Miyerkules, Marso 27, 2013

Feature: Bayani Challenge: A picture of involvement, with stories of giving back

“Helping build and improve communities is my way of giving back after others have helped me rebuild my life.” 

These words were from single mother Tess Malazarte, 46, who is one of the volunteers of the Bayani Challenge 2013— a five-day volunteerism event to showcase the Filipino bayanihan spirit community-building activities. 

Aling Tess, who lost her house in a fire, has been active in outreach projects, especially those conducted by Gawad Kalinga (GK) after she had witnessed the goodness of people who helped her in rebuilding her home and her life. 

After the massive fire in 2010 which destroyed 75 houses in Brgy. 185 in Malaria, Caloocan City, Aling Tess and other affected families were left devastated, unsure of how they would recover from the tragedy. 

It was when the Gawad Kalinga went to them and helped them build their lives again through the framework of volunteerism. 

“The Gawad Kalinga and their volunteers helped us build new homes for ourselves. We, of course, helped the way we could. We were their beneficiaries, but we became volunteers too, helping in rebuilding our community, and helping other communities, as well,” Aling Tess said. 

She added that she is just paying back the help that she received by helping out other people and communities through outreach activities. 

“It feels so good to be of service to others after they have been of service to us,” she added. 

That is why together with her daughter, they have volunteered in the Bayani Challenge at the Intramuros site where they would help in the beautification of the area by repainting the alleys, sidewalks, and walls. 

Aside from reviving the old Filipino practice of bayanihan, Aling Tess said the activity teaches her daughter to engage in meaningful activities rather than engage in vices or other unproductive activities. 

Eda Berriber, 50 years old and a mother of four, is also a volunteer in the Bayani Challenge 2013. 

She is also one of the beneficiaries of GK and among the 75 families from Brgy. 185. 

Now, she is an officer of GK- Silver Heights where they spearhead in the activities conducted by their group. 

“One thing about the Bayani Challenge is that it unites people of different age and economic status to work towards one goal. Here, you could meet a lot of people. The event is not just pure work; there is a fun side, too,” she said. 

Aside from the painting activity, they also get some entertainment with concerts staged in the area at night. 

Aling Eda added that though they provide their own food and other needs, and given the erratic weather of late, they do not mind because what they are doing is meaningful and gives them a sense of fulfillment. 

For her, volunteering in community-building activities has been part of her life after the fire that destroyed their homes. “When we saw the goodness of other people in helping us rebuild our homes, we realized that kindness shouldn’t end with the beneficiary; one should learn to give as well,” she said. 

Now, they have already completed 40 houses in Brgy. 185. In two years time, they project that all the 75 houses will have been constructed. 

“One of the pacts that our community in Brgy. 185 made is that we wouldn’t move to any of the new houses yet unless all houses have been completed,” she said. 

“This is to observe fairness and oneness or “sama-sama” in that endeavor. We want to let each other know that we are together in this project, and no one would be comfortable while the other is still suffering,” she said. 

“That for us is true bayanihan,” she added. “And the Bayani Challenge is just among the many activities we have joined in to further spread bayanihan.” 

The Bayani Challenge is a five-day outreach activity where volunteers build communities for their fellowmen by building and repairing schools, and conducting health missions and climate change mitigation activities. It started last March 23 and will end March 27. 

Under the theme, “Isang Bayan, Isang Bayanihan,” this year’s challenge enjoins around 80,000 participants from all sectors of society to put up to 783 houses in 37 sites, 34 provinces across the country. 

It is an activity under the Pilipinas Natin—the government’s campaign to build a volunteerism movement among Filipinos to effect positive change to the country. 

The Bayani Challenge is among the activities of the government’s Pilipinas Natin launched in 2011 as a response to President Benigno Aquino’s (PNoy) call for the Filipinos to work together in empowering the nation through patriotism and the Filipino concept of “Bayanihan” or working with each other.

Biyernes, Marso 22, 2013

Comelec vouches for security and accuracy of the PCOS system

Commission on Elections (Comelec) Spokesperson, and Information and Education Division Director James Jimenez assured that the PCOS system to be used in the coming elections is secure, fast, and accurate. 

He said this during the Forum of the Association of Information Officers in Metro Manila (AIMM) held Thursday at the San Juan City Government Multi-Purpose Hall. 

In his presentation, Jimenez explained the features of the PCOS or the Precinct Count Optical Scan—the configuration to be used in the midterm automated election set in May this year. 

He explained that the PCOS is made of ultraviolet (UV) sensors which detect security marks. The said sensors will be able to check the authenticity of the ballots, forcing it to eject the ballot if it sensed it to be fake. 

He also added that the PCOS has a dual back-up system which records the image of the ballot fed in the machine. It has a sort of a camera which takes snapshots of the ballots fed in the machine. 

This back-up could be used in verifying, counterchecking, or recounting of the ballots. 

Given these features, Jimenez reaffirmed that the PCOS is much safer, faster, and more accurate as compared to the traditional manual system, which could be easily tampered. 

It also takes more time to get the results in the manual voting compared to the PCOS which could take as fast as 15 minutes to get the total number of votes per precinct. 

To ensure the security of the PCOS machines, these are checked thrice prior to the actual election: at the Comelec before deployment to election precincts, upon deployment, and on election day. 

Meanwhile, the Department of Science of Technology (DOST) is planning to develop a locally-made election machine that could be used in the next elections. 

The forum was participated by information officers of various local government units and national government agencies in the Nation Capital Region who are members of the AIMM. 

Also present during the event was Undersecretary Fortunato dela Pena of the DOST. 

Lunes, Marso 18, 2013

Anti-vote buying mass held at Q.C. church to promote electoral honesty and integrity

The St. Peter’s Parish Church in Commonwealth, Quezon City held an Anti-Vote Buying Mass Sunday, March 17. 

Organized by the Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership in partnership with the Diocese of Novaliches, Diocese of Cubao, Ateneo School of Government, and the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV); the mass is in promotion of transparency, accountability, and good governance in the coming May election by shunning vote buying. 

The mass, which was held at 12 noon, was officiated by Most Reverend Bishop Antonio Tobias of the diocese of Novaliches and Most Reverend Honesto Ongtiangco of the diocese of Cubao. 

In his homily, Bishop Tobias challenged the candidates not to resort to vote buying just to hold position in government. He said that such act is a sign of hunger for power, and a candidate who buys vote can never lead his/her constituency to progress. 

He further said that any official who spends money or any form of service just to be voted to office is a person with questionable intent because once voted to office, this official might “Just try to redeem all their expenses during the elections, one way or another.” 

Tobias reiterated that people are just waiting for candidates who will pay or shoulder various services (education, health, etc.) in exchange of their votes. 

Instead of vote buying, candidates should communicate with the people and discuss their real needs. Once elected, the officials should give their all and do what they could to provide for long-term solutions to the problems of their community. 

In support of the advocacy against vote-buying, Tobias assured the mass attenders the church is in full support of the campaigns for honest and ethical elections. 

Election candidates present during the mass also pledged their commitment to reject vote buying. The candidate’s pledge was led by QC Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte. 

After the pledge, the candidates signed the Anti-Vote Buying Covenant, which binds them to observe the values of integrity, honesty, and justice in the coming elections. 

After the candidate’s pledge, the mass goers and the church officials also took their pledge in shunning vote buying and other forms of dishonesty. 

Harvey Keh of the Kaya Natin Movement and the Ateneo School of Government said that similar masses will be conducted in different parishes to further spread the message of subscribing to good governance and electoral integrity.