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Bar topnotchers and their passions: Poverty, health, political dynasties


CLOCKWISE: Top 3 Camille Remoroza from Ateneo de Davao, Top 6 Lorenzo Luigi Gayya from UST, Top 18 Aecaya Christine Calero from UST and Top 9 Klinton Torralba from UST

MANILA, Philippines – Every batch of new lawyers gives the country hope that not only is there fresh perspective coming in to the world of law, there is also idealism to fuel the pursuit of justice.

We talked to some of the examinees who placed in the 2017 Bar about their passions, their dream first client, and whether they would consider working for government. They are among the 1,724 new lawyers, part of the 24.55% who made the cut and survived the gruelling exams.

Government work

Bar Top 3 Camille Remoroza from Ateneo de Davao is already working for government. She is part of the legal staff of Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao Rodolfo M. Elman. 

“I think the highest form of service that one can give to our country is to be the 'watchdog' of the government. The Ombudsman does that. As they say, public office is a public trust. Working for this government is a sacred privilege, it demands integrity. But, with the Ombudsman, it demands more than that. Being part of the Ombudsman really challenged me to become a better person, and ultimately a better Filipino,” Remoroza said.

Top 6 Lorenzo Luigi Gayya from the University of Santo Tomas (UST) interned for the Public Attorneys Office (PAO) in law school. Their work there, he said, inspired him to become a lawyer for the less forturnate.

“Poverty, it’s always an issue. I’ve always wanted to change the notion that justice is only for those who can pay. Somehow and someday when I obtain the means and the skills, I want to work towards securing justice for those who have less in life,” Gayya said.

Gayya was already working for a private firm when he passed the Bar, something he said he would continue for now.

“I plan to be a litigation lawyer – the type who gathers information and evidence, prepares pleadings and argues before the court. This aspect of lawyering attracts me and I feel like this is something I'm meant for,” Gayya said. (WATCH: 'Anak, pasado ka!' and other victorious 2017 Bar moments)

Image from Supreme Court (1 of 2)


Political dynasties

Bar Top 6 Klinton Torralba from UST said he doesn’t see himself working for government. “We can help the government even if we are not directly employed by it,” Torralba said.

Interesting because he comes from a family of politicians in his hometown in Badoc, Ilocos Norte. His background urges Torralba to push for a law “regulating, not necessarily prohibiting” political dynasties.

“Political dynasty in not an evil per se, and so is power. It is those who wield it who will ultimately tell whether it will bring goodness or not. So let us not altogether prohibit political dynasty, let us just regulate and limit it. After all, our country does not lack brilliant people who can lead us to prosperity, they just need an opportunity. Let’s give it to them,” Torralba said.

Image from Supreme Court (2 of 2)

Health advocacy

Remoroza is a Nursing graduate, but not necessarily out of desire. She said she needed a scholarship to be able to go to college, and the Nursing program of San Pedro College in Davao City offered her an academic scholarship. She said she had planned to continue medical school.

Remoroza eventually decided that law, not medicine, was for her. But her nursing background inspires her to pursue health-related legislation (if she becomes a lawmaker) or health-related advocacies (if she pursues being a public attorney).

Remoroza said her dream first case is medical malpractice, either as plaintiff or defendant.

“I believe that compared to other countries, the Philippines is not yet very strong at pursuing medical malpractice cases. Only those who can afford can go against big hospitals and health professionals. I also think that my nursing background can help me a lot,” Remoroza said.


Torralba and Gayya, who both come from UST – currently embroiled in the high-profile hazing death case of freshman law student Horacio “Atio” Castillo III – oppose hazing.

“If passing a law is not sufficient to curtail hazing, I think the government must spend time researching on what makes joining fraternities contagious and sticky (borrowing concepts from Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point). It is only by answering these questions that we can finally solve this problem,” Torralba said.

Their fellow Thomasian, Bar Top 18  Aecaya Christine Calero, agrees with them. “I firmly maintain our stand, violence should not be tolerated in any form,” Calero said.

Calero’s stance against violence is personal; it was also what drove her to law school in the first place. (READ: 2017 Bar: Redemption for UST, sorrow for hazing victim Castillo's mom)

“I just want to help people who experienced physical and verbal abuse. I know how it feels like and if it is possible, I don’t want anyone else to experience it,” Calero said.

The rule of law has become a catchphrase in the Philippines in the past year, in both good and bad ways.

We asked the new lawyers what they think is the biggest threat to the legal profession. They all seem to agree the threat is coming from within their ranks.

“Lawyers who commit illegal acts,” Gayya said.

“There is no bigger threat to the legal profession, than us members of the bench and bar. There will be no corruption in the profession if the people in it are incorruptible,” Remoroza said. – Rappler.com

Thousands looking for work pack Labor Day job fairs


NO ROOM ENOUGH. Jobseekers from Metro Manila and nearby provinces line up at DOLE Job Fair. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines —  A total of 34,359 jobseekers across the country attended the different job fairs organized by Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in commemoration of Labor Day on Tuesday, May 1. 

At the end of the day, 4,304 (20.9%) of the thousands of applicants were hired on the spot, while 20,622 are qualified for positions and are set to undergo the hiring processes of the companies said a DOLE report.

Job fairs were held at the Quezon City Hall, Valenzuela Astrodome, Vista Mall, Tuktukan Taguig, Muntinlupa City Quadrangle and Manila City Hall, as well as in the cities of Iloilo, Cebu and Davao.

Among the crowd in Quezon City was Jose Acodile, a 48-year-old applicant with disability. He lost his left leg in 1984 as a driver.  While, according to him, using an artificial leg does not hinder him from performing various jobs, looking for a work that would accept him was another problem altogether. 

At the job fair in Quezon City, there were no special lanes for persons with disability (PWD) like him.

"Apply lang ng apply. Mahirap maging PWD. Pero kailangan magtrabaho sa hirap ng buhay ngayon. Kaya lakas loob ako, kasi hindi naman hadlang sa akin itong kapansanan ko. Sana lang magkaroon ng kahit konting pansin sa mga tulad namin, magtratrabaho naman kami para sa kanila, at kapalit non yung kailangan namin para mabuhay," Acodile told Rappler in an interview.

(Just keep applying. It's hard having a disability, but we need to work for a living. That's why I took this opportunity to look for a job. I just hope that they'll give a litte priority for people like me who have disabilities, because we're also willing to work for them in exchange for a livelihood.)

Everyone was treated equally at the job fair. NCR labor and employment regional director Henry Jalbuena said that even workers from Kuwait needed to line up in looking for a job.

"We don't have special lane for workers from Kuwait, all they have to do is to check job offers that suit for them. This is open to all," said Jalbuena said in a mix of Filipino and English.

He also encouraged jobseekers to apply in different companies as many as possible to get a high chance of being hired.

Vocational graduate Angelica Oronan, 20 years old, felt dismayed about the qualifications set during the fair.

"Madali nga ang proseso sa job fair kesa sa mga mismong agency pero mahirap naman mag-apply dahil sa mga qualifications. May height limit, age limit kaya pili lang talaga ang pwede. Tsagaan lang rin, para magkatrabaho," said Oronan.

(Though applying in job fairs is less tedious than going to an agency, it's still tough because of the qualifications. They have a height limit, age limit and so few qualify. We just have to keep trying harder to find work.)

For parents like Rex and Flor Alerta, the venue of the this year's job fair was a bit small because big number of applicants. The venues of previous fairs were also bigger. 

"Dati kasi maayos tignan, ngayon parang magulo, masikip yung lugar para sa dami ng naghahanap ng trabaho. Hindi kami makasugod kasi siksikan at mainit masyado. Sana sa susunod ay mas malaking pwesto," said Mrs. Alerta.

(The place was cramped and there were just too many job applicants. We could hardly move because of the crowd and the heat. They should hold it in a bigger plac next time.)

On May 1, President Rodrigo Duterte signed an executive order that prohibited illegal contracting/subcontracting or endo. However, labor groups were not appeased, saying that the EO did not include a key provision from the draft proposal of labor groups which mandated direct hiring of employees

"I hope endo will truly stop because it's hard when you're not sure if you still have a job for the next months or if you'll be able to find a good job afterwards," Oronan said in Filipino.

Meanwhile, DOLE Undersecretary Claro Arellano ensured the public that the department will continue to provide good programs and services to the Filipino workers.

The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) graduates offered free massage and haircut during the fair. 

Here are some photos in the DOLE Job Fair in Quezon City Hall:

Mang Buboy, a pen vendor took the Job Fair as an opportunity to sell more pens. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

Hundreds of job seekers trooped to Quezon City Hall to look for a vacant job in DOLE's Job Fair. Photo by Darren langit/Rappler

TESDA graduates offer free massage to hundreds of applicants. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

Some jobseekers grabbed the free haircut from TESDA graduates after they applied. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

Around 26,138 applicants were interviewed during the job fair in Quezon Cirty Hall. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

A total of 34,359 applicants registered in 2018 DOLE Job Fair at Quezon City Hall. Photo by Darren langit/Rappler

— Rappler.com

On World Press Freedom Day, rights groups urge public to support journalists



MANILA, Philippines – To mark World Press Freedom Day on Thursday, May 3, various rights groups highlighted the growing threats to press freedom as democratic institutions worldwide also come under attack.

In a joint declaration, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression David Kaye and rights experts emphasized the essential role of independent media in strengthening democracies.

“Attacks on journalists are deplorable and State authorities must do more to prevent them. These attacks stem in part from increasingly irresponsible framing of journalists as ‘enemies’ by political and business leaders, but are also aimed at deterring investigative reporting in the public interest," Kaye said.

"All those committed to independent and diverse media must join together now to stop such attacks,” he added. (READ: [OPINION] What does it even mean to be free?) 

This is especially true in the Philippines where, according to the Human Rights Watch (HRW), Filipino journalists observed the global event while under government attack.

“Filipino journalists, true to the tradition of political muckraking, corruption exposés, and wartime reporting, have often put their lives on the line, serving the Philippine people and democratic values in the process,” HRW Asia Division’s Carlos Conde said in a statement. (READ: In fighting disinformation and trolls, silence 'cannot be an option'

"It’s important that their efforts are supported – including by the Philippine Congress," Conde added. 

Filipino journalists under attack

This year's celebration of the global event comes amid continuing attacks against the Philippine press. The latest is the planned new regulations of the House of Representatives on media covering the beat. The proposal aims to allow Congress to ban reporters who “besmirch” the reputation of lawmakers.

Media groups and journalists have already slammed this proposal, describing it as dangerously ambiguous and stifling.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has also made repeated hostile statements against journalists to the point of justifying death threats against them

Among the main targets of the government’s attack against press has been the news website Rappler, which HRW described as “highly critical of the administration,” and the Philippine Daily Inquirer. (READ: Media watchdogs slam Malacañang ban on Rappler reporter

The government not only banned Rappler reporters from covering all presidential engagements in and out of the country, it has also initiated tax evasion and libel cases against the news organization.

On January 15, the Securities and Exchange Commission revoked Rappler's registration over ownership questions. The order is not yet final and executory, and is under appeal. (READ: Everything you need to know about Rappler's Malacañang coverage ban

Rappler, along with other news groups, called the SEC ruling a blow to Philippine press freedom.

Citing the Philippine media's experience and similar attacks against the press worldwide, Kaye said that "those acting on behalf of the State threaten journalism on political, legal and technological fronts."

"They abuse public resources by placing advertisements only with friendly outlets, assert financial or other forms of control, and promote or permit media concentrations," he added. 

The increasing attacks against the Philippine media have not gone unnoticed. The country's ranking in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index, has fallen 6 notches to 133 from 127 in 2017, out of 180 countries. – Rappler.com

For more stories on issues surrounding this year's celebration of World Press Freedom Day, visit: rappler.com/pressfreedom2018

WATCH: Campus journalists on why press freedom matters


MANILA, Philippines – How can campus journalists participate in defending press freedom? 

For World Press Freedom Day on Thursday, May 3, several campus journalists from different universities in Metro Manila shared with Rappler their thoughts on why campus journalism and press freedom is important in an era of fake news and disinformation.

It all starts on campus

For many of them, campus journalism helped mold critical thinking as Filipino youth. (READ: Why campus journalists should go beyond classrooms

For Aica Escarez, a 20-year-old student from the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), campus journalism honed her skills and her passion for communication.

"As a student...simula nung elementary (since elementary), I've been a managing editor of a newspaper, and this is how I saw the world, how I started my passion in communication," Escarez told Rappler. 

"This is where I saw that there are lots of problems that can be addressed by opening the eyes of the people," she added.

This was echoed by Franco Luna, a campus journalist from the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), who said that campus journalism is why he has come to believe in the potential of the youth.

"I've seen how campus journalism triggers critical thinking on campus," he said. "[Freedom of the press and freedom of expression] help people make informed decisions by themselves," Luna added.

Several students also noted how campus journalism can shape public opinion, and how this allows them to think critically about issues that are important to the country.

"Sila ang naghihimok sa mga mamamayan para kumilos sa kanilang demokratikong karapatan (Campus journalists encourage citizens to act according to their democratic rights)," said Josiah Antonio, 20 years old, from UP Diliman.

"Naniniwala ako na ang malayang pamamayag ay nagbibigay ng kritikal na pananaw ng ating kasaysayan, ng mga pangyayari ngayon (I believe that press freedom provides a critical perspective of our history and of current events)," said Luis Foronda, campus journalist from De La Salle University Manila.

Media in the age of disinformation

Another campus journalist from Ateneo, Gerald John Guillermo, also said campus journalism and the media are among the pillars of a democracy.

"Kung hindi natin ito bibigyan ng pansin or bibigyan ng diin, makikita natin ang patuloy na pagbagsak ng demokrasya (If we do not give it sufficient importance or emphasis, we will see the continuous erosion of democracy)," Guillermo said.

Other students also highlighted the significance of defending press freedom, especially in the age of fake news and disinformation. (READ: The different faces of press freedom violations vs campus journalists

The spread of fake news and disinformation has risen exponentially in recent years because of social media. These worldwide trends have posed a threat to the state of democracy in different countries, including the Philippines.

"I believe that it can serve as a training and a learning ground for us to be aware of the social issues that we encounter nowadays such as misinformation, disinformation," said Kristina Hernandez, 17, from San Beda University Manila. (READ: Journalists should always stand up against fake information

For Flint Osric Gorospe, a campus journalist from Polytechnic University of the Philippines Manila, press freedom is important in unveiling the truth.

"Naniniwala ako na mahalaga ang malayang pamamahayag dahil nakakatulong ito upang maisiwalat ang mga katotohanan sa mga pangyayari sa bansa, lalo pa't laganap ngayon ang fake news at ang akto ng disimpormasyon ay nagiging gawi na ng karamihan (I believe that press freedom is important because it helps unveil the truth about events in our country especially now that fake news is prevalent and spreading disinformation is becoming common practice for a lot of people)," Gorospe said.

Crissel Tenolete, 19, from UPLB, believes that an attack on media outlets is also an attack on the country's democracy. She asked her fellow students and campus journalists to take a stand against these media attacks.

"Let's fight against misinformation and disinformation and let us defend press freedom," Tenolete declared. (READ: Does the Campus Journalism Act protect press freedom?

For more stories on issues around this year's celebration of World Press Freedom Day, visit: rappler.com/pressfreedom2018– Rappler.com

[Right of Way] The Sucat and Bicutan Problem, Part 2: What about Bicutan?


In our Sucat episode, viewers have repeatedly pointed out another problematic road network as bad, if not worse – Bicutan. Road safety advocate Vince Lazatin drives to the interchange in question, which is considered another bane of motorists in Southern Metro Manila.

Join Vince as he takes us on a tour of yet another chokepoint in the clogged streets of the metro.

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

Philippine Collegian campus journos barred from taking editorial exams


MANILA, Philippines – Two campus journalists of the Philippine Collegian, University of the Philippines Diliman’s official student publication, were disqualified from the selection of the publication’s next editor-in-chief.

The Board of Judges (BOJ), led by UP Mass Communications Dean Elena E. Pernia, cited the candidates’ failure to meet residency requirements as the basis for disqualification from taking the 2018 Philippine Collegian Editorial Examinations. (READ: WATCH: Campus journalists on why press freedom matters)

In an article published by the Philippine Collegian, Marvin Ang and Richard Calayeg Cornelio, Kultura and Features writers for the Philippine Collegian, respectively, were deemed ineligible by the BOJ on the basis of their graduating statuses.

They were said to be in violation of Article IV, Section 13 of the Philippine Collegian Rules, which states that “the editor of the Philippine Collegian, while serving in the capacity, must continue to satisfy the same qualifications [of being enrolled in an undergraduate degree course carrying not less than the normal load prescribed for a regular student] and be free of the disqualifications governing eligibility to participate in the competitive examinations, as prescribed in these rules.”

Ang and Cornelio, who were not formally notified by the BOJ of their initial disqualification, were prohibited by the Board after deliberations on April 26. Based on the rules, they should be carrying no less than the normal load prescribed for a regular student who might assume the post of editor-in-chief for the next academic year. (READ: Why campus journalists should go beyond classrooms)

The two campus journalists stressed in their separate appeals to the BOJ that they intended to pursue further studies in undergraduate programs in the University. This would allow them to meet the residency prerequisite should they be chosen as the next editor-in-chief.

Both Ang and Cornelio also argued that their graduating statuses do not disqualify them from taking the examination per se, noting that as presently enrolled undergraduates, they satisfy the provisions of Article III, Section 8 of the Philippine Collegian Rules which outline the prerequisites for taking the examinations. (READ: Does the Campus Journalism Act protect press freedom?

In a response dated May 3, the BOJ reiterated its position that the two writers remain in violation of the editorial examinations’ provisions on residency.


<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">LOOK: UP CMC Dean Pernia’s reply to Marvin Ang and Richard Cornelio’s appeal after both were disqualified from taking the 2018 <a href="https://twitter.com/phkule?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@phkule</a> Editorial Examinations scheduled on Saturday, May 5. <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/BNYgckclqn">pic.twitter.com/BNYgckclqn</a></p>&mdash; Bong Santisteban (@bongsant1steban) <a href="https://twitter.com/bongsant1steban/status/992354903153504256?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 4, 2018</a></blockquote>
<script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>


Meanwhile, a letter of protest has been filed by incumbent College of Mass Communication chairperson Mikko Ringia against 3rd-year law student Jayson Edward San Juan.

According to Ringia, the Juris Doctor program is not a Bachelor’s degree, which stands as one of the prerequisites for eligibility, thus rendering San Juan unqualified for the examinations.

The list of qualified takers for the examinations is as follows: Mark Verndick Cabading, Maria Sopia Gozum, Hans Christian Marin, Beatrice Puente, and Jayson Edward San Juan (READ: The different faces of press freedom violations vs campus journalists)

On Friday, May 4, students and members of different publications staged a rally in front of Plaridel Hall to protest the BOJ's decision.


<iframe src="https://web.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fweb.facebook.com%2Fphkule%2Fposts%2F1680381835376090&width=500" width="500" height="592" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allow="encrypted-media"></iframe>


Pernia is yet to reply to Rappler's email seeking her comments on this issue.

The Philippine Collegian Editorial Examinations are scheduled on Saturday, May 5, 2018. — with reports from Juan Gregorio Lina/Rappler.com

WATCH: Stop the silence


Screenshot of the illustration made by Dr. Elspeth McInnes for Bahay Tuluyan's video

MANILA, Philippines – Not everyone has a happy childhood story to tell. 

A 2016 study of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) revealed that one in 5 children are sexually harassed in the Philippines. Worse, most of these  children experience violence in a place where they should feel most secure –  their own homes.  (READ: Most child abuse cases in PH happen at home – study)

According to the UNICEF study, the most common forms of child abuse are physical abuse (66.3%) and psychological violence (62.8%).

Beyond these figures are real stories of children who grew up struggling with the permanent wounds of abuse and harassment.  In an interview with Rappler in January, clinical psychologist Karina Therese Fernandez, executive director of Ateneo Bulatao Center for Psychology Services, explained that the effects of abuse are more "devastating" when the perpetrator is someone the victim knows and trusts.

"It's more devastating than some stranger in the dark because to begin with, when you abuse a child, it's trust that you break," she said.

Bahay Tuluyan depicted this in its compelling video, "Stop the Silence."

“You feel the disgust now. Abused children feel it forever,” Bahay Tuluyan said in the video. (READ: When kids don’t know they are victims of sexual abuse

Bahay Tuluyan, a non-governmental organization that provides a variety of services to prevent and respond to the exploitation of Filipino children, is focusing on helping children who experienced abuse in whatever form. – Rappler.com

For interested donors, you may contact Bahay Tuluyan at +632 254 0213

'King of the road': Meet the heir to the iconic Sarao jeepney business


KING OF THE ROAD. Philippine roads are not complete without the jeepney.

MANILA, Philippines – "From the ashes of war... to the hearts of the Filipinos."

That is how Edgardo "Ed" Sarao, the heir to the Sarao Motors business, describes the humble jeepney.

Ed is the son of Leonardo Sarao, one of the pioneers of the jeepney manufacturing industry.

How essential are jeepneys to the Philippines? For the heir of the jeepney company, it serves as "the blood of the city."

"It circulates. It goes everywhere. It transports people, goods – may interaction sa loob ng sasakyan (there is interaction inside the vehicle)," he added.

According to Ed, the jeepney has served as a melting pot for the community, where neighbors sit beside each other and strangers make the effort to help pass the fare from one end to another. (READ: The 15 passengers you'll meet on a Philippine jeepney)

He also mentioned how the jeepney functioned as a quintessential representation of who Filipinos are.

"It describes everything about Filipinos. Being artistic, creativeness, 'yung pagkaresilient niya, na in any situation nagagawan niya ng paraan (our being resilient, that in any situation, we find a way). The same as the jeepney, it rose from the ashes of war, parang (like a) phoenix."

Humble beginnings

Did you know that this cultural icon in the Philippines traces its history to World War II?

In 1953, Ed's father Leonardo started a small automotive shop in Las Piñas City. Leonardo drove a kalesa or horse-drawn carriage at that time.

Leonardo and his brothers saw the post-World War II devastation and realized they needed a way to help jumpstart the rehabilitation of Manila. They took the army jeeps left behind by American soldiers and converted them into a means of transporting building materials and people.

"Napagtuunang-pansin ng mga Filipino itong mga equipment ng mga US forces, isa na 'yung kanilang military jeep," the younger Sarao said.

(Filipinos noticed the equipment of the US forces, specifically their military jeep.)

"Na-fell in love 'yung mga Filipino na hanggang ngayon ay nasa ilalim pa rin ng mga – – deep inside the heart of the Filipinos. So doon nag-start 'yung jeepney," he added. 

(Filipinos fell in love [with the jeepney] and, until today, this love is deep inside their hearts. That's where the jeepney started.)

CONTINUING A LEGACY. Ed Sarao, son of Leonardo Sarao, is the heir to the Sarao Motors jeepney business.

King of the road

In a span of a decade, the small automotive shop grew into a corporation. Sarao Motors became the Philippines' pioneer jeepney manufacturer.

From starting with just a handful of employees, Sarao Motors employed around 300 workers in its heyday, the 1960s to 1980s. The company compound was expanded several times to accommodate the swell in production.

At its peak, the company would produce around 12 to 18 units per day. In those years, majority of jeepneys in Manila bore the Sarao brand proudly. (READ: Rethinking the jeepney)

Beyond the country, the ingenious means of public transportation was noticed as well. The company was asked to present some of its jeepney units at the 1964 New York World's Fair. In 1971, a jeepney made its way from Manila to London, and then around Europe, as part of the London-Manila Express roadshow.

Not even the Miss Universe pageant could resist the charms of what was lovingly called "The King of the Road." In 1974, Sarao jeepneys were used for the Miss Universe motorcade in Manila.

Breaking point

However, in 2000, the company hit a breaking point. 

Due to rising costs and changes in government regulations on transportation franchises, Sarao Motors had to halt production and let go of a number of its employees as well. In fact, sales had begun to dip as early as 1995.

It was a difficult decision by Leonardo, and the announcement was an emotional moment shared by the owners and their staff.

But the Saraos were intent on keeping production alive, for those whose livelihoods depended on the jeepney.

A few weeks after stopping production, Sarao Motors resumed work at a much lower scale, with the number of employees down to around 50.

JEEPNEY PRODUCTION. Sarao Motors scaled down production of jeepney units due to rising costs and changes in government regulations on transportation franchises.

Jeepney modernization

Ed is up for the challenge of modernizing one of the main modes of transportation in the Philippines. (LOOK: New jeepneys under PUV modernization program)

He acknowledges that there are shortcomings with the current design of the jeepney, especially in terms of being environment-friendly.

"It's a good idea," Ed said. "I go for the challenge... [so] right now we're doing prototypes na ipapakita sa public at tsaka sa Department of Transportation (to show to the public and to the DOTr). Just to show [that] besides doing [the] traditional jeepney, we can do something else, something else [that's] better and environment-friendly."

One of Ed's sons even built a prototype of what they call "the modern jeepney" for his college thesis at the De La Salle-College of St Benilde.

Ed, however, is appealing to the government and the people to be easy on the industry. (READ: Is the PUV modernization program 'anti-poor?')

"I think that 3-year plan nila about phasing out or upgrading, parang kulang eh. They should extend it to probably 5 or 10 years.... Dapat tingnan din nila siguro somewhere in the middle magkakaroon 'yan ng agreement na maganda," he said.

(I think their 3-year plan for phasing out or upgrading is too short. They should extend it to probably 5 or 10 years.... They should look at it somewhere in the middle to come up with a good agreement.)

Ed also said jeepney drivers need to pay more attention to rules and keep themselves educated on road etiquette. In fact, Sarao Motors teaches its drivers the proper ways to behave when on the road.

PHILIPPINE ICON. What's in store for the iconic jeepney?

Future of the jeepney

Will the jeepney still be around in 20 years?

"Yeah. Why not? As long as there are commuters and there are people operating it, nandiyan ang jeepney pa rin dahil... embedded sa mga hearts ng mga Filipino 'yan, sa mga puso nila (the jeepney will still be there because it's embedded in the hearts of Filipinos)," said Ed.

With the modernization program set by the Duterte administration, Ed said the jeepney will have to keep up as well. (READ: PUV modernization: Planning, readiness issues raised at House hearing)

"Probably it will evolve into something better, even the end-users, the drivers, may be more well-educated already by that time. But, definitely, the jeepney will still be there," Ed said in a mix of Filipino and English.

For now, Ed Sarao is grateful to stand at the helm of the jeepney industry. More than managing the company his father started decades ago, he sees his purpose in helping others reach their dreams and provide for their families.

"Ang pinaka-fulfilling about my job is natutupad ko din 'yung mga gusto ng mga tao do'n sa pangarap nila.... 'Pag nagkaroon ng sasakyan sila, makakahanap na sila sa buhay noon, at puwede na sila mag-start ng new life."

(The most fulfilling about my job is helping others reach their dreams.... When they get a jeepney, they can earn a living, they can start a new life.) – Rappler.com

LOOK: Barangay poll bets inspire netizens with campaign posters made from scraps


MANILA, Philippines – The 2018 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections are only a few days away and candidates are pulling all stops to get votes.

Candidates have been using catchy campaign jingles and flashy posters to get noticed, but at least two candidates have stood out – at least, in the eyes of netizens – for a very different reason.

Yolanda Lariosa and Marito Almonte decided not to allow their lack of funds to block their dream of getting elected on May 14. They rolled their sleeves and used their creativity in making campaign posters using whatever material they can find.

Yolanda Lariosa

Lola Yolanda, as she has come to be called, is a barangay kagawad candidate in Patag, Cagayan de Oro. Despite having no money to have usual campaign materials made for her, Lariosa gathered used tarpaulins and wrote her name on their unused side.

Lariosa first drew the attention of Facebook user Maileen, who posted her efforts on her social media account.

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“Looy kaya among silingan na si lola Yolanda Lariosa nidagan syag pag kagawad piro wala man syay pampalit tarpaulin busa ge sulat nalang nya sa likod sa tarpaulin then gisulat iyang pangalan... Kanang uban na manlabay saamong lugar kataw.an lang nila ang gebutang sa tiguwang pls ayaw ninyo kataw.e ang tao kay dili kataw.anon ang ge buhat ni lola unta matabangan sya pamaagi sakong post”

(My neighbor Lola Yolanda Lariosa is so pitiful. She’s running for Barangay Councilor but she doesn’t have the funds to buy tarpaulins, so she instead wrote her name on the backs of used tarpaulins....There are people who pass by our place and just laugh at what the old lady is putting up. Please don’t laugh at her because what she’s doing isn’t funny. I hope someone can help her after seeing my post.)

The post has gone viral on Facebook, racking up to more than 20,000 shares as of posting. Many commenters announced their support for her, and their belief in her integrity as a barangay official.


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Some people have even gone the extra mile to support Lola Yolanda in more direct ways, with one user producing a tarpaulin with the intention of donating it to her.

Marito Almonte

In the wake of Lariosa's sudden internet fame, the niece of another candidate for barangay kagawad mentioned that their uncle had the same predicament: lacking funds to run a political campaign and having to make do with homemade posters to let their neighbors know about him.

"Kami din naman sinulat namin sa sako. Wala din po kasi kami pera sa pang kampanya. Eto po yung paraan na naisip namin para malaman ng barangay. Na natakbo po ang tito ko bilang kagawad," writes Facebook user Yunha Ayuzawa on her comment.

(We also used sacks for our posters since we also lack funds for campaigning. This is what we came up with to inform our barangay that my uncle is running for councilor.)

“Mato” is the nickname of 43-year-old Marito Almonte, who is running for kagawad in the  Barangay Landas in Pangasinan. According to his niece, Ayuzawa, this was not the first time that Almonte did this. He ran for barangay chairman in the past, using the same simple homemade promotional materials.

She said her uncle had opted to do this because the money Almonte’s family earns from their small sari-sari store is only enough for their daily needs.

A majority of the commenters who replied to her talked about their support for people like Almonte. However, Ayuzawa's call for attention has not received as much traction, with some commenters being skeptical of her post as well.

Yet these posts have only gone to show how far Filipinos would go to help out those in need. Sometime after the post about Lariosa went viral, a printing company sponsored and sent campaign materials to help her in this election.

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Lola Yolanda's campaign has gone a long way, after she got widespread support because of her earnest campaign effort.  Online, many people wished her success in the upcoming elections and offered support through Facebook. 

Have you seen any other unusual stories of campaigns and candidates this election season? Tell everyone about it on X! – with reports from Gab Landrito/Rappler.com

Gab Landrito is an intern at Rappler for the MovePH and Social Media section. Studied Communication Arts in UP Baguio with a minor in Journalism.

IN PHOTOS: Students stand in defiance after Sereno ouster


RISE. Students from UP Manila, Far Eastern University and Technological University of the Philippines held a lightning rally in front of the Supreme Court to denounce the high tribunal's decision to oust CJ Sereno thru Quo Warranto. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

MANILA. Philippines - Students from various universities in Metro Manila and nearby provinces expressed their disappointment after the Supreme Court granted the petition for quo warranto which ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Friday, May 11. 

Law students of Far Eastern University, in a joint statement, condemned this decision of SC. 

"The Constitution is the supreme law of the land; it is the foundation of all laws and must be given the highest respect. But today, the highest court of the land and the supposed defender of the Constitution neglected this basic principle." the statement reads. (READ: After SC ousts her, what can Sereno do now?)

University of the Phillippines Los Banos' Buklod emphasized that this decision "is not only a clear violation of Sereno’s constitutional right to an impeachment process but also an infringement on the independence of the judiciary."

"With the three branches of the government under the clutches of the strongman Duterte, there is a clear absence of a check and balance mechanism," the political organization added. 

UP Law Student Government also called the Supreme Court justices to reconsider their decision to ouster Sereno.

"As the last bulwark of democracy, we call on the members of the Supreme Court to reconsider their decision and uphold the oath they took. As final arbiter, we call on the institution to remain steadfast in its duty to independence and impartiality and to uphold the rule of law," the statement said. 

Students of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) also trooped to España to protest the ousting of the chief magistrate. 

UST Central Student Council (CSC) Secretary-elect Robert Dominic Gonzales stated during the protest that the quo warranto petition against Sereno is unconstitutional since it is not an impeachment case.

Meanwhile, for Jeanne Nicole Naval, CSC Public Relations Officer-elect, the removal of Sereno from office is like a return to the Marcos regime, saying that "[i]t's like we're going back to our dark days." She also urged that "it's high time for us to protect our nation, to protect our people."

Here are some photos taken during the indignation rallies held in different universities in Metro Manila. 



STAND WITH CJ. Students from various universities in Metro Manila storm the Supreme Court to condemn the decision to oust CJ Sereno thru Quo Warranto. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

BLACK RIBBON. Students later lighted candles along the fence of the Supreme Court and tied black ribbons on the gates. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

KATIPUNAN. UP Diliman and Ateneo students and faculty staged an indignation rally over the ouster of Chief Justice Sereno. Photo by Maria Tan/Rappler

HORN IN SOLIDARITY. Vehicles passing by Katipunan Avenue blow their horns in unity with the rallying students. Photo by Maria Tan/Rappler

DEFEND DEMOCRACY. Students from various UP Masscom organizations stand in defiance in Quezon Hall after CJ Sereno was ousted this morning. They also condemn the disqualification of 2 writers from taking the Philippine Collegian Editorial Exam which will select the next editor-in-chief of the publication. Photo by Nina Roberto/Rappler

BLINDFOLDED. UST students gather in Espana, Manila in support of th oustered if Justice. Photo by Philip Jamilla

- with a report from Philip Jamilla / Rappler.com


Is Philippine Collegian facing a press freedom issue?


MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Collegian, the official student publication of the University of the Philippines Diliman has long served the public against all odds.

From the Martial Law period to today’s increasingly repressive political climate, people have turned to Kulê as an unwavering, independent beacon of journalistic spirit – and they continue to do so, even now as the publication faces yet another obstacle.

On April 26, two campus journalists of the Collegian, commonly known as Kulê, were disqualified from the selection of the publication’s next editor-in-chief (EIC).

Collegian Kultura and Features writers Marvin Ang and Richard Calayeg Cornelio were barred from taking the editorial-in-chief exams on grounds of their status as graduating students. The two students were disqualified for not meeting the requirement listed in Article IV, Section 13 of the Philippine Collegian Rules, which says:

“The editor of the Philippine Collegian, while serving in the capacity, must continue to satisfy the same qualifications [of being enrolled in an undergraduate degree course carrying not less than the normal load prescribed for a regular student] and be free of the disqualifications governing eligibility to participate in the competitive examinations, as prescribed in these rules.”

This is despite a history of permitting graduating students, who plan to work towards a second bachelor’s degree – and even allowing students already taking their post-graduate education – to take the exams.

Ang and Cornelio argued this in their appeal letters, saying that they both wish to pursue further undergraduate studies, and would thus be eligible under the rule to assume the editorial position should one of them be chosen.

The argument was, however, dismissed by the Board of Judges (BOJ) supervising the selection process. The exams pushed through on Saturday, May 5, amid protests to postpone them until Ang and Cornelio could participate.

"The appeal to postpone the Collegian exam is academic and moot given that the rules are clear, with no precedents to challenge the rule," UP Chancellor Michael Tan said in agreement with the BOJ decision.

Rappler presents the different positions taken by the actors involved in this controversy, illustrating how the issue could relate to the greater fight for campus press freedom.

The contentions

Mary Joy Capistrano, Collegian editor-in-chief from 2014-2016, represents one of the many precedents that ground the cases of Ang and Cornelio.

Cited as an example in a text message sent by UP College of Mass Communication (CMC) associate professor Danilo Arao to Chancellor Tan, Capistrano was allegedly a graduating student when she took the exams for her second term.

“I checked her records and found that this [is] not the case,” said Tan in his statement backing the BOJ. “Ms Capistrano was not graduating in 2015. She was a BS Community Development student from 2013-2014 to 2016-2017.”

Capistrano later clarified that she was tagged as graduating in her specific college, but perhaps not in the university system.

There are other compelling and more comparable precedents, such as the cases of Arra Francia and Melane Manalo, who both had only a semester left to complete when they took the exams in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

Manalo said she was summoned by the BOJ prior to the exams and was granted clearance provided she enrolls in another undergraduate course if she won.


<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Hi Erwin! I actually was a graduating student at the time, just finished my degree a semester after you in December 2017. So technically, I didn&#39;t meet the one-year residency requirement either </p>&mdash; Arra Francia (@arra17) <a href="https://twitter.com/arra17/status/992607908478107648?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 5, 2018</a></blockquote>
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A closer look at the Philippine Collegian Rules reveals another loophole. Article 3, Section 8, pertaining to the rules concerning eligibility to take the editorial exams, only stipulates that (1) an applicant “must be enrolled in an undergraduate degree course carrying not less than the normal load prescribed for a regular student;” and (2) that he/she “must be a regular student of the University with at least one year of residency therein,” and not thereafter.

Even if all were to disregard the linguistic technicality and only considered the former, Ang and Cornelio still should have been allowed to take the EIC exams as they were currently enrolled.

“The two students argue that they are indeed graduating but could enroll in another degree when the new school year starts,” Chancellor Tan said. “This is an 'if' though because admission into a new program is not assured.”

Arao, who was also once a news editor of Kulê, reasoned that this is faulty logic: whereas Ang and Cornelio indeed cannot guarantee admission into a second course, they also cannot be outrightly denied.

“We can also counter-argue that there are also no guarantees that non-graduating students who become EICs won’t be kicked out or expelled within the term,” he said.

An infringement on campus press freedom?

Publications across the UP community and various journalism organizations have released joint statements, speaking out against what they deem to be a serious press freedom issue. Signed by notable campus journalists, the letter of support condemns the BOJ for bending the rules on a careless whim.


<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">READ: Editors-in-chief of publications across the UP System and heads of various organizations express concern over the decision of the Board of Judges to bar Collegian writers Marvin Ang and Richard Cornelio from taking the editorial examinations tomorrow. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DefendPressFreedom?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DefendPressFreedom</a> <a href="https://t.co/pwifClMZbq">pic.twitter.com/pwifClMZbq</a></p>&mdash; Philippine Collegian (@phkule) <a href="https://twitter.com/phkule/status/992376006559203328?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 4, 2018</a></blockquote>
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“We fear that the BOJ’s decision and its narrow interpretation of the rules are inconsistent with the spirit of inclusivity and democracy that the exam should be based on,” the statement read.

“For many years, the same rules have been so liberally interpreted in favor of other applicants such as law students, whose qualifications for taking part in the exam are even more questionable.”  

On the same day of the editorial exams, 3rd-year Juris Doctor student Jayson Edward San Juan was named the new editor-in-chief of the Philippine Collegian.

CMC chairperson Mikko Ringia filed a letter of protest, citing Resolution 038-2001 of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), that equates the Bachelor of Laws or Juris Doctor program to a Masters Degree. UP officials however countered that the university does not fall under CHED.

The UP College of Law’s website describes the course as a “four-year undergraduate program leading to a Juris Doctor (JD) degree”.

Tan, in the same memo, said the appeals have “bandied terms like ‘press freedom’, ‘inclusion’, [and] ‘democratic participation’ in a way that trivializes them."

“On the matter of ‘inclusion’ and ‘democratic participation’, I would question the way students, who are supposed to be graduating this school year, are still so insistent on applying for a post that begins in the next school year.”

Tan added, “I feel this narrows the opportunities for non-graduating students to compete. Student newspapers should encourage mentoring and a passing on of the baton to non-graduating students.”

Asked for a response to Tan’s assertions, Arao said, “The UPD administration’s insistence that graduating students are ineligible to take the exam based on its own interpretation of the rules could be seen as an attack on the Philippine Collegian’s editorial independence.”

The events of the past week have led Arao to liken UP Diliman to other schools that oppressively muzzle campus journalists and stifle their freedom.

“The issue is not trivial, or even local, because it is a reflection of how much little value is given to campus press freedom by the powers-that-be. In this particular case, there is too much speculation on what would happen if a graduating student becomes EIC and fails to enroll in a second degree, completely ignoring that there are clear rules on succession; the second placer gets selected instead,” he told Rappler.

A week separated the date of the exams and the day the BOJ chose to eliminate Ang and Cornelio from the editorial race, giving the Board ample time to retract its decision; it did not, even after Ang, Cornelio, and their supporters cited supporting arguments.

The importance of a mandate free from interference cannot be overstated as the EIC directs how the organization is run – from its use of funds and selection of stories to the composition of Kulê as he/she oversees the staff application process according to the Philippine Collegian Rules. 

“The UPD administration needs to be level-headed enough to study the rules and interpret them based on the normative standards of journalism, especially when it comes to editorial independence,” Arao said.

Chilling effect

“The administration has a record of repressing Kulê many times in the past in terms of funds and regulations. The latest move to curtail the right of our writers creates a chilling effect, not only on the 95-year-old Collegian but also on the campus press in general,” says Kule Editor-in-Chief Sanny Afable.

He quotes a 1978 Kulê critique of the Philippine Collegian Rules, “[The] rules should not be interpreted strictly or liberally at the whim of the University administration; [the] letter of the law should never prevail over its clear spirit.”

UP College of Mass Communications Dean Elena Pernia, who chaired the Board of Judges, has yet to reply to Rappler's email dated May 9 – Rappler.com

Frances Roberto is an incoming freshman at the Ateneo de Manila University. She is a Rappler intern.

WATCH: Meet hardworking lolo, lola in Los Baños


LAGUNA, Philippines – Under the scorching heat of the sun, Rene Mojado and his wife Aida traverse a busy road at the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) to earn a living.

Rene, 82, drives his jeepney along the stretch of Lopez Avenue in Los Baños, Laguna, going to the UPLB campus. But he's not alone. Aida, 76, joins him daily to help him give change to passengers.

Aida said she accompanies Rene on his trips because she feels bad whenever he drives alone.

"Ako naman ay naaawa na siya lang ang namamasada. Biruin mo naman, ako ay nasa bahay, tapos siya ay nag-gaganyan doon.... Eh hindi ako papayag. Paano kapag may mangyari sa kanya habang namamasada?" Aida said.

(I pity him when he has to drive the jeepney alone. Imagine, I'm at home, then he's out all day, driving.... I won't allow that. What if something happens to him while he's driving?)

The need to work

The lolo (grandfather) and lola (grandmother) would usually wake up at 5 o'clock in the morning and leave the house an hour later.

"Kailangan naming gumising ng maaga kasi alas-siyete kalimitan ang simula ng klase ng mga estudyante. Sa labas na rin kami nanananghalian. Bumabalik na kami ng bahay gabi na, depende sa traffic, mga alas-siyete na ng gabi," shared Aida.

(We have to wake up early because students' classes typically start at 7 am. We also eat lunch outside. Then we return home around 7 in the evening, depending on the traffic.)

Rene and Aida have 3 children, who all have their own families. Their eldest Fe, who is separated from her husband, lives with them along with her 4 children. Three of Fe's children are still studying – two in college and one in 10th grade.

Fe's meager salary as a saleslady in a small rice store is not enough for their daily needs. Because of this, Rene and Aida decided to continue working despite their old age.

EARNING A LIVING. Despite their old age, Rene Mojado and his wife Aida need to work to make ends meet.

"Tinutulungan namin 'yung aming mga apo... 'yung apat. Dalawang college [students] at 'yung Grade 10.... Siyempre walang pambaon 'yun, at pagkain namin," said Aida.

(We help our 4 grandchildren. Two of them are college students and one is in Grade 10.... We give them allowances, and we also spend on our food.)

The elderly couple's other children have asked them to stop working and just stay at home. But Aida argued that they don't want the two college students to quit school.

"Ayaw naman namin patigilin ang mga bata sa pag-aaral kasi sayang naman, patapos na rin sila," she added.

(We don't want our grandchildren to stop attending school since two of them are about to graduate already.)

According to Aida, they've only earned an average of P700 a day since the start of the year. They used to earn as much as P1,000 a day last year, when fuel prices were lower.

But with the rising prices of crude oil in the global market as well as the Philippines' tax reform law, consumers like Rene and Aida have been affected.

Asked if P700 is enough to sustain their daily needs, Aida said: "Hindi rin sapat. Tinitipid lang namin." (It's not enough. We're just being as frugal as we can.)

Despite these challenges, they have no plans of retiring anytime soon. "Hanggang nakakakuha pa si Rene ng lisensiya at kaya pa namin, mamamasada pa kami," said Aida. (As long as Rene can still get his license and we can still work, we won't stop.)

'May forever'

According to the couple, their strong relationship makes challenges bearable. 

'MAY FOREVER.' Rene and Aida pose for a photo during their 50th wedding anniversary celebration.

But it wasn't exactly a smooth start for them. According to Aida, she could not say yes to Rene when he first asked her to be his girlfriend decades ago.

"Natatakot ako eh, baka ako ay iwanan pa eh. Papunta pa ulit siya ng abroad eh di bale kung papakasal na kami," said Aida.

True love prevailed when Rene returned to the Philippines 3 years later.

"Nu'ng bumalik siya dito sa Pilipinas, balak niya na pala talaga makipagbalikan sa akin. Pero natagalan ulit siya na suyuin ako. Tapos ayun, nagpakasal na kami," Aida recounted.

(When he returned to the Philippines, he was already planning to win me back. But it took him a long time to woo me. Then we finally got married.)

Since then, they've been inseparable. During their days off, Rene and Aida attend church activities.

Not surprisingly, their story has touched the UPLB community as an example of a relationship showing "may forever" (forever exists).

UPLB student Joshua Jonas said he could feel the love when he got the chance to ride Rene's jeepney.

"Kapag nag-aabot ng bayad at sukli si Lola Aida, kita mo sa mukha niya 'yung pagmahahal ng isang asawa," said Jonas.

(Whenever Lola Aida gets passengers' fare and hands out change, you can see the love on her face.)

"It's not every day that I see an [elderly] couple who works together to make ends meet," added Jonas.

Aida is very mindful of how Rene drives. She tells him if he's going too slow or too fast.

"Kapag may pumapara kasi na estudyante, sinasabihan ko siya na, 'Tatay, may napara.' Tapos ang sagot naman niyan sa 'kin, 'Narinig ko naman.' Tapos magtatawanan kami," shared Aida.

(Whenever a passenger is about to get off, I tell him, "Dad, stop the jeepney." Then he'll respond, "Yes, I heard the passenger." Then we'll have a good laugh.)

There are a lot of jeepneys in the UPLB campus, but what makes Rene's jeepney unique are the hand fans. According to Aida, they put these up for the comfort of the students.

BEATING THE HEAT. Hand fans are seen hanging from the ceiling of Rene's jeepney.

Key to a lasting relationship

Rene and Aida have been together for 50 years now. Their secret? Understanding.

Like most couples, they also argue, but they don't let the day pass without resolving their issue. On the day they got married, they promised each other that arguments wouldn't separate them.

"Kapag galit siya, hindi na lang ako umiimik at inuunawa ko na lang siya. Ganoon din siya sa akin," said Aida.

(Whenever he's mad, I don't argue anymore and I just understand him. He also does the same when I'm the one who's mad.)

Aida advised young couples not to let difficult times or petty arguments ruin their relationship.

Asked about her message to Rene, she said: "Mahal na mahal ko 'yan eh, kahit kami ay may edad na. Tatay, ako ay nagpapasalamat sa ibinibigay mo sa akin na kaligayahan."

(I love him very much even though we're already old. Rene, thank you for making me happy.)

Their marriage, for Aida, is a true blessing.

"Siguro nga ang isa ko pang pasasalamat ay sa Panginoon. Siya ay napakabait dahil hindi niya kami paghihiwalayin habambuhay… forever."

(I am thankful to God. He is so kind because he will not allow us to get separated from each other... forever.) – Rappler.com

SCHEDULE: Mandatory training for new SK officials 2018


We're updating the page as information from the DILG regional offices come in. DILG regional offices may get in touch with us via desk@rappler.com if their schedules are not on the list.

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Newly-elected officials of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) in the country's more than 42,000 barangays are required by law to undergo training and orientation before they can assume office.

The training – mandated by the SK Reform Act and ordered by the Department of the Interior and Local Government in a January 2018 memorandum – aims to prepare the elected and appointed officials for their new roles. 

Prior to the mandatory training, the Presidential Council for Youth Affairs gave optional training for newly-elected officials, as per Title 3, Section 532, of Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991.


The training will cover the following topics:

Module 1:

  • Decentralization and local governance
  • History of the SK and the SK Reform Act, also known as Republic Act 10472

Module 2:

  • Meetings and resolutions
  • Planning and budgeting

Module 3:

  • RA 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees

Here is the schedule for the training: 


  • Cagayan Valley: May 16-26
    • The municipality of Cordon, Isabela: May 16
  • Central Luzon: May 16-26
    • Aurora: May 16-23
    • Bataan: May 16-24
    • Bulacan: May 16-23
    • Nueva Ecija: May 17-23
    • Pampanga: May 18-26
    • Tarlac: May 17-23
    • Zambales: May 18-25



  • Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao
    • Basilan: May 21-23 at Claret College of Isabela 

The new officials have to bring a 2x2 photo for the registration process. – Rappler.com



LOOK: UPLB students hold indignation protest against Sereno ouster


'WE DISSENT'. UPLB students hold a protest against the ouster of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. Photo by Neren Bartolay

LAGUNA, Philippines – “Justice for all, justice for Sereno.”

The students of the University of the Philippines Los Baños joined the call of the National Union of People’s Lawyers to hold a day of protest on Tuesday, May 15, condemning the Supreme Court decision on the ouster of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. 

The event “WE DISSENT Mobilization for Judicial Independence @UPLB” was organized by the UPLB Unbound, a multi-sectoral alliance of campus-based organizations that calls for the ouster of President Rodrigo Duterte. This was supported by the UPLB University Student Council (USC).

According to UPLB-USC chairperson Charm Maranan, aside from slamming the decision of the high court, the protest also called for the ouster of the President.

“The solgen is part of the executive branch. The quo warranto petition is a manifestation that Duterte is trying to consolidate powers in three branches of government therefore having a defacto dictatorship,” added Maranan. 

Maranan urged the UPLB community to join their call to have judicial independence and to resist the tyranny of the Duterte administration. 

“History shown that is through collective militant action that we are able to forward the interest of the masses,” said Maranan. 

Here are some scenes from the UPLB protest:

END TYRANNY. UPLB students urge the public to resist the tyranny of the Duterte administration. Photo by Dyl Dalas


OUST DUTERTE. In an indignation rally against the disbarment of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, students also call for the ouster of President Rodrigo Duterte. Photo by Neren Bartolay

'STAND WITH CJ.' The UPLB Unbound, a multi-sectoral alliance of organizations in UPLB, denounces the ouster of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. Photo by Dyl Dalas

AGAINST SERENO OUSTER. The UPLB students light candles in protest of the Supreme Court decision to oust Chief Justice Sereno. Photo by Dyl Dalas

END FASCISM. In this photo, UPLB students converge to protest against the Duterte administration. Photo by Dyl Dalas


NGO-led crowdfunding app saves lives, aids in disaster response


MANILA, Philippines – How far can bayanihan go in terms of disaster response?

Every year, an average of 20 typhoons hit the country, some causing extensive destruction. In late 2013, after Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) pummeled Eastern Visayas, Time Magazine named the Philippines as "the most storm-exposed country on earth." Yolanda killeds thousands of people and affected over 1.4 million families.

In 2015, Typhoon Lando (Koppu) caused more than P6 billion worth of damage, affecting more than 300,000 residents across 7 regions in Luzon

In February this year,  Mount Mayon's eruption caused 185 million in agricultural losses and which affected 9,791 farmers in Albay. 

SAFER. The SAFER governance committee during the press launch on May 16, 2018. Photo by Keb Cuevas/Rappler

With these numbers in mind, 3 of the largest networks of non-governmental organizations – Caucus of Development NGOs (CODE-NGO), Humanitarian Response Consortium (HRC), and NASSA/Caritas Philippines – joined forces to address financial gaps in disaster response through an app called Shared Aid Fund For Emergency Response (SAFER).

"Sinong tutulong [sa Pilipino] kung hindi kapwa Pilipino (Who will help Filipinos other than their fellow Filipinos)?" said Lanie Samonte, Humanitarian Lead of NASSA/Caritas Philippines during the app launch at PETA Theater on Tuesday, May 15.

SAFER: The modern 'bayanihan'

BAYANIHAN. Benedict Balderrama presents the SAFER mechanism during the press launch at PETA Theater. Photo from Keb Cuevas/Rappler

Hosted through the platform GavaGives, SAFER provides quick financial disbursement to NGOs in the SAFER network for disaster response and relief operations.

"Our agenda is to strengthen and expand our networks [and resources] rather than compete," SAFER chair Father Edwin Gariguez said during the launch.

SAFER mobilizes its member networks, media organizations, institutional and corporate partners to raise funds for disaster-stricken communities as one, effectively eliminating competition for fund grants among NGOs.

Public participation is also ignited through the crowdfunding mechanism.

When disaster strikes, funds would be channeled to SAFER-accredited NGOs with presence in 87 cities and municipalities in the country, enabling them to respond to the disasters and emergencies quickly.

The fund utilization is then monitored through SAFER's online dashboard.

Christian Aid Philippines Convenor  Allan Vera said. "The Filipino identity will be felt by affected communities."

He added that SAFER's "defining" characteristics are "downward accountability, humanitarian action, and collaboration... imbued by time-tested Filipino values." – Rappler.com

[Right of Way] Special Episode: Dissecting the complex Sucat Interchange


We have devoted two episodes to the complexity of the Sucat and Bicutan interchanges in Parañaque – the bane of many motorists and commuters from southern Metro Manila. (WATCH: The Sucat and Bicutan Problem, Part 1 and Part 2)

In this special episode, road safety advocate Vince Lazatin dissects the complexity of the Sucat road network, which Skyway O&M Corporation said contains as much as 150 conflict points. The higher the number of conflict points, the higher the potential of a crash.

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

PH leads Asia Pacific on gender equality in work


EQUALITY. The Philippines leads the Asia Pacific region in terms of gender equality in work, a study found. File photo by Romeo Gacad/AFP

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines leads the Asia Pacific region in terms of gender equality in work but there are still some space for improvement, a study by the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) found.

Released on Friday, May 18, the study calculated a Gender Parity Score (GPS) for Asia Pacific countries using 15 indicators of gender equality in work and three types of gender equality in society: essential services and enablers of economic opportunity, legal protection and political voice, as well as physical security and autonomy.

According to the study, the Philippines is the region's best performer on indicators of gender equality in work, such as participation in professional and technical jobs and women in leadership positions, and is 'near best' on perceived wage gap for similar work.

On gender equality in society, the Philippines is in line with the regional average on essential services and enablers of economic opportunity and on physical security and autonomy, and 'above average' on legal protection and political voice. 

It's also one of the 'best' on education and financial inclusion, and 'near best' in region on sex ratio at birth and child marriage, according to the study.

However, it also has the second highest unmet need for family planning in the region and the fourth highest rate of maternal mortality.

Screenshot  McKinsey Global Institute's report

Advancing women’s equality could increase GDP

Even though the Philippines scored better than other Asia Pacific countries in terms of gender equality in work, the experience of Filipinas still depends largely on their socioeconomic status, as lower-income women still confront considerable gender gaps and less opportunity, the study found. 

By reinforcing opportunities for higher-income women and extending them to poorer women, the Philippines could add $40 billion to its annual GDP in 2025.

“The Philippines has already made significant advances towards gender parity and has established a solid foundation on which to build further progress,” said Kristine Romano, McKinsey & Company Managing Partner for the Philippines. “The next challenge is to support lower-income women to make the most of their economic potential, pursue careers that will earn them higher wages, and give them the support and flexibility they need.”

The study also recommends that the Philippine government and companies consider measures to advance women’s equality in six priority areas:

  • Increase access to, and equal provision of, family-friendly policies in the workplace
  • Introduce policies and programs to improve gender balance in male-dominated industries
  • Strengthen economic incentives for women to remain in the workplace
  • Reduce barriers to labor-force participation by young mothers and single parents
  • Use financial products and services to increase economic empowerment for less-educated women
  • Accelerate implementation of programs to improve maternal health in rural and isolated areas

“For all women in the Philippines, there is work to do on closing wage gaps with men, enhancing access to the finance that will enable them to find and run successful businesses, and providing the flexibility and support that women need to better balance their home and working lives,” said Romano.

The full report can be downloaded here.– Rappler.com

Power in Her Story: Women publishing books for women


FEMINIST. Nikki Luna calls herself a feminist. She is one of the founders of the 'Power in Her Story,' a publishing house that focuses on mainstreaming the narratives of women. Photo by Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – In fulfillment of one of her past projects, women’s rights advocate Nikki Luna interviewed a group of Filipino women living along Agham Road in Quezon City. She asked them, “If you could do something outrageous, what would it be and why?”

Luna said that one of the womwn thought long and hard before answering with zeal and confidence,“Mag-aral(To study).”

While compelling, that exchange is not an exaggeration.

A Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) survey in 2017 pointed out to how societal norms – specifically, how women are seen as “ilaw ng tahanan (source of light of the household)" – play a part in the disenfranchisement of women in education.

According to the survey, majority of the Filipino girls who dropped out of school, or specifically at 60%, cited “marriage or family matters” as one of their main reasons for not pursuing their studies. Boys who took the same path cited their "lack of interest" in school.

Sexual harassment of women

Unfortunately, lack of education makes women more vulnerable, Luna said.  (READ: Why many of the hungry are women)

“[May mga babae na] nakaranas ng pang aabuso – marami siyang hugis, marami siyang parang lebel ng pag-aabuso – na hindi  minsan nade-define o hindi mo alam kung paano mo sasabihin kung mali 'yun dahil sa kulang na kaalamanan,” Luna said in an interview with Rappler.

(Some women experience abuse – it comes in different forms and levels – and sometimes, you don't know how to define it or even  how to say if what has been done to you is wrong because of lack of knowledge.)

“At minsan dahil sa walang kaalamanan kung tungkol saan ba ang karapatan mo, hindi mo alam ang gagawin,” the women’s rights advocate added.

(And because many women do not know their rights, they do not know how to respond to abuse.)

In the Philippines, a woman or child is raped every 53 minutes, according to the Center for Women’s Resources. The group added that out of 7 in 10 rape victims are children. (READ: The many faces of sexual harassment in PH

Acknowledging that these numbers represent stories of real women who experience abuse, Luna, along with the co-founders of Power in Her Story, hopes to help change these figures. A girl or women-centered publishing house and an imprint of Manila Feminista Incorporated, Power in Her Story seeks to “focus on mainstreaming women's human rights and gender equality.”

“We believe that education and books will help change mindsets,” the group said in a statement.

Other founders of the publishing house are Gantala Press founder Faye Cura, UN Women member Chang Jordan, and filmmaker and writerJaja Arumpac. The group also got Julienne Dadivas (Hulyen)  as their illustrator. 

Women’s narrative

According to Luna, they created the publishing house because they saw the need and opportunity to strengthen education on women’s rights at a very young age.  (READ: UN Women urges people to report sexual harassment cases

“Maraming programa na pambabae pero wala talaga 'yung simula’t simula pang-batang babae or pang-bata (There are many programs for women but we need something that targets young girls or children in general)," Luna further explained. 

FIRST BOOK. The book entitled 'I love my body' hopes to teach kids that they own their body

The publishing house’s first book is entitled I Love My Body. Written by Luna herself, it is a children's book that teaches young kids, especially girls, that they own their body.  The bigger goal of the book, according to Luna, is to make kids understand that they can break gender norms.

The same book is translated by Faye Cura in Filipino in Mahal Ko Ang Katawan Ko.

According to Luna, every time one purchases the English version of the book, a child in a local community receives another copy of the Filipino book. They are also planning to translate and produce the same in other local langauges like Bisaya and Ilokano.

“And libre siya, libre talaga lalabas 'yung isang Filipino book. Wala kaming hinahangad na kikitain, gusto lang talaga namin paikot-ikot siya mas marami kaming magagawa,” Luna said.

(The Filipino book will be free. We are not here for the profit. What we want to do is to keep it circulating so we can do more.) Rappler.com

#BabaeAko campaign: Filipino women fight back against Duterte's misogyny


MANILA, Philippines – Why is President Rodrigo Duterte so threatened by women?

With a sitting president that has continuously thrown a string of sexist insults and demeaning statements against women, it almost comes as no surprise how this question has been asked around repeatedly in the past two years. (READ: Duterte, the 'benevolent sexist'?

President Rodrigo Duterte's most recent misogynistic tirade was about the qualities the next Ombudsman should have. 

“I want someone whose integrity people believe in. Of course, it coud not be a politicians, especially not a woman," he said. (READ: Duterte's word war with women)

Before that, he cursed UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard, insulted and teased marriage to Vice President Leni Robredo, mocked International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde, instructed Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales to shut up, and many more.

Aside from these, the Philippine president also directed the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to shoot rebels in the vagina to render them useless and whistled and catcalled a female reporter during a press conference.

A loose network of women’s grounds and individual activists are no longer taking these misogynistic statements sitting down. They launched a social media campaign on Sunday night, May 20, to fight back against the Philippine president whom they describe as a misogynist leader. 

Using the hashtag #BabaeAko (I am a woman), Filipino women are taking to social media to fight the president’s sexist and misogynistic behavior. 

The #BabaeAko videos begin with a quick introduction of the Filipina authoring the post, followed by a short description of herself and a message to President Duterte. All videos ended with a brave declaration: “Lalaban ako.” (I will fight back) 

One of the women who joined the campaign is Judy Taguiwalo, a former cabinet member of the Duterte administration. 

"Akala ko taumbayan ang boss ni Duterte. Yun pala sina Marcos, Gloria, Trump at China. Para sa bayang makatarungan at malaya, lalaban ako," Taguiwalo said.  (I thought Duterte serves the Filipino public. Apparently, he is subservient to Marcos, Gloria, Trump and China. For this free and democratic nation, I will fight back) 

Below are some of the #BabaeAko videos posted on Facebook:


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<iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fmae.paner%2Fvideos%2F10155867996226028%2F&show_text=0&width=560" width="560" height="315" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allowFullScreen="true"></iframe>

<iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Falnie.foja%2Fvideos%2F2040157246014173%2F&show_text=0&width=560" width="560" height="315" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allowFullScreen="true"></iframe>

<iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Finday.espinavarona%2Fvideos%2F10155609965307507%2F&show_text=0&width=560" width="560" height="315" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allowFullScreen="true"></iframe>

<iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Flove.malundo%2Fvideos%2F10156361448172103%2F&show_text=0&width=560" width="560" height="315" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allowFullScreen="true"></iframe>

<iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fedna.aquino%2Fvideos%2F10156298356309906%2F&show_text=1&width=267" width="267" height="894" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allow="encrypted-media" allowFullScreen="true"></iframe>

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<iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fkatakatakatakataka%2Fvideos%2F10215339914507362%2F&show_text=1&width=846" width="846" height="568" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allow="encrypted-media" allowFullScreen="true"></iframe>



As a Filipina, what would you like to tell the President Rodrigo Duterte about his treatment of women? – Rappler.com 

LIST: NGOs helping rebuild Marawi City


I LOVE MARAWI. Those who wan to extend help may contact any of the following non-government organizations.  Sourced photo

MANILA, Philippines – On May 23, 2017, members of the Maute Group attacked Marawi City. One year later, the city and its people are still recovering from the devastation inflicted by the 5-month war that left thousands of residents homeless.

The Battle of Marawi was a bloody chapter in the region’s history. Damage to properties was at P11 billion while economic opportunities lost were estimated at  P6.6 billion. Around 33 barangays and 24 villages were affected by the fighting, with a majority of the buildings there in ruins. Many people did not just lose their homes but loved ones as well. (READ: Marawi rehab: The work ahead)

It will take years for Marawi to complete its rehabilitation. Residents have no choice but continue to endure the recovery process long after the war has ended.

For those who want to help, here are some organizations involved in Marawi’s recovery:

TALA PH (Singtala Center for Women and Children in Conflict)

Tala PH is a charity organization that assists internally displaced persons (IDP’s), especially  women and children. It conducts activities to help IDPs in Marawi such as therapy sessions and weaving workshops which the organization sells to other parts of the country to help fund the recovery and rehabilitation efforts of the city.

You may directly contact them through their Facebook page or send a message to sinagtalapilipinas@gmail.com.

Teach Peace Build Peace Movement (TPBP Movement)

The TPBP Movement is a group that seeks to create a culture of peace through education by helping people and children develop the right knowledge, skills, and positive values. Within 10 days of the Marawi siege, the group launched the “We Are One with Marawi” campaign that encouraged people to send help through donations, volunteer assistance, or even just messages of support and goodwill. It conducted a “Peace Mission” in the second week of May.

MARADECA  (Maranao People Development Center)

MARADECA is a non-profit, service-oriented organization that aims to help the Moro people in their quest for socio-economic advancement and their struggle for peace and development. A majority of its recent projects are for the construction of houses and shelters for the less fortunate. It recently partnered with “Lutheran World Relief” under the CARE Marawi Scale-up project, where it helped in the construction of shelters for over 1,000 IDPs in Marawi.


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Duyog Marawi

Originally started as a project by Caritas Philippines, an organization of the Catholic Church, Duyog Marawi is an organization focused on promoting peace and development in and around the Marawi area. It holds medical missions and livelihood and business programs. While it is focused on providing aid to the affected Christian and Catholic community, it also gives aid to all IDPs, regardless of religious affiliation.


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World Vision

World Vision is an international humanitarian organization devoted to improving the lives of families so they can overcome poverty. It has projects around the Philippines. In Marawi, it has a cash-for-work project called “Bahay Pag-asa” which it started in January, providing money as incentives for people who engage in community-building work such as farming and construction. People are paid P2,500 for every 4 hours of work they do per day over 10 days. Along with this, World Vision also runs educational and psychological support programs for affected children and families.

Red Cross Philippines

The Red Cross is an international organization that has been providing life-saving services, along with humanitarian aid and relief, for decades It provides aid to various communities still reeling from the effects of the Marawi Siege. It supplies clean water to communities.

The Red Cross Philippines official website lists down ways to contact them, and provides information regarding their ongoing projects.

Balay Mindanaw

Balay Mindanaw is a Mindanao-based and Mindanao-focused non-stock, non-profit organization devoted to the creation of empowered and stable communities, and building peace on the island. It has been active for around 22 years.

For the sake of Marawi’s recovery, this group has assisted in the construction of two elementary schools in April and May, along with the building of barangay incident outposts. 


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– Rappler.com

Gabriel Landrito finished BA Communications in UP Baguio. He is a Rappler intern.