The Wall, a message of Peace

(The following article was written as part of my final paper for the on campus session we had with Dr.V. Dr.V lectured us on history and journalism. In our class discussions I asked Dr. V for some guidance on our research paper we had to write for history and he send me in the direction of  Camp Aguinaldo. I was inspired by the Bandido movement in media, the art around the camp and I completed the paper on this topic.

During our Multimedia on campus class, I took the chance to head out to meet Ag Sano early on a Sunday morning, he was the main artist behind this wall mural. I wish I had more time to complete the story when I was in Manila, but the research has started and this is definitely a story that I will keep researching and hopefully one day when I get back to Manila, will be able to complete.

The video is not complete. There is still a lot of work to be done. I would like to contact the site owners of the archival sites where I found footage and old documents and photographs and ask for permission to use the archive footage and soundbites. I need permission.  This is a time consuming process and hopefully, when I have time I can pursue it. A process started.

If anyone wants to read the complete paper, just drop me a message. Lizane)


The wall, A message of peace

A peaceful revolution speared by media. This Bandido movement inspired the world’s largest art mural around a military camp.


The walls around Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City. Philippines. The world’s largest peace memorial. Photo Lizane Louw

The brush strokes and colors on this wall, the longest peace wall in the world, speak of peace.

“Prayers and rosaries strengthened by faith were the only weapons that the Filipinos used to recover their freedom from President Ferdinand Marcos’s iron hands.” EDSA People Power Revolution, Philippine History.

Both revolutions took place on Epifanio de Los Santos Avenue in Quezon City. Manila. This is also home to Camp Aguinaldo, the headquarters of the armed forces of the Philippines.

Positive Peace-themed images guard Camp Aguinaldo today. The colorful mural run along EDSA, Epifanio de Los Santos Avenue, White Plains Avenue, and Col. Bonny Serrano Avenue in Quezon City.


The colorful walls of Camp Aguinaldo, are talking to those who pass it by every day. It is speaking a language of peace through art.

“Lakbay Para Sa Kapayapaan an EDSA,” or in English “A Journey of Peace in EDSA” spans 3.77 kilometers. The artworks on the walls are symbols for Bayanihan (Solidarity with the People), Pagmamahal a Bayan (Love for Country), and Kapayapaan (Peace).

The wall tells stories of peace, stories of Bayanihan, solidarity in solving armed conflicts, it promotes awareness of cultural diversity, difference, and ethnicity. The wall art speaks of Philippine history. The paintbrushes of the community were used to encourage peace building, the work aims to foster cultural and religious understanding, tolerance and appreciation.

It is a 4 km symbol of hope of the people of this city. With images of friendship, peace, and unity, famous Philippine landmarks like the Chocolate Hills in Bohol and the Mayon Volcano in Albay, it also paints pictures of love, understanding, and reconciliation.

The aim of the wall is to promote peace, unity, understanding and acceptance, among races, religions, and cultures.

The project was a joint effort of the AFP, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, the Dolphins Love Freedom Movement, and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority.

On May 26, 2013, people from all walks of life came together to paint this work of art. The mural was inaugurated on was July 27, 2013.

“Collective memory helps bring the past into the present, strengthens protest identities, provides shared meanings to different social movements and allows the imagination of alternatives to the current system.” (Quinsaat S, 2016).

The wall is an artwork representing collective memory, portraying a memory of a dark history and reminding the citizens of their power and strength.

18 November 2016, Heroes’ Cemetery. Manila

 “Protesters shout anti-Marcos slogans denouncing the burial of former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (heroes’ cemetery), along a main street in Taft avenue, metro Manila, Philippines November 18, 2016. REUTERS. Photo Romeo Ranoco. Reuters

EDSA and the monuments on the site of Peoples Power Revolution were in the news again in the past week. Ferdinand Marcos received a hero’s burial in the city of Manila. His body was laid to rest at ‘Libingan ng Mga Bayani’ (LNMB) or heroes’ cemetery, about 18km from where the revolution took place.

“The main call of protesters at the People Power Monument grand rally on Wednesday, November 30, is for the government to exhume Ferdinand Marcos’ remains from the Libingan ng Mga Bayani” (Paison, 2016)

Various peaceful protests in Manila reflect the sentiment that the general public is not happy about the current government’s decision to bury Marcos in the cemetery made for heroes.

Rallies are planned not only in Manila and the rest of the Philippines but also abroad.

Again today the media, social network sites like Facebook and Twitter will be very active and be part of a collective movement.

The symbolism for the nation is important. The EDSA Revolution and the fight for freedom will definitely echo in the streets around EDSA today. For years this has been a space of power for the people. Even in a yearly commemoration of the EDSA Revolution.

FEBRUARY 25, 2016 marked the 30th anniversary of the Peoples Power Revolution. “Movement participants in the EDSA Revolution has seized the opportunity of the 30th anniversary to construct a collective memory of the uprising and the Marcos dictatorship, not only as a cure to historical amnesia and authoritarian nostalgia, but also as a means of reclaiming the “power to the people” that was lost with the proclamation of a member of a landed political dynasty as president, after the departure of the Marcos’s.” Government Philipines.

Today on 30th of November 2016, protests will show the immediacy, power, influence and effect the media has on social change and events important for a growing democracy.

Since November 18, citizens has come together and shared the collective energy and stood together against Marcos, for the second time in history. The sentiments of Bayanihan (Solidarity with the People), Pagmamahal a Bayan (Love for Country), and Kapayapaan (Peace) will echo in the streets of Manila and the world once more.

“Students flash the thumbs down sign as they burn an effigy of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos during a rally near the Presidential Palace to condemn last week’s burial Marcos at the Heroes’ Cemetery Friday, Nov. 25, 2016 in Manila, Philippines. Long-dead Marcos was buried last Friday at the country’s Heroes’ Cemetery in a secrecy-shrouded ceremony, a move approved by President Rodrigo Duterte that infuriated supporters of the “people power” revolt that ousted Marcos three decades ago. AP/Bullit Marquez” AP


 Interesting facts:

These facts where found in the article “29 interesting facts about the EDSA revolution.”

  • “People Power Revolution” is also tagged as the “EDSA Revolution,” “Yellow Revolution,” “Bloodless Revolution” and “1986 Philippine Revolution.”


  • “Despite the presence of tank-riding soldiers and big guns, not a single shot was fired. Thus, People Power Revolution was the first nonviolent, bloodless revolution that ever took place.”


  • “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” was Ninoy’s comeback song. Because he was assassinated upon walking off the plane, the Filipinos took their cue from the song and since then used color yellow as their symbol of rebellion.”


  • “The L hand symbol (done by extending the thumb and the index finger pointing up) means “laban” (to fight). It was the eminent hand gesture of protesters during the revolution.”


  • “Aside from wearing yellow clothes and tying yellow ribbons on trees and posts, phone directories (which is color yellow) were ripped apart on demonstrations and were used as confetti.”


  • “After hearing the news that Marcos had already abandoned the palace, Fidel Ramos was the one who announced to the thick crowd the good news, while jumping with joy. Up to now, the jumping he did is still symbolic in EDSA celebrations.”


  • “On the day Marcos and his family departed the country for exile in Hawaii, Corazon Aquino was inaugurated as the 11th and the first female president of the Philippines.”



I have been researching this story for a while and collected some interesting sources on storify. This can be found here:

DSA People Power Revolution. (n.d.). Retrieved November 30, 2016, from

Enriquez, Elizabeth L. 2006. Media as Site of Social Struggle: The Role of Philippine Radio and Television in the EDSA Revolt of 1986 – Plaridel Journal. Retrieved November, 2016, from

Global Nonviolent Action Database. (n.d.). Retrieved November 30, 2016, from

77 Hours: The Behind-the-Scenes at the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution. (n.d.). Retrieved November 30, 2016, from

(n.d.). Key players in the 1986 People Power Revolution. Retrieved November 2016, from

29 interesting facts about the EDSA revolution. (n.d.). Retrieved November 30, 2016, from

McGeown, K. (n.d.). People Power at 25: Long road to Philippine democracy. Retrieved November 2016, from

Mydans, S. (2001). ‘People Power II’ Doesn’t Give Filipinos the Same Glow. Retrieved November, 2016, from

A History of the Philippine Political Protest | GOVPH. Retrieved November 2016, from

The Story of EDSA 2. (n.d.). Retrieved November 2016, from

Posted by: cmfr Posted on: February 25, 2011, 4:46 pm. (n.d.). The truth shall set us free: The role of Church-owned radio stations in the Philippines. Retrieved November 2016, from

Presidential Museum and Library, Official Tumbler Page.

The 1986 People Power Revolution. (n.d.). Retrieved November, 2016, from of events/timelineofevents.html

The Return to a Democratic Nation: The 1986 People’s Power Revolution. (n.d.). Retrieved November, 2016, from

Group A – People’s Power Revolution Podcast. (n.d.). Retrieved November 30, 2016, from

Quinsaat, S. 2016. Tag Archives: People Power Revolution. (n.d.). Retrieved November 2016, from



The Wall, a message of Peace

How Sri Lanka Copes With Rice Shortages?

Worst drought in four decades; affects nearly 1 million people


Despite the start of monsoon rain and arrival of rice imports, fears of rice shortages prevail in Sri Lanka.

As a result of drought during the past five months, Water reservoirs are low. Some are down to one fifth of their capacity.

Farmers have only planted a third of the usual 800,000 hectares of paddy for rice in the big ‘Maha’ season. The lowest in 30 years.

Hector Kobbekaduwa of the Agrarian Research and Training Institute said Sri Lanka needs 2.3 million MT of rice a year.  The current projections estimate 1.44 Million of rice production.

Hambantota farmers blame drought and govt for rice shortage

Hambantota is one of the badly affected rice growing areas in Sri Lanka. Finally, the rains started to revive the paddy field after several months of dry hot weather.

But for farmers damage has been already done in the big season.

“In our Mayurapura area in Mahawali zone all tanks dried up and our entire work (agriculture) come to a halt because of the lack of water,” Lionel Weeravansa , farmer said. “In Mayurapura zone this time we are only able to do paddy in between 50 to 60 acres because of drought. Otherwise we do 2000 to 3000 acres.”

Farmers say the weather and a corrupt supply system creates undue hardships.

“Last year the rain was not good , this year it is many times worse. Because of the drought We have too many debts to pay” says Wimalasena Gamage.

“We grow the paddy , after harvesting we give it to black market Mudalalis (businessmen) and receive the money. If government fixes a price of rice per kilo for 45 rupees, we have to bear lots of expenditure in between and with the commission to Mudalalis some time we end up selling for 28 rupees per kilo,” said farmer

Wimalasiri Gamage. <What’s this about fixed sale price?>

World Food Programme estimated over 900,000 people face acute food insecurity status.

Minister of Trade and Commerce Risard Bathiudeen said in a statement that the government has imported 86,000 tons of rice as a precaution to avert shortages.

“ By importing we can’t control cost of living. Singapore is the best example. They depend on 100% imports. Can you afford to live in that country?” says S. Madhan, 31, a rice trader in Pettah.

Furthermore, rice traders say unavailability of integrated data is one of the reasons for the uncertainty in the market.

“In India farmers and traders know the price of agricultural items such as onions though that is a huge country. But in Sri Lanka we don’t have the data.” says S. Madhan, 31, a rice trader in Pettah. He worked as a trader for nearly ten years in Mannarkudi in Tamil Nadu, India.

The Monsoon rain is expected to continue.  But it is unclear whether it is enough to do paddy cultivation for the upcoming Yala season.

“ Last Maha season, the production was low because of the drought which we experienced during the last several months in 2016. And on the other hand 2017, Yala season also still not too sure about how the production going to be.So that is the reason why there are talk about looming food shortage.” syas Lalith Chandrapala, Director General of Meteorology.






How Sri Lanka Copes With Rice Shortages?

Quirky ‘Kikay’ and the quake that shattered dreams

Preschooler dies in Surigao earthquake that hit hardest on poor


DEADLY TREMOR. A bridge near the house of Jenelyn ‘Kikay’ Eballe, 6, collapses during the magnitude earthquake that hit Surigao del Norte on February 10, 2017. (Contributed Photo)
COLORFUL KIKAY. Kikay had a colorful personality who loved dogs and liked to pose for selfies. (Handout Photos)

FOR her March “moving up” ceremony, 6-year old Jenelyn “Kikay” Ebale had only two wishes: a new dress and some coloring stuff for her “class”— she played teacher on the weekends to children from the neighborhood. Her mother, Susanna tolerated the ruckus in their thatched roof home because it gave their youngest child and the only girl of six siblings great joy.

Kikay dreamed of becoming a teacher, and that the first thing she would do when she becomes one is get us a nice house,” said Susanna, 44, flipping through her daughter’s workbooks as tears ran down her cheeks.

She described Kikay as precocious and “kiat” (quirky). She loved animals and had a gift for making people laugh.

Kikay was one of eight casualties in the magnitude 6.7 earthquake that jolted Surigao City at 10:00 p.m. on February 10. The tremor injured more than 200 people, damaged more than 300 buildings and houses, rendered several roads and bridges impassable, and cut power and water for over a week.

[WATCH: Surigao miners first to respond in the aftermath of the magnitude 6.7 earthquake that hit Surigao del Norte] 


The Philippines is one of the most vulnerable nations in the world to natural hazards that includes typhoons, floods, landslides, drought and earthquakes, according to a World Bank study.

Worse, poor families like Kikay’s are more exposed to the dangers of natural calamities and are likely to bear the brunt of their effects, according to the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).

These risks are heightened by the reality that poor Filipino families mostly live in crowded, unsafe villages that lack urban planning. Commonly called “squatter”, these areas are usually excluded from the government’s regular hazard assessments because they are situated in private lands, said Roger de Dios, director of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau in Caraga Region.

Kikay’s family live in one such village, where large branches of trees are left hanging by the roadside.

Angie Chato, the village leader, said the Community Local Environment and Natural Resources Office (CLENRO) did not act on her request to have the towering branches removed.

Kikay was knocked unconscious when one of those tree branches fell and hit Kikay on her head during the violent tremor, said her father, 43-year old Roger Ebale.


When she was rushed to a government hospital, Kikay’s parents were shocked and furious that their daughter could not get immediate treatment because local hospitals lacked basic diagnostic equipment.

REMEMBERING KIKAY. Susanna and Roger Ebale recall Kikay’s last moments with the family (Photo by Danilo Adorador III)

“We were told to go to Davao City, which is a good 12-hour ride by land, but when we requested an ambulance to take us there, we were told that there was none available,” said Roger.
Roger said they approached the city’s emergency response unit for an ambulance but was told that one of its only two medical vehicles broke down, and the other was being used to transport other earthquake victims.

“It was the most depressing and horrifying 24 hours of my life. “

“It was the most depressing and horrifying 24 hours of my life. We were in a race to save our daughter, and yet circumstances kept on frustrating us,” he said.

But it was too late.

Kikay had died on the way to a modern government hospital in Davao City where her parents had hoped she could get a lease on life.

Inside the ambulance, Susanna said she held Kikay’s hands all the time and noticed her drawing her last breath at around 4 a.m. It was February 12, two days since they took her to the hospital.

“I think she would have made it if she received immediate medical attention. She had been suffering for two days,” she pointed out.


While in Davao Kikay’s family missed financial assistance opportunities from the government.

When President Rodrigo Duterte visited the city two days after the February 10 earthquake to hand out cash to the victims and their families, the Ebales missed that. They were in Davao City mourning the loss of their daughter.

When they sought assistance from the City Social Welfare Office to bury their dead, Kikay’s parents were turned away because the agency was still validating the identities of all earthquake victims. They felt frustrated because it had been almost a week after the tremor had hit.

[RELATED VIDEO: Earthquake survivors forced to live in unsafe homes]

Wilma Destajo, head of City Social Welfare Office, admitted the agency lacked manpower to track and identify disaster victims immediately.

She said victims with verified claims can receive P5,000 in burial assistance.

“No proper data, no cash assistance can be handed out to anyone. That’s how government works,” Destajo said.

But the Ebales can’t wait no longer. They would have to bury their dead.

With their last centavo spent, it was a modest funeral procession to the cemetery for Kikay.

BURYING KIKAY. With no money to spend for a funeral car, a tricycle carries Kikay’s coffin to her final resting place. (Handout Photo)

Her father, who used his carpentry skill to make a small coffin for her, borrowed a tricycle to send his daughter to her final resting place.

She was buried on a gloomy Saturday morning, eight days after the tremor that would forever change the life of the Ebales family.

“Tragedies like this are hard when you are poor. It’s harder when you can’t even give your youngest child and only daughter a decent burial,” Kikay’s mother cried.

Quirky ‘Kikay’ and the quake that shattered dreams

Solar energy to rescue drought-stricken Sri Lanka

Solar energy to rescue drought-stricken Sri Lanka

Solar energy to increase the production, reduce the cost and burden on the fuel imports- power ministry

By Ranga Sirilal

Minister of power and renewable energy Ranjith Siyambalapitiya at the Solar Energy Park in Hambantota. Photo courtesy: Minister of power and renewable energy.

Green power including rooftop solar panels are Sri Lanka’s answer to its energy shortages.

Sri Lanka exempt solar power equipments from all taxes and to grant maximum of 350,000 rupees ($2,295) loan under a concessionary interest for all the electricity customers.

The move comes as the Indian ocean island nation launched a campaign to promote electricity generated trough solar panels including rooftop solar panels to face the looming energy crisis due to prolong drought and to reduce its reliance on fossil fuel imports.

“The people ask us to give them concessionary loans we are going to give concessionary loan maximum of 350,000 rupees ($2,295) and the government is to bear the 50 percent of the interest,” Ajith P. Perera, Deputy Minister of Power and Renewable Energy told Ateneo De Manila university xx after the island nations cabinet passed the proposal on Tuesday, March 21.


Perera also said the government has removed the taxes on solar panels and solar inverters in a bid to promote the solar power generation while government has followed an open and transparent tender procedure to build 60 of 1 Mw solar power plants around the country.

“Government is not investing a cent on this program but CEB will buy the electricity (generated) at the rate of 22 rupees per unit to 18.37 rupees a unit.” Perear said adding that the “Solar wind as well as other renewable energy source s will give us energy independence, foreign currency savings and better environment.”

Ministry of power and renewable energy is also promoting solar systems to generate electricity to light the street lights, to supply electricity to rural areas where the national grid is not available, solar powered drip irrigation and solar powered electric fences to protect people from the while elephants in rural villages where the electricity is not available.

“We have decided to provide solar energy systems to one million houses as a solution to power problem. This project will stop foreign exchange flowing out of the country,” Minister of power and renewable energy Ranjith Siyambalapitiya said.

The ministry spokesman said by popularising the low cost solar powered drip irrigation technology in dry zone and Intermediate zones, where the water is scares, will improve the efficiency and sustainable management of water, soil and plant nutrients and the project aims to increase farm productivity, raise farms’ income and improve the lives of rural farmer families living in the dry zones of Sri Lanka.

The local government authorities were also promoting the solar power systems to grenade electricity for their farm lands.

Officials of the North Western province, launching a program to provide solar power systems to generate electricity for farmlands in the area. Picture courtesy



Sri Lanka’s worst drought since the early 1970s has destroyed crops and reduced electricity generation at hydro electrick plants. (Source: Daily Mirror)

Sri Lanka is suffering its worst drought in over 40 years. The lack of rain has reducing the hydro’s share of Sri Lanka’s power mix to below 13 percent by March 14 from an annual average of about 35 percent. Forcing the non-oil producing nation to import larger quantities of fuel to generate thermal powered electricity as the hydro power generation has reduced due to the drought worsening the already bloated balance of payment of the country.

As a result Sri Lanka’s $82 billion economy faces a balance of payment crisis mainly because of increased oil imports for electricity generation and could shoot up the prices of the imported goods amid the country has to import more commodities worsening the situation as the drought destroyed the crop.

Fuel imports in January jumped to double typical monthly levels to plug an energy shortfall


Electricity Generated on : February 22, 2017

Peak Power Demand 2339.1 MW

Reservoir Storage 402.1 GWh



The graphs shows the Sri Lankas energy mix as of

Dr. B.M Suren Batagoda, the secretary to the ministry of power and renewable energy said that around 500 mw, one fourth of the peak demand, is available as backup power in the country and the government will purchase electricity from those private institutions who owns backup power plants as a short term measure.

Batagoda also said that the government has taken measures to reduce the usage of air-conditioners in the state institutions, reduce the timeframe of street lights by two hours, one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening and introduce 10 million low-cost LED lights as a measure to reduce the demand.


The government’s long term electricity generation plan, Batagoda said is the generation of 1000 mw of solar roof-top power from 1 million households in 10 years.

Roof-top solar panels set up at an apartment complex by the JLanka Technologies in capital Colombo generate enough power to run the building. (Source: JK Lanka)

Batagoda said the government is looking at 300 Mw solar power to be added to the national grid in next 5 years including 200Mw rooftop solar units from about 200,000 households.


It is doing this through a new community-based power generation project ‘Soorya Bala Sangramaya‘ or Battle for Solar Energy. The project promotes small solar power plants on the rooftops of households, commercial establishments and industries to generate and use electricity on their premises. They have the option to sell the excess electricity to the national grid or bank it by charging batteries for later use.

“It has reduced my electricity cost and its very convenient. Not only it saves my electricity cost it also saves my fuel cost as I’m using an electric car and is charging at home,” Yohan De Croos said.

A 10-megawatt solar power plant set up by the Hayleys Group PLC and Windforce Pvt Ltd in Welikande in the Polonnaruwa District in Sri Lanka’s north-central province generates enough electricity to power a village (Source: company statement)

Solar energy to rescue drought-stricken Sri Lanka


Crumbling sidewalks, lack of ramps and building accessibility disadvantage people with disabilities

By Farabi Ferdiansyah

foto 13

Taswid and Rohayati sell crackers at the exit gate at East Tebet Traditional Market, South Jakarta. (Photo by: Farabi Ferdiansyah)

Taswid, 48 and his wife Rohayati, 42 years old are a blind crackers seller. Every day, they are sitting on a bench at the exit gate at the East Tebet Traditional Market from 7 AM to 11 AM. They are waiting for people who want to buy their crackers.

“Yang kerupuk, kerupuk (crackers)!” shout Rohayati to attract people attention.

foto 10

Taswid and Rohayati blind crackers seller walk around Tebet and Kebon Baru Street. (Photo by: Farabi Ferdiansyah)

The trip to a market is dangerous. They navigate the streets around Tebet and Kebon Baru, South Jakarta that has no specific signs for impaired person. They have to walk tens of kilometers on a roadside, cross many intersections and railway tracks, without using overpass.  They are risking their life to earn about Rp 100.000 (7$) per day.

He has faced bad experiences as blind cracker seller because of lack of infrastructure for the impaired person.

“I often get hit by a vehicle. Moreover, I fell into a deep hole over 2 meters high,” said who have 2 children.

Taswid and the others disabled people do not have a choice to get a better job. They have to survive even though the infrastructure is not friendly for disabled people.

More Isolated

People with disabilities are less likely to be employed. According to Census 2010, having a mild disability gives a person only a 64.9 percent chance of being employed compared with a nondisabled person. For people with more serious disabilities, that percentage drops significantly to barely more than 10 percent. Demography of Disabled People. They are more isolated than able-bodied people because of the difficulties that they face to get public accesses.

foto 9

Every day Taswid and Rohayati cross intersection and railways in Tebet and Kebon Baru Streets to sells crackers. (Photo by: Farabi Ferdiansyah)

Gufron Sakaril, a chairman of The Indonesia Disabled People Association (PPDI) said that the organization has been lobbying the government to improve the facilities in order to provide better access for people with disabilities.

“The infrastructure is a part of the important factors why disabled people not develop. Many of them find difficulty to get access to school or get a job due to the inadequate infrastructure for disabled people,” said Sakaril.

KAta data

Data from the Central Statistic Agency of DKI Jakarta there are 6.003 disabled people in 2015. South Jakarta is the highest city with 2.290 disabled people. Source: Katadata 


Foto 2

The infrastructure in a metropolitan city in Jakarta does not support disabled people. Disabled people must navigate uneven, broken sidewalks, holes, building without ramps, and lack maintenance. (Photos by: Farabi Ferdiansyah)

Lana Winayati, the advisor of Minister of Public Works and Public Housing admits many infrastructures in Indonesia aren’t disability friendly.

“We need more budged and time to socialize the stakeholders and the regional government as a supervisor in the region to provide the infrastructure that accessible for disabled people,” said Lana.

The urban planning expert from Trisakti University, Nirwono Yoga said the percentage of disability-friendly infrastructure is very low because there are no sanction and control from the government.

“The participation of people with disability in urban planning is not optimum, starting from planning, construction and the arrangement of the city,” he added.


95 Filipino children die every day from malnutrition

By Che de los Reyes

The number of malnourished children is increasing because of poverty, neglect, and stigma. A new government health program engages community to overcome malnutrition.

A mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) tape detects if a child is malnourished. Green = well-nourished Yellow = moderate acute malnutrition Red = severe acute malnutrition and the child needs immediate treatment. Photo by Che de los Reyes

The light of the flickering candle illuminates the little boy’s face as he nibbles on a piece of bread. It is lunchtime.

The boy of nearly two years and his two school aged brothers are eating their first and only meal of the day. The older boy reaches for another piece of bread, but the bag is already empty.

The boys’ mother had a nervous breakdown last month and is in a mental institution. Their father Roger, 41, can’t drive his pedicab when no one will take care of the youngest, Emmanuel.

Kapag hindi ako nakakapagtrabaho katulad ngayon, tinatabihan ko na lang sila ng tinapay. Mamaya, isasama ko sila, iikot na naman kami, hahanap ng mauutangan (When I’m not able to work, like today, I set aside bread for them. Later, I’ll bring them with me, we’ll go around the neighborhood and find someone who can lend us cash),” he says. Roger’s real name is concealed in this story to protect the identities of his minor children.

Roger is feeling the pressure to provide for his family. This morning, Emmanuel was diagnosed with severe acute malnutrition. The boy needs immediate treatment or he will die.

Save the Children estimates that 95 children in the Philippines die each day from causes related to malnutrition.

An invisible emergency

Malnutrition, especially acute malnutrition, is an invisible emergency.

“Most of the time, these children are neglected, especially the under-five year olds,” Dr. Celna Mae Tejare of humanitarian group Action Against Hunger says.

This is rooted, she says, in traditional practices where the families with limited food give priority to feeding those with jobs.

Roger lights up a candle to illuminate the room even during midday. They have been without electricity for several years. Photo by Che de los Reyes

“We tend to neglect that those under five need it more,” she adds.

Such neglect leads to chronic malnutrition. Nearly three out of every 10 Filipino children below two years old are suffering from chronic malnutrition. This is the worst rate in 10 years according to 2015 data from the Food and Nutrition Research Institute.

If not addressed, chronically malnourished children become stunted, or short for their age. This affects a child’s ability to learn, and by age five, becomes irreversible.

Children with chronic malnutrition quickly slip to acute malnutrition when they get sick.

So when Emmanuel caught pneumonia a couple of months ago, his weight quickly dropped. He now weighs just 8.1 kilos, which is very low for his height of 79.9 cm and for his age of nearly two years.

A child with severe acute malnutrition is nine times more likely to die than a well-nourished child.

In the Philippines, 95 children die every day from malnutrition.

“It is a silent emergency that can blow up anytime during an emergency,” Dr. Tejare says.

Poverty cause of hunger

UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Hilal Elver’s mission to the Philippines in February 2015 revealed that “access to sufficient and nutritious food is limited by poverty and income levels.”

This is despite the fact that Philippine economy has risen to middle income level, according to the World Bank.

“We are leaving those in the margins. Our progress does not reach the communities that really need it more,” Dr. Tejare says (Listen to podcast: A doctor of the people).

In Roger’s barangay of more than 5,000 in the middle of Manila for instance, many live a hand-to-mouth existence. Roger and his boys live in a room the size of closet in a house with 21 other people from four different households.

As a ‘pedicab,’ driver (a kind of rickshaw), on a good day he takes home P240 (roughly equivalent to US$5) after 12 hours of pedaling up and down Quirino highway—barely enough to feed his family a nutritious meal.

 First 1,000 days

“How do you attack the problem on the household level, at the community level, and at the national level? Immediately, at the household level, we need to bring Emmanuel to a health care facility that has the capability to treat him,” Kristine Calleja, program manager of Gem’s Heart Foundation, says.

“There’s still a window of opportunity before he reaches two years of age,” she adds.

Gem’s Heart is part of the Philippine Coalition of Advocates for Nutrition Security (PhilCan), a network of organizations that is  pushing for the “First 1,000 Days” bill. It seeks to address malnutrition from the time the child is in the womb up until the child turns two. It proposes to give more resources to the National Nutrition Council and implement other existing nutrition laws more strongly such as the Milk Code and Food Fortification Laws.

Several versions of the bill are pending in both Houses of Congress.

The faces of malnutrition

Battling stigma in communities

One of the biggest barriers is the stigma of having a malnourished child.

“It implies that you have been very negligent as a parent,” Dr. Tejare says.

Because of this, many parents would rather not seek medical treatment for their children because they feel they will be blamed for the situation,” she says.

Roger is one of those parents. Upon hearing Emmanuel’s diagnosis, Roger walked out of the barangay hall, sons in tow, without waiting for the older one’s turn at the weighing scale.

Malakas pong kumain ito. Wala itong problema. (He eats a lot. He does not have any problem),” Roger says of Emmanuel’s brother.

This mindset, Dr. Tejare says, has to change.

The first step is to avoid calling them ‘malnourished children’ because the branding stays with them all their lives.

“We’d rather call them ‘kulang sa timbang‘ (underweight) because it’s a bit positive, meaning that if you get to improve the weight, we could bring back these children into good health.”

One such solution is to give children like Emmanuel ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF), more commonly known as Plumpy’Nut. This is what humanitarian aid organizations distribute in Africa and areas where many children are suffering from malnutrition.

Ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF), more commonly known as Plumpy’Nut, is not only for emergency situations. The government will distribute 50,000 boxes of them to treat children with severe acute malnutrition, initially in 17 provinces this year. Photo by Che de los Reyes  

The Department of Health (DOH) will begin distributing 50,000 boxes of RUTF, worth P145 million, in March, Dr. Anthony Calibo, head of the agency’s Family Health Office, says.

The recipients are 38,289 children with severe acute malnutrition from six months and before they turn five. The DOH targets 17 provinces this year, and another 21 provinces next year.

These provinces have the highest rates of acute malnutrition, are vulnerable to natural calamities and disasters, and have high rates of poverty, Dr. Calibo says.

This is all part of a program called Philippine Integrated Management of Severe Acute Malnutrition, which relies on strong community involvement. For children with less severe malnutrition, the solution is a feeding program to supplement their food intake at home (watch related video: Feeding 700 students every day).

“We encourage parents, even those neighbors who see these cases, to help these families seek consultation because there is treatment. There is hope,” Dr. Tejare says.

Roger is thankful that Gem’s Heart Foundation is helping him seek treatment for Emmanuel.

Because right now, he has no other option but wait for his wife to get well, come home, and take care of the kids. Only then could he get back on his pedicab and bring food on the table.

Signs and treatment of malnutrition

Parents of children whose weight and height have not yet been assessed by a health care provider should look out for the following:

Lack of appetite

– Health care providers will administer an appetite test, where they give a child RUTF and count the number of mouthfuls that the child takes within an hour.


– A child that has good appetite will be given RUTF as an outpatient treatment

– A child with no appetite warrants in-patient care

Lack of appetite plus any sickness such as diarrhea

The child should be treated in a health facility, such as those for Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition in 17 priority provinces.


-The child will be given therapeutic milk that is appropriate to the phase of treatment.

For more information about malnutrition, contact PhilCan at (+632) 3747618 local 213 or visit

For more information about treating malnutrition, visit Action Against Hunger’s website at or contact the Department of Health’s Family Health Office at (+632) 651-7800

95 Filipino children die every day from malnutrition