A sense of Wanda

For days, I contemplated writing about the death of Wendell Gumban, a student leader I met when I was still in UP. A friend suggested that I connect it to the peace talks. After interviewing his parents and listening to the speeches of his friends, I knew that I just had to write about his life.

A sense of Wanda

By Kristine Angeli Sabillo

When everyone was asleep, Wendell walked to the waterfall. He lay down his weapon, shed all his clothes, and took a dip in the rock pool.

He would later tell a friend a secret—that sometimes he would swim naked at night, float on his back and stare at the dark sky, “mesmerized by the light of the moon.”

Could he have imagined, while he was still living in Manila as a university graduate, that he would end up living deep in the rainforests of southern Mindanao? Living—and dying? On July 23, 2016, Wendell Gumban died in a firefight with the military; he was 30.

Communing with nature was only one part of Wendell’s life in the countryside. Most of his time was spent hiking to far-flung barrios of lumad, the indigenous people of Mindanao, and teaching them how to plant rice and vegetables, how to read and write.

The middle child of a middle-class couple, the University of the Philippines graduate and Philippine Collegian managing editor was invariably described by friends and acquaintances as intelligent, hardworking, brilliant.

To his parents, he was Weng, simple and “kind but (inconceivably) brave.”

To his friends, he was Wanda or Shala, the student leader who defied stereotypes.

To the lumad, he was Ka Waquin, who left the comforts of the city to live with them. Bespectacled, lanky, and fair-skinned, he was not your typical tibak (activist).

He was Weng, Wanda, Waquin. UP graduate. Gay. New People’s Army rebel. Continue reading

Feminist on Duterte: I can work with that

I would have to say that Ma’am Irene Santiago is one of my favorite interviewees — so smart, articulate and reasonable as she discussed her views about the incoming Duterte administration. In this article, I discussed why a feminist like her would support the controversial president-elect.

Feminist on Duterte: I can work with that

By Kristine Angeli Sabillo

DAVAO CITY—A leading feminist on Monday said President-elect Rodrigo Duterte was a “product of the sexist culture” in the Philippines but this didn’t mean that women should not support him.
Irene Santiago, lead convenor of the global peace initiative Women Seriously and a member of a group of women previously nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, told Inquirer.net on Monday that Duterte “is very much a product of the sexist culture of this country.”

Duterte has been criticized for his treatment of women. He kissed, hugged and had women sit on his lap during the presidential campaign. He joked about missing out on raping an Australian missionary who was killed. Recently, he received more flak for whistling at a woman reporter asking him a question during a press briefing. Continue reading

Climate advocate walks for 100 days, creates art from scrap metal

I first met AG in Paris last year while covering the historic climate change negotiations. I’ve written about him before that when his brother Yeb (who I have covered several times) posted photos of his murals during the People’s Pilgrimage. I was supposed to interview AG while he was working on a mural in France but when I got to the place I couldn’t find his group (I didn’t have roaming in Paris!). Apparently they were working inside a church. I went home without a story but I fortunate to have bumped into him at another climate event in Manila where he showcased his metal art.

Climate advocate walks for 100 days, creates art from scrap metal

By Kristine Angeli Sabillo

From dolphins to human figures, lumad to Yaya Dub as Mother Earth, AG Saño’s colorful murals have been helping sustain interest on the issue of climate change.

READ: ‘Yaya Dub’ as Mother Earth in Filipino climate activist’s mural in Italy

One of his latest creations is framed metal art, made from scrap items he salvaged while on a “People’s Pilgrimage” to Paris for the historic climate change negotiations last year.

Saño with other advocates of climate action walked for 40 days from Manila to Tacloban and another 60 days from Rome to Paris last year to convince leaders to come up with a legally binding agreement to address climate change. Continue reading

Joma Sison talks about former student Duterte, other candidates

Joma Sison talks about former student Duterte, other candidates

By Kristine Angeli Sabillo

“He has many nice things to say about me and I also have many nice things to say about him,” Jose Maria “Joma” Sison, the exiled founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, in a two-hour interview with the Inquirer in December.

In the end, however, Sison said he “wouldn’t gamble” and say that Duterte, his former student at the Lyceum University, is “the best President the Philippines can have since Marcos.”

Duterte, said the 77-year-old Utrecht-based CPP leader, has often been misinterpreted because of his jokes.

“For example, (when) a reporter asked, ‘Is it true you killed 700 people?’ (He answered) ‘No. It’s 1,700.’ He makes sarcastic remarks,” Sison said. “But Duterte’s a lawyer. You call that [reductio ad absurdum]. If you presume that the accusation is unbelievable, give a more preposterous answer.”

Added Sison: “Duterte is careful. If a police arrests a carnapper or a kidnapper from Bulacan and he asks Duterte what to do, he would say, ‘Kill him if you want to.’ That way, no one would say that he gave the order to kill.”

But even Sison admitted that the tough-talking mayor has flip-flopped in his stated support for the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed partisans of the CPP. Continue reading

VIDEO: Arctic ice melting in heart of Paris

There were a lot of interesting things happening on the sidelines of the climate change negotiations in Paris, which our team covered last December. One of the highlights of my coverage was visiting the Ice Watch art installation in front of the Pantheon. Below is my video of the art installation.

Arctic ice melting in heart of Paris

Video by Kristine Angeli Sabillo

Article: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/745452/these-images-may-be-the-most-moving-from-paris-cop21

PH ‘conditional’ commitment: Reduce carbon emissions by 70% in 2030

CCC beats deadline, submits climate commitments to UN
PH ‘conditional’ commitment: Reduce carbon emissions by 70% in 2030

By Kristine Angeli Sabillo

The Philippine government has submitted to the United Nations the country’s commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, barely beating the Oct. 1 deadline of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Through the Climate Change Commission (CCC), the Philippines submitted on Thursday its “initial” Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC), which identified both mitigation and adaptation measures.

The INDC was approved on Thursday by President Benigno Aquino III, chair of the CCC.

The country is committing to reduce its carbon emissions by 70 percent by 2030 while maintaining a “business as usual scenario” from 2000 to 2030. The carbon dioxide reductions will come from the sectors of energy, transport, waste, forestry, and industry. Continue reading

Greenpeace, other environmental groups file human rights case against big polluters. Photo by Kristine Angeli Sabillo

Human rights complaint filed vs 50 oil, cement companies

Human rights complaint filed vs 50 oil, cement companies

By Kristine Angeli Sabillo

Greenpeace Philippines and several other environmental groups on Tuesday filed what is considered the first human rights complaint against “big polluters” – 50 multinational companies that are among the largest emitters of greenhouse gases.

The 40-page petition, signed by 13 environmental groups and 20 individuals, wants the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to investigate so-called “Carbon Majors” for human rights violations resulting from impacts of climate change.

The petition names 50 “Carbon Majors” as respondents and cites a study by scientist Richard Heede holding accountable 90 of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies and cement producers.

Of the 50 respondents, 10 have branches or subsidiaries in the Philippines — Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Total, BHP Billiton, Anglo American, Lafarge, Holcim, and Taiheiyo Cement Corporation.

CHR Chair Chito Gascon and Commissioner Karen Dumpit received the complaint after the civil society groups trooped from Philcoa to the CHR office in Quezon City.

Continue reading

The Big One could kill 34,000

When my editor assigned me this piece, he told me to “scare the bejesus out of everyone” like that great piece of writing from the New Yorker. I got in touch with several people who recalled their 1990 Luzon earthquake experience. Then I went over the very detailed study projecting the damage of a 7.2-magnitude earthquake in Metro Manila. The aim was to encourage Filipinos to take earthquake drills and disaster risk reduction more seriously. 


The Big One could kill 34,000

By Kristine Angeli Sabillo

When a 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit Baguio on July 16, 1990, five-year-old Klaridelle Reyes was sleeping on a couch. She woke up to a cacophony of voices and loud footsteps. She could hear people shouting, running to safety.

Kyle Yan, a 16-year-old student at Saint Louis University, was also napping on that cold afternoon when the quake struck. He awoke in the commotion and then waded through piles of books and personal belongings that had fallen to the floor during the first few seconds of the quake.

Outside, buildings were starting to crumble, landslides blocked roads and mines collapsed on hapless workers.

By the time the two of them reached the streets, they were homeless.

Continue reading

Philippine poverty after five years on Aquino’s watch

Most of my teenage life was spent under the administration of Arroyo who was in power for 9 years. By the time I was working, it was Aquino’s turn to distance himself from the poor performance of the previous administration. But what really has happened to the country, especially the poor during his watch? Below is my contribution to Inquirer.net’s special report for the President’s 6th and final State of the Nation Address.


Philippine poverty after five years on Aquino’s watch

BY Kristine Angeli Sabillo

WHEN President Benigno Aquino III officially kicked off his presidential campaign in 2010, his main slogan “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap (If there are no corrupt officials, there would be no poor people)” was unveiled.

While his earlier advertisements banked on his family’s legacy — his father, the late Ninoy Aquino Jr.’s fight against the dictator Ferdinand Marcos and, his mother, Corazon Aquino’s presidency, which was brought about by the success of People Power and the restoration of democracy — “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap” showcased his own promise of a reform-oriented government.

Before his mother’s death in 2009, the then Senator Aquino did not have plans to run for higher office. But the large turnout at the elder Aquino’s funeral catapulted him to the forefront of the presidential campaign.

Continue reading

Homesick OFWs in Malaysia find comfort in food, videoke

For some Filipinos, living and working in another country can be extremely disconcerting, if not depressing. It is comforting to know that there are establishments abroad that not only offer Filipino food but also Filipino hospitality and camaraderie.

Homesick OFWs in Malaysia find comfort in food, videoke

By Kristine Angeli Sabillo

Tucked along a row of unassuming commercial establishments in downtown Kuala Lumpur (KL) is Laguna Restaurant, a humble eatery that has endeared itself to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

“This is our second home,” Rudylyn Magtubo, a child care provider, says of Laguna Restaurant, which is currently located along Jalan Gereja.

While it is perhaps unusual to describe a restaurant as a “second home,” it seems quite true for Magtubo, who works at a nursery school.

“After my class, I immediately go here. This is where I spend most of my time,” she tells INQUIRER.net. “Even on Saturdays and Sundays. I am here until the evenings.”

Magtubo says she has been working in KL for three years and had difficulty adjusting to Malaysian food, which is usually spicy. She says she would rather eat hard-boiled egg and rice instead of trying the local food.

She recalls how happy she was when she found out that there was a restaurant selling authentic Filipino food.

“It’s really good. You won’t miss the Philippines because of the delicious food,” she says in Filipino.

Continue reading