Marawi: Unable to return
home, thousands remain dependent on aid 2 months after conflict ends
December 20, 2017
MANILA – It has
been almost two months since armed conflict ended in Marawi City but
thousands of displaced people remain unable to return home and are
in need of help and attention. A majority of the displaced people
staying in municipalities east of Lake Lanao come from the worst
affected parts of Marawi City that have not opened for return yet.
They are still dependent on relatives, the authorities and aid
Coming to their aid, the
Red Cross recently distributed food and hygiene supplies to
thousands of people still displaced in Lanao del Sur. Among the
recipients of this assistance is Aisah Toroganan, a mother of five,
who is currently seeking refuge in the eastern part of the lake.
Aisah and her family have
been living with her aunt in Molundo, Lanao del Sur, since the
fighting broke out in May. They left their home and everything they
had behind once they felt it was too dangerous for them to stay in
Marawi. “Where we live now, we are 34 people occupying three small
houses in the compound. The place is cramped and we can barely find
a place to sleep”, she said.
“We try to find ways to
earn extra cash to support ourselves. I, for example, use my skills
as a seamstress by offering sewing services to neighbors, but that
is not enough to help us make ends meet. Most of us still rely on
the assistance – especially food rations – that the government and
other agencies give us”, Aisah added.
Aisah is looking forward
to return to their house in Marawi once they will be allowed to do
so. She hopes to receive seed capital to restart her business as
well as cash to repair any damages of their house.
From December 13 to 15,
the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in collaboration
with the Philippine Red Cross distributed half-month food rations
and hygiene supplies among over 16,500 displaced people in five
municipalities of Lanao del Sur. Each family received 25 kg of rice,
one litre of soy sauce, one litre of oil, 12 tins of sardines, 1 kg
of sugar, ½ kg of salt, two 20-litre jerry cans and hygiene items.
“We are in contact with
the authorities, armed forces and non-State armed groups at the
local level so they understand who we are and allow us to deliver
our humanitarian response”, ICRC delegate Meher Khatcherian said.
“To optimize available resources, we coordinate the distribution
work with the main government agencies and other organizations.
While they support the displaced people in the west of Lake Lanao,
we focus on the eastern part,” he added.
Having continuously helped
those affected by the fighting in this area, the ICRC enjoys a level
of acceptance that allows it to deliver aid in hard to reach areas
where other organizations have limited access.
The ICRC is a neutral,
impartial and independent humanitarian organization whose
exclusively humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity
of victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence and to
provide them with assistance. The ICRC also endeavours to prevent
suffering by promoting and strengthening humanitarian law and
universal humanitarian principles.
from Coast Pacific Manufacturing Inc. made from natural,
sustainable, and a variety of recycled materials.
18 PH brands
spotlight local fibers, indigenous sustainable crafts in Japan’
biggest furniture fair
November 21, 2017
MAKATI CITY – The
country’s premier woven fibers, recycled natural and other
indigenous materials will take center stage as the Philippines
returns to the International Furniture Fair Tokyo (IFFT) on November
20-22 at the Tokyo Big Sight in Tokyo, Japan.
Led by the Center for
International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM), 18 homegrown
brands will present eco-sustainable home and lifestyle products made
to suit the need of the Japanese market, the 2nd largest trading
partner of the Philippines.
“We will continue to
invigorate the good trade relations between Japan and the
Philippines by bringing in interiors and high-end fashion wears made
from country’s natural indigenous and sustainable materials,
including abaca, tikog fiber, shells, raffia, sugarcane, and many
more,” said CITEM Executive Director Clayton Tugonon.
Tugonon said the
Philippine raw fibers, as well as products made from it, enjoys high
demand from Japan. For instance, Japan was the second top importer
of local abaca fiber from January to September 2016, accounting for
38.8 percent of the total exports during that period, based on the
date of the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (Philfida).
Under the Lifestyle
Philippines pavilion, eighteen companies representing the
Philippines are Artisana Island Crafts, Azcor Lighting Systems,
Inc., Coast Pacific Manufacturing Corporation, Contemporaneo Design
Enterprise, Cubo Sustainable Furnishings, Delza's Native Products,
Designs Ligna, Inc., Fashion Interiors Manufacturing, Inc., Johansen
World Group Corporation, Lija By That One Piece Enterprise, Lolo
Bobby Handicraft, MLC Crystal Seas, Inc., My Souvenir Banig de Basey,
Natural Craft Connection Enterprise, Nature's Legacy Eximport, Inc.,
South Sea Veneer Corporation, Southeast Metro Arts, Inc., and Tuy
Arts and Designs.
With the theme ‘Perpetual
Artistry,’ this Philippine exhibit in the IFFT 2017 will showcase
the country’s premier products with a deep emphasis on the value of
aesthetic value, space and nature. Included in the product offering
are home accents, wall décors, tabletop accessories, lamps and
lighting, outdoor furniture, and functional home furniture.
“We want to highlight the
Philippine design aesthetics can be seen through our sense of
artistry, authenticity and visual dynamism. We will evoke the sense
of beauty of material things and emulate the emotional appeal of
every little detail that was put together by hands to create a
sophisticated piece,” Tugonon explained.
“On the practical side, we
also made careful consideration and adjustments to the product sizes
and spatial boundaries. The least space one occupies in a home, the
more attractive it is in the market since Japanese people tend to
live in small yet cozy houses,” he pointed out. “The Japanese's
preference in furniture which comprises of three qualities:
functional, practical, and innovative without compromising style.”
Meanwhile, Tugonon noted that the focus on natural crafts was
further inspired by greenery, which is this year's color trend
declared by Pantone symbolizing new beginnings.
Tugonon said: “The
Philippines' return in the Japanese furniture trade, it is crucial
to present fresh ideas and new exceptional products that showcase
the abundance of natural resources that are used in our crafts and
are proudly homegrown.”
The November edition of
IFFT, also known as IFFT/Interior Lifestyle Living, is an
international trade fair that spotlights lifestyle concepts in
interior design markets from around the world.
Interior Lifestyle Tokyo
derives from two trade fairs – Ambiente, the largest consumer goods
trade fair in the world, and Heimtextil, an international trade fair
for household and commercial textiles. In Japan, Interior Lifestyle
Tokyo is held in June, while its sister fair, IFFT/Interior
Lifestyle Living, takes place in November.
Last year, the IFFT
welcomed more than 20,400 visitors from 31 countries around the
world to witness the finest design and interior products from 450
brands and companies from 14 different countries.
Lifestyle Philippines is a
collective of creative enterprises representing the best of the
Philippines’ home and fashion sectors – featuring versatile yet
highly-artisanal products that are attuned to modern living.
The participation in IFFT
2017 is a key initiative of CITEM in its commitment to develop,
nurture, and promote globally competitive small and medium
enterprises (SMEs), exporters, designers, and manufacturers by
implementing an Integrated Approach to Export Marketing in
partnership with other government and private entities.
made from 100% local abaca fiber by Natural Craft Connection
rehabilitation, not militarization!
November 7, 2017
Samar – People Surge Northern Samar Chapter, together with
allied groups under the #StandwithSamar campaign, joins fellow
disaster survivors in commemorating the 4th anniversary of Yolanda
with surge of protests from all over the region and with support
groups backing us up from all over the globe.
Super Typhoon Yolanda
(international name: Haiyan), the strongest typhoon to ever made
landfall, only signaled the arrival of other consecutive typhoons
which ravaged Northern Samar: Typhoon Glenda (July 2014), Super
Typhoon Ruby (December 2014), Typhoons Seniang (December 2014) and
Nona (December 2015).
The already “poor”
province of Northern Samar has become even poorer. Prior to Yolanda,
poverty incidence was nailed at 43.5 percent but in 2015, it leaped
to 56.2 percent. Northern Samar remains to be one of poorest
provinces in the country.
Nona, the typhoon which
hit strongest in Northern Samar, left 15 people dead, 1,207 wounded
and 11 people missing. It ravaged 110,427 houses and 112,655
families in Northern Samar. According to the Office of Civil Defence
(OCD), total loss in the province amounted to more than P14 billion
where P960,690,993 came from the agriculture sector.
The storms that struck,
especially Ruby and Nona, have resulted to fallen trees and severe
damage to coconut plantations. It takes almost seven years before
coconut trees fully recover from nature’s fury. Farmers either have
very low yield or farmers' planted coconut trees have yet to bear
fruit, subjecting them to the perennial debt trap of rich landowners
and exploitative merchants.
A recent report from the
Department of Agriculture (DA) also shows that rice production in
Northern Samar posed a steady drop in the past three years. In 2014,
rice production in the province was at 117,965 metric tons but in
2016, it dropped to 111,086 metric tons.
According to the
Provincial Office of the Philippine Fiber Industry Development
Authority (PhilFIDA), damaged abaca plantations after Typhoon Nona
was at 99.97% affecting thousands of farmers and fiber loss worth
more than P173 million. Abaca farms also suffered the infestation of
bunchy top virus which impeded recovery from the wrought of
We suffer multiple disasters: nature's fury, government negligence
Provincial and national
government failed to provide timely and decent help. Even during the
disaster preparation phase, the Commission on Audit (COA) 2016
report cited certain municipalities in the province which failed to
maximize and/or misuse the 70% mitigation fund under the Local
Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (LDRRMC).
The integrity of disaster
response after Nona struck Northern Samar is also put in question.
The 2016 Audit Report of COA shows municipalities in the province
which lacked transparency as to where disaster aids go such as the
case of Laoang and Palapag towns, to name a few.
Meanwhile, the Emergency
Shelter Assistance (ESA) for Typhoon Nona was given two years after
it swept through the province under a 'prorated scheme'. Instead of
receiving full amount, totally damaged households only received
P13,000 while partially damaged households only received P8,000.
People Surge chapters in Gamay and Lapinig towns reported that
distribution of said aid has not yet even begun in their
municipalities. Even the cash-for-work program of DSWD for Typhoon
Ruby has not yet been conducted in those two municipalities.
Northern Samar is also set
to receive the Presidential Financial Assistance (PFA) under the
Duterte administration. There are 22,073 beneficiaries in Northern
Samar who will receive P5,000 from the PFA. Local People Surge
chapters however said that distribution has not yet started in any
part of the province.
The Provincial Office of
Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority reported that there
is an unused fund of P12.7 million budget specifically allotted for
the rehabilitation of abaca farms in the province after Typhoon Nona
swept. Two years since the typhoon, the government has not provided
a single coin, no free insecticide or pesticide to kill bunchy top
virus, virtually no help amid the gravity of the situation.
The government provided
little to no aid for farmers in the province. While the Department
of Agriculture (DA) reported that rice seedlings and other
agricultural inputs have already been distributed in communities
affected by the typhoon, local farmers' organizations report that
most farmers did not receive any of those agricultural aids. And if
there are any agricultural inputs given, local chapters reported
that only selected families are provided with such aids. In our
local chapter in Lapinig town, members reported that rice seedlings
were not actually given for free by the DA.
The provincial government
has instead crafted the Nona Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Plan
(NRRP) 2016-2019 that brushes the agricultural sector to the margins
and has put more premium on infrastructure instead despite Northern
Samar being an agriculture-driven province.
Government intervention to
the farming sector is also notorious as scapegoats of land-grabbing.
Northern Samar Small Farmers Association (NSSFA) reported cases
where their lands are being taken from them by the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for the mass reforestation
of bamboo shoots across the province particularly in Las Navas and
Catubig. Despite strong resistance from the local peasants, hundreds
of hectares are being claimed by the National Greening Program.
Meanwhile in Palapag town, farmers are asked to plant cacao instead.
One of the principal objectives of the said program is to help
reduce poverty and provide alternative livelihood to farmers in
upland areas but ironically operates in favor of landlessness,
debilitating farm production and stealing peasant livelihood.
DA's promise of free
irrigation is nowhere to be found in the province. All local
chapters present reported that no free irrigation was provided to
them by the government. In Palapag, farmers are asked to pay
P1,500-P3,000 per hectare whenever they use the irrigation facility.
Meanwhile in Catubig town the Help for Catubig Agricultural Project
(HCAAP) which aims to provide irrigation covering 700 hectares of
farmland supposed to be completed in 2007, was left unfinished by
Local chapters report that
if there are any livelihood programs given, they are mostly loans
that may potentially bring bankruptcy to farmers' organizations. In
Palapag town, the military is initiating alternative livelihood in
coordination with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) as
part of their overall counter-insurgency design, Oplan Kapayapaan. A
review of the NRRP also shows provisions such as the “No Build Zone”
policy which may displace thousands of residents along the coast and
consequently displace them from their sources of income.
Militarization is government's response
In previous months since
the implementation of the bloody counter-insurgency program Oplan
Kapayapaan, the people of Northern Samar who have yet to recover
from the onslaught of successive typhoons, have been targets of
militarization and state terror.
In Barangay Sumuroy,
farmers from the barrio stood their ground against military
encampment and sought refuge at the municipal town proper of Lope de
Vega due to 43rd IBPA Bravo Company's militarization last March.
Schools are far from being zones of peace as they report soldiers
occupying schools and even constructing defense structures such as
Meanwhile in Barangay
Geparayan in Sivino Lobos, 13 families (57 individuals) evacuated to
different barrios due to harassment threats by the military. Cases
of illegal detention and strafing were also experienced by farmers
in Las Navas. Military encampment within civilian communities
continue in Barangay Mckinley in Catarman, Barangay San Isidro and
San Miguel in Las Navas, among others.
In Las Navas Elementary
School, the military has been encamping within the school vicinity
for three years now. They also camped within Las Navas National High
School from May to August this year where even teachers have been
harassed by the military. They also planted landmines surrounding
the school which sent fear among students and teachers alike.
Harassment among teachers have also been reported in Lope de Vega
and far-flung barangays in Las Navas. There are also reported
military men going inside the school in full battle gear and
enticing children to spy their targets.
In Barangay San Miguel in
Las Navas, Alyansa san mga Parag-uma kontra Gutom san Las Navasnon (APKLAS)
reported that elements of the 20th IB have been camping within the
community for three months now. Under the pretension of “peace and
development,” they have exhibited ill-respect to public facilities
such as barangay halls, barangay health centers and even the barrio
school by treating them as barracks. For one, military fatigue are
hung in the barangay health stations and they occupy the place when
barangay health workers and patients should have been occupying
As of this writing,
military troops are also in civilian communities of Barangay
Mckinley in Catarman town, in Barangays Poponton, San Miguel and San
Isidro in Las Navas town, committing various human rights abuses. We
have received reports from local chapters that state forces are
strong-arming civilians to surrender, subjecting them to psywar to
admit that they are members of the New People's Army (NPA).
We are fed up with so much
injustices and outright fascism. We join other disaster survivors in
the call for justice and accountability! Stand with us. #Stand with
The women of
Marawi: Threading the way back to normalcy
October 24, 2017
MAKATI CITY –
Making ends meet is a great challenge for residents of Marawi City
but these women are doing everything just to stay afloat and keep
their family alive.
Sewing was their regular
source of livelihood, but all of a sudden, it came to an abrupt end.
On May 23, 2017, thousands of families were displaced by the war and
scores of families had to flee to ensure their families' safety.
But as they say, there's a
light at the end of the tunnel.
To hasten the recovery and
rehabilitation of Marawi City, the Department of Trade and Industry
(DTI), which leads the Bangon Marawi Task Force Sub-committee on
Business and Livelihood, provided these with sewing machines and
cloth as starter kits to help them earn while staying either
home-based or at evacuation centers.
Back in August, DTI-Region
10 identified 16 women internally displaced persons (IDPs) who will
be trained for dressmaking and were awarded with the sewing kits.
The 16 sewers are able to generate income for themselves.
From the Sta Elena
Gymnasium, where they temporarily stay, the 16 women sewers go to
the Provincial Training and Livelihood Development Center in Iligan
City, where every sewer can earn at least P500 after a day’s work.
For Asnia Sandiman, 23,
laying hands on a high-speed sewing machine was a dream come true.
Even as a kid, Asnia has been sewing handwoven tube skirts or malong
in Filipino, shoals, and long dresses to earn extra for her
schooling and for her family.
But with the new sewing
machines and cloth provided by DTI, Asnia can earn up to P1,300. At
school, her classmates also ask her to sew for them, allowing her to
earn even more.
To Asnia, the new sewing
kits was her new lease on life amid the crisis that she and her
family are going through.
"Naappreciate namin at
sobrang masaya kami. Parang nabigyan kami ng panibagong buhay," a
teary-eyed Asnia said, while recalling the time when the terrorists
where banging on their door.
"Malaking tulong sa amin
ito," she added.
On the other hand, the
DTI's Negosyo Center and PTLDC ensure that the handwoven malongs,
shoals, and long dresses made by the IDP sewers go to the market.
Indeed the products ended up in the right market with orders coming
in from SM Cagayan de Oro, Manila, the Bangon Marawi Concert, Bangon
Marawi Store at DTI main office in Makati City. There are also
orders from Rustan's for the Go Lokal! Project.
Fellow IDP and 36-year-old
Memeng Dianal, said the sewing kits allowed her to feed her six
children everyday. From P500 she earns before, now, Memeng earns
P2,000 a day, finishing at least 20 handwoven malongs, shoals, and
“Malaking tulong ito sa
amin [sewing kits] kahit kaunti-konti natutustusan namin yung
araw-araw na pangangailangan namin,” Memeng said.
Despite knowing that her
family’s home in ground-zero is now levelled due to the conflict,
Memeng is hopeful that once they return to Marawi, there will be
more opportunities for her and other Marawi residents. If only she
can handle two businesses, she would do it for her children.
“Kung pwedeng doblehin ang
business, magdodoble kayod ako para sa mga anak ko,” she said.
Now with the fighting
officially declared over by the government, Asnia and Memeng,
together with other residents of Marawi will just have to wait for
their return to their hometown.
After all, hope springs
a carrot and romaine fields in one of the highland vegetable
terraces of Maria's Farm, situated on over 2,000 above sea
level (ASL) in the town of Kibungan, Benguet.
Former OFW uplifts
Cordillera farmers into exporters
GDME Fruits and
Vegetables leads PH highland farmers to global market
September 11, 2017
MAKATI CITY – The
province of Benguet has been making a mark in the international
market as a sourcing hub for premium agricultural products, such as
fruits, vegetables, coffee, and other highland crops.
With more than half of its
residents or 100,000 farmers toiling on more than 30,000-hectare
farms scattered in vegetable-producing towns, Benguet is living up
to its moniker as the “Salad Bowl of the Philippines.”
But the farmers from the
province, including most areas in the Cordillera, has yet to realize
their full market potential in the lucrative export industry. This
difficulty contributes to the economic disadvantage of Cordilleran
farmers as the region’s agriculture sector records the least
contribution to their economy, despite employing 46 percent of the
labor force or 348,000 of its total 766,000 abled bodies.
“The lack of drive from
our farmers to export much of it has got to do with their local and
limited mindset,” said Maricel Hernaez. “Many of our farmers in the
Cordillera are producing crops with the idea of harvesting it only
either for their own household consumption or for selling at the
local vegetable trading post.”
Taking Philippine fruits
and vegetables from highlands to overseas
A former overseas Filipino
worker (OFW), Hernaez came back to the Philippines with a dream: to
abolish the domestic-centric mindset of the Cordillera farmers and
help them penetrate the international market.
Born and raised in a
farming family in Cordillera, her life-mission sprung during her
service as a domestic helper for five years in Singapore, where she
has keenly followed the sky-rocketing prices and huge demand for
highland fruits and vegetables.
“Grabe ang taas ng presyo
ng gulay sa Singapore, for example nalang ‘yung isang malaking
patatas minsan umaabot ng two dollars at pati ‘yung cabbage nasa
mahigit one dollar ang 250 grams. Dito sa Pilipinas, nasa limang
piso lang ang patatas na malalaki at yung cabbage, isang kilo na
katumbas ng one dollar mo,” she shared. “Kung produkto lang naman
ang paguusapan, competitive ang galing sa Pilipinas pagdating sa
laki at kalidad.”
In her last working year
as a domestic helper, Hernaez met up with the Philippine Trade and
Investment Centre (PTIC) in Singapore to seek guidance on her plan
to become a vegetable and fruit exporter. In March 2015, she came
back to the Philippines and immediately established her company,
GDME Fruits and Vegetables Trading, naming it after her parents:
Gilbert Domerez (father) and Mercy Espara (mother).
“My parents who made a
living through farming have inspired me to pursue this agenda,” she
elated. “They are the foundation of my goal of nurture the country’s
agri-export market by tapping the promising farming communities in
A tall order
Having no land to call her
own, Hernaez has been operating GDME Fruits and Vegetable Trading
for the past two years as its sole networking, monitoring, and
marketing officer for grassroots farmers across the Cordillera
In her networking
initiatives with the local farmers, it has always been a challenge
for her to explain, innovate, and change some of their farming
methods and even their products to suit the demand of the global
“Going one by one with the
farmers, I always explain that we have the tools to compete with
other countries. We are situated at a higher elevation with the
perfect soil and climate. Most importantly, our farmers are
hard-working,” she stressed. “But, I tell them we should comply with
food standards and certifications. I also encourage them to plant
the crops that are in-demand because if we plant crops that no one
wants to buy then it will just go to waste.”
Without a formal academic
background in agriculture, she has always been looking for fresh
ideas and new ways on how to improve her technical know-how on the
export industry by attending seminars and partnering with government
agencies, such as the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
“I never missed
opportunities where I can learn new things. Last May, I joined IFEX
Philippines, together with our farmers, where we encountered people
who are willing to help us grow,” Hernaez said. “We were also glad
to meet foreign buyers that are really interested in our fruits and
Now GDME Fruits and
Vegetables Trading has partnered and has been consolidating the
yield of more than 60 farmers in communities located in the
municipalities of Kibungan, which is considered the “Little Alaska
of the Philippines,” as well as in Mankayan, and Kabayan.
Among her community
partners are the Bosingan Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Mankayan Young
Farmers, Maria’s Farm, and the Bashoy Kabayan Multi-Purpose
Fresh from the highlands,
they offer different varieties and cultivars of potato, radish,
carrot, chayote, cucumber, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, tomato, romaine
zucchini, sugar beets, bell pepper, broccoli, cauliflower, onion
leeks, snow peas, and green beans.
“In our farm, we are able
to grow fruits in huge sizes. For instance, in our cabbages, we are
cultivating the scorpio F1 hybrid and sugarloaf varieties. When
fully grown, these varieties can reach an average net weight of 2
kilograms each, while your regular lowland cabbage varieties only
reach 1 kilograms each. Our is twice the size,” she said.
Her partner farmers are
also cultivating strawberry, lemon, parsley, cilantro, kale, mint,
basil, alfalfa, arugula, red radish, young corn, fennel leaves, and
They also have some of the
iconic Cordillera processed goods, such as sweet and sour chili
sauce, strawberry jam, peanut butter, and kimchi.
Hernaez said an exporting
farmer will be able to earn at least 15 pesos more per kilo of their
harvest. She added: “Some might even go double the price when
depending on their reception on our quality and demand.”
"With these many products,
we are targeting the demand in Singapore and other nearby ASEAN
countries, as well as those in the Middle East,” she added. “We are
also open to offers from other buyers across the globe that can be
beneficial to the livelihood of our farmers.”
Cordillera farmers moving
While the high elevation
augments the harvest, it also makes highland fruits and vegetables
prone to risks of climate change, making its price highly volatile.
“We know that there is a
demand for our agricultural products, but the next step is how we
can corner that demand? With our talks with people that we met on
IFEX Philippines, we should be able to do it if we set our fruits
and vegetables at stable prices and produce them at a sustainable
rate. It’s a challenge for us here in the highland considering the
ever-changing weather conditions,” said Hernaez.
Faced with this
predicament, Hernaez is trying to hit two birds with one stone in
creating a viable year-round crop rotation system: working on
identifying the in-demand varieties crops that are a tolerant to
extreme weather and are resistant to pests and diseases.
“With this method, we also
can minimize the use of synthetic chemicals and inputs, or apply
good farming practices which involve the balanced application of
organic and chemical inputs,” she explained.
The former OFW also
continues to widen her network to increase their agriculture supply
and product selection, allowing small-scale farming communities to
accommodate bulk orders from foreign buyers.
At the same time, she is
helping Cordillera farmers secure the Good Agricultural Practices
(GAP) certification – an accreditation promoted by the ASEAN
community and is unanimously recognized in the international market.
Out of the 78
GAP-certified farms in the Philippines, only 4 farms are from
According to the
Department of Agriculture - Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries
Standards (DA-BAFS), GAP Certification ensures that a farm is not
only in the quality of his crops, but in all aspects of farming.
The GAP standard requires
a scrutiny of the history of the farm site and its prior use; the
type of soil, and its compatibility with crops and seed sources; the
judicious use of pesticides and fertilizers, whether chemical or
organic; the sources of potable water for irrigation and washing of
crops; the harvest and post-handling procedures; the health and
hygiene of the farmer and handlers, and other factors.
"Gusto kong makita sa mga
farmers if they can eat their products raw and fresh, ‘yun na kasi
uso din because there are a lot of vegetarians. ‘Yung iba kasi they
have a lot of pesticide to the point na hindi na pwede makain kasi
maamoy or matapang yung chemicals. At least with GAP
[certification], we can be one stop closer to this goal,” she said.
Aside from GAP
certifications, GDME Fruits and Vegetable Trading is also working to
secure Halal certifications for the community farmers as they are
targeting the demand for halal fruits and vegetables in the Middle
East, particularly in Dubai and U.A.E.
Though the Philippine
National Standards for Halal (PNS 2067: 2008), Halal products are at
par with international standards to enhance the competitiveness of
local industries, and to ensure product quality and safety for the
“GDME Fruits and Vegetable
Trading is committed to prime Cordilleran farmers to become
export-ready in the global market so that they would grow together
with the company and the booming Philippine food industry,” she
Muslim OFW breaks
waves; Opens the first Japanese Halal resto in the PH
July 11, 2017
MAKATI CITY – The
Filipino worker who has served among the longest at King Saud
University as an administrative secretary and quality standard
coordinator for over 20 years is a Mindanaoan, who at childhood would
bravely cross islands by boat and alluvial plains on foot with his
brother during summertime to collect coconut shells and make them into
Coming from one of the
minority tribes in Mindanao known as the people of the current, Hasim
Salih Mammah conscientiously turned around an imminent tide of
deprivation into waves of success in his various personal and
“I was raised by a
disciplinarian teacher-mother and a business-trader father to value
hard work, independence, and concern and respect for others at an
early age. Joining reach-out activities in Mindanao’s most impoverish
communities at teen age, and eventually awarded as among one of the
best scouts by the Boy Scout of the Philippines in Zamboanga City
boosted my interest to make a difference in life,” says Hasim.
Hasim was 18 years old and
recuperating from the demise of his father when he found himself
driving tamaraw jeepney along unpaved roads in outskirts of Zamboanga
City to sustain his schooling at the Western Mindanao State
University. He was a relentless working student throughout college,
finishing a degree in Political Science.
The young man who dared to
twist his fate in Metro Manila selling books and reading materials in
offices and homes eventually landed a job in Riyadh as a salesman and
one of the pioneering employees of a company that would become today’s
top retail franchise company carrying more than 80 of the world's
best-known retail brands across global markets.
“Hard work and work-focus
were my weapons to build the trust of my superiors,” Hasim relates as
he reminisced growing his career from being a salesman to becoming a
retail supervisor and sales advisor. His two years of exposure in
marketing top brands have built up in himself an incredible global
market knowledge and marketing strategies.
An epitome of Filipino
When not at work during
weekend, Hasim would delight his close Filipino friends in Riyadh with
his Asian recipes that he casually prepared for their various special
occasions. “I cooked 100 percent Halal in the variety of my Asian
menus.” Hasim’s catering service, though limited to the Filipino
community, was handled with quality standards.
Having had received a
certification program with the Associate Chartered Quality Institute (ACQI)
made Hasim very meticulous in his service detail. The significant
learning he has accrued from his university research works on
“Academic Quality Management” manifested in the way he manages his
professional works and personal ventures.
Hasim became an epitome of
Filipino resiliency when he dared break through the Japanese food
business industry in Saudi Arabia. In 2012, about 12 years after a
decade-long season of servicing the Filipino community with his
home-based 100 percent Halal Asian food catering business, Hasim
decided to learn the trade of food service. “I went to various places
to learn the food service trade -- attending conferences and food expo
in Dubai, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Japan.” In his unyielding
pursuit of more knowledge in food service, Hasim met a Filipino who
has a lengthy experience as a Japanese chef.
Hasim manages the Samurai
Japanese Cuisine Restaurant in Riyadh since 2013. The restaurant that
employs mostly Filipino OFWs has been enjoying excellent reviews among
multi-racial customers and Japanese food fanatics in the city.
“It is amazing that Japan,
which has mere .05% Muslim population, enjoys numerous Japanese Halal
eateries spread across all its cities and provinces. It is sad though
that the Philippines has 11% Muslim population and yet has no Japanese
Halal restaurant found anywhere across the country,” reveals Hasim.
“It is this reality that
prompted me to bring to the Philippines the first 100 percent Halal
Japanese restaurant, called Samurai Halal Express.”
Innovative and authentic
taste at Samurai Halal Express
Located at a prime area in
the Food Court of Terminal-3 in the Ninoy Aquino International
Airport, the Samurai Halal Express is a cozy eatery for Muslims and
non-Muslims who love Japanese cuisine.
Strictly using imported
Halal meat and chicken and halal-authenticated ingredients, the first
Halal Japanese restaurant in the Philippines is proudly manned by a
Filipino sushi chef who has mastered the artistry of Japanese cuisine.
On top of the regular
Japanese cuisine selections, the Samurai Halal Express unveils several
innovative menus, such as the country’s first new ramen in a bowl with
choices of seafood, chicken and beef ramen – all in authentic taste.
“Everything is made to order
with the freshest ingredients, making sure that every dish is prepared
from scratch, and is cooked separately with secret flavor,” claims its
Samurai’s tempura and furai
(fried shrimp) are hand-picked and nicely coated with utmost care.
Customers are free to watch Samurai’s show kitchen. Customers can see
the preparation of sushi side and food orders as they are done the
traditional way – with not much fusion except for its authentic
ingredients. Children who love sushi will surely bask in its beef and
chicken roll designed with the fancy look.
Samurai Halal Express is
said to be a “market tester” that will soon become a model for
expansion to other places in the Philippines.
Like the daring young boy
who wandered places to collect coconut shells to produce charcoal and
who drove tamaraw jeepney around outskirts of Zamboanga City, and went
far to work abroad and acquired quality international experience and
education, the man of current will soon take Samurai Halal Express to
the hearts of the Filipinos.
Cavite enterprise wins
back-to-back Katha Awards at IFEX Philippines
Kapfer and Rivera United
Inc. bags award for Processed Fruit and Vegetables with Puso ng Saging
May 23, 2017
CITY – Cavite-based Kapfer and Rivera United Inc., makers of the
‘Island Gems’ brand, won the 2017 Katha Award for Food for the Best
New Product Award for Processed Fruit & Vegetables category for its
ready-to-eat bottled Puso ng Saging at the recently concluded IFEX
Philippines held at the World Trade Center Metro Manila (WTCMM) and
Philippine Trade Training Center (PTTC).
Gem’s Puso ng Saging – Processed Fruit and Vegetables 2017 Katha
The company’s bottled Puso ng Saging, is an all-natural creation made
of banana blossoms, coconut cream, salted shrimp fry, and spices that
can be used as a spread, topping or the main dish. Consistent with the
company’s vision for the highest food standards, it contains premium
ingredients, no preservatives, and no added flavoring.
The award is a back-to-back win for the Filipino-German company,
having won the Katha Award in the same category in 2015 with their
ready-to-eat bottled Laing or Taro Leaves in Coco Cream.
"Kapfer and Rivera deserves
recognition for its consistency in delivering high-quality and
inventive Filipino-inspired products, such as Laing and Puso ng Saging,
which helps propel the Philippine in the international market as a
source of premium healthy and organic food products,” said Clayton
Tugonon, Executive Director of Center for International Trade
Expositions and Mission (CITEM), the organizer of IFEX Philippines.
A joint venture by Maria
Rivera, who came home from Singapore in 2012 with German husband Chris
Kapfer, the Kapfer and Rivera United Inc. started in 2012 with the
creation of their fine mango jam using premium ingredients.
As a boutique company, it is
committed to bringing new products to the market that are affordable
and authentic, never cutting corners with the use of artificial
additives like flavoring, coloring, and preservatives.
“I’m glad that our line of
healthy products is recognize here in IFEX Philippines,” said Kapfer.
“For this year, we are hoping to get more high-quality buyers from
Korea and Japan and this recognition in Katha is a big boost towards
Aside from tapping markets
abroad, Kapfer and Rivera Inc. aims to focus growth on the local
market, a segment that they believe has great potential and lacking in
premium quality locally made food.
“The Philippine economy is
doing well. More manufacturers are coming up with higher quality,
because people are demanding it,” said Managing Director Maria Rivera
Kapfer. “The problem is we tend to serve cheap stuff, synthetic stuff
for the Pinoys. Why give fruit-flavored jams? We give them real
Rivera added: “We deserve
quality goods for our people and we want to make it mainstream and
affordable. We could have chosen to go to go to gourmet shops but we
said no, we must democratize good quality food and make it more
affordable. You can’t always say, pwede na yan, local naman yan eh.
That’s really bad. We deserve better than that.”
Aside from Puso ng Saging
and Laing, the Filipino-German company is selling single-serve fruit
fillings, such as Strawberry, Calamansi, Guava, Mango and Pineapple,
as well as Macapuno and Ube de Pastillas, under their Island Gems
brand. The company is also offerings manufacturing and toll packaging
As of now, Kapfer and Rivera
United Inc. have established retail stores in Urban Pantry (Green
Hills Metro Manila), Connie's Kitchen Deli (New Manila, Quezon City),
Real Food (Molito, Alabang), Landmark (Makati and Trinoma), Unimart
(Green Hills, Metro Manila), Ritual (San Lorenzo Village, Makati),
Shell Gas Mart (Slex to Batangas, after San Pedro Exit), Enchanted
Kingdom (Agila - The Eksperience) Duty Free (Kalibo, Palawan), and
selected stores of Robinsons Supermarket.
K&R United embraces the
traditional values of integrity, reliability, quality and
cost-effectiveness in dealing with its business partners and clients.
The company’s facility is
located in Cavite, an area in the southern region of Luzon in the
Philippines. We are licensed to operate (LTO), with Good Manufacturing
Practice (GMP) certifications, and registered in US Food and Drug
Gem’s Laing – Processed Fruit and Vegetables 2015 Katha Award
Executive Director Clayton Tugonon (leftmost) and DTI
Undersecretary Nora K. Terrado (rightmost) introduces the
winners of the 2017 Katha Awards for Food at IFEX Philippines.
Katha Awards for
Food spotlights innovative, export competitive products at IFEX
May 20, 2017
PASAY CITY – The 11th
edition of the International Food Exhibition (IFEX) Philippines,
through the 2017 Katha Awards for Food, once again pays homage to
newly developed Philippine food products and applications yesterday at
the World Trade Center Metro Manila (WTCMM) and Philippine Trade
Training Center (PTTC).
The awards aim to strengthen the reputation of the Philippines as a
go-to destination for globally competitive Asian food and ingredients
by recognizing companies that explore new galleries of flavors,
original brand ideas, unique food fusions, and creative packaging
The competition is open to all Philippine-based food manufacturers and
suppliers participating in IFEX Philippines 2017. The winners are
hailed from six different product categories: Food Ingredients, Marine
and Meat Products, Snack Foods, Beverages, Processed Fruits and
Vegetables, and Confectionery and Biscuits and Pastry. The company
with the most creative booth exhibition is also recognized.
Katha Awards for Food was judged by SM Supermarket Senior Vice
President for Marketing Millie Dizon, ZOMATO Philippines Country
Manager Anton Ojeda, Philippines Airlines Manager for Food Planning
and Standards Division Maria Criselda Abantao Rayos, and Food
Packaging and Labeling Expert Abner Villahermosa. They chose the
winners according to Market Demand, 25%; Packaging Design and
Innovation, 35% and; Product Innovation, 40%.
Here are the category winners of the 2017 Katha Awards for Food:
Food Ingredients: FIERY LABUYO BARBEQUE MARINADE of Mama Sita’s
Instilling innovation while keeping its century-old culinary
tradition, Mama Sita’s has newly concocted to perfection the Fiery
Labuyo Barbeque Marinade for lovers of spicy food fusions.
Bold and fiery, the native labuyo chili pepper offers a truly
unforgettable barbeque experience without the monosodium glutamate
(MSG) and other preservatives.
Marine and Meat Products: FISH SAUSAGES of Fisherfarms, Inc.
Farms All Natural Fish Sausages are free from artificial ingredients
and chemical preservatives. Made from 100% fish meat, they provide
around 10% of the recommended daily allowance of protein, contain
Omega-3, and have 0 trans fats.
Free from gluten, casein, nitrites, and MSG, Fisher Farms All Natural
Fish Sausages are perfect for health-conscious gourmets and sausage
Snack Foods: KALE CHIPS of Take Root Food Corner
completely guilt-free, vegan chip that combines the taste of tangy
sour cream with freshly cut chives!
Take Root Food Corner’s Kale Chips is made with all-natural and
organic ingredients. No oil, dairy, sugar or any preservatives. Made
from nutritionally dense leafy greens available, these addicting kale
chips are never baked or friend, but dried at low temperatures to
preserve its essential nutrients and enzymes.
Beverages: TURMERIC TEA WITH CALAMANSI of Muy Bien
Lemongrass is a sweetened tea drink made by the Negros
Occidental-based Muy Bien Ventures Co. Inc. from the natural and
organic extracts of turmeric, ginger, lemon grass and calamansi.
Turmeric comes from the root of Cucuma longa plant. Called in the
Philippines as "Luyang Dilaw," turmeric has a tough brown skin and
deep orange flesh. Curcumin, the main active ingredient in turmeric,
has a powerful anti-inflammatory effect and a very strong antioxidant.
Processed Fruits and Vegetable: PUSO NG SAGING of KAPFER AND RIVERA
Also known as “Ginataang Puso ng Saging,” this
ready-to-eat Philippine dish satisfies the cravings for a hearty and
savory meal – perfectly served on a hot cup of rice or as an appetizer
paired with toasted bread and melted cheese on top.
Puso ng Saging is high in fiber and rich in taste, while completely
being pork and chicken free.
Confectionery, Biscuits and Pastry: 85% NATULE CHOCOLATE DARK of
MALAGOS AGRI-VENTURES CORP.
Developed to cater the taste of the
high-standard Japanese market, the 85% Natule Chocolate Dark is an
all-organic treat lets you experience the true essence of cacao,
enriched with the subtle sweet aroma of coconut nectar.
The product was made under Malagos Chocolate’s single-origin chocolate
production or what they call the “tree to bar” process, which involves
the planting, harvesting, fermenting, solar drying, roasting, and
processing of the cacao beans into fine-flavored chocolates.
Best Booth: Fisherfarms, Inc.
As a pioneer in aquaculture products
processing, Fisherfarms, Inc. stages this year’s IFEX Philippines with
a bright and modern scenography, highlighting the interesting insights
on the Philippines’ seafood products, as well conducting on-site
cooking and food sampling activities.
Fisher Farms, Inc, has one of the country’s widest range of premium
quality fresh, frozen, value-added, and completely processed seafood
products to clientele and institutions such as supermarkets,
groceries, fast food chains, restaurants, distributors, and hotels all
over the world. The Philippine seafood innovator is currently present
in key markets such as USA, Canada, Middle East, Asia, Africa,
Australia, and Europe.
2017 labor day state of
employers ignore workers’ slide to poverty, inequality
Associated Labor Unions (ALU)
May 1, 2017
DAVAO CITY – The
country’s biggest labor organization, the Associated Labor Unions (ALU)
warned of uprising among the working poor as means to be freed from
misery if government and employers continue to ignore worsening
poverty and inter-generational inequality caused by joblessness,
inadequate wages, insufficient social protection benefits and
precarious short-term work arrangement.
“We have been witness to
recent series of events where our poorest poor people were forced to
raid rice warehouses, invade government housing units and claim
ownership to lands that they felt was deprived from them. We do not
condone nor tolerate these illegal actions but we attribute these
series of lawlessness as symptoms of an irresponsive government and
inhumane employers and capitalists,” said Alan Tanjusay.
Diminishing value of wage vs. rising inflation
Despite of the country’s
consistent economic growth, the purchasing power of daily minimum wage
fell significantly in the face of 3.4% inflation rate registered in
In a monitoring made by ALU,
the purchasing power, for example, of P491 daily minimum wage in the
National Capital Region fell to P361 in February 2017. While the
average purchasing power of daily minimum wages in regions outside NCR
is P250 a day.
These rates are considered
way below the 2015 standard poverty level of P393 required amount
needed by a family of five for food and non-food needs to survive in a
“This condition needs
immediate response from government and employers. Workers are now
desperate and if this is met inaction many will resort desperate means
to survive,” Tanjusay said.
Tanjusay cited incidents in
April last year where 300 farmers attempted to ransack a rice
warehouse, the recent invasion of government housing units in Bulacan
by hundreds informal settler families and last week’s invasion of a
portion of Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac by landless farmers.
To back up his claims on
growing poverty, Tanjusay cited the result of survey a few days ago by
the Social Weather Station (SWS) estimating there are 11.5 million
families or 69 million individuals who said they are impoverished
compared to 10 million families or 60 million individuals in December
With a vast amount of wealth
generated by a consistently growing economy, why does millions of
families still feel deprived? Where does the money go?
Aside from 40 families of
oligarchs still controlling the economy, Tanjusay specifically
identified the drivers of poverty among workers and their families.
These are growing unemployment, underemployment, and meager social
He said the drivers of
poverty among working poor are the growing unemployment, widening
underemployment driven by inadequate wages, precarious
contractualization short-term contractual work arrangement,
jobs-skills mismatch, inadequate social insurance, worsening traffic
congestion and fire-prone workplaces.
Government’s Labor Force
Survey released on March 14 this year, 39.4 million Filipinos are
employed, out of which are 2.8 million without jobs while 6.4 million
are underemployed of the total 69.4 million workforce as of January
“With only a few families
controlling the economy, our government institution should function
according to their mandates and enforce our laws and implement
programs to make the money trickle down to benefit workers who helped
built that wealth. But these are dysfunctional.
“Analyzing these numbers,
the cause of concern out of this survey is not just on those jobless
but we are monitoring the behavior of the underemployed as well or
those who have jobs yet their income is inadequate to meet their
needs,” Tanjusay said.
Causes of unemployment and underemployment
He identified the causes of
unemployment and underemployment as contractualization, jobs-skills
mismatch, low minimum wage, rising prices of goods and cost of
services, diminishing purchasing power of meager minimum wage and lack
of jobs-creating investments due to expensive electricity, water and
transportation cost, expensive but poor telecommunication and internet
Workers productivity at work
and quality time at home are also hounded by tardiness, fatigue,
stress, caused by worsening traffic congestion and poor mass transport
system and inadequate and aging infrastructures such as airports,
seaports, container ports, railways, roads and bridges.
The ALU also attributes
unemployment and underemployment to high cost of doing business
imposed by local government units, judicial proceedings, and
government red tape, illegal smuggling, occupational safety and
health, tedious labor cases, and meager social protection coverage
including low pension benefit, rising crime incidents, and continuing
peace and order problems.
Contractualization and wage
The issue of temporary
contractualization work arrangement are among the top priorities when
labor groups meets with Duterte in a Mayday dialogue with labor groups
including ALU, Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) and
labor coalition Nagkaisa to be held 3p.m. today at People’s Park in
“These challenges are
brimming burden for workers. But organized labor groups prioritized
the order of battle by concentrating their energy on the issue of
raising wages to cope rising cost of living and ensuring workers have
security of tenure by banning contractualization and all fixed-term
employment because they need to survive and cope with rising cost of
living not just for today but the days after,” Tanjusay said.
The unions fight to
eradicate contractualization is even made difficult with many elected
executive and legislative government officials through dummies are
engaged in the business of manpower service providers in constantly
providing workers to companies and locators in their areas of
“This racket is working for
both the politicians and business owners. This is profit and secured
votes for politicians in exchange of no delays in permits to operate
and for them turning blind eye on employers’ non-compliance to local
labor ordinances and standards including general labor standards and
occupational safety and health standards,” Tanjusay said.
Kentex and HTI fires
Seventy four workers
perished in May 2015 Kentex factory fire while five workers were
burned to death in HTI fire incident in February this year. These
fatal incidents could have been prevented had there been routine local
level inspections before the issuance of permits to operate.
May 1, 2017 dialogue agenda
Aside from the
contractualization and wage issues, there are ten other issues that
they expect action from Duterte in today’s dialogue.
The ALU and Nagkaisa labor
coalition have grounds to anticipate that Duterte would also certify
House Bill 4444, an Act to Strengthen Security of Tenure sponsored by
TUCP Party-list Rep. Raymond Mendoza as urgent administration measure.
House Bill 4444 shall prohibit all forms of fixed term employment and
criminalizes its violation.
Workers also requested the
Duterte approval of International Labour Organization Convention 151
which empowers government workers to organize and create their own
associations and unions; resolve once and for all the
five-years-and-running dispute on outsourcing between Philippine
Airlines and PAL Employees Association.
Labor groups also requested
for the creation of a tripartite commission to review and revise
guidelines on wage setting, ensure genuine labor representation to
government tripartite bodies, establish a reform of power policy that
will assure security of supply of electricity and its affordability to
make our economy competitive.
They also seek Duterte
approval of deputization of trade unions in the inspection of
workplaces, regularize quarterly dialogue with labor groups, issue an
order prohibiting the collection of recruitment and placement fees,
and assign help desk where trade unions can report rogue cops who are
using the crack down on illegal drugs as a camouflage in
The ALU proposed Duterte to
provide through a P500 monthly subsidy for workers to cope with the
rising cost of living. The proposal is called Emergency Labor
Empowerment and Assistance Program of the Office of the President,
Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and accredited trade unions.
Under the proposal, the
Office of the President may initially appropriate and provide the
subsidy amount with the DOLE as lead implementing agency with trade
unions as conduit of the program in distributing cash vouchers after
beneficiaries attended workers’ orientation on fundamental workers’
Forthcoming labor problems
Aside from ongoing
challenges and problems facing workers, the ALU anticipate the influx
of foreign workers to fill the shortage of skilled and professional
workers due to the continuing flight of Filipino workers to work
abroad in search of better wage and higher benefits and the possible
uptick demand for more workers in the light of mega-infrastructure
programs envisioned by Duterte administration’s ‘Dutertenomics” and
‘build, build, build’.
The ALU also identify
climate change events as significant factor that impact workers. The
devastation caused by El Niño and La Niña phenomenon not only
threatens the life and limbs of working people but also displaces and
breaks livelihood patterns.
“Extreme weather events are
catastrophic to all Filipino. The sum effect is if workers are able to
survive these events, they are unsure if they still have jobs and
means of livelihood when their factories and offices are destroyed by
natural forces,” Tanjusay said.
He cited the post-Yolanda
havoc and the recent decision of the government to shut down mining
Decreasing union density
The narrative of workers
struggle for decent work and shared prosperity in globalization age is
made difficult by waning power if unionism.
The Bureau of Labor
Relations of the DOLE estimated there are around 2.1 million workers
registered as members of the union and only around 200,000 of which
are covered by Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA) as of December
2016, down from 4 million unionized workers and 400,000 covered by CBA
However, amid the brimming
natural and man-made woes confronting workers, there are bright
prospects that would somehow slow down the downward trend of
unemployment and underemployment and mitigate its negative impacts to
the labor force.
Tanjusay said the
government’s completion and operationalization of mass railway and
utility bus system and the establishment of a national broadband
nationwide spur direct employment in the construction and information,
communication and technology sector.
Impending tax refund
The Bureau of Internal
Revenue (BIR) owes each 600,000 minimum-waged workers nationwide with
an estimated P9,000 “blood money” from the tax they collected for six
months in 2008 amid a law exempting the workers from withholding tax.
In its decision released on
February this year, the Supreme Court said minimum wage earners (MWEs)
should not taxed because they are exempted from doing so by Republic
Act 9502 – the law giving exemption to minimum waged workers from
monthly salary tax deductions. The law became effective June 17, 2008.
However, the BIR issued Revenue Regulation 10-2008 and only exempted
MWEs six months later.
Tanjusay said they expect
the Supreme Court finally decide on the manner of refund before the
end of the year.
Compliance and enforcement
These challenges needs
radical government interventions and serious reforms in the hearts and
minds of employers and capitalists.
“The Associated Labor Unions
is urging the government to consistently enforce labor standards and
occupational safety and health standards. We call on employers and
business-owners to faithfully comply to labor laws and policies,”
If these remains unattended,
poverty will continue to thrive and breed social problems. Ignoring
inequalities will always evolve from one generation to another and
create even more problems, he said.
of the members of the Magbinuligon Bayanihan Association-Women
in Development Association (MBA-WIDA) pose with Municipal
Agrarian Reform Program Officer Maritess Nacilla (extreme left).
(Jose Alsmith L. Soria)
It takes a woman to
do a man’s job: The MBA-WIDA story
JOHN CHRISTOPHER COLASITO
March 23, 2017
TACLOBAN CITY –
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Tatcher, once said, “...that
whenever you want things said, give it to a man, and when you want
things done, give it to a woman.” The women of Magbinuligon Bayanihan
Association – Women In Development Association (MBA-WIDA) formerly the
Opong MPC are proof that women can indeed bring change and make things
Formed from the defunct
Opong MPC, the MBA was organized with the help of DAR in 2009.
According to DAR Agrarian Reform Program Officer I (ARPO I) Ma.
Milagrosa Noveda, she spearheaded the reorganization effort of what is
now the MBA, and has 379 members, 197 of which are females and 182 are
males. It is a federation or network organization, with WIDA as its
The organization has a one
(1) hectare communal farm planted to high yielding vegetable
varieties, in addition to a less than a hectare tilapia fish pond. It
is also engaged in rice production.
But the women of MBA-WIDA,
have walked the extra mile. They may look comely, shy and pretty; but
mind you, some of them are certified welders with NC II certificates
from TESDA. Some have also received training in carpentry and masonry,
and gentlemen, take a bow, these ladies constructed their warehouse
from scratch. ARPO I Noveda says that these women actually built their
warehouse, and it was a sight to see them holding hammers, welding
tools and do construction work. Welding, carpentry and masonry, are
traditionally the preserve of men. It is not every day that we find
women in a rural community break the gender barriers, and the women of
MBA-WIDA, have shown they can indeed make a difference.
In a rural community, the
traditional occupational roles are very much emphasized between sexes.
However, things were to change when super typhoon Yolanda came. It
brought change at a rapid pace.
non-government organizations, private agencies and donors, and
government agencies poured assistance to calamity-stricken areas,
Tolosa, included. There was also a serious shortage of skilled labor
particularly for carpenters, masons, plumbers, electricians and the
like. Soon, government agencies and civic-minded organizations started
training those interested in these skilled occupations that were in
short supply. These trainings included both men and women, and the
members of MBA-WIDA. Together, they were a force in the rehabilitation
and development of their community. After Yolanda, it opened several
opportunities for livelihood and entrepreneurship.
But they did not stop there.
They were able to access ILO funding worth P2M, more or less, for the
construction of their building with provisions for an office and
storage area. It was here that the women showed their carpentry,
masonry and welding skills, and did traditional chores that used to be
the preserve of men, a few years back. Yes, there were males who
helped them along the way, but this was something new and it signalled
a new chapter in the life of empowerment of women in local life.
They were also a beneficiary
under the Partnership Against Hunger and Poverty (PAHP), ARPO I Noveda
said. They also availed of the on-site training provided by DAR and
from partners. Today, they are engaged in addition to their vegetable
production where they produce bell peppers, they are in vermi-cast
production, an organic fertilizer derived from African Night Crawlers
earthworms with technology provided by the DAR. They produce green
charcoal briquettes. They have also engaged in the production of red
rice organically, which is in high demand for the wellness and health
conscious market, particularly the diabetics.
They have diversified their interests: meat processing, and catering
business. In line with this, they underwent trainings in food
preparation and food handling, table skirting. They have also produced
nuggets from vegetables. Their latest venture is the production of
organic dishwashing liquid, which they started marketing in their
The MBA-WIDA is an epitome
of empowerment, breaking traditional stereotypes. They have also
learned to think of their future, access and mobilize resources to
effect their plans. They may have to deal with challenges along the
way. But after the storm, they have charted their lives in their
hands, and blazed new trails.
Premium Chocolates launched in the US
By DTI- Industry Promotion
November 18, 2016
CITY – The Department of Trade and Industry’s Philippine Trade and
Investment Center Los Angeles (PTIC-LA) confirmed that Malagos Premium
Chocolates, a chocolate produced in the Philippines, will now be
available in the United States. This was further to the announcement
made by the Davao-based Malagos Agri-Ventures during their recent
participation at the North West Chocolate Festival in Seattle,
Washington on November 12 -13, 2016.
Trade and Investment Center - Los Angeles and San Francisco Trade
Representative Jojie Dinsay (L) with Mr. Rex Puentispina (R) of
Malagos Agri-Ventures at the NorthWest Chocolate Festival.
Malagos line of chocolates has received acclaim from international
fine food and chocolate award-giving bodies in Europe for its premium
qualities. The products are single-origin, having been manufactured
fully on-site on its farm in Davao, Philippines.
Dinsay, Trade Representative of the Philippines for the US West Coast
and Head of the Philippine Trade and Investment Centers in Los Angeles
and San Francisco said that this is another success story for the
promotions efforts of premium food products in the US market as a
result of the partnership between government and the private sector.
“We are very happy and proud to have another premium product from the
Philippines enter this market” Dinsay said. “The Philippine Trade and
Investment Centers as part of our mandate will continue to support
companies like Malagos in promoting their products all over the
Featuring 110 exhibitors,
the Northwest Chocolate Festival is known to be among the top shows
for artisan chocolates in the world today with around 12,000 visitors.
Malagos Premium Chocolates, a multi-awarded Philippine chocolate from
Davao, was introduced not only to choco-loving consumers but to
traditional and artisan chocolatiers, chefs and baristas present at
participation at the NW Chocolate Festival was supported by the DTI’s
Export Marketing Bureau (DTI-EMB). Prior to this, assistance from the
DTI regional office in Davao was also recognized by Malagos.
The Malagos brand is also
expected to be introduced by Ampac International Inc., its importer in
the United States, to UNI-MART Niles in Niles, Illinois and UNI-MART
Hoffman in Hoffman Estates.
According to Mr. Rex
Puentispina, Sales and Marketing Head of Malagos Agri-Venture, joining
the Festival validates his belief that their chocolates can match the
quality and taste of US and other international brands. “We have
received a lot of good feedback from chocolate lovers visiting our
booth” said Puentispina. “There were even some who say that this is
one of the best they have ever tasted,” added Puentispina.
In 2015 at the International
Chocolate Awards, Malagos 65% Dark Chocolate was named one of world’s
best drinking chocolates. In the same year, it won at the Academy of
Chocolate Awards when its 100% Unsweetened Chocolate won the Bronze
Award for Best Unflavored Drinking Chocolate.
In 2016, its Premium 100%
Unsweetened Chocolate won the Silver at the Drinking Chocolate
competition of the Academy of Chocolate’s Eighth Golden Bean Awards in
London. It also won that year a blind-taste competition when its
Unsweetened Chocolate earned two of the maximum three stars awarded by
Great Taste, the world’s most prestigious food accreditation body.
The company continues to
invest in equipment and technology, producing its premium,
single-origin chocolate products such as Malagos 100% Pure Unsweetened
Chocolate, Malagos Roasted Cocoa Nibs, Malagos 65% Dark Chocolate,
Malagos 72% Dark Chocolate, and Malagos 85% Dark Chocolate.
With its expansion in the
United States, Malagos is expected to generate more jobs for Filipinos
back in the Philippines.
of the Bugho Farmers Association (BFA) savor their firs harvest
after the Department of Agrarian Reform with the help of the
RIGHTS and the Philippine National Police successfully installed
the former to their awarded land under the Comprehensive
Agrarian Reform Program in June this year.
(Jose Alsmith L.
struggle Ormoc farmers start harvesting
By JOSE ALSMITH L. SORIA
October 7, 2016
ORMOC CITY – Rosenda
Apay could not hide her happiness as they started harvesting last week
after having been deprived entry for 16 years to their awarded land
under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program’s (CARP’s) land
acquisition and distribution component.
Apay, 56, was one of the 21
members of the Bugho Farmers Association (BFA) who were successfully
installed by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in June to the
25-hectare lot within the Fran Farm in Barangay Matica-a in this city
after several failed attempts.
“Masaya kami dahil nakabalik
na kami pagtrabaho sa aming lupa. Tapos, sa ngayon nag-aani na. Mas
lalo kaming masaya,” (We are happy because we are back working in our
farm. Now, we are already harvesting. The happier we are.) said Apay.
According to her, they will
be harvesting rice in the 25-hectare lot until the last week of
October. Their initial harvest produced 60 cavans.
She also disclosed that they
decided not to sub-divide the 25 hectares covered under a collective
certificate of land ownership award (CLOA) to keep it intact,
preventing the sale of any portion of it by a member of their
association. What they are going to divide is the produce, Apay added.
The members of the BFA were
identified by the DAR in the late 90s to be the beneficiaries of lots
8667-47 and 8667-48 with a combined total area of 46 hectares.
But when CLOAs were
registered in 1999 in the names of the BFA members, the Fran Farm
Workers Association (FFWA) questioned in court as to who should be the
rightful beneficiaries of the said lots which dragged on for 16 years
resulting to animosity among them.
During this period, BFA was
deprived entry into the contested landholding.
The case was resolved only
when the BFA, in a rare gesture of magnanimity and grace, offered the
21-hectare lot to the rival group while retaining the 25-hectare lot
to themselves leading to a compromise agreement in March this year.
Both groups were finally
installed to their respective farmlots on June 13 and started
Apay thanked DAR, the
non-government organization RIGHTS and the Philippine National Police
which continue to provide security in the area to maintain the peace
and order situation.
Apay and FFWA member Medardo
Cabahug, 59, admitted that their groups have already settled their
differences. However, both also disclosed that another group entered
into the scene bringing threats as the latter claims ownership of the
once disputed area.
Meanwhile, DAR-8 Regional
Director Sheila Enciso directed Assistant Regional Director Ismael Aya-ay
to hasten the delivery of the necessary support services needed by
Save the Children
report: PH economy loses P328 billion a year due to malnutrition
Save the Children Philippines
August 30, 2016
MANILA – A new report
released today by Save the Children reveals that the Philippine
economy is losing at least P328 billion a year due to the impact of
childhood stunting on workforce productivity and education. Stunting
is the most prevalent form of undernutrition, and has permanent
effects on a child’s growth and development.
The report entitled “Cost of
Hunger: Philippines” suggests that, in 2013, childhood stunting cost
the Philippines almost 3 percent of its GDP. The overall economic loss
of P328 billion consists of:
1) P166.5 billion worth of
lost income as a result of lower level of education achieved by the
working population who suffered from childhood stunting;
2) P160 billion in lost
productivity due to premature deaths among children who would have
been members of our current working-age population;
3) P1.23 billion in additional education costs to cover grade
repetitions linked to undernutrition.
more than 25 years of steady improvement, stunting prevalence
among Filipino children below five years old increased from 30.3%
in 2013 to 33.4% in 2015.
Ned Olney, Save the Children Philippines Country Director, said: “This
study proves that undernutrition has a cost to all of us. In just a
year, Philippines has lost almost 3 percent of its GDP in terms of
education and productivity costs due to stunting. If we add up health
costs, the likely impact would be an additional 0.05 - 1.6 percent.”
The report shows that stunting is the best predictor of productivity
and income, and that undernutrition is linked to lower human capital.
Children who are stunted in the first two years of life are more
likely to repeat grade levels, drop out of school, delay school entry
and have lower income levels when they enter the workforce.
Olney added: “If stunting rates continue to rise, it would be
difficult for families to break free from poverty. It is the poor and
neglected sectors of society that carry the burden of stunting. Any
investment in reducing childhood undernutrition will reduce suffering
and poverty, and will ultimately stimulate economic growth for all
The report found, however,
that Philippines’ investment in nutrition programs is very low at only
0.52 percent of general government expenditures compared to the global
average allocation of 2.1 percent. Citing the report findings, Save
the Children highlighted the need to invest in nutrition programs
during the child’s first 1000 days, from pregnancy up to the second
birthday, which is considered a critical period of care to avert
Olney said: “Nutrition is
the cornerstone of all development efforts. This new report tells us
that for every US$1 spent on programs to avert stunting in children
below 2 years old, the Philippines could save over 100 US dollars in
health, education, and lost productivity costs.”
“It should outrage us that
95 children will die every day because of malnutrition.”
Save the Children is raising
the alarm on the nutrition crisis, and is calling the national and
local government, private sector and the donors to end the appalling
state of malnutrition in the Philippines:
• Support the “First 1000
Days Bill” to enhance the delivery of quality nutrition interventions
in the first 1000 days of a child’s life to prevent stunting among
• Push and sustain equitable
nutrition policies and programs and ensure budgetary allocations that
address the immediate, underlying and basic causes of malnutrition.
• Ensure security of tenure
and sustained training of the community front-liners e.g. such as
barangay health workers and nutrition officers and scholars. Health
and nutrition workers are highly politicized, lack incentives and
support for trainings, have no security of tenure.
• National and local
governments provide clear and separate budget for nutrition-specific
interventions to avoid confusion between health and nutrition budgets.
• Intensify health and
nutrition-related training, research and extension support activities
to support the First 1000 Days Program through the Barangay Integrated
Development Approach for Nutrition Improvement (BIDANI) Network
Program of the Rural Poor and other relevant approaches, thereby
strengthening delivery systems in partnership with the LGUs.
• Scale up cost-effective
and affordable high-impact nutrition interventions to prevent
undernutrition that cripples the country, such as promotion of
exclusive breastfeeding, complementary feeding, vitamin A and iron
supplementation, treatment of acute malnutrition and maternal
• Strengthen enforcement of
the Milk Code (Executive Order Number 51), and the Expanded
Breastfeeding Promotion Act (Republic Act Number 10028) to protect,
promote, and support optimal infant and young child feeding, both in
private and public facilities and spaces.
• We call for the strict and
sustained implementation of nutrition-specific interventions,
including infant and young child feeding (IYCF), micronutrient
supplementation and the Community Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM),
which is now required to be implemented nationwide.
• Revise conditionalities
under the government’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) to
include mandatory breastfeeding and education sessions on infant and
young child feeding.
• Align health and nutrition
programs to the priorities and directions of the Philippine Plan of
Action for Nutrition and the Strategy for Women, Infant, and Young
• Increase the focus on
water, hygiene and sanitation interventions for children by targeting
child-related behaviors and risk factors, such as safe disposal of
human waste, complementary food hygiene and handwashing and
intensifying promotion of Philippine Approach to Total Sanitation (PhATS)
program to reinvigorate our country’s progress towards the national
goals of eliminating open defecation.
Children of War
June 24, 2016
QUEZON CITY – They
are children of war, victims of a war their innocent minds cannot
comprehend. But they know injustice has been to done their parents who
did nothing wrong by helping the farmers, the workers, the poor.
Even adults cannot
comprehend why launching a fight against the causes of poverty and
unrest is a crime. And why one should be jailed for one's political
Angel Lorenzo, 8 years old,
studies at the Children of God Learning Academy; a child seemingly
forsaken by man's folly.
She remembers when the bad
guys came along, took her mother and left her with her one year old
sister and their “yaya” to complete strangers. How she cried and cried
together with her sister. Their “yaya”, terrified and confused, would
not know how to console them. They cried and cried until their
grandmother arrived to take them.
That day, July 20, 2015,
Joyce Latayan, 39, Angel's mother, has just arrived home after picking
her up from school. She noticed two men in civilian clothes inside
their compound. Then she saw other plain- clothes men went up the
second floor of their house. They later came down with bags and a box
of weapons, items which do not belong to Angel's family. They
identified themselves as members of the Criminal and Investigation
Detection Group (CIDG).
The men whisked Joyce away
on the basis of a highly questionable and faulty search warrant issued
from the Cabanatuan City Regional Trial Court and the box of weapons
they were carrying. She was charged with trumped up cases of illegal
possession of firearms and explosives, which were later dismissed by
the Prosecutor's Office in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan where they
At about the same time,
Angelika's father, Ernesto Lorenzo, 59, was nabbed at the IT Center in
Gilmore, Quezon City, by joint elements of the CIDG and members of the
military intelligence group.
Lorenzo is a peace
consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines with
JASIG ID No. ND978229 under the assumed name of "Lean Martinez".
Lorenzo's arrest was based on a warrant for destructive arson filed in
2010 in Lucena City. He was among the activists and leaders of
people's organizations in Southern Tagalog falsely charged with
criminal offenses by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's Inter-Agency
Legal Action Group (IALAG). In 2007, UN Special Rapporteur on
extrajudicial killings Prof. Philip Alston had strongly recommended
abolition of the IALAG and a stop to the practice of filing fabricated
charges against activists.
Lorenzo was a youth leader
of the Methodist Youth Fellowship and had been a long time pastor of
the United Methodist Church after his studies. Later he engaged in
organizing work in the peasant communities and in socio-economic and
development work among urban poor and workers. He is currently
detained at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology’s Special
Intensive Care Area (BJMP-SICA) at Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City.
mabuti. (Be good, study well)." This is Kennedy Bangibang's perennial
advice to his only son, Diwin Jude Kenn Monte Bangibang, 8 years old,
whenever he visits him in the confines of the Bureau of Jail
Management and Penology in Tabuk, Kalinga, Cordillera.
A full-blooded Igorot who
hails from a remote village in Cordillera, Kennedy was witness to the
plunder of foreign corporations on their ancestral land and natural
As a student activist in
1987, he had immersed with the peasant masses. He later became a
full-time activist and revolutionary leader. He was illegally arrested
on February 23, 1913 [sic] by elements of the RIU-14 of the Philippine
National Police-Intelligence Group while on board a bus at a PNP
checkpoint in Bangao Proper, Buguias, Benguet. Kennedy is a consultant
of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines on Cordillera
Affairs. His arrest is a blow to the national minorities as their
concern is among the issues to be tackled in the next agenda of the
peace talks – the drafting of a Comprehensive Agreement on
Socio-Economic Reform (CASER).
Victim of a justice system
that grinds exceedingly slow, Kennedy has been languishing in jail for
the past three years and his case being transferred from one court to
another, from Kalinga to Baguio.
While Angel would bubbly
narrate the happy moments with his father as they frolic on the beach
of Pangasinan, where he used to work, Diwin would just matter-of-fact
share memories of his Papa and Mama – the walks in the parks, the
visits to the malls and the one time they went swimming in the
underground river of Palawan.
Diwin's Mama, Recca Noelle Monte, was a New People's Army (NPA)
fighter, who was killed during a military operation of the 41st
Infantry Battalion, 5th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army on
September 4 and 5, 2014 at Guinginabang, Lacub, Abra. She was unarmed
and bore no gunshot wound indicating from the looks of her remains
that she was tortured while held captive, a clear violation of the
International Humanitarian Law.
Diwin could tell the state of his Mama's remains without batting an
eyelid – the traumatic injuries, crushed skull, unidentifiable face,
broken leg bones. Asked if he actually saw this, he said only from the
picture. The handsome, smooth pinkish face of the boy showed no
emotion, but admitted he is sad and lonely.
Angel was loquacious and confident as she told her stories. Her mother
said she regained her composure with the psycho-social counselling she
underwent after the trauma from her experience.
Asked about her father's work, Angel quipped, "Natulong sa farmers at
workers (helps farmers and workers)". Diwin has a similar impression
of his parents work, "they were helping the farmers and the poor."
What do the children of war aspire to be when they grow up? Angel said
she will be a heart surgeon to help the sick. Meanwhile, Diwin wants
to be a lawyer, "so I could defend Papa and Mama. I could free Papa
and give them justice."
climate action on 10th year of “An Inconvenient Truth”
By Climate Reality Project
May 24, 2016
CEBU CITY –
Commemorating the 10th anniversary of Academy award-winning film “An
Inconvenient Truth”, environment groups and climate vulnerable
communities gathered in Cebu to call for the cancellation of approved
coal-fired power plants proposals and just transition to renewable and
cleaner energy source.
The Climate Reality Project
Philippines in cooperation with the Office of Senator Loren Legarda,
Dakila, Greenpeace, Pusyon Kinaiyahan, Foundation for the Philippine
Environment and the University of San Jose de Recoletos organized an
exclusive screening of An Inconvenient Truth and a multi-sectoral
dialogue with students, the religious, and representatives from
coal-fired power plant-affected communities in cities of Naga, Toledo
and Cebu especially that of barangays Sawang Calero and Pasil.
When former Vice President
Al Gore and Participant Media released An Inconvenient Truth in 2006,
the effect was immediate and profound: people everywhere began talking
about the climate crisis – to their friends, their family, and
everyone in their lives – sparking a new kind of movement with
millions demanding action all across the planet.
For so many of us, An
Inconvenient Truth was a wakeup call. It was the moment we understood
the reality of the climate crisis devastating our planet – and it was
the moment we knew we personally had to do something. May 24 marks the
10-year anniversary of the film's release, and we want to acknowledge
and thank you for the critical role you've played in making it a
In 2006, An Inconvenient
Truth inspired millions around the world to speak up about the climate
crisis. Since then, we’ve made progress on many fronts. Just last
December, 195 countries created the historic Paris Agreement to cut
global warming pollution and accelerate the shift to clean energy.
This was a turning point but there’s still tremendous work ahead.
This is the challenge of our
time. Our work to solve the climate crisis could not be more urgent or
important. But today momentum is with us, and together we can solve
Quotes from key speakers:
Al Gore, Nobel Laureate and
former US Vice President; and Chairperson of The Climate Reality
Project (Video Message) -
When we released the “An
Inconvenient Truth” in 2006, I knew we had an important message to
share. But what I couldn’t have known was that the countless people
like you would hear that message and begin talking about the urgency
of the climate crisis in persuasive ways – to their friends, their
families, and their communities – and then, together, we would spark a
new kind of movement with millions of people calling for climate
action around the world.
So as we take a moment to
celebrate the 10-year anniversary of An Inconvenient Truth, I just
wanted to say “Thank You”. Thank you for finding the moral courage to
stand up, even when it wasn’t easy, for taking action to protect our
only home, and thank you for making a difference. We’ve made a lot of
progress together. Just think, last year, 195 nations reach the
historic Paris Agreement to cut global warming pollution and
accelerate the shift to clean energy, a true turning point, but
there’s still tremendous work ahead. And that’s why I’ll be working
with the Climate Reality Project to ensure that countries not only
stick to their commitments but make those commitments even stronger in
the years ahead. And I’m counting on you to continue helping to meet
that challenge, the challenge of our time.
Our work to solve the
climate crisis couldn’t possibly be more urgent or important. But now
the momentum is on our side. I know we can solve the climate crisis.
And I know that thanks to you we will.
Senator Loren Legarda,
Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Climate Change (Keynote
A lot has changed since that
year when An Inconvenient Truth was launched, especially on how we
perceive the climate change phenomenon. People now have a better
understanding of the climate crisis and how it is linked to our
survival. An Inconvenient Truth continues to ignite climate action.
As a developing nation, it
is understandable that the Philippines needs more power, but it cannot
be “we need power at all costs and we will develop at all costs.”
They say that coal is cheap.
I say, coal is not cheap. Coal affects our health, kills biodiversity
and the environment, affects our waters and pollutes the air we
We are a country rich in
renewable energy – the amount of sun and wind is more than enough to
power our entire country many times over.
There is no reason to
hesitate or delay action on a challenge so compelling, on a threat to
humanity so clear and present. For every second that ticks away is but
a second closer to the next calamity. We must lead the way towards
meaningful change for our children and grandchildren, for all of
humanity, for all species in the world, and for Mother Earth.
Rodne Galicha, Country
Manager of the Climate Reality Project Philippines –
Looking back at the
challenges of the film, we were reminded that our planet has all the
means to make our lives convenient through sustainable utilization of
resources within the carrying capacity nature. However, due to our
excessive search for convenience, the long-term result becomes more
inconvenient for our own species to thrive and others are in danger of
extinction. Solving this biggest crisis the world is facing needs
every individual’s commitment and collective action to shift to a
cleaner and livable future.
The Climate Reality Project
in the Philippines will continue to work with communities and partners
to collectively regain the power of the people to define the future
they want for their children's children and the planet.
Screening the film in Cebu
City after the communities’ triumph against the proposed coal-fired
power plant in Barangay Sawang Calero is both a celebration and a way
to collectively reflect on why we do what we can to combat climate
Brother Jaazeal Jakosalem,
Co-Convener of Pusyon Kinaiyahan –
Since 2006, Al Gore’s
Inconvenient Truth still echoes our planet’s cry. The most vulnerable
communities especially the poor call for justice. We are all impelled
to take drastic action to bring back balance and harmony upon all of
creation. Indeed, the cry of the earth is the cry of the poor. This is
a moral and spiritual issue, the integrity of creation.
Gideon Lasco, Environment
Champion for the Climate Reality Project Philippines –
It remains inconvenient to
live up to the implications of climate change partly because for every
inconvenient truth, there is a convenient falsehood. Today, we hear
politicians talk about “clean coal”, as if the word “clean” before
coal can exorcise the havoc coal and other fossil fuels have wrought
upon our planet (coal plants alone account for 1/3 of global carbon
emissions). Today, we hear people talk about “responsible mining”,
which, while it may indeed be a possibility in the future, detracts
from the fact that mining has been responsible for the environmental
degradation in many areas - from Semirara to Surigao.
But perhaps the most
convenient falsehood of all is the idea that we are too insignificant
to make a difference. Indeed, if there is something we can draw
inspiration from in the past ten years, it is the fact that no effort
is too small not to count in our fight to save the planet.
Reuben Muni, Climate and
Energy Campaigner for Greenpeace –
The film "An Inconvenient
Truth" tells us this truth: there is no such thing as an insignificant
act when it comes to solving the climate crisis. 10 years after Al
Gore released his film in May 2006, this wisdom still remains. Every
battle against coal is therefore a significant battle for the planet.
Cebu is one of the most important battles for climate change in the
Philippines. It is not just the country that is watching but the whole
world. Unfortunately, what happens in Cebu does not stay in Cebu. If
we allow another coal plant to be built in Cebu, then we are sending
signals to the rest of the country that it is okay to build more
Hence, Cebu is one of the
iconic fights against coal of our generation. We owe it to the next
generation to ensure that there are no more coal plants that will be
built in Cebu. This year, the people of Cebu City rejected a proposed
coal plant right in the heart of the city. And this year, we declare
that Cebu will break free from coal and other forms of dirty energy.
Ara Chawdhury, Creative
Director of Dakila’s Cebu Collective –
It is evident with An
Inconvenient Truth what the power of film can be. It can be policy
changing petition forming, mind changing. At its best, mind blowing.
At its worst, mind numbing.
Film is supposed to shake
you, to reel you out of your comfort zones. Advocacy filmmaking for me
fails if it preaches to the choir. We aren’t doing any favor by
creating messages only we want to hear, or by alienating anyone who
does not agree with us.
Presedent Diosdado Macapagal Agrarian Scholarship Program
scholar, Samuel Guadalquiver Jr. (extreme left), pose with the
writer, Clariza Estremera (second from left); Municipal Agrarian
Reform Program Officer Romeo Castil (third from left); and his
advisory class. (Jose Alsmith L. Soria)
Destiny: The Samuel
By CLARIZA C. ESTREMERA
May 10, 2016
TACLOBAN CITY –
“There were times when my parents would tell me, I might not be able
to continue my studies next school year because the harvest is low or
the price of copra had gone down. Every time I hear this, the
uncertainty of getting a college degree dreads me. Thus, I applied for
a scholarship to finance my college education.”
These were the recollections
of Samuel Guadalquiver when we visited him before the school year
closed in Quezon Elementary School, where he is teaching for seven
Samuel, or Boboy, to his
family and friends was one of the President Diosdado Macapagal
Agrarian Scholarship Program (PDMASP) recipients in Northern Samar.
His parents, Samuel Sr. and
Amelita, are both agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) so that he
qualified for the said scholarship program.
PDMASP is a four-year
college scholarship offered by DAR to deserving dependents of ARBs
under the Program Beneficiaries Development component of the
Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
“It was only by accident
that I discovered the PDMASP,” Boboy said.
According to him, when he
was in his first year in college at the University of Eastern
Philippines, he applied for the Catarman Educational Scholarship
Program offered by the local government unit so he could continue with
his studies. But he was denied of the said opportunity. Or was it a
blessing in disguise?
When he returned back to
their school, Boboy read an announcement at the bulletin board about a
scholarship program being offered by DAR.
He grabbed the opportunity
and got the slot. Later, he learned that DAR just re-opened its search
to fill-in a vacated slot. Boboy must have been destined to become a
PDMASP scholar to reach his dreams. In 2008, he graduated with a
degree of Bachelor in Elementary Education Major in Social Science.
The third in a brood of nine
(two are now deceased), Boboy is the first to earn a college degree
(the second is sister, Gloria, who was also a PDMASP scholar) in their
family, and one of the handful of professionals in their village,
which is situated in the mountains of Catarman, 27 kilometers away
from the town proper.
He was the only one of the
less than 20 pupils enrolled in grade 1 in 1994 who finished college.
“He was so determined,” his parents said proudly of him.
When I asked why his other
classmates failed to continue their studies, Boboy said, it could
probably be due to lack of motivation. He disclosed that their
teachers rarely report to school then because of the distance. That is
why his parents transferred him to the town proper when he was in
Barangay Quezon is one of
Catarman’s remotest villages. There was no road at that time. People
had to walk 10 kilometers to and from Barangay Polangi by just passing
through a trail. Now, this barangay could already be reached by
motorcycles for P70. Very soon, when concreting of the road is
completed, travel will be much easier and perhaps cheaper.
Boboy, who used to help his
parents in the farm, said determination to escape from poverty pushed
him to strive and find ways to reach his dream.
After graduation he took the
licensure examination for teachers and passed it.
But why did he return to
Barangay Quezon to teach, when there were better opportunities at the
town proper or elsewhere?
Boboy humbly said he wanted
to serve his fellow residents in their community. But to us he
inspires the young and motivates them to take education seriously to
have a better future.
According to Boboy, had he
not taken his studies seriously and without the PDMASP, surely he
would have also remained a farmer until today, carrying heavy loads of
copra and other farm products.
As a teacher, his supervisor
Annie Dulay said, he is a good one, while his pupils described him as
strict when it comes to their lessons.
He taught his students to be
industrious. The once idle surrounding in their school is now planted
to pili nuts and bananas.
Presently, Boboy is planning
to take up masters degree this coming school year.
Looking at him in his
uniform and listening to his story, makes me proud to be part of DAR
which was instrumental in helping this son of ARBs free himself from
the bondage of the soil and find his destiny.