₱12M in grants from US to 5 PH universities

₱12M in grants from US to 5 PH universities | Juan Manila

MANILA — To support research and innovation in beating the pandemic, the United States government through the USAID’s (United States Agency for International Development) “Widening Applications of Research within the Pandemic” (WARP) awards approximately ₱12 million ($244,000) to five Philippine universities.

It aims to help Philippine universities build on previous USAID-funded research and also create partnerships among universities, industries and local governments.

“As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the US-Philippines diplomatic relations, these grants are another milestone in this long-standing partnership as we work together to make higher education and innovation a driver of inclusive growth in the Philippines,” says USAID mission director Lawrence Hardy II.

The five selected research proposals are:
• Development of novel antiseptic patches for wound dressing and skin healing (University of San Carlos)

• Analyzing properties of high-value extracts from ube and corn for possible use in ready-to-eat foods and as a replacement for commercial food coloring (Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University)

• Establishment of a tuna jerky product enterprise to improve economic opportunities for local fishermen (University of the Philippines-Visayas)

• Conversion of waste from coconut oil processing into an economically viable substitute to imported chemicals used in insulating foam production (Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology)

• Expansion of village-scale ethanol production in the Ilocos regions to sustainably supply much-needed disinfectants for public health use (Mariano Marcos State University)

The USAID through its Science, Technology, Research, and Innovation for Development (STRIDE) project, has provided grants supporting innovation initiatives to almost 60 research groups in 20 higher education institutions throughout the country since 2013. (JSM/JuanManila)

Jaworski, Buhain, Muros, and more sports heroes to be honored

Jaworski, Buhain, Muros, and more sports heroes to be honored | Juan Manila


MANILA The Philippine Sports Hall of Fame (PSHOF) will have 10 new members as the selection committee announced the latest additions.

Robert “Sonny” Jaworski, the living legend in Philippine basketball. The symbol of Team Ginebra’s “never-say-die” attitude that has become the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) team’s mantra until today. He won multiple championships in the collegiate, professional, and national team ranks.

Eric Buhain, Southeast Asian Games, Bangkok, Thailand, where he snatched the gold in swimming and broke records in the SEA Games.

Elma Muros-Posadas won eight Southeast Asian (SEA) Games gold medals in the long jump event and also won seven more in athletics.

Paulino Alcantara was a part of the Philippine team that thrashed Japan, 15-2, in the 1917 Far Eastern Championship Games, the predecessor of the Asian Games, by far the Philippines’ biggest win in the international football circuit.

He was also one of FC Barcelona’s first superstars, leading La Liga Santander powerhouse to six Copa Del Rey titles during the 1910s and 1920s while also becoming the club’s youngest scorer at age 15.


Other sports heroes
The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) says Dionisio Calvo (coach-basketball & football), Arianne Cerdena (bowling), Gertrudes Lozada (swimming),
Rogelio Onofre (athletics), Leopoldo Serrantes (boxing), and Roel Velasco (boxing) will also be inducted in the PSHOF.

A committee selected the inductees headed by PSC Chairman Butch Ramirez, along with sports officials such as Philippine Olympic Committee President Abraham Tolentino and Games and Amusements Board chair Baham Mitra.

Each honoree will receive 200,000 and the PSHOF trophy.

Others in the PSHOF are basketball icons Carlos Loyzaga, Kurt Bachmann, and Ambrosio Padilla, boxers Gabriel Elorde and Pancho Villa, and decorated athletes Paeng Nepomuceno (bowling), Bong Coo (bowling), and Lydia de Vega (athletics). (JSM/JuanManila)

Two Filipinas named NatGeo Young Explorers

The NatGeo Museum | Two Pinays named NatGeo Young Explorers | Juan Manila


The National Geographic, or NatGeo, names two Filipinas 2020 Young Explorers of the National Geographic Society. Louise Mabulo and Josefa Tauli are both alumni of the University of the Philippines and are engaged in impact-driven efforts that address global issues.

Louise Mabulois of Camarines Sur is a cacao farming advocate while Josefa Tauli, indigenous youth from Cordillera, joined the Fall 2020 cohort of Young Explorers announced by the National Geographic Society in January 2021.


Josefa Tauli, IP youth leader

Josefa Isabel Tauli, 25, is an Ibaloi-Kankanaey Igorot indigenous youth from the Cordillera Region. She represents indigenous and local youth on the Steering Committee of the Global Youth Biodiversity Network (GYBN), the official youth constituency to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

She graduated in Wildlife Studies from the University of the Philippines Los Baños.


Louise Mabulo, Farming Advocate

Louise Emmanuelle Mabulo, 22, is an award-winning chef, entrepreneur, farmer, public speaker, and competitive archer.

Founder of The Cacao Project, which she established to help farmers in the Bicol region when their livelihoods were destroyed by Typhoon Nina in 2016, her social venture is to equip farmers with sustainable methods that will ensure food security and establish resilient livelihoods.

Forbes Asia called Mabulo as a Filipino youth leader of The Cacao Project. The Straits Times of Singapore placed her in the “30 and Under Young Asians to Watch.”

Mabulo was also named in the Gen T list of Filipinos shaping Asia’s future. In 2019, she  won the United Nations Asia-Pacific Young Champions of the Earth prize.

Mabulo completed Economic Development and Social Entrepreneurship at Brown University, U.S.A. and the Watson Institute Philippines. She graduated from the University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) in December.


#GenGeo activists

Both Pinays are part of the #GenGeo, a global community of young people who are helping to shape the conversation, drive progress, and seek solutions to help protect our planet.

Young Explorers are nominated and later selected by the National Geographic Society through a competitive, multi-tiered application process. In addition to funding, Young Explorers receive skills building, leadership development training, and networking opportunities to connect and collaborate with their peers. The National Geographic Society has brought together extraordinary individuals from around the world since 1888. (JSM/JuanManila)

Featured image: The National Geographic Museum. The National Geographic Society, headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States, is one of the largest non-profit scientific and educational organizations in the world. (Photo National Geographic website)

Globe backs rising pro boxer Martin ahead of crucial bantamweight showdown

Staying true to its commitment to support promising athletes who could be the next world champions, Globe Telecom vowed to support boxer Carl Jammes Martin ahead of the bantamweight showdown in the Omega Pro Sports International’s (OPSI) two-part “bubble” boxing action where he will take on a veteran fighter from the South this coming December 18 in Cebu City.

Also called the “Wonder Boy,” Martin, who hails from Hingyon, Ifugao has won 15 professional fights, 14 of which were all knockouts. With this, some are referring to him as the second coming of Globe Ambassador, boxing icon, and eight division world champion Senator Manny Pacquiao.

Globe President and CEO Ernest Cu said that they are seeing a vast potential of Martin as the next Filipino world boxing champion.

“Despite his young age, he shows discipline, humility and hunger to be the best in his chosen sport. We would be more than happy to help him realize his dream of bringing glory and fame to the country just like what Senator Manny Pacquiao has done and continues to do so until now,” said Cu.

Martin has an impressive stint under his belt with victories against an array of seasoned fighters including Petchorchae Kokietgym (3rd round knockout) and Yuttichai Wannawong (1st round TKO) both from Thailand and Filipino veterans Venezer Alolod (7th round KO) and Philip Luis Cuerdo (3rd round KO).

The young boxer who proudly flaunts his Ifugao roots when entering the boxing ring is currently ranked number 39 by the World Boxing Council.

Palace hopes Biden will help Filipino illegal immigrants

The Palace is hopeful that the upcoming administration of US President-elect Joseph “Joe” Biden will be beneficial to illegal Filipino immigrants who “have played a huge role in the United States.”

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that while many Filipino immigrants in the US are TNTs or ‘tago nang tago,’ the Duterte administration is hoping that they will be given an opportunity to legalize their stay in the US.

“When it comes to immigration, we hope there will be a policy shift under a Democratic administration because many Filipinos are living in the United States,” said Roque.

“I hope they will help Filipinos who are now living in the United States but who have no papers because that is a major policy difference between Republican and Democratic administrations. Otherwise, we expect everything to be stable, no major change,” he added.

Think tank Pew Research Center said that there were about 10.5 million unauthorized immigrants in the US in 2017, while more recent reports note that there are about 300,000 Filipinos illegally staying there.

The administration of President Donald Trump has been strict against illegal immigration which he said is taking away jobs from Americans.

President Rodrigo Duterte previously said that he would not help illegal Filipino immigrants in case they are caught by US authorities since they are violating the law.

DFA lauds abolition of Saudi Arabia’s ‘kafala’ system effective 2021

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) considers the abolition of Saudi Arabia’s “kafala system” as a great feat in the Philippines’ long-existing battle against the slavery system involving migrant workers in the Middle East.

The Saudi Arabia government has decided to abolish the kafala system which prevents an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) from travelling or switching sponsorships without the consent of their present employer.

DFA Usec. Sarah Arriola said that the kafala system has been affecting OFWs, especially household workers.

“May mga pagkakataon po na this leads to slavery lalo na sa mga household workers dahil ang ginagawa po sa kanila, binebenta sila, tine-trade po sila, or naa-abuso talaga sila dahil wala silang choice,” said Arriola.

She added that the ‘kafala system’ also made it difficult for the Philippines to repatriate Filipinos amid COVID-19 since their employers usually didn’t give them exit visas.

Arriola encouraged Filipino workers to approach the DFA if their employers would refuse to honor the abolition of the ‘kafala system’ by March and they would be offered legal assistance.

HelperChoice: Average domestic workers’ salary in Hong Kong maintains positive trend for the past four years

For the fourth consecutive year, HelperChoice’s annual salary survey in Hong Kong shows an encouraging trend in the average salary offered by employers. For the first time in history, the average salary of foreign domestic workers exceeds HK$5,000.

According to HelperChoice data, this year, foreign domestic workers have been earning HK$5,012 on average, equalling a 1.35% increase compared to the previous study in 2019, and a 14% increase since 2016.

Despite the slight increase of 1.35% of the average salary, the platform highlights that the increase rate is slower this year than during the previous ones (+3.05% between 2018 and 2019). 

Regarding the districts, HelperChoice identifies clear disparities in the domestic helpers’ salaries according to their employment location. Following the trends of their previous years’ observations, families living in areas considered as more wealthy offer a higher salary to their helpers.

In 2020, the top five Hong Kong districts with the highest wages are: the Wanchai, Southern, North, Central & Western and Sai Kung. Foreign domestic workers in these districts might expect an average salary of HK$5,257 in these areas, with several employers offering up to HK$10,000 per month. 

While the Outlying Islands are absent from the highest paid districts this year, surprisingly, North district enters in the Top 5 districts’ with the highest paid salary for foreign domestic helpers, with an average salary of, that is to say a 8.7% increase compared to 2019. 

On the other hand, the five districts offering the lowest salaries this year are: Kwun Tong, Sha Tin, Sham Shui Po, Wong Tai Sin and Kwai Tsing. Employers in these areas offer an average salary of HK$4,726, which is only HK$96 above the Minimum Allowable Salary (MAW) at the time of HK$4,630. 

Despite this encouraging trend, the average salary offered, HK$5,012, does not yet meet the average salary expected by foreign domestic workers. According to HelperChoice data, on average, domestic helpers request a salary of HK$5,259, that is to say HK$247 more than what employers offer at the moment. 

If we go back in time, we can observe that the Minimum Allowable Salary (MAW) increases, on average, by 2.4% every year and follows the Consumer Price Index (CPI) trend, which evolves at an average rate of 2% each year (but suffered a 0.4% decrease between 2020 and 2019).

Covid-19 has unfortunately deeply impacted a lot of Filipino overseas workers, including domestic workers. It is estimated that so far more than 345,000 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) have lost their jobs worldwide, and many more struggle to find a new position abroad due to travel bans. A huge loss for the Philippines citizens and Economy as a whole, as around 10% of the Philippines’ GDP relies on OFWs remittances. 

While the Hong Kong government provided help to most residents, including HK$10,000 to all permanent residents under the Cash Payout Scheme, it was decided to not raise the minimum allowable wage of foreign domestic workers this year. 

This decision stresses even more the financial burden, as well as the difference in status and working conditions made between foreign domestic workers and other workers in the city. Despite representing 400,000 people in the Hong Kong working force, foreign domestic workers are the only workers who cannot access permanent residency in Hong Kong after 7 years of employment in the city. 

In 2020, the HelperChoice registered a 6% increase in foreign domestic workers looking for a new job due to termination of their previous contract, mostly because of their employer’s relocation. 

“This situation is increasing the dependence of Filipino families to foreign domestic workers still employed, or already abroad and looking for a new job. It is even more important to help foreign domestic workers who are currently in Hong Kong finishing their contracts or the ones who have seen their contracts being terminated (mostly due to financial reasons or relocations of their employer) to find another position before they have to go back to the Philippines unemployed.” Mahee Leclerc, Managing Director of HelperChoice said.

To face this, HelperChoice has set a new process in 2020 for all foreign domestic workers looking for a job, who are already in Hong Kong, helping them improve their CVs in order to find a new employer as quickly as possible. 

Apart from the increase in contracts’ terminations, most of the domestic workers surveyed by HelperChoice mentioned deterioration of their working conditions: 

A majority denouncing an increase in the workload (31%), and longer working hours (25%). Unfortunately, due to the difficult social and economic situation, 21% of the domestic workers surveyed also mention being in constant fear of termination of their contract, affecting their mental well-being. 

With the implementation of social distancing amid Covid-19, HelperChoice witnessed a strong increase of its traffic, increasing by 150% new users between late March and early April. 

Hong Kong residents have been limiting unnecessary travels as much as possible during the peak of the epidemic, most of them working from home, so it’s only logical that they switched to an online solution to hire their domestic helper instead of going to an agency. 

HelperChoice has the largest database of finished contracts domestic helpers in the city, and these contract statuses are the easiest to hire in the current situation. 

“This phenomenon is not a temporary trend, but more like a structural change in the industry. After months of political unrest and now, sanitary crisis, Hong Kongers and foreign domestic workers, who were favouring traditional employment agencies before, are now turning to online services for good,” Leclerc added.

In Hong Kong it is mandatory for domestic helpers to live with their employers. Considering the housing costs in Hong Kong, this has of course a huge impact on the domestic helpers’ budget and the money they can save or send back home. 

However, the comfort of the living arrangements plays a significant part in domestic workers’ working conditions. 20% of the domestic workers surveyed would prefer to live-out, and 75% to have a private room. Earlier this month, a domestic helper lost a Court of Appeal challenging the ‘live-in’ rule in the city, saying tat the live-in requirement was part of the wider systemic discrimination faced by foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong. 

As the employers can specify the type of accommodation they offer to their domestic workers, HelperChoice also investigated which types of living arrangements are the most common. The survey exposed that a large majority (66%) of job offers included a private room, whereas 22% offered a room shared with a child, 9% a room shared with another domestic worker and 3% a room shared with an adult. It is important to note that domestic helpers cannot sleep in the same room as another adult of the opposite sex. 


Senators slam Duterte’s full pardon on Pemberton

President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent granting of full pardon on former US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton ignited objections from different sectors, from the general public to showbiz personalities.

Politicians, too, have their own say on the matter, starting off with none other than Duterte himself. “You have not treated Pemberton fairly. So, i-release ko. Pardon. Eh ang pardon, walang mga question ‘yan (there are no questions there),” the president said in his public address.

Senator Risa Hontiveros, however, slammed the move, boldly saying that it was “an unbelievable affront” not only to the LGBTQI+ community but also to the Filipino people.

Senator Francis Pangilinan also criticized Duterte’s move, saying: “This questionable and highly controversial pardon helps to redirect and divert the public’s attention away from the incompetent, corrupt and failing [COVID-19] campaign.”

Duterte OKs P5-billion fund for OFW repatriation

President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the additional P5-billion fund to be used for the repatriation and aid of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The additional fund is expected to help about 597,469 OFWs under the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) Abot Kaya ang Pagtulong (AKAP) program.

DOLE’s request for new budget came after Secretary Silvestre Bello III bared that the agency has nearly exhausted its P2.5 billion for AKAP. Under the said program, OFWs receive a one-time cash aid amounting to P10,000. More than 233,000 OFWs already got cash aid as of August 8, and around 130,000 OFWs were sent home since May 15, according to the labor department.

ABS-CBN continues its service to Filipino people via digital platforms

ABS-CBN is far from being killed, despite the House committee’s refusal to renew the franchise of its broadcasting business.

To recap, seventy members of the House Committee on Legislative Franchises voted ‘yes’ for the denial of ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal application on its final and 13th hearing last Friday (July 10).

“Labis po kaming nasasaktan sa desisyon ng committeee ng Legislative Franchises na tanggihan ang franchise ng ABS-CBN. Naniniwala kaming nakapagbigay kami ng serbisyong makabuluhan at mahalaga sa Filipino. Gayunpaman nagpapasalamat kami sa komite para sa pagkakataon na maipahayag ang aming panig sa mga issues laban sa amin,” said ABS-CBN President and CEO Carlo Katigbak.

With the paralysis of ABS-CBN’s business arm, members of its 11,000-people workforce are in danger of losing jobs by August, adding to the growing number of unemployment cases in the country amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Nevertheless, the network may still be able to continue its programs on digital platforms outside the franchise regulations of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).

This opens an opportunity for ABS-CBN to reach a global audience much larger than the 69 million Filipinos who have access to free TV in the Philippines.