The Inbox
  • Children from the World Vision-Child Friendly Space of Brgy.Botongon, Estancia, Iloilo show their drawings.

    By Xanthe Kamille Almonguera and Hazel P. Villa, VERA Files

    Photos by Xanthe Kamille Almonguera

    Where two months ago, children cowered in fear as typhoon Yolanda battered the fishing town of Estancia in the province of Iloilo, nowadays one hears singing and laughter.

    World Vision has set up Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) in Estancia, about 132 kilometers from Iloilo City, for children ages 6 to 17 displaced and traumatized by typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan).

    “Our ultimate goal for the Child-Friendly Space is to make children happy and suit their best interests as children, making them feel safe and secure despite the upset of super typhoon ‘Haiyan’,” says Felinor “Naira” Villa, education officer of World Vision’s Child Labor Project.

    Four of Estancia’s 25 villages are included in the three-month program which was launched last Nov. 18 at the Sta. Teresa Prayer Center and Retreat House at Jaro, Iloilo City. Around 600 children, grouped by age, are accommodated in each

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  • By Yolanda L. Punzalan, VERA Files

    If one has to be marooned on an island, it is his great fortune if it happens to be in Balesin.

    The stranded would not only be surrounded by nature’s beauty but also man’s magnificent creations.

    Situated in the municipality of Polillio, Quezon Province, it is the landmass between the deep green Pacific Ocean and the fish-wealthy Lamon Bay. Owned and managed by Roberto Ongpin’s Alphaland Corporation, the 424-hectare the island used to be owned by property businessman and pilot Edgardo Tordesillas, formerly vice-chairman of the Board of Investments in the 70s.

    Alphaland transformed the verdant isle into seven international tourist havens, each beckoning the privileged members and guests of this time-sharing club to supremely furnished stately manors and beach houses, replicating the playgrounds of cosmopolitan tourists: St. Tropez (France), Mykonos (Greece), Costa del Sol (Spain), Bali (Indonesa). Phuket (Thailand) and the Balesin Village. Sardinia of

    Read More »from The grandeur that is Balesin
  • Burnout


    Aquino with Miriam College Highschool students

    By Ellen Tordesillas

    President  Aquino told an impressionable bunch of students from Miriam College that he will not be putting on more pressure on his cabinet members concerned that they would suffer burn out.

    This is what he said last Tuesday:

    “The Cabinet is very hardworking, they’re very dedicated. You can’t ask anything more of them and perhaps I should learn to give them a little bit more breathing room. Baka naman ma-burn out lahat itong mga kasamahan natin sa gobyerno who actually do everything out of love of country. “

    Burnout?  gives a good definition of burnout: “A state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest or motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place.”

    Articles on burnout do not cover whether the person in danger of burnout  is competent or has

    Read More »from Burnout
  • MVP’s intriguing Christmas Party remark about Secretary del Rosario


    A happy President Aquino and Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario

    By Ellen Tordesillas

    At the Christmas Party of Metro Pacific Investment Corporation last month at J.W. Marriott Hotel in Hongkong, the company’s chairman, Manuel V. Pangilinan (MVP) made special mention of Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario saying, “he will soon be rejoining us in the private sector.”

    MVP’s remark intrigued other guests who asked each other, “Why, is he resigning?”

    (Del Rosario’s statement on this article released in Malacañang: “In my talks with my trusted friend Manny Pangilinan, in December, he is fully supportive of my decision to continue in public service for as long as the President wishes for me to do so.”)

    Actually, del Rosario had resigned twice in his almost three years as foreign secretary. (He served as ambassador to the United States during the time of Gloria Arroyo.) The first was in June 2012 after the standoff with China at Scarborough Shoal (also known as Bajo de Masinloc or Panatag shoal) which brought into the picture, much to the

    Read More »from MVP’s intriguing Christmas Party remark about Secretary del Rosario
  • Prima Galaw, one of Iloilo City’s premiere theater groups, performs at Calle RealPhoto by Jonathan Japitana

    By Julie Ann Mae B. Silvederio and Hazel P. Villa, VERA Files

    Photos by Jonathan Japitana and JP Sarsoza

    Iloilo City – Imagine a major city closing off its busiest downtown streets on a late Saturday afternoon till evening so that an orchestra can perform, photographers can hold a photo exhibit, poets can do open mike readings, book lovers can read as acoustic bands, solo performers and dance groups do their own thing.

    Imagine early Sunday morning in a carless street where people jog and do physical fitness activities, followed by henna tattoo live sketching, with an open reading space available for anyone who would like to temporarily free himself from the consuming world of social networking. Come late afternoon, a street fashion show with elegant designs unfolds --- adding to the boulevard’s classic ambiance while cosplayers, fire and carnival dancers suffuse the streets with a festal vibe.

    That is not a figment of one’s imagination.

    Iloilo City Councilor Jason Gonzales initiated

    Read More »from Calle Real without cars
  • De Leon setting up her work entitled Malakas

    By Elizabeth Lolarga, VERA Files

    Photos courtesy of Reyme V. Faurillo Jr. and Joan Geli Doronila

    Barely seven years have passed since Sinag de Leon began exhibiting her paper-cut art. But already she has had 10 solo show and joined just as many group exhibits. Integrated in her shows are skills sharing and training workshops.

    Her day job is with the University of the Philippines Diliman Office for Initiatives in Culture and the Arts under the UP Diliman Chancellor’s office. At nearby Likha Diwa Vegetarian and Seafood Café hangs de Leon’s 10th solo exhibit, “Paper Rainbows.”

    More of her paper cuts are included in the group show “Paglikha at Pagsulong” at the new UP Integrated School’s administration building. Her co-exhibitors and fellow UPIS alumni there are Jemil Araos, Roberto Corbin, Matthew Doronila, Ulysses Imbang and Raul Roco Jr.

    De Leon started exhibiting her paper cuts in 2007. The year 2010 was when she had her first solo show. She was elated with the response, saying, “I

    Read More »from Sinag de Leon’s delight in paper rainbows
  • Aquino for Binay for president in 2016?

    Aquino and Binay Cagayan de Oro March 23, 2011By Ellen Tordesillas

    There's a compelling reason for President Aquino to make sure that that he would be able to influence the people’s choice of his successor otherwise he would suffer the same fate that befell the two presidents before him.

    His predecessor, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, is in jail – hospital arrest, actually- facing plunder and electoral sabotage charges.

    Arroyo’s predecessor, Joseph Estrada, spent six years in detention- much of it under house arrest - for plunder. Convicted, he was later pardoned. He nearly made a comeback as president in 2010, placing second to Aquino. He is now mayor of the city of Manila.

    Surely, Aquino knows that in his position, it’s not a matter of good intentions as his “Tuwid na Daan” slogan trumpets. As president, he makes decisions, sometimes resorting to legal brinkmanship. Example is the Disbursement Acceleration Program, the legality of which is being questioned in the Supreme Court.

    During his incumbency, a president is immune from suits

    Read More »from Aquino for Binay for president in 2016?
  • A father lulls his child to sleep.

    By Mitch Menez, VERA Files

    Photos by Little Wing Luna

    There is an inside joke amongst volunteer workers in Tacloban that one must wear long pants, rub one’s body with Off lotion and sleep inside the mosquito net. If not, you will be flown by those blood-sucking flies in mosquito land.

    The swarm of mosquitoes in refugee centers are that dense. It’s a nightmare.

    Almost two months after Yolanda struck, Tacloban is still in a state of disrepair. The airport itself is a tangle of twisted metal and upturned earth and was only recently fully cleared of debris for the use of commercial airlines.

    Survival living in Tacloban City proper.Water is still not easily available to everybody. Water container in varying sizes and colors line several blocks.

    Electricity is in a state of disrepair. Toppled electric posts are still on the road.

    People light bonfires and candles in the evening. But it’s dangerous as most of the makeshift shelter are made out of tarp and cardboard. Fortunate are the ones who were able to get tents from the United

    Read More »from Refugee life in Tacloban: the abnormal becomes normal
  • kadre

    By Desiree Caluza, VERA Files

    Somewhere in the Cordillera--Here in the Cordillera in northern Luzon, Philippines, cicadas, birds, dragonflies and butterflies are the usual companions of young revolutionaries who call the hills their home.

    In one makeshift kitchen made of bamboo and plastic mats, young revolutionaries (aged 18 to 31), sip brewed coffee as they watch one of their colleagues cook supper on the crackling fire on the dalikan (a stove composed of three stones). The menu for the night is boiled rice and binongor (a native dish which is cooked by boiling bamboo shoots, shells, banana heart, string beans and hot chili, or siling labuyo, and salt).

    In the guerrilla zone of the Lejo Cawilan Command (LCC) of the New People’s Army (NPA) operating in Kalinga, there is no deafening sound of exchange of gunshots with the government soldiers on an ordinary day; only the sound of Ka Rodney’s “kulitong” (bamboo guitar) . On such a peaceful day, Ka Rodney usually plays his favorite

    Read More »from Young revolutionaries share snippets of life in the hills
  • An agricultural area, most houses in Talustusan were built under the trees.

    Text and photos by Daniel Abunales, VERA Files

    Naval, Biliran – Every year, residents from Talustusan, a community 20 minutes away from this town, gather on Christmas eve at their community center to welcome the birth of Christ.

    It was no different even after typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) hit the province over a month ago, but a sudden decrease in attendance was obvious in what used to be a jam-packed venue.

    With a small generator lighting up the community center, residents from its seven different zones celebrated with a feast: They brought rice cakes like biko and suman, and other delicacies and shared them with other residents.

    Others brought menudo and native chicken adobo to complement root crops like camote and cassava. Pancit was also common in all tables.

    Residents of Brgy Talustusan celebrate Christmas.

    Barangay Talustusan chief Arturo Saclolo said in his speech that there was no reason to suspend the Christmas party even after Yolanda.

    “Although there were houses that were damaged, we have no casualty, and

    Read More »from Counting blessings despite Yolanda’s destruction


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