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The Journey of a Humble Challenger, Raffy Villantes Story

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“To accomplish great things, we must not only dream, but also act; not only plan, but also believe,” this is the guiding principle of Raffy C. Villantes, a native of Catamboan, Lazi, Siquijor who recently graduated Magna Cum Laude at Siquijor State College (SSC).

Villantes, 20, is no ordinary student in the campus because aside from completing his degree in Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education major in English and Mathematics with flying colors, he was also the editor-in-chief of Spotlight, SSC’s official student paper. He also represented SSC in various competitions like the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges Regional Festival for Culture and the Arts where he won first place in essay writing.

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Raffy described himself as a humble challenger because he doesn’t give up on challenges easily.

“Poverty is no stranger to me because I had lived with it every day,” said Raffy while reminiscing how he was able to survive college life despite the many adversities.

He recalled that during his freshman year in college, his parents could not afford to buy him a new set of uniform so he wore an oversized hand me down set. “I had it fixed but still it looks big on me. I was like a scarecrow in the middle of a rice field, roaming around the campus.”

“I can still vividly remember the discriminating stares of my board mates and schoolmates, which were like needles pierced into my heart,” shared Raffy who became more determined to excel in school and in life.

He also recalled the days when he attended classes with an empty stomach as he ran out of allowance and his parents are still borrowing money from relatives to finance his studies.

“It was hard but I didn’t see myself giving up in fact those experiences made me stronger and more focused to achieve my goals,” disclosed Raffy, who sees himself as a successful public school teacher 10 years from now.

To lessen his daily expenses, Raffy would gather and bring firewoods (for cooking) from home to his boarding house in Siquijor proper.

His family had a hard time sending him to college because his sister at that time was also completing tertiary education while his younger siblings were enrolled in high school and elementary.

Despite their limited resources, Raffy’s parents Rebecca and Reynaldo made sure to send all their children to school. Reynaldo works as a habal-habal driver while Rebecca takes care of the children and the household. She also sells Avon products to augment the family’s income.

Raffy for his part made sure that he will have good grades as his way of giving back to the sacrifices of his parents and to prove that he deserves the government’s educational grant dubbed as the Expanded Student Grant in Aide Program for Poverty Alleviation (ESGP-PA).

He became a grantee of ESGP-PA back in 2014 when he was in second year college.

“I considered ESGP-PA as a blessing because it paved the way for me to finish college and at the same time to lessen my family’s burden in sending me to school,” Raffy said.

Student-grantee of ESGPA-PA are entitled of P60, 000 maximum grant per year or Php 30,000 per semester. The grant is intended to cover the costs for tuition and other school fees, academic and extracurricular expenses, purchase of textbooks, board and lodging, transportation, clothing, admission/entrance fees, health and other valid related education expenses and support services to complete the degree program.

ESGP-PA is implemented by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Department of Budget and Management, Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Raffy is among the 18 ESGP-PA graduates in SSC whose families are also recipient of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), the conditional cash transfer of the Philippine government that invests in the health and education of poor households with children 0-18 years old.

A consistent honor student since elementary up until college, Raffy is set to take the September licensure exam for teachers this year and while waiting he plans to work while having his review to help his family.

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Feature: Planning for Your Summer Get-Away? Palawan Is the Ultimate Place to Go

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Image Source: http://media.pia.gov.ph

Looking for your summer getaway this year? Maybe 2018 is the best time to take a dive in Palawan.

Vacationers who read the New York-based Travel+Leisure Magazine raved about Palawan’s natural gems midway through 2017.

Gathering a score of 93.15 at Travel+Leisure World Best Survey last year, writer Rebecca Ashcer -Walsh reported readers have been describing Palawan as ‘”rustic, romantic, affordable, and relaxing” and “It’s the single, most beautiful place on earth.”

Nobody says it better than third party commentaries.

“For the second year in a row, the Philippine paradise Palawan wins first place as the best island in the world, thanks to its hidden lagoons, teeming ocean life, and rustic-luxe resorts,” said Ascher-Walsh in her article on Travel+ Leisure mag.

The magazine’s World’s Best Islands survey, Ashcer-Walsh explained, is where readers were asked to “weigh in travel experience around the globe… readers rated islands according to their activities and sights, natural attractions and beaches, food, friendliness, and overall value.”

Palawan is known for its Puerto Princesa City Underground River, the blue waters of El Nido, Coron’s Kayangan Lake and World War II shipwrecks and the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park of Cagayancillo.

Accessibility is also accelerating in Palawan: Puerto Princesa City International Airport has been expanded for a bigger volume of passengers and a cruise service between Palawan and Kudat, Malaysia is set to open in the coming months.

With the consistent pouring of positive reviews from travellers, the chief of Provincial Tourism Promotions and Development Office (TPDO), Maribel Buñi, expressed delight over good feedback, which she says are proof of the drawing power of Palawan’s natural beauty.

She urged fellow countrymen to help protect and maintain this paradise in southwestern side of the Philippines.

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Unleash Your Hugot This Valentine’s Day with OPPO’s #HaveYouEver Promo

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Image Source: PR

On the most romantic day of the year, OPPO Philippines challenges you to reminisce your heartaches responsibly and learn from the past with their #HaveYouEver Facebook promo. OPPO will be posting a different #HaveYouEver question at 2 PM daily via their Facebook page which participants must answer by sharing their story through a video submission. Feel free to release your hugot every day, starting from February 1 until February 14, for a chance to win Php25,000 worth of SM Gift Certificates.

“This love month, we want to create an opportunity for our fans to express and share their hugot stories. We want to continuously become a part of their love stories and journey, and there isn’t any better way to share it than getting rewarded as well”, said Eason De Guzman, OPPO Philippines’ PR Manager.

For more information about the promo, customers may follow OPPO on Facebook for the latest updates.

For the complete mechanics, please see below:

1. To join the promo, the participants must visit OPPO FB page  and register their full name, email address, registered address, contact number, and submit a video to the #HaveYouEver question for the day by telling his/her story (file size: maximum of 100MB (5 minutes); file format: mp4) to get (1) one raffle entry.

2. A #HaveYouEver question will be posted every day at 2PM from February 1, 2018 until February 14, 2018. A participant can submit a video answering the question of the day within 24 hours until another question is posted.

3. It is not required of the participants to submit an entry for every #HaveYouEver question. However, in order to get more raffle entries, participants are encouraged to answer each question and tell his/her #HaveYouEver story which is equivalent to (1) one raffle entry.

4. Each question can only be accomplished once per account. A participant can only obtain a maximum of 14 entries for the whole promo period.

5. Deadline of submission of entries is on February 14, 2018 at 11:59 PM.

6. There will be three (3) winners of Php 25,000 worth of SM gift certificates. The winners will be drawn using http://www.random.org.

7. The draw for the prizes will be held on February 15, 2018, 5PM at 6/F Viva Communications Inc. East Tower Philippine Stock Exchange Center, Exchange Road, Ortigas Center, Pasig City in the presence of a DTI representative and authorized representatives of Viva Communications Inc.

8. The announcement of winners will be done via Facebook post on February 16, 2018. Registered mail will also be sent to the winners.

9. Twenty percent (20%) tax for the prize exceeding PHP10,000 shall be shouldered by the Philippine OPPO Mobile Technology Inc.

10. Winners can claim their prizes from the OPPO Concept Store nearest to them. They must present at least one (1) valid ID and the registered notice for verification upon claiming. The winners must present a valid ID which contains the same information as his/her registered details. If the participant cannot claim his/her prize, the one who will claim the prize on his/her behalf must present an authorization letter, a photocopy of his/her ID and a photocopy of the winner’s ID. The winners can claim their prizes until 60 days after they receive their registered mail.

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Pag-IBIG to Sponsor Free Mass Wedding of 150 Couples on Valentine’s Day

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The Pag-IBIG Fund will sponsor the mass wedding for around 150 couples tying the knot during Valentine’s Day in their 8th annual free mass wedding dubbed “I Do, I Do, Araw ng Pag–IBIG.

The event will be hosted by Pag-IBIG Fund Mactan Branch in cooperation with the Municipal Government of Cordova.

The activity aims to help Pag–IBIG Fund members who do not have any budget to spend for their wedding and at the same time legalize their union.

The free civil wedding is open to all Pag–IBIG Fund members who are single or even couples who have been cohabiting for five years or more, provided that they are already 24 years old and above.

The couples will be given free ceremonial wedding rings, flower bouquet for the bride, free photo-op, and souvenir.

They will also be taking part in a lottery of a “Kabuhayan” showcase that will be raffled off during the reception.

Other than the “Kabuhayan” showcase, appliances and cash gifts will also be raffled off.

This year’s free mass will be held on Feb. 14, 2018 at 3:00 pm at the 10,000 Roses, Barangay Day-as, Cordova, Cebu with Mayor Mary Therese P. Sitoy-Cho as the solemnizing officer.

Those interested may contact Anette Taneda, Marketing Head or Teofredo Garcia, Branch Head of Pag-IBIG Mactan Branch, thru mobile number 0922-8263329 or email them at mactan.me@pagibigfund.gov.ph. (jsme/PIA7-Cebu/Pag-IBIG)

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PH Witnesses Rare, ‘Super Blue Blood’ Moon

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Image Source: mauinow.com

A phenomenon described as a “once in a lifetime opportunity,” not seen since 1866 — a super blue blood moon sighting — is occurring on Wednesday evening.

In an advisory, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said the sighting started at 6:49 p.m., Jan. 31 and ended 12:09 a.m. of Feb. 1.

The super blue blood moon could also be seen by the naked eye throughout the country.

Astronomer and Rizal Technological University professor Frank Kevin Martinez said the super blue blood moon could be seen in the country “because at this point, it is day time in other parts of the world, and they could only see a partial lunar eclipse.”

Martinez said the super blue blood moon occurs because of three lunar events happening at the same time: a super moon, a blue moon and a total lunar eclipse.

He said people see this moon as reddish because of the total lunar eclipse, adding that the earth covers the light that comes from the sun.

Martinez said this moon is also 14 times bigger than the ordinary, and is the second full moon in the month.

“The moon will pass by the earth’s shadow at a time when it is evening here, that’s why people could see the super blue blood moon vividly here in the Philippines,” Martinez emphasized.

A super moon occurs when the moon is at its nearest point to Earth in elliptical orbit during the full phase.

Based on the definition of astrologer Richard Noelle, a super moon comes around 361,000 kilometers of Earth, measured from the center of the moon and Earth.

A blue moon, meanwhile, does not refer to hue, but refers to the second full moon of the calendar month. The first full moon occurred last January 2.

PAGASA, however, said a blue moon might appear in certain atmospheric conditions, such as areas where there are volcanic eruptions or when large fires leave particles in the atmosphere.

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