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After library, Cebu City's sports complex will now be open 24/7 too


MANILA, Philippines – Granting the request of a netizen, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña confirmed on Tuesday, March 27, that the Cebu City Sports Complex, known formerly as Abellana Sports Complex, will be open to the public 24/7 starting Thursday, April 5.

Zion Kristoffer Isobal tried the tack used by another netizen, who had asked the mayor via his Facebook page if the city library could be remain 'round the clock, and whose request the local chief executive granted in a few days. 

Commenting on the mayor's post about the library, Isobal said: “Mayor may I ask if that (24/7 library operation) would be possible to mirror with our sports complex in Abellana where we can have access to the running track 24/7 or extended than the usual 9 PM cutoff?” 

He said that if the sports complex would be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, employees of Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) companies who work during the evening could still find a place to jog or run, and could still be fit.

Mayor Osmeña, in reply, said that the sports complex would be open 24/7 staring April 5, after the observance of Holy Week.


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Isobal, a BPO agent himself, told Rappler that he had been entertaining the idea of making this request of the mayor for a long time.

“I usually jog two to three times a week. But, one time, I was apprehended by the caretaker because it was already 9 pm, and there were like many people who were still in the oval but were asked to empty the running track because 9 pm was their cutoff time,” Isobal said in mixed Visayan and English.

Since then, Isobal had hoped that Abellana's running track would be made available, especially for people who work in erratic hours.

“At least we can have an avenue, some sort of a safe haven where we can jog, take a leisure walks or maybe run,” Isobal told Rappler.

He also emphasized that with a 24/7 sports facility, it is possible even for nurses or medical professionals who are in graveyard shifts to stay fit and have an active lifestyle.

Three weeks ago, Mayor Osmeña announced that the city library would be open 24 hours so students wouldn't need to stay overnight in cafés or fastfood restaurants to study.

This came after netizen Mitch Roldan made the comment on Osmeña's Facebook page, "Mayor, I'm also hoping and praying that you will consider having the public library be open for 24/7for us students who really need to study in a library setting."

Less than 24 hours after posting the screenshot, Osmeña posted an update, saying that Rizal Public Library was being outfitted for 24-hour use. (READ: Quezon City Public Library open to operating 24/7) – Rappler.com

Holy Week 2018: Mass readings for Holy Wednesday


Isaiah 50: 4-9 

The Lord God has given me 
a well-trained tongue,
That I might know how to speak to the weary
a word that will rouse them.
Morning after morning
he opens my ear that I may hear;
And I have not rebelled,
have not turned back.
I gave my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who plucked my beard;
My face I did not shield
from buffets and spitting. 

The Lord God is my help,
therefore I am not disgraced;
I have set my face like flint,
knowing that I shall not be put to shame.
He is near who upholds my right;
if anyone wishes to oppose me,
let us appear together.
Who disputes my right?
Let him confront me.
See, the Lord God is my help;
who will prove me wrong?

Psalm 69: 8-10, 21-22, 31, 33-34 

R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.

For your sake I bear insult,
and shame covers my face.
I have become an outcast to my brothers,
a stranger to my mother's sons,
because zeal for your house consumes me,
and the insults of those who blaspheme you fall upon me. 

R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.

Insult has broken my heart, and I am weak,
I looked for sympathy, but there was none;
for consolers, not one could I find.
Rather they put gall in my food,
and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink. 

R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.

I will praise the name of God in song,
and I will glorify him with thanksgiving:
"See, you lowly ones, and be glad;
you who seek God, may your hearts revive!
For the Lord hears the poor,
and his own who are in bonds he spurns not." 

R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.

Mt 26: 14-25 

One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, 
went to the chief priests and said,
"What are you willing to give me
if I hand him over to you?"
They paid him thirty pieces of silver,
and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over. 

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread,
the disciples approached Jesus and said,
"Where do you want us to prepare
for you to eat the Passover?"
He said,
"Go into the city to a certain man and tell him,
'The teacher says, "My appointed time draws near; 
in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples."'"
The disciples then did as Jesus had ordered,
and prepared the Passover. 

When it was evening,
he reclined at table with the Twelve.
And while they were eating, he said, 
"Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me."
Deeply distressed at this,
they began to say to him one after another,
"Surely it is not I, Lord?"
He said in reply,
"He who has dipped his hand into the dish with me
is the one who will betray me.
The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him,
but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed.
It would be better for that man if he had never been born."
Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply,
"Surely it is not I, Rabbi?"
He answered, "You have said so." 

– Rappler.com

PH startups win international youth competition


YOUTH CO:LAB. Philippine representatives win the UNDP Youth Co:Lab Regional Social Innovation Challenge in Bangkok. Photo by Maria Luisa Isabel Jolongbayan/UNDP Philippines

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine representatives LawKo, AroogaHealth, and Phinix emerged as top prize winners at the Youth Co:Lab Regional Social Innovation Challenge 2018 held in Bangkok, Thailand on Wednesday, March 28.

Grand champion #HackSociety team LawKo and runner-up AroogaHealth won in the competition's Startup Track. Phinix, meanwhile, won the Scale-up Track, together with China's team Hands On. Maldives' Project Blue Hearts bagged the social media award.

LawKo, founded by Alex Austria and Keisha Mayuga, is a social media initiative that aims to empower Filipinos in making informed decisions about legal and government process. (READ: Standout solutions: The winning ideas from #HackSociety 2017)

AroogaHealth, founded by Nina Samantha Sanchez and Dominique de Leon, is a platform that matches individuals with trusted healthcare providers for their emotional and mental wellness. (READ: #HackSociety 2017: Ways technology can improve public health)

Phinix, founded by Pamela Nicole Mejia, is a textile upcycling social enterprise that creates high-value products such as designer shoes and accessories. (READ: #HackSociety 2017: Ideas to manage waste, sustain food production)

The 3 startups bested 1,750 teams from 9 countries within the Asia Pacific region. A total of 21 teams qualified to present for the regional competition in Bangkok.

In December, AroogaHealth won MaGIC Malaysia's Pre-Accelerator Bootcamp. Meanwhile Phinix also bagged the United Nations Environment Asia Pacific's Low Carbon Business Challenge in March. 

Youth Co:Lab

Launched in 2017 by United Nations Development Programme with support from Citi Foundation, Youth Co:Lab is a regional program that aims to tackle social and unemployment challenges by harnessing youth leadership, entrepreneurship, and innovation. (READ: UNDP, Citi Foundation launch youth innovation program)

HackSociety, the Youth Co:Lab qualifiers competition in the Philippines, is an ideathon that crowdsources "hacks" to society's problems – a spin-off of the Social Good Summit, jointly organized by Rappler and the United Nations Development Programme Philippines. – Rappler.com


Holy Week 2018: Mass readings for Maundy Thursday


Editor's Note: For Holy Week 2018, Rappler is publishing the Mass readings for each day of the week. Below is the set of Mass readings in Catholic churches around the world on Maundy Thursday, March 29, at the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper.

Exodus 12: 1-8, 11-14 

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 
"This month shall stand at the head of your calendar; 
you shall reckon it the first month of the year.
Tell the whole community of Israel: 
On the tenth of this month every one of your families
must procure for itself a lamb, one apiece for each household.
If a family is too small for a whole lamb, 
it shall join the nearest household in procuring one 
and shall share in the lamb 
in proportion to the number of persons who partake of it.
The lamb must be a year-old male and without blemish.
You may take it from either the sheep or the goats.
You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, 
and then, with the whole assembly of Israel present, 
it shall be slaughtered during the evening twilight.
They shall take some of its blood 
and apply it to the two doorposts and the lintel 
of every house in which they partake of the lamb.
That same night they shall eat its roasted flesh 
with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.

"This is how you are to eat it: 
with your loins girt, sandals on your feet and your staff in hand,
you shall eat like those who are in flight.
It is the Passover of the Lord.
For on this same night I will go through Egypt, 
striking down every firstborn of the land, both man and beast,
and executing judgment on all the gods of Egypt – I, the Lord!
But the blood will mark the houses where you are.
Seeing the blood, I will pass over you; 
thus, when I strike the land of Egypt, 
no destructive blow will come upon you.
"This day shall be a memorial feast for you, 
which all your generations shall celebrate 
with pilgrimage to the Lord, as a perpetual institution."

Psalm 116: 12-13, 15-16BC, 17-18

R. Our blessing-cup is a communion with the Blood of Christ.

How shall I make a return to the Lord
for all the good he has done for me?
The cup of salvation I will take up,
and I will call upon the name of the Lord. 

R. Our blessing-cup is a communion with the Blood of Christ.

Precious in the eyes of the Lord
is the death of his faithful ones.
I am your servant, the son of your handmaid;
you have loosed my bonds. 

R. Our blessing-cup is a communion with the Blood of Christ.

To you will I offer sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and I will call upon the name of the Lord
My vows to the Lord I will pay
in the presence of all his people. 

R. Our blessing-cup is a communion with the Blood of Christ.

1 Cor 11: 23-26 

Brothers and sisters:
I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, 
that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, 
took bread, and, after he had given thanks,
broke it and said, "This is my body that is for you.
Do this in remembrance of me."
In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, 
"This cup is the new covenant in my blood.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me."
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, 
you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.

John 13: 1-15 

Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come
to pass from this world to the Father.
He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.
The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over.
So, during supper, 
fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power 
and that he had come from God and was returning to God, 
he rose from supper and took off his outer garments.
He took a towel and tied it around his waist.
Then he poured water into a basin 
and began to wash the disciples' feet 
and dry them with the towel around his waist.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, 
"Master, are you going to wash my feet?"
Jesus answered and said to him,
"What I am doing, you do not understand now,
but you will understand later."
Peter said to him, "You will never wash my feet."
Jesus answered him, 
"Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me."
Simon Peter said to him, 
"Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well."
Jesus said to him, 
"Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed,
for he is clean all over; 
so you are clean, but not all."
For he knew who would betray him;
for this reason, he said, "Not all of you are clean."

So when he had washed their feet 
and put his garments back on and reclined at table again, 
he said to them, "Do you realize what I have done for you?
You call me 'teacher' and 'master,' and rightly so, for indeed I am.
If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, 
you ought to wash one another's feet.
I have given you a model to follow, 
so that as I have done for you, you should also do."

– Rappler.com

In defense of Judas


Editor's Note: This piece was originally printed in "The Gospel of Mercy According to Juan/a" by Bishop Pablo Virgilio David and Nina Tomen, published by St Pauls Publishing in 2016. Rappler is publishing this piece with permission from Bishop David and St Pauls Publishing for Holy Week 2018.

Some people forget that Judas was chosen personally by Jesus to be one of the 12 pillars of the Church! (If we can ascribe infallibility to the Pope, why not to the Son of God?)

They also forget that Judas eventually repented and, in fact, attempted to return the money to the chief priests before despair pushed him to take his life, according to the Passion story of Matthew (Mt 27: 3-5). 

When the Gospels say, "Satan had entered into Judas (Jn 13: 2; 14: 27)," they are actually being merciful. It is their way of saying that Judas was no longer himself at that moment, that he was under the spell of evil when he did his act of betrayal. 

In fact we should not forget that at the first Eucharist, Jesus broke bread and gave the first morsel to Judas (Jn 14: 26)! To say that that was not Eucharistic is to claim that Judas was beyond redemption! It is also to deny the power of God’s mercy.

Have we forgotten that the Eucharist was really for him (and for the potential Judases that we all can turn into)?

Thus, the priest says, to preface the words of consecration at Mass, that it was "on the night he was betrayed" that Jesus took bread and wine and offered them as His own body and blood, in anticipation of His act of self-oblation on the cross on Good Friday.

The Eucharist is really about Jesus' conscious option to transform that night of betrayal into a night of forgiveness: "For this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS" (Mt 26: 28).

It was precisely at that moment that Jesus accepted the prospect of becoming the lamb for the new Passover, by whose blood sins would be forgiven – Judas' included.

To the forgiven betrayer, I dedicate this piece:

(A biblical poetry on Judas based on Jn 13: 27-30) 

You left after you ate
that morsel of bread
dipped in the dish
by your beloved friend.
He had searched
in your eyes,
the way He did
when you showed up again
to kiss Him…
Those eyes…
that haunting look
that would pierce your soul;
a glance of forgiveness
before your dastardly
act of betrayal
could even be consummated… 

But what a pity,
you had read it
You walked half-dazed
into the stillness 
of that night…
a perfect portrait of despair
on that starry, 
starry night,
when demons rushed in
to drive you
into the ravine
of unspeakable treachery
For you had died
even before
you hanged yourself,
long before you held
those damned pieces of silver
in your wretched hands 

– Rappler.com

Judas betrays Jesus image via ShutterStock

Holy Week 2018: Readings at the Good Friday service


Editor's Note: For Holy Week 2018, Rappler is publishing the Mass readings for each day of the week. Below is the set of readings in Catholic churches around the world on Good Friday, March 30, at the Celebration of the Lord's Passion.

Isaiah 52: 13–53:12

See, my servant shall prosper,
he shall be raised high and greatly exalted.
Even as many were amazed at him
so marred was his look beyond human semblance
and his appearance beyond that of the sons of man
so shall he startle many nations,
because of him kings shall stand speechless;
for those who have not been told shall see,
those who have not heard shall ponder it.

Who would believe what we have heard?
To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
He grew up like a sapling before him,
like a shoot from the parched earth;
there was in him no stately bearing to make us look at him,
nor appearance that would attract us to him.
He was spurned and avoided by people,
a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity,
one of those from whom people hide their faces,
spurned, and we held him in no esteem.

Yet it was our infirmities that he bore,
our sufferings that he endured,
while we thought of him as stricken,
as one smitten by God and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our offenses,
crushed for our sins;
upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole,
by his stripes we were healed.
We had all gone astray like sheep,
each following his own way;
but the Lord laid upon him
the guilt of us all.

Though he was harshly treated, he submitted
and opened not his mouth;
like a lamb led to the slaughter
or a sheep before the shearers,
he was silent and opened not his mouth.
Oppressed and condemned, he was taken away,
and who would have thought any more of his destiny?
When he was cut off from the land of the living,
and smitten for the sin of his people,
a grave was assigned him among the wicked
and a burial place with evildoers,
though he had done no wrong
nor spoken any falsehood.
But the Lord was pleased
to crush him in infirmity.

If he gives his life as an offering for sin,
he shall see his descendants in a long life,
and the will of the Lord shall be accomplished through him.

Because of his affliction
he shall see the light in fullness of days;
through his suffering, my servant shall justify many,
and their guilt he shall bear.
Therefore I will give him his portion among the great,
and he shall divide the spoils with the mighty,
because he surrendered himself to death
and was counted among the wicked;
and he shall take away the sins of many,
and win pardon for their offenses.

Psalm 31: 2, 6, 12-13, 15-16, 17, 25

R. (Lk 23:46) Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.

In you, O Lord, I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
In your justice rescue me.
Into your hands I commend my spirit;
you will redeem me, O Lord, O faithful God.

R. Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.

For all my foes I am an object of reproach,
a laughingstock to my neighbors, and a dread to my friends;
they who see me abroad flee from me.
I am forgotten like the unremembered dead;
I am like a dish that is broken.

R. Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.

But my trust is in you, O Lord;
I say, "You are my God.
In your hands is my destiny; rescue me
from the clutches of my enemies and my persecutors."

R. Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.

Let your face shine upon your servant;
save me in your kindness.
Take courage and be stouthearted,
all you who hope in the Lord.

R. Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.

Hebrews 4: 14-16; 5: 7-9

Brothers and sisters:
Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens,
Jesus, the Son of God,
let us hold fast to our confession.
For we do not have a high priest
who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses,
but one who has similarly been tested in every way,
yet without sin.
So let us confidently approach the throne of grace
to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.

In the days when Christ was in the flesh,
he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears
to the one who was able to save him from death,
and he was heard because of his reverence.
Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered;
and when he was made perfect,
he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.

John 18: 1–19: 42

Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley
to where there was a garden,
into which he and his disciples entered.
Judas his betrayer also knew the place,
because Jesus had often met there with his disciples.
So Judas got a band of soldiers and guards
from the chief priests and the Pharisees
and went there with lanterns, torches, and weapons.
Jesus, knowing everything that was going to happen to him,
went out and said to them, "Whom are you looking for?"
They answered him, "Jesus the Nazorean."
He said to them, "I AM."
Judas his betrayer was also with them.
When he said to them, "I AM,"
they turned away and fell to the ground.
So he again asked them,
"Whom are you looking for?"
They said, "Jesus the Nazorean."
Jesus answered,
"I told you that I AM.
So if you are looking for me, let these men go."
This was to fulfill what he had said,
"I have not lost any of those you gave me."
Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it,
struck the high priest's slave, and cut off his right ear.
The slave's name was Malchus.
Jesus said to Peter,
"Put your sword into its scabbard.
Shall I not drink the cup that the Father gave me?"

So the band of soldiers, the tribune, and the Jewish guards seized Jesus,
bound him, and brought him to Annas first.
He was the father-in-law of Caiaphas,
who was high priest that year.
It was Caiaphas who had counseled the Jews
that it was better that one man should die rather than the people.

Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus.
Now the other disciple was known to the high priest,
and he entered the courtyard of the high priest with Jesus.
But Peter stood at the gate outside.
So the other disciple, the acquaintance of the high priest,
went out and spoke to the gatekeeper and brought Peter in.
Then the maid who was the gatekeeper said to Peter,
"You are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?"
He said, "I am not."
Now the slaves and the guards were standing around a charcoal fire
that they had made, because it was cold,
and were warming themselves.
Peter was also standing there keeping warm.

The high priest questioned Jesus
about his disciples and about his doctrine.
Jesus answered him,
"I have spoken publicly to the world.
I have always taught in a synagogue
or in the temple area where all the Jews gather,
and in secret I have said nothing. Why ask me?
Ask those who heard me what I said to them.
They know what I said."
When he had said this,
one of the temple guards standing there struck Jesus and said,
"Is this the way you answer the high priest?"
Jesus answered him,
"If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong;
but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?"
Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

Now Simon Peter was standing there keeping warm.
And they said to him,
"You are not one of his disciples, are you?"
He denied it and said,
"I am not."
One of the slaves of the high priest,
a relative of the one whose ear Peter had cut off, said,
"Didn’t I see you in the garden with him?"
Again Peter denied it.
And immediately the cock crowed.

Then they brought Jesus from Caiaphas to the praetorium.
It was morning.
And they themselves did not enter the praetorium,
in order not to be defiled so that they could eat the Passover.
So Pilate came out to them and said,
"What charge do you bring against this man?"
They answered and said to him,
"If he were not a criminal,
we would not have handed him over to you."
At this, Pilate said to them,
"Take him yourselves, and judge him according to your law."
The Jews answered him,
"We do not have the right to execute anyone,"
in order that the word of Jesus might be fulfilled
that he said indicating the kind of death he would die.
So Pilate went back into the praetorium
and summoned Jesus and said to him,
"Are you the King of the Jews?"
Jesus answered,
"Do you say this on your own
or have others told you about me?"
Pilate answered,
"I am not a Jew, am I?
Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me.
What have you done?"
Jesus answered,
"My kingdom does not belong to this world.
If my kingdom did belong to this world,
my attendants would be fighting
to keep me from being handed over to the Jews.
But as it is, my kingdom is not here."
So Pilate said to him,
"Then you are a king?"
Jesus answered,
"You say I am a king.
For this I was born and for this I came into the world,
to testify to the truth.
Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice."
Pilate said to him, "What is truth?"

When he had said this,
he again went out to the Jews and said to them,
"I find no guilt in him.
But you have a custom that I release one prisoner to you at Passover.
Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?"
They cried out again,
"Not this one but Barabbas!"
Now Barabbas was a revolutionary.

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged.
And the soldiers wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on his head,
and clothed him in a purple cloak,
and they came to him and said,
"Hail, King of the Jews!"
And they struck him repeatedly.
Once more Pilate went out and said to them,
"Look, I am bringing him out to you,
so that you may know that I find no guilt in him."
So Jesus came out,
wearing the crown of thorns and the purple cloak.
And he said to them, "Behold, the man!"
When the chief priests and the guards saw him they cried out,
"Crucify him, crucify him!"
Pilate said to them,
"Take him yourselves and crucify him.
I find no guilt in him."
The Jews answered,
"We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die,
because he made himself the Son of God."
Now when Pilate heard this statement,
he became even more afraid,
and went back into the praetorium and said to Jesus,
"Where are you from?"
Jesus did not answer him.
So Pilate said to him,
"Do you not speak to me?
Do you not know that I have power to release you
and I have power to crucify you?"
Jesus answered him,
"You would have no power over me
if it had not been given to you from above.
For this reason the one who handed me over to you
has the greater sin."
Consequently, Pilate tried to release him; but the Jews cried out,
"If you release him, you are not a Friend of Caesar.
Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar."

When Pilate heard these words he brought Jesus out
and seated him on the judge's bench
in the place called Stone Pavement, in Hebrew, Gabbatha.
It was preparation day for Passover, and it was about noon.
And he said to the Jews,
"Behold, your king!"
They cried out,
"Take him away, take him away! Crucify him!"
Pilate said to them,
"Shall I crucify your king?"
The chief priests answered,
"We have no king but Caesar."
Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.

So they took Jesus, and, carrying the cross himself,
he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull,
in Hebrew, Golgotha.
There they crucified him, and with him two others,
one on either side, with Jesus in the middle.
Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross.
It read,
"Jesus the Nazorean, the King of the Jews."
Now many of the Jews read this inscription,
because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city;
and it was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek.
So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate,
"Do not write 'The King of the Jews,'
but that he said, 'I am the King of the Jews.''
Pilate answered,
"What I have written, I have written."

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus,
they took his clothes and divided them into four shares,
a share for each soldier.
They also took his tunic, but the tunic was seamless,
woven in one piece from the top down.
So they said to one another,
"Let's not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it will be,"
in order that the passage of Scripture might be fulfilled that says:
They divided my garments among them,
and for my vesture they cast lots.
This is what the soldiers did.
Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother
and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas,
and Mary of Magdala.
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved
he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son."
Then he said to the disciple,
"Behold, your mother."
And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.

After this, aware that everything was now finished,
in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled,
Jesus said, "I thirst."
There was a vessel filled with common wine.
So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop
and put it up to his mouth.
When Jesus had taken the wine, he said,
"It is finished."
And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.

(Here all kneel and pause for a short time.)

Now since it was preparation day,
in order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath,
for the sabbath day of that week was a solemn one,
the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken
and that they be taken down.
So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first
and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus.
But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead,
they did not break his legs,
but one soldier thrust his lance into his side,
and immediately blood and water flowed out.
An eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true;
he knows that he is speaking the truth,
so that you also may come to believe.
For this happened so that the Scripture passage might be fulfilled:
Not a bone of it will be broken.
And again another passage says:
They will look upon him whom they have pierced.

After this, Joseph of Arimathea,
secretly a disciple of Jesus for fear of the Jews,
asked Pilate if he could remove the body of Jesus.
And Pilate permitted it.
So he came and took his body.
Nicodemus, the one who had first come to him at night,
also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes
weighing about one hundred pounds.
They took the body of Jesus
and bound it with burial cloths along with the spices,
according to the Jewish burial custom.
Now in the place where he had been crucified there was a garden,
and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had yet been buried.
So they laid Jesus there because of the Jewish preparation day;
for the tomb was close by.

– Rappler.com

The stories behind the Passion of Jesus


MANILA, Philippines – There are many pivotal characters who fall to the background in the Bible.

In every book, there are characters whose stories don’t get told. The people whose names are only mentioned once and then forgotten in favor of a bigger plot.

Even in the Passion story of Jesus Christ, one of the most important stories told in the Roman Catholic religion, there are several characters who play pivotal roles in the salvation of man and yet, nobody knows much beyond their presence along Jesus’ path to the cross.

We take a look at some of the background characters of the Stations of the Cross story.

Pontius Pilate

The Stations of the Cross begins with Jesus facing Pontius Pilate for judgement.

Pilate was the 5th prefect to the province of Judea. In all canonical gospels, Pilate is shown as hesitant to pass judgement on Jesus.

The Roman prefect did not find any fault in Jesus despite the clamoring of the crowd that had gathered to witness Jesus’ sentencing. He asks Jesus to defend himself and offers to release him as was traditionally done during the Passover celebrations.

It is even said that Pilate’s wife bade him to have no hand in condemning Jesus, saying, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.” (Matthew 27:19)

When he saw that his attempts to free Jesus only provoked the crowd to call for his crucifixion louder, he washed his hands and said, “I am innocent of this man's blood; see to it yourselves.” (Matthew 27:24) Before having Jesus scourged and sent to be crucified.


Barabbas was a ‘notorious prisoner;’ according to the gospels he was locked up for his part in an insurrection in the city and for committing murder during the uprising.

During the judgement of Jesus before Pilate, the Roman prefect offered to release Jesus as part of the Jewish Passover tradition, however, the crowd called for the release of Barabbas instead.

When Pilate washed his hands of the responsibility of Jesus’ condemnation, the crowd chanted, “His blood is on us and on our children!” (Matthew 27:25)

Simon of Cyrene

Simon is highlighted in the 5th Station of the Cross, after Jesus falls the first time.

When Jesus was made to carry the cross to Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”), the guards pulled in a man who was from Cyrene who, according to the gospel of Mark, was on his way in from the country.

Not much is said about Simon except that he is the father of Alexander and Rufus.


Saint Veronica is not mentioned in the Bible, however she is known through Roman Catholic tradition for her actions in the 6th Station of the Cross.

It is said that she is one of the women who followed Jesus on his way to Golgotha and offered him a cloth with which to wipe his face which was dripping with sweat and blood.

Tradition states that Jesus’ face left a slight imprint on the cloth.

She was canonized a saint pre-congregation and her feast day is celebrated on July 12th.

Disciple at the Cross

It is not mentioned whether any of Jesus’ Apostles were part of the crowd the accompanied Jesus to Gologtha, but in the Gospel of Matthew, it is said that one disciple stood beside Jesus’ mother at the foot of the cross.

When he saw that they were present during his final moments, Jesus spoke to the disciple, giving him leave to care for his mother from that moment on.

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. (John 19:25-27)

Soldier at the Cross

There are many unnamed soldiers in the Passion story, but one had a significant role among the others.

It is said that one of those present at the crucifixion heard Jesus say that he was thirsty and so the soldier dipped a sponge into a jar of wine vinegar and used the stalk of a hyssop plant to lift it up to Jesus’ lips for his final drink.

Another soldier who had a significant role in the crucifixion was the man who pierced Jesus' side after the latter's death. This soldier has come to be known as Longinus.

His act of wounding Jesus created the last of the Five Holy Wounds of Christ.

The penitent thief

Crucified along with Jesus were 2 criminals, said to be thieves.

One of the criminals goaded Jesus as they hung on their crosses saying, “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” (Luke 23:39)

And the other criminal rebuked the first one saying, “We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” (Luke 23:41)

The second criminal then said to Jesus, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (Luke 23:42)

Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

Mary, Mother of Jesus

Mary’s role in the Passion story is highlighted in the 4th and 13th Station of the Cross.

Jesus’ mother, Mary, is one of the most prominent figures in the entire Bible. From before Jesus’ birth until after his death on the Cross, Mary was present and adhering to the prophecy of the Messiah.

When Jesus was taken down from the Cross, he is laid on Mary’s lap and she holds her son’s body, mourning.

This is the scene which inspired Michelangelo’s Pietà statue.

Joseph of Arimathea

According to all the gospels, Joseph of Arimathea was a prominent man in Jewish society, several accounts say that he was a member of the Council aside from being a disciple of Jesus.

After the crucifixion and death of Jesus on the Cross, Joseph approached Pilate to ask the prefect for permission to bury Jesus’ body.

Once the body was cleaned and anointed, Joseph had Jesus wrapped in white linen and laid in a new tomb and then sealed with a large stone.

True, not much is known about most of the people who played key roles in the Passion story of Jesus Christ, however, each one of them was pivotal in the narrative that Catholics believe is what saved humanity from eternal damnation.

Are there any interesting characters in the Bible that you are curious about? If you know any of their stories, write about them on X! –Rappler.com

Netizens slam devotees, tourists for leaving trash in Holy Week sites


HOLY WEEK GARBAGE. Several pieces of trash are seen littered outside the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan. Photo courtesy of Isaiah Christian Reyes

MANILA, Philippines –  Netizens have called out devotees and tourists who left piles of trash in pilgrimage and vacation sites as they observed Holy Week.

Irate netizens voiced their criticism after photos of trash-littered pilgrimage sites and vacation spots spread on social media on Friday, March 30. 

Photos of trash along the path of the alay lakad (march offering) in Antipolo, the pilgrimage site of Malasag in Cagayan de Oro, and at the Grotto of Our Lady Lourdes in San Jose del Monte in Bulacan were among those shared by netizens. They condemned the lack of discipline of people who left their trash on the ground. 

Tourists spots were not spared as well. Families who spent Holy Week in Masasa beach in Tingloy, Batangas, littered their vacation site.


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Altogether, the posts have been shared more than 22,500 times on Facebook and gathered more than 20,000 reactions as of posting. 

Netizens said this Holy Week behavior is ironic considering the Catholic church's calls for a change in lifestyle in response to climate change. 

In his groundbreaking encyclical letter “Laudato Si” in 2015, Pope Francis has urged the world to act quickly to prevent "extraordinary" climate change from destroying the planet which “is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.”

“Nature cannot be regarded as something separate from ourselves or as a mere setting in which we live. We are part of nature, included in it, and thus in constant interaction with it,” Pope Francis said.

Ahead of the Holy Week, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) repeatedly urged the public to make the annual observance of lent as environment-friendly as possible.

“It does not take much to keep our environment clean. Every effort, when taken together, will result to clean water, clean air, clean land, healthy forests and rich biodiversity. Let’s all do our share,” DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu said in as statement on Friday, March 16.

The viral photos of garbage, however, proved that these reminders have fallen on deaf ears. (READ: Devotees leave 15 trucks of garbage after Nazareno 2018 procession

Below are some netizens' comments on the posts of trash left in pilgrimage sites and tourist spots.


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Appeal to the church

Environmental group EcoWaste Coalition joined netizens in denouncing the irresponsible acts that "tainted the traditional acts of devotion and penance" performed by the Filipino Catholic faithful during Holy Week. 

Since 2018 marks the 30th anniversary of Catholic bishops' thought-provoking 1988 pastoral letter on ecology – “What is Happening to Our Beautiful Land” – the EcoWaste Coalition also urged church leaders to release a new statement that will encourage people to take further action to protect and preserve the integrity of creation, including the greening of faith activities.

“Just like in previous years, the Lenten pilgrimage to both religious sites left a trail of trash that is totally unbefitting of the spiritual journey that many devotees do to affirm their faith, ask forgiveness for past wrongs and give thanks for blessings received,” said EcoWaste Coalition Zero Waste Campaigner Daniel Alejandre in a statement. 

 “We surely are not happy with what we saw, but hope springs eternal in the human heart.  We therefore reiterate our appeal to the faithful to care for Mother Earth, sustainer of all life, as they fulfill their religious vows.  Faith-inspired endeavors should set a higher benchmark for environmental stewardship,” Alejandre added. 

In support of “Laudato Si,” Philippine bishops in 2015 called for a "courageous review" of policies and lifestyles even to non-Christians. 

“We are not owners of the earth.  We are its stewards, to keep and cherish and nurture its resources not only for ourselves but for future generations," the CBCP said then.– Rappler.com 


Holy Week 2018: Mass readings for Easter Vigil


Genesis 1: 1–2:2

In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth,
the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss,
while a mighty wind swept over the waters.

Then God said,
"Let there be light," and there was light.
God saw how good the light was.
God then separated the light from the darkness.
God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night."
Thus evening came, and morning followed – the first day.

Then God said,
"Let there be a dome in the middle of the waters,
to separate one body of water from the other."
And so it happened:
God made the dome,
and it separated the water above the dome from the water below it.
God called the dome "the sky."
Evening came, and morning followed – the second day.

Then God said,
"Let the water under the sky be gathered into a single basin,
so that the dry land may appear."
And so it happened:
the water under the sky was gathered into its basin,
and the dry land appeared.
God called the dry land "the earth,"
and the basin of the water he called "the sea."
God saw how good it was.
Then God said,
"Let the earth bring forth vegetation:
every kind of plant that bears seed
and every kind of fruit tree on earth
that bears fruit with its seed in it."
And so it happened:
the earth brought forth every kind of plant that bears seed
and every kind of fruit tree on earth
that bears fruit with its seed in it.
God saw how good it was.
Evening came, and morning followed – the third day.

Then God said:
"Let there be lights in the dome of the sky,
to separate day from night.
Let them mark the fixed times, the days and the years,
and serve as luminaries in the dome of the sky,
to shed light upon the earth."
And so it happened:
God made the two great lights,
the greater one to govern the day,
and the lesser one to govern the night;
and he made the stars.
God set them in the dome of the sky,
to shed light upon the earth,
to govern the day and the night,
and to separate the light from the darkness.
God saw how good it was.
Evening came, and morning followed – the fourth day.

Then God said,
"Let the water teem with an abundance of living creatures,
and on the earth let birds fly beneath the dome of the sky."
And so it happened:
God created the great sea monsters
and all kinds of swimming creatures with which the water teems,
and all kinds of winged birds.
God saw how good it was, and God blessed them, saying,
"Be fertile, multiply, and fill the water of the seas;
and let the birds multiply on the earth."
Evening came, and morning followed – the fifth day.

Then God said,
"Let the earth bring forth all kinds of living creatures:
cattle, creeping things, and wild animals of all kinds."
And so it happened:
God made all kinds of wild animals, all kinds of cattle,
and all kinds of creeping things of the earth.
God saw how good it was.
Then God said:
"Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.
Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea,
the birds of the air, and the cattle,
and over all the wild animals
and all the creatures that crawl on the ground."
God created man in his image;
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
God blessed them, saying:
"Be fertile and multiply;
fill the earth and subdue it.
Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air,
and all the living things that move on the earth."
God also said:
"See, I give you every seed-bearing plant all over the earth
and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food;
and to all the animals of the land, all the birds of the air,
and all the living creatures that crawl on the ground,
I give all the green plants for food."
And so it happened.
God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good.
Evening came, and morning followed – the sixth day.

Thus the heavens and the earth and all their array were completed.
Since on the seventh day God was finished
with the work he had been doing,
he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken.

Psalm 104: 1-2, 5-6, 10, 12, 13-14, 24, 35

R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.

Bless the Lord, O my soul!
O Lord, my God, you are great indeed!
You are clothed with majesty and glory,
robed in light as with a cloak.

R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.

You fixed the earth upon its foundation,
not to be moved forever;
with the ocean, as with a garment, you covered it;
above the mountains the waters stood.

R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.

You send forth springs into the watercourses
that wind among the mountains.
Beside them the birds of heaven dwell;
from among the branches they send forth their song.

R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.

You water the mountains from your palace;
the earth is replete with the fruit of your works.
You raise grass for the cattle,
and vegetation for man's use,
Producing bread from the earth.

R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
How manifold are your works, O Lord!
In wisdom you have wrought them all—the earth is full of your creatures.
Bless the Lord, O my soul! Alleluia.

R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.

Genesis 22: 1-18

God put Abraham to the test.
He called to him, "Abraham!"
"Here I am, " he replied.
Then God said:
"Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love,
and go to the land of Moriah.
There you shall offer him up as a holocaust
on a height that I will point out to you."
Early the next morning Abraham saddled his donkey,
took with him his son Isaac and two of his servants as well,
and with the wood that he had cut for the holocaust,
set out for the place of which God had told him.

On the third day Abraham got sight of the place from afar.
Then he said to his servants:
"Both of you stay here with the donkey,
while the boy and I go on over yonder.
We will worship and then come back to you."
Thereupon Abraham took the wood for the holocaust
and laid it on his son Isaac's shoulders,
while he himself carried the fire and the knife.
As the two walked on together, Isaac spoke to his father Abraham:
"Father!" Isaac said.
"Yes, son, " he replied.
Isaac continued, "Here are the fire and the wood,
but where is the sheep for the holocaust?"
"Son," Abraham answered,
"God himself will provide the sheep for the holocaust."
Then the two continued going forward.

When they came to the place of which God had told him,
Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it.
Next he tied up his son Isaac,
and put him on top of the wood on the altar.
Then he reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son.
But the Lord’s messenger called to him from heaven,
"Abraham, Abraham!"
"Here I am!" he answered.
"Do not lay your hand on the boy," said the messenger.
"Do not do the least thing to him.
I know now how devoted you are to God,
since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son."
As Abraham looked about,
he spied a ram caught by its horns in the thicket.
So he went and took the ram
and offered it up as a holocaust in place of his son.
Abraham named the site Yahweh-yireh;
hence people now say, "On the mountain the Lord will see."

Again the Lord’s messenger called to Abraham from heaven and said:
"I swear by myself, declares the Lord,
that because you acted as you did
in not withholding from me your beloved son,
I will bless you abundantly
and make your descendants as countless
as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore;
your descendants shall take possession
of the gates of their enemies,
and in your descendants all the nations of the earth shall find blessing –
all this because you obeyed my command."

Psalm 16: 5, 8, 9-10, 11

R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.

O Lord, my allotted portion and my cup,
you it is who hold fast my lot.
I set the Lord ever before me;
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.

R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.

Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices,
my body, too, abides in confidence;
because you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld,
nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption.

R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.

You will show me the path to life,
fullness of joys in your presence,
the delights at your right hand forever.

R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.

Exodus 14: 15–15:1

The Lord said to Moses, "Why are you crying out to me?
Tell the Israelites to go forward.
And you, lift up your staff and, with hand outstretched over the sea,
split the sea in two,
that the Israelites may pass through it on dry land.
But I will make the Egyptians so obstinate
that they will go in after them.
Then I will receive glory through Pharaoh and all his army,
his chariots and charioteers.
The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD,
when I receive glory through Pharaoh
and his chariots and charioteers."

The angel of God, who had been leading Israel's camp,
now moved and went around behind them.
The column of cloud also, leaving the front,
took up its place behind them,
so that it came between the camp of the Egyptians
and that of Israel.
But the cloud now became dark, and thus the night passed
without the rival camps coming any closer together
all night long.
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea,
and the Lord swept the sea
with a strong east wind throughout the night
and so turned it into dry land.
When the water was thus divided,
the Israelites marched into the midst of the sea on dry land,
with the water like a wall to their right and to their left.

The Egyptians followed in pursuit;
all Pharaoh's horses and chariots and charioteers went after them
right into the midst of the sea.
In the night watch just before dawn
the Lord cast through the column of the fiery cloud
upon the Egyptian force a glance that threw it into a panic;
and he so clogged their chariot wheels
that they could hardly drive.
With that the Egyptians sounded the retreat before Israel,
because the Lord was fighting for them against the Egyptians.

Then the Lord told Moses, "Stretch out your hand over the sea,
that the water may flow back upon the Egyptians,
upon their chariots and their charioteers."
So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea,
and at dawn the sea flowed back to its normal depth.
The Egyptians were fleeing head on toward the sea,
when the Lord hurled them into its midst.
As the water flowed back,
it covered the chariots and the charioteers of Pharaoh's whole army
which had followed the Israelites into the sea.
Not a single one of them escaped.
But the Israelites had marched on dry land
through the midst of the sea,
with the water like a wall to their right and to their left.
Thus the Lord saved Israel on that day
from the power of the Egyptians.
When Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the seashore
and beheld the great power that the Lord
had shown against the Egyptians,
they feared the Lord and believed in him and in his servant Moses.

Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord:
I will sing to the Lord, for he is gloriously triumphant;
horse and chariot he has cast into the sea.

Exodus 15: 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 17-18

R. Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.

I will sing to the LORD, for he is gloriously triumphant;
horse and chariot he has cast into the sea.
My strength and my courage is the Lord,
and he has been my savior.
He is my God, I praise him;
the God of my father, I extol him.

R. Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.

The Lord is a warrior,
Lord is his name!
Pharaoh's chariots and army he hurled into the sea;
the elite of his officers were submerged in the Red Sea.

R. Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.

The flood waters covered them,
they sank into the depths like a stone.
Your right hand, O Lord, magnificent in power,
your right hand, O Lord, has shattered the enemy.

R. Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.

You brought in the people you redeemed
and planted them on the mountain of your inheritance –
the place where you made your seat, O Lord,
the sanctuary, Lord, which your hands established.
The Lord shall reign forever and ever.

R. Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.

Isaiah 54: 5-14

The One who has become your husband is your Maker;
his name is the Lord of hosts;
your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel,
called God of all the earth.
The Lord calls you back,
like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit,
a wife married in youth and then cast off,
says your God.
For a brief moment I abandoned you,
but with great tenderness I will take you back.
In an outburst of wrath, for a moment
I hid my face from you;
but with enduring love I take pity on you,
says the Lord, your redeemer.
This is for me like the days of Noah,
when I swore that the waters of Noah
should never again deluge the earth;
so I have sworn not to be angry with you,
or to rebuke you.
Though the mountains leave their place
and the hills be shaken,
my love shall never leave you
nor my covenant of peace be shaken,
says the Lord, who has mercy on you.
O afflicted one, storm-battered and unconsoled,
I lay your pavements in carnelians,
and your foundations in sapphires;
I will make your battlements of rubies,
your gates of carbuncles,
and all your walls of precious stones.
All your children shall be taught by the Lord,
and great shall be the peace of your children.
In justice shall you be established,
far from the fear of oppression,
where destruction cannot come near you.

Psalm 30: 2, 4, 5-6, 11-12, 13

R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.

I will extol you, O Lord, for you drew me clear
and did not let my enemies rejoice over me.
O Lord, you brought me up from the netherworld;
you preserved me from among those going down into the pit.

R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.

Sing praise to the Lord, you his faithful ones,
and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger lasts but a moment;
a lifetime, his good will.
At nightfall, weeping enters in,
but with the dawn, rejoicing.

R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.

Hear, O Lord, and have pity on me;
O Lord, be my helper.
You changed my mourning into dancing;
O Lord, my God, forever will I give you thanks.

R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.

Isaiah 55: 1-11

Thus says the Lord:
All you who are thirsty,
come to the water!
You who have no money,
come, receive grain and eat;
come, without paying and without cost,
drink wine and milk!
Why spend your money for what is not bread,
your wages for what fails to satisfy?
Heed me, and you shall eat well,
you shall delight in rich fare.
Come to me heedfully,
listen, that you may have life.
I will renew with you the everlasting covenant,
the benefits assured to David.
As I made him a witness to the peoples,
a leader and commander of nations,
so shall you summon a nation you knew not,
and nations that knew you not shall run to you,
because of the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, who has glorified you.

Seek the Lord while he may be found,
call him while he is near.
Let the scoundrel forsake his way,
and the wicked man his thoughts;
let him turn to the Lord for mercy;
to our God, who is generous in forgiving.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
As high as the heavens are above the earth,
so high are my ways above your ways
and my thoughts above your thoughts.

For just as from the heavens
the rain and snow come down
and do not return there
till they have watered the earth,
making it fertile and fruitful,
giving seed to the one who sows
and bread to the one who eats,
so shall my word be
that goes forth from my mouth;
my word shall not return to me void,
but shall do my will,
achieving the end for which I sent it.

Isaiah 12: 2-3, 4, 5-6

R. (3) You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.

God indeed is my savior;
I am confident and unafraid.
My strength and my courage is the Lord,
and he has been my savior.
With joy you will draw water
at the fountain of salvation.

R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
Give thanks to the Lord, acclaim his name;
among the nations make known his deeds,
proclaim how exalted is his name.

R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.

Sing praise to the Lord for his glorious achievement;
let this be known throughout all the earth.
Shout with exultation, O city of Zion,
for great in your midst
is the Holy One of Israel!

R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.

Baruch 3: 9-15, 32C4: 4

Hear, O Israel, the commandments of life:
listen, and know prudence!
How is it, Israel,
that you are in the land of your foes,
grown old in a foreign land,
defiled with the dead,
accounted with those destined for the netherworld?
You have forsaken the fountain of wisdom!
Had you walked in the way of God,
you would have dwelt in enduring peace.
Learn where prudence is,
where strength, where understanding;
that you may know also
where are length of days, and life,
where light of the eyes, and peace.
Who has found the place of wisdom,
who has entered into her treasuries?

The One who knows all things knows her;
he has probed her by his knowledge –
The One who established the earth for all time,
and filled it with four-footed beasts;
he who dismisses the light, and it departs,
calls it, and it obeys him trembling;
before whom the stars at their posts
shine and rejoice;
when he calls them, they answer, "Here we are!"
shining with joy for their Maker.
Such is our God;
no other is to be compared to him:
He has traced out the whole way of understanding,
and has given her to Jacob, his servant,
to Israel, his beloved son.

Since then she has appeared on earth,
and moved among people.
She is the book of the precepts of God,
the law that endures forever;
all who cling to her will live,
but those will die who forsake her.
Turn, O Jacob, and receive her:
walk by her light toward splendor.
Give not your glory to another,
your privileges to an alien race.
Blessed are we, O Israel;
for what pleases God is known to us!

Psalm 19: 8, 9, 10, 11

R. (John 6:68c) Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.

The law of the Lord is perfect,
refreshing the soul;
the decree of the Lord is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.

R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.

The precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the command of the Lord is clear,
enlightening the eye.

R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.

The fear of the Lord is pure,
enduring forever;
the ordinances of the Lord are true,
all of them just.

R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.

They are more precious than gold,
than a heap of purest gold;
sweeter also than syrup
or honey from the comb.

R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.

Ezra 36: 16-17a, 18-28

The word of the Lord came to me, saying:
Son of man, when the house of Israel lived in their land,
they defiled it by their conduct and deeds.
Therefore I poured out my fury upon them
because of the blood that they poured out on the ground,
and because they defiled it with idols.
I scattered them among the nations,
dispersing them over foreign lands;
according to their conduct and deeds I judged them.
But when they came among the nations wherever they came,
they served to profane my holy name,
because it was said of them: "These are the people of the Lord,
yet they had to leave their land."
So I have relented because of my holy name
which the house of Israel profaned
among the nations where they came.
Therefore say to the house of Israel: Thus says the Lord God:
Not for your sakes do I act, house of Israel,
but for the sake of my holy name,
which you profaned among the nations to which you came.
I will prove the holiness of my great name, profaned among the nations,
in whose midst you have profaned it.
Thus the nations shall know that I am the Lord, says the Lord God,
when in their sight I prove my holiness through you.
For I will take you away from among the nations,
gather you from all the foreign lands,
and bring you back to your own land.
I will sprinkle clean water upon you
to cleanse you from all your impurities,
and from all your idols I will cleanse you.
I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you,
taking from your bodies your stony hearts
and giving you natural hearts.
I will put my spirit within you and make you live by my statutes,
careful to observe my decrees.
You shall live in the land I gave your fathers;
you shall be my people, and I will be your God.

Psalm 42: 3, 5; 43: 3, 4

R. (42:2) Like a deer that longs for running streams, my soul longs for you, my God.

Athirst is my soul for God, the living God.
When shall I go and behold the face of God?

R. Like a deer that longs for running streams, my soul longs for you, my God.

I went with the throng
and led them in procession to the house of God,
Amid loud cries of joy and thanksgiving,
with the multitude keeping festival.

R. Like a deer that longs for running streams, my soul longs for you, my God.

Send forth your light and your fidelity;
they shall lead me on
And bring me to your holy mountain,
to your dwelling-place.

R. Like a deer that longs for running streams, my soul longs for you, my God.

Then will I go in to the altar of God,
the God of my gladness and joy;
then will I give you thanks upon the harp,
O God, my God!

R. Like a deer that longs for running streams, my soul longs for you, my God.


Isaiah 12: 2-3, 4BCD, 5-6

R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.

God indeed is my savior;
I am confident and unafraid.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
With joy you will draw water
at the fountain of salvation.

R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.

Give thanks to the LORD, acclaim his name;
among the nations make known his deeds,
proclaim how exalted is his name.

R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.

Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement;
let this be known throughout all the earth.
Shout with exultation, O city of Zion,
for great in your midst
is the Holy One of Israel!

R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.

Romans 6: 3-11

Brothers and sisters:
Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus
were baptized into his death?
We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death,
so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead
by the glory of the Father,
we too might live in newness of life.

For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his,
we shall also be united with him in the resurrection.
We know that our old self was crucified with him,
so that our sinful body might be done away with,
that we might no longer be in slavery to sin.
For a dead person has been absolved from sin.
If, then, we have died with Christ,
we believe that we shall also live with him.
We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more;
death no longer has power over him.
As to his death, he died to sin once and for all;
as to his life, he lives for God.
Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as being dead to sin
and living for God in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 118: 1-2, 16-17, 22-23

R. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his mercy endures forever.
Let the house of Israel say,
"His mercy endures forever."

R. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

The right hand of the Lord has struck with power;
the right hand of the Lord is exalted.
I shall not die, but live,
and declare the works of the Lord.

R. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
By the Lord has this been done;
it is wonderful in our eyes.

R. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Mark 16: 1-7

When the sabbath was over,
Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome
bought spices so that they might go and anoint him.
Very early when the sun had risen,
on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb.
They were saying to one another,
"Who will roll back the stone for us
from the entrance to the tomb?"
When they looked up,
they saw that the stone had been rolled back;
it was very large.
On entering the tomb they saw a young man
sitting on the right side, clothed in a white robe,
and they were utterly amazed.
He said to them, "Do not be amazed!
You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified.
He has been raised; he is not here.
Behold the place where they laid him.
But go and tell his disciples and Peter,
'He is going before you to Galilee;
there you will see him, as he told you.'"

– Rappler.com

Marinduque high school students win Battle of the Morions


DEDICATION. Students of Landy National High School perform 'Agony in the Garden' in a festive beat. Photo courtesy of Santa Cruz Municipal Tourism Office

MARINDUQUE, Philippines — The usually quiet Marinduque turns into a tourist destination during its peak season, Holy Week.

Here, there is no age limit to wearing the traditional 10-kilogram morions – or masks depicting the faces of Roman centurions – and joining different cultural competitions.

In fact, this year, the youth of Landy National High School (LNHS) in Santa Cruz, Marinduque, bagged the 2018 Battle of the Morions grand champion title. 

The Battle of the Morions, or Moryonan, aims to encourage towns and schools to train the new generation in making morions and costumes, seen as a source of income for communities and out-of-school youth.

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-video" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Students of Landy National High School perform their Moryonan piece in a festive beat. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HolyWeek2018?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HolyWeek2018</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/rapplerdotcom?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@rapplerdotcom</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/MovePH?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MovePH</a> <a href="https://t.co/q0SpyDC3dV">pic.twitter.com/q0SpyDC3dV</a></p>&mdash; Abigail Abigan (@eyabigan) <a href="https://twitter.com/eyabigan/status/979337030248357888?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 29, 2018</a></blockquote><script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

In an interview, John Arvin Remulin, 14, and Mayvin Pilar 15, both students of LNHS, recalled their experiences during the training and competition. They said these made them understand the essence of the tradition.

It was the first time of LNHS to join the Moryonan. They reenacted the Agony in the Garden, while some performances depicted the miracle and beheading of Longinus, the crucifixion, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Weng Historillo, trainor of LNHS, said he saw how the students appreciated the story.

"Kasi hindi naman sila mahilig magbasa ng Bible. Nakikita lang nila sa TV or naririnig sa simbahan. Siguro sa time ng practice namin, nakita kong mas nakita nila 'yung istorya, naintindihan nila 'yung nangyari sa garden ng Gethsemane," Historillo said.

(They don't often read the Bible. They usually just see it on TV or hear about it in church. But during our practice, I witnessed how they understood the story of what happened in the Garden of Gethsemane.)

"Hindi lang sila natuto sa pagsayaw. Nakita ko natuto rin sila na maging disiplinado para sa buhay nila," he added.

(They didn't just learn how to dance. I saw that they also learned how to be disciplined.)

When asked how they can relate their performance to their daily lives, Pilar said: "Du'n po namin nakikita 'yung pag-iingat ni Jesus sa mga tao. Maihahalintulad namin 'yon sa pag-aalaga sa amin ng mga magulang namin, kahit pasaway kami... Mas naintindihan at na-appreciate namin sila ngayon."

(We realized how Jesus really takes care of His people. We can compare it to how our parents care for us even though we're hardheaded. We can now understand them and appreciate them more.) – Rappler.com

‘Humans of New York’ features inspiring story of Filipino soon-to-be teacher


COURAGE. Despite trials, JP Villanueva kept going to support his family. Photo from Humans of New York/Facebook

MANILA, Philippines – "I think I've already learned a special skill that teachers have to keep their personal problems out of the classroom."

This is what 20-year-old John Patrick "JP" Villanueva said on his 'Humans of New York' (HONY) feature that sums up how inspiring his outlook is in life regardless of how unfair life could be. 

JP recently graduated from the Universidad de Manila with the degree of Bachelor of Secondary Education Major in Social Science. He was optimistic all along, saying, "my goal ever since I experienced this kind of hardship is I am going to graduate no matter what."

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It all started when JP's father was killed on December 21, 2013. JP was used to living in the slum area but this is a familiar place that gives him difficulty since he's afraid the people who plotted to kill his father would come back. "I learned I can die at any moment so I better make the most out of it," he said.

After the death of his father, JP said his mother got addicted to gambling which later on brought financial problems to them. He figured out the addiction was happening because his mother talked about it to people and she had casino card and coupons.

As the eldest among 3 siblings, JP had no other way but to step up for the family. He juggled selling portrait artworks and tutoring elementary and high school students. "The reason why I kept going is because I don't want to put her and my dad's efforts in vain. I don't want my late father to get disappointed," he said.

ARTWORK. One of JP's portrait artworks that was left behind when fire broke out. Photo from JP Villanueva

After a fire broke out last February 17, 2017 at their place, JP and his mother stayed in Delpan Evacuation Center in Tondo, Manila for 6 months. His brother stayed with his friends while his sister lived with their aunt during that time. Unfortunately, JP said they were forced to leave the evacuation center. 

He opted to look for a new place to stay while his mother moved to their uncle's house. JP lived at his chuch leader's house and after 2 months, moved to his churchmate's house. In December 2017, his mother got a small capital to start selling calamansi at Divisoria night market. This also paved way for their family to be able to rent a room in the slum area so JP, his siblings, and his mother can live all together again.

JP said his mother changed when she became a Christian. "She repented from being a gambling slave to a hardworking solo parent. She's running the business just by herself."

As for JP's sister, she will graduate on April 6 from junior high school. His brother had to stop going to school last year to give way for him and his sister, and to help the family financially by working as a porter.  

CHRISTIAN. JP gives back to his church by serving. Photo from JP Villanueva

Looking back at his studies, JP shared he wanted to make his mother proud and show everyone that she's not useless. "She did well in raising me as a man. I want to help my mom in providing for our family. I was always thinking of my siblings' future and my future back then. I kept in mind, 'what would happen to them if I am going to give up?'"

JP wants to have a job as soon as he can now that he has graduated. He's looking forward to save money to pay for a review center and later on take the Licensure Examination for Teachers. "I want to be a teacher because it's a lifetime service for the country. I love to touch people's lives and educate them, not just to teach them," he said.

Reacting to his HONY feature, JP said he feels privileged. "The fact that I can make a little wave for the ocean to create bigger waves is amazing. I feel honored to share to them my life and how God's grace works in me."

SCHOOL. JP aspires to be a teacher someday. Photo from JP Villanueva

As an aspiring teacher, JP keeps the fire burning in him. "It is the sense of professionalism in the field of teaching. You can share what you have learned and experienced but they must not see that you are affected by it. You are the role model for future generations. If you show them you are weak, you're like teaching them how to give up when times of hardship come. Teachers enter the classroom as if they don't have anything going on in their lives, and still continue to teach as if they're okay even if they're broken inside. Teachers are very collective and that's what I admire the most." –Rappler.com 


To help JP and his family, you may send him a message on his Facebook or contact him at 0906-813-1009.

DepEd, PSC to train campus journalists for Palarong Pambansa 2018 coverage


MANILA, Phillippines – The Department of Education (DepEd) will tie up with the Philippine Sports Commission in training campus journalists to cover the 2018 Palarong Pambansa scheduled for April 15-21 in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur. 

According to the memorandum from DepEd Caraga obtained by Rappler, 4 campus journalists and a school publication adviser from the region had been invited to a two-day sports journalism seminar to be held April 13-14.

Rappler has reached out to Deped Public Affairs Services Assistant Secretary GH Ambat for more details about the activity, but she has yet to reply as of posting. 

This is the second time campus journalists have been invited to cover the annual schools-based sports event.

In 2017, Rappler trained around 120 campus journalists and school publication advisers under its Palaro Movers Program in partnership with Deped. These campus journalists were the finalists and winners in the National Schools Press Conference (NSPC) in Pagadian City that same year. They were taught the basics of storytelling, social media executions, photojournalism, and video production for the 5-day coverage of the Palarong Pambansa in San Jose de Buenavista, Antique.

This year, Deped abruptly terminated its partnerships with Rappler in the NSPC and Palaro, citing the Security and Exchange Commission's revocation of Rappler's license to operate. (READ: Briones: No exclusivity, money involved in Rappler-DepEd partnership)

Before this, the SEC itself had clarified that the online news organization could continue its operation because its decision is not yet "final and executory." Rappler has elevated the case to the Court of Appeals. – Rappler.com

U.P. hosts forum on dangers of perpetuating fake news


MANILA, Philippines – As dummy accounts on social media gain more traction each day, coupled with the curtailment of press freedom, the University of the Philippines Diliman hosted "[M]ULAT: A Humanistic Approach to the Philppine Culture of Disinformation," a forum on why and how fake news is processed.

The timely discussion, held on April 5, explored how a culture of false information is propagated, from the way it is generated to the way it is spread and ultimately accepted by the public.

Fake news and the mind

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF FAKE NEWS. UP psychology professor Diwa Malaya Quinones speaks on the cognitive processes that happen when people receive information. Photo by Gari Acolola/Rappler

“We perceive social world through rose-colored glasses,” said UP psychology professor Diwa Malaya Quinones, who explained how the mind processes information.  

According Quinones, people tend to accept assimilated information based on their current knowledge, value systems, and political ideologies. The same goes for social media, where people are inclined to to accept even click-bait, fraudulent headlines as true as long as they align with their beliefs.

Be it “Ka-DDS” or “Dilawans,” Quinones said that all groups are biased.

Kapag sa fake news, ang tendency ay tanggapin na lang ang impormasyon para maprotektahan ang identity ko at grupo ko (When it comes to fake news, the tendency is to accept information to protect my identity and my group),” said Quinones.  

As such, regardless of truth value, Quinones said that fake news will still be a resource that creates social conflicts between political groups.

The creation of fake news

Echoing Quinones, Pamela Combinido of Newton Tech4Dev presented their study on how fake news campaigns under the Duterte administration are designed and systematically spread using new technologies and industries. (READ: Chief disinformation architects in the PH: Not exactly who you think)

PROPAGANDA WAR. Pamela Combinido of Newton Tech4Dev presents their study on how the Duterte government uses social media to spread propaganda. Photo by Gari Acolola/Rappler

“Network disinformation is the outcome of political deception and has its roots in PR and advertisement,” said Combinido.  

According to her, there are 3 groups involved when paid content is posted. Chief architects of disinformation are those who frame certain issues based on a certain political agenda. This framing of issues is then passed on to digital influencers, who use humorous and catchy language in order to engage organic followers. Lastly, it is the trolls, bots, and fake accounts who give these posts more traction through comments, likes, shares, and retweets.

Combinido also asked the audience, “If we are looking at the current government now, can we trust them to strenghten a democratic society?”

Disinformation and the media

MEDIA ATTACKS. Professor Rachel Khan, chairperson of the UP Department of Journalism emphasizes the real effects of silencing the press. Photo by Gari Acolola/Rappler

Professor Rachel Khan, chairperson of the UP Department of Journalism, explained how attacks on press freedom and media companies are not imaginary, but a blatant threat to the foundations of Philippine democracy.  

“I am very afraid of charter change because with the current Constituion, we can at the very least assert our right to freedom of the press," Khan said.

In combating fake news, Quinones, Combinido, and Khan encourage all Filipinos to not only be media consumers, but also media producers.

With social media and the available technologies that aid the spread of information, there is a need to question industries responsible for propagating fake news, but also a duty to actively fact check what is fed to us.

“The fight starts with fact-checking before you hit the button share, and being proactive in sharing what people need to know rather than just voyeurism," Khan said. – Rappler.com

Gari Acolola is a student at the University of the Philippines. She is a former Rappler intern.

Netizens hit UP regent for 'arrogant' comments vs critics


MANILA, Philippines — It all started with a simple post on his Facebook page on Friday, April 6, relaying an announcement from the director of the University of the Philippines Office of Admissions: "The UPCAT results shall be out by April 30, 2018."

The post of University of the Philippines (UP) Board of Regents member Frederick “Spocky” Farolan soon drew many comments. Farolan responded to questions, but later lost his cool and hit back at some commenters who made snide remarks about UP and the delayed release of the UP College Admission Test results.

"Forgive me for saying this...pero 'yung mga kung makahirit e parang hulog ng Diyos kayo para sa UP, siguraduhin 'nyo lang na papasa kayo ng UPCAT. Dahil kung hindi, lalaitin ko pati kaibuturan ng kaluluwa niyo," said Farolan in the comments section of his Facebook post.

(Forgive me for saying this...but to those who are criticizing us and acting as if they are God's gift to UP, make sure you're going to pass the UPCAT. Because if you don't, I will insult you to the very core of your soul.)

"Ipapatikim ko sa iyo ang purong panlalait ng isang tunay na pumasa ng UPCAT at nakapagtapos 'di lamang ng undergrad pero pati na ng law sa UP (I'll give you a taste of pure insult coming from a person who truly passed the UPCAT and who finished not just his undergraduate degree but also his law degree from UP)," he said.

He also has a message for those who made apparently stinging comments on his post who will end up passing the UPCAT 2018. "At kung makapasa kayo, sisiguraduhin ko na magkikita tayo at malalaman 'nyo ang kahulugan ng katagang 'consequences of your actions.' Siguraduhin niyong kaya 'nyo panindigan 'yang mga hirit 'nyo."

(And if you pass, I'll make sure that we will meet and you will know the true meaning of 'consequences of your actions.' Make sure that you can stand by your comments.)

Netizens called out Farolan for being "arrogant" and for displaying online behavior not becoming for a public official.

Here's what they said:


<a class="twitter-timeline" data-partner="tweetdeck" href="https://twitter.com/MovePH/timelines/982578044513632256?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">Netizens vs. Farolan - Curated tweets by MovePH</a> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>


On Twitter, Farolan apologized for losing his temper.


<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">I apologize for my temper.<br><br>As for the how they felt degraded, I request that they apologize as well to all the UP personnel they make out to be sleeping on the job and intentionally delaying the release.<br><br>Medyo hindi pa ganun kalamig ulo ko about this so try asking me later.</p>&mdash; Atty. Spocky Farolan (@AttySpocky) <a href="https://twitter.com/AttySpocky/status/982541479640842242?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">April 7, 2018</a></blockquote>
<script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>



<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Thanks<br>But please check the thread. <br>It was providing information for those who needed and clamored for it. <br>Criticisms and questions were answered fully.<br>But when mud is thrown, I have a tendency of throwing back boulders. <br>Sorry for losing my temper though.<br>Here&#39;s the orig post <a href="https://t.co/sQy7aUwn7N">pic.twitter.com/sQy7aUwn7N</a></p>&mdash; Atty. Spocky Farolan (@AttySpocky) <a href="https://twitter.com/AttySpocky/status/982538097580638208?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">April 7, 2018</a></blockquote>

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

One netizen deftly encapsulated what went down in Farolan's social media thread, and even Farolan agreed.


<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Nice. I deserve that one. Nicely delivered. :-)</p>&mdash; Atty. Spocky Farolan (@AttySpocky) <a href="https://twitter.com/AttySpocky/status/982545570769256448?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">April 7, 2018</a></blockquote>

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Farolan assured applicants and their parents that UP is doing all it can to release the UPCAT results as soon as possible.

"Some officials like me have been breathing down [the] necks of concerned offices as well. But there really are limitations given the volume," he said.

What do you think of Farolan's remarks? Let us know in the comments. – Rappler.com

How solar-powered lamps empower women in Camarines Sur community


Oliva Postrado finds the solar lamp very helpful, aside from it's many uses, she can also save money supposed to be paid for electricity costs. Photo by WWF Philippines

MANILA, Philippines – In a coastal village in Sagñay, Camarines Sur, fishermen’s wives are doing their share to protect their environment.

As members of the Sagñay Tuna Fishers Association (STFA), women leaders are rising from the ranks as members of their “Bantay Dagat” (sea patrol) team assigned to safeguard and monitor the 40-hectare marine protected and mangrove areas in their community.

Armed with solar lamps, Oliva Postrado, 51, helped enforce local fishing laws and participate in fishermen training in her community. Aside from serving as a local volunteer, she also sells fish and local food delicacies in her village. When she’s at home she also uses the lamps to do household chores which sometimes lasts until late at night. (READ: Home solar panels: a beginner's guide to saving electricity)

“Having a portable and rechargeable solar lamp sure is handy. We use it in our monitoring station when we patrol the seas and at home when I have to do chores. It helps lessen my electricity bills and I no longer need to buy kerosene fuel for lighting.” Postrado said. 

Using solar lamps helps improve living conditions in households – from helping with children’s school work, doing chores, to cooking food and going to the bathroom.

From using solar lamps, Postrado's household can save up to P120 a week from fuel and electricity costs. These savings are channeled to their most basic needs, especially food. For a fisherman’s family of 5 who earns P450-P950 for every fishcatch at least 3 times a week, every peso counts. (READ: How practical is solar power for PH home owners?)

Using solar lamps is safer compared to gas lamps, which require constant attention, pumping air to keep the light burning which can be hazardous when left unattended.

The portable solar lamps offer a wide range of advantages. It can float and stay lit underwater and can also charge phones allowing fishers to remain in contact with their families.

“My husband uses the solar lamp to charge his phone so we can stay in touch especially when he's out for days in the sea to catch tuna and other fish. It comforts me to know that he’s safe,” Postrado said. (READ: Why solar power needs to happen now)

Almost a year ago, STFA was also able to get support from World Wide Fund (WWF) through a Wisions grant to support sustainable fishing in the Philippines.

As part of the project, 34 solar-powered rechargeable lamps were provided to STFA. One solar lamp was donated to the “Bantay Dagat” (sea patrol) station in Atulayan island to help the community monitor and counter illegal fishing activities in the protected area.

The rest of the solar lamps were distributed to the fishermen as part of their organization's income-generating project, supporting livelihood and fishing activities to help fishermen save on fuel costs. (READ: How cheaper solar power could disrupt the energy sector)

Other than that, a solar-powered battery charging station was built at the community fish landing center. These resources were built to further enhance sustainable fisheries in tuna-rich areas like Lagonoy Gulf in the Bicol region. WWF partnered with Solar Solutions Incorporated to support the installation and capacity building of STFA members who were trained to operate and manage the facility.

Six solar panels were installed on the fish landing center’s rooftop, which can generate up to 1,680 watts of solar energy.

This is transmitted to the hybrid inverter where solar energy is converted to electricity and stored in batteries used for charging. The battery charging station can daily charge up to 10 batteries that fishermen use for their boats.

This facility has the potential to serve thousands of fishermen who need to charge their boat batteries 3 times a week.

With this STFA aims to generate funds – collecting P15 to P70 each for charging small and big batteries, and P7 for cellphone charging. The funds that they raise cover association dues while the rest goes to a revolving fund for the charging station’s operations and other projects. Up to 3 members man the charging station daily. They are tasked to manage battery charging and ensure the upkeep and maintenance of the facility. The solar panels should be regularly cleaned using a damp cloth to remove the dust and stains to ensure that energy generation is optimal.

“Now that we manage a solar-charging station, we can now help fishing operations become more cost-efficient in our area. Through more training with the help of NGO’s and the local government we can further support the growth and development of our local fisheries here in Sagñay,” Postrado explained.

Women like Postrado are using solar energy to become more active participants in protecting the environment while improving their livelihood.

Harnessing solar energy through small off-grid systems to power community livelihood and provide basic energy solutions is a big first step in ensuring energy access especially for people who hardly have any resources for electrification.

These improvements are uplifting the lives of families while enhancing their productivity. With the help of climate-smart technologies, these people can cope with climate change as they work together to help build environment and community resilience — Rappler.com

Aaron Aspi is the Energy Communications Officer for World Wide Fund-Philippines 

How a Filipino from Capiz became top foreign cadet


BORN TO SERVE. Kennon John Aguilar, coming from a line of military men, always knew he was going to serve the military himself. Photo courtesy of Kennon John Aguilar

MANILA, Philippines – Even as a child, Capiz City native Kennon John Aguilar knew he was going to serve in the Philippine Army.

He came from a line of military men. His father served in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and his grandfather was in the Philippine Constabulary. 

So when time came for him to choose a career, he joined the Philippine Military Academy without hesitation. 

Aguilar's talent and passion for military service was eminent. In 2013, he was among the few chosen in his class to join the Foreign Service Academy Program, where promising students are sent to different military schools abroad. 

The screening process was hard, Aguilar said. Only the top 50 of each class were picked for the initial screening. These 50 cadets then took another set of examinations that tested not only their academic proficiency, but also their physical and practical capabilities. 

Aguilar was one of 5 cadets chosen to be sent to different military schools in South Korea. Their goal was simple: represent the country well, learn another culture, and be the best cadet they can be.

Studying in South Korea 

Unlike the PMA's tri-service curriculum, aspiring cadets in Korea already have to choose among different military schools specialized for the training of soldiers for the army, air force, or navy. Aguilar joined the Korea Air Force Academy.

It's no secret that studying in a military school, no matter what country, is difficult. But it's even harder for foreign students like Aguilar who have to deal with the language barrier.

The whole curriculum was in Korean, and very few spoke English in their class. Aguilar had to spend almost a year studying the language at the Korean Defense Language Institute before starting his courses in military science and systems engineering.

Good thing Aguilar was able to adapt quickly, and even made friends with his Korean schoolmates. He said adaptability, after all, is a trait Filipinos are known for.

LANGUAGE BARRIER. The cadet life was extra harder for Aguilar who had to learn a foreign language. Photo from Kennon John Aguilar

Then of course, there's the tough military grind. Military education puts great emphasis on discipline and hardwork, so Aguilar and his classmates' schedules are packed with activities designed to train them holistically as soldiers.

His days start early in the morning with a road run, and their classes begin by 8 am. By 4 pm, they dedicate a whole hour for athletics and club activities. They then have to study again from 7 to 9 pm.

Alone and surrounded by foreigners, homesickness would kick in every now and then. Often, Aguilar would miss his family back home and long for conversations in Filipino.

At times like this, Aguilar was glad there are many other kababayans (countrymen) living and working in South Korea. On his free days and during holidays, he spent time with Filipinos who welcomed him to their homes.

"Nakatulong sila ma-ease yung homesickness ko. Nakaka-miss naman po talagang magsalita in your own langauage, at makipagbiruan kasama ang ibang mga Pinoy," he said. (They helped ease my homesickness. I missed speaking our own language, making jokes with fellow Filipinos.)  

Top cadet 

It didn't take long for Aguilar to shine in his new school again.

On his third year, he was given the Honorable Cadet Award for his good character. He also represented his school for a student research competition, where he won second best presentation, beating 20 other presenters from different schools in South Korea. His thesis proposed a solution for Metro Manila's traffic problem using intelligent transport systems.

BEST THESIS. Kennon John Aguilar's thesis won second best in a competition, beating students from different Korea schools. Photo from Kennon John Aguilar

By March this year, Aguilar graduated from the academy and was awarded as their class' top foreign cadet. Among the 142 graduates, he was also one of 5 cadets named as most outstanding cadet officers. Aguilar was the only foreigner to receive this award.

It was an amazing feat. Aguilar, after all, just graduated with flying colors from one of the military schools of South Korea, a country known for its superior military strength.

How did he do it? Countless sleepless nights, and the thought that he's representing the country. 

"You need to prove yourself, because you're a visitor. You need to perform much better, dahil pinadala ka ng ibang bansa (because they sent you to another country)," he said.

Serving the country

PROUD PARENTS. Capiz City native Kennon John Aguilar's parents joined him for his graduation in March 2018.

Now that his stint in South Korea is over, Aguilar is back to serve the Philippines again – this time, as a regular officer for the Philippine Air Force.

He brings with him the knowledge and technical expertise he learned studying in South Korea, where a dozen of our own fighter jets came from.

"In the Philippines, in PMA, we're not allowed to fly until after graduation. But here, we already have experience flying while we're still cadets. So upon graduation, we already have basic knowledge on flying," Aguilar explained when asked about the major difference between studying here in the Philippines and South Korea,

On deciding where to go next, Aguilar follows one guiding principle: "Think of all the ways, the things that you can impart to the institution, instead of your own career."

It's something he learned from his father, who showed him there is no greater honor than to live a life of service to the country. – Rappler.com 

VIRAL: San Pablo students dance in one-of-a-kind graduation rites


GRADUATION RITES. Students of San Jose National High School in San Pablo City perform a flash mob after their graduation rites. Screenshot from Facebook video

MANILA, Philippines — Usually, graduation rites end with long closing remarks or emotional community singing, but these students in San Pablo City, Laguna, find this too mainstream.

A video of students doing a flash mob in a remix of "We're All in This Together" from American movie High School Musical, and other popular songs, caught online attention. It now has more than 1.7 million views and 50,887 shares as of posting time.

The video of dancing students from San Jose National High School taken on Friday, April 6, made netizens wish they could be high school students again.  

Here's what netizens have to say:


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Rappler reached out to the teacher who uploaded the video, but she has yet to ask permission from her school principal before she can entertain our interview request.

Indeed, these students brought their once-in-a-lifetime high school graduation to the next level. – Rappler.com

What makes you graduation program memorable and unique? Share them on X!

[Right of Way] Stop human traffic cones


In this episode of "Right of Way," road safety advocate Vince Lazatin makes the case to stop using traffic enforcers as human traffic cones and instead focus on enforcement.

He says it’s a waste of human resources, and that these traffic enforcers are unnecessarily putting their lives on the line.

Got any traffic, transport, and road safety woes? Send them to rightofway@rappler.com. – Rappler.com


UST students protest removal of 'abstain' vote in student council elections


MANILA, Philippines – Aspiring student leaders of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) joined calls from the student body to restore abstain votes in the UST Central Student Council (CSC) elections after abstentions were removed in this year's university-wide polls.

Four out of 6 posts in last year’s CSC polls have been removed from ballots due to abstain votes, the UST Central Commission on Elections (COMELEC) said.

Independent public relations officer (PRO) candidate Jeremiah Pasion filed an appeal with the UST Central COMELEC, urging the commission to reconsider its ruling on abstentions.

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“The removal of ‘abstain’ in the ballots not only tramples upon the democratic right of Thomasians to express their choice if they want to approve or reject certain candidates,” Pasion said.

Secretary bets Carol Anne Balita and Robert Dominic Gonzales also called for the retention of abstentions in this year's elections.

In a tweet, Balita said students "opt to abstain from choosing those who don't represent the student body."


<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">In the extent of our judgment of the candidates, we opt to abstain from choosing those who don&#39;t represent the student body.<br><br>Let the students be. Don&#39;t restrain us from our freedom to choose! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RetainAbstain?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RetainAbstain</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/UpholdDemRights?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#UpholdDemRights</a></p>&mdash; Carol Balita ✊ (@casbalita) <a href="https://twitter.com/casbalita/status/982597509666095112?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">April 7, 2018</a></blockquote>
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Meanwhile, Gonzales called "for a speedy future amendment" of the UST Students' Election Code (USEC) of 2011 for the retention of abstentions in student polls.

"Let us empower everyone to practice their right to vote. If you deem it necessary not to vote for a candidate, you have the freedom of choice," Gonzales said.


<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="und" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RetainAbstain?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RetainAbstain</a><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FightForDemRights?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#FightForDemRights</a> <a href="https://t.co/ITPzTVrIsA">pic.twitter.com/ITPzTVrIsA</a></p>&mdash; Robert Gonzales (@robertkaaatz) <a href="https://twitter.com/robertkaaatz/status/982596171934744576?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">April 7, 2018</a></blockquote>
<script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> {/source}

Other CSC candidates have yet to publicly comment on the issue. 

‘Attack on democratic rights’

In a press conference on March 8,  the UST Central COMELEC announced there would be no “abstain” option in ballots to be used in the upcoming elections, but students could leave the ballots unanswered.

This move is in accordance with the order of the CSC Central Judiciary Board (CJB) regarding last year’s polls, which stated that including “abstain” in the ballots was a violation of the USEC.

 “Abstain” won the positions for president, vice president, treasurer, and auditor in last year’s elections, which various students have viewed as an expression of the student body's discontent with "traditional politics.”

The said posts were left vacant for the entire academic year.

Militant student group League of Filipino Students (LFS)-UST condemned the removal of abstentions in the upcoming elections as an attack on the democratic rights of students, and urged students to tweet using the hashtags #RetainAbstain and #UpholdDemRights.

Ang pagtanggal ng abstain vote ngayong CSC Elections ay isang direktang atake sa karapatang demokratiko ng mga Tomasino para magpasya at mamili ng kanilang lider (The removal of abstain vote in the CSC Elections is a direct attack on the democratic rights of Thomasians in voting and choosing their leaders),” LFS-UST stated.

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Several students also protested the removal of abstain votes using the two hashtags.


<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">We&#39;d rather choose abstain over position-hungry and crappy candidates. ABSTAIN is a statement in itself.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RetainAbstain?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RetainAbstain</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/UpholdDemRights?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#UpholdDemRights</a></p>&mdash; time + space. (@dropdeadmowey) <a href="https://twitter.com/dropdeadmowey/status/982577579751190528?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">April 7, 2018</a></blockquote>
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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="tl" dir="ltr">Isang porma ng harapang pambabastos sa BOSES at KARAPATAN ng mga tomasino ang pagtatangal ng abstain votes sa <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/USTHalalan2018?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#USTHalalan2018</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RetainAbstain?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RetainAbstain</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/UpholdDemRights?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#UpholdDemRights</a></p>&mdash; renz (@RNZquivel) <a href="https://twitter.com/RNZquivel/status/982579864027844610?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">April 7, 2018</a></blockquote>
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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The foundation of the student council elections is the studentry&#39;s democratic right to elect. Our choice not to elect anyone for a position should just be as valid. It&#39;s a protest vote that is meant to send a message across. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RetainAbstain?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RetainAbstain</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/UpholdDemRights?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#UpholdDemRights</a></p>&mdash; gian (@gianconel) <a href="https://twitter.com/gianconel/status/982614647546064897?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">April 7, 2018</a></blockquote>
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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Let the Thomasian student body have the option of not choosing anyone when they think no one deserves their vote. It is our democratic right, and removing abstain from the choices strips us away of that right. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RetainAbstain?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RetainAbstain</a></p>&mdash; Patricia Teves (@patriciativs) <a href="https://twitter.com/patriciativs/status/982653903664594944?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">April 7, 2018</a></blockquote>
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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="tl" dir="ltr">Karapatan ng isang estudyante ang pumili ng isang student-leader na alam nilang sasandig at itataguyod ang laban ng masang estudyante. Ang pagtanggal sa abstain sa balota ay ang pagtanggal sa kakayahang ito. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RetainAbstain?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RetainAbstain</a></p>&mdash; marc (@edisonagustin_) <a href="https://twitter.com/edisonagustin_/status/982895345192517632?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">April 8, 2018</a></blockquote>
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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="tl" dir="ltr">&#39;Wag natin hayaang mabaliwala ang tagumpay ng abstain noong nakaraan na eleksyon. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/UpholdDemRights?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#UpholdDemRights</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RetainABSTAIN?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RetainABSTAIN</a></p>&mdash; kat (@katongbascon) <a href="https://twitter.com/katongbascon/status/982617408392212480?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">April 7, 2018</a></blockquote>
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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">We NEED abstain..<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RetainAbstain?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RetainAbstain</a> <a href="https://t.co/WQCVjA3U3A">https://t.co/WQCVjA3U3A</a></p>&mdash; The UST Files (@TheUSTF) <a href="https://twitter.com/TheUSTF/status/982600304129490944?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">April 7, 2018</a></blockquote>
<script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> {/source}


<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="tl" dir="ltr">mga tr4p0 matapos tanggalin ang abstain sa balota <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RetainAbstain?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RetainAbstain</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/UpholdDemRights?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#UpholdDemRights</a> <a href="https://t.co/cn5X8nXiAQ">pic.twitter.com/cn5X8nXiAQ</a></p>&mdash; aerish #OverthrowDu30 (@sadtambay) <a href="https://twitter.com/sadtambay/status/982601695728320512?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">April 7, 2018</a></blockquote>
<script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> {/source}


<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">THE D IN MOMMY D STAND FOR DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RetainAbstain?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RetainAbstain</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/UpholdDemRights?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#UpholdDemRights</a> <a href="https://t.co/5msQ8g5Bo3">pic.twitter.com/5msQ8g5Bo3</a></p>&mdash; pork chao fan with dumplings (@gageaux) <a href="https://twitter.com/gageaux/status/982606759331184642?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">April 7, 2018</a></blockquote>
<script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> {/source}

The UST Central COMELEC has not commented on Pasion’s appeal nor on the statements of Gonzales and Balita. The university-wide polls are set to push through starting Wednesday, April 11, until April 21, Saturday.

The CJB ruling on abstentions, however, does not take effect in local student council elections where candidates losing to abstain votes are common, as their respective constitutions state specific provisions on abstentions and are autonomous from the CSC and the UST Central Comelec. –Rappler.com


Philip Jamilla studies Literature at the University of Santo Tomas. He is currently the executive editor of TomasinoWeb, UST’s official digital media organization. 



Rappler, UPLB to hold #FactsMatterPH forum in Laguna


MANILA, Philippines – What can be done to combat the use of digital platforms to undermine and weaken democracies? How can ordinary citizens take part in preventing the spread of disinformation online?

These are some of the questions that the forum "Disinformation and Online Threats to Press Freedom and Democracy" intends to answer.

As algorithms take over, unverified and inaccurate content proliferate and influence critical decisions.

This poses a problem as algorithms shape a significant part of public conversation spaces. Very few people understand how they influence conversations that shape public opinion, policies, and eventually, how countries are governed.

Read Rappler's propaganda war series:

The forum, organized by Rappler and the Journalism for Nation Building Foundation (JNBF) in partnership with the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) Department of Social Sciences and Department of Development Journalism, aims to explain the nature of disinformation online and to highlight the role of a free and independent press in preserving democracy.

The forum will be held on April 23 at the New College of Arts and Sciences Auditorium in UPLB. The program starts at 8 am.

Tickets to the forum are free, but seats are limited. Register below to secure your tickets now.

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Here is the program:

8:15 - 9:00 amRegistration
9:00 - 9:15 am

Welcome remarks
Professor Dwight Diestro
Chair, UPLB-CAS Department of Social Sciences


9:15 - 9:45 am

Fake News and Other Threats to Press Freedom
Chay Hofileña
Acting Managing Editor, and Head of Investigative and Research Unit, Rappler


9:45 - 10:30 am

Press Freedom and Democracy
Dabet Castañeda-Panelo
Secretary General, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines


10:30-11:00 am Panel discussion: Situation of the national/local press
  • Campus Journalists
  • Community Journalists

Moderated by:
Raisa Serafica
Head of Civic Engagement, Rappler


11:00 - 11:15 am

Open Forum


11:15 - 11:30 am

Closing Remarks
Professor Kabzeel Sheba Catapang
Chair, UPLB-CDC Department of Development Journalism



The forum will be attended by at least 250 campus journalists, student organization leaders, school paper advisers, and other stakeholders to help them understand the nature of digital platforms and spark a conversation around opportunities and threats to journalism and democracy in these trying times.

An invite-only workshop on fact-checking and responsible use of social media for social good will also be held at the College of Development Communication Lecture Room 1 (CDC-LR1) at 1 pm.– Rappler.com