The Robredo Effect

 

 

I can’t believe August is almost over. So much has happened this month – the storms, the floods and the tragic death of Secretary Jesse Robredo. I have said so much in Twitter and Facebook, but words are never enough to express this great loss for our country. Secretary Robredo was able to achieve so much of what good governance is all about — something seemingly so impossible in 99% of this country. But he did it. He could have done more. I am grieving.

I met Sec Robredo through UNICEF this year. And even before I met him, his reputation preceded him within the international development circles. UNICEF always spoke highly of him and I finally had the honour of meeting him at the launch of the Children in an Urban World event which I hosted. Before he spoke about child-friendly municipalities he told us the important role of parents, specially mentioning his wife Leni, in providing a safe and healthy environment for children. He said his wife could have done a lot in development but focused on raising their three daughters at home. I thought that was so remarkable and it needed to be said.

Even the organization I used to work with in Canada before joining Philippine media in the late 90’s also mourns his death. Here is the statement of the Canadian Urban Institute. He was a supportive partner and ally. Urban planning and international development was my field before switching to Philippine media. In the years I worked as project manager of the CUI, I had never really seen a true success story in good governance. I’m not singling out the Philippines situation here. I worked in Mexico and managed programs in the Baltic states and Vietnam as well. I felt like everything I learned in urban planning just had to remain theoretical outside of Canada. It was frustrating. I quit. But Jesse didn’t.

Now that we’re learning about what Jesse Robredo achieved as Mayor of Naga which led to his winning the Asian Nobel Peace Prize, the Ramon Magsaysay Award, we’ve seen that it can all be done — transparency, no corruption, lower crime rate, a city run like an efficient business, citizens participating as stakeholders, no informal settlers and more. I don’t know when we can see another Robredo doing this in local government again.

But perhaps the deepest reason I am so affected by his death goes beyond the feeling of being orphaned and losing hope in what could have been a great leadership for our country. I am simply so so sad that Aika, Patricia and Jillian lost their most loving, dedicated and good dad. My heart goes out to the Robredo family. My deepest and most sincere condolences to Atty Leni and her daughters.

 

 

UNICEF Report 2012: Children in an Urban World

 

 

Daphne
I had the honour of hosting the launch of UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children 2012 report. This was a global initiative that took place at the same time and same day in other key cities. This year’s report focused on Children in an Urban World. It was a real honour because it had two of the subjects closest to my heart – children and urbanization. Urban planning was my field before I got into television by accident.

 

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In a few years, the report says, the majority of children will grow up in towns or cities rather than in rural areas. Children born in cities already account for 60 per cent of the increase in urban population. The Philippines is an urban society with half the population or 45 million people living in cities. Of Metro Manila’s 11 million people, 1.7 million children live in informal settlements. You may download the full report here.

 

Unicef in Sarangani - Aug 2010
The past two years, my work with UNICEF involved fundraising and advocating maternal health and breastfeeding. It took me to many rural areas – from Rizal, Laguna, Maguindanao and like this photo of a mother nursing her child in Sarangani. Yes, there are millions of children who need help in rural areas. These are the common stories we read about in rural areas – lack of health services, schools, transportation, nutrition and other basic resources. The government and other organizations continue to work towards delivering services to the rural poor. UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake says, “But today, an increasing number of children living in slums and shantytowns are among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable in the world, deprived of the most basic services and denied the right to thrive.”

 

DILG Sec Robredo, Dr Abdul Alim
DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo and Dr Abdul Alim of UNICEF Philippines.

 

If you’ve been reading Daphne.ph for sometime you know that I always beg for open spaces and public parks in the city. Throw in public art and activities for children the way Bonifacio has it all figured out. Now my big concern is which summer activities my daughters will do. Where do they do theatre, ballet, art, swimming, skating – Makati, Alabang, Ortigas? We have big problems.

This is what city life means for us. We have access to dynamic activities – playgrounds, movies, theatres, malls, sports clubs, schools. But this isn’t the case for half of the children who live in urban areas. The same city we live in is also the setting for some of the greatest disparities in children’s health, education and opportunities. I don’t have to say this because we already know that. Just look outside your car window the next time you’re stuck in traffic.

 

Why?
I shot this in the city of Manila three years ago.

 

So what exactly does the report tell us? The report calls for a new approach to urban challenges. Policy-makers, real estate developers, architects, citizens all should take a part in reaching the most deprived and vulnerable children and families. Children should be at the heart of urban development, with urban policies prioritizing the needs of the most disadvantaged children in cities. Example, poor families pay more for their water – up to 50 times more – because they have to buy it from private vendors/water trucks, while rich families have direct connections to water mains.

I really encourage you to download the report and read/browse through it. We can all learn from it and try to understand the needs of poor children in cities.

For many of us urbanization is exciting and sexy. I love talking about architecture and how cities change, my need for artsy parks. But we, myself included, are all guilty of trying to brush away the problems of the urban poor, the squatters and the homeless we sometimes treat as invisible. Infrastructure and services are not keeping up with urban growth in many regions and children’s basic needs are not being met.

 

Mandaluyong Childrens Choir
The Mandaluyong Childrens Choir performed at the launch. Mandaluyong was awarded the Most Child-friendly municipality in the Philippines in 2010.

 

Do me a favour today – especially if you are in Metro Manila. I lifted this from the report. Look around. Do all children in your neighbourhood have the services they need? If not, why not? Does your city promote and safeguard the rights of children?

Get involved in local initiatives to improve neighbourhoods such as clean up schemes, city gardens and farms, or building renovation. Get involved in wider initiatives to tackle the barriers to child rights, such as poverty and discrimination, and to give local communities – particularly children and adolescents – a chance to influence the development of your city.

Join the debate: Listen to children and adolescents. Their views on your city may be surprising, but could help to create better cities for all. Add your voice to those working to improve the well-being of children in your city. If there is no debate, start one. Ask questions.

 

 

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UNICEF’s emergency appeal

 

 

 

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There’s a lot of fundraising going on locally and abroad. If your organization is looking to donate, please consider helping children and families in Mindanao affected by Sendong. DONATE NOW through UNICEF Philippines. If you’re an individual, every peso counts. A P1,000 donation can provide 2 families with water containers and water purification tablets for a month’s supply of safe, drinking water.

Lack of safe water and sanitation are the main priorities for those to responding to the emergency in Mindanao. UNICEF is co-leading the water and sanitation response with the government, UN and NGOs to respond to the needs of children and families affected by tropical storm Sendong.

The flooding has affected more than 63,000 families or 338,000 individuals half of them children in over nearly 260 barangays (villages). UNICEF has dispatched supplies to the affected areas including: water kits, water treatment, to ensure safe, clean water; hygiene kits containing soap, toothbrushes and personal hygiene items. We are also preparing to send tents and tarpaulins for temporary shelter; vitamin A for mothers and infants; breastfeeding education materials to reduce the risk of infant mortality; and recreation kits so children can play and begin to have a sense of normalcy.

Please donate now.

 

 

UNICEF Auction: Manny Baldemor

 

 

The second UNICEF Auction for Action: The Manny Baldemor Sabrosa Series is now an active online site. Please check out www.ebay.ph/unicef from now December 5 til December 12 for the online bidding of Baldemor’s pieces. Proceeds will go to UNICEF programs for children in the Philippines.

 

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This is a very special collection. It all happened quite fast. During dinner hosted by Vanessa Tobin, UNICEF Philippines Country Representative, Mr Baldemor and I met for the first time. Also at dinner were UNICEF Philippines’ Marge Francia and Michelle Borromeo. We were prepared to propose the idea of an online auction to Mr. Baldemor. And in an instant he whipped out his portfolio and brought out about 40 sheets of unframed canvas. He donated all the pieces to UNICEF to be auctioned off. And just like that, we had the bones for the second UNICEF Auction for Action.

The first time we did Auction for Action was June of this year. It was a huge success. It was the first time I founded a fundraising activity of this sort. I curated a mix of decorative and functional pieces from the country’s best artists and designers. In a 10-day online auction, we were able to raise P1.4 million pesos. I hope to raise double the amount next year. In the meantime, we have this wonderful collection from Manny Baldemor that I think will raise a lot of funds for Filipino children this Christmas. Not many people know that UNICEF programs in the Philippines rely solely on funds raised locally. So we really need your help here…

 

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Our dinner last October, when Mr. Baldemor presented us with his Sabrosa series.

 

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Manny Baldemor, UNICEF’s Marge Francia, UNICEF’s then-Country Representative Vanessa Tobin (her post in the Philippines has ended and I will miss her so much!), and UNICEF’s Michelle Borromeo.

 

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The Sabrosa series was conceived during Baldemor’s art residency in Sabrosa, Portugal earlier this year. Located in the northern part of Portugal, the municipality of Sabrosa is a UNESCO world heritage site. It is also the birthplace of Ferdinand Magellan, the first European navigator who reached Philippine shores in 1521.

The series of landscapes was inspired when Baldemor took a boat ride down the great river Duoro, “I took a glance upwards as we passed a steep incline and saw vineyards of different levels that would make our own famous Rice Terraces look like anthills. It was awesome. I’ve never seen layers and layers of vines in a gigantic mountain that almost touches the sky… I wondered if the vineyards were already there 500 years ago when Ferdinand Magellan trekked from this mountain of vines, down to the River Duoro to the Atlantic and finally to the Pacific Ocean,” he said.

 

Click on the banner to take you to the auction site.
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Unicef Auction for Action again

 

 

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UNICEF Philippines and eBay Philippines launches its second online fundraising campaign through UNICEF Auction for Action: The Manny Baldemor Sabrosa Series from December 5 to 11, 2011 on www.ebay.ph/unicef

As one of the featured artists in the first UNICEF Auction for Action last May, UNICEF visual artist Manny Baldemor once again shares his generous talent for the benefit of UNICEF programs for children in the Philippines and worldwide. “I have received so many blessings that it’s only right to share and give back. Children’s welfare has always been close to my heart and that’s why I work with UNICEF Philippines because they help children in the poorest and most disadvantaged areas,” shares Baldemor.

The Sabrosa series was conceived during Baldemor’s art residency in Sabrosa, Portugal earlier this year. Located in the northern part of Portugal, the municipality of Sabrosa is a UNESCO world heritage site. It is also the birthplace of Ferdinand Magellan, the first European navigator who reached Philippine shores in 1521.

The series of landscapes was inspired when Baldemor took a boat ride down the great river Duoro, “I took a glance upwards as we passed a steep incline and saw vineyards of different levels that would make our own famous Rice Terraces look like anthills. It was awesome. I’ve never seen layers and layers of vines in a gigantic mountain that almost touches the sky… I wondered if the vineyards were already there 500 years ago when Ferdinand Magellan trekked from this mountain of vines, down to the River Duoro to the Atlantic and finally to the Pacific Ocean,” he said.

UNICEF Country Representative Vanessa Tobin shares, “UNICEF thanks Manny Baldemor for being a staunch supporter having lent his iconic designs to UNICEF cards and products and holding exhibitions of paintings for the benefit our programs for children. Proceeds from the online auction of the Sabrosa series will go towards our work for street children programs.”

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Manny Baldemor’s Sabrosa Series, oil on canvas, unframed 12″ x 16″, framed 21.5″ x 25.5″.

Auction for Action: The Manny Baldemor Sabrosa Series on www.ebay.ph/unicef goes live on December 5, 2011 and will run for 7 days until December 11 at 8pm. Watch out for this exclusive auction and help make a difference for children.