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PHILIPPINES

NOVEMBER 1-15, 2012


NOVEMBER 1-15, 2012

PLANET

PHILIPPINES CELEBRATES NEW

SAINT

HURCH bells pealed across the Philippines on October 21 as millions attended special Masses to celebrate the naming of the country’s second saint, a young missionary killed over 340 years ago.

President Benigno Aquino declared October 21 a “national day of celebration” in Asia’s bastion of Catholicism and sent his vice president, Jejomar Binay, to lead a big congregation to the rites in the Vatican. In the capital Manila people from all walks of life congregated at the Sto. Niño de Tondo parish to watch the ceremonies naming Pedro Calungsod as one of seven new

Pedro Calungsod is the new patron saint for the youth, in recognition of his age – believed to be just 17 – when he was killed in Guam in 1672 while attempting to convert natives. He qualified for sainthood last year after the Vatican officially recognized a 2003 “miracle” in which a 49-year-old Filipina woman declared dead from a heart attack was revived after a doctor prayed to Calungsod for help.



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A boy kisses a statue of Pedro Calungsod during a vigil at the Saint Gregory the Great Parish in Cebu as millions of Catholics greeted the canonisation of the country’s second saint.


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saints in the Catholic faith. “The canonization of Saint Pedro Calungsod is a major and historic event for the Catholic Church and our predominantly Catholic nation,” Binay said in a statement from Rome. “The event fills us with pride as Catholics, yet it calls on us to exercise humility and reflect on the supreme sacrifice made by Saint Calungsod in defence of his faith.” Thousands from all walks of life holding small replicas of Calungsod, many of them teary-eyed, trooped to at least three different venues in Manila where the government had set up giant screens on which to show the solemn proceedings in Rome. As Pope Benedict XVI read the names of the seven new saints, church bells across the Philippine rang out for a few minutes to welcome Calungsod’s sainthood. “I am filled with joy. We now have two saints to intercede for our many problems,” said Nanang Linda Petra, a 54-year-old mother of 12, who took a day off from her work as a laundry woman to watch the ceremonies. Leony Mercado, a 65-year-old retired engineer and a grandmother of five, openly wept as Calungsod’s name was called out. “These are tears of joy. I cannot help but be overwhelmed,” she said, adding that when one of her children, a 35-year-old woman, died due to an aneurysm in January, prayers to Calungsod helped to ease her suffering. “I have asked Saint Pedro Calungsod to help bring her to heaven,” she said, while clutching a small banner with a likeness of the saint. Calungsod is only the second Filipino to become a saint, after Lorenzo Ruiz, a missionary who was killed in Japan in 1637 and canonised in 1987. Six others were also canonized on October 21, including Kateri Tekakwitha, the first native American to become a saint. Calungsod is the new patron saint for the

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PHILIPPINES

NOVEMBER 1-15, 2012

The image of Pedro Calungsod is displayed third from left at St. Peter’s square in Vatican City during the canonisation rites for the Filipino martyr and six others on Oct. 21. youth, in recognition of his age – believed to an image of Calungsod’s final days. be just 17 – when he was killed in Guam in It was close to Holy Week in 1672. A 1672 while attempting to convert natives. smear campaign hounded Calungsod and his He qualified for sainthood last year after fellow missionaries, especially his superior, the Vatican officially recognized a 2003 “mir- Jesuit priest Diego Luis de San Vitores. This acle” in which a 49-year-old Filipina woman was after a Chinese merchant named Choco declared dead from a heart attack was revived spread gossip against them, envious of their after a doctor prayed to Calungsod for help. influence among the Chamorro natives. In 2011, the Vatican said the incident Choco said their baptismal water was poicould not be explained scientifically, and sonous – an allegation that worked because, Pope Benedict subsequently acknowledged incidentally, the baptized Chamorro babies the incident as a miracle by Calungsod. got sick and died. Driven by superstition, local The surest thing about Calungsod is how healers and other men supported this claim. and why he died. This is based on at least 13 historical documents that told and retold his death on April 2, 1672. The Archdiocese of Cebu’s Msgr. Ildebrando Leyson, who pushed for Calungsod’s sainthood, compiled these 17th-century documents which Rappler has pieced together. Kept in various archives in Rome, France, Mexico, and Spain, these documents paint

Furious natives then aimed to kill the missionaries, said the earliest document on Calungsod’s death. Those killed were the Spaniards Diego Bazan, Manuel Rangel, and Manuel de Nava; a Tagalog native named Damian, and a Pampango named Nicolas de Figueroa, according to a letter by one of their Jesuit companions, Fr. Francisco Solano, dated April 26, 1672. The spate of killings reached its peak when it involved the Jesuit superior, San Vitores, and his lone companion then, Calungsod. At around 7 a.m. on the eve of Palm Sunday, San Vitores and Calungsod went to the village of Tumhon, according to documents compiled by Leyson. Locals told them a baby girl was born. Immediately, San Vitores wanted to baptize the child – whose father was Matapang, a converted Catholic who later rejected the faith after rumors against it spread. “Are there any children to be baptized?” asked San Vitores, as quoted in Solano’s account. Matapang angrily responded: “There inside, I have a skull. Baptize it for me with that water of God.” Hirao, another native, “tried to pacify” Matapang. But the latter insisted: “Let us kill him,” referring to San Vitores. Hirao initially refused to hurt the priest because of the latter’s good reputation, but got agitated when Matapang mocked him: “You are a coward.” So Hirao agreed: “Let us kill him.” Matapang and Hirao then speared the missionaries, “beginning with the compan+5

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PHILIPPINES HAS A NEW CARDINAL

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“The seemingly indifferent and aimless societies of our time are earnestly looking for God. The Church’s humility, respectfulness and silence might reveal more clearly the face of God in Jesus. The world takes delight in a simple witness to Jesus -- meek and humble of heart,” says the 55-year-old prelate. OPE Benedict XVI has added Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle and five other prelates to the ranks of cardinals who will elect his successor. Benedict made the surprise announcement during his weekly general audience in the Vatican last Oct. 24 and said the new cardinals would be elevated at a consistory on Nov. 24. The nominations help even out the geog raphic

The 55-year-old Archbishop of Manila becomes the country’s seventh cardinal.

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With some 75 million faithful, the Filipino Church is even larger than its US counterpart. distribution of cardinals, which had tilted heavily toward Italy, according to the Associated Press. Aside from Tagle, the other new cardinals are Msgr. James Harvey, the American prefect of the Pope’s household; Archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria, John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan; Archbishop of Bogota, Colombia, Ruben Salazar Gomez; Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites in Lebanon Bechara Boutros Rai; and the Major Archbishop of the Trivandrum of the Siro-Malankaresi in India Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal. Tagle becomes the Philippines’ seventh cardinal, following Cardinals Gaudencio Rosales, Jose Sanchez, Ricardo Vidal, Jaime Sin, Julio Rosales and Rufino Santos. Tagle, 55, is currently in Rome for the synod of bishops on the new evangelization. While his fellow Filipino bishops did not vote for Tagle as one of their representatives to the synod, the Pope named him a member of the gathering and even appointed him vice president of the commission that will craft its final mes-

sage. Tagle and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas have caught the attention of international Vatican watchers for their pleas at the synod for a new evangelization for the Church to be humble if it were to win new converts. Writing on the National Catholic Reporter website, renowned senior CNN Vatican analyst John Allen Jr. said the interventions of Tagle and Villegas on Oct. 8 were at that time among the “most compact as well as the most distinctive” among those made by Church leaders attending the synod. Tagle urged the Church to “learn humility from Jesus” and “discover the power of silence.” Villegas called on the Catholic hierarchy to “shun arrogance, hypocrisy and bigotry” and “punish the errant among us instead of covering up our own mistakes.” “The Church must learn humility from Jesus. God’s power and might appears in the self-emptying of the Son, in the love that is crucified but truly saves because it is emptied of self for the sake of oth-

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Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas has called on the Catholic hierarchy to “shun arrogance, hypocrisy and bigotry” and “punish the errant among us instead of covering up our own mistakes.” ers,” Tagle said in his intervention. The 55-year-old prelate said the Church was called “to follow Jesus’ respect for every human person,” adding that Jesus had defended the dignity of all people, “in particular those neglected and despised by the world.” “The Church must discover the power of silence. Confronted with the sorrows, doubts and uncertainties of people, she cannot pretend to give easy solutions. In Jesus, silence becomes the way of attentive listening, compassion and prayer. It is the way to truth,” Tagle said. “The seemingly indifferent and aimless societies of our time are earnestly looking for God. The Church’s humility, respectfulness and silence might reveal more clearly the face of God in Jesus. The world takes delight in a simple witness to Jesus -- meek and humble of heart,” he added. Allen quoted Irish theologian Eamonn Conway, who is among the expert advisers at the synod, as saying that Tagle’s intervention “had a certain resonance” in the synod hall, “meaning people were favorably taken by it.” Allen, who last year tagged the Manila archbishop as a possible papal contender, said Tagle was “widely considered a rising star among Asian bishops.” Allen also noted the equally powerful plea for humility from Villegas, a protégé of the late Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin. “Why is there a strong wave of secularization, a storm of antipathy or plain cold indifference toward the Church in some parts of the world necessitating a new wave of evangelization programs?” Villegas asked.

American Church analyst Rocco Palmo described Villegas’ intervention as a “grenade in the aula” while adding that Tagle was “a golden child.” “The new evangelization calls for new humility. The Gospel cannot thrive in pride. When pride seeps into the heart of the Church, the Gospel proclamation is harmed. The task of new evangelization must begin with a deep sense of awe and reverence for humanity and her culture,” he said. Tagle said the Church’s missionary efforts had been “hurt and continues to be impeded by the arrogance of its messengers.” “The hierarchy must shun arrogance, hypocrisy and bigotry. We must punish the errant among us instead of covering up our own mistakes,” Villegas said. Writing in his blog, “Whispers in the Loggia,” American Church analyst Rocco Palmo described Villegas’ intervention as a “grenade in the aula” while adding that Tagle was “a golden child” whom Benedict named last year as head of the country’s primatial see. “With some 75 million faithful, the Filipino Church is even larger than its US counterpart, and considerably more influential on the national stage,” said Palmo, who has served as a Church analyst for



PHILIPPINES

the New York Times, Washington Post, BBC, and other media entities. “Yet while the prior generation of its leadership literally led the revolution that overthrew a government, its heirs have apparently come to a rather different sense of their mission,” he added. The Catholic Church, led by Cardinal Sin, was instrumental in the overthrow of the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 and the presidency of actor-turned politician Joseph Estrada in 2001. But since then, the Vatican has been trying to tone down the Church’s political activism in the Philippines since that might have a negative impact on Catholic missionary efforts in neighboring countries. The synod, which ended on Oct. 28, brought together 262 select Church leaders, most of them bishops, from across the globe. Of this number, 182 were elected by episcopal conferences and by the Union of Superior Generals of religious congregations. Forty other prelates were personally named by Pope Benedict. In a blog post titled “The Pope’s favorites,” veteran Italian journalist Sandro Magister noted that Tagle was among those who were named by Benedict to join the synod. Magister revealed last year that some cardinals and bishops at the Vatican’s Congregation of Bishops complained that Tagle’s ties to the “liberal” Catholic group of scholars known as the “School of Bologna” was not included in his file when they reviewed his candidacy for the See of Manila. However, Tagle has since said that he does not subscribe to the belief that the Second Vatican Council was a “rupture” in Catholic tradition, a view attributed to the School of Bologna. This view has been roundly criticized by conservative Catholics, including Benedict. “(Tagle)… at the previous two synods, when he was bishop of Imus, had been elected by his confreres, while now it was the Pope who had to fish him out again,” Magister wrote in his blog www. chiesa.espressonline.it. (Philippine Daily Inquirer) n

NOVEMBER 1-15, 2012

In honor of the second Filipino saint, the Philippine Postal Corporation issued a commemorative stamp of Blessed Pedro Calungsod.

PHILIPPINES CELEBRATES... From page 3

ion Pedro Calonsor.” (Spaniards reportedly had difficulties pronouncing Filipino words that end with “d,” like “Calungsod,” so they spelled the Visayan’s name as “Calongsor.”) The priest, who was eventually beatified or declared “blessed” by the Church in 1985, also died a martyr. San Vitores’ body, along with Calungsod’s, was thrown into the sea. In various documents, Jesuits said Calungsod had a big opportunity to escape. He was, after all, an able-bodied teenager, likely aged 16 to 17. “And he could have saved his life if he had fled,” said the Account on the Events in the Mariana Islands in the years 1672 and 1673 by Jesuits Francisco Ezquerra, Gerard Bouwens, and Pierre Coemans. A book on San Vitores, written by Jesuit priest Francisco Garcia, likewise said Calungsod “did not want to forsake” San Vitores. “Rather, he would die at his side as the good soldier of Christ. And so, after evading many throws of

the spear, one hit him and Hirao rushed with the sword and finished the crown for him by wounding him in the head,” Garcia wrote in 1683. Besides the accounts of his death, little is known about Calungsod. Researchers haven’t found Calungsod’s baptismal record, which could have contained information like his birthplace and his parents’ names. There is also no proof he came from Cebu, despite the claims of groups of Cebuanos. Leyson said documents by his fellow missionaries “simply identify him as an ‘indio Bisaya,’ that is, a Visayan native.” He also came from the Diocese of Cebu, which, in the 17th century, covered a larger area that includes what is now Guam. Now, Leyson noted, Calungsod families live in Ginatilan, Cebu; Hinunagan and Hinundayan, Southern Leyte; and the Molo district of Iloilo City, Panay. The ones most assertive in claiming blood relations with Calungsod, come from Ginatilan, Cebu. (Agence France-Press with reports from Rappler.com) n


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NOVEMBER 1-15, 2012



PHILIPPINES

(L-R, seated) MILF Peace Panel Chair Mohagher Iqbal, Malaysian Facilitator to the peace talks, Dato’ Tengku Abdul Ghafar Tengku Mohamed, and Philippine Peace Panel Chair Marvic Leonen sign the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro on Oct. 15 in Malacañang Palace. Witnessing the signing are (starting second from left) MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, Malaysian Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak, President Benigno Aquino III, and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita QuintosDeles.

By manuel mogato and rosemarie francisco

U L T A N K U D A R A T, Philippines - At a nondescript two-storey building in the town of Sultan Kudarat, the future of the Philippines’ strife-torn southern region of Mindanao is taking shape, one accountancy class at a time. Dozens of former fighters in Mindanao’s decades-old Islamic insurgency are learning new skills - from book-keeping, to computer literacy and law - that are crucial to the long-term success of a landmark peace deal signed in Manila on Oct. 15. “Every student comes out of this institute as a new person,” said Zamin Unti, a 55-year-old former Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebel who teaches three-day crash courses at the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute. Turning fighters into laptopwielding administrators of the new autonomous Bangsamoro region is one of the challenges facing Mindanao as it moves beyond euphoria over the deal, which ends a four-decade Muslim insurgency that killed 120,000 people in Asia’s biggest Catholic nation. Investors will also need to be convinced that governance will improve in an area scarred by corruption and poverty. Ravaged by conflict, the southernmost of the main Philippine islands has never been able to capitalise on an estimated $312 billion in mineral wealth or develop abundant agricultural land that already supplies two-fifths of the country’s food. It lies near Malaysia and Indonesia and is flanked by the rich fishing grounds of the Sulu Sea and the Celebes Sea, with the Pacific Ocean to its east. Businesses are eager to enter Mindanao as the Philippines savours its biggest investment boom since the 1997 Asian financial crisis with President Benigno Aquino riding a strong economy and lofty popularity ratings. But many are holding back until prospects for a sustainable peace become clearer. What also makes investors cautious is a series of past agreements between the government in Manila and rebels from the Moro tribes that rapidly fell apart, including a 2008

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LESSONS FROM NORTHERN IRELAND

FROM GUNS TO LAPTOPS

PEACE IN MINDANAO FACES ARDUOUS ROAD

Aside from a lack of competent administrators, the transition to a new autonomous government is likely to be threatened by “spoiler”” ranging from reluctant politicians in Manila to breakaway groups of radical Islamic fighters. deal struck down by the Supreme Court and which led to a surge in violence. A peace deal in 1996 looked good on paper but failed due to weak implementation. “I don’t think they are going to rush in,” said Gregory Edwards, managing director of Australia’s RED 5 Limited , which operates the Siana gold mine in Mindanao’s Surigao del Norte province. “The security angle alone is not going to do it, there’s going to be other elements, but it certainly helps,” he said, adding investors would look at issues such as regulation and corruption before committing to projects in Mindanao.

Muslim women and Army women personnel join the “Hijab Run” along Edsa in Quezon City to express support for the peace framework agreement that was signed on Oct. 15 by the chief negotiators of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Malacañang.

Aside from a lack of competent administrators, the transition to a new autonomous government is likely to be threatened by “spoilers” ranging from reluctant politicians in Manila to breakaway groups of radical Islamic fighters. Both sides must also overcome decades of mistrust that have built up in the region between Muslims and minority Christians and the likely unwillingness of rebels to give up their weapons while peace remains fragile. “Until all interested parties have time to digest the Mindanao settlement issue, it is hard to assess its long term consequences,” said Scott Harrison, managing director of Pacific Strategies and Assessments. Government negotiators say the peace process in Northern Ireland was a model for ending the Mindanao conflict. If so, they will know that persuading the Irish Republican Army to lay down its guns was one of the thorniest barriers to peace. It could be an even harder proposition in Mindanao, which is saturated with guns held by breakaway Islamic factions, feuding clans and Communist rebels waging their own insurgency. “We are not ready yet to surrender our guns because there are too many weapons out there in the hands of even ordinary farmers,” Commander Abdul, a 50-year-old guerrilla, told Reuters while manning a checkpoint leading to a rebel base. While a “transition commission” has until 2015 to present a final law to Congress, the two sides only have until December to iron out details such as the new administration’s fiscal and legal powers, and the decommissioning of the MILF’s weapons. Much rests on Aquino’s ability to control Congress, where his allies now dominate both houses, but mid-term elections next May could upset the favourable political balance.


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PHILIPPINES

ETHNIC TENSIONS Posters and placards supporting the peace deal have sprouted all over Cotabato City, the region’s economic hub where nearly half of the residents are non-Muslims, including ethnic Chinese Filipinos. Even skeptics here say they want to give the MILF a chance, but some are nervous. “Maybe in the beginning we will not have any trouble with them, but some could become unreasonable later,” a canteen operator who only gave his name as Ernesto said, saying he had heard rumours of Muslims trying to take back farmland they claim belonged to their ancestors. “Some of my ethnic ChineseFilipino friends have actually left town,” he added. The current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) - with a population of about 4 million -- is a glaring example of how the region’s hopes for peace have been dashed in the past. Put in place in 1989, the autonomous government never lived up to its promise. Graft flourished, development stagnated and its leaders complained of a lack of resources and political backing from Manila as the MILF kept up its separatist fight. Around two-fifths of Mindanao’s population lives on about a dollar a day and the ARMM is home to several of the country’s poorest provinces. “We have learned enough lessons from the old ARMM government,” said Ghadzali Jaafar, MILF vice chairman for political affairs. “We are determined to change that by putting in leaders who are dedicated to serve the people and accountable to Allah.” A potential security risk comes from a 500-strong rogue MILF faction that opposed the deal and vowed to continue fighting for a separate Islamic state. Its guerrillas attacked army positions in August, taking over a key highway to Cotabato City. Jaafar said the MILF is not worried about the group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement, and may persuade them to join the peace process once the agreement is implemented. Some leaders of the divided

Turning fighters into laptop-wielding administrators of the new autonomous Bangsamoro region is one of the challenges facing Mindanao as it moves beyond euphoria over the deal.

Teachers in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao tinker with school computers. Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), which signed the 1996 peace pact with the government, have rejected the new deal. The MNLF never gave up its weapons and could lure disaffected fighters from the MILF and return to war. The MILF is “signing its death sentence,” MNLF founder Nur Misuari told radio this week.

TENTATIVE INVESTOR INTEREST Mindanao has no lack of economic potential. Besides farmland, its mineral reserves account for about two-fifths of total reserves in the Philippines, and includes gold,

copper, nickel, iron, chromite and manganese. Companies with operations there such as miners and food processor Del Monte Pacific Limited say they are considering expanding after the peace deal. Del Monte’s 700,000-tonne, 85year-old pineapple processing facility in Bukidnon province supplies about a fifth of the world’s processed pineapple. The company also owns a port and a nearby 23,000-

hectare (56,800 acres) plantation. Global miner Xstrata Plc plans to develop Southeast Asia’s largest gold and copper prospect at the $5.9 billion Tampakan project in South Cotabato. But its investment plans are held up by a local government ban on open-pit mining. Perth-based RED 5 wants to more than double its $120 million investment in the Siana gold mine, which started commercial operations in April after about a decade of exploration and development work, said Edwards. At an auction earlier this year for state contracts to explore oil and gas in the south, only a handful of investors submitted bids for the Sulu Sea and Cotabato Basin service area, both within the conflict zone. Officials said the poor response was mainly due to security concerns. The two areas have combined reserves of 411 million barrels of crude oil, equivalent to more than

NOVEMBER 1-15, 2012

three times the country’s annual consumption, and 2.3 billion cubic feet of gas. France’s Total is exploring for oil and gas in the Sulu Sea off Mindanao and has entered into a 75:25 venture with Malaysia’s Mitra Energy Ltd in the offshore block covering around 4,300 sq km (1,660 sq miles). The world’s largest crude palm oil producer, Malaysia’s Felda Global Ventures, has said it is interested in investing in at least 10,000 hectares for palm oil, just a speck of the 1 million hectares of grasslands on Mindanao. Mujiv Hataman, acting governor of the existing autonomous region, said Malaysian conglomerate Berjaya Corp also wants to invest in palm oil and develop 10,000 hectares within the ARMM. Berjaya did not respond to requests for comment. Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo has identified several industries for Mindanao -- from information-technology to outsourcing, utilities, mining and agriculture. He declined to name possible companies or whether deals were in the works. The Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute, set up in 2006, provides a reason for hope, teaching rebels the skills to become civil servants or run small busineses. But it also shows the scale of the task ahead. Until March, it was housed in a rented building in Cotabato City before Japanese aid money financed its new center in Sultan Kudarat, not far from the MILF’s main base. The new building boasts broadband Internet, computers and projectors, but only has a single training room and remains reliant on foreign aid money. “We’re here not only to teach but brainwash them to change their old mind-set,” said Unti, the rebelturned-lecturer. (Reuters) n


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By cherie del rio

T seems that the human decisionmaking dilemmas do not end with death. Even after one passes, choices still need to be made in determining their final resting place. There are people, however, who have thought far ahead into the conditions after their demise and have made arrangements pertaining to their funeral services. But for the departed who, either by choice or chance, have not taken the liberty of making funeral arrangements, the question of whether they will be buried traditionally or be cremated is one that their family must answer. The traditional burial practices have been honored and observed by generations after generations. There was simply no choice but to pick out a casket, buy a lawn lot wherein to bury the dead, and pay the necessary maintenance fees or whatever related expenses there may be in memorial parks. But when modern cremation services were introduced into the country, there came another practical option. Cremation services are allowed in the Philippines by both the Catholic Church and the state. The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), however, had expressed its preference for the conventional method of burial. The CBCP, through Monsignor Pepe Quitoriano, said that “Filipinos especially in rural communities still find this [cremation] unacceptable.” Monsignor Quitoriano revealed that the cremation process still has “significant repercussion”

CREMATION STILL A BURNING ISSUE Considering the growing cost of traditional funerals, an increasing number of Filipinos have resorted to the cremation of their dearly departed. The lack of burial lawn lots also add to the factors that push cremation as the more practical option. in our culture. Many opt to stick to what tradition dictates, to continue doing what has been practiced for centuries in their families. There

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from the venue of passing to the funeral home, the viewing services at the memorial chapel, and the acquisition of permits. Securing permits is an important aspect of the service. A death certificate as well as a request for cremation obtained from the City Health Office must be submitted to the funeral home before cremation may occur. Since the coffin is combustible, the body is then burned along with it. An industrial incinerator is normally used in burning the body and the cremation container or casket. The average time for cremation typically runs for two to three hours, depending on the weight of the corpse. The ashes are then placed in either a wooden ash box or an urn, which can be made of materials such as marble, steel, or brass. These urns containing the ashes are stored in columbaries in private cemeteries. Some urns are stored in bone chambers in memorial parks and properties. The process is simple and generally cheaper compared to the traditional burial rites.

Cost of dying A report from the US Embassy has listed the following estimated cost of mortuary services in Metro Manila: • Cost for preparation and burial - $2,400 • Cost for cremation and disposition of ashes - approximately $1,200 In the provinces, the cost for cremation is cheaper. There are crematoriums that offer services for as low as P30,000. Traditional burial

are also people who are not comfortable with the idea of burning their beloved dead’s body.

Process of cremation The process of cremation is fairly simple. Most funeral homes that provide cremation services likewise offer packages inclusive of the actual cremation fee, the urn within which the ashes will be placed, the transportation of the corpse

A columbium is a maintained place to repose ashes, which are stored in an urn or other suitable container.


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PHILIPPINES

packages, on the other hand, have a price range of P80,000 to P130,000 or even higher. Lavish funerals can even cost as much as a million pesos. These six-figure costs can cover the funeral car services, wake services, mass and ceremonies, food and refreshments served during the wake, viewing in the family rooms of memorial chapels, and beautification of the lawn lot where the coffin will be buried in. The cost of the lot is not yet included in the package. This will be an extra expense for the family, although more and more people have taken to acquiring insurance packages that include memorial plans.

ing place by means of conventional funeral rites -- with tombstones and epitaphs. They honor the practice of visiting memorial parks during All Souls’ Day. They value tradition and family customs.

Practicality vs tradition

Benefits of cremation If we are to compare then the cost of cremation and traditional burials, then cremation would be the better option for our countrymen who barely have enough money to get them through life -- and much lesser in death. Considering the growing cost of traditional funerals, an increasing number of Filipinos have resorted to the cremation of their dearly departed. The lack of burial lawn lots also add to the factors that push cremation as the more practical option.

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Cremation, despite the notion of a seemingly discomfiting process of burning one’s body, still allows the performance of traditional funeral rites such as the display of the coffin during a wake where people can pay their respects. In 2006, a GMANews Research services have devoted areas in their lowed in the Philippines for as long report revealed that Metro Manila property for bone chambers and as the necessary permits are seis running out of lands that will ac- columbaries. Even parish churches cured. Despite the practicality of crecommodate the dead. This prompts have bone chambers within which more sales for ash vaults, not just the urns may be deposited. There mation, a significant percentage of burial lots, in cemeteries. Over the are some requests made that ashes Filipinos still choose to lay down last decade, memorial parks and be scattered in the sea -- this is al- their beloved dead in their final rest-

Cremation, despite the notion of a seemingly discomfiting process of burning one’s body, has a number of advantages. It still allows the performance of traditional funeral rites such as the display of the coffin during a wake where people can pay their respects. The process will, in fact, only do away with the expense and hassle of purchasing a lawn lot and maintaining it. In this day and age where family members are scattered around the world, cremation presents an attractive option. Loved ones will no longer feel the pressure of flying to a specific funeral park just to visit a departed one who is six feet under the ground. At the end of the day, the choice of whether to bury or to burn will have to depend on what the family values more (or the departed one’s prior preferences): their regard for customs or their financial capacity. After all, to bury or to burn is more of a debate between practicality and tradition. n


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ONLINEFROMHOME Half a Million Pinoy Freelancers Helping to Remake Global Outsourcing Industry

By jeremy wagstaff

IPA CITY, Batangas - Not far from the world of regimented cubicles and headset-toting call center operators, a quiet revolution is stirring in its slippers. University librarian Sheila Ortencio, for example, was so poorly paid that half her salary went for childcare, and her meals amounted to dried fish and one fried egg per day. Four years on, she juggles two daughters, a husband and two Pomeranians as she catalogues ebooks online from her parents’ couch. In her freelancing job, she’s earned enough money to buy land for a house nearby and make down payments on a condo in the capital. “I have double the work but, it doesn’t bother me because it doesn’t feel like work,” she says. Ortencio is one of more than

While it’s early days, proponents of so-called commercial crowdsourcing contend that a swelling army of global freelancers is already disrupting traditional outsourcing - from preparing tax statements to conducting research on pediatricians.

swelling army of global freelancers is already disrupting traditional outsourcing - from preparing tax statements to conducting research on pediatricians. “This is all about cost arbitration across borders,” says Siou Chew Kuek, a Singaporean researcher who works with the World Bank. “Now you can farm out your work to anyone in the world.”

Low-hanging fruit Driving this trend are a dozen mostly US startups that let other small and medium-sized companies carve projects into chunks and then recruit individuals or teams of freelancers to do the work. By leveraging a faster, more ubiquitous and cheaper Internet, the startups can pluck the low-hanging fruit of IT and data-entry outsourcing that big

half a million Filipinos registered on freelance website oDesk.com more than are currently employed by the country’s growing business process outsourcing (BPO) industry. While it’s early days, proponents of so-called commercial crowdsourcing contend that a

With 2.3 million contractors, oDesk is the world’s largest and fastest-growing online workplace, ranked Number 1 by annual contractor earnings.

Sheila Ortencio, an online contractor, sits with her family as she works on a computer inside their residence in Lipa City.


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BPO players such as Infosys and Wipro once considered their own. Australian-U.S. startup 99designs, for example, has paid out $40 million to some 180,000 graphic designers, with its largest user base outside the United States being in Indonesia. Elance has 266,000 freelancers in India who have earned nearly $150 million. Odesk has 2.4 million registered freelancers and more than 480,000 clients - companies including Cisco and HP. “This is moving the entire BPO industry - that was dominated by these large middlemen organisations that take most of the profits - to the cloud,” says Anand Kulkarni, an academic-turned-entrepreneur. “Now you no longer need to be able to afford Infosys rates to be able to get quality results out of an outsourcing system.” For sure, the BPO industry is not necessarily quaking in its boots. The industry was worth $150 billion last year and is growing at 5-6 percent a year, according to Pradeep Mukherji, an Indian IT consultant and adviser to the World Bank. Crowdsourcing companies admit it’s still an uphill struggle to persuade firms to experiment with outsourcing work to freelancers rather than keeping it in-house or sticking with established BPO players. For freelancers, many face a precarious career: not always getting paid for work completed, going without healthcare insurance, and job opportunities not always being available. Indeed, many freelancers who have signed up with oDesk have never received feedback from clients - suggesting they have either not tried to pitch for work or haven’t won any yet. “It’s true to say that it’s hard to get that first contract,” says Panos Ipeirotis, an associate professor at New York University who studies oDesk data.

Second wave of innovation Such imbalances are feeding a second wave of innovation in the industry. The first outsourcers focused on what oDesk.com CEO Gary Swart calls the eBay model — using recommendations, feedback and trust to create a market where companies find good freelancers and freelancers can build a reputation. But as freelancers build closer relationships with clients, both sides prefer a more structured model where trusted freelancers hire their own team, prompting oDesk and others to tweak their software to accommodate them. Ortencio,

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Freelancers work from home in their pajamas, bond with their children and avoid the traffic. The downside: no medical insurance, 13th month pay, and company outing.

Crowdsourcing companies admit it’s still an uphill struggle to persuade firms to experiment with outsourcing work to freelancers. for example, manages several other oDeskers on behalf of long-term clients. In the past couple of years, other startups have tried to mend weak links in the chain. A potential employer posting a project on Elance or oDesk, for example, can be overwhelmed by applicants - making it difficult for them to find the best freelancers quickly, and harder for freelancers to stand out from the crowd. Kulkarni hopes to solve this problem by having his startup MobileWorks train workers to guarantee quality, and by breaking down projects into micro-tasks to lift less-skilled workers onto their first rung. Tasks range from transcribing hedge fund forms to generating sales leads. Once they’re proficient at micro-

tasks, Kulkarni says, “they would be let loose on sites like oDesk or Freelancer.com” where they can earn higher fees. Ortencio similarly multiplied her pay. She started out charging $1.50 an hour - the same she was earning as a librarian — but is now billing $8.50. Her experience is far from unique: The average contractor on oDesk, the company says, has seen monthly income grow 190 percent after three years. Nearly all crowdsourcing companies make their money by charging a fee to contractors for each successful transaction. All declined to share detailed earnings, but oDesk, which claims to be the biggest online workplace, said that its contractors earned about $75 million in the first quarter of 2012, against $40 million a year ago.

‘Micro-entrepreneurs’ W h i l e crowdsourcing is global -

Elance boasts clients in 180 countries and freelancers in 155 - much of the growth is coming from Asia. Indonesians, for example, flock to 99designs.com, where instead of up-front contracts they submit graphic designs in the hope of winning a prize. Recently dozens gathered in the Javanese city of Yogyakarta to thank 99designs in a video. The first time the company’s Australian president and CEO, Patrick Llewellyn, heard about it was when it was posted online. “I was moved to tears,” he said. Such growth is prompting

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crowdsourcing companies to set up operations nearer to where the action is. Taskus, a boutique outsourcing company, and Freelancer. com, for example, have both based their Asian operations in the Philippines. Some are going further afield. On a trip to Nepal, Canadian Mark Sears saw so many engineers and MBAs sitting idle that he saw a business opportunity and moved his family to Kathmandu. Now CloudFactory trains teams to complete micro-tasks on behalf of clients back home, like annotating videos of amateur hockey games. His latest recruit: Mohamud Juman, an English-speaking Facebook addict who collects trash outside their office. Indeed, companies like CloudFactory and MobileWorks say they are out not only to turn a profit but also to battle poverty. World Bank adviser Mukherji says this so-called “impact sourcing” already employs 560,000 workers and could account for nearly a quarter of the total BPO workforce by the end of the decade. Governments and organisations such as the World Bank are taking note of the potential for an industry that generates foreign exchange but requires very little capital outlay. Bangladesh was one of the first countries to declare online earnings tax-free, for example, and MobileWorks has recently signed an agreement with the government of Jamaica to deploy the service on a national scale. All companies stress they’re out to make money by mobilizing what Ajay Vinze, of the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, calls a movement of “micro-entrepreneurs.” Sheila Ortencio puts it more simply: “We want to be an independent, modern Filipino family.” (Reuters) n


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By CHERIE DEL RIO

O make a name in show business, an actress must usually be incomparably gorgeous or incredibly controversial. Toni Gonzaga, being the big star that she is today, is neither. Her career is not made up of the usual recipe to success and popularity. She admits to not having the pretty face of Hollywood movie stars or the body of sultry celebrities gracing magazine spreads and billboards. What Toni has, however, is a talent that none of her contemporaries can match.

OUTOF THE Toni, whose real name is Celestine Cruz Gonzaga, was discovered in a short TV commercial promoting a soft drink brand alongside hunk Piolo Pascual. Breaking into showbiz was not easy. She landed several minor roles in TV commercials, and it took a long time before she finally became the main star in an advertisement. In a recent interview, Toni recounted how her father motivated her to pursue her dream of becoming an actress. He reminded her during auditions that there was no need to be scared or insecure of all the beautiful competition because she was not entering showbiz because of her physical appearance -- she was entering showbiz because she

ORDINARY Toni’s rise to fame has been unlike the climb to success of most celebrities: there was never any nasty rumor linking her to numerous men, nor any ill chismis that earned her a headline. Toni has been known for being family-oriented, for having conservative values and being religious had an amazing talent.

Versatile talent

And what a talent it was. What Toni lacked in looks and physique, she made up for in her versatility as a TV host and actress. She is a bankable TV and movie star who can also sing -- sometimes, she would sing the theme song for her own movie. After her breakthrough into showbiz following the TV advertisement with Papa P, Toni became a mainstay in GMA network’s Eat Bulaga. Two years later, she moved to Studio 23 where she hosted the fun, refreshing news-format program of Wazzup Wazzup with Archie Alemania and Vhong Navarro, whom she starred with in a couple of movies. It was her big jump to the Kapamilya Network that has really pushed To-

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ni’s career far up. She became the host of Pinoy Big Brother and was one of the regular faces of ASAP. Today she co-hosts the popular Sunday talk show, The Buzz.

She can sing too

In the music front, Toni had several albums released with Star Records (Toni: You Complete Me, Falling in Love, Love Is..., and All Me). She had her first major concert in 2008, Catch Me, Toni Gonzaga: First Major Concert. When she celebrated her 10th anniversary in showbiz, Toni had another concert, Toni @ 10, at the Smart Araneta Center. Just recently, she was recognized by the Guillermo Mendoza Memorial Foundation as the best Female Concert Performer. On TV, Toni has appeared in numerous shows such as Maalaala Mo Kaya, Crazy for You, and Wansapanataym. She’s had a lot of success with movie projects as well. She’s been making movies since 2003 and she’s played lead roles in blockbuster hits: You Are The One with Sam Milby, D Anothers and My Only U with Vhong Navarro, and My Amnesia Girl with John Lloyd Cruz. The multimedia actress is working on her sixth album and is slated to appear in the latest Star Cinema offering, This Guy’s In Love With You, Mare, opposite Luis Manzano and Vice Ganda.

Odd celebrity

With all these accomplishments, it’s no wonder that Toni has been hailed as Philippine showbiz’s “Multimedia Star.” Her rise to fame has been unlike the climb to success of most celebrities: there was never any nasty rumor linking her to numerous men, nor any ill chismis that earned her a headline. Toni has been known for being familyoriented, for having conservative values and being religious. Because of this, it is no surprise that Toni is revered as a great role model by her fans and supporters. In many of Toni’s interviews, one cannot help but notice how grounded and focused she is in her job. Her commitment to her family and her faith is apparent and this is a trait that a lot of her fans admire about her. Although she may seem like an odd celebrity -- free from the shackles of dirty intrigues and controversial issues -- that peculiarity does not hinder her fast-rising career. If anything, it makes her stand out even more. She may look average, and her singing prowess may not be at par with Songbirds and Soul Sirens, but all together -- her talents make her a huge star whose success remains unparalleled. n

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CELEBR TY

RICHARD REVEALS NEW GIRLFRIEND RICHARD Gutierrez has revealed that he and fellow Kapuso star Sarah Lahbati are in a relationship. He didn’t disclose the exact date when their romance became official. The 28-year-old actor-TV host narrated that it all started at the set of their previous teleserye, Makapiling Kang Muli, where he was paired with Sarah in a love triangle. The lovebirds were together in a 12-day vacation in Europe recently. One of his Instagram posts during the trip read, “I wandered everywhere through cities and countries wide, I realized now that I’m happiest just here by your side.” The European trip gave them the chance to really get to

know each other better, said Richard. “Siyempre, when you travel together, mas makikilala n’yo ang isa’t isa.” Asked what he likes most about his girlfriend, Richard said, “Si Sarah, mabait siya, very sweet and, at the same time, marami kaming mga things in common. Parang yung personalities namin, tugma.” He added: “She’s outgoing. She likes sports… walang baggage. Very light siya na kasama, so enjoy kami. We can travel, we can walk. We can do whatever na kaming dalawa lang.” He said he admitted their relationship because “I realized it’s good also to be open and mas mahirap pala kapag itinatago.” “Puwede naman pala din na maging masaya,” he explained. “I’m happy both with my work and, at the

KIM, GERALD REUNITE IN NEW MOVIE THE once popular Kim Chiu-Gerald Anderson love team is reunited in the Star Magic’s 20th anniversary presentation, 24/7 In Love. “Sobrang excited kasi para sa mga Kimerald fans din yun, e,” Gerald said. “Reunion namin yun para sa kanila at para sa anniversary ng Star Magic. At sana magustuhan ng mga tao yun.” Will their reunion bring back the old flame? “Alam n’yo, pag napanood n’yo yung mga eksena namin sa movie, balikan n’yo ako kung ano sa tingin n’yo,” he replied. “Nung nakasama ko si Kim sa movie, bumalik yung mga dating memories at naging sobrang kumportable kami sa isa’t isa.” He continued: “Nakakatuwa nga na sa first day ng shooting namin ni Kim sa Star Magic, parang fiesta kasi ang daming fans na may dala ng pagkain at bumisita sila. Nakakatuwa na ang tagal naming walang proj-

ect ni Kim, pero nandiyan pa rin sila para sa amin.” Will this be the beginning of more Kim-Gerald projects? “Maybe… maybe. Why not? Open naman kami pareho sa ganun. Why not?” said Gerald. The Kim-Gerald love team earned the backing of Jericho Rosales, who said that if there will be a remake of Pangako sa ‘Yo, his hit teleserye with Kristine Hermosa, he would like Kim and Gerald to star in it. Meanwhile, Gerald denied reports linking him to Shaina Magdayao. “Hindi... hindi. Hindi totoo yun,” he stressed.

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REGINE HAS LANGUAGE DISORDER

same time, personal life ko. So, I feel very blessed.” Sarah is Moroccan-Filipino who gained a name when she landed as a finalist in the GMA-7 reality show StarStruck. She turned 19 last Oct. 9.

COCO

ALMOST LEFT SHOWBIZ

DID you know that Kapamilya star Coco Martin almost left show business for good? “Ang daming pinaghirapan, ang daming pinagdaanan ni Coco bago talaga siya naging big star,” his friend Vice Ganda said. Vice recalled that Coco, after doing indie films, lamented that his career and all his efforts were going nowhere. Because of this, Coco decided to leave show business to work overseas. “Nagsabi siya sa akin na, ‘Ayaw ko na, maga-abroad na lang ako, makikipagsapalaran na lang ako sa ibang bansa,’” Vice shared. “Pu-

ASIA’S Songbird Regine Velasquez admitted for the first time that she has dyslexia, described by the National Center for Learning Disabilities as a “language processing disorder [that] can hinder reading, writing, spelling, and sometimes even speaking.” Regine said she learned about her disability when she watched an episode of the show of American TV star Oprah Winfrey where a guest talked about the disability. “Ang sabi ng guest ni Oprah, yung D at B niya, baligtad,” she said in an interview. “Tapos noong college na siya, for some reasons, hindi siya maka-spell. . . Sabi ko, sounds so familiar.” She said that the whole time she and her family didn’t know what it was. “Naalaala ko lahat na akala nila, akala ng nanay ko, malabo yung mata ko. Kasi kapag tsine-check nila yung book ko, kasi tuturuan ako ng nanay ko, hindi nila mabasa yung isinusulat ko. “Kaya pala hindi nila mabasa, bali-baligtad yung letters B at D ko and I remembered that. Hindi nila ma-distinguish ang B at D ko,” she said. She felt something was wrong when she couldn’t spell. “Kailan lang ako nakaka-spell dahil sa text,” she said. Not only does she have trouble with letters or words, she has problems dealing with numbers, too. “Memoryado ko yung mga number na 1, 2, 3... pero hindi ako maka-memorize ng telephone numbers. Mahirap magmemorize.”

munta siya ng Canada. Mahirap ang buhay sa Canada kasi halos janitor (siya).” Coco did odd jobs in Canada but he eventually decided to return to the country. In 2008, Coco was offered to do a role in the teleserye Ligaw na Bulaklak. It was in doing teleseryes that the young actor finally found his luck. Numerous TV projects came afterwards, such as Tayong Dalawa, Nagsimula sa Puso, Kung Tayo’y Magkakalayo, Tonyong Bayawak, and Minsan Lang Kita Iibigin. But what catapulted him to superstardom was his lead role in Walang Hanggan, where he starred with Richard Gomez, Dawn Zulueta, and Julia Montes. Asked what he learned from

Even when scripts are rearranged, she gets confused. “Babasahin ko ang script, so nakabisado ko kung paano isinulat. Pero kapag inilagay mo sa prompter at iba ang pagkakasunud-sunod, hindi ko na mababasa ‹yon,” she said. Regine recalled she was oftentimes teased and bullied by her classmates because of such difficulties. “Binu-bully ako noong grade school… especially in high school. . . Close to traumatic experience sa akin kaya yung school, hindi ko masyadong na-enjoy.” The disability, obviously, didn’t become a hindrance in her successful singing career, thanks to her sharp memory. Regine will celebrate her 25th year in the entertainment industry on Nov. 16 with a concert entitled Silver. Special guests include her hubby Ogie Alcasid, Janno Gibbs and Lani Misalucha.

doing Walang Hanggan, Coco said, “Siguro mas hinulma ang talent ko at saka ‘yung pakikipagkapwa tao ko dati kasi mahiyain ako noon. Kahit paano natututo na akong makibonding sa mga kapwa artista ko at sa ibang tao.” He added: “Lahat ng nangyayari ngayon, parang isang panaginip talaga. Sabi ko nga siguro naa-appreciate lang ng mga tao ‘yung paghihirap na ginagawa ko lalong lalo na sa projects ko. Kumbaga tumatagos ‘yon.” Coco remains humble in spite of his success. “Sabi ko kung anuman ang nangyari sa akin, basta pakiramdam ko sa sarili ko kung ano ako dati, ganoon pa din. Sabi ko nga pangarap lang ito, at least sabi ko nangarap ako at nangyari kahit minsan.”


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VICE’S RELATIONSHIP ON THE ROCKS? COMEDIAN-TV HOST Vice Ganda says he’s currently going through rough time in his private life. “Merong ganun, kaunti lang,” he confessed on The Buzz in a recent interview. “Ayoko lang masyadong isipin, ayokong karirin, kasi baka madiskaril ‘yung iba ko pang gagawin, ‘yung ibang trabaho ko. Pag tulog na lang, paguwi . Sa ngayon hindi ko muna siya ine-entertain.” The openly gay star has refused to name his boyfriend. There are reports linking him romantically to Terrence Romeo and Ryan Roose “RR” Garcia, both players of the Far Eastern University’s basketball team. But Vice said the said players are just his close friends. His revelation about the problem in his romantic life comes in the midst of the success of his current movie, This Guy’s in Love With U Mare. Also appearing in the movie are Luis Manzano and Toni Gonzaga. Trying to find the logic in the situation, Vice said, “Nakakadagdag siguro ‘yon, merong slight stress, may kaunting lungkot, siyempre hindi mo naman makukuha ang lahat. Pag swerte ka sa career, minsan natatapilok ang personal life.”

IREMIT and SSS working hand in hand to reach our beloved Kababayans to continue your contribution and enjoy the benefit. With the new improve system of SSS, member can now access to their contributions and membership records, via online thru SSS website. IREMIT as number agent of SSS can help you facilitate in doing the transaction. •

Overseas Program Coverage The Social Security Commission approved the coverage of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) on voluntary basis The SSS Overseas program covers all OFWs not over 60 years old whether a previous member or not. Coverage as an OFW takes effect upon payment of the first monthly contribution. The monthly contribution will be based on the monthly earnings declared at the time of registration not on the actual earnings. Membership Application and Contribution I-Remit also facilitates membership applications. Customer simply fills out an OW-1 form. This will be sent to I-Remit Manila, who in turn will submit to SSS Head Office. I-Remit is connected to the SSS Online Payment Facility which facilitates a faster posting of contributions/ payments by members. Membership Application and Contribution I-Remit also facilitates membership applications. Customer simply fills out an OW-1 form. This will be sent to I-Remit Manila, who in turn will submit to SSS Head Office. I-Remit is connected to the SSS Online Payment Facility which facilitates a faster posting of contributions/ payments by members.

Schedule of Seminar at Iremit Nov. 17, 2012 2-5pm and Dec. 1, 2012 2-5 For registration please call Jenny 604-284-5143


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HOW PIOLO HANDLES INTRIGUES AFTER his controversial breakup with KC Concepcion, Piolo Pascual finally said his piece about the intrigues being thrown at him. Recall that when KC confessed about their breakup on television late last year, she left some statements that elicited multiple interpretations. During a press conference recently, Piolo was asked about the things he runs away from. “I run away from… I guess… you want to run away from the things that make you feel sad or make you feel bad,” he replied. “I run away from them to keep a positive vibe.” He said that his being evasive sometimes doesn’t mean he’s really hiding something. “I’ve been in the business long enough to say na I’ve always been me. . . Hindi naman ako. .

. wala naman akong itinatago, e,” Piolo explained. However, he confessed that he doesn’t read the papers to spare himself from feeling bad. “Hindi po ako nagbabasa, e. Para hindi ako masaktan. At the same time, magagalit ka lang. So, wag na lang,” he stressed. Regardless, he understands that

people are entitled to their own opinions. “Whatever they say, I just shrug my shoulders and, you know, move on with my life. So, wala po akong problema sa kanila,” Piolo clarified. Still, he admitted the post-breakup controversies with KC were traumatic, because, he said, “there are things that are taken in a different context.” But he was more hurt for his family. “Okey ako, e. Trabaho ko ‘yan, e. You got to be resilient. You got to know na it’s part of the job. Pero sometimes, I feel bad for my mom, e. I feel bad for my siblings. Even my son. Kasi hindi naman sila showbiz, e. Pero nasasaktan din sila. They don’t deserve it but parte ng buhay yun, e,” he admitted. He said he is no longer open to dating showbiz personalities. “Ayoko sana. Masaya na ako ngayon. When the time comes, gusto ko sana hindi showbiz.”

PAULEEN REMAINS EVASIVE ABOUT BOSSING PAULEEN Luna would rather keep things between her and rumored boyfriend Vic Sotto private for now. “Tahimik ang buhay ko walang kontrobersya,” the 23year-old actress and co-host of the noontime show Eat Bulaga! said when asked about

her love life. Pauleen insists that she and Vic are not deliberately hiding anything. “Yung buhay namin is very open,” she said acknowledging the numerous sightings of them dining out together. She added: “Kapag may nakikita kaming little things na puwede na-

mang ‘di na i-share sa buong mundo, we really grab that chance. I think kahit sinong artista would grab that chance.” Amidst criticism about the MayDecember relationship, Pauleen said she is happy. “I could say that I’m contented, I can’t ask for anything else... that’s

DEREK DATING FRISBEE PLAYER

DEREK Ramsay was surprised when he was asked by reporters if the non-showbiz girl he’s dating is Alexa Ramos, a frisbee player. He neither confirmed nor denied it, and instead said that he will disclose the real score between them at the right time. When reporters pressed him for details about Alexa, he described her as a very good friend, it,” she said. Asked if she and 57- year-old Vic would eventually make their supposed relationship public, she retorted, “Uh, I guess so, I don’t know.” But she remained non-committal when asked if she was ready to become a wife.

a part of the frisbee community, and one who is very close to his family in Tagaytay. He confirmed that Alexa was present at the premiere night of his latest movie, A Secret Affair. Earlier, Derek, who is a professional frisbee player, revealed that he’s dating a frisbee player but didn’t disclose the name. “I am very happy. I’m taking my time. But she’s definitely somebody I am very interested in. She’s into sports. Although she hasn’t traveled that much so I’ll see if I can get her to see the world like I have. I love that kind of girl,” the hunk actor shared. He continued: “It’s not her beautiful features that attracted me to her. When it comes to sports, para siyang walang pakialam katulad ko. Na kahit nasa ilalim siya ng araw hindi nagsa-sunblock. Walang kakikaykakikay. Hindi siya part ng Philippine team pero maybe one day makapaglaro siya ng Philippine team ng frisbee. Magaling siya.” Though Derek, it seems, has found his match, he can only assure this for now. “I don’t know [the status of our relationship]. I don’t want to put any labels as of now. But what I can do is to make her happy. She’s very happy with me.”


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ANOTHER PINAY YOUTUBE SENSATION ANOTHER Filipino YouTube sensation, another stint on American TV show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Three months after she was caught on video as a “random girl” singing karaoke at a shopping mall – and the video has since been viewed over 2 million times since it was uploaded on YouTube – Zendee Rose Tenerefe performed on DeGeneres’ talk show in late October, making her the latest Filipino talent to be championed by the American comedienne. The 21-year-old singer from General Santos City was dancing to “Gangnam Style” as she entered the set of the show. Zendee seemed overwhelmed as DeGeneres related her Cinderella story. Zendee and her family used to squat at a fire station in Mandaluyong City while they were in Manila to join the talent search contest X Factor Philippines. She did not make it to the finals of the show. “So in the morning, I’ll go to the mall and sing,” she said to the delight of the studio audience,

which included her proud parents. Zendee, who has signed a recording contract with Warner Music Philippines, performed And I”m Telling You, the same song she killed on her famous YouTube video, and was rewarded with a standing ovation. Other Filipino singers previously featured on the show include Charice, Arnel Pineda, and Rhap Salazar. DeGeneres once declared on Twitter that “some of the best singers are from the Philippines.”

Manila Express Staff staying fit and Healthy

Manila Express Staff & Family Enjoy Santoukan Ramen at Robson after Biking around Stanley Park.

Staying fit and healthy! Manila Express Family Biking around Stanley Park; West Broadway 604-736-6121 Richmond 604-279-1545 Main Street 604-874-5571 Surrey 604-588-1975 MCE Warehouse 604-279-1544 www.manila-express.ca

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NOVEMBER 1-15, 2012

Talent searches are an avenue for TV networks to discover new talents and a way out of the ordinary life for aspiring stars.

By bibsy m.carballo

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TALENT SEARCH A WAY OUT OF POVERTY

Many of our singers joined competitions in order to

T has been a long prachelp the family, for daily needs and for schooling. ticed tradition for the FiliEveryone is familiar with the story of Nora selling pino to join competitions primarily the singing kind water on train stopovers, then joining Darigold as a means of livelihood. It Jamboree in Naga before becoming Tawag ng has gotten so that we have become known as the “ItalTanghalan champion. ians of Asia,” by virtue of imo, Regine Velasquez, Aiza Seguerra, Basil Valdes, and so many others. And of course, our singing. Internationally, we have produced a Lea Salonga, Monique Wilson, Charice, Arnel Pineda of Journey and apl.de.ap (Allan Pineda Lindo Jr.) of Black Eyed Peas. Countrywide there is Sharon Cuneta, Sarah Geron-

there is Nora Aunor of Iriga, Camarines Sur, who first made her name as a singer until her acting prowess overtook that of her singing. Basically, our singers joined competitions in order to help the family, for daily needs

KZ Tandingan is declared winner in the first season of ABS-CBN’s reality singing competition The X Factor Philippines. and for schooling. Everyone is familiar with the story of Nora selling water on train stopovers, then joining Darigold Jamboree in Naga for P20 prize money for a sister’s tuition, becoming Tawag ng Tanghalan champion, after which the rest is history. Of course, not everyone is a Nora Aunor, but the process of discovery is still the same. While watching the recent grand finals last Oct. 20 of nine families of the Bida Kapamilya on It’s Showtime, there was no question who the champion would be when all judges gave them a perfect 10 score and a standing ovation. The seven-strong Gollayan family of Santiago, Isabela, mentored by Robert Seña went home with the cash prize of P1million, a hefty amount to the family which had often experienced budget deficiencies. They turned to singing, joining competitions, not always winning, experiencing criticism, until this new mentor gave them hope. The songand-dance medley I Believe I Can Fly, Queen of the Night and Please Don’t Stop the Music had the jurors on their feet including hosts Vice Ganda and Jhong Hilario. It’s Showtime’s Bida Kapamilya is actually not ABS-CBN’s principal talent search. It is Pilipinas Got Talent (PGT) based on the Got

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Protégé: The Battle for the Big Artista Break, GMA-7’s talent search proclaimed the two newest Kapuso discoveries last Oct. 21. Talent franchise of Simon Cowell. So far, it has had three winners -- Jovit Baldivino, Marcelito Pomoy and the Maasinhon Trio -- all singing acts. And like most contestants, they joined out of need to help the family. Before joining PGT, 16-year-old Jovit sold siomai in Padre Garcia, Batangas, and sung at birthday parties, practicing day in and out for his dream of joining the talent search, almost not making it to the auditions for lack of transportation money. So exceptional was his rendition that PGT resident judge Ai-Ai delas Alas was in tears, the YouTube video of his performance reached 1.5 million hits, and Jovit was famous. Today, he confesses, “Ang gusto ko lang naman ay matulungan ko ang pamilya ko.” Meanwhile, rival network GMA 7 had found its winning protégés in Jeric Gonzales and Thea Tolentino as the two newest Kapuso star male and female winners of Protégé: The Battle for the Big Artista Break last Oct. 21. Jeric and Thea, under mentors Gina Alajar and Jolina Magdangal, bested Ruru Madrid, Mikoy Morales, Zandra Summer and Elle Ramirez. The winners each took home P1 million cash, a condominium unit worth P7 million and a management contract with GMA 7. Mentors Gina and Jolina each received P500,000. Dingdong Dantes and Jennylyn Mercado were admirable no nonsense hosts who went straight to the point without unnecessary palaboks. Even if TV5 is the last network to join the reality game, we were already loyal followers of its talent show Talentadong Pinoy with simply talent as its only requirement for joining. We watched singers, dancers, a ventriloquistpuppeteer, yoyo tricker, a sand painter, acrobats, a pole dancer and so many others. TV5 will be the last in the reality talent shows to unveil its winners on Oct. 27 when Artista Academy (AA) announces its Best Actor and Best Actress together with a largest of P20 million worth of total prizes. Not only does AA have the largest pot, but it prides itself as being the only one that provides contestants with extensive curriculum-based training in a legitimate school — the Asian Academy of Television Arts (AATA). Similar to GMA’s Protégé, TV5’s AA has six finalists, three girls and three boys, with a final boy and girl winning. The six are Akihiro Blanco, Mark Neumann, Vin Abrenica, Chanel Morales, Shaira Mae and Sophie Albert who already have been cast in lead roles of a forthcoming teleserye. Certainly beats going home with P20 million prize money. (The Philippine Star) n


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By voltaire tupaz

HE world was their laboratory. After obtaining their doctorate degrees in Theoretical Physics from the State University of New York at Albany, Doctors Christopher and Ma. Victoria Carpio-Bernido further explored the world of science. They steered the National Institute of Physics at the University of the Philippines in the 1980s. They also visited major universities and research hubs in Europe and Asia. The scientist-couple was a distinguished member of the International Center for Theoretical Physics in Italy, research fellows of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Germany, and exchange scientists in Japan. But in 1999, they decided to go back home and conduct a social experiment at the Central Visayan Institute Foundation (CVIF), a school owned by Christopher’s family in Jagna, a remote town in Bohol. The school of about 500 mostly

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GLOBAL PINOY SCIENTISTS REVOLUTIONIZE TEACHING IN BOHOL The Bernidos introduced a revolutionary teaching method called Dynamic Learning Program, which nurtures independent learning among students. The scientist couple believed that the problem was not so much the lack of teachers, books, and facilities as the poor curriculum content and learning disposition of students. poor students was set to be foreclosed. Its roofs were leaking. The teachers lacked training. The books in the shelves were remnants of the last century. And for the scientists,

nothing could be worse than to work in a place without a laboratory.

Dynamic learning The Bernidos succeeded in sav-

Students of the Dynamic Learning Program in Bohol are taught how to excel without being dependent on the teacher.

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The Bernidos showed that “innovative, low-cost, and effective basic education” is possible even under “conditions of great scarcity and daunting poverty.”

ing the struggling school, catapulting the unknown institution to national attention. They called their solution the Dynamic Learning Program (DLP), a method of teaching that nurtures independent learning among students, which they introduced in 2002. The Bernidos believed that the problem was not so much the lack of teachers, books, and facilities as the poor curriculum content and learning disposition of students. “The program is designed in such way that [it can] bypass the lack of qualified teachers, bypass the lack of equipment, bypass the lack of text books if needed. But if

a school has textbooks, it‘s okay. It would even bypass the lack of infrastructure requirements needed to reach your target in education, so in that sense it is cost-effective,” said Christopher, who is currently the CVIF president.

Parallel learning classes Unlike a typical class, only 30%, or about 15 minutes of the class, is spent for an expert teacher’s lecture. Seventy percent of the time is devoted to student-driven activities that seek to achieve clear learning targets. This method is carried out following a scheme called “parallel learning classes” in which the ex-


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pert teacher, with the help of cofacilitators, simultaneously holds three classes. “In all subject areas, if you are given a complex task, you can always divide it into 10 smaller steps and this would be the 10 smaller activities. And if you wish, that single step, you can further subdivide into five easier steps. So, each activity now becomes very simple and doable even without teacher intervention or a prior lecture,” Christopher said, explaining how the program is carried out. “It’s learning by doing, discover approach on their own. So that’s the type of mindset that we would like to foster in the program,” Christopher said.

No-homework policy Moreover, during their four years at CVIF, home assignments are not given to the students so that they can rest and relax with their families. The DLP does not only tackle science and mathematics. It also covers other areas such as music, the arts, and physical education. “Even in physical education we would try to inject the scientific culture because in fact the countries who are doing very well in the Olympics, they have a very good scientific approach. They have sport science for example,” Victoria said. “It’s a synthesis of different pedagogical theories -- Montessori method, distance learning, so many things. We got the best features of these different theories. The purpose? Our target really was to have a program effective for Filipino students in Filipino classrooms with Filipino teachers in the Filipino situation,” Victoria, CVIF principal, said, explaining how the strategy came about. “When we first moved back to Bohol, the first three years, we were

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Dr. Bernido shares the revolutionary teaching method to teachers in selected schools in Bohol, Cagayan de Oro City, Negros Oriental City, Sagay City, and Basilan. still traditional in our handling of the high school, and there were no UPCAT (University of the Philippines College Admission Test) passers for three years in spite of the fact that we put in a lot of energy, a lot of time, a lot of effort,” Christopher recalled when they were just starting. Things began to change when they introduced the DLP in 2002. “It just kept on improving. So at the end of any program, really, it is the numbers that should tell the story,” Christopher said.

Numbers tell the story In the recent National Career Assessment Examination, 45% of the CVIF seniors students made it to the top 10% nationwide. In the mathematics component of the test, 51% of more than half of the CVIF seniors belonged to the top 10% nationwide. 17% of them belonged to the top 1% of the passers. Meanwhile, 16, or more than 10% of the graduating class passed the competitive UPCAT in 2011. “At this point we don’t have [all] the numbers yet, but behaviorally and other indicators like it have remarkably diminished the number

of absences, truancies,” Victoria said. She added that they are also getting feedback from teachers and parents that DLP students have become more mature and focused in their studies. Facts redeemed the program, which initially faced skepticism among students, teachers, and parents who had become comfortable with mediocrity for a long time. “The only way to convince people is to show them evidence,” Christopher noted. “At the end of any program, really, it is the numbers that should tell the story,” he added.

How it began What actually started as a filial duty to help Christopher’s mother in running a troubled school has become an advocacy for the Bernidos. “I remem-

bered we were both scientists and for a long time we were at UP and the talk at the time was really for our country to move forward, we have to keep up with science and technology,” Victoria recalled. “With the discussion on how to troubleshoot what is wrong with the school, and treating it as a microcosm of the larger Philippine society, we realized that education is really the weak link. Elementary is still early enough that you can still correct any mistakes in the educational systems in the high school. College is too late,” the educator said. The Bernidos presented DPL as a Filipino solution that can fix a Filipino problem. “We wanted to help develop signs of technology in the country to help us also move forward, so we really try to solve or address the issues in education. And as it turned out, it reflected the different issues and solutions also for the entire country,” Christopher said.

Revolutionary teaching method The DLP was hailed as a revolutionary teaching method when the Bernidos bagged the 2010 Ramon Magsaysay Award for “their

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purposeful commitment to both science and nation, ensuring innovative, low-cost, and effective basic education even under Philippine conditions of great scarcity and daunting poverty.” The prestigious citation helped in paving the way for the expansion of the CVIF program across the country. According to Victoria, the governor of Bohol, together with the Department of Education, implemented DLP in more than 150 public high schools in the province. PLDT and SMART also adopted the program in Cagayan de Oro City, Negros Oriental City, Sagay City, and Basilan. “I doubt if it is already considered mainstream. But it‘s going in that direction,” Victoria said, noting that the expansion started only last school year. According to Victoria, it would take another two to three years to take stock of the program’s definite impact as they are still testing it in expansion areas, monitoring scholastic performance, and addressing adjustment challenges. But if Bohol is any indication, chances are, the impact elsewhere will also be good. (Rappler.com) n


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COMMUNITYNEWS

Outgoing President Matilde Lim receiving Certificate of Appreciation from Hon. John Yap, Minister of Multiculturalism.

Newly installed President Rey David giving his inaugural Address

Circulo Pampangeno President Rey David & his wife Vangie.

27th Anniversary of Circulo Pampagueno

T

he 27th Anniversary Celebration of Circulo Pampangue単o was held last October 20, 2012 at Holiday Inn, Vancouver BC from which the new set of officers were inducted by Deputy Consul General Anthony Achilles L. Mandap of the Philippine Consulate General. The incoming president, Reynaldo N. David, emphasized in his speech the words Charity and Prayer as the organization begins another year of charitable works, which aims to help Filipinos who are in need just like what they did this year from were they helped the flood victims at Macabebe, Pampanga and the construction

Oath taking of new officers (Left to right) Rick de Guzman - Business Manager; Jocelyn Sampang - Asst. Treasurer; Luz Bucad - Treasurer; Cora David - Secretary; Angel Vitug - PRO; Edgar Gueco - Auditor; Noel Bucad - Vice President; Rey David - President. Deputy Consul General Anthony Mandap - Administering Officer (Standing left to right) - Philip Salvador, Nelia Salvador, Rey David, Arcie Lim, Angel Vitug, Luz Bucad, Noel Bucad. (Seated left to right) - Matilde Lim, Mary Ann (wife of Deputy Consul), Deputy Consul Anthony Mandap, Lita Nuguid.

of a new chapel at St. Bernadette Heights in Sindalan, City of San Fernando, Pampanga. Furthermore, Mr. David stressed the

need to encourage the younger Pampangue単os to be involved in the organization to ensure its sustainability. n

(Standing left to right) - Roy Arcilla, Freddie Panti, Rudy Miguel, Rey David (Pres.), Hon. John Yap. Arcie Lim, Odi Alvero, Mary Ann (wife of Deputy Consul). (Seated left to right) - Perry Arcilla, Maria Miguel, Malyn Panti, Myla Cua, Marissa Morales, Ellen Alvero.


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eptember 25, Vancouver: PHILIPPINE trade representatives and tourism diplomats converged at Max’s Restaurant, Cuisine of the Philippines in Kingsway, Vancouver for the Tourism and Trade Forum organized by the Philippine Consulate General Vancouver. The forum provided a venue for Filipinos and dignitaries residing in Vancouver to lay out development programs, in response to the Philippine government’s recent resolve to strengthen its trade and tourism initiatives for sustainable growth. The Philippine Department of Tourism has recently announced that it is presently targeting 4.6 million visitors for 2012, and 10 million international tourists by 2016. The Department of Tourism has taken a bold stance by reaching out to Vancouver-based Filipinos in an effort to generate support for the tourism program and help uplift the economy. Rene de los Santos, Philippine Department of Tourism Director for Northwestern USA and Western Canada, presented the campaign, “More Fun in the Philippines,” an initiative that seeks to draw tourists to the country by showcasing its breath-taking natural and man-made attractions in key destinations like Palawan, Bohol and Boracay. He also shared Balikbayan Promotions and Packages that will offer value-for-money deals to guests. At the forum, Deputy Consul General Atty. Anton Mandap also shared the upcoming projects of the Philippine Consulate in Vancouver, as well as his insights on the significance of dual citizenship among Filipinos. Trade Commissioner Michael Ignacio detailed various trade ventures that will channel funds to the country, from property to business investment opportunities, like long-term blue chip stocks, government and Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) bonds, treasury bills, to franchising as a high-yielding, long-term enterprise. He mentioned that Max’s, an advocate of tourism in the Philippines, is one of the notable home-grown brands that has previously explored franchising and is now making a name for itself in the intensely competitive global food service industry. Max’s Restaurant, Cuisine of the Philippines, a specialty restaurant that has gained a steady following in Vancouver, is known for serving authentic Filipino Cuisine and for incorporating inherent Filipino values like passion and hospitality in its services. Originally located in Manila, Philippines, Max’s has expanded its global footprint, serving its famous fried chicken to both Filipino and non-Filipino aficionados in

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COMMUNITYNEWS

Max’s

Vancouver Hosts Tourism and Trade Forum

From left: Labour Attaché Atty. Bernie Julve, Jennifer Pedrosa (Max’s Chef & Kitchen Supervisor) Marjorie Morin (Restaurant Manager), Cecile Pratt and Catalina Estrada (Max’s Managing Directors) Deputy Consul General Atty. Anton Mandap, Tourism Director Rene delos Santos and Trade Commissioner Michael V. Ignacio.

Trade Commissioner Michael V. Ignacio presents various investment opportunities in the Philippines to help the economy’s growth. Director Rene delos Santos presents ‘It’s More Fun in the Philippines’ worldwide campaign. Canada, Middle East and the United States. It welcomes guests to a uniquely modern interiors, homey ambience, and first-rate service. Following its launch in 2011, Max’s of Manila Vancouver has become a favorite dining destination for casual get-togethers, milestone celebrations and business functions, including forums and roundtables. As a brand, it is recognized for intricately providing the various needs of its diners, from informal gatherings to formal ceremonies with top executives and dignitaries. Among those who participated at the recent trade and tourism fo-

rum held at Max’s Restaurant Cuisine of the Philippines are Tourism Director for NW USA & Western Canada Rene delos Santos; Philippine Trade Commissioner Michael Alfred V. Ignacio, Consulate General of the Philippines Labour Attaché Atty. Bernie Julve, Department of Trade & Industry key representatives Rosalie Say and Allan De Leon, and Philippines-Canada Trade Council President Laarni Liwanag. About Max’s Restaurant, Cuisine of the Philippines: Originally located in the Philippines, Max’s Restaurant, Cuisine

of the Philippines traces its roots to a country teeming with culture and heritage. Its name was derived from Maximo Gimenez, a Standford-educated Filipino teacher who graciously welcomed American soldiers stationed in Manila into his home for dinner during the post-war era. His niece, Ruby, whipped up mouth-watering dishes that kept their guests coming back. One dish particularly stood out – the fried chicken. Notably tender on the inside and crispy on the outside, this special recipe piqued dining guests’ taste buds and left them clamoring for more. It was only a matter of time before Maximo’s American friends persuaded him to open a restaurant in order to accommodate the growing demand for his delectable, home-

cooked fried chicken. What was once a small café in Manila has successfully transitioned into a proud tradition that is also making waves in the global front as an international brand in the food service industry. Today, “the house that fried chicken built” has expanded to 135 branches in the Philippines and 13 branches in the United States, Canada and the Middle East. Media Contacts: Global Rey Marc San Juan Marketing Manager, International Contact Number: (+63) 917. 5311. 542 Email: mhsanjuan@maxschicken. com.ph n


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COMMUNITYNEWS

FIRST FILIPINO CANADIAN SENATOR A NATIONAL VOICE

ADVOCATE: Senator Tobias Enverga Jr. with wife Rosemer (leftmost two) talking with Vancouver media on October 26 at Casa Pinoy Restaurant, Richmond. by Joseph Lopez

“I

will be the voice of the Filipino community.” said Senator Tobias C. Enverga Jr. The first and only Filipino Canadian (so far) senator was in Vancouver recently to talk with the local media and Filipino-Canadian groups. Senator Enverga said that his appointment two months ago by Prime Minister Stephen Harper is for all Filipinos across Canada.

Cholo Insua with Senator Tobias Enverga and Mrs. Rosemer Enverga

Surprised at being called to a meeting in downtown Toronto by the government for a reason withheld until he was told face-to-face of his appointment, Mr. Enverga said, “I have been working for 30 years with the Bank of Montreal. I had a good job. Never in my life did I dream I would be in politics.” Even one of his daughters asked, “Why you dad?”

teams from Canada to the Philippines for medical missions, building schools and houses, and initiating livelihood training programs. The senator said he is still learning the ropes of the position “but my biggest challenge is to unite all Filipino Canadians.” The senator who is known as “Jun” on an informal basis encourages other Filipino Canadians to run

It was the Envergas’ untiring efforts to assist Filipino Canadians for more than two decades, as well as the family’s sojourns back to the Philippines to help the impoverish, that the Senator thinks partly contributed to his nomination to the Senate of Canada. “We are so blessed to be in Canada, we need to give back to our countrymen in the Philippines.” The Envergas have led several

for office. “We need to empower ourselves. Otherwise, we will just always be in the background. We have the numbers. We have the language skills. All we need to do is unite.” Devoutly Catholic, and a trustee of the Toronto Catholic District School Board until his senate appointment, Mr. Enverga was instrumental in putting into motion for around 90,000 students in Catho-

lic schools in the Toronto area to pray the Rosary together once a year - every first Friday of October. Mr. Enverga founded the Philippine Canadian Charitable Foundation. According to Mr. Enverga, almost two million Pesos (close to CDN$50,000) this year have been donated by the Foundation to Philippine causes. The almost 57 year old senator was accompanied by his wife Rosemer Enverga nee Albovias. The Envergas immigrated to Canada in 1981 and have three adult daughters ages 28, 23, and 20 years old. Senator Enverga hails from Lucena City, Quezon province and was a graduate of Colegio de San Juan de Letran in Manila. In his early years in Canada, Mr. Enverga pursued a Masters Certificate in Project Management from the Schulich School of Business at York University, and a Computer Studies Certificate from Centennial College. He advised new immigrants that it might help to get some training to learn the Canadian way, as a pathway to better work opportunities. n


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By boo chanco

HE malls have indeed become a big part of life in major Philippine cities. This is why it was a good idea for front line government offices to have service centers at the malls. It is now more convenient for citizens to get their passports, driver’s licenses, professional licenses or deal with SSS and get NBI clearances at the malls. I am sure today’s young people can’t imagine life without these malls. The closest I could think of similar to “malling” during my growing up years were the times my father took us to buy some clothes for special occasions at Escolta. But those special treats don’t happen every week the way parents seem to take their kids to the malls every weekend. Today, the malls have taken the place of the town square… the public plaza where folks congregate on weekends to relax and catch up with each other. Could all these people really be buying something or are most of them just enjoying what little air conditioning is still palpable with the number of people bumping each other around? Then again, they must be buying something or why would the Sys, the Ayalas and the Gokongweis be trying to outdo each other building more malls?

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TOWN CENTERS Some say it is wrong to channel all those remittances to consumption. OFW families must be given investment options that can be pooled to help finance vital infrastructure that would enable the economy to more than survive the end of the era of remittances.

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If we brought Ben Bernanke (chairman of the US Federal Reserve, the central bank of the US) here, he would surely be in tears seeing so much consumption expenditure taking place. There he is losing his hair trying to figure out how many more permutations of quantitative easing he needs to roll out to get the Americans to spend… and nothing works. While here our consumers behave like they must spend that remittance from Western Union quickly or risk turning into a frog by midnight. It is amazing that we seem to be oblivious about a serious economic crisis out there gripping Europe and America. A World Bank blog observed in 2009 that “many reasons explain the country’s resilience, including policy and regulatory reforms that responded to the lessons drawn from the Asian crisis. However, there is one key factor driving this resilience. It is, you guessed it, “remittances.” That reminded me of a story a friend of mine just shared with me the other day. He was just in Greece and he said it was awful there. They are blaming us for what happened to Greece. One Greek acquaintance told him just half in jest that “Fili+27


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BEAUTIFUL PHILIPPINES

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H

E

THE

EL NIDO LEGACY

and incompetent policemen. Unlike most of them, however, I was one happy moviegoer because of one thing: El Nido. That feeling of excitement that some of our kababayans probably felt when Manila was mentioned for the first time in the movie, I had that moment 60 seconds to its ending. In the film’s closing frame, Renner and Weisz were seen on a boat in the middle of a vast sea with numerous islands and towering limestone formations around them. My heart almost leaped with joy for a few seconds the moment I recognized Pinagbuyutan Island from afar. It’s my favorite piece of paradise in El Nido, which variably looks like a big chunk of heart or a baby elephant, depending on where you are coming from. Snake Island is an interesting destination in El Nido. Climb the hill on the island to view the stunning vista.

El Nido’s beauty is sublime and grand at the same time. There is a sense of tranquility wherever you go, and you certainly feel that even when you think the wow-inducing, jawdropping vista of Big Lagoon is just a little too much for your senses the first time you lay your eyes on it.

With more than 45 islands and islets to choose from, El Nido is possibly the Philippines at its finest. Every traveler who has been to El Nido’s islands has fallen in love with their beauty.

Sublime and grand yet laidback

text and photos By amer r. amor

ITH more than 45 islands and islets to choose from, El Nido is possibly the Philippines at its finest. Every traveler who has been to El Nido’s islands has fallen in love with their beauty. When Filipinos went to watch The Bourne Legacy, the Hollywood movie starring Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz that was partly filmed in the Philippines, most of them left the movie house not really pleased with the way the country was depicted. Manila, they say, is a character, but the movie did not do it justice. Instead of the picturesque gritty

city, what were shown instead were the financially-challenged communities, disappointing heavy traffic,

Snake Island is an interesting destination in El Nido. Climb the hill on the island to view the stunning vista.

I have always been fascinated with El Nido’s beauty. I find it to be sublime and grand at the same time. There is a sense of tranquility wherever you go, and you certainly feel that even when you think the wow-inducing, jaw-dropping vista of Big Lagoon is just a little too much for your senses the first time you lay your eyes on it. But it is not just El Nido’s impressive landscape that boasts of jagged limestone formations, or its pristine beaches which make the best playgrounds for beach worshippers, that endear visitors to this place. There is a laidback lifestyle


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PHILIPPINESthe BEAUTIFUL that is evident in this little town, one that allows you to slow down and forget your worries that certainly belong to the city. With 45 islands and islets to choose from, El Nido is possibly the Philippines at its finest. Whenever I talk with foreign travelers in the country, I tell them with excitement to visit Palawan. And when speaking about the country’s last frontier, it is almost always that I end our conversation with, “I tell you, you’re going to fall in love with El Nido.” Because everyone who had been to these fascinating islands did, including author Alex Garland, who is believed to have been inspired by El Nido’s secret beaches when he wrote his popular novel The Beach. Even the location manager of The Bourne Legacy, Dow Griffith, boldly proclaimed El Nido a paradise after wrapping filming there. In Donsol this year, I met a traveler from Spain who celebrated his birthday in one of the islands of El Nido with his girlfriend. He couldn’t help but gush about just how beautiful it is, and said that for the first time in his travels around Asia, he was actually at a loss for words to describe the kind of experience that one stumbles upon in El Nido. Another friend of mine traveled to El Nido with her family last year and before I knew it, she was back again after a week. While on leave

The sunset, as viewed from Corong-Corong, is a dramatic finale to all the islandhopping adventures that abound in the Bacuit Archipelago. from her PhD studies in Singapore this year, she kept going back to the islands every month since May. Before El Nido, she was mainly a mountain person. The islands that comprise the Bacuit Archipelago, she says, are just uniquely different. After all, one never runs out of things to do in El Nido. The sunset, as viewed from Corong-Corong, is a dramatic finale to all the island-hopping adventures that abound in the Bacuit Archipelago.

Island-hopping and diving

The island-hopping tours alone take you to a number of lagoons, one of which is the Small Lagoon, where visitors have to swim through a small opening when it is high tide

just to get to it. You can also climb one of those rock formations in Shimizu Island while you wait for your lunch to be served. Or you can hike the hill which affords you with a good view of Snake Island, which is really a winding piece of sandbar that disappears when it is high tide. You may also want to explore the Cathedral Cave, so named because of its façade and high ceiling that reminds one of a cathedral. You can sunbathe in Entalula Island, where the white sand is as powdery as those in Boracay, or you can simply enjoy a coconut drink while relaxing at the beach of Seven Commandos. When you are feeling a little bit more adventurous, go on the islandhopping tour that will take you to

Matinloc Shrine and have fun anticipating the Hidden Beach to appear. Of course, swimming and snorkeling are two things that you should not take for granted when on these island-hopping tours. El Nido is also home to numerous diving sites. But even just walking or biking around El Nido town presents one with an experience that is as totally satisfying as your water adventures. The place echoes an undeniable rural appeal, and you get a dose of that just by admiring the houses that are set against towering limestone rocks, or from fishermen with their freshest and biggest catch whom you meet while you make your way to the market. You can also wait for the sunset in Corong-Corong while you observe the nearby fishing village go on with its daily life. Alternatively, you can head to Las Cabanas, a private beach which is a 10-minute tricycle ride from the town center. Here, you can also enjoy the sunset while you ogle at the grandness of Pinagbuyutan Island nearby. If it is an experience that you don’t want to really forget, dare to climb the Taraw, the cliffs providing a scenic backdrop to El Nido town proper, for an aerial view of the place. My love affair with El Nido started in 2010 when I went to Palawan to celebrate my birthday. I have been returning every year since,

each time finding myself coming back sooner than I expected to. During my first visit, I remember Typhoon Juan was still threatening the country and the weather that greeted me in El Nido was just depressing. If not for the imposing beauty of Cadlao Island and the enchanting vibe of this little town, I would have taken the next trip out of El Nido. I was alone for my birthday and I certainly didn’t want to celebrate it within the four walls of my native room. But El Nido knows how to reward its visitors who endure the six-hour trip from Puerto Princesa, the last hour of which is spent on a rough road, or those who brave the tiring six-to-eight-hour boat ride from Coron, which I tried during my last visit to the island in March this year. This is why more than getting interested in the prolonged Manila chasing scene in The Bourne Legacy, I found myself feeling more excited at the kind of life awaiting the characters that Renner and Weisz play in the movie when they were shown traveling in El Nido. El Nido, obviously, was a fitting finale to all their adventures. It is a new horizon that promises rugged fun and soulful journeys. I am sure they are going to find the sense of bliss and tranquility that I love about El Nido, which every traveler has also found in these islands. (GMA News) n

THE MALLS AS TOWN CENTERS From page 25

pinos caused all our problems.” There was apparently a time when Greek merchant ships were manned by Greek sailors. The sailors were paid their usual European rates which enabled them to build houses and support families back in Greece and maybe a few other ports in between. Then some wise guy discovered Filipinos who were willing to do the same work for a little more than a fourth of the going rate. As a bonus, Filipinos worked hard and didn’t complain as much as the Greeks. Little by little more Filipinos displaced Greeks. When the crisis came and there was a worldwide surplus of bottoms, the ship owners had to lay off their fellow Greeks because they simply could no longer afford them. With many ships lying idle at anchor in Singapore, it was a lot cheaper to have Filipino crew on board. Today the world maritime in-

dustry would be lost without the Filipino sailors and our economy would be simply miserable without their remittances. That’s why from our perspective as Pinoy consumers it seems the world economic crisis is a fiction being peddled by media to sell newspapers or TV news programs. We added another leg to our economy that promises to be as hot as OFWs --- call centers and the BPO (business process outsourcing) industry. Again, pricing the value of our labor higher than local wages but well below international was the secret of success. Talent and skills are assumed comparable. No wonder final consumption expenditure as a percentage of GDP was last reported at 88.08 in 2011, according to a World Bank report published in 2012. That’s very high and one wonders if it is

Remittances are the one key factor driving the local economy. sustainable. That 2009 World Bank blog made an observation that I think is still applicable today. “Empirical research finds that, on the whole, remittances have been countercyclical in the Philippines. This time, as the downturn is truly global both in terms of geographic reach and scope of jobs affected, one of the strengths of the Filipino Diaspora, namely its diversification in terms of geography and skills, will be less effective this time.” There is no doubt the malls will

Could all these people really be buying something or are most of them just enjoying the free air conditioning? continue to be the town center of our communities in the foreseeable future. But government ought to prepare for the day when the music of rushing dollars from OFW remittances slows down or end. Some say it is wrong to channel all those remittances to consumption. OFW families must be given investment options that can be pooled to help finance vital in-

frastructure that would enable the economy to more than survive the end of the era of remittances. But we as a people are not culturally inclined to think too long term. We drink and get merry today and as for the future… bahala na. That philosophy may work for some people but I wonder if it is a wise one for a country to have. (The Philippine Star) n


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PNOY SUSPENDS 3 BRIDGE PROJECTS DUE TO OVERPRICING

The Malampaya platform off Palawan

PLUNDER CASE SOUGHT OVER MALAMPAYA FUND MESS

M

AKE them pay. Former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Palawan officials should be charged with plunder for the misuse of P2.3 billion in profits from the Malampaya gas project, a Catholic bishop and the daughter of slain Palawan broadcaster Gerry Ortega said. Puerto Princessa Bishop Pedro Arigo and Mika Ortega cited two Commission on Audit reports that discovered anomalies in projects funded by Malampaya funds in 2008. They said Arroyo should be held responsible for entering into an agreement with the provincial government that was “designed to plunder” the Malampaya funds. “Definitely…the interim sharing agreement with the national government was crafted so that they could feast on the funds,” Arigo said in a press conference at the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) headquarters in Intramuros, Manila. “It was designed for plunder,” stressed Mika. Arigo said he believes Mika’s father was assassinated because he exposed the anomalies in the use of the Malampaya funds. “This interim sharing agreement was done secretly and it just so happened that Gerry Ortega was a board member and he learned about it and

exposed it. Otherwise, no one would have known about it,” Arigo said. Lawyer Harry Roque Jr. said the sharing agreement, set out in Arroyo’s Executive Order No. 363, allowed the national government to release the funds to the provincial government without oversight from Congress. “It was drafted to facilitate graft because there is no mechanism for accountability. It does not require a law saying how the funds should be used. The funds are not included in the national budget,” Roque said. “This is worse than the pork barrel. At least the pork barrel is included in the national budget,” he added. To prove their point, Arigo, Ortega and Roque presented at the press conference the second COA report which found six anomalies in the projects funded by P520 million in Malampaya funds in the second congressional district of Palawan. The COA noted that 43 invitations to bid for 109 infrastructure projects worth P493 million were not posted in the Government Electronic Procure-

ment System site as required by law. It said nine roads, highways and bridges worth P170.4 million that were reported “100-percent complete” were found to be “with major deficiencies” due to undelivered materials worth over P5 million. “Deficiencies in the construction of school buildings estimated at P1.9 million were found in 40 projects covered by 15 contracts,” the COA report said. The agency cited nondelivery or underdelivery of materials, and the inferior quality of materials as causes. It also noted that 36 projects were awarded to contractors who were “previously awarded contracts with more or less the same, if not overlapping, periods of execution.” Liquidated damages worth P1.45 million were also not imposed for 11 unfinished projects, including a school building. The report added that eight of the 12 material engineers involved in the multiple projects had “exceeded the limits of assignment” in violation of the condition of their accreditation with the Department of Public Works and Highways. Mika urged the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to investigate the misuse of Malampaya funds and for Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales to pursue the charges against those responsible. n

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III has ordered the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to suspend the construction of three bridges costing P20 billion amid charges of multibillion-peso kickbacks from the projects during the Arroyo administration. Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda confirmed that the President had agreed to the recommendation of the DPWH to suspend the projects, which were approved by the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) and had financing from Britain, Austria and Spain. The DPWH had to freeze the projects as a Senate inquiry into the bridge program had turned up irregular transactions involving pricing and implementation during the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The projects were largely brokered by Ang Kasangga Rep. Teodoro Haresco. Lacierda, however, could not identify the specific bridge projects to be affected by the President’s order. He said the President had criticized the projects in previous public speeches. “Certainly we’re not going to [proceed with projects] that the President [had found irregular],” he said. Sen. Sergio Osmeña III said the bridges were constructed under the President’s Bridges Program, which began during the administration of President Fidel V. Ramos. But it was during the Arroyo administration that most of the P111 billion allotted for the program was spent, Osmeña said. Osmeña said the program involved steel bridges and he estimated that P10 billion to P15 billion could have ended up in private pockets due to “irregularities” in the program. “This amount could have been divided among several people. Many received money, including those who attended these hearings,” Osmeña said. He said he believed it was Arroyo who could best explain the auction of the contracts for the construction of 14 steel bridges during her administration. Some of the bridges remained unfinished, Osmeña said. Osmeña said he had invited two former public works secretaries— Zambales Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane and Deputy Speaker Simeon

Datumanong; former Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman and former Finance Secretary Juanita Amatong to shed light on the bridges program implemented by the Arroyo administration. Osmeña said he wanted Arroyo to explain why she placed the bridges program, which is partly funded by foreign grants, directly under the Office of the President (OP) during the early part of her presidency. He said he found this irregular because other public works projects were also partly funded by foreign grants but were not placed under the OP. Osmeña said the bridges program was later placed under the DPWH “but (Arroyo) put a protégé there so she could still control the funds.” Osmeña also questioned why some of the projects were selectively placed under Malacañang’s supervision through the program while others were examined by the DPWH’s planning services before approval. Osmeña questioned why the projects were managed under the Office of the President when it was just an infrastructure project. Incumbent DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson said that at the time, the PBP was under the Office of the President and was being implemented by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG). “Why should the [office of the president] set up a different project office when there was already an office under the [DPWH]?” Osmeña said. He also cited the significant difference in the costs of the projects allocated between the PBP office and regular DPWH bridges office. Singson said that “projects under the PBP were initiated by the president, unlike the others which were initiated by the DPWH under the regular bridges program and all were on national roads.” n


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NEWSROUND-UP

MALVERSATION RAPS VS ARROYO DISMISSED

Arroyo gets off the hook this time. THE Office of the Ombudsman has dismissed for lack of evidence charges against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in connection with the alleged diversion of more than P500 million meant for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to her election campaign in 2004. A 47-page memorandum and an 11-page supplemental memorandum issued by a panel of investigators and approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales found no sufficient evidence against Arroyo, now a Pam-

panga representative, and 11 other officials of her administration. The two charges of technical malversation allegedly using funds of the Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration (Owwa) were recommended by the Department of Justice (DOJ). The first charge scratched involved P539,382,446 allegedly transferred from the Owwa Medical Fund to Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PHIC) and purportedly used in Arroyo’s 2004 presidential campaign. Respondents, aside from Arroyo, were then PHIC president and CEO Francisco Duque III, former Executive Secretary Alberto Romulo, former Owwa board chair Patricia Sto. Tomas and board members Virgilio Angelo, Manuel Imson, Rosalinda Baldoz, Mina Figueroa, Caroline Rogge, Victorino Balais, Gregorio Oca and Virginia Pasalo. The second charge concerned the alleged irregular transfer of Owwa funds involving $293,500, which at the current exchange rate of P41.3 to a dollar totals P12.1 million, and another P5 million all for various acquisitions and activities of Philippine

posts abroad. The memo said there was no evidence to establish that the accused misused or misappropriated the funds intended for OFWs and that the amounts actually reached intended beneficiaries. The 65-year-old Arroyo, now a Pampanga representative, is also facing charges of election sabotage and plunder and is on hospital arrest. She is suffering from a rare neck ailment. Each Filipino going overseas to work is asked to pay the government $25 upon departure for insurance and healthcare, loan guarantee fund, education and training, social services and family welfare assistance and worker assistance and on-site services. There is an estimated 8 million Filipinos working overseas. The charges against Arroyo and the other respondents stemmed from the complaints for plunder, graft and corruption, malversation of public funds, qualified theft and violations of the Omnibus Election Code and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards filed by former Solicitor General Francisco Chavez and the leftist group

PRESIDENT’S RATING BACK TO ‘VERY GOOD’ THE Aquino administration’s net satisfaction rating bounced back to a “very good” net satisfaction rating of plus 62, gaining 18 points from the preceding quarter’s “good” net rating of plus 44, results of the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed. The survey, which used face-toface interviews with 1,200 respondents, found that 72 percent of the respondents were satisfied, 17 percent were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied and 10 percent were dissatisfied with the administration’s general performance. SWS noted that the administration’s satisfaction rating was just two points short of its record rating of plus 64 in September and November 2010. SWS considers net satisfaction ratings of plus 70 and above as “excellent”; plus 50 to plus 69, “very good”; plus 30 to plus 49, “good”; plus 10 to plus 29, “moderate”; plus 9 to minus 9, “neutral”; minus 10 to minus 29, “poor”; minus 30 to minus 49, “bad”; minus 50 to minus 69, “very bad,” and minus 70 and below, “execrable.” The survey, conducted from Aug. 24 to 27, has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3 percentage points. SWS also asked respondents to rate the Aquino administration on 18 different issues. The results showed that the respondents were most satisfied with how the administration was helping victims of disasters as it scored an “excellent” plus 73. The administration posted “very good” scores in promoting the welfare of overseas Filipino workers (plus 54), in helping the poor (plus 59), in han-

President Aquino departs for state visit to Australia and New Zealand. dling foreign relations (plus 51), and in defending the country’s territorial rights (plus 50). It scored “good” satisfaction ratings in the following: Distributing lands (plus 45), transparency (plus 44), fighting terrorism (plus 43), providing jobs (plus 43), fighting crime (plus 42), eradicating graft and corruption (plus 40), reconciliation with Moro rebels (plus 33), and reconciliation with communist rebels (plus 31). “Moderate” ratings were posted in the following: Fighting inflation (plus 19), ensuring that no family would go hungry (plus 26), and ensuring that oil firms don’t take advantage of oil price increases (plus 13). The administration’s only negative score was a “neutral” negative 4 on resolving the Maguindanao massacre case with justice, but this was a significant improvement from its “poor” negative 16 rating in May. Across geographic areas, the ad-

ministration’s satisfaction rating rose to a record high in the Visayas, increasing from a “moderate” plus 29 in May to a “very good” plus 64 this August. The survey also showed that the rating increased by 20 percentage points in the rest of Luzon, from a “good” plus 45 in May to a “very good” plus 65 in August. The rating also increased from a “good” plus 41 to a “very good” plus 56 in Metro Manila, while it remained almost unchanged in the Mindanao from plus 58 to plus 59. Across socioeconomic classes, the administration’s net satisfaction scores increased among members of Class ABC, from “moderate” plus 27 in May to “very good” plus 69 in August, as well as among the “masa” Class D, from “good” plus 44 to “very good” plus 62. Net satisfaction among the poorest Class E remained “very good” at a rating plus 60. n

Migrante in the DOJ. Chavez and company alleged that Arroyo and her former officials had “systematically” orchestrated the diversion and misuse of the P540-million Owwa fund for “questionable” acquisitions and electioneering in 2004. In the decision, the Ombudsman said the questioned fund transfer to PHIC was in accordance with Republic

Act No. 7875 (Philhealth Law) as confirmed by DOJ Opinion No. 25 signed by then Justice Secretary Teofisto Guingona Jr. The Ombudsman rejected allegations that Arroyo’s desire to provide insurance to 8 million indigents at the end of 2003 was meant to improve her winning chances in the 2004 presidential election. n

AQUINO SEES IMPROVING TIES WITH CHINA

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III said he hopes the new leaders who take over China in November can improve bilateral ties that were strained following a standoff early this year at a disputed shoal in the South China Sea. Relations have slightly improved due to recent talks, Aquino said, and since Philippine ships pulled out of the Scarborough Shoal. He said Chinese vessels have been in and out but there is freedom of navigation. But the core issue — who has sovereign rights over the tiny, uninhabited rocks off the northern Philippine island of Luzon — has not been resolved and overshadows relations. The Philippines wants international arbitration, which Beijing has ruled out. Manila also wants a broader agreement between China and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations to tackle the disputes, while China prefers to negotiate individually with each claimant. Aquino said he is hopeful that after the transition to a new leadership — when top leaders of the ruling Communist Party take over next month — Chinese domestic pressures will ease and “there will be more room to negotiate on a more reasonable term and less ultranationalist tones.” The Chinese public was vocal in challenging Manila over the shoal, canceling vacations to the Philippines and urging the government to stand firm. Various longstanding disputes involving China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei are over islands that straddle busy shipping lanes in the South China Sea that are believed to be rich in oil and gas deposits. Many fear the disputes could spark bigger conflicts. Aquino said China recently initiated discussions to resolve the issue and both parties were adhering to the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. “There is some degree of change in terms of a little bettering of the situation — I have to emphasize a little bettering — of the situation compared to where it was at the height of the tensions,” Aquino

told international media in Manila. “But we’re still a long way off from really getting back to where it was.” He expressed hope a solution can be found that satisfies multilateral concerns. Aquino said the Philippines is trying to ease tensions, saying the government asked a petroleum company that was awarded a contract to explore oil deposits in another contested area to coordinate its activities with authorities to avoid causing any conflicts. The area, Reed Bank, is where two Chinese ships tried to drive away a Philippine oil exploration vessel in March last year. On Oct. 19, the President met with China’s Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying in Malacañang. Fu, who was in Manila for the 18th Foreign Ministry Consultations between the Philippines and China, paid a courtesy call on the President. “Hopefully it will contribute to us moving forward,” Undersecretary Abigail Valte, deputy presidential spokesperson, told reporters in a briefing before the call, pointing out that the meeting was held in a year of friendly exchanges between the two countries. Malacañang deferred to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to disclose details of the Aquino-Fu meeting. A day earlier, on Oct. 18, Fu visited Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile at the latter’s office in the Senate. Fu was reportedly the Chinese official who had back-channel talks with Senator Antonio Trillanes IV over the territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea. It will be recalled that it was Enrile who disclosed Trillanes’s backchannel talks with the Chinese. Enrile said they discussed Chinese history, Philippine economy and world politics. He said there was no discussion about the two countries’ dispute over territories in the West Philippine Sea. Fu also called on Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario and cohosted the consultations with Foreign Undersecretary Erlinda Basilio. It was the first official high-level talks between the two countries since a maritime dispute erupted in April. n


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NEWSROUND-UP

NAIA-1 REHAB COMPLETE BY 2014

THE government pushed back the deadline to complete the structural and beautification works on Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 (NAIA-1), considered the “world’s worst airport.” Newly installed Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya told a press briefing that the P1.64-billion-worth rehabilitation and facelift of the airport terminal will take “18 to 19 months” to complete. Thus, instead of the previous target of mid-2013, the new deadline is now early to mid-2014. The delay was largely due to issues regarding building standards to follow in addressing the terminal’s airport defects. “More of our concerns are the structural defects of Terminal 1,” Abaya told reporters. The DOTC wanted performancebased standards, but the assigned agency, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) had expertise only for code-based standards. “The government agency that certifies that the rehabilitation design is safe and acceptable to Philippine standards is [DPWH] which is used to code-based design. In our evaluation...there are advantages to the performance of code-based design.

“First [is that it will] not [involve the] shut down of NAIA-1, and second, it is done shorter period of time probably little less cost,” he explained. “The issue that was pending was: Is DPWH willing to certify? Initially there were discussion...but [DPWH] eventually admitted [they] didn’t have the expertise [and] experience to certify the performancebased designs,” he added. “Once design is approved after a month, the rehab could be completed,” he said, adding that foreign consultants Ove Arup & Partners HK Ltd. was tapped to undertake the design of NAIA-1. Last September, the Budget Department approved the funds, which are more than the P1.16 billion declared by former Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) Mar Roxas last January. The higher budget covers efforts to address runway congestion. Of the approved budget, P500 million has been allocated for architectural, engineering, and interior design and works to improve the internal facilities. Another P300 million will be spent on the construction of a rapid exit taxiway, and P20 million for the complete rehabilitation of 72 toilets. n

GOV’T WAVERS ON CLARK AS MAIN GATEWAY UNDER a new leader, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is now wavering on its original plan to make the airport in Clark, Pampanga, the main gateway to the Philippines. Joseph Abaya, who held his first press briefing as DOTC Secretary on Oct. 22, said that despite the pressing congestion issues at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) located in capital Manila, the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) in a sprawling area in Clark is not yet the sure-fire alternative. “Clearly there is no decision yet, based on what I’ve heard and how I’ve been briefed, that we’re really going to Clark,” he told reporters, highlighting issues he inherited, particularly the long-stalled NorthRail project meant to ease access between Manila and Clark. “I’m still trying to form if there is indeed a consensus to move there because there are a lot of conditions before that could be viable, (such as) the study of a speed rail (and) the winding down of NorthRail. So there’s a lot of prerequisites before you could clearly say we are definitely moving to Clark,” he added. Under previous Transportation Secretaries Jose “Ping” de Jesus and Mar Roxas, the government had supported a strategy of transferring the main international aviation activities to DMIA, which sits on a former US air force base and has opportunities for future expansion given the exponen-

tial growth in the airline industry. In late September, a group representing global airlines, International Air Transport Association (IATA), objected to the plan pointing out that Clark is far from Metro Manila and difficult to access. Clark is about 80 kilometers from the capital and the China-funded NorthRail project, which was meant to speedily move passengers that distance, has been stalled. Moreover, a member of IATA, Philippine Airlines (PAL) has proposed to build an international airport close to Manila. The flag carrier which is managed by San Miguel Corp. has yet to disclose the location of the proposed new airport but has said it will be closer to Manila. PAL President Ramon Ang said the group was already in talks with investors as of August. Clark has not been completely shelved. Abaya pointed out that the location still has a number of advantages. “Really, the advantage of Clark despite its distance is the existing infrastructure and the available area. It will be quite challenging to find a 2,000 to 2,000 plus hectare property completely cleared with an existing runway and a half. Malaking advantage yun,” he said. He denied that there is an official proposal to construct a closer airport in Bulacan. “We have not heard formally from anyone who wants to build an airport in Bulacan,” said Abaya. n

NAIA RELAXES RULES ON SHOE INSPECTION THE Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) has announced that it will be relaxing its rules on shoe inspections starting November 1. “Beginning November 1, 2012, shoe inspections at the final security checkpoints in the departure areas of all NAIA terminals shall no longer be mandatory under NORMAL ALERT conditions,” Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) general manager Jose Angel Honrado said in a press release. This, Honrado said, means that se-

curity screeners shall ask passengers to remove their shoes only if the walk-thru metal detector alarm sounds off, or if the passenger is randomly selected for shoe screening. The random screening will be done every 10-20 passengers, the official said. The said relaxing of rules has been set by the NAIA Airport Security Committee, with the concurrence of the Office for Transportation Security of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC). However, all passengers bound for

the United States shall still implement shoe inspections at the boarding areas, as it is a requirement by the US Department of Homeland Security. On High Alert Level situations, the shoe inspection is again mandatory, Honrado added. This is usually during high-security situations, such as possible terrorist attacks. Airport security in the Philippines and in airports around the world have increased during the past decade, mainly due to the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States. n

MISUARI: ARMED STRUGGLE ROXAS TO POLICE: STOP REMAINS AN OPTION

MNLF chief Misuari casts doubt on peace deal. MORO leader Nur Misuari on Sunday told his followers here that armed struggle remained an option for the Moro National Liberation Front to advance the cause of the Bangsamoro people even if the MNLF signed a peace agreement with the government in 1996. “Armed struggle as an option is always there. But we are committed to our peace advocacy,” he said. Arriving on trucks and in cars, some 7,000 MNLF members in neatly pressed fatigues and supporters, including women in colorful hijabs and children, gathered at Crocodile Park on Oct. 21 for a summit called by Misuari. The summit was held in connection with the framework agreement the government has signed with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a group that broke away from the MNLF in 1977. The MILF, then headed by Sheik Salamat Hashim, opposed Misuari’s acceptance of autonomy under the Tripoli Agreement of 1976. Amid chants of “Allahu Akbar (God is Great),” Misuari addressed his followers who came from various parts of Mindanao and repeatedly said that the framework agreement was “unacceptable” and could trigger a bigger war on the islands.

“Of course we cannot accept it. It would be another recipe for war,” Misuari said. He added that it was a conspiracy to dilute the gains of the 1996 peace pact, drawing a roar of approval from the crowd. The creation of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Misuari said, was one of the fruits of the 1996 agreement but was being threatened by the framework agreement. Under the framework agreement, the government and the MILF agree to expand the areas covered by the ARMM. Misuari urged his followers to “do anything to block the conspiracy between the MILF and the Philippine colonizers because this is a complete surrender and a betrayal of the trust of the people.” But even as he called on his followers to stop the “conspiracy,” Misuari said MNLF members should not immediately resort to violence in their efforts to uphold the interest of the Bangsamoro people. While Misuari was obviously saber-rattling over the government-MILF deal, rival factions of the country’s communist movement were one in commending the MILF on the agreement, which they described as a landmark. “The forging of the … framework agreement is the result of the steadfast efforts of the MILF and the Moro people to attain their aspiration for national selfdetermination through revolutionary armed struggle and political negotiations,” the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said in a statement. The CPP, however, cautioned the MILF against being taken for a ride by the government, especially since the details on power and wealth-sharing and normalization were still to be fleshed out. n

‘JUETENG’

BEFORE police and local officials, including the wife of alleged “jueteng” lord Rodolfo “Bong” Pineda, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II ordered the police on Oct. 24 to stop the illegal numbers racket in Pampanga. Roxas gave the order during the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) meeting that was attended by Gov. Lilia “Baby” Pineda. Bong Pineda had been investigated by the Senate for allegedly running jueteng in Pampanga and other Luzon provinces. “My ‘mystery shoppers,’ who are civilians, placed bets on jueteng and I have the pieces of paper [where the number pairs that they bet on were written], to show that jueteng is still being played here,” Roxas said. He raised the matter after Pineda reported that the cooperation of the police and local and provincial governments had brought down the number of crime incidents in Pampanga. Senior Supt. R’Win Pagkalinawan, Pampanga police director, denied reports that jueteng continued to be played in the province. When Chief Supt. Edgardo Ladao, Central Luzon police director, tried to explain the status of the governmentsanctioned Small Town Lottery (STL) and its difference from jueteng, Roxas cut him short and said: “It is not for you to say what is legal or not.” Roxas then turned to Pagkalinawan and said: “I’m giving you a chance to review your data.” “I can show you the papelitos …. I’m not joking about this,” Roxas said. Pineda did not dispute Roxas’ information. She stayed in her seat, quiet during the entire discussion. She left when Roxas adjourned the meeting. Pagkalinawan said the illegal numbers game discovered in Pampanga was the card game sakla in Porac town. He could not say if Roxas’ informants placed bets with STL employees. “But we can verify if they are legitimate STL employees because we have a list of those,” he said. Later at a press briefing, Roxas said he had “independently verified” the existence of jueteng in Pampanga. “I expect this to be stopped,” he said. n


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