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Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Cotabato City, 27 November (AKI) - In an effort to slow down the ballooning of the country's population, the Philippines largest Muslim rebels has urged all Filipino Muslims to observe Manila's birth spacing program.

Eid Kabalu, spokesperson for the 11,900 strong Moro Islamic liberation Front (MILF), told AdnKronos International that the Assembly of Darul-Iftah, an organization of Islamic religious authorities or imams, has issued guidelines on Philippines President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's birth spacing program.

"There's nothing wrong with family planning program. It was reviewed by the Darul-Iftah and they are also endorsing it," Kabalu said.

"We are advising our fellow Muslims to coordinate with government health workers. We encourage Muslim couples to practice it because it will help in all aspects of human life," he added.

The Philippines is 85-percent Catholic. The Church allows only natural family planning methods and considers the use of artificial means of birth control a grievous sin.

Manila's health department family planning program is based on responsible parenthood, which gives married couples the responsibility of spacing their children.

"The government is not banning having children. But what the government is proposing under birth spacing is to lower the birth rate based on the natural cycle of women," regional health officer Abdullah Dumama told AKI.

According to Dumama, a sound population control program would create an informed citizenry, which would in turn practice birth spacing that would result in fewer births.

However, Kabalu stressed that a family planning program for the Muslim community should be anchored on the principles of non-coercion, responsible parenthood and informed choice."

"It does not refer to abortion, neither to birth control but birth or child spacing and should be the couple's decision," he said, quoting what the late MILF chairman, Salamat Hashim, once had told him.

To strengthen his point, he reminded that in 2004, 22 Muslim religious leaders signed a 'fatwah,' – religious edit - affirming that "improved reproductive health conditions benefits individual Muslims and strengthens the Muslim nation socially, economically, politically and in all other aspects of human life."

At the same time, Kabalu added "the fatwah stated that all methods of contraception are allowed as long as they are safe, legal, in accordance with the Islamic Shariah, and approved by a credible physician preferably a Muslim for the benefit of both the mother and the child."

In general, Muslims believe that birth control and prevention of pregnancy are prohibited except when the pregnancy places the mother in danger or cause illness which will affect her life.

Based on the 2000 census, the country's population was growing at the rate of 2.36 percent each year, or 1.6 million babies.

In mid-2006, the population was estimated at over 87 million. By 2025, the number of Filipinos is projected to reach 115.7 million and, given the five-year-old census baseline, the population could hit 100 million in the next five to six years.

Mindanao's population is growing fast at 2.42 percent per year, higher than the national average of 2.36 percent.

In the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the 2.4 million populace is growing by 3.86% with most families having an average household size of 6.13, the highest nationwide. ARMM is also the poorest part of the country.

Article written by Jeoffrey Maitem, PDI-Mindanao Bureau. Jeof also writes for AdnKronos International.

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Friday, November 24, 2006

MDG album wins the Catholic Mass Media Awards!!!

It may be seen as a thawing of the cold war between the Catholic Church and the advocates for reproductive health. The Catholic Mass Media Award (CMMA) for best music television (MTV) went to "Tayo, Tayo Rin" from "Tayo, Tayo Rin sa 2015: the MDG (Millennium Development Goals) Album" which advocates responsible parenthood and gender equality, among others. The carrier single, "Tayo, Tayo Rin (No One Else But Us)" is the country's version of Live Aid's "Don't You Know It's Christmas" and "We Are The World" with singers like Gary Valenciano, Janno Gibbs, Jaya, Joey Ayala, Joey G. of Side A Band, Julia Abueva, Kitchie Nadal,Kuh Ledesma, Lea Salonga, Martin Nievera, Pops Fernandez, SarahGeronimo, Sharon Cuneta, Aiza Seguerra, APO Hiking Society, Bayang Barrios, Christian Bautista, Freddie Aguilar, Ai-Ai delas Alas and theRivermaya Band doing cameos for free. The song, penned by Cecilia Datu with music by Rico Blanco of Rivermaya, looks at the country's dire social situation (Kung dumaraing ka / Masdan mo ang musmos/ Gusto sanang mag-aral / Ngunit nanlilimos/ Kung nagigipit ka / Masdan mo ang dalaga/ Di maabot angpangarap / Dahil babae siya (If you are complaining watch the childwho wants to go to school but is begging. If you are at a loss for money look at the woman who can't reach her goal because she's awoman) and what we can do to improve it. "Simulan na'ng magtanim ng mabubuting gawain/ Dahil sino pa'ng aani, kundi tayo – tayo rin (Start planting good deeds because who elsewould reap but all of us)," goes one of the choruses.

There are eight songs in the album to signify the eight goals that the Philippines has vowed to achieve on or before 2015, said Tess Fernandez, Program Officer for Advocacy of the United Nations Population Fund(UNFPA). The songs are copyright-free and anyone can copy or download the videos for free as long as they use it to promote the Millennium Development Goals. UNFPA Information Officer Dino Subingsubing, also a member of the album's production staff, said that he was surprised and honored by the CMMA citation. "Astig ang MDG album," Subingsubing said. Philippines is a signatory to the UN Millennium Declaration adopted during the Millennium Summit in September 2000, where it committed to pursue the attainment of eight major goals and 18 targets based on 48 indicators, as embodied in the Millennium Declaration. "For A Better Life" performed by Gary Valenciano is the album's answer to the MDG's goal to eradicate extreme povery and hunger. "Bata PaAko" sung by Julie Abueva calls for universal primary education."Babae" with Lea Salonga, Kuh Ledesma, Pops Fernandez, Sarah Geronimoand Bayang Barrios promotes gender equality and women empowerment. Sharon sung "Kung Sana'y" to help reduce child mortality. Ai Ai and Apo were in tandem for "Sa Sinapupunan Ko" to help improve maternal health. Kitchie Nadal sung "Kalinga" for the MDG goal to stop HIVAIDS, malaria and other diseases. Spy Band featuring Papa Dom sang"Tuloy Tuloy" for environmental sustainability."Alam mo ba ang nadarama ng isang iniiwasan/ Alam mo ba ang naiisip ngisang may sakit/ Mahirap isipin ang mga bagay/ Na di mo kinalalagyan,na di mo nararanasan (Do you know how it feels to be avoided. Do you know what's in the mind of an afflicted. It's hard to think of situations where you weren't been or haven't felt," sang Nadal in"Kalinga". Russel Solitario, Program Manager of the Philippine NGO Council for Population, Health and Welfare said that four (4) of the eight (8) MDGs are directly related to reproductive health, which is anathema to some Catholic groups."To improve maternal health and reduce maternal mortality by ¾ means increase access to RH services including the provision of safe modern methods of family planning gradually from 80 percent in 2010 to 100percent in 2015," Solitario said. To combat the spread of HIV and AIDS, practice ABC -Abstinence, Being faithful and consistent and correct use of Condoms.

Article written by: FRANK CIMATU, PDI-Northern Luzon

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Media Partners, read on:

Print, electronic and visual journalists who have effectively covered
a major global health issue in the past year can apply for the
Excellence in Media Award for Global Health. Application deadline:
February 1.

The Global Health Council will present the award to the most
distinguished and effective entry on May 31 during its annual
international conference. An independent panel of journalists will
consider all nominations, which can be made in writing or

Independent journalists or media organizations are encouraged to
submit stories of high quality and accuracy that have reached wide
audiences and influenced public behavior. Eligible works should have
been published or aired between February 28, 2006, and February 1,

For more information or to apply, contact

or visit

Information shared by: Frank Cimatu, PDI-Northern Luzon

Monday, November 13, 2006

Snapshots from the Spitfire Training and National Plenary of Spitfire Trainees...

Excuse for another Cross-Post Guys…

Last October 4 and 5, 2006, PNGOC conducted an echo workshop of the Spitfire Strategies SmartChart Approach for NGOs at the Traders Hotel, Roxas Blvd., Manila. Subsequently, a National Plenary of the Spitfire Strategies was held at the Crowne Regency Suites Mactan at Maximo Patalinghug Jr. Avenue. Lapu Lapu City, Cebu last October 24-26, 2006 by the Health Action Information Network (HAIN), and PNGOC was among those invited to participate therein. Aside from learning from the experiences of other participants in the use of the Smart Chart approach in advancing their respective program goals, additional skills and workshops on strategic communications were also conducted. A poster presentation/exhibit in relation to the participating organization’s advocacy was likewise held.

Our Booth during the National Plenary of Spitfire Trainees by HAIN held at Cebu City...

During the workshop, the Smart Chart Participants were divided into groups to create a brochure, a newsletter and an info sheet... needless to say, I belonged to the group tasked to come up with a newsletter... and so the birth of "THE SMARTEES"...

VG of PLCPD, Russel and Luis of POPCOM-PMO...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Spitfire Training Pictures

Spitfire Training

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Defending Our Faith

Advocacy for RH and Catholicism are not mutually exclusive.
Read on...

For this priest, sex ‘a good thing,’ Church made it ‘bad’
By Vincent Cabreza

Inquirer, Last updated 07:04am (Mla time) 10/25/2006

Published on page A4 of the October 23, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

BAGUIO CITY -- There are a handful of Catholic priests in the Philippines who will tell you sex is a "good thing." A few will even admit it's the Church's fault for making sex "a bad thing."

Teachers and pastors here met one of these outspoken priests last week during a training retreat sponsored by the Institute of Women's Studies that was devoted to gender sensitivity. Some of the participants appeared surprised to hear a priest reveal how the Church had propagated sexism in Philippine society.

Fr. Percy Juan Bacani, a moral theologist and superintendent of high schools operated by the Diocese of Baguio, said the Catholic doctrine on "guilt" had very much eroded Filipinos' appreciation for, and even enjoyment of, sex. The Church, he said, is a male-dominated power center where the female plays a far diminutive role. It is this ideological foundation which explains why Filipino women today are less valued than women of an ancient Filipino culture where they were revered. Women who shine in Catholic societies only achieve their ambition by imbibing the male culture, or by sustaining the myth "that the only good women are virgins," Bacani said.

President ‘man-like’

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, he said, is more “man-like” in her shrewdness at politics. More were surprised when the priest suggested that the devoted turn back to the spiritual nature of indigenous Filipino worship in order to unlearn the Christian dogma that has made some religious Filipinos abhor sex. Bacani cautioned his audience that his lessons about religion and sex were based on “my struggles to be a man in the right way.”

It is an ongoing struggle, he later told the Inquirer.

Click here to read more:

Friday, November 03, 2006

RP Exceeds Target: 2.4 Million Filipinos Stood Up Against Poverty

Lets Stand Up Against Poverty!

Oct.18, Manila--- In a feisty show of unity and strength, 2,411,121 Filipinos from Baguio in Northern Luzon to Sulu and Tawi-Tawi in Southern Mindanao joined the Tumayo Tayo Pilipinas Campaign (Stand Up Against Poverty) in numerous events held by the UN System in the Philippines and its partners from the government, non-government organizations, private sector, academe and media on the eve of Oct. 15 up until the eve of Oct. 16.

The UN in the Philippines and its partners had initially aimed to have at least 1 million Filipinos joining the campaign. Instead, they breezed past their target by 100% at the close of counting on Oct. 16. Even after the official receipt of reports from across the country had ended, numerous organizations still continued to send in their attendance reports, signifying huge support from various stakeholders from all walks of life.

Stand Up Against Poverty, the rallying event of the United Nations’ Millennium Campaign to raise awareness on the Millennium Development Goals, now holds the official record title in the Guinness World Record for having the most number of people to “Stand Up Against Poverty” in 24 hours on 15-16 October with a total of 23,542,614 people from 87 countries who participated in 11,646 events around the globe.

The bulk of the numbers came from Asia and the Pacific, with an aggregate total of 18 million who rallied behind the MDG awareness campaign. In Asia and Pacific, India topped the race for the number of people at 9,731,983. Nepal came in second with 3,131,584 while the Philippines was third at 2,411,121. Other countries in Asia Pacific which participated included Bali, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Nepal, Republic of Maldives, Pakistan, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam and others.

Topping the list for the top 10 organizations which had the most number of participants in the country was DepEd, Region 3-Central Luzon, with 1,772,202 participants, followed by Dep Ed Region 3-Bulacan, 358,300; DepEd Region 9-Davao, 220,568; DepEd Nueva Ecija, 190,470; DepEd Region 10-Davao Oriental, 83,191; Philippine UN White Helmets Commission and Association, 80,560; DepEd-Nueva Ecija (2nd report) with 43,717; DepEd Region -Dagupan with 29,313; DepEd Zambales with 25,582 and DepEd-Gapan City, 22,377.

The official counting in the Philippines was validated and officiated by representatives from the Sycip, Gorres, Velayo & Co. accounting firm, a UN partner for the Philippine campaign dubbed Tumayo Tayo Pilipinas. Details and photos of the campaign may be downloaded at

The Tumayo Tayo Pilipinas campaign aimed to raise awareness on the state of poverty in the country in the context of meeting the MDGs by 2015. The campaign also celebrated the significant local gains made for the achievement of the MDGs and called on duty-bearers to hurdle the complex challenges facing the country ahead.

In September 2000, 191 UN-member countries, rich and poor alike, reaffirmed their commitment to peace and security, good governance and attention to the most vulnerable with the adoption of the Millennium Declaration. Containing commitments to achieve the eight MDGs, the declaration reflects the vision of entire nations, working together with international and country-based organizations to wipe out poverty and the worst forms of human deprivation and lay the foundations for sustainable human development by 2015.

Tumayo Tayo Pilipinas featured a lead flag-raising ceremony integrating the Tumayo Tayo pledge, read in Filipino by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. It was organized by government officials led by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, National Anti-Poverty Commission, Office of the PA on Culture, Department of Education, Department of Social Welfare and Development and the League of Municipalities, among others. Similar Tumayo Tayo moments were integrated in flag-raising ceremonies held at the Senate, Congress and Supreme Court, demonstrating the full participation of the legislative, executive and judiciary branches of government.

On center stage was the MDG Festival held in Marikina City, an MDG resource city. An MDG Rock Concert was held on Oct. 15 at Freedom Park in Marikina, followed by the Marikina City flag-raising Tumayo Tayo moment, partners exhibitions, social artistry programme showcase, the launch of the UN’s World Investment Report 2006, a Konsyertong Bayan Laban sa Kahirapan and the UNDP’s Galing Pook Special Citation on Local Capacity Innovations for the MDGs.

The UN’s various partners for the campaign staged their own events. In Baguio City, the Philippine Non-Government Organization Council had comedians, clowns and artists painting sad faces to get people to sign a petition condemning widespread poverty.

In Quezon City, the Global Call for Action Against Poverty, another UN partner for the campaign, formed a human chain, signifying unity against poverty. Other events were also held in Los Banos, Laguna, Pampanga, Eastern Samar, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi and various parts of the country.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

MDGs BY 2015

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are eight (8) goals to be achieved by 2015 that respond to the world's main development challenges. The MDGs are drawn from the actions and targets contained in the Millennium Declaration that was adopted by 189 nations-and signed by 147 heads of state and governments (including the Philippines) during the UN Millennium Summit in September 2000.

The 8 MDGs break down into 18 quantifiable targets that are measured by 48 indicators. Click here for a full list of Goals, Targets and Indicators

Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education
Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
Goal 4: Reduce child mortality
Goal 5: Improve maternal health
Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development

The fight against poverty does not end after the succesful STAND UP event in various parts of the country and of the world. It was in fact a renewal of the commitment of different nations. From there, the momentum gained in raising the awareness of the people on the MDGs must be channeled to concrete efforts designed to alleviate the conditions of the poor and marginalized sectors of our society. Though several programs and interventions exist in pursuit of these goals, it is crucial that these initiatives be sustained by the government both in the national and local level. As such, the 2007 Local Elections is critical. It bears stressing that the public officials who will be voted into office must be politicians who are working and will continue to work towards the attainment of the MDGs for a better Philippines. That being said, our task is to intensify our advocacy campaign so the people and the politicians will work together towards development.

By telling them that development is about mothers not dying when they give birth, about children surviving their first few years, about getting every child into primary school, making sure that people have access to clean water where they live, then we will have concrete ways of framing the objectives for development.

As UN-Secretary General Kofi Annan said, "It is not in the United Nations that the Millennium Development Goals will be achieved. They have to be achieved in each country by the joint efforts of the Governments and the people ."



The devastating effect of poverty on women (in general):

  • If a girl is educated for six years or more, as an adult, her prenatal care, postnatal care and childbirth survival rates will dramatically and consistently improve.
  • Educated mothers immunize their children 50 percent more often than mothers who are not educated.
  • AIDS spreads twice as quickly among uneducated girls than among girls that have even some schooling.
  • The children of a woman with five years of primary school education have a survival rate 40 percent higher than children of women with no education.
  • A woman living in sub-Saharan Africa has a 1 in 16 chance of dying in pregnancy. This compares with a 1 in 3,700 risk for a woman from North America.
  • Every minute, a woman somewhere dies in pregnancy or childbirth. This adds up to 1,400 women dying each day-an estimated 529,000 each year-from pregnancy-related causes.
  • Almost half of births in developing countries take place without the help of a skilled birth attendant.

More than one billion people—one-sixth of the world’s population—live in extreme poverty, lacking the safewater, proper nutrition, basic health care and social services needed to survive. This means a single episode of disease, an ill-timed pregnancy, a drought or a crop-destroying pest can be the difference between life and death. In many of the poorest countries, life expectancy is half of that in the high-income world—40 years instead of 80 years.

The consequences of this poverty reach far beyond the afflicted societies. Poverty, inequality and disease are chief causes of violent conflict, civil war and state failures. A world with extreme poverty is a world of insecurity.