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Groups collaborate to prevent diarrhea outbreak in Catanduanes


SAFER WATER. The Humanitarian Response Consortium (HRC) provides a water bladder that could be used to purify up to 5,000 liters of water per batch for about 400 families in Barangay Santo Niño and nearby communities in typhoon-hit Catanduanes. Photo by Angela Casauay/Oxfam

MANILA, Philippines – The risk of diarrhea continues to pose a serious threat to some areas in Catanduanes in the aftermath of Typhoon Nina (Nock-ten), which struck southern Luzon on December 25, destroying water sources.

Local officials fear that the overflow after the heavy rain brought by Typhoon Nina could worsen the condition of water systems, especially after some major water lines were destroyed.

Decay from vegetation and trees that were damaged by the storm could also aggravate contamination, said Provincial Health Officer Hazel Palmes.

In November 2016, more than 100 diarrhea cases were recorded in the province. One of the worst outbreaks happened in Barangay Santo Niño, where at least two residents were reported to have died due to diarrheal disease. 

“Some of our neighbors were treated immediately but there were those who were hard-headed. That’s why we lost some lives. There are times when the water coming out of our pipes is discolored. We have been working on making everyone aware that they should boil their water before drinking,” said Gloria Occol, a barangay health worker.

Health officers have been appealing to residents to boil their water for the recommended 10 minutes to 15 minutes before drinking, or get their water from safer sources.

The community was one of the areas that tested positive for fecal contamination before the storm hit in December. Many houses in the village still do not have their own toilets, while the practice of open defecation is unaccounted.

Unaffordable drinking water

Rita Vargas, another barangay health worker in Virac, said many people in her community now buy water from refilling station because it is safer.  However, after the storm, the price of one gallon of distilled water increased from P25 to P40 since the stores need generator sets to function.

She said this is an additional burden for them. Most residents in Barangay Santo Niño are abaca farmers, one of the sectors most affected by the recent typhoon. The local government unit In Virac estimated that almost 100% of abaca trees were damaged by strong winds and heavy rain.

“It is really a sacrifice for us. We just persevere,” she said.

Only 5 out of 11 municipalities in Catanduanes are serviced by water districts, which regularly chlorinate their water. However, some chlorinators would not function until electricity is fully restored. Up to 70% of electric posts were knocked down during the storm, according to Catanduanes Governor Joseph Cua.

The quality of other sources of water for drinking and other daily needs are not monitored regularly.

Water bladder installed

On Sunday, January 1, the Humanitarian Response Consortium (HRC) installed a water bladder that could be used to purify up to 5,000 liters of water per batch for about 400 families in Barangay Santo Niño and nearby communities. The project was initiated in collaboration with the Catanduanes Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council through the Provincial Health Office and the Virac Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council.

Aqua tablets, which are used to treat water for drinking in emergency situations, were distributed during the installation of the bladder. An information session to explain proper hygiene and water use was also conducted.

“This is just an initial step in assisting local authorities in addressing humanitarian needs in affected areas. We are willing to work with the local government in crafting and implementing a long-term solution related to water, sanitation and hygiene, as well as other needs on shelter and livelihood,” said Bong Masagca, head of the rapid assessment and response team that was deployed in Catanduanes after Typhoon Nina.

The Humanitarian Response Consortium is composed of 3 groups that are activated in emergency situations: People’s Disaster Risk Reduction Network, A Single Drop for Safe Water, and the Rural Development Institute of Sultan Kudarat Inc.

With the support of Oxfam and UNICEF, the team is coordinating with officials from the barangay, municipal and provincial level on what can be done to improve the water, sanitation and hygiene situation in Catanduanes.– Rappler.com




Indigenous leader, educator receive national awards for social work


Indigenous leader Marcelo Gusanan and educator Ryan Homan are recognized as 2016 National Outstanding Volunteers by the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency. Photo by DSWD

Two community volunteers were recently awarded as 2016 National Outstanding Volunteers by the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency in December 2016 at Crowne Plaza Hotel, Quezon City.

Marcelo L. Gusanan, a 42-year-old B’laan leader and farmer from Barangay Eday, Columbio in Sultan Kudarat province bested nominees of the National Outstanding Volunteers – Adult category for his extensive work as the leader and community volunteer of Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS). 

Gusanan, in his speech, shared the value that volunteering taught him. “Napatunayan ko na hindi sa tribo, hindi sa antas ng edukasyon at pamumuhay ang pagtulong. Ang pag-unlad ay hindi hinihintay, ito ay ipinaglalaban at pinagpapaguran sa pamamagitan ng pagbo-volunteer (My experience proves that helping others has nothing to do with ethnicity, level of education, or way of living. We should not wait for development but instead fight and work for it by volunteering),” he said.

The B’laan are an indigenous tribe from Southern Mindanao. In the 2000’s, they were displaced due to the armed conflict in their community and were forced to return to burned-down houses and ravaged farms and livestock. Marred by poverty and experiences with organizations that used their names in exchange for aid which never came, the B’laans were hesitant about offered programs that promise help, including Kalahi-CIDSS. 

VOLUNTEER. Marcelo Gusanan, a 42-year-old B’laan leader and farmer from Barangay Eday, Columbio in Sultan Kudarat province learns how to prepare proposals and manage community projects through DSWD's Kalahi-CIDSS program. Photo courtesy of DSWD

The Kalahi-CIDSS community facilitators went from house to house to encourage the B’laan, including Gusanan, to participate in their own development. In the long and tedious process that followed, the B’laan recognized their collective strength, learning to prepare proposals and other documents and to manage community projects. As a result, they erected a potable water system in an 800-square meter solar dryer for farmers, and a two-classroom building through Kalahi-CIDSS. 

Naramdaman namin ang aming halaga, ang respeto ng programa sa mga IP (indigenous peoples) dahil sa kauna-unahang pagkakataon ay hinayaan kami ang magdesisyon at magplano kung ano sa tingin namin ang mas nakabubuti sa amin," Gusanan said.

(We feel that we are valued and respected as indigenous peoples because for the first time, they let us decide and plan according to what we know is best for us.)

Meanwhile, educator and fellow volunteer Ryan Homan won the National Outstanding Volunteer-Youth category for his literacy initiatives such as “Balsa Basa.” Homan fetches children from far-flung sitios in his hometown Donsol, Sorsogon and teaches them how to read onboard a bamboo raft. 

Layunin namin na iangat ang literacy at mapangalagaan ang Inang Kalikasan (Our goal is to improve the literacy rate and protect the environment),” Homan said.

Both Gusanan and Homan were chairpersons of the Barangay Subproject Management Committee, the group comprised of ordinary citizens who manage Kalahi-CIDSS community projects. 

Kalahi-CIDSS works by empowering communities in targeted poor and disaster-affected municipalities to identify their own needs, and collectively implement and manage solutions to these needs. – Rappler.com



Studying in the US alone and at 15


It started with a movie.

In the summer of 1993, four years after it was released, I saw Dead Poets Society, a coming-of-age film set at a conservative all-boys boarding school. Robin Williams played an English teacher to a crew(cut) of boys, who wanted to “carpe diem.”

I can still remember where I sat in the movie theater that warm night in Saudi and how my heart raced when the young men, dressed in their peacoats, walked in the snow to see their friend play Puck in Midsummer Night’s Dream.

In one scene, Williams stands on his desk and asks his students, “Why do I stand up here? Anybody? I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way.”

I had been imagining life in the US since I was a 5-year-old flipping through JC Penney catalogues, a reverie that seemed astronomically improbable; but on the drive home, I told my father, “I want to go to boarding school.”

The next morning, I woke up to a US boarding school directory on my bed. Knowing nothing about boarding schools or how I would even afford it, with my father, in front of our word processor, I started to write: To Whom It May Concern. Filipino. Scholarship. Thank you.

(I still marvel at the fact that my father, who attended the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy because he could go for free, helped me write those letters. He would tell me later, "It costs nothing to dream.")

The school I would eventually choose was, in my romantic mind, the result of synchronicity.

Mr Scott and the author. Photo by Kristine Sydney

My 9th grade history teacher Mrs Wagner introduced me to the director of admissions Mr Lampe, who made it possible for me to attend. The teacher, Mr Scott, in the brochure video reminded me of Mr Keating. It helped, too, that the school had a coat-and-tie dress code, which matched up with what I saw in the movie.

What I could not know, then, was that I would meet my closest friends there (half my wedding guest list were my high school friends); discover my love of literature; and walk in the snow to see a school play.

In photos taken my senior year, my smile is as wide as the breadth of my arms, which are raised above my head or around friends’ shoulders. The school became home enough that one of my yearbook superlatives was “Most Likely to Return as a Teacher.”

But in those first pictures from Move-in Day 1994, I have a diffident smile, and I am wearing an outfit that I copied piece by piece off of the mannequin at Contempo Casuals. My mother’s arms are wrapped around me, whose back is rod straight. It’s obvious from my frozen posture that I am sad.

My mom, who helped me move into my dorm, is leaving soon after we take these photos. My father and sisters are back home in Saudi Arabia, writing their first letters to me. I am also scared: I had only been to a few slumber parties my entire life and here I was, the only Filipino. And I am hungry, so hungry: in my nervousness, I barely ate my lunch (a sandwich, probably.)

But invisible to everyone is that I am ecstatic. At 5 the next morning, stunned awake by jetlag, I slipped out of my bedroom and sat in the common room where I heard only the hum of the refrigerator and the squawking of geese, which struck me as an odd conflation of the ordinary and sublime. A little more than a year earlier, coming to America was part of an experiment. I applied to schools thinking I’d had nothing to lose, and America, which I had dreamt about for years, was now, actually, my life.

In the next few weeks, I would learn to play timpani; ask my crush, Juan from Spain, to Sadie Hawkins (a semi-formal in which girls ask the boys); read Macbeth with a gravely witch’s voice; and walk back from town in the rain with Ames, my Spanish classmate, the first amigo I made. I’d catch up with Raymond during study hall. I would buy bras for the first time without my mother with Nadia, who would later cut my hair with paper scissors in a second floor bathroom. I’d spend a weekend with her and Cynthia in Lee, Massachusetts, just because. These moments, which can seem prosaic now, shimmered for me, then.

The most salient lesson for me during those first few years in the US was to say yes – a lot and often. Yes to the invitation to Thanksgiving break with Marie. Yes to salami and Swiss for the first time. Yes to Parents’ Weekend dinner with Heather’s parents. Yes to hanging out with Cory and Kris over February break, that first kiss, the first heartache. Yes to what Mr Scott would call “making decisions with your eyes half-closed and your feet on shaky ground.”

I’d like to think I would have had the courage to embrace these uncertainties even if I had stayed in Saudi Arabia or returned to the Philippines where I was more comfortable, the culture, familiar. But, if I were honest with myself, I’d have to admit that it was my vulnerability which forced me to be braver and more independent than I was. (I think that lesson was my parents’, too, who let me go, even though we have no family in the US.)

AMERICAN DREAM. The author was only 15 when she decided to study in the US. Photo by Kristine Sydney

Sometimes I forget how shy I was at 15 when I first came to this country. When I remember my ignorance and awkwardness, I cringe a little, but it is, as Joan Didion writes, “a good idea... to keep in touch.”

Over Christmas break, I spent a weekend at the Simsbury 1820 House, a bed and breakfast in Simsbury, Connecticut, where I saw an international student from Asia having breakfast with her mother. There was something about the way that she sliced into her Danish and the hushed tones in which she spoke to her mother that reminded me of myself 23 years earlier.

I overhear them say that they’re catching a train to Washington DC. I assume it is their first time, as they’re poring over their itinerary. Maybe it’s her first winter break stateside. Maybe they’re looking at colleges. What is clear to me is that she’s relatively new here.

I wish them happy holidays as they walk out, but what I really want to say is that I am happy for her.

She has so much to see and more to remember. – Rappler.com

Kristine Sydney was born in the Philippines, raised in Saudi Arabia, and has studied and worked in the United States for the last 23 years. She teaches high school English at a private school in Rhode Island. Follow her on Twitter at @kosheradobo.

Surigao del Sur town evacuates over 200 residents due to Auring


Image courtesy of PAGASA

MANILA, Philippiens – The municipal government of San Miguel in Surigao del Sur province ordered the evacuation of at least 51 families or 217 people in risky areas as Tropical Depression Auring intensified on Saturday afternoon, January 7, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said.

The families are now staying in two evacuation centers in San Miguel, the DSWD reported Saturday night. 

According to DSWD, there are at least 976,704 families or 4,883,546 people who are "exposed to areas that are highly to very highly susceptible to landslide or flooding" in regions Caraga, X, VIII, VII, NIR, XII, ARMM, XI, and VI.

Of the population that is expected to be affected, over 420,000 families are poor. 

The agency has standby funds and stockpiles worth P895.3 million broken down as follows:

  • Standby funds – P 132,135,253.58  
  • Family food packs – P 198,263,790.72
  • Food and non-food items – P 564,911,326.71.

DSWD, which is the lead agency for disaster response, announced that its Disaster Response Operations Monitoring and Information Center (DROMIC) is monitoring the development of this weather disturbance 24/7.

The state weather bureau placed 9 provinces in Mindanao under Storm Warning Signal Number 1 on Saturday afternoon, January 7.

PAGASA said Auring is expected to hit land over the Surigao provinces between Sunday evening and early Monday morning, January 8 or 9.

The state weather bureau also advised residents of areas under a storm warning signal, as well as the rest of the Davao Region and Northern Mindanao, against possible flash floods and landslides.

PAGASA also told affected residents to prepare for moderate to heavy rainfall within the 300-km diameter of Auring. – Rappler.com


CHECKLIST: What mayors should do hours before Auring hits land


MANILA, Philippines – Tropical Depression Auring is expected to hit land over the Surigao provinces between Sunday evening and early Monday morning, January 8 or 9, state weather bureau PAGASA said on Saturday, January 7.

The hours between a typhoon’s entry into the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) and its landfall are a critical time for disaster risk reduction and management.

Below are some critical preparedness actions based on the Oplan Listo (Operation Plan Alert) of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) that local governments should be taking hours before the typhoon hits land. 

The 1991 Local Government Code and the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010 mandate local government units to be at the frontline of emergency measures during disasters.

The minimum critical activities that LGUs under Charlie or Red alert should be doing in affected areas are:

  • Secure power, water supply, and communications
  • Start preemptive evacuation
  • Announce forced evacuation
  • Prepare list of evacuees
  • Distribute relief packs and conduct mass feeding
  • Stop traffic in landslide-prone areas

Oplan Listo uses a disaster preparedness manual that provides mayors and other local government disaster management agencies a checklist of what should be done before, during, and after typhoons.

The manual includes flowcharts that correspond to 3 phases of critical preparedness actions – Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie. It also provides a tropical cyclone information board and reference boxes and minimum actions to guide mayors.

CHARLIE. A set of preparedness actions that LGUs should undertake before a typhoon makes landfall. Infographic by Oplan Listo/DILG

Provinces on red alert

As of Saturday, January 7, the following areas are on Charlie alert, according to the DILG:

  • Agusan del Sur
  • Agusan del Norte
  • Bohol
  • Camiguin
  • Cebu
  • Misamis Oriental
  • Negros Oriental
  • Negros Occidental
  • Palawan
  • Siquijor
  • Surigao del Sur
  • Surigao del Norte

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) also on Saturday said there are at least 976,704 families or 4,883,546 people who are "exposed to areas that are highly to very highly susceptible to landslide or flooding" in regions Caraga, X, VIII, VII, NIR, XII, ARMM, XI, and VI.

Of the population that is expected to be affected, over 420,000 families are poor. – Rappler.com


Check if your mayors are taking these minimum preparedness activities that LGUs should be enforcing in areas expected to be affected by Tropical Depression Auring. Tell us how prepared your LGUs are through email (move.ph@rappler.com) or Twitter (@moveph).




Thousands of passengers stranded due to Auring


MANILA, Philippines – Thousands of passengers were stranded after the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) suspended several bus trips and port operations on Sunday, January 8, due to Tropical Depression Auring.

The tropical depression, which made landfall in Siargao Island on Sunday afternoon, is affecting parts of the Visayas and Mindanao.

As of posting, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said there are 6,079 stranded passengers in various ports.

The LTFRB initially suspended all bus trips to the province of Cebu, which is among the areas under signal number 1.

In a separate statement, it also said port operations have been suspended in the following areas, and bus operators are advised to also suspend their trips:

  • Lipata
  • Surigao
  • San Ricardo
  • Dumaguete
  • Larena
  • Tagbilaran
  • Nasipit
  • Dumanga
  • Liloan, Southern Leyte
  • Cagayan de Oro
  • Benoni
  • Balingoan

The LTFRB said bus operators should attend to passengers' needs and give them "ready access to food and personal amenities." – Rappler.com

NDRRMC to Black Nazarene devotees: Be vigilant


BLACK NAZARENE. Blessing of the Black Nazarene replica in Quiapo, Manila on January 7, 2017. Photo by Rob Reyes/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines –  The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) is helping with the preparations for the observance of the annual Feast of the Black Nazarene on Monday, January 9, in Manila.

According to NDRRMC Executive Director Ricardo Jalad, the council's response group extended assistance "to ensure the safety and well-being of the devotees as they engage in the traditional activities of the observance."

The NDRRMC's efforts complement the preparations done by the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene (Quiapo Church), the Manila City government through its Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO), and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) through the Metro Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (MMDRRMC).

A national standby-alert reserve force for "consequence management operations" was organized to attend to possible injuries or other hazards that may occur from January 8 to 10.

NDRRMC RESPONSE. DSWD Assistant Secretary Hope Hervilla and OCD Assistant Secretary Demosthenes Santillan convene the NDRRMC's response cluster to prepare for the Feast of the Black Nazarene and Tropical Depression Auring on January 8, 2017. Photo by Voltaire Tupaz/Rappler

The standby-alert force is composed of the following NDRRMC member-agencies: 

  • Office of Civil Defense (OCD) and its National Capital Region Office (OCD NCR)
  • Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)
  • Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG)
  • Philippine National Police (PNP)
  • Philippine Coast Guard (PCG)
  • Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)
  • Department of Health (DOH)
  • Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP)
  • Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)
  • Philippine Red Cross (PRC)

Volunteer groups such as STOUT Philippines, Zion Emergency and Disaster Rescue Unit, REACT Philippines, and the Emergency Response Integration Center (ERIC) are also joining the standby-alert force.

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-video" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">&quot;Be calm but vigilant&quot; - <a href="https://twitter.com/NDRRMC_OpCen">@NDRRMC_OpCen</a> national incident management team commander Lt Col Conde to Black Nazarene devotees <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Traslacion2017?src=hash">#Traslacion2017</a> <a href="https://t.co/nw0lOAtmmt">pic.twitter.com/nw0lOAtmmt</a></p>&mdash; Voltaire Tupaz (@VoltaireTupaz) <a href="https://twitter.com/VoltaireTupaz/status/818051129065893888">January 8, 2017</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}


What to do in case of emergency 

The NDRRMC also urged the public to be vigilant as they observe the annual feast which is expected to draw up to 8 million devotees raring to touch or see a 17th-century mulatto image of Jesus Christ in a procession called the Traslacion.

"Maging mapagmatyag at magsabi agad sa mga kinauukulan kung may mapansin kayong kahina-hinala sa inyong paligid (Be vigilant and immediately report suspicious incidents that you observe)," said Lieutenant Colonel Gilbert Conde, commander of the NDRRMC's national incident management team. 

The Philippine National Police (PNP) also said a terror threat during the Feast of the Black Nazarene "is always there" especially because there is a possible "spillover" of terrorist acts in Mindanao.

"'Pag may mga mangyari, sumunod lang sa mga inuutos ng mga nakatalaga doon sa lugar na iyon. Huwag mag-panic, kasi 'yun ang nakadagdag ng mga hindi magandang nagyayari sa atin during the activities," Conde said.

(If an untoward incident happens, follow the orders of authorities deployed to the area. Don't panic because it worsens the situation.)

According to the NDRRMC, response assets and personnel have been prepositioned to respond to any emergency that might occur particularly during the Traslacion.

The deployment includes an air ambulance, a search and rescue helicopter, two water search and rescue teams, two collapsed structure search and rescue teams, two urban search and rescue teams, 8 ambulances, 3 fire trucks with fire suppression teams, 40 motorcycle riders, and a communication van.

More than 5,700 law enforcers have been deployed to secure devotees. – Rappler.com

#WalangPasok: Class and work suspensions, Monday, January 9


Please refresh this page for updates.

MANILA, Philippines – Here is a list of areas where classes and work have been suspended for Monday, January 9.

Classes in all levels as well as local government work are suspended in the city of Manila due to the Feast of the Black Nazarene.

Classes are suspended in the following areas due to Tropical Depression Auring.

  • Agusan del Norte - all levels (public and private)
  • Cabadbaran City - all levels (public and private)
  • Butuan City - all levels (public and private)
  • Bayabas, Surigao del Sur - all levels (public and private)
  • Cebu province - preschool to high school (public and private)
  • Bohol province - preschool to high school (public and private)

The following areas have also suspended work in government offices:

  • Bayugan City - all levels (public and private) and government work

The Office of Civil Defense Caraga Region is posting the latest information on its Facebook page

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

Emergency hotlines for #Nazareno2017


DIGITAL HUMANITARIANS. Lt Col Edwin Sadang (Right), head of NDRRMC's Rapid Emergency Telecommunications Team (RETT), briefs volunteers on how to monitor reports posted via the hashtag #Nazareno2017 and #Traslacion2017. The volunteers are members of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) Radio Engineering Circle. Photo by Voltaire Tupaz/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) is helping with the preparations for the observance of the annual Feast of the Black Nazarene on Monday, January 9, in Manila.

The NDRRMC called on the public to be vigilant as they observe the annual feast which is expected to draw up to 8 million devotees raring to touch or see a 17th-century mulatto image of Jesus Christ in a procession called the Traslacion.

Contact the following emergency hotlines for urgent medical needs and other critical reports. On Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, use the hashtags #Nazareno2017 and #Traslacion2017 when posting reports, photos, and video. 

If any untoward incident happens, don't panic. Follow the orders of authorities deployed to the area. 

The NDRRMC's efforts complement the preparations done by the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene (Quiapo Church), the Manila City government through its Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO), and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) through the Metro Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (MMDRRMC). – Rappler.com


LIST: Power outages due to Tropical Depression Auring


AFTER AURING. Power lines on a street in Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte are down. Photo by Perry Paul Lamanilao

MANILA, Philippines – Some transmission lines and power facilities have been affected by Tropical Depression Auring, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) said on Monday, January 9.

The NGCP said that the loss of power may be caused by its affected transmission facilities or distribution facilities of local distribution utilities or electric cooperatives.

"Specific cities and municipalities affected by the power interruptions are determined by concerned Distribution Utilities, unless the outage affects the entire franchise area," the NGCP said in a statement.

As of 6 am, Monday, the following transmission lines and facilities have been affected by the tropical depression:

Puerto-Damlag 34.5kV line
Affected customer: BUSECO
Date/time out: January 8, 6:11 pm
Butuan-Placer 138kV line 1
Date/time out: January 8, 9:47 pm

Placer-Madrid 69kV line
Affected customer: SIARELCO, SURNECO, SURSECO 2
Date/time out: January 8, 9:47 pm

Placer-Surigao 69kV STL
Affected customer: SURNECO
Date/time out: January 8, 9:47 pm

In a bulletin issued 5 am on Monday, January 9, state weather bureau PAGASA said Auring is already 100 kilometers east northeast of Tagbilaran, Bohol. It is now moving west northwest at 9 kilometers per hour (km/h) from the previous 7 km/h.

The tropical depression still has maximum winds of up to 45 km/h and gustiness of up to 75 km/h. It had slightly weakened early Sunday evening, January 8, after making landfall over Siargao Island on Sunday afternoon. – Rappler.com

LIST: Medical posts, hospitals for #Traslacion2017


A map of medical posts manned by Department of Health and Manila Health Department personnel provided by the DOH

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) released a list of hospitals and medical command posts on Monday, January 9, that devotees of Traslacion 2017 can go to if they have medical emergencies during the festivities.

The following medical command posts are manned either by DOH, the Manila Health Department (MHD), or volunteer groups:

  • Quirino Grandstand
  • President Cory Aquino Monument 
  • Liwasang Bonifacio
  • Manila Police District Station 3
  • Bonifacio Drive - Manila Hotel
  • Roxas Boulevard - Kilometer Zero
  • President Cory Aquino - Bonifacio Drive
  • Manila Ocean Park

Medical teams are also deployed in MMDA Worker’s Inn, Roundtable, Metropolitan Theater, Muelle del Banco Nacional, Balikbayan, Villarica, Quezon Boulevard (north bound), Mercury Drugstore Quiapo, and Citystate Hotel. 

A map of advanced medical posts manned by volunteer groups provided by the Department of Health.

DOH has raised Code Blue Alert for all Metro Manila hospitals from January 8 to 10. This means that 50% of all hospital personnel will report for duty in the facility to render medical services.

The Black Nazarene procession – or the Traslacion – left the Quirino Grandstand at 5:28 am Monday, with the police estimating the initial crowd to be at close to half a million. The crowd is expected to swell in the coming hours, while the procession is anticipated to last throughout the day and night.

The health department also stated that all DOH-retained and Manila LGU-run hospitals will be the receiving hospitals for those who will be injured during the Traslacion. These include:

  • Gat Andres Bonifacio Memorial Medical Center 
  • Justice Abad Santos Mother & Child Hospital
  • Ospital ng Maynila Medical Center
  • Sta Ana Hospital
  • Ospital ng Sampaloc
  • Ospital ng Tondo II
  • Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center
  • Tondo Medical Center
  • San Lazaro Hospital

More than a hundred injured, so far

DEVOTION. The Black Nazarene procession moves in front of the National Museum as of 9:30 am on Monday, January 9. Photo by Paterno Esmaquel/Rappler

According to DOH's report, as of 5 am Monday, there were already 101 reported cases of hypertension, dizziness, headache, and blood pressure monitoring.

The Philippine Red Cross, which also deployed its volunteer medical teams, reported 69 incidents as of 8 am. Most of the cases are on blood pressure monitoring, and minor incidents like bruises and dizziness.

Quiapo’s The Black Nazarene procession, held annually every January 9, attracts devotees from all walks of life because the image of the suffering Christ is supposedly miraculous. Up to 8 million Catholics are drawn to the procession each year, few of them discouraged by reported mishaps, injuries and even deaths. – Rappler.com

Over 5,400 families affected by Tropical Depression Auring


PREPAREDNESS. Tropical Depression Auring batters Siargao Island on Monday morning, January 9, 2017. Photo by Perry Paul Lamanilao

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATED) More than 23,121 people from 5,423 families were affected by Tropical Depression Auring as of 1 pm Monday, January 9, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said in a report.

Of this number, around 5,371 families or 22,879 people were displaced in Caraga, the provinces located in the northeastern part of Mindanao. Some 4,745 of these families or 20,429 people are currently staying in evacuation centers.

At least 30 local government units in the following provinces also held preemptive evacuations for the tropical depression:

  • Surigao del Sur – 1,286 families or 5,336 people
  • Surigao del Norte – 845 families or 2,917 people
  • Dinagat Islands – 304 families or 1,109 people
  • Agusan del Sur – 33 families or 140 people
  • Agusan del Norte – 486 families or 2,277 people
  • Butuan City – 539 families or 2,712 people

Auring, which made landfall in Siargao Island on Sunday afternoon, is affecting parts of the Visayas and Mindanao with more than a dozen areas still under signal number 1.

The social welfare department said it has positioned 206,523 family food packs in 5 of its regional warehouses. DSWD also has more than P97 million *($1.957 million) of standby funds in its central and field offices, more than P82 million *($1.654 million) of which is available for quick response. 

LGUs in Caraga have already provided relief assistance to affected families amounting to more than P190,000 *($3,833), the department reported. – Rappler.com 

*$1 = P49.56

Educators to gather for 2nd National K to 12 Conference


MANILA, Philippines – Education stakeholders gather once again on January 10-11 for the 2nd National K to 12 Conference in Manila. 

With the theme "One DepEd for Quality Basic Education," the 2nd National K to 12 Conference builds on the gains of the first conference organized in early December of 2016 and the National Education Summit held at the SM Mall of Asia.

The Department of Education said the second edition of the conference will "focus on best practices in the implementation of programs from Kindergarten to Junior High School (JHS); SHS programs, governance and learning environment; and creation of partnerships and linkages for SHS."

Around 1,300 people are expected to attend the 2-day Conference. Rappler will livestream the plenary session on January 10 at 8:30 AM Philippine Standard Time. - Rappler.com

PH gov't opens draft development plan to public comments


OPEN TO PUBLIC COMMENTS. The National Economic and Development Authority released the draft Philippine Development Plan for public review. Photos from NEDA website

MANILA, Philippines – The government has released details of its development plan which seeks to improve the quality of life of Filipinos by 2016.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) uploaded on its website on Tuesday, January 10, the different chapters of the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) for the period 2017 to 2022. The document includes measures that hope to reduce jobless rate, underemployment, and poverty.

The public can share their comments and suggestions by clicking on the different chapters and accessing the feedback form for each chapter. Inputs will be accepted until 12 pm on Thursday, January 12.

“These will be considered in the finalization of the chapter write-up prior to its presentation in the 3rd Plan Steering Committee Meeting scheduled on January 16, 2017,” NEDA said in a statement.

“We invite the public once again to contribute to this very important conversation, which is about translating our collective vision into concrete actions,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said.

What is the Philippine Development Plan?

The PDP lays down the current administration’s plans, reforms, policies, and targets to address issues and concerns of the country.

In 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered NEDA to draft a new PDP and to ensure the participation of all sectors in its formulation.

Under the Duterte administration, the PDP will include policies, programs, and activities that are anchored on the AmBisyon Natin 2040, a 25-year, long-term vision for development planning and its 8-point socioeconomic agenda.

PDP 2017-2022 is the first medium-term development plan anchored on a long-term vision that has also undergone methodical public consultations, according to NEDA.

“The three pillars of the next Philippine development plan are Malasakit (compassion), Pagbabago (change), at Kaunlaran (prosperity). These will be supported by a strong foundation in national peace and security, strategic and accelerated infrastructure development, resiliency, and ecological integrity,” Pernia said.

In November 2016, NEDA conducted a series of intensive consultations in the 17 regions of the country to get inputs from the the legislature, executive agencies, local government units, business sector, academe, and civil society.

The draft plan has 7 parts, divided into 22 chapters:

  • Introduction (with Overview and Framework)
  • Enhancing the Social Fabric (Malasakit)
  • Reducing Inequality in Economic Development Opportunities (Pagbabago)
  • Increasing Potential Growth (Kaunlaran)
  • Enabling and Supportive Economic Environment
  • Foundations for Inclusive and Sustainable Development, and Moving Forward

MovePH, Rappler’s civic engagement arm will help the government in crowdsourcing inputs for the PDP. – Rappler.com

Climate advocates call for innovative ideas to reduce oil dependence


MANILA, Philippines – If you think you can help reduce the world’s dependency on oil, you might want to join a global competition called the Oil Breakthrough Lab 2017.


The Oil Breakthrough Lab 2017 is a competition geared at welcoming new solutions to reduce oil dependence worldwide, organized by the Climate Strategies Accelerator (CSA).


Chosen participants will attend a one-week fully funded boot camp and take part in a three-month acceleration sprint with a network of experts and seasoned innovators to develop their project ideas.


After the lab, candidates will come out with a polished proposal which will be presented in September this year to the CSA network of funders who will decide if any of them will receive grants to pursue their ideas.


“It’s not enough to rely on the institutions and individuals who are already trying to reduce our oil dependency. The CSA is on the hunt for new ideas from new places, solutions that will unravel our addiction to oil,” the Climate Tracker, CSA’s partner in this project, said in a statement.


“(It will) set the stage for game-changing shifts in how we do business,” it added.


Oil is used to make petroleum products that fuel cars and airplanes, and aid in businesses and other daily necessities. But even though it has a lot of benefits, it can also harm the environment, triggering innovators to explore alternative options.


The CSA is both a funder with $20 million in funding to invest in new projects and an accelerator with experts ready to guide innovative ideas into concrete projects.


Projects in the lab do not need to be limited to pipelines and oil projects. It can be about reimagining transit systems, urban planning, land rights, manufacturing, or consumer behavior, but should be high-potential concepts with far political and social reach.


Previous winners from this competition include promoting bicycles in China as a form of low carbon transport and a campaign encouraging insurance companies to stop investments on fossil fuel projects.


Participants will receive $5,000 and, if chosen by funders, will win up to $2 million to pursue their ideas.


The competition is open to everyone. Individuals from non-government organizations (NGOs), universities, and think tanks are welcome to join. No age limit or professional background is required.


Applicants may send their resume to Roy Joseph Roberto, Climate Tracker’s Regional Coordinator for Southeast Asia, at royjosephroberto@yahoo.com to get instructions on how to apply.


Deadline for applications is on January 31, 2017. – Rappler.com/with a report by Cathrine Gonzales

For 1st time, Pope names Fil-Am to head US diocese


FIL-AM BISHOP. Oscar Solis, a Filipino-American bishop from Nueva Ecija, is set to lead the Diocese of Salt Lake City in Utah. Photo from the Diocese of Salt Lake City's Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines – For the first time, a Filipino-American will head a diocese in the United States after Pope Francis named Bishop Oscar Solis, a 63-year-old native of Nueva Ecija, as bishop of Salt Lake City in Utah.

"He will now be the first Filipino-American bishop to lead a diocese in the US," the Diocese of Salt Lake City announced on Tuesday, January 10.

In a statement, the Diocese of Salt Lake City said Solis will become their 10th bishop, and is set to be installed at the Cathedral of the Madeleine on March 7. 

After his appointment was announced, Solis held a news conference where he stressed the need to invite the youth back to the Catholic Church.

Solis said: "They always say that the youth is the future of our nation, of our Church. That is a wrong premise. The youth is our Church. The youth is our Church now, and not in the future."

On immigrants to the US, Solis said, "The diversity of the United States reflects the kind of Church we have in America."  

"We are a diverse people of cultures, of faith, of status of life, and everything. But there is only one mission that we have. The common mission as a church and as a nation – to live as a country, one country. In the midst of diversity, we want to have unity," the bishop added.

1st Fil-Am bishop ordained in US

Solis has been auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles since February 10, 2004.

"He was the first Filipino-American bishop ordained in the United States," the Diocese of Salt Lake City said. 

"The bishop will bring his rich and diverse pastoral experience to his ministry in Utah," the diocese added.

Solis was born in San Jose, Nueva Ecija, on October 13, 1953. 

He later studied at the Divine Word Seminary in Tagaytay City and also the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops said in a separate statement.

Ordained to the priesthood on April 28, 1979, he once served in the Archdiocese of Manila and the Diocese of Cabanatuan. 

He has ministered to Catholics in the US as early as 1984, his first assignment being in Union City, New Jersey, as associate pastor until 1988.

Coming from a country where 8 out of 10 people belong to the Catholic Church, Solis is set to lead a diocese made up of 295,000 Catholics – around 10% of a total population of 2.94 million. – Rappler.com

WATCH: Making agriculture a viable career for millennials


TEACHING AGRICULTURE. Students from Marinduque work on their school garden in one of AGREA's projects 'The Garden Classroom' that helps teach kids the value of growing their own food, eating healthy, camaraderie, love for the environment. Photo courtesy of AGREA

MANILA, Philippines — One of the greatest ironies of our time is that our food producers – farmers and fisherfolks – are among the hungriest and poorest. 

Farming and fishing are noble professions, but they are being neglected. So it’s no surprise that the average Filipino farmer is 57 years old, with younger generations opting out of farming in pursuit of a "better life" elsewhere. 

This is why Cherrie Atilano is pushing to make farming "cool, smart, and humane."

Growing up in a farm in Negros Occidental, Atilano started her advocacy in agriculture when she was 12 years old.  

"It pains me everytime I talk to our farmers. We ask them if they have bank account or if they have a notion of having a bank account. They think it's just for rich people. They don't have any concept of saving," Atilano said.

Farming has been a neglected sector by the government for decades, Atilano added. There is much work to be done in empowering farmers and farming communities.

"Agriculture was the Philippines' backbone before. But along the way, it was somehow forgotten. I always say that agriculture in the Philippines is politicized. We measure the yield of crops but we don’t really measure the impact on the farmer’s lives," she said.

Atilano added: "The government should really focus on building this backbone. Because agriculture is a huge industry.  When you plant rice, it is a plant industry. You know, when you plant coffee, it can be a coffee industry. When you plant cotton, of course, our clothing comes from cotton. You know when you plant a cacao, it will be a chocolate industry."

Agriculture for millennials

Atilano started AGREA (‘agriculture’ and ‘Gaea’), a social enterprise that hopes to empower farmers and get more people to start farming. It’s goal is three-fold: to eradicate poverty for farming and fishing families, to mitigate the effects of climate change, and to establish food security in the Philippines. 

"We believe in Agrea that everything we do is about cultivation of human beings. That’s why it took us a while to do a lot of community organizing with our farming communities...We do sustainable agricultural practices so the farmers can be resilient even if there are typhoons or floods that may come. But more than that our goal for them is to really be financially literate," she said.

Currently, their efforts are focused in Marinduque — one of the poorest provinces in the entire archipelago due to decades of mining. By implementing a “one-island economy” model, AGREA hopes to ensure foood security for and mitigate environmental and social impacts on the community.

If the model becomes successful, Atilano plans to replicate it in other parts of the country.

The work is not easy but Atilano says it's worth it.

"I think, going out of your comfort zone is the most comfortable thing in life. It’s the most comfortable zone in life that you can experience,” Atilano said.

EARTH MOVER. Cherrie Atilano (center) receives her award during the Move Awards 2016 night at the Ayala Museum. Photo from Rappler

She added that millennials need to commit to their passions and advocacies in order to make them work.

"Many young people, they’re so passionate in things. But when it demands more sacrifices, it demands more going out of your comfort zone, it’s so easy for them to give up," she said.

Atilano added: "The world needs sustainable nurturers. Nurturers that could endure the problems in our society. That could always see opportunities out of these problems. And for me, for those millennials, it is really more on investing on, sacrificing for what you love to do."

This is why Atilano was named Earth Mover for the Move Awards 2016. Her work shows that farming can be a friendly, sustainable, and lucrative profession. – Rappler.com

#RoadAlert: Baguio's Session Road closed on Jan 18 for Miss Universe parade


MISS UNIVERSE. Pia Wurtzbach at the Makati leg of her grand homecoming parade on January 25, 2016. File photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Baguio City's main thouroughfare Session Road will be closed on January 18 from 8 am to 12 nn for the Miss Universe parade happening in the city, the Office of Civil Defense Cordillera Administrative Region (OCD-CAR) announced on Thursday, January 12.

"The visiting Miss Universe delegates and reigning Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach will be riding on a flower-decorated float from Upper Session Road to the Baguio Country Club (BCC)," according to the OCD-CAR.

Wurtzbach and the contestants will be escorted by street dancers who will perform along the 3-kilometer parade route,

According to the office, Baguio Mayor Mauricio Domogan ordered the road closure. 

The temporary closure will affect both lanes of upper Session Road from the Session Rotunda to its junction with Military Cut-Off and Loakan roads, and both lanes of South Drive Road.

A few candidates have started arriving in Manila, while Miss Universe Organization representatives and reigning Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach are set to be in the country for the month-long event. (READ: Miss Universe 2016: Everything you need to know about the pageant)

Baguio City, the country's summer capital, is one of the pageant destinations. All the events will lead up to the coronation night which will be held on Monday, January 30, at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena at 8 am. – Rappler.com

Gov't, ILO vow to free 1 million kids from child labor


ENDING CHILD LABOR. The International Labor Organization, together with several national government agencies, vows to end child labor by 2025. Photo by Patty Pasion/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) estimates that there are around 2.1 million Filipino children exposed to hazardous labor, which includes mining.

Among the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations (UN) is to eliminate child labor by 2025. To help achieve this objective in the Philippines, national agencies have teamed up with the International Labor Organization (ILO).

Their campaign #1MBatangMalaya (1 million free kids) aims to intensify the fight against child labor, and add to the gains accomplished since 2012.

"Progress has been made to address child labor in the country.The annual US Department of Labor findings on the worst forms of child labor showed that the Philippines has made significant advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor since 2012 or 4 consecutive years," said ILO Country Director Khalid Hassan.

"While we are gathered here, children risk their health or even their lives due to child labor. They bend their tiny bodies to carry heavy loads. They expose themselves to hazards and toxic chemicals to earn a few pesos." (READ: Study: At least 1 in 5 PH households tolerates child labor)

The programs under the campaign will primarily be implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the ILO, and environmental group Ban Toxics, with the participation of the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

DSWD and 4Ps

Being at the forefront of upholding children's welfare, the DSWD will spearhead the establishment of Strategic Helpdesks for Information, Education, Livelihood, and other Developmental Interventions (SHIELD) and the establishment of a new child labor module for its Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) development sessions.

SHIELD aims to strengthen efforts at the local level by creating a help desk and a local registry on child labor that can be used to pinpoint incidence of the crime.

The new 4Ps module, meanwhile, will be integrated in the beneficiaries' regular family development sessions (FDS). This includes lessons or talks with parents to raise awareness of the ill effects of exposing their children to hard labor.

"Because of widespread and deep-seated poverty in the Philippines, so many children are forced to forego their childhood and become workers in factories, mines, plantations so they can earn pittance wages they can give to their parents. We should all work together to bring an end to child labor and help children recover their childhood," DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said.

Children in mining

DOLE, for its part, will seek to eliminate child labor from the mining industry. Mining is considered the worst form of child labor due to the exposure to chemicals and the hazardous environment.

DOLE will work hand in hand with the ILO and Ban Toxics for the CARING-Gold Project.

Funded by the US Department of Labor, the project aims to target the root cause of child labor by gathering information on the ground and developing strategies to improve the lives of families working in artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM).

DOLE Undersecretary Joel Maglungsod said during the launch that there is a need to formalize these small-scale mining operations so that the government may intervene and monitor them.

"Once they are legalized, the government can enter to inspect and implement our labor standards," he said.

The ILO stressed that the community's participation is essential to freeing children from the worst forms of labor.

"Child labor is complex and deeply rooted in poverty. Children suffer and risk their health or even their lives to work for their family's survival. Ending child labor requires strong commitment and collective effort," said Hassan. – Rappler.com

DepEd receives P543.2B in 2017 national budget


MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Education (DepEd) received the lion's share of the 2017 national budget at P543.2 billion ($10.97 billion). This is seen to benefit over 21.2 million learners all over the country.

The DepEd's budget will be used primarily to fund teachers' salaries, improve basic educational facilities, purchase instructional materials, and give financial assistance to students.

The figure represents an increase of 25% from last year's funding of P433.38 billion ($8.75 billion). It is the biggest allocation among all executive departments in the 2017 General Appropriations Act (GAA). (READ: Briones eyes review of DepEd spending)

Some P19.4 billion ($391.8 million) will go to salaries. According to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), this will allow the DepEd to open 53,831 teaching positions and 13,280 non-teaching posts.

To address the backlog in facilities, P118.8 billion ($2.4 billion) will be used for construction, repair, and acquiring basic educational needs. It includes 47,492 classrooms and 66,492 sets of school seats for the K-12 program.

The DepEd's budget will also make additional learning resources available. The department will purchase 55 million textbooks and instructional materials, as well as equipment for science and mathematics for 5,449 schools.

Partnerships with private institutions to deliver basic education received considerable funding in this year's budget. The Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE) program will receive P35.8 billion ($722.95 million), granting financial assistance to over 2.6 million beneficiaries.

'Budget for real change'

The bulk of GASTPE's funds will go to the Voucher Program for private senior high schools while the rest will support the Education Service Contracting of the department for those in junior high school and technical-vocational and livelihood specializations.

According to statistics, kindergarten net enrollment rates are expected to jump from 53% to 72%; for elementary, this will rise from 90% to 94%. Enrollment rates in junior high school see an increase from 68% to 73%, with better implementation of the K to 12 program.

Dubbed "Budget for Real Change," the Duterte administration's first national budget amounts to P3.35 trillion ($67.61 billion). It is 11.6% higher than the 2016 budget and represents 21% of the projected gross domestic product (GDP) for 2017. (READ: 2017 budget priorities: Infrastructure, agriculture, peace and order)

The 2017 budget also increased allocation for infrastructure, free education for SUCs, universal healthcare, and free irrigation for farmers, among others.– Rappler.com

$1 = P49.52