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Motorcycle rider saves patient in ambulance from heavy traffic


VOLUNTEERISM. Motorcycle rider Chrisangel Montebon helps rides in front of an ambulance to clear the way. Photo courtesy of Richie Reyes

MANILA, Philippines – A motorcyle rider saved a patient battling for his life when he helped an ambulance get through rush hour traffic on Thursday morning, January 19.

Chrisangel Montebon, a member of Riders Anti-Crime and Emergency Response (RACER), was passing by Commonwealth Avenue when he saw the ambulance of Dr Richie Reyes stuck in traffic. 

Reyes and his colleagues were transferring a patient from Dr Jose Rodriguez Hospital to the Quezon City General Hospital (QCGH) because they lacked certain instruments needed for his stab wounds. But the heavy traffic threatened  the patient's life who had lost much blood.

In a video posted by Reyes on Facebook, Montebon was seen riding ahead of the ambulance and signaling cars to give way. Thanks to his heroism, Reyes’ company arrived faster at the QCGH and the patient had his immediate surgery.

Papasok pa lang po ako sa work noong time na ‘yun. Tapos nakita ko ang ambulance nila na naiipit sa traffic. Hindi po ako nagdalawang isip na i-assist sila hanggang sa hospital para madala agad ang patient,” Montebon said.

(I was just on my way to work during that time. I saw their ambulance stuck in traffic. I did not have second thoughts to assist them until they reached the hospital.)

Reyes recounted the heroism of Montebon. "We were trying to find a faster route but when we arrived at Commonwealth Avenue, we were stuck in traffic. We were shocked by his actions because he went ahead of us. Those that do not give space, he signaled to go to the side," he told Rappler.

The company thought Montebon was just helping them in Commonwealth Avenue because he was passing by that route. They were more surprised when he still led the way even when they turned at Luzon Avenue. 

"We don’t have any communication with him. But everytime we turned, he followed us. He really guided us even in the counter-flow," Reyes said. 

When they finally reached the hospital, Montebon parked his motorcycle to see the patient being brought inside the facility. Reyes and company, however, were not able to thank him in person because of the patient’s critical condition.


RACER is a non-governmental organization of rider-volunteers focused on disaster risk reduction management, public safety and security, community development, and nation-building. TIts members also report incidents and developments that happen on the road.

Asked what he wanted to say to the rider, Reyes told Rappler: “Thank you because he set aside whatever his original plan is. I’m sure he had to go somewhere, but thank you very much because he set aside his time, effort, and safety for someone in need.”

The doctor added that the family of the patient, who survived the surgery but remains in critical condition, was also grateful to Montebon.

Montebon, who is also a volunteer at the Red Cross Emergency Response Unit and works in an IT company, said volunteerism comes from the heart.

Masaya po ako at natulungan ko po sila. Walang anuman po para sa kanila. Mula sa puso ko po ang pagtulong (I am happy that I was able to help them. They are welcome. Helping comes from the heart),” Montebon said.

Mohammad Hamsa, RACER Executive Director, lauded Montebon’s heroism. 

Nakakatindig ng balahibo, nakakataba ng puso, at nakakaproud! 'Yung mga mamamayang Pilipino na nagmomotorsiklo lamang naman papasok sa kanilang mga trabaho ay nakakaya pang magbigay ng tulong sa kapwa,” he said.

(I get goosebumps. It's heartwarming and it makes us proud! He's an example of Filipino riders who, even when they are on their way to work, can take time to help other people.)

“Our riders like him are prepared to help other people who are in need like what happened this morning,” Hamsa added. – Rappler.com

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

To President Obama, with love


“What in me is dark,/Illumine, what is low, raise and support.” - John Milton, Book I, Paradise Lost

I had been living in the US for 14 years but I had not yet unpacked all my boxes. Unsure about the status of my green card application, I lived as if I’d have to pack up and leave in a few months, just in case it fell through. To steel myself against potential heartbreak, I avoided calling the US “home” and regularly perused teaching jobs elsewhere. At night, I would list reasons for my ambivalence about the US -- the challenges of being an immigrant and person of color, the recession -- all part of an exercise to prepare me for my possible departure. (READ: 'Studying in the US alone and at 15' )

But when Ohio turned blue in 2008, securing Obama’s win, I sat up in bed and felt a frisson of euphoria run down my arms. In New York City, my sister Myra was walking in the East Village when she heard screams erupt from apartments. Down the hall, my neighbors, senior citizens and young professionals, cried with joy.

In my studio apartment, with my celebratory bread pudding in my lap, I called my sisters. A dark-skinned biracial man, who was born in Hawai’i, was going to be president, and I felt something shift in me. What he and his family represented, what the US believed in and voted for, I wanted to be a part of this body electric.

For the first time since arriving in the US, with my phone in my trembling hand, I said: I want to stay.

Please,” I whispered in my prayers that night, “I want to live here.”

A portrait of US President Barack Obama as he listened during a meeting with staff in the Rose Garden, October 2014. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

The first time I heard about Obama, my high school English teacher Mr Scott, a white man in his late 70’s, said to me in 2005, “Have you been reading up on Barack Obama?” (I hadn’t.) “You should. He’s a beautiful soul, and he’s going to be be big.” I had chalked up his comments to sentimentality (he had been revisiting E.B. White’s books) and his romanticism. While he waxed rhapsodic, I was cautiously skeptical.

In 2005, I could not imagine that the US would vote for someone with his skin and “Hussein” as a middle name when, at airports around the country, others with similar profiles were being pulled aside for further questioning.

As a brown-skinned Filipino citizen who had Saudi Arabian stamps in her passport, I learned early that my privilege did not protect me from racial epithets, assumptions about my background, or almost missing a flight because of my travel history. Literature and the history of people of color were often electives, if they were taught at all. Others who shared a similar background to me were historically silenced, oppressed, and ignored. This invisibility was, ironically, the dark spectre that haunted my earlier years here. (READ: 'Being Filipino abroad: Facing stereotypes and racism' )

Even now, the US isn’t a postracial society, and it isn’t a melting pot, either, and his election did not magically change the landscape for people of color and immigrants like me. The news and any comments section underscore that uncomfortable truth.

For me, President Obama and the First Lady Michelle Obama affected how I saw myself here, a foreigner in the US. He didn’t teach me how to transcend my race. Instead, he taught me how to embrace it.

During his presidency, my identity, which had been at best, a “private matter only” shared with friends, and, at worst, a liability, turned into a wellspring of pride and power for me. President Obama encouraged me to make my identity a part of my professional and personal life. At the most micro level, the English electives I teach now reflect my passion for multiculturalism but his effect on me is even larger: he inspires me to be a kinder, more compassionate citizen.

What I will miss most about Obama’s presidency is his courage to express love: for and of books, family, friends, children (ah, all those Obama-meets-baby moments!), of strangers. I think of the black boy Jacob, who touched Obama’s hair and must have thought, “I could be president someday!”

US President Barack Obama during a press conference following the conclusion of the G20 summit in Hangzhou on September 5, 2016. Filed photo by Saul Loeb/AFP

About a month ago, I taught my sophomores Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and I asked them who they thought made marriage seem desirable. One boy said, “It doesn’t matter what your political views are. The Obamas are cool.” My other students nodded. “Relationship goals,” said another boy. A girl opened her laptop and pulled up her favorite photo of them, an image of their leaning against each other in an elevator after the inaugural ball, forehead to forehead, his tuxedo jacket around her shoulders. I have rewatched his presenting Vice President Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction a dozen times over the last week. I think of his arms around his daughters while the First Lady spoke at the DNC.

I have grown up with him. In 2008, I was single and today, I am a wife and a mother. Especially with a daughter of my own now, I am sometimes saddened and afraid of this world we are leaving our children but remembering Obama makes me act. He makes me brave.

For reminding me that the US is a place where I can live in the possible, for making me feel more included, I am so grateful for him. Over the last eight years, he’s convinced me that I’ve chosen the right place to call my permanent home. For me, President Obama symbolizes the best parts of this country. It is a home worth fighting for and, despite and in spite of its many difficulties and problems, it’s where I want my baby to grow up.

It can, as the president said of his first kiss with the First Lady, “taste like chocolate.”

One day from the end of his presidency (and only a couple hours away from my deadline for this article), I remember some of my favorite vignettes: his dancing to Earth, Wind, and Fire; his singing “Amazing Grace”; his mic drop; his sexy, cellular love of Michelle Obama; his public adoration of daughters Malia and Sasha; his brotherhood with Vice President Biden; and his advocating for the LGBTQ+ community and women’s reproductive rights. His optimism and sense of humor through all that was “more beautiful and more terrible” make me miss him, deeply, with affection as poignant and physical as watching my most beloved teachers retire.

So here it is: I love President Obama. I miss him already. Thank you. I'm proud you were my president. – 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.

Agusan del Sur residents in need of rescue, relief due to flash floods


HELP NEEDED. Citizens in Barangay in Sagutan, Lapaz town are waiting to be rescued. Photos credit to Jamaica Jumonong/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Thousands of residents in Agusan del Sur province are in need of rescue and relief goods as flash floods inundate towns along the Agusan River on Thursday, January 19. 

Netizens from the area have been posting photos and updates on the need for evacuation and relief goods in the area before signal went down.

Joan Cris Gonzales, a resident of Barangay Sagunto in La Paz town, Agusan del Sur, posted on her Facebook account: "It's still raining and the water level is still rising. I feel helpless because I can't cross or go out of my house to help those in need of rescue."

"We haven't had electricity since this morning. Most of us are in panic mode. Calling the attention of our Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO), we are in need of your assistance. Please," another one of her posts read.

Nonstop rains triggered the swelling of the Agusan river, which runs through the Caraga Region. An extreme flood advisory has been raised by state weather bureau PAGASA because of the tail-end of a cold front affecting the eastern section of Visayas and Mindanao. 

In need of help

BAYANIHAN. Soldiers and concerned citizens form a line to help evacuate residents in Barangay San Isidro. Photo from Jay Laguayan/ Rappler

Reports from volunteer group Riders Anti-Crime and Emergency Response (RACER) said evacuees are hungry and have run out of food.

"Sir, please help us in La Paz, Agusan del Sur. People here haven't eaten since yesterday and their houses have been washed away," a resident messaged an Agos volunteer.

Gonzales also posted: "Those who want to give us food couldn't get out of their homes because everything's flooded. I'm shaking because of this experience."

Gonzales and her family are currently in an evacuation center and said the flood has not yet receeded. 

The government has initiated rescue operations in the area but operations have been halted due to the condition in the area. 

"Rescue operation in La Paz, Agusan del Sur has been halted for the night due to darkness and risky condition in the area, according to the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Caraga. It would resume in the morning, January 20," the OCD said in a statement.

The OCD advises residents in affected areas to continue reporting flooding incidents and calls for help to its emergency hotline: (0927) 449 9763. – Rappler.com

How Tagbanua communities in Coron recovered from Yolanda


RISK ASSESSMENT. Tagbanua residents map hazards in their community after super typhoon Yolanda with the help of CordAid and Samdhana Institute. Photo courtesy of Samdhana Institute

PALAWAN, Philippines – Civil society groups and government units working in the town of Coron in Palawan province are using indigenous peoples’ (IP) old knowledge on the environment and disasters to ensure their communities are climate change resilient.

When Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) battered the resort town of Coron in November 2013, international aid groups and non-governmental organizations rushed to help.

“There were more than 10 NGOs that came in after Yolanda. But most of them used the dole-out system so most of the communities got used to just receiving assistance without relying on their own capacity,” said Shane Nagit, community facilitator of Samdhana Institute, an international NGO focused on helping IPs in the Philippines and Indonesia.

This was not sustainable, Nagit added, especially after the relief and recovery phase ended. 

The Catholic Organization for Relief and Development Aid (CordAid) saw the need to make indigenous communities resilient. After its Yolanda recovery and rebuilding operations ended in 2015, it focused on building a development program to ensure resiliency in recovering communities. This is how Samdhana came in.

RESILIENCY. Shane Nagit of the Samdhana Institute says indigenous knowledge in climate change should be considered and respected. Rappler photo

“We assisted the (indigenous) communities to develop a disaster risk reduction (DRR) plan by themselves. They developed it based on their own knowledge because they have been here in the area for so long. They know the area and they know how to best respond to disasters,” Nagit added. 

She added: “They have an indigenous structure that is more resilient to typhoons compared to the models that were introduced by other agencies…We looked at the indigenous political structures of the communities so we didn’t have to form any new organization.”

Value of old knowledge

OLD KNOWLEDGE. Conrado Balbutan of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples says Tagbanua communities are already resilient. Rappler photo

According to the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) in Coron, the Tagbanuas in the Calamian Islands were the worst affected by the super typhoon. Many families lost their livelihoods and their homes.

Despite this, the Tagbanuas continued to thrive even before help came.

“During Yolanda, it took more than 3 weeks before some IP villages got their share of relief goods. The IPs survived without food supplies. Their indigenous ways helped them survive,” Conrado Balbutan, NCIP tribal affairs assistant, told Rappler.

He added: “It’s important to teach them new systems but still utilize their old knowledge. Like in livelihood, new systems gave them the perspective that they shouldn’t only harvest, but that they should make the land sustainable. It deepened their old knowledge about nature.” 

Such is the case for Barangay Malawig in Coron. The organizations created livelihood programs that introduced farming new crops in the community but still utilized the old crops.

“An example we saw in the community was that they have an indigenous crop called ‘kurot.’ This root crop can withstand typhoons and long dry seasons. It’s a very resilient crop that helps ensure food security in the community,” Nagit said.

Before the intervention, malnutrition was rampant in Malawig. With the introduction of new crops and community gardens, residents of the community are now living healthier lives.

Balbutan noted that the interventions by CordAid and Samdhana were important because they didn’t just impose programs, but they made sure that they’d prepare the IP communities for future typhoons. 

More lessons from Yolanda

CALAMITY. Typhoon Yolanda's wrath in Coron, Palawan in November 2013. File photo from Office of the Mayor of Coron

The super typhoon was a wake up call for the municipal government. Though less publicized, Coron sustained the most damage from Yolanda with 6,000 evacuees displaced during the onslaught. Of the 1,000 tourist boats registered then, only 10 remained. (WATCH: Coron remembers Yolanda as it recovers)

This is why the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO) is now taking a proactive stance.

“We’ve had several trainings on the Incident Command System (ICS) for our barangays last December 2017 because we wanted to be prepared how to manage a disaster. We’re also asking all our barangays to update or create their contingency plans,” newly-appointed MDRRMO chief Fernando Lopez said.

The local government has also purchased early warning systems – sirens and radios – to be given to every barangay.

Lopez, whose own house was destroyed by Yolanda, said the town easily recovered from the typhoon because of the support of organizations like CordAid. 

“The communities easily recovered because of the outpouring of support from NGOs – from the houses they built to the water systems they fixed. We’re very grateful to them,” Lopez added. 

Miss Universe visit

On Saturday, January 20, reigning Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach is set to visit Barangay Malawig to hear the experiences of the Tagbanuas during Yolanda. 

"This will really empower our IP communities. They really appreciate this gesture – that the reigning Miss Universe will see their situation in their remote area," Nagit said.

The Miss Universe Foundation is a partner of CordAid and the Caritas network. – Rappler.com

4 things to know about the Mendiola Massacre


ANNIVERSARY. Rallyists gather at Mendiola Peace in Manila arc during the commemoration of the 28th anniversary of the Mendiola Massacre on January 22, 1987. Photos by Jansen Romero/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – On January 22, 1987, an otherwise peaceful mobilization on Mendiola Street turned into a bloody dispersal that took the lives of 13 farmers.

The unfortunate incident came to be known as the Mendiola Massacre.

Thousands of farmers and peasants marched toward Malacañang, hoping for a dialogue with President Corazon C. Aquino, but were met by government forces, instead. In the midst of a scuffle, the latter opened fired on 10,000 to 15,000 farm workers and peasants demanding equal land distribution and decent wages.

Here’s what you need to know about the Mendiola Massacre:

1. How it happened

Led by Kilusang Magbubukid sa Pilipinas (KMP) and its national president, Jaime Tadeo, the farmers began their encampment at what was then the Ministry of Agrarian Reform on January 15, 1987.

On January 20, then agrarian reform minister Heherson Alvarez met with Tadeo and promised to raise their problems and demands to the President at their scheduled Cabinet meeting on January 21.

On January 21, tension mounted as protesters barricaded the DAR premises, preventing employees from entering the building. 

On January 22, the group decided to bring their demands to Malacañang, where they hoped to have a dialogue with Aquino. This was captured in the newsreel produced by Asia Visions, an alternative audio-visual institution during the 1980s, and uploaded by PinoyWeekly.

The video shows scenes from the mobilization as the group marched from Liwasang Bonifacio to Mendiola.

At around 4:30 pm, the protesters headed to the police line and began pushing against the barricade. The marchers and the anti-riot squad did not have any dialogue. It was during this time when violence erupted.

The Citizens’ Mendiola Commission said in its investigation:

“There was an explosion followed by throwing of pillboxes, stones and bottles. Steel bars, wooden clubs and lead pipes were used against the police. The police fought back with their shields and truncheons. The police line was breached. Suddenly shots were heard. The demonstrators disengaged from the government forces and retreated towards C.M. Recto Avenue. But sporadic firing continued from the government forces.”

2. Injustice

Following the massacre, Aquino created the Citizens’ Mendiola Commission to facilitate the filing of criminal charges against all those responsible for the violent dispersal. The House Committee on Human Rights also recommended compensation for the victims.

No one was punished for the death of the farmers. Survivors and relatives of the victims did not receive any compensation.

A year after the incident, the Manila Regional Trial Court dismissed the class suit filed by the families of the victims and survivors against the government, and  police and military officials. The Supreme Court upheld the ruling in March 1993, citing the government's immunity from suit.

Among the respondents and the positions they held at the time of the incident where then defense secretary Fidel Ramos, former Western Police District superintendent Alfredo Lim, then Armed Forces chief General Renato de Villa, former Philippine Marines chief Rodolfo Biazon, and Brigadier General Brigido Paredes, former Marines commandant.

3. Fight for land reform and decent wages

The farmers and peasant workers launched the 8-day mobilization to call for equal agrarian justice and decent wages – appeals that were seen as especially meaningful at that juncture. Those who were failed by the promises of ousted strongman Ferdinand Marcos thought they finally had the opportunity to air their grievances.

During the mobilization, the farmers' group presented their proposal for genuine agrarian reform:

  • Give land for free to farmers
  • Zero retention of lands by landlords
  • Stop amortization

Up to the present, the fight of the farmers for genuine land reform continues. Farmers are still pushing for the immediate passage of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) or House Bill No. 3059 which seeks the distribution of land to farmers for free.

4. Current DAR chief is a Mendiola Massacre survivor

Will the fight for genuine agrarian reform succeed under the Duterte administration? For farmers familiar with the decades-long struggle, there is enough reason to hope.

Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael “Ka Paeng” V. Mariano is one of the many farmers who were at the Mendiola protest 30 years ago. A Mendiola Massacre survivor himself, Mariano has pledged to uphold the struggle for genuine agrarian reform. 

Before entering public office, Mariano served as KMP secretary-general of the organization when it was founded in 1985. He served as KMP president in 1993, just a few years after the Mendiola Massacre. – Rappler.com

WATCH: Pia Wurtzbach brings hope to Yolanda-hit Tagbanua community


ROLE MODEL. Tagbanua kids from Barangay Malawig give Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach a warm welcome. Photo by David Lozada/ Rappler

PALAWAN, Philippines – Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach visited one of the beneficiary communities of the Catholic Organization for Relief and Development Aid (CordAid) in Coron town in Palawan on Saturday, January 21, to see how the non-government organization (NGO) helped the village recover from Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). 

Warm smiles and loud cheers welcomed the reigning beauty queen as she docked the port in Barangay Malawig, a far-flung Tagbanua community. Wurtzbach toured the town’s communal farms and water sanitation systems which were provided to the community by CordAid to help them recover from Yolanda.

Masaya po ako na nakarating kami dito at nakita po namin ang sitwasyon sa aming mga mata hindi lang base sa mga kuwento o litrato na nakita namin sa Manila. Natutuwa po kami sa mga balita na maayos na po ang pag-unlad ng komunidad dito matapos ang mangyari noong bagyong Yolanda,” Wurtzbach told the community.

(I’m very happy that we were able to reach Malawig and see the situation here with our own eyes, not just based on stories and photos we see in Manila. I’m very happy to hear that this community is already is experiencing growth after Yolanda.)

CordAid was supported by the Miss Universe Organization in its post-Yolanda intervention in Malawig to make sure the community becomes sustainable.

Malawig’s Yolanda experience

Clemencio Carpiano still remembers that fateful day of November 2013, when he lost his home and his boat.

“The strong winds and waves caught us by surprise. We told our women and children to evacuate. People had nowhere to go so they ran to the mountains and hid under the cashew trees,” the 69-year-old said in Filipino. 

He added: “When morning came, we gathered everyone and thankfully, we didn’t lose anyone. But all our boats and most of our houses were taken away.”

RECOVERY. Village elder Clemencio Carpiano says Malawig has already recovered from Yolanda thanks to the help of CordAid. Photo by Jeff Digma/ Rappler

The local government and aid agencies did not know Malawig’s experience and it took a while before helicopters brought in relief goods.

In the aftermath of Yolanda in the Philippines, most of the assistance of international and national aid groups were focused on Eastern Visayas, where the super typhoon made landfall. Little attention was given to towns affected in Palawan province, some of the affected residents said.

Yolanda displaced about 6,000 people in Coron, and of the 1,000 tourist boats registered then, only 10 remained. (WATCH: Coron remembers Yolanda as it recovers) 

“Thankfully, groups like CordAid came to help. They helped rebuild our homes and gave us livelihood,” Carpiano said in Filipino. 

Beyond aid

CordAid helped build more than 200 typhoon-proof houses and 30 community-managed projects like bridges, schools, and daycare centers. 

The organization also taught the community to do communal farming and introduced new crops to the Tagbanua farmers.

"Now, we know how to plant vegetables for our own consumption. We can also sell the crops to the town. That gives us extra income,” Carpiano said.

With the help of its partners like Samdhana Institute, the indigenous peoples were also taught to create their own evacuation and disaster contingency plans. 

“Every time there’s a typhoon, we tell our (people) to evacuate. We are now ready any time a typhoon strikes. We know where we can evacuate,” Carpiano said.

LIVELIHOOD. Barangay Malawig residents now have communal farms where they get their food and extra income from. Photo by David Lozada/ Rappler

Work continues

For the Tagbanua people of Malawig, Wurtzbach’s visit brings hope to their community as they recover from the disaster.

“We were the only community she visited in Coron," Carpiano proudly said. "We saw that she knows how to be with us simple people. We thank her and CordAid for the support."

Wurtzbach encouraged the families in the village to continue building a resilient community.

"If another disaster occurs, we need to be ready and knowledgeable so that we can ensure our family’s security," she said in Filipino, vowing that “we will continue our support so that Barangay Malawig will continue to grow.” – Rappler.com

Emergency hotlines for Dinagyang Festival


STAGING AREA. Emergency responders prepare for the culmination of the Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo City on Sunday, January 22. Photo courtesy of OCD VI

MANILA, Philippines –  The Office of Civil Defense regional office in Region VI (OCD VI) called on the public to be vigilant even as they celebrate the Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo on Sunday, January 22. 

The festival, which is annually celebrated on the 4th of January, is expected to draw thousands of Señor Sto Niño (Holy Child Jesus) devotees and visitors.

Organizers of the festival had earlier requested for the shutdown of cellular signals for a "peaceful and orderly celebration of the Dinagyang Festival."

If any untoward incident happens, don't panic and follow the orders of authorities deployed to the area, OCD VI said on the eve of the festival, January 21. 

The public can also contact the following emergency hotlines for urgent medical needs and other critical reports. 

According to OCD VI, staging sites were set up in the following areas: 

  • North Mandurriao near SM City Iloilo
  • Esplanade
  • Freedom Park

Responders who are ready to help include the Iloilo City Emergency Responders (ICER), Philippine National Police (PNP), the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), the Department of Health (DOH), and the Philippine Red Cross.

Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog earlier said that "the festival is not only meant to showcase the rich heritage and colorful history of Iloilo, but to celebrate the passionate devotion of the Ilonggos to Señor Sto Niño (Holy Child Jesus)."

Highlights of the festival include the fluvial procession, fireworks competition, Kasadyahan competition, and the Ati competition. – Rappler.com

Trump's America: Fil-Ams raise concerns over their future


RESISTANCE. Anti-Trump protesters gather in Washington, DC to express displeasure with the new president. Photo by Santiago Arnaiz

WASHINGTON D.C., USA – Jade Palma Gil stood in line for over 4 hours Friday, January 20, waiting to join what is being called the Anti-Inauguration of US President Donald Trump.

Secret Service had been routinely shutting down security checkpoints all morning in the hopes of throttling the influx of protestors into the inaugural grounds. By the time Gil and the other members of Damayan finally joined the demonstration along Pennsylvania Avenue, the ceremony had already begun.

Though the crowds watching their new president being sworn into office at Capitol Hill were sparse, the outer streets of Washington DC were flooded with thousands of protestors all over the city.

Gil is the community organizer of the Damayan Migrant Workers Association, a grassroots Filipino community group based in New York City. He was part of a contingent from Damayan that came to DC to join “Inaugurate the Resistance”, a demonstration organized by the ANSWER Coalition, pulling together dozens of local and national advocacy groups from all over the country.

Amid fears of what the next 4 years have in store for minority groups in America, these demonstrators set out to make it clear they would not welcome Trump’s administration in silence. Damayan, as well as other organizations like Gabriela USA, were there to ensure that the voice of dissenting Filipino-Americans was heard.

Deportation, isolation

Gil believes the biggest issue the community faces right now is the deportation of undocumented Filipinos in the country. Though it’s difficult to pin down how many Filipinos are living and working in the United States without documentation, the most recent census data estimates their numbers in the millions.

After nanalo si Trump, talagang na-trauma yung mga undocumented Pilipino dito,” Gil said. (After Trump won, the undocumented Filipinos here were definitely traumatized.)

He remembers the Damayan hotline ringing off the hook with calls from members terrified about what would happen to them and their families now that Donald Trump would be their leader.

Trump ran on a campaign of deportation and isolation, at one point labelling the Philippines a terrorist nation. Gil said that, instead of providing immigration support, the Philippine embassies responded by simply advising Filipinos to go back to the Philippines before Trump enters office.

“It’s a disaster,” said Joe Castro, a retired North Carolina native who emigrated from Manila in 1988. Castro is concerned about Trump’s stance on immigration and what it means for Filipino-Americans applying for citizenship for their families back in the Philippines. He believes the next 4 years will see many Filipinos isolated from home.

More expensive education

“The Fil-Am community, why are we here? Because we thought America would be a place where we can fit in. Democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of religion – everything we believed in, Trump has trampled [on].”

Zarah Vinola, the secretary of community affairs at the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (Nafcon), expressed the same concern over the future of the community.

“Filipinos are in danger of deportation, criminalization and heightening racism,” she said.

“Even prior to Trump’s presidency, Filipino workers have experienced trafficking, wage theft, and discrimination. A Trump presidency headed by a man who called Filipinos ‘animals’, who are from a ‘terrorist nation’, will worsen these conditions for Filipinos and other immigrant communities in the US.”

But the Filipino-American community’s concerns aren’t limited to increasing racial tensions and immigration issues alone. According to Danica Pagulayan, chairperson of Filipino-American youth organization Anakbayan New York, one of their biggest problems is the rising cost of education.

Pagulayan expressed dismay over Trump’s nomination of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, describing her as an out of touch multi-billionaire with no direct experience in federal financial aid or taking out loans to pay for education.

Citing a long history of lawmakers prioritizing military funding over education, she believes that this will only worsen over the next 4 years.

“The election of Trump has proven that elections don’t bring about changes we want to see,” Pagulayan said. “We in Anakbayan are calling for youth to channel their anger towards organizing and collective action.”


Potri Ranka Manis, a Nafcon member and artist activist who immigrated to the US in 1990 said the new administration brings a specter of gloom and fear to people of color. As a registered nurse, she fears this new administration will push through with its plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare.

“A government that cares for the health and education of its people leads a happy country,” she said. “But if the government serves the interest of pharmaceutical industries making health a commodity, then this is the worst capitalist system. This is the bleak picture of what will become of the United States in the hands of a big time businessman owning big time corporations.”

Bleak as it may seem for many Filipinos living in America, there was a spirit of defiance among protesters gathered along Pennyslvania Avenue – one fueled by hope.

As Trump delivered his inaugural message, the crowd drowned him out with their own.  “Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families,” he said. “From this moment on, it’s going to be America First.”

Gil, the other members of Damayan, and the rest of the congregation responded with a message of their own, chanting “Sí, Se Puede!” – the official slogan of the immigration reform protest of 2006.

Sí, Se Puede!” – the slogan adopted by Obama in 2008 and 2012, when he ran his campaign of hope. “Sí, Se Puede!” – yes we can. – Rappler.com

Santiago Arnaiz is a freelance journalist and a student at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York, USA.

Pia Wurtzbach’s Coron visit highlights resiliency, IP issues


WARM WELCOME. Pia Wurtzbach rides a motorcade around Coron town proper on January 21, 2017. Photo by David Lozada/ Rappler

PALAWAN, Philippines – Reigning Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach’s visit to the resort-town of Coron on Saturday, January 21, highlighted two of the biggest issues facing the province – climate change and indigenous peoples’ (IP) rights.

Wurtzbach visited Barangay Malawig– a Tagbanua village that was heavily-damaged when Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) struck in November 2013 – to see the rehabilitation and recovery programs of the Catholic Organization for Relief and Development Aid (CordAid) for the community.

According to Shane Naguit, a community facilitator of the Samdhana Institute, the intervention in the community was unique because it was not a typical dole-out program. 

“The non-government organizations that responded to the Tagbanua communities – unlike the government which was more focused on relief – were more focused on developing the resiliency of these communities so that if another disaster happens in these communities, they will be more prepared and not depend on outside help,” Naguit told Rappler.

In Malawig, aside from building houses and infrastructure after the typhoon, CordAid and its partners empowered the communities to create their own disaster contingency plans, and provided ways for the residents to have livelihood. 

“The disaster plans they made themselves used their indigenous structure that is more resilient to typhoons compared to the models introduced by other agencies,” Naguit said. 

She added: “Food security is another factor to consider for resiliency of communities. An example we saw in the community was that they have an indigenous crop called ‘kurot.’ This root crop can withstand typhoons and long dry seasons. It’s a very resilient crop that helps ensure food security in the community.”

CordAid helped build more than 200 typhoon-proof houses and 30 community-managed projects like bridges, schools, and daycare centers. Miss Universe Organization was one of the benefactors. (READ: How Tagbanua communities in Coron recovered from Yolanda)

A fight for IPs

IP RIGHTS. Fr Edwin Gariguez says many indigenous communities in Palawan still don't have titles to their ancestral lands. Photo by Jeff Digma/Rappler

The IP community in Malawig said it was empowering to see someone so well-known to give attention to their simple lives. 

“We were surprised that we’re the only community she chose to visit in Coron. We saw that she knows how to be with us simple people. We thank her for the support,” village elder Clemencio Carpiano said.

For Fr Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of the National Secretariat for Social Action Justice and Peace (NASSA), said the visit should put the spotlight on the rights of IP communities in Calamian Islands, where Coron is.

“In some of the communities I visited, the IPs’ lands were slowly being taken away. Our indigenous groups, when you take away their ancestral domain, they have nowhere to go. Their lives are linked to their lands,” Gariguez told Rappler. 

While tourism is a good thing for development, Gariguez added that it should not be at the expense of IP communities.

“Because of the influx of tourists, some projects push away IP communities, especially those near pearl farms, for example. We need to protect our IPs and implement the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act to help them solidify their claims for their ancestral domains,” he said.

One of NASSA’s initiatives is to help IP communities get titles for their ancestral lands.

The status of IPs’ ancestral lands in the Calamian Islands is still in limbo, as Naguit explained.  

“All the Calamian islands are ancestral domains of the Tagbanuas. So far, there are only two communities that have been awarded the title. There are 23 barangays still applying for titles,” she explained. 

Resiliency in their own land

EMPOWERMENT. Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach shares a light moment with Tagbanua kids from Malawig. Photo by Jeff Digma/ Rappler

For the National Council of Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), resiliency for IPs means being able to empower them in their own ancestral domains.

“Our indigenous groups, when you take them away from their ancestral domains, they won’t be indigenous anymore. They can’t live outside their lands. Even if you bring them to Manila or to the city, they will not thrive. They will always go back,” said Conrado Balbutan, NCIP tribal affairs assistant.

Gariguez also said: “This is why we must make sure that they stay and get titles to their ancestral lands. Because no matter how many projects you implement, if they will be kicked out of their lands without livelihoods and nowhere to go, it’s pointless.”

During Wurtzbach’s Saturday visit, the Tagbanua community presented indigenous dances and songs to the beauty queen. They fed the guests with crops planted in the communal farms. 

According to Balbutan, this is an empowering moment for the Tagbanua in Coron. 

“This will serve as a challenge for them to strengthen their bond as a tribe and their pride as Tagbanua. Being proud when facing the mainstream is a big thing for indigenous people,” he said. – Rappler.com

Women Who Code Manila: Yes, girls can code


WOMEN IN TECH SCENE. Members of the Women Who Code Manila during its launch at Bitspace Makati on January 20, 2017. All photos from Women Who Code Manila

MANILA, Philippines - More representation for women in the tech scene is what Women Who Code (WWCode), an international non-profit, aims to bring to the Philippines with its launch in the country.

WWCode wants to inspire women to excel in technology careers and to promote diversity in the tech industry. The non-profit organization has its main branch in San Francisco, California, with members of over 80,000 in 20 more countries.

The Manila branch, which was launched on Friday, January 20, is led by Michie Ang and Anj Cerbolles, who only got to know each other after being introduced by officers of Women Who Code when they individually submitted a request to bring the organization in the Philippines.

With the goal of encouraging women to participate in the tech industry, the first ever meetup was attended by women coming from different fields, from engineering to education to nursing.

Scarcity of women

One of the most common scenes during tech events, such as hackathons, is the scarcity of women, according to Cerbolles.

“That time I was just starting to learn about programming. There is a qualifying round and I was the only woman who qualified. There were about 40 participants,” a web developer, who joined a local hackathon 3 years ago, said.

Among the reasons why few women participate in these kinds of events is “they feel intimidated,” according to another attendee.

With Women Who Code Manila, women will be encouraged to show that they too can do what men can.

“It’s a good thing that women are empowered in the Philippines compared to other countries. But we just have to change the culture in perceiving that engineering is a profession for men. Being able to build things should be for everyone. It’s not a man’s field,” Ang said.

“If a woman wants to build a house, create robots, create solutions to problems that exist in this world, she should have the rights and confidence to do it. There shouldn’t be any stigma attached to the concept of women becoming engineers or even becoming leaders, that women can’t do it, or we are too soft, or women are not born leaders,” Ang added.

Knowledge-sharing, community building

NOT A MAN'S JOB. Members of Women Who Code Manila share their experiences during hackathons and tech events in the Philippines.

One of the key activities of Women Who Code Manila is sharing expertise and knowledge with women who are interested in various fields in the tech industry.

“We’re trying to share our expertise with beginners [in coding and programming]. It’s exciting to know that earlier, those in the tech scene who have different specialties, they are willing to help and teach other women,” Ang said.

“We dont need to be super rich [to be able to attend tech events]. For example some women here want to be there but they couldn’t. How much? So why not just bring it here and let everybody experience it,” Ang added.

Women Who Code Manila will conduct study groups all throughout the year. With volunteers having their own specializations and expertise, the groups will be divided into different topics, and those who want to participate can choose which track they want to focus on. 

"Women Who Code technical study groups are events where women can come together and help each other learn and understand a specific programming language, technology, or anything related to coding or engineering," Ang said.

Study groups for the following topics will start by February:

  •  Intro to HTML and CSS
  • JavaScript
  • Python
  • Ruby on Rails
  • Android (Java)
  • Game dev

And in the coming months:

  • iOS study groups
  • Raspberry Pi study groups
  • AngularJS 
  • ReactJS

By the end of the year, Women Who Code Manila aims to organize an all-women hackathon.

“There are a lot of women who are great engineers and we just have to make them visible to the public so that we can inspire the younger generation to choose a field based on their passion and not because of their gender,” Ang said.

Two years ago, a similar initiative was launched by 12-year-old Isabel Sieh through the Girls Will Code, a community of young girls interested in coding. It encourages schools to teach their students basic programming language or make it an after-school activity. – Rappler.com

For those who want to volunteer or join Women Who Code Manila, you can visit this page.

#NSPC2017: Over 5,000 campus journalists say 'no' to fake news


MAKE NOISE. Delegates from Region X enter with a bang at the opening of the National Schools Press Conference 2017. Photo by Vina Salazar/Rappler

PAGADIAN CITY, Philippines - Over 5,100 young journalists from all over the country gathered on Sunday, January 22, in Pagadian City to reject the spread of fake news at the opening of the National Schools Press Conference 2017 or #NSPC2017

Reciting the longer version of "The Journalist Creed," the NSPC delegates who came from the country's 18 regions agreed to be "trustees for the public" and to "write only what he holds in his heart to be true."

It is the first time for the city to host what is dubbed as the “Olympics of Campus Journalism.” 

Delegates, together with their coaches and parents, started to arrive in the city as early as January 19, quickly energizing the already bustling city. 

COMPETITIVE. NSPC participants from all 18 regions are in Pagadian City for the 'Olympics of Campus Journalism'. Photo by Vina Salazar/Rappler  

This year’s theme is focused on strengthening freedom of information through campus journalism, paralleling the Duterte administration’s early policy on opening information. 

The Department of Education organizes the annual press conference to promote campus journalism as mandated by Republic Act 7079 or the Campus Journalism Act of 1991. 

HAPPY TO BE HERE. Nina Tumarao, an editorial cartoonist, is both nervous and proud to be at NSPC 2017. Photo by Vina Salazar/Rappler

Nervous yet proud

Nina Tumarao, an elementary student from Zamboanga City, is one of the many first-timers at NSPC. She’s competing in the Editorial Cartoon contest and she’s nervous. “I still can't believe I'm an NSPC qualifier. I started from nothing,” she said.

Tumarao is up against stiff competition. The best of the best from each region are here and all are focused on winning the top prizes and bringing home the honor to their region and schools. (READ: ’Sulat girl’: Isang batang Igorot na lalahok sa #NSPC2017)

But Tumarao is confident. “I really believe in myself. Even if I don’t win, I know I did my best. I will make you all proud,” she said. 

Higher standard

At the opening ceremony, speaker after speaker extolled the almost 7,000 delegates, school paper advisers, and supporters gathered at the Megayon Stage to follow the truth and do right. (READ: Ang laban ng isang school paper adviser)

Zamboanga del Sur 2nd district Representative Aurora Cerilles challenged the journalists to be “torch bearers to shed light on issues that affect their communities.” 

Keynote speaker and PCIJ Executive Director Malou Mangahas said good journalism requires one to “compare, contrast, comprehend, correlate, and critique.”

She reminded those gathered that journalists are held to a “higher standard.” (WATCH: Marites Vitug’s message to all campus journalists)

Skills test

In the next few days, contestants will put their skills and talents to the test as they compete against each other in several contests ranging from news writing to TV broadcasting. Most teams have spent months practicing and honing their craft. 

Some regions come more prepared than others, having better access to experienced coaches and the latest technology. But this has not dampened the hopes of less-equipped regions in getting the top prize as best region overall. 

"It may be really hard getting in to NSPC,” said Tumarao.

But she added: “If your passion is to really write, draw, and tell what's happening, you have a good chance of winning this competition.”– Rappler.com


MovePH, Rappler’s civic engagement arm, in partnership with DepED, will provide full coverage of the NSPC 2017 via the Rappler X platform and on social media.






WATCH: What makes Pagadian tricycles unique


PAGADIAN CITY, Philippines – Tricycles in Pagadian City are unique. Those that ply in the regional center of Zamboanga Peninsula are inclined at an angle of 20 to 40 degrees.

There is a reason behind this. The design enables drivers to negotiate the city's steep roads. 

Pagadian City, which also known in the country as the "Little Hong Kong of the South," is the host of the National Schools Press Conference 2017, the annual campus journalism competition organized by the Department of Education (DepEd). 


– Rappler.com 

Honest Baguio City taxi driver gets scholarship


MANILA, Philippines – A taxi driver in Baguio City has proven yet again that honesty is the best policy after getting a scholarship to a coding school as a reward for returning a passenger’s belongings.

Australian national Trent Shields, who was in the Philippines for a business trip, left his luggage inside Regie Cabututan’s taxi on January 21. 

Ace Estrada II, Shield's business partner, initially shared what happened in a Facebook post that has gone viral.

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According to him, Shields was in a hurry that he forgot his luggage. Estrada was just about to accompany him to a police station to file a report, but Reggie's taxi suddenly returned with the luggage.

“What an awesome win for humanity! Mr Reggie Cabututan, driver of Dustin Brant Taxi, you are the finest of your tribe. I have never felt more proud to be Filipino than today,” Estrada said in his post.

After initial reports said that the luggage contained money, however, Shields clarified in a Facebook post that it only had his Macbook Pro, passport, and an expensive pair of headphones. The bag's contests is valued at around 7,000 Australian dollars (P263,881)

Shields said the value of his possessions should not be the focus of attention. "The real story should be focused on his integrity," he wrote.

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The Baguio City government recognized the 30-year-old driver during its flag ceremony on Monday, January 24. When he learned about the awarding ceremony, Shields cancelled his flight to Cebu to attend the event.

Shields happened to be the Academic Director of CoderFactory, a school that teaches software development, and offered Cabututan a full scholarship to one of their bootcamps worth around P220,000. Cabututan has accepted the offer.

Shields also promised the cab driver an internship with an Australian company, with the opportunity for full employment. – Enrico Belga/Rappler.com

Enrico Belga is a Rappler intern.

1 AUD = P37.6893 


SWS: 3.1 million Filipino families suffer from hunger in Q4 2016


HUNGER. Archie Bello, a farmer from North Cotabato, has very few crops left to harvest from a 2-hectare rice field a month after PAGASA declared a weak El Niño in the Philippines. File photo by Karlos Manlupig/Greenpeace

MANILA, Philippines – An estimated 3.1 million Filipino families experienced involuntary hunger at least once during the 4th quarter of 2016, a recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey reported.

Published first on BusinessWorld on Tuesday, January 24, survey results showed that 13.9% of respondents suffered from involuntary hunger from November to December 2016. This is 3 points higher than 10.6% or an estimated 2.4 million families during the 3rd quarter survey conducted in September. 

It is also 2.2 points more than December 2015's 11.7% or estimated 2.6 million families.

Moderate hunger – not having something to eat "only once" or "a few times" – in the last 3 months affected 10.9% or an estimated 2.5 million families. It is almost 2 points higher than September's 9.1% or 2.1 million families.

Meanwhile, 3% or an estimated 673,000 families experienced severe hunger – going hungry "often" or "always" – an increase from the previous results of 1.5% or 329,000 families.

Hunger rates increased in all areas

The hunger rate – the sum of moderate hunger and severe hunger rates – increased in the last 3 months of 2016 in all areas in the Philippines.

In Metro Manila, the hunger situation rose by 5.7 points from September's 7.3% or 225,000 families to 13% or 399,000 families in the last quarter of 2016.  

The hunger rate also increased by 3.3 points in Balance Luzon to 15% or 1.5 million families from 11.7% or 1.2 million families in the previous survey.

The number of hungry families in the Visayas also climbed by 3.7 points. From 13% or 565,000 families in September, the hunger rate is now 16.7% or 724,000 families. 

Meanwhile, in Mindanao, the latest hunger rate rose by 1.7 points to 10% or 515,000 families from 8.3% or 429,000 families. 

The survey was conducted from December 3 to 6, 2016 via face-to-face interviews among 1,500 adults nationwide with sampling error margins of ±3 points for national and ±6 points for Metro Manila, the Visayas, and Mindanao, and ±4 points in Balance Luzon. – Rappler.com 

PH ranking in global corruption index worsens


MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines slid further down in the annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), with anti-graft watchdog Transparency International (TI) saying it is still too soon to tell how the government's war on drugs could have an impact on corruption in the country.

The Philippines got a score of 35 for 2016, same as its score in the 2015 report. But its ranking worsened to 101st out of 176 countries, compared to 95th place out of 168 in 2015. In 2014, it was ranked 85th out of 175 countries, with a score of 38.

The report ranks nations according to their perceived level of public sector corruption.

The scores – zero means very corrupt, 100 means very clean – are based on surveys from the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the Economist Intelligence Unit, and other bodies.

For the Philippines, TI said that while President Rodrigo Duterte rose to power with a promise to stop corruption, "the impact of death squads, attacks on media, and violent intimidation to the detriment of democracy and democratic institutions is yet to be seen in 2017."

The Duterte administration is currently deep in an all-out war against illegal drugs. As of Wednesday, January 25, more than 7,000 deaths have been linked to that war.

Critics of the government's war on drugs say there are blatant violations of human rights.

There is also a noticeable increase, particularly online, in attacks against journalists, and a proliferation of fake news and misinformation on social media.

In Asia Pacific as a whole, TI said a majority of countries in the region "sit in the bottom half" of the CPI 2016, with 19 out of 30 countries in the region getting a score of 40 or less, out of 100.

"Poor performance can be attributed to unaccountable governments, lack of oversight, insecurity and shrinking space for civil society, pushing anti-corruption action to the margins in those countries," it said.

Populism risks more corruption

TI also noted that the rise of populist politicians globally risks undermining the fight against corruption.

"Populism is the wrong medicine," TI said. "In countries with populist or autocratic leaders, we often see democracies in decline and a disturbing pattern of attempts to crack down on civil society, limit press freedom, and weaken the independence of the judiciary," said TI chair Jose Ugaz in a statement.

"Instead of tackling crony capitalism, those leaders usually install even worse forms of corrupt systems," he added.

The Berlin-based group said in its statement that "deep-rooted" reforms were needed worldwide to tackle the inequality and systemic corruption that have proved such "fertile ground" for populists.

New Zealand and Denmark shared the number one spot with a score of 90 points, while Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, and Norway rounded out the top 5 of squeaky clean nations.

Strife-torn Somalia was the worst offender in the list for the 10th straight year, followed by South Sudan, North Korea, and Syria.

Qatar suffered the biggest fall, with a score 10 points lower than last year's, which TI attributed to corruption claims dogging the country's 2022 FIFA World Cup bid. – With reports from Agence France-Presse / Rappler.com

Sandiganbayan orders arrest of Negros Oriental gov for fund misuse


ARREST ORDER. Reelected Governor Roel Degamo awaits arrest after the Sandiganbayan affirmed graft and malversation charges against him over the alleged misuse of calamity funds.

MANILA, Philippines – The Sandiganbayan ordered the arrest of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo over malversation and graft charges for the alleged misuse of his province's calamity funds. 

In its decision issued on Tuesday, January 24, the anti-graft court's special third division said there is probable cause to put Degamo on trial for 11 counts of malversation through falsification of public documents and one count of graft.

The charges stemmed from a P480.7-million worth of Special Allotment and Release Order (SARO) that Degamo requested in 2012 to pay for infrastructure projects in Negros Oriental, which was then reeling from the devastation of Typhoon Sendong and a magnitude 6.9 earthquake.

The Department of Budget and Management (DMB) eventually withdrew the SARO for non-compliance with guidelines for infrastructure projects. The Commission on Audit also issued notices of disallowances but Degamo ignored the orders and proceeded to award P143.2-million worth of contracts for infrastructure projects.

In denying Degamo's Motion for Judicial Determination of Probable Cause, the special third division said it was "superfluous" to ask the court to conduct a judicial determination without undergoing trial first.

"The task of the presiding judge when the information is filed with the court is first and foremost to determine the existence of probable cause for the arrest of the accused," the court said.

In his motion, Degamo argued that it was illegal for the DBM to withdraw the SARO, claiming that the provincial government complied with all the requisites and that DBM Undersecretary Mario Relampagos made an error when he "failed to examine or see all the required documents which accompanied the fund request."

This argument is included in Degamo's appeal still pending before the Commission on Audit. Thus, Degamo argued, the Sandiganbayan has no basis to proceed with the case.

Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang, who penned the decision, said the Constitution allows the prosecutors to conduct an investigation and file charges even without the COA's ruling.

"The interest of the COA is solely administrative, and that its investigation does not foreclose the Ombudsman's authority to investigate and determine whether there is a crime to be prosecuted for which a public official is answerable," the decision said.

The court said that because the COA appeal does not stop the Ombudsman from investigating and filing charges, it also cannot stop the Sandiganbayan from proceeding with the case and ordering the arrest of Degamo.

Administrative charges of grave misconduct were also filed against Degamo before the Court of Appeals, but the CA dismissed the charges on August 30, 2016.

Having been absolved before the CA, Degamo argued in his motion that this should have also stopped the Ombudsman from charging him.

The Sandiganbayan said the "Court of Appeals' decision has no material consequence to the institution of these cases."

"The long-settled rule in our jurisdiction is that the dismissal of the administrative case against a respondent government official does not bar the filing of a criminal case against him based on the same acts," the special third division said, citing a Supreme Court decision.

The arrest order was issued on Tuesday together with the court's decision.

Graft and malversation are both bailable offenses.

The court set the bail at P2.23 million, P200,000 for each of the 11 counts of malversation and P30,000 for one count of graft.

The decision and the arrest order also includes Degamo's co-accused Provincial Treasurer Danilo Mendez and Provincial Accountant Teodorico Reyes.

Degamo has not responded to Rappler's text message seeking his comment. – Rappler.com

Overseas Filipinos and the death penalty: Cases that made headlines


MANILA, Philippines – On January 25, 2017, the country was shocked to hear that overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Jakatia Pawa, who claimed innocence in the murder of her Kuwaiti employer's 22-year-old daughter, was set to be executed within the day. The family was also informed by Jakartia herself on the day of the execution.

Last-minute protests, prayers, and appeals were made for the Filipina to be saved but to no avail. Come 3:19pm, Philippine time, she was announced dead.

This is not the first time the country mourned over the execution of a fellow Filipino abroad, or feared for the fate of someone on death row. 

Here are some of the most well-known cases of Filipinos being executed abroad:

Flor Contemplacion 

Flor Contemplacion’s execution remains one of the most notorious OFW death penalty cases in Philippine history - having been widely publicized in various literary works here and abroad. Contemplacion was meted the death penalty in 1995 for the murder of her 4-year-old ward Nicholas Huang and fellow Filipino worker Delia Maga. She initially confessed to the crime but backtracked later on, saying she confessed under duress. 

Two OFWs also came forward as witnesses, claiming that Huang drowned during an epileptic fit and that his father killed Maga in rage. The court, however, ruled their claims were fabrications.

Singapore refused to heed Manila’s request to stay the execution of the mother of 4, triggering national outrage against the city-state. The execution triggered widespread condemnation from Filipinos and protests were held all over the country. President Rodrigo Duterte, who was Mayor of Davao City at the time, burned a flag of Singapore in one of the protests. 

The Philippine government was also criticized for inaction. Critics say that while Contemplacion was sentenced in 1993, the government only poured in support during her last few months when the case got the public’s attention. Then President Fidel Ramos wrote a letter to Singapore’s then-President Ong Teng Cheong asking for clemency on Contemplacion. His request was not granted.

Bilateral relations between the Philippines and Singapore were put to a test. Her execution in the city-state prompted the Philippines to downgrade its diplomatic ties. 

Relationship between the two countries were normalized a few months later, after Singapore agreed to a third-party investigation which sustained its decision on the case. 

Mary Jane Veloso 

Mary Jane Veloso, a Nueva Ecija native, was detained in Indonesia on April 25, 2010, for smuggling drugs, a crime punishable by death in a country known for having some of the toughest anti-drug laws in the world.

She claimed that her recruiter and godsister, Maria Kristina Sergio, had duped her into flying to Indonesia and with a suitcase bearing 2.6 kilograms of heroin hidden in the lining. Veloso has consistently maintained her innocence.

From 2011 to 2015, the Philippine government led by President Aquino appealed for clemency from then Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his successor, Joko Widodo. Both of them continuously denied all requests.

By 2015, there was a growing public outcry to save Veloso. Migrante International kicked off an online movement, #SaveMaryJane, in March or more than month before her scheduled execution. Other groups started joining the campaign, including Rappler’s civic engagement arm, MovePH.

The online petition on Change.org was pushed to the top 10 of the most signed petitions globally.

On Tuesday, April 28, Aquino sent a fourth letter of appeal to President Widodo.

By Wednesday, the day of Mary Jane’s execution, all hope seemed lost.

But at the 11th hour, the whole country rejoiced when the Indonesian government gave Mary Jane a reprieve. 

On August 2016, Veloso appealed to President Duterte for help in "getting justice.” 

"I’ve been suffering for so long here in Indonesia, suffering even though I am innocent. You are my only hope," she said in an audio recording.

Duterte said that he would plead for Veloso's life when he met Jokowi on his working visit to Indonesia. But he later on admitted that he felt awkward about “begging” Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to spare Mary Jane Veloso’s life because of the Philippine leader's hardline stance against illegal drugs.

Come 2017, Veloso is still awaiting a verdict in Indonesia. 

Joselito Zapanta 

Joselito Zapanta, a 35-year-old Filipino was executed in Saudi Arabia on December 29, 2015 because of a case of murder with robbery.

The father of two was convicted for murder with robbery of his Sudanese landlord on April 13, 2010 by the Riyadh Grand Court and was sentenced to death after the family of the victim refused to execute an affidavit of forgiveness (tanazul) in exchange for blood money.

The family of the victim demanded a payment of P55 million, or 5 million in Saudi riyal, so that Zapanta could be spared from death penalty. However, the government was only able to raise about P23 million, failing to save Zapanta from death row.

Former Vice President Jejomar Binay, also the former presidential adviser on OFW concerns, said the Philippine government had no shortcomings in its efforts to save Zapanta’s life. Binay said several private individuals, the local government of Pampanga, and non-governmental organizations also tried to help.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) previously said the Philippine government was not inclined to shoulder the full cost because of a cap in spending for blood money.

A question was raised after the failed attempt to save Zapanta: what to do with blood money. Senator Cynthia Villar filed a resolution to determine the status of the P23-million blood money that the government raised for Zapanta.

OFW advocate Susan Ople urged the government to donate a percentage of the blood money to go towards his family and other OFWs on death row.

It was later on clarified by the inquiry led by Senator Villar that Zapanta's family may be given the blood money raised for him, but only with approval from the donors.

2011 China Drug Mules 

A total of four Filipinos were executed by lethal injection in China in 2011, all after being convicted for drug trafficking, raising concerns on growing numbers of Filipinos being used as drug mules. 

On March 30, 2011, convicted drug mules Sally Ordinario-Villanueva and Ramon Credo were executed in Xiamen. On the same day, Elizabeth Batain was executed in Shenzhen.

Their executions were originally scheduled earlier that year but were put on hold after Binay’s humanitarian visit to Beijing.

The 3 were arrested separately in 2008 for smuggling at least four kilos of heroin. China has strict anti-drug rules and smuggling more than 50 grams of heroin or other drugs is punishable by death.

Another Filipino was executed on December 8, 2011. The unnamed man from Bataan province was caught trying to smuggle 1.5 kilos of heroin and was executed by lethal injection in Liuzhou City. 

The executions spread ripples of fear across the country and prompted the DFA to launch an intensified campaign against international drug syndicates duping Filipinos, often from poor families, into smuggling drugs abroad. – Rappler.com

Calabarzon elementary students dominate #NSPC2017


PAGADIAN CITY, Philippines – After a grueling 4-day competition among the Philippines' best campus journalists, winners of the 2017 National Schools Press Conference in the elementary level were announced on Wednesday, January 25.

Reigning champion Calabarzon remained the top contender, gaining the top spot in 7 radio broadcasting contests. The region was hailed as the top-performing region in the elementary division after dominating both individual and group events.

Department of Education (DepEd) Assistant Secretary Tonicito Umali urged the aspiring journalists to use their talents to help bring about change.

"Let us be instruments of change. Let us use our abilities to start change now and strengthen freedom of information through campus journalism," Umali said in Filipino.

Below is the full list of the winners in the #NSPC2017 elementary division:

Individual Events:


News Writing:

  1. CAR - Catherine Batay-an (Baguio City)

  2. Region I - Ephraim Tejada (Ilocos Sur)

  3. Region VI - Chelize Sionosa (Iloilo)

  4. MIMAROPA - Corinth Garcia (Palawan)

  5. Region II - Nicole Joy Tarun (Isabela)

  6. MIMAROPA - Michelle Villanueva (Occ Mindoro)

  7. CAR - Andrei Alexus Calbid 


 Editorial Writing:

  1. CALABARZON - Mi Jung Pak (Binan City)

  2. CALABARZON - John Paul Anyayahan (Batangas City)

  3. Region III - Princess Fionah Vergel (Bulacan)

  4. Region II - Catrine Riguis (Cagayan)

  5. CARAGA - Joaquin Ferolino (Agusan del Sur)

  6. CARAGA - Ram Dizon (CARAGA)

  7. Region X - Christine Ligutom (Ozamiz City)


 Feature Writing:

  1. CALABARZON - Gianne Pasao (Cavite)

  2. Region VI - Allysa Mae Marquez (Iloilo City)

  3. NCR - Nicci Alessandra Nicolas (San Juan)

  4. NCR - Alexis Fernandez (Mandaluyong City)

  5. Region IX - Vernise Blancia (Pagadian City)

  6. Region III - Jett Bartolome (Munoz City)

  7. Region XII - Lady Rain Mendoza (Kidapawan City)


 Copyreading and Headline Writing

  1. CALABARZON - Reveine Marquez (Batangas City)

  2. Region I - Phyline Calubayan (San Fernando City)

  3. NCR - Michael Kenshin Mendoza (Manila)

  4. Region X - Preach Love Paulican (Valencia City)

  5. CALABARZON - Alexis Ojera (Cavite)

  6. Region VII - Von Gerard Fortuito (Cebu)

  7. Region VIII - Excel Ignacio (Catbalogan City)


Pagsulat ng Balita: 

  1. NIR - Flaire Tuvalles (Kabankalan City)

  2. Region I - Janz Andrie Rodillas (Vigan)

  3. Region II - Yeshanny Timbas (Cagayan)

  4. Region X - Prince Tala (Tagum City)

  5. NCR - Dane Lois Unlayao (Valenzuela City)

  6. MIMAROPA - Louella Evora (Oriental Mindoro)

  7. Region V - Valerie Estrella (Catanduanes)


Pagsulat ng Editoryal: 

  1. NIR - Alexa Therese Chua (Bacolod)

  2. Region V - John Carlo Oclares (Catanduanes)

  3. Region IX - Lorraine Tumale (Pagadian City)

  4. Region IX - Novamae Dandoh (Zamboanga del Sur)

  5. NIR - (Joelle Soguilon (Bago City)

  6. Region III - Fritz Fonte (San Jose del Monte City)

  7. Region II - Shaniah Maguddayao (Cagayan)


Pagsulat ng Lathalain 

  1. CALABARZON - Angel Kyla Andres (Cavite)

  2. CALABARZON - Erich Barnes (Imus City) 

  3. Region XI - Zenith Solilap (Tagum City)

  4. Region XI - Allysa Oropel (Digos City)

  5. Region XI - Angela Hingo (Davao City)

  6. Region VI - Fatime Sanguilos (Iloilo)

  7. Region II - Jasmine Pearl Albano (Isabela)


Pagsulat ng Ulo ng Balita

  1. Region X - Fenche Panares (Valencia City)

  2. Region XII - Denielle Buenaflor (Cotabato)

  3. Region XII - Alaisah Usman (Sultan Kudarat)

  4. CALABARZON - Alejandro Memije (Cavite)

  5. Region IX - Kier Cabrera (Pagadian City)

  6. Region I - Anthony Mendoza (San Fernando City)

  7. MIMAROPA - Kie Esmundo (Occidental Mindoro)


Sports Writing: 

  1. Region II - Sean Angelo Tunggul (Tuguegarao)

  2. Region I - Kresja Munoz (San Carlos City)

  3. Region III - Richmonde Conocido (Bataan)

  4. Region II Lord Benedick Fernandez (Ilagan City)

  5. CALABARZON - Jasper Miko Aspiras (Cavite)

  6. Region VII - John Rapisora (Cebu)

  7. CAR - Adrian Yadao (Baguio City)


Science and Technology Writing: 

  1. NCR -  Rolen Muana (Quezon City)

  2. Region V - Renato Bolo III (Sorsogon City)

  3. Region I - Eduard Laroco (Pangasinan)

  4. CALABARZON - Kurt Nolasco (Rizal)

  5. Region III - Angeli Villamor (Bulacan)

  6. Region XII - Sophia Gador (Cotabato)

  7. NIR - Archie Sales Jr (La Carlota City)


Editorial Cartooning: 

  1. NCR - Angel Anne Credo (Quezon City)

  2. Region III - Aenne Llanes (Angeles City)

  3. Region III - Ryan Dultra (Bulacan)

  4. CARAGA - Christian Ramirez (Butuan City)

  5. Region III - Daniel Pineda (Pampanga)

  6. CALABARZON - Wilson Salino (Imus City)

  7. Region VII - Rafael Padayogdog (Dalisay City)



  1. Region IX - Rey Villaverde (Dipolog City)

  2. Region VIII - Christ Bent Noble (Leyte)

  3. Region IX - Rhojoane Rhakje Cadampay (Zambanga Sibugay)

  4. Region VI - Jai Kahlil Prado (Aklan)

  5. CALABARZON - Sean Cunanan (Cavite)

  6. MIMAROPA - Sebastian Estrada (Puerto Princesa City)

  7. Region XII - Jerica Ducuyin (Saranggani)


Pagsulat ng Balitang Pampalakasan: 

  1. Region III - John Paul Pillazar (Bulacan)

  2. MIMAROPA - Hazel Laguio (Oriental Mindoro)

  3. Region XI - Clarence Aseman (Tagum City)

  4. NCR - Gwyneth Santos (Pasay City)

  5. NCR - Laurence Panque (Paranaque)

  6. Region III - Noel Raynon Isip (Pampanga)

  7. Region VIII - Xyryll Taneo (Ormoc City)


Pagsulat sa Agham at Teknolohiya:

  1. Region VI - Mary Grace Levera (Iloilo)

  2. Region X - Rosel Potestas (Ozamiz City)

  3. CALABARZON - Vixen Berongoy (Cavite)

  4. CALABARZON - Josha Sanchez (Bacoor City)

  5. Region XII - Nikaela Regant (General Santos City)

  6. Region V - Lance Clemente (Legazpi City)

  7. CALABARZON - Justine Boragay (Cavite)


Editoryal Kartuning:

  1. Region III - Angelou Legaspi (San Fernando City)

  2. CALABARZON - Renz John Garcia (Sta Rosa City)

  3. Region VII - James Torrecosa (Toledo City)

  4. Region X - Jubailah Abucay (Iligan City)

  5. Region III - Matthew Mangahas (Bulacan)

  6. Region XI - Gabrielle Alerta (Davao City)

  7. Region X - Zarnico Ibo (Bukidnon)


Pagkuha ng Larawang Pampahayagan: 

  1. CAR - Raztine Picpican (Baguio City)

  2. Region II - Yamel Crisostomo (Quirino)

  3. Region I - Eohraim Baptista (Ilocos Sur)

  4. MIMAROPA - Jowanalythe Toledo (Puerto Princesa)

  5. NCR - Dannah Romero (Mandaluyong City)

  6. Region IX - Savanah Nur (Zamboanga City)

  7. Region VIII - Nymph Lapuz (Leyte)


Collaborative Desktop Publishing (English): 

  1. Region III (Cabanatuan City)

  2. Region VI (Antique)

  3. Region IX (Zamboanga del Sur)

  4. CALABARZON (Cavite)

  5. Region I (Ilocos Norte)

  6. Region XI (Tagum City)

  7. Region VII (Mandaue City)


Collaborative Desktop Publishing (Filipino):

  1. Region XII (Cotabato)

  2. Region XI (Tagum City)

  3. NCR (Makati City)

  4. NIR (Bacolod City)

  5. Region VII (Cebu)

  6. Region III (Cabanatuan City)

  7. Region VIII (Tacloban City)


Radio & Script Writing & Broadcasting (English):

Best News Anchor: 

  1. CARAGA - Vagne Lexeen Biasca (Bayugan City)

  2. Region XII - Justine Barrion (Koronadal City)

  3. NCR - Jewell Enaje (Mandaluyong)

  4. CALABARZON - Angela Maraan (Cavite)

  5. Region III - Gabriel Oliva (San Jose del Monte)

  6. Region V - Jovie Martinez (Iriga City)

  7. NIR - Leon Antonio Besar (Bacolod City)


Best News Presenter: 

  1. CARAGA - Patricia Tiu (Agusan del Sur)

  2. CARAGA - Bea Rica Calderon (Agusan del Sur)

  3. CARAGA - Zara Reyna (Surigao City)

  4. NCR - Charina Bernardo (Mandaluyong)

  5. Region XII - Mari Dormitorio (Koronadal City)

  6. Region III - Andrea Regala (SJDM)

  7. Region V - Princesa Montanez (Iriga City)


Best News Script (Group):

  1. CALABARZON (Cavite)

  2. Region I (Dagupan City)

  3. CARAGA (Bayugan City)

  4. Region III (SJDM)

  5. MIMAROPA (Oriental Mindoro)

  6. Region II (Cagayan)

  7. NCR (Mandaluyong City)


Best Infomercial: 

  1. Region III (SJDM)

  2. CARAGA (Bayugan City)

  3. Region V (Iriga City)

  4. Region II (Cagayan)

  5. Region IX (Zamboanga del Sur)

  6. CAR (Ifugao)

  7. MIMAROPA (Oriental Mindoro)


Best in Technical Application: 

  1. Region III  (City of San Jose del Monte)

  2. CARAGA Region (Bayugan City)

  3. NCR (Mandaluyong)

  4. Region XII (Koronadal City)

  5. Region V (Iriga City)

  6. NIR (Bacolod City)

  7. Region VII (Cebu City)


Radio & Script Writing & Broadcasting (Filipino):


Best News Anchor: 

  1. CALABARZON - Gian Nikole Rivera (Cavite)

  2. CALABARZON - John Amiel Dolor (Cavite)

  3. MIMAROPA - Andrea Sario (Oriental Mindoro)

  4. NCR - Chelsea Jemimah Gopo (Makati City)


Best News Presenter: 

  1. CALABARZON - Gwyneth Phoebe Ambion (Cavite)

  2. CALABARZON - Mia Ysabelle Baybay (Cavite)

  3. CALABARZON - Faith Tricia Love Bartolome (Cavite)

  4. CARAGA - Dale Yvnnah Sayago (Bayugan City)

  5. Region II - Princess Allysa Pacubas (Isabela)

  6. MIMAROPA - Reiah Shiri Diezmos (Oriental Mindoro)

  7. Region XI - Aiza Mae Ambo (Digos City)


Best Script (Group): 

  1. CALABARZON (Cavite)

  2. Region II (Isabela)

  3. Region IX (Zamboanga City)

  4. MIMAROPA (Oriental Mindoro)

  5. Region XI (various cities)

  6. Region I (Alaminos City)

  7. Region X (Ozamiz City)


Best Infomercial (Group):

  1. CALABARZON (Cavite)

  2. MIMAROPA (Oriental Mindoro)

  3. NCR (Makati City)

  4. Region II (Isabela)

  5. Region V (Legazpi City)

  6. Region VI (Roxas City)

  7. Region I (Alaminos City


Best in Technical Application:

  1. CALABARZON (Cavite)

  2. CARAGA (Cabdbaran City)

  3. MIMAROPA (Oriental Mindoro)

  4. Region II (Isabela)

  5. *TBC

  6. Region I (Alaminos)

  7. Region XI (Tagum City)


Overall Best in Radio Production (English): 

  1. Region III (SJDM)

  2. CARAGA (Bayugan City)

  3. Region I 

  4. NIR (Bacolod City)

  5. CALABARZON (Cavite)

  6. NCR (Mandaluyong City)

  7. Region X


Overall Best in Radio Production (Filipino): 

  1. CALABARZON (Cavite)

  2. MIMAROPA (Oriental Mindoro)

  3. NCR (Makati)

  4. Region II (Isabela)

  5. Region III (SJDM)

  6. Region VI (Roxas City)

  7. Region X (Ozamiz City)


The top-performing regions in the Elementary division are the following:  

Individual Events:


  2. Region III

  3. NCR

  4. Region XI 

  5. Region II

  6. Region X



Group Events: 


  2. Region III

  3. Region XI

  4. Region V


  6. CAR

  7. NCR


Over-all winners in the Elementary level: 


  2. Region III

  3. Region XI

  4. Region V

  5. NCR

  6. Region II


NSPC is the biggest journalism contest in the Philippines organized annually by the DepEd. NSPC 2018 will be hosted by the Negros Island Region. – Rappler.com

Follow NSPC News for MovePH's full coverage of the annual schools press conference.

Rappler X introduced at NSPC 2017 for online publication contest


TOP PRIZE. Students from Region 5 - Catanduanes National High School enjoy their first place win for the English Online Publishing contest at NSPC. Photo by Carl Don Berwin/Rappler

PAGADIAN CITY, Philippines - High school students from all over the country got a taste of what it's like to be working in a social news network as they competed in the Online Publishing demonstration contest of the National Schools Press Conference 2017. 

Teams of 7 members each were asked to create an online news blog using X, Rappler's free self-publishing platform. Just like in any newsroom, each member had a different role to fulfill and a different story to file before the 7:00 pm deadline on Tuesday, January 24.

With 18 regions represented and two language categories (English and Filipino), a total of 36 teams or 252 students got to experience first-hand how they could use online platforms like X to tell their stories to a wider audience. 

The campus journalists were asked to write about cyber bullying, the planned construction of an underwater theme park in Palawan, and telco provider Smart Communications’ School-in-a-Bag program. The journalists were also able to interview invited a panel of resource speakers that included Rappler head of research and content strategy Gemma Bagayaua-Mendoza, MovePH executive director Rupert Ambil, and MovePH editor Voltaire Tupaz.

Most teams were able to create an online publication and publish their stories on Rappler X, which can be viewed by the public.  

The top 7 best teams for the English category are: 

1. Region 5 - Catanduanes - Catanduanes National HS

2. Region 1 - Ilocos Sur - Naruacan National Central HS

3. Region 3 - Angeles City - Philippine Science HS - Central Luzon Campus

4. Region 11 - Tagum City - La Filipina National HS

5. Region 7 - Cebu City - Cebu City National Science HS

6. Region 8 - Tacloban City - Leyte National HS

7. CAR - Baguio City - Philippine Science HS - CAR Campus

WINNER. Students from Region 8 - Dr Vicente Oresies Romualdez Educational Foundation celebrate after winning the Online Publication Contest Filipino Category at NSPC 2017. Photo by Carl Don Berwin/Rappler  

The top 7 best teams for the Filipino category are: 

1. Region 8 - Tacloban City - Dr Vicente Oresies Romualdez Educational Foundation

2. Region 10 - Cagayan de Oro City - Guss Regional Science HS

3. Region 7 - Danao City - Ramon M. Durano Sr. Foundation - S&T Educ Center

4. Region 6 - Iloilo - Oton National HS

5. Region 4B - Calapan City - Holy Infant Academy

6. Region 1 - Laoag City - Ilocos Norte College of Arts and Trades

7. NCR - Don Bosco Institute - Makati, San Isidro NHS, Tibagan HS, San Antonio NHS, Colegio San Agustin 

The contest results, however, had no bearing on the overall team scores as this was only a demonstration contest.

This is the first time Rappler, its civic engagement arm MovePH, and the Department of Education have partnered for the conduct of the demonstration contest at NSPC. It is hoped the lessons learned from this trial contest can be used to improve next year’s online publishing contest, when the points will actually count. 


More than 5,000 elementary and high school students participated in this year's NSPC, the biggest campus journalism contest in the Philippines organized annually by the DepEd. NSPC 2018 will be hosted by the Negros Island Region.- Rappler.com

Read more stories about NSPC on Rappler X


Calabarzon completes historic 5-peat at #NSPC2017


CHAMPIONS. Calabarzon dominates both individual and group events in the elementary  and secondary divisions in the recently concluded National Schools Press Conference 2017. Photo courtesy of DepEd

PAGADIAN CITY, Philippines – Campus journalists from Calabarzon marched to their region's historic 5th straight win as the National Schools Press Conference (NSPC) 2017 held in Pagadian City closed on Wednesday, January 25.

As it did in the elementary division, Calabarzon dominated both individual and group events in the secondary level, emerging as the overall champion of the grueling 4-day competition among the Philippines' best campus journalists.

Region III (Central Luzon) and Region XI (Davao) placed second and third among the top performing regions, respectively.

Below is the full list of the winners in the NSPC 2017 secondary division:


News Writing:

  1. CALABARZON - Limuel Limbago (Rizal)

  2. Region XII - Rhoda Ebad (Saranfani)

  3. Region XI - Justynne Keigh Dabo (Tagum City)

  4. Region II - Frans Garamaje (Tuguegarao)

  5. CARAGA - Alie Peter Galeon (Bayugan City)

  6. Region X - Earl Joy Lopina (Camiguin)

  7. CAR - Marishel Base (Mountain Province)


Editorial Writing: 

  1. Region VII - Irina Chua (Mandaua City)

  2. Region XI - Jaecian Cesar (Davao City)

  3. Region XII - Nicole Moscoso (Tacurong City)

  4. Region VII - Jan Emmanuel Alonzo (Toledo City)

  5. Region VIII - Claire Angelie Gabisay (Biliran City)

  6. NIR - Sophia Cantiller (Silay City)

  7. Region III - Marian Ballesteros (San Jose del Monte)


Feature Writing:

  1. Region III - Regine Villafuerte (Tarlac City)

  2. MIMAROPA - Jubil Binas (Oriental Mindoro)

  3. Region V - Vitus Moron (Albay)

  4. Region II - Lester Dave Pua (Isabela)

  5. CAR - Patricia Razon (Baguio City)

  6. CALABARZON - Emirie Advincula (Imus City)

  7. Region IX - HEaven AJ Madrangca (Zamboanga del Sur)


Copyreading and Headline Writing: 

  1. Region III - Maria ALanis Tenorio (Bulacan)

  2. Region VIII - Britney Sarmen (Maasin City)

  3. Region II - Emily Francisco (Cagayan)

  4. NCR - Georgie Cudia (Manila)

  5. CARAGA - Regia Zoleta (Agusan del Norte)

  6. Region VII - Marianne Mendoza (Mandaue City)

  7. Region X - Jerome Aparri (Iligan City)


Pagsulat ng Balita: 

  1. Region II - Wendel Viernes (Tuguegarao)

  2. CALABARZON - Jaira Pancho (Cavite)

  3. Region II - Regie Estrada (Cagayan)

  4. CALABARZON - Abegail Batieco (Lucena)

  5. MIMAROPA - Ellah Daniot (Calapan)

  6. Region I - Trixia Anne Nefalar (Ilocos Norte)

  7. NIR - Alyssa Pojas (Negros Occidental)


Pagsulat ng Editoryal:

  1. Region XII - Kathleen Sabanate (General Santos)

  2. Region III - Ronaldo Galvez Jr (Malolos)

  3. CARAGA - Moniera Planas (Butuan)

  4. CALABARZON - Nina Myka Arceo (San Pablo)

  5. Region XI - Trisha Lopina (Davao City)

  6. Region VI - Samantha Abella (Capiz)

  7. Region VIII - Christine Barongo (Catbalogan)


Pagsulat ng Lathalain: 

  1. Region XII - Angelou Giron (Koronadal City)

  2. CALABARZON - Johndel Lazarte (Laguna)

  3. MIMAROPA - Edvan Jasmyne Raymundo (Calapan)

  4. CALABARZON - Jhames Sabellano (Imus)

  5. Region VIII - Cecil Solidon (Borongan)

  6. Region V - Justine Tataro (Camarines Sur)

  7. CAR - Crystelle Tomilas (Baguio)


Pagwawasto at Pag-uulo ng Balita: 

  1. Region I - Erson Natividad (Alaminos)

  2. CARAGA - John Dave Deroca (Cabadbaran)

  3. Region III - Fredelito Liquigan Jr (Nueva Vizcaya)

  4. CARAGA - Lerry Demetrio (Agusan del Sur)

  5. Region XII - Ira Bagaforo (Koronadal City)

  6. Region X - Christine Madjos (Tangub)

  7. CALABARZON - Jazz Ilao (Cavite)


Sports Writing: 

  1. Region X - Mary Grace Gorre (Ozamiz City)

  2. Region X - Rico Leibling (Camiguin)

  3. CALABARZON - Tom Joel Paliangayan (Laguna)

  4. Region V - Felimon Gozun Jr (Iriga City)

  5. Region II - John Mar Valdez (Ilagan City)

  6. Region VII - Kristine Cutanda (Bohol)

  7. CARAGA - Christian Salvana (Agusan del Sur)


Science and Technology Writing: 

  1. CALABARZON - Alodia Baisas (Binan City)

  2. NCR - Jose Sealtiel Cruz (Malabon)

  3. Region XI - Mariebella Annika Questo (Tagum City)

  4. CARAGA - Marcel Ratonel (Surigao del Sur)

  5. CALABARZON - Krisanne Sanchez (Cavite)

  6. NCR - Euwie Desabayla (Caloocan)

  7. NCR - Jerlyn Diosel Besas (Quezon City)


Editorial Cartooning: 

  1. CALABARZON - Reymar Bulanon (Calamba City)

  2. Region XII - Neo Respicio (Koronadal City)

  3. Region II - Jenric Dela Cruz (Cagayan)

  4. Region III - Eddie Talens (Nueva Ecija)

  5. CALABARZON - Kenneth Galindo (Rizal)

  6. Region VII - Loie Guibone (Bohol)

  7. NIR - Ruxandra Velez (Dumaguete City)



  1. Region I - Claire Tagasa (Ilocos Sur)

  2. Region X - Trisha Mae Arias (Bukidnon)

  3. CARAGA - Jea Regina Moleta (Dinagat Islands)

  4. Region IX - Kathleen Villarin (Zamboanga del Norte)

  5. CALABARZON - Madelle Casapao (Batangas)

  6. Region V - Jake Dela Justa (Camarines Sur)

  7. MIMAROPA - Bea Mae Punongbayan (Occidental Mindoro)


Pagsulat ng Balitang Pampalakasan: 

  1. Region X - Jeriza Cabasag (Misamis Occidental)

  2. Region XII - Kristel Boteros (Cotabato)

  3. Region I - Gio Rosario (Pangasinan)

  4. Region XI - Arvin Englisa (Compostela Valley)

  5. Region VII - Lovely Gomez (Cebu City)

  6. Region V - Elize Bausa (Sorsogon)

  7. Region III - Alissandra Conol (San Jose Del Monte)


Pagsulat sa Agham at Teknolohiya: 

  1. CALABARZON - Regina Llanillo (Cavite)

  2. Region III - Gia Gemeno (Olongapo)

  3. Region VIII - Jhon Philip Maloloy-on (Biliran)

  4. Region XI - Rae Ann Feguracion (Tagum City)

  5. Region V - Theolornie Hila (Sorsogon)

  6. CAR - Jinky Ga-ayon (Tabuk)

  7. Region VI - Reynold Sumido Jr (Iloilo)


Editoryal Kartuning: 

  1. Region III - Mark Lemuel Gonzales (San Fernando)

  2. Region III - Kevin Jake Ramos (Quirino)

  3. CALABARZON - Robert Borinaga (Laguna)

  4. Region I - Adrian Kyle Fernandez (Dagupan)

  5. Region VIII - Jobelle Calderon (Leyte)

  6. Region X - Remuel Dela Cruz (Bukidnon)

  7. NCR - Allen Irgola (Pasay)


Pagkuha ng Larawang Pampahayagan: 

  1. CALABARZON - John Metierre (Quezon)

  2. CALABARZON - Russel Cabillo (Calamba)

  3. NCR - Angel Ramido (Manila)

  4. Region XII - Gwyneth Evangelista (Sultan Kudarat)

  5. Region IX - Trixia Coleen Ochotorena (Dipolog)

  6. Region X - Diane Nicole Ytac (Ozamiz)

  7. NCR - Denise Infante (Mandaluyong)


Collaborative Desktop Publishing (English): 

  1. Region III

  2. Region XI

  3. Region XII


  5. Caraga

  6. Region VI

  7. Region VII


Collaborative Desktop Publishing (Filipino): 


  2. Region VI

  3. Region X

  4. Region III

  5. Region XI

  6. Caraga

  7. Region I


Radio and Script Writing and Broadcasting (English): 

Best News Anchor: 

  1. CARAGA - Raphael Chavez (Butuan City)

  2. Region VI - Reymart Eufracio (Iloilo)

  3. Region I - Joan Reyes (Vigan City)

  4. Region II - Pere Maria Banicaua (Nueva Vizcaya)

  5. NIR - Mina Vanessa Saldo (Bayawan City)

  6. Region VI - Paule Castro (Iloilo)

  7. NIR - Jan Aaron Dela Torre (Bayawan City)


Best News Presenter: 

  1. Region VI - Gerlyn Joy Rojo (Iloilo)

  2. Region VI - Juliag Espanola (Iloilo)

  3. Region V - Kathleen Enesio (Sorsogon)

  4. Region II - Mozar Martin Abubakar (Nueva Vizcaya)

  5. MIMAROPA - Agnes Ysabel Gana (Oriental Mindoro)

  6. Region I - Joan Reyes (Vigan City)

  7. Region IX - Aliah Joyce Mahinay (Pagadian City)


Best Script: 

  1. Region III

  2. Region VI

  3. Region XI


  5. NCR

  6. Region XII

  7. Caraga


Best Infomercial: 

  1. Region VI

  2. Region V

  3. Region X

  4. Region III

  5. Region I

  6. Caraga



Best in Technical Application: 

  1. Caraga

  2. NCR

  3. Region V

  4. Region XI

  5. Region II

  6. Region VIII

  7. Region X


Radio and Script Writing & Broadcasting (Filipino):

Best News Anchor: 

  1. Region II - Alfonso Anes (Ilagan City)

  2. Region XI - Vince Astillo (Tagum City)

  3. Region II - Jomild Balao (Ilagan City)

  4. Region XI - Michel Tumulak (Davao City)

  5. Region X - Xenia Claire Catedral (Ozamiz City)

  6. MIMAROPA - Travis Luke Solancho (Calapan City)

  7. NCR - Jerusha Japzon (Mandaluyong)


Best News Presenter: 

  1. Region XI - Celnie Tandoc (Tagum City)

  2. Region XI - Odyssa Estrada (Tagum City)

  3. CALABARZON - Ella Jane Mira (Quezon)

  4. Region II - Kazer Joshua Galindon (Ilagan City)

  5. CAR - Joshua Ben Galaboc (Baguio City)

  6. Region II - Hannah Jean Sanggo (Ilagan City)

  7. Region II - Carla Yvon Mallannao (Ilagan City)


Best Script:

  1. Region IX

  2. Region III

  3. Region I

  4. Caraga

  5. Region V

  6. NCR

  7. Region XI


Best Infomercial: 

  1. Region II

  2. Region IX

  3. Region X

  4. Caraga

  5. NIR


  7. Region XI (Davao)


Best in Technical Application:

  1. Region VI

  2. Region III

  3. Caraga

  4. NCR


  6. Region X

  7. CAR


Overall Best in Radio Production (English): 

  1. Region VI (Western Visayas)

  2. Caraga

  3. Region III

  4. Region X


  6. Region I

  7. NCR


Overall Best in Radio Production (Filipino): 

  1. Region III (Cagayan)

  2. Region XI (Davao)

  3. Region IX

  4. NCR



  7. Region III


TV Scriptwriting and Broadcasting (English):

Most Promising Video Journalist: 

  1. Region X - Carteen Faculin (CDO)

  2. Region IX - Joey Claret (Dipolog City)

  3. CALABARZON - Airah Apulog (Cavite)

  4. Region XI - Elmer Cutin (Davao City)

  5. Region VIII - MAtthew Palacio (Leyte)

  6. MIMAROPA - Denver Permiter (Puerto Princesa)

  7. NCR - Renaldo Sabado (Mandaluyong)


Best News Anchor: 

  1. Region VI - Jethro Gerez (Iloilo)

  2. Region VI - Kate Larroder (Iloilo City)

  3. Region X - Fulgent Garay (CDO)

  4. Region VIII - James Ryan Ceballos (Leyte)

  5. CALABARZON - Shekina Viel Polorito (Cavite)

  6. Region X - Gelynette Heducos (CDO)

  7. Region IX - Briget Recocosa (Dipolog City)


Best News Reporter: 

  1. Region VI - Abby Penaflorida (Iloilo)

  2. Region IX - Aina PAngo (Dipolog)

  3. Region IX - Josephine Perlta (Dipolog)

  4. Region III - Ericka Ramos (Malolos City)

  5. Region VIII - Gorg Ryan Requiez (Leyte)

  6. Region X - Sophia Lee Yu (CDO)

  7. CALABARZON - Gian Paulo Santos (Cavite)


Best Script: 

  1. Region IX (Dipolog City)

  2. CALABARZON (Cavite)

  3. NIR (Bacolod City)

  4. Region V (Camarines Sur)

  5. Region X (CDO)

  6. Region VII (Cebu City)

  7. Region VIII (Leyte)


Best in Technical Application: 

  1. Region IX (Dipolog City)

  2. Region VI (Iloilo City)

  3. NIR (Bacolod City)

  4. Region II (Isabela)

  5. Caraga (Surigao City)

  6. CALABARZON (Cavite)

  7. MIMAROPA (Puerto Princesa)


Best in Development Communication: 

  1. Region V (Camarines Sur)

  2. Reion VII (Cebu City)

  3. CAR (Benguet)

  4. MIMAROPA (Cavite)

  5. Caraga (Surigao City)

  6. Region X (CDO)

  7. Region IX (Dipolog)


TV Scriptwriting and Broadcasting (English):

Most Promising Video Journalist: 

  1. Region X - Kyara Rabuyo (CDO)

  2. Region II - Jerico Musni (Cagayan)

  3. CALABARZON - Jhan Hagas (Cavite)

  4. Region VII - Patricia Tumulak (Cebu City)

  5. Region III - Paul Santos (Malolos City0

  6. Region VIII - Angel Santiago (Eastern Samar)

  7. Region VI - Ruben Java Jr (Iloilo)


Best News Anchor: 

  1. MIMAROPA - Alfred Pantaleon (Occidental Mindoro)

  2. CALABARZON - Jhezzarie Doreza (Cavite)

  3. Region VIII - Edward Mercado (Eastern Samar)

  4. CALABARZON - Jethro Matthew Antenor (Lucena)

  5. Region V - Mutya Gulapa (Naga City)

  6. Region X - Angela Luardo (CDO)

  7. Region VIII - Cheska Queroda (Eastern Samar)


Best News Reporter: 

  1. NIR - Mary Joy Banzon (Dumaguete)

  2. Region V - Shakyra Cledera (Naga City)

  3. Region VI - Prescious Saddalon (Iloilo)

  4. Region VIII - Angel Santiago (Eastern Samar)

  5. CALABARZON - Jethro Antenor (Lucena)

  6. CALABARZON - Grace Patricio (Cavite)

  7. Region V - Frances Savilla (Naga City)


Best Script: 

  1. CALABARZON (Cavite City)

  2. Region VIII (Eastern Samar)

  3. Region XII (Cotabato Province)

  4. Region III (Malolos)

  5. Region I (Ilocos Norte)

  6. NIR (Dumaguete City)

  7. Caraga (Cabadbaran City)


Best in Technical Application: 

  1. NIR (Dumaguete City)

  2. ARMM (Maguindanao)

  3. Region VIII (Eastern Samar)

  4. Region XI (Tagum City)

  5. MIMAROPA (Occidental Mindoro)

  6. CAR (Baguio City)

  7. Region I (Ilocos Norte)


Best in Development Communication: 

  1. Region IX (Zamboanga City)

  2. Caraga (Cabadbaran City)

  3. CALABARZON (Cavite)

  4. Region VII (Cebu City)

  5. Region V (Naga City)

  6. Region XII (Cotabato)

  7. CAR (Baguio City)


Overall Best in TV Broadcasting (English): 

  1. Region IX


  3. Region VI

  4. Region III

  5. Region X

  6. Region VII

  7. Region V


Overall Best in TV Broadcasting (Filipino): 


  2. Region VIII

  3. Region XII

  4. Region III

  5. NIR

  6. Region I

  7. Region X


Overall Awards: Top-Performing Regions in Individual Events: 


  2. NCR

  3. Region XII

  4. Region III

  5. Region XI

  6. Region X

  7. Caraga


TOP PRIZE. Students from Region 5 - Catanduanes National High School enjoy their first place win for the English Online Publishing contest at NSPC. Photo by Carl Don Berwin/Rappler

First online publication contest at NSPC

For the first time in the history of NSPC, Rappler, its civic engagement arm MovePH, and the Department of Education have partnered for the conduct of the Online Publication demonstration contest. However, the results for this category had no bearing on the overall team scores. (READ: Rappler X introduced at NSPC 2017 for online publication contest)

It is hoped that the lessons learned from this trial contest can be used to improve next year’s online publication category, when the points will actually count.

The following regions won the category:

Best in Online Publication (English): 

  1. Region V (Catanduanes)

  2. Region I (Ilocos Sur)

  3. Region III (Angeles City)

  4. Region XI (Tagum City)

  5. Region VII (Cebu City)

  6. Region VIII (Tacloban City)

  7. CAR (Baguio City)


Best in Online Publication (Filipino): 

  1. Region VIII (Tacloban City)

  2. Region X (CDO)

  3. Region VII (Danao City)

  4. Region VI (Iloilo)c

  5. MIMAROPA (Calapan City)

  6. Region I (Laoag City)

  7. NCR (Makati)

Department of Education (DepEd) Assistant Secretary Tonicito Umali urged the aspiring journalists to use their talents to help bring about change.

"Let us be instruments of change. Let us use our abilities to start change now and strengthen freedom of information through campus journalism," Umali said in Filipino.

NSPC is the biggest journalism contest in the Philippines organized annually by the DepEd. Next year's NSPC will be hosted by the Negros Island Region. – Rappler.com


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