Escaping Syria: The Journey of Death

“We can call it the journey of death,” 35-year-old Mohammad Alzen said. He has come from Syria to seek asylum in England, and he has plenty of stories to tell. Even with all his hardships, he’s quite fortunate — his other countrymen did not survive to tell their own stories. Alzen was a tailor in a…

A Day in the Life of a Humanitarian

It was a decent looking boat carrying us to Gigantes. I decided to sit at the forefront to enjoy solitude, while everyone else chitchats while sitting on the wooden bench in the middle. This was more than a two-hour ride on the waves of Panay. The first hour was manageable and the scene was rewarding, until…

Chexit: The West Philippine Sea Is Ours but Now What?

China calls it a “farce.” The Philippine government filed the case before an international arbitral tribunal back in January 2013, seeking to quash the validity of China’s historic claims — an imaginary nine-dash line that impedes on our exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and effectively declares most of our seas as theirs. Their reason? Because they…

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…

Paris Agreement: What We Need to Know

With updates from Bam Alegre Finally after weeks of discussion in Paris and decades of international disagreements, representatives from 195 nations have created the Paris Agreement at the United Nations climate change talks in France. This agreement is historic because it is universal — all developed and developing countries will follow its rules and regulations….

#COP21: The Glamorous Paris Talks and the Suffering of Filipinos

This is a story of two very different people, bound by an issue that will bring together 147 world leaders in Paris, France — climate change. Paris, France Former Philippine Climate Change Commissioner Yeb Saño is in Paris now, having spent the last six months on a pilgrimage that started out in Tacloban and across…

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…

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…

How Sendai Recovered from the 2011 Tsunami by George Gamayo

Four years ago, a catastrophic tsunami ravaged Sendai, Japan resulting to thousands of casualties. Before the tragedy, it was a lively fishery port with 7,000 residents. One of whom is Noriko Kikuchi who lived in Yuriage, Natori City, one of the worst hit areas. As we walked through the wrecked community, Noriko unveiled her stories….

Desaparecidos: The Effects of Their Mysterious Abductions

Desaparecidos are people who vanished without a trace and against their will. The term has roots in Latin America to describe a person who has been secretly imprisoned or killed during a government’s program of political suppression. These abductions happen in the Philippines too. The Philippine Constitution guarantees protection against enforced disappearances. Any arrest or detention needs…

Kristel’s Battles

Dear Kristel, I have no right to write about you. Most of us never had a chance to know you. We have no idea what you went through; there is no way we can ever understand why you decided to take your own life. But I remember that day. It was a Friday, March 15th, 2013;…