Kayumanggi and Proud: Life as a Filipino Gay Immigrant in Denmark

Alvin Tuling, 37, has always been reserved and shy. He admits he is not openly gay as some of his friends are. He wears typical men clothes and tries to “act like a heterosexual man.” “I do not like drawing attention to myself,” he says. Alvin comes from the Philippines, a country populated mostly by Catholics….

Duterte’s Balancing Act of Two Superpowers: US and China

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is treading a dangerous path trying to balance two superpowers in his hands: China and the United States. In a recent turn of events, Duterte has decided to retain the military alliance between the US and the Philippines after rashly announcing a “separation from the US” on independent foreign policy during…

Horror Story in Denmark: ‘I think I just experienced racism’

Oct. 27, 2016 Dear Airbnb: A few weeks ago, I just experienced the worst Airbnb stay in my life. In just a span of three days and two nights, I have been humiliated, discriminated and talked down upon as a Filipino. I think I might have experienced racism too. Here’s my story. On October 7,…

The First Bottle School in Asia

The little town of Rizal, Laguna often meets criticism by its neighboring towns. A fifth class municipality, it does not boast of huge economic gains or tax revenues. No big malls, cinema, or loud bars. To some, it is known as the dirt-poor municipality of Laguna. But the mayor does not mind. After all, Rizal…

Agriculture: What Do the Presidentiables Have to Say?

If you ate today, thank a farmer. Food is crucial for survival, and yet, the agriculture sector remains the second poorest sector in the Philippines, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority. We are dubbed as an agricultural country, blessed with water teeming with fish, thick forest for vegetation, and hectares of land that extend from…

Who Run the Farm? Girls!

In the hottest place in the north of the Philippines, farms are drying up and animals are dying. Men are getting old, or sick, or too weak to till the land. Their able children, in the meantime, have no interest in farming, and instead want a better chance at life outside the province. But life…

Less Is More: The True Value of Vote-Poor Places Like Batanes

In a faraway province in the northernmost parts of the Philippines, Ryan Cardona is excited for the month of May. The clear blue skies, pristine waters of the Pacific, and the warm winds from the ocean during this month are all good signs for his business. Ryan works as a tourism officer in Batanes, ushering…

The Treasures of Turkey

Days ago, a suicide bomb blast killed 10 people at the heart of Istanbul. The attack targeted Sultahnamet Square, an old district flocked by thousands of tourists everyday. It was the latest in a series of bombings that rocked Turkey in recent months. I stayed in Turkey for 15 days last October to attend the United Nations Convention…

The Unseen War of the Lumads Against Climate Change

Our indigenous people are waging wars on numerous fronts. It’s bad enough that many of the Lumads of Mindanao are fighting for the right to live, but some are also fighting an enemy that is both faceless and relentless: climate change. Take the Lumads of San Francisco, Agusan del Sur, for example. Dry spells in…

Lumads of Davao del Sur: Students without a School

“Tak tak tak.” It’s the sound of a bolo hitting the chopping block, reducing rotten and rejected bananas from the plantation into small, circular pieces. The chopping would go on all afternoon until the sun turned golden and the shadows of the banana trees envelop the little town of Hagonoy, Davao del Sur. Three boys would…

Post-Yolanda, What Have We Built Back?

Nestor pointed at a 15-foot coconut tree standing by the sea shore. Its leaves have fallen off and the trunk shows chipping and cuts from children trying to reach for a fruit. “Mas mataas pa dyan ‘yung alon” (The waves are higher than that tree), he recalled. The tree reminded him of November 8, 2013…

The Batanes Survival Guide: 13 Places You Must Visit

Just a decade ago, Batanes is just a small, unpopular island at the northernmost tip of the Philippines. Some would remember Batanes from the elementary textbooks as a place frequently hit by typhoons. Some would associate it with Ivatans, the indigenous tribe from the north who built the vernacular stonehouses. Either way, just a few…