Stories written by Diana Mendoza

Interview: “‘We’re Not Independent Enough,” says ASEAN Rights Commission Chair

(IPS Asia-Pacific) – Although it is six years old, few know what the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) does. It has been called toothless, though its creation was seen as a step forward given the principle of non-interference in the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Curbing Tobacco Use – One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

The numbers are in, and there’s not much to celebrate: every year, about six million people die as a result of tobacco use, including 600,000 who succumb to the effects of second-hand smoke.

Women in the Philippines at the Forefront of the Health Food Movement

When Tinay Alterado’s team from ARUGAAN, an organisation of women healthcare advocates, visited Eastern Visayas, a region of the Philippines devastated by Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013, they noticed that the relief and rescue sites were flooded with donated milk formula, which nursing mothers were feeding to their babies in vast quantities.

Canada’s Waste Still Rotting in a Philippine Port

Filipino Catholic priest and activist Reverend Father Robert Reyes, dubbed by media as the “running priest”, joined a protest of environmental and public health activists last week by running along the streets of the Makati Business District, the Philippines’ financial capital, to urge the government to immediately re-export the 50 Canadian containers filled with hazardous wastes that have been in the Port of Manila for 600 days now.

CORRECTION/Filipino Children Make Gains on Paper, But Reality Lags Behind

Mae Baez sees some of the darkest sides of communications technology.

Filipino Farmers Protest Government Research on Genetically Modified Rice

Jon Sarmiento, a farmer in the Cavite province in southern Manila, plants a variety of fruits and vegetables, but his main crop, rice, is under threat. He claims that approval by the Philippine government of the genetically modified ‘golden rice’ that is fortified with beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A, could ruin his livelihood.

Filipinos Take to the Streets One Year After Typhoon Haiyan

People covered their bodies with mud to protest against government ineptitude and abandonment; others lighted paper lanterns and candles and released white doves and balloons to remember the dead, offer thanks and pray for more strength to move on; while many trooped to a vast grave site with white crosses to lay flowers for those who died, and to cry one more time.

AIDS Conference Mourns the Dead, Debates Setbacks

The 20th International AIDS Conference concluded today as the first in its history that remembered not just the 39 million people worldwide who have died of AIDS but also those who lost their lives in the crashed MH17 flight carrying six of its delegates, one of whom was the past president of the International AIDS Society (IAS).

PHILIPPINES: Call Centre Boom Breeds New Culture – and Risky Behaviour

Anthony, a 22-year-old call centre agent, goes to work at 6 p.m. and finishes at around 2 a.m. But instead of going home, he heads to a bar to meet another male agent over beer, and if the late night looks promising, they spend more time together until daytime.

POLITICS-PHILIPPINES: Rice and Condom on the Election Agenda

Rice and condoms do not usually land on the same list of household basics in the predominantly Catholic Philippines, but extremely poor couples here with huge families would choose rice if given the two options.

DEVELOPMENT-ASIA: ‘Poverty Still Has a Woman’s Face’

Women and poverty still share an uncomfortable spot on the development matrix of countries across Asia-Pacific that are struggling to end deprivation, according to the newly launched third joint report of the United Nations and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Q&A: ‘Small Government Equals More Personal Responsibility’

As president of an independent think tank advocating minimal government, Bienvenido Oplas, Jr. believes that a society will be more peaceful and dynamic if people will assume more individual and voluntary responsibilities over their lives, their families and their communities.