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Sisters give free water to stranded EDSA commuters during INC rally


SISTERS ACT. A Facebook post showing sisters Ela and Frances Faith Florendo giving free water to stranded commuters during the INC rally inspire netizens. All photos courtesy of Alice Sanchez

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Like many other stranded commuters, sisters Ela and Frances Florendo complained about the heavy traffic caused by the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) rally on EDSA from the evening of August 28 afternoon to morning of August 31. (READ: INC protesters anger commuters, stranded motorists)

INC members – about 5,000, according to the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) – flocked to EDSA near the historic People Power shrine Friday to continue their protest of the government’s supposed “meddling” with internal issues of the 101-year-old church. Authorities estimated that crowd numbers peaked at about 20,000 on Sunday night.

"The traffic and inconvenience that this event caused was so terrible,” Ela said in a Facebook post.

"My sister and I didn't experience commuting in that kind of situation. We couldn't do anything about the traffic," she told Rappler in an online interview.

Ela, 20, and her sister Frances, 16, did something else instead of ranting about the situation. 

Sea of protesters

Ela said her sister Frances Faith floated the idea of giving out free water to commuters who were walking to their destinations.

"At first I just laughed at her idea about giving free water, but then I realized: 'Why not?' Everyone in our household helped us with this. Our driver, house helper, and titas. Even the guards of our building helped us distribute water. This was a really humbling experience," Ela told Rappler.

ACT OF KINDNESS. The sisters’ act gain praises from relatives and netizens

According to Ela, they pitied the strangers, some of whom had been walking for 4 hours just to reach home. They also saw how other commuters were exhausted, trapped in a sea of protesters that blocked part of EDSA.

“There were also kids walking with their parents. We saw how badly they needed water,” Ela said.

Women and men for others

The sisters’ act gained praises from relatives and netizens.

"Dad and mom are so proud of you guys! We thank God to have raised you to be men and women for others! We love you!” her mother Ester commented.

The Florendo sisters studied at  Ela is in her 4th year at Mapúa Institute of Technology, while her sister is in her first year at the Ateneo de Manila University.

Inspired by the Florendos, many Facebook users posted messages for the sisters:

"Wow! Amazing! Faith in humanity restored!"

"Little acts of kindness will go a long way!” 

"Something positive after a weekend of rant and sarcasm. I hope that you continue helping others."

One commenter joked: "Wala daw ba biscuit?" (Any biscuits to go with it?)

Ela quipped: "Tubig lang keri. Hahahaha! At least with ice yun." (We could only afford water. But at least it had ice). – Rappler.com

A prayer for climate


  Today, September 1, is marked by the Catholic church as the World Day of Prayer for the Care of our Common Home. Although it has been done by the church since 1989, this year may be more significant as we await for the Conference of Parties (COP) 21 which will happen in Paris in December and which will decide the fate of the planet. (READ: What's happening in Paris in December? 10 things to know)

The Philippines, a predominantly Catholic country, welcomed Pope Francis when he visited the country earlier this year. Thousands of people lined up on the streets, braving the rain. Some even flew from far provinces to Manila, if only to see the pope for a few seconds.

We have always taken pride in our religion. We attend mass every Sunday, take communion, do charity work. We make sure our children pray every night, know the mysteries of the rosary, remind them that guardian angels watch over them.

This is the effect of religion deeply embedded in our culture. Our religion becomes our law, our way of life. We have always hinged our lives on our being Catholics. Our weeks are measured by the number of times we go to church, our hours by the prayers we say, our lives by the number of sacraments we receive.

And now, with the encyclical "Laudato Si" written by Pope Francis, how prepared are we, the Philippines, the largest Catholic country in Asia, to take on the challenge the Pope has given to us?

Laudato Si's challenges 

CARE FOR ENVIRONMENT. Pope Francis puts emphasis on care for the common home in his encyclical issued a few months ago titled "Laudato Si'.

I say challenge because there are many things in the encyclical which we have yet to address as a country. For example, one issue Pope Francis addresses in his encyclical is fossil fuel and renewable energy.

He says, "there is an urgent need to develop policies so that, in the next few years, the emissions of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gases can be drastically reduced, for example, substituting for fossil fuels, and developing sources of renewable energy." (READ: IN QUOTES: What Pope Francis says about climate change

Currently, the Philippines has been approving coal power plants left and right, with more than 50 already approved to be built in the next few years. Surely this is not caring for our common home. (READ: The repeat of Genesis: On climate change and renewable energy)

However, while the government has yet to prove it is sincere in its commitments in tackling climate change, some Filipinos are ready to take on the challenge, together with other Catholics and people from different faiths, as they embark on a journey from Rome to Paris in a call for climate justice.

Climate Pilgrimage 

The Climate Pilgrimage is a continuation of the Climate Walk, which was led by then climate change commissioner Naderev Yeb Sano together with walkers from different organizations. The walk started from Manila (kilometer zero) to Tacloban (ground zero) and commemorated the anniversary of Super Typhoon Yolanda.

Throughout the walk, the team stopped to hold climate tours, which educated vulnerable communities about climate change and its impacts. The Climate walk also sought pledges from local government officials to make climate adaptation one of their priorities. (READ: Advocates end 1,000-km Climate Walk at Yolanda ground zero)

This year, as countries are preparing to sign a legally binding agreement in Paris, the walk will continue on a pilgrimage, a show of solidarity and force of different religions coming together to make a stand for people and planet.

"We will come together because the issue of climate change encompasses all religions. This is not just an issue that should be addressed by Catholics but by everyone whose faith believes in the care of the planet," Nitya Saulo, one of the walkers of the Climate Walk who will join the pilgrimage in Paris, said.

"As a Filipino, I will do this journey for my countrymen who have suffered and are suffering from climate change impacts. We seek justice for them," Saulo added.

Naderev Saño will again be leading the pilgrimage this year. "This journey is intended as a reminder to the whole world that the climate crisis is real, affecting lives and livelihoods, and scarring our aspirations for a better future," he said.

Today, as climate talks are currently happening in Bonn in preparation for Paris, whatever our faith may be, whoever we believe in, let us all say a prayer for every person affected by climate change and its impacts, for every negotiator to act on behalf of every person in his/her country, and for every country to sincerely commit to tackling climate change.

After all, as Pope Francis said in Laudato Si, "The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all." - Rappler.com

Renee Juliene Karunungan, 25, is the Advocacy Director of Dakila. Dakila has been campaigning for climate justice since 2009. She is also a climate tracker for Adopt A Negotiator.

Climate advocates launch 'Road to Paris' caravan


MANILA, Philippines – Climate advocates led by The Climate Reality Project (CRP), a global movement founded by Nobel Laureate and former US Vice President Al Gore, launched a Philippine-wide climate caravan to raise awareness on the importance of collective action to address climate change.

Dubbed as "Road to Paris," the climate caravan focuses on the roles of the Filipino youth and local government units (LGUs) to galvanise community climate action.

In partnership with Dakila - Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism, the campaign also aims to gather grassroots support to encourage world leaders to come up with a strong and definitive climate agreement in Paris during the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) on December.

'Bakit, Bakit Hindi?'

“Bakit, Bakit Hindi?" is an adaptation of CRP’s Why? Why Not? Initiative in 2014, which is mainly a social media campaign aiming to bring forward the Filipino youth as catalyzers of collective action in the lead-up to the Paris Climate negotiations,” said CRP country manager Rodne Galicha.

In this campaign, young people will be given the opportunity to ask probing questions to government officials, Philippine negotiators, and environmental agencies such as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Climate Change Commission through 30-second videos. 

“These videos will be utilized to stimulate discourse via social media over the next few months, especially during our nationwide climate caravan, where climate volunteers will hold dialogues with LGUs, vulnerable communities such as indigenous groups, women and children, as well as youth representatives from all regions nationwide," Galicha said.

He added: "We, therefore, encourage LGUs and their respective councils to issue resolutions in behalf of their people to call on world leaders to sign a strong and bold climate agreement."

The Philippines' role on the global debate

The Philippine campaign specifically aims to strengthen the country’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) lobby for gradual but sustained phase-out of coal-fired power plants and the implementation of the People’s Survival Fund. It also emphasizes the rights-based approach to the climate crisis issue by putting the concerns of the most vulnerable communities including indigenous groups, women, and the youth.

“The Road to Paris initiative aims to gather millions of signatures from all over the world urging parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to finalize a bold climate agreement," said Don Henry, Public Policy Fellow at the University of Melbourne and member of the international Board of CRP.

"We’re working in 8 pivotal countries – Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, the Philippines, South Africa, and the United States – to rally millions to support practical climate solutions like renewable energy and tip the balance for a successful agreement in Paris,” Henry said.

As special envoy of CRP’s founder Al Gore, Henry explained that the Road to Paris campaign is uniting citizens, corporations, and organizations on every continent to demand a strong agreement at COP21 that will dramatically cut emissions and accelerate the planet-wide shift to clean energy.

 “The Philippines has a unique opportunity to be a leader at home and on the world stage with tackling the climate crisis. Having a ‘green development path’ that builds jobs and innovation in renewable energy and adaptation to climate change is a great opportunity for the Philippines," he said.

Henry added: "This can help reduce greenhouse pollution and grow jobs. The Philippines can play a global leadership role at the international climate negotiations in Paris. Already, the Philippines voice has been persuasive. The country can urge all countries to act to achieve a strong international climate agreement."

Joining CRP’s campaign for a strong climate agreement is United Nations Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Champion Senator Loren B. Legarda, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Climate Change and principal author of the Climate Change Act and the People’s Survival Fund Act.

“Our country’s INDC should reflect a strong stance towards deep cuts in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as a way to mitigate climate change. It is unfortunate, however, that we continue to witness coal plants being constructed. In the past 5 years alone, 21 coal-fired power plant projects were granted an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC),” said Legarda.

Rights-based climate action

Representing the indigenous peoples of the country, Representative Teddy Baguilat of the lone district of Ifugao emphasized the challenge of the climate crisis to the resiliency of the indigenous knowledge, systems and practices.

“Our indigenous peoples have survived through the years. Positively, our traditional way of life assures us of our resolve to continually adapt to the changing patterns of the climate. We may be affected by this ecological crisis but our contribution to humanity to solve it has been consistent while we live in harmony with nature,” said Baguilat.

Asserting the need to rethink development models which harm the environment, Baguilat said that pending bills on land use, mining and forestry, must be approved immediately to help reduce the ill-effects of climate change.

Climate Reality Project volunteer since 2009, lawyer Persida Rueda-Acosta, the country's Public Attorney’s Office chief, emphasized that rights-based approach to climate action "must be practiced and age-specific requirements met in conducting disaster relief."

“Women, children and even the elderly become even more vulnerable in times of disasters. They suffer the brunt of natural calamities. During these times, authorities must be vigilant in the protection of their rights especially that of women and children who are prone to human trafficking," said Acosta. 

The launch of the Climate Reality Project's "Bakit, Bakit Pa?" campaign coincided with this week's COP 21 Bonn intersessional talks and the Catholic Church's World Day of Prayer for the Care of our Common Home. – Rappler.com 

How mining continuously rapes nature


The Philippine Mining Act of 1995 states that only Filipinos or 60% Filipino-owned corporations can engage in the mining business. However, a Chinese named Joseph Sy is the registered owner of Platinum Group Metals Corporation (PGMC). 

Sy seemed to have played around the law and efforts to regulate the impact of mining and to protect national patrimony.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has filed criminal charges against Sy, a director of the influential Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industries (PCCI), before the Department of Justice (DOJ) in June 2015. The charges include falsification of public documents, violation of the Philippine Passport Act, and violation of the anti-dummy law.

Meanwhile, while PGMC enjoys large profits, the residents of Claver continue to suffer and endure the effects of the mining operations which deposited heavy siltation on their shorelines. Moreover, due to open pit mining, mountains have been leveled and deforested.

The PGMC mining site in Cagdianao, Claver, Surigao Del Norte, posted a production increase of more than tenfold in just 5 years. In 2007, it delivered a volume of less than 500,000 wet metric tons. And in 2012, it shipped 5.9 million wet metric tons.

TO DUST. Trees in a critical watershed were cut to make way for a mining operation in Mindanao. File photo by Pia Ranada/Rappler

Economic growth vs environmental degradation 

The contribution of mining to the 2014 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was only 0.07% or P138.6 billion. Not even this amount and the mining industry's promises of strategic economic growth and employment can compensate the value of the destruction done to the environment. (READ: Mining in Caraga: Holding on to an Empty Promise)

Extractive activities like mining are one of the driving factors of climate change and disasters. Small particles released during mining operations, among other factors, contribute to global warming and the depletion of the ozone layer. 

Elementary science taught us that forests absorb carbon dioxide. Meanwhile, massive deforestation due to large scale mining – by scrapping and open-pit operations – aggravates global warming and greenhouse effect. This is because of the large amounts of emitted gas that are no longer absorbed by Earth’s supposedly natural cooling band and carbon sinks: rain forests and the ocean body.

There are about 17% of greenhouse gases produced every time our forests are denuded. It is important to take note that 20% of greenhouse gas emissions are due to deforestation. Fossil fuel emissions from cars and industrial factories in urban areas escape to the atmosphere without the cooling band that traps and stores it. These cooling bands are our forests.

Mining in good faith

The PGMC experience tells us that we cannot just trust companies to faithfully comply with the processes required under the principles of sustainable development. Studies show that large volumes of mineral extractions result in the destruction of the environmentand ecological balance. 

Although variations exist, "sustainable development" is most commonly defined as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. 

Mining as espoused by the Philippine Chamber of Mines was drawn from the “best practices” of different countries' mining operations. It abides by the principle of sustainable development.

Sustainable development is an attempt to link the environment with development. Compliance with environmental laws is the most important tool in achieving sustainability. It requires communities to participate in the process of fulfilling and providing the needs of humankind equitably without destroying nature.

If this is how we are going to define sustainable development, then we can assert that it is nothing more but a myth that mining companies want us to believe.

Community welfare before profit

Anti-mining groups and advocates should call for a reevaluation and reinvestigation of mining operations in the country.

Community welfare must come before profit generation. The benefits of extracted mineral resources must be shared and enjoyed by the mining company and the people. 

Prior to the issuance of mining permits, communities in the area must be involved. PGMC, for instance, should have conducted people’s consultation as a prerequisite to the application of permits and licenses. 

Groups must go to the office of the Chairman of the House Committee on Environment to halt mining operations in Claver, Surigao. There should be mass mobilizations done at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), condemning the continued violations of our environmental laws. 

Permits and licenses have long expired, yet the indiscriminate cutting of trees continues. The abuse of the environment by these parties must be stopped. – Rappler.com

Ruelie Rapsing is the media officer of the activist group Alab Katipunan. He has been an advocate of the protection of the environment and climate justice. 


White house honors undocumented Filipino teacher


'CHANGE CHAMPION'. Undocumented Filipino teacher with Teach for America Jaime Ballesteros is honored by the White House and the city of Los Angeles, USA. Photo from Facebook

MANILA, Philippines – Jaime Ballesteros is a Filipino teacher with Teach for America, an organization that places college graduates to teach in public schools in low-income areas across the United States for at least 2 years.

According a story in the Filipino American newspaper the Asian Journal, he was honored by the White House as a "champion of change" for his experience in teaching.

Originally from Bacolod City, Ballesteros moved to New Jersey when he was 11.

His father moved to the US after getting a temporary visa for an accounting job. “But overnight, my family became undocumented,” Ballesteros told the Asian Journal. 

Fortunately, he was able to apply for the special Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The program was first offered to undocumented children under the administration of President Barack Obama.

Ballesteros is a graduate of Drew University, a college in New Jersey where he majored in history with a minor in chemistry. After graduating, he joined Teach for America when they began looking for teachers under DACA.

“This event honored 9 young leaders in the field of education that are also DACA recipients, who have been strong role models for students and families, as well as change agents within their communities,” the White House said in a statement.

“This is a such a big honor for me, especially just moving to LA and just starting my second year in teaching,” he told Asian Journal.

Read the full story from Asian Journal here. – Rappler.com 


MILF backs RH services in Bangsamoro


ENLIGHTENMENT. The partnership between the Bangsamoro Development Agency and the United Nations Population Fund is a step towards enlightenment of the region when it comes to family planning.

MANILA, Philippines – The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fully supports the delivery of reproductive health services to women in Bangsamoro communities, especially in conflict areas. 

“This is a very good move because it will enlighten and will give the right information to our people regarding reproductive health,” said MILF chief Al Haj Murad during the signing of the agreement between the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

The partnership aims to improve the delivery of reproductive health services – especially maternal and infant care – to residents in conflict areas.

According to Murad, UNFPA’s close coordination with Muslim Religious Leaders (MRLs) in Mindanao will provide a better contextualization of family planning in relation to Islam. Family planning is often misunderstood due to lack of information, he said.

“While reproductive health is very much welcome as far as MILF is concerned, there are biases against family planning among the Muslim population because of issues that are not fairly addressed,” Murad explained.

Under this collaboration and the campaign “Ligtas Buntis,” maternal care (pre and post pregnancy) and family planning services will be made available in 10 major MILF camps.

UNFPA will develop an existing health center at Camp Darapanan to become a birthing center for women in nearby communities. This center will serve as a model for rolling out these services in other areas.

Health personnel will also be trained on basic emergency obstetric and newborn care.

Decades of conflict have stunted the region's growth. It has the highest proportion of families living below the poverty line in the country at 47%.

The Aquino administration has signed a peace deal with the MILF aimed at ending the conflict and speeding up development. Congress is deliberating the proposed Bangsamoro Basic law that will implement the peace deal. 

The reproductive health law is also one of the government's major policy achievements during its term. The Catholic Church vigorously opposed it, which makes the MILF's support for it significant. – Rappler.com

What to do when you find missing kids


MANILA, Philippines - A photo of two girls who were allegedly found in Barangay Camias in San Miguel town in Bulacan is making the rounds online.

Based on a viral Facebook post by Michael JB Santos, the two children are from Quezon City but ended up in Bulacan. It is not yet clear how the children were found.

Santos identified one of the girls as Ruth Anne Bonotano, 6, who was with her younger cousin.

“Please help these two angels get home. They’re missing…They were sent to our home by some good samaritans this afternoon,” Santos posted on Monday, August 31.

The girls, according to the post, are currently in the custody of Melvin Santos, barangay captain (village chief) of Camias. 

“They are in good condition. Please contact Captain Melvin Santos at 09352492922,” the post added.

What are the appropriate steps to take when you find missing kids? 

1. File a blotter

According to Erlinda Agila, planning officer for the Council for Welfare of Children (CWC), an attached agency of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the first thing to do is to file a blotter or report in the nearest police station or barangay office where the kids are found. 

“The first thing most parents who lose their kids do is to file a report with the barangay or the Philippine National Police (PNP). That’s what you should do when you find missing kids so the response can be coordinated,” Agila said.

A blotter is not a complaint but a formal report or record of activity to authorities that may or may not be related to crimes. 

2. Turn over to DSWD

After filing a report, Agila added, people who found the kids need to turn them over to the nearest DSWD office.

“Since they are not the kids’ relatives or legal guardians, they need to turn over the custody to the nearest social welfare office - in the case of the viral photo, San Miguel town’s social welfare office,” Agila said.

She added, “This is for the safety of the kids and those who found them. The kids need to have the proper and legal supervision. The finders need to turn them over so they won’t be suspected of kidnapping the kids.” 

Agila maintained that it is illegal for finders to keep the children in their custody regardless of their motives.

3. Also alert Patrol 117

While the government still has no hotlines that parents who lose their children can call, Agila said the response can also be coordinated with the nationwide emergency hotline number 117.

“Our communities are relatively small, so once we file a formal report, it would be easy to coordinate response to missing kids,” Agila added. 

Michael and the barangay captain have yet to respond to MovePH's request for more information about the situation of the children. – With a report from David Lozada/Rappler.com

Urban poor's #TheLeaderIWant: Consult, listen, deliver


HELP END POVERTY. Urban poor call for the next leader to deliver what exactly they need. File photo by Francis R. Malasig/EPA

MANILA, Philippines – Urban poor community leaders Milagros Bendeho and Paz Seming have seen anti-poverty projects both fail and succeed in Caloocan City throughout their more than two decades of service.

One of them, Bendeho said, are the housing projects of the National Housing Authority (NHA). The absence of opportunities in relocation areas, she said, puts residents in harsh conditions or gives them no choice but to leave instead of improving their lives. (READ: Hungry homes in resettlement areas)

Tayo nang tayo ng bahay pero wala naman tao kasi umaalis sila,” she told Rappler. “Paano kasi, iyong mga kailangan nila sa buhay tulad ng trabaho, eskwelahan, at ospital, wala sa lugar na iyon.”

(They always build houses but there are no people because they leave. The places they’re relocated to lack the basic necessities in life such as work, schools, and hospitals.)

They sometimes resort to debts just to make ends meet while household heads stay in Metro Manila to work – only to seldom go back to their families so they can save the money intended for transportation fare. (READ: Families under Quirino bridge strive to survive)

People’s proposal

Having sustainable cities and communities and ending poverty are part of the Global Goals which the Philippines, as part of the United Nations, will strive to achieve by 2030.

Both Bendeho and Paz believe that communities can get out of the poverty trap if their exact needs are met. The next president, they said, should lend his ears to the poorest communities in the Philippines. (READ: Where is money to fight poverty going?)

Paz and Bendeho, together with the urban poor communities of Caloocan, said a person who will push for the improvement of the lives of poor Filipinos through effective, inclusive, and consultative projects and programs is the leader they want.

The two mothers, who also double as parent-volunteers for a community-based non-governmental organization (NGO), have long been involved in elevating issues and needs of their areas to the government as part of Kilos Maralita, an organization composed of urban poor groups.

When it comes to informal settlers, what they want themselves is to be involved in planning and implementing these housing projects. According to Seming, the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo’s approach to affordable housing worked.

Importante maisama sa plano kung ano talaga ang kailangan,” Paz said. “Dapat malapit ang mga bagay na makakatulong para maiahon sa hirap ang buhay ng mga tao.”

(It is important that what’s needed is included in the plan. Things that can help poor people improve their lives should be accessible.)

LEADER. Milagros Bendahon (in yellow shirt) listens to a community member during a workshop. Photo by Jodesz Gavilan

Under this initiative in 2011, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Social Housing Financial Corporation (SHFC) encouraged a participatory relocation process. A group composed of NGOs and members of communities were tasked to identify sites based on the needs of informal settlers.

Bendeho said they were consulted through a “People’s Proposal” where they highlight what they need to improve their lives.

Almost 546 families in Bendeho and Paz’s community were able to benefit from a condo-type housing project built on a 1.5 hectare land. This new home isn’t far from their former settlement and most importantly, from their livelihood and education.

Aside from shelter, Paz said that former informal settlers went through seminars and trainings on livelihood and attitude development to jumpstart their progress.

Binabago ang behavior nila para walang basagulero at binibigyan ng oportunidad,” she emphasized. “Kapag nabigyan ka na ng bahay, simula na ito ng pagbabago.

(Their behavior is changed so there are no trouble-makers and they’re given opportunities. Once you’re given a house, it’s the start of change.)

Fighting for their needs

There are still an estimated 523 families awaiting resettlement from their area. Paz and Bendeho hope they will be given the same opportunities like the first batch.

The uncertainty roots from alleged mishandling. In January 2014, Maralita questioned the SHFC – which Vice President Jejomar Binay chaired while he led the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) – over pending projects stemming from People’s Proposals.  

Community leaders of Caloocan and all of Maralita want the project to be implemented properly and to eventually benefit all of the poor in the Philippines. If it cannot be done, the high involvement and participation of poor communities should then be assured in the drawing up of projects intended to benefit them.

Sinusulong namin ito kasi naaawa naman kami sa mga kapwa naming mahihirap na Pilipino (We fight for this because we pity our fellow poor Filipinos,” Paz said.

Bendeho added, “Hindi naman maayos na sariling bayan natin tapos wala tayong sariling lupa o tirahan. (It’s not right that we don’t have our own land or home in our own country.)” – Rappler.com

Group urges gov't to act on food insecurity amid economic 'growth'


HUNGER DESPITE GROWTH. A development group urges the government to improve efforts against hunger and malnutrition in the Philippines.

MANILA, Philippines – The government should “step up” its efforts in addressing food insecurity in the Philippines amidst an “improving economy,” the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) said on Tuesday, September 1.

In 2014, the economy grew by 6.1% yet poverty incidence registered at 25.8% in the first semester. Meanwhile, the latest Social Weather Stations survey found that 12.7% of Filipino families went hungry despite a 5.6% increase in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) during the 2nd quarter of 2015.

“Indeed, the challenge to cascade the benefits of economic development to the great majority of the people remains huge. Recent economic growth has not translated to improved conditions on the ground,” the group said in a statement. “As the wealth of a few grows, the stomach of the many continues to growl.”

The group added that the inclusive growth the Philippines longs for means that no one gets left behind – in terms of development and having adequate food on the table.

Improving the fight

The Food and Agricultural Organization defines food security as: “when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.”

To achieve this, the government should improve its handling of problems in both policy and implementation aspects. This way, growth can be felt by all sectors.

The group also urged Congress to prioritize the enactment of bills and proposals that seek to “reform the bureaucracy in the food security sector, mitigate vulnerabilities and address threats to food security such as climate change and armed conflict, and close the widening inequality that compromises people’s access to food.”

Relevant agencies, PLCPD said, should enhance coordination in ensuring existing policies and programs aimed at addressing food insecurity are properly implemented.

Approximately 17.5 million Filipinos are still undernourished while 19% of the whole population live under a daily budget of less than P50 ($1.25), the 2015 Regional Overview of Food Insecurity in Asia and the Pacific reported. It added that the country wasn’t able to achieve the target of halving the number of undernourished people by 2015 due to “slow progress.”

Meanwhile, the 2015 Global Food Security Index rated the existing efforts to reverse food insecurity as “moderate” with the Philippines ranking 72nd out of 109 countries.

For a brighter future

The benefits of investing in efforts to achieve food security and proper nutrition go beyond individuals.

By fighting harder against the problems of hunger and malnutrition, the future of the whole country – not just individuals – will look brighter.  

“Food and nutrition security hold the key to a brighter tomorrow,” PLCPD stressed. “It is our duty to make it a reality today.” – Rappler.com

Stop calling Grace Poe a 'foundling': Drop the 'F' word


How would you feel if someone reminded you over and over about a sad time in your life you yourself would rather forget?

Not so good, that’s for sure.

Most people would prefer to put the matter behind them, especially if they continue to suffer the effects of the tragedy. Those who have healed and been transformed might use that misfortune to inspire them to greater heights. Overcoming tragedy is a long process that's never easy.

Having been abandoned by your birth parents is the kind of beginning better left in the past, even if the site they had chosen to leave you was a church and the ensuing consequences paved a life of privilege for you. (WATCH: Grace Poe cries as she talks about her parents, adoption

It’s one thing to have been left unprotected to the elements and it’s another to be swaddled and placed at a sacred space in hopes of discovery by strangers who will care for you no less than if you were the product of their union. Either way, however, being reminded that your parents gave you up hurts.  

Why, then, should Philippine Senator Grace Poe constantly be referred to as a “foundling?"
File photo by Edwin Espejo/Rappler

It’s bad enough that she is constantly described as an “adopted” child but to keep emphasizing the circumstances that united her and her parents is beyond my comprehension.

 I’m appalled by my colleagues in the Philippines who fire the term repeatedly, apparently  giving little thought to its meaning.

OK, so there’s a Foundling Museum in London, repository of relics from the eponymous hospital established in the 1800s for "the maintenance and education of exposed and deserted young children."  The name has since been dropped and the hospital trust replaced by the Coram Family Foundation.

But even then, the term connoted immorality because the referenced children often were born of infidelity or prostitution.

Poe’s biological parentage is none of others' business, but her enemies refuse to let the matter rest.  

Why can't they recognize Philippine film icons Susan Roces and the late Fernando Poe Jr as her parents?  Must they keep calling them her "adoptive" parents 40-some years later?  

I met the then-adolescent future legislator and the movie star at a photo shoot decades ago at their home in Greenhills, San Juan, and saw more affection between the two than I've witnessed in other families. They are mother and daughter. 

Poe's enemies today can’t seem to dig up dirt on her so they nag about her origin as if her biological parents' actions makes her less deserving of public trust.

The term they use always bore a negative connotation.  It's almost synonymous to unwanted, discarded, unacceptable, impostor.  It is beyond unnecessary: It is intrusive and derogatory.   

I can see why Poe's political rivals insist on using it but seeing it in news reports gives me pause.

Is it novel and does its "newness" outweigh its offensiveness?  

Perhaps usage in a country where English is not the first language mitigates its impact? For the same reason that the English slang for feces and fornication spout so freely where the Tagalog version never sees print or space?

Would editors delete "napulot" or the Tagalog translation if the article were in Filipino?  

The term is archaic.  It's not even found in the AP Style Book and Libel Manual, the journalism bible.  

 AP, the world's largest news-service organization whose style guide is universally adopted, dropped use of "Oriental" to describe people from Asia because of the negative stereotypes attached to the term in the United States.  Early in the previous century, the term "Oriental" connoted strange, sly. and  dirty.  AP sanctions the term today to describe objects ("oriental rugs") but not people.

In 2013, AP stopped sanctioning use of "illegal immigrant" and "undocumented immigrant" in reference to those residing in the United States without appropriate or legal authorization.  AP allows use of  "illegal" for the action (as in illegal immigration)but not for persons.

Similarly AP also dropped the use of "schizophrenic" and other psychiatry-related terms for people with the condition.  The organization sanctions "people with schizophrenia" instead.

The idea is to end the use of labels.

“We’re trying to put the emphasis not on describing people but on describing actions or situations that they are in,” AP standards editor Tom Kent explained to TIME.  

The ban on the old terms  “fits in with our own ethic on labeling,” Kent said. “We want to some degree reflect the evolution of society.”

Here's a challenge to my colleagues in Manila: Let's evolve together.  – Rappler.com  

Cherie M Querol Moreno is a keen observer of the evolving Filipino American community in the San Francisco Bay Area, subject of her 30 years of reporting for and editing Filipino-American publications. She founded and directs the family violence prevention nonprofit ALLICE Alliance for Community Empowerment and sits on the San Mateo County Commission on Aging. 'Unbound' is her long-running column which will now be published regularly on Rappler.

Antique town trains barangay emergency responders


Barangay officials conduct water search and rescue operations as part of the annual Rescue Olympics. All photos by the San Jose MDRRMO

ANTIQUE, Philippines – For the 4th year in a row, this first-class municipality and capital town of the Antique province San Jose de Buenavista held its annual Rescue Olympics on July 30 – 31, 2015 at the Binirayan Sports Complex. 

The activity aims to refresh the knowledge and skills of barangay-based emergency responders on performing emergency response and rescue operations including the use of personal protective equipment and emergency tools. 

With the forthcoming 2nd anniversary of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), the different municipalities are preparing for even stronger typhoons and natural disasters. 

Antique has 18 municipalities, of which 14 are coastal, 1 island and 3 inland. Yolanda devastated the province on November 8, 2013, dealing irreparable damage to the northern municipalities of Antique.

Lessons from Yolanda

Due to the destruction incurred during the onslaught of Yolanda, the LGUs are investing their 70% preparedness budget of their disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) fund in stockpiling resources, purchasing equipment, building stronger and quality evacuation centers, and more importantly, capacitating the people to be more prepared.

According to the San Jose de Buenavista Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDDRMO), the town is exposed to various natural and man-made hazards like typhoons, earthquakes, tsunami and fire. 

Because of these, the town has organized barangay emergency responders to encourage community – based disaster management. These responders were trained in basic life support and first aid, water search and rescue (WASAR), fire fighting, and other essential skills. 

There is a tendency, however, that responders might forget these skills if not put into practice. To ensure the continuity and the sustainability of the skills acquired through the various trainings, the San Jose MDRRMO came up with the Emergency Responders Refresher Training or otherwise known as the Rescue Olympics.

This is an annual event held every July since 2012.

“This is meant to test the capacity of the barangay-based emergency responders and at the same time refresh their knowledge and skills,” Fe Corazon Malaya S. Tacogdoy, MDRRM Officer II, said.

Out of the 28 barangays of San Jose de Buenavista, 27 were able to participate and were divided into 8 clusters:

  • Cluster 1 - Barangays 8, Maybato North, Maybato South, and Bariri
  • Cluster 2 - Barangays 4, Malaiba, and San Angel.
  • Cluster 3 – Barangays Supa, Badiang, and San Fernando.
  • Cluster 4 - Barangays 1, Inabasan, Bugarot, and Cansadan.
  • Cluster 5 - Barangays 2, 3, 5, and 6.
  • Cluster 6 – Barangays San Pedro, Durog, and Pantao.
  • Cluster 7 is composed of barangays Mojon, Magcalon, and Igbonglo.
  • Cluster 8 - Barangays Atabay, Madrangca, and Funda-Dalipe.

“Majority of the barangays were receptive when this concept was first presented to them. This is an inter-barangay event so it is exciting. The barangay also have bragging rights when they win,” Tacogdoy said.

“The Rescue Olympics is not compulsory and we do not force the barangays to join. Last year, they were (all) able to participate,” she added. 

Rescue Olympics

Aside from emergency and rescue operations, responders also compete in team building activities to build their camaraderie.

The 27 barangays competed in the following events/contest: Knot Tying, Bandaging, Cardio-Pulmonary Response (CPR), Vehicle Accident Extrication, WASAR, and Fire fighting.

The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) served as judges in the firefighting contest. The 5052nd squadron and the Philippine Air Force (PAF) judged the rescue-related activities while the rest of the events were adjudged by the staff of the MDRRMO and the Provincial DRRMO (PDRRMO).

This year, hard hats with waterproof LED flashlights were given out as prizes. In the first year of the program, the prizes were first aid kits and spine boards.

According to Tacogdoy, the MDRRMO is expecting the barangay responders to “be able to demonstrate the knowledge and skills they were taught.” – Rappler.com

'Sayang' Poe: Grace and the INC


A friend told me that hope simply means disappointment after disappointment. I smirked at the thought as untrue, and yet, I cannot ignore the negative feeling I felt upon hearing Senator Grace Poe’s defense of Iglesia ni Cristo members who rallied against Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and inconvenienced needlessly the already overstressed Manila commuters in a horrible traffic jam.

What was she thinking? Why did she do that? I thought she’s a breath of fresh air in the muggy world of Philippine traditional politics polluted by unbridled opportunism and self-aggrandizement.

Ka Arnel joins the INC supporters on the flyover across EDSA Shrine while the crowd cheers.

I was glad that she might consider running for the top position and I had high hopes for her as an alternative to Vice President Jejomar Binay. But she dashed my hopes. I could not believe what I just heard from her utterances regarding the INC’s protest. She sounded just like the guy that I don’t wish to be president!

Unfortunately, I am not alone in my disbelief – many of my friends too, both in social media and the academe. And the more she wiggles herself out of this controversy, the more she sinks. There is no other way to get out of this political quicksand. And why is that?

Her remarks represent the defining moment of the breadth of her political substance and style. By all indication, it exposed to me a failure of good sense and judgment. She’s no different from tradpols after all – her move in a crisis  smacks of the traditional and business-as-usual approach to politics. If she wants it to appear that it’s all about defending the right to assembly, she is injudicious. If she wants it to appear that it’s all about respecting religious faith, she is misguided.

Both in political substance and style, there is no amount of spin that can set right her exposed deficiencies as a good fit or presidential material, since she is wiling to sacrifice the grievance of the few against the overwhelming force of an abusive church council, and if she is willing to forego the fear and anxiety of the persecuted to please self-serving church leaders.

And she came into this fray huffing and puffing for the sake of potentially securing the INC’s preferential bloc voting? Didn’t she realize that the protest was not about religious freedom or about respecting religious faith at all? Didn’t she even realize that the aggrieved members were so scared for their lives that they filed an illegal detention case before the Department of Justice against the oppressive and clandestine INC governing church council?

I wish I didn’t have to say this but even without the controversy of her legal status, I now count her as one of the political opportunists beholden to a religious cult. More so, as a leader with no deeper sense of commitment to the principles and integrity of our institutions, particularly our legal institution.

Who is then left to lead us? Not Vice President Jejomar Binay. Damaged by almost a daily dose of exposés of corruption, his campaign is slowly crumbling under it’s own weight.

What about Secretary Mar Roxas? With both Grace and Jejomar slowly fading in the end, Mar will stand alone as a candidate to beat unless Mayor Rodrigo Duterte decides to run. Unfortunately, he is not running and he has no money to finance a national campaign.

Barring the negative effect of his allegedly detested wife Korina, Mar has an impregnable political capital of incumbency and kitty. I know he’s also been indiscriminately trying to pull in all groups of people and parties into his fold. Is it a good political strategy? Maybe it is. Maybe it is not. I am not so sure. I know in the last election he was in, he led against his opponent in the race until the finish line. Supporters dumped him in a hurry. I just hope that what his own party mate told me – “Hindi mananalo ‘yan (He won't win)” – will not become a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

If he doesn’t think this out carefully against a new emerging presidential opponent, it’ll be a classic case of Aesop’s “The Tortoise and the Hare” all over again. – Rappler.com 

Efren Padilla is a full-time professor at California State University, East Bay. His areas of specialization are urban sociology, urban planning, and social demography. During his quarter breaks, he provides pro bono planning consultancy to selected LGUs in the Philippines.














Coding is not the cure to Metro Manila traffic


Metro Manila has been under various forms of the Unified Vehicle Volume Reduction Program, more commonly known by the names “number coding,” “color coding,” or simply “coding” since 1995.

In 20 years since coding’s rollout, however, Metro Manila is still plagued by what seems to be an ever-increasing traffic. There are suggestions that the solution is to expand number coding further, returning to the previously used “odd-even” scheme.

However, before we increase our dosage of coding, we must ask – is this remedy for traffic actually working? Or, as with bygone medical treatments like lead therapy and lobotomies, is our coding policy doing more harm than good?

Empirical data on the effects of Metro Manila number coding is not readily available, but research exists on Mexico City’s Hoy no Circula scheme, the Mexican version of number coding which is mechanically identical to UVVRP.

Researchers Gunnar Eskeland and Tarhan Feyzioglu of the World Bank found that Mexicans responded to Hoy no Circula by buying more cars for the convenience of driving when their primary cars would otherwise be banned. Eskeland and Feyzioglu likened Hoy no Circula to creating a special “permit system,” where wealthier Mexicans are able to purchase “permits” to drive during ban hours in the form of a car with opposing license plates.

Moreover, many Mexicans ended up purchasing older, second-hand vehicles to gain the permit, which tended to be more polluting and less safe due to their age.

Importantly, Eskeland and Feyzioglu found that by increasing the number of cars, number coding in Mexico City had the effect of actually increasing driving which was the opposite of what was intended!

To illustrate, let’s assume each household has one car. Without number coding, let’s assume each household effectively “produces” 5 days per week of driving. Put number coding in and each household’s production goes down to 4 days per week of driving – initially.

However, when a household purchases a second car, production does not return to 5 days per week of driving, because households typically have more than one driver! Families naturally want to make the most out of the secondary car and drive it on the other days it isn’t banned, instead of just the day the primary car is banned.

So a household with two cars can theoretically produce up to 8 days of driving instead of 5, and with more cars, driving can increase beyond that. Increase driving without increasing road space, and you are left with crippling congestion.

The effects of coding in Mexico City are also observable in Metro Manila. Motor vehicle sales in the Philippines grew from 132,444 units in 2009 to 234,747 units in 2014 – nearly doubling in a 5-year span. The same permit system is in effect and is being taken advantage of by wealthier Filipinos.

More cars and more driving have only led to more congestion, as well as other destructive consequences. Our air quality has suffered, space is being overrun by parking lots instead of parks, and where private parking lots have not been built, streets are being used as private parking space, further increasing congestion.

Our coding scheme, unlike Mexico City’s, is different in a significant and cruel way – it makes life much more miserable for the population who cannot afford the permit. The Philippines has the dubious distinction of being the only place in the world that applies coding to public transport vehicles. In fact, when the UVVRP was conceptualized in 1995, it was to apply only to public transport vehicles!

Applying number coding effectively reduces public transport supply by 20%, which means that those who cannot afford cars are forced to wait in even longer lines to get in PUVs and go home. At this point we haven’t even discussed the other negative externalities created by cars and driving.

To name a few, air quality suffers, public space becomes overtaken by parking lots, and where private parking lots have not been built, public streets are used as private parking space, further increasing congestion.

To continue with our version of coding – let alone expand it – would be disastrous and counterproductive. Rather, we should think about reforming it in order to achieve better transport outcomes. Below I outline two policy goals we should have in mind, and how we should reform our coding policy in order to achieve them:

  1. Increase public transport supply 

The first one is to increase public transport supply via immediate lifting of number coding on all PUVs.

This is essential for reasons already discussed in this article. There is simply not enough public transport supply – and notions to the contrary are easily dispelled by either a) actually taking public transport, or b) observing formal and informal transport terminals outside major shopping malls between 6 pm and 8 pm. Lifting number coding on PUVs will increase the supply of public transport up to 25% each day, which will be a boon to commuters.

To maximize the benefit of the increased supply, we must couple it with enforcement of dedicated lanes for PUVs – also known as the “yellow lane.” The yellow lane has been strictly enforced in the past and will allow for smoother travel of public transport along road corridors. However, yellow lane implementation does not just mean physical segregation of PUVs. Protocols on loading and unloading within yellow lanes must be in effect – loading and unloading must happen within prescribed zones and within a prescribed amount of time.

  1. Reduce demand for cars and driving

The second goal is to reduce demand for cars and driving via the implementation of “smart” number coding. 

Some countries have refined their coding schemes such that there is a reduced incentive to buy more cars. For instance, in Bogota, Colombia’s Pico y Placa scheme, the numbers banned from driving on a given day rotate on an annual basis. In addition, car buyers may not choose the ending digits of their car licenses. License ending digits are assigned on a per-household basis and all cars belonging to a particular household have the same number. This makes it more difficult to acquire more cars and “permits.”

In the grand scheme of things, even the “smart” incarnations of coding do little by themselves to reduce driving. To significantly change driving attitudes, a comprehensive package of demand management policies must be implemented.

These tools include economic measures such as parking and fuel taxes, which are tried-and-tested in reducing driving demand. The proceeds of such levies often directly fund public transport improvements, which are the most crucial efforts of all in maximizing mobility of people and reducing our dependence on cars.

At the very least, however, we have to reform our current number coding policy to make sure we are giving our cities medicine for traffic, not poison.– Rappler.com


Robert Anthony Siy is an incoming student of the MA Transport Economics program at the University of Leeds, and is one of the 2015 Chevening scholars for the Philippines.

Base image from Shutterstock

HK misses PH overseas voter registration target by 2,000


HONG KONG – Just 2,000 more and the Consulate would have reached its target of 20,000 new voters for next year's presidential election.

This was disclosed to The SUN on August 26 by Jethro Tull de la Cruz, who heads the overseas voting registration campaign by the Consulate.

A total of 3,545 additional voters last month boosted the overall tally for new registrants to just over 18,000.

Cruz said this makes the target figure very achievable with more than two months left for the registration.

In an earlier interview, Vice Consul Alex Vallespin, head of the cultural section that oversees the OVR, attributed the upsurge in July to the listing of Iglesia Ni Cristo voters, and the setting up of additional registration desks.

On July 7, an OVR desk was installed at PNB World Wide, followed by a desk each on July 10, 17 and 18 at Banco de Oro in the same shopping center and another at LBC North Point.

A desk each was added at LBC World-Wide and LBC Lik Sang in Tsuen Wan on July 19, complementing a mobile registration at the 6th anniversary celebration of Guardians Magic Group in Causeway Bay.

Meanwhile, the OVR desk at the Consulate was also drawing more registrants with 30 to 40 on average on weekdays and more than 100 on Sundays, said Vallespin.

For the first three Sundays of August, the team conducted mobile OVRs at the Jesus is Lord Fellowship in Chai Wan and at LBC North Point, and repeated the activity at LBC North Point on Aug 30.

The Consulate will take the OVR listing to Discovery on September 5 in a bid to further jack up figures.

Distribution of Voters' ID

The re-issued voters ID of those who registered for the overseas voting registration (OVR) in 2003 may be claimed personally or through authorized representative at the PCG service area, Monday to Thursday, from 9am to 4pm, and on Sunday, 9 am to 2 pm.

To facilitate the distribution of the voters ID and avoid long queues, the PCG requests Filcom organizations to claim the voters ID of their members by authorizing any representative.

Please take note that the authorized representative must present (1) an authorization document duly signed by the president or chairperson of the organization (or if it is the president or chairperson him/herself, the authorization document must be signed by the vice-president or vice-chairperson AND secretary); (2) a copy of the representative's passport or Hong Kong ID to serve as proof of identity; (3) authorization document in duplicate copies showing the complete names and signatures of the members who want their IDs claimed by the authorized representative; and the photocopy of the passport or Hong Kong ID of each.

The organization should send advance copy of the above-mentioned list to cultural_hk@yahoo.com to facilitate the distribution. – Rappler.com 

This article is republished with permission from The SUN-HK, a content partner of Rappler

How the Paris climate deal can save lives


In this file photo taken on November 19, 2013, a mother reacts as she finds her missing 6-year-old son among the bodies brought to one of three mass burial sites in Tacloban where they received more than one thousand victims after Super Typhoon Haiyan swept over the central Philippines. AFP PHOTO / ODD ANDERSEN / FILES

BONN, Germany - All roads lead to Paris in December to ensure that every country will act on climate change. The Conference of Parties (COP) 21 is expected to come up with a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C.

After the failure of Copenhagen in 2009 to lock in this agreement, many are looking forward at a successful outcome in Paris. This is especially true because the last 6 years have seen many countries undergo extreme weather events, with thousands of lives lost.

After 20 years of talks and little action, there is much hope that the urgency of acting on climate change has become clearer this time around.

But if the conference succeeds, it will just be the beginning of a long journey in dealing with climate change. Right now, countries have their own set of commitments which can be seen through their Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC). The INDC serves as their contribution in creating a climate-resilient future and ensuring global warming stays below 2°C. 

Setting ambitious targets

But climate is changing, and it is changing fast. Every year, typhoons get stronger, drought gets longer, and the temperature increases.

This is why it is important that countries set ambitious targets, constantly be able to review it, and make new commitments every so often. This is where the concept of “5 year cycles” comes in.

According to the World Research Institute (WRI), the five-year cycles are meant “for assessing and strengthening countries’ actions to reduce emissions, adapt to climate change, and support low-carbon growth in a manner that is fair, equitable, and just.” Included in this cycles are mitigation, adaptation, and support.

“The 5 year cycles is important for the Philippines. Our INDC is just an official offer we will make and its constant review will allow us to take into consideration our Philippine Development Plan and economic growth,” Joy Goco, Assistant Secretary of the Climate Change Commission and head of the Philippine delegation in the Bonn climate negotiations, said.

The Philippines is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. And yet, our mitigation and adaptation plans are not ambitious.

Our adaptation plans, specifically, have fallen short. Our People’s Survival Fund Law, passed in 2012 and which created a 1 billion peso fund for local governments’ local climate change adaptation plan (LCCAP), has not been implemented. No one has accessed these funds. As a result, we have not been able to prepare for catastrophic events such as Yolanda.

Financing adaptation 

In this age where “normal” is defined by typhoons going at 195 miles per hour, the next catastrophy is not a question of if but a question of when. And weak adaptation plans could mean that we will continue to face extreme weather events without strong defenses. 

With the 5 year cycles, each countries’ adaptation plans will be reviewed based on what they have already done, what they still need to do, and what they can do better with more support, including finance, capacity building, and technology and development cycle. 

Jasper Inventor of Greenpeace Philippines says that the Philppines should champion means of implementation in the agreement in order to ensure resources for adaptation.

“Finance for adaptation should be in the core of interest for the Philippines,” he said.

Finance for adaptation has been difficult for developing countries like the Philippines. According to a study by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), developing countries need around $300 billion annually by 2050 for adaptation alone.

Where will these resources come from?

“Right now, developed countries are giving us ‘peanuts’ for financing adaptation,” Inventor said.

At the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform (ADP) on adaptation held in Bonn, the United States made a position that finance should not be included in the adaptation section of the agreement. The G77 countries, led by Bolivia, stood their ground. Bolivia reminded US why finance must be mentioned in adaptation — to ensure developed countries’ support for developing countries.

Through the 5-year cycles, vulnerable countries like the Philippines can demand developed countries for support. Developed countries will have the responsibility to support developing countries in its adaptation needs.

Climate change impacts are urgent and happening fast. We need to be just as fast in adapting to it. The 5-year cycle of adaptation and finance will strengthen our adaptation efforts, preparing us for the next Yolanda (Haiyan) and other climate change impacts. It will help save the lives of thousands of Filipinos. Rappler.com 

Renee Juliene Karunungan, 25, is the advocacy director of Dakila. Dakila jas been campaigning for climate justice since 2009. She is also a climate tracker for Adopt A Negotiator.

On abortion, the Pope, priests should not dictate on women


CHARISMATIC PONTIFF. Pope Francis draws support after asking priests to forgive women who had abortions. File photo by Luca Zennaro/EPA/Pool

Pope Francis, dearly beloved by many, welcomed September with seemingly liberating news: He asked priests to pardon women who had abortions.

The Pope also shed some holy light on the "sin" that is abortion:

"One of the serious problems of our time is clearly the changed relationship with respect to life. A widespread and insensitive mentality has led to the loss of the proper personal and social sensitivity to welcome new life. The tragedy of abortion is experienced by some with a superficial awareness, as if not realizing the extreme harm that such an act entails. Many others, on the other hand, although experiencing this moment as a defeat, believe they they have no other option. I think in particular of all the women who have resorted to abortion. I am well aware of the pressure that has led them to this decision."

Strong words coming from someone described by many as a compassionate Pope. Such awareness, however, is not always "superficial", as many of these women are well aware of their reproductive rights as women, as humans. Their body, their health, their choice. No man, priest, or pope could interfere with that right.

Abortion does not bring extreme harm, it is the stigma against abortion that does. 

Due to the stigma, several Filipino women do not receive post-abortion care in hospitals, resulting in deaths by the thousands. In 2008 alone, around 1,000 maternal deaths were “attributable to abortion complications,” the Guttmacher Institute reported. (READ: Death by stigma: Problems with post-abortion care)

Abortion in itself does not cause death. Why do women die? Because they do not receive safe medical abortions. Why? Because it is illegal in the Philippines.

The shame attached to abortion may also bring women closer to death. After undergoing a botched secret abortion, the woman might feel too ashamed to seek medical attention. 

Making it illegal doesn't mean women would stop getting abortions. What such policing only does is push women to getting unsafe ones. 

Projections based on the 2000 national abortion rate: PH Abortions 

(Source: Guttmacher Instititute)

2008 2012
560,000 610,000

Let's admit it. Abortion does happen even in a country of over 80 million Roman Catholics. Calling it a sin does not help solve anything, and most definitely, giving priests the "power" to "absolve" women does absolutely nothing.

The answer is not found in the confession booth, the pews, or the cross. The answer lies in policy changes within the Philippine government.

Women, sin

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) then explained that abortion is a “reserved sin” that can only be "absolved" by the bishop, but with the Pope's new statement, all priests are now allowed to do so.

"This does not make the sin less grievous. What it does is make the mercy of God more tangible through the ministry of the Church," Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, also CBCP president, added. 

Both the Pope's and the CBCP's messages were peppered with the words "women" and "sin," putting emphasis on how such sinful women could only be acquitted with the help of men, the priests. Then later on, by the big man himself, God.

There is something odd, if not ironic, with how a patriarchal institution like the Catholic Church is dictating women to ask for forgiveness for deciding to take control over their own bodies.

These men do not know why these "sinful women" had abortions. Perhaps they were raped by a stranger, a friend, or even a relative. Some were sold into the sex industry, some were intimidated by a partner, and some were mired in so much poverty that they could not bring it upon themselves to introduce a child into a life of suffering.


REJECTING ABORTION. Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, CBCP president, says the Catholic Church continues to reject abortion as a 'grave and serious wrong.' File photo by Noli Yamsuan/Archdiocese of Manila

Not all Filipinos are aware of how babies are made, as many grew up with no sexuality education at school and at home. Ignorance, however, does not stop them from having sex. 

With the Catholic Church going against sexuality education, how do you expect the number of teenage pregnancies to go down?

Filipino women aged 15-24 who begin childbearing

(Source: 2013 National Demographic and Health Survey)

2008 2013
Age 15-19 Age 20-24 Age 15-19 Age 20-24
9.9% 46.8% 10.1% 46.2%

And with the Catholic Church exclusively supporting the natural family planning method and abstinence, while also actively opposing modern contraception, it is no wonder the number of unwanted pregnancies remains high.

Percentage of births in the Philippines from 2003-2008

(Source: Guttmacher Institute)

Unplanned 37%
Mistimed 20%
Unwanted 16%

There are currently over a hundred million Filipinos, with some baby-faced parents raising more babies than their fingers could count. Some have the skills and maturity to raise a family, others cannot even take care of themselves.

Richer parts of the Metro boast skyscrapers; meanwhile, some local governments try their best in concealing the country’s underbellies — where violence against women like rape happen and where women are shamed for quietly getting abortions.

Rape cases reported to the Philippine National Police 

(Source: Philippine Commission on Women)

1997 832
2013 1,285

In countries where abortion is legal, women are provided with properly trained doctors, quality service and facilities, support and understanding. These are some of the grounds for abortion rights around the world:

  • To save a woman's life
  • If she is a victim of rape or incest
  • If her physical or mental health becomes a hindrance
  • If there is fetal impairment
  • Socio-economic reasons
  • By the woman's request

Of course, there are medical standards followed, a woman can only safely get an abortion within a certain timeframe. Beyond that period, doctors will advise whether it would already be too dangerous to do the procedure.

In fact, in April 2015, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women published a report advising the Philippine government to amend its Criminal Code  to "legalize abortion in cases of rape, incest, threats to the life and/or health of the mother, or serious malformation of the fetus and decriminalize all other cases where women undergo abortion."

Of all the things said about abortion these past days, here's a line from Villegas which perfectly captures how the Philippines wrongly views abortion vis-a-vis women's rights:

"Choosing to terminate innocent, unborn life is not among a woman’s options because her right to privacy and to make decisions about herself do not extend to the life in her womb over which she enjoys no dominion at all. Dependent on her, yes, but entrusted to her stewardship, not handed over to her power!"

Women have autonomy over their anatomy. Operative words in this argument are choice and access. – Rappler.com

RUN50: A pastor’s race for the next generation


Christian minister Ferdie Cabiling plans to run from Saranggani to Aparri. Photo courtesy of the author.

MANILA, Philippines - Two thousand. Two hundred. Twenty. Forty-four.

On Saturday, September 5 at 3 AM in Maasim, Sarangani, a town in Mindanao lying at the southernmost tip of the country, these numbers will be top-of-mind to one man’s race, a run across the Philippines.

Pastor and ultra marathon runner Ferdie Cabiling embarks on what he describes as an “epic and raw adventure.” He will run 50 kilometers a day for 44 days, and while in the trek will celebrate his 50th birthday.

The title of his journey: RUN50. It starts at Sarangani and will end at Aparri, a total of 2,180 kilometers. Crossing the finish line is a must, but more importantly, the journey is a benefit run that, once completed, could change the lives of up to 250 underprivileged youth. 

Inspired by a running priest

“The idea of running around the corner in a new place is already a treat. But running around the country? It’s even more exhilarating,” the pastor shares in a blog post, Seven Reasons why #RunAcrossThePH.

The spark to do RUN50 came after reading the blog of another minister, a running priest named Father Amado “Picx” Picardal.

After all, the pastor has the chops to do a long-haul run. He has completed 10 marathons that were organized by General Jovie Narcise. He’s also very passionate and vocal about the sport. Leaders and members of his home church, Victory Manila, already call him the running pastor. The soon-to-be 50-year-old minister is currently one of the church’s executive directors, where he oversees its 15 congregations in Metro Manila, attended by up to 75,000 people every week. 

“It’s a dream project that would benefit many. I’ve already trained and equipped him for it and he has the mental toughness to finish the race,” says his trainer, Tito Salazar.

Cabiling has been working with him for 3 years and has relied on him for encouragement, support and professional guidance. Thanks to Salazar’s coaching, the passionate runner has completed some daunting and challenging runs like the Bataan Death March 160K Run.

“His legs are worth millions,” Salazar says, expressing full confidence that his client can complete his races. “Fifty kilometers a day for him is like a walk in the park,” the trainer adds.

'I run for those who can’t'

Victory is known in evangelical circles as a young and dynamic ministry. It has grown by leaps and bounds since its founding, thanks to a relentless focus on reaching students. Their mission is imbued in a catchphrase its active young members repeat like a mantra: “Change the campus. Change the world.”

Cabiling was one of the first members of the church, since the latter’s accidental founding in the mid-1980s by American missionary Steve Murrell. 

“I can’t clearly put a demarcation line on when,” he responds, asked when he became a full-time pastor. In 1984, while studying Civil Engineering at Adamson University, he first heard the gospel from a group of missionaries and committed to be part of what was then a daily worship service. It was during those times when he met Murrell, who would be his mentor in the faith. As a young evangelical, he discovered that he was more passionate in bridging people to God than building real bridges. 

Over the next 30 years, he will be mentoring young people who would turn out to be some of Victory’s major influencers. Case in point: Two men he shared the gospel to, both of whom were still teenagers when he was their Bible study leader, are now senior pastors of 2 large Victory congregations.

Developing leadership skills and imparting the desire to live a life of integrity and excellence, while prioritizing the growth of one’s faith, is at the heart of Victory’s outreach. In 2007, members of the church leadership created the Real LIFE Foundation, with “the vision of seeing thousands of marginalized Filipino youth educated, gainfully employed and uplifting their communities.”

RUN50 will raise a little over P2 million pesos for the organization, enough to support 250 scholars. 

“I will be raising P1,000.00 per kilometer. And since there are 2,180 kilometers from Maasim to Aparri, we will be raising almost P2 million pesos,” the running pastor shares.

Cabiling’s wife, Judy, initially teased her avid runner of a husband that his love for the sport is caused by a mid-life crisis, “She actually increased my insurance.”

(R-L) Ferdie Cabiling, his wife Judy, daughter Elle and son John Phillip. Photo courtesy of the author


But similar to how Judy faithfully supported her husband’s calling, she has been all in to his every personal race. Their daughter Elle, who recently graduated from the University of the Philippines and is preparing to become a full-time minister herself, is heavily involved in the logistics of RUN50. Their 11-year-old son, John Phillip is a major inspiration for this race. “He can walk and tries to run sometimes to show off to daddy, but he does it by literally dragging his right leg which was affected by the inborn condition in the brain.”

The marathoner dedicates this coming race to John Phillip and others who are experiencing disabilities. “I run for those who can’t,” is a tagline the pastor uses on all his runs. 

For God and the next generation

Cabiling is flying to Mindanao 48 hours before his race so he can pray for a church member in General Santos suffering from cancer. He won’t be running on Sundays, as he’ll be preaching in churches – as he had been doing for the past three decades. Praying for government leaders of cities and municipalities along the path of RUN50 is also in the plan. 

“As a believer, I run for God’s glory and pleasure,” Cabiling writes in a blog post. He then refers to a quote by the famous Scottish athlete and missionary, Eric Liddell: “I believe God made me for a purpose and He also made me fast. When I run, I feel His pleasure.”

Cabiling has dedicated his life to inspiring the next generation to live a life for God. The chance to positively influence the lives of 250 Filipino students may be the greatest prize of the solo journey of a man filled with faith.

It wouldn’t be daring to suggest that it would be to God’s pleasure that he completes it. - Rappler.com

To know more on how you can support RU50, visit Pastor Ferdie Cabiling’s website here

Caleb Galaraga is a freelance writer based in Metro Manila. He has previously contributed to Rappler and blogs regularly for Israel’s The Jerusalem Post. You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Tsaa Laya: The art of growing tea and creating work for the poor


TAKING STOCK. Jamir and Jennylyn show what Jennylyn is growing in her garden these days. Photo by Dindin Reyes

LAGUNA, Philippines – Every time you hold a cup of warm tea in your hands, you can rest in the knowledge that your tea came from tea leaves somewhere out in the world, sprouting fresh from the earth with the hot sun beating down on it.

But, do you ever wonder whose hands picked those leaves and whose loved ones tilled the earth for that tea in your cup?

From seeds being planted to tea bags being soaked, every cup of tea has a story. As a bag of Tsaa Laya tea flavors the water and spreads to air, it tells the story of Filipino women from urban areas finding their way back to wholeness with herbs, gardens, and opportunities.

Bringing back life to a ghost town of women

Tsaa Laya is a social enterprise that produces premium tea collections uniquely Filipino, using organic, local herbs, fruits, and spices. Everything happens in Site 2 of the National Housing Authority (NHA) housing project at Southville 7 in Calauan, Laguna. 

The first time Jamir Ocampo, founder of Tsaa Laya and the company that produces it, Kapwa Greens, set foot on the compound it was 2012, and a year after he worked for the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

At the CHR, what he saw was many housing opportunities with very little job opportunities. Instead of being resettled in the full sense of the word, informal settlers were being moved to places that were safer, yet here, they continued to be vulnerable, hungry, and jobless.

NHA Site 2 was a ghost town of women and families similar to neighboring site Bayan ni Juan, where women and children were prostituting themselves for food. Needing to provide for their families, the husbands lived in cities far away from them, while their wives who had skills sets suited for urban factories and workplaces sat waiting.

Wanting to provide a solution, Jamir came back in 2014, this time as an entrepreneur partnering with the community’s caretakers, the Don Bosco Fathers and the Ayala Foundation. Together, they transformed 3 housing units into a tea plant. 

Knowing what Jamir knew about local herbs, he knew that plants you could grow easily could become a steaming cup of good tea. The community could plant the herbs, the mothers could work at the tea plant near their houses, and the absence of the need to travel from farm to tea plant meant the product would be fresh and organic.

Jamir connected the dots and pitched his idea of starting Kapwa Greens, a social enterprise that would develop herb-based products just like Tsaa Laya, to the "I Am A Changemaker" competition hosted by the British Council. After getting funding, Jamir and the community women started brewing. 

Growing lemongrass and livelihood

PABEBE GREENS. The tea plant workers, all part of the NHA housing project in Calauan Laguna, stand proud. Photo by Dindin Reyes

There are two requirements for working at Kapwa Greens to produce some Tsaa Laya tea. One, you have to be physical fit. Second, you have to be part of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps). Managed by the Department of Social and Welfare Development, the 4Ps program provides small cash transfers to poor mothers as long as they make sure their children are going to school and being kept healthy.

A wealth of these 4P program members reside in NHA Site 2 but only a few of them thought to apply with Kapwa Greens. These were women whose skills didn’t reside in farms but in urban workplaces. Being provided with training in the community but not being given related jobs after had given the women of the housing project a phobia for livelihood projects that went nowhere. A few, however, decided to try anyway.

“Proud ako na ito ngayon ang buhay namin (I’m proud of our lives right now)," said Jennylyn Umali, community leader and a quality head at Kapwa Greens. One of the 7 plant workers who call themselves the Pabebe Greens, Jennylyn found herself in Calauan, Laguna for the same reason that most of the mothers landed there – Typhoon Ondoy, known internationally as Typhoon Ketsana.

Ondoy affected 993,227 families and Jennylyn’s family of 6 was one of them. Up to this day, she recalls watching the storm from the second story of her home in Pasig City, thinking it could be the end. “Pag makita mo yung alon, para kang nasa gitna ng dagat (If you could see the waves, it was like you were in the middle of the sea)," she said. 

The rains subsided and she was left with a phobia for rain in the city. When it was offered, her family opted to undergo what she called self-demolition – they chose to be relocated. Her larger family objected, saying she had no one to run to in the middle of Laguna. Knowing they were right she replied, “’Di bale, pag-aaaralan ko maghirap. (Never mind, I’ll learn how to be poor and live with it.)

She’s been living in the NHA project in Calauan for 5 years and it’s been hard. From both her and her husband having a job in Manila, they went back to zero.

They arrived in a place without electricity and water promised to them, and for the first period of their stay, all anyone could do to make money was to sell the appliances they couldn’t get to work anyway.

LAST STEP. The packaging of the teas is the last step before they reach you. Photo by Dindin Reyes

Magastos ang tumengga (It costs money to be idle)," Jennylyn said, so she decided to clear the land in front of her to make sure no snakes were slithering around. Eventually it became a family project – 5 years of experimenting and seminars with the Climate Change Commission, and her garden is now an organic mini-farm that other residents try to copy.

Her garden is an unoccupied lot, one of the many free lots that the NHA said they could cultivate while it isn’t being used. She has gotu kola, tanglad (lemongrass), herba buena, and pandan– all key ingredients in Tsaa Laya teas. Aside from being a provider of herbs, Jennylyn is also a provider of seedlings to other residents who she’s encouraged to plant. She told them, “I’ll buy whatever you can grow."

With Kapwa Greens as a secured buyer of their produce, many residents have chosen to divide some of the free lots at NHA Site 3 so they could try their hand at gardening as a business. There, tanglad grows everywhere and a local economy thrives.

‘Miracle’ plants

TEAS FOR SALE. Tea products come in different flavors. Photo from Tsaa Laya

The mothers at Kapwa Greens are proud to be working, and they’re proud that the work they do helps people live healthier lives. They describe their work as a miracle, “malaking biyaya.”

The money they earn daily goes to small things like rice, their kids’ allowances, money for school projects, but it goes a long way in giving them peace of mind. Jennylyn said, “Na-relax na isip namin, ‘di na kami kumakapa.” (Our minds are more relaxed. We aren’t groping in the dark anymore.)

Kapwa Greens seeks to take the production of Tsaa Laya teas to a larger scale, not just for profit, but to build on the thriving local economy and value chain it’s built at the NHA housing project.

With the local herbs growing fast and within walking distance from the tea plant, drying can happen immediately and packaging the next day. The story of Tsaa Laya starts in the urban areas where families are relocated because of either natural disaster or demolitions, but they flourish and continue in a rural setting.

The true premium of a tea like Tsaa Laya comes not just in the flavor and the freshness of the tea, it also comes in the hope and creativity it brings to a place like the NHA site in Calauan, Laguna. Kapwa Greens helped transform a housing project into fertile soil where people could grow.

For their part, the mothers have brought new value to enjoying a good old cup of tea. – Rappler.com

'Lahat Dapat': No child should be left malnourished


NOT ENOUGH. Melcha (youngest girl) with her family who only relies on her father's income as a coconut farmer for their daily needs. Photo from Save the Children

MANILA, Philippines – Wise beyond her years, 12-year-old Melcha dreams big not just for herself but also for her family. However, poverty continues to be an obstacle. 

In their household, food is often just a small piece of fish, soup, and rice. Sometimes, they only get to eat fresh fish when there's extra money. To at least "improve the taste," vetsin is usually added to the otherwise bland meal despite health risks.

Melcha's mother is aware that her children aren't getting the right nutrients and they often get sick because they're not well-nourished. However, poverty prevents them from improving their lives.

"I know this is unhealthy, but what else can I do, the children won’t eat? We have no money for meat," she said in Filipino. “I am aware they get sick because they are not nourished enough. I can’t buy vitamins for them yet as we don’t have enough money."

This is the harsh reality of many Filipinos today and as the 2016 elections near, Save the Children calls for immediate and heightened action against child malnutrition.

Entitled “Lahat Dapat,” the campaign seeks to enlighten stakeholders – government, civil society organizations, and the public – on the importance of leaving no child behind when it comes to progress as a nation.

The reported economic growth in the Philippines, Save the Children country director Ned Olney said, does not reflect improvements on poverty and malnutrition among Filipinos.

“There is disparity in economic growth and progress in nutrition in this country so if we are to progress as a nation, so must all of our children,” he emphasized.  “We need to have a national discussion.”

Save the Children calls for nutrition to be prioritized and be a centerpiece in the electoral campaigns of 2016 aspirants.  Future leaders – both local and national – should aim to champion and carry on the fight against child malnutrition and ultimately, poverty.

NO ONE LEFT BEHIND. Save the Children calls for immediate action to end hunger and poverty in the Philippines. Screenshot from Save the Children's campaign video

End poverty, end malnutrition

The latest National Nutrition Survey (NNS) results of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) show that two out of 10 children under 5 years old are underweight, while 3 out of 10 are too small for their age – or stunted, an indication of chronic malnutrition.

The 1st quarter 2015 Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey found that around 7.9 million Filipino families are food-poor. This means that they do not have enough money to buy food. Meanwhile, the Food Consumption Survey of FNRI found that 7 in 10 households do not get the right amount of nutrients.

Breaking the inter-generational cycle of malnutrition, according to Olney, requires ending the same cycle of poverty.

“Poverty creates malnutrition and malnutrition keeps people in poverty,” he stressed. “We have not seen poverty really going down so these poor families are where the malnourished children come from.”

The existence of poverty worsens malnutrition conditions in the Philippines. The NNS results showed that malnourishment largely affects children in poor households or communities.

The lack of resources from their end hinders them from getting the right nutrients. (READ: Is the minimum wage enough for a day's worth of nutritious meals?)

To ultimately see the end of the cycle, government should find ways to eventually promote inclusive growth.

“We have to come up with broad economic policies to look at how to reduce poverty and how to get more families to enjoy the economic progress the country is enjoying at large,” Olney said.

However, these policies should be sustainable enough and be given right budget allocations. It is also important, he added, that anti-poverty programs are implemented well while providing the needs of those burdened.

“We need to ensure that there's a greater level of resources that get to these poor families,” Olney said.

Collaboration is key

Save the Children, through its latest campaign, calls for commitment not just from the government but also from the public to “exhaust all means to ensure children get the right nutrition they deserve.”

Hunger and malnutrition, the group added, is really everyone’s business. Strong support can definitely ensure no one suffers from the irreversible effects of these problems.

“Get people involved in pushing for sustainable solutions,” Olney said. “We need to raise public awareness about the very alarming situation in the country.” – Rappler.com

To know more about how to participate in the Save the Children campaign, please visit the Lahat Dapat website.


Mimaropa to world leaders: Strong climate deal, please


MANILA, Philippines — With the Paris climate talks nearing, Region IV-B or Mimaropa is calling on world leaders to agree on a strong climate change agreement to reduce carbon emissions.

Eleuterio Raza Jr, Marinduque provincial planning and development officer, said in a  press statement that the region has beautiful islands that lures local and foreign tourists, but such natural attractions are vulnerable to climate change.

“Our sustainable tourism industry and lives of our people are greatly threatened by extreme weather conditions,” Raza said. 

In December, Paris will host global climate talks that will gather representatives from all over the world to discuss how to combat climate change. At the end of the two-week conference, an agreement is expected to be finalized. (READ: How the Paris climate deal can save lives)

The agreement involves how countries could stop the Earth from warming by more than 2°C. The Philippines will be part of these talks.

Mimaropa plea

The Regional Development Council of Mimaropa – composed of the Mindoro provinces, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan – adopted a resolution calling on countries responsible for “spewing large amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere” to take the lead in striking a deal to reduce carbon emissions.

The resolution aims to “globalize the resolve of the archipelagic region to address the ill-effects of climate change,” according to Romeo Escandor, Jr, National Economic and Development Authority regional director.

“We aim to build disaster resilient communities and push economic growth under the principles sustainable development goals, however, our dreams and aspirations for the future generation needs global collective action,” said Escandor.

Aside from reducing emissions, the resolutions call on governments to implement mechanisms on climate finance in the context of loss and damage, adaptation, mitigation, technology transfer, and capacity building for countries most vulnerable to climate change.

In 2013, the Philippines was named as the country most affected by climate change.

The region’s initiative is in support of the climate campaign “Road to Paris” launched by the Climate Reality Project (CRP), a movement founded by Nobel laureate and former US vice president Al Gore.

The CRP aims to mobilize grassroots communities, urging them to participate in the climate change conversation.

Mimaropa is home to the beautiful Verde Island Passage, pristine beaches, and is known for its rich marine and terrestrial biodiversity.

“Our main thrust for development has been environmentally and culturally sensitive. We may have an iota of carbon emission compared to others but we need to seek climate justice and walk the talk,” Raza said.

The region’s resolution will be given to the Climate Change Commission, then sent to the secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. – Rappler.com 

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