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PHNO HEADLINE NEWS THIS PAST WEEK
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

IN BANTAYAN ISLAND, SAFE HOMES, NEW LIFE FOR 'YOLANDA SURVIVORS' [THANK YOU to Habitat, Prudence Foundation's partner for its housing project]


JUNE 26 -SAFE HOMES Once an empty lot in Maricaban, Santa Fe, on Bantayan Island, the village is now a bustling community where flowers and vegetables grow, pets freely roam and residents carry on with their livelihood in safe, sturdy shelters. PHOTOS BY TARRA QUISMUNDO
The doors are decorated with images of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. Colorful flowers and vegetables are growing on carefully laid-out lawns. Dogs roam free, friendly even to strangers. Makeshift hoops mark the end of still unnamed streets, not yet paved but not an inconvenience. At the center of the village, a Christmas tree made of recycled water bottles remain, a cheery memory of the past holiday party, the community’s first ever. What was once a lifeless parcel of land full of grass and sharp rocks in Barangay Maricaban here is now a community of survivors raring to move on—the first batch of new homeowners in a multiyear housing program of the Prudence Foundation, the charity arm of Prudential Corp. Asia (PCA), for residents rendered homeless by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) in 2013. The rising community is what a second chance looks like. By any measure, it is what recovery is supposed to be. “I am thankful because you cannot just get a house like this,” said homemaker Norma Layling, beaming as she showed her family home, the front of which is modestly landscaped with a variety of plants hedged with large seashells. Her neighbor Beverlyn Vergara could only be thankful that her family had finally found safe shelter. “We are very happy. We feel safe here and my children no longer get sick, unlike before when we were living near the sea after the typhoon, where they were always exposed to the dirt in the sand,” said Vergara, a mother of four. Leonarda Esparcia’s water-refilling business is now back to busy, with her family settled in their new home. She also gets to sell some of her harvest from a small vegetable nursery she put up across her house, where she grows eggplants, tomatoes, okra and upo (bottle gourd). “We are now comfortable in our house and we are able to do business selling water again. When our house was destroyed by the typhoon, our business suffered,” Esparcia said. For most Maricaban residents, it’s the first time to have sturdy shelter and proper utility services. READ MORE...

ALSO: New orchid species found in rebel areas


JUNE 26 -RARE BREED This new orchid named “Dendrobium lydiae” was taken in Bukidnon. Five new orchid species have been discovered in increasingly denuded Philippine mountains, highlighting the need to protect forests in one of the world’s most biologically diverse countries, conservatives said on Friday. AFP
Five new orchid species in the country have been discovered in remote mountains in the country, protected from poaching because of an insurgency in the region, conservationists said on Friday. The species are found only in Mindanao and have eluded those cataloguing plant life for 200 years, expert Miguel David de Leon told Agence France-Presse (AFP). Poaching of wild orchids mostly by locals is rampant in the Philippines, with some communities illegally harvesting them without permits for export or to sell them along roads. But Mindanao is among the country’s areas wracked by one of Asia’s longest-running insurgencies, whereby communist guerrillas retain support among the poor in the farming and mountainous communities. “The insurgency problem helps prevent poachers or would-be orchid hunters from entering the forests,” said De Leon, a plant and wildlife conservationist who found the species while trekking the mountains of Bukidnon province.
Isolated areas “These areas are very isolated. The terrain is treacherous, accessible only by foot and occasionally, a motorcycle or horse,” he added. The finds, first published in the German OrchideenJournal this year, include a dazzling yellow bloom flecked with brown spots. “It is one of the most attractive among members of the genus,” De Leon said. READ MORE...

ALSO: THE CHF story - Danica Jimeno story gave hope to babies with ailing hearts


JUNE 26 -“Where am I? Why did they open my heart?” Two-year-old Leah Jane Peligro asked her mother when she opened her eyes after doctors patched a hole in her heart at the Philippine Heart Center (PHC) in June last year.
BAGUIO CITY, Philippines—Leah was born partially blind to congenitally blind parents Abraham and Elena of Taguig City. Her 13-year-old brother, Daniel, is also partially blind. A year after PhilHealth and a group of people pooled their resources to finance her surgery, Leah returned to Philippine Heart Center (PHC) on June 17 for a check on her newly mended heart. Far from the formerly thin, sickly baby, Leah is now a picture of a happy, talkative and playful girl who has become a source of inspiration and hope to others, especially among children who have congenital heart diseases. Though she could see only a flicker of light, Leah loves to play with other heart patients who are recovering from their operation and even entertains the medical staff with her stories, songs and dances, said Dr. Juliet Balderas, head of PHC’s pediatric cardiology unit and board member of Children’s Heart Foundation (CHF). Leah’s favorite songs are “Bahay Kubo,” “God Gave Me You” and “Tatlong Bibe.” The parents of Leah are grateful to CHF and the donors who paved the way for their daughter to fulfill her dreams in the future. She dreams of becoming a schoolteacher someday. “My daughter’s future is bright because she is healthy now,” Elena said. Unknown to Leah, the pediatric dedicated operating room (Pedia OR) where she underwent a successful heart operation was funded by CHF, which is composed of businessmen, medical doctors and professionals who have been helping babies like her for 16 years now. In December 1998, the Inquirer ran a story about 2-year-old Danica Jimeno of Baguio City who needed immediate surgery to plug a hole in her heart. Touched by the story, Filipinos here and abroad pledged to help. A US-based Filipino heart surgeon, Dr. Serafin de Leon, volunteered to operate on Jimeno for free at Tulane University Hospital in New Orleans, where he was working. READ MORE...

ALSO: Ilocos Norte - The heritage marvels of Badoc Church and Paoay Church


JUNE 23 -BADOC CHURCH -St. John the Baptist Parish Church, Badoc, Ilocos Norte. Badoc Church's whitewashed facade can be seen behind the old brick arch entrance.
Ilocos Norte is a breathtaking part of northern Luzon, with rich colonial-era cultural sites that stand as tangible reminders of our religious and historical heritage. Among the important churches in the province are those in Badoc and Paoay. Badoc Church, also known as St. John the Baptist Church, was where the painter Juan Luna was baptized in 1857, as were his siblings Laureana and Manuel Andres. Established by the Augustinians, the chapel of Sinait was constructed here in 1591. It became a parish in 1714 under the patronage of St. John the Baptist. The church and convent are constructed of stone and chalk (tisa). It was invaded by the Sambal people (a tribe from the Zambales area) in 1660-1661. READ MORE. MORE PHOTOS...

Manila Pride: Fighting for love, equality and LGBTQ rights
[Metro Manila residents supportive of LGBTQ rights took to the streets to call for respect of human rights and the legalization of same sex marriages in the country]


JUNE 26 -MANILA, Philippines - The Filipino Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community took to the streets on Saturday, June 27 in support of human rights and to rally against discrimination during the 21st Metro Manila Pride March.
Various LGBTQ organizations and individuals in colorful clothing assembled in front of the Lapu-Lapu Monument in Luneta Park. Around 1,400 people marched through Taft Avenue, Padre Faura Street, Roxas Boulevard and back to the park via Padre Burgos Avenue. READ MORE, MORE PHOTOS...

ALSO: Storm signals raised as LPA develops into tropical depression ‘Ambo’


JUNE 26 -The state weather bureau said Ambo's center was located at 140 kilometers northeast of Virac, Catanduanes around 4:00 p.m. PAGASA/Released
MANILA, Philippines (Updated 6:00 p.m.) – The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration on Sunday maintained Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal (TCWS) No. 1 over some areas of the country as tropical depression “Ambo” maintained its strength.
Ambo, initially a low pressure area (LPA), located in Eastern Samar developed into the country’s first tropical depression of the year on Sunday morning. “The low pressure area east of Borongan City has developed into a tropical depression and was named “Ambo,” PAGASA said in its advisory. The state weather bureau said Ambo's center was located at 140 kilometers northeast of Virac, Catanduanes around 4:00 p.m. It has maximum winds of 45 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center. PAGASA issued TCWS No. 1 for Catanduanes, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Northern Quezon including Polillo Islands, Aurora and Quirino. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

New homes, new life for ‘Yolanda’ survivors


JUNE 26 -SAFE HOMES Once an empty lot in Maricaban, Santa Fe, on Bantayan Island, the village is now a bustling community where flowers and vegetables grow, pets freely roam and residents carry on with their livelihood in safe, sturdy shelters. PHOTOS BY TARRA QUISMUNDO

SANTA FE, BANTAYAN ISLAND, JUNE 27, 2016 (PHILSTAR) By: Tarra Quismundo @TarraINQ June 26th, 2016 - The doors are decorated with images of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. Colorful flowers and vegetables are growing on carefully laid-out lawns. Dogs roam free, friendly even to strangers.

Makeshift hoops mark the end of still unnamed streets, not yet paved but not an inconvenience. At the center of the village, a Christmas tree made of recycled water bottles remain, a cheery memory of the past holiday party, the community’s first ever.

What was once a lifeless parcel of land full of grass and sharp rocks in Barangay Maricaban here is now a community of survivors raring to move on—the first batch of new homeowners in a multiyear housing program of the Prudence Foundation, the charity arm of Prudential Corp. Asia (PCA), for residents rendered homeless by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) in 2013.

The rising community is what a second chance looks like. By any measure, it is what recovery is supposed to be.

“I am thankful because you cannot just get a house like this,” said homemaker Norma Layling, beaming as she showed her family home, the front of which is modestly landscaped with a variety of plants hedged with large seashells.

Her neighbor Beverlyn Vergara could only be thankful that her family had finally found safe shelter.

“We are very happy. We feel safe here and my children no longer get sick, unlike before when we were living near the sea after the typhoon, where they were always exposed to the dirt in the sand,” said Vergara, a mother of four.

Leonarda Esparcia’s water-refilling business is now back to busy, with her family settled in their new home. She also gets to sell some of her harvest from a small vegetable nursery she put up across her house, where she grows eggplants, tomatoes, okra and upo (bottle gourd).

“We are now comfortable in our house and we are able to do business selling water again. When our house was destroyed by the typhoon, our business suffered,” Esparcia said.

For most Maricaban residents, it’s the first time to have sturdy shelter and proper utility services.

READ MORE...

“It’s the first time for them to have concrete houses, to have light and water. And [last December], it was their first time to have their own Christmas party,” said retired Gen. Carlos Holganza, Habitat for Humanity chief operations officer for the Visayas and Palawan.

Habitat has been Prudence Foundation’s partner for its housing project since 2014.

A total of 64 families moved into new 30-square-meter, disaster-resilient and solar-powered houses in September last year, pulled out of ramshackle shanties they’ve had to endure in the wake of the typhoon.

The houses comprised half of Prudence Foundation’s $2-million housing pledge for Bantayan Island, a heavily devastated area that the charity chose for its postdisaster outreach after it noted tepid recovery assistance to the severely affected municipalities.


NEW HOME Beverlyn Vergara, who lost her house to Supertyphoon “Yolanda” in 2013, poses with three of her four children in their new home, one of 64 built for families who lost their homes during the typhoon.

Promise and commitment

Committed to see the project through, the Prudential, which operates as Pru Life UK in the Philippines, returned to the island over the past week with 83 volunteers from 13 Asian countries.

Their mission was to kickstart the construction of 62 more houses, this time on a site in Bantayan town, about 15 minutes away from the Maricaban village.

“We see it through. We sell life insurance, which is a promise and a commitment. You know in life insurance, you can’t lie. When you promise a 30-year premium, in 30 years’ time you gotta pay it back. When we promised we’re going to build houses, we will build those houses,” said Mark Fancy, Prudence Foundation’s executive director.

As they started to build on the new site, the volunteers—some returning to the island for the second or third time—got the chance to see the new Santa Fe village, witnessing firsthand the impact their hard work had made on the lives of the island’s families.

“It’s very lovely … to come back with some of the volunteers who have been there before, and also just the new volunteers, to see now the community take shape,” said Fancy, who led the Pru group on a visit to Maricaban on Thursday.

“It’s not just giving a house. It’s like starting a new community. And they’re really looking after the place … [T]hese are people who do not have similar means to everyone else. And for them to sort of get back on their feet and also sort of give them a sense of pride,” noted Fancy.

It was an emotional return for Jasmit Briar, an actuary director at PCA’s regional headquarters in Hong Kong, who was in the second volunteer round in September 2014.

“I work as an actuary, and while Prudential does great work, my job is quite distant from the front line. I sit in an office, in front of a computer, crunching numbers, but to come out here and make a direct impact … It makes me feel like I did something good,” Briar added.

‘Tangible impact’

For one who spends long hours doing paperwork in the office, Briar said the experience was a rare opportunity to do work that makes “a tangible impact on people’s lives.

“We have so much. I mean, only because I was lucky to be born in a family that, you know had means, I got a good education, [I can] travel the world, but then to come and see people who have so little yet still are so happy and content … I don’t think there are words for that. It’s just an amazing feeling,” she said.

“It doesn’t matter if we ache now. I’m going back to a job where I just need my fingers. I can sit in a comfy chair after this. It’s OK,” she said.

Third-timer Justin Chang, regional program manager at the foundation, shared the view, noting the contrast between his day job and the weeklong construction work on the island.

“[B]eing able to see the development of Maricaban is just so inspiring and powerful for us as a foundation. Because it’s most important that we provide our funds to those who really need it,” Chang said.

Indonesia’s Muhammad Perdana, a first-timer, had no problem with the backbreaking work under the stifling heat despite fasting for Ramadan. He cannot eat or drink until 6 p.m. every day, until July 5.

“It’s a little bit hot, but I can do it because I’m happy to help. I’m really so glad to help the community. It’s fine with me,” said Perdana, an insurance agents trainer.

The volunteer program has been a nourishing experience both for the individual participants and the company as a whole, foundation executives said.

“There’s a very human, nourishing [experience], you know volunteering sounds like it’s one-way. It’s definitely not one-way,” said Fancy.

“[I]t puts life into perspective. You take things for granted … Your opportunity to sometimes be exposed to what the rest of life is like is quite limited. And these things give an opportunity for people to see that and actually experience it, and … you realize that people who don’t have a lot, they still get through, they’re still so happy, they still plow on,” he said.

The experience also allows employees “to see that the company is not just about money, that there are other things that we care about,” Fancy said.

For Chang, the volunteer program has been an exercise in teamwork, one that is healthy for the global firm’s growth.

“By working together, we can actually move mounds of limestone, literally move piles of bricks that, if you looked at it by yourself, you’d be like, ‘no way can I do that,’” Chang said.

“But when you work together as a team, we actually see the result. So you can transfer that back to the workplace,” he said. TVJ

RELATED STORIES

PRC, German Red Cross turn over 1,900 homes to Yolanda survivors

Solar panels light up Yolanda housing site


INQUIRER

New orchid species found in rebel areas SHARES: 21 VIEW COMMENTS @inquirerdotnet Agence France-Presse 12:17 AM June 26th, 2016


RARE BREED This new orchid named “Dendrobium lydiae” was taken in Bukidnon. Five new orchid species have been discovered in increasingly denuded Philippine mountains, highlighting the need to protect forests in one of the world’s most biologically diverse countries, conservatives said on Friday. AFP

Five new orchid species in the country have been discovered in remote mountains in the country, protected from poaching because of an insurgency in the region, conservationists said on Friday.

The species are found only in Mindanao and have eluded those cataloguing plant life for 200 years, expert Miguel David de Leon told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Poaching of wild orchids mostly by locals is rampant in the Philippines, with some communities illegally harvesting them without permits for export or to sell them along roads.

But Mindanao is among the country’s areas wracked by one of Asia’s longest-running insurgencies, whereby communist guerrillas retain support among the poor in the farming and mountainous communities.

“The insurgency problem helps prevent poachers or would-be orchid hunters from entering the forests,” said De Leon, a plant and wildlife conservationist who found the species while trekking the mountains of Bukidnon province.

Isolated areas

“These areas are very isolated. The terrain is treacherous, accessible only by foot and occasionally, a motorcycle or horse,” he added.

The finds, first published in the German OrchideenJournal this year, include a dazzling yellow bloom flecked with brown spots.

“It is one of the most attractive among members of the genus,” De Leon said.

READ MORE...

“(The) other species are red or purple but this really stands out because it’s the brightest shade of yellow,” said De Leon. Australian taxonomist Jim Cootes and Filipino research associate Mark Arcebal Naive named their most vivid find Epicrianthes aquinoi, to honor outgoing President Aquino whose family uses the color yellow in political rallies.

Other species

Other species they discovered include a pure white and a red-lipped white Dendrobium, a dark red Epicrianthes, and a green slipper orchid with red stripes.

Cootes, who has written three books on Philippine orchids, told AFP the discoveries showed the rich biodiversity of the Southeast Asian nation, with more species awaiting discovery.

“We need to preserve what is left because the variation within the different species is so high that it is almost priceless,” he said.

“The mountains throughout the archipelago need to be preserved,” he added.

US-based Conservation International lists the Philippines as among 35 biodiversity hot spots—areas with the world’s richest but most threatened plant and animal life.

Deforestation that plagues mountains across the Philippines also destroys orchid habitats as well as shrubs, fungi and algae that keep the forests alive. TVJ

RELATED STORIES

Wildlife and conservation farming

Tago, a land of falls

NPA still the most potent threat–AFP


INQUIRER



Danica
Jimeno story gave hope to babies with ailing hearts
By: Gobleth Moulic @inquirerdotnet
Inquirer Northern Luzon 02:16 AM June 26th, 2016


“Where am I? Why did they open my heart?” Two-year-old Leah Jane Peligro asked her mother when she opened her eyes after doctors patched a hole in her heart at the Philippine Heart Center (PHC) in June last year.

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines—Leah was born partially blind to congenitally blind parents Abraham and Elena of Taguig City. Her 13-year-old brother, Daniel, is also partially blind.

A year after PhilHealth and a group of people pooled their resources to finance her surgery, Leah returned to PHC on June 17 for a check on her newly mended heart.

Far from the formerly thin, sickly baby, Leah is now a picture of a happy, talkative and playful girl who has become a source of inspiration and hope to others, especially among children who have congenital heart diseases.

Though she could see only a flicker of light, Leah loves to play with other heart patients who are recovering from their operation and even entertains the medical staff with her stories, songs and dances, said Dr. Juliet Balderas, head of PHC’s pediatric cardiology unit and board member of Children’s Heart Foundation (CHF).

Leah’s favorite songs are “Bahay Kubo,” “God Gave Me You” and “Tatlong Bibe.”

The parents of Leah are grateful to CHF and the donors who paved the way for their daughter to fulfill her dreams in the future. She dreams of becoming a schoolteacher someday.

“My daughter’s future is bright because she is healthy now,” Elena said.

Unknown to Leah, the pediatric dedicated operating room (Pedia OR) where she underwent a successful heart operation was funded by CHF, which is composed of businessmen, medical doctors and professionals who have been helping babies like her for 16 years now.

In December 1998, the Inquirer ran a story about 2-year-old Danica Jimeno of Baguio City who needed immediate surgery to plug a hole in her heart. Touched by the story, Filipinos here and abroad pledged to help.

A US-based Filipino heart surgeon, Dr. Serafin de Leon, volunteered to operate on Jimeno for free at Tulane University Hospital in New Orleans, where he was working.

READ MORE...

Among those who called up the Inquirer to help finance the operation were Willy Arguelles, who himself had a heart ailment, Alvin Murriel, Chinese-Filipino businessmen Henry Lim, Wilson Aw, Mike Yao and Alexander Go Kian Lin, whose daughter was then battling a heart disease.

When Jimeno returned to Manila in 1999 after her successful surgery, she met and thanked her anonymous benefactors.

Murriel, Arguelles and Lim had never met before but were bound by a common cause—their desire to preserve the health of sick children of families who could not afford the medical expenses.

“Where do we go from here? What’s next?” Lim asked Arguelles and Murriel.

CHF was born in July 2000, with Murriel as the first president, while Arguelles, Aw, Yao, Go Kian Lin and Lim sat as officers.

For 16 years now, Jimeno has been the poster girl of CHF, gracing fundraising events and helping her benefactors to raise awareness of the need to finance the medical needs of sick children.

In 2012, Go Kian Lin, who became CHF president, took the lead in raising funds for the construction of Pedia OR.

How crucial is the Pedia OR that is exclusively for young patients?

For many years, PHC had only five such rooms for both adults and children. Only five operations were then allowed for children every week, Balderas said.

Since there were hundreds of babies waiting for immediate surgery, CHF raised funds to build a Pedia OR to accommodate them. Balderas said that since the Pedia OR was launched on Feb. 14, 2013, 864 children with various heart ailments have been living an active and normal life.

Go Kian Lin said that although the room was completed in 2013, they are still appealing for financial help to equip it with modern facilities to comply with international standards.

He admitted that soliciting funds from friends and strangers was not easy, but something in his family inspired him to continue with his advocacy.

“My second daughter is hearing impaired and my third daughter has a congenital heart problem so I know the pains that parents of sick children are going through,” Go Kian Lin said. “When I lost my wife in 2009 due to an illness, I realized how short life was. I wanted to use it to be a blessing to others,” he said during the inauguration of the CHF-funded grand auditorium at PHC on June 15.

The event was momentous as it served as a reunion of the Jimenos and their original benefactors and PHC doctors.

Now 20 and a nursing student at the University of the Cordilleras, Jimeno introduced herself to the men and women who gave her a second lease on life.

She told them that she had been living her dreams after kind strangers who had read her story in the Inquirer made it possible for her to have a successful surgery.

“I was your original heart baby. I can’t thank you enough,” she said. TVJ

RELATED STORIES

Child who fled from fighting dies of dehydration in Maguindanao

How a four-year-old street child can inspire more people to give


GMA NEWS NETWORK

Ilocos Norte: The heritage marvels of Badoc Church and Paoay Church Published June 24, 2016 11:55am By JENNY ORTUOSTE

Badoc Church 


St. John the Baptist Parish Church, Badoc, Ilocos Norte. Badoc Church's whitewashed facade can be seen behind the old brick arch entrance.

Ilocos Norte is a breathtaking part of northern Luzon, with rich colonial-era cultural sites that stand as tangible reminders of our religious and historical heritage. Among the important churches in the province are those in Badoc and Paoay.

Badoc Church, also known as St. John the Baptist Church, was where the painter Juan Luna was baptized in 1857, as were his siblings Laureana and Manuel Andres.

Established by the Augustinians, the chapel of Sinait was constructed here in 1591. It became a parish in 1714 under the patronage of St. John the Baptist. The church and convent are constructed of stone and chalk (tisa). It was invaded by the Sambal people (a tribe from the Zambales area) in 1660-1661.

READ MORE...


St. John the Baptist Parish Church, Badoc, Ilocos Norte. The church's serene interior ends in a blue and gold altar.

The old arch of brick and mortar still greets visitors. Inside the church compound, as common to colonial-era churches in the Philippines, are the church proper and a belltower; in this case, the latter is a separate structure from the former.

The church’s façade has been whitewashed; on the lintel above its simple door of wooden planks grows a plant, a symbol of life and rebirth. Massive brick buttresses, twelve on each side, hold up the church and keep it stable. Inside, the floor is laid with green, yellow ochre, and cream machuca tiles as well as the more prosaic red Vigan tiles.


St. John the Baptist Parish Church, Badoc, Ilocos Norte. Devotees light candles next to a replica of La Virgen in the outdoor chapel.

The retablo is ornately carved and painted gold, while the altar and pulpit are turquoise and gold, reminiscent of the Ilocos sky and sun overhead.

Some parts of the church have been reinforced with modern materials, but traces of centuries-old structures of brick still remain, seamlessly tying past to present.


St. John the Baptist Parish Church, Badoc, Ilocos Norte. Another part of the outdoor area is a space for reflection.

Badoc Church is home to La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc. A treat for visitors is the open-air worship area at the back of the church, among some old ruins. Duck beneath wide, low-hanging arches and emerge into two sunny prayer areas. One is graced with a replica of La Virgen, in front of which are an incense pot and a candle rack, proof of the syncretic nature of our Christian worship.

St. Augustine Church (Paoay Church), Paoay, Ilocos Norte The church's massive buttresses keep it stable. 8/8

Paoay Church


St. Augustine Church (Paoay Church), Paoay, Ilocos Norte. Exposed beams and picturesque floor tiles can be seen inside the church.

The Paoay parish, like Badoc Church, was founded by Augustinian missionaries in 1593, and was a labor of love over time and in the face of earthquakes and other disasters.

The construction of the church was spread over a century: the cornerstone of the church was laid in 1704, that of the convent in 1707, and that of the belltower in 1793. The church was used by parishioners even while still unfinished. It was finally inaugurated in 1896. The structure was damaged by two earthquakes, in 1706 and 1927.

Because of its historical and artistic significance, Paoay Church was designated a National Cultural Treasure by the Philippine government in 1973 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site among the country’s baroque churches in 1993.


St. Augustine Church (Paoay Church), Paoay, Ilocos Norte. The famous facade of Paoay Church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The sky above the church is often a deep, cerulean hue. The façade is famous from postcards and photographs: it is imposing and magnificent. Constructed in five tiers of brick and coral stone that taper upward, it is adorned with eight pilasters. Spirals adorn the ends of each tier that ends in curves; crenellations stud the triangular top. Overall, it is an interesting design.

Twelve enormous step buttresses on either side of the church hold it up and protect it against earthquake damage.


St. Augustine Church (Paoay Church), Paoay, Ilocos Norte. The ornate, wrought-iron, elevated pulpit is painted silver and black and it looks like a structure of lace.

The belltower is separate from the church, to minimize damage should it fall. Like the church, it is built of coral stone.

An interesting feature is an ornate elevated pulpit in the middle of the church. Made of wrought iron and painted silver and black, it looks like a structure of lace. A small plaque in the center bears the year 1891. A side gate to a shrine is made in a similar style.

The window sills are as wide as the church wall and fitted with wooden window frames with stained glass panes. The floors are of a rosette pattern of red, yellow, and white machuca tile down the center to the altar, like a carpet, while the tiles on the side are of a plain yellow ochre – perhaps a cost-cutting measure.


St. Augustine Church (Paoay Church), Paoay, Ilocos Norte. The church's massive buttresses keep it stable.

The altar and retablo are of a plain design compared to others; the latter bears an only a statue of the church’s patron saint, San Agustin. Nevertheless, because of their simplicity, they are all the more inspiring and spiritual.

For those interested in Philippine history, art, religion, and architecture, Badoc Church and Paoay Church top the list of must-see places in Ilocos Norte. — BM, GMA News

Follow writer Jenny Ortuoste on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


RAPPLER.COM

Manila Pride: Fighting for love, equality and LGBTQ rights Soeui Lee Published 6:32 PM, June 29, 2015 Updated 6:32 PM, June 29, 2015

Metro Manila residents supportive of LGBTQ rights took to the streets to call for respect of human rights and the legalization of same sex marriages in the country

MANILA, Philippines - The Filipino Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community took to the streets on Saturday, June 27 in support of human rights and to rally against discrimination during the 21st Metro Manila Pride March.

Various LGBTQ organizations and individuals in colorful clothing assembled in front of the Lapu-Lapu Monument in Luneta Park. Around 1,400 people marched through Taft Avenue, Padre Faura Street, Roxas Boulevard and back to the park via Padre Burgos Avenue.

READ MORE...


EQUALITY. A gay couple kisses while a man holds up a sign to celebrate a US Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality. Photo by Mark Z. Saludes/Rappler.com

The Pride March is an annual community-driven event where LGBTQ organizations and individuals get together to celebrate love and equality of LGBTQs. This year's march had the theme, “Fight For Love: Iba-Iba, Sama-Sama”. Task Force Pride, the march organizers, are proud of the march's heritage as it was the first pride march held in Asia.

(READ: LGBT rights are human rights)

What the LGBTQ community is fighting for is the government to provide for the equal treatment by law, particularly the legalization of same sex marriage. However, some participants say the chances same sex marriage will be legalized in the Philippines is slim. Paulo Castro, who joined the march with his boyfriend, does not think that it is happening anytime soon. “We don’t even have (an) anti-discrimination law, which I think is what we should focus (on) first,” said Castro.

Marchers also adovcated for the rights of LGBTQ individuals who are more vulnerable to discrimination and prejudice. Castro named the recent incident at the Valkyrie Superclub as an example of the injustices done to the community.

“Though there’s a high tolerance for the LGBTQ community in the Philippines, the acceptance is not there. The Pride legacy is actually moving forward towards acceptance,” said Geoff Domingo from Task Force Pride.

(READ: Lift Valkyrie's ban on 'crossdressers')

“If we are not going to fight for LGBT rights, it is saying that we are also not fighting for human rights. LGBT rights is human rights,” said Domingo.

(READ: LGBT activists: "Recognize transgender rights in the Philippines now")

The march is a part of 6-month long celebration of Pride Season, June being the Pride Month. The Pride Season aims to recognize the diversity of sexual orientation and gender identity. - Rappler.com

Soeui Lee is a Rappler intern and a student of the University of the Philippines - Diliman.


PHILSTAR

Storm signals raised as LPA develops into tropical depression ‘Ambo’ By Rosette Adel (philstar.com) | Updated June 26, 2016 - 1:16pm 29 487 googleplus0 0


The state weather bureau said Ambo's center was located at 140 kilometers northeast of Virac, Catanduanes around 4:00 p.m. PAGASA/Released

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 6:00 p.m.) – The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration on Sunday maintained Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal (TCWS) No. 1 over some areas of the country as tropical depression “Ambo” maintained its strength.

Ambo, initially a low pressure area (LPA), located in Eastern Samar developed into the country’s first tropical depression of the year on Sunday morning.

“The low pressure area east of Borongan City has developed into a tropical depression and was named “Ambo,” PAGASA said in its advisory.

The state weather bureau said Ambo's center was located at 140 kilometers northeast of Virac, Catanduanes around 4:00 p.m. It has maximum winds of 45 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center.

PAGASA issued TCWS No. 1 for Catanduanes, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Northern Quezon including Polillo Islands, Aurora and Quirino.

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PAGASA warned that winds of 30-60 kph may be expected within the next 36 hours. The wind may break twigs and branches while banana plants may tilt or land flat on the ground and rice in flowering stage may suffer significant damage. Some nipa and cogon houses may be partially unroofed while sea travel of small sea crafts and fishing boats is risky, the weather bureau also said.

In its weather bulletin, PAGASA also estimated the rainfall to be moderate to heavy with 2.5 to 10 millimeters per hour within the 200-km diameter of Ambo. Due to this, residents of Central Luzon, CALABARZON and the Bicol Region are warned of occasional moderate to heavy rains beginning Sunday.

“Ambo is expected to weaken after making landfall over Aurora province early morning tomorrow,” the advisory read.

PAGASA advised the “residents in low lying and mountainous areas of the provinces [where storm warnings signals have been raised] are alerted against possible flashfloods and landslides” and monitor weather bulletins for updates.

“The public and the disaster risk reduction and management council concerned are advised to take appropriate actions,” the weather agency said.

Ambo is expected to move West Northwest at 22 kph, up from 19 kph in the advisory Sunday morning.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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