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‘Tax evaders’ should board next TRAIN

President Duterte leads the ceremonial signing of the 2018 General Appropriations Act and the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion bill as members of Congress stand behind him at Malacañang in Manila on December 19, 2017. AP/Aaron Favila


By Jovee Marie N. Dela Cruz

he House Committee on Ways and Means is now finalizing Part B of Package 1 of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act seeking to grant amnesty on all unpaid internal-revenue taxes, while relaxing the Bank Secrecy Law.

If things go according to the panel’s plan, House Bill (HB) 7105 would be presented for plenary approval next month. “The timeline for the passage of HB 7105 in the House of Representatives’ plenary is first quarter of this year…that’s our target," Rep. Dakila Carlo Cua of Quirino, the panel chairman, told the BusinessMirror. The bill will grant amnesty on all unpaid internal-revenue taxes imposed by the national govern-

ment for taxable year 2017 and prior years. It was filed on February 2 by its principal authors Cua, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas of Ilocos Norte. Cua said the lower chamber is eyeing to approve the bill on third and final reading before Congress goes on recess on March 21.

Poor tax collection

According to Cua, this proposed

law is needed as the Philippines experienced poor tax collections in the previous years. It is meant to combat corruption, simplify taxation and improve tax collection. Aside from giving the government flexibility in collecting taxes and immediate revenues, Cua said the bill also seeks to expand the taxpayer base. “As we all know, there exist a vast number of unsettled taxes that cannot be legally collected by

our executive agencies without going through the rigorous process laid down by law. Likewise, an unaccounted number of individuals who have not [paid], but are now willing to pay, their taxes are discouraged by threat of prosecution,” he said. Whether disputed and uncollected taxes are caused by erroneous assessment or by the fault of the taxpayer, the lawmaker added, “it is high time for us to move Continued on A2

DENR starts review of forest-management deals with private sector


By Jonathan L. Mayuga

s the government embarks on the audit of 89 Integrated Forest Management Agreement areas (Ifmas), officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said they will also conduct a comprehensive review of the entire program, including the costs and benefits. The review of the 19-yearold Ifma program, which will be in-depth, may eventually lead to cancellation of forest-management agreements awarded to big agricultural companies that failed to

make the vast tracts of land productive. Environment Undersecretary for Policy, Planning, International Affairs and Foreign-Assisted Projects Jonas Leones said the audit

PESO exchange rates n US 51.3030

will dig deep into the records of Ifma holders. The auditors will also look closely into the revenues generated by the DENR from the production-sharing agreements under the Ifmas, Leones told the BusinessMirror. Leones is also the designated spokesman of Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu. According to him, Cimatu’s directive is encompassing and will cover the physical assessment of the areas leased out to Ifma holders, the legal basis of their existence, revenues generated by the government over the years while utilizing vast tracts of government lands assigned to them for establishment of forest plantations and other agro-forestry use; and the conditions provided for under the Continued on A2

In this December 24, 2017, file photo, people gather on a bridge which was washed out by flooding brought about by Typhoon Vinta in Zamboanga del Sur. The alleged environmental destruction of Integrated Forest Management Agreement areas caused by the Dacon Group of Companies is being blamed for the death of two dozen people during the height of the typhoon,which unleashed flash floods that swept away people and houses and set off landslides. AP/Daisy Barimbao

n japan 0.4719 n UK 71.3214 n HK 6.5598 n CHINA 8.1195 n singapore 38.5215 n australia 39.8932 n EU 62.8257 n SAUDI arabia 13.6808

Source: BSP (February 9, 2018 )

NewsSunday BusinessMirror

A2 Sunday, February 11, 2018

‘Tax evaders’ should board next TRAIN Continued from A1

forward, and provide taxpayers the opportunity to be responsible by offering them a clean slate.” Moreover, the other authors of the bill noted that the government’s low tax collections could be attributed to many factors, such as poor tax administration, low collection efficiency, corruption and flawed tax policies. They also said dishonest taxpayers were able to collude with corrupt government officials and employees into getting away with not paying the correct amount of taxes; while taxpayers who are willing to pay the correct amount of taxes are discouraged from doing so by poor administrative policies.

Amnesty package

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has said the amnesty package covers two-thirds of what the government proposed under the first package of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP) of the Duterte administration. The Department of Finance said it was still computing the expected revenue gains from the amnesty package, or the CTRP Package 1-B. Part A of the proposed TRAIN Act, which was implemented on January 1, is targeting to raise P130 billion in revenues to finance the administration’s ambitious infrastructure program.

The bill

To be covered by HB 7105 are all national internal-revenue taxes for the taxable year 2017 and prior years, with or without assessment duly issued therefore, that have remained unpaid as of December 31, 2017. Under the measure, any per-

son who wishes to avail himself of tax amnesty authorized and granted under the law shall file with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) a notice and Tax Amnesty Return accompanied by financial statements or a Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) as of December 31, 2017, in such form as may be prescribed in the implementing rules and regulations of the act, and pay the applicable amnesty tax within two years from the effectivity of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR). Except for the persons or cases covered in the Act, any person may avail himself of the benefits of tax amnesty after paying the prescribed amount. The bill provides individuals (whether Filipino, alien, resident, or nonresident), trusts and estates with an 8-percent flat tax rate, or P10,000, whichever is higher. Partnerships, stock corporations and taxable cooperatives, with capital, or subscribed capital, of up to P10 million shall pay 8-percent tax rate of the net worth, or P10,000, whichever is higher. Meanwhile, partnerships, stock corporations and taxable cooperatives with capital, or subscribed capital, of above P10 million but not exceeding P50 million shall pay 8 percent of the net worth, or P100,000, whichever is higher. Partnerships, stock corporations and taxable cooperatives, with capital, or subscribed capital, of above P50 million but not exceeding P100 million shall pay 8 percent of the net worth, or P1 million, whichever is higher. Also, partnerships, stock corporations and taxable cooperatives with capital, or subscribed capital,

of above P100 million shall pay 8 percent of net worth, or P10 million, whichever is higher. Nonstock corporations, government-owned and -controlled corporations exercising propriety functions, meanwhile, shall pay 4 percent of the net worth, or P50,000, whichever is higher. Moreover, the bill said taxpayers who filed their balance sheet/ SALN for 2017 income-tax returns, and who desire to avail themselves of tax amnesty, shall amend such previously filed statements by including all undeclared and underdeclared assets and/or liabilities, can pay an amnesty tax equal to 8 percent, based on the resulting increase in net worth. In cases where assessments were issued against a taxpayer, the measure said amnesty tax shall be equivalent to 50 percent of the basic tax assessed.


Also, the measure provides that those who availed themselves of the tax amnesty shall be exempted from the payment of taxes, and shall be immune from any civil, criminal or administrative penalties under the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC), as amended, arising from the failure to pay any and all internal-revenue taxes for taxable year 2017 and prior years. However, the measure said immunities and privileges shall not apply where the person failed to file a SALN or Tax Amnesty Return, or in the administrative cases initiated by the BIR to prove the understatement of SALN as prescribed under the proposal. “Any income or assets not included or declared in compliance with this Act shall not be covered

by this Act, and shall be subjected to taxation in accordance with the provisions of the National Internal Revenue Code and other special laws,” the bill said.

Not covered

The bill also said the tax amnesty shall not cover the following persons, or cases existing, as of the effectivity of this proposed act: • Withholding agents with respect to their withholding tax liabilities; • Those with pending cases falling under the jurisdiction of the Presidential Commission on Good Government; • Those with pending criminal cases filed in court for tax evasion and other criminal offenses under the NIRC, felonies of frauds, illegal exactions and transaction, and malversation of public funds and property under the Revised Penal Code; • Those with pending cases involving unexplained or unlawfully acquired wealth or under the AntiGraft and Corrupt Practices Act and plunder law; • Those with pending cases filed in court involving violation of the Antimoney Laundering Act; and • Tax cases that are subject of final and executory judgment by the courts.


For penalties, the bill said any person who, having filed a statement or Tax Amnesty Return under the Act, willfully understates his net worth to the extent of 30 percent or more shall, upon conviction, be subject to the penalties of perjury under the Revised Penal Code.

Also, it said immediate tax fraud investigation shall be conducted to collect all taxes due, including increments, and to criminally prosecute those found to have willfully evaded lawful taxes due. The bill added that any person who makes an unlawful divulgence of information contained in the Tax Amnesty Return or the SALN shall be penalized by a fine of not less than P250,000 and imprisonment of not less that one year but not more than six years. For the purposes of enhancing revenue administration, revenue collection and policy formulation, the bill said the Department of Finance (DOF), in coordination with the BIR, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and other concerned government agencies shall institute an Integrated Information Management Program for the effective use of information declared or obtainable from the Tax Amnesty Returns and the SALNs required to be filed under this proposal. Also, the measure said an amount equivalent to P400 million of the collection from the tax amnesty herein shall accrue to the DOF and shall be used exclusively for purposes of instituting an Integrated Information System as mandated under this bill.

Bank secrecy

The measure also authorizes the commissioner of the BIR to inquire into and receive information on bank accounts and other related data held by financial institutions. “Notwithstanding any contrary provision of RA 1405, or the Bank Secrecy Law, Foreign Curren-

cy Deposit Act of the Philippines, and other general and special laws, the commissioner is hereby authorized to inquire into and receive information on the bank deposits and other related data held by financial institutions,” it said. Under the bill, the BIR commissioner is authorized to inquire into and receive information on bank accounts and other related data held by financial institutions of a specific taxpayer upon an obligation to exchange tax information with a foreign tax authority, whether on request or automatic, pursuant to an international convention or agreement on tax matters to which the Philippines is a signatory or a party of. However, the information obtained from the banks and other financial institutions may be used by the BIR for tax assessment, verification, audit and enforcement purposes. It also said the exchange of information with a foreign tax authority, whether on request or automatic, shall be done in a secure manner to ensure confidentiality thereof under such rules and regulations as may be promulgated by the secretary of finance, upon recommendation of the commissioner and in accordance with international common reporting standards. The bill added that the commissioner is also authorized to inquire into and receive information on bank accounts and other related data held by financial institutions of any taxpayer upon order of any court of competent jurisdiction in cases involving offenses covered under NIRC, subject to the rules and regulations of the DOF and BIR.

DENR starts review of forest-management deals with private sector Continued from A1

individual Ifmas. The audit of Ifmas is an offshoot of President Duterte’s order to suspend the operations of the Dacon Group of Companies (DGC), which is operating in the Zamboanga Peninsula through the South Davao Development Co. Inc. and Sirawai Plywood and Lumber Corp. in Sibuco, Zamboanga del Norte,

through Ifma. The alleged environmental destruction of Ifma areas caused by the DGC is being blamed for the death of two dozen people during the height of Typhoon Vinta last December. The DENR has issued five Ifmas to the two DGC units, which cover a combined area of 70,709 hectares straddling 12 towns in the boundaries of Zamboanga del

Norte and Zamboanga del Sur. After the stop order, Cimatu has issued two special orders that set in motion the audit of the existing Ifmas. Special Order (SO) 2018-19 dated January 15, 2018, pertains to the conduct of performance evaluation of the Ifmas and the creation of the Performance Evaluation Committee (PEC) to be composed of the Undersecretary for Field Operations as chairman; and the Assistant Secretaries for Field Operations in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao as vice chairmen, with the Directors for Field Operations, Forest Management Bureau and Legal Service as members. The PEC shall be assisted by Performance Evaluation Teams (PETs). The SO also created a secretariat for Ifma PETs composed of team leaders and at least four members each. There are six for Luzon; three for the Visayas and five for Mindanao. The Ifma-PETs are ordered to submit reports on the result of the field activities together with their findings within 10 days upon completion of their fieldwork. On the other hand, SO 201840 named the DENR Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and Integrated Affairs as chairman of the PEC to supervise and provide leadership guidance in the conduct of the performance evaluation. Before the signing of Executive Order 23 on February 1, 2011, which prohibits the harvesting of timber from natural and residual forests, Ifma holders are allowed to harvest from natural or residual forests. “With the signing of EO 23, harvesting in the natural and residual forest is no longer allowed. The Ifma holders are then allowed to establish the plantations,” Leones said. He added that as part of the agreement, the DENR is supposed to receive shares from the production of the established forest plantations and production or profit of those with large concessions.

700,000 hectares

The total land area of forests now under the care of 89 holders of Integrated Forest Management Agreements “The audit will cover everything, from physical accomplishment and their legal existence. There are many Ifmas. Many are about to expire. We will also look into the conditions of the Ifmas if these conditions are met,” Leones noted. In a separate interview, Assistant Secretary for Staff Bureaus Ricardo Calderon, a former director of the DENR-FMB, said before EO 23 was issued, there were around 119 Ifma holders doing the harvest. But after that, harvesting in natural and residual forests stopped. Subsequently, of the 119 Ifmas, less than 10 survived. Today, latest records show there are 89 Ifmas, excluding those in the ARMM, nationwide that will be covered by the audit. Calderon has oversight management over the staff bureaus of the DENR, namely Biodiversity Management Bureau, Land Management Bureau (LMB), Ecosystem Research Development Bureau and the Forest Management Bureau (FMB). “The instruction of the secretary is to review the Ifma program and the instruction is to determine how the Ifma program can be improved and help the greening program in light of the diminishing budget for reforestation,” he said. He said Ifma holders are paying only a nominal amount of P5 per hectare for the lease. However, there is supposed to be a tender on the part of IFMA holders for the sharing of the production in the use of the lands as-

signed to them by the government. Technically, these are lumped as “forest charges.” “We want to know if the Ifma holders are utilizing these lands to the fullest,” he said, adding that a “use-it-or-lose-it” policy may be adopted if the Ifma holders could no longer do business or cope with government expectations. Moreover, he said the review may also assess whether the government is actually receiving its fair share from production profits in the lease agreements or not. “The government receives only P1,500 per cubic meter per harvest. On a national average, the income we derive is P75 million to P100 million a year. This is small.” However, he said there are other factors that will be considered, such as management and cost of production. “Any forestry-development project like Ifma are capital and labor intensive. It may only be the revenues generated by the government, but the employment they [Ifma holders] generate, especially in the countryside where there is no manufacturing industry, and the means of livelihood to communities are big,” he said. He said Ifma holders also provide social services, such as support to communities for education like the construction of schools, and provide health services and construction of health centers. Moreover, he said indigenous communities are also beneficiaries of Ifma projects, as they receive noncash benefits outlined in the corporate social-responsibility programs of the large companies, aside from the employment offered to IPs. Also, he said the burden of forest management over vast tracts of land eventually falls on the lap of the Ifma holders. “What we want to assess is the performance of the Ifma holders in managing our forests. At the same time, it is to review so as to improve the benefits of the program,”

he said. Ifma holders, he stressed, should take the audit positively, as they can take the opportunity to further improve the program in a way that they will be able to profit without necessarily causing environmental destruction or economic dislocation. The Ifma Program, he said, began in 1999 by virtue of Department Order 1999-53, so a review is in order to determine whether the government’s revenue from the lease and the production sharing from the activities of Ifma holders are sufficient or justifiable. Currently, he said the 89 Ifma holders manage and protect the forest over a combined land area of more than 700,000 hectares, but the government only generates up to P100 million a year, depending on the production as dictated by the market. “Sometimes, production is slow, sometimes it is good,” he said. There have been numerous complaints against Ifma holders concerning the assignment of large concession areas for their use of land, and the adverse impact of forest plantations to nearby communities. Calderon said the Cimatu wants to capture all those issues to include social protection. “We are still looking at what other issues the audit needs to capture. The secretary wants the program to capture everything, including the weight of investment where communities can come in, where the business sector can come in,” he said. He added that climate change will also be factored in coming up with a recommendation to improve the program, including a recommendation on how to financially gain from the carbon offsetting. “Companies should be able to avail themselves of carbon offsetting to earn from the scheme. That’s the holistic approach and direction the Secretary wants in the conduct of the audit.”


The World BusinessMirror

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Myanmar govt uses food as weapon vs Rohingya


By Foster Klug | The Associated Press

AYAPARA REFUGEE CAMP, Bangladesh—Abdul Goni says the Myanmar government was starving his family one stage at a time. First, soldiers stopped the Rohingya Muslim from walking three hours to the forest for the firewood he sold to feed his family. Then Buddhist neighbors and seven soldiers took his only cow, which he rented out to fertilize rice fields. Next, he says, they killed his uncle and strung him up on a wire for trying to stop the theft of his buffalos. By the time Goni saw bodies floating down the local river, of fellow Rohingya killed for illegal fishing, he knew his family would die if they didn’t leave. On bad days, they carved the flesh out of banana plant stalks for food. On the worst days, his children ate nothing. “I felt so sorry that I couldn’t give them enough food,” the 25-yearold says, tears running down his face, in a refugee camp in Bangladesh, just across the border from Myanmar. “Everything just got worse and worse.... Day by day, the pressure was increasing all around us. They used to tell us, ‘This isn’t your land.... We’ll starve you out.’” First, massacres, rapes and the wholesale destruction of villages by the Myanmar military in western Rakhine state forced nearly 700,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee to Bangladesh, in reprisal for Rohingya militant attacks on August 25. Now, the food supply appears to be another weapon that’s being used against the dwindling numbers of Rohingya in Myanmar. The accounts of hunger could not be independently confirmed, as Myanmar’s government does not allow reporters into the northern part of Rakhine state, where most of the Rohingya lived. However, more than a dozen inter views by The Associated Press with the most recent refugees show growing desperation, as the noose tightens around their communities in what UN officials have said may be a genocide. The UN and human rights groups such as Amnesty International have also warned of increasing hunger among the Rohingya in areas where conflict and displacement have been most rampant. Repeated calls to Myanmar’s military weren’t answered, but the Myanmar government denies ethnic cleansing and says it is battling terrorists. Social Welfare Minister Win Myat Aye says the government has been distributing food aid to as many people as possible. “There are many ways that we have been reaching out to villagers frequently,” he says. “And that’s why it’s not possible that there are people who are completely cut off from food or facing hunger.” The Rohingya Muslims, who have been loathed by Myanmar’s Buddhist majority for decades, are locked down in their villages— sometimes even in their homes— and prevented from farming, fishing, foraging, trade and work, the refugees and aid groups say. In other words, they can no longer do what they need to do to eat. While restrictions on freedom of movement and access to food have long been in place, they have tightened dramatically in recent weeks, the AP interviews show. “It was worse than a jail,” says Goni, who finally left Hpa Yon

Chaung village in Buthidaung township on Jan. 5. “People at least get food twice a day in jail. ...We were always surrounded, always under stress, always watched.” The hunger the Rohingya faced at home is evident when they come to the Bangladesh camps, where new refugees, especially children and women, suffer from “unbelievable” levels of malnutrition, according to Dr. Ismail Mehr. “They are definitely coming in starving,” says Mehr, who recently returned to the United States from treating refugees in the camps. “We saw the vitamin deficiencies in the children and the adults; we saw ... severely malnourished people who are basically skin and bones. It looked like the pictures from the Nazi camps.” The government’s restrictions on access to northern Rakhine make it almost impossible to tell how many people are without food, how widespread the problem is or whether people are dying. The International Committee of the Red Cross, based in Yangon, says that since the end of August it has distributed food to more than 180,000 people in northern Rakhine state. The World Food Program said it was granted access in December and January to field locations including Buthidaung, Maungdaw and Mrauk U townships for the first time since August. The people AP interviewed were mostly from Buthidaung township, where many day laborers, farmers and foragers were hit hard when the restrictions tightened, and Rathedaung township, where the impoverished Muslim communities are often encircled by Buddhists. Mohammad Ilyas, 55, fled to

Bangladesh with only a shirt and a lungi sarong, along with dozens of others from Rathedaung township. He says the military and his neighbors took Rohingya rice paddies and rice stockpiles. “Sometimes we stayed hungry for a day, two days, even five days,” Ilyas, who is from Ah Nauk Pyin village, says. “The Myanmar government doesn’t want a single Muslim to remain there. They want to erase us completely.” Activists, aid groups and researchers say Myanmar squeezed the Rohingya by severely hampering many of the humanitarian operations that were crucial for their survival. Food aid was further disrupted by violence in 2016 and the bloodshed after Rohingya insurgents staged an unprecedented wave of 30 attacks on security posts across Rakhine state in August and killed at least 14 people. Even before August, aid agencies in 2017 predicted a spike in severe malnutrition in children. In a report released today, Amnesty International details evidence of forced starvation by the military, including stopping the Rohingya from harvesting their rice fields in November and December. The Food and Agriculture Organization has also warned that the lack of access to food and fuel are adding to hunger in Myanmar. Buddhists in Rakhine state began blocking food aid when they noticed that the Muslims were getting more than they were, according to Thomas MacManus, a specialist in international state crimes at Queen Mary University of London who has researched the Rohingya since 2012. Tightened curfews meant people couldn’t harvest shrimp or rice, tend to their cattle, gather firewood or fish. Since August, an almost 24-hour-a-day curfew means no one is leaving their villages, he says. MacManus says the Myanmar government has regularly employed a scorched-earth strategy that has denied food to other ethnic groups it has battled, including the Shan and the Kachin.

What they’re trying to do is design a situation where life just doesn’t become livable anymore. You just block off an area and they can’t get material or food. It is a timehonored way of doing genocide, and one of the easiest ways because you can do it slowly and without too much attention.”—MacAnus

In this September 18, 2017, file photo, Rohingya Muslims, who crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, reach out for food distributed by aid agencies near the Balukhali refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Massacres, rapes and the wholesale destruction of villages by the Myanmar military in western Rakhine state have forced nearly 700,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee to Bangladesh, in reprisal for Rohingya militant attacks on August 25. AP

“What they’re trying to do is design a situation where life just doesn’t become livable anymore,” he says. “You just block off an area and they can’t get material or food. It is a time-honored way of doing genocide, and one of the easiest ways because you can do it slowly and without too much attention.” In this war on food, rice paddies are a major battlefield. Last fall the Myanmar military stopped farmer Rashid Ahmed, 60, from harvesting his rice fields, which were about a 15-minute walk outside a village he could no longer leave. He stood by helpless as his Buddhist neighbors, assisted by the military, collected his rice and took his six buffalos. Without food, he says, he could not stay. “It would have been better if they had just shot us instead of starving us out,” says Ahmed, thin but wiry from years of field work, as he sat in a long hut with dozens of other new arrivals to the Bangladesh camps. “What they did was slower; it was crueler. They left us to imagine the worst, to wake up every day and think about what would happen when there was no food at all.” His family ate so many banana stalks that by the time they left, all 20 plants in his compound were gone. “I always grew my own food, and now suddenly I couldn’t feed myself or my family,” says Ahmed, who is from Zay Di Taung village. After August 25, when he was trapped in his village, Mohammad Rafique, 25, a day laborer from Hpa Yon Chaung, survived on rice he’d stockpiled in his home. When that ran out in October, he sold family jewelry to get rice. When the money was gone, he begged from neighbors who still had rice stockpiles, often going without food so his children could eat. “The market was closed; no one was harvesting,” he says. “I was eating only once a day, sometimes not at all.... I felt shame that I had to beg for food, but I had no other choice.” Without rice, things got very bad for the Rohingya very quickly. Aid groups couldn’t reach them regularly. The Buddhists blockaded their villages and wouldn’t hire them; they put an embargo on Rohingya goods and even stopped selling them phone cards so they couldn’t communicate with the outside world, according to aid groups. The Muslims ate through their stockpiles; they borrowed from friends and neighbors; then they ran out. Food became so hard to get for Mohammad Hashim, 25, a wood cutter from Pyin La village, that he and his family sometimes ate broken rice grains normally given to chickens. “We sometimes went two days without food,” Hashim says. “They treated us like animals.”

Sexual assault reports doubled at West Point W

ASHINGTON—The number of sexual assaults reported at the US Military Academy roughly doubled during the last school year, according to data reviewed by The Associated Press, in the latest example of the armed forces’ persistent struggle to root out such misconduct. It’s the fourth year in a row that sexual assault reports increased at the school in West Point, New York. There were 50 cases in the school year that ended last summer, compared with 26 made during the 2015 to 2016 school year. By comparison, the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, saw only slight increases. Defense Department and West Point officials said the big jump at the Military Academy resulted from a concerted effort to encourage victims to come forward. But the dramatic and consistent increases may suggest more assaults are happening. “I’m very encouraged by the reporting,” Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen, superintendent at West Point, told the AP in an interview. “I recognize that people are not going to understand” the desire for increased reporting, he said. But, he added, “I’ve got the steel stomach to take the criticism.” The annual report on sexual assaults at the three military academies is due out this month. The Naval Academy’s reports increased to 29 last year from 28. The Air Force Academy’s edged up by one, to 33. About 12,000 students are enrolled across all three institutions. The AP reviewed the data ahead of its public release. The report highlights persistent problems within the Air Force Academy’s sexual assault prevention office that emerged late last year. Staffing and management issues led to sweeping disciplinary actions, the resignation of the director and an office restructuring. Those problems could cast doubt on a sharp decline in reported sexual assaults at the Air Force Academy for the 2015 to 16 school year, considering a widespread loss of confidence in the office. Students may have been reluctant to file reports. There have been worrying trends. An anonymous survey released last year suggested there were more sexual assaults, unwanted sexual contact and other bad behavior at all three academies. It found 12 percent of women and nearly 2 percent of men said they experienced unwanted sexual contact. The largest increases were at the Army and Navy academies. In response, West Point leaders took steps to get more victims to come forward. “When we saw that, we did a complete review of our strategy,” Caslen said. “We went after increased reporting.” Officials moved the sexual assault reporting center to a more accessible area on campus with a private entrance. It had been in a building where students facing discipline had to go. “I’ve been telling them to do that for years,”

said Nate Galbreath, deputy director of the Pentagon’s sexual assault prevention office. “Walking into the building where lots of people who are getting in trouble go, that is a real disincentive for people to come forward and make a report.” West Point also loosened regulations forcing cadets to publicly report sexual assaults. Now they can seek help anonymously without filing a formal report, which many victims are reluctant to do. Military leaders have said that an increase in sexual assault reports is good because it shows that students are aware of treatment programs and showing confidence in the system. Officials say they want to see the number of reports more closely mirror the higher levels of bad behavior suggested in their annual anonymous surveys. The overall goal, however, is more prevention, fewer assaults and effective help for victims. Brig. Gen. Omar Jones, the Army’s public affairs chief, said this year’s increase resulted from “proactive and deliberate initiatives” to help victims report incidents. There was an overall decline in reports over the 2015 to 2016 school year at the three academies because Army and Navy increases were offset by a sharp drop at the Air Force Academy. But the Air Force Academy’s subsequent controversies raise questions about whether many victims avoided the office and didn’t file reports. Last year, the Air Force Academy released a scathing report saying its Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office suffered from infighting, rumors and shoddy record keeping. It recommended firing the director, Teresa Beasley. She resigned. “Are there people that are out there that weren’t able to make the report that they wanted to? Probably,” said Galbreath. “We stopped everything and I wrote a get-well plan.” It included returning to the cadets who visited the office in the past year to ensure they got the necessary help. The Air Force Academy’s superintendent, Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria, is increasing staff from five to eight. He added a separate sexual assault response coordinator for the 10th Air Wing, which includes active duty forces nearby who had used the academy’s office. Air Force Capt. Matthew Chism, an academy spokesman, said leaders are confident they have addressed the issues in the office. He said they will “continue to scrutinize our efforts and remain transparent as we strive to develop a culture of dignity and respect at the academy.” Galbreath said he recommended all military service leaders increase oversight of sexual assault prevention offices. There are five US military academies in all. The US Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, and the US Merchant Marine Academy, which is in Kings Point, New York, and run by the Transportation Department, aren’t included in this report. AP

Billionaire Los Angeles doc takes on an ailing newspaper


OS ANGELES — He was perhaps the least famous billionaire in a city brimming with wealthy celebrities. But Patrick Soon-Shiong, 65, a doctor who turned a cancer drug into a multibilliondollar biotech empire, emerged Wednesday as a major figure in Los Angeles life with his surprise $500 million purchase of the Los Angeles Times and its sister newspaper, The San Diego Union-Tribune. Soon-Shiong has a long—and sometimes checkered—history in the medical field going back to the 1990s, but has kept a relatively low profile in the political, cultural and philanthropic doings of the city. He now faces the challenge of stabilizing a newspaper engulfed by turmoil and diminished in resources. His is an immigrant’s tale that captures the story of Los Angeles today: a Chinese doctor who was raised in South Africa before coming to Los Angeles to make his fortune. He is worth an estimated $8 billion, and has been called the richest man in Los Angeles. He is a part owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, having bought Magic Johnson’s 4.5 percent stake in the team in 2010 before setting his sights on what friends said he viewed as the ultimate prize of social cachet: the 136-yearold, award-winning newspaper that has long displayed the city’s ambitions to the world.

Soon-Shiong was already a major shareholder at the newspaper, joining the board of Tribune Publishing, which later became known as Tronc, in May 2016. In purchasing the Times, he has accomplished what eluded some of the most established business leaders here who have flirted for years with buying it—Eli Broad, David Geffen and Austin Beutner among them. Unlike Broad, who can regularly be seen in the Founders Room at the Los Angeles Opera, or Beutner, a deputy mayor who ran briefly for mayor, or Geffen, who recently donated $150 million to rebuild the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Soon-Shiong has left a relatively light footprint on the city’s civic life. Still, Soon-Shiong can be spotted in his courtside seats at Lakers games, and often invites players to his huge compound in Brentwood to shoot hoops in his underground gymnasium. “To this day, basketball is the thing that keeps me sane,” he said in an interview in 2016 for an oral history project at the Smithsonian. He has a reputation among business leaders as being polite, charming and brilliant—particularly when talking about the latest advances in cancer treatment. But he is also known as an aggressive self-promoter and an impulsive businessman. New York Times News Service

The World BusinessMirror

BOE sees need for rate hikes


he Bank of England lifted its forecasts for economic growth and suggested it may need to raise interest rates faster than previously indicated. The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), led by Governor Mark Carney, sees the UK growing quicker than its sustainable pace through 2020, meaning there’s a greater risk of overheating. Inflation is projected to remain above the 2 percent target under the current yield curve, which prices in about three quarter-point hikes over the next three years. The MPC agreed that “monetary policy would need to be tightened somewhat earlier and by a somewhat greater degree over the forecast period than anticipated at the time of the November report,” according to the minutes of its latest meeting published on Thursday. The pound jumped after the announcement and was up 0.8 percent to $1.3995 as of 12:03 p.m. London time. The comments may fan market expectations of a rate hike as soon as May. Bets on such a move increased in the run up to the February decision and a number of economists also now see an increase in the first half of the year. The new outlook from the BOE came as it left the benchmark interest rate unchanged at 0.5 percent. The vote was unanimous, though there was speculation that one or two of the nine policy makers would vote for a hike. In its updated forecasts, the BOE sees growth at 1.8 percent this year and next, up from its November projections. While consumption will remain weak and Brexit is damping investment, global demand is helping UK trade, it said.

Brexit Uncertainty

Policy makers also reiterated that a range

of Brexit outcomes are still possible. Those developments “remain the most significant influence on, and source of uncertainty about, the economic outlook,” they said in the Inflation Report. The central bank cut its estimate of the equilibrium unemployment rate, or the lowest level of joblessness that won’t trigger quicker wage gains, to about 4.25 percent from 4.5 percent. The current rate is 4.3 percent. It warned there’s little spare capacity left to burn, and the economy’s speed limit, or the rate it can expand without fanning inflation, has dropped to about 1.5 percent since the Brexit vote. Because of that, all the slack left in the economy will be eroded within two years and excess demand will then start to build.

Goal Horizon

Since the vote to leave the European Union in June 2016, the BOE has said it could tolerate faster inflation driven by the weaker pound to support growth. While it had previously stretched its horizon, seeking to return inflation to target over three years, the stronger growth projection means they are now aiming to get inflation to the goal in two years. In a letter to Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond explaining why the inflation rate had deviated from target, Carney wrote “the prospect of a greater degree of excess demand” had “further diminished the tradeoff” that policy makers could accept. The economy’s scope to comfortably expand has been curtailed because of weak productivity over the past decade. Brexit has added an additional pressure by suppressing investment. The bank sees inflation at 2.2 percent in the first quarter of 2020—above the 2 percent goal—further indicating it will need to tighten policy faster. Bloomberg News

Sunday, February 11, 2018


Gains on Wall Street subside as investors grow cautious


tocks fell Wednesday in a seesaw trading session, as markets sought direction after several tumultuous days of trading.

A f ter reg ister i ng a 1.7 per cent ga i n on Tuesd ay, t he St a nd a rd & Poor’s 50 0 i nde x spent muc h of Wed nesd ay i n posit ive ter r itor y, led by l a rge i ndu s t r i a l compa n ies posit ioned to c apit a l i ze on globa l g row t h a nd i nvestors hu nt i ng for potent i a l ba rga i ns f rom recent sel l i ng. But slumping oil prices weighed on the energy stocks throughout the afternoon. Crude oil futures closed down 2.5 percent in New York. Exxon Mobil fell 1.8 percent, and Chevron dropped 1.6 percent. The energy sector, which fell 1.7 percent, helped pull the S&P 500 back into negative territory in the last hour of trading. The broad index fell 0.5 percent. Other indexes also dropped. The Dow Jones industrial average slid 0.1 percent, and the Nasdaq composite fell 0.9 percent. Another uptick in interest rates also seemed to dampen what had started out as a relatively decent day for stocks. The yield on the

10-year Treasury note rose to 2.84 percent after lackluster demand in an auction of $24 billion worth of the benchmark government bonds. Yields on 10-year Treasurys, which serve as the foundation for a range of consumer borrowing rates, are near their highest levels since January 2014. The steady climb in interest rates has gained pace in 2018. And it has become a concern for investors who believe the low interest rates since the financial crisis have been a cornerstone of the long bull market for stocks. Interest rates on shorter-term Treasury bonds, such as the two-year note, have also risen sharply. Those shorter-term bond yields tend to be sensitive to changing expectations surrounding monetary policy, another source of worry in recent days. Just a few days ago, the Labor Department’s most recent jobs report, which showed the U.S. economy adding a solid 200,000

jobs in January, helped send markets sharply lower. The report also showed wage growth rising at its fastest pace in years. Those developments, on their face, should not be bad signs for the consumption-heavy American economy. But some economists consider wage growth an indication that inf lation could rise. And investors took the wage data as a reason to worry that the Federal Reserve could raise interest rates more quickly than policymakers had previously suggested. Stocks fell sharply when the January jobs report was issued on Friday. The sell-off gathered force on Monday when the S&P 500 fell 4.1 percent, its biggest single-day drop since August 2011. The selloff briefly spread through global markets. But a solid performance by markets in the US on Tuesday seemed to cool the fire. With markets in positive territory early Wednesday, President Donald Trump broke his silence on stock market volatility, posting a message on Twitter that promoted the health of the American economy and calling the recent sell-off a “ big mistake.” “ We h ave so muc h good ( g reat) news about t he econo my! ” Tr u mp w rote.

The American economy does indeed appear to have significant momentum. At 4.1 percent, the unemployment rate is low. And the gross domestic product grew at an annual clip of 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter. Recent corporate earnings reports have been solid, with several companies outlining plans to increase investment, in part because of the tax code overhaul that became law in December. Industrial companies are also piggybacking on that economic strength both in the United States and abroad. Ball Corp., a maker of metal packaging like beer cans, was one of the best-performing stocks in the S&P 500 on Wednesday. Shares in Ball, which has plants around the world, rose sharply after the company reported favorable earnings results and cited momentum in its business supplying the aerospace industry. Other large industrial companies, such as Boeing, also rose, helping to lift indexes. “As we look forward, the market drivers of better economic prospects and higher profits have not changed at all,” Steven M. Duryee, a portfolio manager at Morgan Stanley’s Bergman Continuum Group, a wealth management firm, said in an email to clients. New York TImes News Service

Science • Editor: Lyn Resurreccion

Aklan State U highlights R&D on renewable energy By Jun N. Aguirre Correspondent


ANGA, Aklan—The Aklan State University (ASU), considered for its excellence in agriculture programs in Western Visayas, is focusing on research and development (R&D) in renewable energy. ASU President Danilo Abayon said that the renewable-energy program includes that from ocean wave and bioethanol from nipa, among others. Science Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña, who visited ASU New Washington Campus last week, announced that the Department of Science and Technology is giving around P73-million fund for a twoyear research on the fabrication of a boat fueled by both ocean-wave energy and gas. Besides ocean-wave energy, Abayon said the ASU is collaborating with the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) in Ilocos Norte for a research on bioethanol from nipa. “The MMSU collaboration has a huge funding of P150 million for bioenergy project. ASU is committed to do research on bioethanol from nipa in Aklan,” he said. It was learned that both Sens. Loren B. Legarda and Sherwin T. Gatchalian have expressed support for the project. “In the ASU, we still have more research and development initiatives, but we are awaiting official collaboration through a public-private partnership,” Abayon said.

10 small steps to a healthier heart


ardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the No. 1 causes of deaths in the world accounting to 17.7 million people dying of the disorder of the heart and blood vessels every year. Though a leading global killer, most CVDs can be prevented by addressing risk factors, such as tobacco use, unhealthy diet and obesity, physical inactivity and harmful consumption of alcohol, Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said. As February is celebrated as Heart Health Month, the need to protect the heart should be emphasized. The PCHRD said a study from Harvard Medical School suggested the need to start with 10 small steps which people of all ages can easily follow: 1. Take a 10-minute walk. A brief walk is a great way to start the day even if you don’t exercise.

2. Lift yourself up, and some weights too. Lifting a two-pound weight

a few times a day can help tone your arm muscles. When you start to become used to it, you can move on to heavier items by joining a gym as strength training helps condition your heart to be more efficient and better able to pump blood throughout the body.

3. Eat more fruits or vegetables a day. Fruits and vegetables are cheap, ready

available, nutritious and good for both your brain and body. By eating more fruits, you avoid consuming more calories, more sugar, more unhealthy fats.

4. Start your day with breakfast.

Start the day with fruit and whole grains, such as oatmeal, cereals, or whole-wheat bread. Whole grains help lower blood cholesterol levels and lessen heart-disease risk. 5. Hold the caloric drinks. Cutting out one glass of sugar-sweetened beverage or calorie-filled coffee can easily save you 100 or more calories a day. 6. Have a handful of nuts. Having a craving for chips and cookies? Try to grab a handful of nuts instead. Walnuts, almonds, peanuts and other nuts contain unsaturated fats, which are the good guys. You can also add them to salads for a healthful and tasty crunch. 7. Check what’s under the sea. Eat fish and other types of seafood instead of red meat once a week. It’s good for the heart, the brain and the waistline. 8. Breathe calmly and deeply. Take time gather your thoughts and breathe. Slow and deep breathing may also help lower blood pressure and calm your mind. 9. Wash your hands.  Washing your hands with soap and water regularly is a great way to protect your heart and health. Flu, pneumonia, colds and other infections can have an impact on your heart. 10.Take it easy. When life gives you lemons, try tapping into other positive emotions. Positivity has been linked with better health, longer life and greater well-being, the same way anger, worry, hostility, and negative emotions could trigger high blood pressure and heart disease. S&T Media Service



Sunday, February 11, 2018 A5

Scholarships granted to Marawi students and S&T professionals


ore than 200 students and science and technology (S&T) professionals displaced during the five-month Marawi siege last year will now see a brighter future as the Department of Science and Technology-Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI) has committed scholarship grants in support of the rehabilitation efforts in Marawi City. The scholarship grant was recently formalized through the project “DOST Bangon Marawi Program on Science and Technology Human Resources Development [STHRD].” In the memorandum of agreement (MOA) between DOST-SEI and Mindanao State University (MSU) System, the DOST-SEI will provide scholarship grants to 225 selected undergraduate students in MSU Marawi City campus. Seen as a “long-term and sustainable solution” to uplift the lives of Marawi residents, the specialized program seeks to assist displaced students enrolled in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) courses at MSU-Marawi, as well as open opportunities for local science and technology (S&T) professionals to pursue advance degrees. “With the heightened need to help rebuild Marawi and the greater Mindanao area, we shall provide opportunities for our children to continue their tertiary studies in Stem and achieve a future that is far removed from the effects of the war,” said Science Secretary Fortunato de la Peña before officials and students of MSU Marawi, and Iligan campuses during the program launch held last month. He said the project is designed to help restore and rehabilitate the city’s human and social infrastructures, especially in the S&T sector. T he DOST Bangon Maraw i Prog ra m i n ST HR D h a s t wo scholarship components, namely, “Sagip Mag-aaral,” which is meant for third, fourth or fifth year students enrolled in Stem

courses at MSU Maraw i; and “Graduate Scholarships,” which shall offer full-time and parttime programs for masteral and doctorate studies. The program assigns 225 slots for the undergraduate courses and 30 for MS (20) and PhD (10) for graduate degrees. SEI Director Dr. Josette T. Biyo said the slots would follow the same list of priority degrees for its regular undergraduate scholarship programs, as well as the same financial benefits. “ We fee l t h at he lpi ng st ud e nt s g e t b a c k t o t h e u n i versit y to pu rsue t he d rea ms t he y h ad before t he [Ma raw i] wa r w i l l prov ide a more l a sti ng i mpac t to t hei r l ives a nd to t he whole c it y— muc h l i ke wh at Nestor h ad e x per ienced when he wa s ou r sc hol a r f rom h is bac helor’s to h is doctorate deg rees,” Biyo sa id. T he grantees, currently taking up Stem courses, w ill receive P10,000 each semester for school tuition; P6,000 monthly allowance; and P10,000 book allowance each year. T he MOA wa s sig ned l a st month at the MSU main campus in Marawi City. DOST-SEI will also facilitate the provision of financial assistance to selected S&T professionals in Marawi City pursuing higher studies in science and engineering in any of the DOSTaccredited universities. Twenty slots will be allotted to full-time graduate students who will receive P25,000 monthly allowance; P10,000 book allowance each year; and P200,000

Airlines seek help for 19-hour flights

Can science beat jet lag?


wave of ultra-long flights that will get you halfway around the world in one hop is pushing airlines to deal with the one extra you can’t escape: Relentless insomnia, debilitating fatigue and tormented bowels, better known as jet lag. Qantas Airways Ltd., which will start the first nonstop service between Australia and Europe in March, is working with scientists in Sydney to discover ways to limit body-clock breakdown on the 17-hour flight. T hey’ve tr ied to make the color and intensity of the jet’s interior lights mimic dawn and

dusk. Cabin temperatures and specially made meals will aim to put passengers to sleep or keep them awake—depending on the time at the destination. The Perth-London route is the latest endurance test as new aircraft technologies stretch the time a plane can stay profitably in the air. Emirates Airline, Qatar Airways and United Airlines are part of the movement, with flights from the Middle East to New Zealand or Houston to Sydney. The delivery of a new Airbus model later this year will allow Singapore Airlines to resume its

Science Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña (seated, center) share a light moment with Mindanao State University (MSU) Marawi City campus students who will receive scholarship grants through the Department of Science and Technology-Science Education Institute program. With them are MSU-Iligan Institute of Technology Chancellor Sukarno D. Tanggol (left) and MSU System President Dr. Habib W. Macaayong (right). Henry A. de Leon/DOST-STII

With the heightened need to help rebuild Marawi and the greater Mindanao area, we shall provide opportunities for our children to continue their tertiary studies in Stem and achieve a future that is far removed from the effects of the war.” —de la Peña

could aid in rehabilitation efforts in Marawi City. “This program will enable displaced students and S&T professionals to get back on their feet and be instrumental in restoring the old beauty of Marawi City,” Biyo said. She also said that accelerating S&T human-resources development in Marawi City could provide long-term benefits for every Maranao. In the years to come, many of these scholars could be scientists, engineers and captains of the industries who would be at the forefront in initiating innovation and projects that could bring inclusive development to Marawi City, she said. MSU President Dr. Habib W. Macaayong, in agreeing with Biyo, said that producing highly skilled professionals, particularly in S&T, could play an integral part to the sustainable development of an area like Marawi City. “We have always mentioned how research and development in the field of science and technology could provide every Filipino a better living condition. On the top of that, we need equipped individuals who would help and lead us to achieve our aspirations,” Macaayong said. Allan Mauro V. Marfal

research grant assistance, plus the amount of the actual tuition of their chosen universities. Meanwhile, 10 slots will be allotted to full-time PhD scholars who will receive P33,000 monthly allowance; P10,000 book allowance per year; and P475,000 research assistance, plus the amount of the actual tuition fees of their chosen universities. Other key components of the DOST-SEI’s initiative include the implementation of the Patriot Project, which, according to Biyo, is designed to “inculcate a deeper love for the country among the scholars,” and the S&T Learning Assistance Program that focuses on capability-development

trainings and establishment of a Learning Resource Center in MSU Marawi. The five-month siege in Marawi City brought massive damages to many establishments, including educational institutions. “ T h i s i s a compre he n s ive program that can help Marawi City bounce back, but the DOST correspondingly looks at this as concrete way to boost the S&T human resources of the whole archipelago. We hope that this sparks the rebuilding of Marawi and of the nation as a whole,” de la Peña said. Biyo shared that many consultative meetings were held in recent months to discuss how DOST-SEI

and Marco D. Melgar/DOST-STII

19-hour marathon from Singapore to New York, an epic stress test for mind and body. Key to the problem is circadian disruption—messing with the internal body clock that regulates everything from brainwave activity to hormone production and cell regeneration. The main cue for resetting that clock is light, said Steve Simpson, academic director of the Charles Perkins Centre, which is carrying out the research with Sydneybased Qantas. But there’s a baked-in biological catch: the clock can only reset by about 90 minutes a day, even in the right conditions. An ill-timed dose of sunshine or a badly chosen snack at the wrong hour can mean days of suffering, he said. “What you can do is make sure you’re pushing as quickly as you can to the destination time zone and getting the timing of things right,” Simpson said. “The way you feel, the way you function— mentally through to bowel movements—is all ultimately controlled by your body clock.” The Qantas tie-up with psycholog ists, nutr it ionists and

sleep experts at the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre highlights an uncomfortable truth about ultra-long-haul jet travel: there’s no way to completely avoid jet lag. But to fill the new long-range jets, Qantas and rivals like Qatar Airways, which flies from Doha to Auckland, need humans to better tolerate the effects of crossing the world in less than a day. For airlines, the stakes are huge. Qantas is taking eight 7879 Boeing Co. Dreamliners and has options and rights on another 45, a total investment of about $15 billion at current prices. Singapore Air has ordered seven ultra-long range A350-900s from Airbus SE, listed as being worth about $317 million each. And it doesn’t end there. As intercontinental air travel becomes affordable to more people outside the developed markets in Europe and North America, the demand for day-long direct flights is likely to rise. Qa ntas has c ha l lenged bot h big pl a ne -ma kers to bu i ld a jet b y 2022 t h at c a n f ly 20 hou rs f u l ly loaded f rom Syd ne y to

L ondon w it hout a brea k . Called Project Sunrise, it would put Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town, New York or Paris within direct reach of Australia’s eastern seaboard, Qantas says. But that sunrise on Copacabana beach or the Champs-Elysees comes at a cost. Long-haul journeys increase the risk of a range of afflictions, including depression and obesity, Simpson said. To learn more, his team will wrap monitoring devices around the wrists and thighs of about 20 passengers on the Perth-London flight on March 24 to see how their bodies cope. On that route, lights nestled all over the cabin will be phased in over 15 minutes to soften the blow from jet lag, said Phil Capps, Qantas’ head of product planning and development. Blue light triggers wakefulness and yellow or orange tones encourage sleep, he added. “To create that natural light on an aircraft traveling many thousands of feet in the air at a very fast speed requires a lot of science,” Capps said. Bloomberg News

Faith A6 Sunday, February 11, 2018

Sunday • Editor: Lyn Resurreccion

‘Saint Thérèse exemplifies life of healing, preaching, praying’

Bishop Jose Oliveros venerates the relics of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux during its visit to the Cathedral and Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Malolos City. Rainier Policarpio/CBCPNews


ALOLOS CITY, Bulacan—A prelate took the opportunity to extoll the life of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux as her pilgrim relics arrived at the Cathedral and Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in this city last weekend, saying she healed many, spread the Good News and lived a life of deep prayer.

“Saint Thérèse granted healing to those who asked for her intercession, she proclaimed the Gospel of the Lord while she was still living on Earth, and she spent a life of prayer in a Carmelite monastery in Lisieux,” Malolos Bishop Jose Oliveros said in a Mass concelebrated with Msgr. Bartolome Santos and other members of the Malolos clergy. He explained some traits of the young saint that the faithful should admire and follow. “Saint Thérèse fulfilled and followed what the Lord has spoken: ‘Unless you become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of God,’” Oliveros added. “She personified a life of a child who is fully dependent to God’s will.” Likewise, Oliveros asked the faithful to seek the intercession

of the “Little Flower” in praying for our priests and consecrated persons that they may become instruments of God in bestowing spiritual healing by proclaiming and living the Gospel and maintaining a deep prayer life. Meanwhile, Br. Froilan Torres, OCDS, a member of the organizing committee of the fourth Philippine Visit of the Pilgrim Relics of Saint Therese, said in an interview with CBCPNews that the reliquary carrying the bones from Saint Thérèse’s right leg is traveling around the world. Torres said this is to satisfy the saint’s promise to become a missionary until the end of time— bringing the Gospel even to the remotest islands. The relics stayed in the Diocese of Malolos and visited various parishes and other institutions

Real or first-class relics include the skin and bones, clothing, objects used for penance and instruments of a martyr’s imprisonment or passion, while representative relics are objects placed in contact with the body or grave of a saint. T he C at hol ic fa it hf u l venerate t he rel ics of sa ints be cause as intercessors w ith God for t he l iv ing , t hrough t heir rel ics—a record of t he sa int— God ma nifests h is presence. “To welcome the relics of Saint Thérèse is to welcome the saint herself,” the primer on the pilgrim relics said. “In the presence of and contact with her [Saint Thérèse] mortal remains, God, who had received from her so many acts of love when she was alive here on Earth, is pleased to manifest His love through the remains of her humanity.” Myraine Carluen Policarpio/CBCPNews

Saint Thérèse granted healing to those who asked for her intercession, she proclaimed the Gospel of the Lord while she was still living on Earth, and she spent a life of prayer in a Carmelite monastery in Lisieux.” —Oliveros

Retired HK cardinal hits back at Vatican over deal with China


EIJING—The retired archbishop of Hong Kong has slammed the Holy See’s negotiations with Beijing as a “catastrophe” that would bring suffering to millions of worshippers, as a bitter dispute inside the Roman Catholic Church over its future in China escalates in a dramatic fashion. Cardinal Joseph Zen warned in a blog post this past week that some Chinese Catholics who follow so-called underground churches are at risk of arrest even while the Catholic Church pushes for a historic breakthrough i n r e l a t i o n s w i t h C h i n a ’s r u l i n g Communist Par ty. Zen, a leading critic of the Vatican’s outreach to China, revealed in a statement last month that the Vatican had asked a legitimate “underground” b i s h o p t o s t a n d d o w n i n f avo r o f an excommunicated one favored by Beijing—a reshuffle that he suggested was orchestrated by church officials

without the pope’s full knowledge. Zen, 86, doubled down on Monday and denounced church officials for betraying Chinese worshippers in what amounted to a highly unusual attack from a clergyman against the Holy See. “Mainland brothers and sisters fear not losing all they have, the prison cell or shedding their blood,” Zen wrote. “Their greatest suffering is being sold out by their ‘loved ones.’” I n a n e x t r a o rd i n a r y e s c a l a t i o n , Zen also criticized S ecretar y of State Pietro Parolin, the official charged w i t h n e g o t i at i o n s w i t h B e i j i n g, a s a “man of little faith” who did not u n d e r s t a n d t h e “ t r u e s u f f e r i n g” o f persecuted Chinese Catholics. The proposed changing of the bishops was the clearest evidence yet of the Vatican’s effort to reach a deal with China, a country with an estimated 12 million Catholics. O f those, about half worship in

Ash Wednesday Mass at Sunshine Place


o usher in the Lenten season, Sunshine Place opens its doors to Catholics who wish to participate in the Eucharistic celebration on February 14, Ash Wednesday. The Mass will be held at the building’s roof deck from 12:15 to 1 p.m.

Sunshine Pl ace, t he Senior R e c r e at i o n Hu b, i s at N o. 56 Jupite r St re e t , B e l - A i r, Ma k at i C it y. For inquiries please contact telephone (632) 856-4144; mobile (0917) 515-5656; or e-mail:

underground churches that recognize only Rome as their highest authority while the rest belong to state-authorized churches with clergy named by Beijing. The Vatican, particularly under Pope Francis, has been keen to reach a deal with the Chinese government and unite the churches. A sticking point in secret negotiations over at least the past year has concerned whether Rome or Beijing has final say over bishop appointments. China’s Foreign Ministr y has said the government supports dialogue and advancing ties with the Vatican on the basis of “relevant principles”—a likely reference to Beijing holding final say over appointments. Zen said the Vatican had “given in” to the Communist Party by seeking to replace Shantou Bishop Peter Zhuang Jianjian with Bishop Joseph Huang Bingzhang, who is backed by the state. Last month he disclosed the behindthe-scenes discussions to replace bishops and said he had been so upset that he traveled to Rome to raise objections with Francis. “Priests and congregants will have many long nights of suffering over the prospec t of obeying and respec ting those priests who were illegitimate today but will be legitimized by the Holy See tomorrow, having been approved by the government,” Zen wrote. A p ro - d e m o c r a c y a d vo c a t e a n d longtime critic of the Chinese government, Zen appeared to suggest that China

By Corazon Damo-Santiago


h e b e a u t i f u l L a d y o f Lo u rd e s, Bernadette Soubirous, the hallowed cave on a huge cliff of Massabielle at the foothills of Pyrenees mountain range, which separate France and Spain—these will forever be associated with the celebrated appearances of the Blessed Mother in 1858. H o l y M o t h e r C h u rc h re co g n i ze d B e rn a d e t te a s a sa i nt o f h u m il i t y, simplicity, common sense and Our Lady’s Little Confidante. Of the Blessed Mother, Bernadette said: “She is so beautiful that when one had seen her, it is impossible to love anything else on Earth.”

First apparition

Girls dressed as Saint Thérèse of Lisieux join a procession with the relics of the saint in Meycauayan, Bulacan.

before its transfer to the Diocese of Kalookan on February 8. The pilgrim relics of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus arrived on January 12, its fourth time in the Philippines. It will visit over 40 dioceses from Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao until May 31. The pilgrim relics of Saint Thérèse have visited the Philippines in 2000, 2008 and 2013. Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, also called Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, was born on January 2, 1873, in Alençon, France. She died on September 30, 1897, at the age of 24. She is one of the most popular Catholic saints. As a doctor of the church, she is the subject of much theological comment and study. Relics are the material remains of a saint or holy person after death, as well as objects sanctified by contact with his or her body.

Saint Bernadette, patron of ill and poor people

would crack down more unauthorized congregations after reaching agreements w i t h t h e Va t i c a n o ve r a u t h o r i z e d congregations. H e w ro t e t h at t h e g o ve r n m e n t will “stric tly enforce regulations on religion” beginning this month and that priests in Shanghai have warned their congregations “not to attend Mass on pain of arrest.” An official from the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, a government body supervising state-authorized Catholic congregations, said he could not respond to Zen’s claim that Shanghai priests have warned their followers against attending Mass. T h e Va t i c a n h a d n o i m m e d i a t e comment on Zen’s latest blog post. But it said last week it was “surprising and regrettable” that some members of the church were fostering “confusion and controversy.” In an editorial on Tuesday, China’s state-run Global Times newspaper said Beijing and the Vatican would establish diplomatic relations “sooner or later” and that a deal would be “tremendously beneficial to Catholics.” Without directly naming Zen, the paper also rebuked “a few radical religious groups who have no right to intervene in bishop appointments.” “Pope Francis has a positive image with the Chinese public,” the editorial concluded. “It is expected he will push China-Vatican ties forward and solve related problems with his wisdom.” AP

T h e y needed firewood, said Louise Casterot Soubirous, Bernadette’s mother. With sister Toinette and neighbour Jeanne, they had to look for firewood on February 11, 1858. The three girls went first to a road leading to the cemetery, where woods were unloaded and wood shavings were left. Finding nothing, they went to Pont Vieux, down the Gave River, took the forest road and arrived at Merlasse. Passing through Monsieur dela Fitte’s field by the mill of Savy, opposite the grotto of Massabielle, the two crossed the canal with Bernadette trailing behind. Bernadette was taking off her socks when she heard a loud noise akin to a storm. Then she saw a rosebud at the opening of the rock moved. Out of the interior of the grotto a golden-colored cloud emerged, followed by a beautiful lady. In disbelief, Bernadette rubbed her eyes, closed and opened them, but the Lady was still there, smiling. Bernadette got her rosary, fell on her knees, tried to make the sign of the cross, but she could not move her arm. But only after the Lady made the sign of the cross herself that she, too, could make the same. The Lady passed the rosary beads between her fingers and recited the “Glory be...” with Bernadette. She returned to the interior of the cave after the recitation of the rosar y and the golden cloud disappeared, too. When Jeanne and Toinette arrived, they bound into three the firewood they have collected and headed home. Because the two were unaware of what happened, Bernadette shared the extraordinar y event, requesting them to keep it secret. But they didn’t.

Holy shepherdess

The eldest among nine children, Bernadette was born on January 7, 1844. Small for her age, delicate in health, n e a t i n p e r s o n , a t t r a c t i ve b y t h e simplicity and innocence, which shone on her face, she was also truthful, obedient and uncomplaining. She was of happy disposition with little opportunity for play, was not clever, but far from stupid, and lovable —were the qualities, which through the years were made more and more evident—was how Fr. Adolf Faroni, SDB, described Bernadette, who was named after Saint Bernard, in his book, The Story of Bernadette. Her clear rosy skin, dark eyes and pleasant smile attracted people to her. Her father, Francois, operated a flourmill, not a good one though, and her mother Louise were easy going and not at all thrifty. Her parents were goodhearted and God-fearing. Her father would not demand debtors to pay him and eventually they left the mill. So poor, they were given shelter by Louise’s relative—a one-room building, a dark and damp place, which used to be a jail in Lourdes, France. From six months until she was 15 months old, her mother got sick, and Marie Aravat, a family friend, cared for her. When she was 13, she was requested to live with the Aravat family to take care of the children. But she was made to take care of the sheep. Desirous to make her first communion, Mrs. Aravat tried to teach her catechism but gave up, saying, Bernadette did not have “the head for book work.” She could not read nor write. The Sisters of Charity and Christian Education from Nevers accepted her in their school.

Illusions or certainties

Although Bernadette described the Lady’s face as “good and gracious” and so beautiful, her mother insisted it was an illusion. “If it had not been imaginary, then it was almost certainly demonical,” her mother said. After her insistent pleadings and with the support of her sister and friend, she was allowed to go back on the cave on the cliff of Massabielle on February 14. Some children who heard of what happened from her sister decided to join the two girls. She remembered so well the beautiful lady, about 16 or 17, in white robe with a blue ribbon tied around her waist. Her hair, which falls below her waist, was covered with a white veil. A white rosary with a shinning gold chain was on her hand, which shone like the two yellow roses on her feet. Bernadette, who arrived at the grotto first knelt, prayed, then called to her friends, “There she is!” Marie Hillot handed the vial of holy water to Bernadette and whispered, “Throw it at her.” Although the atmosphere felt strange, no one saw the Lady except Bernadette. She took the vial and poured the water on the ground. The beautiful Lady smiled. Bernadette, absorbed by the beatific vision, fixed her gaze at the Lady. Her companions, quite disturbed with the scene, ran screaming for help after the stone thrown by Jeanne splashed into the river. Nicolas, the miller with his wife and sister, rushed and led Bernadette, who was still in a trance, to their house while the other children ran back to town. After the February 14, 1858, incident, news about the apparitions spread and people crowded the grotto if only to have a glimpse of Bernadette. Bernadette had 18 visions of the Beautiful Lady, who identified herself as the Immaculate Conception. She taught Bernadette a prayer on her fifth apparition, which the girl prayed in her lifetime. Among the Lady’s messages were to pray for sinners, penance for self and others, and she had requested that a church be built on the place of apparition. She also led Bernadette to a spring near the grotto, which yielded water for miraculous cures. Desiring to leave the grotto untouched, not one but three churches were built on top of the rock, the lowest, a crypt. The waters from the spring were first declared miraculous on February 25, 1858, and 11 miraculous cures were declared. The healings were attributed to the intercession of the Beautiful Lady, who introduced herself the Immaculate Conception a dogma proclaimed on December 8, 1854, by Pope Pius IX. Bernadette’s last visit to the site was on July 16, 1858, Feast of Mount Carmel, when she knelt far from the rock because it was barricaded.

Incorrupt body

On July 29, 1866, Bernadette joined the Sisters of Charity as one of the 42 postulants. She worked as an infirmary assistant and sacristan. The beautiful embroideries she made were sewn unto altar cloths and vestments. She suffered from tuberculosis of the bones and died at the age of 35 in Saint Croix Holy Cross, the infirmary of the convent on April 16, 1879. Her body was transferred to the crypt of the chapel of Saint Joseph on May 30, 1879. On September 22, 1909, her body was exhumed and found incorrupt. On April 3, 1919, she was redressed and placed on a double casket. In 1925 it was exhumed again and sent to Rome. She was declared venerable by Pope Pius X in 1913 and beatified on June 14, 1925, by Pope Pius XI, who also declared her saint on December 8, 1933. Saint Bernadette is the patron of the ill, poor, sheep tenders and those ridiculed for their piety. Her feast day is February 18. Santiago is a former regional director of the Department of Education National Capital Region. She is currently a faculty member of Mater Redemptoris Collegium in Calauan, Laguna, and of Mater Redemptoris College in San Jose City, Nueva Ecija.

Sports BusinessMirror

Editor: Jun Lomibao |

Sunday, February 11, 2018



By Graham Dunbar The Associated Press

HE most prized Olympic titles in Alpine skiing will be won this month on downhill courses raced only once before, and lined with trees that are sacred as symbols of fertility. Only after the South Korean region was picked as host in 2011 were the wide speed tracks in Jeongseon cut through the forest. The mountain is now a pure competition venue for the Pyeongchang Games rather than a hub for ski tourism. The best downhillers have each had only one World Cup race—in February 2016 for the men, last March for the women—to fully test the jumps and terrain in cold air sweeping down from Siberia. “I think it’s very unique,” said 2010 Olympic champion Lindsey Vonn, who was runner-up in the women’s test race. “There are a lot of elements on the Olympic track that aren’t on any World Cup [course].” All the Olympic speed races will be run in Jeongseon, with practice runs starting Thursday for the men’s downhill race on Sunday. The women race on February 21. They will take different routes down to a common finish area at an altitude of only 545 meters (1,788 feet). Two separate downhill courses had been planned by veteran designer Bernhard Russi, the 1972 Sapporo Olympic champion. He changed direction to protect more of the holy trees. The men’s course starts at higher altitude—1,370 meters (4,495 feet), compared to 1,275 meters (4,183 feet) for the women. It has “a bit of everything,” said Beat Feuz, the men’s world champion who, like Vonn, arrived in South Korea as favorite to take gold. “It’s not extremely steep. It has big jumps. It has technical sections. And it also has gliding parts,” added the Swiss racer, who was fifth two years ago in the men’s test race behind winner Kjetil Jansrud of Norway. A well-balanced course on unfamiliar terrain—it’s now the norm to decide Olympic gold in a marquee event with a tradition of surprise winners. At the 2014 Sochi Olympics, the Rosa Khutor downhill was also created for the games with a single World Cup dress rehearsal. Then, Matthias Mayer of Austria added to the list of men, including American skier Tommy Moe in 1994, whose first career victory made them Olympic downhill champion. Mayer is a contender to retain his title on a course in Jeongseon that, at 2.8 kilometers, is about 600 meters shorter than the Sochi Olympic course. It should take 25 fewer seconds to complete.

THE United State’s Lindsey Vonn competes during the women’s World Cup downhill at the Jeongseon Alpine Center in Jeongseon, South Korea, in March 2014. AP

“It’s a minute-40, so it’s a sprint,” said Steven Nyman, the American who placed third in the 2016 test downhill but will miss the Olympics because of injury. “Fight for speed wherever you can. Fight, fight, fight for aerodynamics.” The women’s winning time shapes up to be just under one minute and

40 seconds, like when Sofia Goggia of Italy edged Vonn by only 0.07 for victory last season. Both courses demand technical skills to maintain speed around sweeping turns and across traverses, before soaring off a long jump down the final slope. “There’s also some interesting side hills on the bottom,” Vonn said, “and then the finish jump is big, very similar to the Vancouver

Harley Windsor: I really want to be a role model to encourage other people that it is possible to do these things. AP


25-12, 7-15, on Wednesday. Undefeated NU, meanwhile, eyes to win No.3 against winless University of the East (0-2) at 2 p.m. For team captain Maddie Madayag, the Lady Eagles need to flash consistency and maturity. “We have to show maturity during games. We need to start strong and end strong,” Madayag said. “I guess it reminds us not to give up until the end and keep on fighting.” The Lady Eagles held a 2-1 set lead in their first game against FEU but lost steam in the end, while against NU, they started flat and fell behind 0-2, found their groove to force a decider but again fell short in the fifth set.

CKSC tops San Beda for MMBL title


By Rick Olivares

T was supposed to be a battle royale—the perennial king of high school hoops versus the emerging power from Binondo. However, the Chiang Kai Shek College (CKSC) Blue Dragons made the finals of the Metro Manila Basketball League (MMBL) a thoroughly one-sided affair with an 80-62 demolition of San Beda recently in the Red Cubs’ own gym in Mendiola in front of disbelieving eyes. CKSC, behind one of the top high school players in the country in John Galinato, got going from the opening tip and never allowed the home team to tie, much less taste the lead in the third oldest high school league in the country—after the National Collegiate Athletic Association and University Athletic Association of the Philippines. The Blue Dragons took the opening quarter, 25-8, and never looked back.

“We jumped the gun on them,” modestly assessed Galinato, who tallied a game-high 19 points to go with one rebound, one steal and one assist. “I’m so happy that we won the championship,” CKSC Head Coach Goldwin Monteverde said. “Seeing the boys work hard and bouncing back from a loss to San Beda last December [in another tournament].” CKSC’s Jason Celis and EJ Agbong added 17 and 14 points, respectively, to their title-winning effort. The Red Cubs’ usual statistical leaders—Even Nelle, Germy Mahinay and Addy Velasquez—were surprisingly non-factors. Nelle, who has made almost every Mythical Five selection in the NCAA and pre- and post-season leagues with his all-around high impact play, saw action for only 19 minutes. He finished with only two points and four assists. He fouled out early in the match. Mahinay, the starting center for San Beda, scored two points in 12 mostly unproductive minutes, while

“A little like Kvitfjell, maybe the last part of Beaver Creek with the high jumps,” said Didier Defago, the International Ski Federation’s test racer on the Olympic course. Defago took downhill gold in 2010, joined by Svindal and Bode Miller on the medal podium. “Maybe it’s a short downhill,” Defago added, “but it can be an attractive downhill.”

Aussie indigenous Winter Olympian inspired by Freeman

LADY EAGLES TARGET FIRST WIN OF SEASON TRUGGLING Ateneo de Manila hopes to regain its winning form as the Lady Eagles take on a hot-starting University of Santo Tomas (UST) side in Season 80 University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) women’s volleyball tournament today at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan City. After absorbing a worst 0-2 start in Head Coach Tai Bundit’s four-year tenure, the Lady Eagles try to avoid a third straight lost against the Tigresses, who split their first two matches, at 4 p.m. Ateneo lost to Far Eastern University (FEU) in five sets, 25-19, 21-25, 25-18, 20-25, 9-15, last Sunday and National University (NU), 19-25, 19-25, 25-20,

downhill in 2010.” Vonn also sees some similarities with Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, where she has won the storied women’s downhill six times. Two World Cup venues with similar dry snow are comparable to the men’s Olympic course. Both of them have suited Jansrud and Norwegian teammate Aksel Lund Svindal.

Madayag vowed to step up, along with fellow seniors Jho Maraguinot, Bea de Leon and Kat Tolentino to get their confidence back. “We, the seniors, have to step up and keep on giving our young teammates the confidence,” she said. They are facing a UST side,which has gained enough confidence boost from a five-set season-opening loss to De La Salle and an easy straight-set win over UE. UST, meanwhile, eyes its third straight win against Ateneo (1-1) at 8 a.m., while UE (0-2) hunts for its first victory against NU (1-1) at 10 a.m. in men’s play.

Lance Agcaoili

Velasquez played only three minutes and did not score. San Beda was led by Ain Obenza with 13 points. Robi Nayve added 12 while Prince Etrata scored 10 points. San Beda owned the boards and were nearly even with CKSC in assists, 13-14, but they couldn’t translate those into an advantage. The Blue Dragons’ relentless attack inside the lane saw them troop to the free throw line 27 times (where they only hit 15 free throws). In stark contrast, San Beda without much of an inside presence, opted to shoot from three-point range, a usual strength, where they only hit 8-of-28 three-point attempts. CKSC shot 46 percent of their field goals while SBC was a poor 36 percent. The Blue Dragons’ first MMBL crown also came at the expense of San Beda in 2015 with a Red Cubs squad that bannered Andrei Caracut, Norrish DeCapia, and Chami Diputado. CKSC then featured JV Gallego, Fran Yu, Shannon Gagate and Jonas Tibayan. The MMBL was sponsored by Darlington, Petron, Freego, Chooks To Go, Cherifer, Molten and Oishi. The SM-National Basketball Training Center National High School Championships will be played from March 18 to 23 at the MOA Arena in Pasay City.


YEONGCHANG, South Korea—Harley Windsor was almost four when Cathy Freeman won her gold medal at the Sydney Olympics in what became a defining moment for Australia and its aboriginal people. It was one of those “where-were-you-when?” sports highlights for Aussies, and one Windsor remembers distinctly. It was the inspiration for him to become the first indigenous winter sports athlete to represent Australia at the Olympics. The 21-year-old figure skater will be at the forefront when the Australian team marches into the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang OIympics on Friday—not as the flag bearer but walking in one of the front-row positions beside the team leader. “It’s an absolute honor to do that,” Windsor said. “It’s very important. I really want to be a role model to encourage other people that it is possible to do these things. It’s not easy, but it’s definitely doable.” Freeman was the first indigenous Australian to win an individual Olympic gold medal when she won the 400 meters in a packed stadium in 2000. Windsor, living with his family in nearby western Sydney, has vivid memories of watching it on TV. “One of my big influences is Cathy Freeman,” he said. “I remember very clearly...such a huge thing. Her being indigenous is a big inspiration for me.” Windsor has Aboriginal heritage on both sides, with his mother’s family coming from the outback of New South Wales state and his father’s family from the far north of the state. “I’ve grown up in an Aboriginal community all my life, done Aboriginal dancing since I could walk,” he said. “Always going back to where my family is from. It’s been a big part of my culture. It’s part of me. It’s what has made me what I am today.” Windsor will be competing in the pairs with Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya, who is trained in the classical Russian technique and has been his partner since 2015. He fell into the sport almost by accident when he was a young boy—his mother took a wrong turn and drove into the car park of an ice rink in western Sydney. The youngest of nine children—he’s 16 years younger than his closest sibling—Windsor loved the sport instantly

and rose quickly through the Australian ranks in his individual events. He was already landing triple jumps by the time he was 12, but his coaches believed his future was in pairs. His biggest problem was finding a suitable partner. Windsor went to Russia in late 2015 in an effort to meet a potential partner after being unable to find the right match at home. Under the guidance in Australia of the husband-andwife coaching team of Andrei and Galina Pachin, they have had to build their routine from scratch, slowly developing their confidence and combinations and gradually adding more difficult elements to their program. They started competing on the junior international circuit in September 2016 and won their first junior grand prix title later that month in just their second competition. In March last year, they became the first pair from Australia to win a world title in any figure skating event when they won the world junior championship. They won their first senior international medal in September when they finished third in the CS Nebelhorn Trophy, becoming the first figure skaters from Australia in 20 years to qualify in pairs for the Olympics. A month later, Alexandrovskaya was granted Australian citizenship and they were formally named in the Australian team for Pyeongchang. There’s been so much focus on Russian athletes ahead of Pyeongchang, with dozens already barred and others appealing their exclusion this week in the Court of Arbitration for Sport because of a long-running investigation into doping at the 2014 Olympics. The IOC expects 168 Russian athletes to compete under the neutral banner of “Olympic Athletes from Russia,” but there could be more late entries depending on rulings from CAS. The 17-year-old Alexandrovskaya finds herself a long way removed from the distractions. “I represent Australia now. Russians is Russians. I’m so sorry about it, of course,” she said. “But I represent another country.” AP



Sunday, February 11, 2018

The other side P

erhaps it was the way of the city for things to disappear quickly and without warning. Rust spread across the metal shutters of the closed down café. The sign that once read Books & Beans loomed overhead like a knocked-out set of teeth, leaving behind a far less welcoming Boo & B ans in its place.

If Cass didn’t know any better, she would ’ve thought that the café had been out of business for at least a year, but that couldn’t be right. She reached inside her bag for her phone to double check Nick ’s text, cursing quietly when she realized she left her phone at home in her rush to see him.

Still, she was relatively certain that this was the café Nick had told her about, the one he had eaten at just a week before and couldn’t wait to share with her. She peered dow n the street, but there were only a few other shops peppering the sidewalk. As far as she knew, there were

She yearned to search for him, to look for him at all their favorite haunts, to find him and make sure he was okay, but she couldn’t leave. If she did, something terrible would happen. Or maybe something terrible already happened and venturing to find out would make it real.

more stores on the other streets in the area. Here, there were most ly single-stor y houses hidden behind large iron gates and a handful of nondescript buildings w ith graffiti sprouting on their walls. Cass sighed, resigned to waiting in front of the café for a few minutes until Nick showed up. He shouldn’t be too long, especially since between the two of them, she was the one who was always late. She rocked back on her heels and grinned as she enjoyed the rarity of her ow n punctuality. Without her phone, Cass had no way of know ing if she was e x act lyon t ime, but she was earlier than Nick. She cou ld even tell him that she got here a few minutes early, though she doubted he’d believe her. Cass watched the people walking on the faded pedestrian lane, looking for Nick and hoping to catch his ex pression once he saw her. She could already hear his mock praise, see the amused quirk of his lips and the exaggerated eye roll he would give her once she told him that she arrived just in the nick of time, but Nick wasn’t among the group of people crossing the street nor the few milling around. He wasn’t any of the passersby and after one too many moments of awkward eye contact, Cass kept her gaze on the sidewalk across the street. She half-expected Nick to materialize if she stared hard enough, as if the growing shadows would merge and coalesce into the shape of him.

Hope thrummed through her, light and painful and real, pushed itself through her veins as her heart beat so strongly that every part of her was shaking.

It didn’t happen, of course, but the longer she stared, the more it seemed like the shadows had begun to reach for each other, as if night didn’t fall but crawled and nestled into the cracks of the street, the spaces between buildings, and built itself upwards. The thought made Cass shudder and she forced herself to look away. She decided to refocus her attention, listening for Nick ’s footsteps instead. He had a way of walking that left the toes of his sneakers perpetually scuffed and she strained her ears for the familiar scrape of rubber against concrete. None of the footsteps sounded right. They were either too light or too heav y, pace always quickening as they walked by her. Her cheeks f lushed as she caught snatches of their conversations. Their voices were loud enough to hear their whispers of “Don’t look ” and “Did you see her?” Cass could only imagine what she must look like to them, a wisp of a girl in front of a closed down café looking very much like she had been stood up on Valentine’s Day, but she told herself that her worry far outweighed any potential embar-

rassment she might’ve felt. The butterf lies in her stomach had long since morphed into something harsher, something cold with claws and teeth and weight like an anchor that kept her tethered to her own small slice of the sidewalk. She imagined the weight pulling her down, tried to shift the image so the weight would also be pulling her up. She pretended she was suspended, the top of her head and the tips of her feet being pulled taut between two opposing forces and she was somehow caught in between. The thought made it easier for her to stand a little straighter. Cass would not fold under the curious gazes sent her way. If she couldn’t be confident, then she’d be stubborn. Nick always said that she wore stubbornness well. Just a little longer, Cass decided. She’d wait just a little longer, which turned into a little longer and a little longer, but she couldn’t shake the feeling that he’d show up. How long had it been? An hour? Two? Thirty minutes? Cass began to tap her fingers against her thigh to the rhythm of a metronome, trying to keep track of the seconds

with each press, but her nervous energy constantly threw her off beat. She couldn’t decide if the action helped pass the time or if it stretched the minutes even further, but the streetlights were turning on. They beamed down on Cass like a spotlight in a play she’d rather not be in. Cass considered heading home, even if it was just to check her cellphone for any texts or calls. Nick had never been this late before, so something must have happened. She dreaded the thought of what his text might say or worse, that there might not be any text at all. Still, Cass was certain that the moment she turned away, he’d take her place waiting. T he stirring in her stomach grew until it felt like something tang ible, like a monster had taken shape and was crawling its way out, using the grooves in her spine as footholds as it hauled itself up before settling at the base of her throat. She didn’t know if she wanted to scream or cr y or vomit. She w ished she hadn’t left her phone, w ished that pay phones were still a thing so that she could call until she got sick of hearing the dial tone or until she heard Nick ’s voice break through the ringing in her ears. She yearned to search for him, to look for him at all their favorite haunts, to find him and make sure he was okay, but she couldn’t leave. If she did, something terrible would happen. Or maybe something terrible already happened and venturing to find out would make it real. Cass shook her head. She refused to even consider the worst case scenario, not only because she had a tendency to overthink, but because any sort of life without Nic k was somet hing she couldn’t fathom. He had always been there, from the moment they met as two kids who hadn’t realized what they’d found in each other yet to every moment after, every birthday, every “I hope we’re classmates this year,” every bad haircut, every study session-cum-movie night, every recognition ceremony, every midnight street food craving, and everything in between. For as long as there was a Cass, there would be a Nick. It was a truth she had long accepted as fact. The streetlight next to her began to blink as if her agitation was contagious. The steady pulses of momentary darkness were dizzying, her eyes unable

The figure was Nick, but he was not Nick. Cass would recognize Nick anywhere, but she did not recognize him at all.


to process her own blinking with the f lickering. She closed her eyes, but felt the f lickering like an external heartbeat. It was almost enough to make her give up completely, but then she heard it—the unmistakable scrape of rubber against concrete, the slight stumble of toes hitting the ground too hard. Hope thrummed through her, light and painful and real, pushed itself through her veins as her heart beat so strongly that every part of her was shaking. Her hands trembled, breath quivered, body spun so fast as she turned on her heel that her soul rattled with the movement. The monster in her throat lost its grip and fell into the depths of her being. Cass could see him now. He kept his eyes trained on the ground, watching his steps as though he thought his feet would stop moving if he didn’t watch them closely. It was ridiculous, but so Nick that Cass released an odd halflaugh, half-sob. She’d kill Nick later for scaring her to death, but right now all Cass could feel was relief. She was about to say his name, but something made her hesitate. The light, or maybe the darkness, warped him somehow. Cass recognized the tilt of his head, the slope of his shoulders, but not stretch of his legs and the sway of his arms. The Nick she knew was all awkward long limbs that he hadn’t quite grown into yet, shy and made up of soft edges. The man walking towards her held himsel f w it h su reness, his silhouette built with straighter lines and held together with a stiffness she was unfamiliar with. Cass would ’ve mistaken his posture for confidence if she hadn’t seen him tugging incessantly at his sleeves, a nervous tick that he learned from his sister. The figure was Nick, but he was not Nick. Cass would recognize Nick any where, but she did not recognize him at all. The man stopped walking a few feet away from her. He took a deep breath as if the air was courage and if he inhaled enough of it, he’d be able to look at her. Cass had been here long enough to know that the air was not courage. It was fear and worry laced with the smell of decay in the city. He finally lifted his eyes to meet hers, dark irises framed by long lashes she had always envied, and whatever courage he had gathered left him in a single reverent whisper of a syllable. “Cass,” he said. She had never heard her name spoken in such a way before, like the tail end of a sigh released after relaxing strained muscles, like the beginning of a gasp after your first taste of sugar. He licked his lips once, twice, sucked in another breath and said, “I can’t believe you’re still here.” “…Nick?” He gave a terse nod. “Yes, it’s me. Of course it’s me,” he said. He shifted his weight from foot to foot and Cass couldn’t tell if he wanted to take a step forward or take a step back.“Jesus, I can’t do this,” he said. “What are you talking about?” “How long have you been here?” he asked. The words sounded like an accusation and Cass f linched at the question. “I—I don’t understand,” she said. Nick ’s gaze softened. He moved forward to brush the hair off of her forehead like he always did when she was upset, but he faltered at the last moment. He kept his hands closer to himself, fingers f luttering for a moment before he placed them in the pockets of his jacket. “How long do you think you’ve been here? Please. It’s important.” She frowned, pushing down the knee-jerk reaction to snap at him and say, “I wouldn’t have been here for

so long if you had just shown up on time.” Instead, her gaze f lew upward as if she could div ine the answer from the sparse stars that punctured the sky. The sun was still out when she arrived, but now night pervaded every inch of the street. Enough time had passed for her to start worrying about Nick ’s safety, but there was no ache in her legs from standing for so long and the streetlights only turned on a while ago. “A couple of hours, maybe,” she finally said. “I’m not entirely sure. I left my phone at home.” “A couple of hours,” Nick repeated, nodding to himself as he accepted the information. Cass was about to ask where he was when he continued with, “Do you remember how you got here?” “The same as anyone else. I walked,” she shrugged. “Well, I ran actually. I was up all night yesterday working on a paper. You know, the one I told you my group mates left for me to cram? Anyway, I took a nap, but I guess my alarm didn’t go off, so I was rushing and you know how I am when I’m in a hurry. I get clumsy and there was just one disaster after another, but I tried to make it here as fast as I could and I, well, here I am,” she finished awkwardly, waving a hand as if to physically cut off her own rambling. When Nick didn’t say anything, Cass f idgeted in discomfort. She hated the heavy atmosphere that settled around them, hated the invisible chasm that kept them separated. She tried for a smile, maybe she just f lashed her teeth, and as carefully as she could, she said, “Nick, what’s going on?” To her horror, Nick’s expression crumbled. With his lips quivering and his eyes squeezed shut, he almost looked like a child,

“…Nick?” He gave a terse nod. “Yes, it’s me. Of course it’s me,” he said. He shifted his weight from foot to foot and Cass couldn’t tell if he wanted to take a step forward or take a step back. “Jesus, I can’t do this,” he said. small and vulnerable. Cass’s first instinct was to place a hand on his shoulder, but she barely grazed his jacket before he started pulling away. “You have no idea. This is all my fault,” he said. “What is?” “The fact that you’re not really here!” he cried. Cass stag gered back as if she’d been slapped. “What are you talking about? I’m right here. I’m literally standing right in front of you.” “I’m going to tell you something and I need you to listen—” “I am listening, but you’re not making any sense!” “Cass!” he yelled, and it was the loudest that he ever raised his voice in all of the years she’d known him. His face was contorted in pain, his eyes like glass. “ There was a car. You weren’t looking. He was going too fast and it—I mean, he— you never even made it here.” “No,” she said, the dizzying feeling was back and the flickering of the streetlight grew frantic before going out altogether. “I don’t understand. Of course I made it. I’m here. I’m right here.” “And you’ve been here, haunting this street every Valentine’s Day for the past five years, Cass. You’ve been dead for five years.” Dead. The word was like a bomb exploding between them, erasing everything but the still-

ness of their silhouettes. Wasn’t she breathing? Heart beating and adrenaline pumping, head spinning with confusion and mouth parted in disbelief? How could she be dead when she felt all the hallmarks of being alive? Except that wasn’t quite true. The tether to the sidewalk still tugged at her each time she took a step. The foreboding feeling that something terrible would happen if she lef t was sti l l there, even now that Nick was standing right in front of her. She watched the shadows, still crawling, still reaching, and realized that Nick couldn’t see them at all. Cass thought of all the passersby, the whispers, their averted looks and sometimes overt pointing. And then she looked at Nick. He was crying freely now, body beginning to quake, tears creating the illusion of fissures running down his face. There was no denying that he was older, only fragments of the Nick she knew left behind. She wanted to comfort him in some way, but she was afraid to touch anything. Clenching her hands into fists, she drummed them against her forehead to reassure herself that she was more than just air. “If all of this is true,” she said, “then why am I still here?” “It’s my fault. All of this is my fault. I’m the one who asked you

Sunday, February 11 , 2018

here. I’m the one who showed up a year later and wished more than anything to see you again. Then when you started showing up, I couldn’t even face you. Every year, I would tell myself that I was going to approach you, but every year you just kept waiting and I kept backing out and spending the rest of the year waiting for another chance,” his voice caught, fingers tugging on his sleeves again like he was trying to shed some of the hurt that the years layered onto him. “And now I find out that you didn’t even know. You’ve been gone for five years and you didn’t even know it. I’m sorry, Cass. I’m so, so sorry.” Cass tried to remember all the time she spent waiting, but she supposed they were all the same. All the memories of staring at nothing, of day bleeding into night, of eventually disappearing until the next year, it all blurred together in a timeless blank. She began to feel cold, so cold, and for a moment she was tempted to reach for the shadows as well, to hide herself in them and stay in the only world she knew. She could stay. She knew she could, but she looked at Nick, lost in his own dark-


ness, and understood. “Nick,” she said. She was unafraid to reach for his hands and this time, he let her. Callouses on the tips of his fingers, pale white scar on his right index finger, and wonderfully warm, this was a part of him that she knew. Cass smiled. “I don’t blame you for any of it and if you really thought I would, then the past five years have only made you a bigger idiot.” His eyes widened and he opened his mouth to interrupt her, but Cass shook her head. “I need you to know that you’re going to be fine. I love you. And thank you.” “Cass?” She did not say anything, simply stared at him, taking in every detail of his face. There was so much darkness now, but the light had not gone completely. For as long as there was a Cass, there would be a Nick, but not the Nick she knew he could be, not the Nick he deserved to be. For there to be a Nick, there could no longer be a Cass, so she squeezed his hands tighter before loosening her grip and taking a step back. She felt a burst of warmth explode in her chest and then she felt nothing at all, disappearing quickly and without warning.

“Cass?” She did not say anything, simply stared at him, taking in every detail of his face. There was so much darkness now, but the light had not gone completely. For as long as there was a Cass, there would be a Nick, but not the Nick she knew he could be, not the Nick he deserved to be.

Tourism&Entertainment BusinessMirror

A10 Sunday, February 11, 2018

Editor: Carla Mortel-Baricaua

International Bamboo Organ Festival: Sustaining the Filipino musical heritage

The Las Piñas Bamboo Organ, one of its kind in the world


By Marane A. Plaza

f there’s one musical entity that truly embodies the rich musical heritage in the Philippines, it is none other than the world-renowned Las Piñas Bamboo Organ in Saint Joseph Parish Church in Las Piñas City. Built between 1816 and 1824 by Fr. Fray Diego Cera, the bamboo organ’s pipes were uniquely made up of almost entirely of bamboo. His apprentices continued to build pipe organs after his death in 1832. After numerous disasters, the musical instrument became unplayable for a very long time. But in 1972, with the efforts of national government and local community, the only surviving bamboo organ was shipped to Germany for restoration. Anticipating its return in 1975, the locals of Las Piñas started the International Bamboo Organ Festival, to truly celebrate the reborn of the instrumental heritage and its astounding sound. Today, the bamboo organ continues to amaze, especially with its annual International Bamboo Organ Festival, the only of its kind in the world. “The first-ever Bamboo Organ Festival was organized by us in 1976. The parish initially owned the bamboo organ, but it was decided that the Bamboo Organ Organization would be separated from the Saint Joseph Parish Church Organization,” shared Leo Renier, executive director of the

Villancico vocal ensemble

International Bamboo Organ Festival. “The reason was to strategically separate cultural activities from parish activities. The bamboo organ has given cultural identity to the people of Las Piñas.” Renier shared that during that time, no Filipinos could play the bamboo organ. Piano teacher and organist Donna Ofrasio became the saving grace of the musical heritage of bamboo organ as she pulled out kids from her piano classes to learn how to play the bamboo organ. One of those chosen children was Armando V. Salarza, currently the Titular Organist of the Bamboo Organ of Las Piñas, an internationally acclaimed concert organist, and the only one left in the country who is certified to teach how to play the bamboo organ. “I started playing piano when I was 7 years old. I was introduced to the bamboo organ at 9 years old. And had my first public performance at 11,” Armando shared. “It was very different for me at first, because when you press a key in bamboo organ, the harmony sustains for a long time, unlike with piano that you need to step on the sustaining pedal


lobe Telecom and Karpos Multimedia open 2018 with an awesome music and art extravaganza that’s guaranteed to get you hyped and ready to jam out with friends. On March 10 Wanderers are set to head on to the Filinvest City Event Grounds in Alabang for this year’s Wanderland Music and Arts Festival.  Now on its sixth run, the loyal Wanderland Community is in for a heightened musical experience with amazing performances by both local and international bands, such as Irish band Kodaline, FKJ, Daniel Caesar, Lauv, Jess Connelly, Quest, IV of Spades, Ben&Ben and Wanderband winners Basically Saturday Night, Carousel Casualties, plus three more acts to be announced soon. There’s even something for art enthusiasts as four Wander artists—JP Pining, Sam Bumanlag, Humbly, and Cholo Cardenas—will showcase their art live at the festival.  As everyone counts down to festival day, Globe wants more fans to get a chance to enjoy Wanderland. Fortunately, 15 lucky subscribers will win two tickets each to Wanderland. The promo is open to all Globe Prepaid or TM customers who have registered to any GoSURF variants from January 15 to February 15. Winners will be drawn on February 16. For every GoSURF promo registered, the subscriber earns one raffle entry per P5 charged. To validate your entries, text RAFFLE REG <Name/Address/Email/Age/ Gender> to 2362. To check the total number of entries, send RAFFLE ENTRIES to 2362. To know more about the promo, send RAFFLE INFO to 2362. All contest winners will be notified by a call and text from an authorized Globe representative.

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saint Joseph Church with Fr. Diego Cera Statue

so the sound would prolong. With the bamboo organ, the harmony sustains beautifully, which is just perfect for church hymns. So playing these two very different musical instruments requires separate and unique techniques.” Immediately after high school, Armando was sent to the University for Music and the Performing Arts in Graz, Austria, as the first-ever scholar of the Bamboo Organ Foundation, Inc. Even as a student, he was specially selected by the Institute for Church Music to teach organ in the Diocese of Graz, as well as in other parishes as part of the institute’s outreach program. From 1988 to 1992, he went on to pursue a postgraduate course (Organ Concert Performance) at the University for Music and the Performing Arts in Vienna, Austria. Today, he teaches pipe organ at the UP College of Music and San Scholastica School of Music. Armando has easily become one of the very few renowned organists in the world, and has become the mainstay of the International Bamboo Organ Festival. “If you study the history of the bamboo organ, Father Fray Diego Cera built the instrument in 1816, and built a lot more bamboo organs in Baclayon in Bohol,

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armando salazar

Argao in Cebu, Loay in Bohol, Dimiao in Bohol and Loboc in Bohol, and just recently, we have learned that they also built some in Santo Tomas, Batangas. This reflects the rich history and culture in music of the Filipinos, as the instrument survived the Spanish era,” Renier shared. ”More than anything, International Bamboo Organ Festival is a celebration of the Filipino musical heritage, history and culture.” The first-ever bamboo organ festival in 1976 was sponsored by the Cultural Center of the Philippines and highlighted Filipino artists. This year its 43rd anniversary

showcases how the festival has grown into a full international music event. It features organists from around the globe, such as Guy Bovet of Switzerland, and Jan Van Mol and Cristel De Meulder of Belgium. World-class ensembles are also going to perform, such as the Villancico Vocal Ensemble, Ateneo de Manila College Glee Club, Manila Baroque Ensemble and Las Piñas Boys Choir and soloists, such as violin player Christian Tan and soprano Stefanie Quintin, to name a few. Resident conductress Beverly Shangkuan-Cheng is also poised to wow the audience. “The only accomplishment we always want to achieve, and could be and have been proud of all these years, is when we inspire new talents to learn the bamboo organ, especially since it represents a very special part of the Filipino musical heritage and history,” Renier concluded. “We hope that through the festival, we continue to sustain the legacy of the bamboo organ.” The International Bamboo Organ Festival will be held from February 22 to 28, with tickets sold at P600, P400 and P200. For more details, please contact the Bamboo Organ Foundation Inc. through 825-7190 and 820-0795, or visit


scape to beach living and the newest tourist destination nestled right at the heart of Boracay Newcoast. Savoy Hotel Boracay is a six-story hotel with four room types that offer the perfect spot for cooling down and relaxing after a day out in the sun. Want to take another step closer to your dream vacation? Visit the PTAA Travel Tour Expo happening today at the SMX Convention Center. This event offers a great opportunity to book and buy at Savoy Hotel Boracay. Avail yourselves a Crazy Colorful Price Cut and get a 40-percent discount with a rate of P4,000 per night which includes a buffet breakfast for two, a head-and shoulder massage, and a 15-percent discount in F&B outlets. Longing for that well-deserved staycation and a day out under the Boracay sun? Take a photo in the booth, follow the Savoy Hotel Boracay Facebook page and share your photo with the hashtag #TTExSavoyHotelBoracay for a chance to win an overnight stay in a deluxe room with a sumptuous breakfast buffet for two. Winners will be drawn on March 12 at 4 p.m. and will be contacted via Facebook message. Savoy Hotel Boracay Newcoast is at Newcoast Drive, Boracay Newcoast, Barangay Yapak, Boracay Island, Malay, Aklan.

Businessmirror february 11, 2018  
Businessmirror february 11, 2018