The Inbox
  • Anti-trafficking czar Darlene Pajarito (Photo by Avigail Olarte)

    By Jake Soriano, VERA Files

    Lawyer Darlene Pajarito had her first brush with human trafficking in 2004 as an assistant prosecutor in Zamboanga City. Since then securing justice for victims of the crime has become almost like a mantra to her.

    Initially she only wanted to observe her boss, Zamboanga City Prosecutor Ricardo Cabaron, prosecute a trafficking case and learn from him. “I practically followed the case, until one time he told me, ‘Darlene, you do it. Finish this case,” she recounts. “And of course I had to finish it. It was an order from my boss.”

    In her first case she secured the first conviction of a sex trafficker in the Philippines in 2005, a feat that led to many more.

    After handling a string of cases, the fight against human trafficking became Pajarito’s personal crusade against modern-day slavery. This earned her the honor of being one of 10 global anti-trafficking heroes of the US State Department in 2011.

    The Philippines is a source country, and to a much lesser

    Read More »from Championing trafficking victims
  • Cherie Gil acknowledging audience applause.

    By Pablo A. Tariman, VERA Files

    The recent Manila run of “Full Gallop” featuring Cherie Gil as fashion editor Diana Vreeland has many things going for it

    The stunning set of Joey Mendoza, the apt costumes of Rajo Laurel, the complimentary lighting design of John Batalla and the hair and makeup of Ruben Nazareth instantly brought us to Vreeland’s era – clothes, hair, furniture and all.

    Written by Mary Louise Wilson and Mark Hampton, the one-woman play throbbed with funny, if, poignant scenes from a fashion designer’s life.

    Brilliant doesn’t quite describe Bart Guingona’s razor-sharp direction but it is the word that comes to mind as the play unraveled what could also be a fashion icon’s untold story.

    Guingona was fascinated by Vreeland’s life as early as 13 years ago and offered it to Gil. But she was busy with family life at the time and couldn’t do it. When Gil turned 50 last year, Guingona attended her birthday party with a script of “Full Gallop” and finally got the yes he was

    Read More »from Cherie Gil on the life and times of Diana Vreeland
  • Is it ethical for a journalist to also solicit ads?


    By Ellen T. Tordesillas

    Erwin TulfoHopefully, this latest controversy involving broadcasters in a government corruption case would result in reforms in the media industry.

    A Philippine Daily Inquirer report said three broadcast journalists received payments from National Agribusiness Corp. (Nabcor), an agency under the Department of Agriculture that was used as conduit for the release of Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) money that went into ghost projects.

    The anomalous operations were the handiwork of Janet Napoles in connivance with lawmakers including Senators Juan Ponce-Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, and Bong Revilla.

    Based on the affidavits of former Nabcor officials Rhodora Mendoza and Victor Cacal, Inquirer named Erwin Tulfo of TV5 and Carmelo del Prado Magdurulang of GMA7. A third broadcaster who allegedly got P2 million was not named in the report although the name is being mentioned in the media circle.

    Melo del PradoThe Inquirer report said Erwin was issued a Nabcor check in the amount of

    Read More »from Is it ethical for a journalist to also solicit ads?
  • Andre Paras, James Reid, Yassi Pressman and Nadine Ilustre. From Andoy Ranay's Instagram

    By Pablo A. Tariman, VERA Files

    Film director Andoy Ranay has made highly positive inroads in “When The Love Is Gone” where he handled veteran actors Gabby Concepcion and Alice Dixson in the company of the younger Cristine Reyes and Andi Eigenmann.

    In his latest assignment, “Diary ng Panget,” he teams up with veteran scriptwriter Mel del Rosario with a cast that is relatively new and inexperienced yet full of energy and a bottomless desire to learn the craft.

    Del Rosario is the same writer identified with “Maalaala mo Kaya” and was the same writer behind the earlier blockbuster films, "Dahil May Isang Ikaw" in 1999 and "Pangako … Ikaw Lang" in 2001. She also wrote the period film “Rosario” (directed by Albert Martinez), some editions of “Tanging Ina…” franchise to the Derek Ramsay-Anne Curtis starrer, “A Secret Affair.”

    For their latest film, Ranay and Del Rosario didn’t have to go too far because their main reference is the book, “Diary ng Panget” written by a 20-year old author who

    Read More »from Writing and directing in between two generations
  • By Patrick King Pascual, VERA Files

    Margarita Holmes“Gay people are no different from straight people in terms of their needs.”

    In making this statement celebrated advice columnist Dr. Margarita Go-Singco Holmes said she was not “purposely” advocating for gay rights. She was merely expressing her belief based on research and latest studies on homosexuality.

    Such statement became a recurring message of her widely-read advice column “BodyMind,” published in the Manila Times in 1989. Gay men were among the first readers who wrote to seek her advice.

    “Many letters were from adolescents who were seriously considering suicide because they believed that God would punish them for their ‘abnormality.’ I was furious and wanted to explain the difference between the opinion of some moralists and what current research said about homosexuality,” Holmes said.

    Holmes, a psychologist, was one of the five winners of the first Bahaghari Awards launched by Outrage Magazine, the only LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and

    Read More »from Five media personalities honored as ‘rainbow defenders’
  • Lea Salonga with Il Divo live in Manila. Photo by Lisa Macuja Elizalde.

    By Pablo A. Tariman, VERA Files

    Wednesday night at the Newport Performing Arts Theater at Resort World, Manila’s music lovers heard the pop opera quartet, Il Divo, for the second time around and loving every minute of it.

    The group was apparently conceptualized to appeal to all races and thus the different nationalities of the members of the quartet namely tenor Urs Buhler of Switzerland, baritone Carlos Marin of Spain, pop artist Sebastien Izambard of France and tenor David Miller from the United States.

    The evening’s repertoire consisted of songs from the musical theater starting with “Some Enchanted Evening” from “South Pacific” and ending with “Impossible Dream” from “Man of La Mancha” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from “Carousel.”

    The songs are nothing new but they remain an audience favorite through the years and given new arrangement to showcase the four voices and a guest singer who happens to be Lea Salonga who thrilled with seldom heard high notes in “Music of the Night”

    Read More »from The making of a pop opera quartet
  • LENTE presentation of Project Teacher

    By Melissa Luz Lopez, VERA Files

    Election duties should be open to non- public school teachers and Persons with Disabilities (PWD), poll watchdog The Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE) recommended based on a study it conducted during the 2013 barangay elections.

    In a presentation Wednesday of “Project Teacher,” LENTE said during the October 28, 2013 barangay elections, various election officers actually appointed non-teachers to the Board of Election Tellers (BETs), a three-person team tasked to carry out the voting process in polling precincts nationwide.

    LENTE volunteers monitored the conduct of elections in 20 precincts across the country to compare the performance of BETs made up of teachers with those with a non-teacher volunteer serving as third member. Both groups carried out the voting process properly, the group said.

    “Having non-public school teachers render election service does not affect the outcome of the elections,” said Atty. Ona Caritos, LENTE acting

    Read More »from Include non-public school teachers, PWDs for election duties: poll watchdog

  • Text and video by Neca Reyes, VERA Files

    Officials of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) remembered the Jabidah Massacre by visiting Corregidor Island in Cavite where some 60 young Muslim men were killed 46 years ago.

    ARMM officials also built a Mindanao Garden of Peace in honor of the fallen Muslims, who had been recruited to the Philippine Army and had trained for a secret mission to invade Sabah. The story goes that soldiers killed the recruits when they reportedly refused to fulfill their mission which would have pitted them against fellow Muslims in Sabah.

    “We know about Jabidah Massacre and we know that it happened here in Corregidor but we took that one big step forward in commemorating the Jabidah Massacre by coming over here in Corregidor… to properly keep honor to the martyrs of Jabidah,” said Rep. Turabin Hataman, Anak Mindanao partylist representative.

    On hand to witness the commemoration were 32 of 39 living founders of the Moro National Liberation Front. The

    Read More »from Jabidah massacre remembered
  • Anne Curtis as the new Dyesebel.

    By Pablo A. Tariman, VERA Files

    “Dyesebel” the new teleserye of ABS CBN is off to a good start with a strong message to save the sea and get rid of dynamite fishers.

    The unlikely love affair between a mermaid and a merman finds distinct possibility in the roles portrayed by Dawn Zulueta as the fisherman’s daughter who attracts a prince of the sea played by Albert Martinez.

    As usual, the villain of the teleserye – played by John Regala as the head of a band of dynamite fishers – makes a strong impact with Eula Valdez as Dyangga building up strong motives to take over her husband’s ocean turf. It turns out she had a taste of man’s inhumanity and is determined to get back at her land tormentors by any means possible.

    But how can she go ahead with the prince of the sea falling in love with the fisherman’s daughter? From that union of creatures of the land and sea will emerge the new “Dyesebel” played by Anne Curtis.

    Meanwhile, the grand presscon for the new edition of Mars Ravelo’s

    Read More »from New Dyesebel tackles global warming
  • BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin shoal:Test for MDT


    BRP Sierra MadreBy Ellen T. Tordesillas

    The rising tension at the Ayungin shoal, just 21 nautical miles from Mischief Reef where China has built fortifications, could be a test on the usefulness of the 1951 PH-US Mutual Defense Treaty

    In its statement issued last Friday, the Department of Foreign Affairs said: "The BRP Sierra Madre, a commissioned Philippine Naval Vessel, was placed in Ayungin Shoal in 1999 to serve as a permanent Philippine installation in response to China's illegal occupation of Mischief Reef in 1995. This was prior to the signing of the Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in 2002. The Philippines reiterates that Ayungin Shoal is part of its continental shelf over which the Philippines has sovereign rights and jurisdiction."

    This is the first time that the Philippine government admitted that the 100 meter-long Sierra Madre, a World War II vintage LST that had served the United States as USS Harnett County during the Vietnam War and acquired by the

    Read More »from BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin shoal:Test for MDT


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