Halik Ni Gringo reflects on social deprivation

Halik Ni Gringo reflects on social deprivation and paranoia with pandemic-themed single “HOME ALONE”

Alternative metal outfit Halik Ni Gringo explores themes of social deprivation and paranoia during the pandemic on their comeback single “HOME ALONE”—the band’s first release since 2021’s “Injustice For All.”

Written as a response to the challenges that people go through with the surge in COVID infections brought about by the latest Omicron variant, “HOME ALONE” documents a life of new normal with hardly any contact with your friends, family, and the people you normally interact with.

“It’s 2022 but it still feels like 2020,” says frontman Joey Santos. “We’ve made huge strides as regards medicine and treating COVID, but progress in The Philippines continues to lag behind our Asian neighbors. The lyrics came quick – I felt like they’ve been swimming in my head the whole time under lockdown. All I needed to do was fish them out and put pen to paper.”

Given how Halik Ni Gringo operates as a creative force, “HOME ALONE” was conceived with members of the band writing and recording apart, while refining the final product remotely without taking away each other’s commitments. As Joey puts it, “It’s a double-edged sword: It’s why it takes us so long to put out music, but it’s also why we’re still a band now.”

“Home Alone” is produced by DJ Joey Santos, and was written and arranged by Joaquin Acosta and DJ Joey Santos. It’s mixed and mastered by DJ Joey Santos at Love One Another Sound Production.

Production-wise, “HOME ALONE” distills the familiar ‘Gringo’ sound in a contemporary rock and metal setting, with drums and bass synthesized to create a brooding, dystopian mood. In terms of storytelling, Joey aims for a more confessional approach, inspired by acclaimed singer-songwriters Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker and Snail Mail.

“I’ve always admired the way they write lyrics, so I wanted to create a similar feel for the words,” Joey shares. “They almost read like journal entries at times. I wanted to channel some of that, and it’s most apparent in the pre-chorus, The voices in my head are starting again now; who do I listen to when I can’t even start to hear myself think.” The track serves as a preview of the group’s upcoming 2022 full-length album under floppydisks which includes previous singles Injustice “For All” and “Mr Big Data.” As with past releases, the LP is still a part of the group’s ongoing #2stDebutAlbum effort – now on its 5th year, having started back in 2017.


31 January 2022

TESDA intensifies health-related online courses

Taguig City – As COVID-19 cases in the country continue to rise, health-related qualifications in the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority’s (TESDA) online learning platform are being strengthened by the agency.

Currently, there are two health-related qualifications that are lodged in the TESDA Online Program (TOP) that can help prevent the spread of COVID-19. These are Barangay Health Services NC II and Contact Tracing Level II which were integrated in the TOP last May and December 2021 respectively.

According to TESDA Secretary Isidro Lapeña, these qualifications, unlike the regular training programs, are self-paced and non-facilitated. He added that these are free and accessible to all Filipinos.

“In place of the trainers or learning facilitators, the learners learn through the carefully-designed eLearning materials that they can access anytime and anywhere,” Lapeña said.

TESDA is also offering Barangay Health Services NC II and Contact Tracing Level II under its regular scholarship programs. The said trainings run for 58 and 15 days respectively and being implemented under blended learning delivery mode.

Meanwhile, TESDA is also set to lodge the newly-developed qualification or training program, the Barangay Infectious Disease Management Services (BIDMS) Level Il, into the TOP by the end of the first quarter of 2022.

The new qualification aims to enhance not just the country’s COVID-19 response at the barangay level but will also make the country prepared for any emerging infectious diseases in the future.

The strengthening of the health-related programs is in line with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging and Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) Resolution no. 111 dated April 22, 2021 where TESDA was tasked to develop training and instructional materials to enhance the enforcement of COVID-19 strategies at the barangay level.

With this, Lapeña encouraged Filipinos, especially those who are working at the barangay level to avail its free health-related courses in the TOP, noting that these will be helpful to them as they help prevent the further spread of the virus in their respective barangays.

“Barangay officials are our first line of defense in the prevention of the further spread of the virus in the communities. As such, proper training and education should be given to them,” he said.

For those interested to register, enroll or view the list of available courses, just visit https://www.e-tesda.gov.ph/.

Enrollees will be given a certificate of completion after finishing a course. However, only those who enroll for full qualifications like the Barangay Health Services NC II can undergo competency assessment and receive National Certificate.

Further, the TESDA Chief also welcomed the IATF-MEID’s support in the agency’s initiatives to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

“The IATF expresses its full support to the programs of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority in enhancing the enforcement of COVID-19 Strategies at the barangay level,” the IATF-MEID said in its Resolution no. 157 dated January 13.


18 January 2022

TESDA sets up solar lighting systems in Caraga

Taguig City – Due to the power outage caused by the Typhoon Odette in the Caraga Region, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) has set up solar lighting systems and charging stations in the region.

A total of 59 solar lighting systems have been installed in the Caraga Region, of which, five were installed in Surigao City and Surigao Del Norte; 27 in Siargao Islands; and 27 in Dinagat Islands.

These solar lighting systems were installed by TESDA Caraga with the help of their buddy regions, the National Capital Region (NCR) and Regions III, XI, and XII. The “buddy system” is being implemented by TESDA Central Office to ensure a smooth and faster provision of assistance and skills training to “Odette”-hit areas.

Also, TESDA Caraga, together with the augmentation team from Region III, conducted a community-based training on Solar Concept and Installation at Consuelo, Dapa, Surigao del Norte last January 12 where a total of 18 families attended the training.

Meanwhile, other interventions are still ongoing not just in the Caraga Region but also in other regions which were devasted by Typhoon Odette. TESDA has allotted PhP195 million worth of scholarship for the residents of the affected regions nationwide.

TESDA Secretary Isidro Lapeña shared that TESDA field offices are currently laying the groundwork to conduct massive training-cum-production on construction-related courses which will help the affected residents rebuild their destroyed houses and other infrastructure in their community.

These construction-related training courses include Masonry, Tile Setting, Electrical Installation, Painting, Shielded Metal Arc Welding, Plumbing, Carpentry, and also Photovoltaic Systems Installation.

Other TESDA units have started the conduct of community-based training in Electrical Installation and even hollow-blocks making. Training in Cookery and bread-making will also be offered.

It can be recalled that the TESDA Chief himself has approved the implementing guidelines of the agency for disaster response last February 2021 which is being followed by all TESDA operating units.

This includes the Relief Phase where immediate basic needs of the affected population should be provided and the Rehabilitation Phase which requires the implementation of construction and livelihood trainings.

Lapeña also noted that after their recovery, the affected residents can also use what they have learned from these trainings to generate their own income through business or employment.

“In the spirit of Bayanihan, and with TESDA’s mandate and guiding principle ‘TESDA Abot Lahat’, we will always be ready to provide relief and rehabilitation programs for our disaster-affected kababayans so they can immediately recover from the crisis,” he said. 


11 January 2022

TESDA urges public to enroll in TOP courses related to COVID-19 management

Taguig City – With the Philippines experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) encouraged Filipinos to avail its free online courses relevant to COVID-19 management.

TESDA Secretary Isidro Lapeña said that the agency is currently offering 10 free online training programs related to COVID-19 management in its TESDA Online Program (TOP).

The courses, according to Lapeña, are Contact-tracing Free Coursera Course; COVID-19 Awareness; COVID-19 General Duties; COVID-19: How to put on and remove personal protective equipment (PPE); Learning Online during COVID-19; Managing TVET during COVID-19; Standard precautions: Hand hygiene; Teaching Online During COVID-19; Health Effects of Climate Change; and Practicing COVID-19 Preventive Measures in the Workplace.

“As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, we are inviting everyone to enroll in our free online courses related to COVID-19 management not just to help prevent the spread of the virus but also to be productive amid travel restrictions,” Lapeña said.

In 2021, health-related courses appear to be the most in demand courses for Filipinos in the TOP. Data released by e-TESDA showed that a total of 397,721 Filipinos have enrolled in the Human Health/ Health Care Sector of the TOP in 2021.

Likewise, Practicing COVID-19 Preventive Measures in the Workplace was the most enrolled course with 369,650 enrollees.

For those interested to register, enroll or view the list of available courses, just visit https://www.e-tesda.gov.ph/.

Meanwhile, Lapeña has also renewed his call to local government units (LGUs) and the private sector to avail its free contact tracing training program (CTTP) and tap its graduates.

It can be recalled that TESDA National Capital Region (NCR), through the MuntiParLasTaPat District Training and Assessment Center pilot-launched the CTTP last September 9, 2020.

Current data showed that a total of 11,056 trainees have so far finished Contact Tracing Level II program, of which, 1,689 graduated in 2020, and 9,367 in 2021.

“Engaging the services of more TESDA-contact tracers at the community level will help prevent the further spread of COVID-19,” the TESDA Chief said.

The Contact Tracing Level II program, which was developed with the help of the Health Human Resources Development Bureau of the Department of Health (DOH) and the health industry experts, runs for 15 days under blended learning modality.

Scholars are given a training allowance amounting to PhP2,400 for the entire training duration, insurance coverage, and additional allowance to cover internet expenses and personal protective equipment.


DSWD, partners launch post-graduate diploma course for social workers

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) continues to provide learning opportunities to enhance the skills of its social workers by partnering with the academe and other institutions.

In a message delivered during the online launching of the “Post Graduate Diploma on Child Protection cum Case Management for DSWD Social Workers” on January 24, 2022, DSWD Secretary Rolando Joselito D. Bautista lauded the initiative for strengthening the competencies of DSWD social workers on child protection and case management.

The learning opportunity was organized by the DSWD Social Welfare Institutional Development Bureau (SWIDB) and the Human Resource Management and Development Service (HRMDS) with the Miriam College and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

About 47 registered social workers from the DSWD Central Office and Field Offices were chosen as the pioneer batch of scholars who will participate in the learning and development program.

“The implementation of the program is a great addition to the interventions we do for our registered social workers as we need to develop and strengthen their competencies on child protection and case management, and to support the mandate of the Department on technical assistance and resource augmentation function to Local Social Welfare and Development Offices with the implementation of the Mandanas ruling,” Secretary Bautista said.

“This course will truly help the scholars attain greater heights in their careers as public servants in the field of social work, and it is especially helpful in arming our angels in red vest with new skills amid the changing social norms due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Secretary added.

Aside from providing social protection programs to its beneficiaries, the DSWD remains committed to improving and strengthening the standards of social work practice in the country by promoting learning opportunities and developing linkages with private and public institutions


DSWD cited as among agencies with high resolution rate of  public concerns

For the year 2021, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is among the top ten government agencies with high resolution rate on referrals, according to the Civil Service Commission’s (CSC) Contact Center ng Bayan.

The Contact Center ng Bayan (CCB) receives complaints, requests for assistance, commendations, suggestions, and inquiries relative to the quality of service delivery by government agencies.

As indicated in the CSC report, the DSWD garnered a 95.10% resolution of reported cases and inquiries via the CCB, with 97 out of 102 cases resolved within 2021. 

Presently, the remaining five cases had already been resolved.

This is in line with the DSWD’s adherence to the Ease of Doing Business Act, wherein public inquiries or complaints are given priority and responded to in the soonest possible time.

The DSWD will continue to improve and enhance its processes to ensure that public satisfaction is achieved and transparent public service is upheld. 


DSWD leads Safer Internet Day for Children 2022

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), together with other members of the Inter-Agency Council Against Child Pornography (IACACP), will lead the celebration of the Safer Internet Day for Children Philippines (SID PH) on February 8.

This year’s month-long celebration will center on the theme, “Click, Respect, Connect – CRC Next Level: Ligtas na Ugnayan Online.”

A forum with internet service providers (ISPs) to discuss the available technologies to combat and address online sexual abuse and exploitation of children (OSAEC) will be conducted during the kickoff activity.

Representatives from private organizations like Converge ICT, Globe Telecommunications, PT&T, PLDT/SMART, SKY Broadband, and DITO will be present to share their safety mechanisms and their available technologies, software, and systems to block and filter child sexual abuse material (CSAM) and child sexual exploitation material (CSEM).

The ‘Safer Internet Day’ was first introduced in various countries in Europe in 2004. Currently, it is being observed by more than 100 countries to raise awareness on the online issues faced by children and to create a better and safer online community.

Mandated through Presidential Proclamation No. 417 in 2018, Safer Internet Day for Children Philippines celebration is one of the strategies of the government, through the IACACP, to spread awareness on the emerging needs to ensure the protection of children from risks and abuses brought by misuse of the internet, or lack of awareness on internet safety.

DSWD, together with the other council members of IACACP, will continue to guarantee the best interest, welfare, and protection of every child from all forms of violence and online abuse.


Sultan Kudarat and Maguindanao leaders, families declare support for UniTeam

THE UniTeam got another huge lift in its campaign for the May elections after big and influential families from Sultan Kudarat and Maguindanao provinces recently expressed their full support for the ticket.

The endorsement for the candidacies of Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. and Inday Sara Duterte was made during the recent 5th Kudaraten Festival in Sultan Kudarat town.

The gathering was attended by Maguindanao Governor Mariam Mangudadatu, Sultan Kudarat Governor Suharto ‘Teng’ Mangudadatu, Maguindanao Vice-Governor Lester Sinsuat, Member of Parliament Datu Tucao Mastura, Sultan Kudarat Municipal Mayor Datu Shameem Mastura, Talayan Mayor Datu Ali Midtimbang and some incumbent officials who will run in the two provinces.

Also present at the celebration were Davao City Mayor Sebastian ‘Baste’ Duterte who represented his sister Sara; Narvacan, Ilocos Sur Mayor and LMP President Chavit Singson, former presidential spokesperson and senatorial aspirant Harry Roque, and representatives of Tingog Partylist.

During the event, the local leaders pledged their support to the tandem and explained the reasons why they were supporting Bongbong and Sara for the upcoming May 2022 elections.

Sultan Kudarat Governor Suharto ‘Teng’ Mangudadatu said they were giving their solid support for Bongbong and Sara because they are convinced that they are the right team who can usher in progress, peace, and stability in the region.

“Sa pagtulung-tulong ng family alliance ay nagkaroon po ng katahimikan ang Maguindanao. ‘Yung mga paghihirap ng mga kababayan natin na dati ay nasa war zones ay natugunan at ngayon po ay tahimik na po,” Mangudadatu said.

“Ngayon ay lalo kaming umaasa sapagkat nagkaroon nang magandang tandem na inaasam-asam po namin na pagkakaisa ng ating presidente at vice-president. The next president Bongbong Marcos at Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio, makakaasa po kayo sa solidong suporta ng probinsya ng Sultan Kudarat at Maguindanao,” he added.

The so-called Family Alliance includes the families of Midtimbang, Sinsuat, Mastura, Ampatuan and several other influential families in the two provinces.

For his part, Parliament Member Datu Tucao Mastura said he will never forget his experience with former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. who entrusted to him the leadership of the Sultan Kudarat municipality after he abandoned rebellion to live a peaceful and law-abiding life.

“Napakalaki ng utang na loob natin sa kanya, sa kanyang pamilya at sa kanyang tatay. Bakit po? Ako’y isang dating rebelde at ilang taon din akong namundok upang ipaglaban ang Bangsamoro,” Mastura explained.

“Pero napag-isipan ko at napag-isipan din nila, na the only way ay lumabas ako. Nung ako’y lumabas, ako’y ini-appoint ni dating Pagulong Marcos bilang alkalde ng Sultan Kudarat. Simula po ng 1976 wala na pong naging putukan dito sa Sultan Kudarat Municipality sa pagitan ng Armed Forces of the Philippines at mga rebelde,” added Datu Tucao.

Marcos, on the other hand, welcomed the unification of the so-called family alliance of the provinces of Sultan Kudarat and Maguindanao at the call of BBM-Sara UniTeam.

Marcos described the move as a “unity for the collective uprising of the Philippines and the opening of equal and many opportunities in every region of the country.”

“Itong ating kilusan ng pagkakaisa ay nasimulan ninyo na rito, with the family alliance that has been formed, this is showing that here in Sultan Kudarat municipality, in the Province of Maguindanao, the Province of Sultan Kudarat, you have begun to understand the importance of unity,” he said.

“You have begun to understand that the alliances are what make us strong and unity is the way forward, then that is when we can see the opportunities that will arise,” Marcos also stressed.


Kalye Survey results show BBM could win by 27-M votes

IF all pieces fall into place, Partido Federal ng Pilipinas standard-bearer Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. would be the runaway winner in the May 9 national and local elections, leaving the other presidential bets biting the dust by more than 27 million votes.

This was based on Pulso ng Pilipinas, a compilation and summation of all Kalye Survey results produced by information and statistical data provider Splat Communications, working jointly with consulting firm Simplified Strategic Solutions (SSS).

Allowing for a voter turnout of 82 percent of the total 67-million registered voters, or 54.94-million voters, Marcos will get 33,128,820 votes. Leni Robredo, a very far second, will get 5,637,638 votes. This figure indicates a lead of 27,491,182 votes for Marcos.

Isko Moreno will place third with 4,603,972 votes, while Manny Pacquiao and Panfilo Lacson will garner 3,483,196 and 1,395,476 votes, respectively.

Splat Communications explained that they decided to do an estimation to give a clear picture of the statistical data obtained.

Based on the January 1 to 31 results, Marcos got a total of 8,170 or 60.30 percent; Robredo got 1,323 or 9.77 percent.

Moreno got 1,135 or 8.38 percent; Pacquiao, 859 or 6.34 percent; and Lacson, 344 or 2.54 percent.

There were 113,548 respondents for the said period, 12.67 percent of which were undecided.

“With a little over three months left before the elections, please be observant and extra-vigilant. Expect all the worst imaginable drama, intrigues, downright lies, smear campaigns, and threats against the frontrunner BBM,” Splat said.

“All of his opponents will become desperate as Election Day draws near. Now the disparity is as clear as day. This lead is insurmountable at this stage,” Splat added in the voice-over.

In the 2016 presidential elections, Rodrigo Duterte, with 15,970,018 votes, pulled away by 6,269,636 votes from Manuel Roxas, garnered 9,700,382.

Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, on the other hand, won over Joseph Estrada by 5,720,841 in 2010.  Aquino had 15,208,678 votes, as opposed to Estrada’s 9,487,837 votes.

Subscribers of Splat Communications’ YouTube channel posted favorable comments on the video, commending Splat and expressing support for Marcos.

“And Splat Communication is fair and honest in reporting the Kalye Survey or the true Voice of the people, that BBM is the people’s choice for this coming election..,” a male subscriber said.

“BBM is undeniably the people’s choice. That is certain. SPLAT Communications is doing a great job. Thanks again,” another affirmed.

“In my own opinion, based on almost all surveys, BBM’s lead in votes over his closest rival will even be greater,” one comment read.

– 30 –

UniTeam adopts Gringo in its Senate slate; Reform Party declares BBM and Mayor Sara its official bets

THE UniTeam has adopted veteran legislator former senator and Information and Communications Technology Secretary Gringo Honasan as the 11th member of its senatorial ticket.

“We are pleased that he is now part of our senatorial slate. We believe that Sen. Gringo will accomplish a lot in the Senate, coming up with laws that will help ensure better lives for our countrymen,” Partido Federal ng Pilipinas standard-bearer Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. said.

Honasan, a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy, had a colorful career in the military before he entered politics in 1995 when he won a seat in the Senate.

He served as senator from 1995 to 2004 and from 2007 to 2019.

In his tenure at the Senate, Honasan authored and co-authored the Clean Air Act of 1999, Clean Water Act, the National Security Policy, Disaster Risk Reduction Management Act of 2009, the Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, and the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms Law (CARPER), among others.

Honasan also chaired significant committees in the Upper Chamber, such as the Committee on National Defense and Security, and Peace, Unification, and Reconciliation.

President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Honasan as secretary of the Department of Information and Communications Technology after his term ended in 2019.

“With our senatorial slate in the Senate, we will achieve our vision of steering the country towards greatness. We have the common vision of making every Filipino proud of our race. Gusto naming ang Pilipino ay taas noo kahit kanino,” Bongbong stressed.

In a related development, Honasan’s Reform Party has officially named Marcos and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte as its presidential and vice-presidential candidates in the coming May 9 elections.

In a resolution issued on January 21, 2022, but was made public on Friday, February 4, 2022, signed by its president James A. Layug and other key officials, the party resolved to declare their support for the candidacies of Bongbong and Inday Sara.

“Whereas, in line with the Reform Party’s vision to build a strong Filipino Nation, that guarantees liberty, equality and prosperity for all … It shall establish alliances with other political organizations that can serve as key partners in the pursuit of meaningful social, political, and economic reforms in the country for the benefit of Filipino people,” the resolution read.

“Resolved, as it is hereby resolved to ADOPT the BBM- Sara UniTeam with Senator Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos as official Reform Party candidate for President and Mayor Sara Duterte as the Reform Party candidate for Vice President,” a portion of the resolution also said.  

Layug and his fellow Reform Party officials said that they decided to choose Bongbong and Sara because they carry the vision that their party believes in. They are also convinced of their capability to lead and continue with the programs started by the incumbent Duterte administration such as Build, Build, Build, plans to enhance the country’s digital infrastructure, their anti- corruption and anti-drugs advocacies and many others.