Blog Posts by VERA Files

  • Martial law victims file for compensation

    (From left) Human rights victims Felix Dalisay, Henry Cerdenia, Reynaldo Salao and Ruben Viluz show the application form to be used by claimants during a press conference on May 8 at UP Diliman. (Photo by JANE DASAL)

    By Jane Dasal, VERA Files

    The more than 10,000 Marcos-era human rights violations victims (HRVV) and their families may begin applying with the national government for compensation for their sufferings during martial law.

    But those in the provinces will find it hard to do so because the Human Rights Victims Claims Board (HRVCB) created by law to process has not set up satellite offices to accept applications.

    Under the implementing rules and regulations of the Republic Act 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013, victims can apply for compensation from May 12 to Nov.10. Claims filed beyond this period will be rejected.

    However, the filing of applications as of now is limited to the board’s national office at the Institute of Small Scale Industries at the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman in Quezon City.

    Aside from the lack of satellite officesin the provinces, the HRVCB has yet to come up with a scheduleon the deployment of mobile teams.


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  • The man behind a thousand voices

    By Mariah Nicole Santuico, VERA Files

    Voice Master Pocholo GonzalesWhile children his age were busy watching television, this 7-year-old would instead be tuned into the radio.

    There was no TV set in his home in Bataan. So he killed time listening intently to the range of voices, especially of radio news broadcasters and drama talents, coming out of the small box. When he felt he had heard enough, he would do something that would make him extraordinary.

    He successfully imitated the voices.

    Today, at 34, Pocholo Gonzales is acknowledged as the “Voice Master.”

    He is the voice of more than a hundred characters that have become familiar to radio, television, movie, computer game and anime aficionados: Cha cha in “Bubu Cha Cha,” Kuro Chan in “Cyborg Kuro Chan” and Shan Cai’s father in “Meteor Garden.”

    But Gonzales has gone beyond voicing and dubbing characters. In 2005, he formed CreatiVoices Productions, the only Philippine-based online voice-over company, and began teaching Filipinos the art of acting with their

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  • Rosario Licad: A mother’s love goes beyond rave reviews

    Mrs. Rosario B. Licad with famous daughter, Cecile her mother's love goes beyond raves reviews.

    By Pablo A. Tariman, VERA Files

    On her birthday (May 11), Cecile Licad was working for her recital in Portland on May 16, where she has prepared a unique and adventurous program.

    The celebrated pianist's vast interpretative power will see her perform 19th and early 20th century works by American and European composers Mason, Gottschalk, MacDowell, Ornstein, Busoni and Chaminade.

    This program received unanimous acclaim in Germany and Miami and it will hurdle another audience and critic assessment with Portland audiences.

    Miami music critic Richard Yates of the South Florida Classical Review noted that Licad’s “wielding of the overloaded harmonies, the mystical Scriabin-like tonal wanderings, and the overwhelming pathos that pervades the work, was nothing short of virtuosic. She rose to the challenge of the final movement’s jarring montage of former themes in the (Ornstein) sonata.”

    Licad is a mother of 24 year old Otavio who used to act in school plays and had his share of piano

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  • DOH: HIV virus infects 16 Filipinos every day

    HIV on the rise

    By Patrick King Pascual, VERA Files

    Cases of HIV ( human immunodeficiency virus) infection continue to rise in the Philippines.

    Data from Department of Health (DOH) shows that HIV is now infecting 16 Filipinos every day, up from last year’s average of seven new patients daily.

    Latest DOH data showed that 498 new cases were reported in March this year --- the highest recorded in a month since the DOH started tracking HIV cases in the country in 1984.

    Of this number, 380 involved MSMs (men who have sex with men); 54 were contracted because of drug use (through injecting); 63 were OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) who had unprotected sex; and one case of mother-to-child transmission.

    Since January this year, 1,432 HIV cases have been recorded, 146 of which developed into full-blown AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) and 434 resulted in death.

    The DOH said the most prevalent areas in the Philippines where new HIV cases were reported were the National Capital Region, Central

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  • Jean Gonzales: Magiting’s mother, ‘magiting’ mother

    Jean Gonzales speaks before journalists about her experiences as a mother to a person with disability. File photo by MARIO IGNACIO IV/VERA Files

    By Darlene Cay, VERA Files

    For persons with disabilities (PWDs) and their parents, 67-year-old Jean Gonzales is one mother whose dedication not only to her son but also other children with disabilities is unsurpassed.

    Gonzales has without fail been helping families cope with disabilities for more than a decade through the Philippine Association of Citizens with Developmental and Learning Disabilities (PACDLD), an NGO she co-founded after successfully helping her own son Magiting, now 36, a man with autism.

    Her story started in the late ‘70s, when she was a young wife taking care of her daughter and three sons. She and her husband Octavio noticed something different with Magiting, their second child.

    Then 2, Magiting was fond of lining up his toy cars in a straight row. He was impatient and preferred to be left alone. Also, he did not always respond when his name was being called.

    At a loss on how to deal with Magiting’s behavior, the couple brought their child to a pediatric

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  • Dennis Calvan, executive director of the Non-government Organization for Fisheries Reform (NFR). Photo by Kiersnerr Gerwin Tacadena/VERA Files

    By Kiersnerr Gerwin Tacadena, VERA Files

    Six months after Typhoon Yolanda displaced them from their homes on the shores of Sicogon Island in Iloilo province, residents there are being pushed away yet again, this time by big business.

    Leaders of a nongovernment organization said real estate giant Ayala Corporation is working in partnership with the Sicogon Investors Development Corporation (SIDECO) to develop the coast of Sicogon Island for tourism.

    Dennis Calvan, executive director of the Non-government Organization for Fisheries Reform (NFR), said Ayala and SIDECO are violating the Philippine Fisheries Code by offering the fisher folk a resettlement area in Carles town, a public forest area deep in the island.

    Section 108 of the Philippine Fisheries Code says the establishment of fisher folk settlement areas should be near the fishing grounds where people get their livelihood, Calvan said.

    In a forum organized by the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, Calvan said the local

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  • (From left) News anchor Kathy San Gabriel, ACF Director Javad Amoozegar, EU Ambassador Guy Ledoux, ECHO Head David Sevcik, PLAN Director Carin van der Hor an

    By April Anne Benjamin, VERA Files

    The Aquino government, which is being criticized for the slow pace of rehabilitation of typhoon Yolanda-hit areas in the Visayas, has found defenders in international humanitarian organizations.

    At the opening of the Haiyan (the international name of Yolanda) exhibit at the AIM Conference Center 180 days after the super typhoon hit the Philippines, Javad Amoozegar, Philippine Director for the Action Against Hunger - ACF International and one of the panelists in a press conference of European Union partner agencies, said that they have seen so many delays on the ground but they have also seen how the Philippine government “worked hard to ensure that the needs of the communities are met at the immediate possible time.”

    It was unfair to criticize the rather “slow-paced” rehabilitation of the Yolanda-stricken places, said Amoozegar whose organization works towards the goal of ending world hunger.

    Yolanda ravaged Central Philippines, particularly Leyte

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  • Post-Yolanda Visayas no place for mamas

    Women seeking aid in Guian, Eastern Samar, one of the areas most affected by Typhoon Yolanda. (File photo by MARIO IGNACIO IV)

    By Jane Dasal, VERA Files

    The devastation wrought by supertyphoon “Yolanda” and the slow pace of rehabilitation have made the Visayas a difficult place to be a mother.

    The mothers' lack of access to basic services pulled down the Philippines ranking in the 2014 State of the World's Mother index (SOWM), which was launched in Manila on Tuesday.

    The Philippines' ranking dropped a notch to 105th out of 178 countries surveyed. This makes the Philippines the fifth worst country for mothers in Southeast Asia, much lower in rank compared to Singapore (15th), Malaysia (68th), Thailand (72nd) and Vietnam (93rd).

    The slip in the ranking from 106th in 2013 also means the Philippines is now ahead of just 41 percent from other countries on the list, from 44 percent previously. Among the best countries for mothers are Finland, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and the Netherlands.

    “In Eastern and Western Samar and Eastern Leyte, only 7 percent of health facilities were able to provide a clean and safe

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  • By Kiersnerr Gerwin Tacadena, VERA Files

    After typhoon Yolanda struck the Philippines last November, Jimmy Gagarino found himself, his wife and nine children living under a makeshift shelter with a tarpaulin for a roof.

    Gagarino, a fisherman from Eastern Samar, is one of 16 million people whose houses were destroyed by Typhoon Yolanda. Known internationally as Haiyan, the typhoon damaged 1.14 million houses in the Visayas region, the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) said.

    “My house is now just an empty square with no roof and walls,” Gagarino said. “We cannot live like this for too long as there could be another storm.”

    Gagarino’s woes may soon be over, with the PRC planning to build 6,000 “storm-resilient” shelters for typhoon victims by the end of 2014.

    In a press conference as part of Red Cross Day last Monday, PRC Secretary General Gwendolyn Pang said the project is the main focus of Red Cross’ three-year recovery road map in helping rehabilitate the typhoon-ravaged parts in the Visayas.

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  • NCCA chair Felipe Padilla de Leon with Albay Governor Joey Salceda.

    By Pablo A. Tariman, VERA Files

    The fate of historic El Hogar Building in Binondo, the few remaining months of Philamlife Theater, the nomination of Cagsawa Ruins in the UNESCO heritage list are just some of heritage subjects that come to mind as the country observes National Heritage Month with assorted programs all over the country.

    Facing eminent demolition is the El Hogar Building built in 1914 and certainly one of the eminent financial buildings that symbolized architectural beauty during its time. Conservation experts noted that the building was conceptualized by one Antonio Melian and was built as a wedding gift for the union of a Zobel daughter and a Peruvian count. It is described as a “beautiful beaux-arts building” and “having combined some Romanesque features”

    Also endangered of being erased from Manila’s cultural map is the 780-seater Philamlife Theater sold last year to SM Development Corporation. Theater was built by Bolt, Beranek & Newman, which also did the acoustics

    Read More »from Albay’s heritage saving efforts highlight observance of Heritage Month


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