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Environmentalist says Freedom Island reclamation is anti-poor

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Environmentalists slammed on Wednesday the planned reclamation and commercialization of the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area or Freedom Islands as it poses threats to the wildlife and fishermen.

In a forum titled “Free the Freedom Islands” held at the Beato Angelico Auditorium, Artlet professor and external vice president of the Mother Earth Foundation, Dr. Arlen Ancheta expressed her concern over the reclamation project.

“The reclamation is [an] anti-poor movement,” she said.

Ancheta said that reclamation projects along Manila Bay started during the administration of former President Ferdinand Marcos and have greatly affected the floating communities and livelihoods of fishermen.

“The Manila Bay is a source [of] food and livelihood for people living along the shore or artificial islands,” Ancheta said. “But now, fishing areas became roads and flooding became worse as well.”

Ancheta urged everyone to be aware of the negative impact of reclamation projects.

“Let us remember that the members of the lower class are the victims of the reclamation projects,” she said.

Fr. John Leydon also hit the reclamation project and cited Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si to explain his argument.

“The Laudato Si tells us ‘Gumising na’ and do what we can!” Leydon said.

“If you are not concerned with the environment, don’t call yourself a Christian or a Catholic,” he added.

Laudato Si is considered to be one of the first Church teachings concerning the environment.

“There should be a dialogue first (with the residents) if you are planning a project,” Leydon said.

Meanwhile, Glacy Macabale, campaign director of Save the Freedom Island Movement, appealed for the support of Thomasian community on the campaign against reclamation projects.

“Naniniwala kami na dahil may nasimulan na kami, may mga pagpapatuloy nito,” she said.

“Kung hindi tayo kikilos ngayon, mas lalong lalala ‘yung mga problema gaya ng pagbaha dahil sa mga developmental projects.”

The Freedom Islands is a 175 hectare artificial island coast off Parañaque City. It is home to migratory birds and Manila’s last mangrove forest.

The forum was organized by the UST Sociological Society and sponsored by UST Simbahayan Community Development Office.

 

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SHS students bag awards in senior high research conference

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Photo grabbed from University of Santo Tomas' official website.

UST Senior High School (SHS) students from the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics strand have bagged awards in the first SHS Capstone Experience Conference.

Arjay Julio, Wynsel Carven Tandoc, Hans Daniel Tipace, Yannah Franzine Vendivill and Zyrene Yanesa won Best Paper in Life Sciences, with their paper titled “Allelopathic effect of Lantana Camara and Chromolaena odorata leaf extracts on plant germination.”

“Looking back at the times when we would barely get any sleep just to finish revising, or rush to the nearest computer shop to print our output, we wouldn’t have thought that we would get to where we are now,” the participants said in an online interview with TomasinoWeb.

The group added: “We spent a lot of time, sleepless nights, and effort on our research, and we’re beyond grateful to be recognized for our work, knowing that there are others who are just as qualified as us. This achievement inspired us to give our best efforts not just in conducting a study, but also to contribute to the development of our country.”

The researchers conducted the study to institute knowledge on the allelopathic effects of the two “invasive” plants, lantana camara or big-sage and chromolaena odorata or Siam weed, on the growth of herbs in an “agriculture-dependent” country such as the Philippines.

Meanwhile, Leo Bert Orpilla, Jamie Marie Kalaw, Hannah Golpeo, Mary Joy Rodriguez and Jacob Casugbo grabbed the Best Paper award in Agricultural Sciences, with their study named “Optimization of Loop-Mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP) assay in identification of Fasciola hepatica in goat samples.”

“[The study] has already given us a lot of insights and additional knowledge for our chosen field even at an early stage,” Golpeo said.

“We felt lucky and privileged enough to be chosen to represent the UST SHS […], but winning the best paper out of the many others that contended was an honor,” she added.

The paper of the latter group aims to prevent the spread of the parasite fasciola hepatica, commonly called “liver fluke,” in goats through the creation of LAMP kit.

Moreover, the study “would help decrease the mortality of goats, increase its livestock productivity, provide livelihood to more Filipinos, and increase the economy through the industry’s growth.”

Both groups expressed their foremost gratitude to their research advisers for the success of their papers.

The research conference was held last April 28 at the University of the Philippines Los Baños.—with reports from Kyla Bascon

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Mental health must be treated like physical health, advocate urges

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A mental health advocate encouraged Thomasians on Thursday to treat mental health as important as physical health.

Kenneth Aranas, vice chairperson for education and research of the Youth for Mental Health Coalition, said that mental health problems are “not just in the mind” and they should be treated like physical illnesses.

“It only takes a little bit of understanding to really understand what people with mental health problems are going through.” Aranas said. “Mental health is not bound to a certain group of people. mental health problems can affect anyone.”

Aranas also pointed out the importance of family support in battling mental health disorders.

“Your first line of defense is your family, because they’re the ones that truly understand you. And if your family is already discriminating you or stigmatizing you, because of a mental health problem, then your whole support system crumbles, if your family is not supportive of you,” he said.

He said the stigma of mental illnesses is the “biggest blocking factor” in the progress when it comes to discussion of mental health.

Moreover, he encouraged everyone to break the stigma and to advocate for Mental Health.

“Advocacy on mental health is something each and every one of you can advocate for. You don’t have to be a mental health professional to advocate mental health.”

The seminar titled “Sonder: A Mental Health Seminar” was organized by the UST Faculty of Pharmacy Student Council. — H. Amoroso

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Mental illness is not a weakness, psychiatrists say

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Psychiatrists from The Medical City discussed the matters concerning the mental health of the youth. Photo courtesy of Genelaine Urbano/TomasinoWeb.

Psychiatrists from The Medical City urged the public not to look at mental illness as a weakness because it discourages young people from seeking help.

“Hindi siya yung kahinaan ng loob. Hindi ‘yan yung ‘mawawala rin ‘yan.’ And finally, hindi ‘yan yung kahinaan ng ability niyo to cope,” said Dr. Ronaldo Elepaño III during the Youth Mental Health Caravan last Friday, Sept. 15.

In one of his presentations, he pointed out that depression is a medical condition as he compared positron emission tomography (PET) scans of a normal brain and a brain experiencing depression.

“The PET scan is a diagnostic technique where makikita mo kung active yung brain mo. The more orange [the] yellow parts of your brain you have, ibig sabihin, the more active it is…that is a normal brain. What do you notice doon sa depressed brain […] kita niyo ba yung kulay? Anong nakikita sa depressed brain — mostly blue,” Elepaño said.

Another psychiatrist also agreed that the stigma prevents students from seeking help even there are free services offered.

“There’s an element of hesitance, because at the back of your mind, you think of what other people might think — and you want to make sure that there is that confidentiality. So, we really have to raise the understanding that mental health problems are just like physical health problems. So they need the same attention and care that they deserve,” Dr. Geraldine Divino-Lobo told TomasinoWeb in an interview.

Moreover, she encouraged everyone to help young people develop positive ways of coping stress.

“Kids are going through a lot of stress right now, so there’s that difficulty in how they cope. What we need to do is to help them develop more positive coping skills,” Lobo said.

“At the same time, we need to identify them, who among these students have mental health problems that require intervention. Not just helping them as colleagues or as friends, but to help them connect with the proper and necessary help that they need.”

Dr. Maria Imelda Batar, director of the hospital’s Department of Psychiatry, suggested that there should be mental health programs and policies even in workplaces.

“It (Mental Health Act of 2017) necessitates employers to raise awareness on mental health issues; correct the stigma and discrimination associated with mental health conditions; identify and provide support for individuals at risk; and facilitate access of individuals with mental health conditions to treatment and psychosocial support,” she said.

The Youth Mental Health Caravan was organized by the Central Student Council in line with Suicide Prevention Week.

by Wynona Nicole Orlina

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