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136M Twitter views: Pledges for climate action surge as #COP21 nears


MANILA, Philippines – As the world counts down to the 21st United Nations climate change conference (COP21) in Paris in December, Filipino netizens and celebrities pledge online to do their share in combatting climate change.

Dubbed #NowPH (Not on Our Watch Philippines), the Twitter chat on Thursday, October 29, highlighted the campaign to gather at least one million voices calling on countries to act on climate change issues to prevent global warming from reaching 2 degrees Celsius. (READ: #COP21 climate action: 1 million voices from PH to Paris)

The conversation made at least 136 million impressions online, according to Rappler's data analytics tool, Reach. "Impressions" refer to the number of people who have seen the hashtag on Twitter.

When #NowPH kicked off on October 6, #NowPH racked up 47,684,128 impressions on Twitter.

The campaign is an initiative of the National Youth Commission (NYC) and the Climate Change Commission (CCC), with support from USAID Building Low Emission Alternatives to Develop Economic Resilience and Sustainability Project (B-LEADERS). MovePH, Rappler's civic engagement arm, is a social media partner. 

#NowPH's reach

Let’s take a look at some of the key insights on the recent #NowPH conversation.

The whole-day engagement on Thursday generated more than 7,000 tweets (excluding retweets). More than 2,000 unique authors joined the conversation using the official hashtag.

#NowPH pillars and ambassadors – including personalities from various fields: artists Julie Anne San Jose and Derrick Monasterio, and Ateneo athletes Alyssa Valdez and Kiefer Ravena – joined the chat.

Senator Bam Aquino and National Youth Commission (NYC) Commissioner Dingdong Dantes also weighed in on the discussion as the biggest influencers.

BROADCASTER. Accounts with huge following but low engagement.

With their wide following, the accounts of San Jose, Monasterio, Valdez, Ravena, Aquino, Rappler, and MovePH were the conversation's most influential broadcasters.

LINKERS. Accounts who connect otherwise unconnected communities.

Dantes, MovePH editor Voltaire Tupaz, advocacy group DAKILA, and NowPH's official twitter account were the biggest linkers or accounts that helped in bringing in unconnected communities.

Call to action

Like other developing countries, the Philippines has a big stake in the climate talks, stressed #NowPH pillar Renee Karunungan, who observes and writes about the negotiatons.  

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">. <a href="https://twitter.com/MovePH">@MovePH</a> Because we did not cause climate change but we are suffering from it. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NowPH?src=hash">#NowPH</a></p>&mdash; Renee Karunungan (@rjkarunungan) <a href="https://twitter.com/rjkarunungan/status/659627643554258944">October 29, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source} 


{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">. <a href="https://twitter.com/VoltaireTupaz">@VoltaireTupaz</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/ben_muni">@ben_muni</a> If we have a strong agreement, countries have no choice but change the system to solve climate crisis <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NowPH?src=hash">#NowPH</a></p>&mdash; Renee Karunungan (@rjkarunungan) <a href="https://twitter.com/rjkarunungan/status/659631367911702528">October 29, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}



Dantes, who leads the #NowPH movement, urged the youth to care for the environment and take action to help combat climate change:




{source} <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Climate Change is inevitable. It cannot be stopped, nor reversed...but, we can minimize its effects. U don&#39;t have to be an expert to care.</p>&mdash; Dingdong Dantes (@iamdongdantes) <a href="https://twitter.com/iamdongdantes/status/659729900081823744">October 29, 2015</a></blockquote>




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{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Why must the Filipino youth get involved in <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NowPH?src=hash">#NowPH</a>? Join the Twitter conversation at 2pm today to learn more! <a href="https://t.co/2tAtIQ0WZn">pic.twitter.com/2tAtIQ0WZn</a></p>&mdash; #NowPH (@NowPH_org) <a href="https://twitter.com/NowPH_org/status/659597309051731968">October 29, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}




Responding to #NowPH's call, many netizens pledged to act, citing the recent typhoons that had hit the country hard. 

The military's Peace Process Office chief Major Mario Jose Chico, another #NowPH pillar, shared how his family was affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan):

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/MovePH">@MovePH</a> my experiences being involved in disaster rescue missions; as a father where my fam survived the onslaught of Yolanda in Tacloban.</p>&mdash; Mario Jose Chico (@Emjay_Chico) <a href="https://twitter.com/Emjay_Chico/status/659617979299028992">October 29, 2015</a></blockquote>

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{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Climate change --- Every year, typhoons are getting stronger. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NowPH?src=hash">#NowPH</a> <a href="https://t.co/r7CugsUX7a">https://t.co/r7CugsUX7a</a></p>&mdash; Lonie Palmy (@AllAboutLonie) <a href="https://twitter.com/AllAboutLonie/status/659708778237919232">October 29, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/MovePH">@MovePH</a> As a journalist, Typhoon Yolanda was an eye-opener. We need to do something to fight climate change <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NowPH?src=hash">#NowPH</a></p>&mdash; David Bryan Lozada (@iamdavidlozada) <a href="https://twitter.com/iamdavidlozada/status/659612896842792962">October 29, 2015</a></blockquote>

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Typhoon Yolanda lashed the country in November, 2013, killing thousands and injuring countless more.

Individual and collective efforts

It's not too late to address climate change issues, netizens stressed.

{source} <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/MovePH">@MovePH</a> the youth will play a big part in helping climate change because the power that the youth has is capable of changing the world.</p>&mdash; Kiefer Ravena (@kieferravena) <a href="https://twitter.com/kieferravena/status/659721210024988672">October 29, 2015</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/MovePH">@MovePH</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/iamdongdantes">@iamdongdantes</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/bamaquino">@bamaquino</a> I think that we all have to do something NOW. Don&#39;t wait for it to be too late <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NowPH?src=hash">#NowPH</a></p>&mdash; Xavier S. Padilla (@xavyniceday) <a href="https://twitter.com/xavyniceday/status/659707448043810816">October 29, 2015</a></blockquote>

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{source} <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/MovePH">@MovePH</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/iamdongdantes">@iamdongdantes</a> It’s never too late to fight global warming and climate change. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NowPH?src=hash">#NowPH</a> <a href="https://t.co/PFTvCgIf3s">https://t.co/PFTvCgIf3s</a></p>&mdash; Bam Aquino (@bamaquino) <a href="https://twitter.com/bamaquino/status/659711612324999168">October 29, 2015</a></blockquote>

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Other netizens shared individual and group initiatives that help save the environment.

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/VoltaireTupaz">@VoltaireTupaz</a> a lot of ways to help! For me, ill be more aware of the things around me. Ex: paper, ill make sure to make good use of it.</p>&mdash; Kiefer Ravena (@kieferravena) <a href="https://twitter.com/kieferravena/status/659710437659815937">October 29, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

{source} <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Segregating thrash is a simple task. No-sweat. Saya when u see kids learn how to do it. Its never too late to fight climate change. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NowPH?src=hash">#NowPH</a></p>&mdash; rj de los santos (@rjdlossantos) <a href="https://twitter.com/rjdlossantos/status/659712628244086784">October 29, 2015</a></blockquote>

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{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/AlyssaValdez2">@AlyssaValdez2</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/iamdongdantes">@iamdongdantes</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/MovePH">@MovePH</a> avoid using plastic bags, have a segregated garbage collection, these must be practiced religiously</p>&mdash; Ruby (@rubietania) <a href="https://twitter.com/rubietania/status/659709102197596162">October 29, 2015</a></blockquote>

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{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Also, when commuting, choose buses and jeeps that are not smoke belchers! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NowPH?src=hash">#NowPH</a> <a href="https://t.co/iqctqmTMvG">https://t.co/iqctqmTMvG</a></p>&mdash; YesPinoy Foundation (@yespinoy) <a href="https://twitter.com/yespinoy/status/659712234428366849">October 29, 2015</a></blockquote>

<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

Twitter user @janyxregalo pointed out that educating the youth is just as important as individual actions:


<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Will be great if K12 includes <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/climatechange?src=hash">#climatechange</a> discussions jnthe curriculum. <a href="https://twitter.com/MovePH">@moveph</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/nowph?src=hash">#nowph</a> <a href="https://t.co/34xfBLdbBo">https://t.co/34xfBLdbBo</a></p>&mdash; janyx regalo (@janyxregalo) <a href="https://twitter.com/janyxregalo/status/659635094244618240">October 29, 2015</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/CCCPhl">@cccphl</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/janyxregalo">@janyxregalo</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/MovePH">@moveph</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NowPH?src=hash">#NowPH</a> teachers must take this subject as serious as possible to encourage students to do what is right.</p>&mdash; MJTB (@UtteringMute) <a href="https://twitter.com/UtteringMute/status/659637467801350144">October 29, 2015</a></blockquote>

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These efforts, however, need to be pushed at the national and global levels, other netizens stressed. Small steps are just a part of the solution; voicing concerns on global warming is another chunk of it:


<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">. <a href="https://twitter.com/pauboyyy">@pauboyyy</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/MovePH">@MovePH</a> Coming together gives pressure to governments. Grassroots movement slowly winning this. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NowPH?src=hash">#NowPH</a></p>&mdash; Renee Karunungan (@rjkarunungan) <a href="https://twitter.com/rjkarunungan/status/659631661013839872">October 29, 2015</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/rjkarunungan">@rjkarunungan</a> thankfully,we have soc. media as source for &quot;force multipliers&quot; to develop a cult. of preparedness and accountability. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NowPH?src=hash">#NowPH</a></p>&mdash; Josh (@hellothisisjosh) <a href="https://twitter.com/hellothisisjosh/status/659624227570454528">October 29, 2015</a></blockquote>

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{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/VoltaireTupaz">@VoltaireTupaz</a> Shift to ecological agriculture - organic farming, saying no to monocultures and GMOs. Urban container farming important too.</p>&mdash; Ben Muni (@ben_muni) <a href="https://twitter.com/ben_muni/status/659633547284639744">October 29, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/malinginV">@malinginV</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/VoltaireTupaz">@VoltaireTupaz</a> We need to use renewable sources of energy. Do it by phase as it entails costs. Earth is more valuable than gold.</p>&mdash; Mario Jose Chico (@Emjay_Chico) <a href="https://twitter.com/Emjay_Chico/status/659634524909801473">October 29, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The Philippines has a National Climate Change Action Plan 2011-2028 via <a href="https://t.co/V7iB08mYop">https://t.co/V7iB08mYop</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NowPH?src=hash">#NowPH</a> <a href="https://t.co/cNcTCfirNQ">https://t.co/cNcTCfirNQ</a></p>&mdash; Bam Aquino (@bamaquino) <a href="https://twitter.com/bamaquino/status/659712370659295232">October 29, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">What can we do to fight <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ClimateChange?src=hash">#ClimateChange</a>? Here&#39;s <a href="https://twitter.com/Leon_SnT4P">@Leon_SnT4P</a> suggestion: &#10;&#10;Join our ongoing <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NowPH?src=hash">#NowPH</a> convo! <a href="https://t.co/UbgVTtRvQm">pic.twitter.com/UbgVTtRvQm</a></p>&mdash; Rappler (@rapplerdotcom) <a href="https://twitter.com/rapplerdotcom/status/659707360596758529">October 29, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

Do your share now

The #NowPH movement suggested a few climate actions netizens can do to reduce carbon emission and help minimize the effects of global warming:

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">This is my <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NowPH?src=hash">#NowPH</a> pledge. When not in use, just switch it off &amp; unplug. <a href="https://t.co/ecr3Iga0Qj">pic.twitter.com/ecr3Iga0Qj</a></p>&mdash; Alyssa Valdez (@AlyssaValdez2) <a href="https://twitter.com/AlyssaValdez2/status/659729882495086593">October 29, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">It can be as easy as this. What is your contribution? <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NowPH?src=hash">#NowPH</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/MovePH">@MovePH</a> <a href="https://t.co/t2wkB2M3DS">pic.twitter.com/t2wkB2M3DS</a></p>&mdash; Dingdong Dantes (@iamdongdantes) <a href="https://twitter.com/iamdongdantes/status/659728774020263936">October 29, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">This is my pledge! I can still shop and save the earth at the same time. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NowPH?src=hash">#NowPH</a> <a href="https://t.co/VZKyK2HgIk">pic.twitter.com/VZKyK2HgIk</a></p>&mdash; Vania PadillaEdralin (@vaniaedralin) <a href="https://twitter.com/vaniaedralin/status/659731787447320576">October 29, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">A <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/climatechange?src=hash">#climatechange</a> expert said that PH has strong policies.It&#39;s time we strengthen execution&#10;This is my <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NowPH?src=hash">#NowPH</a> pledge <a href="https://t.co/kgPxAHS56u">pic.twitter.com/kgPxAHS56u</a></p>&mdash; Raisa Serafica (@RaiMarielle) <a href="https://twitter.com/RaiMarielle/status/659730416165761024">October 29, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}


Here are the other climate actions you can take to cushion the impact and devastating effects of global warming.

{source}<div id="fb-root"></div><script>(function(d, s, id) {  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;  js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id;  js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_GB/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.3";  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script><div class="fb-post" data-href="https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1043193522381214.1073741835.1032013900165843&amp;type=3" data-width="500"><div class="fb-xfbml-parse-ignore"><blockquote cite="https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1043193522381214.1073741835.1032013900165843&amp;type=3">Posted by <a href="https://www.facebook.com/nowph.org/">Not On Our Watch - #nowph</a> on&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1043193522381214.1073741835.1032013900165843&amp;type=3">Wednesday, 28 October 2015</a></blockquote></div></div>{/source}

Share them on your social media accounts and challenge your friends and relatives to help save the planet.  Noel Lopez/Rappler.com

Noel Lopez is a Rappler intern.

Gov't to compensate 110,000 farmers affected by Typhoon Lando


COPING WITH STORMS. A farmer from Pulilan, Bulacan start drying their palay after days of rains brought by Typhoon Lando. Photo by Albert Victoria/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The government is set to compensate insured farmers affected by Typhoon Lando (international name Koppu) which ravaged major agricultural regions and wrought billions worth of damage to crops.

Some P732 million has been allocated by the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC) to compensate farmers insured under its program, according to a Department of Agriculture press statement on Friday, October 30.

The amount is based on a rapid assessment by the PCIC regional offices in 34 affected provinces. But it represents only 12% of the total cost of damage to the agricultural sector, which the DA pegged at P6.3 billion.

The assessment confirmed that some 95,000 hectares of insured farms owned or operated by 110,000 farmers were damaged. It is these farmers who will receive the compensation.

PCIC president Jovy Bernabe has instructed his staff to “assist affected farmers and speed up processing of damage claims in less than the 20-day regulation period.”

According to the PCIC report, most of affected insured farmers are from Regions I, II, and III.

The distribution of affected farmers is as follows:

RegionNo. of affected insured farmers
Region I40,226
Region III32,715
Region II10,568

Among insured farmers, those in the rice sector endured the greatest damage. P513 million worth of damaged crops came from more than 77,000 hectares being tilled by 89,786 farmers.

The second sector to suffer the most was the high-value commercial crops sector, with P116 million in damage affecting 17,793 farmers.

For corn, the damage was P1.6 million with 391 affected farmers.

The distribution of cost of damage by crop is as follows:

CropCost of damageNo. of affected farmersHectares
RiceP513 million89,78677,165
High-value cropsP116 million17,79316,863
CornP1.6 million391415

Among regions, Region III or Central Luzon reported the greatest cost of damage to insured farms at P385.7 million in estimated loss, followed by Region I or the Ilocos Region.

Distribution of the cost of damage in insured farms is as follows:

RegionCost of damage
Region IIIP385.7 million
Region IP124.4 million
Region IV-AP81.1 million
Region IIP66.6 million
Region IV-BP37.8 million
Cordillera Administrative RegionP14.6 million

Expanding insurance coverage

Insurance for farmers in typhoon-beset Philippines is recognized by the government as a necessary form of climate adaptation.

Without insurance, smallholder farmers often have to start from scratch when their crops are destroyed by natural disasters. Most farmers in fact are buried deeper in debt, having had to borrow money to pay for seeds, fertilizers, and other inputs before the storm.

For this reason, Senator Cynthia Villar, chair of the Senate committee on agriculture, said she would draft a bill to expand the scope and coverage of crop insurance for Filipino farmers.

“Strengthening agricultural insurance as a risk-mitigating device will definitely complement other preventive measures,” she said in an October 22 press statement, days after Lando made landfall.

She lamented that the PCIC’s 2016 budget will only be covering 694,727 smallholder farmers and fisherfolk, out of the estimated 11 million agricultural workers in the country.

The proposed PCIC budget for 2016 amounts to P1.6 billion and will be used for insurance premiums to cover crop, livestock, fisheries or non-crop agricultural assets in times of natural calamity, pest outbreaks, or diseases.

But the PCIC said it has already increased the number of insured farmers to 917,814 as of end of 2014. This year, it hopes to increase this number to more than 1 million.

The PCIC is tasked to prioritize farmers and fisherfolk in disaster-prone areas and no-build zones identified by the geohazard maps of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.

All beneficiaries must be registered under the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture. – Rappler.com

17-year-old wants to become Antique’s 1st female pilot


PRIDE OF ANTIQUE. Maria Angelika Solas Pamiroyan (2nd from right) poses with Antique Governor Rhodora Cadiao (center) and Captain Irene Stanon (second from left), among others. Photo provided by authors

ANTIQUE, Philippines – Growing up, every person dreams of what he or she will become in the future. A person's choices change through time.

However, only a few people dream to be a pilot. For a child, this feat would seem impossible. Usually, a child would want to be a teacher, doctor, engineer, or even a seaman, but rarely a pilot.

Seventeen-year-old Maria Angelika Solas Pamiroyan was no different. As she was growing up, her career choices also changed endlessly. She wanted to be a doctor, then an architect. But never in her wildest dreams did she dream to be a pilot.

Now, she wants to become Antique’s first female pilot.

On August 27, Pamiroyan found herself on her first cross-country flight as part of her training to be a full-fledged airplane pilot.

Together with Captain Irene Stanton and company, she flew from Manila to Mindoro and landed at the Evelio B. Javier Airport around noon, where she was warmly received by Antique Governor Rhodora Cadiao and her fellow Antiqueños.

“This is another achievement for my hometown in order to be known worldwide,” an overwhelmed Pamiroyan said.

Dream born in high school

“Nikka,” as she is called by her family and friends, was born in Barangay Magcalon, San Jose de Buenavista, the capital town of Antique province, on January 1, 1998.

Her mother, Margie Solas, hails from the town of Santa Barbara, Iloilo, and her father Johnny Pamiroyan is a native of San Jose de Buenavista.

After finishing her elementary education at the Antique SPED Center, she spent two years of her high school education at the Antique National School (ANS).

Pamiroyan then transferred to Santa Barbara National Comprehensive High School (SBNCHS) where she belonged to the School of Performing Arts (SPA) majoring in visual arts.

She was in high school – third or fourth year – when she would often see and hear the airplanes flying to and from the Iloilo International Airport in Cabatuan, Iloilo.

It was there and then that Pamiroyan decided to be one of the few people aspiring to be a pilot, and fly above the clouds.

Her cousin, Jessa Pamiroyan Agustin, described Pamiroyan as "very talented, smart, humble, and friendly."

"She loves to travel and explore things, which also became one of the reasons why she wants to become a pilot. In the family, she is very sweet, loving, and funny,” Agustin said.

Pamiroyan first tried her luck taking the college admission tests of West Visayas State University (WVSU) for a tourism degree, and University of San Agustin (USA) for a degree in architecture.

Eventually, she pursued her dream to become a pilot by enrolling at the Manila Aero Club Flying Academy under Captain Irene Stanton.

“Don’t just say what you want to be. You should do it,” Pamiroyan said.

Agustin admits that at first, she was apprehensive of Pamiroyan’s decision although she has always been supportive of her.

“We all know that becoming a pilot is not easy; you have to take a lot of risks. However, as her cousin, and knowing Nikka's personality and what she is capable of, this convinced me to give my full support to her because it is not impossible that Nikka could make it,” Agustin said.

“And I was not wrong, she gave not only honor to the family, but also to the whole province of Antique that makes us more proud of her,” she added.

'Don't mix vices with studies'

According to Pamiroyan, she really felt it in herself that she wants to be a pilot. At first, her parents were against her decision. They were concerned that she will just end up as a “piloto sa lubi” or someone who gathers tuba or coconut wine, later on.

Determined as she is, Pamiroyan proved them wrong by excelling in her chosen field.

“Nikka showed determination, patience and perseverance to achieve what she wants in her life and prove that if you want something, you have to do it,” Agustin proudly shared.

For Pamiroyan, the most difficult part of becoming a pilot is “the transformation of oneself – starting by being always on time.”

As part of her training, her captain conditioned her to wake up as early as 4 am.

They also have to be at the airport an hour before it opens. All rules and regulations are strictly followed.

“I didn’t expect this to happen in my life,” Pamiroyan said.

Looking forward, after becoming a pilot, Pamiroyan plans to take up further studies to be a flying instructor.

“After graduating, I will apply for a job and use my salary to finance my BS degree,” she said.

“In the airline industry, you need to have a BS degree – you won’t be accepted without it,” Pamiroyan added.

She emphasizes the importance of choosing the right career especially for girls who do not have the confidence to aim for their dreams.

“They should follow what they feel, in taking their chosen career. They should always be patient and be humble,” she said.

Pamiroyan adds: “They should not mix vices with their studies. They will be breaking their parents’ hearts.” – Rappler.com

PH in action: climate change and disaster management policies


MANILA, Philippines – Living in a country that is prone to various natural hazards, are you aware of the climate and disaster management policies in the Philippines?

In the contemporary times, policies on responding to calamities started as early as 1970s. Typhoon Sening (international codename Joan) was reported to have a speed of up to 275 kph. For 36 years (1970-2006), it held the record of being the strongest typhoon in the Philippines.

Seeing the need to establish a contingency plan for these events, former President Marcos ordered the creation of a Disaster and Calamities Plan. This created the National Disaster Control Center.

In the same decade, the country was ravaged by Typhoon Titang (Kate) which has a record of 1,551 casualties in 1970 and Typhoon Openg (Vera) which affected nearly 3.5 million persons in 1973. (READ: Worst natural disasters in the Philippines)

Despite having the control center which was supposed to keep track of the aftermath of disasters, the National Disaster Control Center was abolished. Its function and personnel was transferred to the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) under the Letter of Implementation No. 19 in 1972.

Currently, the Philippines has two policies in place on disaster management and climate change adaptation, the Climate Change Act of 2009 and the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010.

A few days ago, the People’s Survival Fund was finally made accessible. It is supposed to finance long-term streams to address climate change. Call for project proposals was officially made by the Climate Change Commission last October 28.

Our current policies are around 30 years in the making. To know more, read the list below:

Disaster Management Policies

Presidential Decree No. 1566

In 1978, former President Marcos mandated Presidential Decree No. 1566 to strengthen Philippine disaster control.

It created the National Disaster Coordinating Council, the focal organization for disaster management in the country at that time. It was headed by the Secretary of National Defense.

To decentralize functions, PD No. 1566 also created regional, provincial and local disaster coordinating councils.

In terms of funding, the local council were to get their funds from their 2% unappropriate reserves. This came from the LGUs' estimated revenue from regular sources for unforeseen expenditures.

From this, all local government units (LGUs) were to program funds to be used for disaster preparedness including organization of the local disaster councils - infrastructure, equipment and training of teams.

Republic Act No. 8185

In 1991, Republic Act No. 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991 was enacted.

The LGC enabled the LGUs to access 5% of the estimated revenue from regular sources for unforeseen expenditures such as the occurrence of calamities. However, access is only possible if the President declares the area in a state of calamity.

To better utilize the funds, an act amending the concerned section, 324 (d), of the LGC was put into law in 1996.

Republic Act No. 8185 identified areas of expenditure such as relief, rehabilitation, reconstruction and other services with regards to calamities.

Rather than centralizing the decision-making process to the President, it gave the power to the local development council to monitor the use and disbursement of the local calamity fund.

NDCC Four Point Action Plan

With the current law seen to only focus on response, the government created the National Four Point Action Plan in 2005 to spearhead prevention and mitigation.

In its plan, it continued: 1) improving forecasting capability of concerned agencies, 2) engaging the local disaster councils, 3) holding annual disaster consciousness month in July and, 4) formalizing stakeholder partnerships through memoranda of agreement.

Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act

As the paradigm shifts from response to mitigation, Republic Act No. 10121, otherwise known as the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act, was enacted in 2010. (READ: RA 10121: The PH’s disaster management law is up for review)

RA No. 10121, is an act mandated to strengthen disaster management in the Philippines. It repealed PD No. 1566 and replaced the NDCC with the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) as the focal body.

NDRRMC, now headed by the OCD as its implementing agency, coordinates with the regional, provincial and local DRRM councils.

As its focus is on prevention and mitigation, the local DRRM fund was established. LGUs are to set aside 5% of their estimated revenue from regular sources for their disaster councils. (Read: How do you use your local disaster funds?)

Of the local DRRM fund, 70% of which shall be used for pre-disaster measures. The rest shall be allocated as Quick Response Fund which serves as a stand-by fund for relief and recovery programs.

As the law turns 5 this year, the congressional oversight committee is conducting a sunset review of RA No. 10121.


Climate Change Adaptation Policies

Philippine Agenda 21

Committed to the United Nations Conference of Environment and Development (UNCED), the Philippines developed Philippine Agenda 21, an adaptation of the outcome of the 1992 conference.

The agenda has 5 goals: poverty reduction, social equity, empowerment and good governance, peace and solidarity, and ecological integrity.

The Philippine Council for Sustainable Development was formed to coordinate and monitor the fulfillment of the commitments of the Philippines to the UNCED.

It laid down strategies to integrate sustainable development and identifies invention areas with corresponding platforms and plans.

Philippine Clean Air Act of 1997

In accordance with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and other international agreements, Republic Act No. 8749, also known as the Philippine Clean Air Act, was put into legislation in 1999.

The law aimed to monitor and set standards for greenhouse gas emissions known to increase global temperatures.

To effectively carry out the law, RA No. 8749 tasked the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to be the lead agency of the governing board.

The air quality management fund was created, to be sourced from the fines imposed and damages, as well as proceeds of licenses issued by the DENR under this act.

Violators of the standards are to be penalized as much as P100,000 per day for operators of facilities and as much as P6,000 and suspension of registration for motor vehicles.

Executive Order No. 320, s. 2004

In 2004, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordered Executive Order No. 320 to designate DENR as the National Authority for Clean Development Mechanisms.

It is an adaptation of the UNFCCC’s Clean Development Mechanism whereby projects implemented under are to prevent or absorb emitted GHGs.

Presidential Task Force on Climate Change

As concern for the effects of climate change heightens, Arroyo formed the Philippine Task Force on Climate Change (PTFCC) to mitigate its impact and adapt to its effects under Administrative Order No. 171.

It aimed to conduct a rapid assessment on the impacts of climate change in the Philippines and make sure that establishments comply to air emission standards.

The PTFCC is composed of the DENR, Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Interior and Local Government. (DILG)

Climate Change Act of 2009

Seeing the need for legislation, Republic Act No. 9729 was enacted in 2009. It is also known as Climate Change Act of 2009. (READ: Philippine laws and decrees on Climate Change)

The law aims to mainstream climate change adaptation into government policy and establish a framework strategy. RA No. 9729 created the Climate Change Commission.

Government agencies and LGUs are to allocate from their annual appropriations enough funds for formulation, development and implementation of projects under this Act.

People’s Survival Fund (2012)

Amending the Climate Change Act, Republic Act No. 10174 established the People’s Survival Fund in 2012 to provide long-term financing to projects to address the problem of climate change.

Its P1-billion appropriation will be coming from the General Appropriations Act (GAA) and is suppletory to any annual appropriations allocated by LGUs for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.

The law also created the People’s Survival Fund Board to deliberate projects and groups applying for funding assistance.

The board consists of the finance secretary, Vice Chairpersons of the CCC, budget secretary, director-general of National Economic and Development Authority, interior secretary, Philippine Commission on Women chairperson and representatives from the academe, scientific community, business and nongovernmental organizations.

Recognizing the close interrelation of DRR and CCA activities, RA No. 10174 mandated the integration of disaster risk reduction activities into climate change programs and initiatives.

Executive Order No. 174, s. 2014

In 2014, President Benigno Aquino III gave Executive Order No. 174 to institutionalize the Philippine Greenhouse Gas inventory management and reporting system.

This was created to enable the country’s transition towards a climate-resilient road to sustainable development.

This task was given to the CCC, with the Department of Agriculture and the Philippine Statistics Authority for the agricultural sector, Department of Energy, DENR, and the Department of Transport and Communications.— Rappler.com

Sources: Climate Change Commission, Official Gazette of the Philippines

ARMM gov to 'Eat Bulaga': Apologize for hosts' Muslim Halloween garb


ARAB GARB. Eat Bulaga host Sen Tito Sotto wears a thobe, an Arab garment for men, for the show's Halloween Special on October 31. Screen grab from Eat Bulaga's Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines – During the Halloween special of the popular noontime show Eat Bulaga on Saturday, October 31, hosts Senator Tito Sotto and Joey de Leon appeared in Muslim clothing.

This offended the local government of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and drew flak from some Facebook users. 

"This display betrays an insensitivity by these hosts, as they equated the Muslim garb as a costume to be feared, in the way that zombies and ghouls are to be feared," said ARMM governor Mujiv Hataman in a statement.

"What Eat Bulaga did in its Halloween Special was a mockery of and an affront to the image of the Muslim, apparently in the name of entertainment....On behalf of the Filipino Moro people, we demand that producers and hosts of the noontime show issue a public apology," Hataman added.

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Facebook users also criticized Sen Sotto for wearing an Arab costume in the show.

"This is not a Holloween costume. In fact this is a proper (attire) of the Arab people," Hassan Al-Basri Dalanda stressed in another Facebook comment.

"Bakit sa Halloween mo yan sinuot Tito Sen? Ano akala mo sa aming Muslim, multo? (Why did you wear that on Halloween, Tito Sen (Sen Sotto)? What do you think of us, ghosts?)" Racy-carr Salahuddin Aquino said in a comment.

Other hosts of the show were dressed up as witches and other characters in horror and fantasy flicks.

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{source}<div id="fb-root"></div><script>(function(d, s, id) {  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;  js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id;  js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_GB/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.3";  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script><div class="fb-post" data-href="https://www.facebook.com/EBdabarkads/posts/1057662720947926:0" data-width="500"><div class="fb-xfbml-parse-ignore"><blockquote cite="https://www.facebook.com/EBdabarkads/photos/a.120703084643899.14725.115894125124795/1057662720947926/?type=3"><p>Ryzza as Annabelle....#HalloweenPaMore</p>Posted by <a href="https://www.facebook.com/EBdabarkads/">Eat Bulaga</a> on&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/EBdabarkads/photos/a.120703084643899.14725.115894125124795/1057662720947926/?type=3">Friday, 30 October 2015</a></blockquote></div></div>{/source}

{source}<div id="fb-root"></div><script>(function(d, s, id) {  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;  js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id;  js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_GB/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.3";  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script><div class="fb-post" data-href="https://www.facebook.com/EBdabarkads/photos/a.120703084643899.14725.115894125124795/1057642764283255/?type=3" data-width="500"><div class="fb-xfbml-parse-ignore"><blockquote cite="https://www.facebook.com/EBdabarkads/photos/a.120703084643899.14725.115894125124795/1057642764283255/?type=3"><p>Incredible Hulk.......GRRRRR.....#HalloweenPaMore</p>Posted by <a href="https://www.facebook.com/EBdabarkads/">Eat Bulaga</a> on&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/EBdabarkads/photos/a.120703084643899.14725.115894125124795/1057642764283255/?type=3">Friday, 30 October 2015</a></blockquote></div></div>{/source}

{source}<div id="fb-root"></div><script>(function(d, s, id) {  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;  js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id;  js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_GB/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.3";  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script><div class="fb-post" data-href="https://www.facebook.com/EBdabarkads/photos/a.1057592464288285.1073742390.115894125124795/1057593020954896/?type=3" data-width="500"><div class="fb-xfbml-parse-ignore"><blockquote cite="https://www.facebook.com/EBdabarkads/photos/a.1057592464288285.1073742390.115894125124795/1057593020954896/?type=3">Posted by <a href="https://www.facebook.com/EBdabarkads/">Eat Bulaga</a> on&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/EBdabarkads/photos/a.1057592464288285.1073742390.115894125124795/1057593020954896/?type=3">Friday, 30 October 2015</a></blockquote></div></div>{/source}

{source}<div id="fb-root"></div><script>(function(d, s, id) {  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;  js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id;  js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_GB/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.3";  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script><div class="fb-post" data-href="https://www.facebook.com/EBdabarkads/posts/1057643970949801:0" data-width="500"><div class="fb-xfbml-parse-ignore"><blockquote cite="https://www.facebook.com/EBdabarkads/photos/a.120703084643899.14725.115894125124795/1057643970949801/?type=3"><p>Say Hi to Freddy Krueger!(Wow Fantastic si Bibi) #HalloweenPaMore</p>Posted by <a href="https://www.facebook.com/EBdabarkads/">Eat Bulaga</a> on&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/EBdabarkads/photos/a.120703084643899.14725.115894125124795/1057643970949801/?type=3">Friday, 30 October 2015</a></blockquote></div></div>{/source}

Halloween is a yearly festive occasion with pagan origins that several countries observe on the eve of All Saints’ Day, a Christian holiday. (INFOGRAPHIC: Halloween around the world)

'Apologize to Muslims'

Hataman demanded an apology from the producers and hosts of the longest running noon-time variety show in the Philippines.

"We remind the hosts and the producers of the show of how Muslims are quite often discriminated against in our society, often stereotyped as troublemakers and terrorists," said Hataman.

Hataman also reminded the hosts that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) was recently criticized by the Muslim community and other netizens over a controversial suspect sketch. (READ: #ENDdiscriminationNOW: Outrage over NBI's 'Muslim type' profile)

"It was not too long ago that we raised our voices in indignation over the stereotypical presentation of the National Bureau of Investigation of a Zamboanga bombing suspect as being a 'Muslim-type,'" Hataman said.

The NBI's description sparked an online campaign initiated by members of the Muslim community on Facebook, calling for end to discrimination against Muslims.  Rappler.com

'Marcos apologists, don't tell us to move on'


"Past is past."

"Move on din pag may time."

We see these often on social media lately, usually with the Marcos’ loyalists endless narrative of utopia during Martial Law when no criminals roamed the street, goods were cheap and education was free – a complete contrast of what scholars, history books and thousands of witnesses have been passing down for decades.

It’s all lies, they tell us.

It’s all propaganda, they claim.

Yet many activists who opposed the dictator remain missing to this day. Is that also a lie? Decades have passed and we remain shackled by billion-peso worth of debts. Are these figures lies? In 2012, when the Congress implemented a law that seeks to help the victims of Martial Law, 75,000 people have come forward. Are they all black propagandists? (READ: '#AnimatED: Millennial, paano ka apektado ng martial law?')

I am not even surprised that a majority of the loyalists come from the north, the Marcoses’ stronghold. Ilocos they say, owes its success to the Marcoses, and the dictator’s son who is now running for the vice presidency, ought to do the same for the whole country.

Bongbong is the country’s hope, they say.

The Marcos family do not owe anyone an apology, a presidential aspirant says.

I will not argue against what the Marcoses have done for Ilocos. Most of the progress they claim are true. But to use this as an argument on why the sins of the Marcoses in the past should be forgotten is invalid, and even insensitive. (READ: 'Why Bongbong Marcos is good for Miriam Santiago' )

You cannot erase history, the same way you cannot bring back the dead.

Move on? We’re not talking about some childhood misunderstanding. This is not one of those shallow narratives of heartbreak you see on your teleseryes. You are asking people to move over decades-old feelings of anger, grief and pain. 


Try explaining to those who suffered torture and abuse why the Marcoses do not owe them any apology. Try saying to the face of the families of those killed during the martial law that they should just forget about what happened for the sake of progress. Try explaining to wives who lost their husbands, parents who lost their children and children who lost their parents why they should just 'move on' when justice was never served and the culprits are still living in luxury and with so much power. (READ: '3 generations of Marcoses run for local posts in Ilocos Norte')

Move on? We’re not talking about some childhood misunderstanding. This is not one of those shallow narratives of heartbreak you see on your teleseryes. You are asking people to move over decades-old feelings of anger, grief and pain. You are telling families to move over a dark past that haunts them until this day. You trivialize their sufferings and make light of the atrocities they've seen. (READ: 'Marcos victims to file suit vs Bongbong, Imelda')  

The progress of the north that you claim to have now because of the Marcoses will not take back the pain that thousands of families have been through in the past. Those photos of high-tech wind mills and top-of-the-line infrastructures will not appease the grudge of the thousands who suffered in the hands of the dictator and his family. (READ: '#NeverAgain: Martial Law stories young people need to hear')

"Will I say sorry for the thousands and thousands of kilometers [of roads] that were built? Will I say sorry for the agricultural policy that brought us to self-sufficiency in rice? Will I say sorry for the power generation? Will I say sorry for the highest literacy rate in Asia? What am I to say sorry about?”

Answered the revered son to questions on whether he will apologize for corruption and human rights abuses during his father's regime.

“Nobody wants that to happen. These are instances that have fallen through the cracks,” he says referring to those who were ‘run over, not helped and victimized in some way or another.'

These are the words of an arrogant man who would stand by idly on the sight of impunity, and even see greatness in it. These are the words of a man who would gladly sacrifice lives for the sake of progress, and a room full of shoe. (READ: 'Bongbong Marcos knows what to apologize for' )

Let his words above sink in and see how you’re asking people to forgive a man who would not even apologize and calls the death and torture of thousands as ‘instances that have fallen through the cracks.’ And you expect us to believe you when you say ‘past is past’?

It’s not an issue of the son inheriting the sins of the father.

It’s about not letting someone who favors impunity be in power, or in this case, get even more power.

It’s about taking a stand. It’s about justice.

So to Marcos loyalists I plead, go and worship your idol, but don’t go telling us to ‘move on’. - Rappler.com

Don Kevin Hapal is a graduate of Aquinas University of Legazpi and is a social media producer at Rappler. The views expressed here are his own.

This piece was first published on X, a platform for you to speak your mind. Share your story on Rappler's X today.

PODCAST: HIV epidemic in the PH


MANILA, Philippines – In this week’s episode of Sex and Sensibilities, Rappler columnist and podcaster Ana P. Santos chats with Zimmbodilion “Peter” Mosende, Strategic Information Adviser at the UNAIDS Country Office about the concentrated HIV epidemic in the Philippines.

In just 5 years, the Philippines has reported over 20,000 new HIV infections.

That number is more than the total number of HIV cases reported in the Philippines from 1984 (when the first case of HIV was discovered in the country) to the early 2000s.

The World Health Organization (WHO) describes the Philippines as having the fastest growing HIV epidemic in the world.

“The (rate of infection) last five years have eclipsed the first 25 years of the epidemic in the Philippines,” said Mosende.

The Philippines remains a low incidence country—HIV among the general population is less than 1% – but health officials like Mosende say that the country has a “concentrated epidemic” that needs close monitoring and urgent intervention.

There is a high rate of HIV infection among certain groups like gay men and men who have sex with men, freelance sex workers, and in certain areas of Cebu, among people who inject drugs (PWID).

“In 2013, HIV prevalence among injecting drug users was more than 50%,” said Mosende.

Prevention is crucial now for the Philippines for the simple reason that treatment is more expensive than prevention.

“It costs about P30,000 a year to maintain a person infected with HIV (medication and treatment), whereas prevention costs less than Php5,000,” said Mosende.

Tune into the podcast to know how local government, NGOs and concerned groups are developing innovative prevention efforts to stop the spread of HIV and what you can do to help. – Rappler.com

SWS: More Filipino families suffer from hunger in Q3 2015


HUNGER. A Filipino couple try to feed their children as they share a bowl of rice at a roadside in an urban poor district of Quezon City, east of Manila. File photo by Rolex dela Pena/EPA

MANILA, Philippines – More than 3 million families are estimated to have suffered from involuntary hunger during the 3rd quarter of 2015, a recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey reported.

The survey results, first published on BusinessWorld on Monday, November 2, stated that 15.7% of total respondents have experienced involuntary hunger during the months of July until September.

The latest hunger rating is considered the highest mark for 2015 and is 3 points higher than the 2nd quarter’s 12.7% or 2.8 million families. (READ: Hunger lowest in 10 years – SWS)

Moderate hunger or not having something to eat “only once” or “a few times” in the last 3 months, affected an estimated 3.1 million families or 14.1% of respondents. It is 3.3 points higher than June survey’s 10.8% or 2.4 million families.

Meanwhile, severe hunger – going hungry “often” or “always – registered its lowest rate since September 2003 with only 1.6% or estimated 361,000 families within the same period.

Highest in Mindanao

The SWS survey found out that hunger was more prevalent in Mindanao with 21.7% or 1.1 million families from June survey’s 14.3%. With an increase of 7.4 points, the 3rd quarter of 2015 results in the region is the highest since 2013.

Meanwhile, in Metro Manila, the prevalence of hunger remained constant at 18.3% or 553,000 families.

In Balance Luzon (areas of Luzon excuding Metro Manila), hunger increased to 14.7% or 1.4 million families from June’s 10.7% or 1.1 million families.

Visayas, on the other hand, saw a decrease in hunger to 9.3% or 399,000 families – 2.4 points from June’s 11.7% or the lowest since 2004.

The survey was conducted in September 2-5 among 1,200 adults nationwide with sampling error margins of ±3 points for national and ±6 points for Metro Manila, Balance Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

Hunger a problem to fix

In addition to the SWS survey, the 2015 Global Hunger Index of the International Food Policy Research Institute identified the hunger situation in the Philippines as “serious.” This has been the same in the past years. (READ: 2015 global index: PH hunger, malnutrition problem 'serious')

Beyond hunger, Filipinos – especially children – continue to suffer from malnutrition which can lead to irreversible diseases that may hinder mental and physical growth.

With the upcoming 2016 elections, several advocates hope that hunger and malnutrition will be among the main issues discussed by aspirants. The future leader of the Philippines should help make zero hunger a priority. (READ: #TheLeaderIWant: Commited to zero hunger and good governance) – Rappler.com

CHR condemns violations against Lumad communities


STOP. Lumad protest killings at the Manilakbayan ng Mindanao 2015.

MANILA, Philippines - In a statement released on Monday, November 2, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) urgently called for the cessation of violations against the Lumad community.

The statement defends the indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination, condemning “in the strongest possible terms the violence and gruesome killings of members of the Lumad community.” (READ: Listening needed to #StopLumadKillings)

The statement noted how both sides of the conflict in Mindanao - including the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) - continue to recruit the Lumad as part of their forces. It also stressed how both sides are also perpetrators of numerous crimes against these communities. (READ: Lumad kids tell senator: Military makes Manobos kill each otherIs the military innocent in Lumad killings?)

“From 2001 and September 2015, at least 35 cases of extrajudicial killings involving 59 members of the indigenous peoples’ community in Mindanao have been reported to the Commission for investigation. Of these, 10 cases were allegedly perpetrated by the AFP, while 8 cases were attributed to the NPA," CHR said.

JUSTICE. Lumad, students, church and rights group staged a protest outside the HOR during the deliberation of DND's budget for 2016. Sheina Campos, 12, Eufemia Cullamat and other witnesses during the September 1 killings in Lianga, Surigao del Sur of tribal leaders. Photo by Vincent Go/Rappler

CHR also criticizes the persistent "encroachment" by mining companies of the ancestral domains of the Lumad in Mindanao. Such territory is known to hold rich deposits in gold, copper and nickel. The statement mentions the companies’ “lack of genuine compliance with the exercise of Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), as stipulated by the Indigenous Peoples Republic Act.” (READ: Leave the Lumad alone!)

As part of their request for the government to uphold the rights of the Lumad community, CHR called for “the speedy issuance of Certificates of Ancestral Domain Titles (CADTs)” along with “genuine implementation of the Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plan (ADSDPP).”

Such request were recognized as “concrete steps in recognizing the legitimate struggles and aspirations of the Lumads for development and social justice.” (WATCH: Rappler Talk: Addressing Lumad killings and internally displaced people)

'Problematic approach'

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) secretary-general Renato Reyes said, however, that the CHR's statement "mitigates the ultimate responsibility of the AFP and the Aquino regime in the systematic violations of the righst of the Lumad."

The leftist group blamed the government's counter insurgency program, Oplan Bayanihan, in targeting Lumad communities. 

"(The CHR's statement) portrays the Lumad as merely being caught between the two sides of the armed conflict, when in fact the Lumad have themselves become the targets of the AFP's counter-insurgency drive," Reyes said.

He added: "That the Lumad join the NPA is not by itself the problem. It is merely the result of the continuing plunder and abuses committed against the Lumad."

CHR's report comes in the wake of a week-long, youth-led “Solidarity Campout” that hosted more than 700 Lumad in Manila. The campout called for increased recognition and protection of the Lumads’ human rights. - Rappler.com

Lorenzo Benitez is a Rappler intern. He is an incoming Cornell University student.

Bullied gay couple gets married


A photo posted by Naparuj Kaendi-Mid (@bemondce) on Oct 30, 2015 at 8:51am PDT 

MANILA, Philippines – Remember the gay couple who was bullied online? They just recently tied the knot. 

Naparuj Mond Kaendi, a Thai creative director and booking agent at Bacca Model Management, and Thorsten Mid, got married in Germany on Friday, October 31.

Based on Kaendi’s social media posts, they have been together for around 3 years.

The couple got into the online spotlight after one of their photos where they were spotted holding hands on a train went viral in April 2015.

The photo, re-posted on the BV Patrol Facebook page, was not met with full support from netizens who nitpicked the couple's gender preference and Kaendi's physical appearance.

Offensive comments flooded the post: “Ano ba kayo, pet `yan” (What are you saying? That’s a pet), “Bakit siya pa? `Di na lang ako?” (Why did he choose him? Why couldn’t it be me), and "Baka dadalhin sa prisinto si bakla!" (Maybe he will bring the gay man to the precinct!)

As fast as the negative comments came, many netizens were also quick to defend and praise the couple.

"Dinadaan lang ang mga to sa biro pero (They're passing it off as a joke but), that's precisely what bullying is. Do you really believe these two aren't capable of having true love?" CK Espanol said online.

Recent posts of Kaendi of their wedding also mostly received positive comments from netizens – many of them hailing the couple's relationship as an inspiration. - Rappler.com

Barong-barong: State of poor man's housing


BARONG-BARONG. Majority of poor families among the country's poorest provinces live in shanties made of light materials, a 2015 World Food Programme survey reveals. File photo by Fritzie Rodriguez/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Home sweet home.

But what if one’s home lacks a family's basic needs? Among the poorest provinces in the Philippines, the poor live in barong-barong (shanty) types – poorly constructed and temporary one-room shelters.

In a August 16 to September 5, 2015 survey sponsored by the World Food Programme (WFP), it was revealed that most poor households, if not shanties, are made of light and cheap materials. 

The WFP found that 44% of households among the poorest provinces in the country were barong-barong types, while 47% were poorly constructed semi-permanent or temporary houses. The rest were made of mixed light and heavy materials.

Of the 16 poorest provinces, only the surveyed poor families in Masbate, Camiguin, and Sultan Kudarat reported permanent houses made of good quality materials. Meanwhile, Sarangani had the highest percentage of barong-barong types of housing.

Poorest provinces with barong-barong as majority housing
Sultan Kudarat64%
Maguindanao 59%
Zamboanga del Norte57%
Western Samar50%
Lanao del Sur48%
Northern Cotabato 40%
Poorest provinces with majority of houses made of 'cheap and light' materials
Negros Oriental69%
Lanao del Norte59%
Northern Samar57%
Eastern Samar57%
Masbate 50%
Lanao del Sur48%

Most of the surveyed houses were unpainted, dilapidated, or in need of repair. Many of them are located in slum districts or rural areas.

Homes with no access

WATER. Only 24% of poor households among the country's poorest provinces have access to running water, a 2015 World Food Programme survey shows. File photo by Fritzie Rodriguez/Rappler

In 2015, one might think that all Filipinos would already have access to safe drinking water and functioning toilets. The truth, however, proves to be grim.

Overall, 69% of the surveyed households in the country's poorest provinces own a toilet, while 24% share. The remaining 7% have no toilet facilities at all.

Majority of these toilets have no flush, they are de buhos (in need of manual flushing).

Not everyone has access to running water either. Among all the provinces, Bukidnon and Camiguin showed the highest percentage of households with access to running water; while Masbate, Northern Samar, and Sultan Kudarat reflected the poorest results.

Most households get their drinking water from pump wells, with 70% doing nothing to make their water safe.

For cooking, majority of homes still use wood for fuel, with only a few families using stoves. Not only does this mean more labor, but it may also be bad for the environment and one's health. 

As for garbage disposal, majority burn their trash, while only 2% recycle. Apayao does the most recycling at 12%.

Food in the mouth

FOOD INSECURITY. The World Food Programme observes that inadequate family income is the main reason cited by families for food insecurity. File photo by Fritzie Rodriguez/Rappler

On average, these households earn a monthly income of P4,000, which needs to fit a family of around 5. Average food spending is P120/day or P3,600/month, leaving very little to spend for other needs.

Most household heads either had elementary education or no formal schooling. Majority work as farmers and yet more than half do not own land – a typical narrative in the Philippines.

Since 2006, fisherfolk and farmers have remained the poorest basic sectors, according to the National Statistical Coordination Board. To add more irony, the 3rd poorest sector are children.

One-tenth of households experienced skipping meals, the WFP survey revealed, with breakfast being non-existent for several families. In fact, only 6% claim to have a balanced diet every day – something most Filipinos might take for granted.

The survey showed that 5% of families reported "not having any meals for a number of days in a month." The WFP concluded that inadequate family income is the main reason cited for food insecurity.

With the Philippines being hailed as Asia's rising tiger, it might be forgotten that some of its cubs are growing hungrier by the day. – Rappler.com

What causes food insecurity in the PH's poorest provinces?


GOING HUNGRY. Families in the poorest provinces cite low income as one of the main reasons behind food insecurity.

MANILA, Philippines – Hunger is often referred to as very complex with no single cause. But for most families in the poorest provinces in the Philippines, the problem can be traced back to livelihood.  

According to a 2015 survey sponsored by the World Food Programme (WFP), the top reasons cited for food insecurity in the country’s poorest areas include inadequate income and lack of a regular job, among others.

The poorest provinces, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority, include Apayao, Masbate, Negros Oriental, Eastern Samar, Northern Samar, Western Samar, Zamboange del Norte, Bukidnon, Camiguin, Lanao del Norte, North Cotabato, Saranggani, Sultan Kudarat, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, and Sulu.

The results showed that 37% of all households surveyed from August 16 to September 5 went hungry in the past 12 months because they did not have enough income to buy food. Meanwhile, 18% went hungry because they did not have a regular job to start with.

Sulu (58%), North Cotabato (50%), and Bukidnon (47%) registered the highest prevalence of households that went hungry due to lack of income.

The other reasons cited for food insecurity included the effects of natural calamities and disasters, possibly related to climate change, given that 90% of households said that rice and corn are part of their family diet.

Our family has inadequate income
Our household head has no regular job
There was drought in our area
Our household head has no job
There were strong rains in our area10%

About 7% of respondents said that in each month, they had experienced not eating anything in one day. Meanwhile, 5% said they had gone to bed for a number of days on an empty stomach.

Sultan Kudarat led both instances as 22% of respondents experienced hunger a day almost every month, while 16% went hungry for several days each month in the past year.

Meanwhile, 54% of family respondents in Sarangani said they went hungry once a day in some months, while 54% of families in Zamboanga experienced having nothing to eat for several days in some months.

Food budget

Experiencing food insecurity can lead to malnutrition. This is the reality in the Philippines where, according to the 2015 Regional Overview of Food Insecurity in Asia and the Pacific, approximately 17.5 million Filipinos are still undernourished. (READ: State of PH nutrition: The last 5 years)

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations defines food insecurity as a situation when people “lack secure access to sufficient amounts of safe and nutritious food for normal growth and development and an active and healthy life.”

The prevailing yet very solvable problem can be addressed by providing means for families to access adequate amounts of food.

Many studies say there is actually no shortage of food in the country, but that food prices are just too high for most Filipinos. (READ: How can the government lower food prices in the Philippines? )

To eat the right amount and type of food based on criteria set by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute’s Pinggang Pinoy, a family of 5 needs to spend an estimated P439 ($9)* a day or P13,170 ($281) a month. (READ: Is the minimum wage enough for a day’s worth of nutritious meals?)

However, the WFP survey found that a family with an average of 5 members – who can go on for two days without food – spends P120 ($2.5) a day, or P3,600 ($76) a month to buy food.

With the respondents’ average income of P4,000 ($85), they are left with only P400 for other basic necessities – an amount that is obviously not enough.

NOUGH? Minimum wage earners are facing financial problems as prices of food commodity increase. Graphic by Alejandro Edoria

With insufficient income for food, only 6% of respondents claimed to be having a balanced diet each day.

The insufficient income may be attributed to the bigger job situation. According to the survey results, 43% of the respondents said that the head of the household works as a farmer or is engaged in farming.

The agricultural sector, despite being identified as the biggest food producer, is considered the poorest in the Philippines.

Borrowing to eat

Just to get by without going to sleep on an empty stomach, most of the respondents cope by borrowing.

According to the survey results, 39% of households surveyed buy from retail stores – or sari-sari stores – on a loan basis, while 26% borrow money from relatives just to buy something to eat. Some families, 18% of respondents, address hunger by borrowing food from neighbors.

When they take out a loan, however, it is understood it has to be paid back. This will definitely decrease the monthly income supposed to be spent on food and other necessities.

Other coping mechanisms of households include directly asking money and food from neighbors and relatives, diluting soup or porridge they eat, and reducing food portions.

The WFP survey found that both parents sacrifice to let others get the most out of meager meals. When times are hard, 48% said that the father’s meal is reduced, while 42% said it is the mother who sacrifices.

The food insecurity problem, however, is not only limited to the provinces surveyed as it is evident throughout the country. (READ: Barong-barong: State of poor man’s housing)

The International Food Policy Research’s 2015 Global Hunger Index described the hunger situation in the Philippines as “serious” and ranked it 51st among 117 countries measured.

With several studies exploring and explaining the problem of food and nutrition insecurity in the country, Filipinos are hoping these issues will take center stage, or at the very least, merit some attention during the 2016 elections. – Rappler.com

*$1 = P46

Make hunger and nutrition an election issue


POOR NUTRITION. The National Nutrition Council advises the public to look out for candidates who include hunger and nutrition in their agenda. File photo by Fritzie Rodriguez/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines –  Nutrition and hunger should be an election issue come 2016, the National Nutrition Council (NNC) said on Tuesday, November 3.

“It’s quite slow. Hunger is a big problem, but the government’s efforts are there,” Malou Enteria of the NNC commented on the country’s Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of fighting hunger.

“All sectors must help each other,” Enteria told Rappler on the sidelines of NNC’s conference for district and city nutrition program coordinators. Local governments; education, health, and budget sectors; among other government agencies should act together, Enteria said.

Countries all over the world are expected to halve the number of its citizens experiencing hunger as the MDGs expire this year. The Philippines, however, is behind its targets, the National Statistical Coordination Board reported. 

Prevalence of underweight children under 5 years old

(Source: NSCB)

19922015 target2013

Percent of household with per capita energy less than 100% adequacy 

19932015 target 2013

But it does not mean the Philippines lacks in effort; it has fared well with lowering the proportion of those below the national food threshold, with a 10.4% rating in 2012, quite close to its 2015 target of 8.8%. 

From 2015 to 2030, the world will once again attempt to address major problems through the Sustainable Development Goals, which also include hunger and nutrition among its priorities.

This time, the Philippines could perform better, advocates hope. But only if the country's leaders allot adequate attention, action, and funding.

Support women, babies

For this year’s conference, the NNC chose the theme, “Conquer malnutrition! Start with the first 1,000 days” to stress the importance of good nutrition as early as pregnancy.

The first two years of a child’s life is a “window of opportunity to improve the health of Filipino children,” said NNC executive director and health assistant secretary Bernedita Flores. Poor nutrition during this period can result in stunting or being too short for one’s age, affecting not only physical, but also mental and behavioral development.

All these may have lasting impacts until adulthood. (READ: Learning on an empty stomach)

In fact, the Philippines is the 9th country in the world with the most number of stunted children, Unicef documented. The prevalence of malnourished children has also remained virtually unchanged in the past 5 years, the latest survey from the Food and Nutrition Research Institute revealed.

Prevalence of underweight children aged 0-5
Prevalence of stunted children aged 0-5

To address such issues, Flores urged local governments to implement their own nutrition programs in line with the national nutrition agenda. She also criticized local governments that do not update their action plans.

“Every month should be like nutrition month,” Flores said, adding that nutrition interventions should be funded. If funding is insufficient, the NNC suggested making the most out of what is available.

Instead of merely focusing on school feeding programs, Flores suggested addressing the root of the problem – unhealthy babies and mothers. “Who among your local governments have interventions feeding pregnant women?” she asked. (READ: Hungry and pregnant in the PH)

She advised local governments to provide micronutrient supplementation not only to pregnant women, but also to adolescent girls and teenage moms.

To protect both mother and baby, Flores urged local governments to support the Milk Code, a law promoting breastfeeding. In the Milk Code, donation of formula milk in times of disasters is banned. Why? Because clean water might be problematic in evacuation centers, and exclusive breastfeeding is also recommended for babies up to 6 months.

Flores likewise pushed for employers to establish lactation stations for working mothers. The NNC hopes that this, too, can be done in public areas such as markets, public transport stops, and for those in the informal sector without any offices.

The Senate recently approved extending paid maternity leave from 60 to 100 days. The NNC lauded this move and hopes that it will be implemented once consolidated by both Congress and Senate.

Steps forward

CHILDREN. Prevalence of child malnutrition in the Philippines has remained virtually unchanged in the past 5 years. File photo by Fritzie Rodriguez/Rappler

Laws are a powerful thing, advocates say, but only if they are properly implemented.

To move forward, Luz Tagunicar of the Department of Health's Disease Prevention and Control Bureau suggested the following legislations, either national, local, or within schools:

  • Restricting marketing of unhealthy food to children, especially in schools
  • Taxation of sugar sweetened beverages and soft drinks
  • Subsidies for fruits and vegetables
  • Tobacco ban in schools, workplaces, and communities; cigarette packaging to contain graphic warnings
  • Healtier food options in workplaces
  • Mandatory nutrition labelling and appropriate food price reductions
  • Encouraging regular exercise by having more physical education in schools; providing gym facilities, stand desks, and exercise routines at workplaces; and building more community parks, sidewalks, and bike lanes

These days, according to Tagunicar, education and awareness are not enough. There needs to be concrete interventions to create better environments and behaviors among consumers. – Rappler.com

Does your candidate of choice support the fight against hunger and poor nutrition? Let us know what your local government is doing. Join the #HungerProject!


Climate change may lead to more malnutrition – UN


RIGHT TO FOOD. Climate change threatens food security and people's right to food, according to the United Nations. File photo by Fritzie Rodriguez/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Is climate change linked to malnutrition?

Climate change severely threatens food security, which could then subject an additional 600 million people to malnutrition by 2080, a United Nations human rights expert said on Wednesday, November 4.

The warning comes a month before countries all over the world come together for the climate talks in Paris. In December, world leaders and advocates are expected to agree on a new climate agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather, rising temperatures and sea levels, floods and droughts greatly impact people’s right to food, according to Hilal Elver, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food.

Everyone has the right to food, as recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This means individuals must be able to “feed themselves in dignity, either by producing their food or by purchasing it.”

“All these climate incidents will negatively impact on crops, livestock, fisheries, aquaculture and on people’s livelihoods,” Elver said in a press statement. She added that large-scale production is not the right solution to the world’s food demands.

Malnutrition is a global problem. In the Philippines, however, child malnutrition rates have remained virtually unchanged in the past 5 years, the latest National Nutrition Survey revealed.

Hunger and poor nutrition may start as early as pregnancy and infancy, leaving lasting impacts as the child grows older.

Prevalence of stunted children aged 0 to 5 years old
(Too short for their age)
Source: 2013 NNS


Human rights

At the heart of the climate change issue is human rights.

“Those who have contributed the least to global warming are the ones set to suffer the most from its harmful effects,” Elver stressed. (READ: How climate change threatens food security)

“Urgent action is needed to respond to the challenges posed by climate change, but mitigation and adaptation policies should respect the right to food as well as other fundamental human rights,” Elver added.

There is a need for a “major shift” from industrial agriculture to transformative systems, Elver suggested. An example is agro-ecology that supports the local food movement; protects small holder farmers; respects human rights, food democracy and cultural traditions; maintains environmental sustainability; and facilitates a healthy diet.

In the Philippines, losses to climate change are most felt in the aftermath of typhoons, as manifested in damaged crops, infrastructure, and homes. Climate change, however, affects Filipinos even outside of disasters as seen in lower agricultural yields and food insecurity. 

On the frontlines of feeding the country are farmers and fisher folks; they, too, are affected the most by climate change. Since 2006, they have been considered as the poorest basic sectors; with the impacts of climate change, their livelihoods are further compromised.

Ironically, the country's food producers are also among the hungriest. – Rappler.com

Davao City acts to prevent laglag-bala


PREVENTING LAGLAG BALA. News cameras document the new preventative measures enforced at the  Francisco Bangoy Airport in Davao City. Photo by Yves Perdido

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – While Manila is still reeling from the "laglag-bala" or bullet-planting scam, Davao City’s Francisco Bangoy Airport has already taken preventative measures.

Photos posted by Facebook user Yves Perdido on November 2 show officers on patrol, distributing flyers to passengers that warn them to closely monitor their belongings. 

The airport’s chief inspector, Eugene Balugo, also told media that that they are currently installing high-resolution cameras to complement the existing CCTV cameras.

The scam, which has angered the public and drawn international media attention, allegedly involves airport personnel who plant bullets in the bags of unsuspecting passengers and then demand bribes after detecting the bullets with airport scanners.

Davao City’s actions come in the wake of contrast with the relative inaction of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) authorities so far. 

Recent reports about the scam caused travelers passing through the nation’s airports to fear for their own security. Many also worry that the increasing international attention the scam continues to attract will deteriorate the number of incoming tourists.

One case was recently recorded in the Francisco Bangoy International Airport in Davao, with a Manila-bound passenger found to have two live bullets in his baggage.

Legislators including senators Ralph Recto, Miriam Defensor Santiago, and Alan Cayetano, have called for a Senate investigation into the incidents. Representatives Ashley Acedillo, Samuel Pagdilao, Romeo Acop, Leopoldo Bataoil and Gary Alejano similarly called for a Congressional inquiry. They also demanded a change in the current leadership of NAIA.

Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte also garnered media attention after declaring he would force-feed the bullets to the miscreants if it happened within his jurisdiction. He has also vowed to represent victims of the bullet-plating scam as their lawyer. – with reports from Mover Saimehen Lloid Iluis and Rappler intern Lorenzo Benitez/Rappler.com


Utang po: The poor have to borrow money to eat


FOOD SECURITY. Among the poorest provinces in the Philippines, majority of poor families borrow money from retail stores to survive food shortage. File photo by Fritzie Rodriguez/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Food is among our basic needs, but what happens if you can't afford it?

Among the poorest provinces in the Philippines, majority of the poor borrow money from retail stores to survive food shortages. This is followed by borrowing money or asking for food from relatives and neighbors, according to a World Food Programme (WFP) survey conducted from August 16 to September 5, 2015. 

Meanwhile, others choose to dilute soup or porridge and reduce food portions.

Silencing rumbling stomachs with a full meal may take a while as most families are around 30 minutes or more away from wet markets and groceries. Retail stores, however, are usually only a short walk from their homes.

Overall, 62% of all households have borrowed money in one way or another. Majority of borrowings come from relatives, followed by neighbors, tindahans (stores), lending companies, informal lenders, and cooperatives.

Sulu had the highest percentage of families with borrowings at 94%, while Negros Oriental had the lowest at 28%.

Most family borrowings range from P1,000 to P5,000. The top reasons for borrowing cash is to buy food, while others also use the loan to start a business, cover education fees, and pay for medical needs.

The WFP survey was conducted by Laylo Research Strategies, covering the poorest provinces in the Philippines: Apayao, Masbate, Negros Oriental, Eastern Samar, Northern Samar, Western Samar, Zamboange del Norte, Bukidnon, Camiguin, Lanao del Norte, North Cotabato, Saranggani, Sultan Kudarat, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, and Sulu.

The survey had 1,600 respondents, coming from lower-income households.


More than half of respondents said they experience hunger either because their money ran out or they have no other food sources.

Their usual diet consists of rice, vegetables, and condiments. While vegetables are a staple in most homes, only a few families are able to regularly eat fruits. Meat and dairy products are also seldom included in their typical diet.

Aside from borrowing from retail stores, most of the country's poorest depend on their own vegetable gardens as main food sources, WFP found. Popular garden picks include eggplants, alugbati, and malunggay.

60% of surveyed families harvest rice; other common harvests include corn, cassava, sweet potato, coconut, and papaya.

Some also have their own livestock like poultry, pigs, ducks, cows, goats, carabaos, and turkey. Not everyone, however, is as lucky.

Families that do certain food security mechanisms almost every day
Activity to secure foodPercentage of families
(Respondents allowed to give more than one answer)
Buys at nearby retail store66%
Gets food from own vegetable or fruit garden37%
Goes to wet market11%
Goes to grocery3%
Asks from relatives3%
Gets food from own livestock3%
Asks from neighbors2%

Provinces with the most families relying on retail stores almost daily were Masbate at 94%, Lanao del Norte at 90%, and Camiguin at 86%. Their rates are higher than the average of all provinces.

While many Filipinos enjoy eating out, this is a rare experience for other Filipinos. In fact, only 4% of the poorest households get to dine out in a month.

One-third of the surveyed families buy cooked food at least once a week, with most of their purchased food products coming from retail stores and the wet market. 

When money and food are really tight, some families – like those in Sultan Kudarat – resort to eating unconventional meals such as birds, frogs, pythons, iguanas, and grasshoppers.

Generally, the country's poorest "worry about their food situation," the WFP concluded.

While some Filipinos are finding themselves buried in debt for purchasing gadgets, cars, or houses, these families are struggling to feed themselves for another day. Rappler.com

Manila students welcome Lumads


STUDENTS SUPPORT LUMAD. The Manila gathering on November 4 is organized by Rise for Education, an alliance of different university and high school student councils throughout the nation. Photo by League of Filipino Students

MANILA, Philippines – Hundreds of students from Manila universities gathered on Wednesday, November 4, to express solidarity with the Lumad, indigenous peoples from Mindanao.

Among those who gathered at a welcome assembly hosted at Liwasang Bonifacio were students from University of Santo Tomas (UST), University of the Philippines (UP) Manila, De La Salle University (DLSU), National Teachers College (NTC), Eulogio "Amang" Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology (EARIST), Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) and San Beda College.

The gathering was organized by Rise for Education, an alliance of different university and high school student councils throughout the nation. It follows as the next in a series of activities of the caravan known as Manilakbayan.

From October 25 to October 31, UP Diliman hosted more than 700 Lumad from Mindanao for a week-long stay on campus during which the indigenous people spread awareness of the issues they face, including human rights violations allegedly committed against them. Liwasang Bonificio marks Manilakbayan’s latest stop along the road to Lumad equality.

The caravan participants, who are called Manilakbayanis, travelled from Surigao City to Eastern Visayas, before crossing over to Luzon island, highlighting their call to stop human rights violations in various Lumad communities. (READ: TIMELINE: Attacks on the Lumad of Mindanao)

The campaign captured the national attention after a paramilitary group, on September 1, murdered a school director and two Lumad leaders in Surigao del Sur. According to Katribu secretary general Piya Macliing Malayao, 53 Lumad had been killed extrajudicially under the Aquino administration. (READ: #StopLumadKillings trends: Nasaan ang Pangulo?)

Based on the group's documentation, the killings have intensified in 2015, claiming 13 lives as of September 1. 

Lorenzo Benitez is a Rappler intern. He is an incoming Cornell University student.

On nutrition: How does PH compare to other ASEAN nations?


MALNUTRITION. Aside from its impacts on physical health, malnutrition also imposes social and economic burdens on countries. Graphic by Emil Mercado/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Is the Philippines lagging behind its Asian neighbors in the fight against malnutrition?

Childhood malnutrition in the Philippines slightly went down over the years, but its pace is still the slowest among all ASEAN countries, according to a 2015 study by the World Bank and the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST). 

Undernutrition interventions across ASEAN countries are pretty much the same, Dr Cecila Acuin of the FNRI-DOST observed. Perhaps the Philippines, however, is doing it differently since its results are not as good as its neighbors, Acuin said. 

“We are not feeding our children right despite the resources,” Acuin said during the assessment forum on the country’s nutrition situation on Wednesday, November 4. “We should be doing better,” she added.  

In fact, only one-third of Filipino households can be considered food secure, official statistics showed.

Only a small percentage of Filipino children are meeting the minimum acceptable diet, which means only a few are getting the right diet diversity and feeding frequency.

"They usually eat rice, maybe one or two viands at most. They do not reach the minimum of at least 4 food groups for the diet to be acceptable," Acuin explained. "This could explain why our stunting and underweight rates haven’t changed much.”

Stunted children are those who are too short for their age. Stunting may result from poor nutrition as early as pregnancy, but its physical and cognitive impacts may last into adulthood. This is why a child’s first 1,000 days of life is important.

Makes a difference

The study also compared areas with low and high prevalence of underweight children, revealing that the latter had less awareness and participation in health and nutrition programs.

Overall, however, awareness rates were lower than participation. “They did not know it, but they’re participating anyway. This can be improved,” said Acuin.

While most households from low prevalence areas went to healthcare workers for information on breastfeeding, those in high prevalence areas depended more on relatives.

But both areas reported the same kind of frequently consumed food groups.

Frequently consumed food groups
Cereals and cereal products
Spices, condiments, and beverages
Oats and fats
Fish and seafood
Least consumed food groups
Meat and organ meat
Vitamin A-rich vegetables and tubers
Roots and tubers
Legumes, nuts, and seeds

There is, however, not much difference between the two areas' food expenditure: around P304-330/week or P43-47/day.

When the family plants their own food, most of it is sold, said Acuin. They only eat the "rejects" or those which are not good enough to sell.

The biggest difference, however, is seen in terms of governance.

Surveyed areas with low prevalence of underweight children have supportive local governments, extensive nutrition planning and reviews, and effectively implemented programs. They also have designated nutrition action officers.

Meanwhile, the local governments of areas with high prevalence do not prioritize nutrition. Instead of focusing on particular duties, their nutrition officers have to multi-task.

The study also highlighted the small number of nutritionists the Philippines has compared to its fellow developing ASEAN nations Indonesia and Malaysia.

Ratio of government nutritionist per population
Number of nutritionist/dietitians35722,443520
Nutritionist Population Ratio269,42411,13357,148


The study found that the most vulnerable to malnutrition are still the poor, those in rural or agricultural areas, those exposed to calamities, larger households, and younger mothers.

The Philippines, home to its many ironies, displays a double burden of malnutrition – obesity existing alongside undernutrition. 

Undernutrition can interrupt the physical and brain development of children and infants. Meanwhile, obesity is linked to chronic diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Both conditions are forms of malnutrition. "Malnutrition, in every form, presents significant threats to human health," according to the World Health Organization.

Although the Philippines has a national action plan on nutrition, the challenge lies with how local governments can implement and fund such programs. But at the same time, national governance needs to play a more direct role, the study suggested.

The Philippines currently has no direct nutrition budget; instead, it is embedded in the health budget. This budget is coursed through the National Nutrition Council.

Another problem is the lack of data. There are enough national surveys, but local data are lacking, advocates say. "If we have good data, I think we will have better solutions to our problems," said Dr Corazon Barba of the World Food Programme. – Rappler.com

PH sets national guidelines on child malnutrition


NUTRITION. Child malnutrition has been a problem among several Filipino households for years, official statistics show. File photo by Fritzie Rodriguez/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) and Unicef launched the country’s first-ever national guidelines on the management of severe acute malnutrition (SAM) for children under 5 years old on Thursday, November 5.

"This is a milestone not only in the Philippines, but also in the region. Other countries will look at this. With these guidelines, we can save millions of children," said Dr Willibald Zeck, health and nutrition chief of Unicef Philippines.

The guidelines will be used by healthcare providers, the academe, non-governmental organizations, and policymakers alike. It will come in handy not only during disasters and emergencies, but also in recovery and development contexts, according to the DOH.

It serves as a manual for healthcare workers and advocates, detailing the technical and operational management of SAM. It covers the roles of communities and health facilities; matters of financing, logistics, monitoring, reporting, and program implementation. (INFOGRAPHIC: What does malnutrition look like?)

The guidelines aim to support the implementation and expansion of quality treatment for children with SAM – the most severe form of undernutrition in the Philippines.

The guidelines also share lessons from the implementation of the Philippine Integrated Management of Acute Malnutrition, among other existing health policies.

Not much changes

The DOH calls the guidelines "historic," stressing that it is the first of its kind in the Philippines. But some advocates still question whether the government has been doing enough.

Children with SAM have very low weight for their height – known as "severe wasting" – and may experience nutritional edema, according to the World Health Organization. Edema is manifested in swelling, skin lesions, weakness, and irritability.

SAM results from inappropriate nutrition and poor childcare practices. 

There are around 17 million children worldwide suffering from SAM. “These children are estimated to have a greater than 9-fold increased risk of dying compared to a well-nourished child,” the DOH and Unicef reported.

Globally, SAM results in at least half a million deaths each year, which is over one-third of all deaths among children under 5 years old.

For the school year 2015-2016, the Department of Education aims to cover 532,752 severely wasted Filipino children in its 120-day school-based feeding program.

The figures have not changed much since 2013. Malnutrition remains a problem for several Filipino households. The Philippine prevalence of global acute malnutrition even rose from 6.1% in 2008 to 7.3% in 2011, official statistics showed.

The Philippines, advocates say, has been slow in defeating malnutrition. In the past 10 years, prevalence of underweight children has remained virtually unchanged.

The highest prevalence of malnutrition is still observed among the poorest households. Unless treated, SAM can be a life-threatening condition.

Although national policies and programs are in place, health and nutrition may still be compromised, depending on how local chief executives act on the issue, according to DOH Undersecretary Vicente Belizario Jr. (READ: Make hunger and nutrition an election issue) – Rappler.com

What is your community or local government doing to address hunger and nutrition issues? Let us know. Share your stories with us at move.ph@rappler.com. Be part of the solution, be part of the #HungerProject!

Tubbataha named PH’s 8th ASEAN Heritage Park


PALAWAN PRIDE. ASEAN Center for Biodiversity executive director Roberto Oliva (3rd from left) hands the certificate naming Tubbataha Reef an ASEAN Heritage park to Tubbataha Management Office superintendent Angelique Songco (5th from left). Photo by David Lozada/ Rappler

PUERTO PRINCESA, Philippines - The Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park was officially named an ASEAN Heritage Park (AHP) on Thursday, November 5, joining 7 others from the Philippines. 

The award was given by the ASEAN Center for Biodiversity (ACB), which is based in Los Baños, at a ceremony in Palawan’s provincial capitol. 

“We are proud to have been inscribed in the ASEAN Heritage Parks list. It is an affirmation of what has been done so far. There’s a whole range of initiatives being supported by different agencies. All these efforts in the last 15 years have just paid off,” said Angelique Songco, Protected Area Superintendent of the Tubbataha Management Office. 

Located in the Sulu Sea, Tubbataha is the first marine protected area to become an AHP in the Philippines. It becomes the 35th AHP in the region, making the Philippines the country with the most AHPs.

Other AHPs in the Philippines include:

  • Mt Makiling Nature Reserve (Laguna)
  • Mt Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary (Davao Oriental)
  • Mts Iglit-Baco National Park (Mindoro)
  • Mt Apo Natural Park (Davao)
  • Mt Kitanglad Ranger Natural Park (Bukidnon)
  • Mt Malindang Range Natural Park (Misamis Occidental)

AHP is a flagship project of the ASEAN. It is a network of the 10-member countries’ best protected areas with high biodiversity and conservation values.

Managing Tubbataha

CORAL TRIANGLE. Tubbataha Reef is part of the Coral Triangle, which contains 75% of coral species and 40% of the world’s reef fish. Photo courtesy of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity

According to Songco, managing the reef is challenging because of its distance. The reef is located 150 kilometers southeast of Puerto Princesa City and falls under the municipality of Cagayancillo. 

Going to the reef usually takes 8 to 12 hours. There are also no habitable islands so visitors stay on their boats for days.

“Going there is very seasonal so management is very costly in that case. The seasonal access also affects your efficiency as a manager. Sometimes, you can’t do things you need to do because you can’t visit the site,” Songco added. 

The park is managed by 8 to 10 park rangers who guard the reef year-long, rotating 2 months at a time. The Philippine Navy, the Philippine Coastguard, and the local government of Cagayancillo also help guard the park. 

“The policy-making body is composed of 21 people from different agencies. We also have the private sector and the academe. It crosses different sections of society and that’s to ensure that the concerns of these sectors in the park are addressed,” Songco added.

USS Guardian incident

In January 2013, US Navy minesweeper USS Guardian damaged more than 25,000 square feet of corals when it ran aground the reef.

Reeling the ship, the US Navy said, would be more costly so it hired a Singapore-based company to dismantle the ship instead. The salvaging cost around $25 million. 

“The area of the grounding sites have already shown evidence of recovery – there are coral spots growing and fish biomass is increasing. It’s a positive development. But for us to see it the way it was is probably not gonna be in this lifetime. It’s going to be a long time before it goes back to its original condition,” Songco added. 

The US Navy paid P87 million worth of damage. This amount of damage to the coral was determined by a joint team of the USS Guardian and personnel from the marine park, designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1993.

Rappler file photo of the USS Guardian in Tubbataha.

“I believe the compensation is enough because that’s what the law says. it’s not like you change the compensation structure just because the violator has money to pay. That’s what we charged and I think it’s fair,” Songco said.

The park official added that the entire incident could have been avoided if the ship captains were more careful.

“The Philippine government has already established the best safeguards we can provide. In the NAMRIA (National Mapping and Resource Information Authority) map of 2010, the boundaries are indicated in that map and it is also indicated that entry is prohibited,” she said.

Simplifying biodiversity

MARINE LIFE. The Tubbataha experience shows how marine life is sustained. Photo courtesy of the ASEAN Center for Biodiversity

The real importance of Tubbataha lies in its biodiversity, Songco noted, as the reef serves as a fish bank to many of the country’s fishing grounds. 

“It broadcasts larvae of fish and coral all over the Sulu Sea. If you don’t have a place that sends all those eggs around the fishing grounds, you have a problem. We need places like that that we don’t touch. It’s like a bank that you just wait for the interests to come,” Songco said.

ACB executive director Roberto Oliva noted that the Philippine government actually has good initiatives in preserving biodiversity.

“The Philippines is one of the advanced countries in terms of policy advocacy in biodiversity. Maybe it’s because we’ve seen how we lost our mountains and marine resources – and now we are the receiving end of climate change. I hope this would continue,” he said.

He added that he is hopeful Tubbataha’s example will be replicated across the country.

“Hopefully, what’s happening in Tubataha will be shared across the country – its best practices on how it’s managed and how the marine life is sustained. (We also have) an opportunity to share to the rest of ASEAN our best practices,” Oliva said. 

Oliva noted how understanding biodiversity needs to be simplified.

“Biodiversity is variety of life. That’s where we get our food, our rice, our fish, our clothes – all of these are biodiversity. That’s why we need to take care of it because if we don’t, the food chain will be destroyed and we won’t have food, air, and life,” he added.

Recognized as having the highest coral diversity in the world, Tubbataha is part of the Coral Triangle, which contains 75% of coral species and 40% of the world’s reef fish. – Rappler.com