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MARCH 16-31, 2013

PLANET



PHILIPPINES

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By francis t.j. ochoa

F silence had a name, it was probably stuck in the open mouths of a thousand stunned spectators inside a mall theater one particular Sunday afternoon in December. Just moments ago, the revitalized crowd cheered as their icon pummeled away at a ghost he had failed to bury several times in the past, the roar getting louder as punch after punch pushed the familiar nemesis to the ropes. And then, just as the crescendo reached its peak, a sud- The part-time politician vows to rise again and seeks a fifth match with his Mexican nemesis. den quiet muffled the theater. For a split second, it seemed that some law of physics had vacuumed every bit of sound off the venue and left everything dead mute. And then, as the wide screen flashed the reason for the sudden silence and replayed the moments that led to it, the sound came back—initially in waves of murmurs, that gradually rose into questions. “What just happened? Could this be real?” Those were the only two questions asked by most everyone—from the lanky security guard badgered by ticket holders who could not find their seats, to the family of three halfway through their popcorn and the couch analyst loudly annotating the fight.

THE LIFE CYCLE

OF A CHAMP But while Donaire proved ready to take on the mantle of hero worship from Pacquiao, it seems that thoughts of retirement are farthest from the mind of the Sarangani representative.“We shall rise again,”

Manny Pacquiao, on the floor, motionless. All it took was one punch from rival Juan Manuel Marquez, and the boxing equivalent of a telenovela came to a crushing, unexpected and definitive end. Shock gave way to concern when Pacquiao, the world’s only eight-division cham-

pion, failed to stir after several minutes on the floor. And concern gave way to palpable relief when the boxing hero finally got up. “I got careless,” Pacquiao later told journalists and television reporters. “I did not see the punch coming.” Exactly a week after, the guy tipped to carry on the legacy of Pacquiao climbed the ring in a Houston arena, brimming with optimism despite the obvious burden of a nation’s hope weighing down on his shoulders. But NonitoDonaire Jr., the one they call “The Filipino Flash,” took all those expectations and wielded it as a weapon against Mexican warrior Jorge Arce, throwing devastating punch after devastating punch until his left hook found its mark at the end of the third. Down went the gutsy Arce. Up went the spirits of a nation. “I knew after Manny Pacquiao’s loss, I had to come up with something big for the Filipino people,” Donaire told reporters. It was the fourth win in a busy 2012 for Donaire, a feat that underscored his value as the next great pay-per-view superstar in the world boxing scene. It also cemented his claim as one of the sport’s legitimate superstars. In fact, immediately after pole-axing Arce, big names were floated as the next possible foes for the technically gifted fighter. But while Donaire proved ready to take on the mantle of hero worship from Pac-

The whole boxing world received with disbelief Pacquiao’s shocking knockout loss to Marquez.


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quiao, it seems that thoughts of retirement are farthest from the mind of the Sarangani representative. In fact, when Pacquiao came home after his devastating loss, the first words he uttered during a press conference were those that everyone hoped for: “We shall rise again,” he vowed. That, plus the contrasting fate of both fighters set the stage for an intriguing 2013. For both fighters, the question is, what now? Both fighters have a ton of options before them. But for each, there is one fight of great significance that needs to be made. For Manny Pacquiao, it is a fifth fight with Marquez. Forget their first three bouts. Team Pacquiao must now look at the fourth fight as the first of their rivalry. It had a definitive finish. It was action packed. And it set up a rematch so huge, even Pacquiao-Mayweather, a fight that was always in limbo anyway, slipped into temporary irrelevance. Trainer Freddie Roach had earlier wanted a rematch to happen immediately, telling reporters that setting up Pacquiao for a tune-up fight was “unnecessary.” But several things have happened since then, including Marquez telling a boxing website that he was no longer interested in a fifth fight. “I think for me, there is no point [in staging a fifth fight],” Marquez said. “We already achieved the desired result. Why do it? So I asked several people, several friends (whom) I have around me and they told me not to do it, that there is no point in a fifth fight.” Of course, those were the exact same words Pacquiao had said after the third bout. And yet No. 4 came to fore. Money talks in boxing. And it can convince a satisfied Marquez to climb the ring and do the whole thing all over again. Before that fifth fight happens, though, Pacquiao has to settle some matters. There’s the election coming up in May, and his wife Jinkee and brother Rogelio are both running for public office. And then there’s the possibility of him fighting someone other than Marquez before getting back to the ring against his nemesis. Brandon Rios and Robert Guerrero have been tagged as possible opponents for Pacquiao. Of the two, it is Rios (31-0, 23 KOs) who has Roach’s attention. “I think Rios is a compelling fight,” Roach told reporters. “He’s action packed. He’s an aggressive, young kid. He talks a lot of smack and sells tickets.” “It will be a very competitive fight,” Roach said. So competitive that the Hall-of-Fame trainer is “a little worried about that fight.”

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PHILIPPINES

MARCH 16-31, 2013

Donaire’s continued rise served as ego-booster to a dejected nation in the aftermath of Pacquiao’s misfortune. “It’s the young versus the old,” he said. Of course, there’s another voice of reason trying to factor itself in in the whole equation, and it’s coming from one who has Pacquiao’s ear most of the time. “I know he is still capable of fighting but for me, he has nothing to prove,” said wife Jinkee in an interview with USA Today. “He already has eight belts. He can retire—stop— any time. I want him to stop now. But he has the last say. Boxers risk their lives; some end up in wheelchairs. I don’t want that to happen to Manny.” Jinkee went hysterical after the knockout against Marquez and was caught on TV trying to get to her man as he lay unconscious on the ring. “It’s the first time I’ve seen him like that and I was scared,” she said. For Donaire, the future is more clear-cut. His 4-0 sweep in 2012 became the toast of the boxing world, with every award-giving outlet naming him the Fighter of the Year. He has reached that point in his career when he can pick opponents and headline pay-perview cards. Donaire will fight on April 13 in Radio City Music Hall in New York. And that opponent will be undefeated Cuban and former amateur sensation Guillermo Rigondeaux. The fight that most want to see though is that against Abner Mares, the WBC Mexican champion. But conflicts between the two fighters’ promotional outfits forced the cancellation of talks—after much online and social media preening. The two super bantamweight champions

have generated so much intrigue that Golden Boy Promotions offered Top Rank Chief Bob Arum $3 million to hold the bout. GBP handles Mares while Top Rank promotes Donaire. Both outfits are fierce rivals and it is their enmity that people point to when doing an autopsy on the collapse of Pacquiao-Mayweather talks. “I think both fighters, Abner Mares and NonitoDonaire, deserve to make the most money out of this fight,” said GBP chief op-

erating officer Richard Shaefer. “I’m willing to put up an offer to Bob Arum to provide the services of Donaire. I am willing to offer them $3 million.” GBP boss Oscar De La Hoya later joined the challenge, firing a post on his Twitter page that said: “Let’s see what excuse Bob Arum will come up with now. I’m sure Nonito will agree that $3 million is a lot of moolah.” Still, the fight didn’t materialize. And Donaire will do a lot of heavy lifting PPVwise when he faces Rigondeaux, who isn’t a hot sell just yet despite his stellar Olympic career. For Donaire, though, the tougher challenge is to establish himself in the same way culturally as Manny Pacquiao has. While the Pacman has embedded himself in worldwide pop culture, Donaire has a lot of catching up to do before he can be acknowledged as Pacquiao’s heir apparent. Maybe it’s Donaire’s upbringing, his having been raised halfway around the world, that makes Filipinos’ acceptance of him vastly different from the way Pacquiao is adored. But he’s young and he has a lot of potential. After the Rigondeaux fight, Donaire plans to take a break as his wife prepares to give birth to their first child. In the meantime, the Filipino public waits with bated breath as their revered icon of choice plots his comeback, hoping to rise from the rubble of a crushing defeat and quelling the need, nay even the mere thought, of an heir apparent. (Philippine Daily Inquirer) n

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PHILIPPINES

Cardinal Tagle Stirs Papal Talk with Rapid Rise

MUS, Cavite -Asia’s most prominent Roman Catholic leader knows how to reach the masses: He sings on stage, preaches on TV, brings churchgoers to laughter and tears with his homilies. And he’s on Facebook. But Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle’s best response against the tide of secularism, clergy sex abuse scandals and rival-faith competition could be his reputation for humility. His compassion for the poor and unassuming ways have impressed followers in his homeland, Asia’s largest Catholic nation, and church leaders in the Vatican. Tagle’s rising star has opened a previously unimaginable possibility: An Asian pope. The Filipino prelate’s chances are considered remote, as many believe that Latin America or Africa — with their faster growing Catholic flocks — would be more logical choices if the papal electors look beyond Europe. But even the hint of papal consideration has electrified many in the heavily Catholic Philippines, where past pontiffs had been welcomed by millions with rock-star intensity. “It’ll bring such immense glory to us and our country,” said Leo Matias, one of several waiters at a Chinese restaurant in Quezon City who served dinner to Pope John Paul II when he visited in 1995. The restaurant has displayed the set of spoon, fork, table napkin, water goblet and knives — still unwashed after the pope’s meal of grilled fish and fried shrimp. The talks surrounding Tagle have been fueled by prominent Vatican experts, who see in the boyishlooking cardinal the religious zest, stamina, charisma and communications skills that could energize

The talks surrounding Tagle have been fueled by prominent Vatican experts, who see in the boyish-looking cardinal the religious zest, stamina, charisma and communications skills that could energize the church facing crises on many fronts.

Tagle’s rising star has opened a previously unimaginable possibility: An Asian pope.

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Cardinals congratulate the Manila Archbishop after his elevation to the Conclave of Cardinal last November. the church facing crises on many fronts. John Thavis, a Vatican analyst and author of The Vatican Diaries, said the 1979 selection of Polishborn John Paul II in 1979 shows the “unthinkable” can occur once the cardinals are closed off in the conclave. “There are people, even Vatican officials here, who have whispered to me, ‘Tagle, he’s the man,’” Thavis told AP Television News. When asked about the papal buzz, Tagle demurred: “Only a speculation.” “He’s an effective communicator and missionary at a time when Catholicism’s highest internal priority is a new evangelization,” John Allen, a Rome-based analyst, wrote for the National Catholic Reporter. “Tagle incarnates the dramatic growth of Catholicism outside the West, putting a face on the dynamic and relatively angst-free form of Catholicism percolating in the Southern Hemisphere,” he said. “He would certainly be a symbol of the church in the emerging world, but given his intellectual and personal qualities, hardly a hollow one.” Still, Tagle’s relative youth — at 55, he’s the second youngest among the cardinals — could be a liability. Cardinals could be reluctant to risk giving the reins of the Vatican to someone who could reign for decades. The churchman who last caught the deep adoration of many Filipino Catholics was Jaime Cardinal Sin, who died in 2005. A beloved spiritual leader and moral compass, Sin helped rally multitudes in the massive “people power” revolts that ousted two presi-


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Vatican expertssee in the boyish-looking cardinal the religious zest, stamina, charisma and communications skills that could energize the church. dents, including dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986. Sin’s death left a vacuum in the church saddled with the task of shepherding Catholics in a country plagued by poverty, divisions, crimes and long-raging Muslim and Marxist insurgencies. Unlike Sin, Tagle was not propelled by any extraordinary events. But people who know him say that Tagle slowly carved a reputation for simple, day-to-day acts that defined him as a man of deep faith and intellect. The younger of two children of a pious Catholic couple who worked in a bank, Tagle dreamed of becoming a doctor. But he was redirected by a Jesuit friend to the priesthood at a seminary in the upscale Ateneo de Manila University, where he graduated summa cum laude, according to his theology professor, the Rev. Catalino Arevalo.

He’s gifted with great communications skills: A wonderful storyteller with a bent for music, Tagle speaks Italian, French, English, Tagalog and Latin. But he prefers to stay in the background. “He’s not somebody who sort of wants to, by personality, put himself at the center of the stage,” Arevalo said. “Now, if he’s called to be in front, he has all the capability of doing it.” Tagle took clear positions on church and social issues but was never confrontational or “super militant,” Arevalo said. For instance, he encouraged dialogue when he helped lead an unsuccessful church campaign against the governmentendorsed health plan that promotes contraceptives. Tagle was ordained in 1982 and became bishop in 2001 at an old cathedral, about a block from his family’s home in Imus just south of Manila.



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Aside from his church work, he taught theology in a hilltop seminary, where he lived for about two decades, staying in a room that had no television or air-conditioning, according to seminary staffers. Even as a bishop, Tagle did not own a car. He took the bus or jeepney to church and elsewhere. He ate with workers and sang for a church charity, impressing many with his baritone voice. Tagle stood out for his powerful homilies. A few years ago, he started hosting a Sunday gospel show on TV, where he preached and answered questions. Staffers then opened a Facebook page for

SUDOKU RULES: Place a number from 1-9 in each empty cell. Each row, column and 3x3 block bounded by bold line (9 blocks) contains all the numbers from 1-9

Solution on page 35

Tagle’s path at some pointcrossed with the future pope,thenCardinal Joseph Ratzinger. him, which has jumped to more than 120,000 followers. Tagle’s path at some point crossed with the future pope, thenCardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who introduced him to John Paul II and reportedly assured the pontiff in jest that the Filipino with a youthful face has received his first communion. Ratzinger appointed Tagle as a member of the Vatican’s International Theological Commission, or ITC, and was impressed with his research work and papers. “I am sure that it was because of

MARCH 16-31, 2013

what he saw in him at the ITC that Pope Benedict chose him for Manila and then for the red hat” of a cardinal, said the Rev. Joseph Komonchak, one of Tagle’s instructors at Catholic University of America. In October 2011, Benedict declared Tagle the new archbishop of Manila, then just a year later, elevated him to cardinal. Tagle tearfully acknowledged in a recent homily in Imus that he was overwhelmed by his rapid rise. “It’s unnerving,” he said. Larger audiences have turned up to listen to his talks and homilies, where he often raised the need for the Catholic Church to reconnect with people. Almost always, Tagle is mobbed like a movie star by fans jostling to get his picture. “I think many of the cardinals will say, ‘It’s too much, too soon,’” the professor Arevalo said of Tagle’s chances in the conclave. But he added: “We don’t know what God wants. If God wants it, God will make up for it.” (Associated Press) n


Power of Church PLANET

MARCH 16-31, 2013

The majority of Catholics do not support the church’s stand on contraception and family planning. By jason strother • Christian Science Monitor

ANILA -- As the Vatican commences its Papal Conclave in Rome, a test of the Catholic Church’s moral and political influence is underway in the Philippines. Catholicism has been the predominant religion of the Philippines since the 1500s and it has the third largest number of Catholic citizens in the world, a legacy of the country’s Spanish colonial history. But church critics here say that now is the time to put the nation’s devout Catholic past behind them and move toward a more secular state. Some analysts point out that just as in other Roman Catholic majority countries in Europe and South America, the Church’s influence in the Philippines is



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Slipping in the Philippines Multiple opinion polls reveal that the majority of Filipinos no longer agree with the Catholic Church’s stance on contraception. And that was enough to compel President Aquino and other lawmakers to challenge the church’s authority.

waning. Steven Shirley, author of Guided By God: The Legacy of the Catholic Church in Philippine Politics, says the adoption of the Reproductive Health Law, despite church protest, is proof of that. “Its a sign that the Philippines is becoming globalized, that the

younger generation is opening up to other ideas beyond the church,” says Mr. Shirley. “It’s a sign that their politics have the ability to go beyond the power of religious groups.” Since colonial times, the Archdiocese has wielded what some call unjust power in the Philippines. In recent decades, the church has been able to make or break the careers of Filipino presidents: It helped take down Joseph Estrada for his alleged corruption and helped bring Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo into power in 2001. But activists have been emboldened by the passage of the Reproductive Health Law this past De-

Some analysts say the power of social media has supplanted that of sermons.

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A sign outside the Quiapo Church in Manila makes no bones about the church’s objection to the Reproductive Health measure. cember. The Catholic Church of the Philippines vehemently opposes the legislation because of its provision to provide free contraceptives and family planning services to the poor. During its decade-long fight against the bill, the clergy called for civil unrest and even threatened to excommunicate President Benigno Aquino. “I think people are finding the weaknesses of the Catholic Church,” says Red Tani, founder of Filipino Free Thinkers, a secular activist group. “Filipinos have seen the way politicians have been cowed and bullied [by the Church]. People are becoming more critical.” “They’ve been able to shoot down centuries of Catholic doctrine with just one bill,” Shirley adds. “This is really a challenge to the church’s power.” The church may have believed that the nation’s nearly 80 million Catholics were all in tow. But multiple opinion polls, such as those conducted by the survey group Social Weather Stations, reveal that the majority of Filipinos no longer agree with the Catholic Church’s stance on contraception. And that was enough to compel Aquino and other lawmakers to challenge the Archdiocese’s authority.

How did it happen? The Catholic Church here has asserted its influence over the years from both pulpits and podiums. Priests were known to tell congregations not to read newspapers and rely on the clergy as their only source for information, according to Shirley. The Church’s school system teaches Catholic values from the elementary to university level. But some analysts say the power of

The Church here hasasserted its influence over the yearsfrom both pulpits and podiums. social media has supplanted that of sermons. “There is now space where voices come out to express views that are not in line with the conventional or traditional views,” says Maria Lourdes Rebullida, who lectures in politics at the University of the Philippines in Quezon City. “You get it from television [and social] networking, and you have a lot of Western or non-Filipino ideas coming into the country.” But the Catholic Church of the Philippines has not given up the fight for influence. Ahead of congressional elections in May, clergy have launched a campaign against the lawmakers who voted in favor of the Reproductive Health Law. Recently, a bishop in Bacolod City hung a poster on the side of a cathedral that labels politicians as on Team Buhay(those who vetoed the bill) or Team Patay(those who supported it). “They are really turning up the heat on these guys, associating the bill with sin and death, against God, unnatural, and immorality, all the words they can throw out,” Shirley says. It’s still possible, he says, that the church might be able



PHILIPPINES

to use this occasion to reenergize its base and win back some of its influence that’s been eroded over the years.

At a crossroads Both the Archdiocese of Manila as well as the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines were unable to provide a representative for interview at the time of writing. But even some devout Catholics say that the church’s doctrinal stances have, in part, turned some of the flock away. And other denominations with alternative doctrine are welcoming them in. “The church is in a crossroads today, absolutely. The parish priests are losing their members to the charismatic groups. The influence of the priests is waning, the influence of the lay preachers is there,” says Anthony Perez, founder of the Catholic advocacy group Filipinos For Life. He admits that the church just doesn’t have the same appeal it used to, and they must find new ways to compete with Protestants and engage those who feel they are slip-

ping away from Catholicism. “The church has to recognize the change of paradigm.” Mr. Perez says groups like his are stepping in to help the church win back some of its lost influence. In February, Filipinos For Life and a number of other Catholic groups filed a petition with the Supreme Court to have the Reproductive Health Law declared unconstitutional. Activist Tani doesn’t think the Church will regain any lost ground in the elections. Filipinos have

MARCH 16-31, 2013

moved on, he says. “Even though the Philippines is predominantly Catholic, it does not mean we agree or obey whatever the clergy tells us to do,” he says. “They [the clergy] has no clout in telling people who to vote for.” Tani says the success of the Reproductive Health Law has set the stage to take on other Catholic taboos enshrined into Philippine law. His organization has teamed with some legislators to legalize divorce, and he says he sees another battle over morality looming. n


MARCH 16-31, 2013

When Religion

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Turns

Political

For the Church to put up gigantic tarpaulins on the walls of a cathedral, enumerating the names of senatorial candidates who must be elected or rejected, as the case may be, solely on the basis of how they voted on a piece of legislation deemed important by the Church, is to take on a directly political role.

Tarpaulins hang outside a church in Bacolod listing the senatorial candidates who must be elected or rejected. By randy david

S a student of society, I see religion primarily as a form of communication. In simple societies, it may often permeate all of everyday life, making it difficult to say what belongs to religion and what does not. As societies become more complex, they develop other ways of talking about the world that do not employ the code of religion. Examples of these are science, politics, art, law, the economy. While it is true that almost all of these had religious starting points, now they are differentiated in varying degrees from religious discourse. In the modern world, a person can remain deeply religious in her outlook in life, while maintaining a profound respect for what Benedict XVI refers to as a “healthy secularity.” Accordingly, she accepts the reality of a world in which things can have meanings other than those that religion may assign to them. What worries Benedict is not a world that is differentiated into autonomous spheres, but a world that makes no room for religion at all. Faith, Benedict insisted, must purify reason and offer an antidote

Benedict XVI says the Church must not speak on matters that are taken up by society as political or scientific or legal issues.

to nihilism and moral relativism. But, in like manner, he saw the need for the “divine light of reason” to cure the “pathologies of religion.” No doubt, he had in mind the excesses that result when religious belief is cynically employed as an instrument to attain strictly secular ends. One of the many reasons he was called a “reactionary” pontiff was the sharp line he drew between what he called the “political task” and the religious task of “forming consciences.” Two years after he became pope, he spoke to the bishops of Latin America, the birthplace of liberation theology. He told them: “The Church is an advocate of justice and of the poor precisely because she does not identify with politicians or with partisan interests. Only by remaining independent can she teach the great criteria and inalienable values, guide consciences and offer a life choice that goes beyond the political sphere. To form consciences, to be the advocate of justice and truth, to educate in individual and political virtues: that is the fundamental vocation of the Church in this area. And lay Catholics must be aware of their responsibilities in public life. They must be present in the formation of the necessary consensus and in opposition to injustice.” Nowhere in these pronouncements is Benedict saying that the Church must not speak on mat-


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ters that are taken up by society as political or scientific or legal issues. But he is quite explicit in saying that it must stay within its distinct operational sphere. The Church must avoid “transforming herself into a directly political subject… identifying herself with a single political path and with debatable partisan positions.” The point he makes here hinges very much on an understanding of the nature of religious communication as distinguished from, let us say, political communication. I would argue, with Benedict, that religious communication revolves around the teaching of “the great criteria and inalienable values” based on faith, and “offer[ing] a life choice that goes beyond the political sphere.” It should concern itself with teaching “the great criteria,” not with listing down the names of political parties or of candidates for public office. To resort to the latter is to risk making religious communication indistinguishable from political propaganda. For the Church to put up gigantic tarpaulins on the walls of a cathedral, enumerating the names



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The Reproductive Health bill, which later became law despite strong objections by the Catholic Church, is one of the most controversial legislative measure in recent year. of senatorial candidates who must be elected or rejected, as the case may be, solely on the basis of how they voted on a piece of legislation deemed important by the Church, is to take on a directly (and, I would also say, narrowly) political role. The Commission on Elections precisely regards these tarpaulins as political in nature, which is why it has called the attention of the Diocese of Bacolod merely

in regard to their size. The diocese has been ordered to reduce the size of the tarpaulins to make them conform to the rules on campaign posters. But, instead of abiding, Bacolod Bishop Vicente Navarra has asked the Supreme Court to restrain the Comelec on the ground that the order violates the Church’s exercise of its freedom of expression. If I were the good bishop, I would worry less about whether

A Church-supported prayer rally to oppose the Reproductive Health measure which provides contraception methods.

these tarpaulins are legal or not, and more about how the Bacolod faithful themselves view this overt expression of political preferences. Do they accept it as a valid performance of the Church’s function? Or are they disturbed that the clergy is taking on an unmistakably political role? The check must come from within the Church itself. Benedict worried that if the Church transformed

MARCH 16-31, 2013

herself into a political subject, “she would lose her independence and her moral authority” as a teacher of values and virtues. When the Church speaks about the need to promote a culture of life, or to reject what it sees as a culture of death, in reference to any public issue, it may be argued that this is an integral part of its teaching function. But, when it takes the further step of naming candidates to be chosen or to be rejected, then it is substituting its conscience for that of the faithful. Campaigning for or against particular candidates is all right if this is done by the laity outside Church grounds in the exercise of their political rights, but not when it is done by the clergy in the performance of their religious function. Benedict’s concern was always, above all, to make the Church’s distinct voice heard in a world riven by the clamor of many voices. Those political tarpaulins on the cathedral wall do a great disservice to the Church’s voice. (Philippine Daily Inquirer) n


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MARCH 16-31, 2013

10

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Text by Tonette T. Orejas • Photos by E. I. Reymond T. Orejas

ITY OF SAN FERNANDO---It isn’t difficult looking for Ruben Enaje in the tight maze of houses in Barangay San Pedro Cutud in this Pampanga capital. The search easily yields him if you ask around using this moniker: “Yung nagpapakolagisakrus.” Enaje, turning 52 this year, has painfully earned this tag because he has been doing his panata (religious pledge) of real-life crucifixion in the last 26 years. And he’s doing it for the 27th time again this year in Cutud. Devotees transform a hill on PurokKuatro into a local Calvary Enaje shows the four stainless nails to be used in his Lenten crucifixion ritual, his 27th this year. during Semana Santa.

The Crucifixion Man

“I think I’m the only Filipino who has been doing this for the longest time,” Enaje says as he paused from painting a signboard to give way to a Planet Philippines interview. In the compound where he makes signboards, billboards and streamers for a living, he neatly secured four black wooden crosses away from the jumble of wood, paints, frames and clothesline. Three of the crosses are going to be fixed on the hill on Good Friday, March 29. The middle cross is where he is raised and nailed. The fourth cross, the middle part of which is tied with orange plastic rope and weighs 50 kilograms, is carried by Enaje during the street play “Via Crusis (Way of the Cross)” where he acts the part of Jesus Christ. On both counts, he is living two traditions in the predominantly Catholic village. Old residents reckon these to be the Crucifixion, which the late itinerant faith health ArtemioAnoza began in 1961, and the mounting of Via Crusis, which the late Ricardo Navarro started in 1955. Enaje, a Catholic, took to the cross in 1986, less than a year after he survived a fall while painting a billboard at the outer wall of a three-story building near the Philippine Rabbit Bus station in Tarlac City. He woke up without any fractures, wounds or internal bleeding. “Out of gratitude, I promised God I would share His sufferings on the cross. I promised Him nine years,” he relates. He continued the vow to ask God to cure his daughter Ejay who suffered from bouts of asthma. Although this wish was granted,

Pampanga’s gory crucifixion spectacle on Good Friday stars a poor signboard maker who took to the cross 26 years ago after surviving a bad fall with only minor scratches. He made a vow to reenact Christ’s crucifixion for nine years. He is now on his 27th year.

Enaje extended the vow when a large lump grew on his wife Juanita’s left jaw. The lump was gone in four years but Enaje decided to complete the third nine-year vow, which is supposed to end this year. “I wish I could retire because His blessings have been too many already. But our village leaders want me to continue because the man who wants to replace me has a lot of vices. They find him unworthy of playing Christ either in the Via Crusis or in the Crucifixion,” Enaje explains.

Juanita joins the conversation, telling her husband, “You are always brought to the hospital for some ailments whenever you say ‘this is going to be my last year.”Enaje nods in agreement. Remigio de la Cruz, the barangay captain, describes Enajeas “quiet, very family-oriented and helpful to his neighbors.” Juanita admits that while she has been used to seeing him do the yearly ritual, she has always been

Enaje beside four wooden crosses - three of the crosses will be fixed on the hill on Good Friday, the fourth one is where he will be nailed.

Devotees and tourists alike flock to Barangay San Pedro Cutud to witness the gory crucifixion spectacle.

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worried for her husband’s safety. “He’s extremely quiet on Good Friday. He just prays. All that I do is ready the clothes he is going to wear,” she shares. On the advice of the Department of Health, Enaje keeps four stainless steel nails soaked in alcohol throughout the year. At noon of Good Friday, he leads the Via Crusis that ends at the hill on PurokKuatro. He treads a sandy road reddened by the blood of mandarame (flagellants) who wound their backs with glass shards and beat their backs with burilyos (24 bamboo sticks attached to a rope). Enaje is raised to the cross in the middle of the hill, with his arms, wrists and feet tied with cloths. In his 10 minutes of prayers, he doesn’t look at the large crowd that gathers at this spectacle of pain or demonstration of faith. “When I’m up on the cross, I believe that God hears my prayers. I pray the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ and pray for the wellbeing of my family and friends. I also pray for our community and our leaders,” Enaje says. Men acting the parts of centurions bring the cross down, take out the nails in pairs and use hammers to drive the nails through Enaje’spalms and feet before raising him to the cross again for five minutes. The nails are driven through the same spots in his palms and feet. “Every time, it is painful and bloody,” says Enaje. The pain gets worse when the nails are taken out and medics clean the wounds, he adds.For the rest of the year, those spots show no signs of the violent ritual. According to Enaje, his vow has brought his family blessings like good health, kinship, peace and jobs. While the Church does not condone the bloody ritual, it has not done any determined step to stop it. “It is enough that they go to confession to reconcile with God, go on fasting, pray the Rosary or attend the Mass to deepen their faith and relationship with God,” says Archbishop PacianoAniceto, head of the Archdiocese of San Fernando said. “Violent forms of penance and penitence are discouraged and prohibited.” In his study of Cutud Holy Week rites, Sir AnrilTiatco says the crucifixion as well as the flagellation in Cutud, could be seen as a “modified form of Catholicism” for people who are “keepers of an old tradition in the context of faith.” n


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GERALD: MAJA IS SPECIAL TO ME

GERALD Anderson says he regards Maja Salvador as someone special although they are not yet a couple. “Hindi pa [kami]. Kumbaga, pwedeng dumaan muna kami sa mga… Paano ba? There’s always the right time. May tamang lugar, meron namang time para sa lahat,” Gerald told reporters. “Like I said, wala po akong itatago sa inyo. She’s very special to me, yes. Pero kumbaga, sa akin na ‘yon. Sa akin na ‘yon.” While Maja has kept mum on her ties with the Fil-Am actor,

Gerald has expressed intentions to court the actress “if given a chance.” He added: “Matagal ko nang nararamdaman. Alam mo ‘yung feeling na syempre, matagal na akong single. Matagal na rin po akong single. . . And you know, I found someone na gusto kong makasama, gusto

AI AI THANKS BF FOR NOT GIVING UP COMEDIENNE Ai Ai delas Alas turned emotional as she thanked her businessman-boyfriend Jed Salang for not giving up on their relationship after their most recent misunderstanding. Speaking on The Buzz last March 2, Ai Ai said she feels grateful to have Jed by her side despite her insecurities in life. “Thank you for not giving up on us. Thank you na hinabol mo ako, hindi ka nawalan ng pagasa. Thank you for loving me,” she said. Her manager, Boy Abunda, had earlier confirmed that Ai Ai and Jed were going through a rough patch after the comedienne immediately left for the US after her concert with South Korean rapper Psy. Ai Ai said that it was when she was in the US that she realized that she deserves a chance at love. “Ang dami kong insecurities sa buhay, ang dami kong dinaanan pagdating sa love life. Sobrang takot na takot ako nung nakarelasyon ko si Jed kasi alam naman natin na bata siya, marami pa siyang makikita, pero siyempre iba pa rin ang ganda ko. ‘Yung insecurities ko nagkapatong-patong, ‘yung tampuhan namin nagkapatong-pa-

tong. And then nung lumipad ako sa America, doon ko na-realize na siguro bigyan ko ang chance ang sarili ko na umibig muli,” she said. Saying Jed is God-given, Ai Ai said she will do her best to make their relationship work. “Lahat naman ng tao walang kasiguruhan ang buhay. Sabi ko anong magiging garantiya ko na kapag hindi si Jed, isang matanda or kaedad ko, paano ako magiging sure na magwo-work out kami? Sabi ko baka ito nga ang binigay ni Lord and maging happy na lang ako sa binigay niya. Ilalaban ko ang relasyon namin until the end,” she said. For his part, Jed said he is willing to marry Ai Ai. “Kasal? Siguro iyon kung tatanggapin ako ni Ai,” he said.

kong mas makilala pa. Masaya ako pag kasama siya.” The two were reported to have spent Valentine’s Day together in Tagaytay, where they arrived via a chopper. Gerald came to Maja’s defense amid the controversy surrounding their alleged romantic ties. “Hindi lang po sa kanya, lahat nadadamay -- pamilya ko, ‘yung malalapit sa akin, sa kanya. We just have to be strong for each other, and show sa lahat na happy ka,” he said. “Kumbaga, just always smile. Kung masaya ka sa ginagawa mo, masaya ka sa mga kasama mo, wala kang ginagawang masama.”

ANNE’S SEXY ‘WET NUMBER’ Curtis finds herself in the eye of the storm after her “provocative number and outfit” on the Sunday variety show, ASAP 18. In a controversial birthday production number last Feb. 24 on ASAP 18, Anne did a “shower/rain scene” while singing Diamonds by American pop star Rihanna. Aside from the sexy gestures, what caught many viewers’ attention was Anne’s long gown with a high slit that extended up to her waist. This left many viewers wondering if she was wearing any underwear at all. The production number prompted the Movie and Television Review Classification Board (MTRCB) to call for a “gender-sensitivity investigation” onASAP. Reacting to the controversy, Anne said, “Natatawa na lang [ako], but I guess people talking

about it makes it a good thing. Okey lang sa ‘kin yun.Negative or positive comments, they’re always welcome.You just [have to] learn the art of deadma, and you accept what other people have to say.” She explained that her gown was designed to give an “illusion” to viewers, adding that she was wearing a tanga bodysuit underneath the gown. “Because when I said I was going to get wet, kailangan may hidden tan na swimsuit because it has to have that illusion na high slit, so na-achieve naman namin. At least the illusion worked, di ba?” Last month, a similar incident at the rival show on GMA7, Party Pilipinas, also drew the attention of the MTRCB after Lovi Poe and Rocco Nacino did a “sexy and provocative” number.

SARAH, KIM SHARE LOVE WOES

SHOWBIZ fans were abuzz after photos of Kim Chiu and Sarah Geronimo hugging each other made the rounds on social networking sites Twitter and Instagram. The two were both at the SM Mall of Asia Arena last March 3 for the finals night of Himig Handog P-Pop Love Songs. Kim was one of

the hosts of the show, while Sarah was among the judges of the songwriting tilt. Sarah greeted and embraced Kim when they unexpectedly crossed paths backstage. Sarah said that she had wanted to give Kim a hug since the news about Gerald Anderson and Maja Salvador broke out. “Kasi sabi ko, kailangan ni Kim ‘yun, ng yakap, at kailangan ko din ‘yun. (laughs). Hindi, ‘yun naman eh... Basta gusto ko lang talaga siya yakapin,” she said. “Syempre medyo ano, teary-eyed [ako]. Tinatanong niyo pa [kung bakit],” she added.

Sarah, however, refused to divulge what she and Kim talked about during the short encounter. “Meron po [kaming exchange of words]. Secret na[kung ano]. Sana [na-appreciate niya yung hug ko]. Pero ‘yung friendship kailangan may time talaga ‘yan para mapatunayan na totoo. Hindi lang dahil hinihingi ng sitwasyon o dahil nagkataon lang,” she said. Asked to comment on the encounter of the two actresses, Gerald said, “Wala na po ako doon. Silang dalawa na lang ang tanungin niyo. Pero we should be happy for each other, sa lahat.” Kim and Sarah both had a romantic relationship with Gerald at different times.


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Heartthrob For his work with YesPinoy, Dingdong was recognized by the international organization Devexas one of the 40 development leaders under the age of 40, dubbed “Manila 40 Under 40”. The awardees were judged according to their influence on development initiatives and agenda in the Philippines. By cherie del rio

F there’s one thing Dingdong Dantes has proven recently, it is that he’s not just another pretty face in showbiz. He’s not just the multi-talented heartthrob with a hot body and a stellar career in the entertainment industry. The Breitling brand ambassador recently had the chance to, in his own words via Instagram, “cross out one of the first entries to my bucket list”. He was able to fly with seven pilots of the Breitling Jet Team during the 18th Hot Air Balloon Festival in Clark, Pampanga. The said aircraft was actually used in the opening scene of the 1997 Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies. But flying with the Breitling Jet Team is perhaps the least of Dingdong’s biggest accomplishments this year. The young actor has gone international via the film Dance of the Steelbars, which is set to hit theaters on May 22. Dingdong shares billing in the international film with Patrick Bergin, an Irish actor. When asked what makes the film different, Dingdong points to the experience of working with the

foreign actor. “Nakakatuwa at nabigyanakongpagkakataonnamakilala at makatrabahosiya.” Dingdong’s streak of good luck extends to his personal advocacies. He is the founder and chairman of YesPinoyFoundation (YPF), which “arose out of the simple yearning of an Edsa baby named Jose Sixto “Dingdong” G. Dantes III to help others, especially the youth, achieve their dreams of having a better life

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POPS WOULD RATHER DATE YOUNGER MEN

Dingdong flies a jet as member of the Breitling Jet Team. despite poverty and powerlessness.” Supported by friends in the entertainment, business and nonprofit sectors, YPF was established on Aug. 21, 2009, 26 years to the day when Ninoy Aquino was killed on the tarmac of the Manila Internagional Airport. Initially, Dingdong and his friends and supporters focused on providing college scholarships to sons and daughters of fallen Philippine Marine soldiers, since Dong is a Marine reservist who is very much aware of the common soldier’s plight. In response to pressing problems, YPF’s core program later expanded beyond giving financial aid to poor students. The YesPinoyFoundation calls out to all Filipinos, particularly the youth to volunteer for a good cause: “You can make a difference in reshaping the future of our country. The future of our nation is now in your hands.” Dingdong has inspired quite a number of volunteers who are taking steps towards making the future much brighter for generations to come. For his work with YesPinoy, Dingdong was recognized by the international organization Devex (in partnership with the Chevron Corp.) as one of the 40 development leaders under the age of 40, dubbed “Manila 40 Under 40”. The awardees were chosen based on a public nomination process and the candidates were judged according to their influence on development initiatives and agenda in the Philippines. The 40 Under 40 program is conducted globally by Devex, an international organization of half a million professionals around the world that believes that “a more efficient global development can change the world.” Other notable local awardees names joining Dingdong in the pres-

tigious “Manila 40 Under 40” are TV personality Kara David (founder of Malasakit Fund), social entrepreneur and ssenaatorial candidate Bam Aquino (co-founder of Microventures, Inc.), and Valenzuela City Mayor Sherwin Gatchalian. Dingdong’s commitment to his chosen advocacies is not the only thing that has gained attention nd recognition. The actor-dancer is showing a new side of him that endears him even more to Filipino audiences both locally and abroad. He is no longer just confined to charming viewers -- he has plans of wowing the crowd with his directorial skills. He is no stranger to the field of directing and producing movies as he had already launched a movie under his own company, Agostodos Pictures. Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles, which was released last year, earned quite a few high praises for the 32-yearold Kapuso star. Dingdong has been vocal about his desire to make the biopic of no less than Ninoy Aquino. “Ninoy Aquino has always fascinated and inspired me in so many ways, so it’s something,” Dingdong revealed to ABS-CBN News recently. “It’s part of my wish list.” The actor is keen to produce the film in collaboration with Star Cinema. He has worked previously with the same production outfit for two of his blockbuster films --One More Try in 2012 (for which he garnered Best Actor recognition) and Segunda Mano the year before. 2013 just might be Dingdong’s big year in showcasing talents other than acting and dancing. He has already made quite a name for himself in showbiz, but it seems there’s no stopping this actor in conquering new adventures in the entertainment scene. Heartthrob actor today, director / producer / young nation leader tomorrow. n

POPS Fernandez says she sees nothing wrong with dating younger men because they “are more sure of themselves, more aggressive and most importantly, they’re single.” The 46-year-old singer and mother of two boys admits to have dated “several” guys younger than her, including former ramp model and actor Brad Turvey. She dated Brad in 2004 shortly after the annulment of her marriage to singerTV host Martin Nievera. “I recently asked my sons’ opinion on this and they said it’sokay with them, as long as I’m happy,” said Pops. Pops and Martin have two sons—Robin, 26, and Ram, 23. “Of course, they (her children) ask questions, especially if they want to know more about a particular guy I’m with,” she related.

“Unlike other kids, they’re not too strict when it comes to how I dress. They’re used to it.” Pops says what’s great about being single is that “you get to meet a lot of people and you get to choose (who to hang out with).” She adds: “I never got to experience that when I was younger, having been raised by my mom, who was then so strict, and then getting married so young. I might as well do it now.” The singer clarifies that while she enjoys going out, she is not ready to fall in love again just yet. “I know it will just happen. If I finally meet somebody who I’m sure could take care of me, then I could probably take our relationship to the next level. Right now, I’m not officially with anybody. I just like meeting different people.” Pops also says she prefers dating

Filipino men, “although people say Pinoys are big babies.” She adds: “I have nothing against foreigners. Maybe I just haven’t met someone I found interesting enough. It’s just that their culture is very different from ours. It’s hard enough to adjust to the quirks of a Filipino guy, more so to the culture of a foreigner.”

VIC DENIES CONTRIBUTING TO PAULEEN’S HOUSE

In an interview with YES! Magazine, Pauleen said she sees herself as a wife and mother in the future. Asked on how he handles their 34-year gap (Pauleen is 24, Vic is 58), Vic replied, “Why do you want me to deal with it? Hindi isyu. Pagdating ng araw, magkikita rin yun.” He would not comment on whether his and Pauleen’s affair is comparable to that of Dolphy and Zsa Zsa Padilla. “We’ll see. Makikita natin. Hindi naman ako manghuhula para hulaan.” Does he see himself spending the rest of his life with Pauleen? “Hindi natin alam. Ipapaalam ko sa inyo. Malalaman n’yo naman,” he replied, smiling.

VIC Sotto says he had no contribution in Pauleen Luna’s new house Pauleen’s mother echoed Vic’s statement, saying he did give even a single cent to her daughter’s three-story, four-bedroom house in Quezon City. “Wala. Nakakahiya naman sa magulang nun. Wala akong kinalaman dun,” said Vic. “Matagal na nilang pinapagawa yun… yung magulang niya, siya [Pauleen]. Hindi naman maganda kung dinadamay ako roon.I don’t want na nadi-discredit sila sa pinagpaguran nila. Mayaman yung pamilyang yun!” Vic admitted that Pauleen’s parents are still not ease with him. “Ilang pa rin!” he said.

IS JULIA BARRETTO THE NEXT CLAUDINE?

DUBBED as “showbiz royalty” owing to her clan of local celebrities, Julia Barretto hopes to follow in

the footsteps of her aunt, Claudine. The daughter of former actress Marjorie Barretto and comedianactor Dennis Padilla, Julia was formally introduced recently as one of the 12 new recruits of ABSCBN’s talent management firm Star Magic. As part of the group dubbed “Star Magic Circle 2013,”” Julia’s career beginnings is already on track to follow Claudine’s, the younger sister of Marjorie and another Barretto actress, Gretchen. Claudine, whose career now spans over 20 years, was among the first “discoveries” of Star Magic, and went on to become arguably the most popular and visible actress of her generation during her peak. Referring to her aunt, Julia said,

“Her teleseryes, her movies, sobrang ‘yun ‘yung gusto kong projects, that’s why [I want to follow her career path]. Gusto korinkasi, all around -- I don’t want to just stick to like one role, always the good girl. Siyempre gusto ko may pagka-bad girl, perobida. I want to explore.” Since getting her first taste of the limelight via her short appearances in a number of Kapamilya series, the 15-year-old Julia has been raring to pursue acting as a career. With her famous mom’s and aunts’ successes in the entertainment industry preceding her entry, Julia said she sees as an advantage the “pressure” that comes with being a Barretto.


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ANILA (AP) — Unlike many other Muslim royalties basking in grand palaces and opulent lifestyles, Sultan JamalulKiram III’s kingdom sits in a rundown two-story house in a poor Islamic community in Manila, the only hint of power and glory the title attached to his name. “I’m the poorest sultan in the world,” the ailing Kiram, 74, told The Associated Press in an interview in his residence in Maharlika village in the Philippine capital. Although largely forgotten and dismissed as a vestige from a bygone era, Kiram’s sultanate, once based in the southern province of Sulu, has sparked the biggest security crisis in Malaysia and the Philippines in decades -- early last month, he sent his younger brother with about 200 followers, dozens of them armed, by boat from southern Philippines to a village in Sabah state in neighboring Malaysia to claim the land the sultanate insists belongs to them. A stunned Malaysia, which runs the frontier resource-rich region of timberlands and palm oil plantations as its second-largest federal state, poured in elite police and army troops and called in airstrikes to quell what it saw as an armed intrusion. Weeks of sporadic clashes have killed about 60 people, including 52 fighters belonging to the members of the Sulu Royal Army, and eight Malaysian policemen as of March 9. Malaysian police have arrested more than 50 people for suspected links to a deadly invasion by Filipino fighters.The crisis has tested the neighbors’ friendly ties and hit the leaders of both nations at a delicate time politically. The Kirams claim Sabah has belonged to their sultanate for centuries and was only leased to Malaysia, which they say pays them a paltry annual rent of 5,300 Malaysian ringgit ($1,708). Malaysian officials contend the payments are part of an arrangement under which the sultanate has ceded the 74,000 square kilometers (28,000 square miles) of Sabah territory to their country. Philippine presidents have relegated the volatile feud to the backburner despite efforts by the Kirams to put it back to the national agenda. The Feb. 9 Sabah expedition by the sultan’s younger brother, Agbimud-

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JamalulKiram III is the 33rd sultan and a symbolic leader with followers in Sulu and nearby southern provinces

Filipino Sultan’s Quest Sparks Crisis in Malaysia Philippine presidents have relegated the volatile feud to the backburner. The Feb. 9 Sabah expedition by the sultan’s younger brother, AgbimuddinKiram, and the ensuing violence have resurrected the long-dormant issue with the murky history beyond anybody’s expectations.

Malaysian forces flush out fighters of the ragtag Sulu Royal Army in Sabah.

dinKiram, and the ensuing violence have resurrected the long-dormant issue with the murky history beyond anybody’s expectations. Overrun by history, the Kirams carry royal titles and nothing much else. “When I was a child, I thought ‘princess’ was just my name because when you’re a child, your idea of being a princess is one with a crown, a palace, a carriage,” said JacelKiram, a 35-year-old daughter of the sultan, who is regarded a princess. At his Maharlika village home, the sultan, who has failed kidneys and a heart ailment, struggled with slurred speech to proudly recount the saga of his clan’s empire based in the Sulu archipelago in the southern Philippines. Chinese and European leaders, he said, once sent vassals to pay homage to his powerful forebears. The Sulu sultanate, which emerged in the 1400s, preceded both the Philippine republic and Malaysia by centuries. The exploits of the sultanate’s native Tausug warriors were so legendary, the Brunei sultan at the time sought their help in putting down a rebellion in the 1600-1700s. When the uprising was crushed, the Brunei sultan handed over Sabah — then part of Brunei — to his Sulu counterpart as a gift of gratitude. A Filipino sultan later leased Sabah to a British colonial-era company. The territory was later annexed by Britain. In 1963, six years after colonial Malaya gained independence, Sabah voted to join the new Malaysia. The Sulu sultanate had steadily declined through the centuries, its power passed on to a succession of leaders and heirs. JamalulKiram III is the 33rd sultan and a symbolic leader with followers in Sulu and nearby southern provinces, which are among the country’s poorest and are troubled by Muslim rebels, al-Qaida-linked extremists and outlaws. Born in Sulu’s far-flung Maimbung town in 1938, Kiram is a beloved leader who in his youth turned to dance and singing and played sports, including his favorite, tennis. He once worked as a disc jockey in a Jolo radio station. He took up law but failed to take the bar exams when he joined a prominent cultural dance group in the 1960s, according to his wife, Fatima Celia. He also ran for senator in 2007, backed by former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo — a tacit recognition of his sultanate leadership —


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THE CENTURIES-OLD TUG-OF-WAR OVER SABAH: A TIMELINE

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5th century - The Islamic sultanate of Brunei is nominally in control of Borneo, including Sabah and Sarawak states of Malaysia, and some parts of the Sulu islands in the Philippines.

1658 - The Sultan of Brunei cedes Sabah to the Sultan of Sulu in compensa-

President Aquino tells Kiram he won’t allow the Philippines to be dragged into a war with Malaysia. but lost, leaving his family in debt due to the high campaign expenses, she said. Last year, the sultan was diagnosed with failed kidneys and began to receive dialysis treatment, causing family members to miss out on monthly payments for their house, which they nearly lost had friends not helped out, Celia said. Since then, Kiram has mostly been sidelined to his bedroom, which resembles a hospital unit with two oxygen tanks and serves as an office where he met visitors and followers seeking all sorts of help. In his younger years, Kiram said he traveled often to Sabah. “It’s really very rich,” he said of Sabah. “When I’m in Sabah, I feel at home.” Sabah and Sulu are separated by a narrow strip of the Sulu Sea that at its shortest span can be traversed by boat in 30 minutes. The two provinces have shared traditional ties, and people, who are of the same ethnic stock, frequently travel back and forth. Some 800,000 Filipinos, mostly Muslims, have settled in Sabah over the years to seek work and stability. Although tensions between the two communities are not uncommon, it is feared that the Kiram’s claims and the violence over the past weeks will sour relations further and could lead to retaliation against the

long-staying Filipino settlers. It was his decrepit sultanate’s inability to help out Filipino followers, who are seeking work and greener pastures, that he said prompted him to allow his brother to lead a first batch of settlers to relocate in a village in Sabah’s coastal district of LahadDatu, the event that triggered the three-week deadly standoff. Worried about straining relations with affluent Malaysia, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III has walked a delicate tightrope, careful to avoid a collision course with Malaysia and at the same time reach out to the Kirams, who accused him of mishandling the crisis and siding with Malaysia. The Sabah standoff erupted as Aquino was grappling with a separate rift with China over contested South China Sea territories. Malaysia has also brokered peace talks between Manila and the largest Muslim rebel group in the southern Philippines. Both countries are founding members of an influential regional bloc, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. In Malaysia, activists have called for tougher border security and immigration policies in Sabah, presenting a major political challenge to Prime Minister NajibRazak’s ruling coalition, which faces general elections that must be held by

the end of June. James Chin, political science lecturer with Monash University in Malaysia, said that the crisis could spell trouble for Najib if the Filipino community in Sabah and Sarawak states, many who have assimilated into Malaysian society and hold identity cards, vote against his ruling coalition. Sabah and Sarawak on Borneo jointly account for a quarter of parliamentary seats and are key to a victory for Najib’s coalition. The Kirams said the sultanate wanted the Philippine government to pursue their claim to Sabah, but successive presidents have ignored their plea. Many stories of poor Filipinos ill-treated by Malaysian authorities in Sabah provided the final straw, Kiram’s wife said. “It’s good if they were placed in jail,” she said. “The problem is they are caned, they are punished and then deported ... we couldn’t do anything.” The sultan said his followers being hunted in Sabah were fighting for their rights and honor, something profoundly important among his followers. The Malaysians could wipe them out but the problem won’t go away, his wife said. “They would be replaced by others and generations more to come,” she said. n

tion for his help in settling a civil war in the Brunei Sultanate In June 1658, Brunei Sultan Abdul Hakkul Mubin awarded the northeast coast of Borneo (Sabah), including Palawan, to Sulu Sultan Salah udDin Karamat Bakhtiar for helping settle a civil war dispute against Pengiran Bongsu Muhyuddin. The Sultan of Sulu sent more than 250 elite Tausug warriors led by Panglima Ilijji (forefather of Nur P. Misuari, founder of the Moro National Liberation Front/ MNLF) to assist the Sultan of Brunei. 1673 - Brunei Sultan Bongsu Muhyuddin, upon ascending to the throne, confirms the Sultan of Sulu as sovereign landowner of the territories of North Borneo/Sabah and the island of Palawan. 1761 - Alexander Dalrymple, Madras representative of the British East India Company, entered into a lease agreement with self-proclaimed Sultan Muiz ud-Din for the rental of Sabah. The agreement permitted Dalrymple to set up a trading post on Balembangan island in Kudat, North Borneo (Sabah). 1878 - Sulu Sultan Jamal ul-Alam leases North Borneo to the Hong Kongbased British trading company of Baron Gustavos von Overbeck and Alfred Dent and confers upon Overbeck the title Datu Bendahara, Raja of Sandakan 1888 - The United Kingdom establishes protectorate over North Borneo 1939 - A group of heirs of the Sultan filed suit against the Government of North Borneo and the British North Borneo Company for the recovery of the stipulated annual payments. The High Court of the State of North Borneo, through Chief Justice Macaskie, rendered judgment in favor of the heirs on December 18, 1939. 1941-1945 - North Borneo comes under Imperial Japanese forces during the Pacific War. Following the end of Japanese occupation, the British North Borneo Chartered Company relinquished its duties. 1946 - North Borneo becomes a British crown colony. 1957 - The heirs of the Sultan of Sulu issue a proclamation declaring the termination of the lease contract over the territory in question effective January 22, 1958. 1962 - President Diosdado Macapagal files the Philippines’ claim over Sabah with the United Kingdom. 1963 - North Borneo or Sabah united with Malaya, Sarawak and Singapore, forming the independent Federation of Malaysia. United Nations conducted a referendum at the behest of the Philippines and Indonesia. The people of Sabah overwhelmingly voted to become part of Malaysia. 1965-1986 - Relations improved between the Philippines and Malaysia during Ferdinand Marcos’ presidency, but the dispute over Sabah was not formally settled. 1967 - Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is established. The Sabah crisis persists, but open military confrontation is avoided. 1967 - A destabilization plan called Operation Merdeka is set into action. Nearly 200 Tausug and Sama Muslims aged 18 to 30 from Sulu and TawiTawi were recruited and trained in the island-town of Simunul in Tawi-Tawi. The name of the commando unit was Jabidah. On December 30, the recruits boarded a Philippine Navy vessel for the island of Corregidor in Luzon for “specialized training.” On March 18, 1968, the Jabidah planners led the trainees out of their Corregidor barracks on the night of March 18, 1968 in batches of 12, according to the sole survivor, Jibin Arula. At a nearby airstrip, the planners mowed the trainees down with gunfire. As a result, diplomatic relations were suspended between Malaysia and the Philippines. 1969 - Diplomatic relations between Malaysia and the Philippines are formally resumed 1977 - President Ferdinand Marcos declares at the second ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur that the Philippines is “taking definite steps to eliminate one of the burdens of ASEAN - the claim of the Philippines republic. Former President Corazon Aquino (1986-1992) and Fidel V. Ramos (1992-1998) continue to seek to improve relations between the two countries. 1993 - Ramos visits Malaysia 1994 - Malaysia Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad (1981 2003) visits the Philippines 2001 - Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (2000 - 2004, 2004 - 2009) visits Malaysia. (GMA News)


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Same Old, Tiresome Plots in Pinoy Teleseryes

PHILIPPINES

Pinoys love underdogs whom they can root for. Often, the bida is meek and docile and endures the brunt of the villain’s ire. The protagonist usually gets slapped or her hair is pulled by the kontrabida. By earl villanueva

OAP opera, telenovela, teleserye -- through the years, the Filipino TV drama has been called by many names. It has greatly evolved too. From being just afternoon staples that can last on air for several years, the teleserye has become a fastpaced primetime fare. From shooting in plywood studios, production has become grander, as seen in the locations, costumes and overall technical advancement. But as the craft of making teleseryes progressed, there remain some elements that keep popping up, turning out to be almost tiresome clichés. Here are some of the most used devices and formulaic plots that plague Filipino teleseryes: 1. Rich Lad, Poor Girl -- “Langit ka, lupa ako. Magkaiba ang mundo natin!” “Pero mahal kita!” What’s a Pinoy teleserye without love trying to surpass social classes? When the rich señorito falls in love with the poor maid or hacienda worker, expect them to fight against all odds for their love. Another variation of this is the city boy falling for a provincial lass. 2. Amnesia Plot -- Just when everything’s going well for the bida, a head bump or a traumatic incident ruins everything, resulting in a complete memory wipeout. This is a convenient way to create additional tension and drama in an already convoluted storyline. Sometimes,

a surgical facec o p y works too. 3. Kidnapping, Car Chase, Warehouse Scenes -- Drama princesses should be action stars too. When your favorite TV drama series is about to reach its conclusion, expect a character to be kidnapped and rescued in an explosive and gun-loaded sequence. The explosives, guns and car crashes are also effective ways of killing off villains. 4. Baby Switching -- “Sinong nanay mo?” “Ikaw ako ngayon at ako’y ikaw.” The case of swapped, stolen and misplaced babies/kids is a norm in the teleserye world. The tunay na ina/ama/anak angle has

worked a million times in keeping viewers glued throughout a series’ run. When the bida goes from rags-toriches, this is an effective way for him/her to exact revenge on those who did him wrong in the past. 5. The Childhood Beginning -- Is your favorite actress’ teleserye premiering today and you cannot wait to see her? Better tune in next week because this week is going to be about her character’s childhood. More often than not, the couple in the story already met when they were young kids. As young as they are, they already know that they are soulmates and they promise to love each other when they grow up.

All the problems in the world vanish once the bida wears her wedding gown and walks down the aisle. The guy usually gives a necklace or bracelet to his beloved. However, circumstances separate the two. When their paths cross again, the boy recognizes the item that he gave to the girl. Don’t worry, it will all come to a… 6. Wedding Ending -- All the problems in the world vanish once the bida wears her wedding gown and walks down the aisle. This is the end for most teleseryes and if the bride’s mom has a love team part-

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ner of her own, expect a double wedding. 7. The Kontrabida Delivery -- Every kontrabida, especially female ones, has a manner of speaking that’s loaded with stressed syllables or words, almost like joining a declamation or oration contest. Of course, they deliver their lines always with their chins up and eyes squinted. Kontrabidas of yore also had a signature laugh that can strike fear among viewers. In line with this, why do teleserye characters often talk with their backs to each other? In real life, do people actually talk this way? 8. Bida Suffering -- Pinoys love underdogs whom they can root for. Often, the bida is meek and docile and endures the brunt of the villain’s ire. The protagonist usually gets slapped or her hair is pulled by the kontrabida. There will come a point when the bida gains the courage to fight back, much to the delight of her supportive fans. 9. The Boy Shortage -- In the teleserye world there is an extreme shortage of eligible bachelors, which is why the bida and kontrabida are always fighting over the same guy. 10. The Missing Link -- A diary, last will and testament, DNA test, a video, a photo – there is always that one item that holds the truth about the protagonist. The person/s who know the truth must remain secretive within the series (or the thing should remain hidden), otherwise, there will be no TV series. Some versions tap an identifying lullaby that will jog the memory of the protagonist and remind him/her of childhood. (Philippine Entertainment Portal) n


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PHILIPPINES

By roderick l. abad

HE way of governance in the country has gone “good” and continues to become better given the newfound confidence in the Philippines under President Aquino’s leadership, according to a group of professionals working in the compliance, corporate governance and/or ethics offices of their respective companies or organizations. In an interview with the BusinessMirror, lawyer Vincent Edward R. Festin, president of Good Governance Advocates and Practitioners of the Philippines (GGAPP), said that since Mr. Aquino assumed

Good governance under the Aquino administration is largely credited for the remarkable economic growth in the last two years.

Pnoy’s Good

Governance Sparks Investor Confidence

the presidency three years ago from then-President Gloria MacapagalArroyo, whose administration was marred with graft and corruption issues, the country’s global image has improved, raising trust in the new government. “What we have observed is a general perception of confidence in this administration as manifested in the improvement in some of our economic indicators,” Festin noted. Indeed, the President notched an annualized rate of growth of gross domestic product (GDP) at 4.5 percent in his first nine quarters of service, based on records of the National Statistical Coordination Board. This is the highest so far achieved in the first two years of office of a Philippine president since 1986. In his first year of office in 2010, Mr. Aquino got the highest GDP growth rate with 5.4 percent. This continued in his second year of service with 4.9 percent. The economic situation under the Aquino administration was boosted once again by the GDP growth of 6.6 percent in 2012. Such robust growth, coupled with a competitive labor force and

MARCH 16-31, 2013

“As foreign businesses are now taking a more serious look at the Philippines as an investment destination, more and more local investors are encouraged to invest as well given improvements in governance. This translates obviously into clear economic gains,” says a good governance advocate.

President Aquino attends the opening of the B/E Aerospace Inc. Philippine facility in Tanauan, Batangas.

a stable government, in turn, has fueled investor confidence in the country. From GGAPP’s interaction with its counterparts in the ethics, compliance and governance sectors abroad, the organization perceived that the Aquino administration has succeeded in making business people overseas to take a more serious look at the Philippines as a place for doing business. “We have long been overlooked as an investment destination, but the newfound confidence changes this,” the organization’s president said. In fact, the Philippines is said to have surpassed its Asian neighbors in providing a good business environment conducive for multinationals. Apart from traditional investment sources, such as the United States, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea, potential investors from Europe, the Middle East and Africa are said to be keen on putting up or moving their businesses to the country. The International Finance Corp., the private-sector financing arm of the World Bank, is looking to pour in investments of up to $400 million in the Philippines this year through public-private partnership (PPP) projects—transport, water, toll-road and power, particularly renewable energy. The United Kingdom has raised trade and investment in the Philippines, especially in the information and communications technology, PPP, education, energy, health-care and retail sectors. From the Asian region, Taipei-based Manila Economic and Cultural Office reported that investments from Taiwan grew to $400 million last year, or over 30 percent from $300 million in 2011. “As foreign businesses are now taking a more serious look at the Philippines as an investment destination, more and more local investors are encouraged to invest as well given improvements in governance. This translates obviously into clear economic gains,” Festin said. While the impressive investment figures reflect how well the Philippine president and his economic team are managing the country, their good governance goes beyond +21


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PHILIPPINES

Marinduque

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Heart of the Philippines HE heartshaped island of Marinduque comes to mind whenever Holy Week approaches. The destination is most famous for the colorful Moriones Festival, where locals— usually farmers and fishermen—wear painted masks (moriones or moryones) and don elaborate Roman centurion costumes of their own crafting, in a re-enactment of the search for the centurion Longinus. (According to Biblical lore, Longinus, who pierced the side of the crucified Christ with his spear, converted to Christianity after Christ’s blood dropped on his blind eye and restored his sight. The centurion was later caught and beheaded.) Marinduqueños participate in the annual festival as a form of panata or religious devotion, in exchange for divine favors. This year the festival will be held from March 25 (Holy Monday) to March 31 (Easter) and will feature several parades of the moriones, culminating in the chase and beheading of Longinus at Easter. During the week, other Lenten traditions are also practiced and staged such as the senakulo (play depicting the life and sufferings of the Christ Jesus), pabasa (singing/chanting of a narrative on the passion, death and resurrection of Christ), and the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross). Those planning to travel to Marinduque to enjoy the festival should book their flights and accommodations this early as most Marinduqueños go home in droves for their first long vacation of the year. The rest of the year, Marinduque offers a quiet respite from the daily hassles of modern, urban living.

In 2010 the international broadcasting network CNN named Marinduqueas among “the next-gen [generation] Asian tourist spots,” highlighting the opening of the luxurious Bellarocca Island Resort and Spa and local-government efforts to elevate the province’s profile in the international tourism arena.

The Moriones Festival, staged during the Holy Week, is the most popular tourist attraction in Marinduque. Although quite accessible from Manila by air and water, the island has not yet lost its rustic charm with the locals known as among the friendliest, and always eager to lend tourists a helping hand. In 2010 the international broadcasting network CNN named the island as among “the next-gen [generation] Asian tourist spots,” highlighting the opening of the luxurious Bellarocca Island Resort and Spa and local-government efforts to elevate the province’s profile in the international tourism arena. Other than the pleasures that the resort promises, Marinduque also offers serene white beaches, a diverse marine life and hot springs still veritably untouched by the tourist hordes.

Bellarocca Island Resort and Spa offers guests luxurious accommodations with a Santorini theme.

Must-see’s

Travel back in history -- Travel blogger Ivan Henares was first to have noted the potential of Marinduque’s capital, Boac, as a heritage town, in similar fashion as Vigan, Ilocos Sur or Carcar, Cebu. In downtown Boac, there are still quite a number of ancestral homes designed in the bahaynabato style, combining wood and stone and are usually two-story affairs. Many of these houses are still wellpreserved, with the sliding windows, for instance, still retaining their capiz shells inlay, and with the ventanillas at the bottom in intricate grillwork or short wooden posts. Most of the homes now use the ground floor for commercial uses, while the upper floor consists of the living area of the homeowner’s family. So far, Casa Narvasa is the only ancestral home in Boac that has been declared by the National Historical Institute as a heritage house. The Boac Cathedral (Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception) is another historical landmark that harks back to the Spanish era. Built in 1756, the fortress-church with its red-bricked façade and ornate retablo was often used as sanctuary from marauding pirates of the time. The Boac branch of the National Museum features old agricultural tools, ancient pottery, stoneware and ceramics from the 10th century. The museum itself is housed in an old Spanish building that was also used as a garrison during the Japanese Occupation. White beach -- The one-kilometer Poctoy’s white beach near the town of Torrijos has fine white sand and crystal-clear waters. There are quite a few resorts in the area offering basic accommodations and amenities. Swimming and snorkeling are the common activities there. To your health -- Mount Malindig, the highest mountain in Marinduque and which is also an active volcano, feeds the Malbog Sulfur Springs and Marinduque Hot Springs Resort in SitioMainit. The hot springs are reputed to be thera-


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peutic, helping ease hypertension, salving skin ailments and eliminating toxins from the body. The hot springs flow into pools with both establishments offering visitors on-site accommodations.

Must-do’s Hiking -- Located in Barangay Sihi in the town of Buenavista, Mount Malindig is considered an easy climb for regular mountain trekkers. At 1,157 meters above sea level, the climb to the summit takes about one to two days depending on the pace of the climber. At the peak of this still-active volcano, one gets panoramic views of the province’s surroundings like the nearby Tres Reyes Islands, named after the Three Kings (Melchor, Gaspar and Balthazar) who visited the infant child Jesus. Spelunking -- The Bagumbungan River Cave (or San Isidro Cave) is a local popular destination in Barangay San Isidro, Santa Cruz. Considered a delicate fragile geological formation, exploration permits have to be secured from the

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At 1,157 meters above sealevel, the climb to the summit of Mt. Malindigtakes from one to two days. municipal office and local barangay, which have joined forces with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in conducting educational tours. Other caves worth exploring are the Bitik and Tarug Caves in Santa Cruz and Mogpog, respectively, and Bathala Caves also in SantaCruz that consists of eight different caves. Local guides are available to help visitors explore the areas. Snorkeling/diving -- Not quite as popular as Tubbataha Reef in Palawan or Anilao in Batangas, Marinduque also offers a tremendous wealth of marine life and

able to bask in the setting sun from a view deck. With only two bedrooms, the property offers guests privacy and can accommodate up to six persons. It is great for small families and barkada outings. Maid service is available during the day, while management can arrange for massage services and diving trips for the guests.

Getting there

In downtown Boac, there are still quite a number of ancestral homes designed in the bahaynabato style. World War II shipwrecks. Banton Island is home to barracuda, sharks and numerous pelagic fishes, while ship wrecks dot the surrounding waters of the Maestre de Campo Island.

Where to stay Bellarocca Island Resort and Spa offers guests luxurious accommodations with a Santorini

theme. There are villas and a hotel that gives guests awesome views of MountMalindig or the sea. Villas have their own plunge pools, while the hotel has its lap pool. Staff are excellent, accommodating the requests of guests. Chateau Du Mer Beach Resort (Barangay Amoingan, Boac) is a two-story beach house facing the Amoingan Coast, where guests are

ZestAir flies to Marinduque daily (the flight takes 45 minutes), while there are six Roro trips daily offered by the Montenegro and Starhorse Shipping service at the Lucena Port (Talao-talao)-Balanacan and Cawit Ports in Marinduque. The Roro can accommodate vehicles of visitors. There are daily outrigger boat trips between Pinamalayan, Oriental Mindoro, to Gasan, Marinduque, which take about four hours, as well as two-hour boat trips between Buyabod Port in Santa Cruz and General Luna, Quezon. (BusinessMirror) n

Pnoy’s Good Governance Sparks Investor...

From page 19

the economics. “Good governance means being aware of one’s responsibilities toward a constituency, be they voters or shareholders or whatnot, acting on these tasks should be for their benefit,” Festin said. “It means being able to set aside the powerful dictates of self-interest and truly serving others.” As a proof that the Aquino administration is true to its slogan of daangmatuwid (straight path) or righteous leadership, he added that “there clearly are changes in the way projects and procurement of goods and services are being done” in the government. The GGAPP president also noted, for instance, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) being on the right track in issuing appropriate policies to encourage transparency. This is shown by way that the DILG has been posting its finances in its website since the term of the late Secretary Jesse Robredo—a practice he used to do when he was mayor of Naga City in Bicol’s Camarines Sur province. Stripping of politics the process of prosecuting violators of anti-graft laws also indicates how good the governance of Mr. Aquino is, according to Festin. It is under his watch that Renato Corona, the 23rd Chief Justice, was impeached on December 12, 2011, after he was found guilty of Article II of the Articles of Impeachment filed against him over his failure to disclose to the public his Statements of Assets, Liabili-

today, he added, there should be “more demonstrable progress in terms of ease of doing business.” “This is one indicator that we do poorly [in] every time,” Festin said. “So a lot of work remains in eliminating petty graft, especially in local governments.” Nevertheless, Festin pointed out, there have been some outstanding local government units that have come up with workable and replicable programs against graft and corruption in their level. “Inspiring local bureaucracies should also be a key effort. If the ordinary local government employee will see the benefits of working in a graft-free environment, then that would help make efforts at eliminating graft irreversible.” n

Long overlooked as an investment destination, the country now enjoys newfound investor confidence. ties and Net worth or SALN. Even though Corona’s removal was seen as “politically motivated” by some quarters because the deposed head of the judiciary was considered an Arroyo ally, the President said the impeachment was apolitical and merely in line with his administration’s fight against corruption. “Regardless of political affiliation, [the Aquino administration really shows that] violators should be punished. There should be no trade-offs for the sake of political expedience,” Festin said. Amid the economic gains brought about by the improving governance in the country


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VANCOUVER Impressions

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Vancouver Edition

By Mel Tobias

IN A FRENCH STATE OF MIND IN VANCOUVER

PERSONALIZED PROVENCE FOR ARMCHAIR TRAVELERS

cargot, scallop, steak with peppercorn sauce, chocolate mousse. Try the chicken cooked in white wine, instead of the usual red (coq au vin). The service is friendly, efficient and warm and the ambience lively and cheerful. La Cigale is casual dining and is an affordable gastronomic destination.

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n 1989, Peter Mayles , an American ad man from New York published his first travel book “A Year in Provence”. It tells his personal story when he moved his family to a new home at the foot of the Luberon Mountains between Avignon and Aix. The engaging book diary was a sensational best-seller and was followed with “Toujour Provence” and more on the subject. Mayles’ books transported the readers to the pleasures of Provencal life. He also started a new style of travel writing. Other writers followed with their personal journey of discoveries from Brazil to Mexico to the Philippines. Readers re-discovered a way of life rooted in simple timeless pleasures.

River valley, breads made from poor-man’s wheat. Thinking, dreaming and living food is the norm in Provence, eating liesurely, spending time at the table to converse without the modern communication gadgets to distract the fluidity, continuity of life. It is not civilized to answer every phone call, specially when dining with friends. The photographs are stunning. The recipes emphasize fresh ingredients and the last chapter feature the best restaurants in Provence. Available at Country Furniture Vancouver, 3097 Granville St.

NEW FRENCH BISTRO ON 4th LA CIGALE – 1961 West 4th Avenue La Cigale means “the cricket”. It is the distinctive symbol of the Provencal Region in France. It is a new French bistro offering rustic French cuisine with bold flavors, utilizing B.C.’s seasonal produce and recipes that maximize individual flavors. As a French bistro, there’s tapenade, es-

PROVENCE JE T’AIME – GORDON BITNEY Author Gordon Bitney is a retired Vancouver lawyer who moved his family to a charming village stone house in a small village in Provence and wrote about his life in France. Published in 2008, the book continues to be a seller. It has the same eloquence, humor and warmth as the Mayles book. After reading Bitney’s accounts, you may want to return to Provence and if you haven’t been captivated, you will yearn to go. It is a joy to read about a Canadian adapting to another culture, learning French, art and cuisine and finding his legs on a bike as mode of transportation. (Available at Blueberry Bookstore – Granville Island) PROVENCE FOR ALL SEASONS – GORDON BITNEY The new follow-up book of Gordon Bitney (recently published) is equally charming. He and his wife returned for another season in Provence. They opened their small village villa and let in the fresh air that disturbed the

stillness that had accumulated over the winter months. We follow the Bitneys as they learn how to find truffles, buy croissants, meet the locals, how to behave in haute societe, how to be a cherry expert and how to cook a celebrity chicken. The book will help us appreciate a leisurely lifestyle, a state of mind that can be replicated in Vancouver even when we don’t get 300 sunny days a year. (Available at Chapters) LUNCH IN PROVENCE – RACHEL McKENNA and JEAN-ADRE CHARIAL A delicious-looking coffee table book that captures the ritual experience of dining with friends (preferably outdoors) combined with fresh ingredients for the food, sun, sky and moments that build memories. The meal need not be grand but the experience can be. The freshness of the food are all from the region, fish and shellfish from the Mediterranean, fruits and vegetables from nearby farms and markets, wines from the Rhone

BEAUCOUP – 2150 Fir St. Tucked away on Fir St., on the edge of Kitsilano and Fairview Slopes is a newly-opened French bakery. It is also a café, serving excellent brew. The bakery is small, intimate and very French. It bakes traditional decadent French pastries and more. Even before you enter the bakery, you can smell the captivating aroma of freshly baked croissant, hazelnut lemon macaron frais , salted caramel blondie and caramel éclair.


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VANCOUVERIMPRESSIONS JILL BARBER DISCOVERS FRENCH CONNECTION

HEATHER ROSS INTERIORS Heather Ross is a Vancouver artist, photographer, stylist and designer. She has a unique gallery/boutique selling items from Provence and Tuscany. It’s a store for those who enjoy collecting something natural and eclectic or interior designers searching for one-of-a-kind art pieces and authentic finds. Heather conjures a home dressed in driftwood hues and vintage European rarities found in flea markets in Europe. There is also modern Asian inspired porcelain, scented soaps from Italy and antique European trims and textiles. This shop is right next to Beaucoup.

Vancouver-based songstress/songwriter Jill Barber was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia but grew up in Toronto. She has an unusual, captivating voice (think of Eartha Kitt, Cyndi Lauper, Renee Zellweger combined). Jill recently released her latest album “Chanson”, an all French offering of classic melodies from Quebec and France that’s been re-interpreted in Barber’s smoky, jazz-coated singing style. Old tunes like “Petite Fleur”, “Sous Le Ciel De Paris” and “Le Feuilles Mortes” have been given a new, fresh life and contemporary twist. Jill Barber was not interested in learning French in her youth but had an awakening when she performed at the Montreal Jazz Festival. She was determined to be a bi-linqual performer and went to Paris and South of France for a French language immersion. The end product of the experi-

ence is “Chanson”. “Chanson” is a beautiful and romantic album and you don’t have to speak French to fall in love with the 12 well-selected songs. However, the French version of the classic jazz standard “September In the Rain” (En Septembre Sous La Pluie) is a standout. Jill Barber was originally a folk /pop singer who became a vocal jazz artist. She earned 2 Juno Award nominations then won one in 2008 as “New Artist Of the Year”. (Available at Sikouras Classical Records – 432 West Hastings) n


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MARCH 16-31, 2013

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ALACANANG has condemned the reported abuses suffered by Filipinos at the hands of Malaysian police in the crackdown on followers of the sultan of Sulu in Sabah.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is verifying the report published by the Inquirer Sunday based on the accounts given by Filipinos fleeing violence sparked by the intrusion of the followers of Sultan JamalulKiram III into Sabah. One refugee, Amira Taradji, spoke of how Malaysian police conducting sweeps of villages in search of the sultan’s followers rounded up Filipino men, made them run as fast as they could, and shot them. One of the men killed in Sandakan was Taradji’s brother Jumadil. Even Filipinos with immigration

papers were being rounded up and thrown into jails, Taradji said. Some who tried to avoid arrest by showing their papers were shot, she said. Seventy-nine people, including Tausug and Orang Suluk (people who originated from Sulu), were rounded up on March 8 in police sweeps of villages to flush out supporters of Jamalul’s attempt to retake Sabah from Malaysia. Thirty-three more, including four women, were arrested Sunday morning on suspicion of abetting the intruders, including providing them with security information. The Semporna police chief, Firdaus Francis Abdullah, said the suspects, all foreigners, were detained at Bakau. He did not say if the foreigners were Filipinos, but Bakau has many Filipino residents. Malaysian police chief Ismail Omar reported that a teenage boy was shot dead and a man was wounded by security forces in the bushes in the

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Malaysian police roundup suspected “intruder.” battle zone Sunday. Sixty-one people have been killed in fighting since the intrusion led to violence on March 1, including 53 Filipinos and eight Malaysian policemen. Speaking on state-run dzRB radio on March 10, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said abuses against Filipinos in Sabah was “unacceptable” to the government. Valte said Philippine diplomats would talk to the Malaysians about the reported abuses. She said President Aquno spoke

with Malaysian Prime Minister NajibRazak on March 2 and received assurance that the rights of the 800,000 Filipinos in Malaysia would be protected. In a statement issued Sunday, the DFA said the Malaysian government should clarify the reported abuses. “If this is true, we will tell them that this should not happen because the safety of all Filipinos in … Sabah is important,” DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said in interview on dzRB. Hernandez said the government

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would appeal to Malaysia to treat Filipinos in Sabah humanely. The Philippines has asked Malaysia to be given access to 10 sultanate followers who were captured during a police raid on Agbimuddin’s group in Tanduao village in LahadDatu town on March 1, but the Malaysians have not responded, Hernandez said. Omar declined to comment on the reported police abuses, saying he did not want to dignify the refugees’ claims. The reported ordeal of Filipinos in Sabah has prompted at least 93 civil society groups in the Philippines and Malaysia to call for a “humanitarian ceasefire” to ensure the safety of noncombatants in the eastern Malaysian state. The groups also called for the setting up of “safe zones” where humanitarian organizations could help people fleeing from the violence in the territory. Filipinos have been fleeing the violence in Sabah since March 3. Taradji’s group of about 400 refugees crossed the Sulu Sea in a boat from Sandakan and arrived in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi, on March 8. Three hundred more arrived in Jolo in another boat from Sandakan on March 9 with stories of Malaysian police abuses committed against Tausug residents of Sabah. The fresh stories tended to confirm Taradji’s report of police brutality. n

AQUINO: I WON’T ALLOW SULTAN TO DRAG PH INTO WAR WITH MALAYSIA

Sultan JamalulKiram III GENERAL SANTOS CITY -- President Aquino has declared that he would not allow the sultanate of Sulu to drag the country into a conflict with Malaysia. On March 6, a day after Malaysian forces launched a major operation to flush out the sultan’s armed followers at LahadDatu town in Sabah, Aquino noted that the family of Sultan JamalulKiram III was engaged in a “propaganda war” ostensibly to elicit sympathy from Filipinos. Addressing a campaign rally of Team PNoy, the President turned emotional as he explained his decision not to discuss the Sabah claim with Kiram unless the sultan first recalled his followers from Sabah.

“I appeal to you—we should be really clear on this—this incident is wrong. If this is wrong, why should we lend support to this? We should support what is right … which will lead us to brighter prospects; the wrong option will only bring us ruin. That’s it, that’s my simple message,” he said to applause from the audience. “Let’s not forget: What they are pushing for is their right as so-called heirs of the sultan of Sulu. It’s not yet clear if their rights have been transferred to the Philippines. But we will all be affected by their conflict (with Malaysia),” the President lamented. A Palace official told the Inquirer that the President had been advised

against further commenting on the Sabah standoff but still made these impromptu remarks during the rally to explain the government’s position in clear and unequivocal terms. The official, who was not authorized to talk to reporters, admitted that the Palace’s position was becoming unpopular with the public, referring to Kiram using women as spokespersons. In his speech, the President reiterated his call for the Kirams to stand down, order their followers to leave LahadDatu, “and talk about your problem through a peaceful and orderly process.” “Was that suggestion wrong?” he asked. “Is it right for others to seek support for those (at LahadDatu) who are carrying arms that have led to killings?” He admitted that the relations between Malaysia and the Philippines had been colored by the Sabah issue. “Is it the interest of the Kirams, or the interest of the nation? Naturally, (we would prefer to achieve) both. This made me think, and we have truthfully studied this: They are claiming Sabah. Where did the problem that they no

longer own it come from? Wasn’t this caused by their forebears who gave the lease or authority to the British to administer Sabah?” Aquino said. “If they have a problem with the (lease) agreement, and if we are interested (to pursue this), we should talk about it through a peaceful dialogue,” he said. “If the agreement is flawed, let’s correct it.” Without mentioning China, the President noted that the country had a territorial dispute with a “big nation” but he said he never advocated the use of force to settle the issue. “We brought the issue to the (international) court to press for our right as a state. Whichever community, wherever you are in the whole wide world, an armed group entering the (territory) is not the key to a peaceful and orderly dialogue?” he said. As violence spread in Sabah, Aquino warned the conspirators in the intrusion of the followers of the sultan of Sulu into the eastern Malaysian state: “You will not succeed.” In a televised address with officials of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), on March 4, the President spoke of the alleged

involvement of officials of the Arroyo administration in the conspiracy, but he indicated that evidence was still being gathered on the role of former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Aquino said cases were “being built up” against the players. But the family of Sultan of Sulu JamalulKiram III said the government should show proof that there was a sinister intent behind their followers’ crossing into Sabah to stake their claim to the territory. “All these are just allegations. Prove it. We challenge them to prove it,” Princess JacelKiram, daughter of the sultan, said at a news conference. “We’re aware of the conspiracy that has led to this situation, a situation that has no immediate solution. We see some of them, while the others are lurking in the dark. The clan of Sultan JamalulKiram III can’t do this kind of move by themselves. It’s very noticeable that that there’s only one line coming from the critics, adding fire to a serious situation. They’ve worsened this issue, and they’re at it while hundreds of thousands of Filipinos face danger,” Aquino said. n


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FREED PINOY PEACEKEEPERS WON’T BE HOME SOON

THE 21 Filipino United Nations peacekeepers who were released after being abducted by Syrian rebels will not immediately return to the Philippines, the Department of Foreign Affairs said on March 10. DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said the initial plans are for the 21 to stay in Jordan for two days before they return to Golan Heights. “Sa ngayonnaroonsilasa hotel sa Amman at manalagisila, titirasilasa hotel for two days taposdadalhin back to Golan Heights sa UNDOF (United Nations Disengagement Observer Force),” Hernandez said in an interview. Hernandez said the initial plan is for them to return to Golan Heights. “Sa ngayonyanangplano, itongkababayannatinsanaysaganoongsitwasyonkasimgasundalosila,” he added. Hernandez also cited reports from Philippine Ambassador to Jordan Olivia Palala indicating the peacekeepers are safe and okay. “They are safe, they are unharmed, they are okay, and they are whole,” he said, quoting Palala. Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of the Philippines has started assuring the families of the 21 that their loved ones’ ordeal is now over. Before the release, the Philippines said the Syrian rebels were insisting Syrian government troops leave the area before releasing their captives. The refusal by the Syrian rebels to compromise has dampened hopes of the UN peacekeepers being released quickly, and forced the government to step up its negotiation efforts, said Hernandez. A rebel spokesperson seemed to suggest the hostages were also serving as human shields. If the UN troops are released and leave the area, the regime could kill “as many as 1,000 people,” said the spokesperson, who spoke via Skype and did not give his name for fear of reprisals. The European Union (EU) has called for the unconditional release of 21 Filipino peacekeepers, condemning the act as a “serious breach of international law.” n

Bam Aquino

BAM, GRACE BIGGEST GAINERS IN SENATE RACE EIGHT Team PNoy bets and four United Nationalist Alliance candidates are now leading in the senatorial race, according to the latest Pulse Asia preelection survey. Pulse Asia’s February 2013 Nationwide Survey on Filipinos’ Senatorial Preferences for the May 2013 Elections The survey, conducted last February 24-28, 2013, showed 2 Team PNoy candidates, Bam Aquino and Grace Poe, making it to the Magic 12 after ranking 13th and 14th in the

last Pulse Asia survey. It also showed Aurora Rep. Sonny Angara and former senator Juan Miguel Zubiri dropping out of the Magic 12. The survey showed 3 re-electionists - Senators Loren Legarda, ChizEscudero and Alan Peter Cayetano - continuing to lead the race. Placing 4th-9th in the race is former Las Pinas Rep. and Team PNoy candidate Cynthia Villar, with 44% of voters choosing her. She is followed by San Juan Rep.

35 COPS, SOLDIERS FACE SLAY RAPS “ALL indications point to a rubout.” Agreeing with investigators’ findings of a summary execution, President Aquino has ordered the filing of multiple murder charges against 35 police officers and Army soldiers over the Jan. 6 incident in Atimonan, Quezon province,that left 13 people dead. Facing charges are Supt. Hansel Marantan, leader of the police team involved in the killings, his former immediate superior Chief Supt. James Melad, and 19 other policemen and 14 Army personnel, officials said. Briefing reporters on the findings, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said that the probable motive for the killings was territorial rivalry between Vic Siman and Marantan involving jueteng, or illegal numbers racket, and other gambling activities in Laguna. De Lima said Marantan was protecting a certain KaTita whose jueteng operations affected that of Siman’s. The justice secretary said Siman, described as the gambling lord in the province, was also after the head of Marantan. “It was a race to get each other,” she said. After a thorough review of the National Bureau of Investigation executive report on the incident, the President “accepted its findings in full,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said. “He has directed De Lima to file

the appropriate criminal and administrative charges against Hansel Marantan, James Melad and others,” she said. The Philippine National Police officers also faced administrative charges. “From the very beginning what the President said was, ‘We will find those responsible for this.’ If there is any culpability, we will press charges,” Valte said in a briefing. A portion of the executive summary of the NBI report read: “Ultimately the NBI probe reached the conclusion that no shootout occurred, validating the initial result of the PNP fact-finding committee. The probe findings also showed that the victims were summarily executed and all indications point to a rubout.” Three police officers and 10 others were killed in the alleged 20-minute gun battle at a checkpoint along a sparsely populated stretch of Maharlika Highway in Atimonan. Marantan, leader of the team manning the checkpoint, was the only one wounded among 50 policemen and Army Special Forces troops who allegedly shot it out with the group of alleged “jueteng” operator Victor Siman, who also was killed. Valte said the Department of Justice (DOJ) had an airtight case against the police officers, citing testimonial as well as documentary evidence. “Many pieces of evidence were

The bullet-riddled SUV of the victims. gathered by the PNP fact-finding [team] and the NBI investigation. They have eyewitness accounts, and then of course, documentary evidence,” Valte said, but declined to say if the witnesses included policemen present during the incident. “If you go through it, you will see the kind of case that the NBI and the DOJ built up.” Valte quashed speculations that the announcement of the President’s action on the Atimonan incident report was meant to divert public attention from the crisis in Sabah created by the incursion of an armed group from the sultanate of Sulu. “Some have been following up on

this for some time, and we have been diligently doing so. It has no connection whatsoever with the incident and what’s in the news. For our part, we promised the public that as soon as the report had been fully reviewed, we will make the results known and we are sticking to that commitment,” she said. Valte deferred to the PNP and the Department of the Interior and Local Government on what course of action to take against Marantan, Melad and other officers. “I will leave that to the PNP and to the DILG but the instructions of the President were to file the necessary criminal and administrative charges,”

and UNA candidate JV Ejercito Estrada, who also placed 4th-9th with 43.8% of voters supporting him. He is followed by Team PNoy bet Bam Aquino, with 43.2%. Nancy Binay, daughter of Vice President JejomarBinay, placed 4th9th in the latest survey, with 42.5% support. Team PNoy bet Grace Poe, daughter of the late Action King Fernando Poe Jr., is now ranked 4th-10th in the race, with 42.1%. Two re-electionists - Koko Pimentel (40.1%) and Gringo Honasan (37.9%) - placed 9th and 10th in the survey. Pimentel was ranked 4th-12th, while Honasan ranked 8th-13th. Jack Enrile, son of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, placed 11th in the race, with 36.6%. He is now ranked 9-15. Finally, re-electionist Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV made it to the top 12 with 36.1%. Angara received the support of 35.1% of voters, putting him in 13th place and statistically in 10-15th place. Meanwhile, Juan Miguel Zubiri dropped to 14th place with 33.2% of voters supporting him. It was the first time that Zubiri dropped out of the Magic 12. Former senator Dick Gordon was ranked at 11th to 16th places, with 32.2% support. Pulse Asia said 5.5% of Filipinos are not inclined to support any of the 33 senatorial candidates for the coming midterm polls. n

she said. “They will have an opportunity to present their side when the charges are filed.” After getting a copy of the voluminous report from De Lima on Feb. 7, the President admitted being overwhelmed by it. “It’s actually not that long. It’s just five inches thick. It weighs over six kilos and the briefer on it is 64 pages. It was my first time to read a book looking at the ceiling while seated at a table,” Aquino said then. Chief Supt. GenerosoCerbo, PNP spokesman, said the police personnel implicated were all accounted for and would be made available in the DOJ investigation. He said the policemen were either under restriction or under custody. Marantan is still in the hospital. n

SUDOKU ANSWER FROM PAGE 11


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IT’S FINAL: SC DROPS ‘KURATONG’ RAPS VS LACSON THE Supreme Court has dismissed with finality the multiple murder case against Senator PanfiloLacson in connection with the KuratongBaleleng rubout. In a two-page resolution, the high court denied the appeal filed by the government’s Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) for failure to raise new issues that would warrant a reversal of its last year’s ruling. “The court resolved to deny with finality the said motion for reconsideration as the basic issues raised therein have been passed upon by this court and no substantial arguments were presented to warrant the reversal of the questioned decision,” the resolution stated.

In December last year, the high court upheld the November 2003 decision of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 81 that dismissed the multiple murder case against Lacson and 33 others. The high court through Associate Justice Roberto Abad, said QC RTC Branch 81 Judge Ma. Theresa Yadao did not abuse her discretion when she dismissed the case against Lacson and several others for lack of probable cause. Probable cause are facts discovered through investigation that would lead a reasonably intelligent and prudent person to believe that a person has committed a crime and deserves to be prosecuted.

Prosecutors have submitted to the lower court five affidavits from witnesses and reports from the Philippine National Police. Still, the prosecutors said, Judge Yadao should have ordered them to present additional evidence as stated under Rule 112 of the Rules of Court if she still has doubts in determining if there is probable cause to order the arrest of the accused or not. But the high court pointed that requiring the prosecutors to present additional evidence is not mandatory. Yadao, in her ruling said the evidence submitted by the prosecution as well as the testimonies of the new witnesses — Senior Inspectors Ismael Yu and Abelardo Ramos, Senior Police

to,” Brillantes added. OAVs numbering 238, 557 were originally given until January 11 -- from an earlier deadline of December 21, 2012 -- to apply for reactivation but only 40 voters complied. With the reinstatement, the number of overseas voters is back to 988,384, almost 12,000 short of the original target of one million absentee voters. For this year’s mid-term elections, the new OAV registrants totaled 386,332 voters, the highest turnout so far. The second highest turn-out was last achieved in 2004, the first elections where the OAV system was implemented, with 364,187 registrants.Three years later, new registrants dipped to 143,236. In 2010, 235,950 new voters registered. The Comelec says overseas voters can start casting their votes at 8 a.m. on April 13, local time of the

host country. Voting will end at 7 p.m. of May 13, Philippine time. Voters who have not yet cast their vote beyond 7 p.m. can still vote if they are within 30 meters from the polling place. Overseas voters have three waysto cast their vote: personal voting, postal voting and field voting, with Comelec choosing which form of voting is applicable for every diplomatic post. For personal voting, OAVs will cast their votes at diplomatic posts or other voting areas designated by Comelec. Posts include Philippine embassies, consulates, Foreign Service establishments and other Philippine government agencies maintaining offices abroad. Posts also include the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLO) and the three Manila Economic and Cultural Offices (MECO) in Taiwan. For postal voting, the ballots and other election paraphernalia are sent to the voters by mail. The voters can either mail or personally deliver the accomplished ballots to the diplomatic posts. For field voting, OAVs can cast their vote for a limited period in places were field registrations were held. n

OVERSEAS VOTERS NEARLY 1-M

OVERSEAS absentee voters (OAV) who are eligible to vote in the May 13 elections total almost a million after the Commission on Elections reversed an earlier resolution that would have disenfranchised close to 240,000 voters who failed to vote in the past two elections. “In effect, we are reinstating the list of those which we deleted in a previous resolution,” Comelec Chair SixtoBrillantes Jr. said after the poll body issued Resolution 9653allowing Filipinos living overseas to reactivate their voting status up to the last day of voting for OAVs. Section 9 of RA 9189 or the Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2004 gives power to Comelec to remove OAVs who failed to vote for two consecutive national elections. “After discussions with the representatives of the overseas Filipinos, sabinila, anonamangmasamakungpagbigyannatinsila,” Brillantes said. “So we came back to the original plan where those who will come out and vote (their very presence) will be the act of activation para hindina di-disenfranchise yungmga gusting bumo-

CABINET POSTS AWAIT LACSON, PANGILINAN SENATORS PanfiloLacson and Francis Pangilinan, whose terms will end on June 30, will soon be part of the official family of President Aquino. Aquino himself confirmed the development, saying his two allies in the Senate would be named to several key positions in his Cabinet in what could be a minor reorganization ahead of his State of the Nation Address in July. Both senators are retiring this June after completing two consecutive terms, and are thus barred from seeking reelection in the May polls. The President made no mention of specific positions, except that Pan-

gilinan will work in the agriculture department and Lacson will serve as troubleshooter. “Kiko (Pangilinan), in particular, has several aspects of the agricultural sector he wants to concentrate on,” the President said, noting that Pangilinan is a member of the ruling Liberal Party. “He has already discussed his ideas with Secretary Proceso Alcala, and we will try to maximize his involvement in our administration to the benefit of the agricultural sector,” said the President. The President did not set a timetable for his new appointments, but he

expected Pangilinan to join his Cabinet “in the quickest possible time.” Pangilinan said he readily accepted the President’s offer, saying he is “willing to help in whatever capacity.” Lacson, on the other hand, will have a “more general role” as troubleshooter for the President. “Initially, it will be like a fireman putting out fires. So he will not have a specific agency that he’ll report to,” the President said. “But when there is a particular group that needs my undivided attention, he will be the one providing that undivided attention. But we still have to work on details (of his assign-

Sen. Lacson

Officer 1 Wilmor Medes, SPO2 Noel Seno and civilian agent Mario Enad — were “full of loopholes making the accusations less credible and bereft of merit.” Lacson, along with Chief Superintendents Jewel Canson, Romeo Acop and Francisco Zubia, Senior Superintendents Michael Ray Aquino, Cesar Mancao III and Glenn Dumlao and 31 other police officers were indicted for the murder of the alleged members of KuratongBaleleng robbery gang on May 18, 1995. Lacson used to lead Task Force Habagat of the defunct Presidential Anti-Crime Commission headed by then Vice President Joseph Estrada. n

AQUINO BREAKS BREAD WITH BISHOPS MORE than two years since pulling out from the negotiating table over the Reproductive Health (RH) issue, Catholic Church officials have agreed to cease hostilities with Malacañang — for now. But it remains a shaky truce. Over dinner on March 5, President Benigno Aquino III broke bread with high-ranking officials of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) —their first meeting since the scuttled dialogue over the RH controversy in 2011. During the dinner, Malacañang and the CBCP agreed to “set up a structure or mechanism” that will allow a continuous dialogue between both sides and avoid what happened in the past, according to Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes said in separate phone interviews. The two were among the Cabinet officials present in the dinner. They said the RH issue -- a certain appetite spoiler -- was not discussed. “The RH was not discussed. Both parties were conscious of the fact that they are just restarting the dialogue,” Abad told Rappler. Abad said both sides agreed to put up a mechanism to facilitate dialogue and further collaboration on issues such as poverty and human rights. De Los Reyes said the Office of the President will put up a liaison office that will facilitate continuing talks between both sides. Among those present was Manila bishop Broderick Pabillo. Monsignor JoselitoAsis, CBCP secretary-general, earlier told reporters that a meeting indeed took place with the President. Other CBCP officials refused to be interviewed. The Aquino government -- unlike previous administrations -- had refrained from tapping any liaison official with religious groups. The President reportedly did not want to follow in the footsteps of his predecessors because he found their style of dealing with Church leaders questionable. This however strained ties with the Catholic Church, as well as the bloc-voting Iglesiani Cristo. The dinner meeting came on the heels of the involvement of some bishops in a negative campaign senatorial candidates, most of whom are running under Team PNoy, who supported the passage of the RH law. (Read: What the campaign against Team Patay means) n Six dioceses so far have served notice that they will be campaigning against these candidates, in what could be a prelude to greater Church involvement not just in the 2013 race but in the 2016 presidential elections as well.

ment),” he added. Lacson said he has accepted the new Cabinet-level position in principle, which he described as “exciting.” “It’s not an existing position. You’ll find out [more about it] later when we’re already working. It’s going to

be exciting. And I’ll create more enemies,” he said. Pangilinan and Lacson will retire from the Senate in June after serving two consecutive terms since 2001, when they ran as candidates of the opposition to then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. n


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OWS in Hong Kong

OFW DEPLOYMENT TO HK STOPPED OVERSEAS Filipino workers seeking employment in Hong Kong can kiss their dreams goodbye. The recruitment and deployment of OFWs in Hong Kong were halted by recruitment agencies due to the high placement fees being charged on them by their foreign counterparts in

the host country. The Society of Hong Kong Accredited Recruiters of the Philippines, Inc. (SHARP) said it stopped sending OFWs there, specifically the Filipino household service workers. “It is with utmost sadness, but with a very realistic outlook, that we,

SURVEY SHOWS 37% OF PINOYS ARE HOPEFUL ALTHOUGH they continue to face many challenges, Filipinos remained optimistic about their personal and economic prospects for 2013 -- with nearly two of five Filipinos expecting their lives to improve in 2013, pollster Social Weather Stations said in its end-2012 survey. Citing the results of its Dec. 8-11 survey, SWS said Filipinos ranked their personal prospects for 2013 “high” and prospects for the economy “very high.” “Net economic optimism has been ‘very high’ (from +10 and above) in eight out of 11 surveys since June 2010,” the SWS said. In the poll, 37 percent of respondents said they expect their lives to improve in 2013, while 8 percent said things would get worse. This brought the net optimism score to +29, which is two points higher than August. Also, 33 percent of respondents were optimistic on the economy’s prospects for 2013, as opposed to 14 percent who were pessimistic, for a net +19 score. This was also two points higher than in August, SWS said. For net personal optimism, the SWS considers scores of +30 and up as “very high” and those of +20 to +29 “high.” The +10 to +19 range, which contains the historical median and mode, is considered “fair.” A score of +1 to +9 is “mediocre” while zero to -9 is “low” and -10 and below, “very low.” As for net economic optimism and

net gainers, the SWS classifies scores of -20 to -29 as “low” and -30 and below “very low.” “Fair” is assigned to the -9 to zero range, -10 to -19 is “mediocre”” +1 to +9 “high” and +10 and above, “very high.” The Dec. 8-11 survey used faceto-face interviews of 1,200 adults nationwide. Sampling error margins of ±3% for national and ±6% for area percentages applied to the survey. The survey showed more Filipinos (25 percent from 21 percent) claimed their lives had improved the past year. However, the SWS said the proportion of those who said otherwise also rose (32 percent from 28 percent), keeping the net score at a “fair” -8. Net personal optimism remained “very high” among the ABC class at +40 from +32 in August. Net optimism for ABC had been “very high” in majority of surveys done since September 2010. The score among the class D or masa was +30 from August’s “high” +28. The SWS said since September 2009, the masa’s score has been above +20. As for class E, net optimism went up four points to +24, which is still considered “high.” Scores in Class E stayed above +20 in 10 out of 14 surveys since September 2009. Among the ABC class, net economic optimism remained at a “very high” +28. The masa also garnered a “very high” score, +19, while class E gained five points to yield a score of +16, which is also “very high.” n

at SHARP, have to declare a moratorium on the recruitment and deployment of HSWs to Hong Kong until such time that our counterparts and their employers have satisfactorily addressed the issue,” said SHARP President Alfredo Palmiery. He said the recruitment costs being imposed on Filipino workers “jeopardize the interest and welfare of OFWs” apart from it has adverse effects on their businesses. “We are legitimate business owners, but first and foremost, we are able to sustain our businesses because we look after the welfare and well-being of our OFWs,” Palmiery said. SHARP is the largest organization of Philippine licensed overseas employment providers recruiting and deploying 63 percent of OFWs employed in the former British colony. Its members held a General Assembly last month and came up with a decision to issue a moratorium on OFW deployment. Philippine-based recruitment agencies complain on the placement fee being charged from OFWs, which is equivalent to their monthly salary of US$ 505 in Hong Kong. They want the implementation of zero placement fee policy before they resume OFW recruitment and deployment in the host country. n

SCAM LEADER’S IN-LAW SEIZED FOR P300-M RANSOM THE blowback over a multibillion-peso pyramiding scam in Mindanao has taken an ominous turn after the brother-in-law of Jachob “Coco” Rasuman, the alleged brains of the Lanao del Surbased investment scheme, was kidnapped by a group of armed men who are believed to be acting for victims who lost money in the Ponzi fraud. Henry Khalid A. Tomawis was abducted last Saturday in LanaodelNorte and his kidnappers are demanding a ransom of P300 million, a source in Lanao del Norte said. (In Manila, the National Bureau of Investigation confirmed the kidnapin)g. The kidnappers have threatened to decapitate Tomawis if Rasuman fails to come up with the ransom money, the source said. Tomawis is reportedly being held in a remote island of Lanao del Norte. According to the source, the kidnappers were reportedly hired by an angry investor who lost at least P140 million from the get-rich-quick scheme, with part of the ransom money representing Rasuman’s promised profits and interest. Rasuman had promised his investors 70-percent to 100-percent gains on their investments in two months from a pyramiding scheme anchored on the buying and selling of used cars. n

COA: 3 SENATORS’ PORK WENT TO BOGUS NGO SOME P195 million in Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of three incumbent senators and a former congressman went to a questionable nongovernment organization in 2011, according to a report of the Commission on Audit (COA). The PDAF, a pork barrel that funds pet projects of members of Congress, is a known source of kickbacks for lawmakers. Yearly, a senator is entitled to P200 million in PDAF and a member of the House of Representatives, P70 million. The audit report identified Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr. and then Buhay Rep. Rene Velarde as the sources of the P206 million in PDAF for the Department of Agriculture that was released in several batches in 2009 and 2010. Of the amount, P201 million was turned over by the agriculture department to ZNAC Rubber Estate Corp. (ZREC), a governmentowned and -controlled corporation (GOCC), which in turn transferred P194.97 million to Pangkabuhayan Foundation Inc. (PFI). Of the amount received by PFI, P74.69 million came from Enrile’s pork barrel, P106.7 million from Estrada’s, P9.7 million from Revilla’s and P3.88 million from Velarde’s, the COA said. The COA report further said that the financial statements and income tax returns from 2006 to 2008 indicated that the government was PFI’s only source of funding. Estrada confirmed that part of his PDAF went to the foundation during the Arroyo administration. Estrada wants an investigation of how his PDAF was spent if indeed PFI was a bogus NGO. Enrile withheld further comment until he had checked his records.“I cannot make a statement. I will have to check records and facts,” he said in a short reply coursed through his media staff. “This is the first time I heard about ZNAC Rubber Corp. and Pangkabuhayan Foundation Inc.,” he added. Revilla gave no comment. He sent word that he had yet to go through the records. The COA said the offices of Enrile, Estrada, Revilla and Velarde all nominated the PFI as the beneficiary of the funds to implement its claimed livelihood projects. Sought for comment, Enrile said this was the first time he heard of ZREC and PFI. The ZREC is involved in commercial crop production, particularly

rubber. It operates a plantation on a 1,000-hectare property in Tampilisan, ZamboangadelNorte province. The ZREC uses the land owned by ZamboangadelNorte Agricultural College, under a usufruct agreement for 50 years. The ZREC was formally incorporated and registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission on May 17, 1984. In 2010, it was on the list of 36 “underperforming” GOCCs that Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez wanted abolished. The COA report reiterated its previous recommendation to ZREC to require PFI to refund P162 million “due to fabricated documents and forged signatures” it submitted for the liquidation of funds received from ZREC. The COA also recommended that ZREC inform Enrile et al. “that PFI should no longer be granted any fund assistance and have it blacklisted.” State auditors raised doubts on the legal personality of the recipient nongovernment organization which claimed to have been implementing livelihood projects and programs in IlocosNorte in Luzon; Bacolod City, Negros Occidental; Aklan and Iloilo in the Visayas; and Camiguin, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga City and Basilan in Mindanao. The PFI listed its office address as No. 050 D&E Building on Roces Avenue corner Quezon Avenue in Quezon City. Its previous address was No. 31 Ignacio Avenue, North Susana Executive Village, MatandangBalara, Quezon City. The COA report noted that PFI had five tax identification numbers (TIN) based on different documents submitted to various government agencies. COA auditors had asked ZREC to explain the discrepancies in the information when informed of the audit findings but the auditors were told that ZREC could no longer contact Petronila A. Balmaceda, PFI president, and that she had not replied to its letter dated Jan. 27, 2011. Estrada said he didn’t know the people behind PFI but acknowledged that it was an organization accredited by the Department of Agriculture. “It was the DA that recommended it (to be a beneficiary of my PDAF),” Estrada told the Inquirer. Estrada said this was “way back” before President Aquino took office in 2010. “Our function is only to identify projects. The funds never passed through us. That’s the case for all of us senators,” Estrada said. n


MARCH 16-31, 2013

PLANET

28

PHILIPPINES

Vancouver Edition


March 16-31 2013 Issue  

Planet Philippines March 16-31, 2013 Issue. Dingdong Dantes cover.

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