From black holes to big data: A young scientist’s journey back to PH

I met Reina Reyes last year for my Balik Scientist Program story for Bandila. At that time, I was already fascinated by her background and her decision to return to the Philippines. She was the first person I thought of when I was asked to do features on women scientists. And through her, I was able to reach out to other scientists as well. Working on this piece also reminded me of the importance of accuracy, especially when dealing with stories that involve science – since there were a couple of articles that came out before that misinterpreted her earlier research. 

From black holes to big data: A young scientist’s journey back to PH
Kristine Sabillo

Filipina scientist Reina Reyes first made headlines a decade ago when, as a 20-something graduate student in Princeton University, she won an achievement award for her research on supermassive blackholes called quasars.

Since then, the remarkable work of the young astrophysicist has been finding its way to Philippine media. The most popular one was her study confirming Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.

Now, she’s back in the Philippines as principal scientist for a multinational health care company. Continue reading

EXPLAINER: Why is there a water shortage in Metro Manila?

EXPLAINER: Why is there a water shortage in Metro Manila?

By Kristine Sabillo

MANILA — Long lines of residents carrying pails and basins. Empty water containers piled outside water stations. Firetrucks inside condominium complexes with half-filled pools and waterless faucets. This has become the new norm in 200 or so barangays in Metro Manila in the last six days.

According to Manila Water, which serves the East Zone of Metro Manila, around 52,000 households relying on their supply currently do not have water. This number does not include those experiencing low water pressure.

For a while, the problem was lumped with the effects of El Niño. But Manila Water officials on Tuesday clarified that the dry season is not solely to blame for the water shortage. Continue reading

Special report: Influx of illegal Chinese workers in the Philippines

In 2018, I did a series of stories for Bandila and TV Patrol about the increasing number of illegal foreign workers in the Philippines. Data showed that an overwhelming number of illegal foreign nationals entering the country are from China. Many of those being arrested and deported are also Chinese. 

Final report for TV Patrol (reached 630,000 views on FB alone):

Continue reading

Trash talk: Why you shouldn’t throw your gadgets in the garbage

TRASH TALK: Why you shouldn’t throw your gadgets in the garbage

By Kristine Angeli Sabillo

Black smoke rises from a pile of burning metal wire, releasing a strong, sharp and chemical smell that makes one’s eyes water.

The sight and smell of burning metal is common at Smokey Mountain, a former landfill in Manila that officially closed down two decades ago.

But the looming mountain of trash has remained an attractive source of livelihood among scavengers who sell the scrap metal exposed by the slow-burning fire for almost P200 per kilo.

Among regular buyers of such electronic trash is Danilo (not his real name), who has lived all his life at Smokey Mountain, where old gadgets disposed of are either dismantled and sold for parts, or repaired and find a second life.

He was born in the area in 1960, said Danilo who acknowledges that buying scrap metal from scavengers and reselling them can be dangerous.

“Sometimes you’ll get injured (when you dismantle old electronics),” he said. “Sometimes when you break things open, some parts will hit you,” he added. As for burning copper wire, they’re careful to keep the fires small and under control, he said. Continue reading

Finding a voice in the wilderness

Finding a voice in the wilderness
It takes a village—and a common language—to raise deaf children

By Kristine Angeli Sabillo

It was New Year’s Eve, the noisiest day of the year, when it was customary for Filipino revelers to make as much noise as bearable to chase bad spirits away.

At the Sarreal household, Arlene watched as her year-old son Arbien grabbed a table for support as he took his first steps. In a fit of mischief, his grandmother Dading came up behind him and threw a pot cover that created a huge racket. But baby Bien appeared oblivious to it.

It was at that moment that Arlene knew something was wrong with her child. All along, she had thought him well-behaved, a quiet child who was probably a late bloomer when it came to speech. Continue reading