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  • What PH should take note of in Obama’s foreign policy speech


    Obama spells out his foreign policy

    By Ellen T. Tordesillas

    “Just because we have the best hammer does not mean that every problem is a nail.”

    “And I would betray my duty to you and to the country we love if I ever sent you into harm’s way simply because I saw a problem somewhere in the world that needed to be fixed, or because I was worried about critics who think military intervention is the only way for America to avoid looking weak. “

    Those statements in President Barack Obama’s Foreign Policy speech at the commencement ceremony of the United States Military Academy last week should tell current Philippine leaders to rethink of their U.S-dependent foreign policy because America will not risk the lives of their soldiers to fight for a war that will put their national interest in jeopardy.

    Here’s another part of his speech worth noting by those who look up to the Americans as savior from China’s aggressive actions in the South China Sea:

    “First, let me repeat a principle I put forward at the outset of my

    Read More »from What PH should take note of in Obama’s foreign policy speech
  • Kumquats, Anemones and Figs

    Text and photos by Elizabeth Lolarga, VERA Files

    Corazon Gaufo Patarata could have risen to the rank of ambassador extraordinary or retired with a similar magisterial title in recognition of her skills, hard work, sacrifice, her having imbibed what true public service meant.

    She retired at age 49 in 2006 as minister counsellor, the second highest rank after ambassador. At that point, after postings in Washington DC, Beijing, Bonn, Berlin, Stockholm and Vancouver, she felt that she already had “a full life.”

    “ If you add up my working hours, overtime, lost weekends, I had worked more than those who had been working all their lives and were waiting to retire at sixty five,” she rues.

    It was time to live her dream of painting and writing, of letting her imagination loose. At her exhibit at Trattoria Poggio Antico Restaurant in Mckinley Hills, Bonifacio Global City, Patarata renders in spring colors and in a charming naïf style her “Mediterranean Sojourn.”

    A Baguio girl, she remembers how

    Read More »from A former diplomat’s sojourn into painting
  • 1-story school buildingBy Yvonne T. Chua, VERA Files

    The more than 30,000 classrooms the national government is building this schoolyear will look hardly any different from those constructed in recent years, especially to the untrained eye.

    But the classrooms of 2014 and thereafter will be different. They will sport a new design the Department of Education says can withstand deadly earthquakes and storm winds of up to 250 kph, more ferocious than those unleashed by supertyphoon “Yolanda” in November.

    The shift to calamity-resilient school buildings entails structural changes. These, though, will not be visible when construction is done, and thus pose a challenge to school communities, civil society monitors and state agencies like DepEd and the Department of Public Works and Highways that implement the government’s school building program: How to make sure that contractors follow the specs to the last detail.

    “(T)hese improvements will be meaningless if we cannot implement (or) execute the design as

    Read More »from DepEd rolls out calamity-resilient classrooms
  • Sta Ana Manila Hospital staff and HIV prevention advocates light candles in memory of those who died of AIDS.

    By Diana G. Mendoza, VERA Files

    Dolzura. Esther. Kathy. Sarah Jane. The country’s first reported case of AIDS in 1984 was an unidentified male, but by this list of names alone, it was the females who gave a public face to HIV and AIDS in the Philippines.

    The first wave of HIV infections recorded in the country was among female sex workers around the former US military bases. A combined medical research team of the US naval forces and the Philippine Department of Health (DOH) found HIV-infected blood when they were investigating Hepatitis B infections among female sex workers in the US bases at the time.

    That was in 1986 and it was then that the DOH officially identified AIDS as a notifiable disease, joining the roster of known illnesses that threaten public health. Doctors treating patients with notifiable diseases are required to report the cases to authorities.

    The close association of HIV with sex work and females in prostitution was such that HIV bore a woman’s face in the late

    Read More »from Women with HIV: The silent casualties
  • By Cooper Resabal, VERA Files

    Maribojoc, Bohol--A community-based tourism program has become a rehabilitation alternative for a village that was severely damaged by the October 15, 2013 earthquake in the tourist island of Bohol in the central Philippines.

    Barely six months after the 7.2 intensity tremor that damaged many structures, including houses and century-old heritage churches in the island province, volunteer tourism is helping revive barangay Toril, a village of 115 households in this fourth class town.

    Toril is the site of the Bol-anon Village Cultural and Nature Trails (BVCNT), a rehabilitation program which invites volunteer tourists to help build shelters and also to experience the community’s unique cultural practices and natural heritage sites.

    The program provides a variety of activities for volunteers to the Work Camp for Shelter in Bohol and ensures continuation of rehabilitation after the activity, says Isabelita Moncano, Maribojoc Rehabilitation Shelter Officer. It

    Read More »from Volunteer tourism revives earthquake-hit village in Bohol
  • Text and photos by  Cherry Joy Veniles, VERA Files

    Rains have started to come, signaling the end of summer, but that didn’t stop the holding of the Santacruzans as culminating event of Flores de Mayo.

    Sagat, in the working class district of Paco, Manila, was vibrant last Sunday with the holding of the annual Santacruzan.

    Flores de Mayo or SantaCruzan is considered the merriest and most colorful of Philippine festivals. Practiced by both the Catholic and Aglipayan churches in the Philippines, it’s in honor of Helena of Constantinople (now Istanbul in Turkey), mother of Constantine the Great, the Roman Emperor in from 306 to 337 for finding the cross where Jesus Christ was crucified in Jerusalem.

    Held annually in the warm month of May, the Santacruzan is preceded by nine day novena and flower offerings to the Virgin Mary with the supplication for rains in order that farmers can start planting rice.

    Sagala photo

    Every town, barrio and the busy streets of the metropolis takes a fiesta atmosphere with

    Read More »from Paco Santacruzan
  • Atty. Bernabe (right) during one of her lectures

    By Ofelia C. Empian, VERA Files

    Baguio City—Her city is not among the known human trafficking hotspots in the country yet the cause has found a champion in Regional Trial Court prosecutor Ruth Bernabe.

    “Human trafficking is modern slavery though it is not talked about much in our institutions, even in the media and no in-depth discussions on it,” Bernabe told VERA Files.

    She said taking up the cause of abused women and children as a trial prosecutor of the Regional Family Trial Court of Baguio City for the past 10 years has shaped and deeply affected her advocacy.

    Bernabe conducts an average of 50 lectures a year, speaking in various venues around the country to get one important message out—stop human trafficking. She does this while performing her duties as an Assistant City Prosecutor in Baguio City.

    Her lectures focus on the laws surrounding human trafficking that include Republic Act 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, a law that which turned 11 last May 26. She

    Read More »from Stopping modern slavery one lecture at a time
  • By Regine Chin-Gochuico, VERA Files

    Rochelle PondarePlaridel, Bulacan—She watches primetime soaps and gushes over pop artists. Her voice rises a pitch higher when she talks about her crushes and handsome men. She has fallen in love and has had her heart broken.

    Sounds like a typical teenager. Except she’s not.

    Anna Rochelle Orellianes Pondare, who turns 17 this Friday (May 30), in fact, has the look of a 60-year-old woman and the size of a 5-year-old girl. Her skin is wrinkled from face to feet. The muscles on her arms and thighs have shrunk. She has lost all her hair and can never grow it back.

    Pondare has progeria, a rare genetic disorder that causes premature aging. She is one of the handful of known cases of progeria in the Philippines.

    Those born with progeria,or Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome, typically live up to their mid-teens to early twenties. According to the U.S.-based Progeria Research Foundation, only 80 cases of progeria are well-documented in the world.

    Pondare’s mother, a

    Read More »from Pinay with progeria marks another year, defies limits
  • Special elections registration for PWDs and Senior Citizens in Manila

    MANILABy Ellen T. Tordesillas

    On Sunday, June 1, the Commission on Elections will be holding a satellite registration for persons with disabilities (PWDs) and senior citizens of Manila to be held at the Central Section of Rizal Park, the registration will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    This is not only for voters registration. For those who have registered, they may also validate or update their registration.

    Voters are to bring at least one valid ID.

    This activity is an implementation of the 2013 Republic Act 10366 authorizing the Comelec to establish precincts assigned to accessible polling places exclusively for persons with disabilities and senior citizens based on the state policy ensuring “that persons with disabilities and senior citizens are able to exercise their right to political participation without discrimination or restrictions. “

    The law states that “ the State shall design systems and procedures that will enable persons with disabilities and senior citizens to register and vote by

    Read More »from Special elections registration for PWDs and Senior Citizens in Manila
  • By Jane Dasal, VERA Files

    Unlike big cities such as Davao, Manila and Quezon City, Antipolo City has yet to enact an anti-human trafficking ordinance mandated by Republic Act 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003.

    The city government, however, is set to adopt a policy that would reward P100,000 for tips leading to the successful apprehension of traffickers and shutdown of human trafficking operations.

    Active engagement of local governments is a key to combating human trafficking, Mariano Gabito, a Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) official said in a recent seminar against human trafficking organized by the Antipolo city government.

    “The national government alone cannot be expected to enforce the laws on anti-human trafficking. The local government units (must) ensure that the law is thoroughly implemented and effective in their communities,” Gabito, the DILG's Bureau of Local Government Supervision (BLGS) assistant director, said.

    RA 9208 mandates LGUs to

    Read More »from Antipolo steps up efforts against human trafficking


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