The Other Side of My Blogging Life

I have not really had time to blog about what I had been doing these past months. It’s been a whirlwind time doing my usual mommy activities while participating in a new advocacy. Since October of 2009, I became part of a group of concerned citizen bloggers who wanted to do something other than our normal blogging. We wanted to push voter education and thought we could do something as there was quite a large online community if we put our readership together.

With my mommy blogger friend Noemi starting the whole effort, Blog Watch was put together. Starting with 16 bloggers, we grew to 31 by the time the May 10, 2010 elections came. By then, we had interviewed 7 of the 9 presidential aspirants (see pics below. I missed out on Bro. Eddie’s interview), some running for VP and senators, and a few local government candidates.

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Today is International Women’s Day 2010

International Women’s Day (8 March) is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future.

In my world, there are many women achievers that I see, some of whom I personally know — women of all ages who are moving in different spheres of influence trying to make this world better for others, women climbing the corporate ladder just as fast as their male counterparts, women making marks in the fields of arts, science, government, industry, medicine and in many more areas.

But today, I want to honor the women who are not as visible to the world as we know it. These are the women in many countries who continue to be discriminated against; abused by their own culture, family and husbands; tortured as political prisoners; forced into heavy labor under abject conditions; and many other women who suffer in silence despite domestic violence for the sake of their children.

I truly feel blessed to be born a free woman — free to grow up under the care of a loving family, free to be educated as much as i wish to, free to choose who I love and marry, free to travel, free to express myself in any form (within reasonable bounds), free to be recognized for my God-given talents in a society that treats men and women equally.

How sad it is to see that even in world that has gone through centuries witnessing slavery, discrimination, abuse and the like, these have not been totally eradicated till now despite the technological and educational advancement that people living in this century have access to.

I fervently hope that it will not be long before women are accorded the dignity, respect and equality that we have a right to as  human beings and children of a God that sees all men and women as equals. Equality not in the sense that men and women should have the same roles all the time (as women definitely have roles that are best served by our nurturing nature) but equality in the sense that a woman who chooses to stay home to take care of children should be accorded the same respect as one who chooses to pursue a career. After all, careers have office hours. Full-time mothers work 24/7.

I wish I live to see the day when societies with castes and social classes break these barriers down and afford women the same rights to dignity, education and work as men. I hope that I or my children will be able to witness a world where women are free to be the best they can be as citizens of this world with the same opportunity to make a contribution to mankind.

To all my women family and friends, here’s wishing ourselves a HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY!

MOVE – a World AIDS Day Project by Headshot Clinic

Are we aware of how HIV/AIDS is rapidly spreading in the Philippines and in the world?

I got hold of some materials with some statistics from the National Epidemiology Center and was shocked to find out that:

– At the present rate, there will be 700 new cases of HIV/AIDS before 2009 ends

– In 2000, there was only 1 new case every 3 days; in 2009, there are TWO new cases EVERY DAY!

– 89% of HIV transmission is through SEX

– Since 2007, 72% of new cases were males who were infected by having sex with OTHER MALES

View this document on Scribd

Coinciding with the annual celebration of World AIDS Day last December 9, a series of portraits done by the renowned Filipino conceptual photographer, Niccolo Cosme, is on exhibit at Greenbelt 5 (fountain area). The exhibit runs till December 14.

My oldest daughter and I were lucky to have been part of a pool of bloggers who participated in this year’s Project Headshot Clinic. On their website, this is what Headshot Clinic has to say about their unique way of spreading awareness of HIV/AIDS:

The Headshot Clinic is the flagship in employing unparalleled advocacy using digital photography as its main medium of representation and publicizes it through the presently prevailing social networks. The collaborating powers of both will further enhance awareness as last year’s UNAIDS supported Project Headshot Clinic: AWARE to spread the issues and facts of HIV/AIDS. “AWARE” took the internet by storm. It was able to spread consciousness and made more people aware of HIV/AIDS.

This year, UNAIDS and Project Headshot Clinic are working together to call for ACTION in fighting the spreading of HIV/AIDS. It is a sad realization that as much as we are aware of the dangers, still – more and more people are diagnosed with the decease.

And so we have to MOVE.

Headshot Clinic Project: UNAIDS MOVE aims to facilitate curiosity in people and drive them to make a change. We will inform the public and will ultimately thrust a call for action to fight HIV/AIDS. It will feature advocates who are the movers and shakers in the Philippines, as well as regular people like students, taxi drivers, or personalities who are or have been affected by HIV. This time, as we have succeeded in the dissemination of awareness from last year, we are acting on it.

And we will fight it together, everyone has a voice and it should be heard.

To put the exhibit together, Headshot Clinic and Niccolo tapped celebrities, bloggers and ordinary people for headshots. Personally, I felt it was my chance to help promote an advocacy as a blogger, to do something worthwhile and push for awareness and change.

Some people I recognized among the pics taken by Headshot Clinic were Boyet Sison (ANC host of Hardball), RJ and Vanessa Ledesma, Carlos Celdran, Joey Reyes, Cong. Risa Hontiveros, Kristine Hermosa, Gelli de Belen, Dr. Eric Tayag of DOH, Tim Yap and Niccolo himself.

Here is my own headshot pic.

It’s time to MOVE and make more people aware of the creeping threat of HIV/AIDS in our country!

There will be more activities to drum up HIV/AIDS awareness in the Philippines scheduled for 2010. Watch for them!

Kariton Klasrum’s Efren Penaflorida is CNN Hero for 2009!

CNN has just announced that Efren Penaflorida is CNN Hero of the Year (2009), besting 9 other finalists worldwide. From an original 9,000 nominations, CNN whittled the finalists down to 10 and today, the overall winner was chosen via online voting.

Here’s CNN’s video showing Efren accepting the award:

When Efren became one of the 10 finalists, he and the others received $25,000 each but with this feather in the cap, he gets an additional $100,000. The entire Philippines is so proud of you, Efren! Isa kang tunay na bayaning Pinoy!

I feel happy to have been part of those who actively voted for Efren as I totally believe in his Kariton Klasrum (Pushcart Classroom) and his goal to give street children an alternative to gang membership.

I blogged about Efren being a finalist and how to make him a hero. Then during the voting period, bloggers actively promoted the voting via their blogs and Twitter, Plurk and Facebook accounts; TV stations plugged the website where people could vote; emails began circulating to get more people to join in the voting. The mission — to get Efren declared as CNN Hero — became a Pinoy-led campaign.

All in all, 2.75 million votes were cast for Efren. Did they say how many of those went to him alone? I don’t know. Personally, I can’t count anymore the number of times I voted for him. In the beginning, I did it from the CNN site, one vote at a time, but towards the end of the voting period, I was alerted to a site where one could “power vote” (which enabled 10 tabs to open at the same time), thus speeding up one’s ability to vote. Thanks to being a touch-typist, I was able to power vote a lot of times. My very own contribution to Efren’s cause!

Here are a couple of links if you want to know more about Efren and his cause:

CNN’s backgrounder on Efren Penaflorida

Dynamic Teen Company (a group of young people following in the footsteps of Efren)

While it is true though that many Filipinos worldwide showed once again the bayanihan spirit in voting for Efren, it does not take away the fact that all these started because one person decided to make a difference. What seemed like an insurmountable obstacle gave way to a dream and perseverance.

Efren Penaflorida did not just talk about his goals for a better Philippines. He went right out and did it by pushing the kariton klasrum to where kids needed it. If only we could find more of his kind, sincere and dedicated to the betterment of the Filipino youth, the Philippines is sure to be on the road to progress. Efren Penaflorida literally WALKS HIS TALK.

How many of us can say the same?

Congratulations, Efren! You are not just CNN’s Hero. You are a hero to each and every Filipino wherever he is in the world.

Blog Watch Formally Launches on Nov. 24, 2009

I had an earlier post about being part of Blog Watch, hosted by Vibal Foundation’s Philippine Online Chronicles.

On November 24, 2009, Blog Watch will be formally launched in the presence of traditional and new media at Max’s Restaurant on Jupiter St., Makati, from 11am to 2pm.

The blogger-writers for Blog Watch will attempt to “fill in the gaps” as well as complement traditional media’s coverage of the 2010 elections. We have began some features on voter education and are now beginning to provide backgrounders on the candidates for national positions (both on the personal side as well as the political side, including issues they are supporting). In addition, commentaries stemming from the personal insights of the writers will add flavor to this site.

It is our hope that through Blog Watch as well as other blogs and news sites, including those set up by COMELEC, the voting public will be able to make wiser decisions on who to elect into office.

I invite you to visit Blog Watch regularly to become as informed as possible before the 2010 Philippine elections. You may also follow Blog Watch on FacebookTwitterPlurk and subscribe to its YouTube channel.

The bloggers (as of this writing) who form part of Blog Watch are Noemi Dado (A Filipina Mom Blogger), Jane Uymatiao (Here’s to Life!), Sonnie Santos (Sonnie’s Porch), Dine Racoma (The D Spot), Vincent Golangco (When in Manila), Carlo Ople (New Media Philippines), Marck Rimorin (The Marocharim Experiment)Rochelle Sy Chua, Juned Sunido (Baratillo @ Cubao), Fritz Tenatativa (Fritzified)Leslie Bocobo, Brian Ong (The Philippines and Beyond), Victor Villanueva (Bikoy.Net), Dean Jorge Bacobo (Philippine Commentary), Pierre Tito Galla (Jester-in-Exile), Karen Ang (Bury me in this dress), AnnaManila (Ode2Old), Wyatt Belmonte (Wyatt’s Kitchen), and Blogie Robillo (Blogie Blog).

Bearhugs for Baguio: A Project for Typhoon Pepeng’s Smallest Victims

Bearhugs for BaguioIn the aftermath of Typhoon Pepeng which devastated Northern Luzon, much of the relief efforts were concentrated on providing food, clothing and shelter for the displaced families. Recovery and rescue efforts filled most of the efforts in the hours right after Typhoon Pepeng passed over the area.

While all these are indeed needed for the basic survival of families, what has been largely forgotten or neglected was the state of mind of the youngest victims of this natural calamity — the children of Baguio, Benguet, Pangasinan and surrounding areas.

Recognizing this need, my friend Cathy Babao-Guballa put up Bearhugs for Baguio. Cathy is a regular writer for the Philippine Daily Inquirer where she has a Sunday column, Roots and Wings. She is also a blogger at Midlife Mysteries and Grief is a Journey (she put up Griefshare, a grief support group in the Philippines). Together with her daughter, Cathy co-wrote a children’s book, Heaven’s Butterfly, to help small kids cope with grief. So Cathy knows her stuff when she realized that just as much as they needed rehabilitation on a physical level, the children had to be aided in coping with the psychological trauma from this disaster.

Below is the message that Cathy posted on her Facebook wall:

BEARHUGS FOR BAGUIO-The children in many of Baguio’s evacuation centers have been severely traumatized by the typhoon. Reports say that many of them stare blankly at walls, and have no appetite. A stuffed toy is a small thing, but for a child who has been through a nightmare such as the recent floods and typhoon, it can mean everything and help him or her, break out of that shell. Together with PINE, a Baguio NGO, a group of friends and I are trying to raise at least 500 bears or stuffed toys to send to Baguio’s children. If you would like to donate your old teddy bears or stuffedtoys, please email 10000bears@gmail.com or send a text message to 0917-529-1964 so we can advise you of the drop-off point. Thank you very much!

If you have teddy bears and other stuffed toys lying around your homes, if your kids have outgrown these, and if you find it in your heart to share the joy of hugging a stuffed toy with a child who has known nothing but suffering these past weeks, please send an email or text the mobile number indicated.

I have been meeting up with friends who had toys to donate. If you will be in any blogger events in the coming days, I can receive the toys on behalf of Cathy.

As of this writing, the plan is for a volunteer friend of Cathy to bring the toys up to Baguio on October 25.

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