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    By Chickie R. Locsin, VERA Files

    Four years ago, mothers were dying in the Philippines at the rate of 221 per 100,000 live births.

    Given that maternal mortality is a barometer of a country’s health system, those are disturbing numbers. The situation has improved and it is expected that by this year, the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) would only be 52  per 100,000 live births..

    One group working on reducing the country’s MMR is the Zuellig Family Foundation (ZFF), whose basic mission is to enhance the quality of life of the Filipino.

    ZFF President Ernesto Garilao:“Most of the mothers who die during childbirth at home and at public hospitals are poor. If ZFF is to be true to its mission, it must address this inequality.

    To better achieve that broad objective, ZFF decided to focus on targets in the country’s Millennium Development Goals for health in partnership with government and other stakeholders in the health sector

    Zuellig observed that the incidence of maternal deaths is highest in

    Read More »from Zuellig foundation taps mayor power to improve rural healthcare system
  • By Reynard Magtoto, VERAFiles

    “I make movies because I have a story to tell and I have a story to share,” multi-awarded filmmaker Brillante Mendoza declared.

    Mendoza’s four-part documentary series, titled “Small Acts, Big Stories,” was inspired by the stories of ordinary people who wanted to make a difference through their extraordinary acts.

    His documentary (docu) series, screened recently at SM Naga, began when Solar News Channel launched its “One Small Act Campaign” through a photo contest in June 2012 in time for the country’s 114th Independence Day. The event gathered hundreds of photo entries, which told inspirational stories of ordinary Filipinos making a difference through their small acts.

    To help awaken the spirit of nationalism in every Filipino, Mendoza explored the bigger stories presenting the real life scenes of the people behind the photo entries. He was not after the quality of the photographs but the interesting stories behind them.

    For example, Mendoza chose a photograph

    Read More »from Brillante Mendoza puts spotlight on small acts that mean big
  • Let him finish his term


    By Ellen T. Tordesillas

    I hold President Aquino accountable for the death of 44 Special Action Force commandos but I don’t want him forced to shorten his term which is due to end on June 30 next year.


    I’m not joining calls for him to resign. I’m against a coup de’etat.

    I want him to finish his mandate which the Filipino electorate bestowed on him when they elected him five years ago.

    But he should shape up and take seriously his responsibilities as President.

    He owes it to the Filipino people even to those who didn’t vote for him.

    There are calls for Aquino’s resignation following the death of 44 SAF commandos last Jan. 25 who were in a mission to arrest two international terrorists in Mamasapano, Maguindanao controlled by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and its breakaway group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

    Aquino’s mishandling of the debacle (keeping silent in the first four days and not showing up for the arrival honors at Villamor Air Base for the 44 – he was at a

    Read More »from Let him finish his term

  • Commentary

    By Ellen T. Tordesillas


    Wearing black arm bands emblazoned with “44”, of the international hip-hop group Black Eyed Peas and one of the judges of The Voice PH, led the performance of one the group’s hits, “Where is the Love?” in last Sunday’s episode of the singing competition.

    The lyrics were sharply apt: “Overseas, yeah, we try to stop terrorism/But we still got terrorists here livin’….
    “Madness is what you demonstrate/And that’s exactly how anger works and operates/…
    “Father, Father, Father help us/Send some guidance from above/’Cause people got me, got me questionin’/Where is the love (Love)…“Makin’ wrong decisions, only visions of them dividends/Not respectin’ each other, deny thy brother/
    A war is goin’ on but the reason’s undercover…
    “The truth is kept secret, it’s swept under the rug/If you never know truth then you never know love/
    Where’s the love, y’all, come on (I don’t know)”

    Click here to view performance:

    Read More »from Celebrities show conscience and heart for the 44 SAF heroes
  • Commentary

    By Ellen T. Tordesillas


    Police Inspector Joey Sacristan Gamutan, 33, of the elite Special Action Force, was a fan of the San Miguel Beermen.

    He won a bet in the championship game for 2015 Philippine Cup title between the San Miguel Beermen and Alaska Aces last Jan. 21. He was so happy he told his wife, Merilyn, that he will treat her and their five-year old daughter Megan (they have a one year old child) to Jollibee when he comes home after the very important operation he is part of is accomplished.

    It would be a triple celebration aside from his favorite PBA team’s victory: Jan. 26 is the birthday of Megan and Jan. 24 is their 6th wedding anniversary.

    Joey never made it for the celebration he promised Merilyn and Megan.

    On Jan. 25, he was part of the select group who went into Tukanalipao village in Mamasapano, Maguindanao to capture Malaysian bomb maker Zulkifli bin Hir alias ”Marwan” and Basit Usman, a bomb-making expert, high up in the terrorists list of the United States

    Read More »from PBA star Arwind Santos condoles with family of SAF fan
  • By Jake Soriano, VERA Files

    Citing the persistence of media and other extrajudicial killings, torture and enforced disappearances, an international watchdog scored the Aquino administration for its poor human rights record in 2014 and its lack of political will in addressing abuses committed by government security forces.

    “With less than two years left in office, the administration of President Benigno Aquino III continues to send mixed signals about its commitment to improve human rights in the Philippines,” noted Human Rights Watch in its World Report 2015 released this week.

    “While human rights was a key agenda for Aquino when he took office in 2010, he has failed to make good on many of his commitments, chiefly his expressed intent to end killings of activists and journalists and bring those responsible to justice.”

    The latest World Report of the global non-government organization reviewed human rights conditions in more than 90 countries and territories in 2014.

    The section on the

    Read More »from Aquino fails to end killings of journalists, activists – report
  • Forty four souls died because of a simple miscommunication. Forty four families mourn the death of a loved one because of a ‘misencounter.’

    This was what they tried to make us believe. They wanted us to calm down, stop passing blame, and wait for the results of an official investigation. They want us to help the families of the massacre victims; families that would still be complete right now if not for miscommunications causing a ‘misencounter.’

    I was angry. I’m sure you were too. I was angry with the people who killed the Fallen 44. I was angry with the people who sent them there in the first place. I felt I had to express my anger so I went all snarky on Twitter.

    Anger was all that was in my head and tweeting about it was all I was going to do until I saw a collage of the faces of the Fallen 44.

    I looked at them one by one. I was expecting to see faces hardened by battle; expecting to see eyes dead inside because of the horrors they had to endure and the evil they had to see.

    I saw the

    Read More »from Fallen 44: The death of the best of us
  • The nation mourns


    By Ellen T. Tordesillas

    It took him four days to say something about the worst tragedy in the history of the country’s police force and when the bodies of the fallen police officers arrived at Villamor Air Base yesterday, President Aquino was at Mitsubishi plant Sta Rosa, Laguna inspecting and enjoying the classic cars on display.


    What kind of a leader do we have?

    Social media was raging over Aquino’s callousness.

    Movie director Joey Reyes posted on Twitter: “My God! And YOU chose to be at an inauguration of an auto plant than to meet the bodies of our boys who died fulfilling their duties?!”

    Others were at a loss for words.


    Joe Bacero could only say “Lilintian!” Visayans know the rage in this expression. No English translation can capture it.

    Ysabel Canlas didn’t mince words: “With all due respect Mr. President, isa po kayong gago at kalahati.

    The gentle Yolanda L.Punsalan was so ashamed of the President’s no-show at Villamor Air Base: “I want to be an ostrich now.”

    Worse, Malacañang

    Read More »from The nation mourns
  • Commentary

    By Ellen T. Tordesillas


    Forty-four members of the Special Action Force, the elite group of the Philippine National Police, were killed by the rebel Muslim group the Aquino government has signed a peace agreement with. Yet, social media denizens are in an impassioned discussion over Philippine Miss Universe pageant candidate MJ Lastimosa’s “cake gown.”

    Last Monday, Direk Joey Reyes  posted this in his Facebook wall: “Dear Janet, Now you can be at ease. There is another woman more hated than you in the Philippines.Take care.”

    Janet, of course, is Janet Napoles, the pork barrel queen through whom senators and congressmen robbed billions of the people’s money.

    Thinking it was Social Services Secretary Dinky Soliman, who rounded up almost 500 destitute families in Pasay and Manila and brought them away from the sight of Pope Francis and the foreign press during the Papal visit two weeks ago, I commented, “Korek, Direk.”

    Reading the other comments, I realized the subject of the

    Read More »from Confronted with brutal realities, what do Filipinos do?
  • By Jake Soriano, VERA Files 

    Following complaints, budget carrier Cebu Pacific now aims to be more sensitive to the needs of passengers with disabilities.

    At the company’s request, National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) Acting Executive Director Carmen Zubiagalast week led in the orientation of flight cabin staff and reservation officers of the airline.

    “Discussed during the seminar workshops were international treaties and commitments of the Philippines, disability laws and common perspectives on disability,” said Zubiaga.

    “Thehighlightof the activity weresharings and lectures by persons with different types of disabilities on how they should be treated as customers and the assistance they need to avoid inconvenience during travel.”

    Some 25 supervisors from different Cebu Pacific departments such as flight services and ticketing attended the training.

    The airline made the request for a disability awareness and sensitivity seminar in preparation for their international flights to

    Read More »from Cebu Pac seeks training on handling PWD passengers


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