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PANDEMIC, LOCKDOWNS TEST GLOBAL ENDURANCE OF OVERSEAS FILIPINOS’ SPIRIT A4-A5
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PSEi back in 5K points on BSP moves
By VG Cabuag
HARE prices inched higher on Wednesday, with the main index returning to the 5,000-point level as markets in the United States soared overnight and investors had a delayed reaction to the local central bank’s more aggressive move to pour more money into the market. The benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) gained 253.49 points to close at 5,027.76 points. President Duterte also signed into law the Bayanihan bill, but analysts said it still had little impact on the market trading. “The local market’s rally was primarily due to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’s 200-basis-point cut in banks’
reserve requirement ratio, which will inject more liquidity into the economy as it fights the impact of the Covid-19 spread,” Japhet Louis O. Tantiangco, senior research analyst at Philstocks Financials Inc., said. “The BSP has been utilizing its arsenal lately to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus on the economy, from the aggressive policy rate cut, to the buying of government securities, to the RRR reduction. Investors are appreciating this,” he said. Yet another market boost, per Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III: the state-run pension funds Social Security System (SSS) and Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) have already spent almost a billion pesos to support the stock market.
Meanwhile, Luis Limlingan, managing director at Regina Capital and Development Corp., said the rise in prices was also a result of strong market rebound across countries as investors call it a “turnaround Tuesday.” “US markets rallied 8 percent to 11 percent, with Dow Jones having the biggest daily gain since 1933 and S&P [enjoying] its biggest single-day rally since October 2008,” he said. Foreign investors, however, are still dumping local shares as they were net sellers at P1.66 billion. Total value of trade reached P8.29 billion. Gainers led losers 158 to 44 and 29 shares were unchanged. All other sub-indices gained, led by the broader All Shares index that
Continued on A2
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Thursday, March 26, 2020 Vol. 15 No. 168
P25.00 nationwide | 2 sections 16 pages | 7 DAYS A WEEK
OFWs WORRY OVER JOBS, KIN AT HOME; DFA LISTS 172 CASES
JOVITA BELLEZA attends to her sari-sari store in Barangay Vitas-Katuparan in Tondo, Manila on Tuesday. Before Covid-19 she used to wake up at 4 am and buy in Divisoria most of what she sells. With the curfew and lockdown, she lost half of her earnings from her store. “I hope this ends so our lives can go back to normal,” she sighs. BERNARD TESTA
By Jovee Marie N. dela Cruz & Recto L. Mercene
By Bernadette D. Nicolas
HE Philippine government is in talks with multilateral agencies to secure up to $2-billion funding support as the state expects foregone revenue of as much as P318.9 billion should the economy contract by 1 percent this year due to the pandemic. Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said on Wednesday the government hopes to secure “soon” the funds, to come in the form of both grants and loans. The money, he said, will also be spent to support people who lost their livelihood, boost government’s capacity to combat the virus, as well as to protect the country’s frontliners. “We are currently in negotiations with multilateral agencies for $1 billion up to $2 billion for funding support for this. We have to
realize, we are looking at a drop in revenues. So we have to cover that gap somehow so that we maintain our pace of spending,” Dominguez told reporters via teleconference. “So we are talking to multilateral agencies at the moment to do that. We want to do it early because all the countries in the world are trying to do the same thing,” he added. He said these multilateral agencies include the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), as well as the Asian Infra-
PESO EXCHANGE RATES n US 51.0760
MAKATI’S financial district (upper photo) looks like a ghost town as few vehicles pass on Wednesday, more than a week after the government declared a Luzon-wide lockdown to contain Covid-19. Above, a cleaner works at the departure area of Terminal 2, now empty except for some airport personnel. Philippine Airlines, which operated from this terminal, announced it is temporarily suspending remaining flights from March 26 to April 14, 2020. NONIE REYES
structure Investment Bank (AIIB). Aside from multilateral agencies, the government is talking to bilateral development partners while keeping in mind that other countries are also addressing their own domestic situations, the DOF chief said. Economic managers have also projected a revenue loss of P286.4
billion should the country record a zero-percent growth this year while a contraction of 1 percent would yield a P318.9-billion drop in revenues. Based on the initial estimates of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), the country’s economy could contract Continued on A2
ITH 172 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in 25 countries having been infected with the novel coronavirus disease and two deaths, President Duterte was asked on Wednesday to include displaced migrant workers in the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act that he signed into law later Tuesday. Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) Rep. Raymond C. Mendoza, the chairman of the House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs, made the call, saying, “Their families are sick with worry for their loved ones and have lost their income stream.” On Wednesday the Department of Foreign Affairs said two Filipinos have died and 172 were confirmed to have been infected with Covid-19; but 80 have recovered and 90 are undergoing treatment. The DFA said in some countries, identifying Covid-19 patients’ nationalities is prohibited “to avoid discrimination, and some Filipino patients have asked for strict confidentiality regarding their situations.” Thus, the DFA said, “you will also notice that the DOH IHR numbers are lower than ours because even they cannot get information from official health sources, whereas our posts get info also from the patients, their families and/or the Filipino communities.” At the same time, it noted that information sharing is now global “and what we release will eventually be known in these other countries; we do not want to negatively affect our nationals abroad.” The DFA acknowledged that, “It’s a dilemma we face because these restrictions are also not present in many other countries.” The DFA said they are discussing this issue continually and hope to find a balance between transparency and protection of the welfare of Filipino citizens abroad. “We are also working closely with the DOH to come up with coordinated data to help monitor the conditions of our patients abroad.” With reference to deaths, the DFA said they are very careful in releasing the data “because people also die of other causes, and we do not want to ascribe the cause of death to Covid-19 unless it is absolutely verifiable.” The Bayanihan to Heal As One Act provides a subsidy ranging from P5,000 to P8,000 per month to 18-million low-income households through the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) expanded 4Ps and through the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) Tulong sa Paghahanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (Tupad) and the Covid-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP). Continued on A2
n JAPAN 0.4589 n UK 59.9990 n HK 6.5883 n CHINA 7.2325 n SINGAPORE 35.3076 n AUSTRALIA 30.4668 n EU 55.0957 n SAUDI ARABIA 13.6022
Source: BSP (March 25, 2020)
A2 Thursday, March 26, 2020
With antivirus law, govt priority is giving cash aid to 18-M families By Samuel P. Medenilla
ROVIDING assistance for 18-million low-income households affected by the enhanced community quarantine due to the novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19) will be the government’s top priority in implementing the newly signed Republic Act (RA) 11469, or the Bayanihan to Heal As One Law. In a news briefing on Wednesday afternoon, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles disclosed the InterAgency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has already created a technical working group to determine those who will qualify for the subsidy program. He said the guidelines for picking qualified beneficiaries nationwide for the P5,000 to P8,000 cash subsidy for two months, as stipulated in RA 11469, will be contained in a Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) to be approved by the IATF. Nograles said the JMC is expected to be finalized and released by the IATF within the week. Other sectors of society, he said, will be covered by the other components of the Covid-19 social amelioration program (SAP). Among the SAPs of RA 11469 are: business loans from the Department of Trade and Industry; financial aid for farmers from the Department of Agriculture; and school-based feeding program from the Department of Education.
The law also designated the Department of Labor and Employment to provide emergency employment and cash aid for Covid-affected workers, and the Department of Social Welfare and Development to give out food packs and livelihood to those affected by the quarantine. Nograles said a large portion of the at least P200-billion budget for the RA 11469 will be allocated for the SAPs. In anticipation of the growing Covid-19 cases in the country, Nograles said the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office was directed to transfer P420,585,000 of its funds to the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth). Such amount “shall be utilized to cover Covid-19-related packages of the PhilHealth. The amount corresponds to 50 percent of the remainder of the standby fund under Section 4 of EO 201, per Section 1 of EO 108 (s. 2010),” Nograles said. As of Wednesday, the Department of Health said there were already 636 confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country.
A SARI-SARI store owner in Manila uses a plastic cover as a protective shield from buyers in their neighborhood. It is business as usual but with twice the protection against the coronavirus. BERNARD TESTA
PSEi back in 5K points on BSP moves Continued from A1
rose 117.18 points to 3,065.13, the Financials index was up 54.93 to 1,158.80, the Industrial index added 247.10 to 5,999.63 and the Holding Firms index climbed 265.11 to 4,967.76. Alliance Global Group Inc. was the day’s top traded and it gained P0.26 to close at P6.40, Ayala Land Inc. added P1.60 to P30.70, SM Prime Holdings Inc. rose P1.50 to P27, Jollibee Foods Corp. climbed P3.45 to P98.45. SM Investments Corp. was up P52.50 to P800 and Ayala Corp. increased P20.40 to P460.
SSS, GSIS boost
DOMINGUEZ on Wednesday told reporters via teleconference that the nearly a billion pesos spent by the GSIS and the SSS also provided the muchneeded boost in the benchmark PSEi. “I think so far they have already put almost a billion pesos in the stock market and the results have been that yesterday and today, the stock markets have firmed up and that I understand this morning they have opened up at 4 percent,” he said. “It showed that government institutions have confidence in the stock market and are providing liquidity and a willing buyer.” In a separate interview on Wednesday with Bloomberg, Dominguez also said they will keep the steady hand in the market as they watch out for developments. “As you know, the state funds have a responsibility to future generations as well, so while we are supportive of the market, we are going to do it in a responsible way,” he said. He also said they have no plans to shut financial markets should the situation worsen even after it became the first country to do so.
“There are no plans to do that. We did that initially to make sure that the markets have time to consider the developments. And, so far, I’m told today, yesterday and today the markets have steadied,” he said. Asked how deeply he expects the volatility in the stock market to go, Dominguez said: “We have already dropped almost 50 percent in the stock market so I don’t know how much more you can go but basically you know, this is a trend around the world. And we are not out of the ball field, so basically, we are all there; but I want to emphasize our debt capacity is very strong, our economic fundamentals are very strong and we will take advantage of the return to normalcy.” The country’s finance chief earlier instructed the SSS and the GSIS to “take advantage of low stock prices as well as to support the stock market by at least doubling their average purchase volumes last year.” On Wednesday the PSEi closed at 5,027.76 points up by 253.49 points or 5.31 percent. The PSEi on Tuesday closed at 4,774.27 points up by 30.90 points or 0.65 percent. To address volatility during trading, the PSE said it has been allowed to reduce the lower static threshold of individual stock prices to 30 percent from 50 percent based on its previous closing price. The move came after share prices sank to their lowest in eight years when trading resumed on March 19 on lingering fears on Covid-19, as analysts are talking on the possibility of a global recession caused by the pandemic. The PSEi fell 711.95 points or 13 percent to close at 4,623.42 points, as all other sub-indices ended in the red. The last time the main index was at this level was on January 26, 2012, when it closed at 4,611.68 points. With a report from Bernadette D. Nicolas
WITH P319-B REVENUE HIT, PHL EYES $2-B AID Continued from A1
0.6 percent this year. It could also slow to a growth of 4.3 percent. The estimate was based on the initial days of the lockdown imposed to contain the spread of Covid-19. “Those are roughly the numbers, but at this point in time, we don’t even have a very good estimate of what the GDP is going to look like. According to the Neda, it can be -0.66 percent to +4.3 percent. For sure, almost sure, the revenues from fuel will be down by about P14 billion because of a combination of drop in demand and drop in prices,” Dominguez said. Neda Undersecretary for Policy and Planning Rosemarie G. Edillon earlier told the BusinessMirror a recession is possible for the Philippines although she said they are working for a positive growth. The last time GDP contracted was in 1998 and 1991 when full-year GDP both
contracted 0.6 percent. Prior to those years, the last time GDP contracted was in 1984 and 1985 at 7.3 percent. According to Neda, the country’s budget deficit could also widen to 4.4 percent to 5.4 percent of GDP in 2020, assuming the same revenue effort. However, Dominguez said he is looking at around 4 percent projected deficit ceiling, higher than their initial estimate deficit of 3.6 percent of GDP. In 2019 the government posted a record deficit of P660.2 billion or 3.55 percent of GDP as expenditures outpaced revenues. “Well, I don’t want to give any specific numbers right now because I don’t know how low the tax collections will go. I don’t know how much more exactly we will spend. But certainly, close to probably a little more than 4 percent would be a reasonable number right now. But I don’t want to do that prediction,” he said. Dominguez also said in a separate
interview with Bloomberg on Wednesday that their main concern has now shifted to the survival of the people and supporting the general economy and no longer the opinion of credit rating agencies. “Well, I guess, the coronavirus changed all that. We understand the concerns of the credit rating agencies but, again, I suppose we are not the only ones in this boat. I think practically the whole world is facing the same problems that we do,” he said. While he said the road to A credit rating remains to be the goal, he told reporters they needed to prioritize how to get through this “landslide.” He explained: “You are like going on the road and then you had a landslide. Okay? We will still go on that road but we have to dig our way around or go around this landslide so in the meantime the priority is not the goal but how to get through this landslide that blocked our way.”
OFWs worry over jobs, kin at home; DFA lists 172 cases Continued from A1
Mendoza said DOLE’s March 23 Job Displacement Monitoring Report said 3,169 OFWs were displaced. “We must include OFWs in the Bayanihan Act coverage. Many were displaced due to travel bans and closed borders. Many lost jobs and many OFW breadwinners cannot remit money home,” said Mendoza. OFW remittances, he added, “account for 10 percent of Philippine GDP, keeping our economy afloat. They need us now, more than ever. We cannot let them fall through the cracks.” He noted that the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act does not provide for budget augmentation for livelihood and employ-
ment assistance to displaced OFWs. Still, he said, he said the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) has already provided P87.4 million to some 8,477 returning OFWs from Hong Kong, Qatar and Kuwait, among others. “But the DOLE and DFA social amelioration and assistance programs for OFWs can also be given priority by the President, as these are imperative to address their needs and that of their families,” he said. Mendoza also urged the President to earmark funds for OFW subsidy and to increase its allocation of P10,000 to P15,000 per month for the entire duration of the Enhanced Community Quarantine period. He asked the OWWA to intensify its
income and livelihood programs for returning OFWs. The TUCP also urged the government to fast-track the repatriation process as about 1,000 OFWs are still waiting to be repatriated from Hong Kong and Qatar. “In Italy alone, we have 600 OFWs pleading to be flown home, but the lockdown in Italy does not allow our Department of Foreign Affairs to repatriate them. Two OFWs who have already succumbed to Covid-19 cannot be given proper burial by their family members,” Mendoza said. In 2018 the PSA reported 2.3 million OFWs throughout the world, about 3.8 percent of whom are not covered with employment contracts.
The Nation BusinessMirror
Editor: Vittorio V. Vitug • Thursday, March 26, 2020 A3
Pampanga provincial health chief dies of suspected virus infection stitute instructor at Emilio Aguinaldo College to make ends meet.” The younger Jaochico said his father was offered to work in the “Doctor to the Barrios [DTTB]” program of the government during the 1990s where he was assigned at Calanasan, Apayao, for almost 16 years. He was also offered a scholarship program at the University of the Philippines where he ended up finishing
DR. Marcelo Jaochico (right) was present during the March 13, 2020, news conference presided by Pampanga Gov. Dennis Pineda (center) at the governor’s office at the Provincial Capitol building where the governor announced that a Grab driver who drove a passenger to the province was found to be Covid-19 positive. The driver later recovered from the Covid-19 infection. VIDEO GRAB FROM PAMPANGA PIO By Ashley Manabat Correspondent
ITY OF SAN FERNANDO—A pall of gloom hangs over the Capitol here following the demise early evening Tuesday of the provincial chief health officer due to suspected novel coronavirus (Covid-19) infection. Dr. Marcelo Y. Jaochico, provincial health chief of Pampanga, died alone on his hospital bed two weeks after showing symptoms of Covid-19, the Provincial Capitol said. A medical health bulletin said Jaochico died of
cardiac arrest at 6:37 p.m. He was 56. It was gathered, however, that the Department of Health has yet to release the result of tests to determine if the doctor was negative, or positive for Covid-19. Jaochico was last seen at the March 13 news conference of Pampanga Gov. Dennis “Delta” Pineda at the Capitol where the governor announced that a Grab driver was positive for Covid-19 and the suspension of classes in all levels in the province indefinitely, among others. Jaochico was seated just a seat away from the governor’s left side.
A Facebook post from his daughter Cielo Jaochico said: “You deserve better than this. When you speak of him, please speak only of good words. Please do not remember him as someone who just died because of Covid-19.” Dr. Jaochico served Pampanga as the chief provincial health officer since 2013. He graduated with a degree in Zoology from the University of Santo Tomas. He then studied medicine at the Angeles University Foundation. According to daughter Cielo, “he juggled as a resident at the Manila Medical Center and taught as a sub-
Reds declare cease-fire with govt forces amid Covid-19 pandemic By Rene Acosta @reneacostaBM
HE Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) has declared a cease-fire and ordered its armed wing, the New People’s Army, to halt any operations against security forces as the government battles the spread of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19), which has afflicted a rising number of Filipinos. The halt in rebel operations in response to the call of the United Nations for all warring parties around the world to lay down their arms and concentrate in the worldwide effort to combat the Covid-19, begins today (Thursday) and ends on April 15. “Upon the recommendation of the Negotiating Panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines [NDFP], by way of direct response to the call of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for a global cease-fire between warring parties for the common purpose of fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines hereby orders all commands and units of the New People’s Army [NPA] and the people’s militias to observe a nationwide cease-fire,” said the CPP in a news statement issued on Tuesday night. “As advised by the NDFP chief political consultant and relayed by the NDFP negotiating panel to the NDFP National Council, the broad masses of the people themselves need to refrain from launching tactical offensives to gain more time and opportunity to fight the Covid-19 pandemic and to look after the health
and overall welfare of the people in both urban and rural areas,” the statement added. The cease-fire was adopted by the communist group, three days after President Duterte declared a similar cease-fire with the rebels, halting the government’s offensive operations against the CPP, NPA and the NDFP. The CPP said that “long before” the government declared a quarantine for Luzon in response to the coronavirus, the NDFP and the “revolutionary forces” have been “informing, training and mobilizing the people on how to fight the pandemic.” “The purpose of this unilateral cease-fire is to ensure and facilitate necessary, unhampered and immediate medical, health and economic assistance, support and movement of the people brought about by the exigencies of the current Covid-19 worldwide pandemic that has affected a growing number of Filipinos and non-Filipinos alike,” the CPP said. “This cease-fire is also a gesture toward national unity and based on humanitarian principles in the context of the serious public emergency to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all. Consistent with these context and considerations, the NDFP demands as a matter of justice and necessity that all political prisoners be released forthwith and a general amnesty be issued,” it added. The rebels were hoping that the cease-fire “may potentially contribute as well toward a positive atmosphere conducive to the eventual holding of informal talks preparatory to the formal meeting to resume the peace negotiations.”
“This cease-fire order shall take effect immediately and is not dependent on the issuance of the Suspension of Military Operations [SOMO] and Suspension of Police Operations [SOPO] issued or to be issued by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines [GRP],” the CPP said. Meanwhile, the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division (2nd ID) said that 13 former NPA members have received P688,000 worth of firearms remuneration under the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program, or E-CLIP, during a ceremony on Tuesday. The 13 former rebels yielded after turning over their firearms to government negotiators last year, and were among the 45 former rebels who left the NPA last year. Based on the E-CLIP’s implementing guidelines, those who surrender firearms will receive remuneration, the amount of which will be double the prevailing market value of every serviceable firearm that will be determined by experts from the PNP. Maj. Gen. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr., commander of the 2nd ID, which covers Southern Tagalog, lauded the provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict’s (ELCAC) concerted effort at all levels in pursuing Duterte’s directive to end local communist armed conflict. “The headways which the people are gaining in our fight against insurgency is a testament to our people’s yearning and aspirations for peace, prosperity and development which shall overcome gargantuan challenges, including the threat of this global pandemic,” Burgos said.
Army troops rescue kidnapped physician in Indanan, Sulu
HE military rescued on Tuesday a prominent physician held captive for more than a month in Sulu by Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits, the Army reported on Wednesday. Dr. Daniel Moreno was rescued by the 11th Military Intelligence Battalion under the operational supervision of 1102nd Brigade at the hinterlands of Indanan, Sulu, said Army spokesman Col. Ramon Zagala. Moreno was snatched on February 4, 2020 inside his clinic in Barangay Walled City, Jolo, Sulu, by four men believed to be under ASG Commander Hadjan Sawadjaan, also leader of the
Islamic State in Mindanao. Earlier, Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command commander Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said Moreno was snatched by the ASG, either for a ransom, or for the doctor to treat Sawadjaan, who is reportedly afflicted with tuberculosis. Zagala said information provided by the military and the Philippine National Police led the 11th Military Intelligence Battalion to encounter the terrorists under the leadership of Mundi Sawadyaan at Barangay Bangalan, Indanan. The firefight led to the recovery of Moreno.
“The encounter resulted to a fiveminute firefight, and due to overwhelming [number of] government forces in the operational area, said group was forced to release Moreno before hurriedly fleeing from the encounter site,” Zagala said. Ot her operat i ng t roops of 1102nd Brigade brought Moreno to a hospital for a medical checkup. According to Zagala, Moreno is a prominent internist physician and the owner of the Moreno Medical Clinic and Urgent Care that caters to the medical needs of Jolo residents. Rene Acosta
a Master’s Degree in Hospital Administration (MHA) cum laude at the UP-Manila College of Public Health. Dr. Jaochico met his wife at the Emilio Aguinaldo College who is also in the medical field and currently working as an overseas Filipino worker. Because of his notable service in Calanasan, Apayao, where he made medical services more accessible to
people in remote areas, he received the Dr. Jose P. Rizal Memorial Award. As provincial health officer of Pampanga, he started and even became a part of different projects for district hospitals and health centers. Through his help, the province recently received the Gawad Kalasag for Best Provincial Risk Reduction Management Council in Central Luzon in 2019.
A4 Thursday, March 26, 2020 | www.businessmirror.com.ph
Pandemic, lockdowns test global en Ofw Journalism Consortium | Jeremaiah M. Opiniano Special to the BusinessMirror
Editor’s note: The real identities of some overseas Filipinos interviewed here are being withheld for their protection.
DELAIDE, Australia–Her eyes widened when her Indian employer went straight inside the condominium unit to embrace his six-year-old son: He still had his shoes on. Divina, a Filipino household worker, said she refused to let go of the child and instead asked her boss to remove his shoes. “We had talked about this, sir, didn’t we?” she said she told her employer, a bank employee in Singapore, while still clinging to her ward. “I have to take care of my alaga [baby],” Divina said. She frequently reminds the parents to always wash their hands: her weeks-long refrain. Who would not be reminded of this hygienic habit in that condominium? That residence, found in Singapore’s Orchard Road, has four bedrooms, a living room, a dining area and a kitchen. In each area a 500-milliliter bottle of hand sanitizer is conspicuous. This is because Singapore, on its fifth week of trying to mitigate the outcome of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), is not on a lockdown. Employees still work. Buying groceries is normal as usual. The special child’s mother is with an Indian business outsourcing firm, Divina said, and “always likes to go shopping.”
But Divina’s daughter Babyruth, a graduating nursing student based in Baguio City, is also the mother’s worry. The Philippine homeland is rattled as families are in a monthlong enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) since March 16. Baguio General Hospital (BGH) may soon call Babyruth for reinforcement. “Mama, if I will not do this [go on duty at BGH] and this Covid-19 will spread in the future anyway, how will I be able to conquer my fears?” Babyruth told her mother. “Please allow me to go.” Divina said she went on an online huddle with two sisters in the United States working as a doctor and a nurse. They all agreed to Babyruth’s request. The three siblings pooled money (Divina sent SGD$400 via her mobile wallet account with SingTel Dash) to Babyruth. “Withdraw all of it [the remittance],” Divina instructed her daughter. The latter’s budget, Divina says, is good for up to midApril, the target “end” of an ECQ that had dwarfed the entire Luzon island (and that may soon happen in provinces of the Visayas and Mindanao).
DIVINA is part of the Philippines’s economic lifeline—the 10.3 million citizens scattered throughout the world—that is teetering on a tightrope. Overseas Filipinos don’t know if Covid-19 had struck them before and during these lockdowns in destination countries, even in some countries where life is still “normal,” like Singapore. In their homeland, also on quarantine and with Covid-19 now island hopping, dollar-receiving families are killing time or praying for the early resolution of the crisis.
In destination countries, Filipinos are also witnessing how governments attempt to address the impact of Covid-19 on the host economies. Data released by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) showed there are 25 countries or regions with Filipino Covid-19 cases, the total confirmed numbering to 169 as of March 24. The DFA said 77 of these Filipinos are undergoing treatment while 90 have recovered or were discharged from medical facilities. Two were confirmed to have died. The DFA data revealed that 111 cases are in Asia-Pacific countries; 18 in the Middle East countries; 20 in Europe; and, 20 in the Americas. Of the cases in Asia-Pacific, 86 have recovered or were discharged, 24 are undergoing treatment and one died. In Middle Eastern countries, two have recovered while 16 are undergoing treatment. One death was recorded in Europe while 17 are undergoing treatment. Two patients were reported to have recovered or been discharged. All cases in the Americas are undergoing treatment.
THE Philippines’s so-called ‘modern-day heroes’ are still eking out a living as long as physical distancing and quarantine-related regulations in host countries allow them. If stuck at home or in workers’ quarters, they go online. Many of us working abroad for a long time have withstood civil strife, work-related abuses and abusive employers, natural disasters and many other crisis situations, according to Geronimo Yabut, an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in Qatar. But this Covid-19 pandemic is different, he admitted. Indeed, the endurance of the overseas Filipino spirit is confronting perhaps its biggest test. Data from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) revealed 3,160 OFWs were repatriated, displaced or stranded due to travel restrictions. The DOLE also reported that a total of 3,089 OFWs are affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and the responses of government and the private sector. Of these, majority or 1,560 h ave been d i s pl aced . Mac au reported 795 OFWs displaced; Qatar, 280; Italy, 143; and, Japan, 135. Other markets that reported displaced OFWs were Hong Kong (53), Bahrain (96), Nor way (80), Spain (43), Taiwan (3), Sw itzerland (2) and the Czech Republic (2). But life overseas must go on, says Piedad, a household worker in South Korea, even under this global “war of mass destruction” that has struck nearly 400,000 individuals in 174 countries and territories.
IN Qatar, Covid-19 was said to have first popped up in industrial areas like warehouses, labor camps
and factories, according to Yabut. Yabut, a quality control engineer, said all workers of his Qatari firm’s mechanical, electrical and plumbing works projects live in these industrial areas. W hile he lives with another Filipino at a villa provided by his engineering firm, eight-to-10 foreign workers live together at quarters found in these industrial areas. Only very few Filipinos are laborers in construction projects there, Yabut said over teleconferencing. But there’s still work at his firm. Temperatures are checked; people keep distance with each other and company meetings have also been reduced, he said. “To be honest,” Yabut said, “we are all scared because we do not know who among us are infected.” Meanwhile, in all of Spain, it’s “house arrest,” reveals NiceAnn Teleron of Cebu City. On her first overseas sortie, this language assistant (Auxiliares de Conversacion en Espana) is on her first 8-month contract in the city of Oviedo. But on Friday the 13th of March, the Spanish government suspended a ll classes and non-essentia l businesses. “House arrest” was initially for two weeks, until this was stretched to a month. It could be more given Spain’s rising death toll (2,991 out of the 42,058 Covid-19 cases, as of 24 March). “Fortunately, I still get my allowance as promised by the head of the language assistant program,” Teleron said. Since classes are canceled, “apparently my income is now smaller.” “Luckily, three of my students agreed to continue the classes online. Ayun, tiyaga lang [We have to persevere],” said the 25 year old.
DIFFERENT countries and their governments have adopted various ways to arrest the spread of the virus. The European countries have locked down their airports and their communities a week ago, especially hard-hit Italy, Germany, Spain, France and Switzerland. Others, like Australia were late to respond. It was only last March 23 when premiers of the country’s seven states, as well as Prime Minister Scott Morrison, have started to close nonessential businesses. But schools are still open. “Those in schools have to practice social distancing,” said the prime minister of Australia, which now has 2,318 reported cases of Covid-19, as of March 24. U n i v e r s i t i e s a n d s c h o o l s still are open in South Australia state. That is even if there’s already a confirmed case at a branch of the University of South Australia, in Magill suburb, and two cases at Unley High School in Netherby suburb.
SOUTH Korea, another hard-hit country—9,037 cases as of March 24—had to be strict. Since the second week of March, establishments are closed and foreign workers in factories ordered to stay in their premises while they continue working. These EPS workers have living quarters, supported by their companies, Piedad said. And if you get out and go to a public place here, Piedad adds, “the person will be jailed!” “The people here listen and follow instructions; they cooperate,” Piedad added. France, to note, increased cash penalties for those going out of their homes, according to OFW Tina.
In this handout photo provided by the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) Media Affairs, passengers wait for their flight at the departure area of Manila's International Airport, Philippines on Tuesday Mar. 17, 2020, while the government implements a localized quarantine as a precautionary measure against the spread of the new coronavirus. Land, air and sea travel will be restricted under the monthlong containment. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some, it can cause more severe illness, especially in older adults and people with existing health problems. MIAA Media Affairs via AP
First it was 135 euros; now the penalty is 375 euros, she said. Freshly announced last March 24 by the government of President Emmanuel Macron is a 6-week extension of the lockdown. “Ot hers are hard-headed here,” Tina said. If one wants to get out and buy meals and medicines, one must have that permit: the attestation de déplacement dérogatoire. But even if French authorities still allow people to exercise outside their premises alone, Tina and her best friend and fellow Filipino Carol are now on a week doing Zumba. “But we still eat and eat [lamon nang lamon]!” Dried fish (tuyo) brought from a recent Philippine trip are aplenty in Tina’s home. “[Tuyo is] what is keeping us alive [Iyan ang bumubuhay sa amin].”
in his previous work stints. The 10-year seafarer is supposed to leave last January. But given the discovery of Covid-19 at the Diamond Princess cruise ship that’s docked at a port in Japan, shipping firms have yet to give clear words if operations will continue or resume. R ay mond was supposed to board MV Glovis 5 but the vessel remained on a shipyard. A replacement work assignment came, MV Feyha, that’s set to start April. There’s no word yet from the shipping company, he said with a sigh as his wife is giving birth in five months. And it might be “years,” Raymond thinks, when the global shipping industry and seafaring will normalize. “Many have shut down their operations,” he said citing failed attempts to secure employment.
THE global shipping industry is docked on its tracks. So is Raymond of Capas town in Tarlac, who had been an engine rating, an engine oiler and a motorman
A NOT HER Si ngapore n a nny, Rhiza, is currently on a 2-month vacation from her Filipino employers. She’s locked under the
ECQ directive for the entire Luzon that President Duterte ordered implemented beginning March 17. At her farming family’s simple home, Rhiza heard the rooster crow—a sound she is not used to hear many times in the past 13 years in Singapore. Luc k i ly, her f a m i ly h a s a fa r m to get t heir r ice a nd a pi g ge r y w he re t he y c a n ge t some meat, in Sa nt a Ig nac i a, Tarl ac. L oca l aut hor it ies roam a rou nd, she says. “Mor nings, [t h e y ’r e] b a r a n g a y o f f i c i a l s and tanods; evenings there are lots of pol ice a nd m i l it a r y,” she sa id add ing t hat fa r m ing is st i l l a l lowed as long as t he f ield is beside one’s house. R h i z a ’s e m p l o y e r s , b o t h Fi l ipi nos, st i l l g ive her s a la r y of SGD 6 8 0 e ven du r i ng her v ac at ion. A s she i s bou nd to retur n to Singapore on A pr i l 21, R h i z a w a s told t h at her compat r iot employers a re w i l l i ng to w a it. She is not worried if the Philippine lockdown is extended.
Editor: Dennis D. Estopace | Thursday, March 26, 2020
ndurance of overseas Filipinos’ spirit Remittance g iant Wester n Union had advised its customers to use its mobile app to send money home. “But Hanpass is overtaking Western Union here in Korea during this lockdown,” Piedad observes. Only a few provinces, cities and municipalities under the Philippines’s ECQ coverage have allowed money transfer operators (MTOs), especially pawnshops that are payout agents of firms like Western Union and MoneyGram, to open. All banks are closed in ECQ-covered areas. For many areas with no banks, pawnshops and MTOs are the quickest ways to receive remittance transfers. Seven of 10 Filipino households get their foreign remittances from MTOs, according to the 2018 National Migration Survey of the Philippine Statistics Authority.
“I can easily get another employer; very seldom that families in Singapore do not have a domestic worker or a nanny.” An Indian and a Chinese couple are waiting in the wings, tentatively by August, Rhiza added. Both “grounded” OFWs Raymond and Rhiza though, got a blessing in disguise from the Philippine lockdown: their physical presence at home. Extended days and weeks with their spouses and children is what both OFWs are savoring. Rhiza said she’s using her time to rest.
TINA told her children to economize the P40,000 she sent before the Luzon-wide ECQ came into effect. Thanks to part-time morning cleaning work and a “semi fulltime” babysitting job every 2:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., this former undocumented migrant monthly sends about €700 to her three children from a first marriage. Now with France’s lockdown, the 10-year-old permanent resident is somewhat lucky: she will
still get salaries from the French employer of her “semi full-time” job—because she’s legal. But not Tina’s compatriots, who are cleaners but are undocumented. “No work, no pay for them,” she says. Some of them were accommodated by their employers —to stay with them— because no one’s allowed to go out, Tina explained. For a country banking heavily on the dollars from Filipinos abroad, the current pandemic’s economic wrath on countries will test remitters’ resolve to still send some more. Since 2009 (fresh from the 2008 global economic crisis), the pace of growth of all these cash remittances from Filipinos abroad has gone to below 9 percent. That is, even if Filipinos abroad sent about $247.52 billion, from 2010 to 2019, to the Philippines.
Inflow of cash
THE global spread of Filipinos allows their homeland to spread the risks of possibly lower amounts of total remittance inflows—in normal times.
Now with Covid-19 striking at 184 countries and territories, global and per-country remittance totals are at watch. Filipinos abroad sent about $30.13 billion last year, some $1.19 billion higher given the $28.94 billion total in 2018 (says data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas). However, Filipinos in at least 121 countries and territories sent lesser money home in 2019 than in 2018. The estimated total of the lesser money sent by Filipinos from these 121 states is $1.36 billion. About 22 of those 121 countries and territories combined for $1.33 billion of the total remittances amount sent less year-onyear. And the country destinations whose Filipinos there sent less than a year ago are Covidhit countries: The United Arab Emirates ($442.8 million), Qatar ($249.9 million), Saudi Arabia ($131.7 million), Germany ($97.5 million), Italy ($68.8 million), New Zealand ($59.2 million) and the pandemic’s epicenter China ($43.4 million).
IF countries that currently enforce lockdowns or area quarantines are stuck at home, how can they send money? Friends Divina and Rhiza have their mobile phone to rely on. I have SingTel Dash, said Rhiza, currently on a two-month leave. Before the March 21 advisory of Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower that foreign domestic workers must stay indoors, “good thing I went to 7-11,” Divina said, “to load my SingTel Dash account and send money to Babyruth.” Piedad said Hanpass, targeting foreign workers from five countries (like Filipinos), is “very convenient.” If Filipino workers under Korea’s Employment Permit System (EPS) have a Hanpass account, they can have their remittance to the Philippines debited automatically on a set date, like their payday. But Tina still relies on going to the remittance outlet, like a Filipino store in Paris. “Online remittance is scary for me.”
DURING crises, the Philippine government has built in place its gover nment agencies and their packages of economic and social programs and services for distressed overseas Filipinos. The Philippine government is used to repatriating distressed workers and prov iding other assistance-to-nationals (ATN) ser vices, the latter through the embassies and consulates. As early as late-January, when China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan ordered travel bans, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (Owwa) had given P10,000 cash assistance to individual OFWs stranded in the Philippines. The Filipino workers in Wuhan, China (the epicenter of Covid-19) were bravely sent home by Filipino diplomatic personnel. The same repatriation service was accorded unto the Filipino seafarers and some passengers onboard Diamond Princess. At the moment, the DFA has over- 60 full-f ledged embassies and consulates. Ow wa has welfare officers in 16 countries (including countries with multiple welfare officers given the size of the Filipino population in a certain countr y). Ow wa’s regional of f ices are operationa l; they also work with local government units (especially if they have migrant desk officers) during repatriation and reintegration assistance to returning OFWs. T he Depar t ment of Socia l We l f a re a nd D e ve lo pme nt (DSW D) has some seven so cial welfare attaches who can backstop the DOLE’s 46 labor attaches, the latter found in 30 destination countries.
T HE Ph i l ippi nes i s not l i ke ot her cou nt r ies send i ng out m ig ra nt s, g iven it s orga n i z ed “m ig rat ion m a n a gement ” bureaucrac y to help overseas Fi l ipi nos i n need . Its agencies have even incorporated crisis management in programs and services. Assisting Filipino migrant workers during the crisis brought about by the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS, 2002) and Middle E a st R es pi rator y Sy nd rome Coronavirus (MERS-Cov, 2013) are examples. But is this Covid-19 pandemic the biggest test yet for the Philippine migration bureaucracy? “It is a bit early to state that,” said political scientist and migration analyst Jean Encinas-Franco of the University of the Philippines. “Historically, our migration management system has been resilient given that crises of varying nature have affected
Filipino migrants abroad.” However, the economic impacts of Covid-19 in destination countries will be similar, or even heftier, than the 2008 global economic crisis. Job cuts in these countries are expected. Filipino migrant workers, “especially the undocumented and who are in the formal sector...are in peril,” Franco said. “The Philippine government must start to assess this as soon as possible,” she added.
F O R n o w, t h e l o c k e d - d o w n overseas Filipinos are creating su r v iv ing measu res at home and abroad. Even while Oviedo in Spain only has a few cases, NiceAnn found a way to send a higher remittance amount recently; usually, she sends between P15,000 and P18,000 to Cebu City. “My family needs [food] stock, plus I gave extra help to our neighbors who do not have much resources [walang wala].” Tina, for two years, had been operating a palay-credit business for fellow overseas Filipinos from Cagayan de Oro, taking orders via Facebook. A cavan is worth P2,350; and up to 80 cavans are being sold monthly. But since Cagayan de Oro City’s own ECQ recently, Tina instructed her children to stop rice lending and loan collection. And the sacks of rice on deck at home? “ That’s their [my children’s] supply for the meantime,” Tina said. Even on normal days, “no worries for us,” Rhiza said. Her family has “ lots of palay and pigs.” W hen the spread of A fr ican sw ine fever (A SF) f o r c e d R h i z a ’s h u s b a n d t o slaughter their pigs, “now we have stock of meat; we have our vegetables, too.” Rhiza is even ready when the country’s international gateways re-open and she can go back to Singapore. She was able to buy some alcohol in Santa Ignacia prior to March 16.
‘ YOU R d au g hter ’s a nu rse? ” D i v i n a ’s I n d i a n e m p l o y e r a sked . T he mot her of t he s pe c i a l c h i ld bou g ht 50 0 su rg ic a l m a sk s a nd gave some to D iv i n a . D iv i n a i n t u r n a sked R h i z a to br i ng t hese m a sk s home a nd send to d au g hter B ab y r ut h b y post. “Your daughter can even share these to her classmates who may not have masks,” the Indian employer told Divina. A s of late, Div ina has ta ken to read ing paperback f iction novels. Given how her stomach “works,” she eats little rice but with some meat or fish at lunch time, and then fruits at night. But her ward is not left behind. Yet Divina still smiles to endure all this stress in the world. “Don’t think negatively too much. Do not panic,” she says. “You will only get sick. Don’t let nerves get ahead of you.” In today’s world that Covid-19 overf lowed with panic and negativity, the overseas Filipino spirit is being pushed to the limits. Though many of them and their families have some financial resources, the months ahead for overseas Filipinos— filled with job cuts, diminished incomes and nearly-wiped out savings—will be crucial. But “I am always ready,” Divina says. “ That’s how positive I still am.” “We continue working, whatever happens. That’s how we Filipinos abroad are.”
A6 Thursday, March 26, 2020 • Editor: Angel R. Calso
Let’s stop prioritizing VIPs for virus tests
he Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the great divide between the rich and poor not only in the Philippines but also in other countries, including the US. A Bloomberg article said when something is in short supply, getting it can depend on who you know. That’s true of the Covid-19 test. Bloomberg said: “A striking number of rich and famous people, from basketball star Kevin Durant to Sen. Rand Paul, have tested positive for Covid-19 without showing symptoms of the disease, let alone being hospitalized. That’s led to charges of unfair access.” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio criticized Durant’s team, the Brooklyn Nets, for testing its players. “An entire NBA team should NOT get tested for Covid-19 while there are critically ill patients waiting to be tested,” he said on Twitter. “Tests should not be for the wealthy, but for the sick.” The New York Times: “A shortage in testing has left sick people and healthcare workers around the US without answers. Yet the list of celebrity patients grows every day, raising questions about privileged access. Politicians, celebrities, social-media influencers and even NBA teams have been tested for the new coronavirus. But as that list of rich, famous and powerful people grows by the day, so do questions about whether they are getting access to testing that is denied to other Americans.” The Times said: “Some of these high-profile people say they are feeling ill and had good reason to be tested. But with testing still in short supply in areas of the country, leaving health-care workers and many sick people unable to get diagnoses, some prominent personalities have obtained tests without exhibiting symptoms or having known contact with someone who has the virus, as required by some testing guidelines.” The Times added that such cases in the US have provoked accusations of elitism and preferential treatment about a testing system that has already been plagued with delays and confusion, and now stirred a new national debate that has reached the White House—with President Donald J. Trump being asked at a news conference whether “the well-connected go to the front of the line.” Some of our politicians must answer the same question: Must ranking government officials go to the front of the line? Thanks to social media, the people were appropriately informed who among our political leaders disregarded testing protocols and got priority testing for the virus despite the scarcity of test kits. Reports said 34 government officials, mostly without symptoms or aggravating conditions, have asked the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) of the Department of Health to prioritize their diagnostic tests for Covid-19, including that of their family members, while persons under investigations displaying symptoms waited to be tested for the disease. RITM staffers said they had no choice but to comply when government officials “ordered” the results of their respective tests to be ready within 24 hours. As ranking government officials need to go first, other patients were affected, like Dr. Israel Bactol, a cardiology fellow-in-training at the Philippine Heart Center, whose Covid-19 test results were delayed by four days. The doctor died on March 21. The scarcity of testing kits aggravates the nightmare brought by this pandemic. The Department of Health has its testing protocols, and it knows who should get priority testing. Let’s not give all asymptomatic VIPs the opportunity to be tested unless they display real symptoms. We must use our scarce testing kits wisely. Health experts fear that the pandemic can’t be controlled until every patient who needs Covid-19 testing gets tested. Let’s try to use our scarce testing kits to help save lives and not just to ensure the peace of mind of VIPs. Tests should not be for the powers that be, but for the sick.
BusinessMirror A broader look at today’s business ✝ Ambassador Antonio L. Cabangon Chua
Quarantine thoughts James Jimenez
N article I recently read pointed out that great humanitarian tragedies have given us some of our most iconic literature. From the Great Depression, for example, emerged the Grapes of Wrath; the bubonic plague kept Giovanni Boccaccio homebound and writing the Decameron; and it is widely believed that Albert Camus’s The Plague was based on a cholera epidemic. Most notably, there is a compelling case to be made for the Bard— William Shakespeare—writing King Lear while in quarantine. Clearly, being stuck in quarantine gives a person time to think and if you’re of an artistic bent, that could be a good thing. But we’re not all Shakespeare, and for most of us, time to think only means more time to stress over a thousand different things, not the least of which would be the latest contraction of our breathing space during this lockdown. And if we’re not careful, that stress can be a more insidious killer than even the coronavirus. Unlike the coronavirus, however, we can fight back against stress, by deliberately choosing one thought over another. You can, for instance, consider how our
government—from the national level of government down to the local—is reacting to this existential crisis we are facing. You might also want to ask how we got here in the first place. The last time you voted, why did you choose the candidates you did? Was it because of how they spoke? Was it because of their political affiliation? Did you pick a candidate because of a campaign promise? Or were you swayed by someone’s track record? Did you think long and hard about every single vote you cast? Or did you mark down intelligent votes only for the high-profile positions and just zip through the rest
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OUTSIDE THE BOX
“coma” is defined as “a state of deep unconsciousness in which a person cannot be awakened; fails to respond normally to stimuli, and does not initiate voluntary actions for a prolonged or indefinite period, caused especially by severe injury or illness.”
The economy is in a coma. Simply speaking, when a person is in such a state, there are only two priorities: getting oxygen into the blood and making sure the blood circulates to all parts of the body. A functioning human heart keeps the blood moving, but the key is a mechanical ventilator first widely used in the 1950s with the invention of the Bird Universal Medical Respirator. For an economy, money is the blood or more accurately the oxygen in the blood. There is not much that can be if a human heart stops functioning to pump the blood. Likewise, there is not much that can be done for an economy if transactions are not taking place as in the current lockdown situation.
However, the greatest problem that the global—as well as domestic —financial systems face right now is a lack or potential lack of liquidity in that there is no “oxygen” in the “blood” for financial transactions that are taking place. Currently with India ordering its billion-plus population to stay inside for three weeks, a third of the world population is under lockdown. The US is looking at the potential of 30 percent of its work force being unemployed. Globally, the same situation prevails: the only functioning business is the government. In truth, governments are like “poor” people that live hand to mouth expecting tax money to come in every day to pay for ordinary
of the ballot? They say hindsight is always 20/20, and these are the clear-eyed questions we should be asking ourselves now, if we haven’t before. Rarely has there been a clearer need for us to once again, go over our election day choices. Given that we now suddenly find our very lives, quite literally, in the hands of elected officials, the connection between what we write on the ballot and the quality of governance we get is undeniable and, to my mind, can no longer be ignored. This kind of critical thinking won’t give us any quick solves for the problems we are grappling with now, but with any sort of luck, it’ll help us avoid making the same mistakes in the future.
Misery loves company
In the meantime, one other thing you might also want to take notice of is the proliferation of socialmedia content featuring firsthand accounts—even video—of people suffering from the worst effects of Covid-19. You might have actually shared something like that yourself at some point in the last few days. One video that struck me in particular showed a person on a gurney, violently convulsing, obviously in great pain. The caption for the video indicated that the footage was shot in a Covid-19 intensive care unit,
The funds that the BTr receive from this transaction will fund the government’s public health spending. Once the debt securities mature, the government will repay the central bank the amount it borrowed, with interest. This is not money printing any more than you are taking a cash advance or using your credit card to pay emergency bills. The national government will pay back the loans upon maturity. government expenses. While income taxes are important, it is the crucial sales or value-added tax that keeps governments in business. With private businesses shut down, the flow of VAT stops. Yet, expenses for government workers go on. In theory—bad theory—all the government has to do is print extra cash and the problem is solved. But contrary to all the “money printing” experts, that is not how it happens unless you are Venezuela or Zimbabwe. Even in the age of fiat currencies, governments must account for the cash. Both Denmark and Norway are conducting an auction of US dollars through their central banks to raise local currency. The domestic banks
but nothing in the video itself corroborated that claim. And yet, that unsubstantiated video—which, if we’re being frank about it, could have been not Covid-19-related at all or even faked—had already been shared thousands of times by the time I saw it. I get it. Misery loves company, and maybe there is some value in scaring people into compliance. But with the people already staggering under the mental load of fear, loneliness, and anxiety this coronavirus is dumping on everyone, do we really need more “plagueporn”? No, we do not. We can’t all be Shakespeare, composing sonnets in quarantine, but at the very least, we can refuse to be part of the dysfunctional sharing of disturbing content that does nothing but grind our minds deeper into the dirt of fear. We can instead be hopeful like that Irish Capuchin Franciscan, Brother Richard Hendrick, who wrote: “Yes there is fear. But there does not have to be hate. Yes there is isolation. But there does not have to be loneliness. Yes there is panic buying. But there does not have to be meanness. Yes there is sickness. But there does not have to be disease of the soul. Yes there is even death. But there can always be a rebirth of love.” We’re going to get through this.
will buy their central bank’s US dollars in exchange for local currency. Then the CBs will provide that cash to the national governments. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has lowered the amount of money that private banks must hold in reserve to give extra cash for lending to the private sector. The big policy move is that the BSP will be lending P300 billion to the national government. The Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) will issue debt securities— whether short-term Treasury bills or longer-term Treasury bonds—which the BSP will then buy. The funds that the BTr receive from this transaction will fund the government’s public health spending. Once the debt securities mature, the government will repay the central bank the amount it borrowed, with interest. This is not “money printing” any more than you are taking a cash advance or using your credit card to pay emergency bills. The national government will pay back the loans upon maturity. If necessary, the process will happen again if the government is short on money. Be safe. E-mail me at email@example.com. Visit my web site at www.mangunonmarkets.com. Follow me on Twitter @mangunonmarkets. PSE stockmarket information and technical analysis tools provided by the COL Financial Group Inc.
The calvary of our health workers
Through death to life Msgr. Sabino A. Vengco Jr.
Val A. Villanueva
fter dismissing Covid-19 as something that would simply go away, President Duterte sought and got from Congress additional powers intended to contain the spread of the virus. Congress now allows Duterte to juggle government funds and assets to fund critical programs through the length of the national emergency. Were these extra powers absolute? As they are written, the special powers do not speak of a state of emergency, but more of a monetary management to me. The final version, authored by the Senate and later adopted by the Lower House, bypasses the necessity for a bicameral conference in dealing with the pandemic. But what really strikes me as laudable (if followed to the letter), aside from the financial assistance to be given to the public under the order, is the retroactive cash compensation of P100,000 to public and private on-duty health workers who may be severely infected by Covid-19, and P1 million to public and private health workers who may die fighting the pandemic. The order also seeks to engage volunteer health workers who will be compensated, exclusive of hazard pay. Financial compensation may never be enough to console our health workers’ bereaved loved ones, but it somehow makes up for the snub they initially got from Duterte who, in a public announcement, chose instead to lavish Sen. Bong Go and China with high praises when the government first imposed community quarantine in Metro Manila. “If things deteriorate, I may have to call on China to help,” Duterte even said then. It was a total letdown for the Filipino people who to this day remain anxious about how the government will lead them in fighting Covid-19. Instead, Duterte recklessly dismissed the possibility of an outbreak and delayed action on stemming the outbreak, which has now morphed into a pandemic that is turning the world upside down. Reports spiral day by day of health workers being quarantined, doctors dying, and hospitals no longer admitting Covid-19 patients because they have been operating beyond their maximum capacity. Why? If you’re a person under investigation, the existing protocol is that your condition has to be evaluated. But with the lack of Covid-19 testing kits, you’d be forced to undergo a 14-day quarantine. Likewise, the medical team that evaluates you has also to be quarantined for two weeks until they are cleared. What does this mean? Frontliners have to leave their respective posts for 14 long days for each of the PUI they evaluate. You can just imagine the stress this has placed on the country’s health system. The already limited number of health workers doing patient rounds would be further thinned out. Health experts whom I’ve talked with said that, ideally, Covid-19 testing should be immediately done on PUIs so they could be sent home if found negative, thus easing the pressure on our overburdened health workers and keeping them at their post. At the root of the problem is the lack of vigorous Covid-19 testing done in our country, unlike what South Korea and Singapore have been doing. The Department of Health (DOH) blames the scarcity of testing kits (which House Speaker Peter Cayetano dismissed as fake news), but says that this is now being resolved. I really hope so. While our frontliners have been deprived of Covid-19 testing, entitled government officials and politicians get themselves tested even if they don’t exhibit any signs or symptoms of the virus infection. What’s infuriating is their gall to be home-tested, along with their family
members (while PUIs wait in long, hellish queues in medical facilities before being attended to). The samples from these elected, appointed or ersatz government officials—and their household members—are then marked “VIP” when sent to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) for evaluation. I directly blame these heartless, mindless, soulless politicians for putting their own interests above the people they have been sworn to serve. They have obviously contributed to the scarcity of Covid-19 testing kits and, to an extent, the spread of the virus itself. Over the past two weeks, we have suffered the loss of some of our country’s brilliant doctors, and the closing of the doors of some private hospitals to Covid-19 patients. I just hope the emergency powers granted to President Duterte would truly be used to finally slow down, if not completely, halt the pandemic. Otherwise, all of us should gear up for the possibility that we would have very few healthcare professionals left to administer to the nation. It is simply criminal. Frontliners still continue to do their sworn duties even if they have been coerced to put their own safety on the line by those who comfortably lounge in their blinkered nests. As the possibility of an upward curb stares at the entire world, other countries are bracing for the virus onslaught by directing scarce resources where they are needed the most to save the lives of their people. In the US, top priority goes “to those who have been hospitalized, along with health-care workers, symptomatic residents of long-term care facilities, and people over 65— especially those with heart and lung disease, which place them at higher risk.” According to Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, “Not every single person in the US needs to get tested. When you go in and get tested, you are consuming personal protective equipment, masks and gowns—those are high priority for the health-care workers who are taking care of people who have coronavirus disease.” “In a universe where masks and gowns are starting to become scarce,” warned Demetre Daskalakis, deputy commissioner for the Division of Disease Control of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, “every time we test someone who doesn’t need one, we’re taking that mask and gown away from someone in the intensive care unit.” In the Philippines, Cayetano still denies that there is a shortage of testing kits and personal protective equipment. “Reprehensible” is too light a word to use. When your mayor crows on social media and posts pictures of endless food on the table on her birthday—at the height of the pandemic that requires everyone to stay home—she basically filches N95 masks from the nurses in her city. Each time your representative makes an appeal to people to stay home and scrimp while he sits on a bagful of his pork barrel, he fleeces the ICU staff in your province of countless ventilators. We shouldn’t have come to this, if only our leaders had acted decisively early on to contain the virus. I just hope that the extra powers given to President Duterte would be used judiciously and expeditiously, before he runs out of time to do what is right. For comments and suggestions, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
he last of the seven signs in the gospel according to John is the raising of Lazarus (John 11:1-45), signs that glorify the Father as they intimate the true identity of, and enkindle faith in, Jesus. The raising of Lazarus as a theophany points to the mission of Jesus, whose glory is the conquest of death with eternal life-giving love.
‘I am the resurrection and the life’ For John, the raising of Lazarus was the event that led onward to the death of Jesus. For the act of bringing his friend back to life ironically set in motion the scheme of his enemies to kill Jesus. When informed of his friend’s sickness, Jesus pointedly said it would not end in death, rather it would be for the glory of God. Just like the blindness of the man born blind, this sickness of Lazarus would not be the triumph of sin and its consequence. Jesus was sure of the power of God, of the eternal life he came to share with humankind. And so when he heard that Lazarus had died, he still referred to it as to
a sleep from which he would like to awaken his friend. And he told his disciples, “I am glad for you that I was not there, that you may believe.” Four days in the tomb, Lazarus was gone beyond retrieval. Confronted with the grief and at the same time trust of Martha, who could only blurt out in perplexity: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died,” Jesus made the paradoxical revelation, “I am the resurrection and the life.” Its precise meaning is “Whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” Physical death is just a sleep to one who believes in Jesus, and there
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is a sure awakening from it in the resurrection from the dead. With faith in Jesus one cannot die forever. With Him and through Him, one is in communion with the Lord who is the source of eternal life.
‘Do you believe this?’
The inevitable question to Martha and Mary then, as well as to us all now, is “Do you believe this?” This culminating revelation by Jesus in word and in the deed of raising Lazarus back to life demands a response of faith if its message of everlasting life is to be availed of by us. Do we accept Jesus as our life? Is he to us life that is stronger than death? The process of moving from death to life is started for us in Baptism at which we are reborn to the life of faith in Jesus Christ. Thus, our experience of the resurrection already now is in Baptism, the sacrament of our participation in the Easter victory of Jesus over death. Like Lazarus, we are summoned to pass through and from death to life. Eternal life is ours in the sacraments of our full initiation into the life of communion with Jesus Christ, in Baptism and the Eucharist. For us as initiated in the union of life and love with the Triune God, physical
death is an exodus, a passage to the fullness of our everlasting covenant with the Almighty. Life is constantly threatened by death. The Jews wanted to stone Jesus to death, and Thomas wanting to go with Jesus to liberate Lazarus from the hands of death told his fellow disciples, “Let us also go to die with him.” All who go with Jesus must face death, and Jesus shows us the way: loving all the way even in death is the way to life everlasting. Alálaong bagá, we are challenged to reflect during this late part of Lent, “Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man have done something so that this man would not have to die?” Darkness and death are there to be conquered. And Jesus “perturbed” at the destructive powers of sin and death is there to do battle with evil. And his victory is total and absolute. As we move on in the Holy Week to the fullness of life beyond death on the cross, we must be able to say with Martha, “Yes, Lord, I have come to believe that you are the Messiah”— our resurrection and our life! Join me in meditating on the Word of God every Sunday, from 5 to 6 a.m. on DWIZ 882, or by audio streaming on www.dwiz882.com.
People-centered mobilization central in containing Covid-19 Dr. Rene E. Ofreneo
ovid-19 has become truly pandemic, spreading in all the five continents of the world. As a result, governments everywhere have been scrambling on how to craft appropriate medical, organizational and financial measures needed to slow down and contain the advance of the “invisible enemy.”
In this regard, the country that gave the world Covid-19 is now cited as the model in arresting the spread of the dreaded virus. In military-style fashion, the Communist Party of China locked down virtually the whole of China in the first quarter of 2020. The 57-million population of Hubei province, the epicenter of the epidemic, were also subjected to strict quarantine procedures and kept in isolation from the rest of the country. In February, China was the focus of international aid coming from different countries, including those mobilized by the World Health Organization. Today, the situation has been reversed. China has been organizing medical missions and sending medical kits to the heavily afflicted countries such as Italy and Spain and to its neighboring countries such as Cambodia, the Philippines and Thailand. China’s sin of omission—the failure to communicate to the world for nearly two months (December 2019-January 2020) the emergence of a virulent and contagious virus from Wuhan—is now relegated to the background by the numerous debates around the world on how governments should manage the medical and ensuing social and economic challenges of a pandemic with no clear cure in sight. Policy-makers in many countries are even divided on what to do. The United States, riven by RepublicanDemocratic political intramurals and federal-state jurisdictional issues, is a prime example of a country that cannot get its act together on how to arrest Covid-19. As of March 24, the US recorded a total of 33,400 Covid positives and 400 fatalities. The WHO even warned that the US might even become the next epicenter of the global pandemic. However, in the Philippines and in many countries around the world, the common response is simply to emulate China—that is, lockdown whole areas of a country where there is an outbreak or any indication of Covid transmission, and then put in place testing, quarantine, treatment, tracing and monitoring mechanisms and facilities,
supplemented by endless medical advisories on symptom detection, social distancing, hand washing and observance of good hygiene. Then wait for the epidemic to “flatten” and fade, just like what happened in Wuhan. Containing the virus is, of course, not that simple, as outlined above. The reality is that a lockdown triggers social and economic problems that do not only subvert success in the implementation of the containment strategy but also add new and equally difficult challenges on other fronts. Foremost among these is the massive job and income displacement that naturally arises from a virtual stoppage of work and commerce. A lockdown is a strike against the economy and the working people. In the Luzon lockdown, the plight of the following workers immediately became visible to the mass media—the informal selfemployed (vendors, freelancers, micro entrepreneurs, waste pickers, tricycle-jeepney-taxi drivers, etc.), informal wage workers (viajeros, construction workers, etc.) and the “endo” workers in the formal private sector and the “job order” workers in the government. These informals and non-regular paid workers constitute the overwhelming majority of the labor market. They cannot afford prolonged idleness. No work-no pay means no food-no life for their impoverished families. They can easily be found: in the slum colonies snaking around the archipelago, and in the various tenement and public housing projects of the government. It is now abundantly clear that a lockdown will not work if it is not accompanied by a comprehensive program of social protection for the many, including those in the middle-level income range such as those operating small and medium enterprises. Social protection means insurance against hunger, homelessness, illness and non-enjoyment of basic necessities in life. The problem is that the informals and the precariat (endos and job-order workers) do not have such insurance. Many are not even enrolled in the SSS and GSIS,
both of which are focused mainly in providing limited pension benefits to registered members, not long-term unemployment insurance in a lockdown situation. It is against this background that we welcome the decision of the new generation of Metro Manila mayors and other LGUs to prepare food packs for the poor and near-poor families. But can they do this for three to four weeks? And if the lockdown is extended by another month or so, can the new “Heal as One” budgetary program of Malacañang be able to support around two-thirds of the 110 million Filipinos (meaning those who constitute the poor and near-poor in society)? This is why we also support the courageous decision of Pasig Mayor Vico Sotto to allow tricycle drivers to ply the streets while maintaining the needed social distance in order to enable the poor some space to earn, move goods and procure basic necessities. We also say yes when he negotiated with motel operators to convert some of the motels as quarantine facilities. We also welcome the initiative of Marikina Mayor Marcelino Teodoro to set up a Covid testing center that will provide early detection of the disease to the City’s constituents—for free. Mayor Teodoro’s decision obviously arose out of his anxiety over the prolonged process by which those infected by Covid are being tested given the inadequacies of the Philippine health infrastructures. The queue in RITM in Muntinlupa and other DOH-designated Covid facilities is long, and the results from the testing also takes time, about a week or longer. Which is the reason why DOH itself has taken the decision to allow patients with “mild” symptoms to go on self-isolation at home. Under these circumstances, one can imagine how many among the poor suffering from Covid symptoms have the energy to still go to DOH facilities and have themselves tested and treated. The Korean model: Massive testing, open communication, participation of the health workers. This brings us then to the success of South Korea in managing the Covid epidemic. South Korea is now hailed as a model in managing the epidemic. South Korea was the first country outside China to be hit by the coronavirus, beginning January. It also experienced a sudden surge of infections, partly because of a communitywide transmission in a Korean Church group. And yet, South Korea’s number of fatalities is considered the lowest, 0.7 percent out of the total infected, compared to the 3 percent to 4 percent fatality rate in other countries per WHO study. After reaching over 8,000 confirmed cases, the number of infected is now on a decline.
What accounts for the Korean success to contain the epidemic when, in contrast to China, the government did not adopt a paralyzing countrywide lockdown? Two explanations are reported in the local mass media: immediate decisive action by the Korean government (minimal time lag) and massive testing of those exhibiting symptoms, as many as 15,000 a day, and putting in isolation those with severe cases. What the local mass media failed to report are the following: 1) Restrengthening of Korea’s public health system even before the Covid outbreak. This restrengthening was a response of the Labor government to the failure of previous governments to handle similar epidemics in the past, in particular the SARS and MERS epidemics. One weakness by past governments is the failure to keep the public “fully informed” through a program of openness and transparency. 2) The partnership between government and concerned stakeholders or publics in society in addressing the epidemic. For example, the development of the needed test kits, in massive number, was done on the prodding of the Korean Society for Laboratory Medicine and CSOs such as the People’s Health Movement. Of course, the strong industrial base of Korea enabled the country to meet targets in a short turnaround time. Said PHM: “The acclaimed Korean test system is not the fruits of laissez-faire innovative capitalism and deregulation but an excellent example of tight coordination of public-private partnership and publicization of innovative technology.” The “private” in the PPP includes the CSOs and academics. 3) The partnership has been strengthened by the full support given by the Korean Health and Medical Workers Union, an affiliate of the radical Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, to the government’s program to contain the spread of the virus. The KHMU president has been meeting daily with his officers, who have been assigned tasks in different hospitals to look after the situation of health workers and engage concerned agencies in the better delivery of health services. Many health-care members of KHMU have also become volunteers in “hot spots” or areas with high concentration of infections. 4) The program of testing and treatment of Korea has been inclusive. It covers the migrant workers, including the undocumented. What is the lesson from the Korean Covid story? More can be achieved in combating Covid by enlisting the active support of the people to the containment program, not only in words but in creative partnership arrangements.
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Ensuring PHL food supply during quarantine needs ₧32B–Dar
By Jasper Emmanuel Y. Arcalas
HE Department of Agriculture (DA) said it will need at least P32 billion to improve and sustain the country’s food supply during the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon.
In a statement on Wednesday, the DA said it has already requested for the supplemental funding to “roll out immediate interventions for food production and availability, food accessibility and affordability, and food price stabilization.” Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said, “With this pandemic, there is tightening of global food supply and we know that when there is not enough food, disorder is probable. While improving our food adequacy level, we should aim for food security. If no action is done, the threat of hunger is as real as the threat of the virus.” Dar said the supplemental budget will bankroll the DA’s Alpas Covid 19 program or Ahon Lahat, Pagkaing Sapat Kontra sa Covid-19. The program, Dar explained, is in line with the department’s mandate of ensuring a “food-secure Philippines much more in time of the health emergency period.”
“We should aim for food security. If no action is done, the threat of hunger is as real as the threat of the virus.” —Dar
Under the proposed program, the DA will allocate P7 billion to double the National Food Authority’s (NFA) procurement capacity to increase the agency’s buffer stock to at least 30 days. The DA will spend P1 billion for the upscaling of its market linkage and distribution project dubbed Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita. The DA added that it will use P8.5 billion for its rice resiliency project that seeks to provide farmers with free fertilizer and expand inbred rice production in areas that are not
Members of the Philippine Coast Guard repack sacks of rice at the DSWD warehouse in Pasay City, for distribution to 16 Metro Manila LGUs to help people affected by the Luzon-wide lockdown. ROY DOMINGO
beneficiaries of the existing Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF). “Also following a clustering approach, the Integrated Livestock and Corn Resiliency Project will be allotted P1 billion to enable higher production of livestock in corn-producing areas,” the DA said. “Another P1 billion will be apportioned to the Expanded Small Ruminants and Poultry Project to ensure a n i nc rea se i n t he production of meat, chicken and eggs,” the DA added. The DA said it will utilize P300 million for its Corn for Food Project, to improve corn production in Cebu and Cagayan de Oro. Another P1 billion funds a coconut-based diversification project to allow farmers to intercop vegetables and fruits. “The Urban Agriculture Project to be implemented in major urban
communities will get P500 million, while the Revitalized Gulayan Project will be allotted P1 billion for the implementation of the Gulayan sa Paaralan, Gulayan sa Barangay, and Gulayan in public areas and idle private lots,” the DA said. “For fisheries, the Urban Aquaphonics Project and the Enhanced Aquaculture and Sustainable Capture Fisheries in Inland Waters will get P1 billion,” it added. The DA said it will also provide a P3-billion financial assistance to farmers affected by declining farm-gate prices. The DA will also expand insurance coverage for farmers, livestock growers and fisherfolk to P3 billion. “In addition to the assistance provided by the Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Social Welfare and Development, DA will grant Social Amelioration, with the P3-billion recommended budget, to farmers, fishers and farm workers,” it said. “Also, a total of P500 million will be allotted for the Acquisition of Protective Personal Equipment, such as surgical masks and other accessories to protect DA personnel from Covid-19, while P200 million will go the Sustained Information, Education and Communication Project of the Department,” it added.
Expectant father Koko says sorry as MakatiMed blasts quarantine breach
AKATI Medical Center on Wednesday denounced Sen. Koko Pimentel for breaching the strict protocols of his home quarantine by entering the hospital premises to accompany his pregnant wife while he was awaiting results of his Covid-19 tests. In a strongly worded statement posted on Facebook, the premier hospital said that by his act, Pimentel “unduly exposed health-care workers to possible infection.” This comes at a bad time because the hospital is already under heavy strain to care for Covid-19 patients, and the senator’s presence at the hospital meant more nurses and doctors have to be quarantined, “which will further deplete the dwindling workforce of the hospital.” Pimentel, who on Wednesday morning disclosed he received confirmatory tests that he had tested positive for Covid-19, had claimed he was on quarantine since feeling some mild flu symptoms on March 14, three days after the Senate adjourned. However, he insisted he only learned of his test results late Tuesday evening (March 24) when he was already at MMC. The hospital director Dr. Saturnino Javier, did not accept this excuse. Pimentel was under home quarantine and should not have left his residence, Javier told CNN Philippines. Pimentel pleaded guilty and apologized Wednesday night for joining his pregnant wife as she was scheduled to give birth by caesarian section. “I am very sorry,” Pimentel said in an interview with CNN Phillippines, claiming that “this happened when I still did not know I was positive for Covid. I only got the news at 9 p.m.” Pimentel added, “My movement was deemed essential” as his wife was due for labor. “My wife was giving birth, what am I to do?” He pleaded for understanding, saying, “please do not discriminate against my wife.” He said he called the OB (obstetrician) and left the hospital when told to leave. I really did not know I was positive...I was not coughing.” As of now, he said, “[I am already] de facto isolated, that is the situation.” The senator added, “I appeal to Makati Med to take care of my wife. I also seek the understanding of Makati Med.” Butch Fernandez
With hospitals strained, govt eyes sports complex, QI for quarantine T
HE Department of Health (DOH) is eyeing the Quezon Institute and the Philippine Red Cross to provide the community quarantine facilities for coronavirus disease (Covid-19) patients, an official said on Wednesday, as local governments raced to set up their respective zones and several hospitals declared they had reached maximum capacity for handling cases. Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the move aims to decongest hospitals and to be able to isolate the mild from severe coronavirus patients. She said several identified containment areas have been listed in some local government units (LGUs) aside from the 125 evacuation centers of the Department of Public Works and Highways across the country. “I hope that other LGUs in other regions could look for their own isolation areas,” Vergeire said.
Relatedly, the DOH was urged to consider using the sprawling Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila as “temporary quarantine” and clearing facility to accomodate the rising number of Covid-19 patients and while practically all sports activities have been suspended here and abroad Senator Nancy Binay said local government units outside Metro Manila could also convert their sports centers and hotels as “clearing facilities” for their constituents suspected to be afflicted with the deadly virus. Binay pointed out that the huge sports facility in Manila could be seriously con-
sidered as “one of the better options” to decongest hospitals that already exceeded their allowable bed capacities with the still rising number of suspected Covid patients. “While waiting for test results and as long as strict protocols are followed and biosecurity precautions are in place, I believe sports complexes like the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila can be an option than having PUIs [persons under investigation] sent back to their homes,” she added. Binay noted the sports complex includes the 8,000-seat capacity Rizal Memorial Coliseum, dormitories, an open-air track, baseball and football fields, tennis courts and other indoor sports facilities. “We do not know how long this crisis will last,”the senator said, recalling projections by the DOH that “in 3 to 4 months the PUIs may peak to thousands based on estimates and projections.” If no interventions are done to decongest hospitals and provide alternative half-way centers, “we would have worsened the situation,” Binay said, adding that “it is for the best interest that there should be interventions made to isolate PUIs from the rest of the population.”
Makati Mayor Abigail Binay announced that the Makati Friendship Suites in Barangay Cembo is now ready to serve as an isolation facility for persons under investigation (PUIs) or those with symptoms of Covid-19. Binay said three buildings, which used to be a hotel, have been converted into isolation areas to tend to patients’medical
needs and to prevent the local transmission of Covid-19. She said doctors and nurses from the Ospital ng Makati (OsMak) will be in charge of monitoring the patients at the Friendship Suites. City Hall also formed an Emerging and Re-Emerging Infectious Disease (EREID) team composed of first responders from the Makati Health Department, sanitation workers from the Department of Environmental Services, and members of the Makati Police Department for patient management, disinfection, and security. Medical equipment, including x-ray machines, defibrillators, and cardiac monitors, were set up in the isolation facility. Meanwhile, barangay health centers have also put up their own isolation areas for those with Covid-19 symptoms.
Mayor Francis Zamora said thay they put up a 16-bed capacity Covid-19 isolation zone in San Juan Medical Center. “And we call it Charlie Ward. At this time we are about to finish the 26-bed Covid Overflow Ward, 11 beds for female and 15 beds for males. All in all we have 42 beds for PUIs that need to be hospitalized,” Zamora said noting that not all PUIs are for admission in the hospital, some are for home or self quarantine. He said they are also about to establish a Covid-19 Overflow Building “in one of the new public school buildings that we have. It can house a minimum of 90 beds. This is in cooperation with the Xavier School community.” Claudeth
Mocon-Ciriaco, Butch Fernandez
Thursday, March 26, 2020
Intellectual property filings hit record high
By Elijah Felice E. Rosales
ntellectual property (IP) filings increased over 9 percent in 2019 to hit an all time high, but the government is doubtful this can be sustained this year with firms struggling to cope with the ill effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
10.44 percent to reach 39,399, from 35,672, as firms from various sectors, mostly in the agriculture sector, move to register their goods and services. Further, the IPOPHL reported a 7.16-percent jump in applications for industrial design (ID), to 1,631 in 2019, from 1,522 a year ago. The agency attributed the improvement in ID filings in means of transport hoisting; furnishing; packages and containers for the movement or handling of goods; f luid distribution equipment, sanitar y, heating venti lation and air conditioning equipment, solid fuel; and graphic symbols and logos, surface patterns and ornamentation. Filings for utility model grew
nearly 4 percent to 2,228, from 2,144, with applications coming mostly from food chemistry, basic materials, handling, furniture, games and medicines. IPOPHL data showed filings for patent also slightly increased to 4,024, from 3,962. Applications under this type was accounted for largely by the Patent Cooperation Treaty at 80 percent, or 3,223. “Based on the country of origin, the United States, Japan, and China were the top filers. Top industries for patent claims were in pharmaceuticals; organic fine chemistry; biotechnology; digital communication; and food chemistry,” the IPOPHL said in its report. The only category that registered a decline are copyright de-
posits that dropped by an annual rate of 7.55 percent to 1,862, according to the IP regulator. However, IPOPHL Director General Rowel S. Barba said the agency is still watching how the pandemic will affect IP applications. If there’s any trend that is worth watching, he bared it’s the surge in filings for trading names with the word “corona” in it. “While we hope we could sustain the filings growth, we are still weighing how the Covid-19 outbreak will influence filing activities in the Philippines. We are closely monitoring experiences in other countries to get a glimpse of what to expect,” said Barba. “There is one IP office that is reported to have a slowdown
while one reports a surge, particularly in trademark filings, as businesses scramble to associate their trading names with ‘corona,’ riding on the popularity of the virus. We hope to get a fuller view of its impact middle of this year,” he added. Amid the uncertainty, Barba said intensified work to raise IP awareness is needed more than ever. “Our presence should be truly felt albeit virtually during the enhanced community quarantine period. The current crisis pressures IPOPHL to encourage innovation and creativity to prosper with the goal of creating muchneeded solutions in these trying times,” he added.
The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) on Wednesday disclosed IP filings last year rose 9.19 percent to a record high 47,282, from 43,300 in
2018. The 2018 figure is adjusted from the earlier reported 44,461 filings that year. Per type of IP, trademark registered the highest growth at
Pru Life UK extends premium grace period
Standard Chartered SMC hikes ethyl alcohol production for frontliners gears up for pandemic S S
By Bernadette D. Nicolas @BNicolasBM
mid the rise in confirmed cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) locally and globally, Pru Life UK announced that it has extended its grace period for premium payments with due dates from March 16 until April 30. One the country’s top 3 life insurers, Pru Life UK, said on Wednesday that the grace period is extended from the standard 31 days to 60 days for all of its policyholders nationwide to ensure uninterrupted protection of customers during the Covid-19 health emergency. All payments made within the extended grace period shall be accepted with no interest charges. Pru Life UK Chief Customer Marketing Officer Allan Tumbaga said the health and safety of their customers is their top priority. “Pru Life UK understands their need for peace of mind, and more importantly, continued protection amid the Covid-19 outbreak. We understand the situation faced by our customers, and extending the grace period for premiums payment is one way we can help ease their financial burden and emotional distress in these challenging times,” Tumbaga said in a statement. The Insurance Commission earlier urged insurance companies to provide a more lenient policy regarding payment of considerations to ease the financial burden and to ensure continuous coverage for those affected by the pandemic. These included the extension of grace period for the payment of insurance premiums/contributions/installment amounts and or membership fees by at least another 31 days. This shall cover those fees that remain unpaid during the period from March 15 to April 13 or up to a later date deemed appropriate by the company. The Department of Health reported on Wednesday that the number of people with Covid-19 in the country has risen to 636 and the death toll reached 38. As of March 24, the World Health Organization said the number of Covid-19 infections worldwide went up to more than 370,000 and at least 16,000 people have already died from the virus.
an Miguel Corp. (SMC) said it is increasing its production of 70-percent ethyl alcohol to 100,000 liters per day to further serve the needs of frontliners, cities and provinces nationwide in the fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). SMC President and COO Ramon S. Ang said the company has activated all the facilities of its liquor arm, Ginebra San Miguel Inc. (GSMI), to produce ethyl alcohol—used as a disinfectant and sanitizer—roundthe-clock. Ang thanked the Food and Drug Administration for its quick response in getting GSMI’s Cabuyao plant and the rest of its facilities to produce rubbing alcohol distributed to frontliners. “So far, we have donated 29,300
liters of 70-percent ethyl alcohol to 77 hospitals throughout Metro Manila, as well as the Department of Health [DOH], crisis centers, local government units, law enforcement agencies, and other vital institutions. This is just the start. As we navigate through the challenges, we will continue to provide help where it’s needed,” he said in a statement. He added: “This is our way of thanking and supporting all our brave doctors, nurses, policemen, military, security personnel, delivery workers, employees of vital industries and so many others who are on the frontlines of this battle, saving lives and making sure the system is in order.” Currently, the bulk of alcohol production is being done at GSMI’s Cabuyao plant in Laguna. However,
with other GSMI facilities producing the same rubbing alcohol, the reach of the initiative will widen and benefit more Filipinos nationwide. “Right now we are only able to serve NCR, but we have already mobilized our other facilities to produce alcohol as well for nationwide delivery,” Ang added. These include Ginebra plants in Mandaue, Cebu; Sta. Barbara, Pangasinan; Destileria Bago in Negros Occidental, Cauayan, Isabela, and Ligao, Albay. The government has placed the entire Luzon island under enhanced communit quarantine to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The DOH reported on Wednesday that there are now 636 confirmed Covid-19 cases in the Philippines, 38 deaths and 26 recoveries.
RCBC bond offering oversubscribed
By Tyrone Jasper C. Piad
izal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) announced on Wednesday that its P3-billion bond offering was subscribed by over two times, concluding the public offering period earlier than scheduled. The offer period began Monday and was supposed to end by Friday, but the Yuchengco-led bank closed it after three days. “The Bank decided to shorten the public offer period in order to provide sufficient time for the submission of the documentary requirements in light of the logistical challenges given the enhanced community quarantine brought about by Covid-19 [coronavirus disease 2019],” RCBC said in a disclosure. “This is in line with RCBC’s commitment to restore normalization
in the capital markets and support business activity despite current execution challenges,” it added. Each bond has a tenor of two years and carries a coupon rate of 4.848 percent per annum. It was offered in denominations of P100,000 and increments of P10,000 thereafter. The issuance is expected to be listed on the Philippine Dealing and Exchange Corp. on April 7. Proceeds of the fixed rate bond offering are allocated to finance asset growth, maturing obligations and other general corporate matters. RCBC tapped Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp. Ltd. (HSBC) as the sole lead arranger and bookrunner of the transaction while RCBC Capital Corp. served as financial advisor. HSBC and RCBC acted as selling agents for the bond issuance.
This bond offering is the fourth issuance from RCBC’s P100-billion bond and commercial paper program, appointing HSBC and RCBC Capital as the joint arrangers of the transaction. RCBC first participated in the bond market through its P15billion Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) green bond issuance in 2019. This was followed by two more Asean sustainability bonds amounting to a total of P15.5 billion in the same year. Supported by strong core business, margins and trading gains, the Yuchengco-owned bank ended 2019 with a 25-percent growth in net earnings at P5.4 billion. RCBC shares surged by 40 centavos or 2.42 percent to close at P16.90 apiece on Wednesday, in line with the 5.31-percent uptick for the benchmark index.
ta n dard C h a r tered Bank has adopted several measures to ensure business continuity and employee safety after Luzon was placed under an enhance community quarantine due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic. “We have taken a series of actions to reduce the risks to our people, clients and business activity and are working closely with authorities, while continuing to transact business and serve our clients,” the banking giant said in an advisory on Wednesday. Standard Chartered group is reducing the exposure of its employees to the virus by adhering to travel restrictions imposed by the government and health department. It has also minimized physical interactions by employing work- f rom -home a r r a nge ments, putting up split locations and cancelling or delaying events. Standard Chartered’s offices in Makati City and Quezon City are currently operating with skeletal workforce and on flexible working arrangement than began last March 17. “This is to ensure continuity of our service to our clients while supporting efforts to
halt the further spread of the coronavirus,” the bank said. “We have a well-established business continuity plan for pandemic emergencies such as this.” The bank also reminded the customers that its digital platforms are readily accessible for transactions such as cash management, trade, foreign exchange and securities services. “Despite these challenging times, we continue to invest in our digital offerings and experiences to ensure that clients can do business with us across the globe, 24/7,” it added. This was in line with Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ call to accomplish banking transactions via online channels at home to avoid further transmission of the virus. Apart from Standard Chartered, banks earlier ensured that they will remain operational to serve their customers as they implement business continuity plans. The Bankers Association of the Philippines earlier assured that banks will always make cash available through automated teller machines and digital platforms for payments of goods and services. Tyrone Jasper C. Piad
THANKING FRONTLINERS To express appreciation and gratitude for the invaluable
efforts of frontline health workers and law enforcement officers who are working tirelessly to help prevent the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in the country, NutriAsia gives Locally Dalandan Blended Juice Drink to various hospitals and checkpoints to help frontliners boost their immune system and stay well-hydrated.
B2 Thursday, March 26, 2020
US, DOH collaborate against coronavirus T By Leonardo Valente | PIXABAY
HE Embassy of the United States in the Philippines recently announced that the US government has committed more than P139 million, or $2.7 million, to support the Department of Health (DOH) in its response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in the country.
‘WE HEAL AS ONE’
Japan extends support to PHL’s efforts on pandemic
Liskonogaleksey | Dreamstime.com
HE Embassy of Japan has conveyed its government and people’s solidarity with the Philippines as it fights the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic. In a statement, the embassy expressed hopes that Filipinos will stay safe and healthy despite “the challenging times.” “Our vigilance and preparedness will help us make a difference in this outbreak and protect those among us who are [the most vulnerable,]” it said. “As [a] partner in progress, Japan stands together with the Philippines in addressing this situation. Together with the rest of the world, we will get through this,” the embassy concluded.
The US government, through the US Agency for International Development, or Usaid, will collaborate with Philippine government counterparts to establish and implement internationally recognized infectious disease threat prevention and response strategies as well as enhance infection control. The assistance, according to the embassy, will strengthen specimen-transpor t systems and laboratory capacity to acc u rate ly a nd rapid ly detec t
cases. It will also help protect health workers and patients by ensuring that hygiene products, masks, waste management supplies and other necessary commodities are available, delivered, and managed appropriately. More broadly, the embassy said the US government-supported programs will expand communities’ disease preparedness and access to water, sanitation, as well as hygiene services and commodities.
Thailand donates chickens for troops on duty T
HE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) received on March 20 some 5,000 dressed chickens from a Thai food firm to sustain soldiers manning checkpoints in enhanced community quarantine zones in Luzon. The donation from Charoen Pok ph a nd Fo o d s (C PF ) w a s coursed through the Royal Thai Embassy in Manila, AFP Public Affairs Office Chief Capt. Jonathan Zata said. Said chickens will be fed to soldiers in the frontlines implementing the 30-day quarantine. They will also be distributed to various units in Luzon through the Joint Task Force-National Capital Region. “We thank the [CPF and] the government of Thailand through Ambassador Vasin Ruangprateepsaeng for this kind gesture,” AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Felimon Santos Jr. said. “Our men and women on the ground are risking their [lives] in a different, but crucial battle.” He said the donation will go a long way in sustaining military efforts in helping the government contain the coronavirus disease 2019. AFP Deputy Chief of Staff for Civil Military
Singapore, Turkey send test kits T
HE Republic of Singapore has donated 3,000 testing kits and one polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machine for combating the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), as announced by Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin Jr. on Twitter. Ambassador of the Philippines to Singapore Joseph del Mar Yap received the donation as he signed a Deed of Donation on behalf of Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III and the Singaporean foreign ministry. Locsin, likewise, said Turkey has also sent its test-kits samples to the Philippines. Also on March 18, Sen. Emmanuel D. Pacquiao donated 600,000 face
masks to various frontliners serving the country amid the Covid-19 pandemic, with the help of the Jack Ma Foundation. Pacquiao donated about 100,000 face masks to the Philippine National Police; 50,000 to the Armed Forces of the Philippines; 75,000 to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine; 75,000 to the Department of Health; 75,000 to the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA); and 50,000 to other medical workers. Pacquiao also gave five buses to MMDA for the transportation of health workers and other frontliners. Ma. Teresa Montemayor and Joyce Ann L. Rocamora/PNA
AMBASSADOR Joseph del Mar Yap (third from left) signs the Deed of Donation for the Covid-19 test kits and one polymerase chain reaction machine. Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director General Constance See signed the deed on behalf of Singapore, represented by MFA Country Officer Olivia Chong (center). Officers of the Philippine Embassy in Singapore witnessed the signing ceremony. DFA
ARMED Forces of the Philippines Deputy Chief of Staff for Civil Military Operations Maj. Gen. Edgardo de Leon (left) accepted the donation from Thailand’s Ambassador Vasin Ruangprateepsaeng (second from left) and an executive from food firm Charoen Pokphand Foods (right) in a ceremony inside Camp Aguinaldo on March 20. TSGT RANDULF OBINQUE, PAF/PAOAFP
Operations Maj. Gen. Edgardo de Leon accepted the donation from Ruangprateepsaeng in a brief ceremony at the AFP General Headquarters Canopy Area in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City. He received assistance from the Thai Defense and Armed Forces At-
taché, as well as CPF executives. According to the donor’s web site, the “CPF operates [an] integrated agro-industrial and food business, including livestock and aquaculture, such as swine, broiler, layer, duck, shrimp and fish.” AFP,
FOREIGN Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin Jr. (second from left) receives Ambassador Gerard Ho Wei Hong (second from right), who turned over the donations. Health Undersecretary Mario C. Villaverde (left) and Deputy Chief of Mission Zhou Suli (right) joined the turnover ceremony. DFA
THE Singaporean ambassador inspects the deliveries.
HELPING HAND Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin Jr. receives the donation of the People’s Republic of China to the Philippines, with Ambassador Huang Xilian. The Chinese government last week turned over medical supplies, such as fast-test kits, surgical masks, N95 masks and personal protective equipment. DFA/PNA (ROBERT OSWALD P. ALFILER)
THE test kits, according to the embassy, have to be kept at a specific temperature.
Editor: Eleanor Leyco-Chua
Thursday, March 26, 2020 B3
Experts sort fact from fiction on Telemedicine seen to limit
rong information and fake news spread faster than Covid-19, and this is even dangerous since many netizens easily believe and practice what they read in the Internet. When Covid-19 outbreak was first reported in December 2019 in Wuhan, China, health facts and prevention tips also began to spread in the World Wide Web. And while the health industry is busy in discovering the vaccine to stop this pandemic, webmd.com shares in its web site an article by HealthDay reporter Robert Preidt to help you sort fact from fiction about Covid-19.
‘Face masks will keep the uninfected safe.’
False. Except when used under highexposure conditions, such as by healthcare workers, donning a face mask every day (especially cheap paper or cloth masks), doesn't keep viruses from infecting you. “Those who are not ill or on the frontlines of medicine may not benefit from wearing a mask,” said Dr. Michael Chang. He’s assistant professor of pediatrics at McGovern Medical School, and an infectious disease specialist with UT Physicians. “Wearing a mask when you are not sick essentially gives you a false sense of confidence that you don't need to wash your hands as often, or not touch your face as much,” Chang explained in an UT (University of Texas) Health news release. “And, because masks can be uncomfortable, you may actually touch your face more. In addition, contamination can occur when masks are taken off and put back on.” Also, when lay people snap up face masks needed to protect health-care workers that puts everyone at risk. Every nurse or doctor infected means fewer people to care for the very ill. One exception to the rule: If you
FoodPanda is back
s clarified by the leadership of the Department of Trade and Industry, foodpanda is allowed to operate along with other food services platforms as providers of basic necessities. In light of this recent mandate, we would like to reassure you that foodpanda continues to operate as usual with free delivery on every order. In a statement, foodpanda said, “We value the safety of everyone in our community, and have introduced new measures to ensure you feel secure while using our service. Our rider hubs provide hand sanitizer and masks free of charge to all our riders, who are instructed to wash their hands every two hours and after each time they handle a delivery.” It added that the company is in constant communication with its restaurant partners over the latest World Health Organization notices, “advising them on the health and safety practices that go beyond our already high food hygiene expectations.”
develop symptoms of Covid-19, such as fever and coughing, wearing a face mask could help lower the transmission of infectious droplets in air, experts say.
‘Lots of vitamin C will ward off Covid-19.’
False. There is no evidence that taking extra vitamin C will fight against Covid-19, said Dr. Susan Wootton, a UT associate professor of pediatrics and an infectious disease pediatrician. “In fact, our body can only absorb a certain amount of vitamin C at a time and any excess will be excreted. So those who are stocking up on the vitamin are not benefiting from the extra intake,” Wootton said in the release.
‘Like colds and flu, Covid-19 will fade with warmer weather.’
False—maybe. There is no conclusive proof that the coronavirus will die off once the weather turns warm. “Because this is a new virus, we aren't sure,” said Catherine Troisi in the release. She's an epidemiologist and associate professor in the Department of Management, Policy, and Community Health at UT Health's School of Public Health. One recent study, led by virologist Dr. Mohammad Sajadi of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, has suggested that coronavirus might prefer cooler, more humid climes. “Based on what we have documented so far, it appears that the virus has a harder time spreading between people in warmer, tropical climates,” Sajadi said. But even if that's so, the fact that humans have no immune experience
against the virus means it will probably continue to spread during the Northern Hemisphere's summer, other experts countered. “We hope that warmer weather will help, but there is no guarantee,” Troisi said. “What ultimately helps is that summertime means kids are not in school anymore, and they are less likely to pass viruses around.”
‘Drinking water every 15 minutes helps prevent coronavirus illness.‘
False. This Internet rumor is based on the fallacious notion that water “washes” virus into the hostile acidic environment of the stomach. The notion is a false one, and gargling with warm water won‘t help protect against the coronavirus either, said Dr. Luis Ostrosky, professor of internal medicine and an infectious disease specialist at UT Health. If you are sick, there is a good reason to drink at least some water, however: “It is very important to stay both hydrated and well-rested when recovering from any infection,” Wootton said.
‘Coronavirus will soon mutate into an even more dangerous strain.’
False. The coronavirus is not likely to mutate into a more deadly strain, according to Chang. “Viruses mutate pretty frequently, but not all mutations have to be bad,”
he explained. “Many mutations in viruses are silent, and some can even lead to a strain that is less fit with less virulence.” In fact, vaccine developers often take advantage of the latter fact, using harmless forms of a virus—one with genetic mutations that make it less pathogenic—to use in new vaccines, Chang said. “Given all of the above, it is very unlikely for Covid-19 to develop a mutation that makes it deadlier,” he said.
‘Hand-washing only kills coronavirus if water is hot.’
False. Washing your hands with hot water isn't any more effective than with cold water. Frequent hand-washing with soap and water is recommended as one of the best ways to limit the spread of the coronavirus, but the temperature of the water doesn’t matter. When “washing hands with soap and water, it’s really the mechanical scrubbing action that’s cleaning your hands,” Chang explained. “You can use warm or cold water. You have to be sure you wash/scrub long enough [at least 20 seconds] and completely dry your hands.” Twenty seconds might be longer than you realize: It’s roughly as long as it takes to hum Happy Birthday twice from beginning to end.
death occur due to Covid-19, an additional funeral benefit of P50,000 will be given to the beneficiary. “FWD Covid-19 Ready is on top of our policyholders’ existing life insurance plans and riders and is meant to provide an extra level of protection amid these uncertain times,” FWD Insurance President and Chief Executive Officer Li Hao Zhuang said. “In true bayanihan spirit, FWD is doing its part to help our customers have confidence despite the growing threat of the Covid-19 pandemic. FWD Covid-19 Ready is our way of staying committed to our promise to be with customers every step of the way, so should they be affected by this disease, they can fully recover.” In addition, FWD Insurance is providing
additional benefits and consideration amid the Covid-19 situation, until April 15, 2020: n Extension of insurance premium payment grace period to 90 days for customers with confirmed Covid-19 cases; n Extension of insurance premium payment grace period to 60 days for all other customers; n Acceptance of all insurance benefit claims even beyond 30 days; or n Acceptance of soft copies of all insurance claim documents. For more information regarding FWD COVID-19 Ready, customers can go to fwd. com.ph, contact their FWD advisors, or the insurer’s 24/7 FWD Customer Connect Hotline at (02) 8888-8388.
Lorna Tolentino’s recipe for ageless beauty
EAUTéDERM Corp. officially renewed its contract with iconic actress and grand slam queen Lorna Tolentino as one of its top, high-profile celebrity brand ambassadors. It has been over a year since Lorna formally joined the amazing roster of Beautéderm’s ambassadors. Both the brand and the legendary actress forged a bond on familial levels that transcended their thriving business relationship that soared high with the unbelievable high sales volume of Beautéderm’s Cristaux Gold Elixir Serum, which Tolentino represented to the mainstream market. The collaboration between Beautéderm and Tolentino both represent the highest ideals of quality, perfection, integrity, and hard work that delivers the finest results. To date, Beautéderm has celebrated an entire decade in the business as a trusted leader in the beauty and wellness industry, it has surpassed its 100 physical store mark, which was initiated in 2019, and from its patented and miraculous skin set for both body and face, the brand continues to develop and create innovative and effective products such as its Spruce & Dash men’s line which consists of Beau Charcoal Soap; Hugh Shaving Cream; Brawn Anti-perspirant White Spray for both foot and underarms; Charcoal Charmer De-
toxifying Peel-off Mask; and Lad Hair Pomade. Tolentino, on the other hand, never ceases to showcase the bravura of her artistry as she continuously breathes life to the role of the villainous Lily Cortez on ABS-CBN’s long-running and toprating prime-time action-drama series FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano. The effectivity and flawlessness of Lorna’s portrayal of Lily is evident from the fact that hers is one of the most hated characters in
s the number of Covid-19 cases in the Philippines continues to escalate, the general public may take advantage of telemedicine services to avail themselves of medical advice especially when staying at home or under quarantine. Maridol D. Ylanan, CEO of Global Telehealth Inc. which runs KonsultaMD, said telemedicine is a viable alternative to visits to hospital emergency rooms which should be reserved for more critical situations. Moreover, through telemedicine, customers can have 24/7 access to doctors while ensuring that they are not at risk of getting or spreading any disease since there is no physical interaction with medical practitioners and other patients. “Telemedicine providers are here to give health advice. KonsultaMD, for instance, has a team of doctors who are fully-equipped with the knowledge on how to deal with various medical concerns including Covid-19. Through telephone triaging, the doctor can advise the customer whether they need to go to the hospital for further evaluation or testing,” Ylanan said. In other countries like the US, telemedicine is already viewed as a key tool to help fight Covid-19 since the absence of physical interaction can slow the spread of the disease. The US National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also alerted US hospitals to be prepared to use this. While telemedicine is not yet well known among Filipinos, KonsultaMD already introduced this innovative health-care service five years ago. By dialing 79880 toll-free from their Globe or TM mobile phones or 02-77988000 from any landline, anyone may talk to a doctor to ask for medical information for primary conditions, maternity, pediatrics, mental
health, Covid-19, health coaching, nutrition counseling, reading of laboratory and diagnostic results, and permissible medication, among others. KonsultaMD doctors can also determine the urgency of the situation, whether it is an emergency or not, through telephone triaging. KonsultaMD offers unlimited immediate access to doctors 24/7 through flexible and affordable plans such as an individual subscription fee of P15 a week or P60 a month for Globe Prepaid and TM customers, deductible from their prepaid load. For Globe Postpaid customers, they have the option to subscribe to a P99 per week plan which may be extended to one additional family member or P150 per month with four extensions, chargeable to their monthly bill. Non-Globe and TM customers may also avail of KonsultaMD services through a oneyear subscription of P150 per month for group or P60 a month for individual, payable via credit card or mobile money and subject to regular cell-phone charges if call is via mobile. Subscriptions may be done by visiting https:// www.konsulta.md/subscribe, and call 79880 tollfree via mobile (for Globe/TM customers) or (02) 7798-8000. KonsultaMD is under 917Ventures, the largest corporate incubator in the Philippines and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Globe Telecom.
6 Healthy Habits for elderly to avoid getting sick
FWD Insurance provides Covid-19 special coverage ast-growing insurer FWD Life Insurance Philippines (FWD Insurance), part of pan-Asian FWD Group, announced it will be providing additional benefits to eligible policyholders who are diagnosed with Covid-19. The FWD Covid-19 Ready special coverage will be provided to FWD policyholders of individual plans (excluding FWD Peace, Set Ka Na, and Kandüü plans—KanMend, KanLive, and KanGuard) issued and active before March 1, 2020. Under this special coverage, which will be in effect for a limited period from March 9 to April 15, 2020, additional medical benefit of P100,000 will be provided to the policyholder upon diagnosis and within 48 hours after complete claim submission. Should
spread of Covid-19
the history of Philippine television. “I am very, very happy with Beautéderm,” said Tolentino. “My heart is overflowing with gratefulness that Rei decided to renew me as one of the brand’s ambassadors. I’m so thankful for the genuine friendship that I share with Rei, her family, with the entire staff of the company, and, of course, with my fellow ambassadors. The fun and excitement that I feel with Beautéderm is indescribable.” Beautéderm’s President and CEO Rhea Anicoche-Tan, on the other hand, revealed that she is equally exhilarated having Tolentino on board the Beautéderm family. “She is really a woman that I admire and look up to. I say this time and time again that I idolize her. I am a fan of Ate LT’s body of work and we at Beautéderm is honored to have her as a brand ambassador. She is an icon of beauty and a symbol of excellence. But, more important, Ate LT is a wonderful, selfless person. Her kindness and her beautiful heart inspires us all to be the best versions of ourselves.” For more information on Beautéderm and exciting updates on the brand and its ambassadors, follow @beautédermcorporation on Instagram, like Beautéderm on Facebook, and subscribe to Beautéderm on YouTube.
f you are 60 and above, read this. The coronavirus can affect anyone but it’s the older adults, ages 60 and up, who are more at risk of getting seriously sick from it. Is there a cure for it? None at the moment, but over 80,000 worldwide have already survived it. Internist-cardiologist Willie Ong says that a total of 26.4 percent of the total cases in the Philippines comprise patients belonging to the said population. So Sure Bladder Leakage Pads, a product that’s designed to manage a mature adult’s leaky bladder, presents these health tips to help you remain level-headed in this season of uncertainty:
Be proactive and keep your immune system strong
Practice social distancing
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Should there be a need to go out, quickly take a shower as the virus can thrive for a few hours on the clothes. Wear a face mask around people and pets. Refrain from handshaking and touching your face. Cough or sneeze into a disposable tissue and discard it immediately. Use a tissue or your elbow to touch switches and elevator buttons. Sanitize phones, doorknobs, and other items that you usually touch. Members of the household should also practice the same.
Do everything you can to reduce exposure to the virus. Avoid crowds, mass transit systems, and other nonessential social gatherings. Of course, this does not mean social isolation. You can still opt for family game nights, reading a book, cooking a meal, indoor exercises and group video calls.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick. You know where to find them
Avoid hospitals except in emergency cases. If possible, call ahead before visiting your doctor. According to St. Luke’s Medical Center’s oncologist Denky de la Rosa, MD, senior citizens who have the following conditions are at higher risk: asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, tuberculosis, or any lung disease, diabetes, heart and kidney problems especially those undergoing dialysis, cirrhosis, hepatitis, or any liver problems, an autoimmune system like lupus.
Minimize news consumption
It’s good to stay informed but don’t get too obsessed with the news. Research shows that chronic TV watchers and news followers have increased fear because everything they see starts to feel like occurring outside their very door. Filter information. Keep yourselves away not only from the virus but also from negativity and fake news. Maximize the use of technology by connecting with family and friends to minimize anxiety. Find time to clear your mind through prayers and meditation. Do some light exercises and sunlight exposure.
Get ample sleep, exercise and eat well. Plan your meals to include immune system boosters, such as citrus fruits, garlic, broccoli, spinach, turmeric, green tea, papaya, poultry, and shellfish and zinc sources like beef, oyster, asparagus, and malunggay. Go for a quick sunlight exposure just at your doorsteps between 8:and 11 a.m. for your daily dose of vitamin D. Load up on water. And, of course, keep in mind your dietary limitations as advised by your doctor.
Practice good hygiene
Avoid public toilets
COVID-19 is transmitted through droplets. In some public toilets, we can smell the stink even before entering. In other toilets, the floors are wet, the toilet bowls are soiled, and the sinks are dirty. Your risk of exposure here is elevated. However, for some who experience incontinence, you may have to go to the toilet all the time. Others have overactive bladders and cannot make it to the toilet because of weak bladder control. Needs vary from one individual to another. Good thing, So Sure made its pads available to fit comfortably for urine leaks. Whether it’s a light or moderate incontinence condition, So Sure Bladder Leakage Pad is here to provide comfort and protection. So Sure 340mm Pads are designed for light flow while So Sure 450mm Pads are made to cater to moderate incontinence. To know more, visit www.sosurepads.ph and like/follow at @sosurepadsph on Facebook and Instagram.
Thursday, March 26, 2020
A PHOTO I took last Sunday of our TV screen while our family was in our bedroom attending the 3 pm special mass Cardinal Tagle livestreamed on social media from the Pontificio Collegio Filippino in Rome, Italy.
By Eugenia Last
CELEBRITIES BORN ON THIS DAY: Keira Knightley, 35; Kenny Chesney, 52; Martin Short, 70; Steven Tyler, 72. HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Refuse to let your emotions take over. Rational behavior will count when it comes to getting ahead and avoiding trouble. Too much of anything will be your downfall, and discipline and preparation will be your path to success. Make a conscious effort to do whatâ€™s right and best for you. Your future depends on how hard you work, your stamina and your originality. Your lucky numbers are 6, 19, 23, 27, 32, 41, 46.
ARIES (March 21-April 19): A quick reaction will lead to disappointment and regret. Donâ€™t speak in haste or send the wrong message. Nurture relationships instead of destroying them, and you will navigate your way to a better position. Simplicity and moderation are in your best interest. â˜…â˜…â˜…
TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Be firm, and you will get your way. Be willing to adjust if it will help to move your plans forward faster. Donâ€™t argue over something that doesnâ€™t matter. Stubbornness wonâ€™t help you get ahead. â˜…â˜…â˜…
GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Use your Gemini charm as your go-to tool, and youâ€™ll get your way, but donâ€™t promise something you will not want to honor. Consider a partnership that shows potential. â˜…â˜…â˜…â˜…
CANCER (June 21-July 22): A secretive approach to something you are pursuing is in your best interest until you have everything in place. Your reputation may be at risk if you meddle or spread rumors based on hearsay. â˜…â˜…
Getting real with Covid-19: Part I MOMMY NO LIMITS
MAYE YAO CO SAY
HE first time I wrote about the coronavirus was last February 6. At the time, it seemed quite â€œdistantâ€? from us. We were just becoming aware and attempting to understand the disease based on what we were reading from global news. We knew it originated from Wuhan, Hubei, in China in December 2019. We knew it had affected China and countries nearby. I would touch base and check on friends who had just started to work from home in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Japan. A friend even shared a story on how even toilet paper could not be found at the grocery stores in Hong Kong. Back then, I felt like a spectator, hoping by the sidelines that the situation for the affected countries get better soon. At the time, I am sure most of you had various travel plans and even have booked flights from all the promo fares being offered. For us, my daughter with her teammates were all set and excited to officially represent the Philippines at the Asian Junior and Cadet Fencing Championships in Jakarta, Indonesia, at the end February. I had several conventions booked already in the succeeding months. My husband and I had also purchased tickets for his participation at the London marathon this April. I honestly thought as long as we took precautions on our personal health like take our immune boosters, keep hydrated, wash
our hands regularly, then we should all be OK. I even remember an initial hearsay that the virus wonâ€™t thrive in the Philippines because of our hot weather. Today, everything has become terrifyingly real for all of us. We are seeing the rapid rise of people affected. We are seeing our medical professionals put their lives at risk, and the lack of much needed supplies. We are seeing those affected go beyond those with travel history from the affected countries. We are reading actual stories of people getting the virus after a casual visit to a supermarket. We are now praying for the recovery of friends in critical conditions. Some of us sadly mourn for the loss of someone dear after battling with this virus. With Proclamation 929, following the sharp increase in the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases throughout the country, President Duterte declared a State of Calamity throughout the Philippines for a period of 6 months, unless otherwise lifted or extended. He has imposed an Enhanced Community Quarantine throughout Luzon until April 12. This meant strict area lockdowns, as well as suspension of school and work activities except for health workers and specified industries. Distance learning has become a reality for our kids. Online mass celebrations and church services are quickly becoming our norm. The reality of Covid-19 is its uncertainty. It is hard to say when this will end. The goal for our country now is to do everything we can to stop the rise. We take things one day at a time. We hope each one do their part one measure at a time. Alongside battling Covid-19, we also hope to prevent any social unrest from the lack of income. Getting real with Covid-19 goes back to basics. Prevention and reality check. We need to be vigilant. I think the best reality mindset is: You can get Covid-19. So, please be your own prevention by following these measures our pediatrician sent us: â– STAY HOME. Nearly half of Covid-19 patients in the
LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Consider what type of attention you want before you step into the spotlight. Making waves instead of keeping the peace will lead to a negative response. If youâ€™re going to accomplish something, be sensitive to others and true to your word. â˜…â˜…â˜…â˜…â˜…
Philippines have no travel nor exposure to a known Covid-19 case. This means that there are infected people without symptoms or are pre-symptomatic circulating and transmitting the virus in our communities. â– WASH YOUR HANDS FREQUENTLY. Soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizers can kill viruses that you may have picked up with your hands. â– AVOID TOUCHING YOUR FACE. If the coronavirus is on your hands, it can enter your body through your eyes, nose, and mouth. â– MAINTIAN SOCIAL DISTANCING...EVEN AT HOME. A sneeze or a cough from an infected person results in a spray of small liquid droplets which contain coronavirus. Maintain a distance of 1 meter between yourself and others. Avoid physical contact when greeting. Just wave, nod or bow. â– PRACTICE RESPIRATORY HYGIENE. Remind others (and yourself) to follow cough etiquette, dispose used tissues immediately, and wash those hands after. â– DISINFECT HIGH-TOUCH SURFACES DAILY. Transmission of coronavirus occurs mostly via direct human contact and respiratory droplets. However, the virus may remain viable on surfaces for many hours to days. After cleaning dirt off, disinfect high-touch surfaces, if appropriate to the material, with bleach solution (1 tsp 6 percent bleach per 1 cup of cool tap water) or with 70 percent alcohol. â– PRACTICE FOOD SAFETY. Food preparation must, as always, be done with clean hands. Cooked dishes are safer than those prepared without the use of heat from a stove or an oven. â– GET GOOD RESET AND SLEEP. Stay well-hydrated, eat healthy, and get enough sleep. Do not overwork or overstress. Vitamin C with zinc, multivitamins and supplements can be taken but will do little to protect you if you do not practice the above measures diligently. More to follow.... â–
VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Donâ€™t decide while under pressure. A financial loss or additional responsibilities due to a mistake will interfere with being able to take advantage of something better. Say no to a joint venture, and yes to doing your own thing. â˜…â˜…â˜…
LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Strive to make the biggest gain in the shortest period. Holding back how you feel will stifle your ability to take advantage of an opportunity. Take a practical, budgetfriendly step forward, and donâ€™t look back. â˜…â˜…â˜…
SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Make a change at home. You will get the boost you need to expand your interests if you invest. Say whatâ€™s on your mind, clear the air and make your move. Donâ€™t repress your creativity or your ability to be productive. â˜…â˜…â˜…
SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Strive for a friendly and comfortable environment. Donâ€™t let peers, relatives or neighbors bring you down or make you anxious. Associate with people who are sensitive to your needs and share common beliefs and interests. Choose peace over discord. â˜…â˜…â˜…â˜…â˜…
CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Youâ€™ll appear weak if you back down. Review the facts, and take care of matters before they have time to escalate. Say no if someone asks for too much or takes you for granted. â˜…â˜…
AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Question what you are doing, and make adjustments based on common sense. Donâ€™t give up, especially when a positive lifestyle will help you achieve your objective. Take the first step; youâ€™ll have the discipline to reach your destination. â˜…â˜…â˜…â˜…
PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): Refuse to be a chameleon. Turn your attention to something productive and mentally stimulating, and youâ€™ll avoid taking a turn that benefits someone other than you. Change begins within, and doing your own thing is your ticket to freedom. â˜…â˜…â˜… BIRTHDAY BABY: You are prepared, responsible and prompt. You are sensitive and caring.
â€˜stair casesâ€™ BY AMANDA RAFKIN The Universal Crossword/Edited by David Steinberg
ACROSS 1 Poor fig. for a gas-guzzler 4 Popular tablet 8 Summer skin shades 12 ___ tai 13 Singer Braxton 14 â€œUntil next time!â€? 16 M*A*S*H star (theme hint: note the letter above every black square in each four-black square diagonal!) 18 Eye part with 58-Across and cones 19 Taken together 20 Pinot ___ (white wine) 22 Yoga surface 23 Houston athlete 24 Site of the patella 25 Hats in Glasgow 26 Not fem. or neut. 27 A doorâ€™s may contain a lock 28 NASCAR great Yarborough 29 Honorary poem 30 Brings before a judge 31 Peanut and sesame 32 Love letter words often written as an acronym 37 Dorothyâ€™s dog
38 What a hand rocked back and forth might mean 39 End of the world? 40 â€œQuiet!â€? 41 Paintballs, e.g. 42 Usually buggy version 43 â€œStarâ€? or â€œStorageâ€? follower 44 Bouncerâ€™s workplace 45 Capital of Senegal 46 Sign abbr. before a year 47 Bleachers level 48 Shoot for the stars 49 Crunchy bit in a brownie, perhaps 51 One on the wrong side of the law? 54 Comment from one whoâ€™s coping 55 Singer Brickell 56 Penn of films 57 Munch on a snack 58 See 18-Across 59 Crafty DOWN 1 Cage fighting, for short 2 Fort fortification 3 Large marine reptiles 4 Writer Calvino 5 Opinion survey
6 & 7 Former crime drama starring Dick Van Dyke 8 Vietnamese New Year 9 Donkey in Shrek and others 10 Far from famous 11 Crushes, as a fly 14 Spreadable cheese 15 Word necessary for consent 17 Buster? 21 WNBA stat hidden in â€œscoreboardâ€? 23 Songwriter Tori 24 Didnâ€™t just suspect 25 Have a heart-to-heart, maybe 27 Bit of praise 28 â€œLater!â€? 30 MacFarlane or Rogen 31 Too, too 33 Disappointing game result 34 Mummyâ€™s place 35 Give oneself an objective 36 Char 40 Attempts, with â€œatâ€? 41 American pale ___ 42 One in a high chair 43 â€œVictory is ours!â€?
44 45 47 48 50 52 53
Commute destination, often Lavishes love (on) Spot for a soak Crossword part Undefined degree Wedding words Paper towel layer
Solution to yesterdayâ€™s puzzle:
Taylor Swift’s publicist takes aim at Kim Kardashian in feud LOS ANGELES—The Kanye West and Taylor Swift public beef has reignited again with the ongoing feud now involving his wife and Swift’s publicist. Swift’s publicist, Tree Paine, fired back on Monday night at Kim Kardashian West, who had defended herself after someone released a video, clipped into segments, of the full 25-minute conversation of Kanye West and Swift discussing his song “Famous.” Kardashian West posted several tweets on Monday to address Swift who said in a statement earlier in the day on Instagram that she was illegally recorded in the “manipulated” video. West was condemned for a lyric in which he called Swift a bitch in his 2016 song “Famous.” The rapper said Swift gave her blessing to use the lyric during a phone call, but the singer denied ever hearing the lyric. The new footage of the phone call between West and Swift was posted online from an unknown source on Friday night. The new clips seem to corroborate Swift’s claims that West didn’t tell her the full lyrics of the song. But they also show West repeatedly asking Taylor for her approval of a lyric in which he raps: “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex, Why? I made that bitch famous.” Swift does tell West she thinks it’s funny, just as the rapper said when the song first was released. Previously, Kardashian West seemed to vindicate her husband—months later—by releasing snippets of the call where Swift appeared to approve the lyrics. She said in a tweet Monday that Swift lied through her publicist that “Kanye never called to ask for permission.” In response, Paine said in her tweet on Monday that West did not call to get the lyric approved from Swift. She said West asked Swift if she could release the song on her Twitter account but she declined. AP
GMA REGIONAL TV CONTINUES TO AIR NEWSCASTS
GMA Regional TV (www.gmaregionaltv.com) continues to deliver news and other relevant updates to the TV public in the regions across the Philippines via its award-winning regional newscasts GMA Regional TV Balitang Amianan, GMA Regional TV Balitang Bisdak, GMA Regional TV One Western Visayas, and GMA Regional TV One Mindanao. Viewers in North Central Luzon can rely on GMA Regional TV Balitang Amianan to provide news that matters to them. Leading GMA Regional TV Balitang Amianan are seasoned TV journalist CJ Torida, awardwinning local news correspondent Joanne Ponsoy, and news presenter Jasmin Gabriel-Galban. Providing reports are local news correspondents King Guevarra, Russel Simorio, Kim Bandarlipe and Ivy Hernando, as well as local news stringers across North Central Luzon. GMA Regional TV Balitang Amianan is available via GMA TV 10 Dagupan, GMA TV 5 Ilocos Norte, GMA TV 48 Ilocos Sur, GMA TV 7 Abra, GMA TV 7 Camarines Sur, GMA TV 12 Albay, GMA TV 2 Sorsogon, and GMA TV 13 Catanduanes. In Eastern and Central Visayas, tri-media personality Bobby Nalzaro, award-winning local news correspondent Alan Domingo, and news presenter Cecille Quibod-Castro are all on deck to bring viewers the latest news via GMA Regional TV Balitang Bisdak. Joining them are local news correspodents Lou Ann Mae Rondina, Nikko Sereno and Fe Marie Dumaboc, as well as local news stringers from different parts of Central and Eastern Visayas. Viewers can watch GMA Regional TV Balitang Bisdak via GMA TV 7 Cebu , GMA TV 10 Tacloban, GMA TV 11 Bohol, and GMA TV 12 Ormoc. Meanwhile, pioneering unified Hiligaynon newscast GMA Regional TV One Western Visayas delivers the freshest news and information in Western Visayas. The newscast is anchored by Atty. Sedfrey Cabaluna with Bacolod coanchor and correspondent Adrian Prietos, and Iloilo coanchor Kaitlene Rivilla. Together with them are award-winning correspondents Zen Quilantang, Darylle Marie Sarmiento and John Sala, along with the network of stringers across Western Visayas. GMA Regional TV One Western Visayas is available via GMA TV 6 Iloilo, GMA TV 6 Guimaras, GMA TV 13 Bacolod, GMA TV 30 Kanlandog, GMA TV 10 Sipalay, GMA TV 5 Roxas, GMA TV 2 Kalibo, and GMA TV 7 Tablas. Providing news and information in Mindanao is unified local newscast GMA Regional TV One Mindanao. It is anchored by Tek Ocampo, coanchors Sarah Hilomen-Velasco and Real Sorroche, with local news correspondents Sheillah Vergara-Rubio, Rgil Relator, Jandi Esteban and Cyril Chavez together with the various local news stringers across North, Central and Southern Mindanao. Mindanaoa residents can watch the newscast via GMA TV 5 Davao, GMA TV 35 Cagayan de Oro, GMA TV 8 General Santos City ,GMA TV 12 Jolo, Sulu, GMA TV 9 Zamboanga City, GMA TV 12 Cotabato City, GMA TV 2 Tandag City, GMA TV 10 Surigao City, GMA TV 26 Butuan City, GMA TV 4 Dipolog City, GMA TV 3 Pagadian City, GMA TV 5 Ozamiz City, GMA TV 11 Iligan City, and GMA TV 12 Bukidnon. Meanwhile, GMA Regional TV Weekend News has been temporarily airing on GMA every Saturday at 10:30 pm since March 21. Netizens, on the other hand, can still be updated via GMA Regional TV’s official web site, and through its various social-media accounts. “In the face of a public health crisis, the Filipino spirit prevails—backed by faith, discipline, resilience, optimism and genuine public service,” says GMA Regional TV Vice President and Head Oliver Armoroso. “We are at a time in our country’s history that local news matters. Our local communities can help change the course of the Covid-19 by staying updated and informed. This is why GMA Regional TV continues to stay true to our commitment of delivering local news and other updates as they happen via our GMA Regional TV newscasts. Kasama po ninyo kami sa ating laban kontra Covid-19,” he concludes.
Thursday, March 26, 2020
Lockdown blues REELING
TITO GENOVA VALIENTE
OCKDOWN blues—that was effortless! I did not spend great time to come up with that cool title. It is not even a title. It is a knee-jerk call, a quick response to the world standing still, unmoving around us. The lockdown has given us lots of time to watch videos of all sorts and listen to all kinds of music and sound. But what would this quarantine be without the Internet? Or YouTube? Or Facebook? I must confess I am a YouTube fanatic and one of the first to review some videos for the paper. This new tradition of quarantining, like the rest of the world, has given me lots and lots of time to watch the undiscovered (because of lack of time) treasures of YouTube. On my 10th day of self-quarantine, I had already viewed such disparate documentaries, from the Ten Top Tiaras in the world (would you believe?) to the decline of British Dukedom (as if anyone really cares). Then I started posting the elegantly acerbic scenes from some of the films starring Katharine Hepburn. As if those were not enough, I gave in to the algorithm of Internet search, which yielded, after Kate, posts about Bette Davis (what do you expect?). I went serious after these and searched the ethers for scenes with Marlon Brando, Ian McKellen and Richard Burton. McKellen led me to Donald Wolfit. I was relentless. Last Sunday, March 22, Chuck Gutierrez, multiawarded editor, sent me the link to Harana (Serenade), a documentary released in 2012. I have seen the documentary. Harana, in fact, was our Gawad Urian winner for Best Documentary in 2013. Harana has become one of my favorite documentaries. I do not remember doing a review of the said piece. In 2012, having relocated to Naga to be with my mother who was then in her 80s, I had the simple idea of showing the documentary in various venues and then embarking on the same project like Florante Aguilar’s. Florante Aguilar, the lead narrator and, in a sense, the actor in the full-length documentary, returns to the country after more than 10 years in the United States. A classically trained musician, Aguilar comes home to bury his father. For some reason, the loss led him to a search for another lost piece of him— Philippine music. This was not just Filipino music from the past; Aguilar was looking for the dying—if not dead—tradition of “harana” or serenade. “Do you know what harana is?” This is the always the question of Aguilar as he travels around Manila first before he goes on a long, windswept drive to the far-off towns of Catanuan and Mulanay in Quezon. The initial response surprises the musician. This taxi driver Aguilar hails remembers the magic of the harana: he himself serenaded the woman who became his wife. Florante Aguilar, however, wants to know not only if people have harana in their memory but whether it does still exist. He is also adamant to find practitioners of the art. In some places in Quezon, it soon convinces Florante Aguilar that it is easy to look for haranista. Neighbors know the artists and it is easy to invite them to an impromptu night of harana. But Aguilar wants to gather good haranista. We find Florante Aguilar back in Cavite, his hometown. In a scene straight from an odd tale, he goes to the middle of the vast ricefield because someone tells him out there is a good singer. Aguilar is met by Celestino Aniel, an old farmer who readily,
and without false humility, admits he is indeed a haranista. There in a makeshift hut amid the endless expanse of the greenest horizon, Aguilar plays the guitar as the old man, the voice tentative first but opening with an unexpected grandeur like an unforgettable sunset, renders a song as old as love itself. Aguilar is pleased. With Celestino, Aguilar next finds Romeo Bergunio, a fisherman, also from Cavite. Possessing a voice as soft as moonlight, Romeo impresses Aguilar with his choice of a song that he says has never been even sung by Ruben Tagalog, the King of Kundiman. The three travel to Ilocos where they would meet Felipe Alonzo, a tricycle driver all his life but a singer for eternity. In that part of the country, they fulfill the true meaning of their life—to do a harana. A young man persistent to woo his beloved becomes their comrade. Late at night, with the singers in the tricycle and the young man with his friends on motorcycle, they go to a young girl’s home. The father of the girl is surprised but is soon welcoming the haranista especially when he recognizes the Ilocano among them. The documentary is a moving piece. It is unapologetic with its sentiment as the images seem to come out of one’s remembering—the sea giving way to distant mountains, the songs continuing even as the singers appear to be moving away into terrains that we can follow only if we know heartbreaks. The editing follows the rhythm of a song and anything that is about sadness and furtive joys. Unashamedly, I sent a message to Chuck that viewing Harana once more left me a wreck. I cried, stifled sobs, and openly wept in my room. It was not so much the loss of a tradition that touched me but the daring and beauty of that search. There were also the discoveries that the harana, in so many ways, united the islands of our archipelago. A song in Cavite, for example, had the melody of “paliparan” (literally, where you let things fly or be heard), the sung part of the Bikol tigsik, a
verbal joust in poetry form. In Cavite, Romeo also called harana as “panawagan” (literally, a plea or call). In Ilocos, a female singer renders an Ilokano song that is also found in Ilonggo and Hiligaynon versions. Released in 2012, Harana is directed by Benito Bautista, with screenplay by Bautista and Florante Aguilar. The documentary is produced by Florante Aguilar and Fides Enriquez. Cinematography is by Peggy Peralta and Editing is by Chuck Gutierrez. As I write this, I see on my screen Elvert Bañares, a filmmaker, noted cultural worker, and a friend, sharing a post from the site of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), called NHCP Museums. It announces the availability via YouTube several documentaries about our country. Some of the titles are: Jose Rizal: Sa Landas ng Paglaya (Rizal: The Path to Freedom), May Pag-asa ang Bantayog ni Andres Bonifacio (There is Hope in the Monument of Andres Bonifacio), Apolinario Mabini: Talino at Paninindigan (Apolinario Mabini: Intelligence and Principle), Kababaihan ng Rebolusyon (Women of the Revolution), Gregoria de Jesus: Lakambini ng Katipunan (Gregoria de Jesus: The Muse of the Katipunan), and Emilio Jacinto: Utak ng Katipunan (Emilio Jacinto: The Brain of the Katipunan). Made in 2016, the documentaries are well made. They fulfill the cinematic requirements of good editing and cinematography, and take on a critical stance as well. The visuals are not stock. In the case of the documentary on Rizal, the recreation of scenes in the hero’s life are done with restraint, with the voiceover inducing the drama and sentiment. There is also the freshness in perspective, with the life of Rizal linked to an otherwise forgotten man in his life—his brother, Paciano. It is a sad, perhaps depressing, moment to be watching these videos but, alone or away from people who matter to us, it is good to learn and be strong for the day when we could fly kites once more recklessly in open areas, or be part of a mob for those endless sales in shopping malls. ■
QCinema grantees named QCINEMA International Film Festival (QCinema) has announced its three new feature-film production grant winners for 2020. Filmmakers Christian Linaban, Joseph Abello, and Bebe Go will each receive a grant of P1.5 million each from the Quezon City government, through the Quezon City Film Development Foundation (QCFDC). These films will have their world premiere at this year’s QCinema. Linaban’s film Mga Buwak Para ni Maya is about a child cyberporn model abducted by a river monster. This is Linaban’s third feature film after Aberya in 2012 and the Pinoy stoner film Superpsychocebu in 2016. If You’re on Fire by Abello is about an ex-teacher and now ice factory owner
who hires his ex-student who ruined his teaching career. This is also Abello’s third directorial film after What Home Feels Like (2017) and Double Twisting Double Back (2018). Go’s film is about two girl friends navigating the world of the upper class and national elite. Gabby Silang is Go’s third film, following Alam Mo Ba ‘Yung Ganun? (2009) and the documentary Bastes, May Anne M. (2013). This is the seventh year the Quezon City government is awarding grants to new and seasoned filmmakers through QCinema. The festival, which fast becoming the premier international film festival in Southeast Asia, is slated from October 16 to 25. More information is available at www.qcinema.ph.
B6 Thursday, March 26, 2020
LANDBANK inaugurates first-ever commercial
SM Foundation, Goldilocks bring bread and pastry products to frontliners
M Foundation (SMFI), in partnership with Goldilocks, brought bread, cakes, and other pastry products to
30 hospitals and medical facilities around the National Capital Region (NCR) in hopes of bringing smiles to the brave and
hardworking COVID-19 frontliners. SMFI and Goldilocks acknowledge the vital and tedious roles of all COVID-19 frontliners and intend to provide them with short relief with its products during the COVID 19 battle. Through the social good partnership, a total of 2,900 buns, 6,200 cakes, and many other pastry products were distributed from March 18 - 20, 2020. This effort complements the other initiatives of the SM Group in response to the COVID-19 crisis–which include the waiving of mall tenant rentals nationwide and the Php100 million donation to government hospitals which will be used in acquiring personal protective equipment (PPEs), testing kits, and other medical supplies.
Cebuana Lhuillier waives remittance fees for ABS-CBN donations to Covid-19 affected communities
HOSE who want to contribute to ABS-CBN’s PantawidngPagibig efforts can now send their donations through Cebuana Lhuillier, without paying additional costs. The microfinancial services company has waived remittance fees for PantawidngPag-ibig donations to communities most affected by an enhanced community quarantine implemented in Luzon. “Cebuana Lhuillier has always been there for Filipinos in whatever challenges they face. Together with ABS-CBN, we hope to show everyone that we can see this through by working together as a nation,” said Jean Henri Lhuillier, Cebuana Lhuillier president and CEO. ABS-CBN’s PantawidngPag-ibig campaignenjoins individuals and companies to donate funds to ABSCBN Foundation towards buying the essential needs of Filipinos whose main source of livelihood has been
bank in Umingan, Pangasinan
LAND Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) President and CEO Cecilia C. Borromeo (center) leads the inauguration of the LANDBANK Umingan Branch on March 6, 2020, which is the first and only commercial Bank in Umingan, Pangasinan serving a total of 79 barangays from the 1st class municipality and the nearby municipality of San Quintin. Joining President Borromeo in the inauguration on March 6 are Pangasinan 6th District Representative Tyrone Agabas (4th from right), Umingan Mayor Michael Carleone Cruz (3rd from right), LANDBANK Branch Banking Sector Head Executive Vice President Julio D. Climaco, Jr., (6th from right), and other LANDBANK officials (R-L) namely North Luzon Branches Group Head First Vice President Ma. Belma T. Turla, LANDBANK Resources Development Corporation Vice Chairman Atty. Reynauld R. Villafuerte, Umingan Branch Head Lorena Q. Cardenas, Northern and Central Luzon Lending Group Head Senior Vice President Filipina B. Monje, and Strategy and Knowledge Management Group Head First Vice President Elcid C. Pangilinan.
Restos in select Ortigas Malls are open for food delivery
affected by the month-long quarantine. The Lopez Group jump started the campaign by donating P100 million to
the cause. Cash donations can be sent through the nearest Cebuana Lhuillier branches.
Valenzuelanos asked to stay home, be sober & use alcohol wisely
ELECT Ortigas Malls’ restaurants are still open for delivery during this quarantine period. In light of the enhanced community quarantine and as we stay at home and spend time with our loved ones, we are bringing you your favorite restaurants for delivery so you can enjoy them at the comfort of your own homes.
If you're running out of ideas in the kitchen or working hard from home, treat yourself with this wide selection of options. Check out these well-loved restaurants from Estancia, Greenhills and Tiendesitas that are open for home deliveries. For more information you may check their official Facebook pages - Greenhills Mall, Estancia at Capitol Commons and Tiendesitas.
Long day: Valenzuela City's 8th City Council approves six (6) ordinances for the City's peace and order, real property tax transactions and general welfare during Luzon's Enhanced Community Quarantine for its 32nd Regular Session (VC/PIO).
E have seen social media memes similar to the one above as the enhanced community quarantine goes on for over a week now. And Valenzuela City residence would have to be contented doing just that. During the 8th City Council of Valenzuela’s 32nd Regular Session held on Monday, March 23, City Ordinance No. 681, Series of 2020, or the “Stay Sober Ordinance” was approved for immediate implementation. Long day: Valenzuela City's 8th City Council approves six (6) ordinances for the City's peace and order, real property tax transactions and general welfare during Luzon's Enhanced Community Quarantine for its 32nd Regular Session (VC/PIO). Under the ordinance which was authored principally by 1st District Councilor; Atty. Bimbo Dela Cruz; sale,
delivery, purchase and consumption of alcoholic beverages are temporarily prohibited for as long as the enhanced community quarantine is sill in effect. National and local pronouncements order people to stay at home and to maintain social distancing, which are being followed at grocery store lines, at places of work, and even at government meetings. Holding drinking sessions of alcoholic beverages, however, may establish defiance of the two key measures to contain COVID-19 pandemic. The ordinance, likewise, prohibits anyone to “appear, traverse, or loiter in public places within the City of Valenzuela while under the influence of alcohol.” The new local law is in consonance with Presidential Proclamation No. 922 declaring public health emergency throughout the country due to COVID-19, enjoining all national
agencies and local government units to render full assistance and cooperation, and mobilizing the necessary resources to undertake critical, urgent, and appropriate response and measure to curtail and eliminate the virus. Those that will be found in violation of the ordinance, both individuals and businesses, shall face an administrative fine of PhP 5,000 and confiscation of the alcoholic beverages [per every] violation made. Businesses duly registered with the Business Permit and Licensing Office (BPLO) of Valenzuela City shall also be penalized with revocation of their permits. The Ordinance aims to the preserve public peace and order and to deter unnecessary social convergence from happening while the entire Luzon is in strict enhanced community quarantine.
CELEBRATING GENDER EQUALITY IN THE WORKPLACE. Officers and staff of Global Business Power Corp. (GBP) strike the #EachforEqual pose during the first GBP Women’s Day forum organized to celebrate the vital roles women play at work, in the society and within the family. Anchored on the 2020 International Women’s Day Theme, “EACH FOR EQUAL”, the forum featured multi-faceted women who have shown great leadership, perseverance, and work-life balance in the power industry. The event was supported by GBP senior management led by president Jaime Azurin (second from left), who was joined by human resources, admin, and learning and development head Maria Luz Blanco-Uriarte (third from left), corporate admin services head Amanda Bengson (fourth from left), Cebu site Operations head Leah Diaz (fifth from left), and commercial and sales head Philip Dasalla (second from right).
email@example.com / Editor: Jun Lomibao
WITH Olympics on hold, Michael Phelps worries about the mental health of athletes. AP
Does Olympic postponement help, hurt Tiger?
Phelps: Just control what you can control ICHAEL PHELPS has been open about his mental health struggles, even as he became the most decorated athlete in Olympic history. Now, with the Tokyo Games on hold because of the coronavirus, the retired swimming great worries that some athletes may have trouble coping with this unprecedented postponement. “It’s a total bamboozle,” Phelps told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “There’s such a wave of emotions. I can’t imagine what these athletes are going through right now.” In an telephone interview from his Arizona home, where he is largely hunkered down like so many others around the globe, Phelps gave reluctant praise to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for putting off the Games until 2021 while the world deals with the pandemic. “Honestly, my first thought was I was relieved,” he said. “Now, there’s more of a chance that we can beat this thing and do what we need to do to save as many lives as possible. I was happy to see them logically making a smart decision. It’s just frustrating it took this long.” With the anticipated Olympic postponement now official, Phelps turned his attention to the world-class athletes who must deal with another jarring change to their preparations, even as they were still processing the cutbacks in training and lack of human contact stemming from worldwide efforts to curtail the virus. Since his retirement in 2016, following an unprecedented Olympic career that produced 23 golds and 28 medals overall, Phelps has talked of suffering from depression and anxiety. He even had thoughts of suicide at his lowest points. He knows this is a challenging time for those who had their sights on the Olympics, which were scheduled to open on July 24 but now have been delayed by up to a year. “As athletes, we’re so regimented,” Phelps said. “At this point, all the work is done. We’re just fine-tuning the small things to get to this point. Now it’s like, ‘Oh...we’re not competing.’ All these emotions start flaring up. I really think mental health is so important right now.” Phelps said the key to coping is keeping things as simple as possible. “Just control what you can control,” he said. “We’re in such uncharted waters. We’re getting all these big questions thrown at us: What if? What if? What if? It’s so hard to understand. We’re having a hard time just wrapping our head around it.” Thinking back to his own career, Phelps said he probably could have coped with a postponement just fine during the prime of his career because he had such steely focus on his goals. But he probably would have struggled with a delay leading up to the 2012 London Games, when his motivation was lagging and he wasn’t even sure he wanted to compete. “I was barely holding it together by the seams,” Phelps recalled. “I don’t know if I could’ve made it another year.” He retired after London, only to return to the pool less than two years later with a newfound passion that carried him to five more golds and a silver in Rio. Phelps said he will gladly offer counseling and a shoulder to lean on to any athlete who is struggling over these next weeks and months. “Some guys have already reached out, asking questions about what they can do,” he said. “Anything I can do to support my friends and others who want to try to accomplish their goals and dreams, I’ll do it. This is such a big time for mental health. It’s more important now than it ever was before. I hope everybody is taking care of themselves mentally and physically at this time. I’m always available and open at any hour to anybody who needs help.” Now 34, Phelps is happily married with three young sons. Though he has no plans for another comeback, he is still involved in the sport through a swimwear company and other business ventures. He was looking forward to attending the Olympics as a spectator for the first time. He hasn’t been to Japan since his breakthrough performance at the 2001 world championships. “I’m somebody who truly loves and enjoys watching the sport at the highest level,” Phelps said. “I obviously know what it takes to get there. I was truly looking forward to seeing how everybody was doing.” He still plans to be at the Olympics. But, like everyone else, his plans are hold. AP
Thursday, March 26, 2020
UNCERTAINTY CONFRONTS OLYMPIANS NOW everything becomes more complicated, including the prospect of missing a bunch of class time if the Tokyo Olympics are shifted to May 2021, for example.
OULD-BE Olympians and their coaches have gone from days and weeks of mulling one sort of uncertainty raised by the coronavirus pandemic—Are the Tokyo Games going to be held as scheduled?—to a whole other set of questions now that an indefinite postponement is official. To begin with: When, exactly, are these Summer Olympics going to be staged? All that’s known for sure as of now, based on Tuesday’s announcement by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and local organizers, is that instead of July 24 to August 9, 2020, they will be sometime—any time at all—in 2021 (although, oddly enough, they’re still going to be known as the 2020 Games). What will the qualifying rules be? Some sports already finished that process. Others are in a total state of flux. Will the delay force athletes to contemplate abandoning the Olympics altogether, because retirement beckons? And, if so, what will they decide? “More than anything, it pushes back what life was going to offer,” said Cat Osterman, who turns 37 next month and is the oldest player on the US softball team. “My husband and I have talked about the possibility of having a kid after July of 2020,” said Osterman, a pitcher who is one of two holdovers from the team that collected a silver medal at the 2008 Olympics, “and now that has to go into effect after 2021.” Or as Belgian cyclist Greg van Avermaet, the 2016 Olympic road race champion who turns 34 in May, put it, “The postponement means I will be another year older, which isn’t ideal, but I know I will be as motivated as ever.” American fencer Kat Holmes was an Olympian four years ago and was on her way to earning a spot this time, with an eye on starting medical school in New York in the fall. She had everything lined up, too: Holmes was going to catch a flight from Japan to Newark Airport right after the closing ceremony so she could make it to her first day of school orientation. Now everything becomes more complicated, including the prospect of missing a bunch of class time if the Tokyo Olympics are shifted to May 2021, for example. “I have to postpone the rest of my life for a year and kind of confront what the rest of a qualification means. We don’t know,” Holmes told The Associated Press. “I didn’t come this far not to give 100 percent at the
Olympics.... And it’s kind of the same thing with med school,” she said. “I finally got into med school just like two or three weeks ago. It seems like a decade ago.” US swimmer Allison Schmitt is someone else who might need to reconsider her plans. Schmitt—who owns eight medals, including four golds—has dealt with depression and left her sport for two years after the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games. But she returned to training under Coach Bob Bowman in hopes of making her fourth Olympic team this year. She’ll turn 30 in June and told the AP that it’s too soon to make a definitive choice. “I know that our goals have not changed just because the date of the Olympics has changed,” Schmitt said. “Yes, this is time filled with emotion. I don’t think it would be smart to make an immediate decision with these emotions.” To be sure, there also are those who could benefit from the delay, because it offers extra months to let injuries heal. Basketball stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving come to mind (so long as the rescheduling doesn’t conflict with the National Basketball Association season, of course), as do such reigning Olympic champions as South African 400-meter runner Wayde van Niekerk and British tennis player Andy Murray. Others have financial concerns. Baseball is returning to the Olympics for the first time since 2008, and former New York Mets minor leaguer Jeremy Wolf was set to play outfield for Israel. Now the 26-year-old Wolf will try to get a non-baseball job this summer and has no idea if he will be able to play in 2021. “It changes a lot of things for a lot of guys,” Wolf said in a text message to the AP. “Who can still play, who can afford it [‘cause we’re not being paid], who will still be in game shape? A year-and-a-half is an eternity in baseball time.” The overwhelming initial sentiments Tuesday seemed to be a mix of disappointment and understanding—even among former athletes. “My first thought was I was relieved. Now there’s more of a chance that we can beat this and can do what we need to do to save as many lives as possible,” said Michael Phelps, the retired swimmer who collected a record 23 golds. “I was happy to see them logically making a smart decision. It’s just frustrating it took this long.” Three-time beach volleyball gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings called the postponement the “responsible choice.”
“Can you imagine making this decision after how many years and how much blood and sweat on a global level? People are having a problem calling off weddings, and calling off little tournaments, so imagine with all the billions of dollars that’s gone into this,” Walsh Jennings told the AP. A little more than half of the qualifying spots for Tokyo had been determined before the Covid-19 outbreak began affecting sporting events large and small around the globe, so sports federations will need to make adjustments. Entire countries are now on lockdown, more than 400,000 people worldwide have been infected and more than 18,000 have died, according to a running count kept by Johns Hopkins University. While most people suffer mild to moderate symptoms from the new virus, the fatality rate is higher among older people and those with existing health problems. “There is no need to host the Olympics at this time and have athletes sick and dying,” said Julius Yego, a silver medalist in the javelin for Kenya four years ago. The IOC and Japan still have work ahead to pull off a well-organized and safe Summer Games in the unprecedented circumstances of a postponed Olympics (they’ve been canceled during wartime in 1916, 1940 and 1944). Competitors are dealing with the new ground, too, right along with everyone else. “Many have both a sense of relief and of grief,” US women’s volleyball Coach Karch Kiraly said about athletes’ reactions to the postponement. “Tons of unknowns. We will, of course, reset, reengage, and figure out things one day at a time,” Kiraly, the only person to win Olympic gold in beach and indoor volleyball, wrote in an e-mail to the AP. “What other choice do we have?” AP
Teams, leagues drawing up employee game plans on pay
AJOR sports leagues and teams across the United States are being forced to write a new game plan on how to pay employees and keep the franchises solvent in the wake of a coronavirus pandemic that has all but stopped revenue and brought competition to a halt. Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Football League (NFL) and National Basketball Association (NBA) have not made employee cuts at this point. Nascar announced major cuts across the board Tuesday. The National Hockey League (NHL) is cutting salaries for league employees 25 percent starting next month. Individual teams seemingly are having a hard time making up their minds. The
New Jersey Devils of the NHL and Philadelphia 76ers of the NBA—who have the same co-owners, flip-flopped in the past two days. Employees making over $100,000 had their salaries cut by 20 percent on Monday. The decision was rescinded Tuesday. Professional Golfers Association (PGA) Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan has suspended his salary indefinitely while golf tournaments are not being played. “You are going to see people experiment, trying out different formulas with all that is going on,” said Andrew Zimbalist, an economist at Smith College on Northampton, Massachusetts. “There is not some major algorithm out there that tells you what to do in this circumstance. They have not faced it before.” Zimbalist said most leagues and teams are
attempting to keep people employed with a decent level of income. The problem is, things can change almost daily on political and financial fronts. Nascar made the biggest news Tuesday, ordering staff pay cuts across its entire company until the series returns to racing. Nascar President Steve Phelps sent a late-afternoon memo to employees saying all officers will have a 25-percent reduction in salary, while all other employees will have their salary reduced by 20 percent. Budget expenses have also been frozen, and employees are being encouraged to use vacation. Nascar is currently suspended until May 9, a span costing the series seven of its elite Cup races. Phelps has vowed all will be rescheduled. Nascar was four races into an 11-month
NLIKE other sports where athletes had already qualified, golf was not thrown into any significant chaos when the Olympics were postponed until 2021 because of the new coronavirus. Eligibility for each country is determined by the world ranking about a month before the start of competition. The ranking was frozen during the shutdown in golf, and one can only speculate when the sport will resume. Justin Thomas said he was “bummed” to hear about the postponement, though he understood and said it was the right decision. “Whenever it’s played, it’ll be great and I hope I’m a part of the team,” Thomas said in a text message Tuesday. Antony Scanlon, executive director of the International Golf Federation, said from his home in Switzerland the news was too fresh to determine the next step. It’s likely that whenever the Olympics are scheduled, the cutoff for the world ranking will be set accordingly. The question going forward is which players it helps or hurts. And that starts with Tiger Woods, whom Olympic organizers would love to see in Tokyo chasing a gold medal. Woods was No. 4 among Americans going into the year (as many as four players from a country are eligible if all are in the top 15) but has slipped to No. 6 after playing only twice this year. He has said his back wasn’t ready to play in Mexico City and at Bay Hill and The Players. And now there’s no golf for at least two months. That wouldn’t have helped his chances. Now he gets another year. He’ll also be another year older, 45, and Woods already is starting to reduce his schedule. Brooks Koepka was leaning against the Olympics because of the slow start to his season brought on by injury. Now he might rethink the schedule depending on where the Olympics fall in 2021. Dustin
Johnson indicated even before Covid-19 became a pandemic that the Olympics would make it difficult for him to be ready for the FedEx Cup. For the women, it could be a bonus for Inbee Park, the defending gold medalist. Currently, Park would be the first reserve among the South Korean powerhouse team. She added to her schedule at the start of the year to improve her ranking and now gets more time. Albane Valenzuela of Switzerland, who turned pro late last year after a decorated career at Stanford, currently holds the final spot in the women’s field. She qualified for the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016 as an amateur. AP OLYMPIC organizers would love to see in Tokyo Tiger Woods chasing a gold medal.
season when the coronavirus brought the series to a halt. Denis Hamilton, an assistant professor of professional practice in management and global business at Rutgers Business School, said the goal of any business is to survive. When organizations are losing money because of a crisis, they are forced to reduce the work force or cut salaries. Hamilton said franchises can be hurt if they are forced to keep up payments negotiated through collective bargaining. It’s a problem that might force labor and management to return to the table. “I would think a lot of sports teams don’t furlough administrative people or mangers or coaches,” Hamilton said. “I might be wrong about it. My guess is they can probably carry those people for a long time. I think it’s those people who are indirectly dependent on events occurring are those who are adversely affected.” Zimbalist said the financial crunch of the pandemic will hit the weaker financial league harder, counting the NHL and MLS in that category. AP
B8 Thursday, March 26, 2020
IT comes together during a meeting on Tuesday among International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and a handful of other executives from the IOC and Japan’s organizing committee.
By Eddie Pells
The Association Press
OT even the Summer Olympics could withstand the force of the coronavirus. After weeks of hedging, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) took the unprecedented step of postponing the world’s biggest sporting event, a global extravaganza that’s been cemented into the calendar for more than a century. The Tokyo Games, slated for 11,000 athletes from more than 200 countries and at a reported cost of $28 billion, had been scheduled to start July 24. They will now be pushed into 2021 on dates to be determined. They will still be called the 2020 Olympics—a symbolic gesture that the International Olympic Committee hopes will allow the games to “stand as a beacon of hope,” as it stated in delivering the news Tuesday. “I don’t think anybody was really prepared for this virus happening,” said American sprinter Noah Lyles, who had been primed to be one of the world’s breakout stars in Tokyo. “You look over the history of the Olympics and see that it’s usually war that’s stopped the Olympics from happening.” Only World War I and World War II have forced the Olympics to be canceled; they were scrubbed in 1916, 1940 and 1944. Now, a microscopic virus that is wreaking havoc with daily life around the planet, to say nothing of its sports schedule, has accomplished what no other virus (Zika in 2016), act of terrorism (the killing of Israelis in Munich in 1972), boycott (1980 and 1984), threat of war (frequent) or actual world war itself has managed to do: postpone the
Postponement will upend other major events
games and push them into an odd-numbered year. For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The global pandemic has sickened at least 420,000 people and killed more than 18,000 worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. Four-time Olympic hockey champion Hayley Wickenheiser, the first IOC member to criticize the body’s long-held, dug-in refusal to change the dates, called the postponement the “message athletes deserved to hear.” “To all the athletes: take a breath, regroup, take care of yourself and your families. Your time will come,” she wrote on Twitter. When will that time be? Nobody knows yet. It was a big part of the reason the IOC refused to announce a postponement that was becoming more inevitable with each passing day. Major sports organizations, including World Athletics and the gymnastics, track and swimming federations in the United States, were calling for a delay. So were major countries, including Canada, Brazil and Australia. Even more compellingly, athletes were raising their voices. They were speaking to the unfairness of not being able to train, fearful that a trip out of the house could put them, or someone in their hometown, in jeopardy. And what of their competitors, some living halfway around the world, who might not have as many restrictions, and could be getting a leg up? There were fears about the eroding anti-doping protocols caused by virus-related restrictions
firstname.lastname@example.org / Editor: Jun Lomibao
A MOST DIFFICULT DECISION and qualifying procedures that were disintegrating before their eyes. “A bittersweet victory for athletes,” one group, Global Athlete, called the decision. “On one hand, their Olympic dreams have been put on hold. On the other hand, athletes have shown their power when they work together as a collective.” With IOC President Thomas Bach guiding the process, the committee had said as recently as Sunday that it might take up to four weeks for an announcement to come. It took two days. But make no mistake, there are still weeks of difficult planning ahead. Many of Tokyo’s arenas, stadiums and hotels are under contract for a games held from July 24 to August 9. Remaking those arrangements is doable, but will come at a cost. There are also considerations beyond the top-line price tag. Among them: The $1 billion-plus the IOC was to receive from broadcast partner NBC; the millions in smaller athlete endorsement contracts that are now in limbo; the budgets of the individual national Olympic committees; the availability of the 80,000 volunteers who signed up to help. “People are having a problem calling off weddings, and calling off little tournaments, so imagine with all the billions of dollars that’s gone into this,” five-time Olympian Kerri Walsh Jennings told The Associated Press. “They have a grieving process to go through. They have so many moving parts to think about.” There’s also the matter of the international sports schedule. Nearly all 33 sports on the Olympic program have key events, including world championships, on the docket for 2021. Hayward Field at the University of Oregon was rebuilt and expanded at the cost of around $200 million to hold next year’s track and field world championships. Now
that event will likely be rescheduled. “Of course there’s going to be challenges,” said Paul Doyle, an agent who represents about 50 Olympic athletes. “At the same time, this is what had to happen.” It came together during a meeting Tuesday among Bach, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and a handful of other executives from the IOC and Japan’s organizing committee. Among the first casualties of the IOC’s impeccably curated timeline was the torch relay. Organizers were planning to start the journey through the host country in the northeast prefecture of Fukushima on Thursday, albeit with no fans and no torchbearer. Instead, the flame will be stored and displayed, with its next move to be determined later. Just one of hundreds of difficult changes the IOC leaders have to make in the upcoming weeks and months. But the most difficult decision is behind them. The unspoken irony in it all is that when Japan was awarded the games in 2013, it came on the strength of a campaign in which it positioned itself as “the safe pair of hands.” It was a time when the world was still emerging from the Great Recession, and the Olympic movement was especially sensitive to the runaway expenses the Summer Games were incurring. Japan, like every host before it, had trouble sticking to the budget. Nevertheless, seven years later, and through no fault of its own—in fact, Japan is one of the countries that appears to be avoiding the worst of the coronavirus—Tokyo residents are watching their grand plans for 2020 implode. So, onto 2021. As far as the Olympic world—and perhaps the world at large — is concerned, it can’t get here soon enough.
HE expected yet stunning decision Tuesday to postpone the 2020 Summer Olympics because of the coronavirus could have a ripple effect on other major events, most notably the world championships for track and swimming. While the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has yet to set a new date for the Tokyo Games other than “not later than summer 2021,” the revised calendar undoubtedly will heavily impact two of the event’s biggest sports. The 2021 world athletics championships are scheduled for next summer in Eugene, Oregon, which is constructing a new stadium that will seat 30,000 on the site of historic Hayward Field. The next world aquatics championships are set for roughly the same time in Fukuoka, Japan. Paul Doyle, one of track and field’s most influential agents, believes the track worlds should be postponed until the summer of 2022, in the midst of what is essentially an off year for the sport. “That makes the most sense,” he said. “No global championships in 2022, so if we move it to 2022 that solves a lot of problems. If you put them in the same year, it’s not just having Olympics and worlds the same year. How do you select the teams?” This will be the first time the every-two-years event has been held in the United States. Now, it’s all about the timing. The track worlds are scheduled for August 6 to 15, which obviously won’t work if the Tokyo Olympics are pushed back a full year to roughly the same spot on the calendar as this year’s games—July 24 to August 9. If the Olympics are held in April or May, an idea that seems to be under serious consideration, the track worlds could press forward with their plans. Even so, Doyle said it would be better to delay the world championships to 2022. “I don’t think putting them in the same year makes a lot of sense, especially when really 2022, it should be relatively easy,” he said. “I don’t know all the intricacies of the city of Eugene. I would imagine that having a little more time might be good.” Swimming also holds its biggest event outside the Olympics in odd-numbered years. The 2021 aquatics championships—which in addition to swimming also include diving, water polo, artistic swimming, open-water swimming and the non-Olympic sport of high diving—are set for July 16 to August 1 in Fukuoka, which is about 1,088 kilometers southwest of Tokyo on the island of Kyushu. Again, that timing won’t work if the Olympics are shifted to the summer of 2021. But Cornel Marculescu, the executive director of world governing body FINA, said there is no chance of the next worlds being bumped back to 2022. “No, no, no, no, no, no,” he defiantly told The Associated Press by phone. AP
‘No-win’ Olympics gets another chance By Jim Litke
The Associated Press
ONEY talks, which is the short answer for why it took this long for the swells at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to listen to reason. For weeks, IOC leaders framed their refusal to shut down Tokyo 2020 as a noble cause instead of a cash grab. But that’s because they could afford to. Five days earlier, asked whether postponing the games would hurt the committee’s ability to pay its bills on time, president Thomas Bach didn’t have to think long. “The IOC has no cash flow problems,” he replied. Never mind that the very same athletes who actually make the games go were expected to continue sacrificing and put their lives on hold in the meantime. US fencer Kat Holmes, to name one, was set to begin medical school this fall and won’t know for some time when—or whether— she’ll be able to compete in 2021. “I didn’t come this far not to give 100 percent at the Olympics,” she said, adding a moment later, “I don’t want to go into my first year of med school without committing 100
percent either.” But it wasn’t the tales about tough choices like Holmes’ or the photos and videos of world-class competitors reduced to lifting weights in empty parking lots, or banging volleyballs off a board set up in the backyard, that finally convinced the IOC and Japanese organizers to pull the plug. It wasn’t even the threats from Australia and Canada to stay away, or the growing reluctance of the U.S. Olympic Committee to take part. It was simple math. The reported cost to stage Tokyo 2020 was already upwards of $28 billion. In the same New York Times interview where Bach acknowledged the IOC had plenty of money on hand, he also conceded delaying the games by a year or two posed no real threat to its long-term viability, either. “We have our risk management policies in place and our insurance and this will make it possible for us to continue our operations and organize future Olympic Games,” Bach said. “Hide the empty seats” is a popular dictate in the TV sports industry, something executives remind producers and directors about all the time. It’s based on the idea that if only so many fans turned up in the stands, why would a viewer bother to watch?
Well, a cobbled-together Olympics this July would have made hiding anything impossible. It was already a logistical nightmare. With nearly every sport suspending play in the wake of the pandemic, more than two-thirds of the 11,000 potential Olympians from 200 countries still hadn’t qualified. There’s no way to know how many of them, not to mention Olympic officials, spectators and corporate sponsors and their clients would have begged off with concerns about safety. But it’s a safe bet that when Bach laid out the spreadsheets alongside the risk-management and insurance policies, he and the rest of the IOC brass concluded they’d be risking a lot more of their nest egg by going ahead this year instead of next. A few days ago, he asked for four weeks to make that assessment. Instead of apologizing for stringing people along, Bach came back in two days, still pushing the myth that “the Olympic flame could become the light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present.” Whatever. The saving grace is that not everything is about money. Most Olympic athletes make plenty of sacrifices without expectations of getting rich. For every LeBron James and Simone Biles, whose last go-round at an Olympics may have evaporated because of the postponement, there are hundreds, maybe thousands of Olympic athletes who will use it as fuel. AP
PHILIPPINE Olympic Committee President Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino praises the decision to postpone Tokyo 2020.
BAMBOL: IT’S THE RIGHT DECISION
HILIPPINE Olympic CommitteeI (POC) President Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino and Philippine Sport Commission (PSC) Chairman William Ramirez expressed relief over the official postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. “It’s the right decision,” Tolentino told BusinessMirror just minutes after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Tokyo 2020 organizers announced the Games will be moved to 2021. “It’s for the safety of everyone—the athletes, officials, organizers and spectators,” added Tolentino, also the president of the national cycling federation, PhilCycling. The decision came together during a meeting on Tuesday among Bach, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and a handful of other executives from the IOC and Japan’s organizing committee. The organizers and IOC have yet to announce the 2021 schedule, which are sure to impact world championships of various sports. Tolentino on Tuesday bared he was for the postponement of the Games—set for July 24 to August 9—because “the health and safety of everyone is paramount.” “I have always expressed that I favor postponement of the Games, given the way this crisis seem to be taking,” Ramirez said. “As I have repeatedly said, the safety and health of everyone is a top priority.” Four Filipinos already qualified for the Olympics—gymnast Carlos Yulo, pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena, and boxers Eumir Marcial and Irish Magno. All of them are in quarantine—Yulo in Japan, Obiena in Italy and the boxers in Baguio City—while the other hopefuls, including Hidilyn Diaz who is in Malaysia, remain restricted from training. Ramirez said the PSC will shoulder additional expenses for the preparation of the athletes, including their food, accommodation and transportation throughout the quarantine. The new coronavirus or Covid-19 has impacted the world and in sports, the pandemic has caused the cancelation or postponement of all major events, including the very important Olympic qualifiers. With nearly all sports suspending play, more than two-thirds of the 11,000 potential Olympians from 200 countries still hadn’t qualified. Tokyo programmed 33 sports, all of which have yet to complete qualifiers. Tolentino praised the IOC and Tokyo organizers for choosing a postponement of the Games. “It’s (postponement) better because it is not cancelation of the Games,” he said. The postponement would benefit Filipino athletes who have either already qualified or are trying to qualiyy. “Now we have more chances for the gold medal or medals. And those who have yet to qualify could train some more,” Tolentino said. The Olympics—which will still be symbolically called the Tokyo 2020 Games—moving back to 2021 would impact the 31st Southeast Asian Games. But Tolentino said that won’t pose much of a problem. “We will recommend that Vietnam hosts the 31st Sea Games during the latter part of the year, just like ours [31st SEA Games in December last year],” he said. Vietnam already announced on the web that it would be hosting the SEA Games from November 21 to December 2, practically the same as the November 30 to December 11 Philippine Games. Hanoi will be the main hub of the biennial competitions. Those dates, Tolentino said, provide enough window from Tokyo 2020 which could be in the July-August period—summer in northern hemisphere. Vietnam set a May 20 and 21 SEA Games Federation meeting in Hanoi to officially present its program. “We will support Vietnam if the hosts chose those dates,” Tolentino said.