Filipinos bag 59 medals at 2015 Special Olympics

(This article is also posted on Rappler.)
The victorious football team that participated in Unified Football, where special athletes and regular athletes play together. Photo from Special Olympics Philippines' Facebook page

The victorious football team that participated in Unified Football, where special athletes and regular athletes play together. Photo from Special Olympics Philippines’ Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines – Ringing in August with victory and high hopes, Filipino athletes from all over the country competed in worldwide Olympic sporting events and bagged 21 gold medals, 14 silver medals and 24 bronze medals.

What makes this celebration all the more sweet is that all our athletes are special.

The Special Olympics World Games for 2015 was held from July 25 to August 1 in Los Angeles with 7,000 athletes coming from 177 countries – all of them with varied intellectual disabilities.

The Philippine delegation brought over 35 athletes, with Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao fully represented.

A participant of the Special Olympics since 1991, the Philippines has been training athletes year in and year out. This year’s set of athletes took two 3 years to get to the sporting grounds, ready and qualified.

Out of the 25 sports hosted this year, the Philippines joined athletics, unified football, bowling, powerlifting, aquatics, gymnastics, and badminton.

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EcoWEB: Helping Mindanao farmers rise from conflict

(This article is also posted on Rappler.)

To the general public, Mindanao is known for many things – but not its farmers.

People perceive the region as a hotbed of endless conflict. At best, it’s the cradle for the Philippines’ vibrant Muslim community and its rich culture.

Somewhere underneath all the noise are Mindanao’s farmers who share the same problems with other farmers all over the country. The difference is, their plight is compounded by conflict. In places where lives are ended by misunderstanding, they struggle to grow life from the soil.

Far from the country’s capital and divided into peace and war zones, the people of Mindanao see no other choice but to help themselves. One group that has taken the initiative is the Ecosystems Work for Essential Benefits (EcoWEB).

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