Stale checks and tears

Today, I was assigned to do a story on the students who will be affected by the proposed budget cut of the Commission on Higher Education. We stayed at CHED the whole afternoon and talked to the students applying for Tulong Dunong or waiting for their checks.

Five of them agreed to be interviewed. The last one was a 2nd year student from PUP.

Jovelyn, who is taking up secondary education, told us that her father was a carpenter and her mother did laundry. She said that while she does not have to pay for tuition at PUP, she spent P200 a day on food and transportation since they live in Bicutan. Continue reading


Yarning for Divisoria

A few months ago, I picked up crocheting as a hobby. It was something that I learned on my own as a high school student (from the pages of an illustrated crochet manual from Book Sale). I guess I decided to try it again after rekindling my interest in crafts, which is now trendy in the Philippines.

(Skip this part and go to the Divisoria Trip subhead if you get bored)

I first tried making paper flowers (thanks to a class at CraftMNL) and while the result was fabulous, it was time consuming and required a lot of space (I live in a tiny condo unit).

Continue reading

Letters for auction: The cruel fate of Gregoria de Jesus, Aguinaldo’s election fraud and other interesting stories

IMG_7785Earlier this month, I found myself dining with other journalists on a 200-year-old table which was used to entertain the likes of Jose Rizal, local elites and members of the royal families from Russia, Cambodia and Japan. As I finished my slice of Canonigo cake, I thought about how good the food – with recipes dating back to the 19th century – tasted.

Around us were paintings of Malang, Amorsolo and other famous painters. But what made me return to that place were several pieces of yellow and fragile paper tucked away in one of the display cases.

Bonifacio letters

The first time I visited Leon Gallery was earlier this year when I reported about their first quarter auction, which included letters from Andres Bonifacio to his close friend Emilio Jacinto.

The letters were deemed rare, according to curator Lisa Nakpil, because Bonifacio was “a man on the run.” Continue reading

Slingshooting with the pros

A kid with a slingshot aiming at a bird is just one of the images that come to mind when people talk about the “tirador.” It’s one of those trusty childhood toys Filipino kids played with before they were introduced to matchbox cars and Barbies. Like tumbang preso, materials are free and easily gathered from household items and the nearby tree.

Unfortunately, that was before my time. I never played with slingshots or even tin cans. So I was quite intrigued when I was assigned to do a story on the Philippine Slingshot Federation, a group of “tirador” enthusiasts who want slingshooting to be recognized as a sport in the Philippines. Continue reading

7 churches for Visita Iglesia in Quezon City

If you’re like me and you only have one rest day for Holy Week, you’ll probably end up staying in the city. Why not make it worthwhile by following the Catholic tradition of Visita Iglesia? You not only get to pray and reflect but also visit beautiful historical and cultural landmarks.

Yesterday, I visited seven churches in Quezon City for my report for Bandila. Watch our television report below (in Filipino) or continue reading (in English) about the churches I chose.

Santo Domingo Church – Known also as the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary of La Naval de Manila, the Santo Domingo Church is the largest Catholic church in Metro Manila. If you read my previous Visita Iglesia post, you’ll know that it was constructed, based on the design of architect Jose Zaragoza, after the original church in Intramuros was destroyed during World War II. Continue reading

Manila Cathedral

7 churches to visit for a historical tour of Intramuros

Ornate carvings and intricately-painted ceilings are just some of the things you’ll see as you tour the churches of Intramuros. Each church has a story to tell, whether it be about how it survived the bombings of World War II or how old ruins paved the way for new buildings.

More than a week ago, my camera crew and I were the first media group to visit the seven places after the Department of Tourism (DOT) started promoting Intramuros for faith-based tourism. You can watch my report (featuring DOT and Ivan Man Dy of Old Manila Walks) in Filipino here or read about the seven churches in English below.

Continue reading

Cityscapes: Petronas Twin Towers or KL Tower?

Model buildings and tiny toy cars. Everything looks miniature and enchanting when you’re on top of an observation deck, looking down at a city basking under the sun or encased in a cloud of fog. At night, the city bares another side of its soul as colorful lights illuminate its skyscrapers and iconic buildings.

Petronas Twin Towers

Petronas Twin Towers

If you’re like me, you don’t get queasy at the thought of being hundreds of meters above ground. Instead, you take delight in the scenic view and the opportunity to see the city in all its glory, from its cluster of majestic buildings to its long, curvy stretches of river-like freeways.

If you’re visiting a famous city, you should at least considering visiting one observation deck. And in the case of the bustling city of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia there are two iconic buildings to check out – the Petronas Twin Towers and the KL Tower.

When you’re on a tight schedule and/or a tight budget, you’ll end up visiting only one and it can be a tough choice if you know you won’t return to the country anytime soon. Continue reading

Reshaping climate reporting: four challenges and one sign of hope

GlobalChallengesFoundationA month or so ago, I wrote a piece for the quarterly report of Sweden-based Global Challenges Foundation. It was a delight working with the team and contributing to the discourse on the role of media in the fight against climate change.

Below is a copy of my essay and here’s a link to the full report:…/quar…/watchdog-for-the-future


The force unleashed by super typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines has been described as comparable to that of an atomic bomb. The statement should not be discarded as pure rhetorical excess. Although typhoons leave no lasting radiation behind, they do release energy that is sometimes equivalent to multiple nuclear explosions. 

The devastation wrought by typhoon Haiyan confirmed this. It exploded on the city of Tacloban, where storm surges claimed the lives of thousands of people. Journalists like myself sent to survey the aftermath of the typhoon considered it a war zone. Villages were reduced to rubble. Bodies littered the streets. The living had nowhere to go. Continue reading