Category: Philippines


Catechist on the road to Canonization

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Pasig has started the cause for beatification and canonization of Laureana “Ka Luring” Franco (in photo), a Filipina catechist with two supposed miracles already under her name.


Nuncio Echoes Pope’s Call for ‘Year of Prayer’

Archbishop Charles Brown (in photo), the papal nuncio to the Philippines, has echoed Pope Francis’ call for a “Year of Prayer” to help Catholics prepare for the 2025 Jubilee. Addressing the Philippine bishops at their plenary assembly last January, he encouraged them “to find ways” in their own dioceses to implement the special year.


Christian Living in Fear in Mindanao

The bomb explosion at the Mindanao State University in Marawi City during the celebration of the Eucharist on the first Sunday of Advent which killed four people and injured 50 has sent fear through the local Christian community.


From Guns To Tending Fishponds

In the hinterland village of Pedtad in North Cotabato province, Philippines, a group of former Islamist fighters have put aside their guns in exchange for a more peaceful life managing fishponds. “Tending the farm and pulling out water lilies is safer than carrying guns and roaming the mountains,” said Harun Imba. “In the mountains, your life is always in danger.”


Poverty Pushes Children To Hard Labor

When he was seven years old, Jun Rey Bigallera would wake up before dawn, not to get ready for school but to go to a public market in the southern Philippine city of Davao to sell vegetables. Jun recalls walking for two hours to reach the market.


New Gun Law Will Not Stop Crime

The new law on firearms has sparked heated debate in the Philippines where, in 2013 alone, over 220 thousand crimes were committed including robberies, murders, assaults, violence. The new norm is the final version of the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act, of June 2013, which allows at-risk groups to carry firearms. These include journalists, lawyers, activists and priests often victims of kidnapping, summary killings and robberies by groups of terrorists or criminals. According to the previous law, such categories were treated like any other citizen and had to show that they are “under real threat” to bear arms. Critics of the law state that while the government now allows individuals at risk to defend themselves, it still does not make any headway in preventing crimes.

Mindanao Group Wins Top Peace Award

“The dedicated efforts of the members of the Movement have not only advanced the process towards lasting peace in their communities, but have also inspired many people around the world with an example of true dialogue based on spirituality,” the award-giving body said in a statement. D’Ambra said the Award is a “recognition” of the organization’s concerted efforts to help end the patchwork of conflicts in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao involving Islamic and Communist rebels over the past 30 years. Started with a group of Muslim and Christian friends, D’Ambra has seen the Movement’s peace-building and dialogue activities grow steadily. It is also involved in sustainable agriculture, environmental advocacy and holistic healthcare. Silsilah, an Arabic word which means ‘chain’ or ‘link,’ implies “spritual linkage of humanity as created by the same God,” said D’Ambra. The organization will receive the Award at a ceremony to be held during this year’s Goi Peace Foundation Forum in Tokyo in November.   

Agencies Launch $18m Education Scheme

Tomoo Hozumi, UNICEF country representative, said he expects the return on the investment in childhood learning to be “extremely high.” He cited a recent study which shows that every dollar spent on early childhood care and development (ECCD) returns as much as $12 on the value of human development. Hozumi also said that investing in the most disadvantaged children is “justifiable, first and foremost, from the viewpoint of human rights.”  Teresita Inciong, ECCD Council head, said early childhood education will improve the country’s high dropout rate. “Ages from zero to four years old are crucial for brain development and it’s irreversible if we fail to catch up,” she said at the launch of the project in Quezon City. The project will be implemented by UNICEF with the Departments of Social Welfare, Education and ECCD. Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman said that the project will focus on children who are in the most disadvantaged condition, especially those trapped in the conflicts in Mindanao. The project will also help the government establish more day care centers on isolated islands as well as relocation sites for displaced children, she added. The country has only 45,000 day care centers, most of them managed by day care staff who earn a meager allowance of about $12 a month.  

Sea Gypsies Battle For Survival

Maramakami and his wife have since moved to Tacloban, a developing city in Leyte province, in a bid to find a more stable source of income. “There is no more money in the sea, no more fish to hunt, and diving in deep waters for a few coins was getting tiring. It was no longer attractive – my wife also didn’t like it.” Theirs is a vicious cycle which is common among sea gypsies, an ethnic minority here. Mainly based in Mindanao, an island to the south, many of the country’s estimated half a million sea gypsies are leaving their homes as their way of life – based around fishing – is slowly disappearing. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Center of Norway has reported that more than a quarter of million people were displaced in Mindanao between January and October last year alone, almost all due to conflict and natural disasters.  The degrading Philippine coastline also plays a part in this migration. The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has reported that 10 out of 13 fishing grounds in the country are heavily exploited due to illegal and unregulated fishing off this archipelago. Home to the second largest reef system in Asia, only 4% of this marine habitat in the Philippines remains in excellent condition, BFAR says. “About 1.2 million jobs in the fishing, tourism and food sectors would be directly affected by poor ocean management,” says Vince Cinches of Greenpeace Southeast Asia. Maramakami says Cebu became overrun with other sea gypsies diving for coins near the port. Earnings inevitably shrank. That’s why he again moved on to Tacloban where he goes door–to–door selling trinkets – necklaces, bracelets and earrings made of seashells and other materials mostly taken from the sea, the only source of livelihood he has known. “We’ll continue roaming until we have a permanent place where our future is secured,” he says. He earns between 150 and 200 pesos (US$3.75 and $5) per day. But there are many sea gypsies living in Tacloban who beg for a living, he adds. “They don’t have much in the way of an education to get a job.” Still in his mid–20’s, Marakami and his wife are among the lucky few sea gypsies to have received a small plot of land from the government just outside of Tacloban in the town of Isabel. “I haven’t thought of my future children yet,” he says. “For now, the important thing is that the two of us survive each day.”  

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