The Inbox

  • By Tessa Jamandre,VERA Files


    The Philippines has offered to downgrade its claim on Sabah in exchange for Malaysia’s support for its case against China before the United Nations.

    The quid pro quo was contained in a note verbale the Department of Foreign Affairs handed to a representative of the Malaysian Embassy last week, a week after the visit of Malaysian Defense Minister Dato  Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.

    The note verbale, a copy of which was obtained by VERA Files, referred to the May 6, 2009 joint submission by Malaysia and Vietnam to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) in which Malaysia claimed an extended continental shelf (350 nautical miles from baseline) that was clearly projected from Sabah.

    The Philippines, in an Aug. 4, 2009 note to the U.N. Secretary General, protested the joint submission because it effectively declared Sabah to be a Malaysian territory. 

    The Philippines claims ownership of Sabah, which is at present occupied by

    Read More »from PH offers Sabah to win Malaysia’s support for UN case vs China
  • Loom bands for a cause

    By Ofelia C. Empian, VERA Files

    For Melchora Grace Balacdao-Matias, looming bands began as an activity to merely overcome boredom in her new work environment in Kuwait.

    Little did Matias (Mitz to her friends) know that her loom bands would be of help to some 500 school children in the remote municipality of Bakun in Benguet Province.

    “My husband and I went to one of the shops in Kuwait and I saw these popular loom bands and I decided to try [doing] it, learning from Youtube how to do the designs,”Matias recalled.

    As her loom band collection grew she thought of selling them but then a better idea came to her—-she would use these to build a fund for a cause.

    “It was just in time because my husband told me that we were going back home for his sibling’s wedding,” she added.

    She related that she started the loom bands for a cause project by discussing it with some of her co-workers and posting it on Facebook.

    “When my boss (an Indian national) heard of it, he referred me to the Project

    Read More »from Loom bands for a cause

  • By Ellen T. Tordesillas

    OMG. I almost fell off my chair upon reading the text exchanges between President Aquino and his sister, Kris Aquino posted by journalist Cecil Morella in Facebook.

    Tuesday  afternoon, Kris Aquino posted in her Instagram account (withlovekrisaquino) her text exchanges with the President last Friday just to disprove rumors that PNoy collapsed.

    Kris Aquino’s post: “I still keep hearing the utterly baseless & senseless story about my brother having collapsed Friday night… I am posting our text exchange from March 20, Friday w/ a time stamp of 9:34 PM. If you follow my IG account Thursday after A&A we traveled to Pradera in Lubao, on Friday I posted several pics from our Pampanga taping, on Sunday night on I posted a TRAVEL LOVE entry complete w/ a timeline of our PRADERA EXPERIENCE. Yesterday, today & tomorrow you’ve watched & will still get to watch it on #krisandbimbysummertv on @kristvofficial_ig. Napakalinaw na SUPER OKAY si PNoy nung

    Read More »from What PNoy and Kris Aquino text each other
  • Text and photo by Jake Soriano, VERA Files

    Upi, Maguindanao — Free medicines and half a sack of rice have gone a long way in combatting deadly tuberculosis here.

    Alarmed at the high TB detection rates in Upi, the local government and the rural health center have resorted to rewarding cured patients, as well as those who take their medicines religiously.

    “Once mag-negative, i-certify ng medical technologist, maghingi na kay mayor ng half sack (Patients who have been certified cured of TB receive half a sack of rice from the mayor),” said doctor Carmelo Esberto, Upi’s municipal health officer.

    The reward system has been an effective strategy in persuading those with tuberculosis to take their medication, he added.

    Patients undergoing treatment who visit the health center everyday are given “pastil”, a local delicacy in Maguindanao made of rice topped with chicken flakes and wrapped in banana leaves.

    Mag-inom muna sila ng gamot. Then 30 minutes later, bigyan na sila ng ‘pastil’  (They are

    Read More »from A novel approach against TB in Maguindanao
  • Dancing to a better life

    By Chickie Locsin, VERA Files

    From bleak garbage dumps to glamor-filled  dance  floors, Wilbert Aunzo has come a long way.

    Aunzo was a scavenger and an out –of- school youth  who picked garbage to buy his daily meal of rice and salt .  When he was twelve, he joined a dance camp organized by Edward and Eleanor Hayco and literally danced his way out of poverty and his crime-ridden neighborhood. His dancing prowess qualified him as an athletic scholar, enabled him to graduate high school, become a nine-time national champion, a member of the elite Philippine national team and the grand winner of the World Youth championship in Australia.

    Azuro is just one of the recipients  the  Haycos advocacy of  making  life better through dance.

    The  Haycos were dance enthusiasts who, upon earning their team’s first gold medal in 2001, paid a courtesy call on then- Mayor Tomas Osmena who challenged them: “Medals have no meaning if you don’t share your gift of dance with the barangays.”

    That very same year

    Read More »from Dancing to a better life
    By Ellen T. Tordesillas

    Reading President Aquino’s speech before the 2015 graduates of the Philippine Military Academy last Sunday, I got the impression that he is isolated from the real world outside Malacañang.

    For how does one who has to suffer daily the monstrous Metro Manila traffic and the inefficiency of the MRT accept his painting of the country as a paradise and taking credit for this  “accomplishment”:  “At hindi naman sa pagbubuhat ng bangko, pero ngayon pa lang, masasabi nating higit na maganda ang kalagayan ng bansa kumpara sa ating dinatnan. Nilinis natin ang burukrasya, tinugis ang mga tiwali, pinasigla ang ekonomiya, at nagbukas tayo ng mga bagong pinto ng oportunidad para sa ating mga kababayan. (Not to be self-indulgent, but at this stage, we can truly say that our country’s situation is much better than we found it. We cleaned up the bureaucracy, pursued the corrupt, revitalized the economy, and opened new doors of

    Read More »from Poe to Aquino: Be a leader, tell the truth, say sorry
  • Filipino Special Olympic athletes will be billeted at the Master’s College while being hosted by Santa Clarita.

    Text and photos by Artha Kira Paredes, VERA Files

    Los Angeles, California—Before participating in the nine-day 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games, the 52-member Filipino delegation will be welcomed and celebrated in Santa Clarita City.

    Santa Clarita is among the 100 host towns where Special Olympic athletes will be staying from July 21 to 24. It will sponsor delegations from the Philippines, Malaysia, El Salvador and Faroe Islands. Other Southern Californian cities will also host delegations from other countries.

    The Host Town Program is a three-day event where cities, towns or civic groups and clubs bear all costs of accommodations, training facilities, food, transportation, activities and security of the participating athletes from around the world.

    About 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches from 177 countries are expected to take part in the games to be staged in Los Angeles

    Read More »from Santa Clarita, California to welcome Filipino Special Olympic athletes

    Read More »from Poe to Aquino: Be a leader, tell the truth

  • Text and photos by Elizabeth Lolarga, VERA Files

    Archive photos courtesy of the Manila Symphony Orchestra


    The musicians who heeded the call of conductor Herbert Zipper to join the Manila Symphony Orchestra’s first concert after the Liberation of Manila in 1945 came from different parts of the country that had seen four years of hell.
    Some emerged from the dungeons of imprisonment at Fort Santiago, others from the University of Santo Tomas internment camp. A few arrived in time for the first rehearsals in tattered clothes, unrecognizable from being burnt by the sun and ravaged by hunger—they had been guerrillas. Still there were those who did not show up at all like Ernesto Vallejo, the concertmaster. He and his family were massacred by the enemy in Tanauan, Batangas. Other fighting musicians perished during the long Bataan March.

    Jeffrey Solares, MSO associate conductor and executive director, gets goose bumps on his arms whenever he goes over the orchestra’s archives. These include

    Read More »from MSO  reprise 1945 concert amid war ruins
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    By John Frances C. Fuentes, VERA Files

    Davao City— Wheelchair user Florencio Timkang lost his person with disabilities (PWD) card four years ago. The 67-year-old candle seller outside the San Pedro church here wants to apply for a replacement card.

    He said he wants to avail himself of the discounts PWDs are entitled to once they have a PWD ID. He knows where to go: The second floor of the City Social Services and Development Office (CSSDO) along Rizal Park in Bolton Extension here. The problem is how to get there.

    Because the office is on the second floor, it is not accessible to him and his makeshift wheelchair, and climbing the stairs will require assistance from others. For Timkang, it is too much of a bother.

    The good news for Timkang is eight months ago, Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte signed an order to build a persons with disability affairs office in the city.  

    Executive Order No. 34, signed by Duterte on July 21, 2014, is designed to create an interim Persons with Disability

    Read More »from PWDs awaiting creation of disability office in Davao City


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