Miyerkules, Pebrero 29, 2012

Feature: Information as wielder of power: PIA’s Anti-Drug Courier Program and the Anvil Awards

It was February in 2011 when three Filipinos were sentenced by the Chinese government to death penalty by lethal injection. The criminal offense: drug trafficking. This was also the year when the terms “drug mule”, “drug couriers”, “drug trafficking” have recurrently appeared in dailies and tv/radio programs. Drug trafficking took the Philippines by storm and it certainly caught Filipinos off guard in more ways than one.

The three executed Filipinos-- who first were arrested separately in China in 2008 for carrying packages of at least four kilograms of heroin, then prosecuted and convicted in 2009—were all victims of drug trafficking. Like the other Filipinos who engage in drug smuggling, these three were lured by the promise of money without really knowing the gravity of the offense and the penalty attached to committing such. 

Drug trafficking is such a serious crime in other countries particularly China that not even the Philippine government’s intervention could stop or alter the said country’s verdict.  The Chinese government carried out the death penalty of the three Pinoys on March 30, 2011. This worsened the already lukewarm diplomatic ties between the Philippines and China.

The story doesn’t end there. In September 2011, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) recorded some 700 drug smuggling cases involving Filipinos around the world — 83 of these drug couriers faced possible death while the rest were awaiting their fate in jail.  

According to PDEA, Filipinos engaging in drug trafficking are mostly overseas Filipino workers hoping to earn money for economic support. They are usually domestic helpers, teachers, and unsuspecting individuals either looking for job in foreign countries.

PDEA said that these drug traffickers, also called drug mules, transport heroin, shabu, cocaine or marijuana mostly to China, then to Hong Kong and Taiwan. Drugs are often hidden in luggages, shoes or handbags, or are ingested using latex balloons and capsules. Some would even undergo surgical operations to hide the substance in the internal parts of the body.

Filipino females are the preferred drug mules because of lesser detection risks from authorities. Filipino women are either promised money or marriage by foreign drug syndicates.

The ominous threat of the rising number of Filipino traffickers arrested in other countries has alarmed the government. While the PDEA has been vigilant and active in its mandate of apprehending drug traffickers, more and more Filipinos perpetrate such an offense for lack of awareness and understanding of the risks and dangers of engaging in such a vicious activity. Even how big-time drug syndicates work is not known by many.

And because of this, the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) launched in that same year (2011) an information and awareness campaign against drug trafficking. Known as Anti-Drug Courier Program, the program was meant to protect the Filipinos from drug syndicates through information and advocacy campaigns. The target of the campaign are Filipinos who are in search of job in other countries. Those coming from the provinces are easy targets of drug syndicates for their lack of awareness of their modus operandi. 

PIA Director-General Atty. Jose A. Fabia said that the Ant-Drug Courier Program aims “to help increase the awareness level of people about drug trafficking and drug syndicates so that less Filipinos will be victimized."

Since the program’s launch, the PIA has utilized various media platform in the dissemination of information which has strengthened public awareness and education about drug trafficking and drug syndicates. In addition, the PIA, PDEA, and other partner agencies have conducted more than 200 public fora and press conferences in the various regions of the country. The discussions served to inform the public about how drug trafficking syndicates operate, how they recruit Filipinos to become drug mules and the ways on how drugs are concealed.

Tens of thousands individuals from the different sectors have participated in the meetings. With the multitude of participants in the fora and other related activites, the campaign underwent multiplier effect when they shared their knowledge about the drug smuggling issue with their families and friends through platforms such as the internet or telecommunication. The emergence of social media made the anti-drug mule campaign more resounding and more ubiquitous.

PIA’s Communication and News Exchange tv-radio program and government media’s tv-radio program “Talking Points”  became a springwell of information for journalists and other media practitioners. These programs were venues for the publication of printed and broadcast news releases that describe the helplessness of Filipino drug mules and warned the public against fraudulent promises like travel perks, monetary rewards, and job opportunities offered by drug smuggling syndicates

PIA utilized social media like social networking sites Facebook and Twitter for the campaign. The number of Filipinos who were reached out by the campaign through situationers was countless considering the multiplier effect of these networking sites plus the number of Filipino Facebook and Twitter users here and abroad.  

In the end, the Anti-Drug Courier Program aided in making Filipinos more vigilant against international drug trafficking syndicates as evidenced in the decrease of Filipino drug mules. From 78 arrests in 2010, the number dropped to 14 in 2011—an 82% drop in incidence of drug smuggling involving Filipinos, and certainly a sign of the effectiveness of PIA’s program.

Such triumph of PIA’s Anti-Drug Courier Program was duly recognized during the 47th Anvil Awards held at the EDSA Shangri-la Hotel in Mandaluyong City when it was given the Merit Award for the category – Public Relations Program on a Sustained Basis. Such a feat is noteworthy for few government agencies get such recognition from the award-giving organization Public Relations Society of the Philippines (PRSP).

This year’s Anvil Awards is dubbed the “Oscars” of local PR practice as it recognizes outstanding programs and tools implemented from Oct. 2010 to Oct. 2011 as well as adheres to strict and high standard in the evaluation of PR programs and tools set by a board of jurors comprising the who’s who in Philippine and international advertising, media, academe, and public relations. 

Anvil Awards recognizes the value of corporate social responsibility and effective communications campaigns that are implemented by government offices and private corporations to inform and empower the public especially our marginalized citizens. It is guided by its mission of steering the country towards progress while preserving its precious heritage and culture, and leading the way in development, refinement, and dissemination of knowledge and skills of the profession in the entire Asia-Pacific region.

Anvil Awards’ recognition of PIA’s Anti-Drug Courier Program is a testament of the synergy of private entities and the government in achieving the unified goal of national development through public relations that is informative, responsive, innovative, and one that would empower the Filipino people.

Martes, Pebrero 28, 2012

BOI identifies Phl’s three priority investment areas

The Board of Investments listed three priority investment areas that would help in creating jobs and improving the country’s economy. These are agribusiness, infrastructure, and tourism facilities and services.

The said areas reflect the government’s thrust of economic progress through investments that would generate millions of jobs to Filipinos.

Through the Public-Private Partnership (PPP), the synergy between government and private corporations could lead to mutual benefits, including improved economic status of Filipinos.

Accordingly, the three investment areas have been identified for their huge potential as economy boosters.

They said qualified lucrative projects under agribusiness include commercial production and processing of agricultural and fishery products including by-products and wastes, irrigation, post harvest, cold storage, blast freezing and the production of fertilizer. 

Also agribusiness is given special attention in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). New areas included the production of “halal” meat and foods, plantations and processing of industrial crops that include abaca, rubber, and biofuel like jathropa.

In the tourism facilities and services, investments will include the support of of transportation facilities that included airports, seaports, and cable car projects; the establishment and operations of hotels, theme parks, amusement parks, convention centers, health and wellness facilities, agri-tourism farms and facilities, and adventure parks; and development of retirement villages.

The infrastructure projects include those to be built under the public-private-partnership program of the government.

According to the BOI, to lure prospective investors, specific investments in the three areas will enjoy up to six years of income tax holidays after getting registered with the BOI this year.

Lunes, Pebrero 27, 2012

PIA’s Anti-Drug Courier Drive gets Anvil recognition

The Philippine Information Agency (PIA) was honored for its “Anti-Drug Courier Program” during the 47th Anvil Awards held at the EDSA Shangri-la Hotel in Mandaluyong City.

The PIA was recognized and given the Merit Award for the category -- PR Program on a Sustained Basis for its advocacy campaign against drug mules and drug trafficking in the country.

The program was a response and intervention to the alarming number of drug smuggling cases involved in by Filipinos. Around 700 Pinoys have been reported to be involved in drug smuggling.

Drug trafficking syndicates have been victimizing helpless Filipinos like overseas workers who are in need of money. Due to lack of knowledge about the gravity of drug trafficking, the uninformed drug mule victims allow themselves to transport illegal substance to other countries in exchange of money.

The recent case of drug mules led to the execution of three Filipinos in China, affecting the diplomatic ties between the Philippines and China.

To address the menace and to put a stop to the number of Filipinos victimized by drug syndicates, the PIA and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency launched a three-year Anti-Drug Courier PR campaign. 

The program made use of various platform in the dissemination of information about drug trafficking that would strengthen public awareness and education about drug trafficking and drug syndicates. 

PIA utilized social media for this campaign which yielded positive results. The campaign aided in making Filipinos more vigilant against international drug trafficking syndicates as evidenced in the decrease of Filipino drug mules. From 78 arrests in 2010, the number dropped to 14 in 2011. 

This year’s Anvil Awards is an annual event of the Public Relations Society of the Philippines (PRSP) and is dubbed the “Oscars” of local PR practice as it recognizes outstanding programs and tools implemented from Oct. 2010 to Oct. 2011.

Anvil recognition is given to PR programs and tools that pass the high standards set by this year’s board of jurors. The panel is composed of acknowledged experts in PR, media, academe, government, civil society and business.

Anvil Awards recognizes the value of corporate social responsibility and effective communications campaigns that are implemented by government offices and private corporations to inform and empower the public especially our marginalized citizens.

Sabado, Pebrero 25, 2012

Feature: Remembering EDSA People Power Revolution

The Epifanio De los Santos Avenue (EDSA) has played a strategic role in Philippine milieu, both economic and historical. For one, it reflects Manila’s bustling economic activities. But looking back, this 24 kilometer stretch of a thoroughfare has been instrumental in the country’s regaining of democracy.

All eyes were on the Philippines on February 25, 1986 when Filipinos did something no country has ever done before—oust a tyrant through a peaceful demonstration. After more than a decade of oppression and dictatorship, Filipinos have finally realized the need for mass action-- a show of unity in support of democracy.

EDSA People Power Revolution has become a significant national event and its utter success in the country’s assertion of democracy has been praised and emulated around the world. In fact, other countries have made similar attempts but none comes close to the peacefulness of the EDSA Revolution.

When Martial Law was declared in 1972, several repressive acts were done by those in power, which led to uprisings from different factions. The massive human rights violations alleged on the government then resulted in the formation of various organizations/movements that asserted their own ideologies. The New People's Army and the Moro National Liberation Front were among those who called for reform. However, the differences in ideologies contributed to the rapid rise of civil discontent and unrest in the country.

The assassination of Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr. in August 1983 upon his return from the United States caused much outrage among the Filipinos. The dwindling popularity of former President Ferdinand Marcos and the growing resentment of the Filipinos to the incumbent government paved the way for a snap election—seen as a strategy to appease the agitated citizenry. Ninoy’s spouse Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino was the main opposition. The results of the election caused further outrage as the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) had declared Mr. Marcos the winner. The National Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) had a tally quite the opposite of COMELEC’s. The sympathy of the masses was with Mrs. Aquino.

The questionable outcome of the snap election pushed the Filipinos’ tolerance to the limits and the clamor for a new leadership grew stronger. With the initiative of then Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and Armed Forces Vice Chief-of-Staff and soon-to-be President of the Philippines Fidel V. Ramos, plus the call and encouragement of Archbishop of Manila Jaime Cardinal Sin through the Radio Veritas, a revolution was staged on the EDSA. Thousands of Filipinos marched the street of EDSA with one common aim: to end dictatorial regime and bring back democracy through a new leader.

Not only government officials, some of whom resigned from their posts, but also celebrities, professionals, religious personalities like priests and nuns, students, ordinary workers, etc. trooped EDSA and shouted democracy. With courage, the people stood in front of tanks and soldiers, holding rosaries and saying their prayers. The demonstration was not just a show of unity; it was a show of faith.

With the power of prayers, the armed marine troops under the command of Marcos withdrew from the site. And in the morning of February 25, 1986, Corazon Aquino took the presidential oath of office, administered by the Supreme Court Associate Justice Claudio Teehankee. She was proclaimed the 11th President of the Republic of the Philippines. The Marcoses then fled from the country.

This was the end of Martial Law and the revival of democracy in the Philippines. The revolution not only freed the nation from the shackles of dictatorship, it gave the people renewed hope of better governance, better economy, better lives.

EDSA People Power Revolution is a demonstration of the true democratic process and a celebration of a free country which our heroes from the time of Lapu Lapu to the time of Rizal and Bonifacio until the time of modern-day heroes have fought, struggled, and died for. 

Martes, Pebrero 21, 2012

Feature: Homage to the freedom fighters; homage to the mother tongue

The Philippines is home to roughly 85 million Filipinos. Of this number, 84 per cent are literate. The blind population is 467,000 while the deaf is estimated at 12 million. (Lewis, M. Paul (ed.), 2009. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Sixteenth edition. Dallas, Tex.: SIL International.)

With the archipelagic situation of the country composed of 7,000 islands, it is no wonder that the Philippines has different languages. In Paul Lewis’s study on Ethnologue: Languages of the World, the Philippines has 175 listed individual languages. Of these, 171 are living languages and the four have no known speakers. This is not to mention that there are a number of  languages used by immigrants in the country. These include  American Sign Language, Basque, French (700 speakers), Hindi (2,420), Indonesian (2,580), Japanese (2,900), Korean, Sindhi (20,000), Standard German (960), Vietnamese. (http://www.ethnologue.com) According to Ethnologue, except for English, Spanish, Hokkien (Lan-nang), Cantonese, Mandarin, and Chavacano, all of the languages belong to the Malayo-Polynesian language family.

The national language of the Philippines is Filipino and the lingua franca is English. The language first spoken by children depends on where they are situated or what their parents use in domestic communication. Naturally, those in the Ilocos region would learn to communicate in Ilokano while those in Cebu would speak Cebuano before they could speak, say Filipino or English. The first language they learn and eventually use in everyday conversation is called the “mother tongue” or the “mother language”.
The global arena is a diverse, multicultural place where skill in different languages gives one the advantage over the other in the professional world. Multilingual is now translated to being more competitive and being more in-demand in the job market. Even in learning, those who use their mother language in teaching and learning concepts learn more effectively than those who use second languages.
The multilinguistic approach to learning has become recognized by learning specialists around the world. Even the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has highlighted the importance of mother tongue as part of the right to education and encourages its member states to promote instruction and education in the mother tongue. As such, the 30th session of the General Conference of UNESCO in 1999 decided that the Organization would launch and observe an International Mother Language Day on 21 February every year throughout the world with the objective to promote linguistic diversity and multilingual education, and to develop fuller awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue. (UNESCO)  

The theme of the International Mother Language day is “Mother tongue instruction and inclusive education”, and this underscores the importance of mother tongue in instruction and education.

The right to education is the very reason why languages have been given premium in line with development. And development always starts from one’s access to basic education—without prejudice nor discrimination. This is why UNESCO’s Convention against Discrimination in Education (1960) prohibits discrimination in education “based on race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, economic condition or birth” (UNESCO). There has been a growing understanding of different cultures, different languages, and mutual respect of each despite the differences.
The right to receive education in one’s mother tongue or native language is recognized in several international instruments. Under the provisions of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities (1992), people are afforded the right to learn their mother language and to learn using their mother language.  Provisions for education in mother tongue are contained in several international conventions, namely, the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention (1989), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (1990).  (UNESCO)
Multilingual education which entails the use of three languages – the mother tongue, a regional or national language and an international language -  are necessary to acquiring knowledge and different levels of competencies, according to UNESCO.
International Mother Language Day originated as the international recognition of Language Movement Day, which has been commemorated in Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan) since 1952. This was when a number of students were killed by the Pakistani police in Dhaka during Bengali Language Movement protests. Language Movement Day was a demonstation staged on February 21 of 1952 by students clamoring that their language, Bangla, be recognized as one of ther two languages in Pakistan. The Pakistan government then declared that Urdu would be the sole national language which caused the protests among the predominantly Bengali-speaking citizens of the area. These students' deaths in fighting for the right to use their mother language are now remembered on International Mother Language Day. (www.wikipedia.org)
International Mother Language Day has been celebrated every year since February 2000 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. With the observance of such, mother languages around the world are hoped to be looked up on, given importance, and further enriched. After all, language has been said to be the reflection of the society, of civilization, and the richness of one’s mind depends on the diversity of the languages that one uses.

The 121 listed languages in the Philippines, those that are unknown but are still existing among minorities, and those that have-beens are all tools that Filipinos could utilize to learn in the most effective way possible. After all, education has been known to be a right, not a privelege, and this applies to all, regardless of region, economic status, gender, and most of all, mother tongue. 

Feature: Demistifying the unusual and the unknown: Rare diseases in the Philippines

It is not common to see or hear about Filipinos with illnesses that are unheard of. But not because they are uncommon, they do not exist. In fact, these illnesses fall under the category “rare diseases”.

The Philippine Society for Orphan Disorders (PSOD) defines rare diseases as those conditions that affect one in 20,000 individuals. Rare diseases are also called “orphan disorders” because those afflicted are considered orphaned by the society. Orphaned in such a way that these Filipino patients do not get the appropriate medical help due mainly to lack of understanding and capabilities of medical facilities and practitioners to cure these diseases. Even the cost of medication is high that many families couldn’t afford the available treatment.

Rare diseases are progressive and long-standing and are usually hereditary or have developed during pregnancy of mothers. Those who have these diseases may appear normal but could develop signs or symptoms later in life. Among the identified diseases by under this category are:

·         6 Pyruvoltetrahydropterin Synthase Deficiency
·         Adrenoleukodystrophy
·         Autoimmune Chronic Active Hepatitis
·         Galactosemia
·         Gaucher Disease
·         Hemophagocytic Lymphohystiocytosis
·         Heperphenylalanemia
·         Heterozygous Cystenuria
·         Holocarboxylase synthase deficiency
·         Homocystenuria
·         Homozygous Cystenouria
·         Lowe Syndrome
·         LSD – Multiple Sulfatase Deficiency
·         Maple Syrup Urine Disorder
·         Methyl Malonic Aciduria
·         Moebius Syndrome
·         Mucolipidosis
·         Mucopolysaccharidosis
·         Niemann pick
·         Osteogenesis Imperfecta
·         Phenylketonuria
·         Pompe Disease
·         Respiratory Chain Complex/Deficiency
·         Tay Sach’s Disease
·         Tyrosinemia
·         Urea Cycle Defects
About 7,000 rare diseases have been identified worldwide and they are mostly caused by genetic defects and environmental exposure during pregnancy or later in life. In the Philippines, there are over 200 Filipinos, mostly children, afflicted with over 20 rare disorders. (IHG-UPM)
There have been initiatives from international organizations and researchers to study and finally find a possible cure for these disorders. Even in the Philippines, a number of medical professionals have dedicated their time and efforts in undertaking researches and clinical studies that would shed light in the understanding and cure of rare diseases. For the past 20 years, the Institute of Human Genetics (IHG) of the University of the Philippines’ National Institute of Health has been spearheading awareness advocacies in the country. With the aid of foreign and local donors, pharmaceutical companies, and non-government organizations, medical practitioners have gained deeper understanding and developed other possible treatment of rare diseases.
In June of 2006, The Philippine Society for Orphan Disorders, Inc. (PSOD) non-profit organization was organized to continue the efforts of these doctors to ensure sustainability of medical and financial support of patients with rare disorders. With the help of IHG and its partner organizations and donors, PSOD aims to be the central network for the advocacy and effective coordination of all viable efforts to sustain a better equality of life for individuals with orphan or rare disorders in the Philippines. (www.psod.org.ph)
This fourth week of February is “National Rare Disease Week” and the commemoration has been going on for three years already. It was Presidential Proclamation No. 1989 signed in February 2010 that paved the way for the yearly awareness advocacy of these diseases. The proclamation underscores the role of the State in protecting and promoting the right to health of the people, including the right of persons suffering from rare diseases to have access to timely information and adequate medical care. PP 1989 also underscores the urgent need to conduct a national information campaign in order to create awareness among health professionals about the nature and management of rare diseases and to instill awareness among the public about rare diseases to generate full support for the special needs of children affected by rare diseases from both public and private sectors. (www.psod.org.ph)
This year’s 3rd National Rare Disease Week carries the theme “Solidarity: Rare But Strong Together” and is spearheaded by the PSOD. The occasion is also a call for involvement on the part of all stakeholders such as relevant governmentagencies, healthcare institutions, local government units, nongovernmentorganizations, the media, and other private and public institutions in the campaign.  
Other activities that would highlight the celebration are as follows:

Part 1 on a workshop series to help improve financial independence of families of patients with rare disease in partnership with Zonta Club of Fort Bonifacio-Taguig.  Personal Financial Planning aims to help the participants  plan their expenditures and budget according to fund flows. The workshop will deal on why plan, why budget in spite  of meager/no resources and how to save  to reach target amount for specific period. Expected output is a  financial plan.

Part 1 of workshop series to help improve caregiving skills for rare disease patients in home setting beginning with parents and caregivers of MPS patients. Organized and implemented by the Philippine Society for Orphan Disorders, Inc. in partnership with Trinity University of Asia-St. Luke's College of Nursing.

Nationwide awareness campaign for the 3rd National Rare Disease Week (Feb 22-29) and 5th World Rare Disease Day (Feb 29). Initiated by the Philippine Society for Orphan Disorders, Inc. and with the support various private and public agencies/organizations.

The “Adopt-A-School Campaign” campaigns aims to encourage local volunteers to present the advocacy on rare diseases among high school students and faculty. The activity also aims to collect signatures in support of the Rare Disease Act of the Philippines among the events beneficiaries. This is a nationwide initiative by the Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health (VYLH) - Philippines. Visit VYLH website for more info.

A preliminary workshop on basic counseling for representatives of various rare disease patient support group within the network of the Philippine Society for Orphan Disorders, Inc. Organized in partnership with Eduk, Inc., Sanghabi and Padayon SSEAYP 2004 (SSEAYPAA).
Workshop on Managing Personal Finances (Part 2 of a series) for Parents of Patients with Rare Disease; in partnership with Zonta Club of Taguig-Fort Bonifacio Entrepreneurship Workshop could be a step in attaining the self- help initiatives thereby  opening opportunities for economic gains. It is aimed at participants to open their minds to think of  entrepreneurship as  self development,  improving the  lives of the families through income augmentation; and  to develop the entrepreneurial traits of  industriousness, innovation and integrity.  The workshop will  imbibe to those who are not predisposed  to entrepreneurship  the entreprene...

Worry-free day for Cornelia de Lange Syndrome and Moebius Syndrome patients and family members in partnership with PSOD's Victory Church network and friends

Workshop on Savings and Investment (Part 3 of a series) for Parents of Patients with Rare Disease; in partnership with Zonta Club of Taguig-Fort Bonifacio Workshop on Savings and Investment Options  is aimed at making the participants think resource optimization. A  menu of  options  shall be discussed to make their money  grow  and work for them.  The workshop will give the participants insights on the wise use of resources.  
For more information about these activities, you may visit www.rarediseaseday.org.
With the concerted effort of government, non-government, private sector, and concerned individuals, the stigma attached to those afflicted with rare diseases will finally be erased as wider and deeper understanding, treatment, and support could finally develop from this national to international and cross-cultural effort of spreading awareness and conducting researches about these arcane diseases.

Miyerkules, Pebrero 15, 2012

25 Microfinance experts finish DAP course

Twenty-five Microfinance practitioners from the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development Mutually Reinforcing Institutions (CARD MRI) received Certificates of Completion of the Course on Productivity and Quality Management from the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP).

Held at the DAP Building on Feb. 14, the ceremonial  awarding was also in recognition of the months of rigorous theoretical and hands-on training undergone by the graduates during the duration of the course.

The Productivity and Quality Management Program (PQMP) of the DAP is intended to assess and strengthen the leadership and managerial skills of Microfinance practitioners that would eventually help to higher outreach and impact on the quality of life of the target micro small entrepreneurs and their households.

With the program’s structured learning experiences and in-plant study approaches in the fusion of theory and practice, plus the strong DAP-CARD MRI partnership, the program is envisioned to yield a pool of managers capable, effective, and results-oriented in the field of Microfinance.

After the awarding, 2006 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee Dr. Jaime Aristotle B. Alip was conferred to the DAP Council of Fellows and will join the institution’s pool of experts that would fortify DAP’s role as the primary government development institution tasked at capacitating individuals in the private and public service.

Dr. Alip has been active in poverty mitigation through the empowerment of rural women. He is Presidential Adviser for Economic Empowerment of the Rural Poor and Managing Director of CARD MRI. 

Huwebes, Pebrero 9, 2012

There is love in Pag-IBIG, and exchange of vows on Valentine’s

Much ado about not having love on Valentine’s Day?

For others, the ado lies not in finding the elusive “one”, but in the preparations needed in tying the knot and finally be proclaimed as “one”.

True to its name, the Pag-IBIG Fund has organized simultaneous mass wedding ceremonies in the country. The nationwide celebration of marital vows, which will be held on February 14, is dubbed “I do, I do. Araw ng Pag-Ibig” and is a timely concelebration of Valentine’s Day—an occasion associated with love and a time when various acts of love and passion are said to have been performed especially by insufferable romantics.

Through the Agency’s mass wedding initiative, Pag-IBIG members would find it more convenient and easier on the budget to finally be married. The high cost of having a wedding and the work and time spent for preparations will be minimized as the said activity will be free of charge and will be held in key points in the country.

Aside from this, the Pag-IBIG Fund will also be giving away house and lot as grand prize to the lucky newly-wed Pag-IBIG members.

Pag-IBIG, short for Home Development Mutual Fund (HMDF), is the government’s primary institution which provides financial assistance to its members through housing loans. It has been instrumental in making the working Filipino’s dream of having his or her own home real.

The event is open   to all Pag-IBIG members. As per Republic Act No. 9679, membership to the Fund shall be mandatory for the following:

a.   All employees, workers, professionals, officers and companies who are compulsorily covered by the SSS and GSIS;
b.   Uniformed members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Bureau of Fire Protection, the Bureau of Jail Management and  Penology, and the Philippine National Police; 
c.   Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs); 
d.   Filipinos employed by foreign-based employers, whether deployed locally or abroad.

The mass wedding shall also include couples who have been married for at least 25 years and wish to renew their vows.

Those who are interested may go to the nearest Pag-IBIG Fund branch to get listed. The couples would need to secure their own marriage license to get included in the final list.

Such a wedding ceremony aims to strenghthen families and establish the importance of marriage in the Filipino culture. The event is also a way of initiating an active participation of the public in the different projects and programs of the government.