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Project MOVE: Filipino youth and entrepreneurship


MANILA, Philippines – What kinds of entrepreneurship opportunities are available to young Filipinos? How can we harness technology to jumpstart entrepreneurship ideas?

These questions will be tackled on Sunday, August 21, to celebrate World Entrepreneurship Day as MovePH relaunches Project MOVE.


Project MOVE is a regular online discussion that talks about different issues and advocacies concerning various sectors, particularly the youth. Project MOVE will feature different partner student organizations and non-government organizations (NGOs) from its MovePH Network community as hosts and guests.

The series kicks off with an episode on Filipino youth and entrepreneurship, hosted by DZUP Radio Circle member Sofia Galve. Guests include Ramon Gonzales of UP Junior Executive Society, Kevin Cuevas of UPLB Enactus, and Patrick Manuel of The Entrepreneurship Club of FEU.

Gonazales, Cuevas, and Manuel will share their experience as young entrepreneurship advocates and the projects and entreprises of each of their student organizations. 

Catch the first episode on Sunday, August 21, at 3 pm. – Rappler.com 

Do you know how to apply for a driver's license?


MANILA, Philippines – If there are "fixers" offering faster transactions left and right, would you be tempted to give in?

"Fixers" are said to be common at the Land Transportation Office (LTO), which is often tagged as one of the most corrupt government agencies in the Philippines.

The applicant will be spared from long lines and hours of waiting for his or her driver's license, but it won't come cheap. (READ: The fixing business at LTO)

In the 2014/2015 survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS), the LTO was rated poor at -26 in its sincerity to fight corruption. It used to be "bad" in the previous year, rated 6 notches lower at -32.


<iframe src="//e.infogr.am/448148cb-3ad8-4b5a-a21e-b0a3f9bd7db2?src=embed" title="LTO Sincerity Rating in Fighting corruption" width="100%" height="495" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" style="border:none;"></iframe>



President Rodrigo Duterte recently vowed to be harsher against corrupt government officials and employees, especially those at the LTO. He reiterated this on Sunday, August 21, and demanded that appointed officials leave their posts.

As a citizen, here's how you can properly get a driver's license – and avoid falling prey to "fixers" that help breed corruption.

Applying for a driver's license

A driver's license is an official government document authorizing an individual to drive a motor vehicle in the Philippines.

The LTO issues 3 types of driver's licenses:

  1. Student permit
  2. Non-professional driver's license
  3. Professional driver's license

You can apply at any licensing center or district office that issues new driver's licenses.

Student Permit

A student permit is a prerequisite document when applying for a driver's license. Take note that this document authorizes the holder to drive only when accompanied by a licensed driver.

To apply for one, the applicant must be at least 17 years old as well as physically and mentally capable of driving a motor vehicle. The LTO also requires the applicant to know how to read and write in Filipino or English.

When applying for a student permit, here's what you need to bring:

  1. Original copy and photocopy of birth certificate
  2. Accomplished application form for driver's license – You can download the form here.
  3. If already employed: Tax Identification Number (TIN)

Once you have all of the requirements, you can now submit your documents to the LTO:

  1. Queue number. Go to the Customer Service Counter to get your checklist of requirements and your queue number. If you have not accomplished the Driver's License application form, you can ask for a copy at the counter.
  2. Submit requirements. Once your number is called, go to the evaluator counter and submit all the required documents to have it checked for completeness and authenticity.
  3. Photo taking. When your name is called, follow where your photo and signature will be taken.
  4. Pay fees. Go to the cashier to pay the fees and make sure to get the official receipt.
  5. Claim permit. Proceed to the releasing counter with the OR and claim your permit.

Here's how much you should be paying:

LTO Fees and Charges
Student Permit FeeP150.00
Application FeeP100.00
Computer FeeP67.63


Non-professional and professional driver's licenses

The applicant must be at least 18 years old, physically and mentally fit to operate a motor vehicle, and knows how to read and write in Filipino or English.

Bring the following documents when applying:

  1. Accomplished application form for driver's license – You can download the form here.
  2. Valid student permit at least one month old
  3. Medical certificate – It must be with an official receipt from any duly licensed and practicing physician. Take note as well that the LTO does not accept medical certificates which are over 15 days old.
  4. Negative drug test result. It must be from a DOH-accredited drug testing center or a government hospital.
  5. Passing marks for the written and practical examinations
  6. If employed: Tax Identification Number (TIN)
  7. If applying for a professional driver's license:
    1. NBI or police or court clearance
    2. In case of heavy vehicles: bring a valid non-professional driver's license for at least one year prior to application or a valid professional driver's license to operate light vehicles for at least 6 months.

Bring all the required documents to the LTO and follow the procedures:

  1. Queue number. Go to the Customer Service Counter to get your checklist of requirements and your queue number. If you have not accomplished the Driver's License application form, you can ask for a copy at the counter.
  2. Submit requirements. Once your number is called, go to the evaluator counter and submit all the required documents to have it checked for completeness and authenticity.
  3. Photo taking. When your name is called, follow where your photo and signature will be taken.
  4. Pay for the application fee.
  5. Take the written test. Go to the examination room for the lecture and written exam.
  6. Take the practical driving test. After passing the written test, wait for your name to be called for the practical test.
  7. Pay for the rest of the fees. After passing the practical test, proceed to the cashier to pay for other necessary fees (license fee and computer fee). Make sure to get your official receipt.
  8. Claim permit. Proceed to the releasing counter with the OR and claim your permit.

Here's how much you should expect to pay:

LTO Fees and Charges
First Cashier Payment (Step 4)
Application FeeP100.00
Computer FeeP67.63
Second Cashier Payment (Step 7)
License FeeP350.00
Computer FeeP67.63


Applicants who failed the Basic Driving Theory test and/or the practical driving test twice will not be allowed to apply within a period of one year.

If you took the test for the third time and failed, you have to wait another two years to be able to apply again. – Rappler.com

Source: Land Transportation Office

Do you think this is helpful? Let us know in the comments which other government processes you want to learn more about.

Have you ever been asked for a bribe? E-mail details to notonmywatch@rappler.com. It will help if you send supporting documents and contact information so we can reach you in case we need more details.

Encourage your friends to join and become integrity champions by sharing this link on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #NotOnMyWatch.

Would you like to volunteer? Sign up via fightcorruption.ph.

Why the Olympics makes me feel like an alien


A girl dressed in skin-tight fabric wobbles on a beam no wider than her palm. She somersaults and lands firmly on the narrow plank like a cat thrown from a balcony. The grace of her movements belies the tension on her face and the tightness of her muscles. She’s adroit in the craft but appears slightly uncomfortable throughout the entire routine. She does one last handstand before dismounting onto the floor. She runs towards a man who looks pleased with her performance. She smiles, thinking she’s finally mastered the art of balancing. 

Maybe tomorrow she’ll do it on a barbeque stick over a piranha tank. 

This was how my mind tried to make sense of gymnastics the first time I ever saw the Olympics on television as a kid. I felt like an alien trying to comprehend something bizarre yet obviously revered by many, judging from the crowd’s thunderous applause. But all I could think of was, what planet am I on?

It was the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles and my family and I happened to be there for a holiday, in the middle of all the frenzy. It would be easy to think that we flew seven thousand miles from the Philippines to the West Coast of the Unites States to witness such a global event, but the truth was that we were there to shop, particularly for an Atari and cushioned toilet seats.

We flew for sixteen hours across the Pacific Ocean to purchase a video gaming console and a seat that made you want to stay in the toilet forever. There was no denying that I belonged to a household that valued sitting more than somersaulting from a springboard. Sports wasn’t our thing. So while everyone else was glued to their television screens at home, in restaurants, and even in shopping centers, rooting for their favorite teams, I stood with my mouth agape at almost every sports program I saw while hugging a Sam the Olympic Eagle stuffed toy, that year’s official mascot.

As if California wasn’t outlandish enough for a child from Manila, I had all this Olympic madness to grapple with. I could’ve been in Jupiter and not know the difference.    

As though, suddenly, all the sports I never knew existed came crawling out of the woodwork like beasts from the underworld out to get a whiff of surface air once every four years and eat children like me who knew next to nothing about sports. At the time, my limited idea of sports mainly revolved around the familiar basketball, volleyball, soccer, and swimming. They were like fuzzy monsters I didn’t completely understand, but at least was familiar with. 

One of the unfamiliar ones was boxing. I was dumbfounded the first time I saw two men punching each other with oversized gloves on a platform like a couple of misbehaving toddlers in a playpen. All that blood for a tacky gold belt? My mind searched for answers. What planet am I on? 

Flashbacks of that first boxing match flooded my memory, as I stood wide-eyed in my aunt’s American kitchen watching one Olympic event after another. It felt like being introduced to hideous new monsters all in one go. I was enthralled and horrified at the same time, like watching a nature program featuring a giant spider eating a chihuahua. 

Despite the day’s extra serving of oddity, nothing prepared me for what I saw next—synchronized swimming. It was so out of this world, I expected the swimmers to get beamed up to a flying saucer after their performance. My young brain almost exploded just trying to process its strangeness.

I thought that the synchronized swimmers looked like emotionally-disturbed women smiling and blinking underwater with legs for arms, behaving like Martians giddy with joy for finally finding the water they lost on their planet. I wondered what made one aspire to be a synchronized swimmer; if they’ve always had the urge to swim around the pool going nowhere, spending sixty percent of the time underwater with their legs up in the air. I also wondered whether they were former competitive swimmers who cracked under pressure (or been exposed to too much chlorine). 

My first exposure to the Olympics as a critically-thinking child certainly left an impression on me, much deeper than the ass marks made by long jumpers on what looked to me like a kindergarten sand box. Whatever their origin, these athletic games helped shape my early opinion about sports – utterly strange. 

Survival of the fittest 

Sports is just one of the many human activities I find peculiar. I understand that most of them were designed to display speed, precision, flexibility, strength, and endurance.

But what exactly is our obsession with displaying speed, precision, flexibility, strength, and endurance? This need to showcase such extraordinary abilities must’ve come from our prehistoric genes, back when finding the right mate meant finding one who could actually outrun a hungry saber-toothed tiger. Such displays of agility back then probably meant proving one’s ability to stay alive long enough to raise a family, rather than competing to be the best in one’s age division for the sake of being number one. “Calling kids aged five to seven, it’s your turn to wrestle a crocodile!” Back then there was no such thing as sore losers – only dead ones. 

This theory doesn’t quite explain synchronized swimming though. Could acting demented be an effective survival tactic? Do some shark species have a natural aversion to underwater acrobatics? I’m not sure. I haven’t actually tried hurling a shark into a pool with these crazy swimmers, tempting as it may sound. Would they still have the same plastered smile while being chewed to pieces? 

When we were back in Manila, I was eager to finally find out what all the fuss was about, so I decided to execute synchronized swimming moves at a neighbor’s pool party one summer afternoon.

I was a good swimmer and decent dancer with an enthusiastic personality. I thought I had all the necessary qualities for a show-stopping performance that would make everyone at the party drop their popsicles and slow clap for me while shaking their heads in amazement. The problem was that I had no one to synchronize my moves with. So instead of looking like a nimble athlete with perfectly timed movements, I resembled a drowning cat. And indeed, I was desperate for air after swallowing what felt like half the contents of the swimming pool and clogging my ears and stinging my eyes with chlorine-filled water. 

"Could this be the start of my synchronized swimming transformation?" I wondered. All the other kids were busy playing a game called Marco Polo while I fought for my life and sanity at the deep end of the pool, waiting for that beauty pageant smile to kick in. "Do I grow gills next?"

“Look! Is that boy drowning or dancing?” I heard one of the moms shout.

“If he was drowning, I don’t think he’d have that big smile plastered all over his face,” another mom replied. 

"Holy Poseidon. I’ve turned into a synchronized swimmer," I thought. 

I pushed on, oblivious to the fact that I looked more like a duck bobbing in and out of the water searching for food than an Olympian going for gold. Yet I smiled and tried to keep my eyes open the entire time like a child being possessed by an aquatic demon. Despite the fake smile, I was in agony not only physically but also mentally because I couldn’t figure out why anyone in their right mind would intentionally do this – me included. I was also painfully aware that I wasn’t getting any medals for it. 

After exhausting myself from all the splashing, kicking, twirling, and diving to imaginary orchestrated music, I decided to finally end my routine and save whatever pride I hadn’t yet swallowed along with the gallons of pool water already in my belly. I also didn’t want to run out of popsicles. I surfaced hoping to see perfect ten scores on the blackboard but instead drew disapproving glances from the other guests. “That kid swims like he’s having a seizure.” 

Synchronized swimmers gained a bit of respect from me that afternoon as I thought about all the physical torture they must endure on a daily basis (and smiling while swallowing water does call for respect). If there’s anything I learned from almost drowning that day is that it doesn’t really matter what kind of sports you play as long as you do it with passion and dedication. If one day you realize you want to be a toe wrestler for the rest of your life, then strive to be the best goddamn toe wrestler in the world. At the rate we’re going, it could soon be an Olympic sport anyway.  

Odd one out 

In spite of my newfound respect for the hard work and discipline involved, I still grew up looking at sports as an outsider. I’m assuming my ability to look at sports from a distance stems from my own experience in looking at sports from a distance…quite literally…from the benches to be exact. I was never in it.

“So what sports do you play?” is a question I’ve always found odd, as if every breathing human being had to have one. And if you didn’t have one, this question is sometimes followed by a look that made you feel like a tax evader or someone who tortures kittens for fun. Sure, I tried all kinds of sports growing up but I was never drawn to any of them as much as I was drawn to sitting under a tree reading a picture book about gnomes. I was vice president of the library club in high school for crying out loud. My teachers should’ve just given up trying to include me in gym class. 

For one, I was accident-prone and had bad coordination. I couldn’t distinguish left from right or top from bottom under pressure. In soccer, there were times I would kick the ball towards the opponent’s goal and score for them. Sometimes I’d even steal the ball from my own teammates. “Paolo! We’re on the same team! See? We even have the same red shirt to prove it,” my teammates would remind me. Apparently, I also couldn't recognize primary colors under pressure. 

My gym teacher would yell at me for looking unruffled, accusing me of not running the full four hundred meters every time she’d asked us to run around the oval track. She always suspected I took a detour to the canteen to have a nice cold drink because I looked like I’d just gotten out of a spa even after a tough exercise. “Mangahas! Do another round!” she’d yell at me and I’d exaggerate being out of breath after doing two laps around the track. And even then, I’d still look as fresh as I did when I arrived in school in the morning. “Mangahas! Why do you look so relaxed?” I hated her and wanted to shove my running shoes in her mouth. I felt like she was penalizing me for not having active sweat glands. Many times I was tempted to simply douse myself with a pail of water just to convince her. I was afraid she might ask me one day to lift a school bus just to check whether I had superpowers. And all that time I just kept thinking, what am I doing this for? I wasn't obese. I had a healthy physique and active lifestyle. So why put me through all this? 

A necessary evil 

Despite my opinion, I’ve never advocated against sports altogether. I think sports are very important in building a sense of discipline and teamwork and more importantly, pushing the limits of human capacity (such as trying to sweat even if one can’t). And no doubt, sports are good for physical and mental health. Many individuals have in fact built stellar careers on sports. Plus if you’re a floor gymnast, your skills may come in handy in real-life, practical situations like, say, if you find yourself abducted by a dictator whose only condition for not executing you is if you danced like a deranged ballerina holding a stick with a very long ribbon attached to it. “Twirl that ribbon woman! Twirl it like your life depended on it!” These girls would probably go berserk in a gift shop.

I get it though. I understand exercise and what it does to the body. If you want to build muscle, you can lift weights. If you want to build endurance, you can run. If you want to lose weight, you can do aerobics. But if you want to build a healthy competitive spirit and teamwork, you can play Pokemon Go. 

Last year I saw a game of curling on television. No, it wasn’t a hair salon challenge. It was that sport where players slide disks on a sheet of ice while sweeping its slippery path with brooms, looking like roof cleaners in the dead of winter. If I’m the only one who thinks that's weird then I must really be on the wrong planet. 

Many of us have grown so accustomed to the way things are that we’ve simply accepted them as normal. If we took a step back (let’s say, a few galaxies away), how “normal” would some of these activities seem to us? Would they seem logical or strange? Tug of war is a sport? Really? I’ve seen women in Bangkok perform tricks more deserving of gold medals. Humans are a funny bunch aren’t they? 

Now, where did I park my spaceship?– Rappler.com

Paolo Mangahas is a Filipino writer who has published several essays on food, lifestyle, fashion, and social and environmental development in various publications in the Philippines and abroad. He is based in Singapore and heads marketing and communications for a regional marine conservation program. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

Are you an OFW with a story to share? Send them to balikbayan@rappler.com

6 Filipinos dead in Saudi house fire


RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – A pregnant woman, her husband and infant daughter were among 6 Filipinos killed in a weekend fire at their Saudi Arabian residence, the Philippines embassy said on Monday, August 22.

The blaze, blamed on an electrical overload, broke out just after 6:00 am (0300 GMT) Saturday, August 20, at the apartment where 3 families lived in central Riyadh, Philippines charge d'affaires Iric Arribas told Agence France-Presse.

All 3 family members, including the 18-month-old daughter, died from smoke inhalation, he said.

The father of a second family had just left for work when the building caretaker called to alert him to the blaze. He rushed home to find that his wife, son and daughter were all dead, Arribas said.

Filipinos are one of the major expatriate communities in Saudi Arabia, working in a range of jobs from hospitality to nursing, labour, and management. – Rappler.com

Filipinos awarded with Chevening scholarships to study in the UK


2016 CHEVENING SCHOLARS. Ambassador Asif Ahmad pose with 26 Filipinos who are awarded Chevening Scholarships to study in the UK. Photo by British Embassy Manila

MANILA, Philippines – Twenty six Filipinos are set to fly to the United Kingdom on Sepember to pursue post graduate studies after receiving a prestigious Chevening Scholarship from the British government.

“The Chevening Scholarship program offers future leaders a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn in a world class university in the UK and to use the knowledge they will learn to make a lasting and positive impact on their return to the Philippines," said Ambassador Asif Ahmad.

"All 26 Filipino scholars were selected after a rigorous process for their positive vision for the Philippines and their passion to make that vision happen,” said Ahmad.

The Chevening scholars are:


  • Rowena Ruiz
  • Frances Madarang
  • Ronald Chua
  • Jedd Ugay
  • James Cruz
  • Maria Pangilinan
  • Anne Patricia Mariano
  • Maximo Sison
  • Patricia Miranda
  • Polly Cunanan
  • April Victoria
  • James Roman
  • Mary Ann Curameng
  • Virgil Banta
  • Razel Hao
  • David Garcia
  • Aljo Quintans
  • Francis Roque
  • Anna Basman
  • Janette Lim
  • Jenny Anne Apias
  • Immanuel Cedrik Forbes
  • Raquel Najja Hao
  • Bonifacio Javier
  • Ana Patricia Tobias 


“Chevening enables future leaders to develop academically, professionally, and personally during their year long stay in the UK, which is home to four of the world’s top 10 universities,” said Ahmad. 

According to the 2015 QS World University Rankings, 18 of the top 100 universities are in the UK: University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, University College London, Imperial College London, King’s College London, The University of Edinburgh, The University of Manchester, London School of Economic and Political Science, University of Bristol, The University of Warwick, Durham University, University of Glasgow, University of St Andrews, The University of Nottingham, University of Birmingham, University of Sheffield, University of Southampton, and University of Leeds.

2016 CHEVENING SCHOLARS. Ambassador Asif Ahmad pose with 26 Filipinos who are awarded Chevening Scholarships to study in the UK. Photo by British Embassy Manila

The Chevening Scholarships are awarded by the British Government to those who have a vision and drive to become future leaders in their chosen fields. The scholarships were named after the Chevening House, the British Foreign Secretary’s official country residence.

“Chevening is an investment in the future of the Philippines. It will develop the next generation of the country’s leaders, decision makers and opinion formers across the spectrum including economics and finance, human rights, law, international relations, media studies, and environmental studies. I want to thank our co-sponsors BPI Foundation,
Megaworld Foundation, and GlaxoSmithKline Philippines, whose enthusiasm and partnership with the British Embassy in the Chevening programme has enabled us to raise the number of scholars from 8 to 26 in my term in the Philippines,” said Ahmad.

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Applications for Chevening Scholarships for the academic year 2017/18 are now open. They must be submitted online between August 8 and November 8, 2016 at www.chevening.org.

Aspirants should read the online guidance and be able to demonstrate how they meet the Chevening selection criteria before submitting an application. – Rappler.com

Why do millennials join NGOs?


MILLENNIALS. What makes NGO and humanitarian work appealing to the youth?

MANILA, Philippines – What makes non-governmental organizations and humanitarian work attractive to the youth?

While young humanitarian workers have different answers to this question – ranging from personal to philosophical – they are all united by their common goal: Change.

If there is one thing millennials engaged in NGOs share in common, it is their burning desire to create ripples of change in society.

To better understand the challenges and rewards of being a millennial working in NGOs, Rappler interviewed  3 young Filipinos working in the sector.

Giano Libot, a humanitarian worker who served in the Sudan-South Sudan area focusing on the field of humanitarian accountability, said what he loves most about being part of an international NGO is that he can focus attention on what is "inaqautely addressed" during a crisis situation.

CHALLENGES. Giano Libot is a Filipino aid worker who was based in South Sudan. Photo from Giano Libot

“State entities are often tasked to cover all, which leaves some needs inadequately addressed. NGOs come in and provide the much needed niche,” Libot added.


Especially at times of natural calamities and disasters, humanitarian workers and NGOs serve to complement government efforts in crisis response and rehabilitation. (READ: What is it like to be a humanitarian worker?

Given this herculean task, doing NGO work is not  awalk in the park. It comes with its own set of challenges and risks.

For example, in conflict zones around the world, it is becoming increasingly risky to be a humanitarian aid worker. In 2014 alone, at least two humanitarian workers have been killed and countless more put in harm’s way despite the protection accorded to them by international humanitarian law. 

Peter Maurer, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) president, said in a 2014 interview with Rappler that there is an increased deliberate targeting of humanitarian workers using methods of terror towards the civilian population, towards humanitarian [workers]. 

Libot’s experience in the recent South Sudan attack is also proof of the increasingly risky life of humanitarian workers and NGOs workers.

During the 4-hour rampage by South Sudanese troops at the Hotel Terrain in July, Giano Libot, along with other international humanitarian workers, witnessed a colleague killed by soldiers.

Despite the harrowing experience, Libot said that “the fire is still there.” After giving himself time to recover, he plans to return to humanitarian work.

“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 added.

FIGHTING CLIMATE CHANGE. Renee Karunungan is a outreach manager for Climate Tracker.  Photo from Renee Karunungan


Another pressing challenge among millennials doing humanitarian work, according to climate tracker Ayeen Karunungan, is translating online noise to real-life action.

Karunungan works for Dakila as Climate Director, and Climate Tracker as Outreach Manager.

“It’s challenging to make people get out of their houses and immerse in communities or go to events or go to protests when clicking like and share is very comfortable,” Karunungan said.

Yet for millennials doing humanitarian work, these challenges pale in comparison to the priceless rewards of their job.

“You get to see the results of your work that inspires you to do more. For example, if you have an event that talks about human rights or climate justice, and people become interested and ask you about it, then that makes the event a success and makes you want to work even more,” Karunungan said.

Karunungan’s experience during the 21st United Nations climate change conference held in Paris (COP21) in December 2015 is an example of this. 

“COP21 was a very historic moment....To be in the same room as experts, scientists, and policy makers and to feel the victory of working together – that was priceless. Everyone was crying or hugging each other. We all knew we were serious in making the planet better. And it felt good to be part of history,” Karunungan recounted.

CHILDREN AND HUNGER. Fritzie Rodriguez is in charge of producing features from the field, featuring the programs of Save The Children as well as the stories of the children, families, and communities they engage with. Photo from Fritzie Rodriguez

Fritzie Rodriguez, a fundraising development writer for Save The Children, echoed Karunungan. 

“When you are young, you are usually very idealistic but in the ‘NGO world’ or the humanitarian world, you will see that even if we intend to do good things, there will be barriers. So the challenge is to not lose your flame and to keep pushing for what your organization is fighting for,” Rodriguez said.

A former journalist, Rodriguez said that writing about child malnutrition and hunger exposed her to the plight of Filipino children. This eventually led her to the NGO world.

In her stint as a journalist, Rodriguez learned more about the plight of malnourished children worldwide. According to studies, about 3 million children worldwide don’t reach their 5th birthday due to undernutrition. Undernutrition occurs primarily because of hunger.

“I then became a child rights advocate. This is how I decided to be part of an NGO working on children's rights. I wanted to focus on children,” Rodriguez shared.

Reality bites

For Libot, Rodriguez, and Karunungan, being part of an NGO is a constant tug-of-war between the inherent challenges that come with the profession and its corresponding fulfilling rewards.

While Rodriguez acknowledged that NGO work is a thankless job, she only has good words for millennials planning to pursue the same path.

“Don't be afraid to do it, if that's what you really want. It can feel at times, just like other paths, that it's a thankless job. You do not get a byline, you do not get public recognition, it's not glamorous, it's tiring, you often have to go to sites that you may find uncomfortable if you're not used to those kinds of areas. But it's worth it; you'll find meaning,” Rodriguez said. – Rappler.com


#WarOnDrugs: Amnesty Int'l seeks independent body on rights abuse


SPATE OF KILLINGS. In this picture taken on July 8, 2016, an alleged drug dealer is found dead on a street in Manila. Photo by Noel Celis/AFP

MANILA, Philippines –  London-based rights group Amnesty International has weighed in on the spate of alleged extrajudicial killings happening in the Philippines.

That over 1,700 killings by unknown assassins and police have occurred since the Duterte administration assumed power in June 2016 is "a terrifying indication that the authorities are grossly failing in their obligations to respect and protect the right to life," Amnesty International said in a statement released on Wednesday, August 24.

"The unlawful and deliberate killing carried out by order of a state actor, or with the state’s complicity or acquiescence, is an extrajudicial execution. This is a crime under international law," the group said.

"This risks the further breakdown of the rule of law in the country," it said, reminding authorities that the state has a duty to protect people from all forms of violence, including an obligation of due diligence to prevent killings and to promptly, independently and impartially investigate such killings and bring perpetrators to justice.

Recent statements by high-level authorities and police directives have further endangered the right to life, the rights group said.

Complaints commission

Amnesty International called on the Philippine government to create an independent police complaints commission to be set up which is fully independent of and free from the influence of the PNP.

According to the rights group, the commission should have the mandate to receive complaints and other reports of human rights violations committed by the police, be required to report publicly on its activities, and have the mandate and resources to provide any necessary protection to complainants, victims, and witnesses.

"Instead of inciting violence against people who have developed a dependency to drugs, the authorities should ensure they have access to medical care. Furthermore, this issue should be treated as a public health matter," Amnesty International said.

The rights group also said that other countries' heavy reliance on strong arm tactics against drug use and trade has not reduced the problem, as found by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. 

On August 22, in a Senate inquiry into allegations of extrajudicial executions, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa revealed that 712 people had been killed in police operations against drug users and drug sellers, and 1,067 had been killed by unknown vigilantes since July 1.

Dela Rosa has been leading the PNP in a nationwide campaign to stop – or at least suppress – crime, illegal drugs, and corruption. But it's a campaign that's also earned the ire of critics, who have hit it for being supposedly anti-poor and for encouraging violence and vigilantism.

Urban poor decries killings

EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLINGS. Urban poor groups troop to Camp Crame on Wednesday, August 24, to protest drug-related extrajudicial killings in the Philippines. Photo by Joel Liporada/Rappler


Meanwhile, the militant urban poor group KADAMAY stormed Camp Crame on Wednesday, August 24, to condemn the alleged extrajudicial killings. According to the group, the Duterte administration's war on drugs is targetting "defenseless urban poor Filipinos."


"We will continue to oppose the war against the senseless killings, especially when there are still alternatives that can be explored,” KADAMAY chairperson Gloria Arellano said in a statement.


“For the Filipino urban poor, we have yet to see the change promised to us. Duterte is accountable  for the appalling number of deaths which neither he nor the PNP can definitively call just. Yet his campaign continues, turning against the impoverished who supported him," said Arellano. – Rappler.com

P50,000-reward for tipsters vs illegal recruiters – DOLE


MANILA, Philippines – To crack down on illegal recruitment, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has offered a P50,000-reward for citizens who can give information leading to the arrest of illegal recruiters.

“Illegal recruitment has to stop and its perpetrators jailed. Sinuman na magbibigay ng impormasyon which leads to the arrest of illegal recruiters, bibigyan ng P50,000 na reward (Whoever will give information that will lead to the arrest of illegal recruiters will get P50,000 as reward),” said Bello in a statement on Tuesday, August 23.

Bello hopes that the reward, which will be coming from an association of private recruitment agencies, will encourage citizens to report.

Citizens may start reporting these activities to the new Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) hotline once it is activated.

Bello clarified that the reports will still be validated by the concerned DOLE offices. 

"So if ever you find yourself or you know someone that has been a victim, encourage them to report the matter to DOLE," he said.– Rappler.com

#OFWTips: Are you financially literate? Take this quiz!


MANILA, Philippines – The first step to reaching your financial goals is to know where you are.

Vince Rapisura, president of Social Enterprise Development Partnerships, Inc., introduced a personal financial diagnostic test in his book entitled (L)earning Wealth: Successful Strategies in Money Management. 

The test aims to describe a person’s financial practices and provide a rating scale to help you determine whether or not they are good practices. 

According to Vince, this self-diagnostic test is not meant to extensively measure your financial status but gives an idea of which spectrum of personal practices you generally belong to – from very high personal finance practice to very poor.

Are you financially literate? Find out here:


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To help even more OFWs and young professionals manage their finances better, SEDPI produces weekly webisodes featuring Vince Rapisura and beauty queen Venus Raj entitled #UsapangPera.

The fifth episode, to be released on Friday, August 26 at 7 pm, will also be talking about this financial self-test. Bookmark this page and watch it here on Rappler! – Rappler.com

SEDPI is a Philippine-based capacity-builder in the fields of microfinance, social entrepreneurship, and financial literacy. Learn more about them here.

Got questions for SEDPI about managing your finances? Email us at balikbayan@rappler.com.

Ailing political prisoner from Samar released


POLITICAL PRISONER. Eastern Visayas NPA leader Renato Baleros Sr is one of the political prisoners whose immediate freedom activists have been seeking for on humanitarian grounds

MANILA, Philippines – A few hours before the historic conclusion of the first round of peace talks between the Duterte administration and the National Democratic Front (NDF) on Friday, August 26, 60-year-old rebel leader Renato Baleros Sr was released from prison. 

He was temporarily freed from the Samar provincial jail Friday afternoon, rights group Karapatan announced.

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In July, Baleros, a political prisoner from Samar island, was rushed to the National Kidney and Transplant Institute after being diagnosed with a kidney disease and pneumonia. On August 11, he was sent back to the jail where his health condition worsened.

Baleros was one of the political prisoners whose immediate freedom activists have been seeking for on humanitarian grounds. 

According to the NDF, Baleros is also one of its peace consultants, and is therefore protected by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).

The NDF is representing the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People's Army (NPA) in the formal peace talks with the government that was held in Oslo from August 22 to 28.

The peace talks seek to come up with important agreements and to push forward the peace process which has been stalled for almost 4 years. (READ: PH, NDF to resume talks, silence guns)

Thank you, President Duterte

At the talks, the CPP-NPA-NDF agreed to declare an indefinite ceasefire, while the government panel agreed to recommend to President Rodrigo Duterte the amnesty for all political prisoners, subject to the approval of Congress. (READ: Document: Agreement between PH and NDF)

To date, of the more than 500 Leftist political prisoners, nearly 40 are elderly while about 125 are sick, including Baleros, according to rights group Karapatan.

When  Duterte was on the campaign trail, he promised to reopen peace negotiations with the NDF, giving assurances that he will release all detained political prisoners. 

About 20 detained NDF consultants, including top CPP leaders Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Tiamzon, have earlier been temporarily freed so that they could participate in the Oslo talks. (READ: Top NPA leaders go on 1st overseas trip for Oslo talks)

In the joint Oslo statement with government negotiators, the NDF thanked Duterte for "committing to cause the early release of prisoners (as listed by the NDF) who are sick, elderly, overly long detained and women based on humanitarian grounds."

HISTORIC PEACE TALKS. The Philippine government and CPP-NPA-NDF on Friday, August 26, signs a historic agreement that will silence guns on both sides for an indefinite period while they continue talks to end Asia's longest-running communist insurgency. Photo by Altermidya

'High-value target'

Baleros is considered a “high-value target” by the military in Eastern Visayas. He was detained for charges of murder and frustrated murder, robbery in band and multiple homicide, and arson filed against him. His cases have already been dismissed, except for one murder charge. 

But Baleros denied the charges.

"Dahil sa pamumundok ko, ginawang wanted ng military ng gobyerno," (Because I went underground I was put on the wanted list of the military.)

Rights groups, invoking international human rights law, generally define political prisoners as people jailed because of their political beliefs or activities.

According to Baleros, he and his wife were captured in San Jorge town in Samar while directing NPA relief operations in the province days after Super Typhoon Yolanda devastated the region. 

"Si misis dinala doon sa Northern Samar provincial jail. Ako naman, dinala doon sa Eastern Samar provincial jail. Sinampahan ng syempre sa tingin namin gawa-gawang kaso,” Baleros told Rappler. 

(My wife was brought to Northern Samar Provincial Jail. I was brought to  Eastern Samar Provincial Jail. We were charged with trumped up cases.)

They were captured on November 25, 2013, two weeks after the CPP announced a unilateral ceasefire "in solidarity with the plight of the people after Typhoon Yolanda," according to the CPP's Regional Committee in Eastern Visayas.

Tortured during martial law

Baleros was a college student in Tacloban City when he decided to join the NPA during the tumultous martial law period. He was captured in 1974 and was detained until 1980. While in detention, he suffered from various forms of torture.

"Ini-slice nila itong tenga ko. Tapos itong dibdib ko, nag-crack itong mga buto dito. Kaya minsan, nahihirapan akong makahinga. Hanggang ngayon, dala-dala ko yan – yung mga tadyak at bugbog," he said.

(They sliced off my ear. And my ribs cracked. That's why, sometimes, I experience difficulty in breathing. Until now, I carry that memory with me – their kicks and punches.)

He endured the pain because he felt he did not have any other choice then but to commit to the revolution happening in the countryside, Baleros recalled.

"During that period, activists vigorously studied and learned from social conditions. And everywhere you go during that time, you will encounter the revolution," he said in a mix of Filipino and English.

"Class struggle' and family

Asked how he got involved in the movement, Baleros paused before he shared his painful childhood memories.

Baleros' father, who was worker from Leyte, married the daugther of his employers from a prominent and well-off family in Samar.  His mother's family despised them because they were against the marriage, he said.

"Every child, because my father was poor, was not recognized by my mother's family. That's why the kids – my siblings and myself – were raised by our other grandparents," Baleros shared.

"Kaya ako may hinanakit sa pamilya din. Parang may class struggle sa loob ng pamilya. Ayun ang isa sa nag-motivate sa akin na kailangan talaga ng pagbabago sa lipunan haggang sa tumanda na lang.

(That's why I feel resentment toward my family. It seemed like there was class struggle within the family. That was one of the reasons that motivated me to push for social change.)

Closer to freedom

It was Baleros' first political awakening, a consciousness that he embraced until he aged in the movement that is now seeking peace with the government to address the longest-running insurgency in Asia.

And for him, peace starts with the freedom of those fighting for their political beliefs, which has been a contentious issue in talks with previous administrations.

"Kasi sila naman ay naghahanap ng tunay na pagbabago sa lipunan. Kinukulong sila pagka narinig na sinasabing terorista. Dapat hindi. Dapat tingnan ng gobyerno i-address [kung] ano talaga ang ugat ng problema. Pakinggan sila, hindi dapat ikulong. Kaya dapat palayain ang lahat ng political detainees sa bansa.” 

(They also want genuine social change. They are jailed because they're branded as terrorists. It should not be the case. The government should also look at the root cause of the problem. Listen to them instead of jailing them. So all political detainees in the country should be freed.) 

After the unprecedented meeting of minds in Oslo, Baleros and his other comrades are closer to attaining the freedom that they've been longing for. –  Rappler.com



Yolanda survivors in northern Iloilo finally have homes


HOPEFUL. Agnes Salvaria of Barangay Taloto-an in Concepcion, Iloilo says the new shelter she received from Iloilo CODE-NGOs and Christian Aid will help her family rebuild their lives. Photo by David Lozada/ Rappler.

ILOILO, Philippines – First came the winds, then the waves. In the calm that followed the chaos, Agnes Salvaria and her family found out they lost everything.

A resident of Barangay Taloto-an, an island-village in Concepcion town, Iloilo, Salvaria lost her house and boat when Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) hit the region in November 2013. Like many survivors, she thought life was over.

“When Yolanda hit, we thought our lives would end. We had to run to the fields to find refuge and be saved from the storm surge. We didn’t expect to survive. We’re thankful that God watched over us,” Salvaria recalled.

The weeks that followed proved more difficult for the people of Taloto-an. They had no place for refuge and no means of getting back on their feet.

“Even after we survived the typhoon, we thought our lives would end. We couldn’t rebuild our houses because our sources of livelihood were destroyed. We only rely on fishing so when we lost our boats, we didn't know where to find food and income,” the 37-year-old added.

No one was killed in Taloto-an when the typhoon unleashed its wrath but the fishing village suffered heavy infrastructure damage. The village’s school, barangay hall, chapel, and health centers were inundated by storm surges.

Thankfully, help came immediately.  A partner of the Iloilo Caucus of Development NGOs Network (Iloilo CODE-NGOs), Taluto-an received relief goods in the aftermath of the super typhoon. 

“They gave us food and clothes. They provided for our daily needs. They gave us new pump boats that we can use for our livelihood,” Salvaria said.

But it wasn’t enough because the people still had no homes.

New houses to call homes 

Almost 3 years after the super typhoon hit Iloilo, Salvaria is now enjoying her new home. She was one of the 100 beneficiaries of Iloilo CODE-NGOs and Christian Aid’s “Rebuilding for Better and Resilient Shelter” project in Taloto-an. Her house was turned over in late July.

“The house we had before Yolanda hit was just made of light materials which we pieced together. After Yolanda, we made makeshift walls and ceilings just so we can sleep somewhere,” Salvaria said.

She added: “We’re really thankful that we were given this shelter because now we can sleep soundly, not fearing any calamities. Our new house is stronger and well-built compared to what we have before." 

DONE DEAL. In Barangay Polopiña in Concepcion town, 40 houses have already been turned over to beneficiaries. Photo by David Lozada/ Rappler.

According to Cynthia Espinosa of Iloilo CODE-NGOs, while the housing project in Taloto-an is still underway, the organization has already turned over many shelters in other villages covered by the project.

“Of our two shelter projects here in Concepcion town, construction is ongoing for 100 houses in Taloto-an. In Barangay Polopiña, we were already able to turn over 40 houses to selected beneficiaries,” Espinosa said.

The shelter project was started in September 2014 and is set to be finished by end of September 2016. According to Espinosa, there are a lot of challenges to the project because the island-villages are hard to reach.

“In Taloto-an, for instance, we haven’t finished building all the houses because the logistics is difficult. Our contractors did have difficult time in delivering the materials because of the changing weather. It’s also hard to haul the materials from the shore to the settlement areas,” she added.

Built by and for the communities

The organization tapped the communities in making their own shelters. Espinosa said this makes the beneficiaries more invested in the project.

“We don’t have any problems in labor because we agreed beforehand that the beneficiaries would help the contractors and carpenters in building their own homes. They also assist in hauling materials,” she added.

The new houses are built following a design that can withstand harsh weather conditions like the super typhoon. The locations where the houses are built are identified safe zones from storm surges, flooding, and other hazards. 

“When we explained to them that the design can withstand typhoons, they were really glad. They feel more secure now compared to where they used to live before Yolanda came. Now, they don’t have to worry whenever it rains,” Espinosa said. 

Never truly healed?

STILL RECOVERING. Riana Pearl Andres of Barangay Tabugon in Carles town says Yolanda left her traumatized. Photo by David Lozada/ Rappler.

In the island-village of Tabugon in nearby Carles town, Riana Pearl Andes is enjoying the security of her new shelter given by the same organizations. Like Salvaria, she lost everything when Yolanda hit her village.

“My house was washed out along with my parents’ house. They were able to rebuild because of my siblings’ help. My husband and I couldn’t rebuild our house though because we don’t have any resources. So we’ve been living with them since,” Andes said. 

She recalled: “We didn’t have any dry clothes. We’d sleep in our wet clothes and in our kitchen because that was the only part of the house that was left. I was even pregnant with one of my kids then so it was really difficult.”

While Andes’ family has recovered from the typhoon and her husband is back to fishing, she still feels the trauma inflicted by Yolanda and believes it wil always remain.

“Every time it rains, I still feel nervous. I don’t know what to do even if I have a new home now. I think I have developed a phobia because every time the wind howls, I feel afraid,” Andes said.

According to Andes, they are slowly starting over with their lives thanks to the new house, “Our quality of life has improved greatly because of this blessing. Now, my husband’s income only go to our food so we can save. It’s a lot of help to us.” 

Rehabilitation not over 

ONGOING. Some of the 100 houses allotted in Barangay Talotu-an in Concepcion are still being constructed. Contractors say the project will be finished by September 2016. Photo by David Lozada/ Rappler.

While Iloilo CODE-NGOs and Christian Aid’s shelter project are already done in Tabugon and Polopiña, Espinosa says the work isn’t done until every beneficiary has a new home.

“We look forward for the project in Taloto-an to finish because many of our beneficiaries there are senior citizens and those with kids from 0 to 5 years old. They still don’t have decent homes. We are pushing the contractors to finish the project before September ends,” she said.

The organizations also hope the beneficiaries will take good care of their new homes. 

“They should maintain their houses well because for many of them, that’s the only thing they have now while their livelihoods haven’t fully gone back to normalcy. We want them to enjoy their lives in their new houses and live in a safe environment,” Espinosa said.

The residents of Taloto-an and Tabugon have rebuilt their lives from scratch since November 2013. Yolanda has tested their resilience and they know, with their new stronger homes, that they can now survive whatever calamity comes their way. 

When the real test comes, the survivors of northern Iloilo know they will be ready. – 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:

Students in Iloilo island-village brave sea to get to school


NO EXCUSES. Students from Sitio Tubig Manok brave the sea everyday to get to their school, Tinigban Elementary School. Photo by David Lozada/ Rappler

ILOILO, Philippines – What are you willing to risk to get an education?

Every day at 7 am, a fishing boat docks in the island-village of Tinigban in Carles, Iloilo. But the boat does not bring in the day’s catch of sea food. It brings students instead.

More than 70 students from Sitio Tubig Manok, a far-flung community located 3.5 kilometers away from Tinigban village proper, brave the sea everyday just to get to Tinigban Elementary School (TES).

“They need to go this far because there is no school in Tubig Manok…They pay P10 one way for the boat ride. They ride the boat going to and from the school,” Editha Logronio, the school’s head teacher, said. 

TES has little more than 274 students and was only promoted to a full elementary school in 2010. 

Before Super Typhoon Yolanda, Logronio said parents used to accompany and pick up their kids after school separately using their own boats. This proved costly after the super typhoon destroyed the villages’ livelihood materials. Others, would walk hours through dangerous rocky terrains on the hills inland just to get to school. 

In June 2015, the Barangay Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Committee or BDRRMC received a new pump boat from the Iloilo Caucus of Development NGOs Network (Iloilo CODE-NGOs) and Christian Aid to be used as patrol boat to guard its coastline from poachers and illegal fishers. Local leaders had the idea of using the town’s patrol boat as a school service with one barangay official serving as the operator.

The organizations also gave fishing boats to most of the fisherfolk in the village.

“The patrol boat was very useful to minimize illegal activities in the marine protected area of the barangay and also during emergencies. But the BDRRMC gave the top priority to the need of the children for the early morning and afternoon transportation,” the organization said.

Braving the seas

Logronio, who had been teaching in the elementary school for almost 30 years, commended the children’s dedication to get an education, saying they should be an inspiration to all students.

“Sometimes, when the waves are really high, we excuse them from going to school. It’s dangerous for the kids, especially those in kindergarten and Grade One,” the 53-year-old added. 

INSPIRATION. Tinigban Elementary School head teacher Editha Logronio says the students are an inspiration to more privileged youth. Photo by David Lozada/ Rappler

While the risk of crossing the sea was lowered when the newer patrol boat arrived, Logronio admits there have been previous cases of accidents because sea conditions could drastically change.

“We are not informed of the incident sometimes. The kids would sometimes arrive wet here in school and they’ll tell us the boat did not withstand the waves. Many of them have adapted to the condition because they know how to swim,” the teacher said

Logronio also added: “Many of our students from Tubig Manok have already finished college. They study here for elementary and go to Estancia town proper on the mainland for high school. So the children are inspired to study.” 

The students from Tubig Manok continue to ride the waves to reach their dreams of finishing school. And teachers like Logronio say they will continue to watch over the children’s journey to getting an education. – 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:

#WalangPasok: Class suspensions, Tuesday, August 30


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MANILA, Philippines – Here is a list of areas and schools where classes have been suspended for Tuesday, August 30, 2016.

  • Tuba, Benguet (pre-school, elementary, high school)
  • Mankayan, Benguet (pre-school, elementary, high school)
  • Itogon, Benguet (pre-school, elementary, high school)
  • Baguio City (pre-school and elementary)
  • La Trinidad, Benguet (pre-school and elementary)
  • Kibungan, Benguet (pre-school and elementary)
  • Kapangan, Benguet (pre-school and elementary)
  • Tublay, Benguet (pre-school and elementary)
  • Bokod, Benguet (pre-school and elementary)
  • Rest of province of Benguet (pre-school only)

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

UP Masscom community demands apology from eUP for 'assault on academic freedom'


MANILA, Philippines – Members of the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication (UP CMC), led by former dean Roland Tolentino, are demanding an apology from the eUP Team for its alleged "assault on academic freedom and freedom of expression" following its statement against an investigative report by UP journalism graduates.

A research conducted by Ronn Bautista and Krixia Subingsubing, which was awarded Best Thesis in Investigative Journalism by the UP CMC in June 2016, alleged that university administrators violated the Procurement Law by favoring a certain corporation.

In response to Bautista and Subingsubing’s thesis, the eUP team released a statement on August 8, calling it an “an example of poorly conducted research work” and a “witch hunt disguised as an academic endeavour."

The eUP team also addressed the questions on the legality of the implementation of the project and said that “reference to brand names is a common practice in government procurement, particularly for technical items including ICT hardware and software."

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‘eUP statement disappointing’

However, Bautista, in an online interview with Rappler, reiterated that the said practice, according to the Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB), is absolutely forbidden.

Bautista said that UP should “rise above playing the bandwagon fallacy."

“The word of law is clear. Strictly no brand names are allowed. It is fallacious to say that other agencies get away with it, especially for an institution that is supposed to be the vanguard of good governance. The GPPB itself already says this is not allowed. Does the eUP team think they are above the law and the government?” Bautista said.

Bautista also expressed his disappointment on the way the eUP Team responded.

“It is disappointing that in a university that prides itself  as the nation's bastion of knowledge, academic debate and criticism are treated as ‘attempts at confusion and sensationalism',” he said.

“The goal of every journalistic endeavor, as it always has been, is to enable people to form opinions and decisions. May we let them do so by reading the thesis in its entirety. We stand by our story,” Bautista said.

Meanwhile, the statement released by Tolentino, which was signed by UP CMC faculty, students and alumni, said that, “While the eUP team has the right to comment on the arguments raised by the said thesis, it cannot attribute malice to authors and undermine the integrity of the thesis as an Investigative Journalism (IJ) project."

The statement further said that Bautista and Subingsubing’s work, a result of an extensive eight-month research, went through established academic processes, including close supervision by award-winning investigative journalist Yvonne Chua.

JUNK SAIS? More than 800 students skip their classes to protest against eUP's SAIS. Photo by Jaira Roxas/Rappler


‘eUP Team just exercising right to free expression’

Elena Pernia, UP CMC’s current dean, released a separate statement claiming that the eUP Team was just exercising its own right to free speech.

Pernia stressed that “discussion and debate are integral” and people should “let all voices/positions exercise free expression."

“When the eUP team released its ‘Statement on the undergraduate thesis of Ronn Bautista and Krixia Subingsubing on the eUP Project’, several months after the thesis was completed, criticising the thesis for its ‘misleading claims, questionable conclusions, and false allegations’, was it not exercising its own right to free speech?” the dean said.

Pernia’s statement was released to Tinig ng Plaridel, UP CMC’s official publication, through College Secretary Teresa Congjuico.

Meanwhile, Kabataan Representative Sarah Elago filed a resolution to probe the implementation of eUP.

The eUP Project, UP President Alfredo Pascual’s P752-million flagship program, aims to “integrate and harmonize the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure and system across all constituent universities (CUs) of the UP System.”

On August 6, Bautista posted their thesis and related documents on social media following the outrage against the Student Academic Information System (SAIS), one of the 5 core information systems of eUP.

Hundreds of UPLB students skipped the first day of classes on August 3 to protest against the controversial SAIS, which has been blamed for the glitches that happened during the registration period: wrong scholarship bracketing, failure to enlist in required classes, among others. – Rappler.com 

Anna Biala, a Rappler intern, is a senior journalism student from the University of the Philippines - Diliman.


PH losing P328B a year due to childhood stunting


MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is losing at least P328 billion ($7.06 billion) a year due to the impact of childhood stunting on education and workforce productivity, according to a report released Tuesday, August 30.

Non-governmental organization Save the Children revealed in its latest Cost of Hunger in the Philippines report that childhood stunting cost the country almost 3% of its gross domestic product (GDP) in 2013.

Below is the breakdown of the P328-billion economic loss:

  • P166.5 billion ($3.59 billion) - lost income due to lower educational achievement
  • P160 billion ($3.45 billion) - lost productivity due to premature mortality
  • P1.23 billion ($26.49 million) - education costs

Stunted growth – a sign of chronic malnutrition – could affect a child's cognitive development, overall health, and even socio-economic conditions that carry on to adulthood.

Ned Olney, country director of Save the Children Philippines, said data on the number of stunted children in the Philippines shows the country is "going in the wrong direction" in terms of child malnutrition. (READ: 12M of stunted children in ASEAN live in PH, Indonesia – report)

There are currently 3.8 million stunted children in the Philippines – an increase from the 3.2 million in 2013.

About a million of those children are severely stunted, according to Cecilia Acuin, chief science research specialist at the Food and Nutrition Research Institute-Department of Science and Technology. 

African levels

With 33% childhood stunting nationwide, Olney said the Philippines is now ranked 9th in the world in terms of total number of stunted children.

"Over the past quarter century, there was a very slight improvement in malnutrition. [For the] last 10 years, [it was] fairly steady: not getting worse, not getting better. But the years 2013 to 2015 [saw the] largest increase in malnutrition in a quarter century," he added, calling the rise in malnutrition rates "unprecedented".

For instance, Olney said childhood stunting in Mindanao is at 40%, which is also the average for countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

"To know that we have African levels of childhood stunting in modern, developing, progressive Philippines is shocking. It's a problem," he told Rappler in a separate interview. 

But what caused the increase in stunting rates? Olney said even health and development communities in the country are still debating over why it went up in the past two years.

"I think the easiest answer is that poverty rates also went up," he added.

Maristela Abenojar from the Department of Social Welfare and Development's (DSWD) Office of the Secretary agreed: "We believe malnutrition [rates] won't have substantial decrease if we don't address the root of the problem: poverty."

But Ella Naliponguit, director of the Department of Education's Health and Nutrition Center said information – both on the part of the mother and the community – could also be a factor aside from poverty.

What government should do

Save the Children urged a whole-of-government approach to address the "nutrition crisis" in the Philippines. First in its list of recommendations is the support for the First 1,000 Days Bill. At the Senate, this is Senate Bill 161 filed by Senator Grace Poe.

Supporting the bill, according to Save the Children, will enhance the delivery of quality nutrition intervention in the first 1,000 days of a child's life to prevent stunting.

Naliponguit agreed and pointed out that it would be too late if government starts its interventions at 5 years old, or when the child enters school.

But for Acuin, it's important for government not only to pass laws but also to implement programs related to nutrition.

Right now, Abenojar said the DSWD is already in the process of reviewing the quality of the implementation of the government's Conditional Cash Transfer program or the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).

"Something has to be done in terms of advocating with the 4Ps [families] about nutrition, and that also of course includes the breastfeeding concern, and teenage pregnancy," she added.

Save the Children also urged the government to invest not only in nutrition programs, but also in water and sanitation, in reproductive health, in agriculture, and in jobs training.

Olney lamented the Philippines' "very low" investment in nutrition programs – only .52% of the total government budget, compared to the global average allocation of 2.1%.

"So it's really investment across a wide range of departments that can have an impact on nutrition. It needs to be planned, it needs to be thought out and targeted towards nutrition programs," he told Rappler. 

The latest Save the Children report estimated that for every $1 spent on programs to avert childhood stunting, the Philippines could save over $100 in health, education, and lost productivity costs. Rappler.com

$1 = P46.45

Civic volunteers respond to call for Agos-eBayanihan emergency responders


MANILA, Philippines – Over 140 people responded to the call to be emergency responders during disasters and made a pledge to help others in need at the first Agos 101 Workshop on Sunday, August 28. 

Rappler hosted 145 civic volunteers from diverse backgrounds. Some were students, others professionals. Many of them belonged to well-established and respected civic groups like REACT Philippines, Riders Against Crime and Emergency Response (RACERS), RG, Shine, and Bantay Bayan. 

The workshop provided them with an opportunity to learn about how to gather, understand, and share information that could help save lives, particularly using tools and apps available on the Internet. 

ENGAGEMENT. Maria Ressa talks to Agos 101 Workshop participants at the Rappler HQ. Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

MovePH's director for civic engagement, Zak Yuson, welcomed the participants to Rappler and shared why MovePH is a strong advocate for disaster preparedness and volunteerism. 

"Each of us have the power to bring about the change we want to see in this world. Through social media, we can share information and raise awareness about disaster preparedness, climate change adaptation, and saving lives. This is why MovePH supports this advocacy," said Yuson. 

Rappler CEO Maria Ressa thanked the participants for being role models for their communities. She narrated how Rappler began with a simple purpose: to help move the Philippines forward by bringing together different people to find common solutions to our problems. She added that the Agos platform, which was created by Rappler, is one way the company is combining technology with on ground community action.

Skills training

Among the topics covered during the workshop were how to understand basic weather terms. Dave Valeriano, general manager of Weather Philippines Foundation (WPF), talked about how technology can help warn us of impending danger and how to prepare better.

He cited the example of solar-powered weather stations deployed by WPF that can track the amount of rainfall. When the stations detect extraordinarily high levels of rainfall upstream, that's a sign to be ready for flash floods downstream. 

Yuson and Philip Fortuno of Rappler talked about the need to be responsible users and consumers of social media. Fortuno said that, as civic volunteers, the public will rely on them for accurate and timely information, especially in times of disasters. He added that sharing false information or keeping information is just as damaging as the disaster itself. (SEE: More photos from the Agos 101 Workshop)

SIGN UP. Participants line up to get a special badge certifying them as Agos Emergency Responders. Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

Pledge to help

At the end of the workshop, all 145 participants made a pledge to help others in their time of need and to use the Agos information platform to crowdsource and share critical information.

The volunteers are now certified Agos Emergency Responders and will continue their training to learn more advanced skills such as life-saving, leadership, and communications. 

MovePH will conduct more Agos 101 workshops in the future and is inviting interested groups or individuals to signify their interest in joining future workshops by filling up this pre-registration form.

Agos is Rappler's disaster information management platform that crowdsources bottom-up critical information for better top-down decision making.

Agos is powered by Ateneo de Manila University's e-Bayanihan platform. It is supported by the Australian government, the Office of Civil Defense, the Department of Education, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Philippine Disaster Resiliency Foundation, and other partners. - Rappler.com

Are we really burying Marcos's 'body'?


CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines — Contrary to popular belief, there is no “eternally embalmed body” of former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr that lies in his family's mausoleum in Batac, Ilocos Norte.

Filipino historian and anthropologist Dr Antonio Montalvan II made this clarification during a recent forum at Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan dubbed “To B or Not To B,” referring to whether Marcos deserves a hero’s burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

In an en banc decision on August 23, the Supreme Court issued a status quo ante order to all parties involved in the Marcos burial case, prohibiting them from burying him at the Libingan ng mga Bayani for the next 20 days.

Beyond the public display

Montalvan examined the burial controversy through the lenses of necropolitics, citing the tradition of long-term embalming of the late leaders of socialist and dictatorial regimes in different parts of the world. 

Russia had first perfected the craft of long-term embalming having preserved communist revolutionary and political theorist Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov or Lenin as the successful example of the process.

“In the Modern Age, we begin with Lenin. Long-term embalming was perfected by Soviet Russia. Lenin was the leader of the Bolsheviks Revolution in October 1917. When he died in 1924, the Soviet government wanted to preserve his body in his mausoleum in Kremlin,” said Montalvan.

“The temperature inside Lenin’s mausoleum has to be controlled. The embalmers have to apply glycerol, potassium acetate, bleaching reagents, and wax from time to time.”

One major problem that the morticians of Lenin faced was the discoloration of his skin, especially on the face and hands. They managed to solve this using a variety of reagents and acetic acid solution in between baths.

Montalvan enumerated other prominent leaders of communist countries who died after Lenin, and who were embalmed using the Soviet technique. Their bodies were put on public display inside mausoleums that became tourist attractions over time.

“When Ho Chi Minh of Vietnam died in 1969, the government took the embalmers of Lenin. It has somehow bolstered the tradition perfected by Russia,” he said.

Streams of people queue every day just to take a glimpse of Ho's body in a granite mausoleum in Hanoi modeled after Lenin's tomb in Moscow. 

After the death of communist revolutionary and founding father of the People's Republic of China, Chairman Mao Zedong in 1976, the Communist Party of China wanted to preserve his remains, but there was a problem.

“Beijing then was not in friendly terms with its Soviet neighbor, so China turned to Vietnam. It was Vietnam that taught them the long-term embalming process, which the Vietnamese learned from the Soviets,” said Montalvan.

Local and foreign tourists flock to the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall, more commonly known as the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong, a colossal edifice in Tiananmen Square. Mao’s body, draped in the red flag of the People’s Republic of China,  is laid in a glass coffin.

“Mao’s crystal coffin is beautiful. It was designed to withstand an 8.0-magnitude earthquake...It has humidity controls also,” said Montalvan.

In the same manner, the late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's body was also embalmed for permanent display, according to Montalvan.

'Leaders of repressive regimes'

“What do you think is the common thread that you see in this problem about long-term embalming?” asked Montalvan during the forum.

All of them are leaders of repressive regimes, he said.

"Their tenures were marked with the curtailment of freedom and human rights. Long-term embalming is not just about idolizing, there is a deeper, underlying reason behind it," Montalvan said.

There is a narrative behind preserving the bodies of leaders, said Montalvan. 

In the case of Marcos, keeping his corpse intact is "a way of preserving his regime and legacy," the historian said, describing it as the "Imeldific script" of Marcos’s narrative.  

“Imelda was not just preserving the body of Marcos, she has a script...She wants to present Marcos as still larger than life," Montalvan said.

In 1993, then President Fidel Ramos allowed the repatriation of Marcos’ body. It was flown from a refrigerated crypt in Hawaii, where he succumbed to lupus erythematosus in 1989 while in exile.

The historian had the opportunity to visit the Marcos mausoleum twice.

During his second visit to the mausoleum, a close Marcos family friend whom Montalvan did not name, revealed a secret to their group.

“He said, ‘That’s not the body anymore. That’s just a wax replica.’ The real body has already been buried. Where? Underneath the glass coffin.”

Montalvan said that “Marcos still lies here. However, if the controversial former Philippine president will be given a hero’s burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, he asked: “My question is 'what do we bury'?” —Rappler.com

Stephen Pedroza, Rappler's Lead Mover in Cagayan de Oro City, is a journalism graduate from Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan. He attended a course on new media in journalism at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.

Returning OFWs from Saudi Arabia grateful to 'generous' Duterte


'WELCOME HOME.' President Rodrigo Duterte welcomes home 128 OFWs from Saudi Arabia who were fired from their jobs in an oil and gas company. Photo by Toto Lozano/PPD

MANILA, Philippines – "Masaya kaming lahat. Sa bibig ng lahat 'Duterte' (We are all happy. Everyone speaks the name 'Duterte')," said overseas Filipino worker Ali Palacundo after he and 127 others were welcomed back to the Philippines by no less than President Rodrigo Duterte.

Minutes after they arrived aboard a Philippine Airlines flight on Wednesday, August 31, Duterte told them at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2, "Welcome to your country at tulungan 'nyo ako (and help me)." 

The 128 OFWs are former employees of oil and gas company Mohammad al-Mojil Group (MMG), a company that laid off many workers after oil prices plummeted.

Palacundo was fired from his job as a mechanical engineer at MMG in 2013. He waited two years until he could go back home.

'DUTERTE LOVES YOU.' Labor Secretery Silvestre Bello III speaks with OFWs at NAIA Terminal 2 before President Rodrigo Duterte's arrival. Photo by Toto Lozano/PPD

He alleged MMG had been blocking their exit passes, preventing them from flying back.

"'Yung kompanya namin, iniipit kami, hindi kami pinapa-exit. Tapos noong 2015, nagkocomplain na kami, nagpapatulong na kami sa dating gobyerno pero parang may pupunta pero hindi naman masyadong binibigyan ng pansin," Palacundo told Rappler.

(Our company was putting us against a corner; we couldn't leave. Then in 2015, we complained, we asked for help from the previous government. Someone would come but it seems they weren't giving us their attention.)

But when the Duterte administration took over, things seemed to go faster.

"Umasa rin kami hanggang sa nagbago 'yung administrasyon, 'yun napabilis, at saka true to his word si Presidente Duterte na tutulungan niya 'yung mga OFW (We continued to be hopeful until the administration changed, things sped up, and President Duterte was true to his word that he would help OFWs)," he said.

'Find me a plane'

Addressing the OFWs, Duterte said he had wanted to fly to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, himself to attend to their problem but he was advised not to because it would seem like the Philippine embassy there was not doing its job.

"Two weeks ago, sabi ko sa kanila, I will leave for Riyadh within 72 hours. Hanapan ninyo ako ng eroplano....Ang totoo, sabi nila na okay man. Hindi ka naman kailangan pumunta dito kasi lalabas na wala naman silang ginagawa," said Duterte.

(Two weeks ago, I told them, 'I will leave for Riyadh within 72 hours. Find me a plane....Truth is, they said it's okay. You don't need to go here because it will seem like they are not doing anything.)

Photo by King Rodriguez/PPD

Pepito Resnera Jr, who was a staff of MMG's mechanical division, described how desperate their situation was.

"Wala kaming pera, hindi kami makaalis. Para kaming nasa preso (We had no money, we couldn't leave. We felt like prisoners)," he said.

Most of them have not been paid more than a year's salary.

According to Resnera, some of them still await payment for 25 months of work.

And so it seemed like a balm to their soul to hear Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III that lawyers tapped by the government would make sure they get their pay.

"'Yung suweldo ninyo, end of service [payment], kukunin ng mga abugado natin doon. Hindi natin pauuwiin 'yung mga abugado hangga't hindi nakukuha," said Bello, to loud cheers from the OFWs.

(Your salaries, end of service payment, our lawyers will get it from there. We won't let them come home if they don't have it yet.)

Cash gifts

Bello added that the government was giving each of them P26,000, P6,000 of which is for their wives.

Duterte followed it up with his own cash gift.

"May kaunting pera ako, para sa pamasahe ninyo, may P5,000 ako (I have some money, for your fare, P5,000) for each of you," he said to even more cheers.

No wonder Palacundo found Duterte generous.

"Galante naman talaga siya kasi wala siyang pakialam sa pera basta matulong niya 'yung mga tao (He is generous because he doesn't care about money as long as he helps other people)," enthused Palacundo.

Photo by King Rodriguez/PPD

Resnera too, is grateful for the administration's help.

"Walang pumapansin sa amin. Dahil sa nangyari, nakauwi na kami (We were ignored. With what happened, we got back home)," he told Rappler.

While Duterte promised them cash, he also promised long-term benefits for the workers.

"Bigyan 'nyo lang ako ng kaunting panahon at may opportunity for you to work here (Give me some time and you will have an opportunity to work here)," the President said. 

There are hundreds more OFWs in Saudi Arabia who have lost their jobs and want to fly back to the Philippines. Resnera said that in their group, there are around 400 more waiting in Saudi Arabia.

Duterte gave his word that he would help them all get home.

"Kung meron pang gustong umuwi dito, lilipad uli 'yung eroplano na 'yan  (If someone else wants to go home, that plane will fly again)," he said. – Rappler.com

15 Filipino human trafficking victims imprisoned in Malaysia – PH embassy


MANILA, Philippines – Fifteen Filipinas who were duped by illegal recruiters to enter Malaysia illegally were sentenced by a Malaysian court to 6 months imprisonment and fined RM 4,000 (P46,000), the Philippine embassy in Kuala Lumpur said.

Rappler earlier learned about the plight of these Filipinas through the family of Eleonor Baltazar, who was reported as one of the 15 alleged victims of human trafficking. 

The family described Baltazar's condition behind bars as "horrible," noting that the Filipina is allegedly suffering from "subhuman treatment" while in prison. According to them, another overseas Filipina worker, who was recently freed from the same prison, told them about Baltazar's ordeal. 

Rappler reached out to the Philippine embassy in Malaysia after learning about the situation of Baltazar and the other alleged human trafficking victims. 

According to embassy officials in Malaysia, the Filipinas were apparently promised jobs in Dubai by a certain Flordeliza Flores Eborde, whom the group called "Ms Venus." They were instructed to go to Brooke’s Point in Palawan, from where they were transferred via motorboat to Mapun in Tawi-tawi. From there, the group travelled to Sendakan, Malaysia, by boat.

The Filipinas were arrested at their hotel while waiting for their transfer to Dubai on July 20.

The embassy said that the Sandakan Magistrate Court convicted and sentenced the group on August 17 to “6 months imprisonment from date of arrest.” They will serve an additional 4 months in prison if they do not pay the fine.

The embassy is extending legal assistance to the victims to be able to reduce their prison time, and also confirmed that Baltazar and her group are now in better condition.

Baltazar will serve her sentence until May 19, 2017, but will be qualified for early release from prison on February 10, if she shows good behavior.


Earlier this week, the embassy warned about the increasing occurrence of this modus, wherein Filipinos are brought to Malaysia illegally through Western Mindanao.

The embassy attributes this to the implementation of stricter anti-trafficking measures at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and other airports. This has forced illegal recruitment syndicates to operate through Zamboanga or Tawi-Tawi, where recruits cross over to Sabah, which serves as entry point to Dubai or other countries.

The embassy warns Filipino job seekers against such schemes or "risk apprehension by Sabah authorities for unauthorized entry or fall victim to sex and other traffickers along the way.”

“We have seen all too often these sad cases of job seekers who end in a foreign jail or in the hands of sex traffickers. These are risks not worth taking,” the Philippine embassy said.  Rappler.com

MovePH to host #ThinkPH viewing party


MANILA, Philippines –  How can organizations – from industry leaders to tech startups – harness creativity, technology, and innovation towards progress and nation building?

This was the main question tackled by Rappler and its roster of international and local experts during the 3rd ThinkPH summit held on July 21 at the  Newport Performing Arts Theater in Pasay.

During the tech summit which focused on disruptive thinking, digital experts agreed that the age of tech disruption is already upon us and that we have to brace ourselves for its impact.

“There’s a tsunami of exponential technologies that will disrupt organizations and businesses. [But] most people will just stay put. They won’t be able to disrupt until it’s too late,” said Yuri Van Geest, co-author of Exponential Organizations.

The prevailing note at #ThinkPH is that, in the coming years, big companies and individuals will have true equal capability to make a difference.

To further the lessons and messages from the tech summit, MovePH, Rappler’s civic-engagement arm, will host a viewing party for its partners and the public on Saturday, September 10. This will be held at the Rappler headquarters. 

Below is the program for the viewing party:



7:00 AM - 8:00 AM


8:00 AM - 8:15 AM

Welcome remarks

Introduce keynote speaker

8:15 AM - 9:25 AM

Yuri Van Geest

Yuri Van Geest is an expert in emerging, exponential, and disruptive technological innovation. He is the founder of Singularity University in the Netherlands, and is best known as the co-author of Exponential Organizations. The best selling book, publishing together with Salim Ismail, Peter Diamandis, and Mike Malone discusses the ways in which technology has led to exponential growth.

9:25 AM - 10:05 AM

Simon Kemp

Simon is an expert marketing strategist with more than a decade’s worth of experience. Over the years, he has developed brand and marketing strategies for worldwide industry leaders including Unilever, Coca-Cola, and Google. Through Kepios, his marketing strategy consultancy, he examines and diagnoses brands, and prescribes solutions.

10:05 AM - 10:50 AM

Eric Cruz

Eric is an internationally acclaimed and multi-award winning creative director. He was the executive creative director of Leo Burnett in Kuala Lumpur, and currently holds the same title for AKQA, Shanghai. Known as a ‘hybrid creative,’ he fuses his expertise in design, film, music, art, and technology and offers a fresh, out-of-this-world take on storytelling. His clients include Nike, NBA, and Johnnie Walker.

10:50 AM - 11:20 AM

Peng Ong

Peng T. Ong is an entrepreneur (co-founded Match.com, Interwoven, Encentuate) turned investor. Currently, he is the Managing Director at Monk's Hill Ventures, a technology venture fund made up of seasoned entrepreneurs who have built and backed global companies in Silicon Valley and Asia. Monk's Hill Ventures focuses on investing in high growth, post-seed stage tech startups in Southeast Asia.

11:20 AM - 11:45 AM

Panel discussion

11:45 - 12:00 PM

Closing remarks

Rupert Ambil

Executive Director, MovePH


Where to get your tickets?

You can get your tickets through Eventbrite or bank deposit

I. Eventbrite

1. Visit Rappler's Eventbrite page here.

2. Use your credit card or PayPal account to make a ticket purchase.

3. After confirmation, you will receive an email with your Eventbrite ticket(s). Download and save this file.

3. At the viewing party, please present your ticket at the registration booth. 


II. Bank Deposit 

1. You can also deposit ticket fee of P500 per person through BPI or Security Bank

BPI Account Name: Rappler Inc.

Account Number: 2431-0082-06

Security Bank Account Name: Rappler Inc.

Account Number: 003845-716 

2. Once the deposit is made, please email your deposit slip to thinkph@rappler.com together with the following details:

  • Complete name of attendees
  • Company or school organizations
  • Contact information (email address, mobile number, and landline number)
3. Once deposit is made, Rappler will reply with confirmation of deposit within 48 hours and will send the Eventbrite ticket(s) to your email. – Rappler.com