By Anna Valmero INQUIRER.net MANILA, Philippines—An official of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) launched a book on legal philosophy, featuring contemporary Filipino thinkers. Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento said the book “Grow in Grace and Govern in Wisdom” is a compilation of readings and articles of “great Filipino thinkers” together with classical philosophers, such as Plato. “I want our Filipino students to read about the local indigenous Filipino philosophers who have great intentions for our country, who love our country and have shown noble acts of patriotism,” said Sarmiento. Sarmiento said the book was formerly a syllabus for a law subject he teaches at San Beda College. He gathered the materials throughout the course of his work as a lawyer and public servant. He said he hopes the book would contribute to the development of a new paradigm that “law is a potent instrument to build a nation of justice and peace.” “This book aims to redefine legal philosophy from a purely and theoretical subject to one that is developmental, socially engaged and transformative,” he said. He said while most books on legal philosophy feature European thoughts, Filipinos should also be exposed to the writing of local philosophers. Sarmiento said Filipino thinkers also offer writings that are “insightful and very relevant to Philippine realities as they mirror the common aspirations of Filipino people.” When asked to pick his favorite part of the book, he picked an article by his former mentor Jose Diokno: “He [Diokno] said in his article, we have a new concept of justice among Filipinos--justice that seeks to uphold dignity, human rights and the common good.” While written mainly for law students, Sarmiento said the book is “for all Filipinos who strive to make a difference for the country and those who struggle to build a just and proud nation.” Watch this video report:
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UPDATE: Nursing Board topnotcher Jovie Ann Decoyna, a graduate of Baguio Central University, urges her peers to take the initiative amid the financial crisis that has affected job opportunities even for nurses. She got a rating of 89 percent. She is one of over 88,000 examinees that took the Nursing Licensure Exams in November 2008. “We should take the initiative to look for the job rather than being idle. It is our responsibility to uplift nursing as a field,” she says. +++ THE results are out. Here's the story from our breaking news:
At least 39,455 or 44.51% out of 88,649 examinees that took the November 2008 Nursing Board have passed, the Professional Regulatory Commission has announced. Jovie Ann Alawas Decoyna of the Baguio Central University topped the board, with 89 percent, the PRC said. The Nursing Regulatory Board (NRB) is headed by Carmencita Abaquin. Members of the NRB include Yolanda Arugay, Betty Merritt, Leonila Faire, Perla Po, Marco Antonio Sto.Tomas, and Amelia Rosales.
INQUIRER.net MANILA, Philippines--Maria Cecilia Flores-Oebanda has been awarded the first Iqbal Masih award for the elimination of exploitative child labor, according to the United States Department of Labor. Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs Charlotte M. Ponticelli said the US agency is giving this award to acknowledge Flores-Oebanda’s lifetime battle against the use of child domestic workers and the trafficking of women and children for domestic servitude and commercial sexual exploitation in the Philippines and internationally. Flores-Oebanda is currently the president and executive director of the Visayan Forum Foundation Inc. (VFF) based in Quezon City. "This award recognizes a true champion in the fight to end exploitive child labor," said Ponticelli in a statement. "Through her work, Ms. Flores-Oebanda has brought real change to the lives of thousands of children." The Iqbal Masih Award was established by the US Congress to recognize the work of an individual, company, organization or national government to end the worst forms of child labor. The award reflects the spirit of Iqbal Masih, a Pakistani child enslaved at the age of four who escaped his servitude and became an outspoken advocate against child slavery. In 1995 at the age of 13 and a year after receiving the Reebok Human Rights Award, Iqbal was killed in Pakistan. His dedication to ending child slavery, however, continues to inspire individuals around the world. Like Iqbal Masih, Flores-Oebanda was born into poverty. As a child, she helped to support her family by scavenging. Later as a teenager, she advocated for the rights of youth and farm laborers. Flores-Oebanda later founded and now leads the VFF, a nongovernmental organization that has rescued and provided assistance to more than 32,000 victims and potential victims of trafficking. According to the US agency, the VFF has helped to file more than 65 trafficking cases on behalf of more than 165 victims. Flores-Oebanda serves as the Southeast Asia coordinator for the Global March Against Child Labor and is active with other significant events to support work against child and exploitive labor. Since 1995, the US Department of Labor has supported efforts to combat exploitive child labor internationally. The agency has succeeded in rescuing more than 1.25 million children from exploitive child labor.
By Quay Evano FOR the first time in the history of overseas employment for Filipinos and perhaps a first in the Middle East and the rest of the world, a foundation has been created by the OFWs (in the UAE) for the OFWs (in the Middle East) -- to aid them during harsh financial times. The foundation was also created to promote entrepreneurship, to engage in fundraising activities, to give scholarships to children of low-income Filipino families and provide money to Filipinos stricken with life-threatening illnesses or who are victims of calamities and natural disasters. “The Filipino Expatriates in the UAE Foundation Inc., also known as FILEX Foundation was established so that in our own moments of personal need, we have a foundation we Filipino expats can easily go to for help. No one else can really help the OFWs but the OFWs themselves, so it is high time we start preparing ourselves for our future and supporting ourselves. Even if we are abroad, or back home in the Philippines, the foundation will become the common interest we will work for, to gather and to sustain and proudly say that it is our own charitable organization. There are so many charitable organizations in the Philippines but there is really none for the OFWs. Finally, there is one now,” Dick Orense, Chairman of the Interim Board of Trustees, said. The FILEX Foundation, which is a non-stock and non-profit corporation under the laws of the Philippines, was duly registered at and approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission in Manila on June 25, 2008. Membership is open to all Filipinos with a payment of a one-time fee of AED (Dirhams) 30 or US$ 8. Overseas Filipino Workers with a UAE residence visa need to pay a yearly fee of Dhs 15 for the group accident insurance security which covers accidental death, total accident disability, payment for medical fees and repatriation of remains to the Philippines. “We really aimed to have the lowest membership fee we could possibly have and the lowest insurance fee so that it will easy for our fellow Filipinos to become members because we know they work blood, sweat and tears for every dirham they earn here,” Orense said. One of the main purposes in creating the foundation is “to establish a funding facility whose capital fund, which to be known as the Foundation Capital Fund or FCF, is designed to grow and expand through time, with only its interests or earnings, to be known as the Foundation Disposable Fund or FDF, are utilized to assist the Filipino expatriates in the UAE or those who are no longer in the UAE and who are in great need for financial aid or help. This premise is what started the realization of a foundation for OFWs to happen. About five years ago, as the newly-appointed Philippine Ambassador to the UAE, Libran Cabactulan was approached by a Filipina, who had a terminal illness, asking for financial help. The Philippine Embassy and the whole Filipino community rallied to help her as much as they can but eventually and unfortunately, the Filipina died. But out of her death, the FILEX dream was born. “We ran out of time. That was our main problem. It took us a lot of time to get the money she required for her operation, it took time to make the Filipino community raise more funds, and time was something she didn’t have. I thought, if only we had enough money stored somewhere that will only be accessible for OFWs at any given time to help them, then we could stop this scenario from ever happening again. And there are so many of these kinds problems OFWs face everyday,” explained Ambassador Cabactulan. In 2004, Ambassador Cabactulan convened a meeting of Filipino community leaders in Abu Dhabi signifying his vision to form a body that would become an institution which every Overseas Filipino in need could access for support and assistance. In 2005, Filipino community leaders submitted their respective proposals and copies of their existing constitutions and by-laws followed up with regular meetings with the Ambassador. In 2006, Ambassador Cabactulan selected 21 Filcom leaders who were responsible for initiating and shaping the foundation. In 2007, the election for the Board of Trustees was held at the Ambassador’s residence and in 2008, FILEX deposited one million pesos as trust fund at the Land Bank of the Philippines as a requirement for registration as a non-stock and non-profit organization. “Assistance given by the government is not enough, especially with the fact that the numbers of Filipinos in the Middle East is growing by leaps and bounds. Five years ago, there was around 200,000 Filipinos in the UAE. Now we are more than 350,000. In Saudi Arabia, there are almost more than one million Filipinos now. I realized that there’s a great urgent need for adequate extra sufficient assistance to be accorded to the OFWs. I just felt that it was required for us Filipinos abroad to do something,” Ambassador Cabactulan said. “What we’re launching with FILEX is a process, a system that will evolve into an institution that’s long lasting, self-sustaining and durable. I conceived it but it now belongs to all Filipino expatriates. My dream is that every Filipino who will go abroad will become a member of FILEX so that they will have some sort of protection for we don’t know what lies in our future and what will happen to our lives in a foreign land. Filex Foundation is a “pader na masasandalan mo” in times of need,” Ambassador Cabactulan stressed. At present, the Filex Foundation has 1,600 members since the official launch in August but the officers’ goal is to reach 100,000 members within a year. The FILEX Foundation has already been praised by the UAE’s Minister of Social Affairs, Mariam Mohammed Khalfan al Roumi for its initiative in helping Filipinos in the country. The foundation has also created its own website. (Photos by Quay Evano)
By Yong B. Chavez There's a good chance Filipino-flavored food will stay in the Obama White House menu. Though change is coming in the White House this January, there's one area where Obama's new administration isn't likely to change, reports say. Walter Scheib, White House executive chef for Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, says in an AP interview that "there's a 90 percent chance the new administration will stick with his successor, Cristeta Comerford." Though the job is high-profile, the work of a White House executive chef isn't fit for someone wanting a celebrity status. Being sensitive and understanding is just as important as culinary skills, given that the chef is among the few people who interact with the first family in private, former White House chefs say. Comerford, the first woman and first minority to serve as executive chef in the White House, gets high praise in those areas. The following is an article I wrote about Comerford back in 2005. About the photo:Chef Cristeta "Cris" Comerford prepares a meal inside the White House kitchen in this July 17, 2002 photo. White House Photo by Tina Hager. +++
First lady head chef in the White House is Filipina When Cristeta Comerford comes back to work from her vacation by the month’s end, she will have a full plate in front of her as she assumes her new responsibilities as the White House executive chef at that time. Mrs. Laura Bush announced Sunday that Comerford, whom the First Lady calls by her nickname “Cris”, has been given the executive kitchen’s top post. A Food Technology graduate of the University of the Philippines, the 42-year-old wife and mother is the first woman to get the job. "I am delighted that Cris Comerford has accepted the position of White House executive chef," Mrs. Bush said in her press statement. "Her passion for cooking can be tasted in every bite of her delicious creations." Comerford will be in charge of designing and executing menus for state dinners, social events, holiday functions, receptions and official luncheons hosted by President and Mrs. Bush. The first lady top chef of the White House is trained in French classical techniques and specializes in ethnic and American cuisine. She has helped develop menus for previous special White House events including a state dinner in honor President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Susan Whitson, the First Lady’s press secretary, said that Mrs. Bush was very happy with Comerford’s work in her capacity as the White House assistant chef for the past 10 years. “She is very pleased with Cris,” Whitson said. It took six months for the position to be filled because the First Lady wanted to make sure that the person who would replace former executive chef Walter Scheib III would be the best that they could get, Whitson added. The search for the presidential chief chef was headed by White House social secretary Lea Berman and head usher Gary Walters. Walters has been quoted in reports as saying that the White House executive chef is paid in the general range of $80,000 and $100,000 a year. Although it is a sizable amount, famous chefs in America get so much more than that, but the high-profile job still attracted a lot of applicants hungry for the chance to rule the president's kitchen. “They went through hundreds of applicants, and after thoughtful consideration, they went with Cris,” Whitson said. The fact that she is a woman is a bonus, but in the end, she was chosen because she was “the best qualified”, Whitson said. The new White House top chef, a naturalized U.S.citizen who was born in the Philippines, lives in the Washington D.C. area with her family.This article is also published in the Proudly Filipina blog, an online magazine and social network that simulates the warm, intimate and safe environment of bonding with your sisters or best girlfriends. Through a selection of articles on love, sex, hobbies, soulful stories, inspiration, health and wellness, advocacies and women’s issues and that are targeted towards enriching the Pinay’s heart, body and spirit, it’s every Filipina’s virtual coffee-and-cupcake time at the click of a mouse.
By Izah Morales INQUIRER.net YOU often see crocheted bags made of threads and yarn. But have you seen one using plastic? The Invisible Institute, a non-government organization (NGO), is now using plastics as material for their homegrown crocheted bags. “As we all know, we have many poor women who really need more income generating activities because they have so many people depending on them. What we’ve done is to take those people whom I call ‘invisible’ or ‘unseen’ and put them together with invisible waste, which I consider factory waste,” Invisible Institute founder and artist Ann Wizer said. The group uses “clean trash and garbage bags” as materials to teach poor women to crochet. “It’s a very simple skill. And we’re also teaching any men who are willing,” said Wizer. Crochet is a French term that literally means “hook.” It describes a “series of interlocking loops onto a chain using a slender rod with a hook at the end,” according to CrochetDoilies website. Wizer began the organization in collaboration with another non-government organization called Gems Heart, which gathered women in Malibay, Pasay in October to train every Tuesday afternoon. “In this project, I have given very little design advice because I was trying to see what they would come up with themselves first,” said Wizer. Virgie Buencochillo and Rene Sison, two of the participants in the workshop, related how the program changed the way they eventually see plastic. Buencochillo, for her part, said she now saves plastic bags from groceries and uses them as materials for crocheted bag. She also uses empty containers as another material. Sison admitted plastics turned into bags can generate extra income. “Sometimes, our budget is insufficient since I still have kids who are studying. That’s why I use the money that I get [from this new livelihood] when we’re short of budget,” Sison added. So far, Sison has created bags out of scrap materials, such as rejected syringe, plastics, excess carpet. He said he has earned about P 4,000. Buencochillo has also finished some bags which has earned her a total of P 1,950. Sison said crocheted plastic bags are very cheap to make. You don’t need a lot of capital since the materials are junk. Rejected and unused syringes, for instance, cost less than P 100. “It’s a self-empowering skill,” added Wizer who admitted that the organization still needs funding to hire more experts and staff. “The next step for the Invisible Institute is to get some design expertise. I love to see more designers and artists involved. We also need funding because we have to make this a real, legal entity and a real cooperative and later run by Filipinos so that they can feel the benefits,” explained Wizer.
By Marjorie Gorospe INQUIRER.net TAGUIG City, Philippines -- United States Ambassador Kristie Kenney together with some American and Filipino military dignitaries celebrated the Veteran’s Day at American Cemetery. “If not for their sacrifices, our nations will never be free. They are the reason why we can vote peacefully, freely and with excitement actually,” said Kenney who joined the honoring of the war veterans. Kenney said she appreciated the enduring friendship between Filipino and Americans, as she acknowledged Filipinos who served the Americans during the World War II. “My grandfather and father is also war veteran,” Kenney said, as she disclosed why this day was also close to her heart. In an interview with reporters, Kenney shared her excitement about the new government under President-elect Barack Obama. However, she stressed that she is waiting until January when Obama finally settles into the White House.
By Marjorie Gorospe INQUIRER.net MAE Paner has been in advertising industry for 25 years. Her debut in directing commercials came in 1997 when she came out with “Black and White.” Since then, she has found herself drowned in a career of “selling” soap, political personalities and products appealing to a certain target market. Paner is a stage actor in the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA). Aside from directing, she has been a commercial talent, appearing in a funny Boysen paint commercial as the nagging mother-in-law to a man painting his home. In the commercial, the nonchalant son-in-law keeps painting the wall white until he decides to paint over Paner who continues nagging him. For years, Paner thought she was doing okay with her chosen career as an artist until she saw Rodolfo Noel Lozada, Jr.'s expose on the controversial National Broadband Network project during a Senate investigation. “I was crying as I watched him. I felt so sad knowing that this is how terrible corruption is in our country,” Paner said. She realized that as an artist, she must do something to promote love for country because the greed for power and money is rooted in the lack of love for country. Paner later invited her friends to join her in an advocacy but very few responded. This did not stop her. She and some friends eventually formed a group called “Convergence Team,” whose objective is to promote nation building through art. The group also hopes to encourage good governance. The group eventually came up with a modern and inspiring music video of the Philippine National Anthem, “Lupang Hinirang,” which practically slowed down the way the anthem was sang from its usual 4/4 cadence to a slower, heartfelt beat. Paner directed the video. She also got the Loboc children’s choir conducted by Alma Taldo to sing the national anthem. While it may sound cliché, Paner believes that the children are the country’s future. Not surprising, the music video of the Lupang Hinirang features a child. The music video is simple: it shows a child walking and eventually finding a little Philippine flag on the ground. Next, the kid starts climbing a flag pole, and towards the end of the anthem, plants the little flag on top of the flag pole. “What will a kid do when he sees a flag on the ground?” asked Paner. In the music video, Paner shows that children who symbolize innocence will take and clean the flag. But it goes beyond that, as the child makes an effort to put the flag where it belongs. The kid’s presence in the music conveys innocence and pure intention. If only Filipinos would also show such love for the country, then we can all move forward as a nation, Paner said. “I am done with selling political ads and products, now I want to sell our nation,” she added. Indeed, incorporating social values is a rare practice in profit-oriented businesses. Paner suggests companies should also help in nation building. The Lupang Hinirang music video has so far been getting positive responses from people. Paner said her group is thinking of more and similar projects in the future. One problem they have encountered is delay in production due to tight budgets. For now, the group is using the Internet to spread the music video. People has already found their music video on YouTube.
By Anna Valmero INQUIRER.net PASIG CITY, Philippines -- High school and college students from across the Philippines unfolded at the Mall of Asia bayside a 173.65-meter cloth containing messages of gratitude for teachers. This is the Philippines attempt to win an entry into the Guinness Book of World Records. The banner is set to break China’s current record for the longest thank you banner for teachers at 100 meters unfolded at Fuyang Square. The Philippines also attempts to set the record for the most number of thank you messages addressed to teachers, said Michaela Muñoz, chairperson of the educational leadership and management department of De La Salle University. DLSU is assigned to submit to the Guinness body the measurement and count the total number of messages written in the sewn cloth banner. At present, the number of messages is estimated to average at 150 to 200 per 10-meter cloth. Dubbed “A Big Thank You to Our Teachers”, the “longest” thank you banner for teachers is part of the culmination of the Teacher’s Month celebration in the country. Traditionally, each school separately celebrates Teacher’s Day October 5, as set by UNESCO. “Teachers are very instrumental in our lives because as the saying goes one can make or break an individual,” said Muñoz. “This event recognizes and celebrates the importance of our teachers.” According to Muñoz, the Teacher’s Month campaign is a brain-child of Armin Luistro, DLSU-Manila President. Luistro hopes to have a month-long celebration for teachers and have different schools across the nation join the event. This is to revitalize the image of teaching as a vocation and the value of teachers in the Filipino society and national development, said Muñoz. Luistro as representative of De La Salle Philippines partnered with Metrobank Foundation Inc., which offered support by networking with commercial partners to provide special packages for teachers this October. Other partners include Philippine Business for Education and Campaigns Social Response Department of Education. Over 233 students from 20 schools in Manila, Laguna, Batangas and Zambales participated in the event. “Everybody has a teacher,” said Aniceto Sobrepeña. “This is an opportunity for showing gratitude to them as they touch lives by becoming a mentor, friend, disciplinarian and the one instrumental in our success.”
By Anna Valmero INQUIRER.net "Experience excellence, experience Philippines." This is the new tagline of the Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP). It now aims to get the world to recognize Filipino excellence in outsourcing services and achieve clear strategies to ensure better business environment and wide opportunities in this competitive industry. BPAP CEO Oscar Sañez said the Philippines has a secret weapon to propel it to the top: excellence. "Investing in the Philippines is more than business -- it is the total experience that our clients get when partnering with Filipinos, namely English proficiency, work ethic, hospitable culture, infrastructure and lifestyle," said Sañez. Aside from less expensive operations, Sañez said Filipinos provide operational efficiencies as key advantage that make them the best outsourcing provider worldwide. Despite the current economic slowdown, BPAP is confident that the Philippine information technology-business process outsourcing (IT-BPO) industry will hit this year’s $6.8 billion target. At 16 percent growth rate in this year’s first five months, employment rate rose by 40,000, said BPAP. Ranking second in the global outsourcing arena, BPAP believes Filipinos have much to offer beyond BPO and voice-operated services. In this connection, BPAP has launched a collaborative effort to align itself with key local players in different growth areas such as software development, medical transcription, game development and animation segments, said Catherine Ileto, executive director for BPAP’s external relations unit. Reinvigorating its marketing strategy, Ileto said BPAP has started deploying campaigns, such as an online recruitment and marketing tool in partnership with content developer Havoc Digital. BPAP also plans to tap for its talent marketing initiative the use of social media, specifically Yahoo! and social networking site Friendster. BPAP will present in a plenary session the tagline in UK’s National Outsourcing Association Summit on November. This is in line to BPAP’s strategy to gain inroads in the United Kingdom and other markets specifically, Germany, Australia and Singapore.