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Mental health also important in DRRM, psychiatrist says


MENTAL HEALTH. Dr June Caridad Pagaduan-Lopez talks about Balik Kalipay'€™s efforts in improving the mental health of several Yolanda victims. Photo by Angelica Yang/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The discussion on disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) often focuses on supplying relief goods to the affected in the shortest possible time, or ways to mitigate the impact of disasters.

Psychiatrist Dr June Caridad Pagaduan-Lopez wants to add another aspect to the discussion: the mental health of traumatized victims of disasters.

In the recently-concluded Cebuana Lhuillier forum “2018 READY: Disaster Resilience Begins with Me,” Lopez talked about psychosocial support as an effective way to help victims of natural disasters.

Lopez, who is the president and convenor of the psychosocial response center Balik Kalipay, also talked about the center’s humane treatment for disaster victims.

Safe haven

On November 8, 2013, Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) struck the country, leaving over 6,000 people dead, 28,000 injured, and 1,000 missing. Cost of damages totaled over P95 billion.

Due to the severity and impact of the super typhoon, the World Health Organization estimated over 800,000 cases of mental health conditions among Yolanda victims. (READ: 4 years after Yolanda, trauma still haunts typhoon victims)

Christian Villarino among the victims whose mental health was affected after losing 18 family members, including his parents, to Yolanda.

After becoming a beneficiary of Lopez’s Balik Kalipay, and undergoing the response center’s various forms of therapy, Christian became more sociable and confident, and physically active.

His journey of recovery was shown through a video presentation during Lopez’s talk.

By holding several workshops in partnership with the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), Balik Kalipay was able to respond to the psychological needs of the Yolanda victims, such as Christian’s.

Beneficiaries undergo different forms of art therapy where they are introduced to a combination of therapeutic and creative activities. Lopez stated that drawing was found to be the easiest and cheapest way to bring out the feelings of the victims.

ART AS THERAPY. Lopez discusses how the NCCA’s Dayaw festivals help Yolanda victims heal. Photo by Gaby N. Baizas/Rappler

Lopez cited the importance of training parents and starting on the level of families when confronting child protection in the context of disaster aftermath.

She also observed that children who were affected by Yolanda refused to return to school, became passive and withdrawn, and grew assaultive and aggressive.

“It really is worrisome because you’re talking of a whole generation of Filipinos thinking that life is always going to be difficult, that life has to be something you have to fight for. I think that’s the scariest part of the disasters and emergencies that we have,” she said.

This is why Lopez believes mental health education will strengthen communities in disaster resilience.

“The bottom line is: how do we enhance values, as well as positive thinking, among people who keep on having repeated encounters with disasters?” she asked.

Balik Kalipay does not only focus on victims of disasters. The response center also offers psychosocial processing to caregivers of victims as well as journalists who cover disaster-affected areas.

Heightened awareness

On June 20, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act 11036, or the Philippine Mental Health Law. The law aims to promote mental health through national policies and programs, while establishing a comprehensive and integrated mental health care system.

Prior to the approval of the measure in both houses of Congress, there were no national systems in place that protected the mentally ill from discrimination.

Lopez criticized how the widespread stigma surrounding mental health can put psychological problems on the back burner.

She described Filipinos as "crisis-oriented "people who don’t immediately act on solving long-term problems.

“‘Pag may tumalon, ‘pag may namatay, diyan lang tayo nagkikilos (We only act when someone jumps, when someone dies),” she said.

Lopez also stressed the need to be more aware of mental health issues and psychosocial problems, given that such complications are “abstract” and harder to spot.

“It’s easy to come up with how many bridges you were able to build, how many buildings were reconstructed,” she explained.

“But how many lives, how many minds, and how many people are suffering psychologically – that’s hard to count. We just have to assume that’s one particular need we cannot be blind to,” she said. – Rappler.com

Gaby N. Baizas and Angelica Y. Yang are Community interns at Rappler.



WATCH: Meet the sign language interpreters of Metro Manila Pride 2018


INCLUSIVITY. The 3 sign language interpreters of the 2018 Pride March share how they chose their profession. Photo from Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – With a theme promising allies and members of the LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) community to #RiseUpTogether, this year’s Metro Manila Pride March had big shoes to fill to provide a safe space to all 25,000 people who attended the event.

During the event, there was a person standing on the left side of the stage, seemingly dancing along to songs and making hand signs with exaggerated expressions. It was the sign language interpreter of Metro Manila Pride, who was there to help everyone, including the deaf community, #RiseUpTogether.  (READ: Get the message: Signs that caught our eye during Metro Manila Pride 2018)

For 3 consecutive years now, Metro Manila Pride has been featuring sign language interpreters on stage for pre- and post-march activities. This year’s celebration at the Marikina Sports Center on June 30 had 3 sign language interpreters – all from the Philippine National Association of Sign Language Interpreters (PNAS) – who helped people from different sectors, especially people with disabilities (PWD), have the same immersive experience of Pride as everyone else. 

Bayani Generoso Jr, one of the sign language interpreters of Metro Manila Pride 2018, explained, “I just feel that this is an inclusive event and in order for it to be inclusive, [it should] also include the PWD sectors."

Generoso has been interpreting for Metro Manila Pride since it first started including sign language interpreters on stage 3 years ago. He had also interpreted for Vancouver Pride in Canada for the last 5 years.

He first ventured into sign language interpretation when he worked at a bank. He had a deaf coworker who would have a sign language interpreter during meetings.

“I was captivated by this interpreter, and I felt I wanted to do that. So, my deaf coworker who was also my friend, encouraged me to quit my job and go full-time. So I did and now I’m here,” he said.

Sign language interpreters John Baliza and Roni Abat are new faces in this year’s Metro Manila Pride. 

Baliza, who’s been interpreting for 18 years now, was supposed to continue his studies in medical school when he decided to drop out and study sign language. “I found [my] calling as a sign language interpreter,” he said.

Abat, meanwhile, has been interpreting for 10 years. As a child of a deaf adult, interpreting became second nature for her family.

For those who are interested to study sign language, Baliza encourages studying it in the mother tongue. “That’s the natural language for deaf people. As interpreters, we are advocating for the usage of Filipino Sign Language [because it is the] mother tongue [of the] Filipino Deaf community. So I would really encourage hearing people to learn sign language, so they could be like allies of the deaf community.”

Get to know the sign language interpreters of Metro Manila Pride 2018 with this video. – Rappler.com


CHECKLIST: What should households prepare for an earthquake


MANILA, Philippines – Is your household prepared for the "Big One"? 

According to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), every household should be equipped with the knowledge and skills needed when dealing with earthquakes and other major disasters. (ALSO READ: How to prepare when disaster and emergency strike)

Preparing for the 'Big One'

Once the West Valley Fault moves, various areas in Metro Manila and nearby provinces are expected to be greatly damaged. The fault moves roughly every 400 years, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) Director Renato Solidum. In the last 1,400 years, it has moved only 4 times. (READ: What dangers await when the West Valley Fault moves?)

If the 7.2-magnitude earthquake does happen, Metro Manila could run out of food and water for a week. Experts say that the "Big One" could happen in this lifetime.

Below is a list of earthquake preparedness measures provided by DILG – National Capital Region:



Stockpile at least 15 liters of water per person per day for drinking, cooking, and sanitary purposes.

  • FOOD

Keep a sufficient supply of DOST’s ready-to-eat meals for at least 72 hours up to preferably two weeks of individual consumption.


Preparation of individual ‘Go bags’ with potable bottled water, non-perishable meals, emergency kit, important family documents, flashlight, portable radio, and clothes at the minimum.


Prepare a family evacuation plan (where to meet when a massive earthquake happens) and maintenance of a directory of emergency contact numbers.


Have at least one family member who is trained on Basic Life Support - First Aid (BLSFA), use of fire extinguishers, and other lifesaving skills.


Assess one’s house integrity through the DOST-PHIVOLCS checklist, “How Safe is My House.”

Duck, Cover, Hold

Phivolcs has these survival tips when an earthquake strikes:

  • Stay indoors if you are already in a house or a structurally-sound building

  • Duck, cover, and hold on to something sturdy

  • Evacuate to a safe open space after the shaking stops


While earthquakes cannot really be predicted, households can still reduce the risks and possible damages by proper planning and careful preparation. 

How are your families preparing for a major disaster? Let us know in the comments or write your thoughts on X– with reports from Kaye Cabal/Rappler.com

Hip-hop artist, OFW advocate: RJ Señeres' rhyme and reason


ADVOCATE. From music to advocacy work, Roy Señeres Jr has come a long way.

MANILA, Philippines – It was just an ordinary day for 11-year-old Roy Señeres Jr – known by his friends as RJ – when their doorbell suddenly rang.

They lived then in the same building as the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi, where his dad, Roy Señeres Sr, worked as labor attachè in the 80s.

As always, the young RJ ran to open the door. A Filipino woman who looked younger than his mother stood in front of him. One of her eyes was bruised, he noticed.

His dad came and welcomed her into their house. "Pasok dito, pasok dito," he heard him say (Come in, come in). Later in the day, they learned that the woman was an overseas Filipino worker (OFW), punched in the face by her "madame" (the term they used to refer to their female employers).

A normal kid would have panicked or shown curiosity as to why the woman's eye was bruised. Or he could have asked himself why his father would so easily let a complete stranger into their house as if she was a friend they could trust.

But it was nothing new for RJ. 

At the time, there was no shelter for distressed OFWs in Abu Dhabi, and so their 3-bedroom apartment served as a refuge for runaway workers.

Their doorbell often rang, and RJ would open the door to see Filipinos still catching their breath, or missing a shoe, or had little clothing, or were not carrying any bag or luggage with them. 

It all didn't make sense to young and naive RJ at first.

FAMILY. RJ Señeres (2nd from left), and his siblings Christian, Hannah, Hazel, and Chris lived in Abu Dhabi where their father Roy Señeres Sr served as Labor Attachè.

His father welcomed these OFWs to their apartment and offered them food, bed, and clothes. Often, their house would be so full of distressed OFWs that RJ had to share his room. 

The young RJ didn't like it. His drawings on the wall were getting torn, and he couldn't play with his glow in the dark stickers because there'd be 3 to 4 strangers in his small room.

RJ's father eventually noticed his discomfort. One night, his father sat him down and told him that he planned to ask the government to allow him to rent a new office, a bigger one where RJ and his siblings could play. His old office instead would be turned into a shelter for OFWs, equipped with a social center where they and other OFW children could play as well.

This eventually led to the establishment of the first Overseas Worker Welfare Administration center in the Arab city.

RJ was too young to understand his father's adult jargons. "What's a department of labor? What does 'rent' mean?" he asked himself.

But there's one line from his father that struck RJ the most.  

"Let's thank God na ang nagdo-doorbell sa pintuan natin ay hindi si mommy mo, o si Hannah, o si Hazel (Let's thank God that it's not your mom, or Hannah, or Hazel who's ringing the doorbell)," his father said. Hannah and Hazel are his sisters.

After months of opening the door for distressed OFWs, RJ finally understood what his father meant. For the first time in months, he realized how trivial his problems were compared to the problems of the visitors he had been sharing his room with.

RJ's rhyme 

Growing up in this environment, one would think RJ would want to follow the path his father took. But instead, RJ went on to pursue a career in music. 

RJ studied high school in the US, when his father was assigned as labor attachè for the Philippine Embassy in Washington, DC.

It was there where he was exposed by his African-American friends to hip-hop music. 

When RJ went back to the Philippines for college, he brought with him a love for hip-hop music, as well as what he called a "hip-hop culture and attitude."

He eventually met friends with the same passion, and in 1995, they formed the hip-hop group Sun Valley Crew (SVC). 

Together, SVC did well in the local music industry, launching a couple of albums under major labels. Fans of the group know RJ by his stage name, Ill-J.

RJ started his music career at 17, so at the time, his music was mostly about teenage angst, and "independence and becoming your own man." It was all about the "swag," he said.

As he grew older, however, RJ's music evolved. His lyrics became more socially conscious, and he talked more about politics, society, and life in the Philippines.

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OFW Family Club 

When RJ's father returned to the country after years of service as labor attachè and ambassador abroad, OFWs and their families often visited him in their house in Las Piñas to ask for help.

Their house was in a cul-de-sac, so they often got in trouble with their village's homeowners' association because troves of people would line up outside their gates, waiting for his father.

Upon learning that this was already disturbing their neighbors, their family decided to form an organization. They called it the OFW Family Club, because whole families often came to them for help.

The vision was to create a network of migrant workers, advocates, and ambassadors, who would help those in need and give OFWs a stronger voice.

On June 1, 2000, the OFW Family Club was born.

HELPING OFWS. This photo shows the OFW Family Club during its early years. The club has now grown to 2 million card-bearing members worldwide.

Helping OFWs

Now on its 18th year, their humble club has grown to more than 2 million card-bearing members all over the world.  

Through the organization, the family has helped many OFWs, extending welfare and legal assistance, providing seminars, and guiding them throughout their journey abroad.

RJ shared that they receive distress calls from OFWs every day – especially from domestic workers – and they try their best to help them. One particular case they've worked on, for example, was the case of OFW Joseph Urbiztondo. 

Urbiztondo was sentenced to 25 years of prison in Kuwait for allegedly taking the life of a Bangladeshi national. Urbiztondo claimed he only defended himself, and that he was made to confess for a crime he didn't commit.

His case was brought to the attention of RJ's father while he was serving as a representative in Congress under the OFW Family Party List. At the time, Urbiztondo had already been in jail for 17 years.

With the organization's help, they were able to find the victim's next of kin in Bangladesh to negotiate Urbiztondo's release. After paying blood money and securing a letter of forgiveness from the victim's son, Urbiztondo was finally freed. He was jailed for 20 years – the longest time an OFW has been jailed abroad.

Passing the torch 

But it hasn't been all rainbows and butterflies for RJ and the OFW Family Club.

RJ's father decided to run as president in the 2016 presidential elections. Due to his declining health, however, he decided to withdraw his candidacy on February 5, 2016. He died from cardiac arrest days later. 

2016 ELECTIONS. This file photo shows Roy Señeres Sr after he filed his candidacy on October 2015. He died days after he withdrew his candidacy on February 2016.

Before his death, RJ's father already passed on the torch to him and his siblings. He knew that the organization is best left in the hands of his children who grew up surrounded by OFWs.

As his father's namesake, RJ was chosen and trained to head the organization. They thought that because they shared the same name, the transition would be easier, and that the friends his father made along the way would recognize his name and help out.

But running the club has been difficult without his father, RJ admitted. 

"He has been the cornerstone, the guy who was very instrumental in all the dealings of the organization, so now that he is no longer here, it has been very difficult," he said.

Nonetheless, RJ is determined to keep moving forward. Everyday, he carries with him the promise he made to his father before he died: "Don't worry, I'll carry on. I'll carry on and do what needs to be done, to make that the club founded by you remain steadfast, and to continue the work you've started."

For RJ, the club has already come a long way, but it still has miles to go. He has fresh plans and bigger ambitions.

For one, he wants to unite more OFWs through the organization. He's also pushing for more ambassadors, attachès, and welfare officers to be deployed.

"Isipin mo, ilang libong mga Pilipino ang umaalis sa bansa, ang labor attaché mo ganoon pa rin – isa, dalawa, tatlo. Ang welfare officer mo ganoon din. So, sa ratio niyan, kita mo talaga, nasasaturate sila doon. So we need to add more," he said. 

(Think about it: thousands of Filipinos leave the country, but the number of labor attachès is still the same – one, two, or three. It's the same with welfare officers. With that ratio, you see how saturated they are there. We need to add more.) 

PASSING THE TORCH. Roy Señeres Sr passed on to his namesake, Roy Señeres Jr, the responsibility of leading the OFW Family Club and helping OFWs around the world.

Carrying the lessons he's learned from his father, and the passion that grew in him after meeting and helping so many distressed OFWs, RJ is off to start his own journey and bring honor to the name he inherited.

Just like his music, RJ continues to grow and evolve. His father has already set the beat, and now it's up to RJ to add rhyme and rhythm to the song of his life. – video produced by Marga Deona/Rappler.com

Metro Manila Pride breaks records in Southeast Asia


PRIDE MARCH. This year's Pride March draws a crowd of around 25,000 people. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Drawing a 25,000-strong crowd to this year's Pride March and Festival, Metro Manila Pride now stands as the largest and oldest Pride demonstration in Southeast Asia. 

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With the theme #RiseUpTogether, the Pride March was more than just about creating a safe space for the LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) community on June 30.

According to Nicky Castillo, one of the coordinators of the march, this year's Pride March aimed to empower communities to start pushing for pro-LGBTQ+ policies and advocate social justice for all. (WATCH: Meet the sign language interpreters of Metro Manila Pride 2018)

In an interview with Rappler during the Pride March festivities, Castillo said they want to "teach others how to become better activists, allies, and advocates for the community."

This year's Pride March was estimated to have attracted 25,000 participants – a number that had nearly tripled since 2017.

"I think [the numbers tripled] because of the increasing access to information. The information spreads so it's easier to disseminate it. More and more people are talking about our rights like the SOGIE equality bill. Since these issues are in the news, people are more aware [of the LGBTQIA+ community]," she said.

Established in 1994, Metro Manila Pride has provided avenues for allies and members of the LGBT community to celebrate themselves and stage protests about relevant issues. (READ: Get the message: Signs that caught our eye during Metro Manila Pride 2018)

Metro Manila Pride said it will continue its advocacy beyond the march. "Even though Pride has ended, remember that the work doesn't end there. Our voices, our presence, and our actions need to carry on past Pride." – with reports from Samantha Bagayas and Angelica Yang/Rappler.com

How do LGUs decide on localized class suspensions?


Floodwaters rose around the Manila City Hall as the afternoon heavy downpour brought about by the effect of Typhoon Maria stranded commuters trying to catch their ride home. July 7, 2018. Photo Jire Carreon/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines — Of all the cities in Metro Manila, only Pasig, Makati and Quezon City did not announce class suspensions on Monday, July 9.

Their decisions made the internet abuzz and pushed the hashtag #WalangPasok as one of the top trending topics on Twitter, with many students begging the 3 cities to suspend classes in case of a strong rain.

In its Monday morning advisory, state weather bureau PAGASA said that while Typhoon Gardo (Maria) has maintained its strength, it is not expected to make landfall in the Philippines. The state weather bureau also reported that the typhoon is expected to enhance the southwest monsoon affecting Luzon and the Visayas.

Given this forecast, PAGASA decided against raising storm signals over any area. 

The online noise eventually fizzled out on Monday as the sun shone over Metro Manila in the morning and only drizzled a few hours in the afternoon. 

'We have our basis'

Executive Order no. 66 signed by former President Benigno Aquino III in 2015 provided the guidelines for the automatic cancellation of classes and work in government offices, depending on the storm signals raised by PAGASA. 

In the absence of signal warnings, the responsibility of cancelling and suspending classes and work in government offices fall into the hands of the local chief executives. Their decisions are guided by PAGASA, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and their local DRR chief. 

In Quezon City, disaster disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) Chief Karl Michael Marasigan said they monitored cloud formation sthrough the website of PAGASA and coordinated with concerned officials.

"Usually, we analyze, cite it and recommend it to the mayor, then we consulted with the head of city schools, Dr. Quesada of Quezon City. And then, if she's also not recommending suspension because there's no threat of flood and there's sun, we'll agree not to cancel." said Marasigan.

Marasigan shared that suspension of classes doesn't solely on the DRRM team.

"Sometimes it's raining on one district, and not in the whole city. You cannot just cancel classes in one district. You cancel classes for the whole city. So we look into other aspects and recommendation from the team, also the Division of City Schools as well, and then relay it to Mayor," he added in a mix of Filipino and English.

While in Pasig, disaster disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) Chief Ritche Van Angeles said that they put a lot of effort in ensuring accuracy in their decision-making during disasters. In fact, to avoid mistakes, they do not solely base their decision to suspend classes on PAGASA's advisory.

They also maximize the instrument and technology they have available at their headquarters. Pasig City is one of the local government units in Metro Manila with the most advanced technology for disaster risk reduction. (READ: Pasig City: Learning from Ondoy, ready for the rain

Through a tool called mediogram, for example, they are able to automatically monitor weather stations and check typical weather indicators such as humidity, precipitation, wind direction, wind speed, barometer readings, and air pressure. 

 HEADQUARTERS.  Pasig City is one of the local government units in Metro Manila with the most advanced technology for disaster risk reduction and management. Photo by Abigail Abigan

"Titignan namin si Doppler. Titingnan pa rin namin ang satellite. Titignan parin namin yung forecast, analysis of the forecaster, then kung maulan naman ang isang titingnan pa namin ngayon ang sarili naming sensor kung tumataas ang tubig namin. Those are the basis that we use," said Angeles in mix of Filipino and English.

(We're looking in Doppler, then the satellite. We're also checking the forecast, the analysis of the forecaster. If it's raining, we check our own sensors if the water levels are rising.) 

Ultimately, they use scientific data to decide weather it is worth it and safe to send students to school and government employees to work. 

Social media 

According to Marasigan, what they do not prioritize in their decision-making are the online noise and social media pressure coming from the public. 

"Sinasabi lang naman namin na meron kaming scientific basis din kung bakit hindi kami nag-suspend. It happened na nung Lunes, it was a good decision kasi maaraw naman sa hapon, diba? So, napuri naman tayo ng iba, 'yung iba naman galit kasi hindi kami nag-suspend pero it's not about pleasing anyone here. We are just doing our job to make sure that we give the right information."

(We just replied that we have scientific basis in deciding not to suspend. It happened on Monday, it was a good decision because it's sunny in the afternoon. So commended us, some got angry just because we didn't cancelled but it's not about pleasing anyone here. We are just doing our job to make sure that we give the right information.)

Angeles also noted that the tendency of many LGUs is to give in to the social media pressure that arises when one LGU decides to suspend classes. This should not be the case, according to the DRR chief, considering the different hazards present at each locality. 

"If one or two LGUs declared suspensions, other LGUs will just follow. That's the sad realization that the basis of suspension of classes: it's not anymore based on scientific (data), but because of social media pressure," Angeles said. 

According to Angeles, a possible reason of miscommunication is the lack of standards and guidelines in the suspension of classes. He said that a small drizzle should not stop students from going to school. 

"Hindi rin maganda matutunan ng kultura ng mga bata na pag-umulan, wala pasok. Pag lumaki sila, pag-ulan, hindi na sila tatrabaho, parang ganun ang dating...Dapat may basis tayo," Angeles said.  

(It is not a good practice for children that when it rains, there are no classes. When they grow up, they will not go to work anymore just because it's raining. We should have a basis.)

When asked about how they deal with the reactions of their constituents over the LGU's decision on class suspension, he said, "They have the right to say their piece, but for us, there are people in the government who undergo such training, with experience. And we handle our job and give recommendations because there's scientific basis." 

Angeles also asked the public to understand and trust their local government's decision.

"It's a little bit unfair to say na 'Wala kang malasakit' to us. Kaya namin pinag-aaralan nang mabuti rin dahil ayoko rin naman mapahamak ang anak ko kasi papasok eh, tulad nila... Pero sana rin, they should give trust to their own localities and LGUs who are deciding this way," Angeles added.

(It's a little bit unfair to say that we don't care for others. The reason that we attended trainings and studied about this is because we wanted to ensure the safety of our families. It is hoped they should  trust their own localities and LGUs who are deciding this way). – Rappler.com

Pasig’s public safety project named one of Asia’s 'most outstanding'


 Screenshot from Pasig Smart City website

MANILA, Philippines – Pasig City’s public safety project has been named one of the most outstanding smart city projects by the IDC Asia/Pacific (International Data Corporation) .

Out of 148 outstanding smart city projects, Pasig City ranks 19th in Asia Pacific excluding Japan (APeJ), alongside China, Singapore, and Taiwan, among other winners.

The IDC Smart City Asia Pacific Awards (SCAPA) selects “smart city” solutions that “deliver better urban planning and operational efficiencies, [and] influence widespread knowledge capital transformation with government employees, local businesses, and residents so cities can develop more sustainably,” as explained by Gerald Wang of IDC Government Insights and IDC Health Insights, Asia Pacific.

“Rapid urbanization and the exponential population growth of APEJ cities are severely constraining urban ecosystems,” says Wang. “Coupled with increased socioeconomic pressures (e.g., aging populations, inadequate housing options), and aging infrastructures, many APEJ city governments and city administrators are driven to seek investments in Smart City solutions to guarantee their city’s future survivability.”

Pasig won under the “public safety” category for their Smart Public Safety Management System project.

The project includes a number of initiatives: Computer Aided Dispatch, with real-time sending of incident reports to emergency services, and Adaptive Intelligent Traffic System, a transport network for better traffic flow.

There is also the Flood Awareness Simulation Tool that provides information and scenarios of possible flooded areas, as well as environment sensors for noise pollution, water PH level (potential of hydrogen), loud sounds, and UV index installed in 17 different locations.

Solar powered city-wide mass alert sirens have also been installed within the city for emergency broadcasts in times of disaster.

An emergency network GSM System is also being implemented, which is an emergency routing of cellular calls during times of calamities.  It is accompanied by a Text Messaging Alert System (TMAS) which sends a SMS/Text notification to individuals to all GSM networks.

“We still have many smart city initiatives that we’re planning to do,” said Ritche Van Angeles, head of Pasig City disaster risk reduction and management, in a mix of Filipino and English.

He said that their department are working on implementing intelligent cameras to assist in traffic.

“[This] ongoing and soon to be implemented project [will] improve the traffic system,” he added. “It will apprehend violators and criminals using various intelligent type of cameras integrated to our traffic control systems.”

On 2016, the Philippines’ Project NOAH was named as a Top Smart City Initiative in Public Safety for its disaster management initiatives. — Rappler.com

Luisa Jocson is an intern at Rappler. She is currently majoring in AB Communication at the Ateneo de Manila University.

Donations pour in for student who wrote 'heartbreaking' excuse letter


NEW BEGINNINGS. Ruby Gervacio (leftmost), Secretary of Anak ng Bongabon Foundation, Inc. giving the documents of financial support to Marinel (second to the left), alongside her mother (second to the right) and teacher, Ordoña (rightmost).

MANILA, Philippines -  Concerned netizens have made sure that the student who wrote a “heartbreaking” excuse letter that went viral will no longer worry about allowance.

Christian Jay Padilla Ordoña, Grade 8 adviser and Filipino teacher at Bongabon National High School in Bongabon, Nueva Ecija shared the now viral letter of one of his students. The student, Marinel V. de Guzman, 14, explained in her excuse letter why she missed school that day.(READ: The real cost of education in the Philippines)


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As of Thursday, July 12, the post has garnered more than 57,000 reactions and over 16,000 shares.

Ordoña explained that Marinel was absent from class the morning before he received the letter. 

“Biglang tinawag ako ng bata,” Ordoña said. “Nasa tabi siya ng pinto. Sabi ko, ‘“Anak, bakit absent ka kanina? Wala kang attendance, ilang araw ka nang ganiyan’”

(The student suddenly called me. She was next to the door. I told her, ‘Child, why were you absent awhile ago? You did not have attendance, you’ve been gone the past few days.’)

Marinel handed him the letter, written on a sheet of paper, and then shyly ran into the classroom. (READ: Scavenger to degree holder: The story of Jeb Bayawon)

The contents of the letter shattered Ordoña’s heart. “Na-freeze po ako, nadurog yung puso ko, 'di ko alam kung ano ang gagawin ko nung binasa ko yun,” he said.

(I freezed, my heart broke, and I had no idea what to do when I first read the letter.)

Helping hands

Marinel is the 4th in the family of 5 children. Her mother is a ‘magsasaki’ or sorter of goods and vegetables, most of the time, onion. Her father, on the other hand, is a farmer and coal maker.

Since Ordoña posted the letter online, netizens began sharing similar experiences.


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Other netizens wanted to reach out and look for ways to help Marinel.


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Other individuals immediately took action and pledged to the school’s foundation, Anak ng Bongabon Foundation, Inc.

The foundation have already pledged to fund Marinel until she finishes college. She will also be receiving a weekly allowance of  P500 to accommodate for her needs.

Out-of-school youths 

In a report by the Philippine Statistics Authority, 1 in every 10 Filipinos aged 6 to 24 years old is an out of school youth (OSCY), 20.2% of them attribute their inability to study due to financial concerns and high cost of education.(READ: InspireCourage: The education of Daniel Cabrera)

Nationwide, about 53% of OSCYs belong to families whose income fall at the bottom 30% based on their per capita income.

Ordoña says that Marinel’s case isn’t the first he’s encountered at the school. He estimates that in every class, there are around 5 to 10 students who could not attend school because of financial reasons.

“Dito lang, napakadami,” he said. “Maraming akong na-encounter na di nakakapag-aral dahil wala silang kakayahan. Tutulungan daw ang magulang nila na mag-ani, magtinda sa palengke ng madaling araw.”

(In this school alone, there are already so many. I have encountered so many students who can’t study because they don’t have the means. They would help their parents instead to harvest, or sell in the market early morning.) (READ: What is your education worth?)

Ordoña shared that the school engages in home visitations, and keeps tabs on students who come from troubled backgrounds, struggle with financial difficulties, and the like.

The school has also adopted the Open High School Program, which aims to “retain in school potential dropouts and encourage out-of-school youth of high school age to return to school.”

Interested donors may contact  Anak ng Bongabon Foundation Secretary Ruby Gervacio at 09278909791. - Rappler.com

Luisa Jocson is an intern at Rappler. She is currently majoring in AB Communication at the Ateneo de Manila University. 

#BabaeAko on Robredo as opposition lead: 'She cannot do it alone’


AMASONA. Representatives from various women’s organizations gathered for the #AMaSONA press briefing held on July 13, 2017. Photo by Loreben Tuquero/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Ang kahit na sinong babae who will want to help in uniting all the opposition, sa akin po, welcome. But remember, hindi ‘to kaya ni Leni lang. Kailangan po ni Leni, lahat kami.”

(Any woman who will want to help in uniting all the opposition is welcome. But remember, Leni cannot do it alone. Leni needs all of us.)

These were the words of social critic and artist Mae Paner, more popularly known as Juana Change, when asked on behalf of the #BabaeAko movement what they thought of Vice President Leni Robredo’s decision to be the opposition leader. This happened on Friday, July 13, during a press briefing organized by the women's movement #BabaeAko ahead of President Rodrigo Duterte’s third State of the Nation Address (SONA). 

Robredo announced her bid to lead the opposition movement against President Rodrigo Duterte 3 days ago. (READ: Robredo declares she will lead, unite opposition vs Duterte)

Paner was one of the initiators of the #BabaeAko movement, which was initially launched as a social media campaign last May as a response to Duterte’s statement that the next Ombudsman cannot be a woman. (READ: #BabaeAko campaign: Filipino women fight back against Duterte’s misogyny)

The campaign has since grown into a protest movement. It has also been included in TIME’s 25 Most Influential People on the Internet. Journalist and activist Inday Espina-Varona added that although the #BabaeAko movement is not involved in electoral and partisan politics, they will not block anybody who wants to become a leader of the opposition.

“It depends on [one’s] capacity to unite the opposition, and as a gesture, maybe the Vice President would like to march with #BabaeAko sa SONA, if she wants to,” said Varona.

The #BabaeAko movement dubbed their protest on the day of the SONA as "Anti-Misogynist Activists sa SONA", or #AMaSONA. They will be joining the United People’s SONA protest on July 23. (READ: SONA 2018 security head advises Duterte not to face protesters again)

Paner foresees that it will be the largest gathering of those in opposition of the Duterte administration. “Gusto ko lang pong idiin ay kung papaanong ang effort naming mga kontra kay Duterte, ngayon unti-unti na kaming nagkakaisa,” she said.

[I would like to stress that the efforts of those who are against Duterte are coming together little by little.]

Moreover, Varona said that women’s sectors will be “putting up” and holding Duterte accountable for the abuses and human rights violations he has committed. They will also be campaigning against the charter change to a federal constitution, the first draft of which was submitted by the Consultative Committee this week. (READ: Highlights of Consultative Committee’s draft constitution)

“Cha-Cha is his wet dream...and so that’s the main thrust. But all our other women’s sectors will also be putting up, naniningil kami marami...naniningil ‘yung peasant women who have suffered killings, rights workers, lahat ng mga klaseng abuso, sinasama-sama ‘yan,” said Varona.

She also mentioned the plights of those who have fallen victim to the drug war, female church workers, and female workers, such as those who were laid off by the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) and on strike from NutriAsia.

“These are all women’s organizations. We give everybody the freedom to back anybody they [want], but we don’t want to be involved in partisan politics,” she said. – Rappler.com 

 Loreben Tuquero is a Communication major in Ateneo de Manila University. She is a Rappler intern. 

Date of #MMShakeDrill 2018 will not be announced – MMDA



#MMSHAKEDRILL. According to MMDA, the annual earthquake drill may happen any day within the third week of June. Photo by Angie De Silva/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – In its fourth consecutive year, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is preparing for its annual earthquake drill, dubbed on social media as the #MMShakeDrill. This year’s activity, however, comes with a twist: the exact dates will not be announced to the public in advance.

“No one can predict when an earthquake will happen. We must be prepared at all times so we want the shake drill unannounced,” said MMDA General Manager Jojo Garcia.

According to Garcia, instead of announcing the date of the earthquake drill ahead of the activity, the MMDA will just inform the public and responders on the day of the event. The MMDA said this will serve as a “mind-setting exercise for the public to always be alert for The Big One.”

What MMDA has announced is that the earthquake drill may happen any time in the third week of July and will last for 3 days. (READ: How you can participate in the #MMShakeDrill

Various studies have said that the "Big One" will strike Metro Manila with the expected movement of the West Valley Fault that could happen within our lifetime.  In the studies conducted, what emerged as the worst case scenario is a magnitude 7.2 earthquake along the West Valley Fault on a weekday, and at night. (READ: What dangers await when the West Valley Fault moves?

Based on the Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study (MMEIRS), a study that analyzed the different possible earthquake scenarios, the strong earthquake that could hit the mega city will leave 33,500 people dead and an about 113,600 more injured.

The annual #MMShakeDrill drill is geared towards assessing and strengthening the capacity of individuals, households, and local government units in responding to the "Big One."  In the staging and planning of the earthquake drill, the MMDA has divided Metro Manila into 4 quadrants.

In partnership with the various agencies and other stakeholders, MMDA has organized a composite team of representatives from the MMDA, Metro Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, and local DRRMOs in each quadrant. They are  expected to simulate particular earthquake scenarios in their respective areas. (READ: The 'Big One': Are people ready?

The western quadran (Navotas, Malabon, Manila) will use the Intramuros Golf Course as evacuation area. The northern quadrant (Quezon City, Caloocan, Valenzuela, San Juan) will use the Veterans Memorial Medical Center Golf Course and Quezon Memorial Circle as evacuation camps.

The eastern quadrant, composed of Marikina and Pasig, will use the LRT 2 Santolan Depot. The southern quadrant – Pasay, Makati, Parañaque, Las Piñas, Muntinlupa, Pateros, and Taguig – will use the Villamor Golf Course as evacuation center.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, July 16, the Pasig City Disaster Risk Reduction Office will hold its 10th city-wide earthquake drill.

According to the Pasig Disaster Risk REduction and Management Council, the entire city will experience drills in all sectors so heavy traffic is expected.  A special terrorism drill will also take place at Unimart, Capitol Commons area at 12 pm. The PDRRMC warned the public to expect smoke, sirens, and related sound effects in this vicinity. (READ: #MMShakeDrill: What to do during a terror attack

“This drill and full scale exercise are aimed to create awareness to the public on what to do. It also train the various stakeholders to check and test their own plans and readiness,” the PDRRMC said in a statement. – Rappler.com 


CHECKLIST: What barangays should prepare for an earthquake


CHECKLIST: What should households prepare for an earthquake
CHECKLIST: What should barangays prepare for an earthquake

MANILA, Philippines – If a 7.2-magnitude earthquake hits your local community, is it ready for the worst-case scenario? (READ: How to prepare when disaster and emergency strike)

Once the West Valley Fault moves, various areas in Metro Manila and nearby provinces are expected to be greatly damaged. The fault moves roughly every 400 years, according to Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) Director Renato Solidum. In the last 1,400 years, it has moved only 4 times. (READ: What dangers await when the West Valley Fault moves?)

If this devastating earthquake does happen, Metro Manila could run out of food and water for a week. It could also destroy 40% of buildings, trigger fire in various parts of the city and kill around 35,000 to 40,000 people. Experts say that the "Big One" could happen in this lifetime. (READ: Date of #MMShakeDrill 2018 will not be announced – MMDA)

Role of LGUs, local councils during disasters

As indicated in the 1991 Local Government Code, local government units should be at the frontline of emergency measures in the aftermath of disasters. Local officials must lead the delivery of services related to their line of work, particularly during, and in the aftermath of, man-made disasters and natural calamities.

Here is a list of earthquake preparedness measures provided by the Department of the Interior and local Government (DILG)-National Capital Region for barangays:


Each barangay should get at least one static water tank to serve as an alternative water source.


Identify all critical food related establishments in the barangay and enter into a MOA to secure food supply. Moreover, position in advance DOST’s ready-to-eat meals in identified evacuation areas and open spaces.


Recommend all infrastructure which shall be prioritized for retrofitting and those that may already be condemned. Also, map out all critical roads and structures for necessary action.


Identify critical infrastructure that will greatly need fuel supply, especially their locations and projected fuel demands.


Conduct training for at least one family member per household on Basic Life Support - First Aid (BLSFA) and other lifesaving skills to supplement medical first responders.


Ensure that the UHF/VHF radio is connected to the city or municipality.


Update the registry of barangay inhabitants to allow easier accounting of survivors.

While earthquakes cannot really be predicted, barangays can still reduce the risks and possible damages by proper planning and careful preparation. 

How are your local communities preparing for a major disaster? Let us know in the comments or write your thoughts on X– with reports from Kaye Cabal/Rappler.com

Empowering seniors in disaster risk reduction and management


RESOURCES, NOT BURDENS. COSE staff members pose with their AA Project partners from different barangays. Photo by Gaby Baizas/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines—What happens when you empower a typically vulnerable sector to lead their communities in times of disaster?

The Coalition of Services of the Elderly (COSE) advocates including the elderly in planning for disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) in their respective communities. (READ: #ZeroCasualty: Don't forget PWDs, elderly

COSE created the older persons organization-led disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation project, or AA Project for short. 

With the support of the German Federal Foreign Office (AA) and HelpAge Deutschland, the AA Project aimed to strengthen the resilience of vulnerable groups to natural hazards, in 60 barangays from Luzon and Visayas. The project ran from April 2016 to March 2018. 

“Pagtingin kasi ng ating lipunan, karamihan sa kanila ay tinitignan na mainly recipient [ng DRRM ang mga nakatatanda], wala nang pwedeng gawin, wala nang makocontribute. More on yung kahinaan or yung vulnerability ang nakikita,” COSE Executive Director Emily Beridico explained.

(Society views the elderly as merely recipients of DRRM. They can’t do anything. They can’t contribute anything. They only see their weaknesses or vulnerabilities.)

Older persons as leaders

Through several accomplishments of the AA Project, the elderly proved they were capable of implementing DRRM programs. COSE Project Coordinator Jefferson Balistoy said that with the proper training older persons organizations will allow communities to propose DRRM solutions more efficiently, as the elderly are more experienced in navigating through disasters in their areas.

“We can identify the [risks] sa mga community, kasi [the elderly] have the experiences, and alam nila kung saan ang mga possible areas na unang makakaranas ng high risk, medium risk, at low risk,” he explained.

(We can identify the [risks] in the communities, because the elderly have the experiences, and they know the possible areas where communities first experience high risks, medium risks, and low risks.)

After the project’s 2-year run, older persons organizations from all 60 barangays were able to increase their communities’ awareness on DRRM, establish committees, and create more inclusive and age-friendly systems. (READ: PH's lessons from disasters: #ZeroCasualty possible through social action

Apart from these, all the elderly groups also established livelihood projects in their communities, which included improved solid waste management, and homecare services to the sick and bedridden.

Beridico said it was helpful to include the elderly in disaster risk reduction and management efforts.

“Sa karanasan namin, sa 30 years na nandito ang COSE, napakalaki ang pwede nilang mai-contribute o ibahagi sa lipunan,” she said.

(In our experience, in the 30 years COSE has been around, [the elderly] can greatly contribute to society.)

COSE is proposing a second phase for the project, to stretch over 3 years, and reach over 80 barangays.

DRRM on the national scale

Republic Act No. 10121, also known as the Philippine DRRM Act of 2010, aims to strengthen disaster management and resilience in the country. Preparing vulnerable sectors for the effects of natural hazards is listed as one of the policies of the State in Section 2 of RA 10121.

The Philippines also placed 50th overall out of 96 countries on the Global AgeWatch Index of 2015, which ranks countries according to the social and economic well-being of older people.

One of the key domains of the Global AgeWatch Index includes the country’s enabling environment, where the Philippines ranks 15th. Enabling environments are measured by access to physical safety for the elderly, alongside the availability of social connections, civic freedom, and public transportation.

Balistoy hopes more DDRM programs in the country, which include other vulnerable sectors apart from the elderly, such as women, children, and persons with disabilities.

Hopefully [the government] promotes an inclusive program [where] nobody’s left behind. Not only the older persons, but other vulnerable groups, during DRRM, kasama dapat silang lahat. Walang naiiwan, walang nakakalimutan, at dapat lahat handa, (they should all be included. No one is left behind, no one is forgotten, and everyone should be prepared.)he said. – Rappler.com 

Gaby N. Baizas is a Community intern at Rappler, and is an incoming senior at the Ateneo de Manila University. She is an AB Communication major under the journalism track.



Women’s groups to Duterte: 'Huwag ka nang mag-SONA'


SONA. Participants sing Babae during a community singing at the #EveryWoman SONA ng Kababaihan event at the UP Bahay ng Alumni held on July 16, 2018. Photo by Angie de SIlva/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – "Duterte, 'wag ka nang mag-SONA!" (Duterte, call off your SONA!)

This was the rallying cry of the coalition of various women's organizations that convened on Monday, July 16.

Ahead of Duterte's third State of the Nation Address (SONA), the #EveryWoman movement gathered  at the “SONA ng Kababaihan" at the University of the Philippines Bahay ng Alumni to call on the president to just call off his upcoming SONA.  

Teresita “Ging” Quintos-Deles, a lead convenor, said the SONA ng Kababaihan is a response to the previous SONAs that were delivered by Duterte, which, according to them, do not encapsulate the “real state of the nation.” (READ: Duterte ‘more comfortable’ in 2nd SONA)

“[Alam] namin na hindi sa kanya bibigla labas 'yung katotohanan, baka nga po joke pa 'yung gagawin eh. So this is our way of pushing back on that type of governance. [We] therefore decided to put together an event na ang mga kababaihan ito ay nakikitang nangyayari, ito 'yung talagang state of the nation,” she said.

(We know that the truth will not come from him, he might even make a joke out of it. So this is our way of pushing back on that type of governance. We therefore decided to put together an event to show that this is what the women are experiencing, this is the real state of the nation.)

EVERY WOMAN. Dr. Nathalie Verceles, Director, center for Women's™ and Gender Studies speaks about Duterte's war on women during the EveryWoman SONA ng Kababaihan at the UP Bahay ng Alumni on July 16, 2018. Photo by Angie de SIlva/Rappler

Duterte has been under fire for misogynistic behavior. One of the groups that led this campaign is the #BabaeAko movement, formed as a response to his remark saying that the next ombudsman should not be a woman.

Late in June 2018, the movement was named among Time magazine's "Most Influential People on the Internet."

A war on women officials, [former chief justice] Sereno, Senator de Lima, Ombudsman Carpio-Morales, VP Robredo, [former] CHED Chair Licuanan, all can be interpreted as a means of disciplining women who have so courageously stood up to him,” said Nathalie Verceles, Director of the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies.

Beyond misogyny

Aside from highlighting the culture misogyny supposedly perpetrated by the Duterte administration, the group of Filipina advocates also spoke about the negative impacts of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law, extrajudicial killings, and federalism on the country, highlighting how the president allowed all of these to happen under his administration.

Juliet Logan from People Power Volunteers for Reform (PPVR) Women stated that the TRAIN Law is “killing the dreams of the poor," adding that that the lives of the Filipino poor have become more difficult because of the price hikes in commodities. (READ: EXPLAINER: How the tax reform law affects Filipino consumers)

Meanwhile, Rod Baylon, whose son Lenin Baylon was killed at age 9 by stray bullets during a raid, gave an impassioned speech on extrajudicial killings and how it affects poor families. (READ: LIST: Minors, college students killed in Duterte’s drug war)

“Ito ba’y ganti sa mga mamamayan na nagtiwala sa Pangulong Duterte na isang mamamatay-tao?” he asked in a fit of rage.

Finally, PPVR Secretary General Atty. Aleta Tolentino explained how the proposed federalist constitution will give the executive, legislative, and judicial powers to an 11-man federal transition commission, which will be headed by Duterte. (READ: Highlights of Consultative Committee’s draft constitution)

"[Power] to the people ba 'yan and power to the regions? Hindi! Power sa kanya. Ito na ang kanyang dream come true — ang maging diktador...This is the end of our democracy, if we allow this to happen," she said.

(Will this give power to the people and power to the regions? No! It will give him power. This is his dream come true — to become a dictator...This is the end of our democracy, if we allow this to happen.)

The EveryWoman movement will be joining the United People’s SONA on July 23. (READ: SONA 2018 security head advises Duterte not to face protesters again– Rappler.com 

Loreben Tuquero is a Communication major in Ateneo de Manila University. She is a Rappler intern. 

IN PHOTOS: Pasig holds 10th citywide earthquake drill


LIST. Pasig City medics take down names, ages and conditions to monitor injured civilians. Photo by Samantha Bagayas/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – To unsuspecting passersby walking along Shaw Boulevard, the simulation exercises at Capitol Commons conducted on Monday, July 16, seemed like scenes from an action movie set. Yet these were all a part of taking Pasig’s 10th annual citywide earthquake drill to a new level.

Spearheaded by the Pasig City Command Center, the 10th annual citywide earthquake drill tests the city’s response concepts and capabilities to endure the effects of earthquakes.

Studies have shown the expected movement of the West Valley Fault will result in a worst case scenario of a magnitude 7.2 earthquake. Dubbed as the "Big One," the earthquake will hit areas along the West Valley Fault, including Pasig City. (READ: What dangers await when the West Valley Fault moves?)

The drill hopes to spotlight the roles of different groups under the Pasig City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PCDRRC).

Kicking off the series of simulation exercises was a special security drill at Unimart, Capitol Commons, at 12nn. It reenacted a terrorist incident that involved 3 armed men shooting down 30 civilians and taking hostage of 21 civilians.

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">WATCH: A simulation of a terrorist incident is being conducted for the terrorism drill here at Unimart, Capitol Commons. This is done to help people understand what to do and expect when terrorist incidents occur. <a href="https://twitter.com/rapplerdotcom?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@rapplerdotcom</a> <a href="https://t.co/BGRnnB3nAF">pic.twitter.com/BGRnnB3nAF</a></p>&mdash; Samantha Bagayas (@SamanthaBagayas) <a href="https://twitter.com/SamanthaBagayas/status/1018712375287877632?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">July 16, 2018</a></blockquote>

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

The special security drill covered the unscripted simulation of the city’s protocol to terrorist incidents and hostage-takings. Partner institutions were also on-site for negotiation and rescue protocols that might entail sniper, assault, and medical teams. These partners include the Philippine National Police, Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT), and a special Rescue Task Force, and the Pasig City Command Center. (READ: #MMShakeDrill: What to do during a terror attack)

RESCUE. The special security drill reenacted the rescue of injured civilians from a terrorist incident. Photo by Samantha Bagayas/Rappler

The drill also introduced the City Disaster Medical Assistance Team comprised of public and private doctors and nurses tapped for emergency medical care.

At 3 pm, an earthquake simulation drill with a fire incident was implemented at Capitol Commons.

“Injured” civilians with fake wounds were carried out from affected buildings in stretchers or with the help of first responders and rescue teams for first-aid and immediate medical attention.

FIRST AID. An injured civilian is being treated during the Pasig citywide earthquake drill. Photo by Samantha Bagayas/Rappler

TO SAFETY. An injured civilian is carried on a stretcher during the 10th Pasig citywide earthquake drill. Photo by Samantha Bagayas/Rappler

REALISTIC. An injured civilian keeps the earthquake drill realistic with a bloody wound. Photo by Samantha Bagayas/Rappler

INJURED. A civilian is carried off to the ambulance to be brought to Rizal Medical Center. Photo by Samantha Bagayas/Rappler


It also conducted various simulation exercises that tackled different earthquake scenarios. In one part of Capitol Commons, the extrication of civilians trapped under collapsed buildings and fallen debris was reenacted to test time-pressured responses to tense situations.

In another, fire suppression using an unmanned machine and rescue missions using the highest aerial platform in the country and rope rescue showed the readiness of Pasig City Command Center to handle earthquakes.

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">WATCH: Trained personnel are climbing up a building using ropes to help out with rescue operations during the 10th citywide earthquake and fire drill in Pasig. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ZeroCasualty?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ZeroCasualty</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/rapplerdotcom?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@rapplerdotcom</a> <a href="https://t.co/nOKznHO6xX">pic.twitter.com/nOKznHO6xX</a></p>&mdash; Samantha Bagayas (@SamanthaBagayas) <a href="https://twitter.com/SamanthaBagayas/status/1018769774728245248?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">July 16, 2018</a></blockquote>
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COLLAPSE. A civilian trapped under a collapsed structure is being rescued during the earthquake drill. Photo by Samantha Bagayas/Rappler

CONFINED. A rescue team tries to extricate a civilian trapped in a confined space during the earthquake drill. Photo by Samantha Bagayas/Rappler

Smoke, sirens, equipment, emergency vehicles coupled with related sound effects completed the realistic production of Pasig's 10th citywide earthquake drill and new special security drill.

The drills are in line with the celebration of National Disaster Resilience Month and Metro Manila Shake Drill 2018.

This year, the date of the Metro Manila Shake Drill (#MMShakeDrill) will not be announced to the public. However, the #MMShakeDrill will occur at 3pm on any day from July 15-21.– Rappler.com

What should responders, public do during a terrorist attack


RESCUE. Pasig Rescue Task Force and SWAT members rescue wounded civilians inside Unimart. Photo by Abigail Abigan/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Following several threats and attacks at private and public establishments in the past years, the Pasig Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) conducted terrorism and earthquake drills Monday, July 16, at Capitol Commons, Ortigas Center.

It was the 10th city-wide earthquake drill conducted by the Pasig City government and its second terror incident simulation,  focusing on the basic response steps needed in case of a terrorism threat. 

The terrorism drill scenario started at exactly 12 pm, with 5 "armed men" occupying the building of Unimart at Capitol Commons. As the law enforcers entered, the terrorist actors reenacted the shooting and taking of civilian hostages.

The Pasig City government deployed the Rescue Task Force (RTF) composed of members of the Pasig police Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) as the primary emergency response units. These groups are the designated first reponders during man-made disasters such as terrorist attacks. Their main objective is to neutralize threats and serve as paramedics for rescued civilians. 

Pasig DRRM chief Ritche Angeles said that the drill followed a real-time scenario. 

"Kung naaalala nyo yung Manila hostage, sa kabilang side nagprapractice muna ang SWAT, kasi yung plinaplano nila kung saan ang entry nila. Pagdating mo naman, dyan hindi mo agad alam kung ano ang environment dyan. It takes time. Kailangan alamin mabuti. 'Yun ang reality", said Angeles.

(If you still remember the Manila hostage crisis, SWAT members practiced and planned their way in. In a real scenario, responders need time to familiarize themselves with the environment. It takes time. That's the reality) 

He also reminded the public that during emergency situations, civilians should:

  • Avoid areas that have been cordoned off;
  • Cover mouths and close windows in an event of a chemical leak; 
  • Stay 100 meters away from the leak;
  • Strictly follow instructions given by the authorities;
  • Wait for the arrival of rescuers.

An earthquake drill scheduled at 3 pm followed the special security drill. (READ: The 'Big One': Are people ready?)

LIFTER. Pasig Rescue Task Force uses their 70ft fire brigade to rescue an injured civilian on the top of the building. Photo by Abigail Abigan/Rappler

During the different earthquake scenarios, Pasig DRRM and Rescue Task Force utilized its 70-meter articulated aerial platform which is similar to the ones used during rescue operations in Japan. Angeles said that this is the first and only articulated aerial platform of its kind in the Philippines.

According to Pasig Mayor Robert Eusebio, the city government invests in state-of-the-art equipment and relevant trainings for its employees to strengthen their response capacity not only during typhoons and earthquakes, but also in an event of a man-made disaster. 

"Kami talagang hinahasa namin lahat kahit ito ay PNP o BFP gusto namin ipakita na kapag may magandang partnership ang local government at national ay malayo ang mararating," said Eusebio.

(We are continuously training our members of the police and fire personnel. We want to show that, with a cooperative partnership between the local and national government, we can achieve a lot of things)  

In July 5, Pasig City was named one of the 19 winners out of 148 outstanding smart city projects in Asia Pacific excluding Japan (APeJ) under the “public safety” category for their Smart Public Safety Management System project. – Rappler.com

MMDA, NTC to announce #MMShakeDrill via SMS alert


#MMSHAKEDRILL. In this file photo taken on July 14, 2017, the Pasay City government simulates disaster and response drill during the #MMShakeDrill. Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) earlier said the date of the #MMShakeDrill, the annual metro-wide earthquake drill for this year, will be a surprise. What the MMDA only announced is it could happen on any day during the third week of July at 3 pm.

Even government responders and the media are not privy to the schedule.

This led to the question posed by the public: How will they know when the #MMShakeDrill will be happening? 

According to MMDA public information officer Jan Paul Songsong, a prompt that will be sent in the morning via National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) short messaging service (SMS) will initially inform the public about the schedule of the annual drill.

A follow-up alert will be sent an hour before the drill starts. (READ: How you can participate in the #MMShakeDrill)

On Tuesday, July 17, the NTC tested its SMS broadcasting capacity through an initial wave of advisories about the #MMShakeDrill. 


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The MMDA said the surprise earthquake drill will serve as a “mind-setting exercise for the public to always be alert for “The Big One.” (READ: What dangers await when the West Valley Fault moves?)

“The Big One” refers to the major earthquake that is expected to happen once the West Valley Fault movers. Studies said this could happen within our lifetime. Based on the Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study (MMEIRS), a study that analyzed the different possible earthquake scenarios, the strong earthquake that could hit the mega city will leave 33,500 people dead and an about 113,600 more injured.

Rain or shine

In a press statement released on Tuesday, July 17, MMDA also affirmed that the earthquake drill will push through, even despite heavy rains brought on by the monsoon rain enhanced by tropical depression Henry.

According to the MMDA General Manager Jojo Garcia, staging the drill on a rainy day would give government responders a chance to prepare for worst-case scenarios.

“We can do the shake drill the easiest way possible but what if an earthquake happens on a critical time? This way we can prepare for the worst case possible,” he said.   

The shake drill will involve staging of different scenarios, conducted by local government units, private institutions, schools and establishments, in different parts of the metropolis.

The MMDA urged companies, churches, schools, and institutions to sound their own alerts or bells to signal the start of the drill. Rappler.com

#StoryOfTheNation: What do you want to hear in SONA 2018?


MANILA, Philippines – Let your story be known.

On July 23, President Rodrigo Duterte will deliver his third State of the Nation Address (SONA). In this annual report, he will flaunt achievements of his administration’s second year and introduce his legislative agenda for the next 12 months. (READ: 10 things to expect at Duterte’s SONA 2018)

In the days leading up to SONA 2018, we want your story to take center stage.

Since 2014, MovePH – Rappler’s civic engagement arm – has been capturing the narratives of the Filipino people through #StoryOfTheNation. The initiative hopes to amplify the voices of the public to be heard across the country.

Take part in the campaign and show the #StoryOfTheNation through your photos or videos.

Here’s how:

Step one: Meet different people!

Talk to thought leaders, students, people with different professions and backgrounds, even the strangers you see on the street, and ask one main question: What do you want to hear in SONA 2018?

These are the people whose stories may shed light on issues and challenges of the everyday Filipino and showcase the true state of the nation.

Record your interview, and add more questions to strengthen their response and set the tone for their expectations in this year's SONA.

Make sure to list down important details to get to know your subject better such as name, age and profession!

Step two: Take photos!

Capture the story of the everyday Filipino using your camera or phone!

Take a horizontal photo of your subject in a well-lit environment or in a place that says something about your interviewee’s lifestyle. Take note that your subjects don’t need to smile or look at the camera.

Step three: Submit!

You can send the photos, videos, captions, posters, artworks, and other relevant information to move.ph@rappler.com. Please put #StoryOfTheNation in the subject line of your email.

You can also send your entries via Facebook or Twitter. When submitting via social media, remember to use #StoryOfTheNation and make your post public. You can also submit using the Rappler app. – Rappler.com

VIRAL: UST student tweets how she was physically abused


MANILA, Philippines — A Twitter thread posted by a University of Santo Tomas (UST) student sharing how she was allegedly beaten up by her ex-boyfriend is now circulating all over social media and has over 17,000 retweets and 30,000 likes as of Thursday, July 19.


<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">After a long time of considering you and what we had, I think it’s about time I clear things up. I know this is long overdue but the feelings that held me hostage were the reason for me to be blinded of all your red flags. You weren’t worth shit.</p>&mdash; Kim (@dianekiimberly) <a href="https://twitter.com/dianekiimberly/status/1018132291560697857?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">July 14, 2018</a></blockquote>
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In a series of tweets posted on Saturday, July 14,  Diane Kimberly C. Arcena accused her ex-boyfriend of physical abuse. Though she didn't mention his name in her tweets, netizens identified the ex-boyfriend as Kyle Viray, also a student of UST.

Arcena and Viray are both Biology students of the university. 

"I recently dated this guy and started just like any other relationship. Things were all great and exciting," said Arcena. "Just like any other couple, we’ve had our fair share of ups and downs too. We’d fight over small and stupid things but at the end of the day we’d kiss and make up. It was all good so I didn’t bother reading between the lines," she added. 

Arcena noticed how her boyfriend changed over time. Viray, according to Arcena, would get angry even over petty issues. That's when Viray started hitting Arcena. READ: Violence against women: Sex, power, abuse)


<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">He got so furious at the thought na i was gonna have a drink with my friend and that’s the first time he hit me.</p>&mdash; Kim (@dianekiimberly) <a href="https://twitter.com/dianekiimberly/status/1018134522607517696?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">July 14, 2018</a></blockquote>
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"At first, the bruises and scars weren't evident but as time passed by, things just got worse; the beatings," Arcena said. 

Arcena also posted some pictures after the most recent beating where she sustained bruises and hematoma all over her head and body.


<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">THIS WAS THE LAST AND THE WORST. I suffered from severe hematoma all over my head and body. My head was all tender from all the bruising, it was so bad i couldn’t so much as touch it for days. I also had a chest trauma, my ribs were bruised and I had trouble breathing for weeks <a href="https://t.co/YvZobtkYke">pic.twitter.com/YvZobtkYke</a></p>&mdash; Kim (@dianekiimberly) <a href="https://twitter.com/dianekiimberly/status/1018137972099637249?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">July 14, 2018</a></blockquote>
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The beatings happened 4 times: once on December 2017, another one on February, and twice on March. 

The Student Welfare and Development Committee (SWDC) of UST's College of Science looked into the incident.  Rappler was able to obtain a copy of the SWDC resolution. 

In his statement to the SWDC, Viray denied all the accusations of Arcena, saying that the bruise and scratches were caused by their having "rough sex."

The SWDC said in its resolution: "We don't believe that Diane would concoct a story." The committee concluded that Viray's acts "should be condemned and should not be countenanced." 

They found him guilty of violating the university's Code of Conduct and Discipline which prohibits students from "inflicting injuries, physical or otherwise, on another person, whether inside or outside the campus."  As a consequence, the SWDC decided Viray will not be allowed to attend the graduation ceremony and ordered him to perform "250 hours and community service."  

In the Manual of Regulations for Private Higher Education, provided by the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd), the committee said "the penalty for hooliganism or violent or destructive behaviour is Exclusion." However, SWDC opted for leniency after considering that Viray was a graduating student and the incident was his first offense. 

Arcena said she has filed a complaint against Viray in the prosecutor's office of Manila. 

Viray is yet to reply with our message requesting for an interview. (READ: Violence against women: Goodbye to Jesus)

Reactions from netizens

Netizens were quick to react after reading the abuse story of Arcena, with some even calling to expel Viray from the university. 


<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/UST1611official?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@UST1611official</a> please make sure the student who did this gets expelled. Also, please assist the girl in claiming her justice if it’s true that the guy only got community service as punishment.</p>&mdash; Charm Jayme (@charmjayme) <a href="https://twitter.com/charmjayme/status/1018201880810254336?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">July 14, 2018</a></blockquote>
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Gabriela Youth, in a statement denounced UST's "leniency," citing its punishment to Viray– just 250 hours of community service. 


<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">An institution should never be an enabler of abuse. We call on the UST admin to give proper sanctions fitting for the crime committed against these brave women. This is a testament that the feudal-patriarchal system in place allows for violence agaisnt women and culture of impu- <a href="https://t.co/l4VFBgeKV9">pic.twitter.com/l4VFBgeKV9</a></p>&mdash; Gabriela Youth (@gabrielayouthph) <a href="https://twitter.com/gabrielayouthph/status/1018406344175415296?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">July 15, 2018</a></blockquote>
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Here are some tweets condemning Viray's acts.


<a class="twitter-timeline" data-partner="tweetdeck" href="https://twitter.com/MovePH/timelines/1018734965289185280?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">Kyle Viray - Curated tweets by MovePH</a> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>


Rappler reached out to UST's Public Affairs Office and Social Media Bureau for statements but they haven't responded yet as of press time. 

Under the Republic Act 9262 or Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004, perpetrators, if proven guilty, will serve a prison term depending on the gravity of the crime, will pay a fine ranging from P100,000 to P300,000, and should undergo psychological counseling or psychiatric treatment. – Rappler.com

Angelika Ortega is the current executive editor of TomasinoWeb, the official digital media organization of University of Santo Tomas

[Right of Way] Bike commuting: The answer to beating traffic?


Road safety advocate Vince Lazatin goes on a bike ride around the metro with 3 experienced bike commuters – Jose Cortez, and Pio and Ethel Fortuno. They bike on designated cyclists' lanes, cross city borders, and talk about the pros and cons of being a bike commuter in Metro Manila. – Rappler.com

Jolted netizens liken #MMShakeDrill phone alarm to 'The Purge' siren


MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – At around 1 pm on Thursday, July 19, many people  momentarily panicked when their phones simultaneously blasted with an alarm that reminded them of the warning siren in the hit 2013 US film, The Purge.

The alarm, which was accompanied by a message, marked the start of this year's #MMShakeDrill organized by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).

The MMDA earlier said the date of the annual metro-wide earthquake drill would not be announced in advance even to government responders and the media.

MMDA public information officer Jan Paul Songsong said that a prompt would instead be sent on the morning of the drill via the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) short messaging service (SMS) that would initially inform the public about the schedule of the drill.

On Thursday morning, the warning message was sent out.


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Netizens shared how they initially panicked when the alarm rang.


<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="tl" dir="ltr">DO NOT PANIC? Eh mas nag panic pa ko dun sa alarm sound, muntik ko pa itapon phone ko <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MMShakeDrill?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MMShakeDrill</a> <a href="https://t.co/6e5FC8VofA">pic.twitter.com/6e5FC8VofA</a></p>&mdash; S E A N ☤ (@sean_nakar) <a href="https://twitter.com/sean_nakar/status/1019810901858271232?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">July 19, 2018</a></blockquote>
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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="tl" dir="ltr">Akala ko nasira phone ko sa alarm neto HAHAHAH <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/mmshakedrill?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#mmshakedrill</a> <a href="https://t.co/W4MTTCwtd4">pic.twitter.com/W4MTTCwtd4</a></p>&mdash; Kobe Felicia (@kobe_felicia) <a href="https://twitter.com/kobe_felicia/status/1019811728043913216?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">July 19, 2018</a></blockquote>
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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="tl" dir="ltr">KINABAHAN AKO DUN SA ALARM NG <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MMShakedrill?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MMShakedrill</a> kala ko may sasabog sa kwarto ko! kalokaaaaaa</p>&mdash; KRISTINE ABBEY (@MsKristineAbbey) <a href="https://twitter.com/MsKristineAbbey/status/1019819342874079232?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">July 19, 2018</a></blockquote>
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Many recalled the warning siren in The Purge. In the horror film, the siren signaled the start of 12-hour period when all crimes are considered legal, except the killing of politicians.


<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="fr" dir="ltr">Attention message. Parang Purge lang. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MMShakeDrill?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MMShakeDrill</a> <a href="https://t.co/UJzWzfQ33Z">pic.twitter.com/UJzWzfQ33Z</a></p>&mdash; Ry (@ryansoliveres) <a href="https://twitter.com/ryansoliveres/status/745444236250644480?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">June 22, 2016</a></blockquote>
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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MMShakeDrill?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MMShakeDrill</a> sounded like the start of The Purge.</p>&mdash; JM Cruz (@imbamanila) <a href="https://twitter.com/imbamanila/status/626591100719902722?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">July 30, 2015</a></blockquote>
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Hashtag #MMShakeDrill also trended on Twitter, garnering over 1 billion impressions, almost 100 million of which came from @rapplerdotcom, leading the Twitter activity among media outfits.


<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="tl" dir="ltr">Trending na ang <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MMShakeDrill?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MMShakeDrill</a>.<br><br>Sasali ka ba sa gawaing ito? Ibahagi ang iyong larawan at i-tag ang <a href="https://twitter.com/MovePH?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MovePH</a>. <a href="https://t.co/vfXQUwIgbj">pic.twitter.com/vfXQUwIgbj</a></p>&mdash; MovePH (@MovePH) <a href="https://twitter.com/MovePH/status/1019810248461172736?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">July 19, 2018</a></blockquote>
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Here are some other netizens' reactions and experiences when their phones sounded the #MMShakeDrill alarm.


<a class="twitter-timeline" data-partner="tweetdeck" href="https://twitter.com/MovePH/timelines/1019835134453768192?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MMShakeDrill Phone Alarm - Curated tweets by MovePH</a> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>


Republic Act 10639 or The Free Mobile Disaster Alerts Act signed in 2014 mandates all telecommunications service providers to send free mobile alerts in times of natural and man-made disasters and calamities.

The annual #MMShakeDrill drill is geared towards assessing and strengthening the capacity of individuals, households, and local government units in responding to the "Big One."

Based on the Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study (MMEIRS), a study that analyzed the different possible earthquake scenarios, the strong earthquake that could hit the mega city will leave 33,500 people dead and an about 113,600 more injured. – Rappler.com