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Laguna-based rehab center champions mental health through comic book


DEDICATION. The One Algon Place Foundation launches Cyber Brain comic book on February 22, 2019 at New World Hotel, Makati City. (From left to right: Dr. Eric Tayag, Mr. Rudin Gonzalez III, Atty. Toni Umali). Photo by Nicole Anne Del Rosario/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Laguna-based rehabilitation facility The One Algon Place Foundation has unveiled a comic book series that tackles mental health and forms of addiction among the youth.

Launched at the New World Hotel in Makati City on Friday February 22, the series entitled Cyber Brain is dedicated to the foundation's late founder Rudin Gonzales Jr, his son Rudin III said.

The comic book series is about a man’s overdependence on technology in a highly-digitized world and how it affects people’s state of mind.

Mental health is one of society’s most pressing concerns being addressed by various government agencies and other organizations. The promotion of mental health and well-being, and the prevention and treatment of substance abuse have been included in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs).

In the Philippines,  Republic Act No. 11036 or the Mental Health Act of the Philippines was signed into law in 2018, while its implementing rules and regulations were issued in January. (READ: A cry for help: Mental health illness, suicide cases rising among youth)

Reaching out to youth

“While these issues are being discussed in various venues, we need to reach out to those with the highest stakes – the children themselves. And we need to do it in a manner they would grasp,” said Cyber Brain author Cel Casas Gonzales.

The story revolves around the character named Uno, an adopted barrio child who has special powers and great mental strength, who is on a quest for his identity and origin.

In his quest, he reaches Tech City, where he finds his true mission.

The comic book aims to spread awareness and educate people, especially the youth, about the importance of mental health through an innovative way. (READ: [OPINION] A psychiatrist’s view: Common misconceptions about mental health)

It also seeks to work hand-in-hand with government and private institutions on a creative campaign for mental health awareness among Filipinos.

Gonzales, an accredited Department of Health rehabilitation practitioner, believes that comics are one of the best ways to deliver the message to any target audience because people are used to bold colors, catchy images, and clever dialogues.

She said Cyber Brain is a product of workshops, surveys, consultations, and roadshows across various schools in Metro Manila. She wrote the book with other contributors, while her brother, Carmelo Casas, took care of the illustrations.

“Among the behavioral issues that surfaced in the roadshows were bullying, violence, computer addiction, gaming and pornography, absenteeism and tardiness, disrespect for elders, and poor study habits,” Gonzales said.

To address these issues, a forum on mental health was conducted after the book launch together with DOH Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag and Education Undersecretary Tony Umali.

“You cannot be a passive observer. Every moment counts,” Tayag said.

During the forum, Tayag reminded everyone to take part in ensuring good mental health for every Filipino which is an integral part of health.

He also called on all Filipinos, especially the youth, to take action to protect everyone’s mental health by tapping Hopeline, the 24-hour suicide prevention hotline launched by the DOH, World Health Organization, and Natasha Goulbourn Foundation (NGF).

Hopeline may be reached at (02) 804-HOPE (4673), 0917-558-HOPE (4673), and 2919 for Globe and TM subscribers.

Victim, not offender

People who may be under the influence of illegal drugs, including the youth, may also reach out through Hopeline to ask for help regarding their problems.

“A child must be treated as a victim rather than an offender,” Umali said.

He stressed that a child under the influence of illegal drugs still have the right to education under Article XIII Section 1 of the Philippine Constitution. However, certain disciplinary sanctions shall be given such as bringing them to a rehabilitation center.  

 HELPING A CHILD. Every purchase of the comic book means sponsorship of a “student” or a drug dependent child from the The Academy of Hope rehabilitation center. Photo by Nicole Anne Del Rosario/Rappler

Buy a comic book, help a child

The One Algon Place Foundation Executive Director Rudin Gonzales III announced that every purchase of the comic book will mean the sponsorship of a “student” or a drug-dependent child at The Academy of Hope rehabilitation center.

You can have a copy of the comic book for only ₱150. Cyber Brain can also be downloaded online. It is available at The One Algon Place Foundation, Inc, 0633 Barangay Mamatid, Cabuyao, Laguna. 

He’s also eyeing the release of the comic book through different book stores nationwide. – Rappler.com

Nicole Anne D. Del Rosario is a Rappler Intern. She is a 4th year AB Communication student of De La Salle University-Dasmariñas.


‘Tay, may abogado ka na:' Lawyer pays tribute to taho vendor


REUNITED. Alex and Tatay Dong reunite take their first ever photo together after 2 years at the UP Sunken Garden on February 23, 2019. Photo from Alex Castro

MANILA, Philippines – It's been two years since College of Law graduate Alex Castro last visited the University of the Philippines-Diliman. On Saturday, February 23, she finally went back to look for the great mantataho (soy pudding vendor) – her Tatay Dong. 

In a now viral post, Alex expressed her immense gratitude to Tatay Dong, a taho vendor whom she met in 2009. Coming from a broken family, Alex found an honorary father in UP-Diliman through the taho vendor. (READ: Taxi driver-lawyer is driven to succeed)

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When she was a freshman, she would always see Tatay Dong every 7 am outside the building where her morning classes were held, and chatted with him over taho.

When the taho vendor found out that Alex went to school with an empty stomach, he waited for her with a fresh cup of taho every morning until she completed her undergrad degree. (READ: [OPINION] Gears shifted: From nurse to lawyer)

According to Alex, the taho vendor always made it a point to interact with the students in UP.

Although Alex was just one of his regulars, Tatay Dong was always so protective of her.

During a rainy day in December 2009, Tatay Dong handed Alex a package along with her usual taho.

Alex narrated, “When I opened it, it was your jacket. The one you were wearing the previous morning and all the mornings before that – your only jacket...The only thing you said to me when I tried to give it back for the last time was: ‘Nilabhan ko na ‘yan, 'Nak. Iyo na ‘yan,’ (I already washed that, child. It’s yours).” 

Eventually, Alex returned the favor by giving him a new jacket to wear. Tatay Dong wore it with so much pride and with such a huge smile every morning.

“Whenever your friends asked about it, you’d always say, ‘Bigay ng anak ko ‘yan,” Alex said. (This was given by my daughter.)

“You were such a huge part of my UP experience. In fact, I can’t think about UP without thinking about you,” added Alex.

After graduating cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2013, Alex went straight to the UP College of Law. (READ: Make or break: My freshman law story)

In 2017, she graduated from UP Law and took the bar exams after. She is now a licensed lawyer.

Since she graduated in 2017, she hasn’t been able to visit UP because she was preparing for the bar exams and went straight to work. (READ: Filipino Penn Law grad to classmates: Be responsible world citizens)

Alex did not see Tatay Dong. They had no communication at all after she graduated. The only way for Alex to see him or talk to him was to search for him in UP which she was unable to do due to her busy schedule.

On February 23, Alex went to UP early in the morning for her frisbee training. She was already looking for Tatay Dong when she arrived at the Sunken Garden, but he was not there that morning.

Fortunately, his friend, who was also a taho vendor, saw Alex and told Tatay Dong about the good news.

Alex couldn’t help but smile when she saw Tatay Dong rushing to the Sunken Garden from afar. After a decade, Alex was finally able to utter the words that Tatay Dong said he would wait to hear from her.

Tay, may abogado ka na (Dad, you have a lawyer now),” Alex said.

Tatay Dong was so delighted when Alex said those words, expressing how proud he was of her.

She recounted Tatay Dong’s words when he found out she was finally a lawyer.

Alam mo, nasa sa 'kin pa yung jacket na binigay mo. Paminsan, tinitingnan ko yun, sinusuot. Tapos naaalala kita. Naiisip ko kung kamusta ka na. Abogado ka na pala.”

(Did you know, I still have the jacket you gave me. Sometimes, I look at it, wear it, and then I remember you. I always wonder about how you are. And now you’re already a lawyer.)  

Alex said that she couldn’t help but be moved and inspired by Tatay Dong. The way he touched so many lives reminded her to strive to be kind to everyone.

“'Yun 'yung legit na (That’s the legit), ‘When I grow up, I want to be just like him’ – something I never had the chance to say about my own father,” Alex said.

Netizens were also touched by Alex and Tatay Dong’s special father-and-daughter relationship. They praised Alex for not forgetting about the taho vendor whom she considers as her honorary father. (READ: Former Comelec janitor to lawyer – dreams come true at 2016 Bar exams)

Alex encourages students and school alumni to thank the people in the community who had helped and cared for them along the way. She also suggests taking time to chat with them a little whenever they bump into them.

“It requires very little effort from us, but it means the world to them whenever we do,” Alex said. – Rappler.com

Nicole Anne D. Del Rosario is a Rappler Intern. She is a 4th year AB Communication student of De La Salle University-Dasmariñas.

‘Don't be a headline reader’: Cagayano journalists speak up against disinformation


CAGAYAN, Philippines – The problem of disinformation isn’t just concentrated in Metro Manila. Up north in Tuguegarao City, Cagayan, on Tuesday, February 26, students listened to homegrown journalists share their run-ins with faulty sources.

Some 400 students from various colleges and universties in Cagayan and Isabela attended the #MoveCagayan: Social Good in the Digital Age Forum at at the Cagayan State University-Carig.

Joshua Kahulugan, editor-in-chief of The Northern Forum, reminded the crowd of recent reports of bomb threats in SM Cagayan and the provincial capitol, which were shared fast on Facebook and messenger apps. It was only after the rumors had spread that he found out it was an old news piece from 2013. 

Student leader and The CSU Communicator's Julius Catulin chimed in with another recent rumor that spread across the Cagayan State University system.

May news na 'kinakalat na free ang ating diploma, toga, at TOR (News was being spread that our diplomas, togas, and transcripts of records were for free),” he shared. “We were shocked because we didn’t know this. So we verified this news and found out that all these free things were for Catanduanes State University, not Cagayan State University.”  

Forum moderator and Rappler correspondent Raymon Dullana also shared the confusion that occurred during Typhoon Ompong. Locals weren’t sure whether Ompong was classified as a typhoon or a supertyphoon because the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) and foreign meteorological services had conflicting reports at one point.

Talagang nakakalito. Ang hirap na i-determine kung sino ang paniniwalaan (It’s really confusing. It’s so hard now to determine who can be believed),” noted community broadcaster Jan Justin Rodriguez. “Talagang hindi maganda ang epekto nito sa taumbayan (This certainly isn’t good for the community)." 

Rappler managing editor Glenda Gloria acknowledged that “to share what you haven’t read is human nature.” 

So how can the Cagayano community, and the world at large, avoid confusion and potentially dangerous errors? 

“First, you have to verify the source of the post,” Gloria continued. “Second, you have to look at the dates. Sometimes the event is true, but it’s old and has a different context. Third, be aware that you’re being manipulated.”

“Don’t be a headline reader,” Kahulugan stressed, recalling how he would be tagged as biased for one side of an issue by people who clearly didn’t read the article itself, and just based their opinions on the title. 

For Rappler reporter Lian Buan, press releases also shouldn’t be prioritized by journalists, especially on the justice beat. 

“I don’t read press releases. Why read it when I can just read the actual court decision?” she said. “Don’t rely on press releases, especially if it’s easy for you to go to the main source anyway. With press releases, you wouldn’t know what has been highlighted and what has been hidden.”

“As much as possible, use first-hand information,” Catulin added.

“For students, read between the lines,” advised Rodriquez. “Don’t just click. 'Wag tangkilikin ang mga hindi na-verify na information. Maging matalinong reader tayo. Hindi lang follow lang nang follow. Tumulong tayo sa pag-create ng awareness ng makabuluhang komunikasyon gamit ang social media.” 

(Don’t subscribe to unverified information. Let’s be smart readers, not just ones who keep following and following. Let’s help create awareness on meaningful communication using social media.)

“Disinformation, propaganda, and lies are the new weapons of choice of the corrupt, bad leaders, bad governments all over the world,” said Gloria in conclusion. “For you to embrace that is very significant. You have to be aware that this is war. Information is power, and it only serves the good only if you allow it to be used for good.”

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VIRAL: Grade 2 student from Samar uses makeshift ballpen for school


 Grade 2 student uses makeshift ballpen for his seatwork.Photos from Maricor Bacunata

MANILA, Philippines – For 8-year-old Jan Kim Enario, even without a 'real' ballpen to write he will still find a way to do his seatwork.

In the photos uploaded on February 27 on Facebook by his teacher, Maricor Baculanta, Jan Kim was using his makeshift ballpen during their class.


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Jan Kim is a Grade 2 student of Union Elementary School in Sta. Rita, Samar, a one-hour ride from Tacloban City. 

The story of Jan Kim 

Maricor narrated that she was giving her class an exercise when she noticed that there was something different about Jan Kim’s ballpen. She wasn’t able to find out immediately because he was too shy to show it. 

By the time that Jan Kim got even more determined to answer his exercise, he stopped covering his pen with his other hand. Maricor saw that Jan Kim’s ballpen was only made up of a ballpen ink chamber and tip, rubber band, and a piece of wood. (READ: Donations pour in for student who wrote 'heartbreaking' excuse letter

When she asked where he got that pen, he said:“Akon la maam, ballpen ha amon balay na guba na an balayan.” (I was the one who made it, ma’am. It’s a ballpen with a broken barrel that I found at home.)

Because it still had ink, he imrprovised to be able to use it as a ballpen. 

“Actually, diri pa dapat hira nagamit hin ballpen. Han nagpakiana hiya kun pwede hiya gumamit hin ballpen, diri man ako maaram na sugad an pustura han iya ballpen. Siring niya ha akon nga waray hiya lapis pero mayda hiya ballpen. Tumugot ako pero siring ko nga ha susunod, lapis na an gagamiton,” Maricor narrated.  

(Actually, for his grade level, he is still not supposed to use a ballpen. When he asked me if he could use it, I didn’t know that it looked like that. He told me that he doesn’t have a pencil but he has a ballpen. I allowed him to use it but next time, he should use a pencil.)

She said that when she learned that Jan Kim was using his improvised pen, she couldn't help but cry. 

"Pagkatapos han amon klase, diri pa talaga ako nakakamove-on. Pagstorya ko ha akon mga co-teachers, nahingangatuok la gihap ako (Even after our class that day, I could not easily move on with what I saw. I couldn't help but cry when I shared it to my co-teachers)," Maricor recounted. 

When the photos were posted online by Maricor, she didn’t expect that they would go viral. She said she would appreciate any opportunity that would be available to help Jan Kim and his school. She is also hopeful that maybe someone will even help him finish his studies. (READ: Donate books, help Lumad students finish college)

“Nagpapasalamat ako ha Ginoo nga nagkaada hin positive outcome an akon pagpost. Kunta maging inspirasyon ha mga bata yana labi na ha mga nakakaprovide hin complete school supplies nga tagan hin importansya an ira mga gamit, kun ano man an meada nira yana,” Maricor told Rappler.

(I am thankful to God that my Facebook post gained a positive result. I hope it would serve as an inspiration to the young ones – especially to those students who are provided with the complete school supplies; that they would see the importance of the things that they have now.) 

Determined to learn

After their regular class, Maricor usually conducts remedial classes to her students who'd be willing to learn and practice more on reading; and Jan Kim is one of them. 

Although he's a soft-spoken student, Maricor said that Jan Kim is hardworking, behaved, shows eagerness to learn, and is always present in class. 

"Siring niya, gusto niya maging teacher (He said he wanted to be a teacher)", Maricor added.

Netizens look for ways to reach out

Netizens admired Jan Kim’s determination and resourcefulness. (READ: Kid studying on Cebu sidewalk inspires netizens)

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


<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"><p lang="tl" dir="ltr">Ang sakit sa puso... Paano po makakatulong?</p>&mdash; Gian Macaspac (@gian_macaspac) <a href="https://twitter.com/gian_macaspac/status/1101384356164132864?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 1, 2019</a></blockquote>
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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">My 7 y.o. grand daughter Isabela cried when she saw this. She said that she wants to share her pencils and pens to the little poor boy. She asked how can she help. I hope our politicians have hearts as my grand daughter.</p>&mdash; dawdaw888 (@hycinth888) <a href="https://twitter.com/hycinth888/status/1101411699721027585?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 1, 2019</a></blockquote>
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How to help

In a phone interview with Rappler, Maricor said that donations like school supplies, reading materials such as supplementary and story books, educational flashcards, would be appreciated. Any help to improve their school building and facilities is welcome as well.

Maricor said that donations may be directed to her since the parents of Jan Kim don’t have a contact number or a Facebook account.

Donations may be sent using the following details: 



Contact Number: +639774876571

– Rappler.com



Xavier University slams red-tagging of its faculty, immersion program


MANILA, Philippines– Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan (XU) denounced the black propaganda that linked a number of its faculty and its immersion program to communist rebels and terrorists.

In a statement released on Friday, March 1, university president Fr. Roberto C. Yap, SJ, slammed the red-tagging incident as an orchestrated effort to intimidate faculty members and undermine its programs.

“We vehemently condemn this malicious, slanderous, and groundless red-tagging against some XU personalities and one of our well-established immersion programs,” he said.

Two boxes containing the black propaganda, printed on a long bond paper, were reported to have been found during an opening program of a photo exhibit by XU development communication students in a mall in Cagayan de Oro City on February 20.

Local mall security seized the boxes to prohibit its distribution.

“This propaganda is devoid of any semblance of truth and substance. We must be critical and discerning in our news and information consumption, especially with those which were propagated and distributed through disreputable modes and channels,” Yap added.

He further clarified that XU’s programs are in line with their “ethos of forming leaders who will be instrumental in promoting interreligious and intercultural dialogue, nation-building, and sustainable development.”

“We would like to assure the Xavier Ateneo community... that we continue to look out for our safety and security at all times... No evidence exists that our university, programs, and activities are currently exposed to any grave threat,” Yap said.

Just recently, there was a similar case of red-tagging in Cagayan de Oro City.  An anonymous handout containing a list tagging several groups and individuals as members of the Communist Party of the Philippines was distributed to journalists on February 22.

In light of recent incidents, Yap encouraged all people to be vigilant and to think critically of the state of the nation.

“This calls us to unite as one Xavier Ateneo to exercise our academic freedom in pursuit of truth and speaking truth to power to build a healthier and more effective democratic society,” he said. – Rappler.com

Tea Time with Vince and Frank: Is EDSA Metro Manila's biggest ticket trap?


MANILA, Philippines – Right of Way's road safety advocate Vince Lazatin and VISOR.ph's motoring writer Frank Schuengel head over to EDSA, at the spot close to the Total gas station, Boni MRT station, and the Polymedic Hospital.

Because of the absence of proper road markings in the area, going to these establishments via car could be tantamount to breaking the law.

Join Vince and Frank as they discuss the rather complicated matter of getting ticketed while doing your business along EDSA.

More episodes from the Tea Time with Right of Way and VISOR series

Laguna newspaper out to prove print is not dying


PRINT IS NOT DYING. 'Laguna NOW' is a newsweekly paper in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, covering local politics, entertainment, and Lifestyle. Photo by Bonz Magsambol/Rappler

LAGUNA, Philippines – While most news organizations are turning digital, a media start-up in Santa Rosa, Laguna, has ventured into the print business with the goal of telling stories of the community.

Laguna NOW, a newspaper founded by former journalist Ayishah Conde, addresses the lack of a newsweekly in the northern part of the province.

“We saw a void here in Laguna. There’s no daily. Daily information comes from the broadsheets like Inquirer, mainly because Laguna is located near Manila,” Conde said.

Banking on her experience and network of journalists, and with the support of her family, Conde put up a media company named Conde Media Publishing Services. It was a dream come true for her, her husband, and 4 children.

“It was our brainchild. When we moved here [Laguna], we thought of going back to what we love to do,” shared Conde.

Aside from publishing a newsweekly, the media start-up also releases a monthly magazine, Lifestyle Laguna, which features tourist spots, restaurants, and celebrities who live in the province.

Print ‘not dying’

People are consuming more information today than before. With the rise of digital media, people’s access to information is just a click away. (READ: Over 3.4 billion people actively use social media – report)

So why take a risk and get into the print business when newspapers are moving online? (READ: How are newspapers surviving in the digital age?)

For Conde, print won’t die anytime soon. As a former journalist and media observer, she believes that it will still take decades for the newspaper to vanish.

“In other countries perhaps, but in the Philippines, I don’t think so. We may have the most number of internet users in the world but some people, especially in the provinces, still don’t have access or don’t know how to use it, especially the old ones,” shared Conde.

She added that their target market are the retirees in their locality who don’t access the internet on a regular basis. She and her team conducted a demographic research before their operations went in full swing.

“We surveyed the northern part of Laguna and we found that people living here are retirees who still enjoy reading the paper,” said Conde.

A recent report showed that the time spent online by Filipinos daily soared from 9 hours and 29 minutes last year to 10 hours and 2 minutes this year, the highest in the world. (READ: Filipinos spend most time online, on social media worldwide – report)

‘Localized’ content

Conde said that it’s their love of community journalism that inspires them to do what they do. “The people here have interesting stories to share. Their stories are rich and need to be told,” Conde said.

Laguna NOW covers a wide range of issues – from local politics, entertainment, and lifestyle. But their coverage is not limited to the happenings in the province.

According to Conde, their paper also covers issues of national interest, but they make sure that these are still relevant and interesting to their local readers.

Explaining how they do it, Conde said, they are “localizing” national issues to catch the attention of every Lagunense.

“We tackle national issues and make sure to add local flavor so these stories would be more interesting to the community,” added Conde.

NATIONAL ISSUES, TOO. In their first issue, 'Laguna NOW' runs a story on the administration's bloody drug war. Photo by Bonz Magsambol/Rappler

In their first issue, the newspaper ran a story on the administration's bloody drug war and cited the fact that Laguna had the most number of drug war-related deaths. Their team did a series of interviews and got in touch with the families of the victims who expressed their disapproval of the police’s “nanlaban” (resist) style in running after drug suspects. (READ: Duterte gov't allows 'drug war' deaths to go unsolved)

Challenges, future plans

While getting advertisers remains as the biggest hurdle for the media start-up, retrieving documents from government offices also poses a major challenge.

According to Neal Andrei Lalusin, a staff writer, requesting for government data takes time. “Matagal sila mag process ng request. Manghihingi pa sila ng letter tapos matagal din mag reply. Nade-delay talaga ‘yung pag susulat ng istorya,” added Lalusin. (It takes a long time for them a to process a request. They would ask for a letter then takes time to reply.)

Interviewing people on the ground is a problem too, shared Lalusin.“Takot sila sa interview. Parang iniisip agad nila na may ginawa ba silang masama,” he said. (They fear interviews. They think that they did something wrong.)

But for Conde, these hurdles are just half the battle.

Asked how are they going to tap millennial readers, Conde said they will strengthen their social media presence once their print operations become stable.

Conde also hopes that someday, their paper will branch out in different parts of the country. “So, in the near future, hopefully the near future, merong Lifestyle Cagayan de Oro, Cagayan de Oro Now,” said Conde. – Rappler.com


#MoveCavite: MovePH, DLSU-D hold Social Good in the Digital Age forum


MANILA, Philippines – How can we use social media for social good? How can ordinary citizens take part in preventing the spread of disinformation online?

These are some of the questions that the forum “Social Good in the Digital Age” intends to answer.

The third stop for this year’s series of MovePH forums and workshops will be in Cavite at 9 am, March 12,  at De La Salle University-Dasmariñas’ Alumni Auditorium. (READ: MovePH heads to Saint Louis University for #MoveBaguio)

The forum, organized by Rappler’s MovePH and the Lasallian Community Development Center, aims to explain the nature of disinformation online and to highlight the role of a free and independent press in preserving democracy.

Read Rappler's propaganda war series:

Tickets to the forum are free, but seats are limited. Register below:

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The program proper is as follows: 

Time Activity
8:15 - 9:00 am Registration

9:00 - 9:15 am

Welcome Remarks

9:15 - 9:30 am

Getting to know you/ Levelling off activity

9:30 - 10:00 am

Power of Social Media: Using technology for social good

Miriam Grace Go
News Editor, Rappler

Q and A after (10 mins)

10:00 - 10:15 am Discussion: Social media etiquette
10:15 - 10:45 am Talk: Being a reporter in the time of disinformation
Aika Rey
Reporter, Rappler
10:45 - 11:15 am

Talk: Responsible use of digital media
Paige Occeñola
Head of Digital Communications, Rappler

11:15 - 11:45 am

Panel discussion: Why facts matter

Paige Occeñola
Head of Digital Communications, Rappler

Jay Beltran
DILG Region 4-A

Student journalist

Moderated by:

Russel Patina
Civic Engagement Specialist

11:45 - 12:00 nn


Russel Patina
Civic Engagement Specialist

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

Be part of the MovePH and Rappler network! Meet like-minded individuals from across the country with whom you can collaborate on projects and advocacies, and be part of the fight for a free press and progressive Philippines! – Rappler.com

MovePH goes to U.P. College of Law for #MoveDiliman


MANILA, Philippines – How can Filipinos use social media to hold the line and promote social good? 

MovePH, Rappler’s civic engagement arm, will go to the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Law on March 12, 1 pm, at the Malcolm Theater to promote the responsible use of digital technology for social good.

#MoveDiliman will be the fourth stop in MovePH’s series of forums and workshops around the Philippines to help communities take action and promote social good in the digital age. This is in partnership with the Harvard Law School Alumni Association of the Philippines. 

Participants get to learn the relevance of responsible social media use for advocacies, and understand how they can take an active role in identifying, handling, and preventing disinformation.

Those joining #MoveDiliman will also be able to learn about the global landscape of technology, and hear interesting insights involving existing legal frameworks to deal with disinformation on social media.

Tickets to the public forum are free, but seats are limited. Register below:


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The program proper is as follows:

Time Activity
1:00 - 1:30 pm Registration
1:30 - 1:45 pm

Welcome remarks 

UP College of Law

1:45 - 2:30 pm

The global landscape of technology and disinformation

Maria Ressa
CEO and executive editor, Rappler

2:30 - 3:00 pm

Insights from Sharktank: How social media is used in disinformation, elections

Gemma Bagayaua-Mendoza
Head of research and strategy, Rappler

3:00 - 3:30 pm

Legal framework to deal with social media/disinformation

Atty. Gwen de Vera
Professor, UP College of Law

3:30 - 4:00 pm

Doing journalism at a time of disinformation

Pia Ranada
Multimedia reporter, Rappler

4:00 - 4:30 pm


4:30 - 4:45 pm

Wrap up/ Synthesis

Be part of the MovePH and Rappler network! Meet like-minded individuals from across the country with whom you can collaborate on projects and advocacies, and be part of the fight for a free press and progressive Philippines! Rappler.com


VIRAL: Father sells banana cake for son's liver transplant


LAGUNA, Philippines– A heartwarming photo of a father selling banana cake in the streets of Calamba, Laguna, has gone viral on social media.

Antonio Detablan sells homemade banana cakes for P120 each to save money for a P1.6-million liver transplant for his 8-month-old son who was diagnosed with biliary atresia.

Biliary atresia is a rare disease of the liver and bile ducts, which occurs in one out of 10,000 infants.

Netizen Jenny Sumalpong uploaded on Facebook photos of Detablan desperately selling cakes on the street while holding Baby Aki in his hands. The post has been shared 140,000 times and garnered 40,000 reactions as of writing. 

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Antonio's wife, Jabee, said Baby Aki has two more siblings : Annezki Jazz, 8; and Arkhin Jazz, 4. Arkhin is a hydrocephalus survivor.

Asked how much was already raised for Baby Aki’s liver transplant, Jabee said, “Wala pa po sa kalingkingan ng P1.6 million. Halos P100,000 pa lang po ang meron kami (It's very far from the target of P1.6 million. We only have around P100,000)."

Baby Aki’s doctor said the baby to undergo the liver transplant before he turns one or else, he would not be able to reach the age of two. In the meantime, Baby Aki is being given multivitamins as part of his preparations for his operation.

Those who are interested to help the family  can buy their banana cakes at 170 Barangay San Juan, Calamba City, Laguna, or by donating any amount to Aquirro Jazz Detablan, BDO Savings Account No. 005910516001. – Rappler.com

Maria Gabriela Aquino is a Rappler intern. She is a senior high school student at Mapua University taking the Humanities and Social Sciences track. 



Women's rights groups to march against misogyny on March 8


EMPOWERED. Women advocates pose to stand against misogyny in a press conference held at St. Scholastica's Archives Museum College on March 6. Photo by Maria Gabriela Aquino

MANILA, Philippines – Various women's rights groups will initiate a broad and collective action to uphold women's rights on Friday, March 8, by marching from Morayta to Luneta in celebration of International Women's Day. (READ: 8 incredible things women do for the world)

"Tama na! Sulong kababaihan!" (Enough! Onward, women!) is the cry of this year's movement, organized by women's alliance groups such as Gabriela, Bahaghari Metro Manila, Center for Women's Resources, Salinlahi, Association for the Rights of Children in South East Asia, Kilusan ng Manggagawang Kababaihan, BABAE Network, and AMIHAN National Federation of Peasant Women.

Through the event, the groups want to make a stand against President Rodrigo Duterte's misogynistic behavior and remarks.

"The unmistakable odor of a decaying system can no longer be masked by misogynist remarks and rape jokes that are now consistently being used to lend humor to presidential speeches. This is why we know our fight for gender equality is on the right track. But we still have a long way to go," Senator Leila De Lima said in her solidarity message on Wednesday, March 6. 

The event hopes to unite people – regardless of gender, age, social class, ideological differences, and political affiliations – to rise against the inequality being experienced by women today. (QUIZ: Besides Women's Month, what else do we celebrate in March?)

Here is the schedule of activities on March 8:

11:00 am - Assembly at University of Santo Tomas, Morayta

1:00-2:00 pm - Program proper at Mendiola

3:00-4:00 pm - March to Liwasang Bonifacio

Participants are requested to wear purple. – Rappler.com

Maria Gabriela Aquino is a Rappler intern. She is a senior high school student at Mapua University taking the Humanities and Social Sciences track. 

U.P. revisits history in Diliman Commune Tour


FREE TOUR. Before approaching Melchor Hall, tour guide and UP Diliman student Joshua Matthew Dy gathers the group near Plaridel Hall. Photo by Sofia Faye Virtudes/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Participants of Lakad Gunita 2019 revisited the stories and accounts of the 1971 Diliman Commune, as part of the themed walking tour.

Sarah Briones, University of the Philippines Asian Institute of Tourism (UP AIT) Information and Reservations Officer, said that Lakad Gunita aims to showcase the greenery, architecture, art, and rich history of UP Diliman, to which the Diliman Commune significantly contributed.

With UP Diliman students as tour guides, the tour highlights campus halls that stood witness to violence and unrest during the Commune.

“It’s not just the history of Diliman, it’s Philippine history,” Briones said, explaining the importance of the Commune and its relation to the declaration of Martial Law.

Walk down memory lane

In February 1971, a year before then-president Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law, UP students, along with faculty members and nearby residents, began barricading the campus from military intrusions, birthing the Diliman Commune.

Students were hurt and arrested during the 9-day resistance. Math professor Inocentes Campos, a known critic of activists, shot at the students and killed Pastor “Sonny” Mesina Jr in the process. 

The communards voluntarily took down the barricades on February 10, 1971, in exchange for their granted demands, including the prohibition of military intrusion in the campus, as forwarded by the “Provisional Directorate ng Demokratikong Komunidad ng Diliman.”

The UP community continues to celebrate the spirit of the uprising, which built UP’s reputation as a bastion of student activism in the country.

Within and beyond the walls of the halls

The tour began at Quezon Hall, where the Philippine wartime flag – with the red side up – was raised during the Commune, and the Oblation status was painted red, to symbolize the uprising. University Avenue in front of the hall was barricaded with logs and tree branches to block vehicles from entering the campus. 

FIRST STOP. The picturesque Quezon Hall holds witness to the human barricades along University Avenue on the first day of the 1971 Diliman Commune. Photo by Sofia Faye Virtudes/Rappler

Students of the College of Mass Communication (then the Institute of Mass Communication) in Plaridel Hall took over university radio station DZUP and reported updates of campus events during the Commune.

Melchor Hall housed the College of Engineering students who aimed kwitis (skyrockets) at Air Force helicopters that attempted to land on the hall’s helipad, embodying the wit and grit of their college protest, “Engineer the downfall of the US-Marcos regime.”

Engineering alumnus Ojie Alzona, 64, shared his first-hand account of the uprising.

“Karamihan sa mga nagproduce ng weapons against flying objects were College of Engineering students... 'Yung mga estudyante, naghahagis ng mga silya para gawing barikada (Most of those who produced weapons against the flying objects were College of Engineering students. Other students threw chairs to make barricades),” Alzona, then a 15-year-old freshman, said.

Ramon Ramirez, Alzona’s fraternity brother, recounted his experience of getting arrested twice during the Commune.

The Sampaguita Residence Hall, where the campus ladies’ dormitory is, served as a safehouse for communards and provided food rations to students guarding the barricades.

 Vinzons Hall bore witness to the barricade extending over to the Katipunan gate to keep out militarists from Camp Aguinaldo. It also served as a venue for mass meetings during the Commune.

Tour takeaway

Tour guide Joshua Matthew Dy, a 20-year-old history student, explained that the Diliman Commune prompted Marcos to ban student organizations in the campus.

“He was that afraid of the potential of UP,” Dy said.

Dy also pointed out that it is important to revisit the accounts of those who were part of the Commune to “serve as a reminder that it’s happened,” especially when the Marcoses have regained prominence, and are back in Philippine politics.

“[It is important] to correct the statements of what really happened in the past, to determine what really happened, to preclude the assertion of false thoughts and false interpretations," said UP alumnus and former Philippine Collegian layout artist Rafael Teston, 59.

His wife, Rowena Alvarez, who was with him on the tour, said she felt as though their generation had failed to keep the spirit of the uprising, citing the resurgence of the Marcoses.

Asked about his main takeaway from the tour, Teston said there's work that still needs to be done in educating the youth amid the systematic historical revisionism on social media. But he remains hopeful and commended the young tour guides for their insightful discussions of the Commune.

“There is still a long way to go to re-educate the youth of what happened. But given that the [tour] guides are the youth, there is promise, there is hope,” Teston said.

The Diliman Commune Tour, organized by UPD Office for Initiatives in Culture and the Arts and UP IAT, is held every Tuesday from 2:30 pm to 5:30 pm until March 29, 2019. – Rappler.com

Sofia Faye Virtudes is a Rappler intern. She is a Development Communication graduate from the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB). 


Donations pour in for Grade 2 student who uses makeshift pen


DONATIONS FOR JAN KIM. Jan Kim Enario and his classmates at the Union Elementary School receive donations from concerned netizens and institutions. Photo by Maricor Baculanta

MANILA, Philippines – Netizens have extended their help to the Grade 2 student from  Samar who used a makeshift pen for schoolwork.

Teacher Maricor Baculanta had shared on Facebook photos of her 8-year-old student Jan Kim Enario after she noticed that he used an improvised pen in class. (READ: VIRAL: Grade 2 student from Samar uses makeshift ballpen for school)

As of Thursday, March 7, the post has drawn 34,000 reactions and was shared 38,000 times.

Soon after the photos went viral, netizens expressed their desire to help Jan Kim.

Delfin Novio, 24, donated money to Jan Kim a day after he saw Maricor’s post. The money was spent on slippers, bags, paper, ballpens, pencils, and Jolibee meals for Jan Kim and his classmates to share at the Union Elementary School in Sta Rita, Samar. (READ: InspireCourage: The education of Daniel Cabrera)

Novio said that he didn’t hesitate to help Jan Kim and his classmates. He said that when he saw Jan Kim's photo, he saw the kid’s determination to pursue his dreams.

Teacher Maricor said that aside from Jan Kim and his 21 classmates, 235 students from their school also received help. (READ: Donations pour in for student who wrote 'heartbreaking' excuse letter

The Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) Office of Region VIII and the Department of Education (DepEd) Samar visited Union Elementary School just this week and gave their donations as well.

Donations may be directed to Maricor Baculanta of Union Elementary School in Sta Rita, Samar, at 09774876571.– Rappler.com

[Right of Way] Road Signs 101


MANILA, Philippines – Faulty road signs are the most discussed issues in Right of Way over the past year, ranging from the too wordy to those obstructed from public view

The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has responded to the series, citing lack of budget and resources as the biggest hindrance to proper signmaking. They, however, took corrective action in some localities, such as this stretch of Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City.

In this first of a series, road safety advocate Vince Lazatin learns from 3M's John Vallinan how road signs ought to be made – from the proper fonts, to the standard colors, to the reflectivity of the material. Then, they visit the MMDA's signmaking workshop and tour its facilities. – Rappler.com

NYC chief defends Sara Duterte: Honesty remark 'taken out of context'


NYC chief Ronald Cardema's photo from RTVM screenshot; Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte's photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – For National Youth Commission (NYC) chairman Ronald Cardema, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte’s statement about honesty– that it was the trait of political candidates – was taken out of context.

According to Cardema, Sara was just “angered by mudslinging, lies, and political attacks” against the administration of her father, President Rodrigo Duterte.

In a statement sent to media on Friday, March 8, Cardema told youth voters Sara Duterte was just being honest. Cardema explained, "The Presidential Daughter was just being honest when she said that our society is already full of mudslinging and lies."

Cardema then hit leftist youth leaders who went against the government and criticized it. (READ: NYC chief asks Duterte to remove scholarships of ‘rebellious students’)

“We have radical leftist youth leaders who preach about their patriotism yet blatantly lie... regarding their support for armed rebels in burning our cellsites, in killing our government troops, and in extorting from the Filipino People,” his statement read.

Cardema said that Philippine politics is “full of promises, lies, and mudslinging just to survive elections,” adding the Duterte administration is trying to change this.

He called on the youth to not vote for candidates who support leftist movements that are against the government.

“We enjoin the millions of youth voters not to vote for those who support the leftist armed rebellion in our country, do not vote for those who are involved in illegal drugs, and do not vote for those who are trying to bring down our government and those who attack our government leaders instead of helping them strengthen the Philippine Republic,” Cardema said.

Sara Duterte recently defended senatorial candidate Imee Marcos from critics slamming Marcos for the controversy regarding her academic degrees. (READ: FALSE: Imee Marcos 'earned degree from Princeton')

Sara went on to say that academic degrees should not be an issue, because "everyone lies anyway."

"Walang isang kandidato diyan na hindi nagsisinungaling, kaya hindi dapat nagiging issue ang honesty ngayon," Sara on Wednesday, March 6, in Parañaque City. (There's no candidate who doesn't lie, that's why honesty shouldn't be an issue now.)

But for Vice President Leni Robredo, there should be no debate about it. For her, honesty is a must for anyone who wants to hold public office. (READ: Robredo: If you're not honest, don't run for public office)

"Ang honesty, napakalaking factor sa integrity ng isang tao. Kung wala kang ganun, dapat hindi mo iniisip maglingkod kasi paano ka makakapaglingkod kung may problema ka sa sarili mo?” she said. (Honesty is a big factor in a person’s integrity. If you don’t have that, you shouldn’t think of serving because how will you serve if you have a problem with yourself?)

Angered netizens

Netizens appeared dismayed by Sara’s remark and discussed the issue online.

Some of them hit the composition of the Hukbong Pagbabago slate which includes Imee Marcos, who is under fire for lying about her academic degrees. (READ: FALSE: Imee Marcos ‘graduated cum laude from UP College of Law’)

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What are your thoughts about the issue? Does a candidate's honesty matter to you in the upcoming elections? – Rappler.com

Cagayan de Oro writers’ group removes writer with false credentials


FALSE. The press release featuring Alton Melvar Dapanas contains literary claims proven false. Screenshot from Mindanao Gold Star Daily

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines– The Nagkahiusang Magsusulat sa Cagayan de Oro (NAGMAC), a writers' collective in Northern Mindanao, has stripped the board membership of one writer who claimed false literary credentials in a press release published by a local newspaper here on February 9.

The press release said that Kagay-anon writer Alton Melvar Dapanas, NAGMAC’s senior fellow for poetry and creative nonfiction and board member, was longlisted at the 2019 Constance Rooke Creative Nonfiction (CNF) prize.

Three other claims were mentioned as part of his achievements. Dapanas claimed in the press release that his book The Cartographies of Our Skin: Lyric Essays was published by Tupelo Press and was shortlisted for the 2017 Anne Carson Prize for Nonfiction.

Dapanas also said he was a nominee of the Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize, and a fellow to the Iyas National Writers’ Workshop.

These claims were later debunked as false.

Mindanao Gold Star Daily (GSD) special correspondent Lina Sagaral Reyes, who was given a copy of the press release last month by Dapanas himself, informed NAGMAC of the false claims after verifying information with local writers through Facebook and online sources.

Dapanas himself owned up to the false claims in a statement posted in his Facebook account.

“I own up to these mistakes and am willing to take responsibility in my actions,” he said. “The integrity of the people who currently run the collective should be out of the issue.”

“I will be out of the literary scene for God knows how long,” Dapanas added. “I take this indefinite hiatus as an opportunity for learning and growth to reflect and review my future direction.”

False claims

Upon inquiry by the author of this article, The Malahat Review said that Dapanas was not included in the longlist of the 2019 Constance Rooke CNF Prize since it was not even accepting entries.

“We haven’t held the 2019 Constance Rooke CNF Prize– in fact, the contest isn’t even accepting entries right now,” The Malahat Review said in a direct message via its Facebook page

“We don’t usually release a long-list, only a shortlist and the winner [is] announced,” they added.

In the same way, Tupelo Press Publisher and Artistic Director Jeffrey Levine sent a letter addressed to NAGMAC regarding the book that Dapanas supposedly authored after seeing the press release published by Mindanao Gold Star Daily.

“We have no knowledge of this book, nor of this writer. We urge strongly that the record be corrected,” the letter said.

The Anne Carson 2017 Prize for Creative Nonfiction also does not exist.

Furthermore, the published lists of Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize did not mention Dapanas’ name or any of his books.

On his claimed fellowship at the Iyas National Writers’ Workshop, project coordinator and University of St. La Salle in Bacolod City’s former dean of law Raymundo “RayBoy” T. Pandan Jr said that Dapanas has never been a fellow to the Iyas National Writers’ Workshop.

Response and responsibility

Regarding these false claims, NAGMAC issued an official statement through board member Adeva Esparrago’s Facebook profile and to Rappler on Friday, March 8.

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They released it after an article written by Reyes detailing her personal account about unraveling Dapanas’ claims was published by Mindanao Gold Star Daily, the same newspaper that published the press release last month.

Mindanao Gold Star Daily said that the press release was sent to their office through Dapanas’ personal email address.

“I asked the page editor and I was informed that it was a press release from NAGMAC...[It] has a tagline that should tell you that the source is NAGMAC,” Herbie Gomez, the Editor-in-Chief of Mindanao Gold Star Daily, said via email.

NAGMAC, however, clarified in its statement that they had nothing to do with the press release.

"This article was written without consultation with our Board of Directors and has been proven to have misleading and/or false information,” NAGMAC stated.

They mentioned that they have also asked the publication to “remove the said article but did not receive any response.”

“As of this time, NAGMAC has finished its investigation and has made its decision on the appropriate sanctions,” they added.

NAGMAC clarified to Rappler that Dapanas is no longer listed as their board member.

“Alton was removed from the board and we have barred him from attending any NAGMAC events internal or external. He has had no access to any funds received by any public or private source and all our accounts are in order,” they said in a statement to Rappler.

They also advised people to refer to his public apology for an explanation. As of this writing, Dapanas' Facebook account and post containing the apology are inacessible.

“The group would like to distance itself from other complaints made against the person in question. They are his personal issues that the group makes no effort to cover up or protect,” NAGMAC added.

As a writers’ collective, NAGMAC conducts poetry readings and spoken word performances at malls and other public venues. They also publish independent “chapbooks” authored by their members. – Rappler.com

Angelo Lorenzo was a member of NAGMAC in February this year. But after he conducted investigation along with local writers, he has resigned from the literary organization.


Rape jokes? These women aren't laughing


WOMEN'S RIGHTS. Women's groups slam misogyny on International Women's Day. Photo by Sofia Virtudes

MANILA, Philippines – "When you are single and you have children, ang tawag du'n e naano lang (that just means you were used)."

"Dapat ang mayor muna ang mauna." (The mayor should have gone first.)

A theater performance by Saint Scholastica's College students during the celebration of International Women's Day on Friday, March 8, began with speakers blasting an audio compilation of these remarks. These statements came from some of the most prominent personalities of the country, including the President himself.

The crowd at La Madre Filipina, Luneta was silent, but this silence was loud and clear: women have had enough of the blatant misogyny.

Kara Taggaoa, 21, activist and women empowerment advocate, recalled the irony of receiving Facebook messages from strangers, on the day of itself of the celebration, saying it was a shame that a pretty face like hers joined rallies.

"Ino-objectify nila ako. Tinatanong nila ako, puwede ba raw akong i-sex. Virgin ba raw ako (They were objectifying me, asking me if I wanted to have sex with them, or if I was still a virgin)," Taggaoa said, expounding on the lewd comments she had received.

Jenel Azotes, 23, shared about overhearing a group of male friends making sexual jokes about a woman. While refusing to elaborate on the joke, Azotes explained she felt uncomfortable even if the jokes were not directed at her.

Taggaoa's and Azotes' accounts are only two of the thousands of cases of sexual harassment in the country.

Trivializing rape

There are 2,962 reported rape cases nationwide from January to May 2018 alone according to PNP statistics, said Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Arlene Brosas in her International Women's Day protest statement. President Rodrigo Duterte's hometown, Davao, topped rape case statistics in the second quarter of the same year, which the President then explained was because Davao is home to beautiful women.

In an in-depth Rappler report, Miriam College Women and Gender Institute (WAGI) Executive Director Theresa de Vela explained the harm behind Duterte's remarks, as they normalize rape and sexual harassment.

"When you have a President doing that, you're adding to, reinforcing that sexual script that says sexual violence is acceptable behavior and is part of the male behavior to be in society. It is manly. It's what makes you an attractive male, 'Tunay na lalaki ay ganito' (This is what a real man is like)," De Vela said.

Duterte's and other public personalities' superficial approach toward rape was one of the issues addressed in the March 8 protest in Luneta. Gabriela Women's Party Representative Emmi de Jesus explained in an interview that Duterte's constant trivializing of rape breeds a culture of impunity.

"Malinaw talaga ang kanyang pagiging misogynist kasi sa kanyang mga pinagsasabi na parang galit na galit siya sa women at ginagawa niyang katatawanan. Ito ang tingin namin, compounded 'yung mga pinagsasabi niya sa economic, political [manifestations of misogyny]. Ang mangyayari, nagbi-breed 'yan ng culture of impunity, ibig sabihin napapalampas ang iba’t ibang kawalang-hiyaan," De Jesus said.

(It is very clear that Duterte is a misogynist based on what he's been saying; he's very angry at women and makes them a laughing matter. We believe his statements are compounded with his economic political manifestations of misogyny. In turn, it breeds a culture of impunity and condones offensive acts.)

Women feel unsafe

This culture of impunity imposes fear among women.

Going back to Azotes' experience with her male friends and their sexually suggestive jokes, she was disturbed by what she had overheard and found herself confronting two of them about it.

"[Dahil] kung ako 'yung nasa situation ng babae kahit na parang joke lang, hindi maganda sa feeling 'yung mga sinasabi [nila](If I were in the girl’s situation, even if it was only a joke, it would’ve made me feel uncomfortable)," said Azotes. She added that if verbal harassment is treated lightly, offenders will become used to denying accountability and downplaying it as "just a joke."

Mamaki Mariam, 46, single parent and attendee of the Women’s Day protest, shared she feared for her daughters' and fellow women's safety in the streets.

"May mga anak ako na babae, ayoko rin 'yung may mangyari sa kanila na ma-rape, mabastos (I have daughters, and I would not want them to get raped or derided)," Mamaki explained.

'Tama na'

Existing laws have been legislated to protect both women and men from sexual harassment and rape. But statistics show that things have yet to get better for women.

This year's localized theme for International Women’s Day, "Tama na! Sulong kababaihan! (Enough! Onward march, women!)" called on the government to put an end to women's suffering and allow for pro-women policies. In a separate interview, feminist Mae Paner, better known as Juana Change, explained the reason behind the theme.

"We want an end to all the suffering given and experienced by women. There are deaths, impunity, there's injustice, corruption, there’s fear, and to all of that, the President has become the main source," Paner said.

De Jesus also said that President Duterte's misogyny manifests not only in his words but also in the policies he pushes forward, as anti-poor policies further oppress poor women.

"Ang challenge talaga sa gobyerno, sa estado, at sa iba't iba pang institutions natin ay 'yung praktika. Ano ba talaga ang kailangang gawin to alleviate the situation of women, especially [to fight] for their rights and welfare?" De Jesus said. (The real challenges for the government, the state, and other insitutions is practice. What do we really need to do to alleviate the situation of women, especially to fight for their rights and welfare?)

Public school teacher Vyne Tesorero, 27, also called for "putting to practice" women empowerment programs in schools, since she recounted still experiencing discrimination.

"Nagwo-women empowerment tayo pero hindi prina-practice sa baba. 'Yung women empowerment na ginagawa ng mga eskuwelahan, hindi lang siya dapat palamuti, dapat ina-apply siya sa policies," Tesorero said. (We call for women empowerment but we don't practice in the grassroots level. Women empowerment activities in schools shouldn't just be for show, but should be applied in policies.)

This does not only apply to workplace policies but also to publication policies, as gender discrimination, Tesorero said, is still prevalent in school textbooks.

'Sulong kababaihan'

But more than strengthening policies, women in the protest called for everyone to join the march, and to not tolerate any behavior that is harmful to women.

De Jesus, Paner, Taggaoa, Azotes, Mamaki, and Tesorero – all are women who decided to finally rise up and stand together, braving the fight against a system that has long oppressed women. They won't tolerate lewd jokes, much less laugh at them; complicity bears no place in the ceaseless struggle against misogyny.

"I believe it is only in unity that we can succeed to defeat the enemy," said Paner. - Rappler.com

Sofia Virtudes is a Rappler intern.

Baguio journalists urge youth to help fight disinformation


AGAINST DISINFORMATION. Rappler reporter Ralf Rivas, along with Baguio journalists Kimberlie Quitasol, Diwa Donato, and Frank Cimatu are the panelists at #MoveBaguio: Social Good in the Digital Age forum on March 8, 2019 at Saint Louis University. Screenshot from Rappler video

MANILA, Philippines – At the speed with which posts and articles can be shared on social media, Baguio journalists asked the youth to do their part in verifying information during the #MoveBaguio: Social Good in the Digital Age forum on Friday, March 8.

Around 300 students from different colleges in Baguio City attended the forum at Saint Louis University (SLU) to learn about the importance of fact-checking.

Mentioning a memorable example of disinformation at SLU, White & Blue Editor-in-Chief Diwa Donato shared how announcements of class suspensions from random sources have become a problem. It’s gotten so severe that people would even go so far as to edit photos of old memorandums to make them believable.

Class suspensions at SLU are only official if announced by the SLU president or the Dean of Student Affairs. Still, deliberate attempts to confuse students persist.

To fight disinformation in their university, Donato highlighted the importance of credibility and strong partnerships.

Being the only university-wide publication of SLU, the responsibility falls on White & Blue’s shoulders to be a trusted source and keep close communication with the administration to fact-check claims of class suspensions.

Security risk

Beyond Baguio City, disinformation can also be found in other parts of Northern Luzon, even threatening the lives of people in faraway communities.

Among its other stories, Northern Dispatch has debunked a report of a fake mass surrender of New People’s Army membrs in Ilocos Sur. Upon investigation, Northern Dispatch found out that the supposed surrenderers were members of Lucbuban Farmers Association.

“That news puts their lives in danger, so fact matters. If you are a farmer...being labeled as an NPA, then you will be open target,” said Northern Dispatch Editor-in-Chief Kimberlie Quitasol.

Quitasol added that when claims without verification reach the public sphere first, it becomes difficult to challenge people’s perception, even when data show irregularities.

Nauna na nabroadcast sa national at sa mas malalaking media outfits na sila ay surrenderees, tapos nasama na sila sa statistics ng government... By the end of 2015, sabi ng government na 4,000 na lang ang NPA. By the end of 2018, 11,000 'yung sumuko. So paano natin i-add up ang ganoon,” she said.

(It was broadcast on national and big media outfits that they were surrenderees, and they were included in government statistics... By the end of 2015, the government said there were around 4,000 NPA members. By the end of 2018, there were 11,000 surrenderees.So how do those details add up?)

Nauuna ang kasinungalingan, mas mahirap bawiin (When the lies come first, it’s harder to take them back),” Quitasol added.

Fighting back

What can people do to fight disinformation? Quitasol answered, “In the battle for truth, truth is your only weapon.”

She added that media can do their part by ensuring that the content they push in their platforms is truthful, verified, and factual.

“Fake news should not exist because news should not be fake,” she said.

Rappler Reporter Ralf Rivas stressed that everyone has a role to play in addressing disinformation, not just journalists. Aside from the reports that journalists make, people should also discern information they consume and be critical of politicians who opt out of public debates or who avoid questions about important issues.

“Another point that I want to raise is also look at what is not being seen in the media.... We can only access so much,” he said.

Quitasol explained that disinformation is an age-old tactic used to divide, confuse, and easily conquer people.

“Disinformation did not happen just today. It has been in the arsenal of rulers, especially of tyrants, way back in history,” she said.

“To label us simply dilawan, komunista (yellows, communist) is also a way to divide us. Unless we resist to be labeled in just one color or one faction, they will continue to lord over us. They confuse us, so  that we don't know what to believe anymore,” Quitasol continued.

Veteran journalist Frank Cimatu added that the one good thing that came from the proliferation of fake news is how it triggered healthy skepticism among the people.

“The good thing about all this fake news proliferation, it brought out...sa mga non-journalist, 'yung journalist way of thinking, 'yung tinatawag namin healthy skepticism. 'Yung hindi mo pinapaniwalaan ang lahat ng nababasa mo, (It brought out...among non-journalists, the journalist way of thinking that we call healthy skepticism. That’s when you don’t believe everything that you read),” Cimatu said.

Quitasol posed a challenge to the youth to start addressing disinformation on social media.

“At this day and age, when everything is at the click of your finger, it's very fast. Pagtulungan natin to address it; ngayon na.... If this goes on, lalala siya. Pagdating 'nyo sa edad namin, mas mahirap na siya sugpuin (Let’s work together to  address it now.... If this goes on, it’ll get worse. Once you reach our age, it’d be harder to beat),” she said.

Donato echoed the same sentiment, saying that the spread of fake news has become a threat to democracy.

“When we think about fake news, it does not just build or destroy politicians, but it will build or destroy our country, and, of course, our democracy,” she explained.

Cimatu shared that everyone should be responsible with the posts and articles that they share in their social media accounts because of their reach in your own circle of friends, which he likened to the reach of a community paper.

“You have maximum 5,000 friends in Facebook. That is the circulation of Baguio Chronicle. Each of you is a local community paper. Ang laking opportunity for you to bring out your voice, (This is a big opportunity for you to bring out your voice),” he said. – Rappler.com

IN PHOTOS: Youth groups hold protests to oppose mandatory ROTC


ABOLISH. Youth groups in Metro Manila call for justice after the death of Willy Amihoy and seek to abolish mandatory ROTC in an indignation protest held Tuesday, March 12. Photo by Andrew Lagman

MANILA, Philippines – After the murder of  23-year-old Willy Amihoy, a freshman and Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) cadet at the Iloilo State College of Fisheries-Dumangas Campus (ISCOF-DC), youth groups took to the streets to express their opposition against the mandatory ROTC.

Amihoy was allegedly killed by his ROTC commander Elmer Decilao, 22, during an altercation after the freshman accused Decilao of stealing his wallet. (READ: CHR condemns killing of ROTC cadet in Iloilo

Various groups linked this to what they call the "culture of impunity and abuse" in the ROTC amid current calls to make ROTC mandatory. President Rodrigo Duterte has backed up this move, arguing that it could further instill discipline and patriotism among young Filipinos. 

The League of the Filipino Students said in a statement online that "the ROTC has inflicted fascism in supposedly secured school premises, in their desperate attempts to silence the youth and create a culture of impunity among us." 

Kabataan Partylist also said in a statement that Decilao should be held accountable for committing a malevolent crime against a fellow student.

"Moreover, we hold the Duterte administration accountable for perpetuating a culture of impunity and allowing fascism to permeate our schools," Kabataan Partylist said. 

Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Spokesperson Edgard Arevalo said that the killing of Amihoy was not related to the government’s ROTC program but was a 'plain criminal act' which stemmed from a personal argument. (READ: Killing of cadet not related to ROTC program – AFP)

Various organizations, groups and students organized indignation protests in Metro Manila, Iloilo, Baguio and Cebu. Here are some of the photos from the protests: 

JUSTICE. Anakbayan Partylist seeks justice for Willy Amihoy saying in a statement that his brutal murder expands the tally of victims of AFP's ROTC program. Photo courtesy of Kabataan Panay

INDIGNATION. Diwa ng Kabataang Lasalyano, Anakbayan Vito Cruz, Kilusan ng mga Kababaihan Laban sa Karahasan (KKK), and Gabriela Leon Guinto gather for an indignation protest after the violent murder of ROTC cadet Willy Amihoy. Photo courtesy of KKK Facebook page

OPPOSITION. Anakbayan- Far Eastern University joins the protest to express opposition to mandatory ROTC. Photo courtesy of Anakbayan- FEU Facebook page

CANDLE. Students of UP Baguio hold a candle lighting ceremony at the parking lot in a protest action led by the League of Filipino Students – Metro Baguio, Anakbayan UPB Chapter, and Alliance of Concerned Students. Photo by Reginald Flores

PROTESTS. Sandigan ng Mag-aaral para sa Sambayanan (SAMASA) and Kabataan Partylist Panay join in a protest held at the University of the Philippines Visayas in Iloilo to condemn the murder of Willy Amihoy. Photo by Mara Coo

 – Rappler.com 

TIPS: How to conserve water


CONSERVE WATER. The Ecowaste Coalition gives some tips to households faced with water supply problems. Shutterstock photo

MANILA, Philippines – What can households and establishments do to conserve water?

The continuing water shortage that has affected thousands of residents across Metro Manila and Rizal has put the spotlight on water conservation. (READ: El Niño to blame for Manila Water woes? Data doesn't support it)

After the backlash over its unannounced water service interruption, Manila Water released an updated list of areas which will have little to no water supply in the coming days. (READ: [ANALYSIS] The economics of Metro Manila’s burgeoning water crisis)

Following the water supply crisis, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the public to observe water conservation measures. According to its website, EcoWaste Coalition is a "public interest network of community, church, school, environmental and health groups united by the common goal to end wasting through the promotion of environmental justice and stewardship."

“Let us all aim for zero water waste to reduce the impacts of low water supply during the summer months to the people, especially the poor, and the environment,” the group said in a Facebook post.

Here are some tips from the EcoWaste Coalition:

  1. Fix dripping tanks, pipes, faucets, showerheads, and hoses to prevent water loss.
  2. Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth, lathering with soap, or shaving.
  3. Take shorter showers or use a pail and dipper for bathing, using just enough water.
  4. Reuse towels a few times before putting them in the laundry basket.
  5. Collect grey water from bathing and washing and reuse to wash the car, clean the garage, maintain sidewalks, or flush the toilet.
  6. Place a brick or water-filled bottle inside the toilet tank to reduce water used in every flush; and flush less.
  7. Collect water dripping from air conditioners and reuse the collected water for soaking mops and rugs, or watering plants.
  8. Leave grass clippings on the lawn as this cools the ground and holds in moisture.
  9. Spread a layer of mulch around plants and trees to retain water and reduce evaporation.
  10. Water the plants early in the morning or in the evening when the temperature is cooler to minimize water loss.
  11. Refrain from using the washing machine if washing only a few clothes. Do full loads of laundry, and use just the right amount of detergent to avoid extra rinsing.
  12. Wash fruits and vegetables in a basin and not in running water; reuse the water for watering plants.
  13. Save rice wash for washing the dishes or watering plants.
  14. Steam vegetables instead of boiling to conserve water and to preserve their nutrients.
  15. Thaw frozen meat in the refrigerator overnight, not in running water.
  16. Use fewer cooking and dining utensils and dishes to reduce water use for washing.
  17. Choose the proper pan and pot size for cooking as bigger ones may need more cooking water than required.
  18. Do not let the water run when washing the dishes – fill one basin with wash water and the other with rinse water.
  19. Soak dirty pans and pots first instead of scraping them clean using running water.
  20. Collect and store rainwater for daily chores.

Got any other tips on water conservation? Let us know in the comments below! – Rappler.com