3rd Durian Festival to run until September 21

SM Lanang Premiere assistant mall manager Jerome Yeo together with Davao City Government officials DTI-Davao City Director Edwin O. Banquerigo, DA-Davao Director Remelyn R. Recoter, DICDC president Larry Miculob, Davao City Councilor Marissa Salvador-Abella, and Davao City Agriculturist Roselio Tabay.

SM Lanang Premiere assistant mall manager Jerome Yeo together with Davao City Government officials DTI-Davao City Director Edwin O. Banquerigo, DA-Davao Director Remelyn R. Recoter, DICDC president Larry Miculob, Davao City Councilor Marissa Salvador-Abella, and Davao City Agriculturist Roselio Tabay.

VISITORS and Dabawenyos alike can still enjoy the much-loved Davao fruit at the 3rd Durian Festival at SM Lanang Premier’s The Fountain Court until September 21.

The exhibit, which opened last August 14, features different varieties of the King of Fruits, from native Filipino varieties to Thai ones. But one thing is for sure: every durian lover will definitely get delighted upon tasting the creamy fruit. Read more...

27 Filipinos get UK Chevening Scholarships

TWENTY seven Filipinos have been awarded the prestigious Chevening Scholarships by the UK Government for the coming academic year.

The scholars were recently honoured at a reception hosted by Ambassador Asif Ahmad at his residence on 25 August.

The event was attended by the families of the scholars, members of the Chevening alumni network in the Philippines and scholarship co-sponsors, Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), GlaxoSmithKline Philippines, Megaworld Foundation and Shell Philippines Inc.

(Contributed Photo)

“I’m delighted to see so many Chevening Scholarships awarded in the Philippines this year. This is our biggest number ever so these future leaders are making history. Working with our partners, we are very fortunate to have been able to increase the number of scholarships this year, reflecting our strong commitment to a dynamic UK-Philippine relationship. And we plan to see this number increase next year. The application window for that is now open so I urge all potential future leaders with a dynamic vision for the future to seriously consider Chevening. Competition for scholarships remains intense, so my warm congratulations to our 27 successful scholars. I’m sure your time in the UK will help you develop your vision and plans and allow them to be put into effect when you return to the Philippines,” Ambassador Asif Ahmad said.

Ambassador Ahmad also thanked BPI, GlaxoSmithKline, Megaworld and Shell for their support which has helped send the biggest batch of Filipino scholars to the UK.

The Chevening Scholars are: Ysmael Mangorsi, Maila Beniera, Maria Carmen Fernandez, Tasneem AbdulRauf, Asnin Pendatun, Maria Lourdes Gregorio, Edy Lynn Santiago, Julius Lotilla, Paul Zambrano, Ianela Carla Ortiz, Benedict Nisperos, Carizza Castelo, Anya Palileo, Micaela Papa, Asryman Rafanan, Raymond Astillas, Robert Siy, Aison Garcia, Rhio Fuentes-Nuylan, Margarita Villanueva, Miguel Dorotan, Carmela Fonbuena, Emilio Marañon III, Baby Ruth Villarama, Marc Cebreros, Irene Valones and Ivan Ledesma.

They will pursue Masters Degrees at different educational institutions in the UK in the fields of: finance and economics, law & human rights, trade, art & film, health and sciences, governance and peace & conflict studies.

Chevening Scholarships are awarded by the British Government to those who have a vision and drive to become future leaders in their chosen fields and countries. The scholarships were named after the Chevening House, the British Foreign Secretary’s official country residence.

Applications to Chevening Scholarships are ongoing. You may click here for more information. (PR)

Living the extremes

By Aimee Andaya Hilger

WATCHING the news about the massive rape cases in Congo made me angry but I was more worried about my friend. I haven’t seen her for a long time. I’ve seen her growing up and met her a couple of times when she was reviewing for her nursing licensure exams. Thanks to Facebook, we were able to connect even if she’s a million miles away from me.

My adventurous friend was a field worker nurse for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), also known to many as Doctors Without Borders, an international medical humanitarian organization present in nearly 70 countries. My friend was assigned in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

(Photo Courtesy: JI Nacanaynay)

Jay Ai Nacanaynay, the little girl I used to play with when I was still living with their family way back in college, fulfilled my dream to go and immerse in any place in Africa.

Before MSF, her nursing career started in Benghazi, Libya but when the war escalated, she went home and tried to look for a better place. Luck led her to Montreal Canada. She studied French so she’ll be able to understand her colleagues and her patients well. Her short stint in Libya taught her that language barrier could make matters worse. She said a patient in Libya who had Necrotizing Fascitis, a rare bacterial skin infection that kills the body’s soft tissues, liked her even if they didn’t understand each other. Other nurses avoided her but this young Filipina nurse did her duty even if she smelled awful. Her colleagues laughed at her when she misunderstood them. So, learning the language is a big deal if you’re working abroad.

As soon as she completed her language course, she chose not to work in Canada. Being a health worker in Congo didn’t make her bank account fat but it showed her different walks of life.

When I chatted with her about the rape cases, I asked her many questions so I could visualize her situation. She said living in a part of Congo was the total opposite of the life and leisure she had before. Their project is in a small province with little villages. They don’t have electricity so the office and the staff house just use generators. They are the ones providing electricity to the hospital. By 6 p.m., the streets are dark and they use flashlights to walk their way to the staff house. Some houses are lit up using petrol lamps. Others, (if they can afford) use solar panels to get electricity. They have a pit privy toilet or what we call the squatting toilet. No hot shower, not bathtubs but only a big pail and plastic cups for shower. Aside from the stocks they get once in every two weeks, they eat the same variety of food that they can find in the village. They were given allowances and salary but not as much as what she can get if she works in hospitals in other countries. Why?

She said she took the risk to work in extreme condition with a different setting to learn new culture and to fulfill her humanitarian dream. She actually labeled it as “living the extremes” because to her, it is the extreme.

She saw many children having severe malaria and were sent to the hospital almost dying and needing blood transfusion but they can’t provide them blood because it wasn’t available. They have roughly around 6-8 units of blood available every day in the whole hospital because it is difficult to find blood donors due to remoteness of the area, high cases of STDs and blood-borne diseases in the area. There is also a high rate of malnutrition for children 5 years and below because food is limited.

Thanks to people like her, many Congolese children recovered after a month. That gave her fulfillment. For her, nursing is not all about wearing white uniform, scrub suit or injections and medications. It is also about immersing oneself to another people’s life by just being there for them even if you fall short to treat them.

She said, “It’s your presence that gives them comfort and assurance that there is still a glimpse of hope and a few dust of luck. Being able to live in an extreme living condition and seeing people walk barefoot or sleep on the ground or carry I don’t know how many kilograms of wood on their back just to earn a living, humbled me. I am happy and humbled because I get to see children in the streets happily playing with plastic bottles or a piece of wood as toys and see the contentment all over their face and that made me realize that it’s the little things, simple things that matter. I have learned that it’s not the luxury that life offers me or the good food that I eat on the table, or a comfortable room and toilet that I have at home that would make me happy. This experience has taught me that life offers endless possibilities and a lot complexities but it all depends as to how I will turn things out to make my life livable and happy.”

When I asked her about her next move, she said she still sees herself working more projects with MSF. It won’t be a lifelong career but she would want to do humanitarian works in the next coming years.

For now, she’s back in the Philippines, spending time with her family and friend before heading to another adventure. This brave young Ilongga is looking forward for another humbling life experience.

With that, I’m excited to see more of her photos. Her lens captured different emotions of Congolese women and children. I saw poverty, innocence, simplicity, and genuine smiles. Women like her are for me the silent modern heroes of the world.

Philippine eagle ‘Pamana’ found killed in Davao Oriental

UPDATED — A rare Philippine Eagle released to the wild two months ago has been found killed in a southern Philippine forest, conservationists said Wednesday, in a tragic ending after she was nursed back to health from gunshot wounds three years ago. Only about 400 adult pairs are estimated left of the Philippine Eagle, which