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VOL. 9 NO. 81

SEPTEMBER 13, 2013






Senate to expand probe of pork scam

PH up six places in global competitiveness

Freeze EI premiums for 3 years

Filipino-Canadian in Focus: Jason Godfrey

PCI says goodbye to summer

‘Misuari, MNLF felt betrayed when PH gov’t withdrew from 1996 peace pact review’ BY NIKKO DIZON Philippine Daily Inquirer

Angry Church Fr. Chito Vicente raises a fist as priests, nuns and lay leaders hold a rally outside Sto. Domingo Church in Quezon City demanding the abolition of the pork barrel. They also called on the government to prosecute and punish the masterminds behind the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam. PHOTO BY RAFFY LERMA

Whistle-blowers bare Napoles pork records

There are entries for ‘Pogi,’ ‘Kuya,’ ‘Sexy’ and ‘Tanda’ BY NANCY C. CARVAJAL Philippine Daily Inquirer TWO WITNESSES in the P10-billion pork barrel scam will submit to the Na-

tional Bureau of Investigation five notebooks containing evidence of Janet LimNapoles’ dealings with lawmakers, the INQUIRER has learned.

❱❱ PAGE 9 ‘Misuari, MNLF’


Statement on Crisis Situation #ZamboCrisis #PrayforZamboanga ❱❱ PAGE 4

❱❱ PAGE 9 Whistle-blowers bare

MANILA, PHILIPPINES — Zamboanga City woke up Monday morning under siege from hundreds of Moro National Liberation Front members (MNLF) from the faction of Nur Misuari who had wanted to raise their group’s flag, effectively declaring independence from the government after they felt left out of the peace process being hammered out with the rival Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). One Navy Special Forces personnel and four civilians were reported killed while six other Navy men, including an officer, and 14 civilians were wounded in the firefight between the military and the MNLF forces as they occupied the villages of Sta. Catalina, Sta. Barbara,


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Philippine Canadian Inquirer

Philippine News


House moves to cut pork out of 2014 budget BY LEILA B. SALAVERRIA Philippine Daily Inquirer A MOVE to abolish the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) in the proposed 2014 national budget is gaining bipartisan support in the House of Representatives, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte said. Belmonte told reporters that a statement cobbled during a caucus on Monday of the House majority led by the ruling Liberal Party could very well turn into a resolution that would ask the appropriations committee to delete the P25billion lump sum item for the PDAF in the proposed General Appropriations Act next year. But despite the removal of this lump sum, lawmakers would still have the chance to refer beneficiaries for government assistance. The lump sum amount for the PDAF, also known as the pork barrel, if deleted could then be distributed to executive agencies, Belmonte said. Lawmakers could then refer to these agencies beneficiaries for such projects such as medical and educational assistance. Lawmakers reserve the right to make recommendations to agencies, he added. The statement reads: “We, the members of the House of the 16th Congress support President Aquino’s efforts to promote transparency and accountability as we join the call for the abolition of the PDAF. In view of this, we ask the committee on appropriations to remove the P25-billion provision on PDAF in the 2014 budget. “As representatives of respective constituencies with a mandate to voice out the needs of the people, legitimate needs for social services have to be addressed by social agencies.” Belmonte said the statement had been signed by Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales; Deputy Speakers Carlos Padilla, Sergio Apostol, Pangalian Balindong, Roberto Puno, Giorggidi Aggabao and Dina Abad; party leaders Elpidio Bar-

zaga (National Unity Party), Mel Senen Sarmiento (Liberal Party), Eleandro Jesus Madrona (Nacionalista Party), Enrique Cojuangco and Mark Mendoza (Nationalist People’s Coalition) and Abigail Binay (United Nationalist Alliance) and party-list leaders Nicanor Briones and Raymond Mendoza. The party leaders have been talking to their members to get their support for the statement, Belmonte said. House Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora said where the PDAF would go must be made clear, because the funds could just be placed under different agencies as part of a “shell game.” Caucus on PDAF fate

“Wewant to know where the money will be going. It’s not enough to call for abolition. If we’re going to abolish it, do we see a net reduction by P25.4 billion of the budget? Otherwise, this is going to be just another shell game where we remove the shell from one agent to the next and declare victory,” he said in a press briefing. Zamora also said the House should hold an all-member caucus to discuss the details on the fate of the PDAF. “We have a stake in this, too. We have district and party-list representatives, too,” he added. The minority wants the abolition not just of the PDAF but of all lump sum budgeting, he said. Calls to scrap all pork barrel funds have mounted following allegations that lawmakers’ pork barrel funds were funneled to bogus nongovernment organizations for ghost projects. A Commission on Audit report also revealed the questionable use of billions of pesos in PDAF. Zamora said that with Belmonte’s signature on the statement, he expected that the rest of the majority would immediately follow. “His leadership is on the line,” Zamora said. Political suicide

He acknowledged that calling for the abolition of the PDAF could have dire consequences. “Those who sign the

resolution may regret it come election time,” he said. Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan said signing the statement would be like committing “political hara-kiri.” Zamora said that people were waiting to see the prosecution of those who misused their pork barrel. “Wewant to see first the punishment of the guilty individual and the declaration that some are innocent. Then we want to take a look at the process to find out how this process allowed so many individuals to benefit, the deficiencies, and then talk about how to go about changing that process,” he said. 1BAP Rep. Silvestre Bello, who is also with the minority, believes the people are angrier at those who pocketed the pork barrel funds than at the pork barrel itself. “If all those whowere mentioned in the report would go on leave, then people might believe we are serious about this,” he added. P-Noy letter will do

Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza said President Aquino could easily just send a letter to the Senate and House leadership deleting the PDAF item, noting that the Chief Executive had already called for the scrapping of PDAF. “The reason is valid because of the public condemnation of the malpractice (in the use of PDAF),” he said. Mr. Aquino, however, in calling for the

abolition of PDAF in next year’s budget was proposing a new mechanism to replace the pork barrel, such as “line item” instead of lump sum budgeting. Atienza said there would be no more need for such a statement or resolution if the Department of Budget and Management would itself remove the P25billion PDAF allocation in the proposed national budget. “There would be no more room for backroom caucuses, deliberations, horse-trading,” he said. Remove discretionary power

“We need to abolish the pork barrel, the pork barrel system as a whole, and the time to do it is now, not next year,” he added, saying he got information that some of his colleagues wanted to delay the PDAF abolition until the 2015 budget deliberations. Camarines Sur Rep. Maria Leonor Robredo has filed a resolution seeking to remove the “discretionary power” of congressmen over the disbursement of PDAF allocations. Under House Resolution No. 236, representatives would consult with stakeholders in identifying “priority projects” for which the pork barrel would be spent. Congressmen “shall ensure that the allocation of the funds reflect the priorities identified during the consultation,” according to the resolution, which was supported by four other legislators. ■

Philippine News


Statement of Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco on Crisis Situation #ZamboCrisis #PrayforZamboanga THE CITY Government is mobilizing all resources to address the situation brought about by the infiltration of alleged MNLF members in some coastal barangays. We are in close coordination with our police and military authorities and everything is being done to solve the crisis the soonest possible time with minimal damage to lives and properties. Since the start of the crisis at around 430am today, the ZCPO report that 6 people were killed—one policemen, 1 navy personnel and 4 civilians and 24 wounded in the course of the encounter between government troops and the rebels. More casualties are reported on the enemy side. The barangays affected are Sta. Catalina, Sta. Barbara, Talon-talon and Mampang. 20 hostages are reported in Sta. Catalina and 200 hostages at Kasanyangan Village in Mampang.

Some 600 evacuees from Arena Blanco and Rio Hondo are sheltered at the grandstand; 847 evacuees at Tetuan Central School and Tetuan Parish Church while several others are at the Talon-talon National High School. The City Health Office in cooperation with the private hospitals are setting up an emergency hospital at the grandstand where all victims will be directed. Ambulances from public and private hospitals will be stationed in the area. The city has set up a command center with City Administrator Antonio Orendain Jr. as ground supervisor sub-center. Hotline number is 992-2385 or 992-3137. City Police OIC Director Col. Chiquito Malayo and Task Force Zamboanga are designated ground commanders. Police hotline numbers are 117/ 166 and 09063680749. We will be coming out with hourly bulletins with official

Mayor Beng Climaco: The public is advised to remain calm but vigilant and alert, report anything suspicious or unusual happening in your locality. PHOTO FROM ABS-CBNNEWS.COM, INSET: THEPHILSOUTHANGLE.COM

statements coming from my office through tweeter account @zamboangacitygov’t, city government and Beng Climaco facebook accounts. We appeal to the media not to sensationalize or leak sensitive

information so as not to jeopardize the operations of our authorities. Zamcelco has been asked to exert all efforts to prevent power interruptions or curtailment while the situation is still unre-

solved. Early this morning we have suspended classes in all levels both public and private institutions as well as declared the suspension of work in all offices. The City Peace and Order Council has established subcommittees to look into the different aspects of the crisis situation. I am in touch with President Aquino and the Executive Department and they are monitoring and helping us resolve this concern. We appeal to media to coordinate with the City Hall Communications Team for updates and collaboration so as not to confuse the public as well as not jeopardize operations of our authorities. The public is advised to remain calm but vigilant and alert, report anything suspicious or unusual happening in your locality. #ZamboCrisis #PrayforZamboanga ■

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Philippine News


CBCP: Pork barrel act of terror vs poor Bishops remind lawmakers: Thou shall not steal BY PHILIP C. TUBEZA Philippine Daily Inquirer WARNING THAT government corruption was “a growing social cancer,” the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) in a pastoral letter yesterday condemned as immoral and an “act of terrorism” against the poor the legislators’ pork barrel system and the “politics of patronage” that it promoted. “This is not just an offense of malicious unscrupulous citizens or the betrayal of elected public officials. This is an offense against God who commanded us ‘Thou shall not steal’ and ‘Thou shall not covet your neighbor’s goods,’” said the two-page letter signed by CBCP president and Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma. “Our protests should not just emanate from the bad feeling that we have been personally or communally transgressed, violated or duped. It should come rather from the realization that God has been offended and we have become less holy as a people because of this,” it added. “Our first response to the pork barrel issue must be not protest but contrition. We are not just victims of a corrupt system,” the 120-strong CBCP said. “We have all, in one way or

another, contributed to this worsening social cancer— through our indifferent silence or through our cooperation when we were benefiting from the sweet cake of graft and corruption,” it added. The bishops urged the faithful to join Pope Francis in offering prayers and sacrifices on Sept. 7, the vigil of the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary. “Pope Francis has asked all Catholics worldwide to offer prayers in atonement for our sins against world peace and in particular pray for the restoration of peace in Syria,” the CBCP said. Day of atonement

“In union with the Pope, let us also make Sept. 7 our day of atonement for our sins against peace in our country. Stealing destroys peace. Lying harms our peace,” it said. “Without sufficient government healthcare,” the letter said, “stealing government money has caused the death of the poor.” “Many remain homeless without dignified government housing aid—unabated government stealing has deprived them of dignified housing,” the CBCP said. “Many farmers without seeds and fertilizers remain entrenched in poverty—government stealing has kept them enchained to dehumanizing

poverty,” it said. “Many children remain malnourished and stay out of school due to poverty—government stealing robs them of opportunities for the future,” it added. The bishops said integrity must be restored in the conduct of public office and that every government official from the rank and file to the highest executive must prove themselves worthy of the title “honorable.” “According to our moral judgment, the present pork barrel practice in government is fertile ground for graft and corruption. Promoting the politics of patronage, it is contrary to the principles of stewardship, transparency and accountability. It is immoral to continue this practice,” the CBCP said. ‘Punish the errant’

“The wheels of law and justice must roll swiftly so that we can immediately punish the errant, restore what has been stolen and return to moral conduct,” it said. “We call on our pastors of souls to educate our people in their political duties as good citizens. We cannot be good Christians if we are not good citizens, and good citizenship in a democracy calls for participation and vigilance,” it added. The CBCP said vigilance should be maintained not just during

Fr. Francis Lucas, CBCP on Pork barrel: to abolish or not to abolish? PHOTO FROM CBCPNEWS.COM

elections but “all the time.” “It is but right that citizens demand accountability and transparency. We call on all Filipinos of goodwill, especially among our Catholic faithful, not to stand idly by in this moment of truth,” the bishops said. Assiduous search for truth

“Let us be concerned and let this concern be manifested in our assiduous search for the truth in the spirit of prayer and solidarity. Prayer will make us humble and open; solidarity will make us strong,” it added. The CBCP said stewardship was “greatly wanting in our

country” and that government leaders should be reminded that “positions in the country are public trusts for the service of the common good.” “As stewards of the people, leaders should be transparent to them and should be open to be held accountable,” the bishops said. “The political crisis we are facing now is an opportunity for our leaders to show that they are ready to be investigated, to set up radical changes for better governance, and to seek for the good that would benefit all, especially the poor and those who suffer,” they added. ■

EX-PSC chair faces graft rap BY CYNTHIA D. BALANA Philippine Daily Inquirer

Harry Angping.


FORMER PHILIPPINE Sports Commission (PSC) Chair Harry Angping and a businessman have been charged with graft before the Sandiganbayan for their alleged connivance in the hiring of 80 personnel without public bidding and PSC board authority in 2009. Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales approved the indictment of Angping, a former representative of Manila, and Edmund Montanes, then president and general manager of Philcare Manpower Services, a company engaged in janitorial

services. The three-page complaint filed by Jose Ronald Bersales, the Ombudsman’s graft investigation and prosecution officer III, said the accused allegedly conspired to hire 71 janitors and nine gardeners without the necessary requirements. A preliminary investigation was conducted and found “sufficient ground to engender a wellfounded belief that the crime charged has been committed.” The complaint said that Angping “unlawfully and criminally gave unwarranted benefits, advantage and preference” to Philcare Manpower Service by procuring, through an addendum to the Contract of Service

dated March 5, 2009, without conducting a competitive public bidding for the said services. Based on the contract, the PSC paid P15,324.42 per personnel monthly from March 1,2009, to January 31, 2011, to Philcare Manpower Services. The Ombudsman said that by entering into the questioned contract, the PSC was deprived of the opportunity to obtain the lowest possible bid or the most advantageous and beneficial contract, “to the damage and prejudice of the government.” The complaint likewise said that Angping committed the crime by taking advantage of his public office in relation to his official duties. ■

Philippine News


Senate to expand probe of pork scam Inquiry to include 74 other NGOs BY NORMAN BORDADORA Philippine Daily Inquirer SEN. FRANCIS Escudero has raised the possibility that the heads of the government agencies that allowed their offices to be used as conduits for pork barrel to questionable nongovernment organizations (NGOs) will be held liable even if the allocations were endorsed by lawmakers. Speaking to reporters the hearing of the Senate blue ribbon committee, Escudero said he expected the panel to expand its inquiry to include not just the eight NGOs controlled by Janet Lim-Napoles identified by the Commission on Audit (COA) but also the 74 others that figured in its special audit. On whether senators who were repeatedly mentioned on Thursday in the inquiry into the misuse of their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) were liable, Escudero said, “We have yet to see documents.” He stressed that the

panel had so far heard only testimonial evidence from the implementing agencies. “What was clear was the liability of the implementing agencies. They didn’t comply with the COA and GPP (General Procurement Procedure) rules as regards procuring the services of NGOs,” Escudero said in an interview. “Whether inherited, whether they started the policy, it’s still quite wrong. It is still a violation of the law.” On the liability of the implementing agencies, Escudero said: “Definitely, administrative. Definitely, it will fall under the antigraft law, Republic Act No. 3019.” Escudero said the lowest offense would be violation of the anti-graft law’s Section 3E on giving undue advantage to a particular NGO. “Depending on how much was lost, they also have a liability for graft, malversation, or if it reaches the threshold amount, plunder,” Escudero said. Assistant Agriculture Sec-

retary Salvador Salacup, the former head of Zamboanga Rubber Estates Corp., and Alan Javellana, the former president of National Agribusiness Corp., separately testified on Thursday that Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. endorsed NGOs to their agencies as recipients of their PDAF entitlements. Escudero during the hearing took Salacup and Javellana to task for their failure to follow procurement rules that require either public bidding or negotiated procurement when engaging NGOs in using public funds. Ignorance no excuse

Salacup during the hearing said he didn’t know of such requirements. Ignorance excuses no one, Escudero said in the interview. He said the blue ribbon inquiry should expand its probe to include all 82 NGOs that figured in the COA special audit of PDAF use from 2007 to 2009 and not just the eight that had

been identified in media reports to be those of Napoles. “The blue ribbon committee has identified eight Napoles NGOs when the basis for the information is just newspaper reports. The committee has yet to find direct evidence on which ones are really identified with Napoles,” Escudero said. “The COA identified 82 NGOs involved in the scam using PDAF. Only eight of these are those of Napoles. There are 74 more that may be owned by her or not,” Escudero said. Escudero said the NGOs in the COA special audit should be investigated whether or not they belonged to Napoles. “The accusation of the COA is the same. Ghost deliveries, fake receipts, NGOs that you can’t locate and nonexistent suppliers,” Escudero said. Senators to explain

Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, the blue ribbon committee chair, said in a radio interview the whistle-blowers led by

Benhur Luy and Merlina Suñas would fill in the holes on how the money ended up in the pockets of Napoles, the senators and representatives and their senior staff members. He told dzBB that the committee would continue with its hearings even if the Ombudsman had taken control of the case. The COA, the Department of Justice and the Ombudsman are still reviewing the evidence against Napoles and the NGOs. This early, Guingona said it was clear that the pork barrel would be abolished. “I think the evil outweighs the good, therefore let’s abolish the pork,” he said. The whistle-blowers will be asked to testify only if they submitted affidavits, which will form the basis of tracking the money flow from the government to the fake NGOs, he said. After completing the “story,” Guingona said the panel would have no choice but to compel the implicated senators to answer the charges. “We have yet to establish that the money came back to senators, we have only established that the money went to fake NGOs,” he said. ■ With a report from Gil C. Cabacungan

Philippine News


8 killed as Muslim rebels clash Sotto gives up P200-M with troops, take scores of pork in Senate speech hostages in southern Philippines BY CATHY YAMSUAN Philippine Daily Inquirer

BY JIM GOMEZ AND TERESA CEROJANO The Associated Press MANILA, PHILIPPINES— About 200 Muslim rebels were holding nearly 300 people hostage Monday after clashing with government troops and rampaging through coastal communities in the southern Philippines, leaving at least eight people dead, officials said. The fighting occurred after troops backed by tanks blocked the Moro National Liberation Front guerrillas—armed with assault rifles and grenade launchers—from marching into Zamboanga city, a major port city, to raise their flag at city hall, military spokesman Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said. He said the rebels were boxed into a Muslim coastal slum called Rio Hondo and were refusing to negotiate with security forces. Zamboanga Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco said sporadic gunbattles killed a navy special forces member, a policeman and four civilians, and that 24 civilians, rebels and soldiers were wounded. The military said at least two guerrillas were killed. “Everything is being done to solve the crisis as soon as possible with minimal damage to lives and properties,” Climaco said. The military and police initially reported 20 residents were being held hostage by the rebels but Zagala said later Monday that up to 290 people were being held captive in three villages near Rio Hondo based on reports by government forces. Alberto Sumalpong Jr. said he and his family were awakened by blasts of gunfire and then fled to safety from their village, but he later returned to check on their belongings. “Some villagers returned to check on their houses but ended up also being taken hostage,” he told The Associated Press by telephone. Zagala said the rebels planned to march into Zamboanga, a bustling port city of

Zamboanga Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco said sporadic gunbattles killed a navy special forces member, a policeman and four civilians, and that 24 civilians, rebels and soldiers were wounded. PHOTO FROM GMANETWORK.COM

nearly 1 million people, and hoist their flag at city hall but government forces discovered the plan three days ago and took defensive positions. “We cannot allow another armed force to march around our cities. That is unacceptable,” he said. TV footage showed troops and police in battle gear taking cover behind buildings as residents fled with bags of clothes. Troops secured a hospital, and most stores, businesses and schools in the city were shut. The rebels demanded that troops move an army tank farther away and remove snipers from the top of buildings, warning they would kill a hostage if they were harmed. They also wanted a shelter for their hostages by nightfall and said they would otherwise drag them to an undisclosed location, Jimmy Villaflores, an officer of the rebel-held Sta. Catalina village, told radio DZBB. The violence is the latest flare-up of Muslim unrest that has plagued the country’s poverty-stricken Mindanao region on and off for decades. It shatters years of relative calm in Zamboanga city, a predominantly Christian region 860 kilometres (540 miles) south of Manila. The Moro group signed a 1996 peace accord with the government, but hundreds of its fighters held on to their arms and have accused officials of re-

neging on a promise to develop an autonomous region for minority Muslims in the south of the predominantly Roman Catholic country. The group later split into factions and faded into the background as its largest breakaway bloc, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, gained strength and continued fighting. The 11,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front has engaged the Philippine government in Malaysian-brokered peace talks, which have progressed recently toward a new Muslim autonomy deal. But a Moro National Liberation Front guerrilla faction led by Nur Misuari felt left out and has issued new threats. The trouble in Zamboanga city began late Sunday when police arrested five Moro National Liberation Front guerrillas who were wearing combat uniforms and carrying pistols in Rio Hondo, the military said. Then a navy patrol spotted a large boat and eight smaller vessels carrying dozens of armed guerrillas off Rio Hondo, sparking a gunbattle at sea that killed a member of the navy special forces and wounded six others, Zagala said. The clash spilled into Rio Hondo, where bursts of gunfire forced hundreds of residents to flee. Reinforcement troops and police were deployed to cut off the guerrillas. ■

INDICATING “DISCOMFORT” over how the alleged misuse of the pork barrel funds has placed Congress in a bad light, Sen. Vicente Sotto III formally swore off partaking of the congressional largesse for the remainder of his term. In a privilege speech, Sotto jumped the gun on his colleagues, most of whom have indicated their agreement with President Aquino’s plan to abolish the P25billion Priority Development Assistance Fund ( PDAF) but have yet to decide on how to go about scrapping the pork barrel system. Sotto read the letter that he wrote Senate President Franklin Drilon on his intention to give up his P200-million entitlement under the PDAF. “I write to formally inform you that I will forego the allocation of the Priority Development Assistance Fund intended for my office in the succeeding years of my tenure,” Sotto said. Allotments to SUCs

“My decision is intended to forestall any further controversy that may arise in the use of the PDAF, particularly that it is a vehicle for corruption and that it is used to fund ghost projects,” he added.

The Senate deputy minority leader, nonetheless, set aside the remaining half or P100 million of his pork barrel allotment for 2013 to specialty and regional hospitals, and to the University of the Philippines and other state colleges and universities. “In the past, the release of our office’s allocated PDAF was solely prompted by the pleas of help and assistance from the LGUs (local government units) and the public. I could not have in good conscience and as a public servant, ignored our countrymen’s clamor for such,” Sotto said. He said he set aside P50 million of his remaining entitlement for 2013 to “all specialty and some regional hospitals of the government whose list is hereby attached, so that no patient may die for lack of money to get proper medical attention.” The P50 million that he set aside for the state educational institutions was “for tuition augmentation of those who cannot afford it, so that no student may think of suicide for lack of funds to take an exam.” Sotto was apparently referring to UP student Kristel Tejada who took her own life after being forced out of school because of her family’s difficulty to pay her tuition, among other reasons cited in the investigation. ■

Senator Sotto will reportedly forego the PDAF allocation for his office in the succeeding years of his tenure. PHOTO FROM PHILNEWS.PH

Philippine News


Whistle-blowers bare... The notebooks, in different sizes and colors, contain records of cash transactions, lists of properties, bank accounts and other information said to be related to the operation of Napoles’ business company JLN Corp. “These notebooks were records from 2012 up to August 2013 and all information contained in these notebooks, we personally wrote,” said one of the two new witnesses who came forward recently to testify against Napoles. In an interview with the INQUIRER in their safe house somewhere in Metro Manila, the witnesses said they worked for Napoles as presidents of bogus NGOs until she was ordered arrested by a Makati City court for the alleged illegal detention of Benhur Luy, the principal witness in the pork barrel scam. Napoles, who surrendered to President Aquino, is detained at a police camp in Laguna province on charges of serious illegal detention. The NBI plans to bring plunder charges against her, alleging that she siphoned off P10 billion in legislators’ allocations from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) into her bank accounts through bogus nongovernment organizations (NGOs). A lawyer for the two new witnesses, Lourdes Benipayo, was present during the interview. ❰❰ 1

Code names

An entry in the first blue notebook showed that P20 million from one of the whistleblowers’ NGO was allotted for “Kuya.” “‘Kuya’ and ‘Sexy’ are the code names for Sen. Jinggoy [Estrada]. ‘Pogi’ is for Sen. Bong [Ramon Revilla], and ‘Tanda’ is for Sen. [Juan Ponce] Enrile,” the NGO president said. In an earlier interview, Luy told the INQUIRER that it was Napoles who chose the code names for the senators. Contacted by the INQUIRER for comment, Estrada said he would issue a statement after the whistle-blowers had submitted the notebooks to the NBI. “I will react when these (the notebooks) have been submitted to the NBI,” Estrada said. Enrile and Revilla had yet to respond to the INQUIRER’s re-

quest for comments as of press time last night. All senators who have been implicated in the pork barrel scam have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. The second notebook, with a red cover, contained lists of Napoles’ properties. The third notebook (blue) contained records of documents received by the whistleblowers on behalf of their boss, credit card numbers and details of credit-card transactions. The fourth notebook (red) contains the names of contact persons and their phone numbers. The fifth notebook (bluegreen) is an organizer of the whistle-blowers. One of the two new witnesses said she delivered money to the house of Ruby Tuason, social secretary of former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada. US properties

In their testimony, the new witnesses claimed they were ordered by Napoles to convert millions of pesos to US dollars. “We exchanged pesos to dollars [at various money changers] that offered the lowest exchange rate,” the witness said. “The US dollars were then sent abroad through various money couriers to pay for purchases of properties in America,” they said. Luy, in an earlier interview with the INQUIRER, said Napoles’ daughter Jo-Christine had an account at Wells Fargo Bank in Irvine, California, and the account number was 920026595958. He said Napoles’ brother, Reynald Lim, had an account at Bank of America in San Diego, California, with the account number 1216143383. Luy said Napoles’ nephew Jose Emmanuel Lim had an account at Wells Fargo Bank in Pasadena Lake, California (account number 8022280068). Deeds of sale

The new witnesses submitted as annexes to their sworn statements deeds of sale for various local properties in the name of Napoles’ oldest son, James. They also submitted as evidence documents signed by those members of the House of Representatives designating

their NGOs as beneficiaries of the legislators’ pork barrel allocations. “I was with her since 1997 up to the time she was ordered arrested, and also served as custodian of records of her properties,” said one of the new whistle-blowers. In their affidavits, the new whistle-blowers said Napoles claimed to have “contacts” in the Office of the Ombudsman and in the Sandiganbayan, and that she expected to be cleared of the charges against her in four to five years. Plea for loyalty

In an affidavit submitted to the NBI, the 11th whistleblower, said hours before surrendering to President Aquino, Napoles called her up to plead for loyalty from her employees. “She was crying and asking me not to turn my back on her, that we should stay together,” the witness said. The witness said Napoles promised to support her employees even if it costs her all her money. “Just wait. My TRO (temporary restraining order) will be issued soon,” Napoles said in Filipino, according to the 11th witness. The witness said she was at the Department of Justice when Napoles called. The witness said that when her phone rang again, showing the same number used by Napoles, it was Cheryl Jimenea, former appointments secretary of former President Estrada, who was on the line. She said Jimenea instructed her to meet her in a restaurant in Trinoma, Quezon City, at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 28. The witness said she and some other NGO presidents went to see Jimenea, who came with a lawyer who instructed them to “implicate Benhur (Luy)” in the event the NBI questioned them. “Madame did nothing wrong to you so maybe you have nothing against her. So say that it was Benhur who gave you instructions and it was to him that you turned over the money,” the witness quoted the lawyer as telling them in Filipino. The witness said Jimenea gave her and the other NGO presidents P20,000 each at the end of the meeting. The witness

did not say how many whistleblowers were present. Documents destroyed

She said Napoles “ordered her papers and documents in the office to be moved to her residence in Pacific Plaza Tower, and the documents for all the NGOs were destroyed.” Napoles also ordered the destruction of all original documents pertaining to the bogus NGOs, the witness said. She said Napoles ordered the papers destroyed so that the bogus NGOs could not be traced to her At least six shredders were used to destroy the documents, the witness said. “Due to the sheer volume of documents that we shredded, the machines eventually broke down,” she said. Napoles, she said, “feared that the National Bureau of Investigation might raid the office and Pacific Plaza.” She said Napoles got adjoining rooms at Discovery Center and gave it the code name “parking.” “In the new office, we temporarily held office and continued to shred more documents,” the witness said. She said Napoles also ordered them to execute affidavits stating that Luy was the brains behind the dummy NGOs. Her statements corroborated the testimony of the other whistle-blowers, all employees of Napoles who designated them presidents of the alleged bogus NGOs. 40 homes

The 11th whistle-blower also submitted to the NBI an affidavit detailing 40 residential properties that Napoles allegedly owned, including five apartments in Primea, one of the swankiest residential buildings on Ayala Avenue in Makati City. An apartment in Primea is worth at least P75 million, the INQUIRER was told. Sworn statements submitted earlier by the whistle-blowers said Napoles owned 28 properties in such posh residential subdivisions as Ayala Alabang, Forbes Park and Dasmariñas, but the Bureau of Internal Revenue said last week it had failed to locate properties under the name of Napoles or her family or her NGOs.

The latest whistle-blower said Napoles closed her bank accounts and those of her NGOs in June, two months after Luy began to talk to NBI investigators about the extent of his employer’s alleged transactions involving five senators, 23 congressmen and government officials. “She closed the accounts, but she also opened new ones. She was afraid that Benhur knew about her bank accounts,” said the 11th whistle-blower. The witness could not give an estimate of how much was transferred, but said she had evidence that would show P320,154.48 was remitted to Napoles from 11 NGO accounts in Metrobank’s Magdalena Street and Jose Abad Santos Avenue branches. Arrest order

Three of the whistle-blowers claimed they were with Napoles at the time she received a phone call that an arrest warrant had been issued against her and her brother Reynald. “She never expected the dismissal of the illegal detention case (brought by Luy) would be reversed. She was even happy and confident on that day,” said the 11th witness. She said the employees were not told about the arrest warrant, but learned about it because Napoles’ eldest daughter, Jo-Christine, was crying. “There were nonstop phone calls coming in,” she said. The three whistle-blowers said they were at South Gardens Unit at Pacific Plaza in Makati City having a meeting with Napoles when the news of her arrest broke out. They left Napoles and her daughter. The 11th whistle-blower said she started working for Napoles in 1997 as a “utility girl” for JoChris Trading, with offices .in Pasay City. In 1998, the trading company moved to the Philippine Navy Officers’ Wives Association building in Taguig City. During that time, Napoles also owned a parlor, barber shop and a meat shop in the same building. One of the new whistle-blowers claimed she also served as accountant for Napoles, and another said she served only as president of an NGO. ■ With a report from Norman Bordadora

Philippine News


‘Misuari, MNLF... Rio Hondo, and Talon-Talon. Around 200 residents from the four barangays were reportedly taken hostage by the MNLF. But security forces said the residents were “stranded.” “They are not under the armed control of the MNLF,” said Brigadier General Domingo Tutaan, spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), in a press conference late Monday afternoon held at the military headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo. Initial reports said that around 20 civilians were made “human shields” by the MNLF fighters. Tutaan also said that MNLF commander Habier Malik, described as a loyal lieutenant of Misuari, has been sighted in Sta. Catalina. “We are still confirming if there were direct orders from Misuari himself,” Tutaan said. Misuari is reportedly in Indangan, Sulu. Five MNLF commanders, who were in MNLF uniforms, were arrested by the Philippine National Police (PNP) early Monday morning in Rio Hondo for illegal possession of firearms. A military source said the arrested commanders said that they have been told to attend the “raising of the Bangsamoro flag” at the Zamboanga City Hall. “We cannot allow that because we are one country under one flag. We cannot allow them to do that most especially because this group is armed,” Tutaan said. The attack of Misuari’s group in Zamboanga City came as a surprise to the other MNLF faction led by former Cotabato City Mayor Muslimin Sema. Sema told the Inquirer by phone that his group had directed their ground commanders in Central Mindanao, Western Mindanao, and Lanao del ❰❰ 1

Norte “to stay put and not be swayed” by the ongoing situation in Zamboanga City. “We are saddened by what is happening and we are worried that this might trigger a bigger (incident). We don’t know, this might snowball because those who are opposing the government’s stand on the MNLF final peace agreement might be swayed. This is the challenge everybody is facing now,” Sema said. Sema was referring to the move of the government to terminate the Tripartite Implementation Review of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement with the MNLF. The next meeting is scheduled on September 15 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The 40th round of talks between the Philippine government and the MILF began Monday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Sema said he has not been in touch with Misuari, much less have they exchanged ideas about the developments in the tripartite review and the government’s peace talks with the MILF. But Sema said he believed that Misuari felt that government’s move to terminate the review meant that “it amounted to the abrogation of the peace agreement.” “If one party withdraws from the tripartite review, then there’s nothing to talk about anymore. In Misuari’s view, there is no point anymore,” Sema said. Sema’s group considers the government’s position, as relayed to the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) Peace Committee for Southern Philippines (PCSP) chaired by Indonesia, as a mere “proposal” that could still be discussed in the Yogyakarta meeting. Sema said the government’s position was contained in two letters sent by Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario to

According to former Cotabato City Mayor Muslimin Sema: “The MNLF, as a whole, we feel betrayed. We have given so much leeway in giving peace a chance.” PHOTO FROM NST.COM.MY

the PCSP, Indonesia as the facilitator, and the OIC. Sema said the first letter was sent in March and the other, more recently. He had seen both letters, Sema said. According to Sema, the Del Rosario letters proposed that the contentious points from RA 9054, the law amending the Organic Act that created the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), be included in the Framework Agreement with the MILF, to be discussed by the Transition Commission. While Sema said he did and would not support the ongoing attacks in Zamboanga City, he and Misuari continue to share “the strategic objective of establishing the Bangsamoro and the right to self-determination.” “The MNLF, as a whole, we feel betrayed. We have given so much leeway in giving peace a chance,” Sema said of government’s handling of its final peace agreement with the MNLF and the ongoing peace process with the MILF. At press time, there was no reported firefight between the

security forces and the MNLF but the standoff is far from over. The incident, described by Tutaan as “volatile and fastpaced,” required the presence of the government’s top security officials in Zamboanga City. President Benigno Aquino III dispatched Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, AFP Chief of Staff Emmanuel Bautista, PNP Deputy Director for Operations Felipe L. Rojas Jr., and Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II to Zamboanga City to oversee the government’s strategic response to the standoff. ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman and Zamboanga Representative Celso Lobregat joined the group. Mayor Isabelle Climaco-Lobregat met them at the airport and apprised them of the situation, a statement from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) said. “Zamboanga City is a primary city. It is a populated area. We want to make sure that the situation is contained. The military leadership is there to oversee the strategic operations,” Tutaan said. The Naval Special Opera-

tions Group (Navsog) had been patrolling the Sulu Sea that included the four seaside villages when they encountered the MNLF group at around 1:45 am on Monday. The firefight resulted in the death of one Navsog personnel and the wounding of a Navsog officer and three other soldiers. Tutaan said the military has been monitoring the Misuariled MNLF faction since its weekend “peaceful protest rally” in Davao City, as he denied that security forces’ intelligence information failed, which led to the attack in Zamboanga City. The military said there could have been other MNLF members already in the villages even before some of Misuari’s followers sailed to Zamboanga City, which explains why there were MNLF forces in the villages despite the Navy’s maritime patrol. There is now a “deployment and redeployment” of troops in Zamboanga City, according to Tutaan. The tactical operations are headed by Task Force Zamboanga but would be taken over by the 102nd Army Brigade. ■

Philippine News


Bong lawyer: Charges all lies ‘Senator denounces trial by publicity’ BY NORMAN BORDADORA Philippine Daily Inquirer

Recent operations against drug syndicates revealed that shipments of shabu, which were illicitly brought to the country, came from mainland China.

China is No. 1 source of drugs BY CATHY YAMSUAN Philippine Daily Inquirer CHINA REMAINS to be the primary source of illegal drugs smuggled into the country, the antinarcotics unit of the Philippine National Police said. Senior Supt. Bartolome Tobias, chief of the PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force (AIDSOTF), said recent operations against drug syndicates revealed that shipments of methamphetamine hydrochloride or “shabu,” which were illicitly brought to the country, came from mainland China. “Most of those involved in smuggling shabu were mostly Chinese and West African drug syndicates,” Tobias told reporters during the 10th founding anniversary of the AIDSOTF at Camp Crame. “This is why we will continue to launch operations against big-time Chinese drug lords operating in the country,” he said. AIDSOTF operatives and Bureau of Customs personnel, led by Customs Risk Management Office Assistant Chief Jimmy Guban, raided a drug warehouse of a Chinese drug syndicate in Subic, Zambales, and seized over P4 billion worth of shabu. Tobias said the illegal drugs, which were smuggled into the

country from China through the Subic port, were about to be distributed in Metro Manila when authorities conducted the raid. He said the AIDSOTF was closely coordinating with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to thwart attempts of South American drug cartels to bring in cocaine to the Philippines. A senior US Department of Justice (DOJ) official warned that drug syndicates operating in Colombia and other South American countries might try to peddle cocaine in East Asian countries, including the Philippines, due to the US government’s successful campaign against illegal drugs. William Brownfield, assistant secretary of the US DOJ Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, said the demand for methamphetamine in the United States has dropped by at least 50 percent. “We are now coordinating with the PDEA and other authorities to check on the information given to us by Brownfield. While the possibility is there because of our geographical location, we can address this with our good existing cooperation and collaboration with other government agencies,” Tobias said. ■

THE LAWYER of Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. yesterday branded as “lies” the allegations made against the legislator by whistle-blowers in the P10-billion pork barrel scam even as Revilla continues to avoid making an appearance at the Senate blue ribbon committee inquiry into the scandal. Lawyer Joel Bodegon said Revilla would continue to refrain from attending the Senate hearings as he felt that “it is inappropriate for him to appear” before the investigation panel chaired by Sen. Teofisto Guingona III. “Senator Revilla reiterates that he is as much interested to know the truth as anyone else, that is why he is continuing with his own investigation of all the allegations against him,” he added. Revilla and two other senators, Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada, were tagged by witnesses at the blue ribbon committee hearings as among the lawmakers who endorsed dubious nongovernment organizations (NGOs) to be recipients of tens of millions of pesos of their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) entitlements. The witnesses—former heads of government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) that served as conduits for the pork barrel to the questionable NGOs—corroborated the testimony of Commission on Audit (COA) Chair Grace Pulido-Tan who testified on the results of the COA special audit of pork barrel releases from 2007 to 2009. Aside from the testimony of former GOCC heads Salvador Salacup of ZNAC Rubber

Senator Revilla: much interested to know the truth as anyone else. PHOTO FROM SSSIP.WORDPRESS.COM

Estates Corp. and Alan Javellana of National Agribusiness Corp. at the Senate inquiry on Thursday that Revilla, Enrile and Estrada had endorsed questionable NGOs, including those of Napoles, several whistleblowers have also identified the three legislators as among those who gave their PDAF to the dubious groups. “[Senator Revilla] denounces the trial by publicity as a derogation of his constitutional right to due process of law,” Bodegon said. “He is appalled at how the

media are giving unwarranted credence to the lies purveyed by the whistleblowers who have publicly confessed their criminal enterprise of stealing the lawmakers’ PDAF,” he said. The lawyer said Revilla was currently securing documents related to the PDAF disbursements to have their authenticity verified. A former GOCC vice president also told the Senate hearing on Thursday that Revilla, Enrile and Estrada signed the ❱❱ PAGE 13 Bong lawyer

Philippine News


DFA: China incursion good for PH case in UN BY TARRA QUISMUNDO Philippine Daily Inquirer THE DISCOVERY of concrete blocks in Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal) could support the arbitration case that the Philippines filed in the United Nations in January, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario told reporters at the House of Representatives. “I think that’s a substantive piece of information that we can tag on to our arbitration case,” Del Rosario said. “It can work positively for us,” he added. The Philippines has called home its ambassador to China as it prepares to protest Beijing’s latest incursion into Manila’s territory in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). China has called the Philippine preparation “deliberately creating trouble over nothing” even though the cause of

Assertion agenda

The Philippines will be filing a diplomatic protest against China after discovering the concrete blocks on Panatag Shoal. PHOTO FROM TELEGRAPH.CO.UK

fresh tensions between the two countries is Beijing’s laying the foundation for what is believed to be a military outpost within Philippine territory. Del Rosario said on Wednesday that China planned to occupy Panatag Shoal before region-

al rules on maritime behavior took effect, and had been laying concrete blocks there. The Philippines will be filing a diplomatic protest against China after discovering the concrete blocks on Panatag Shoal, Del Rosario said.

He urged regional governments to speed up talks on a binding code of conduct governing maritime behavior in the sea. “We think China is trying to stay ahead of the (code of conduct),” Del Rosario said. “We think that they have an assertion agenda that they are trying to complete before they sit down and negotiate a (code of conduct),” he said. Beijing is due to host talks this month with Southeast Asian countries on a code of conduct for the West Philippine Sea that would supersede the 2002 Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. China claims most of the West Philippine Sea, including waters close to the coasts of its Southeast Asian neighbors. Called home

Besides the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan also claim parts of the sea

where islets, atolls and reefs are believed to be sitting on vast energy reserves. Yesterday, Philippine Ambassador to China Erlinda Basilio was seen at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) with Del Rosario, apparently coming from a security meeting in Malacañang. ❱❱ PAGE 15 DFA: China

Congress can still scrap youth councils–COMELEC BY PHILIP C. TUBEZA AND LEILA SALAVERRIA Philippine Daily Inquirer EVEN WITH less than two months to go before the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) election, Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chair Sixto Brillantes said there was enough time for Congress to abolish the youth councils and eliminate the necessity of holding the election and spending money needlessly. “If we do away with the SK polls, we will be able to save about P60 to P80 million,” Brillantes said. Congress still had until the first week of October to decide whether the SK election on Oct. 28, to coincide with the barangay election, should proceed or not, he said. He explained that much of the budget for the SK election will go to paying the teachers who will serve as the board of election tellers (BETs). About P63 million has been allocated for the honorarium of BETs and another P5 million for the printing of SK ballots, Brillantes said.

“If it (the postponement) is approved anytime prior to two weeks before elections, it is OK with us since we have yet to disburse payment for teachers,” Brillantes said. The Senate committee on local government on Tuesday recommended the postponement of the SK elections to October 2014. Brillantes said he was not amenable to holding the SK election in 2014 as it would just cost more money. “If they want to hold it next year, better to just proceed with it this year because if we defer it to next year, having a separate SK election would entail more expenses,” he said. Political dynasties

But if Congress decides to postpone the youth council election, better to defer it to 2016 and synchronize it with the national elections or postpone it indefinitely, Brillantes said. Comelec Commissioner Lucenito Tagle earlier said the Comelec wanted the SK abolished because it had become the “breeding ground for political dynasties.” “We don’t see anything of

‘Anomalous way’

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr.


importance that has been produced by the SK. We have many cases here where parents are the ones intervening in votebuying and irregularities (in SK elections),” Tagle said. “They (SK members) are being exposed to all of these things at an early stage,” he said. The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) has also bewailed how political dynasties have turned the youth councils into a train-

ing ground for their children, getting their progeny to run for SK posts in preparation for higher office. PPCRV chair Henrietta de Villa said political dynasts were edging out other youth leaders who could serve as future leaders of their communities. “That is not what it’s supposed to be. The SK should be a practicing ground for authentic political leaders to emerge,” she said.

“This is bad because it is like we are starting these young people, the future leaders of the land, in an already very anomalous way,” De Villa said. Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. earlier said his committee on local government had agreed to push for the postponement of the SK election as it agreed that the SK system had to be reformed. Meanwhile, Brillantes yesterday said the Comelec would be dipping into its savings to fund the barangay elections next month. He said the poll body was given P1.1 billion, but needs another P2.3 billion for it. This amount would be taken from its savings, he said. “This is a sacrifice on the part of Comelec,” Brillantes said. He said the poll body had intended to use its savings for the construction of a new building and acquisition of land on which to build it. Instead of a planned 11-story structure, the Comelec will now settle for only 7 to 8 floors as part of its savings will be used in the barangay polls, he said. ■

Philippine News


PH up 6 places in global competitiveness BY AMY R. REMO Philippine Daily Inquirer GIVEN SIGNIFICANT improvements in governance, innovation and drive against corruption, the Philippines has moved up six notches in the global competitiveness ranking to the 59th place this year, out of 148 economies. Although the climb this year was slower than 2012 when the country jumped 10 notches to the 65th spot, the Philippines was still regarded among “the most dynamic and rapidly improving economies in terms of competitiveness,” said the Global Competitiveness Report 20132014. The World Economic Forum (WEF) released the report. The Philippines has also overtaken India, which took the 60th spot. Singapore remained the highest ranking among Asian countries and has taken the second spot, next to Switzerland, which the WEF again named as the most competitive country in the world. Taking the third to fifth spots are Finland, Germany and the United States. Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda hailed the report, saying that it noted the country’s “impressive performance” despite what administration critics describe as a jobless growth. “The sustained improvement was credited heavily to the Aquino administration’s battle against corruption, which is seen in the significant improvements in the benchmarking scores of the ‘institutions’ pillar that covers such governance challenges such as corruption and public sector competence,” Lacierda said. In the ethics and corruption category, the Philippines now ranks 87th compared with 135th in 2010, while government efficiency and other public sector variables have also steadily advanced, he said. Man in street

While the ranking looked promising, the “man in the street will not appreciate these numbers until we see the impact, which is never immediate,” said Guillermo M. Luz, National Competitiveness Council cochair for the private sector. Unfortunately, it takes time

for these things to happen, Luz said in a phone interview. Over time however, ranking high in competitiveness surveys will help improve the country’s ability to attract and stimulate investments, which in turn will generate more value-added job opportunities for Filipinos. Luz said this was the only way to fight poverty, which remained prevalent in the country. Without its improved performance in these rankings, the Philippines may have had lower job creation numbers over the past years, he said. Government performance

In a text message, Peter Angelo V. Perfecto, executive director of the Makati Business Club (MBC), shared the sentiment of Luz, saying that global competitiveness rankings are a gauge of how a government is performing. “Improved rankings mean that government is doing its job better. Also, global competitiveness rankings are monitored by potential investors. Improved rankings can mean more investments and more investments mean more jobs,” Perfecto said. The WEF’s Global Competitiveness Report is an annual publication that measures productivity and competitiveness by gathering data on 119 factors that are grouped into 12 pillars or categories. The 12 pillars are institutions (governance); infrastructure; macroeconomic environment; health and primary education; higher education and training; goods market efficiency; labor market efficiency; financial market development; technological readiness; market size; business sophistication; and innovation. Based on these pillars, the Philippines recorded an overall score of 4.3, up from last year’s 4.2. “The trends are positive across most dimensions…. The current government, which came into power in 2010, has made the fight against corruption an absolute priority; corruption had historically been one of the country’s biggest drags on competitiveness,” the WEF said in the report. It noted that the “recent successes of the government in tack-

ling some of the most pressing structural issues are encouraging and proof that bold reforms and measures can yield positive results.” Low base

The WEF, however, cautioned that “improvements are coming from such a low base that the country cannot afford to be complacent.” In a briefing, Luz said the country was able to boost its rankings in nine out of the 12 pillars, identifying these as innovation, which rose 25 notches to 69th from 94th; institutions, which include governance, up 15 places to 79th; and financial market development, up 10 spots to 48th place. The rest of the pillars where the country posted improvements were goods market efficiency (up four notches to 82); labor market efficiency (100th from 103rd); infrastructure (96th from 98th); health and primary education (96th from 98th); technological readiness (77th from 79th); and, market size (33rd from 35th). “Over the years, the biggest contributors include the institutions pillar, which has really improved every year for the past three years. Actually, macroeconomic environment has been a driver except for this year when it slid back a little bit. But if you take a look at the macroeconomic performance of the country, it is well within the top third,” Luz said. The country’s ranking in macroeconomic environment eased back to No. 40 this year from last year’s No. 36. High education fell

The National Competitiveness Council attributed this to the fact that improvements such as the count r y ’s

credit rating upgrades occurred after the data collection period. The high education and training pillar fell three spots to 67th place, while the country’s ranking in terms of business sophistication remained the same in 49th place. Dragging the country’s competitiveness over the past year used to be infrastructure and education, but according to Luz, the country has managed to “reverse” this given the gains in the nine pillars. In the same briefing, MBC chair Ramon del Rosario reported that of the 119 indicators listed in the Global Competitiveness Report, the Philippines ranked among the top 50 countries in 33 areas. These included financing through local equity market, domestic market size index, affordability of financial services, GDP in purchasing power parity dollars, reliance on professional management, cooperation in labor-employer relations, soundness of banks and ease of access to loans. The Philippines, according to del Rosario will need to improve in certain areas where it ranked No. 100 or even worse. These include the number of procedures to start a business, burden of customs procedures, business costs of terrorism, number of days to start a business, hiring and firing practices, quality of port infrastructure, quality of air transport infrastructure, flexibility of wage determination, strength of investor protection, total tax rate, irregular payments and bribes, and business costs of crime and violence. Primary worst


“As chair of the Philippine Business for Education, let me express my particular concern over the low primary education enrollment rate in our country, which remains the only indicator where the Philippines rated the worst in Asean. It must be

noted, however, that figures used to rank the Philippines in this indicator were derived by the WEF from Unesco,” Del Rosario said. Luz, however, expressed confidence that the Philippines would further improve its competitiveness ranking and be included in the top third quartile within the next two to three years. “We want to [rank] 48th or higher and we’re getting close. We used to be at the 85th place in 2010 when this administration took over and now we’re at 59th. The 48th rank is well within our target within the next two years,” Luz added. Closing gap

Among the 10 member states of the Asean, the Philippines ranked sixth, but Luz was quick to note that the country was “closing the gap” with its neighbors. “[The other countries] have had such a big lead on us like Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Brunei. We’ve been closing the gap as we’ve overtaken Vietnam, and increased the gap with Cambodia. We’ve also narrowed the gap with Thailand, while Singapore has been remarkably consistent and it’s a tough competitor to go against,” Luz said. “If you take the broader Asian region, across say 15 economies including India and China, we’re holding our own. But we can’t be complacent so we need to move faster, more aggressively. But remember, over a three year span, we are still one of the fastest moving economies. “When this administration came in 2010, we’re at 85th place and today were 59th and that’s a whole different neighborhood, a tougher neighborhood. We need to rise up to the challenge,” Luz added. Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima has expressed confidence that the country’s remarkable performance would be sustained over the next years. “As we make progress in further solidifying the gains of good governance, I fully expect to see the Philippine business environment become even more vibrant, more dynamic, and, most importantly, more open and welcoming of opportunity,” he said. ■ With a report from Michael Lim Ubac and Michelle V. Remo

Philippine News


Bong lawyer... document four times covering one such fund release to an NGO. The funds were released in four tranches as part of the alleged safeguards against abuses. “Currently, he is having all the documents which appear to bear his signatures for expert examination, especially because the whistle-blowers themselves said they faked the documents,” Bodegon said. Even the alleged scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles has denied having any transactions with Revilla, the lawyer said. Asked when Revilla would face his colleagues concerning the allegations against him, Bodegon said the matter was “under advisement.” “He wants the committee to conduct its hearing without being inhibited by his presence,” Bodegon said, when asked why Revilla continues to inhibit himself from the proceedings. Meanwhile, neophyte Sen. JV Ejercito wants the COA to cast a wider net in its audit of pork barrel releases to identify others who could have been involved in the scam, other than opposition leaders Enrile and Estrada. Ejercito, a half-brother of Estrada (the two are sons of deposed President ❰❰ 11

Top generals linked to P19-M fake rebel reward scam BY CHRISTINE O. AVENDAÑO Philippine Daily Inquirer A SECURITY guard freed by the Court of Appeals for being mistakenly identified as a top communist leader yesterday filed a complaint with the Department of Justice (DOJ), linking his unlawful arrest, torture and 11month detention to what could be a P19-million reward scam. Rolly Mira Panesa, 48, filed a complaint against 11 military men and civilians—among them two ranking generals—for violating his rights and presenting him as 61-year-old Benjamin Mendoza, the alleged secretarygeneral of the rebel New People’s Army in Southern Luzon with a P5.6 million prize for his capture. In his 12-page complaint before the DOJ, Panesa said that before the appeals court finally ordered his release on Aug. 27, AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista had reportedly awarded prize money amounting to almost P19 million to “tipsters” of alleged communist leaders—including Mendoza. “It only then became clear to me why the military kept insisting that I was Benjamin Mendoza and why it got witnesses saying I was Benjamin Mendoza even if it knew I was Rolly Mira Panesa. [The AFP] made sure I would stay long in jail so as to give them more time to process the release of the reward,”’ Panesa charged. It was not clear how the military was able to detain Panesa for so long, and why the courts took 11 months before granting the man’s plea for a writ of habeas corpus. A week after he was finally released, Panesa went to the DOJ to seek justice and redress. He said he was severely beaten during his arrest and detention. “I’m fine now but I will fight because

what they did to me was inhuman,” said Panesa, who talked to reporters and was accompanied by his lawyers from the National Union of People’s Lawyers and members of Karapatan group. Accused of torture and other violations of human rights were: Maj. Gen. Alan Luga, former commanding officer of the Southern Luzon Command and the current Vice Chief of Staffing of the Armed Forces of the Philippines; and Maj. Gen. Eduardo del Rosario, commanding officer of the 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army. Also accused were P/CSupt. James Andres Melad, former PNP region 4 director; P/SSupt. Manuel Abu, chief region 4 intelligence director; P/CInsp. Reynaldo Mendoza of the intelligence office in Region 4; Col. Genoroso Bolina, spokesperson of Solcom; P/Ins. Bonifacio Guevarra, leader of the team who arrested him; SPO1 Christopher Flores, PO2 Ariel De La Cruz, PO2 Joseph Fernandez, and PO1 Ellior De Lima. Civilians on his list included lawyer Alex Alberto Popanes, Luis Grajo Rayos, Michael Rojo Alvardo and Erwin Rosales. Panesa accused them of violating the Anti-Torture Act of 2009, the rights of persons arrested and unlawful arrest. Panesa also accused the four private individuals in his list of “incriminatory machination and perjury,” for alleging he was the CPP leader Mendoza. Panesa was arrested on Oct. 5 last year by a joint police and military team in Quezon City. Panesa sought a writ of habeas corpus from the Supreme Court, which in turn asked the Court of Appeals to hold hearings on the case. Last Aug. 27, the CA fifth division finally ruled that Panesa was mistakenly identified as Mendoza and ordered his release from Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig City. ■

Joseph Estrada, who is now mayor of Manila), said there could also be “other Napoleses” with the same modus operandi, securing pork barrel kickbacks for themselves and for corrupt lawmakers. “It has been mentioned quite often three members of our colleagues (sic),” Ejercito said at the Senate hearing on Thursday, apparently referring to Estrada, Enrile and Revilla. Ejercito, a former congressman representing San Juan, said there had to be more individuals operating the same way as Napoles. “We are zeroing in on Napoles NGOs in this hearing, but with your indulgence, I would like to ask the COA or [the Department of Agriculture] or whoever, are there other Napoleses operating this way? Because there can’t only be one,” he said. Ejercito told the committee that during his stint in the House, “there are times there are a lot of beautiful ladies around (sic).” “We called them ‘livelihood girls’ because they were peddling livelihood projects,” he said, indicating that the women were asking lawmakers if they could fund the projects with their PDAF for possible kickbacks for both the proponents and the lawmakers. ■

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Philippine News


Speed up conduct talks, Asean urged

Enrile bloc blames COA, other agencies for lapses

BY TARRA QUISMUNDO Philippine Daily Inquirer

BY NORMAN BORDADORA Philippine Daily Inquirer

FOREIGN SECRETARY Albert del Rosario called on fellow members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to speed up negotiations with Beijing on a binding Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) in the face of what he said were new incursions by the regional giant on the contested Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal. Answering China’s dismissive response to Philippine complaints of new fortifications reportedly being set up in the contested shoal off Zambales province, Del Rosario underscored the urgency of Asean negotiations with Beijing on a binding Code of Conduct “to instill discipline in the disputed waters.” “As is evident, it is a matter of great import that China be strongly urged to work with Asean towards the early conclusion of a binding Code of Conduct,” Del Rosario said in a text message to the INQUIRER. The Philippines on Wednesday said it was studying the possible filing of a diplomatic protest against China for laying concrete blocks in the shoal, a potentially resourcerich area some 230 km off Zambales, within the country’s 370-km exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The disputed shoal, known to the Chinese as Huangyan Island, is 874 km from the nearest China coast. Hong had said in remarks in Beijing that the Philippines’ latest accusations were “not true,” though he did not provide details and reiterated that the shoal was part of China’s “intrinsic territory.” The Philippines “should not

make trouble out of nothing and cause incidents,” Hong added. China’s foreign minister further said the Philippines should “stop actions that make conditions for the COC talks less conducive.” Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin aired concerns that China planned to occupy the disputed shoal to expand its territory even before regional rules on maritime behavior could come into effect. The Philippines believes China’s incursion into the Panatag Shoal is a threat to peace in Southeast Asia, Del Rosario had seconded. “We think that China is trying to stay ahead of the COC,” the country’s top diplomat told Reuters on Wednesday. “We think that they have an assertion agenda that they are trying to complete before they are able to sit down and negotiate a COC.” Tension over the South China Sea, one of the world’s most strategically important waterways, has risen as China uses its growing naval might to assert extensive claims over the oiland gas-rich waters more forcefully, fueling fears of a military clash. Four of the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), including Vietnam and the Philippines, have overlapping claims with China. Taiwan also has claims over the entire sea. “This kind of activity places the region in jeopardy in terms of peace and stability,” Del Rosario said. “If the Philippines is the target of China today, another country could be the target tomorrow. So this should be considered as a regional issue.” ■ With a Reuters report

MEMBERS OF the Senate minority lament what they call the noncompliance of government agencies with the oversight requirement for projects funded from the pork barrel—a lapse that they say has resulted in opposition members getting “pilloried and scorned by the media and by the public.” In a statement, the Senate minority led by Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile said the current General Appropriations Act (GAA) and those for previous years provide for the channeling of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocations to nongovernment organizations (NGOs). Guidelines not followed

The statement said the national budget provisions also tasked government agencies and local governments with ensuring that the NGOs that will handle the billions of pesos in pork barrel funds are legitimate. “Precisely, the provisions of the budget law have already established the parameters within which our PDAF must be implemented by the concerned government agencies. Unfortunately, however, these guidelines and standards were evidently not followed,” the statement said. Pilloried, scorned

“It is even more unfortunate that members of the Senate minority group have been pilloried and scorned by the media and by the public for this lapse in the implementation of the law,” it said. The Senate minority is made up of Enrile, Deputy Minority Leader Vicente Sotto III and Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Gregorio Honasan II, JV Ejercito

Enrile: “It is even more unfortunate that members of the Senate minority group have been pilloried and scorned by the media and by the public for this lapse in the implementation of the law.” PHOTO FROM PINOYREPUBLIC.NET

and Nancy Binay. Enrile, Estrada and Honasan have figured in the Commission on Audit (COA) report presented by COA chair Grace PulidoTan to the Senate blue ribbon committee. Along with Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr., the three were said to have endorsed their PDAF entitlements to dubious NGOs, including those of alleged scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles. The minority cited the COA report that said “NGOs are not included among the IAs [implementing agencies] of the PDAF as identified in the GAA, hence, such transfers are without legal basis.” COA report wrong

Members of the Senate minority said they wanted to point out that the COA report is wrong. “General Appropriations Acts of previous years and even the GAA of the current year contain provisions allowing the transfer of funds to civil society organizations, nongovernment organizations, and people’s organizations, subject to certain conditions,” the minority statement said. It said the practice of allowing NGOs to participate in the implementation of government

projects was first introduced in 2007, when a special provision in the budget of the Department of Education was inserted to “encourage the participation of nongovernment organizations in the construction of school buildings….” Not legislators’ responsibility

The minority also cited the 2009 GAA that said, “The government agency and local government units shall ensure that the nongovernment organizations and people’s organizations that they deal with are legitimate.” It added that 2013 GAA also requires the liquidation of at least 70 percent of the latest fund transfer received by the NGOs, before additional fund transfers are made to them. “The above-mentioned provisions clearly support our stand that, first, the transfer of funds to NGOs does have legal basis; and, second, that it is not the responsibility of the legislators to ascertain the legitimacy of the NGOs that the IAs work with in the implementation of our projects,” the minority statement said. “That burden falls on the IAs and the local government units concerned as provided by law,” it added. ■

Philippine News


NBI chief firm on resignation BY CHRISTINE O. AVENDAÑO Philippine Daily Inquirer DESPITE ATTEMPTS to dissuade him, even by President Aquino himself, National Bureau of Investigation Director Nonnatus Rojas has stood firm in his decision to resign, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said. De Lima said Malacañang is expected to announce, whether the President will accept Rojas’ resignation. If Mr. Aquino accepts Rojas’ resignation, De Lima said she would designate an officer in charge to head the NBI. And if she is unable to do so, she said she will assume “direct supervision” for the time being, given the “urgent concerns” at the NBI, which is in the midst of investigating the P10-billion pork barrel scam. De Lima said she had spoken to Rojas three times to convince him not to resign. “Unfortunately, he made up his mind already not only because of the incident but he also told me he was very tired, and I think he has health issues,” she said. Rojas submitted his irrevocable resignation last Monday out of “delicadeza,” reportedly in reaction to Mr. Aquino’s

DFA: China... Asked by reporters about Basilio’s presence at the home office, DFA spokesperson Raul Hernandez said the ambassador had been called home for “consultations.” Hernandez said Basilio “was part of a group meeting and she was the resource person.” He explained later that the meeting was that of the Cabinet security cluster, but did not provide specifics of the discussions. In a text message to the INQUIRER, Del Rosario said Basilio had been called home for discussions on PhilippineChina relations and she was expected to return to China. The DFA and the Department of National Defense have been assessing the situation at Panatag in preparation for a response to China’s laying concrete blocks on the shoal. China has cordoned off the area since a standoff with Philippine vessels there more than a year ago. ❰❰ 11

Chinese ships

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin confirmed that three Chinese coast guard ships remain at the shoal, located 230 kilometers from the coast of Masinloc town in Zambales province, well within the country’s 370-km exclusive economic zone. Gazmin said on Wednesday that the

Former NBI Director Nonnatus Rojas (shown here with Justice Secretary Leila de Lima) has stood firm in his decision to resign. PHOTO FROM SOLARNEWS.PH

remark that there were “less trustworthy” officials at the NBI. Mr. Aquino also said that charges were being prepared

by the Department of Justice against two NBI officials who had tipped off alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Ja-

concrete blocks were spotted during a military aerial survey. He said the blocks indicated a plan to build structures on the shoal, as the Chinese did on Mischief Reef, in another part of the West Philippine Sea, in 1995. Gazmin likened the Chinese activity to “a neighbor who took over your garage without asking permission.” President Aquino last week canceled a planned trip to China for a trade fair in Nanning after Beijing reportedly required the withdrawal of the arbitration case as a condition for the trip. ‘China’s intrinsic territory’

The Chinese foreign ministry’s spokesperson, Hong Lei, denied encroaching into Philippine territory. Manila’s claim is “not in accordance with the facts,” Hong told a daily news briefing. Hong said the Philippines was “creating trouble out of nothing,” pointing out that “Huangyan Island (the Chinese name for Panatag Shoal) is “China’s intrinsic territory.” Hong said Chinese government vessels “continue regular patrols in the waters off Huangyan Island to safeguard the sovereignty and order of the waters.” He added, “It is within China’s legitimate rights and interests and beyond dispute.” ■ With reports from Leila B. Salaverria, AFP, Reuters, and China Daily / Asia News Network

net Lim-Napoles on the arrest warrants to be issued against her. Following Rojas’ resignation, De Lima called on five of the six NBI deputy directors to resign, as well, so as to give the President a free hand to appoint a new team. She did not ask for NBI Deputy Director Virgilio Mendez to resign but three or four other deputy directors were asked to quit because of “trust and integrity issues.” So far, only Edmundo Arugay, who is the NBI deputy director for administrative service, has tendered a courtesy resignation, which will be effective on Sept. 14 when he returns from an official mission abroad. De Lima said two deputy directors— Reynaldo Esmeralda and Ruel Lasala— told her they won’t heed her call to resign. She met the two officials yesterday and when they emerged from the secretary’s office, they declined to comment. Both officials had denied they were the ones who leaked the information that a warrant had been issued for the arrest of Napoles and her brother. De Lima said she has not yet turned in Arugay’s resignation letter to the President. ■




Another Edsa people power—not anymore By Amando Doronila Philippine Daily Inquirer CANBERRA—The call for another Million People March (MPM) to protest the abuse of the congressional pork barrel fund was shut down before it could take off. There are no takers. The frustrated faceless organizers of the Aug. 26 march would have nothing to do with it. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, the driving force of the most successful people power movements in the country—Edsa I against the Marcos dictatorship in 1986, and Edsa II against Joseph Estrada in 2001—would not touch it like dirt. “Ours is an expression of solidarity,” declared the CBCP president, Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu, in a pastoral statement supporting calls for the abolition of the pork barrel system in both the legislative and executive branches of government. “Let the people join, but we are not organizing that. It’s about time that people manifest their own convictions.” The bishops said they “preferred that the government find other ways to ensure the delivery of genuine public service instead of continuing with the widely abused Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).”

Palma explained that the Aug. 26 rally at Luneta, was an initiative of the lay people and the “Church is fully behind it.” But the bishops’ statement made clear they would not provide active leadership on behalf of civil society to mobilize mass support for the clamor for the scrapping of the pork barrel, with the zeal and passion Jaime Cardinal Sin showed when he called the people to take to the streets to protect the military rebels from the tanks of Marcos’ loyalist army after their leaders, Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and Vice Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Fidel Ramos, withdrew their loyalty from the regime in February 1986. The farthest the bishops went in denouncing the pork barrel system was to criticize the government’s plan to turn Janet Lim-Napoles—the alleged mastermind in the diversion of P10 billion from the PDAF of five senators and 23 congressmen to her group of NGOs, reportedly with their complicity in exchange for kickbacks—into a state witness. The bishops also denounced the “special privileges” given to Napoles after her arrest, saying that “because it is the people’s sentiment that she is at the heart of all these anomalies, she is supposed to be responsible… and by law she should be punished.”

What in effect the bishops are telling the public is that if people want to join another leaderless MPM march on Luneta, they have to do it at their own risk and they should not expect another Edsa-type People Power Revolution with the Church’s intervention. There is no discounting the fact that weeks after the Aug. 26 march, the public outrage is still running

What in effect the bishops are telling the public is that if people want to join another leaderless MPM march on Luneta, they have to do it at their own risk. deep, but the intensity appears to be waning as the Aquino administration has managed to deflect public fury by, first, beginning to make a criminal case against Napoles and her legislator accomplices; and, second, by seeming to heed the clamor for the PDAF’s abolition, while offering the nebulous scheme that in effect would replace it. President Aquino described it thus: “We will create a new mechanism to address the needs of your constituents and sectors in a manner that is methodical and not susceptible to

abuse or corruption,” a statement that at the moment amounts to nothing more than empty shibboleths. With these developments, it is not hard to see why civil society reformists who promoted the Aug. 26 MPM protest have become so disenchanted with the government’s double talk response to their demands. They now realize the futility of another march. The turnout at the march—between 80,000 and 100,000, according to police estimates—fell far below the ambitious expectations to match the millions that packed Luneta on Feb. 16, 1986, when Cory Aquino held an indignation rally declaring that President Ferdinand Marcos cheated her in the Feb. 7 snap election and calling for a boycott of products and services of companies controlled by Marcos cronies. The huge crowd intimidated Marcos. He knew this crowd had been primed to turn into a lynch mob. Mr. Aquino noted the bubble in the Aug. 26 march. True, there was outrage, but the rage was not directed at him, he was not directly implicated in the fraud. No one clamored for his resignation. He knew he could buy time by offering mechanisms to replace the pork barrel system and shifted the blame to scapegoats—the “collusion among a former president

ready to trade favors just to remain in power, legislators and members of the bureaucracy who were willing to conspire, enabled by a passive and indifferent citizenry. All these factors put together make the PDAF prone to abuse. We need to make sure this system can no longer be abused.” Only he has clean hands—that is the implication of this statement. The fatal flaw of the Aug. 26 march is that it had no hate object. How can a mob lynch a system of disbursing slush patronage fund, no matter how corrupt? The President has to create enemies to clean up the dirty stables of the pork barrel system. Even if he succeeds in sending every politician linked to this fund diversion to jail, it’s not wishful thinking to imagine that after the purge there would be only a handful of legislators left, whom to distribute the pork barrel to. But at the hearing of the Senate blue ribbon committee inquiry on the P10-billion pork barrel leakage last week, Commission on Audit Chair Grace Pulido-Tan testified that the misuse of the pork barrel funds “continued well into the Aquino administration, with the same implementing agencies and same legislators.” How does one explain this discrepancy? ■

But Calvin notes that “significant inequalities in better health outcomes remain—both among and within countries.” This is true in the Philippines, where, in the face of worldwide trends of falling maternal mortality rates, women continue to die in increasing numbers, due to causes related to pregnancy and child birth. The “conversation” at the UN, then, is meant to spur further and faster action on meeting the MDGs, especially in countries like the Philippines, where the prospect of achieving poverty-related targets and goals meant to improve women’s and children’s health is looking dim, if not dark. *** I DON’T know if this is related in any way to the two previous items, but I am intrigued by news that yet another performer, a comedian this time, has gotten caught in yet another sex video scandal. The latest word from my more showbiz savvy children is that comedian Wally Bayola of the hugely popular TV noontime show “Eat Bulaga” has been suspended from the show pending investigation of his starring role (I was about to say “upstanding role”) in a tryst with an “EB Babe,” as the dancers on the show are known, that was recorded on video and is now an Internet sensation. This “scandal,” nothing new, really,

has an added complication in Bayola’s case because he is a very much married man with numerous children. An online report asks a question on everyone’smind:“Whyintheworldrecordit?” Why, indeed? It seems from reports that Bayola was fully aware that he and his partner were being filmed, with the comedian getting up many times to adjust the camera’s focus. Was he hoping the video would be used as “evidence” of his macho stature? Was he hoping to watch the “show” later on, as a memento of his sexual conquest? The wrinkle is that the video now provides evidence for his wife should she choose to hale Bayola to court for concubinage. *** THE BIGGER question is why celebrities would even risk getting their licit or illicit sexual activities recorded. As the report says: “The planning, the shooting and the storing of such videos are risky enough. And when it’s so easy today to hack and leak anything on one’s phone or hard drive, recording your most private moments is almost tantamount to sharing it yourself.” Or maybe Bayola and other sex video celebrities are just so enamored of their images on the screen that they need to record every single minute of their days. Even if it involves acts better done in privacy, with no third parties included. ■


New laws, old scandals By Rina Jimenez-David Philippine Daily Inquirer “MAKING HERstory: The Women’s Priority Legislative Agenda for the 16th Congress” is the title of a forum to be held to finalize the list of new laws and amendments to existing laws that seek to improve the status of women to be submitted to Congress. “As the primary policy-making and coordinating body on women and gender equality concerns,” says the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), the body “is committed to support and advocate for the enactment of legislation to recognize, protect, fulfill and promote the rights of Filipino women.” Because of this mission, the PCW conducted a series of roundtable discussions with stakeholders from government offices, nongovernment organizations and the academe last May and June to discuss the measures to be included in the Women’s Priority Legislative Agenda (WPLA). The WPLA, says the commission, “seeks to amend or repeal the discriminatory provisions of existing laws and moves for the formulation and adoption of new legislation that promote women’s empowerment and gender equality.” Among the measures covered by the proposed WPLA are: the Magna Carta

of Workers in the Informal Economy (nonsalaried work); amendment or repeal of specific provisions of the Revised Penal Code, including the antiprostitution bill, the marital infidelity bill to amend provisions on adultery and concubinage; repeal of Article 351 on premature marriages; amendment of the provision on death or physical injuries under exceptional circumstances. Also, the amendment or repeal of specific provisions of the Family Code, including provisions giving preference to the man’s decisions as father and husband, and repeated physical abuse as a ground for legal separation; amendment to the antisexual harassment law; and amendment to the antirape law. The general impression, I gather, is that the country has “more than enough” laws to ensure equality of men and women before the law. But the reality is that not only is the gap wide and widening between the letter and the implementation of laws, and between the status of men and women; also, officials and agencies still have to fully know the content and intent of many of our laws seeking gender equality. Which is why even now the PCW seeks to amend certain laws even as they have yet to be fully implemented or understood. The work never ends, it seems. ***

A SIMILAR effort is underway at the international level, with global leaders meeting in New York in a few weeks for the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. The meeting, says an article in the Huffington Post, promises to be “one of the most important conversations of our time.”

Maybe Bayola and other sex video celebrities are just so enamored of their images on the screen that they need to record every single minute of their days. Even if it involves acts better done in privacy. Taking center stage are the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), conceived and agreed to by majority of the world’s governments, “to motivate leaders and donors to take action for the world’s poor people. In general, the MDGs worked, with writer Kathy Calvin citing progress made in the field of health, “with women more likely to survive pregnancy and childbirth, with maternal mortality down 47 percent since 1990.” Children, too, have benefited from the push from the MDGs, they now have a better shot at surviving their first five years of life, (and) child mortality falling by 41 percent.




Targeting presidential pork By Randy David Philippine Daily Inquirer IN THE light of the P10-billion pork barrel scam allegedly masterminded by Janet Lim-Napoles with the implied consent of members of Congress, some groups now seek to focus public attention on President Aquino’s own pork barrel. So as not to muddle the issues, we might usefully sort out the various meanings attached to the term “pork barrel.” Strictly speaking, the concept of “pork barrel” applies only to lawmakers, to refer to the practice of according influential legislators the privilege of appropriating public funds for their pet projects. This practice, which originated in the United States, is widely seen as pushing the congressional power of appropriation a bit too far, to the point of making a mockery of the principle of separation of governmental functions. Pork is generally frowned upon in modern democracies as a vestige of traditional politics. In modern political systems, Congress wields the power to approve the budget, while the President, as chief executive, has the power to disburse public money according to the approved budget. In this context, the notion of a presidential pork barrel makes

no sense because the entire approved budget is, to all intents and purposes, under the control of the President. But as I understand the call for the abolition of presidential pork, the objection specifically refers to the large amounts of unprogrammed funds under the disposal of the President. Some of these funds are not part of the approved national budget. A good example would be the proceeds from the casino operations of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), a percentage of which is turned over to the President’s Social Fund. Others are in the nature of lump sum provisions for contingencies that are found in the budgets of various departments of government. I fully sympathize with the call for transparency and accountability, and to limit the scope of personal discretion in the use of all public funds. But, I think it may be going too far to demand that all lump sum provisions be deleted from the budget of government offices. It is conventional to set aside a portion of any budget (usually 5-15 percent) to take care of socalled contingencies or unforeseen expenses. So long as these are spent for designated purposes and are properly accounted for, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with this

practice. Indeed, this is integral to the administrative function. As to whether the President should have his own social fund, to be disbursed according to his personal discretion, I think this is an issue that can be properly debated in the legislature. As governance becomes more complex, it is probably best to assign those needs currently funded by the President’s Social Fund and other funds of a similar nature to the relevant departments or agencies

Perhaps, in the beginning, greed was moderate. Lawmakers were content to get 10-15 % of the value of their projects as kickback. of government. We have seen how funds like these were notoriously abused during the presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. But even as we keep an eye on the executive branch, let us not allow ourselves to be diverted from the main issue that confronts us today— what to do with an institutionalized pork barrel system that has practically turned Congress into a pigsty of corruption. In the quest for answers, it may be useful to do a quick review

of how we got to the situation in which we find ourselves. The 1935 Constitution gave Congress the right to increase the proposed appropriations for itself and the judiciary. This right, however, was subsequently deleted from the scope of congressional power of appropriation and no longer appears in the 1987 Constitution. But, perhaps to accommodate our lawmakers, the Cory Aquino administration put in a lump sum provision in its proposed budget every year and called it the Community Development Fund, to be used for local projects recommended by legislators. This was later renamed Countryside Development Fund, and, much later, Priority Development Assistance Fund. Other things happened along the way. First, a lot of foreign aid was being given to the government to help nurture the newly-restored democracy, and soon nongovernment organizations (NGOs) found themselves being offered public funds in order to solve the “limited absorptive capacity” of government. Second, access to the pork barrel was democratized by allotting equal amounts to members of Congress (P70 million for each representative and P200 million for each senator). Perhaps, in the beginning, greed was

moderate. Lawmakers were content to get 10-15 percent of the value of their projects as kickback from the contractors they recommended. But seeing that officials in government departments through which these projects were channeled could easily be intimidated or bought, some got bolder and demanded bigger cuts. The lack of transparency in the implementation was compounded by the absence of accountability in the auditing process. Heads of agencies generally avoid incurring the ire of lawmakers. They know how members of Congress could get back at anyone who displeased them in any of their hearings. The resulting total breakdown in the control system over the pork barrel bred the kind of schemes we now associate with the Napoles group of NGOs: ghost projects, bogus NGOs, shell state corporations, fictitious supplies, nonexistent beneficiaries, and 60-70 percent kickback for lawmakers. Even in its benign forms, the pork barrel system cannot be justified. In our highly unequal society, it works purely as a tool of patronage. It encourages mendicancy among the poor. It weakens the check-and-balance mechanisms of government. It corrupts even the most idealistic of our public officials. ■


Pork also making us a nation of mendicants By Neal H. Cruz Philippine Daily Inquirer IT HAS turned out that not only members of Congress and the incumbent president have pork barrel funds but also Cabinet members. At least one congressman, Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali of the Liberal Party (LP), has admitted that he got P10 million from the pork of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and allocated it to a bogus nongovernment organization (NGO) owned by pork barrel scam queen Janet Lim-Napoles. Instead of a congressman allocating his Priority Development Assistance Fund or PDAF (the camouflage for the pork barrel) to an executive department, it is now the Cabinet member, Alcala, allocating funds to a congressman. Farmers are so short of support services (e.g., farm-to-market roads, palay dryers, and warehouses within which rice grains can be stored to protect them from rats and other pests) that they cannot produce enough rice for our needs. But here was Alcala allocating “priority development funds” for farmers to a congressman who then allocated it to a Napoles NGO and, from there, to Napoles’ bathtub and then to her bank accounts. Why does Alcala have a P1.67-

billion budget that he can allocate to lawmakers and other government officials of his choice? Imagine what P1.67 billion can do to help farmers? But that money is helping only lawmakers and Napoles. Obviously, that fund is being used by Alcala to curry favor with lawmakers and other public officials. Why does he have to do that? Is it to make sure that he would not be removed from his position? But the best gauge that Alcala is fit for the agriculture portfolio is his performance in making the agriculture sector produce enough for the nation. Alas, he is failing in that. In fact, there is now a rice shortage and prices have increased drastically, bringing untold hardships to our people. Alcala claims there is no shortage and blames the rice traders for the price increases. If there is enough rice, where is it? Hoarders, claims Alcala. Easy to say that. If you hoard rice too long, pests feast on it, the quality suffers, and you lose money on it. The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has confiscated tons and tons of rice recently. It could have sold the rice to the National Food Authority (NFA) to replenish its stocks. But no, the BOC sold it at public auctions and the smugglers probably won the bidding.

So the rice is back in the hands of smugglers. That is why smuggling has become a lucrative industry in the Philippines. If you are caught, you can get back your smuggled goods through public auctions. Meanwhile, NFA has to import rice. And aside from the purchase price, it has to pay for shipping costs. So the cost of NFA rice rises, and NFA fails in its responsibility to have enough stocks to stabilize prices.

The reason the pork barrel should be abolished is, it breeds corruption. It corrupts not only the lawmakers, but also a lot of others in even the private sector. Had the smuggled rice been sold to it, NFA would not have to pay shipping costs because the rice is already here, and NFA can therefore sell it cheaper to consumers. *** Although a majority of senators (16) are already in favor of abolishing the pork barrel and the House of Representatives is circulating a statement asking the appropriations committee to delete the P25-billion appropriation for the PDAF, some congressmen are still fighting tooth

and nail to retain their pork. They claim that the pork has been helping their constituents by giving them scholarships and medical assistance. That may be true, but that is only a very small portion of the pork. The biggest portion goes to the pockets of lawmakers and to the bogus NGOs of Napoles. The reason the pork barrel should be abolished is, it breeds corruption. It corrupts not only the lawmakers, officials and employees of agencies under the executive department and people like Napoles, but also a lot of others in even the private sector. Private contractors, the treasurers and cashiers who release the checks and funds, heads of agencies who sign the checks and release orders, chiefs of staff, secretaries and clerks are also corrupted. There are government offices that handle scholarships and medical assistance, like the Department of Education and the Department of Health, and government hospitals. Why not give the funds directly to them instead of coursing the money through lawmakers? But not the way the plotters in the House of Representatives want it. The move of the congressmen is to assuage the anger of the people but they would want to still retain their pork in a disguised form. The P25-billion pork barrel would be distributed to differ-

ent government agencies but it would be reserved for projects to be chosen by the lawmakers. The lawmakers will have the right to recommend the use of these funds by their constituents. That is still pork barrel in disguise. By all means, distribute the P25 billion to different government agencies but let them determine who or what entity should get a share of it based on merit, not just because lawmakers recommended them. Why do lawmakers want that they themselves would be the ones to hand out doles to their constituents? Because that is a form of vote-buying. They expect the beneficiaries to vote for them during elections. And that practice makes mendicants of our people. People run to politicians for alms at every excuse. They show dog-eared doctor prescriptions for medicines, death certificates for relatives (some beggars have relatives dying every month). They run to politicians for financial help during weddings, baptisms and birthdays. The begging has become a mild form of extortion. The politicians know that if they refuse to give money to constituents, not only will they lose votes, their rivals will get more support. If we do not stop this practice, we will become a nation of mendicants. ■



Canada News

Freeze Employment Insurance premiums for three years, boost jobs: Flaherty BY MURRAY BREWSTER The Canadian Press OTTAWA—Employers and workers will get a small break over the next three years as the Conservative government freezes employment insurance premiums at the current level. Planned rate increases are no longer necessary because the separate account through which the government manages the fund is looking healthier than it did a few years ago, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said Monday. The account, which ran a deficit following the economic downturn, is on track to return to balance faster than expected. “More people are working, so more people are paying into the operating account of the employment insurance plan and fewer people are claiming,” Flaherty said at an event south of Ottawa. Finance Department staff estimated the freeze will save businesses and workers $660 million next year, something that Flaherty believes will give employers the flexibility to hire more staff. The Conservatives promised that after 2017 the premium will be set every year and calibrated so the fund will have a seven year break-even rate, which finance officials say means more stability and affordable rates. The premium rate at the 2013 level

is $1.88 for every $100 of insurable earnings. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business says it’s happy with the announcement, calling it “fantastic news” for the country’s entrepreneurs. “This move will keep hundreds of millions of dollars in the pockets of employers and employees, which can only be a positive for the Canadian economy,” said Dan Kelly, president of the business lobby. But Erin Weir, an economist with the United Steelworkers, was skeptical and noted that when Flaherty announced the initial policy in September 2010, the number of unemployed stood at 1.5 million. “Since then, that figure has edged down to 1.4 million, hardly a breathtaking reduction in unemployment,” he said. The government has been accused of making it harder to get EI and Weir says that is one of the unspoken truths of the g o v e r n m e n t ’s explanation for the healthier account balance. “The falling number of EI recipients reflects not only the slight reduction in unem-

ployment but also government policy changes that make benefits less accessible,” he said. “Freezing premiums effectively locks in those benefit cuts.” Flaherty says the freeze will have no impact on his drive to balance the federal budget because EI is handled from a separate account. “We are on track and we anticipate we’ll be able to balance the budget in 2015 without difficulty,” Flaherty said. The Harper government has resisted outlining how and where it intends to cut, even fighting a court suit brought by the parliamentary budget officer. Last spring, the Federal Court dismissed—on a technicality—a request to consider whether the watchdog has a legal right to demand the government turn over information on its cost-cutting program. Most of the details of program cuts and federal workforce reductions have emerged after the fact. Flaherty said Monday that the next budget, expected in the spring, will give the public a clearer idea of where the government is going. “We’ll see in the budget, in the spring, we should be able to show quite clearly the track that we’re following to get to a balanced budget in 2015,” he said. ■

What the 2011 census, and its controversial sidekick, have shown us so far BY HEATHER SCOFFIELD The Canadian Press OTTAWA—If the reams of statistics released from the 2011 census and its controversial new cousin, the National Household Survey, teach us anything, it’s that there is no such thing as the quintessential Canadian.

Now that Statistics Canada has published almost all of its findings, Canadians know their country is aging. But they also know the West holds a new allure, and that Canada is becoming increasingly urban, multiracial, and well-educated. We often don’t have any children living at home—either because we didn’t have any to begin with or be-

cause they’ve grown up and moved away. Younger parents, however, have been bucking the trends and fostering a surprise mini-baby boom of their own. “We’re very diverse and our diversity is growing even more as time goes by,” said Marc Hamel, census ❱❱ PAGE 20 What the 2011


STARVATION DEATH INQUEST HEARS 911 CALL TORONTO—If children’s aid societies had done any background checks on two people who starved their five-year-old grandson to death they would have found “a horrific history” of child abuse, a coroner’s inquest heard Monday. A jury sitting on the inquest into Jeffrey Baldwin’s death will have to determine whether enough changes have been made to the child protection system in the 11 years since he died, or if there are more improvements that can be made to ensure no other child suffers Jeffrey’s fate. VALUE OF BUILDING PERMITS JUMPED IN JULY OTTAWA—Contractors took out building permits worth $8 billion in July, up 20.7 per cent from June—the sixth month-to-month gain in seven months, Statistics Canada reported Monday. The July increase came mainly from higher construction intentions for commercial buildings in Ontario, Alberta and Quebec. WYNNE SAYS FALL ELECTION IF NO COOPERATION TORONTO—Premier Kathleen Wynne kicked off the fall session of the Ontario legislature Monday by warning she’ll call an election if the Opposition keeps preventing any bills from being passed. “I’m not going to put a time frame on that, and I’m not going to be categorical about it, but I just want people to know that there’s not an indefinite option to continue to wrangle on every single piece of legislation,” Wynne told reporters. MAINE GOVERNOR LENDS SUPPORT TO PIPELINE LA MALBAIE—The governor of Maine is lending his support to TransCanada’s proposed west-east pipeline, saying his state would welcome Alberta’s oil. “I think it’s a great project,” Gov. Paul LePage said Monday at the annual meeting of New England governors and eastern Canadian premiers in La Malbaie, Que.

Canada News


CHURCHILL, MAN.—A man who used his cellphone to scare off a 180-kilogram polar bear says he’s lucky to be alive with only a few superficial puncture wounds and scratches. Garett Kolsun was walking home early Saturday morning in the Hudson Bay community of Churchill—known as the polar bear capital of the world—after celebrating the end of the work week with friends. He said he caught something out of the corner of his eye while he walked down the Manitoba town’s main drag. “I turned and looked, and it was a polar bear charging towards me,” Kolsun, 40, said in an interview Monday. “I started running from it, looking for some place to go and get away from this bear.” Businesses in the town of about 1,000 were all closed, so Kolsun had nowhere to hide.

“I stopped and I turned around to face the bear,” he said. “It was already there, right on top of me. I started shouting, yelling, screaming, waving my arms, running backwards to keep my eye on the bear.” Kolsun said he ended up trapped on the porch of a bakery with the bear he believes was still young because of its size. It pinned him against the door and swiped at him with his paw. The bruin, which stood about 1 1/2 metres tall, also sank his teeth into Kolsun’s hip, although Kolsun says that, at the time, he didn’t even realize the bear had punctured his skin. “The bear’s nose was inches away from me. I didn’t know where else to go. I was just (thinking), ‘what can I do to get away from this bear?’ That’s all I kept thinking about. I didn’t want to be a stat.” Kolsun fished into his pocket and pulled out his cellphone. He turned the power on and turned the screen toward

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the bear. “I was hoping anything I would do would give me an opportunity to get away from it,” he explained. “I was trying anything at that point. I was screaming, yelling, waving my arms, trying everything and it just kept chasing me and chasing me. I was just hoping for the best and, luckily, it worked.” The lit screen startled the bear briefly and it took a step back, Kolsun said. It hit a flower pot on the porch and looked away for an instant. “When it turned its head, I just turned and ran as fast as I could.” Kolsun said he ran several blocks, looking for a home with its lights on. He

saw some people sitting on a deck and ran to them. When he turned around, the polar bear was gone. “The bear had stopped chasing me some place along the way there.” Kolsun took a cab to the health centre where staff cleaned his wounds, bandaged them and gave him a tetanus shot. He was released several hours later. Monday morning, he was back on the job as a Canadian Border Services guard. “I was definitely very lucky,” Kolsun said. “He could have hurt me worse.” The bear was captured later on Saturday and taken to the provincial polar ❱❱ PAGE 44 ‘I was definitely’

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World News


What’s not to like? Iran’s president urges Facebook for all government chiefs BY NASSER KARIMI AND BRIAN MURPHY The Associated Press TEHRAN, IRAN—Iran’s curious world of online politics looked a bit more crowded Monday with members of President Hasan Rouhani’s Cabinet encouraged to open their own Facebook pages—in a country where authorities, at the same time, try to block the public from social media. The government-as-Facebook Friends initiative, reported by the pro-reform Shargh daily, is seen as part of Rouhani’s efforts to give the presidency a makeover as more accountable and accessible after his combative predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But it further exposes the internal tensions among Iran’s leadership over whether the Internet is ultimately a force to be expanded or best kept tightly controlled. Disputes even broke out—on Web-based Iranian news sites—over the authenticity of some of the Facebook pages linked to some ministers. Still, the overall direction of Rouhani’s

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chief for Statistics Canada. More often than not, Canadians work in services industries. Women are gaining dominance in many new areas of education. And same-sex couples have become an accepted norm. On Wednesday, the agency will release the final piece of the demographics puzzle: income. From there, it will become clear whether our rich heritage translates into actual riches—whether Canada’s widespread diversity also means widespread prosperity. The third and final instalment of the National Household Survey will illustrate how many Canadians live below the poverty line, how affordable their homes are, how pervasive government transfers are, where the rich and the poor tend to congregate, and whether young people are struggling. From there, analysts will grab the data and run, crunching the numbers to eventually determine the gap between rich and poor, to figure out whether the middle class has stagnated, and whether the super-rich are amassing further wealth. The agency will also be zeroing in on what kind of education makes for a rich Canadian, and putting together a list of what makes a neighbourhood poor. They are the demographic questions that have defined recent elections in the United States and promise to play prominently here too, as parents worry about their grown children being able to maintain their standard of living. Politics aside, age has already been shown to be creating its fair share of schisms in Canadian society, said Doug Norris, chief demographer at Environics Analytics. Cities are attracting a dynamic, young population while small towns are in decline as populations dwindle and age. “That’s going to be a real challenge for us” as city planners and governments figure out where to concentrate the public services needed so acutely by the elderly, Norris said. It’s a challenge that former Manitoba MP Inky Mark already wrestles with on a daily basis. He still lives in the town of Dauphin, where the population of about 8,000 is slightly lower than it was when he moved there in the early 1970s. “The kids go to school, grow up and leave, because there’s nothing here, there’s no one here,” Mark said. “They don’t come back.” The older generation stays behind, however, and is having a hard time finding the social and professional services it needs, he added. “We’re going downhill.” The country’s suburbs are also in flux. ❰❰ 18

government is clear: pushing for more interaction and outreach on the Web for both image-tweaking as well as instant diplomacy with major issues in play, such as possible U.S.-led military strikes on Tehran ally Syria and attempts to restart talks over Iran’s nuclear program. “Rouhani has surrounded himself with quite savvy public relations aides,” said Merhzad Boroujerdi, director of the Middle East Studies program at Syracuse University. “These guys understand the strategies for Rouhani to set himself apart from Ahmadinejad. For better or worse, things like social media will play a central part in Rouhani’s presidency.” It may not always be an easy reach, though, with hardliners still deeply suspicious of social media for its central role in opposition protests after Ahmadinejad’s disputed 2009 re-election. Facebook and other main sites are blocked. But Iran’s legions of young and tech-smart cyber-surfers consistently find proxy servers and other methods to bypass the controls. Some newspapers Monday speculated or phone (604) 278-2822

What the 2011...

Families flocked to city outskirts a generation ago to take advantage of large yards, green space and homes they could actually afford. Now that the children have left home, elderly parents are moving into nearby condos and their houses are often snapped up by new, extended immigrant families. So suburban policy makers need to deal with the implications of aging and and cultural diversity at the same time, said Glenn Miller, vice-president of education and research at the Canadian Urban Institute. When it comes to designing institutions and social services for such communities, “at a high level, we’ve got to be aware of one size fits all,” Miller said. Edmonton is basking in its surge of diversity and growth even as the city’s population strains the capacity of infrastructure, libraries, transit and sports facilities, said city councillor Amarjeet Sohi. The changing population has meant a new demand for downtown housing, bike lanes and late-night buses for the younger generation, but also a growing need for transportation for seniors living in the suburbs, he said. There’s also the matter of adjusting to a multi-racial society, which is not always smooth—especially in the workplace. “The West is just learning to deal with those tensions,” Sohi said. “It’s very critical for us to be having this conversation.” The census and NHS are undoubtedly the backbone of that conversation, but critics and analysts have argued endlessly that the government has undermined its data by eliminating the longform census of times past, and replacing it with the voluntary National Household Survey. Hamel, Statcan’s census chief, said it’s still too early to be writing off the usefulness of the demographic data released so far. For him, the official release is only the beginning of a massive number-crunching exercise that will endure until the next census in five years. The releases so far have shown Canada the broad strokes, he said, calling it “a family photo of 34 million people.” As researchers, students and urban planners take a magnifying glass to that picture, and apply their observations on a local level, Canada will have a much richer understanding of itself, he added. As for Hamel, despite piloting the census and NHS through 18 months of unprecedented scrutiny, he is showing no signs of wanting to pack it in. “It’s probably the best job to have in this place,” he said. ■

World News


Rodman to go back to North Korea, this time with other former NBA players BY BRIAN MAHONEY The Associated Press NEW YORK—Dennis Rodman is going back to North Korea, and bringing a team of former NBA players with him. Days after returning from his second trip to visit Kim Jong Un— in which he said he became the first foreigner to hold the leader’s newborn daughter—Rodman announced plans Monday to stage two exhibition games in North Korea in January. The first will be Jan. 8—Kim’s birthday—with another to follow two days later. Rodman’s friendship with the autocratic leader has been criticized—and led to a couple of testy exchanges during his Manhattan news conference. But Rodman insists Kim is a good person, wants to have better relations with the United States and that he’s the one who can help make it happen with his plan for “basketball diplomacy.” “Why North Korea? It’ll open

doors,” Rodman said. Touting his friendship with Kim and taunting President Barack Obama for not talking to him, Rodman said he will go back to North Korea for a week in December to help select local players for the game. He hopes to have stars such as former Chicago teammate Scottie Pippen and Karl Malone. “Michael Jordan, he won’t do it, because he’s Michael Jordan,” Rodman said. Rodman, holding a cigar and wearing the shirt of a vodka company and a hat of a betting company that is funding the event, said Kim has asked him to train his players to compete in the 2016 Olympics and offered to allow the Hall of Famer to write a book about him. Though looking like a billboard, Rodman said he’s not doing the event for money. He said the Irish betting company Paddy Power would put up $3.5 million. Power later said finances hadn’t been determined. And Rodman, who joked that

he hadn’t drawn such a crowd in New York since he wore a wedding dress to a book signing, was adamant that this venture was serious—”groundbreaking,” in Rodman’s words. “People think this is a gimmick. I would love to make this a gimmick ... but it’s not about the money,” he said. He rarely referred to Kim by name, frequently calling him “the marshal.” Rodman first met Kim, a basketball fan, when travelling to North Korea in February for a film project. Though saying he didn’t want to discuss politics, Rodman raised his voice when answering a questioner about Kim’s human rights record and portrayed himself as the person who could make outsiders see the young leader as different than his father and grandfather. “He has to do his job but he’s a very good guy,” Rodman said. “If he wanted to bomb anybody in the world, he would have done it.” Instead, Rodman had harder

Rodman on his visit to North Korea: “Why North Korea? It’ll open doors.” PHOTO FROM FEATUREFLASH / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

words for Obama, whom he spoke angrily of while talking to reporters last week after his trip. He talked around a question about American citizen and Christian missionary Kenneth Bae, who was arrested in November and sentenced to 15 years of hard labour for what Pyongyang described as hostile acts against the state. Kim has the power to grant special pardons under the North’s constitution. Rodman said lobbying for the release of a prisoner wasn’t his job, blaming the president for not reaching out to ease tensions between the countries. “Why Obama, are you afraid to talk to Dennis Rodman?” Rodman said, his voice rising as if he were a professional wrestler—another former pur-

suit—calling out an opponent. “You’re not afraid to talk to Beyonce and Jay-Z, why not me? Why not me? I’m pretty important now, right?” In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf avoided comment Monday on Rodman’s trip to North Korea, saying it was a private visit. She said the department was open to hearing about it, although she wasn’t aware of any effort by officials to speak to Rodman. Rodman also said he would interview Kim on live TV during the trip. Organizers said details would be provided at a later date. ■ Associated Press writer Matthew Pennington in Washington contributed to this report.



Accused human trafficker told immigration she needed care giver for Canada visit BY DENE MOORE The Canadian Press VANCOUVER—A British Columbia woman accused of human trafficking told immigration officials she was bringing her Tanzanian caregiver to Canada because she needed her help during a two-month visit, the woman’s trial heard Thursday. In a letter submitted with the woman’s application for a visitor’s visa, Mumtaz Ladha said she suffered from vertigo and osteo-arthritis, and needed to bring her longtime employee. The application submitted to the Canadian embassy in Dar es-Salaam said the single, 23-year-old mother of one would be staying with her and would be supported by her for the duration of the visit. “Letter from Canadian citizen employer on file states principal applicant has worked

for her for five years. Employer states owns hair dresser salon and is a resident of Tanzania,” Jessica Poon, a citizenship officer for Citizenship and Immigration Canada read in court from the woman’s immigration file. The first application was denied, noting there was no proof of funds provided by either the woman or Ladha. “Not sufficient documents on file to assess principal applicants assets or ties, or employer ties to Tanzania. Given no previous travel, weak establishment of ties, no proof of assets or funds, I’m not satisfied the principal applicant is a bona fide visitor and will leave Canada at end of stay. Also not satisfied employer has sufficient funds to support trip,” Poon read from the file entered as evidence. “Refused.” A second application was quickly submitted, and this

time the woman submitted a note from Ladha’s doctor and a business license for the hair and beauty salon Ladha owned in Tanzania, as well as a business card of Ladha’s daughter, a professor at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business with whom they would be living. “Your employer states that she is in poor health and needs assistance,” the immigration officer noted in the second application. Upon request, the woman also submitted a Canadian bank statement from Ladha showing a balance in excess of $549,000. “I take it half a million dollars in a bank account, that would be more than enough to satisfy a visa officer that the employer

has sufficient funds?” Crown lawyer Charles Hough asked. “Correct,” Poon replied. A visitor’s visa was issued allowing the woman, who cannot be named due to a court publication ban, to remain in Canada for up to six months after her arrival. Before that period expired, she submitted with the help of an immigration consultant an application to have her visitor’s visa extended until July 14, 2009. On June 3, 2009, the woman fled Ladha’s home in the well-heeled British Properties neighbourhood of West Vancouver for a women’s shelter. Ladha is accused of luring the

22-year-old woman to Canada with the promise of a job in a hair salon, only to force her to work around the clock as a maid in her $4-million West Vancouver mansion. She faces four counts under the Immigration Act, including human trafficking, two counts of misrepresentation to immigration officials and one count related to employment of the woman without the required permits. Defence has said the woman was not an employee, but a companion who was treated like a member of the family. Justice Lauri Ann Fenlon, who is hearing the case without a jury, heard earlier that the woman arrived at the women’s shelter with no money, no clothes and no passport. West Vancouver police retrieved her passport and some clothing from a small, windowless room off the pool room in the mansion. ■



Familial Flamenco BY CHING DEE Philippine Canadian Inquirer ECHAVEZ SIBLINGS Lee, Anja, Mia, and Gino aren’t just performing artists, they’re Flamenco dancers. And while not everyone might not be as familiar with this style as they are, they share their passion for Flamenco through every cante (singing), every toque (guitar playing), and every baile (dance). “A Happy Accident”

Born and raised in the Philippines, the Echavez family enjoys your typical Pinoy family activities. But it was one fateful day at the mall in year 2000 that changed their lives for good. “I always maintain that our immigration was more or less a happy accident,” said Gino. “We were having a leisurely time in the mall—the boys had the toy store to hang out in, mom and the girls had clothes shopping to do, but dad had nothing in particular in mind,” Lee recalled. “Papa walked into a Canadian Opportunities satellite office in the mall for some information, he walked out having paid a small fee to get his application started. Come 2008 we had our immigrant visas and had to leave everything behind. We came to Canada and stayed for two months to get our immigrant cards and went back to settle personal affairs… We came back [to Canada] one by one in 2009,” he continued. The siblings also recounted their struggles and triumphs when they first moved to Canada—like adjusting to a new lifestyle and culture.

“I find that it is a lot more laidback here than in Manila. Although such a small thing, one example is that most stores and restaurants close so early compared to Manila. It took us a while to get used to that,” Anja explained. Gino agreed. “Lifestyle was a major adjustment but it was very nice to discover that Canadians are very welcoming and friendly,” he said. Another area where the family had a little difficulty with is gaining employment. “We had to gain employment that required no Canadian work or volunteer experience whatsoever,” Lee shared. “However, we made sure those jobs helped us gain skills we needed for more promising future employment, skills such as cash handling and customer interaction,” Lee added. Though struggles and obstacles exist, the Echavez siblings learned the ropes in no time with the help of the people around them. “[Another] obstacle was building a productive network,” Lee remembered. “It was only by coincidence that we found the Ateneo Alumni Association of BC, which has been our network since then, and the wonderful people we have met, in one way or another, have helped us gainful employment in our respective fields today,” he continued. Gino gratefully remembered those who helped them out while they were starting out in Canada. He said, “We’ve met a lot of really good people and we will always be thankful to them for helping us when we were still trying to get our bearings.” “I also had to establish new

Anja and Lee with a fellow dancer

relationships and make new friends. It was difficult because I didn’t share a lot of their experiences because I grew up in a different country.Going back to school for a year helped me make new friends and get back into a normal rhythm. I felt more adjusted after I went back to school and started an office job,” explained Anja. It’s true, Filipinos thrive and flourish in the midst of adversity, and the Echavez siblings’ triumph over their neophyte struggles in the Great White North can be summarized using Lee’s words: “In whatever country you find yourself, it’s true that going through life is all about making the most of the little windows of opportunity that all of us receive.” Just this June, their youngest sister Mia moved back to the Philippines to pursue her education. At a tender age

At a time when Flamenco was still “unheard of” in the Philippines, their loving mother signed them up for class that changed their lives forever. “It took our mom years to find a Flamenco school in the

Gino and Mia with a fellow dancer

Anja, Mia, Lee and Gino with their mom (center)

Philippines and back then, it was always difficult to get support outside the Flamenco community,” Gino said. “When our mom saw a flamenco teacher featured and interviewed on TV, she immediately asked us to try flamenco,” Anja recalled. The siblings recall their mother being “obsessed” with flamenco since she was young. This passion for the performing arts gave life to three children who grew up giving performances during family reunions.

And while their mother might have been responsible for enrolling them in that Flamenco class, it was their innermost calling that made them stay. “We ended up liking [Flamenco] because it was challenging and it was not your usual art form,” said Lee. “We were unsure what it was but we were excited to try something new. Right after our first lesson, we already knew that we would love it. I find it very ❱❱ PAGE 38 Familial Flamenco

Seen & Scenes



True to its Vision and Passion to advocate for charity, the Philippine Canadian Charitable Foundation (PCCF) Officers, led by president Romy Rafael, presented a cheque in the amount of $9,000 to ANCOP President, Temi Pangilinan. To date, PCCF has donated to ANCOP $27,500. The donation will fund the building of houses for the poor in the planned PCCF Village in Paranaque. Inauguration of the village is scheduled in January 2014. Rosemer Enverga, EVP of PCCF, indicated that the donation is the result of everyone's support in all of the events of PCCF, namely, Pinoy Fiesta and Trade Show sa Toronto, Miss Philippines Canada, Little Miss Philippines Canada and Mrs. Philippines Canada Pageants. Everyone had fun and helped at the same time. A few weeks ago, PCCF donated $3,500 for a fencing project at the home of the Filipino Mission. Joining the cheque presentation were the officers and supporters of PCCF, parliamentarians Senator Enverga, founder of PCCF, and Brampton MP Parm Gill.


September 7 - The U Alumni Association revived its annual G funds for the UPAAB finisher was former U Many UPAABC senio 2.9 km Grouse Grind Nature’s Stairmaster


Photo shows Pastor Teck Uy (1st from left) of the Friends together with the congregation members which include Magadalena Pasuquin, Mercy Papa, and Romy Zetazate event of the congregation. (Dindo Orbeso, St. Jamestow


Photo below shows the I - Remit contingent headed by Country Manager and Manager Director Belinda Lim Herrera and Ontario Branch Manager Simeon M. Sarte (seated infront) that joined the thousand participants of ANCOP Walk on August 25, 2013, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. ANCOP walk brings generous people from all across North America in walking to fight poverty and brings hope and dignity to the poorest of the poor in the Philippines.(St. Jamestown News Service)

September 6 - A fundraising event was held for the vi rey, BC. A total of $5,700.00 was raised and will reach hosted by Art Fabian of Starline Windows and Lizette night special. Performers were UPAABC talents - Mel Ronan Esmenda, PCI Children’s Group, PCI Band, MJ by Mr. Bert Quibuyen of UPAABC. The event was org Inquirer, UPAABC, and Praise International Church.


At the Bagunu picnic held on September 2, 2013 at th Park, Vancouver, BC.

For photo submissions, please email

Seen & Scenes



University of the Philippines in British Columbia (UPAABC) Grouse Grind tradition to raise BC Scholarship Fund. Top UPAABC president Eric Inigo. ors went up and finished the d, which is also called Mother r.

PMAWCG PICNIC Philippine Military Academic Western Canada Group picnic with their wives in City Park, Langley, British Columbia.


s of Jesus Christ (FJCC) Bible Study Leader during the special wn News Service)

ictims of typhoon Maring in the Philippines at Praise International Church hall in Surh our countrymen through the Philippine National Red Cross. It was a night of music e Lofranco-Aba of UPAABC with special guest Ms. Joey Albert, who truly made the lissa, Lizette, and Charen and The Three Brothers - Karl, John, and Ian Tamondong, J Ancheta and Allan Tanciangco. A discussion about the Pork Barrel was moderated ganized through the partnership of SMBrokers, Starline Windows, Philippine Canadian

he New Brighton

MUSIC FOR LIFE A fundraising event for the victims of Typhoon Maring was hosted by the Filipino Plaza Society of BC at the Copper Club Grill & Lounge, and was held in coordination with the Canadian Red Cross. Ms. Joey Albert and friends with the Manila Band performed. Photos by Angelo Siglos.

Global Filipino



Jason Godfrey

BY CHING DEE Philippine Canadian Inquirer HE’S ONE of those guys that are too good to be true. He is (in Derek Zoolander’s words) “really really ridiculously goodlooking,” he’s funny, he’s witty, he acts and writes and poses professionally. What more could you possibly ask for? Well, why not throw in being a professional traveler? First Taste

Jason Godfrey is a FilipinoCanadian. Born and raised in Canada, he first visited the Philippines in 2005. His first destination? Coron, Palawan. “I went to Coron in 2005—it was like this little fishing village and it was awesome. There was no one around, and you get to do all these things where you really feel like you’re on the frontier of doing things that no one else has; it just felt really authentic,” he fondly recalled. He also shared his first love(s) in the Philippines back then. “I lived here for four months, in Makati. Ate at Italianni’s and Cyma. That’s when I got my love for Cyma. I love Cyma,” he said. He also stayed somewhere in south triangle, Quezon City, where his mother grew up. He went around the Scout area taking photos to show his mom. Aside from Coron, he also backpacked around Legaspi (Albay, Donsol (Sorsogon), and Puerto Galera in 2005. Now, more than 8 years after his first taste of his Motherland, Jason is back to help promote local tourism in the first ever locally produced travel show to air on international cable channel AXN Asia. The show, called ‘TEN,’ premiered on September 5th, and airs every Thursday at 7:15PM (PH time). ‘The Dark Knight’ of Diving

Jason notes some changes he noticed in the country after his 8-year absence. “When we went back this year, obviously Coron was still beautiful, but it’s more developed, which is good for the local people,” he pointed out. “Obviously they’re earning more money. From a tourist’s point of view, you’re almost selfish because you want it to be this

Taken while shooting for “Mata-Mata,” a TV program he stars in. “Sigh. TEN made me do it.” (caption from his FB page)

little fishing village that only you knew about,” Jason adds. Jason and his crew explained that the show is called ‘TEN’ because they want to showcase reasons why the Philippines is a “perfect ten.” “When I first went to Coron, I went there to dive. I wasn’t prepared for how good it was going to be, and it actually destroyed diving for me. I didn’t really dive for the next five years because Coron was too good,” he explained. He even likened Coron to a Christopher Nolan epic. “It was like ‘The Dark Knight.’ I didn’t watch movies after ‘The Dark Knight.’ Coron is ‘The Dark Knight’ of diving,” he jokingly said, but we believe he’s dead serious. When asked about his most unforgettable experiencing filming for ‘TEN’, Jason had one quick answer right in the barrel. “The merman thing,” he beamed. “It wasn’t really crazy, but the pictures were crazy,” he added. Jason’s talking about his mermaid swimming lessons where you get to wear a mermaid’s tail. It’s becoming more and more popular in Boracay. Jason, in one of his episodes, said that he may be adventurous, but he tries to avoid death at all cost. “Whenever I engage in sports, I like to avoid death,” he joked. Although he does admit to doing as he was told. “When the warden tells me to touch my own crotch, I touch it,” he says deadpan when he be-

came a part of the Cebu Dancing Inmates for one of the episodes. Big Smile, No Teeth

Jack of all trades, master of none. Jason acts, models, writes, and hosts, but he confesses the downside of dabbling on a lot of different things. “That’s the problem when you’re so talented. The problem is I do all those things, but none of them well,” he laughed. Being a model for most of his professional career, Jason got his own chosen moniker from the modeling industry. “When I was modeling, ‘big smile, no teeth’ was something that people would always ask me to do,” he said. “When you model too long, your muscles get overdeveloped when you’re smiling all the time. I think, sometimes, when I smile too big, it looks grotesque,” he added. We disagree. His pearly whites are nothing short of a glorious toothpaste ad. When asked about his success and being really big in Hong Kong and Singapore (even having his own TV series ‘Mata-Mata’), Jason was very down-to-earth, but never missed the opportunity to make us crack up. “I don’t think it takes a lot of intelligence to be successful,” he mused. “But I also noticed people who are successful at stuff aren’t necessarily the smartest people. I don’t think it takes a lot of intelligence to be successful. I think sometimes you have to be stupid to realize you can ❱❱ PAGE 34 Jason Godfrey

“Hanging at Bukit Timah, who knew there was outdoor climbing in Singapore. There’s not even a mall in sight.” (caption from his FB page)

“Getting ready to carve up the slopes at Mt Buller like an overcooked duck.” (caption from his FB page)


Live or die BY MELISSA REMULLA-BRIONES Philippine Canadian Inquirer THE CHOICE seemed simple, and incontrovertible. But Larry Chase had to make it. Victim of mounds and pounds of bad food and pain (mostly internal), Larry Chase was the poster child for a shallow, guilt-ridden, want-driven world. Like many before him, he drowned his anguish in food. Lots of it. And grew to his then-450 pounds. He did not start out that way, but his love for his family slowly pushed him to oblivion that he no longer remembered who he was beneath all that fat. Until the skinny guy inside of him started screaming to get out. This guy asked him to remember—because moving forward required understanding why. So he did. He remembered that when he was younger he longed to be somewhere else but was trapped in Nova Scotia by marriage and family. He started a business, and then another, but each time, the failing economy would wipe him clean. Ten years and more saw him ingesting “floating talcum-fine fiberglass”-laden air until he saw his way out. Only it also came to be the way into the fat slob (his own words) that he had become. Innocently enough, it was a career in pictures that did him in; that is, he took photos of boats and enlarged them and sold them to the owners. But it was necessary that he camp out in seaside villages, wake up in the wee hours of the morning, and snap that must-have photo. He engulfed burgers and fries and fat and not-so-good things in between, thoroughly enjoyed it too, until there came the nights that he missed his family and despaired. He then ate some more. With swollen legs, laboured breathing, and a deep depression, he was de-

scribed by his doctor as a “ticking time bomb”. “You’ve heard the saying die a thousand deaths—I lived it many nights, hour after hour, for months and years on end,” he said. At times, he wanted it to be over and for the bomb to explode because “this world is full of judgmental people” and that hurt. Rock bottom hit when he wore jogging pants and tight-fitting green golf shirt to his son’s graduation (it was the only clothes that would fit him). He was the center of ridicule that day, a spectacle and an embarrassment to his son and his family. It was the one memory that stood poignant with all the other painful shame-ridden memories. That is until he was able to exorcise and forgive himself and others that one night when the skinny guy gave him a piece of his mind. So after some years of fighting the urge to “kill for a steak and baked potato stuffed with cheese, bacon, butter and sour cream,” Larry Chase was able to finally follow his dreams to Vancouver, shedding 250 pounds (and counting) along the way. His message: Walk a mile in my painful shoes. He explains, “No one is overweight by absolute choice, and not one largerthan-life person deserves to suffer at the hands, eyes and mouth of another. Looking back, Walk a mile in my painful shoes is the slogan I wish I’d imprinted on my tight-fitting green golf shirt. Instead, like so many weight-sufferers, I took on the shame others dealt out like a child’s card game. But I should never have owned that shame, for it truly belonged to the beholders of the judgment.” Larry has completed two ten-kilometer marathons, parasailed, ziplined, and swam in underground caves. He is one of the authors of Heartmind Wisdom Collection #1: An anthology of Inspiring Wisdom from those who have been there and is looking forward to writing his first book. ■


LARGEST HUMAN PEACE SIGN Concert L i v e E n t e r t a i n m e n t Noon – 5 pm G u i n n ess Wo r l d Re co rd Atte m pt - 2 p m

Family-friendly FREE Concert in support of:




Aqua Blue Water & Filtration

In support of the concert, Vancouver’s Mayor Gregor Robertson proclaimed September 21, 2013 ‘KINDNESS DAY.’

VOLUNTEER: w w w . h u m a n p e a c e s i g n . c o m 604-764-0140



Saying goodbye to Summer Autumn inspirations BY ANGIE DUARTE Philippine Canadian Inquirer AUTUMN. PERHAPS the most beautiful of seasons: Leaves turn all shades of gold, russet, red: a riot of hues so intense and disarming. The delicately crisp chill in the air—almost like biting into the freshest apple—the perfect match for natures’ prettiest of pictures. Leaf-sweepers might disagree; but poets, writers, artists and everyday-folk, alike, have for years sung the praises of Autumn. Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Ode To the West Wind” (1820), Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “The Autumn” (1833), Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s “Autumn Song” (1883); a few among many odes to Autumn. Autumn is as captivating to the eye as it is to the human spirit. It is as inspired, as it is inspiring. Something about the season lends itself to an introspection of an almost sublime nature; musings and meditations so deep. A time of soul-searching and taking pause, if you will. In fact, I would take this a step further and say that something about this season stirs up this introspection, as wind through leaves; swirling on the ground. Each leaf, at their life-span’s end, falling from their lifesource; symbolic of the cycles of human life: the loss of innocence that generally accompanies maturity; the unavoidable cycle of aging; the laying to rest

of dreams and ambitions, perchance. Yes, autumn is quite capable of inducing melancholia, if you let it. Yet in this melancholia lies a catharsis, waiting just beneath the surface. The Divine, in infinite wisdom, tempers the season’s melancholic, melodramatic associations with beauty. Almost as if to say: “Whatever you feel has been lost, or is over, these are all able to produce something beautiful in your life; if they haven’t already.” Life, after all, is a series of learning; growing; decaying; birthing…and it can be beautiful each step of the way. Bittersweet, perhaps, but still worthy and capable of beauty. Autumn is nature’s way of getting rid of the old, so new things can grow. In the cycle of perceived death, lies the promise of new life; for such is the way of the world: every beginning lies in something’s end. It is quite awesome to think that many green leaves—like those of the birch, for instance— first emerge in the most delicate shade of gold; almost as if in homage to the passing of the leaf before it. This so inspired Robert Frost (one of my personal favorite poets) to pen the line from his ode to the Fall of humanity (and an allusion to Fall, as well) “Nothing Gold Can Stay”: “Nature’s first green is gold, her hardest hue to hold.” The poem is packed with meaning, both symbolic and natural. It leaves the reader

with nostalgic longing for times gone by—all too quickly, it would seem, given the fleeting nature of life—and hopeful yearning for new things to come.

As autumn rolls in, let the season bring a rustling to your soul: we all need a little rustling, now and then. Enjoy life’s fleeting, yet ethe-

real beauty. Find comfort in its infinitely intricate patterns; which herald the seasons, change, and the promise of renewal in nature and in us. ■


Fall for Fall BY CHING DEE Philippine Canadian Inquirer IT’S THAT time of the year. Everything turns a wonderful shade of green then yellow and then orange and slowly fades into a darker shade of red and then brown. Nothing says Autumn or Fall like warm colors and comfort food that make you want to stay inside the house after an afternoon of playing on a pile of orange Maple leaves. Here are more reasons to fall in love with Fall. Crafty Fall

Make the most out of the beauty of Fall around you: fallen leaves! Give your family and friends a warm welcome every time they come over by putting an Autumn-inspired wreath on your front door. All you need is an old wire hanger and a bunch of fallen leaves. Using a wire clipper/ cutter, unravel the twisted wire

hanger and form it into a circle. This will be the foundation of your wreath. Next, gather a lot of fallen leaves—and I mean A LOT. This project would work best if you can find leaves of various shades of Autumn: yellow, orange, red, and brown. Thread each leaf into the wire by piercing each leaf in the center. Fill out the rest of the wreath by inserting twigs, dried berries, and blades of dried grass for added depth and attitude to the design. Make your artwork look fuller by bunching and scrunching the leaves to form a full, voluminous wreath. Another fun Autumn craft that you can do is making craft materials from leaves. If you have a craft puncher of different designs (actually, just one design would do), you’re good to go. All you have to do is pick out a bunch of fallen leaves and ‘punch out’ shapes using your craft puncher. Again, a variety of colors would yield better results. You can keep the ‘punched out’ shapes flat by lay-

Saying goodbye to Summer ing them in between sheets of tissue paper and keeping them in between thick books. These pieces of cut-out leaves will add autumnal whimsy to any scrapbook, letter, or note. Fall crafts aren’t limited to dried leaves. You can also make jewelry from corn! Yes, corn. Indian Corn kernels make excellent beads and jewelry pieces. All you need are some embroidery or nylon floss (thread), a needle, and some corn kernels. It goes without saying that the corn kernels you’re going to use should

be raw and not cooked. Thread the floss into the needle and start threading in your corn kernels. Interspersing various colors will make your necklace (or bracelet or anklet) look better and will definitely scream “Autumn.” “Autummy”

Another great reason to fall even more madly in love with Autumn is the great food. Comfort food never fails to ease not just the most trivial pangs but even the deepest of qualms. Usually when we talk about

Autumn, Pumpkin-based recipes are on the top of the list. But don’t let convention keep you from exploring the extensive flavors of Fall. Here are some recipes you can try out for yourself or with your loved ones. Nothing warms an Autumnal tummy like a hearty soup. And since pumpkins are abundant this time of the year, why not make a spice-filled pumpkin and apple soup? This recipe adapted from The Family Kitchen will definitely put the “pump” in “pumpkin. PUMPKIN AND APPLE SOUP

1 tbsp olive oil 1 small onion, diced 2 apples, peeled and sliced ½ tsp salt 6 cups vegetable stock ⅔ cups applesauce ½ tsp ground pepper ½ tsp dried/ground sage ½ tsp dried thyme ¼ tsp ground nutmeg 2 cans pumpkin puree ¼ cup brown sugar ½ cup heavy cream

❱❱ PAGE 31 Fall for

Saying goodbye to Summer


Fall fashion faves for 2013 BY ANGIE DUARTE Philippine Canadian Inquirer FALL IS just around the bend, and with it, fashion faves for everyone from the fearless fashionista and the stylish savant, to the more conservative classicist. Seen on this year’s runways, and quickly emerging as the season’s must-have’s: 1. Head-turning outerwear. Jackets, coats, parkas that make a statement and catch even the most jaded eye. Pieces that get a second (and third) look, such as bold (faux) furs and fur-trimmed outerwear; oversized jackets; accented lapels; edgy leathers. Play around with lengths, colour, textures of outerwear, but do keep the innerwear and all other accessories as simple as possible. Lest you look like an over-decked Christmas tree one season too soon. 2. Unleash the animal in you. Leopard prints are STILL hot this season. Depart from the traditional brown and black (although this combo will always be a classic staple), and have fun with offbeat colours such as pink or red on black. Rawwwwr. 3. Leave your hat on. Cute and quirky hats are all the rage for fall 2013. Beanies with pompoms on top; feathered or printed fedoras; beaded berets;

large floppy hats: just some of the super styles to chose from. 4. Count on the classics. Classic prints like houndstooth are a winner on any occasion, but are especially hot this fall. Houndstooth is easily paired with just about anything, given its basic black and white color scheme. Paisleys are perfect, too. 5. Head for the emerald city. Emerald has been chosen by those in the know as the top color of 2013. Grab yourself a couple of pieces in this color: a pair of wedges, or boots (for the more daring), a scarf, purse, or opaque stockings are awesome emerald accents. Go for an uber-chic look by pairing your emerald piece with other jewel tones such as garnet, ruby, amethyst and sapphire. 6. Ready, set, LAYER! Layering clothes is perhaps one of the best things about fall fashion. Mix different textures, putting lightweight, flowy pieces on top of heavier ones. Keep the look streamlined and cohesive, and don’t go overboard with patterns and prints. 7. Wear those winterwhites. Stand out in simple elegance with a white outfit, against the generally darker palette associated with the season. Although less obvious than most other colours, white comes in a variety of hues, as well. From pure whites, to

ecrus and gradations of creams and ivories, you can include pieces in several color variations of white into your fall wardrobe picks. 8. Love that leather! Black leather is always a must-have fashion piece, whether in gloves, higher-cut boots, or jackets. From leather peplum dresses and more classic-cut pieces, to bomber jackets and trenches; leather remains an enduring fall favorite. Leather detailing on dresses and coats provide an option for those wanting to lend just a hint of rebellion and edgy style to their wardrobe. Do remember to mix-and-match, instead of donning a head-to-toe biker babe leather look. 9. Parade in peplum. The peplum is another time-tested style, and has made an incredible fashion comeback. On skirts, shirts, blouses, waistcoats, dresses: the peplum is everywhere. Choose the style that best suits your body type. This should prove an easy task, as peplums flatter and give delicious curves to most figures. 10. Attention! The army wants YOU! Military-inspired fashion is a definite trend for the season, so give your best salute to utilitarian pieces in khaki or camo prints. Army sensibilities are softened with feminine detailing, such as lace and brocade; while styles BY MELISSA REMULLABRIONES Philippine Canadian Inquirer

Winter is coming

When I had my first taste of winter here in Canada, it took my breath away. Vancouver does not have the negative 40 degrees that they have in Toronto or Winnipeg, or snow that is waist deep. But because I spent my whole life in summer and winter has barely touched me, I shivered and shied away from the cold. It was only through layers upon layers of clothing, heavy and sometimes uncomfortable (put it on, take it off, repeat), that I found my refuge, thankful for warmth it (and the thermostat) evoked for me. Toasty, that was how I wanted it. White on white, winter is beautiful. Snow sparkles as snow only can, with an

BCBG shows us how to layer pieces, for that perfectly streamlined and pulledtogether fall look. Military utilitarian sensibilities take on a feminine touch with this ultra-hot look from Prabal Gurung: Furtrimmed peplum jacket over slim Jodphur-inspired pants.

take on a hybrid look (think Jodhpur-inspired slim pants, military-cut jackets that open

up to a peplum at the waist, or perhaps a large tote in military print. ■

worldly beauty that defies exact words. Tops of trees will grow heavy with it, and pepper the air with its flecks. Fresh snow, good snow, white and pure and fleeting will dot the landscapes of Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, Vancouver. In most places, it will turn to slush in the heat of a wave, or be dismissed by light rain, or turn into deadly stone when winter grows on winter. But the prelude—which is where we are right now—is as beautiful. Autumn takes with it the sun’s iridescence, which touches the tips of leaves turning it to rust and gold, and a bearable cold. The days have grown shorter; the sparkle of the days as we—who are now enjoying the last kiss of summer—know it, will be fewer and farther in between. The dreadful cold will touch everyone’s hearts again, and clouds would heap cares on every brow.

The clouds have hovered in Vancouver of late, and with it (as always), the rain. It is a warning, or a promise. Pumpkins in many farms, a vision of a field of golden orbs, ripe for the picking; fun autumn fashion; new TV shows, the better to keep us in our homes; fall cuisine. The holidays are coming. But not yet. The Grinders are still doing the Grind, the zipliners are still ziplining, late-summer-pre-fall-fall barbecues are held with abandon, and Mexico is still beckoning us to take that all-inclusive trip. A rage against the (literal) dying of the light. And why not have a last fling? Because soon enough, snow will be there to transform everything. We will cocoon within ourselves, drag our feet, slow down, rest, celebrate, remember. The turning of the season come to life—in full circle. As it should be. ■

Saying goodbye to Summer


Fall for... In a large pot, saute the onions and apples with some olive oil until the onions become translucent. Add the vegetable stock, applesauce and spices. Bring to a (rolling) boil for about 5 minutes. Then, add the canned pumpkin and brown sugar and cook under medium heat for another 10-15 minutes. Use a handblender (or an actual blender) to blend the soup until it’s smooth. Add the cream and stir and bring to a low simmer under very low heat. Upon serving, you can garnish the soup with some pumpkin seeds and apple slices to add some texture. Deborah Robertson from Red Online UK also posted a wonderfully hearty salad perfect for ❰❰ 29

chilly autumn nights. And yes, believe it, salads ain’t just for warm summer days. You should try this bacon, apple, and blackberry salad. BACON, APPLE, & BLACKBERRY SALAD

50 g blanched hazelnuts 1 tsp olive oil 8-10 strips bacon 1 apple 10 g butter 70 ml red wine vinegar 1 tsp honey 120 g blackberries 100 g baby spinach

Blanch the hazelnuts by baking them for about 7 minutes at 350’F. Once baked, chop the hazelnuts roughly. Then, in a pan,

fry the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Once fried, settle the bacon on some kitchen paper to drain excess fat. Core and slice the apple lengthwise. In the same pan that you used for the bacon, add butter and saute the sliced apple over mediumhigh heat for about 4 minutes or until they’re golden brown. Set aside on a warm plate. In the same pan, put the vinegar and honey and let it simmer for about 30 seconds, then add the blackberries and stir, then set aside. Pour some olive oil on the spinach and sprinkle the bacon, fried apple slices, and baked hazelnuts. For the dressing, pour the warm blackberry concoction. This salad is best served warm. ■





2013 TFCkat Canada’s Ana Jenessa Escabarte: “The heart and Champion of Filipino-Canadians” BY SOCORROBABES NEWLAND

THIS 25-YEAR old extremely shy and unassuming native of Bohol has surpassed everyone else’s expectations at the recently concluded Grand Finals of TFCkat Canada held at the Kingswood Theatre in Canada’s Wonderland, Vaughan, Ontario. Jhen, as she’s fondly called, unabashedly confessed that she did not know what to expect when she was prompted by her mentor/manager to submit her video entry to the contest. “Everything happened at the very last minute prior to actual deadline of contest video submissions,” Jhen exclaims. “She just knew from day one that I will be the next Champion of TFCkat Canada,” Jhen further enthuses. As a youngster growing up in a

small town in Bohol prior to migrating to Canada in 2011, Jhen stood up as mom-and-dad to her younger siblings of three— a brother and 2 sisters. Losing their father to fatal heart attack at very young age, Jhen’s mother, Naneth Escabarte, worked overseas as home care service provider to fend for her children back home. But while Jhen instinctively embraced the tall responsibilities of finishing school and looking after her younger siblings, she also learned that singing is one innate talent that redeems her spirits and arrests her sorrows when missing her mom and her deceased father come to the fore. She joined a lot of talent contests both in school and town community events where she always emerged as the winner. Until that one time when her voice “cracked” right in the middle of a high pitch of a song. Not only did she lose to another contestant, her self-confidence and magnanimity seemed to have

completely banished as well. She vowed never to join any other singing contests ever again. That was until she became an artist/talent of a Vancouver entertainment developing/ management company called Powerhouse Station Entertainment. Jhen also became one of the featured local performers of Vancouver’s 1st and Only Filipino-Canadian Television Variety Show called, “FYE Live/ Vancouver” that was shown on Shaw Multicultural Channel 116 under the now-defunct MaxiPro Entertainment. When asked what she felt after winning 2013 TFCkat Canada Grand Finals, “I never expected to be able to recover from that trauma of losing in that talent contest back home. I thank God and my mentor/manager for bringing back the confidence in me and my stage performance abilities. I’m still in Cloud Nine. It hasn’t sunk in yet,” she answered with a distinct winning smile on her face. ■

TFCkat Champion Jenessa Escabarte

Episodes of “Eat Bulaga” and “The Ryzza Mae Show” violated Ryzza Mae Dizon’s dignity—MTRCB BY KATHERINE MARFALTEVES Philippine Canadian Inquirer

When jokes go overboard.

THE MOVIE and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) has added GMA’s noontime shows “Eat Bulaga” and its pre-programming, “The Ryzza Mae Show” to the list of programs they will be closely monitoring. This after a July 29 episode

of “Eat Bulaga” saw main host Vic Sotto spit juice on the face of Ryzza Mae Dizon, the newest child discovery of the Kapuso network in the segment “Ang Joke Ko.” In an interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer, MTRCB Chairman Toto Villareal said, “We want to emphasize that children between one (1) and eight (8) years old are not yet capable of critical judgment. They are easily impressionable

and still incapable of processing a joke as such. We’re aware that it was just a joke, but kids watching the show don’t. They would think it’s OK to spit on another person’s face or to be spat on.” In its memo to Tape Inc., the producer of the two shows, the MTRCB described the scene as “disturbing because Dizon was palpably exploited as she was ❱❱ PAGE 35 Episodes of



The artist as bold actress Bangs Garcia needed convincing to take daring role in ‘Lauriana’ BY MARINEL R. CRUZ Philippine Daily Inquirer

Filipino-American actress Max Collins learned what it was really like to be a provinciana in her new indie movie, Maryo J. de los Reyes’ “Bamboo Flowers.”

‘Bamboo Flowers’ preem prelude to FDCP festival BY MARINEL R. CRUZ Philippine Daily Inquirer FILIPINO-AMERICAN ACTRESS Max Collins learned what it was really like to be a provinciana in her new indie movie, Maryo J. de los Reyes’ “Bamboo Flowers.” “It was a different kind of adventure,” Max said of staying in Bohol for a week while working on the movie where she plays Dolores, a barrio lass. “My character is a trainee receptionist in a resort. Orlando Sol plays my boyfriend. A foreigner falls in love with me and promises to give me a good life if I live with him abroad. I have to make a life-changing decision, which is where the conflict begins.” Learn and live

Through the film, Max said, she got to appreciate life in the province. “I didn’t just see what it was like; I got to live it. This is my most memorable experience from making the film.” “Bamboo Flowers,” shot mostly along the Loboc River in Bohol, is about the resilient bamboo plant. “Bamboo flowers are so beautiful; they look like parts of a chandelier. But they are a sign that the plant is dying,” De los Reyes told the INQUIRER in an earlier interview. He is among 12 veteran filmmakers who received grants

from the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) to join the annual Sineng Pambansa. The movie will have a special screening at Fully Booked in Bonifacio Global City. “I was very nervous working on the film because I didn’t want to let anyone down, especially not Direk Maryo,” Max admitted. “The pressure was great; my character is so different from my personality. Also, the movie is a tribute to the Boholanos and I wanted very much to play my part well. Max found acting on the big screen more interesting than television. She explained, “Acting in the movies, especially in indies, is more true to life. You show emotions through your eyes, as compared to TV acting, which is more exaggerated, dramatic and requires big movements.” A year has passed since Max transferred to GMA7 from rival network ABS-CBN. “It’s been great so far. I couldn’t ask for anything more. Since I signed up with the Kapuso channel, I’ve been working in one TV program after the other. I’ve also joined a lot of the regional shows that the network has mounted. Time flew so fast because I was really busy.” Max, or Isabelle Abiera Collins, first appeared on TV commercials at age 10. She was 13 when she joined ABS-CBN’s Star Magic Batch 15 and started

doing small roles in drama programs. When her Kapamilya contract expired in 2010, she took a break and tried her luck in the United States. She returned a year later and signed up with GMA 7. She played support to lead actress Kylie Padilla in the afternoon series “The Good Daughter” (2011) and then to Kris Bernal in “Coffee Prince” (2012).

ACTRESS BANGS Garcia turned down the role of Lauriana twice because it required “extremely daring” scenes. But she said the Mel Chionglo period movie could empower women, so she finally said yes. “Lauriana” is a three-part film based on a true story that took place in the 1950s. “It’s an advocacy film for women’s rights. My character is a battered wife married to a soldier, Samuel (Allen Dizon),” said Bangs. The 26-year-old actress added: “I met with the production team three times before I got on board. That was when I got to read the script and saw how beautiful the story was. I realized that the sex scenes were crucial. Also, I felt it was time for me to step up in terms of acting. What I did for this film was unbelievable. It helped that I had a series of workshops with Direk Mel and Allen before we started filming.” Bangs, who never worked

with Chionglo before “Lauriana,” said the latter was the “coolest director.” She explained, “He treated his actors like his barkada. ‘Di siya masungit (he’s not a grouch). We never felt pressured, even while doing heavy scenes. He was so nice to everyone but still commanded respect.” Before this one, Chionglo’s last project was the sexy film “Twilight Dancers” (2006). Bangs said her director was very focused and asked as much of her. “Direk told me that as soon as I arrived on the set, I should forget about being Bangs Garcia, and immediately become my character.” She learned to wring emotions out of personal experiences. “But sometimes I had to react to unfamiliar situations. That was when my creativity was put to the test,” she said. “I think it helped that I’m an artist. I paint; I’m very imaginative.” “Lauriana” is one of 12 entries to the 2013 Sineng Pambansa Film Festival: All Masters Edition. It will be shown in over 300 SM cinemas nationwide. ■

Biggest achievement

She considers her role in the primetime drama “Pahiram ng Sandali” ( 2013), also under De los Reyes, her biggest accomplishment since she became a Kapuso. “I never thought the bosses would give me the lead role of Cindy. It was very challenging. I’m just thankful that I got through it and even received good reviews.” The show also featured big Kapuso star Dingdong Dantes. Being around some of the best artists, Max said, was a big bonus. She said, earnestly, that she learned a lot working with veterans Celia Rodriguez and Leo Martinez in “Coffee Prince,” and with Lorna Tolentino and Christopher de Leon in “Pahiram ng Sandali.” “I’ve been trying to make a name for myself in this business for seven years now,” she pointed out. “This year has so far been the busiest. I’ve been working with many amazing people.” ■

BANGS Garcia and Allen Dizon play a couple in the Sineng Pambansa entry.



‘Tell the world to come and make movies here’ BY MARINEL R. CRUZ Philippine Daily Inquirer THE TWO-DAY International Film Exposition, which seeks to develop the Philippines into a film hub in Asia, attracted representatives of 10 Asean countries. “This is significant. The participation of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations sparks a significant dialogue,” Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP, host of the event) chair Briccio Santos said shortly after the ceremonial ribbon-cutting at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City on Friday. “It’s time we worked alongside our neighbors. We may have issues, but we have more commonalities,” Santos told Inquirer. The film market featured over 50 exhibitor booths showcasing film technology, production, distribution and other aspects of the business. In his welcome speech, Santos noted, “From film production equipment suppliers to stateof-the-art post-production services, production studios to distribution arms, film schools and film commissions— we’ve gathered top-notch participants from around the globe.” There was a dedicated Asean corner,

where booths managed by participants from the Philippines, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam showcased their countries’ contributions to film development. Prominent local contributors included Star Cinema, GMA Network/Films, Post Manila, SM Cinemas, Array’s, Mavshack, Quantum Films and Mothership. Among the foreign exhibitors were Taipei Film Commission, Film France, Screen Authority Sapporo (Japan), South Korea’s Munhawa Broadcasting Company, and Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum. During the symposium “Coproduction: Collaboration, Commerce and Creativity,” Ronald Monteverde, CEO of Revolucion Media Group and chair of Revolver Studios, discussed how Filipinos could collaborate with Asian and Western neighbors. Monteverde’s production outfit, Reality Entertainment, and Star Cinema coproduced the crime-thriller film “On the Job,” which premiered in the Directors’ Fortnight section of the 66th Cannes International Film Festival in May. “Local filmmakers should work on coproduction,” said Monteverde. “We have a lot of very good locations for

A PHILIPPINE booth at the International Film Expo. PHOTO BY RODEL ROTONI / INQUIRER.NET

filming. We can help minimize [foreign partners’] production cost without sacrificing quality.” He advised film lovers to “tell the world to come to the Philippines … and do more projects with us.” Film producer Josabeth Alonso,

whose films “Kubrador” and “Ang Babae sa Septic Tank” were screened abroad, pointed out, “Filmmakers should know which films are marketable.” An estimated 700 participants attended the first day of the expo. ■

Jason Godfrey... fail,” he explained. “I think sometimes being too smart can—maybe I’m making myself an excuse for not being too smart—it can hold you back, you know? If you think too much, you would never try anything once. Nobody would really go for their dreams,” Jason continued. And right then and there, he has proven himself to be both stupid and smart. ❰❰ 26

“Cheap Bastard Traveler”

Jason considers his modeling career as the spark that ignited his love affair with traveling. As a model, he got to travel from one country to another just for photo shoots. These experiences filled him with a longing to explore deeper and experience more things. And while the modeling world might seem all glamorous and chic, Jason admits that he’s nothing like that. “I’m a cheap bastard traveler,” he says. “I’m the cheapest traveler known to man. I’ve slept on pavement, although, to tell you the truth, that was when I was so much younger. I don’t know if I could do that now. But I’m still pretty cheap. I think that when you’re traveling, it’s great to go cheap, not just because of money, but I think that’s when you get really interesting experiences,” he added. He rationalizes that staying at fivestar accommodations give you almost

the exact same amenities and conveniences anywhere you go. “So you get a generic experience,” Jason said. He’s a firm believer in unforgettable experiences, no matter the cost. For ‘TEN,’ just some of the places he explored are Pampanga, Panay, Coron, and Boracay. “I like traveling third-class on a train with a chicken sitting underneath my seat, and all cramped up and sweating like a maniac. I don’t like it, but it’s more fun, it’s more interesting. “You’ll remember reading a book under mosquito netting, and you look up and there’s a cockroach on your book. It’s bad, but you’ll remember that, right?” he said. We hope it’s a rhetorical question. “It’s something that you’ll laugh about, when you stay in a hut where everything crawls through it at night, and you wake up and there’s rats eating your food out of your bag. Yeah, it’s a crappy experience, but it’s an experience,” he continued. And quite poetically, he adds, “things only get really good when you open yourself up to the possibility of things going bad.” ■ With reports from Tatin Yang (PDI), Cate de Leon (PhilStar), and Annie Alejo (Manila Bulletin)



It’s more complicated for Wally Bayola BY KATHERINE MARFALTEVES Philippine Canadian Inquirer


IT’S MORE complicated. This may just not be Wally Bayola’s relationship status on Facebook, it may also describe the situation he is in now. Being involved in a sex video watched by millions of people is already a complicated thing. But unlike real-life couple Chito Miranda and Neri Naig, who

have been also involved in a sex video, Wally’s partner in the sex video is neither his wife nor his girlfriend as he is in fact married to a certain Riza Ruen Bayola and they have five kids. Case against Bayola

The sex video of Bayola and Yosh can be a potential evidence of concubinage. According to the Family Code of the Philippines, if proven guilty, the person accused of concubinage will be sentenced to jail for 4 years.

Legal experts admit that this kind of case is “hard to prove in court,” but said that the video is “a strong piece of evidence.” It will be recalled that Bayola’s fellow comedian Jose Manalo was also charged by his wife with the same case but had no evidence to prove it. In the event that Riza, Bayola’s wife, decides to file a case against him, she can also charge her 41-year-old husband with the more widely used “Violence against women and children.” ■

Episodes of... ridiculed, humiliated and degraded by the act of the host. The scene not only palpably compromise the dignity of a child as a human being, it also does not promote any positive value or behavior among viewers, adults or children alike. Moreover, such scene may be deemed prejudicial to her development.” Villareal also mentioned the August 14 edition of the “The Ryzza Mae Show”. The child-host asked the contest winner, Gelsa if she already has a boyfriend. And the latter’s response was: “Meron. Bakit aagawin mo? Ang bata bata mo pa ah. Ganon? Landing bata ka ah!” (I have a boyfriend. Are you going to steal him? You’re still so young. You’re such a flirty kid!) Ryzza, in retort, said: “Bakit, kapag ba tinatanong aagawin na agad?” (If I ask does it already mean I am going to steal him?). The child actress also seemed to be shocked and hurt, said that she’s just a child, and ❰❰ 32

pleaded for Gelsa not to be too harsh on her. Villareal emphasized that children “should not be treated like toys or pets. We’re a bit lucky because Ryzza Mae has a high intelligence quotient, and that she was able to express how she felt with the shabby treatment. Other kids are not as expressive.” The MTRCB memo added, “the child actor was exposed to malicious and rude statements. [This] imparts the idea that it is natural to utter slanderous and abusive statements against a person.” Ryzza’s interview with the contest winner had already reached half a million views as of September 4. Netizens also commented on the video saying that the child should not have been treated like that, adding that the contest winner did that to steal the spotlight from the brilliant kid. ABS-CBN’s “Goin’ Bulilit” was also previously summoned by MTRCB for the same grounds. ■

RYZZA teases mom about crying, but ends up crying with her during her birthday celebration. PHOTO FROM INQUIRER.NET


Derek Ramsay’s ex-girlfriend expressed her sentiments BY KATHERINE MARFALTEVES Philippine Canadian Inquirer MANILA, PHILIPPINES— JUST recently, Derek Ramsay admitted that he is indeed in a relationship with actress Cristine Reyes. But before he and Reyes became an item, the hunk-actor was in a relationship with a fellow Frisbee player, Alexa who he brought in many of his showbiz events, one of which was during the launch of his show “Kidlat” on TV5. Rumors also have it that Derek has a house being built in Santa Rosa, Laguna which

was allegedly for him and Alexa when they settle down—but right after Derek’s admission of his relationship with Cristine, all these speculations ended. Sentiments of an ex-girlfriend As soon as the Derek-Cristine news came out, the media also tried to interview Alexa, but the Frisbee player opted not to face the cameras. Instead, she poured out her sentiments through social media. Here are her posts: “I’m not interested in taking public potshots, it’s not my concern anymore. What happened to him after the separation—it’s his life now.

“I’ve made a conscious effort not to add to the toxicity of this situation. I don’t want to be a part of it. I don’t have a halo that I’m polishing here, everyone has their personal thoughts. But I would much rather everyone move on. “I am not defined by this relationship. It’s maddening to me. If people are frustrated that I don’t want to do that, I’m sorry… There’s a lot I don’t understand, a lot I don’t know, and probably never will know, really. So I choose to take away with me as much integrity and dignity and respect for what that relationship was as I can…” Derek chose not to comment on Alexa’s statements. ■



A fall harvest of new broadcast TV shows, but how many will viewers want to spend time with? BY FRAZIER MOORE The Associated Press NEW YORK—THERE’S something antiquated about the custom long known as the Fall TV Season. It was born of a bygone era (and still harkens back to it) when fall signalled all things important in America: the much-anticipated return to school, the resumption of football and the grand unveiling of next year’s car models. It was an era of the Big Three. And not just General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, but also ABC, CBS and NBC, which each autumn launched their new shows with the stated intention of airing these dramas and comedies through much of the season to come. This was an orderly, narrowly consigned TV world. So the Fall Season represented for viewers most of what they could expect to see in prime time for months ahead, at least until the “summer replacement” shows arrived the following June. “Midseason” (a term even Fox boss Kevin Reilly said recently he’d love to ban) wasn’t part of the lingo back then. Nor, of course, were terms like “cable networks,” HBO, Hulu or Netflix. A half-century later, the Fall Season persists—a festival of premieres by not three, but the five self-designated broadcast “majors” (which somehow includes the little-watched CW), with, some years, no discernible dividing line between the fall crop and the winter harvest. And no acknowledgment that outside this magic garden, bumper crops of other network shows are always blooming, stealing viewers (and a large share of Emmy love). With all those caveats in mind, then, make way for the Fall Season. Don’t I know you?

Many of more than two dozen new series may already be familiar, at least by name, to viewers, since the networks have been flogging them all summer. They are familiar to TV critics, too, who got early copies of

many of the new shows as long ago as June (with the proviso from the networks that some of these episodes were “nonreviewable,” since they were subject to be altered in small or large ways before their premiere date—or even re-shot completely). At some point before each show’s premiere date, a version designated “reviewable” will be furnished to critics. This doesn’t necessarily help. For a critic to make a sweeping assessment of any TV series’ potential on the basis of a lone episode, or even two or three, is as reasonable as writing a tell-all biography of someone after meeting at a speed-dating event. So there’s a possibility that CBS’ “The Crazy Ones” will ultimately reveal itself to be hilarious, and not one of the lamest new comedies on the schedule (as an initial viewing might suggest). A comedy set at an advertising agency, it brings back Robin Williams to TV sitcoms after “Mork & Mindy” 40 years ago (which TV’s mostsought-after viewers, as well as many present-day network execs, aren’t old enough to remember). “The Crazy Ones” isn’t really a comedy. It’s a mystery: Who thought it, and bringing back Williams as its star, was a good idea? NBC (whose motto could be borrowed from a cable network hit, “The Walking Dead”) has brought back another sitcom veteran with what seems like happier results: Michael J. Fox in a self-named comedy. Addressing the real-life health problems (and triumphs) of this breakout star of “Family Ties” in the 1980s, “The Michael J. Fox Show” strikes a fresh, funny tone amid the flood of new comedies. NBC has further relied on its once-stellar past by reviving the successful cop show “Ironside,” this time with Blair Underwood, not Raymond Burr, as the intrepid detective in the wheelchair. Fantastic?

Fantasy is fueling many new shows. NBC’s “Dracula” stars Jona-

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., very cool and comic-driven. PHOTO FROM AGENTSOFSHIELD.COM

than Rhys Meyers in a reimagining of the vampire as a protoenvironmentalist. In his guise as a 19th-Century American industrialist, Dracula wants to develop cheap, alternative energy in defiance of his enemy, Big Oil. There’s also Fox’s set-inmodern-day “Sleepy Hollow” (complete with a headless horseman), ABC’s very cool, comic-driven “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” and ABC’s storybook spinoff, “Once Upon a Time in Wonderland,” which explores the psyche of tumbled-down-the-rabbit-hole Alice, complete with CGI rabbit voiced by John Lithgow. CW’s “The Originals” is a spinoff of “The Vampire Diaries,” while the same network’s “The Tomorrow People” is a sci-fi series about a genetically advanced race that also happens to be young and sexy, and the paramilitary group of scientists who see this band as a threat to the status quo. And Fox’s “Almost Human” is a police drama set 35 years in the future, when human officers work alongside humanlike androids. From HBO’s “Game of Thrones” to PBS’ “Downton Abbey,” historical costume drama is big on TV. Youth-skewing CW is jumping on that trend with “Reign,” which focuses on Mary Stuart, who, better known as Mary, Queen of Scots, had been queen of Scotland since she was six days old, but, as the series begins, is a verrrry attractive teen (with babalicious ladies-in-waiting).

Getting real

Another costume drama, of a sort: ABC’s very funny comedy “The Goldbergs,” which revisits the childhood of creator Adam Goldberg in the distant, “simpler” time of the 1980s. Rare on the lineup is a straight-ahead, humanist comedy-drama. This fall there’s only one: ABC’s “Lucky 7,” a potentially charming and engaging series about a group of New Yorkers who share a winning lottery ticket, and the effects of that windfall on their lives. ABC’s promisingly titled “Betrayal” is a soap that involves a murder, a marital affair, and a powerful family at war with itself. CBS’ “Hostages” puts Toni Collette in the middle of a political conspiracy: She plays a surgeon ordered to assassinate her patient, the ailing President of the United States, to save her family held captive. Possibly the season’s most surefire hit is NBC’s “The Blacklist,” which stars James Spader as one of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives who surrenders to the FBI with a mysterious offer: to help them catch the terrorists he used to enable. They can go home again

Moving back home is an alltoo-common trope in several new comedies. ABC’s “Back in the Game” finds sexy Maggie Lawson as a former all-star softball player who, post-marriage, returns with her son to move in with her irascible father, himself

a washed-up baseball player (played by James Caan). “Family Guy” mastermind Seth MacFarlane’s live-action Fox comedy “Dads” focuses on two best friends and business partners whose fathers move back in. Its raunchy humour has already ruffled critics’ feathers (and elicited a promise from the show’s creators to give it the necessary tweaks), but its problems are more fundamental: It isn’t funny. On CBS’ grim-in-spite-of-itself “Mom,” newly sober single mom Christy is suddenly inflicted with the return of her formerly estranged mom (Allison Janney), who, to say the least, didn’t serve as much of a parental example: “While other mothers were cooking dinner,” Christy reminds her, “you were cooking meth.” On NBC’s “Sean Saves the World,” Sean Hayes plays a divorced dad with an overbearing mom (played by Linda Lavin) and a weekends-only 14-yearold daughter who moves in with him full-time, complicating his life. On CBS’ “The Millers,” Will Arnett stars as a recently divorced local TV news reporter whose outspoken mother moves in with him while his dad moves in with his sister. But broken marriages are always ripe for laughs. On CBS’ promising “We Are Men,” three divorced men bond and offer dating advice to a young pal who was left at the altar by his ❱❱ PAGE 44 A fall harvest




Wedding photographer shatters industry stereotype BY ANDRE ENDIQUE Special to Philippine Canadian Inquirer PARIS TO Manila, New Orleans to Australia, and Malaysia to Rome, this world-renowned wedding photographer has become an icon revolutionizing the industry, but it was the career that found its way to the talented Mr. Jason Magbanua. After graduating, Magbanua said he had no specific career field in mind, but he did have a succinct idea of what he did not want. “I didn’t want to go the corporate route,” he stated. He illustrated the limited options available to communications graduates in the mid-90’s and said that when he was offered an opportunity to teach in the small city of Lucena, he aptly volunteered. On this Jason says admittedly, “[It] was not exactly the most attractive package for an Ateneo graduate at the time.” His fellow Atenista graduates were not so enthusiastic towards the career choice and Magbanua quoted them saying, “What are you wasting your time there for? You could be making big money right away somewhere else.” Despite this, he expressed that he had found contentment in Lucena. “I stayed for five years. Best years of my life.” During his years teaching, students aware of Jason’s video production program began asking him to shoot videos for family weddings. The wedding gigs created a source of income that very quickly outweighed what he was making as a teacher and in the year 2000, his clientele list grew exponentially. Magbanua made the transition into wedding photography then. “I went back to Manila, put up my studio and never looked back. It’s been 13 years.” A style all his own

“When I was starting out,

everything was conventional, everything was traditional. I asked a lot of questions then. It stems from the questions of ‘why can’t a wedding video be more emotional? Why can’t it be more cinematic, more arresting, faster-paced, more like a music video or a movie?’ From the very start, those were the things that pushed me to experiment and try out new stuff… And as far as camera work goes, why can’t it be more dynamic?’ A lot of footage was taken static, but I said, ‘why not take it off the tripod, have a more documentary feel to it.” Always Ready

“I’ll be honest with you there is very little planning involved… I draw upon vast experience and if a curve ball is thrown at me, I can adapt easily. With the style that we shoot, I don’t do a lot of directing… I love to take candids. It’s a different discipline cause it’s a one-take environment. Part of the skillset is ‘you gotta be where you gotta be at any given moment.’ You have to learn how to anticipate.”

Jason’s Vancouver team. From left to right, Amish, Ryan Dagooc, Karel Galing, Randall Dagooc, Jamie, CC, Ashley the event DJ, Jason Magbanua and Jomari Dumalasa

banua cheerily explained, “In the Philippines, there are only a handful of places to get married… imagine the amount of people getting married!” He continued, outlining that because there are dates that couples specifically vie for and so few venues available locally, accommodation is not always easy. Passing the baton

The Maggie scandal


(Ed: VJ and former Bb. Pilipinas Maggie Wilson and real estate scion Victor Consunji had a racy prenup video shot by Jason Magbanua. It shows the couple in various states of undress—in bed, in the pool, in the car, kissing, touching, taking more clothes off. Many have opined that it was hot, sexy, wild, tacky, inappropriate and pornographic.) Magbanua recalled, “We met together with Maggie, Victor and Maggie’s parents. I asked what they wanted to do and she suggested the idea. We approached it as mature adults. “They [the public] made a mountain out of a mole hill, but we just laughed it off. To this day, we just laugh it off.” Fully booked

“That is just a rumor!” Mag-

“I can’t see myself doing anything else in the foreseeable future… [as] an exit plan, I’ve started to build teams… Even now, long after I’ve quit teaching in Lucena, the ‘new blood’ coming into the company are students of my students.” Jason speaks proudly of a team he built called For You Are Mine. “These are people I’ve trained and with [whom] I share my vision with.” Moving forward

“I never considered wedding [videography] to be a stepping stone. There’s an imaginary ladder… You’re looked up to if you do movies, films, commercials, etc. but at the bottom row is wedding videos… What I really sought out to do is create an artistry, a discipline... If I had a chance to do anything else, I wouldn’t see it as leveling up. It would be something I’m doing on the side.”

Jason Magbanua and the author


“It’s been great. Joms (Jomari Dumalasa) has been great! He’s been the quintessential Filipino host, driving us around, showing us places, the Mango Red team and myself… You visit a place like this and you see a stark contrast… you appreciate the beauty, the cleanliness, and the ways of the people here and yet you also appreciate the way it is back home. That’s what travelling does to you.” At the day’s end, a father

“I have three kids, Jacob, Lucas and Louise. They’re a mixed bunch. They’re crazy. It’s fun to be a dad. It’s a great time. I talk to my eldest son about graphic novels, films and stuff like

grown men do. They’re growing up too fast. Leaving them for extended periods of time, I get guilty. That’s why trips like this are set out far in advance so I can be with the family.” Jason explained that he left the remainder of the year open to be able to stay home and be with his family. ■ Jason Magbanua is currently accepting bookings for 2014 onward. To see his artwork or for more information on Jason Magbanua, visit his website and his team’s website For more information on his photography partners, Mango Red, visit their website


Familial Flamenco... unique,” Anja shared. Before learning the art of dancing Flamenco, Gino recalled competing as a martial artist, which he also considers as an art form. “I found that the drive, passion, and motivation I used to feel when I was still competing translated very naturally to Flamenco and performing on stage,” Gino said. Now, tons of years and experiences later, the siblings have formed a tighter bond than before. And while some families might find it a bit odd to perform alongside another family member, the Echavez siblings have learned to love and make the most out of their situation. “There are four of us Echavezes doing Flamenco and we make a quaint little company just by ourselves,” Lee said. “There are no disadvantages whatsoever as long as you’re all equally proud of your work as a family; the advantages are immense, from as tiny a concern as remembering choreography better to big concerns like overall morale and improving as individual dancers by working together,” he added. “Each one of us have different strengths and personalities as dancers too. It is such an advantage to learn from each other if you want to improve on a specific technique. It’s so easy to point out what the other can improve on too because we’re so comfortable with each other,” Anja seconded her brother. “[Performing with them is] not weird. It’s actually weirder not having them around. It’s really nice to have built-in collaborators in your house when you’re working on dances!” Gino said with a laugh. ❰❰ 23

Behind every movement

Such a passionate and expressive art form like Flamenco is best performed with a deepseated ardor for your chosen style, as well as a vast source of inspiration and motivation. For the Echavez siblings, this wasn’t a problem. “Our inspiration comes from sheer passion for the art. We just found something we really like and we strive to be better and better at it,” Lee shared. For Gino and Anja, other dancers provide them with inspiration and motivation to keep on pursuing excellence. “Our idols inspire us too. We

watch youtube videos and get pointers on how to move better and dance stronger,” Anja explained. “Everyone has their own story and everyone has their own style. It’s inspiring to see the creativity and courage that goes into a dancer’s performance,” Gino added. Gino also added that performing isn’t just about being a part of a grand production nor does it need a stage. “[Performing] is essentially just a person with the intent of showing something to a perceived audience. Performing, sharing the things I love to do with others, is just something I’ve always found joy in,” Gino explained. For Anja, Flamenco isn’t just another kind of performance art, it is “home.” “ I feel ‘at home’ when I dance flamenco. It elicits intense passion through dance and allows the audience to feel the same emotions as what the dancer is experiencing. It’s a very beautiful art form,” said Anja. “...Once I step on stage and start dancing, nervousness goes away and I just feel completely in my element,” she added. “The feeling of knowing you’ve delivered the emotion you intended to through your dancing is what makes it exciting and what we like best about Flamenco,” Lee chimed. “For me dancing is an intensely personal, vulnerable moment,” says Gino. “It’s a very double-edged thing: on one end, you’re doing something that people admire you for, but on the other hand you’re also showing people your innermost expressions and asking them, “what do you think, is this good enough?” It’s thrilling but is also somewhat scary. That’s what keeps me dancing,” he shared. Just like most successes in life, being a great performer comes with its share of trials and victories. “We have put a lot of time and effort into Flamenco even before we came to Canada and we came to Canada already possessing the bare minimum of the required skills to perform in the professional level,” Lee said. For Gino, the struggle isn’t just for the artist but for the art itself. “I think the major struggle not just for us but for most Flamenco artists is that the art suffers a de-


gree of anonymity when it comes to mainstream culture, except maybe in Spain,” Gino explained. Preparing for greatness

The Echavez siblings has performed in critically acclaimed stage productions that earned raves from the audience. With such an intimate performance style and the nerves of performing in front of a great crowd, how do they prepare before stepping on that stage? According to Lee, preparation makes up the most of the performance. “Preparation is 90% of the whole performance. It comes from at least a year of practicing the choreography and even more years before that of perfecting the required techniques to properly execute the choreography,” Lee explained. Recently, the siblings finished performing in “Peter Pan” and “Sleeping Beauty.”

tator though would be the Indian Princesses. It was just a very moving demonstration of élan,” he continued. “[For ‘Sleeping Beauty’], we practiced about 3-4 days a week after work to polish our group dances as well as our individual dances. Practices before our show were intense but they’re so much fun!” Anja beamed with nostalgia after having performed ‘Sleeping Beauty’ in June. “For Sleeping Beauty, I got to play Maleficent (the evil witch), Gino as Prince Phillip, Mia as the Fairy Merryweather and Lee as King Hubert,” she added. “Performing [in Vancouver] was different because we had to do a lot of acting and character development. The experience is a bit different that way because not only do you have to focus on performing flamenco, you have to make sure you accurately portray your character in the story,” Anja explained

The Echavez siblings with their friends and family

“I played Tiger Lily for the ‘Peter Pan’ show,” says Anja. “One of my favorite scenes was when Tiger Lily danced with two other Indian princesses. I distinctly remember feeling like I was dreaming while dancing yet so aware of what I was doing on stage,” she beamed. “The mermaid scene was also beautiful. It was a classical flamenco dance and the lighting and smoke effect added dramatic effect to the graceful dance,” she added. “Personally, I felt a lot of pressure having to play the titular role (‘Peter Pan’) and I just kept telling myself to seize the opportunity and do my best not only during the performance but also during rehearsals,” Gino recalled. “My favorite piece was when Peter dances with his shadow. It was technically demanding to dance and was a lot of fun to do. My favorite scene as a

when asked about some differences in their performances. And although the siblings were already decorated with accolades for their stunning performances, they still dream of bigger things. “We all dream of sharing the stage with any of our Flamenco idols Farruquito, El Farru, and Sara Baras,” Lee said. Filipinos for Flamenco?

In an effort to get more Filipinos acquainted with Flamenco, the siblings regularly participate in Flamenco performances when they occasionally go home to the Philippines. “I hope more Filipinos get into Flamenco. Flamenco as an art form is deeply rooted in the sentiments of an oppressed people... It is a sentiment Filipinos are familiar with, which we think is the reason why us Filipinos excel in Flamenco,” Lee mused, to which Anja agreed.

They both believe that Filipinos excel in the arts, especially when it comes to conveying one’s emotions through any art form. “I’d like to see more people supporting the performing arts,” Gino said. “I want people to be more interested in Flamenco, too. I hold the same hopes for Filipinos and the Philippines,” he added. “Whenever we go home to the Philippines, we make sure to perform with the company we were part of, the Grupo Centro Flamenco of Centro Flamenco Philippines. They have yearly shows staged around the end of November and have regular shows every two weeks at Barcino in Makati City,” Lee said. “We’re really lucky to have a great flamenco family back in Manila,” Anja beamed. “That’s where we started and developed to be the dancers that we are today. We’re just always happy to plug ourselves in and perform with them in any of the shows they are working on,” she added. “They come up with very powerful themes. It would be fun to perform with our Manila flamenco family again,” Gino hoped. The Echavez siblings have a few words of wisdom for aspiring performance artists. “Take time to find and research schools or institutions that will help you hone your skills. Don’t be afraid to meet new people who share the same passion as you do because that’s how you will develop yourself further. Lastly, always enjoy every step of the way because there could be times that you will feel discouraged and those experiences will help you remember why you love what you’re doing,” said Anja. “It’s never too late to start. If you decide you like something, go after it! Don’t think twice. Never stop learning and never be too proud to admit that you’re lacking in something when you are… Always have a clear direction and never stop moving. Last of all, have fun! It’s not supposed to feel like a chore when you love doing something,” Gino explained. “Love your art and live your art. Love it enough to dream of it at night and live it until the passion for your art echoes in how you live your everyday life,” Lee said. ■ Gino Echavez is also part of the roster of Juan TV’s talents and is currently doing the news for the Saturday edition of Juan Radio.



Nailphiles–the new breed of fashionistas Today, women buy more nail polish than lipstick. More and more are using their manicures to make a style statement BY PAM PASTOR Philippine Daily Inquirer IT’S NO secret—I feel naked without nail polish. I can go to a party with a makeup-free face but my nails must always be painted—even for a trip to the supermarket. I can go for months without buying clothes, but my nail polish collection? It’s always up-to-date. A good manicure is a great way to complete an outfit or, in my case, update an old one. I am not alone in my love of polish. Today, women buy more nail polish than lipstick, realizing that those fabulous little bottles are a great (and relatively affordable) way to keep up with trends.

AGOO likes dressing up her manicure with fab rings.

DEBORAH Lippmann Ruby Red Slippers

Agoo Bengzon

Beauty director-at-large for Summit Media, Beauty editor-atlarge for Preview, Avon Skin Care expert Agoo, who lives and breathes beauty, gives us hand-envy (we’d kill for her nail beds). She has immaculate hands and feet which are always perfectly polished. Agoo chronicles her manicures and pedicures in her Instagram account @ mizmanos. Why she loves nail polish: “I love how nail polish instantly dresses you up. I also like how easy it is to change the look, depending on your mood.” Her collection: “Right now, I think I have about 150 bottles.” Favorite brands: “Chanel, OPI, Essie, Illamasqua, Zoya, Dior, Deborah Lippmann, Ciate, Bobbi Brown, Estée Lauder. So many more! Haha!” Top five shades: Chanel Dragon, Chanel Black Satin, Zoya Pixie Dust in Chyna, Ruby Wing in Crowd Surf, OPI You Don’t Know Jacques and Essie Lollipop Favorite nail polish trends: “Matte, matte with a shiny tip, the Louboutin manicure, pixie dust, neon, color-changing polish, ultra nude nails.” Nail length and shape of choice: “Short and squoval.” Craziest nail look she’s worn: “Platinum stick-on nails and stickers with a Pierre Hardy-looking print.” One nail polish look she’d never go for: “Anything where you would have to attach gems.” Favorite nail salon: “Nail Spa.” Changes her nail color… “Once, sometimes twice a week.” Does she ever go polish-free? “Yes, but only for two to three days.” Favorite nail polish remover: “Sally Hansen (the green one).” Does she match her mani and pedi colors? “I used to but in the past two years, I actually make it a point not to make them match.”

Rina Alcantara AGOO Bengzon

Gel nails—yes or no? “Only for when I travel.” Mani pet peeves: “I cannot stand chips or polish stains left on skin.” Her nail polish/nail-care secrets and tips: Always let your base coat dry completely so that your polish will adhere better. Also, you MUST get a bottle of Seche Vite’s top coat. It’s the best! If she could wear only one color for the rest of her life, she’d wear… “Chanel Dragon.” Rina Alcantara

Entrepreneur, blogger (rina-alcantara. com) Rina doesn’t just paint her nails, she uses them as canvas to create tiny works of art. Cupcakes, cartoon characters, flowers and patterns—no design is too daunting for this incredible nail artist. Why she loves nail polish: “I love that it is uniquely made for women.” Her collection: “Over 800 bottles.” Favorite brands: “Dazzle Dry, Deborah Lippmann, Nars, OPI, A-England and Revlon.” Top five shades: “Oh, wow. This is difficult. Hmm, I’d say… Deborah Lippmann Ruby Red Slippers, Gosh Holographic, Dazzle Dry Rapid Red, A-England Bridal Veil and OPI Germanicure.” Nail length and shape of choice: “I maintain short and squoval nails.” Craziest nail look she’s worn: “I

ly placed googly eyes on all my nails once when I joined a nail art contest.” One nail polish look she’d never go for: “I was never fond of crackled nail polish.” Favorite nail salon:”I do my own manicure. But get my pedicure at Nails and Teas.” Changes her nail color…”At least twice a week.” Does she ever go polish-free? “Yes.” Favorite nail polish remover: “Dazzle Dry Lemongrass Nail Polish Remover.” Does she match her mani and pedi colors? “Most of the time, no. But for formal occasions, yes.” Gel nails—yes or no? “Definitely no.” Mani pet peeves: “I’m very particular with how the nail polish is applied on my nails. Tidiness or neatness is the utmost importance for me. I also dislike chipping. So any sign of that and I immediately remove or change my manicure.” Her nail polish/nail-care secrets and tips: “Moisturize! Moisturize! Moisturize! A cuticle cream/oil is your best friend before going to sleep.” If she could wear only one color for the rest of her life, she’d wear… “Vampy red, of course!” ■



Mac’s promises $54 Gov’t moves to keep bond market open Contingency measures readied due to ‘antimonopoly’ suit million investment if Ontario allows booze sales BY MICHELLE V. REMO AND DORIS C. DUMLAO Philippine Daily Inquirer

BY ALEXANDRA POSADZKI The Canadian Press TORONTO—Mac’s Convenience Stores Inc. is promising to invest $54 million dollars to build 27 new convenience stores in Ontario if convenience stores are granted the right to sell alcohol in the province. “(The new stores) will provide some much needed competition to the government monopoly and private sector cartel that currently control alcohol sales in this province,” Tom Moher, vice-president of operations of the central Canada division of Mac’s, said on Monday. The chain—owned by Alimentation Couche-Tard (TSX:ATD.B)—made a pitch for selling booze in a speech to the Toronto Region Board of Trade on Monday. Moher estimated the expansion would create up to 170 fulltime jobs and each store would cost about $2 million to build. That’s on top of the 1,600 fulltime jobs that Mac’s previously promised to create at its existing stores if it’s allowed to sell booze. Moher also hinted that allowing convenience stores to sell booze could knock down the price of alcohol. “Any time you increase the opportunity for competition, you’re always going to end up with an opportunity to have some reduced pricing,” Moher told reporters following his speech. But a spokesman for the Beer Store, a privately-owned retailer that accounts for up to 90 per cent of beer sales in Ontario, said there could also be job losses and price hikes. “In that type of an environment ... it’s pretty tough to envision a situation where the Beer Store continues to exist,” said spokesman Jeff Newton, who is also the president of Canada’s National Brewers. “There’s potential for significant job loss, and the jobs at the Beer Store are union jobs with good wages and benefits.” Newton also said it’s unlikely that the price of beer would go down as cost of a larger distribution system would likely tbe

passed on to consumers. “You may have more points of sale but you’ll be paying more and the selection of products available will be way smaller,” Newton said. Moher said he is becoming more optimistic that the Ontario government will allow convenience stores to sell alcohol in the “not-so-distant future.” “The province continues to be open to the dialogue and discussion, so that’s very encouraging,” Moher told reporters after his speech. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said in June that the government is not considering the prospect of booze sales in convenience stores. Her announcement came after Finance Minister Charles Sousa said he wouldn’t rule out allowing the stores to sell alcohol. However, Sousa also said there are no plans to change the structure of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario—one of the largest purchasers and retailers of alcohol in the world—which turned over $1.65 billion to the province last year. On Monday, a spokeswoman for Sousa said the government’s position has not changed. Susie Heath said in an email that the the Liquor Control Board of Ontario—a Crown corporation—generated $1.7 billion in revenue last year, which helped to pay for services such as health care and education. “Our government believes that Ontarians are well-served by the current alcohol retail system,” said Heath. The new stores would be built in Toronto, Brampton, Grey Bruce County, London, Ottawa, the District Municipality of Muskoka and other locations within two years if allowed to sell alcohol, Moher said. A study commissioned by the Ontario Convenience Stores Association found that the provincial government would receive more revenue if alcohol sales were permitted in convenience stores. Other jurisdictions in Canada, such as Quebec, which also has a provincial liquor stores, already allow such sales. ■

FINANCIAL REGULATORS and market participants are preparing “contingency” measures to ensure that the local bond market would not be disrupted by a legal challenge to the existing fixed-income trading platform operated by Philippine Dealing and Exchange Corp. (PDEx). Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said regulators would not want the case filed before the Supreme Court involving PDEx to hamper the operations of the secondary market for fixed-income securities. “We are working to avoid market disruptions and implement mechanisms that will preserve transparency, price discovery and market stability,” Purisima

told the INQUIRER. National Treasurer Rosalia de Leon said officials of the Bureau of the Treasury and other regulatory agencies named as respondents to the case would have to sit down to discuss the issue and how to address the legal challenge. “The concerned government agencies will discuss among ourselves how to deal with the matter,” De Leon said, adding her office has not received a copy of the complaint. Purisima and De Leon, along with Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando Tetangco Jr., were among the public sector respondents to an “antimonopoly” case slapped against PDEx by former senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr., former congressman Luis Villafuerte, former Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno and former national treasurers Norma Lasala and Caridad Valdehuesa. The

Securities and Exchange Commission is also a respondent. De Leon said the concerned government agencies would have to scrutinize the details of the case before deciding on an appropriate action plan. The fixed-income trading market in the Philippine has a daily turnover of slightly under P30 billion, bulk of which involves government securities. This is more than three times the daily value turnover at the Philippine Stock Exchange, which is in negotiations to acquire a controlling stake in the capital market infrastructure under Philippine Dealing System Holdings (PDS), which includes PDEx, Philippine Depository and Trust Corp. and Philippine Securities Settlement Corp.—all of which were likewise named respondents to the case along with the Bankers Association of the Philippines. ■

Ayala toll road project hits a snag SMC-Citra opposition may delay PPP venture BY DORIS C. DUMLAO Philippine Daily Inquirer THE AYALA and San MiguelCitra groups are at odds over the proposed road linkage between the South Luzon Expressway (SLEx) and the Daang Hari tollroad, further delaying the first infrastructure project under the Aquino administration’s public-private partnership (PPP) program. The Ayala group needs to seal a tripartite agreement with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and SLEx concessionaire South Luzon Tollroad Corp. (SLTC) to establish the road linkage with SLEx. The Citra/San Miguel consortium had taken over SLTC since early 2012. INQUIRER sources said SLTC was critical of the new design proposed by Ayala for the linkage, fearing this would worsen traffic conditions in its jurisdiction. Separately, the sources said SLTC was concerned over plans to cut or ball 283 trees in its concession area along Susana Heights as this

might draw flak from environmentalist groups. Daang Hari is a four-kilometer major arterial road that will connect Cavite’s rapidly growing towns to Metro Manila via SLEx. Ayala and the San Miguel/Citra groups likewise battled for the right to undertake this project under the PPP program in end-2011. About 30 percent of the arterial road is complete, bulk of which had been undertaken by the government prior to the entry of Ayala as concessionaire. PPP Center executive director Cosette Canilao said a memorandum of agreement had been drafted and already approved by the DPWH and Ayala. “But there are questions from the SLTC board so that’s the cause of delay now,” she said, adding the traffic management was SLTC’s big-

gest concern. Other INQUIRER sources explained that SLTC was opposed to the plan to create a tunnel or undercrossing connecting the Daang Hari to SLEx on the ground that these would worsen traffic conditions in the area, cause damage to its own tollroad and that the revision was not part of the original design/terms approved by SLTC even prior to the entry of the San Miguel/Citra group as controlling shareholder. Instead, SLTC wanted Ayala to revert to the original design of building a roundabout or “rotunda” at the Daang Hari-Susana Heights interchange, noting that the DPWH itself had previously backed such “rotunda” model for both north- and south-bound traffic “in consideration of traffic safety,” the sources explained. ■

The original proposed Daang Hari-SLEx as posted on



Nearing age 32, Serena Williams passionate and placid at same time BY RACHEL COHEN The Associated Press NEW YORK—The Serena Williams who won the U.S. Open on Sunday didn’t flinch at any foot-fault calls. She looked very different from the player who took the court at Flushing Meadows in past years, yet exactly the same. And that is how Williams is dominating tennis as she nears her 32nd birthday. She has figured out how to play passionately and placidly all at the same time. “Even yesterday, I was still complaining. You could see that I’m throwing my hands everywhere,” Williams said Monday. “That’s just me. I’m never going to be able to change it. I just have to learn how to hold that in a little bit—but still be myself.” She unraveled in the second set, lost the first two points of

the third, then mastered that tricky balancing act the rest of the way. The top-ranked American beat No. 2 Victoria Azarenka 7-5, 6-7 (6), 6-1 for her fifth U.S. Open title and 17th Grand Slam championship. Williams assumes that wobbly second set—when she twice failed to serve out the match— came from the nerves of knowing she was on the verge of history. “In the third, I didn’t care,” she said. “I was just like, ‘This is what’s going to happen; this is what I’m going to do, and this is going to be the result.”’ Fourteen years after her first U.S. Open title, Williams’ experience had one thing in common with her victory at age 17: She didn’t do much celebrating that night either time. In 1999, it was because she was too young. In 2013, she was too tired after two weeks of playing singles and doubles.

Serena Williams: “My dad gave myself and my sister a game that you can always grow, you can always build on, you can always improve.” PHOTO BY NEALE COUSLAND / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

Williams said she ordered room service, then tried to fall asleep, but wasn’t very success-

ful at that. She feels fresh mentally and physically and is surprised on

both fronts. There are a few aches and pains, but nothing that a few days of rest won’t fix. And after playing an unusually busy schedule by her standards, Williams doesn’t yet sense the need to take some time off. That’s a change from earlier in her career. She won her 500th career match at the 2012 Australian Open and insists it felt as though she notched No. 600 two weeks later. In fact, it was at Wimbledon this year—a quick accumulation nonetheless. She might not enter as many tournaments next season. Williams had been chasing the No. 1 ranking; now she wants to focus on the four Grand Slams, though she realizes that sometimes winning the smaller events can lead to titles in the bigger ones. Her priorities were obvious ❱❱ PAGE 44 Nearing age





(MARCH 21 - APRIL 19)

(JUNE 22 - JULY 22)

(SEPT 23 - OCT 22)

(DEC 22 - JAN 19)

A sudden desire for independence from the confines of a job, stagnant home life, or relationship that isn’t working could seem irresistible right now, Aries. You might have some outrageous ideas for changing jobs, moving, or finding a new partner. These ideas might be more workable than they seem, but this isn’t the day to make decisions. Wait a few days and then consider your ideas again.

Whatever your situation, Cancer, today you could encounter someone exciting who stirs a powerful romantic attraction within you. This can be delightful, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy the company, but be a little cautious before taking any action. Get to know this person better before you decide on any sort of involvement, casual or serious. All may not be as it seems.

Upsets among family members in the home could drive you to escape it all and throw yourself into your work, particularly creative projects of some kind. This might be the right course of action, Libra. The situation isn’t permanent, and perhaps the others in your household simply need to work things out for themselves. In the meantime, your work will give you satisfaction and perhaps even advancement.




(APRIL 20 - MAY 20)

(JULY 23 - AUGUST 22)

(OCT 23 - NOV 21)

A warm, loving letter, phone call, or email could come today from someone dear who lives far away. This should be delightful, Taurus, but the frustrations that result from the separation could cause you to think about taking a trip to visit the person. This might be a good idea, but don’t make any promises. Wait a few days and look into the possibility to see if it’s workable.

GEMINI (MAY 21 - JUNE 21) Someone could approach you today offering an opportunity to increase your income, which may seem too good to be true. It might be all they say, Gemini, but look into the facts before making promises to go ahead with it. All may not be as it seems! Today isn’t a good day to commit to investments of any kind. Wait a few days, consider the idea again, and see if it’s workable.

Annoying situations that arise today could have you feeling stressed, Leo. A sudden desire to escape might enter your mind. Take care not to work out your frustrations by overindulging in food or drink. This could only make the situation worse. Focus on the tasks at hand and get them done. Follow that with a long walk to clear your head and a movie to get your mind off it all.

Don’t expect much luck with computers today, Scorpio, particularly when it comes to writing or communicating with others. Malfunctions with technology could plague you throughout the day. If you want to get a message to a friend, the best way might be to visit in person! Creative efforts could be hindered the same way. Today is a great day to fall back on good old pen and paper.



(AUG 23 - SEPT 22)

(NOV 22 - DEC 21)

Difficulty reaching others could plague you today, Virgo. emails might not go through or you could be stuck in endless telephone tag. You may want to stop trying, but don’t give up. Keep at it! Find something else to do while you’re waiting. You’ll make contact eventually. What you have to discuss with these friends could prove gratifying on more than one level.

Upsetting news about money may come your way today, Sagittarius. This could involve your personal finances or economic factors in general that indirectly affect your finances. Don’t panic. All may not be as it seems! Check the facts before acting. The situation could be real, but it’s more likely the product of overblown journalism. Don’t believe everything you read.

A strong desire for new romance, whether with a new or current partner, could prove overwhelming today, Capricorn. You might be tempted to do whatever it takes to attain it. Don’t plunge ahead - this isn’t the day for it! It might cause problems. Go to a romantic movie or read a racy novel. Seek what you want in a few days. You should have better results by then!

AQUARIUS (JAN 20 - FEB 18) Someone you’re very fond of could be in a difficult mood today. Don’t let your sensitivity get the better of you, Aquarius. Don’t take offense at what this person may say in frustration. Intuit what they’re feeling and be your usual compassionate self. This could strengthen your relationship and make you feel good, too.

PISCES (FEB 19 - MAR 20) An unexpected meeting with a friend could leave you sensing some strong emotions that your friend is experiencing. These could be unsettling, Pisces, so be prepared. Increased psychic awareness could cause you to pick up the thoughts and feelings of others more strongly than usual. This should increase your understanding of the person, but be careful not to reveal this understanding unless asked. It might prove too much for your friend right now.




So close to Quebec’s buzz yet so disconnected, Ile aux Grues is for the birds, and bikers BY CALVIN WOODWARD The Associated Press ILE-AUX-GRUES, QUE.—What a difference a bridge makes. This rather obvious observation hit home when driving around one Quebec island and cycling another, both close to the shore of the St. Lawrence River but a world apart in their way of life. First, Ile d’Orleans, a bridge hop from the outskirts of Quebec City. It’s a graceful haven of fine homes, fields of cultivated berries, art studios, collectibles, autumn apple pickers, cider, tourists, gourmet bakery treats, perfect lawns down to the water, maple syrup and bicyclists who look a bit nervous sharing narrow roads with cars, and for good reason. Then there’s wind-swept, rather lonely and powerfully lovely Ile-aux-Grues, island of cranes. It’s only a few miles (kilometres) from the shore of the St. Lawrence River, but so disconnected that the island’s children are flown to school and back. For Quebecers, Ile d’Orleans is the place everybody’s been. Ile-aux-Grues is where everyone has been meaning to go. So I went, on a ship with a quirky skipper, Jean-Francois Lachance. He fancied himself a standup comedian as he kept up a stream of banter mixed with stories of the archipelago for the scores of passengers. The Lachance family, operator of the cruise company, has been plying these waters since the early 1800s. In settling on a plan to bike along the St. Lawrence for three days, I had loosely patterned my route on one laid out by Lonely Planet contributor Margo Pfeiff, writing in the Los Angeles Times. When I followed up with her, she offered one piece of advice in particular: “Be sure

Ile d’Orléans is only 15 minutes away from Old Quebec! PHOTO FROM TOURISMEILEDORLEANS.COM

to have a day to spend on the island.” Ile-aux-Grues can be reached by a free, 25-minute car ferry until late in the year when the ice comes and the only access is by small planes. But the ferry runs on an erratic schedule, dependent on the tides, making it an iffy proposition for day-trippers. I took the $38 Lachance Cruises round-trip—more than two hours on the boat each way, and close to three hours to explore the island. I brought my bike along. The 170-passenger vessel first dropped off a large contingent on Grosse Ile, a national historical site that served as a gateway for Irish immigrants in the 1800s and a quarantine camp where typhus sufferers died in horrid conditions. Here the wide river is studded with islands, some owned in whole by the rich, but only Orleans and Grues inhabited yearround. On Ile-aux-Grues, most passengers climbed into a trolley for a motorized tour that includes a stop at the pride of the island, Fromagerie Ile-auxGrues, producer of coveted artisanal cheeses and winner of the 2009 Canadian grand prize for medium cheddar. Others wheeled their bicycles off the boat or used free ones from Lachance and ventured out on a dozen miles (about

20 kilometres) of empty roads through meadows, marshes and farmlands, never losing sight of the river panorama. The island, mostly under a mile (kilometre) wide, claims to offer the largest unspoiled wetland in northeastern North America, with mudflats linking Ile-auxGrues to even less accessible Ile-aux-Oies, island of geese. At summer’s end, the island delivered almost complete silence, except for the wind. About 150 people live here year-round, twice that in summer. Homes are pint-sized compared with many on Orleans, but never ordinary, dressed up in bright colours—which is typical in Quebec—and garden rows. The island’s most curious landmark: a beached 1940s tugboat from New York, now a restaurant offering regional cuisine and a venue for get-togethers. It’s named Le Bateau Ivre, or the Drunken Boat, after the 19th century French poem. Arthur Rimbaud’s classic verses, though, speak of a churning watery violence at odds with the tranquil setting of this old red tugboat and the island it now calls home. If You Go...

ILE-AUX-GRUES: By free car ferry from Montmagny until December, http://www. travel-quebec/montmagny-

The archipelago of the same name is home to 21 islands and islets, but Île aux Grues is the only one inhabited all year long. It boasts the largest unspoiled wetland in northeastern North America, which links Île aux Grues to Île aux Oies. These mud flats are a perfect place for watching birds or hunting waterfowl (via an outfitter). Île aux Grues is accessible by public ferry (depending on tides), private cruise boats and plane. Once on the island, you can walk, bike or take the tourist trolley and its guided tour. PHOTO FROM CHAUDIEREAPPALACHES.COM

and-the-islands/saint-antoinede-l-isle-aux-grues/traversel-isle-aux-grue s-montmagny/ ferry/ , and by small ship from Berthier-sur-Mer until midOctober, No charge to bring bicycles aboard either service; Lachance offers free use of its own bikes with notice. The only winter access: Air Montmagny, 418-248-3545. ILE D’ORLEANS: Best seen

by car, though plenty of cyclists take it on. The drive around the perimeter is 40-plus miles (65 kilometres); plan for plenty of compelling stops like La Boulange, a bustling bakery in the village of Saint-Jean, situated in a big old house with a wide porch looking out on a historic church, broad lawns and the St. Lawrence River. http://www. ■




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Nearing age... when she was asked to evaluate her 2013, with a careerhigh nine titles overall. Last year was better, Williams explained, even if she won fewer tournaments. The difference? In 2012, she captured two Grand Slam championships and an Olympic gold medal. That outweighs her two major titles of this year. Williams is particularly proud, however, of her 2013 French Open victory, her first since 2002. She likes how doubles helped her stay calm and focused the last two weeks and hopes to play in more events with sister Venus during the tour’s Asia swing in the fall. For all of Williams’ success under current coach Patrick Mouratoglou, she believes her improvement since they began working together 15 months ago can be partly traced back to her first coach, her father. “My dad gave myself and my sister a game that you can always grow, you can always build on, you can always improve,” she said. In winning four of the last six Grand Slam titles, Williams has taken the best of the player who pumps her fist and shouts “Come on!” after a big winner and added the poise of a veteran who doesn’t crack when a call goes against her. As the ❰❰ 41

‘I was definitely... ebb and flow of Sunday’s final reminded, with the swirling wind and Azarenka’s counterpunches rattling Williams at times, that fusion is difficult to achieve. But when it is, the result is impeccable. “If I’m too competitive and I’m too excited, then it doesn’t go well for me. I get too tight,” Williams said. “Or if I’m too relaxed, then I don’t have enough energy, and that doesn’t work out, either. So it has to be the perfect blend.” Williams’ tirades at the 2009 and 2011 U.S. Opens seem like fuzzy memories after consecutive three-set victories over Azarenka in the final. The Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd was fully behind her Sunday. Williams is one major title behind Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert. Catching them might appear inevitable with her current play—not just because she’s serving and moving so well, but because she still finds ways to win when her game deserts her. “I always say it’s really about how you can come back from the downs that really can describe you as an individual, as a champion, as a person,” Williams said. “It’s not how well you do when you’re high, and everyone’s awesome, and everyone’s happy for you and everyone’s writing about you, and it’s only positive things. That down definitely comes.” ■

bear jail, a transformed military warehouse with 28 holding cells for stray bears, in Churchill. Conservation Manitoba says the animal is being assessed. Violent encounters with polar bears are rare, but some have resulted in injury or death. In July, a polar bear attacked lawyer Matt Dyer from Maine as he slept in a tent in Torngat Mountains National Park in northern Labrador. He was with a group of hikers who had no armed guard but used a flare to scare the bear into dropping him. Dyer is recovering from neck and jaw injuries. In 2004, a researcher east of Churchill was knocked to the ground by a polar bear and treated for minor injuries in hospital. The last fatal attack in ❰❰ 19

Churchill was in 1983, when a resident who scavenged packages of ground beef from a burned-out hotel ran into a bear. Every Halloween, several conservation officers take to the sky in a helicopter to see if there are any bears around. Emergency vehicles are set up around the town’s perimeter with their lights flashing to deter curious creatures from checking out young trickor-treaters. Kolsun said he has a newfound respect for the bears, which can reach 450 kilograms and run as fast as 40 kilometres an hour. “Don’t walk alone after dark, make sure you catch a ride or drive or go in a cab,” he said. “Unfortunately, I learned the hard way.’ ■

A fall harvest... betrothed. On the comedy “Trophy Wife,” Pete (played by Bradley Whitford) has two broken marriages behind him when he lucks upon lovely Kate (Malin Akerman), who, on becoming Pete’s third bride, suddenly finds herself in a sort-of blended family with three stepchildren and two ex-wives—a big cast and complicated dynamics that surely have ABC dreaming may qualify this show as a hit akin to “Modern Family.” A strong contender for silliest new show—which means it might be first to go, or, on the other hand, run for years— is “Enlisted.” It’s a military comedy set in the not-so-funny modern age of war, with three brothers stationed on a small base in Florida. If there’s an issue of taste (are wars still being fought suitable for comedy?), this sitcom somewhat navigates it. Whether “Enlisted” is actually funny is another matter entirely. ❰❰ 36

Not so funny

Fox’s cop comedy “Brooklyn NineNine” arrives as perhaps the season’s biggest disappointment, not because it isn’t funny but because it doesn’t measure up to the comedic brilliance of its star, former “Saturday Night Live” player Andy Samberg, nor does it do right by its other leading man, the acclaimed

dramatic actor Andre Braugher. Arguably the most depressing new sitcom: NBC’s “Welcome to the Family,” which attempts to mine laughs from a Stanford University-bound whiz kid who learns his bubble-head girlfriend, who barely got out of high school, is pregnant with his child. College plans for both of them are off, marriage and parenthood are on, and both sets of in-laws-to-be are distraught. “The world’s most irresponsible person is now going to become a parent!” moans the pregnant girl’s dad. This is funny? Or is it just sad? And what about ABC’s comedy “Super Fun Night”? Its plus-size creator-star Rebel Wilson (“Pitch Perfect,” “Bridesmaids”) plays Kimmie, a lawyer who hangs out with her two best girlfriends every Friday night, to the exclusion of the rest of the world and its inhabitants—at least, until they decide to spice up their social lives. But Wilson obliterates the comedy by overplaying it, using her heft as a comic blunt instrument. Like Kimmie, she just tries too hard to please. It’s a familiar condition among the broadcast networks in their latest round of an aging tradition. For the Fall TV Season, there are too many new shows, with too many of them trying too hard to please. ■








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Choosing the right travel reward credit card BY BRYAN DAR SANTOS

lect points when they should be thinking, “Do I really need this?” Not to mention you are buying on credit. If you don’t pay your monthly bill in full, the interest charges will easy outweigh the value of the travel points you accumulated.

DID YOU know that there are 59 and counting distinct travel reward credit cards available in Canada? How do you decide on which one to use? In our Summer 2013 issue we published an unprecedented comparison of all 59 cards. You’ll need to pick up a copy of our latest issue to see the comparison. In the meantime here are a few thoughts to consider when deciding which card to use. Don’t think of points, think of value

Many credit cards advertise how many points you receive for every dollar you spend but what really matters is the value of those points. Due to differing and complex point systems, it is often difficult to know what a point is worth. In out comparison we devised a method using average values of redeemable rewards to make an apple–to-apple comparison.

Understand the travel program


Remember it’s a travel card

Travel cards are specifically designed to provide benefits when travelling, so if you don’t travel much maybe its the wrong card for you. If you do travel consider how much you’ll save on travel discounts, free (though limited) travel insurance, and special offers. Remember it’s also a credit card

Don’t fear annual fees

No one likes to pay fees but to discount a card simply because it has a fee or charges a high fee could actually work against you. What you need to consider is how much you would spend on that card and the total value of the rewards you would receive. From that you should deduct the fees (including for supplementary cards) to determine your net reward. Depending on how much you spend (and on what) you may find that the no-fee card is the wrong choice.

What’s not... that Rouhani’s push for government Facebook accounts might signal an easing of some of the Internet barriers. Not so, replied Iran’s chief Internet overseer. Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehei, head of the supervisory board on Internet content, said “it is not the time for lifting filters” on Facebook and other sites. In another spat, some government officials also denied they had already opened Facebook accounts. The Communications Ministry issued a statement denying the Shargh report that its head, Mahmoud Vaezi, was on Facebook. A news website,, reported that the oil minister, Bijan Zanganeh, has no link to any Facebook page claiming to be his. Other ministers, presumably heeding Rouhani’s advice, posted official meeting schedules and bureaucratic tidbits on their pages. “Fake pages on Facebook are going to be an Achilles’ heel for the Rouhani administration,” wrote pro-reform journalist Mahmoud Haghverdi on his Twitter ❰❰ 20

Consumers tend to focus on the travel benefits and forget about the everyday benefits that other cards may offer such as complimentary road service, advance access to event tickets or extended product warranties or price protection. Doubling of the manufacturer’s warranty may come in handy when buying a $500 TV. Remember IT’S A CREDIT CARD

Collecting points is one thing but if you don’t use the points, then you really haven’t received anything. Make sure that the travel program has rewards that you may actually redeem. Point collectors often say they didn’t redeem their points because either there were no available flights or it was a better deal to buy the tickets. In which case why are you collecting? Furthermore some programs may periodically dilute their point values and some points may even expire if not used timely. Is it worth switching?

If you spend $30,000 annually and currently get 1.75% back in points, switching to a card offering 2% in points gains you a mere $75. In the whole scheme of your personal finance, choosing the best travel reward credit card is a minor issue. That being said free is free so if a credit card wants to give me more for what I already spend, then who am I to complain? ■

Travel points should be considered as a bonus not a benefit. Some consumers may be encouraged to buy more to col-

Bryan Dar Santos is the President/Editor-in-chief of Finance Works Magazine. Email:

feed. “This misuse is making it difficult for authorities to remove filters.” Such murkiness is nothing new in Iran’s online realm. Last week, a Twitter message posted under Rouhani’s name offered salutations on the Jewish new year, Rosh Hashanah, to Iran’s Jewish community and others around the world. Rouhani’s aides later said the posting was not from the president. Then, hours later, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif acknowledged that he sent a similar message marking the Jewish holiday—in what was interpreted as a small bid toward easing hostilities between his nation and Israel. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, issued a religious decree last year that called Facebook permissible if it was not used for “corrupting” purposes. Yet Khameni also has denounced the Internet as the vanguard of a Western cultural invasion—what he calls “Westoxification”—that hardliners believe undermines Islamic values. Iran’s ruling clerics have gone as far as ordering development of a closed system that would allow only state-approved Internet sites.

But Khamenei, too, is not completely absent from the Net. His office maintains an official site. A Facebook page and Twitter account also are widely believed to reflect his views. He has neither disowned nor claimed them, adding to speculation they serve as his unofficial voice. In June, the Twitter feed carried musings about Khamenei’s boyhood desires to work out at a gym and the pleasures of mountain strolls. More recently, it included praise for Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables” as one of literature’s masterpieces. The foreign minister, Zarif, asked his Facebook followers not to steal his name and image for their posts. “I will be thankful that you publish your viewpoints under your own name,” he wrote. “I am only responsible for my comments.” Saeed Leilaz, a Tehran-based political analyst, believed Rouhani’s moderate views will eventually lead to the lifting of some Internet restrictions. “Rouhani learned about the power of the Internet on Iran’s public opinion during his electoral campaign,” said Leilaz. “Now they are trying to use it for their own aims.” ■

Publisher Philippine Canadian Inquirer Editor Melissa Remulla-Briones Associate Editor Laarni de Paula Correspondents Lizette Lofranco-Aba Gigi Astudillo Angie Duarte Maria Ramona Ledesma Katherine Marfal Frances Grace Quiddaoen Agnes Tecson Ching Dee Socorro Newland Graphic Designer Victoria Yong Jennifer Yen Photographers Solon Licas Angelo Siglos Danvic Briones Operations and Marketing Head Laarni de Paula (604) 551-3360 Advertising Sales Alice Yong (778) 889-3518 Antonio Tampus (604) 460-9414 PHILIPPINE PUBLISHING GROUP Editorial Assistant Phoebe Casin Graphic Designer Shanice Garcia Associate Publisher Lurisa Villanueva In cooperation with the Philippine Daily Inquirer digital edition Philippine Canadian Inquirer is located at Suite 400, North Tower | 5811 Cooney Road, Richmond, B.C., Canada Tel. No.: 1-888-668-6059 or 778-8893518 | Email: info@canadianinquirer. net,, sales@ Philippine Canadian Inquirer is published weekly every Friday. Copies are distributed free throughout Metro Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg and Toronto. Member



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