Upcoming event: The Human Rights Situation in the Philippines

Vanya R.
Copyright: flickr.com/Vanya_R._CC_BY_2.0


The relationship of Southeast Asia and the EU is of particular importance as these two regions are closely entangled in today’s globalized economy. This is not only the case economically: through increased migration flows for example, globalization has shown that human rights issues may affect other parts of the world too.

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Filipinos’ Dreams Come Alive in Comics!

With “Animate Europe” we are bringing Europe to life through comics. Our international comic comeptition is currently running in it’s third round (you can enter until 5. February).
However, within the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, we’re not the only ones using the “Ninth art” to spread ideas and messages. Find out what our colleagues in the Philippines are doing:

19 young artists from all over the Philippines shared their dreams for the country in a comic strip!

The Philippine Office of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) launched its very first comics competition dubbed as ‘I Am Free To Dream’ on 22 June 2015, which aims to exhibit Filipinos’ dreams and aspirations for the Philippines, especially those wishes that ordinary citizens can contribute to making real.


“Filipinos are very creative, not only in drawing but in everyday life – they find ingenious ways to enjoy their freedom!,” said former FNF Country Director Jules Maaten. “The aspirations that the artists sketched for I Am Free To Dream contest are realizable because there is freedom in the Philippines that allow people to pursue their dreams. This is why we should always value our freedom especially when it is challenged,” he added.

The comics contest was organized under the banner of FNF Philippines’ Freedom Project, an annual search for initiatives that promote freedom in the Philippines. The top three artworks, along with the eight finalists’ were printed in a book as a chronicle of how Filipinos would like to see the Philippines in five years. The common theme of the winning entries turned out to be a ‘nation that has greater freedom, and Filipinos that are more responsible.’


On January 12, 2016, the results were released proclaiming the following winners: the entry by Harold Dela Rosa of Talavera, Nueva Ecija (northern part of the Philippines) emerged as the best artwork. Patrick Acma’s (Iloilo) comics on transforming communities through education, and Freddie Vicente’s (Bulacan) illustration on preserving culture and tradition were awarded as second and third place respectively. “They were all very well done, and speak of practical action,” commended Pugad Baboy creator Pol Medina, who was a member of the contest’s jury.

Medina, Presidential Communications Office Assistant Secretary Kael Co, and top advertising agency Lowe Philippines Creative Director Rene Dominguez sat as judges.

The young and talented participants were grateful to have been given a platform by which they could voice-out their dreams for themselves and for the Philippines. FNF Philippines recognizes the power of both the youth and the arts in transforming societies.

Participants were required to submit comics entries that are at least two pages, and a maximum of four pages. The text could be either be in English or Filipino. The entry must be submitted together with a one line description. Professional and amateur artists, teachers and students were eligible to join. National and international entries were welcomed. Aside from seeing the best artworks published in a book, the finalists received cash prizes.

Following the success of the I am Free to Dream Comics Competition, FNF Philippines collaborated with the comics genius and member of the jury of ‘I am Free To Dream’ Comic Competition, Mr. Pol Medina, in compiling his comic strips on Martial Law in one Marcos Special comic book.


“FNF is lucky that Polgas, the famous character of the Pugad Baboy Comics series, is joining the bark against Martial Law. Pol Medina cleverly illustrates the threats of an authoritarian comeback. This book is a smart analysis of what have become of people’s attitudes – their forgetfulness of the atrocities of the past, and their unconscious willingness to give up their freedom,” said former FNF Country Director Jules Maaten.

“We should do what we can to preserve freedom while we are still free,” said Medina at the launch on 14 April 2016 at Plaza Ibarra, Quezon City. In the cover page of his book he wrote: “It wasn’t really my plan to come up with a compilation of anti-Marcos comics, but people kept posting on my facebook page about the glory days of Martial Law. To me, this is like spitting on the victims of atrocities, and this itched me to do something, hence this book.”

Medina first published Pugad Baboy in 1988, and has since become a representation of Filipinos sentiments on political and social issue, and a reflection of the pop culture.

“FNF Philippines looks forward to more initiatives and partnerships that the ‘I am Free to Dream’ Comics and the Pugad Baboy Marcos Special Comics have already started. Filipinos’ talent, ingenuity and love for freedom are astonishing and should be no less than promoted,” adds the current FNF Philippines Country Director Mr. Wolfgang Heinze,


I Am Free to Dream Comics and Pugad Baboy Marcos Special Comics are available upon request. Should you wish to receive a copy, please email FNF Philippines at philippines@fnst.org or send a message on FNF Philippines’ facebook fan page – FNF Philippines: It’s All About Freedom.

The Philippine Elections: Promoting democracy through engaging political reportage

On the 9th of May, Filipinos will go to the ballot box. Since the demise of Ferdinand Marco’s military regime in 1986, the Philippines have consistently held democratic elections, with freedom of the press guaranteed through constitutional protections. Despite this progress, there is still much to be achieved in promoting liberal values in the Philippines. Corruption among government institutions is rampant, and political violence, especially against journalists, is commonplace. As part of a three-day program featuring some of the Philippines’ most notable media professionals, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom invited a round of experts to discuss key issues at stake in the upcoming Philippines elections and the important role the media plays in this context.

Corruption and Violence

Bart Guingona

According to Bart Guingona, convenor of the MediaNation summit, a national conference of the news media in the Philippines, the South –East Asian country has yet to recover from the legacy of the Marcos regime, with sympathisers of the old regime present throughout all levels of bureaucracy and the late dictator’s family members still successfully running for political offices. He compares parts of this political power structure with historical feudal and dynastic systems Describing the current situation, Guingona stated that while the “heads” of the Marcos regime’s power machine have largely been removed from prominent positions of power, the “body” -the large number of pro-Marcos civil servants, still remains to promote the political resurgence of the past regime. The legacy of the past is still felt in the corruption and violence that is commonplace in Filipino politics. For journalists, the constitutional guarantees of free speech are all too often threatened by acts of violence.

The Role of the Media in Election Campaigning

According to Jacqueline Sierda, Program Manager for News and Information at the TV5 Network, journalism in the Philippines often fails to hold politicians accountable on critical issues such as corruption and human rights abuse. News media often assumes a tabloid style, focussing on irrelevant matters in politicians’ private lives while neglecting critical issues facing voters. Bart Guingona described a situation in which media outlets focussed their attention on a sex scandal involving a candidate’s sister while neglecting to provide coverage of a case involving political corruption. It was agreed that competent political journalism is a much-needed weapon in the fight for democracy in the Philippines. By drawing voter’s attention to important political issues, relevant,

Abelardo Ulanday

fact-based journalism has the potential to achieve significant progress in advancing democracy in the Philippines. Abelardo Ulanday, associate editor at Inquirer.net, in this context also emphasised the increasing impact social media has in the Filipino political landscape and predicts that the role of social media in the upcoming elections will be greater than ever before. It has great potential of exposing corruption and advocating democracy.

During the discussion, relevant political reportage was identified as a critical weapon in the fight for democratic values in Philippines. A key priority of democracy advocates in the Philippines is facilitating effective engagement of the voting population with the political debates. The role of the media in directing political debate and educating voters must not be underestimated. Ultimately, the future of democracy in the Philippines will be decided by voters’ ability to make informed decisions based on the merits of each candidate. Only then will the Philippines achieve significant progress in upholding human rights and advancing democratic values.


First Day -at the Friedrich Naumann Foundation W1
Joseph Monisse

Visiting delegation from the Philippines – Liberal Identity is Palpable


“Being part of this delegation allowed me to see how alive the liberal ideology is. Liberalism transcends borders and this international work tells us that we can build something bigger, because of our common goal of better governance that creates freedom and opportunities for all,” said 6th District of Quezon City Rep. Kit Belmonte. Continue reading