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Gov't eyes 'stronger' disaster management agency to replace NDRRMC


SECOND MEETING. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council holds its second meeting under the Duterte administration on January 12, 2017 in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City. Photo by Toni Zuniga

MANILA, Philippines – Learning from the problems encountered during Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) and other big disasters, the government is poised to establish a new disaster management agency.

During its second meeting on Thursday, January 12, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) under the Duterte administration tackled the proposal to create a new department to be named the Civil Defense Authority (CDA).

The CDA will still be in charge of protecting the population from human-made and natural calamities, but it will now be an independent agency with both policy and implementing powers.

"I would like to elevate the OCD to department level to give them teeth to implement policies to mitigate disasters, prepare, and mitigate (human-induced) calamities and natural calamities like earthquake, tsunami, typhoon," Defense Secretary and NDRRMC Chairman Delfin Lorenzana told media in a mix of English and Filipino after the council meeting.

New structure

The CDA is envisioned to be responsible for coordinating, monitoring, overseeing, and implementing disaster risk reduction and management efforts. It will be headed by a director-general with cabinet-level rank and assisted by deputy directors-general, assistant directors-general, and bureau directors.

It's a "much stronger agency than the current one which is the OCD (Office of Civil Defense)," NDRRMC Executive Director Ricardo Jalad told Rappler.

"Disaster response will still be an inter-agency effort, but it will be orchestrated by the CDA," Jalad noted..

The proposed agency will have the following new components:

1) The Civil Defense Council (CDC) that will take the place of the NDRRMC

The CDC shall be headed by the President as Chair and assisted by the CDA Director-General as Vice-Chair and Executive Director. The existing membership of the NDRRMC will be expanded to include the following officials:

  • Secretary, Department of Transportation (DOTr)
  • Secretary, Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT)
  • National Security Adviser
  • Director-General, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA)
  • Insurance Commissioner, Insurance Commission (IC)
  • Chair, National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP)
  • President, National Organization of Local Civil Defense Officers (NOLCDO) 

2) The CDA that shall serve as the secretariat and implementing agency of the CDC

3) Local CDCs that will now be responsible for preparing and implementing rehabilitation and recovery plans 

Learning from Yolanda

The proposed new structure of the country's disaster management agency seeks to correct the bureaucratic lapses committed under the current system, particularly during the massive disasters that hit the country. (READ: Malacañang’s Yolanda aid dilemma: Speed or procedure?)

"The occurrence of Typhoon Yolanda and other large-scale disasters revealed that problems encountered in coordinating and implementing large-scale disaster risk reduction and management efforts are rooted primarily in the nature of our governance framework for disaster risk reduction and management," the NDRRMC said in a resolution.

After the Yolanda disaster, experts and critics have called on the government to reform its system in dealing with disasters.

Then Ateneo School of Government dean Tony La Viña noted the government doesn't have "a single agency that thinks for us and plans for us pre-, during, and post-disaster." (READ: Urgently needed, a new disaster agency)

Disaster Risk Reduction Network Philippines (DRRNetPhils) welcomed the proposal but noted that "they still need further clarification on the civil defense framework as it relates to the current Philippine DRRM framework."

"DRRNetPhils through our campaign Barangay 911 has been advocating for the creation of a National DRRM Authority, and this current proposal is a step towards that," Kamille Ruiz, the group's communications officer, said.

"As one of the CSO representatives to the NDRRMC, we will continue to work with the council to further improve the proposal," she added.

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Usec Ricardo Jalad of <a href="https://twitter.com/civildefensePH">@civildefensePH</a> says the NDRRMC is set to endorse the creation of a &quot;stronger&quot; disaster management agency <a href="https://t.co/oZgDkuWBf3">pic.twitter.com/oZgDkuWBf3</a></p>&mdash; Voltaire Tupaz (@VoltaireTupaz) <a href="https://twitter.com/VoltaireTupaz/status/819521344375111680">January 12, 2017</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

Civil defense or DRR?

Addressing the concerns raised by representatives of civil society in the council, Jalad said that the proposed CDA will not undermine the disaster risk reduction framework set out in the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Act of 2010 or RA 10121.

"What is civil defense? It's the protection of the people from threats which are not armed in nature...Civil defense is a higher concern. It includes disaster risk reduction," Jalad said. 

If approved by members of the council in the next two weeks, an amendatory bill to RA 10121 will be endorsed to Malacañang for certification as a priority legislative measure of the administration.

After 5 years of implementation, RA 10121 was recently evaluated by the congressional oversight committee.

Signed on May 27, 2010, the law aimed to develop a framework and roll out resources to enable the national government, local government units, and other stakeholders to build communities that can survive disasters.– Rappler.com

FEU students can now cross-dress on campus


CROSS-DRESSING. Far Eastern University (FEU) students can now cross-dress with their uniforms. The university management says this move aims to allow freedom of self-expression through school attire.

MANILA, Philipines – Far Eastern University (FEU) students all wear uniforms to school. But, since August of 2016, the private nonsectarian university has relaxed its uniform rules to allow cross-dressing on campus. 

"It's [to recognize] that gender expression is something personal. FEU is a university and we value diversity and inclusiveness," said Joeven Castro, Director of FEU's Office of Student Development.

Prior to the rule change, the university banned students who did not wear their proper uniform from entering the campus.

"(Before), mahirap talaga para sa amin na makapasok sa gate kasi malaki ang chance na mahuhuli kami ng security (guards) at sisitahin kami. Ang matindi pa, kukuhanin ang student number namin at ire-report," said Leandro Acuña Jr, vice president of the Society of Homosexual Emergence (SHE), a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) group in FEU.

(Before, it was really hard for us to enter the gate because there was a big chance that we would be caught by security guards and we would be accosted. What's worse, they would even get our student number and report us.)

Acuña added he and his friends would often hide among a crowd of students to avoid being noticed by the security guards.

With the school's new policy, they said they are now free to express themselves through their choice of clothes, provided, however, they wear the uniform. 

"Sobrang malaking bagay para sa aming mga LGBT ang bagong policy na ito kasi hindi na namin kailangan magtago," Acuña said. "Mas mai-express na namin 'yung sarili namin, na may karapatan din kaming magsuot ng kung ano'ng gusto namin based sa aming preference."

(This new policy is really important to us LGBTs because we no longer have to hide. We can now better express ourselves, and we have the right to wear whatever we want based on our preference.) (READ: Is the Philippines really gay-friendly?)

Welcome change

Many students at the university, both homosexuals and heterosexuals, welcomed the policy.

"It promotes and nurtures the diverse culture of FEU, an idea, a vision which allows our LGBT fellows to feel a sense of democratized expression, to feel comfortable about themselves," said Romel Bernardo, president of FEU's Central Student Organization.

"In the end, it makes FEU a fine institution in the promotion of learning beyond theories," he added.

With this new policy in place, could FEU one day have no dress code whatsoever?

Castro revealed that there is a proposal by a group of academic officials to scrap the uniform policy all together, but that the matter is still up for debate.  – Rappler.com

Cathrine Gonzales is a Rappler intern from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. 

UN FAO, New Zealand aid Cotabato drought-affected areas


NEW HOPE. A woman fisher stands by a lake in Sitio Bulogo, Baranggay Matilac in Pigkawayan municipality and shows a gill net she received through FAO. Photo by Dante Diosina/FAO

COTABATO PROVINCE, Philippines – Farming and fishing families in Mindanao are no stranger to both natural and human-induced disasters.

For over 4 decades now, their lives and livelihoods have been disrupted by recurrent displacement as a result of periodic armed clashes. In the past 5 years, strong typhoons and widespread drought have made their struggle worse.

“Equipping farming and fishing communities with skills, knowledge and resources to recover from crises, to minimize losses from future disasters, and to eventually rise from poverty is among the most important programmes of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in the country,”  José Luis Fernández, FAO representative in the Philippines, said.

Through a $3-million grant from the New Zealand government, FAO is currently supporting the recovery of 10,475 farming and fishing households in the province of Cotabato.

The project, which will operate until October 2017, aims to restart agricultural livelihoods and improve the coping abilities and resilience of smallholders in 5 municipalities.

OPPORTUNITY. Distribution of farming and fisheries production inputs are currently underway in the Province of Cotabato. Photo by Saudi Ampatuan/FAO  

The distribution of farm and fisheries inputs is currently underway. This includes rice, corn and vegetable seeds, fruit tree seedlings, fertilizer, drying nets, small farm machinery, post-harvest equipment, hand tools, livestock and poultry, tilapia fingerlings, and gillnets.

To complement these resources, FAO is also conducting climate-smart farmer field schools and other livelihood skills training, training on basic planning for disaster risk reduction and management in agriculture, including in agriculture hazard and vulnerability mapping and analysis, good practice options and technologies, and early warning and disaster preparedness.

“We have seen how peace, food security and economic growth are often mutually reinforcing. It is from this perspective that we emphasize the need for communities to be provided the kind of support that the government of New Zealand is enabling us to deliver,” Fernández added.

Food security situation

National accounts reveal that 11 of the 20 poorest provinces are in this primarily agriculture-dependent region.

Some three-fourths of the population of Mindanao or about 12.6 million people fall under levels 2 (mild chronic food insecurity), 3 (moderate chronic food insecurity) and 4 (severe chronic food insecurity), on the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification. About 1.96 million were found to be suffering from severe chronic food insecurity in 2015.

Since 2015, FAO has been working with the Philippine government to address priority agricultural development issues in the region through its Mindanao Strategic Programme for Agriculture and Agribusiness (MSPAA). 

While yet to be fully-funded, the MSPAA has served as a framework for the implementation of at least 5 projects in areas most severely affected by natural and man-made calamities.

FAO’s work in Mindanao is implemented in close partnership with the government through its various agencies at the national, regional and local levels. 

FAO also coordinates with the Mindanao Development Authority and works closely with the Department of Agriculture, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, the Bangsamoro Development Agency, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, and other pertinent agencies and local government units. – Rappler.com

The article was contributed by the  Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), a partner of Rappler's Hunger Project. 

A Sinulog story of love and devotion


FAMILY TRADITION. The Labatus family takes a pose after the fluvial procession. All photos by Apple Grace Danuco/Rappler

CEBU, Philippines – Sinulog devotees have their own diverse ways of expressing their devotion to Señor Sto Niño. Often times, Cebuanos and other devotees express their reverence through personal prayers or by attending novena masses dedicated to the Holy Child.

Cebuanos celebrate the 37th year of Sinulog, one of the grandest festivals in the Philippines, this 2017. The festival usually attracts more than a million attendees annually. (READ: Things to know about Sinulog)

Amid a huge crowd of devotees holding streamers and balloons on Saturday, January 14, a couple patiently waited for the image of Sto. Nino pass by their spot in this year's Sinulog celebration. 

Carrying their two sons dressed up as the Niño, the Labatus family easily stood out from the crowd. Irish Labatus, 31, with her husband Edwin Labatus, also 31, said that since 2010 they have been dressing up their two children Ammar Roche Labatus, 1, and Rishedwin Nino Labatus, 4, in the image of the Holy Child.

The two were devotees of Sto. Niño way back their younger years. In fact, their love story started during the festival, when they both danced to honor the Holy Child years ago. 

“Ako ug akong bana mga dancer mi sauna mao nang nagkaila mi. Pareha rami og grupo mao na ang Tribu Kinaiyahan,” Irish said.

(My husband and I were dancers before. We used to dance for baby Jesus and that’s where we met each other, because we’re on the same dance troupe, which was the Tribu Kinaiyahan.)

HOLY CHILD. Rishedwin Nino Labatus, the eldest child of the Labatus couple, dresses up as child Niño.

Irish performed as one of the queens during the parade while her husband Edwin danced as the prince. Like in fairy tales, the two fell in love with each other. Their romance blossomed until they decided to get married and settle down.

After they got married, conflicts and changes prevented them from dancing again for the Sto. Niño. Regardless, the couple continued to observe their devotion through their kids, even naming one of the after the Holy Child.

The costume-wearing of their two boys has become an annual tradition for the Labatus family in recent years.

“Every year gyud ni siya. Nahulog na ni nga among devotion ba. Atong nagminyo mi dili naman mi kasayaw mao nang nakahuna-huna mi nga sul-oban sila og pareha sa imahe ni Señor Sto Nino. Bisan dili nami kasayaw but paagi nila duha, naa gihapon,” Irish said.

(We do this every year. This is our way of honoring Sto. Niño. When we got married we can no longer dance for Him so we decided to dress our sons with the image of the Holy Child. Even though we can no longer dance but through them (their sons) we can still feel it.) – Rappler.com  

Apple Grace Danuco is the lead Rappler Mover in Cebu. She is also a graduating student at the University of San Jose Recoletos 

DepEd: Revive Quick Response Fund for typhoon-hit schools


TYPHOON-HIT TOWN. An aerial photo shows Polangui, Albay after Typhoon Nina (Nock-ten) made landfall, December 26, 2016. File photo by Charism Sayat/AFP

MANILA, Philippines – Education Secretary Leonor Briones wants to revive the Quick Response Fund (QRF) of the Department of Education (DepEd) to rebuild or repair schools damaged by Typhoon Nina (Nock-ten) last December.

The fund, which was removed from the DepEd's 2017 budget, was used in the Aquino administration for pre-disaster and post-disaster agency needs, such as prepositioned supplies and construction materials for classrooms.

"The QRF for DepEd has been removed starting FY 2017 and all QRF for FY 2016 have already been utilized," said the DepEd in a statement on Friday, January 13.

Heavy damage

Two weeks after Typhoon Nina hit Luzon, the DepEd also announced on Friday that it has distributed over P17 million to more than 1,100 affected schools.

Nina, which left 6 people dead and 19 others missing, damaged a total of 1,046 schools. The DepEd also reported that 1,548 classrooms were totally destroyed and 3,797 others were damaged.

In a Cabinet meeting last Monday, January 9, Briones said P66.78 million had been allotted to build 1,113 temporary learning spaces in 465 schools.

She added that 63,232 school furniture units and 386,689 learning resources were affected, while 384 schools reported damaged computers.

Bicol suffered the worst loss, with 1,237 classrooms totally damaged and 2,948 classrooms partially damaged. Some schools in Calabarzon and Mimaropa also suffered extensive damage.

The DepEd hopes to complete repairs by December of this year.

The agency is also providing new learning materials to affected schools, being distributed in coordination with the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

DEPED EFFORTS. Education Secretary Leonor Briones says rehabilitation efforts continue for schools affected by Typhoon Nina (Nock-ten).

Sustainable preparedness

Briones said long-term solutions are needed to address the perennial threat of typhoons and other natural hazards.

These solutions, she said, include the early allotment of funds for clean-up and temporary learning services, having a buffer stock of furniture and computers, and prespositioning the buffer stocks in disaster-prone areas.

Meanwhile, children's welfare organization UNICEF has pledged to supply tents to serve as temporary classrooms and libraries.

Telecommunications company Smart will also distribute kits for teachers in 150 identified schools in Bicol, Calabarzon, and Mimaropa. – with a report from Cathrine Gonzales/Rappler.com

With Cebu City cell sites down, Sinulog revelers switch to FireChat


CEBU CITY, Philippines - Revelers attending the annual Sinulog Festival in Cebu City chatted up a storm online on Saturday, January 14, amid a shutdown of mobile phone networks in the city over security concerns. 

Since they could not use cellular networks, Cebuanos and visitors turned to the popular FireChat app instead, which allows users to send text messages and photos over bluetooth and wifi. 

The shutdown of the cellular networks was first announced on January 12 over fears that mobile phones could be used to trigger improvised explosive devices. 

In a Facebook post, Cebu City Mayor Tommy Osmeña, apologized for the inconvenience but said the shutdown was necessary to “save lives”. He added that the Hilongos bomb that exploded in Leyte on December 28, 2016 was likely triggered by a cellphone. 

Your safety is my priority above everything else. That said, Cebu hasn't had a terror incident since the 90's, so let's hope and pray that it stays that way. We are doing everything we can to make sure it does,” wrote Mayor Osmeña. 


Cebuanos started spreading the word to use FireChat days before the scheduled shutdown. News quickly spread about the app and people began to download it.

While many enjoyed chatting with each other in an open-to-all group, others complained that the app “did not work” too well.

FireChat works by using the phone's bluetooth and wifi radios to send text and photos to other phones with the app open, without the use of cellular data or the Internet. But, two phones need to be within a 70 meter distance to communicate. 


Open Garden, the makers of the app, say FireChat works best in densely populated areas as it creates a “mesh network” that allows a sending phone to pass messages on to other phones until it reaches its intended receiver phone. 

FireChat was also used by Hong Kong residents protesting against the government in 2014 after the police shutdown the cellular network. 

The app has also been used in post-disaster zones and remote communities. - Rappler.com 

Groups urge to legalize small-scale mining to stop child labor


CHILD LABOR. Child laborers in the Philippines can be as young as 5. File photo from HRW

MANILA, Philippines – Archie Rapacon, now 16, started mining at age 11. 

Although his parents – miners themselves – did not force him to continue mining work, he said that he preferred this because he is earning P180 to 200 a day. His family needs the income as well since his father has an undiagnosed ailment. 

“Nagkakapera ako, di ko naiisip ang pag-aaral ko. Naiisip ko na lang ‘iyong pagmimina,” he said.  (I was earning money so I didn’t think about my studies. All I thought about was mining.)

But after witnessing workers die of electrocution and got buried with rocks due to mining, he finally realized it is time to stop and just focus on his studies.

“Ngayon nag-mature na isip ko, naisip ko na ang pag-aaral mahalaga, ang [pag-mimina] andyan lang po, ang pag-aaral mawawala rin po,” he said.

(Now that I have matured, I realized that education is important. Mining will just be there but the opportunity to study will be gone.)

Today, Archie still works while studying but has left mining completely.

CHILD LABOR. Archie Rapacon, a 16-year-old from Camarines Norte, started mining at age 11. Photo by Patty Pasion/Rappler

‘Caring Gold’ project

Archie was just one of the thousands of children involved in gold mining, forced to work to augment their family’s income.

Based on the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) Listahanan database, the agriculture sector has the highest number of child laborers at 85,570. The number of children working in construction, manufacturing, deep-sea fishing, domestic work, and mining follows this.

Of these, mining is the worst form of child labor because of the kids’ exposure to harmful chemicals (mercury, cyanide) and harsh conditions of digging deep tunnels. 

Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Undersecretary Joel Maglungsod, who handles programs on curbing child labor, said that there are 350,000 workers in small-scale gold mining and 18,000 of them are women and children.

Child labor in artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) is rampant because of the lack of government regulation since operation is done informally.

That is why the International Labor Organization (ILO), in partnership with environment group Ban Toxics and DOLE, have launched the Caring Gold project. Among its objectives is to formalize the sector so that government intervention will be in place.

“Formalization will provide access to [government services]. You can have access to financial services and government programs,” said Richard Gutierrez, Executive Director of Ban Toxics.

They will support the sector in establishing legalized and organized form of mining, which will be called “Minahang Bayan” (People’s Small Scale Mines) that will comply with government standards.

This increased capitalization, Gutierrez pointed out, will protect the miners from abusive gold buyers and illegal mercury traders.

Other objectives

Aside from organizing small mining communities, the project also aims to address the root cause of child labor, which is poverty, by: 

  • providing ASGM families access to social protection and livelihood programs
  • strengthening regulatory bodies implementing laws addressing child labor and improper working conditions
  • convening stakeholders to increase transparency and monitoring of child labor in ASGM operations
  • setting up a global network of stakeholders to address the labor issues in ASGM

The project, granted by the US Department of Labor, will run from December 2015 to April 2019. – Rappler.com 

OFWs: 'Sunday Beauty Queen' an eye-opener for families


TOUCHING MOVIE. Overseas Filipino workers who got to watch 'Sunday Beauty Queen' for free pose with film director Baby Ruth Villarama, fellow OFW Mylyn Jacobo, and OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac.

MANILA, Philippines – Former, current, and aspiring overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families on Saturday, January 14, were all praises for the documentary film Sunday Beauty Queen, which had struggled to remain in theaters. (READ: MMFF 2016: 5 things to know about 'Sunday Beauty Queen')

Around a hundred people – mostly OFWs and students of the language training program of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) – got to watch the film during a free screening sponsored by OWWA at the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City.

The film, directed by Baby Ruth Villarama, follows the stories of OFWs in Hong Kong who work for 6 days a week, and have one free day – Sunday, which they spend mounting beauty pageants.

Sunday Beauty Queen received rave reviews from movie critics and won Best Picture at the 2016 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) last December. (READ: 'Sunday Beauty Queen' review: Enthralling reality)

Chona Salceda, an OFW for 23 years, couldn't help but cry after watching the film. An office professional in the Middle East, Salceda said the film made her feel bad for domestic helpers who work day and night to support their families in the Philippines.

"Ako nga na sa opisina nagtratrabaho – maayos ang salary, may freedom – na-ho-homesick. Paano pa kaya ang mga domestic helpers?" she said.

(I work in an office which gives me a good salary and more freedom, but I still get homesick. How much more our domestic helpers?)

Rodalyn Molino, who worked as a domestic helper in Singapore and is set to work in Hong Kong soon, said she was able to get a glimpse of her future life in Hong Kong.

"At least handa na ako ngayon kasi napanood ko na kung ano ang buhay nila doon. Madami akong nakuhang lessons tulad ng paano mo matutulungan ang sarili mo pag na-ho-homesick ka," she said.

(At least now I'm prepared for my future life there [in Hong Kong]. I learned a lot of lessons like how I can help myself when I'm feeling homesick.)

'SUNDAY BEAUTY QUEEN.' Director Baby Ruth Villarama's 2016 MMFF entry features domestic workers from the Philippines. Screengrab from YouTube/Tuko Film Productions

For Lorena Riyad and Mylene Crebello, who are both relatives of OFWs, the film opened their eyes to the struggles of working abroad, which people in the Philippines usually take for granted. 

"Nakaka-touch kasi kahit mga college graduates sila, pinili nila magtrabaho abroad. Mas pinili nila ang pamilya nila kesa sa sariling kaligayahan," Crebello said.

(It's touching because even if they're college graduates, they still chose to work abroad. They chose their families' welfare over their own happiness.)

"Ganyan pala ang mga OFW, lahat gagawin para sa pamilya. Pero 'yung mga naiiwan dito hindi na-re-realize kung gaano kalaki sakripisyo nila," Riyad said. "Para siya sa lahat, hindi lang sa OFWs."

(So that's what OFWs are like – they'll do everything for their families. But those left here don't realize how big OFWs' sacrifice is. The movie is for everyone, not just for OFWs.)

Struggles with a 'new format'

Mylyn Jacobo, one of the OFWs featured in the film, shared that she was surprised with the audience's reception.

But she expressed dismay that Sunday Beauty Queen was not screened in many provinces, especially in her hometown, General Santos City. "Ang lungkot kasi dapat mapanood talaga nila ito, lalo na mga pamilya ng OFW. So sana mabigyan ng chance," she said.

(It's sad because people really need to watch this, especially relatives of OFWs. So I really hope they give it a chance.)

Jacobo also hopes the film would not only inspire OFWs, but also shed light on important issues concerning them and spur government action.

HONORED. Cast members of 'Sunday Beauty Queen' during the awards night for the 2016 MMFF. The film won Best Picture. File photo by Rob Reyes/Rappler

Villarama also expressed her frustration over not being able to bring her film to other provinces.

"People have been clamoring [for] it, talking about it. Pero 'yung avenues to watch the film ay sobrang limited – parang tinago siya sa lipunan. Nagpaka-Cinderella, parang may curfew bigla 'yung movie. Kasi since nag-end ang MMFF, parang inend na rin ng cinemas although they've kept the usual suspects backed up by big studios," she said. 

(People have been clamoring for it, talking about it. But the avenues to watch the film are so limited – like it's been hidden from society. Just like Cinderella, suddenly the film had a curfew. Once the MMFF ended, the cinemas stopped screening it although they've kept the usual suspects backed up by big studios.)

According to Villarama, they are still negotiating with SM cinemas to screen the film again since they continue to be flooded with requests. 

"We're trying to find common ground with cinemas para mapalabas siya ulit. Kasi ang fear ng cinemas ay walang manonood because this is a new form, it's untested, hindi siya kasama sa formula nila – walang artista, hindi siya box office candidate," the director said. 

(We're trying to find common ground with cinemas so the movie can be shown again. Cinemas fear that nobody will watch because this is a new form, it's untested, and not part of their formula – it doesn't have celebrities, it's not a box office candidate.)

"From the business perspective, they don't want to risk it. But the turnouts have been really great – sold out in most screenings. So it's really finding balance," she added.

When asked why she opted to make a film about OFWs in an "untested format," Villarama said there's a need for it. "I think it's about time we see ourselves in our story, in a new line, a new perspective. It's high time we give Filipinos [well-deserved] quality films and stories that they can champion and be proud of."

Following an MMFF dominated by independent movies, Senator Vicente "Tito" Sotto III had criticized the removal of "50% commercial viability" from the criteria for selecting the 8 films that will be featured in the festival. Sotto said in a resolution that while some enjoyed the new films, others were still looking for old festival favorites that "give them a good laugh."

To this, Villarama said the senator should "watch the films first" before reacting. 

"I'm just wondering if he really went out of his way to watch these films. I'm pretty sure if he really watched these films, he would think differently... We have to remember, Shakespeare did his masterpiece using pencil and paper. All those great things that we've seen – people started it from scratch," said the director.

"So it's not about the quality of equipment. And technology now has a way [of] really helping young filmmakers like me to tell a story [that's really] world-class. Sana mapanood, 'yun lang ang sa 'kin. Sana mapanood niya bago mag-react (I just hope he gets to watch the films. I hope that he watches the films first before reacting)." – Rappler.com

WATCH: Fisherman's son paints official portrait of 'Tatay Digong'


OFFICIAL DUTERTE PORTRAIT. Artist Macky Bongabong paints a portrait of President Rodrigo Duterte that was commissioned by Malacañang. Photo courtesy of Macky Bongabong

MANILA, Philippines – Remember Macky Bongabong, the talented son of a fisherman who painted a portrait of President Rodrigo Duterte? Malacañang commissioned him to paint another portrait of the Philippine leader, said the young artist in a Facebook post.

On Sunday night, January 15, Bongabong proudly showed his finished product via Facebook Live: a half-body portrait of a beaming Duterte in a barong.

Bongabong has been showing the different stages of progress of his latest masterpiece through video streaming. Watch some of the videos below:

Sunday, January 15

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Saturday, January 14

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Friday, January 13

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Thursday, January 12

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Bongabong came from a coastal community in Sangali, Zamboanga City, where his father taught him how to sew nylon fishing nets, which later on became his source of income as a high school student. He grew up with an appreciation for the arts, despite having no formal education or training in it.

He joined almost all of the art competitions in his school and in their town, and even dreamed of going to other places to compete. Every time he won, he would always hand his cash prize to his late mother, to help his family.

Bongabong said he is giving his second portrait of the President to Malacañang for free even if he paid for the materials.

In a mix of Bisaya and English, the Davao-based artist told some observers who were watching him work in his studio in a mall: "I offered this to him for free... It's so expensive, but this is for Tatay Digong." – Rappler.com

#FloodPH: Areas in Cagayan de Oro where forced evacuation is ordered


MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Cagayan de Oro officials placed the city under code red early Tuesday morning, January 17, after the water level in Iponan River has reached a critical level.

Local authorities ordered forced evacuation in the following areas that are prone to flooding, 

  • Tumpagon
  • Pigsag-an
  • Tuburan
  • Pagalungan
  • Lumbia
  • San Simon
  • Pagatpat
  • Iponan
  • Canitoan
  • Bulua

"Evacuate as soon as possible," Liza Mazo, Office of Civil Defense (OCD) director in Region X, earlier said,  advising affected residents to seek temporary shelter in designated evacuation centers and safer areas.  (READ: Thousands stranded as flash floods hit Cagayan de Oro)

The city council declared Cagayan de Oro under state of calamity before dawn Tuesday, January 17, after the streets were submerged in neck-deep floods triggered by the nonstop rains Monday afternoon.

Evacuation centers 

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) reported on Monday night that its field office in the region is closely coordinating with the Cagayan de Oro City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CDRRMC) to identify the evacuation centers that were opened and the number of evacuees that need assistance.

According to the Cagayan de Oro social welfare and development officer Teddy Sabugaa, the city has opened at least 3 evacuation centers: 

  • Bulua covered court in Barangay Bulua, where there are 27 families or 117 people
  • Nazareth covered court, where there are 22 families 
  • 4th Infantry Division Gymnasium in Patag, where there are 30 families or 120 individuals 

Below is the list of other open evacuation centers:


  • Agusan gym
  • Aluba Catholic Church
  • Barangay 7 barangay hall
  • Bonbon covered court
  • Bugo gym
  • Canitoan covered court
  • Corrales Elementary School
  • Macasandig covered court
  • Xavier University covered courts


As of Monday night, at least 31 families from from Barangay Canitoan have been affected by the flooding. At least two houses in the barangay were totally damaged, while 29 others were partially damaged due to flooding, the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) reported.

In Barangay F.S. Catanico, 20 families were affected by flooding.

In a Facebook post, DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said Monday night that "prepositioned goods of DSWD Field Office 10 are now on standby in the 5 provinces of Northern Mindanao: Bukidnon, Camiguin, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental, and Misamis Oriental.

Stay awake and alert

"Huwag munang matulog at magbantay (Stay awake, stay alert), Listen to the advisories from PAGASA and the LGUs," Mazo reminded affected residents.

It has been rainy in various parts of the country due to a low pressure area (LPA) in Mindanao and the tail-end of a cold front affecting the Visayas.

In a bulletin issued 5:00 pm on Monday, January 16, state weather bureau PAGASA said the LPA is in the vicinity of Kabasalan, Zamboanga Sibugay.

On Tuesday, moderate to heavy rain is expected in the Visayas, the regions of Northern Mindanao and the Zamboanga Peninsula, and the province of Palawan. Those areas should be on alert for floods and landslides. PAGASA warned. – Rappler.com

#WalangPasok: Class, work suspensions, Tuesday, January 17


Please refresh this page for updates.

MANILA, Philippines – Here is a list of areas where classes and work have been suspended for Tuesday, January 17, due to the continuous rains, flashfloods, and landslides in parts of the Visayas and Northern Mindanao



Bookmark this page. It is constantly being updated.


Not on the list? Help us crowdsource class suspensions by tweeting @rapplerdotcom.

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



#ReliefPH: Good samaritans open doors, brave floods to help stranded Cagayan de Oro residents


STAYING POSITIVE. Students and faculty of USTSP try to cross the campus to get to high ground. Photo by Nefoi Luczon

MANILA, Philippines - With thousands of people stranded due to almost neck-deep floodwater in Cagayan de Oro City, some residents became good samaritans to help their fellow Cagayanons in need. 

At the University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines (USTSP), formerly known as the Mindanao University of Science and Technology (MUST), around 300 to 500 students and faculty were stranded, according to communications professor Nef Luczon.

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Luczon added that flood waters started to rise rapidly at around 4:00 pm on Monday, January 16. 

Instead of heading home, Luczon decided to stay behind and help find food for students trapped in the different buildings on campus. 

RELIEF. Responders from the CDDRMO of Cagayan de Oro City bring meals to stranded passengers. Photo by Nefoi Luczon  

Luczon said that the situation inside the buildings is tense, with students anxious to get home any way they can.

I told them: ‘Do not be worried, just be patient.' Some are anxious, because brownout din. some buildings (are now) run by generators.”

Power has been restored before dawn Tuesday. 

He made an appeal on social media for students to donate food and other needs, which he hand-carried through the flood waters to deliver them to the trapped students. 

I’ve been asking students to solicit food, while waiting for the rescuers to come. Luckily merong nag-respond (some responded),” Luczon told Rappler over the phone. 

Flood waters began to recede as of 12:50 am Tuesday, January 17. Around 4 rescue responders arrived on site to bring additional food and evacuate some students, said Luczon. 



Meanwhile, other residents and establishments of Cagayan de Oro have opened their schools, offices, and homes to people stranded on the road or on the street. 

Xavier University in the downtown area opened its canteen, some of its classrooms, and its covered courts.

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Centrio Ayala Mall, SM, and Limketkai Mall are open for shelter, although many of their restaurants are closed.

“The Space” at the corner of Tomas Saco and 15th Nazareth, is opening their establishment for free to serve as a refuge.

Hi-Way 43, a cafe, is also open to motorists and pedestrians trapped by floods. Cafe owner Churchill Aguilar posted on Facebook that they were only 3 people, but “we have enough provisions of water for those stuck on the road.”

The city council declared Cagayan de Oro under state of calamity before dawn Tuesday, January 17, after the streets were submerged in neck-deep floods triggered by the nonstop rains Monday afternoon.  With a report from Stephen Pedroza/Rappler.com

#RescuePH: Emergency hotlines for Cagayan de Oro floods


CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – Local authorities declared Cagayan de Oro under state of calamity before dawn Tuesday, January 17, while forced evacuation was carried out in several barangays, and cancellation of classes and work was announced. 

If you need help, contact the following emergency hotlines.

A low pressure area and the tail-end of a cold front caused heavy flooding on Monday, leaving thousands of students and workers stranded in some areas of the city, the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Department (CDRRMD) said. 

The state weather bureau Pagasa forecasts moderate to heavy rain in the Visayas, the regions of Northern Mindanao and the Zamboanga Peninsula, and the province of Palawan for Tuesday. – Rappler.com



Thousands displaced by heavy rains in parts of Visayas, Mindanao


#RESCUEPH. Rescuers evacuate students and faculty who were stranded in the University of Science and Technology of the Philippines (USTP). Photo courtesy of Lionel Amarado

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATED) Around 5,412 people or 1,242 families were affected by nonstop rains in 26 barangays in Eastern Visayas and Northern Mindanao on Monday, January 16, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said Tuesday, January 17.

Of this number, around 963 families or 4,536 persons were displaced in both regions, staying in 28 evacuation centers. 

Cagayan de Oro City was one of the most heavily-affected by the torrential rains. Forced evacuation was ordered in some areas of the city as the local council declared a state of calamity amid neck-deep floods.

A low pressure area and the tail-end of a cold front caused heavy flooding in CDO, leaving thousands of students and workers stranded in some areas of the city, the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Department (CDRRMD) said. (READ: #RescuePH: Emergency hotlines for Cagayan de Oro floods)

In Cebu, the provincial government confirmed that the body of 4-year-old Aileen Rose Paquit was found in a stream in Barangay Lutac, Naga City, on Monday after accumulated water from Barangay Patag washed away and destroyed their hut. 

In Leyte, the nonstop rains also triggered flooding in some areas, leading some colleges and universities to cancel classes. (READ: #WalangPasok: Classes, work suspensions, Tuesday, January 17)

The DSWD said it has standby funds of at least P21.5 million ready to disburse in its offices. The department also has 249,394 family food packs worth P92 million in its stockpile.

"The Disaster Response Operations Monitoring and Information Center (DROMIC) of the DSWD continues to closely coordinate with the concerned DSWD-Field Offices for significant reports on assistance and relief efforts," the department said.

Meanwhile, state weather bureau PAGASA said in its 5 am bulletin that parts of Visayas and Mindanao should brace for more downpours. – Rappler.com

#NotOnMyWatch: How to transfer ownership of inherited land


MANILA, Philippines – Have you ever experienced difficulties in transferring ownership of inherited land?

The process can be confusing, as one netizen pointed out in a complaint submitted to Rappler's #NotOnMyWatch platform.

The netizen, along with his siblings, inherited property from their parents. They later decided to sell the inherited property to a third party. While trying to transfer the property deed to the buyer, they encountered problems processing their application for extrajudicial settlement of property with the Register of Deeds in Tanauan City. The application was filed almost two years ago. To date, the property deed has not yet been released.   

Instructions given were not clear, the informant said. An ordinary citizen will have to scour websites and memorandum circulars to be able to know the correct process. There were some requirements that were not specified early on. 

To address the complaint, Rappler tried to reach the Register of Deeds in Tanauan City but the number posted on their website is incorrect.

We called the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) in Lipa City instead and was able to talk to the Officer of the Day who explained the procedure.

Extrajudicial settlement

Properties of a deceased person cannot be transferred to anyone until it has been legally settled. This process is called extrajudicial settlement of estate

Under Rule 74, Section 1 of the Rules of Court, a Deed of Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate and Adjudication of Estate should be submitted to the Register of Deeds.

This deed of settlement should indicate the following information:

  • That the deceased owner has left no will.
  • That the deceased owner has left no debt.
  • The name and relationship of the heirs to the deceased. The heirs should be of legal age. Minors should be legally represented.
  • A brief description of the properties which will be divided among the parties.
  • Posting of a bond fixed by the court if there is personal property included.

The deed should be notarized before a Notary Public after all heirs have signed the document. According to the Rules of Court, the document must be published in a newspaper of a general circulation for 3 consecutive weeks.

Once estate taxes have been paid to the BIR, only then can the notarized deed be registered with the Register of Deeds.

Following the Rules of Court, below is a step by step guide to transferring ownership among heirs. If the heirs have decided to sell the property, the same process also applies.

  • Step 1: Fill out BIR Form 1904 (Application for Registration). In filling out the form, note that all parties should have a valid Tax Identification Number (TIN), even the deceased. Some things to note:
    • On the space provided for the taxpayer's name, the name of the deceased should be written.
    • The local address of the deceased should be the same as indicated on his or her death certificate.
    • If the person died abroad and has no official residence in the Philippines, fill out the foreign address as indicated on the death certificate.
    • Attach a photocopy of the Certified True Copy of the death certificate
  • Step 2: Prepare mandatory documents to be submitted to the BIR. The BIR should give a checklist of the documentary requirements to the applicant. Among the mandatory requirements are:
    • TIN of Estate
    • Photocopy of the death certificate, subject to the presentation of the original
    • Official Receipt/Deposit Slip and duly validated return as proof of payment
    • Any of the following:
      • Affidavit of Self Adjudication
      • Deed of Extrajudicial Settlement of the Estate (if the estate had been settled extrajudicially)
      • Court Order (if settled judicially)
      • Sworn declaration of all properties of the estate
  • Step 3: Prepare BIR Form 1801 (Estate Tax Return). The Officer of the Day at the BIR should assist in filling out the form as they will be the one computing the taxes based on the documents submitted.
  • Step 4: Pay the computed estate tax. According to Revenue Memorandum Order (RMO) No. 15-2003, it can be paid at:
    • An authorized agent bank (AAB) by the BIR;
    • To the Revenue Collection Officer;
    • To a duly authorized Treasurer of the city or municipality in the Revenue District Office where the residence of the deceased at the time of death is located;
    • If the person died abroad and cannot be represented in the Philippines, the estate tax can be settled through an AAB under RDO No. 39 South Quezon City
  • Step 5: Submit all documentary requirements and proof of payment to the RDO. Once all requirements have been submitted, a claim stub with a reference number will be given. A Certificate Authorizing Registration document will be released once the processing is done.
  • Step 6: Release of Certificate of Authorizing Registration (CAR). According to RMO No. 15-2003, CARs should be released for all one-time transactions within 5 days from the date of receipt of tax returns with complete documentary requirements.

Registering the land

Once the CAR is released, it is then possible to transfer the registration of the land title either to the heirs or a third party.

According to the Land Registration Authority's website, the following documents are required to register the sale of an inherited property:

  • Main Document:
    • Deed of Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate
    • Deed of Sale (if the property has been sold to a third party) 
  • Supporting Documents:
    • BIR CAR/tax clearance certificate
    • Owner's Duplicate Copy of Title
    • Realty Tax Clearance
    • Tax Declaration (Certified Copy)
    • Transfer Tax Receipt/Clearance
    • Affidavit of Publication of Settlement

Registered Land Deed of Sale by Rappler Philippines on Scribd

When all the necessary documents have been submitted, fees can then be paid.

The Register of Deeds will issue the Transfer Certificate of Title either to the heir or the new owners if the property has been sold to a third party.

According to the LRA's Citizen's Charter, the entire process – once all documents have been submitted – should not take more than 10 days unless:

  • The titled property is not on the database;
  • There are multiple titles in one transaction;
  • Multiple transactions;
  • There are technical problems in the system;
  • Transactions with incomplete documents;
  • Other conditions beyond the control of the Registry.

Reporting on #NotOnMyWatch

Do you have any similar experience? Are you confused about how to go through certain transactions with government?

Knowing the correct processes helps reduce processing time and the need to resort to fixers when trying to access government services. Send us feedback through #NotOnMyWatch.

Accessible through www.fightcorruption.ph, #NotOnMyWatch is a campaign that promotes accountability and transparency by organizing citizen feedback and visualizing them real-time to show the public where corruption and good practices occur most frequently and what forms they usually take. – Rappler.com

Do you know any instances of corruption or want to commend good practices by public officials? You can send us the details by visiting www.fightcorruption.ph or by filling up the form below:

When the bell rings: My story of getting bullied


I hated hearing the bell ring. I hated lunch breaks. I hated high school.

It was the winter of 2006 in Athens, Greece, when I was first bullied.

Right after our morning classes, I stood up, thanked the teacher, and went straight out to grab lunch. I was alone like most days. I’d only been in Athens and my new high school for several months then, and I barely knew how to speak Greek, making it hard for me to make friends. My older brother and sister were doing so much better. They were handsome and pretty and looked a lot more mature than I did.

But I still pretended that my life wasn’t so bad. I’d save my allowance throughout the week so I could buy a 5-euro phone card to call my friends in the Philippines and tell them about the beautiful things I saw in Greece every day and the awesome friends I never really made. They’d be amazed and envious and it made me feel less lonely.

My usual lunch routine involved going straight to the cafeteria, picking the same bread I ate every day, and going to that corner where the other misfits hung around, or more like wait for the break to finish. My mantra was simple: keep away from trouble. I always reassured myself that my mom’s job in Athens wouldn’t last forever and that we would go home soon enough. "Just a few more months, Kevin," I’d tell myself every day.

And so keep away from trouble I did. I tried to stay low-key and focused on my academic performance. I did very well in class and my teachers loved me. I started making a few friends, but the language barrier still made it hard for me to rev up my game and get closer to them. 

"Just a few more months, Kevin," I told myself again on my way out of the classroom.

 File photo from Shutterstock

It was supposed to be a normal lunch break for me again – my usual grab-bread-and-wait-for-the-bell kind of day. I didn’t do anything special, nor wear anything that would make me stand out that day. But for some reason, bullies saw right through the crowd and found their way to me.

"Kriiing," the bell rang to signal the end of our lunch break and the students started marching to the entrance. The nobodies’ corner was just next to the building door, so I was usually able to go in first.

I took a last bite of my lunch, threw the unfinished bread into the garbage can, and walked to the entrance.

Then I saw two kids running. I didn't know where they were going or why they were running. I didn't care because I didn't really know them. They were older popular kids – one was Turkish, the other was Russian. I thought maybe they were playing around or were in a hurry to get inside. "Keep away from trouble," I just told myself and continued walking.

Before I knew it, I was already sitting right next to my unfinished bread. Inside the trash can. The students at the entrance were all staring at me – some were shocked, but most of them were laughing. 

I remember about 20 students were there when it happened, but none of them offered to help me, even after the bullies scrammed away. I tried to stand up as fast I could, but my arms and feet were still numb because of fear and embarrassment.

A teacher saw me and helped me get up. He asked me if I was okay, and, realizing that other students were still staring at me, I held my tears in, thanked the teacher, and walked inside like nothing happened. I went straight to the comfort room, locked myself in one of the cubicles and cried as silently as I could.

That was just the first time it happened.

It runs deeper than you think

Fast forward almost a decade later, I’m already 23 years old, a college graduate, and working a job. Yet here I am, suddenly finding myself crying over videos about bullying.

I thought I was over it. But the cuts of bullying run deeper than I thought.

They say that teenhood is pivotal to one’s life. It’s when our innocence begins to fade and we start seeing life’s many colors. It’s when our sense of identity is born, when we discover who we are and what we want to be.

Bullying is more than just physical harm. It’s the harshest form of rejection, one that gets in the way of our growth and self-discovery.

Contrary to what a lot of people think, victims usually blame themselves more than anyone. They blame themselves for being weak, for not being popular, for not looking good enough, for not being white, for not being born to a more privileged side of the world, etc.

This is because we grow up in a society that tells us that this is an eat-or-be-eaten world. We grow up in a society that tells us that being weak is a sin, and that nobody else is to be blamed for this but yourself. Never mind that the world is already unequal as it is, that some people are already being discriminated on the basis of their race, color, and gender.



What bullies sees as just "having fun" makes people look down on themselves and not see their worth. It breaks confidence, harms reputations, and undermines one’s ability to perform.

The trauma cuts deep and the scars stay for a long time.

It’s more common than you think

Bullying is not just physical harm and is much more common than people think. Many bullies don’t even notice that they are already bullying.

For instance, a common form of bullying in the workplace is isolation: the frequent nit-picking and refusal to acknowledge a person’s worth and achievements, and his or her outright exclusion from the majority. Being singled out and treated differently is discrimination. It belittles, humiliates, and demeans a person. Gossiping too is bullying, one that harms reputation.

In the Philippines, bullying has become even more rampant through social media. Netizens, whose confidence is boosted by a sense of anonymity online, wouldn’t even think twice to call people out for their imperfections. Scandals and photos that humiliate people often go viral on Facebook and Twitter. Celebrities online are treated like objects, devoid of feelings and unentitled to defend themselves. We call supporters of politicians we hate "retards," completely disregarding the many people the word hurts.

When we’re in front of the computer screen, it’s so easy to forget that on the other side are also other human beings who feel pain and grief.

We can be so much better than this

Even up to this day, I still ask myself: "What if those people who saw me getting bullied tried to help? What if even one person then warned me about the bullies, called for help, or told them to stop?"

The world is wild and crazy. It can really be an eat-or-be-eaten world and I learned that the hard way. But we’re not animals. Neither are we robots. Let’s not forget the very attribute that makes us unique – the ability to empathize and put ourselves in other people’s shoes.

Virginia Shea in her book about netiquette gave a simple yet great piece of advice: remember the human.

Remember the human who’s behind that Facebook profile. Remember the human who is your classmate and is probably having a hard time making friends. Remember the human who is your neighbor, the one who's hating himself for having dark skin, acne, and curly hair. Remember the human in your friend who might not have the courage to tell you that he or she is hurting when you jokingly call her fat and ugly. Remember the human in that gay schoolmate who people make fun of and tease all day. Remember that you are human too.

If only people would think this way, maybe then I wouldn't be feel so scared whenever a bell rings. – Rappler.com

Don Kevin Hapal was a high school student in Athens, Greece. He now works as a social media producer and BalikBayan coordinator for Rappler.com.

#WalangPasok: Class suspensions, Wednesday, January 18


Please refresh this page for updates.

MANILA, Philippines – Here is a list of areas or schools where classes have been suspended for Wednesday, January 18, due to the continuous rains, flash floods, and landslides in parts of the Visayas and Northern Mindanao.

  • University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines

Not on the list? Help us crowdsource class suspensions by tweeting @rapplerdotcom.

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

Pimentel appeals for aid for hometown Cagayan de Oro


HELP. Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III appeals for aid for his hometown Cagayan de Oro. Photo by Bobby Lagsa/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III appealed to the government and the public for “immediate aid” for flood victims in his hometown, Cagayan de Oro.

While Pimentel lauded the “swift, decisive, government response” that saved lives, he said there were still displaced evacuees in need of help.

“On behalf of Cagayan de Oro, I issue this urgent appeal. The city needs every assistance that our people can give. It needs immediate support for the reconstruction of destroyed houses and other damaged buildings,” Pimentel said in a statement on Wednesday, January 18.

The senator said the victims need immediate food and clothing as their houses were either washed away or still submerged in waist-deep floodwater.

Pimentel said he would also talk to concerned government agencies, including the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Department of Public Works and Highways, and the Department of Health, to extend assistance to the victims.

With the recent flash floods, Pimentel urged local officials to revisit the city’s flood-control and infrastructure program. He cited reports he received that the city’s canals were clogged with trash. (READ: Thousands stranded as flash floods hit Cagayan de Oro)

Before dawn on Tuesday, January 17, the city council declared Cagayan de Oro under a state of calamity

As of Tuesday, torrential rains left at least 7 people dead in the province of Misamis Oriental and in the city, according to provincial and city officials.– Rappler.com

LOOK: What's inside DSWD's 'dignity kits' for flood victims?


DIGNITY KITS. A kit includes hygiene supplies to be distributed with food packs to evacuees in areas affected by a low pressure area (LPA) in Mindanao and the tail-end of a cold front affecting the Visayas. Photo courtesy of DSWD

MANILA, Philippines -  Hygiene supplies called "dignity kits" will be distributed to families evacuated from flooded areas in Mindanao and Visayas, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said on Wednesday, January 18.

"They will not only be given food packs but also toiletries which they have not prepared in their rush to get to evacuation centers," Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo told Rappler. 

A hygiene kit contains the following:

  • Toothbrushes
  • Toothpaste
  • Bath soap
  • Laundry soap
  • Shampoo
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Sanitary napkins
  • Towels
  • Comb
  • Small flashlight
  • Underwear

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) first introduced the distribution of the hygiene packages in 2000, in response to the Sierra Leone and Liberia conflicts to enhance the mobility, comfort, and dignity of women living in refugee camps.

HYGIENE SUPPLIES. The DSWD will distribute dignity kits to families who are still staying in evacuation centers. Photo courtesy of DSWD

Only those who are in evacuation centers will be given dignity kits, according to Taguiwalo, who flew to Cagayan de Oro on Wednesday afternoon to personally check the situation in the area. 

Cagayan de Oro City was one of the areas most heavily affected by the torrential rains. Forced evacuation was ordered in some areas of the city as the local council declared a state of calamity amid neck-deep floods. 

About 8,800 families or 46,200 people are staying in at least 130 evacuation centers in the Negros Island Region, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, and Northern Mindanao as of Wednesday, according to the DSWD. 

NEW PACKAGING. Relief supplies that DSWD distributes are now packed inside a sealed box.

The provision of dignity kits is part of the DSWD's ongoing efforts to provide immediate assistance to more than 13,000 families or about 65,500 people who were affected by heavy rain and floods.

The agency's field offices in affected communities are also distributing food packs that can sustain a family of 5 for two days. (LOOK: This box of DSWD relief goods goes a long way)

To date, the DSWD has provided P2,689,327.00 worth of assistance to affected families.– Rappler.com



#NSPC2017: A thousand stories of hard work, hope, and excellence


MANILA, Philippines – Dubbed as the ‘Olympics of Campus Journalism’, this year's National Schools Press Conference (NSPC) is set to gather the best of the best campus journalists in Pagadian City from January 22 to 25.

Organized annually by the Department of Education (DepED), this year's NSPC will focus on easing access to information for greater transparency and accountability. 

Filtered by the rigid selection process in their respective regions, young journalists from all over the country will compete for the coveted championship title in a battle where the only weapons are pens, paper and words. 

Passion and competition

Rendzborg Bautista, layout artist of the Collaborative Desktop Publishing team of Region VIII and first-time NSPC contender, said he is happy he's even competing at the national level.

Pang winner na agad ako sa pag-represent pa lang sa region. Parang lutang pa rin ako na aalis ako to compete for NSPC," he said. (You are already a winner once you get the honor to represent the region. I still cannot believe that I will be competing at NSPC.) 

Bautista also shared that preparing for the conference alone is already a challenge. With a team composed mostly of senior high school students, their different class schedules made it difficult to find a practice schedule common to all.

But this did not hinder delegates like Bautista. To prepare for his category competition, Bautista asked his teammates to send articles online for him to do a mock lay out.  Bautista added that the burden national delegates carry is undeniably ten times heavier compared to what they experience during regional and division press conferences. (READ: A campus journalist's guide to air travel)


Marielle Alliah Gelsano of CARAGA region shared how overwhelmed she felt at the opening program of NSPC 2016 in Koronadal City where the keynote speaker, Kara David of GMA 7, inspired all the delegates with her speech. 


It was a fulfilling day for her. “If destiny means making your own fate in the long run, I guess I’m destined to be there (NSPC 2016)," Gelsano said. 

This happy-go-lucky girl from Agusan del Sur was hailed as the country’s 2nd best in Copyreading and Headline Writing during the NSPC held in 2016. Gelsano qualified again for NSPC this year, an opportunity she says is another chance to be on top.

“If ever I’ll make it to (the) top seven, that’s because I love what I’m doing and not because I was eaten alive by pressure,” she added. 

Meeting online friends who share the same common passion and interest in journalism excited Gelsano more than ever. She stressed the contribution of what she calls her ‘online family’ in strengthening her skills as a campus journalist. (READ: Journalists as agents of change)

Advisers and mentors

But NSPC is not just about the students. Behind every successful campus journalist is a mentor whose devotion to their pupils motivates them to go beyond their duty as teachers. 

Teacher Philip Jayson D. Falcis, school paper adviser of The Radiance - the official publication of Ramon A. Benjamin Sr. National High School in Capiz Division - literally cried when his student qualified for the NSPC.

“When anther contestant from our division was initially called, we did not expect more from us. When Princess Nicole’s name was announced as second place, it was really euphoric," he recalled.

The most challenging job of school paper advisers like Mr. Falcis is how to comfort students who are not able to make it to the next level. For Sir Falcis, being able to attend the Regional Schools Press Conference is already a big break, especially coming from a small school in the province.  

Mr. Falcis said he is looking forward to the big competition ahead and ready to experience his first NSPC bout.

 “I’ll give no pressure (to) my contestant, but rest assured that we will do whatever preparation (is) needed just to give our best shot for our first try in NSPC,” he said. (READ: A not-so NSPC story)

Millenial journalism

Over the years, the community of campus journalists across the country has evolved, espcially with the dawn of the social media era.  For example, Campus Journalist Ako (CJA), a Facebook group of campus journalists from around the country, provides an online platform for over 25,000 members to advocate for campus journalism and media literacy.

Through their pioneer program, Jourknows: Journalism for All, they organize and conduct journalism workshops in different parts of the country. 

Organizations like CJA allow mutual learning, build connection among journalists, and make it easy for young campus journalists to hone their craft and learn from the experts. – Rappler.com 

Jieven Santisteban is a Mover and Campus Journalist. He is also a writer for JourKnows. 

Rappler is a partner of DepED for the NSPC 2017.

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