UP to hold the 5th National Communication Research Conference


The Department of Communication Research of the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication (UP CMC) is holding the 5th National Communication Research Conference in Baguio City on 22 to 25 November 2017. This year’s theme is “Filipino Communicative Experience,” in time for the country’s 120th Year of Independence next year.

Over 600 communication and media students, faculty members, and professionals are expected to participate in the two-day main conference on 23 and 24 November 2017 where seven plenary speakers, ten competition papers, and 66 parallel session papers will be presented at the University of Cordilleras Main Campus (UCMC). Two parallel pre-conference workshops on research reporting will be held on 22 November at the UCMC and two post-conference workshops on research design will be held simultaneously on 25 November at the University of the Philippines Baguio (for students) and at the University of Baguio (for graduate students and faculty members).

Hon. Mark O. Go, Representative of the Lone District of Baguio City, will give the Opening Keynote Remarks. Professor Maria Cecilia Gastardo-Conaco, PhD, 2017 Gawad Tsanselor para sa Natatanging Guro awardee of UP Diliman, will talk about Filipino values and social media during her keynote marks at the Closing Ceremony.

Interested parties can contact the NCRC2017 Secretariat at ncrc@up.edu.ph or visit https://www.facebook.com/NCRCPhilippines/ for information about the conference.

The onsite non-refundable registration fee is P500. It covers the conference kit which includes the Book of Abstracts, a conference ID, the certificate of attendance, a pen, and a small notebook.

The NCRC is being staged together with the College of Arts and Communication of the University of the Philippines Baguio, the University of the Cordilleras, and the Philippines Communication Society. The Philippine Press Institute is NCRC’s press partner.

Now on its fifth year, the NCRC is the geographical expansion of the Communication Research Student Conference, first held in 2008. It is the first time that NCRC is being held outside the UP Diliman campus.

The NCRC is endorsed by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and its organizer, the Department of Communication Research is a CHED Center of Excellence in Communication. It has received a Quill Award on Communication Training and Education from the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC).


For more information contact:
Contact Person
Fernando Paragas, PhD, Program & Publicity Team Head
National Communication Research Conference 2017
Email fcparagas@up.edu.ph
Phone 981-8500 loc 2671
(PPI as official media partner)

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JASCOR Gets a Quill

PPI-Holcim JASCOR Awards for FB

JASCOR Gets a Quill

By Tess Bacalla

Stories that made the cut in the 2014 and 2015 Journalism Awards for Sustainable Construction, otherwise known as JASCOR, were collectively recognized at the recently concluded 2017 Philippine Quill Awards for Communications Skills — Publication Category.

Holcim Philippines, the building solutions company that funds JASCOR and a member of LafargeHolcim Holcim Group, a global leader in the construction materials industry, received the Philippine Quill award from the local division of the International Association of Business Communicators during the 15th Philippine Quill Awards held at the Marriott Hotel in Manila.

The Philippine Quill is considered the most prestigious award in business communication in the country.

JASCOR is a joint undertaking of Holcim Philippines and the Philippine Press Institute, the country’s biggest national association of newspapers. It  aims to recognize stories from the print media that help generate increased public awareness of the concept of sustainable construction and relevant issues.

One of JASCOR’s winning stories — which bagged the annual competition’s 2015 grand prize in the national newspaper category — is an inspiring piece, “Strong, cheap homes for ‘Yolanda’ victims,” penned by Philippine Daily Inquirer correspondent Mozart Pastrano, that gave the nod to the “wisdom of vernacular architecture”.

Take that to mean — in the case of some of the survivors of typhoon Yolanda (international code name: Haiyan), which packed winds exceeding 300 kph and toppled just about every structure in its path — new and sturdier homes that leveraged indigenous innovations, making “passive cooling, natural lighting and ventilation” possible. The structures, built where old and typhoon-shattered ones used to stand, were designed to withstand winds up to 250 kph and are a “pioneering community-driven approach to recovery and rehabilitation.”

Nanay Marina, the proud owner of one of these structures, beamed with pride on seeing her newly minted house for the first time, a collective achievement of a community of survivors who put their hands together to build their homes, assisted by UN Habitat.

Gone are the scraps that made up what had been her home for close to two decades until it was levelled to the ground by the 2014 super typhoon. “Now we can go on with our lives,” said the then 69-year-old  resident of Barangay Baybay, Roxas City, in the Capiz Province, one of the areas ravaged by the typhoon.

In her winning story, Business Mirror correspondent Marilou Guieb, sharing top honors in the national newspaper category with Pastrano — described, in great detail, one of the remaining “pockets of green and spiritual spaces” in the City of Pines, now hobbled by a slow but steady shift from the once chilly air to “concrete island heat (and) pine-clad open spaces to traffic snarls.”

In her piece, titled “The Maryknoll nuns’ Earth House provides calm in a city of chaos,” the Baguio City-based journalist talked about an ecological sanctuary that is at the heart of the Cosmic Journey, a guided tour organized by the religious order, comprising 14 stations that “go back in time, featuring “pathways strewn with flowers and ferns and shaded by towering pine trees.”
The ecological stroll winds down at the Earth House, an interesting and innovative “mix of old architectural wisdom and modern construction,” showcasing sustainable construction.      

The builder, neither an architect nor an engineer, and admittedly “totally naïve about construction,” was given free hand by the directress of the Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary,

Emma Villanueva, who lived near the Maryknoll compound and whose kitchen cafe that she personally designed impressed the Maryknoll nuns, embarked on her own creative journey when she was tapped by the latter to build and design the Earth House.

Among others, she experimented with clay soil, sand, and straw until she came up with the right formula for creating bricks that remained intact even when dropped to the ground. The resulting mud bricks reinforced the bamboo slats that formed the walls. Shards of used wine bottles and discarded jars — featuring an array of colors — were tucked into the bamboo weaves, letting natural light in while enhancing the aesthetic look of the entire structure.

Broken Italian tiles that sold for P40 per box, and which were cut to the desired sizes and shapes, formed the sink while natural dyes in their organic hues that gave the house an even more impressive look were extracted from plants — knowledge of which came in handy, thanks to village women familiar with these plants. Other notable features of the earthen house were cogon roofing fitted with sprinklers, and solar panels given freely by a local distributor, one of many who donated time and effort to building the house.

“If she can do it with just mud, sand and water, so can communities, and governments—and no one needs to be ever homeless,” concluded Guieb.

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Holcim Davao supports Habitat for Humanity Philippines housing project for the new Matigsalug-Manobo tribal village


Building solutions provider Holcim Philippines, Inc. supported a project by non-profit organization Habitat for Humanity Philippines, Inc. funded by the Embassy of Brunei Darussalam to build a tribal village in Marilog District, Davao City for 47 Matigsalug-Manobo families who lost homes to typhoon Pablo.

Holcim Davao donated 142 tons of cement in March 2017 for the production of a concrete pathway and other masonry needs for the communal facilities of the village Barangay Baganihan. The tribal village is a collaborative effort of National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, BLGU-Baganihan, Matigsalug-Manobo Tribal People Council of Elders, Inc. and supported by the City Government of Davao. The project is set to be completed and turned over to the families in June 2017.

Holcim Davao Plant Manager Xavier Kennedy said donation is in line with the company’s commitment to help the country build better and to support noble efforts related to construction such as that of Habitat for Humanity Philippines.

Atty. Abdussabor Sawadjaan, Jr., Habitat’s Program Manager for Davao and Caraga Regions, expressed his appreciation to Holcim Philippines for the support extended to the organization and most specifically to the Matigsalug-Manobo tribe.

“The assistance given will uplift the dignity of the project partner to own a simple, decent and resilient housing unit that will enable them to make a home for their family, without fear of being displaced and be vulnerable to any calamities,” he said.

The Matigsalug-Manobo tribe expressed their appreciation to Habitat for Humanity Philippines through “bayanihan” activities such as sacking of aggregates and cement and delivery of construction materials to the project site, 400 meters away from the giant eagle statue along the Bukidnon-Davao national highway.

Atty. Sawadjaan, Jr. further stated that the project will adopt a “Single Detached Bamboo Reinforced House” design duly approved by National Housing Authority and the Department of Public Works and Highways.

“This design is simple, durable and environment-friendly. It is a permanent and structurally sound shelter structure with floor area of 25 square meters with reinforced concrete for column, footing and a roof beam. The design, standards and specifications are in compliance with National Building Code,” he added.

The design of the tribal village was culturally inspired, respecting the Matigsalug-Manobo affinity to nature. Atty. Sawadjaan plans to work with the community in developing the tribal village as a tourist destination that showcases the tribe’s tradition and culture. The project partners are willing to be educated and to engage in potential livelihood programs in order to alleviate their living condition.

About Holcim Philippines

Holcim Philippines, Inc. (Philippine Stock Exchange: HLCM) is one of the leading construction solution companies in the country. The Company has a wide range of innovative construction solutions that help homeowners to large- contractors in their building needs.

With cement manufacturing facilities in La Union, Bulacan, Misamis Oriental and Davao, mobile concrete ready-mix facilities and an aggregates business backed by a strong nationwide network of dealers, Holcim Philippines is a reliable partner of builders in the country. Holcim Philippines is also committed to the highest standards of sustainable operations and manufacturing excellence with its plants certified under ISO 14001:2004 (Environmental Management System), ISO 9001:2008 (Quality Management System) and OHSAS 18001:2007 (Occupational Health and Safety Management System).

Holcim Philippines is a member of the LafargeHolcim Group, the world leader in the building materials industry present in 80 countries with over 90,000 employees.



Ritzi Villarico Ronquillo, APR
Head, Communication and Corporate Affairs

Don Gil Carreon
Media Relations and Financial Communications Officer

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Rebuilding Lumad’s Dismantled Rights, One Story at a Time


For decades, indigenous peoples (IP), or lumad, in the country have endured systemic neglect and discrimination. Some of the physical structures that are meant to serve their collective needs such as education are a testament to this sad reality.

Imagine a school that looks more like a shed, with only a roof over it and an unpaved ground that easily turns murky when rain pours.

Despite these constraints — emblematic of what is widely perceived as state neglect, compounded by societal apathy — the school is used simultaneously by primary and secondary students belonging to seven tribes. Only a makeshift wall divides them while learning lessons that are in keeping with their culture, alongside government-mandated subjects.

The Bukidnon-based Mindanao Tribal School, Inc. (MTSI), a private school measuring only 8 by 20 meters and located on a four-hectare piece of property, reflects both the aspirations and struggles of the IP communities in the country to preserve their collective identity while fighting various forms of discrimination.

Right beside this facility is the administration office that also functions as a library, made from recycled wood and nipa shingles.
MTSI seeks to impart to its students the lumad traditions, belief system, and other forms of traditional knowledge and wisdom handed down through many generations.

The school, in its current form, is borne of “the social neglect (suffered by the Manobo and other indigenous groups whose children go to the school),” said Amelia Bojo, president of the MTSI and one of the volunteer teachers in the school.

Yet the communities involved, notably the Manobo, have learned to “harness our own initiative and ingenuity to acquire building materials,’’ which included salvaged tin sheets and other construction materials, she said.

“You can’t talk about inclusive infrastructure when the social structures are exclusive (or discriminatory), said Easterluna Luz Canoy, executive director of Kitanglad Integrated NGOS, which seeks to promote the rights and well-being of IPs.

The social exclusion of indigenous communities in the country has resulted in inadequate access to basic services like housing, health, and education, said Canoy, who has at least three decades of working among IPs tucked under the belt.

Bojo, who also teaches at the Central Mindanao University in Bukidnon, admitted that the school, as it stands today, is “not reflective of who they (the lumad) are but who they have become” in the face of historical neglect.

Still, the IPs hope to see a school building rise that truly conforms to their own design, with a tree plantation, garden, dormitory and other facilities that should comprise what is called a School Living Traditions, which transmits indigenous skills and techniques to the young.

Participants to the seminar-workshop on sustainable construction reporting organized by the Philippine Press Institute (PPI) recently, in partnership with Holcim Philippines, in Malaybalay, Bukidnon, witnessed the situation confronting the lumad and gained insights into their dedication to building structures that truly reflect their identity and aspirations as a people.

A visit to the MTSI in Panadtalan, Maramag town — about an hour and a half drive away from the provincial capital — afforded the journalists such an opportunity. They soon found that the school had little to show by way of modern amenities. Yet, here, said Bojo, students “find their identity, a sense of belonging.” She added that it is “a source of pride, so the students endure the difficulties.”

The Japan International Cooperation Agency once offered to build a school for the indigenous peoples on this side of Mindanao, but required the use of its own design, prompting the lumad to turn down the offer, said Bojo.

The seminar-workshop brought into focus infrastructure reporting through the lens of sustainable and inclusive development. Stories, for instance, that bring to the fore the aspirations of the lumad even as they build their own facilities should impress on the readers that physical structures are more than just facilities but are expressions of who they are as indigenous communities.

The visit to MITSI was one of the highlights of the Mindanao leg of the seminar-workshop, themed “Taking the High Road to Constructing Reporting” organized by PPI and Holcim, a major cement and aggregates company.

Some 20 participants from different provinces within the island region got a deeper glimpse into the plight of some of the indigenous tribes, including the the Manobo, in Mindanao. They learned how the latter’s culture intersects even with the designs of their facilities including those for their communal use.

The media seminar was previously held in Bulacan, where the Luzon-based participants looked into issues surrounding resettlement facilities being provided by the government for informal settler families. The final leg of the training was conducted in Tagbilaran, Bohol, where the Visayas participants looked into the situation of the disaster-affected parts of the province almost three years since it was hit by an earthquake.

The seminar stressed that media coverage of the construction industry has largely focused on the physical and technical aspects, often citing details such as the magnitude of a project, its target cost, date of completion, and the technology used, among others.

It was hoped that journalists would explore more interesting stories, such as those that highlight how a planned infrastructure project could impact a community, for good or ill. Such an approach forms the essence of civic journalism, PPI’s flagship program.

“In civic journalism, we give voice to the people. We owe it to the public to present stories that resonate with them — stories that would be useful for them even if their subjects, such as construction, may not be deemed ‘sexy’,” said PPI training director Tess Bacalla.

The seminar therefore sough to challenge the media to explore unreported or underreported issues revolving around the construction industry through the prism of inclusive growth.

Target issues for sustainable construction

Don Carreon, Holcim’s media specialist, discussed the five “target issues” that underpin sustainable construction. An infrastructure project, he said, should demonstrate innovative concepts in terms of design, materials and methods which should be transferable to other applications.

Efficient and nature-friendly use of natural resources is also vital to any sustainable construction project, aside from its aesthetic impact as a form of cultural expression. The industry must also exercise flexibility to adapt to change, Carreon added.

Equally important in the sustainable construction is the participation of communities in construction or infrastructure development efforts to ensure social inclusion at all stages.
Dr. Adoracion Navarro, senior fellow of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, a public think tank, provided a macro perspective on infrastructure issues affecting the country during the seminar. The construction sector contributes about 6 percent of the GDP, an indication of the enormous role it plays in the pursuit of economic growth.

She said Mindanao has seen more construction projects being undertaken by the government. Yet, such efforts have not necessarily translated to inclusive growth, especially for indigenous communities.


Tess Bacalla/PPI (With contribution from Ron Lopez)

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Construction Reporting: Nailing It Right


Think construction reporting, and what comes to mind?

Carl Jerome Maroma, a correspondent for CLTV36, used to think it was all about crafting a story about an infrastructure project and relevant details. He has since had a rethink.

Construction reporting is often associated with stories focusing on the physical and technical aspects of an infrastructure work, often highlighting details such as the magnitude of a project, costs, target dates of completion, impressive specifications, and industry performance vis-a-vis GDP growth, among others.

But while it is essential to see the industry as a vital cog in sustainable development, it is largely off the radar of some members of the media looking into the industry. Maroma was no exception.

The challenge for the press is to explore unreported or underreported stories revolving around the industry, using the lens of sustainable development.

This was the highlight of the Luzon round of the seminar-workshop series on construction reporting organized by the Philippine Press Institute (PPI), in partnership with Holcim Philippines, on April 27-29 in Pandi, Bulacan. Maroma was one of around 20 participants in the seminar, themed “Taking the High Road to Better Construction Stories”.

The Mindanao and Visayas legs of the PPi-Holcim seminar will be held in Malaybalay, Bukidnon and Tagbilaran City in Bohol province on May 18-20 and May 24-26, respectively.

Veteran journalist and PPI training director Tess Bacalla said construction reporting should go beyond the “usual”, or superficial, stories that often deal mainly with the physical and technical side, without going deeper to unearth issues that lend themselves to more interesting and nuanced stories, and thus to broader public discussion, around the industry.

“Target issues”

Don Gil Carreon, media relations specialist at Holcim Philippines, a cement and aggregates company, said there are five “target issues” that underpin sustainable construction.

These include the efficient and sensible use of resources as well as the participation of communities in construction or infrastructure development efforts to ensure social inclusion at all stages.

An infrastructure project, he said, should also demonstrate innovative concepts in terms of design, materials and methods, and should be transferable to a range of other applications.

Efficient use of natural resources and reduction of harm to the environment are also vital to any sustainable construction project, aside from aesthetic impact as a form of cultural expression. The industry must also exercise flexibility to adapt to change, Carreon said.

Against this backdrop, journalists, for instance, could write a story on how a particular infrastructure project affects or alters the way of living of people in a community such as schools and relocation sites for informal settler families (ISFs).

The province of Bulacan, including municipalities like Pandi, is home to thousands of ISFs from Metro Manila.

The challenge for the media is to find an interesting topic for a construction-related story. Such a story could resonate with readers even if they are not involved in the construction sector, Bacalla said.

It is also important to tell stories from the perspective of ordinary citizens who could be affected by, or benefit from, construction or infrastructure projects. Construction stories that amplify the voices of ordinary folk, or put them at the center of the equation, also highlight the important role of the media in training the public spotlight on important issues involving the industry. Putting a human face on such issues could also set one’s work apart from those of others in the media, Bacalla said.

Links to inclusive growth

Dr. Adoracion Navarro, senior research fellow of the Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS), a public think tank, highlighted the links between infrastructure and inclusive growth.
Navarro said that physical infrastructure, including housing, transportation and telecommunications networks, promotes inclusive growth by facilitating connectivity and enhancing livelihood opportunities for the public.

These infrastructure also stimulate mobility and speed up delivery, and overall cost, of production inputs.

However, infrastructure spending is growing at a slow rate in the country, Navarro said.

"We have monitored some growth in the number of infrastructure projects under the Aquino administration, especially with the roll-out of public-private partnership (PPP) scheme, but it is still not enough," she said.

As of April 2016, at least 12 infrastructure projects under the PPP initiatives have been awarded, including the P24.40-billion Bulacan Bulk Water Supply Project. The majority of proposed projects are still in their early stages, PPP records showed.

The Philippines is at third to the last rung in terms of quality of roads, air transport, port and railroad infrastructure among the ten member-nations of the Association of Southeast Asian, Navarro noted.

Informal settlers

Another infrastructure-related area where much need to be done is the resettlement of informal settlers in urban areas, particularly in Metro Manila.

The choice of Pandi, a second-class municipality in Bulacan, as seminar venue afforded the participants the chance to visit a resettlement site for informal settler families and witness firsthand how the lack of an inclusive approach to their relocation, including inadequate facilities on-site, has impacted the affected families.
Prior to the field visit, Kreeger Bonagua, deputy lead coordinator of the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP), gave an overview of the current interventions of the government to address the needs of ISFs, including those living in danger areas or displaced due to government projects.

Bonagua said that while half the Philippine population, estimated at close to 102 million, are now living in urban areas, at least 15 percent of them are ISFs. The urbanization has been spawned by several factors, including migration from rural areas, in hopes of better opportunities, he said.

“It turns out that there are many stories on construction aside from the usual reporting about infrastructure projects. Talking to people affected by a project is a good start,” Maroma, the CLTV36 correspondent, said.

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(Part 2) Different parties, different strokes Local pols (re)imagine CdO’s mental-health facility, program


Different parties, different strokes Local pols (re)imagine CdO’s mental-health facility, program

Last of two parts

By Lina Sagaral Reyes Contributor

(The first part presented the perspectives of the Centrist Democratic Party.)

To build or not to build a mental health facility is no longer a question among politicos in Cagayan de Oro City in Mindanao. All the three contending political parties in the coming May 2016 elections agree the time is ripe to build one.

The Centrist Democratic Party (CDP), Liberal Party (LP) and the Padayon Pilipino Party (PPP) have all claimed that constructing a mental hospital is among their to-do list, should their candidates win.

But the three political organizations differ in their strategies to fulfill the promise of a public facility deemed to improve access to mental health services for the city’s population of almost 700,000, who are living in communities that bear the brunt of mental health disorders, some of which are drug-abuse related.

Liberal Party: Access to mental health services as top priority social service

During a radio debate this month, lawyer Edgar Cabanlas, a city councilor who is running for Congress representative in the second district, crowed that “building a mental health facility is top priority under social services” for the LP.

Cabanlas was first to respond to a question posed by Satur Elumba, parish priest of the Metropolitan Cathedral of St. Augustine and the city church’s director of social action. Elumba asked the candidates’ word on what he described as “a barely visible, rarely-talked about but nevertheless a present problem besetting the city.”

Cabanlas further said that the local LP envisions a mental hospital that will rehabilitate drug dependents and also treat the mentally challenged. “This is a big problem, I agree. I have seen the detention cell for those mentally deranged, er, mentally challenged and there are five to six per cell and it is very difficult as they would quarrel within the crowded space,” he recalled.

LP standard-bearer Mayor Oscar Moreno relinquished the chairmanship of the Local Government Codemandated Local Health Board (LHB) in January last year, and appointed his cousin Dr. Ramon Moreno, NMMC director, as LHB chair instead.

For the city’s mental health advocates, the move was fortuitous as Dr. Moreno was keen on implementing the WHO Mental Health Gap Action Program (mhGAP), an intervention strategy developed for low- and middle-income countries to scale up access to mental health services by the poor even in settings without medical specialists.

Dr. Ed Tolentino, former president of the Philippine Psychiatry Association, reported at an ASEAN conference that, in the Philippines, there is barely a single psychiatrist for every population of 100,000 (ratio of .69 psychiatrist per 100,000). In Cagayan de Oro, there are only four psychiatrists serving a population of almost 700,000. The psychiatrists further serve the wider Northern Mindanao population of more than four million.

Dr. Moreno also pushed for a mental health committee whose membership included multi-sectoral stakeholders including persons living with mental disorders and family members. Among the stakeholders were members of the group Mental Health Advocates, who drafted a program that is mhAP-informed and community-based. The mental health program’s features include barangay-based research and trainings for non-specialists, including barangay health workers and midwives, nurses and medical general practitioners on basic interventions for common mental health and neurological conditions.

In November last year, Mayor Moreno sought the LHB’s endorsement to build a facility on a city-owned 10-hectare area on the borders of Barangays Puerto and Mambatangan, with funding from the DOH’s sin tax’s bonanza. His cousin Dr. Moreno was more keen on focusing financial and technical support to HOHFI, which the city government has been supporting since 1998 with a yearly P300,000-subsidy, plus the salaries for three psychiatric nurses and monthly rice supply.

Teddy Sabuga-a, city social work and development officer and a member of the technical working group, stressed that there won’t be any conflict between the mayor’s plan and the HOHFI. “The city-run facility will be for those suffering from severe and acute episodes while the House of Hope is custodial,” said Sabuga-a. According to the DOH licensing division, mental health facilities are classified into services for acute/chronic or custodial. The former services clients who are suffering from the acute episode or severe symptoms of a mental disorder while custodial facility provides long-term but temporary shelter, food, clothing and medicines.

Padayon Pilipino Party: ‘A locally run mental health facility’

Padayon Pilipiino’s Ramon Tabor, also a congressional candidate for the second district told listeners during the same radio debate that he is aware of the mental-health concerns. ‘’It is within our party’s radar as everywhere and every time we go campaigning house-to-house, there is always someone who would ask if there is a plan to build a public mental-health facility,” he said.

Tabor emphasized that the hospital should be “purely specializing in treating mental cases, and situated in a far place, to give opportunity for patients to be rehabilitated.”

Like the other candidates from the CDP and LP, Tabor thinks the initial capital for the hospital can be sourced from the DOH. ‘’And before all these, there has to be a study, we must dig deeper why – let’s see – is this because of drugs? Poverty? Social Problems?

“I mean, the solution to this problem is not merely a hospital. We have to create a holistic approach that will address the present problem of our city,’’ Tabor stressed.

As one of the PPP’s campaign managers, councilor and LHB member Dante Pajo told MDN that his party is all for the construction of a mental hospital that will be built with local funds and managed locally.

‘’And why not? We have the resources. The city government can afford it and the Local government Code mandates the devolution of health services.’’

He reminded MDN that mental health has been a concern of the PPP patriarch Vicente Emano, who is seeking for re-election as mayor. “It was during the administration of Emano in 1998 that an ordinance institutionalized the support for the House of Hope,” said Pajo.

‘’It was a partnership that worked well. Another ordinance pushed for funds to construct the first building to house the first batch of clients,” he added.

Pajo further recalled that under mayor Constantino Jaraula, also a PPP stalwart, the city, together with the Rotary Club, spearheaded the pipework that assured water supply from the local water district system for HOHFI in 2009. He further assured that an Emano-led administration won’t abandon the HOHFI. ‘’Even if we will construct our own public mental hospital, we will see to it that we continue to support the House of Hope. We will even increase the subsidy.

‘’After almost 20 years, it is high time we increase the funding for the House through an ordinance amending the previous one. But first, we have to make sure Mayor Dongkoy gets elected as mayor again. Foremost in our agenda in Dongkoy’s re-election. All the rest will fall into place,’’ Pajo said.

This reportage is made possible by a grant from the Philippine Press Institute (PPI) to MDN contributing reporter Lina Sagaral Reyes

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(Part 1) Different parties, different strokes Local pols (re)imagine CdO’s mental-health facility, program


Reportage for this series, originally published by Business week Mindanao and Mindanao Daily News on April 30 and May 4, was made possible through a modest grant from PPI to help member publications' reporters or contributors  explore both unreported and underreported issues that are relevant to the Philippine elections. The following two-part series focuses on what candidates in Cagayan de Oro City running on specific platforms plan to do about the rising mental health concerns in the province.

Different parties, different strokes Local pols (re)imagine CdO’s mental-health facility, program

First of a two-part series

By Lina Sagaral Reyes Contributor

To build or not to build a mental health facility is no longer a question among politicos in Cagayan de Oro City in Mindanao. All the three contending political parties in the coming May 2016 elections agree the time is ripe to build one.

The Centrist Democratic Party (CDP), Liberal Party (LP) and the Padayon Pilipino Party (PPP) have all claimed that constructing a mental hospital is among their to-do list, should their candidates win.

But the three political organizations differ in their strategies to fulfill the promise of a public facility deemed to improve access to mental health services for the city’s population of almost 700,000, who are living in communities that bear the brunt of mental health disorders, some of which are drug-abuse related.

Quoting the World Health Organization (WHO), epidemiologist Aileen Alfonso Duldulao in a study of clients data at a local psychiatric facility here noted that “(I)n the Philippines, the need for in-patient psychiatric care is severely unmet. According to the 2014 Mental Health Atlas Country Profile for the Philippines, there were only 3 inpatient mental hospitals, 14 psychiatric units in general hospitals, and 15 inpatient residential care facilities to serve a population of over 100 million.”

In Mindanao, the 200-bed Davao Mental Hospital at the Southern Philippines Medical Center compound is the only public psychiatric facility. While in Cagayan de Oro City, the Catholic-owned 100-bed House of Hope Foundation Inc. (HoHFI) custodial facility provides services to clients from Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental and other provinces in Northern and Western Mindanao. A residential treatment and rehabilitation center managed by the Department of Health and three other private residential centers treat the drug-addicted. Ironically, the Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC) does not have a psychiatric ward nor a psychiatrist on its medical staff.

Centrist Democratic Party: Mental health as part of full/total health

For Rufus Rodriguez, CDP president and mayoralty candidate, the health of a community is incomplete without considering the mental health of its residents. He told MDN that health-care has been always his priority. During his three terms in Congress as representative for the second district of Cagayan de Oro, he has filed more than 30 health-related bills in Congress.

During the 15th and 16th Congresses, he and his brother Maximo, party-list representative for Abante Mindanao, co-sponsored a bill (HBs #3390 and #4051, respectively) that provided for a national mental health-care delivery system. In both instances, the bill suffered a stillbirth, and did not muster a second reading. Until now, the country still does not have a stand-alone law on mental health, an anomaly that it shares with half of the member-countries of the United Nations.

Providing health services, including a mental health facility, is foremost in the HEED, the acronym of CDP’s umbrella agenda for action. “The HEED agenda were developed by listening to our constituents through consultations and heeding their demands. HEED stands for the priority programs: Health, Education, Employment and Dwelling,” Rodriguez told MDN.

He also bats for annexing the HoHFI to the NMMC. “That is, if the Archdiocese who owns the facility is bent on a public-private partnership. It (HoHFI) can be annexed to the NMMC and would draw its funds from the national budget,” Rodriguez suggested.

Rodriguez explained that “if the city’s future mental health facility is nationalized, local funds can thus be focused on (building and maintaining) two more district primary health-care hospitals in Lumbia and Tablon so that the JR Borja City Hospital can be de-clogged and medical services are more accessible to residents of remote barangays.”

During a radio debate among candidates early this month, Maximo, who is running for a Congressional seat, stressed that “there is a need to reform the policy on health and make it more inclusive, to include mental health.”

He further said, expounding on his brother’s idea, that the JR Borja City Hospital can be “nationalized and a wing can be added to the present hospital building and (this wing) could house the city’s mental health unit.” He further said funding can be accessed from the DOH.

“So the House of Hope can be annexed to NMMC and can serve the region while the future JR Borja mental health unit can cater to the needs of the people of the city,” summed up Rufus.

The Rodriguez brothers further committed to enforcing rights-based approaches in local mental healthrelated policies, protecting the basic human rights of persons living with mental disorders, particularly their rights to housing and organizing, and the inclusion and participation of these individuals and family members in policy-making.

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No votes cast for lumads in evacuation center


This story, originally published by Mindanao Times on April 30, 2016, was made possible through a PPI grant intended to help journalists from member publications to explore both unreported and underreported stories under the Philippines elections. As the following article shows, the plight of Lumad who were desplaced from their communities and therefore would not be able to take part in the coming vote, despite their eagerness to do so and hopes for a better life under a new set of leaders, is sadly, one such story. Please read on.

“All I hope is peace. No armed men in our community and children in school.”

This is the dream of Sheena Balite, 11, from the Ata-Manobo tribe of Talaingod, Davao del Norte, for the next set of local officials to accomplish.

Life has not been easy for Sheena. Her family which is composed of his father and three mothers, 13 siblings, has to leave their community and temporarily take refuge at the UCCP Haran compound.

Her trials were also experienced by Nelin Sampag, 31, a resident of Kapalong, Davao del Norte, a mother of three kids.

About 800 individuals are now temporarily seeking protection in the UCCP Haran compound. Of the 800, 300 are children and the remaining 500 are adults. All the adults cannot cast their votes on May 9.

Sampag, a registered voter since 1990’s, said that she wanted to cast her vote to elect a president that could help them attain peace in their villages for the future and safety of her children.


INFOGRAPHIC. The figure of the Commission on Elections showed that Davao Occidental has the highest number of registered indigenous people in the region with 5,707, followed by Compostela Valley with 2,236, Davao del Sur with 2,000, Davao del Norte with 317, then Davao Oriental with 79 registered lumads.

But she will not take the risk to return to their community to vote.“Going back home is dangerous, I just want my family to be safe from violence and we will not be returning until our community is secured, but I hoped that the winning candidates will adhere to the appeals of the lumads,” Sampag said.Meanwhile, Datu Kaylo Buntolan, of Talaingod, was worried if he will be delisted from the records of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) as he is also among the evacuees who might not be able to vote in the coming May elections.“Since I know that I cannot vote because I am staying here at Haran for my security, I am concerned with my records from the Comelec,” said Buntolan adding that “what will happen to my records?”


LUMAD REFUGEES. Six out of 100 lumads were evacuated from their homes as they were driven away by the alleged militarization and now currently taking shelter at the UCCP Haran.

Lumads’ disenfranchisementLawyer Marlon Casquejo, assistant regional director of the Comelec 11, said that displaced lumads will not be automatically disenfranchised because a voter will be deactivated if they fail to cast their vote in the last two elections.“The same process as with any other registered voter. We are guided by our own Comelec rules that if a person failed to vote twice then that person is due for deactivation from our records,” Casquejo said.


TATA Manayab breastfeeds her 2-year old son Demon while waiting for medical attention inside a makeshift clinic at UCCP Haran compound, Padre Selga Street, Davao City on February 24, 2016. Demon suffered burns in his hands and face after unidentified men torched their camp where they are seeking refuge. MindaNews photo by TOTO LOZANO

The data of the Comelec showed that there are 10,339 indigenous people who are registered in davao Region.

Comelec Commissioner Luie Guia, during the 9th Congress of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), earlier said that they are trying to resolve the case as the numbers of the IDPs are substantial enough to swing polls.

However, Casquejo told TIMES that the Comelec failed to stretch the law for the lumads since based on the law it does not consider the natural mobility of people such as migrant workers and students, as well as internally displaced persons, or those forcibly dislocated by disasters or conflicts.

Under the Omnibus Election Code, voters can only fill in the ballots at the precinct where they are registered, except for some special circumstances such as the local absentee voting program.

Casquejo also hoped that the displaced lumads could vote since many of them want to return home and their participation in the election is very important so they could elect their local official who could help them but they are afraid of the attacks and the poll body cannot force the lumads to go back to their community because the poll body could not assure their security.

People in Haran are not displaced

But lawyer Geroncio R. Aguio, regional director of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples-11 (NCIP-11), said that lumad refugees in Haran are not displaced and the attacks in their community are not true.

“Lumads in Haran is not considered displaced, nag-bakasyon lang jud sila dira sa Haran, kay dapat i-declare sa local government nga naay displacement sa ilang lugar tungod sa kagubot or disasters pero wala man juy decleration gikan sa local government,” Aguio said.

Aguio added that since the lumads went to the Haran they had been convincing them to return to their homes as the NCIP could only give their assistance to the lumads in their official domain.

On the other hand, Aguio stressed every lumad should cast their vote because right to vote is not only part of their Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA) law but also their constitutional right.

“Joining in the election is very beneficial to the lumads especially if they could unite their votes so they could claim in the next elections that their sector is important as it could be converted to vote,” said Aguio adding that “voting is also empowering kay mag ka-voice ang IPs and kung empowered na sila kay ang elected official always cater to people who believed that can deliver or who can put them into office.”

Aguio also desired that the lumads in this coming election will not be used by the running candidates because they could be easily lured by the promises during campaign period.

Moreover, Aguio also said that “dili man tinuod ang ilang gina-ingon nga naay kagubot…kung tinuod man dapat ang almost 12,000 na lumads sa ilang lugar kay nag-bakwit uban sa ilaha.”

Davao Region safe or not

However, based in the report of the Police Regional Office-11 (PRO-11) there are 36 areas of concern composed of two districts, 31 municipalities and three cities in the region for the May 9 election.

Chief Insp. Andrea Dela Cerna, spokesperson of PRO-11, earlier said that four areas in Davao del Norte under the election watchlist areas. The four areas are Talaingod, Asuncion, Kapalong and Panabo City.

Talaingod and Kapalong Davao del Norte are the places where the displaced lumads came from.

According to the police guidelines, an area is placed in the election watchlist if the area where there’s a high probability of politically motivated violent incident, when the political rivalry is intense, and when there’s presence of armed groups, Dela Cerna said.

Meanwhile, Maj. Ezra Balagtey, spokesperson of Eastern Mindanao Command, said that soldiers are already deployed in the area in the area to address possible threats that may arise during the election.

Balagtey also assures the public that they would do everything for the safety on May 9 because they are closely monitoring the election hotspots.

Lumad still hopeful

Despite all the atrocities in the hinterlands, Sheena is still hopeful that their communities will be secured from the threats and that she will become a teacher to help the other lumads.

“Aside from peace, I also dream of being a teacher to help my fellow lumads so we will be educated and nobody could exploit us,” she said.

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Building Better Stories, Block by Block


A series of seminar-workshops for media practitioners on the links between the con-struction industry and sustainable growth is set to kick off next week.

The Philippine Press Institute (PPI) and Holcim Philippines, Inc. are undertaking this joint initiative, which builds on a similar, albeit more basic, training two years ago.

The new round of seminar-workshops by PPI, the national association of newspapers, and Holcim, a building materials and aggregates company, aims to see more nu-anced and in-depth reporting on the construction sector, highlighting its role in help-ing achieve sustainable and inclusive growth while focusing the spotlight on relevant issues affecting Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

With the theme “Taking the High Road to Better Construction Stories,” the training series also seeks to help the media explore unreported and underreported issues sur-rounding the industry, ideally set within the framework of civic journalism, PPI’s flag-ship program.

Holcim Philippines advocates sustainable construction practices that contribute to lasting and broad-based development.

PPI's thrust of “Building Better Communities through Civic Journalism” is in line with its goal of giving voice to the concerns and aspirations of communities and sectors that otherwise are not being heard in the public sphere or in the mainstream media.

The PPI-Holcim trainings call to mind two of the 17 United Nations Sustainable De-velopment Goals (SDGs) that replaced the Millennium Development Goals and were adopted by world leaders last year.

Goal 9 of the SGDs falls within the purview of the construction industry, among other concerned sectors: “Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrializa-tion and foster innovation.”

Goal 11 is a call to “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.”

The PPI-Holcim training will be held in each major island group, with the Luzon leg scheduled for April 27 to 29 in Padi, Bulacan. Participants from the Visayas will gath-er in Tagbilaran City, Bohol, on May 4 to 6; and those from Mindanao in Malaybalay, Bukidnon on May 18 to 20.

Non-PPI members have also been invited to participate in the training workshops.

Regional focus

Tess Bacalla, PPI’s training director, said the seminar-workshops will also be high-lighted by discussions on relevant regional issues, which will be facilitated by re-source speakers. These will be followed by field visits that will allow the participants to take a deeper look into such issues and how these manifest on the ground, while pursuing stories that will serve as their group outputs during the workshop.

Journalists from Luzon will look into the status and quality of relocation shelters in Bulacan, which continues to be among the top relocation areas for informal settlers from Metro Manila.

Media participants from the Visayas will focus on the state of reconstruction and re-habilitation programs in Bohol, three years since the province was struck by a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that reduced infrastructure gems such as centuries-old churches and ancestral houses to rubble.

In Mindanao, participants will learn about the living conditions of lumad, or indigenous groups, including those that have been displaced from their communities and are cur-rently staying in temporary facilities in Bukidnon.
The workshop-seminar series complements the Journalism Awards on Sustainable Construction Reporting (JASCOR), a Holcim-sponsored program undertaken in part-nership with PPI. National and community newspapers vie for the yearly awards, which are given out in ceremonies held in October.

Now on its third year, JASCOR hopes to promote excellent reporting on the construc-tion industry through the lens of sustainability, and thus generate increased public awareness and appreciation of, as well as support for, sustainable construction ef-forts.

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