YOLANDA HUB PORTAL: 'eMPATHY' IS LACSON'S RELIEF FUNDS TRACKER 

With billions of pesos coming from the national coffers and donor organizations for rebuilding communities ravaged by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) a year ago, the Aquino administration wants to assure the public that the money is really going to reconstruction and rehabilitation projects. The intention is not only to make the process transparent but also to show the “laggards” in the development of projects, according to Panfilo Lacson, the presidential assistant for rehabilitation and recovery who oversees the rehabilitation and reconstruction effort. Lacson said his office had created “eMPATHY” which stands for e-Management Platform: Accountability and Transparency Hub for Yolanda, a comprehensive, centralized system for tracking down expenditures for the gigantic program. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO The Ifugaos: Young indigenous peoples get a taste of the modern and ethnic world  

Yahoo Southeast Asia Newsroom/Luigene Yanoria - Young indigenous peoples get a taste of the modern and ethnic world --BAGUIO CITY—In the age of social media, some of the country's indigenous peoples (IP) still live by their tradition while embracing modernity. Nikola Dunuan, 11, took a break from school to be here for the Dayaw 2014, a festival organized by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) meant to assemble the ethnic groups all over Luzon. Here she wore tapis or a wraparound skirt throughout the two-day assembly—not the typical clothes she wears back in her hometown Kiangan where the Ifugao Rice Terraces, a 2,000-year-old UNESCO heritage site, can be found. READ FULL REPORT...

(ALSO) Space agency: Comet lander ends up in cliff shadow 

PHOTO: The combination photo of different images taken with the CIVA camera system released by the European Space Agency ESA on Thursday Nov. 13, 2014 shows Rosetta’s lander Philae as it is safely on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, as these first CIVA images confirm. One of the lander’s three feet can be seen in the foreground. AP A shadow was cast — literally — across Europe's historic mission to land on and explore a comet. Scientists said Thursday the landing craft not only bounced twice, it also came to rest next to a cliff that's blocking sunlight from its solar panels. The good news is that the lander Philae is stable and in good health: Its scientific instruments have already begun gathering reams of data to send back to Earth, including the first pictures taken from the surface of a comet. The bad news is that its useful lifetime may now be much shorter.  READ FULL STORY...

Comet lander Philae has entered sleep mode, and may never wake up again

PHOTO: Good luck, Philae! Unfortunately, the European Space Agency’s efforts to keep Philae powered up have failed. The lander has now entered “sleep mode,” and may wake up as the comet approaches the Sun over the next few months and more sunlight hits its solar panels. The good news is, Philae did successfully finish a full set of scientific experiments on the surface of comet 67P, including drilling down into it. The ESA should release the scientific results over the next couple of months. Sadly, even space agencies with budgets of tens of billions of dollars are not immune to the pathetically lacking longevity of batteries. The Philae lander, which made history by landing on comet 67P/C-G this week, has unfortunately found itself sitting in the shadow of a cliff. Its solar panels can’t see the Sun, and thus its battery reserves are quickly running down. The European Space Agency will now try a series of heroic measures to try and keep Philae alive, but there’s the regretful possibility that Friday night — tonight — will be the last time we hear from the probe. READ FULL STORY....


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS:

Lacson’s eMPATHY keeps track of all relief funds


LACSON'S IDEA

MANILA, NOVEMBER 17, 2014 (INQUIRER) Christine O. Avendaño @inquirerdotnet - With billions of pesos coming from the national coffers and donor organizations for rebuilding communities ravaged by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) a year ago, the Aquino administration wants to assure the public that the money is really going to reconstruction and rehabilitation projects.

The intention is not only to make the process transparent but also to show the “laggards” in the development of projects, according to Panfilo Lacson, the presidential assistant for rehabilitation and recovery who oversees the rehabilitation and reconstruction effort.

Lacson said his office had created “eMPATHY” which stands for e-Management Platform: Accountability and Transparency Hub for Yolanda, a comprehensive, centralized system for tracking down expenditures for the gigantic program.

Lacson said the system was the first in the Philippines and possibly the whole world.

Watching the money

The innovation allows both the government and the public to keep an eye on the funds, Lacson said.

People who want to know what the projects are, how much they cost, and how far gone they are can go to empathy.oparr.gov.ph to see it for themselves.

The Oparr is the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery.


Presidential assistant for rehabilitation and recovery Panfilo Lacson. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

The hub has been up for about two weeks but remains a work in progress, as technicians continue to “populate” the database, according to Lacson.

Lacson said there was a need for transparency and accountability on the billions coming from the government and from multilateral and bilateral partners that had come to the aid of the Philippines.

P167.8B from gov’t

For one, the Aquino administration would be allotting P167.8 billion in the national budget for the next two years to finance the recovery and rehabilitation plan for 171 cities and municipalities in 44 provinces in nine regions affected by Yolanda.

For another, there is P19.36 billion in foreign assistance through grants for the rehabilitation and recovery phase, according to latest Oparr records.

In addition, the private sector has donated P12.38 billion for the rehabilitation and recovery program.

Lacson, a former senator and chief of the Philippine National Police, said his experience during his first few days on the job made him realize the importance to the government of financial vigilance.

Zero leakage of funds

Fresh on the job, he discovered that substandard materials were being used for building bunkhouses for typhoon survivors in Eastern Samar province.

Lacson said there were also reports that someone had colluded with contractors for the use of substandard materials to generate kickbacks.

One bunkhouse cost P836,000 and a cut of 10 percent would cost the government P83,600, he said.

“That’s when I realized we have to monitor the funds,” he said.

Lacson said he was aiming for “zero leakage” of rehabilitation funds.

“A leak of just 1 percent and that’s already a P1.7-billion loss. That’s a huge amount, and we are dealing with a calamity here,” Lacson said.

18,400 rehab projects

It’s a tall order, but Lacson believes it can be done.

And vital to watching the funds is the hub, developed with a $10-million technical assistance from the United States Agency for International Development.

The hub contains a list of the 18,400 rehabilitation projects that require 25,000 activities, Lacson said.

Also listed are the winning contractors, the dates of the awarding of the contracts and the status of the implementation of the projects.

Catching crooks

“These data are really for the public and the media, not only for transparency but also to determine who the laggards are,” Lacson said.

People following the development of the projects in their villages through the hub can report irregularities, including use of substandard materials, he said.

The hub has filters for false information from public users, he said.

Aside from the public, he said, project implementers (national government agencies, local governments, international organizations, private organizations and foundations) may also share information through the hub.

A special team has been formed to go to development partners to share their information with the Oparr. The partners will be given usernames and passwords to the hub so that they can update the implementation of their projects, he said.

Lacson said the monitoring system would also help to fill gaps and deal with overlapping projects.

Donation referral

It was through that system, he said, that the Oparr was able to refer the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which had offered $10 million for the rehabilitation program, to needs in the hard-hit town of Guiuan in Eastern Samar.

“There is not much attention given to Samar because most of the focus is on Tacloban. So it was good thing Samar Gov. (Milagrosa) Tan went to the Oparr and we referred the UAE donation. They ended up discussing it,” he said.

The Oparr also refers local governments or national government agencies to foreign donors, Lacson said.

In the last three months, he said, foreign diplomats and international aid agencies visited the Oparr to look for rehabilitation projects they could help finance.

In most cases, foreign donors and governments are the ones that implement their projects, he said.

Javad Amoozegar, country director of ACF International, said his group was coordinating with the Oparr to make sure its projects ran in line with the rehabilitation plan.

ACF has implemented two projects funded by the Canadian government to restore livelihood and access to water for more than 100,000 people in Leyte and Iloilo provinces. The projects cost C$3.75 million.

‘Faster transition’

Vincent Stehli, ACF operations director, marveled at the short time that the Philippines was able to move from the humanitarian stage to the recovery stage after Yolanda.

“We thought it would take more time but it was done in a short time,” said Stehli, who was among those who attended the opening on Thursday of the Canadian Embassy’s photo exhibit showcasing ACF’s and the Canadian government’s assistance for Yolanda victims.

Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines Neil Reeder also noted the Philippine government’s quick response to the disaster.

“In the donor community, those who lived through the tsunami experience have said that the response time here was better than the case of the tsunami situation,” Reeder said, referring to Indonesian tsunami that brought devastation to several countries on the Indian Ocean rim in December 2004.

“The ability of the country to bounce back was faster than we’ve ever seen in other humanitarian disasters,” Reeder said.

‘Good work’

He said Canada, the third largest donor in the relief effort, “recognized the good work” done by the Philippine government and committed his government to help even more in the future.

Canada put up $170 million for the Yolanda relief fund and the money was used for emergency relief and to support early recovery efforts.

The Canadian relief fund still has a balance of $20.59 million, and Reeder said this would be used for reconstruction and disaster risk reduction projects.

Lacson said foreign governments and organizations were more appreciative of the Philippine government’s response and recovery efforts than some local groups, who gripe about the slow pace of the rebuilding program.

Normally and under international standards, the transition from the humanitarian stage to the rehabilitation stage is one year, but it took the Philippines only eight months to get to the rehabilitation phase.

Master plan took 9 months

It took the Oparr only nine months to submit the Yolanda Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan, he said.

Lacson submitted the rehabilitation plan to President Aquino on Aug. 1. Mr. Aquino signed the plan on Oct. 30.

Recovery and Rehabilitation Undersecretary Lesley Cordero, just back from a World Bank reconstruction conference in Australia, said a case study by the Global Facility for Disaster Recovery and Rehabilitation showed that the Philippines was the fastest in producing a rehabilitation master plan compared with other countries that had been struck by disasters such as Nepal, Senegal, Pakistan, Haiti, Japan and the United States.

The rehabilitation plan for the 2005 devastation wrought by Hurricane “Katrina,” for instance, took two years to put together, Cordero said.

Conference delegates, she said, were stunned by the Philippine master plan, as it was quite detailed, including project costing down to the village level and hazard mapping.

Legacy project

Other disaster-stricken countries produced only frameworks, not master plans, he said.

Lacson said the master plan would be uploaded to eMPATHY.

He said the hub was designed to cover the entire country and could be used to track down national government spending.

“We plan to leave [eMPATHY] as a legacy project for the next administration,” he said.



Note: eMPATHY is not an accounting system. Therefore, the figures reflected in eMPATHY might deviate slightly from respective records maintained in financial tracking systems of development partners, among others, due to fluctuation of the exchange rate. Further, differences between other data records kept outside the eMPATHY may occur if a development partner has not updated its data recently. If you discover any discrepancies in the data please contact: info@oparr.gov.ph.


Young indigenous peoples get a taste of the modern and ethnic world By Luigene Yanoria | Yahoo Southeast Asia Newsroom – Fri, Oct 31, 2014


Yahoo Southeast Asia Newsroom/Luigene Yanoria - Young indigenous peoples get a taste of the modern and ethnic world

BAGUIO CITY—In the age of social media, some of the country's indigenous peoples (IP) still live by their tradition while embracing modernity.

Nikola Dunuan, 11, took a break from school to be here for the Dayaw 2014, a festival organized by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) meant to assemble the ethnic groups all over Luzon. Here she wore tapis or a wraparound skirt throughout the two-day assembly—not the typical clothes she wears back in her hometown Kiangan where the Ifugao Rice Terraces, a 2,000-year-old UNESCO heritage site, can be found.

The said landlocked province may be 300 kilometers away from the Philippine capital Manila, but Internet has made things a lot more accessible for the IP groups living in the hills of Cordillera.

Nikola, for instance, logs in everyday on Facebook. “I use it to see the daily posts of my friends,” she said in Filipino. Mikaela Aliguyon, 11, echoed her friend—saying the widely-used social network lets her chat with her cousins situated in the Philippines and abroad.

The Ifugao boys, aged 10 and 11, are no different. Jervis Aliguyon enjoys playing Battle Realms online; while his other friends like WarCraft and NBA2K14.

Their favorite celebrities, meanwhile, vary from local to Hollywood. The girls admire Daniel Padilla, Kathryn Bernardo, Maja Salvador and Erich Gonzales; while the boys mostly Hollywood action stars: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Jackie Chan and the late Paul Walker.

600 schools of living traditions

As the young members of IP communities are now into the modern and cool, the government recognizes the challenge to keep their cultural identities intact.

The School of Living Traditions (SLT)—a program by the NCCA to pass on the ethnic traditions from one generation to answer—is well on its way to answer the problem.

According to Alphonsus Tesoro, NCCA head of the National Committee on Central Communities, more than 600 SLT programs have been rolled out around the country since it was established in 1995.

Nikola, Jervis and Mikaela are just some of the ethnic youths who finished programs under the SLT. This way, the kids learn their groups artistic, linguistic and occupational skills that are threatened by the changing times.

In charge of teaching the young members are cultural masters who hail from various IP groups and embody the skills and techniques of a particular art form. Their know-how on traditional performances, crafts and indigenous language are spread out of three phases with the life cycle of 3 to 6 months.

“It is a school in a sense that kids who belong to a certain IP community enrolls in the class under a cultural master. They are being taught, for example of the traditional craft, dance, music, the use of musical instrument—to pass on to the future generation,” said Tesoro, who hails from an ethnic-linguistic community in Western Visayas.

The NCCA also found reward system effective in keeping traditions alive.

The hudhud—a chant recited by Ifugaos during the harvesting and weeding of rice, funeral wakes, and bone-washing (bogwa) ritual—is a success story for the cultural agency under the office of the President.

The hudhud, dating back before the 7th century, is comprised of over 200 stories with about 40 episodes each. The language of the chants, almost impossible to transcribe, is full of repetitions, synonyms, figurative terms, and metaphors.

Rene Nepañes, NCCA head of public affairs, said the challenge of passing on this complex tradition to the youth has been made easier by awarding the groups (adult and kids) with the most number of chants practiced during the said occasions.

The Dayaw 2014 continues with two more legs: in Bacolod City on November 10 and 11 for the Visayas leg; and in Zamboanga City 20 to 22 for the Mindanao leg.


FROM YAHOO NEWS ASIA

Space agency: Comet lander ends up in cliff shadow Associated Press By FRANK JORDANS
November 13, 2014 4:44 PM

BERLIN (AP) — A shadow was cast — literally — across Europe's historic mission to land on and explore a comet. Scientists said Thursday the landing craft not only bounced twice, it also came to rest next to a cliff that's blocking sunlight from its solar panels.

The good news is that the lander Philae is stable and in good health: Its scientific instruments have already begun gathering reams of data to send back to Earth, including the first pictures taken from the surface of a comet.

The bad news is that its useful lifetime may now be much shorter.

With just a day or two left before the lander's primary battery is exhausted, scientists were considering what acrobatic maneuvers to risk in order to get the solar panels out of the shadows so they can keep Philae going for a few more months.

The first photos sent back to Earth revealed the comet's rocky terrain, including an image that showed one of the lander's three feet in the corner of the frame. They indicate that Philae's instruments are working properly, said Jean-Pierre Bibring, the lander's lead scientist at the European Space Agency.

Before deciding whether to try to adjust the lander, scientists will spend the next day or two collecting as much data as possible while its primary battery still has energy. The lander's solar panels were designed to provide an extra hour of battery life each day after that, but this may not be possible now.

"We see that we get less solar power than we planned for," said Koen Geurts of the lander team.

"This, of course, has an impact on our ... capabilities to conduct science for an extended period of time," he said. "Unfortunately this is not a situation that we were hoping for."

The lander scored a cosmic first Wednesday, touching down on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko after a decade-long, 4 billion-mile (6.4 billion-kilometer) journey through space aboard its mother ship, Rosetta. The comet is streaking through space at 41,000 mph some 311 million miles from Earth.

The landing was beset by a series of problems that began when thrusters meant to push Philae onto the comet failed. Then two harpoons, which should have anchored the lander to the surface, weren't deployed.

This caused the lander to bounce off the comet and drift through the void for two hours before touching down again. After a second smaller bounce, scientists believe it came to rest in a shallow crater on the comet's 2½ mile-wide body, or nucleus.

"We are just in the shadow of a cliff," Bibring said, adding that photos indicate the cliff could be just a few yards (meters) away. "We are in a shadow permanently, and that is part of the problem."

Bibring and his colleagues stressed that the data they'll be able to collect with the primary batteries alone will have made the landing worthwhile.

"A lot of science is getting covered now," he said, noting that soon scientists will get their hands on a tomography of the comet and data showing whether the matter it is made of is magnetized.

But because the lander is just resting on the comet with nothing but low gravity holding it down, Philae will have to hold off on one of the most important experiments — drilling into the comet to extract some of the material buried beneath the surface.

Scientists want to analyze this material because it has remained almost unchanged for 4.5 billion years, making it something of a cosmic time capsule.

"Drilling without being anchored and without knowing how you are on the surface is dangerous. We might just tip over the lander," said Stephan Ulamec, head of operations for Philae. Gravity on the comet is 1/100,000th that of Earth, meaning the washing machine-sized lander weighs just 0.04 ounces (1 gram) there.

Ground controllers will likely wait until the first big batch of data has been collected before attempting to adjust the lander so that its solar panels can catch the sun and charge its batteries.

Communication with the lander is slow, with signals taking more than 28 minutes to travel between Earth and the Rosetta orbiter flying above the comet.

Even if Philae uses up all its energy, it will remain on the comet in a mode of hibernation for the coming months. The comet is on a 6½-year elliptical orbit around the sun, and at the moment it is getting closer. So, in theory, Philae could wake up again if the comet passes the sun in such a way that the solar panels catch more light, Ulamec said.

Meanwhile, the Rosetta orbiter will also use its 11 instruments to analyze the comet over the coming months. Scientists hope the $1.6 billion (1.3 billion euro) project will help them better understand comets and other celestial objects, as well as possibly answer questions about the origins of life on Earth.

Comet lander Philae has entered sleep mode, and may never wake up again (updated) By Sebastian Anthony on November 16, 2014 at 6:55 am Updated 6:55am, November 16:


Good luck, Philae.

Unfortunately, the European Space Agency’s efforts to keep Philae powered up have failed. The lander has now entered “sleep mode,” and may wake up as the comet approaches the Sun over the next few months and more sunlight hits its solar panels. The good news is, Philae did successfully finish a full set of scientific experiments on the surface of comet 67P, including drilling down into it. The ESA should release the scientific results over the next couple of months.

Sadly, even space agencies with budgets of tens of billions of dollars are not immune to the pathetically lacking longevity of batteries.

The Philae lander, which made history by landing on comet 67P/C-G this week, has unfortunately found itself sitting in the shadow of a cliff.

Its solar panels can’t see the Sun, and thus its battery reserves are quickly running down. The European Space Agency will now try a series of heroic measures to try and keep Philae alive, but there’s the regretful possibility that Friday night — tonight — will be the last time we hear from the probe.

On Tuesday morning, Philae safely separated from the Rosetta mothership and began a seven-hour descent to the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. It was all going perfectly — Philae was on a perfect trajectory to land in exactly the right spot — but then its landing thruster didn’t work, and its grappling harpoons failed to fire.

Philae bounced back off the surface of the comet, floated around for a couple of hours in the comet’s weak gravity, bounced off the surface again, and then eventually landed about 0.6 miles (1 km) away from the original landing site. We don’t actually know where Philae landed, though Rosetta is using its high-res camera to look for it.

Unfortunately, with all the uncontrolled bouncing and distinct lack of harpooning, Philae appears to have ended up in the shadow of a cliff — a shadow that prevents the lander from using its solar panels effectively.

This is a problem as Philae’s primary battery is only good for about two days of usage — or, in other words, it’ll die very soon unless the ESA can somehow get some sunlight onto those solar cells.

The ESA, for its part, doesn’t seem too fazed by the dire circumstances. Basically, it’s a miracle that Philae landed at all — and despite the rough landing, the ESA is reporting that all of its scientific instruments are working and returning invaluable scientific data.

Every instrument, that is, except for the drill, which ESA hasn’t used because the torque could destablize the lander (that’s what the harpoons were for).

Now, however, with time running out, the astronomers at mission control will probably risk it anyway — the scientific payoff from drilling into a real, live comet is just too big to pass up.

Before Philae runs out of juice, the ESA will instruct the lander to turn its body, hopefully bringing its main solar panel into the life-giving gaze of the Sun.

If that doesn’t work, there are two other options for Philae: a) Go into hibernation mode and hope wait for sunnier times (which may occur as the comet gets closer to the Sun) — or b) Throw caution to the winds and drill into the comet — for science! — on the assumption that it might be the last thing it does.

Some engineers at the ESA are also mooting a third option — somehow using Philae’s moving parts to “hop” out of the cliff’s shadow — though, given how we know almost nothing about the lander’s current location or orientation, I suspect that’ll be a last resort.

If Philae does die tonight, it won’t be in vain. The lander has already returned a lot of valuable scientific data, and I’m sure the ESA will try to use the drill tonight, in a last-ditch effort to eke out as much science as possible from the comet.

At the end of the day, the fact that we’re getting any data at all — that we managed to land on a 2-mile-wide comet after a 10-year, 4-billion-mile journey across the Solar System — is pretty awesome.

Good luck, Philae.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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