents were reported in areas in Albay and Camarines Sur.

    How did Usman affect schools?

    At a situation briefing led by President Rodrigo Duterte in Camarines Sur, Education Secretary Leonor Briones gave a tentative estimate of P237 million ($4.52 million)* in damage to school buildings in affected areas. This excludes the school computers funded by the Department of Education (DepEd).

    Aside from damage to school infrastructure, Tropical Depression Usman also claimed many lives.

    As of January 3, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported 122 deaths related to Tropical Depression Usman. At least 28 people also remained missing, while 60 were injured.

    Briones disclosed in the situation briefing on Friday, January 4, that 32 of the casualties were learners.

    "When these tragedies happen at night, usually the children are the most helpless," Briones said.

    In case of disasters, the DepEd has a quick response fund of P2 billion ($38.17 million). However, with the extent of the damage brought by Usman and other disasters in 2018, Briones shared that DepEd may have exhausted all available funds for quick response.

    "We estimate already that with Ompong, and the other earlier disasters, maubos na 'yung P2 billion na 'yan (the P2 billion will be used up) plus Usman. So after Usman, we probably will already have exhausted available funds for quick response," Briones said.

    Although schools are built to withstand disasters that bring strong winds, Briones noticed that it may be time to adjust school infrastructure according to new natural hazards in the area.

    "We have been watching the pattern of the damage caused by natural disasters and traditionally, this will be caused by strong typhoons, strong winds.... But now we noticed that a tropical depression can unleash and trigger tragedies and destruction of even greater magnitude. This is because of floods and landslides," she explained.

    In light of recent disasters, Briones said features protecting schools from natural hazards may need to be reevaluated, especially if a tropical depression could already trigger floods and landslides.

    Although DepEd's current concern is to fix damaged school buildings, Briones also proposed changes that may help schools cope with landslides and floods.

    These include slope protection for schools found at the foot or top of hills, higher elevation of schools, and the transfer of schools from sites that were previously deemed safe but have become hazardous areas.

    "We cannot be business as usual in the usual preparation for typhoons.... We have to include already flooding and landslides because na-weaken na ang ating (it has already weakened our) geological atmosphere. This requires huge budgetary outlays," Briones said.

    Lessons learned

    The damage brought by Tropical Depression Usman may be attributed to a number of factors. During the situation briefing, Department of Science and Technology Undersecretary Renato Solidum Jr. mentioned the problems brought by development, if not done right.

    He pointed out that many of the landslides in the Bicol region were along road cuts. Many houses were also built on road easements and the lower end of roads.

    "With the development, we also have to make sure that we employ slope protection, [and] drainages ng ating mga ginagawang kalsada (for the roads that we make), so that these will not be the site of future landslides," Solidum said.

    Aside from problems in development, people residing in the affected areas experienced nearly a whole month's worth of rain in just two days.

    Though tropical depression is the lowest category of a tropical cyclone in terms of wind speed, it is still very dangerous. And since Usman moved very slowly, it brought a lot of water.

    Solidum explained that as Usman neared Visayas, it progressed slowly and almost parked, dumping more rain to affected areas since it did not move.

    "If the tropical cyclone would have moved faster, then the rainfall in the Bicol area may not be very high, but still, it's way above the threshold of triggering landslide and flood," he added.

    Recently, the Philippines has seen a number of landslide tragedies. Solidum attributed it to a combination of many factors, including global warming.

    "One is the changing climate, plus the fact that 'yung mga soil, with time, nagiging weathered, mas erodible. 'Yung mga daan po from Tiwi to Sagnay ay easily erodible material. Unfortunately, doon po karamihan sa kalsada nagsimula ang mga landslide," he explained.

    (One is the changing climate, plus the fact that the soil gets weathered and erodible over time. The paths from Tiwi to Sagnay have easily erodible material. Unfortunately, it's in many of those roads that the landslides started.)

    Solidum reminded people to not be complacent and be on alert for PAGASA's forecasts. (FAST FACTS: Tropical cyclone, rainfall advisories)

    "We really have to make sure that we don't focus only on the typhoon signal, which refers to the wind strength, pero kailangan din po na madalas balitaan natin kahit hindi na malakas ang ulan, marami pa ring tubig na babagsak (but it's also important to be updated even if the rain isn't that strong, because it might still dump a lot of water)," he added. – Rappler.com

    *$1 = P52.45


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    Roselyn Barcoma draws the portraits of her 27 students as Christmas gift.

    MANILA, Philippines – A teacher from Laguna went a little extra and made sure her students wouldn’t dread coming back to school after the holiday break.

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    Roselyn Barcoma, a Grade 9 teacher at the Holy Redeemer School of Cabuyao in Banlic, Cabuyao, Laguna, drew portraits of each of her 27 Grade 9 students as Christmas gifts.

    She was using a skill she had honed since she was a child.

    Barcoma started with the portraits on December 1, 2018, and took more than a month to sketch all of her students. She finished the drawings last January 6.

    Her students were speechless after seeing their presents, according to Barcoma, but were amazed and thanked her for the portraits.

    Netizens were also inspired by Barcoma’s effort, and commended her for her passion and dedication to the arts and to teaching.

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    Asked for a message for fellow teachers, Barcoma said she believes that giving something extra will always be appreciated and remembered.

    “To my fellow teachers, our work maybe tiring, but being able to inspire young minds is a priceless opportunity," said Barcoma, a teacher for 16 years now. 

    Do you know of any teachers who have gone the extra smile to motivate and inspire their students? Share their stories with us in the comments section below! – Rappler.com

    Jaira Krishelle Balboa is a Rappler intern. She is a 4th year BA Journalism student at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines.

     

     

     


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    PARIS, France – Willy Leyba stood staring at the sign that bore her name. She still couldn’t believe it. She finally owned her own beauty salon.

    Growing up in Cavite, Leyba had always dreamed of one day opening her own beauty salon.  

    She never imagined that one day she would open one in Paris, the world capital of beauty and fashion.

    “Before coming here, I didn’t know anything about Paris. I just knew that everything about it seemed magical,” laughed the 55-year-old Leyba.

    Leyba remembers the exact day she opened her salon. It was December 1, 1995. The metropolis was at a standstill because of a strike.

    “There was so much snow then and the entire city was on strike. There was no metro,” recalled Leyba in a mixture of English and Filipino.

    Without the subway arteries that connected and kept the city running, there was no way for her Filipino customers to get to her salon.

    “I was so nervous. My stomach was hurting all the time. I had poured all of my savings into the salon. If customers didn’t come soon, my business would fail before it even started.”

    She had scraped together all her savings and taken out loans from friends and relatives to open the salon. Every day that passed with no business was a reminder that she may not be able to pay them back.

    After two weeks, the strike ended, the city began to normalize and the customers came out in droves to patronize and celebrate the only beauty salon owned by a Filipina in Paris.

    “The customers were all lined up outside--in the snow--waiting for their turn,” said Leyba, who still rejoices in the memory. “There was even a time when the clients would help out and shampoo each other or else it would be midnight and we still wouldn’t be finished.”

    From cleaning to cutting and styling

    Leyba first came to Paris in 1987. As many Filipinos who come to the City of Light, Leyba first started working as a housekeeper and cleaner. She started taking on side jobs cutting hair and doing make-up for other Filipinos.

    Even if there was only one client who called for a home service, she would take it. “I would go from one seventh floor apartment to another seventh floor apartment for the appointments. It was like performing an act of penitence each time,” said Leyba, referring to the many Parisian apartment buildings that do not have elevators.

    Leyba always left her customers primped and pretty and in turn, they always made sure she  was well-fed. In true Filipino tradition of hospitality, Leyba’s customers would always make sure that she had something to eat before she left. Her earnings plus the money she saved on buying food were all added to her beauty salon fund.

    Her clientele grew when she won a Miss Gay beauty contest in Paris. Her title gave her exposure and street cred. “I think some of my customers liked the idea of being able to say that their hair was cut by a beauty queen,” Leyba laughed.

    Her bustling home beauty service business was enough to keep her afloat, but the dream of opening her own salon tugged at her. It took close to 8 years before Leyba finally saw her name on a storefront with the word coiffure (hairstyling) emblazoned under it.

    In later years, Leyba started receiving French customers. Leyba, who had learned French initially for practical survival said that it was also important for growing her business. “How can you trust your hairdresser if she can’t understand what kind of look or cut you want?”

    Now, more than two decades of running her own business, Leyba still finds herself looking at her beauty salon in Paris’ swanky 16th arrondissement and what it took to turn the strands of a childhood dream into a reality.

    “Of course, there are problems here in Paris. It isn’t always heaven.”

    During those times, Leyba thinks of the promise she made to her mother who would wake up every day at 2 am to sell fish. She wouldn’t finish until early afternoon and if she didn’t make enough money for that day, she would take on more work as a laundry woman. One day, Leyba’s mother broke down under the financial weight she had to carry. “I told myself that one day she would never have to cry over money,” said Leyba.

    For Filipinos who want to be an entrepreneur in France or any other country, Leyba says that the path will not be easy but it is possible and definitely worth it. “They have to have a vision so they can develop their talent. And they just really have to be determined.” – Rappler.com

    Reporting for this story was supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting under the Persephone Miel Fellowship.


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    LESSONS. Refugee children participate in a history trivia lesson organized by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of the Philippines at their center in Paranaque City in Eid al-fitr, an Islamic festival that marks the end of the month of fasting in 2018. Photo by Talha Ali

    MANILA, Philippines–  For decades, followers of the Ahmadiyya faith, a minority sect of Islam, have fallen victim to laws that target them as non-believers in Pakistan. Some of them have sought  asylum in the Philippines.

    Hassan Ali is a recognized refugee in Metro Manila. He fled his home country of Pakistan in 2014 in fear of persecution for simply being an Ahmadiyya Muslim.

    “My pain was psychological,” Ali said. “Discrimination was everywhere and the situations increasingly became so difficult for me to freely practice my religion.”

    The Ahmadiyya is a young sect of Islam, formed in 1889 around Mizra Ghulam Ahmed who is claimed to be the messiah or the ‘second advent of Jesus’.

    In Muslim-majority countries like the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the practice of Ahmadiyya beliefs is looked down as blasphemous because they believe that according to the tenets of Islam the Prophet Muhammad was the last messenger of God.

    In 1974, Pakistan constitutionally classified Ahmadis as non-Muslims when the term ‘Muslim’ was broadly defined. Ten years later, they were criminalized by the writ of the Pakistani state. Amended into the National Penal Code of Pakistan is the complete denial of self-identification for Ahmadi Muslims that deprives them of the right to vote.

    Cases of exclusion and persecution have also reportedly occurred in Indonesia, Malaysia and Bangladesh.

    “The language of the law is so vague and broad [in Pakistan], it has opened the gates for unnecessary litigation of the community,” Talha Ali, president and missionary-in-charge of the Ahmadiyya community in the Philippines said.

    In the Philippines

    The Ahmadiyya community in the Philippines has existed since the early 2000s but grew in numbers only recently. It has over 8 branches in the country.

    “Our national program has worked on 3 fronts: education, interfaith dialogue and humanitarian work,” Talha Ali said, adding that each of these components are part and parcel of their religious teachings. COMMUNITY. Ahmadi Muslims attend the 13th annual convention hosted by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of the Philippines on April 2018 at Silsila Compound. Photo by Talha Ali

    The oldest record of the Ahmadiyya in the Philippines dates back to the 1960s, according to Ali, citing it as the first wave of Ahmadiyya converts.

    “The Ahmadiyya community established a permanent presence in the Philippines in the '90s, paving the way for the third and final wave of converts,” Talha Ali said.

    Still unsafe

    Ahmadi Muslims openly practice their faith in Metro Manila, hosting educational classes and organizing blood drives as part of their national programs.

    But extremist attacks in forms of mob violence still followed them to the Philippines. Two years ago, a plain-clothed band of men disrupted an interfaith peace symposium in a fastfood chain, and assaulted Ahmadi attendees.

    “These people launched tirades of false accusations on me and other refugee members on social media for being non-Muslims,” Ali said.

    Although Ahmadi Muslims are met with periodical threats from other local Muslim groups, security concerns for the refugees and Ahmadi converts soared as a result of the incident.

    Their struggle

    According to refugee accounts, the Philippines was not their final destination but immigration apprehensions at the airport had them detained.

    Hizqeel Ahmad, a 21-year-old from Pakistan, arrived in the Philippines with a 17-member group with young children in 2015. His refugee status was determined by the Department of Justice (DoJ) a year later.

    The Philippines has ratified the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol, binding the state to protect refugee and asylum seeker rights.

    The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is the facilitating body that forwards asylum applications to the DoJ’s subsidiary - the Refugee and Stateless Persons Protections Unit (RSPPU).  

    A major obstacle to stability for refugees in Manila is finding a job that pays well. The Philippines' work policy for refugees is nearly synonymous with mandates for foreign national visa holders.

    “I’ve been in a financial crisis for 4 years now,” Waseem Akhtar, another Ahmadi refugee said, lamenting the little money he makes out of a small business.

    Months later, Akhtar’s status was approved in 2016. He then sponsored a flight for his wife and children to Manila.

    Waseem said there is “no family reunion policy for refugees in the Philippines”. His family underwent the process from scratch.

    Cultural integration

    HELPING OUT. Talha Ali (left), president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association in the Philippines, distributes fruits and medicines with other refugees to patients at a hospital on Eid al-Fitr in 2018. Photo by Talha Ali

    “We need a roadmap for integrating refugees into the society as citizens so that eventually, they’ll do more to contribute as a positive member of the Filipino society,” Talha Ali said.

    In 2017, the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) scrapped the alien employment permit (AEP) originally authorized as a prerequisite for securing a job.

    While foreign nationals can apply under The Revised Naturalization Act, Hassan Ali cites concerns about the process taking no less than 10 years and requires reeducation of the new society.

    “Paying taxes, learning the language and proving your loyalty to the Philippines is not easy when you’re born and raised in another nation,” Hassan Ali said.

    Through programs organized by the national Ahmadiyya community, the refugees continue to familiarize themselves with the local culture in hopes of becoming a Filipino citizen one day

    “All we’re asking for is a smoother integration at least and in order for that to happen, stable income needs to be on the top of the government agenda.” – Rappler.com

    Fatima Qureshi is a Rappler intern and a full-time student pursuing a Master's in Journalism degree at the University of Hong Kong. 


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    MANILA, Philippines – In Benguet, vegetables were left to rot on the road as truckloads of crops were turned down because of their low prices. This caused farmers to have an excessive amount of crops.

    Despite the rising prices of goods in the market, farmers sold their crops for as low as P5 per kilo, just so they could break even and prevent their crops from going to waste.

    A number of farmers even resorted to Facebook to try and get buyers for their vegetables.

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    Don Pulubi, a farmer for 20 years from Nueva Ecija, took to Facebook to sell his pumpkins for just P6 per kilo, from the usual P12 to P16.

    Despite the pumpkin's slashed prices, Pulubi said only a few people bought from him and they still complained about the price.

    Six pesos na nga lang, 'yung iba namamahalan pa rin. Talo talaga kami,” said Pulubi. (It’s just P6, but other people still think it’s expensive. We’re really on the losing end here.)

    The heartbreaking drop of prices gained a lot of attention from netizens, as they shared calls for support from the public and the government through #StandWithFarmers.

    Netizens were saddened and furious to see local farmers resort to selling their harvests at deep discounts despite the hard work they put into growing them. With the Philippines being an agricultural country, they also pointed out the irony in how farmers are being treated.

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="tl" dir="ltr">Sobrang sakit lang sa puso basahin yung mga post nila huhu <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/StandWithFarmers?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#StandWithFarmers</a> <a href="https://t.co/FGkWSCAvoh">pic.twitter.com/FGkWSCAvoh</a></p>&mdash; Kat! #ResistCrackdown (@katongbascon) <a href="https://twitter.com/katongbascon/status/1085025350931730432?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 15, 2019</a></blockquote>

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

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">This is the heartbreaking reality that our farmers have been enduring for so long. It’s ironic that the PH is neglecting the very industry where it’s most likely to thrive. Markets line the pockets of capitalists instead of compensating for the hardwork of workers &amp; farmers. <a href="https://t.co/zayobdAsRx">https://t.co/zayobdAsRx</a></p>&mdash; gian c. #OustDuterte (@gianconel) <a href="https://twitter.com/gianconel/status/1085072161662853121?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 15, 2019</a></blockquote>

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

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="tl" dir="ltr">Sino nga ba ang magtutulungan kung hindi tayo mga Pilipino. Suportahan ang lokal na ekonomiya ng ating mga magsasakang Pilipino!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/StandWithFarmers?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#StandWithFarmers</a></p>&mdash;(@_ColonelGeneral) <a href="https://twitter.com/_ColonelGeneral/status/1085426570104164352?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 16, 2019</a></blockquote>

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

    Some asked government and establishments to help local farmers and stop importing crops from other countries. Others also suggested empowering agricultural sectors by patronizing Philippine products.

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">would it be great if we are going to support local farmers? PH government, let us not waste our farmers’ efforts by prioritizing local rather than importing <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/StandWithFarmers?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#StandWithFarmers</a></p>&mdash; HL (@guevarrahl) <a href="https://twitter.com/guevarrahl/status/1085378503636332545?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 16, 2019</a></blockquote>

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

    {source}

    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">It&#39;s haunting to see them pleading for people to buy their produce at unreasonably low prices just so their hard grown crops don&#39;t go to waste. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/StandWithFarmers?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#StandWithFarmers</a></p>&mdash; Rivaille (@rivaillekim) <a href="https://twitter.com/rivaillekim/status/1085189197554536449?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 15, 2019</a></blockquote>

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

    {source}

    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The PH has rich cuisines and restaurants are everywhere, imagine if these establishments would purchase their raw material from local producers, then they could already be helping the filipinoes and they still make money <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/StandWithFarmers?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#StandWithFarmers</a></p>&mdash; broke™ (@fayedchvz) <a href="https://twitter.com/fayedchvz/status/1085170801043632128?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 15, 2019</a></blockquote>

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

    With the vast amount of agricultural products the Philippines has, other netizens hoped the government would intervene, so no crops would go to waste. They also mentioned that the government can up efforts to support farmers.

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="tl" dir="ltr">it&#39;s so sad na binabasura lang ng gobyerno yung mga pananim ng local farmers. mababa na nga yung sahod nila (minsan wala pang bayad sa kanila o kaya naman NINE PESOS / 15 DAYS lang yung nakukuha nila sa pagtatanim), wala pa silang kita tapos ibabasura lang. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/StandWithFarmers?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#StandWithFarmers</a></p>&mdash; gelalalalalalalalalalalalalala (@angelaaaareyes) <a href="https://twitter.com/angelaaaareyes/status/1085120077052039170?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 15, 2019</a></blockquote>

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

    {source}

    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="tl" dir="ltr">sana mas i-value pa ng government ang farmers :( hindi biro ang magprovide ng needs sa mga tao 24/7 tapos needs man lang mga farmers hindi nila narereceive <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/StandWithFarmers?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#StandWithFarmers</a></p>&mdash; パト is takin exams (@officialCB97) <a href="https://twitter.com/officialCB97/status/1085191026807951362?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 15, 2019</a></blockquote>

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

     {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The economy of Philippines would probably boom if the Governmet takes an action on the core of our country’s success which is agriculture <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/StandWithFarmers?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#StandWithFarmers</a></p>&mdash; YoonWoo (@YoonWoo20) <a href="https://twitter.com/YoonWoo20/status/1085467080743215105?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 16, 2019</a></blockquote>

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

    What do you think about the situation? Share your thoughts with us! – Rappler.com

    Jaira Krishelle Balboa is a Rappler intern. She is a 4th year BA Journalism student at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines.


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    MANILA, Philippines – Leyte Normal University (LNU) has issued a public apology to social media star Bretman Rock and beauty blogger Manny Gutierrez, popularly known as Manny MUA, for using their images in the school's dress code poster on “improper grooming for men."

    LNU clarified in its apology on Thursday, January 17, that the poster, which has gone viral, was made “without malicious intentions of maligning your persons.”

    {source}<iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FLNUSupremeStudentCouncil%2Fposts%2F2023593731085905&width=500" width="500" height="594" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allow="encrypted-media"></iframe>{/source}

    LNU said in its statement that it has taken steps to correct the situation. It issued a memorandum to all its faculty, staff, and students to stop sharing the poster in “all forms of communication, most especially on social media.” It had also removed the poster from the student council’s Facebook page, and had emailed its apology.

    LNU also assured that it “will be more circumspect and careful in disseminating information that might cause adverse effects on the welfare of others.”

    Why us?

    The LNU dress code poster, which was posted on Thursday, detailed inappropriate hairstyles for students and improper grooming for men. Among the rules listed were the prohibition for male students to wear earrings, heavy makeup, and feminine clothes. LNU featured in its poster a photo of Gutierrez in heavy makeup, and a cropped photo of Rock in feminine clothes.

    The two took to Twitter to share their disapproval of the poster.

    Rock wondered how wearing feminine clothes could hamper a student’s learning. “First of all, my outfit is so cute. And second of all, how will wearing that affect a student’s learning?” he asked in his tweet.

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">First of all,  my outfit is so cute... and second of all how will wearing that affect a students learning, and why that picture I have cuter lewks lol <a href="https://t.co/Ga6K3myPdr">pic.twitter.com/Ga6K3myPdr</a></p>&mdash; Bretman Rock  (@bretmanrock) <a href="https://twitter.com/bretmanrock/status/1085748573889687554?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 17, 2019</a></blockquote>

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

    Gutierrez, meanwhile, frowned on being used as an “example of what NOT to do at school” and found it unsurprising that a school would have a problem with a “man wearing makeup.”

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">I’ve been tagged in this so much today... yes that’s me... yes they’re using me as an example of what NOT to do at school... a school having a problem with a man wearing makeup? Shockinggggg<a href="https://t.co/2BuWZQXxOK">https://t.co/2BuWZQXxOK</a></p>&mdash; Manny MUA (@MannyMua733) <a href="https://twitter.com/MannyMua733/status/1085663650067562496?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 16, 2019</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

    – Rappler.com


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    PILGRIMAGE. Pope Francis meets with participants of the Climate Pilgrimage in Trieste, Italy. Photo by Albert Lozada  

    MANILA, Philippines – Our perception of reality can change at any time. It could come during a family gathering, a school graduation, or a near-death experience. Sometimes, it happens on a walk.

    This is what AG Saño, a street artist and environment activist, observed during his second climate pilgrimage throughout Europe last year. At a time when the world is running out of time to avoid irreversible climate change, he believes a spiritual awakening is necessary to solve this crisis. (READ: [OPINION] Facts are facts: World is warming, climate is changing)

    “The solutions are there, but people are not responding maybe because we don’t look at the world as something that has a really high level of importance, something that’s higher than ourselves,” he said.

    For more than two months, Saño and his international group of climate warriors walked 1,500 kilometers from Rome to Katowice, Poland, which hosted the 2018 United Nations climate summit. Along the way, they delivered the message of urgent actions and climate justice to communities across Europe.

    Changes in perspective

    Saño was also a part of the climate pilgrimage in late 2015 that ended in Paris. Between the two walks, he noted some major differences in his experiences, the biggest of which was the presence of the Paris Agreement.

    “The fight seemed bigger then in 2015 because we were pushing for a first-ever agreement. We were so uncertain back then because we didn’t know if an agreement will ever be forged. It was really urgent and crucial,” he said.

    But now that the accord is made, he notes that expectations have changed. In last year’s journey, his group met with leaders from the religious, academic, political, and community groups to encourage them to pressure their governments and negotiators for climate action. (READ: Looking climate change straight in the eye)

    “When we described the horrors, when farmers went hungry and fishermen could not fish anymore, that’s a big impact to them, knowing that people are suffering,” Saño remarked.

    In most instances, the group was successful in raising awareness among their audiences who only heard about these events on news reports. However, not everyone was receptive to their calls for climate action. Many towns they visited remain dependent on coal for their livelihoods and warmth during winter. While families were sympathetic to their suffering during extreme events, they remain skeptical of the need to shift from fossil fuels to renewables.

    It could be convenient to point out that the potential loss of livelihood by the European families will never match the suffering that victims of calamities endured due to climate change. Saño, a survivor of Typhoon Haiyan (Super Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines), took a different approach. (READ: Communicating climate change solutions to different sectors)

    “If I value life, I should value the livelihoods of other people,” he said. “That’s where the concept of just transition comes in; that we’re not advocates for change if we will not consider what happens to people who would lose their jobs.”

    The group pointed out to make these families feel included in their message, that “we are one with you and we understand you, and that the reason we fight for climate justice is you are also victims, in our point of view.”

    And contrary to what they have heard from influential climate deniers in their areas, “there is an economy in renewables. If you stop burning coal, you won’t die. You will not go hungry.”

    Next steps

    With some governments and big businesses remaining ignorant of the need for urgent action, Saño believes that the needed change must come from individuals and communities on the ground. He was especially inspired by No Planet B, a youth-led initiative in Northern Italy that promotes sustainable practices to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

    This group campaigns for their communities to consume “zero-kilometer” food or those grown right in their own backyards. As there are plenty of local farms in that region, such a move not only lowers emissions, but also provides economic savings and encourages self-sustenance and a healthier lifestyle for the residents. This campaign is now supported by environmental organizations and nearby parishes.

    “For me, that’s how it should be; that people, especially young kids, around the world would initiate their own actions in their local communities and educate people, starting with their families about doing the right practices,” Saño added.

    The climate pilgrimage was a life-changing experience for Saño and his fellow advocates. But more importantly, it was the wake-up call that their audiences needed, “whether it’s 1% or 50%t awakening.” What matters is that they recognize the reality of climate change, that “there’s a spark in them that we need to think and talk more about this to learn more," he said.

    Yet no matter how many steps we take, whether on an actual road or a metaphorical one towards a social transformation, Saño knows that the journey is far from over.

    “Our destination is not Katowice or Paris; it’s the hearts and minds of the people,” he said. — Rappler.com

    JL Algo is the Science Policy Officer of the Climate Reality Project Philippines, and a citizen journalist. He earned his MS Atmospheric Science degree from the Ateneo de Manila University in December 2018.

     


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    CHILDREN'S RIGHTS. Several rights groups slam the bill lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 years old to 9 years old.

    MANILA, Philippines – Saying that the measure is "not in the best interest" of children, several groups slammed the bill lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 years old to 9 years old. (READ: House panel OKs bill to lower age of criminal liability to 9 years old)

    On Monday, January 21, the House committee on justice approved the substitute bill that would amend Republic Act No. 10630, the law that currently retains the minimum age of criminal liability at 15 but allows children as young as 12 to be detained in youth care facilities or Bahay Pag-asa for serious crimes such as rape, murder, and homicide. (READ: Arroyo supports lowering age of criminal liability to 9 years old)

    Save the Children Philippines said the move "will only push them to further discrimination, abuse, and eventually, into a more antisocial behavior." (READ: [OPINION] Children's rights pay the price for political gain)

    {source}<iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FSavetheChildrenPH%2Fposts%2F1269842819820927&width=500" width="500" height="703" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allow="encrypted-media"></iframe>{/source}

    Unicef Philippines also said it is deeply concerned about the bill, describing it as "an act of violence against children."

    "Children who are exploited and driven by adults to commit crimes need to be protected, not further penalized.... They should be given a second chance to reform and to rehabilitate," the group said. (READ: Lower age of criminal liability? Here's why psychologists are against it)

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    The bill would mandate that children 9 to 14 years old who will commit serious crimes – such as murder, parricide, infanticide, serious illegal detention, carnapping, and violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 – be subjected to "mandatory confinement" for rehabilitation at Bahay Pag-asa.

    According to Unicef, lowering the age of criminal responsibility would not deter adult offenders from using children to commit crimes.

    Below are other statements released by rights groups condemning the measure.

    Youth Act Now Against Tyranny

    "Instead of criminalizing children, the government should demand accountability from syndicates and address poverty. Children deserve free education, adequate healthcare access, and housing, not liability for something they were forced to do. Making children criminals is not justice but a mere cover-up of the societal problems the government keeps on burdening the people with."

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    Salinlahi Alliance for Children's Concerns

    "Children in conflict with the law together with their families are victims of poverty, hunger, social inequality, and state neglect, but instead of addressing these pressing socioeconomic issues, the Duterte government and his minions in the Philippine Congress are consistent in promoting and pushing for anti-children and anti-people policies."

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    Y-PEER Pilipinas

    "This is counterintuitive with the government's intention of providing welfare and well-being to Filipino children and is a violation to the commitments made by the Philippines to adhere to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international treaties on child protection as a principal signatory."

    {source}<iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fypeerpilipinas%2Fposts%2F10156987090713887&width=500" width="500" height="741" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allow="encrypted-media"></iframe>{/source}

    Plan International Philippines

    "Aside from the lack of evidence to prove that punishing and incarcerating children will result in crime reduction, scientific studies show that children below the age of 16 do not have the maturity to discern right from wrong."

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    Philippine Association of Social Workers

    "The issue of violence against children including children in conflict with the law (CICL) has severe and lasting negative impact on the affected children's biophysical, psychoemotional, mental, and socioeconomic conditions."

    {source}<iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fsalinlahiphilippines%2Fposts%2F2563188630610167&width=500" width="500" height="675" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allow="encrypted-media"></iframe>{/source}

    Kadamay

    "The urban poor sector will once again be the prime target of this anti-poor policy. As if the tens of thousands killed in the war on drugs and the everyday hardships of the poor aren't enough."

    {source}<iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fkadamaynational%2Fposts%2F764631493892352&width=500" width="500" height="527" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allow="encrypted-media"></iframe>{/source}

    At the Senate, there are two pending bills lowering the minimum age of criminal liability to 12, but senators will still hold debates on the age.

    President Rodrigo Duterte himself has been pushing for the age to be lowered to 9 years old. (READ: Duterte talks to kids about 'generations' of criminals Rappler.com

     


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