TEAM PILIPINAS’ 2019 HIGHLIGHTS

It’s the start of another year! But before we jump headlong into 2020, let’s take another look at the past year.

2019 proved to be a very busy and challenging year for all of us, Team Pilipinas volunteers. The following are its highlights.

During the first five months, we became occupied with campaigning for Otso Diretso. All sorts of campaign activities, you name it, we had tried it – flyering, stickering, postering, saturation drives, Project Makinig, voters’ ed, fund-raising, caravans, Trompa project, Honesty runs, etc.

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After the elections, when we experienced a painfully dismal loss, we threw a party. Our Otso Diretso candidates, not yet done licking their own wounds, attended the Thanksgiving party and put up a brave front for all of us.

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We held regular General Assemblies to update our volunteers on all TP’s activities and projects. We also used those gatherings to discuss and exchange opinions and ideas on various socio-political issues hounding the country. I think, I’ve counted a total of 5 post-election GAs if I’m not mistaken.

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In July, we had our first fundraising activities called Sagwan ng Pag-asa and Salamat Pho. Both were for the benefit of the Recto Bank 22, the fishermen whose boat was rammed, sunk and abandoned at sea by a Chinese vessel.

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Also in July, we launched an online petition for the dismissal of the sedition and other charges filed against the opposition leaders led by VP Leni. We submitted that petition to the DOJ. Today, close to 68,000 people have already signed the petition.

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In August, we went to Occidental Mindoro to personally hand over to the fishermen of Gem-Ver 1 the cash donation that we managed to raise. We were there with VP Leni, who donated a substantial amount to the fishermen and listened to their stories of woes in the hands of the Chinese bullies.

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In September, in line with our observance of National Teachers’ Month, we launched another online fundraising campaign to help the public school teachers in Calbayog, Samar who are assigned to far-flung communities. Some of those teachers have to travel for as long as 11 hours across rivers, mountains and rice fields just to get to their students. Some have to live through the horrors and the constant threat of armed conflicts among feuding politicians or between the military and insurgents. Some have to starve during the habagat season because food in the island becomes scarce and no boat would dare venture into the tempestuous waters. And some have to witness their 10-year-old female students being married off to any man who can afford to pay P30,000 (even by installment) just to rid the family of another mouth to feed.

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By the end of September, we were in Samar for the turnover of the teacher’s kits. This project gave rise to another outreach initiative conducted by KAISA, a non-profit organization of some Tsinoy businessmen. So, two months after, we went back to Samar to distribute boxes and sacks of donations, not just for the teachers, but also for their students and communities.

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Also in September, before the anniversary of Marcos’ Martial Law, we sponsored a forum called A Re-Membering of the Essential Truths About Martial Law. The afternoon became emotionally charged when one of the speakers, Mr. Haroun Al-Rashid Alonto Lucman, Jr., presented a lengthy, harrowing and gut-wrenching narrative of what his people in Mindanao were made to endure and suffer during those very dark years in our nation’s history.

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In October, in time for the observance of the World Mental Health Day, we held another forum. Called Breaking Myths About Mental Health, the forum aimed to address three important concerns surrounding mental health: the grim statistics (1 in 5 Filipinos has a mental illness), the urgent need to break the stigma (mental illness is often suffered in silence due to the massive amount of stigma surrounding it), and the necessity for awareness (to be of better help to someone who may be showing signs and symptoms of mental illness).

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Due to the crippling effects of the Rice Tariffication Law to our farmers, we decided to sponsor a fundraising concert in November for the benefit of our rice farmers in Talavera, Nueva Ecija. With a parallel online fundraising campaign with the same name, the Maagang Pamasko Para sa Magsasakang Pilipino (MP4MP), the project’s initial goal was simple: to provide a Noche Buena package for the families of 100 farmers in Talavera.

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But when we managed to have our interview with one of the farmers published in Rappler and Inquirer.net, we received an overwhelming support from you and our other kababayans. So, in December, we trooped to Talavera not just to deliver Noche Buena packages, but to surprise the farmers with a Christmas party!

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Thanks to the Office of the Talavera Mayor, aside from the grocery items, blankets, canned goods, health kits, rice, and organic fertilizers that we brought for the farmers, they were also treated to a sumptuous boodle-fight lunch and raffle prizes and were given Christmas gifts. Mayor Vi also announced during the party the availability of rice seeds and cash assistance in her office.

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During the last quarter of the year, we heeded the call for help of our kababayans from Cotabato who were adversely affected by the series of strong earthquakes that struck the province. We ordered bags of rice from Session Groceries, an online grocery store that allowed donors to help the earthquake victims by selling and distributing rice which they purchased directly from the farmers of Cotabato.

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Finally, to celebrate the upcoming birthday of Jesus Christ, to welcome the holiday break, and to cap off the year, we held our Christmas Party in mid-December. And we decided to do it with no less than the happiest bee on earth, Jollibee!

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We are hoping that, with your continued support, mga ka-TP, 2020 will be another productive year for Team Pilipinas. TP Core Group, let’s do this!

Maraming salamat at Manigong Bagong Taon sa ating lahat!

#PilipinasDiretso

An Open Letter to senator Cynthia Villar

Dear senator Cynthia Villar,

Meet Aling Elvira.

Kagaya mo, isa rin siyang maybahay.

Kagaya mo, may mga anak din siya.

Kagaya mo, mahal niya rin ang lupa.

Magkapareho kayo, pero magkaiba rin sa maraming bagay.

Siya, asawa ng isang hamak na magsasaka; Ikaw, ng isang business tycoon na, ayon sa Forbes Magazine, ay ang pinakamayamang tao sa Pilipinas ngayon.

Siya, pinuproblema pa ang araw-araw na pagpasok ng mga anak sa eskwela. Ikaw, graduate na sa mga prestigious universities ang mga anak mo at ngayon ay may marangya nang pamumuhay (si Mark bilang DSWD Secretary, si Paolo bilang Chairman, Pres. o CEO ng iba’t-iba ninyong kumpanya at asawa ng isang partylist representative, at si Camille bilang Congresswoman ng Las Pinas).

Siya, sapat na suporta sa local farmers ang hinihingi; Ikaw, bilang second biggest importer of rice sa bansa ang pamilya mo, unimpeded importation of rice naman ang isinusulong.

Siya, ang nais lang ay huwag nang masadlak pa sa mas malalim na kumunoy ng kahirapan; Ikaw, ang mas mapalago pa ang inyong multi-billion business empire.

Siya, umaasa sa mga lingkod-bayan na inihalal nila para matulungan sila sa kanilang payak na pamumuhay; Ikaw, nasa iyong mga kamay ang kapalaran nila.

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Oo, senator Villar. Dahil sa RA 11203 o Rice Tariffication Law na isinulong mo sa Senado bilang Chairman ng Committee on Agriculture, mas lalong nawalan ng kasiguraduhan ang kinabukasan ng kanyang pamilya. Plano niya nang mamasukan bilang kasambahay, habang ang asawa niya ay iiwan na ang pagsasaka para humanap ng mas “stable” na trabaho.

Dahil po sa Rice Tariffication Law, dumagsa ang imported rice sa bansa na naging dahilan ng pagsadsad ng farmgate price ng palay. Ang average cost of producing palay ay P12 kada kilo. Ngayon, napipilitan ang mga magsasaka natin na ibenta ang kanilang ani sa presyong bumababa sa P7 kada kilo. Kung hindi nila ibibenta sa ganun kababang presyo ang kanilang ani, hindi ito mabibili. Mamamatay sila sa gutom.

Nasa tinatayang 200,000 magsasaka na ang tumigil sa pagbubungkal ng lupa dahil sa takot ng pagkalugi.

4,000 rice millers na rin ang nagsara.

Before RA 11203 was passed into law, ang binitawang pangako sa mga pangkaraniwang consumers na kagaya namin ay ang pagbaba ng presyo ng bigas sa merkado from P7-P10 per kilo. Noong July 2016, nasa P41.68 ang kada kilo ng bigas. Noong July 2017, nasa P41.89. Noong July 2018, nasa P44.69. Ngayong July 2019, nasa P42.86. Ang presyo pong ‘yan is lower by just P1.83 compared to the previous pro-RA 11203 price. Hindi lubusang bumaba ang presyo ng imported rice dahil mga rice cartels at traders lang ang kumikita nang malaki.

Sabagay, kung tutuusin, mas maganda pa ang kalagayan ng mga magsasakang hirap sa buhay kumpara sa mga magsasaka sa Negros na tinatakot, ginigipit at pinapatay –kung hindi man ng mga may-ari ng lupa, ay ng mga militar.

Sen. Villar, kapag tuluyan nang iniwan ng ating mga magsasaka ang pagsasaka, we will have a bigger problem as far as our food security is concerned. Magiging mas malala ang ating insurgency problem dahil mas mabilis na sila ngayong maeengganyo na mamundok na lang out of hopelessness. More children will drop out of school, baka tumaas ang incidence of prostitution, at there will surely be a rise in conversions of agricultural lands to subdivisions and commercial buildings.

Mga negosyong kagaya lang ng Vista Land, Camella Homes, Golden Bria, Golden Haven Memorial Park, Starmalls, at iba pa ang makikinabang sa lupa.

That’s what I was referring to when I mentioned na mahal mo rin ang lupa, senator Villar.

Sa lupa kasi nakaangkla ang majority ng mga negosyo ng pamilya mo. Mula sa housing, condo at commercial buildings, shopping malls, memorial parks at mining, may heavy investments kayo. When the farmers decide to sell their lands, lagi kayong handang “tumulong.”

Malaking bagay talaga na ikaw ang chairman ng Senate Committee on Agriculture, habang ang panganay mo naman ang Secretary ng DPWH. Mas madali para sa inyo ngayon na i-duplicate ang ginawa dati ng asawa mo with the C-5 Road project, ‘di po ba?

We used to wonder why a family like yours with a successful and legitimate business would want to venture and eventually be submerged in the murky waters of politics. Now, we know why.

Hinay-hinay lang po, senator Villar. Ayon nga kay Romulo Neri, “Moderate your greed.”

That’s all for now, senator Villar. Goodluck to you!

Nagpapaalala lang po,

Ang Taumbayan