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NEWS INSIDE Bishop hails Pacquiao as ‘modern-day saint’ ( On page 6 ) JPE: Classic case of wrong survey is the Man on the cross ( On page 7 ) Miriam spells out winning tacks for prosecution, defense ( On page 10 )

Palace shopping for cars for P-noy, visiting VIPS ( On page 12 )

Photo by Richard Reyes

Filipino-Canadian in Focus: Marieton Pacheco ( On page 26 )

PANIC’S OVER, BUT NOT THE WEEPING: Residents secure belongings saved from a fire that broke out in a slum area in Manila’s San Andres Bukid district. The hour-long blaze killed a 6-month-old baby boy.

Speed up reforms, World Bank tells PH Says cutting poverty rate a vital goal BY MICHELLE V. REMO Philippine Daily Inquirer

HIGH POWER rates and limited access to financing for small enterprises are among the structural problems that the Philippine government should address so that economic growth can translate into poverty reduction, the World Bank

said last March 19. In its latest quarterly report on the Philippines, the World Bank said the country had achieved low inflation, a sustained economic growth, a declining debt burden, a stable banking sector and a comfortable level of foreign exchange reserves.

PH Actresses stop show at Asian Oscar ( On page 29 )

But the country should work on graduating from merely achieving and sustaining macroeconomic stability to spreading prosperity to most Filipinos, the multilateral agency said. “The government has done a really good job in achieving macroeconomic stability. But there are structural

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Making immigration work better for the Canadian economy In a speech before the Canadian Club, Minister Jason Kenney said the problem of labour shortage, and unemployment and underemployment of new immigrants should be addressed through a fast, flexible and proactive immigration program. (On Page 23)

The University of the Philippines Alumni Association of British Columbia recently held a Wills and Estates workshop for its members.

( On page 20 )

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Vancouver’s Classic North Shore Mountains ( On page 31 )

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Prosecution, Noy classmate grilled BY MICHAEL LIM UBAC AND TJ BURGONIO Philippine Daily Inquirer

DEFENSE LAWYERS last March 20 disputed allegations that Chief Justice Renato Corona owned 45 properties, and angry senators slammed the prosecution for allegedly misleading the public with a document from the Land Registration Authority (LRA) that was not authenticated. The defense, through counsel Noel Lazaro, presented LRA Administrator Eulalio C. Diaz III, a classmate of President Aquino, who admitted that he provided the House lead prosecutor, Niel Tupas Jr., with a long list of properties purportedly belonging to Corona, his wife and three children. Diaz, however, was forced to admit that many of the properties he listed in a letter to Tupas on Jan. 10 had either ceased to belong to Corona and his wife, or had never been registered under their names. The prosecution, through private prosecutor Jose Justiniano, readily admitted to this revelation, prompting four senatorjudges—Joker Arroyo, Jinggoy Estrada, Pia Cayetano and Loren Legarda—to take turns chastising Diaz and the prosecution for the glaring error. Diaz justified this by saying that the list was computer-generated, prompting Arroyo to ask: “How come you did that?” Arroyo assailed the “cavalier attitude” and “unfairness” of the prosecution and the Aquino administration in coming out with the list, which was leaked to the media. “I am bothered by this aspect of the proceedings—the cavalier attitude of the administration and the prosecution,” Arroyo said. The senator pointed out to Diaz that in his letter to Tupas, Diaz claimed that the properties were listed under the names of “Renato Corona et al.” in the LRA database. According to the senator, a total of 24 persons bear the names of the Corona spouses. “The rest from Items No. 24 to 45, excluding those I have mentioned, are not in the names of Renato Corona and Cristina. So my question: Why did you write this kind of letter? You know that this is an impeachment case. This is a very serious case. You practically charged the Chief Justice and his wife of owning 45 properties. How come you did that?” Question of fairness Arroyo explained that he was not even talking about the legality of it all. “I’m talking in [terms of] the fairness

principle, nothing to do with the law,” he said. Diaz replied that he had been requested to search the LRA database for all the properties belonging to the Chief Justice “et al.” He said he had been under the impression that the prosecution panel was looking for a way to “trace back where the properties came from,” which explained the inclusion of so many names unrelated to the Chief Justice in the list. Diaz said he merely “punched in the names” requested on the computer. “What we have [is] data warehousing [of all register of deeds]. Everything else is computer generated,” he said. Tupas denies Tupas denied that the prosecution panel misled the public. “We have every reason to believe the authenticity of these documents,” he said. “It turned out later that some of the properties were not listed in the names of the family, and we did not include that in the offer of evidence.” The Jan. 10, 2012, LRA letter to Tupas was attached as Annex A to the prosecution’s request for the issuance of a subpoena for Corona, he said. Tupas confirmed that when he phoned Diaz, he asked for information on the properties of Corona, wife Cristina, and children Ma. Carla, Ma. Charina and Francis. He said the prosecution used the property listed in the names of Ma. Carla and husband Constantino Castillo III “to support the theory that there was a simulated deed of assignment.” “We did this because we’re in search of the truth,” he said. National significance Cayetano and Legarda also took Diaz to task, asking why he wrote Tupas specifically certifying that the 45 titles were registered in Corona’s or his wife’s name when in several cases this was not true. “This is a very public, this is a very sensitive, this is a very political procedure of national significance to our country. When you issue a certification like this, I would think you’d exercise extreme caution required of a diligent head of an agency called upon to certify certain documents,” Cayetano said. She wondered why Diaz did not state that the titles were a result of a general name search. “It would have cleared the air. It would have allowed the defendant, as every single Filipino is entitled to, the presumption of innocence,” she said.

Diaz said he merely forwarded material to the prosecution to study and “do whatever they want to do.” Under grilling by Legarda, Diaz admitted that the LRA also “punched in” the names of Cristina, the three Corona children and son-in-law Constantino Castillo in their search, that’s why they came up with 45 titles of properties. Diaz said he “went over the documents” before signing them, but not “detail by detail.” “I don’t have the luxury of going detail by detail on these documents. What I did was to request them to submit to me the titled properties in their registries by a computer name search, and submit to my office what documents were generated by the search. When these were brought over to my office, we counted them and made transmittal letter to the addressee,” he said. Diaz admitted the search generated titles of individuals who were “namesakes” of Corona and the others.■

If it’s too good to be true, watch out BY JERRY E. ESPLANADA Philippine Daily Inquirer

IF SOMETHING sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This was the message of the US Department of State to Americans worldwide—including over 300,000 based in the Philippines—as it warned them against international financial scams, many of which are initiated through the Internet. In a recent report posted on the website of the US Embassy in Manila, the Washington DC based agency said its Consular Affairs Bureau receives daily calls about international scams supposedly involving grandparents, dating and romance, work permits and lotteries. The report said many of these scams originate online, with victims ranging from 18 to 81 years old and coming from all socio-economic backgrounds. According to the State Department, such schemes have long existed but they have become more widespread with the use of the Internet. Americans have reportedly lost hundreds of thousands of dollars on these scams. “All types of advance-fee scams have one point in common—the targeted person is led to believe that he or she has a chance to attain something of very great personal value—like financial rewards or a romantic relationship in return for a small up-front monetary outlay,” it said.■

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Publisher Philippine Canadian Inquirer Head of Editorial Melissa Remulla-Briones Editorial Consultant Maria Ramona Ledesma Contributors Jeffrey J.D. Andrion Gigi Astudillo Dr. Rizaldy Ferrer Marietta Pangan-Dutkoski Stella Reyes Jenn Torres Frances Grace H. Quiddaoen Laarni de Paula Rodel J. Ramos Graphic Designer Victoria Yong Illustration Danvic C. Briones Photographer Ryan Ferrer Sales and Operations Laarni de Paula Dominador Masakayan MaryAnn Roque HINGE INQUIRER PUBLICATIONS CUSTOM PUBLISHING GROUP Managing Editor Maita de Jesus Asst. Creative Director Bong Sevilla Graphic Artist Reggie Goloy Associate Publisher Lurisa Villanueva Jr. Associate Publisher Millicent Agoncillo Project Coordinator Lychelle Ang 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. 778-3836090 / 778-383-3203 • Email us at : info@ canadianinquirer.net or inquirerinc@gmail.com

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Water, water everywhere, and much of it polluted

BY KRISTINE L. ALAVE Philippine Daily Inquirer

FILIPINOS HAVE more than enough of water to drown in but, alas, not a drop for drinking in some areas. The reason: Much of it is polluted, or simply, the Philippines does not have the infrastructure to impound, treat and distribute it to households, according to an official of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). Vicente Tuddao Jr., the executive director of the DENR’S River Basin Control Office, said last March 20 that Filipinos have so much water around them thanks to an abundant groundwater supply, various inland water bodies and regular rains. But it is not being used in the most efficient manner. At a press briefing to mark World Water Day, Tuddao said the Philippines had 160 billion liters of water available but only 28 percent of that was being used by Filipinos for domestic purposes. The rest is unfit for drinking and is used for agricultural and industrial purposes. “We are still at the lower end compared to other Asians. There is a lot

of surplus. But our water is polluted,” Tuddao said.

Water rationing Water pollution is a serious problem in urban areas nationwide, depriving city residents of the precious resource, according to Tuddao. Metro Manila, for instance, can boast of several bodies of water but none of these supplies the city with potable water. “Laguna Lake and Pasig River are polluted. Can we use that? Here in Metro Manila, we are still polluting our rivers,” Tuddao said. He said the metropolis, which depends on river basins in Central Luzon for its water supply, had to implement rationing in some areas during the summer months. Make use of floodwaters Tuddao also said the Philippines was not taking advantage of its floodwaters for lack of infrastructure to save this resource. He noted that other countries, like Singapore, were catching floodwaters in underground cisterns to be used

during the dry season for agricultural and industrial purposes. Compared to other countries, the Philippines is in a unique position when it comes to its abundant water resources, according to the United Nations. By 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions gripped by water scarcity and two-thirds of the world’s population could be facing a possible water shortage, the UN said. The United Nations said South Asia, East Asia and the Middle East were already close to using up their water resources.

Giant water drop To celebrate World Water Day, personnel from the DENR and other government agencies will assemble and form themselves into the shape of a giant water drop in front of Quirino Grandstand in Manila. This would be an attempt to set a record as the world’s largest water drop formation, with hundreds of participants expected to attend, Tuddao said. Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said this year’s activities would focus

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on increasing awareness to conserve water resources “not only because we need water to drink, bathe in and wash our clothes, but also because it is an important component of the food that we eat.”

Food supply chain “Water is very much incorporated in the food supply chain, whether in irrigation, fisheries or in producing feeds for our livestock,” Paje said. According to Tuddao, the Philippines’ river basins can sufficiently irrigate its crop lands. However, the country needs infrastructure, such as reservoirs and irrigation systems, to make sure water goes to the farmlands with little waste. He compared the Cagayan Valley river system to the Mekong Delta, that fertile area in Cambodia and Vietnam where rice is grown, but it needs to be rehabilitated. Some tributaries of the river system, which feeds into 2.5 million hectares of farmland, are polluted and heavily silted. This results in water wastage and floods during the rainy season, Tuddao said. ■

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Gatdula wins protection from being ‘framed’ BY JAYMEE T. GAMIL Philippine Daily Inquirer

OUSTED NATIONAL Bureau of Investigation head Magtanggol Gatdula obtained a court order on March 20 to prevent his being framed in the ambush of an NBI deputy director on Feb. 21. Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 26 Judge Silvino Pampilo granted Gatdula’s petition for a writ of amparo, which Gatdula had sought to restrain the Department of Justice and the NBI from threatening his “life, liberty and security” in connection with the ambush of NBI deputy director for technical services Reynaldo Esmeralda. Esmeralda’s SUV was strafed by unidentified gunmen as his two-car convoy was running on a street in Paco, Manila, last month. No one was killed in the incident, with only Esmeralda’s brother sustaining a gunshot wound to the shoulder.

Possible ‘rubout’ But Gatdula, naming Esmeralda, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and NBI officer in charge Nonnatus Rojas as respondents in his petition, believed the ambush was staged in order to frame him, get him arrested and possibly killed in a “rubout.” He said De Lima and Esmeralda held him “implicitly responsible” for the ambush when they aired theories it may have been related to the kidnapping of Japanese national Noriyo Ohara, which Gatdula and other NBI agents are being accused of. Ohara was arrested by the NBI in October for being an undocumented alien. She alleged the NBI extorted at least P6 million for her release. The kidnapping case led to Gatdula being sacked from the NBI. He is currently being investigated by a justice department panel despite a preliminary injunction he obtained from another Manila court to stop the probe.

In earlier hearings in Pampilo’s court, Gatdula’s camp presented two witnesses who said armed goons were looking for Gatdula days after the ambush. “Constitutional rights require utmost protection,” Pampilo said, in a four-page order. Pampilo also granted subsequent “interim reliefs,” namely, a temporary protection order to secure Gatdula and his immediate family, an inspection order allowing Gatdula’s camp to inspect Esmeralda’s strafed vehicle, and a production order for the medical, forensic, ballistic reports and other documents relating to the ambush. On March 8, Pampilo granted a temporary protection order, but he further ordered on Tuesday that it be “effective until further notice.” He directed the Police Security and Protection Group of the Philippine National Police to carry out the security measures.

The inspection order, meanwhile, allows Gatdula’s camp to photograph the Esmeralda’s vehicle on March 26 and 27 at 9 a.m. at NBI headquarters on Taft Avenue.

Copy of documents The production order, on the other hand, directs the NBI, DOJ and Manila Doctors Hospital to submit certified true copies of documents relating to the ambush on March 28 and 29 at 9 a.m. Answering the respondents’ arguments that Gatdula was not entitled to a writ of amparo since there was no actual occurrence of deprivations of his life, liberty and security, Pampilo reasoned that “[Gatdula] cannot be expected to wait until such time that he is already shot at or illegally detained to file a petition for the issuance of a writ of amparo.” ■

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TUESDAY MARCH 27, 2012

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impediments that have to be addressed … to achieve a more inclusive growth and to reduce poverty at a faster pace,” Karl Kendrick Chua, World Bank country economist for the Philippines, said at a press conference. Besides high power rates and lack of financing for small enterprises, Chua enumerated other impediments to poverty reduction— unpredictable regulations, uneven playing field for businesses in terms of taxation, high cost of and a tedious process in starting a business, and limited access to education and skills training. Cut power rates Chua said the high cost of electricity in the Philippines was one of the reasons it was losing out in the competition to attract foreign investments. “There should be measures to lower power rates,” Chua said. He said the cost of electricity was one of the major considerations of businesses in deciding whether to invest in a country. Loans for poor Awash in cash, the banking system should help in efforts to reduce poverty by extending more loans designed for the poor, Chua said. “Policies to ensure affordable access to finance micro and small enterprises are needed to spur job creation,” the World Bank said in the report. Problems related to credit access involve the high value of collateral required by banks and interest rates that micro enterprises cannot afford to pay. Skills training Another way to help the poor is to invest in skills training, which can give them the chance to improve their ability to get better-quality and thus higher-paying jobs, according to the bank. “Moving to higher valueadded production would require improvements in the supply and quality of skills,” it said.

The World Bank suggested that the government invest more in strengthening the capacity of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority so that it can better achieve its mandate of helping increase employment through skills training. The bank also cited the need for the government to partner with the private sector in improving the quality of graduates. The partnership can help narrow the gap between what employers need and what the skills of graduates are. K-12 program The World Bank stressed the importance of ensuring that the government successfully implement the K-12 program, which is aimed at helping improve the competitiveness of the country’s labor force. The multilateral agency said the K-12 program, which extends the length of primary and secondary education from 10 to 12 years and requires kindergarten education, would help make the Philippine education system comparable with global standards. Level tax field Better skills will in turn attract more investments as multinational companies shift from countries such as China where costs are rising, Chua said. He said the government was also advised to rationalize the tax system by withdrawing incentives enjoyed by some enterprises and by reducing the 30percent income tax rate to align it with much lower rates in other countries. He said a level playing field in taxation was needed to avoid turning off businesses. The World Bank economist said starting up a business was much more tedious in the Philippines compared with other emerging economies, putting the country at a disadvantage in attracting jobgenerating foreign investments. The bank suggested more focus on key reform areas such as boosting public financial management, increasing tax revenues and enhancing competitiveness through better regulation. It also called for addressing infrastructure bottlenecks.

Lack of quorum stalls RH debates in House BY LEILA B. SALAVERRIA Philippine Daily Inquirer WITH THE nation focused on the impeachment trial of the chief justice, lawmakers have not been attending House sessions, stalling the passage of important social justice measures like the reproductive health bill, the bill’s advocates complained. In a press conference last March 20, some lawmakers and family planning advocates said renewed their call to put the RH bill to a vote, lamenting that problems with attendance were stalling the passage of the measure. Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan reported that few lawmakers have been attending sessions, and the lack of a quorum made any call for a vote useless.

She said some lawmakers were using the impeachment trial as an excuse not to attend sessions, even though relatively few lawmakers were in the Senate for the trial. “Where are the others?” she asked. Some of the lawmakers who have put down their names as interpellators against the RH bill have also not been showing up, thus stalling debates, she further complained. The bill sets the framework for the consistent promotion of family planning, both natural and artificial methods, and mandates sex education in schools. Bag-ao and Ilagan said the RH bill should be put to a vote before the 15th Congress finally adjourns its second year in June.

Global slowdown “In a scenario of a lingering global slowdown, domestic demand, in particular investments and government spending, will have to play a bigger role in achieving the country’s growth targets for 2012 and beyond,” Chua said. The report said the global economic slowdown may affect employment in the electronics sector, which accounts for half a million jobs and indirectly supports several hundred thousand other jobs. The World Bank is keeping its growth projection for the Philippines at 4.2 percent for this year (up from 3.7 percent last year) and 5 percent for next year, saying such rates are decent and comparable with other emerging markets. Nonetheless, it said poverty remained a serious challenge for the Philippines. Although the country enjoys favorable macroeconomic fundamentals, the structural problems make it difficult for poor people to uplift their situation, said Rogier van den Brink, the lead economist of the World Bank. “[Poor] Filipinos still have difficulty accumulating wealth. For instance, it is difficult for people in the rural areas to get land and for [micro and small enterprises] to access credit,” Van den Brink said at the press conference. “The bottlenecks have to be removed,” he added. Despite a continually growing economy, the number of poor Filipinos stood at 26.5 percent of the population in 2009, up from 26.4 percent in 2006 and 24.4 percent in 2003. Window of opportunity World Bank country director Motoo Konishi noted the progress the government had achieved but said it needed to act faster to get more broadbased support from policymakers, civil society and the private sector to benefit the poor. “A huge window of opportunity currently exists for speeding up critical reforms,” Konishi said. “Besides having strong macroeconomic fundamentals, the country is benefiting from political stability and a popular government that is seen by many as strongly committed to improving governance and reducing poverty.” ■

Congress is going on a break and will resume sessions in May. It has only a month within which to pass bills, advocates noted. Former Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral, who also spoke in the press conference, said lawmakers “continue to have blood on their hands” because of their continued failure to pass the much-needed RH bill. She said an average of 11 women a day, or about 8,000 women in the last two years have died because of a lack of services and natal care that the Rhbill would have provided. The deaths were unnecessary and could have been avoided had the government taken the proper steps to provide the proper health care to women, Cabral said in the press briefing.

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Accountability was with Congress, which has still failed to put the bill to a vote despite the measure being debated for long hours and no new questions about it coming up during interpellations, added Bag-ao and Ilagan. The ongoing impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona should not be an excuse for their inaction, they said. President Aquino, who claimed support for the bill, could marshal his supporters in the House of Representatives to pass the bill. He has shown it could be done when it comes to other measures, Ilagan noted. But now there seems to be no clear impetus, Ilagan noted. “If they can fast-track other measures, why not one that has been pending for 16 years?” she asked.■


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Bishop hails Pacquiao as ‘modern-day saint’

BY JOCELYN R. UY Philippine Daily Inquirer

TO SOME, boxing champion and

Saranggani Rep. Manny Pacquiao may be losing his marbles, but for some bishops of the Catholic Church he just may be a modern-day Filipino saint. “Let him be called crazy because when God converts people, others cannot understand whether it is the great grace of God,” said Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes, who was ecstatic about Pacquiao’s decision to heed God’s message and retire from boxing.

Palace thumbs down P125 wage hike proposal BY CHRISTINE O. AVENDAÑO Philippine Daily Inquirer

MALACAÑANG last March 20 thumbed down a proposed across-the-board daily wage increase set to be approved in the labor committee of the House of Representatives, saying it was up to the wage boards and the labor department to determine any need for a wage adjustment. Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the proposed P125 increase in daily wages was too high. “It will not be practicable,” Valte also said of any wage adjustment through legislation. She said she had consulted President Aquino on his stand on the proposed P125 daily wage hike. At a press briefing, Valte said the proposed increase in daily wages would translate to a monthly P3,250. “While all of us want an increase in pay, instead of trying to help many, its possible that many workers will lose their jobs if this will be the amount of the legislated wage hike,” Valte told reporters. The House committee on labor is set to approve an across- the- board daily wage increase of P125 for workers wage

Bastes said some of the most revered saints and prophets were called “crazy,” citing St. Francis of Assisi, an Italian monk and son of a wealthy cloth merchant who left everything behind for the sake of the Lord in the 11th century. “Many saints were called crazy ... we can also have some modern saints in the Philippines like Pacquiao,” said Bastes in a phone interview with reporters. The prelate said he was very happy the world champion was heeding God’s call and was becoming more detached from worldly pursuits. “I like it. I approve of it 100 percent. Maybe [it’s] because of the prayers of his very devout mother. Every day she prays the rosary that Pacquiao will retire,” said Bastes. Marbel Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez also praised Pacquiao for his decision. “He is a changed man, trying to be an obedient son of God our Father,” he said in a separate phone interview. Gutierrez said Pacquiao must obey “soon.” Pacquiao revealed recently that he was seriously considering retirement after God appeared to him in a dream in January and told him to quit boxing. The eight-time world champion said God told him he had already made something of himself and it was getting “dangerous.”

increase and bring it to a plenary vote in May. Layoffs feared Northern Samar Rep. Emil Ong, labor committee chair, said he was certain that House Bill No. 375, filed by Anakpawis party-list Rep. Rafael Mariano, would be approved by the committee but was not sure about its passage in the plenary. Valte wondered whether companies were capable of paying the amount to their workers if the legislated wage hike bill were approved. “We know that if the businessman says he could not pay such a raise, their next question is how many jobs should they reduce,” she said. Asked whether the Palace saw the need for a pay raise for workers, especially in the face of high oil prices, Valte said: “Ideally, wages should go up.” With some labor groups filing wage increase petitions before the wage boards, Valte said the Palace would leave it to the wage boards and the Department of Labor and Employment to make the determination. It was also up to employers to decide whether to provide non-wage benefits to workers, according to the deputy presidential spokesperson. ■

“He should really retire from boxing. In the Bible, God sometimes appeared to people in their dreams, so the result is very good for him,” said Bastes. The Catholic Church doesn’t back the sport because of the danger it poses to the boxers, said Bastes. “We in the Catholic Church, God’s message we consider boxing a bit immoral because many people have been killed because of [it],” he said. Last month 21- year- old Filipino boxer Karlo Maquinto died from a blood clot in the brain following a bout in Caloocan City. He fell into a coma after the match in which he was knocked down twice but still won a majority decision against his opponent. “So I commend Pacquiao. Let him forget about boxing and make him do other things. Let him become a governor, let him be a Bible ambassador, etc. Just let him forget boxing,” said Bastes. Earlier, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo revealed that Pacquiao had held a retreat for priests of the Marbel diocese in South Cotabato in his home on March 13. The Catholic Bishops’ Episcopal Commission on Biblical Apostolate has also invited the boxer to be its “Bible ambassador.” ■

Fire out after 82 hrs, but mall tenants still fiery THE MONSTER blaze was finally tamed after 82 hours — but not the fiery temper of those who saw their livelihood go up in smoke. BY KRISTINE FELISSE MANGUNAY & DJ YAP The Philippine Daily Inquirer

The CALOOCAN City Mayor Recom Echiverri faces merchants demanding immediate access to the gutted Ever Gotesco mall on the hope of finding anything they could still salvage from their stores on Tuesday. Firefighters called it out at 7 a.m. last March 20 after almost four days of battling the flames that gutted Ever Gotesco Grand Central Mall in Caloocan City starting March 16. Amid the smoke and debris, however, authorities had to contend next with angry mall tenants who were still being prevented from entering the

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establishment to retrieve anything they could from their stores. Local officials led by Mayor Enrico Echiverri and representatives of the Department of the Interior and Local Government had to be at the scene to appease the merchants, many of whom gathered in front of the ruined complex as early as 7 a.m. Reached at around 5 p.m., however, fire and security officials said they would still need a gosignal from the higherups before they could let anyone in due to the continuing mop-up operations. SFO2 Roel Dacanay explained that before any civilian is allowed inside, a written order should be signed by the city fire marshal, Supt. Oscar de Asis, and then turned over to the Ever Gotesco building management. “There’s a procedure there. We have to wait for that first. This is for safety purposes,” Dacanay explained. De Asis said 90 percent of the building was destroyed and the cost of the damage could reach up to P700 million. The worst-hit sections were the parking area and the movie houses on the fifth floor, he noted. De Asis deferred comment when asked if the mall management would be held liable for violation of the Fire Code, saying a full investigation was still underway. He noted, though, that the mall’s sprinkler system functioned properly and that the establishment had its own set of firefighting equipment. Authorities have yet to pinpoint the cause of the fire, which was initially reported to have started from the ceiling of a Rusty Lopez shoe store on the ground floor. Also on March 20, the city government said it was considering the setup of a temporary relocation area for residents living behind the mall on P. Jacinto Street. This was after investigators discovered that a cracked wall at the back of the mall was already leaning precariously toward the residential area. Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo on Tuesday launched a probe into the fire, one of the worst in Metro Manila in recent memory, which ironically hit during Fire Prevention Month. Robredo wants a report within 45 days.


News-Phils JPE: Classic case of wrong survey is the Man on the cross A7

TUESDAY MARCH 27, 2012

BY TJ BURGONIO, CYNTHIA D. BALANA AND MARLON RAMOS Philippine Daily Inquirer

THE COLD FACTS of evidence, not poll surveys, will decide the fate of impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona come judgment day, senator-judges said last March 20. Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and his colleagues belittled the effect of surveys on their final decision to convict or acquit the Chief Justice, after a Pulse Asia survey showed that close to half of the respondents believed he was guilty. “I will look at the evidence,” Enrile told reporters. “If we use surveys to convict or not to convict a person charged in courts, then we do not need the courts. All we have to do is conduct surveys whenever somebody is charged.” Enrile recalled that one senator voted in favor of then impeached US President Andrew Johnson in the 1860s, and was “destroyed by public opinion, but in the end, was vindicated.” “The voting was almost even and one senator voted in his favor to save him. This guy was destroyed by public opinion but later on it turned out that he was correct,” he said. Enrile was referring to US Sen. Edmund Ross who provided the decisive vote that acquitted Johnson, who was impeached over his reconstruction policy. Administer justice Enrile said he was not preoccupying himself with surveys because the job of the impeachment court was to administer justice. “We are administering justice here and the classic case of a survey that was wrong is the man on the cross… He was judged by a survey and until now people are worshiping him,” he said of Jesus Christ. In a Pulse Asia poll of 1,200 respondents nationwide from Feb. 26 to March 9, 47 percent held the view that Corona was guilty. Forty-three percent could not say whether he was guilty. Only 5 percent said Corona was innocent. The results were music to the ears of the prosecution panel from the House of Representatives. Quezon Rep. Lorenzo Tañada III, a prosecution spokesperson, said the public sentiments should warrant the removal from office of the Chief Justice at the end of the trial. “It only shows that the people monitoring the impeachment proceedings are convinced by the evidence presented by the prosecution,” Tañada said.

People’s approval He said he was pleased to learn that despite the criticisms that the prosecutors had received early on in the course of presenting evidence, people still approved of what they did in presenting evidence before senator-judges. “This shows that the evidence that we’ve presented is substantial to sway the minds of the people that the Chief Justice is guilty,” Tañada said. Marikina City Rep. Romero Quimbo said the survey results were a reflection of public sentiment toward Corona. “The Chief Justice is accused of betrayal of public trust and the operative word there is the public, and it is important how we see the public in a snap shot,” Quimbo said. Not popularity contest As expected, Corona’s defense lawyers downplayed the survey, saying that the trial was not a popularity contest. They also said that senator-judges should be guided only by “law and evidence.” Jose Roy III, one of the defense counsels, expressed confidence that the public perception on Corona’s guilt would have little effect on how the senators would eventually decide the case. Despite their perceived political inclinations, the senators would “stand by their oath to do impartial justice according to the Constitution and the laws of the Philippines,” Roy said. “That’s their oath… (It’s) not according to what the Filipino people believe is popular,” he told reporters before the start of the proceedings. “We think that that is the most important standard and that at the end of the day, the senators will honor their oath,” he said. Asked if the defense could still convince the public of Corona’s innocence, Roy said: “I am confident that the votes that matter are all inside the session hall.” “I think that the tide is in our favor,” Roy said. “Our principal concern is the evidence and the law. Public opinion can be affected by many things, but evidence should be able to speak clearly for the innocence of the Chief Justice and I think we are well on our way to accomplishing that.”

Justice’s explanation on the questions over his properties. “We believe that the people closely observing this process would be able to see and understand our point,” Quicho said, adding: Tranquil Salvador III, also of the defense panel, said the Pulse Asia survey showed positive indicators for Corona. For one, Salvador said the poll indicated that more Filipinos were “willing to hear out” the Chief Justice’s explanation. He also noted that the survey was done during the period before the defense started presenting its own witnesses and evidence on March 12. “It shows that a great bulk of our population is waiting for the presentation of our case. This is a good indication because they are ready to hear us,” he said. “This is enough to show that we are doing well in this process. It’s good

Defense still to be heard Rico Paolo Quicho, a spokesperson for the defense, said Corona’s lawyers would present more evidence and witnesses that would help the public and the senators understand the Chief

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for the country because if we are able to finish this, it would give us a certain level of maturity in addressing issues as a nation.” Premature In the Supreme Court, its spokesperson, Jose Midas Marquez, questioned the timing of the release of the survey results, noting that the defense had not yet even finished presenting its case. “First of all, it’s premature. The impeachment case is still pending. I don’t know exactly what the bases are of the respondents for saying that,” Marquez told reporters. “I hope it was not taken and released to influence the senator-judges to decide one way or the other. As I’ve said, the defense is not yet through with its presentation of its case,” he said. “Maybe, they should do the survey only after the trial,” he added.■


News-Phils Manila Bay plan splits Aguilars of Las Piñas Mayor rues sister Cynthia Villar’s SC petition against reclamation project BY MIKO MORELOS Philippine Daily Inquirer

“WHY WOULDN’T she bring this matter up with me rather than with the Supreme Court?” Las Piñas Mayor Vergel Aguilar expressed disappointment with the legal action taken by his sister, former Rep. Cynthia Villar, against a 635ha reclamation project which she said poses environmental threats to the city. “This is a local problem. She is my sister and she knows that she can talk to me directly,” Aguilar told the INQUIRER, as he cited the reasons why he was supporting the P14-billion Three Island Reclamation and Development Project. Aguilar said he had explained the potential economic benefits of the project to his constituents through a letter sent out to some 130,000 households last year. Villar, herself a major real estate developer together with husband, Sen. Manny Villar, asked the Supreme

Court last March 16 to stop the project—a proposed upscale residential, commercial and tourism estate— from rising next to the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area. Citing an environmental study by consultancy firm Tricore Solutions, Villar warned that the project would impede the natural flow of two rivers in the city, cause widespread flooding, and ruin the coastal ecotourism area which hosts a lagoon, a mangrove forest and a haven for migratory birds. Villar, who said the project would practically undo the river rehabilitation projects she pursued as a congresswoman, claimed that some 300,000 Las Piñas residents were behind her campaign. In an INQUIRER on March 19 interview, she said of her brother: “I hope he doesn’t take this personally because we are being professional about it.” But in a phone interview, Aguilar maintained that he wouldn’t sign anything that would put his people “in harm’s way.” He appealed to his sister and the project’s critics to give it a chance. Like his sibling, he also cited studies—by two Singapore-based firms— purportedly showing that the floods feared by Villar wouldn’t happen. The companies, Surbana International Consultants Pte. Ltd. and DHI Water and Environment Pte. Ltd., had conducted similar studies for reclamation

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projects in Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai, the mayor stressed. For Las Piñas, they recommended the dredging of Zapote River as a flood-control measure, among others, he noted. In a decade, the city’s average revenue now pegged at P1.5 billion a year could grow “tenfold” because of the development, he said, citing city government projections. The project may be the muchneeded “savior” that could raise income levels in Las Piñas, improve its social services, and transform this “bedroom city” into a new investment hub, he added. In the letter he sent out to the residents in November, Aguilar explained: “Today, we are making basic services possible because of frugal spending and of making the most of whatever we have.” “We have to keep up with the pace of modern development,” the mayor wrote. “If we don’t keep up or if we don’t devise away [to generate income], it will becomemore difficult for the next generation.” In the INQUIRER interview, Aguilar said he would not have given his approval to the project’s proponents “if they did not agree to our terms.” Villar petitioned the Supreme Court to issue a Writ of Kalikasan, a legal remedy similar to a temporary restraining order. ■

P-noy vows to go after ‘kotong’ cops

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BAGUIO CITY—WATCH out, “kotong” cops. The President is coming. President Aquino said during a visit to Baguio City over the weekend that he would personally go after “two or three” cops allegedly involved in bribery or extortion following complaints from transport workers. He said his administration was serious in its bid to help ease the plight of transport workers in the face of high oil prices and this was why he was addressing their complaints about alleged extortion activities of traffic enforcers. He said that, so far, law enforcement authorities had relieved, arrested or filed charges against 10 to 20 traffic enforcers for extortion. Mr. Aquino said he was told

the authorities had difficulty going after these “kotong” cops because there had been no complainants. Already, he said, he had talked to concerned agencies to remind them of the need for complainants to come out and report any police wrongdoing. “I might actually personally go after two or three that have been reported to me and I will be visiting (them) covertly soon to determine whether or not these particular enforcers are engaged in kotong activities,” he said. The President rejected proposals to reduce the 12-percent value-added tax (VAT) on oil—a suggestion to help people cope with high fuel prices—because he said pump prices would only go further up if fuel prices went down. “There is an economic reality that if something becomes cheaper, normally there will be more consumption of it. That is universal,” he said. ■


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TUESDAY MARCH 27, 2012

News-Phils

P-noy: Mining EO out soon; talks are on revenue share

BY CHRISTINE O. AVENDAÑO Philippine Daily Inquirer BAGUIO CITY—THE Aquino administration will soon come out with its mining policy as discussions now center on the government’s “fair” share of mining revenues. “We want to ensure we get a fair share,” President Aquino said, noting that one of the details being discussed by the government and stakeholders was “what represents fair” in terms of the government’s share from mining extractions by mining firms. Just recently, the President said Malacañang hosted a big meeting of various departments, agencies and

stakeholders to discuss the proposed mining policy. He said he had been following up on the progress of the discussions. “They tell me that they are very close to submitting it to me for final approval,” Mr. Aquino said of the much-awaited Executive Order that would spell out the government’s new mining policy. Speaking to Palace reporters at the Mansion— the official residence of the President here, Mr. Aquino reiterated that banning mining was not the solution and that the government would allow small scale mining. He also expressed the desire for the government to be part of the process of mining, as well as in “maximiz(ing) the

utility of the resource for our people.” He noted that, at present, the government only received a twopercent tax from mining firms extracting mineral resources from the ground. “The two percent takes care of everything that might happen if there is a disaster,” Mr. Aquino said as he noted that “those who remember” the Marinduque mining disaster of decades ago and “the promises that were made there are really very wary.” Asked if the government would follow Australia which has imposed a 30-percent tax on mining revenues, the President said there were even proposals for a 50-50 percent sharing of revenues between the government and mining firms. “But until I get the proposed changes in the (mining) policy and the reasoning behind each and every facet of this new policy, I feel it’s not proper for me to comment at this time. Because you are letting a lot of people work and then you will not take a look at their advice,” he said. Noting the complexity of the

issue, the President said there were many things still to consider in the crafting of the mining EO. These include a recent Department of Tourism input which identified 78 ecotourism sites “where we will not allow, in all probability, mining,” according to Mr. Aquino. “It will be too much of a risk, especially given the fact that they just reported that we’re on track to surpass the growth in tourism arrivals,” he said. Mining firms have been eagerly waiting for the EO to come out. Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje said earlier that expanding the implementation of the proposed 5-percent royalty under existing regulations for mines operating in mineral reservations and the proposed 5050 sharing of revenue were discussed. Paje noted that of 31 medium- and largescale mining companies, 11 were currently paying the 5-percent royalty on top of the 2 percent excise tax under existing laws. “The remaining major point of contention is on revenue-sharing,” Paje said. ■

PH to import 120,000 MT of rice BY KRISTINE L. ALAVE Philippine Daily Inquirer THE PHILIPPINES is expected to import rice from Vietnam or Thailand to boost its buffer stocks for the lean months, the National Food Authority (NFA) said last March 19. NFA administrator Angelito Banayo said the government planned to purchase 120,000 metric tons of rice from abroad to fill the shortfall in the 500,000 MT rice requirement for 2012. The NFA will bid out this year 380,000 metric tons of rice, which will be divided equally between farmers’ cooperatives and commercial rice traders. On March 19, the NFA bid out 190,000 Mtto commercial rice traders. The balance will be tendered next week for farmers’ cooperatives who want to import rice, officials said. “After the bidding, then the government will decide on the mode of procurement for the 120,000 MT,” Banayo said. Late last year, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said the government would not participate directly in the rice importation program this year but would leave it to the private sector.

Banayo said the government decided to import rice to ensure there would be enough buffer stocks during the lean months from July to September. He noted that the Philippines could buy rice under a government-togovernment contract, the same mode of procurement it used when it imported about 220,000 MT of rice last year. The Philippines, Banayo said, has agreements with Vietnam and Thailand to buy rice at preferential rates. Alcala said Cambodia, another rice exporter, had also offered to sell its rice to the Philippines. Officials said the government had to protect its buffer stocks to keep the price of rice stable. The 500,000 MT requirement for 2012 is 42 percent less than the amount of rice imported in 2011, which was set at 860,000 MT. Banayo said the total rice importation for 2012 would cover the Philippines’ buffer needs for 20-21 days by June 30. To fill the 30-day mandated buffer requirement, the NFA will buy rice from local farmers, he said. The reduced rice import volume is part of the Aquino administration’s goal of making the country self-sufficient in the staple by 2013. ■

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TUESDAY MARCH 27, 2012 10

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Miriam spells out winning tacks for prosecution, defense Santiago noted that in the Philippine Antigraft Commission v. Pleyto, the Supreme Court held that “failure to (properly disclose) is not SEN. MIRIAM Defensor-santiago last March dishonesty but only simple negligence. The court had doubts that the SALN was 19 spelled out the gut issue as the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona heads for a inaccurate but went on to distinguish among gross misconduct, dishonesty and negligence.” Lenten break. Santiago said prosecutors would win their case if they convinced senator-judges that Corona Gross misconduct deliberately committed dishonesty and gross Santiago, a former Quezon City trial judge, misconduct when he omitted several properties said the high tribunal pointed out that reliable in his statement of assets, liabilities and net evidence indicating an accused intended to violate the law and showed persistent disregard worth (SALN). But if Corona’s lawyers could show that he did of legal rules would prove gross misconduct. “That is what you have to prove,” she told not act in bad faith when he omitted specifically the dollar accounts being questioned in his prosecutors. Dishonesty, on the other hand, constitutes false SALN, the Chief Justice would be acquitted, she statement of material fact while negligence is an said. “You now have your work cut out for you,” “omission of diligence required by the nature of Santiago told the prosecution and defense panels obligation,” Santiago explained. on Day 31 of the trial. “Prosecution, show the intent to commit Dishonesty dishonesty and you have won your case ... “Gross misconduct and dishonesty are serious Defense, show that your client has acted in good charges which warrant the removal of a public faith and declared in his SALN all deposits, both officer. This must be supported by substantial peso and dollar. If he did not, why not,” she said. evidence. The prosecution has to show at least … BY CATHY C. YAMSUAN Philippine Daily Inquirer

that omission or misdeclaration was deliberately intended by the defendant,” she added. The senator said another Supreme Court ruling on Office of the Ombudsman v. Racho found the accused guilty of dishonesty for nondisclosure of bank deposits in his SALN. “A note of caution to the defense: Has your client disclosed all bank deposits (including) peso and dollars? If he did not, under this ruling, your client is guilty,” she said. Santiago then cited a third case, Carabeo v. Court of Appeals, in which the accused, an acting treasurer of Parañaque City, was investigated for traveling out of the country 15 times and acquiring several properties. “The defense said (Corona) can simply correct statements he made in his SALN. In the Supreme Court case, the defendant charged with violation of the Anti-graft and Corrupt Practices Act and the Revised Penal Code failed to show the correction. Sen. Joker Arroyo then asked: “Is a correctible offense an impeachable offense? Offhand, I am thinking, we don’t have precedents. We don’t have a law that allows corrections. I am raising this question for both sides to study.” ■

Bishop to faithful: Dress up for God PH, Sokor make marriage sweeter BY GIL CABACUNGAN The Philippine Daily Inquirer

THE RISING temperatures should not be an excuse to go to church wearing skimpy, stringy clothes. A Catholic bishop advised churchgoers, especially the youth, not to attend Holy Mass wearing flimsy summer outfits at the onset of the hot weather. “I think the Lord deserves more than simply shorts and sneakers,” Legazpi Bishop Joel Baylon, chair of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission on Youth, told reporters in a recent interview. Baylon said that if one could dress to impress a boss or a VIP, he or she could also do so for God. “It’s just a matter of propriety,” he said. The prelate noted that Filipinos seemed to have picked up the habit of wearing “comfortable clothes” to church from western culture. “Some people in the United States are like that ... I personally experienced that because I studied there during the 1980s,” said Baylon. “They wear comfortable clothes because after the Holy Mass they would go on a picnic. It seems that we’ve also been influenced here.” He said today’s fashions had blurred the meaning of formality, making people become “so practical and pragmatic” in

the way they dress. “Some people think that certain clothes are formal, which in the eyes of some are not,” he said. Because more churchgoers are attending Mass in too revealing clothes, some churches, at least in the capital, have strictly imposed dress codes, prohibiting sandos, jersey shorts, skimpy skirts and shorts, sleeveless blouses and tops with plunging necklines. While God doesn’t impose on the faithful what to wear in church “because He knows it’s what’s inside our hearts that counts,” Baylon said one must still be aware of what they wear. “There are clothes appropriate for certain occasions,” the prelate pointed out. Baylon said the Lord was so simple that he manifested Himself to the people in the form of “very simple things”—like bread and wine. “But we take for granted this bread and wine ... but that is the Lord. He is the author and source of everything and everything that we are,” he said. Dressing appropriately for Mass is also an indication of how one takes seriously his or her encounter with God, he said. “My advice, especially to the youth, is to be worthy to stand before God’s presence not only internally but externally as well,” he said. ■

BY GIL CABACUNGAN The Philippine Daily Inquirer

THE PHILIPPINES and South Korea have forged an agreement aimed at protecting and promoting the welfare of the more than 9,000 Filipinos married to nationals of the north Asian country, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Cooperation in Developing Capacities for the Resettlement and Adaptation of Filipino Marriage Immigrants was signed on March 13 in Seoul by Imelda Nicolas, chair of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO), and Minister Kim Kum-lae of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family. Consul General Sylvia Marasigan of the Philippine Embassy in the

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South Korean capital and Cherry Joy Veniles, another CFO official, were present at the signing of the pact. In a statement, Nicolas noted that “there are over 9,000 Filipinos, mostly women, who are married to South Korean nationals.” “Both countries see the integration of Filipino marriage migrants into South Korean society as a way to ensure the protection of their human rights and to support their empowerment. The less they adapt to Korean life, the less empowered they become as migrants, workers, wives and mothers. This needs to be addressed comprehensively and creatively,” Nicolas said. According to the CFO head, the agreement “demonstrates the strong partnership between our two nations and emphasizes our joint commitment to respond to this challenge.” ■


News-Phils Power woes attributed to DOE inaction Robredo exposé questioned A 11

TUESDAY MARCH 27 2012

BY GIL C. CABACUNGAN Philippine Daily Inquirer

“LAWMAKERS FROM Mindanao have castigated Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras for failing to address the island’s acute power shortage despite his commitment to undertake projects to boost the capacity of hydropower plants there. Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said he and 30 other lawmakers from Mindanao were “venting their anger” at Almendras who had been apprised of the dire power supply problem as early as the third quarter of 2010 but had yet to implement the remedies he promised. The House of Representatives held a meeting with energy officials last week, which Almendras snubbed. Mindanao has a power supply deficit of 180 to 400 megawatts that could have been easily addressed by Almendras had he fulfilled to dredge the Agus and Pulangui rivers, Rodriguez said in an interview. The move would have boosted capacity of Agus hydroelectric complex by at least 150 MW, he added. Rodriguez said Mindanao officials had also urged Rodriguez to repair the four barges that would have added a combined 120 Mwto the island. “We want to know why he refused to dredge the rivers or repair the barges,” the lawmaker said. “We already know as early as 2010 what would would happen to the energy supply, yet he did not take action for no apparent reason.” Aside from the hydropower and barges, Rodriguez said Almendras should have intervened to facilitate the reopening of the diesel power plant of Iligan Steel Corp., which could have added another 130 MW to the supply.

Bus fares cut in Northern Mindanao

“I do not know why he did not lift even a finger to ask the COA (Commission on Audit) to allow the start of operation of the diesel plant in Iligan because of the power shortfall,” he said. He said that while Almendras had done nothing to resolve the power crisis, private owners of power barges in Mindanao were making a killing as they were selling power for P14 per kilowatt-hour or four times the P3.50 per kwh rate for hydropower. Rodriguez said the lawmakers were open to longerterm solutions to Mindanao’s chronic power supply problems brought about by its dependence on cheap hydropower which has become more unreliable with the changing weather patterns brought about by climate change. A Catholic bishop also joined calls for the government to immediately find solution to the ongoing rotational brownouts in certain parts of Mindanao. Basilan Bishop Martin Jumoad lamented that the frequent power interruptions had already affected the daily lives of residents and had even taken its toll on house appliances. “Due to the blackouts, most appliances are destroyed and many things are affected,” Jumoad told reporters when reached by phone yesterday. He said electric fans were among the many household appliances that had broken down due to the steady brownouts since early this year. Jumoad, however, said he was thankful that the power interruptions had not yet affected the attendance of the faithful in Sunday Masses. “Church attendance is OK because the people are already getting used to the brownouts,” he said. “[But] I hope the government may find solution to this problem,” he stressed. Last week, the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines announced that the Mindanao grid lacked 178 MW, an increase of 40 MW from the 138 Mwshortfall on Feb. 22. It attributed the increase in power supply deficiency to the 38-MW drop in available capacity from 1,117 Mwon Feb. 22 to 1,079 Mwlast week. Several electric organizations in Mindanao have already urged lawmakers to conduct an inquiry into the frequent power interruptions. ■

BY PAOLO G. MONTECILLO Philippine Daily Inquirer

TRANSPORT AUTHORITIES have reduced bus fares in Northern Mindanao to help residents recover from the damage caused by Tropical Storm “Sendong,” which hit the region in December last year. The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) released an order to cut the fares as it acted on a petition filed by a bus company, Rural Transit (Mindanao) Inc., which applied for voluntary

BY GIL CABACUNGAN The Philippine Daily Inquirer

LAWMAKERS last March 19 questioned the motive of Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo in exposing the allegedly bloated budget for the construction of police stations and purchase of patrol uniforms. Antipolo Rep. Romeo Acop said Robredo should have disclosed the PNP’S problems to the public only after exhausting all means to resolve them. They should “discuss the issues within their own sphere,” he added. “The PNP is directly under his agency. Everything that happens there is his responsibility. So why does he need to squeal on them in the media?” said Zambales Rep. Milagros Magsaysay. Last week, Robredo was reported to have criticized the PNP for an alleged overprice in the construction cost of police stations by P1.6 million each and in the cost of 90,000 pairs of patrol boots and shirts by P60 million. PNP Director General Nicanor Bartolome said the lower amount quoted by Robredo as the average cost of a municipal police station was an “isolated case” but Robredo rejected his explanation. Bartolome had said that building a station outside an urban area was cheaper. Magsaysay said Robredo’s job was not to make exposés like investigative journalists but to offer solutions as one of the administration’s top executives. “People expect results— not just lip service. If he ( Robredo) cannot address the issues within his own agency or that of the offices under his agency, then the President should replace him, or he’d better resign,” said Magsaysay. “There might be demoralization in the PNP, especially if they see their own supervisor or commander embarrassing them in public,” said Acop. ■

reduction for the key Cagayan de Oro-iligan corridor and other outlying routes. Signed unanimously by LTFRB Chair Jaime Jacob and members Manuel Iway and Samuel Garcia, the order said the petition “was grounded mainly on humanitarian and charitable consideration.” “The horrendous death toll and unfathomable destruction of property bespeaks the gravity of victims’ affliction to date,” it added. Fares for air-conditioned buses plying the Cdo-iligan route will be cut to P85, down by 45 percent

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from the current P145. Fares for ordinary buses will also be lowered by 41 percent to P70 per passenger from the current P120. The LTFRB said that while it was conscious of the rights of public transport operators to make profit from the services they provide, the interest of commuters would be the bigger priority. The reduction in fares was opposed by Super 5, a bus firm owned by a certain Paul Padayhag. But the board said it could not refuse any voluntary assistance to help ease the impact of the disaster.■


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Tribe shows way to save rare dolphins

BY KRISTINE L. ALAVE Philippine Daily Inquirer

THE TAGBANUA people may be obscure and small, but their indigenous practices could pull Irrawaddy dolphins in Malampaya Sound in Palawan back from the brink of extinction. Over the years, destructive fishing practices have depleted the population of Irrawaddy dolphins ( Orcaella brevirostris) in the waters of northwest Palawan, according to a study by the Philippine chapter of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). The population of the marine mammals in Malampaya Sound, one of two areas in the country where they are found, has plummeted to 42 from 77 in 2001, according to the environmental group. The other habitat is in Central Visayas. Joel Palma, a WWF conservationist, said up to seven dolphins were dying every year, tangled up in fishing nets and traps used by fishermen in Malampaya Sound, an ecologically rich region that has coral reefs, sea grass beds, mangroves and lowland forests. The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources has classified the Irrawaddy dolphins as critically endangered—the highest risk category for any animal species. There are only about 6,000 Irrawaddy dolphins left worldwide, the WWF said. It would be nearly impossible to replenish their population in Malampaya Sound if the number drops below 40. The WFF has called for a change in fishing practices and urged local communities to follow the sustainable fishing methods of the Tagbanua. The tribe’s fishing practices have shown “how people can steward nature without destroying it,” the group said. Not only would this help curb dolphin deaths but it would also preserve the ecosystem of the resource-rich waters. “Everything is interlinked— the survival of the Irrawaddy dolphins and the conservation of Malampaya Sound are dependent on the economy and the culture of its own stewards,” Palma said. “Dolphins are top-tier predators and their presence indicates the soaring health of local marine ecosystems. Should the dolphins be pushed into extinction, Malampaya Sound’s rich fishing industry might crash as well,” he added. Selective harvesting Raoul Cola, who studied the indigenous practices of the Tagbanua for the WWF in his book “Conserving Nature As Lifeways,” which was published last week, said the tribe conserved marine resources using extraction schedule and selective harvesting.

The Tagbanua people catch certain fish species based on the position of the moon or the tide. They also share their catch among neighbors and relatives, avoiding wastage and overfishing. Their methods do not have a heavy impact on the environment and provide time for resource restoration, Cola said. The Tagbanuas show the important role that indigenous peoples play in the protection of the threatened but highly biodiverse areas they call home. Mavic Matillano, who was in charge of the Irrawaddy study completed in 2007, said the tribe’s sustainable practices were rooted in its belief that nature must be respected. Messengers of deity In the Tagbanua mythical belief system, for instance, dolphins are messengers of the deity and should not be caught. “For them, the dolphins are bearer of good tidings and are also the omen of something bad that will happen like typhoons or calamities, depending on the behavior of the animal,” Matillano said. “That, in a way made the lumad [non-muslim indigenous peoples in Mindanao] also believe that when you hurt a dolphin, something bad may happen to you,” she added. But as time went on and migrants settled in the sound, the Tagbanua’s indigenous practices were replaced by modern fishing methods that rapidly depleted resources. Migrant fishermen use longline traps and fishing nets which they leave overnight to catch crabs and fishes, the WWF said. Because the traps and nets are underwater and are difficult to detect by echolocation, the dolphins find themselves trapped in the lines and unable to surface for air. “The dolphins could not breathe so they drowned,” Palma said. Dolphins are not the only species whose populations have declined. Market-driven “Although the Sound was long recognized as a fish basket of the country, its production noticeably decreased. It cannot keep up with the market-driven harvesting of the settlers and commercial fishers,” Cola said in his study. WWF officials said the most important thing to do right now was to change the fishing practices of the coastal communities there. The group and Cola pointed to the Tagbanua fishing practices as a model of sustainable practice. The WWF has urged the communities to switch to individual traps and safe fishing gear. Palma said the change had led to a dramatic decrease in mortality rates, with only one or two dolphin casualties in a year. Share Instead of a market-driven harvesting, fishermen in Malampaya Sound are urged to share and schedule their marine harvest. Cola also advocated the use of simple technologies that do not disrupt the ecosystem and the establishment

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of no-touch zones. “Based on the principle of the interconnection, not only of ecosystems but also of the natural, social and spiritual worlds, these strategies demonstrate that the world view of the users molds their environment and defines the prospect of its sustainability,” he said. The WWF said hewing closely to the Tagbanua practices was just one step in preserving the dolphin population in Malampaya Sound. The WWF communications manager, Gregg Yan, noted that no private or public body was investing in the conservation of Irrawaddy dolphins in the Philippines. “We urgently need a localized species-conservation strategy for these beleaguered dolphins. To effectively implement this plan, the WWF needs to coordinate closely with the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources), BFAR (Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources), LGUS (local government units) and other stakeholders,” he said. “But the first step is to find a funder,” Yan said. He said immediate action was necessary to secure the future of this population. “Otherwise, the population will become so small that conservation efforts are effectively futile.”■

Palace shopping for cars for P-noy, visiting VIPS BY JASMINE W. PAYO Philippine Daily Inquirer

BAGUIO CITY—malacañang is now scouting around for brand new vehicles for President Aquino and foreign dignitaries who are expected to arrive in the country this month. President Aquino told Palace reporters on the night of March 18 that the government needed to provide state visitors with topnotch vehicles, even as he expected to meet with a number of VIPS, including the Emir of Kuwait. “There are a number of visitors bringing substantial investments and if we cannot transport them from point A to point B safely, I think it reflects on our capacity to ensure that investments are worthwhile here,” Mr. Aquino said. He said that while the presidential car, a black Mercedes Benz he inherited from his predecessor, had been repaired after being damaged by Tropical Storm “Ondoy” in 2009, there were no guarantees it would remain in good working condition. The President said any new bullet-proof cars assigned to him would also be used by visiting foreign dignitaries who visit the country and bring business. “I dread a situation wherein a vehicle transporting a state visitor from Naia to Malacañang suddenly suffers a mechanical breakdown on Roxas Boulevard and we have to concoct a story about watching the sunset to transfer him to another car,” he said, adding that the country’s dignity was also at stake. ■


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Opinion

TUESDAY MARCH 27 2012

THERE’S THE RUB

Annoying BY CONRADO DE QUIROS Philippine Daily Inquirer “NOYNOYING” IS how the students call it, the art of doing nothing. It has found itself in Wikipedia, the entry probably submitted by its practitioners themselves, and is defined as “an effortless pose, or activity consisting of sitting or standing around, in an unconcerned manner.” The youthful demonstrators have been doing— or not doing?—it of late. In lieu of shouting their heads off or doing things calculated to provoke antiriot cops, they’ve been lying on the streets, sitting and yawning, and affecting various poses of repose and/or expressions of boredom. Give them credit for creativity. But it’s a horrendous contretemps. At the very least it’s terribly unfortunate because it’s coming from a camp that supported Manny Villar in the last presidential election. That doesn’t just raise questions about the impartiality of the criticism, it raises questions about the quality of thinking of a group whose radicalism has now been reduced to radically going to bed with exponents of trapo politics. What are they saying? Had Villar won, he would have brought down oil prices, built houses for the masa, plucked the poor from drowning in a churning flood of blight and garbage? Had Villar won, would they have cried out, “Manny is the root of all evil”? But more than that, it’s so because it comes at a particularly bad time, which is in the thick of the impeachment trial of Renato Corona. My

unstinting support for P-noy in recent months, after being critical of him last year, owes to the fact that he is the one president who has showed an overwhelming resolve to fight corruption. No other president has done so, not even Cory. If people, like myself, had wondered whether or not “’ pag walang corrupt, walang mahirap” was just a campaign line, his actions since stopping Gloria Macapagal-arroyo from leaving the country last November would have put it to rest. He is so determined to bring Arroyo to justice he has taken on the very institutions that stand in the way of it. The Supreme Court is one of them. Renato Corona is chief of them. It’s a pretty heroic effort, it’s a pretty epic undertaking. Which is what makes “Noynoying” particularly out of sync. Which is what makes “Noynoying” particularly out of tune. Or as the Tagalog puts it, sintunado. Unless, of course, which is really what makes it worse, the argument is that fighting corruption is either irrelevant or superficial in light of “more important, more vital, more urgent things to do.” That merely falls into the trap of the Arroyo camp’s own line of defense for her, or line of offense against P-noy. That’s what they’ve been saying all this time: P-noy has been so obsessed with prosecuting Arroyo—or indeed persecuting Arroyo—he has forgotten everything else. Everything else including improving the economy, including rescuing the poor from their dire straits. Better Arroyo who, whatever her faults, steered the economy

to safe harbor amid the stormy seas of a global recession. That alone should show what’s so wrong with it: You end up with those delusions. No, more than that, you end up with the proposition that life was so much better during Marcos’ time than Cory’s, during Arroyo’s time than P-noy’s. When in fact no two leaders more devastated the economy than Marcos and Arroyo, no two leaders more made the poor desperate, never mind poorer, than Marcos and Arroyo, no two leaders more plucked the morsel the hungry were shoving into their mouths than Marcos and Arroyo. The argument springs from two premises, both fallacies. One is that fighting corruption takes away from fighting poverty. Two is that fighting corruption is not as important as fighting poverty. Why should fighting corruption take away from fighting poverty? It is the sine qua non of it. It is the one thing that guarantees it. How else will you have government officials who bother to think about the poor if the prevalence of corruption encourages them to think only of how they may profit from their positions? How else will you entice investors, other than the thoroughly unsavory kind who wouldn’t mind colluding with crooked officials to despoil the land and people, when you are asking them to entrust their money with crooks? How else will you get the people to agree to tighten their belts, or make enormous sacrifices for the common

good, if they see that the good is by no means common, it goes only to a few, the bad is the only thing so common to them it is their lot in life? Corruption isn’t just stealing money, it is a culture that seeps through every pore of public life and poisons it. It is the culture of impunity that says that crime does pay, good guys finish last, honesty is the best way to starve your family. It is a culture that sees government as a return on investment, you did not spend a fortune to become a senator or congressman or hustle your way to a position in the Cabinet or the Supreme Court just so you could earn public-servant pay while enjoying the privilege of serving the people. It is a culture of lying, cheating, and stealing, and if necessary murdering to secure power and cling to it. How in heaven’s name can you even begin to think to fight poverty, never mind taking the first step in that direction, in that toxic atmosphere, in that alien planet? What on earth could be more important than stopping that? Of course impeaching Corona won’t solve everything, of course prosecuting Gloria won’t solve everything. Why should they? But they’ll go a long way toward solving a great many things. Not least of them improving the economy, not least of them lessening poverty. It is the first step in the journey of a thousand miles. The others are just going in circles. The others are just stepping backward. The others are just, well, annoying. ■

of Jose Rizal. Then I remembered Angara saying: “The 1812 Cadiz Constitution embodied the liberal ideals that were spreading across Europe after the French Revolution. It primarily upheld equality before the law, which in due course gave the impetus for the intellectual leaders of the Philippines, and Spanish colonies in the Americas, to agitate for independence.” When I saw Philippine Ambassador to Spain Carlos Salinas later that evening, I said that unveiling a bronze bust of Rizal in this park would be something he could probably work out with the mayor of Cadiz and the honorary Philippine consul in Cadiz. The Cadiz Constitution was drafted against the backdrop of Napoleon’s invasion of Spain. Napoleon kept the legitimate Spanish king, Fernando VII, a prisoner in France and installed his brother, Joseph Bonaparte, as king of Spain and the Indies. The Spaniards did not take to their French king, so that when news of this arrived in Manila via Mexico, donations were collected for a fund to fight the French. An extraordinary Cortes was established in Cadiz that included elected representatives of all the Spanish colonies, with Ventura de los Reyes of Vigan as the Philippine representative. This extraordinary Cortes issued laws and decrees in the name of Ferdinand VII, “in his absence and captivity.” It took a while for Ventura de los Reyes to arrive in Cadiz from Manila, so the Philippines

was represented by his deputies: Pedro Perez de Tagle and Dr. Jose Manuel Couto. Soon after his arrival in Spain on Dec. 6, 1811, De los Reyes attended sessions where it is said that he checked out the delegate from Guatemala to prove to everyone that they did not sport horns and a tail! (Remember the American racist song “The Monkeys have no tails in Zamboanga”?) We do not know whether there was a selfish motive in his proposal to reduce Philippine representation from 25 to two delegates, on grounds that this was expensive for the colony and the long trip from Manila to Spain was difficult for those elected to the Cortes like him. The Cadiz Constitution was enacted on March 19, 1812, in the Oratorio de San Felipe. It being the feast of San Jose, the constitution was given the nickname “La Pepa” (the nickname for Jose is “Pepe,” and its feminine form is “Pepa”). It took a year for La Pepa to be made public and proclaimed in Manila in April 1813. Textbook history does not tell us: that Joseph Bonaparte was once king of the Philippines; that we were part of the 1812 Cadiz Constitution; that La Pepa was signed by a 70-yearold businessman from Vigan named Ventura de los Reyes; that a short-lived constitution, twice enacted and twice thrown out, was like a seed planted in Spain’s overseas colonies that later grew into independent nations. ■

LOOKING BACK

‘La Pepa’ BY AMBETH OCAMPO Philippine Daily Inquirer CADIZ, SPAIN—THE Philippine Constitution of 1987 is taken up in Hekasi (high school), and in Philippine history and political sciences courses (college) without a corresponding study of the various constitutions we have had in the past. If at all, passing reference is made to the 1897 Biakna-bato Constitution; the 1898 Malolos Constitution that was actually drafted in nearby Barasoain; the 1935 Constitution in force during the Philippine Commonwealth; and finally the 1973 Constitution in force during the martial law years until the Marcos years were finally ended by the 1986 Edsa revolt. Most Filipinos don’t even know that Feb. 8 is Philippine Constitution Day because it isn’t a nonworking holiday. I remember our high school teacher going through the Constitution and emphasizing the Bill of Rights to bored students who were nevertheless sharp enough to know that this was legal fiction because anyone suspected of being against the Marcos regime had no rights. Students were made to memorize the Bill of Rights with the knowledge that this would be ignored by any abusive policeman or soldier one would be unlucky to encounter. Little wonder there was no attempt to trace our Constitution to the very first one that was enacted in Cadiz on March 19, 1812, signed

by a delegate from the Philippines, Ventura de los Reyes, a name left out of textbook history. I was prompted to look back to the Cadiz Constitution when Sen. Edgardo Angara informed me of the bicentennial celebrations being held in Spain this month. He explained: “This is a momentous event in the history of Spain and for her former colonies as it is from the same well that our collective thoughts and notions of liberty, social justice, and civil rights sprang.” When I accepted Angara’s invitation to join him in Cadiz, I forgot that the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona at the Senate was just starting to heat up; thus, I ended up in Spain, with two support staff, as his representative. Upon arrival, I was proud to see the Philippine flag flying alongside those of the Ibero-american nations whose histories were influenced by the Cadiz Constitution. The Philippines is not part of the Iberoamerican world because we are in Asia and do not speak Spanish anymore, but our shared colonial history provides a link that justifies our observer status in this group. As I walked aimlessly around the historic center of Cadiz during the free afternoon, I came across a beautifully landscaped park with a postcard-pretty view of the sea. There I saw busts of the revolutionary leaders of what was once Spanish America and noticed the conspicuous absence of that

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Opinion

TUESDAY MARCH 27, 2012 14

A

PUBLIC LIVES

Endgame

BY RANDY DAVID Philippine Daily Inquirer

IT’S BEEN two months since the historic impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato C. Corona began. Week 8 opened with the defense panel taking its turn to offer its own evidence. The public had waited for this with much anticipation. Days before, Mr. Corona hopped from one radio-tv program to another to announce that all questions about his properties will now be answered, including his supposed dollar deposits. But what a great disappointment the week has been. Government functionaries were presented to testify that Mr. Corona was earning more than a simple look at his monthly salary might indicate, and that the figures he declared in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) are consistent with the official “assessed value” of his real estate assets. But the one question that remained unanswered is why he omitted the much higher acquisition price at which his condo units were bought. For such properties, “acquisition value” seems a more truthful measure of net worth. Indeed, there is a column for this in the SALN form but, year after year, the Chief Justice left it blank. It is no excuse to say that such information is anyway available in other public documents like deeds of sale and income tax returns. If that were a valid reason, then the whole SALN requirement itself would be superfluous.

I’m often asked how this impeachment process will end. My answer has been: I don’t know. Politics is anything but predictable. As I have argued in past columns, impeachment is basically a political exercise that takes on the form of a judicial process. The purpose of the trial is not to determine whether or not to send an accused person to jail. Its sole purpose is to determine whether a top public official who occupies a position of trust is fit to remain in office. The individuals assigned to discharge this function are not from the judiciary. They are senators—political representatives of the people—who, whether they like it or not, have to be attuned to public opinion. The last time a public official was tried by the Senate impeachment court was in 2001. Who would have known that the trial of President Joseph Ejercito Estrada would end the way it did? The trial came to an abrupt halt when the House prosecutors stormed out of the session hall, after a majority of the senators voted to block the opening of an envelope believed to contain bank records damaging to Estrada. Had it been allowed to run its course, the trial would have ended in Estrada’s acquittal. The voting on the crucial “second envelope” gave a good indication of that. The collapse of the trial triggered a civilian-military uprising that subsequently unseated the incumbent president. The endgame for the Corona trial is no less uncertain. Although Senate President Juan

Ponce Enrile has vowed to see the process to its end, many unforeseen events can happen. An adverse procedural ruling, for example, can spark a similar uproar. It may goad the Supreme Court to intervene at a crucial moment, invoking its power of judicial review. The resulting impasse may pave the way for a compromise in order to avert a constitutional crisis. The one who wears the crown might then offer to make the supreme sacrifice of resigning, without admitting any of the charges. If that happens, would the process still continue? Most likely not. But a scenario like this obviously does not unfold by itself. It requires the shuttling back and forth of political agents who are adept at arbitrating the recurrent crises of elite politics. They need time to do their work. And what better time is there than the season of spiritual contemplation that is coming up with the onset of Holy Week? For the actors in this trial, it is a good time not only for prayer but also for a clear-eyed assessment of where they stand and how much further they can press their case without straining the public’s credulity and patience. If there is any chance for anything like this, the best time for it to happen will have to be before Mrs. Corona, or Mr. Corona himself, takes the witness stand. Their appearance in the impeachment court will definitely take the process to an altogether different plane. It will set off its own dynamics. It is difficult

to predict how each of the 23 senator-judges will make use of the situation. We do not know either how the Coronas will handle moments of in-your-face impudence. In a personalistic culture like ours, I can only assume that the injury will be incalculable, leaving little room for a negotiated exit. But, if Chief Justice Corona is confident that he has nothing to be defensive about, then total transparency will be his best ally. He should take the witness stand himself at the very first hour, and not allow his lawyers to waste the time of the court in unproductive meandering. He only needs to convince eight senators that he has not betrayed the public trust or done anything improper or illegal that can reasonably be regarded as impeachable— in order for him to keep his office. But this is not as easy as it might seem. He is starting not from a neutral point, but from a position of negative public esteem. He lost public sympathy when, against all good sense, he accepted a midnight appointment as chief justice from a despised outgoing president who had been his abiding political patron. And so, beyond proving he did not steal any money or cheat on his taxes, his is the burden of showing that he is a man of integrity, good faith and temperance—qualities that will make him truly worthy of being the country’s chief magistrate. That is the only conceivable endgame that can help him win. ■

VIEWPOINT

Legal ‘schizo’

BY JUAN L. MERCADO Philippine Daily Inquirer “TOMORROW BELONGS to the people who prepare for it today,” African sages counsel. What will a post-renato Corona Supreme Court look like? The transition is inevitable. Will it come sooner, not later? How? No one can foresee how 23 senator-judges of differing values and experience will vote. “The heart of man and the bottom of the sea are unfathomable.” The perspectives of a Ferdinand Marcos Jr. differ from that of, say, a Sen. Joker Arroyo. Before he donned a judge’s toga, “Bongbong” tracked his late father’s cronies. Lucio Tan and others absconded with martial law loot, he griped. Arroyo led the prosecution in President Joseph Estrada’s impeachment. “We cannot have a country run by a thief,” Arroyo said in his December 2000 opening statement. “On trial today… is not just Corona,” wrote Institute for Studies in Church and Culture’s Perla Melba Maggay. “Also in the dock are senatorjudges, media, our democratic system—and our capacity as a nation to pursue justice and put closure to sins of the past…. “Filipinos are personalistic,” she added. “What seems to work (are) personal connections and an intricate network of loyalties based on interconnected interests and kinship.” This pressures the formal system. It exposes “the lack of fit between the formal adjudication system and

the realities of our political culture. Impeachment (must) fulfill the substance of the law, not just the appearance,” Maggay stressed. “The letter kills,” says the Apostle Paul. We must “make accountability work within the constitutional remedies available to us,” Maggay stated. “Usual circumventing of the law will force our people to take to the streets as the only recourse available to them.” Many citizens deploy guesswork-beyondtealeaves in Corona’s impeachment. What do strained faces of witnesses mean, we wonder. Torrents of legal minutiae swamp us. “You tithe mint, dill and cummin but neglect the weightier matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness,” an itinerant Teacher once said. Monday to Thursdays, we hold our breaths as Corona’s defense panel juggle Jekyll and Hyde positions. At media blitzes, Corona vows complete “transparency.” But he balks at revealing all his bank accounts. He shrugs off suggestions by senator-judges that he voluntarily testify; his lawyers offer instead: How about Ms Cristina Corona taking the stand? “There are really bank accounts under his name,” a peeved Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile told INQUIRER. “(They should) get to the point. And let’s finish this case.” See this legal schizophrenia in the context of then President Gloria Macapagal-arroyo’s “sowdragon-teeth” exit strategy, now in tatters. In Greek mythology, Jason scattered teeth of the dragon slain at the spring of Arbes. And

from them rose warriors who battled for him. The phrase now means systematic fomenting of disputes. GMA’S bids for term extension sputtered. Before leaving Malacañang, she arranged to run for Congress and installed scores of “midnight appointees.” These “dragon teeth” warriors were to beat back sleaze accusations. The Arroyos were confident this rampart wouldn’t buckle. “Mama” would even seek to become Speaker of the House, Rep. Mikey Arroyo announced. “Every path has its puddle,” an English proverb says. President Carlos Garcia’s 350 midnight nominees were fired the day Diosdado Macapagal took his oath as eighth Philippine president. “Cong Dadong” tripled “midnighters” to 1,717 when he left the Palace with young daughter Gloria in tow. Gmaoutdid Dad. President-elect Benigno Aquino III fired Delfin Bangit, named Armed Forces chief of staff by GMA to overshoot her own term by 11 months. He cashiered reappointed Pagcor officials who paid P1.7 billion for 10 million cups of coffee. GMA rehired Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez for a term that sliced deeply into President Aquino’s watch. Gutierrez quit April 2011, a month after the House of Representatives impeached her for coddling the Arroyos’ interests. Consider former Chief Justice Manuel Moran’s delicadeza, INQUIRER’S Solita Monsod suggested when news leaked that Corona would be named chief justice. After serving as ambassador,

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Moran declined a midnight reappointment. “Leave that to the incoming president,” he demurred. Moran’s example was institutionalized into the 1987 Constitution. It sees an outgoing president as caretaker and explicitly barred midnight appointments. No exceptions. The Arroyo Court handcuffed President-elect Aquino. In a 9-3-1 vote, the tribunal exempted a chief justice from the ban. That’s a prohibited amendment by judicial tinkering, observed Ateneo’s Joaquin Bernas. Corona would be a de-facto chief justice, not legit, former Sen. Rene Saguisag warned. Corona scurried to don a chief justice’s robe. Among “dragon teeth” battlers, only Corona is left. GMA is detained on election sabotage cases. That reduces impeachment to its gut issue: Does Corona meet the standards required of a chief justice? “It’s all about character,” businessman Peter Wallace writes. “Corona does not meet the high standards demanded of the position. But if the trial continues to its end whatever the outcome, I can’t imagine how he can remain as chief justice…. It would certainly put the Supreme Court in a continually questionable position.” Corona never pretended to be a Thomas More. Credit him with brains. He knows the story of the ghostly finger that traced on the walls of King Nebuchadnezzar’s palace: Mene, Mene, Tekel u-parshin. “You have been weighed in the balance and found wanting.” ■


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TUESDAY MARCH 27 2012

Business-Phils

SMC food arm investing P2.5B in grains terminal in Batangas BY DORIS C. DUMLAO Philippine Daily Inquirer

LOCAL FOOD giant San Miguel Purefoods Co. Inc. is investing P2.5 billion in a bulk grains terminal in Mabini, Batangas. The move is aimed at controlling production costs, protecting operating margins and boosting overall profit. In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange last March 19, Purefoods said the new terminal, which would be operational by the fourth quarter of 2013, was located close to the company’s two flour mills in Batangas. “Because of the terminal’s proximity to seaports, freight costs for the flour and feeds milling operations are expected to significantly decrease,” the company said in the disclosure. The food subsidiary of diversifying conglomerate San Miguel Corp. expects payback from this new terminal in seven years. Other initiatives mapped out by Purefoods to temper cost pressures are the following: • Adopt an “asset light” model whereby most farms, breeding and grow-out facilities, feed mills and processing plants are contracted to third parties to minimize investments, achieve more flexibility in capacity expansion, lower labor costs and enable staff to focus on core competencies • Look for ways to enhance productivity in raw materials use such as by using cassava as a substitute to corn. It has contracted 50,000 hectares for cassava production which can supply 200,000 metric tons per year, which the company plans to double in the next five years. The substitution of cassava for corn allowed the company to save P500 million in 2011.

• Replace the meat production capacity lost by subsidiary The Purefoods-hormel Co. in September 2009 when Typhoon Ondoy hit Metro Manila. Much of the lost capacity has been recovered through a tollpacking arrangement and expansion of internal capacity. Rationalization of low-margin products reduced total stock-keeping units by half, thereby improving margins and freeing up capacity. Purefoods has likewise announced a strategy to boost its revenue base, particularly by shifting product portfolio from commodity to value-added products. These valueadded products accounted for about 50 percent of consolidated revenue in 2011, up from only 33 percent in 2003 and 27 percent in 2000. Among the new value-added products launched by Purefoods are ice cream, coffee and chicken nuggets. “Market acceptance for chicken nuggets has been especially strong and as a result, the company has quickly doubled production capacity,” the disclosure said. Purefoods also reported a continuing rise in the number of branded distribution outlets such as the Monterey Meatshops and Magnolia Chicken Stations. As of end-2011, the company had expanded its Magnolia Chicken and Monterey Meat Shop outlets by 57 percent and 37 percent, respectively, from the September 2010 outlet count. Nearly half of the company’s poultry and basic meat revenue in 2011 was contributed by stable-priced outlets, including Monterey and Magnolia Chicken stations. Purefoods grew its net profit last year by 4 percent to P4.21 billion despite sharp increases in the prices of raw materials. Consolidated revenue went up by 13 percent to P89.6 billion from a year ago. ■

BIR collections hit P85.15B in January Short of target by 2% but 14% higher year-on-year

BY JASMINE W. PAYO Philippine Daily Inquirer

THE BUREAU of Internal Revenue last March 19 reported that it collected P85.15 billion in taxes in January, a doubledigit rise from last year’s figure but still slightly short of the official target for the month. The BIR said the 14-percent rise in tax collection in January from P74.57 billion in the same month last year was an indication that efforts to improve efficiency in tax collection and running after tax cheats were bearing fruit. “The increase is a result of the measures we have been doing to improve tax collection, such as improving tax administration and running after tax evaders,” BIR Commissioner Kim Henares told the INQUIRER. Nonetheless, economics professor Benjamin Diokno said the fact that the tax collection for the month was still short by about 2 percent from the official target of P87.28 billion meant that there was still room for improvement. He said it was important to meet monthly collection targets so that the full-year revenue goal, which supports the government’s expenditure target, is met. The government has vowed to significantly increase public spending this year to accelerate the growth of the economy following last year’s slowdown.

“The better way to assess collection performance is to compare it with the target rather than the previous year’s figure,” Diokno said. He said the shortfall in January was small and should not yet be a cause for concern. He added that the January tax collection figure would not indicate a trend for the rest of the year. “It [the shortfall] is not alarming, and it should not be deemed as an indication of the collection performance for the entire year. Nonetheless, there is scope for review of the reasons behind the shortfall,” Diokno said. UP Economics professor Ernesto Pernia said the BIR’S collection performance for January augured well for the ability of the government to improve revenues for the entire year. “I would have given a grade of A+ if the target was met, but a favorable grade of A- is appropriate to take into account the slight shortfall and the fact that the collection was 14- percent higher than last year’s. The performance was not optimal, but also not too far from best,” Pernia said. Henares said the BIR considered the full- year tax collection target of P1.066 trillion attainable. “The collection for the first month, although short of the goal, is significant enough and is something that gives us hope that the P1.066trillion target for the full year will be achieved,” the BIR commissioner said.■

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Gov’t helpless as pump prices soar Energy chief says public transport to get aid BY AMY R. REMO Philippine Daily Inquirer

LOCAL PUMP prices for gasoline are now hovering around the record high of P60 a liter, and the Department of Energy has admitted that it remains helpless in bringing down prices that are largely influenced by movements in the global oil market. But Energy Secretary Jose Rene D. Almendras assured the public that the DOE was doing what it could under the law to minimize the effects of high oil prices. “Even the president of the United States acknowledged that he has no silver bullet to solve this global problem of fuel prices. That is from one of the world’s most powerful personalities,” Almendras said in a text message. Under the Oil Deregulation Law, the government is prohibited from interfering in the pricing of local petroleum products. But what the government can do now, according to Almendras, is to ease the impact of rising fuel prices on the public transport sector, through the reloading of fuel smart cards under the government’s P450million Pantawid Pasada Program. Under this stop-gap measure, jeepney drivers who claim their fuel smart cards last year will be given another P1,200, on top of the P1,050 given to them last year, which they can use to buy fuel. Almendras said that the DOE aims to complete the reloading before month’s end. Meanwhile, Zenaida Y. Monsada of the DOE’S Oil Industry Management Bureau, said in a radio interview that what the DOE will do is to strictly monitor price adjustments made by oil companies on a weekly basis. Monsada likewise appealed for greater understanding from the public, explaining that the DOE is doing everything it can within its mandate. Monsada said that in order to lessen the country’s dependence on imported oil, the DOE has initiated moves to adopt cleaner indigenous fuel. The most feasible alternatives identified were liquefied petroleum gas, compressed natural gas, biofuels and even electricity. Also, Energy Undersecretary Jose M. Layug Jr. said that the DOE has already laid down its short-, medium- and long-term plans to cut costly fuel imports and lessen the vulnerability of the Philippines in the event of a surge in global oil prices. These measures, in effect, will cushion the country from volatile oil price fluctuations. ■


Sports Ignorance and racism in sports is a losing combination BY TIM DAHLBERG THE ASSOCIATED PRESS OH, THE things that come out of kids’ mouths. College kids in this case, making some noise at an NCAA tournament game that will probably be their last. ``Where’s your green card?’’ members of the Southern Mississippi band chanted at Kansas State’s Angel Rodriguez during the Wildcats’ second-round win in Pittsburgh. Rodriguez heard them, and later he heard an apology on behalf of them. It came from Southern Mississippi officials, and the freshman guard accepted it because ``there’s ignorant people and I know that’s not how they want to represent their university.’’ Write it off, if you will, as just some college students trying to be funny and failing miserably. There’s probably some truth in that, though school officials said that won’t save them from ``quick and appropriate disciplinary action.’’ There was certainly nothing funny a few weeks earlier at a high school game in the Pittsburgh area, when a team from a predominantly black school said fans of a largely white school shouted ``monkeys’’ and ``cotton pickers’’ at them. Fans of Monessen High were also upset when two Brentwood High students ran past them while wearing banana costumes. Isolated incidents, maybe. And we’ve certainly come a long ways from the not-so-distant days when college teams from the south were all white or when black major league baseball players weren’t allowed to stay at the same hotel as their white teammates in certain cities. Unfortunately, though, racism is still finding a place in sports. We saw it recently when an ESPN employee wrote a

headline about Jeremy Lin that used a word that is often used as a slur against Chinese. That, too, was supposed to be funny, though the humour was lost on ESPN executives who fired the headline writer. And we saw it sink to a new low on Sunday when a man in Britain allegedly made racist remarks on Twitter about Bolton soccer player Fabrice Muamba, who is fighting for his life in a hospital after going into cardiac arrest and collapsing during an FA Cup match. That not only outraged soccer fans, but got the man from south Wales arrested on charges of violating the Public Order Act, which makes acts of racist abuse illegal. Ignorant people, offensive comments. There’s no shortage of them, even in an era where black players outnumber whites in several major sports and teams are becoming increasingly homogenized in most others. The great thing about sports is that it unleashes passions in people that they ordinarily wouldn’t show in other ways. The not-so-great thing about sports is that sometimes fans - and players themselves - channel those passions in destructive ways. How else would you explain a group of fans in Germany directing Hitler salutes during practice last month at an Israeli player on the Kaiserslautern team? Did they think Itay Shechter would get a chuckle out of the reference to the reviled German leader responsible for the deaths of millions of Jews in World War II? Steve Williams certainly thought he was funny when he railed on about his former boss at a caddies award dinner. The former bagman for Tiger Woods said ``My aim was to shove it up that black a-----’’ when he did a TV interview celebrating a win by his new employer, Adam Scott. Amid accusations

Ints Vikmanis / Shutterstock.com

Lots on line for Canada at Hong Kong rugby sevens with 2016 Olympics looming

BY NEIL DAVIDSON THE CANADIAN PRESS THE ROAD to Rio starts in earnest this week for the Canadian men’s rugby sevens team. The Canadians need to finish in the top three in a new qualifying section of the annual IRB Sevens stop in Hong Kong to ensure they receive so-called core status. That will allow them to compete at the highest level in the lead up to the sport’s Olympic debut at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro. While New Zealand, Fiji and the 10 other existing core teams slug it out starting Friday in Pools A, B and C, Canada and 11 other countries will be looking to climb the ladder in Pools, D, E and F. Canada lost its core status three years ago and, as such, has seen limited action on the circuit. Core status next season will mean taking part in an expanded 10-event 2012-13 HSBC

Sevens World Series starting in October in Australia. ``It allows you to be able to fully prepare, I think, for the Olympics in 2016,’’ said Canadian coach Geraint John. ``And gives you regular competition and structure for your program. So it’s a big thing. ``At the moment we go to five tournaments. I don’t know how many tournaments we would go in if we didn’t qualify. We could go down to two, we could go down to just one tournament a year. The qualifying part of the Hong Kong event is dominating conversation, according to John. ``Everybody’s talking about it,’’ he said. ``Everybody’s saying how intriguing and how competitive that competition will be.’’ John reckons eight of the 12 teams are in with a chance to win promotion. And all are taking it very seriously. ``We thought we arrived early. We got here late Friday night. (Russia) had already been in here five days (by then) to prepare.’’ Zimbabwe has restocked its team with veterans while Spain and Portugal put their 15-man programs on hold to prepare. Japan has strengthened its squad with World Cup veterans. The Canadians open play Friday against the Philippines, somewhat of a mystery side, before taking on Zimbabwe and Spain on Saturday. The goal is to finish top two in Pool D to advance to the quarter-finals. Sunday’s two finalists and the winner of the third-place playoff in qualifying play will secure core team status and join the 12

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of racisms, Williams apologized, and Woods said he did not believe his old caddie was a racist. There’s nothing funny about racism. It goes against the core of everything sports is supposed to mean, but it goes on anyway. It cost John Terry his job as England’s soccer captain, and it could cost him some money when the Chelsea defender faces trial in July on charges of racially abusing Queens Park’s Anton Ferdinand during a premier league game. The charges were part of a string of incidents that included Liverpool striker Luis Suarez being banned for eight matches for racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra. That incident got two heads of state involved. Uruguay President Jose Mujica defended Suarez even after he refused to shake hands with Evra in their first meeting since the incident, and British Prime Minister David Cameron ordered the English Football Association to come up with a full report on how racism and other forms of discrimination can be eliminated. That’s an improvement over soccer czar Sepp Blatter’s contention a few months ago that there was no racism in soccer. The FIFA chief suggested that any problems could be solved by a handshake at the end of the game. Blatter later apologized, just like Southern Mississippi did on behalf of the band. Like him, the band members have some learning to do. Turns out Rodriguez is from Puerto Rico and a U.S. citizen, just like them. Proof again that ignorance and racism is a losing combination. ■ Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg

existing core teams at each round of the 201213 season. Next season, the 15 core teams will be joined by one invited team at each event _ probably a geographical neighbour. The promotion-relegation format after this year is fuzzy, says John, who expects clarification as early as this week from the International Rugby Board. Canada currently stands 10th in the IRB Sevens standings (ahead of core teams Scotland, Kenya and the U.S.), despite not being invited to play in the season opener in Australia. The Canadians will also miss the remaining events in Japan, Scotland and England. But they showed their teeth in New Zealand, winning their pool before losing 1512 to Samoa in the quarter-finals. Their goal since has been to show that was not a one-off. The Canadians’ arrival last Friday was a little earlier than usual. That came courtesy of the Canadian Rugby Foundation, which paid for their accommodation over the weekend _ the IRB only starts picking up the tab on Monday. John reckons that has helped the Canadians get over jet lag and work out the kinks on the practice field. His team got in a training game with Scotland on Monday and is slated to face Australia on Wednesday. John brought 13 players to Hong Kong but will only be allowed to name 12 to his roster Thursday. The 13th player was insurance for some injuries _ John Moonlight, for example, is coming back from a concussion and a shoulder injury. ``Hopefully he’ll be OK for selection,’’ John said of Moonlight, who was injured on

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the New Zealand stop in early February. Ciaran Hearn is recovering from a hamstring strain and Chauncey O’Toole is dealing with a thumb injury. In a perfect world, backs DTH van der Merwe and Matt Evans would also be there. But van der Merwe is injured and Evans’ Cornish Pirates are involved in promotion playoffs in the English second division. The IRB does not mandate clubs to release players for the sevens competition. ``We were lucky to get Chauncey,’’ John said. O’Toole has not been playing regularly for the Ospreys and the Welsh club was willing to release him. Still John likes his squad and, leading up to Hong Kong, has rotated players in throughout the series to ensure as many as possble get experience at this level. The exact qualifying process for the 12team Olympic field has not been determined yet. Canada will have to book its ticket via a continental qualification, with the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto a possible venue for that. Canada won the Pan Am rugby competition last year in Mexico. The IRB Sevens events feature a 16-country field so ``it’s a pretty hard qualification to even get to 12,’’ said John. John says the IRB also has yet to determine whether Brazil will get automatic entry as host. Women’s sevens will also be part of the 2016 Olympics. Canada, which will be taking part in a companion women’s event this week in Hong Kong, is currently the class of the women’s game. ■


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TUESDAY MARCH 27, 2012

Food inspection agency recalls 135 ground beef products over E.coli fears

BY DIANA MEHTA THE CANADIAN PRESS THINK TWICE before you barbecue that burger. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is urging the public to check all ground beef products in their freezers as a country-wide recall due to possible E.coli contamination affects a growing number of brands. The agency says all the products - most of them frozen beef burgers - can be identified by the establishment number 761 and were produced between July 1, 2011 and Feb. 15, 2012. ``Our message to consumers is if you have these products in your freezers, do not consume them,’’ CFIA food safety and recall specialist Garfield Balsom said Tuesday. The recall, which was originally announced a number of weeks ago, now covers some 135 different beef products distributed under various brand names. They include President’s Choice, Best Value, Calgary Stampede, Country Morning Gold, Exclusive Selections, Grillhouse, Irresistibles, Keg, Licks and Maple Lodge Farms. The CFIA investigation into the tainted beef was sparked when a person in Alberta complained about contracting E.coli after consuming one of the affected products. Balsom said the beef came from a

News-Canada Saskatoon hamburger plant operated by New Food Classics. The agency used the manufacturer’s establishment number as an identifier because it was printed on all recalled products. ``The brand New Food Classics doesn’t appear on a lot of products but the establishment number does,’’ he said. New Food Classics went into receivership last month about one week after the CFIA began its investigation into the E.coli complaint on Feb. 15, and a few days after the agency issued its first recall of hamburger products produced at the plant. The closure of the company’s plants in Saskatoon and St. Catherines, Ont., has thrown about 250 members of the United Food and Commercial Workers union out of work. In Nov. 5, 2010, the Ontario government gave New Food Classics a $1,000,000 grant to move a hamburger manufacturing facility from Calgary to St. Catherines to create jobs and bolster the economy. At the time the company claimed to produce about half of all frozen hamburgers sold in Canadian grocery stores. Ontario Agriculture spokesman Mark Cripps said Tuesday the province does not expect to get any of that money back. ``They met the terms of their contract, and all those objectives were met,’’ Cripps said from Toronto. ``We have no intention of trying to get it back.’’ EdgeStone Capital Partners, the owner of the company, referred questions about New Food Classics to FTI, the firm handling the receivership. FTI officials could not be reached for comment Tuesday. Norm Neault, president of the UFCW local in Saskatoon, said New Food Classics had been in financial trouble, but had new investors lined up in February. He said it’s not clear what role, if any, the E.coli investigation and the initial product recall had on the decision to shut the company down. ``I recall having someone tell me about it around (Feb.) 17 or 18, and my thought was ‘if they are having a hard time finding a buyer before, what is it going to be like now?’ It was like a perfect storm,’’ he said.

MDs propose tax increases over $1.85 million would be subject to an additional surtax of six per cent. for wealthiest Canadians, The group estimates that the federal starting at $100,000 THE CANADIAN PRESS TORONTO - A group of doctors is calling on federal and provincial governments to raise income taxes levied on high-income Canadians. They are launching a campaign to get support for the idea, using the slogan ``Tax us. Canada’s worth it.’’ Doctors for Fair Taxation are proposing new surtaxes that would tax any income over $100,000. People who earn between $100,000 and $170,000 would pay an extra one per cent on the income between those two figures and income between $170,000 and $640,000 would be subject to an extra two per cent levy. Income over $640,000 and less than $1.85 million would be hit with an additional three per cent and income

government would earn an extra $3.5 billion a year and Ontario would raise an extra $1.7 billion. One of the organizers of the campaign, Dr. Michael Rachlis, says more than 50 doctors have signed the petition so far. A website hosting the petition will go live Thursday afternoon. ``Our group considers higher taxes a small price to pay for a more civilized Canada,’’ says Rachlis, a public health physician and associate professor at the University of Toronto. ``We’re becoming a more economically unequal society and we feel this is bad for our country’s health.’’ Rachlis says the aim of the campaign is to get Canadians who would be paying the higher taxes to indicate their willingness, saying the organizers feel it would carry more weight that way. Though the campaign has been

``I can’t say if it had any bearing on it, but it sure wasn’t going to make it any easier.’’ The CFIA’s investigation is ongoing and the agency will be adding products to a list on its website as they are identified. ``Our main focus is to first of all identify any product that may be of risk to consumers and then try to identify root cause so that we can identify the issue and make sure it doesn’t re-occur,’’ Balsom said. ``That investigation into the second phase is continuing at this point.’’ The products that may be contaminated were distributed nationally to retail stores, restaurants and institutions such as hospitals. ``The unsettling thing here is that we’ve got almost an equal number of products that have gone to retail stores and food services,’’ said food safety expert Rick Holley, who teaches at the University of Manitoba. Holley explains that animals often carry E.coli bacteria which may find its way into processed and packaged products if meat isn’t treated appropriately at facilities. Food contaminated with E.coli may not look or smell spoiled but can cause serious and potentially life-threatening illnesses. Symptoms include severe abdominal pain and bloody diarrhoea. Symptoms usually start within three to four days but can occur up to 10 days later and last from five to 10 days. The CFIA website says cooking food to a safe internal temperature helps protect against E.coli, but in the case of the current recall, the agency and retailers are advising the public not to consume the identified products altogether. A person who may have consumed one of the affected products need not be overly worried however, as long as the beef was cooked to appropriate temperatures - usually between 71 to 74 degrees C, said Holley. The thing to watch out for is crosscontamination. ``The organism is not particularly resistant to high temperature, so normal cooking practice will eliminate it,’’ he said. ``Just watch out what you do with this product when you’re in the kitchen: what does it come in contact with? Where are the knives, the plates that it’s come into contact with?’’

started by doctors, anyone earning over $100,000 who supports the proposal can sign the petition. One of the early signatories is Dr. Irfan Dalla, a Toronto-based physician who is also a member of Canadian Doctors for Medicare. ``Governments don’t have the resources they need to address some of the causes of ill-health and some of the social programs that people want and need. And I think that people like me who are paid reasonably well can afford to contribute a little bit more to ensure that we have a fair society,’’ Dalla says. Rachlis says action needs to be taken to spare crucial public programs. ``We feel that this is a moral argument. We cannot talk about throwing people out of work and cutting needed programs for people,’’ he says ``If the situations is that dire that governments are really feeling that that should be done, it seems to ■

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The current recall shines the spotlight on the need for more food testing and inspection, said Holley, adding that Canadians shouldn’t take the safety of what they eat for granted. ``We should be making sure that the systems we have always work properly and the records being kept are accurate, so that we know when a problem occurs and we can take some action before we have to do a recall.’’ The recalled products may have a best before date from Jan. 1, 2012 up to and including Feb. 15, 2013 and a production code with a format of 11 JL 01 up to and including 12 FE 15. The CFIA is working with retailers and distributors to recall the identified products from the marketplace and is monitoring the effectiveness of the recall. Some retailers, including Loblaw Companies, are offering refunds to customers who return the designated products, even if they don’t have original receipts, to their stores. A list of the recalled beef products can be found at the CFIA website. http:// www.inspection.gc.ca/english/corpaffr/ recarapp/2012/20120319cliste.shtml -With files from John Cotter in Edmonton.■

A huge win for Alberta’s children: MLAs cooperate to pass Sherman’s Bill 203 Edmonton – On a historic day for Alberta’s children and the Alberta Legislature, Official Opposition Leader Raj Sherman’s Bill 203 to protect children from second-hand smoke in vehicles passed third reading and will come into force when proclaimed. The new law makes it illegal to smoke in vehicles with anyone under 18 presen t, punishable by a $1000 fine on the first offence. “I am thrilled that MLAs from several parties voted in favour of the bill, working together to protect our children from a serious health threat,” Sherman says. “This law should lead to lower rates of smoking-related respiratory diseases and far less suffering among our young people.” It one of the very few times in Alberta’s history that a law has been passed by anyone other than a government MLA. “This result shows that from time to time MLAs can act like human beings and put partisan differences aside for the greater good,” Sherman says. “I’m thrilled that my fellow MLAs were on board to pass this important legislation. I’m genuinely grateful.” There is one caveat: the government has amended the bill so that instead of coming into force on January 1, 2013, as Sherman proposed, it will become law only on “proclamation,” that is, when the government chooses. “I hope the government will proclaim the bill sooner rather than later, but today I’m happy to congratulate them for doing the right thing,” Sherman says. ■


Canada-News Nothing is certain but death and taxes

Members of the UPAABC with speaker Atty. Margot Lorayes

BY MELISSA REMULLA BRIONES AND GIGI ASTUDILLO PHILIPPINE CANADIAN INQUIRER MEMBERS OF the University of the Philippines Alumni Association of British Columbia (UPAABC) had a crash course on wills and estates over the weekend. In a workshop organized by the UPAABC and its President, Eric Inigo, several UP alumni actively participated and asked questions about the one other thing that is certain – death. They were eager and curious to know what will happen to everything that they will leave behind. According to Atty. Margot Lorayes of Cassady & Company, this depends on whether or not they have a will. She said that under the Estate Administration Act, if a person dies intestate (without a will),

BY ISSA VANCOUVER, BC

YOU WANT TO BE RICH? WRITING A will is an emotional exercise. It can be a half love letter, a half goodbye letter, and a transmission of all of your hopes and dreams to people you hope not to leave behind too soon. It is an inventory of your life and what you have accumulated in terms of the material and the familial and the emotional. It has a potential to be controversial, leaving in its wake disappointments and tensions and conflicts that you can no longer put under control. It is a testament to what your life has been, to what you valued and continue to value. It is a last heave before you and your life and your words say caput. But more than all of the above, it is a practical one. If you can be shaken out of your grief of your own passing, there are some steps that need to be taken according to the book The Everything Wills &

his or her personal estate vests in the court until administration is granted. This means the heirs will not be able to touch the estate for a year (i.e., cannot sell or dispose of the estate) and at the end of the waiting period, the disposition may also not be what the decedent (deceased person) would have wanted. Atty. Lorayes then emphasized the importance of a will and the necessity of having the assistance of a lawyer when drafting one because, as she said, “If a will is not valid, it is as if the person died without a will.” In estate planning, Atty. Lorayes said a lawyer typically prepares 3 documents: a formal will, a general power of attorney and a representation agreement. A formal will is a typed document signed by the testator (person executing a will) in the presence of at least two witnesses who cannot be beneficiaries or spouses of beneficiaries. It does not need to be notarized. A power of attorney is a document that appoints another person to deal with the testator’s business and property and to make financial and legal decisions for him or her. It can be general (very wide powers given to deal with all of the assets) or special (specific). According to Atty. Lorayes, a general power of attorney is enduring, its powers unlimited and it does not expire – this means it is valid as long as the testator is alive. She said, however, that this can be revoked by destruction of the original document. A representation agreement is an appointment of someone as the testator’s legal representative to handle his or her

financial, legal, personal care and health care decisions, if the testator is unable to make them on his or her own. There was a discussion on executors (appointed by the testator by will and one who should act in the best interest of the estate), the perfect death (dying without an estate), probate of a will (legal process to distribute a deceased person’s estate), what does not form part of the estate (insurance and RESPs, among others), application of the laws of Canada to properties in the Philippines, and many more. It was an engaging dialogue and the audience undoubtedly wanted other similar workshops where what they learned can immediately be put into practice. ■ 10 Reasons why a person should have a will 1. The distribution of your assets will be determined by the Estate Administration Act which may not be the way you want your assets divided. 2. None of your assets can be distributed to charities, friends or other relatives. 3. All of your assets will be converted into cash (i.e., family heirlooms and jewelry may be sold) rather than passing to those persons you wish to have them. 4. Guardianship of your minor children will be determined by the Court if your spouse did not have legal custody of your children at the time of your death or if your spouse has died before you. 5. If you have minor children (under the age of 19), their share of your estate is paid to and administered by the Public Guardian and

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Trustee until your minor child reaches 19 years of age. Your minor child’s guardian may request funds for the benefit of your child; however, payment is at the discretion of the Public Guardian and Trustee. The Public Guardian & Trustee will deduct their administration costs from your child’s inheritance. 6. The person appointed by the Court to be the Administrator of your estate may not be the person who you would want to do the job. Anyone can apply to become the Administrator of your estate but preference goes to next-of-kin (spouse, children, parents). If no one wants the job of being Administrator, then the Official Administrator for British Columbia will administer your estate, which may increase costs and may cause delay in your family members receiving their inheritance. Because the appointment must be made by a Court Order and because the person applying to become Administrator may be required to obtain a bond, costs are increased and the appointment is delayed. Unlike an Executor named in a Will, an Administrator may only start dealing with your estate when he is or she is appointed by the Court. 7. The Administrator of your estate may be required to obtain a bond to protect the assets of your estate which is an added cost to the estate. If the applicant is not bondable, another person or the Official Administrator will have to apply. 8.Your assets are technically owned by the Province until such time as the Court appoints an Administrator of your estate. 9.Your assets may not be distributed to your family members until one (1) year following the date of your death. 10.You have lost the opportunity to take advantage of tax and estate planning tools.

Why you should write a will

Estate Planning Book by Kimberly Colgate: Step One: Learn the rules Step Two: Organize your assets Step Three: Decide who, what and when Step Four: Choose your planning tools (wills, retirement plans, life insurance, joint property, trusts, annuities, taxes) Step Five: Implement your plan One of the hardest, most time consuming and exciting is Step Two. It will tell you a lot of things – what you have accomplished so far and what you have not at this stage of your life. It gives you a clue as to the many (or not so many) hours you have put in for material pursuits, a wake-up call that can give you a high or serve you the low, giving you a picture of where you are in the financial ladder and an idea of where you want to go. But Step Two is not romantic. It is just the cold, hard facts of the inventory of your life. Put your affairs in order and make some decisions (as to the guardians and the executor) before you see a lawyer or start your plan. This way, you will have an idea of what you have when you sit before a professional. It will make matters easier – for both of you.

All of us will be walking that road, others sooner than later. Most people would prefer not to look but in not looking, they do not know that they might be doing themselves – and the people they love – a disfavor. Yes, hesitate. Yes, take your time. But do not take too long. ■ Issa is a lawyer, a registered financial planner in the Philippines and publisher of the site, www.YouWanttoBeRich.com. She recently moved to Vancouver, Canada with her family. Here is what needs to be put down on your Asset Inventory Worksheet: 1. Personal information – name, spouse’s name, citizenship, date of birth, names of children (with date of birth) 2. Financial Assets – with proof of ownership (photocopy), if possible: a. personal residence – address, in whose names, mortgaged? (balance if any), approximate fair market value b. other personal residences or vacation homes (need the same information as above) c. personal/household effects (include

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jewelry, heirloom, antiques, art/paintings, collection and their values) d. cash and cash deposits, retirement accounts – banks where held, account numbers, balances (savings, checking, Certificate of Deposits, T-bills, and similar instruments) 3. Life Insurance Policies – face amount of policy, cash value, beneficiaries (include all, including term and group life insurance); list down the life insurance policy information on the spouse, if any 4. Business interests – indicate participation (active, director, etc.) and approximate value of company 5. Investments – stocks, bonds, notes, other interests (where held, amount, etc.) 6. Liabilities – debts 7. In case there are minor children, who can be the possible guardians (at least 3) – must be healthy, younger than you and your spouse, share your values 8. Executor – one who will administer the will (and sub-executor or plan B in case chosen executor predeceases you)


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Lifestyle-Canada

Pinoy town petition continues in Vancouver community in the area. Companies would have leverage to negotiate, as there can be strength in numbers and certain policies and procedures can easily be implemented in a specific area catering to a particular ethic community”. Along with the pros, Calingo also mentions the challenges that could spring from having a place like Pinoy Town. “The perception of being “clannish” would suffice, the idea of tayo-tayo lang or exclusivity. He added that the sustainability of the area to be called Filipino Town – the basis for calling the area Filipino Town – should be clear from the start. ■ Quick Quips: Are you in favor of having a Pinoy Town in Vancouver and what should we name this area if the petition gets approved?

stop with having a designated place. We can ask for lower property taxes for the WOULDN’T IT be nice to have our own businesses there. The community should little hood where we can satisfy our sudden also have clearer reasons why we want cravings for sisig (sizzling minced pork the designation and what the town is all served on a hot metal platter) and tapsilog about.” (beef-egg-garlic rice combo meal)? Or Having a Pinoy Town seems like a easily find a walis tambo (broom made good idea but several members of the of bamboo)  for our hardwood floors? A community are not too happy with the thriving cultural hub where we can bring proposed neighbourhood designations. our non-Filipino buddies wanting to Tom Avendano, a prominent community immerse themselves in anything Filipino?    leader and head of Multicultural Helping A petition from our kababayans in BC House Society (MHHS), vehemently has been in the works since October 2011. opposes the petition, “I am very, very The mission is to have a Filipino-centered emphatic about this. Not in my lifetime, area on Fraser Street – from King Edward I cannot see any justification or any Avenue all the way to 33rd Avenue - to be wisdom to designating a place as Pinoy called “Pinoy Town”. Town. You can put a restaurant, you Social media was again a major catalyst can have a Pinoy supermarket, Filipino in the information campaign for creating a Cultural Centre but not a Pinoy Town, Pinoy Town in Vancouver. Jojo Quimpo, no. A town is a designation of a place, it is head of the Hirit Group responsible for territorial. I think this is a divisive thing in bringing the annual Pinoy Fiesta Parade, the community.” is excited to spearhead the big project. Tatay Tom, as he is fondly called “Filipinos are always on Facebook. in the Filipino community, would When I created the page, the petition prefer having  events like parades and spread like wildfire. We were able to get presentations in promoting our heritage 1,000 signatures right away. At that time, and culture. “I think we should discontinue I got a lot of calls. From MLA Mable doing this to the Canadian people and Elmore, telling me that it is a good idea. multicultural community. We should strive Then RJ Aquino of COPE also called for assimilation and integration into the me and said he will support it. Vision Canadian culture.” Avendano adds, “For Vancouver also called me, and NPA example, arts and culture, we can have a candidate Gabby Kalaw.” Pinoy parade. We have all the parades, we Ryan Ferrer, self-professed co-creator have the Chinese parade, Indo-Canadian of the Pinoy Town movement foresees parade and the people enjoy it. Naming a that as long as there is long term planning place, no, I am not in favour.” involved in the endeavour there will be Jojo counters all the lukewarm reception groups who will support it. “The Filipino with this, “this all started with a desire community should really work hand- to uplift the Filipino community and in in-hand for this project to push through. a way get recognition like other ethnic We want to have a Pinoy Town not just groups. And we Filipino-Canadians can for the sake of having one. It should not gather together and enhance and develop BY STELLA REYES

our culture, help Filipino businesses, and at the same time, the local economy and the city. There will be an opposition but we want to let everyone know that Pinoy Town is not meant to divide the city or cause any trouble in our community. In fact it was created with the good intention to strengthen the multi-cultural fabric of the city and help in the multiculturalism of Canada and to unite it.” The Business Aspect of Having a Pinoy Town If you walk around the proposed area and survey Fraser Street, there is only a sprinkling of Filipino stores, remittance offices, dental clinics and restaurants around that area. One might actually think twice about naming the place as Pinoy Town.   Mike Calingo, chairman of Philippines Canada Trade Council (PTTC), offers this business perspective. “It would be good if there would be an area for the FilipinoCanadian community. Companies who would like to focus on providing products and services to Filipino-Canadians could easily identify the target market area. The preference is to call the area Filipino Town and not Pinoy Town as the Filipino term is widely accepted internationally.” Mike says that if the idea is to lure companies to set up shop there, there should be some type of incentives like income tax breaks, tax credits, or any form of subsidies that would benefit the Filipino companies should they establish themselves in a specific area. “There are advantages and disadvantages with having a Filipino business zone if plans do push through. There would be ease for newcomers, for business and individuals, to tap the network of the Filipino

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“We should start building a cultural centre first before anything else. The community leaders should look in to this seriously. Also, we have a Pinoy Park called Filipino Plaza near Nanaimo Station already.” – Lito Manrique, P. Engineer “I asked lots of my non-Filipino friends if they are familiar with the term “Pinoy” and everyone has no idea what Pinoy is! Filipino Town would be better and the area between 41st-46th along Fraser St. is the ideal spot. But come to think of it, there are also lots of East Indians on that area, I hope they won’t they oppose?” - Rowena Ostrea, Nurse “Yes, I’m in favor having a Pinoy Town. Why? Not only do we get the recognition or satisfaction of having our own community centre but this is a way to showcase our culture and cuisine. I vote for Broadway or Joyce area, I like the sound of “Filipino Town” or “Plaza Philippines”. – Ruth Domingo, Business Analyst “At first, it was a resounding yes! It’s a good thing for the Filipino community to get this recognition and to have a piece of home away from home. Now I have my doubts because if you look back at the history of the existing “towns” (Chinatown, Davie as Gay Village, etc.), it was sort of like a ghetto and people lived there to be safe.  I think the current social environment is more progressive and immigrants, in general, are more spread out.  Also, Canada attracts immigrants across the world, imagine if everyone wants to create a mini town.” –Santi Pelaez, Accountant “I would prefer Filipino Town - I like to show Canadians the correct way to spell it, not “Philippino”. I am in favour of any little place where Filipinos can converge. Downtown would be an ideal location and Little Philippines is more inclusive of other Filipinos who are not from Manila.”  – Raquel Ostrea-Ruark, Marketing Professional


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Proposed rezoning of Mount Pleasant: victim of its own success

DEMAND FOR affordable homes and the strategic location of Mount Pleasant – which is close to the bustling thoroughfares of Kingsway, Broadway and Main Street – make it one of the most coveted piece of real estate in Vancouver. Several Filipino restaurants and establishments – including Aling Mary’s and Josephine’s – call it home. In 2011, it became a hotbed of dissension, with two opposing groups as the protagonists – the developer, Rize Alliance Properties Ltd. on one hand, and the Mount Pleasant residents who are members of the Residents Association of Mount Pleasant (RAMP) on the other. Each believes it knows

are very much concerned about the changes happening in their community. 220 people signed up to speak and 104 have been heard to date. Rize maintains that it’s plans for the project conforms to the EcoDensity plan, Metro Vancouver’s plan for sustainable communities, the Translink plan, and the Greenest City action plan. Rize also alleges that the building’s higher density conforms to the MPCP and that the location of the building what is best for Mount Pleasant and its itself is sustainable because it is near denizens. modes of transportation. Because When Rize purchased the property of staff and community input, Rize along Kingsway and Broadway in 2004, dropped the height of its building from it was a purely commercial district. 26 to 19 floors, reduced rental rates, According to Christopher Vollan, VP changed the design of the building for Development of Rize, it applied for facing Broadway to imitate a historic rezoning in 2011 in consonance with building on Broadway, designed the the Mount Pleasant Community Plan building to LEED standards, with (MPCP) adopted in November of 2010, energy use allegedly more efficient whereby the site was designated as a than single family homes or smaller high-density, high-rise development, apartment buildings. They will also provided there are appropriate have units in the below $300,000 range, community benefits. according to Vollan. Pursuant to procedure, then came Meanwhile, members of RAMP, a series of public hearings for Rize’ some of whom are stakeholders in rezoning application, but it faced the community and business owners, opposition from RAMP whose members maintain that there has been a failed

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public consultation process because their 5 requested benefits were not met, namely, (1) significantly reduced height (tower), (2) portion of rental units geared to income, (3) inner courtyard becomes public flex space, (4) guarantee of artist/ live workspace with affordable rent and (5) subsidized housing units. The group is also concerned about traffic impact as the City has not done a traffic impact study. The original plan for 9,200 square feet of artist space has also been dropped because the City opted for cash contribution toward “off-site cultural or civic facilities, or other approved public benefit” as determined by the City of Vancouver with community input. More importantly, RAMP considers the future uncertain for many of its existing small businesses because of potential increase of land value and property taxes that will negatively impact small businesses, direct competition with the retail space in the building when business owners are already “struggling with astronomical increases in rents and leases due to increased real estate speculation” in the area. The next public hearing will resume on Tuesday, March 27. ■


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Immigration

Making immigration work better for the Canadian economy

Minister Kenney speaks to the Canadian Club about making immigration work better for the Canadian economy.

IN A SPEECH delivered by the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism at the Canadian Club in Toronto on March 19, he spoke about the importance of immigrants to Canada, and the necessity of reforming immigration programs. He said the paradox of labour shortage, and unemployment or underemployment of new immigrants, should be immediately addressed by the government. “While we have huge and growing labour shortages in many industries and regions, we see at the same time many new Canadians stuck in unemployment or underemployment and the goal of our immigration policy reforms will be to bridge that gap so that new Canadians arrive here as much as possible to go fully and productively into the workforce where they can care for their families, enjoy the dignity of work, work at their skill level and contribute to our economy. For too long the story of immigration to Canada has been summed up by the frustration of the highly trained professional who arrived with the expectation of being able to work at his or her skill level only to find themselves frustrated by the barriers to employment, particularly in licensed professions, only to find themselves having to resort to working in survival jobs, facing underemployment. You know these people. We all do. I’ve heard so many heartbreaking stories, people literally breaking down in front of me like the couple, the man and woman from Colombia I met in Red Deer Alberta, both of them highly trained dentists who were working as janitors in Red Deer or the Syrian trained obstetrician I met in Vancouver who had for five years been cleaning hotel rooms or the proverbial cab driver we all meet who has that engineering or medical degree.

To too great an extent that has become the symbol of the failures of our economic immigration policies. There are many successes that we must celebrate but we must have a frank discussion about fundamental reform to our immigration programs to ensure that everyone who arrives in this country has an equal opportunity to succeed. Because not only is there an opportunity cost for those who arrive and face underemployment. There’s also a human and incalculable social and personal cost. Every one of those people who feel frustrated that they’re not getting the equal shot, that they’re locked out by an impossibly byzantine credential recognition process whose degrees or experience are not being recognized by Canadian employers. They go home at night and feel depressed and ashamed because they brought their family to not pursue the kind of opportunity they dreamed of. We know those families and those circumstances. They tough it out. They work incredibly hard. They contribute enormously and they do so with a dream and aspiration that their children will have a future in Canada that they never could have in their country of origin. That remains absolutely true.” Minister Kenny spoke about the reforms that are being done to address the problem of unemployment and underemployment. “Again we have to look at those factors which we know lead to giving people a better shot. That’s why in the year to come we will be making important reforms to our economic immigration programs. We will be reforming, modifying the points grid that is the basis for selecting federal skilled workers to put more emphasis on younger workers, on those with prearranged employment, on those with higher levels of language proficiency if they seek to come into

regulated professions. At the same time we’ll be creating greater flexibility. One of the criticisms of our programs in the last three decades has been that they’ve basically made it virtually impossible for skilled tradespeople to get access to Canada as immigrants even though there are huge and growing labour shortages in the skilled trades like construction trades and the like. We intend to create a new skilled trades stream that allows those talented welders in construction trades, boiler makers and welders who have huge skills in much demand that are paying very good salaries, to be able to come to Canada and in principle step off the plane directly into gainful employment. We have already made important reforms particularly through the creation of the Canadian experience class that allows foreign students who have obtained a two year degree or diploma in Canada or foreign workers who have done two years of work at a mid to high skill level to obtain permanent residency from within Canada on a fast track basis. We’re going to add even additional flexibility to that program.

Finally we must also continue to ensure that newcomers are going to where the jobs are. That doesn’t just mean geographically. It also means the businesses and the industries that are in need of talented immigrants. We have succeeded in beginning that process with a much better geographic distribution of newcomers across the country. For example in the past five years we’ve seen immigration to Saskatchewan quadruple, Manitoba triple, Alberta double and Atlantic Canada double.” In the last part of his speech, Minister Kenney described the government’s vision. He said, “There are millions of millionaires who would love to come and contribute to this country. All of these things are … our unifying vision is very simple. We want to leave behind the rigidity and in so many respects the failure of the past to a system that is fast, flexible and proactive because at the end of the day what matters most is that the newcomers who arrive with the promise of prosperity in Canada realize it and do so quickly because we all know that when immigrants succeed, Canada succeeds.” ■

Ang kursong ito na maaring aralin “online” ay alinsunod sa mga pangangailangang pang-akademya para maging isang “Regulated Immigration Consultant”

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Lifestyle-Phils Brazil’s famous Campana brothers impressed with Filipino crafts and materials

BY ALEX Y. VERGARA Philippine Daily Inquirer

WORLD-FAMOUS Brazilian chair designers Humberto and Fernando Campana visited the Philippines as Manila FAME’S special guests last week. Known for designing and redesigning chairs made from all sorts of materials, from cute stuffed toys to utilitarian ropes, the Sao Paolo-based brothers, the first Brazilian artists to exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and who are popularly known for designing plastic shoes for the Australiabased shoe company Melissa, shared their thoughts, including their impressions of the vibrant Philippine design scene, in an exclusive interview with INQUIRER Lifestyle. “This isn’t only our first time to visit Manila. It’s actually our first time to visit the Philippines,” Humberto said at a cocktail party in their honor at the Diamond Hotel. “But I’ve always been drawn by the crafts you have

The incredibly shrinking late Michael Crichton BY ALEX Y. VERGARA Philippine Daily Inquirer

Science writer Richard Preston is recruited to finish the late Crichton’s last unfinished book ‘Micro,’ but the result is neither here nor there WHAT EXACTLY qualifies as an author’s last book? Is the latest book published prior to the author’s death? Or is it that previously undiscovered manuscript found and released years after the creator’s demise? What if it’s an unfinished manuscript, finished by someone else? The matter is enough of a mystery by itself. These are some of the questions that arose when the extremely popular writer Michael Crichton died in 2008, two years after the release of his last book at that point, the Dna-themed “Next.” Upon his death, one complete but unpublished manuscript was found on his computer, a manuscript that would shortly become

here. I’ve read a great deal about the design scene here from European publications. They’re starting to get known also in Brazil.” They were able to visit factories in Metro Manila. (Their itinerary didn’t include Cebu.) “The quantity of materials you have and the way you manipulate them are fantastic,” said Humberto. “This is important on a global scale because crafts are slowly coming back.” Humberto is himself more into actual manipulation of materials to produce finished products, while Fernando, a trained architect, loves to draw, make projections and plot directions. “I love to touch things and see how far I can manipulate them,” said Humberto. “The ‘slow’ design is the way to go. People can only take so much of mass production.” Fernando was also delighted with new products and finishes showcased in the four-day inIn Manila recently as guests of Manila FAME, the cuttingedge design duo the Campana brothers talk about going back to one’s roots—and telling a story with every creation ternational fair. He didn’t expect such products and possibilities existed. Brazil has a limited range of materials. Even their traditional crafts aren’t as “sophisticated” as the ones they saw at Manila FAME’S so-called “creation stations,” featuring artisans engaged in actual “heritage” crafts such as wood shavings, filigree, paper cutouts, mat weaving, embroidery and macramé. Humanization in production “Humberto and I have always advanced humanization the disappointingly bland pirate swashbuckler “Pirate Latitudes” in 2009. But the far more fascinating case is that of the unfinished manuscript called “Micro,” which was already one-third finished. Harpercollins selected the gifted science writer Richard Preston to complete it, and “Micro: A Novel” (Harpercollins, New York, 2011, 430 pages) came out late last year. When his venture capitalist brother Eric goes missing, a scientist specializing in venom named Peter Jansen and six research colleagues go to Hawaii to visit what had been Eric’s funding focus, a super secretive tech company called Nanigen MicroTechnologies. While his scientist friends are curious about possible job opportunities, Peter wants to know what happened to his brother as he suspects Nanigen’s scheming CEO Vin Drake of being behind it. Meanwhile, three bodies have been found covered in tiny cuts in Honolulu, leaving police detective Dan Watanabe stumped. Key There is always some kind of scientific key that unlocks Crichton’s books and “Micro” has a farfetched one, even for him: Nanigen has developed the technology to shrink matter to tiny size and someone is using that same technology to kill. When Jansen and friends discover the truth, they are shrunk and then dropped in the middle of a suddenly massively dangerous jungle. Now, they must somehow survive and find a way to return to usual size or their own blood will kill them. Conspicuously

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in production,” Fernando said. “What you have here is perfect, as the world reacquires a taste for more labor-intensive production processes and techniques.” Since they’re familiar with using rope, one of the first things that caught Humberto’s eye was abaca. Such a material doesn’t exist in Brazil. They promised to study the material and perhaps design a chair in the near future made from it. On what makes a chair interesting, Humberto, after a long pause, thinks that it should be, “like a good movie,” able to evoke emotions by telling people bits and pieces of its makers’ culture, history or points of view. Their teddy bear chair, for instance, came about while the brothers were in search of new materials. Then it hit Fernando after he saw a couple of street vendors carrying teddy bears on their heads. They lost no time devising a way of translating the rather whimsical material into a new form of upholstery. “But even mass-produced items can evoke emotions and tell a story,” said Humberto. Since their makers’ history and culture come into play in their production, every chair should be different from one group to another. But the basics of what makes a chair good should always be there. It’s important to be aware of trends, but designing furniture isn’t all about following trends. Most of the time, it’s better to be inspired by one’s roots or traditions. Exposure is also important if the designer is to update designs inspired by his roots to something more responsive for today’s users. But being limited to trends isn’t very good,” said Humberto. “You get to produce homogenized stuff when you limit yourself to trends. You would never stand out and be recognized. In designing, I think it’s also important to follow what your heart says.” ■ missing as the huge blocks of science exposition that is distinctive of Crichton’s novels. Crichton, who always had an eye on possibly getting his novels adapted (the man did get 10 of his books transformed into movies), usually has a conventional, sometimes predictable plot structure, the easier to adapt it for the big screen later. “Micro” suffers from the same problem at the beginning and at the end, but its middle portion, full of truly unexpected plot twists—read: character deaths— and a truly terrifying take on what happens when you become smaller than an insect, is gripping and imaginative. That is most likely Preston’s work, as his past work includes the scary nonfiction tome “The Hot Zone” (which showed how horrific Ebola is) as well as his only novel, “The Cobra Event,” which is his game attempt to fictionalize what he fears the most from the apocalyptic virus he encounters. “Micro’s” uneven structure reflects the fact that two different authors actually worked on it. Taken as a whole, the book is an engaging page-turner, but it lacks both Crichton’s trademark high-science concepts with a foothold in real life as well as the precision of Preston’s vivid science reportage. It’s really neither here nor there. That, ultimately, is the problem when other authors are brought in to complete the work of dead writers. “Micro” has some things going for it, but despite the yeoman’s work of Richard Preston, it just isn’t up to the distinction of being the last Crichton novel and that serves to remind us of just how much readers will miss the likes of Michael Crichton. ■


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Lifesyle-Phils

Miss Universe-japan finalist is Manileña BY JUAN V. SARMIENTO JR. The Philippine Daily Inquirer

Q & A WITH NAOMI S. KIDA AOMI S. Kida is perhaps the first Japino to make it to the finals of Miss Universejapan. Born in Tondo, Manila, in June 1988, she made it to the Top 5 of the beauty contest in Tokyo on June 17, 2011. Naomi is the daughter of Cristina Rivera Santiaguel of Imus, Cavite and Masami Kida, president of a cement production company. Fluent in Japanese, English and Filipino, Naomi regularly visits the Philippines and stays in Almanza, Las Piñas, with her aunt. “If I am back here and speak Tagalog, I have to change my [frame of] mind. It takes me one to two weeks to adjust,” she told the INQUIRER over lunch recently in a restaurant in Salcedo Village, Makati City. She studied in the Philippines—at the Manila Japanese School and the International School—until Grade 3 before she left for Japan. She went on to study at the Minamikata Elementary, Nishishima Junior High School and Nobeoka Nishi High School—all in Miyazaki Prefecture in Kyushu. She just earned a degree in international economics from Hosei University in Tokyo. At 170 cm or 5’7”, she is tall by Japanese and Philippine standards. Her height served her well as a volleyball player in school and as a model. On her calling card with her photo, she describes herself as a free-lance model, a tourism education consultant and, of course, one of the 2011 Miss Universe Japan Top 5. She plans to work in the Philippines and someday put up an international language school to cater to Japanese who want to learn English. Her dream is to become a bridge between Japan and the Philippines. How did your parents meet? Where? I’m not sure, but I think they met in Kumamoto, Japan. How old were you when you left the Philippines for Japan to study? Actually since I was 1 year old I have been going back and forth to the Philippines and Japan. But when I was 10 years old I started to live in Japan longer than in the Philippines.

The transfer to Japan was probably not easy because of the new setting, new classmates, etc. How did you cope with these challenges? At first, it was so difficult to have new friends and sometimes I couldn’t speak Japanese fluently. But I don’t know how I got used to it. I think kids are more flexible than adults. So, I just naturally adjusted to the Japanese community.

Where in Japan did you stay? My hometown is Nobeoka City. It is located in the northern part of Miyazaki Prefecture. Nobeoka City is the second largest city in Miyazaki prefecture. The population is around 140,000. It is known for its beautiful scenery. I finished my elementary, junior high and high school in Nobeoka. I moved to Tokyo for my university education. How often did you return to the Philippines? Before, I came back to the Philippines once a year. Since I went to university, I come back maybe twice a year. I usually stay in Las Piñas City with my relatives. You said you played the role of a “mood maker” of the junior high school volleyball team, what does that mean? It means that I always cheer up my teammates inside the court. For example, when my teammate made a mistake, I tried to make them feel that “it’s OK.” I played volleyball from 5th grade elementary until 3rd grade junior high school. Our team was the best in our city and Top 4 in Miyazaki Prefecture. What’s the name of your dance club at Hosei University? What are your favorite songs for your dances? I was a part of the “Groovy” dance club at the university. I used to dance to Hip Hop songs like Missy Elliot’s “Ching A Ling.” Nowadays, I’m into electro music. Before joining the Miss Universe Japan, did you win a prefecture beauty contest? No. We don’t have a beauty contest in our prefecture so I just joined an audition in Osaka Prefecture. After passing the audition, I was selected for the semifinal contest in Tokyo. There was a long process to be a finalist in Miss Universe Japan.

How many contestants joined Miss Universe Japan? What question did the judges ask you during the finals? There were 15 finalists. They asked me to describe “fortune” in my own words. My answer was, “Fortune is making your own destiny through the choices you make.” I said that because of my own experiences, I am who I am now because of the choices I made in the past. Did organizers of Miss Universe Japan ask you about your ancestry? Was being half-Filipino ever an issue during the contest? No they didn’t. I’m not the first girl who is “half” to join the contest. There were some in the past. But so far, no half-blooded Japanese has won the title yet.

Have you ever experienced some kind of discrimination because you are half-filipino? Yes, I have experienced it. When I was 6 or 7 years old, I couldn’t make any Japanese girl friends because they were trying to avoid me. I don’t know exactly why but maybe it was because I was different from them. Does your being half have its advantages, too, in Japan? In what way? Yes, I think so. Because I am trilingual and I have a wider perspective than most Japanese people. Are you the first contestant of Filipino ancestry to ever join Miss Universe Japan? I don’t know. Maybe? How long did you model for Amazone in Tokyo? Was it after the beauty pageant? What clothes or brands did you model? I modeled for Amazone for a year. It was before the Miss U Japan. I modeled Japanese brands like “Mercibecoup” and “Issey Miyake.” Where were you during the March 11 earthquake and tsunami? I was in Tokyo taking dance lessons. First, I didn’t take the tsunami warning so seriously, my friends and I were even joking about it. But after we saw the videos on TV we felt really guilty. So if calamities happen, we should take the warning seriously because we will eventually regret it if we don’t.

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While in Japan, what do you miss most about the Philippines? I miss Christmas the most, because of the happiness. I like spending time with my family and relatives. What are your hobbies? My hobbies are traveling, dancing, riding my bicycle and going on picnics. What are you books, movies? I don’t read a lot. My favorite movie is “Pretty Woman” because I like the soundtrack. Did life change after your good showing in the beauty contest? Did it favorite open opportunities? Yes to both questions. I was able to establish a connection to both the Japanese and Philippine embassies. Now I’m closer to my dream which is to become the bridge between Japan and the Philippines. What do you think Filipino men? I think Filipino men are very romantic and kind. What do you think of our bachelor President? Do you have any message for him? I think it is not a problem that he is a bachelor. It’s his choice and it seems like he is working really hard for our country. My message to the President is, “Don’t work too hard and please take care of yourself as well.” How big is the demand for English-language training among Japanese students, people? The demand is increasing because of globalization. The Japanese people know they need to learn English. In the Philippines, do people mistake you for Japanese? No. They mistake me for a Korean. But when I start to talk to them in Tagalog they get surprised every time. How was the support from the Filipino community in Japan during the Miss Universe Japan contest? The Filipino community in my hometown supported me a lot. I didn’t have any connections with the other Filipino communities, especially in Tokyo. I didn’t receive a lot of support from them. After the pageant, I started to communicate with them. ■


A Lifestyle-Canada 3 Ways to Engage Your Stakeholders TUESDAY MARCH 27, 2012 26

BY LEO VALDES, VANCOUVER, BC

WORTH WHY DO Filipino Canadians abide by the traffic rules in Canada, but not necessarily in the Philippines? The answer lies partially in the way the government engages the public as one of its stakeholders. Engagement of a large variety of internal and external stakeholders is intended to achieve trusting relationships. According to Forbes Magazine, engagement is essential in business, in order to sustain competitive advantage. Engaging stakeholders was the main topic of an educational networking meeting organized by the Philippines Canada Trade Council (PCTC) last March 1, 2012, entitled: “What can Business Learn from the Occupy Movement.” According to the guest speaker, ethics and business professor Mark Wexler, there are three main ways to work with willing stakeholders: Education, Rules and Modeling.

Education is a proactive method of getting stakeholders on the side of business. Property developers work with people in the community to get feedback on, and to educate them on what development features they can provide that will benefit all parties. However, education can be expensive. The Government of Canada, for example, in its effort to integrate new immigrants faster, spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year on English language training. Rules and warnings, on the other hand, are meant to keep stakeholders from activities that are detrimental to all. An obvious example is a sign at an electric power distribution station warning people of the danger of electric shock.

Many campaigns invoking rules are not successful. Signs against garbage dumping and public urination in the Philippines are often ignored. The popular, unproven belief is that Filipinos defy authority. But this is not the case with Filipinos living in other countries. Campaigns that do work usually appeal to the stakeholders. The State of Texas failed to curb roadside littering through an educational program using the image of a crying Native American Indian. They discovered that the most proliferate litterers were young adult males, many of whom own guns and trucks. This resulted in the most successful rule-based educational campaign of the State: “Don’t Mess With Texas”. Roadside litter was reduced by at least 70% on its first year of implementation. Modeling appears to be the most effective and least expensive option. Governments and businesses create conditions and environments that encourage desired behaviours. Public order reigns in the streets and sidewalks of Canada’s cities because the environment is designed for crowds to naturally adapt to order. Similar

environments are found inside large shopping malls in the Philippines. Young immigrants are so exposed to these environments in public and in the schools, that over time they influence their elders (“Dad, you’re not supposed to do that”). Businesses and government try to use incentives to influence behaviour. Imagery and funding public programs are used to model desirable outcomes. Is it possible for clean neighbourhoods to be modeled in the Philippines? The city of Luzern, Switzerland did so by making trash collection a game. Here is a simple low-cost modeling solution for Barangays in the Philippines: get your youth to make garbage cans look like basketball hoops. That should start a clean-up campaign that will also eliminate the “bawal umihi dito” signs. ■ LEO VALDES is a businessman and a college instructor in Vancouver, BC, and in the Philippines. He trains nonprofit and business groups on how to work together and leverage their collective intelligence. Contact: leo. valdes@uniserve.com.

Filipino-Canadian in Focus: Marieton Pacheco Marieton Pacheo with husband Cisco and kids Anton and Javier

MARIETON PACHECO was a familiar face on television as one of the top reporters of ABS-CBN News and anchor woman for the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) when she decided to heed the call of a foreign shore – Canada – and welcomed the prospects of a better future for her family, especially her children. While in ABS-CBN, she has been looking for change, and she found this – and a new beginning – in Canada. However, like most Filipino immigrants, she found that it was not so easy at the beginning. You were enjoying a successful career as a reporter for ABS-CBN in the Philippines. Why did you and your family immigrate to Canada? The opportunity came and my husband and I decided to take a leap and give it a try. We didnt want to pass it on and find ourselves 20 years down the road thinking, “what if?”.

We also felt it was the right time to move since both our boys were not babies/toddlers anymore. We wanted to enjoy more time with them before they start enjoying time away from home. Besides, I really didn’t feel like I was leaving ABS because I continued filing reports for TFC a few months after I landed thru Balitang America. It may not be for the same market and audience... but as a journalist, the satisfaction in continuing to tell stories remains. What challenges did you face as a newcomer? Did you have a hard time like other Filipino immigrants? There were challenges in getting into the same industry locally because of the usual reasons given to many newcomers like the lack of Canadian education, experience, etc. Being in broadcast, I was also given the feedback of not having the North American accent. But I took everything in stride because of 3 reasons. First, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy and I braced myself for all the disappointment and rejection. Second, I know my craft and that I have the education and experience to back it up. And third, I have faith that I am where my God wants me to be. So I let go and simply follow his plan for me. How are you enjoying being the host and reporter for Balitang Canada? What should we watch out for in the next episodes? Being host and reporter for TFC’s first local news program in Canada is a big and exciting task for me. I look forward to helping tell stories of our kababayans all over Canada. It has been a long and challenging process preparing for the show and we know there are still many things to learn. But the

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whole team is excited. There will be news, success stories, vacation ideas, and more. Balitang Canada will link Pinoys all over Canada, not just in particular provinces. It will also connect all of us here to the big stories back home. We know that you also work for an investment bank in Vancouver. Can you tell us about that other aspect of your career? I work as an Investment Representative for a big bank downtown. I took the Canadian Securities Course in 2010 and got my license to work in the investment industry. I work with a team of Investment Advisors that do financial planning. It is an entirely different industry but it has taught me a lot. One of which is the difference in being in a strictly regulated industry. As such, I refrain from discussing my work without clearance and posting about it on my social media sites. What is your one advice to Filipinos who want to make it in Canada? Be open to re-invent yourself. Do not get discouraged by criticisms or negative feedback. You are just as good, or maybe even better! When you are not in front of the camera, who is Marieton Pacheco? What don’t people know about you? I like road trips and travelling. I stay up the whole night reading if it’s a really good book. I’m the mommy who plays silly pranks on my children, and get pranked on by them too. The friend you can easily call for a food trip. What’s next for Marieton Pacheco? ...let’s see! :) ■


Food-Phils Known for ‘pancit’ Malabon and ‘pichi-pichi,’ Amber started as a garage eatery

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TUESDAY MARCH 27, 2012

BY SHARON ROBAS-MACAWILE Philippine Daily Inquirer

EVEN TO this day, Editha M. Faustino couldn’t believe that what started out as a simple eatery in the garage of their house in Malabon would eventually flourish into what is now the Amber Golden Chain of Restaurants. Students from nearby schools were her regular customers, according to Faustino. But everything changed when her uncle Manuel L. Espiritu, or “Lolo Daddy” as he is fondly called, offered her to put up a restaurant in his property in Makati. Faustino recalls that her uncle gave her three years, after which Espiritu would use the place for his machine shop business. In December 1988, the first Amber restaurant Amber Golden Plate was established along Filmore st. in Makati. Faustino had only four employees at the start. “I’d go to the market, then do the cooking, then man the cashier,” Editha, 62, says in Filipino. But despite the arduous tasks, she was happy because the restaurant was always full of customers. Pancit Malabon and pichi-pichi, which Faustino mixed and prepared herself, were the resto’s specialties. Pichi-pichi was sold for 25 centavos a piece then, while an order of pancit was P15 – P18 only. “When I was still young, my aunt, who has a catering business, would bring me along with her so that’s where I learned and developed my cooking skills,” Faustino shares. Because of Amber’s success, Editha’s uncle decided to look for another place to house his machine shop and let her continue with the restaurant business. Editha wasn’t able to finish her schooling, but she’s happy and proud because her “sipag at tiyaga” brought them good fortune. “’Yun lang ang puhunan ko,” she stresses. Her husband Recci, who used to drive a passenger jeepney, and a school service vehicle in Malabon, now helps in running the business together with their children Rhoda F. Fernandez and Rhonald. Eldest daughter Rhoda joined the business in 1996. She finished AB Sociology from UP Los Baños, MBA at the Ateneo Graduate School of Business, and Master in Food Service Administration from UP Diliman. Rhonald took up electrical and communications engineering at De La Salle University. He used to work in the United States but returned to the Philippines in 2008 to join the family business. Rhoda reveals it was her feasibility study for her graduate studies in UP Diliman that led to the opening of the second Amber restaurant in Muntinlupa, exactly 10 years after the first branch

opened in Makati. Her grandfather Lolo Daddy, who has been very supportive and proud of her interest in further studies, asked her if she was interested to open another branch just across his machine shop in Muntinlupa. Rhoda said yes and put up Amber Golden Spoon Restaurant in 1998. She recalls how he gifted her with a coin bank on her 30th birthday with a note saying “they say life begins at 40 but yours started at 30…expand the business and use every round utensils that you can think of (for a name)”—round being a symbol of prosperity. The restaurant is named after Amber, a resin from a tree sap which is golden-brown in color and believed by the Chinese to be lucky in business. Although managing two branches were tough, Rhoda had bigger plans for Amber. “I’m very aggressive, so I told my parents we shouldn’t stop from having two outlets. We’re going to open more,” recalls Rhoda, who also attended Culinary Institute of America, and the Institute of Culinary Education in New York. Soon, two more branches opened in 2007— Amber Golden Pot Restaurant in Mandaluyong and Amber Golden Bowl Restaurant in Quezon City. When her brother Rhonald decided to come home, they worked together in running the business and were able to open the fifth branch, Amber Golden Cup Restaurant in Parañaque last year. “My parents, my brother and I are all hands on in the business. Mama and Papa usually handle operations, the supplies, etc. Rhonald takes care of the existing branches and is also in charge of finding the right locations for future outlets. While I handle the manpower, accounting and all the paperwork,” explains Rhoda. To ensure the best quality of Amber’s food, cooks are trained in the Makati branch before they are deployed to other branches.

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“Everything is standardized . . . so the pancit in all our branches tastes the same,” Rhoda explains. Aside from pancit Malabon and pichi-pichi, spaghetti, chicken lollipops and lumpiang shanghai are Amber’s bestsellers. The resto is also starting to do away with plastic bags for its “take-out” containers and opts to use brown paper bags and boxes instead. From a handful of employees in 1988, Amber now employs more than 300 workers in all its branches. The number reaches 600 during peak season (October to January) when additional personnel are hired to meet the high demand of orders, according to Rhoda. Most of the workers have been with them for many years, one of whom has been with Amber since its inception in 1988. “They have become part of our family,” Rhoda beams. In fact, like a doting mother, Editha still prepares the menus for the free employees’ meals (from breakfast to dinner). An in-house doctor also holds clinic in the main restaurant for the medical needs of the employees and their families. During Christmas parties and the birthdays of Editha, employees come together for a fun-filled “family” day. The workers so love their boss that in 2007 when Editha got sick and needed an operation, employees trooped to the hospital to donate blood and to attend the daily masses offered for her. “That’s one thing I always tell my children. To always look after the welfare of our employees. Kasi pag minahal mo sila, mamahalin ka rin nila at ang kumpanya,” Editha emphasizes. Amber has come a long way from its humble beginnings and the Faustino family vows to continue its tradition of serving Pinoys with good food at affordable prices. ■


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TUESDAY MARCH 27, 2012

Entertainment www.canadianinquirer.net

Sharon vs Helen: ‘Painful’ BY BAYANI SAN DIEGO JR. Philippine Daily Inquirer

‘THE REASON we stopped talking,’ Mega says, ‘was because they never let up on hurting my family’

Two years ago, Sharon and Helen stopped talking to each other, after yet another controversy involving their husbands. In televised and published reports, Tito had harsh words for Kiko, Sharon recounted.

One vote “The reason we stopped talking was that they never let up on hurting my family,” Sharon said. Although singer-actress Sharon Cuneta would rather “How can they say they love me, and yet not give not dwell on it, her rift with aunt Helen Gamboa has my husband a chance? Tita Helen said that my made the rounds in media and cyberspace and has Uncle Tito’s vote (in the Senate) did not matter. But that one vote would have meant the world to become difficult to ignore. In an exclusive interview with the Inquirer, Sharon us.” The incident surfaced again in a print interview described the tension, ongoing for years now, as that Helen gave last week, where she responded to “painful.” She would rather not go into details, she said, since Sharon saying in another interview: “Yes, politics she is not inclined to discuss family problems in does divide families, like when my uncle says public—something she learned from her parents and, something bad about Kiko…” If she expressed dissatisfaction, Sharon said, in fact, her Tita Helen (younger sister of her mom, she was just calling a spade a spade. Elaine). “It is not like it did not happen,” she said. “It But she did go as far as to say that it is disheartening, was reported on television and in newspapers.” the way politics has driven a wedge between them. Sharon, also known as “Mega” (for megastar), is She found the situation “sad.” Sharon lamented: “She is my aunt. She is among married to Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan; Helen the people who taught me… not to wash dirty is married to Sen. Vicente “Tito” Sotto III. For years, the two senators have been at loggerheads linen in public. This feud is old news. Now, I have over so many issues—starting with the 2004 to talk about it again because it has been turned presidential elections and culminating in Tito’s failure into a spectacle. I am shocked and confused.” She is also stunned that Helen said she had to support Kiko’s 2010 bid for the Senate presidency.

Pinoy actors in ‘Bourne’ share valuable insights BY AMY R. REMO Philippine Daily Inquirer JOHN ARCILLA, one of the few Filipino actors in the cast of “The Bourne Legacy,” said he came to the set of the Tony Gilroy spythriller expecting to be star-struck and intimidated by lead actors Rachel Weisz and Jeremy Renner. He was surprised that he felt neither. “They did not send out the vibe that they were big stars. That was a good thing. You felt they were Hollywood stars only after shooting scenes with them. While we were working, they behaved normally. They weren’t self-absorbed or conceited at all,” Arcilla told the INQUIRER. Arcilla offered this interesting theory about his coactors’ behavior. “I guess they also cannot help but feel they are merely employees. After all, American productions are bigger than their actors. Hollywood has a huge market. It is the film capital of the world.” Arcilla plays the role of a security guard in this fourth installment of the “Bourne” series. He has previously worked on two international productions:

“Amigo,” by American filmmaker John Sayles; and “Metro Manila,” by British director Sean Ellis. Lou Veloso, who plays a ship captain, said he was impressed with how Hollywood actors take their work seriously. “They try to learn as much about the craft as they can,” he explained. “They also live their characters. You cannot disturb them, even to have your photos taken with them. They will allow that only if they are already done for the day. They are very professional. I can understand why some people here would misinterpret this attitude for snobbery.” ‘Bongga pala!’ When it came to talent, however, Veloso said Filipino actors were not so far behind. “These foreigners admitted to being surprised to see how good Filipino actors were. They thought we were raw at first. But when they saw us perform before the camera, they thought bongga pala,” said Veloso, who is himself an accomplished comedian, theater actor, director and politician. Veloso has acted in over 30 films. He won the Best Actor plum at the 36th Brussels International Independent Film Festival in Belgium for his performance in Jon Steffan Ballesteros’s “Colorum.” “My role in ‘ Bourne’ is very small and short. I advise viewers not to blink or they will miss me,” joked Veloso, adding that what really excited him was

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become “unreachable,” that she had changed because of “wealth and fame.” Sharon quipped, laughing, “My weight may fluctuate, but I have not changed. What has changed has nothing to do with money. I have been doing well for so long in that department, long before this problem. I just… grew up.” But she pointed out that she campaigned for Tito in 2010. “I am not asking for anything in return,” she said. “That is what family is about. Sometimes I feel that I am regarded as family only when it is convenient.” Perhaps, she said, her aunt still saw her as the teenager who would invariably make the first move every time they had a misunderstanding, no matter who was in the right. Opportunity “I am no longer 12 years old. I am 46. I have my own life now. I have bigger problems to contend with,” Sharon said. Her priority is her mom, Elaine, her husband and her children, Sharon said. This makes Sharon not just a niece, but also a daughter, wife and mother. “My heart broke when I saw my daughter Frankie cry over this problem [two years ago],” she said. “I cannot forget [that].” Yet she considers this as another opportunity to learn and grow. “My eyes are wide open now,” she said. “As you grow older, you become bolder. I cannot just swallow my feelings every time something goes wrong.”■

the audition process. “It made me feel like a newbie all over again. I felt nervous because there were so many call backs—i think I had four. The production team was so meticulous. It conducted auditions for all the roles that would interact with the characters of Weisz and Renner.” Arcilla was convinced that he got chosen because he “looked more Malay” than the five other actors who auditioned for the same role. “The character is not Americanbred, so I did not need to have a twang or an accent. That is how I presented myself during the audition. But in the actual filming, I tried to sound more like my American coactors to make foreign audiences understand me better.” Arcilla added: “It gives me a certain high knowing that I got picked over some of the best local actors from theater and film. It was a big deal to be chosen.” Also in the cast are Andre Tiangco, Madeleine Nicolas, Ruby Ruiz, Anne Garcia, Ermie Concepcion and Joel Torre. According to producers, Manila will serve as the setting for the film’s “climax,” or the last 25 minutes. The production stayed in the country for eight weeks to shoot scenes in various areas in Metro Manila and in El Nido, Palawan. “The Bourne Legacy,” a Universal Pictures production, will have a US premiere in August. ■


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Entertainment

TUESDAY MARCH 27, 2012

PH actresses stop show at Asian Oscars TWO FILIPINO actresses quite literally stopped the show at the 6th Asian Film Awards (AFA), considered the region’s Oscars, held last March 19 at the Grand Theater of the Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Center.

BY BAYANI SAN DIEGO JR. Philippine Daily Inquirer PEOPLE’S CHOICE Filipino actress Eugene Domingo and Hong Kong actor Andy Lau pose with their trophies after winning the most popular actor and actress awards through online voting at the Asian Film Awards in Hong Kong. Comedian Eugene Domingo won the people’s choice favorite actress award for her role in Marlon Rivera’s “Ang Babae sa Septic Tank” and theater stalwart Shamaine Centenera-buencamino was named best supporting actress, for Loy Arcenas’ “Niño.” For Domingo, however, the bigger prize seemed to be a kiss from people’s choice favorite actor winner, Cantopop superstar Andy Lau, who won for Ann Hui’s “A Simple Life.” AFP IN TEARS Filipino actress Shamaine Buencamino shows her best supporting actress trophy at the 6th Asian Film Awards in Hong Kong. When her name was called as a winner, she wept, she said. When she went up the stage to accept her trophy, Domingo handed her iphone to the presenter, awards chair Wilfred Wong, so he could take her picture with Lau. She then told Lau, “Andy, you must kiss me. I waited 25 years for this.” “Host Janet Hiseh said it was amazing that Uge (Domingo’s nickname) didn’t faint when she got that kiss,” recounted filmmaker Chris Martinez, who was there as a nominee for best screenplay, also for his work in “Septic.” “His kiss felt hard and funny,” Domingo told the INQUIRER via e-mail. “Andy is playful, a good sport and very charming. I adore his spirit.” Best picture Declared best picture was Iran’s “A Separation” (which won the best foreign language film Oscar last

month). The movie also won the best director and best screenplay trophies for Asghar Farhadi. The Asian Film Awards are handed out by the Hong Kong International Film Festival Society. The last time the Philippines scored at the AFA was in 2009, when Gina Pareño won best supporting actress for her work in Brillante Mendoza’s “Serbis.” Domingo confessed that the special award, decided by online voting, caught her by surprise. “I was backstage, waiting for my turn to present the best supporting actor award and wasn’t really paying attention. Then I heard the staff calling out my name.” It was an “unforgettable moment” for Domingo, who dedicated the award to her alma mater, the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, where she took up theater arts. “I want to honor other Filipino artists [with this award],” she said. “It was a long and well-applauded speech,” reported “Septic” producer Joji Alonso. Domingo capped it with with another quip that “brought the house down,” according to filmmaker Senedy Que. She turned to Lau and casually said, “Andy, let’s do a movie together.” In her e-mail, Domingo bragged, “Andy said yes, of course.” Tearful speech Buencamino’s acceptance speech was “moving,” Que related. “Shamaine’s husband (actor) Nonie Buencamino was close to tears in his seat as she dedicated the triumph to him and their four children, to Cinemalaya and the Philippines.” It was Buencamino’s first time in Hong Kong, and she almost didn’t make it. She told the INQUIRER a few months ago that she would be unemployed at the start of 2012 and might not be able to afford the trip. “I only travel for work,” she had said, explaining that holidays were a luxury for her. In an e-mail after the ceremony, Buencamino told the INQUIRER: “When the movie trailers of the other nominees were shown, I told Nonie, ‘I don’t think I’ll win.’

A brilliant tunesmith gone too soon BY POCHOLO CONCEPCION Philippine Daily Inquirer

BODJIE DASIG lived and breathed music—playing the piano and guitar, writing and recording songs for himself and other artists—and he did it well. He was so good at it that, in the early 1990s, he was juggling two careers: as leader of the band Bodjie’s Law of Gravity and as a pop tunesmith for local singers who needed a hit. He was very much in the public consciousness at the time, with radio regularly playing some of his works, like “Ale (Nasa Langit Na Ba Ako),” “Sana Dalawa Ang Puso Ko” and “Ayoko Na Sana.” Then he migrated to the United States with his wife, Odette

Quesada, composer of “Till I Met You” (Kuh Ledesma), “Don’t Know What To Say” and “Give Me a Chance” (Ric Segreto), and “Farewell” (Raymond Lauchengco), among others. Last March 13, some 12 hours after Karl Roy passed away in Manila, Bodjie died of kidney cancer at age 48 in Southern California. He is survived by Odette and their son Darian. A little-known fact about Bodjie was that he paid his dues playing in the band Cicada, which went on to back up Randy Santiago at the height of his fame as a pop singer. Caloy Balcells of The Dawn and Willie Revillame were members of that band. Amazing skills “The first time Bodjie played ‘Ale’ on my guitar, I was amazed,” said

He [replied], ‘ You are already a winner, being here.’” When her name was called out as winner, she wept. “I kissed my husband and walked to the stage. It was while I was walking that my emotions took over,” she said. “God gave me this talent, but I sacrificed my acting career to help raise my family. I felt I was being rewarded for [setting] my priorities. I had to explain on- stage [why I was crying].” Theater-trained She considers herself a newcomer in the movies, she pointed out in the e-mail. “I’ve done only a few films and … this honor is overwhelming. I hope this leads to more jobs … at least now people will hopefully know who I am.” Buencamino, who was a teacher at UP Diliman at the time Domingo was a student, hoped their double victory would lead to a greater respect for theater actors among movie fans. “These [prove] that theatertrained actors can cross over to film and television. Training in acting is essential to an effective performance,” Buencamino stressed. She explained why she dedicated her award to the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival, which was recently rocked by controversy. “Septic” and “Niño” were products of last year’s Cinemalaya. Both Domingo and Buencamino won acting awards in that edition of the festival. Star system bucked “Cinemalaya shouldn’t stop making films. It helped Filipino films get noticed all over the world,” Buencamino said. She noted that, in the past, it was difficult for theater actors to go against the star system and land meaty movie roles. “Indie films allowed us to play challenging roles and now we get recognized for our talent,” she said. Domingo admitted that she was prepared to go home empty-handed. “But I wanted to win, too. This recognition will make our Asian neighbors more aware of Filipino artists. I am very thankful.”■

composer Christine Bendebel (“Urong Sulong,” “Kung Maibabalik Ko Lang”), who runs House of Tunes Music Publishing which handles Bodjie and Odette’s song catalogue. Christine and Odette were both students at the UP Conservatory of Music, and friends. Bodjie was her arranger when she won in an international songwriting competition in 1996, Christine pointed out. And she became one of the bridesmaids at his wedding. In the United States, Bodjie and Odette pursued music as a tandem— performing in concerts and writing songs for albums and stage productions starring Filipinos. “They produced a full-length album for Nora Aunor,” said Christine. “We were updating each other on song royalties and work till last month.” Drummer-vocalist Rocky Collado of The Bloomfields, which recorded

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a version of “Ale,” sent a text message to the INQUIRER: “Bodjie had a unique and often quirky touch to his lyrics. His melodies are brilliant. His songs are so good, on first listen you feel like you’ve always known them.” Willie Nepomuceno, whose three musical-novelty albums (“Menemis Willie,” “Menemis Willie 2,” “Willie Nep for President”) were produced by Bodjie, sent this email: “We fondly called each other ‘friend of mine’ and had great times together. In our studio sessions, there was no difference between work and play ... The law of gravity says, ‘What goes up, must come down.’ But Bodjie’s music will defy that. We will continue ‘gravitating’ to his heavenly songs.” ■


Travel-Phils

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Caught in the whirl of the grandest festival of the North BY CONSTANTINO C. TEJERO The Philippine Daily Inquirer

WELCOME TO the mountains!” said The Manor managing director Heinrich Maulbecker, by way of greeting the Manila trimedia who came over that weekend for the Panagbenga, upon the invitation of The Manor at Camp John Hay. We remember this place in the early 1980s when the Americans were still here, their military recreational camp at Loakan Road in Baguio, one of those hill stations in Southeast Asia. There were three prominent structures then: the Clubhouse, the Commissary, and the wooden staff houses dotting the landscape, in uniform white-andgreen (the American-colonial color, from the Philippine General Hospital to the Manila Hotel to many an old Baguio residence). Lowlanders came here for the dutyfree goods at the Commissary, and the Americansize hamburger at the Clubhouse. On a mistenshrouded night, at 5,000 ft above sea level, one couldn’t keep one’s teeth from chattering even if one was bundled up in three or four garments. On such a night, the media gathered at the Rose Garden for welcome cocktails and dinner hosted by Maulbecker and The Manor general manager Ramon Cabrera. Laid out was a plenitude of comestibles concocted by Le Chef’s patron Billy King (not only a gourmet but also an art collector and film lover). By early morning, still dizzy from the red wine and sleeplessness, we were trudging through the mist to Session Road. The Grand Streetdance Parade wouldn’t start until 8 a.m. but people had already been lining the streets as early as 6 a.m. Very touristic Panagbenga (Kankana-ey term for “a time of blossoming”), also known as the Baguio Flower Festival, is the grandest festival of the North. Conceptualized in 1995 by lawyer Damaso Bangaoet Jr. and designed by what is now the John Hay Management Corp., it was first staged the following year—a step in Baguio’s rebuilding after the 1990 killer earthquake that struck Luzon, to lure back tourists to the Summer Capital. Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan said they had mobilized some 2,000 volunteers for the festival this year, and budgeted P11 million (from P1 million 17 years ago). “We [the city government and the Office of Rep. Bernardo Vergara] have raised P4 million and just hope for the best,” the mayor said with a chuckle. “We still have to collect an additional of at least P7 million from the private sector.” Major sponsors this year included Smart,

Globe, Victory Liner Inc., San Miguel Corp. and TV 5. Festival committee chair Anthony de Leon said Panagbenga had grown from a localized festivity into a full-blown showcase of the various festivities of the Cordillera. It took five weeks of preparation and activities leading to the last weekend of February, drawing a million tourists. “That’s already the tourist traffic on Boracay in one year,” Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. pointed out, adding Panagbenga was a very touristic festival being a 360-degree spectacle. Cordoned off The solid mass of spectators that weekend could be seen thronging the main sidewalks and intersections from Upper Session Road 3 kmdown to Burnham Park and the Baguio Athletic Bowl. To view the parade, accredited members of trimedia had positioned among the hedges on the islands in the middle of Session Road. The rest were cordoned off as the 13 streetdance contingents and the drumand-lyre bands passed by. They gawked and cheered from sloping side-streets while seated as if in miniamphitheaters. “They’re very disciplined,” observed former Tourism Undersecretary Edu Jarque. “They just stay there in their places. Unlike in other festivals such as the Sinulog, where crowds become uncontrollable and rush anywhere in the streets.” Performances on the field could be seen only from a distance since getting near the venue was off-limits even to press photographers. Most of the 2,000 participants were garbed in traditional Cordillera attires, the male youths in bahag (loincloth or G-string), leading some wits to call their performance “butt-dance.” Third prize went to “Life at Break of Dawn” of Baguio City National High School, inspired by a Bontoc folklore and replete with Mountain Province costumes, instruments and planting songs. Second prize was “Kawayan” of the City Government of Tabuk, an initiation rite of a Kalinga teenage boy participated by the whole community, characterized by native dances, indigenous games and communal prayer. First prize was won by “Adivay” of the Local Government of Kabayan, a spectacular display of Benguet culture inspired by the Ibaloi festival of harvest and thanksgiving. That night, our dinner at the Clubhouse was a feast of surprising concoctions by King and his imaginative chefs: lamb sinigang, bacon-enwrapped chicken, crispfried pork belly, chillis rellenos, suman á la mode—capped by steaming, fragrant,

robust Cordillera coffee, quite invigorating in nippy Baguio weather. Solidly bedecked The next day, we started earlier as the Grand Float Parade on the same route was drawing more spectators, and we had yet to jostle our way to our station among the hedges. The sunlight was blinding. Ushering the parade were “Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom” streamers, followed by the contingent of city officials led by Mayor Domogan. The Philippine Military Academy color guards and cadets were aglint. The festival theme music, composed by Saint Louis University professor Macario Fronda, erstwhile lackluster to the ears of first-time visitors, started growing on you whether struck on the xylophone or blared from trumpet or bassoon. Popular was the Korean delegation, attired in traditional, Koreapop and taekwondo outfits. A few boys showed off their martial prowess, somersaulting on the sloping pavement to the crowd’s delight. The city has a large Korean community. “They’re loved,” commented Undersecretary Jarque. Finally, the 25 floats appeared, solidly bedecked with the flowers of Baguio (or, to be exact, Trinidad Valley): chrysanthemums, everlasting, dahlias, hydrangeas, gladioli, poinsettias, lilies, anthuriums, sunflowers, daisies, roses. They were led by the three Hall of Fame winners: City of Baguio, with its Angry Birds and annoying green piglets; Baguio Country Club, with its “Star Wars” motif complete with storm troopers, robots, Ewoks, Jedi knights, Yoda, Darth Vader; and SM, with its Year of the Dragon theme, featuring a dragon of floral mosaic spewing smoke. Awed and frenzied The spectators were, of course, astounded, but not as awed as when the Battle of the Networks began with the coming of their floats. The “Good Morning Club” hosts made merry on the TV 5 float. It wasn’t until the GMA 7 float appeared, graced by Dingdong Dantes in white guayabera shirt and Marian Rivera in violet body-hugger, that the crowd really made a stir. The lovey-dovey couple demonstrated to the public how to display affection, as they kissed, in the middle of Session Road and on a float yet. More frenzied was the reception of ABSCBN’S rambunctious “Showtime!” hosts. Crowds went wild with the crash of cymbals, the bang of gongs, the throbbing of timpani. Meanwhile, the real hero appeared at the tail-end of the parade: International Boxing Federation light-flyweight

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champion Johnriel Casimiro, looking a bit uncomfortable amid the adulating throng, alone on a float sponsored by a brand of rubbing alcohol. There were longer lulls between the floats than the previous day, so the parade took longer to navigate the same stretch, ending just before lunchtime. Third prize went to the float of Manila North Tollways Corp., with its sexy dancers; 2nd prize, Department of Tourism, with the giant sunflower and sun-and-moon happy faces; 1st prize, M. Lhuillier, with the Miss Earth Philippines beauty titlists. The 17th Panagbenga reached its climax Feb. 25-26, and officially ended with a closing program and fireworks display on March 4. Missing and missed Secretary Jimenez said the festival was driven by five factors: as homecoming not only for Baguio folk but also for lowlanders who’ve made the city a kind of reunion place through the years; its visual fascination, in this case, the fascination with flowers; being a subject of the social media; its energy, that is, the participatory energy in any festival; and the stakeholders, particularly the business community and the LGUS. Bangaoet noted that we had a festival for everything. It must be the animism of the atavistic Filipinos, which five centuries of Christianity have not eradicated, that makes us commemorate every object both animate and inanimate, from flowers to thunderstorm to ants to smoked fish. Our farewell cocktails and dinner that weekend was at Little Camp John Hay, with live entertainment, a rustic atmosphere with goats and antlered deer, and a dap-ay warming the chill air. At dawn, viewed from The Manor suite’s veranda, the magnificent outline of the Cordillera emerged on the orangestreaked horizon. As the landscape unfolded in broad daylight, one could see the rapid development taking place in the 246-hectare Camp John Hay. A new hotel had just opened in time for the Panagbenga. Construction of the Ayala Techno Hub was ongoing. And what used to be the Commissary was now a sprawling bazaar. We could no longer find those whiteandgreen staff houses. Alfredo Yñiguez III, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Camp John Hay Development Corp., said they had to demolish those structures as most were termite-eaten, though a few they had retained for reuse. There was no mist; instead, there was burning sunlight from a cloudless sky. We still remember the pungent, resin scent of pine trees, like incense sanctifying the place.■


A 31

TUESDAY MARCH 27, 2012

Travel-Canada

Mount Seymour

Snowtubing Mount Seymour

Cypress Mountain Snowboarding

Toboganning Mount Seymour

Cypress Mountain

Night skiing at Grouse Mountain

Grouse Mountain Gondola

Vancouver’s Classic North Shore Mountains SKIING MAY not have originated in the Coast Mountains, but over the better part of the past century, Vancouver’s three North Shore snow sport destinations are where most BC residents have trekked to practise their skills, whether on skis, snowboards or snowshoes. As the official Freestyle Skiing and Snowboard Venue for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, Cypress Mountain has plenty to entice — whether or not you go for the gold. With a vertical rise of 610 metres (2,010 feet), highest on the North Shore, Black Mountain (elevation 1,200 metres/3,940 feet) is one of three peaks that make up West Vancouver’s Cypress Mountain complex; alpine skiing and snowboarding also takes place

on Mt. Strachan (elevation 1,440 metres/4,720 feet), which shares 53 runs, six chairlifts (including two high-speed quad chairlifts) and three surface lifts. Not to be left out, Nordic enthusiasts can point their skinny skis to nearby Hollyburn Ridge’s 19 kilometres (12 miles) of groomed/classic track set trails, with skate skiing lanes and an additional 10 kilometres (six miles) of both self-guided and guided-tour snowshoe routes, drawing those looking for a crunch through the trees. www.cypressmountain.com In North Vancouver, Grouse Mountain was the first local hill to host a World Cup ski competition in 1970. Ski or ride off the top of the Peak (elevation 1,249 metres/4,100 feet) to see how

those giant slalom racers must have felt as they looked down on the harbour far below; the view is a big part of the draw for the 1.25 million visitors per year who ride the Skyride gondola to the Peak Chalet where, in 1949, Grouse installed the world’s first double chairlift. Nowadays, four quad chairlifts (including two highspeed quads) and one surface lift whisk skiers and snowboarders to three terrain parks, as well as 26 trails with a vertical gain of 365 metres (1,200 feet). In addition to skiing, Grouse offers ice skating, as well as snowshoe options, with a sophisticated blend of beginner and high-performance loops as much as five kilometres (three miles) in length. www.grousemountain.com

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At Mt Seymour Resort, Grouse’s neighbour to the east, the rental department stocks 5,000 pairs of skis and boards — a figure that illuminates just how many Vancouverites choose to take their first lessons on Seymour’s slopes. All told, 39 trails serviced by three chairlifts and two surface lifts fan out for 330 metres (1,082 feet) of vertical drop below Brockton Summit. Equally impressive are the 10 kilometres (six miles) of groomed paths along Mt Seymour’s Discovery Snowshoe Trails network. As with Cypress Mountain, paved roadways lead from sea level to the base of Mt Seymour Resort’s mountain operations; and for those living car free, shuttle buses service both mountains. www.mountseymour.com


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Canada: Seen and Scenes

TUESDAY MARCH 27, 2012 34

A

The 1lsv An1mo Vancouver Sun Run Team living the An1mo

KOR Region Degree Team and those initiated at Kalayaan Community Cultural Center in Mississauga, Ontario

Eliscupides and Banaag families at Lac Louise

IL Divo: IL Divo of Asia composed of George Sison-Tagle, its founder, Rei Paolo Libiran and John Louie Abaigarto, to sing at Pinoy Fiesta & Trade Show on June 9th at Metro Convention Center

MP Alice Wong with Richmond stakeholders and business owners, including staff of the Philippine Canadian Inquirer

The Knights and Ladies and families who attended the Initiation and promotion ceremonies at Kalayaan Community Cultural Centre in Mississauga

Sir Lapulapu Cana, KGCR, dubbing of Sir Pierre Gene Romulo Sinajon, KR to the Knights of Rizal

Gaby and Kaela Eliscupides at the International Ice Carving Competition in Banff Lake Louise

KOR Region Degree Team and those initiated at Kalayaan Community Cultural Center in Mississauga, Ontario

Canada Region Degree Teamwho conducted the Inititation ( from right) Canada Region Commander Sir George R. Poblete, KGOR, Sir Delfin Pilalapil, KCR, Sir Lapulapu Cana, KGCR,Sir Dr, Romy Sinajon, KCR and Sir Joe Damasco, KGOR

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