Sen. Pangilinan vows to develop PH agriculture, protect farmers

NEWLY elected Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan vowed to modernize the agricultural sector and ensure the sustainability of farming and fisheries in the Philippines.

Pangilinan, who served as the first Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization (PAFSAM) under then President Benigno Aguino III, said developing the agricultural sector of the country would help alleviate poverty.

“[If] you shape up agriculture, you can stop poverty. I’d like to come up with programs wherein people will go into farming and earn from farming,” Pangilinan said in a interview. IMG_3005

He pledged to push for the rights of farmers and fisher folks through giving emphasis on their health and education benefits and opportunities.

“I would like to build and support numerous programs wherein the farmers and fishermen of our country would be protected,” Pangilinan said. “Our farmers deserve respect and protection. They lift up this country from the grass roots of poverty,” he added.

Pangilinan explained that the famers and fisher folks have supported and fed the Philippines for decades, but they have remained poverty-stricken.

“Farmers barely make over P 20,000 every year and the land they own are most times not sufficient or not big enough,” Pangilinan said. “Most of the time, they are abused and do not get to exercise the rights they are entitled to.

Furthermore, the country’s agricultural sector has seen a steady decline in the past decades. Agriculture’s share of the Philippine economy has shrunk to just over ten percent from more than 30 percent in the 1960’s and 1970’S.

Up to this date, about a third of the country’s workers are employed in the farm sector, leading to high poverty rate.

According to the statement of Pangilinan, farmers, fisher folks and people who are either directly and indirectly employed in the agricultural sector make up almost 60 percent of the country’s labor force.

Paradigm shift

 Agriculture is the foundation and backbone of every nation, especially the Philippines. However, it is harrowing to say that the general mentality of the public towards this “tedious” work is that it is a low-income profession and it is associated with poverty, Pangilinan said.

“People have no interest in farming because they think that it is for poor people. What they do not realize is that there is profit in farming,” Pangilinan said. “We need to change the notion of the masses.”

He said there is a need to educate the people on farming and raise the awareness that farming should not be equated to poverty.

Youth on agriculture

Pangilinan said young people can contribute in the development of Philippine agriculture through appreciating and taking up farming.

He said the lack of interest in farming among the youth could be a big problem in the future.

“If the new generation of Filipinos don’t want to farm anymore, that’s really a serious challenge,” Pangilinan said.

The average Filipino farmer is 56 years old and most of their children do not want to take up farming again because they think it is the reason why they are poor, he added.

“I would like to see young people go into farming and the only reason they would go to farming is that if it is profitable or if it gives them good income,” Pangilinan said. “I would like to like to come up with a programs wherein young people would be more incline to farming.”

He cited backyard farming as one activity that could possibly get the attention of the youth.

“I started with backyard farming and you really get a lot from it. We should get back to this and see how it helps us,” he said.

Pangilinan highlighted the youth’s inclination to modern developments in technology as small-scale distractions.

“Our youth are now focused on technology and that is not completely a bad thing. However, I encourage them to go out of their houses and see farming as an activity they would want to get in to to help the nation,” he said.

He said that there are young people who propagated medical herbs in every backyard in a number of barangays and that is something that should be encouraged.

On education

Aside from the country’s agricultural sector, Pangilinan also vowed to improve education through supporting state universities.

“Education will always be an important factor in the advancement of our country and so I would like to strengthen and provide opportunities for education,” Pangilinan said.

He promised to expand scholarships and ‘study now, pay later’ programs “so that anyone who wants to study has access to quality education.”

Nation building

Furthermore, Pangilinan encouraged the youth to actively partake in nation building, emphasizing their critical role.

“Young people should be involved in shaping the nation. The real challenge of our country is how we find solutions. The government cannot do it alone. We need the support and commitment of young people,” Pangilinan said.

The problem is that people criticize the government, but fail to do their jobs as active citizens. The country has a multitude of problems, but there are a multitude of solutions as well, he said.

“It is so easy to complain, that is the easiest thing to do. The government is just one and the citizens should help because that is part of our democratic lives. Criticisms are necessary so we could learn what to contribute to save the nation,” Pangilinan said.

In addition, Pangilinan urged the people to come together, solve errands faster, stay committed and have one common vision.

As the former PAFSAM, Pangilinan was in charge of four agencies transferred to the office of the president: the National Food Authority, the National Irrigation Administration, the Fertilizer and Pesticide authority and the Philippine Coconut Authority.

He said during previous his terms as legislator, he was able to bring down the price of rice, control the cocolisap infestation, weave P 30 billion worth of irrigation projects and pass a number of bills in Congress, including the Coco Levy Bill for the benefit and livelihood of the farmers of the Philippines.

Pangilinan, a former Quezon City councilor, won a seat at the Senate in 2001 and was re-elected in 2007. In the recently concluded national elections last May 9, he garnered over blank million votes, securing a fresh term as senator. ###


Assessment on the Philippine Media’s Coverage of the 2016 Elections

MAY 5, 2016

On May 9, Monday, the Filipino people will once again elect new leaders, including the 16th president of the republic, to lead the country towards socio-economic and political progress and change.

It must be remembered that the National Elections are not only isolated in history, but serve as significant decision points, providing an opportunity for people to choose what they want – to continue what has been started by the previous administrations or clamor for change.

James Jimenez, director of the National Commission on Elections, echoed that people should not take elections for granted for elections are important series in the people’s democratic lives.

“People need to appreciate that elections are not just routines happening. You can either continue what you started or start on an entirely different direction,” Jimenez said in a forum at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) last November 25, 2015.

The media, an influential institution and a vital communication tool in society, has an imperative role in the authenticity of the elections. Acting as a watchdog or a surveillance camera, its role is to help people take a side and choose the right leaders. It is true that politicians make a lot of promises during campaign periods and the media has the capability and enough resources to expose the emptiness of the politicians’ words.

Many Filipinos may be considered as apathetic and ignorant. Some vote based on survey results and popular opinion, without really knowing the candidates and what they have to offer. The Philippine media changed this and helped eradicate apathy among Filipino voters.

The PiliPinas debates, held in three installments for the presidential candidates and one for the vice presidential candidates, organized by different media establishments, can be considered as successful in mitigating “soft votes” or undecided votes.

Through the debates broadcasted on radio, aired on national television and made accessible online, people were able to know the candidates better: personality wise and capability wise. The media provided a platform for the masses to ask questions to the candidates, thus, exposing the vision of the candidates for the people. Aside from what the people already know about the candidates, they discovered new perspectives that will help them decide on who to vote for.

Although the media provided countless stories relevant to the election, I felt like some stories lacked depth. The media tend to focus on juicy and side stories rather than those that would matter. Why talk about the personality of the candidates when you can write a story about the feasibility of their platforms and what they can offer to the country.

Dr. Clarence Batan, the director of the UST Research Center for Culture, Education and Social Issues likewise said that the media should be raising awareness among the people on issues that really matter. People must vote based on the capacity of the candidates to address salient issues and not on personality.

On media bias, all media institutions have stands –whether they are pro-administration or not. But the media was able to stay objective. Although it may be true sometimes that there biased angles on some stories are evident, some are taken out of context or some may be exaggerated, I can say that the media gave the people what they need to see and know. There really are no good or bad stories; there are only plain news stories interpreted differently by different people with different biases. The media is not manipulating people, but helping them understand better.

My overall assessment on the Philippine Media’s coverage of the election season, on a scale-based ranking, is 8 out of 10.

Duterte hauls public outrage over rape joke; UST Profs. say Mayor still a front –runner

APRIL 2016

EVEN AFTER drawing flak for his rape joke, Davao City Mayor and presidential aspirant Rodrigo Duterte still has a strong hold on the presidency and can triumph in the May elections, department chairs from the University of Santo Tomas (UST) said.

UST Department of Economics Chair Emmanuel Lopez said people loved Duterte for his tough attitude and has always been “phenomenal” for his blatant remarks.

“When you talk about Duterte, he has always been phenomenal because of his straightforward comments. His outbursts are only reflections of what the Filipinos are feeling,” Lopez said in an interview.

Lopez, who was the former chair of the UST Department of Social Sciences, said Duterte’s remarks do not define his real personality and leadership skills.

However, Lopez noted that Duterte should not have joked about rape.

“Hindi maganda yung comment na yun, but it does not necessarily mean na yun ang personality ni Duterte,” Lopez said. “Exasperation niya yun on what is happening in the society. Katulad natin, kapag nagagalit tayo, kung ano ano ang nasasabi natin.”

Meanwhile, Augusto de Vianna, UST Department of History chair said Filipinos overreacted on Duterte’s comments, saying that Filipinos became too sensitive over the issue.

Filipinos want swift action and they believe Duterte can give it to them, Lopez said, explaining why Duterte has managed to keep his supporters.

In a video posted on YouTube, the Mayor was on stage talking about an Australian lay missionary who was raped and killed in a hostage incident in 1989 in a Davao prison.

“Napakaganda, dapat mayor ang mauna,” Duterte said, receiving criticism from the public, his political rivals and the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines.

Duterte has crossed the line

 Students from UST slammed Duterte for “crossing the line” and showing disrespect towards women and rape victims.

Grace Esmaya, a member of the Student Teachers’ Association of UST, demanded respect and a sincere apology from Duterte.

“As a woman, it is not okay to hear a joke about rape from anyone. Duterte is allowed to express his opinion, but his jokes are too much. He needs to show respect,” Esmaya said, adding that the country needs a leader who has respect for everyone.

For Dayanara Cudal, the news editor of the Varsitarian, the official student publication of UST, Duterte’s rape joke is unforgivable.

“I will never forgive Duterte for what he said because nobody has the right or freedom to say something intensely disrespectful and downright vile. I will never forgive Duterte for even thinking that rape can be the subject of ridicule,” Cudal said.

Cudal said she lost respect for the “fearless” presidential aspirant after he made his “crass and tasteless rape remark.”

“It is Duterte’s brand to be the fearless, machismo, ladies man. But the topic of rape is dealt with such delicate care and sensitivity. [R]ape has claimed millions of people, both men and women alike, and these people live in the shadow of their past,” Cudal said.

In his defense, Duterte claims all 16 inmates behind the hostage taking were all killed, adding that he and his brother has killed four of them.

Duterte vowed that despite his dirty mouth, he would give the country a “clean government.”

In a statement released by Duterte’s camp on April 19, Duterte apologized for his joke, but remained unapologetic for the things he has done “to protect the country.”###

From Beh to Bezzie: The Evolution of Language

Over time, changes in languages, including those affecting the Filipino language, have become prominent. The creation of new words has turned into a relentless habit, forming numerous sub-languages. “Bekimon” and “Jejemon” for instance are examples of sublanguages produced from people’s creativity and from the sturdy influences inflicted by pop culture.

Bekimon, a sublanguage initially used by members of the LGBT community particularly the gays, has become rampant and widely spoken by almost everyone. Jejemon on the other hand, which is often considered as a bastardization of language, was the term used to name the language of a small group of people in the society called the “Jejemonsters” or the “Jejemons”. These sublanguages has also developed their own alphabets and dubbed them as the “Bekibeth” and “Jejebeth”.

Changes in how people speak, write, communicate and use words prevailed over the centuries. It is fascinating how languages survived and have prospered, even if others, like Latin, died because of the lack of utilization. The creation of new words and systems of writing is unlimited. In this sense, it can therefore be concluded that language is productive, creative, alive and dynamic.

In our family alone, we have created new words we exclusively use. Most times, we have inside expressions we get from movies or television series.

Words that we adopted from the Bekimon language are as follows: Kabogera, Pweds, WiP, Shoray, Pagoda, Thunders, X-men, Wapakels, Surelaley, Lafang, Mamita, Chiminiaa, Gerlalu, Boylet, Keribells, Warla, Gora, Echosera, Chaka, Charot, Charing, Churva, Chenelin, Char, Chos, Echoss, Eklabu, Keme, Uhmma, Awlalu, Awwie, Ahiks, Awit, Nuy beh and a lot more. In conventional language, these words mean impressive, pwede, work in progress, ang taray, pagod, matanda, former man turned gay, sure, kumain, mommy, katulong, girl, boyfriend, kayang kaya, magaway, pumunta, sinungaling, pangit, and the others are random expressions respectively.

Other expressions are sometimes based on the names of famous personalities.

Kuya Germs means Madumi, Hagardo Versoza (Gardo Versoza) means Pagod or Haggard, Rita Gomez means nakakai’rita’, Tom Jones means gutom, Winnie the Poor means Mahirap, Dora the Explorer means Magala, Gandara Park (Sandara Park) means Maganda and Janno Gibbs means Magbigay or give derived from ‘Gibbs’.

 Sometimes, words are turned spelled reversed or the syllables are intertwined to create new variations. Examples of these words that we use in our family are Matsala and Rapsa, which mean Salamat and Sarap respectively.

My grandfather alone has expressions he often use: Anak ng pating, Nahulog ang kalbo, Ay kabayo, Anak ng Tokwa, Manang biday, Saksi ni huba, Arujusko, Pinutukan ka ng Kabog and Nako po ay. He uses these expressions when he gest frustrated or annoyed or when he drops something. He says he used those by accident often times.

As for my brothers, they use expressions they get from cartoon shows and the movies. Examples are “woah there”, “what’s cooking”, “whatcha doin”, “that freaky thing”, “you ain’t the boss of me”, “give momma some honey”, “oh no you didn’t”, “the hell was that” and “you feel me”.

 Language develops as society progresses. It grows side by side with modernization and the necessary changes in the society. It is bound to undergo changes and it needs to be kept alive.



Senatorial bets Ople, Romulo say PH is not ready for K-12 curriculum

The K-12 basic education program is necessary for the development of the Philippines’ education system, however, the country is not yet ready, senatorial candidates Roman Romulo and Susan “Toots” Ople told the University of Santo Tomas (UST) students in a forum on March 1.

Romulo, who is on his third term as the Pasig City representative, said the implementation of the K-12 curriculum should have been suspended because the Department of Education (DepEd) is not fully prepared.

“The K-12 is a good concept, unfortunately, hindi preparado and DepEd para sa implementation nito ngayong taon. May lack of classrooms, facilities, equipment and teachers,” Romulo said, adding that his platforms revolve around the promotion of quality education in the country.

Romulo authored the Unified Financial Assistance To Students in Tertiary Education or the UNIFAST Law, which offered free college education to students who are financially unfortunate, and the Scholar ng Bayan Law, which gave the top ten graduates of public high schools free college education.

Ople, who is running under the Nacionalista Party, said there are still gaps that need to be filled to efficiently implement the K-12 system.

“The K-12 is necessary for the improvement of education here in the country, but there are still gaps. Madami pa tayong kulang,” Ople said.

Ople explained that there is a need to hold campaigns about what the K-12 system really is for the masses to get a good grasp of the system.

Opele’s main advocacies are however centered on the promotion of the rights of the Overseas Filipino Workers.

The former labor undersecretary’s platforms include the establishment of a department for migration and development, the construction of hospitals for OFWs, and the development assistance programs for human trafficking survivors.

Ople, daughter of the late senator Blas Ople, tried but failed to secure a seat in the senate ion the 2010 elections.

Department of Justice secretary Leila De Lima and Former senator Richard “Dick” Gordon, who were also invited to the forum and are gunning for senatorial seats, failed to make an appearance.

De Lima and Gordon were voted first and second respectively by UST students in a survey conducted by the Varsitarian, the official student publication of UST.

Free Wi-Fi

In response to the clamor of the students, the two candidates pledged to solve the country’s drawbacks on slow Internet services.

“Dapat maging part ng learning investment at education plan ang free and accessible Wi-Fi in all schools. It will make us competitive lalo na at dito magaling ang ating mga kabataan,” Ople said. “Creative ang minds ng youth. Technology will be their competitive edge.”

Romulo added that the Internet is the advantage of today’s generation and making it accessible would be beneficial to students.

Jan Dominic Castro, Faculty of Arts and Letters Student Council (ABSC) president said the forum was an opportunity for the youth to be enlightened about the platforms of the senatorial candidates especially issues concerning education.

“In the Liberal Arts college, we want to know how they’ll be able to sustain and promote quality education and avoid education disparity,” Castro said in a text message.

In celebration of the 120th founding anniversary of the Faculty of Arts and Letters, the forum titled “I AM: Senatorial Forum 2016”, was spearheaded by the ABSC, in partnership with the UP College of Arts and Letters Student Council and the De La Salle University Arts College Government. ###



Pinocchio: Media on Sensationalism

Pinocchio is a Korean television drama series that managed to portray the ruthless boundaries of journalism. The series, which aired from November 2014 to January 2015, showed how the media, through, sensationalism destroyed and made miserable the life of Ki Ha-myung and his family members.

The media is a very powerful institution in the society. It can either make people famous or ruin one’s priced reputation forever. The series also showed how some reporters refuse to honor and follow the journalism code of ethics and are only in the industry to manipulate events and gain popularity and market. This defeats the purpose of journalism, which is to inform the masses with the truth through accurate and credible reportage.

In Pinocchio, the media managed to defame Ki Ho-sang, the chief fireman of a firefighting squad. Ki Ho-sang was blamed for the death of nine firemen and was said to be hiding. In truth, Ki Ho-sang died a hero along with the firemen for trying to save alleged factory workers inside the burning building. The media manipulated the audience by making them believe the opposite of what really happened. Although it was not entirely the media’s fault to have obtained falsified truth, it was supposed to be their job to investigate and expose the truth. The media immediately believed the witnesses, who told lies, and did not conduct further investigations.

A Lot of damage was inflicted to the family of Ki Ho-sang. His wife committed suicide and his children grew to live without the perfect family they used to have. Ki Ha-myung, the younger son, changed his identity to Dal Po and Ki Jae-myung, the eldest, lived his life to despise the media. He managed to get revenge for his father and reunite with his brother, however, was put behind bars for murder.

Song Cha Ok, a reporter of the MSC broadcasting corporation, is an example of a fame-oriented reporter. During the coverage of the fire, her husband called her to say that they are getting divorced; instead, she made it looked like she was talking to someone who knew an eyewitness to the fire incident. She said that the eyewitness was in a store to mislead other reporters be the first to get the coverage in the hospital. This shows how journalists are forced to be competent to be able to get the better angle of news stories. She had to lie to be able to raise her networks’ market. The media also looked very insensitive about people’s emotions. It was always business over privacy and love.

Sensationalism was the prime delinquency portrayed in the drama series. Media cared too much about impact and attention rather than authenticity, proof and facts. Media showed the angle that people wanted to see, not the angle that people really needed to see.

It can also be inferred that the media is not always right. Most times, the media just looks like it is right. The media only shows a portion of what really happened, but not the whole of it. There was a lack of balance and composition, and excess in biased views and phenomenalized stories.

The media is supposed to be the tool to a well-informed community and journalists are supposed to work in accordance to the journalism code of ethics. However, it is inevitable for the media to side with the wrong stories and commit mistakes. The best way to defeat media delinquencies is proper training, thorough research, unbiased perspectives and irrefutable investigations.

Gender Equality in the Newsroom

The newsroom in the earlier centuries was “no place for a lady”. Female writers were discriminated and looked down upon by the male-dominated media industry. Editorial positions were mostly handled by men and women were hired just to be researchers and not legitimate journalists. Miller (2013) said the thinking of the people in those particular periods was that women cannot really handle the tough career of speculation over governmental and political agendas, international news and crime stories. However, over the course of time, the media industry eventually welcomed women as imperative members and leaders of the newsroom.

In my opinion, I honestly see no gender discrimination in the 21st century newsrooms. In a world where gender equality movements have gone a long way, barriers that were built to patronize over a single gender are finally crashing down. Female reporters are as good as the male reporters and it is the same otherwise. Men can do what the women can and so do women with men’s tasks. Newspapers are under the editorial directions of men and women and both are not really under-represented nor dominant. How good and effective a reporter is does not necessarily rely on his sex or preferred gender orientation, rather on the hard work, passion and dedication exerted in everything the person does.

On a personal basis, I firmly believe that men and women co-exist harmoniously in the media industry. As a news writer of the Varsitarian, I have observed that everyone is treated the same on all aspects. The division of labor favors no gender and there is fair share of articles. Men and women write for the soft and hard sections altogether. Editorial positions and promotions are given to writers based on their performance, dedication and skills certainly not on their genders. One gets what he or she deserves.