Tuesday, August 31, 2010

New-style urban poor need Church help

A NEW type of homeless street people has emerged in Metro Manila as urban poor communities are demolished and jobs hard to find, a visiting Japanese social scientist and researcher said.

This is a new phenomenon, the result of globalization and a crisis of capitalism, Hideo Aoki, director of Institute on Social Theory and Dynamics based in Hiroshima City, Japan, told ucanews.com Sunday.

He estimates that there are “more than 100,000” homeless people living in and around Metro Manila.

© Full report at ucanews.com

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Gay clergy urged to ‘heal’ themselves

Catholic leaders must address the issue of homosexuality and the “healing process” must start with the “gay bishops and priests,” a leader of a Catholic homosexuals group said.

Rolando de los Reyes Jr., head of Courage Philippines told a recent gathering of some 30 guidance counsellors and teachers from various Catholic schools in Metro Manila and nearby provinces, that the Church has been consistently bold and daring in opposing abortion, sex education in public schools and use of contraception but not homosexuality.

“Why? Because even in the Church we have problems of homosexuality,” de los Reyes said.

© Full report at ucanews.com

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Manila parish refuses to fight demolitions

A PASTORAL council in Metro Manila has dismissed accusations that it is not concerned about government attempts to demolish parishioners’ homes in Santolan, Pasig City.

The accusations came after picketing residents successfully blocked a 100-strong demolition team on Aug. 9. They pointed out that no Church officials were seen among them on the picket lines.

However, Denis Teodoro, president of Santo Tomas de Villanueva parish council, countered that “our parish priest does go to the area. We discuss the problem at our meetings. It’s not true the parish doesn’t care, but we want to find the right solution to a problem that has many angles to it.”

The government wants to demolish around 15,000 homes because they are along the Marikina River and Manggahan floodway and are badly affected by occurrences like last September’s Typhoon Ketsana.

© Full report at ucanews.com

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Economists to unveil study on overseas workers

TWO economists studying the impact of overseas employment on Filipino families say they may release their findings by September after receiving further feedback.

Michael Clemens of the US-based non-profit Center for Global Development (CGD) and Asian Institute of Management (AIM) professor Erwin Tiongson presented their preliminary findings to some 20 migration experts, teachers and students on Aug. 6.

The two men had conducted a survey of 899 Filipino overseas workers in Korea and more than 4,000 of their household members all over the Philippines.

The preliminary results covered matters such as remittances, income, school enrollment of workers’ children, migration by other family members, and housing and domestic help.

© Full report at ucanews.com

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Cory taught Filipinos to be ’socially engaged’

CORAZON “Cory” Aquino showed Catholics the need to be socially engaged, a bishop told a memorial service marking the first anniversary of the death of the late president.

Aquino showed that “as Catholics we should be socially engaged, that piety is not just prayer, but is for social transformation,” Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan told ucanews.com after an anniversary Mass on Aug. 1.

Some 2,000 government officials, community and business leaders joined the Aquino family and friends at the St. Benilde gymnasium of La Salle Green Hills for the Mass commemorating Aquino’s death after a battle with colon cancer.

“Like a whirlwind, the wake and the funeral of President Cory awakened in us a new spirit of nationalism, a resurrection of lost pride as Filipinos,” Villegas said in his homily.

© Full report at ucanews.com

Autistic artist shares his ‘blessings’

ARTIST Jose Antonio Tan who grew up with autism plans to donate part of the proceeds of his painting exhibition to a local autism center as a way of “sharing” his blessings.

The 24-year-old artist and his family are donating 150,000 pesos (US$3,300) to the Autism Resource Center of Los Banos in Laguna province near Manila.

The center was founded by a parents’ group to help young adult and adolescent autism sufferers develop their skills.

The artist also “would like to make a difference to the world of autism even in a small way,” said Jose Antonio’s mother Zelie Tan.

© Full report at ucanews.com

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Malacañang and esteros

Commentary : Malacañang and esteros

By Denis Murphy
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Posted date: July 28, 2010

RECENTLY WITHIN a span of one week, I visited two places that are within walking distance of each other, but look so completely different you wouldn’t think they belong to the same city: Estero de San Miguel and Malacañang.

We had a host in each area: Aling Imelda Ramos, 72, on the estero and President Aquino himself in Malacañang. We were fortunate to spend a good bit of time with each of these persons. At the end, we felt that the places may be very different, but there is the same Filipino sensibility in both, especially the ability to see the serious side of reality, but also the amusing side, which is surely a great virtue for a poor woman or a president to have.

Along one of the dark and narrow alley ways of Estero de San Miguel we met Aling Imelda. She was seated on her bangkito washing clothes, but she stood up to talk to us. It was a dismal place. She could see we were reacting to the smells of urine and worse, so she said, “We don’t smell it anymore. We’re used to it.” Back along the alleyway we had seen human waste pouring from pipes that extended out over the water from buildings across the way. At one point there was an explosion like a bomb going off. We ducked but it wasn’t a bomb. It was a large plastic bag of garbage dropped into the estero from the fourth story of another building. There were other “explosions” as we talked to Aling Imelda.

She is now in her 70s and has lived there since the time of President Elpidio Quirino. There are between 500 and 600 families living in her section of the estero. She says they are happy because they are long-time residents who know each other and trust each other. “We take care of each other. Most of us are vendors, so we are close to our working areas.”

The government is threatening to remove them from the estero, because it is judged to be a “danger” area, she said, though in the 50 years or more she has lived there nothing bad has happened to them. Even “Ondoy” didn’t hurt them. “It came up to my waist but no one was hurt,” she said. She added, “We don’t want anything from government. We wish they would leave us alone.”

The government talks of esteros and the estimated 80,000 families living on them as if they were all the same and as if one solution could suit all. Esteros differ from one another as much as people do. Not all people on esteros have to be relocated. Some can be accommodated along the banks, allowing for proper easement. Some have to move out. Some can live on idle land nearby. In some esteros people may very well block the water. In others they probably don’t. The government should study each estero carefully. God and the devil are in the details.

Rats peered out at us from cracks in the flooring of the alley. Maybe they wanted to know what was going on.

Replacing the warmth, friendship, security and mutual aid practices of such communities as Aling Imelda’s is very, very difficult for government to do in the best of circumstances. How can it do that for 80,000 families who don’t want to move?

Patiently Aling Imelda answered all our questions, though the soap bubbles in her washbasin had disappeared and her once clean looking clothes were lying there like dead fish. It was simple courtesy that kept her there talking to us.

A few days later my wife, myself, some urban poor people and NGOs were invited to meet President Noynoy in Malacañang. My wife had complained to friends in the Cabinet that the President and his advisers had completely neglected the urban poor once the election was finished. When the President heard of that complaint, he called for the meeting.

We met in a truly beautiful room. It is used for meetings, but it had the comfortable lived-in air of a family sala. President Cory Aquino had held office there. There were flowers, rare white orchids and oil paintings, one of which showed the moon and a pine forest at night in a blue mist. Everything was restful. We waited for the President at a table for 20 people.

There was a rustle of activity and a powerful looking bodyguard came into the room and gave us a quick look-over. There was no sign of what he thought of us. Then the president came in, talking even as he came near, drowning out the voice of the female assistant who called out, “The President of the Republic of the Philippines.”

We spent over an hour with the President. He could have handled our complaints in 10 or 15 minutes if he wanted. We presented some good and some not-so-good ideas. He listened to them all and talked about them. He explained why he had made certain appointments. He reminisced about concerns that had recently been brought to his attention, that most Philippine provinces, for example, are at high risk of very damaging disasters, and no province is not at risk. He talked about Pagasa’s failure to predict the path of “Basyang” and how he’ll have to attract investments to get better facilities.

Our group appreciated the way he put everyone at ease. He talked about his problems and listened to his visitors’ problems. He laughed a lot. He is not in a hurry. He had time to inquire into the details of some problems presented.

As I was listening to him talk I was reminded of Aling Imelda on Estero de San Miguel.

“Who do we go to when we have problems?” our group asked.

“Come to me,” he said. An agreement was made that he would meet once a month with the urban poor.

The places are totally different—the estero and Malacañang—but the people living in the two places are very much alike, which promises well for the long-range progress of the country, it seemed to us.

Denis Murphy works with the Urban Poor Associates. His e-mail address is upa@pldtdsl.net.


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