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    GATHERING. PTSA members, PTTC-GMEA employees and TS advocates attend the PTSA Annual Gathering on March 20, 2019. Photo from Guia Soriano

    I’ve been working at the Philippine Trade Training Center, now the PTTC Global MSME Academy (PTTC-GMEA), for almost 5 years now. One of my regular tasks is to facilitate training programs, which requires being in front of a number of participants.

    It wasn’t an easy ride at first, given my Tourette Syndrome (TS), a neurological condition characterized by multiple involuntary motor and vocal tics.  Imagine a training coordinator suddenly making some strange movements like eye rolling, feet stamping, or creating some sounds similar to a shout. (READ: When diseases have a bad name, change is hard)

    The day after I conducted my first training program, someone commented, “Hindi siya dapat pang-frontliner dahil sa condition niya (She shouldn’t be a frontliner because of her condition).”

    I was hurt that time, but I didn’t let it stop me. Instead, I focused on the colleagues who believed in me and on the tasks that my bosses gave me. Some tasks assigned to me were really challenging. I felt they had so much trust in me that I sometimes asked myself, “Are they forgetting that I have TS?”

    Whenever I’m required to face hundreds of people or represent the Center in media interviews, I would think, “If they never doubted me, why would I doubt myself?”

    I decided to inform the participants, at the beginning of every seminar, about my condition. There was never an instance that it appeared in the evaluation form that my tics distracted the participants from learning ever since I started that practice.

    Five years after hearing that comment, I am still here. Recently, PTTC-GMEA Executive Director Nestor Palabyab (ED Nes), would often tell me: Alam mo, natutuwa ako sa iyo (You know, I’m pleased with you). You are a perfect example of inclusivity.”

    That is why I thought of holding the Annual Gathering of the Philippine Tourette Syndrome Association (PTSA) in one of the seminar rooms of PTTC-GMEA which happened on March 20, 2019. PTSA is a non-profit organization that aims to promote awareness about TS.

    In his inspirational message to PTSA members, ED Nes said: “We have the rights and the honor of being part of the human race. And we shouldn’t think of our imperfection to stop [from reaching] our dreams and ambition.” (READ: Man born with no hands finds his 'hidden ability' in miniaturest

    “Empowerment knows no boundaries like looks, gender, religion, even our physical infirmities perhaps. Given the premise that everybody has their place under the sky, ganoon din dapat maalala ang mga may Tourette Syndrome (That’s how people with Tourette Syndrome should be remembered) as members of the society,” he added.

    “But we can only realize that by supporting each other. And support is always necessary for us to move forward, because if we don’t have support, it's a lonely world,” ED Nes emphasized.

    INSPIRE. PTTC-GMEA Executive Director Nestor Palabyab gives an inspirational message during the annual gathering of the Philippine Tourette Syndrome Association on March 20, 2019. Photo by Marlon Fuentes

    The annual gathering was open to public – relatives, students, researchers, and even advocates. PTSA President Marlon Barnuevo gave a 15-minute talk about TS, which tackled its possible causes, symptoms and manifestations, and the struggles of people with TS.

    As ED Nes said, “We all need support.” I know that I wouldn’t be where I am now had it not been for the trust and support of my colleagues, especially the bosses who never doubted to give me challenging tasks and big projects.

    Aside from facilitating training programs, my job now includes attending different meetings and events with partners and stakeholders, which sometimes includes high-ranking officials and foreign nationals.

    Now, during the introduction at the beginning of the meeting, I would only have to say, “Just to make you aware, I have Tourette Syndrome” and they would just smile and say, “Oh, okay,” making me feel that it’s just normal and the meeting would just go as it is even with my body twitches and sound effects.

    I couldn’t overemphasize how the trust that my bosses give me helps me to grow not just as a professional but also as an individual.

    PTTC-GMEA has always believed in me, so I have no reason not to believe in myself. It is the epitome of inclusivity. It shows that each one of us can contribute to development and economic growth regardless of our condition. It shows that the government can do their part by seeing people with disabilities not just as beneficiaries of the programs but also as partners in economic development. – Rappler.com

    Guia Roa Soriano is the acting head of the Lifestyle Strategic Business Unit of the Training Division of the Philippine Trade Training Center -  Global MSME Academy (PTTC-GMEA).

     


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    Photo from Shutterstock

    "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."

    I have to admit. I feel so detached and distant from these words. I cannot hear myself praying with these. To me, these are the words of a man who lived a life of wickedness, which I have not. What about these words that made our Lord Jesus respond with such gratuitousness? (READ: 7 Last Words reflection: 'Today you will be with me in Paradise')

    "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise."

    Last Holy Monday, I visited the medium security camp at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City for the first time. With the facility being heavily guarded – all its possible passage enveloped by an endless loop of barbed wire, visits coordinated with the Bureau of Corrections, and visitors inspected upon entry – I can say that the inmates, or politely called persons deprived of liberty, are much secured inside. (READ: IN NUMBERS: The inmates of New Bilibid Prison)

    One thing you might find interesting if you had not known yet – inside the penitentiary is a school offering the inmates mainly a course on entrepreneurship and other programs on fine arts, and technical and vocational skills.

    Having the chance to interact with each other, the inmates, ranging from young adults to nearly senior citizens, are students. The younger ones, who proudly call themselves the College Guild, even entertained us with a song, dance, and skit. On May 9, another batch of inmates will graduate and will receive their diplomas.

    Outside the school, there are areas that come alive with basketball and volleyball tourneys. There's also a market, a bakery, spaces for crafting products that they sell for a meager income, chapels for various denominations, and the sleeping quarters in crowded multistorey buildings. (READ: They spoke to dozens of jailed extremists, and here's what they learned)

    Bilibid is a prison, but it is a community – a community even more alive than the noiseless, walled, camera-secured, and luxurious villages we all aspire to live in. Ironically, people inside find new beginnings even in a desolate situation.

    Yet it still baffles me. If you were inside, what could possibly get you up from bed – no, the floor – to rehearse and perfect a performance? What is there to dance, or sing, or to act to if you were given a life-long sentence? What is there to paint, or learn, or to earn an educational degree for, if the shadow of your past haunts you? What is there to live for if a quarter or even half of your life will be spent inside a facility secured with a roll of barbed wire?

    With great struggle to find an answer, I was led to the very thing that made the thief say to Jesus, "Remember me when you come into your kingdom…" and that is hope.

    Hope is abundant inside Bilibid. I saw it with my own eyes, incarnated in the community, in every individual living one day at a time, joyfully, without minding too much the number of years left off of their sentences.

    I enjoin you, my dear brothers and sisters, to visit them and see it for yourselves too. It is far from perfect; it is a prison after all. But because of the glimmer of hope, it bears a semblance of Paradise. (READ: Pope Francis washes feet of Filipino prisoner on Holy Thursday)

    Finally, notice Jesus' words, "Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." The time of fulfillment is today, says Jesus. Not tomorrow, not next week, not next year, but today!

    Jesus does not wait until the inmates finish their sentences before he shows them mercy, compassion, and forgiveness. He remembers them right now, even while they are inside. My dear friends, forever is not merely in some future time. It is in the here and the now. We are already living in it. And so look around you.

    What paradise has God given you today? – Rappler.com

    Jaime Martin P. Candelaria, 26, is a management engineering graduate of Ateneo de Manila University. He aspires to become a Jesuit someday.


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  • 04/29/19--05:32: While the world was shaking
  • Photo from Shutterstock

    When the 6.1 magnitude earthquake jolted Luzon on Monday, April 22, I found myself putting to practice the infamous triumvirate of security actions I learned in grade school: duck, cover, and hold.

    The fluorescent tubes flickered across the floor, as my colleagues and I hid under our respective desks, and shouts of worry and signs of distress and anxiety became evident. My heart was pounding tremendously. I was at work in a high-rise building in Manila.

    It was around 5:11 pm, and with my knees bent, my world swayed back and forth as if I was floating in the middle of the ocean with no life vest on. It was horror. I’ve never felt that vulnerable before.

    After about 30 seconds, and when the movement momentarily halted, I waited for the emergency alarm to sound. But it never came. I approached the officer who was standing just a few meters away from me.

    “Sir, when are we going to use the stairs?” I said calmly. “We have to get out of the building.”

    “There’s still no advisory from management yet,” he said. “We have to wait a little longer.”

    Dismayed by his response, I returned to my small embankment under my desk. The company-issued laptop was still on, and the coffee I was enjoying just moments ago turned as cold as did my sweat brought by adrenaline flowing through my whole body.

    But after about 20 seconds, I headed toward the officer for the second time. I was on survival mode.

    Kuya, we have to exit the building,” I uttered. “There could be aftershocks!”

    “You can go ahead,” he responded while holding a two-way radio.

    “But how about the others?” I said. There was silence on his part.

    Then, I tightly held my phone and hurtled towards the exit. I left my bag thinking that I’d be able to run faster. And I did.

    While I was going down the stairs during the fleeting countdown of floor numbers all the way to the ground floor, a tornado of thoughts ruled my mind. They arrived and departed like scenes in a film – temporal fragments of pictures fading into the unknown.

    How about my family? Are they safe? What’s going to happen to my friends, my laptop, our dogs, our car at home? Is the building going to collapse? San Andreas. Thriller Netflix movies. Tsunami in Japan. Dwayne Johnson. Survivor. Is she okay? Could it turn out to be “The Big One?” Why is it just me in the emergency exit? Why were the others prevented from leaving? Is it because I insisted?

    I ran to safety at one side of a wide open road and joined a pack of people like me who were confused about what could happen next. They were on their phones, talking to their loved ones, trying to check on them even if they were just about 180 kilometers away from the epicenter of the tremor.

    As I realized that it was not an earthquake exercise but a real-life one, I asked myself: why didn’t we implement the evacuation procedure? Where have all the drills, preparations, and talks gone? Weren't we supposed to have deserted the building by then? (READ: Earthquake tips: What to do before, during, and after)

    In the aftermath of the temblor, the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Industry Employees Network (BIEN) called out firms for not evacuating employees following the earthquake: “We call on the government to enforce the new occupational safety and health standards law (RA 1105) and penalize companies who have violated the safety standards putting workers’ lives at great risk…Keeping business as usual in the midst of this life-threatening situation is not only illegal; it is utterly inhumane.”

    We know that BPO companies have to perform at their best to compete with other organizations. Putting a stop to operations even for an hour or so can have direct consequences on the rating of the quality of service they offer, as well as on their image as dependable and efficient hubs for business.

    Of course, there are technical requirements and standards that must be met before a need for evacuation is declared. But is it worth putting hundreds or thousands of lives on the line with such an approach?

    Yes, we’ve been able to successfully capture the first image of a black hole after years of vigorous research and study aided by an army of about 200 scientific minds and experts from different parts of the globe, but one fact remains: humanity still doesn’t have the capacity to know with certainty when and where the next earthquake will strike.

    The possibility of the arrival of more powerful aftershocks is always present. Unlike typhoons, earthquakes erupt without a hint. We know that building managers and structural engineers implement the latest possible technology in their respective areas to monitor earthquake activities with the support of their owners and financiers, but we cannot predict next moves.

    Filipinos are a resilient people, but an earthquake is not one to laugh about. Earthquakes remind us of how ephemeral our lives are. Photos that prove a drill has been conducted by a company become irrelevant during an actual shake. Memes on Facebook making fun of this catastrophe should be deleted in cyberspace.

    We need courageous and compassionate people to call the shots; not everything should depend on numbers or figures or scales. Leaders have to communicate to employees or workers in detail and with transparency what should be done during an emergency to keep their trust.

    If there are shortcomings and lapses, they should be professionally disclosed and discussed in a proper forum with a spirit of humility with no excuses. This is true not just in BPO firms, but also in malls, supermarkets, and other establishments. 

    We only have one chance, and those in authority must do everything in their power to protect lives. Safety is everyone’s responsibility, but it’s a blatant disrespect of workers to directly or indirectly abandon the drill practices and bar them from exiting the building during a quake, and then observe business-as-usual shortly afterwards.

    There were reports that penalties could be slapped by government on companies proven to have erred in the handling of the turmoil last week.

    Let this be a learning experience for everyone to unite and formulate adjustments in the existing policies and guidelines on emergency situations especially during an earthquake.

    After all, there is no perfect organization and we’re all in pursuit of happiness, security, and peace in this life – in whatever form. – Rappler.com

    *JC Ibarra is the pseudonym of the author who works at a BPO firm. So as not to put at risk employment, s/he requested that his/her identity not be revealed.


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    Photos from Shutterstock and Rhaydz Barcia/Rappler

    We were a dollar-earning family. My father worked as a sushi chef in America back when I was 7 years old – we were living comfortably. My mom, a graduate of industrial engineering at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, chose to be a homemaker back then. But everything changed when my father met his "number two."

    The remittances stopped, I had to transfer to a public school, my mother had to work – she was a single mother who had to find a job after more than a half-a-decade career gap. I tell you, my mother faced various kinds of discrimination, but she had to endure all of it because there were no laws that stopped companies from doing so, and the discrimination was masked as part of the hiring process. (READ: IN NUMBERS: What you need to know about the Philippine labor sector)

    In all of her interviews, she was asked, “Who will take care of your child while you’re working?”

    Asked countless times, my mom would confidently answer, “My grandmother will take care of him.” Afterwards, the company representative will say the most cliché line delivered after a job interview: “We’ll call you.” Companies did not look at her qualifications, but her personal situation – a situation that did not define her, a situation she could not change, and a situation that should not be a hindrance to her employment in the first place.

    One time, because of my naivete, I got to the point where I said, “Then don’t state my existence. Eh di ‘wag mo po ko ilagay sa application form (Don’t mention me on the application form)."

    Finally, my mother got hired by a popular lifestyle brand to become a factory worker in Taguig City. Living in Tondo, Manila, she had to wake up at 4 am, brave the harsh city pollution, ride a trolley, and immediately jump off from it when a train was approaching. She was doing an 8-hour job in a workplace with a lot of health hazards. All of this for a minimum wage of P492 – a minimum wage that equates to  an inhumane existence after deductions. Take note, I was an only child! How much worse, the situation of others?

    One day, my mother went home with a bump on her forehead, about an inch in diameter. She walked towards me slower than usual because she was suffering from a severe headache. She met an accident at work. A filled box that was the size of a Balikbayan box fell onto her while she was working. At that time, she was prohibited to go to the clinic for she was on duty, and was only told to immediately go home after her shift. She had to finish her duty for that day despite her injury. She had to continue working in a work place with almost no ventilation, enduring the large bump on her forehead, a head-splitting headache, and body pain all over. (READ: PH still among world's 'worst' countries to work in – report)

    And the injustice did not end there – the company did not compensate her nor cover her medical expenses, claiming that what happened was just a “simple accident.” We were powerless – my mother had to bow down her head so that she could still work there. She had to accept her subclass human condition.

    A lot of companies do not see their workers as human beings who can experience pain, emotions, and have limitations. Most companies see their workers as mere objects and instruments that will give them profit. Companies do not see the quality of the situation of the workers, rather the quality of the products they make. Companies see their workers as slaves and not as partners. A lot of employers cannot see the personal lives of their workers. They often forget that workers are humans too. (READ: [OPINION] Contractualization and the rights of workers)

    That is why protests are significant today to fight not for special conditions, but to fight for humane situations; not to complain, but to assert rights and to end this subclass human existence of our workers.

    This fight is your fight too. The outcome will heavily affect the people who are working right now, and if you are not, will greatly affect you when you start working too. This fight is not only for us, but also for you. We are fighting for your situation, for your rights: we are fighting for you. (READ: PH Labor Day: A history of struggle)

    As you read this, I may be in Mendiola, wearing a red shirt, under the sun, braving the police, with a placard containing different slogans and calls, shouting and fighting for our workers, and most especially, fighting and shouting for the injustices my mom faced so that I can live and write this article today. – Rappler.com

     

    Jack Lorenz A. Rivera is a 17-year-old incoming grade 12 student of Manila Science High School. He won first place in the Kabataan Sanaysay at the 68th Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature. This piece is his tribute to all fellow fighters of the world, and to his mother, Analea Acebedo Rivera.


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    MANILA, Philippines – For many Filipinos, Labor Day is a significant holiday where the efforts and contributions of workers to the economy are recognized and celebrated. (READ: PH Labor Day: A history of struggle)

    Even on the day dedicated to workers, some of them continued to work – a true sign of grit and commitment to their profession and to service.

    Rappler went around different communities to ask workers what they find special about their jobs.

    Scrub suit up

    For registered nurse Bojo Suasa, saving lives goes beyond fancy capes and superpowers. It is in sacrificing leisure and personal enjoyment for others, who oftentimes are in life-and-death situations.

    Provide for the family, serve the community

    62-year-old Cedario Matidios, a farmer from Leyte, shared his love for his profession. Aside from supporting his household’s stable food supply, he likes how he can share his crops and provide for his community, as well.

    For Esmeralda Nacanilao, a street sweeper for 8 years, being able to maintain cleanliness in Brgy. Sto. Domingo in Angeles City, Pampanga is what made her fall in love with the job.

    Despite the small compensation, knowing she gets to help not only her family but also other families is enough to keep her going.

    Meanwhile, for 60-year-old Lorenzo Tusan, ensuring the security of the people gives him a sense of fulfillment. Serving as a security guard for 29 years and counting, Tusan has dedicated his life to the job, even on holidays.

    Faith in the future

    True enough, construction work is one of the most strenuous and dangerous jobs out there. Working from the wee hours of the morning until late in the evening at the construction site, Randy Fuentes couldn't agree more.

    When the going gets tough, Fuentes reminds himself that every drop of sweat in constructing a school is worth it, knowing students will be able to learn in the school he's helped to build – something the likes of them, he said, missed a chance at.

     

    Builder for the urban poor

    For many workers, the essence of Labor Day is to assert the rights of those in the labor force and empower them. But Labor Day protest participant Arvin Dimalanta dares to go beyond and shed light on both the struggles of the Filipino worker and the urban poor.

    An architecture intern, Dimalanta shared his joy in helping amplify the voice of the urban poor. He joined the #MayoUno2019 protest as a volunteer of Save San Roque, an alliance against the demolition of the urban-poor community Sitio San Roque.

     

    How about you? What do you love about your job? – Rappler.com


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    DEFEND PRESS FREEDOM. In this file photo, youth groups condemn threats against media groups in a protest held at the University of the Philippines on February 14, 2019. File photo by Maria Tan/Rappler

    Bookmark and refresh this page for updates on World Press Freedom Day activities.

    MANILA, Philippines – Various media groups and artists are organizing several activities to celebrate World Press Freedom Day on Friday, May 3.

    These events are being organized against the backdrop of attacks on press freedom, which have escalated in the Philippines in recent months.

    Here is the list of activities for Friday:

    • 9 am: The Freedom for Media, Freedom for All coalition will hold a forum about the state of Philippine media. It will be held at B Hotel, Scout Rallos Street, Quezon City.
    • 9 am to 11 pm: There will be a free online screening of Portraits of Mosquito Press, a documentary by JL Burgos.
    • 10 am: Altermidya is organizing a protest at the Department of National Defense, Camp Aguinaldo.
    • 5:30 pm to 7 pm: Active Vista, Dakila, and EngageMedia are launching the Video for Change Impact Toolkit at UP Cine Adarna Videotheque.
    • 6 pm to 10 pm: Altermidya, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, Rappler, and LODI will hold the "Freedom Festival Jam" concert at Eton Centris Walk. Performers include Tubaw, General Strike, Pasada, Kilusan Stepsisters, MusikangBayan, bands from the AtTheBank MNL production house, and more.

    Rappler alone faces a total of 11 complaints and cases, which it maintains are part of a pattern of harassment by the government.

    Most recently, several news organizations, including Rappler, Vera Files, and the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, were linked to a so-called "Duterte ouster matrix." These groups have said that the allegations against them are false.

    Amid the threats against journalists, the Philippines slid one spot in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index, ranking 134th out of 180 countries. – Rappler.com


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    MANILA, Philippines – To celebrate World News Day, a number of netizens on Thursday, May 2, emphasized the importance of news at a time when press freedom and democracy are under threat in the Philippines.

    "Now I've realized how much news matters, especially in a time when fake news has become more prevalent. I have to keep myself informed so I can become better as a citizen and as a citizen journalist," Maria Victoria Te said.

    World News Day is a global event that celebrates how journalism has impacted individuals and communities.

    This year, the celebration was focused on why independent and fact-based journalism matters.

    The event's theme was echoed by Clifford Colibao, who said that news matters because "we have to constantly challenge the 'truth' that is being shoved down on our throats daily."

    The worldwide celebration comes a day before World Press Freedom Day, an event that raises awareness on the importance of a free press, and reminds government officials about their responsibility to uphold freedom of expression. (READ: LIST: World Press Freedom Day 2019 activities in the Philippines)

    Here are other comments from netizens:

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Rappler.com


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    Journalism is a heinous crime in a place where people feast over online disinformation like a smuggled high-grade marijuana.

    This deception scheme that has gone global is the devil of our lifetime. It reeks of hate, lies, and absurdity. It has propelled the corrupt, liars, and mass murderers into power. (READ: Who were targets of disinformation in 2018?)

    However, it is the online garbage that makes sense to vulnerable social media users because it feeds their egos. That is why it is also extremely addictive. (READ: Understand platforms, content to fight disinformation – experts)

    People are so exposed to online disinformation that when legitimate news debunks lies, it is reduced into propaganda in their perspectives. And when the battle of credibility between an award-winning veteran journalist and a paid blogger takes place, the crass and unverified claim of the latter wins.

    In the middle of all these online clutter, could truth-tellers still stand a chance?

    The answer is yes. But journalists need to pay a hefty price – they would be branded as criminals, destabilizers, and evil. For telling the truth, they would gain enemies from their circle of misinformed friends. To be fair, this is not shared by all journalists.

    This happened to me and my fellow campus journalists in college. Since freshman year, I’ve been the Editor of Fulcrum, the student publication of Palompon Institute of Technology in Palompon, Leyte. It is in this time that I witnessed the changes in leadership and how it shaped regulations and fiscal power in the process.

    In February 2017, I wrote an editorial piece that debunked accusations that our campus publication is a “purveyor of lies.” The ramifications were unparalleled. The person who accused the publication told a friend of mine that a libel case awaits me.

    Terrified, my staff asked me if they would be prosecuted too. Indeed, that was a horrible time for everybody in my team. No one knew exactly what to do.

    My thoughts raced: “Did I write a libelous statement?” “Are we all going to jail because that was an editorial?” “What about my future?”

    Despite what happened, we continued to be fearless in our reports. We dove deep into mounds of paper trails that were once regarded as not newsworthy.

    One story, the most controversial of its kind, was the investigative story I wrote along with my Deputy Editor 1. We looked into the finances of our student council and we found out that they had been operating without following the standard financial protocols of a student organization.

    That was not good for the image of our school. Well, at least, in the perspective of our school administrators. Those unleashed a period of administrative intimidations and ridiculous rants about our individual characters. Asserting their expertise, administrators started questioning the validity of our operations.

    Just last year, administrative summons intended to covertly censor our stories and limit our activities have become episodic. Some of our key officials asked us to suspend the publication of the investigative story on the student council’s financial discrepancies. A new policy restricting student operations until 7 pm was also imposed to stop us from operating since we usually work at night to adjust with our overlapping student schedules. (READ: The different faces of press freedom violations vs campus journalists)

    In the same year, we posted about our stance condemning the atrocities committed during the Marcos dictatorship. Our statement earned us flak from netizens who were Marcos apologists. Some of them red-tagged us, called us “yellowtards,” and accused us of accepting bribes. But apparently, those weren’t enough because someone sent me a death threat shortly after.

    Those same or harsher intimidations are continually being experienced by other campus publications across the country.

    Sure, there is Republic Act 7079 or the Campus Journalism Act of the Philippines, but it has become outdated that it has no teeth against violators anymore. Ill-intentioned individuals could interfere with editorial policies. Worse, student journalists could be prosecuted, harassed, threatened, and intimidated without penalty.

    In the national scene, deliberate weaponization of the laws to subdue brave journalists like Maria Ressa is at play. While the government argues that they had no hand on the series of cases filed against Ressa and online news network Rappler, it is obvious that the legal attacks were meant to paralyze their operations. (READ: LIST: Cases vs Maria Ressa, Rappler directors, staff since 2018)

    Last month, the Manila Times published an "association matrix" that "links" Rappler, Vera Files, PCIJ, and NUPL to the destabilization plot against the Philippine President. Two days later, managing editor Felipe Salvosa II resigned because it encroached his beliefs.

    Whether we like it or not, the curtailment of press freedom extends beyond the corners of campuses. Now, it wreaks havoc in newsrooms where uncompromised journalism takes place.

    Indeed, the forces of evil are gaining momentum through the online space. We have seen the power of online disinformation over past, present, and future. It creates a sphere of deception that cripples critical thoughts and consequently, our democracy.

    While there are still journalists like Ressa and Salvosa who do not allow evil forces to prosper, journalism still has hope, and campus journalists like me still have the right people to emulate in fighting our own little campus battles. (READ: [EDITORIAL] #AnimatED: A revolution against disinformation)

    In a world that is drugged with online disinformation, journalism is treated like a crime. But this is where the real job of a journalist takes place. After all, a misinformed society needs the power of the truth to convict the real criminals and condemn the real crimes.– Rappler.com

    Marthy John Lubiano is a Rappler lead mover in Palompon, Leyte. He is a graduating Bachelor of Arts in Communication student of Palompon Institute of Technology and is the Executive Editor of Fulcrum.


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    MANILA, Philippines – Are Filipino households prepared for a strong earthquake? 

    A study released on Wednesday, May 1, showed that most Filipino households hardly have earthquake preparedness plans.  This lack of preparation was the reason the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) urged disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) offices to ensure that information on earthquakes are accessible and comprehensible to all, especially among the less educated Filipinos. 

    HHI’s study, through its DisasterNet Philippines project, was gathered  from a nationwide household survey conducted between March and April 2017, with a total of 4,368 interviews. There were 240 household respondents in each of the 18 regions, except with the National Capital Region (NCR), where more were tapped for the survey.

    Coincidentally, the results of the survey were released just a few days after strong earthquakes jolted Luzon and Visayas. 

    Need for a boost 

    HHI Resilient Communities Program Director Vincenzo Bollettino said in a statement that timely access to disaster information and plans for what to do during an earthquake can save lives. (READ: How to prepare when disaster and emergency strike)

    "Filipinos should be aware of the Department of Interior and Local Government’s (DILG) guidelines on disaster preparedness (Operation Listo) and acquaint themselves with evacuation routes, evacuation shelter locations and should have emergency kits prepared,” Bollettino added.

    The study showed that the highly educated members of the household were more likely to have earthquake disaster plans (below 10%) than the less educated ones (below 5%).

    More highly educated respondents of the survey and heads of household were more likely to have a plan in case of earthquakes. (READ: Time to prepare that disaster kit

    The familiarity on the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) Earthquake Intensity Scale (PEIS), a seismic scale used to measure the intensity of a temblor, was more common at 62% among households with members who completed tertiary education and have skilled professionals. 

    This is followed at 49% by households with a member who finished secondary education, 35% for those with a member who graduated from primary school, and only 24% for households without members who either reached or finished any school level.

    Even before the magnitude 6.1 earthquake jolted Central Luzon on April 22, this region, along with Western Visayas only showed 3% of preparedness planning at the household level.

    The least prepared regions at 1% each were Ilocos Region and Cagayan Valley. Near the bottom at 2% preparedness were Bicol, Zamboanga Peninsula, and Soccsksargen.

    Central Visayas reported the highest level of preparedness at 15%, while Metro Manila, which was also hit by the recent earthquake ranked at the second highest level of preparedness planning at 13% before the disaster happened. 

    Other factors

    Familiarity with PEIS were more common at 51% among younger respondents at 18 to 35-years old than the older Filipinos. This was followed by Filipinos with ages 36-55 at 48% and only 43% for 56 and older. 

    The survey also showed that households dependent on agriculture or fishing as their main livelihood are less likely to have an earthquake management plan at 3%, than skilled and unskilled workers at 8%.

    Communications coordinator of HHI DisasterNet Philippines Mark Toldo said that the study aims to present specific data for each type of disaster after its general study on the perceptions of disaster resilience and preparedness in the Philippines. (READ: Despite experience with typhoons, most Filipinos 'not prepared for disasters')

    “What we're doing right now is we're getting specific data from the results of the survey on each type of disaster such as earthquake. The other month, we released some data on drought. We hope to release more specific data in the coming months,” Toldo said. –  with a report from Jene-Anne Pangue/Rappler.com

     

     

     


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    SUCCESS. Athlete turned lawyer Maria Rodielita Dublin passes the 2018 Bar Examinations and becomes the first lawyer in her clan on Friday, May 3, 2019. Photo from Maria Rodielita Dublin

    MANILA, Philippines – “Tapos na lahat ng paghihirap ng ate ko, lawyer na siya!(My sister’s hardships are over, she’s now a lawyer!)” a teary-eyed Emmaruth Dublin said at the grounds of the Supreme Court (SC) on Friday, May 3, as the names of 1,800 passers of the 2018  Bar Examinations flashed on the screen.

    Emmaruth, with her parents Rodevic and Emma, waited at the SC for the announcement of the passers because the Bar candidate – Maria Rodielita – is in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia as a member of the Philippine team competing in the Touch Rugby World Cup.

    "Sobra kaming kinakabahan kasi siya 'yung magiging first lawyer ng angkan sana (We’re very nervous because she’ll hopefully be the first lawyer of our clan)," says Emmaruth.

    Their hearts nearly wilted under the hot noon sun because Maria Rodielita's name was not in the list flashed on the screens.

    But they didn't leave. 

    The SC then announced on the ground that it would turn off the screens to update the list. (FULL LIST: Bar Exams 2018 passers)

    This time, the great news came. Good things indeed comes to those who wait.

    A journalism graduate at the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman, Maria Rodielita completed her law degree at San Beda Alabang. She passed the bar on her first take. She also became the first lawyer in their clan.

    Baka ngayon naglulupasay na 'yun (Maybe now she’s lying on the ground celebrating),” Emmaruth said.

    Their mother Emma could barely say words:Sobrang pasalamat, ‘yung effort ng anak ko talagang it paid off.” (We’re so thankful, my daughter’s efforts really paid off.)

    – with reports from Isabel Lupac and Nicole Anne Del Rosario/Rappler.com

     


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    GRATITUDE. The proud mother of Nadine Patriziah Agustin rejoices when she sees her daughter pass the 2018 Bar Examinations on May 3. Photo by Isabel Lupac/Rappler

    MANILA, Philippines – With some coming as early as 8 am, bar takers with their family and friends crowded the Supreme Court (SC) to wait for the results of the 2018 Bar Examinations on Friday, May 3. (FULL LIST: Bar Exams 2018 passers)

    Bar takers have been anticipating the results since the examinations were held at the University of Santo Tomas on November 4, 11, 18, and 25, 2018.

    After the Court's special en banc session on Friday, the names of 1,800 Bar passers were flashed on a LED screen at the SC grounds. 

    Here are some of the heartfelt moments we witnessed on Friday as Bar passers and their families celebrated their new achievement.

    Family's success and pride

    Josephine Agustin, mother of Bar passer Nadine Patriziah Agustin, cried tears of joy after knowing that her daughter passed the examinations on her first take. 

    "Sobra saya ko para sa kanya kasi bata pa lang siya, pangarap niya na talaga 'yan (I’m overjoyed for her because since she was a kid, that’s always been her dream)," Agustin said.

     

    Jethro Maban may not have passed the Bar Examinations on his first take, but that did not stop him from reaching for his dreams of becoming a lawyer.

    On Friday, he marched to the SC grounds with his sister Jessamin, hopeful that he would see a different outcome of the examinations. The siblings were in tears as soon as they saw Jethro's name on the list.

    He dedicated his success to their overseas Filipino worker parents in Korea.

    Much awaited call

     

    While Bar taker Maria Rodielita Dublin is in Malaysia competing in the Touch Football World Cup as a member of the Philippine team, her family trooped to the SC to wait for the results of the Bar Exams.

    After they saw Rodielita's name on the list, her sister Emmaruth immediately called her to tell her the good news. Rodielita is the first lawyer in the clan. 

    "Sobrang pasalamat, 'yung effort ng anak ko talagang it paid off (We're so thankful, my daughter's efforts really paid off)," said Emma, Rodielita's mother. (READ: From Philippine team member to her clan’s first lawyer)

    ,

     

    After seeing her name on the list, Katherine Bercero Montano from Bulacan State University immediately cried and hugged her husband.

    Without hesitation, Katherine called her mother and said, "Abogado na ako, Ma (Mom, I'm a lawyer now)!" 

    Only 1,800 of the 8,158 examinees passed the 2018 Bar Examinations, which translates to a passing rate of 22.07%. with reports from Isabel Lupac/ Rappler.com

    Nicole Anne del Rosario is a Rappler Intern. She is a 4th year AB Communication student of De La Salle University-Dasmariñas.


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    SIGN. A person holds a sign during a march against dirty energy in Cagayan de Oro in 2012. Photo by Philline Donggay

    I remember the day I decided not to have children.

    It was October 31, 2011. My news feed was harping on about world population; the United Nations had announced that a baby born in the Philippines was the 7 billionth person on the planet.

    That hit me on two levels: as a Filipino, I was already frustrated with the country’s (over)population (non-)policies, so the announcement felt like a backhanded compliment.

    Second, I was already working in climate change, and the things I knew and understood to be true were all incredibly distressing.

    As I dove into Halloween festivities that year, I officially plunged into fear, terror, guilt, shame, anger, and frustration to swim in a sea called “Climate Anxiety.”

    How can any parent responsibly bring a child into the world in the age of climate breakdown to face threats to health and well-being never experienced by the generation that came before them?

    With this question in mind, I reconsidered my now deemed egocentric love for tiny little human beings, and softly nudged others to rethink their own baby-making plans. (READ: My life, my choice: ‘Why I chose not to have children’)

    But not wanting children was only one manifestation.

    I stopped even banal things like posting travel albums on my social media accounts, an important ritual in post-colonial societies approaching middle income status, because I was fearful of unintentionally inspiring younger people that a jetsetter lifestyle full of flight carbon was a legit life goal.

    Having grown up in a mall-going culture, I was now too refusing to visit these commercial centers as I did regularly in the past, giving up free air conditioning in year-long summer seasons – all for the fear of being mind tricked into the newest fast fashion purchase.

    I hated watching the news on the latest extreme weather event but rolled my eyes when I chanced upon one that didn’t mention climate change. When Tropical Storm Sendong (international name: Washi) hit my home region, killing hundreds of people, I was questioning what made me so special that I was spared. (READ: Life after Sendong: ‘A place we can now call home’)

    As a woman with mild anemia, I was also afraid to stop eating meat, but more terrified of the consequences if I didn’t.

    To my family, I became the climate wonk with multitudinous, sometimes crippling rules to life. To many friends and colleagues, a depressing misplaced activist who could hardly get it together.

    I have sobbed countless times after delivering Climate Reality presentations over the past 8 years. I once burst into tears on a report about how the Syrian war was essentially climate-induced, to the horror of my post-grad colleagues.

    As with regular anxiety, people are said to deal with climate anxiety in different ways.

    If I believe what I’ve read out of research from groups like Futerra Sustainability or the Yale program on Climate Change Communications, I recognize I dealt with mine just by moving and moving forward.

    When I realized that joining protest rallies and making picket signs for climate campaigns I engaged in were not effective enough where I was, I found myself working in proactive climate policy.

    And when that did not yield the results I was hoping for, I ended up exploring climate finance, until I convinced my own family to inadvertently support the clean energy revolution I was always rooting for. The same family I annoyed for years with my climate gospel are with me on the first solar service provider established in my hometown.

    From promoting a switch to renewable energy in my region, to making my own friends plant trees to celebrate my birthday, then embarking on a veiled campaign to convert my family into flexitarianism with me – I focused on what could be done in my own sphere of influence, starting a wave of positive impact actions for myself.

    It helps to find your anxious tribe, too.

    When I first heard UN Climate Chief Christiana Figueres speak in person at the Global Power Shift conference in 2013, she was in tears talking about how she worried for her daughters’ futures. I met one of her daughters years later, and was pleased to learn she was just as sweetly emotional as her mother.

    I also became friends with Yeb Saño, the former climate diplomat famous for weeping while he delievered a UNFCCC conference speech. I joined the Climate Pilgrimage with him in 2018, alongside many more like me, and we were in Katowice at COP24 when Greta Thunberg was introduced to global climate politics in a speech that became vindication for climate anxious folks the world over. (READ: Climate change pilgrimage: Winning hearts and minds)

    These days, I’ve managed my anxiety well enough to function and divide my time between commercial endeavors and development consultancies. Perhaps the most important disclosure is finding someone who could embody what I could never be in the climate change space.

    I live the vicarious Extinction Rebellion activist life through my partner, who will happily drive a boat in the way of an oil tanker, lead a mob inside a fossil fuel giant’s office, or stand in front of a moving coal train shipment.

    The knowledge that someone close to me is doing the work I could never do, became a means for myself to survive the drone of multilateral conferences and forums I need to attend to keep up with my part of the climate duty bargain.

    I suppose, one seeks to find fullness in the essence of a duty bearer, even when one cannot comprehend the duty-bearing origins.

    We just have to do what we’ve gotta do. And in the wise words of Dory, “Just keep swimming!” – Rappler.com 

    Philline Donggay is co-founder and Chief of Communications at Greenergy Solar PH, the first commercial rooftop brand offering solar and related services in Northern Mindanao.  She holds a Master’s in Social Sciences for Tri-Sector Collaboration from the Singapore Management University, and remains an active volunteer for 350.org and the Climate Reality project. 

     


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    TRUTH. Artist Mae Paner encourages the public to fight lies during the freedom festival jam commemorating World Press Freedom Day on May 3. Photo by Jillian Siervo/Rappler

    MANILA, Philippines– Advocates and journalists took to the stage to voice out relevant issues in the Philippines through songs and performances in a Freedom Festival Jam concert for World Press Freedom Day on Friday, May 3, at Eton Centris Walk.

    Media groups including Altermidya, National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP), Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity (LODI), and Rappler led the concert to commemorate World Press Freedom Day, along with other artists and advocates of the cause, despite increasing threats against the free press.

    Events like this help us remember what we fight for, why we fight for it. And it helps us remember the costs of people who fought for those freedoms, that’s why we can express ourselves now,” said former Supreme Court (SC) spokesperson and human rights lawyer Ted Te.

    Irony of today

    The event comes at a time when the Philippine media faces threats, especially after a handful of agencies and groups were tagged in a so-called matrix of an “oust Duterte” plot on April 22. (READ: Philippine media ‘under siege’ as it commemorates World Press Freedom Day)

    Artist Mae Paner, also known as Juana Change, also pointed out the irony of the current situation of journalists who now find themselves becoming part of the stories they’re covering.

    Ako bilang isang artista ay naniniwala na ang mga journalist ay pinagtatrabaho. Imbis na sila ang nagcocover ng news, sila na ang nasa news,” she said.

    (As an artist, I believe that journalists should be able to do their job. Instead of covering the news, they're in the news.)

    Opposition senatorial bet Chel Diokno pointed out the administration’s trend of targeting critics and attacking institutions that seek to uphold checks and balances in the government.

    Paisa-isa nang inaatake ang mga institutsyon na nagiging check and balance sa pang-aabuso ng pamahalaan. Inuna nila ang ating senado kay Senator De Lima. Sumunod naman ang ating Supreme Court kay CJ Sereno. Sumunod ang Commission on Human Rights, tapos ang media,” he said. (READ: Rappler on latest case: Pattern of harassment has not stopped)

    (They are attacking institutions that ensure check and balance against government abuses. First was the senate with Senator De Lima. Next was the Supreme Court with CJ Sereno. Next was the Commission on Human Rights, then the media.)

    He warned how this trend slowly silences the voices of the people.

    Paliit nang paliit ang democratic space ng mga Pilipino (The democratic space of Filipinos is getting smaller),” he added.

    The ripple effect of press freedom

    Journalist Inday Espina-Varona from LODI expressed the ripple effect that follows when press freedom is under attack.

    Kailangan ng mga malulupit na gobyerno na mapatahimik ang mga mamamahayag dahil kapag wala nang nakatutok na camera sa mga extrajudicial killings, sa mga mapangalipustang pagpalayas ng mga IPs (indigenous people) sa kanayunan, maaari nang mangyari ang walang humpay pang-aabuso sa lahat ng karapatang pantao,” she said.

    (Harsh governments need to silence journalists because when there will be no cameras exposing extrajudicial killings, the eviction of indigenous peoples from the countryside, unhampered abuse of all human rights will take place.)

    Te also said that press freedom and freedom of expression are essential to a democracy.

    “If we don’t have press freedom and freedom of expression, you can’t find out the truth. You can’t discover things that the government wants to hide and that’s the essence of democracy. You know what’s going on and you can assert your rights,” he added.

    GIRL POWER. Kilusang Stepsisters from Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP) rallies for gender sensitivity and press freedom through their music during the freedom festival jam on May 3. Photo by Jillian Siervo/Rappler

    Aside from sharing of sentiments from press freedom advocates and journalists, artist groups Tubaw Collective, General Strike, Pasada, Kilusan Stepsisters, and MusikangBayan also serenaded the crowd with music tackling other relevant issues in the Philippines such as farmers’ rights, lumad killings, and contractualization. – Rappler.com

    Jillian Gaiety Siervo is a Rappler intern. She is a General Academic Strand graduate from Ateneo de Manila Senior High School.


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    UNITED. Mary Racelis, one of the contributors of the book, responds to the audience in behalf of all the authors seated on the platform during the launch of ''To Be in History: Dark Days of Authoritarianism' on May 2, 2019. Photo by Maria Gabriela Aquino/Rappler

    MANILA, Philippines – Seeing similarities between the present and the Philippines' dark days under military rule, Martial Law survivors launched a book documenting their experiences to remind Filipinos about their past.

    The book To Be in History: Dark Days of Authoritarianism was unveiled on Thursday, May 2. It features contributing authors with different political ideologies and backgrounds, giving another layer to the written history of Martial Law.

    The book is told through the perspectives and experiences of Adrian Helleman, Mary Racelis, Melba Maggay, Elizabeth Lolarga, Fe Mangahas, Mario Miclat, Alma Miclat, Willie Villarama, and Rolando Villacorte.

    "We came together and we tried to understand what was happening in our country. Inevitably, the despairing question surfaced: How is it possible that this is happening again? We have worked so hard against it, yet it is happening again," said Racelis.

    PRIDE. Contributing authors together with guest speakers proudly present the book during the launch on May 2, 2019, at Ateneo's Arete. Photo by Maria Gabriela Aquino/Rappler

    The book is divided into 3 parts that tackle the years of authoritarian rule, the days of the People Power Revolution, and the contributors' experiences after the Marcos regime. It is anthology on the Martial Law era with reflections from the authors on the current state of affairs in the Philippines.

    Through the book, the authors hope not only to preserve and document the events that unfolded during Martial Law, but also to remind the youth about what the Philippines has gone through to fight for democracy and freedom.

    "Many young people knew little about the realities of what it was like during the Martial Law dictatorship," Racelis said. (READ: #NeverAgain: Martial Law stories young people need to hear)

    Though there are several books that have been published about Martial Law, To Be in History: Dark Days of Authoritarianism comes at a time when revisionists try to warp the history of Martial Law and the Marcoses run for seats in government. (READ: FALSE: 'No massacres' during Martial Law)

    Relevance of the book 

    Jayeel Cornelio, director of the Development Studies Program at Ateneo de Manila University, pointed out in the launch how people still hold the belief that authoritarian rule can solve issues in society, despite the events that transpired during Martial Law. 

    "Today, popular rhetoric, prevails – that the country needs someone who can restore order. This in effect resurrects the adage of the past: Discipline is necessary for our society to progress.... In the name of order, many have now become indifferent to the virtues of democracy and community-building," he said.

    He added how similar to what happened in Martial Law, critics of the government now are being attacked and targeted, and extrajudicial killings from the drug war are tagged as collateral damage.  

    "Its permutations are unyielding, human rights activists have been recast as enemies of the state, critiques in the media are either biased or bought or both. To question the administration has become an unpatriotic act," he said.

    Cornelio cautioned how this pattern of targeting critics may later affect academic institutions in the long run.

    "The morality of Philippine politics is now black and white, or yellow or otherwise. Maybe tomorrow, it will be academics. And for many of us in this room it can only get worse," he warned.

    National Artist for Literature F. Sionil Jose explained how important it is to learn from pivotal events in Philippine history such as Martial Law.

    "We should always remember that periods like Martial Law do something to us as a people. When anarchy prevails, when all ethics and standards are thrown out of the window, it’s almost a necessity that civic ethics also goes down," he said.

    "It's almost impossible to regain the same morality that we used to have or we hoped to have. This explains why there is so much corruption in our country today because of these serious events that have come. We are not united enough to combat all these negative things that have happened. At the bottom of it, we really don't love this country enough," Sionil Jose said.

    Cornelio mentioned how the book is relevant at a time when historical revisionism is on the rise.

    "All this goes to show that the memory of the emancipatory past has been hijacked, which is why the book is important. It upholds the merits of the day and paints the future on a canvas of imagined hope and brutal change," said Cornelio.

    Filomeno Aguilar, chair of the Ateneo de Manila University Research Council, tackled how people play a role in understanding and learning from history to avoid making the same mistakes again. (READ: [OPINION] Why should young Filipinos in the diaspora care about Martial Law?)

    "History is not just a succession of events running on a chain of mere cause and effect, but of choices we make, big and small, that turned the (tide) and make us aware that human agency matters," he said.

    The book is available on select book-selling sites including Amazon, Waterstones, and Barnes & Noble. – with reports from Maria Gabriela Aquino/Rappler.com


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    FROM MD TO ATTY. Doctor Jean Joan Polido passes the 2018 Bar Exams. All photos from Polido

    MANILA, Philippines – Among the 1,800 law graduates who passed the 2018 Bar Exams is a physician who proved that it's not yet too late for her to achieve her "original dream." (READ: FULL LIST: Bar Exams 2018 passers)

    Jean Joan Polido, 33, finished medicine with cum laude honors at the University of Santo Tomas in 2010. It was her longtime dream to become a lawyer, but she chose to pursue medicine for her parents, who always wanted her to become a doctor. 

    "It was pushed into the background kasi my parents, gusto talaga nila [na maging] doctor ako (because my parents, they wanted me to become a doctor). So I did it. I also fell in love with the profession," she said.

    But even when she was already in her first year of surgery residency, Polido still couldn't shake off her dream of becoming a lawyer. (READ: Bar 2018: La Salle Manila gets first topnotcher as USC continues feat)

    Upon realizing that she could still revive her dream with the full support of her husband, she finally decided to pursue the profession she had longed for since childhood.

    In 2013, she began studying at the Arellano University School of Law, which offered an executive class for working students.

    "I decided to try it for one semester, test the waters if that's really for me. But after the first semester, I fell deeply in love with the profession so I pursued it," said Polido.

    She quit her surgery residency and juggled being a law student as well as a university physician and medical technology professor at the Trinity University of Asia.

    "Basta para sa pangarap, walang mahirap, walang hindi kakayanin (When it's for your dreams, nothing is difficult or hard to achieve)."

    Not in it for prestige

    Entering law school, Polido said she had to make a lot of adjustments as she had to start from scratch.

    "I have to make my own notes, I have to read more than one book per subject and I have to read cases. They're (medicine and law) both difficult pero siguro kaya mas nahirapan ako sa law kasi pre-law ko ay (but maybe I struggled more with law school because my pre-law course was) medical technology," she said.

    After 5 years, she completed her law degree and took the Bar Exams. (READ: 'A dream come true': 2018 Bar passers celebrate success)

    Asked about her advice to aspiring lawyers, Polido said that preparing for the Bar Exams starts in law school.

    "Make sure you really want to become a lawyer. 'Yung dahil gusto mong i-protect ang life, liberty, and property ng future client mo, not because gusto mo lang ng prestige that comes with [the title] (That you truly want to protect the life, liberty, and property of your future clients, not because you only want the prestige that comes with the title)," she said.

    Now that she's both a doctor and a lawyer, Polido hopes to be able to practice both professions. (READ: 2018 Bar topnotcher wants to be 'voice for people who need a voice') – Samantha Bagayas and Kurt dela Peña/Rappler.com


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    DISCUSSION. Francis Allan Angelo, the editor-in-chief of the Daily Guardian, talks during a panel discussion of #MoveIloilo: Social Good in the Digital Age on April 29, 2019. Photo by Rachel Beatizula/Rappler

    MANILA, Philippines – Representatives of Iloilo City organizations and a media group suggested bringing fact-checking initiatives to the provinces during the #MoveIloilo: Social Good in the Digital Age forum.

    More than 170 students and citizens attended the forum at PHINMA University of Iloilo last Monday, April 29, to learn about fact-checking.

    Kabataan party regional coordinator Rea Guiloreza pointed out how most fact-checking initiatives are centered in Metro Manila, neglecting provinces which may be struggling with disinformation as well.

    "Ramdam mo naman na 'yung media is taking a stand on combating this issue on fake news, pero I think it's time for media to get out of Imperial Manila, and take into account the fake news na kumakalat sa countryside," she said.

    (You can sense that media is taking a stand on combating this issue on fake news, but I think it's time for media to get out of Imperial Manila, and take into account the fake news spreading in the countryside.)

    Guiloreza emphasized how there needs to be localized efforts to fight disinformation, which could be led by media groups and schools.

    "Walang efforts to combat the local fake news kasi lahat na lang 'yung nasa central government na fake news 'yung nata-tackle.... I think it's a challenge na schools, journalism organizations, they could try to establish a localized na fake news mechanism," she said.

    (There are no efforts to combat local fake news because they're all tackling fake news from the central government.... I think it's a challenge for schools, journalism organizations, they could try to establish a localized fake news mechanism.)

    Disinformation in Iloilo City

    According to Francis Allan Angelo, the editor-in-chief of the Daily Guardian, disinformation in Iloilo City can be especially seen in radio blocktime programs, especially during elections. (READ: 'Fake news' should be considered form of election fraud, says watchdog)

    "Mostly disinformation comes out of radio blocktime programs. These are people hired to speak for certain candidates. Very prevalent on the radio, not on TV or in newspapers. Usually the black propaganda, disinformation come out of these programs," he said in a mix of English and Filipino.

    Angelo said these radio programs tend to allot a certain hour, where people are hired to speak for or against a certain candidate to sway voters. He added that sentiments shared during these programs are then echoed or amplified on social media.

    Angelo mentioned how many Ilonggos rely on radio for their news, worsening the impact of disinformation.

    "Radio is very prevalent here because of its wider reach, especially in the countryside.... They start talking about politicians. Black propaganda [gets out] and it gets magnified on social media," he said.

    Even on social media, Guiloreza shared that people refer to the Facebook pages of radio programs in Iloilo City for local news since most TV networks and newspapers report on national news.

    "Ang pinakamabilis na access on social media for local news is from the pages of those news stations. So dalawa ang reach niya: both on the radio waves and on social media. Malakas talaga ang radio stations dito kaya ganoon siya ka-powerful sa Iloilo and Western Visayas," said Guiloreza.

    (The fastest access on social media for local news is from the pages of those news stations. So they have two means of reaching their audience: both on radio and on social media. Radio stations here are very strong. That's why they're that powerful in Iloilo and Western Visayas.)

    Dakila Iloilo Collective executive director Kenneth Gadian also highlighted that many Ilonggos prefer radio stations over other platforms.

    "One reason why Ilonggos are attached to radio stations as their source of information and to [their] Facebook pages – I think it's economic because most areas in the province have only radio as their source of information, and also free data...so they just rely on Facebook pages and captions," he said.

    Challenging disinformation

    To combat false information being spread in Iloilo City, Angelo shared that the Daily Guardian is planning to conduct fact-checking training in partnership with the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism.

    Aside from fact-checking initiatives for media and interested organizations, Guiloreza pointed out that ordinary citizens also play a major role in stopping the spread of disinformation.

    "I think 'yung fake news phenomenon, it's not only in the Philippines but it's an issue worldwide. We should be critical of everything around us, kahit sa legitimate na news organizations. We should stay critical kasi sila nagkakamali din," she said.

    (The fake news phenomenon, it’s not only in the Philippines but it’s an issue worldwide. We should be critical of everything around us, even legitimate news organizations. We should stay critical because they also make mistakes.)

    People can also take part in the fight against disinformation by calling out news organizations if they put out misleading or inaccurate reports.

    "Since [the] currency [of] media is credibility and credibility comes from the belief of the listeners or the consumers and users of news, the consumers themselves should also call out media outlets if there's something wrong in our reporting," Angelo said. – Rappler.com


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    TOGETHER. Michael Calzado and Charmaine Tan– both graduates of University of San Carlos Law, share their struggles, experiences and success together as they achieve the same dream. Photo by Rob Flores

    MANILA, Philippines – A couple from Leyte shared the sweet success of how love fueled their dream of making it through law school and passing the Bar exams.

    Michael Calzado, 25, of Tacloban City, and Charmaine Lynn Tan, 26, from Pastrana, Leyte, were both graduates of the University of San Carlos (USC) in Cebu City.

    The couple was attending a Holy Mass when they learned both had passed their exams after the Supreme Court announced the results on Friday, May 3.

    Calzado recalled both of them were kneeling when he felt his phone vibrating. Soon after, he checked it and found out that a lot of his friends and relatives tried to reach him to inform them of the good news. (FULL LIST: Bar Exams 2018 passers)

    He said both of them got teary-eyed singing the Lord’s prayer while strongly gripping each others' hands. 

    “We were shocked. We can’t believe we passed. It took hours before we realized that,” Calzado said.  

    The Beginning

    Calzado dreamed of being a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) but because he failed his qualifying exams on his second year in college at the University of the Philippines Visayas Tacloban College (UPVTC) he was forced to shift course to BS Management.

    “Since then, I stopped dreaming and told myself to just graduate and look for an easy high paying job,” Calzado stressed.  

    On the other hand, Tan studied Computer Engineering in UP Diliman on her first year but shifted course to BS Management in UPVTC afterwards. 

    Although both of them were acquaintances in high school, it was only during college that they started to get to know each other better, until they officially got into a relationship in 2012.

    Calzado recalled how he never really planned to take up law in the first place but Tan, who decided to be a lawyer, encouraged him because she saw his potential. (READ: 'A dream come true': 2018 Bar passers celebrate success)

    “I knew he could do great things but he was just discouraged for some reason so we took the entrance [exam] together and luckily passed,” Tan said.

    Failure is not a hindrance

    Their law school journey wasn’t smooth sailing at all though.

    Tan had to retake two subjects in her third year of law school. Despite the difficulty, she never let it get in the way of her dream. 

    “My greatest struggle in law school was how to deal with failures. In law school, you'd feel brokenhearted many times. There would be examinations which you'd prepare so hard for but you'd still fail....[but] I love what I was doing – learning the law and how to apply it. So every time I failed, I would remind myself why I was studying law in the first place,” Tan added.

    On the other hand, Calzado almost got kicked out in his third year. A classmate of his was able to convince their professor to give him a removal exam – he fortunately passed it and was able to continue his journey through law school.

    He worked hard to redeem himself. Also, his professors in law school motivated him to do better. 

    “I was inspired by the experiences of my mentors. They convinced me that our country needs more lawyers who are ethical. I realized how important it was to be knowledgeable of the laws. With this knowledge and the license to practice, I will be able to help a lot of people, including my family and relatives,” Calzado added. 

    During these difficult times, Tan also shared that they would often eat out every after failed recitation or examination.

    “That's the reason why we've both grown bigger,” she jokingly said.

    Dreaming together

    Both of them also took jobs to support their living expenses in Cebu. Calzado worked as a chat support specialist and online English tutor during his first two years in law school while Tan also worked as a sales representative in a publishing company during her first year and an online english tutor until her third year, and she worked as a content writer on her fourth year.  

    COUPLE GOALS. Michael Calzado and Charmaine Tan graduate together from University of San Carlos Law School on April 2018. Photo from Michael Calzado's Facebook page

    Evidently, their love and support for each other played a big role in helping them achieve their dreams.

    Tan also said that being in a relationship with Calzado did not distract her but instead it made her focused in achieving her dreams. Besides, they share the same goal of passing all their subjects, being able to graduate and in passing the Bar exams.

    “Charm encouraged me to dream again and aim high. She told me I had the potential to become a lawyer and I should pursue it. She made me believe that I was capable of passing the Bar and she promised me her full support. She always had my back,” Calzado expressed.  

    Being in a relationship now for almost 7 years, the couple has some advice to other couples taking up law.

    "As what our seniors would usually say, law is a jealous mistress. You have to focus on it so you could learn, graduate, and pass the Bar. So if both of you are taking law, you have to understand that you will not be the priority... But be there to back each other up…Pray for each other, for both of you,” Tan said.  

    And as for the arguments that would get in the way, she said, “no one would win your arguments– you will both be good at it. So always learn how to compromise.”

    Now that both of them are lawyers, Calzado wants to pursue business related or commercial law related ventures, and fight for the farmers’ rights while Tan hopes to work at the Public Attorneys’ Office (PAO) to extend her legal services to those who can’t afford to have private lawyers. 

    The passing rate for the 2018 Bar Examinations was 22.07%. Calzado and Tan were among the 1,800 examinees who passed the Bar exams, out of 8,158 takers. – Rappler.com


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    MANILA, Philippines – Rappler's civic engagement arm, MovePH, is building a community of people who want to bring about the change they wish to see in the world.

    Called Rappler Movers, they are campus journalists, youth leaders, advocates, and activists from partner campus publications and school organizations.  These movers were trained by Rappler's editors and reporters over a month ago, as they take part in the local election coverage in the upcoming midterm polls. 

    They will be covering the local polls in the cities of Baguio, Tuguegarao, Naga, Bacolod, Iloilo, Cebu, Tacloban, Calbayog, Cagayan de Oro, and Dipolog, and the provinces of Pampanga, Laguna, Leyte, Bukidnon, and Sarangani.

    They heeded the call to inspire courage and take action. With the stories that they tell and share, they are able to amplify the voice of their own communities. 

    But even so after elections, these movers promise to continue strengthening their communities as a means of bringing about positive change. Their goal is to be part of an ecosystem of civic action enablers and doers collaborating towards sustainable progress and nation-building. 

    Watch the video to learn why they decided to be a mover, and why you should too!

    Join the MovePH community or subscribe to Rappler PLUS today.  – Rappler.com 


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    TWO FACES. Various youth groups call on Filipinos not to vote for Imee Marcos at the "Zero Votes for Imee Marcos" unity declaration event in Quezon City on Monday, May 6. Photo by Kurt Dela Peña/Rappler

    MANILA, Philippines – “Ang zero vote kay Imee ay hero vote para sa ating bayan (Zero votes for Imee is a hero vote for our country).”

    This was the call of youth leaders during a unity declaration event on Monday, May 6, in Quezon City urging Filipinos not to vote for senatorial candidate Imee Marcos.

    The call came after Marcos was exposed as “a candidate of questionable integrity and blatant dishonesty, and one unworthy of a seat in the Senate.”

    As the daughter of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, and as a member of a family who was accused of massive corruption and human rights abuses, the groups said that electing her would be an insult to the history of the Philippines. (READ: Martial Law, the dark chapter in Philippine history)

    Saying that “some things, like dishonesty, just never change,” Lorenzo Relente of the University of the Philippines (UP) Alyansa slammed Marcos’ denial of her family’s crimes and the falsification of her credentials.

    Last August 21, 2018, while the country commemorated Ninoy Aquino’s assasination, Marcos told Filipinos who continue criticizing her family to move on from Martial Law.

    Meanwhile, in January 2019, questions regarding her educational background were raised as a school official at Princeton University negated Marcos’ claim that she finished a degree in “religion and politics.”

    Her other claims as stated in her curriculum vitae posted during her time at the House of Representatives such as being a cum laude graduate at the UP College of Law; valedictorian at the Santa Catalina School in California; and a Management and Business Administration MA holder from the Asian Institute of Management, were debunked by the respective schools’ officials.

    Bakit pa tayo magtitiwala sa isang taong hindi kapani-paniwala, na nagsisinungaling mula sa kayamanan hanggang sa sariling achievements,” Joshua Dy of Akbayan Youth asked. (Why would we trust someone who lies, from her wealth to her achievements?)

    Corruption

    Aside from her “false” educational track, the groups also blasted Marcos’ dishonesty on her wealth and on some government projects in Ilocos Norte.

    According to Dy, Marcos has her own way of lying and stealing, and that she continuously grows her wealth through illegal means.

    In an investigation made by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, Marcos was said to be a beneficiary of the secret offshore trust Sintra.

    Meanwhile, Erica Navelgas of Youth for Sin Tax disagreed with Imee’s campaign slogan that she is “the solution.”

    In 2017, a copy of a Provincial Appropriation Ordinance No. 022-2011 showed that Ilocos Norte’s share of the tobacco excise tax was used to fund the pet projects of Marcos.

    Navelga said that if used properly, the fund could have benefitted the tobacco farmers through various programs.

    Zero votes for anti-people policies

    Should Marcos win a Senate seat, according to the groups, she will just be an additional burden to Filipinos as she will be an instrument in realizing the Duterte administration’s anti-people policies.

    Ang panawagan ay hindi lang zero votes para kay Imee kundi zero votes para sa adhikain ng administrasyon na anti-people at anti-mahihirap,” they said. (What we're asking is not only for zero votes for Imee, but for zero votes for the anti-people policies of the government.)

    The groups then called on their fellow voters to exert an effort in order to reach other electorates and educate them about characteristics that candidates must possess such as “transparency, accountability, and excellence.”

    Ikakampanya din namin si Imee Marcos, ngunit hindi ang kanyang pagkapanalo, kundi ang kanyang pagkatalo sa pamamagitan ng pagsisiwalat sa mga kalapastanganan ng mga Marcoses at pag educate sa mga voters,” said Gherard Tapado of Speak, an organization of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. (We will campaign for the defeat of Marcos by exposing her family's abuses, and by educating voters.) – with reports from Josiah Antonio/Rappler.com


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    TRUE MATRIX. Some of the individuals linked to the so-called "Oust-Duterte matrix" gathered at the University of the Philippines Diliman for a forum organized by the Third World Studies Center on Tuesday, May 7. Photo by Kurt Dela Peña/Rappler

    MANILA, Philippines – Journalists and other groups linked to the so-called “Oust Duterte matrix” on Tuesday, May 7, slammed what they called the government’s pattern of attacks to “vilify or demonize” them. (READ: Human rights law group calls Oust Duterte plot ‘rubbish')

    In the “This is the matrix” public forum organized by the Third World Studies Center of the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman, the panel tackled the “dangerous implications” of the “fabricated accusations” thrown against them by the the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte. (READ: Malacañang's copy of 'ouster matrix' came from unknown number)

    Though the matrix was "false," Vera Files president Ellen Tordesillas said that they could not just sit back as the allegations showed how far the Duterte administration could go just to harass them.

    ‘Yung imagination nila hindi ko alam kung anong limit.... Wala na e. It’s not based on reason.... Hindi ko alam kung hanggang saan, kung anong next ( I don't know the limits of their imagination.... It's gone. It's not based on reason.... I don't know how far they can go what's next),” she said.

    The so-called matrix linked the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) to media groups like Rappler, Vera Files, and the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism in a supposed plot to oust the President.

    Tordesillas said the Duterte administration's actions threatened democracy.

    "Ang alam kasi namin, hindi sila hihinto. Ano ang objective nila? They will not stop until they will destroy democracy. Papatayin nila ang demokrasya kaya anyone who helps in strengthening democracy, which reveals what we’re doing, sisirain nila kasi media is one of the pillars of democracy," she said.

    (What we know is that they won't stop. What's their objective?  They will not stop until they will destroy democracy. They will destroy democracy because anyone who helps in strengthening, which reveals what we're doing, they will destroy this because media is one of the pillars of democracy.)

    Tordesillas added: "Media can only thrive in a democracy. There is no democracy if there is no freedom of the press kaya kailangan nilang patayin ‘yung malayang pamamahayag (so they have to kill press freedom)."

    'Astroturfing'

    NUPL Secretary-General  Ephraim Corte said that the temerity of the President’s office to peddle an “obvious lie” demonstrated the Duterte administration’s lack of respect for the rule of law, and demonstrated what it could do to its critics.

    Cortez said that when Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo confirmed the plot, he made an official announcement and accused those included in the “matrix” of wrongdoing. (READ: Lawyers score SC victories vs army harassment, West PH Sea neglect)

    “This is very dangerous. A presidential pronouncement, whether directly from the President himself or through his spokesperson, or through any of his alter egos are statements regarding official actions or directives that are required to be implemented,” he said.

    Cortez added that the supposed ouster plot was not a laughing matter because of the serious implications to the security, liberty, and even the life of those in the matrix.

    During the forum, Rappler CEO and executive editor Maria Ressa mentioned “astroturfing" as she tackled the serious implications of the matrix.

    Merriam-Webster.com defines astroturfing as an organized activity "intended to create a false impression of a widespread, spontaneously arising, grassroots movement in support of or in opposition to something (such as a political policy) but that is in reality initiated and controlled by a concealed group or organization (such as a corporation)."

    Ressa said Manila Times owner and publisher Dante Ang "seeded" the astroturf by publishing the story in his paper, prompting the resignation of its managing editor, Felipe Salvosa II. She said that while Salvosa's resignation showed cracks in the allegation, the matrix had been echoed on social media.

    "I’ll use the term astroturfing. This means fake grass, so you know you put all these fake ideas in it, you count it ‘til it looks real and it creates a bandwagon effect and convinces other people who are looking, or reading, or listening that that’s the truth. So if you say a lie a million times, it becomes the truth in the age of social media. That’s the reality," Ressa said.

    Red-tagging

    Given the continuous threats to media and rights groups, UP Faculty Regent Ramon Guillermo aired his concern over the red-tagging of academic institutions and professionals.

    Guillermo cited the military's claim of a supposed “Red October” plot wherein communist rebels were supposedly recruiting students in 10 universities for their alleged plan to oust Duterte. He also mentioned the red-tagging and profiling of the members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers.

    He also cited the case of Sociology professor Arnol Alamon who was accused several times on social media of being a communist propagandist.

    "That red-tagging, some say it’s just an objective classification of individuals, but you can see today that it’s a very dangerous thing that once it happens, then other things can happen in this way,” he said.

    Guillermo said that given the pattern of the Duterte administration to “mount massive fake news, disinformation, and vilification” against its critics, the question now was how can institutions and individuals protect themselves, and protect press freedom and academic freedom as well?

    "I think, ang trabaho ng ating Unibersidad ngayon (what our university has to do now is), we have to show the Filipino people that we’re relevant to them, that we perform an important function in Philippine society. So that we can win over the people to defend our democracy, our civil liberties, with us," he said. – Rappler.com


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