Issues of the day


Three weeks ago, nearly 300 girls were taken from their beds at their boarding school in Nigeria. Terrorist group Boko Haram has admitted responsibility for the abduction and threatened to sell them as brides. Though some girls managed to escape, over 200 are still missing.

Actress Stella Damasus explains the issue, and issues a challenge to her government and world leaders: #BringBackOurGirls

Why haven’t we heard too much about this story? Why isn’t there a huge outrage about it? This is terrorism at its worst form. The girls represent the future of Nigeria, they must be protected. They must be brought home.

In countries like Nigeria, just as in the Philippines, education of girls is the key to a better future. Even in these modern times, not everybody agrees that girls deserve to be in school. This abduction manifests that. If Boko Haram gets away with this act of terrorism, how many more families in Chibok will send their girls to school?

Check this out for more information about the conflict in Nigeria: BuzzFeed.


Girls belong to school. They deserve a childhood. Uphold the rights of the girl child!

McKenna Pope–Child Activist: Haters Gonna Hate

I feel so proud of this young lady, though I don’t know her and I never even heard of her cause until seeing this video early morning on Sunday. She sends a powerful message though – that we have it in all of us to effect change. When we make a stand–specially on a potentially controversial issue-it’s inevitable that not everyone will agree with us, but so what? Take a stand anyway.

Haters will hate.

So what did she campaign about? She had a younger brother who was really interested in cooking and so the family thought it would be great to give him an Easy Bake Oven. Now we don’t have those locally, so not everyone may know what it is, but I believe it’s a toy that allows kids to actually bake something. I would have loved one as a kid!


Photo credit:

The problem was that McKenna’s brother was hesitant about getting an Easy Bake because it was “for girls.” All the marketing for the toy was aimed at girls.The colors were pink and purple, and the commercials always had girls. It was as if they were perpetuating the stereotype that the place for girls and women is at home and in the kitchen.

So she started a petition to ask Hasbro, the makers of this toy, to use gender-neutral colors for producing and marketing the Easy Bake.

Listen and watch her TED Talk here:

Storm Surge

The country has been bracing for this Super Typhoon Yolanda for days. At first, it seemed like we had triumphed over her, but as we gain access to the worst hit areas, we are learning just how much devastation she left behind in the Philippines.

As of latest official count, there are about 134 casualties. After what we’ve seen in the footages, and what we’ve heard from journalists and people on the ground, that seems like a very conservative count. The poor communication lines, and island-wide power outage, are probably keeping the officials from confirming the numbers.

But no matter how many, or how few lives were lost, it is still one or a hundred too many. 


Dr. Mahar Lagmay of Project NOAH (Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards) was interviewed on ANC today, and it was mentioned how the government has actually allocated money for advanced equipment to forecast weather conditions. He said too that the PAG-ASA and NDRRMC actually released an accurate model showing the path of Super Typhoon Yolanda. They were able to predict where it will hit landfall and identify the areas that will be most hit. The warnings were given, and resources were mobilized. It is sad though that some people still chose to stay in low-lying areas, and sadder still that identified evacuation areas were also submerged when the sea came rushing inland.

Storm surges are not new. We’ve heard it mentioned before. But it looks like no layman actually understood what it meant, until now.

Atom Araullo’s coverage in the morning of November 8 has been played over and over. One minute he was out on the road showing everyone how strong the winds were, and how rain was falling in every direction. Next thing the viewers knew, he had gone up the building where his crew was to take shelter, and the water had come rushing into the city.

The people were ready for the strongest typhoon in the sense that they left their homes and sought shelter in identified evacuation centers. Multi-purpose halls, gyms, and schools, were the usual areas. But it wasn’t just the wind and debris they needed shelter from, water brought in by the storm surges proved to be the biggest concern.

Dr. Lagmay said that storm surges were nothing new, and the warnings indicated the high probability of having them. So why weren’t appropriate evacuation centers identified? Why have the people relocate from the shoreline to one-story structures inland? Perhaps, it was really a lack of understanding of what exactly storm surges are. Now we know. Next time, we’ll know better.

Here’s hoping that the spirit of bayanihan once again prevails and sees us through this ordeal as one united people. Here’s praying that when we rebuild, we rebuild with the lessons of this experience well considered. Here’s to wishing that when we look back to remember YolandaPH, it is resilience and pakikipagkapwa that we see, and not the looting of Gaisano.


Image by Edzel Rubite.

Indeed, the Filipino spirit is waterproof. This has been proven time and again. But much needs to be done in the hard hit areas. Road clearing, delivery of goods and services, rebuilding. Many homes were washed out, even businesses. Let’s extend any help we can, here’s a few channels:

ABS-CBN Sagip Kapamilya Pledge Lines – 411-0183, 411-0182, 411-0115

UNICEF Philippines – One-time donation page (if you’d like to start monthly donations and be a Champion for Children, even better!)

Gawad Kalinga also set up a page.

Beware when Taking a Cab!

I heard from a friend yesterday, but I was nursing a very bad headache so I didn’t really understand what her message was about until a few hours ago.

She was robbed by a taxi driver and his accomplice:


She is okay, according to her message, and she just wanted to share the link to the news piece. I said I was glad she’s okay but that I couldn’t load the video so I didn’t know the details. Today I got to see the video, and I am horrified!

I’d taken taxis to and from work at odd hours and one of the things I was fearful for was exactly this kind of modus-operandi. No matter how careful we are, it can get difficult at times. I am just very thankful for her that she had the sense to remember the plate number, and that police acted swiftly and apprehended the thugs on the same night.

I laud my friend for being brave and not letting the bad guys get away with what they did. Others would have given up and just gone home. I want to hug her and reassure her. And to greet her an advanced happy birthday.  But I’ll see her very soon.

To every one else, please stay safe, and beware. Call your trusted cab companies like World/Cord.  Or use that app for iOS/Android called Grab a Taxi or something. I know it’s no guarantee, but it’s a start.

Executive Summary by the NBI on the PDAF complaints filed against Janet Lim-Napoles, et al.

Today, the Official Gazette publishes the NBI’s Executive Summary of their PDAF Complaints Filed against Janet Lim-Napoles, Et Al.

After the conduct of its investigation on the Napoles PDAF Scam, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) finds sufficient evidence for the filing of complaints for plunder against five (5) lawmakers, and for malversation, direct bribery, and graft and corrupt practices act against three (3) other lawmakers. Also recommended to be charged in the complaints filed by the NBI and Atty. Levito D. Baligod, as private complainant, with the Ombudsman are some of the lawmakers’ chiefs-of-staff or representatives, the heads and other officials of three implementing agencies, and the several presidents of the NGOs set up by Napoles. The lawmakers found to be involved in plunder are the following:

1. Senator Juan Ponce Enrile
2. Senator Ramon Revilla, Jr.
3. Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Ejercito Estrada
4. Former Congresswoman Rizalina Seachon-Lanete (now Governor of Masbate)
5. Former Congressman Edgar Valdez (APEC Party-list)

Those involved in malversation, direct bribery, and other graft and corrupt practices are:

6. Former Congressman Rodolfo Plaza (Lone District, Agusan del Sur)
7. Former Congressman Samuel Dangwa (Lone District, Benguet)
8. Former Congressman Constantino Jaraula (Lone District, Cagayan de Oro)

The chiefs-of-staff or representatives of the lawmakers charged along with their superiors are:

9. Atty. Jessica Lucila Reyes – COS, Enrile
10. Atty. Richard Cambe – Staff, Revilla
11. Ruby Tuason – Representative, Enrile/ Estrada
12. Pauline Labayen – Staff, Estrada
13. Jose Sumalpong – COS, Lanete
14. Jeanette dela Cruz – District Staff, Lanete
15. Erwin Dangwa – COS, Dangwa
16. Carlos Lozada – Staff, Dangwa

The Heads of Agencies charged for either plunder or malversation, bribery and graft and corrupt practices are:

17. Alan Javellana – former President, National Agribusinees Corp. (NABCOR)
18. Gondelina Amata – President, National Livelihood Development Corporation (NLDC)
19. Antonio Ortiz – Former Director General (Technology Resource Corporation (TRC)
20. Dennis Cunanan – Former Deputy Director General (now Director General), TRC
21. Salvador Salacup – former President, ZNAC Rubber Estate Corporation (ZREC) (now Assistant Secretary Department of Agriculture)

The Napoles NGO Presidents also included in the complaint on charges of plunder as well as malversation are:

22. Jocelyn Piorato – Agricultura Para sa Magbubukid Foundation, Inc. (APMFI)
23. Nemesio Pablo – Agri and Economic Program for Farmers Foundation, Inc. (AEPFFI)
24. Mylene Encarnacion – Countrywide Agri and Rural Economic and Development Foundation, Inc. (CARED)
25. John Raymund De Asis – Kaupdanan Para sa Mangunguma Foundation, Inc. (KPMFI)
26. Evelyn Deleon – Philippine Social Development Foundation, Inc. (PSDFI)
27. Ronald John Lim – Ginintuang Alay sa Magsasaka Foundation, Inc. (GAMFI)

Lastly, the implementing agency officials and employees largely involved in plunder or malversation, bribery, or graft and corrupt practices by conspiracy are the following:

28. Victor Cacal – NABCOR
29. Romulo Revelo – NABCOR
30. Ma. Ninez Guanizo – NABCOR
31. Julie Johnson – NABCOR
32. Rodhora Mendoza – NABCOR
33. Alexis Sevidal – NLDC
34. Sofia Cruz – NLDC
35. Chila Jalandoni – NLDC
36. Francisco Figura – TRC
37. Marivic Jover – TRC

Finally, also included in the complaints for plunder, malversation, and corruption of public officials is the owner of the JLN Group of Companies and mastermind of the PDAF Scam operations:

38. Janet Lim-Napoles.


The NBI investigation started with the rescue of Benhur Luy by NBI agents from Reynald Lim at Napoles’ residence in Taguig City. Benhur was apparently being held by Napoles in order to prevent him from coming out and exposing what he knows about the PDAF Scam operation being conducted by Napoles through the JLN Group of companies and fake NGOs. Benhur had knowledge of this operation as a trusted employee and relative of Napoles. Because of Benhur’s revelations, the NBI conducted an investigation on the Napoles PDAF Scam Operations.


The PDF version of the Executive Summary is available for download.

No surprises there. The names that have been coming out these past few weeks are the same names in the complaint. What happens next, is what everyone is waiting for.

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