Category Archives: Advocacies

Paying It Forward to the Youth, for the Youth and by the Youth

Paying It Forward to the Youth, for the Youth and by the Youth

A civic space can only be great when there is truly a public place to make meaningful and collaborative exchanges. While this could be another motherhood statement, allow me to talk from memory, from experience, from the heart.

I’m writing this to maybe, somehow encourage and inspire all those who think that they are doing a thankless job in the humanitarian and development sector. The altruistic feeling of being able to help cannot be exchanged with money, the exact experience when you were present in the very moment of being able to help can never be lost and the pure happiness that it brings you are the things that you will forever be your positive guiding light as you go along with life.

I’m now 37 although I still feel 19, the time when I started being part of the Commission on Population’s (POPCOM) Adolescent Health and Youth Development Program (AHYDP) focusing on promotion of good health and well-being specifically, the youth who are more vulnerable and most often feel invincible. I have pledged to myself that I will always help my fellow youth in all that I can with the technical and adaptive expertise that I’ve learned through the years. Right after my own training by CSOs and youth organizations when I myself was a teenager, I decided to help the youth organizations around the world, registered or not, other CSOs, and co-founded a youth organization called “Artistikong Kabataan Philippines, Inc.” (AKP)  a non-profit, non-governmental organization, whose principal activities primarily consist of creativity, connections, charity, and cross cultural communications based in Manila. Our members are youth volunteers who also help in providing civic spaces for their fellow youth. Yes, there’s a ripple effect to this. All those youth that we’ve trained, shown goodness somehow paid it forward like we did. Youth participation is very crucial since their fellow peers will only listen to them. We succeeded because the youth wants to be involved; the youth wants to step up, to lead and be heard. We succeeded because the youth saw our love for them. No drama, only genuine concern.

The best part that I’m most proud of is that those whom I have trained and mentored under the AHYDP have grown to be better citizens, young professionals who still help the next generation of youth organizations starting their own CSOs if not joining the government.

There is no framework. It’s all about having a good heart. It’s all about believing in the advocacy of keeping the civic space open and free for those who want to extend help and support as well.

As for now, I have started my own CSO in my province, and yes, I have started paying it forward.

How about you?


11th International Youth Day (IYD), Aug. 10-12, 2010, PICC

11th International Youth Day (IYD), Aug. 10-12, 2010, PICC

Dear Peace and Human Rights Advocate,

Warm greetings of peace and human rights!

In the tradition of youth service for national and global development, the United Nations Association of the Philippines (UNAP), through its youth arm , the United Nations Youth Association of the Philippines (UNYAP), will hold the 11th International Youth Day Convention on 10-12 August 2010 at the Philippine International Convention Center, Manila, Philippines. The celebration of International Youth Day started after the United Nations General Assembly approved resolution 54/120 in 17 December 1999 based on the recommendation of the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for the Youth (LISBON, 8-12, 1998)DECLARING August 12 as international youth day in the Philippines. The celebration was institutionalized by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 229 signed on August 12 2002 by Her Excellency President Macapagal-Arroyo declaring every August 12 as Philippine International Youth Day.

With the theme Strengthening Peace and Human Rights Education for the Youth : Key to Sustainable Development, the convention aims to increase the participants’ awareness on peace and human rights education practices, issues, challenges and future directions in eth country and the world. It also helps to increase the participation of the youth sector in the fulfillment of the UN, Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) using peace and human rights perspective. This year’s IYD celebration is in accordance with the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) for Executive Order 570 entitled Institutionalizing Peace Education in Basic Education and Teacher Education and in keeping with the World Programmed for Human Rights Education.

The three-day event consists of various activities that will cater to intellectual, cultural, social and aesthetic expectations and interests of the participants. It is mindful of the following three international commemorative events: International Day of Indigenous Peoples (August 9), International Humanitarian Law Day (August 12), and International Youth Day (August 12). The convention will equip you the necessary skills as you go back to their respective localities. Institutions and embark on dynamic programs along peace and human rights education.

In this connection we would like to invite you to participate as a delegate to the International Youth Day convention. A minimal registration fee of (P 4,000.00) shall be charged to over expenses for food, accommodation and handouts during the convention.

Should you need further information, please free to contact yours truly, Ms Anna Karina Jardin, lead convenor (youth) at telefax nos. 4042310, mobile no. 0920-938-2691 or email

You may also contact the Secretariat, Rhea Peñaflor at or


Tags: , , , , , ,

9 Filipinos are Delegates to the One Asia Forum

9 Filipinos are Delegates to the One Asia Forum

NINE FILIPINOS were chosen as delegates to the One Asia Forum out of a total of 90 participants from all over Asia.

They are Norhana Kamid, Anna Karina Jardin, Rhea Peñaflor, Randymax Bulaquit, John Nery Tamayo, Armieyah Ayob, Bobby Gerardo and National Youth Commission’s Commissioner Raul Dominic Badilla and Executive Assistant Jerremy Bayucot.

One Asia Forum is organized by Asian Youth Council, an NGO in consultative status with the United Nations’ Economic and Social Commission (ECOSOC), formed on the 14th of August 1972, to promote the solidarity and family spirit among young people in Asia as well as to strengthen national youth organizations in the region.

Asian Youth Council has organized regional-level youth programmes in Seoul, Korea (2008), Beijing, China (2007), Batam, Indonesia and Ulanbataar, Mongolia (2007) and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (2006).

One Asia Forum is a platform for young people to sit and discuss the roles of social media in development. The aim is to inspire a generation of youth with strong understanding of the internet to contribute their social media exposure for positive development and a better future for the region.

It is also a forum for discussion on how social media can bring young people from across Asia to collaborate on new social and economics projects. It provides the opportunity for them to share their thoughts and projects with their peers from other Asian countries. At the end of the day, it is our hope that this One Asia Forum will spawn new initiatives that will take Asia to a greater height – if not now, in the near future!

The theme of One Asia Forum is “Youth and Social Media: Online Collaborations and the Future of Asia”. One Asia Forum is comprised of lectures, discussions and “Youth Speak! workshops”. It is a participant-centered programme and all participants are expected to take active roles during the Forum.

One Asia Forum is hosted by Malaysian Youth Council (MYC), a national youth council for Malaysia, and organized with cooperation of and supported by Committee for Asean Youth Cooperation (CAYC) and the Institute for Minds Development (INMIND), Malaysia. It is supported by the Ministry of Youth and Sports Malaysia.

One Asia Forum will be held at Swiss-Garden Hotel, Kuala Lumpur which is located in the bustling Bukit Bintang area, from the 8th – 10th of December, 2009. All participants are expected to arrive at the hotel before 5 pm on the 8th of December.

All participants will travel to Melaka on 11th of December to take part in World Assembly of Youth 60th Anniversary Celebration. Programmes end on the 13th of December, with participants taking back nice memories to their countries.


COMELEC’s “Miseducation” and “Misplaced” Homophobia

COMELEC’s “Miseducation” and “Misplaced” Homophobia
By Rhea B. Peñaflor

Recently, I watched the program, Civic Debates over ANC on the dismissal of the petition of “Ang Ladlad,” (for the benefit of foreign readers, it means “The Coming Out”) a group comprising of bona fide sectoral organization of Lesbians, Gays, BisexuaIs, and Transgenders (LGBT), “like-minded individuals with the same concerns and interests”, seeking COMELEC accreditation as a party-list representative.

The debate was between Rep. Bienvenido “Benny” Abante, Jr. who is currently serving his second term as representative from the 6th District of Manila, as well as the full-time Senior Pastor of the Metropolitan Bible Baptist Church and Ministries and Prof. Danton Remoto, national chairman of “Ang Ladlad”.

Danton Remoto, a prolific writer and outstanding teacher as the founder of “Ang Ladlad” was becoming frustrated for this is the THIRD time their group filed a petition as a party-list group. I was watching the debate and I heard Remoto right, all the group wanted was to have a representation in Congress for the LGBT that they will not be discriminated at work or school by reason of their sexual orientation. It is about equality regardless of sexual orientation. It was also about protecting this marginalized and underrepresented sector of the society that when they grow old, they have somewhere to go as Remoto puts it.

Why then is COMELEC so scared to accredit “Ang Ladlad” as a partylist group?
The answer is quite simple.

The Philippines is still a very homophobic country. And it will remain to be HOMOPHOBIC as long as we have the same kind of resolution full of prejudice and biases penned by COMELEC. The COMELEC teaches us to despise LGBT. That the LGBT is an immoral group of people, therefore, we should not give them a chance to be heard. COMELEC’s “misplaced” homophobia, without any basis, tells us that GAYS are bad news or right away, immoral. Again, COMELEC’s basis is unfounded.

Simply put, LGBT’s have no room in our society.

We are a very conservative country where predominantly, the people are Catholic. The issue is not whether or not we are straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. The issue is whether or not we live immoral lives as human beings. Do we swindle other people or do another person wrong? Then even if one is straight or not, he or she shall still be punishable. He or she shall still be answerable to all his or her acts or omissions. He or she can still be immoral regardless of his or her sex orientation.

Rep. Benny Abante as he said is a traditional man. No problem with that. The law is there to prevent anarchy and chaos. Rep. Abante’s points are also very sound when he believes that orientation can be changed. True, it can be changed for others, but it is also a reality that there are those who struggled in accepting themselves for fear that they will also not be accepted by others. I respect though those who choose to keep quiet about their own sex orientation as that is one’s choice to flaunt or not, otherwise there is that fear that your family or friends might disown you.

Rep. Abante also has a point when he said that if “Ang Ladlad” is talking about wanting a representation in Congress on human rights, then we have lots already. Human rights we have to admit is encompassing. All “Ang Ladlad” asks is to be accredited as a party-list group so they can already run in the coming May 2010 national elections. If the people would not vote for “Ang Ladlad” then, the people has spoken. That is what DEMOCRACY is all about, after all.

As a POPCOM-trained peer educator/counselor, I would like to define some terms which are often misused, thus, create confusion and misunderstanding.

The word “sex” refers to one’s being male or female. That is why in many trainings, fora and symposia, the best way to remember this is by telling the audience especially the adolescents that what you see down there is your sex. “Is it vagina or a penis that you see, tell me? I-check abi” (Please check), I would jokingly tell them. Unless you’re hermaphrodite or the politically correct medical term now is intersexual, then you’re either male or female. Sex therefore, is biological. Gender on the other hand, is what comes after. Now that you know that biologically you are a female or a male, how do you act? Do you act masculine or feminine? That now is gender.

Sex orientation is one’s being straight, gay or homosexual, or bisexual. In short, it is one’s sexual attraction to another person. It answers the question, “Is he attracted to the same sex, opposite sex or both?”

While it is true that one’s sex orientation may be changed as emotions change, experiences change and there are many factors to consider why one is gay, lesbian or bisexual. The sad part though is there are LGBT who have tried to change or have struggled to change because of the stigma. Now the problem is if they cannot change, then what can they do? There are those who do not act on their being homosexual. They recognize it but they do not act on it.

Good for those who are straight. Bad if you are either LGBT. Bad if you are too honest to admit that you are one of them. Worse, if you come out and say that you are one. It has always been a taboo because we know that the society is there to bully the LGBT as opinion columnist Raul Pangalangan also stressed in his article dated Nov.19, 2009.

Now that the “Ang Ladlad” is fed up of the excuses of COMELEC’s miseducation, it is high time that the people take a stand on this. One need not be LGBT in order to take a stand. This is how a free and self-governing society should be.

To quote COMELEC’s resolution, “We are not condemning the LGBT, but we cannot compromise the well-being of the greater number our people, especially the youth.”

What basis do the COMELEC have? And what well-being are they talking about? Are they at the same time underestimating the understanding of the youth? I have trained and helped adolescents and the youth for so many years now and I think that they are more than desensitized than the close-minded COMELEC.

Let me quote the famous poet Rod Mckuen, “It doesn’t matter who you love, or how you love, but that you love.”

Peace, COMELEC! The Supreme Court as the court of the last resort is still fair and just.
There is still hope, “Ang Ladlad”.


IYO in Concert a success

IYO in Concert a success
By Rhea B. Peñaflor
Updated September 13, 2007, Iloilo City, Philippines, The News Today

* Musical pieces from the Suzuki violin method, works of J.S. Bach, Antonio Vivaldi among others were performed

Last Sept. 2, 2007, Iloilo Youth Orchestra, Inc.(IYO) held its concert with a bang.

IYO is a non-stock, non-profit organization duly incorporated by Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) on January 3, 2007. It has the mission of training and developing local musicians, creating performance opportunities for musical artists, promoting collaboration with local artists and encouraging the involvement and support of the local community in the artistic endeavors of the organization.

Department of Tourism (DOT) Director Edwin Trompeta as well as Hector Alejano, executive assistant and representative of City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas were among the honorary guests of the said concert. Families and friends of the performers as well as those interested in the orchestra and music came to watch the concert at the Philippine National Red Cross Hall, Bonifacio Drive.

Musical pieces from the Suzuki violin method, works of J.S. Bach, Antonio Vivaldi among others were performed by the IYO trainees John Caleb Barlin, Hananeel Barlin, John Joshua Barlin, Krizzia Grace Bas, Suzanne Marie Carmona, Sunshine Elizabeth Do, Ayanna Benita Galotera, Christian James Galotera, Josua James Angelo Galotera, Kevin Lance Gaw Te, Sean Dylan Gaw Te, Marie Isabel Layson, Joshua Nell Daniel Lirazan, Janella Grace Munion, Briann Hans Ong, Ira Ann Grace Ong, Donald Cedrick Po, Tiffany Lei Po, Stacey Sophie Ravago, Julia Theresa Regalado, James Michael Sharman, Ariane Therese Templora, Angela Grace Tibudan, Mary Celine Clare Tingson, Anna Katharina Tirador, Daryll Uygongco and James Young.

Cocktail reception followed after at the PNRC Youth Training Center’s lobby.

The concert was sponsored by GMA Network, Junior Chamber International Iloilo (JCI) and The News Today (TNT).


A Growing Population Means That We Have To Survive Each Other By Rhea B. Peñaflor

A Growing Population Means That We Have To Survive Each Other
By Rhea B. Peñaflor

As of this writing, the world’s population is about 6.8 B.

In our country alone, primary statistical agency of the government National Statistics Office (NSO) projects that this year’s population will reach 92.23 M.

This means that the Philippine population will reach over 140 million by the year 2040 according to the final results from the 2000 census-based population projects.

As the world population grows, it is inevitable that WE HAVE TO SURVIVE EACH OTHER.
There is just no denying that the impact of a growing population is a universal problem.

Why so? This is because according to a research presented during the American Association for the Advancement of Science, “as the world population continues to grow geometrically, great pressure is being placed on arable land, water, energy, and biological resources to provide an adequate supply of food while maintaining the integrity of our ecosystem. According to the World Bank and the United Nations, from 1 to 2 billion humans are now malnourished, indicating a combination of insufficient food, low incomes, and inadequate distribution of food. This is the largest number of hungry humans ever recorded in history. In China about 80 million are now malnourished and hungry. Based on current rates of increase, the world population is projected to double from roughly 6 billion to more than 12 billion in less than 50 years.”

True, this may sound highfaluting but this is the reality. Each day, we count how many children will be born with a dim future because of lack of proper information that every woman has a choice.

Our women and even their husbands or partners can still do something by deciding to limit or space pregnancies. Access to voluntary family planning and reproductive health services are readily available in government agencies like Department of Health (DOH), Commission on Population (POPCOM), service health providers in barangays or municipalities and other partner non-governmental organizations (NGO’s).

A growing population has already become alarming but if population will continue to grow significantly, the effect will be devastating.
Imagine when every person is fighting for the most basic need according to Maslow’s hierarchy which is food. It already happened in China and other parts of the world.

In our country, the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) reported in 2006 that 33 out of 100 Filipinos are poor. The severity of poverty in the Philippines needs no photos to show anybody.

“Res ipsa loquitor.” Indeed, one can just take a jeepney and see the shanties mushrooming near the rivers, creeks or just about anywhere. Malnourished children would play along the road like it was their playground.

In some depressed communities, there is only one well where everybody can get water in order to bathe, drink and wash clothes. Worse, in this day and age of civilization, there are still rural and far-flung areas where they have to walk miles in order to get water.
Children have to stop studying or be told not to study at all because there is just not enough money to spend. Some are pushed by their own parents to work.

Four years ago in Brgy. San Jose, Arevalo, Iloilo City, the Educational Research and Development Assistance (ERDA) Foundation adopted some children who used to be child labourers to be their beneficiaries. This program by ERDA is commendable.
ERDA has over 19,000 beneficiaries enrolled in different levels of education all over the country. Its programs enlist school dropouts, child scavengers, street children, out of school youth, child laborers, children in conflict with the law, children of persons afflicted by leprosy and children of indigenous people. ERDA’s educational assistance programs are available from pre-school up to college. Since its inception, ERDA has come to the aid of over 600,000 indigent children all over the country.

ERDA gives free uniform and school supplies to their beneficiaries as well as miscellaneous fees for elementary and high school students who used to be children working in hazardous fireworks factory in Arevalo.

Barangay Health Woker (BHW) Anabelle Indencio and Barangay Nutrition Scholar (BNS) Noreen Abada share that there are many communities with malnourished children because of poor health practices in the areas of these affected children.

Indencio futher explains that the problem is the congestion and the over-crowdedness of the houses which makes it dangerous to public health especially to children.

Abada on the other hand expressed that there are only 9 malnourished children in Brgy. San Jose at the moment. This is because they closely monitor the children weighing them if they have the expected weight according to their age. But she said that it is also difficult to expect that because these children come from poor families and they do not get the proper nutrition from their food intake.

There is still time to act. Empowering our women that spacing and limiting pregnancies is a good choice is the first step if our women want to do their share.

Public Well

Public Well

Oblivious to life's harsh reality

Oblivious to life's harsh reality


Thailand’s Cabbages and Condoms Restaurant

Thailand’s Cabbages and Condoms Restaurant
By Rhea B. Peñaflor
(February 7, 2008, Iloilo City, Philippines, The News Today)

Philippine non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) can learn from Thailand’s Cabbages and Condoms Restaurant (C & C).

The Philippines, known to have citizens who appreciate good food and good service can actually follow the business model pioneered by Population and Community Development Association (PDA).

PDA’s creation of the Cabbages and Condoms Restaurant, one of the most famous restaurants with a branch located at Sukhumvit Soi 12, Bangkok, Thailand was conceptualized in part to promote better understanding and acceptance of family planning and to generate income to support various development activities of the PDA.

A visit to this unique restaurant would make one think of the Latin maxim, “Res ipsa loquitor”. Indeed, the restaurant speaks for itself. Its advocacy is geared towards HIV/AIDS education and one of which is condom use in order to prevent not only the proliferation of HIV/AIDS but on the onset, sexually transmitted infections.

A souvenir shop with handicraft items and accessories advocating condom use and HIV/AIDS awareness, a billboard of clear stickman pictures on how one gets infected with HIV/AIDS and dozens of different kinds of condoms in a box with Democrat and Republican size will greet guests before going to the restaurant.

It is one of a kind restaurant and its income contributes to Thailand’s rural development, education and scholarships, HIV/AIDS education and environmental protection.

In parallelism, in Region VI alone, the Commission on Population has always been aggressive with its Adolescent Health and Youth Development Program (AHYDP). Trained peer counselors have counseling-on-air radio programs, “Tingog Sang Pamatan-on Sa Hutik Sang Kagab-ihon” (Voice of the Youth in the Whispers of the Night) aired over Bombo Radyo, Philippines and “Lamharon” (The Adolescent) aired over DYLL, Radyo Ng Bayan.

These are not enough medium to reach out a mass audience and so these trained peer counselors reach their co-peers through symposia in their schools, universities and even communities. There are also many instances where these symposia are conducted solely for the parents, guardians or teachers for them to have better understanding in handling adolescents.

Advocating a healthy sex lifestyle among adolescents has never been easy. It has been a step by step leap trying to educate everybody in whatever medium, be it in radio or by word of mouth or simply by speaking in front of a large audience.

POPCOM’s Regional Youth Coordinator Angie Tanongtanong for several years now have been very supportive in advocating the AHYDP. POPCOM Regional Director Vicente “Bugoy” Molejona also shares the same sentiment. But again, this is not enough.

POPCOM is a government agency. Its mandate is not aimed for business or profit. It would not look good to have a proprietary function. It can only do so much. But NGO’s here can sustain their projects by following the C & C Restaurant’s business model. Or at least, NGO’s here can take a time off and just even look at it, consider this kind of business model.

It could work.

After all, there is no harm in trying.