Young minds pledge on disaster response projects

CEBU CITY, PHILIPPINES —  One hundred nineteen youths last April 8 pledged to develop projects for disaster preparedness and humanitarian response for the next eight months as scholars of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) Young Minds Academy (YMA) Season 9.

This was after they signed a covenant during the YMA Alumni Engagement Awards at the RAFI Eduardo Aboitiz Development Studies Center (RAFI-EADSC) on Lopez Jaena Street, Cebu City.

“I expect to have fun, of course, and also to be challenged, to become a more responsible student, person and maybe then a future leader of the country if all things go well,” Jun Albert Pardillo, one of the scholars, said.

This season’s theme focuses on “urban development with emphasis on disaster preparedness and humanitarian response.” The scholars first signed the covenant before starting their YMA activities.

As part of the eight-month program, the YMA scholars are exposed to the localities in Cebu City to observe the actual situations in the community.

More than observing the community, however, the new YMA scholars are expected to come up with projects and solutions on disaster preparedness and response.

“The youth is the beneficiary of the change that, we, adults create. But instead of them just being the beneficiaries, we want the youths a component of that change,” RAFI president Roberto E. Aboitiz explained on why RAFI created the YMA program.

“We are here to commit ourselves and we are putting that commitment through signing (of the covenant),” RAFI chief operating officer Dominica B. Chua also said.

The YMA aims to produce individuals who are responsible and pro-active leaders, who are ready to give service to the public; who promote virtues of peace, pluralism, respect, and multicultural understanding.

“Sign it with a dream that you will become the best leaders that YMA has ever produced,” Chua said in challenging the scholars.

Mrs. Evelyn Castro, Eduardo Aboitiz Development Studies Center executive director, said that “the program is only as good as how much you put into it. Mura na siya’g bangko, kung wala kay i-deposito unsa may imong kuhaon? (It’s like a bank, if you have not deposited something, what will you reap?)

She reminds the scholars to get involved in the activities and learn from the leadership training camps and community outreach activities.

Recalling her experience in YMA, Season 8 alumnus Josephite T. Padillo said that YMA has served as an eye-opener to her.

“Every day, everything we see seems to be just passive, the pollution, illiteracy and other problems in the community. It is already blatant that we become used to it, we sometimes fail to realize that we can actually do something to change these things,” she expressed in Cebuano. (RAFI Communications, contributed photo)


Tribe bae: No to BBL

by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros, #netizenmedia

caption: Bae Makabulig (Ritalinda Lipiahan), a former supervisor of SM Malls in Manila, is now right hand of Datu Lolong, national chairman of Higaonon Tribal Communities Federation. The couple is seen here on their way to Sitio Tamusan, Brgy. Capehan, Libona town, Bukidnon for a tribal assembly. The children are residents of Tamusan.

MISAMIS ORIENTAL, NORTHERN MINDANAO, PHILIPPINES — “We say no to the Bangsamoro Basic Law. We can’t trust some Muslims; they have this culture of reprisal or vendetta (rido) that it’s best to trust only when they are dead,” so states Bae Makabulig (Ritalinda Lipiahan), wife of Datu Lolong (Dencio S. Lipiahan, Sr.) prior to our ritual in line with our membership to the Higaonon tribe on April 2 (Maundy Thursday) as migrants (bilaw or non-lumad bloodline).

A “bae” is a title given to a wife of a datu, the chieftain here of a Higaonon tribe. These two are trusted community leaders.

“I say that we can’t trust all Muslims because when they are angry, lisod kaayo na sila. Pag masuko, rido gyud na. Higaonons value peace. In fact, we are the most peace-loving people of all tribes here. We had only engaged in war when we really were left with no choice. But currently we have worked so hard on promoting economic sustainability as we battle continuously for the preservation of tribal reservation areas,” Bae Makabulig underscored.

Higaonons value promotion of social justice system: recognizing the rights of individuals, protecting and preserving their culture, traditions and institutions.

When Datu Lolong, national chairman of the Talugan Ta Tagoloan-Higaonon Tribal Communities Federation, was asked on reported armed movements recruiting Higaonons, he said that warfare and uprisings are decided by the Council of Datus. As for now, they bank on the various peace treaties forged by their elders such as the Treaties of Dawa (the right to alliance or association), as well as Durian (the right to self-determination under a national government).

“Our laws and peace treaties complement the provisions of Philippine Constitutions – 1935 and 1987 – that we are to unite tribes and to engage in peace processes, no matter how long and painstaking,” the datu added.

“One’s works speak well of one’s motives. How can the Bangsamoro attest to campaigning for peace but preparing, at the same time, for war? The act gives us the hint on how to course our judgment for the welfare of indigenous people here. We will decide what to do with these revolutionary groups when time comes,” the datu accentuated.

For now, they are not bothered by the recruitment activities as consultations between government troops and Higaonons reportedly harassed by revolutionary groups are ongoing. The last talk was held at Camp Evangelista last March 26 and 27 in Patag, Cagayan de Oro City.

Somehow, a culture of deceit is evident in the use of aliases by negotiators from the MILF camp. Mohagher Iqbal, for one, refuses to disclose his real identity, saying it is “normal for them to be carrying various names and monikers.”

Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. led the questioning on Iqbal’s person, but failed to squeeze out substantial information.###

#Fallen44’s bro still banks on peace but…

by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros, #newmedia specialist

Images grabbed from

CONSOLACION, CEBU, PHILIPPINES (Feb. 7, 2015) — Richard Cempron, brother of PO1 Romeo Cempron, one of the #Fallen44 who perished in a clash against Moro Islamic Liberation Front warriors and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, shared that peace should be pursued in Central Mindanao’s areas of conflict like Maguindanao despite the flak.

At the wake of his youngest brother, in a brood of four – all males, Cempron pointed out hostility can never inculcate peace among residents of Maguindanao, and that continued conflicts will only give rise to more armed groups, more displaced people affecting mostly women and children.

“I don’t want to be carried away by what happened to my brother. As a policeman myself, I need to be objective in looking at his case. Currently, we have to grieve over such a great loss. But after this, as we seek justice, we also have to believe that only peaceful negotiations can give way to end fighting in Maguindanao,” Cempron who is based in Quezon City disclosed.

“Pag all-out war kasi mas marami lang ang masasaktan. Katulad niyang nangyari sa brother ko, napatanong ako: Patay na nga bakit pa nila ginanyan,” he added. Cempron shared how disgusted he is upon learning of his brother’s broken skull. He also divulged that some other SAF troopers suffered from hack wounds, one with a slashed throat.

When asked on speculations that the police are demoralized by the tragedy, Cempron said he is devastated emotionally. “Do’n talaga sa suporta. Nakukulangan ako sa suporta sa amin ng itaas. At may isa pa akong katanungan na gusto kong masagot in the process of an inquiry: Bakit hindi ang CIDG (Criminal Investigation and Detection Group) ang nag-serve ng warrant?”

Cempron remembers Romeo as a “very good brother.” He said that Romeo used to cajole him when it comes to his collection of (firearm) magazines. “Hihingin niya kasi minsan meron akong dalawang extrang mags. Naghihiraman na kasi kami talaga ng gamit dati pa. Nagugustuhan niya Smith & Wesson na posas (handcuffs) ko. Yun lang naman kasi ang common ground naming magkakapatid kasi nakalinya kami sa pagpupulis,” Cempron mentioned.

When sought for comment on alleged interest on the bounty placed upon Zulkifli Bin Hir’s head, having been identified responsible in a series of bombing incidents in Southeast Asia, Cempron clarified it is irrational to think that a US$5 million (P200 million) could trigger the assault knowing that said amount couldn’t suffice to launch a nationwide political campaign.

“Napakaliit na amount ng P200 million as campaign funds. For purposes of achievement talaga yang mga secret operations sa hanay ng pulisya. Achievement to boost the institution. Andami na kasi nilang na-achieve talaga. Latest yung Zamboanga siege. But the rest hindi lang nagli-leak sa media. Kung hindi sumablay sa Mamasapano malamang it would be credited to the government, at nasa likod lang talaga ang SAF,” Cempron further revealed.

Meanwhile, widow of the late PO1 Windel Candano, the Dumanjug native (southwestern side of Cebu) who is also of the #Fallen44, reiterated she would pursue public service by becoming a police officer herself. Michelle Candano said briefly that she is serious and would seek to experience how hard were the duties rendered by her husband to the country.

Michelle informed that interment will be on February 8 (tomorrow), but that the two elite commandos will be accorded volleys of fire first at the Central Command-7.###