Family of father killed by unidentified gunmen waits beside his body for the arrival of police SOCO in Batasan Hills, Quezon City, August 24 (Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

Manila Night Prowl #3: Dead dad, no motive

By Anjo Bagaoisan

A woman cries upon seeing her father shot by unidentified gunmen in Batasan Hills, Quezon City, August 24 (Shot by Melchor Platero, ABS-CBN News)

(Shot by Melchor Platero, ABS-CBN News)

Arnaldo Dela Cruz’s eldest daughter cursed and shrieked when she looked at the dead man lying on the road to her house and recognized him as her father.

She was on her way home at 4 a.m. and passed through the line of twine used to mark out the crime scene. With bystanders and media men watching, she wondered aloud who the body beside a fallen motorcycle was.

When she saw the face, she exclaimed: “P*******, si Tatay!”

Shaking and crying, she walked back, this time around the twine on her way to the other side. The rest of her family was already there. They already knew.

She appealed to the police officers: “Ba’t ayaw niyo itakbo sa ospital, kuya? (Why don’t you bring him to the hospital?)

No one replied.

Gloria Dela Cruz talks to her crying daughter outside police line where Gloria's husband lay shot by unidentified gunmen in Batasan Hills, Quezon City, August 24 (Shot by Melchor Platero, ABS-CBN News)

(Shot by Melchor Platero, ABS-CBN News)

Gloria, her mother, met her with an opened umbrella. It had begun to drizzle. Even she could not calm her.

The daughter told Gloria: “Ma-re-revive pa yan! Kaysa hayaan niyong nakahiga diyan! (He could be revived instead of letting him lie there)”

“Sino’ng bumaril diyan (Who killed him)?” she said after squatting on a garage ramp.

No one knew the answer.

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A rainy week of ‘diverts’

By Andrew Jonathan S. Bagaoisan

Rosario, Cavite - ABS-CBN's ENG 2 wades through the floods (Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

Rosario, Cavite – ABS-CBN’s ENG 2 wades through the floods (Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

The requirements start early in the morning and end near midnight. Two to three hours of sleep—in a bed if you’re lucky—and it’s back to the setup for another cycle of live shots upon live shots. All the while you’re stuck in the middle of rising and pouring water. There is little leeway to move around and take a break. And every so often, a call comes instructing you and your team to move to another location.

There is hardly time to digest the extent of the calamities in each stop. All you can do is take the requirements as they come, knowing that airing them can pave the way for responses and solutions.

The week was supposed to begin with follow-ups to two big news coverages. First was the pork barrel funds scandal and the yet-unfruitful hunt for its suspected culprit, Janet Lim-Napoles. The second was miles south in Cebu, where rescue teams scoured for passengers cast to sea by a collision of ships.

An unrelenting torrent of rains the weekend before that changed the tone of the entire week.

Las Piñas City - The stretch of the Alabang-Zapote road leading to Coastal is waist-deep in habagat floods. Cars are submerged. (Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

Las Piñas City – The stretch of the Alabang-Zapote road leading to Coastal waist-deep in floods. Cars were left stranded. (Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

Our news field operations team had been keeping vigil at the offices of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) the week before in case Napoles & Co. were caught. In Cebu, a satellite team prepared to air TV Patrol’s live reports of the sea tragedy with anchor Noli De Castro and newsgathering crews from ABS-CBN Manila and Cebu.

That and a few live features for morning show Umagang Kayganda (UKG) made up our initial location assignments for Monday, August 19.

But as the day progressed, waters rose throughout Metro Manila and the surrounding provinces. Classes were already suspended the night before. Residents in the worst-hit scrambled to the roofs of their homes. Others trickled to evacuation centers. Cars were stranded in submerged expressways.

EDSA -- Francis Faulve and crew drive through the floods (Shot c/o Francis Faulve)

EDSA — Francis Faulve and crew drive through the floods (Shot c/o Francis Faulve)

Typhoon Maring lounged way up north but was too far to directly cause havoc. It became clear that the growing story was the comeback of the southwest monsoon that inundated Luzon last year. Now, Maring had made Habagat stronger.

ENG vans on standby at the DOJ and NBI were moved to flooded spots in Laguna and Bataan. A team that aired a feature for UKG in Quezon City was supposed to transfer to the Maritime Industry Authority office for updates on the Cebu collision. Instead it proceeded southward to Kawit, Cavite, where the strong currents already reached chests.

Kawit, Cavite - Chest deep floods passable by boat (Shot by William Natividad, ABS-CBN News)

Kawit, Cavite – Chest deep floods passable by boat as seen in Atom Araullo’s TVP report. Click to watch. (Shot by William Natividad, ABS-CBN News)

A team from TV Patrol’s production staff followed there. Already less some of its staff due to Noli De Castro’s anchoring duties in Cebu, TV Patrol dispatched another team bringing audio, lights, and a teleprompter. From Cavite, Korina Sanchez would lead-in the newscast’s live and taped reports on the Habagat.

The floods slowly receded that Monday night, but the rains repeatedly turned on and off. By then, the news desk in Quezon City decided to fix the deployed teams for the night in their locations. Hardly any of the crews would be relieved.

They were advised to look for lodging. Some however, like those in Dinalupihan, Bataan, could find none that was open. Getting food was another thing—many ended up eating takeout.

Kawit, Cavite - A makeshift  breakfast area for the ENG team amid the floods. The meal--rice and sardines. (Shot c/o Chito Concepcion)

Kawit, Cavite – A makeshift breakfast area for the ENG team amid the floods. The meal: rice and sardines, all donated. (Shot c/o Chito Concepcion)

At 3 a.m. Tuesday, our team staying at a hotel in Biñan, Laguna was told to move to Noveleta, Cavite. The flooded town could finally be reached by vehicles, and the news crew that got there first found strewn garbage and mud all over.

‘Diverts’, as we called them, were the order of the next few days. One team started the day with a live feature in the FPJ Studios for Fernando Poe Jr.’s birthday. By lunchtime they were airing shots of a flooded Araneta Avenue. But for TV Patrol, they moved to the Marikina River banks for Niña Corpuz’s live report on the river level.

Noveleta, Cavite--An SUV parked by the subsided floods. Garbage surrounds it. (Shot by Filemon Rocamora)

Noveleta, Cavite–An SUV parked by the subsided floods. Garbage surrounds it. (Shot by Filemon Rocamora)

The Noveleta team found themselves rushing back to San Pedro, Laguna to air President Benigno Aquino III’s quick visit to an evacuation center there. The next day, they returned to Cavite for another P-Noy stop.

TV Patrol continued its remote anchoring. Korina Sanchez and team next visited Bataan. And after two more days in Cebu, Noli De Castro waded the floods of Pampanga and Bulacan.

Malolos, Bulacan--Noli De Castro anchors TV Patrol from MacArthur Highway. Click to watch his report. (Shot c/o Bert Apostol)

Malolos, Bulacan–Noli De Castro anchors TV Patrol from MacArthur Highway. Click to watch his report. (Shot c/o Bert Apostol)

The key to a live anchoring or reporter standup in the floods is finding a dry, elevated spot for the ENG van or satellite truck safely nearby. Once the crucial electronics are secured, the camera and the anchor can approach the water.

As the week drew to a close, the videos of destruction gradually gave way to residents huddling in evacuation centers and others trying to return home. A cameraman transmitting by broadband was sent to Manila to cover the siphoning of water from the submerged Lagusnilad underpass.

Sto. Tomas, Pampanga-- Karen Davila and ABS-CBN Pampanga's Jayvie Dizon report live. (Shot by Irish Vidal)

Sto. Tomas, Pampanga– Karen Davila and ABS-CBN Pampanga’s Jayvie Dizon report live. Click to watch the video. (Shot by Irish Vidal)

The stories moved on to aid and the lighter side Filipinos mustered up amidst the calamity. An ENG van was diverted to Sagip Kapamilya’s warehouse in Examiner Street in Quezon City to cover the influx and packing of relief goods.

One by one, the ENG teams were allowed to return to base. It was a relief for one team that had been braving winds in Aurora Province from an earlier typhoon since August 12.

By Saturday, only one remained—the team in Bulacan which was put on standby in Malolos for the weekend, in case the approaching Low Pressure Area turned rogue.

At least, at last, sunshine took the place of rain.

Marikina--Sagip Kapamilya's relief operations in H. Bautista Elementary School (Shot c/o Irish Vidal)

Balagtas, Bulacan - Evacuees on their fifth day unable to return home. (Shot by Gani Taoatao)Top: Marikina–Sagip Kapamilya’s relief operations in H. Bautista Elementary School (Shot c/o Irish Vidal); Bottom: Balagtas, Bulacan – Evacuees on their fifth day unable to return home. Click to watch Jorge Carino’s TVP story. (Shot by Gani Taoatao)

Shades of Halalan in UP Diliman

By Andrew Jonathan S. Bagaoisan

A student looks at the slate posters of UP Diliman's STAND-UP, ALYANSA, and KAISA 2013 USC bets (Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

A student looks at the slate posters of UP Diliman’s STAND-UP, ALYANSA, and KAISA 2013 USC bets (Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

When a Philippine news website released the results of the University Student Council (USC) elections in the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman, readers questioned the choice of coverage. The update came out under its “Nation” section. Was it relevant to non-members of the UP community?

While this article is not an endorsement or defense of the site’s editorial judgment, a glance at this particular student activity may offer some points in light of the coming midterm elections.

As an open campus, UP Diliman is exposed to events and issues in the so-called real world. More so, the dynamics of the students, teachers, and the community in and around UP make up an academic mirror to issues facing the country.

And perhaps the yearly elections for UP Diliman’s USC reminds us of the Philippines in many ways.

The USC polls and the three-week-long campaign before them are a mix of the traditional and the ideal. There are elements familiar to national politics and others yet to be seen on a bigger scale, both good and bad.

Up for grabs are 33 university-wide positions and 250-plus posts in each college council.

This battle for voters, albeit among more than 23,000 students, can rival a KampanyaSerye-style local race in intensity–fortunately minus the violence known to some hotspots.

The issues can get hot and the exchange of diatribes even hotter. They range from matters affecting college students to matters relevant to the national, an involvement inseparable from the Iskolar ng Bayan. Even non-students in UP say they have a stake in the polls.

The results may have no direct bearing on the national scale, but the leaders these students elect and the stances they take will help determine the direction of the student movement led by many from this campus.

Party lines

This 2013, UP students mark 100 years since electing their first student council. To some, this year’s polls continue to test if students will keep to or depart from the brand of student leadership and national participation represented by their outgoing leaders.

UP Diliman’s polls last February 28 resulted in a council led by KAISA, the youngest of the three university-wide political alliances/parties. In a first, KAISA won top posts chairperson, vice chairperson, and number one councilor.

After students gradually voted in fewer candidates from previously dominant parties STAND-UP and ALYANSA since 2006, the incoming 2013 USC faces the challenge of agreeing on a direction to lead the campus in.

In predominantly Left-leaning UP politics, the parties all tag themselves as activists. Nevertheless, their stands on issues like tuition increase, state subsidy for education, or even the latest public scandal can vary.

This Left spectrum is color-coded too: red STAND-UP is the extreme of the left, blue ALYANSA is on the opposite end, and yellow KAISA often stands in between.

Supporters of the 3 parties react as their bets win (and don't win) in the 2013 USC elections. (Shots by Anjo Bagaoisan)

Supporters of the 3 parties react as their bets win (and don’t win) in the 2013 USC elections. (Shots by Anjo Bagaoisan)

This dedication to ideologies differs this brand of politics from nominal student body exercises. It is a big deal here for parties to be involved or have a say in campus and national issues throughout the school year and not just when elections are nearby. Do otherwise and you’ll be called out for it at the campaign.

Compare this to Philippine party politics, where the tying bonds of parties are their founders or leaders and their relationships to the administration. Party names and colors are worn and shed like clothes nearly every three years. And no issue, since national party ideologies revolve around very similar motherhood goals.

Jumping parties in UP Diliman is taboo and even rare. And while some personalities have risen in fame from the party lines through the years, they have come and gone. Still left are the parties that train and attract a new generation of leaders and voters.

Yet political parties in UPD share some similarities with their national counterparts. Their histories involve splits and break-ups–although in UP’s case, they arose largely out of differences in ideology. STAND-UP, ALYANSA, and KAISA could all be traced to past dominant party SAMASA.

The parties also have bailiwicks among the colleges and courses, making the voting behavior of UP Diliman students an observable trend, akin to the red and blue states in the US.

Personalities vs issues

Nevertheless, USC elections every year cannot avoid classic elements associated with national campaigns.

Unlike its national counterpart, UP’s election code sets no limits or monitors on campaign spending, much less guidelines on the sizes and locations of posted campaign material.

Thus by February, the campus becomes littered with flyers, posters, and stickers as parties and candidates engage in a race for recall. The flyers are filled with programs, statements, endorsements, or attacks. The posters and stickers—stuck from jeepneys to waiting sheds—are emblazoned with the names and pictures of those running.

For the parties, a vote for their ideology should mean a vote for their entire slate, no matter if the candidates are veterans or not. But straight voting has hardly been the cumulative case in UP Diliman, at least since youngest party KAISA came into the scene in 2005.

The elections are in large part popularity contests judging from past results, as students still consider their personal knowledge of candidates when casting their ballots.

With such a scheme, parties still devote their energies into drumming up their running personalities. It’s seen in the wearing and repetition of nicknames during room-to-room campaigns and in the rhyming slogans worthy of a commercial.

"Kahit Butas ng Karayom Papasukin Ko" The 2013 candidates for USC Chairperson in a poster for a "teleserye-inspired" debate put up by the campus publications. (Courtesy Solidaridad / The Philippine Collegian)

The 2013 candidates for USC Chairperson in a poster for a “teleserye-inspired” debate put up by the campus publications. (Courtesy Solidaridad / The Philippine Collegian)

The reality of personality politics often centers on the battle for USC chairperson. The most-promoted names in the lineups, the chairperson candidates are the main faces of their parties during the campaign period. That’s not to mention the clout any party would have over the council when their candidate wins.

Their clashes are focal points in the election, especially when well-known students face off for the top post. In 2000, Raymond Palatino of STAND-UP (now Kabataan partylist representative) beat now-broadcaster Mariz Umali of SAMASA, ensuring STAND-UP’s dominant presence in local politics.

The chairperson race is also where black propaganda can overshadow the more-pertinent issues permeating the campaign.

In 2013, the candidate who bore the worst brunt was KAISA standardbearer Ana Alexandra “Alex” Castro. She eventually won the election by more than 1,500 votes over both her opponents, but not without being charged with flip-flopping stances and called derogatory names during the campaign.

Independent candidates for the USC are few and rare. And not always do UP students vote them into the council. Eventual winners often presented a stand-out campaign focus—like Kester Yu, who won top councilor in 2009 with an environmental platform. This year, no independent candidate ran for the university-wide posts.


This year’s polls did not merit the media attention they got in 2012, when the USC’s first transgender chairperson Gabriel Paolo “Heart” Diño won in a comeback victory for ALYANSA. The news stories then focused on Diño’s win as an achievement for gender rights in the country.

Hardly noticed too was the effort behind one of the country’s largest campus election automated counts. On its fifth year of large-scale use, UP Diliman’s “Halalan” open-sourced system consolidated votes cast via computer terminals in colleges spaced kilometers apart. All a student needs is his/her student number and a pre-generated password.

The UP Linux Users Group or UnPLUG developed the system. They started out automating the votes in UP dormitories back in 2005, then in selected college council votes afterward. Only after winning an IBM server in an international contest did UnPLUG have the means for a university-wide count in 2009.

A student prepares to list down the 2013 USC winners at Vinzons Hall. (Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

A student prepares to list down the 2013 USC winners at Vinzons Hall. (Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

The automation turned what was a vigil till early morning at the Vinzons student center into as early as 30 minutes. Recently, the wait has gone back to two hours at most to account for manual votes, colleges that finished late, and preparation by the University Student Electoral Board for its proclamation of the results.

Like its national counterpart, UP’s automation has its share of delays and glitches nonetheless. Last February 28, 58 of the 11,245 votes cast (5.15 percent) were still manual due to difficulties for some students in casting their votes. Even so, no fears of manipulation or major malfunction have yet to materialize.

The proclamation at the Vinzons lobby is as festive and as noisy as the national. Supporters of the three parties come in color and in force to cheer up or cheer down winners. Election day is also the center of attention for a number of student publications, including the campus radio station dzUP.

But despite a reputation for awareness and involvement, it is still a challenge to get most UP Diliman students to vote. University-wide turnout has hardly breached half the student population in recent years. This year it was only 48.4 percent.

Some students say they are “tired” of the politicking and the mudslinging, others of the extreme focus on the national compared to the local. While they have a say on issues outside campus, these students also ask what their council can do for them as fellow students–one parallel with the national psyche. And it is something the parties have taken to balancing between.

First-year students at UP Diliman are told they are entering a microcosm of society. The tuition increase of 2006 helped dispel that notion, as financial means now determines in part who enrolls in the so-called “national university”.

All the same, the USC elections show that the future leaders and voters are a parallel of their countrymen, both in how this political exercise is and could be done.

New nursing schools open despite ban


Note: This two‐part report was the output of my thesis with Mark Angelo Ching, which was supervised by Prof. Yvonne Chua and edited by Prof. Chit Estella. We chose to investigate the state of our nursing schools partly due to our concern with the increasing number of jobless nurses. We also saw that the media has not looked deeper into this issue since the 2006 exam leakage controversy. For our research, I took care of interviewing most sources and researching the Congress archives, while Mark compiled and analyzed nursing board exam performances of schools. Our work on this thesis familiarized us with the dealings of the Commission on Higher Education and the problems that still need to be addressed in nursing education. Vera Files (Part 1 & 2), The Manila Times, (Part 1 & 2), and The Philippine Graphic magazine released the report.

First of two parts

(First published Monday, 15 June 2009)

NURSING schools all over the country will be opening their doors this week to thousands of students with the great white cap dream—getting a nursing degree, working in a hospital abroad and earning a comfortable living.

But not all these schools are qualified to offer the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. In fact, some of them were supposed to have been shut down years ago for failing to meet the requirements of the Commission on Higher Education, while some new ones were not supposed to have opened at all.

The fact is, many students are spending their parents’ hard-earned money on substandard nursing education because CHED has been unable to weed out the poorly performing nursing schools.

In 2004, CHED declared a moratorium on the opening of more nursing schools after professional nurses complained that nursing schools were sprouting like mushrooms, even as more students were failing the nursing licensure exams. The problem reached tipping point in 2006 when news of a leakage in the exams made headlines.

But political and business pressures exerted on CHED have been preventing it from effectively regulating nursing schools and closing down those that perform badly.

CHED records show that from 2004 to 2007, more than 120 schools began offering nursing courses compared to only 98 new schools in the same time span before the moratorium. A total of 459 nursing schools operate in the country today.

Number of Philippine nursing schools from 1998 to 2007 (Source: Commission on Higher Education)

Number of nursing schools in the Philippines, 1998 – 2007 (Source: Commission on Higher Education)

CHED officials revealed that the commission even allowed more schools to open by continually processing pending applications. As recent as August 2008, CHED exempted certain schools from the moratorium through a verbal agreement among the commissioners. This agreement was not made public by CHED. Even now, a number of schools are reportedly applying to open, one of them with up to 17 new campuses.

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The thing with gore and grief

I remember the first time I saw a dead body during coverage.

An early-morning police chase with suspected carjackers had ended in a fatal gunfight. We reached a bullet-riddled car and two bloody corpses sprawled on a back road.

Probably preoccupied with editing the video in time to air, I do not recall wanting to throw up. Maybe I wasn’t affected.

Invariably, media people count among doctors, nurses, and law enforcers.

We tread long or unholy hours, go to work when everyone’s home for a holiday, and every so often stare death and tragedy in the face. We become reluctant bearers of bad news yet need to keep emotionally detached while at it.

The adrenaline and quick succession of coverages might lessen the nausea. But how do you deal with people affected closest by crashes or murders without being jolted by their grim reality?

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On the tube: Fury of the elements

Overwhelming on the ground and breathtaking from the sky.

Expect that view when nature comes blazing, crashing, and flooding. And expect it captured on television.

After the storm of politicians, the days between President Aquino’s inauguration and his State of the Nation Address lent themselves to a flurry of other tempests.

They piled upon each other, a mix of man-made and natural, involving great doses of water and the disco-sounding trio of earth, wind, and fire.

* * * * *

First it was typhoon Basyang (International name Conson). I was at the PAGASA center the night it hit, listening to worsening predictions of its path.

Teams were deployed to south and central Luzon, the office wary of storms after the wrath of Ondoy and Pepeng. (Read: In the eye of 2 storms)

Yet from the looks of it, the weather bureau was assuring all that the “Lola” would wreak minimal damage to Metro Manila.

And then the lights went out.

Minor in rain, Basyang majored in wind. It felled trees, electric posts, and anything thin and tall. Plus this giant crane at Paranaque that became a metaphor for the day-long toll of power, mobility, and the Filipinos’ capacity to cope.

Niko Baua’s team reached it first early morning and stayed till evening.

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On the tube: A welcome back and a judge who passed the buck

The evening after the UP Oblation Run, our team diverted to nearby Quezon City Hall for TV Patrol duty.

The day could not bring in more surprises. That morning Tita Winnie “welcomed” me back to her “world.” And after a smooth sail directing her segment in an appliance store–all thanks to the crew–we drove to the campus.

UP was at no better time to “welcome” me back. That afternoon, people still had classes, a UP-trademarked event was underway, and I was covering it.

At every turn, I said Hi to familiar faces. I quickly introduced work mates to the barbecues of Beach House–they couldn’t believe the “student” price. And I introduced 3 college buds to my job.

Despite the hordes you see on TV flocking the AS (Palma Hall), not every UP student has actually seen that “great” naked run up front. Our reporter Niña Corpuz, UP Masscom alumna, said it would be her first.

The reasons range from demographics–not exactly good viewing for men; academics–classes and their profs who won’t cut them for the run; and polemics–students who disagree with such expression.

I was there four years as an Isko but never bothered pushing and shoving to see and believe. The Run, in retrospect, gave me a glimpse of what would be my first job.

Rather than runners, I took peeks then at the ABS-CBN van that set up near the AS steps to air a live standup. Little did I know that I would work in one and be assigned to the same event.

Other than Niña’s crew, our cameraman and I gathered footage too, standing by the Alpha Phi Omega tambayan in the AS Walk. The vantage point later gave News Online this photo:

A rest and catch up with friends after, soon we moved to the QC Hall of Justice.

We thought the big news there was a swift decision on the Ampatuan case. Turns out a court had yet to be assigned. When it did, a Judge Cortez reasoned he could not take it.

At least he did weigh his options. Our voiceover captured his choice: “What is glory without family?”

Understandable and somehow, expected. But thinking of the collective frustration with our country’s current affairs, a little disappointing.

Makes you think that heroes, like the naked runner, can’t face the crowd alone.