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Iloilo advocacy groups commit to use X


X MARKS THE SPOT. Advocacy groups in Iloilo commit to use X for the advocacies. Photo by Carlo Evidente/Humans of Iloilo

ILOILO CITY, Philippines – Advocacy organizations and civil society groups here committed to use X, Rappler's self-publishing platform, as their main platform for storytelling during the MovePH Network launch on Friday, August 12.

Among the attendees were representatives of the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines – Iloilo (FPOP), Open Arms for Children Inc, Youth First Initiative Inc, BAHAGHARI National LGBT Organization – Visayas, Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines – Iloilo, Junior Chamber International Iloilo, and the Rotary Club of Iloilo.

"MovePH wants to be the main platform for goodwill in the Philippines. X is our way to help organizations communicate and amplify their advocacies better," MovePH Community Manager David Lozada said.

Iloilo Pride, which was represented during the event, said X is a powerful platform they can use to amplify their stories and get people talking.

Iloilo Pride aims to put attention to LGBT issues through stories that inspire and empower members of our community. This platform will help our community by providing us a medium to share our stories and create online conversations that tackle LGBT issues,” said Justine Francis Bionat, Vice-chair for Visayas, BAHAGHARI.

MovePH Network was launched in July 2016 to become a community of student organizations nationwide. Since its launch in Metro Manila, the platform has already gathered over 100 student organizations from various universities and colleges, who are now using the platform to spread their advocacies and projects online. 

What is X?

X is a free tech platform intended for school publications, student organizations, and civil society groups. The platform enables partner organizations to create their own domains – allowing them to invite writers, artists, and advocates to post content under their publication’s respective pages – free of charge.

Using Rappler’s patented user engagement model, Mood Meter, and Reach; an online proprietary analytics tool, organizations will not only be able to amplify their advocacies but also build and map their networks with other communities across the country.

This will be the beginning of the prospected 3-part collaborative experiment that banks on the learnings from Rappler’s online platform. 

FPOP and MovePH ink deal

HIV ADVOCACY. FPOP Iloilo's Monaliza Diones and MovePH's David Lozada enter a partnership for HIV/AIDS advocacy in Western Visayas. Photo by Carlo Evidente/ Humans of Iloilo

Iloilo will be the first city outside of Luzon that will take advantage of the online platform. Among its first partners is FPOP's Iloilo Chapter, a reproductive health service provider and an advocate of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), especially for the poor, marginalized, socially excluded, and underserved.


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FPOP-Iloilo Project Manager Monaliza Diones said that the platform will be of great help for their organization in terms of information dissemination and messaging for their target populations.

“We would like to thank Rappler's MovePH for giving us this opportunity to share our advocacy online. We know that social media is essential, especially that our advocacy targets young people. We hope to share our best practices and learn, as well, from others in the public health and reproductive health community,” added Diones.

Lozada signed a Memorandum of Understanding with representatives of FPOP as partners for the HIV and AIDS advocacy in the region.

FPOP will be using X as a content delivery channel for its press releases, case studies, and date on the HIV epidemic in the region. – Rappler.com

Russel Patina is one of Rappler's Lead Movers in Iloilo. 

1st in the US: California high school curriculum to include WWII in PH


Celebrating inclusion of WWII in the Philippines in California state curriculum for high school History, from left, front row: Michelle Lockwood, Commander General of Naval Order of the U.S.; Juanita Tamayo-Lott, Cecilia Gaerlan, Gemma De Ocampo; Second row:  Sandy Lockwood, Bob Hansen, Marietta Flores, Jeanette Adi and Consul Reggie  Bernabe, and last row: Mark Miller, Ron Mendoza, Ray Cordoba, Consul Carlyn Monastrial, Alex France, Steve Arevalo and John De Ocampo.
Photo from Bataan Legacy Historical Society

CALIFORNIA, United States – California high schoolers will soon learn about World War II in the Philippines and how Filipino soldiers fought alongside their American comrades as members of the United States Army Forces in Far East. 

Thanks to the efforts of Filipino WWII veterans advocates, the California State Board of Education approved in July the inclusion of WWII in the Philippines in the revised history curriculum framework for the state.

The particular lesson will be part of the curriculum framework for United States History, Chapter 16, taught in the 11th Grade.

As approved, Chapter 16 will include:

  • The Philippine Commonwealth
  • Formation of the United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) under General Douglas MacArthur
  • Disruption of the timetable of the Imperial Japanese Army by the USAFFE
  • Bataan Death March
  • Role of PH and US guerrillas during the liberation
  • US soldiers transported in “hell ships” to labor camps in Asia
  • Battle of Leyte Gulf and Battle of Manila

No secondary school curriculum framework in the other 49 states covers the subject, which is of personal interest to children and descendants of Filipino WWII veterans in this country. 

Proponents say the curriculum will give Americans of every background who attend high school in California an understanding of advocates' clamor for equal compensation, and empathy for Filipino WWII veterans in this country, who are in their late 80s and with failing health.

"The lack of information on the Filipino defenders of WWII in the Philippines and the injustice that they suffered after the 1946 Rescission Acts were the catalysts that spawned the movement," explained Cecilia Gaerlan, author and executive director of the Bataan Legacy Historical Society. 

"This will be the first time in the US that this will be taught in high schools. We will also introduce it gradually in Grade 5 & Grade 8 in the actual curriculum template that we are now in the process of creating," Gaerlan said.

Gaerlan's father Luis Gaerlan Jr was a USAFFE member and Bataan Death March survivor. 

“The approval by the State Board of Education is the culmination of many years of hard work from the Filipino community,” Gaerlan said, referring to the progress of her advocacy.

In 2011, she and her cohorts found allies in then-Assembly Member Fiona Ma and then-State Senator Leland Yee, who sponsored AB199, which "encourages for the inclusion of the role of the Filipinos during WWII in the history/social sciences curriculum for Grades 7-12." The Legislature overwhelmingly passed the bill. 

Gaerlan and the Bataan Legacy Historical Society 3 years later initiated discussions with the Instructional Quality Commission of the California Department of Education to implement AB199.  

The advocates modeled their efforts after the US forces that sought support from their Philippine counterparts last century in their mission to defend the region from Japan. They reached out to State Schools Superintendent Tom Torlakson, who advanced their objective to expand the scope of the proposed curriculum framework to include World War II in the Philippines.

Torlakson happens to be married to Mae Cendana-Torlakson, longtime elected board member of Contra Costa County's Ambrose Rec and Park District and now candidate for State Assembly.

This spring, the History Social Sciences Committee of the Instructional Quality Commission approved all of the recommendations by the Society. The State Board of Education later approved the final curriculum framework with the inclusion. 

"Nearly 75 years since the beginning of America’s involvement in World War II, history was made on July 14, 2016,"  Gaerlan stressed.  "The approval by the SBE is the culmination of many years of hard work from the Filipino community.  This will be the first time that WWII in the Philippines will be taught to high school students in California and in the United States.  California’s new history curriculum framework can become the model for teaching this seminal point of WWII history in the U.S. " 

A curriculum steering committee is developing a sample curriculum template for schools to use as basis for implementing Chapter 16 of the Grade 11 US History, Gaerlan added.

The WWII advocates took a different route from the earlier successful effort to teach the contributions of Filipino pioneers, who 50 years ago led the unionization of farm labor in the state.  

In 2013 Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Assembly Bill 123, authored by first Philippine-born California state Assembly Member Rob Bonta, to require the state curriculum to include the contributions of Filipino Americans to the farm labor movement in California.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor that ignited the war in the Pacific centered in the Philippines. Bataan Legacy Historical Society is commemorating the milestone with a series of events in San Francisco:

  • September 29 - multimedia presentation on  at the SF Asian Art Museum
  • October 29 - conference featuring a panel discussion about WWII guerrillas and USAFFE soldiers
  • December 7 - rites remembering Pearl Harbor at the SF War Memorial Building
  • October 15 through December 15 - exhibition focusing on WWII in the Philippines at the SF War Memorial Building.



Duterte meets top NDRRMC officials for #Habagat2016 response


AERIAL INSPECTION. President Rodrigo Duterte and NDRRMC officials on August 15 conduct an aerial inspection of areas in Metro Manila that are affected by the monsoon rains. Photo courtesy of the Presidential Communications

MANILA, Philippines –“Adequate preparation and prompt response.”

This was the marching order of President Rodrigo Duterte when he met with top National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management  (NDRRMC) officials in Malacañang Monday noon, August 15.

Duterte invited Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, Defense Secretary and NDRRMC chair Delfin Lorenzana, and NDRRMC executive director Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad to the Palace to get updates on the response efforts of the government to the monsoon rains.

According to Taguiwalo, Jalad discussed the main report of the NDRRMC while she shared the status of the evacuation and relief operations of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the lead agency for disaster response. 

"For the first two days, the LGUs are able to manage. He asked if we have enough funds. I said for 2016, yes, but that we had to still procure water as this is not included in the family food pack,” Taguiwalo, who is the NDRRMC's vice chairman for disaster response, told Rappler. 

As of August 14, the DSWD had P740 million worth of relief resources in the regions that are currently and likely to be affected by the Southwest Monsoon. The amount consists of standby funds (P300,060,909.11), 289,825 family food packs (P104,204,972.10), other food items (P117,334,221.21) and non-food items (P218,641,411.17). It also includes the Quick Response Fund (QRF) at the Central Office that is readily available for release to the DSWD field offices.

Taguiwalo earlier said that the public can also donate relief goods, like new clothes and food, directly to DSWD offices or evacuation centers nationwide. (READ:#ReliefPH: How to help those affected by monsoon rains)

SWOLLEN DAM. This is an aerial photo of the swollen La Mesa Dam as of Monday noon, August 15. Photo courtesy of Sec Judy Taguiwalo

Affected areas

Duterte and the NDRRMC officials conducted an aerial survey of the NCR after their meeting. According to Taguiwalo, the President stressed that the government should prioritize the safety of the public, especially the communities near the Marikina and Pasig rivers and La Mesa dam.

As of 2 pm, Monday, about 23,500 families or 112,267 people in 173 barangays were affected in the National Capital Region (NCR), Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Western Visayas, and the Negros Island Region.

Nearly 18,450 families or 87,000 were displaced. Of the total number of evacuees, at least 10,750 families or 48,900 people are still inside 113 evacuation centers in NCR, Central Luzon, and Calabarzon, while at least 2,900 families or 13,910 people are outside. NCR has the most number of existing evacuation centers at 49 with 3,285 families or 15,723 people.

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In a press conference on Monday morning, PAGASA warned parts of Luzon of occasionally heavy rain on Monday as the southwest monsoon continues to affect the island group.  – Rappler.com

OFW rights groups decry Kuwait's new medical screening system


MANILA, Philippines – A new medical screening system for Filipinos who want to work in Kuwait is meeting stiff opposition from migrant groups and advocates, who said this would give rise to a "new cartel of medical clinics charging exorbitant fees" to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

The new system, which started on August 8, limits job applicants to only 7 accredited clinics within Metro Manila. Behind the new scheme is Philippine-based firm Winston Q8 Certification Solutions Inc., taking over GCC Accredited Medical Association (GAMCA).

According to ACTS OFW, the new system jacks up medical examination fees to P8,400 or 55KD, triple the previous regulated amount of P 2,580 by the Department of Health.

ACTS OFW party-list Representative Aniceto “John” Bertiz III described the new medical screening system as “oppressive” and called the Winston Q8 a “mysterious company.”

“Who controls WINSTON Q8 Certification Solutions, Inc? No one really knows because even its website does not mention who the owners are. Yet, this company shall have full control over the fate of the job applicant and the financial transactions of its accredited medical clinics,” Bertiz said.

Industry and recruitment consultant Emmanuel Geslani also said that by limiting the choices of aspiring OFWs, the new scheme will slow down deployment to Kuwait in the next few months.

"Currently all Middle East OFWs medical examination are done by GAMCA for the countries of Bahrain, Oman, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia for a potential market of 400,000 OFWs and removing Kuwait from Gamca accredited clinics means a loss of 80,000 potential medical exams for the GCC clinics,” he shared.

These concerns were echoed by civil society organizations such as the Blas F. Ople Policy Center and the Filipino Migrant Workers Group.  

“The new medical scheme is clearly anti-OFW. Why are they forcing overseas job applicants from the Visayas, and Mindanao to travel all the way to Metro Manila for medical tests with only seven clinics to choose from?” said Susan Ople, president of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, adding that the applicants are not even sure of being accepted by their desired Kuwaiti employer.

Jun Aguilar of the Filipino Migrant Workers Group (FMWG) said that other countries might follow this new model in "creating their own cartel of medical clinics" if the Philippine government fails to enforce existing laws against the cartelization of medical tests.

“We appeal to the Duterte administration to put a stop to this nefarious scheme by a new cartel of medical clinics to earn nearly triple the current amount of prescribed medical fees from Kuwait-bound overseas job applicants,” Aguilar, a former OFW, said.

The Philippine Association of Agencies for Kuwait, Inc (PHILAAK), meanwhile, sought the help of the Department of Labor and Employment in stopping the new scheme.

“The law is very clear. Job applicants for overseas work must have the freedom to choose the medical testing center or medical clinic that would administer the prescribed medical tests prior to deployment, as long as said clinics are DoH-accredited,” Amanda Araneta, president of PHILAAK said.

Rappler is awaiting Winston's comments on the matter.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, there are 141,926 OFWs in Kuwait as of 2015. – Rappler.com

5.4-magnitude earthquake hits Panay island


The epicenter of the earthquake in the southern part of Panay island, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.

MANILA, Philippines – A 5.4-magnitude earthquake hit the island of Panay in Western Visayas on Monday night, August 15.

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the epicenter was located some 31 kilometers northwest of Tigbauan town in Iloilo province and 10 km east northeast of San Remigio town in Antique province.

Rappler Mover Ted Aldwin Ong said the quake was felt in Iloilo City at around 7:45 pm. 

"A lot of people in our subdivision went out of their houses. I immediately instructed my family to go out of the house. We switched off the electrical main switch," he told Rappler.


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The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) said no structural damage is expected but there may be aftershocks. – Rappler.com

#WalangPasok: Class suspensions, Wednesday, August 17


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Please refresh this page for updates.

MANILA, Philippines – Here is a list of areas and schools where classes have been suspended for Wednesday, August 17, as the southwest monsoon brings more rain.

  • Hagonoy, Bulacan – all levels (public and private)
  • Malolos, Bulacan – all levels (public and private)
  • Paombong, Bulacan – all levels (public and private)


Not on the list? Help us crowdsource class suspensions by posting in the comments section or tweeting @rapplerdotcom.

For more information: When are classes cancelled or suspended? – Rappler.com

PH, other vulnerable countries to pursue 1.5-degree climate goal


CVF TURNOVER. Senator Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change at the Senate on Monday leads the turnover of the chairmanship of the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) from the Philippines to Ethiopia. Photo by Alex Nuevaespaña/Senate PRIB.

Manila, Philippines — Ministers of the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), a group of developing countries susceptible to the negative effects of climate change, addressed the Philippine Senate on August 16 and presented how limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius would impact economies.

During the forum, climate scientists and development experts stressed the importance of working together to attain the goals of the Paris climate change agreement.

The deal aims to keep a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius - or even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius – above pre-industrial levels.

Senator Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, stressed the need to develop economies sustainably, but cautioned not to "let our respective economies grow in ways that led us to today’s climate crisis” however small the countries’ contributions are to carbon emissions.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said that he will not honor the Paris climate change agreement, citing reasons of industrialization and the negligible carbon emissions of the country. 

He has since softened his stance, saying that he is willing to talk about the historic deal if it takes into consideration the economic plans of the country.

Also present in the high level climate policy forum were Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Alfonso Cusi, National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) vice chairperson Ernesto Pernia, and Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Arthur Tugade.

Vulnerable countries on climate solutions

Efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius were a product of the CVF’s advocacy campaign at the climate negotiations in Paris. 

“Small island developing states (SIDS) and climate vulnerable countries were the least influential in determining the outcome the negotiations. We were always the ones that needed to compromise,” said Climate Analytics senior climate diplomacy advisor Dr James Fletcher , who is from the Caribbean country St Lucia.

MONSOON RAINS. Men navigate through a flooded area during the Habagat on August 14 in Marikina City, Philippines. Photo by Martin San Diego/Rappler

Small island states were the first to demand for a 1.5 degrees target in 2008. The negotiating block Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), after having commissioned a scientific study on a 2-degree global temperature rise and learned of its disastrous impacts, decided to support the more ambitious 1.5 degree goal. However, most other countries did not believe this to be realistic.

Seven years after, the tune has changed in favor of the vulnerable countries. In 2016, all 196 countries agreed on the ambitious temperature goal.

Amplifying and diversifying the voices for climate action and climate justice helped small, developing, and vulnerable countries become a strong voice inside the climate negotiations, said Dr Fletcher.

Difference of 1.5 and 2 degrees

For countries such as St. Lucia and the Philippines, the difference of a 0.5-degree warming can mean life or death.  Currently, the world has warmed at 1 degree Celsius. Catastrophic events such as typhoon Haiyan happened at 0.8 degrees Celsius of warming.

Other small island states such as the Marshall Islands and Kiribati have started to buy land from other countries and to relocate their people as sea levels continue to rise, caused by the melting glaciers.

According to the Low Carbon Report by Climate Analytics, a two-degree rise in global temperature means 98% coral reef loss by 2050, 30% higher sea level rise for small islands in the South Pacific and Caribbean and South East Asia, and longer heat waves in tropical regions.

This will also have economic impacts such as occupational health risks, loss of lives, and community displacement. These impacts will be felt most by vulnerable countries.

Scientists have warned that current country commitments to the United Nations are not enough to curb warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. However, for vulnerable countries where increasing temperature is a matter of survival, this is a challenge they would take on without any hesitation.

At the forum, the Philippines has handed over the presidency of the CVF to 

The senator also posed a challenge to the new DOT and DOE secretaries, saying the Philippines needs energy that is affordable, sustainable clean and inexpensive, and transportation that is efficient, reliable, convenient, and inexpensive. Energy and transport are industries that produce the biggest emissions in the country.

“Bending the global warming curve is a moral imperative especially for developing countries. We cannot wait for the agreement to take effect before taking action,” she added.

Shiferaw Teklemariam, Ethiopia’s minister of Environment, Forestry, and Climate Change, accepted the leadership reminding all countries that “our unity must be strong and firm."

"We should not be pointing fingers at each other. Climate change is a problem no one country can solve. We must not stand idle.”

Watch some of the speeches delivered during the high-level climate forum:

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– Rappler.com

Renee Juliene Karunungan 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.

#WalangPasok: Class suspensions, Thursday, August 18


What's the weather like in your area? Report the situation through Rappler's Agos or tweet us at @rapplerdotcom.

Please refresh this page for updates.

MANILA, Philippines – Here is a list of areas and schools where classes have been suspended for Thursday, August 18.

Not on the list? Help us crowdsource class suspensions by posting in the comments section or tweeting @rapplerdotcom.

For more information: When are classes cancelled or suspended? – Rappler.com

Labor chief Bello in Saudi Arabia over stranded Filipino workers


LONG WAIT. OFWs in Saudi Arabia. File photo by AFP/Fayez Nureldine

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – Filipino and Saudi officials are working together to help thousands of stranded workers under a directive from King Salman, a diplomat said Wednesday, August 17, as the Philippines labor secretary visited.

The roughly 11,000 Filipinos are among tens of thousands of workers affected by financial troubles at the kingdom's major construction firms.

"Their salaries have not been paid, some of them for as long as 8 months," Iric Arribas, charge d'affaires at the Philippine embassy, told Agence France-Presse.

"It turned into a humanitarian crisis."

Workers were unable to renew their residency permits, meaning they could not leave the country and could not access their bank accounts, he said.

Some living in company accommodation "did not have food", Arribas added.

About 7,000 of the Filipinos worked for Saudi Oger Ltd, while 3,000 were with Saudi Binladin Group and the rest with other firms, Arribas said.

Saudi King Salman earlier this month ordered various measures to help affected foreign workers.

These include a waiver of penalties for expired work and residency permits, payment for flights home, and for food and accommodation when the employers were no longer meeting their obligations.

Lawyers hired by the Saudi government will handle claims for delayed salaries, even if workers leave the country.

Arribas said Philippines officials and the Saudi labour ministry are coordinating "to implement the general provisions of the directive from the king."

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Wednesday thanked Salman for his help.

Bello, who met his Saudi counterpart Mufarrej al-Haqbani, handed over a letter of gratitude from President Rodrigo Duterte, Arribas said.

Before leaving for Saudi Arabia Bello told Philippines television that Duterte wants the workers back as soon as possible.

"The majority of them would like to go home" and perhaps return to work in the kingdom later, Arribas said.

The stranded Filipinos worked in a variety of jobs including engineering, technical and office positions.

Sources in March told Agence France-Presse that delayed receipts from the government, whose oil revenues have dropped significantly over the past two years, left employees of the kingdom's construction giants struggling while they wait for salaries.

The Saudi Gazette reported on Wednesday that a Pakistani minister had also arrived in the kingdom to try to help more than 10,000 of his countrymen who are similarly stranded.

In early August India's minister of state for external affairs, V.K. Singh, met with Haqbani to discuss the plight of about 2,500 Indian workers. – Rappler.com

Duterte suffers backlash over personal attacks on De Lima


MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte drew the ire of many netizens following his attacks on Senator Leila De Lima on Wednesday, August 17, with both supporters and detractors saying that his his comments were uncalled for.

"Duterte is acting like a 12-year-old. When someone criticizes him, the only response is 'Oh, you are ugly, you smell bad.' Man is that the best Philippines has to offer? What about (if) he responds to questions with fair and just answers. Isn't he a lawyer, why doesn't he respond with how his action is consistent with Philippine law and the constitution?" said one commenter on the story.

Another netizen noted: "Nakakaumay na 'tong si Duterte. Lahat ng pumupuna sa pagpatay niya sa mahihirap eh binabangga at hinihiya nya (Duterte is getting tiresome. He's hitting and shaming everyone who criticizes the killing of poor people.)

"Duterte, bastos (you're rude). Face the inquiry and hope you come clean. This is democracy," netizen Tommy David added.

Even Duterte supporters aired their disappointment over the President's remarks.

"I'm not in favor of [what] President Duterte did. Is he not an adulterer too? I voted him, but I'm not blinding my eyes to his foul language. We all deserve respect. Personal weakness should [be] set aside when blasting someone because of their contradicting perspectives," Yarizo Dacles said.


<a class="twitter-timeline" data-partner="tweetdeck" href="https://twitter.com/MovePH/timelines/766155010279256065">Duterte Vs De Lima - Curated tweets by MovePH</a> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>


Activists said Duterte's comments take the fight for gender equality and women's rights backwards.


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Supporters of the senator aired their support on social media, with many saying that she should continue the fight against extrajudicial killings.

"What a woman! I admire her fierceness to defend herself. I support her because the administration really has to explain about killings of these poor drug users. Many celebrities are using drugs but the arrests are not violent. The poor ones ended in violent deaths. Government officials have a chance to defend themselves. There's a lot of question to what is happening now," a commenter said in one story.

A Duterte supporter added: "Hindi ako supporter ni De Lima pero nagtataka talaga ako bakit ba sukdulan ang galit niyo sa kanya? May ginawa ba siya sa inyo? (I am not a De Lima supporter, but I'm reall wondering why you have the utmost hatred for her? Did she do anything to you?)"

On Twitter, the hashtag #LabanLeila trended with netizens airing their support for the senator.


<a class="twitter-timeline" data-partner="tweetdeck" href="https://twitter.com/MovePH/timelines/766170146838761472">#LabanLeila - Curated tweets by MovePH</a> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>


What do you think of the President's comments? Tell us your thoughts on X! – Rappler.com


'Magtanggol' movie to show the story of the OFW


This is a press release.

Magtanggol, a political whodunit film directed by Sigfreid Barros-Sanchez based on a story by producer and investment banker Juanchito "Jojo" Dispo, will be shown at the Power Plant Cinema in Rockwell from August 24 to 30 as part of its week-long celebration of National Heroes Day.

The film, the first offering of Felix and Bert Productions, revolves around a fictional political clan rocked by a scandal as one scion – a senator who is a strong advocate for protecting the rights of overseas Filipino workers – was tagged as a principal suspect in a spate of killings of abusive OFW employers.

Tom Rodriguez, who plays Senator Juancho Magtanggol, considers his first venture in the political thriller genre an eye-opener. "I didn't realize the gravity of violence committed against our kababayans (countrymen) who only want to improve the plight of their respective families. Leaving your family behind to work overseas is already painful."

Sanchez, who previously directed the independent films Ang Mga Kidnaper Ni Ronnie Lazaro, Ang Anak Ni Brocka, and Lasponggols, among others, co-wrote the screenplay with fellow Bahay Konseptos members Henrie Famorcan Enaje and Henry Dela Cruz Jr while Topel Lee served as director of photography.Magtanggol dares to ask the question "Sino ang bayani ng mga bagong bayani?" (Who is the hero of the modern-day heroes?)

Aside from Rodriguez, the film also stars Joonee Gamboa, Dina Bonnevie, Ejay Falcon, Denise Laurel, Albie Casiño, Yam Concepcion, Kim Domingo, William Martinez, Ricky Davao, Epy Quizon, Giselle Sanchez, Lui Manansala, Cholo Barretto, Chanel Latorre, Myrtle Sarrosa, Buboy Villar, Raul Morit, Sunshine Teodoro, Basti Santos, Dido dela Paz, Archi Adamos, Hector Macaso, Bombi Plata, Dwight Gaston, Victor Medina, Bani Baldisseri, VMiguel Gonzales, and others.

Dispo reveals he is donating part of the proceeds to an OFW fund. "I've traveled to a lot of places with high concentration of OFWs. I've talked to many ambassadors around the world about them, have had firsthand exposure with many OFWs. I've heard their stories. I want to help."

Meanwhile, Sanchez believes the film is very relevant to the present times and he encourages Filipinos to watch it "because everyone has an OFW relative somewhere around the world somehow. This is the story of the Filipino worker. This is the story of the Filipino family. This is your story."

For inquiries, you may call 898-1440 to 41 / 898-1702 local 2133 / 0917-5778161 (SBS). – Rappler.com

High-caliber firearms found inside balikbayan box – Customs


MANILA, Philippines – Just months after the government made balikbayan boxes duty and tax-free, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) found high-caliber firearms smuggled to the country through one.

Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon revealed in a chance interview on Thursday, August 18, that the BOC uncovered several firearms inside a balikbayan box at the warehouse of Atlas Shippers International Incorporated (ASSI) at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

This came after the Customs Anti-Illegal Drugs Task Force (CAIDTF) got a tip about the balikbayan box on July 19.

In a press release, the BOC said the following were found inside the box:

  • 35 pieces trigger housing assembly 
  • 60 pieces upper receiver
  • 15 pieces batter spring lock
  • 10 pieces barrel assembly M16
  • 1 piece rail w/o barrel
  • 1 piece rail w/ M16 barrel w/ 1 piece suppresor
  • 15 pieces butt assembly (10 pieces black and 5 pieces gray)
  • 15 pieces buffer spring guide
  • 5 pieces quick detach sope mount
  • 2 pieces bottle opener

The balikbayan box, according to the statement, was sent by a certain Maiko Claridad from California, USA and was consigned to businessman Leo Mendieta of Bacolod City.

Authorities then monitored the shipping of the balikbayan box from the warehouse to Bacolod City and waited for the claimant.

Personnel of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) were able to arrest Mendieta, whose real name is Brian Ta-Ala, and his assistant Wilford Palma on August 6.

The suspects and the confiscated items are now under the custody of the CIDG. Mendieta and Palma will be charged for violating Republic Act 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act.

Faeldon, in the interview, also reminded the public not to abuse balikbayan box privileges. 

"Pabayaan n'yo na ang balikbayan boxes. Ito na ang privilege ng OFWs, pinasukan n'yo agad ng kalokohan," he quipped.

(Leave balikbayan boxes alone. It's a privilege for OFWs, and now you've abused it.) – Rappler.com

Filipinos, Malaysians in Kuala Lumpur hold concert in honor of Duterte


KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Around 250 Filipinos and Malaysians came together over the weekend of August 13 for a concert to celebrate the presidency of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Performances from the Filipino community headlined by Davao-born singer Kris Patt were featured at the concert. The event was organised by Marcus Francis, head of record label Melody United and Datuk George Gerald.

In his welcome remarks, Francis stressed their group’s admiration for the Philippines’ President. “There are hardcore supporters and admirers of President Duterte here in Malaysia, and we would like to collectively convey our support to and solidarity with the President,” he said.

Datuk Gerald meanwhile shared to some members of the audience that on their news blog, BestofBKL, news regarding the Philippine president is one of its most popular topics. The blog's airings of his speeches garner so many views from locals.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza (second from left) and Ambassador J. Eduardo Malaya (second from right) join concert organizers Marcus Francis (leftmost) and Datuk George Gerald (rightmost) and Davao-born Filipina singer Kris Patt (center) at testimonial concert to celebrate the presidency of Rodrigo Duterte. They all flash the iconic Duterte sign. Photo from the Philippine Embassy in KL

Also present at the event were high-ranking Philippine government officials, namely. Philippine Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza, Secretary for Interior and Local Government Ismael Sueño, Chair of the Implementing Panel for the Peace Process Irene Santiago, and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon. They were in Kuala Lumpur for the launch of the Implementing Panel for the Bangsamoro agreements.

Dureza was called to the stage to speak about Duterte and he shared funny anecdotes about their days as students. Dureza also received a two-foot high replica of the Petronas Twin Towers from the organisers and the Filipino community on behalf of Duterte.

Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia J. Eduardo Malaya, who was also at the event, lauded the organizers and the Filipino community for coming together to hold the event. He said it showed unity and fostered friendship among different nationalities.

“The enthusiasm of the attendees indicate that the priorities and programs of President Duterte resonate not only among Filipinos but also among Malaysians and other nationals,” Malaya said. 

“No Philippine leader has energized and electrified Filipinos and foreigners alike since Ramon Magsaysay in the 1950s, and we are fortunate to have a transformational leader now in the person of Rodrigo Duterte,” he added.

Overseas Absentee Voters in Malaysia voted overwhelmingly for Duterte in the recent elections. Out of the 3,055 voters, 2,275 were for Duterte, which was 74.46% of the total votes cast in Malaysia. - Rappler.com

Man born with no hands finds his 'hidden ability' in miniatures


RESILIENT. Andy Villaruel, a person with disability based in Dumaguete, works as a mini tricycle manufacturer.

DUMAGUETE CITY, Philippines – Things move slowly in a sleepy town in Dumaguete City. But for one man, slow, deliberate gestures are necessary to create the works of art he makes. 

Andy Villaruel, 24, intricately crafts tricycle miniatures and sells them for P2,000 each. They are a souvenir favorite among local and foreign tourists in the City of Gentle People

Villaruel and three other miniature makers take great pains to capture every detail.  But while it takes only a day for his fellow makers to make one tricycle, it takes Villaruel 4 days because he was born without hands and forearms. 

Andy’s story

Villaruel is from La Castellana, Negros Occidental – a six hour ride from Dumaguete City. 

More than a year ago, Julius Lusaya, who owns the shop that sells the miniatures, met Villaruel in La Castellana. 

Lusaya asked Villaruel to work for him. 

"Because at the start, I really wanted to be able to impart the things I discovered. When I thought about the people I wanted to impart it to, I thought, why not teach persons with disability (PWD)?  I really want them to have jobs as well,” Lusaya said. 

Lusaya only asked Villaruel two questions: whether he knows how to hammer and use scissors – before deciding to offer Villaruel the job on the fly. Lusaya also promised him free accommodation and food once he accepts the job. 

Despite reservations by his parents, Villaruel accepted the offer and travelled to Dumaguete. 

PWD in Dumaguete creates hand-crafted mini tricycles

NO LIMITS: Andy Villaruel crafts intricately-designed miniature tricycles despite having no hands and forearms.

Posted by Move.PH on Friday, August 19, 2016

Discrimination against PWDs 

For Villaruel, the opportunity to work was his chance to prove that he can do more than the limitations other people have set for him. 

"Gusto ko magtrabaho kasi gusto ko makatulong sa pamilya para mabuild up ang confidence at talent. Medyo nabuhayan ako ng pagasa na makatrabaho ule at makatulong sa pamilya,” Villaruel said. 

(I want to work because I want to help my family and build my confidence and talents. I was encouraged when I learned I will be able to work and help my family) 

Like many others like him, Villaruel could not find work because of his disability. He recalled how many potential employers would  hesitate to hire him solely because of his disability. 

In the Philippines, 16 out of a thousand people have a disability, based on the 2010 national census. 

According to the 2013 study conducted by Philippine Institute for Development Studies, a majority of PWDs in both rural and urban areas are considered to be engaged in "vulnerable employment" without formal or stable jobs. Most of the working PWDs are either self-employed or unpaid family workers.

"Some PWDs who are in paid employment are considered to be informally employed because they are working as temporary workers without formal contract, seasonal workers, and hired on a daily basis," the study added. 

EMPLOYED. Andy Villaruel poses with his employer, Julius Lusaya, with their finished products

Making a living 

This prevalent employent discrimination among PWDs did not stop Villaruel from proving that he can perform just as well as any abled worker. 

But learning the trade of making miniature tricycles did not come easy for him. It took him four months before he perfected making one tricycle. 

"Yung sa apat na buwan niya, mga reject trabaho niya. Okay lang kasi training lang naman yun eh. Hanggang unti-unti na siyang marunong na kaya gumagawa na siya ng kanya. Hindi ko na siya tinuturuan,” Lusaya said. 

(In his first four months, his works were rejected. It was okay since he was still undergoing training. Eventually, he learned to create a product by himself without any assistance.)

"Sa umpisa, medyo nahirapan ako paano padaliin ang trabaho mahirap pero sa pagtagal, naka-adjust na rin ako paano gawin at paano mapadali," Villaruel said. 

(At first, I had a hard time working on a product. Eventually, I was able to adjust and I learned how to make things easier for me.) 

To be able to finish a product, Villaruel uses both his upper arms and feet to hold on to his tools and materials. 

"Gagamitin ng soldering iron tapos ipag-dikit dikit at iporma siyang motor. I-bend gamit ang kamay sa paghawak ng tools, gamit din ang paa," said Villaruel as he described how he creates the small souvenir items. 

(I use the soldering iron to attach and form the motor. I also bend the materials using my arms and feet using the tools.)

 FINISHED PRODUCT. It takes four days for Andy Villaruel to finish a miniature tricycle

'Don't lose hope'

 Villaruel is proof that disabilities don't make PWDs less reliable at work. 

"Please support people like us with disabilities. [We should] help each other and help people with disabilities," Villaruel said.

He has this to say to other people with disabilities: "Let us not lost hope. We have hidden abilities that we just have to hone. But at the same time, to do this, we need other people’s support." – with reports from Therene Quijano, Nash Denver and Raymond Vincent Cutillar/Rappler.com 

Support Andy Villaruel and his co-makers by visiting their Facebook page. 

How solar panels helped Iloilo fishermen recover from Yolanda


GO SOLAR. Solar panels are placed outside the charging station in Barangay Bancal in Carles. The charging station's design can withstand extreme weather conditions. Photo by David Lozada

ILOILO, Philippines – Three years after his family experienced the wrath of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), Rommel Marcelino still finds it difficult to describe the tragedy.

“The experience scarred my family. It’s still hard to find the right words. My 6 kids were traumatized,” he said. 

The 41-year-old fisherman lives in Barangay Barosbos in Carles, the northern-most town of Iloilo province, and one of the areas hardest hit in November 2013.

“Our house was made of light materials, so we decided to stay in our neighbor’s house when the storm hit. We had to hide in the bathroom because it was the only concrete part of the house. It was a really difficult situation,” Marcelino recalled.

The typhoon not only took away their home but also their livelihood. In the aftermath of the typhoon, Marcelino and his fellow fisher folks found that their marine protected areas were destroyed. 

In Barangay Barosbos alone, more than 700 houses and 75 fishing boats were damaged by the storm surge. In nearby Barangay Bancal, more than 1,600 houses were destroyed.

The months that followed were not easier for fisherfolk. Aside from having to rebuild their homes and boats, those in Barosbos had do so with no electricity. 

“It took 3 months before electricity was restored in our area,” Marcelino, who is president of their association, recalled. 

Thankfully, though, they did not need to look far for their solution to their energy problems. 

‘Brighter world’

The BBMA, their organization, was one of the beneficiaries of solar panels that were distributed by the Iloilo Caucus of Development NGO Networks (Iloilo Code) and Christian Aid as part of the “Relief and Early Recovery” effort. 

“After the dialogue we conducted with different fisherfolk organizations in different barangays, we came up with this project. They were complaining about the high costs of electricity, especially after Yolanda. It made it difficult for them to financially recover,” Rosana Pandes, Iloilo Code community organizer, said. 

She added, “We provided support for the fisherfolk of the different villages of Carles by giving them solar charging stations.”

SUCCESS INDICATOR. Rosana Pandes of Iloilo CODE NGO says the project was a response to the needs of the fisher folks. Photo by David Lozada/ Rappler

Each solar charging station is built using a design that can withstand harsher weather conditions. It also houses 3 to 4 solar panels that can charge up to 4 automotive batteries a day, and power lights and small appliances. 

But giving help wasn’t easy, Pandes admitted. Some fishermen and barangay officials were initially opposed to the project because it competed with existing power businesses in the towns.

“We had to convince them that it was an opportunity for small fisherfolk to lessen their costs in charging their batteries. In case of blackouts, these charging stations will prove useful. Plus, the light it provides at night serves as a lighthouse of sorts for the fishermen – to guide them safely back to shore,” Pandes said. 

Help on income

In nearby Barangay Bancal in Carles, Agapito Dumaguin mans his organization’s solar charging station. The president of the Bancal Fishermen’s Association (BFA), Dumaguin said the charging station helps them save on costs they can use for the children’s education. 

“I am able to save P500 every week…. Plus, we no longer have to worry when we’re hit with blackouts because we can charge our batteries and phones. We no longer have power problems since this station was built,” the 56-year-old said.

The solar stations like the one in Barosbos and Bancal were left to fisherfolk organizations to manage. According to Dumaguin, they only ask P15 for charging so they have funds to use in case the solar panels get damaged. 

“Even those initially opposed to the idea are now charging here. We accept them, even those who aren’t part of our organization, because this was given for everyone’s use. Many people charge here now,” Dumaguin said. 

He added: “We’re really thankful for this project because it helps us small fishermen with our expenses. We don’t have to go to the town proper to charge our batteries and buy ice for the fish. We save a lot of our resources.”

RENEWABLE ENERGY. Fisherfolk in Carles town save a lot of money by charging their batteries and equipment in the solar charging stations. Photo by David Lozada/ Rappler

Marcelino echoed Dumaguin's sentiments, adding that the solar charging stations also help their organization’s income.

“We only ask for small donations because our source of power is free. Every donation is logged in in our records – cash in and cash out – for easier auditing. We use it to maintain our solar panels and other operational expenses,” Marcelino said. 

While the solar charging station was intended mainly to charge batteries for the use of patrol boats that guard the marine protected area, it also became useful for the household. “Our kids also benefit from this because it provided lighting at home which makes it easier for them to study at night,” added Marcelino. 

‘Community-driven, sustainable’

“The money they used to buy kerosene before is now used to buy rice and food. They don’t have to go far either to charge their equipment,” Pandes said on the impact of the project.

She said the project was successful because it answered a direct need of the communities.

“The communities themselves demanded and asked for this. It’s a community-driven project so they really take good care of the facilities given. Unlike other post-Yolanda projects, this wasn’t imposed on them,” Pandes said.

While the solar charging stations are already working in their partner barangays, Pandes said the long-term use and impact of the project now rests in the communities.  

“I hope our partners will sustain and maintain the projects so that, even when we’re gone, the facilities will still serve its purpose. We don’t want it to be intermittent. This is for their future,” Pandes said. 

STILL RECOVERING. Rommel Marcelino of Barangay Barosbos in Carles, Iloilo says life will never be the same after Yolanda. Photo by David Lozada/ Rappler

Life will never be the same after Yolanda, Marcelino admitted. But help like the solar charging stations made it easier for the fishermen of Carles to get back on their feet.

“We were able to recover faster because of help like this from NGOs and private individuals. We didn't have any livelihood after the storm, but they helped us rebuild our houses and our boats,” Marcelino said. 

The fishermen of Barosbos and Bancal continue to rebuild their lives. But now, they no longer have to endure the darkness. With the solar panels, life for them is brighter – and they hope it continues to be. – Rappler.com

This is part of a series of stories on Iloilo Code NGOs and Christian Aid's post-Yolanda project "Rebuilding for the Better." From August 9 to 11, a team from the organizations took MovePH to the rehabilitation sites in northern Iloilo to evaluate and document the completion of the project. The rehabilitation project covers 4 themes: renewable energy, shelter, coastal management, and livelihood.

Filipino aid worker remembers ordeal in South Sudan attack


UNDER INVESTIGATION. Peacekeepers of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) patrol the area around the UNMISS compound at UN House Jebel in Juba, South Sudan, July 15, 2016. UN Photo/Eric Kanalstein

MANILA, Philippines – It was the longest 4 hours of his life.

On July 11, Giano Libot, a Filipino humanitarian worker based in South Sudan, was on the receiving end of the attack by South Sudanese soldiers.

Coming on the heels of their victory over opposition forces on that day, the South Sudanese troops went on a nearly 4-hour rampage at the Hotel Terrain, a “safe house” where Libot and other aid workers were staying. The attack, it seemed, was the soldiers' way of celebrating. 

Groups have tagged the incident as one of the worst targeted attacks on aid workers in South Sudan's 3-year civil war, which started in December 2013, following rumors that Vice President Riek Machar was attempting a coup.

In a phone interview with Rappler, Libot said that the attack started around 4 pm, at a time when they thought they were safe from the ongoing fight in Juba, South Sudan’s capital.

“Armed men stormed the place we called home. They broke open the gates, and proceeded [with] what would best be described as a trail of destruction,” Libot said.

The aid workers attempted to contact the nearby United Nations base for rescue before the soldiers broke into the house. Their desperate calls for help – channeled through messages, emails, and even Facebook – were reportedly ignored, however.  

Under the bed

Libot hid under a bed with the view of the assailants’ feet. 

“It was then at this point that I spent two long horrific hours of just seeing the feet of our assailants as they finally broke in the safe house and started harassing, shouting [at], and threatening everyone they saw inside,” Libot said.

He was eventually discovered as soldiers started looking underneath the bed for more items to loot. A rifle immediately greeted him. He knew too well that if he resisted, he was going to die.

UNDER THE BED. This is the view of Filipino aid worker Giano Libot when he hid under the bed as South Sudanese troops attacked their safe house. Photo from Giano Libot

“I crawled out as fast as I could and just surrendered, I was immediately greeted by a strong whack from the soldiers rifle,” Libot said.

They asked if he wanted to die. He said no. Libot negotiated with the soldiers and told them he could look for more items he could give them.

According to the Filipino aid worker, one of the troops ranted against foreigners and declared hatred against the United States. Libot said soldiers were shouting: “You messed up this country. You're helping the rebels. The people in the UN, they're helping the rebels."

The troops continued firing recklessly, shouting, and assaulting the aid workers and the safe house staff.


“After getting some items for the soldiers inside the room, I found myself in the hallway of the safe house, where I rejoined a few more colleagues. The harassment continued, as we were instructed to kneel while some of the soldiers fiercely kept banging on the remaining locked doors,” Libot recounted.

At 6 pm, despite South Sudan's President Salva Kiir declaration of a ceasefire, the soldiers forced the foreigners to stand in a semi-circle.

John Gatluak was pulled out from the group. Gatluak is a South Sudanese journalist who worked for Internews, a media development organization funded by USAID. The scars on his forehead marked him as a member of the Nuer tribe, the same tribe as opposition leader Riek Machar.

Even as he was slumped on the ground, soldiers continued to shoot at him. 

Referring to Gatluak’s death, Libot said: “I witnessed the massacre of a colleague…. It was in many ways [part of] genocide, crime of ethnic hatred.”

How they survived

At past 7 pm South Sudanese security forces finally reached the place and rescued all but 3 Western women – who were reportedly raped – and around 16 other Hotel Terrain staff members.

According to reports, it was only the next morning that a private security firm rescued them.

Human Rights Watch said, “The peacekeepers did not venture out of the bases to protect civilians under imminent threat even after the ceasefire.”

UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon said in a statement that they had launched an independent special investigation “to determine the circumstances surrounding these incidents and to evaluate the UN Mission’s overall response.”

“During the fighting throughout the city, the US embassy in South Sudan responded to distress calls from the compound and urgently contacted South Sudanese government officials, who sent a response force to the site to stop the attack,” said Samantha Power, US Ambassador to the United Nations.

Power also expressed their concern that “United Nations peacekeepers were apparently either incapable of or unwilling to respond to calls for help.”

Recover and return

More than a month since the attack, Libot still struggles to retell their story.

“I hope to not retell the tale, but I also know that, surviving the ordeal, I have a moral obligation to honor the death of our colleague John,” Libot said.

He is back in the Philippines.

FIELDWORK. After recovering from his ordeal, Giano Libot plans to return to humanitarian work to continue helping others. Photo from Giano Libot

Libot worked in South Sudan for more than a year. In his line of work, he focused on the field of humanitarian accountability, which looks at whether humanitarian programs conform to international community standards.

He was swayed into humanitarian work by chance.

I initially worked with an UN-type organization in the field of disaster response. It was just a desire to help in whatever way. I started during the Bohol earthquake, where I was a staff and helped out in many different capacities,” Libot said.

After giving himself time to recover from his South Sudan experience, he plans to return to humanitarian work. He said the harrowing ordeal, no matter how horrific, did not quell his passion to actively make small ripples of change. The fire is still burning, he added. 

I don't have misplaced expectations about what we do. We try to help and I know that no matter how hard we work we can't change everything. The thing that keeps me going though is just this simple conviction that at least with whatever effort we can give, we make what is a horrible situation at least become manageable,” Libot said. – Rappler.com

Giano Libot is a Mover and was an intern at Rappler.

FilAms rip Trump for 'hateful' statements


DONALD TRUMP. US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures as he speaks at the Sheraton in West Des Moines, Iowa, USA, 01 February, 2016. File photo by John Taggart/EPA

SAN FRANCISCO, United States – Rob Bonta takes pride in breaking the racial barrier in the California State Legislature in 2012 when he became the first, and still the lone, Filipino American elected to the State Assembly.

The former deputy city attorney with the city and county of San Francisco was born in Quezon City, Philippines. His parents brought him to this country and raised him to fight for the underserved and champion social justice. 

So it’s understandable that he takes offense to vilification of his birth country and his people there and here.

Bonta is among Filipino Americans who have joined the rising tide of enemies GOP presidential standard bearer Donald Trump seems to be making daily with his campaign pronouncements.  

In yet another rant against one of his favorite subjects, Trump last week urged ideology tests for immigrants to weed out potential enemies of the state and protect the national security of the United States. 

“We are letting people come in from terrorist nations that shouldn’t be allowed because you can’t vet them,” Trump contended earlier in a recent stump in Portland, Maine, where he proposed banning immigration from specific nations. “You have no idea who they are. This could be the great Trojan horse of all time.”

Trump lumped the Philippines along with Afghanistan, Iraq, Morocco, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, Uzbekistan, and Yemen – home countries of immigrants convicted of plotting attacks on American soil. One of those was Ralph Kenneth de Leon of Ontario, Los Angeles County, convicted in 2012 with 3 others for allegedly planning to join the Taliban and Al Qaeda to engage in terrorism against the United States. De Leon, then 25, was a legal US resident and Philippine national.

“We’re dealing with animals here,” Trump lashed out.

Bonta found the “sweeping statements that characterize an entire nation...divisive and hateful…a direct attack on the Filipino community.” 

“It’s a really important issue for the Filipino American community to focus on,” said the Alameda County representative and chair of the Assembly Public Employees, Retirement, and Social Security Committee.

The blanket accusation insulted FilAms of various backgrounds across the US, some firing back at the offender, others belittling him and his statements as proof he is unfit for the job he covets, and encouraged responding on their ballot in November.

"Trump puts an exclamation point on his ignorance as he disregards over a century of relations between the US and the Philippines, a country that has been and continues to be one of our nation’s closest allies in that region,” Jersey City, New Jersey Council President Rolando Lavarro, the son of doctors who immigrated from the Philippines, blasted the billionaire.

First-generation Filipino American, Lourdes Astraquillo Ongkeko took the high road.  

“Nothing should be treated seriously in reference to the Trump policy proposal,” said the acknowledged grand dame of the FilAm community in Southern California.

Trump’s anti-immigrant invectives “evidently are loud testimonials to the overall surging criticism by many of his fellow Republicans who have denounced him that he has ‘done nothing right by traditional standards,’” said Ongkeko, who taught journalism at the University of Southern California. 

She noted that the GOP bet “has ‘picked fights’ with well-known Republican leaders who ably served the country in the positions they have been elected to” like Arizona Senator John McCain, whose experience as a POW in Vietnam Trump questioned. 

Ongkeko, mother to Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ralph Ongkeko, reminded of 50 Republican officials, “many of them former top aides or Cabinet members for President George W. Bush, (who) affixed their signatures on a letter that Donald J. Trump, ‘lacks the character, values and experience’ to be president" and “would put at a risk our country’s national security and well-being.”

She echoed the“stern note” by the distanced GOP officials: “Trump would be the most reckless president in American history.”

Norberto Jo Jo Reyes, a aetired attorney in Los Angeles, said Trump’s recommendation reveals lack of education.  

“Trump is talking about eliminating or severely restricting immigration from countries with terrorist strongholds: Well, this would include the US, Great Britain, Belgium, Germany and many of our allies around the world. Trump himself couldn't enter the US based on his own requirements. He needs to study basic world history and current events.”

NFALA (National Filipino American Lawyers Association) Regional Governor Robert Uy took a contemplative stance, calling Trump’s statement “another example of the dangerous anti-immigrant rhetoric he has espoused in the past.” Uy defined the candidate as a “demagogue the likes of which the world has seen during the rise of fascism and during World War II.” 

The South San Francisco resident depicted consequences of inflammatory rhetoric.

“This has incited violence against the Jews, Irish, Japanese, Catholics and a panoply of other social, religious, and ethnic groups,” said Uy. “This type of rhetoric has led to atrocities such as the Holocaust, the Japanese internment in the US, and genocide. 

The Millennial bristled at the reference to “our kababayan and those from other countries” as "animals." 

“No responsible Filipino should vote for Trump,” he urged. “We should encourage all members our community to use our ability to vote to install leaders who will espouse democratic ideals and will promote civil and political rights for all.” 

Bataan Legacy Historical Society founder and executive director Cecilia Gaerlan shared the view.

“Clearly Trump suffers from a psychological disorder not unlike that of Hitler's,” said the leader of efforts to teach California children about the Filipino soldiers with the United States Army Forces in the Far East. “He should probably go back to Grade 11 so that he can learn about the sacrifices of the Filipinos during WWII. God help us all if he wins.”

Cota Yabut, art educator and former vice president of the University of the Philippines Alumni Association – Berkeley Chapter, said she is tired of hearing the candidate’s hateful speech and hopes his supporters eventually do too.

“We have to keep our distance,” said the resident of Hayward, California. “I hope the crowd following him will wake up and dissociate themselves-ASAP.”

Realtor Corin Ramos of Reno, Nevada, did not appreciate the “fear mongering, race-hate-baiting statements.”  

“Filipino immigrants and Filipino Americans are among the most law-abiding and loyal Americans who love this country, maybe even more than Trump because we sacrificed much to be here,” said Ramos, who arrived in the US as a toddler with her engineer father. – Rappler.com

San Francisco Bay Area-based Rappler contributor Cherie M. Querol Moreno is editor-at-large of FilAm publications Philippine News and columnist of Philippines Today US.

Are you an OFW? Join Rappler's online community, BalikBayan.


6 ways Brexit will affect Filipinos in UK


Almost 3 months have passed since the monumental referendum in which the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union (EU), shocking not only the City of London but the rest of the global investing community – where the largest companies have been losing more than $200 billion in days.

There is still plenty of continuing uncertainty until a UK-wide approach is finalized before (if?) Article 50 – the part of the Lisbon Treaty covering the exit of a country from the EU – is triggered.

We also saw the end of David Cameron’s reign and, after a bit of House of Cards-style politics which would make Frank Underwood proud, the new Prime Minister Theresa May came into power along with her new Cabinet.  It may not be long before the term Brexit gets added to the dictionary.

Let us look at the impact of this extraordinary event on the estimated 300,000 Filipinos living in the UK:


Unsurprisingly, with the devaluation of the Sterling Pound, the value of remittances to the Philippines is one of the hardest hit and will continue to be the case for the foreseeable future – it was not long ago, May 16, 2005 to be exact, when one got PHP100 for a humble pound!

With the exchange rate dropping by more than 10% from PHP 67.94 just before the Vote on June to PHP60.80, the peso equivalent of a £500 remittance will now be lower by approximately PHP 4,000.  This will translate to around PHP 50,000 over 12 months (assuming exchange rates stay at the current rates). 

This ‘loss’ in the value of the remittance could have been used for other expenditures in the Philippines such as school fees or could have been used just in time for the holidays.

Cost of vacations

Much like the cost of travel to the Philippines being more expensive as a result of Brexit, it’s not looking good for holiday plans for the Filipinos in the UK either – the Eiffel Tower might have to wait a bit longer along with the shopping trip to Milan – as traveling anywhere else outside of the UK will cost more.

A $3,000 trip across the pond to New York will now set you back by almost £300 more.

In fact, there have been instances of cancelled holiday plans for some unlucky souls. However, those who managed to book their plane tickets and accommodation and buy their US Dollars in advance, were rewarded generously.

On the flip side, Brexit has made it a lot cheaper for people to visit the UK so it is a great time to encourage family and friends to visit and join you perhaps for a staycation in the mainland or the Channel Islands, which has now become an even more compelling holiday option.

Interest rates

As anticipated by many, the Bank of England has further reduced the base rates to 0.25% (from the previous 0.5%, which has been the standing rate since March 2009). While the continuing low interest environment is great for keeping the monthly mortgage payments low for homeowners, it may still be worth exploring the market for even better deals. The losers from this, as we know, are the savers and the pensioners.


One of the cornerstones of the Brexit win was having more control over immigration.  Many in the community are hoping that a points (merits) based immigration system may be more favorable to qualified Filipinos.

At this stage, however, it is not expected to have a significant impact even after the UK leaves the EU as it is likely that as part of the negotiations, more points may be given to EU nationals.

House prices

The largest accountancy firm in the UK, PwC, is predicting a drop in house prices in its recently published analysis. It calculates that prices could be down by £17,000 – equivalent to 8% of the average house prices in the UK – in 2018 as a result of Brexit. In a country passionate (interpreted as obsessed by others) about home ownership, this is no good news at all.  

The slowdown will have varying degrees of impact across the country with London, particularly around central London, being the hardest hit given the reliance on international investors where properties are expected to be £60,000 lower than they would have been otherwise.  

To the cautious, any plans to sell might have to be held off at least until next year. However for the brave, this may be present excellent buying opportunities. The devaluation of the pound will continue to provide interesting investment opportunities for overseas investors to buy UK assets, including central London property, at their current discounted levels.


PwC has also forecast a slowdown in GDP growth for the next few years, with a forecast GDP growth of 1.6% for 2016 followed by an estimated growth for 2017 of between 1.5% and -1%.  While this is not great when compared to the GDP growth of 2.2% in 2015 and 2.9% in 2014, it is safe to say that it could have been a lot worse, and Brexit is not anticipated to be catastrophic like the 2008 financial crisis. Understandably, this is a result of the anticipated fall in business investments in light of the ongoing uncertainty about trade as all-important reviews and negotiations start to take place.

The slowdown is expected to reduce investor confidence in going into or expanding their current businesses, which in turn results to weakening of job prospects and lesser appetite to hand out generous bonuses and salary increases. Nonetheless there is still plenty of opportunity for entrepreneurs with the right attitude and correct approach.

The Bank of England – the UK's central bank – has announced a series of measures to help counter the decline in house prices and weakening of the UK economy, and to prevent the economy from spiralling downwards into a recession. The key one is the reduction of the base interest rate after 7 years. For business as well as households with tracker mortgages and a monthly income of around £1,200, this will result to an annual savings of around £400, which the economists hope will be spent back into the economy.

On the other hand, this could lower the income for asset-owning households which have investments in bonds and other fixed income products.  It may also mean reduced payments for pensioners, whose pots are generally tied up to relatively lower risk, income generating assets.

Onwards and upwards

With the new leadership in place, there is now a more positive vibe in London. A lot of people have come to terms with the result and are now keen to make the most out of the situation. Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, led the launching of the #LondonIsOpen social media campaign as a signal to the world that London continues to be the world leading city full of opportunities for investors and visitors alike.

Confidence is picking up with significant corporate transactions happening led by £24.3B takeover of British tech giant Arms Holdings – which is the third largest global M&A announced so far this year and the biggest UK technology deal of all time according to Dealogic – and US banking giant Wells Fargo signing a £300M deal for a brand new London Headquarters, in the heart of the City.  

It would be interesting to see the launch of the formal negotiations with our continental European friends, which will likely start gaining traction in the last quarter of 2016 or even delayed further into early 2017 as the world awaits the result of the Clinton-Trump showdown in the US. – Rappler.com

John Sio is a UK-recognised chartered accountant with more than 10 years of experience. 

He co-founded Castle Consulting Group Limited, a UK-based and Filipino owned consulting firm that provides growing businesses access to quality, value-adding and customer-focused business advice. 

You may contact him via email john.sio@castlelimited.com or you may also follow them on Facebook.

‘Guardians of the sea’: The fisherfolk of northern Iloilo


ILLEGAL. Fishermen in Barangay Poblacion, Carles town haul illegal fishing nets they caught on patrol. Photo by David Lozada/ Rappler

ILOILO, Philippines – Fisherman Ricky dela Cruz fixes his boat before the sun sets in northern Iloilo. He is preparing to set sail with his fellow fisherfolk from Barangay Punta Bolocawe in Carles town. 

But today, dela Cruz is not sailing to catch fish. He is on duty to guard the seas.

Dela Cruz is the president of the fisherfolk association of Barangay Punta Bolocawe, and one of the 37 “bantay-dagat” (sea guardians) in the village. They guard a 700-hectare marine protected area (MPA) near their coastal village.

“Every 5 pm, 6 of us leave shore to patrol the seas. If we don’t catch any illegal fishers, we can go home at around 8 or 9 pm. Some of our fishermen leave again at midnight to catch fish for our own livelihood,” the 47-year-old said.

He added: “We don’t have any fixed schedule because we’re always on call. Whenever we get calls that illegal fishermen enter our MPA, we automatically mobilize to protect our area.”

According to deal Cruz, the most common illegal fishing method they catch are those who use trolling, a method of fishing where one or more fishing lines are drawn to the water.

“We know that they are fishing in our MPAs because we have markers. We also catch a lot of those who dive at night and use cyanide poison. We see them because they use flashlights under water. We catch a lot of these crooks and bring them to the authorities,” he added.

Illegal fishing in Iloilo

Punta Bolocawe is only one of the many villages in northern Iloilo where illegal fishing is destroying the livelihood of small fisherfolk.

According to Rosana Pandes, community organizer of the Iloilo Caucus of Development NGOs Network (Iloilo CODE), illegal fishing has been plaguing the area for the past decade.

“If you are a small fisherman who only use a pump boat, you really have to go far so you can catch enough fish. It takes them more than 12 hours to catch enough fish, typically from 2 am to 4 pm, because the coral reefs have already been destroyed due to illegal fishing,” Pandes said. 

Pandes added that the problem is worsened by the loose implementation of our fishery laws. 

“Fisherfolk from other provinces also intrude in our areas. They usually use the excuses that they are not informed that what they’re doing is illegal in this province or that they don’t know that they’re fishing in an MPA,” Pandes noted. 

This is why Iloilo CODE came up with a solution to empower the fisherfolk of Iloilo’s northern towns to guard their own seas. 

Volunteer guardians

DUTY. Ricky Dela Cruz prepares his boat to patrol the marine protected area of Barangay Punta Bolocawe in Carles, Iloilo. Photo by David Lozada/ Rappler

Iloilo CODE helped fisherfolk in different barangays in Carles and surrounding towns create associations so they can better take care of their environment. The organization also helped the communities establish MPAs and artificial reefs. (READ: How solar panels helped Iloilo fishermen recover from Yolanda)

“Once they become part of the community organizations, they automatically become sea guardian volunteers. Then, we facilitate training to orient them about fishery laws so they have the needed background knowledge,” Pandes said.

The artificial reefs was the first project created by the organization to repopulate parts of the sea that were destroyed by illegal fishing. But Pandes said it was not enough. 

“We really need community volunteers to protect MPAs in their villages. Without them, we cannot sustain the reefs because illegal fishers would just go back and destroy,” she added.

The implementation is not easy, Pandes admitted, because there were a lot of challenges even from the government side. 

“Political affiliation is sometimes a problem. Because when we catch some illegal fishers, they’ll insist that they be given reprieve because they know this politician. It discourages our communities because after all the effort they give, some illegal fishers get to go free because of some local government official,” Pandes lamented. 

To add to these problems, Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) hit Iloilo in 2013.

Rising from Yolanda

Every time the sky grows dark and the wind gives a loud howl, Martin Zambales of Barangay Poblacion in Carles remembers how their house was torn to pieces by the storm surge brought by Yolanda.

“All we were able to do, after we evacuated to a higher ground, was to pray. We saw from afar how our house was torn because it was right by the sea,” Zambales said. 

After the storm, Zambales, who is the president of Poblacion’s fisherfolk association, saw the extent of the damage to his village’s livelihood. 

“A lot of people were really affected. I thought it would take us years before we can recover because all our boats were destroyed. We’re thankful that some NGOs came and gave us relief and new boats,” Zambales recalled.

Iloilo CODE saw opportunity to expand their bantay-dagat program after Yolanda. With the support of Christian Aid, they donated patrol boats to their partner communities like Punta Bolocawe and Poblacion. 

MEMORIES OF YOLANDA. Martin Zambales of Barangay Poblacion still remembers how the super typhoon battered their village in November 2013. Photo by David Lozada/ Rappler

“We saw the opportunity with Christian Aid to expand and replicate this effort to other communities because we saw it had a very positive impact,” Pandes said.

Zambales noted: “We’re really grateful that Iloilo CODE and Christian Aid gave us these boats to patrol the seas again and these artificial reefs to help repopulate the fish. Our lives are back to normal now and we don’t have to go far to catch our fill for the day.”

Bigger catch

The efforts of the sea guardians of Carles have proven effective, as dela Cruz says cases of illegal fishing have gone down.

“Daytime illegal fishing have decreased 100% and nighttime illegal fishing by 75%. It’s harder to monitor at night because we only bring 2-way radios when were patrolling so we’re afraid. We just call the police for assistance when there’s an emergency,” dela Cruz said.

For Pandes, the local governments need to do their part in protecting the seas and the communities.

“We need stricter implementation of our laws. We also need to strengthen our partner organizations in the villages because they are the most affected. If they are the most affected, they will be encouraged to guard their areas,” she said.

There is more to be done before the seas of northern Iloilo are secured from illegal fishing but the guardians of Carles will continue to do their part in protecting their sources of livelihood. 

“The local government, communities and other organizations need to unite to strengthen those who are most affected. Everyone has to do their share in protecting our seas,” Pandes concluded. – Rappler.com

This is part of a series of stories on Iloilo CODE and Christian Aid's post-Yolanda project "Rebuilding for the Better." From August 9 to 11, a team from the organizations took MovePH to the rehabilitation sites in northern Iloilo to evaluate and document the completion of the project. The rehabilitation project covers 4 themes: renewable energy, shelter, coastal management, and livelihood. Check out the other stories here:

In barong tagalog, Trudeau touts multiculturalism at Fil-Canadian fest


PINOY BARBECUE. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (2nd from right) helps in grilling barbecue at the Taste of Manila event in Toronto, Canada, August 20, 2016. Photo courtesy Trudeau's official page on Facebook

MANILA, Philippines – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau emphasized the importance of Canada's cultural diversity at a gathering of Filipino Canadians in Toronto Saturday, August 20 – wearing a barong tagalog, no less.

Trudeau joined the Taste of Manila event held in Toronto on Saturday, where he spoke about multiculturalism being a "source of strength" for Canadian society.

"We all understand that our differences are a source of strength, not a source of weakness. When we learn from our neighbors, when we get to know different cultures and different stories and different backgrounds, our communities get richer, our communities get stronger, and the future that we build for our kids gets better and better," he told the crowd gathered.

In a series of photos posted on Trudeau's official Facebook page, the Prime Minister is shown joining in the festivities, mingling and taking photos with the crowd.



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The barong tagalog he wore to the Toronto event was the same one he wore during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit held in Manila last November 2015.

He also tried his hand on the grill, helping prepare barbecue at one of the booths.

The Filipino Canadian community is the third largest group of Asian immigrants in Canada, according to the 2011 National Household Survey.

Ontario, where Toronto is located, is home to 204,035 Filipino Canadians, based on the 2011 survey. – Rappler.com