Monday, 2 May 2011


                                                By Crysta Imperial Rara


There’s a new radio show in town. I conceptualized it in 2009 and finally, last October, it had its premier broadcast. The one-hour program titled “Kwentuhang Pets at Iba Pa”, goes on air every Thursday from 1-2 pm at DZUP 1602 kHz (AM).  It aims to make people aware that attitudes toward animals are changing and our fellow creatures are now viewed more as friends or part of the family and not just mere property. It seeks to enlighten listeners about new trends around the world which revolve around putting a stop to cruelty against animals.

The program is different because it’s the first of its kind in the country. No other radio program tackles animal issues. Another unique feature is that since it’s in DZUP, there are no commercials and students get an opportunity to do radio work hands-on, like writing and reading animal news. We’ve also got live audio streaming on the web which allows animal protection advocates to listen in from all over the world.

The success of radio programs on the environment and alternative health care indicates that the people’s awareness of non-traditional issues is expanding and they are ready to welcome new ideas into their lives. The growing existence of animal rights and welfare groups in the country and the expanding coverage of stories on animals (the campaign to stop travelling dolphin shows, features on rescued eagles and other wild birds, the training of local dogs to make them into security K-9, rescues of stray cats and dogs etc…) is additional proof that Filipinos are changing their attitudes toward the animals.
                One hour is never enough to talk about animal issues but at least it can raise interest and curiosity that may inspire the listener to act in favour of the animals. The program starts with a five-minute discussion of a Thought for the Day that aims to trigger insights and realizations about the different roles that animals play in our lives. Some of the quotations we have discussed are:

1.     Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals(Winston Churchill)
        The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. (Mahatma Gandhi)

3.    An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language. (Martin Buber)

4.    Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole. (Roger Caras)

5.  Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened. (Anatole France)

The second segment features Animals In The News here and abroad. It includes scientific discoveries of new species, rescues of animals, protests against animal cruelty, etc.

            Following this segment is a lengthy discussion on the topic for the day. My co-host Malotz Quodala and I explore interesting topics and ask in-depth questions. For a clearer picture of what we’ve tackled so far, here’s a list of the guests and topics we’ve done since the show began to air three months ago:

Oct. 7 –  Topic: Marine Mammals

            The guest, Earth Island Institute Regional Director Trixie Concepcion, discussed the cruelty behind travelling dolphin shows as well as dolphin and whale shows in oceanariums here and abroad. She explained that marine mammals like the dolphins, whales and sea lions are used to swimming free in the oceans and not in steel tanks that limit their movements and stress them out. We discussed former Flipper series trainer Ric O’Barry’s brilliant documentary, The Cove, which documented the yearly mass slaughter of dolphins in Taiji, Japan. (Everyone should watch it- it’s like a James Bond movie complete with secret weapons and breathtaking suspense.)

Oct. 14 – Topic: Animal Welfare and the group Care and Responsibility for Animals (CARA)

            Vimla Mansukhani, who heads CARA’s Educational Outreach Program, believes that if you hurt an animal, you will suffer the same fate at the hands of another. Vimla talked about CARA’s main thrust which is the humane control of the dog and cat population through neutering and spaying. She stressed the need for compassion toward the animals as well as responsible pet ownership which includes making sure that the companion animal has access to basic needs like food, water, and exercise.

Oct. 21 - Topic: The Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS)

            Guest Anna Hashim Cabrera recounted how she gave up a lucrative post in a private bank to follow her heart and help the animals. As head of the PAWS shelter for rescued dogs and cats, Anna knows just how depressing it is for a dog to remain in a shelter for years and not be adopted into a loving home. She talked about how to respond to dog behaviour problems. PAWS rehabilitates rescued dogs so they can be “re-homed”. But it’s much more difficult to get the cats adopted, she says. PAWS also has a Dr. Dog program that allows terminally-ill children to interact and have fun with well-trained and compassionate dogs.

Oct. 28 -   Topic: Animal Rights and the People’s Ethical Treatment for Animals (PETA)

Lumped together under the umbrella of the animal protection movement,
animal rights and welfare groups work together to help animals in need and educate people about changing attitudes. PETA Campaigner Rochelle Regodon discussed the group’s campaigns and strategies, like the campaign to encourage people to switch to a vegetarian or vegan diet. For this, PETA invites celebrities like Joaquin Phoenix, Pamela Anderson, Alyssa Milano as well as Chinchin Gutierrez in the Philippines to champion their cause. And their campaign is definitely working – more and more young people the world over are turning vegetarian.

Nov. 4 - Topic: Rescuing Dogs from the Illegal Dog-Meat Trade

            The Animal Kingdom Foundation (AKF) has been in the news quite often because it actively pursues dog meat traders with the help of the Philippine National Police. Luis Buenaflor of the AKF believes that the dog meat trade is more of a business than a tradition. Several cases have already been filed against traders caught in the act of transporting dogs that have already been slaughtered or are about to be killed in violation of the Animal Welfare Law and the Anti-Rabies law. Luis said dog meat is not regular table fare for the Igorots – they eat a dog only when settling a blood feud. The dog is a peace offering because it is considered a member of the family. In nearby Baguio, however, the price for a dog can go all the way up to one thousand five hundred pesos. Luis also talked about the AKF shelter in Tarlac where some 500 dogs rescued from the dog meat trade are living their lives out in peace and comfort. It’s a no-kill shelter and there are no cages. The dogs live in pens where they can run around and socialize. His message for the listeners was a strong reminder – DON’T EAT DOGS.

Nov. 11 - Topic: The Joys of Birdwatching

            Happiness lies not in watching birds in cages but in seeing them fly free and go about their daily business. Wild Bird Club President Mike Lu shared his experiences from several years of birding or birdwatching and talked about how indiscriminate construction of malls and villages in bird habitats like forests and mangroves are destroying migration patterns and driving the birds away. The Philippines now attracts more birdwatchers from Japan and Europe who come here to see indigenous and migratory species.

Nov. 18 – Topic: Marine Wildlife

            Scuba diver, veterinarian and environmentalist AA Yaptinchay talked about the role of marine wildlife in the ecosystem and the need for a more sustainable use of marine resources. He cited pollution, unregulated tourism, incidental and non-targeted extraction of marine resources as well as the capture of marine mammals for use in the entertainment industry (oceanariums, shows, ocean parks, movies, etc) as the greatest threats to marine species. AA now operates an environment-friendly travel agency that promotes diving tours in the Philippines. He also set up the Marine Wildlife Watch, a website that disseminates information on marine mammal issues. He is actively helping in the campaign to stop the importation of two dolphins in Indonesia for a Christmas travelling dolphin show in the Araneta parking lot in Cubao.

            Nov. 24         - Topic: The Basics of Animal Care

            Companion animals like dogs and cats have to be cared for too, and Dr. Veronica Matawaran who heads the Veterinary Clinic at the University of the Philippines in Diliman explained how to groom animals and keep them healthy. She also talked about the various services offered by the UP Vet Clinic. Dr. Matawaran and some colleagues are now developing herbal products for animals to complement the gamut of pharmaceutical products now available in the market.

Dec. 2 - Topic: Alternative Remedies for Animals

            In line with the expanding consciousness of the times, more and more people are now seeking out alternative therapies or remedies for their animals. We had two guests who shared their experiences in this field. Dr. Jezie Acorda of UP Los Banos explained how he does acupuncture on horses, pigs, dogs and cats and how these animals respond to the treatment. Dr. Acorda said the UP Vet Clinic will soon be offering acupuncture treatments to its animal clients.

Reiki healer Leng Velasco, on the other hand, uses only her hands to pass on energy to the animal. Reiki is a Japanese form of healing wherein a person is attuned to universal energy by a reiki master. Leng pointed out that there are no tools needed to do this kind of healing. She recounted how she healed her dog Duke who was dying of thyroid cancer two years ago. Duke, now 10 years old, is still very much alive today.

Before the year 2010 ends, we will be tackling the following topics: how to spend Christmas with your animal companions, adopting a vegetarian diet for the holidays, and protecting your animals from the stress of New Year fireworks. Listen to the program on your radio or follow it online. If you have questions, suggestions or reactions, email me at or send your text messages to 0921.416.5538.

            HAPPY NEW YEAR or as the French say, Bonne Année!

Author with Exec. Producer Mel Estonilo

Published in my column AnimalSpeak in the ANIMAL SCENE magazine, Jan. 2011 

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